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Parasite Anon by YOOHOO

By anonkuru
Created: 18th December 2020 03:35:44 AM

  1. Warning! This is not my green at all and the credit goes to YOOHOO. Since Pastebin is being a fag I'm saving some greens. I love this one so much and I hope you other anons will enjoy it.
  2.  
  3. >Pale moonlight filters through the open window, casting its rays on a familiar scene
  4. >The humid midnight air permeates your bedroom
  5. >Your mother cries out your name as teeth sink into her abdomen
  6. >A sickening crunch echoes through the room as her ribs shatter, followed by the squelching of viscera
  7. >The tall, pale figure known as a Hunger looms over the still spasming corpse of your mom as it slowly, methodically tore into her
  8. >Your stomach churns up to the back of your throat and you fight your gag reflex
  9. >You watch, petrified from the stairway
  10. >Your father is already gone
  11. >Chest torn open, exposing the half-eaten remains
  12. >You watch from the closet, huddling under the jackets within
  13. >The Hunger rips chunks of your mother off, shoveling them into its maw
  14. >You’re hiding under the covers, hoping it doesn’t see you next as you hold your breath
  15. >Its tiny glowing eyes scan the room, passing right over you and then…
  16. >It keeps eating
  17. >You wake up and gulp down air as you lay unmoving on the bench you had fallen asleep on
  18. >Sunlight streams through the leaves above and the familiar flowery smell of the school’s garden fills your nose as you look around
  19. >Wallflower is looking down at you with a deadpan stare
  20. >”Bad dream again?”
  21. “Nngh, this is why I don’t take naps… Why is my head in your lap?”
  22. >”You looked uncomfortable.”
  23. “I’m now somehow more uncomfortable knowing that you messed with me while I was asleep.”
  24. >You sit up and rub the sleep from your eyes
  25. “What time is it?”
  26. >”You’re already late.”
  27. “God d-.”
  28. >You stop yourself
  29. “Dang it.”
  30. >You start formulating an excuse and quickly rush back up the path towards the school
  31. >Lost during an impromptu hike sounds fine
  32. >Not like Mr. Doodle would ask you to elaborate further anyway
  33. >You end up getting to his class about 3/4ths of the way through
  34. >The lights are out while the projector beams a slide onto the wall
  35. >Luckily he doesn’t see you sneaking over to your desk
  36. -
  37. >You are Sunset Shimmer
  38. >And something has been bothering you for a while
  39. ”Hey girls, you ever wonder why Anon is always alone?”
  40. >You whisper conspiratorially to your surrounding friends in class and take a look over your shoulder at him
  41. >He looks… Like he usually does
  42. >A baggy off-white, gray, and red windbreaker jacket and jeans covering what was a tall, tired looking, average teenage boy
  43. >”Pff, of course not. It’s ‘cuz he’s ranked dead last, that’s why.”
  44. >While blunt, Rainbow Dash has a point
  45. >He was ranked the absolute lowest out of the entire senior class
  46. >Meaning that no one has any reason to interact with him in the first place, as challenging him has nothing but downsides
  47. >And no one wants to be friends with a low-rank anyway
  48. >Why?
  49. >Because high school is still high school, and social stigmas will always be in place
  50. >Even IF most of the kids in CHS were Hosts
  51. ”But don’t you think it’s a bit weird that he’s constantly by himself? If his power is THAT weak, you’d think he’d want to surround himself with strong friends, or something.“
  52. >”Sunset Shimmer, is my lesson boring you?”
  53. >Darn
  54. >Mr. Doodle singled you out
  55. >Probably because you were whispering pretty loud
  56. >RD holds up her hand and without waiting to be called on, speaks
  57. >”It’s boring me, teach! We already know all this stuff!”
  58. >”Well, I suppose if you’re so confident in your abilities then you’ll do just fine on the test tomorrow, right?”
  59. >Rainbow, who had taken exactly zero notes, slumps into her seat and goes silent
  60. >”If no one else has any interruptions, let’s continue.”
  61. >Mr. Doodle clicks the remote and a new slide comes up on the screen at the front of the class
  62. >”As all of you are already aware, the X-4 Parasites are the source of what many have called ‘superpowers’.”
  63. >Mr. Doodle makes air quotes as he says superpowers and a couple of students snicker
  64. >He rolls his eyes
  65. >Another click, another slide
  66. -
  67. >This slide shows a diagram of the human body’s nervous system, and an enlarged X-4 Parasite next to it
  68. >”An X-4 Parasite, once introduced to a human, will take residence inside the body, turning that person into a Host. Though the location of the proper body of the organism varies, the fibrous tendrils of the parasite will always take root within the Host’s nervous system and spinal column.”
  69. >The two diagrams animate and overlap each other after being moved across the screen before a new image appears: One of a completely integrated Host
  70. >He was pretty good at Powerpoint transitions
  71. >”After a period of a few days, a newly created Host will then manifest a power, the extent and limit of which has not yet been fully discovered. Shapeshifting, telekinesis, extreme speed, etcetera etcetera. “
  72. >The sound of several No. 2 pencils writing down notes can be heard during the silence between Mr. Doodle’s lecture
  73. >”Currently there is no known medical procedure that can be used to successfully remove an X4 Parasite from its Host without killing the Host in the process. No known antiparasitics exist that affect them.”
  74. >The bell rings, cutting the lecture short and leaving an exasperated Mr. Doodle trying to get the attention of the students before they leave
  75. >”For today’s homework, I’d like you to split off into groups of two and write a report on your partner and their parasite; what it is, how it’s affected their day-to-day life, and their rank. You can find more details in the syllabus. It’ll be due next Friday. I’ll see you all on Monday.”
  76. >The bell rings and everyone begins to file out in pairs of two, already having selected their partner
  77. >Pinkie with Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash with Twilight, Applejack and Rarity
  78. >Which gives you the perfect excuse to finally figure out what Anon’s deal was
  79. >And this time he couldn’t worm his way out of it
  80. -
  81. >You are Anonymous
  82. >Anon for short
  83. >And you were more than ready to leave class for today
  84. >”Hey Anon.”
  85. >Oh god damn it
  86. >You just want to go back to the garden and relax
  87. >Mr. Doodle never minds you not having a partner
  88. >It would be fine!
  89. >You look up from putting your notebook away to see a girl standing next to your desk
  90. >Her again
  91. >This is the one that always hangs out with her six friends
  92. >Sunset Shimmer
  93. >Rank 44
  94. “Hi.”
  95. >”So I was wondering if-.”
  96. ”You want me to be your partner for the assignment?”
  97. >You raise an eyebrow before you realize that their group doesn’t exactly lend itself well to groups of two
  98. >You doubt that there’s an ulterior motive to her doing this
  99. >After all, being the lowest rank meant most people at CHS just ignored you, and beating you wouldn’t improve her own anyway
  100. “Sure, I don’t mind.”
  101. >”Great! C’mon, we can go meet the girls and introduce you to them.”
  102. >Wait a second
  103. “I thought this was just for the report.”
  104. >You’re already being tugged along by the sleeve towards the brightly colored group of women
  105. >And you get that knot in the pit of your stomach that you usually get when you find out that you’re getting into a situation that could have more ramifications than you realize
  106. >”Well yeah, but a study group can be a good idea for just about anyone.”
  107. >Nerd
  108. >Not that you had any room to hurl insults as the bottom rung bitch of the school
  109. >You should probably fix that sometime
  110. >Soon enough you find yourself walking down the hallway, flanked on all sides by a colorful cast of Sunset’s friends
  111. >You already knew all of their names of course, as they didn’t hesitate to introduce themselves to you
  112. >But they were asking a lot of questions
  113. >Why were they all so friendly?
  114. -
  115. >”I never see you on the bus, Anon. Do you live-”
  116. “Yeah, I don’t live too far away. I’m in Dewdrop Circle.”
  117. >”Ya’ll got a part-time job or anythin’? There’s a few openin’s at the farm if ya-“
  118. >They were extremely friendly, actually
  119. >But farmwork? No thanks
  120. “Already have one. I work at the Try N’ Save on 5th Avenue.“
  121. >”Oooh, whatcha do there Anon? Do you work in the bakery-Please tell me you work in the bakery.”
  122. “Nothing like that; I just unload the stock from the trucks.”
  123. >It keeps you well enough in shape
  124. >”I recall seeing him there multiple times, but every time he somehow had a convenient excuse to avoid conversing with me.”
  125. >That part was true
  126. >Most of the time you just didn’t feel like talking to some nerd with tri-colored hair
  127. >But you’re extremely good at finding an excuse to get out of doing something when you put your mind to it
  128. >Of course, it’s not as if you’re averse to hard work or anything, otherwise you wouldn’t be working at all
  129. >Sometimes there’s just things that you don’t want to do
  130. >”Are you apart of any clubs, darling? You seem like the sort of rugged type to be in the shop club. Ooh! Or perhaps the-“
  131. >Rugged? You? As if.
  132. >You’re wiry as hell
  133. >Kinda lanky too, have they SEEN your arms?
  134. “I’m actually in the gardening club.”
  135. >The silence that follows is almost as oppressive as the silence that followed after you tripped down the stairs of the school library with several books in tow
  136. >Almost
  137. >”We have a gardening club?”
  138. >RD asks, incredulous
  139. ”I’m not exactly surprised you don’t know. There’s only two members, counting myself.”
  140. >That doesn’t make it sound any better, but it will hopefully get them to stop pursuing this line of questioning
  141. >You don’t particularly want to regale them with the astounding, pulse-pounding, hype sounding tales of you pulling weeds and watering flowers
  142. >It’s relaxing, okay?
  143. >Luckily, Rainbow Dash seems focused on other things
  144. -
  145. >”Enough with the small talk already! Anon! Your parasite! What is it?!”
  146. >Somehow you knew it was going to be her to ask first
  147. >That or maybe Sunset, seeing as how she was your partner
  148. >Or Twilight; she looked pretty nerdy
  149. >Okay so you didn’t KNOW it was going to be RD, but you had a good thirty-three percent chance of it
  150. “Oh. Uh. Right. That. I guess that I’m what you could call a… Power brick. That’s what I’ve been calling it.”
  151. >The rainbow-haired girl makes a rolling gesture with her hand, silently telling you to explain more than that
  152. “Well, it’s like… I’m abnormally strong, abnormally durable, I’ve got a lot of endurance, that sort of thing. A big brick that can hit back. A power brick.”
  153. >”So um… Sort of like Applejack… But better?”
  154. >The quiet one finally speaks up, and when she does it’s specifically to burn the country one
  155. >Nice
  156. >Okay maybe it wasn’t JUST for that burn
  157. >But still
  158. >”Now wait just an apple-pickin’ second!”
  159. >Oh boy here we go
  160. >”IF. And this here’s a big IF! IF Anon were stronger’n me, then he’d be ranked higher than ah am! And he AIN’T.”
  161. >That’s true
  162. >Applejack was rank 50
  163. >The shitter filter
  164. “Well not that it’s hard to be stronger than I am. I try not to use my parasite too much as it is already.”
  165. >You give full-bodied shrug and a lazy smile
  166. >You’re not too invested in the whole situation, but AJ certainly is
  167. >At least she’s cooling off a bit
  168. >As the group eventually mills its way outside into the courtyard, Sunset pipes up
  169. >”So why don’t you use it, Anon? From what you’ve told us so far it could be pretty decent. Heck you shouldn’t even be ranked last if it’s a power and durability boost. That at least belongs up in the sixties. Even higher depending on how big of a boost it is.”
  170. “Oh that’s an easy one. Remember Mr. Doodle’s lecture last Tuesday?”
  171. >”The… One about the Hungers?”
  172. >You snap your fingers into one whole finger gun
  173. “Bingo.”
  174. -
  175. >For the easygoing nature you cultivate on a regular basis, the one thing that can really shake you up is…
  176. >THAT night
  177. >The one that you keep having a recurring nightmare about
  178. >You repressed it as far down as you could, but it still keeps coming up
  179. >It’s the one reason that you try your damndest never to use your parasite
  180. >There is exactly one rule that everyone is taught about these X-4 Parasites:
  181. >The more you use the power it gives you, the stronger the desire to eat other Hosts becomes
  182. >And when you lose it and finally tear into another Host?
  183. >It’s like a switch gets flipped on the parasite inside you
  184. >It starts multiplying itself, taking over more and more of your body until one finally takes control of your brain
  185. >From that point on, you’re not human anymore
  186. >You’re a Hunger
  187. >One of the things that killed mom and dad
  188. >You shudder as your gut turns over on itself remembering that night
  189. “I just don’t wanna become one of those… Things. Y’know?”
  190. >Twilight speaks up
  191. >”But Anonymous-“
  192. “Anon.”
  193. >”Anon, the need to consume is time-based as well. The longer your time as a Host, the greater the urge to eat others is.”
  194. “Yeah, well using your parasite expedites that process.”
  195. >You take a seat on the ground
  196. >There were no expectations on the ground
  197. “Besides, I don’t really care about the school’s stupid contest anyway, so being rank 100 suits me just fine.”
  198. >”Huh, I’m surprised. I would’ve assumed you at least somewhat interested in the top prize.”
  199. “Just who the hell needs that much money anyway? The Top 10 can kill each other over it as much as they want. Brawly Beats bit the dust last month when he challenged Norman over the rank 1 spot. I’m not about that life.”
  200. >Your statement gets a few uncomfortable glances, but little else
  201. -
  202. >”So you don’t use your parasite just because you don’t want to turn into a Hunger.”
  203. “Yep.”
  204. >”Despite the fact that the time factor has almost never played a part in a Hunger awakening at this school. AND that there’s never been a single Hunger awakening at CHS to date.”
  205. >You admit that she’s right about the last part
  206. >That’s sort of what the C.P.R. was all about
  207. >The CHS Parasite Rumble was why the entire senior class was ranked
  208. >1 all the way through 100
  209. >The Top 10 at the end of the school year are given free housing
  210. >Real fancy stuff. Condominium-style
  211. >The Top 3, in addition to that, get a free ride through any university of their choosing, no fees, no tuition
  212. >And the number 1 ranked student, in addition to all of THAT, gets a monetary prize
  213. >Somewhere around the 10 million mark
  214. >If anyone ever wonders where their tax dollars go, it’s there
  215. >The downside?
  216. >Ranks 1 through 10 fight each other to the death
  217. >Why?
  218. >Because only the strongest students are at those ranks
  219. >Which means that, usually, they’re already in danger of becoming a Hunger by the time they get there
  220. >[spoiler]It’s even worse getting ranked in the Top 10 right at the start, just because you’re already strong. You have to fight for your life the longest[/spoiler]
  221. >CHS pretty much stopped being a normal high school when the X-4 Parasites became widespread
  222. “That’s the gist of it, yeah.”
  223. >Sunset furrows her brow as she looks at you, as if trying to search for an answer on your face
  224. >”Well Anon, you’re a weird one but I can’t say you don’t have principles.”
  225. “An accurate description, but you missed ‘cool’ and ‘mysterious’.”
  226. >That nets you more than one pair of eyes rolling
  227. >You check your phone and unseat yourself from the ground with only your legs
  228. “I’ve got a meeting with the gardening club to get to,”
  229. >Calling it a meeting was a stretch
  230. “So I’ll uh, see you later I guess?”
  231. >Is that how this usually went?
  232. >You’ve only ever hung out with Wallflower, so making plans for later wasn’t your style
  233. -
  234. >You excuse yourself from the group of girls
  235. >As you start making your way around the exterior of the school, you become acutely aware of another presence walking alongside you
  236. >From the shorter strides and softer steps, coupled with the silence from your new companion, you already knew who it was
  237. “You know I was already coming to club, right? You don’t have to spy on me, Wallflower.”
  238. >Wallflower Blush
  239. >Unranked
  240. >[spoiler]Because CHS probably wasn’t even aware she was part of the student body[/spoiler]
  241. >Her parasite essentially turned her into a non-entity
  242. >A mental blindspot whenever she was involved
  243. >You don’t know whether she controls it or not and if she just turns it off around you
  244. >Or if it genuinely just doesn’t work on you for some reason
  245. >And in true Wallflower fashion, she disregards half the statements posed to her
  246. >”You were late.”
  247. “By like 2 minutes!”
