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There's something scary going on in my town. If Morioh is in danger, that means my parents, my sister, and everyone else important to me will have to face that danger. So even if it's scary, I gotta do something!
— Koichi Hirose

Koichi Hirose is a recurring character in the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga and its various adaptations. He is one of the many Stand users that lives in Morioh and close ally to Josuke Higashikata. Starting off insecure Koichi grew in strength and confidence throughout his adventures.

On his way to his first day of high school he encountered Jotaro Kujo and Josuke Higashikata, the forme of which informed him and Josuke of a dangerous Stand user hiding out in Morioh. While investigating a seemingly abandoned house with Josuke he was struck by a Stand creating arrow shot by Keicho Nijimura, who hope that Koichi would develop a Stand capable of killing or curing his mutated father.

While this Stand, which later came to be known as Echoes, started off weak it grew alongside its user, making Koichi a reliable ally for the other Stand users in Morioh. Koichi would aid Josuke and the other Morioh Stand users track down and fight Akira Otoishi and Yoshikage Kira as well as other evil Stand users. Eventually, he also got in a relationship with his former kidnapper Yukako Yamagishi.

After Kira's defeat, Koichi was tasked by Jotaro to investigate Haruno Shiobana, who was suspected to be DIO's son. When first arriving there he was immediately met by Haruno who had died his hair blonde and renamed himself Giorno Giovana, who tried to scam him and stole Koichi's belongings. The two briefly fought but Giorno escaped but not before declaring that Koichi was a good person for holding back and thus allowed him to live. Later the two would meet again on more friendly terms when Koichi sought to retrieve his stolen luggage from Giorno's apartment. He ended up aiding Gio in his fight against Black Sabbath and ultimately decided that he was ultimately a good person much like those from the Joestar bloodline. Ultimately Koichi went back to Japan and reported back to Jotaro.

Battle vs. Noriaki Kakyoin (by Wassboss)[]

“Who the hell are you” Koichi shouts at his opponent. He’s been keeping an eye of this strange man for days now and has finally cornered him away from crowded centre of Morioh. “What a time for Josuke and Okuyasu to go on holiday” he thinks to himself, keeping his eyes focused on his opponent.

“My name is Noriaki Kakyoin” the man says “I’m looking for Jotaro Kujo.”

“Jotaro-san? But why?”

“Let’s just say I’m here for the sake of an old acquaintance” Kakyoin says. As he does he brushes the hair off his forehead and Koichi spots the tip of a flesh bud poking out. He feels a shiver go down his spine as he remembers what Jotaro told him about the disciples of Dio once. Whether this man is good or not, that flesh bud makes him a danger that must be dealt with. “But if I can subdue him, then maybe Jotaro-san can save him”. Koichi makes his mind up in that moment and summons his Stand to him.

“Echoes Act 1” he shouts and the turtle like Stand appears above his head. It shoots forward at Kakyoin who makes no attempt to intercept as it barrels towards him. Its hands reach out for him and it only then he calls forth his Hierophant to intercept. Tendrils shoot out to grasp it but Act 1 just about manages to avoid it and plants it’s hands right on his face. A stray tendril latches onto its tail and flings it away but as he looks down he sees that the katakana サレンダーhas been written on across his face and neck. A sound echoes out over and over, increasing in volume and Kakyoin drops to his knees, hands cupped over his ears in pain.

Koichi approaches cautiously to get into range of Act 3 so he can subdue him properly but as he reaches the ten metre range he feels something brush against his leg. Catching something out of the corner of his eye he ducks out of the way but something still hits him in the shoulder and tumbles over, grimacing and the object is pushed further into his skin. When he comes to a stop he works the object out with his fingers and finds the object to be a green gem of some sort. “Is that really the best your Stand can do?” Kakyoin says calmly “Did you really think I’d give up that easily?”

“How did you-“ Koichi begins.

“Didn’t you notice the little tripwire I set up with Hierophant Green before you attacked?” Kakyoin interrupts “I’m impressed you were able to avoid my Emerald Splash so admirably.” A series of tendrils wrap around Koichi’s midsection and constrict. “But it seems your Stand is no match for my Hierophant Green.”

“Is that what you think?” Koichi says gasping for breath and for the first time Kakyoin notices the フーウシュ sprawled across his opponents green jacket. The wind seems to pick up out of nowhere and he is thrown off balance as the force against him gets stronger and stronger until he is blown back through the air. He is forced to call Hierophant back to him and it uses its coils to catch him in midair and lower him gently down to the ground. He looks back at Koichi and notices that Echoes has changed its appearance and shrunk slightly.

“It seems like I underestimated you” Kakyoin says and Hierophant Green springs forward suddenly. Act 2 uses its tail to deflect away the tendrils that head for Koichi, placing a ‘return’ katakana on each one to send it back to Hierophant Green’s main body, while simultaneously dodging any tendrils trying to catch it. “You fool, don’t you see you’ve become trapped” Kakyoin calls out and Koichi notices that all the tendrils Echoes has dodged now form a container around it. “EMERALDO SPLASH” he shouts and sends a barrage of energy. Just as they are about to hit the ground seems to burst up and block the attack before it can strike echoes. Kakyoin clenches his fist in anger and he sees ライズ written on the intercepting objects. Losing his composure he barrels towards Koichi but as he does he feels his left foot sink into the ground and he trips flat onto his face.

He snaps his head around and sees Act 2 pressed against the ground with the ‘sink’ katakana written on his leg. He recalls Hierophant Green to him to grab it but the Stand is already gone by the time it reaches him. He realises the effect on his foot has worn off and he is able to get to his feet, shooting an angry glare at his opponent. Koichi looks at him indifferently but Echoes is nowhere to be seen. “You little brat” Kakyoin snarls. “EMERALDO SPLASH” he yells but Koichi dodges out of the way of the barrage. Kakyoin continues to spam the attack but each time Koichi manages to dodge it until he ends up only a couple of feet from where Kakyoin is standing. He lashes out with his foot and hits the teenager right in the jaw, chipping a tooth and making blood spurt out. He clutches his mouth in pain and backs off as Kakyoin strides towards him, his longer legs easily allowing him to close the distance until he is only two metres away.

“Don’t try to do anything sneaky with that Stand of yours boy.” Kakyoin scans the area for Echoes but it is still nowhere to be seen. A weak laugh from Koichi quickly brings his attention back to his injured opponent.

“You idiot, don’t you realise you’ve already fallen right into my trap” Koichi says smirking. Kakyoin looks at him surprised and instantly feels an immense pressure on him, forcing him to his knees. “ACTO 3, THREE FREEZE” calls out Echoes from behind him and he cranes his neck to see Act Three stood triumphant. “S-H-I-T” it says and moves closer to Noriaki which applies more weight until he is completely pinned to the floor. “What is this Stand” Kakyoin grunts in disbelief.

“You said you underestimated me earlier” Koichi inquires “Many others have made the same mistake. Soon your body won’t be able to take the pressure of Echoes Act 3’s freeze effect and you’ll be knocked unconscious. Once that happens I’m going to get in contact with Jotaro-san and he’ll get that nasty flesh bud out of your head.”

“You seem to think this battle is over” Kakyoin says, chuckling suddenly.

“It is over”

“Well in a sense you’re right” Kakyoin continues “Over for you that is.”

“What are you talking about?” Koichi says, suddenly nervous.

“You have an inner nervousness you know” Kakyoin says ignoring him. “You don’t come across to me as a someone who’s had a Stand very long. Tell me boy, how much do you know about the link between a Stand and it’s user?”

“I know that any damage done to a Stand also affects the user as well” Koichi replies

“Ah, so you’re not as inexperienced in this as you look. Well let me share something with you. Did you know that this link only works one way?” Koichi looks at him puzzled. “This means that any injury a Stand user receives does affect the Stand itself and by extension any effect applied to a Stand user doesn’t necessarily affect the Stand either.” Koichi gasps suddenly as he feels something slither into his ear and when he looks he sees a green tendril protruding from his ear. He screams in surprise and follows the rest of the tendril to where Hierophant Green is helping Kakyoin to his feet.

“How did you-”

“You made a mistake when you used Echoes' freeze effect on me instead of Hierophant Green. It was that mistake that lead to my victory.” Koichi feels his limbs slacken as Hierophant gains full control of his body and viciously slams him into the ground, again and again until he lies motionless on the ground. Kakyoin carefully removes Hierophant Green and crouches over Koichi, listening for any signs of life. He hears a faint breathing and straightens up satisfied. “You were an strong opponent. Kakyoin leaves the unconscious body of Koichi and heads back into Morioh.

“And that how I’d imagine that encounter would pan out” Jotaro says, concluding his story. Josuke, Okuyasu and Koichi look on with intrigue as Jotaro finishes off the last piece of Tonio’s spaghetti bolognaise

“Wow” Koichi says but Okuyasu snorts unimpressed.

“He doesn’t sound all that powerful. Maybe Koichi might get beat by that guy but he’d stand no chance against The Hand.” Koichi looks at him annoyed and this invokes a rare smile from Jotaro. "I hope those other guys you travelled with had better Stands that that"

"Shut up you Idiot" Josuke says jabbing an elbow into his side.

“As a matter of fact you remind me of another one of the friends who joined me on my trip to Egypt, just like Koichi reminds me of Kakyoin. Would you like to hear how you’d fare against him?”

Winner: Noriaki Kakyoin

Expert's Opinion[]

While Koichi is certainly a resourceful and skilled Stand user he still lagged behind when it came to experience due to having received his Stand at a much later age that Kakyoin, who had more time to learn and perfect the abilities of his stand. Hierophant Green had a much further range than any of Echoes' three forms and Emerald Splash was a powerful and easily spammable move which would be hard for Koichi to counter.

To see the original battle, weapons and votes, click here.

Color Royale 2: Among Us Edition (by BeastMan14)[]

This warrior won a Battle of the Season Award
This warrior won a Battle of the Year Award

Part 1: The Game is Afoot[]

Shrouded in darkness, the Simulation Control room of the DFederal Battledome sat silent, it’s computer screens blank, it’s consoles dull and colorless while it's television screens project nothing but the reflection of the room itself. At least, until a young man in an immediately recognizable green hoodie, accompanied by a taller, older, well-dressed and gray-haired man and a short, energetic tan-skinned girl brandishing a katana, stepped inside and flicked the lights on, a small, nervous smile crossing his lips as he listened to the room roar to life.

With a confident sigh, he sat down in a familiar rolling chair and scooted along the room, turning various knobs and setting various dials while the older man sat at a main console and began entering data helpfully listed off the tablet he’d been carrying. For her part, the girl leaned back and rested her legs on the desk in front of her, calmly watching her brother and her boss work. A few more moments of quiet typing passed by before Cary Loudermilk adjusted his glasses and asked quietly, “Is there a reason why I am assisting you with this rather than your actual assistant?”

Beast didn’t look up from his work as he replied, “Yeah, sorry to pull you away from Planetary’s science stuff but I needed someone a little more tech savvy than Kerry and the Ramonas are in couples therapy at the moment.”

Cary stopped typing and tilted his head quizzically.

“Ramonas…as in plural?”

“Yeah, you can thank Appel not keeping his damn mouth shut for that one.”

Taking a moment to assess the information that his sister’s employer had two assistants that were technically the same person, Cary then shrugged and went back to work. He knew better than to question the strangeness of the city at this point. After a few more moments, he finished his final calibrations, then looked to Beast, who sat back in his chair and ran a nervous hand through his hair. A holographic map of the arena, a run-down college campus, appeared before him, and he silently dragged each of the colored figures into a specific starting point. Noticing his anxiety, Kerry smirked and asked, “Nervous?”

Beast nodded grimly.

“Not everyday you gotta make a sequel to your magnum opus. Sequelitis is always a killer. For a while there I contemplated loading up the Mojave in here and going on a peyote trip just to figure out the theme.”

“What happened to that plan?”

“I was reminded of the existence of cazadores.”

Finally, his finger dragged a bright green figure over to the starting area, then set it down gently. With his work complete, he exhaled quietly and sat back, taking a moment to admire the map before looking to Cary and asking, “Are we ready to take it live?”

Cary nodded, and Beast grinned excitedly.

“Alright, let’s do this. Send it up!”

Cary hits a small red button on his desk, and across DFederal, TV stations all tuned into one specific channel suddenly flickered out, then were replaced with a booming countdown, each number synchronized to a silhouette appearing on-screen, and Users and warriors alike, informed in advance of the combatants and scenario, all tune in, anxious and excited.

Shinji Ogawa, after a plaful nudge from Maria, takes a brief moment to look away from his paperwork, adjusts his glasses, and smiles, thinking a silent prayer of good luck for Hibiki.

Alone in his office, King Wass, wearing a shirt that read “Number One Sun Bro”, took a sip of his drink and turned his television up.

The Phantom Thieves, all crowded together and jostling each other for space on the same couch, cheer with pride as a black silhouette, taking a defiant fighting stance, appears, and Joker, quietly putting the finishing touches on a pot full of curry, smiles to himself.

Walking and discussing plans with Carol inside DSFB’s headquarters, Leo grows a third eye to briefly glance in the direction of the television as Jordi and Echo, relaxing in-between assignments, lounge in front of it. Satisfied, he retracts the eye back into the side of his head, not stopping for a moment.

The Chosen Undead, straining to hear over the crowd in Ash’s Tavern, raises an Estus Flask filled with rum and coke to the television as a distinct yellow silhouette, arms raised to the sky above, appears.

In the head office of Ice-T Puppy Incorporated, amidst a throng of conversing employees gathered under their boss's orders, Cfp, in the middle of a conversation with Skully, glances over to the TV, then quickly nudges him to get his attention, whistling and pointing to the TV.

“Hey, hey, Royale’s on!”

When the countdown hits zero, an enormous logo reading COLOR BATTLE ROYALE 2 splashed across the screen, followed by a distinct tune and a smaller, but no less dynamic AMONG US EDITION.

As the titles faded out, Beast rolled over to another console, covered with dozens of buttons, each assigned to a camera, and contemplated which to push. After a moment’s hesitation, he brought his thumb down onto a specific button, causing a camera in the cafeteria to cue up.

Watching a still sleeping Loki, he nodded confidently. Why not follow an Impostor as a starter? Always fun to root for the bad guys, after all.

