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Defenders ON AN ALIEN PLANET! Now with amazing, new photo editing!

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NMUSpidey

The Defenders are lost on another planet, completely at the mercy of the Remorans and their Coyote-Versus-described space nazi army! But worse, how are they going to make it home? And what happened to Titus? Can they rescue him? Or maybe they should more afraid for themselves. But first...

REPLIES!

Schulmanator: There is no trusting the Unlucky Dude. Chads are apparently hard to trust.

slickbg56: Yeah, things are not looking good at all...

Tonraq: I know. Poor Titus. And Chad's not just unlucky, he's careless!

Kim Sunwoo: Those nannites really amped up his armor, but there's a price to pay for it, apparently. And that image, wow, I'm totally stealing it and using it in this entry. I may have to include some more of my special edits, though...

Mymyjp: Thank you very much! There are a whole love more space nazis and we even get to meet a space SS guy next! And thanks to Kim Sunwoo, my special effects this issue have taken a BIG step forward!

And now, TBD #118!!

Remoran%20City%203_zpsfmzzyhvz.jpg

Fearless, Eikyou, and Versus were in shackles at a table in front of a Remoran interrogator in what appeared to be a park a few blocks away from where Eikyou had been blasted unconscious by Zama. The ground still rumbled periodically from the battle between the Remoran forces (which now included Titus) and Zama at what they had been informed was a military installation of some sort. Fearless stared at the interrogator imperiously, waiting for him to tell them their fate.

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpg Remoran Interrogator: Earthers in our home... Inconceivable. You were to be kept to your pathetic planet on the other side of the galaxy, and yet here we have you.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: We're not the only ones you have. Where's my family?

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpgRemoran Interrogator: You are in no position to ask any questions. How did you get here?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We walked through a door.

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpgRemoran Interrogator: Yes, a door. It must have been a very special door.

There was no answer from Fearless, who kept his steely gaze locked on the interrogator, nor from Versus who smirked at him. Eikyou was slumped over between them, apparently not yet recovered from her fight.

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpgRemoran Interrogator: What is your purpose in our home?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: To find another Earther and take him back to Earth before he could start an incident.

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpgRemoran Interrogator: An incident? You see, we are far past an incident now.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Zama is not our problem. You can deal with him however you want. We want our other Earther, our teammates, and we want to go home. You'll never hear from us again.

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpgRemoran Interrogator: You are in no position to be making demands of us.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: You are in no position to keep us tied up here. Let us go get our other Earthers and we'll leave peacefully. Otherwise, you're going to be suffering a lot more than you are now.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Fearless, there are seven soldiers around us, and all I sense from them is fear. If Versus can get out of his shackles, I believe they will run.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: I'd like a little more certainty than 'believe.'

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: Watch our questioner turn suddenly unsure of himself. These people remind me of the Takers, they seem especially susceptible to my powers.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Great.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Hey you guys, why do your voices sound so staticky in my head? Aren't you right there? Shouldn't they be clearer?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: I am not a natural telepath, and using my powers like this is difficult. I can do nothing about the static without Sensational Girl's help. I am sorry.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: I wouldn't worry about it. The Remorans are the ones who should be worried. Any time you're ready, Versus, go ahead and bust us out of here.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: This might be a stupid thing to suggest, but couldn't we get ourselves transported to jail? Then we could break out my family, too.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Risky... I'd rather not put us at continuous risk like this. We still have a chance at rescuing Cosmette and the other Earther-

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: Chad.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Yes, Chad, and returning relatively unscathed.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: But what about Titus?

At that point Versus and Fearless exchanged glances, alerting the interrogator that something was awry. He stopped his sickly smiling and snapped orders off to the guards around them.

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpgRemoran Interrogator: Separate them. Send them to different installations, keep the female from waking.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Versus?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Fine.

Versus sighed, then flexed his muscles and tore free from the restraints as the first guard reached him.

Remoran%20Interrogator_zpsff0klrme.jpgRemoran Interrogator: They're free! Subdue them! Use any means necessary!

But Eikyou had been using her powers, and pandemonium erupted. The guards screamed in horror as Versus disarmed one of them and stole his weapon. He aimed it at the interrogator and blasted him unconscious.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Aw, man, stun rounds only??

Coyote Versus then set about smashing Fearless and Eikyou's restraints, and then they were running.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Versus, I'm beginning to think that leaving your family here with these people would be a bad idea! Do you know where they're located?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: I have... some ideas. We might be able to find out at that place, though!

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: Cosmette is coming to, finally.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Tell her to stay put. I'll give the order for her to join us.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Gotcha, Fearless. Wow, with this fuzz in our conversation, it makes me feel almost nostalgic! And also, I really miss Sensational Girl...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: We'll get back and see her again. Just wait for my order.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpgCosmette: Yes, sir!

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: Oh, no!

The military installation was in the middle of being reduced to rubble. Titus, with the backup of the Remoran military, was holding his own against Zama, but the city around them was suffering for it. There was no sign of Chad.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: You think we can sneak past this ridiculousness and get inside the building?

Fearless glanced at Eikyou.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: The Remorans are focused completely on Zama. Zama has his hands full with Titus. Titus... It is as though he is not there.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: We should be able to make it. Stay put, we'll be right there.

d6bf4121-5b51-4cd9-bf4a-368474659a77_zps2tfiqzfk.jpg

The battle overhead was explosive. Waves after wave of energy blasted against the ground, flattening the grass and kicking up dust. Zama and Titus blocked each others' attacks with ease, and the Remoran soldiers were at a loss with how to deal with the powers being used overhead. No one noticed Fearless, Eikyou, and Coyote Versus sneak through the fog of war to the building to meet Cosmette. She waved at them from the top her impact tunnel. The ground shuddered, and they looked over to see Zama, dissatisfaction plain on his face, rise from the ground to collide with Titus in midair. Neither could quite get a solid edge on the other.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpgCosmette: Titus got real strong...

They watched him grapple with Zama as they careened through the air and eventually away from the military installation.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Yeah, and it don't seem like he's one of us anymore... Come on, we gotta get into this place.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Do you know how?

Versus stopped in his tracks and frowned.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Uh... no.

Versus sighed. Again.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: This mission is not anything like I imagined it'd be.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: What do you mean?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Well, it's hard enough to come here to the Remoran homeworld, right? And once here, it's even harder to blend in, so I thought it would be pretty easy to find that dolt who wandered over here, probably in prison mostly likely with my parents. We'd bust them out and get our asses back through the door and that would be the end of it. It couldn't have been that easy though, huh?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: None of us could have known Zama was here.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Except that guy, what did you say his name was?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: Chad.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Yeah, if he knew about getting powers in Mt. Plains twice somehow, then maybe he knew that like, Zama was going to be here no looking for this thing.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: It is still strange that he knows what he knows in the first place. I would like some answers about him before this is over.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Maybe we'll be getting them soon.

Fearless pointed at Chad sneaking through the rubble.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpgCosmette: Did he see us yet?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: It does not appear so. He is very focused on getting into this building. He seems to think that there is something special about it.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Versus?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: Look, the only time I was ever even in the same solar system as this planet was when my dad kicked me out of our ship so I could avoid being captured.

He was visibly distraught, fidgeting with his gloves and shifting his weight from leg to leg.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpgCoyote Versus: I only know a little bit about it, and whatever this place is is not something I managed to learn.

The Defenders exchanged uneasy glances.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpgCosmette: Charge?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Charge. A sneaky charge, through the rubble under cover. We take no risks, but we get need to get in there and find out what's so special about this place.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpgCosmette: Let's go!

Cosmette flew ahead, streaking across the street amidst the smoldering vehicles and holes blasted into the ground by the forces at battle overhead. Looking ahead, they watched Chad complete his lucky sprint across the field beneath Zama and Titus for the slowly collapsing UFO-looking building. He disappeared inside.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: I'm... wait, stop. I'm hearing things happening underground. Everyone's being evacuated, they're getting ready to use- I'm sorry, run, get to that building.

They snapped into motion, ignoring the commotion they caused. Zama tried taking a shot at them, shouting some unintelligible threat, but Titus' tenacious attacks caused him to be off target. They were within a few dozen yards of the building when the entire complex hummed to life and began to shift over them. A series of cannons emerged from various points on the complex above them, and took aim at Zama and at them. They were still running, even as the entire world exploded into heat and light and pain...

NMUSpidey

So most of our heroes are whisked off to the other side of the galaxy and Sensational Girl and the two top-ranking Power Unit officers are trapped in Defenders' HQ. For this chapter, we'll go see what surprises await for us in space as well as some frankly amazing photo editing, but first...

REPLIES!

Kim Sunwoo: Well, these guys did show up in an alternate version of PM. Their ship is where Titus got his new-and-much-improved, nannite-enhanced, uh, nannite armor. I'm sure that there's nothing to worry about there, though.

Schulmanator: Yup! Action's right around the corner! Brought on not just by our new friend Unlucky Dude, but also an old 'friend'...

Mymyjp: Thank you very much! We're going to spend most of these next few issues in space, though. But I'm sure that Sensational Girl and her Power Unit friends will find a way out. Oh, and don't forget Ami.

And now, The Best Defense #116!

Remoran%20City%201_zpsewihep5t.jpg

The passers-by had taken notice of them. The Defenders were dressed very strangely indeed, a man and a woman in what amounted to paramilitary uniforms, a young girl covered in chrome, Titus in his armor dressed up for war, and Versus dressed up in Solo-chic (“For the ladies,” he tells them).

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We're going to be the ones to start an incident. Let's get moving. Sakae said that he probably didn't make it far since he's not a Remoran. Versus, any ideas where he could go?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: None at all. I never thought anyone would be stupid enough to come here with no preparation at all.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: And yet, here we are. We're picking up several calls made to the police. Police bands here are telling me that there's some kind of gestapo-

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Space gestapo.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Whatever, but they're triangulating around us right now. Do we prepare to fight? Fearless?

Fearless turned to the crowd.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We're from Earth and we're looking for another Earther! Give him to us and we'll leave forever! Otherwise, we're going to have to stay here to look for him!

There were several fearful gasps and cries from the crowd and a bubble formed around them as people worked to get away from them. They spilled out into the street and cars began honking as they screeched to a halt. Traffic backed up.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Well, that bought us some space at least. Prepare for a fight. I'd rather not get taken in by a guy Versus refers to as a Space Hitler.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Good thinking...

Sirens began wailing from every direction, but they did not sound like police sirens. They were more akin to air raid sirens. Everyone stopped what they were doing and fled for the buildings, even the ones in cars simply turning them off and leaving them where they were. It was a strange sight to see, and it left the Best Defense baffled as they waited for the space gestapo to arrive for their fight.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Are they coming?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I thought they would be. Titus?

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: We're... it's weird, we're hearing conflicting reports, it sounds like they're already in battle with us, but they can't be...

Titus paused and looked around, but there was nothing but the quickly fleeing people.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Unless there's another one of us here, or... I'd rather not think about it given what we just went through.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: An alternate version of us... Cosmette? Can your cosmic senses tell me anything about it?

Before she could answer, a blast of red energy lanced through the sky, tearing consummate holes into the buildlings it struck. Her eyes went wide as she recognized the energy signature.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: It's worse than that. That's Zama.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Zama? Who the hell's Zama?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: An interdimensional warlord I believe is what Gragus described him as. I guess that's who Sakae meant when he said someone powerful noticed what was going on. We go that way-

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Oh, thank the GODS! The Defenders! I'm saved!

The Defenders stopped in their tracks and looked over to see the unlucky dude running up to them with his arms spread wide and a relieved smile on his face.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Yes. We must go back into the sushi restaurant and wait for Sakae to come back. I believe he has a way to know whether or not we're ready.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Oh, thank the Gods... I was starting to think I was stuck here. Look, you guys gotta help me now.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Yes. Come with us. We'll get you home-

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Get me home? Hell no!

The man stepped away from Fearless and glared at them.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: No way am I going back to your stupid island to live that stupid life. I was destined for greater things than washing and gassing up cars. No. What I want is for you to help me get the stone and take my place as one of the rightful heroes of the galaxy. You see, I've finally found it, but I can't get to it, I need your help.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Titus, grab him, we're going now.

Fearless gave the man a stern look and turned toward the sushi bar.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Come on, no more wasting our time.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Oh, so you'll leave these people to die at the hands of Zama? I know you know of the Evil Tyrant and what he's capable of. I saw you fight him, I saw it because it's written in the stars. And now I'm in the right place at the right time and I can seize my destiny, you just have to help me a little bit, you don't even have to do anything you wouldn't normally do anyways, you just have to save these people.

90d97335-d60d-465e-ac34-14a2327489bb_zpsffsjdav9.jpg

Fearless looked up as red energy blasted away at the sky. In his mind, he could see Cosmette hurtling through the glass roof of the train station on the receiving end of one of those blasts, he could feel the heat of the battle in Zama's volcano stronghold, and he did not want to experience it again if it could be helped.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We count neither Remoran nor Evil Tyrant as our ally, thus I would leave them to their own fates. Titus?

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: I- I can't move. I'm... the nannites, they've- they're... we're going to be...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Titus?

Fearless stepped towards him as the rest stepped away.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Uncle Derrick?

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: I'm sorry, you guys. This is goodbye.

With that, Titus' boots exploded with energy and he blasted off towards the battle with Zama. All that was left standing there was the man with a rather smug look on his face.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: See? Written in the stars. I can't imagine that you're the kind who would leave a comrade in arms behind like this.

Fearless glared at him.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Well? Aren't you going to go try to rescue him?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Versus, you fly with me and Cosmette for the battle, we'll see what we can find out about Titus. Eikyou? Keep this guy here. Maybe he could take a nap if we can't get him to feel more honest with us.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: 了解.

Eikyou smiled at him. Cosmette took him under her arms and flew away with Versus whining at their heels.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Why is it always flying? Can't you guys walk anywhere like normal people...

Eikyou stared at the young man for a moment before smiling at him and leading him to a bench.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Shall we sit down?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: You know, if you don't help me get that stone, Zama's gonna get it.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: What is your name?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Chad.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: I am Eikyou. Nice to meet you.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Yeah, whatever, I'd be more worried about that stone and Zama getting his hands on it than my stupid name.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: What does the stone do?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I don't know exactly.

The man furled his brow and glared at his lap as though the answer would spring forth from his loins.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: But I do know that it has incredible powers.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Any idea of the nature of the powers?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Nope. Like I told the sushi guy before, I'm just an unlucky dude. I don't know anything about that stuff.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: An unlucky dude does not know the things you know. An unlucky dude does not get to travel between dimensions or across the galaxy.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Whatever. Zama's gonna get the stone now. Great going, Best Defense.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: How do you know?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I already told you, I saw it, it was written in the stars.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Can you show me?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: No, you're too limited to understand it. All of you are. Whoever ended up with all those powers that should have been mine, you're all too limited to see what you could really be capable of in the multiverse, to see what's going to happen.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Why don't you try explaining?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I already tried with the sushi guy. If he didn't get it, then I can pretty much guarantee that none of you mongoloids would.

Eikyou kept a calm smile on her pretty face despite the insulting tone Chad had taken. The ground rumbled beneath them, and the air was filled with smoke and heat. Cries from the battle nearby wafted past their ears. All the people who had been going about their daily lives had disappeared.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Where have the people gone?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Beats me.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Well then, where is your stone?

Chad's face immediately brightened up.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: You're going to help me??

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: We can try. It depends upon how-

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Great! Let's go!

With that, Chad was on his feet, running away from Eikyou. He reached the intersection and turned left, away from the battle, and sprinted down the street. Eikyou, even with her high level of physical fitness, found it difficult to keep up with the swift young man.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: He is far too fast to be a normal man... And he does not respond to my powers as a normal man, either. I wonder what he's hiding from us...

Remoran%20City%202_zpswrsrs8gr.jpg

They ran down another street and he crossed another onto a big, lush lawn in front of an impressive structure. A massive explosion behind them made them stop in their tracks.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: What was that?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Duck.

Chad curled up in a ball next to Eikyou. Instead of ducking, she looked towards the area of the battle, and had to jump out of the way of Cosmette.

8a738f00-a355-44e4-972d-6961c58cc43a_zpsv16vgsmd.jpg

The shiny girl smashed into the ramp and burrowed into the ground, rocking the area with the impact. The charred remains of Remoran police vehicles rained around them, and then Zama floated through the air towards them.

d46d5c46-6d05-4c82-a87d-34761d531151_zps48e5c00b.jpg Zama: Ah, here we are. I thought I remembered there were more of you. I suppose you think you're going to stop me. This time, though, I think you'll find you are mistaken. Get out of my way.

With a swipe of his hand, Zama shoved Eikyou and Chad out of his way with his powers. He pointed his finger at Eikyou and blasted her unconscious, and Remoran forces flew in behind him, unwilling to give up their fight. The Defenders, spread apart, laid defeated amidst the rubble of a world not their own...

NMUSpidey

Sensational Girl escaped from the clutches of the twisted Super Stalker, freeing five other women along with her. But something else looms on the horizon, someone hanging out at a particular sushi place in Southport... I wonder what's going on with that Unlucky Dude. But first...

REPLIES!

Sim Sunwoo: Come for the occasionally nice pictures, stay for the snappy dialogue!

Tonraq: HORRIBLE morning sickness. Make no mistake, pregnancy sucks.

Mymyjp: Yes! Now if only she could do something about her omnipresent nausea...

And now, The Best Defense #115!

Sakaes%20Place_zpsqxk4hnwm.jpg

Fearless set his hand on the unlucky dude's shoulder. He flinched under its weight, then turned his head to see who it was. His face brightened immediately.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We need to talk to you.

He beamed at Fearless, Eikyou, Versus, Titus, and Cosmette and leapt to his feet.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Oh great! The Best Defense! You guys can help me! Finally! I've been trying to get this sushi guy to help me, and I know he can, but he just ignores me. You guys'll listen. You'll help. I just know it, it's your role in the galaxy.

Fearless glanced back at Eikyou and she gave him an emphatic look.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: You'll go with us to Power Unit Headquarters and answer our questions.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: What?

The unlucky dude took a step back, bumping into his chair.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: It's better for everyone if you come willingly. You're not in trouble and we don't want to make a scene.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: But- but this sushi guy, he has the key to the entire multiverse! He could get me to where I need to go to get that stone, but he won't! You guys, you could make him, you could help me and then I can help you help not just this world, but the entire galaxy. You'll need my power on your side. Well, once I get my power.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Please come with us, we would prefer to talk about this and research your problem before rushing off without knowing anything more than this.

Eikyou emanated calm to soothe the young man's rising nerves as she spoke to him. She reached her hand out.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Let's go.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: No! You're just like everyone else! You don't want me to get any powers, either!

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Hey, wait!

Cosmette was in the air, trying to catch him.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Ack!

The unlucky dude tripped over his own two feet and grabbed the edge of a table as he fell, pulling it over and spilling soy sauce and chopsticks and menus all over the floor.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Hey! This is my shop, you animals!

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: No!

The unlucky dude writhed on the floor, kicking himself away from Titus' nannite armor reaching for him. He rolled across the floor, dodging Versus' clumsy grab and scrambled behind the sushi counter.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: No! No admittance back there!

Sakae ran at the unlucky dude, trying to tackle him before he could get into the kitchen and office area, but he was too slow, running straight into Fearless instead and knocking the Defenders off the pursuit.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Get out of the way!

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Wait! Stop him before he gets to the console!

There was another crash, and after the Sakae and the two Defenders were on their feet and back in the kitchen, they saw that Versus had a good hold on the unlucky dude, his arm wrapped tight under unlucky's chin. They were standing in a doorway near the back, but it was not an exit. The room through the door glowed green and yellow and blue, but was otherwise dark. It was Sakae's console, the console he used to switch between locations, between the wheres and whens of the vast multiverse (it was a design that Morning Angel had copied and altered in her mistaken quest to “right” the multiverse). The unlucky dude was not struggling, but the dark look on his face did not make him appear to be happy or complacent, either.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Got him, boss. Should I kill him here, or you still wanna let the Power Unit talk to him?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We're not going to kill him.

Fearless sighed and then glanced at Titus.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Can you and Cosmette fly him there? I want him restrained as soon as possible.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I'll go... I'll go without fighting. It's obvious I can't overpower you guys, I'm not gonna fight.

Fearless glanced at Eikyou, but her face did not change.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: No, we're going to-

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

The unlucky dude let out a ridiculous wail and flailed and thrashed about in Versus' grip. His thumb went up and poked Versus in the eye (on accident) and Versus let go, reeling back from the thumb.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Ouch!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Get him!

Fearless watched as, almost in slow motion, Cosmette and Titus dove at the unlucky dude, crashing in midair above his head. The unlucky dude tumbled backwards away from them, falling into Sakae's console room.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: No!

The room suddenly went black, and then-

*BLOIP*

And then silence.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: What was that?

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: That was him bumbling his way into an interstellar incident.

Sakae rushed past them to get to his computer.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Oh, no...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: What?

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: He's on the Remoran homeworld. His leap over there was noticed by someone very powerful, someone you've fought before.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Can we just leave him there? You're not implying that he needs to be saved. Right?

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: I tell you what, if he gets his hands on whatever it is he's looking for, or this other guy does, the entire multiverse is in trouble.

He looked up at the unimpressed expressions on their faces.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Uh, again, it'll be in trouble again- look, I'm sorry, but you guys, you really gotta go handle this. The Remorans can't, they're not prepared to.

Fearless looked at his team and they nodded, well, everyone except Versus. He sighed and rolled his eyes.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Ami, Sensational Girl, we'll be gone for a while, in space. Have Captain Walker and Lieutenant Matsugi report to HQ for the time being. We'll be back as soon as we can.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Wait, did you just say like, in space? Aw, you guys get to go to space and I'm stuck here? This is like, so unfair.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: You're pregnant and don't need to risk space radiation, space germs, space Nazis and Space Hitler, or space evil death rays. Stay in HQ while we're gone. We'll be back soon.

Fearless clicked the radio off before Sensational Girl could protest and looked at Sakae and gestured at the console.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Alright, here you go. It's best to hurry once you're there.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I know. I know...

***

DHQNight1_zps40c8a078.jpg

Sensational Girl, after nearly two solid hours of whining and complaining about missing the space mission to Ami, Captain Walker, and Lt. Matsugi, fell asleep on the couch. She could only take being awake for so long, anyways. Between the constant, dull nausea and the almost comical fatigue, there was little Sensational Girl could do to stay on her feet. The fact that they were swollen (and thus painful) made being upright and mobile even less attractive. As such, she spent the majority of her time trying to escape her physical discomfort through sleep. The two PMPU leaders sat near the big windows looking out over Mori-cho and Stranahan Terraces keeping quiet watch over things.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: The city's been almost silent since... the thing,. I read the files, are they serious about what happened?

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Apparently so. I remember being Lieutenant, and I remember following Captain Willis' orders, but I don't remember being promoted or where he went. It just became the way it is.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: It's very strange to me. I don't remember Captain Willis at all.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: It was explained to me that if there are especially strong ties between us and parts of what happened before, we tend to retain some memories of them.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: Like Red Bear and the magical girls?

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Apparently.

A wave of momentary silence washed over them.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: I had a girlfriend.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: I'm not sure I need to know about your private life-

Captain Walker tried to stop her before she could explain any further, but there was a furtive look on her assistant's face that she could not ignore.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: What I mean is, before the thing, before everything changed, I had a girlfriend, we shared an apartment in Carthage near the beach, but after everything changed, she was gone.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Just like that? Did you try looking her up?

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: Yes, of course I tried looking her up, and Commisioner Tremec threatened to demote me for using my security clearance to locate lawful civilians. But she wasn't even in the system. No records at all.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: She was a PM native?

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: Yes.

Lt. Matsugi's eyes glimmered with her tears in the dim light of the darkened club house.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Her parents, too?

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: Her family was supposed to have been here at the founding, but whatever's become of them, they're not here, not a single family member.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: I'm... I'm sorry.

Captain Walker's arm sprang to life, but she barely reached a third of the way to her assistant before it fell back to her lap. She had no idea what the other woman was going through.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: Everyone I know acts like nothing's different, like this is just the way it's been since forever, but I know what I lost, I feel it every day. When I'm home, everything I do reminds me of her, but I don't even have any pictures of her, any physical evidence that she existed is just completely, totally gone.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: There are other people to meet on the island...

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: I know that... And I'll move on, I know I have to, I know how to. It's not like I've never lost anyone before. It's just that it's different this time. She was just a clerk in a store in East Bank, she had nothing to do with this.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Collateral damage happens.

Lt. Matsugi sighed.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: Yes, it does. But usually when it happens, you have people to talk to who went through similar experiences, people you can talk to easily without having to worry about their security clearance. I don't know if anyone else on the island, or in the world, is going through the same thing, but I can't talk to them about it. This whole thing was classified, and it's only because of my ghost promotion that I have any access to it at all.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: You were the best of your class. There was no question that I would choose you. You are loyal to Port Matthew and to your fellow officers, tough in combat, and intelligent and organized. I'm very sorry for your loss. If there was anything I could do to help you, I would at least try it, but I doubt even the Defenders themselves understand what happened perfectly. The files are vague, but I don't think that it's on purpose. I think that so much of it is just unknown.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: Yes. Well, thank you, anyways.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Hang in there, Lieutenant.

Silence fell on them once again. Neither one noticed Sensational Girl sit up and walk over to them on the couch.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: There are people here.

LtMatsugi_zps226def20.jpg Lt. Matsugi: People? Who?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I can feel... Suibijo, Super Orion, and Tectonic Playboy.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Can you stop them?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Even if I wasn't pregnant, it'd be like, really hard, but now? Like, I wish.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You should hide. Go to the access panel in the corner of the room. I'll lock it and try to prevent them from- system error. Reboot in- error...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Ami? Ami?

Sensational Girl looked around, panic seizing her heart as the two Power Unit officers grabbed her arms and pulled her towards the access panel Ami had directed them towards. Lt. Matsugi yanked it open and they scrambled into the little crawlspace and pulled the door shut again. It was dark except for some blinking lights from a control panel, and they could not see out the door, although they could hear just fine. Everything went quiet. Ami's voice rang in their earpieces.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: I had to lead them to believe that I was disrupted. They're in control of most of the building's functions now. I don't think I need to tell you how dangerous they are. The building is nowhere near empty, either.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: What are we gonna do?

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Have you ever seen Die Hard?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Of course.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Then you have an idea of what we'll do. For now, just be quiet...

NMUSpidey

Oh, no! Sensational Girl is trapped by the Super Stalker! And the Best Defense can't find her! What does this mean for her, and for *gasp* HER UNBORN CHILD??? Find out as we conclude The Super Stalker Strikes Back! But first...

