REPLI- uh, reply.
SCHULMANATOR: So awesome, you get all caps. Welp, I think bracing would be as good an idea as any at this point!
PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Morning Angel's hiding under Defenders' HQ. She knows the building pretty well, she used to live there when she was a Defender years ago. She's got someone aiding her on the inside, I wonder who? And our heroes are still several steps behind. It continues below!
Sensational Girl flung the door to the control room open in one of the upper floors of Defenders' HQ.
Sensational Girl: Coyote Versus! We have a new teammate kind of!
Versus looked back to see Sensational Girl lead in the blue-skirted Mizu-no-Hime and a girl taller than she was in a green skirt. She was pretty for sure, but there was something rough about her, something unpolished.
Sensational Girl: She's still in school at Southport, we'll have to train her a little on the computers. She's gonna join Hoshi-Hime and Mizu-no-Hime and Hi-no-Hime.
Coyote Versus: Hi-no-Hime disappeared with Juliet a little while ago. Cosmette and Titus are checking it out. Hoshi-Hime, nobody's seen her since before that chick zapped everything in Fuji-Cho.
Inazuma-Hime: Hey, it wasn't my fault-
Coyote Versus: Yeah, yeah. Look, do you have anything fun or exciting for me to do, or are you just gonna keep sitting me here in front of these floating monitors everyday? I'm gonna get fat and soft doing this. You should really hire someone to do monitor duty. I can't believe you don't have anyone.
Sensational Girl: That's a good idea. Let's kick Morning Angel's butt and then talk about that. When are Cosmette and Titus and Juliet coming back?
Coyote Versus: Didn't you listen? Juliet and Hi-no-Hime disappeared a little while ago.
Versus looked at her impatiently.
Sensational Girl: Oh yeah! That's totally what you said! Did you find Morning Angel yet? I gotta know so I can like, psyche myself up for turning off her power.
Versus looked at her in annoyance, but she just smiled at him happily and he couldn't help himself but to chuckle back at her. It was indeed better to have her in the room, even if she wasn't always all the way there. Gragus joined them in the room.
Gragus: Who is this?
Coyote Versus: Gragus, hey, you turned your communicator off. I was getting worried about you.
Gragus: Worry not, halfling. Who is this?
Sensational Girl: Uh, this is... uh, this is Inazuma-Hime...
Sensational Girl knew exactly how powerful he was, and did not think she would ever get over his presence.
Sensational Girl: She's new, she's with the magical girls.
Sensational Girl watched him inspect the girls, and was impressed by Mizu-no-Hime's ability to meet his eyes without losing her composure. Inazuma-Hime, barely in possession of her powers for more than a few hours, cowered immediately in front of him. He directed his attention back towards Versus.
Gragus: You. Recall Titus and Cosmette. It is time to change tactics. We will not bring Morning Angel out of hiding by flying aimlessly over the island.
Coyote Versus: Figure that out just now, did you?
Versus muttered to himself as he turned to the computer to radio their teammates back.
Coyote Versus: Titus, Cosmette, hey...
Gragus: I will wait in the meeting room. Come there when you are assembled.
Gragus left the room and Versus exchanged looks with the girls.
Coyote Versus: Well, I gotta say, it's a lot nicer to be in this room with just you three than it is with him. Titus and Cosmette will be here soon. We'll wait here for them and go in together.
Sensational Girl: Okay.
Gragus: It is time to try something different. Circumstances have changed, especially with two more missing without a trace, and we shall now change to take advantage of them.
Titus: What changed? Do you have some new information for us?
Gragus: Our focus will now be Morning Angel, and only Morning Angel. We cannot afford to waste resources on the other escapees when she is out there waiting to pull reality apart.
Cosmette: What about Juliet and Hi-no-Hime? Their trail ended at the end of a sidewalk near the PM Fuji TV Building. I think we should be following up on that, too.
Gragus: What do you propose we do?
Cosmette: I don't really know... It just, it seems like it needs to be looked into. Their signals just died, for no reason.
Juliet: Whose signals just died?
Juliet suddenly walked into the meeting room with Hi-no-Hime in tow.
Juliet: What's going on? You called a meeting and didn't invite me? That's not nice.
Cosmette: Juliet! Where were you? I thought you disappeared?!
Cosmette looked at her, surprised. It was a rare thing to surprise a cosmic being.
Juliet: Disappeared? What? What are you talking about, nerdgirl? I was always right where I was. Hi-no-Hime was with me the whole time. Right?
Hi-no-Hime: Right. We learned a little bit more about this thing.
Titus: What did you find out?
Juliet: Whoever it is behind this thing-
Gragus: We know who it is. It's Morning Angel and she has a boy named Naruki Matsuzaka working for her. It must be this way, there is no other way it could be.
Juliet: Okay, fine, we'll just accept your assumptions.
Juliet began her flippant response, but seeing the look on Gragus' face, she immediately turned modest and sincere.
Juliet: Well, Naruki, he's a magic user, the same kind of magic that the magical girls use, only he has a different kind he specializes in.
Hi-no-Hime: Yes, Juliet says that he's an illusionist of some sort, that he can conceal almost anything from anyone. Apparently, he can use his magic to enchant others, too. We could track his magic and he had Hoshi-Hime with him.
Laurinette: I've heard rumors of this. He's not supposed to exist. We're not prepared to face anything like him.
Titus: You may not be, but we are. If your magical girls are facing off with the best hide and seek player ever, someone who can influence your minds as well, then, yeah, you're in trouble. We're not. Eikyou's telepathic defenses work even now, and with Sensational Girl on our side, there's little they could do that we couldn't stop. You guys are good, I will give you some credit. But we're the Defenders.
Sensational Girl: So how can we find him? You said he's good at hiding, right? How can we find him?
Juliet: I bet before too long he'll come for us. He has Hoshi-Hime, right? Why not just collect the whole set?
Gragus: We will not wait for them to come to us. I said it is time to change tactics. I have brought with m-
Alternate Fearless #1: Hey, how did you get here so fast?
The occupants of the room turned to see Fearless and Eikyou walking back into the room. It was them, for sure, but somehow-
Sensational Girl: Wrong! This is wrong! You both feel wrong!
Sensational Girl jumped, pointing at them.
Alternate Eikyou #1: Kari, this is no time for your jokes, we just got done putting El Nuevo down for good, we need to talk to Captain Walker and get our lines ready for the press. Honestly, joke after joke after joke, we all get so tir...
And then they faded from view. The Defenders, Gragus, the magical girls, Austin and Laurinette stared at the spot with the not-quite Fearless and Eikyou for a moment longer, wondering if their eyes had deceived them.
Coyote Versus: That was...
Gragus: It has started. This Matsuzaka person is helping hide Morning Angel from detection while she endeavors to tear reality to pieces. They have a friend who is helping them keep us off balance within this very building. Make no mistake, we face a danger far greater than we have ever faced before. Make yourselves prepared. I will build a device to uncover his magic. Take a short rest. When you come back my device will be ready.