  248. >You throw your hands up in exasperation
  249. >”Who were those girls?”
  250. “What, jealous or something? One of them is a partner of mine for a report and the rest are her friends. They’re weird, but nice enough I guess.”
  251. >”As long as it doesn’t cut into your time at the club, Anon.”
  252. “As if I’d ever miss club.”
  253. >The two of you start making your way down the path to the school’s garden
  254. >Hopefully the departure from your usual routine would pass as abruptly as it began when the assignment was over
  255. >Sunset would drop contact with the rank 100 nobody and, by extension, so would her friends
  256. >And you’d go back to being alone
  257. >Even though you weren’t, considering you were friends(?) with Wallflower
  258. >Does she count if nobody else acknowledges her?
  259. >It was confusing, and you’d rather not think about it
  260. >But you still couldn’t shake away that gut feeling you’d gotten earlier
  261. >Some cosmic, universal bullshit was looming on the horizon, and hadn’t packed your binoculars
  262. -
  263. www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ejTIgXexyg (Chrono Trigger OST Wind Scene)
  264. >Your time at the garden was spent in relative silence, punctuated only by the occasional question from the only other member of the gardening club
  265. >Time spent with Wallflower is always pleasant
  266. >Time spent with Wallflower is also rarely exciting
  267. >Then again, you never sought out much excitement in the first place
  268. >In fact, Sunset and her friends talking with you has been the largest departure from your daily routine in several months
  269. >And you aren’t quite sure where you fall on the matter
  270. >A small part of you is almost looking forward to tomorrow
  271. >You don’t know what to expect out of your interactions with this group of girls, even if it IS mostly just mundane chit-chat back and forth
  272. >Your brain is already turning over with every possible outcome, no matter how outlandish
  273. >It’s like experiencing the holiday season as a child
  274. >Your parents have the chance to surprise you with whatever dumb thing you wanted that year, and you go nuts after tearing into the carefully folded wrapping paper
  275. >As opposed to experiencing it in your later years
  276. >You’re asked outright what you’d like, and you throw out a few suggestions of things that you really needed, maybe something that you WANT, expecting not to get much
  277. >You’re doing the same for others, and it becomes the yearly tradition
  278. >You grow accustomed to it, and while it doesn’t give you the same rush as it did when you were a kid, you tear into the wrapping paper, getting exactly what you expected
  279. >And it’s a different sort of satisfaction, one born of familiarity
  280. >That’s the kind of thing that your life is as of now
  281. >An enjoyable, if somewhat dull, stasis
  282. >”Anon you’re overwatering them!”
  283. >You find the pail snatched from your hands and you jolt back into the real world
  284. “Son of a-. My bad.”
  285. >No cursing around Wallflower
  286. >Or in the garden
  287. >”You were staring off into space for a while there. What’s up?”
  288. -
  289. >You lie down and stretch out in the soft grass
  290. >The sun was slowly beginning its descent, casting angled shafts of light through the trees that reflect off a small stream running off to the side of the clearing and setting it sparkling like glitter
  291. >The distant bustling of the town, cars honking and the sound of engines on a main road could be heard faintly in the distance, muddled by the rustling of leaves as a gentle wind blew through the trees
  292. >”You weren’t thinking about that night again, were you?”
  293. “What? O-Oh no it wasn’t that. That only happens when I’m asleep. Heh. Heh…”
  294. >Your sheepish chuckle trails off
  295. >”Was it something those girls said to you?”
  296. >Sort of, but not exactly
  297. >More like the entire situation has sent your mind a-thinking
  298. “Wallflower, we’re friends, right?”
  299. >She gives you the usual deadpan stare
  300. >”Anon we’ve known each other since sophomore year. Minus this weird talk we’re having, we do this sort of thing every day. Save for weekends, and holidays… And when you forget to come to the club…”
  301. >You stick your hand up in the air with your index finger extended
  302. “That happened exactly once, and I apologized for it!”
  303. >”Yes Anon, we’re friends. You’re the only person that actually acknowledges my existence, and the fact that you care about the school’s garden is just a nice bonus.”
  304. “Hey it’d be a shame to let these green thumbs go to waste.”
  305. >You give two thumbs up before you sit up
  306. “But I guess that’s enough of a break for me. Back to work.”
  307. >You spend the few hours pulling weeds and laying stones for a new planter in the garden
  308. >Of course, you’re missing the fertilizer, flowers, and herbs with which to put in it, but it’s important to take things one step at a time
  309. >By the time you’re finished, you’re thoroughly dirty and ready to head home and take a shower
  310. >You bid Wallflower farewell, making plans to return tomorrow and finish the work you started
  311. >With that, you begin the trek back home through the forest
  312. -
  313. >Finally arriving at your front doorstep around the time the light starts to fade, you fish out your keys from your pocket
  314. >You open the front door and step into the living room, closing it behind you
  315. “Hey mom, I’m home.”
  316. >You have an adoptive mother
  317. >Her name is Almond Milk
  318. >The two of you have a very simple relationship:
  319. >You be the best damn son she could ever ask for
  320. >And in return you get a loving and nurturing mother
  321. >Simple
  322. >None of that “YOU AREN’T MY REEEAAAAL MOM” bullshit
  323. >Losing one set of parents was more than enough
  324. >You weren’t gonna fuck it up and go double or nothing on the secondary mom front
  325. >”Anon! You’re home later than usual, dear. Is everything alright?”
  326. >She steps out from behind the dividing wall separating the dining room and the kitchen where she had presumably been doing dishes, judging by the sound of the faucet being turned off
  327. >She’s dressed rather conservatively: mom jeans, a pastel yellow button-down blouse and an apron with the words “I am the Queen, and the grill is my throne.” emblazoned upon it covering her front
  328. >Her brown hair was tied up in a bun, leaving two curly bangs framing her soft, matronly features
  329. >Good ol’ mom
  330. “Nah I’m fine. Just had more things to do during club than usual; can’t you see the dirt?”
  331. >”I can see that you’re about to track it on the carpet. Shoes off, mister.”
  332. >Damn that was close
  333. >You nearly gave yourself extra work around the house cleaning the dirt off the carpet
  334. >White carpet too
  335. >It’d be a bitch to get out without smearing everywhere
  336. >With your shoes successfully removed and resting carefully by the door you make a beeline for the bathroom at the end of the hallway
  337. >As you’re getting undressed and ready for a shower you hear your mom call out from the next room
  338. >”Anon dear I’m not going to be back ‘til Sunday. I cooked you food for the weekend so you don’t starve.”
  339. >She knows you can cook on your own right?
  340. >Whatever
  341. >Less work for you!
  342. -
  343. >After exchanging goodbyes with your dear mum through the bathroom door, assuring her that you would be having no parties while she was away, she leaves for work
  344. >You never asked what it was she did, and it never much mattered anyway
  345. >One relaxing shower later and you’re wandering around the house in your underwear
  346. >Because you’re a MAN damn it
  347. >And it’s so liberating
  348. >And free
  349. >The only way you could be even freer is if your junk wasn’t confined within these briefs
  350. >But you’d rather not tempt fate and have a repeat of… Last time
  351. >You cringe on the inside and distract yourself by watering the Venus flytrap on your windowsill
  352. >Wallflower had given you it as a gift a while ago
  353. >Apparently, it’s named “Hans”
  354. >He always looked like he was in various states of laughter
  355. >A good lad Hans was
  356. >Allegedly there’s another one at Wallflower’s house named Franz
  357. >The rest of your day slowly winds to a close after you eat and get started on the outline for your report, eventually culminating in you slipping into bed for a restful night’s sleep
  358. >God you hope it’s restful
  359. >But you know it won’t be
  360. >You don’t have any other dreams at night now
  361. >Just that one
  362. >Over and over
  363. >It’s a wonder you can get any sleep whatsoever
  364. -
  365. >”… You’re late.”
  366. ”I’m aware. Subject Delta returned home later than normal.”
  367. >”This “Delta” of yours hasn’t shown even a passing interest in the C.P.R., Number 9. We’re beginning to think that you might have been the wrong choice for this project.”
  368. ”You should have believed me when I told you that simply arbitrarily giving him the lowest possible rank wouldn’t work.”
  369. >”Then what WILL work, Number 9? We’re expecting results out of both you AND him.”
  370. ”After extensive observation, I’ve come up with an idea that could force Delta to participate, that way you can get all data you need.”
  371. >”Do tell.”
  372. ”The execution is simple enough: Engineer an “accident” to hospitalize Delta’s friend. A very specific accident. An accident involving a Hunger, to be precise.”
  373. >”Let me get this straight, 9: You want us to provide you with a live Hunger, AND allow you to release it on school grounds?”
  374. ”Along with some string pulling to make sure Delta has no choice. With your connections, it would be trivially easy to put Wallflower under the care of Number 3’s circle of medical personnel. Even with his job he couldn’t even begin to pay off her medical costs.”
  375. >”Out of the questi-”
  376. ”And what do you think is the quickest way for Delta to get more than enough money to secure his friend’s treatment? The one thing that’s constantly spoken about at this school?”
  377. >”The… Top spot of the C.P.R.”
  378. ”Exactly. With your cooperation, and a bit of gentle nudging on my part, Delta will have no choice but full participation in the C.P.R.”
  379. >”Alright Number 9, but it’ll be your head on the chopping block if this bites us in the ass. We’re taking a lot of risks on YOUR behalf. This better work.”
  380. ”Don’t worry.”
  381.  
  382. ”I know it will.”
  383. -
  384. >You are Wallflower Blush
  385. >And you were currently tending to the school’s garden on a fine Saturday morning
  386. >As usual, Anon wasn’t here
  387. >But it’s not like you minded or anything
  388. >You weren’t about to ask him to spend his weekends here with you
  389. >You were just glad that he spent time here at all
  390. >He could be doing literally anything else and yet he decided to spend his free time here with you
  391. >It shouldn’t surprise you anymore at this point
  392. >He’s been doing it for the better part of three-ish years or so
  393. >Ever since he asked what you did in your spare time
  394. >You’re broken from your thoughts as you hear the distinct sound of a branch snapping deeper into the forest and the sound of rustling leaves on the ground
  395. >You stand up and look off in the direction of the noise, but the trees quickly obscure your line of sight, preventing you from seeing too deep within
  396. >Did Anon come to see you?
  397. >That would be a nice surprise...
  398. >You should probably meet him halfway though
  399. >It’s easier than you think to get lost in these woods
  400. >But you knew them more than Anon did
  401. >It’s for this reason that you venture just a bit deeper in
  402. >The foliage and underbrush swallows up everything, making it hard for you to discern the paths, and the canopy blocks the dawn light from shining through
  403. >The morning mist obscures your vision even further
  404. >Occasionally you would hear more snapping of branches, but the direction was less discernible
  405. >Something however, sticks out to you
  406. >Blood
  407. >Splattered across several trees
  408. >And nearby, the corpse of a dead rabbit
  409. >Well
  410. >More like several corpses
  411. >All bitten in half
  412. >Naturally there were predators in any ecosystem, sure, and these woods were no different
  413. >But you don’t know how common it is for half of a predator’s meal to just be left behind like this
  414. >And so many to boot...
  415. >Another branch snaps in the distance
  416. >You hastily start rushing back through the woods the way you came
  417. >It was time to leave
  418. -
  419. >You are Anon
  420. >And you are currently being woken up by a knocking at the front door
  421. >On one hand, it’s woken you up early from your nightmare
  422. >On the other hand, it’s 11AM
  423. >On a Saturday
  424. >You shouldn’t sleep in like this
  425. >You usually wake up earlier to water Hans
  426. >You roll a bit too far to turn yourself over… And fall out of your bed
  427. >This had better be good
  428. >One pair of jeans and a t-shirt later, you’re at the front door, looking through the peephole
  429. >It’s those girls again
  430. >Why are they all here?
  431. >It’s only Sunset you’re partnered up with
  432. >Do they always travel in a pack like this?
  433. >They look like damned girl scouts all grouped up at your door like this
  434. >You undo the deadbolt and open up the door
  435. “Look unless you’ve got any Samoas, I’m closing the door and going to water my plant.”
  436. >Calling your bluff, the pink one reaches into her giant curly hair and pulls out a box of honest to goodness girl scout Samoas
  437. >Damn, she’s good
  438. >It was supposed to be a joke
  439. >You can’t really complain though
  440. >You take it from her and eagerly tear into the box, getting through at least 1/4th of their coconut caramel goodness before you remember that you have company
  441. “Sho what’sh up?”
  442. >You ask, munching on a cookie
  443. >”You said we’d meet up later, then you ditched us an-”
  444. >You cut Sunset off
  445. “It wasn’t ditching! I had prior obligations to attend to. I even said so.”
  446. >”And your gardening club meeting took the entirety of the rest of the day?”
  447. >Okay, so maybe you HAD forgotten just a little bit
  448. >You were having some deep, introspective thoughts, alright?
  449. >Normally you don’t have them, but a certain few girls were messing with the natural order of things
  450. “Alright, I forgot.”
  451. >”Don’t worry about it. Pinkie suggested that we go bowling and we were wondering if you wanted to come along.”
  452. >Bowling?
  453. “Bowling?”
  454. >”Yeah,” Sunset continues “we can work on our reports while we’re there and we won’t have to work out who’s going to whose house.”
  455. >You opt not to mention they came to your house already
  456. -
  457. >The sound of leaves crunching underfoot
  458. >The sound of something else making heavy footfalls somewhere behind you
  459. >The scratching of brambles against your exposed skin
  460. >You are running for your life
  461. >There was something in the woods with you
  462. >Something that didn’t belong there
  463. >You caught a glimpse of it through the trees
  464. >It was a Hunger
  465. >A Hunger was here in the woods with you
  466. >And it knew you were here
  467. >It shouldn’t be able to track you, not with your parasite, but you’ve never been able to control yours very well in the first place
  468. >Maybe
  469. >Just maybe if you could make it back to the school somebody would be there
  470. >Someone who could help you
  471. >As you close and shield your eyes from a patch of thorns, the first face that flashes in the darkness comes is Anon’s
  472. >If he were here, he would save you
  473. >You just know it
  474. >But he isn’t here
  475. >And you’ll have to save yourself
  476. >You pivot on one foot and quickly jam yourself into the hollow of a large, dead tree to hide and catch your breath
  477. >You take slow, near-silent breaths as it stalks among the trees nearby
  478. >Th-Thump
  479. >Th-Thump
  480. >Your heart beats so loudly in the silence that you fear it might give you away
  481. >And then you see it
  482. >It slowly crawls into view before standing straight up to its full height
  483. >Easily nine feet tall, with a lanky, wiry physique that concealed the sheer amount of strength it possessed
  484. >The kind of strength that could easily rip you into two neat halves
  485. >Several parasites writhe just beneath the surface, making its taut skin undulate with their movement
  486. >The arms stretch nearly to the ground, the fingertips more akin to claws now
  487. >Its head twitches unnaturally as it looks around, searching for you with those tiny glowing eyes, its face covered in the blood of the creatures it had been feeding on
  488. >Two rows of flat teeth fill its mouth, more suited for crushing through bone and sinew than ripping and tearing flesh
  489. >But it can do both with ease
  490. >And it was looking at you
  491. -
  492. >You’ve never seen a bowling alley so…
  493. >90s
  494. >Honestly, you can kind of dig it
  495. >They don’t half-ass it, and all the employees are dressed in period-appropriate attire
  496. >And the only music playing over the speakers is from the 90s and before
  497. >After getting yourself checked in at the front counter, you find yourself sitting in a plastic chair, making sure that your snazzy bowling shoes are laced up tight
  498. >Applejack and Rainbow Dash are using their combined brainpower to try and figure out how to set up the electronic scorecards for the lanes while Twilight does her best to walk them through it
  499. >And they’ve already screwed it up once and had to start over
  500. >Meanwhile, Sunset sits nearby, already mocking up an outline for her report
  501. >Usually you at least waited a day
  502. >It speaks to her work ethic, you suppose
  503. >”So Anon,”
  504. >You tune out the Sugar Ray playing over the speakers and turn to her, ready to listen to whatever she has to say
  505. >This time you won’t even cut her off like you usually do
  506. >”You already told me what your parasite does, but can you give me an example? I’d like something more tangible, you know?”
