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

The Seekers of Truth and The Traveler

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#1
Here's an eclectic mix of series to tell a story with. After no small of poking and prodding from the team, Legends: A Story of Lies is coming here too. Enjoy a story full of mystery, magic, monsters, and people getting punched in the face.


= - = 1 = - =

Disclaimer: The following is a fanfiction. Gravity Falls, Star vs. The Forces of Evil, Kim Possible, and Big Bad Beetleborgs are property of their respective owners, creators, and publishers. Please support the official releases. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

TW: This story will contain original characters, references to physical and psychological abuse, murder, and torture.

Notes:
"These are a character's words." = Regular speech.
These are a character's thoughts. = Internal speech otherwise unheard by others.
"When a character's words are like this." = Italicized for emphasis.

|The Seekers of Truth|

Over 1500 planes land per day at Los Angeles International Airport. Coming from all over the world, they range from single-engine civil prop planes flown to massive two and four engine jet airliners carrying hundreds of people. On this bright and sunny Saturday morning, one plane in particular caught more than a few eyes as it lined up with the runway and began its final approach. Like the other intercontinental-range jets it was a twin-engine, wide-body aircraft, but painted a splash of wild blues, whites, and reds, with numerous WW2 and onward era aircraft flying in formation towards the nose of the plane. In white letters above the windows and over the wing, the words The Faithful Pony’s Flying Circus ended with the image of a little blue pegasus dashing with a rainbow streak behind it.

Inside the terminal, two travelers were waiting for their ride out of the airport. A set of twins–a brown-haired boy and a girl–the rather tall boy wore a lumberjack’s cap, a pair of cargo pants, and orange t-shirt with a blue pine tree on the front; while his statuesque sister was wearing a large, loose violet sweater over a black top and a bright pink skirt over dark leggings. They were huddled close together, watching the screen of a tablet computer showing a youtube channel with a loading stream.

The screen came to life, revealing the view of a fogged up camera.

“Guess who?” A girl’s voice said before a finger wiped the fog, revealing the grinning face a girl about the same age as the teen twins. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, with a pair of heart-shaped marks on her fair-skinned cheeks, she wore a dark green dress with a red devil-horn headband and a spider-shaped necklace as accessories. “It’s me, Star!”

Star moved the laptop around and repositioned herself to reveal she was sitting on a bathroom sink. “I have some exciting news for you. Well, first, Marco got kidnapped, and I blew up a bunch of stuff, including my wand.”

Star moved the laptop to her left hand so she could reach into the sink’s drawer. “And I was super bummed because I thought I was never gonna get to do magic again, but then I got… my new wa-!”

She stopped, realizing she;d whipped out a brush with a piece of gum stuck on it. “Oh.” Rapidly she swapped it out for a pink and gold scepter with wings sprouted from its head. The face of the wand sported a single bright gold star that half of was completely black. “My new wand!”

Almost as an afterthought, Star added. “Oh and Marco’s okay. Say hi Marco!”

The camera’s view became a blur, moving until it stopped on a light brown-skinned, brown-eyed young man with a beauty mark under his right eye, wrapped in a floral-print bath towel, pulling another around his head. Seeing the camera pointed at him, he lunged towards it. “Hey-!”

The camera went dark and the stream came to a sudden end.

Dipper Pines held the tablet out when it didn’t come back on. “Wait, that’s it? A week and a half of nothing and then less than a minute of stream.”

His sister Mabel was of a different opinion. “Seeing Marco fresh out the shower was well worth the wait.”

Dipper gave his sister a flat look. “Could you focus?”

Mabel smirked, giving him a wry look. “Whatever, you liked it.”

Dipper rolled his eyes. “It sounds like a lot has happened, but at least she’s still here in our world.”

The smirk on his sister’s face turned into a beatific grin. “Yeah, and we’re actually gonna meet her!” She placed her hands over her heart. “We’re going to be the best friends ever!”

“Yeah, and maybe the world won’t come to a horrifying end,” Dipper added.

Years ago, the two spent a summer with their Great Uncle in a remote, heavily forested, and off-beat town called Gravity Falls, Oregon. What would’ve been a boring summer for two kids straight out of the rich part of the Bay Area turned into supernatural, disturbing, and outright apocalyptic adventures to determine the fate of everything from pet pigs to the entire universe. It left an impression on the two that brought them to Los Angeles to spend a school year in the sprawling metropolis locked in an eternal summer.

Princess Star Butterfly, a magical girl from another world, had come to live among humans in their world–and was actively blogging her exploits in the town of Echo Creek in northern Los Angeles. Whereas most people dismissed the bright colors and magical explosions as Hollywood high technology special effects for a way overproduced web series, Dipper–well-experienced with the weird and paranormal–knew a supernatural anomaly when he saw it.

After a lot of wrangling with their parents, and a lot of Mabel’s sheer charisma bolstering his argument, the twins were here in Los Angeles to meet Star. Dipper wanted to record data on Star to learn more about her, her magic, and her world (to make certain that she, it, and anything associated with either wasn’t a threat to reality). Mabel, being the effervescent and outgoing person she was, wanted to be best friends with the girliest girl that could beat up monsters she’d ever seen.

“On that note,” Dipper said, “Did you see her wand? There was something definitely wrong with it, why was half of it black?”

“Well, it is her new wand.” Mabel took an instant to think. “Oh, maybe it’s an edgy new upgrade, to reflect the dark turn of Marco getting kidnapped.”

“That’s another thing that bothered me,” Dipper said as he leaned back into his seat and watched a taxiing jumbo jet pass by. “Someone kidnapped Marco, and forced Star to blow up her wand? That doesn’t sound like something the monsters they’ve been fighting could push her to do.”

“She didn’t seem too concerned about it, she did kinda just mention that Marco was fine like it wasn’t a big thing.”

Dipper’s resolve to find out why only hardened. “These are just more questions to answer.”

A flash of color caught his eye, and both twins looked up in time to see the bright livery of The Faithful Pony’s Flying Circus pass as it made its landing roll. Dipper nearly rose from his chair, to follow the plane. “Hey, look at that.”

“Wow, that was a cute paint job!” Mabel got up entirely and went to the window. “Did it say what airline it was?”

“I didn’t see.”

Mabel heard a buzzing from the bright pink purse she carried on her. She pulled out her sleek smartphone–with a cat shaped protective case and a shooting star sticker on the back–and looked at the message. “Sherpa said he’s three lights away from the airport.

Dipper nodded and got up. “Let’s go meet him.”

While the two began their long walk towards the terminal main entrance, a black-haired woman wearing a green shirt and tight black pants standing further the other direction watched the colorful plain turn off the runway. Getting up and slipping on a thin black jacket over her shirt, she tapped an earpiece and spoke quietly. “The plane just landed. You’d better be in position.”

“You bet, I’m waiting at the front right now, Green Machine,” a young man with a Spanish accent answered.

The woman rolled her eyes. “I know that this is your scheme, and it’s a good one, but next time we do this? I’m choosing the codenames, Latin Fire.”

“Of course,” the young man assured her. “Now please, hurry up?”

Her smirk bearing a sinister confidence, the woman headed in the same direction as the twins.

|The Traveler|

Pulling up to the terminal, The Faithful Pony’s Flying Circus came to a stop and the terminal’s air tunnel connected the plane to the building. In spite of the size of the aircraft and the distance it traveled, only one passenger disembarked from the massive jet. A short and curvy teenaged girl with long violet hair filled with streaks of white, stepped out of the gate and into the terminal. She wore a red dress under a blue jean jacket, and a cream-colored sun hat with a red ribbon. Stepping out of the tunnel, she looked back to the flight crew following her off and bowed.

“Danke, dass ihr auf mich aufgepasst habt!” Coming up from her bow, she wore a brilliant smile radiating her gratitude for both their fine flying, and for finally being on the ground after twelve hours of non-stop flight.

The pilot and co-pilot both tipped their hats to the young woman. “Gern geschehen, Miss Darlian.”

She waved and turned to head into the terminal. “Bye bye!”

Misao Darlian, a Swiss-born girl of Japanese and German mixed descent walked with a spring in her step and a gleam in her gray-colored eyes, onto a moving sidewalk that would take her to the front of the terminal.

It was her last year of high school, and after grade school in Germany and both middle and high school in the south of France, she wanted to go out with a bang on her senior year: High School in the United States of America–specifically in beautiful Beverly Hills, where she would spend her days making friends, flirting shamelessly, and enjoying every summer-like day until graduation absorbing the American zeitgeist. It was going to be wonderful.

The moving walkway passed a set of tall ultra high definition television screens against the wall opposite the window. As Misao looked up at the first monitor, she saw a comic book page featuring three high tech warriors in blue, red, and green beetle-themed armor firing blasters at a horde of monsters surrounding them.

“Big Bad Beetleborg Movie in doubt,” the caption read, “Second director for the film withdraws from the project, citing mental health-related reasons.”

Misao looked at the news report puzzled. She wasn’t really too keen on superhero movies, but she always imagined that they’d be fun or exciting to make. Not this one it seemed. It didn’t matter much to her, comic book superheroes weren’t really her interest.

On the very next screen, was a news report featuring a red-haired young woman in a midriff-baring shirt and cargo pants battling a short Scotsman armed with golf clubs. The redhead, fighting with gymnastic agility and kung fu, was making short work of the golf club swinging maniac as bystanders ran for cover on a crowded Golf Course.

The headline read: “Kim Possible defeats Duff Killigan, saves newly opened golf course from destruction.”

Misao smiled. Nodding her approval of a real hero, she looked to the last screen, and an advertisement displaying a sitcom starring an African American family.

“A family that takes the stage together, stays together!” The tag-line read above the smiling father, mother, adult daughter, teen son, and preteen daughter. Off to the side, an elderly pair, clearly a grandfather and grandmother, stood back to back with their arms folded and looking sassy with their raised eyebrows and wise smirks. “From Our Family to Yours: the Family Sitcom starring a real family! Tonight at 8!”

The Haleys, America’s most popular family on this side of an animation studio. To the surprise of Misao and her family, when she applied for the exchange program in the US, they were the first people to offer their home to her. Without a second thought in turn, Misao jumped at the chance to live with them and rub elbows with Hollywood elite.

Du musst diese Serie gucken. She thought to herself as she looked in particular at the suave styled teen son in the picture. He was a handsome young man with a mohawk haircut and a diamond pattern cut into the much shorter hair surrounding the strip.

Wenigstens die letzte Folge… She added to the end of her thought with a giggle. Ob ick wohl jemand bekanntes treffe? Wir sind schließlich in Hollywood…

Stepping off the moving walkway and making a right, she merged with Dipper and Mabel making a left from the other direction.

“I hope Waddles will be okay taking the long way here,” Mabel said to her brother, unaware of the girl beside them.

Dipper sighed. “I still can’t believe you insisted he come with you.”

“He’d be crawling up the walls back home without me.”

Dipper sucked in some air through the corner of his mouth. “Yeah, but I’m not sure about Grandpa…”

Mabel was insistent on the brighter side. “If Grunkle Stan was able to fight dinosaurs for him, then Sherpa won’t be bothered; no one can say no to a face like Waddles!”

On the second mention of Waddles, Misao looked up at the tall girl and her brother, and her eyes widened in recognition. With eager bounce in her step, she sidled a little closer to them. “Excuse me?”

Hearing German-tipped English, Mabel looked down at the small and round girl walking beside them. She lit up. “Hello! What can I do for you?”

“Are you… Mabel?” Misao asked. “The girl from YouTube with the guide to life?”

“Huh…?” Dipper looked at Misao, noticing right away her exotic looks. He escaped staring, looking between her and Mabel. “Uh…”

Mabel gasped. “Oh my gosh, yes! I’m Mabel, and I do have a guide to life on YouTube!”

Misao clapped her hands together, she hadn’t even left the airport! “I love your series, it’s so cute and funny!”

Dipper raised an eyebrow. Cute and funny wasn’t something he’d call his sister’s YouTube channel. Mabel shot for cute when she worked the camera, but it came off as weird, surreal, disturbing enough get her channel threatened with deletion twice, and once got them a visit from a concerned Piedmont Police Department.

“You really like it?” Mabel asked.

“Ja, my friends and I love it so much!”

Now it made sense. German sense of humor.

“Well, it is always nice to meet a fan,” Mabel humblebragged, before she extended her hand. “And who would you be?”

Misao took hers and shook it. “I’m Misao Darlian, just a humble exchange student spending her last year of high school in America.”

Mabel gasped. “Shut up! Is this your first time here?”

“My first time on my own, and definitely here in LA.”

“SHUT UP!” Mabel bounced up and down. “Oh my gosh, you’re going to love it! Los Angeles is the most exciting town in the entire world! I mean, I’ve only been here to see my Sherpa every couple of Hannukahs, but it is so amazing.”

Dipper smiled; there went Mabel, making friends with a total stranger. It was always a sight to see and enjoy, moreso when the stranger returned the enthusiasm and didn’t attempt to awkwardly withdraw.

Misao held up her phone. “I have a whole bucket list of places I want to go to.”

“Oh, oh! Me too!” Mabel pulled out her own phone.

Misao laughed. “Your case is so cute! Share notes?”

“Hehe, thank you, and yes!”

Not even out of the terminal and she already sealed the deal. Dipper had a good feeling about this trip already. Or he did until he looked ahead of them and had his own moment of recognition–though the shock wasn’t a good one.

“Rodeo Drive?” Misao asked.

“I saved up so much money for it,” Mabel replied. “Venice Beach?”

“Ja, ja!” Misao confirmed. “Chinese theater?”

“Duh. How about Randyland?”

Misao paused, and did a double-take. “… What is Randyland?”

That sounded a little dirty.

Mabel stared at Misao, like the girl had never heard of air or water. “Oh. My gosh. Add it to your list, or you will be sad forever.”

“Very well!” Misao gave her a knowing look. “I bet I know what’s next on your list.”

“Oh come on, you don’t come to Los Angeles without even thinking of going there. We’ll say it together, okay?”

Misao nodded. “Okay! Ein, zwei, drei-!”

“Disneyland!” They shouted together and burst into laughter.

“Uh, hey, Misao?” Dipper asked with the doors of the terminal coming up.

Misao, still giggling, looked over at him. “Hm? What is it?”

“Your ride’s waiting for you, right?” He slowed his pace, and both Mabel and Misao followed suit.

“Hm, my host family was sending a driver, yes,” Misao confirmed. Looking ahead, she saw a swarthy, handsome, broad shouldered man holding a sign with her name on it. “Ohh… I hope that’s him~”

“I don’t think it is,” Dipper warned. “Don’t make eye contact, because I’m pretty sure that’s Señor Senior Junior.”

Misao performed a discrete doubletake with disbelief. “Wait–the supervillain?”

Mabel looked ahead at the chauffeur's face, and a blush broke out across hers. “Oh man, I’d let him kidnap me anyday.”

For the life of him, Dipper couldn’t even imagine why the son of a world renowned thief and general menace was here trying to pick up a random German girl. He was, however, thankful that his preoccupation with the strange and unknown made it easy to spot him. “Just keep walking, pretend you don’t see him.”

“Mmhm, I know what to do in these situations,” Misao assured Dipper, though she was a little impressed with his decisive manner.
The “chauffeur” smiled when he saw his mark, talking with two other pretty tall kids, and held his sign a little higher. He held it higher still as they walked closer to him without her noticing.

“Excuse me, Miss Darlian?” He called after her with an obvious Spanish accent and whiny inflection that implied a distinct passiveness. “I am your chauffeur? To be bringing you to your host family…?”

The three pointedly ignored him and kept walking.

“Miss Darlian?” He stopped. “Did she even notice me?”

The pale black-haired woman brushed past him, and he stepped back. “Take a powder, I’ll get her.”

Dipper glanced at his sister. “Mabel? Look behind us, are we being followed?”

Mabel gave a quick discreet look back, and sure enough saw the black-haired woman in green and black walking towards them–her eyes hidden behind a pair of visor sunglasses. She looked forward, a little pale. “… Dipper, I think that’s Shego.”

A cold sweat seeped from Dipper as they reached the doors. “Okay, okay… this is bad.”

Misao couldn’t agree more; Shego–the legendary henchwoman of some of the biggest names in supervillainy–being after her was more than cause for alarm.

She went to her phone. “I’m calling for help-”

“Don’t,” Dipper cut her off. “They don’t want to make a scene, so neither will we. Just be calm, pretend like nothing is happening, and we’ll get into our grandfather’s car and leave.”

Once more she looked at Dipper in surprise; it seemed like both he and his sister had their heads on their shoulders, like they were ready for this sort of thing. Passing through the doors, they right away saw a stretch limousine conveniently parked out in front of them, waiting for Misao.

Looking right and then left–and taking a quick moment to confirm the woman now all but sprinting for the door–Dipper was overcome with relief when he saw an elderly man start to get out of a white, 90s-era SUV parked just behind the limo. “There!”

He quickly took Misao’s hand, and tore off into a dash with her and Mabel.

@@@@@

In spite of being in his advanced age, Sherman “Shermie” Pines could boast he was sharper and quicker than most men half it. Tough and strong from being raised in 1940s New Jersey and spending the better part of his life in Israel, even in his retirement he kept himself well honed and alert in both body and mind. He’d fought wars, rescued hostages, and once punched an Illinois Nazi–the stuff of adventurers one could say, and he did it with a strong, straight-forward attitude. However hard he was, though, that always went out the window when it came to his Grandkids.

Dipper and Mabel, from the day they were born he adored them, and he’d happily do anything for them–all they had to do was ask. So when, out of the blue, they called to ask if they could spend a school year with him in Los Angeles? He didn’t even bother with why, he demanded when they were going to show up so he could see how they’ve grown since he last saw them.

Seeing them hurry out of the terminal doors, and then dash straight for his SUV, he was quite pleased to see that they were growing up tall and healthy like he and his little brothers did in their youth. They also didn’t hate each other, like he and his little brothers did either.

He grew concerned when he saw them sprinting towards the car like they were being chased, with Dipper nearly dragging a young woman behind him. That wasn’t normal.

He opened the door and set one foot out. Like his younger brothers Stanford and Stanley, he was a tall and broad shouldered man, but more than the once long-lost former he kept himself in a physical condition that the once shamed and forsaken latter needed a girdle to give the appearance of. Whereas his younger brothers were various shades of gray, his hair was a complete white and had gone that way when theirs was still a rich brown. As customary when meeting his grandkids, he was wearing a nice shirt and pants, with a funny bowtie that he knew his granddaughter would love.

“Grandpa Shermie!” Dipper hurried to the passenger side of the SUV and opened the back door. “We need to go!”

“Dipper, Mabel, what’s the hurry?”

“No time! We gotta go, a hot scary lady’s after us!” Mabel ushered Misao around the SUV and into the backseat, then climbed in herself. “I love your tie!”

Dipper scrambled into the SUV and ducked down, and Shermie looked down at him. “Oy gevalt, you're just getting into LA and you already got a shiksa tailing you?”

He looked back at the terminal doors, when Shego stormed out of the Terminal and sharply scanned the area. Shermie’s expression hardened and he pulled himself back inside of the car. “On second thought… probably not your type.”

“Definitely not.” Dipper said from curled down in the footwell. Mabel and Misao too were lying down, staying out of sight.

Throwing the car into drive, Shermie calmly pulled from the pick up zone and drove away from the terminal–making sure to look nowhere near the woman’s direction as he departed. He made sure to quickly pull in front of another car in the lane adjacent, putting it between her and the view of his license plate before she could look after them.

The woman did a double-take after the fleeing SUV and frowned. “Shoot, was that them?”

The chauffeur spilled out of the terminal and looked in the direction she went. Removing his fancy billet, Señor Senior Junior heaved a defeated sigh. “What just happened? Did they see through our disguises?”

The legendary henchwoman herself, Shego, pulled off her visor and scowled. “There’s no way they didn’t notice us. One of them must’ve recognized you… which I’m not even sure how.”

Junior pulled at his collar and looked away, but Shego noticed it. “All right. Have you been posting selfies again?”

Junior was appalled by the insinuation. “No! I’ll have you know, father had me banned from most social media.”

Shego stopped, impressed by the prudence. “Oh… then why the nervous look?”

“… I… still have a Linkedin I use to post headshots…?”

Shego palmed her face and heaved an annoyed groan. “Of course.”

Dragging her hand down her face, she sighed and put on her visor again. “Okay then, Junior, the ball’s back in your court. How’re we gonna get the girl?”

Junior rubbed his sharp chin. “There’s still a chance. After all, a good villain has a good contingency, right?”

Shego smiled and lightly punched his shoulder. “Just like I taught you. So, what’s the plan?”

“We wait; maybe do a few small time burglaries of jewelry stores on Rodeo to keep us from getting bored, and keep an eye on the internet. A girl like her? She can’t stay away from it for long.”

Shego smiled, and let out a dark, silky laugh. “It is always a breath of fresh air working with you, SSJ.”

= - = 1 = - =

Not half an hour in Los Angeles and the Pines Twins have gone from 0-100.
 
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Welcome to Echo Creek

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#2
Chapter 2 of the story (well, technically Chapter 3). A short bridge and a tie-off to what was essentially the prologue of this story. Now with more non-gratuitous German. Let's go.

= - = 2 = - =

|Welcome to Echo Creek|

It wasn’t until they got out of LAX and onto the highway that Dipper, Mabel, and Misao stopped cowering in their seats and got their seatbelts on. Leaning back in his seat, the five minutes younger Pine twin checked the mirrors and looked out the back of the SUV. No one was chasing after them throwing green bolts of energy, so it looked like they were safe for now.

“What are the odds, right? Ha hah…” He asked.

“Worse than you might think,” Misao muttered as she cast a look out the back of the SUV.

“@KimPossible you might want to get to LA, we definitely saw Shego and her hunky sidekick Señor Senior Junior, and they’re trying to kidnap people. #CallingYou #TweetingYou #ReallyWannaReachYou,” Mabel said into her phone.

Dipper looked at Mabel, alarmed. “Don’t you dare tweet that!”

“I wasn’t gonna!” Mabel had it scheduled to go in an hour.

“Shego, isn’t she the one that causes nonsense with that blue idiot?” Shermie asked. “Didn’t that nice cheerleader girl and her friend put her away?”

“They must have gotten out, because they were trying to kidnap our new friend,” Mabel said.

Misao looked at Mabel and Dipper. “Honestly, I don’t think I can thank you enough for the risk you took for my sake. That was so frightening.”

Dipper waved it off. “Hey, don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah, we’re glad we got you out of there,” Mabel reassured her.

Shermie glanced at his grandson and back at his granddaughter with an approving smile. What a way to start their trip, he couldn’t be more proud of them.

“You’ll have to forgive these two for being selflessly heroic, I don’t know where they got it from,” Shermie explained to his new guest with a good-natured laugh. “I’m Sherman Pines, their grandfather, but call me Shermie.”

Misao leaned into Mabel. “It’s good to meet you. Wherever they get it from, I’m glad they got a lot of it.” She hung her head. “I can’t believe how sneaky that was; I would’ve gotten into that car without a second thought.”

And she’d probably be well on her way to being ransomed by the end of the day. Her mother would not like that one bit.

On that note, she pulled out her phone again. “I should call my mother, and my host family.”

“Why were they after you?” Dipper asked.

Misao began writing a text. “Plenty of reasons. My family runs a company that specializes in the kind of things people like them want, and I’m the most kidnap-able girl in the world.”

Mabel agreed. “Yeah, anybody could just pick you up under their arm and run, you’re so small and cute. I mean, I was thinkin’ about doing it myself!”

“Aw!” Misao cupped her cheek with one hand. “I’d let you!”

“We basically did,” Dipper pointed out, and Misao giggled.

She looked down at her phone. “I suppose I should also call the police as well.”

Shermie barked out less jovial laugh. “Leave it to the LAPD to protect someone? Hogwash, you’re safer in this truck than in the back of any precinct in this town.”

Dipper let out a snort. “Yeah, probably.”

Mabel shook her head. “Uh huh!”

Misao looked back and forth between all three Pines. “You sure?”

Dipper nodded. “Our experience with police has been that they’re not very helpful for things that get weird.”

Pulling towards the exit lane, Shermie added, “No one trusts the cops in this town. You’ll learn to do the same, quick.”

Misao looked between all of them, and found their unified distrust of authority oddly comforting. She looked at her unsent message to her mother, intending to alert her of the threat to her safety. “Well, I can’t stay with you… it’d put you in more danger.”

Shermie scoffed at the idea. “Don’t you worry, I know a few tricks about staying out of sight and losing tails–they won’t find us. You contact your family and let them know you’re safe, and we’ll get you to where you need to be by the end of the day.”

“Believe it or not,” Dipper said, “But we’ve been through stuff like this before. Maybe not in the same league as supervillains, but we’re used to it.”

Mabel laughed. “Yeah, Dipper’s a crazy prepared monster hunter, and Sherpa used to fight Nazis.”

“It was one Nazi, an Illinois Nazi!” Shermie clarified.

“You still kicked his butt,” Dipper noted.

Shermie pumped his fist. “You’re dang right, I did!”

“And I’m the heart and soul of this team that keeps everyone together! Don’t you worry about us or any bad guys that might be after you.”

Staring at her phone, Misao nodded and tapped the bottom of the phone’s screen with her thumb. “I doubt my Host family would be too thrilled at me bringing someone like Shego anywhere near them, either.”

“Where were you headed, if you don’t mind my asking–Miss?” Shermie asked.

“Beverly Hills.”

Mabel’s eyes lit up. “Ooh, nice.”

“Well, Echo Creek isn’t nearly as posh and gaudy, but it’s got a nice character all its own,” Shermie assured her. “It’s just as LA as the rest of it.”

“And Randyland’s there,” Mabel chirped.

Misao unlocked her phone. “Please tell me what Randyland is, because I’m afraid to search for it on my phone.”

This was a good idea, Mabel agreed. “Yeah, the kind of ads I started getting changed a bit after I searched for it.”

Her and her mother had the second most uncomfortable talk of her life after that.

“And that’s why I don’t use the internet ever,” Dipper muttered.

“Good man,” Shermie whispered aside to him. “I’m glad you could learn something from the Stans.”

With it being the latter quarter of the morning and the weekend, the legendary LA traffic wasn’t nearly as ferocious to the common Californian. It barely took an hour for Shermie to drive them from the dense city core to the relatively open suburban streets of Echo Creek, a town north of Route 5 and the LA River. Leaving the highway, he eased off the gas and let his passengers have a look around.

Right away, Dipper noticed that there didn’t seem to be anything outwardly unusual or strange. Doesn’t look like it’s been torn asunder by arcane forces or ancient powers and rebuilt into the image of an extra-dimensional traveler. Still… can’t be too careful. As soon as my stuff arrives the first thing I’m doing is erecting a barrier around the house. Then I’ll have to grab some anti-magic contingencies, monster repellants…

Mabel’s thought processes were far from Dipper’s, as she too enjoyed the sights. Ooh, that boy’s cute. And that one. And that one! Oh, he's hot too! And his girlfriend… oh my gosh, is that a fancy cake shop? I’m so going there. OH! I wonder if that haberdashery makes hats for pigs…!

Misao watched the almost night and day difference between the twins’ expressions. Er is wie ein Jäger auffer Pirsch. Oder hat zu viele Schlachfelder jesehen. Und sie is so verdammt gut drauf wenn's gefährlich wird. Mensch, ick glaub ick mag die.

“Anyway, while we’re out here, I need to pick up my pull list from the comic book shop,” Shermie announced, derailing their thoughts.

Misao hummed, looking from Shermie to Mabel and back.

Dipper looked over. “Pull what, now?”

Mabel leaned over his shoulder. “You read comics, Sherpa?”
“Of course!” Shermie replied. “I’ve been reading ‘em since your great grandpa gave me a copy of Action Comics #1…”

His expression darkened. “… That Stan and Sixer destroyed by coloring in it…”

It went unsaid in their defense that they were both three, and he’d made the mistake of leaving it within their reach.

As Shermie pulled up to a stoplight, he continued. “Anyway, it’s something I do in my spare time and it gives me something to leave to you when I finally keel over.”

“Psh, yeah, like that’s going to happen anytime soon,” Mabel said with a clear undertone of talking about mortality sucks.

Shermie got the memo. “We’ll swing by the comic book shop near the house, and I’ll show you how to make your own list of stuff you want to read.”

“Oh, I don’t read comics, though,” Mabel said.

“You read manga all the time,” Dipper pointed out.

“Yes, that’s manga,” Mabel said. “There’s a difference.”

Dipper rolled his eyes. Get trapped in one comic book and suddenly you’re an expert.

“Manga’s all right; I can’t see the attraction in reading about guys who look almost as pretty as Mabel, here…” Shermie trailed off when a motorcycle came up alongside them.

It was a big, heavy chopper, the motor loud even at idle. In stark comparison to its size, an old African American woman wearing a helmet and black leather jacket over a pink sweatsuit rode atop it–giving Shermie a challenging look.

Dipper looked at the strange old woman on her bike, and paled. “Oh no.”

Misao looked at Dipper, and back at the old lady. “Wait, what’s happening?”

“Looks like an alte cocker wants a reminder of who the fastest driver is,” Shermie answered with a smirk, and revved the truck’s engine.

The old woman pointed at Shermie, at herself, then down the road–which the passengers of the SUV realized was effectively one long straight with no lights or side streets for over a quarter mile.