Crewmates: Red Orange Yellow Light-blue Purple White Black Lime Pink Teal

Impostors: Green Blue Brown

With a startled gasp, Loki awake, clutching his daggers tightly as he quickly surveyed his new surroundings. Just a moment ago, he’d been on the throne of Asgard, all challenges to his reign either eliminated or completely unaware of his replacement of his foolish father, and now he was in a small square room with dull green walls surrounding it. He could, through the steel door blocking off the room, hear the faint murmur of conversation from outside, but for the moment, he’d stay here and try to get his bearings.

As he stood up from the bed he’d been lying on, he noticed the small slip of paper lying on it, a map of what he presumed was the area he’d been taken to attached to it, and he cautiously picked it up to give it a scan. In offensively upbeat font, it read:

“Congratulations Loki, you have been selected as one of three impostors!

While this would normally be your task sheet, instead your objective is simple: you must use your wits, skills, and powers to eliminate each crewmate without getting caught until all have been eliminated!

Good luck!”

Loki scoffed, crumpling the paper up and tossing it aside, then paced his cell, stroking his chin and contemplating the note to himself. Clearly, he’d been kidnapped and forced to participate in this death game by someone utterly foolish enough to think they could coerce a god, no less the god of mischief, into playing their foolish nonsense. Of course, he’d have to punish them accordingly for this, he would just have to figure out a way to get close enough to them to exact his vengeance.

He stopped his pacing as a devilish grin spread across his face. If he wanted to track down this game master, the way was obvious: he’d have to win. Taking a moment to collect himself (and reluctantly scoop up the crumpled instruction sheet), he stepped outside to survey these supposed crewmates. He quickly found himself amongst a crew of deeply odd characters, including an armored knight, a garishly bright blue-skinned man, and a teenage girl clad head to toe in black armor, who had quickly taken to trying to organize everyone around the table at the center of the room. It appears he had been the last one to wake up.

As they circled around the table, one figure, a bearded gentleman in black armor, chuckled and said, “Well, now that the gang’s all here,” he gestured to Loki, who meekly raised a hand in response, “I suppose we can all attempt to answer the major question: what in Andraste’s name is going on?”

Another man, clad in light brown robes, replied, “I believe we should get the name of our new arrival, seeing as how everyone else has already introduced themselves.”

There was a murmur of agreement, and all eyes were on Loki as he cleared his throat and said, “Yes, my name is-“

He paused for a brief second, recognizing that identifying yourself as the God of Trickery may be counter-productive to the task of hand, then continued, “-Low-key Lyesmith. I’m pleased to make all of your acquaintance in…whatever this is.”

Satisfied, everyone turned back to look at the bearded man, but before he could speak, a small patch at the center of the table opened up and projected a holograph of a large green B above them all.

“Greetings!” exclaimed the B, who paused as it was suddenly greeted with a flurry of activity as the table’s various inhabitants each drew weapons and glared at it. After a tense second, it let out a distorted chuckle, then continued.

“My name is Beast, and I’m here to say congratulations on being chosen for participation in the second Color Royale!”

One crewmate, a red-haired girl, crossed her arms, eying the B skeptically, then said, “Is it really participating if you kidnapped all of us?”

The B paused for a moment, then replied, “Relax, you’ll all be free to go once you complete your tasks and open the gate as outlined in your task sheets.”

The black-armored girl spoke up next, quizzically asking, “So, you’re making us do basic maintenance? Surely that’s not that difficult for a group as large as this.”

“You’d think that, Miss Niijima, but I suspect it will be more challenging when three Impostors actively seek to eliminate all of you.”

Loki felt the tension wash over the entire assembled group, who quickly gave one another wary glances. He smirked to himself, then quickly hid the expression as the B continued with a calm, “The objective is clear: complete your tasks and cross over the finish line, or find and eliminate all three Impostors, and you win. If you die, your tasks shall be randomly distributed to other crewmates upon the discovery of your corpse. Upon the discovery of a body, all deaths that occurred in between discoveries will also be announced. Should you all die before completing the objective, well, you lose, obviously.”

As he said that, the table opened up, dispensing a small black communicator in front of each crewmate. Some reacted with surprise, others suspicion, while the knight and the bearded man both took a step back and rested their hands on their weapons, glaring at the strange objects before them.

“These are your communicators. If you need help, identify an Impostor, or find a body, simply press the button on those and it will alert the crew as a whole. If you’re feeling persuasive, you can even try and call a meeting back here.”

The crew members each inspected their communicators, then reluctantly kept them.

“Well, that’s the rules, everybody, so, best of luck!”

And on that ominous final word, the B flickered away, leaving the crew to anxiously look amongst themselves in suspicious silence.

Taking off the headphones and setting them on his desk, Beast breathed a sigh of relief and gave a grateful thumbs up to Cary.

“Good idea with using the distortion. Would’ve had a lot less gravitas if they’d heard me eating chips.”

Cary sighed and responded, “Surely the chips could’ve waited until after you did your message.”

“Yeah, but I thought if I ate em quick it’d be fine.”

Cary sighed, taking a moment to rub his temples, while Beast returned to eating a bowl of Doritos he’d summoned from thin air and watching the crewmates debate.

Mace Windu looked around the table, trying to get a proper reading of the so-called “Impostors” and feeling, with some frustration, the mix of emotions and energies combining to drown out his senses. He sighed, then turned to look at Megamind, who shouted, “Trust me, as a reformed supervillain turned proud do-gooder, I happen to have an eye for villainy, and I definitely have a “vibe” for some of the people in this room being not quite trustworthy!”

Captain Cold, leaning against the wall and known to the crowd around him simply as Leonard Snart, replied, “And how do we know you’re a “former” supervillain? Scout’s honor?”

“Why would I admit to villainy at all if I were a true villain? Would it not make more sense to keep my brilliant thoughts to myself???”

“Oh good, he’s humble too.”

Megamind pointed an accusing finger at him, but was silenced by Hawke pounding his fist on the table.

“Enough of this! Bickering is going to accomplish nothing but giving me a splitting head-ache, so I say we focus just long enough so that we can all kill each other once we cross the finish line. Now, I believe we should focus primarily on solving these tasks while also keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity among us. Fair enough?”

Pupil stepped forward and replied, “If I may, Hawke, it would make more sense to hunt down and eliminate the Impostors as our top priority. It’s a more accomplishable task than completing all of our various jobs, and we should strike while we still have numbers.”

Stroking his chin, Mace nodded in agreement, and added, “Personally, I will putting my energy into a solo investigation for the time being, though we should travel in numbers once we can determine who is trustworthy.”

There were murmured agreements, and Hawke reluctantly conceded.

“Alright, you two can play detective, then. Now, does anyone know how to turn a computer on? Or, what a “computer” is, exactly?”

On that final note, the crew broke apart, anxiously heading in separate directions, while Loki hung back, taking stock of the crowd. Several had proven to be fairly headstrong, with “Hawke” in particular proving himself as a natural leader. They would prove troublesome, but for now, he needed to thin the herd, and as he watched some do the immediate close-by tasks, his eyes landed on the perfect target.

Koichi Hirose groaned in frustration as the machine rejected his card for the fourth time in a row. Gritting his teeth, he whined, “C’mon, you took everyone’s else’s cards, so why not mine?”

As he prepared to try again, a shadow fell over him, and he whipped around to see “Low-Key” standing behind him with a disarming smile. Low-Key offered his hand and asked, quietly, “May I try?”

Anxiously, Koichi handed the card over, then grinned as Low-Key easily slid it through the reader with a gentle beep, then did the same with his own card. He handed it back to Koichi, who tucked it into his uniform pocket with a grateful smile, then explained, “Sometimes things require a gentler touch.”

“Gee, thanks Mr. Lyesmith!”

Low-Key nodded gracefully, then paused, a mildly confused expression on his face before asking, “It occurs to me I never caught your name.”

“Oh, I’m Koichi Hirose!”

“A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Koichi.”

Apparently satisfied, Low-Key turned to walk away, then paused, seemingly overtaken by an idea, then pivoted back to Koichi and asked, “Say, how about you and I team up for the moment? I think I could use a nice young man such as yourself watching my back.”

Koichi hesitated, thinking the offer over as he noticed the other crewmates already leaving the room. He should know by this point not to trust strangers, but Mr. Lyesmith seemed friendly enough. He supposed it wouldn’t hurt, and he did have Echoes to protect him if things went bad. He nodded, and Low-Key grinned and exclaimed, “Excellent, I suspect you and I shall make an unstoppable duo! Now, if you’d like to accompany me while I finish my tasks in the sewers, I’d be quite grateful.”

“Hey, I have stuff to do in the sewers, too.”

“Well, what a happy accident.”

A deal struck, Loki led Koichi towards the sewer entrance, doing his best not to show his absolute glee at effortlessly guiding the idiot into his trap.

Re-reading her task list, Makoto paused on the stairwell, contemplating the most efficient order with which to complete her tasks. She’d gotten lucky, as only one of them required leaving the building, but the science lab felt like it’d be time-consuming and potentially very open to an ambush. Frankly, it made her wish she had Oracle watching her back, or the Thieves as a whole, but for now she was on her own. She froze as she heard the door to the stair well open, only to see the red-haired girl from earlier, who waved warmly, a gesture Makoto returned after a moment’s pause.

“Makoto, right? I’m Gwen.”

“Can I help you, Gwen?”

Gwen took another step forward, and Makoto tensed slightly, only to loosen up as she saw two other girls, both short but one a brunette while the other had black hair and seemed to stare into the distance, standing behind her. Gwen gestured to the girls and explained, “That’s Hibiki and Toph, we’ve all decided to stick together and try and tackle this as a team. Girls gotta stick together, and all that?”

Toph beamed and pointed a thumb at herself, adding, “Trust me, nobody is gonna get a drop on you so long as you guys got me around. I can pick up an elephant-rat from a mile away!”

Makoto tilted her head quizzically.


“Do you not have those wherever you guys are from?”

Perking up at the mention of animals, Hibiki excitedly replied, “We just have regular rats, but an elephant rat sounds adorable! I should try and find one for Miku so I can give her a "I'm sorry for vanishing" present!”

Smiling, Gwen turned back to Makoto expectantly.

“So, whaddya say? Wanna join up?”

Makoto paused, contemplating the offer. Safety in numbers was the logical decision, and Joker did always urge her to see the best in people, in spite of everything, so she supposed she could give it a chance. She offered a hand to Gwen, who happily shook it, then replied, “Great, welcome to the gang. Now, I was thinking we could head to the rooftop and work our way down?”

“That works for me.”

With that, the group of four worked their way up the stairs, where Lila Pitts quietly let the door shut behind her. So, the crew were already forming a buddy system. It would certainly make killing them much more challenging, but she suspected she could manage. She’d just have to find a way to break up this little fellowship first.

The crewmates all dispersed in various directions, leaving Megamind to contemplate his tasks, all of which he suspected he’d accomplish quite easily. With the exception of gathering paperwork, they were largely electronic-based tasks, a fitting set of objectives for a technological genius such as himself. That left the more crucial task of uncovering these so-called “Impostors”. He had his suspicions already, namely the rude gentlemen named “Snart”, but it would be better to work within the team to maintain safety in numbers. Roxanne had heavily emphasized how important socialization was to success, so to this end, he would socialize.

The new question was: who seemed like an effective ally? A cursory scan of the crewmates remaining left one clear choice. With a confident smile, Megamind sidled up to Mace, who was sitting on the table, reading his tasks to himself, and offered a hand, which the Jedi simply glanced at warily.

Megamind ignored the glance and said, “I noticed you had the right idea of investigating for these Impostors. Well, as a certified genius with the degrees to prove it, I suspect your investigation will go a lot smoother with me by your side.”

Mace sighed and stood up from the table, actively taking a step away from Megamind before replying, “I believe my investigations will go just fine on their own. I would advise you keep your distance.”

Hoping to prevent further conversation, Mace curtly turned on his heel and walked off, leaving Megamind to slowly, awkwardly lower his hand back to his side. Well, if he had no interest in working together, then perhaps it was best that he did investigate things on his own. He didn’t need any help, he was Megamind! Granted, he could’ve used Minion by his side, but he was perfectly capable of handling himself.

As he contemplated his next step, he saw, from the corner of his eye, the boy, Koichi, accompanied by the so-called “Low-Key”. Something about the name gave him a truly uneasy feeling, so the choice was clear: he’d watch from a distance and determine whether or not the late arrival was trustworthy. Pretending to find the contents of a trash can interesting, he waited until the duo disappeared into the kitchen, then followed after them.

Unbeknownst to him, he had a watcher of his own, and Leonard Snart gave a curious smirk as he watched the so-called “hero” creep away.

Koichi crinkled his nose as he gingerly stepped over a puddle in the middle of the walkway within the sewers. The Speedwagon Foundation had sent him to some truly bizarre places, but he’d been lucky enough to avoid anything truly gross until now. Glancing behind him to see Mr. Lyesmith inspecting the sewers around him, he smiled and asked, “So, uh, what kind of stuff did you do back where you’re from? I bet it was pretty crazy, judging by your armor.”

Low-Key glanced down to his armor and shrugged.

“Oh, this? I was an…actor, back in my world. I was quite beloved by crowds from all over. My mother told me once I was the crown jewel of my family. I had the misfortune of being taken in the midst of filming my latest medieval epic.”

Koichi’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Wow, a real-life movie star? I’ve met a pretty famous mangaka before, but you sound even more popular than Rohan-sensei!”

Loki chuckled, enjoying the praise.

“Oh, no need to flatter me, it’s just a day’s work for me.”

After a few moments of walking, Koichi squinted as he recognized the vague outline of some form of machinery. He grinned and pointed, calling out, “Look, Mr. Lyesmith, I think that’s the filter system we need!”

As he turned back, he barely had time to cry out as a dagger, thrown with superhuman force, pierced his eye and embedded itself in his skull. Blood trickling down his cheek, he fell to the floor, twitching for a few moments before going still. Lime

Whistling to himself, Loki stooped down and firmly pulled the blade from the boy’s skull, offering a smirk and insincere, “Apologies,” before standing up and kicking the corpse into the stream of sewage. He watched it float away, smiling contentedly. The only real challenge there had been luring the boy far enough away from the rest of the group that they’d never find the body.

Frankly, he hoped they were all that easy.

