1. Akai: Hardcore Gamer
Two swords met.
She threw her sword forward in an attempt to nab her opponent; her opponent was too quick, and she quickly avoided. Her opponent then attempted to jump on her and whip her across, but she was faster and avoided.
But she made a misstep.
As she turned around to avoid, her opponent prepared the final strike. It had waited, latently powering up - and now it was going to hit -
Aster slumped in her chair in frustration, throwing aside the controller. "That's the fifteenth time..."
"I'm the master at video games. You can't beat me." Akai smirked. "We can keep playing. And I'll keep beating you."
"I'm not sure how much more I can afford to sink in this humiliation..." Aster got up. "I'm going to go get a pear..."
Akai poked the jun-akuma a few times. "Hey, gimme a plate of cookies."
Aster returned holding an Asian pear in one hand and a glass of water in the other. She put the drink down and sat down.
"Wanna do another round?"
"I'm gonna lose kyaa," complained Aster, but they started anyway. Five minutes later, Akai had lost her entire health bar.
"WHAT?" yelled Akai. "Goddammit! That's not supposed to happen! That's not supposed to make sense!"
"Geez, Aster," said Akai, huffing as she pulled in a kicking and screaming Sue. "If it wasn't for me, she'd have escaped."
"It's not my fault she's fast, kyaa!"
"She's not fast. You're slow."
The two dragged the Sue to the basement, slammed her in an empty cell, and went back upstairs. "I think we might be running out of space..." said Akai.
"That happens; we just double them up in cells," replied Aster.
Akai went to the television and pulled out a Wii. "Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Up for a game?"
"Sure kyaa, why not," said Aster, and she picked up the controller.
Twenty-five rounds later, Aster looked like she wanted to throw up.
"...I think we've decided..." said Aster. "You're going to win no matter what..."
"You need to play more video games," said Akai.
They went for another round; Aster (as Kirby) completely destroyed Akai's Meta Knight.
"I - " Akai blinked. "I - "
She threw the remote at the wall.
"Long day," said Aster, eating some cup ramen with Akai. "Didn't think Harriet-san could snap that in half..."
"Must have been painful for him," said Akai. She looked at the television screen and saw a Street Fighter multiplayer ripoff. "Hey...that looks like fun."
Within ten minutes they had set everything up and were ready.
Hm... thought Akai. I can beat her for several games in a row, but there will always be the last game where she beats me. I need to figure out when that point will be so I can maximize my number of wins.
They started the first round, and Akai easily took the lead...
...but then in the last minute, Aster made an amazing comeback and swept the floor with Akai's character.
There was a long pause as Akai looked at the stats for the first round: Aster had won.
She blinked. She stared.
Finally, she took out her tin of crack pills and stuffed five into her mouth.
2. Tom: Question Unawares
"Why on earth do you wear that, kyaa~?"
"Hm?" said Tom, looking at Aster, perplexed.
"Why do you wear that? That trenchcoat and scarf. It doesn't look right together. Is it some kind of archaeologist's uniform?"
"Oh..." Tom laughed. "Do you watch Doctor Who?"
"...No, I don't..."Aster put a finger to her chin. "I know Akai-chan does, but I'm not interested..."
"It's a very interesting show," said Tom, going back to inspecting what he was holding.
There was a very long and awkward silence while Aster continued appraising him. Finally, she spoke up. "So... you cosplay on a daily basis?"
"I wouldn't call it cosplaying, strictly..."
"Whoever you're cosplaying as, well, must be a really stupid character," she said, and walked off.
It took a second for Tom to register what she had said. "H...Hey!"
"You dropped this."
Tom looked back at Aster, obviously still a little miffed at the "stupid character" comment.
"Oh...that's my crowbar."
"Crowbar?" Aster appraised Tom quizically. "Do archaeologists need crowbars?"
"No... Do you even know what archaeologists do?"
"Uh..." Aster frowned. "They... dig."
"Why do you like manga over regular comics, anyway? Are you specifically interested in Japan only, then?"
"No, I read the American Maximum Ride manga, kyaa..."
"So it's the drawing style."
"I guess... yeah..."
"Have you even tried regular comics?"
"They look weird... the plot is repetitive..."
Tom sighed. He wasn't getting anywhere on why some girl would prefer big-eyed oddly tall figures to slightly more built characters. And wasn't Aster being a pot calling the kettle black? What better plot did manga have in general than American comics, anyway?