“Grandpa, no!” Dipper pleaded.

“Sherpa, yes!” Mabel cheered.

Misao leaned back in her seat, and tightened her seatbelt. She did not expect to be nearly kidnapped, and she certainly did not expect her near kidnapping to put her in a car full of the oddest people… who were about to engage in a street race with an eccentric old lady. However, upon reviewing it comparing it to how possibly expected, safe, and civil the alternative was?

“MACH SCHNELL!” Misao shouted excitedly.

“I don’t know what that means, but yeah!” Mabel cheered with her.

The light turned green. In the moment it switched, Dipper just took a deep breath and grabbed the dashboard in front and the frame of the door to brace himself.

And with a roar of engines at a combined 800 horsepower, they were off.

= - = 2 = - =

Not too far off from Gravity Falls at all.
 
The Heroes

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#3
The second of our triad joins.

= - = 3 = - =

|The Heroes|

The Good Princess Heather was in grave danger! Captured by the Brutal Barony of the Magnavore Army: The despicable cyborg Trip von Vanderhoff, and his big brainless brother, Van von Vanderhoff! Tied to a tree in a dark forest’s clearing, and surrounded by the brown and black-suited Scab cyborgs at Trip’s vile command, the beauteous princess struggled against the filthy chains holding her in vain as she scowled at the two villains!

She shook her head, her blonde hair tossing to and fro. “You will never get away with this. My father the King will send aid!”

Adorned in a white lab coat over gold and black armor from chin to toe, the bespectacled Trip von Vanderhoff faced the princess with a brutal sneer, and ran a black gauntlet covered hand through his blue and green-tipped blonde hair. “Oh Princess, all that struggling is going to mess your lovely hair and dress. You are right, though the King will send aid, and soon we will have not only you, but our true prize!”

The Princess gasped. “What?!”

Holding aloft a wicked bastard sword of the coldest metal, Van von Vanderhoff pointed its tip into the sky. “Your hero will come, we will slay him once and for all, then the kingdom will be plunged into darkness!”

Trip von Vanderhoff held out his arms. “I, Trip von Vanderhoff will rule this Kingdom forever as a mechanical empire, and you shall be my cyborg queen! All that is good and light will be choked in the dark smoke of industry’s fire!”

The Princess’s eyes widened and all the color fled from her face. “… N-no!”

Trip von Vanderhoff turned away from the Princess, and called to the forest beyond. “So come, hero! Walk straight into the uncaring jaws of destiny, to your doom!”

“All you had to do was ask.”

Not expecting the reply, Trip von Vanderhoff recoiled, electricity jumping across his gauntlets. “What?!”

Van von Vanderhoff was also surprised, taking his sword in both hands and assuming a low stance. “Already?!”

The Princess’s green eyes lit up, first with hope then dashed with dread. “Oh no!”

A young man, barely sixteen, with dirty blonde-hair and clear blue-eyes emerged from the forest, wearing oddly just a blue-striped shirt, jean shorts, and sneakers. In his hand he held a blue-cased smartphone and on his face he carried a cocky grin.

He stopped in the center of the clearing. “You had this big plan all for me and you’re surprised that I’d just walk in?”

“Please be careful!!” Princess Heather cried.

Trip von Vanderhoff’s panicked expression morphed back to his sneer. “Actually? Yes! Welcome to your doom, Drew Beet!”

The heroic warrior Drew Beet laughed and folded his arms, casually tapping his phone against his side. “This isn’t it, is it? What, nine? Ten Scabs and you two? Come on, Barons, I get that you’ve been having some bad days since I showed up–but this is hardly an inconveniencing, let alone a full on doom.”

“We’ll see about that!” Trip von Vanderhoff roared as electricity crackled over his hands. “Scabs! Destroy Drew Beet!”

Casting hesitant looks to each other at first, the overwhelming rule of their master compelled them forth. With bladed weapons that glowed orange along their edges to sear through metal and flesh alike, they leaped into battle with grim intent.

All brave Drew Beet had to meet them was his smartphone, which he raised in front with the screen out. “Beetle Blast!”

The screen flashed to life, the image of a metallic blue Rhinoceros Beetle appeared before leaping off the screen. Expanding to a size larger than Drew Beet, the metallic Rhinoceros Beetle passed over him and vanished in a flash–leaving him adorned in cybernetic blue armor with black and gunmetal gray plates and circuitry beneath and on the inner areas of his armor. Upon his head, his face-covering helmet in the shape of the Rhinoceros Beetle flashed its red visor like eyes, and the Blue Stingerborg had arrived!

Van von Vanderhoff recoiled. “Oh no, he transformed!”

Trip von Vanderhoff slapped his brother upside his helmeted head. “That was the whole point, doofus!”

“Right!” Van von Vanderhoff reasserted himself as the Scabs reached Drew Beet.

The blue armored hero quickly drew a black and silver pistol from the holster on his right leg. Twirling it up, he entered 0-1-9 into the keypad on the side of the gun, then pointed it at the charging Scabs.

“Take this!” He called out and fired off bursts of brilliant yellow lasers, hitting and destroying each Scab before they could get within three steps of him. Sparks, smoke, and bits of metal flew as the sinister cyborgs were swiftly slain.

Trip von Vanderhoff let loose a sneer and slapped his brother’s back, shoving him forward. “Rrr… go get him!”

Roaring, Van von Vanderhoff leaped towards Drew Beet, his hulking body skimming the ground and broad green cape billowing behind him.

The younger von Vanderhoff sibling took the sword into one hand and raised it above his head. “I’m going to cut you down to size, nerd!”

The Blue Stingerborg met this threat with a laugh. “Hey Van, did you get bigger?”

With a mighty swing, Van von Vanderhoff missed by an embarrassing margin, and found his arm caught and locked by Drew Beet.

“Hey, let go-ohhh!” Drew Beet ignored his wailing and swung him around faster than he attacked him, and threw him into the ground.

An explosion of dirt and rocks followed, leaving Van von Vanderhoff’s feet sticking from the bottom of the crater his body made, kicking helplessly at the sky.

“… ‘Cause this is the hardest you’ve fallen yet!” He turned to face Trip von Vanderhoff, and pointed his trusted Input Magnum at the villain. “It’s over Vanderdork.”

In spite of the ease that Drew Beet defeated his minions and brother, Trip von Vanderhoff’s lips split into a sickening grin. Electricity crackled up and down his arms, and he held them out inviting Drew Beat to shoot him. “It’s only just started, Drew Beet!”

From around the tree Princess Heather was bound to, a barrage of six missiles shrieked towards Drew Beat, their tail-like trails of smoke lashing the air on their converging flight to their target. The rockets connected, the blast pressing Princess Heather against the tree despite Trip von Vanderhoff using his body and open lab coat to shield her from the worst of it.

“Drew Beet!” Princess Heather cried out, before heavy, metallic foot falls drew her attention to her right.

Her despair turned to horror at the sight of a powerful, heavily armored humanoid robot that towered over even Van von Vanderhoff. Painted army green, with splashes of red and black, it had a blank, vented face with two yellow eyes that flashed brightly in the lingering smoke caused by its attack. On its left shoulder, smoke wisped from a six-tube missile launcher, while the two tube launcher on the right flexed and targeted the center of the smoke.

Trip von Vanderhoff’s laughter rose above the sudden silence of the forest. “Behold my most powerful warrior to date, Princess! The Mean Green Cannon Machine… Death Launcher!”

He turned to face her, as she beheld the awful weapons on Death Launcher. “With a single salvo of its weapons, it’s enough to destroy armies, and as you saw… it was more than a match for Drew Beet!”

Heather looked towards the fire and smoke, tears filling her eyes. “… Drew Beet…”

Trip von Vanderhoff laughed harder. “I’ve done it, in a single blow I’ve defeated the Blue Stingerborg!”

Now nothing stood in his way to claim his throne, and let his vile laugh ring across the kingdom as the new age of darkness was ushered in!

“If you thought that was funny?” Drew Beet asked, cutting Trip von Vanderhoff’s laughter into an angry gasp. Death Launcher prepared for combat,its red eyes flashing to life.

Suddenly, The Blue Stingerborg leaped high from the smoke. the sunlight above gleaming off his armor–and the nanothin edge of his most powerful weapon: the Stinger Blade equipped over his right arm. “You should see the look on your face!”

Princess Heather gasped for joy, while Trip von Vanderhoff roared. “Death Launcher, KILL HIM!”

Death Launcher obeyed and from both his shoulder launchers, eight missiles shrieked towards the airborne Beetleborg.

In his left hand, Drew Beet brought up the Input Magnum, aimed and fired, narrow red beams catching the first two missiles before they could get close. The two missiles exploded, their blasts catching four of the others, leaving just two to pass through the expanding flame and smoke to their target.

“Hi-yaaaaah!” Drew Beet swung the electrically charged blade, cleaving through both missiles and passing them. Landing in a kneel with his arm blade held to his side, he chuckled before the bisected missiles exploded safely behind him, casting him in a black silhouette.

“Curses!” Trip von Vanderhoff shouted.

Death Launcher was already on it, raising his arms and opening fire with the twin machine cannons equipped over his wrists at Drew Beet.

The Beetleborg was no easy target, springing to his feet and going left from the high velocity rounds ripping up the ground in his wake and shattering the trees. A few rounds even glanced off his armor with sparks and flashes, but did not slow him down.

“Time to finish this!” Drew Beet’s Stinger Blade began to spin, starting slowly but quickly building speed until it looked like a solid glowing cone of blue electrical light.

Drew Beet weaved in between the bursts of bullets, and rushed closer–passing under more missiles that Death Launcher fired at him.

Trip von Vanderhoff gasped. “This isn’t possible, how can he get so close?!”

Drew Beet reached his target. “Because your tinker toy’s got more bullets than sense!”

In a single swing, he decided it. The spinning Stinger Blade tore through Death Launcher’s torso, halving the deadly robot at the waist. Turning around in Drew Beet swung upward, cutting Death Launcher vertically and fully quartering the monster mechanoid. Sparking and sputtering, Death Launcher’s pieces fell forward and exploded.

Turning his back to the explosion, he struck a pose. “You shouldn’t have brought a gun to a sword fight!”

“I… how can this be?!” Trip von Vanderhoff shouted, and Drew Beet’s attention shot back to him. He recoiled. “Eep!”

“As for you!” The heroic Blue Stingerborg charged, the no-longer spinning blade sweeping through the air towards Trip von Vanderhoff.

The cowardly baron declined partaking in a taste of his blade, and dove out of the way by bare centimeters. The blade missed Princess Heather by an even smaller margin, but not the ropes binding her to the tree.

As Her Highness was freed, Drew Beet turned to face the belligerent brothers with blade ready. Trip von Vanderhoff had scrambled to his brother, and helped pull him out of the ground. “Had enough Vanderdorks?”

“Yes please,” a dazed Van von Vanderhoff mumbled.

Trip von Vanderhoff was overwhelmed with anger, but it paled in the face of his fear. “You may have won this time, but the Magnavores will have their day, loser!”

Dragging his brother to his feet, Trip von Vanderhoff nodded and both brothers vanished in a sheet of flame. Satisfied with their cowardice, Drew Beet dispersed his trusted Stinger Blade–just in time to be embraced by the grateful Princess.

“Oh Drew Beet, you saved us all!” She hugged his arm. “You’re the greatest!”

The Beetleborg looked at her and for a moment stared at the beautiful, but approachable princess of blemishless fair skin, green eyes like fresh fields of grass, and blonde hair like the morning sun.

“Princess,” he said with all of the chivalry he could muster. “You have nothing more to fear, now that-”

“Oh my gosh, is that another girl for Blue Beet?”

@@@@@

Andrew “Drew” McCormick was dragged out of the pages of the latest in the hit comic book series: Big Bad Beetleborgs, and back to reality. He looked up from the table he sat at, standing beside him was a tomboy wearing red coveralls and a white shirt, with hair a darker shade of brown than his own.

His younger sister Josephine “Jo” McCormick shook her head, her long hair done in twin-tails wagging from side to side. “I swear, Art Fortunes must be running out of ideas if he’s resorting to this.”

The very insinuation was offensive. “Come on, Jo. Just because this is what, the third-”

“Fifth.”

“-Female character he’s introduced inside a year doesn’t mean he’s running out of ideas and resorting to cheap fanservice.”

“Are we reading the same comic? Every other Blue Beet story since the Split Up Arc began has been him running into some random hot girl, saving her, and then her falling for him.”

“Not every girl! Queen Magna tried to make him her-”

“Love.”

“-Slave so she could conquer the-”

Drew stopped.

Jo’s smirk was insufferable.

He glared at her. “Multiverse.”

Jo smirked and rolled her eyes. “Whatever, Saint Papilia’s evil universe counterpart is just an excuse for him to cater to the Blue Beet/Papilia shippers without actually changing their relationship at all.”

“And there’s nothing wrong with that!” Drew, one of those shippers, asserted loudly.

“Hear, hear!” A few other patrons of the comic shop they were arguing in agreed.

Zoom Comics, a bookstore in the heart of Echo Creek, just down the street from Britta’s Tacos and Echo Creek Park, had opened its doors only a half hour ago and was already a bustling place. Around Drew and Jo, comic and pop culture aficionados were already perusing the extensive stock of comics, manga, novels, figures, movies and games to offer in the bright, 90s-retro styled main floor of the building decorated wall to wall with everything fiction and fun.

Over behind the counter of the shop, Roland Williams looked towards the shout. The African American teen, wearing a green t-shirt and light blue jeans, finished cashing out a customer and looked over. “Are you talking about the new weekly?”

“It’s more waifu garbage!” Jo called back.

Roland shrugged his shoulders. “It can’t be helped, I guess. Stories with lots of cute girls are what’s popular these days.”

“It can be helped, Art can write more about Stag and Reddle actually going after Vexor and Jara! Those stories have been good.”

“Now you’re being a hypocrite; you just want Stag and Reddle to pick up where they left off,” Drew pointed out.

“Yeah, where they left off was good, not any of this ‘Oh no, Oppai Dragon is so popular, gotta chase that trend’ crap Art’s doing with Blue.”

Roland narrowed his eyes at Jo. “We don’t talk about that filth in our wholesome comic book store.”

A shaggy, empty-eyed customer set a stack of graphic novels before Roland. “Hey man, can I get these volumes of Crossed?”

Roland faced him with a bright smile. “Of course, do you want that in paper or plastic?”

Down the counter from where Roland was cashing out the customer, was Zoom Comics’ barista Heather. Every bit as beautiful as when she starred in Drew’s daydreams, she brushed off the black apron she wore over her gray t-shirt and blue capris, and leaned on the counter. “I like Blue’s Split Up Arc stories, even the ones where he meets girls.”

Drew’s face lit up, and Jo rolled her eyes with a low grumble.

“Really?” He asked. “You liked them?”

Heather nodded. “Mr. Fortunes has been drawing the Beetleborgs as a team for almost 25 years; doing something big like splitting the team up gives him a chance to introduce new characters and build up new stories. Plus? The girls he’s been drawing are really cute.”

Drew couldn’t stop his smile’s spread. “I know, right?!”

Jo groaned. “Heather, please.”

Heather giggled at Jo’s exasperation, before a throaty rumble thundered through the walls and windows of the comic shop. She looked up and out the window, that guttural roar was familiar. Drew, Jo, and Roland looked with her.

“That sounds like Nano’s motorcycle and-” Heather stopped when she heard another, much louder engine. “Oh boy, she’s racing Old Man Pines.”

Drew looked at Jo. “How much you want to bet Nano wins?”

Jo shook her head. “That is a sucker’s bet.”

Outside, just short of the door, the old woman put the bike into a slide perpendicular to the street and the direction she was traveling in–kicking up three trails of smoke from the tires and the boot she used to grind her hog to a halt. The SUV’s stop was no less dramatic, pitching into a spin out and sliding into a perfect parallel park just behind the motorcycle. Pedestrians who’d been gawking at the impromptu street race with phones out and shocked murmurs abruptly calmed down when they recognized who was involved, and carried on with their business.

Spilling out of the passenger side, pale and shaking, Dipper gripped the door and looked over at Shermie. “Never. Again.”

Shermie, climbing out next, thought it was funny as all get-out. “So you’ve gotten over your car sickness! I remember when you couldn’t handle backing out of the driveway.”

“I was too scared to be sick!” Dipper snapped back.

Mabel sprang from the SUV and landed, only to bounce up again and throw her hands upward. “That was awesome!”

Misao followed her, and jumped to high five her. “Yes! I love street racing!”

Back inside, Roland did a double-take. “… Oh no…”

“Who are they?” Drew said, watching the two really cute girls jumping in celebration in a trance. Jo was likewise intrigued by the tall, handsome boy wearing a Lumberjack hat in the LA heat trying to get some color back on his face.

While Dipper leaned against the car to catch his breath, Shermie walked around the front of the car to the woman dismounting the motorcycle. Looking up at him, the stout woman smirked. “I’m impressed, you could keep up with me this time.”

“If I didn’t have just shy 430 pounds worth of teenagers weighing me down, I would’ve blown past you, Nano,” Shermie said, and Mabel whirled around like a guard alerted by the clapping of a dummy thick snake.

Unstrapping her helmet the woman, Nano Williams, fistbumped Shermie. “Teenagers? Where them grandbabies of yours?”

“NANO!” Mabel yelled. Nano looked down, and then up with widening eyes when she saw the teenager coming straight at her.

“Good lord child, you got big!” Nano blurted before Mabel caught her in a hug big enough to lift her off her feet. “Real big! Look at you!”

“You have no idea how much it’s improved my hug game,” Mabel cuddled her and Nano returned the embrace.

Soon as Mabel set Nano down, the woman looked to Dipper. “Dipper, come over here and give your Nano a hug!”

Composed, Dipper came over and gave Nano a big hug as well. “It’s nice to see you again, Nano.”

“Lord have mercy, what are your parents feeding you two?” Nano pulled back and looked both of them over. “And where can I get some recipes?”

Dipper let out a small embarrassed laugh, and Mabel giggled. Misao joined Mabel’s side, and nodded in greeting to the old woman. “Hallo!”

Nano looked down at her. “And you’re… small.”

“And cute,” Mabel added.

“And definitely not one of Sherman’s grandkids.” She looked up at Shermie with narrowing eyes. “I hope.”

“Not unless I left a lonely heart in Berlin,” Shermie mused with a shrug.

Misao bowed. “I’m Misao, Dipper and Mabel saved me from being kidnapped by supervillains.”

Nano looked from Misao to the twins to their grandfather, back to the twins, then down at her again. “Honest to goodness, I believe it. You won’t believe what these two can get up to.”

Shermie patted both Dipper and Mabel on their shoulders. “They’re dang fine kids.”

Smiling proudly, Nano turned and gestured for them to follow her into the shop. “Come on in, Roland’s going to be so thrilled to see you two.”

Mabel tensed up. “Uh. Oh. Right. How… is Roland…?”

Roland was even less thrilled, when he saw Dipper and Mabel talking with his Grandmother. “What are they doing here?”

“Who are they?” Jo asked as her gaze lingered on Dipper.

Roland grabbed a box of comics and made his way from behind the counter to stock up on the shelves–or at least pretend to out of sight of the door. He had an expression of discomfort that concerned Drew and Jo as they lagged a bit behind him. Neither of the McCormick siblings had seen these two before.

“Those are Old Man Pines’ grandkids, Dipper and Mabel,” Roland said as he put a shelf of graphic novels between him and the door, “They’re weird and annoying.”

Jo peeked around the shelf, again focusing on Dipper. “They don’t seem weird to me.”

Drew, on the other hand, had his eyes on Mabel and Misao, both girls looked way too cute for them to be weird. He’d seen some weird girls in the last couple weeks, too.”

“Yeah, they don’t seem weird, but-”

Roland Williams, Age 8.

The Williams Family had been invited to attend a Thanksgiving Dinner at the home of Sherman Pines. The Patriarch of the Pines family rarely held such functions, but his son and his family had come down from Piedmont to spend time with him and when word of it got to Nano, she convinced Shermie to make a party of it, and he did it with gusto. So now Roland was sitting in an old person’s living room full of people he didn’t know, waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to be served. He didn’t really want to be there, because coming here meant that he had to miss having Thanksgiving with his best friend Drew.

“Roland, sweetie,” his mother, Abbie Williams, called as she led over a pair of twins.

The boy had his nose buried in a book titled “Dr. Crackpot’s Book of the Damned”, and didn’t seem particularly interested in the world outside it. The girl was dressed like a pilgrim, carrying a toy blunderbuss, and looked like she was about to explode with excitement the moment she laid eyes on him.

“These are Mr. Pines grandchildren, Dipper and Mabel. Would you be a sweetheart and play with them while we get dinner finished?”

Roland was relieved just to see other kids at this otherwise boring dinner he had to dress nice for. “Sure, Mom!”

“All right, play nice.” Abbie left the sitting room.

Roland watched his mother go, then looked at Dipper. “So hey, I’m Roland, do you want to go-?”

“No.” Dipper didn’t so much as glance up from his book.

Roland recoiled a bit, surprised by his sharpness.

Mabel swooped in, taking Roland’s arm.. “Oh, Dipper’s a putz, don’t worry about him. If you want to go outside, we can play Historically Accurate Thanksgiving!”

Roland was relieved that Mabel seemed normal, but also curious by what she meant. “Historically Accurate…?”

Mabel ushered him to the door. “It’s thanksgiving with a twist! You won’t look at turkey the same ever again…!”

Roland’s expression was haunted as he stopped the story there. “It wasn’t fun, but it was enlightening.”

Drew’s mouth fell open. “Wait, she’s the reason you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving anymore.”

“… Yeah…”

Jo shrugged her shoulders. “Thanksgiving is a dumb holiday anyway, so what was so bad about having the grand illusion shattered?”

Roland shook his head bitterly. “She insisted I be the Native American because ‘she already had the pilgrim outfit.’”
Jo stared at Roland with wide eyes, as all the implications hit at once. “Oh.”

Drew looked towards the door, as Nano walked in leading the Pines party. Dipper made a line straight towards the café, where Heather was, while Mabel–after taking a moment to scan the area–led Misao to the manga section.

“Roland! Dipper and Mabel are here with their grandfather, come say hi!” Nano called.

“I’m stocking the X-Men, I’ll be over!” Roland called back, before lowering his voice for Drew and Jo. “… In like six hours…”

Drew didn’t buy it. “Come on, she was what, 8 years old? You can’t really blame her for something like that, she didn’t know better.”

Roland was ready for that.

“Okay, then there was-”

Roland Williams, Age 10

Roland sighed. A perfectly good motorcycle ride ruined by its destination: Nano had brought him to Shermie Pines’ home to play something called shogi, which meant he was going to be spending the next three hours with his grandkids and he wasn’t looking forward to it.

Being responsible for Thanksgiving being banned in the Williams home aside, the Pines kids weren’t exactly the most sociable people. Dipper barely talked and when he did it was about weird and disturbing stuff–he didn’t even seem interested in comic books. Mabel was the opposite extreme, extroverted and headstrong, but also completely inconsiderate and borderline psychopathic in her pursuit of anything that interested her.

After two years apart, he hoped that they would be better to hang out with, but those were dashed when he found Dipper in the backyard of Shermie’s home, reading a Newspaper titled “The Free Huey World Report” with a headline calling smart home peripherals “DIY Government Wire-Tapping.”

“So…” Roland looked at the newspaper with a mix of concern and optimistic hope. “… I brought over a couple of handhelds, do you want to play together?”

“I’ll pass. Handhelds that are always connected to the internet like yours record your voice even when you think you turned off the mic. You should get rid of them.”

Okay, he was going to be an absolute downer. He looked around warily. “Where’s your sister…?”

The back patio door crashed open, and out stepped Mabel. She was wearing baggy jean shorts, an oversized basketball jersey, sunglasses, and a baseball cap turned to her right. Around her neck was a handmade paper necklace holding up a paper pendant of yellow letters caked in gold glitter that spelled “MABIZZLE”.

Roland didn’t understand what he was looking at.

Dipper understood exactly what he was looking at.

Both didn’t like it and would like it even less in the next few seconds.

“Ayo! Mabizzle up in the hizzo, fo’ rizzo!” She announced as a generic hiphop beat played behind her. Seeing Roland, she strode up to him all gangsta and junk, and struck a pose. “Aw, it’s mah homie Ro-dawg! Yo, yo, show a girl some love fo’ real? What’s happenin’ my ni-”

“Oh my God!” Jo shouted, cutting Roland off.

Drew was equally shaken. “Okay, that’s bad.”

Roland raised a hand. “Wait, in her defense, she said ‘nizzo’, but she acted like that the entire time I was there.”

He turned back to stock to find places to cram comics so he could look busy. “So excuse me if I try to lay low and hope that they’re just here for the weekend. We don’t need those two making anything more uncomfortable or weirder than it already is around here.”

Jo and Drew looked over at the manga section again, and watched Mabel talking animatedly to Misao while holding up a cute story about dragon maids. Drew hummed and turned back to face Roland. Jo remained on watch, and her gaze drifted back to where Dipper had gone.

“It’s been years, though. Maybe they’ve actually changed and they’re not weird?” Drew offered.

“Or maybe they’ve gotten weirder.”

“You won’t be sure if you don’t talk to them.”

Jo, not having any of Drew’s hypocritical nonsense, added. “Yeah, and if you don’t want to? Just ask Heather what Dipper’s like–because he’s chatting her up right now.”

Drew all but gave himself whiplash going back to the end of the bookshelf to look over Jo’s head. “Wait, what?”

= - = 3 = - =

This was a long one.
 
Last edited:
Lepidopterology

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#4
And now forces meet.
= - = 4 = - =

|Lepidopterology|

With the adrenaline of a quarter-mile drag race out of his system, Dipper was less anxious and more prescient of the opportunity in front of him. Zoom Comics was always a busy place, and there were a lot of kids his age hanging out reading comics, playing games, or just quietly vegging out to lo-fi beats on their headphones.

As Mabel and Misao went to look at manga, and Shermie went to get his pull list with Nano, he went straight to the café and the girl behind it who appeared to have just gotten started on her shift. Heather, her name tag read, was pretty cute… not a cool redhead with a hatchet or blonde socialite with a redemption arc cute, but she was real easy on the eyes.

She smiled at him as all service industry workers did, when he reached the counter. “Hey, welcome to the Zoom Café, what can I get started for you?”

“Do you have any Pitt Cola?” Dipper asked. It was a long shot, but he couldn’t find it anywhere in the Bay Area.

Heather’s brows furrowed. “… Is that like a regional thing?”

“If you don’t, that’s fine.” Oh well, he tried. “I’ll have some iced tea.”

“Sweetened or unsweetened?” Heather asked cheerfully, relieved that he wasn’t going to throw a fit over not having something special around.

“Unsweetened, large cup,” Dipper replied. “And light on the ice.”

She found that interesting, but also quite nice that she didn’t have to do much for his order. “Let me get that for you.”

As she went to the container to fill up a cup, Dipper rested his forearms on the counter and folded them to lean forward a bit. Heather looked out of the corner of her eye at him, paying particular attention to his arms, up to his shoulders, and then his face.

His gaze wandered around the back of the counter. “So, do you go to school around here, or…?”

She looked back. “Huh? Oh, yeah… I go to Echo Creek Academy.”

“Cool, my sister and I are starting there Monday. My name’s Dipper.”

Recognition illuminated her face. “So you’re Mr. Pines’ grandson?”

Dipper glanced towards his grandfather, talking with Nano over a stack of comics at a table. “He’s talked about me?”

“I’ve had to put up with him bragging about you once or twice.” She smirked. “Sounds like he was dropping hints.”

Dipper’s eyebrows furrowed. “What’s he saying about me?”

“Oh, nothing bad. Just that you helped save an entire town… and that you’re basically a shoo-in for any college in the country because you’re ‘sharper than a bayonet on D-Day.’”

Come on, Grandpa. Dipper thought to himself, before he brushed it off. “He’s exaggerating; I didn’t save an entire town, and my grades aren’t that good–I think?”

Heather brought his drink to him after putting on a cover. “That’s not all he goes on about you, but I guess you don’t want to hear about it.”

“Please, say no more,” Dipper mock pleaded as he took his cup. “I did want to ask, though.”

“What?”

Dipper looked from side to side, like he was worried for anyone listening in, then leaned closer. Heather followed suit, curious. “Do you know anything about weird things happening at school involving… magic?”

Heather sighed. “I guess you would ask about her.”

Taking a straw and opening it, he stabbed it into the cup. “Sorry if that bothers you.”

“It’s cool. Everyone asks about Star Butterfly, but I am so the last person who can help them. I go to school with her, but I’m not in any of her classes so I have no idea what she’s like, but most everyone at school likes her.”

“So you haven’t seen anything she’s done?”

As he took a sip of his drink, Heather’s eyes widened slightly, before she too gave a conspiratorial look around. She leaned back in.

“Okay, that? I’ve seen that. I got caught up in some pretty crazy stuff with her.”

“… Really…?”

“Yeahl The first time was our first football game of the season–she went nuts and turned the football field into a warzone. The second time was during this one girl, Brittney Wong’s, birthday party. She and her friend Marco snuck onto the party bus when it was bombing, and she started doing magic tricks and saved the whole thing.”