  507. >Shoot, that’s not even a bad point
  508. >Easier to quantify that way
  509. “Sure, sure.”
  510. >You think for just a moment, trying to recall a good example
  511. “Okay okay so this was back in… Sophomore year I think. Before I met Wallflower I used to take an entirely different route when I walked to school. And when I was crossing the street a block from my house I ended up getting sideswiped by a truck that ran the stop sign.”
  512. >Sunset’s eyes widen at your story
  513. “Ha, if you’re surprised just imagine how surprised I was when I got up afterwards with nothing but a sprained ankle and a few cuts!”
  514. >You conveniently leave out the part where you were panicking and thought you were blind because your backpack had landed on your face
  515. >”Well, that’s certainly a plus for your durability...”
  516. -
  517. >You manage to scramble out through a small hole in the hollow tree just before the Hunger can grab you
  518. >But it tore a hole in the leg of your jeans
  519. >The calf of the leg it had bitten at pulses with a sharp pain every time you push off of that foot
  520. >It had torn straight through the fabric and into your calf, and based on the warmth that was running down your ankle into your sock, you were bleeding quite a bit
  521. >It knows your taste now
  522. >And your scent
  523. >You scream at the top of your lungs for someone to help you
  524. >For anyone to help you
  525. >You look over your shoulder to see it chasing you by bounding from tree branch to tree branch
  526. >Its long, spindly limbs making it trivial to keep up with you
  527. >You can hear it breathing, making animalistic gurgling and growling as it tastes your blood upon its tongue
  528. >It’s forcing you to run away from the garden and the school, trying to isolate you more than you already were
  529. >Not only that, but it’s gotten more vicious
  530. >It leaps from the trunk of a tree behind you, arms outstretched to catch you, its prey
  531. >With a tiny burst of speed you only narrowly escape its grasp, but its bony claws rend all the way down your back, leaving deep bleeding gouges that sting and soak your sweater
  532. >Your lungs ache, your muscles burn, and you feel a tightness in your chest that only gets worse as you keep running away
  533. ”ANON, HELP!! PLEASE! SOMEONE! ANYONE HELP ME!!”
  534. -
  535. >CRACK
  536. >And the pins scatter against the backboard, the mechanical arm coming down to sweep them away to be replaced
  537. >You pump your fist back towards you in triumph as you get another strike
  538. >In your mind you’re singing along with “Don’t You Want Me” on the loudspeakers
  539. >You do an undoubtedly sweet-looking moonwalk back and step off the raised platform onto regular floor
  540. >Sunset has facepalmed
  541. >Pinkie is giving you two thumbs up
  542. >RD looks like she’s about a hair’s breadth away from throttling AJ, as the latter is currently winning
  543. >You gracefully take a seat in the booth opposite Sunset
  544. >Nobody told these poor girls just how much of a fucking dork you were
  545. “So what were you saying?”
  546. >”I was asking you about your super strength! How’d you already forget?”
  547. >Oh
  548. >Right
  549. >Shit
  550. “Sorry, I was just in the zone there. You know how it is.”
  551. >She rolls her eyes at that
  552. “But uh… As an example? That’s...”
  553. >When have you ever had to use it?
  554. >You had to at some point, right?
  555. >Otherwise you wouldn’t know that you had it
  556. >Oh!
  557. “Alright so do you remember that field trip a while back?”
  558. >”The one to Camp Everfree? How could I forget?”
  559. >Apparently there was a whole bunch of BULLSHIT going on during that trip
  560. >But you weren’t around for it
  561. >Instead you were off gallivanting around with Wallflower
  562. “Well you know those massive XBOX huge ironwoods they’ve got out there? I kinda sorta accidentally… Cut one down. With my fist. I punched a huge tree down, Sunset.”
  563. >She give you the “are you fucking serious” look
  564. >To which you hold your hands up with a shrug
  565. >”Anon are you lying to me?”
  566. “No! Hell I rarely if ever throw a punch at anything, I was just as surprised as you are now.”
  567. >That may have been an understatement
  568. >You had screamed pretty loud, afraid the thing was going to fall on Wallflower or you or one of the cabins
  569. >It didn’t, it just fell over into the woods
  570. >The sound of pins snaps you from your thoughts and you look over to see Fluttershy effortlessly sink a 7-10 split
  571. -
  572. >You barely have time to react before you slam headfirst into a low hanging branch
  573. >Looking back at the Hunger had distracted you for just an instant
  574. >And it was enough to knock you to the forest floor
  575. >Where you start rolling
  576. >You’re tumbling down an incline until you hit a bump that pops you into the air
  577. >Falling…
  578. >For just a moment
  579. >Until your skill lands against a rock with an earsplitting CRACK
  580. >You cry out, but no noise escapes your mouth
  581. >Nothing but a strained croak of air trapped in your throat
  582. >It sends a sharp, lancing pain all the way into your spine every time your head is jostled
  583. >Which is a lot, considering you’re still rolling down a hill
  584. >You close your eyes, hoping that it would end soon
  585. >That the pain would end soon
  586. >Tears sting at the edges of your eyes as you keep them shut tightly until…
  587. >You come to a stop face up and a cold wetness envelops you
  588. >A stream?
  589. >The water submerges most of your body, leaving your face dry as you stare up at the canopy
  590. >The sun shines down upon you through the trees, setting the stream alight with wavering light that dances across your body
  591. >You’re seeing double… Triple...
  592. >The water is washing your blood away
  593. >And it would feel so nice right about now to just… Close your eyes
  594. >Have a nice nap
  595. >You could wake up and see Anon on Monday
  596. >No
  597. >Wait
  598. >There was something wrong
  599. >You’d been running from something, that’s how you ended up here in the first place
  600. >But thinking hurts
  601. >What was it?
  602. >A guttural screech pierces the calm silence of the settling forest, sending birds retreating into the sky
  603. >You turn your head and see the Hunger once more
  604. >Slinking towards the stream as it once more zeroes in on you
  605. >You were bleeding so profusely at this point it was almost trivial to do so
  606. >You swallow hard, and taste salty, metallic blood in your mouth
  607. >Gotta get away
  608. >It takes an immense effort to simply sit up straight
  609. >Apparently you’d been running for quite a while…
  610. -
  611. >No matter how fast you try to drag yourself away from the stream, it’s not nearly fast enough
  612. >You can see it reaching out for you, almost in slow motion
  613. >Did it know that you couldn’t escape?
  614. >Was it just taking its time and not exerting itself now?
  615. >You roll over to your front and grab onto a nearby root as it takes hold of your good leg
  616. >When you aren’t immediately dragged back to it, the Hunger roughly yanks your ankle
  617. >With the death grip you have on the root, your arm is torn out of its socket, and you find yourself instinctively letting go from the pain shock coursing through your arm
  618. >Was this it?
  619. >You find yourself thinking as the Hunger lifts your leg and bites into your knee, splattering itself with your blood as it spurts out
  620. >The other hand snakes up, sitting poised above your abdomen for just a moment before it spears downward, impaling its claw into you
  621. >The pain was excruciating, and you were on the verge of blacking out
  622. >Your vision swims, and the entire world starts to fade
  623. >You can feel the bony claw moving around inside your guts, searching for what was juiciest to rip out and bite into
  624. >But then it stops moving
  625. >The Hunger’s head shoots up, taking a chunk of your leg with it as its entire body freezes like a mantis, trying to pick up on the sound
  626. >You’d heard it too
  627. >Footsteps
  628. >The water splashed with each step, and it put an immense strain on your muscles to simply turn your head to look at who was approaching
  629. >By the time you manage to slump your head to the side, you were already passing out
  630. >With a wet squelch you can feel the claw being removed, and the weight of the Hunger recedes from your body as it stands
  631. >The last thing that you can hear before unconsciousness takes you is the sound of chains…
  632. -
  633. >”Uuughh I hate it when she gloats. I lost by TWO points. TWO!”
  634. >You and Rainbow Dash, after she’d lost her game to Applejack (but still beat Rarity and Twilight), had decided to take a break for a bit and go grab some food from the mini-restaurant the bowling alley had
  635. >Of course, making sure to take orders for what everyone else wanted first
  636. “You don’t have enough force behind your throw.”
  637. >You state simply as you take a seat with the rainbow-haired lass while waiting for the massive order of food
  638. >8 people could really eat a lot
  639. >Taking a glance in Rainbow’s direction, you can see her glaring a hole in your head with a defiant —if pouty— expression
  640. >It was actually pretty cute, in a tomboyish sort of way
  641. “What?”
  642. “Well don’t just sit there, explain it to me so I can beat her!”
  643. >You groan and run your hand down your face
  644. >How are you supposed to further explain the fact that she just straight up couldn’t match Applejack’s strength?
  645. >That just seemed apparent
  646. >Apparent-ly not
  647. >Heh, good one brain
  648. “Well, every one of your throws were accurate, and you had great form,”
  649. >You may have been watching her during your downtime
  650. “But you didn’t have enough oomph in there.”
  651. >You punctuate your “oomph” by clasping your fingertips together against the thumb on the same hand and popping your fingers apart
  652. >You aren’t Italian, but you certainly feel like it doing that
  653. >Something’s nagging at you though
  654. “What’s your parasite, Rainbow?”
  655. >She kicks the tip of her bowling shoe against the floor and dramatically flips some bangs out of her face
  656. >”Rank 34, Extreme speed! There isn’t a person at CHS that can keep up with me!”
  657. >You didn’t ask for her rank, but it was nice to know regardless
  658. “So if speed’s your thing, why’d you try and imitate Applejack’s technique?”
  659. >”Say what?”
  660. >Oh god damn it
  661. -
  662. >Okay
  663. >So you couldn’t exactly blame her
  664. >It was probably just absentminded
  665. >And you doubt that she even realized she was doing it
  666. “Applejack roots herself in place rather than having a walk up, and she doesn’t extend her arm all the way back either. She doesn’t need to. She’s already got enough strength in her body that doing so would just be overkill.”
  667. >A little bell dings from the kitchen in the back and out comes the server, bringing you back the veritable pile of food, leaving you two to figure out how to transport it all back
  668. >An undoubtedly way-too-greasy pepperoni and mushroom pizza for you
  669. >A platter of nachos for Fluttershy
  670. >Two big bacon double cheeseburgers for Twilight and Sunset
  671. >Some sort of… Wrap for Rarity
  672. >Several chili cheese dogs that Rainbow Dash and Applejack were supposed to share (which would only go well)
  673. >And a banana split sundae for Pinkie
  674. >You do your best to balance the burgers, nachos, wrap, and sundae on top of your pizza box likes some sort of overpriced Tetris and leave the rest for Rainbow
  675. >The two of you start on your way back and you continue your explanation
  676. “Since your whole deal is speed you need that momentum, right? Hell, your walk up could be a run up. It’s not like you’re breaking a rule unless you step over the line.”
  677. >Probably
  678. >It’s not like the employees cared enough to make a big deal out of it
  679. >”Huh, that’s… Actually a pretty good idea! I didn’t even know I was copying her until you pointed it out.”
  680. >She giggles a bit to herself
  681. >”Heh, it’s the same way I beat her when we spar together too. How did I not figure that out before!? Thanks Anon!”
  682. >She gives you a way-too-hard slap on the back and takes off walking way faster, eager to challenge Applejack again
  683. >It nearly makes you lose your balance it was so unexpected, and you have to make a concerted effort not to let everything spill and tumble to the floor
  684. >You take a seat back at the booth with Sunset and the rest of the girls
  685. >Today was shaping up to be a good day
  686. -
  687. >Rainbow Dash has already challenged Applejack to a 1v1 rematch
  688. >Whenever it’s not your turn, you can watch her putting the advice you gave her into practice
  689. >And she’s winning
  690. >You feel a small amount of pride at having made a difference
  691. >As you enjoy your food in the company of 5 pretty girls, it strikes you that, well
  692. >You don’t actually know very much about them
  693. >Other than the fact that they’ve saved the school several times
  694. >You’re usually keeping to yourself or hanging out with Wallflower
  695. >Your thoughts drift to her, imagining that she’s most likely working in the school’s garden right now
  696. >She loved that place
  697. >You did too, but not nearly as much as she did
  698. >Wait shit you were supposed to be getting to know these girls, right?
  699. >Well, were you?
  700. >You don’t actually know
  701. >They seem friendly enough
  702. >Okay that’s an understatement, they’re really friendly
  703. >But genuinely friendly, like they wanted to get to know you
  704. >So you decide to ask with something benign
  705. >A usual icebreaker at CHS
  706. “So uh, I’m kinda curious; what’s YOUR parasite, Sunset?”
  707. >You could disguise it as asking for your report too
  708. >And then from there, continue down the line of their little group
  709. >Delightfully devilish, Anon
  710. >You already knew both Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s, and they were busy anyway!
  711. >Mine? It’s telepathy, Anon. I can read minds and communicate with my thoughts from a distance. I’m ranked-”
  712. 44, yeah. You er, told me before.”
  713. >It’s a bit odd how second nature it was to introduce yourself alongside your rank
  714. >It’s been like this for so many years that it’s just involuntary now
  715. >You take note of it and turn your gaze to the one sitting beside her
  716. “Twilight?”
  717. >She looks up from chowing down on her burger before wiping her mouth with a napkin
  718. >Before levitating a slice of pizza away from your hands just as you’re about to take a bite, snickering in the process
  719. -
  720. >”Telekinesis, Anon. I’m ranked 42nd out of our whole senior class. If you’d prefer, I can also give you a detailed explanation of how it works!”
  721. >No thanks, nerd
  722. >You snatch your ‘za out of the air and shake your head
  723. “I’m good, thanks. Uhhh… YOU.”
  724. >You level your finger at the quietest one of the bunch
  725. >Fluttershy, if you recall
  726. >Your voice nearly makes her jump out of her skin
  727. >It wasn’t even that loud, but you assume she just wasn’t expecting to be called out
  728. >”M-Me?”
  729. >She asks, pointing at herself incredulously
  730. >You nod
  731. >”I um… I control nsmsmm...”
  732. >She fidgets in her seat a bit, clearly not appreciating the attention
  733. “What?”
  734. >”I’m rank tnmmh...”
  735. >Leaning closer, you try and pick up what she’s mumbling, but a strike and cheering from Rainbow Dash drowns out what Fluttershy is saying
  736. >You look to Sunset for some sort of assistance here, giving her your best “is she for serious right now?” face
  737. >To which you’re met with a shrug
  738. >And an exclamation from the girl with the fabulous purple hair sitting at the head of the table
  739. >”If Fluttershy isn’t inclined to share the details with Anon, I’m more than happy share mine!”
  740. >You pause for a beat, blinking once, twice
  741. “Rarity, right?”
  742. >”The one and only, darling. And the one and only rank 46 in CHS.”
  743. >Well, unless someone took it that is
  744. >Not like you would
  745. “Well lay it on me then. What have you got up those sleeves of yours?”
  746. >She smooths out said sleeves, holding them up and wiggling her perfectly manicured fingers
  747. >Brilliant, diamond-like light emanates from between them like a strange spiderweb
  748. >”Twilight called it “hard light constructs”; I call it fabulous. You might be quite surprised at just what I can manage with it.”
  749. >You honestly probably would
  750. >But that isn’t exactly what you’re focused on right now
  751. >What you’re focused on is the pink one literally vibrating in her seat next to you
  752. >She looks like she’s practically about to explode, until she finally blurts out
  753. >”Anon! ANON! Anon ask about mine! Do it!”
  754. -
  755. >You sigh
  756. >Her overenthusiasm was pretty cute, you had to admit
  757. >But damn girl, calm down
  758. >You crazy
  759. “Okay okay Pinkie, tell me all about it. I’m all ears.”
  760. >You suck the lemonade in your cup through the straw as you look at her
  761. >”Well clearly you aren’t! Otherwise you would’ve heard me calling out to you in the hallway last Tuesday when I was trying to invite you to-”
  762. >”Pinkie!”
  763. >Twilight interjects, trying to get her back on track
  764. >”Huh? Oh! Right!”
  765. >She reaches underneath the table and pulls out a pair of aviators, donning them and snapping fingerguns at you
  766. >”Pinkie Pie, rank 20-”
  767. >You spit take
  768. >You legitimately do a spit take at that
  769. >Luckily Rarity is quick on the draw and blocks the spraying lemonade with a quickly made buckler
  770. >How?!