His celebration was short-lived as he heard the heavy, fast clomping of boots behind him, and he turned just in time for Megamind to fire the De-gun directly into his chest, reducing the God of Trickery into a small, easily portable cube, his knife clattering harmlessly to the floor. Picking the cube up, Megamind beamed to himself, then tucked it into his suit pocket. He gave brief, sad glance towards Koichi’s corpse, quietly cursing himself for not improving the range on the De-gun when he had the chance, but now he could avenge the boy by bringing his killer in for a proper trial amongst the others.

Perhaps now they’d trust him.

He’d never get the chance to find out, as he felt a piercing sensation tear through his chest, then glanced down to see a massive icicle protruding from it. He placed a shaky hand upon it, then collapsed, the cube falling from his hand. Light-blue

Nudging his corpse to make sure he was dead, Snart rested the cold gun on his shoulder, then gave a curious glance over to the glowing cube by his kill’s hand. He crouched down to inspect it, impressed that a weapon was able to reduce someone to something that compact, then reached over and picked up the De-gun. After all, it’s not like Megamind needed it. As he went to tuck it into his coat pocket, he paused as he saw it set to a mode deemed “Dehydrate”, then looked over to the cube again. With a knowing smirk, he picked up the cube and tossed it into the sewer water.

Finding himself submerged in positively rank water, a spluttering Loki surfaced, thrashing and fumbling for a grip on the walkway, only to freeze as he found himself looking down the barrel of the cold gun. He groaned as he glanced over it to see Snart standing over him, his face betraying no emotion.

“Did you seriously uncube me just to kill me?”

Snart gestured for him to climb out of the water, which the Asgardian gladly did, and took a step back as the waterlogged Loki staggered to his knees, then replied, “Figured I’d size you up, see if I could trust a fellow Impostor to watch my back without putting a knife in it.”

Loki nodded, impressed.

“And how do you figure I’m an Impostor, exactly?”

“Well, besides the comically fake name, Loki, I watched you put a knife through the kid’s skull. Hard to find a good spin on that.”

Loki sighed.

“Well, I thought it was a clever name.”

“It would be if it weren’t for the prison library having plenty of Gaiman to pass the time. Now, I have a suggestion, if you’d be kind enough to hear it out.”

Pointing to the gun, Loki replied, “I don’t have much choice on the matter, do I?”

Snart smiled, then explained, “Not really. Now, what I’m proposing is we put our heads together on this one. We team up, pick off the crew, walk off into the sunset as champions of this little “royale”. If not, I’ll just leave you down here as a nice little icicle. Sound like fair terms?”

Loki smirked. This fool genuinely believed that an ice gun could stop a Jotunheim? He almost admired the comical overconfidence, but he did, reluctantly, concede that he had a point that teamwork would make it easier to wipe out the crew quickly. Plus, if that gun truly was his only edge, he’d be able to dispose of him easily enough. He nodded, forcing a smile, then answered, “I’d say that’s quite a deal.”

Staring him down, Snart stood, deathly silent, for several seconds, then finally nodded, pointed the gun away from Loki, and offered him a hand. Loki took it, letting the thief pull him to his feet, then grimaced as he ran a hand through his now grimy hair.

“Two questions, if I may: one, did you really have to throw me into that? Two, how do we explain the two dead crewmates left down here?”

Snart smirked, then said, “In that order, I didn’t feel like lugging you around in my pocket, and it all seems like self-defense to me.”

Loki stroked his chin, impressed.

“Yes, that does make sense. Not the pocket part, but I think he-” he nodded towards Megamind’s corpse, “-will make a fairly easy target to frame. He followed poor Koichi and I down here-“

“-turned you into a cube-”

“-stole my knife, used it to kill Koichi when he came to my aid, and would’ve pinned the whole thing on me-“

“-had I not been there to oh so heroically put him down and uncube you. Seems simple enough.”

Enjoying how easily the lie had come together, Loki smiled, walking side by side with Snart as they headed back to the ladder.

“You know, I think this partnership just might work.”

“So, why are we trudging all the way to the rooftop again?” Toph grumbled as the group turned the corner to the final flight of stairs. Leading the way, Gwen rolled her eyes and replied, “Because, like I said earlier, Hibiki has to clear off solar panel debris and I have to re-align satellites, so we’ll just start from there. Make sense?”

Toph reluctantly nodded, wishing she’d just gone with Pupil and Mace so she could clobber these Impostors, and continued to hang back and keep an ear out. Walking in front of her, Hibiki smiled warmly, “I sure am glad I got to trash pick-up instead of computer stuff. That kind of thing was always more Ogawa-san’s kind of work. He tried to show me how once, but it just gave me a headache.”

Gwen looked over her shoulder and replied, “Well, if you have to do any “computer stuff”, just ask me or Makoto.”

“You would? Great! And can you help Toph too, right?”

Toph laughed.

“Well, they’ll have to, since I can’t, y’know,” she waved her hand in front of her eyes, causing Hibiki to frown and hang her head shamefully.

“Oh, right. I’m so sorry, Toph, I didn’t mean to-“

Toph cut off her apology with a hearty slap on the back, nearly sending the girl tumbling over, and proclaimed, “Nah, don’t worry about it. Frankly, the stuff I can do is cooler than using my lame old eyes any day.”

Listening to the group banter amongst themselves, Makoto couldn’t help but let a small smile out. Turns out all she needed was to be working in a group again to lift her spirits. When she got out of here, she and the Thieves would have to try and track them all down so she could introduce them. Assuming they all survived, anyway. The smile vanished, and she forced the negative thought from her head as she saw the door to the roof approaching. Just as she began to reach for the doorknob, Toph froze and hissed, “Stop.”

The group froze with her, and Makoto cautiously reached for Judge of Hell and asked, “What is it?”

Tilting her head slightly, Toph answered, “Footsteps on the roof. Sounds like one person, and they just got done…dragging something?”

They all exchanged uncertain glances until Toph proclaimed, “Screw it, we can take ‘em,” then pushed past the others. Before Gwen or Makoto could stop her, she kicked the door open, then strolled out on the roof. The others followed close behind, Makoto drawing her gun, Gwen generating two energy spheres, and Hibiki preparing to activate Gungnir. The initial excitement faded away as they realized the source of the sound was the armored knight from before, who made no response to their entry and simply sighed as he stared upwards at the sun.

Gwen and Makoto both exchanged confused expressions, then relaxed slightly. Hibiki waved to the knight and called out, “Excuse me, mister, but did you make all those noises?”

The knight perked up and turned to look at the new arrivals.

“Ah! I take it you must be fellow crewmates come to do your tasks. My apologies, I was sent up to realign the panels, and I grew distracted by the sun, shining above me in it’s glorious light, so I stopped to ponder it for a few moments. I am Solaire of Astora, pleased to meet you.”

“Y-you were able to work the computer? How?” Makoto stammered, to which Solaire sheepishly rubbed the back of his helmet and replied, “Yes, er, I assume the “computer” is the strange mechanical beast that guarded the panels. It made a strange chant when I opened it, so I slew the mimic before it could attack anyone else.”

Gwen glanced over to the computer, now sliced cleanly in half, and pinched the bridge of her nose.

“So, how exactly did you move the panels without the computer?”

“Well, by hand, of course. I must admit, it was quite challenging, but with my strength, I simply turned them to face the sun. After all, I assume they must draw strength from it, like I do. Well, not literally, in my case.”

Gwen looked to see Hibiki diligently cleaning trash off of the panels while Toph sat back, taking the opportunity to relax, and said, somewhat uncertainly, “Well, in that case, thanks, I guess? I’m going to go realign the satellite. Keep an eye out, Makoto.”

Makoto nodded, turning back to Solaire to see him staring at the sun. She contemplated warning him about the dangers of eye strain, but he seemed content for the moment.

“Why are you so fascinated in the sun?”

Solaire, not looking away, sighed again, his shoulders slumping, and he replied, “Before I came here, I was on a quest to uncover my very own sun. I simply feel soothed by its presence, it’s…gross incandescence. It’s like a watchful eye.”

“And what happened with your quest?”

Solaire hung his head, then explained, “I could not find my sun. I searched high and low, from the heights of Anor Londo to the depths of Lost Izalith, but time and again it failed to appear to me. It left me bitter, my purpose unfulfilled, and I simply knew not where to go. I began to feel as though I had wasted my life for a fool’s errand.”

Makoto paused, trying to process Solaire’s story. He realized he couldn’t physically be near a sun without immediately dying, correct? It made her think of the time she and Joker had agreed to tutor Ryuji, an experience that could best be defined as “aggravating”.

As the satellite, given the proper coordinates, clicked into place, causing her computer screen to flash a green checkmark, Gwen looked towards Solaire and asked, “Did you ever think your sun might be metaphorical? Y’know, like maybe you’re searching for something else in life?”

This gave Solaire pause, and he thoughtfully said, “Something…else? Like what? My life is simple enough to satisfy. I aid others and I seek out the sun.”

Makoto, also thinking about Gwen’s point, responded, “Yes, well, maybe helping others is your sun? If you can spend your life helping people, then it’s not a waste, right?”

Peeking her head around the considerable pile of trash she’d accumulated, Hibiki chimed in with an excited, “Yeah! I never intended to end up with the power of the Symphogear, but now I use it to help people! That’s what good people do, isn’t it?”

Toph, now lying down with her eyes closed, simply nodded, not feeling the particular desire to chime in, while Solaire looked down, letting the others advice process. He thought of his friend, the warrior who he had fought alongside so many times, who he had aided on their quest and been aided in return, and he thought of the teachings of the Warriors of Sunlight. After a long silence, he spoke, quietly at first, but then more confidently.

“Yes, I…I suppose I’d never considered it. My own sun…a greater purpose, it was with me all along. I…thank you, I’d never considered that. I shall take a little while longer to ponder it, then I’ll set out to complete my tasks. I will not forget the lesson you have taught me today.”

He turned back to face the sun, his posture more confident now, and Makoto walked away to help Hibiki dispose of the last of the trash. With their tasks complete, the assembled group prepared to leave, with Gwen asking, “You want to stick with us, Solaire? We’re working together so we can all get out of here okay.”

The knight chuckled and shook his head, “Perhaps, but I’ll stay here for the moment, to gaze at the sun for a few more moments. Though, miss Gwenevere, if I may speak with you for another moment?”

Gwen glanced back to the rest of the group, then said, “You guys wait for me by the stairs, I’ll be with you in a sec.”

Makoto nodded and led the others down the stairs, and Gwen took a step closer to Solaire, who reached into his armor and pulled out a golden medal with the symbol of the sun emblazoned on it. He offered it to her with a sincere, “A token of my thanks, for imparting such sage wisdom unto me,” and she, after hesitating, took it with an awkward, “Oh, uh, thanks. It really wasn’t that big of a-“

“No, it was quite helpful to me. I suspect your friends and I could do a lot to aid each other in this quest of ours. That is why I offer you not just the medallion, but my summon symbol as well. Should you or any of your allies ever need my aid, simply find it by its brilliant aura and I will be there in a moment’s notice!”

Gwen tucked the coin into her pocket, unsure of how to respond to this, before simply saying, “Thanks, Solaire. I guess I’ll keep an eye out and see you around?”

Solaire laughed merrily and replied, “Indeed,” before turning back to the sun. Gwen, confident that she could actually leave now, did so, and Lila, who had been hiding behind the bulkhead, finally exhaled. She’d hoped to take out the knight before the little girl gang had found it’s way to the roof, but the damned blind girl came charging in. Fortunately, the idiot turning the panels by hand had made enough noise for her own footsteps to be muffled, but she’d gone lucky. She waited a few more moments to make sure the group was clear, then slipped out from behind the bulkhead to see Solaire still staring ahead.

All of her kills weren’t going to be this easy, were they?

She strode forward, then lunged and landed a firm drop kick to Solaire’s back. The weight of his armor pushed him forward, and he wasn’t able to make a single sound before he tumbled off the roof, arms flailing. Rolling to her feet, then peeking over the roof, Lila smirked as she watched the knight splatter against the ground, then turned to head back inside. Yellow She’d known he’d be too tough to brawl with head-on, so an ambush was a safer bet.

Plus, since Gwen was the last one to see him alive, it could be a useful bit of questioning for later.

Staring at the science lab computer, Hawke let out a frustrated groan as he reached out and tapped the screen, trying to get the icon labelled “Sampletesting.exe” to respond to him. When it did not, he glanced down to the “keyboard” and the metallic mouse attached to it and stroked his beard in contemplation. Perhaps he needed to use them somehow?

“Of all the damned tasks, I get the one with this contraption.”

His attempting to work out a computer was interrupted by a blur of motion out of the corner of his eye, and he turned to see that it came from the window. Tightening his grip on his staff, he cautiously crept to the window, then glanced out, eyes widening with surprise as he saw the gruesome sight of the remains of Solaire splattered against the ground.

Fumbling with his communicator, he finally manages to hit the button and call out, “Yes, hello. If this is on, and Andraste knows if it actually is, I believe we may need to call everyone back for a meeting.”

Part 2: Who Broke It?[]

Crewmates: Red Orange Purple White Black Pink Teal

Impostors: Green Blue Brown


Hawke’s terse, but jovial, voice broke the silence as the crewmates, gathered back together, all glanced at one another mistrustfully.

“Anyone want to make this easy for all of us and confess? You know, just throw your hands up and call it a day? That’s what I’d do, at this point.”

No one seemed to respond to his joke, and his shoulders drooped slightly as he sighed.

“Fine. Alright, I’ll go first: I didn’t kill Solaire because I watched him fall, and well…hit the ground. Now, did anyone by any chance see anything suspicious from wherever Solaire fell from?”

Contemplatively scanning the room, Mace added, “On top of this, I should ask as to the whereabouts of Megamind and Koichi. They were the only ones who didn’t respond to Hawke’s signal, and I believe Low-Key was the last one seen with the boy. Care to explain?”

As all eyes focused on him, Loki hung his head shamefully and mumbled, voice deep with regret, “I couldn’t save the boy. Megamind, he…he ambushed us in the sewers. Before I could react, he knocked me out, shoved me into the water, and then used my own knife to kill Koichi. If it had not been for Snart here-”

He gestured towards Snart, who was quietly glad his goggles enabled him to hide his eyes rolling at his partner’s theatrics, “I fear he would’ve pinned the killing upon me.”

Mace, skeptical, looked to Snart, who stared back calmly, stoic expression hiding all emotion.

“And you can attest to this?”

