Status: This is for NaNo. As such, it will be unedited for the time being.

The Power of Illusions

Chapter Three

The five followed Sage into the debriefing room where they were met with pictures of injured users. The results were gruesome and utterly terrifying. It was honestly a good thing they hadn’t eaten a lot yet before they were called to the room. Also inside was Dirk, Dave’s older brother.

“As you can see, we’re dealing with a bad set of users. We’ve never had to deal with three of them this strong. I’m not even sure they’ve shown their true strength yet, to be completely honest with you,” Sage began, face hard with his effort to not show a lot of emotion. He had to be impassive at this point. He was the facility’s leader and thought of all the users and workers under his command as his family. Seeing any one of them hurt or even killed, destroyed him inside. He took a deep breath and continued on.

“It appears, based on what the users who’ve returned with enough wits about them to recount their experiences, that one of them has plasmakinesis, an exceptionally rare ability. It’s very hard to control as plasma usually has a complete and utter mind of its own, but he appears to be able to control it through a wand-like object.

The one girl, the black haired one, appears to have life-revival or theft abilities. That’s how Terry and Jillian were killed according to Tate. They got too close to her and with a mere touch, they were downed. Tate was hit with some of the plasma as well. He said that the third member didn't really do anything at the time that he was there. However, the second team I sent out, stated that the third member is a siren-like user. She could lure the team in with the sound of her voice. They were hit with the plasma without really even feeling it or knowing what had happened as they were too enchanted with her to care about their surroundings. Luckily, she ceased her singing and let go of her control before the other girl had a chance to touch them. They made their escape while they could. All of them were severely injured from the plasma, though.” The broad man walked around the room, showing off some of the pictures. Burns and severe lacerations were shown. The were completely clean cuts, too. Plasma was super hot and when it cut them, it cauterized the wounds. However, there were several that went right down to the bone and even through it in a couple cases.

Not a single young adult in the room made a sound as Sage continued on.

“Now, I sent a third team of adults out. Four of them as well. Some of my strongest, but even they weren’t able to even make a dent in these three. The civilian casualty rate is skyrocketing as is the overall destruction of the middle of the city. I have chosen you six for a reason.” He completely faced them as he began explaining the mission.

“Dirk, your electrokinesis paired with Dave’s pyrokinesis can counter the plasmakinesis. At least, it should. We don’t really have anything to completely counter the other two’s respective abilities at this point in time, but Kanaya’s our best defense. Her force fields are the strongest I’ve ever seen, including from the adults.” Kanaya nodded her thanks at the praise while Sage moved on. “John’s ability to think quickly in a pinch could be extremely useful in this case seeing as these three are heavily unpredictable and inconsistent with their methods of doing things. What I’m hoping will be able to be accomplish is this: Blind the three with a mist. Take out the Siren before she has a chance to sing. If she looks like she’s going to, Kanaya, direct individual force fields around everyone. They should be able to block out the sound, yes?” Kanaya hesitated before answering.

“Unfortunately, I’m unsure about that, Sir. I’ve not yet had the chance to really test that seeing as we do not have a Siren among our ranks. I will, however, do as asked in hopes that it will work,” she stated, completely convicted of the potential for success. Sage nodded to her and returned to looking at everyone else.

“As I was saying, take out the Siren first. Then focus on the other two. The Life user doesn’t appear to be able to do anything unless she’s close enough to touch the person, but be on your guard. We can’t risk too much here. Karkat, Rose, this is where you can come in along with some of John’s wind abilities. You can all do long distance things. Karkat, take control of her body and keep her in place while Rose and John attack with intent to knock out cold.

In regards to the plasma manipulator, Dirk, Dave. As soon as the Siren’s out, focus on him. Let the others handle the Life user. I want you two to counter as many of his attacks as you can. Try not to let the others get hit. Once the Life user is taken down, everyone focus on the plasma manipulator. He’s going to take the most work from what it looks like.” All six of the young adults nodded their acknowledgment of the parameters of the mission. It would be difficult, but they wouldn’t let Sage down.