"Well, moving on. Have you read regular books at all?"
"Sure I have."
"Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight..."
"Mainstream then. What did you think of Twilight? Isn't that getting a manga sometime soon?"
"It was stupid."
"Then how is that any worse than the shoujo manga you read?"
Aster paled and looked around shiftily. "I... I - You ask a lot of questions, kyaa!"
And she ran off. Tom gave a satisfied smirk. He liked asking questions.
"Are you watching that TV show you cosplay for?"
Tom turned from the television to see Aster behind him. "Yeah. Don't you watch live-action shows?"
"Just some dramas, and not too many of them kyaa."
"Well, try watching an episode of Doctor Who. It's the Tenth Doctor on right now; I'm watching one of the best episodes of the series."
"...fine, if you insist."
Aster sat down next to him and watched. She continuously made comments on how the aliens looked fake, how the CGI effects were badly done, how those big cylindrical machine thingies constantly yelling the same thing over and over were lame, and how the romance was spontaneous and stupid. At the end she was yelling that the solution to the problem had been a total deus ex machina.
"How do you even watch this kyaa?" questioned Aster, not very happy at the "trash" she had just watched.
"Do you judge all of your anime like this?"
"No. I mean yes. I mean - argh!"
Tom laughed internally. This was going to be fun.
3. Louise: So I Heard
"Resident Society member." Aster smiled; she'd been delivering this line as a sign of her pride.
"Hm..." Louise looked over Aster, finally saying, "Well, you're not that bad."
Aster immediately caught the tone. "Who's been saying bad things about me?"
"I have... sources..." replied Louise, not quite up to incriminating anyone at the moment. Still, Aster's reputation seemed bigger than her current demeanor.
"I don't see you often," said Louise, "seeing as most of the time you're reading manga."
"Oh, yeah... I guess I haven't gotten to meet you properly yet..."
"Throwing away your social life for manga?" joked Louise.
Suddenly Aster's face got stony serious.
"No! Not at all... not that much! That would make me an otaku..."
"...that's a bad thing?"
"Yes! That's very very bad! They're usually men who can't get girls and live in isolation, unable to blend into society!"
"...Okay..." Louise blinked a few times. Aster's face did not lose its intensity. "If you say so..."
Louise decided what she had heard about Aster was definitely right.
"Yeah..." Aster cocked her head. "You add that to everyone you're familiar with."
"I've heard, but..."
"Would you prefer I don't use it?"
"It's not that I don't like it at - "
"Louise... Louise..." Aster practiced it without the honorific. Her mangled accent made it sound like "ruuisu". Finally she shook her head. "Feels weird."
"You can add '-chan' to my name if you want, though..." said Louise.
"Oh... okay!" Aster brightened. "See, it feels kinda distant, like I don't even know you, if I don't use it... I think it's 'cause I learned a whole social norm and it's hard to change that, you know..."
Louise laughed gently.
"What?" asked Aster.
"You seem to like talking a lot..."
"Oh..." said Aster. "Sorry." (She didn't sound sorry.)
"It's not like I have anything wrong with it..."
"Eh..." said Aster. She fretted a bit, then added, "Want some dorayaki? I made some for Jess-chan, but I have extras."
"Sure, why not..."
And both of them headed to the kitchen.
"I heard you like apples..."
"Oh?" said Aster, a slice of Asian pear on a fork where it was about to be bitten off by her mouth. "Not so much anymore..."
"Right..." Louise nodded. "I also heard you're close to your Author..."
"Where are you getting all this info about me?" Aster narrowed her eyes. It looked like she was about to probe straight into Louise's conscience.
"Just random places. People talk about you."
"And you listen to that gossip?"
"Well, I'm not always believing it, it's just I'm wanting to know if they're true."
"Hmph." Aster folded her arms. "Well, they're being stupid."
"I see..." said Louise.
Tash walked by, amused watching the two have a conversation. "I told you she'd be tsundere..."
She walked off, humming a tune to herself while both of them watched her walk off.
There was an extremely long pause, until Aster registered it.
"Heeeeeeeey..." she said.
4. Alice: Affectionate Pain
"Can I glomp you?"
The words came straight out of Alice's mouth.
"Uh..." Aster blinked a few times and added, "...why?"
"Because you're a fairy!"
"Fae," said Aster.