“Saw it clear as day. Damn cold gun’s range meant I couldn’t tag the bastard ‘til I was practically on top of him. Best I could do was save this one from drowning in filth. Not much I can do about the smell though.”

Loki, still feeling the squelch of water in his boots, subtly glared at Snart, who ignored him as Mace, seemingly content, turned back to the rest of the group. Tapping her foot compulsively, Makoto, hesitantly, then a bit more confidently, asked, “How did Megamind manage to ambush you two? He wasn’t exactly quiet in his presentation style.”

Before Loki could reply, Snart quipped, “I think we’re starting to learn that people’s appearances are very deceiving.”

Makoto attempted to press the issue, but was cut off by Lila raising her hand and saying, “Yes, hi, excuse me. Hate to be rude but I feel we’re distracting from the point of who exactly tossed Solaire off the roof? That feels worth circling back to.”

Makoto’s group looked amongst themselves sheepishly before Gwen admitted, “Well, we did, but he was alive when we talked to him. He was right behind us, he even said he’d follow right after I talked to him.”

Lila raised an intrigued eyebrow at this response, and Gwen, noticing the gesture, narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

“You got something to say?”

Lila shrugged and explained, “Oh, not really, I’m just saying it’s a little interesting that you were the last one to talk to him before he swan-dived off the roof.”

Toph practically snarled, balling her fists as she took a few steps towards the older woman.

“Gwen didn’t do it, she was with us!”

“Oh, so you saw her talk with him?”

“Well, no, she was alone, but, but I would’ve heard her kick him off! So, back off before I make you back off.”

Seemingly bemused, Lila stepped towards Toph, staring down at her with a bemused smirk, and replied, “Try me.”

As the group devolved into bickering, Hawke sighed, then repeatedly tapped his staff against the floor, catching everyone’s attention. They settled down slightly, and he firmly instructed, “Enough fighting. Now, unless anyone else wants to point any fingers, I would advise we try and stick together. It’s becoming clear that the Impostors are attempting to pick us off when we’re isolated, so we need to-“

“-Escalate our efforts to hunt them down first,” exclaimed Mace, cutting off Hawke, who grumbled a prayer to the Maker under his breath as the Jedi took another step towards Gwen’s group, who all glanced at him curiously. He pointed to Hibiki, who seemed taken aback as Gwen and Makoto reflexively stepped in front of her, then continued speaking.

“The energies of the assembled crew had been overwhelming at first, but now that we’ve lost three of our number, I can finally sense the overwhelming darkness coming off of her. While I do not believe that you are the one who slew Solaire, I fully suspect you’re hiding something from us.”

Loki and Cold exchanged curious glances, but stayed silent, while Hibiki looked at Mace as though he had slapped her. Could he sense Gungnir’s energy just by looking at her? Surely, he wasn’t that powerful, was he?

“For the good of this crew, I fully believe she should be isolated until it is safely determine that-“

He scowled as Gwen, eyes glowing pink, raised a hand towards him, energy crackling from her fingertips, while Makoto and Toph both took defensive stances on either side of her.

“If you want Hibiki, you’ll have to deal with us. Trust me, you’re after the wrong girl.”

He fully believed that he’d be able to handle this group if it came to conflict, but that left the issue of the rest of the crew, and whether they would back him or the girls in this scenario. Before he could contemplate further, Pupil, surprising everyone, stepped in his way and put a firm hand on his chest, stopping him in his tracks. He glared at her, and she responded by glaring right back, resting her hand on her jutte.

“Giving into paranoia and hunches will do nothing but aid the criminals we’re hunting. If the girl’s friends say she is innocent, then I believe they are correct.”

Changing her posture and lowering her voice, she then leaned in closer and added, “And I believe that there are others who would benefit from this in-fighting.”

Her eye, quickly and subtly, flitted towards Loki and Snart, then back to Mace, who nodded subtly, and took a step back. The tension faded slightly from the room, and he replied, “Very well. I will keep my distance for now, but make no mistake, my suspicions have not faded.”

As Mace returned to his spot, Hawke gave a sigh of relief.

“Well, good, now that there’s not going to be a brawl in cafeteria, let’s say we get back to our tasks. I would advise sticking together, but it seems that we’re all already doing that or we’re just not going to listen to my advice. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finally figure out that blasted “computer”.”

As he headed back towards the stairs, the rest of the crew similarly broke apart, going in different directions to their various tasks. Watching as Snart and Loki also headed towards the exit, idly chatting, Pupil waited a few moments, then followed after them, while Mace gave one last wary glance towards Hibiki’s group before heading back towards the sewers. The girl’s quiet suspicion of the duo had merit, but he wanted to investigate further before he made a move.

The quartet of girls walked through the kitchen, hoping to finish a quick task there when Hibiki paused, biting her lip anxiously. Sensing some anxiety from her ally, Gwen stopped and turned, a worried expression on her face.

“You okay, Hibiki? Don’t let that guy get to you. We know you’d never hurt any of us.”

Hibiki smiled graciously and shakily replied, “I…thank you. We’ve all known each other for only a little while, and I already feel like I could trust all of you with anything. You all stood by me, and…and you never had to. I just want you all to know that I’ll never forget that.”

Rubbing the back of her head, Toph grinned, shrugging and happily explaining, “Well, duh. We’re a team. Just cuz some bald jerk said he’s got a “bad aura” off of ya doesn’t mean we’re gonna believe him over you. I don’t even think you could hurt a fly if it came down to it.”

Makoto rested a reassuring hand on Hibiki’s shoulder, adding, “We have to stick together, or we’re never going to win this.”

Nodding happily, Hibiki pulled Makoto into an unexpected hug, and the older girl awkwardly stood there for a moment before patting her teammate reassuringly on the head and eventually reciprocating the hug. Both Gwen and Toph chuckled, watching quietly, before the two broke apart and Makoto, stammering, said, “Yes, well, let us return to our tasks. There is the issue of separation that I think we need to address. I understand Gwen and Hibiki still have tasks in the building, while Toph and I have things to be done outside.”

“We could definitely cover more ground if we split up,” Gwen replied, stopping to play with her hair while she contemplated a course of action.

“-But that does run the risk of running into an Impostor. Maybe we stick together and-”

Toph laughed boisterously.

“C’mon, you really think an Impostor is gonna be able to take us on? Let’s just go in groups of two, and we’ll meet up back by the entrance. Quicker we get through this, quicker we can win this whole thing.”

Makoto and Gwen both nodded at their headstrong ally’s argument, and Gwen replied, “Alright, well, in that case, once we’re done here, Hibiki and I will wrap things up in the dormitory, while Makoto and Toph can go do their various tasks around the campus. Like Toph said, we can just meet back by the entrance.

With that, the quartet went back to work, Toph with a notably satisfied and proud pep in her step.

As the others went their separate ways, Lila took a moment to wait, pretending to read her instructions to herself while she internally celebrated walking away from killing the knight entirely unaccused. Frankly, given that he’d seemingly dedicated himself to staring head-on into the sun, a quick trip off the roof was likely a mercy killing. She tucked the paper, neatly folded, back into her pocket, then also made a move for the stairwell. She’d spent much of the meeting sizing up her remaining targets, and for the moment, avoiding targeting any alliances seemed like a safe bet on her part. The little girl gang seemed impenetrable at the moment, but she did notice the hint of indecision when she brought Gwen’s time on the roof, suggesting she’d something to capitalize on later, while the duo of Snart and Loki struck her as worth investigating, seeing as how they walked away from a fight that Megamind, the supposed Impostor, and Koichi did not.

That left Pupil, Mace, and Hawke, and she certainly noticed the latter’s attempt to play team leader. Admittedly unsuccessfully, but still something that could pose an issue if she was going to push this ragtag group into eating each other alive. So, the target was clear to her: eliminate Hawke, then let the dominos fall. Hopefully, the other Impostors were putting in work into thinning the herd as well.

The stairwell door swung shut, then clicked shut, and after a few moments of silence, a quiet sigh of relief echoed through the room, followed by a green shimmer dispelling itself, with Loki and Snart seemingly reappearing out of thin air.

“Goodness, I thought she’d never leave.”

Snart gave an impressed nod.

“Neat party trick.”

“Yes, well, you don’t become the god of trickery without learning a basic illusion spell or two. Or two dozen, for that matter. Now, let’s focus on our issue at hand: I say we eliminate Mace and Pupil before they create any more trouble for us.”

Snart paced the room, seemingly weighing options in his head, then asked, “Any reason you want those two down first?”

“Well, the way I see it, those two are clearly law enforcement of some kind back on whatever worlds they derived from. I’ve seen it a thousand times. Stoic, constantly investigating, convinced they know all the answer when they’re usually the last to arrive on the scene. Windu certainly enjoyed pointing fingers, so let’s kill him before he ends pointing one at us. Plus, with him dead, it would certainly look mighty suspicious of dear Hibiki, the girl he was accusing, now wouldn’t it?”

Snart smirked, resting his gun on the table and having a seat as he listened to Loki’s monologue. The Asgardian was a bit of a blowhard, but he certainly had an eye for schemes.

“Certainly not a bad plan of attack. And what about Pupil? You just feel like getting an extra kill in there?”

Loki scoffed.

“Of course not. If we kill her, that removes the only two people more interested in finding us than completing tasks. Once they’re gone, we pin the blame on the girls, then get Hawke and Lila on side to wipe them out. Either the third Impostor helps us win, or we kill another Impostor by accident. Win-win.”

Snart hesitated, contemplating the identity of the third Impostor. He was pretty confident that it was Lila, who tended to hang back and speak to cause trouble, while the others were either too naïve or too paranoid to be it, but he had bigger fish to fry.

“Alright, this plan works for me. So, how do you propose we eliminate the cops? Divide and conquer?”

Loki beamed confidently.

“Exactly, Mace has already bumbled his way into the sewers, so all we’ll need to do is lure the girl somewhere quiet and away from this place. I’ve got just the location in mind, so just wait there, and she’ll come right to you.”

Sitting up, Snart raised an eyebrow, skeptically sizing up the skinny, still covered in sewage Asgardian and asking, “You wanna take Mace by yourself? Little overconfident, don’t you think?”

“Oh, please. I’ve had a few run-ins with do-gooders like him before, I can handle myself just fine.”

“Did you win these run-ins?”

“That’s none of your business, frankly.”

Exiting the radio station, Pupil scratched her head, confused. She’d followed the duo of Snart and Low-key all the way there, but they’d vanished once she’d gotten inside. They must’ve snuck through some form of back exit, but a quick investigation didn’t show any obvious places. There was no way they had managed to slip away that easy. She was an Executioners, and Executioners didn’t simply lose a tail. It was moments like this where she truly missed Master, with all his stoic wisdom. He would’ve known exactly how to track them down, and bring everyone together to bring these Impostors to justice. At this point, she would’ve even settled for Junior, who was at the very least someone she could trust to watch her back.

As she was contemplating her next move, she was interrupted from her thoughts by her communicator buzzing.

“Pupil, can you hear me? This is Mace. I repeat, this is Mace Windu attempting to get into contact wit-“

Fumbling with her communicator, she pressed it and replied, “Yes, Mace, I’m here.”

“Excellent. Firstly, I would like to apologize for my behavior during the meeting. It was…unbecoming of both myself and the Order I represent. In the interest of winning this game, I believe we should work together further. What do you say?”

Pupil hesitated, finger on the button of her communicator, then answered, “Yes, I think that would be our best move.”

“Alright, then in that case, meet me in the greenhouse. I’d like to discuss my findings with you away from any possible spies.”

“I’ll meet you there.”

With that, she clipped her communicator onto her collar, then began walking towards the greenhouse, which lay on top of a hill near the school. She had her suspicions of Windu, but she trusted that she’d be able to handle him if worst came to worst.

With the confirmation, Loki nodded, humming to himself with pride, as he stood up from the table and walked towards the sewer entrance in the kitchen.

“It really is too easy sometimes.”

Hawke threw his hands up in celebration as the computer chimed with an affirmative message informing him that he had successfully managed to collect and send all the lab samples. Had it taken him a painfully long time? Yes, but now he could move on to other much more doable tasks that didn’t have to involve working with these blasted contraptions. He stood up from the desk, stretching as he did so, then grabbed his staff, his hand tensing on it as he heard the door to the research area creak shut behind him.

Gently lifting the staff, he walked through the various cubicles, hearing footsteps drawing closer, then drew his knife and quickly turned a corner to put it to the throat of Lila, who froze, eyes wide with fear.

“Oh, it’s you. Erm, my apologies. You can never be too careful, you know.”

Sheepishly, Hawke put the knife away as Lila breathed a sigh of relief, then hit him in the shoulder.

“Damn near slit my throat, you lunatic! How about next time you check the corner?”

“Well, excuse me if I’m a little on edge, what with having watched a man plummet to his doom in front of me and all.”

Hiding her pride in the kill, Lila nodded, taking a step back and calming herself slightly. The knife had been a surprise, to be sure, but she couldn’t agitate him when her entire plan was stabbing him in the back. She would just have to turn on the charm just a tad.

“That’s fair, I suppose. Apologies for not announcing my presence. Now, if you’ll excuse me, would you mind showing me how to log onto the computer? I figure you’re an expert by now.”

Hawke gazed reluctantly back at the computer, it’s glowing screen taunting him from the other side of the cubicles, and he very hesitantly replied, “Well, it’s not that difficult. I’m certain you’ll figure it out.”

She frowned, anxiously twirling her hair with her finger as she pleaded, “Please? I’m utterly hopeless with computers, and I really think that it would just be easier if you gave me a little help. I’m just trying to finish this so I can go home.”

Fighting the urge to tell her that he hadn’t the faintest idea what a computer was until a few hours ago, Hawke softened slightly, sensing her frustration with the situation, and very reluctantly responded, “Well, I suppose I can help, if it means getting done slightly faster. Lila, was it?”

She nodded, offering her hand with a gracious smile, and Hawke shook it.

“You’re a real lifesaver, Hawke. Both with this and how well you’ve been trying to keep everyone focused. If we get out of here, it’ll because of you.”

Sitting down at the computer, Hawke replied, “Yes, well, I’m used to getting bickering hot heads into doing what I need them to. Now, what exactly are you doing on here?”

Lila quietly reached over to one of the desks and grabbed a letter opener, hiding it behind her back as she explained, “Oh, just basic stuff. Something about sample collection.”