“I’m sending you young adults out in hopes that, because you’re younger, you’ll be able to act much more quickly than my other teams. You’re also in your prime and have more strength with your powers than they do anymore. You can pack a punch while still being accurate and in full control of your abilities, which is exactly what I need right now based on what my other teams have said. With that being said, get your weapons around and get out there. Dismissed.” At that, the six users stood and moved to the weapons area to gather their respective weapons. This time, John actually did grab his warhammer, and no one said anything about it. All wore grave expressions full of seriousness and contemplation about the current situation. They were all preparing their minds for the worst thing that could come from this encounter, while still hoping for the best.

Once they’d all silently gathered their weapons, they reconvened at the door to the debriefing room and looked at one another.

“You’re all amazing users. You know that right? Let’s get out there and kick some ass,” encouraged John, trying to get everyone’s mood up just a little before they went out there to their potential deaths. Kanaya offered him a small smile while the rest retained their passive (or in Karkat’s case, angry) faces. John took a deep breath and turned to the door, opening it and leading the group outside. They quickly made their way to the center of Philadelphia where sirens rang out and a mass amount of damage could be seen from blocks away. As per their training, the six stuck to the shadows as much as they possibly could, but seeing as it was midday, the sun was high in the sky and eliminated a lot of their cover.

Once they’d reached the center, they were met with an overwhelming amount of carnage. Dead and injured bodies littered the entire block. Crying and moans and screams of pain and suffering could be heard clearly from wherever one stood. And there, in the middle of it all, was a trio of young adults.

One of the females had almost platinum blonde hair that was curled. She surveyed the scene as if looking for survivors or those worth singing for. Her green eyes swept the block, glancing right over the group in the alley.

The next was a tall male with a decent bit of muscle on him. He wore glasses and a snarl of boredom and disgust. He had brown hair with a blond streak in it and slouched as he waited as his companions did their searches for more targets. He obviously looked bored.

The third was a tall, darker female with a good deal of meat on her bones. She stood there looking for either survivors or anyone else she could mess around with, long, curly, black hair drifting in the breeze.

Those were the three users that had been giving S.B.U.R.B. members a run for their money. They didn’t look particularly threatening to the team sent out, but they knew better than to underestimate an enemy. While the three may look like they wouldn’t do much harm, obviously they could do a lot. John and company glanced at one another as they all thought about how Sage wanted them to handle the situation. The one with aerokinesis nodded to Rose and Dave, the two starting everything by making a mist. John then directed to mist over to the three users. All three glanced around in surprise before the covering reached them, effectively taking away their sight further than their immediate vicinity. Once the covering was in place, the group moved as silently as possible into the mist, each having their own method of sensing where the others were.

As they all grew closer to the three users, a mezzo-soprano voice rang out into the area. No words were attached, only tones and notes were sung. The six stopped in their tracks, immediately captivated by the sound resonating through their very being. As such, the mist began to fade, not being upheld by Rose and Dave. The outlines of the three users began becoming clearer as the covering dispersed. Kanaya, at the beginning of the singing, at tried to make individual force fields to eclipse and mute the Siren’s song, but they weren’t powerful or thick enough. She couldn’t even protect herself and was quickly lulled into submission.

The Siren, known as Muse to her companions, took the forefront of her group with her voice, eyes skimming her opponents. All of them had vacant looks on their faces as their bodies swayed with her song. She nodded to Prince, who finally grinned and raised his wand. White hot energy gathered around his hand and concentrated itself into the plastic, ready to be released once he’d felt he’d gained enough of it. With a smirk on his face, he aimed the weapon at the nearest body to him and prepared to release the plasma. As he did so, a blonde head darted in from the side and knocked the body to the ground.

“Dirk, are you alright?” asked Rose, smacking her cousin lightly on the cheek a few times to snap him out of his daze. Dirk looked very similar to his brother with pale skin and blond hair that he wore spiked up in an anime-esque styling. He also wore triangle shaped shades to hide his abnormally orange-tinted hazel eyes from the world. The man made eye contact with Rose as his brow furrowed.

“Rose? How did you break free from the song?” he questioned, already beginning to hear the song again and feel the fog of enchantment enter his mind. Rose smacked his face again lightly to draw his attention back.