REPLIES!

Mymyjp: Hahaha, nah, I'm sure everything will be perfectly fine. Nothing to see here. No! No! EVERYTHING to see here! Look at me! Read my entries! Um, excuse me. Anyways. Thank you!

Schulmanator: I'll bet there's SOMETHING afoot... But first, let's see how Sensational Girl fares, shall we?

Super%20Stalkers%20Apartment_zpsyqwgr9fx.jpg

At the nefarious Super Stalker's modest apartment...

Hannah_zps81uqijk1.jpg Hannah: Where's Sensational Girl?

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa: She ran to the bathroom. Again.

Lisa was outwardly enraged by the disappearance, but when she met Hannah's eyes both women could see the concern hidden just beneath the surface in each other. The frequent runs to the toilet, the half-asleep, half-awake condition of her consciousness, the lack of artificial bounce in her step (they all knew that she was supposed to be sweet but dumb), the two women were starting to put it together.

Hannah_zps81uqijk1.jpg Hannah: Again? She must be sick.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa: Sick or not, she needs to get her ass in here and help. This food is not going to prepare itself.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Ladies, how is dinner coming?

The Super Stalker stepped into the kitchen and stopped dead in his tracks.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Where is Sensational Girl? She's supposed to be in here cooking!

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa: She's been in the bathroom. Something's wrong with her, Master.

Hannah_zps81uqijk1.jpg Hannah: Yes, I'm worried.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Worried? You should both be less worried about her and more worried about yourselves. Hm... I wonder if it was a mistake to try to fit Sensational Girl into this role. If she fails, I don't know what I'm going to do with her...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Okay, I'm like, sorry for- Oh! Master!

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Sensational Girl! You're supposed to be in here cooking! What are you doing running off to the toilet instead? You should know better than this. You're supposed to be boosting my powers to the point where you can't disobey orders like this!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm sorry, Master, I'm using my powers the way you want me to, but I'm- I can't help it!

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: I wrote it in the notebook, I mean, I guess I can tell that I'm more powerful, but shouldn't I be more powerful? You can't use your powers to hurt me, I made sure of that...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No, I can't use my powers against you, can I?

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: No, you- Wah!

Sensational Girl dropped down and swept Super Stalker's legs out from under him, sending him crashing face-first to the floor. Mimicking what she had learned from Captain Walker during their combat classes, she gripped his ankle in her elbow and rolled up on to his back, yanking his leg up off the ground.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Aagh! You're not supposed to use your powers against me!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm not using my powers against you, I'm using brute force. Free us.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: No! You're supposed to do what I say! I'm the Master here, not you!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: You're five seconds away from a broken leg! I am so totally not joking about this, you sick freak! Free us!

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Let me go- AGH! Okay! Okay! I'm sorry, I'll let you free... there, there now you're all free! Let me go!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No, I'm keeping you immobilized until the Power Unit gets here to take you into custody. What do you think, I'm like, stupid? Hannah, Lisa, someone get a phone.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpgHannah_zps81uqijk1.jpg Yes, sir.

They both dashed from the room. They came back with the three other girls and crowded around Sensational Girl, who had grabbed Super Stalker's arm with her free hand and had him perfectly immobilized. If he tried to move he would be facing serious injury.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hannah, please call the number I tell you.

Sensational Girl quickly gave her the number.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Bring the phone to me.

Hannah held the phone to Sensational Girl's ear and she heard it pick up immediately.

Untitled.jpg Power Unit Dispatch: Name and rank.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Sensational Girl, the Best Defense. You're needed here. Can you trace me?

Untitled.jpg Power Unit Dispatch: Done. How many units?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Just one, but I do need a UPN and a psych crew.

Untitled.jpg Power Unit Dispatch: Acknowledged. ETA, 46 seconds, longer for the psych crew. Flash bang?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No. The threat is neutralized. I'll need to be patched through to HQ.

Untitled.jpg Power Unit Dispatch: Acknowledged. ETA 34 seconds. Patching you through now.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Sensational Girl, where have you been?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: You will absolutely not believe it. Just triangulate on this signal and get out here to pick me up, make sure Eikyou comes to help out the psych crew, too.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Alright, they're in the area, they've been out searching for you. We'll see you soon.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Great, thanks.

*BAM*

Power%20Unit%20Officer%201_zpsfdj1pkhe.jpg Power Unit Officer #1: Power Unit, nobody move!

The officers' warning was met by the feeble, frightened screams of half the girls in the kitchen. The officers charged through the house, guns ready, and several were there to join the girls and their abductor in the kitchen within moments.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Great, take him into custody now.

Sensational Girl let his arms and legs go and he was roughly handcuffed and put on his feet. Sensational Girl's stomach turned and she puked on his floor.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Hey! What did you do that for?!

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa: Are you alright, Sensational Girl?

Lisa knelt down next to her, her hand gentle on the hero's back.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah... y-yeah...

Sensational Girl pulled herself up and away from the mess she just made. She glared at the Super Stalker as he was dragged away, the UPN preventing him from accessing his powers any more.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa: You're not hungover, are you?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Like, no...

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa: Are you...

The look on Sensational Girl's face stopped Lisa's words before they could come out her throat.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Look, it's like, pretty obvious, I know, but if you don't say anything I'll talk to Austin and Taro and get you an exclusive on it.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa: Exclusive?

Lisa's eyes lit up at the ratings boost she would be able to deliver her bosses.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Exclusive. But seriously, you absolutely need to stay like, absolutely silent on it for now.

Lisa nodded, earnestly miming zipping her lips closed and locking them. A Power Unit officer joined them.

Power%20Unit%20Officer%201_zpsfdj1pkhe.jpg Power Unit Officer #1: We have him in a truck.

The Best Defense were always designated the highest ranking officers whenever Captain Walker herself was not on scene.

Power%20Unit%20Officer%201_zpsfdj1pkhe.jpg Power Unit Officer #1: Your file says we need to have you checked out special. Psych units are on their way here, should be about five minutes.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Great. Eikyou and Versus are coming, too. Thanks for coming, guys.

Sensational Girl did not look back over her shoulder as she and the other girls were led out of the house. It would take a few showers to get that stench washed off of her.

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

Kim Sunwoo: I heard he gets around...

Schulmanator: Yeah, her nausea is pretty pervasive. She's not enjoying pregnancy as she thought she would...

So, Sensational Girl is under the Super Stalker's spell as a maid in his apartment with five other similarly pretty blonde girls. The Defenders are not ignoring this, however. They have top men on it. Top. Men.

Karis%20Journey%202_zpsn4eyxdeh.jpg

Versus asked, staring at the flickering image of Kari boarding a train for Southport on the computer screen in front of him. The staff at Fuji-cho Station was more than happy to allow a pair of Defenders access to their security footage, and it took little more than ten minutes for Ami to find the footage of their lost teammate.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Hey Ami, how'd you get through these videos so fast?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: The technology in your computer system is to thank. I could go through terabytes of data in minutes with this setup.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Why is she going to Southport? Could she be going to visit her friends at PMU?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Ask 'em.

Eikyou already had her mobile device to her ear.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Taro, have you contacted your friends at PMU about this?

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Huh? Who is this? Eikyou? Uh, no. No I haven't. I thought it was better to keep this between us instead of risking the information getting out.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: I shall call them and inquire as to her whereabouts. Do not worry, Taro. We will find her.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Thanks, Eikyou.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: You are welcome.

Eikyou pulled the mobile device away from her ear and accessed Sensational Girl's file, complete with her friends' and family's contact information. It was easy enough to to phone her friend Erisa.

Erisa-4-1.jpg Erisa: Hello, who's this?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: This is Eikyou of the Best Defense. I am searching for Kari. Is she with you?

Erisa-4-1.jpg Erisa: Kari? What? No, no way. We've both been pretty busy these days, though. Is she missing?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Yes. If you hear from her, please call this number back and tell us. Thank you.

Erisa-4-1.jpg Erisa: Uh, yeah, sure. You're welcome, I guess?

Eikyou ended the call and put the mobile device into her pocket.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Well, there's a dead end. But at least we now know where we don't have to search.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Fine. Let's get to the next station and we will see if we can find video of her leaving the station.

Versus stopped Eikyou before she could leave the Fuji-cho Station office.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I have a better idea. We'll go ask a friend of mine. Sensational Girl's a cosmic being, right? I mean, her powers are cosmic, and my friend-

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: The sushi chef?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Yeah, Sakae, good guy it turns out, but anyways, he's tuned in to the whole cosmic, multiverse, interdimensional, wacky nonsense, so he might be able to give us a better idea of where our lost Sensational Girl might be.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Alright. Lead the way.

***

Sakaes%20Place_zpsqxk4hnwm.jpg

Sakae's place...

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Versus! It's been too long! I'm so glad you came in today!

Sakae lit up immediately upon seeing Coyote Versus enter with Eikyou right behind him. Versus stopped in his tracks and gave the sushi chef a confused look.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: You are? I thought you hated me.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Heh, no, of course not, not a great customer like yourself.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Huh. You yell at me to get out every time I come in here.

Versus glanced around in confusion as Sakae led them to a table near the window, conspicuously far from the single patron monopolizing the bar.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Great, let me get you something, on the house, the menus are here.

Sakae took the opportunity to lean in close to them and lowered his voice.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: That guy over there, he's been in here every day since you stopped the big one. He's asking questions he shouldn't be asking and he knows things he shouldn't know. I think you're going to need to investigate him.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: So you're only being nice to me because you want to use my new best friends for a favor? Uncool, Sakae...

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Investigate him? How?

Eikyou ignored Versus as she demurely scanned the restaurant, giving no hint as to the suspicious nature of her glance.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: I don't know, I'm not one of you guys. But the way he acts, like he's just an average guy down on his luck, it doesn't match up. It's not normal for a guy like that to know the things that he knows.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: We'll check him out later, but first we gotta find Sensational Girl.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Sensational Girl? Did you misplace a cosmic being?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: We did not misplace her, she disappeared on us.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Most likely was taken.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Sensational Girl, eh? How do you lose a cosmic being?

Sakae pulled up and scribbled a few things down on his notepad.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: I'll bring your orders out soon.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Thank you, Sakae.

Sakae left and she spoke quietly to Versus.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: That man over there, he is not of our world.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: He looks human to me.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: He is human, but that does not mean that he is from here. I cannot tell much without Sensational Girl's help, but Sakae is right, there is something off about him. Something... missing...

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I'll give him a look after we find Sensational Girl.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: You do not want to be sidetracked by this. Your concern for her is genuine.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: What can I say? My mom raised me right.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: There is more to it than that. It is my hope that someday you will tell us the reason behind joining our team.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: It's not obvious?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: If I believed that you you had joined us for impure reasons I would have exposed you and put you in the Mines immediately following our return from our last battle. But there is something more to it, some extra reason that you wish to visit the Remorans.

Versus sighed and gazed out the window. Things looked so normal out there, cars passing by, people walking to work or to lunch, others carrying shopping bags or holding the hands of their small children. He bet that none of them had family imprisoned on an alien world by an angry Space Hitler.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: It's... complicated...

He inwardly blessed Sakae's timely return with plates of sushi and some information scribbled on a piece of paper for them.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Here you are, special on the house, just for you.

Sakae leaned down again and met Eikyou's eyes.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Your lost cosmic being is in the city somewhere, but there's magic working on her and I can't get a pinpoint on her. All I can tell you is that she's in Uezaka somewhere. I'm sorry.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: That is alright. It narrows our search, thank you for that.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Also, Versus, I ran a quick check on our mysterious young man at the bar, and there is literally nothing about him. I can't even find employment or birth records for him.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: What's his name?

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: He's only told me that he's just some dude, his word, but that he should be more. He's talked about being in the right places at the right times, but that none of it worked out for him, and that instead of being the most powerful thing in the galaxy he's just some dude, but he doesn't exist here, and I can't find his homeworld. I don't know how he was born or where he's going, but...

Eikyou and Versus both looked over to see Sakae's unlucky dude sitting by himself at the counter of the sushi bar. He was turning a glass of water with one hand while tapping around his phone with his other. He paid absolutely no attention to them.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: We shall look into it. It reminds me of Naruki Matsugae, the man who stole the magical girls away.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I wonder if they'll be coming back.

Versus cast a glance at Sakae.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: What are you looking at me for? They're YOUR magical girls, not mine. You find them.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Thank you for your help with Sensational Girl.

Versus sighed and picked up a piece of sushi.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: And you're gonna just sit there and eat while your friend may be in danger?

Eikyou joined Sakae in staring at Versus as he held his sushi in the air halfway to his mouth.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Ah, alright, fine.

Versus let his sushi drop to his plate and went limp as Eikyou rose and grabbed his collar, pulling him to his feet as she rushed for the door.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: We shall return, Sakae. Thank you for your help.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: No problem.

Sakae was amazed by the strength she showed, not letting Versus' dragging feet hold her back at all. He glanced back over at his shoulder and the unlucky dude at the bar caught his eye.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Can I get some more water?

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Yeah, sure...

Sakae spared one last look for the door and then walked back to his counter. He knew Eikyou to be trustworthy, but the situation still stunk to him. They were on the cusp of something very terrible happening. He could feel it all the way in his own cosmically-powered bones...

NMUSpidey

Oh no! Sensational Girl's gone missing! How are they gonna find her? I hope they're not too late! But first...

REPLIES!

Schulmanator: I've seen the pregnancy cravings three times now. They can be weird, man. Pregnant women weird me out.

Mymyjp: Yeah, it's entirely possible that he's bitten off more than he can chew. We'll see!

Tonraq: Totally creepy, dude. I feel bad for Kari, for sure.

SimCoug: Hahahaha, I'll bet it is!

Kim Sunwoo: Thank you! I hope your project works out!

So, our pregnant hero, Sensational Girl, has had her mind overridden and is working as a maid, of all things, for the insidious Super Stalker. How will the Defenders react? And will they be able to find her before it's too late?

DHQcloserup2_zpsf08da935.jpg

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: Hey, Fearless, I'm standing here with Taro in front of their apartment, and he's telling me that she left to go get gyudon and kimchi like an hour ago. Apparently it doesn't take that long to take the train there and back, but more worrying than that is, just who the hell eats gyudon at 10am?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Versus, get to Fuji-cho, locate Sensational girl.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: What? Aw, man, why me? Can't you send the actual psychic out looking for her?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: That is an excellent suggestion. Meet up with Eikyou and investigate jointly.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: Roger that, o humorless leader...

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: 了解. Versus, I shall meet you in the lobby. Where are you now?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: Heading for the elevators. Are these radios gonna work in the elevators?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Yes, I'm in one heading down now.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: Wow, you guys, these are some serious radios, no interference at all, even in the elevators? You guys have some pretty kick-ass technology for being Earthers and all.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You're half Earther, Mr. Versus. Besides, you're at home. Our home is wired for maximum convenience. It'd be different if you were at the How.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: You are a massive buzzkill, Ami. Eikyou, I'll be in the lobby in a few seconds.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Excellent. I am waiting.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Her communicator is still in her room, which means she left without it, something she knows better than to do. I suspect foul play.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: You suspect foul play? Wow, your powers of deduction are truly amazing. You should be out solving all the unsolved mysteries in the whole world instead of wasting your time pointlessly flirting with me.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You thought I was flirting? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: We shall go to Fuji-cho Station and see what we can find. Come on. This worries me.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: Yes, ma'am.

Versus emerged from the elevator and mock saluted Eikyou before dutifully following her through the lobby.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: I'm sure she's fine. She's tough, you know?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Tough or not, she is a pregnant woman of high status who has gone missing in one of the most dangerous, unpredictable places in the multiverse. My worry is not misplaced.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Versus: Hey, I'm worried, too, but she's a Defender. If she couldn't handle herself, she wouldn't be part of our team. I'm sure she's kicking ass right now and she'll be back before we even get to the station...

***

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Sensational Girl was slumped over the futons she had managed to cram into the closet, fast asleep. Lisa Arvantis found her with her legs splayed out behind her and the skirt of her French maid uniform flipped up over her back, showing her pair of off the pale-pink striped underwear they were all required to wear. The anchorwoman felt an unnatural ire build within her, and a rage not her own gripped her throat and choked the words out her mouth.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Sensational Girl!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh!

Sensational Girl jumped, banging her head on the shelf in the closet.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Ow...

She pulled herself out, rubbing the back of her head as she sat on the floor in front of Lisa.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: What are you doing?? You idiot, you were supposed to put these away and then join us in the living room! Master's been waiting, you know.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm... I'm sorry, Lisa, I just don't feel good...

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Your feelings are not important! If your feelings are telling you to take a nap whenever you feel like it, you're gonna end up in serious trouble, and I'll be the one who'll be forced to punish you.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm sorry, I was just putting these away, and-

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: You just shoved them into the closet! That's not putting them away, that's making a mess! A huge mess that I'm gonna have to clean up now that I'm here, move, get out of my way.

Sensational Girl scrambled on her hands and knees and felt her stomach turn at the odor given off by the fresh tatami flooring hit her nose. Everything made her nauseous.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Here, you re-do these, I'll re-do those.

Lisa flung the futons at the superhero girl. Sensational Girl pushed them off her and set to work.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I don't see what the big deal is. They're just gonna get wrinkly again when we sleep in them.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: When we fold them up neatly, they'll fit in the closet neatly, and they'll look nice all day long.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: So? No one's coming into the bedroom to look at futons.

Sensational Girl looked at her in confusion.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Why am I acting so dumb?

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Shut up and fold them.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: But-

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Fold them, you super-moron!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: That's not nice, Lisa, we're not supposed to call each other names, Master wouldn't like it.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Just shut up and hurry. We have to get back out to the living room...

Sensational Girl managed to keep her mouth shut. She glanced at Lisa with what she was sure was a wounded look on her face, but was baffled by what was going on. Propelled by motivations not her own, she picked up the neatly folded futons and helped Lisa silently stuff them back into the closet. As they finished, their eyes met, but there was no anger in Lisa's expression. Instead, she gazed back at Sensational Girl helplessly, pleading without words for the super girl to get them all out of this. Sensational Girl nodded and they set out for the living room.

There they found their master, the Super Stalker (*sigh*) sitting in a chair with his arms folded watching the hallway for them. When they entered the room he stood up, his precious notebook in his hand, and walked over to them to wave it at them threateningly.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: You two are troublesome! What were you doing in there, Sensational Girl? Why did it take Lisa so long to retreive you? What were you doing in there, Lisa? Hm? Are we going to give our Master any answers?

Lisa glared at him, wishing she could blast his face off with optic blasts, but none of the other girls were paying any attention to her. They were all looking at Sensational Girl. Sensational Girl squeezed her eyes shut every time the ratty notebook was waved under her nose. Her mouth was twisted with her nausea and she clamped it as shut as she could make it. The notebook gave off a strong odor of unwashed underwear. The Super Stalker clung to it every time he was out stalking, and it was warped and yellowed from his soft, sweaty palms. Sensational Girl's stomach heaved upwards towards her throat and her face turned green. The Super Stalker stopped scolding them and looked Sensational Girl with a mix of suspicion and concern.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: What's wrong, Sensational Girl?

He frowned and leaned in close to her, putting the notebook right in front of her nose. She drew away from it sharply.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Are you hungover? Did you go out drinking last night?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm gonna throw up.

She dashed for the bathroom, leaving the Super Stalker standing there in confusion. He opened his notebook and looked at the rules he had written down for her. She returned less than five minutes later, looking no better, and resumed her spot with her face down in shame and never-ending nausea and waited for him to finish his scolding of her.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: This isn't what I had written down for you, you dumb little party girl. This isn't the way you're supposed to be acting. Sleepy and throwing up? I really, sincerely hope that I didn't pick up an alcoholic...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm sorry, Master. I'll do my best to...

She paused and swallowed hard as the stench of his notebook wafted up past her nose again.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'll get better.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: You have to. You're on kitchen duty tonight. I'll be having Hannah watching you two closely to make sure you two don't screw this up, too.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpgLisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Sorry, Master...

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg Super Stalker: Alright. Get on with your jobs. Sensational Girl, I'll need tea in ten minutes. Snap to!

NMUSpidey

The Best Defense #111

Things have been quiet for too long, haven't they? I can't even remember the last time we saw any action. Ah well, I'm sure it's just because the Best Defense is just so intimidating a presence and nothing bad will happen ever again. Anyways...

REPLIES!

Schulmanator: He's a total ham. I like writing his character, but sometimes it's tough because he's funnier than I am and sometimes I just don't know what he's gonna say next.

SimCoug: Apparently Sensational Girl's gonna be taking it a bit easier from here on out, but we'll see how she feels after she gives birth. Oh, and I forgot to turn my shadows back on after I reinstalled my game. I turned them back on and the game still works fine!

Mymyjp: Heh, I actually have about half of the Young Justice's run of comic books from the late 90s. Good stuff! Also, I'm using the White Plaza Set and the Urban Beautification Set 1. Those are good stuff, too.

Tonraq: Hahaha, yup! The family is growing! I wonder how many more there'll be...

SO this entry is a week late because I've been working on a few other projects, not the least of which is the big STEX 100,000,000 Downloads celebration and the interviews with BATers past and present! SimCoug and I (mostly SimCoug, he's doing awesome work) will be putting these on over the next couple months. Go see our interview with MandelSoft here if you have some time! Okay, and now, The Best Defense #111...

DHQ3_zpsb8566aca.jpg

At Defenders' HQ...

Sensational Girl put her head on her hands with her elbows propped up on the desk to stare out the window at the city beginning to stir with light at dawn. She groaned slightly as she shifted her weight and took a sip of the water sitting next to her.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Is it that bad?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I feel, like, tired and nauseous all the time... All the time. If I wasn't so nauseous right now I'd still probably be asleep. At least those tablets Dr. Benjamin gave me work a little bit.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: I am... uncertain as to whether or not I should congratulate you on the addition of your family or offer you my sympathies for your condition.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I heard his heartbeat, and when I think about that I feel amazing. So it's not like this is a condition. I'm not sick. I'm just not... 100%, like, anymore.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Oh, well then, congratulations are still in order then.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Thank you.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You're welcome.

Sensational Girl sighed again.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: You know, the morning sickness isn't the only thing keeping me awake right now.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You're still having nightmares?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh, no, it's not nightmares, the dreams aren't scary like, at all. What they are is... weird. I mean, they're just so vivid and real. Like, (PMBS anchor) Lisa Arvanis is there, but she's like, weird, too. I don't know how to explain it.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Have you spoken with Eikyou about it?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: She thinks it might be some kind of telepath messing with me, but her powers are really limited about this, even when I'm helping her.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You don't think it's Shar Pen, do you?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No, Eikyou said she'd leave behind signs it was her. We have her energy signatures on file, and we know what it looks like when she messes with one of us. So, no, not that.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You said Lisa Arvanis? I'm accessing a file that states that a man who was stalking you was also stalking her at the same time. There were several other women he was found to be tailing as well.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh, oh no, the Super Stalker?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Is that what you're calling him?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No, that's what Captain Willis called him. I like, completely forgot about him after the whole Black Alchemist thing...

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: The file just ends at around the same time we returned from the Black Alchemist/Morning Angel battle. Shall I place a priority on it and bring it to Fearless' attention?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: It'll be better to do it that way. I don't want to think about what gross things that guy wants to get up to. He called me a harlot, or at least I'm pretty sure that was him. I wonder what he'll think of me when he finds out I'm pregnant.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: He'll be thrilled, I'm sure.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Totally. Anyways, I'm feeling a bit better now, I'm gonna head back and get some more sleep.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Alright. I'll place a note on Fearless' agenda. Thank you for keeping me company so early in the morning.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No problem. It was all my pleasure. Tell Versus I said hi, and I'll be up in the club house for him to babysit me towards lunchtime.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: I will. Take care, Kari.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: You too, Ami.

Sensational Girl left the room and Ami wondered if they were going to get the chance to go into space. If they went to space she had no doubt that Versus would make good on his promise to get her an android body. Fearless had been apparently looking into it, but space travel was still something that was limited by the technology available to them at that moment in that reality. They appeared to be stuck on earth and she was once again a ghost in a machine. She trusted Coyote Versus, however, and she felt (a strange thing for a computer to do) that he would eventually, somehow, make good on his promise. She wondered what it would be like to have a body again. Fearless' key card passing through security alerted her to his approach. She loaded his schedule for the day as well as the reports from the PMPF from the previous night (all two of them) and waited for him to pass through the doors into the computer room with his cup of tea just as he did every morning.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Ami. Quiet night?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: More or less. The police have been checking out reports of smuggling activities on the docks. So far nothing has been found.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: What do they suspect is being smuggled?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Drugs and guns, of course. Drugs out of the island in exchange for guns.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Mob activity?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: It is unknown. There is some speculation that it has more to do with the Chargemind's so-called business ventures in southern California.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: The Chargemind, I seem to recall someone mentioning they were active again. I'll want to speak with Captain Walker about this.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Will Lt. Matsugi suffice? She's scheduled to be here on her liaison duties this afternoon.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Yes. Send messages to the team that we're continuing on as we have been. I'll want to meet with Sensational Girl and Coyote Versus today as well, before lunch if possible.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Sensational Girl was just here, she's been having trouble sleeping.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Tsuwari?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Yes, but also strange dreams. I suspect a man she called the Super Stalker.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I seem to recall that The Power Unit was supposed to be monitoring him.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Yes, but the file on him ends as soon as we returned from the Black Alchemist/Morning Angel thing. This bears looking into.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I agree. Get Versus in here right away then. We'll need to be careful about Sensational Girl.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: 了解.

***

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SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh, geez, Taro... Everything in this apartment stinks and all I want to do is throw up...

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Did you talk to Dr. Brooks?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: He brought in Dr. Benjamin, I guess she teaches ob/gyn courses at PMU, and she said everything's normal. She gave me tablets for the morning sickness (which is really actually all-the-time sickness), but they're like, limited in their effectiveness, she told me. They feel limited.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Sucks. Heading upstairs?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No, I'm gonna go over to Fuji-cho and pick up some kimchi and Yoshinoya. I have the worst craving...

Taro-5.jpg Taro: You want me to go with you?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Nah, I'll be fine, thanks though.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Seriously, I'll go with you.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No, it's alright. I already get like, doted all over by my teammates. It'd be nice to be reminded that I'm a perfectly capable, independent person by going out to get myself some food.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Hahaha, alright. I'll just be hanging, then.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hang away. I'll bring you back something, too.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Thanks!

