Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and use the chance
To return to innocence
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and use the chance
To return to innocence
That's not the beginning of the end
That's the return to yourself
The return to innocence
-Enigma, Return To Innocence
That's the return to yourself
The return to innocence
-Enigma, Return To Innocence
Michael's forehead was creased with concern and worry as he strode through the Library's hallways. He had a new-found respect for Tash and all she had to put up with as Head Agent for the Society. Of course, now that she was the Librarian she had even bigger concerns to worry about.
His hand curled into a fist. The only reason they'd won the battle with Death was because of the Morpher Adrian had left behind, but with only a limited number of uses left in the device, he was hesitant to use it again. He needed to find something, not only for himself, but for the entire Society, to prepare them for the upcoming battles. He considered ordering increased mandatory training sessions, but that wouldn't help much. Most of the Society's Agents were pretty well experts at what they did already, and a few more hours of training wouldn't mean much against a Sovereign for those of them who weren't.
Michael sighed. It had been nothing short of a miracle that everyone had escaped the battle not only alive, but without any permanent injuries. He had a sinking feeling though, that the next Sovereign was going to be more dangerous than any of them could realize.
Hey! Hey! You! You! I don't like your girlfriend!
No way! No way! I think you need a new one!
Hey! Hey! You! You! I could be your girlfriend!
Michael's train of thought was cut short by the obnoxious music blaring from behind the door of one of the training rooms. With a growl, he yanked open the door to tell whoever it was to turn down their music, only to find Ben lying on the floor in a pool of sweat.
Michael rolled his eyes as he stalked over to the CD player in a corner of the room and snapped it off with an irritated gesture.
"You know," Michael said as he helped Ben up. "For once, I don't blame Shirley for doing this to you. I mean, Avril Lavigne? Seriously? I though you were supposed to be into Heavy Metal!"
Ben shook his head, panting so hard he was on the verge of hyperventilating. "Not-Shirley." He gasped. "Was-working on-Fast-Step."
Michael scowled. "Your Fast-Step?"
Ben shook his head again, holding up a finger to let Michael know he needed a few minutes to recover himself.
"I was practicing my Fast-Step." Ben said several minutes later after he'd recovered, sitting up against the wall, taking a long drink from his flask.
"I'm trying to increase how long I can keep it going." Ben explained. "At the moment I can only do it for about 30 seconds and if I do," He gestured towards the place on the floor where he'd been lying only seconds before. "You saw what happened."
"So why even bother using it at all if it exhausts you this badly?" Michael asked.
Ben shrugged. "Because while I'm doing it, I'm basically untouchable."
Michael's eyes narrowed. "Really?" He asked slowly. Ben nodded.
Michael raised an eyebrow. This Fast-Step of Ben's could very well be the answer to his problem...
"Tell me, Ben, would it be possible to teach someone how to do the Fast-Step?"
Ben thought for a moment. "I suppose it wouldn't be impossible," He said at last. "But now just anyone could pull it off either. Why?"
Michael's other eyebrow rose up to join the first.
"I have a proposition for you..."
"First off, let me thank all of you for agreeing to this," Ben said, standing before an assembled group of Society Agents.
"Agreeing?" Shirley scoffed. "They were ordered to! Why else do you think they'd agree to attend a class taught by you?"
Many of the Agents did look uncomfortable, if not downright nervous. Christoph in particular was shooting a dirty look at Ben.
Ben glared at Shirley. "Why don't you go help Rhia get the stuff ready, huh?"
Shirley shrugged. "Whatever. Just don't blame me when this blows up in your face."
"Anyway," Ben said, turning back to his students as Shirley walked out. "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, thank for agreeing to this training session."
"You still haven't told us exactly what you're supposed to be teaching us." Chloe folded her arms.
Ben frowned. "Michael didn't tell you? You're hear to learn how to do the Fast-Step?"
"And why would we want to learn how to do that?" Christoph asked challengingly.
"Because, outside of my nukes, the Fast-Step is the most effective move in my repertoire. While dancing, you will be virtually intangible and almost anything thrown at you will miss entirely."
"So then why don't you use it all the time when you're fighting then?" Tyler asked.
"Because the Fast-Step is extremely draining." Ben replied. "Most of you will be lucky if you can keep it going for more than six seconds, and afterwards, you'll be almost completely exhausted. Use it at the wrong time, and you'll be a sitting duck. But if used correctly, it can save your life."