“I’m not entirely sure, honestly. I’d been fighting it the whole time, however. It didn’t seem to affect me nearly as much as it did all of you. Anyway, we have to snap the others out of it and continue on. Come on. I need your help,” she answered, eyes showing just a small margin of the worry that laced her mind as she moved away from her cousin to the next nearest person, Karkat. Dirk pushed off the ground and shook his head again, choosing to hyper-focus on the situation at hand and do his best to push the song from his mind. It was difficult, but he managed to make it to his brother and snap the younger Strider out of the hold. Before he could say much, Dave’s eyes widened behind his shades, and he pulled Dirk to the side to narrowly avoid another plasma blast. The danger the group was in completely cleared Dave’s head of the song as he turned to Dirk.

“You ok?”

“Yeah. Let’s go. We have to stall this guy,” he said, turning to face Prince who was aiming now at Kanaya. Just as he released another energy blast, Dirk and Dave combined their heat and electricity to intercept the plasma, causing a mini explosion mid-path. Prince whirled around to face them, snarl present on his face.

“Think you’re real cute with that, don’t ya?” he asked, a strange accent lacing his voice. The Striders couldn’t quite place the origin, but that didn’t matter at that point in time anyway. In response to his question, the two brothers charged themselves with their abilities, ready to strike again.

Meanwhile, with Prince distracted for the time being, Rose snapped Karkat out of his trance.

“What the hell? Lalonde?”

“Questions right now would be frowned upon as we have quite a number of things to accomplish in a short amount of time. Help me grab John and Kanaya so that we may continue the mission,” Rose stated, leaving no room for Karkat to question her break of the song-spell. She moved swiftly over to John to repeat the process, leaving Karkat to approach his cousin. He grabbed Kanaya by the shoulders and shook her, her jade eyes clearing and meeting his own.

“Karkat? Oh. The force fields didn’t work, did they?” she questioned, quickly realizing what must have happened and picking up her vigilant monitoring of the situation. She took in the Striders taking on the plasma manipulator. The Siren was still singing with the fog encroaching on her mind. However, she fought it off much harder than before and was able to remain alert and in full control of herself. She looked over to Rose and saw John snap out of his trance as well and survey the scene before him as Rose mouthed words to him that Kanaya couldn’t hear.

“No, apparently they didn’t. Rose I think was the first one to snap out of it, but she wouldn’t tell me how. You’ll have to ask her later. Now, how should we take down the Siren?” Karkat’s eyes started to glow red as he locked on the hemoglobin in Muse’s blood. Rose and John moved over to Kanaya and Karkat.

“Yeah, Karkat. Can you use your blood manipulation to get her to stop singing? We could all use the break from that.” Red eyes stayed locked on target.

“I’ll give it a shot,” was all that was said as Karkat took control of the hemoglobin. The action was so sudden, it startled Muse, who promptly stopped singing to glance down at her body. Realizing she couldn’t move on her own, the girl quickly tried to resume her song, but Karkat beat her to the punch. Using his control over the hemoglobin, he ceased the vocal cord vibrations as she tried to push wind past them to continue singing. Her green eyes widened marginally as she figured out he’d neutralized her power for the time being.

John gave him a soft pat on the shoulder, so as to not disturb him too much.

“Great job. I’ll knock her out. Rose, figure out how to take care of the other… wait. Where’s the other girl?” John asked, realizing that in the brief time they’d been focused on the Siren, she’d disappeared.

“Oar you looking for me?” a higher voice sounded from behind the four. All of them swiftly moved away from one another, Karkat’s concentration breaking for a split second to avoid the chubby girl’s touch. There was a smile present on her face as she straightened from her extension that she’d gone into in an attempt to touch one of the and sap the life right out. “You’ll never win. You know that, right? We’re too strong for you guppies,” she said, advancing on Rose who was the closest to her at that point. Karkat took that opportunity to regain his control over Muse, who’d begun to sing again. John looked to Rose and got a minute nod from her, indicating that she and Kanaya had everything under control.