Dipper saw the video footage of the first thing, well, the aftermath of it. Star and Marco had been ordered by the Principal to repair the football field and get rid of any unsprung magical traps.

Heather continued, “Well, it was going great before a bunch of monsters hijacked the bus and fought Star to get her wand. She kicked the crap out of all of them, but the bus crashed and we all had to go home after that.”

The proverbial needle scratched across his record of thought. “Come again?”

“Yeah, the only reason nobody died was because Star turned the inside of the bus into a bounce house.” She gave it a second thought, and laughed. “Actually? That part was pretty fun.”

Dipper weighed on that, and wondered how she could take something traumatic so well. “Isn’t it strange that there’s a magical girl who fights monsters, and people get caught up in it?”

Heather shrugged her shoulders. “Come on, dude, there’s a Cheerleader in Colorado who goes around fighting supervillains, and the 90s were full of dudes in bird costumes fighting sad Russian Clowns and German Strudel makers.” She laughed again. “The sky could probably open up right now and it’d be just another day in paradise, you know?”

It’d be a lot more dramatic than you think, Dipper thought, before he put on a wry smile and rolled with it. “I bet Hollywood would have a crew on every street corner to get some good shots.”

“Like they don’t already? That’s probably why Star’s craziness isn’t a big deal. It’s LA dude; anything that can happen will happen here and as long as someone has a camera pointed at it, it’s just like another movie.”

That was true. There were some things you could write off as Youtube pranks gone horribly wrong (or right), hallucinations caused by bad food, and random mass-psychosis, but the party bus was not one of them–especially as Heather described it.

People should be more alarmed about this sort of thing. He remembered Mabel holding a pet pageant that got the Piedmont Police breaking it up because Waddles was underage.

A magical girl fighting bizarre creatures and rolling a bus full of high school students should be having the whole city up in arms. Why doesn’t anyone care? That was something Dipper would keep in mind for later. “Thanks for the heads up on Star.”

“No problem; that’ll be a dollar eight for the tea,” Heather reminded him.

Dipper did not forget. He set down ten dollars on the counter, and when Heather looked at it in surprise, he added. “Do what you want with the change, all right?”

There was a little bit more in her smile as she took the money. “Thanks, man.”

Taking a sip of his tea, Dipper turned and headed over to his sister and Misao–leaving Heather to watch him go with a smile. Over at the bookshelf, out of earshot of the conversation, Drew had the sort of face one would after seeing his favorite comic ripped to shreds in front of him.

“I changed my mind, he’s the worst,” he murmured.

Jo pulled back from the shelf and folded her arms. “Really?”

Roland slipped back behind the shelf and shook his head. “Aw man, it’s even worse. He’s grown up into a douchebag.”

“Being able to talk to a girl doesn’t make you a douchebag,” Jo pointed out before shooting a look at Drew. “Especially since you can’t seem to.”

Drew grimaced and began wringing his hands. “I can talk to her!”

“Yeah, about comics and only when she initiates.”

“It is so hard to just strike up a conversation with one of the best girls at school,” Drew argued.

Roland agreed as the door chimed again. “I know, I’m kinda like that with Jackie Lynn Thomas.”

Jo rolled her eyes. “What boy at school isn’t?”

“Then you know what I mean! I swear, she lights up any room she walks into, and music follows her out when she leaves.”

Jo frowned at her brother. “Pedestaling, much?”.

“I’m not putting her on a pedestal!”

“You totally are, but go off.”

“I just like her, okay? I don’t want to worship her like a goddess or something–I want to hang out with her, make her laugh, read comics with her… just… be her guy, you know?”

Drew looked back towards where Dipper was now talking with the other girls he came in with. “I just don’t want to be like that guy, sliding in all smooth and flashing some money to impress girls and having nothing else going for him.”

Jo looked at Dipper again and licked her lips. “Mm… he’s got a lot more going for him than a few dollars.”

“You know what I mean!”

Jo turned back to face her older brother and folded her arms. “Then why don’t you let your balls drop and go talk to her?” She had a great idea. “I know! Homecoming is in like two weeks, throw caution to the wind and ask her to the dance!”

“If I could, I would.” Drew sighed, and cast his gaze downward. “I am such trash when it comes to her.”

“Hey, you said it.” The sharp voice, dripping with arrogance, made Drew face blanch. Roland grimaced, and Jo scowled as two more teenagers Drew and Roland’s age came around the corner of the aisle.

Both were dressed in pristine white pants and light pastel-colored shirts, like they had just left a country-club, though the slightly larger of the two boys with brown hair cut into tresses wore his long-sleeve shirt tied around his waist so he could show off his muscular arms with the sleeveless shirt underneath.

His smaller companion, with curly blonde hair and glasses, still had his shirt on, a very light sweater over it, and carried in his hand a closed manilla envelope. From her counter, Heather noticed the two and for a brief moment her expression soured.

Across the floor, Mabel noticed Roland and the McCormicks, plus the two preppy boys. “Oh… there he is.”

“Who are they?” Dipper asked.

“No good shtunks; keep your eye on ‘em,” Shermie, still leafing through his pull list, warned quietly while watching the confrontation.

Nano’s expression was harsh, the old woman looking halfway ready to get up and walk over.

Trip Vanderhoff did not disappoint. “Honestly though, the look is missing something. How about putting on another hundred pounds and letting that neckbeard grow in, Andrew? Then at least you’ll look as pathetic as you act.”

“Yeah, you can’t have people mistaking you for someone who isn’t a loser,” his brother Van added.

“Seriously?” Dipper asked.

Mabel winced. “Wow, getting some bad vibes coming from the Northwest.”

Misao checked the directions. “But they are standing to the south…”

Jo liked to bully and annoy her brother, but she was the only one allowed to. “You’d better not be walking in here just to talk crap to my brother, Vanderhoff!”

“As fun and easy as that is? No, Josephine, I’m here to ask Heather out to the Homecoming Dance.”

Heather grimaced.

Drew tensed. “As if she’d go with you.”

Trip smirked. “Why not? I’m good-looking, I’ve got money, and I know how to talk to a girl without my voice cracking–Drew. Besides, I’ve got an ace in the hole. Watch and learn, dweeb, and maybe one day when you’re like 40? You’ll finally get that pity date.”

Tossing the envelope to himself, he walked with a swagger over to the café counter. Noticing some candy suckers in a glass jar up for sale, he grabbed and unwrapped one to pop in his mouth before leaning against the counter in front of Heather.

Heather was on the clock, so she greeted the young man with a warm, professional smile. “Hey Trip, I hope you’re going to pay for that.”

“Oh don’t worry about that; my Dad owns this building, remember?” Trip reminded her and everyone within earshot.

“How can I forget?” Heather’s tone was light, stiff.

Dipper shook his head slowly. “He really is one of those guys.”

Mabel grimaced. “It’s like the worst parts of Gideon and Pacifica had a baby and it moved to Hollywood to become famous.”

“Er ist eine kotzbrocken…” Misao seethed.

Heather held true to her profession. “So! What can I get you?”

Trip reached up with his free hand and flicked his curly hair as he offered the envelope to her. “You can get together with me for the Homecoming Dance, what do you say?”

Heather looked at the envelope and, dreading the contents, looked back up at Trip. “What is this?”

“Open it,” he insisted, “It’s something you’ll find interesting.”

Jo whispered aside to Drew and Roland. “Five dollars says that it’s blackmail material.”

“He’s not that stupid,” Drew muttered back.

“You do realize how vast that threshold is, right?” Roland reminded him.

Taking care, Heather opened the envelope and pulled out the plastic-wrapped book inside. In an instant, her eyes flew wide and she dropped it like it were pictures of her parents splattered all over the inside of her garage. “Oh my God!”

Jo looked at Drew. “Just PayPal it to me.”

Heather picked it up again, however, her hands trembling. She looked at Trip then back at the book. “No way…”

Slowly, she pulled the comic book sitting in a protective plastic bag. Across its top read its title “Who is afraid of… The Big Bad Beetleborgs” over the trio of insect-themed armored heroes striking heroic poses. In its corner, were the words “Issue #1!” in smaller but no less eye-catching print.

Drew caught sight of it first by a split second. “… No freaking way…”

Roland’s eyes practically fell out of his head. “A first edition of Big Bad Beetleborgs #1?!”

Trip glanced out the corner of his eye at Drew, before speaking to Heather. “I know how much you love comic books, what with you working here, so I thought: What would be the best gift to court the fairest Heather and invite her to the Homecoming Dance?”

Drew could not hold it in. “You just… do you even realize what you’re giving her?!”

Trip and Van both turned their attention fully to Drew as he rushed over to them, Roland and Jo right behind him. Trip’s smile grew to a nasty edge as he shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, why don’t you tell everyone?”

Drew gestured to the comic, barely keeping his composure.

“Only two hundred of those comics were ever printed!” Drew looked at it, and his eyes got bigger. In the upper right hand corner, a sticker reading “Dusk 2 Dawn” with the price of “$ 0.79” underneath it.

The color drained entirely from his face, Jo and Roland were just as flabbergasted. He looked back up at Trip. “It’s one of the Dusk 2 Dawn copies.”

A familiar name caught Dipper and Mabel’s attention, while Shermie and Nano both sat up in their seats, much more alert.

“The holy grail,” Roland said.

“There are only two comics with that sticker in existence,” Jo murmured. “Trip must’ve paid out the nose for this!”

“Exactly two million, one hundred seventy three thousand, six hundred eighteen dollars,” Trip revealed.

Van added. “And sixty-nine cents.”

Trip offered his hand back over his shoulder to his brother, who gave him five. “Nice.”

Bringing his hand back onto the counter, he leaned into it. “It took like two weeks worth of allowance to save up to it, but only the best for the best, you know? So, Homecoming?”

Heather was frozen where she stood, unsure of how to respond. “Huh uh… what? Whoa, this is um… this is…”

Trip performed a flip of his hair. “Come on, you can’t say no to something like this…”

Heather looked down at the comic, then at his smiling face. “… How can I?”

Misao’s gray eyes looked black as they narrowed. “Vile, filth…”

Mabel’s face darkened, so did Dipper’s. Putting someone on the spot in public with a gift like that, even a nice one, was straight up coercion.

Drew gave Heather a long look, then stepped forward and between her and Trip–to the surprise of Jo and Roland. “That’s enough Trip, back off. You know exactly how much Heather cares about the Beetleborgs, so you’re going to force this on her?”

Heather let out a relieved breath, as Trip jumped in surprise that Drew would step outside of his place. “Come on, Andrew, I spent over two milli to get this thing and I’m giving it to her.”

“And all she has to do is be your arm candy for Homecoming, right?”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it like that, but that’s how business works, nerd. I have something she wants, and I'll give it to her for something I want” Trip looked towards Heather. “And you don’t want to turn down a piece of history, do you?”

“Lord why you gotta be testin’ me today? Mmm!” Nano seethed.

Shermie glanced towards his grandkids and their friend. All three radiated an intent to harm that could be seen if one looked hard enough–but Dipper’s stony glare bordered on murderous.

Heather stared at the comic, looked up at Trip, then down at the comic. She tightened her jaw, and gripped the edges of her apron. Drew could see the conflict warring under her placid, barista-trained façade, and her eyes grow watery–like she was about to make the choice to cut her own arm off.

… Heather…? He thought.

Finally, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I… uh… I can’t. I already have plans… that evening…”

Well, that didn’t sound like a problem with Trip. He stepped way too close to the counter. “Well, then cancel. Tell them someone had a better bid.”

She looked at him, incensed. “Excuse you? I can’t cancel.”

Trip gestured down to the comic, then at her. “Well you’d better!”

Drew grabbed Trip by the upper arm to rein him in. “You heard what she said, man.”

Trip wrenched his arm free of Drew, and Van roughly pushed him back. “Don’t touch me, trash.”

Heather saw red. “I’m definitely not going with you, Trip!”

He turned and he met her defiant glare, then looked at Drew, his eyes widened behind his glasses as he put 10 and 0 together.

He pointed back and forth between the two of them. “What? With him?!”

Drew recoiled. “Whoa what?!”

Heather had the same dumbfounded look. “Uh…?! Hey, hold on…!”

Trip Vanderhoff was the son of one of the richest people in Los Angeles, which said a lot in a town of A-list actors, directors, and producers. From as far as he could remember, there was one thing that no one said to him, ever, and that was no–not his father, not his mother, not his stepmothers, and certainly not gutter trash on the street.

His composure returned as a disturbing calm that settled on his features. He flashed Drew that nasty smile, and shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I suppose that’s fine then.”

Opening the plastic seal of the comic, he shook the book into his hand… and took it in both. “I guess I won’t be needing this garbage anymore.”

In horror, Drew realized what Trip was about to do, and lunged forward right into Van’s outstretched arm. “NO!”

“You Godless moron!” Jo yelled with him.

“Don’t do it!” Roland shouted among just about every other guest in the shop.

Drew lunging for him in vain, Trip let out a loud blowing sound against the paper of the comic as he faked ripping it in half. In the brief instant that followed, Drew thought he felt his heart drop through his stomach and go crashing down until it somehow ended up in his left shoe.

One of the originals… and he just… He thought in a near delirious haze of despair. The haze cleared in the next instant, when Trip held up the undamaged comic.

Seeing the brief instant of light dying in Drew’s eyes was worth it, and he let out a hyena-like peal of laughter. “Psyche~”

“What the heck,” Mabel murmured, more a statement of bewilderment than an actual question. Then she saw her brother move.

“Hahahaha! He got you good, McCormhick!” Van said as he pushed the rattled Drew back into Jo and Roland’s arms.

Trip faked wiping away a tear. “Man, the look on your face! That was just priceless!”

A hand tightly gripped his shoulder. “Wait ‘til everybody sees the look on yours.”

Trip was pulled around, his eyes widening with panic when he saw the stark fury in Dipper’s. An instant later, the taller young man’s fist collided with his jaw–the punch flinging off Trip’s glasses and sending him crashing against the counter. Stumbling, the young man slipped from the counter and fell face first onto the floor.

The whole bookstore went dead quiet, everyone involved in the confrontation in particular recoiling as Trip began sobbing like a struck child. Clutching his dislodged glasses against his face, Trip looked up at Dipper, tears filling his eyes. “What the hell is wrong with-?!”

“Shut up!” Dipper yelled. “I don’t care how much money you have, you don’t treat anyone like that!”

Grabbing Trip by his arm, he hauled him to his feet and shoved the crying millionaire to the door of the store. “Get the hell out!”

“Hey!”

He turned around, and there was Van barreling towards him to grab and start punching him like every dumb kid in a fight did. “Get your hands off my brother-!”

Sidestepping him, Dipper grabbed and shoved him into Trip, sending both brothers crashing through the doors and onto the sidewalk outside. Kicking it open after them, he held it open and glowered at both brothers.

“Let that be a warning to both of you! If you come in here acting like douchebags again, I will beat you over the head with your brother! Now get out of here!”

He yanked the doors closed and locked them, fury flooding his thoughts. There is only so much of that crap I’m going to tolerate.

“Dipper!” Mabel walked up to him, her eyes sparkling. “That was awesome!” She stopped and looked at his fist then up to his face. “Also violent, what the heck?”

“The last time I tiptoed around people like them almost got us killed. Repeatedly. I’m not putting up with it, here.”

“So you smack them around?” Misao asked.

“The way I see it; we were going to deal with them sooner or later. I chose sooner.”

All three looked out the glass doors; Trip was being hustled into the back of a luxury SUV by his brother and their personal driver, still clutching his face and bawling his eyes out so loud they could still hear him from inside.

Misao looked up at Dipper, her eyebrows raised and her lips pulled into a gentle smile. “I like you.”

Dipper’s cheeks flushed slightly. “Heh, uh… thanks.”

The German wasn’t the only one impressed, as Drew, Jo, and Roland made their way over. From everything he remembered about the Pines twins, Dipper just hauling off and decking someone (deservedly, no less) was the furthest thing to expect from him. Mabel too, it’d been over ten minutes and she hadn’t made anything weird.

For Drew, Dipper was suddenly the coolest and most insane person he’d met since Nano. Like out of a comic book or its live action adaptation directed by someone competent, he just clobbered the richest boy in town and didn’t care!

As for Jo? She now understood her brother’s hopeless mooning over Heather after the most satisfying moment in her life. Unlike Drew, she was already working on the perfect line to make herself the sole occupant of Dipper’s thoughts.

Dipper looked back at Roland. “Oh, hey Roland.”

“Uh, hi,” Roland replied.

Mabel’s smile became painfully strained as she faced Roland. “Hey… Roland… um… been a while…?”

Roland felt the strain, too. “… Yeah.”

“I just want to start by saying that I am really, really sorry for all the racist stuff I did when we were kids.”

Misao to look up at her with wide eyes.

“He’s over it,” Jo cut Roland off before he could respond and introduced herself to Dipper. “I’m Josephine McCormick, but you can call me Jo.”

Dipper stared at her. “Hey Jo, I’m Dipper. This is my sister Mabel, and our… uh... friend Misao.”

Jo smirked. Heh, got ‘em.

Drew introduced himself next. “I’m Drew and uh… yeah, you hit Trip Vanderhoff. Not even his own father hit him.”

Dipper shrugged his shoulders. “My Dad never hit me either, but I know to act better than that.”

Drew grimaced, like something had been missed, but he kept going. “So do you like comics?”

“Sure, but I’m not a regular reader.”

Seeing the opportunity for a fresh start, Drew turned to Roland. “Hey, you can help Dipper get a pull list started and catch up.”

Roland relaxed a little bit with the opportunity to start anew. “Sounds good, have you ever read Beetleborgs?”

Dipper shook his head. “No.”

Heather came around to the front of the counter. “Well… if you want to read the very first issue? Now is a good chance.”

Dipper, Mabel, Misao, Drew, Jo, and Roland looked at Heather… and their expressions went blank as all sorts of emotions piled up in the rush to get there first.

Heather was holding Trip’s two million dollar comic book, with the same blank look.

= - = 4 = - =

The lives of these kids is going to be very interesting in the proverbial sense.
 
The Princess and the Safe Kid

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#5
And on that note, the third of our triad arrives.

= - = 5 = - =

|The Princess and The Safe Kid|

Marco Diaz knew what he was signed up for within the first five minutes of meeting Star Butterfly. He wasn’t on board with it until five hours later when he got to maul a bunch of monsters alongside her in a convenience store parking lot. After that, spending every other day fighting the forces of evil, guiding and hanging out with Star in his world, and going on adventures into hers was pretty much the best.

At least it was until that lawyer lizard guy showed up.

Toffee, that’s what his name was. He wasn’t sure about where he came from or what his deal was, but he wanted to destroy Star’s wand and he almost got her to do it.

Well, he did get her to do it… but the only thing that happened was that he got destroyed with it and Star got her magic wand back.

It came back wrong, though, which was why he and Star spent a precious Saturday morning cleaning off green glitter gunk off every inch of Star’s bedroom–a magically conjured tower that stuck out haphazardly from the side of the Diaz family’s A-Frame style home.

After getting examined by the living embodiment of Star’s Book of Spells and given a poor bill of health, the wand had gone off and splattered her room and everything in it.

“Hey Star, if your wand’s actually broken don’t you think you should get it fixed?” Marco asked, sweeping the last of the magical goop into a portal carved into the middle of Star’s floor. He was wearing his favorite red hoodie and brown skinny jeans, but with the addition of an apron and a face mask to avoid breathing in strange fumes.

Star was on the other side of the hole in the floor, pushing more of the green mess into it with a broom. “Well, Glossaryck wasn’t too worried about it. He said it was just broken.”

Marco wasn’t sure about the assurance from the little man in the book, which was sitting on her bed undisturbed at the moment. “That guy is obtuse and speaks in metaphors; you think he might be low-balling the problem because it’s some kind of test?”

Star pushed the last of the mess her wand made all over her room into the portal. “Pshaw, speaks in ‘metaphors’. Really, Marco? He only speaks English and Mewnman.”

Did Star know what a metaphor was? Thinking about it and knowing Star, he realized that was a silly question with an obvious answer. “We should at least go to Quest Buy to see if we can get it repaired? Mage Squad might know how to fix it.”

“It’s fine,” Star insisted.

She held the wand aloft. “Watch! Radiant Shadow Transform!”

Marco yelped. “Star wait-!”

In a flash Marco transformed. His hoodie and skinny jeans flashed into a lovely and poofy violet ball gown, his brown hair sprang out in great volume until it reached his waist length even tied into a ponytail, and his face was touched with the faintest enchantments leaving him strikingly beautiful, a true princess.

Princess Marco looked down at himself. “Princess Marco-?! Star!”

“See? The wand still works!” Star tossed it to herself in victory, and in a rare moment of clumsiness missed the catch, causing her to scramble to secure it. “Whoa, oh no!”

Marco folded his arms. “Okay, but can you change me back?”

Star aimed the wand at her face. “Watch.”

In a flash of light, Marco was still Princess Marco, but also a centaur, the lower half of his dress now filled out over a horse’s body.

“I am so sorry,” Star prefaced everything that was about to happen.

Marco sighed. “It’s fine, try again.”

Star aimed the wand again, and transformed Marco into Princess Marco, but now a tiny butterfly.

“I was wrong! This is weird! Too weird!” Marco shrieked in a small, high pitched voice as he fluttered around with big, pretty purple wings.

“Uh…! Hang on! Hang on!” Star zapped Marco again into Princess Marco, but now a blob of purple slime in a matching dress.

“Try it again!” Marco gurgled.

Star did so, turning Marco into Princess Marco, but a large werewolf with brown fur, gnashing jaws lined with razor sharp teeth, and a large powerful physique tightly wrapped in a beautiful violet dress. He looked down at himself. “Wait, hold on, this one’s kind of cool.”

Star agreed. “Ooh, the She-Wolf of St. Olga’s.”

The wand went off on its own, turning Werewolf Princess Marco back to Princess Marco.

Princess Marco looked down at himself, then back at Star. “We need to get it fixed.”

Star looked at the wand, huffed, and walked over to her bed and the Book of Spells. “If Glossaryck couldn’t fix it, I don’t think Mage Squad can.”

Marco disagreed as he followed her. “I think he can, he just won’t tell us how or why. All weird mentor guys are like that.”
Sitting on the bed next to the book, Star flopped backward onto it and sighed. “Glossaryck, how do I fix my wand?”

From the book, a muffled voice replied. “To fix the wand and set magic free, the piece displaced must be cleaved.”

“See? Obtuse and speaks in metaphors! But all we have to do is that, and we’ll fix it.”

Star looked up from her wand at Marco. “What does that even mean?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, but if I had to guess? Something that’s missing needs to be cut in half.”

“No, I mean, metaphors. What are those?”

Marco opened his mouth to answer, stopped, then sighed. “Metaphor, noun, a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.”

Star worked that out in her head for about two and a half seconds. “Wait, that’s it?”

“That is the literal definition.” Marco headed for the door. “I’m going to change my clothes. I still want to go to the park.”

Star brightened. “Meet you downstairs–and I will fix this!”

“Right, right…” Not two steps out into the hallway, Marco ran into his mother as she was bending down to drop off a basket full of his clothes fresh from the dryer. Angie Diaz had heard his voice as it opened.

“Marco, I just finished with your clean clothes for the-” She stopped and gave a bit of a start seeing her son dressed as such a lovely young woman. “Oh!”

Today was now perfect. “Uh… hi Mom?”

Angie looked Marco over, and uncertainty flashing over her gentle features.

He wasn’t too concerned. It looked weird, but there was an entirely rational reason (relatively speaking) for this and this was not weird. “Look, I can explain…”

Angie held up her hand. “Marco, there is nothing you need to explain, it’s all right.”

She rested that hand on his poofy-dressed shoulder. “You look absolutely lovely, and if you need some advice about how to look or acclimate…”

Marco sighed. “Mom, it’s fine, don’t worry. Star just did a magic thing… it’s not…”

Angie snatched her hand back. “Oh, I wasn’t worried!”

“Are you sure? Because you seemed-”

“No, nonono, I just didn’t expect to see you in a dress!”

Much quieter, she added: “Or that you’d be so beautiful…”

“What was that-?”

“Marco, clothes.” She picked up the basket again and shoved it into his arms. Taking the hint, Marco stumbled into his room and bumped the door closed with his hip.

Standing there in the hallway, Angie quietly mulled over the unexpected encounter and came to a conclusion. Raphael and I should try for a girl…

@@@@@

“Are you sure you don’t want me to try fixing it?” Star asked Marco. The two of them were on their way the short distance to Echo Creek Park from the Diaz home.

Back in another red hoodie and brown skinny jeans, Marco looked like himself again, though he was still breathtakingly beautiful and his hair remained in its long-flowing ponytail down his back. Despite this, he wasn’t upset.

“We can do it after we know the wand will work. Besides, being Princess Marco is okay,” Marco admitted before looking at his reflection in the window of a business. “You see this? I look great.”

Star watched the air sparkle around Marco, and her eyes started to sparkle, too. “Oh yeahyeahyeahyeah.”

She looked down at her wand. I’ve messed up spells before. So what if I can’t change Marco back right now? I’ll fix it later… if I can.

She closed her eyes. Stupid Glossaryck. How is it broken? How do I fix it?! What the heck do I have to cleave to set magic free?! Magic isn’t even in a cage! Is it?

“When we get to the park, you can practice with your new wand.” Marco’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “That way, when we’re sure it works…”

She lit up. “We’ll change you back! Good idea, Marco.”

“We’ll just find a clear spot where it’s safe…” Marco trailed off when he heard a distressing sound–like a horse crying at the top of its lungs, its voice pitching and cracking in weird ways as it hollered.

“What… what is that?”

“It sounds like Warnicorns fighting, or mating.” Star paused for just a moment. “Honestly it’s hard to tell what’s happening even if you’re there.”

Marco did not want to visualize the reproductive habits of warnicorns. “Let’s go find… it?”

They abruptly came upon it the second they reached the park’s car lot. On the grass in front of an SUV that probably cost as much as the Diaz home, a curly-haired blonde kid their age was screaming and crying, pounding on the grass with one hand while clutching his cheek with the other.

Another kid, a little bit taller than Marco and more well built, was standing over him with an uncertain expression. Next to them both, their chauffeur had a stiff expression trying to not break into a satisfied smile.

Marco recognized the crying horse of a young man on the spot. Aw man, what’s he doing here?

Brittney Wong, head of Echo Creek Academy’s cheer squad and occasional pain in the throat, was an aggravating narcissist who ruthlessly judged people based on their wealth and popularity in relation to her own. That is to say, she treated him and everyone at the school like garbage and that they should be grateful for it. Brittney was an awful person, but Marco would happily be locked in a room with her for two weeks rather than deal with the tragedy of affluenza that was Trip Vanderhoff.

“On second thought, let’s just go-” Star was already walking over to him. “Star!”

Trip, still neck deep in his hysterics, clawed and ripped the grass from the ground with his free hand. “WHO DOES THAT? WHO HITS PEOPLE LIKE THAT?! WHO DID THAT GUY THINK HE WAS?! I’M TRIP VANDERHOFF, MY DAD OWNS HALF THIS CITY!”

“Dude, chill…” Van said, before he noticed Star.

“HE CAN’T HIT ME! NOBODY HITS ME!”

Star leaned over him a bit. “Whoa, who hit you?”.

Van quickly threw up his hands, in a desperate bid to wave Star back. “Hey, no! Get away from him!”

Trip looked up, and in his anger didn’t register who he was talking to. “GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME! I CAN BUY AND SELL YOU, YOU DUMB BIMBO!”

“Ooookay?” Star pulled back and leaned towards Marco. “Who is this strange horse boy?”

Marco didn’t bother whispering back. “He’s just another rich kid in LA with more money than sense, decency, and taste.”

Trip stopped his braying and stared at the both of them. He was frozen in place by the vision in front of him. All of his pain and woes were forgotten the moment her face registered. Even the afternoon day seemed brighter.

Van was silent for a different reason. Trip had told off the magical princess from another dimension, and rightfully feared that she was going to invoke a thorny doom from beneath the crust of the Earth.

Fortunately for him, dooms thorny or otherwise weren’t in the cards at all. Marco looked from Star to Trip and raised a hand in a reassuring gesture. “Look, sorry for walking in on whatever… this is, but we’ll be going.”

Trip took off his glasses, and began wiping his eyes. “No, no wait… I am so sorry you had to see me like this. I am usually much better composed…”

Van’s mouth dropped open. “Uhh…?”

The struggling to not smile Chauffeur watched in silence.

Marco nonchalantly brushed it off. “It’s okay, man, we all have bad days.”

Star agreed. “And bad days can still have good endings! You just need to smile and look on the bright side! So get on up there, wipe away your tears, and seize the rest of your day!”

Marco hooked his arm in front of him in encouragement. “Exactly, do something that’ll take your mind off it.”

“Go play in the park, draw some rainbows…” Star raised a clenched fist. “Get revenge!”

Marco placed his hand over her fist and lowered it. “Turn it down just a notch.”

“Oh… right…” Star looked aside and let out an awkward laugh.

Trip got up. “Thanks for the advice, I’m really sorry–again.”

“Like I said, it’s fine. Don’t worry.” He turned to Star. “I think we should go somewhere a little more isolated? The park might not be the best place to practice with your wand.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. So maybe we can try somewhere else?”