"So how do you intend to teach it to us if it takes all this energy?" Drake asked.
Ben gave an evil grin. "I was hoping you'd ask..."
At that moment Shirley and Rhia came into the room, pushing carts bearing water coolers filled with Firebrand Whiskey.
Ben jerked his head towards the coolers. "Get chugging."
A minute later the room was in chaos. Jared was chasing Tyler around with his Boomhammer, shouting "Whack-A-Mole!" every time he brought the hammer down, each blow barely missing the diminutive Agent.
In one corner of the room Chrys and Aster were jabbering to each other in an extremely rapid fashion, their words growing faster and faster until it reached the point that their mouths were blurs and their speech was far past being able to be understood.
Drake, meanwhile was using his spear as a pogo stick, bouncing around the room, each impact blasting a crater into the floor.
Ben took a sip of the Firebrand Whiskey from one of the coolers and frowned. "You know, I think you might've made it a little weak."
Rhia sweatdropped, looking around the room. "Y-you think?"
Ben nodded. "Oh, yeah. I mean look! Jared hasn't even managed to hit Tyler yet. Oops, never mind." He took a swing from his flask as Tyler went flying past, propelled by Jared's Boomhammer.
Just then the door flew open and a panting Michael demanded "What in the name of Arceus is going on here?"
Ben turned. "Oh, hey, Michael! Come to get in on the lessons?"
At that moment, eyes rolled up in heads all across the room and everyone passed out.
Ben glanced down at the watch on his wrist. "Yep. Way too weak. That only lasted them a minute and forty-five seconds!"
Rhia's sweatdrop grew as Michael closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.
Twenty minutes later, Ben was standing in the medical wing, watching Valerie move among the beds which were filled with his students, all exhausted, pale and gasping for air. Valerie only gave each of them a brief once over before coming over to where Ben and Michael stood.
"They should be fine," She said, her expression somewhere between exasperated patience and amusement. "But they'll need to rest for several hours."
Michael nodded tersely, folding his arms. "OK. Thanks."
Valerie shot Ben a semi-amused look before walking away, shaking her head.
Michael sighed, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Ben..."
"What!" Ben demanded. "You asked me to teach them how to do the Fast-Step!"
"Yeah, teach them to do the Fast-Step, not turn them all into diabetics!"
Ben shrugged. "Hey, it's not my fault if they can't handle their Whiskey!"
"WHAT WAS THAT?"
All color drained from Ben's face. "Oh, snap..."
Dropping his flask, he turned and tore out of the room, Shirley hot on his heels. "Get back here!"
"GUUWAAAAHH! NOT THE SPINE!"
Michael shook his head. "Hey, Valerie! You might want to get Ben's bed ready!"
"Is it a Code 2 or a Code 3 Shirley Attack this time?"
"I think it's a 3!" Michael replied, listening to the crunching sound of bone bending in ways it was never meant to bend and Ben's continually rising shrieks of pain.
He sighed and sank into a nearby chair.
"You look tired." A voice observed.
Michael looked up. "Oh. Hey, Lily. How're you feeling?"
"Better," She admitted. "Valerie gave me a shot and now I'm right back where I used to be."
She looked around at the occupied hospital beds. "Let me guess. Ben's Firebrand Whiskey, right?"
Michael nodded wearily. "How'd you guess?"
Lily chuckled. "Ben let me try some of it once. By the time I came down off my sugar high, I had already set the "How-To" section on fire."
"Oh, yeah." Michael gave a little laugh. "I remember that."
Just then, Shirley stalked back in, carrying Ben's bloody spine in one clawed hand and dragging a moaning Ben, who had been twisted into the shape of a pretzel, in on his back by his shirt.
Lily gasped. "Shirley!" She snapped, snatching Ben's spine away from the Cliche Stick. "What I have I told you about beating up on my boyfriend?"
"Hey, I told you, I've known him longer, so I get first dibs!" Shirley shot back.
"You can have first dibs on an Anguis Beam to the face if you lay a finger on him again!"
Shirley bristled. "I'd like to see you try, Celery Head!"
"Bring it on, you over sized piece of driftwood!"
Both Michael and Ben, who was still twisted up, sweatdropped.
"Are... they always like this?" Michael asked.