So he moved in closer to the Siren, getting close enough to her to start taking away the air in the area. As he did so, he gestured to Karkat to relinquish his control, little by little. It would be ok. After all, the vocal cords needed air to vibrate well, and one couldn’t very well sing if they couldn’t even breathe, could they? Within a few moments, the Siren’s eyes rolled into the back of her head as she fainted from suffocation. John let out his own breath that he’d been holding without even realizing it, looking over at Karkat. Red eyes dimmed some with a nod of acknowledgement for a job well done before sliding over to his cousin and Rose, both fleeing from the life manipulator who was surprisingly quick. John looked at them and then over to the Striders who were still locked in combat with the plasma manipulator. Neither seemed to be getting a true upper hand, and it appeared that the plasma manipulator was actually beginning to tire from his exertion.

“Karkat. Control the life manipulator. Get Rose to fill her lungs with water to suffocate her to the point of passing out. I’ll be over as soon as I help Dirk and Dave take down the plasma manipulator. Move out!” he directed. As soon as the words left his mouth, both John and Karkat moved into action. Karkat ran over to the girls, eyes glowing bright red as he grabbed a hold of Witch’s hemoglobin, stopping her in her tracks.

“Rose! Fill her lungs with water until she passes out. Hurry! John’s orders,” Karkat stated best he could while maintaining control over the enemy while she tried fighting against it. Rose took that opportunity to do as instructed and willed Witch’s lungs to slowly fill with water, causing the girl to start coughing and sputtering as she began losing her ability to breathe. Her vision swam as she could feel her lungs struggling to intake oxygen and pump it through to her blood. As her blood slowed, Karkat’s hold began waning. Finally, Rose had the girl’s lungs completely filled as she finally passed out. When she hit the ground, Karkat’s control fully dissolved, and Rose dispersed the water.

“Good job, Karkat. Thank you for finally giving me an opportunity. Is the Siren down? I’m assuming so,” Rose stated as she glanced around, spotting that the siren had indeed been felled. Kanaya spoke up before Karkat could.

“As you have no use for me right now, I’m going over to help the boys. Tie these two up and meet me over there,” she said, darting over to Dirk, Dave, and John who were all struggling to keep up with the plasma manipulator. John was trying to move in closer in order to knock him out, but he’d shoot a blast at him, forcing him back every time. He was exceptionally vigilant and fast once he’d gotten his initial charge. Dave and Dirk were able to counter about 75% of his blasts. Others, they had to dodge and reconvene to hold him off from going over to any of the others. That just pissed him off even more, especially as his eyes darted over to the newcomer. A small look of confusion graced his face as he moved his head ever so slightly to take in the vision of his companions being knocked out and tied up.

“How dare you… HOW FUCKIN’ DARE YOU!” he screeched, his power seemingly increasing twofold in his anger with what he saw. John’s eyes widened as Prince shot a particularly nasty blast toward him with even more speed than usual. Kanaya barely had time to throw up a thick force field to block the attack from hitting John as the Striders needed just a little more time to charge their own attack. John took a deep breath as the shield defended him, but at the price of winding Kanaya. She dropped to one knee from the force it took to keep it from dissolving in the blast. Dirk and Dave took that moment to shoot off their own white hot electric blast toward Prince.

He countered it with another blast as Rose and Karkat ran up. Immediately, from one look at John, struggling to find an opening, Karkat’s eyes glowed bright red once more as he took control of the plasma manipulator. Finally, the constant attacks stopped, giving the Striders enough time to charge themselves up with one final blast to destroy the wand and take away his method of concentrating his attacks. John and Rose met glanced before taking the opportunity to get in close enough to down the last user. John thinned the air around him while Rose filled his lungs with water, effectively causing him to pass out much faster than the other two. He dropped not too long after, broken wand falling out of his hand in pieces on the ground.

It was over. Finally. All six were sweating and nearly light-headed from the over exertion of their powers, but they did it. All were alive and unscathed. They’d all managed to avoid serious injury as they dodged and attacked. They weren’t entirely sure how, but they owed it to their instructors for teaching them well. After a brief moment of calm, Rose quickly tied up the plasma manipulator. From there, John grabbed him, tossing him over his shoulder and directing the wind to carry the other two.