"Yeah. That. So can I glomp you?"
"It's like a really, really tight hug."
"I know what a glomp is... from Tash-san..."
"You didn't know what a glomp was earlier?"
Aster scratched her head. "Well, we don't do it much..."
"Don't people do that at anime cons?"
"Not in Japan, no..."
Alice looked at Aster, fretting. "Oh. Well, can I glomp you?"
"Uh..." Aster thought about it. She liked hugs, of course. However, she had been on the receiving end on Chrys's hugs several times when Chrys was on sugar and they, while pleasant, had also been rather painful.
"Well, sure," she said, thinking nothing could get worse than Chrys's sugar-induced hugs.
How very, very wrong she was.
Aster was enveloped in a rib-cracking embrace so tight Aster wondered if breathing even would be an option. In fact, she wondered if her bones were already broken and fragmented, poking into her organs.
Alice let go and smiled broadly. "Let's do that again!"
Let's not, thought Aster.
"Can you hug...a little less, kyaa?" Aster probed.
Alice looked at Aster in dismay. "Do you not like me hugging?"
"No, no, kyaa... It's just... I value my ribs."
"It's a sign of affection!"
"...I suppose," said Aster. "Just... a little less, before you kill me, okay? I may be lazy but I do exercise a bit."
"All right," said Alice, a little crestfallen, and immediately added, "How about this?"
And she glomped Aster.
Aster choked and spluttered, and when Alice finally released, Aster breathed deeply a few times. Perhaps there had been a difference, but the glomp had been so breath-robbing that Aster couldn't tell the difference.
Finally Aster added, "You know what... if it makes you feel better, go ahead and do your normal."
"Yay!" said Alice, who responded with yet another glomp, making Aster regret the statement.
"Here's my paperwork, Tash-san..."
"Oh, on time today." Tash took the papers. "You're getting better. Maybe it'll be early next time... No, that'll be on the day Phoenixia becomes a virgin..."
"Yeah, yeah," said Aster, not taking "insults" to her very well. "Well, the next batch'll only be early if you stop shoving the papers into my room - "
"IT'S A TASH!"
There was a blur of color and both girls found themselves pinned to the wall and suffocating.
For the duration of about thirty seconds Aster got the feeling that she would never, ever breathe again.
Alice let go, grinning broadly, and proclaimed, "Two in one! That's a bonus!"
"I don't know about that…" groaned Aster.
She certainly had more to groan about when Alice decided to glomp each of them separately two seconds later.
5. Ingrid: Deadpan Starer
"You know, you're really inactive," said Aster, "almost like Hana."
"…nobody you should know about," said Aster. "In any case. You don't do anything."
Ingrid stared at Aster, looking blankly at her. "…Is there a problem with that?"
"It's really weird. It's like you're completely emotionless, with absolutely no…hey…"
Aster's face suddenly went blank – then it beamed with delight.
Ingrid blinked as Aster ran into her room and emerged with what looked like a cosplay costume – it looked like a school uniform, a short-sleeve blue dress with a tiny red string tied on the top, along with a white shirt underneath.
"…and…what is that?"
"Put it on!" implored Aster. "Now we just need to dye your hair light blue and it'll be perfect!"
"…What's going on?" asked Ingrid.
"…You don't know?" Aster drew back. "How do you not know?"
Her face turned to indignation.
"That's it," she quipped, sliding a DVD into the DVD player.
"You're really creepy, you know," said Aster. "You just sit there and stare into space."
"Argh, you never get it. Anyway, you need to get out more. Or…maybe try insulting someone."
"But why would I do that?"
"Because it makes you more of a person! A normal person!"
Aster folded her arms. "Look. You want to blend in with people, you have to act like a normal person. Even if it seems abrasive – you do it! Because nobody likes an abnormal person!"
There was a long pause as Aster glared at Ingrid, hands on her hips and fire in her eyes.
Ingrid blinked a few times.
"Well…doing what I've been doing for a while hasn't done anything wrong so far…"
"Of course you and your emotionless self say that, but that's because you're looking at the world wrong! You're supposed to feel passionate towards the world! That's how you become normal!"
"…Is that some kind of inspirational speech?"
"Look, just take it from someone who knows. If you look normal, act normal, think normal, you'll be normal! Can I make it any simpler than that?"