Hawke stopped, his hand wavering over the mouse, as he mumbled, “That’s strange. My task was sample collection.”

Realization hit for him just as Lila went to stab him, and he leapt up from the desk just as she brought the letter opener down, stabbing it into the desk. She turned and dived towards him again, but he quickly cast Mind Blast, sending her and the various cubicles around him flying backwards. Dazed from the attack, Lila stumbled to her feet and leapt out of the way as he then tossed a Fireball at her. Rolling for cover behind a desk, she smiled and playfully called out, “And here I thought we were just starting to like each other!”

A Stonefist hurtles through the air and smashes through the cubicle she’s hiding in, and Hawke yells, “Yes, you almost fooled me with your doe-eyed innocent act, Impostor!”

Lila stayed on the move, doing her best to avoid the spells being thrown her way while also trying to remember each one. Copying the Hargreeves’s abilities from observation and study alone were fairly simple, but her new target appeared to have a far more complex, varied powerset. It would almost be fascinating, were it not for him trying to kill her. She rolled out from a cubicle and threw another letter opener, which Hawke easily deflected, then cast Cone of Cold.

As the cone of jagged icicles jutted forward, Lila leapt upon it, quickly jumping across the larger ones to close the distance and drive her knee into Hawke’s nose with a leap, drawing blood. He staggered backwards, sweeping at her with the blade of his staff, but she pressed a finger to her temple and managed to cast Mind Blast, this time sending him skidding backwards.

“Another mage, are you?”

She looked at her hands, smiling as she felt power surge through them, then responded, “Not quite, I’m just very good at copying.”

He cast Barrier, smirking as her attempt at a Fireball bounced off of it.

“Well, then, let’s see how well you can imitate me.”

Hibiki and Gwen walked side by side down the stairs, heading towards the research lab after finishing their tasks in the dorms. It had taken them a minute to figure out how to restart the dorm showers, but fortunately, they were pretty good at following instructions. After a bit of silence, Hibiki spoke up.

“Gwen, can I ask you a question?”

“Of course, Hibiki. What’s up?”

“Did you work in a team back where you’re from? Because you came up with this whole team-up idea really fast. Back where I’m from, I’m part of a whole organization called SONG, there’s even people with their own Symphogears! I think you and Maria would get along really well! Tsubasa too, but I think she takes a little to warm up to strangers. Oh, and I can’t wait to introduce you to-“

Her excitement faded, a smile becoming a frown, as she continued.

“-to, to Miku-chan. If we ever get out of here, that is.”

Gwen stopped to give Hibiki a reassuring smile.

“Hibiki, we’re getting out of here, no problem. We’ve each only got a few tasks left, and then we’ll all head back to where we came from. And to answer your question, I am part of a team! It’s super-secret, but we try and help people just like you guys do. Although, I don’t think you’ve fought any aliens, have you?”

“No, I don’t think I have! I bet Genjuro would know if I asked him. He’s the one in charge, so he tends to know a lotta stuff.”

“Well,” Gwen smiled again. “I’ll just have to look you up and pay Japan a visit when I get back. I just know Ben would be all for it.”

Hibiki’s excited reply was cut off as they, through the stairwell, heard the sound of explosions and activity in the science lab. Giving each other a worried look, they ran towards the sound of it, Gwen doing her best to stay in front of the younger girl.

As the duo approached, Hawke and Lila, standing amidst the ruins of the research lab, glared at one another. Hawke tightened his grip on his staff, while Lila gripped a scalpel in one hand and let lightning crackle from her fingertips with the other. He had to admit, she was a quick learner with these spells, but she was very clearly having to adjust her fighting style on the fly as he brought out new spells. It was time to finish this. Casting Heal on himself, he lashed out with another Fireball, only for her to throw one of her own, with the two balls of flame colliding in mid-air.

Gwen and Hibiki came to a stop by the door to the lab, with Gwen putting her hand on the handle and turning back to look at Hibiki.

“Stay behind me, Hibiki. I don’t want you getting hurt.”

Hibiki balled her fists and responded confidently, “Don’t worry, Gwen, I’ll be okay! Besides, now I can show you Gungnir!”

Just as she began to sing, a massive explosion ripped through the door, knocking them both backwards. Creating a shield just in time, Gwen averted her eyes from the bright flash of the flame, then ran forward into the smoke, not realizing a dazed Hibiki lay on the ground.

Ears ringing, Hibiki stood to her feet, feeling blood trickle down from a cut on her forehead. Groaning, she shakes her head through the pain, then activates Gungnir, her clothes quickly replacing themselves with the all-too familiar armor.

“Gwen! Can you hear me? Where are you?”

The girl’s voice called out over the fire and smoke, and Lila, standing on shaky legs after the blast knocked the wind out of her, perked her head at the sound. Initially going towards it, she ducked behind a cubicle as she saw Gwen, recognizable thanks to the pink glow from her hands illuminating her, walk past, calling out similarly for Hibiki. So, at least two of the girls were here, and she had yet to finish off Hawke. This was, to put it lightly, an incredibly bad escalation of what was supposed to be an easy kill, and she needed to leave quickly.

Stumbling through the smoke, she nearly yelped as she tripped over Hawke’s unconscious form by the ruins of a cubicle, with the blood on the desk suggesting he’d had a rougher landing than her. Once again blessing her luck, she decided to see what dear Gwen could do.

Squinting through the smoke, Hibiki perked up as she saw a slim form seemingly standing over another, only to watch in shock as the person in shadow raised a hand and fired a pink energy blast, much like Gwen’s, the body below them jerking as it destroys their head, then ran off. Hibiki quickly clapped her hands together, the burst of wind clearing out some of the smoke, and she ran over to gasp in shock as she saw Hawke, his head cleanly split open, lying dead on the floor. Red

She stumbled back, hands shaking, then yelped as she felt a hand on her shoulder, only for it to be Gwen.

“Hibiki, are you okay?”

“I-I…it’s Hawke!”

Gwen looked to see where her friend had pointed, and took a startled step back.

“Oh my god. Hibiki, did you see what happened?”

Hibiki’s mind raced back to the color of the blast, and she very hesitantly replied, “I think so, but…I’m not sure. We need to make sure Makoto and Toph are okay!”

The two quickly ran out of the research lab, and Lila, hiding behind an overturned desk, smiled in relief.

As Pupil entered the greenhouse, she was immediately wary of her surroundings, letting her hand gently rest on her jutte as it hung by her side. It was both too quiet and too dark, the rows upon rows of plants shrouded in shadow. It was likely a task to power the greenhouse back on, but it still struck her the wrong way. And on top of that, Mace, who had wanted to meet here, was nowhere to be found. She took a few cautious steps into the warehouse, contemplating calling out his name before deciding against it, and scanned her surroundings.

She paused as she saw rustling behind a flower bush, her eye narrowing in interest, then widening in surprise as a beam of blue light exploded from it. She leapt to the side, feeling the temperature drop around her as the beam just missed her, freezing the tomato plant where she’d been standing, then rolled and drew her jutte in one quick motion. With it’s beam illuminating the area around her, she lunged towards her attacker, stabbing forward and gritting her teeth as the blade clashed with steel.

Snart mentally cursed as he used the cold gun to block the strike, caught off guard by his target’s strength as he firmly stood his ground. Pushing against him, she hissed, “You’re not Windu!” to which he mockingly replied, through gritted teeth, “How perceptive of you.”

She pushed against him, the force making them both stumble backwards, and managed to use the blade of her jutte to redirect Snart’s next blast into the roof before striking him in the gut. As he reeled, she spun on her heel and connected with a firm roundhouse kick to the jaw, sending him flying. She leapt forward, bringing her jutte down with a roar, only for him to roll to the side as the blade pierced the ground, his attempt at a counterattack foiled by her lashing out and kicking the gun out of his hands.

As she swung and stabs at him, Snart scrambled forward, diving to grab the cold gun and then firing a beam at the ground, freezing it beneath Pupil’s feet. She slid forward, awkwardly trying to keep her balance, only to fall when Snart sweeps her leg. He moved to freeze her as she falls, but she quickly recovered with a kip up and lands a chop to his throat. As Snart chokes and stumbles backwards, she follows up with a slash from her jutte, knocking the cold gun from his hands, then chains it into a kick to the chest, knocking him to the ground.

Snart drags himself backwards, fumbling for something in his pockets, only for Pupil to plant a foot on his chest and grimly command, “Stop this. You’re out of tricks.”

Smirking, Snart countered with, “Not quite,” then quickdraws the De-Gun and fires, with Pupil giving out a shocked cry as she’s reduced to a small glowing cube. Snart stood shakily, taking a moment to catch his breath, then brings his boot down and crushes the cube into a puddle. White

Wiping his boot off on a mat, he picked up the cold gun, surveying it’s damage with an impressed whistle. She’d come closer than anyone since Barry to actually taking him down, and he’d have been a dead man if he hadn’t swiped that gun.

Now, with her dealt with, it was time to see if his partner was done. He pulled his communicator from his pocket and called.

“Loki, it’s Snart. Pupils dealt with. How are things looking on your end?”

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Loki finally answered, similarly out of breath and much of his bombastic tone gone.

“He’s finished, but I’m afraid I’ve run into a…complication.”

“What? Did you go and get caught?”

“Mmmm, not quite. Look, just meet me in the sewers. We’ll explain there.”

“Whose “we”?”

Instead of a response, Loki disconnected, and Snart sighed as he began trudging back to the university. If he’d screwed up and gotten busted, it would makes things much trickier.

Several minutes earlier…

Mace crouched by the bodies of both Megamind and Koichi, a troubled expression on his face as he inspected the two of them. The corpses certainly matched the story Snart and Low-Key had described, but he could sense that there was more at play. Had they really been so unnerved by the boy’s death that they’d just left him down here? As he looked them over, he noticed that Megamind’s equipment holster appeared to be missing something. But what exactly was it, and who stole it? Unless someone else had come down here, there was only two possible thieves.

A disturbance, quiet, practically unnoticed if not for the Force, made him stop, stiffening slightly. He sensed another presence, close and attempting to hide themselves. For a few moments, he continued looking at the bodies, then calmly called out, “If you are attempting an ambush, I assure you it’s failed.”

His would-be attacker gave no reply beyond throwing a knife, and Mace quickly raised his hand, stopping the blade in mid-air, then sent it back. The knife soared back towards Loki, who chuckled coldly as it passed through him and clattered harmlessly against a wall. The illusion vanished, shimmering away as his foe’s mocking laugh echoed through the passageways of the sewer, and Mace took a tense step back, slowly unclipping his lightsaber from his belt and igniting it.

As the laugh faded, Loki quipped, “Well, it appears that neither of us are going to make this easy,” then lunged from the shadows, knives drawn. Sensing his attacksa moment before it begins, Mace leans to the side, dodging the initial stab, then brings the lightsaber down, nearly severing Loki’s arm before he manages to pull it back. Each taking cautious steps backwards, Loki and Mace size one another up, the god conjuring another dagger from thin air while the jedi takes a proper fighting stance.

“So,” says Mace, raising his lightsaber above his head as he crouches slightly, “I take it you murdered the boy, then worked with Snart to pin it on Megamind.”

Loki gave a small bow, then replied, “You are quite clever. I’m glad my decision to kill you early was a correct one.”

He charged forward, creating two more illusory versions of himself on either side, then leapt to the side, switching places with his duplicates as they converged on Mace. Taking a deep breath, Mace let the Force guide him, driving his blade through one illusion and slashing through another, then stabbing forward, missing Loki as he fell to his knees, using his momentum to slide forward and slash the back of his foe’s leg. Mace hissed, earning a small smile from Loki as he quickly leapt to back his feet and tossed the knife at the back of his head.

Mace caught the knife with his bare hand, then turned and tossed it back to Loki, whose gloating grin turned to a look of shock as he telekinetically stopped it inches from his face. With a huff, he threw the knife back, with Mace this time redirecting it into the water before reassuming his fighting stance.

“I did not anticipate encountering a Sith here, of all places, but I will strike you down nonetheless.”

Loki let his guard down slightly, confused, and responded, “Sith? I’m an Asgardian, you fool. Or do your people not have gods in whatever backwater they grabbed you from?”

Mace ignored the question as he pressed the assault, striking with a flurry of blows that Loki desperately attempted to avoid, the Asgardian stumbling and ducking backwards as the blade ominously hummed closer and closer towards him. As Mace stabbed forward, Loki sidestepped and brought his hand to the Jedi’s temple, attempting to simply shut him down or use his memories against him before he ended up in multiple pieces, only for nothing to happen.

“I believe you’ll find my mind to be much harder to control than your usual thralls.”

Before Loki could try and force it, Mace drove his elbow into his gut, enhancing the blow with the Force to embed him into the wall. Loki groaned, falling to the floor, then tried to stand, only for Mace to reach out and suspend him in the air.

“Your fighting style was admirable, if overly reliant on deception. Now, you’re going to tell me who the other Impostors are.”

Loki, trying his best to maintain his dignity as he floated several inches off the ground with his arms sticking out, laughed.

“I don’t know who the other one is, and frankly, I’d rather die than tell you.”

“Very well.”

Mace raised the lightsaber to strike his foe down, only to feel it fly from his grip. Loki, who had squeezed his eyes hut, cautiously reopened them and look over Mace’s shoulder to see Lila grinning excitedly as the lightsaber flew into her hand.

“So, telekinesis and a laser sword? Not too hard of a powerset to mimic.”

Before Mace could try and get it back, she leapt forward, striking at him with an unexpected level of grace and skill. He mentally cursed his carelessness as she attacked him, forcing him to drop Loki as he dodged his own weapon. The Asgardian’s attempt at mind control had drawn his focus, and now he was disarmed and facing two enemies at once. Lila swiped at him with the lightsaber, and he ducked under it and pushed her backwards, sending her tumbling back across the sewer floor. Having waited for the ideal moment, Loki leapt to his feet, knife drawn, but Mace, without even looking, simply elbowed him in the throat, and the Asgardian stumbled back clutching his throat.

Lila, playfulness gone, stood to her feet and glared at Mace, who cautiously walked towards her. As he prepared to attack, Loki rasped, “The blade, toss it to me!”

Lila saw Loki, partially recovered, waving to her, and she reluctantly did so. As the lightsaber flew through the air, Mace reached out to catch it, only to watch as his fingers passed through it. Realizing he’d been fooled, he looked back down just as Lila plunged the blade deep into his gut, then drove it up through his shoulder, slicing him clean in two. Purple

As the pieces fell to the ground, still sizzling, Loki dispelled his illusion to reveal himself, still winded and rubbing his throat, sitting on the ground.