"Pretty much." Ben grunted, trying to pull his head out from in between his legs and failing because his arms were in the way. "Say, do you think you could give me a hand getting to a bed here?"
Michael nodded. "Hey, Valerie!"
The healer looked up from giving Tom an insulin injection.
"Could you help here?"
Valerie nodded, and after finishing with Tom's shot, walked over to Ben's convoluted form and grabbed one of his arms while Michael held onto a leg. Between the two of them, and with many winces from Ben, they managed to lug the Agent into a bed.
"Whew. Thanks." Ben winced.
"No problem." Michael panted, looking around the full medical ward. "Just great." He sighed. "Over half out agents out of commission while we have a Level 6 Stu running around the Avalon Code fandom."
Ben, who had been trying to unwrap his torso from around his big toe, froze. "Avalon Code?" He demanded.
Michael nodded. "You know it?"
Ben re-doubled his efforts to extricate himself from himself. "Michael, you've got to get someone in there right now!" He said urgently.
"Yeah, but who? You've basically rendered all of our Agents bedridden! And why are you so freaked out?"
"The Stu is after The Book Of Prophecy!"
Michael's brow furrowed. "The what? Look, just settled down and start from the beginning."
Ben took a shaky breath and nodded.
"Good. Now what's this fandom all about anyway?"
Ben shrugged as best he could with his shoulders pressed against the back of his thighs.
"The game starts off normally enough. Yumil, the main character, is having these prophetic dreams about the end of the world, and when he wakes up, he finds he's been given The Book of Prophecy."
"To keep the world from ending, right?" Michael asked as Valerie went about untangling Ben's various appendages.
"Hardly," Ben smirked. "It's actually Yumil's job to use The Book of Prophecy to record everything of value in the doomed world so it can be re-created in the next."
Michael frowned. "So is that all the Book does? Why are you so worried, then?"
Ben shook his head. "The Book of Prophecy's powers go far beyond xeroxing."
"Oh, yeah? So what else can it do?"
Ben looked Michael straight in the eye. "Anything. Once something or someone has been scanned by the book, they're basically the plaything of the books wielder. They can edit any attribute it or they have, make them stronger or weaker, or change anything about it. You name it, it can pull it off!"
"But surely this thing must have some limits!" Valerie protested, pulling Ben's knee out from his ear canal.
"Of course it does," Ben winced. "Otherwise it'd be broken and the game would be boring. But in the hands of a Gary-Stu, I doubt those restrictions will be in place for long."
"So just how far does the Book's powers go?" Michael asked. "Just how powerful is this thing?
Ben shrugged. "The Book of Prophecy brought two characters back from the brink of death on two separate occasions." Ben said. "From there, it's only a short step to resurrection. And I doubt it'll take that Stu very long to figure that out."
There was silence for a moment as Valerie finished untangling Ben's convoluted form.
"So what do we do?" The healer asked at last.
Michael glanced at the prone forms of the exhausted agents around them. "I give it a couple of hours tops before most of them are back on their feet again. We can assemble a team to go after the Stu then."
"We can't wait that long!" Ben protested. " We need to get an Agent in that fandom, pronto! The longer that Stu has the Book the stronger he's getting!"
"Weren't you listening?" Michael demanded, making a sweeping gesture at the semi-conscious agents around them. "There's nobody left to send who's capable of taking on a Stu of that level! You've incapacitated all of them!"
"But there has to be somebody!" Ben insisted.
"No!" Michael half-shouted. "There's nobody!"
"I could go."
Ben, Valerie and Michael all turned. Lily had finished her argument with Shirley and had come up behind them while they were talking.
Michael shook his head. "Are you kidding? You're a Rookie! I can't send you out alone against an enemy that powerful! He's a Level 6!"
"Which was the same Level that I was before I was Prohibited," Lily pointed out. "Just because I'm a Rookie doesn't mean I'm helpless OR inexperienced. Don't forget, I held my own against Ben and fought him to a standstill three times in a row. Not to mention I defeated Cassandra all on my own during that whole Asasca incident."
"But that was before you were Prohibited." Michael pointed out. "You don't have any of the same powers as you did back then!"
"But I do have these!" Lily countered, holding up her arm so that her flowing sleeves fell back, revealing the Pins attached to her bracelet.