“Great work, you guys. Let’s go home.” The other five nodded and followed John as he led the way back to their headquarters, captives in tow. They left the carnage behind them, knowing they could do nothing for those that were injured or dead. It wasn’t their job, anyway, as much as it pained them to still hear the moans of pain and suffering as they made their retreat.

Normally, words would have been exchanged on the way back, but the group was too shaken and tired to really be able to talk about anything at the moment. When they finally reached their headquarters, John was close to passing out from his overexertion. Moving quickly was one thing, but the amount of concentration he’d needed in order to knock the two out that he did as well as carrying them with the wind for nearly an hour was beginning to weigh on him. The others seemed to notice, luckily, with Dirk and Dave stepping in to grab the bodies of the girls to carry back inside for John. They would have taken them before, but figured having them glide along at the same pace as everyone instead of slowing the Striders down was the better option. Getting home as quickly as possible was the most important thing.

When John realized he didn’t need to support two people with the wind anymore, he gave the brothers a grateful look as sweat dripped down his brow. He turned back to the entrance and put in the security code to enter. In the entranceway, Sage was waiting with his scientists and medical personnel as he had been the night before. His brown eyes widened in disbelief, taking in the sight of the six team members uninjured in front of him, holding the three users who’d been wreaking havoc. He heaved a huge sigh of relief and gestured to the scientists to take the three captives and the medical personnel to give the young adults a quick, surface look over. The six stood still for the professionals as they were poked and prodded, checked for injuries, internal bleeding, bruises, etc. When the personnel were content that nothing was immediately physically wrong with them, they stepped back and allowed Sage to move forward, directing all of them back into the debriefing room. Normally, he would have asked for the status report at the door, but seeing the exhaustion lacing their faces was enough to move them where they could sit down. All six of them collapsed (albeit, four more gracefully than the other two) into chairs, John having to blink furiously to clear the black that tinged the outskirts of his vision. He needed to stay awake long enough to tell Sage what happened.

“Well? What happened out there? How did you all make it back unscathed?” Right to the nitty-gritty. It was just like their boss to cut to the chase and not beat around the bush with unnecessary questions.

“We won, Sir,” was all John could muster for the time being. Even talking winded him a little. Rose, however, took over.

“We began as you said, with Dave and I creating a mist…” she began, reiterating the entirety, on her part, of the battle. Sage listened patiently, not asking questions as the situation was told to him, Dirk and Karkat piping in when they were needed seeing as they’d al split into pairs at one time. When the tale was finished, their boss nodded and looked directly at Rose.

“How were you able to dispel her song?”

“I honestly don’t know, Sir. I know that it didn’t cloud my mind as fully as everyone else’s. Logically, I knew there was no reason for me to fall victim to a simple song. I suppose that much be where that came from. I remember looking to my side and seeing a bright light heading for Dirk. I snapped out of it when I realized he wasn’t moving. That’s all I really know, Sir,” Rose explained to the best of her ability. “I will, however, allow myself to be subject to any number of tests with my mother and the Siren when we can trust her more in order to study the reasonings behind this phenomena, if you like.” Sage waved his hand in a dismissive manner.

“Don’t worry about it, Rose. We’ll cross that bridge when we can. So none of you were injured? How did you pull that off?”

“Our training, Sir,” answered Dirk. “Sure some of us are fast, but mostly we had good defensive training that stuck with us. That’s how we were able to move out of the way in a way to not receive any injuries and to move back together as quickly as possible.” Sage nodded and smiled at them all, tears forming in his eyes but not spilling over.

“I’m so happy none of you are hurt, and I am immensely proud of you for managing to accomplish this,” he said, moving around the table to give each of them a hug, seeing as they were too tired to really move. “You all have the rest of the day off along with the next couple to recuperate and regain your strength. If you can, please make sure you eat at least a little something before sleeping you exhaustion off. Your bodies probably desperately need food, seeing as I interrupted lunch for most of you.” They all nodded and forced themselves to stand. Before anyone could take a step, John fell over in a dead faint, his exhaustion winning as soon as he stood up. A chorus of cries of his name echoed in the room as Dave flash-stepped over to him to catch him before he hit the ground.