Marco thought about it. “I know, there’s this old house up near the mountains. No one goes around there, come on.”

He left and Star followed. She looked back at Trip, Van, and their Chauffeur and mouthed “Get revenge! All of the Revenge!” with a raised clenched fist.

“Star!” Marco had caught her.

Star looked back at him. “What?!”

Marco rolled his eyes, then called to Trip. “You got this, man, don’t forget it!”

Trip watched them go, and he could hear gentle, romantic soft rock in the air in the wake of the radiance that traipsed into his life and out of it again. “Yeah… okay…”

Van was at a loss. Trip’s tantrums were something only money could stop, after this one he was sure their Dad would be buying a new stealth fighter to calm him down.

He edged closer to his brother, watching Star and Marco leave with a doe-eyed look, and cleared his throat quietly. When he didn’t respond, Van reached out and waved his hand in front of Trip’s face.

“Trip, uh… bro?”

“Who was she…?”

Van followed Trip’s gaze, before snapping back to his brother. “Who…? Dude, that was the magic chick. You know, Star Butterfly?”

Trip looked up at him like the man was a god damned moron. “I know who she is! Who was that other girl, the super hot Latina in the skinny jeans?!”

That warranted another double take, Van looking in the direction Marco and Star went. “Uh…”

“God, she was cuter than Heather. I’ve never seen her around before.”

Van looked back. “I’m pretty sure that was the guy she lives with, Marcel or something.”

Trip sneered in disgust. “Well you’re wrong.”

“But…”

Trip held his hand up in Van’s face and closed his eyes to put a picture of Star’s ever present companion in his mind. “Marcel is what… twice as heavy and has a unibrow? Doesn’t speak much English?”

“He definitely-”

“Perhaps she’s his sister?” Their driver interrupted.

Van looked at the black-suited old man. “He doesn’t have a sister, Duncan… I think?”

“It’s Dudley, sir,” the chauffeur corrected.

“Whatever.”

Not even the dull ache of his jaw bothered Trip now. “When I find out who she is, I’m definitely taking her to Homecoming.”

Van’s mouth fell open again. “… Wait, what about Heather?”

Trip huffed and tossed his shoulders in a shrug. “What about that bad investment? If that fat joke Andrew is Heather’s type, I’ll just go and rub it in her face when I show up with that goddess.”

Space Unicorn~! Soaring through the Stars~!

Trip pulled his smartphone from his pocket and frowned when he saw the ID. He looked at his brother. “Why would Zoom Comics be calling me?”

Van shrugged his shoulders.

Dudley spoke up. “I believe it’s because you left your comic book behind, Master Trip.”

He had watched everything that happened in the store from outside, with the biggest smile on his face. It threatened to come back when Trip turned and violently swatted his brother upside his head. “You left the comic behind, you idiot!”

Van shrank back from the blow. “Hey, I was busy trying to back you up!”

“And a fat lot that did, doofus!” Trip lowered his hand, seething. “Great, now I have to go back there to Andrew, his dumb friends, and that Pine Tree…!”

Trip stopped. He just so happened to be looking in the direction of the Los Angeles mountains, the same direction Star and the skinny jeans girl went off in. Remembering what she had said about an old house, and what he knew about it, a grin spread slowly across his lips with the formulation of a plan.

“Seize the day, indeed,” he said as he brought his ringing phone up and thumbed the Accept button.

= - = 5 = - =
Adventure awaits all those on a collision course with destiny.
 
The Haunted Mansion

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#6
= - = 6 = - =

|The Haunted Mansion|

On the other end of the line, Roland drummed his fingers on the countertop in front of Heather, holding the store’s cordless phone to his ear. Jo, Drew, Dipper, Mabel, and Misao were gathered around him. On the other side of the counter, Heather looked down at the comic with that same blank look.

“Trip Vanderhoff.” He sounded far off from the loudly sobbing wreck he left the store as.

Roland noticed that. “Hey Trip. First things first, Nano says you’re banned from the shop for a month.”

Trip snorted back at him. “My father owns that building, so she’s wrong. If I ever want to go into your lame comic store again–which I don’t–I will.”

“Uh huh, the second thing is? You left your Beetleborgs comic at the counter.”

On his end of the line, Trip shot his brother a dirty look again for leaving the comic, but was in the mood to make lemonade. “I figured. Look, I’m over at the Hillhurst Vineyard. Why don’t you bring the comic over to me and that’ll be that.”

Van’s eyes shot wide. “What?”

Trip raised his hand, silencing him.

That gave Roland pause, too. “Hillhurst? What are you doing over at that dump?”

Drew and Jo looked at one another. Dipper raised an eyebrow at their stunned reaction.

On the other end of the lind, Van whispered to his brother. “Dude, we are not going to Hillhurst!”

Trip shushed him with a sharp gesture of his hand, and winked at his brother. “It’s none of your business, but my Dad’s thinking about buying it and breaking into the wine game and he wanted someone to have a look at the condition of the vineyards. Since I am a young connoisseur myself, with a vested interest in oenology-”

Roland cut him off. “… No, you’re right, it’s none of my business and I don’t care. When do you want your book back?”

“I’ll be here all day, so feel free to come bring it down and hand it over. Oh, and tell Andrew I said good job hitting above his weight. Not that there’s much left above that.”

Roland rolled his eyes and grunted. “Goodbye Trip.”

Jo folded her arms. “He’s up to something.”

Drew didn’t like it one bit. “Why does he want you to come to Hillhurst?”

Roland nodded. “I don’t know, but there’s something going on in that spoiled melon of his.”

Dipper spoke up. “What’s Hillhurst?” He glanced at Drew and Jo. “Is it someplace bad?”

Heather answered him. “It’s this old abandoned mansion north of here, at the foot of the mountains.”

Dipper’s interest was piqued. “Is it haunted, or something?”

Heather nodded “So haunted. It’s got a threatening aura and everything.”

Now he wanted to see it for himself. “Huh… well color me curious.”

Mabel let out a chuckle. “Sidetracked already, bro?”

Dipper looked at his sister and narrowed his eyes at her with a short “Hmph.”

Rising from her table, Nano walked over and waved a finger at Heather. “All that’s up there are rumors, graffiti, and asbestos.” She looked around at the other kids. “And I’d rather none of you be messin’ around up there unless you want some kind of cancer or mold growin’ in your lungs.”

Heather shrugged her shoulders. “Hey, I’ve never been up there. I just know what people have said about it. Like, I heard that the guy who used to own it–Doctor Hillhurst–snatched people off the street by the hundreds during the 1930s, did weird experiments on them, and buried them under the vineyard.”

“That sounds mad spooky,” Mabel whispered to her brother.

Dipper nodded slowly. “Yeah…”

Seeing Dipper’s interest, Jo smiled. “There’s some kind of weird energy going on up there. I mean, fires burn through there every couple of years, and it never gets touched. Like even the fire is afraid of it.”

“That’s hogwash,” Nano argued. “The vineyard is a natural fire break. Of course that place won’t burn.”

Shermie smirked at Nano’s back and looked back down at his comic stack. “Some people swear up and down the Black Dahlia was murdered there.”

Nano whirled on him. “Sherman, not you, too.”

Shermie grinned. “They say her ghost still haunts the place, dressed to the nines in a blood stained flapper dress.” He held his hands up like a forlorn spirit, wriggling his fingers and making a spooky noise.

Another customer, a girl with dark blue hair under a green hat reading a manga about spirals, spoke up. “I’ve seen actual monsters in the windows.”

A short, round bespectacled boy who was having a bit of a breathing problem near Misao and Mabel while staring at them, spoke. “The… the Manson family tried to squat there… and they ran screaming from the place…”

The customer who bought the volumes of Crossed looked up from his books. “New Coke was created in the basement.”

Mabel recoiled from the revelation, and snickered. “Truly a place of evil.”

Nano shook her head. “See? The only reason people are scared is because of silliness like that!”

Though if there was a place to make New Coke, she couldn’t think of anything worse.

Misao giggled. “My, it sounds like it’d be exciting to visit and explore.”

“And scary~” Mabel added with a nudge to her brother.

Dipper really wanted to go. “Well… if Trip wants you to go up and bring the comic to him, we can come along and make sure he doesn’t try to pull any funny business.”

Roland looked up at Dipper. “You sure?”

Jo lit up. “Really?”

Dipper nodded. “I’ve had my fair share of the stupid, petty, and rich. If they pull something stupid, I’ll let them both have it.”

“We’ll both let ‘em have it,” Mabel added.

Righteous fire burned in Misao’s eyes. “And I will make it a trio of gifting. Three to two, we will win!”

Jo’s smile at Dipper became an infectious grin. “You are so awesome.”

Dipper looked at her. “Huh?”

“I mean, uh, thanks for the hand, bro.” Jo looked away from Dipper and smirked. She was too smooth.

Dipper looked warily from the corner of his eye at Jo. In the back of his mind he could hear the soft, schadenfreudian chuckling of a redhead in flannel.

Drew rested a hand on Roland’s shoulder. “Well if they’re going, I’m coming too.”

Roland smiled back at him. “Man, you know I wasn’t leaving without my main wingman.”

“Wingmen,” Jo corrected. “I’m coming too. Just for a chance to see Vanderhoff get his block knocked off again.”

And watch Dipper do it, Drew and Roland thought as one.

Mabel called to Shermie. “Sherpa, can you give us a ride over there?”

“If I do that, no one’s going to be at the house to meet your stuff,” Shermie replied. “You kids go out and handle your business, then be home before it gets too dark, all right?”

Dipper smiled at Shermie’s explicit approval for them to head off on an adventure. “Thanks, Grandpa Shermie!”

“And remember, if you can punch it in the schnozz? It ain’t a ghost!”

Nano’s hands were firmly on her hips. “Ya’ll go up there? You best stay out of that house and conduct yourselves accordingly.”

Roland looked at Nano. “We’ll be good, I promise. And I’ll be back later to finish my shift.”

“G’on and don’t worry about it. I’ll clock you out and tell your Mom and Dad I had you run an errand for me.” She gave him a knowing smile.

Roland nodded and headed for the door. “Thanks Nano.”

Heather got up. “I’m going to man the café, if Trip so much as mentions my name? Please punch him again.”

“You bet!” Dipper said, following Roland.

That reminded Drew. “Uh, Heather?”

She turned her attention to him. “Yeah, Drew?”

He wanted to ask “Were you going to ask me to the dance?” but the words jammed up in his throat.

Ugh, I can’t ask about that, now. She was super embarrassed after what Trip pulled. If I went trying to ask, she’d hate me. There was no time to overthink; he took the safe route out. “… Uh… have a good rest of your shift, okay? Sorry about all of this.”

Heather found his contrition bemusing, but accepted it anyway. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Drew, but thanks.”

The two shared a smile, before Drew turned and hurried to the door. Jo was waiting just outside with a small scowl. “Really?”

“What?” He already knew what she was on about.

“You should’ve asked her to the dance.”

Drew shook his head. “No way, it wasn’t the right time.”

Jo blew out a sigh of exasperation. “You are such a wuss.”

Drew wasn’t in a mood to argue about it further, but she soldiered ahead before he could get a word in edgewise.

Frowning at her back, he passed along the part of the shop’s exterior with posters advertising various products–action figures, new issues of comics, and things like that. Out the corner of his eye, he saw the movie poster for the upcoming, but delayed Big Bad Beetleborgs film. In that brief instant, he saw his reflection over the armored form of Blue Beet, the Blue Stingerborg Beetleborg.

If I could be even a hundredth as heroic as you, being able to stand up to the Vanderhoffs, talking to Heather, and even asking her out would be the least of my problems. He thought as he let out a sigh.

“Hey Drew!” Jo shouted. “Keep up, the bus is almost here!”

With a final look at the poster, Drew ran to catch up.

@@@@@

Regardless of what people heard about it, the facts about Hillhurst Mansion were indisputable. Built in the late 1890s by the good Dr. Hillhurst, a surgeon with a history of rumored questionable practices; he called the Victorian-style mansion his home and office until the dawn of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Following his death, with no wife, children or distant family to claim it, and the eerie rumors that surrounded him, the mansion was left to time.

The land around the house became part of a Vineyard that struggled through the decades, only going out of business at the turn of the century. The overgrown vines and grasses around the building covered in cracked, peeling paint with dirty and broken windows, added to its dilapidated, menacing presence. It was a foreboding place just to look at from the outside, who knew what laid inside?

Van Vanderhoff was nervous because Trip’s plan suggested that they would be finding out.

As Roland, Drew, and Jo came into view, walking down the path, Trip was practically ecstatic to see them.

“Roland Williams, I knew you couldn’t be man enough to come without the squad.”

Van audibly swallowed and pursed his lips together to quell his anxiety, and found it lacking. “I don’t like this idea, bro.”

“Relax, it’ll be fine,” Trip quietly promised his brother.

Drew scowled at the Vanderhoff brothers and Jo glanced off towards the vineyard. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, but nothing could be taken at face value with these two. “What do you think they have in mind?”

Drew shrugged his shoulders. “Something really petty and dumb.” He fell quiet as the three of them reached the two.

Trip, with a courteous smile, gestured in greeting to the trio. “Roland! I see you’ve brought Andrew and Josephine. Worried that I’d do something to you?”

Roland schooled his expression and avoided rolling his eyes. “I just wanted to make sure there were witnesses, I don’t need to be accused of anything I didn’t do.”

Placing a hand on his chest, Trip let out a melodramatic gasp. “Do you think I’d do that to you?”

“Maybe.” Swinging his backpack off his shoulder, Roland unzipped it to pull out the Big Bad Beetleborgs #1 in a clear plastic protective binder. “So here’s your book back, and we’ll call it good.”

Trip took the generously offered book and examined it through the plastic case. “Everything’s in order. Thank you, Roland, this is all I wanted.”

Drew sighed longingly at the sight of the book, before averting his eyes–in case Trip tried to destroy it.

In no hurry to look weak in front of the nerds, Van shored up his bravado and puffed out his chest. “So what are you going to do with it?”

Trip held up the comic and examined it. “Since I’d bought it for nothing, and definitely don’t need it anymore…”

He lowered it and smiled at Drew. “I want you to have it, Andrew.”

Drew needed a triple-take with Trip. “What…?!”

“Yeah right!” Jo snapped at him.

Roland glanced around in suspicion. “I call bull.”

Trip weighed the plastic-sealed comic in his hands, as he crunched numbers in his head. “All this amounts to is two weeks of allowance wasted, and since I still care about fair Heather I don’t mind parting with it so Andrew can give her something nice.”

“What’s the catch?” Jo demanded. “What do you want for it?”

“What could I possibly want from you?” Disgust dripped from Trip’s words, the very idea that they could give him anything he wanted offending him.

“My suffering?” Drew asked.

“His anguish?” Roland asked.

“His misery?” Jo asked.

Those were actually things he’d want, and get all in due time. “Ah, you three can be so amusing. No, I’m giving it to you and it’s completely yours… if you can get it.”

Drew tensed. “Get it?”

Turning around, Trip cocked back and let the comic fly like a frisbee, careening through the air in a climbing arc, it flew with ease through a window on the second floor. An impressive throw by itself, made more shocking that it was a two million dollar frisbee.

Jo looked from the window to Trip. “What the heck is wrong with you?!”

Trip shrugged his shoulders. “What? I don’t read your stupid Beetleborgs comics. It’s seriously all yours if you want to go into that old run down mansion to get it.”

With that, the two began to walk away. Their SUV pulled up, and the doors opened automatically for them. Van climbed in, but Trip stopped halfway after him and looked back at Drew, Jo, and Roland. “Or, you know, you can stand around looking like a bunch of pissants and leave it to rot with the rest of this dump, I don’t care.”

Agape, Drew stared at the window the flung comic had gone into, then at Trip. Drew stared at Trip, up at the house, back to Trip, back to the house, back to Trip again, and finally back at the window.

“You’re seriously going to let me have that two million dollar comic,” he asked the millionaire baby, looking at him again.

Trip nodded.

“One of the rarest in the world. To keep. With no other strings attached.”

“That’s right.

“And all I have to do is go into the vacant mansion with who knows what inside to get it.”

Trip gestured past him. “You should maybe ask what Josephine and Roland think.”

Drew turned back to Jo and Roland, seeking some kind of guidance, but they already were waiting past them on the porch by the slightly ajar front door.

“Hey, he said you can have it if you can get it,” Jo said.

“So let’s get it,” Roland said as he pulled the door open.

That’s all he needed to hear. He nodded to Trip. “Thanks for the comic, Vanderhoff!”

He bolted after them and up the steps to the front door. Coming to a stop, he, Jo, and Roland looked into the dusty, dimly lit interior beyond the threshold.

“Dark in there,” Jo murmured.

Roland waved his hand in front of his nose. “Musty, too.”

“Just try not to breathe anything in.” Drew said as he pulled out his smartphone, turned on its camera light, and crossed the threshold. “In and out, then we’re gone..”

As he stepped through the door, Roland behind him, Jo looked back at Trip–still watching from halfway inside his SUV. “You’d better not try anything Vanderhoff, or you’ll pay!” She pointed at his eyes and then at Trip, before disappearing inside.

The moment she went in, the door slammed shut behind her. Trip smiled and looked at his brother. “Phase one is complete.”

With no one around to see, Van melted back into the puddle of worry he was before the trio arrived. “Do we really have to do this?!”

“We absolutely have to!” Trip snapped at him. “First Andrew, then Pine Tree, and I’ll be able to enjoy the rest of my weekend.” He looked up to the front of the SUV. “Douglas? Take us around to the back.”

“It’s Dudley, sir,” the chauffeur reminded him, but nevertheless started up the car.

In the vineyard, as the SUV turned around and headed towards the back, Dipper peeked up over one of the unruly rows of overgrown trellises. Misao came up next, perched upon Mabel’s shoulders, holding her smartphone with the camera pointed towards the house.

“They just went inside?” Mabel asked.

“For a two million dollar comic, I would,” Dipper admitted.

Misao hummed. “They’re going around to the back. What is their plan?”

“Probably to scare the bejewels out of them,” Mabel said.

“Yeah,” Dipper called Roland’s phone, “I’ll let them know.”

Unfortunately the call dropped as soon as he made it. “Huh?”

He tried again, and the call dropped. “Crap, there’s no reception here.”

Just to their right, a girl with a low, detached voice spoke. “Well duh, why would there be any reception near a house full of monsters?”

The three looked over at the girl, crouched down and peering through a hole she cleared in the grapevines with her hands. All of them recognized her: the girl who claimed she’d seen monsters in the windows of the mansion.

“Uhh…?” Dipper began.

Mabel did as Mabel does. “Hi, I’m Mabel, this is my brother Dipper and the girl up top is Misao.”

“Hallo,” Misao greeted.

She looked up at Mabel, then at Misao perched comfortably on her shoulders. “I’m Janna, and you’ve got strong back.”

Mabel chuckled. “To the surprise of no one.”

“Why’d you follow us?” Dipper asked.

“Because nobody listened when I said there were monsters in the house.” Janna pulled out a pair of binoculars from her seafoam green jacket and looked through them at the house. “Normally I’d leave it at that, but you punched Trip and made him cry like a horse; so you’re cool.”

“You’re batting a thousand,” Mabel teased Dipper.

Dipper ignored Mabel’s jibe. “Hold on, there are really monsters in the house?”

“Yeah? Me and some fellow weirdos tried to do a B&E last week, but this disfigured monster guy broke the window trying to get at us.”

She handed Dipper her binoculars and pointed. “Look on the front porch, see where the window’s broken?”

Dipper raised the binoculars and looked. Sure enough, there was a shattered part of the window like someone had punched through it.

“Whatever it was spotted us while we were trying to get in through the front and it flipped out on us just as we got the lock popped. We bolted and ran until we were halfway back to town.”

She shook her head. “We couldn’t even get our foot in the door, it was such a drag.”

“Luckily,” Misao said, “No one’s screaming, so maybe they haven’t-”

Drew, Jo, and Roland’s screaming could be heard all the way out where they were in the vineyard.

“Verdammt!” Misao swore in alarm.

“Well, they’re being murdered,” Janna said casually before Dipper dropped her binoculars and bolted.

“Mabel, let’s go! Leave your phone with Misao.” Dipper ordered.

Janna called after him. “Try not to get eaten. I think we have some chemistry going, here.”

Mabel let Misao down off her shoulders and handed her the phone; the smaller girl looked at Janna, then back to the twins. “Don’t worry, we’ve dealt with worse than a monster in an old house.” She broke into a sprint for the house.

“We’re only getting them all out of there. Stay here and if anything looks too weird, try to call Shermie!” Dipper yelled.

“He’ll either save us or clean up!” Mabel, on her brother’s heels, called back

“I understand!” Misao called after them. “Be careful!”

With the twins bolting away, Janna turned to Misao. “So–you’re the FaithfulPony371, aren’t you?”

Pleasantly surprised, Misao nodded to Janna. “You’re the first person to recognize me.

= - = 6 = - =
 
Universally Reviled

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#7
= - = 7 = - =

|Universally Reviled|

The foyer of Hillhurst was a mess. Garbage littered the floors and eighty years of dust and cobwebs caked every surface. The windows facing outside were mostly boarded up, except for one nearest to the door, its lower half uncovered. The window was broken below the boards covering the rest of it, allowing light and fresh air into an otherwise stuffy and stale room.

“I don’t think it’s asbestos that gets anyone sick here,” Roland murmured. “This place hasn’t been cleaned in years.”

Drew pulled out his phone and turned on the light, leading him past the rectangle and slits of light covering barely a quarter of the room. “We won’t be long.”

“Yeah,” Jo whispered before the door swung closed behind them. They looked back at it for a brief moment; when nothing happened they headed on.

Drew reached the bottom of the curving staircase to the overlooking second floor balcony. He shone the light up the carpet-covered stairs, the piercing white glow catching the metal frames of paintings and gleaming off a dusty mirror at the stairs’ turn, before scattering off the cobweb encrusted suit of armor standing guard at the top of the stairs..

Jo looked at the finely carved wood railing and the paintings with a hum. “You’d think this place would be… worse than it is.”

Roland agreed. “Yeah, this place hasn’t had people living in it for over 80 years, you think it’d be…”

“Rotting?” Drew asked as they walked up the stairs.

“Nothing rots in Los Angeles,” Jo said, “But 80 years is a long time for this place to never have been ransacked.”

Drew saw what she meant when he reached the top of the stairs and saw the armor was intact. All it needed was some cleaning and polishing and it’d be good as new. Much of the house they’d seen so far, he realized, was the same way–dirty but undisturbed. “That is weird.”

Passing a partially open door, Jo glanced inside and slowed down to take the knob and pull it open.

Inside were untouched boxes full of stuff dating back all the way to the 1920s. Cobweb covered boxes of old medical instruments, wooden toys, and what looked like old office equipment were stacked near the back wall, and just beyond them an open box with an Egyptian Mummy that looked like it came from a movie set leaned against the wall.

It stared back at her, body wrapped up in tattered old cloth strips, its skin and face desiccated and gray with brown, worn down teeth pulled into a rictus of death.

Jo shivered and turned towards Drew and Roland. “Seriously, none of this junk probably hasn’t been moved since it got dumped here. With all the hipsters in town, this place should’ve been unironically picked clean.”

She left the door and followed Drew and Roland down the balcony and into the hallway towards the rooms facing the front of the house. There were two doors, one was slightly ajar and the other was tightly closed.

“Which door?” Roland asked.

Drew went to the closed door and turned the knob, the mechanism turning with a loud, rusty “kerchak” after a bit of effort. “Check the other room.”

Jo stacked up with her brother and helped him work open the door to the creaking protest from its hinges. A bedroom with sheet covered furniture and no open windows greeted them.

“Nothing but more junk,” Jo crassly muttered.

One door over, in the roughly L-shaped room that extended along the side of the house, Roland found the open window but no comic in sight. It was another bedroom, with sheet covered furniture and a dingy old Afghan rug on the floor. Shaking his head in dismissal, he turned around to face the door.

He stopped, freezing in place as adrenaline suddenly surged through his body.

Standing in the back of the room, around the corner of the door and thus out of sight, was an abomination of a man wearing a dirty brown suit-jacket over a lighter brown turtleneck sweater. He had a large, squarish head with a bulging forehead and crown covered in obvious surgical scars and staples–and was reading the front cover of the sealed comic like he was trying to decipher the mysteries of the universe on it.

Stock still, Roland’s mouth fell open but no sound came out… his mind locked up trying to process what he was face to face with.

Jo was stepping out the door ahead of Drew when a dried out, cloth-wrapped hand with long gnarly nails grabbed the strap of her overalls and yanked her around to face the same Mummy that she’d written off as a bizarre prop, its one good blue eyes scowling maliciously from its left socket back at her.

“Where do you get off, breaking into somebody’s house and calling it junk?!” The male Mummy yelled.

Jo, and Drew behind her, answered the reasonable question with terrified screaming. The noise startled the disfigured monster, causing the comic to flip out of his hands and glide to the floor and land on Roland’s foot. Looking at the young man, the monster man himself screamed in surprise.

Roland screamed back, but his brain found the throttle and he moved–grabbing up the comic and bolting out the door as the monster man lunged for him. He barreled out the door, surprising Mums and allowing Jo to twist herself free of the Mummy’s grip. Drew shoving her ahead, both scrambled from both monsters and followed Roland.

“You two really stepped in it now!” The Mummy shouted after the fleeing siblings and their friend. He looked at the man monster. “Hey! Frankie! Get ‘em before they get away!”

The man monster let out a slow-toned grunt and lurched after them with arm’s outstretched and his large fingers clawing at the air.

@@@@@

Leaving Dudley with the engine idling, Trip and Van found a back door of the mansion and forced their way into the great house’s kitchen. Much like the rest of the house it was in complete disuse, caked with grime and spiderwebs, but otherwise unused for a long time. The kitchen’s old icebox sat in a corner next to the stove, and the cabinets and doors of both were open, displaying none but the faint a few scraps of dried food and vermin.

Van turned to his brother, doing his best to ignore the rat scurrying across a countertop near where pots and pans were stacked by the sink. “I really don’t like this place. It’s so dusty and I feel like I’m trapped in a box.”

Trip looked around, sure it was old and stale, but this place was anything but cramped. In fact, the place looked bigger inside than it was outside. “You’re freaking out man, calm down. This is going to be awesome, trust me.”

He reached into the bag, pulling out some monster masks and heavy duty flashlights. “So here’s what’s going to happen. You and I are going to go and scare those three losers.”

“Yeah? Then what?” Van asked. This was a lot of effort just to scare them.

Trip weighed his flashlight in hand. “Then, when we get Andrew alone and separated from them? We beat the tar out of him.” He gave it several short, hard swings for emphasis.

Under any other circumstance, Van would be overjoyed to crack some skulls. It’d be a great warmup for round two against that Pine Tree guy, even… but they were doing this in a creepy haunted house where he heard monsters lived. “Y-yeah.”

Sensing his brother’s unease, Trip scowled. “Why? Are you chickening out on me?”

Van Vanderhoff was not a chicken. “No! I’m just… mad stoked, you kno?”

Trip bought the bluff. “Come on, I ‘m pretty sure there’s some back stairs we can use to sneak up on-”

“Vat do you mean I have to change my name?”

Both brothers froze where they stood, and looked at each other.

“Did you hear that?” Trip asked.

Van squeaked. “You did, too?”

“This is an outrage! I will not stand for it!” The muffled voice with a heavy Eastern European accent made them jump, and both brothers looked towards the source of the sound–a door in the hallway leading from the kitchen.

“Orders from up top; I’m just going through the list of everyone who is using some ‘clever name nonsense’ and informing them that they have to change their names within three weeks of this call.”

The very black and sassy voice that replied sounded more like something they’d hear at a Rodeo Drive hair salon.

“But I like my name, I chose it myself.”

“Listen girlfriend: I loved the name I chose when I got turned too, but nobody was down with Lord Sparklebottom, so I changed it. You can, too!”

The Vanderhoff boys shared another confused look, and Trip looked at the doorknob. Grabbing it, he swung it open–revealing a startlingly pale, black-haired man in his mid 20s dressed in a black tuxedo with a flamboyant red vest and yellow shirt underneath. He was sitting on a stool, talking to what appeared to be a magic mirror of some kind, or had been until the door opened and he turned to look at them.

In the mirror, a dark-skinned androgyne with a high crew-cut and wearing a pink shirt off one shoulder was leaning in their chair, clearly trying to see what the pale man on the stool was looking at and coming up short. “Wait, who’s that?”

The pale man held up his hand to the magic mirror. “I will have to call you back. My lunch just arrived.”

Trip and Van’s confusion melted into terror as the man smiled bigger than any normal human should be able to, their corners reaching almost to his ears as his lips rolled back to reveal a mouth full of sharply pointed teeth and his eyes turned from a wispy gray to a frightening crimson.

“Gurl, go on and get it!”

With a boiling hiss the monstrous man lunged, and a screaming Trip slammed the door in his face.

“GAH! OW!” The creature yelled. Trip and Van didn’t hear it, the boys were running for their lives towards the front of the house, hollering as loudly as they could.

One floor up, Drew, Jo, and Roland thundered down the hallway with the mummy and his monstrous buddy trailing behind them. Their flight came to an end with the hall, which split in two different directions… for a lot further down than the house obviously went. The three looked back and forth, momentarily befuddled by the strange interior dimensions of the house, before the grunting and growling behind them brought the terror right back.