  771. >You didn’t expect her to be ranked so high
  772. “Bu- Wha- HUH? How?”
  773. >She pulls the sunglasses down her nose just enough to where her eyes are visible again, and she peers at you over the rim
  774. >”What’s the matter, silly? Didn’t expect a girl like me to be so high up the ladder?”
  775. “Well… Kind of, yeah! L-Like I didn’t mean any offense by it or-”
  776. >She starts to snicker, before she takes her aviators off and tosses them into the air
  777. >And as they begin to fall towards your face, you can see a bright pink light escaping through cracks webbing across the surface of them
  778. >And then it fucking explodes
  779. -
  780. >A haze of sweet, cake batter and icing scented smoke surrounds your head, and the sheer brightness of the flash makes you fall out of your seat
  781. “OH FU-!!”
  782. >Thump
  783. >You land on your back and groan before opening your eyes to see her leaning over your seat to look at you
  784. >”Omigosh I didn’t mean to surprise you THAT much, Anon!”
  785. >You’re fairly certain that she didn’t, but you can still hear her doing her best to stifle giggling
  786. >She reaches down and helps pull you back into your chair
  787. >”Pinkie Pie has the ability to “overcharge” any item she throws, at will. She can bestow these items will all manner of effects, depending on their composition.”
  788. >You cough a bit as the sweet aroma fills your nostrils and you try to wave it away
  789. “So I just got flashbanged because she threw a pair of sunglasses at me?”
  790. >”They’re both eye related!”
  791. >Pinkie chimes in with a smile
  792. >Yeah
  793. >You can see how that could be very dangerous
  794. >Just imagining what she could do if she chucked a bowling ball at you makes you a bit afraid
  795. >You could probably take it, but still
  796. >This girl can turn anything into a grenade
  797. >No wonder she’s ranked so high
  798. >”I’m really super-duper sorry, Anon! I promise to make it up to you for making you spill your lemonade! And knocking you out of your chair!”
  799. “Y-Yeah, thanks.”
  800. >Going over your mental notes as you calm down, you realize that all of these girls are above average or better in the C.P.R.
  801. >But moreso than that, well
  802. >They seem to be really good friends
  803. >It seems like they’ve been through quite a lot together, and if how they were treating you was any indicator, they didn’t have any qualms about petty things like rank or social status
  804. >It was… Nice, for lack of a better word
  805. >And they seemed to enjoy your company at least
  806. >You’ve done quite a bit more than just meeting up to work on reports together
  807. >Who knows, perhaps things might even continue beyond the end of the assignment
  808. >You chuckle inwardly
  809. >Heh
  810. >You, having a whole group of friends
  811. >How long had it been since you’ve had that?
  812. -
  813. >”H-853 really did quite the number on this one, eh Number 9?”
  814. >The rotund, jovial doctor chuckles as he looks over Anon’s friend
  815. “Yes, but can you FIX her, Dr. Stitch?”
  816. >He pushes his circular glasses up his nose and nods
  817. >”But of course! I could hardly call myself a doctor if not! She’s already been stabilized, and she’s in no danger of dying.”
  818. >Your old friend Dr. Stitch was good at his job, and his healing parasite only helped with it
  819. “And you’re still aware of our agreement, correct?”
  820. >”Yes yes, no need to worry Number 9. As per your request she’ll be kept in a medically induced coma until you give us the order. Until then she’ll be treated and kept under watch by my own team.”
  821. >You cross your arms, furrowing your brow
  822. “And you’re confident they can be trusted?”
  823. >”Indeed! They’re our old colleagues, don’t you know? They won’t ask questions, and they won’t say a word.”
  824. “Good… Good. I’ve taken quite a few risks to get Ano- Subject Delta’s participation.”
  825. >Dr. Stitch looks over Wallflower’s unconscious body, making sure that nothing was out of place
  826. >He was nothing if not thorough
  827. >”I remember you being ruthless during your time at CHS, Number 9. I suppose old habits die hard, eh?”
  828. “Please Scalpel Stitch, even I don’t enjoy getting Delta’s friend involved. It was a necessary evil. Doesn’t even have a number, and the poor girl can’t even control her parasite yet.”
  829. >You gently brush some bangs out of her face
  830. >”I believe the kids are calling them “ranks” nowadays.”
  831. >You sigh and shake your head
  832. “I need to get back and let the council know the first part of the operation was successful. I leave things in your capable hands, doctor.”
  833. >”Take care!”
  834. -
  835. >After a semi-productive day at the bowling alley, you find yourself parting ways with Sunset and her group of friends
  836. >You’d gotten a few notes on Sunset’s parasite (not to mention the rest of her friends’) but you’d need to talk with her more in the future to get everything you needed for your report
  837. >Which is why you swapped phone numbers with her
  838. >It was weird having another contact in your phone
  839. >Bringing the total up to 3
  840. >[spoiler]The only other two were mom and Wallflower[/spoiler]
  841. >Not to mention it was another girl
  842. >Man you really do have no friends
  843. >That slightly depressing thought thrown by the wayside, you begin the walk back to your home
  844. >Even though the sun was shining, there was a slight chill on the breeze
  845. >The telltale sign of Fall creeping up just around the corner
  846. >That meant your usual garden club activities would slowly start moving towards preparing it for the Winter
  847. >There were quite a few perennials, so they’d be fine with a bit of pruning
  848. >Not to mention getting the pumpkins ready for October
  849. >And doing some mulching
  850. >But it wasn’t anything you weren’t unfamiliar with
  851. >Besides, it was enjoyable, and you got to spend time with Wallflower
  852. >You wonder what she could be up to around now
  853. >Probably at home by now
  854. >You look at the meager contact list, your thumb hovering over Wallflower’s picture
  855. >Would it be poor form to call her just because you had nothing better to do?
  856. >Come to think of it, you don’t actually know what she does on the weekends other than go to tend to the garden in the mornings
  857. >Your thoughts wander a bit more, and you opt to give her a call
  858. >If nothing else it would kill some time getting you back home
  859. >But strangely enough she doesn’t pick up
  860. >You pull the phone away from your ear and stare at it, confused
  861. >Wallflower always picks up
  862. “Er… Hey Wallflower, I was just calling to see how you were doing. It wasn’t anything important though. Just uh, give me a call back when you can. Bye.”
  863. >Satisfied with your message, you hang up
  864. -
  865. >Afterwards it doesn’t take you too long to get back home, arriving at around 2PM
  866. >Unlocking the door and turning the knob, you take off your shoes and hang your jacket by the door
  867. >Maybe Wallflower was just busy
  868. >You’ve never asked her what other hobbies she has, so she’s probably busy with those
  869. >Yeah
  870. >She’ll call you back later
  871. >You make a beeline for your room and, once there, begin your time-honored tradition of talking to Hans
  872. “Afternoon, buddy. Caught yourself a meal, huh?”
  873. >You’re met with silence, as per usual
  874. >He wasn’t the most talkative of plants
  875. “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to water you this morning, I got an unexpected visit.”
  876. >You take the small pitcher and carefully give Hans some nice, refreshing water
  877. “There, nice and hydrated. What? Nah it wasn’t Wallflower, funnily enough.”
  878. >…
  879. “This girl from school; her name’s Sunset Shimmer. It was her and her friends. We went out bowling.”
  880. >You take a seat on your bed, neatly folding your hands in your lap as you lean forward to speak with your Venus flytrap
  881. >If anyone saw you, you’d have a hard time explaining yourself
  882. >”Yeah I just talk to a plant, man. It’s no biggie. No I’m not crazy.”
  883. “Bowling, I know right? I haven’t been bowling in almost a year but it was still just as fun as I remember.”
  884. >…
  885. “We were meeting up to get some work on our reports done, but it was mostly bowling. I got to know them all a bit better.”
  886. >Getting restless already, you reposition yourself so the you were laying down, looking upside down at Hans
  887. “I wouldn’t say that we’re friends or anything like that, but they’re nice. Really nice. I kind of… Enjoyed hanging out with them. We didn’t make any plans for next week but we exchanged numbers so, there’s that.”
  888. >…
  889. ”Yeah whatever Hans, you’ve got all your friends in the same pot, and they’re attached to you.”
  890. >You look away and wave your hand dismissively in the plant’s direction
  891. >Alright Anon, that’s enough being a sperg for now
  892. -
  893. >You know what you could use right about now?
  894. >A good-ass shower
  895. >You didn’t get a chance to take one this morning when Sunset and Co. came to get you
  896. >It would give you a chance to think on things
  897. >Not like you had much to think on, other than the events of today
  898. >You roll off your bed and walk to the bathroom, closing the door behind you
  899. >It didn’t matter if mom was going to be home on Sunday or not, you weren’t gonna take any chances
  900. >Not after last time
  901. >You turn the knobs on the bathtub and pull the little lever to swap the water over to the showerhead
  902. >While you wait for the water to warm up, you strip down to your briefs and do what any self-respecting, strapping young man does:
  903. >Look at yourself in the mirror
  904. >And naturally, you aren’t surprised by what you see
  905. >Tall? Check
  906. >Pale? Definitely
  907. >Maybe you should stop wearing long sleeves…
  908. >Strong?
  909. >Well, those muscles don’t exactly paint the picture of a lifter, now do they?
  910. >But if you can chop down a tree with a punch, maybe you didn’t need to lift
  911. >Honestly, you were closer to Rainbow Dash’s build if anything
  912. >Just instead of a cute girl, you were a confident, handsome man
  913. >Yeah
  914. >Confident
  915. >Press X to doubt
  916. >As usual you find your eyes drawn to the faintly orange, somewhat veiny lump in the middle of your chest
  917. >It wasn’t explicitly noticeable unless you were searching for it, and you could feel it all the way on your back too
  918. >But it was there
  919. >Where your parasite was located
  920. >Little bastard
  921. >Not that it was uncomfortable, you just weren’t a fan of looking at it
  922. >But it was an unavoidable fact of life now
  923. >Grass grows, sun shines, and parasites give you superpowers
  924. >The condensation fogging up the mirror alerted you to the fact that the shower was definitely warmed up by now
  925. >You’re just getting distracted all over the place today
  926. >You blame those girls
  927. >Messing with the natural order of things
  928. >How dare they extend an olive branch to you!
  929. >You roll your eyes at yourself and step into the shower, ready to scrub yourself clean
  930. -
  931. >”So Sunnybuns, what’d you think of Anon, huh?”
  932. >Pinkie asks, popping up in your peripheral vision as she skips along
  933. >”I mean, I think he’s pretty cool. Definitely not as cool as ME, but I beat Applejack with his advice.”
  934. >RD shoots a cocky grin at AJ
  935. >”Ah told ya’ll this before, we’re TIED now! I won one, an’ you won one!”
  936. >Honestly, you don’t know what to think of Anon
  937. “He’s… Something. He seems friendly but...”
  938. >You frown and rub her chin
  939. “I couldn’t read him.”
  940. >Even Rainbow Dash and Applejack stop their arguing at that
  941. >Everyone looks at you, confused
  942. >”What?! Like he was plugged into controller port 2 the whole time?!”
  943. >”You… You couldn’t? Not even a little bit, Sunset?”
  944. >You shake your head
  945. “I was reaching out, trying to probe his thoughts but it was like hitting a wall. I knew that they were there, but I was stopped every time.”
  946. >What kind of power brick can do that?
  947. >”It’s possible that you may not know the extent of your own parasite yet, Sunset. Perhaps someone with a sufficient amount of willpower COULD theoretically block you out.”
  948. >While that’s possibly true, it doesn’t leave you with a good taste in your mouth
  949. >Something didn’t add up
  950. >But it wasn’t as if Anon was making an effort to keep you out
  951. >You doubt that he even knew it was happening
  952. “Still, I don’t think that’s a reflection of his character! He reminds me a bit of myself when I first came here to CHS.
  953. >Maybe without the whole “intent on enslaving the school” bit
  954. >But you could tell he was lost and alone
  955. >He may have Wallflower, but two introverts in a little bubble like that seems like a recipe for disaster
  956. >Besides, Anon could use a group of friends like yours
  957. >There was no downside to having more friends!
  958. -
  959. >It’s been a few hours since your shower, and you’re currently in your room
  960. >You take a look at your phone, but there are no missed calls
  961. >Wallflower didn’t call you back
  962. >Not like she had an obligation to
  963. >But it was still strange
  964. >You could try again tomorrow during work
  965. >For now you’d just try to focus on getting a good night’s sleep for once
  966. >Even though you knew how much of a futile effort it would be
  967. >Still, it doesn’t hurt to hope, right?
  968. >As you lie down and pull the covers up, you close your eyes, doing your best to let the waking world just melt away
  969. >The silence only allows you to hear the subtle ringing in your ears and amplifies it
  970. >Until it was the only thing you heard
  971. >And like every night, it was strangely soothing
  972. >Like the soft chime of a bell drawn out forever until you finally sank into sleep
  973. >For your nightmare to start again
  974. -
  975. >Like most mornings, you awaken in a cold sweat, leaving a damp spot where you had slept that night
  976. >You groan and pull yourself out of your bed, shutting off your alarm and yawning
  977. >No matter how many times you have that same nightmare, you never get used to the feelings it evokes
  978. >The sheer terror
  979. >The anger
  980. >The helplessness
  981. >Oh well
  982. >Hans needed his morning water, and you needed breakfast
  983. >Your morning routine is always taken care of relatively quickly
  984. >Water Hans, do some stretching, get dressed, make something for breakfast, pack a lunch
  985. >And you’re ready to go
  986. >Of course, you can’t forget your Try N’ Save™ apron
  987. >Nice and blue, and keeps your clothes at least marginally more tidy than if you don’t wear it
  988. >Plus it was like the only piece of clothing that identified you as part of the staff
  989. >You take a glance out the window and sigh
  990. >It was raining
  991. >Just as you’re putting your shoes on and getting ready to leave, you hear a key being inserted into the lock, and the door opens
  992. “Hey mom. Didn’t expect you to be back so early.”
  993. >You must have surprised her, because you can see her jump slightly before she regains her composure
  994. >She walks in and closes the door behind her, heaving a sigh and setting her purse down on the stand next to the doorway
  995. >”Oh, good morning sweetie. Getting ready to head to work I see?”
  996. >You nod
  997. “Yeah. How was yours?”
  998. >She looks at you for just a moment and you see a flash of… Something behind her eyes
  999. >An emotion you couldn’t quite place
  1000. >Mom gives you a tired smile and places her hand on your shoulder, squeezing softly
  1001. >”Rough day at the office, hun. Don’t worry about me, enjoy your day.”
  1002. >As she moves past you into the living room and you open the door to head out, she turns to you again
  1003. >”Anon… You know I love you, right?”
  1004. >What kind of question is that?
  1005. “Of course mom, I love you too.”
  1006. -
  1007. >The rest of your day is preoccupied with thoughts involving Wallflower
  1008. >You can focus on your work well enough not to get called out on it
  1009. >[spoiler]Plus you were only a part-timer anyway so they were more lax with you[/spoiler]
  1010. >But any time your mind wandered, it wandered to her
  1011. >Man you’re hopeless
  1012. >The moment that something might possibly be amiss, you’re a mess
  1013. >Well
  1014. >If “a mess” meant that you couldn’t get your mind off of someone, sure
  1015. >It didn’t help that Wallflower was cute
  1016. >Like damn
  1017. >Those freckles did something to your heart, man
  1018. >Not to mention everything else about her
  1019. >It’s because of this worried attitude of yours that you immediately call Wallflower’s phone right after you get off work
  1020. >The phone rings once
  1021. >Twice
  1022. >Three times
  1023. >You’re just about to hang up when the fourth ring is cut short and you can hear someone on the other end
  1024. “Wallflower?”
  1025. >You answer excitedly, glad to finally hear from her
  1026. >But
  1027. >The voice that comes through the receiver isn’t Wallflower’s
  1028. >”Anon? I-Is this Anon?”
  1029. >You look at your phone
  1030. >You knew that voice
  1031. >It was Passionfruit, Wallflower’s mom
  1032. >You’d been to Wallflower’s house once and met her before
  1033. >”You’re Wallflower’s friend, right? Hello?”