“So, you can copy my abilities of illusion as well? My, now I wish I’d befriended you first.”

She inspected the lightsaber for a moment, then tossed it aside, letting it clatter to the floor by Mace’s corpse.

“So, what is this, the second time you’ve been saved down here? I’m beginning to think the sewers are a bad luck charm for you. What was your plan with the blade, exactly?”

Loki pulled himself to his feet, ignoring Lila’s quip and look of amusement.

“Firstly, I would’ve done the little illusion trick you came up with, and secondly, I had it well under control before you showed up.”

“Really? Because it looked like he was gonna cut your head off if I hadn’t decided to hide out down here for a minute.”

“Yes, well, I would’ve figured something out before the blade connected.”

Before they could bicker further, Loki’s communicator buzzed out with, “Loki, it’s Snart. Pupils dealt with. How are things looking on your end?”

He went to respond, then glanced at Lila, who crossed her arms and gestured for him to reply.

“Well, I take it he’s the third member of this little trio, so go and answer it.”

Loki eyed her skeptically.

“Why should I trust you?”

“Because I could’ve just stood by and watched you get your head chopped off, and I think it’s time we pooled our resources if we want to finish off who is left. Now, answer it before he thinks you’re dead.”

Rolling his eyes and grumbling something about a “foolish women telling him what to do”, Loki responded, “He’s finished, but I’m afraid I’ve run into a…”

He glanced over at Lila.


“What? Did you go and get caught?”

“Mmmm, not quite. Look, just meet me in the sewers. We’ll explain there.”

“Whose “we”?”

Instead of replying, Loki hung up and looked back to Lila.

“I think I’ll let you explain that one.”

Part 3: With Friends Like These...[]

Crewmates: Orange Black Pink Teal

Impostors: Green Blue Brown

As the two Impostors discussed their plans, Beast, riveted by the display, jolted slightly, shocked out of his viewing by the buzzing of his phone. He gave it a quick glance, grinning quietly as he recognizes the caller ID.

“M. Murdock”

Standing up, he holds up the phone and gestures to Cary, who nods as he continues to survey the simulation and adjust accordingly. Beast moves at a quick pace, gently closing the door to the server room behind him, then answers the phone.

“So? Give me the good news.”

“The eviction freeze is ready. I’ve gone through it thoroughly with, well, the other versions of myself, and it’s airtight. The forced evictions, the raids by Cfp’s jackboots, punishment for housing homeless warriors, it’s all accounted for and ready for your approval.”

Beast beamed excitedly and punched the air, then composed himself and replied, “Fantastic, send it to me as soon as the royale is over and I’ll make sure it goes through the proper channels. You’ve done this city a great service today, Mister Murdock.”

“Yes, I have, and now there’s your end of the deal to consider.”

He nodded quietly, his initial excitement fading into a more contemplative silence, then said, “Yes, the creation of a DFederal prison, to, how did you put it?”

“To put an end to the ceaseless violent executions of the city’s people at the hands of the police department, to create an alternative to the Illegal District, to give criminals a chance to reform their ways. A way to make things better for people who live here, if even a little bit.”

“You sure criminals really would repent if we gave them the chance?”

“You certainly seem to enjoy stocking your office with Thanos’s fruits.”

“Yeah, you got me there.”

The conversation was interrupted by Cary, who knocked on the glass door and gestured for Beast to step back inside. He nodded and held up a finger, then continued speaking.

“Alright, I gotta get back in. Send me your proposal and I’ll take a peek at it before I pitch it to the other Users.”

“You think they’ll go for it?”

“Eh, probably. Most of em don’t really care about the administrative shit, and I can probably get Cfp on-side by letting Ice-T Puppy Incorporated run the place, so it should be fine.”

“You’re going to let him run the prison?”

“Look, do you want the prison built or not? Now, I gotta go, we’ll discuss this further.”

With a beleaguered sigh, Murdock hung up on Beast, who returned to the server room and asked excitedly, “What I miss?”

From his desk, Cary adjusted his glasses and replied, “Not a tremendous amount. The three Impostors are talking, so I assumed that you didn’t want to miss it.”

Beast chuckled, “You assumed correctly,” as he sat down, reaching for his bowl of chips, which had gone missing. Confused, he glanced behind him to see Kerry happily helping herself. He shot her a glare, to which she responded by shrugging and popping another Dorito into her mouth. He threw his hands up with an exasperated sigh, then faced back towards the screen, watching as Snart paced between Loki and Lila.

“You know, I think we need to keep you out of the sewers. Maybe try staying aboveground for the rest of the game?”

Snart’s comment earned a laugh from Lila and a frown from Loki, who crossed his arms and tapped his foot irritably.

“Yes, ha ha, this foul place tends to get the best of me. Can we move on and focus on eliminating the crew now?”

“I suppose we can focus on them. With the wannabe detectives out of the way, this leaves, what, five?”

Lila raised her hand and chimed in with a proud, “Four, actually. I took care of Hawke before I came down and saved Loki.”

Snart looked at her, raising an impressed eyebrow and whistling.

“You iced the boy scout by yourself? Way I saw it, he would’ve required a little teamwork on our part, but frankly getting him out of the way makes things easier. In that case, all that’s left is the girl quartet. Bad numbers game, but we might be able to take em if we can split them up.”

This time, Loki raised his hand, too caught up in scheming to mock himself for doing something so childish, and added, “Better yet, why not let them kill each other? A well-placed word here, a good illusion or two there, and they’ll be ripping themselves apart in no time at all. As I once said, a house divided cannot stand.”

Both Lila and Snart looked at him skeptically.

“Pretty sure Lincoln said that one.”

“Yes, well, who do you think helped write the speech?”

Lila rolled her eyes, ignoring her boasting ally as she said, “Anyway, I believe I may have helped with that. When I took care of Hawke, two of the girls walked in on me during our little brawl, and I may have used one’s powers to off him.”

“Were you spotted?”

“The smaller one, Hibiki, got a glimpse, but there was too much going on. And, frankly, I think that works in our favor. Poor thing is probably wracking her brain trying to put it together.”

Snart gave her another impressed nod. He was beginning to wonder if he’d teamed up with the wrong Impostor, but he supposed Loki had his uses. For now, anyway. The bigger question fell upon how they could exploit this newfound opportunity. As though he could sense his thoughts, Loki asked, “So, are we going to stay down here and let the horrific scent continue to infest our nostrils, or are we going to track this meddling four down before they catch wind of us?”

Before either of the other Impostors could reply, Makoto’s tone, stern but slightly anxious, rang out through their communicators.

“This is Makoto, calling all remaining crew members for another meeting. This is urgent, so everyone please attend.”

The call cut out, and Loki gave a proud grin to the others.

“Well, looks like we won’t have to track them down after all.”

With that, the trio worked their way back to the meeting hall, Lila hanging back to quietly scoop up Mace’s lightsaber and clip it to her pants. Quickly catching up with the others, she did her best to hide her glee. Just a few more minutes, and her own plan would be going very swimmingly.

“Okay, let’s just get caught up on what’s happened,” said Makoto, who appraised her two somewhat rattled teammates. She and Toph had just gotten done with their tasks at the radio station, with Makoto doing the actual work while Toph provided encouragement on account of being blind. Things had been going well, right up until Gwen and Hibiki called and informed that they had found Hawke, one of the few trustworthy crew members, dead. Hoping to put things together, Makoto called for a meeting, and urged the duo to meet them by the bell tower.

Giving Hibiki a moment to collect her thoughts, Gwen spoke first.

“So, Hibiki and I were on our way to the research lab to finish a task there. We heard fighting, we got there just in time for everything to explode, and then we found Hawke’s body.”

Toph frowned, grumbling about missing out on an explosion to herself, but let the others speak. She was more focused on playing lie detector, and she could feel that Gwen was being honest with her. This left Hibiki, who spoke with much less certainty, shakily adding, “Yes, Gwen is right about all of that. But…there is something I saw.”

Gwen looked to Hibiki, interested, while Toph and Makoto both gestured for her to keep speaking, Toph noting both the anxiousness in her voice and the sense of stress from her rising heartbeat.

“I saw someone kill Hawke…with magic. Pink magic.”

Both Gwen and Makoto looked to her, startled, while Toph tilted her head slightly as she heard, for a moment, Gwen’s heartbeat rise. She balled her fists tensely, but stayed silent while Makoto took a step closer and asked, voice full of genuine concern, “Did you see who did it?”

Not looking at Gwen, Hibiki shook her head and mumbled, “I couldn’t see, so I wasn’t sure. But, I don’t think Gwen did it. It has to be someone else.”

“Well,” Toph crossed her arms, a frown across her face, and looked to Gwen, who seemed taken aback, “Who could’ve done it then, besides the one person we know who uses pink magic?”

Gwen scowled.

“Are you serious? You think I killed Hawke? You can hear my heartbeat, you’d know if I was lying about this, Toph.”

“A heartbeat doesn’t prove anything, it just lets me know that you’re not nervous about whatever it is you did. And since you were the last one with Solaire too, I’m gonna be a little suspicious.”

As Gwen and Toph bickered, stepping closer and closer as an anxious Hibki glances between the two of them, Makoto hesitated. From what Sae had always told her about polygraphs being inadmissible, Toph was right, but Gwen seemed very confident in her own innocence. After a few more moments of contemplation, she stepped in between the two, taking a defensive stance as she looked between them.

“Enough, both of you. Wait until we’re with the other crewmates before we decide to have this argument. We still don’t know if we can trust them, after all, and I’m certain there’s a logical answer somewhere.”

Her anger mildly subsided, Gwen nodded.

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry, we should be focusing on this instead of tearing each other apart.”

For her part, Toph offered no apology, simply shrugging and taking a cautious step towards Hibiki, then said, “Fine then, let’s get back to the cafeteria so we can work this out”. Keeping an eye on all of her teammates, Makoto led them back to the cafeteria to meet with the other crewmates. Something about the circumstances wasn’t sitting right with her, but she couldn’t quite place it.

Loki drummed his fingers on the table as he and the other Impostors awaited the arrival of the remaining crew. The plan, at least to him, was clear. Plant the seeds of doubt amongst the remaining crewmates, split them apart, then pick them off once they have a numbers advantage. There were issues, of course, namely that even Lila, who had been watching from afar, couldn’t quite suss out Tachibana’s power set, but they’d get their chance. They just needed to eliminate Gwen and Makoto, the clear brains of the group, and it would be easy.

“So,” said Snart, setting his cold gun on the table, “How do you two feel like playing this? Way I see it, best path forward would be to play dumb, say we haven’t seen the others or what happened, and just let them do the talking.”

“Yes,” Loki nodded affirmatively, the drumming stopping as he played his accusatory speech over in his head, “It would be best to simply stir in a little tension and let it simmer.”

Lila smirked.

“I agree, this will be a very good idea for when you two are gone.”

Loki paused, glancing at her quizzically, then squinted slightly as he noticed the slight shimmering around her. Just as it clicked that she had used his own illusions against him, he gave a shocked cry as a purple blade of light pierced his chest. Letting him squirm on the blade, Lila leaned in and whispered, “Sorry for this, really. But my best plan is one without you two.” Green

Snart lunged for his gun, raising it only for Lila to toss Loki’s corpse at him, forcing him to duck out of the way. Staying beneath the table, he yelled, “What’s the game here? Thought we had a decent plan, personally.”

Vaulting over the table and narrowly missing with a spin kick, Lila replied, “It was solid, but I prefer to work by myself if that’s alright with you.”

He raised the gun, firing a cold beam that she rolled to avoid, and Lila lunged forward with the lightsaber, making a clumsy swipe at him that sliced off a piece of the table. Apparently, the lightsaber was less effective when she didn’t have “the Force” with her. Good to know. As she tried to land a follow-up, he ducked under the blade, then smashed the butt of the gun into her jaw, sending her sprawling to the floor. Before she could leap to her feet, he trained the gun on her, smiling coldly.

“If you’d just stuck to the plan, we could’ve avoided all this.”

Lila simply smiled back and responded, “Oh, trust me, this is all part of the plan.”

As if on cue, the door to the cafeteria opened, revealing the team of crew members, who all froze in shock as Lila, voice frantic, yelled, “Help! Please, he killed Low-Key! He’s an impostor!”

Cursing, Snart raised the cold gun, only for a rock, pink energy disc, and small nuclear blast to smash into his chest at once, sending him flying backwards. As the cold gun clattered out of reach, he groaned, trying to stand and fumbling for the De-Gun in his coat pocket, but was stopped in his tracks as a series of pink bindings wrapped around him, holding him in place. Trapped, all he could do was glare at Lila, who shakily stood on two feet with the help of Hibiki, doing her best to hide her glee.

She wasn’t sure if Gwen would be the one to hold him in place, but that worked for her. Gwen and Makoto both advanced on the trapped Snart, with Toph not far behind, and Gwen, eyes narrowed, asked, “So, you’re the Impostor?”

He nodded, explaining calmly, “I suppose the jig is up by this point. May as well make it far and tell you who my accomplice i-“

With a subtle clench of her fist, a pink bubble enlarged itself inside Snart’s head, bursting it from the inside. Blue Both Makoto and Gwen leapt back with a startled cry, letting the body fall.

“Gwen, what did you do?!?”

“I…I….that wasn’t-“

Fully scowling, Toph turned and encased Gwen’s legs in stone, to the surprise of her teammates. Gwen looked down at the trap, then looked to Toph, eyes full of betrayal and anger.

“Toph, let me go. Now.”

Both Makoto and Hibiki stood in her way, trying to talk sense into their teammates before things grew out of hand, but Toph ignored them, letting the stone travel up the rest of Gwen’s body save for her head. As Makoto grabbed her by the shoulder and forcefully pulled her back, Lila, seemingly resting against the table, rewarded herself with a tiny smirk.

“Toph, Gwen isn’t an Impostor! Something else is going on here, and we just need to wait a second until we can all figure this out.”

Toph shook her head.

“I’m not risking it. If you want her to watch your back, fine, but whatever it is you want to “figure out”, you can do it with her as a statue.”