“This way!” Drew said as he went left, and his sister and best friend followed him.

“Hey, can you not run so fast?! My rigamortis is acting up!” The Mummy yelled after them.

Reaching the intersection only to see the herd of brats already opening up their lead, The Mummy groaned and threw up his hands in frustration. “Come on! You brats are supposed to be slow and constantly looking over your shoulders! That’s how the monsters keep up with you!”

Screams from downstairs caught the Mummy’s attention. “Oh, great, it’s an infestation!”

Red energy crackled over his hands and he grabbed the man monster’s head. “Okay Frankenbeans, we gotta go all out if we want to get rid of these brats. Just like with those hippies!”

“Rrr… yeah!” The man monster said before the energy from the Mummy’s head jolted his body like a violent electric shock.

“There, a little more brain power to work with. Don’t use it all at once, I’m gonna go deal with the others,” The Mummy instructed.

Bringing a hand to his chin, Frankenbeans as he was called spoke with a clearer and more refined tone, dialect, and vernacular. “Quite, I shall make haste. Good luck with your own quarry, Mums. Tallyho!”

“What did I just say?!” Mums shouted as Frankenbeans sprinted off. “Oh, whatever, better go get those other brats under wraps.”

He paused for a moment. “Hah, wraps.”

He turned and hurried back to the lobby as fast as his undead bones could take him.

Down the hall, Drew, Jo, and Roland reached the end of another corridor and once again found themselves looking left and right down very long corridors.

“What’s going on? How is this house this big?!!” Jo said, her voice tight.

“Yeah, this is too weird,” Roland said as he looked to Drew.

Drew looked to the left again. “If we keep turning left, then we’ll have to come back to where we started!”

“How can we even be sure of that?!” Roland asked.

The heavy iron thuds of Frankenbeans behind them eliminated the luxury of second guessing. Grabbing Jo by her hand, Drew fled around the corner and Roland followed.

“Run all you like, spirited children, but I will have you yet!” The man monster called after them.

Roland looked back, that guy didn’t seem all that articulate before.

“If I must chase you to the ends of this house, I will capture you!”

And he was gaining, too. It didn’t look like Drew’s plan was going to pan out. Roland looked at him again. “Drew, we can’t outrun him!”

“I know!” Drew gasped back.

“I don’t want to die!” Jo shouted.

“We won’t!” But Drew was going to be a liar if something didn’t change.

A door up ahead offered salvation and he cut left, grabbing the handle and shoving it open to allow Roland and Jo to enter. Slipping in behind them, he swung it closed and turned the lock. They were in another bedroom, furnished with a large bed, a dresser, an armoire, and a loveseat.

Not a second sooner there was a bang as Frankenbeans struck the door, followed by an urgent pounding. “I say! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll open this door right now!”

“We have a firm grasp on what’s good for us, thanks!” Drew nodded to the dresser, then to Jo, and the two slid it in front of the door.

Roland shoved the loveseat up against it, and the banging on the door grew louder.

“I would be rather dismayed to have to break this door down!” Frankenbeans offered. “If you behave, I can assure at least one of you will live. Sure, it would be as a pet, but it wouldn’t be a bad life. You’d quite like it.”

“Ew, no!” Jo shouted.

Drew had gone over to the armoire and began to move it, but despite his best efforts it wouldn’t budge. “Huh?”

Roland came to his side. “What is it?”

Drew began shoving it, to no avail. “It’s stuck! Like it’s attached to the wall or something…”

He opened the door and gave pause. He, Jo, and Roland all stared into the armoire, and the secret slide that lay beyond a moved false back of the furniture.

“I am afraid you have given me no recourse. En garde, lads and lass!”

Sharing another look, all three bolted into the armoire, Drew shutting the doors behind them a split second before the door and the furniture they stacked in front of it exploded from the sheer strength of Frankenbeans’ shoulder barge into it. Splinters scattered across the room like deady wooden blades–embedding in the bed, the walls, and the Armoire itself.

“I suppose Mums and Fangula will have to settle for ghoulash…?” The man monster stopped and looked around the room before he could chuckle at his own pun. Instead of eviscerated victims, he found only a ruined bedroom and not even a scrap of his quarry.

“Blimey,” he said, his accent shifting from refinement to a more casual vernacular. “Where’d they bloody go?”

Down. The slide, made of polished stainless steel, was practically frictionless so Roland, Jo, and then Drew went hurtling at high speed down the dark, winding chute. Cobwebs, scattering rodents, and even a few bats passed them as they descended, picking up more and more speed until the slide suddenly leveled off and they came out in a room filled with stale, but breathable air.

“Great,” Jo wheezed, “Where are we now?”

Roland got up. “As long as we don’t have to run into another monster, I’d be fine with being in the septic tank.”

“I would rather be monster chow.”

Roland sighed. “You’d end up there anyway.”

In a moment of bleak humor, Jo managed a laugh. “Gross.”

Roland began laughing too, Drew joining in for a few merry moments, before they slowly got up and looked around the room they had entered. It was a large, windowless, but comfortable room that was much cleaner than anywhere in the house they’d seen so far. No cobwebs, no strewn garbage, not even a speck of dust covered the couches, cushions, tables, or the main feature of the room–a polished gleaming pipe organ set into the back wall of the house.

Drew, Jo, and Roland stared up at the massive instrument in awe of it–more than they felt they should, but they were unable to help themselves.

They could feel the tremendous power radiating from it.

= - = 7 = - =
 
Too Deep

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#8
And here's the next chapter.

= - = 8 = - =

|Too Deep|

Mums the Mummy was a monster on a mission rushing to the front of the house as fast as his rickety legs would take him. One moment he was enjoying some peace and quiet, the next his turf was under full assault from trespassers who liked to talk smack. This was no way to treat anybody, much less a Pharaoh with an attitude.

“Just you wait, you brats! I’m gonna make Mumm-Ra look like Skeletor!” He leaped over the railing and landed with a thud and the rattling of his bones under his wraps and leathery skin. He could hear the thundering footsteps of the other kids coming from the back of the house towards the front. Once they tore through the door, he’d be all over them.

“Now prepare yourself for my Ancient Egyptian Wra-!”

The front door all but exploded off its hinges, crashing into Mums’ back and launching him across the room. The undead creature was pitched like a ragdoll into and over a nearby couch, as Dipper and Mabel walked in.

Dipper looked at the door, then at Mabel. “Those family kickboxing lessons have really been coming in handy.”

Mabel posed arms akimbo with her chest thrust out. “I vow to only use my terrible power for good!”

Dipper looked around the living room, quickly making the same observation Drew and the others had. “There’s definitely someone or something here.”

Mabel wrinkled her nose. “Whoever it is needs to work on cleaning it, pronto. It smells like old jerky and dirty blankets.”

Rapid thumping was all the warning they had before Van and Trip spilled out into the foyer. Van throwing his flashlight back down the hallway they came from as Trip scrambled past Dipper and Mabel to bolt out the doorless entrance.

“Darren get us out of here!” Trip shrieked.

Van hardly noticed the Pines either, hollering at the top of his lungs on his way out after his brother.

The twins watched them go, then turned to face the emerging threat they fled. The man's well styled hair was out of place, his eyes glowing red with fury, and his mouth filled with razor sharp teeth he was dying to sink into something. Gazing upon the two, he grinned as he found just that.

“Good day to you, morsels~” He greeted.

Mabel pointed at the man. “VAMPIRE!”

Dipper didn’t hesitate, digging a hand into his shorts pocket. “I got it!”

He whipped a handful of pennies onto the floor at the monster’s feet.

The vampire stopped, looked down at the pennies, then back up at the two. The red in his eyes receded and his teeth became less threatening, but his mouth remained twisted into a sneer.

“Now why did you go and do that?!” He looked down at the pennies again. “There has to be at least what… a hundred fifty, two hundred pennies there?!”

Dipper gestured at the pennies. “Why don’t you count to be sure?”

The vampire gestured with melodramatic flair. “I will, but when I’m done, I’m devouring you both!”

Falling to his hands and knees, the vampire began gathering up the pennies, audibly counting them one by one. Taking the opportunity, Dipper and Mabel edged around him and headed for the stairs.

“Okay, so there’s a vampire in the house, hopefully we’ll find Roland and his friends before any others get them.” Dipper couldn’t stop himself from smiling. There’s a vampire in the house. This place is amazing! What other weird stuff is just sitting around here?!

With the Vampire studiously counting each penny, organizing them by date stamped and cleanliness, Mums pulled himself up from behind the couch and shook the cobwebs out of his head. He looked down at the vampire, and threw his hands up in disbelief. “Fangula. What. Are. You. Doing?!”

Muttering numbers to keep his place, Fangula answered. “I am counting these carelessly spilled coins.”

“Stop that! There are trespassers!”

Fangula shot up and pointed at him. “Don’t you dare! You know how important this is to me!”

“More important than the brats turning the house upside down?!”

“We can eat them later, I’m busy!” Fangula went back to his penny counting and stopped. “Wait, is this a copper ‘43?!”

The vampire examined it closely, eyes gleaming red. “Oh, no, just an altered ‘45. Curses! I lost my count!”

Mums palmed his dessicated face. “Set give me strength.”

Outside, Trip and Van were shrieking like much younger children as they ran up the path from Hillhurst. Trip led the way, in speed and volume. “DARIUS! PICK ME UP!”

Van grabbed and shoved Trip aside to pass him, because he didn’t need to be faster than any monsters–just faster than his brother. “Hurry, they’re gonna kill me!”

Dudley, who had been waiting faithfully behind the house, slowly pulled around and slowly followed them up the path. The weathered old chauffeur sported a grin that the (borderline illegal) tinted windscreen of his vehicle concealed well.

“Dustin! Where are you?!” Trip yelled, his pants heavily soaked.

Likely checked into a hotel, Dudley thought as he overtook them.

“Look there he is!” Van and Trip began pounding on the windows of the SUV. “Derrick! Dorian!! Come on, you have to answer one of them! Let us in! I want to go home! I want my Mom!”

“Your Mom’s in Reno, Van!” Trip snapped at his brother.

Moments like these honestly made this vile, thankless job worth it. Peering past his young charges, Dudley could see two young women peeking from the old vineyard, filming every moment with their phones.

Yes, Dudley quite liked his job, and the pay wasn’t too bad either. Alas, if he allowed his young masters to break the windows of the car, the repairs would come from that pay. Lamenting the end to the nicest day on his job so far, Dudley pressed the unlock button on his remote and let Trip and Van spill in so he could leave this place.

Janna continued filming as the SUV pulled off. “If I didn’t avoid social media like the plague, I’d be posting this everywhere.”

Misao, who did not avoid social media like the plague, was posting it everywhere–using burner accounts. “Do not worry, I am having your back.”

This pleased Janna Ordonia. “Today keeps getting better.”

“All it needs to be perfect is for none of my new friends to die.” Misao finished posting the video on places and checked the time. “They’ve been in there for a while, now.”

“They’ll be fine; did you see that girl’s kick? I wish I could break down doors like that… I have to go through windows or spend money on lock picks.”

“If nothing happens in the next five minutes, I’m going to call their Grandfather.”

A strange, magical sound caught Misao and Janna’s attention, and they looked to their left towards the far edge of the vineyard–just in time to see a green flash of light and a puff of smoke. Another flash followed, and Janna’s eyes lit up. “Or you might not have to.”

“What is that?” Misao asked, concerned by the lights.

“Heavy artillery. Hold down the fort, shortstack. I’m gonna go grab it.”

Misao watched Janna go, and looked back towards the house. “She’s nice.”

@@@@@

A hill away from Hillhurst, Star was annoyed as she aimed her wand at a can of creamed corn sitting on top of a stump. The can, the stump, and the grass around it were covered in the green glitter sludge she and Marco spent the entire morning cleaning up. Aside from the one successful use of Radiant Shadow Transform that turned Marco into Princess Marco, it still hasn’t worked. Even her spells selflessly devoted to the smash face club were screwing up.

“Laser Beam Blast!” A stream of glittery sludge erupted from her wand, splattering all over the stump and the can without so much as rocking it.

Frowning, Star twirled around in place and pointed the wand at the can again. “Shooting Star Explosion!”

The wand burped out a trio of sickly green stars that landed with wet plops around the stump and bubbled instead of exploding. Grimacing, Star gripped her wand tighter.

“Come. On!” She jumped, twirled through the air, and landed on the ground. “MEGA NARWHAL BLAST!”

What came out of the wand was best left unwritten, but it even made Star sick to look at it.

Marco had to turn away and run to a bush in order to retch. Fortunately the thing dissolved into glittery sludge by the time he was done.

“Star, there’s something seriously up.” He wiped his mouth. “Call your Mom.”

“Ugh, I already called her once today! If I call her again she’s going to be all ‘Your wand isn’t working? I never had a problem with my wand! Blah blah blah! Blah blah blah blah! Blah blah blah blah blargh!’”

She pointed her wand at the can again. “Maybe it just needs to finish firing all this green gunk and it’ll work normally again.”

Marco took Star by the shoulder. “Please, no more. My stomach doesn’t have anything left to give.”

Star scoffed and threw her hands to the air. “Then what am I supposed to do, Marco?! If I can’t cast magic with my wand, then what?”

“I don’t know, you were able to unlock your closet without your wand. Maybe you can cast other spells without it?”

Star groaned and she gestured emphatically towards the can. “Ugh, and what? Just point my hand, dip down, and yell ‘Rainbow Blast?!’”

Her cheek marks lit up and a solid ray of rainbow leapt from her outstretched hand to obliterate the corn and punch a hole into the side of the hill behind it.

Marco and Star slowly looked downrange at her shot. Almost all of the can was gone except for its bottom and a few sizzling remains of badly burnt creamed corn. The hole in the hill past it also sizzled, the loose dirt scorched into black, chunky glass. Star looked at her hand, the corn, the hole, then finally to Marco.

“Whoaaaa…” She said slowly.

She held up her hand to Marco’s face, like a child presenting her finger paints. “I have laser hands.”

Marco quickly took her arm and directed it away lest a spell got fired off. “Yeah, watch where you point them.”

“Oh, sorry! I wasn’t going to cast a spell! I’ve just… wow… dipping down is an entirely different thing from using my wand!” Star looked at her hands. “It took all morning for me to figure it out and now I just thought about it and whoosh!”

She grinned. “I don’t even need my wand anymore! I can just cast my spells…”

Marco did not like the manic look in her eyes. “Star, wait!”

“… Like this!” Tossing her wand to Marco, she raised her hands above her head. “NARWHAL BLAST!”

A barrage of narwhals shot from her hands and rammed into the side of the hill. Except unlike her usual incarnation of the spell, these were full sized magical narwhals–almost 20 feet long and weighing nearly 2 tons–smashing into the hill with the force to form craters.

“Whoa,” Marco whispered, his eyes wide at the devastation.

Star jumped up and around, magic flowing from her hands. “Rolling Thunder Lightning Blast!” She blasted the stump the can of cream corn had been set on, vaporizing it completely.

“Okay, maybe you should start small?!” Marco called out. “You know, and work your way up?!”

“I am starting small!” Star landed, spun and aimed her hands at the hill face again. Her cheek marks and eyes were glowing brightly. “STARDUST DAISY DEVASTATION!”

The beam of yellow light struck the dry grass-covered hill, and the backwash from the beam turned the brown grass green and bloomed a carpet of canary yellow daisies over it.

“Dial it back!” Marco screamed as the blooming daisies swept past his feet.

“But this is so cool!” With a joyous laugh, Star raised her hands above her head and dipped as far deep into the power as she could. She could feel it in her hands, like big meaty chunks of hobo stew waiting to be stuffed into her mouth! “THERMONUCLEAR BUTTERFLY BLA-ugh?”

Abruptlyall the magic left her hands, slipping out of her fingers like thin, runny gravy, and the light left her cheek marks and eyes. “Uh… uwahpapapa…”

Fatigue washed over Star, and she unceremoniously fell forward.

Marco rushed towards her. “Star…!”

Darkness claimed her, she didn’t even feel herself hitting the ground, all she could hear was Marco calling her name, his voice echoing in pitch black lit only by firefly-like lights that drifted upward.

Ria eht hguorht pu gnisir

Pretty fireflies… glowing in the dark.

Satiloc fo llems mraw

She wanted to touch one.

Riah ym ni dniw looc yawhgih tresed krad a no

And that other thing… a shapeless thing in the dark… shuddering and shifting its body to face her. That was weird…

ratS…? ratS…?

It was gone. The fireflies were going away too. She wished she could wave goodbye to them.

“Star? Star!”

She opened her eyes, and looked up at Marco’s worried face. Her head was rested across his lap.

“Hey Marcooooo…” She said in a slow, dream-like tone. “… I think I dipped too far down.”

Marco sighed in relief. “You totally overdid it.”

Star closed her eyes. “But that was only… what? Four? Five spells?”

Marco sighed. “Well, we can forget about wandless magic.”

She rolled her head from side to side. “Yep, it is called ‘The Hard Way’ after all.”

“Do you want to go back to using your wand?” He held it up for emphasis.

Star looked at her wand, then at Marco. “I don’t have a choice, Marco. If I dip, I’m bound to trip, and I don’t wanna RIP.”

He rested it on her stomach, and she gratefully took it in her hands. Looking around, she could see that the daisies she conjured up were still there, filling the air with their fragrance. She looked up at Marco, whose eyes were closed as he breathed in the pleasant smell of the flowers. Star smiled, and settled her head onto Marco’s lap.

“Maybe that’s why even when they could dip, every Queen of Mewni used the wand to skim.”

“Yeah. Sorry that this hasn’t worked out.”

“That’s okay, even if everything goes wrong, at least you’re here.” She closed her eyes too, and smiled. “I could stay like this all day, chilling in a field with my best friend in the whole world.”

Marco opened his eyes and smiled down at Star. “Thanks.”

Closing her eyes again, Star breathed in the scent of daisies and other pleasant things. Does Radiant Shadow transform change how you smell? Or does Marco just smell nice? I need to remember how that spell works...

“Still,” Marco interrupted her thoughts, “That was amazing. You absolutely destroyed that stump.”

She opened one eye and looked up at him. “Did you know my Mom couldn’t dip down until she was 19? That’s so old, it’s almost 20.”

Marco laughed. “You must be advanced.”

“I know, right? Mom didn’t even sound all that enthusiastic about it when I said it.”

“She was probably jealous,” Marco said with a small laugh.

“So jealous.” Star grinned ear to ear, then let out a sigh as Marco met her gaze.

From their first fight together, Star was his best friend, and the number one person he’d ever let have his back. Moments like these, though, where anything but a fight was going on? He’d take this over him and Star battling a million monsters and winning.

They held each other’s attention, everything lighter and brighter from the sunlight dancing off the daisies all around them.

“Hey,” he said, his smile growing softer.

Warmth filled Star as she stared back up at him. “… Hey.”

“You know, you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met,” Marco said.

“I’m not too sure,” Star replied, “You’ve looked in a mirror before, right?”

He blushed as Star hit him back just as hard with the good vibes, and glanced away. It didn’t last long, and he reconnected their gazes.

She really is so amazing.

That thought lingered, and without any other thought he leaned down towards her, only to hesitate when her eyes widened slightly. The two of them stared at each other, before he continued downward, and Star shifted in position to lift her head up to meet him.

“Nice hair, Marco.”

Marco’s head shot back up, and the moment was gone. Recognizing the voice, he shouted at the source of their interruption. “Janna!”

Star sat up, smiling bright to cover up her massive blush and near hyperventilating. “Oh, hi Janna!”

Standing at the top of the hill between them and Hillhurst, Janna gave them a sly smile and slid down into the field of daisies and used her momentum to lope over to the two. “I didn’t think you’d be all the way out here, but I can think of worse places for making magic happen, right?”

The blush swept across Marco’s face like wildfire. “That is… we were-!”

Star joined him, pointing at her wand. “Broken! Need fix!”

Marco nodded fast. “Yes! Star’s wand! Hahahaha! We were fixing her wand!”

Janna looked at it. “There’s something wrong with it?”

Star got up and held up her wand. “Yeah, it’s been shooting this weird green gunk all day.”

She pointed her wand at the face of the hill. “Rainbow Blast!”

Instead of a sick green beam, however, a stream of rainbow energy shot out of the wand and hit the hill.

Star and Marco both stared at it. “Huh.”

Janna looked at it as well. “Looks fine to me. Which is good because some guys over at the creepy house over the hill are gonna get eaten by monsters.”

Star welcomed a chance to avoid addressing whatever Janna had almost walked in on. “What monsters?”

Likewise Marco. “What are you talking about?” He asked, before the sky grew dark in an instant.

= - = 8 = - =

I believe it's magic.
 
Flib Flab

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#9
= - = 9 = - =

|Flib Flab|

Dipper knew something was up, and he was really starting to like it. “This house is almost like the Mystery Shack! The dimensions inside don’t measure up to the exterior at all, it has extra-dimensional volume!”

The hallway he and Mabel walked down had to be over a hundred yards in length, lit by white-curtain windows to their right and decorated with creepy old watercolor paintings to their left. Looking out the window only provided the same view out of the house, like it was the first window they passed.

“Even if there weren’t monsters in the house, this is an amazing place! There’s clearly some kind of supernatural forces in effect here, it might even be magical.” He looked at Mabel, and started bouncing with every step. “This is only our first day, it took over a week for us to find the gnomes back at the Falls!”

Mabel looked ahead. “Yep.”

“Gosh, I wish I didn’t leave my Journal in Shermie’s truck! There’s so much to write down!”

Mabel flicked Dipper’s ear. “Lives are at stake.”

Dipper snapped from his weirdness-induced euphoria. “Ah, right!”

She pointed ahead. “Also, there’s another monster.”

Dipper looked forward, there stood Frankenbeans, marching straight towards them with his arms stretched forward.

“Oi, 'oo do ya fin' ya brats 're? comin' into me gaff?” Frankenbeans demanded.

Mabel gasped, with stars sparkling in her eyes. “A Cockney monster!”

Dipper wished he had a weapon of some kind… but he did have a lighter. “Mabel, do you have any hairspray?”

Mabel looked at her brother. “Do I look like I keep beauty products on me to maintain my radiance at all times?”

Dipper nodded. “Yes and you look fabulous.”

Smiling at the compliment, Mabel handed her brother a small can of hairspray. “Light ‘em up, brobro!”

Dipper pulled out a butane lighter, popped the lid and lit the wick, before taking aim with it and the hairspray to unleash a tongue of flame that caused Frankenbeans to stagger back.

“Wot the chuffin’ ‘ell?!” Frankenbeans retreated from the ad hoc flamethrower’s next salvo of flame. “Ge’ ‘ha’ away!”

“Where are the kids who came into this house?!” Dipper demanded.

“I’d loike ter kna ‘ha’ m’self!” Frankenbeans demanded before another flame forced him back further.

“I got an idea! Why don’t we torture you and see if they come running to help when they hear your screaming?!”

Dipper and Mabel looked back at Mums and Fangula standing at the end of the hallway they had come down, the latter holding in his arms all the pennies Dipper had scattered.

“Uh oh,” Dipper muttered, as he and his sister realized they were caught in the hallway between both of them.

Mums chuckled darkly. “Got you now, punks.”

“Finally, some real freaking food,” Fangula all but purred as he bared his large teeth and turned his eyes crimson again.

@@@@@

In the lounge room, Drew, Roland, and Jo walked up to the organ, marveling not only at its size but its flawlessness. Like everything else in the undisturbed room, it was like it was brand new and ready to be played. The sheer size of the instrument was staggering, With its pipes it had to be the size of a small building itself, and the pipes themselves seemed to go off into the walls, probably to different parts of the house.

Roland looked at the keys of the instrument. Two rows of them, but anyone playing them would have to be eight feet tall to reach them all. “I bet you could hear it in the whole house if you played it.”

Jo looked at the keys and placed her right hand’s fingers over three of them. “What does something this big sound like…?”

Drew saw her hand. “Jo, wait!”

She pressed down the keys, three notes that blared from the pipes with such force they shook the room.

Upstairs, Dipper, Mabel, and the three monstrous residents all jumped when they heard the blare of the organ. The entire house was shaking just from the bellowing sound.

“What is that?!” Dipper yelled.

Mabel looked around. “An organ! A big one!”

“UH OH!” Frankenbeans shouted out loud.

Mums was likewise concerned. “Oh come on, how’d they get into the Organ Room?!”

Fangula looked to Mums, the red in his eyes completely gone and his complexion paler than ever. “Please don’t let it be what I think it means!”

The blast of the organ was loud enough for Misao to hear, bringing her up to her feet. “Ah?!” The sky darkening drew her attention upward, and her gray eyes grew wide. “Ach du lieber himmel!”

Just over the hill, Star, Marco, and Janna stared up at the sky. Thick, dark clouds were gathering, and swirling over Hillhurst, a strong wind kicking up and blowing around them towards the house.

“What the heck?!” Marco yelled, the wind kicking up the petals of daisies around them.

“That is some nasty energy,” Janna said, before she picked up her phone and took a picture of the sky. “Neat.”

“Marco! Let’s go!” Star called and ran towards the house.

Without hesitating, Marco followed, and Janna brought up the rear.

Inside the lounge room, the blast of the sound from the organ was enough to make Drew, Jo, and Roland retreat with their hands over their ears. The burst of power that followed those three notes slammed into and threw them to the floor. The entire organ was alight, playing a haunting dirge that shook the room and flickered the lights.

Drew was the first up, shaking as the colors drained all around him. The warm colors of the lounge and its furniture bled out to grayscale, while the shaking grew until it felt like a constant vibration.

Upstairs, the colors vanished around Dipper and Mabel too, and both froze.

“No…” Dipper gasped and looked around. Sure enough, the three monsters slowed down to a halt, frozen in time. “Nonononono…!”

The bellow of the organ was affected too, slowing down until it became a low, distorted monotone. Roland and Jo got up to join Drew, and they stared at the black and white instrument, now sitting in silence.

“What’s happening?” Jo asked.

Drew gave her a sharp look. “How am I supposed to know?!”

“Guys?” Roland pointed at the top of the organ. “Look.”

Three lights, red, blue, and green, suddenly appeared at the top of the second highest row of pipes. As the air trembled and warped around the organ, bolts of energy shot from them until three small women in dresses and hair color matching their respective lights, emerged from a pipe each.

“Huh?” Drew asked aloud.

The three pixie sized women struck presenting poses, and spoke in unison. “We’re the Pipettes, and we proudly present!”

The red woman, on the leftmost pipe, broke unison and held her hand out. “Back by popular demand!”

The green woman on the right did the same. “After 40 years in the hole!”

The blue woman swooned. “The Flab-tastic!”

“The Flab-nominal~” Red cheered.

“The Phasm with the chin who can only win!” Green said.

Together, all three threw their hands up. “Give it up for… FLABBER!”

The organ warped again, before a shower of light erupted from its front and pyrotechnics burst from the unoccupied pipes, bringing color and the passage of time back into the world. Standing on the keys, his arms outstretched, was a white-skinned humanoid who looked and dressed like a cross between Jay Leno, 70s era Elvis Presley, Liberace, and The Joker on an acid trip.

“HAPPY FLABBER DAY!” Flabber shouted.

Roland stared at the bizarre creature, and began to nod. “Hm. Yeah. Hm. Hm. Hm.”

He looked at Drew and Jo. “This is some kind of weird dream. No, a nightmare filled with all the things I don’t like, so I’m gonna lay down until I wake up.”

Flabber rested his hands on his shoulders in reassurance. “Oh, it’s no dream, son.”

Roland looked back at Flabber, then at the organ. Flabber was still there, leaning on one knee with one hand while pointing a finger gun at them with the other. “Kachow!”

Drew and Jo jumped back from him, but Flabber was gone from behind Roland. When they looked at the organ again, he was gone from there, too. Searching the room, they found him sitting on one of the lounge seats, relaxing.

“Chill bruh, I ain’t gonna hurt ya,” he said in a surfer’s drawl. “It’s all love, man. All love.”

“What do you want?!” Drew asked, unable to find any chill.

Jo’s head moved on a swivel, searching for any further instances of Flabber before they snuck up on her.

“What do I want?” Flabber asked. “I got everything I’ve ever wanted, guys!”

He leaped to his feet, and with dramatic excitement shouted to the heavens. “I am FREE! Back to make beautiful sweet magic and music in this rockin’ world!”

That could mean anything, especially to something that could do what it was doing.

“What does all of that entail?” Roland asked.

Flabber stopped, and made a relatively plain gesture. “Come on, guys, I’m not a bad Phasm. I’m a good one, really good.”

“The best!” The Pipettes sang together.

Flabber pointed at the Pipettes with two finger guns. “Thank you, thank you very much!”

All three swooned like 50s teens at an Elvis concert.

“Usually when things are sealed away for years, it’s because they’re evil!” Drew argued.

“Evil?!” The Pipettes shouted.

“We’ll have you know!” Blue said.

“That as far as Evil goes!” Green said.

“Flabber is a phasm, that makes them all spasm!” Red said.

Together they sang. “In fear, in dread, Flabber’s who they look for under their bed!”

Drew, Jo, and Roland all had doubts.

“You see, kids!” Flabber explained. “I was sealed in that organ by the monsters that live here! You may have met them, Frankie? Mums? Fangula?”