  1034. >You don’t even realize you’ve just been staring at your phone the entire time while you wait outside the employee exit
  1035. “Huh? Yeah! Yeah this is Anon, is Wallflower there? I tried to get ahold of her yesterday an-”
  1036. >”Wallflower is in the hospital.”
  1037. “W-What? The hospital?”
  1038. >Why?
  1039. >”They… They say that she was attacked by a Hunger.”
  1040. -
  1041. >A numbness runs up your spine and radiates across your entire body
  1042. >No
  1043. >That can’t be right
  1044. >How?
  1045. >How could one have ever gotten close to her?
  1046. >”Please, Anon you’re her friend, you have to know something! What happened?!”
  1047. >You start to book it down the sidewalk, cutting through traffic as you run towards the hospital
  1048. “I, I don’t know! I’ll be there as soon as I can, just hold on!”
  1049. >You hang up and hastily jam the phone into your pocket, ignoring someone in a pickup truck slamming on the brakes in an effort to not sideswipe you
  1050. >Not that it would have mattered
  1051. >You would have stood up and kept going anyway
  1052. >The water pooling on the sidewalk splashes underfoot with every stride
  1053. >The cold rain stings as it pelts you, matting your hair to your face as you leap a fence to take a shortcut
  1054. >Rainwater soaks deep into your jeans and socks, chilling your skin and sapping your energy
  1055. >It’s as if the world itself had conspired to turn this day into a somber affair
  1056. >You cut through alleys, through parking lots and backyards, inadvertently picking up burs, mud, leaves and twigs
  1057. >By the time you make it to the hospital you’re a soaking wet mess
  1058. >Panicked, you frantically ask where you can find Wallflower Blush
  1059. >You don’t even wait after they tell you where she is
  1060. >You had to see her NOW
  1061. -
  1062. >It doesn’t take you long to shoulder past patients and doctors alike on your way to Wallflower’s room
  1063. >Your shoes squeak on the tiled floor, leaving behind wet footprints
  1064. >Disgruntled nurses are left in your wake, and you’re just about to yank one aside and ask them to point you in the right direction before you spot Wallflower’s mom standing outside of a room
  1065. >You skid to a halt and almost slip before you catch yourself on one of the hand rails lining the wall
  1066. >You can’t bring yourself to look at Passionfruit now, even as she tries to flag you down before entering Wallflower’s room
  1067. >And then you see her
  1068. >Laying there in a hospital bed as a nurse finishes changing her IV
  1069. >All done up in casts and stitches
  1070. >Slightly bloodied bandages all over, even upon her head
  1071. >The one eye that you could still see was gently shut
  1072. >Your best friend
  1073. >Wallflower Blush
  1074. >In an instant you’re right at the side of her bed, softly grabbing her shoulder
  1075. “Wallflower! Wallflower I’m here! It’s me, Anon!”
  1076. >Your grip tightens, and you immediately wrench your hand away
  1077. >You’ve underestimated your strength before
  1078. “Wallflower come on! W-Wake up...”
  1079. >You shut your eyes tight and grit your teeth
  1080. >This had to be a cruel joke
  1081. >Why?
  1082. >Why would something like this happen to a girl like her?
  1083. >She didn’t deserve this
  1084. >Wallflower didn’t deserve any of this
  1085. >You’re fighting back a painful lump in your throat while you’re gripping the bed’s railing so hard that it starts to dent
  1086. >You feel a warm hand placed atop yours
  1087. >”Anon, please...”
  1088. >You open your eyes and turn around, looking down to meet Passionfruit’s gaze
  1089. >She’s a close second to how you look right now, and she didn’t even run several blocks through the rain
  1090. >You blink away the tears in your eyes and take a deep breath
  1091. >You’re supposed to be the strong one here
  1092. >Aren’t you?
  1093. -
  1094. >You sit by the window, doing your best to dry off with a towel graciously provided to you by the Canterlot General Hospital
  1095. >It doesn’t do much to make you feel better however
  1096. >”So you really don’t know anything, do you...”
  1097. >You shake your head sadly and your gaze is drawn to Wallflower once again
  1098. “No. I wasn’t even hanging out with Wallflower yesterday.”
  1099. >Instead you were busy bowling with Sunset and her friends
  1100. >There was no way you could have known something like this would happen
  1101. >And yet you still feel somehow responsible
  1102. “I’m sorry Passionfruit, I just wish that there was something I could do, or could have done.”
  1103. >But now you’re just sitting here
  1104. >Wet and useless
  1105. >What good are your powers if you can’t even use them to save your friend when she needs it?
  1106. >”Please, Anon don’t blame yourself for this. There was no way you could have known this would happen.”
  1107. >Your sentiments exactly
  1108. >”And I doubt even Wallflower would want you to be practically joined at the hip with her.”
  1109. >She pulls you in for a hug and you reciprocate it with a sigh
  1110. >”But they told me that she may not even wake up! T-They’re having to call in a healing specialist and everything!”
  1111. >That bad?
  1112. >You know that those with parasites that can miraculously heal others are in high demand
  1113. >Most if not all are busy helping the H.E.A.R.T. deal with the Hunger problems in more dangerous parts of the city
  1114. >”Worse yet, I… I may not be able to afford Wallflower’s treatment.”
  1115. >You perk up a bit at that, breaking free from your nervous face-rubbing
  1116. >Maybe this was what you could help with
  1117. “I can do my best to help in that department at least! Yeah… I’ve got some, uh, some money saved up. And I’m sure my boss wouldn’t mind giving me more hours.”
  1118. >Your mind is already racing with possible ways you could help Wallflower get better
  1119. >“Anon, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
  1120. “Well it’s a good thing you don’t have to.”
  1121. -
  1122. >You stay as late as you possibly can
  1123. >In fact the nurses can’t physically remove you from the room, and you end up falling asleep next to Wallflower’s bed
  1124. >When you finally wake up the next morning, you feel stiff, cold, and groggy
  1125. >You’re already late for school by about an hour if the clock is correct
  1126. >You begrudgingly leave Wallflower’s room and slink your way out of the hospital, starting to walk to school in your still-dirty clothes
  1127. >Even if you WANTED to go to school today, you still wouldn’t be able to pay attention in class
  1128. >Mom must be worried sick
  1129. >Probably nothing compared to Wallflower’s mom though
  1130. >And you’re going to have to work your ass off to even put a dent in the exorbitant fucking price of the specialist
  1131. >It just isn’t fair
  1132. >Wallflower doesn’t deserve this!
  1133. >But getting angry isn’t going to help anything
  1134. >You’ll just… Go to school like normal and head straight to your job after to work out a new schedule with your boss
  1135. >Yeah
  1136. >”Like normal”
  1137. -
  1138. >”Ah nearly ran the guy over! He was runnin’ like a chicken on a treadmill with corn at the end!”
  1139. >You sip from a carton of orange juice as you listen to Applejack tell you about how she almost hit Anon yesterday
  1140. >”Oh my… Are you sure that it was him? It WAS raining pretty hard yesterday...”
  1141. >”Fluttershy has a point. In a downpour the likes of which we had yesterday, visibility can go down by almos-”
  1142. >Applejack slams her hands down on the table, making the trays clatter
  1143. >”Ah know what ah saw! ‘cause AH was drivin’!”
  1144. “Nobody is doubting what you saw, Applejack. It’s just odd is all. Why was Anon sprinting in the rain?”
  1145. >”Think it might’ve been some killer inclement weather workout routine?”
  1146. >Rainbow Dash, balancing on two legs of her chair with her feet up on the table, chimes in
  1147. >The group looks at her with varying levels of confusion
  1148. >”What? If Crossfit is a thing, why wouldn’t something like THAT be?”
  1149. >”Ah’m not seein’ it, Dash. Ain’t never seen someone runnin’ with that much purpose more’n a few times before.”
  1150. >”Well why don’t we just ask him!?”
  1151. >Pinkie points at Anon as he enters the cafeteria
  1152. >He looked so haggard, even from here
  1153. >His hair was a mess, his clothes were covered in dirt and mud that was very clearly not from gardening
  1154. >Pinkie summarily jumps onto her seat, pulling a conveniently dangling cord hanging from the ceiling to unfurl a banner with Anon’s face on it, several arrows pointing down, with the text “We saved you a seat!”
  1155. >”Hey! Hey Nonny over here!”
  1156. >...To which he takes one look at and turns away
  1157. >You can almost hear Pinkie deflate as she sits back down
  1158. >Rarity scoffs in surprise
  1159. >”Well, talk about the cold shoulder! And what IS that look he’s going for? Creepy vagrant? Stranded survivor?”
  1160. “That’s certainly an unexpected reaction. What’s wrong with Anon?”
  1161. >”I have no idea! I thought we all had a great time bowling, and he couldn’t have missed my banner!”
  1162. -
  1163. >You’re doing your best not to look at Sunset and her friends
  1164. >Part of you is angry
  1165. >This is why you never opened up to other people
  1166. >This is why you were only friends with Wallflower
  1167. >Other people just complicate things
  1168. >How very edgy of you
  1169. >But
  1170. >You aren’t kidding anyone
  1171. >This isn’t their fault
  1172. >Nor yours
  1173. >It was hopeless to try and blame someone for this
  1174. >But you wanted someone to blame
  1175. >Someone who you could just take out all of your emotions on
  1176. >Maybe you would have to talk to mom about this
  1177. >She’s a good listener…
  1178. >You could always talk to Sunset and her friends but you’ve only known them for all of three days, and only one of them was spent with them
  1179. >And not with Wallflower
  1180. >You bite your tongue, clenching your fist
  1181. >No
  1182. >It’s not their fault
  1183. >The rest of your day passes in a haze of one class to the next
  1184. >You can’t even bring yourself to tend to the garden before you zoom off to go check on Wallflower
  1185. >From there you have to pull yourself away to go the Try N’ Save
  1186. >Thankfully your boss is more than willing to give you more hours after you explain the situation
  1187. >Which begun your agonizing downward spiral
  1188. >Nothing but work until it was well past closing time
  1189. >Followed by you rushing back home to try and get some semblance of rest [spoiler]which could barely even be called that thanks to your nightmare[/spoiler]
  1190. >Before you woke up early for school the next morning to repeat the process
  1191. >School, hospital, work, home, school
  1192. >Interspersed with the most terrifying night of your life on repeat
  1193. >You barely even interact with your mother outside of the occasional greeting or goodbye
  1194. >And it’s not as if you were going to talk with anyone else at school
  1195. >You find yourself trying to get less and less sleep as time goes on
  1196. >But everything is slipping, and your frayed nerves can only take so much
  1197. -
  1198. >You watch your dad’s ribcage get pulled open and the snapping of bones wakes you from the sleep that you’d accidentally fallen into
  1199. >What day is it?
  1200. >The days were just starting to smear together like paint
  1201. >You rub the blurriness from your eyes and glance around
  1202. >Where ARE you?
  1203. >A sterile, clinical smell wafts into your nose and Wallflower’s unconscious body enters your vision as you look down
  1204. >The hospital, right
  1205. >You got here after school ended
  1206. >Or rather you left early to come here
  1207. >It takes a Herculean effort to even look at the clock on the wall, because you just know that you’re late
  1208. >And upon actually looking at it you realize that you’re 2 hours late for work
  1209. >Oh god oh fuck
  1210. >You nearly fall out of your chair as you swing your backpack on and start booking it for the door
  1211. >Only to end up tumbling over several people that were right outside the door and go headfirst into the floor
  1212. >”My word darling, where’s the fire?”
  1213. >Wait
  1214. >Rarity?
  1215. >”Anon are you okay?”
  1216. >Sunset?
  1217. >No, not here!
  1218. >Peeling your face off the tiles and rolling over, you see that the people you’d just ran over (essentially) are none other than Sunset and her friends
  1219. >Rainbow Dash offers you a hand, but you shake your head and spring to your feet before taking off without a word
  1220. >You couldn’t bear facing these girls again
  1221. >Not after how you’d been avoiding them these past weeks
  1222. >You already knew that this was just going to make matters worse, but there’s no way that these girls can help you
  1223. >You don’t have time to make friends when Wallflower needs you
  1224. >”Anon, wait!!”
  1225. >But you’ve already disappeared past the doors into the lobby
  1226. >And out the front doors
  1227. >You’re already tying your apron as you run, and with any luck, your boss will understand
  1228. >You just hope that when all of this is over that Sunset and her friends will understand too
  1229. -
  1230. >”Now what in tarnation was THAT all about?!”
  1231. >Applejack holds her hat while she gestures down the hallway that Anon had just run down
  1232. >”If that’s not avoiding us, then I don’t know what is.”
  1233. “Yeah, but why? Was it something we did?”
  1234. >”If you girls knew what he was going through, you’d know why.”
  1235. >An unfamiliar voice addressing you catches your attention and you turn around to see…
  1236. >A plainly dressed older woman in a raincoat and khakis
  1237. >She was probably in her 30s, and her deep crimson hair was cut short and tomboyish
  1238. >Several freckles ran across her cheeks and nose
  1239. >”Are you also friends with Anon?”
  1240. >She asks, tilting her head slightly to one side
  1241. >Well, it’s not really that far along yet, and-
  1242. >”Of course! But then again most friends don’t usually greet each other by running away at full speed!”
  1243. >Thanks Pinkie
  1244. “Yeah. But how do you know him?”
  1245. >The woman casts a solemn look your way before she enters the hospital room that Anon had come barreling out of
  1246. >”He’’s my daughter’s friend.”
  1247. >She leaves the door open for you to follow her, and when you do, the reason for Anon’s strange behavior becomes apparent
  1248. >There’s a collective gasp from the girls when they see Wallflower in the bed
  1249. “What… Happened?”
  1250. -
  1251. >Wallflower’s mother explains to you what had happened
  1252. >That Wallflower had been attacked by a Hunger and that Anon was working to try and help pay for the treatment she would need
  1253. >”But why not tell US about it? He’s a tough guy but he can’t shoulder all that himself!”
  1254. >”Well, in a way Anon is holding himself responsible for letting this happen. Even after I told him not to...”
  1255. >Twilight, punching away at a calculator with her pen, grimaces
  1256. >”But even taking into account the most generous estimation of Anon’s wages, there’s no possible way he could-”
  1257. >”I know!”
  1258. >Passionfruit cuts her off sharply before she regains her composure
  1259. >”And I think he does too.”
  1260. >”T-Then why work himself to exhaustion?”
  1261. >”Fluttershy dear, isn’t it obvious? It’s some odd form of atonement. Even if perhaps he doesn’t fully realize it, he’s punishing himself for not being there for his friend.”
  1262. >Rarity does her best to fix some of Wallflower’s hair without getting too involved
  1263. >Meanwhile, even Pinkie’s lost a bit of her usual energy
  1264. >”And I guess that being out bowling with us while it happened doesn’t help either...”
  1265. >”Half the time he doesn’t even go back home to sleep, he just falls asleep in here.”
  1266. >This is all painting a rather concerning picture
  1267. >And this has been going on for weeks!
  1268. >”Please, Sunset you’ve got to help him. He just can’t keep this up forever, one of these days he’s going to push himself too hard… And I don’t think that Wallflower would ever want to see him like this either.”
  1269. >You stand up from the seat next to her
  1270. >”He just needs someone to talk to; to let him know that he doesn’t have to go through all this alone.”
  1271. >Passionfruit was right
  1272. >Anon needed your help
  1273. -
  1274. >By the time you get to work, it’s already too late
  1275. >They’d called in someone else to cover your shift, and upon seeing your current state, your boss decided that it was probably best if you took the day off
  1276. >Despite your pleading, somewhere in your mind you knew that he was right
  1277. >You were basically dead on your feet at this point, and someone (or you) could get seriously hurt if you worked in the state you were in
  1278. >[spoiler]Wouldn’t want someone ELSE getting hurt because of you, right?[/spoiler]
  1279. >If the sound of your stomach growling is any indicator, you need something to eat
  1280. >When was the last time you had a meal?
  1281. >Oh
  1282. >Right
  1283. >The day before yesterday
  1284. >At lunch
  1285. >But it just feels wrong doing nothing while Wallflower is in the hospital
  1286. >Hell, even doing something for yourself felt wrong
  1287. >You don’t deserve it, horrible friend that you are
  1288. >You stuff your apron into your bag without bothering to fold it and exit the Try N Save™
  1289. >What sounded good right about now?
