Brendan sat in the apartment he lived in. He was thinking over how the student body was immortal and those that were dead like he was are dead no longer, meaning the halo on his forehead was now a tattoo. His family and friends had gone to Heaven or Hell a long time ago, so he had no one to talk to. He heard a knock on the door and went to open it. Jandro was at the entrance with a grin on his face. “Guess who’s in House Lacey?” he asked as he held up a purple ascot.
“You’ve been accepted?!” cheered Brendan. “Congratulations! Let me make something to celebrate!” He dashed to the kitchen, only stopping when he heard Jandro clear his throat. Brendan saw that Jandro was pointing to the doorway. “…Oh, yeah!” remembered Brendan. “Please, come in.” Jandro entered the apartment and sat at the table near the kitchen. “You know, I’m surprised you still wanted to be an After Academy student,” mused Brendan as he got out a teapot. “You and I both heard what this universe was originally and what Vortoranii did.”
“I know,” replied Jandro as he readjusted his stole, “but I wanted to continue learning and After Academy offers a whole eternity of learning. Immortality’s nothing without learning something new every chance you get and this school offers HEAPS of chances. Besides, I wanted to put a Vampire’s obsession with counting into another area besides money. Counting code lines is something most Vampires don’t do back home. Vampire programmers are very rare, unlike our bankers.”
“Obsession with counting?” asked Brendan.
“Yes, we’re always compelled to count things for some odd reason,” explained Jandro. “Many scientists and mages of various fields have theories, but none have found the answer. In any case, we have since used it to our advantage in various number-related fields.”
“Are there other downsides?” inquired Brendan.
“Well, long ago, we used to burn to ashes when we stepped into the sun,” recalled Jandro. “When the First Age of Unity started, we gained the ability to walk in the sun again, but now we get a wicked sunburn. We can’t see ourselves in silver-backed mirrors, just our clothes. We need blood to survive, thankfully, the animal blood we get from butchers is a lot more healthy than human blood. We have to be careful that our fangs don’t cut our lips.”
“What about turning others into Vampires?” quizzed Brendan as he served the tea and cakes. “Can Vampires in your world do that?”
“Yes, but the biter needs permission from the other person to change them,” answered Jandro. “…Brendan, where is this going?”
“I want to be a Vampire like you,” explained Brendan. Jandro nearly choked on his tea.
“WHY?!” he asked when he recovered.
“Because, if we’re going to be living together for eternity,” replied Brendan, “I want us to be equals.”
“But…but this is…I mean, you DID pay attention to what I’m weak to, right?” spluttered Jandro.
“I still want to be a Vampire,” insisted Brendan. “I know I can’t be a member of the Grelnak Clan, but I don’t want you to be alone.” Jandro smiled.
“I think we can make the Grelnak Clan greater than it was,” he declared. “Just bare your neck and allow me to do the rest.” Brendan let himself be wrapped in Jandro’s arms as he exposed his neck. Jandro inched closer to his neck and lightly touched the skin with his fangs before he sunk them into the neck. Brendan gasped in slight pain, then let the fangs pump in genetic altering liquid. It felt warm and teased its way through his body. Soon, he felt Jandro’s fangs stop pumping the “Vampire Venom”, as it’s called in Jandro’s home, and slowly exit the neck. The fang wounds in the neck closed quickly and he felt his canines grow longer and sharper. He then drifted into a sleep right in Jandro’s arms. Jandro led Brendan to the couch and laid him so his head rested in Jandro’s lap, “When you wake,” he whispered, “I will belong to you and you will belong to me. We shall make a new Grelnak Clan. Sleep well, my love.”
“Your husband’s wearing a dress?!” giggled Scorpainia as she and Megumi ate at one of the cafés on Vorton.
“I don’t know why you’re laughing,” muttered Megumi. “He’s putting aside a man’s fragile ego to prove dresses don’t make a man any less of one.”
“I’m just surprised he agreed to that bet!” laughed Scorpainia.
“It’s really nothing new,” remarked Megumi. “I now have three men that wear dresses. I mean, I don’t see how it could bruise Richard’s ego that…Scorpainia?”
“Sorry,” apologized Scorpainia. “It’s just that I wasn’t expecting to see Agus’ girlfriend here on Vorton.”
“What?!” yelped Megumi as she looked where Scorpainia was looking. Walking by the café was Agus Atmadja and a female Mobian Komodo Dragon holding his arm and laughing with him as she regaled him with a story.
“I think the best course of action is to say hello,” mused Scorpainia.
“Good idea,” agreed Megumi. They both left the café and approached the two Mobians. “Excuse me!” called Megumi. Agus and the new Komodo Dragon turned.