Karis%20Journey%201_zpsydbjoj8b.jpg

Sensational Girl took the elevator down into the basement and took the subway beneath the river for Fuji-cho. There were all manner of easily accessible shops and restaurants in the big Fuji-cho station, and it would not take her long before she returned home with her food. She squinted against the sickening brightness around her as the train emerged from beneath the ground to arrive at Fuji-cho Station.

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She exited with the rest of the commuters and sightseers and walked through the turnstiles and made her way to a big supermarket located on the first floor of the station building.

She did not buy kimchi as she had planned, however. Instead, she was compelled to purchase cakes and tarts suitable for English tea, and ingredients for a fine Italian dinner. But not all the ingredients. She wondered why she was missing certain key ingredients like garlic and bread and meat, but she felt compelled to buy everything in her cart anyways, and left the store.

Her big sunglasses hiding her face, she walked briskly across the wide ticket area and passed back through the turnstiles, taking a train across the river once again, but not for her home at the tip of The Cliffs...

Karis%20Journey%203_zpsdfgwmkj7.jpg

...but for Southport...

Karis%20Journey%204_zpsxmg1bilc.jpg

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Karis%20Journey%206_zpsovnwrsuf.jpg

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...and Uezaka beyond it instead.

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She got off of the train and made a lonely walk through a residential area of old apartments. There was the strange feeling of having been there before, that this was where her home was, despite knowing that her home was back in Defenders' HQ with Taro. Nevertheless, she climbed the stairs to the third floor of a particularly nondescript-looking apartment building and entered a corner unit.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm home! I brought the rest of dinner for tonight!

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Oh, how wonderful. Lisa is in the kitchen preparing tea. Put your groceries away and then change before you join her.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: And the rest, Master?

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Waiting in the room. Don't worry about them. See you soon.

Sensational Girl offered him a deep bow and cringed at the feeling of her turning stomach. She could feel him frown at her.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Is something wrong?

He was trying to sound kindly, but really sounded irritated.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: N- no, Master.

She pulled herself upright and plastered an obedient smile on her face.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'll go change and then help Lisa.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Very good.

The paunchy man-

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: The Super-Stalker!

-turned and left her to go about her business. She felt her heart yearning to be in his presence again, even as her head protested every movement she made. She walked into the kitchen to see Lisa Arvanis hard at work, wearing a French maid's costume that bared much of her skin. She looked up and glared at Sensational Girl.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: About time you got here. Everyone's been waiting, some of us for days. Go get changed. I'll take care of the food.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: But Master told me to do it before I change.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: If that's what Master said, then fine. Whatever, hurry up anyways.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yes, okay.

Sensational Girl did not understand why she knew where everything went. She finished the job of putting away her groceries in seconds, and then quickly rushed to the small, second bedroom of the apartment and got her own maid's uniform out of the closet.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: What am I doing? Where is this place, and how do I know where everything is and how to do all of this? This is ridiculous!

Sensational Girl had little time to ponder her conundrum before a tray was shoved into her hands by the rather hostile PMBS reporter, and she followed the other blonde into the living room where two maids were busy rubbing the Master's feet while four others stood quietly against the wall, eyes down, hands folded neatly in front of their bellies. He looked up and smiled.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Ah, here we are, tea time.

The maids who were rubbing his feet jumped in surprise and scurried back against the wall as he sat more upright to take his tea. He snapped his fingers and two other maids produced a table for the tray to be set down upon, the whole dance done in a matter of moments with a mechanical smoothness to it.

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Here you are, Master.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Milk or sugar, Master?

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Heh heh heh. No, I'll take mine as is.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Yes, Master.

They then stood where they were to be ready should he need anything.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: I'll bet you're wondering why you're here.

Lisa and Sensational Girl glanced at each other.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Two of you are going to be my maids. The others... I'm not sure yet what I want from you, but we are building something of a harem here, and you all will have a chance to show what your made of.

Hannah_zps81uqijk1.jpg Hannah: What you're made of.

His eyes shot up, full of malice towards her, and he produced a notebook, a wire-bound notebook with a brown, leather cover, and flipped to an empty page.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Miss Hannah, there is no correcting the Master.

He wrote it down in his ratty notebook. He held it up and showed it to her.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: No correcting the Master! Do you understand?

Hannah_zps81uqijk1.jpg Hannah: Yes, Master...

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: You're punishment will be carried out by Sensational Girl and Lisa. What shall we go with, hm?

He looked up at them and smiled.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No dessert?

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: For a superhero, that's awfully tame... Lisa?

Lisa%20Arvanis_zpslq6amqry.jpg Lisa Arvanis: Caning.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: A bit of a sadist, then...

He flipped his notebook open to her page.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Ah yes, I see. You're a bit of a tsundere, I wrote. Yes. You're the tsundere. And Sensational Girl...

He flipped through a few more pages.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Yes. Sweet but a bit dumb, I remember now.

He glanced up at the girls and they stared at him expectantly.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Alright, her punishment, you'll have to hash it out on your own.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: May I ask a question, Master?

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Of course, Sensational Girl. What would you like to know?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: What is that notebook?

He frowned at her.

SuperStalker_zpse1d74b90.jpg The Super-Stalker: Even under my spell, you still want to know that... This is my notebook. It helps you follow the rules. My rules. The ones I make. The ones I make because I have the power to make them. And because I know what powers you have, I've made a special rule for you: you can't use your powers against me at all, but I can use them to make my own stronger. So now, instead of just trying to get autographs from you ungrateful spinsters, I can make you do whatever I want. And right now, I want you to wait on me hand and foot. Sensational Girl, my right hand. Lisa, my left. Jen and Kristie, my feet once again.

The girls snapped into immediate motion, picking up his extremities and massaging them exactly how he asked. Hannah jumped away from the wall to help him sip his tea, and the sixth picked up the TV remote and flipped the channels for him. Sensational Girl, her mind still more or less her own, wondered just how she was going to get out of there with her body disobeying her orders. And not being able to use her powers no less...

NMUSpidey

The Best Defense #110

So, yeah, Kari's pregnant. I wonder if the baby'll have super powers. Oh, but first she actually has to survive her pregnancy. Let's see if she can! But first...

REPLIE- uh, I mean... reply:

Schulmanator: Yup! Nannite armor seems like a pretty good deal. I'm sure nothing bad will come of it. And yeah, I'm sure Sensational Girl's gonna have a smooth, eventless pregnancy. Sure.

DHQ1_zps7380dfaa.jpg

The home of The Best Defense...

Sensational Girl exited their bathroom holding what he knew on sight was a pregnancy test.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Taro...

Taro-5.jpg Taro: No way. No way!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Like, way, Taro! Like, totally way!

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Wow, a baby. This is great.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, I know. But you know, I don't exactly have the safest job in the world...

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Hm, that is true... It might change things for you and your teammates for a while.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Might?

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Heh, definitely. It'll definitely change things. How do you think they'll react?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I have no idea. I hope they'll be happy about it, too. I hope they'll be happy if we have a second child, too.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: It'd be nice to have two or three. But who'll take care of them?

Sensational Girl gave Taro a sweet smile.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Heh, seriously? I'm supposed to sit at home and take care of the babies?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hehehehe, I seriously doubt you'll like, be sitting while you're taking care of them.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: I'll have to talk to Austin about it. I'll have to start researching it, too. I know we weren't being too careful recently, but I wasn't really expecting this to happen.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I know. We're still like, really young. It's weird to think that we're gonna be parents.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Weird? It's awesome! This might be the best thing to happen to us in our lives, besides actually meeting each other.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, I know! Oh, I'm so excited! I'm soooo excited

***

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Later that day...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: ...and I already got checked out by Dr. Brooks this morning. So I know that it's not just a faulty test or anything.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Way to go, Sensational Girl.

The Defenders were all impressed by how sincerely he said it. There was nary a hint of his normal mockery or sarcasm at all. He was genuinely happy for her. She smiled at him, but Fearless' words wiped it right off her face.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Well, this is certainly going to change our strategy.

Fearless leaned back in his seat. He picked up one of the tablets and swiped through it.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: You'll be off of first alert for the duration of your pregnancy.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: What? But I feel fine right now. I can work the same as I always have.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: But soon you won't be able to. And we need to think about the well-being of your new baby, too. Let's see how this affects you over the next few weeks. None of us have dealt with this before, and I won't be the first leader to lose a member's child because of negligence or carelessness. I appreciate that you want to stay active, but now we have to consider special circumstances.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm sorry that this is gonna make it harder on you guys.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Heh, no, it's not like that.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: We're a family! Family takes care of each other. You've taken such great care of me, it's only natural that when you need it I take care of you, too. All of us, you know? A baby, the first Defenders baby-

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Hey, Cosmette, are you forgetting about me?

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Hahaha, no, Uncle Derrick, but your mom wasn't a Defender.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: No, but my dad was. He was as important to me growing up as my mom was.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Yeah, I suppose so...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Anyways, I want to keep you a bit safer, so we'll dial back your combat training and put you on reserve status.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Aw, reserve?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: You're still going to be drawing your salary and all our benefits and you and Taro will still be residing here as always.

Fearless used his orders voice. No one questioned his orders voice.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: So reserve for you. We'll keep you here in the buildling with Eikyou for island-wide communications.

Sensational Girl sulked in her chair, clearly unhappy with her new assignment. Cosmette reached over to comfort her and Fearless went on with his orders.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Versus, I want you hanging out here a bit more often. With Sensational Girl's new status she's going to need more protection-

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hey! Come on, I can handle myself in a fight, Captain Walker said so!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Not that I think that you've suddenly become a delicate, sensitive flower or anything, but this is a team, and we use teamwork. Pregnancy is going to change your capabilities, and I won't have you getting hurt if it can be helped.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Yeah, better to put me in front of her to get hurt instead, is that what you're saying?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Yes.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I'd say something sexually suggestive about using my body however you like, but pregnant women turn me off.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hey-!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Should I ask Cosmette to stick around here instead?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: No, I'm totally fine with protecting the house.

Versus gave Sensational Girl his sweetest smile. Cosmette giggled, earning a glare from her blonde friend.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Geez! No, I'll be fine, I mean, we all have to like, put up with Versus anyways.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: It's not putting up with, it's getting to hang out with! You're a lucky girl, Sensational Girl! You and Eikyou, both!

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Yes, extremely lucky. Fearless, I have been in contact with Rachel from the Justice. They are monitoring solar system for anything that appears out of the ordinary. So far, there is no trace whatsoever of Titus' Remoran craft.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Yeah, and there won't be. I've told you a million times, there is no way the Remoran leaders are gonna sign off on Space Hitler's wish to destroy earth. No way.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Well, it is better to be prepared.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I don't think so. I think it's better to go out there and hit them before they can hit us. I told you, we go there, off space Hitler, and the Remorans will be so afraid of us that they'll never even think of touching us here ever for the rest of time.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: This all seems like, weird to me. They're like, this outer space force with ridiculous technology from the whole galaxy, and they're scared of us?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Everyone's scared of nuclear weapons. It'd be a small thing to make what we've got here on earth fly out into space where we can shoot them indiscriminately. It ain't like what you see in the movies. Force fields and shields and crap like that don't exist in reality. A nuclear warhead would tear through almost an entire fleet in about as much time as it would take me to stand up and sit down right now. It doesn't work like it does in the movies.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Still, we should go tearing off into Remoran space to kick their ass on their own home turf. If that guy had the guts or the political clout to come here in whatever reality you ended up in-

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: I don't think that they wanted to come here to fight us or conquer Earth. They were talking about the Lanagians.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: That's who we encountered when we went after Zama when he kidnapped the magical girls. They didn't seem to like us, I mean, people from Earth in general, very much either.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Rotten bunch, the whole lot of them... We should go up there and kick some ass and chew some bubble gum but forget to bring the bubble gum so all we have left is the ass-kicking. The island's been so quiet since we got back. I mean, we're sitting on like an eternity's worth of nothing, not even a suspected sighting of anyone. What are we even doing here?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: You're fulfilling your duty to the team and the island. But let's say, hypothetically, that we were to decide to go into space to stop your Space Hitler before he can come back here. How would we go about getting there?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I still have a few favors I can cash in...

NMUSpidey

The Best Defense #109

So they're settling back into their new, uh, old place (I wrote it and I still don't know how to refer to it), and we're sitting on more than a month's worth of boredom now. But first...

REPLIES!

Schulmanator: Cosmette's new skin is really shiny! She could fry an egg on her forearm on a really sunny day!

Mymyjp: Yeah, Taro's growing into a great man. He's gonna have his limits tested eventually, though. This issue will help explain how!

SimCoug: Heh, I love that line. And yeah, Versus truly earned that milk. He got more than he could drink in one sitting. Got some cheese, too.

Tonraq: Yeah, Sensational Girl's cosmic powers were really operating at peak efficiency when she met him!

And now, TBD#109!

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A month and a half later...

Captain Walker came at Sensational Girl with a flurry of wicked blows. She stumbled backwards, turning them all away looking completely panicked as she fell to the ground. She rolled to her hands and knees and scrambled away as Captain Walker struck at her again, but was unsuccessful in evading a nasty swing of the Captain's leg. It struck Sensational Girl in her ribs, but she rolled with it, sprawling on the ground to her left. She whipped her own legs around and tangled them with Captain Walker's, knocking her combatant down. Sensational Girl took the opportunity to scramble back to her feet once again and lunged for the button to end the combat. Captain Walker was faster than Sensational Girl thought, and instead of slamming her hand down flat on the button, Captain Walker grabbed her ankled and yanked her backwards, slamming her face-first onto the ground. Captain Walker kept her arm wrapped around Sensational Girl's ankle and rolled upwards onto Sensational Girl's back, wrenching her leg up off the ground.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: YAAAH! I give up! I give up!

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: That was a good job.

Captain Walker released her leg and helped her to her feet.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: You're doing better than you were even just a month or so ago.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Better? I barely get anywhere near the button, and it was a miracle I even saw it this time. I hate combat training.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: You're going toe-to-toe with a seasoned special forces veteran. I'm not pulling my punches anymore, I'm not holding back, and even with your non-violent background you're still getting within fractions of an inch of winning.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Some winning. It's not like I can actually beat you in a fight.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Beating me isn't the goal. You're part of a team, remember? You need to survive, and you can do that. Now you know how to punch properly, you have a variety of useful offensive moves you can easily do, you know how to counter most attacks without hurting yourself or conceding position, and I'll even bet that using your powers to take away someone like Super Pecs' powers you could take him down if you had to.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: You think so?

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: This is a serious matter, I wouldn't lie to you for the sake of your feelings. If I say you're combat ready, you're combat ready. Still, I wouldn't go challenging fighters like Halloran or Ami by yourself, but that's why you're part of the team.

Captain Walker and Sensational Girl began walking out of the training room beneath The Cliffs. They walked down the hall to the elevators and began the long journey up to the club house.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Fearless mention anything about Red Bear?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: He went to New York a little over a month ago. Apparently Dr. Richards was successful in sending him off to find the magical girls. We haven't heard back from him yet.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Strange that there's no trace of them here.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, everything's been weird since our battle with Black Alchemist...

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Are you doing alright?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, more or less. Eikyou's been helping with the nightmares. She thinks it's less from the trauma and more of an aftereffect of Black Alchemist's powers.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: We still don't know everything he's capable of...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah. All I know is that the moment I touched his powers to turn them off, it was like my body was like, completely on fire. I threw up blood.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Nasty.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Pff, yeah, like, totally. So even I have no idea what he's really capable of. At least there's been nothing wrong with me or my powers since we got back.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: That's good. Just the nightmares, then, huh?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yup, just the nightmares.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Are you going to tell the team anytime soon, then?

Captain Walker gave Sensational Girl a nonchalant look.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Tell them what?

Sensational Girl looked back, nonplussed. Captain Walker studied Sensational Girl's face passively.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: You don't know either, then. You should buy a pregnancy test, and have Dr. Brooks check you out again.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: What? What? How- I mean, you can tell? I can't even tell. I had no idea...

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Everyone thinks that only super heroes are the ones with powers.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: That's not true, I know you have powers, but what does being able to read body language really well have to do with telling whether or not someone is pregnant?

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Just enough to be able to see that you move a little differently now that your body is changing. Congratulations.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'm barely two days late, and you can already tell I've changed that much?

Sensational Girl stared at her in disbelief.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: I can see things are just different enough about you, and after thinking about it for a little while I realized where I had seen those changes before. It was in pregnant women. If you decide to keep it, this will be the first baby born to an active duty Defender.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Like, are you serious? My baby would be the first Defenders baby?? Like, that is so totally awesome. I can't wait to tell Pene-chan!

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: The Starks can wait.

Captain Walker put her hand on Sensational Girl's shoulder, sobering her right up.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Talk to your husband first, then tell Fearless and Dr. Brooks. You're going to have to think about the kind of lifestyle you'll be bringing a child into. This isn't something to do on a lark.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah...

Sensational Girl eyed her sourly. If her colleague was right and she was pregnant (and she rather hoped that she was), then there was no WAY she could give up the baby, regardless of the risks. A half-Asian baby, just like Penelope! She knew Taro would be thrilled, too. Still, better to wait a few days to make sure her period actually WAS late, and Captain Walker was not mistaken.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'll talk to Taro first.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: You do that.

The doors opened and the two women stepped out into the club house. It was empty.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Everyone out?

Sensational Girl walked over to the sofa to pick up her mobile device.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: There are no patrols. Fearless has had you guys on 24-hour alerts since you've been back, but things have been quiet.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, too quiet.

Sensational Girl flicked through information on her mobile device.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Versus is at a sushi bar. Apparently he's become good friends with this Sakae guy. Fearless and Eikyou are talking with some students at UMarq, Cosmette is doing some kind of community outreach in Mt. Plains, Titus is working in Dr. O'Sullivan's lab with his dad and Taku. Since he came back I've been trying to get a hold of his new suit's powers, but the nano... nanniots... tiny things in his armor keep, like, blocking me somehow.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: His new armor is something unique, for sure.

Captain Walker stared out at Shinbashi stretching across the bay between Stranahan Hills and Mori-cho.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: It worries you?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: A little.

Sensational Girl set her mobile device back down and walked across the vast room for the kitchen area.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: You want some water or tea?

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: What kind of tea do you have in there?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hm... Kocha and... green. Both cold.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: No. I'll be heading back to the Unit in a few minutes anyways.

Captain Walker walked over to stand next to Sensational Girl and lowered her voice.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: To tell you the truth, if you're experiencing difficulties getting a read on his new suit combined with my own distrust of things from space-

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Including Coyote Versus?

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Especially Coyote Versus.

Captain Walker frowned at the mention of his name.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: You keep an eye on him. Those nannites in Titus' armor, though, we don't know anything about them: who made them, their intended purpose, how they haven't killed him, or even just how much more powerful they are than his old armor. These things worry me. Dr. O'Sullivan and Dr. Brooks are treating it like a potential miracle cure for all kinds of problems, but no one has answers for those simple questions.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Like, even the simplest questions can have complicated answers...

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Exactly. You keep an eye on him, and be careful. I'll get going now. Let Fearless know that I'll be sending him a report on your progress. Lt. Matsugi will be here this afternoon.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: 了解 [ryoukai=understood]. Thanks for the training. Bye, Captain Walker.

LieutenantWalker_zpsa577cb16.jpg Captain Walker: Good bye, Sensational Girl. And thank you for being a good student.

With that, the Captain was gone, and Sensational Girl sighed, her hand placed subconsciously on her belly as she walked back across the room to stare out at the city. The potential pregnancy out of her mind, she pondered the questions surrounding Titus' new nannite armor. Captain Walker seemed a bit overly paranoid at times, but was this one of them? She could not tell. She sighed and wished, yet again, that Penelope was with her. She was so much smarter than her, she would know what to do...

NMUSpidey

The Best Defense #108

As we settle back into our 'new' Port Matthew, so do our heroes. But first...

REPLIES!

SimCoug: Yeah, I loved the idea of bringing him back and having him remember stuff. He was always a good guy deep down. And Unlucky Dude? We'll be seeing him again soon. And shenanigans.

Mymyjp: Thank you! And yeah, I know, right? That is one of my all-time favorite buildings.

Schulmanator: Hahah, well, I hope I can keep on delivering! I'll do my best!

And now, The Best Defense #108!

DHQcloserup3_zps84277653.jpg

Defenders' HQ...

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Why is it that everyone gets to come back perfectly healthy, and I'm the one stuck here with every part of my body bumped and bruised?

Coyote Versus had not given up his whining in the four days since returning. On his spaceship near the edge of Remoran territory he had felt fine, but as soon as they walked away from Captain Willis and back into reality, he had collapsed with a number of quite major internal injuries and was whisked away to Dr. Brooks' infirmary and patched back together. As his body's healing began to pick up the pace, his impatience at being a patient began to reach its end.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You're about to get a clean bill of health. Dr. Brooks' files have been updated, and it seems that you can add a kind of expedited healing time on your rather meagre list of powers.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Meagre list of powers, jeez, you're supposed to be my friend, Ami... But that means I get to get up finally? I'm outta here?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Fearless is coming now. You're about to get an assignment. Congratulations.

Coyote Versus put a satisfied smirk on his face and turned towards the door expectantly. Fearless walked in looking as grim and serious as ever. Dr. Brooks and an older Japanese man Versus did not recognize were behind him.

072030a5-aedd-4a4c-8573-80b541426a2e_zpsead53437.jpg Dr. Brooks: Mr. Versus, you're cleared for duty. I'll need to check up on you in a week, but for now you're released from bed, officially.

Versus did his best to contain his feelings and stretch as he swung his legs out of bed.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Ah, thanks, Doc. It's nice to not have to be stuck in this room.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Put some clothes on, Versus, and join Taku and I in the computer room. We're gonna need to know everything you know about the Remorans.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Alright, hold on.

Versus tore his hospital gown off and the three men sighed and turned around as the bounty hunter swiftly dressed. He had his clothes back on (all of them and properly) in less than 45 seconds.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Who's this guy? He's in intelligence? You're trusting me in intelligence? That's quite the honor, Fearless, I didn't know you felt that way about me.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I don't. Taku here is a member of the third team, his cosmic awareness will let me know if what you're saying is the truth.

Coyote Versus frowned at Taku, who smiled sweetly in return, and then hurriedly followed Fearless from the room and walked down the hallway next to him.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I'm an honest guy, Fearless, what do you need him for? If you can't trust an alien pirate, who can you trust?

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: He's not an alien, he was born in Dayton, Ohio. His mom was a hotel clerk for a while. His original name is Reggie Herbster.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Reggie?

Fearless raised an eyebrow at him.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Well, once we were in space, and I wasn't that old when we left, I got nicknamed Coyote by one of my dad's friends and it stuck.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: That is true. He'll be more or less honest, and I'll try to keep him in line as much as I can.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Thank you, Taku. So Versus, you want something to drink before we start?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I could really go for a like, a gallon of milk...

***

DHQcloserup2_zpsf08da935.jpg

072030a5-aedd-4a4c-8573-80b541426a2e_zpsead53437.jpg Dr. Brooks: I cannot detect any significant changes in your physiology or power level.

Dr. Brooks set his tablet down and peered at Cosmette.

072030a5-aedd-4a4c-8573-80b541426a2e_zpsead53437.jpg Dr. Brooks: I honestly do not know why you're acting so concerned about it. You've been perfectly healthy and normal in your metal skin for years. If anything, you've regressed in your skills with it, but that's just something you'll have to work out on your own, or with Eikyou. There is nothing physically wrong or different about you, according to my files.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I was kind of afraid that this would be the case.

Cosmette was watching her shimmering, silvery metal flash back over her arms and hands.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: You read our incident reports, right? You know what happened to us.

072030a5-aedd-4a4c-8573-80b541426a2e_zpsead53437.jpg Dr. Brooks: I've read them, and even with all that I've seen in this job, this is easily the most unbelievable. I do believe it, of course, but you'll have to forgive me for failing to make quick adjustments to it. I've known you this way for years now, since you came to us, and my readings confirm what I've always believed: you have phenomenal cosmic powers and a shiny metal skin that prevents you from harm and aging, which as a teenager in the body of a 12-year-old, is a bit of a mixed blessing, is it not?

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I'm used to it by now. Sensational Girl's helped me out a lot.

072030a5-aedd-4a4c-8573-80b541426a2e_zpsead53437.jpg Dr. Brooks: Yes, now I've got some of Titus' new data to run through. That nannite armor of his is really quite something. Dr. O'Sullivan and I have been pouring over it for the last three days, and it's still turning up surprises. I wonder where he got that...

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Same place I got this.

Cosmette tapped her metallic belly. Dr. Brooks laughed and they walked out.

072030a5-aedd-4a4c-8573-80b541426a2e_zpsead53437.jpg Dr. Brooks: Hahaha, yes, that's right. I'll get this all settled in my mind and then we won't have these misunderstandings anymore. I am sorry, Cosmette.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Oh, it's okay. I'm just glad I'm healthy. Good luck with Titus' new armor!

072030a5-aedd-4a4c-8573-80b541426a2e_zpsead53437.jpg Dr. Brooks: Thank you, Cosmette!

Cosmette waved goodbye and marveled at how her new look had changed how she felt about her new powers. Instead of being shiny and black as pitch like obsidian, she was silvery and reflective, like a mirror, or chrome. The metal again spread over her like a second skin, and she could even see her fingernails and toenails on her hands and feet. It was very easy to control. She could pull it all the way back from her head, arms, and legs, and when she pushed a bit she could make it disappear completely, allowing her to enjoy her first hot shower in years. It still was apparently not allowing her to age, the same as before, but she had much more tactile feel through the metal this time, able to feel the textures and temperatures of the things she touched. The first time she sat down on a chair and felt the fabric beneath her was an eye-opener. Sensational Girl was still teasing her about the look of happy surprise that had appeared on her face. Speaking of whom, she wondered how she was doing...

***

DHQNightcloserup2_zps48224e4b.jpg

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Yes, this has been the best three days of our married life. Where did you say you went? My security clearance doesn't let me look at the files.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I went all over. It was all Port Matthew, but they were like, different Port Matthews, and it was all Black Alchemist's fault. We stopped him, but... Uncle Charlie, he wasn't so sure.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: What? Why not?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: 'No body, no dead.' I swear, that's like, his favorite phrase in the whole darn multiverse.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: 'No body, no dead,' huh?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yup.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: That's not especially encouraging.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: No, it's not. Fearless got like, all antsy-looking about it, too, probably kept him up all night worrying about it.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Black Alchemist will turn back up again...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I hope not. Or at least I hope it's after I retire.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Was he scary?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Like, the scariest thing ever. I tried to shut down his powers, and instead I felt my insides get torn apart and I puked up blood. As many times as we've fought him, and we still don't know everything about his powers. Uncle Charlie and me, we went through his files, and we updated them with what I just told you, but... it's really weird. We know more about Zama than we do about him. That just strikes me as weird. You don't think that's weird?