“We’ve met… a couple of them, I think,” Roland admitted.

“They’re not bad guys, the taste for flesh, blood, and destruction aside” He stopped. “Okay they are bad guys, but that’s why it’s my job to keep them in line.”

Jo weighed on that. “So wait, they sealed you up because you kept them in line? Then why haven’t they gone off on rampages?”

Flabber hopped over next to her. “That’s easy, lil’ mama!”

He jumped back in front of the organ and struck several bodybuilder poses in quick succession. “As long as I’m in this house, sealed or not.”

He struck several more poses. “None of the monsters can get out of the vineyard. They’re trapped…”

He disappears in a puff of smoke, appearing on Drew’s shoulder in the shape of a well-coiffed rat. “Like rats!”

Drew brushed Flabber off his shoulder with a yelp. Hitting the floor in his original floor, Flabber rested his head on his raised hand as he slid on his side to the foot of the organ.

“And I’m stuck here, too. So there’s no danger to the world from even my power.”

He reached down and pulled a blanket over himself in the king sized bed he was tucked into now. “So you can sleep easy at night.”

Flabber yawned and turned his back to them. “Night, night.”

The three teens shared the same thought. This guy’s creepy and insane.

Rising and shining, literally, Flabber joined the kids. “Thanks to you, I’m out of that organ and back to make sure that the monsters really stay in line, and I’m so grateful for my freedom that I’ll grant you a wish.”

All three stopped.

“Hold up,” Drew said.

“A wish, really?” Jo asked.

“A wish wish?” Roland wanted to clarify. “Like… anything we wanted?”

Flabber nodded. “Anything you desire, whatever you want! As long as my powers can create it, it’s yours.”

Drew, Jo, and Roland once again looked among each other, before they pulled away from Flabber and went into a huddle.

“Is he serious?!” Jo whispered.

“I have to still be dreaming.” Roland was unwilling to pinch himself to be sure.

“Anything we want, as long as it’s in his power…” Drew murmured. “He can probably do anything…”

“We could wish to rule the world,”
Jo said.

Roland nodded. “Or wish to be richer than the Vanderhoffs.”

Drew looked at the sealed Beetleborgs comic, and he reached out to take it from him. “Or… we could wish for this.”

Roland and Jo both looked at the book, the latter speaking, “But we’ve already got the comic…”

“No,”
Drew said with eyes alight, “We could wish to be the Beetleborgs, the real Beetleborgs!”

With widening eyes, Roland stared at the comic, not having considered that. “With their powers and everything?”

The idea mesmerized Jo. “And their weapons, and their vehicles–would it be possible? Could we wish for all of that?”

Drew nodded. “Just imagine how amazing it would be to become actual superheroes!”

“All of that power…”
Fire flickered in Jo’s eyes. “Yeah, let’s do that!”

Roland shrugged his shoulders. “Well, as long as this is a dream, why the heck not? Let’s do that and maybe then I’ll wake up.”

Over by the organ, Flabber conversed with the Pipettes and chewed on a candy cigarette. “They seem like nice kids, you don’t think they’ll wish for anything bad, do you?”

Red was touching up her makeup. “Flabby baby, I don’t care.”

Green was working all the kinks in her back and shoulders out. “It’ll be fine, I feel good energy from them.”

Blue, making sure her hair was nice, pointed past Flabber. “You’re on, Flabber.”

Flabber spun back around, pointing at the three with double finger guns. “Kachow! What’s it gonna be, kids?”

Drew nodded and held up the comic. “We wish to become these guys.”

Flabber looked at the comic and lit up in recognition. “Oh, those guys…!” A moment passed. “… Who are those guys?”

“The Big Bad Beetleborgs, the greatest heroes the multiverse has ever seen,” Drew introduced.

Flabber was wary. “Big and bad, but they’re heroes?”

Jo wasn’t having that, not even the slightest insinuation otherwise. “Of course they’re heroes!”

Drew pulled back the comic and, in spite of its historic value, pulled it from the seal and opened it. “They’re the best, fighting to protect innocents and defeat the evil Magnavores wherever or whenever they might be!”

He held up the comic to Flabber, showing a page with a blue-haired young man his age holding a Beetle Bonder and preparing to transform as he faced off against a shadowy beast.

“This is Blue Beet, the leader. He was just a normal high schooler from Earth until the Magnavores attacked his home. Against the mechanical forces of the Baron Noxic, Earth was helpless until Blue Beet found the Beetle Bonder and became…”

He flipped the page, showing the Blue Stingerborg surrounded by a bright flash and striking a heroic pose.

“The Blue Stingerborg! With his powerful Stinger Blade and Assault Vehicle, he was able to fend off the Magnavores. To make sure they didn’t come back, he followed Baron Noxic through the portal he came from, and so began his adventure as the multiversal warrior!”

“Flab out!” The story already had Flabber in his grip. “But wait, what if he can’t find his way back?”

Drew nodded. “That’s what makes him a hero. He knows that he might not be able to, but even if he can’t return to his world, he’ll make sure that the Magnavores won’t bring ruin to it or any others.”

Jo took the comic and flipped a few more pages. Stopping on a fiery red-haired girl in red tights with gold-plated armor. “The Warrior Princess Reddle is the same, except she wasn’t able to save her world. When the Mean Mercenary Queen Jara attacked her kingdom on the day of her coronation to the Throne of Redalia, the Magnavores destroyed her entire world! So she swore revenge, to stop them from doing such evil again.”

She turned the page. Showing the Red Strikerborg, a red-armored warrior modeled after a female Rhinoceros Beetle with eerie yellow glowing eyes in its helmet. “Using the Red Striker Plasmar, she can blow any Magnavore creep to smithereens! She fights to bring Jara to justice.”

Flabber rubbed his comically large chin. “Hmm… so she’s like an avenger, very Red Sonja.”

“Who?” Jo asked.

Flabber scoffed. “And you say you read comics.”

Jo handed the comic to Roland. “Seriously, who’s Red Sonja?”

“You can look it up later,” Roland said as he flipped through the book and brought it to a bearded young man in his 20s compared to the teenage Blue Beet and Reddle, with a piercing, patient gaze and hair shaved into a wild mohawk. “This is G Stag-”

“G for Green, right?” Flabber interjected.

“Wow, how’d you guess?” Roland asked with a bit of a smirk.

“I’m noticing a theme, but please…” Flabber batted his eyelashes. “… Go on.”

“Anyway, he was just a simple young man living in a village that barely had horse drawn carts in terms of technology. Then Biolord Typhus began mutating his village’s livestock, and experimenting on his kin to create monsters for the Magnavore Army. So he took his boomerang and his traps, and began to wage a one-man insurrection against him. Typhus was too powerful though, and when he finally caught him all seemed lost until he found his Beetle Bonder and transformed into the Green Hunter Beetleborg.”

Roland turned the pages to show the Green armored hero, designed after a Stag Beetle–gripping a Scab between his signature weapon. “His weapon is the Hunter Claw, it can crush enemies and detach to become a boomerang. He was able to save his people with the help of the benevolent Saint Papilia, and at her urging went into the multiverse to pursue the Magnavores and their leader, Dimension King Vexor G.”

Flabber shivered, the sound of teeth chattering surrounding him. “That name sounds so evil I don’t even wanna say it! It’s giving me the chills!!”

He froze up, his white skin turning blue and his colorful suit and pants frosting over. Through his grit teeth, he spoke. “Ice cold, baby!”

Drew took the comic from Roland and held it up. “So would you be able to make us into the Beetleborgs?”

Flabber thawed out. “Oh that’s easy for me, but are you sure you want to become entirely different people?”

Quickly Drew shook his head. “Whoa, no! We don’t want to become them literally! We only want their powers and equipment. That stuff.”

“Yeah, don’t change us into the actual people themselves,” Jo clarified.

Flabber sighed in relief. “Okay, now THAT is even easier. Swear, I’d be all day trying to make the other thing happen… if I can even make it happen. Could I?”

He hummed in thought, then shrugged his shoulders. “I’ll save that question for a rainy day!”

Clapping his hands, Flabber teleported atop his organ. Soon as his feet hit the keys, smoke and steam poured from the pipes and a dramatic, rising tune began to play. With the Pipettes joining in, their voices in a haunting yet beautiful chorus, swirling stars and planets appeared around the ends of Flabber’s hands.

“Whoa…” The children said together as they stepped back. They could feel it again, that incredible power that came from the organ when they first saw it.

“Flib!” Flabber shouted, pointing his hands to the right, Jo jumped and hid a little behind her brother.

Jerking to the left, Flabber pointed at the other wall. “Flab!”

Roland swallowed nervously. Suddenly he had his doubts about this being a dream.

Flabber thrust his hands to the ceiling, a light forming between his hands. “FLABBER!”

Drew tensed up, bracing himself.

He pointed his hands down at them. “You’re Superheroes! Fighting for what’s right! PHASM FORCE!”

Everything went white.

Somehow, today had gone from zero to one hundred to “too fast to live.” Standing in a silent, grayscale world, time stopped around them, Dipper felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest if it wasn’t ripped out in the next few seconds. He looked over to Mabel–herself on the verge of hyperventilating and looking around the hallway for any eyes or triangles that could be embedded as a decoration in the house.

“Dipper…” She murmured. “… This is like when-”

“Don’t say it, I know.” He cut her off. It was so hard to stay calm, he needed to be calm. We can still move, but the monsters can’t. “C-come on, we need to get out of here,”

He took her hand, and she tightly gripped it back. Together they pushed past Mums and Fangula and headed back towards the stairs.

“What are we going to do?” She asked. “If it’s him-”

“Then we call Grunkle Ford and hope he has a plan. I was not ready for the end of the world to start today.”

Mabel squeezed his hand. “I’m glad you’re calm because I’m freaking out.”

Dipper looked back at her. “I’ve got bad news, if you weren’t, I would.”

They made it back to the part of the house that made sense, when the colors abruptly returned to the world and the dark skies out the windows cleared up.

Dipper stumbled to a halt, Mabel bumping into his back. They were at the top of the stairs, and could see daylight pouring in through the open doorway and covered windows.

“Wait, it stopped? Is it over?” Mabel asked.

“The only thing that’s over is the beginning, if he was summoned then we gotta figure out who did it, and for what.”

“Hey, where’d they go?!” They both looked in the direction of Mums’ voice.

“They vanished, but how?” Fangula asked.

Further down the hall, they saw Mums and Fangula step back around the corner. Spotting them, the mummy pointed. “There they are! Get ‘em!”

“Out the house,” Dipper warned as the three monsters came running down the hall.

“But what about-?” Mabel started, before Dipper pulled her after him.

“Now!”

As he led his sister to safety, one thought ran through his head. Whatever's going on, Drew, Jo, and Roland are probably at the center of it. I hope they're okay.

= - = 9 = - =

Only one day in Los Angeles and Dipper already has ten pages worth of Journal to fill.
 
Beetle Rock!

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#10
And here's another chapter.

= - = 10 = - =

|Beetle Rock!|

Drew wasn’t just okay.

Andrew McCormick felt… amazing.

I can’t believe it… He was seeing the world not with his two eyes, but through the helmet of his newly wished Blue Stingerborg armor. He looked down at himself through the augmented reality view of his helmet, down at the blue and black armor encasing his body.

It’s all here… heads up display with horizon, altitude, speed, and even the minimap. He looked at the bottom corner. Weapons and energy gauges, wait...

He looked down at his armor-encased right arm, and gasped. There it was.

The Stinger Blade! It was equipped on his arm–the long, double-edged nanothin blade so fine that it was gleaming as it cut through the light.

“This… this is real…” He finally spoke and closed and opened his hand. “This is actually happening!”

“Drew?”

Jo’s barely contained excitement was obvious, he turned to face her and saw the Red Strikerborg standing where his sister had been before. She was clutching the sides of her helmeted head, hunched down and shaking–resisting the urge to leap for joy, lest she go through the ceiling. “Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh.”

“I know, right?!” Drew asked her.

She sprang up, and didn’t go through the ceiling–came close, though. “I’M A BEETLEBORG!”

“Yes!” Drew agreed, and the two high fived with both hands.

“This is awesome!” Jo cried.

“Isn’t it?!”

They turned to face Roland, who seemed… solemn by comparison in his Green Hunterborg armor, the Hunter Claw’s edge just clearing the floor.

“… Roland?” Drew asked.

“Wow, unreal…” He murmured. “… My gosh…”

“What?” Drew asked.

Jo looked to her blue armored brother. “Uhh…”

“I guess he still thinks he’s dreaming so he can do whatever-”

“This is amazing…!” Roland yelled out, causing both Drew and Jo to jump back. “I FEEL INCREDIBLE! YES! YES! YES! YES! I CAN WIN! I FEEL GREAT! I! CAN! DO! THIS!”

“Oh.” Both looked at each other again and snickered.

Roland threw out his hands. “This is all a miracle! I’m awake! I’m wide awake!”

Behind them, Flabber stroked his chin, and tried to suss out what he was seeing. “I really hate these long sleeps. I know he’s doing a bit, but I don’t know what it is.”

He turned to the Pipettes. “And I don’t like being left out of the joke.”

“It’s been forty years,” Blue suggested.

“You’ve got some reading to do~!” Red and Green sang.

Flabber clapped his hands. “Ooh, I just love homework!”

Roland sighed. “I always wanted to do that, this is like a dream come true.”

“Just for that, I’m calling you Big Green from now on,” Drew joked.

“Big Green will allow this,” Roland said with a short nod.

“What should we do first?” Drew asked.

Jo punched her palm. “Let’s go mash those monsters, then go teach the Vanderbutts a lesson they won’t forget.”

Drew shook his head. “Yeah on the first thing, but definitely no on the second. We can’t just go out and terrorize people, even if they are jerks.”

Roland agreed. “Come on, being responsible with our powers is the first rule of having powers, Jo. We’ve all read Spider-Man.”

“Yeah, but I hate Spider-Man.”

“And it definitely shows.”

“Bite me, Big Green.”

Drew turned to face Flabber. “All right, Flabber, how do we get out of here?”

“Now hang on!” Flabber said. “Before I tell ya, you gotta promise…”

“What?” Roland asked.

“Could ya…” Flabber wasn’t sure how this’d go over with them. “… Not kill the guys?”

“What? Why?” Drew asked.

“They tried to eat us!” Jo argued.

Flabber held up his hands and gestured for an ease of tension. “I know, but I’d rather you not kill ‘em. Smack ‘em around, humiliate ‘em, teach them right from wrong, but don’t… you know… kill ‘em.”

He brought up his hands together and rested them against his cheek. “Please? For me?” Flabber batted his eyelashes for good measure.

Jo groaned, she really wanted to try the Red Striker Plasmar at full power on something. “… Fine!”

Roland patted Jo on the shoulder. “Yeah, we shouldn’t be in a hurry to kill anyone… even if they are a creepy monster freak.”

Drew agreed. “All right Flabber, we promise not to kill them. How do we get out of here?”

Flabber gestured behind them. “Why… right through that foyer-?”

He stopped, there was no door where he gestured, just a wall. “Huh, the foyer should be right there.”

The miffed phasm placed his hands on his hips. “Well, I never! They put up a wall to keep me sealed!”

Drew doubted that. “Those monsters we saw don’t seem like the type.”

“They aren’t!” The Blue Pipette said.

“They got Ghoulum to do it~!” All three added in song.

“Wholum?” Roland asked.

“Ghoulum!” The Pipettes answered.

Flabber nodded. “Oh yeah, rock solid guy. Real handy!”

@@@@@

Reaching the bottom of the stairs and crossing the foyer, Dipper and Mabel were stopped short of the door when a massive figure stomped in front of them. Standing even taller than the twins, the black-bodied statue of an Asura, leveled its fixed fierce expression onto the twins.

Dipper and Mabel looked at each other. “You wanna…?”

Mabel nodded. “Yeah, yeah, the Family Kickboxing thing…”

She wound up and kicked the statue in its stomach.

“OW SON OF A-!”

It did absolutely nothing.

Roland looked towards the wall Flabber indicated. “Wait, did you hear that?”

“Hear it?” Drew asked as the eyes of his helmet lit up and he could see in thermal vision through the walls. “I can see it! I think Dipper and Mabel are on the other side!”

Mabel rubbed her leg, whimpering. “Ah! Come on, I kicked the door like it was nothing…!”

Dipper placed himself between Mabel and the statue. “Come on, I’m not afraid of you.”

The statue let out a growl, and two more arms emerged from its back, fists clenched and ready to fight. Dipper’s guard dropped and he ran a quick reevaluation of his odds in his head.

“Huh.” It was less of a question and more an acknowledgement of how screwed they were.

“Hey! Ghoulum’s got ‘em!” Dipper and Mabel looked back to see the other three monstrous residents of Hillhurst reach the stairs. Yeah, they were fairly screwed.

Mums reached the bottom of the steps first, and pointed at the two of them. “All right, you two. No more tricks and teleports. Do you wanna die quietly, or screaming?”

“I could go both ways,” Fangula said as he looked back and forth between Dipper and Mabel, drooling in anticipation.

“Hey, want pet!” Frankenbeans protested.

Mums looked back up at the man-monster. “I’ll get you another pet rock, what do you say?”

“So this is how we die–killed by the Universal Studio prop closet.” Dipper sighed and placed himself in front of Mabel. If we survive this, I’m not doing anything without being prepared. Lesson learned.

“Just not the face, I want an open casket funeral!” Mabel pleaded with the monsters.

Fangula hissed. “I will be most happy to oblige, my… little morsel~”

Mabel looked at Dipper and pointed at the vampire. “Dibs on getting killed by that guy.”

The sound of metal carving through wood interrupted the pre-murder banter. The monsters and their would-be victims looked towards the wall, and watched as the end of a gleaming blue blade cut a long diagonal line from the ceiling to the floor, disappeared, and then reappeared to carve a second in the opposite direction.

Fangula and Frankenbeans looked at each other then back at the door confused, while Mums scratched the side of his wrapped-too-tight head. Ghoulum turned towards the wall, and snarled after the blade disappeared again.

For a moment, all was quiet.

Dipper and Mabel watched the wall as quietly as the monsters.

Mums looked around again. “Uh-”

The wall exploded outward, and the armored form of the Green Hunterborg emerged, barreling straight towards Frankenbeans with the Hunter Claw open to strike. The man monster didn’t even have time to scream–he was snared in the crushing claw and slammed into the wall behind him with enough force to leave an imprint.

Roland laughed. “Take that, tall dumb and smelly!”

Dipper looked at the green armored warrior. “Wait, what?!”

A red blast of energy forced Dipper and Mabel to both duck down, as Jo opened fire on Mums, the rays from the four barrels of the Red Striker Plasmar throwing the Mummy against the stairs. Arcs of red energy crackling over his body, he collapsed to the floor, convulsing.

Jo pulled the weapon back, smoke wisping from it. “Oh yeah, there’s a shock to your system!”

Fangula, the last one standing, looked back at Frankenbeans, then over at Mums, and finally at the Blue Stingerborg, coming at him with the Stinger Blade. With a yelp of fear he jumped over Drew’s opening swing, and then dove away from a clumsy followup blow.

“Wait! What is going on here?!” The vampire demanded as he faced the armored youth. “Who are you?!”

Drew spun around and swung the Stinger Blade, cutting off Fangula’s belt and causing his pants to fall to the floor, revealing a festively out of season pair of Christmas boxers underneath.

“We’re the Big Bad Beetleborgs!” Drew declared, pointing the weapon at Fangula. “And if you don’t leave these two alone, we’re going to be your worst-”

“And last!” Jo cut in.

“Nightmare!” Drew finished.

Jo chuckled.

He turned to his sister. “Come on, really?”

Fangula yanked up his pants. “M-Message received! Frankie! Come on, take the Mummy and run!”

Mums was still convulsing on the ground, as Frankenbeans grabbed him by the arm and dragged him away. The three Beetleborgs together turned to face Ghoulum, who still stood by the door, ready for combat.

“Rrrrr… nope!”

Or not, as the statue monster’s extra arms receded and it turned to walk off into the house, grumbling.

“We did it!” Drew cheered.

“Yeah!” Jo pumped her fist. “This is awesome!”

“Did you see that?! I took down that Frankenfreak like it was nothing!” Roland said.

“Yeah, you like ‘whoosh!’ and he was like ‘Oh my gosh!’”

“Then Jo was like, ‘boom!’ and that Mummy guy was like ‘ugalugaluga!’”

“Drew you were so cool with that sword!”

“Yeah, I was like ‘vwim! vwim!’ and I cut that vampire’s belt right off-”

“WHAT THE EVER LOVING HECK IS GOING ON?!”

The newly armored Beetleborgs stopped and looked at Dipper and Mabel. They were on their feet again, looking at the three of them.

“Drew, Jo, Roland is… is that… you?” Dipper asked.

“Oh my gosh, I’m freaking out…” Mabel said out of the corner of her mouth. “They’re so cool…”

Drew stepped up. “Yeah, we’re the Beetleborgs now!”

A moment passed before Dipper asked. “… How?”

Roland answered. “We wished for it from a Phasm.”

The color fled Dipper’s face. “A Phasm?!”

Flabber, standing to Dipper’s right, extended a hand to him. “Nice to meet you, Pine Tree.”

“AHHHH!” Dipper jumped back from him, landing in Mabel’s arms. She screamed with her brother, backing up from the being.

“That is your name right, Pine Tree?” He asked as their screaming stopped. “You look like a Pine Tree. Well, not like a Pine Tree.”

In a puff of smoke, Flabber transformed a Pine Tree with his face on it, complete with a woodpecker going to town on the upper trunk.

“Otherwise, how ‘wood’ you get in through the door?”

Mabel, still holding Dipper, snickered.

Dipper looked Flabber up and down. “… You’re not Bill?”

“Bill?” Flabber transformed back and stroked his chin. “I don’t know any Bills… except for…”

He pulled out a yellow envelope. “The electric bill.”

A blue envelope. “The water bill.”

And finally a green envelope. “The gas bill…”

Flabber looked at the em carefully, and his eyes almost popped from his skull. He quickly tossed them over his shoulder and looked aside at Drew. “Actually I’d rather not know those Bills…”

Dipper’s left eye twitched. Okay, a wish granting entity with reality bending powers just made these three superheroes. Oh, and he called me Pine Tree. Nothing about this is good.

“Who are you?” He asked the phasm.

Flabber summoned forth a massive comb and ran it through his stylish pompadour. “Flabber’s the name, and magic’s my game. I’m the host with the most, of the rockinest mansion on the coast!”

“Why did you give them superpowers?” Dipper demanded.

“Because they helped a geist out, it’s only nice.”

Mabel giggled. “Hehehe… geist.”

Flabber looked past Dipper to Mabel. “Thank you very much; it is so hard to get a laugh around here. The usual crowd is either wrapped up in their own ego, bloody hecklers, or frankly just not smart enough to appreciate the humor.”

Mabel giggled harder, as Dipper brought his hand up to bury his face in his palm. “Mabel, stop.”

“He’s funny, though!”

“No he’s not,” Jo and Roland said in unison.

Drew wasn’t going to admit he thought Flabber was hilarious.

Flabber offered a conciliatory hand. “Now, I know what you’re thinking-”

Dipper, now dressed in an eloquent, sparkling pink ballgown, looked down at Flabber dressed as a homely country girl with a basket and a little dog, too.

“-Am I a good phasm, or a bad phasm?”

They were back to normal before Dipper could get angry about it.

“Well you don’t need to worry yourself one little bit, I’m as good a phasm as they come.”

Dipper shook his head. “You don’t give random kids superpowers! That’s the opposite of good!”

“Hey, we can handle it,” Drew insisted.

“No you can’t,” Dipper shot back.

“What’s the deal?” Jo asked. “We saved your lives but you think we shouldn’t have superpowers?”

“Exactly! Do you realize what kind of consequences this has?!”

Roland stepped in. “Dipper, it’ll be all right. We made the wish, we’ll accept any consequences that come with it.”

“Yeah!” Jo said with a nod.

Drew likewise nodded, holding aloft his blade. “That’s right.”

Dipper looked at Mabel, at the Beetleborgs, at Flabber, then narrowed his eyes contemptuously at the Phasm. “My sister and I have experience with things that can make your dreams come true. Wishes, favors, deals… and every time? What we want is exactly what we get, but the price is always way too high.”

A chime followed Dipper’s ominous assertion, then a sound like an electrical charge ramping up. Everyone in the foyer looked towards the open doorway, as they heard a voice.

“Mega…”

Dipper realized what was happening. “Oh no.”

“NARWHAL BLAST!”

= - = 10 = - =

And so we have arrived at the juncture.
 
The Price

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#11
= - = 11 = - =

|The Price|

In a vacant lot clear on the other side of Echo Creek, three humanoid figures lay face down on the ground. A large green-caped creature that was a colorful mishmash of different body parts from humanoid alien creatures with a bony, ogre-like face set into the neck of a whale-shaped head. A scrawny mechanical man with white and gold plated skin wearing a labcoat, his “hair” a set of tubes ending in blue and green tips. Finally, a woman wearing a red and white mask covering her face, a billess peaked cap, and red armored cape over a matching tight leotard.

They were surrounded by enough empty beer bottles to kill a college fraternity with alcohol poisoning.

“Hey baby,” the green caped monster, still face-down on the ground asked in a deep, funky voice, “Who stopped the party?”

The machine man in the white labcoat didn’t even try to move. Speaking with a noticeable New York accent, he answered. “Don’t bother me Typhus, I’m updatin’.”

The woman with them groaned. Her thick Slavic accent tearing into the heads of her compatriots. “Why did I drink so much…? Why do I always drink so much?”

She was the first one to get up, and she brought her hand up to shield her face. “What is wrong with the sky? Why is it so bright… and not… screaming?”

The world around her registered, and she whipped her head back and forth. “Oh. Oh dear. Typhus! Noxic! Get up, get up!”

“I’m updatin’!” Noxic–the lab coat-wearing android–repeated, before a chime sounded. “Huh, it’s done? Whoa… where’d this bandwidth come from?! This is amazing!”

He sat up, revealing a mechanical face with gold wired black goggles over his eyes. In spite of them, he could plainly see they weren’t in what counted as Kansas for them anymore. “Whoaaa… how much did we drink?!”

Typhus got up and looked around. “Too much; this is weird, baby.”

“It is not just weird, it is impossible! Everything is so… so… orderly!” The woman walked around the lot, turning around to take it all in. “The air, the ground, the sky! There is nothing in our world like this! Everything is so… so… consistent!”

Noxic jumped around. “Jara, check it out! This place has the most up to date Java, and I installed it in a microsecond! What is this miracle world of technology, huh?!”

The woman, Jara, placed her hands on her mask’s porcelain cheeks. “I do not know, but I am already liking it much more than that old dump!”

Typhus sat on the ground, his grinding his underbitten teeth as he looked around. “How’d we get here?”

“Hey, you don’t want that gift horse to bite you, now!” Noxic teased while doing a cartwheel. “Whoo-hoo!”

“C’mon, if this ain’t the old place, then how’d we get to this new place?” Typhus threw up his hands. “It don’t make sense.”

“It. Doesn’t.”

All three stopped everything they were doing, and slowly looked towards the voice that spoke. Eloquent, calm, if a bit exasperated, it belonged to a creature in white, regal chitinous armor with a cape that was neither soft nor rigid. His white, polished face with black slits concealing slightly opened yellow eyes was adorned with a tall golden crown–not unlike a pope’s mitre. He stood by a wall, in his hand holding a comic book, a recent issue of the Big Bad Beetleborgs.

“Aw man, Vexor’s here too,” Noxic groaned.

Vexor took his whining well. “Yes, I am here. Did you think you three would be so easily rid of me?”

“I had hope,” Jara said.

“And now we don’t,” Noxic lamented.

“Regardless of your useless whimpering. I know where we are, and quite possibly how we got here.”

Vexor walked towards him, moving one footstep at a time, but gliding over the ground… like gravity itself wasn’t sure if it had a hold on him. “We have achieved what even the mightiest of us could not.”

He held up the comic. Jara looked at the cover, and saw herself, face to face in combat against a red-armored creature she had no idea about. “That’s me!”

“What? When did you get a comic book?!” Noxic snatched the book from Vexor, and flipped through it. “Hey, Typhus! Look at this, we’re in it too!”

Typhus trundled over. “Hey, let me see!” He looked at the page with him and Noxic on it. “‘Biolord Typhus’, huh? Yeah, baby, I can dig it!”

Vexor swiped the book back from them, closing it. “We have left our decaying world completely, and we have an unlikely savior to thank for our emergence.”

He turned the comic over and gestured to the barcode of the comic. There, next to the 2.99 price tag and above the lines of the code, was the comic’s seal of authenticity: a black and white eye of providence.

All three stared at it. Jara trembled, Typhus growled, and Noxic crackled with electricity. All at once, they spoke a single word:

“HIM.”

Vexor turned the book over to look at the barcode himself. “Quite.”

Noxic shook his head. “Nooo… nonono… He’s gone. The guys that came back from that big shindig in the rift said that He got disvaporaterized by the humans!”

“Yeah, and the walls have only gotten stronger since!” Jara added.

“He was unpredictable and chaotic in His brash wielding of power, but His cunning was second only to my own,” Vexor gestured to himself in all his grand humility. “Even as He plotted one way out of our eternal nightmare, He had another, quite possibly many others, at His disposal.”

