Chapter 4

        April 7, 2015.
        The blue-haired female sharpshooter was at the inhibitor room, again in her futuristic-lined outfit. Yet she remained unarmed for this visit. As she tapped the primary inhibitor's frontal column, she opened a video recording of two girls having a conversation.
        "No way!" a blue-haired girl exclaimed as she turned over a notebook in her hands.
        "I can see it. I can see how much you really care for this person," said a young girl with a mix of vibrant blonde and bright-blue hair.
        "Of course, I figured you'd say that. You'd better be careful when you go out, Yu-chan."
        "It's... Nia! Are you not aware of who I am?"
        The sharpshooter's jaw dropped. She tapped the column again, stopped the recording, and placed a hand to her chin.
        "It's so a trap," she muttered.
        She tapped the inhibitor and opened another video file.
        The screen was marked APR 6 2015 2:37 PM.
        Spy rounded the corner at an urban area with an outdoor fountain. He noticed one of several musket rifles soaring by overhead as they blasted at an angular riot shield protecting a pair of gasmasked Time Police officers-- the same type of shield that Scout took with him a few weeks ago.
        BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
        "Under fire!" called in one of the pair as he fired a volley from his submachine gun.
        As Spy moved in closer and reached into his suit, he saw who the pair of officers were fighting: Mami in her magical girl outfit, whose swift gestures pulled in rifles from every direction. Yet she was dodging the officer's gunfire herself and couldn't guide her rifles toward an attack from behind.
        The officer shooting at Mami peeked out from behind the shield just in time for a gunshot to strike him.
        Mami gasped. She turned around and saw Spy with his Ambassador revolver.
        "With my apologies," Spy declared.
        "Hey..." teased Mami.
        Spy fired a few shots at the riot shield's glass pane.
        BANG! BANG!
        But the officer behind it was in a crouch and only forced back a few steps.
        "What the hell?" Spy muttered.
        "Contact with priority 2; I have a match on APB likeness," called in the shielded officer.
        Just as Spy heard the report, he felt a breeze of cold air right next to him as frost began to form on the gasmasked man's shield.
        "Dispatch I need 10-78, officer in trouble!" called the officer just as the shield was pulled right off his arm.
        "No, no!" announced a female voice who sounded young but royal. It was Elsa, who wanted to meet with Mami to talk about the gasmasked officers. She pushed her hand outward, sending out a cold burst that froze up the gasmasked officer's suit completely.
        Elsa nodded at Mami, who nodded back in return and allowed a musket rifle to fire on the officer point-blank.
        "That should take care of you," Elsa announced.
        Neither of the two young women noticed that Spy had Engineer's camera-equipped PDA in his hand.
        The screen read APR 6 2015 4:54 PM.
        The inhibitor shifted its recordings to an impromptu team meeting at Warmfront, which was the well-known Coldfront base given a nickname by the Resurrection Movement outside the winter months.
        Engineer and Spy had some frame-grabs of the camera-PDA footage of Mami and Elsa printed out. Scout, FemScout, Madoka, Homura, and Sayaka were having a look through the printouts.
        The PDA was there as well, since the Fugitive's frustrated voice was being broadcast through it.
        "How is Mami Tomoe still being noticed by Elsa? I mean, they're running off doing things together! No one runs away and lives!"
        "Is that true?" gasped Madoka.
        Sayaka seemed to agree. "Yeah, there's another reason to be glad I wasn't born a rich girl."
        "Yeah!" conferred FemScout.
        "Team... I will not ask you to settle things with them... for now," sighed the Fugitive. "We need to focus on our current task and come up with a course of action against The Corrupted as soon as possible. And if frigging Miss Stocking is out there, we gotta deal with her, too."
        As the viewscreen went blank, the sharpshooter tried to relax her scowl at what she just watched on the inhibitor. After a pause, she sternly declared, "You should know my name."
        But just as she was about to place her palm onto the frontal column, a young woman softly called out to the sharpshooter, delightfully surprised to find her at a place like this.
        The sharpshooter turned around to see Asuna walking towards her, holding a "Missing: Lambent Light" poster with several handwritten corrections on it.
        "Don't look at me like that," urged Sinon. She glanced back at the inhibitor before she pointed to Asuna's poster and noted, "This kinda... turned into something way more epic than a plain old quest." She then gestured at the inhibitor in front of her.
        "Why? What's going on?" Asuna asked as she held out the poster toward the sharpshooter.
        "Well," Sinon replied, "I'm sure we'll find out why." She then took the poster before she tapped the inhibitor once more.
        The Fugitive's frustrated order replayed: "We need to focus on our current task and come up with a course of action against The Corrupted as soon as possible."


