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The Best Defense #73




Schulmanator: Things are going to get intense and weird, very, very soon.

Benedict: We're within sight of 100 issues. Something special is upon us. And last issue has got to be the fourth or fifth time 'harlot' has appeared in a city journal! I used it just a few issues ago!

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Media Week draws to a close, and just as Coyote Versus, the trouble-making bounty hunter shows up, adding himself to the team. Why? Why does he want to be a part of them? Gragus showed up, too. Apparently, Port Matthew is a Nexus point, a place from which one may access any other reality or dimension. Gragus claimed someone is going to attack it, or use it for no good. But who? Why? Oh, and Morning Angel still wants to escape The Mines.


The PM Fuji TV studios in Fuji-Cho...

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: This week on Orange Hour, you'll get to enjoy orange skits...

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: ...Musical guest Orange Range...

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: ...Special guest, Ryan Blackwell...

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: ...And not just one...

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: ...But two super-powered hosts!

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Well, no. Just one. Just one super-powered host, and a sensational host.

OrangeHourDirector_zps80198dcc.jpg Orange Hour Director: Aaaaand, cut!

The director cut off Sensational Girl and Juliet and walked over to them.

OrangeHourDirector_zps80198dcc.jpg Orange Hour Director: Only three takes to get it perfect, you girls are-

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Super and sensational? We know.

OrangeHourDirector_zps80198dcc.jpg Orange Hour Director: Right. Anyways, we've got one more commercial we wanna set up, then the rest of the morning, we have a small role for each of you to play in a skit a piece and another in a skit together, and then the afternoon will be spent with our writers getting your hosting duties down pat. Thanks for coming out for this, ladies.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Oh, you're so welcome! I just LOVE the Orange Hour! Sensational Girl does, too. Don't you, Sensational Girl?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Yup, like, totally.

Great. Come on, here are your scripts for the next shoot. I'll go talk to the camera guys and we'll be set up in a few minutes.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Okay.

They watched the director walk away and then Sensational Girl looked at Juliet.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: You know, this really isn't as bad as I was afraid it would be.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: I love this stuff! This was always the best part of the job when I was here before. You know, you should listen to me more often, I've been a legitimate superhero for a long time. You know?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh, I know, you were pretty great. I'm really sorry for what happened befo-

Juliet's smile suddenly vanished.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: No, don't mention it. I'm not thinking about it anymore. I'm moving on, conquering my demons, I have my solutions.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh. Okay.

Sensational Girl gave Juliet a guarded expression, then her teammate turned genial once more and before long they were smiling again.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: So, like, do you know when Cosmette's segments are gonna be on TV? I totally wanna see it, even if I'm not five years old!

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: No idea, I asked her and Taro and neither of them received word yet.

An assistant director appeared and handed them the scripts for the skits they would be appearing in and vanished in the swirling mass of crew members and young comedians.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Looks like we'll be on soon...

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Yeah, we're separated for a while, too. I had a buncha things I wanted to ask you...

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Well, we'll have time later. It's not like you don't know where I live!

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Hahahaha, that's so true! You're so funny, Sensational Girl, you'd be a natural fit on this show if you were gonna be a comedy girl instead of a super girl.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: A Sensational Girl, you mean. Well, let's get going. We have to get these rehearsals down before the taping tonight.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Okay!

They stood and let new assistant directors (who were waiting patiently nearby) to lead them in different directions for their practices...



Coyote Versus leaned on a counter in the club house and looked over at the big man. Gragus spared him a glance and sighed, walking over to the big glass windows to stare out at the bay.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: So Gragus, what dangerous foe are we gonna beat down who wants to get at the Nexus?

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Should I know the identity of our new mystery villain, I am not sure I would tell you.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Betcha it's Morning Angel.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Impossible. Morning Angel is dead.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Nope.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: What do you know?

Gragus, hiding his surprise at Versus with the overwhelming contempt he felt towards the man, turned and glared at the former bounty hunter.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Morning Angel is alive, she's being kept in a special cell somewhere under Fort Mison. That's where Sensational Girl and Titus were when I first got here.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: How do you know such a thing? Why should I trust the word of a known liar and scoundrel?

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Gragus, you wield cosmic powers. If you didn't, I'd lie my ass off to you, but as it is...

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Answer my question.