“Ah, my ladies!” greeted Agus. “Apa kabar?” (How are you?)
“A little confused,” replied Scorpainia. “I don’t recall you having a girlfriend.”
“Ah, this jewel holding my arm?” asked Agus. “You met her once or twice.”
“We did?” quizzed Megumi. She examined the new lady hard. She didn’t recall seeing her before. The long, curly black hair looked familiar, though. As did the black flower in said hair with a tiny skull in the center, and the black lipstick, and the black eyes, and the dress…Megumi then put two and two together. “…LACEY?!” she yelped.
“Hello!” replied the new Komodo Dragon in Lacey’s voice.
“Bu…but whe…I mean…WHAT?!” spluttered Megumi.
“How long have you been dating him?!” inquired Scorpainia.
“Since the preliminary round,” replied Lacey as she shifted back into her human form.
“But he’s…!” protested Megumi.
“I’m a Horseman of the Apocalypse,” interrupted Lacey, correctly guessing Megumi’s statement. “I can date whoever I damn please without breaking social taboos.”
“Shape-shifting DOES tend to help in that regard,” supplied Agus. “I just wish I could learn that so I can walk with her as a human.”
“Stick with me and you will,” promised Lacey. She then turned back to Megumi. “Besides, Amelia’s is on her third date with Wilson and Sophie’s been asked out by Henry. Being heralds of us Horsemen, they’re shape-shifters too, so they’re pursuing their heart’s desire.”
“Wait, Sophie?” asked Megumi. “I thought she had a boyfriend already.”
“What happened to Bobby?” quizzed Scorpainia.
“…She asked me not to tell anyone,” answered Lacey as she winced. “She’d prefer to tell you herself.”
“Tell them what?” asked Sophie’s voice. Sophie was currently a snub-nosed monkey like Henry and was letting his tail wrap around her waist. She was small for a Mobian-sized life-form.
“Sophie, what happened to the guy you were dating?” asked Megumi.
“Er, Bobby?” stumbled Sophie. “Well, he…he dumped me.”
“What?! Why?! When?!” yelped Scorpainia.
“Because of my duties as a Herald,” sighed Sophie.
“That’s just cruel,” muttered Megumi. Just then, her attention was grabbed by shouting.
“RAGE-RUM! NOW!” roared a hulking man’s voice.
“I told you before, kitty,” hissed Joshua’s voice, “we don’t carry it.”
“That’s not a good sound,” gulped Megumi. “Excuse me.” She dashed off in the direction of the voices and found Joshua getting yelled at by an Appoplexian.
“LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, JOSHUA WILLIAMS, SNIPER OF THE FEUDAL NERD SOCIETY! WHEN GENERAL ANGARR OF THE 39TH APPOPLEXIAN CONQUEST ARMY DEMANDS RAGE-RUM, YOU GIVE IT TO GENERAL ANGARR OF THE 39TH APPOPLEXIAN CONQUEST ARMY!” roared the Appoplexian. Joshua remained stone-faced.
“You are Angarr, son of Ire,” called Megumi. Angarr growled before turning to her.
“YEAH, I’M IRE’S SON! WHAT’S YOUR POINT?!” roared Angarr.
“I am Megumi, daughter of Haruna,” Megumi introduced herself. She turned into Tora-Onna and slashed at Angarr’s face with her claws unsheathed. Angarr yelped in pain and noticed blood trickling down his face.
“You…you slashed my face!” whispered Angarr. He then roared in the Appoplexian’s usual anger and punched Tora-Onna. “LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, MEGUMI HISHIKAWA, QUEEN OF THE FEUDAL NERD SOCIETY AND DEFEATER OF VORTECH! YOU CAN HURT ME! YOU CAN HURT THE THINGS I STAND FOR! YOU CAN EVEN HURT MY FEELINGS, IF I HAD ANY! BUT NO ONE, AND I MEAN NO ONE, HURTS THE FACE!” Tora-Onna grabbed the next punch and tossed him over her shoulder. “Ooh, karate!” cheered Angarr. He then picked himself up. “I’m gonna call you Karate-cub, Karate-cub!”
“Your mistake, Wide-Load,” taunted Tora-Onna.
“GENERAL ANGARR OF THE 39TH APPOPLEXIAN CONQUEST ARMY IS JUST BIG-BONED!” roared Angarr. He swung wildly, leaving Tora-Onna various opportunities to get a hit in. She grabbed an arm on the backswing, put her fingers around the claw on the back of his hand, and tore it out! The pain caused him to open his mouth, but he didn’t scream until Tora-Onna released him. He then roared in pain as he clutched the area where the claw once belonged. His soldiers readied their own claws, but Tora-Onna flashed hers and roared, daring them to approach her. None of them were feeling that brave, so they tended to their general.