Taro-5.jpg Taro: Oh, it's weird alright. But everything you've told me over the last four days has been weird. Nothing's really changed for me, but you've all had like, these really wild adventures. For me you went to sleep on Thursday and you woke up with me on Friday, and it's all just the same to me. I wish I could understand this better.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Penelope would understand it.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: She would. She understands everything, but then again, she was the smartest girl in our school.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I used to know her as Nina.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: You said that. The name doesn't ring any bells.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, only Cosmette seems to remember that. Even Fearless and Eikyou don't. My memories, they're really weird about it, too... It's like, I have these two sets of memories, one of them that I remember clearly, like those are the ones that make up my life, right? Where she's Penelope and we grew up together and then she met Marv and we met and then he... he died, and then there was the crazy attack on our school, and then we all left Mt. Plains. Then there's this one just underneath it, it feels more like a dream than anything I really experienced, but it happens almost exactly the same, but her name is Nina, and things are just, like, a teeny, tiny, little bit different, just different enough to make me doubt myself.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: I hope your cosmic powers aren't driving you crazy. I don't want to only be able to visit you in The Mines.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hahaha, shut up, jerk! This job is crazy, Taro. I can do it if I know you're here for me. There's no way I could do this alone.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: You don't have to. I'm always here for you.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Thank you, Taro.

Taro-5.jpg Taro: You're welcome, Kari.

While Taro did not fully understand what his wife had gone through, he could feel what she felt all the same. He held her tight, hoping that he would be able to do so for a long time...

NMUSpidey

The Best Defense #107

Heh, so I totally missed New Comic Book Day yesterday, but I was teaching classes all day and I was tired so even though it's the same excuse I have right now it's the one I'm using anyways. Still, new issue's out! But first...

REPLIES!

Mymyjp: You are looking at the most likely. But two buildings closely resembling it are the and the I love all three. And yeah, so long, Capt. Willis! You'll be missed!

Schulmanator: Nope! They sure won't! No one wants to actually read the happy ending anyways.

Kisa Atsuko: If Suibijo has her way...

slickbg56: Thank you very much! The reason I sat on this for so long was because I want to be a good 15-20 issues ahead to prevent long shortages like the one I just had. Hopefully I can hold it together this time!

And now, TBD#107!

7121984C_zpsb659a6ee.jpg

Sakae's Sushi Bar in Southport...

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I don't know what happened. I was supposed to become the greatest hero the galaxy's ever known, but instead I'm just some shlub floating through life in a series of dead-end jobs, eating [expletive] sushi by myself.

Sakae eyed the young man.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: My sushi is amazing, I'll have you know. But what do you know about life? You look like you're barely a teenager out of high school, and you're whining about a series of dead-end jobs? That's all you're gonna find without any trade training or college education.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Compared to being the being of ultimate power in the galaxy, everything is a dead-end job. The most powerful being in the galaxy. I read all the signs right. I was born on the right day in the right hospital. I was raised in the right neighborhood in the right town on this island. I know all about the Nexus and I can still even feel the effects of CTD trying to save this miserable reality, the bastard. But anyways, no, all I have is my stupid high school diploma and my shitty job as a porter at the BMW dealer in East Bank.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: How could you read the signs right? If you just said you were born in the right part of Port Matthew on the right day, how could you have any idea what the signs are?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I... don't actually know how to explain it. It was just like, I had a chance at getting another life. I saw the oppportunity to take it and that's what I did.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Reincarnation?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Not exactly. Like I said, it's a little hard to explain. I do know that the link between where I came from and where we are now was opened just recently, just a tiny, little opening. I got the feeling that it's generally a one-way sort of thing, but you know, this whole thing was a cosmic accident. But instead of becoming the ultimate power in the galaxy, I'm filling lease special 3-Series with gas for status-seeking nobodies. It's depressing, man.

Sakae nodded. There were always lost souls [like Versus] from alternate realities filtering through his doors, most because they heard from a friend of a friend that he could get them to where they needed to be, but occasionally, as with this young man down on his luck, apparent blind chance led them beneath the little half-curtains to a seat at the counter to eat delicious sushi and talk about their interdimensional woes. This man was a bit different, however. He looked less like he was lost and more like he had just missed his train.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Where is your home?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I just told you-

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Yes, yes, I saw the link, too. What I mean is, what were we linked to?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: It's the energy at the center of the multiverse. There's so much of it that people can draw it into their bodies and hurl it at each other. They call it wielding. I call it freaking insanity. Thank the Gods I'm not stuck in that mess with that group of nitwits anymore.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: The center of the multiverse? Come on, that's just a myth. The multiverse is infinitely huge, it has no center. I've heard these stories before.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Oh, it exists. I won't fight you about whether or not it's the center of the multiverse, but that energy that's there, the energy that binds all the realities together, it's all there.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Ridiculous.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I know. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't come from there and seen it with my own two eyes.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: What did you see?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Well, since this world seems to have its share of superheros, the powers people have there aren't really anything special. But the weird physical laws, the haunted forest and the ghost town with its floating mountains, and a ruined version of this city (where their end of the link is), and the people who call themselves gods, there are some interesting things to see.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: I've never met anyone who's traveled the link.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: I'm not surprised. So far as I know, I'm the only one who's made it back.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Back? You traveled both ways?

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Yeah. I lived a whole life there, I had a wife and children and grandchildren-

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Grandchildren??

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Yup. I was old and dying, and when I died I found my way back through the link somehow.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: So you are pretty special.

UnluckyShlub_zps20a84115.jpg Unlucky Dude: Pretty much. Anyways, listen. I missed my shots at being cosmically special and getting cosmic powers in the meteorite crash, but if you know anything else that might work, it would be nice to know...

***

DHQ1_zps7380dfaa.jpg

Defenders' HQ, The Cliffs...

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: They were here, and now I'm the only one who remembers! You have to let me talk to them!

Red Bear stood in the lobby of the Best Defense HQ in an argument with the receptionist. She was not budging on her insistence that he show some kind of security clearance in order to reach the upper florrs to meet the Defenders. She gave him a flat, unimpressed look and sighed.

Receptionist_zpsb3581e3d.jpg Receptionist: Look, I've already told you many times, you are not allowed access unless you show me your security clearance. So please, if you do not have it, I'll call for security and- hey! Wait! That's a restricted area!

Red Bear rolled his eyes and simply walked around the desk for the elevators. They required a key card (which he did not have) and then he noticed the stairwell. Those required a key card as well, but for someone with his strength, wrenching the doorway free of its hinges would be a simple thing. He reached out for it as Fearless stepped off the elevator near him.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Red Bear, it's nice to see you again.

He bowed in greeting and Red Bear bobbed an awkward bow back.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Uh, yeah, yes, Fearless, nice to see you again.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Would you like something to drink? We have some tea and juice and soda of some sort upstairs.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: But, my security clearance-

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Don't worry about it, our receptionist can be a little thick sometimes.

Fearless cast an irritated look over his shoulder at her.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Come on, let's take the elevators, they're much faster.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Uh, alright...

They were whisked up through the building in seconds, the elevator arriving with zero drama near the top of the tower. Fearless stepped off first and Red Bear followed, walking down a short hallway and through a doorway into the airy, sunny club house of the Best Defense. There were large, flat-screen TVs with video games, several comfortable chairs and sofas with coffee tables, an air hockey table, and breathtaking views of Port Matthew through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Fearless walked behind a counter that separated a kitchen area from the rest of the club house and opened the fridge.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: What do you want?

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Uh... Coke? You got Coke?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Yeah...

Fearless retreived a Coke from the fridge and poured himself some water and he gestured Red Bear to a sofa to sit down. He set the Coke in front of Red Bear and addressed him.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: So you're worried about some missing girls?

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: The magical girls. I was with them when we fought Zama in the Wastes. I was supposed to meet them for lunch again on Friday, but they were gone. I called their numbers, the ones that always worked before, but those numbers are out of service. They're just... gone. And no one remembers them.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Yes, I see. I actually don't remember them either-

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Oh, no...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: -but Sensational Girl and Cosmette might. I'm having them meet us here with Taku. We might be able to help you out with this.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: They were good, Fearless. They were really good and I think they might be in trouble.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Why do you think that they might be in trouble?

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Because if I'm the only one who remembers them, that means that someone decided that I wasn't important enough to hide them from, or that I was just overlooked. You guys, they got you guys and you guys are important and powerful, I know that. It doesn't take a genius to see that.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I see...

Sensational Girl skipped into the room with Cosmette.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Hey, Fearless, you called?

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: We were about to go get some lunch in the Blue Village. You wanna go? Oh, hi, Red Bear!

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Hi, Cosmette, Sensational Girl. Do you remember Hoshi-Hime? Mizu-no-Hime? Hi-no-Hime?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah, I remember them. Why? What happened?

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: They're gone!

Cosmette gasped, realizing it before Red Bear could explain.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: They were here until our thing, of course, and now they're gone!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I don't remember, they're not in our files, and there is no trace of them left. Eikyou has told me that she does not remember them, either. Ami finds no mention of them in any computer system anywhere in the city. I wonder if your cosmic powers protected you a little from whatever has affected the rest of us.

Taku joined them in the room.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: This is what I was talking about yesterday. Hello, Cosmette, Sensational Girl. And is this Red Bear? Nice to see you again, I see you're doing quite well in your rehabilitation.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: I've been working hard.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: Good. So, give me a minute and Cosmette and I will see if we can find your missing girls. Eikyou, you there?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Always.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: Patch me through to Cosmette.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Sensational Girl?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Here's your boost, Eikyou.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Thank you. You are all set, Taku, Cosmette. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: Thanks. Okay, Cosmette, let's see what we can find...

There were several minutes of silence as Taku's and Cosmette's eyes closed and they searched the realities for Red Bear's missing magical girls. Red Bear watched them intently, his impatience making his Coke shake in his hand. Just as he was about to say something, both cosmic beings gasped and their eyes opened once again.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: They're hidden...

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: It's magical hiding, so if you know any magicians who are especially good at concealment magic, that will narrow your search for them.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Naruki. His name is Naruki Matsugae. He was partnered with Juliet and Morning Angel in our fight, he stole Hoshi-Hime and Hi-no-Hime and put them under his control.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: Yes, and he stole them away from us just as reality ended after we defeated Black Alchemist. There was nothing we could do.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Well, can you tell if they're safe at least?

Cosmette and Taku exchanged uneasy glances and then shrugged at Red Bear.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I'm sorry, Red Bear. There's not much we can see.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: Whoever this Naruki is, he's a very powerful magician. He's hiding them from us, from anyone looking for them, and only Cosmette's powers combined with my expertise were able to even have an idea of where they went. So at least they're not gone, they're just hidden.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: And then this celestial 'patch' was laid over the rest of us to try to make us forget? What about Red Bear? He's not protected by cosmic powers.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Maybe his relationship with them was especially strong?

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: You've traveled with them.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Uh... yeah. We were together in the Wastes. We fought our way towards the Defenders and then we all traveled back together.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: You're tied to them.

Taku looked at Fearless.

Taku_zps3988b6b2.jpg Taku: If he's tied to them, he can find them. If he brings them back, however, I don't know if they'll have lives here again.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Their families, their jobs or classes. Red Bear, I'll have Ami start doing some research, if you'll help her. I'd like you to tell her everything you know about them, and if I can, I'll make arrangements for you to fly to New York to see if Dr. Richards can help you.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: You'd do that for me?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Well, you'd be doing it for us, really. It sounds like they were our allies. I won't leave allies behind like that, and if Captain Walker agrees to your helping us, I would extend reserve membership to you for going on this mission for us.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Reserve membership? You mean, like, I'm a Defender?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Reserve Defender, our roster is full right now. I realize that you were living quietly and have no intention of getting back into this world-

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: I wasn't, but-

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: But if you're willing to help find the magical girls, then we'd like to be able to count on you in emergency situations. Do you accept?

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: I... I...

Red Bear glanced around him at the Defenders. Sensational Girl and Cosmette offered him kind smiles of encouragement, Taku watched both him and Fearless cautiously, and Fearless gazed at him with that powerful, intent stare of his. He could not resist.

e5c928f7-dd06-47bd-82ff-5c3524791cfd_zps555bc6c1.jpg Red Bear: Yes. I want nothing more than to help my friends the magical girls, and if I can help them, then I see no reason why I can't help you when you need it. Thank you.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: No, thank you, Red Bear.

Fearless rose to his feet. This prompted everyone to rise.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Welcome to our team. Now, let's get you to Ami...

AND that's it for issue #107! If anyone is interested in Red Bear's adventure to find the magical girls, let me know. Otherwise, I have quite a few projects I'm working on right now and I may not get to it for a while, if ever. Thank you for taking the time to read, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

NMUSpidey

After a one-week break due to the holidays (who's gonna wanna read this on New Year's Eve? Not me, I didn't even wanna prep it!), we are back for New Comic Book Day! Head to your local comic book shop and please the owner by buying all of his issues of Avengers because they are SO worth it! Okay, anyways, replies:

Schulmanator: Oh, she's still out there...

Mymyjp: Hahaha, thanks! The holidays were great for us, I hope they were great for you, as well!

And now, the last piece will be put into place...

EastBank7PMPF_zps61af156b.jpg

The Power Unit Headquarters in East Bank...

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: No. The answer is no.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: No? Why? How can you say no? We can't do this without you, you know?

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: It's no. Look, do you guys have any idea how long I've been at this? How many of your teams I've worked with, how many horrors I've lived through? They just go on and on, my friends, and now that I finally have a chance to, I'm gonna take a pass on this.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: The city needs you, as well. You are one of the most talented, capable men I've ever met, and to continue on without knowing you're leading the Power Unit next to us is not something I want to consider.

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: You don't have to consider it, you have to deal with it. I'm not negotiating with you on this, I'm finished with it. I'm taking my retirement, and giving up my gifts.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Gifts? What gifts?

Versus' question drew a suspicious glare from Captain Willis.

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: Most people have figured out that I have some low-level powers: I age real slow, I don't get hurt, and a lot of people's powers don't affect me, or at least they don't work quite right on me. But I've been leading the Power Unit since we founded them when the island first started to get built up under the second roster. That was like, 60 years ago. I'm tired, and now I have an opportunity to take my retirement and start a new life, a shorter one without these gifts.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: But who's gonna run the Power Unit?

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: Lt. Walker. Call her Captain from now on. I'm sure she'll promote Lt. Matsugi or Lt. Konata to be her second in command. You know them, they are just as capable and tough as I am, and I trust them to keep doing good work after I'm gone. You will, too.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Lt. Walker...

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Captain Walker. She is Captain Walker.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: She's got Lt. Matsugi with her. I guess that means we're finished.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Thank you, Captain Willis, for everything you've done, not just for us, but for the city as well.

Fearless exchanged bows with Captain Willis.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Thanks, Captain Willis.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Thank you, Captain Willis.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Yes, thank you, I appreciate your help since joining the team.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope Stark: Thank you for protecting us all on the island.

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: You're all very welcome.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: So, Cap, we weren't friends for very long there...

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: We weren't friends at all. I don't know where you got the idea we were.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: You know, for a second there, just a split second, I thought we really connected. I felt it, and when we shake hands, I'll bet you feel it, too.

Captain Willis snorted at him.

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: Good luck on the team, Versus.

He slapped the bounty hunter's shoulder and turned away.

CaptainWillis_zpsb40fc042.jpg Captain Willis: If they're going to deal with you, that's all on them. I'll pray for Captain Walker's sanity. I'll see you all around somewhere.

With that, Captain Willis walked away, fading into the whiteness that suddenly filled the Power Unit office in East Bank. The Defenders were left behind to consider what their new reality was going to be like. They began walking.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: You think we're gonna have to fight Halloran again?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Halloran will be more dangerous now that you know where he comes from. It's true, we made him look like a dolt, but even I'll tell you that you don't get the drop on a dude like that more than a couple of times.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Halloran, Shar Pen, whoever's still escaped from the Mines...

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: The Remorans.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Who?

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: The Remorans, they're like, some kind of space army. They blamed us for helping the Lanagians escape them and I ran into them when Morning Angel blasted us all away from each other. It's actually how I got this nannite armor.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We'll have Dr. Sullivan look that over.

Fearless eyed the armor more carefully this time.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Uh, about the Remorans...

Versus looked spectacularly guilty as their attention landed on him.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: What about the Remorans?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Well, you see, they're not especially friendly, and their military leader, he's this bad, racist dude, like a space Hitler or something, and they're not really a space army, they're more like a space UN, but they have two goals: hunt down and kill the Takers and the Lanagians, and contain Earthers to Earth.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: How do you know them?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I was a space cowboy, I meet stuff, and stuff meets me, and we fight, and I kick some ass and get away-

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: More like get lucky and eek out a hasty escape.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Quiet, you infernal set of circuitry!

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Honesty is the best policy. Mr. Versus.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: When we're back, we're going to need that honesty, Versus. We'll use that honesty to create a contingency plan for just in case they come for us.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: They're not coming for you, they're afraid of you going for them.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: What? What do you mean?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: They think that Earth needs to be contained so that you don't conquer every system between here and the edge of the universe.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: The universe is infinite.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Details. They won't come here. It'd be too risky for them.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: They came down to the reality I was at. And then their General, a guy named Texas, or Tarkiss, or Tarker, or something-

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Tarker. That's space Hitler's name, General Tarker.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Okay, Tarker, then, he said he's gonna come back and put and end to us all. He sounded sincere.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: The space UN won't let him. They just won't, not unless he goes rogue, and there are just not enough people and not enough ships in Remoran space who would mutiny with him to come to Earth to get cruise missiled to death. No one wants that.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: How do you know?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I know. Of course, space Hitler's still a bad dude, so when we get back it's probably a good idea to have an idea of how to handle him, but he's really not that tough. Man, is anyone hungry? I'm getting so hungry. Who wants sushi?

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: No, no sushi for me. But if you wanna get some noodles, I'd eat that. Ramen? Udon?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Udon, oo, that sounds good, too. There's this great udon place near Defenders' Square...

And as they walked back into their reality, the new prime reality, everything seemed to fall back into place for them. The team, Fearless and Eikyou, Titus, Versus and Ami, and Cosmette and Sensational Girl, they would remember what had happened in their confrontation with Morning Angel and Juliet and Black Alchemist, as would third-roster-member Taku with his now-quite-faded cosmic powers, but for Penelope Stark, indeed her whole family and all of the prime reality, it would disappear from her mind like a vivid dream, only occasional flashes and images of her time with the Defenders surfacing through the ether in her mind as she returned to her own tragic reality (but that's a whole 'nother story).

***

Somewhere in the void...

d46d5c46-6d05-4c82-a87d-34761d531151_zps48e5c00b.jpg Zama: A way home...

Zama stood at the edge of his prison outside of reality. There was a hole torn out of it. He was able to see all of reality happening around him, and there was a peculiar space rock deep in the heart of the Remoran Empire that he was intensely curious about.

d46d5c46-6d05-4c82-a87d-34761d531151_zps48e5c00b.jpg Zama: If I could use that to get home and get some good, ol' fashioned revenge, then not all this has been for nothing. At least I'm not trapped here anymore. At least I can find something else to do. Surely in this vast universe, there are many interesting things to do...

And Zama zoomed away from his prison in a blur, beginning a journey where the destination was completely unknown...

***

industry_zpsc7752d5c.jpg

Somewhere under industrial Arin, Port Matthew...

11245466_ori_zps4c3284df.jpg Super Orion: Why should we do anything you say after what Versus said about you?

Super Orion stood in front of Halloran as the two attempted to settle their dispute as to who should lead the assembled group of Offenders: Neko-Blaster, Tectonic Playboy, Lunatic, and Ami.

11245466_ori_zps4c3284df.jpg Super Orion: You are a fraud, a failure from a failed future, and now everyone knows it.

Halloran_zpsebf4c05c.jpg Halloran: I'm not a failure, I was never a failure. And all you acting as though you've had more success than me, it's ridiculous. If it wasn't for me, you'd all still be sitting in your cells in the Mines at best, or vaporized like Island Hopper. You should all be thanking me for what I know, because it saved your worthless lives.

8090017967_dff3c93fab_c1_zps505928c1.jpg Neko-Blaster: Lucky, you were just lucky-

Halloran_zpsebf4c05c.jpg Halloran: It has nothing to do with luck. It has everything to do with knowledge, and how we can use that knowledge to our advantage.

TectonicPlayboy_zpsbba8b302.jpg Tectonic Playboy: What knowledge? Your knowledge got you humiliated by Versus and sent to the Mines.

Halloran_zpsebf4c05c.jpg Halloran: My knowledge built me unimaginable fortunes and always helps me be in the right place at the right time. And knowing what I know now? With how things have changed to better fit my future, my timeline? Well, if you follow me, we'll use it all to our advantage. We can wipe the Best Defense off the map.

Suibijo_zps5d76e794.jpg Suibijo: Yes, along with their whole island. Drown the whole damned place.

Halloran_zpsebf4c05c.jpg Halloran: They're going to be gone soon. They're going to be gone and the island's going to be defenseless.

11245466_ori_zps4c3284df.jpg Super Orion: What about the Power Unit?

Halloran_zpsebf4c05c.jpg Halloran: Easily neutralized. Come on. We'll get this planned out...

NMUSpidey

And now, let's continue on with Getting The Band Back Together! And with a bonus screen from Civilization IV standing in for our usual SC4. But first...

REPLIES!

slickbg56: Thank you! I had three or four buildings I was considering. I'm glad I chose that one in the end. It looks awesome at night.

Tonraq: Yeah, what surprises does the new direction have in store for us? Some good ones, for sure!

Schulmanator! It has been BROUGHT!

Mymyjp: Wednesday, being New Comic Book Day, sees our new issues. I'm glad you like the picture!

jmsepe: Thank you!

Kisa Atsuko: Thank you! I never intended to abandon this, but things got busy, and this couldn't get done. But here we are again!

早速, The Best Defense #104:

They get Titus back and his father joins (I couldn't rewrite this interesting enough, so this is what happens).

The Best Defense #105:

VersusInSpace_zpsd4b11c08.jpg

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: I told you that you should have stopped at that last spaceport.

Ami's voice was full of computerized exasperation for Coyote Versus as they floated through space in his fuel-less ship.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: I told you that we didn't have the reserves necessary to make the voyage to Remoran space before we ran out. And now we're run out, and there is no one coming to help us because you had us tracking far outside the normal shipping lines.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Yeah, well, when you're a pirate and every eye that sees you is going to see a huge pile of reward instead of a guy filling up his cruiser, then you're going to have to make risky decisions and end up sitting in space long enough for the solar batteries to power up.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Even with the radiation from the surrounding stars collecting in the solar panels right now, it will take us nearly eight months to save up enough power to make it to Remoran space, but not much further. Do you have rations for eight months? Because if you don't, I'm afraid that I must inform you that there are no parts on the ship that are edible.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: No, I don't have eight months' worth of rations. But someone'll be along to help us out. Other pirates use this line, too.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Other pirates will apprehend you for reward money, too.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Yes, they would, but there are no severe penalties for fighting them off, as opposed to the jail time and stiff fines involved when fighting against the esteemed space gendarmerie. It's a risk worth taking.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: The Remorans are not friendly towards Earthers, you know. We've had to deal with them before.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I'm not Earther.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: You're half-Earther, and that is way more than enough reason for them to treat you poorly.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: But I need that space rock. This is the only other place I can go to get it.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: What do you need it for?

Versus sighed. Was it finally time to come clean? He wondered what the Defenders would think of him, of his ulterior motives for joining them. As the ship hummed dully around him, he took a deep breath and chose his words.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: My parents and their crew are in jail on the Remoran home world. They were accused of stealing that rock from a Remoran warship, some angry General was in charge, I can't remember his name, but he's a real racist bastard, like a Space Hitler. Hates Earth and everything associated with it. But he knew my dad was a Remoran who 'mated' (his word, not mine) with an Earther (like it's some kind of crime) and blamed him for stealing the space rock. My dad, admittedly, does have a kind of interest in that rock, but he didn't steal it.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Then where is it?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Well, in your reality, you guys had it.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: How? There were no records of how it came to be placed in our charge.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: No idea. I couldn't find it in the prime reality.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Are we in the prime reality now?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I was hoping you could tell me, actually.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Hahaha, no, I am most sorry, Mr. Versus.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Oh, I love it when you call me that.

Versus laughed in return, but quickly turned sober again.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: But I think that if we go to the Remoran home world, we might be able to find out where it is and get it in this reality.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Easier said than done at this point.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Maybe even get you an alien-tech body to move around in.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: A sexy-ass robot body? You promised me that, did you not?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Oh yes. A fully-capable, sexy-ass, robot body.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Then I shall be an android, but I shall not be a mere toy for you, Mr. Versus.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: No, you're way more than a toy. Besides, as ridiculous as it sounds, I kinda like you. You might be the first real friend I've ever had. You're certainly one of the very few who's helped me without my having to threaten or bribe you to do so.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Thank you, Mr. Versus.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I was being sarcastic about liking it when you call me that.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: I know.

Versus smiled to himself, and Ami would, too, were she capable of that. After a moment of comfortable silence, there was an alert. Someone had gotten on board the ship and was making his way towards the cabin. No, not someone, someoneS. Who were they? Versus stood up and prepared for a fight, a fight to the death in space. Ami's voice relaxed him.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: As improbable as it seems, the Defenders, an old man, and a young girl are going to walk through the door and into your cabin. You have the devil's own luck.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: I cheated him out of several souls already.

Versus smirked, and as the door opened, he spread his arms wide to greet Fearless, the first one through.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Our leader! I am saved! Oh, thank you!

Versus theatrically threw his arms around Fearless and faked crying tears of relief into his shoulder.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Yes, Versus, you're on our team.

Fearless pushed him away as the other joined him.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Is there a reason you're floating out here in space like this?

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: No. The fates just hate me, that's all.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpgCosmette: They don't hate you, Versus. They led us to you, that's evidence that they love you!

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Heh, yeah, that's probably true. So, I guess I'm staying on the team? I made it past probation?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Passed with flying colors. Welcome aboard.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Who's the half-Asian chick and the old guy? But especially the half-Asian chick?

Versus peered at the two he did not recognize.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Titus, the first one

Titus' dad stepped forward and giving Versus' hand a good, firm shake.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: And Penelope, I'm Kari's friend, and Professor Stark is my dad.