  1290. >Something quick, preferably
  1291. >Seeing Sunset earlier had unfortunately reminded you that you never actually did the report that Mr. Doodle assigned
  1292. >And by extension neither had she
  1293. >Fuck, now you’ve got one more thing to add in to your list of screwups
  1294. >And the garden too…
  1295. >Wallflower was going to kill you when she got better
  1296. >
  1297. >If she got better
  1298. >Your stomach growls again and breaks you out of the sadness spiral you were about to get yourself into
  1299. >You know what?
  1300. >Your buddy Deep Fry over at the Red Dragon could hook you up with some Chinese food
  1301. >Extra fortune cookies too
  1302. >Yeah
  1303. >Everyone needs a break, right?
  1304. >Even you
  1305. -
  1306. >It’s a relatively short walk to the Red Dragon
  1307. >Thankfully mom owns a place within walking distance of most things
  1308. >You’ve tried driving before, but you grip the steering wheel way too hard and had to replace it more than a few times
  1309. >The strangest memories always surface in times like this, don’t they?
  1310. >The familiar double chime of a bell on the door chimes when you enter
  1311. >”Anon, my favorite customer! Where have you been the past couple weeks? I’ve been worried about you!”
  1312. >Deep Fry throws his hands up cheerfully as he greets you
  1313. >He wasn’t too much older than you were, but he was still very much in the realm of “young adult”
  1314. >Messy, jade colored hair was pulled back into a ponytail and he was wearing some kind of graphic t-shirt that was half-covered up by the counter
  1315. >When he graduated, he took over his family’s business
  1316. “Hey Fry. I’ve just been uh… Going through some things.”
  1317. >”Yeah? How many things, because you look like shit.”
  1318. >The sounds of an angry Chinese woman echo from the kitchen, to which Deep Fry winces
  1319. >”Yeah yeah I know, mom!”
  1320. >He leans on the counter, looking up at you with a smile
  1321. >”So what’ll it be my man? The usual?”
  1322. >You nod
  1323. “Yep. And with some extra fortune cookies if you can swing it.”
  1324. >”Pffsh, ‘if I can swing it.’ Anon buddy I’m gonna put so many damn cookies in that bag you’re gonna be sick of them.”
  1325. >You let out an amused exhale through your nose before paying up and taking a seat
  1326. >Feels like it’s been forever since you could just slow down
  1327. >But it doesn’t take long for your order to be done and just as soon as you’re starting to relax, you’re already standing up and leaving
  1328. >”Don’t be a stranger, buddy!”
  1329. >Time to head home
  1330. -
  1331. >It’s such a small respite, but you’re actually looking forward to going home and eating your comfort food
  1332. >Then you’d be back at it again with renewed energy
  1333. >You put your key in and turn, opening the door
  1334. >And as you step back inside your house for the first time in days
  1335. >Your foot catches the welcome mat and you trip
  1336. >You close your eyes, letting go of your food to catch yourself instead of slamming facefirst into the floor
  1337. >When you open them, all you’re greeted with is lo mein, fried rice, and crushed fortune cookie bits all over mom’s pristine white carpet
  1338. >And something inside of you finally snaps
  1339. >All of the sadness you’ve been holding back over these past few weeks starts to bubble to the surface
  1340. >Such a tiny thing as this was all it took to send you over the edge
  1341. >You sit there on your hands and knees as the tears start to well up over such a trivial fucking thing as spilled lo mein
  1342. >You’re pathetic
  1343. >A pathetic excuse of a man that couldn’t even keep his only friend safe
  1344. >One that persisted to lie to himself about just how capable he was of saving her after he failed to when she really needed it
  1345. >And even then you became a wreck after only a few weeks
  1346. >It was like you weren’t even trying!
  1347. >All that effort and what do you have to show for it?
  1348. >Spilled lo mein
  1349. >You had done the math yourself, triple-checked it
  1350. >There was no way that you possibly could have even scraped the surface of the price tag on Wallflower’s treatment
  1351. >And yet you insisted on continuing your doomed spiral of working yourself into oblivion
  1352. >Your hands ball into fists and right as you’re about to start sobbing, you feel the familiar embrace of your mother
  1353. >”Anon, honey what’s wrong?”
  1354. “Fucking… Spilled it...”
  1355. >”Is that all, sweetie? It’s not a big deal, really, I can-”
  1356. >You bury your face into her shoulder and finally start to cry all of the tears that you’d been holding back over these past few days
  1357. -
  1358. >By the time you’re done your eyes sting and your throat hurts, but you can finally explain to mom what was really wrong
  1359. “She’s… She’s in the hospital, mom. Wallflower got attacked by a Hunger and… And her mom and I can’t even pay for her to be healed!”
  1360. >You clutch at her back like you did when you were small
  1361. >It has to be hurting her with how hard you’re clenching your fists, but she doesn’t seem to mind
  1362. >Instead she just pets your head in that soft, gentle manner she always did
  1363. >”So that’s why you’ve been working yourself to death, isn’t it.”
  1364. >You nod, further dampening her shoulder
  1365. >She pulls away for just a moment to lift your head up so you could speak eye to eye
  1366. >”Why didn’t you say anything, Anon? You could have talked to me.”
  1367. >She doesn’t even sound angry, just concerned
  1368. “I… I just… It was my fault, mom. I wasn’t there to protect her! So I’m the one that has to fix it.”
  1369. >Your mother simply sighs
  1370. >”Honey, it wasn’t your fault. You aren’t to blame here. But there’s no way you can help anyone if you’re like this.”
  1371. “But mom there’s no way I can help regardless. No matter how much I work it’s just...”
  1372. >You trail off, unable to finish that sentence
  1373. >She gently brushes your bangs out of your face
  1374. >”Anon, you can do anything as long as you set your mind to it, and that includes this. I think that you just didn’t have the right perspective. In fact, I seem to recall that you’ve got a way to help Wallflower that you’ve been ignoring every day, but...”
  1375. >There’s a way?
  1376. >She looks at you with concern
  1377. >”Well I would never even want to suggest putting my son in danger.”
  1378. >You sit up straight, filled with a renewed vigor
  1379. “Please mom, if there’s a way you have to tell me!”
  1380. >She gives you a look that only a mom can give
  1381. >The kind that says “I don’t want to do this, but I still can’t say no to my son”
  1382. >”The top spot of the C.P.R. has an absurdly large pool of money as it’s prize, doesn’t it?”
  1383. >And the realization slams into you like a truck
  1384. -
  1385. >”Anon...”
  1386. >”Anon!”
  1387. >You look up from the distressed pacing you’re doing in your room to see your mother standing in the doorway
  1388. >”You’re going to dig a trench in the floor if you keep pacing like that. I know you’re anxious, sweetie, but it’s not going to do you any good to go to school tomorrow like this.”
  1389. >While she has a point, your heart feels like it’s about to leap out of your chest at any minute
  1390. >This was it!
  1391. >This was the way that you could save Wallflower!
  1392. >”Listen, why don’t you take a shower? Get yourself cleaned up while I cook you up some Chinese myself. It won’t be the same as Red Dragon’s but I feel like motherly love should make it AT LEAST comparable, hm?”
  1393. >That does sound good, especially after the weeks you’ve had
  1394. >But this is the first time you’ve ever even interacted with the C.P.R. in any sort of capacity
  1395. >The first time you’ve cared about it at all, really
  1396. >”Anon?”
  1397. >You must have been deliberating for a bit too long there
  1398. >”Please?”
  1399. >Damn, she pulled out the please on you
  1400. “Alright mom, you win.”
  1401. >You march off to the bathroom and get the water running
  1402. >You really should defer to mom’s judgement more often, because damn have those dark circles around your eyes gotten worse
  1403. >But the best part about a nice hot shower was-
  1404. >Okay that’s a bit too hot
  1405. >You adjust the knobs a bit more to your liking and step inside
  1406. >The best part was that it worked wonders to clear your head
  1407. >Now you would just have to figure out what to do tomorrow…
  1408. -
  1409. >If you remember correctly, you can only challenge the rank directly above or below you
  1410. >Not that anyone ever did the latter, there was nothing to gain from it other than maybe practice against someone you’ve already beaten
  1411. >But if you’re challenged at any point, you HAVE to accept or you forfeit your rank to them by default
  1412. >The only exception to this rule being the 3 day recovery grace period
  1413. >It was supposed to stop others from piling onto the now-injured student above them and prevent them from plummeting down several ranks
  1414. >The Top 10 didn’t get that luxury
  1415. >When you fall from the top it’s a long way down
  1416. >If you weren’t already dead, that is
  1417. >You were gonna have to deal with that eventually
  1418. >You shake your head, doing your best to focus on the now instead of the later
  1419. >All you needed to worry about right now was Rank 99 and how you were going to win
  1420. >Which would be a lot easier to plan if you knew anything about them, because as of right now you don’t even have their name, let alone their power
  1421. >You’re pretty sure that you can check CHS’s website and find out though
  1422. >There’s a constantly updated list of all the ranks there
  1423. >(Not that you would find any of their parasites listed though)
  1424. >But you could look at it tomorrow on your way to school
  1425. >There was no use getting yourself more worked up than you already were
  1426. >It’s not as if knowing any of that information would stop you from doing what you had to do tomorrow
  1427. -
  1428. >”Gilda you know you’re gonna get sick if you stay out here...”
  1429. “Yeah? Then why’re you out here too, scrub?”
  1430. >The freshman sighs and crosses his arms
  1431. >”It’s… It’s Shrub. Shrub Trimmer. And it’s just a drizzle, it’s not that bad.”
  1432. >You shrug, rolling your motorcycle helmet from one hand to the next
  1433. “If it’s not that bad, then why’re you on my case about it?”
  1434. >He stammers a bit, trying to find an answer before you cut him off
  1435. “Look, I’ve been doing this since I was a sophomore, I’m not about to stop just because of a little rain.”
  1436. >He becomes exasperated at this
  1437. >”But WHY? Anon doesn’t even take this route! He cuts through the woods behind the school, so why don’t you just wait for him there?”
  1438. >Don’t hurt the freshman, Gilda
  1439. >He’s just an idiot
  1440. >You look down at him from your seated position on the edge of the CHS statue
  1441. “Look, I don’t like repeating myself, scrub.”
  1442. >”Y-You’ve never even told me WHY you wait out here in the first place!”
  1443. >You blink for a beat
  1444. “Really?”
  1445. >”NO!”
  1446. “Huh, well shit I guess you’re right. My bad, scrub.”
  1447. >You set your helmet down beside you and rest your arm on the knee that you’ve got raised up to your chest
  1448. “It’s ‘cuz that little triple digit twerp USED to come this way. Used to use the front doors like everyone else.”
  1449. >He used to hitch a ride on your motorcycle too, but you didn’t exactly give him any other choice, especially since you kept showing up at his house every morning
  1450. >It was on the way, and it just gave you more ways to torment him
  1451. >Heh
  1452. >Good times
  1453. “We’d enter school together, then we’d leave together. Simple as that. It was a fine routine and we were pretty damn tight if I do say so myself.”
  1454. >”...-f you two were so tight then why are you sitting out here alone...”
  1455. “Hey, scrub. Don’t mutter in my presence, I’ve got ears like a fuckin’ hawk and I heard that.”
  1456. >”S-Sorry Gilda.”
  1457. “Now where was I? Oh yeah.”
  1458. -
  1459. “To answer your question, it’s because Anon’s a prick and he stopped hanging out with me once he got into that rinky dink operation he calls a ‘gardening club’.”
  1460. >You don’t have air quotes big enough to put around those words
  1461. >Just thinking about it makes your blood boil
  1462. “Pretty sure he’s the only member too. Still got no clue why he’d ever just break shit off with me.”
  1463. >”Yeah, I can’t imagine why...”
  1464. “The sarcasm isn’t appreciated either, scrub.”
  1465. >”Sorry...”
  1466. >You cross your arms
  1467. “But I know that triple digit twerp like the back of my hand. And I know that he’ll come crawling back to me eventually.”
  1468. >You check your watch for dramatic effect
  1469. “And I get the feeling that he’ll come crawling back real soon.”
  1470. >You smirk
  1471. >You’ve seen the state of disrepair that little garden is in
  1472. >Anon’s been avoiding it for some reason
  1473. >You’ve got no clue why, but it’s good news for you
  1474. >Maybe today would finally be the day that you got your boyfriend back
  1475. >Technically he never agreed to it, but technically he never DISagreed either
  1476. >All he did when you announced that the two of you were dating was sprint away, but he did a lot of sprinting away when you were involved
  1477. >[spoiler]He never got far[/spoiler]
  1478. “Now get the heck outta here, scrub. You’re gonna be late for class.”
  1479. >”But you’re gonna be late too!”
  1480. “I’m a senior, I’m allowed to be late.”
  1481. >He runs off without another word, leaving you alone in the soft drizzling rain
  1482. >And not a moment too soon, judging by the silhouette you can see through the mist
  1483. >You knew he would come back
  1484. >Oh today was gonna be a GOOD day
  1485. -
  1486. >Today was gonna be a bad day
  1487. >For once you felt like you actually managed to get a modicum of sleep
  1488. >But as you check your phone you finally realize just who occupied the rank right above you
  1489. >”Well well well, if it isn’t the triple digit twerp, come crawling back.”
  1490. >Gilda
  1491. >Why
  1492. >Why couldn’t it have been ANYONE other than Gilda
  1493. >She’s sitting on the CHS statue, grinning down at you as you stuff your phone into your pocket
  1494. >”I was wondering when my boyfriend would get tired of avoiding me. But it’s alright, Big G’s a forgiving sort.”
  1495. >Oh god not the nickname
  1496. “I’m not calling you Big G.”
  1497. >”You just did, dweeb.”
  1498. >Fuck
  1499. “And I was never your boyfriend!”
  1500. >You point at her with conviction
  1501. >To which she merely chuckles and starts to toss her helmet up and catch it in one hand, over and over
  1502. >”The way you held onto me when I gave you a ride to school begs to differ.”
  1503. “Because you always went like 75 over the speed limit!!”
  1504. >Her eyes narrow at you and she cocks her head to the side
  1505. >”Alright TDT. Let’s just assume for right now that you didn’t come back to apologize. Why the fuck are you here then?”
  1506. >Either put up or shut up, Anon
  1507. >You HAVE to do this, even if it is Gilda
  1508. >For Wallflower’s sake
  1509. >But how do you even formally start a ranked fight?
  1510. >Do you just sort of…
  1511. “I’m here to challenge you for Rank 99, and I’m not gonna let you stop me from reaching Rank 1.”
  1512. >A few of the students who were passing by stop to look your way
  1513. >An amused snort escapes Gilda’s nose, and soon turns into full blown laughter at your expense
  1514. >”Oh you’re really serious about this aren’t you, TDT?”
  1515. >She glances around at the slowly forming crowd
  1516. >”Then let’s make this more interesting. If you win, I won’t even try and take 99 back from ya, it’s yours. But if I win, you’re mine again, dweeb; and this time you won’t be getting away from me. You’ll be MY triple digit twerp, forever.”
  1517. >Whatever you have to do to fix Wallflower
  1518. “Fine.”
  1519. >And before the word even fully leaves your lips, Gilda’s thrown her helmet at you
  1520. -
  1521. >You cry out as it slams into your nose with a crunch and immediately you feel warmth trickling down your upper lip
  1522. >You stumble back slightly, doubled over as you hold your bleeding nose
  1523. >Who just throws their helmet?!
  1524. >Glancing upwards, you only see Gilda striding towards you menacingly, cracking her knuckles
  1525. >”What, did you think I was gonna give you a chance to get ready, dweeb? If you wanna go from a TDT to a DDT so bad-”
  1526. >She hooks her arm underneath your neck, putting you into an inverted headlock
  1527. >”Then I’ll give it to ya!”
  1528. >Suddenly you feel gravity taking hold and the ground gets a lot closer unti-
  1529. >CRACK
  1530. >A throbbing pain spreads out from the top of your head as you quickly roll away to escape Gilda’s clutches
  1531. >You don’t even have the peace of mind to be angry about that stupid joke she just made
  1532. >She’s straight up doing wrestling moves on you!