“Let me tell you something, soldiers of Queen Phury,” snarled Tora-Onna, “if Angarr wants his claw back, Phury’s going to have to pick it up herself. Here, the number of my room here on Vorton.” She let a piece of paper fall to the floor and, with a pivot on the heel, she turned and left them, turning back into Megumi.
Megumi had just finished touching up her make-up the next day when she heard a knock on the door. Correction, a pounding on the door. “Come in,” she bid. Phury then stormed in.
“You took one of my general’s claws!” she snarled. “Hand it over or I’m taking it by force!”
“Now that you’re here,” replied Megumi as she retrieved the claw, “I have no more need of it.” She then placed it in Phury’s outstretched hand.
“…You rob Angarr of his honor just to get my attention?!” hissed Phury.
“You can’t take away what someone doesn’t have,” answered Megumi.
“You’re saying Angarr is without honor?” quizzed Phury.
“I’m saying Angarr is a coward and a liar,” clarified Megumi.
“What of his Queen?!” demanded Phury.
“That remains to be seen,” dismissed Megumi.
“…Tell me, what did I do to earn this disrespect?” growled Phury.
“The deeds outlined in your dossier speak for themselves!” shouted Megumi as she threw Phury’s dossier down to emphasize her point. “Enslaving the Teslavorr Nebula! Detaining and searching Galvan ships in neutral space without warning OR provocation! And you! Executing your daughter when she refused to kill your universe’s Omnitrix bearer, Gwen Tennyson!”
“Whatever I did,” snarled Phury, “was to protect my people from the threat of the Cybertronian Civil War!”
“You must think me a fool to make your lies so transparent!” accused Megumi.
“I don’t wish to quarrel with you!” warned Phury.
“Well, we don’t have that choice, do we?” asked Megumi. “I trust you’re amenable to fighting in the ring? My mutant-cyborg form against an Appoplexian?”
“As a matter of fact, yes!” declared Phury. “Where will this fight be held?”
“There’s a fighting ring in After Academy’s gym,” answered Megumi. “First one to send their opponent out of the ring is the winner.”
“Very well,” agreed Phury. “It will make it easier for you to run to your husband’s arms and weep when I win.”
“The challenge has been set, the terms have been agreed upon, and the chance of victory is agreeable for both sides,” declared Rojenthi’s voice. “Amavorte, the yellow-green princess of Chizara and the earth leader, will be judging. In two days’ time, your fight begins! Prepare and make ready! Good luck!”
“I will see you when the time comes!” growled Phury. “But, know this, the Master Wand will ensure the safety of my universe! Interfere, and you doom an entire universe to burn in the Cybertronians’ fires of war!” She vanished in yellow-green light.
“We’ll see,” hissed Megumi.
Richard approached Optimus and Arsha as Megumi spoke with Phury. “How’s it going?” he asked.
“Awful,” sighed Optimus. “We can’t figure out a fight where we both have a reasonable chance to win.”
“Optimus, while he may be a full-fledged wizard in his universe,” supplied Arsha, “is still new to the magic game. I’m unfamiliar with any of the children’s card games he plays. We’re stuck.”
“Wait, Prime, you play children’s card games?” quizzed Richard.
“I’m a three time Yu-Gi-Oh champion, thanks to Blackarachnia coaching me,” replied Optimus, “but that’s not the point! We need help!”
“…Target shooting, maybe?” asked Richard.
“…MAGIC target shooting!” cheered Arsha.
“Huh?” asked Richard.
“Even wand users need to brush up on their target shooting when firing spells,” explained Arsha. “Prime and I both practice on a daily basis, I say we have a magic target shooting competition…no, my record will leave him in the dust.”
“Excuse me, MY record will leave you in the dust!” argued Optimus.
“Oh yeah?!” laughed Arsha. “So you want to go through with a magic target shooting contest?”
“Yeah, let’s do it!” declared Optimus.
“All right, where shall we hold this bout?” quizzed Arsha.
“There’s a shooting range at G.U.N HQ that both organics and Autobots use,” revealed Optimus. “We’ll use that. How shall we decide who the victor is?”
“We each fire ten shots, one after another,” answered Arsha. “Whoever fires the shot closest to the center is the winner!”
“Perfect!” affirmed Optimus.
“The challenge has been set, the terms have been agreed upon, and the chance of victory is agreeable for both sides,” declared Azuliterii’s voice. “Blancalmarem, the white princess of Chizara and the life leader, will be judging. In two days’ time, your fight begins! Prepare and make ready! Good luck!”
“Let’s do it!” cheered Arsha.