“John? Dude? You ok? Wake up, man,” Dave tried in an effort to wake his best friend. Sage came up beside him and took John from him. He lightly smacked his face and checked the young man’s pulse. He sighed slightly in relief.

“He just passed out, probably from overexertion. I’ll take him to his room. The rest of you head to the dining room. Dinner is about to start, and, again, I want you all to eat something before you go to your rooms.” With that, the man picked up the wind manipulator and carried him off to his room to put him to bed, making a note to have staff on standby for when he woke up to get him food and drink.

The other five watched as their boss walked off with the sixth member of their team before turning to one another.

“He’ll be fine, Dave,” reassured Rose just as Dirk put his hand on his little brother’s shoulder. Kanaya offered him a small smile as Karkat opened his mouth.

“Yeah. That asshole like, literally can’t die. He’s too stubborn. He’ll be up and about in no time, pranking everyone again and overall being a douchefuck, probably as early as tomorrow morning. Now quit your worrying and move it. I’m fucking hungry enough to eat an entire cow by myself.” Dave shook his head and straightened himself up as the others made their way to the dining room.

When they got there, the rest of their group was already seated and had begun eating. The battle had taken a lot longer than they had expected. How long had they even been struggling against those three? Regardless, they all took their seats as everyone converged on them, asking a million questions and freaking out over the lack of John’s presence. The five present all ignored the questions for the moment, choosing to fill their plates and begin eating before tackling everything. Things would be ok… for now, at least.


The sounds of crashing and things breaking sounded throughout the place as well as screams of frustration and heartbreak. A man with pitch black hair and red eyes could be seen standing outside the door all the chaos was going on behind. He debated whether or not to go in, seeing as the reason why the woman inside was angry was, in part, due to him. Ultimately, against his better judgment, he decided to enter the room only to have an antique glass car battery thrown at his head. He barely managed to duck in time. However, the few seconds it took to ensure his head wasn’t hurt gave more than enough time for the woman with thick, curly black hair to be standing right in front of him.

“You. This is all your fault. How the HELL could I have listened to you and your asinine suggestion? Hmmm?” she questioned, obciously barely restraining herself from hitting him. “Well, because of you, she’s gone. My DAUGHTER is gone. What do you have to say for yourself, Caliborn?” The fact that the woman used his given name showed just how furious she was with him.

“You see, Empress, I merely suggested things. Your daughter got taken on her own. I had no part in handing her over to the enemy.” Caliborn desperately tried to plead with her that the circumstances were not his doing. However, his phrasing had never been his strong suit, especially when faced with an angry woman. ‘Hell hath no fury’ and whatnot.

“But you suggested that I send her out. And now she’s gone, taken by that awful organization that wants to keep itself hidden. They want to hide who we are and what we can do. And now, my ONLY DAUGHTER is there. Not here. THERE. And it was YOU who suggested I send HER out. And I listened! How idiotic must I have been?!” With that, the woman collapsed on the chair near the corner of the room, covering her face with a hand and shielding her eyes from her company. The chair, surprisingly, was the only thing not upturned or damaged in any way. Though, Caliborn wasn’t sure how much longer that would be for.

“I just figured she’d be strong enough. Apparently-” The man was abruptly cut off by a very low and curt voice.

“Do not even THINK of finishing that sentence, Caliborn. Not unless you want your head to literally be ripped off your body by Gamzee or Equius.” Caliborn’s jaw snapped shut against his will. The aforementioned men had always given Caliborn the willies. Gamzee was fine up until a point, but Equius… He shuddered thinking about the latter. The Empress heaved a sigh and uncovered her face. “Not to mention, we’ve also lost our rare plasma manipulator as well as our sound manipulator.” She paused momentarily, meeting eyes with him. “Why aren’t you upset by the capture of your sister, by the way?”