  1533. >As you try to stand, you find that Gilda is actually helping you sit up...
  1534. >And then you feel her knee against your back as she starts pulling your wrists back towards her, crossing your arms over one another as she essentially gets you to choke yourself with the pressure
  1535. >”I bet you thought that you’d just waltz up to me, and have a plan nice and formulated by the time we were done having a little chat. Maybe you would’ve tried to goad out some information on my parasite, huh?”
  1536. >For as much as you don’t like admitting it, Gilda was right
  1537. >Well maybe not about the planning part…
  1538. >”Not that it would have worked anyway. I don’t have a damn clue what mine is, and those bastards calling themselves faculty-”
  1539. >She’s started to put more pressure on your spine with her knee, and it’s starting to feel like your wrists are about to pop out of their sockets
  1540. >You can hear your vertebrae starting to pop too
  1541. >”Won’t even tell me!”
  1542. >As she readjusts her grip on your wrists for more leverage, you finally make your move
  1543. -
  1544. >Your left hand, slick with rain and blood, slides free from her grip and gives you enough leeway to clamp down on hers instead
  1545. >And that moment of surprise is all you need to roll her over your shoulders and slam her back into the concrete
  1546. >You waste no time getting up this time
  1547. >And neither does Gilda
  1548. >By the time she stands you’ve already taken up your stance
  1549. >The one that dad taught you
  1550. >Open-handed and relaxed, legs slightly more than shoulder width apart, knees bent to keep you steady, with your dominant side away from your opponent, dominant hand closest to your body and your offhand slightly outstretched, ready to meet your enemy
  1551. >You take a deep breath to calm yourself down
  1552. >”Finally ready to fight back, eh dweeb? Good. I’m gonna show you and everyone else here that I don’t need some parasite to kick your ass.”
  1553. >You know just how strong you could be and you’re silently thanking dad for this fighting style
  1554. >Despite how much of a bitch she could be, you really don’t want Gilda to wind up like that tree at Camp Everfree
  1555. “I don’t suppose you’re uh, keen on giving up then?”
  1556. >”You’re a real fuckin’ jokester aren’t ya!”
  1557. >Oh fuck she’s already coming for you again
  1558. >Which limb is it
  1559. >What’s she going f-
  1560. >Right hand- no, right elbow
  1561. >Your left hand comes up from below and smacks against the underside of her wrist, diffusing the momentum of the elbow she threw
  1562. >That arm doesn’t get far as you grab her wrist and pull her in, letting go of it right as your right palm slams into her solar plexus with a concussive THWAP
  1563. >...Which sends her flying back into the solid stone cube of the statue
  1564. >Oh shit she isn’t moving
  1565. >She’s just sitting there limply
  1566. “Ah… G-Gilda you okay?”
  1567. >No response
  1568. >You quickly rush over to check if she’s okay, leaning over her and reaching your hand down to check her pulse
  1569. “Shit shit shit-”
  1570. >”How gullible ARE you, dweeb?”
  1571. >She’s grabbed your hand with a vicegrip and you can’t slip away
  1572. >SHIT SHIT SHIT
  1573. -
  1574. >You don’t have a chance to react before she’s used you as leverage to leap onto your shoulders, lock her thighs around your head and spin you around
  1575. >All you see is darkness
  1576. >You know, for being her “boyfriend,” this is the closest you’ve ever been to her crotch
  1577. >[spoiler]She smells nice and you aren’t sure how to feel about this[/spoiler]
  1578. >[spoiler]What is that, cherries and sweat?[/spoiler]
  1579. >All thoughts are forcefully emptied from your head as it’s summarily drilled into the concrete once again
  1580. >On one hand, at least you can see now
  1581. >On the other hand, all you can see now is Gilda violently stepping on your chest
  1582. >You cough as she begins to gloat over you
  1583. >”Gotta admit, TDT you actually knocked me out there for a second. To think you were hidin’ something fierce like that.”
  1584. >She leans her face in close and grins
  1585. >”Ya look like shit so I’ll stop right now and let you surrender,”
  1586. >She licks her lips clean of blood and taps her index finger against them
  1587. >”IF ya gimme a kiss, dweeb.”
  1588. >What kind of deal is that?
  1589. >You have to imagine that she’s making it an even bigger spectacle than it needs to be, mostly because of the crowd
  1590. >You sigh
  1591. >You reach up
  1592. >You gently place your hands on her cheeks
  1593. >You close your eyes
  1594. >You take a deep breath
  1595. >And headbutt her
  1596. >And god do you hope that it hurt her more than it hurt you
  1597. >You stagger to your feet and hold your forehead
  1598. >Why would anybody ever headbutt someone?
  1599. >It hurts!
  1600. >It hurts a lot!
  1601. >It’s like someone took a hammer straight to your forehead and now it won’t stop hurting
  1602. >It’s a dull pain that radiates outward, like an incredibly shitty migraine
  1603. >You open your eyes to find Gilda similarly reeling, but she’s quite a bit more furious than you are
  1604. >You managed to open a gash just above her right eye, and it’s bleeding quite a bit
  1605. >Gilda touches two of her fingers to the cut, looks at the blood coating them, and cleans them off with her mouth
  1606. >”You’re dead meat.”
  1607. -
  1608. >”Holy chocoloney! Just look at that crowd, Sunset!”
  1609. >Just what was going on here?
  1610. >Oh no
  1611. >Did someone, or something, come through the portal?
  1612. >You ask one of the students what’s going on
  1613. >”Two of the lower ranks are fighting, but it’s WAY more of a brawl than I thought it’d be!”
  1614. >Another chimes in
  1615. >”I didn’t think that the Rank 100 had it in him! He’s really giving 99 a run for it...”
  1616. >Rank 100?
  1617. >That’s Anon!
  1618. >The last time you saw him he looked dead on his feet
  1619. >And now he’s fighting someone?
  1620. >You maneuver your way through to the front of the crowd, and sure enough there he is
  1621. >Getting suplexed by a rather tough looking girl
  1622. >You wince
  1623. >You’re pretty sure that a neck isn’t supposed to make a sound like that, but he’s getting up regardless
  1624. >”Anon’s fighting Gilda? Who do you think’s winning?”
  1625. “I… Don’t know.”
  1626. >They both look bloody and tired, but you have no idea how long this fight’s been going on for
  1627. “Frankly, I’m confused. Anon himself said that he wasn’t interested in this competition. What changed?”
  1628. >Pinkie starts to put on several pieces of… Team Anon merchandise? Where did she even get that?
  1629. >”Oh that’s easy. I bet Anon had a huuuge episode with lots of crying when he found out that he couldn’t help Wallflower, and someone told him that if he got to the Rank 1 spot in the C.P.R. that he’d be the one getting all the sweet dosh that he could use for her treatment. Now he’s rip, roaring, and ready to go all fired up and fighting Gilda! But she’s way stronger than Anon thinks she is and that’s catching him off guard. Now call it a hunch, but I’ve seen Gilda, and I’ve seen Gilda fight, but she’s never been THIS into it before! I wonder if something happened between her and Anon! Ooh, do you think that it could have been a relationship gone sour? But not the good kind of sour, like a candy sour, but the bad kind of sour?”
  1630. >That’s…
  1631. >A better explanation than anything you’ve got
  1632. >Somehow you can’t imagine Anon dating Gilda though
  1633. -
  1634. >Why
  1635. >The FUCK
  1636. >Won’t this slippery little bastard
  1637. >Just stay still?!
  1638. >Every time you get close to him you get thrown aside like it’s nothing
  1639. >BUT THIS TIME IT’S LITERAL INSTEAD OF FIGURATIVE
  1640. >[spoiler]And it hurts just as much as getting ignored by him did before[/spoiler]
  1641. >He’s not even throwing out any attacks, he’s just waiting for you to do something so he can counter it
  1642. >All the while just standing there with that infuriating, confused look on his face
  1643. >It’s like he’s mocking you!
  1644. >You’ll just have to make sure that he can’t toss you aside
  1645. >You flex your fingers as you glare at Anon
  1646. >Fingers like talons, make sure to grip and never let go
  1647. >You gotta hit him from different angles at the same time, because you know for sure he doesn’t handle being caught off guard well
  1648. >You move in quick, acting as if you’re throwing a straight
  1649. >And as you predicted, you feel Anon deflect your blow with his forearm
  1650. >Which you dig your fingers into
  1651. >Before he has a chance to even be surprised you grab his other wrist and twist it around, pinning his other arm to his back
  1652. >And just for good measure you drive your foot down on top of his
  1653. “Nice and close, just how you like it, right?”
  1654. >You grin as you pull your head back and slam it into his, right in between his eyebrows
  1655. “THIS-”
  1656. >And again, right against the bridge of his nose
  1657. ”IS A REAL-
  1658. >You can feel him starting to go limp against your body as your third gives him a similar cut  to yours
  1659. “HEADBUTT-”
  1660. >You shift your grip to his shoulders and pull him in as you deliver the final headbutt
  1661. >It’s like the sound of two bowling balls being slammed together
  1662. “ANON!”
  1663. >You let go and Anon nearly crumples, only stopping himself from falling by planting his knee against the ground
  1664. >Panting heavily, you stand above him as he kneels before you
  1665. “Hah… hah, well... ain’t that a sight.”
  1666. >You plant your boot against his face and shift your weight forward like taking one big step forward
  1667. >And the sound of Anon hitting the floor underfoot is music to your ears
  1668. -
  1669. “How’s the underside of my boot taste, dweeb?”
  1670. >You ask, grinning from ear to ear as you grind it against the little twerp’s face
  1671. >Payback is a beautiful thing
  1672. >He tries to say something, but it’s too muffled to hear
  1673. “Oh you can still talk? Let me fix that.”
  1674. >You lift your foot for just a moment before gleefully stomping back down
  1675. >Wait a sec
  1676. >Something’s not right here
  1677. >You’re feeling a distinct lack of face underneath your boot
  1678. >And you’re feeling a distinct lack of balance in your body
  1679. “YOU LITTLE-”
  1680. >Your view spins sideways as that bastard sweeps your legs out from underneath you and he tosses you down
  1681. >You even feel yourself bounce off the ground as the impact knocks the wind out of you
  1682. >This is more than enough pain to send a lesser girl reeling
  1683. >Something is probably broken and you don’t know what
  1684. >Probably a rib or two
  1685. >You seethe in a mixture of pain and anger as you force yourself to your feet, using the statue behind you as leverage
  1686. >The blood oozing from your forehead is starting to get into your eye and it’s getting harder to see
  1687. >You’re kind of backed into a corner here
  1688. >You’re tired and in pain
  1689. >And apparently Anon can see that too because for the first time in this whole fight he’s actually taking the offensive
  1690. >Which is exactly what you want
  1691. >When he throws an uppercut from below you can’t help but smirk
  1692. >And then stop the punch short by thrusting your elbow down into it
  1693. >The satisfying crunch of his fist is enough to keep you distracted from the from the sheer amount of pain that’s shooting through your entire arm now
  1694. >You’d hazard a guess that most of the crunch came from your elbow, but it was enough to stop him
  1695. >You have to admit
  1696. >Anon is a lot stronger than you give him credit for
  1697. >Especially for Rank 100
  1698. >But it doesn’t matter how strong you are if you can’t take a hit
  1699. >With a triumphant yell you take hold of his hair and slam his face into your rising knee
  1700. >This little prick wasn’t going to stay down unless you knocked him out
  1701. -
  1702. >You have to admit
  1703. >Gilda is a lot stronger than you give her credit for
  1704. >Especially for Rank 99
  1705. >You only realize this as her knee is slamming straight into your jaw, making your teeth clack against each other painfully
  1706. >”I gave you, a chance, nerd! So now, now we gotta do things the hard way!”
  1707. >As she goes for another knee you stand and grab the heel of that same foot, pulling it further forward to unbalance her as you stand between her legs
  1708. “We’ve been doing this the hard way!”
  1709. >Your free hand deftly darts right under her jaw and you throw her to the ground
  1710. >She’s a lot slower now, so that helps
  1711. >The impact is louder than when she hit the statue and you’re hoping it’s enough to get her to stay down
  1712. >But you step away from her regardless
  1713. >You weren’t about to fall for another one of her tricks!
  1714. >When you hear Gilda coughing you know that she isn’t down for the count
  1715. >You watch as she slowly sits up and furiously drives her fist into the dirt
  1716. >Perhaps making her even angrier isn’t helping
  1717. >The only way Gilda is going to stop is if you knock her out
  1718. >You feel like how she looks, and this is more exertion than you’ve had in years
  1719. >Both of you are on your last legs here and your heart is pounding, your muscles aching
  1720. >Oh god she’s already coming back for more
  1721. >The least you could ask for was a chance to catch your breath!
  1722. >No such luck
  1723. >In fact the opposite, As Gilda drives her shoulder into your gut with a tackle that threatens to topple you
  1724. >It’s not long before she starts to rain blow after blow into your liver, making you weak at the knees with each one
  1725. >And it’s already taking all you’ve got not to get tackled into the dirt!
  1726. >You swing one leg back and start to fall backwards, forcefully removing Gilda with a circle throw that slams her back into the solid concrete
  1727. >You can hear a strained “Fuck you… Dweeb...”
  1728. >And she falls limp
  1729. >As you lay your head back on the cold, wet ground you really hope that Gilda isn’t faking it again
  1730. -
  1731. >You see a bright pink head of curly hair in your peripheral vision
  1732. >”Holy crackers! Anon are you okay?”
  1733. >You give a tired thumbs up and let your arm flop back to the ground
  1734. >The crowd has already started to disperse, but there are a few cheers from the students that stayed
  1735. >It’s hard to keep your eyes open in the rain, so you opt to shield them instead with your hand
  1736. >You really should go harder from now on
  1737. >But you didn’t expect Gilda to be so tenacious
  1738. >”Well Anon, that was… Something.”
  1739. “Took the words right out of my mouth.”
  1740. >You pause for a beat
  1741. “Can you help me up?”
  1742. >You groan as the two girls bring you to your feet
  1743. >Glancing over your shoulder, you confirm that Gilda is out like a light
  1744. >And you sigh
  1745. >You can’t exactly just leave her out here unconscious in the rain, so you pick her up bridal-style
  1746. >She’d kill you if she could see what you were doing
  1747. >”What are you-”
  1748. “Taking her to the nurse. She’ll just get sick if she’s out here.”
  1749. >You were still sore and bloody, but for the first time ever you could actually say “You should see the other guy”
  1750. >As the two brightly colored girls follow you, you glance over your shoulder at Sunset
  1751. “So you’re probably wondering why I decided to challenge Gilda, right?”
  1752. >You watch Pinkie take a huge breath, but Sunset covers the chatterbox’s mouth before she can start
  1753. >”You’re after the Rank 1 spot so you can pay for Wallflower’s hospital treatment.”
  1754. >You nod as they push the doors open for you
  1755. “Hit the nail on the head.”
  1756. >You get a few weird looks as you walk the halls carrying Gilda in your arms, but you look like hot garbage yourself so there are no hiccups along the way to the nurse’s office
  1757. “Nurse Redheart? Are you in?”
  1758. >”Of course, is there som- Oh my goodness what happened?!”
  1759. >You do your best to gesture with your hands even while you’re holding Gilda
  1760. “It looks worse than it actually is.”
  1761. >Hopefully
  1762. “You can take care of things from here, right?”
  1763. >”I can but that doesn’t really answer my-”
  1764. >But you’ve already left before she can finish
  1765. -
  1766. “Director, you wanted to see me?”
  1767. >You take a seat in the well-furnished office and cross one leg over the other
  1768. >“Indeed. I simply wanted to congratulate you, Number 9. It seems that this plan of yours to force Delta’s participation is working.”
  1769. >You heave a silent sigh of relief
  1770. >It’s either good or bad when the Director calls you in
  1771. >There is no in between
  1772. >”However...”
  1773. >Oh no
  1774. >”Upon reviewing the combat data, it seems that this Delta of yours doesn’t quite match up with the reports you’ve given. Based on your notes, he should have quite easily been able to defeat Subject Beta.”
  1775. ”Beta… Which one was Beta again?”
  1776. >Wasn’t that Anon’s girlfriend?