*   *   *

        April 17, 2015.
        Vanellope, having finally gotten a moment in the inhibitor room between her go-karting and platform jumping in other areas, was in her short form as opposed to one of the teenage appearances she unwillingly undertook over the years. She stood atop a stack of Dalokohs Bars that were next to a few medium-sized cherries in front of the primary mental inhibitor, and hummed a tune as she tapped her fingers on the frontal column.
        A radio crackle sounded on the inhibitor, followed by a distinctive ringtone.
        "Just in time," Vanellope said to herself.
        "Yeah, hello?" answered the Fugitive.
        "Hey there!" called Vanellope. "You missed me, didn't you? Admit it."
        The Fugitive could only chuckle shyly at her sudden statement.
        "We gotta make up for lost time! Come on!" urged Vanellope.
        "All right," muttered the Fugitive, "but, uh... I don't know if you heard, but something bad happened to Kyoko last month. You know, the one who's always munching on Pockys all the time."
        "Aw, man."
        "Well, she tried to fight us last month, and then someone out there blasted her into a coma."
        "Geez Louise!"
        "I could ask you to get a few snacks for Kyoko when she wakes up, but if she really did have something against us, there's no telling what she could've done."
        "Aww, lighten up. It's no big deal. I still like you."
        Just then, Sayaka walked in with the small board that had the number 11 written on it.
        "Hey..." she called.
        "Hey, how's it going?" replied Vanellope.
        Sayaka lazily stretched her arm over her head before pointing at the board she held. "I don't have a clue."
        "Oh yeah, that thing," the Fugitive chimed in.
        "I'm totally stumped," continued Sayaka as she moved closer to the inhibitor. "I thought about it so much, my brain is starting to hurt."
        "Sayaka, we're gonna have to keep fighting the Opposition so we can find out what that thing's all about. And Vanellope, I want you to help us."
        "Seriously?" asked Sayaka.
        "If we do this together, those guys don't stand a chance," reassured Vanellope.
        Pew pew POW!
        The three blasts of a time-screw lit the area up and teleported in the blonde-and-blue-haired Yutaka.
        The Fugitive gave his orders. "It's her: The Corrupted. We don't know what she'll screw up while she's still like this. Keep that Opposition Member away from the inhibitors."
        "Yup!" replied Sayaka. She turned to Vanellope and explained, "It's my duty, now that I'm an ally of justice."
        "Cool!" said Vanellope without a second thought.
        "Get ready, you two," cautioned the Fugitive. "It's tough dealing with someone like this."
        Sayaka morphed a ring from her finger into her Soul Gem, ready to transform into her magical girl form.
        But Yutaka spoke up first, and she decided to reintroduce her persona in the most polite way she could.
        "How do you do, sir? It's lovely to meet you. I'm Nia! Now then, what's your name?"
        All that could be heard through the inhibitor were uneasy panicked breaths.
        And a burst of static.
        "Uh, hello?" asked Vanellope to the inhibitor as she hit it a few times.
        There was no answer.
        Yutaka's sweet voice took on a determined tone. "Tell me," she said, pointing at the primary inhibitor, "upon receiving these orders, you harbored no doubts about them?"
        Sayaka shoved a sword attached to the Soul Gem right in front of Yutaka.
        Vanellope, who picked up one of the medium-sized cherries on the ground, lowered it near the ground.
        "Shut up! Kyoko's... gone because of girls like you!" Sayaka seethed.
        "You're lying!" exclaimed Yutaka.
        "How dare you? I'm not gonna take that kind of talk from you."
        "What did you say?"
        "We're gonna end this right now."
        "So does this mean you hate me too?!"
        The voice of another girl burst into the argument. "Damn straight."
        The whoosh of a striped sword caught Yutaka off-guard and sent her stumbling right next to the destroyed Inhibitor 2 and its smoke pillar.
        "I'm sorry, was that too unbalanced for you?" sneered Stocking, who was in her vibrant white corset-like outfit. She swung her katana once at Sayaka, who managed to block it with her Soul Gem-mounted cutlass held proper in her hand.
        Just then, Stocking locked eyes onto the vibrant candy pieces in Vanellope's black hair. "Oh yes!" she gasped in delight.
        Vanellope looked up and noticed Stocking. "What are you looking at?" she grumbled.
        Stocking stepped away from Sayaka. She began to rush toward Vanellope, who threw one of the cherries at her. The cherry's stem happened to be lit up like a fuse.
        The cherry's explosion stumbled Stocking out from her charge.
        Suddenly, Vanellope appeared behind Stocking in a shower of pixels before she thrust a pixellated punch into her bare legs.
        The impact sent Stocking to her knees.
        "Take that!" Vanellope taunted.
        Yutaka stood up straight, but another cherry-bomb explosion sent her flying through the damaged inhibitor's smoke pillar.
        "Aaaaaaaahhhh!" she screamed.
        She landed onto her bottom against the unseen dark floor that surrounded the inhibitors. But the next thing that came out of her mouth...
        ...was a very groggy moan, as if she woke up.
        Yutaka looked down at her clothes and saw that they were all pink. Her jaw dropped.
        "Whaaaaat?!" she screamed.
        Sayaka, Vanellope, and Stocking stopped their combat in time to look at Yutaka.
        "I think onée-chan's geekiness is rubbing off on me!" Yutaka yelled in her own voice before she disappeared in a time-screw.


*   *   *

        The Fugitive began his talk with Sayaka and Vanellope. "Okay, uh, let me get this straight. The Corrupted, an Opposition Member, got sent back to her normal Yutaka personality by being thrown through that smoke column? Man."
        He paused, seemingly to think.
        The two team members nodded.
        Then the unseen commander continued. "But yeah, you did good, both of you. Even managed to hold off that fragging Stocking runaway, too."
        "You gotta admit, I was pretty awesome, am I right?" bragged Vanellope.
        Sayaka nodded at the young racer.
        "You know," continued the Fugitive, "I don't get why most of the team didn't bother to show up today. We're supposed to be all in this together, you know. But as for The Corru-- Yutaka... Well, taking into effect the stuff that Scout and Spy had me look at... Sayaka, you were kinda pushing it there."
        "Guess I cut it too close, didn't I? Don't worry, I'll be okay."
        "Still... Again, it'll be tough dealing with people like this. Someone's still trying to blow our heads off, and, admittedly, Yutaka is only #5 of the seven people who want me dead. Are we dealing with #6 already?"
        That question left Sayaka and Vanellope frowning at each other.




Chapter 5 >