Michael raised an eyebrow. "You'd pit the power of a few pieces of metal against the might of the Book of Prophecy?"
Lily raised her chin defiantly. "I can take care of myself."
Michael thought for a moment before he shook his head again. "No, we can't risk it."
"Oh, for the love of Yggdrasil! You men!" Shirley growled as she stalked over. "Look, I'll go with Lily. Would that soothe your male ego any?"
Michael thought about it for a moment. "Alright." He agreed at last. "But I want both of you to be careful."
Neither Shirley nor Lily heard him though. They were both halfway out the door.
Lily opened her mouth to ask a question as the two hurried towards Charis' lab, but Shirley beat her to it.
"I know what you're going to ask. Why did I offer to help you, right?" The Cliche Stick glanced back at Lily. "Look, I don't want you to start thinking I like you or anything, it's just that we're pressed for time and I'd rather put up with you for half an hour than put up with those two back there bicker for ten minutes and get nowhere. So don't think this makes us friends."
Lily scoffed. "No worries about that."
"Just so long as we're clear." Shirley growled as they arrived at Charis' lab.
Lily ignored her, sticking her head through the door to the lab. "Knock, knock!"
Charis looked up from her workbench. "Hey, Lily! Come by to chat?"
"Not today, Charis," Lily said, walking into the room. "There's a Stu in the Avalon Code fandom and we're a little short on time, not to mention manpower."
"Obviously," Charis remarked dryly, looking at Shirley who was hovering impatiently in the doorway.
"So, your first mission, huh?" Charis asked as she produced a small black box from under her workbench."Nervous?" She asked Lily as she slapped two Copyrights into her hand.
"Not really. But got any tips?" Lily asked as she tucked a Scene Transition within in easy reach.
Charis thought for a moment, then replied "Hit B instead of A."
Lily looked blank.
Charis shook her head. "Ignore me." She said as Lily hefted two Prohibitors.
"Where are the Plothole Generators?" She asked, looking around.
Charis snapped her fingers. "Oh. I almost forgot."
She reached into one of the drawers in her desk and pulled the ray-gun like device out. She frowned as she straightened up.
"Lily," She began slowly, eyes downcast. "I know it may not be my place to ask you this, but...are you sure you're ready for this? I mean, after Amanda and everything?"
Lily was quiet for a moment, looking down at her own hands which were resting on the workbench's top. "I've made a decision." She said quietly at last. "I chose to give up my powers and become human." She looked up, meeting Charis' gaze steadily. "I have to face my past. I'll never be able to respect myself if I just run away or deny my past."
She looked down at the bracelets on her wrist before looking back up at Charis. "Besides," She said. "If I don't, how will I ever be able to fight alongside Ben someday? If I can't stand beside him when the time comes, then I don't want to stand anywhere at all."
Charis nodded in approval. "That's good." She said, handing Lily her Plothole Generator. "Good luck."
Lily nodded. "Thanks." She said, firing the Generator. "You coming?" She asked Shirley, and leapt through, Cliche Stick in tow.
When they emerged from the Plothole, the Rookie Agent and Cliche Stick found themselves in the town square of the town of Rhoan. All around them, townsfolk were arguing, gossiping and going about their daily lives.
"So," Lily asked, looking around. "How do we find this guy?"
Her communicator beeped and Charis came on screen. "According to the computer, his name is Matthew Slaymaker and he's currently at Gustav's training hall."
"Which way is that?" Lily asked.
"This way," Shirley gestured. "I've seen Ben play this game a few times before."
They struck out from the center of town in a southeastern direction, heading in the direction Shirley had indicated.
"What can you tell us about him?" Lily asked Charis.
After several quick keystrokes, Charis said "Not much. He's a Level 5, as you know, and apparently he's chosen to master the Sword and Flying Dagger skills of this fandom."
"Any idea how long he's been in the area?" Lily asked. Charis shook her head. "Nope, sorry."
Lily sighed. "OK. Thanks anyway."
Charis nodded. "I'll keep an eye on the situation from here. Good luck!"
By now the unassuming, square, colorless stone training hall had come into view and the sound of steel ringing on steel filled their ears.
Shirley flexed her claws. "Let's do this." Lily nodded.
The clanging sounds of combat grew louder as Lily pushed open the door to the training hall.