Penelope took her turn to shake his hand, as well.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Professor Stark's daughter? Pleased to meet you, both of you.

Then he put his arm around Penelope and leaned his face close to her.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: You free for dinner or something when we get back? I know this little sushi place, best sushi in the whole multiverse. Trust me, I know.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Hehe, I have a girlfriend.

She saw the stunned look on his face, then disbelief clouded it.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus: Come on, a girlfriend? Really?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Really. I'm like, totally gay.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: She is. She's been a lesbian for years and barely knew it, apparently. Sorry, Versus, looks like you're going to have to find someone else to take advantage of.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: He won't have to look far.

Ami's voice drew all their eyes to his wrist and the little screen with Ami's avatar on it.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: At least he won't if he finds me a suitable android body. May I continue on as a member of your team? My team was... lost...

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Oh, in that 'original' Port Matthew that Morning Angel first took us to... Yes. Please stay with us. You'll have a home and family with us.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: And we'll finally have a monitor duty person! What great luck! We won't even have to interview!

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Monitor duty, yay...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: A sarcastic computer? Who programmed you?

Fearless peered at Versus' wrist curiously.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: I ran into a similar thing when I was lost. I think it was Pierce, though, talking through the computer.

He leaned over and looked at the little screen on Versus' wrist, too.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: You were probably a real person at some point. How you ended up encoded as a computer, though, maybe Dr. O'Sullivan can help us.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Yes, thank you very much.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg Titus: Alright, but now instead of sitting here on the border of Remoran space, maybe we should get ourselves back home. I'm sure we're gonna have to do some major league dusting and grocery shopping when we get back.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Almost. But not yet. There's one more person I think we should find, first...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: And who would that be? I think that the Defenders' roster is full...

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: No, not another teammate, but someone you guys can't work without...

With the band back together, they would need to make one last stop before going home again...

NMUSpidey

Man, I had this whole thing almost written, and then I hit the backspace key to erase a picture, but the whole page jumped back instead, and now I have to start completely over. 45 minutes worth of writing. Dang it. Let's get ourselves reacquainted with The Best Defense before we jump back into the story. Alright, here we go again.

Let's look at Defenders' HQ.

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No, not that one.

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Yeah, there we go. This is where the Best Defense lives and works, with most of their quarters on the upper floors of the taller tower. The tower on the left is where Titus Industries keeps its headquarters.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless is the team's leader. He knows no fear, so the name isn't just for show, and it gives him some measure of invulnerability to villains whose powers are magic or telepathic in nature. He is capable in combat, but his greatest strength lies in his supreme confidence and the ability to inspire it in others. He has a sound tactical mind and has in the past been very stoic, although since loosing his green energy gem (an alien- look, it's a long story) he and his more than BFF Eikyou took a leave of absence where he came across his old sense of humor.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou is the team telepath and therapist. Her main ability is to influence the feelings of those around her, although she has always had low-level telepathic communication skills, boosted to almost full telepathy with Sensational Girl's help. With her background as a therapist and an intelligence officer in the Japanese military- er, that is, self-defense forces, she is a vital asset in helping keep her teammates' mental health good. It is because of her that they do not all come back from a battle in a different dimension against an alien warlord bent on ruining the earth with PTSD.

Titus2_zps4a5a8f3e.jpg The second Titus, Titus follows in his father Titus' footsteps. Wearing an armed battle suit that enhances his strength, Titus can fly and fight with the best of them. On their most recent adventure, his suit was enhanced by the addition of a random dousing of alien nannites. The nannites took everything about his suit (the fifth in a line of suits developed by his father's business partners continuing to the present day), this nannite- enhanced sixth version is easily the most powerful. I am certain that nothing bad will come of it.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette is a 15 y/o girl trapped in a 12 y/o body. She is as powerful as Titus (probably more than his pre-nannite suit, but less than his nannite suit) and cosmically wise, something that helps her not worry too much about her non-aging situation. Anyways, she doesn't age because she is covered in a shiny, metallic skin gained when a meteorite destroyed her house and killed her family. Tragic. She cried a lot until officially joining the Defenders, where she has found a new family. She brings and innocence to the team that is much needed given the backgrounds of the senior members (ex-military, corporate royalty).

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Now in her second year as a Defender, Sensational Girl joined the team after graduating high school after Morning Angel attacked her school and it was revealed that she has cosmic powers, too. She has the ability to boost or deny the powers of those around her, although shutting off someone's powers makes her extremely nauseous. She is very close to Cosmette and Eikyou, and married to her high school sweetheart Taro.

CoyoteVersus2_zpsaa88f8fe.jpg Coyote Versus is the newest Defender, a half-alien with a big mouth and dashing good looks. He is pursuing a mysterious space rock, although he has not yet revealed why. I'm sure he'll get around to it. Rarely serious about anything, he brings much-needed levity to the team, as well as his sarcastic partner, the probably-sentient computer Ami: Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami's backstory is a mystery, as most of her historical files were corrupted long before meeting the prime reality Defenders. She resides in Versus' capable alien computers for the time being.

And these are a few important former members:

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet was with Fearless, Eikyou, and Titus on the first day the fourth team was revealed. She has magical powers, limited by her inexperience and the relatively short length of her education (although she is still very powerful). She was traumatized in a battle with the villain Shar Pen and left the team for several years, only coming back when Shar Pen appeared once again to wreak havoc on the team. She was secretly allied with Morning Angel, a member of the third team of Defenders (which was the most popular), helping break the hero-turned-villain out of prison to pursue a misguided sense of justice. She vanished with Morning Angel at the end of their battle.

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Pierce and a8972899-c3c6-45c8-82e2-ff9a60691601_zps114c8113.jpg Victory joined on the same day, shortly after Juliet left the first time. Pierce moonlighted for a few years as a Defender as a favor to his long-time friend Fearless where he met Victory and the two became inseparable. They died in each others' arms at the hands of Shar Pen.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel, a member of the immensely popular third team of Defenders, turned on them following what she felt was a forced retirement. She terrorized a high school, killing almost 40 students and staff members and ended up in The Mines (PM's prison for those with powers) until Juliet helped her break out. She warped reality to try to put a perfect one free of suffering and injustice together, but failed as it was all part of someone else's bid to become god.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg The Black Alchemist is the original Defenders' foe, with mysterious powers that they still do not understand. His strategy included Morning Angel destroying all of reality so that he could build his own. The Defenders stopped him, barely, thanks especially to...

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD, a reality-warping oftentimes-foe with a warped sense of humor and the Defenders' occasional ally cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus, an immensely powerful man powered by a staff granted him by an alien god. They sacrificed themselves in the battle against Black Alchemist, and the Defenders are weaving their way through alternate realities for home with the help of Sensational Girl's BFF:

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg The realities warping and changing from Morning Angel's meddling found Nina Stark no longer called Nina Stark but Penelope Stark. She was always Sensational Girl's first choice for help, her smarts propelling her to class valedictorian and a full scholarship at one of the USA's most prestigious schools. She'll surely return back to school and her girlfriend after the adventure is finished. If I ever get up the nerve to recreate my college town in SC4, the story I wrote for her (The Long Winter) might be revealed.

And as for what's happening right now? Well, Morning Angel and Juliet destroyed most of reality unwittingly for Black Alchemist, and the resulting chaos:

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...and..

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...and...

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...nearly wiped us all out in a white void:

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But we're still here! And with Penelope Stark's help, Sensational Girl is finding her teammates and they'll be ready to fight for justice and defend Port Matthew and the Nexus Of All Reality once again! Be sure to join us right here next week for the next installment of The Best Defense! Who is that floating out in space, not quite all by himself? Surely he'd- I mean, they'd rather be back home...

NMUSpidey

REPLIES- er, REPLY!

Schulmanator: It sure is, isn't it? Hopefully the Defenders will be alright once they've regrouped. I wonder where they'll end up?

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: It's time to get the band back together! Sensational Girl enlisted the help of her super-smart friend Penelope Stark (Professor Stark's daughter) to help find her teammates following the apparently partial collapse of reality following Black Alchemist's evil plot. They've found Fearless and Eikyou, now who's next...

APerfectRealityDefendersHQallwhite_zpsace31c9f.jpg

There was nothing there. No air. No light. No darkness. There was no one to talk to, but even if there were, there was no matter through which sound could travel. It was an empty void. A vacuum, but not space. In space, she would be able to feel the energy, see the stars. She could reach out to Eikyou, or even Sensational Girl and find them. But there was nothing. She felt as though she was outside it all, in a place that was not really a place at all. It struck her that despite being in this strange void, nothing had truly changed at all. It was just another way she was separated from everyone.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Where am I?

Cosmette was unable to get a bearing on anything at all.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Maybe that isn't really the question I should be asking. Maybe I should be asking, Does it matter? Does it? I'm not sure it does. I'm just here, deprived of my senses all the way to my cosmic powers, and there's nothing I can do. I wonder if I'm actually immortal. I wonder if I can just float here outside of reality until everything ends, and then see it start again. Or maybe, since I'm apart from everything again, maybe there's really just no time passing by at all. I'm just here and there's nothing deeper happening and I just have to wait. But for what?

Cosmette tried to turn her body around, and despite feeling her muscles pull and twist, despite the fact that her eyes were moving around, trying to see something - anything! - she had the distinct feeling that she wasn't actually moving at all. She had become nothing. Maybe everything was an illusion. Maybe it was just all a big, silly illusion, her body was an illusion, this darkless, lightless void was an illusion, her entire consciousness an illusion, nothing more than a big, cosmic trick being played on her by beings several orders of magnitude above her power level.

But that didn't make much sense, either. She had her own mind, all her memories. She remembered spending time shopping with Sensational Girl in the Blue Village. She remembered the meals and meetings and arguments with her teammates in HQ at the end of The Cliffs. There were the fights with Neko-Blaster in Arrinson and East Bank. Her friends, her teammates. She remembered putting Pierce and Victory to rest. And Morning Angel. And Black Alchemist-

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: That's it!

Cosmette whirled around in the void, a sudden surge of energy flowing through her body. She expanded it around her and found she was no longer alone. Her friends were there, they had come for her. She was never truly alone, never truly apart from things as she had always feared. The sight of Sensational Girl's warm smile, and Eikyou and Fearless and their wisdom, and she knew she was about to go home. Her home. Their home. Her family by birth may have been taken from her, but at least the Defenders would always be with her. They had taken very good care of her, and she would never be forgotten by them.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Sensational Girl! Eikyou, Fearless! Uncle Derrick! I'm here! I'm here! I've been waiting!

And as they approached her, the scene faded, the void once again cutting off her vision, her hearing, indeed, all her senses. She was alone. Always alone.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Heh heh heh heh heh.

Shar Pen's voice that sent a chill through Cosmette'S body. She felt vulnerable and weak every time Shar Pen's voice filled her ears.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: It is not the lack of power you fear, nor is it the losing control of it, is it? I may have been mistaken when we last met.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Where are you? How did you find me?

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Where? Such a question has no meaning in this place, you shiny little brat. Nothing has any meaning whatsoever, and I would appreciate it if you leave here and never return.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I don't even know how I got here in the first place. I don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing, or thinking!

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Hahahahah! That is wonderful to hear!

Despite the crystal clearness of Shar Pen's cackle, the robed woman was nowhere to be seen.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Still, this is my home away from you and your destructive friends. You are not welcome here. I will see you out myself. But not before giving you a warning.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: A warning? You're going to warn us? You don't really think you scare us anymore, do you? We've defeated you three times now, and just got done with Black Alchemist, this time for good.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Black Alchemist... So he did try his gamble, did he...

Shar Pen mused aloud as she materialized directly 'in front of' Cosmette. She seemed to be considering what Cosmette told her.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Please don't tell me he used that fool Morning Angel...

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: What do you know, Shar Pen?

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Fool. Fool fool fool. If he ruined my plans, I'll kill him.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I told you we beat him for good. He'll never trouble anyone again. He's beyond all our reach.

Shar Pen glared at Cosmette and, with a lightning fast movement, snatched Cosmette by the neck and held her up before her. Cosmette clutched at Shar Pen's impossibly strong arm, unable to pry herself free.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Black Alchemist is a belligerent fool who had more power than he knew what to do with who wants more than he can imagine. Like every other crusader, every other madman with plans too big for his brains, he's ready to destroy everything to get what he wants, and what he wants is far more than his puny brain can handle. But not me. I know exactly what I want, and exactly how to do it. Still, I should thank him for freeing me from this prison. It did allow me to take another run at you and your foolish teammates. I'm done with you now. Go away, I'll deal with you when I am good and ready to deal with you.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Shar Pen-

Cosmette was released from Shar Pen's grip, and hovered in the air, ready to retaliate.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Gone!

Shar Pen raised her hand at Cosmette.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: Not another word, not until I am ready! Ahahahahah!

And as the void swirled and faded away from Cosmette, all she could hear was Shar Pen's cackle, her shrill voice shouting her down as her senses exploded with sensation once again.

SharPen_zps5a71b5b8.jpg Shar Pen: You'll never know when I'm coming for you! You'll never see it coming! You won't find me, either! And I'll get you, I'll get you again! Hahahahah!

***

KarisLanding_zpsfbd6790e.jpg

Cosmette woke up in the grass. The weather was very fine, birds were chirping around her, there was water lapping at a shore nearby. In the distance, she could hear cars passing by, and, somehow, she could feel the warmth of the sun, the softenness of the grass beneath her, the pleasant coolness of the breeze that kissed her cheeks and she bolted up, in the air several feet above the ground. She looked down at her hands and was shocked-

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Skin!

-and as she felt her skin burn red in embarrassment, the shiny metal, now more like chrome than black, shimmered in the sun, once again protecting her against the elements. It was back, she still had her powers, but-

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: But, this is so strange, she thought. I shouldn't be able to...

She thought at her metallic skin again, and it pulled away effortlessly from her hands, pulling away from her head and face and legs, stopping at the rest of her body, something like a one-piece swimsuit.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Yeah, a cosmic-powered, shiny, chrome one-piece swimsuit...

And when she told the metal to cover her up, she could still...

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I can still feel! What happened to me? Is this because of Shar Pen? Did she do this to me? Or... Was it because of Black Alchemist?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: It was the neither.

Cosmette looked around and was surprised to see her teammates once again. Her teammates and Professor Stark's daughter?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Cosmette!

Sensational Girl came running towards her, a big smile on her face.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Cosmette! We found you! Penelope said you were the hardest to find! But we finally found you!

Sensational Girl hugged Cosmette as she landed, then frowned at the shiny metal covering her.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: What happened to your skin?

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I don't know. But who's Penelope? Isn't that Nina Stark?

The three Defenders looked at Penelope and the college student shrugged.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: I'm Penelope.

She was suddenly unsure of herself. The name Nina sounded very familiar to her indeed.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I'll talk to you about that later. But what happened to you? What happened to your skin?

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: I have no idea. One minute I was in a void by myself, then Shar Pen showed up and started threatening me-

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpgEikyou: Shar Pen??

Eikyou looked at her in shock. She gave Fearless an uneasy glance, but her partner looked completely unfazed. It was a very reassuring reaction.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Yes, apparently I found her home. She said she's coming for us, and that we can't find her before then, and that we won't even see it coming.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Well, how exciting. And I suppose you can't find your way back to her?

Cosmette sighed and looked away.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: No... Not that I'm not trying, but... She's just gone. I have no idea where she is. Or rather, where I was, or how I got, uh, here from... there.

Fearless and Eikyou shared a silent glance and then they looked at Cosmette.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Well, Penelope has been leading us. We can't worry about Shar Pen yet. We still have to find Titus and Coyote Versus. Come with us, we'll go get them.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Yes, sir!

It was wonderful to finally be reunited with them. It seemed like an eternity since the last time they were all together.

Cosmette2_zps713623e8.jpg Cosmette: Let's go!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpgFearless: Alright, here we go!

The Defenders blinked out of sight from the park. The many versions of Port Matthew swirled about them. Which one was going to finally be their home? Where would they finally end up? And... how long would it be before Shar Pen once again appeared? Cosmette, following her teammates, her family, through the ether, hoped that they would be more ready the next time...

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

usha: Heh heh, she's one of mine, too. How well she fit the team was really a pleasant surprise to me!

Schulmanator: I never have any idea what's going on, so I think we're in the same boat. But maybe not. I'm confused again.

spursrule14: Thank you! It is a great honor!

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: They prevented all of reality from being destroyed (apparently, I guess) and defeated Black Alchemist, but Morning Angel got away and now... no one has any idea what's going on. All we know is that Sensational Girl picked up Penelope Stark (formerly Nina Stark: The Sensational Six is still canon, but will be updated to reflect the name change) and now they're off to find their teammates. And then? Profit, I guess? Who knows...

MOREmtplainswaterfrontpark.jpg

Hazuki and Dylan were living a quiet, eventless life. They did not own a car, living in a safe area of the city two blocks from the drug store that he managed, and he walked every day. At his urging, she had taken a job at another small store in the same neighborhood, lessening the risk of anything bad happening to her. He was very afraid for their safety. There were so many terrible dangers out there. So many things to worry about. One had to be careful at all times.

So one quiet evening as Dylan sat on the sofa reading a book while Hazuki was taking care of the dishes after dinner, the unexpected knock at their door raised the hairs on the back of his neck.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: *trembling fearfully* Hazuki, are you expecting someone?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: No, Dylan, I am not.

The knock came again.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: What do we do? I- I can't deal with this! What if it's a thief? What if it's someone who wants to break in and hurt us and steal our things? I don't wanna be hurt! I'm s-scared!

Hazuki dried her hands and gave him a soothing look.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: I think that if they were thieves they would not be knocking on the door first.

She walked towards the door.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Let me take care of this.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: No!

Dylan jumped to his feet.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Hazuki, stop!

As she put her eye to the eyehole to see who it was, he let out a strangled cry of fear and bolted for the bedroom at the back of the apartment. Her heart burst with joy at the sight of Sensational Girl standing there, along with a familiar face: Professor Stark's daughter, Penelope. She opened the door and greeted them warmly.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Hello, Sensational Girl, Miss Stark. It is so wonderful to see you again. Please, make yourselves at home.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Thank you, Eikyou.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Yes, thank you very much.

They kicked off their shoes and entered the modest apartment.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: I have been wondering how long it would be until we saw you again. It seems like an eternity, but it cannot be that long. I remember... something dark, then a bright light. Not much besides that, though.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I think what happened was Black Alchemist was almost successful in tearing reality apart. I mean, like, neither of us are physicists or scientists who research this sort of thing, so I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I do know that I have to find you guys and we can put things into some kind of order once we're all together again.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: And you found Miss Stark first?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: She's smarter than I am. She was my first choice, and then she found you guys.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: The Defenders need their leaders. Like, I think they're lost without you guys. Speaking of which, where's Fearless?

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: He is here. He has been... well, I am not entirely sure what happened to us, but whatever it was, it was worse for him...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Where is he?

Hazuki's eyes directed Sensational Girl for the bedroom at the back of the apartment, and Sensational Girl nodded.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Well, let's get our leader.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Yes, let's.

The trio rose and Hazuki led them to the bedroom. It appeared empty.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Where is he?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I can feel him. I can feel his powers, he's in here somewhere. But something's... strange...

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Dylan! Come on out, Dylan! Guests are here!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: *muffled* I don't wanna talk to them! Make them go away!

Sensational Girl and Penelope bent down and checked under the bed. No, his voice was not coming from there...

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Dylan, please. We have to get back to work. It is important.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: So is staying safe! It's too dangerous out there! You can't make me go back to that life!

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: His powers, they feel weird. I don't know what's wrong with them, but they feel weird... He's...

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: He is afraid. It never used to be this way.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: He's not afraid of anything. He's your leader. You have to lead, Fearless!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: That's not who I am anymore!

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: It is! It's who you always were! I don't know, maybe the fight, maybe how it ended, it messed up your powers somehow! But it's not you! You're supposed to be fearless! It's your name!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I'm not fearless! I'm not Fearless!

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: You are! I saw the same thing at my Nana's house! She said my dad killed himself before I was born, but Kari said that's not true! The same thing is here, you're not really afraid, it's just... This world? We have to get you out of here. Then you'll have your powers again... and I'll have my dad.

Sensational Girl raised her eyebrow at Penelope. The way her voice sounded strained near the end. It must have really disturbed her, meeting her Nana in that reality. Penelope was right, though. They had to get him out of here. Him and Eikyou. She gripped his powers with her own and as her stomach turned she forced them to feel the way she knew they should feel.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: No! No! You can't make me! You can't make me go back there and face them again! All those battles, every day, all day, an endless fight against the worst beings in all the universe! I don't want to go back! Don't! No! Noooooo!

And Sensational Girl dropped to her hands and knees and emptied her stomach on the carpet. It did not matter. They would not be staying to clean it up anyways. Fearless stepped out from his hiding spot in the pile of blankets in the corner and knelt down to help her to her feet.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Do you need some water before we go again?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Ye- *cough* Yes, that would be sensational...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: I'm sorry. I can't hold on to my power like this forever. This world is... it's making me feel weak. Let's get you your drink and get us all out of here.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Thank you.

And once Sensational Girl had her drink, the world flashed away in a burst of white light...

***

APerfectRealityDefendersHQallwhite_zpsace31c9f.jpg

In the white void...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: How did you find us?

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: I didn't. Penelope did.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: You did?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Well, it wasn't hard.

Penelope looked a little embarrassed as the three super powered people with her looked at her.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: There's like, some kind of feel to this place. Once I explained it to Kari, she could feel it, too.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: It's true, but at the same time, it's not. She's the one who, hehe, like, felt our way to you.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: So, what happened? I mean, since I wasn't there, I have no idea. It must have been bad, right?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Morning Angel was trying to put together a perfect reality. But that's impossible, so she ended up tearing it apart instead. It turned out that Black Alchemist was using her to destroy everything so that when she did so, he would be the only thing left. He would be God, and would create whatever it was he wanted to create. We stopped him, but... Everything just faded around us. The next thing I knew we were in our apartment and everything was terrifying. I've never felt like that in my whole life.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Terrifying? That's-

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Not real. Neither was Professor Stark's suicide. From here on, we'll do our best to assemble the team as best we can, and then we'll send you back to school, okay?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Well, okay...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: What's wrong? Are you like, okay?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Well... It's silly, and I guess I kinda know that I can't, but... I'm helping now, this is the most exciting thing I've ever experienced. I've always wanted to be a Defender, and now that I kinda am, it's just sad to think that it's only temporary. I really wanna be able to help you guys.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: Do not worry, Miss Stark.

Eikyou put her hand on the girl's shoulder.

Eikyou2_zps8873d7eb.jpg Eikyou: You will always be one of us. You are proving that you are every bit a member of the Best Defense as your friend Sensational Girl has proven, and we are proud to have you as one of our own. You finish your schooling, and who knows what the fates will have in store for you...

Penelope beamed up at her, and smiled at the three Defenders around her. Fearless gave Penelope an approving nod, and Sensational Girl hugged her.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: So who is our next target?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Cosmette and Titus. Those two...

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: ...and then Coyote Versus.

Sensational Girl added his name hastily. Penelope looked at her, surprised by the suggestion. The Coyote Versus she knew from the news (and from stolen peeks at her dad's backup files) was a bad guy, and had been a massive pain in their backside for years. Sensational Girl laughed and squeezed Penelope's shoulders.

SensationalGirl2_zpse7cd4c23.jpg Sensational Girl: Just trust me on this. We need him.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Uh, okay... Let's go, then.

With that, the quartet was off. And wrapped in the whiteness, hidden from their view, a familiar pair sat watching them. The young Kari with the cosmic powers of Cosmette combined with her control over others' powers, and the cosmic Penelope of the doomed team of Defenders CTD had saved smiled at each other.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic Kari: That's a little bit self-indulgent, isn't it?

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: The young, cosmic Kari smiled at cosmic Penelope and elbowed her playfully.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic Kari: Giving the prime you just enough powers to be useful here.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: There's nothing self-indulgent about granting someone's greatest wish in all the cosmos. I don't think it was entirely me, though.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic Kari: Why not?

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: Before we joined the final battle, CTD told me Sensational Girl was going to have help. I didn't know that she was going to choose Penelope to go with her, but I think it's a good thing, for all of them.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic Kari: She has the spirit, that's for sure.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: I know just what you mean, hehehe. But she's really going to need that spirit for what she's going to be facing next year.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic Kari: Kinda tragic. And there's nothing we can do about it?

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: Not without pulling reality apart like Morning Angel just did. It's up to the others to save each other, to deal with what goes on around them. Since CTD is gone, we're have to help hold it together, to prevent it from unraveling like it did last time. That's what our job needs to be. Let's focus on that.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic Kari: For all eternity, right?

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: Is there anyone you'd rather spend it with?

Kari giggled at Penelope. Two fast friends, friends wherever they meet, a friendship that transcended reality itself. No, there was no one either would want to spend it with.

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

feeroz123: While I am certain that I resort to cliches from time to time, I'm glad I unwittingly avoided one here!

Schulmanator: Heh, let's wait and see where we end up before filing our insurance claims!

slickbg56: Hahahaha, no. Bob Newhart won't be showing up in this tale!

Benedict: Thank you! I'm full of stick-to-it-iveness.

SimCoug: He so is. The problem is, what rules we're breaking is never made clear! I wonder if we'll ever see him again...

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Well, Black Alchemist was defeated, with the help of CTD, but where did everybody go?? Is there even an existence left? I suppose there is, since I've written this part here, so let's see what happened, shall we?

culdesacs_zpsa4483400.jpg

Penelope-

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Or is my name Nina? Why can't I remember?

-stood outside her dad's childhood home in Michigan. She knew the house well, as his parents still lived in it and she had spent large parts of her youth in it, playing with Papa and Nana and her cousins and aunts and uncles. It was normally such a joyous place, beautifully decorated and lovingly cared for, warm and welcoming on the holidays, and always so full of life! But as she stood in the front yard, something was... different about it. It was darker. It was sadder, somehow. The windows and doors were all closed, even on that sunny, pleasant summer afternoon. She walked up the short driveway and punched the code into the garage door pad and the thing slid noisily open.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: That's strange, she thought. I thought Papa had that quiet one put in...

The garage was nearly empty. There was a small, old Japanese car sitting inside, but all the tools and boxes she remembered, her Papa's Chrysler and her Nana's weird-looking, neon-green car, they were all gone. No children's toys, either. It was strange. She wondered if she was walking into the wrong house. But the door from the garage into the house opened and there was Nana, standing there looking very confused and much, much older than Penelope recalled.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Who are you?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: What? What do you mean? She doesn't recognize me? What's going on here? Are you alright?