Coyote Versus met Gragus' look of displeasure with his most amused smile.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Will this be the only time ever where I get to lord something over you? If so, I gotta soak up the moment. I don't get to do this very often with a cosmic being.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: I am seriously considering inflicting great harm-

Versus gave him a thumbs up and spoke quickly.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Okay, got it, I'm good. I do my homework, Gragus. I talk to my new teammates, and I learn what I can whenever the opportunity presents itself. When they beat Morning Angel last year, it sure did look like she was dead, or at least on death's doorstep. I thought she was dead right up until I finally got here. But when they took her body into custody, they discovered that she was unkillable.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: She is immortal?

Gragus' face was slowly losing its hostility as Versus shared his information.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Well, yeah, but then again not exactly.

Versus sighed and looked away.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: I have a hard time understanding the whole thing, but a woman like her who probably should be offed can't be, not by any conventional means, nor even the combined might of the Defenders and their magical friends. So, indefinite incarceration it became, and from what I gather, she's trying to break free.

Gragus turned back towards the window and thought about the information. Morning Angel had been seeking a way to enhance her waning powers after the third team of Defenders retired. She was slightly bitter after the ordeal, feeling as though she was being forced out, that the Best Defense was not doing enough to help, to do more proactive good. It was not the best of terms upon which she had left the new team, nor her former teammates. Gragus thus knew that she had been extremely dissatisfied with Crimson Knight's quiet life of introspective retirement and had left him in search of something more. She had even approached Gragus with requests for aid, sounding even more tyrranical than he was himself. It was part of the reason Gragus began to moderate his actions, increasingly allying himself with the Defenders as increasingly unstable beings like Morning Angel threatened his continued existence.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: You know something about this, Gragus?

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: No. I believed the Defenders had killed her. They do not murder their foes, as such the lack of information on their battle made me think that they were ashamed at having to resort to killing someone to end a fight. It is... surprising that you have learned this much.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: My experience here on earth has made me painfully aware that you have to do your homework before you go into business with someone, and never stop once you're there.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Indeed. There is much to consider on this matter. Come, I must know more.

Coyote Versus amazingly stayed quiet, but nonetheless followed Gragus out of the club house for the computer room. His adventure on earth was becoming more and more interesting, and his new friends were proving to be much more complicated than he could have imagined. What fun this was!



At lunch in their dressing room, Juliet and Sensational Girl enjoyed a few brief moments of quiet privacy away from the hustling and autograph requests during the morning rehearsals. Things were going smoothly with the preparations for the show, and the both leaned back in their low chairs at the low table on the floor and sighed. Their lunch, bentos provided by the production company with fish, rice, pickled vegetables, and orange slices (naturally), was delicious and soon finished, with time to spare.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: So Sensational Girl...

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Hm?

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: When you joined the Best Defense, did you know that this island connected to a bunch of different worlds?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: No, no way. That's almost like, science fiction stuff. I wouldn't have believed it without Gragus showing up and like, being scary.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Hahah, Gragus is completely scary, but then again, you haven't had to fight him so he can't be that scary.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Hehe, well, no, I guess not...

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: It's scarier to me that someone wants to use the island to do something. Can you imagine the terrible things that you could do with a place that touches a buncha other worlds?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: You mean like Zama?

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Zama?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh, right. He was like, this warlord from another world. He wanted to bring like this army of super idiots to Port Matthew and conquer the world or some stupid thing.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Wow, and you guys beat him?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Hehe, I beat him!

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Ooo, there is more to you than it seems!

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, I'm like, totally clever and powerful, or whatever. But why would you want to use the Lexus or whatever it's called to do evil stuff? If you could use it do evil stuff, then you could probably use it to do good stuff, right?

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Nexus, yeah, I know what you mean! We could bring alternate Defenders here, or other world's superheroes and good guys, we could make this world the safest place ever!

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: But what about the other worlds? We couldn't just leave them defenseless. I think there's a reason that we didn't know about the Lexus-

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Nexus.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Whatever, cuz like, we're not supposed to mess with it. Maybe that's why only bad guys try to use it, because they're bad.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Some of them probably don't see it that way.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Hm, I guess so. Zama totally did though. Called himself the Evil Tyrant. Who came up with that name? Totally lame.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Hahaha, are you serious?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Totally!

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: That's hilarious! It's like asking to have your butt kicked by a good guy!

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Totally!

The girls laughed and at the knock on the door, an assistant director poked his head in to lead them back to rehearsal. Gotta make the donuts.

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