He patted the comic. “And this one has borne fruit that we all can partake in.”

Light shone from those black slits of his eyes. “Even greater. With Him well and truly dead… nothing stands in our way of conquering this universe for ourselves.”

Jara, Noxic, and Typhus looked between each other, then back at Vexor. The white adorned demon spread his arms.

“At long last, the Magnavore Tribe needn’t scurry in the shadows. Upon this reality, we ourselves will cast the shadows and watch the vermin cower within them!”

Noxic rubbed his metallic hands together, sparks popping from them. “Oh man, think about it! A whole universe of our own to conquer? That’ll be the coolest!”

Typhus clenched a fist and laughed. “Ain’t nobody gonna stand in our way.”

Jara tapped on her mask’s cheek with a finger. “Ah, it will be so nice to invite the girls over to party in a dimension that isn’t slowly burning to the ground.”

“Yet!” Noxic and Typhus said together, and the three laughed.

Vexor raised a single hand, silencing them. “Wait.”

The white monstrosity looked around, like deer aware of a nearby predator. “That… do you feel that…?”

“Feel what?” Typhus asked.

“I am not one of your Dragon Ball Scouters, please elaborate,” Jara said.

Noxic brought a hand to his goggles and pressed a button on them. “Yeah, that’s me.”

“There is something here… powerful and ancient…” His voice shook, like he’d once witnessed power like this before and never wanted to again.

Vexor went still and stared off into the distance.

“Uh… boss?” Typhus asked.

“JIWKR TMADW XJDIC YOCTJ RTFXT MOIYO BIUZV AOWDM QGZJL GKPOY RYPOM YKJTU FGCB!” Vexor screamed, in a scratchy, mechanical voice.

“Augh!” Jara’s hands shot to her ears.

“Not cool, baby!” Typhus yelled, the top of his whale-shaped opening like a mouth mouth and spewing a green, viscous fluid.

“SKEXP FZYSX RPCSQ ZEVWE BFSGT YMFTQ IRPVA BFDJS ZCNHB RBHC!”

Even Noxic was affected. “C’mon boss, you crashed my auditory!”

Like an old disk drive repurposed to make music, Vexor’s laugh came out in a long, slow electronic whine. Then, the demon collapsed onto his knees, his fingers clawing at the ground. In a raspy, elderly voice, Vexor spoke. “It’s here!”

“What’s here?!” Jara asked as her hearing returned. “And what was that?!”

“An ancient power, vast and deep, it stands to threaten my radiance…!” Vexor rose to his feed with difficulty, his body shuddering with every movement. “And it is close! I command you three to find it!”

“Wait, you mean now?!” Jara asked.

Typhus groaned. “Ease up, I’m still hungover, baby!”

“NOW!” Vexor roared.

“And how are we supposed to find something that we cannot feel?!” Jara now demanded.

“Uhh… hey, guys? I can’t hear what you’re yakkin’ about, but I’m detecting a huge power level that way!” Noxic pointed, in the direction Vexor sensed the presence.

“Let’s get goin’ then.” Typhus shoved Noxic forward. “Move it’!”

“Yeesh! All right, all right! Let me get my sound system going!”

Jara looked back at Vexor. “What about you?”

Vexor shooed Jara away, while clutching his face with his other hand. “I will find a suitable lair for us! Now go, go! Make haste, find what that thing is!”

“Fine! Warn us next time you decide to have a freak out like that!” Rubbing her right ear, Jara stomped off after her compatriots, leaving Vexor to collapse back down to one knee.

“I was wrong. One thing stands in my way,” he lamented.

He dug his clawed fingers into the dirt, and clenched his hand into a fist.

“One thing.”

A sinister glee welled up in him, leaking from his chitinous lips as another electronic laugh.

“The only thing.”

= - = 11 = - =

Hey, it's those guys. Wait... why do they know about that guy?
 
The Old Axiom

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#12
= - = 12 = - =

|The Old Axiom|

Life can be strange. One day you’re just a regular teen, doing regular teen things. Then, you get your hands on an ultra-rare comic book, get chased around by lawyer-friendly parodies of Universal Pictures monsters, free a magical phasm from his prison, and get granted superpowers from him.

Everything’s well and good, but then a magical princess from another dimension is pummeling you, your sister, and your best friend with a barrage of conjured narwhals.

Wait. This is completely insane.


“Hey! Argh! Knock it off!” Drew shouted over the assault from the order Cetacea that took out the front window of the house.

“We’re not the bad guys!” Jo shouted right before a particularly large narwhal impacted her armored belly. “OOF!”

“Blue on blue! Blue on Blue! And Red! And Green!” Roland called out. Another one hit him in the head and got caught between the horns of his helmet. “Oh come on!”

The curtains covering the windows, shredded by the attack, broken wood, and the shattered glass, were blown in by the breeze rolling off the Los Angeles Mountains, revealing Star standing on the porch of the house with the magical wand aimed inside.

She lowered her weapon and looked to her right. “Hey, aren’t these the guys from the comic book your Mom and Dad read?”

Princess Marco jogged up the stairs. “Star, I told you to hold on!”

He reached the doorway and looked inside. Doing a double-take, he stared at the Metal Heroes standing in the living room. “Uh… what the heck?”

Dipper got up, holding one of the thankfully deflected Narwhals by its tail fluke. “Mega Narwhal Blast… so it really does just fire Narwhals at people.”

Mabel hugged one, and it happily snuggled into her embrace. “They’re so cute!”

Drew faced Princess Marco, cleared his throat, and tried to be as adult and heroic-sounding as he could. “Uh, you have nothing to fear, ladies, the situation is well under control thanks to us.”

Marco’s head tilted ever so slightly in confusion. “Hah?”

“Yes, these two civilians are under our protection!” Roland’s attempt at sounding like a superhero was similarly bad.

“Why are you talking like that?” Star asked.

Marco looked around. “What happened to all that weird and evil stuff? The sky turned black, strange sounds came from the house, and then we were told that there were monsters in here eating people?”

“By who?” Dipper asked.

Janna poked her head in the door. “Oh cool, you’re alive.”

She looked at the Beetleborgs. “… Sick cosplay.”

“Thanks, it’s not,” Jo snapped.

Janna rolled her eyes, dismissing Jo’s nasty tone. “Okay?”

Dipper stepped forward. “Thanks, everything’s under control now.”

It was nice to think things. As long as these guys have superpowers, the situation is going to be bad and get worse unless this literal genie is crammed back into the bottle.

He looked around, but Flabber was missing. Great, where did he run off to?

“Oh my gosh!” Mabel weaved around the Beetleborgs to get to Star. “You’re the real live Star Butterfly! That was amazing, you’re amazing, this Narwhal is amazing!”

Star smiled. “You’re amazing!”

Mabel squealed. “I’m also Mabel, I’m going to your school Monday! Do you want to be friends?”

Star’s smile grew even bigger. “I love making friends, so yes!”

Dipper sighed. The roller coaster has no brakes.

He turned to the Beetleborgs. “So, can you guys change back?”

“Yeah,” Drew said, “But not in front of people.”

Jo agreed. “We want to keep our identities secret, you know?”

Dipper shook his head. “Whoa, no. This is not going to be a thing! We need to talk to Flabber and get this undone!”

Marco walked over and gestured to the Beetleborgs. “Get what undone, this?”

“They made a wish to become superheroes,” Dipper explained to… wait, who was this?

Marco looked at the Beetleborgs. “Wait, really?”

“Yeah,” Roland said with the McCormicks.

“That’s bad,” Marco looked back at Marco. “Anytime you make a wish like that, it goes wrong.”

Dipper threw up his hands. “Thank you!”

Jo placed her hands on her hips, which just looked strange as an armored warrior. “Ugh, we said we can handle this!”

Drew groaned. “We’re not doing this again.”

They didn’t have to, Misao’s piercing scream made everyone stop and look towards the front door. Dipper bolted out the door, fearing the worst. “… Oh, wow, my expectations have been wildly surpassed.”

Marco came out next, followed by the Beetleborgs–who stopped short. They all saw Misao sitting on the ground, scrambling backward from three wildly dressed monstrous figures who were slowly advancing upon her.

“Look what we found guys, a human!” Noxic said while he, Typhus, and Jara advanced upon the frightened girl.

“She’s so small, and fat!” Jara said. “And what is with that trashy hair?”

“Hey don’t body-shame, baby,” Typhus said. “Besides, think of all that meat on them bones.”

Jara grunted. “Ugh, I don’t eat meat that screams.”

Noxic shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t worry, it’ll stop in a second.”

Jo shook her head. “Are… are you serious?”

“What are the Magnavores doing here?!” Roland cried out.

The trio had arrived at the place Noxic had recorded the incredible power and came across Misao hiding in the vineyard. Naturally, none of them could resist an opportunity to freak one of the locals out, so here they were bullying her.

“Don’t eat me!” Misao pleaded.

“Hahaha! Hey, I’m not gonna eat ya!” Noxic assured her. “I’m a robot, see?”

He reached up and removed his face, revealing a mass of gears, wires, and moving parts writhing, turning, and clicking around an unnervingly human set of eyes and lips.

Her eyes growing wide and the color disappearing from her face, Misao fainted on the spot.

Noxic laughed. “Ha! What’d I tell ya?!”

“Misao!” Mabel cried in alarm.

Marco looked at Star. “Hey, we gotta do something.”

Star agreed and gripped her wand. “Let’s go!”

As they began running towards the monsters, Roland turned to Drew and Jo. “Did… did they come to life when we wished to be the Beetleborgs?”

Drew stiffened in place.

Jo shook her head. “Oh man, I hope not!”

Dipper hated, hated being right at times like these. “Do you see, now? This is why you don’t wish to become superheroes, because then you have to be superheroes!”

Drew’s mind raced. No, no, no! The Magnavores spread across any world they touch like wildfire and can conquer it in days!

His swordless hand shot up to the side of his head. He was starting to hyperventilate. This isn’t what I wanted!

His thoughts returned to the comic shop: Trip and Van mocking him, Dipper taking the entire confrontation against Trip into his own hands, Jo deriding him for not being able to talk to Heather… and finally himself staring at the poster of Blue Beet.

I wanted to be a hero, so I could stand up for myself and talk to Heather!

Drew looked at the Stinger Blade, then at the Magnavores circling Misao like vultures. Well, I’m a hero now.

Drew took a deep breath, and walked past Dipper. “Okay then.”

Dipper watched him go. “What?”

The Blue Stingerborg raised his right arm out at his side, the Stinger Blade gleaming in the afternoon sun. “I’ll be a superhero.”

“That’s really cool, but you have no idea what you’re doing!” Dipper yelled before Drew shot forward, blowing past Marco and Star with such speed that they stopped.

The light gleaming off the blade caught Typhus’ attention, and he turned to look over as Drew came down and landed in front of them. “Hey, who’s that?”

Jara and Noxic both looked at him, the latter shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t know, but he looks like he means business.”

The former pushed past him, drawing from her hip a red spike on a matching hilt, with a yellow blade spiraling around it like a drill. “Whatever, I will handle this guy.”

She pointed the weapon at him. “Now then, how about putting down that blade and telling us-”

Drew drew the blade back to his chest and launched himself at Jara. “YAH!”

Jara raised her weapon and blocked Drew’s slash, sparks flying from their blades meeting. “Ugh! How rude!”

She kicked Drew’s right leg at the knee, making his footing slip, slashed him across the chest with her weapon, then cut upwards. The second blow launched him onto his back, sparks and pieces of metal flying from his armor.

“Ugh!” Drew hit the ground and slid back.

Dipper grimaced. “And there it is.”

“Hey!” Roland shouted and blasted off towards Jara.

“Wait up!” Jo called, following.

“No, Stop!” Dipper yelled after him. “That is the king of bad ideas!”

Jara turned towards all the shouting, and saw the Hunterborg coming at her with the Strikerborg right behind him. “More of these metal weirdos?”

“Hey, I take offense to that!” Noxic yelled.

Roland lunged with the Hunter Claw, but Jara deflected it and sidestepped him. Facing him, she evaded a sloppy swing and slapped him across his helmeted head with her weapon.

“Urk!” Roland staggered forward, and took another hit to the back for good measure. “Ahh!”

Instead of going down, Roland turned around and once more lunged to grab her with the claw, but Jara moved inside his lunge with ease. “What is this?”

She bopped him on the forehead with the hilt of her weapon, stunning him, and kicked him onto his back. “You fight like baby.”

Star winced. “Oh. Wow. That is embarrassing.”

“Dipper, she’s kicking their butts!” Mabel said.

He sighed. “… Yep.”

Jo stopped short of the fight, and aimed the Striker Plasmar. Okay, fighting her up close won’t work! I’ll hit her from here!

“Hey,” she shouted, “That color looks terrible on you!”

Jara faced Jo. “You are the last person to talk about fashion, metal freak!”

Noxic brought a hand to his chest and took a dramatic step back. “Wow, Jara, I thought we were friends!”

Jo opened fire, red beams of energy racing towards Jara. The masked woman took her cape and swept it in front of her to take the brunt of the blast and scatter the bolts to hit Noxic and Typhus behind her, knocking them both to the ground.

Jo was dumbfounded. “Jara’s cape can’t do that in the comic!”

Sweeping her cape aside so it flowed behind her, Jara pointed her weapon at Jo. “I have form and function!”

A red beam of light shot from Jara’s weapon and with a flick of her arm it became a whip that lashed around Jo and wrapped her up tightly in several coils.

“Ugh! Wh-what is this?!” Jo demanded, struggling in vain against the energy whip.

Jara didn’t give her an answer, she yanked on her weapon, lifting Jo off her feet towards her. Once in range, Jara deactivated the whip and lunged at her. The two red warriors passed one another, Jara holding her blade forward while Jo stumbled to a stop behind her.

Jara sneered. “Feh, Amateurs.”

Multiple red lights slashed across Jo’s armor, and with several small explosions, she fell flat on her face.

Janna whistled. “That was so cool.”

“This is so bad!” Dipper corrected her, before Flabber grabbed him by the shoulder. Startling him. “Ahh!”

“Hey, Pine Tree? I think we have a problem.”

Dipper faced the phasm. “You! Of course we have a problem!”

“What?!” Flabber followed where Dipper pointed to the Magnavores and winced. “Ooh… that. Yeah.”

He held up the comic up to Dipper. “I thought about what you said, and I was going to take the wish back and offer something else. You know, a dirt bike, a treasure chest, maybe an iguana? But… something happened with the book. I can’t work my magic on it anymore.”

Dipper took the comic. “You can’t take the wish back?!”

“I used the comic book as the focus. I pushed my power through it to send the wish to the kids. Normally all I have to do is pull the power back through the focus and that’s it… but the focus… lost its focus.”

Dipper stared at the book and turned it over in his hands. “How could it lose its focus? What’s so special about-?”

He saw the barcode, and went almost as pale as Flabber. “… Oh. Oh shit.”

Jara stepped on Roland’s back with one foot and pushed him down, pinning him to the dirt. “Now, what was all that about? If I like your explanation, maybe I won’t throw you into scrap heap.”

Noxic got up, and dusted himself off. “Could you be a little more careful, Jara?!”

“Yeah, baby. That was cool and all, but you zapped us, too!” Typhus complained.

“Oh, don’t be crybaby,” Jara snapped back, before she dug her heel into Roland’s armor.

“Also, we’re also gonna have a serious talk about your thoughts and opinions on the mechanical race!”

In spite of his armor, Roland could feel Jara’s weight pressing him down, keeping him from moving. “Lady… you’re heavy!”

“And now you mock my weight?!” Jara raised her weapon. “Nevermind, I’m using your head to store bottlecaps.”

A fist made of rainbows slammed into Jara’s face, and the Magnavore warrior was thrown through the air past Jo. She hit the ground tumbling, end over end, like a race car that missed its turn.

After three rolls she jammed her blade into the dirt and carved a long fissure into the ground to stop. “Rrrr… who dares…?”

“You ready to throw down, Marco?” Star asked, twirling her wand at high speed like a big iron on her hip.

“It has been too long since I’ve had a chance to haul off,” Princess Marco said as he rolled his shoulders and cracked his knuckles.

Dipper looked at the two, then back to Flabber. “You need to fix this or people are going to get hurt!”

Janna interrupted. “Nah, they got this.”

Dipper grabbed his hat in frustration. “What is with people vastly underestimating what they’ve got?!”

Jara was of the same thought as she got up and readied her weapon. “Is this a dimension full of masochists? Fine then, I will indulge you, but I won’t stop if it hurts too much!”

She raised her weapon to ignite her beam whip, but Star was quicker on the draw. “Strawberry Annihilation!”

Jara hesitated in surprise at that critical instant. “Wait, what?”

A berry bright beam of light smashed into Jara, blasting her back and scorching her armor. Startled, Jara looked down at her pauldrons, then up just in time to meet the sole of Marco’s sneaker.

“HEEYAH!” His flying kick hit almost as hard as the spell itself, but Jara recovered again and readied her weapon. Landing and waving his arms, Marco widened and lowered his posture, before bringing his arms to halt in a ready fighting stance.

Jara clenched her grip on her weapon, and assumed her own combat stance. “You have made a very big mistake!”

“You wanna talk about mistakes, how about stepping up to me?” He attacked, launching a flurry of lightning quick jabs that put her on the defensive.

With sharp movements of her hands she parried his strikes, before she thrust her blade forward to drive Marco back. The blow missed when her fast and surprisingly pretty opponent weaved under it and capitalized, catching her arm. “Eh?!”

Jara struggled to break free of Marco’s grip, but he turned around, pulling himself against her and driving his elbow into her stomach, the blunt force going clean through her armored corset. “OOF!”

I… I felt that! A second elbow to her gut derailed Jara’s thoughts, followed by a third.

As she doubled over, Marco used the motion to hoist Jara up and throw her down into the dirt. “HEEYAH!”

“Whoa, did you see that?!” Noxic cried out to Typhus.

Typhus did but he wasn’t sure he could believe it. “Yeah, is that one a human, too?”

Dipper didn’t know what to think anymore. “They’re… good.”

“Really good!” Mabel cheered.

Janna smirked. “Told you.”

Laid out on her back, Jara looked up to see Marco coming down on her, and rolled out of the way of a stomp that left a web of cracks on the ground. Back onto her feet, her cape unfurled behind her, she glowered at the human in front of her.

What is she? She thought, before a flicker of blonde hair entered her field of vision. She looked left at the Magical Princess aiming her wand. “Dagger Crystal Heart Attack!”

Jara grabbed her cape and swung it around herself to defend against this ray, but while the energy scattered, the razor sharp crystalline hearts tore through her mantle and slashed across her body. “ARGH!”

She stumbled back, looking from her damaged cape to Star. Seeing her clearly, she tensed up for a second as she studied her face. Those marks…!

Marco came down on her with an axe kick, but missed as Jara ignored him completely and rushed straight for Star, blade glowing threateningly. “Whoa! Star, look out!”

Star heeded the warning, ducking under Jara’s first swing, and back flipping from the following blow. Landing on her feet, Star used her wand to block Jara’s next swing, energy crackling from their respective weapons before Star parried Jara upward. She twirled out of the way of Jara’s furious lunge, but before she could utter another spell, Jara came around and forced her to block another slash with her wand.

Holding back the glowing blade, Star twisted the handle of her wand and pointed its face at Jara. “Laser Beam Blast!”

The wand went off, the beam of energy it fired knocking Jara back from Star and creating the opening Marco needed to connect his kick–launching Jara off her feet and to the ground in front of her allies.

Growling, the Magnavore warrior got up and screamed. “Noxic! I need Scabs!”

Noxic looked down at his hands, then at Jara. “I don’t know if I can even summon ‘em here!”

“Do it if you’re not going to fight yourself, coward!”

Marco looked at Star. “Wow, you really ticked her off.”

Star nodded, as she tossed her wand to her other hand. “Yeah.”

Typhus smacked Noxic on the shoulder roughly. “You better do something quick.”
“Hey I’m workin’ on it!” Noxic held his hand aloft, arcs of electricity jumping up his forearm and between his fingers.. “All right then, here goes! Hey you Scabs, time to break up this strike!”

On the porch, the comic grew hot in Dipper’s hands. “Ah! Ow!”

Dropping it to save his fingers, he jumped back in time to avoid over a half-dozen jets of flame that shot from the book in every direction. “Whoa!”

Flabber jumped back from the jets of flame as they shot around the porch. “Goodness gracious great balls of fire!”

Janna ducked under one of the flames. “The comic responded to that guy!”

The flames shot towards Noxic, landing in front of him and Typhus. Strange faceless humanoids wearing yellow and black armored bodysuits that invoked the image of an angry hornet, the loud buzzing they let out as they readied wicked red hot blades made the frightening comparison more apt.

“Get in there and help Jara take care of those brats!” Noxic shouted, and the Scabs charged at Star and Marco.

He turned to Typhus. “You wanna get in there too, man?”

“No way, I never fight with a hangover,” Typhus answered, “Only when I’m sober. Or drunk, baby! Hahaha!”

Noxic slapped his forehead. “Remind me to get you all of the booze, so we don’t have to do this again!”

“Kill the girl with the ponytail!” Jara yelled at the Scabs. “The other is mine alone!”

Star grinned. “You really want a piece of me, huh?!”

“As many as I can hack from you, magic girl!” Jara yelled, shooting ahead of the Scabs for Star.

Marco got ready. “Here we go, then!”

Star raised her wand. “Shooting Star Explosion!”

Unleashing her beam whip, Jara slashed through the spinning stars the wand fired, and lashed it at both Star and Marco, scattering them. Landing away from Marco, Star flipped and danced around the undulating beam to strike her with another magical blast. “Stardust Daisy Devastation!”

The red-clothed warrior scattered with her cape as she closed the distance again. “This will be the end for you!”

Rolling up onto his feet, Marco faced the Scabs and ran to meet their charge. Jumping over the first one’s slash, he landed on its shoulder and kicked off it. Arms out, he front-flipped over the rest of them, avoiding the reaching swings of their jagged weapons.

He touched down behind the last one, dropped down, and performed a quick sweep, sending it to the ground with a thud. The other Scabs scrambled forth and swung their weapons down to chop up Marco, but he rolled back and jumped onto his feet.

A Scab lunged forward of the scrambling crowd. thrusting a blade for his head, but Marco got inside and punched it in the gut, the blow lifting it off its feet and leaving it open for a spinning high kick into its side. “HIYAH!”

Janna blinked in surprise as the Scab was thrown a considerable distance. “… Whoa.”

Dipper agreed. “Yeah, she’s really good.”

Marco hopped back from the blades of the other Scabs, ducking under a stab to kick the attacker upside its head. When another tried to pounce on him, he caught and hip-threw it into two more trying to flank him.

When he got back up, he noticed Misao still fainted near the edge of the battle. “Star, I need some cover!”

Star ducked under a particularly vicious swing from Jara. “You got it!”

“No you do not!” Jara’s next blow was much faster and Star blocked it. “I will not let a cheek-marked child get the better of me!”

Jara’s snarl struck a chord with Star, but she really didn’t have time to dwell on it. “You just did! Cupcake Blast!”

Realizing that the wand’s face was again pointed at hers too late, Jara couldn’t stop the magical cupcake beam covering her mask in a fluffy and creamy magical confection.

Jara stumbled back, trying to wipe it off in vain. “What is this?! Why is it so aggravatingly delicious?!”

Facing Marco and the Scabs, Star skipped, hopped, then leaped high in the air, and thrust her wand above her head. “Supersonic Leech Bomb!”

Bright cyan beams became glowing cyan leeches that stuck to the arms, legs, and torsos of the Scabs. Marco turned and scooped up Misao, running as fast as he could as the leeches beeped in rising frequency. After the last beep, the leeches grew brighter and exploded, tearing the Scabs apart.

Star landed in front of the cyan-colored explosion with her back to it. Her eyes and the hearts on her cheeks glowing faintly as the blast cast her in silhouette.

“Ohhh… yeah!” Star said between pants to catch her breath. “My wand works!”

“She is so cool!” Mabel cried out as Marco reached Dipper and set Misao down at his feet.

Dipper looked at him, and quickly looked back up at the fire and smoke rising from Star’s explosive attack. “Are you guys doing all right?”

“Oh, we’re doing fine. We do this kind of stuff all the time,” Marco insisted. “You might want to get inside before stuff really starts blowing up…”

Dipper picked up Misao. “Okay, uh… be careful.”

Marco threw Dipper a casual salute as he ran back to rejoin Star. “Will do, thanks!”

Mabel watched Dipper watch Marco run back to the fight, and smirked. “Amazing, huh?”

“Yeah…” Dipper trailed off when he noticed the mischievous grin on his sister’s face, and rolled his eyes. He turned and took Misao into Hillhurst. “Now is so not the time for this, get inside the house!”

While everyone at the house was well-impressed, Drew couldn’t really appreciate the display. All we did was annoy her, they’re actually taking her own and doing damage.

He looked down at himself. Oh… that’s why.

“They’re so strong,” Roland said as he got up.

Jo was furious. “What happened?! We wished for their powers and their weapons, why can’t we fight them?!”

Drew looked at her. “We didn’t ask for their skills.”

Jo recalled the specifics of the wish. “No, we wished for their powers, weapons, and…”

“Whoa, no! We don’t want to become them… literally… We only want their powers and equipment. That stuff.”

“Yeah, don’t change us into the actual people themselves.”


“Argh, come on!” Jo hated feeling like an idiot, but who didn’t? “Now what do we do?! All of this stuff’s junk!”

“It’s not junk,” Roland said as he finished standing.

Jo got up. “It is! We’re powerful, but doesn’t mean crap if Jara can dance all over us! It wasn’t even fair! We may as well be throwing rocks at her!”

Drew was about to agree with Jo there, but stopped. “Wait, that’s it.”

Roland and Jo looked over, as Drew dispelled the Stinger Blade–he wasn’t going to need it. “We may not be able to fight…”

Reaching to his leg, he unholstered the Input Magnum and raised it up. “… But you don’t need to be a martial arts master to shoot a gun.”

Jara’s whip cut through the billowing smoke of the explosion, revealing all of the Scabs were back on their feet and regenerating. Their blown apart bodies being repaired by what looked like tens of thousands of wasps that lay inside of their bodies. The Scabs themselves staggered and twitched as they repaired their damage, advancing slowly towards Star.

“Ooh, that’s weird,” Star whispered.

The nearest Scab finished its repairs and rushed towards her in a jerky, zombie-like fashion. It swung and she smartly caught and guided the weapon away with her wand. When it brought it back to decapitate her, she flowed under it with the grace of a ballet dancer, got behind it, and twirled around to point her wand at its back.

“Stardust Daisy Devastation!” She cheered, and blasted a hole through the Scab. Marco followed up landing a flying kick into its chest and sending it staggering back into the arms of the other Scabs.

“Star, you doing all right?” He asked.

He saw the holed Scab repairing its damage, the countless wasps buzzing as they resealed the wound. “What the…?”

Star twirled her wand. “Gross, right?”

Having cleaned her mask off, Jara cracked her whip. “Our Scabs can repair any damage. I can only hope you are not nearly as durable!”

Just as Star and Marco prepared to take her up on that challenge, Drew shouted out to them. “Get on the ground, quick!”

Marco went to look back, but Star tackled him to the ground, as yellow beams lanced through the air above them and shot through the heads of the Scabs, destroying them with bright flashes and puffs of blue electricity. This time, they didn’t get up.

Star and Marco looked back, to see the Beetleborgs training their Input Magnums on the dissolving Scabs.

“No!” Jara angrily snarled.

Noxic jumped in surprise. “H-hey, no fair! How’d you know their weakness?!”

Drew aimed his blaster at her, Jo and Roland following suit. “It’s your turn!”

Jara quickly drew her cape around herself as Drew fired repeatedly. The beams traveled in wild arcs and angles away from Jara, just like before.

Beside him, Roland and Jo pulled back the slides of their Input Magnums, and entered different codes on their weapons’ keypads: 010 and 818 respectively.

“Get her!” Drew shouted.

“Take this!” Roland shouted, and unleashed an icy blue beam from the Input Magnum. The beam crashed against Jara’s cape, but didn’t scatter. From the point of impact ice quickly formed, freezing Jara’s cape against her skin.

With a cry of shock, Jara stumbled back. “What?! Ah! C-Cold! Cold!”

While the Magnavore tried to pull the cape from her skin, Jo lined up her Input Magnum and fired. “Let me help you with that!”

A stream of bright red and pink flame leaped from her Input Magnum’s barrel and engulfed Jara. From freezing to flaming, engulfed head to toe in fire, Jara flailed around screaming. “Everything is burning!”

Noxic raced over to Jara, Typhus hot on his heels. “Whoa! Stop drop and roll! Stop drop and roll!”

Roland pointed his Input Magnum at the two of them. “You’re next, Magnacreeps!”

Noxic knocked Jara down and began stomping on her to put out the fire. “Creeps?! Hey, I take offense to that! I’m a weirdo, not a creep!”

“Yeah, me too! I respect women, baby!” Typhus also corrected them while kicking dirt on Jara's face. “Quick, rub her face in the ground so her face so her hair don’t catch.”

“I hate all of you!” Jara shrieked up at them.

The fire quickly put out, Noxic and Typhus both helped her smoldering body up, and faced the Beetleborgs.