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Of course I'm alright. I want to know why a teenage girl is breaking into my garage and staring at my car.

Penelope glanced around again.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: So you don't recognize me. I guess... I guess I'm lost, then. I don't know...

The woman in the doorway peered down at her and Penelope looked up to see her Nana's eyes soften.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: You look... familiar... If you're lost, then come in. I'll see if I can help you.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Thank you.

Penelope went inside after Nana. The house was indeed darker in this reality. The decorations had gathered dust, looking as though they had not been moved in years. The house was clean, other than that, but everything just looked run down. It filled Penelope with an inexplicable sadness. What was it about this place?

Nana looked at Penelope again as they sat down at the kitchen table looking out at the unkempt garden behind the house. Despite the sadness that hung over her at all times, there was a sharpness to the aging woman's eyes that Penelope found comforting. That much, at least, was the same.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Where are you from? Why did you come here?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Well, I'm from... I'm from Port Matthew. I thought I was at Papa and Nana's house, but... What happened? It's so different from what I remember...

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Port Matthew? What are you talking about? There's no such place.

The aging woman stopped talking and looked at the young girl more closely. She wanted to doubt what she was seeing, but something in the girl's face was incredibly familiar. Comforting, even.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: There aren't many people who call me Nana. How do you know that's me?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Because that's who you are. But you look so sad, so much sadder than I remember. Why do you look so sad?

Nana leaned back and took a deep breath. She seemed to be debating whether or not she should say anything to this girl who appeared out of nowhere in her garage, this girl who knew who she was and knew the garage door's code and just looked so unbelievably familiar. She found in the end that she could not resist and began talking.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: My son, my oldest, he killed himself. He took his own life almost 8 years ago. He was so bright, he could have done anything, but instead he chose not to.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: He what??

Penelope looked at her in disbelief.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: My dad! He did that?? But he couldn't have. I'm here. Why? How??

Nana frowned at the distraught look on the young girl's face. She looked so familiar, and now she was on the verge of tears at hearing what Nana had just said. There was no way she was a stranger.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: He apparently felt that his life was worthless. He moved away, lost his job and moved back, and then he just slowly fell apart. He couldn't find any work, he was constantly sick, and he withdrew from his friends. I tried helping him, we all did, but nothing worked. He eventually got tired of us interfering and left. It was the worst month of my life, between the day he left and the day he was discovered. They investigated it as a murder at first, but it didn't take them more than two days to tell us what we all already knew.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: How could he do that...

Penelope stared down at the floor, not really seeing anything.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: What was he thinking? He's so... He's not like that at all...

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: I know, that's what we all thought, too. We found a note telling us that he was disappearing and would never return and that he hoped that he would never trouble anyone ever again, but apparently he was unsuccessful.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Apparently?

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Yes. Like I said, we found him, and the police investigated, and all that comes with death. But he had no idea about how he affected everyone he had ever known. My husband, he died soon after, they listed the cause of his death as some medical name, but I know that it was a broken heart. We had been having troubles for a long time, money things and such, and I think that after we found Charles he just gave up. My youngest son, I haven't seen him in years, he fell into drugs, and has been in and out of jail. I could never have imagined it. My other son and daughter, they're married and have nice kids, but they're both sad, it affected them a lot. They want me to sell this house, they say it has ghosts and never come here (I have to go visit them), but I can't. This is all I have left.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: This doesn't even seem real...

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: It doesn't even to me, and it's been my reality for almost ten years. His friends, especially there's one who still comes around sometimes to check on me, he can't believe it, either. And the girl he was with, the one he moved away with...

Nana stopped and teared up.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: That was the hardest conversation I ever had in my life. She blamed herself, and stayed with us, with him, for the entire time she was here. She never stopped crying.

And Penelope watched Nana cry, something she had never seen in her life, something that she could not imagine a woman as joyful, as vibrant as the one she had known, doing. Her heart broke and she sniffled as well. She felt alone, so alone, knowing that her dad wasn't there to come and rescue her, that her mom was alone on the other side of the world, unable to guide her. And Nana, sitting across the table from her crying herself, did not know who she was, and could not help her.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Dad, why did you do this? How could you? You couldn't see that all of us here need you? This wasn't the answer!

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: His friends, friends from school, some people he worked with, they came, too. They paid their last respects, and there were so many of them, and of course everyone in our family...

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: That's just not right. Dad's not like this, he's not...

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Dad?

Nana's teary eyes suddenly cleared and she once again studied Penelope very closely.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Dad?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Uh...

Penelope sniffled. She wiped her nose with her sleeve and looked at Nana, unable to decide upon what kind of expression to give her.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: He's my dad. We live in Port Matthew. We visit you here every year, you and Papa. This isn't right.

Nana stared back in bafflement.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: You... you look so familiar. I can see it now, you have him in your face, in your eyes. But... but how?

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: I have no idea. One moment I'm falling asleep in my room up at college and the next I'm standing in your front yard. But this isn't right.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: This is all I know. But how could you be here? How can you be his? His daughter? I don't understand.

There was a brief flash of light, and a third person joined them, a girl with long, blonde hair and a brilliant smile, a girl Penelope knew very well indeed.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Kari!

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Penelope, you're called Penelope now. *at Penelope's Nana* Mrs. Stark, this never happened. Your son goes on to become everything you knew he could be, teaching history at a good university abroad and raising three awesome kids. Him and Aunt Riri are best friends with my parents and they are awesome, too. You grow old with your husband and your other kids love to come around all the time and this is not what was supposed to happen.

Nana stared at her for a moment longer and then her eyes sparkled again and a smile grew across her face.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: So he made it... He made it.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Yes. He did. But when we leave here, nothing is going to remain. I'm sorry about that.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: No, no. It's okay. I'll never know anyways. And before you go I was able to meet this girl, a part of him, and I know that this is right.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Yes, Mrs. Stark. We have to go now, Penelope has to go home.

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Thank you, thank you. You're like, you're an angel...

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Hehe, well, I like, don't want to get an ego. Good bye, Mrs. Stark.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Bye, Nana! I'll see you soon!

Nana_zpsa68d4b5d.jpg Nana: Bye! Have Charles call me! Call us! We need to hear from him!

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Hahaha, okay!

Penelope laughed at the joyful expression on Nana's face, then Sensational Girl grabbed her hand. The world glowed bright and then they were enveloped by whiteness.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Come on. I need your help.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: My help?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: You're smarter than me, and I'm smart enough to know that it's better if you help me than if I have to do this myself.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Well, duh, like, I'm way smart, but, do what?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: You have to help me put this all back together.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Put what back together?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: All reality, I guess. Or at least you have to help me figure out what to do.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Me? What about Cosmette? What about someone who's like a super-smart super hero or something? Why me?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Because you're always my first choice! And because I can't figure out who to get, or where to get them from. You can. You're smarter than me, and you can figure it out better than I can.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: No, no way, no I can't. I'm not part of your world, I'm just a college girl. How am I supposed to know what to do? I don't wanna be in charge of this sort of thing.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: We're not in charge of it. We're just the only ones left who can do anything about it. Don't worry about getting things perfect, that's part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Just help me get the others. I know you want to help. This is a dream come true for you. You're about to become a big-time superhero!

Penelope's face lit up with a big smile. When Kari's powers were discovered, she was unbelievably jealous of her friend's incredible good luck, and even as she left for school and had various adventures of her own she still thought a lot about who wondrous it would be to have a shot at adventure the way Kari did. And now here was her friend, her super friend, granting her her wildest dream. There was no way she could say no.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Oh, hehehe, this is like, super awesome.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Like, super awesome indeed.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: I think we should find the others first.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Okay, like, good idea.

Nina_zps00fcfeab.jpg Penelope: Let's go! I know who you'll need to get first.

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

ggamgus: Gragus has played an integral role in this storyline!

SimRico: Dude, he's kinda got his hands full ;)

SimRico: Thank you!

Richie99: Thank you very much! It's all still there if you're interested, but I think that what's going on now is my best work with this so far...

Schulmanator: A double-sized issue, no less! If I was there, I'd need a whole lot more than a change of clothing! I'd need someone to help me find all my marbles, too!

SimCoug: I've taken CTD's efforts to thwart my city-building to mean that I was doing something wrong. I think I'm still angering him, though...

ANYWAYS: It all comes down to this. Can they beat Black Alchemist? Will there even be a reality to be saved from him if they DO defeat him?

APerfectRealityDefendersHQ_zpsf710c61b.jpg

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: YAAAAH!

Sensational Girl screamed as she became the first target of Black Alchemist's attack. She jumped back and cringed as the orange energy exploded at her, but there was a loud K-TANG! and she opened her eyes to see Cosmette deflect it upwards away from her to dissipate harmlessly in the atmopshere. It gave her all the time she needed to concentrate on Black Alchemist's powers, reaching out to turn them off-

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: OOOWUULLG!

Sensational Girl puked and choked and coughed and vomited blood, collapsing to the ground in a heap, her hands at her throat.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Something's happened to Sensational Girl!

Cosmette was forced to stay back and defend her as the attacks from both parties intensified.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Fight! Push him back!

And under his orders, energy ripped open the air, assaulting Black Alchemist. The large villain gritted his teeth against the blasts, but even he with all his power was forced to step back in the air. They heard a growl grow into a terrible war cry, and then everything exploded.

The ground ruptured beneath their feet, tossing them and the earth up into the air. The atmosphere itself seemed to solidify around them as Black Alchemist used his powers, trying to crush them with rocks materialized from nothing. Cosmette (who Sensational Girl waved away as she staggered backwards away from the mayhem), Titus, and Gragus were on him, though, blasting away at the debris and forcing Black Alchemist into a more defensive posture.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: You will not survive this, Defenders! Everything ends, and everything new will be mine! You will not be a part of it!

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: We will not allow you to succeed, monster!

Gragus swung his staff with incredible power at Black Alchemist, making him step back.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: We will save this world, and end the threat you pose to it forever!

They battered Black Alchemist with their energy, and he was pushed back outside of the bubble of stability surrounding Defenders' HQ. The moment he was beyond the safety of the stability zone, he stopped and grinned grimly at them. Their powers were dissipated as soon as they left the bubble. But his weren't.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: He's going to attack! I can't shut him off, he's too powerful!

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Whoa!

The nannites on Titus' armor streaked out from his arm like a metallic whip and lashed around Black Alchemist's leg. They yanked him (with some considerable effort) back into the bubble for Gragus to hammer at with his staff. This time, Mizu-no-Hime and Inazuma-Hime leaped into action, forcing Black Alchemist to deal with water and lightning as well as Cosmette's cosmic blasts, Gragus' staff, and Titus' fists. And even with the effort put forth by the Best Defense, there was little they could do to gain an advantage over Black Alchemist. He still deflected or absorbed their attacks. There was no getting through his defenses with sheer force.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: This needs a change of tactics.

Black Alchemist grumbled as he wrestled with Gragus and his spear.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: You hold no surprises for us, madman. Die!

Black Alchemist shifted his weight and hoisted Gragus and his staff into the air. Clearly Gragus was not giving the thing up, so he hurled them both at the building. Gragus crashed through the glass into the lobby and the entire first floor seemed to explode mostly harmless, round shards of safety glass around them. There was a pause among the combatants as the building moaned and rumbled around them. Black Alchemist laughed at them, his smile as smug as can be.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: As your home falls, so shall you.

And he was gone.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: The building's coming down...

Titus was staring up at their home, as were they all. It was in shambles. The structure had already been weakened by the effects of Morning Angel's mistaken quest, hurried along by Coyote Versus' crash further up (unbeknownst to them) and Gragus' explosion on the ground floor.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Are we going to fail?

There was no answer forthcoming. No one wanted to say, “Yes.”

***

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: They're fighting outside.

There was no response. Versus did not even stir in the pile of office furniture in which he had landed.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Versus? Versus, wake up.

No response. She checked his vitals, he was alive, but injured quite badly, as she had feared. But he needed to wake up.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Versus, we need to get moving!

The energy expelled by the warring parties outside tore through the air around the building, striking at it, blasting away large sections of the wall and damaging the structure even further. There was a momentary pause as the building groaned the warning of its lack of structural integrity, and then Gragus crashed into the lobby below. The resulting explosion was the last thing needed. Defenders' HQ was about to fall. Ami knew it was now or never.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Get up!

She used all her might to zap Versus with as much electricity as she dared use without running out of power herself, and he jolted upright.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Whoa! Ow! Oh, god! Wow! Ami, what was that? Zolt? Did Zolt join the fight?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Ami: Something happened, the building's coming down!

Versus did not waste time acknowledging her. He was on his feet running at the closest window. The building shuddered again, and then it swayed over to the side, causing Versus to lose his balance and tumble to the floor. With amazing agility (especially considering his injuries) he rolled with the tumble and found himself in a position to make a mad leap for freedom. With all his might he dove towards the window as the building gave up...

***

Morning Angel's hidden room deep below Defenders' HQ shook and roared from the destruction above.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: Morning Angel! We have to get out of here!

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Hold on! Do something about this shaking!

Juliet wanted to shout back at her that she couldn't, but Morning Angel used that tone, the scary one, and fought her words back. She looked over to see Naruki and the two magical girls waiting patiently for something to happen, and she gritted her teeth and called on her powers for help.

Morning Angel looked up at them. She gave the barest shake of her head, panic and helplessness in her eyes. It frightened them all, and then there was a huge explosion, knocking them all to the ground, and damaging Morning Angel's computers.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: It's hopeless! Black Alchemist has ruined it all! I was so close, we were so close!

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: We need to get out of here. This place is going to cave in on us.

Morning Angel nodded and reached up to the computers. She opened a red flap and, hesitantly, pressed the button underneath. They disappeared with a shimmer as everything overhead came crashing down through the ceiling.

***

CTD could not believe his eyes. The great Defenders, the only ones who could at the same time defy the undefiable rules and still put things right, the ones with the indefatiguable drive to win, to triumph, and he stood atop the Cliffs with his doomed team in a bubble of safety and watched Black Alchemist destroy their home and disappear. That could not be allowed. Black Alchemist's crimes were far too great across far too many worlds for this situation to be allowed. He looked at his team, at Penelope, their leader, and she nodded. She knew what he was thinking.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: I'll get him back here. This is no longer enjoyable for me. We have to win this war.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: And how do we put it together after this?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: That's going to be for her to decide.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: You think she's up to it?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: Yes. I know she is. She'll have help though.

CTD had a slight smile for Penelope.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Cosmic Penelope: Who?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: I think you already know.

He saw Penelope smile a bit at him, and then he made ready to chase after Black Alchemist.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: You four wait here. When he comes back, regardless of where I am, you get down there and help them. I fear I will not be returning to this world after this.

Penelope nodded, her face still again, and CTD was gone. They, the four doomed Defenders, turned their eyes down at the falling Defenders' HQ and stood their ground. Orders were orders. It would be time enough to fight for them soon. They would have a chance to avenge their own deaths, a rare thing indeed.

***

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: CTD, do you really think you'll be able to beat me?

Black Alchemist looked disinterestedly at his quarry and sighed.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: Of course I do. I told you before, you're breaking the rules and I cannot allow that.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: And just what rules are there that I'm breaking?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: All of them.

With that, CTD lashed out with his energy, alternating black and white blasts that Black Alchemist turned aside with ease. He landed within feet of Black Alchemist and punched at him, then put his hands above his head, spread wide, and prepared to erase the villain completely. Before he could do so, Black Alchemist grabbed his hands and head-butted him. CTD slumped to the ground in a heap, and Black Alchemist blasted him with his own orange energy. CTD grunted in pain, but he was quite resilient. Black Alchemist picked up the weakened man and held him up to his face.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: You are not invited to my world. This will be the last time you trouble me.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: Heh heh heh. You're right about that last part at least.

Black Alchemist paused, and then looked down. CTD's hands were glowing. He was about to be thrust back into the heat of battle. Before he could react, his surroundings disappeared and he was enveloped by chaos once more.

***

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: THERE HE IS! GET HIM! We put him down now for good!

Black Alchemist showed up in front of the collapsed Defenders' HQ empty handed, rubble all around. CTD was gone! And what was more, the Defenders were more powerful! Sensational Girl was not able to affect his powers (he had seen to that), so instead she had boosted everyone else and they were showing that they were easily more than a match for him. He barely noticed the four doomed Defenders streak through the damaged realities and join the fray, pounding on him with all they were worth. He was at his limit, and unless he did something quickly he would be destroyed before he could create his new reality.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: Away from me! Away from me, Defenders!

His orange energy exploded outwards, knocking them all well away from him. It caused the chaos rippling through the city to stop, freezing everything in a moment between normalcy and complete disintegration. The Defenders were all on their backs or on their bellies, and in no position to stop Black Alchemist from escaping once again.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: I'll leave you to your deaths now. Such brawling is beneath me on the eve of my godhood.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: There will be no godhood for you.

Morning Angel swooped out of the air, her fist alight with her horrible golden power, and her fist struck him powerfully to the ground. She stomped on his chest and then pointed her fists at him, ready to unleash everything she had, but she stopped at the smile on his lips.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: Heh heh heh, Morning Angel. You are the biggest fool of all. You thought that you could outsmart me, that your quest was righteous and just, but all you did was by my design.

Morning Angel glared at him.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: Even your powers. I could flick them off right now, if I wanted to.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: I was a Defender. I know better than to trust someone like you.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: No... What's wrong with your powers? What have you done?

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: No, Black Alchemist, what have you NOT done?

Juliet appeared at Morning Angel's shoulder.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: You're still as stupid around us as you've always been. As many times as we've fought, as many times as we've beaten you, you don't honestly think that we'd walk into a deal with you and not protect ourselves? I thought you were smarter than this.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: I am smarter than this. At least you all being here will allow me to make this quick.

He swung his arm at Morning Angel and Juliet, knocking them backwards to the ground, and stood, ready to end this world.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: No!

Gragus got to his feet as Black Alchemist's fists glowed with their orange energy yet again.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: No, no, no, no, no!

He leaped at Black Alchemist and swung his staff up at those raised, orange-glowing fists. The world flashed with power, and the dancing realities around them shattered and left them in Port Matthew, the first Port Matthew, the one they all knew (except for the doomed team, of course). The city was in ruins after the effects, smoke and rubble everywhere. Black Alchemist and Gragus stood back up and faced each other once more, but Gragus knew that this was more than he could handle. He looked back at them, the Defenders, he met Cosmette's eyes as she laid helplessly on the ground, and then he cringed as the orange blow came down on him. The energy of his staff held up one more time, and then with the next blow, he was gone in a white flash.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: GRAGUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Black Alchemist stood up, ready to take his victory against his battered foes.

*zap*

Coyote Versus pelted Black Alchemist in his forehead with one of his special six-shooters. Black Alchemist glanced at the man and glared at him, but otherwise shrugged off the shot. Coyote Versus fired again, and again, but the big villain seemed to not notice, or care even, that he was being shot. Versus gritted his teeth and hurled his worthless gun at him, bouncing if off his shoulders. And that's when Black Alchemist turned on him.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: You are very irritating, halfling!

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: And you are very bad at being powerful!

Black Alchemist stopped and looked at him, wondering what he meant, and at that moment, Cosmette, Penelope, and Morning Angel blasted him, knocking him face-first into the ruined pavement. The Best Defense and their friends and their momentary allies fell upon him, and they traded energy blasts and punches, wrestling with Black Alchemist, blasting their way through the rubble and ruins that littered Port Matthew. There was almost nothing left, and time was growing short.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: I have had enough of this!

Black Alchemist blasted away at them once again with mindless fury, trying to gain himself some space.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: Enough of this base fighting! It's time for me to make my ascension!

And he put his hands wide and swung them together. Just before they met, Cosmette and Morning Angel and Penelope together, they poured their cosmic energies on him, disrupting Black Alchemist. The world wobbled around them as though made of jello, and everything stopped. No one moved, trapped just between the moments of existing and not existing.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: This is how it ends, then. All of you are done for. Unless I can do something...

CTD strained and tore at reality, at Black Alchemist's disrupted energy, and forced it to suit him, to follow the rules. He smiled and began to fade as he turned everything to white, making sure that Black Alchemist would fail in his bid at godhood.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: No! No! It cannot end like this! I was to become a god! A god and more! Nooooooooooo!

APerfectRealityDefendersHQwhiter_zps9ca841e8.jpg

Through the brightening whiteness they could see Black Alchemist convulse and collapse, his body hitting the ground lifelessly. He had been defeated, but it was not all thanks to Penelope, Morning Angel, and Cosmette's energies. Something else had happened. But at that moment, there was no time to waste contemplating the matter. Reality was not yet finished falling apart.

Naruki_zpsc5c092b7.jpg Naruki: Hoshi-Hime, this way!

Naruki grabbed Hoshi-Hime's hand. Hi-no-Hime was already with him.

Naruki_zpsc5c092b7.jpg Naruki: We'll go where you're supposed to be! This isn't our place!

9ec4de6c-e5a4-4ca5-94fe-1eec97cc3a7c_zpse18a07da.jpg Hoshi-Hime: Mizu-no-Hime! Come on! We have to go! Come on!

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: No, not with him!

Mizu-no-Hime took Hoshi-Hime's hand and pulled her back.

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: Not with Naruki! He's evil!

9ec4de6c-e5a4-4ca5-94fe-1eec97cc3a7c_zpse18a07da.jpg Hoshi-Hime: It's this way or nothing! Let's go!

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: No!

And then they were gone.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Juliet, we have to go...

The Defenders and the doomed team closed in around Morning Angel and Juliet while the magical girls were whisked away by Naruki behind them.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpg Juliet: I think so, too. But where? How?

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Hold on, this is going to hurt.

Juliet nodded and clung to Morning Angel's arm as she touched a button hidden on the inside of her wrist. They shimmered and the air sparkled around them and they disappeared right before the Defenders' eyes.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Hey! Stop them!

Versus jumped at them, but it was too late.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Where'd they go? Anyone have any readings?

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: I can't tell anything! But we're the only ones left and this might be it for us!

APerfectRealityDefendersHQevenwhiter_zpsfba5dbf4.jpg

The whiteness intensified.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: What do you mean?

APerfectRealityDefendersHQwhitest_zps33c17707.jpg

The whiteness blotted out everything around them.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: We're the only ones left! I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do!

APerfectRealityDefendersHQallwhite_zpsace31c9f.jpg

The whiteness blurred out their features.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Hey! Hey, you guys! I can't see anything! Hey! Don't leave me here! Don't leave me like this! You guys! Hey! H-

And finally, the whiteness consumed them all...

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

Schulmanator: We are about to find out if they can be stopped! Or if there will even be anything left to be saved at all!

Slickbg56: Thank you!

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Black Alchemist has manipulated Morning Angel into bringing about the complete destruction of reality. Only the Defenders, scattered across all the realities stand a chance of defeating him. And we finish building up to the epic issue #100 (and perhaps the end of my cj run?) now!

TheEndofReality_zps13e3735a.jpg

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: We're here, but you have to hurry, Versus!

Ami the Computer exclaimed as Versus ran through the devastated city towards Defenders' HQ. It was as close to a starting point as they could manage, for Morning Angel had warped all of reality in her attempt to perfect it. The air was constantly shifting, streets changing, flashing by like a sickening strobe light, warm, twilight evenings and rainy afternoons and cold midnights and humid mornings and unbearable, hot sunny afternoons. Buildings of seemingly all heights and all styles and scales rose and fell around him, but worse than all that, the worst thing Versus had ever been witness to, was the agony of the people experiencing it. Billions of lifetimes of the millions of inhabitants of the island city-state forced together, ripped apart, their existences made fuzzy, indistinct, their very lives toyed with at the whims of a single person.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: You know, if I had been able to get that space rock, I'd've been able to fly us over there. I'd be completely immune to this effect! As it is, I'm feeling pretty awful and this is all your fault!

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: My fault!? You're the one who suggested downloading me in the first place! I had made good on our deal, the stone was prepared for you to take. It is not my fault that you were too slow.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Slow?? Oh, I'm slow now, am I?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Slow, and aging.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: I'm not sure rescuing you was such a good idea now.

Versus heaved himself up and over a car run up on the sidewalk and crossed a wide avenue to cut through PMU. The ground heaved beneath him and he found himself hurtling through the air, waving his arms and legs wildly as he careened clear over The Cliffs for the back of the Defenders' HQ.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

He screamed as the building approached.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: What's wrong? I thought you could fly!

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: I can when I'm holding Sensational Girl and she's boosting my powers! But now, we're falling!

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Please tell me invulnerability is one of your powers!

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: I'm tough, but this is really gonna hurt!

Ami, despite not needing to, joined Coyote Versus in his screaming, the rear of the building getting closer and closer, zooming up to meet them and-

KSSH! THUMP!

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: RAH! AGH! OUCH!

Versus tumbled across the open floor of an office, the speed of his crash through the HQ window helping him destroy a far greater number of tables than his earlier jump at the sushi restaurant. His momentum finally ran out near the front of the building, a big pile of office supplies, papers, computers, tables, chairs, and carpeting strewn about him, helping to break his fall. He groaned and laid there in the pile.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Oh, god... That was... far more painful than after the fight in your HQ's basement...

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Yes, my readings tell me you're quite bruised. No broken bones, though, so you should be able to suck it up.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Wow, quite the- ugh- quite the bedside manner you have there Ami.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: I think I like you, but that doesn't mean I want to coddle you and let you lie here like an invalid.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Give me a minute. I need a minute... to catch my breath...

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Alright. But when your sixty seconds are over I'll start shocking you until you start moving.

And as Versus closed his eyes and took a rest, Ami knew she would not make good on her threat. He was injured quite severely, and she wanted him to rest for as long as he could before it was too late. Unless it was already too late. Then it would be a moot point, and at least he would pass on in his sleep.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Please be alright, Versus. We're going to get through this... We'll make it...

But as reality danced and changed all around outside the building, Ami could not muster any amount of confidence in her words. All she could do was give him some time. But just a little time... Just a little...

***

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We made it!

Fearless and his teammates stepped forward out of the teleportation effect to gaze in confusion at the warped city around them. It was Port Matthew. But it was also Port Matthews. Hundreds of them. None of them able to merge with the prime reality and casting hundreds of shadows and images and realities that swept across them like waves of chaos.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Come on, we have to-

56941f04-aff4-4dc1-9160-a5af1061603a_zps13b41f13.jpg Eikyou: Wait.

Eikyou held her hand up to stop him and give Sensational Girl a second to reaccustom herself to the new reality. She looked back in surprise as Sensational Girl smiled at her.