Two swordsmen were locked in a grim duel. Yumil, the game's main character was armed with two swords and pressing a vicious attack on the teen across from him. The teen was dressed in a sleeveless blue tunic, the better to display his muscular tanned arms with. He fended off Yumil's vicious twin assault casually armed with only a single blade. There was also a large book tucked under his other arm. The cover of the book resembled a half-finished red jigsaw puzzle with two large yellow eyes peering from holes on the front and back cover.
Shirley nudged Lily. "There's The Book of Prophecy." She said, pointing to the book.
As the two watched, Yumil gave a final desperate attack and with a flick of his sword, Abel knocked both blades from his hands.
Yumil fell to his knees, gasping for breath, sweat pouring off his forehead. "I thought I had you that time, Matt." He panted.
Matthew laughed, giving his sword a casual twirl before sheathing it in a scabbard at his side. "Almost, Yumil." He said, as he helped the canon character to his feet. Then he noticed the two females standing in the doorway.
He raised an eyebrow. "Can I help you?"
Lily took a deep breath. Here we go... "Lily Adamson, Anti-Cliche and Mary-Sue Elimination Society." She introduced herself. "We're here to place you under arrest."
Matthew rolled his eyes and gave an exasperated sigh. "Are you kidding me? I was just getting settled in here."
Lily shrugged. "Too bad." She said. "Now come with us."
"Or else." Shirley put in.
Matthew blinked, somehow only managing to just now notice Shirley. "And... who are you?"
"Shirley the Cliche Stick." She folded her knobbly arms. "Now are you coming or do I have to introduce my incisors to your small intestine?"
Matthew's brow furrowed for a moment. "Cliche Stick? Aren't you muse to that one idiot Ben?" He looked back at Lily and snapped his fingers. "Wait a second! You're Bella Aubrey, aren't you?"
Lily gritted her teeth. "My name is-" Matthew ignored her.
"You really have gone over to the other side, haven't you? Oh, man! I heard the rumors, but I never thought someone would actually be stupid enough to do it!"
"Matthew, do you know her?" Yumil, who had been forgotten, spoke up.
Matthew smiled slightly. "Her name's Bella." He said. "She once had the power to create miracles and help others, like me. But she turned traitor to her own kind and now she hunts us down."
Yumil turned questioning eyes on Lily. "Why would you do that if you were helping people?" He asked.
Lily took a deep breath. "Because," She said slowly, meeting Matthew's gaze unflinchingly. "Sometimes people need to help themselves."
Yumil frowned, still confused, but Lily ignored him.
She raised her chin defiantly. "My name is Lily." She said. "And you are under arrest. Come quietly with us, or face the consequences." She raised one hand menacingly, letting her sleeve fall back to reveal the Pins attached to her bracelet.
Matthew sighed, re-drawing his sword. "Looks like we're going to have to do this the hard way."
Faster than the eye could move he produced a dagger out of nowhere and flicked it at Lily, lightning-fast.
Lily didn't even blink. "Ice Blow!" She shouted, stomping her foot, and a seven-foot shard of ice shot up from the ground, intercepting the dagger which embedded itself into the ice. Matthew whirled at a puff of air behind him and raised his sword just in time to block a blolt of lightning from Excalibur.
Yumil had no idea what was going on, but he jumped into the fray anyway. Grabbing one of his swords from where it had fallen, he charged at Shirley, thinking she couldn't possibly be as powerful as the stranger grappling with Matthew. He was wrong.
Shirley grabbed Yumil's sword in mid-swing, and with Yumil still attached, gave it one hard swing over her head and let go. Yumil was sent flying and crashed into the back wall of the training hall, he slumped to the floor, dazed.
"Give it up for your own sake, kid," Shirley said, turning back to where Lily's and Matthew's battle was raging. "Without the Book of Prophecy, you don't stand a chance."
Matthew was in the middle of a headlong charge when Lily tore apart the floor under his feet with Live Slow, Die Fast, causing him to stumble. He threw himself to the side as he hit the ground, just in time to avoid impalement by another Ice Blow. He rolled to his feet, produced several daggers from nowhere and hurled them at Lily. She quickly activated Top Gear again and disappeared from the path of the projectiles, reappearing several feet to the side. She raised her other hand to retaliate, but her knees suddenly gave out from under her and the wind escaped from her lungs in a rush.