At that, Gwen gritted her teeth and unleashed a burst of energy, shattering the stone. Eyes glowing a neon pink, she raised a hand and tossed an energy burst at Toph, who shoved Makoto aside and stomped her foot, bringing up a stone pillar that blocked the blast, then kicked forward, sending the pillar straight at her. Gwen swiped down, unleashing a thin line of energy that sliced the pillar in two, then reached out with a tentacle, grabbing Toph and tossing her through the wall. As Gwen followed after her former ally, Lila stepped closer to the shocked Makoto and Hibiki and cautiously, sadly said, “You have to stop them before they kill each other! I don’t know if Gwen is the Impostor, but it’d be exactly what they want.”

Their uncertainty turning to confidence, Hibiki and Makoto both nodded, then followed after their feuding allies. As Makoto summons Agnes and rides out, Hibiki begins to sing, her body enveloped in light as Gungnir activates. Fully armored, Hibiki launches herself through the hole, created by Gwen, tackling her as she floated through the air and trying to blast Toph. Fully grinning now, Lila had a seat by the rubble and watched the fireworks.

Watching them turn on each other was easier than she thought.

Gwen grunted as she and Hibiki slammed into the ground hard enough to leave an impact. She unleashed another blast of energy, knocking the smaller girl off of her, then staggered to her feet, glaring at Hibiki as she took a much less certain fighting stance.

“What are you doing, Hibiki?”

“Friends don’t let friends kill each other. Please, Gwen, just stop.”

Just as Gwen starts to soften, another stone pillar smashes into her, Lila smirking as she shifts her foot slightly to control it, and she turns turns to glare at Toph, who is forced by Makoto drifting in between of them. Before Toph can attack, Makoto casts Flash Bomb, sending her staggering back as she clutches her head.

“Makoto…wh-what? Gwen’s an Impostor, we have to-“

“We have to calm down and think this through, and if I have to beat some sense into you so we can do it, I will.”

As Makoto held off Toph, Gwen lashed out with an energy disc, but Hibiki leapt over her, landing just in time to block the attack with her arms. Hoping to get her out of the way without hurting her, Gwen reaches out with a tendril, but Hibiki punches it aside, then dashes forward, hurtling towards her with enough speed that she can barely put a shield up. Hibiki shatters the shield, the force of the hit sending Gwen skidding across the ground, and she follows up with a swift stomp, the rocket on her ankle giving her an extra boost as she brings her foot down, sending up a massive wall of rock. Gwen creates an energy blade, cutting clean through the rocks, then simply teleports away, leaving Hibiki standing by herself.

Toph sidesteps a punch from Makoto, who tries to land a kick that she similarly dodges, then feels an increase of heat to the right of her as Gwen teleports beside her. Before she can raise a defense, Gwen claps her hands together, creating a massive burst of energy that sends Toph flying. Hitting the ground, Toph rolls back to her feet, then stomps downward, sending a boulder upwards, then kicks at Gwen, who flinches as Makoto steps in-between them, shattering it with a single blow. Grimacing, she turns to Gwen, concern evident on her face.

“Gwen, we don’t have to fight about this! We can ju-“

Another stone pillar launches her into the air, Lila breathing a sigh of relief that she was able to stop another attempt to mediate the fight, while Toph doesn’t have time to ponder who else is Earthbending as Gwen presses her attack. She didn’t want to do it, but she knew she needed to take her down if there was any chance of getting everyone together. As Gwen spams a series of energy discs, Toph stomps her foot, encasing her in a stone bubble that cracked and shook with each hit inflicted on the inside of it. Catching her breath, she smirked as Gwen struggled.

“Give it up, Impostor! There’s no breaking through that!”

Her boasting is almost immediately proven wrong as enormous explosion smashes the bubble to pieces, and Gwen, in full Anodite form, floats free of the rubble. Toph tries to attack, but Gwen simply swats her aside, while Makoto, having finally hit the ground, watches in a mixture of horror and awe. She quickly steels herself, then summons Agnes, racing forward and unleashing an Atomic Flare. The burst of nuclear energy gets Gwen’s attention, and she frowns as she turns and unleashes a barrage of energy that Makoto sped to avoid, grimacing as she felt the explosions rattle the ground. Toph launches a series of boulders, hoping to draw her fire, but Gwen simply deflects them with a shield without looking.

Spotting the fighting from a distance, Hibiki freezes with indecision. Her friends were killing one another, and it was her fault. She should’ve stayed silent, kept what she saw quiet, but she knew she couldn’t focus on it now. She had to help Makoto and Toph. Taking a deep breath, she braced herself, then pushed off of the ground, rocketing towards Gwen. The Anodite turned, preparing a shield, but the Symphogear wielder was both stronger and faster, easily smashing through it and using her rockets to accelerate her punch.

With a quiet, somber, “I’m sorry, Gwen,”, she punched forward, the blow knocking Gwen out cold and sending her smashing into the ground. Panting, Hibiki landed, then deactivated Gungir as Makoto and Toph both cautiously stepped towards where the crater was, glancing in to see Gwen’s unconscious form.

“So, that’s it, right?” asked Toph. “Impostors are all out, so we win, right?”

“Yes,” replied Makoto, much more unsure and cautious. “If all the Impostors are out, then the game should end, but the gate isn’t opening.”

She paused, confused, then her eyes widened as realization hit.

“Then that means Gwen wasn’t-“

An enormous boulder soars through the air and smashes into Makoto, knocking her across the campus, as Lila calmly walks forward. Toph moves to attack her, but Lila staggers her again with Flash Bomb, then follows up with Mafreidyne, knocking her away and bringing Hibiki to her knees. Hibiki starts to sing again, only to gasp for breath as Lila grabs her by the throat and lifts her into the air with a pleased grin.

“The Impostor?”

She taps her foot, sending a stone spike through Gwen’s chest. Pink

“No, she wasn’t. Took you lot long enough to put that together.”

Part 4: The End Is The Beginning Is The End[]

Crewmates: Orange Black Teal

Impostors: Brown

As Hibiki squirmed in her grasp, her hands fumbling and trying to pry her iron grip on her throat, Lila smiled.

“Honestly, I thought I made a damned good run of it without having to give up the game. Having to fight the full roster would’ve been a nightmare, but 3? That I can handle.”

Standing back up, Toph launched a boulder at Lila, who tossed Hibiki aside to shatter it with a kick before replying in turn by rapid-firing the rubble back at Toph. She thinks fast, creating a pillar to block the shots, then leapt to the side as an enormous stone fist burst from the ground. Lila smiled confidently, imitating and tinkering with her target’s powers on the fly, then winced as she saw a burst of bright light from the corner of her eye. Before she could react, a fully transformed Hibiki, singing as though she hadn’t had the life choked out of her, slammed into her side, rocketing forward with enough force to easily smash through the bell tower. The two slam into the ground, Hibiki tossing Lila aside, with the assassin hitting the ground and bouncing off of it.

Lila rolls to a stop and curses, trying to get the ground around her to do anything beyond shake. The damned girl had knocked her out of range of the earth bender. As Hibiki took a fighting stance, Lila smirks, preparing to imitate her powers. She waited to be enveloped in some sort of glow, to feel the power flowing through her vein, but in it’s place she felt nothing. She has no time to be confused as Hibiki charges, throwing a punch that Lila manages to dodge by mere inches, the power behind the punch sending out a gust of wind that made her eyes water. As Hibiki throws punch after punch, Lila backpedals, looking her over to determine why exactly she hadn’t taken the girl’s powerset.

As the bright, futuristic orange gauntlet flies past her head, it clicks for her. They aren’t her powers at all! It had to have been some sort of suit activated by her admittedly quite pleasant singing, meaning that she’d have to get closer to the others to stand a chance. She braces herself, crying out as she lets one of Hibiki’s punches connect with jaw, breaking it as she goes flying. Crash landing by a still slightly dazed Makoto, Lila grins, quickly casting Mediarahan and feeling her jaw click back into place. Scowling, Makoto balls her hand into a fist and charges, powering through a Flash Bomb, only for Lila to block the strike and counter with a strong elbow to the jaw. The two trade blows, moving back and forth in a flurry of hits, until Makoto infuses a punch with atomic energy and catches Lila in the gut, sending her skidding backwards. Breathing tersely, Lila reaches down to see that the attack hadn’t left a mark, grinning mockingly.

“Sorry luv, but if I have your powers, it means they’re probably not going to be too effective on me.”

She casts Checkmate, then lunges forward, swiftly overwhelming the now-slower Makoto, who tries to protect herself as a flurry of strikes land, culminating in a fierce kick to the chest. Before Lila can follow-up with another Flash Bomb, Hibiki lands in the way, blocking it with her gauntlets, while Toph, shifting the ground beneath herself to move quickly, comes to a stop by her side, stopping to offer a helping hand to Makoto. As her three opponents, finally together, advanced towards her, Lila tensed, taking cautious steps back as she felt her powers flicker in and out.

“Three on one, Lila,” said Makoto, “It’s over.”

Lila hated to admit it, but she might have had a point. But the Handler never did raise a quitter, did she?

“No,” she replies with a cocky smirk.

“Now it’s actually entertaining.”

They all charged at once, Makoto leading the way on Agnes, and Lila stomped her foot, sending a series of stone fists into the air that forced them to take evasive action, though Hibiki simply punched through them. She leapt forward, throwing a punch that Lila blocked with a pair of stone gauntlets, then cried out in surprise as a rock hand grabbed her and threw her through the main building. Makoto skids to a stop, casting Atomic Flare, but Lila quickly encases herself in stone, her makeshift armor absorbing most of the hit, then leapt forward and headbutted her, staggering her long enough for Lila to grab her by the hair and drive her face into her knee. Letting her collapse, Lila stomps on the back of her head until Toph, exploiting her stone armor, freezes her in place, slowly letting it crush her from within.

Struggling, Lila switches powers, then smashes out of the back of the armor as it collapses on itself. Before Toph could attack, she snaps her fingers, and a cruder, less detailed Agnes appears beside her and casts Flash Bomb, with Toph gritting her teeth in pain as the explosion overwhelms her hearing. Still dazed, she can’t move fast enough to block Lila leaping upon Agnes and accelerating forward, slamming its front wheel into her. Makoto manages to recover, knocking Lila from the crass parody of her own Persona with a strong uppercut, but she simply leaps to her feet, ducking and weaving past the follow-up punches until she switches powers and raises her hands.

Two parallel stone spikes shoot from the ground, nearly impaling Makoto’s feet, and she leaps to avoid them, only for Lila to encase her leg in rock and roundhouse kick her in the temple, sending her sprawling. Her momentary triumph gives way to annoyance as Makoto and Toph both shakily stand on two legs, doing their best to keep fighting.

“Fine, I can beat the tar out of you both all day.”

Elsewhere, Hibiki groans, sitting up and shaking rocks out of her hair as she tries to get a bearing on her surroundings. From the vantage point and the wreckage of numerous solar panels, she could tell she’d landed on the school roof, and she squinted as she witnessed the fight occurring on the school grounds. Makoto and Toph were hitting as hard as they got hit, but Lila was just too fast, separating and fighting them one on one while they tried to recover. Steeling herself, she stood to her feet and prepared to leap from the roof, only to stop, confused, as she saw a strange, bright orange symbol etched into the roof, glowing and quietly humming. She could feel the odd warmth and sense of safety irradiating from it, and almost against her better judgement, she tapped her foot on it, then watched it blink several times before vanishing.

She shook off the confusion and prepared to jump, then covered her eyes as a grossly incandescent light overwhelmed her, leaving her only able to see the vague outline of someone rising from the ground, arms raised to the sun…

Toph cried out in pain as Lila caught her with a nuclear-infused kick, shattering through her stone armor and knocking her against the ruins of the bell tower. Makoto, still trying to catch her breath, tried to stand back up, then groaned as stone shackles sprung from the ground and forced her back down. Confidently, despite being covered in cuts and bruises, Lila strode forward and planted her foot on the back of Makoto’s head, pushing it into the dirt as she gloated.

“I’d say this has been fun, but to be honest it’s just been an enormous pain in my arse. Now, if you would both be nice enough to just give up and die, that would be terrific.”

She raises her foot, preparing to crush Makoto’s head, only to yelp as a bolt of lightning shrieked through the air and crashed into her chest. Sizzling, she stood to her feet, glaring in the direction of the attack, then paused, baffled, as two glowing-orange figures beared down on her. One, who she fully expected, was Hibiki, a determined glare in her eyes. The other, which she did not expect in the slightest, was the completely orange phantom of none other than Solaire of Astora.

Before she could react, Hibiki struck first, hitting her with a blow that sends her staggering back, followed by Solaire driving his shield into her face. She tries to fight back, but the duo hit from completely separate angles, leaving her unable to get her bearings as the assault forces her backwards.

As her captor stumbles out of range, Makoto feels the shackles loosen, then breaks free, immediately casting Mediarahan. Feeling her wounds knit close, Toph leaps to her feet and back into the fray, compressing a piece of the bell tower until it’s a perfectly smooth stone and shooting it at Lila, who feels it crack two ribs on impact. Balling her hand into a fist, Lila manages to create a lightning spear, stabbing forward into Hibiki’s chest and knocking the girl back, only for Solaire to continue forcing her back with a thrust of his sword.

Seeing that the knight and Toph, who moved closer to and continued hurling projectiles at Lila, had it under control, Makoto crouched by Hibiki, checking the younger girl for any wounds, then asked, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine! We’re going to win, Makoto, we just need to keep fighting!”

“Yes, we do, but…”

She glances warily at the glowing phantom as he swipes at Lila with his sword, then staggers back as she kicks him in the head, then forces him backwards with a boulder to the chest. The knight recovers with a simple shake of his head, then keeps fighting, stabbing forward confidently.

“Where did Solaire come from, exactly? As I recall, he’s dead, correct?”

“I don’t know, but he’s helping us, just like he said he would!”

With a small smile, Makoto nodded, remembering Gwen’s words to the sullen knight about his quest for a sun. Maybe, in the end, she’d been right. Pushing the pang of guilt from her mind, she helped Hibiki to her feet, then looked to her, determined and ready.

“She’s almost done for, so let’s wipe her out! Toph, Hibiki, let’s get payback for Gwen.”

She took a deep breath as both girls paused to listen to her.

“It’s time for an All-Out Attack!”

In unison, the three attacked, Makoto and Hibiki quickly closing the distance to assault Lila with a flurry of blows while Toph kept her from getting breathing room with a series of well-timed pillars. As Lila tried to counter, she was knocked into the air by a final pillar, then blasted out of the sky with a lightning spear.