  1777. >You remember him telling you about her at some point but it must have slipped your mind
  1778. >”Number 5’s little project. Beta has no limits; physical or mental. Her parasite removes them. A theoretically infinite potential that learns and adapts over time. Quite interesting to say the least.”
  1779. “I see...”
  1780. >How would she adapt to Anon? And how could that help him in the future?
  1781. >A possibly worthy sparring partner?
  1782. “If I may explain, Director. This is the first fight that Delta has ever been in. Not to mention that he’s afraid of his own strength. Anonymous certainly isn’t as ruthless as some of the other pet projects that my peers have been cultivating.”
  1783. >Subject Upsilon II certainly comes to mind…
  1784. “But I assure you that he will become more confident in his own abilities, given time. If nothing else, he’s dedicated. And now that he has a strong motivator I doubt that there’s much that could stop him from making it all the way to the top.”
  1785. >The Director gives you one of his rare smiles
  1786. >”Well let’s hope your confidence isn’t misplaced, Number 9. This senior class is the most promising bunch we’ve had in quite a few years, though I suppose we can take some credit for that.”
  1787. >Sneaky meddling from the shadows tends to do that
  1788. >”You’re dismissed. Continue to monitor Delta’s development closely. That is all.”
  1789. -
  1790. >You find yourself striding into the cafeteria with a strange mixture of emotions in your gut
  1791. >1 part relief, 1 part self-doubt, and 1 part nervousness
  1792. >You were able to beat Gilda, but only just
  1793. >The bandages wrapping your left hand were proof of that, and you can’t stop rubbing them
  1794. >Your hand underneath itches something fierce and you’re pretty sure Gilda broke something when she threw her elbow into it
  1795. >But on the bright side this was a step in the right direction
  1796. >Even if it was a painful one
  1797. >But now you had to take another step in the right direction, and it involved those 7 girls having lunch together
  1798. >And while it wouldn’t be as painful as fighting Gilda, it was filling you with the same amount of dread
  1799. >Well, no time like the present
  1800. >You look like an autist fast-walking over to them, but you weren’t about to give yourself enough time to second guess yourself
  1801. >Rainbow Dash waves you over before you have a chance to open your mouth
  1802. >”Yo Anon I saved you a seat! Pop a squat, my dude!”
  1803. >She pats the open seat next to her
  1804. >None of them seem to have any issue with this
  1805. >In fact they look as welcoming as ever
  1806. >Well you could just… Take a seat then
  1807. >RD actually turns to you and grins
  1808. “Uh, hey guys.”
  1809. >Quick, don’t make it awkward!
  1810. “Look I just wanted to say that, I’m sorry for avoiding all of you.”
  1811. >YOU IDIOT
  1812. >”Oh it ain’t no thang, Anon!”
  1813. >Pinkie chimes in happily, much to your surprise
  1814. >”Yeah, Passionfruit told us everything! You don’t need to apologize.”
  1815. >Rainbow slugs you playfully in the arm, which nets her an elbow from Applejack
  1816. “Everything?”
  1817. >”Of course, darling!”
  1818. >”You don’t have to go it alone, Anon. Take it from me: Things are a lot easier when you’ve got friends to help you out.”
  1819. >Sunset gives you a thumbs up
  1820. >It might be a bit early to start calling them “friends”, but you’re glad to have people to talk to
  1821. >You do your best not to think about the fact that you’re going to have to fight them
  1822. >And you get the feeling they’re trying not to think about it too
  1823. -
  1824. “I’M GONNA WRING YOUR NECK!”
  1825. >You sit up with a start and grab at empty air, immediately wincing as a sharp pain lances through your abdomen
  1826. >You clutch at your abs and grit your teeth
  1827. >As you look around, all you see is the concerned stare of Nurse Redheart
  1828. >Glancing down, you find that your stomach’s been bandaged and your right arm is in a sling
  1829. >You’re in the nurse’s office?
  1830. “What the-? How did I get here?”
  1831. >”Anonymous brought you here after your fight. First time I’ve ever seen anyone carry their opponent here. You two really did quite a number on each other, you know. Anon could barely stand without assistance.”
  1832. “I… Lost?”
  1833. >You lost?
  1834. >You stare dejectedly down at the bed
  1835. >That’s weird
  1836. >There’s some tiny wet spots on your jeans
  1837. >And your cheeks feel wet
  1838. >A window must be letting the rain in
  1839. >Yeah
  1840. >You wipe the wetness from your eyes before anyone sees
  1841. >”You can’t win them all. Try not to get so down about it, dear.”
  1842. >Nurse Redheart tries to comfort you, but she doesn’t understand
  1843. >It’s not the fact that you lost
  1844. >It’s the fact that the first time you talk to Anon in years, and all you are is an obstacle to him
  1845. >It hurts to stand, but you do it anyway
  1846. >You had to get out of this cramped office and go literally anywhere else
  1847. >Yeah, maybe you’re kind of a hardass
  1848. >And you aren’t the easiest to get along with
  1849. >And you do sort of bully him
  1850. >But you know for a FACT that you and Anon had good times together!
  1851. >All your pictures proved it!
  1852. >You find yourself standing in the doorway to the cafeteria, staring at Anon from afar while he chats with a bunch of other girls
  1853. >And Rainbow Dash
  1854. >You clench your fist
  1855. >If Anon forgot about all the time you spent together, you’d just have to knock the memories back into that thick skull of his
  1856. >This isn’t the last he’ll see of you
  1857. >If Anon is intent on reaching the top, then you’ll hound him every step of the way
  1858. >And by the time you’re done kicking his ass, he’ll be yours again
  1859. >You can promise that much
  1860. -
  1861. >You are Applejack
  1862. >It’s been two days since Anon took Rank 99 and even though it was a scrap between two literal whos, it still caused a stir among the rest of the students
  1863. >Rank 100 making as bold a claim as getting to Rank 1 will do that
  1864. >And currently you’re having a discussion with your friends about what this is gonna mean for all of you
  1865. >Mostly seeing as how you’re the one that’d have to fight Anon first if he makes it to 51
  1866. “...alls ah’m sayin’ Dash is that we should talk about it NOW rather than later! Ah mean, Anon’s dedicated to this! He’s GONNA get to our little chunk’a ranks eventually.”
  1867. >”Oh puh-lease. So what if he managed to beat Gilda? It’s still gonna take the guy a while before he even reaches us. We can worry about it later!”
  1868. >Almost as if on cue, everyone’s phone buzzes, vibrates, or otherwise alerts them with a notification
  1869. >And upon checking, it appears that Anon has ALREADY climbed up to Rank 95
  1870. >That’s 5 ranks within the span of two days
  1871. >You show your phone to the others to drive your point home
  1872. ”Ya’ll see what ah’m talkin’ about, right? Ah’m not crazy?”
  1873. >Dash’s expression goes from cocky to one of shock and despair as she mutters
  1874. >”He beat my ranks in a day record...”
  1875. >Pinkie takes a break from texting Anon a congratulations and turns to you
  1876. >”I thought we agreed that we weren’t gonna take it easy on Anon! It’s uh… Dis- Disin…”
  1877. >”Disingenuous.”
  1878. >Twilight chimes in
  1879. >”Yeah! It’d be disingenuous to Anon if we just forfeited to him! I think it’s up to us to make sure that he’s in tippity-top shape to take on anyone higher on the totem pole than us, y’know?”
  1880. >”I think Pinkie’s got a point. Anon might be tough, but the Top 10 are on a whole other level.”
  1881. >Fluttershy nods at Sunset’s statement
  1882. >”It’s not like anyone here wants him to… Die… right?”
  1883. “’course not! Ah just didn’t want things to be awkward ‘tween him and us.”
  1884. -
  1885. >You are Anonymous
  1886. >And you are currently exiting Nurse Redheart’s office after having delivered your opponent to her
  1887. >You can’t help but feel that these past few encounters have been quite a step down from facing Gilda
  1888. >The student you JUST faced?
  1889. >Fainted before even getting into the real fight
  1890. >You don’t even know what his parasite was
  1891. >X-Ray vision or something? You can’t remember
  1892. >Regardless, it still ended with you hauling him to the nurse
  1893. >And while you definitely feel like you could claw your way up some more ranks, you remember your mom’s words as she took care of your injuries from fighting Gilda
  1894. >Most importantly, to pace yourself
  1895. >[spoiler]Your nose still hurts from when Gilda broke it[/spoiler]
  1896. >It wasn’t going to do you OR Wallflower any good if you ran yourself ragged again trying to metaphorically sprint through the ranks
  1897. >Take things slow and steady, things were only going to get more difficult
  1898. >But that’s a problem to worry about later
  1899. >You’ve got a problem to solve right now
  1900. >And that problem is getting food into your stomach
  1901. >Unfortunately you’re a bit too late to lunch to actually get anything substantial, so you’ll have to settle for a vending machine sandwich when you get there
  1902. >Which to be fair, were pretty damn tasty
  1903. >However as your mouth starts to water, you become acutely aware of something
  1904. >There’s someone RIGHT behind you
  1905. >And you feel nothing but an immense, destructive pressure upon you just from this presence alone
  1906. >We’re talking activating your fight or flight instinct here
  1907. >”Found you.”
  1908. >Ah shit
  1909. >You take a glance over your shoulder and meet the manic gaze of...
  1910. >A cute girl?
  1911. >One with peppermint green and white hair
  1912. >You’ve seen her somewhere before, you swear
  1913. >She’s grinning from ear to ear as she looks up at you
  1914. >But those fucking eyes man
  1915. >Them’s the crazy eyes
  1916. “Uh, do you need something?”
  1917. >She looks you up and down for a moment
  1918. >”I expected someone more impressive.”
  1919. -
  1920. >You suddenly find yourself being hoisted off your feet and held aloft by only your neck
  1921. >By what looks to be a golden hand made out of hard light or something
  1922. >But that’s not important right now
  1923. >Because you just remembered who’s choking you out right now
  1924. >The girl that’s grinning maniacally before you is none other than Lyra Heartstrings
  1925. >Rank 6
  1926. >”You know when I heard somebody was clawing their way up the ranks real fast, I started to try to envision what they might look like.”
  1927. >Three more hands phase into existence and… Start to grope your body
  1928. >Bad touch
  1929. >”I tried to imagine what someone setting their sights on Rank 1 would look like. Imagine their hair-”
  1930. >One of the hands starts to run its fingers through your hair
  1931. >”Their body-”
  1932. >You feel one slip underneath your shirt while you continue to try and squirm free of the vice grip on your windpipe
  1933. >[spoiler]And another one slips down your pants and past your underwear[/spoiler]
  1934. >BAD TOUCH
  1935. >”Their voice...”
  1936. >You feel two fingers forced into your mouth, trying to grab your tongue
  1937. >”But I certainly didn’t expect youuuu~”
  1938. >She starts to giggle in a manner you can only describe as “unnerving”
  1939. >”And since you don’t seem like much, I’ll just have to test you myself!”
  1940. >Wait what
  1941. >That’s weird, Lyra’s getting farther away
  1942. >That’s weird, it feels like you just got thrown through a window
  1943. >Because you did
  1944. >You just got chucked like a ragdoll through a glass window into the cafeteria
  1945. >And everyone is looking at you
  1946. >You tumble to your feet just in time to see Lyra slam the doors open with her telekinetic hands
  1947. >”Anoooooonnnnnnn~”
  1948. >You get into your fighting stance, wary of what she could do from all the way over there
  1949. >Surely she couldn’t-
  1950. >A vicious uppercut to your stomach removes all delusions of “range” from your head
  1951. >The hand even grabs you on the way up… And starts to crush the life out of you
  1952. -
  1953. >”What?! No, screw off I wanna-”
  1954. >The sound of Lyra arguing with someone momentarily stops you from trying to break free
  1955. >Luckily it also stops her from crushing you anymore
  1956. >”I don’t care if it’s against the rules! Let me fight him, Bon Bon!”
  1957. >From where you’re uh, floating, it doesn’t look like anyone is actually arguing back at her
  1958. >”Hnnng- I’m losing my PATIENCE with you. AND I HATE LOSING.”
  1959. >The hand (luckily) NOT wrapped around you starts balling into a fist
  1960. >”Grrrr… What?!  NO!! No it was MY turn! Stop! STOP IT!!”
  1961. >No that pretty much confirms it
  1962. >Lyra is arguing with herself
  1963. >Or technically not herself considering what happens next
  1964. >You watch as she yells angrily at nothing while her own hands envelop her
  1965. >Next thing you know you’re being dropped to the floor (landing on your feet because you’re one agile motherfucker) and where once stood Lyra, there was a new girl
  1966. >One with two-tone navy blue and pink hair
  1967. >Who looks much, much calmer than Lyra did
  1968. >In fact she even helps you brush some glass off your shoulder
  1969. >”Apologies for my friend. She can get a bit obsessive.”
  1970. >That’s a word for it
  1971. >”Sweetie Drops, Rank 4. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Anon.”
  1972. >She holds out her hand which you tentatively shake
  1973. >”While Lyra may not have any respect for school rules, I do. If you’re as good as you seem, we’ll be seeing each other soon enough.”
  1974. >With that she simply turns and walks away, leaving you standing confused in the middle of the lunchroom
  1975. >”Anooooon!”
  1976. >Oh god please no more-
  1977. >Oh it’s just Pinkie
  1978. >Your muscles relax and you make your way over after grabbing the sandwich you deserve, muttering about “fuckin’ Jekyll and Hyde bullshit”
  1979. -
  1980. >And so you end up slouched over the table while Twilight yanks glass shards out of your shoulders
  1981. >After a while it stops being painful and becomes a nuisance
  1982. >”Gee whiz Anon, you must be some seriously sweet sprinkles if you got Lyra and Bon Bon’s attention already!”
  1983. “I’d like to stop being seriously sweet sprinkles.”
  1984. >Pinkie gigglesnorts, those massive pink locks bobbing as she does
  1985. >”You’re only gonna get sweeter if you keep winniiiiiiing!~”
  1986. >You groan
  1987. >Not because you’re in pain
  1988. >But because she’s right
  1989. >A familiar tomboyish voice pipes up in front of you
  1990. >”You’ve still gotta get through US first y’know. Don’t feel too bad if you need a rematch with me a few times.”
  1991. >Smug as ever, that Dash is
  1992. >Well, at least this alleviates your concerns
  1993. >Somehow you don’t think CHS would just stand by and let 7 students just conveniently forfeit their ranks to you
  1994. “I appreciate it, guys. Really. But I think I should focus on things a bit closer to me. I’ll reach you all eventually and THEN you can kick the shit outta me.”
  1995. >”Yeah well hurry it up! I haven’t been looking forward to a match like this for a while!”
  1996. >You give the rainbow-haired teen a look of exasperation
  1997. “Can’t a guy get a break? I just fought 4 people today and nearly got squished by one of the Top 10.”
  1998. >Or would it technically be 2 of the Top 10…
  1999. “Despite what the dark circles around my eyes may indicate, I still do need to sleep.”
  2000. >Maybe someday restful sleep would come to you
  2001. >But not today
  2002. >For now you can just settle for closing your eyes and letting them rest
  2003. -
  2004. “You’re gonna train me now, got it?!”
  2005. >You find it surprisingly easily to lift the giant slab of muscles known as Bulk Biceps by the collar
  2006. >He nods, your muscles flex beneath your jacket, and you drop him
  2007. >”H-Hey Gilda come on you could have just asked nicely...”
  2008. “Oh stuff it, Shrub.”
  2009. >It was already pissing you off having to ask for help, the least you could do is try and keep up your tough bitch image while doing it.
  2010. >Plus that bastard Anon is ALREADY putting more and more distance between the two of you
  2011. >But it doesn’t matter
  2012. >You’ve got the looks
  2013. >You’ve got the bike
  2014. >And soon enough you’d have the strength to make sure that scrawny little dweeb can never beat you again
  2015. >The first thing you’ll do once you win?
  2016. >Dunno, probably gloat or [spoiler]sit on his face[/spoiler] or something
  2017. >Infinite possibilities once you got your boyfriend back
  2018. “Oi Shrub,”
  2019. >You toss your jacket aside and crack your neck from side to side as you get ready to spar with Bulk
  2020. “Take notes. You won’t be a freshie forever.”
SFW Anon Wallflower Drama Action

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