She quickly tried to stand but her legs refused to cooperate and she slumped back to the ground. Her heart leapt into her mouth. Ben had warned her about this. Over-use of Top Gear would lead to dizzy spells, but in the heat of battle she'd forgotten all about it. She tried to get up again, she had to get back on her feet before-
"Well, now... what's this?"
Matthew walked towards her slowly, twirling his sword. "Run out of steam, have we?" He snickered. "Something like that would never have happened had you kept your powers. Oh, well. I suppose that's what you get for betraying your own kind."
He raised his blade. "Give my regards to that Librarian friend of yours."
Lily's body wouldn't respond. In desperation, she tried to activate her Top Gear Pin one last time, but it refused to work.
Matthew brought the sword down with all his strength, intending to separate Lily's head from her body when Shirley pounced onto his back, digging her claws in as deep as they would go. Matthew roared in pain and backpedaled, trying to crush the Cliche Stick against the back wall of the training hall, but Shirley held on, tearing into Matthew's back with everything she had.
With a bestial cry, Matthew reached over his back and drug Shirley off of his back, her claws leaving deep gashes in his back. He hurled her across the room, where she landed on...what ever it is she lands on other than feet and slid over to Lily who was shakily getting to her feet.
The back of Matthew's tunic was in tatters and blood flowed freely from the multiple lacerations inflicted by Shirley. "You... worthless... scum!" He panted. "I'm going to crush you!"
He yanked the Book of Prophecy out from under his arm and began to flip through it like a madman.
"What's he doing?" Lily asked, still slightly unsteady on her feet.
"I don't know, but we can't let him finish!"
The two ran towards the Stu, but just as they reached him he shouted "Gotcha!" and slammed a palm down onto the page. They were enveloped in a globe of golden energy. There was a flash of light and when the light died down, they found themselves in a dark, stone chamber.
Lily turned around slowly. "Where are we now?"
"The resting place of Kullervo."
Both Lily and Shirley turned to see Matthew standing several feet away, sword in one hand, the Book of Prophecy in the other.
"Who?" Lily asked.
"The game's overall villain." Matthew explained. "He was defeated long before the game began, but his body was preserved here."
Lily looked around. "So where is it?"
Michael gave a dark grin. "I was hoping you'd ask."
He turned and jumped, and Lily realized with a jolt that they were standing on a platform several hundred feet above the ground.
She raced to the edge just in time to see Matthew land with a crash onto the chest of a demonic giant lying at the bottom of the tower. He slammed the book, open faced onto the giant's chest then began to scribble in it madly.
"What's he doing?" Lily asked as Shirley rushed to the edge and looked over.
"Oh, crap, he's resurrecting Kullervo!"
"What? Can't we stop him?"
At that moment, there was a massive groaning and the giant stirred. Slowly, inexorably, it got to it's feet, standing taller and taller until it's chest was level with the platform upon which Lily and Shirley stood.
"No. You can't" Matthew said smugly, standing on Kullervo's shoulder.
"Tch!" Lily raised a hand to retaliate, but the giant was faster. Kullervo brought a fist up, and brought it down with all his mammoth strength. Lily and Shirley leapt to the side and were cast into the void as Kullervo's fist crushed the platform they were standing on like a graham cracker.
The world was spinning and Lily could hardly think straight as she plummeted downwards. The wind was roaring in her ears and she could hear Shirley's shouting something and Matthew's cackles of triumph. She gritted her teeth and forced all of her will into one of the Pins on her wrist. She opened eyes she hadn't even realized she'd closed. The ground was getting closer and the Pin was only faintly glowing.
"Oh, come ON!" She shouted, devoting all her focus into the small circle of metal and with a flash, the Wild Line blade flared into life. 100 feet from the ground, Lily stabbed the energy blade into the tower wall. The jolt nearly caused her to lose her grip on the sword's blade but she held on with all her strength, her descent slowing drastically until her feet touched the ground and the sword vanished.
She let out a breath of relief which turned to a startled scream as Kullervo's foot blasted a crater in the tower floor next to her.
"Dang, missed." Matthew grumbled. "Oh, well, just hold still. I'll get you eventually."
Shirley had chosen to employ Lily's method of landing and had used her claws to gouge a trail down the tower wall. Landing silently next to Kullervo, she gave Lily a meaningful look.