Sizzling, body broken and completely exhausted, Lila simply lies there, cursing to herself as the four surround her. As Solaire raises his sword, Lila smirks spitefully and manages to mumble, “Almost had you,” before the blade pierces her chest, killing her. Brown

Pulling his sword from her body, Solaire turns to the trio of girls, each bruised and weary, but victorious, and gives a single nod before raising his arms to the sun a final time, then vanishing. In his place came an eerie silence, which hung over the damage and destruction inflicted during the fight, and Makoto glanced wearily towards the gate as it began to open.

“So,” said Toph, awkwardly scratching the back of her head as they began to walk to the exit. “This is it? Game’s over, we all go home?”

Frowning, Hibiki hesitated.

“Wait, if we all go home, does this mean we’ll never see each other again? But…you’re both my friends, and so was Gwen, and even Solaire, even if we didn’t know each other that long.”

Doing her best to ignore the truth of the statement, Makoto stopped and put a reassuring hand on Hibiki’s shoulder.

“I just know we’ll find each other again, Hibiki. No matter what happens, we’re a team, and teams stick together.”

All three were startled as a loud voice boomed, “That you will!” and the same B from the start of the game appeared in the sky, hanging over all of them. They each prepared to attack it, but the voice kept talking, seemingly ignorant to them.

“Congratulations to you three, the winners of the second ever Color Royale! By working together and fighting admirably, you managed to triumph over the Impostors and seize your reward!”

Perking up at the mention of a reward, Toph cupped her hands together and shouted back, “What kinda prize we talking?”

“Well, that’s an easy one. You each get a nice new home in DFederal, and you’ll get to stick together and see all your various friends again.”

The three exchanged confused looks, and Makoto asked, hesitantly, “DFederal? But, I live in Tokyo.”

“Look, it’ll make sense once you cross that finish line, trust me.”

With that, the B went silent, and the three exchanged wary, uncertain looks. Makoto glanced at the gate again, the sense of relief turning into one of suspicion, and contemplated their next move. The game’s host hardly seemed trustworthy, but there appeared to be no other way of escape. Hibiki looked to Toph, asking curiously, “You can sense if someone’s lying, right? Can we trust him?”

Toph facepalmed, then replied, “I can sense a heartbeat, and whatever the sky voice is, it doesn’t exactly have a heart.”

After a long silence, Makoto spoke.

“I say we cross the gate. If he’s serious about us winning, then it should be safe.”

Toph seemed uncertain, asking, “Are you sure it’s a good choice?”

“It’s the only one we have.”

As the other two hesitated, Hibiki strode forward confidently, coming to a stop right before the gate, then looked back to them, giving a big, confident smile.

“If anything bad happens, I want you both to know that I’m glad I met you, and that we formed this team. You’re right, Makoto, no matter happens, we’ll all see each other again.”

She stepped through, vanishing in a burst of light, shocking both Toph and Makoto. As the light faded, they both took a deep breath, then ran after her, vanishing as well, leaving nothing but the ruins of the campus, which began to break apart into stray bits of code. In a matter of moments, the entire campus was gone, replaced with the cold, gray interior of the battledome.

Witnessing the simulation dissolve, Beast leaned back and punched the air in triumph.

“Fuck yeah, another Color Royale in the books! We crushed that shit!”

He offered a high five to Kerry, who hesitantly reciprocated, then Cary, who was too focused on his computer to play along. Adjusting his glasses, he asked, “Is there a particular reason you didn’t congratulate them personally?”

Beast sheepishly dug his hands into pockets and replied, “The last time I did that, the winner almost murdered me, so I decided I’ll probably just stick with the whole “ominous voice” schtick in the future.”

Kerry chuckled.

“Sheesh, you really do need bodyguards.”

Finishing his work, Cary finally looked up from the computer and inquired, “Well, with the simulation complete, is there anything else you need from us?”

Beast shrugged.

“Nah, not really. Just hang around while I finish the expert’s opinion, then we can head out. Honestly, great work, man. Once Ramona gets back, you can take a few days off, you’ve earned it.”

Surprised by the compliment, Cary gave an appreciative nod, then exited the office with Kerry, who was already asking where they’d go for dinner. Watching them leave, Beast sighed, sitting back in his chair and cueing up the expert’s opinion, with the quiet clicking of his typing becoming the only sound in the room.


“So, what, you don’t trust her now?”

Toph, having stepped away from the chaotic hustle and bustle of Hibiki’s housewarming party, which had gone from a quiet affair to a full on bash with her, Makoto, and Toph’s various friend groups, lifted a small rock with her bending, flicking it towards a soda can sitting on the fence surrounding the fairly lavish property and smirking as it hit it’s target dead-on. For his part, Zuko, sitting on a rock, nodded, impressed, then shrugged.

“It’s tough, I do like Lun Lun, and I don’t think she’d ever lead me astray. It’s just…she killed me.”

“So? You tried to kill me, Aang, and the rest of the team how many times?”

“Trying and actually doing it are very different things. Besides, I never wanted to kill Aang, I just wanted to capture him and bring him back to earn my father’s pride.”

Toph chuckled, then knocked another bottle off the fence with a pebble.

“Sure, man, whatever you wanna call it.”

Zuko, a conflicted expression still across his face, took out the thumb drive given to him by his estranged school friend and turned it over in his hands. Tucking it back into his tunic, he looked to Toph, who was focusing intently on one of the rocks on the ground, and asked, “You really think I should trust this?”

She shrugged, then flicked the rock into the air, where it ricocheted between each remaining can, knocking them off the fence, then back into her hand, causing her to beam with pride.

“I’m just saying, we took a chance on you, and I think it paid off.”

Zuko smiled slightly, then replied, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

With that, he stood up from his perch, mumbling something about having to pass something along to Akechi, while Toph focused on lifting up the bottles on pillars to try and beat her record. As Zuko vanished back into the mansion, she gave a small, proud smile.

Sitting at his desk, resting his chin on his good hand, Artorius Collbrande surveyed his strange guest with curiosity. For his part, Solaire of Astora sat up straight, doing his best to not knock over his shield as it sat by his chair.

“So, Mr. Solaire, would you care to explain what draws you to this organization?”

Solaire perked up at the question, his voice slightly muffled by his helmet but his enthusiasm still immensely evident.

“Yes, all this time, I’d searched in vain for my own precious sun, one that I could admire and guide me through life and the dangerous world that surrounds me. But, time and again, I failed to find it, falling deep into a despair from which I thought I’d never recover. That is, until one day, when a kindly group of strangers helped me reach a revelation: I could be the sun that I desired! I could guide and aid others, protect them with my strength, serve as an inspiration, and I believe that the Abbey is the way to do it! If you’ll allow it, I shall lend my blade to your cause!”

Artorius stroked his chin. The knight could have his uses, given his apparently considerable strength and his clear devotion to any cause willing to take him, but he, ironically, didn’t strike him as the brightest. And, of course, the question of whether the knight would agree with the Order’s true purpose remained to be seen. But, regardless, when conflict arose, he could always use the aid.

“Very well, Solaire. My guard force could use someone with your skillset when it comes to aiding those in need. Consider yourself inducted.”

Solaire shot up from his chair and excitedly offered his hand to Artorius, who hesitantly shook it.

“You’re a true saint, Artorius. I can see why so many spoke so kindly of you, and I assure you that I will not let you down. I shall help a new sun rise upon this city.”

He paused, shifting footing awkwardly, seemingly lost in thought, then added, “Although, there may be one complication.”

Artorius gestured for him to explain further, and he continued.

“You see, King Wass, he…he would like to me to join his “King’s Guard”. To pledge myself in service of a king is great honor indeed, but I still would like to lend aid to those who need it. Tis the pledge of a Warrior of Sunlight. I am…conflicted.”

It was a complicated dilemma, Artorius conceded. On one hand, the knight doing both jobs represented the risk of infiltration, of the city’s masters uncovering his plot before it was ready, but on the other, it was King Wass, largely apathetic to the various goings-on and more focused on his specific niches, and it did represent a chance to have one of his agents close to leadership. Perhaps, just maybe, it could represent opportunity. He took a step towards Solaire and put his hand on the knight’s shoulder, a calming smile crossing his face, then answered, “Do not fret, Solaire. I’m certain we can find a way to make it fit into your schedule. Now, before you go, may I ask you a simple question?”

Solaire nodded.

“Why is it, you think, that birds fly?”

The knight seemed confused by the question, glancing downwards as he pondered it to himself with a quiet “hmmm”. He’d never pondered the purpose of birds before. After all, they never pondered him, so why should he do the same when they were simply going about their own quests? After a few moments, the answer seemed to come to him, and he happily replied with, “So that they may be closer to the sun, to feel it’s glorious, nurturing warmth upon their wings, letting it carry and guide them to a new day!”

Artorius chuckled and shook his head.

“An interesting line of thinking. You’re dismissed, Solaire.”

The knight saluted, picked up his shield, then headed for the door, still pondering the strange question, but excited for his new opportunities. He’d finally found it, a true purpose.

His precious sun.

Deep within the sewers of DFederal, a flickering television, one of several stacked atop one another that were playing the various channels available to the city’s inhabitants, focused on Beast, standing at a podium, giving a surprisingly competent speech as Bayonetta spoke over him.

“Chairman Beast congratulated the hard work of the DFPD and the contractors hired to begin the opening stages of development for DFederal’s first official prison, citing it’s construction, alongside his recently issued executive order designed to crack down on the recent violence against the city’s homeless population and their advocates, as the beginning of a new, quote, “kinder, gentler” era in the city’s history. At the time, polling on the construction is mixed, with homeless advocates calling the move long overdue, while skeptics argue that an alternative to the DFPD’s execution policy will simply reduce the risks for criminals. As of now, construction is slated to finish by-“

The television flicked off, and both Jim Raynor and Zero turned to look at their leader, Doctor Doom, as he tossed the remote aside, letting it land on his desk, mask betraying no emotion.

“So, he seeks to finally fulfill his broken promises of fixing the city? How curious.”

Zero spoke first.

“Yes, his speech reminded me of how he spoke back during his meetings with us, although the fact that he has failed to respond to our coded messages is…troubling. He’s not been the same since last spring.”

Doom nodded coldly, and Raynor stepped forward, clearing his throat.

“You think he’s gonna be a problem?”

At this, Doom laughed, a booming, menacing laugh that echoed through the sewers, and both of his lieutenants gave each other wary glances as the laughter ceased as it abruptly as it had begun.

“Of course not. He’s a bumbling do-gooder, convinced he can save this city without tearing out the very rot that he’s part of. No, there are other threats to us that I’m far more concerned about.”

He nods towards one of the televisions, depicting Artorius Collbrande handing out food at a local Abbey-funded soup kitchen.

“For now, let us focus our efforts on this Artorius. I suspect he plays a much larger game than he lets on. If our cause is to succeed, he must be eliminated.”

Expert’s Opinion[]

13th: Koichi Hirose. Despite the versatility of his Stand, Koichi’s overly trusting nature and tendency to draw shadier characters to him made him an easy target for the Impostors, and with no friends to bail him out, he was the first to go.

12th: Megamind. Many of the assets that made Megamind such an effective supervillain worked against him as a crewmember, with his bombastic personality and general appearance quickly isolating him from any possible allies, allowing for a fairly easy frame-up.

11th: Solaire of Astora. The people’s champion, Solaire wasn’t able to compete effectively in a situational royale like this. He’s too kind-hearted and simplistic for the subterfuge and detective work required for the scenario, while the Impostor’s skill sets each gave them options to get around his considerable skill in combat and eliminate him without the need for a fight.

10th: Hawke. Hawke is confident, a skilled leader, and a dangerous mage, but all those traits simply made him a target for the Impostors once the more obvious eliminations had died. His lack of understanding of modern tech also slowed him down considerably, making it much easier for him to be isolated and taken out. Eliminating him simply became too important for him to stick around too long.

8th: Mace Windu and Pupil. The two obvious detectives of the game, Pupil and Mace both were taken out to prevent them from putting the identities of the Impostors together too soon. Both were formidable combatants, but both were brought down in ways specific to their own shortcomings, with Mace’s headstrong and cold personality making it hard to work with others while Pupil’s more limited set of abilities meant she ultimately couldn’t hold her own against the more crafty Impostors.

7th: Loki. While his shapeshifting and skill at trickery enabled him to get far, Loki was screwed over by his enormous arrogance and overly suspicious behavior. He could only stay ahead of the crew for so long, and eventually, a craftier killer was able to outwit him.

6th: Captain Cold. Snart fell into a similar boat as Loki thanks to his Cold Gun, which limited his methods of stealthily eliminating crew members without raising suspicion, and without it, he’s a normal (if very clever and skilled) man, making him no match for the more powerful members of the crew.

5th: Gwen Tennyson. Gwen fell less through any failure on her part and more because she was simply the easiest to frame of the remaining crew members. She’s intelligent, friendly, and good at both leading and working within a greater team, but her magic is also incredibly distinctive, enabling the Impostors to sew mistrust among her allies. Despite her considerable magical talent, she just isn’t strong enough to hold her own when she’s isolated.

4th: Lila Pitts. Lila had all the makings of an excellent Impostor: a unique ability that made it easy to deflect blame, a natural talent for deception, and combat skill that made her incredibly dangerous even without any stolen abilities. Like Gwen, she lost less through any fault of her own, and more simply because she just couldn’t overcome the sheer power and teamwork of her three final targets. Despite her confidence in her abilities, she simply picked a fight she couldn’t win.

1st: Makoto Niijima, Hibiki Tachibana, and Toph Beifong. Each of the surviving crew members brought something that enabled them to walk away the winners. Makoto functioned as both an effective support and a cool head to effectively lead the team, while her Persona gave her a variety of combat options that enabled to both lay down the hurt and boost her teammates, Hibiki was far and away the physically strongest player, with Gungnir’s status as an artifact making her impossible to copy, overcoming her somewhat naïve demeanor, while Toph acted as both an effective tank and lie detector, making it impossible for someone to effectively deceive or get the drop on the group. Working together, the three were an unstoppable trio, covering up their various flaws with each other’s strengths, allowing them to prevail in the 2nd ever Color Royale.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Rise Kujikawa (by Laquearius)[]


Expert's Opinion[]