56941f04-aff4-4dc1-9160-a5af1061603a_zps13b41f13.jpg Eikyou: Wait, you are not sick?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Hm? Wow, you're right! I guess that like, Cosmette teaching me how to cope with these powers helped out with this, too.

Sensational Girl gave her teammates a smile and strode forward to join them.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Wow, am I ever thankful they're back! So what's our next move, Fearless leader?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: HQ. We go to HQ and we stop Morning Angel. Everything else is secondary to that at this point.

56941f04-aff4-4dc1-9160-a5af1061603a_zps13b41f13.jpg Eikyou: Let's go!

And the trio was off like a shot, Sensational Girl boosting their powers to help protect them from the cosmic shimmering. It was a quick run through The Cliffs, and they were soon standing at the entrance of home, sweet home...

***

Titus found himself hovering in the bay between Mori Tower City and Stranahan Hills, his new armor having some difficulty coping with the waves of alternate realities washing over him.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: These readings make no sense!

He was wildly trying to diagnose the hundreds of different warnings that popped into his skull. The nannites screamed at him for logic, to stop the chaos, to give them something concrete they could cope with. And his rocket boots started to fail. He fell at irregular intervals, the nannites fixing and failing erratically on the fly.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Something concrete, something concrete, something-

APerfectRealityDefendersHQ_zpsf710c61b.jpgHe saw Defenders' HQ, shining brightly in a sunlight that was not coming from any of the heavens flashing past him. It stood, rock solid, unchanging, concrete. If only he could make it there...

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: There, armor, there. We have to... make it!

And he streaked towards it, the boost failing and surging and failing and surging and, just as he made it to the wildly fluctuating Shimbashi, his nannites finally gave out on him, and he began to drop, his momentum carrying him over the highway, down the road, towards the ground where-

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: YAH!

Titus was hovering inches above Sensational Girl. She was cringing, her eyes shut against what was sure to be a very painful experience. Instead, Titus and his fancy new nannite armor righted themselves and set down next to her and-

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Fearless! Eikyou! Am I glad to see you!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Titus! You look good! New armor?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Yeah, it's experimental. Listen, we got Morning Angel killing all of reality, but-

56941f04-aff4-4dc1-9160-a5af1061603a_zps13b41f13.jpg Eikyou: We know, Sensational Girl has informed us on her plan. We believe she is in here, and-

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: And nothing, she isn't the main problem. There's something bigger here going on, something more than Morning Angel and her search for a perfect world.

The air around them flashed brightly, and they all braced themselves for the horror engulfing the island to take them once again. But instead, the effect faded, and four newcomers appeared to join them.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgSensational Girl: Gragus! Cosmette! And you saved Mizu-no-Hime and Inazuma-Hime!

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Cosmette and Cosmos Man performed admirably. But we have bigger things to worry about than Morning Angel. Fearless, I suggest you prepare to fight Black Alchemist.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg56941f04-aff4-4dc1-9160-a5af1061603a_zps13b41f13.jpgSensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpgBlack Alchemist?!

Sensational Girl, Eikyou, and even Fearless were shocked.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: That's what I was going to say. This is bigger than Morning Angel. We have to stop this at the top, even if there's nothing to save anymore.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Black Alchemist wants to destroy this reality and become God of the next-

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: But to do so, it seems I must deal with you Defenders myself, once and for all!

Black Alchemist appeared above them, descending from the sky. He did not touch the ground, but stood on the air near them, the promise of a violent end for them in his smile.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Everyone, get ready. We stand our ground against him.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: You have completely failed to protect reality. All that remains is your death, a formality at this point.

And the battle was joined...

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

SimRico: Hahaha, he is, is he? I guess he was lying about his origin story back in issue #95, eh? ;)

Schulmanator: Oh, I'm certain there is a reality-jumping TexMex place SOMEWHERE in this world. PM's just happens to be a sushi shop, though.

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Shall I keep writing these? Are you finding them interesting? This can conveniently finish at #100, but I have up to #108 written with plenty of new stories plotted out and ready to go. Or I can revisit the main character of The Sensational Six as she attempts to navigate college in the States. I have 120 issues of that already written. Some of them are hideously boring, though. I have ideas to turn all three into webcomics, but I'm just not a very good artist. Anyways, where was I? OH YEAH! Morning Angel ruing reality blah blah Black Alchemist is the real bad guy blah blah get the Defenders back together for FINAL ROUND... FIGHT!

NewDefendersHQ_zpsc80333a0.jpg

Yet another alternate Defenders' HQ...

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpgJuliet: Whoa, did you see that?

Juliet pointed in surprise at a series of warning that popped up on the screens floating around her and Morning Angel.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpgJuliet: What are those??

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Quiet, hold on... Something is going wrong. I haven't even touched those realities yet. There's someone else out there...

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpgJuliet: Who? Who's powerful enough to destroy realities like this?

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: There aren't many. But this is not good, Juliet. We're supposed to be fixing reality. I can pull them all together and make one perfect one, I can fix this. But... I can't find the right pieces, and now someone is ruining things on purpose.

A rumble from somewhere else shook the chamber and Morning Angel took her eyes off the screens and looked at Juliet. For the first time, she looked unsure of herself, frightened. Juliet felt a shiver up her spine.

Naruki_zpsc5c092b7.jpgNaruki: What was that?

Naruki was keeping his eyes on the two magical girls while they played with a litter of puppies rescued from a doomed reality.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Nothing, Naruki. Just keep your magical girls under your spell and leave the worrying to me.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpgJuliet: To us! To us, Morning Angel.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Yes, yes, to us.

Morning Angel flashed an irritated look at Juliet. She turned back to her screens and the chamber rumbled again.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpgJuliet: Something's coming, Morning Angel...

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: No, not something. Someone. And I think I know who.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpgJuliet: The Defenders?

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: No, someone far worse than them. Go to Naruki. You be ready to fight. I think we're about to fail and everything's going to fall apart. We have to get ready.

juliet_zps43d7b938.jpgJuliet: Fall apart? Failure? I need this to work, Morning Angel. We need to erase Sh- Shrrra... Her, HER, that woman, that hateful, evil woman!

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: She is a minor problem compared to who's coming. We need to prepare for that. I think that the Best Defense is going to arrive soon, too. Go, get yourselves ready. Things are going to get very, very bad, very, very quickly.

Juliet looked at her, wanting to protest. But that look in Morning Angel's eyes, there was no way she could argue with that. Who was coming? Who could be worse than Shar Pen? There were only a handful of people, and Juliet shuddered to think of which one it might be.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Naruki... Naruki, we're gonna have to get ready. Someone's coming for us.

Naruki_zpsc5c092b7.jpgNaruki: I know. I can feel it. My magic's not working well to hide us anymore. I can feel someone searching for us. This isn't going to end well.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: Do you think you can get the Defenders here?

He glanced up at Morning Angel. They made eye contact and Morning Angel gave him a subtle nod.

Naruki_zpsc5c092b7.jpgNaruki: I'll do my best.

MorningAngel_zps0852f7bf.jpg Morning Angel: We're going to need all the help we can get.

The tenseness in the room thickened and the room rumbled again. Things were going very badly indeed...

***

KarisLanding2_zpsc15eec38.jpg

CTD stood atop The Cliffs in the reality in which Sensational Girl had found herself. He watched the underground team of Defenders battling Black Alchemist below, tearing the park to pieces, blasting holes in the side of The Cliffs, rending the river nearby into steam. He was not foolish enough to rush into battle against a being like Black Alchemist. He merely wanted to live, to cause problems for seemingly no reason, but everything had to follow certain rules. Everything needed to obey certain commands. When those rules were broken, when those commands were ignored, that was when he acted. But this was different. Black Alchemist was tearing these Defenders apart, the young cosmic girl, the nigh immortal master of fire and his best friend the nigh immortal master of earth, and the over-matched, unwilling girl with the spider-like powers. They battled on with such ferocity, such vim. CTD felt himself compelled to act. But his role! The rules! The commands! And then the cosmic girl flew too close to Black Alchemist, and he caught her, his hand around her neck, his other going to her ankles, his muscles flexing-

And CTD stopped it right there. All of reality froze around him. He gritted his teeth and forced his powers forth, forced them to work, forced a rule to be broken, a command to be ignored, and worked to save that girl, save that Defender, save them all. Sweat beaded across his forehead and he let out a ragged breath. Working against Black Alchemist's powers was always taxing. Then, something moved in the air around him, something apart from reality, something that worked outside his powers. Wait. Not something. Someone.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: Black Alchemist, I thought-

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: You don't think.

Black Alchemist swung at CTD and knocked him to the ground.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: You act foolishly, trying to save this pathetic excuse of a team, this pathetic reality.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: I follow the rules to the letter, Black Alchemist. You think you're outside those rules. But no one is. Nothing can be outside of my jurisdiction.

CTD gritted his teeth and pushed the ground beneath Black Alchemist away from him, gaining space. Black Alchemist stared back in disbelief.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: I would be done with this reality! This reality, and all others!

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: And I would be done with you!

CTD forced Black Alchemist from his sight.

Black Alchemist opened his mouth and, had he been allowed to stay there, would have roared at CTD. CTD then turned his attention back towards the fight of the doomed Defenders and allowed it to restart. Black Alchemist tore the cosmic girl in two, then turned the air around Longfellow into stone, crushing it with a gesture into a substance harder than diamond. Tectonic Playboy cried out and tried to blast through it, but his powers paled in comparison to Black Alchemist, and he was swiftly dealt with, red-hot pieces of superhard rocks raining down upon him. As the villain towered over poor, doomed Ami, CTD froze reality once again, then brought his hands down, causing it all to fade to white. The four doomed Defenders were before him in various stages of impotent defense. They stopped fighting immediately, glancing around nervously. CTD stepped sideways out of the light and into their sight and chuckled at them.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Who are you? I can't see anything about you. Who are you?

Longfellow_zps65a7e11f.jpg Alternate Longfellow #2: That's... CTD? Are you CTD?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: I am. And you are a doomed team of Defenders that I have chosen to protect from Black Alchemist.

Ami_zps407f9191.jpg Alternate Ami #1: Doomed? What do you mean, doomed?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: Doomed, as in, destined to die horrible deaths at the hands of that maniac Black Alchemist. But he's not following the rules, and he has to be stopped. He has broken the rules far more than anyone else I've ever seen. I can get you to the point where you can help stop him, but I'm not sure I can stop you from being doomed.

Longfellow_zps65a7e11f.jpg Alternate Longfellow #2: Black Alchemist needs to be stopped. That's the only thing that matters right now. Let's go.

CTD chuckled again.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: That's that Defenders fighting spirit I so admire. Come on. I'll get you there. The fight's gonna be a big one.

Ami_zps407f9191.jpg Alternate Ami #1: How big?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpg CTD: Heh, epic big. This is our reality, we have to protect it. Even the ones helping to harm it realize the truth of that. I'll take you there now. No more time to waste!

The white faded, and the doomed Defenders were taken from that reality right between the last moments of their lives and the first moments of Black Alchemist's triumph. Black Alchemist felt them taken from him and growled. Things needed to be hurried along if he was to become God.

NMUSpidey

REPLI- er, that is, REPLY!

Schulmanator: Do you think they can though? With Black Alchemist out there destroying whatever Morning Angel's not, is there going to be any butt left to kick?

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: It was Black Alchemist all along. The defining bad guy of the Best Defense, he was the one who created the island in the middle of the ocean in the first place with his powers to alter things on a subatomic level. He is extremely powerful and extremely dangerous, and while there are many incarnations of the Best Defense and their villains, there is only one Black Alchemist. If they have any hope at all of saving reality, it will be through battle with this man...

chrono-trigger-time-warp-small_zps3def2617.jpg

It was as though they were being torn apart, the orange energy anything but warm and comforting as it rended them from reality. Cosmette, Cosmos Man, Mizu-no-Hime, and Inazuma-Hime all screamed in agony as the end rushed up to meet them. The world went from burning orange to blinding white around them.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpgCosmos Man: Don't let go! Stay in front of me! Don't let go!

And they didn't, but it didn't seem to be helping. And they screamed, they screamed into nothing, they screamed themselves out of existence, they screamed-

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: No! Cosmos Man! No!

Cosmette then realized what he was doing.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpgCosmos Man: It's the only way! Don't worry, Cosmette!

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Don't do that!

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpgInazuma-Hime_zps60df8b38.jpg Aiiiiiiieeeee!

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpgCosmos Man: I'll see you again someday, Cosmette!

And the burning, the pulling and tearing intensified, screaming and white noise and heat battering their senses. Before it could happen, before it was over, something happened to the energy around them.

Untitled.jpg Here. Come with me.

A hand reached out and pulled them out of the fire, away from the agonizing pain, and everything went black.

***

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Ugh... What happened? Where are we?

7b12f2d8-3e3f-4f42-bb39-232abe1d9de8_zps5306ff35.jpg

She sat up and took a better look around her. Port Matthew lay in ruins, smoking, ugly ruins around her, the air orange and gray with fire and smoke. Things were far different from what she remembered, and what had brought her to that point felt different, too. What was different? There were Mizu-no-Hime and Inazuma-Hime next to her, they were the same, and-

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Cosmos Man? Where are you?

She was hovering several feet in the air, looking around the nearly lifeless wreckage around her.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Oh, no, he didn't... He didn't have to...

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: He did have to.

Cosmette looked over to see Gragus standing near her and the two unconscious magical girls.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: What he did was give you just enough time to survive for me to find you. I am sorry I could not get there sooner. But his sacrifice did save you. He took the brunt of Black Alchemist's energy. It was enough to protect you.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Oh, no.

Cosmette fell from the sky and began to cry.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: He was like me, we could have helped each other so much. He was like me, he understood...

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: And you still have Sensational Girl to help you, and Coyote Versus. This was never something that you were supposed to bear by yourself. This burden was never yours alone. Come. We must wake this pair here and make our way back. This hell is not ours to save.

Cosmette looked up at Gragus, surprised to see the world shimmering around her through the first tears her eyes had shed in years. She nodded and they knelt down to help them.

***

BlueVillage_zpse253fe99.jpg

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: If I may ask, Mr. Versus, why are we going to get sushi on our way back to your reality?

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: You may ask. We're not getting sushi on our way back. Sushi is the way back.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: I am not following your logic...

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: There's a sushi place, right here in the Blue Village, a special sushi place. It's something of a rest stop for people like me who travel all over. Not every world or every city has one, but-

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Ah, so it's here because of Port Matthew's Nexus.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: That's right. There are, of course, interesting places with other special things about them in other cities, but this is the only one like it on this world. I know a few people in there, they'll help us get back now that Defenders' HQ is gone.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Yes. Emergency responders all over the island are at the scene. It seems that there is a small panic brewing. There is confusion as to why the Defenders are nowhere to be seen.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Confusion? There'll be a lot more than confusion before we leave here...

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: I agree. Please hurry.

They were quiet as they continued their walk to the sushi restaurant. Indeed, there was a feeling of unease amongst the PMers they passed. People were slowly becoming aware that the Defenders were gone, and that their tower had fallen. Smoke rose over the Cliffs ominously, and everything seemed too eerily quiet. Coyote Versus picked up his pace. Something was about to happen.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: There it is.

Versus' eyes had picked out the distinct sign and the little half-length curtains that showed it was open for business.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: I see it. Please hurry. I do not like the readings my new sensors are giving me.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: You got it.

Versus took off at a run for the sushi place. He made it no more than a few yards before the island jumped beneath his feet, tossing him into the air to land hard on top of a car next to him. Everything in the reality began to blur, as though it was being pulled apart at a subatomic level.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: YAARRRGGH!

Versus cried out in pain at the effect, his voice merely one of millions across the island in intense agony.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: AGH! Ami! This is it!

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpgAmi: Pull yourself together, Versus! You can- can- can- error, unspecified critical error. System restart in- in- in- in- in-

BlueVillageendoftheworld_zps0321ad29.jpg

Versus, even through the explosive haze of pain, realized that Ami was done for, that the entire island would not make it, were he to fail reaching that sushi restaurant. He roared through the haze, through the pulling and tearing to move his arms together, to press a button on his wrist. The button enveloped him in a warm, safe cocoon of energy, an energy that removed him from whatever deletorious effects that the environment around him might have, and the tearing, rending, painful agony that still gripped all of Port Matthew stopped causing him trouble. He was back on his feet and running over the uneven, slightly mushy pavement for the restaurant, sure that his shield would hold out long enough to make it there before his energy stores ran out and he fell victim to the accelerated entropy everyone was experiencing. A beeping in his ear informed him of the imminent failure of his emergency safety system, and mere feet from the door, he leapt at it with all his strength, bursting through the entrance to crash into the tables inside while patrons jumped out of his way, shocked at his sudden, violent entrance. Gasping for breath, he glanced down at a small computer screen on his wrist, and noticed with great relief that Ami was rebooting herself, that she would be back online within seconds. And then the angry sushi chef came rushing out from behind the counter.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Versus! What did I tell you about coming in here! Especially you show up like this! And trash my restaurant, and spook my local customers! You give all travelers like you a bad name! You are bad news, Versus! Bad news! I hate you and I want you to leave and never come back, not to any of my shops anywhere or anywhen else! Stay away, Versus, or whatever you're calling yourself this time, you scum!

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Nobody go outside!

Versus was immediately on his feet, his arms spread wide around him.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: No one! This is it, this is the end of the world!

Everyone just stared at him, completely dumbfounded. Why, they were fine in there! What could this insane man who tumbled in possibly be talking about?

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Now, listen here, you scum-

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Sakae, this is not the time to be arguing with me. Any other time I would be more than willing to engage in verbal calisthenics with you, and you know it, but I need to get back to the Defenders and help them beat Morning Angel before EVERYTHING stops existing.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: And why should I believe you?

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Look outside.

The patrons and Sakae went to the windows to see a blurry mess blowing past them down the street. It was chaos. Buildings were crumbling, cars and people were being torn to shreds, and everything was melding away into nothing right before their eyes. Everything that was, except for everyone inside that very special sushi restaurant.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: That's... That's impossible.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Improbable, it's improbable. Now, Ami and I, we need to get back to the Defenders-

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: You a Defender? They must be desperate.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Desperate times and all, right? So, you gonna let me use your machine and let me help fix this? Or you gonna sit here and be lost into eternity along with all your customers while everything they know and love gets destroyed right before their eyes?

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: I hate you, Versus, but...

Sakae sighed. There was no choice, no alternative. The humble sushi chef was not a mere sushi chef, and whatever Versus had said or done, he had kept his word and not told everyone he met about this special little restaurant. Even after being thrown out countless times in countless realities for countless reasons (including once for the deflowering of Sakae's very pretty daughter Rin, who we have met before). Inexcusable as that was, it paled in comparison to the fate of the universe. He motioned towards the door leading to the back of the shop.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Come on. I will help you. You owe us all for this, though.

CoyoteVersus_zpsb5456938.jpg Coyote Versus: Heh, look, I save reality, I think I'll have paid all my debts in full.

Sakae glared at him for a moment, then a small smile appeared as he looked down and laughed.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: Yeah, you're probably right.

Sakae stopped at the doorway and looked back at the patrons.

Sakae_zps8d428028.jpg Sakae: You all fix these tables and wait here, and then you all eat free from now until that mess is gone outside.

There was a happy murmur that went through the dozen or so sushi patrons, and then Versus and Sakae were through the door and the tall bounty hunter was on his way back 'home'...

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

Tonraq: Heh heh, thank you! I've been waiting for him to show up here!

Schulmanator: I think we all have!

Richie99: That's one of my favorite get-ups in this whole series!

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Morning Angel is inadvertently (and unknowingly) destroying reality in her attempt to build a 'perfect' one in her eyes. She has scattered the Defenders across all the realities. Sensational Girl was re-united with the leaders of the Best Defense, Fearless and Eikyou, Titus got his armor upgraded, Coyote Versus picked up a new electronic friend, and we learned a little bit about Gragus. Now about Cosmette and the Magical Girls (or at least the two not under Naruki's evil spell with Morning Angel)...

AlternatePM_zpsb994694a.jpg

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: I saw it coming, too. That's why I grabbed one of the magical girls. I'm glad you did the same.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: We are very similar, Cosmette. There was an incident where the magical girls were kidnapped from our reality to fight in some alternate dimension. I thought it would not be fair for them to suffer alone because of us yet again.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Yes, we had a similar thing. I'm glad you're with us.

The young man with the shiny metal shell almost smiled at Cosmette, but it just didn't light up his face as she had expected her remark would. Instead he stood up and glanced around.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: This island, this is Port Matthew, of course. But we're here after Russia claimed it. There's nothing. No civilization. No life. Just rocks and garbage in every direction.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: It's almost like an alien planet. Look at it. The garbage is so much a part of this place that it is the landscape.

It was everywhere. Where they stood, where The Cliffs towered overhead, there was garbage, bottles and cans and plastic, all manner of filth, piled up on the shore. It floated in the murky water, it blew in the dirty sea breeze. It made the air stink around them. The magical girls came to. It was the first thing they noticed as well.

Inazuma-Hime_zps60df8b38.jpg Inazuma-Hime: What is this place? This can't be Port Matthew, can it?

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: It's Port Matthew. Our home is near the Pacific Gyre, and years and years ago it was home to a massive swirl of floating garbage. One of the things that the Black Alchemist did when he formed the island was change the materials into land to make his home. Technology we created helps keep it garbage-free, and has cleaned up horrifyingly dirty countries like China as well. Well, back home it does.

Inazuma-Hime_zps60df8b38.jpg Inazuma-Hime: How do you know all that?!

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: I pay attention in class and do my homework. It's common knowledge.

Inazuma-Hime_zps60df8b38.jpg Inazuma-Hime: Common, yeah right.

Inazuma-Hime gave her a sideways glance and then noticed the two shiny, metal beings standing with them.

Inazuma-Hime_zps60df8b38.jpg Inazuma-Hime: We got blasted away with you? What luck!

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: No luck. We kept you with us.

Inazuma-Hime_zps60df8b38.jpg Inazuma-Hime: Can you get us out of this dump?

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: We can use our powers to do that. There are two of us, we should be able to do it.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: I once used a machine built by Dr. Richards back in my reality to rescue our magical girls. If Cosmette and I work together, we should be able to do something similar.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Gragus' machine helped me do the same thing, that's how we found you in The Wastes, Mizu-no-Hime. Apparently, we both have experience doing this sort of thing. It should be easier to manage this time around. We'll do our best not to let you get sick.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: The problem is we have no tether. Nothing to tie us to our own reality. It will be especially difficult to find our way home with Morning Angel warping everything together.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Leave that to me. I'll be able to find Gragus, and the three of us together should be able to get us all back home.

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: What about the others?

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: If they're anything like their counterparts in my reality, they should all be very smart and resourceful. I do not doubt their ability to get back on their own, without our help.

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: But Sensational Girl hasn't been doing this for very long. How do you know that she'll be able to find her way back? I think we should go looking for her, too.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Once we find Gragus, we should be able to find anyone else we need to. Sensational Girl has cosmic powers like us. I think that the three of us, we'll probably be able to save her, too.

Mizu-no-Hime looked at her for a moment, her face still and emotionless, then nodded. She grabbed Inazuma-Hime's hand and gave her a reassuring smile. Their eyes went back to the shiny, metal, cosmic beings before her.

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: Alright. I think we should trust you. Show us the way.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: Join hands. This may be a bit rough...

Cosmos Man offered his hands out to Cosmette and Mizu-no-Hime, and Inazuma-Hime grabbed Cosmette's and Mizu-no-Hime's other ones, and then they started to glow. They were halted before they could depart by the powers of someone else.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: Who... are you?

Cosmette, Cosmos Man, Mizu-no-Hime, and Inazuma-Hime looked over to see a large man with grayish-purple skin, clad in blue from head to toe looming over them. He radiated so much power that he caused the quartet to step backwards away from him. His eyes gazed down at them. Was he angry? Annoyed? Unperturbed? They could not tell.

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: We're Defenders. We were sent here by-

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: Do not lie to me. You are no Defenders I've ever seen.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Black Alchemist!

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: I have fought almost every incarnation of every team of Defenders, and I have yet to come across one which includes two versions of the metallic cosmic child and a pair of magical girls. I am tempted to send you away from me before your friends can get here, but I am more curious as to what your story is. Again I say, do not lie to me.

Cosmette_zps8ec9f2b9.jpg Cosmette: Well, Cosmos Man and I are Defenders, Mizu-no-Hime and Inazuma-Hime are working with us right now.

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: We were trying to stop Morning Angel from destroying reality. She wants to build a perfect world, but instead of doing so, she is pulling everything apart and doesn't seem to realize it. She must be stopped.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: Ah, so it is happening...

Black Alchemist rubbed his chin thoughtfully and looked out across the garbage-strewn beach.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: I did not expect it to be now.

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: Expect it? What do you mean expect it?

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: In terms that your limited consciousnesses can understand, she should have struck sooner or later. But she struck at precisely the right moment. How surprising for one so eager as her to show such patience and wisdom, even if by accident.

5bc83ae7-63c3-4cc0-95a6-33ca268470dd_zps6008bdd5.jpg Mizu-no-Hime: What do you mean? How can you possibly know that?

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: You mean you haven't been able to guess it by now? Who do you think freed Shar Pen from her prison to weaken your team and get them out of the way? Who do you think gave Morning Angel her newfound power to help her in her fool's errand? I am about to become the sole being in charge of everything, and I owe it to Morning Angel and her mindless crusade. The next world, the next existence, will be one of my choosing, of my design. I will be in charge of everything, and it will be a perfect world. I will be God!

CosmosMan_zpsc55e6546.jpg Cosmos Man: Don't let go...

Cosmos Man muttered to his friends under his breath. They drew closer together as Black Alchemist loomed over them threateningly.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: And you... You are underpowered, unprepared, and ultimately, dead.

Black Alchemist raised his hands and orange energy poured out from them as Cosmos Man and Cosmette summoned the entirety of their cosmic powers. Black Alchemist laughed at them as they began screaming and the cosmic pair's cosmic skin melted away from their faces. They faded from reality, and when the light dimmed and vanished, Black Alchemist turned to look around once again.

BlackAlchemist_zps3c056191.jpg Black Alchemist: This disgusting, polluted world is a blight on the Nexus. I will be done with this, and punish every living being of this world for what they have done to it.

Black Alchemist raised his fist above his head, then brought it down with god-like force, the energy rippling away from him in waves. It gained explosive power and force as it traveled outwards from where he stood. In a flash of blue light, he teleported himself into orbit where he could watch with a smile the death of a world and all the living things it had been supporting. Consumed by the fire of his strike and satisfied that they were not without suffering for their final moments, he chuckled to himself and stepped out of existence once again...