"Not really," said Ingrid. There was a long pause. Then she added, "But then… Is there any particular reason why I might want to be normal?"
Aster certainly looked like she was on the verge of strangling Ingrid at this point.
"Are you ever going to do anything productive?"
Aster was giving Ingrid a death glare by this point. "Come on! Have some fun! Do something interesting! Because nobody certainly takes any joy out of anything without doing something interesting!"
"That's… kind of redundant, isn't it?"
"Whatever!" Aster was now blushing and angry at the same time. "Just listen to what I have to say. You won't get anywhere without being a person. So act!"
Aster sighed. Then she randomly attacked Ingrid.
Ingrid quickly reacted, pushing Aster over to the ground and slumping her.
"Sorry," said Ingrid.
"Stupid reflexive reactions." She sighed. "You could have easily done something more epic…"
"That would be kind of impractical, wouldn't it? And boring. I don't really see any point in doing that…"
Aster groaned again. "Just… let it go, okay?"
6. Lily: Caring Means Doting
Aster walked up to Lily (who was reading a book while sitting in a chair) and hugged her from behind.
"I was listening to that Vocaloid Lily and every time I see that name I keep thinking you instead, kyaa… I like you better than Vocaloid Lily."
"I… don't get it," said Lily, quite amused.
"Well, that's okay if you don't get it." Aster held on even tighter. "So cu~ute~!"
"…Why are you doing this?"
"You're so young…And I am older than you, so don't say anything about that."
Aster released a little bit, but refused to release the hug entirely. "Eeeeee, I'm like Konata now…but that doesn't matter. Lily-chan's so cute…"
Finally, Aster released entirely and looked at what Lily was reading. "Game handbook, huh? You know games, right kyaa?"
"Well, you kind of have to know fandoms to be a Sue…"
"So cute when she talks!" Aster hugged Lily again. "This is going to be so much fun…"
"Are you sure you're older?" said Lily, hiding a stealth insult.
"Yes, I'm older! And I said to not say anything about that!"
"So I've decided that I'm going to be your older sister!"
Lily looked at Aster after that statement, having only passed by to get a snack. "…Wha…"
"Adrian-kun gets to adopt me and Tash-san and Michael-kun get to adopt Miri-chan. So I get to adopt you!"
"…Okay then…" said Lily, wondering if Adrian, Tash, or Michael had actually… self-declared their "adoptions". She privately noted Aster probably had little useful information to provide as an older sister…
"So if you have any problems," quipped Aster, "you come right to me! Because then I'll tell you what to do and fix all of the worries you have!"
She put her hands on her hips determinedly.
"…And what if you're busy or on a mission?"
"…Then you go ask Chrys-chan."
Lily sweatdropped and went back to making her sandwich. "And how long are we going to be doing this…?"
"Forever of course!" said Aster, taking time off making her ramen (which was getting soggy) to hug Lily yet again. "My affection has no expiration date! Got that?"
"Yeah, I got it," said Lily.
"So cu~ute, kyaa," quipped Aster again. "What are we going to do with you? Are you sure you're not using cuteness powers on me?"
"I think it's more your own perception," said Lily, "but thank you for the compliment."
"Uh, Aster," said Lily, "don't you have anything better to do?"
"Do I?" said Aster. "Of course I have something better to do, kyaa! I have a lot of things I need to be doing right now! But I'm taking time off to watch you. That's how much I care!"
"I see," said Lily, who preferred to read her book outside the watchful eye of a girl who (very obviously) had nothing better to do. "Well, I'm okay, so you don't have anything to worry about."
"Something could happen!"
"What could happen if I have a book?"
"Anything could happen!" Aster put her hands on her hips. "What if a missile randomly pops out of nowhere while you're busy reading your book? You could be in grave danger!"
"I can take care of myself," quipped Lily.
"So cute when she says that!" Aster put her fingers together. "Kyaaaaaa~…What are we going to do with you, Lily-chan?"
Lily had an idea.
"So, Aster," she said, "I didn't quite get what you were saying last week in anime class about Soul Eater. Can you explain a little more in detail?"
"Oh!" said Aster, beaming. "Well, it's quite simple, really…"
And as Aster continued on her long rant, Lily smirked and went back to her book.
(Note: Author Aster Of The Moon meant to write snippets of Aster's interactions with every Society agent in reverse order, but retired from writing for the ACMSES before it was finished. This is what she managed to complete.)