“Because I never liked her anyway. She was just valuable to your cause, so I brought her in when I searched for you,” he explained, shrugging his shoulders. His sister honestly meant nothing to him and was a burden anyway. She did, however, have a valuable power. He wasn’t lying about that.

“Right. Anyway, we’ve lost three of our best users today and this is all because of your completely stupid, ignorant, and not to mention arrogant suggestion that we get started this early instead of waiting for the right time.” Caliborn recoiled in offense.

“Hold on just a damn minute! You were the one who decided to listen to me! You know that all I did was give an opinion. You’ve always been the one to see the right time to do things rather than me. I can’t even get up on time or sense the mood of the conversation. What the hell actually made you think it was a smart idea listening to me? Don’t you try to pin this on me, Candace!” Caliborn shouted, trying to defend himself against the ‘leader’ of the organization. The sound of her given name rather than her code name caused the woman’s eyes to narrow. She stood, pulling herself up to her full height of 6’4” and towered over Caliborn. The man, however, was stupid and stood up straighter, too, as if challenging her.

“I will pin this on you if I so desire, Caliborn. What the hell can you do to stop me? Hm? Shall I demonstrate my power for you again, on you, so that you may fully understand that I am in charge, and if I say something is someone’s fault, my word goes?” Her voice took on a mocking tone by the end of her small speech, causing goosebumps to go down Caliborn’s back.

“There’s no need for threats, Empress. We simply need to find a way to get them back and make that damned organization pay. May I suggest-”

“NO. You may NOT suggest anything. I am THROUGH listening to you. Leave my sight before I MAKE you leave,” she threatened. Before either could move, there was a knock at the door with a mid-tone, whiny voice coming through.

“Oh my goooood. Can you two just fuck or something and get on with it? You’re making too much of a ruckus and SOME of us are trying to get their beauty sleep. I need to be well-rested, after all.” Candace gave Caliborn one last snarling look, pushing past him to throw open the door.

“What the hell do you want, Vriska?” A shorter woman with long, messy blonde hair and glasses gave the taller woman a disinterested stare.

“I just said that you two needed to-”

“Yes, I got that. Was there anything else?” Candace’s patience always ran thin with Melissa’s girl, but she’d proved herself too useful to just kill. So Candace dealt with her.

“Yeah. When’s Eridan getting back? He promised we’d spar today and I want any excuse I can get to kick that faggot’s ass,” she answered, smirk on her face.

“Too bad for you, Vriska. He’s been taken by that damnable organization that’s been taking down some of our other members.” A blonde eyebrow raised in interest.

“Really, now? That’s iiiiinteresting. So he’s going to need someone to SAVE his ass this time. I volunteer. AND I know someone else who’s be DYING to get him back for being a douchebag that can come with me.” Vriska looked at Candace with a face that screamed that she was plotting something evil. Candace looked her up and down, considering. “I mean, you don’t haaaaaave to send me, but you know that with my luck, something will go better than anticipated.”

“Fine. You can go. However, you’ll be taking three others. One of your choice and two of mine. The two of mine will be Maid and Page. After all, I did steal them away from that organization YEARS ago. Why not use them?” The two shared a conniving look.

“Works for me. You know, as long as I’m in charge. And my choice is Mage. He’s been pissed off at Eri for even existing for a long time, so this should be fun.” Vriska flipped some of her blonde hair over her shoulder. Candace nodded to her.

“Gather your team and train for a little before heading out there. The teams that organization sends out actually know how to work together. That’s probably how those three got captured.”

“Blah blah training. Blah blah teamwork. Got it. Whatever. Can I go now?”

“Get out of my sight.” Vriska held up a hand and turned on her heel to stalk off and gather her team members.

“Have fun pegging Caliborn!” she called over her shoulder. A vase was thrown at her head, but it missed by several inches. Vriska didn’t even flinch. Candace grumbled in disdain.

“God, she’s just as bad as her mother was…” When the woman turned around, she was met with the sight of Caliborn standing in front of her still. “What the hell are you still doing here? I told you to get out.”