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

Schulmanator: Heh, Pierce has a one-track mind. I think I'll give us all a moment to catch our breath after issue #100.

SimRico: Heh, she exists only in a computer. An alternate version lives in Coyote Versus' wearable alien computer, but they kinda like each other...

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Morning Angel is unknowingly destroying reality in an attempt to create a perfect one as she combines and discards realities at her leisure. But... there seems to be something else going on here...

Riversidepaths_zpsa151acbd.jpg

New York City (or at least a shot of Arrinson standing in for New York), ten years ago...

(*NOTE: I was planning on having some new pictures in this issue, but *sigh* CTD has forced me to compromise on my original vision and use an old image from a few years ago. Damn you, CTD!)

Gragus had relived that moment in his mind nearly everyday since it had happened. He was used to seeing it at that point. There was nothing surprising or unnerving about it. It had merely become his reality. Before him, crawling across the ground as powers greater than mere humans did battle overhead, was a British expat, a wealthy man, a man who was reaching for a staff that would give him more than he could imagine. The man's wife and small daughter cowered against a wall behind him, begging him not to go. He went forward despite their protests.

Gregoryswife_zpsdafb0d76.jpg Gregory's Wife: No, Gregory! Don't leave us! Don't leave us alone here!

Gragus watched the man ignore the woman.

Gregorysdaughter_zpsa68d63ad.jpg Gregory's Daughter: Daddy! Please, come back!

Gregory did not go back. In fact, he did not even spare a moment to look back at them. He was a powerful banker on Wall Street, good with numbers, profiting even while those around him floundered and failed, his wife and child living in luxury in a penthouse apartment he rarely saw the insides of. He was very good at his job, but it was lacking something. Powerful as he was, he still was nothing compared to what was happening above him. The staff ahead of him, he knew that would help rectify things.

Gregory_zpsc6ad7353.jpg Gregory: There should be nothing above me... I should be at the top!

As he reached for the staff, an object of considerable power, everything drew to a stop. The rubble ceased its unending falling around them. Flames stopped flickering in the hot air. The women's voices died in their throats, and Gregory's hand, straining, stopped just short of the staff. And Gragus knew who was there without having to look.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: You should not play games with me, CTD. Do not make the mistake of thinking I am one of those foolish, soft-headed Defenders.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Oh, I would never make such an amateur mistake.

CTD stepped out of a shadow and stood next to him.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: So this is how it happened, eh? I had always wondered how it went, although I heard the rumors.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Do not become a nuisance.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: A nuisance? Surely you think more highly of me than that. But I didn't show up here just to trade barbs with you, as much fun as that is.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Then what did you come here to do?

CTD stopped and gave Gragus a devious smile.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: You could stop all this right now.

Gragus returned CTD's smile with a scowl.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Seriously. You stop this man here from picking up this staff, and everything about what happens after changes. Morning Angel is left with no path to power. Shar Pen remains in her prison forever. Fearless and his team are never tied down by your ridiculous demands of them. The United States and Canada both stay whole. This is a Nexus moment. You are at the center of a great deal of chaos and suffering, and you can stop it all right here. You are one of the few constants across all realities, one of the few points that remains the same everywhere. You could change it.

Gragus looked back down at Gregory, straining for the staff, reaching for power beyond his comprehension. Gragus knew what happened next. Gregory grabs the staff and is immediately set upon by an strange, forgotten god, imbuing him with incredible cosmic powers. The explosion that accompanies the effect destroys the woman and girl and topples the buildings towering overhead right down on the man's head. Gragus then rises from the rubble and ascends to the battle, tilting it in the heroes' favor. His powers overwhelm him and he ends up doing battle against his fellow countrymen and the heroes with whom he had earlier aided. As his powers had overpowered him, so did they overpower his enemies, and he settled down in the Pacific Northwest, carving out a sizable chunk of land that he had been defending as his own ever since.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: But they might still be alive today had he not grasped that staff with a yearning for power. Gragus looked back at the woman and her child, begging Gregory to stop and go back to them, tears streaked down their cheeks, but-

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: No.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: They were your wife and daughter, Gragus!

CTD reacted theatrically, with as much mock horror as he could call upon.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Surely you feel some remorse, some longing for the way things once were! You had a life here!

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: I was manipulating numbers for the profit of a small handful of grateful people above me. I rarely spent any time with these two people and have no sense of nostalgia to exploit.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Heh heh heh heh. Let's let this play out then.

Everything snapped back into motion once again and Gregory reached for the staff. The two females recoiled in horror at the appearance of the alien god above Gregory, and everyone heard his words.

AlienGod_zps1ebbfa09.jpg Alien God: This staff is an object of unimaginable power not of this world. Should you choose to wield it, you must cast away all prior obligations, relationships, and identity. Your life will forever be tied to this power and you will accept the quest of finding your rightful home.

Gregoryswife_zpsdafb0d76.jpg Gregory's Wife: Gregory, no... Put it down, help us-

Gregorysdaughter_zpsa68d63ad.jpg Gregory's Daughter: Daddy... Come back...

Gregory_zpsc6ad7353.jpg Gregory: Yes. I accept.

The alien god nodded and disappeared. But the staff, it started glowing with its power. The glow spread from the staff up Gregory's arm and enveloped his body.

Gregorysdaughter_zpsa68d63ad.jpg Gregory's Daughter: Daddy!

Gregoryswife_zpsdafb0d76.jpg Gregory's Wife: Gregory!

He exploded in a flash of brilliant light, and everything within thirty feet was painfully eradicated. The buildings' structural integrity destroyed, they toppled, dust and rocks and metal and glass hailing all around. CTD and Gragus waited for a moment, an odd moment of still silence, and then they watched Gragus emerge from the rubble. He looked around, straight at CTD and Gragus, as if he knew they were there, and then stalked off through the rubble to join the battle at a critical juncture.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Well, that was awfully cold. And even now, soft as you've become, you feel nothing? No regret?

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: I married an ungrateful gold digger and spawned a spoiled, bratty child. If I have any regret, it is that the staff was not presented to me sooner.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Hahaha, I like you, Gragus. There's nothing false or phony about you, not like the others, your silly friends in the Defenders. No false sense of guilt or remorse felt only out of obligation. You are honest and tough, and that's something great.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Why did you come here, CTD?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Heh heh, taking a play from Fearless' playbook, are we? Straight to the point, no time for smalltalk, not even a smile to spare...

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: The point, CTD.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Ah yes, the point. You realize that we are bit merely bit players in this, do you not?

He watched Gragus for a reaction. Getting none, he continued.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Yes, I'm including myself. There is someone out there who thinks he is bigger than us all. His goal is Morning Angel's mistaken quest.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Her mistaken quest... That is a bit of an understatement, isn't it?

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Nothing is lost on you. But even I have something of an investment in her swift failure. You have correctly divinated out of thin air that Morning Angel is destroying all of reality. Someone wants that to happen. Can you imagine who? Or why?

Gragus looked to the sky thoughtfully. Energy beams lanced through the clouds and smoke, and the ground rumbled.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Has Zama broken free from his exile? But, if everything is destroyed there will be nothing to control.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: It is not about control. It is about creation. Horrible creation...

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: If it's Morning Angel's mistake, it's not her... Juliet is a child, and her magician friend is too small for something of this scope. You need to just come out with it, CTD, especially if you have an investment in our success.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: I do have an investment in your success, but only if you have something that you care about that's worth succeeding for. Something small and shiny... Something in immediate, unimaginable danger far beyond this place.

Gragus' eyes darted at him and widened.

cdc0a78c-4dd3-43f7-a5c3-14f3d7b56e00_zps85bcef30.jpg Gragus: Cosmette!

He pounded the ground with his staff and disappeared from CTD's sight. CTD took a deep breath and laughed to himself. He spread his hands and everything froze again. Clapping them together, everything went perfectly white, then faded to black. After a short pause, he was back where he had been standing when he snuck up Gragus, Gregory stopped just short of the staff and the incredible cosmic might with which he would be infused. CTD watched it over and over again, Gregory listening to the alien god and accepting, seemingly indifferent to his family's fate. After four or five times, CTD stopped and wiped everything before him to blackness one last time.

CTD_zpsad373064.jpgCTD: Strange of you, Gragus, to pretend as though they meant nothing to you. If they mean so little, why do you go to such lengths to 'make it up' or whatever to Cosmette? People think I'm crazy, but I notice things... It would be fun to become a source pointless mischief about this. Should we survive!

NMUSpidey

REPLI- uh, REPLY!

Schulmanator: Yup, things aren't looking good, are they?

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Morning Angel is tearing all reality apart as she attempts to build a perfect one, but is that really what's going on?

3cbb99c3-3827-44e8-93e7-742356da76a0_zpsfc7c87c1.jpg

A familiar yet... unfamiliar sight...

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Alternate Computer #2: Titus, welcome back. You appear quite healthy. Care to update your files now? Or shall I call your wife and let you have some private time for a while?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: My wife?

Titus looked around as he entered the club house. It was almost identical to the one in his reality, just a few cosmetic differences where the tastes of this reality's team must have differed from theirs.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: I'm sorry, computer, I'm gonna have to be honest with you, I'm not your reality's Titus.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Alternate Computer #2: Ah, all the more's the pity, sir.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: What? And why might that be?

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Alternate Computer #2: My readings of your physical capabilities are far beyond what Titus should be able to do. I was hoping that there would be new tests to run, that I may finally have something more interesting to do than entertain the younger members with computer games. Your DNA is the same, though, so perhaps there is something you'd have me do?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: I probably started an interstellar war with whoever was hovering in their spaceship out over the sea. I'm sure that before long you are going to have plenty of interesting things to do.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Alternate Computer #2: Oh, yes, sir. That was a very bad thing to do. They will be back to spank us for that, for sure.

Titus looked around, thankful that his mask hid his surprise at the sentence from the computer.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: A sarcastic computer? Who would program a computer so well as to make it sarcastic? It can't be AI. Someone must be talking to me. This is a trick.

Titus began poking around the club house and then went to leave the room.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Alternate Computer #2: Where are you going?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Computer room.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Alternate Computer #2: Why?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: To play video games.

Amicomputer_zpsab28efb5.jpg Alternate Computer #2: You wouldn't want to go there.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Sure I would.

The computer went silent, and Titus' vast array of sensors began blinking imminent danger at him. Something was about to happen.

The hallway around him wrenched itself free of the laws of physics and crashed inward all around him, trying to squeeze him inside. His armor, the nannites, extended themselves around him and attached the hallway to him, bulking up his armor. It helped block the laser blasts and missiles that were fired at him, but was little good against the metal cables that writhed out from the wall and attempted to restrain him. Those cables turned out to be useless, Titus' newfound strength allowing him to easily pull free and fly away from that particular section of wall. He blasted through the floor to the hallway below him and opened the door to the computer room, finding it completely different from the one he was used to.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: What's this?

It was dark in there, CRT monitors glowing red and green low definition images and information for the benefit of their readers. Computer equipment, wires, and books and papers were everywhere, as though someone had been forced to rework the entire thing from cold-war era parts in the aftermath of a disaster.

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: Don't look like much, but she's got it where it counts.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Pierce??

Titus spun around to see the gunman leaning against a bank of monitors smoking a cigarette.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: What's going on here? Where are the rest of you?

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: I should be asking you the same thing. After you all disappeared in the CTD thing, things were really different. Sure, there's Kari and Flying Juniper Tree, and Crimson Knight and Morning Angel came out of retirement for a while, but... things were never the same. It was almost a welcome thing when the Remorans showed up looking for some kind of lingerie.

[ED: It's Lanagians, Pierce.]

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: What? Lingerie?

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: Whatever, it's in the past. I'm just glad you're back. But, wait, you're not actually back, are you?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: You said you were fighting CTD?

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: I said you were fighting CTD. I was in Bolivia running security for the Senate Leader and missed the whole thing. Shame. Legs was supposed to go on that one, but something came up and she couldn't...

Titus saw something in Pierce's eyes he never thought he'd see: a faraway sadness, the kind of sadness someone who has lost someone very near to them has.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: And you blame yourself for her death...

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: Eh, s'in the past. Come on, you wanna meet the rest of the crew?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Uh, sure...

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: This way.

Pierce put out his cigarette and led Titus to the elevator, glancing up to snicker at the hole in the ceiling from his “test” of Titus' capabilities, as he put it, and took them deep underground.

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: So, we got Kari, like I said, and Flying Juniper Tree, and Morning Angel and Crimson Knight were back with us for a while, but I'm gonna warn you: The Best Defense these days ain't what it once was.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Okay...

With that, there was silence as Pierce led Titus down the hall and into the training room, mocked up to look like the club house. There were plush sofas and a trio of big, flat-screen TVs, and a fridge, and the windows gave a panoramic view of Port Matthew Titus didn't think was possible from anywhere other than the top of the Cliffs. Kari was there, but she was very, very young, no more than ten. She was sitting on a sofa with another young girl who could not have been anyone else but Flying Juniper Tree in this reality. Pavel sat in a chair with a video game controller in his hands looking as depressed as Titus had ever seen him, and another young person he recognized: himself, sitting on the floor laughing with the girls. Only he was no more than twelve or fifteen years old himself. His sensor array lit up once again in Sensational Girl's younger self's presence.

6765e12e-377f-47d9-b0ed-f4bc5d50da8e_zpsf83048d7.jpg Alternate Pavel #1: Pierce, I see you have brought a visitor to our kindergarten. And what timing. I just lost the game for perhaps the eighth time this morning. My turn is finished. Care to have a go at it, friend in Titus' armor?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: How do you know I'm not the real Titus?

Pavel glanced down at Titus' younger self who was watching the scene rather closely. There was something unsaid that Pavel's look communicated to Titus.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: Oh! Pierce! This is like, the one I was telling you about yesterday!

The young Kari jumped up and ran towards him. Standing at his side, beaming up at him, she kept right on shouting at him.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: He's not from here! He's working on something big, something so HUGE that we can't even imagine it! Well, I don't know, I guess like, maybe like, I like, could imagine it like, in a few years or whatever. But, like, whatever! Now we have to help him get home! He needs to get home and work things out there! And there's still CTD out there, you guys gotta sit down and figure out how to beat him now that CK and Angel are gone. They'll be back, but it's still good to be prepared!

Titus looked around again and caught young Derrick staring up at him. It was obvious what he was wondering, and Titus felt a pang of sadness at the thought that it was better not to tell him. The Titus who died must have been his father. Their father, sort of. What about his- no, their mother? Where could she be? It was too sad to think that this child here was an orphan...

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: Please don't worry about it so much. About any of it. We're gonna be fine here. We have stuff to do, and Pierce and Pavel do a great job of looking out for us. There will be a few other people who will join us a bit later. And Derrick will be fine. He'll figure it out in a few years, and... Maybe I'll help him somehow.

Young Kari glanced shyly at young Derrick, and the boy immediately turned back to the game as though he wasn't interested in what was going on.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: Please don't worry. I'll take you to the room. You can go back there.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: What about the Remorans? He said they'll be back.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: The Remorans? They have bigger things to worry about than us, trust me.

Kari's funny smile making her appear far more mature than her few years.

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: Go with Kari, we got this. See you around, maybe.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Yeah. Nice seeing you again.

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: Right...

6765e12e-377f-47d9-b0ed-f4bc5d50da8e_zpsf83048d7.jpg Alternate Pavel #1: You go on, that little girl, she is scary to me, I do not follow her when she wants to use her powers.

Pavel was visibly relieved to have her out of the room for a moment. It was apparent that her abilities in this reality troubled the Russian spy.

6f690300-a40c-47c7-b72a-eb0c6047ca4e_zps0f05ff63.jpgAlternate Young Flying Juniper Tree #1: Can I take your turn till you get back?

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: Okay! You can play the next two turns, then I'll take over for Pavel, he looks like, so totally tired.

6f690300-a40c-47c7-b72a-eb0c6047ca4e_zps0f05ff63.jpgAlternate Young Flying Juniper Tree #1: Okay!

They stepped out into the hallway and the door closed behind them.

b92a799d-f57b-485d-802b-d0aaaf129956_zpsc4ea057f.jpg Alternate Pierce #1: Take care, man.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: You, too.

They shook hands and Pierce walked away, Titus watching him until he got to the corner and turned towards the elevators.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: He makes it in this reality.

Young Kari's voice snapped Titus out of his sadness.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Huh? What are you talking about?

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: I know what happened where you're from. He makes it here. He lives until he's like 150 and dies in his sleep, very peaceful. Even falls in love again. Hehehehe, and again and again and again and again, but that's not the point. Just, don't worry.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: There are plenty of things to worry about, though. Realities are being torn apart and destroyed. I was trying to stop it, but I think we were too late...

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: I'm... not sure exactly how... But...

Young Kari trailed off and for the first time looked unsure of herself, she looked upset.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: What? What's wrong?

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Alternate Young Kari #1: You're doing a good thing, you're one of us. But you're doing it in the wrong way. You're going after the wrong thing. It's just... I can't, mmm, see... I can't see what it is, and that's bad because I can see everything.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: You've got Cosmette's metal!

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic-Powered Kari: Your Cosmette, and the Cosmos Boys and the Penelopes and the Professor Hawthornes and the others who have this metal in other realities, they're not equipped to deal with it's capable of. I am, because I was already gifted. I'm not as powerful as I was in your reality, or the Cosmic boys and girls are in others. The real gift of this metal skin is that I can see SO MUCH. That I can't see anything else about your fight makes me nervous, because I should be able to see it and I should be able to tell you exactly what to do when you leave. And I would if I could. But I can't.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: It's alright, we'll figure it out.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic-Powered Kari: I really, really hope so. I like, really, totally hope so, because if I can't see it, it's someone who blocks my sight. If they can block my sight, they are so much stronger than us all that I could cry right now if I was that kind of girl. But I'm tough, Pavel tells me all the time.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Great. So it's not Morning Angel?

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic-Powered Kari: Morning Angel?

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Uh...

Titus glanced around as they entered a room with a round platform and a small computer array in the corner.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: She's the reason I'm here. She's who we were trying to stop.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic-Powered Kari: Oh, I know who she is... Hm, Morning Angel...

Kari stopped at the computer array and looked at it, thinking about what Titus had just told her.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic-Powered Kari: Morning Angel... She's not strong enough, no way. She's being used, same as you. I'll send you back to as close as I can to your home. You figure things out and then you can come back and visit and play a turn with us down here. Bring Nina, or Penelope, with you, whatever she's called where you're from. I'd love to see her again, even if she's like, way old there.

8d1ae231-a319-425e-ad3c-52cb875e66fc_zps6735e598.jpg Titus: Okay. I will.

YoungKari_zpsee0f44ae.jpg Cosmic-Powered Kari: Thank you, Titus. Good luck.

Titus was surprised when his armor pulled back like liquid metal from his face so young Kari could see him smile at her. She smiled back and waved happily at him as everything faded around him. He closed his eyes and wondered what was awaiting him back home...

NMUSpidey

REPLIES!

Schulmanator: We're working on adding the things that are currently missing.

Richie99: Yeah, it took a lot of work, but that is a very old photo of a failed city of mine that was eaten by my computer (CTD in this storyline). Anyways, thank you!

SimCoug: Thanks for reading, seriously! Yeah, Versus is a good guy, but there's still something he's not telling us... yet. And while it was enjoyable to write Juliet, I can see how she would be irritating. Morning Angel is one of my favorite characters in the story, though. It took a lot of re-writing to get her to this point. I wonder how it all will end...

PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: The Defenders have been scattered across all the realities, and Morning Angel continues forward with her plan to 'fix' everything to fit her definition of perfect, but is unknowingly causing the destruction of everything in the process. But one can't help but wonder, is this all there is to it? Not that I'm foreshadowing or anything...

industry_zpsc7752d5c.jpg

Sensational Girl sat with Fearless and Eikyou in a small room in an underground bunker with the three remaining Defenders of this reality. A girl, not yet graduated from high school, named Penelope was the leader. She so strongly resembled Sensational Girl's friend Nina that Sensational Girl would swear they were the same person. Tectonic Playboy, Ami, and Longfellow, looking young as ever despite his advanced years, were her teammates.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: We've had to keep ourselves secret. Pierce helped us re-form underground, but if word gets out that there's a new Defenders team, Black Alchemist said he was going to come back and wipe us off the face of the earth. That's why anyone asking about it is treated in such a manner. We've spent nearly five years like this-

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Five years! How old were you when you got your powers? In fact, wait a minute. What are your powers? I can't feel them...

Longfellow_zps65a7e11f.jpg Alternate Longfellow #2: I'm actually surprised you could feel Fearless and Eikyou's. We have power dampeners on down here to keep us hidden.

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: We've trained together a lot. She's probably just attuned to our powers too strongly to be blocked by a machine.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: I'm actually not as young as I look. When I was 15, there was an accident at home. My best friend, she looked like you, and our families... they were... Well, I got this-

Penelope stopped talking and liquid metal shimmered and covered her entire body beneath her clothing, a simple t-shirt and jeans, making her look just like-

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Cosmette!

Sensational Girl jumped up from her seat.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: You feel just like her, too!

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Same celestial event, I imagine.

Fearless touched her arm to guide her back to her seat.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Cosmette? Well, I just go by Penelope, since we're not supposed to exist in the first place. We rarely go out at all. There has to be a major threat that the police can't handle for our powers to see daylight usage. It's restricting, but it makes our lives more interesting, too. I get to be very creative in this role.

Ami meanwhile, looked quite unhappy with their situation.

Ami_zps407f9191.jpg Alternate Ami #1: Speak for yourself. You weren't conned into joining this bare-bones crew by Willis. The man's a one-man gestapo, you'd think it was the fourth reich the way they run things up there. The Senate is more than useless. I still say we hunt down Black Alchemist like the dog he is and punish him for what he did to this island, for what he made it into.

Longfellow_zps65a7e11f.jpg Alternate Longfellow #2: Ami, we talked about this before, it's not all his fault that Willis is a megalomaniac-

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Your Captain Willis sounds completely different from our Captain Willis. Our experience with him is that he is completely honorable, one of the best men on the island, maybe even the world. He's been such a huge help to us that it's frankly upsetting to hear him referred to the way you're doing it.

Ami_zps407f9191.jpg Alternate Ami #1: Captain? Captain??

Ami stood up and growled at Fearless, leaning towards him threateningly.

Longfellow_zps65a7e11f.jpg Alternate Longfellow #2: Ami, relax, they don't know. It's General Willis here. When Black Alchemist attempted to sink the island back into the sea, he released a number of very dangerous inmates from Fort Mison. Willis took the opportunity to declare martial law until the villains were rounded up, but even after they were, he didn't give up his power, seizing the senate and forcing them to appoint him General. While I understand that in other places the title is reserved for the head of command in an army, here it means that he is the supreme ruler of the island. It was Willis who cut a deal with Black Alchemist, Willis who locked down the island, and Willis who forced us underground.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: We're actually... under martial law now back home. Only it was Senate Leader Pearson who declared it.

Ami_zps407f9191.jpg Alternate Ami #1: Pearson? You have one of those, too? He's Willis' unloyal lapdog here. He gives us a much longer leash than we're supposed to have, but he always reminds us of where the real power lies.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Well, with us here, let's shift it back! What's he got that can stop you? Stop us? We're the most powerful people in the world!

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: It's not that simple...

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: And it's not our place. You said that Morning Angel is out there destroying reality? Our Morning Angel? That's what we need to worry about.

Ami_zps407f9191.jpg Alternate Ami #1: Great, then you can go back to your perfect Port Matthew where you don't have to live in fear of anything or anyone and the public worships your every move...

*BOOM*

The room shuddered around them.

*BOOM* *BOOM*

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Uh, what was that?

Longfellow_zps65a7e11f.jpg Alternate Longfellow #2: We need to move.

TectonicPlayboy_zpsbba8b302.jpg Alternate Tectonic Playboy #1: Now. Under or over?

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Under, let's go. Here, come here.

They gathered themselves in a small circle and Tectonic Playboy took them underground.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Sensational Girl, where did you arrive here?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Uh, near the tip of the Cliffs, Shimbashi was really close.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Shimbashi?

Ami_zps407f9191.jpg Alternate Ami #1: She must mean the Willis Crossing...

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: We'll go there. I'm sure he's waiting for us there anyways.

They fell silent, Eikyou and Fearless reminding Sensational Girl once again that this was not their place.

TectonicPlayboy_zpsbba8b302.jpg Alternate Tectonic Playboy #1: Surfacing.

They popped up out of the ground and landed softly on the grass, right where Sensational Girl remembered waking up. It was no longer sunny and warm. Clouds had gathered overhead and a cool rain misted the island.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: He's here...

TectonicPlayboy_zpsbba8b302.jpg Alternate Tectonic Playboy #1: But... Where?

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Fearless, Eikyou, Sensational Girl, I wish I could say it was a pleasure meeting you, but-

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: But we understand the circumstances, Penelope. I hope we have an opportunity to meet in a more friendly way sometime in the future.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Good luck.

Penelope shook Fearless' hand, then looked at Sensational Girl.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Our realities are crumbling, I can feel it, somehow. It can't be stopped, but if you can, please know that I can feel something between us. We would be friends, under better circumstances.

TectonicPlayboy_zpsbba8b302.jpg Alternate Tectonic Playboy #1: He's coming. Stop talking, start fighting.

PenelopeStark_zpsc7a988e5.jpg Penelope: Okay, let's go.

This reality's Defenders sprang forth, leaping up for the top of the cliffs, and as they did, Penelope stopped and looked at Sensational Girl. The beginnings of a smile just touched the corners of her lips, and her hand twitched just before she turned to her fight. She might as well have burst into tears and hugged Sensational Girl for what such a small show of emotion meant in this context. Sensational Girl was brought back to the situation at hand by Eikyou's hand on her shoulder.

56941f04-aff4-4dc1-9160-a5af1061603a_zps13b41f13.jpg Eikyou: Come, we must away.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: How are we getting back?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Remember Gragus' puddle jumper?

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Yeah?

Fearless-2_zps871b7f15.jpg Fearless: Well, hold hands.

SensationalGirl_zps876cf726.jpg Sensational Girl: Oh, no...

Fearless took out a small control pad and pressed a button. The world shimmered around them, and Sensational Girl looked up and caught a glimpse of Penelope's Defenders fighting Black Alchemist with all their might atop the Cliffs. He saw her. He knew they were there and what they were doing. Sensational Girl shivered as the last piece of that reality, Black Alchemist's eyes, was the last thing she saw. Somehow she knew. He would be coming for them before long, too...