“Just you wait, you jerks! We’ll be back!” Noxic shouted at them.

Typhus shook his fist at them. “Yeah, when I get over this hangover, you’re goners, baby!”

All three vanished in a swirl of esoteric flames. Already destroyed, and without their masters around, the remains of the Scabs quickly crumbled to dust, and blew away with the wind.

@@@@@

The battle, it seemed, was over. A few seconds passed, and when it looked like nothing else was going to happen, Dipper sighed in relief. “I think that’s it for now.”

Janna peered out of the doorway. “Shame they didn’t finish off that red chick.”

Mabel leaned out over her. “We’ll get her next time.”

Dipper didn’t like that there would be a next time. A groggy groan from Misao brought his attention to the young woman cradled in his arms.

“Ugh… are those monsters gone?” She mumbled.

Mabel turned to her. “Oh it was amazing, you missed the whole fight!”

Dipper set her down, and helped her steady herself. “Yeah, the Beetleborgs and Star chased them off.”

Looking up the path, Misao gave a start when she saw the Beetleborgs in their gleaming armor. “Whoa.”

Star stood up, followed by Marco. “That was awesome.”

Marco smiled at her. “I know, right?”

The two high-fived. “Fighting monsters is back on the menu!” They shouted together.

Drew somberly holstered his Input Magnum. Okay, we won the battle… the first battle.

He was thankful the helmet hid his face, and turned to Star and Marco, his friend and sister following. “Thanks… you saved us back there.”

Marco nodded to Drew. “Don’t worry about it; nobody’s hurt?”

“Just my pride,” Jo grumbled.

“I think Jara would’ve needed to do a lot more damage to actually hurt us,” Roland realized as he checked his suit’s systems. It was indeed the case; damage was light, just the exterior most armor having the worst of it.

He looked at the Magical Princess and her friend. “But you two… what was that?”

“Yeah, it was like you weren’t even trying,” Jo added.

Marco could not resist the buff to his ego. “Well, me and Star do fight monsters all the time.”

Star agreed. “Oh yeah! I’ve been trained to do it since I was three, and Marco’s a karate master.”

Roland, Jo, and Drew looked at Marco. “Marco?”

Star lit up and pointed her wand at Marco. “Oh yeah! Radiant Shadow Transform!”

In a flash, Princess Marco was simply Marco Diaz again, the long flowing hair, makeup, and fluttery eyelashes disappearing in an instant. He felt his face with uncertainty. “Huh… I still feel stunningly beautiful. I kinda like it!” He smiled at Star. “Well, if all the explosions and beams didn’t confirm it, your wand’s definitely working.”

Star clutched her wand to her chest, her smile glorious. “I know, it’s so great!”

Marco’s abrupt and unceremonious transformation surprised Dipper as he arrived with his sister, Janna, and Misao.

His gaze lingered long enough for Marco to notice and look back towards him. “What?”

“Huh?” Dipper said quickly after him.

Marco’s right eyebrow rose. “Did you want something…?”

Dipper raised and waved his hands in a nervous gesture of reassurance. “No I, uh, was surprised, that’s all.”

Marco flushed a little. “Oh, okay.”

Dipper looked away, his cheeks a bit red. “Yeah, okay.”

Mabel saw all of that, and bit her lower lip to repress a high-pitched squeal.

Marco turned from Dipper to the others. “So what’s going on, are we turning these guys back to normal or what?”

“We need to, right now,” Drew said firmly.

Jo turned to her brother. “What?!”

“Drew!” Roland exclaimed.

Drew gestured to the scorched ground the battle just took place on. “Our wish brought the Magnavores here. So if we undo the wish, the Magnavores will go back too, right?”

Roland paused. “Yeah, I guess that would be the case.”

Dipper, his flush clearing up, delivered the bad news. “Except you can’t undo the wish.”

Drew felt cold inside his armor. “… What?”

Jo bounced on her feet. “Really?”

Flabber appeared on her shoulder, barely six inches tall. “I’m really sorry guys, I can’t take it back.”

Drew recoiled a full step back. “What? Why not?!”

“I have some theories,” Dipper said, “But I need to do some research and figure out what exactly Flabber can or can’t do with the book.”.

Drew’s shoulders sagged. “Then they’re just out there, liable to do whatever.”

Nothing about that sounded good to Roland. “If they hurt someone or try to take over the world…”

Janna, who’d been paying attention, said it flat out. “Then it’ll be all your fault.”

It felt like Janna drove a spear into Drew’s heart.

Marco looked at her. “Janna, not cool.”

Janna gestured to Dipper. “Hey, you and him did say this was gonna happen.”

“Well yeah, but you didn’t need to put it like that.”

Drew brought his hand to the crown of his helmet and turned away, shaking his head. “No… the Magnavores are the cruelest, most evil creatures to ever exist in the comic. Here in the real world, they’re going to cause havoc like nothing anyone has seen before.”

Misao gasped. “They’re that bad?”

He turned to face her. “You have no idea. If they aren’t stopped, they’ll destroy all life on the planet!”

Star struck out at that hysteria. “Then we’ll stop them!”

Drew shook his head as everyone looked at her. “Wait-”

She cut him off. “It’s not like we can’t do it. You guys have that tough armor and cool blasters. With you, Marco, and me? I think we can kick their butts!”

Jo nodded enthusiastically. “You’re darn right; we have the powers so we may as well do something with them!”

Dipper protested. “It will not be that easy.”

Roland wasn’t sold on it, either. “Yeah, in case you didn’t see? We got our butts kicked.”

“Yeah, you did,” Janna added.

Misao hadn’t seen it. She looked at Janna. “How bad was it?”

“It was so cringe.”

Dipper confirmed this with a grim nod, and Misao winced. “Oof.”

Drew hung his head. Star was right, so was Jo. We have powers now, and it’s our responsibility to use them… but…

He looked up. “We made this wish, so we have to fight them, even if we’re no good at it.”

“If we’re bad at fighting, we have to get better at it,” Jo said, “And the only way we’ll get better is with experience,”

“And~ with training from a too cool karate master!” Star added.

She twirled around and gestured with both hands to Marco. “I present to you, Marco Diaz.”

Marco recoiled. “W-what? Me train them? I’m not a teacher… I mean, I’ve helped other students at the dojo and I’ve learned basically enough that Sensei Brantley lets me run classes for him when he can’t…”

“That sounds exactly like you should be able to train them,” Dipper pointed out.

Mabel clasped her hands together. “Could you, please? You saw it, they need help.”

“Please,” Drew joined in, “We need to be able to do more than just shoot at them.”

Marco held up his hands. “Yeah, but I can only teach so much. I mean, this sounds like you need actual military training.”

Star leaned against Marco and flashed him an encouraging smile. “I can do that! I’ve been trained by the Mewni royal guard since I was three, remember?”

“Star, medieval combat training isn’t the same thing,” Marco said. “I think they need something more modern.

Mabel clapped her hands together. “My Sherpa can teach them that!”

Drew turned to Mabel. “Old Man Pines, really?”

Dipper grimaced. “I don’t know…”

“Uh, doi? He’s a veteran from like four wars!” Mabel revealed.

“Hold it, we can’t go telling everyone we’re Beetleborgs!” Jo argued.

“As long as we don’t tell him why they need the training, it’ll be fine,” Mabel reassured them.

Dipper shook his head. “We won’t need to lie for him. We’ve talked to our Grandfather about way weirder stuff than this, and he understands. Right now though, let’s worry about if he’ll say yes at all.”

Roland tilted his head away from Dipper. “Weirder than this?”

“It’s a long story.” Dipper would need hours to tell it.

Drew was happy that Dipper was going to try. “I hope he does–we need all the help we can get.”

In spite of his reservations, Marco wasn’t going to actually turn these guys down, especially since they were so bad at fighting. Of course, he couldn’t say no to an opportunity to fight the Magnavores either. After Ludo’s guys stopped bothering Star, I really missed getting into these kinds of fights.

“Don’t worry, I’ll teach you everything I know–and back you up against the Magnavores,” he promised.

Mabel gasped and hugged Marco into her chest. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Uh, thanks…” Marco mumbled back, enveloped by the taller girl.

“You’re the best!” Star joined the hug, trapping Marco between both girls.

“Hey, that call for help ain’t limited to non-Phasms, is it?” Flabber asked from Star’s shoulder now.

She pulled back from the group hug and flashed him a big smile. “Of course it’s not!”

Dipper hesitated. “I’m not sure…”

Flabber insisted. “You don’t need to worry about me, Pine Tree, I’m really sorry about this, so I’ll help anyway I can! Whatever you need, you can count on the Flabster!”

“I don’t see a problem,” Marco said.

Dipper looked at him. “Huh?”

“Really?!” Flabber asked.

Marco looked from Flabber and Star to Dipper. “If he’s serious about helping out, we should give him a chance. Besides, you said you need to research what he can or can’t do, right?”

Flabber nodded fast. “I’m a Phasm for the Forces of Good, you know? If this is my boo-boo? Then I want to help kiss it better.”

Dipper saw the others were in agreement, and conceded. “Well, you can start to help by never calling me Pine Tree. We can figure out where to go from here next when I get my research equipment.”

Flabber cheered. “Flab out! You got it! I think we’re gonna get along great… uh...”

“It’s Dipper,” he said.

“Honestly my next guess was going to be Mason.”

“That’s definitely not it!” Dipper snapped, earning a giggle from Mabel.

Drew was relieved. “Thanks.”

Jo clenched her hands into fists, excited she would get to be a Beetleborg for another day. “Yes!”

“Great!” Roland cheered.

Dipper turned to Drew, Jo, and Roland. “I guess if we’re all on the same page then, it’s fine to transform back.”

The Beetleborgs looked at each other, and in a moment of silent debate all came to an agreement. Drew stepped forward, and held out his hand. “Back Blast!”

Light swirled around Drew like a whirling tornado, and the Blue Stingerborg armor was gone, coming together into the form of a rhinoceros beetle-shaped device that landed in his hand. He looked at it in surprise, the wings opening to reveal a miniature figurine of the Blue Stingerborg inside.

Jo and Roland transformed back themselves, and held aloft their own similarly styled Beetle Bonders.

“Huh, the old style Beetle Bonders,” Roland realized.

“It’s really straight out of the book, the new bonders weren’t available until the 20th anniversary issue in 2010,” Jo said.

Drew had a thought about that. “Huh.”

“What?” Dipper asked.

Before he could elaborate, the sound of sirens approaching from the distance filled the air, and Flabber brought his fingers to his lips as if to chomp on his nails. “The cops, and they’re heading this way!”

“Someone must’ve heard the fight and called them,” Roland realized.

“We need to go,” Misao suggested.

Janna agreed. “Yeah, we should not be hanging around a freshly broken into abandoned house that looks like a battlefield.”

Flabber nudged Janna. “Don’t you worry about the mess, I’ll just use a little of the Flib Flab Spic’n’Span to clean up around here, nobody’ll be the wiser.”

“Yeah, but how are we going to get out of here without the cops seeing us?” Roland asked.

Star quickly pulled out a pair of red-handled scissors. “Don’t worry, I got it! Where are we going?”

Mabel gasped. “The Dimensional Scissors!”

“The what?” Misao asked.

“Zoom Comics,” Roland answered Star.

“Where’s that?” Star asked

Marco took the scissors. “I know where that is.”

When Marco dug the scissors into the air and sliced upward, carving open a literal portal in reality, Misao’s mouth fell agape. “Ach du lieber himmel…”

“Flab out!” The phasm exclaimed. “Those are some snappy snippers!”

As Janna jumped through the portal first, Marco stuffed the scissors into his hoodie pocket. “Hey, let’s mosey.”

Jo and Roland didn’t need to be encouraged further, following Janna through the portal. Mabel went next, with a still astounded Misao right behind her. Finally, Drew, Dipper, and lastly Marco stepped through the portal and it sealed up. The portal closed, Flabber vanished in a swirl of colorful, cartoonish light just as the first fire truck and police cars came around the bend–to find a serene and untouched vineyard that hadn’t been the site of a battle and a house that hadn’t been blasted with narwhals.

= - = 12 = - =

Be Careful What You Wish For...
 
Hotel California

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#13
The battle is over, and everyone is home...

= - = 13 = - =

|Hotel California|

Coming through the portal last, Marco stood next to Dipper as it closed up, taking evidence of their presence at Hillhurst with it. They were in the back alley behind Zoom Comics, out of sight from the street and any possible witnesses. As soon as they were in the clear, Misao was the first to let out a long sigh of relief and she leaned against Mabel.

“That… that happened,” she said, at a loss for words to describe what had happened.

“Welcome to Tuesday,” Marco said.

Star pretty sure she knew how Earth’s days went. “But it’s Saturday.”

Marco let that one slide. “You’ll get used to it, this kind of stuff really happens all the time for me and Star.”

Dipper disagreed. “This isn’t something we can file under ‘happens all the time.’”

“If you file it under fighting the forces of evil, then yeah, it does,” Star pointed out.

The group headed towards the street, Mabel pulling out her phone. “Well, if we’re fighting evil we need to stay in touch. I am taking all phone numbers, emails, instas, and snapchats. We also need to decide where we’re going to meet up and when.”

“We can meet here and head out to wherever we need to be,” Roland said, “We can keep the talk about Beetleborgs stuff to when we’re not around other people.”

Jo directed a critical look at Misao and Janna. “We can’t tell anyone who doesn’t need to know, this is our mess to clean up.”

Janna was offended by the very inference. “Hey, I’m not a narc.”

Misao agreed. “Neither am I!”

Jo nodded. “Good.”

“Then that’s decided! So we begin our conspiracy to save the world!” Mabel declared.

Dipper grimaced a little. “I guess it is that, huh?”

Marco spoke. “I’ll talk to Sensei Brantley about letting you three join the dojo. He’s probably going to flip when he hears I’m ready to step up and teach.”

“Mabel and I will talk to our Grandpa about any other training,” Dipper said.

Roland nodded to Dipper. “Thanks, man.”

“Yeah,” Drew added.

As they rounded the corner, they found Shermie’s SUV was gone. Nano’s motorcycle was still there, though. Heather was outside, texting on her phone, when she noticed the group and lit up in relief. “Hey, you guys, how’d everything go?”

For a brief instant, Drew hesitated, and glanced away from Heather towards the exterior posters on the comic shop. Once more, he saw the poster of the Beetleborgs, and a bitterly funny thought occurred to him.

It really is the least of my problems.

“Trip and Van tried to lock us up in Hillhurst and prank us,” he said before Dipper or Roland could say anything. He took the rewrapped comic from Dipper, and held it up. “But Trip was nice enough to give me the comic.”

Heather’s eyes shot wide in her amazement. “What, really?!”

Taken off guard by her brother’s sudden confidence speaking to Heather, Jo quickly scrambled to keep up. “Yeah, they made Drew go into the house to get it on a bet, but he didn’t even blink.”

Heather’s mouth fell open. “You went inside Hillhurst?”

Roland jumped in on his boy’s wing. “Yeah, solo!”

Drew, realizing what Roland and Jo were doing, tried not to smile too much. “ It’s just a creepy old house. There wasn’t anything inside but broken glass and garbage.”

“Those spoiled idiots were the ones who got scared,” Misao chimed in. “They went in after him, and ran right back out.”

Janna, finished giving Mabel her number, brought up the video of the Vanderhoffs running out of the house in a crazed panic. “Check it out.”

Heather looked at the video, then took the phone from Janna to look closer. “Oh my gosh, this is amazing.”

Drew shrugged his shoulders. “I only wish I could’ve seen their faces, but oh well.”

He handed the comic to her.

Staring, hesitant to take it, she looked up at Drew. “Huh?”

“Want to read it?” He asked.

Heather looked between him and the comic, a flicker of apprehension flashing in her eyes. In reassurance, he gestured to it. “Everyone should check out comic book history, right?”

With Drew not having another shoe to drop, Heather smiled again and took the comic. “You know I have to.”

“Just be careful with it, okay?” He asked as he opened the door for her.

“Like I’m going to ruin this,” Heather assured him while walking inside.

Drew followed her inside, and Roland chuckled. “That’s my boy.”

“Where did that come from?” Jo asked.

Roland shrugged his shoulders. “I just hope it’s here to stay.”

Jo huffed and put on a smile. “Yeah.”

She went inside to make sure that this ship-launch didn’t turn into a trainwreck, leaving Roland to turn to Dipper and Mabel. “So while you’re waiting for your Gramps, want to get that pull list going?”

When wasn’t Mabel on board for anything fun? “Sure!”

Star was intrigued. “A list of what?”

“Comics,” Marco explained, “It’s a list of books so readers can keep up on stories they like.”

Star looked at the comic book shop, and then to Marco. “I like comics, let’s get one, too!”

After this afternoon, sitting down and reading comic books for the rest of the day sounded great. “Sure, I’ve got some cash to burn.”

He walked in with Star’s excitedly nudging him along and Janna went in right behind them. Roland, Dipper and Mabel were about to follow next, when Misao spoke. “Dipper, Mabel, if I may?”

The Pines twins stopped to face Misao, who was typing out a text message. Looking up from the phone, she smiled warmly to the two. “I wanted to say that, in spite of how scary everything was, I had a wonderful, exciting time today. So thank you for running off with me.”

Mabel returned the smile. “It was pretty exciting, yeah.”

“I’m just glad we’ve been able to keep you out of harm’s way…” Dipper grimaced, remembering Misao’s terrified screams.” “… Mostly.”

“It’s fine!” Misao reassured him. “After, everything that’s happened today has gotten me thinking: I am set to go to live with a rich, famous family, and spend my school year at a fancy school… but if I did that I wouldn’t be able to spend time with the first friends I’ve ever made in America, so I think I will be changing my school arrangements.”

Mabel gasped. “Aww! You want to go to Echo Creek Academy with us?”

Misao nodded. “It’s very last minute, I’ll have to change my living arrangements too. You don’t think it would be a burden on your Grandfather if he allowed me to stay the night while I made them, do you?”

“Not at all,” Dipper replied, “Grandpa Shermie’s a generous guy, and there should be plenty of room at his place. Besides, the longer we stay off Shego’s radar, the better, right?”

Roland did a double-take. “Wait, what about Shego?!”

Mabel burst with joy at the prospect of a sleepover. “Yeah! Since it’s a Saturday, once we’re all unpacked we can stay up all night watching movies and playing games!”

Misao agreed. “Yes!”

Dipper let out a snort. “You’ll both be out by nine.”

“Nuh uh!” Both girls protested.

“Hold up,” Roland interrupted, “What’s going on with Shego?”

Misao sent the message that she’d been typing. “Oh, she tried to kidnap me at the airport. Dipper and Mabel rescued me.”

Roland looked back and forth between the twins. “Seriously?! This stuff has just been happening to you two all day?!”

“‘Welcome to Tuesday,’” Mabel said with a cheeky grin.

Dipper shrugged his shoulders. “You will get used to it, Roland, don’t worry.”

Roland sighed in resignation, then managed a smile. “I don’t have any choice but to, don’t I?”

“Yep! Denial will not make it go away,” Mabel said as she looped an arm around Misao’s and led her to the door. “Embrace the weird, become the silly, and we will save the world.”

Roland looked to Dipper. “You know what, man?”

“What?”

“Earlier today, I was worried about you two. I thought you were going to be all weird and stuff, like the last few times.”

Dipper grimaced. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I hope we’ve gotten better about it.”

“Oh no, you’re still weird and stuff,” Roland corrected him. “But you two have grown up a lot… I mean… way more than I imagined. What the heck happened to you guys?”

Dipper managed to smile again, and decided that this was as good a time as any. Gesturing for Roland to walk with him, he began.

“Well, it all started when our parents decided we could use some fresh air. They sent us up to Gravity Falls, Oregon to live with our Great Uncle Stan at his Museum of Mystery…”

@@@@@

The sun was going down by the time Shermie pulled up to Zoom Comics. Dipper, Mabel and Misao were waiting out in front of the store with Drew, Jo, Roland, and Heather. After a few hours of hanging out and hearing Dipper and Mabel’s story, Star, Marco, and Janna had gone their separate ways. Even as Shermie reached the curb, there were still plenty of questions for Dipper and Mabel.

“So everything just went right back to normal as soon as Bill was destroyed?” Roland asked.

Dipper nodded. “Everything.”

“Even the people who died?” Jo asked.

“Nobody died… I think? But everything went back to normal like it never happened. Everyone remembered though–that is why there’s a law against talking about it.”

Heather shuddered. “I’d never want to talk about it, either.”

Drew was bothered by something. “Wait, what happened to the journals, did they go back to normal too after Bill burned them?”

“Yeah, but we threw them down a bottomless pit,” Mabel said.

“Wait, doesn’t stuff that goes down the pit eventually come out?” Roland asked.

“Grunkle Ford did some calculations, and threw them down into it at a point where it’d take at least 10,000 years for them to come out again. Then he had the town cover the hole with a concrete slab. We’ll never see them again.”

Or at least Dipper hoped.

“So,” Jo asked, “What was it like to kill something with your bare hands?”

Drew, Roland, and Heather all gave Jo a strange look.

Dipper scowled. “Immensely satisfying.”

To this day, Dipper had no regrets about what he did to Dippy Fresh, and he never will.

Oh yes, he’s the one. Jo thought appreciatively, while ignoring the strange looks given to her.

Shermie stepped out of the SUV and walked around it. “Dipper, Mabel, your stuff has gotten there and is ready to be unpacked.”

Mabel brightened. “Oh, Sherpa! Did Waddles make it okay?”

Shermie frowned. “You mean the pet pig you didn’t tell me you were bringing with you?”

He opened the back seat, and there sitting by the driver’s side window with a seatbelt and everything was a small pink but shockingly adorable pig, who let out an oink in greeting.

“He’s some pig,” Shermie said good-naturedly, “Never thought I’d ever meet one with good personal hygiene habits and half a mind for safety.”

Seeing the pig, Misao was overcome by the pig’s adorableness and gasped. “He’s even cuter in person!”

Heather joined her side, to get a look at Waddles, and fell under the same spell of cuteness. “Aw! He’s even buckled in!”

Mabel thrust her chest out with pride as the two girls cooed and giggled over Waddles. “I told you, Waddles is the cutest pig in the entire universe.”

Jo, not easily taken in by cute pigs, shook her head at the sugary display of girliness. “Ugh.”

Dipper fist-bumped Roland, Drew, and Jo in succession. “Well, we’re out of here. If we don’t see you tomorrow, we’ll see you at school.”

“Later man,” Drew said.

“Yeah, see ya,” Roland said.

Jo winked at Dipper. “I hope we have the same classes, Dipper.”

Dipper managed a weak, awkward smile. The schadenfreudian chuckling in the back of his mind was louder as he got into the passenger seat.

Misao climbed into the SUV and cuddled Waddles, while Mabel slid onto the backseat next to her. Shermie climbed into the driver’s seat, and started the engine as everyone buckled in. On the radio the beginning of a live performance of an old classic, “Hotel California” by the Eagles, began to play.

Mabel turned to Drew, Jo, Roland, and Heather. She waved to them. “See you, guys~!”

The SUV pulled off as Mabel waved out to them, and the kids left behind watched it go down the street until it made a corner.

Roland looked back at the shop. “It’s almost closing time. You guys want to help get this place buttoned up?”

Jo looked over at him. “Sure.”

Heather took off her apron. “I already closed up the café, so I’m going to get home too. I’ve got a ton of homework to do and I haven’t eaten anything all day.”

Drew nodded. “Okay, later Heather.”

Heather flashed him a smile, and nodded. “See you, Drew.”

As Heather began to walk away, Jo elbowed Drew Getting the hint, Drew turned and called after her. “Hey, before you go?”

He went to catch up, and Jo turned to follow Roland inside, smiling.

Heather stopped and turned to Drew. “What’s up?”

Drew didn’t waste any time. There’s nothing to lose, nothing’s as difficult compared to what’s coming, so just go for it.

“I know after everything, this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but…” He paused and took a deep breath. “… Do you want to go to the Homecoming Dance with me? Not as like, my date, but… as friends.”

Heather didn’t flinch or cringe. She smiled, albeit with a bit of sadness. “I’d love to, Drew.”

Drew’s heart nearly stopped in his chest. “R-Really?”

“But…”

It did stop.

“I wasn’t going to go to begin with,” Heather explained gently, “I have plans with my family that whole weekend, I’m not even going to be in town for it.”

Drew’s heart restarted, and despite the pain of rejection, he was buoyed. “I see… oh well, then. It’s nothing bad, is it?”

“No, just a big family barbecue on Lake Tahoe.”

Drew smiled. “Well, have fun when you go.”

“I’ll try, but family get-togethers are the worst.” Heather draped the back of her hand across her forehead, before she let it drop to her side with a laugh and leaned closer to him. “But, if you just want to hang out any other time? I’d like that.”

“Isn’t that what we already do?” Drew asked.

Heather nodded and rested a hand on his shoulder. “Yeah, but I like it so much, I think we should do it more than just here when I’m at work.”

Now Drew didn’t know what was happening anymore. He stared at Heather like she had just professed her love for him on the spot. “H… hokay?”

Heather was radiant with his answer, and pulled her hand back. “Then I’ll see you later, dude.”

With a wave, Heather slung her apron over her shoulder and walked away, leaving Drew standing there in front of Zoom Comics, numb to everything but the sight of her walking away. After a few moments, he finally moved, jumping and thrusting his fists into the air.

“YES!”

Around the corner and down the road, the flashing lights of police cars slowed Shermie down as he approached a bridge crossing the LA River. Police were cordoning off the bridge’s sidewalks, but allowing cars to pass.

The Pines patriarch snorted. “LA’s finest at work.”

Misao looked out the window. “What happened?”

“Probably bothering Brigid, the shtunks,” Shermie muttered.

Mabel brightened. “Miss Brigid’s still around?! I wanna go see her! She’s gonna love Waddles!”

Dipper shuddered. “Can we not?”

“I’ll introduce you to her tomorrow,” Mabel said to Misao, “She’s really nice and takes care of stray animals.”

“She also steals hair, so wear a hat,” Dipper warned.

Misao gasped and her hands shot to her long locks.

Mabel reached up and flicked Dipper’s ear. “She doesn’t steal hair from people–only from hair salons and pet stylists that dump it out.”

“Why?” Misao asked.

“Weaving material,” Mabel replied like that wasn’t strange at all.

“It’s so creepy,” Dipper insisted.

The SUV passed the police cars and their flashing lights. Dipper looked out the window, and could see there were more emergency vehicles down in the river, and a screen was set up along the banks on both sides of the river, preventing people on the bridge from being able to look down into the water itself.

“Huh…” He murmured as he looked down at the top of the screen that spanned the river.

Shermie noticed it too, before he scowled and looked ahead. “Misao.”

“Ah, yes?”

“You said you were going to make new living arrangements so you could go to Echo Creek Academy with my grandkids, right?” He asked.

“That’s my intention,” she replied.

“Well, I have no problem opening my home to you. You’re welcome to stay as long as you like, so long as your parents are okay with it.”

Mabel gasped. “Sherpa, you’re the best!”

Misao was struck by the generosity. “You’re too kind!”

“Do you think your parents will let you?” Mabel asked.

“Of course my mother will, I think I could do much better living with people who fought an all-powerful, all-seeing demon and won.”

“It’d be cheaper, too,” Dipper jokes.

“That too.” Misao looked over to Shermie. “But money’s no object, Mr. Pines. If you need me to pay rent or cover any bills my being around will cause? Just name your price, Hyuuga Heavy Industries can cover it.”

Shermie hummed. “Hyuuga Heavy Industries, hm? What a small world.”

Passing the police cordon, Shermie kept driving and left the strange scene behind, entering the quiet residential area of the suburban town.

Dipper was surprised. “Your mother works for Hyuuga Heavy Industries?”

“My mother runs Hyuuga Heavy Industries,” Misao corrected.

Dipper was struck. “The leading producer of high technology in the west. No wonder Shego was after you.”

Misao grimaced. “Ja, without a doubt.”

“Well, let her try to find you. She won’t,” Mabel said with a thumb’s up and a cheesy smile.

“And if she does? She’ll regret turning over this particular rock,” Shermie promised her. “I’ll personally show her and whatever punks she brings around how we do it in Jersey!”

Misao giggled, and continued to hug Waddles. Her last year of high school was going to be more exciting than she had even imagined. Who needed a big Hollywood family and a fancy school, when she had monster hunters, magical princesses, haunted houses, and maybe the end of the world to keep her occupied.

On that note, she realized that when she called her Mom about her new school and living arrangements, she would have to make a few other arrangements.

Like Drew said, they were going to need all the help they could get.

Back under the bridge, as the Pines and their guest continued on into the night, police and first responders at and under the bridge looked on down at the river as workers from the Coroner’s office waited on the concrete banks.

At the edge of the river itself, lit by the powerful headlights of a fire engine and several police cruisers, EMTs and Firefighters swept the shallow waters with large pool skimmers.

One such EMT caught something in the net, and hoisted it out of the water and into the intense light.

= - = 13 = - =

The long day is over, but there's still a coda to come for the day's events.
 
Home

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#14
= - = 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.
 
Foot in the Grave

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#15
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 = - =

If you wanna decipher any codes. Go here https://cryptii.com/pipes/enigma-decoder
 
As Cruel As School Children

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#16
= - = 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.
 
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