Lily nodded back, then turned to Matthew. "Hey, Stu! Eat this! Live Slow, Die Fast! " She shouted, launching a piece of platform rubble at his head with her telekinetic Pin.
Meanwhile, Shirley snuck up behind Kullervo, and began to climb up the back of the giant unnoticed, while Lily distracted Matthew.
Matthew ducked. "Still got some fight left in you yet, eh? We'll just have to stamp that out of you!"
"Oh, he is so dead now." Shirley muttered to herself as she continued her ascent.
Meanwhile, Lily continued her diversion. "Excalibur!" She exclaimed, thrusting a palm towards Matthew. He ducked again, and the lightning bolt whizzed past.
"You're really starting to tick me off!" He shouted. "Get her!" Kullervo raised his foot again and brought it down.
Two things happened at once.
Shirley, having finally climbed far enough up Kullervo's back undetected, pounced.
As Kullervo brought his foot down, Lily triggered her Ice Blow Pin and a seven foot icicle penetrated straight through the giant's foot.
Shirley managed to grab onto what was left of the back of Matthew's tunic, but quickly lost her grip as Kullervo toppled over backwards, taking both Matthew and Shirley with him.
Kullervo crashed to the ground, shaking the tower violently, forcing Lily to struggle to keep her balance.
"Shirley! Are you alright?" Lily shouted, running over to the fallen giant once the tremors had subsided.
"I'm fine." Shirley said, picking herself up off the ground where she had fallen. "It's gonna take a lot more than that to take me out."
"Good." Lily looked around. "Where's Matthew? Wasn't he on-"
Shirley gave Kullervo's prone form a meaningful look.
"Oh." Lily took a deep breath. "I guess we won't be seeing him again anytime soon."
"Sooner than you think." Charis said over the communicator, causing Lily to jump.
"Geez, you scared me!" She said, pulling the communicator out.
"Sorry," Charis laughed. "I've been monitoring the whole thing from here."
"What were you saying about us seeing him again?" Shirley asked, folding her arms.
"Oh, yeah. The computers indicate a Plothole opening in the Avalon Code fandom just a few seconds ago!"
Shirley and Lily shared a look as Charis continued. "My guess is, Matthew opened it and fell through it just before being crushed by Kullervo."
Lily sighed in defeat, slumping to the ground. "Even after everything we did, he still got away?" She asked dejectedly.
"Sorry, Lily," Charis said sympathetically. "C'mon back and we'll get him next time."
Lily sighed as she fired her Plothole Generator. Her first mission had been a complete failure.
Michael leaned back in his chair in his office, Lily and a now-recovered Ben standing in front of him.
"So, the Stu got away with the Book of Prophecy, huh?"
Lily nodded dejectedly.
Michael sighed. "Well, that's going to be a problem, especially if he keeps getting stronger like Ben suggests."
He glanced at the guitarist. "How long do you give him before he's mastered everything it has to offer?"
Ben shrugged. "Teleportation? Resurrection? He very nearly has already."
Michael nodded grimly. "With the Book gone, we've had to freeze the fandom until further notice."
Lily hung her head. "I'm sorry..."
Ben looked surprised. "What for?" He asked. "You stopped the Stu!"
"But he got away!"
Michael laughed. "Lily, hardly anybody catches their target the first time around. Plus, now Matthew is on the run, so it's going to take him longer to master the Book. You did a fine job and you should be proud of yourself. At any rate," He said, standing. "You have completed your field test, so it's my pleasure to officially welcome you as an Agent of the Anti-Cliche and Mary Sue Elimination Society."
"Congratulations, Lily!" Ben exclaimed, hugging her.
"Thanks, Ben," Lily said, hugging him back. "But I have a favor to ask," She turned to Michael. "If Matthew shows up again, I want first crack at him."
Michael nodded. "You got it."
She turned to Shirley next. "Thanks, Shirley. I couldn't have done it without you. I know we disagree sometimes, but...thanks. Seriously."
Shirley scoffed and turned around, folding her arms. "Whatever."
"Awww...Shirley's a big softy." Michael snickered.
"Actually," Said Ben. "She's a sharpie, and I don't mean the marker."
"ALRIGHT! THAT'S IT!"
"SHIRLEY! WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT-"
"GRAB HER ARM!"
"THE TEETH! OH, GOD, THE TEETH!"