“Aww… but aren’t you going to peg me, Empress?” he asked, mocking. The woman’s eyes narrowed harshly as her face took on a snarl. Caliborn’s eyes widened as he scurried around her, trying to avoid her wrath. She took a swing at him as he passed by, catching him in the middle of the back and propelling him out of the room. She slammed the door and proceeded breaking things in the room to finish taking out her anger and aggression.

Caliborn rubbed at the spot on his back, pretty sure it would heavily bruise the next (damn woman was stronger than she looked) and carried on his normal day.

Meanwhile, Vriska grinned as she walked into the common area, spotting the three people she needed most. Going over to a blond with headphones on at a computer, she ripped the headpiece off and spun him around, disturbing his typing.

“Hey Solfucks. I need you for something,” she said before he could even open his mouth to complain.

“First of all, VS, what the fuck do you think you’re doing? You can’t just take me away from my coding like that. I was right in the middle of something important. Second, my name is SOLLUX. Not ‘Solfucks’ or whatever the shit you just said,” he started, prominent lisp lacing every word with an ‘s’ sound.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. Who cares. You do this all the time. I’m sure it’ll be there when we get back.” She put her hands on her hips and glared at the seated man.

“Get back from where, bitch?” he asked, glaring at Vriska with all the hatred in the world.

“Get back from our mission, of course. You’re coming with me and two others.” She purposely left the mission out of her statement.

“I’m not going anywhere with you until you tell me what the mission is,” Sollux said, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair. Vriska rolled her eyes and raised an eyebrow at him.

“You seriously need to ask? It’s like, the best mission ever. And I’M the leader. You just need to come with me. I don’t make the rules.” She shrugged with a haughty look on her face while Sollux didn’t move.

“What. Is. The. Mission?”

“Ugh, FINE! I’ll tell you.” Vriska rolled her eyes even harder and crossed her own arms, putting all her weight on one left and jutting the other hip out. “Our mission is to do a rescue thing. Appaaaarently, Feferi, Callie, and Eri got themselves captured on THEIR mission yesterday, so now WE have to go after them.” Sollux actually perked up a little, hearing the others had failed.

“Seriously? FF, ED, and CL got captured? Who the hell were they up against?”

“Oh, you know, that OTHER organization. SBurb or something stupid like that,” said Vriska, tossing her hair over her shoulder again. “So are you coming with me or not? This is a direct order from Empress, after all. You sure you want to defy her?” Sollux’s heterochromic brown and blue eyes narrowed as he processed Vriska’s words.

“No, I wouldn’t want to do that. Who else is going to be on our team? Surely, after that, she wouldn’t just send us two.”

“Uh, DUUUUUUH! Of course not. I chose to bring you along, and Empress chose two others to come with. Why not fight fire with fire? She chose Maid and Page,” Vriska said, glancing over at the two in question, sitting on the couch together, talking quietly. Sollux followed her gaze.

“Right. She stole them from that organization a while ago, didn’t she?”

“Yuuuuup! So now, it’s time to get even. You in?” Vriska questioned, turning her attention back to Sollux. He just nodded and turned around to face the computer again, doing a few quick strokes on the keyboard and shutting it down.

“I’m ready. Let’s grab them and go.” Vriska scoffed at him as he finished up whatever he was doing and stood, lanky body standing a good few inches taller than her.

“Hey. I’m the leader here. Not you, twiggy. Now, let’s go get them and head to the training area.” With that, Vriska stalked off to the couch, Sollux in tow.

“The training area? Why the hell do we need to go there?” His question didn’t slow the blonde down.

“Empress said we needed to learn how to ‘work together’,” she said using air quotes. “Apparently, that must have been a factor for those three idiots getting captured. The SBurb guys know how to work with one another.”

“Seriously? That’s so stupid. Why can’t we just avoid each other and separate them? Take them down individually?” commented Sollux. Vriska shrugged.

“Doesn’t work well, I guess.” By that point, the two had reached the couch. “Hey losers. We have a mission. Get your asses to the training room pronto.” Crystalline blue and bright green eyes turned to meet Vriska’s.

“Do we have to?” questioned the one with the green eyes.

“Empress’ orders,” answered Vriska. The two on the couch looked at each other and stood.

“Very well. Lead the way.”