Toffee sat down at the bar and proceeded to slam her head on the table repeatedly. “She’s gone. She’s gone. She’s gone.” Blood trickled down a small part of her forehead, the force of the repeated impact causing a small gash to form.
Oncilla slammed a hand out and caught Toffee’s head, throwing it back up into the air. Her slitted and golden eyes were wide with cold fury. “Get a grip,” she said in a firm but calm voice. “Riri is going to be fine. We’ll find her soon enough. Find the ram boy. He’ll surely have the info for you.”
A girl in the corner looked as if she was listening on to the conversation, desperately attempting to hear over the din of the others in the emptying room. A strand of straight, golden hair fell into her bluebell eyes as she stood up quickly. Small streams of water swirled around her head, as if chatting to one another, content. Smoothing her sweater and whisking over to Toffee, she tapped the distressed cat-human hybrid’s shoulder.
“You,” she whispered coldly, causing Toffee to jerk upwards and snap around. Toffee’s cat ears flew up and her tail stood on edge, clearly shocked. “Look at me.”
“W…what do you want?” Toffee choked out over her tears, flicking her head to make eye contact with the mysterious teenager. “I’m fine.”
The girl shook her head, barking a sharp laugh. “You clearly are fine, and I can fly.”
Toffee blushed a little and looked off, embarrassed. The girl sighed and slammed her hand down on the table. “Look, I know who you’re looking for. I don’t agree with what he’s doing, so I’ll bring you to him.”
Oncilla’s eyes widened and she took a step backwards. “That…was a surprisingly quick solution.”
The girl groaned. “Shut up, will you? I’m here to converse with the cat girl.”
Oncilla raised her eyebrows. “If you’re gonna start a fight, darling, leave the premises.”
A blur of movement was seen and a loud THUD! broke out. The girl had Oncilla’s trench coat collar gripped firmly in her hands, dragging her face-to-face with the werewolf.
“My name is not ‘darling’,” the girl practically hissed in a low voice. “It’s Snowfall. Now, may I escort Toffee out?”
“Wait,” a voice called from across the room. “I’m coming with.”
Sliding from their chair in the corner, Ishmael rose up with a calm expression. His cloth wolf mask was around his mouth and nose, his wolf ears alert and raised.
Snowfall slitted her eyes, scowling. “Why are you coming? I just need the cat girl.”
Ishmael sighed playfully and shrugged. “Well, it would be a purr-fect opportunity to practice fighting, if anything happened to go wrong.”
Toffee was silent for a second. “You legit just said purr-fect.”
“I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry right now.”
Ishmael exhaled again and scratched his scalp, before locking into a cold stare with Snowfall, drawing out throwing stars. “Well, I’m not letting either of you go until you let me come.”
Toffee’s eyes grew wide as she grasped for her crossbow, quickly pointing it at Snowfall. Her hands trembling, she slowly choked out, “You…you won’t hurt either of us when you bring us to the goat boy. Okay?”
Snowfall passive-aggressively exclaimed her anguish but finally agreed with a weak “fine”. Walking the two out, Oncilla stared with a gaze full of pure confusion.
“I’m sorry, did they just threaten to kill her and she was just ‘fine man i won’t kill you’? Why? How? What? No. Wha—?”
Eureka slid up to the bar and slipped over 10 dollars. “I legit have no idea with Ishmael anymore. Although, his whole 'tough guy' face he put up right now was ridiculously cute— I mean," Eureka said, catching herself on her sentence. Her face flushed a crimson as she corrected herself with an unstable "Uh, shoot! I mean, oh, shoot. He's at it again."
Oncilla made a fake frown of disbelief, rising her eyebrows and leaning onto the counter, her lips twisting into a sly grin. "Do you like him?"
Eureka acted as if she was shot in the chest with shock, her face still red. "Wh-what?! No! No...ugh, give me the largest milkshake you can manage. I'm drowning out my self hate in artificial strawberry flavoring today."
Oncilla shrugged, jerking around and slamming ingredients together in a jagged fashion. Whipped cream flew as she shouted an “Okay then!" and tossed sprinkles atop the cold confection, sliding it over.
Eureka let out a painfully long sigh and took a ridiculously long sip before slamming her head down on the counter. "I hate my life."
Nova tapped her foot to the beat outside of the stadium from the current fight. Her kusarigama laid comfortably in her lap, shining a luminescent, opal-like pattern in the white lights. Her knuckles were wrapped in white, fraying tape, winding up her bared arms, her trenchcoat ditched behind her. Next to her sat Summer, looking fairly annoyed with who he happened to be paired up with. His bō staff was carelessly cast upon the floor, the sharpest blade jutting out of the supposedly top part. His eye twitched repeatedly as he tapped his kneecap with an impatient grimace, Nova looking completely carefree next to him.
Moving suddenly, she leapt to her feet and jabbed her kusarigama in his face. "Yo. DDR loser."
Summer leaned back immediately to avoid being stabbed, his grimace turning into a scowl of disgust. “You almost made me go bankrupt. May we please leave that choice topic behind?
Nova sighed. “Fiiine. You're no fun. I was gonna ask you if you're ready.”
“For the team round of Rhythm Flow. No duh.”
Nova wrinkled her nose in disgust, flipping a splattered, pastel lock of hair behind her ear. “Pssh. It's starting soon, you know.”
“Yeah,” Summer said. “...I know.”
“And,” Nova grinned slyly, “You're fighting that MJ girl.”
Summer raised his eyebrows. “So?”
“So what? We all know she has a crush on you.”
Summer’s eyes snapped wide, the shock causing him to practically fall over. “I'm sorry, she WHAT?”
Nova pouted as she sat back down, placing her kusarigama next to her and tossing her hands behind her head. “Sheesh, use proper grammar. It's ‘She has a WHAT’, not ‘She—”
Nova was jerked quickly out of her lackadaisical position and was shoved face-to-face with Summer.
“Listen,” he practically hissed, “I don't know where you got that information from, but that's wrong. MJ never feels emotion, remember? She's a stone-cold killer.”
“Hate to tell you, buddy,” Nova shrugged with a smug exhale, “But your so called ‘information’ is twisted beyond belief.”
The buzzer sounded and Nova vaulted upwards, practically blurring to the door. “IT'S STARTING!”
Summer stumbled to his feet, grabbing his weapon and launching out. “Wait, you little punk, I'm not done with you yet!”
The arena was already bleeding its loud music when the duo entered, their opponents standing confidently atop the stage. Both were familiar on a friendly level, that's for sure.
Thunderstorm shifted her weight back and forth as the screen beneath her feet glistened in the light, tossing her blue-hilted shortsword between her hands. She had abandoned her usual baggy pants and jacket for a pair of black leggings and a navy blue tunic, slits cut in the back to reveal dragon wings in a brilliant dark teal.
Mockingjay stood next to her with a cold face, her katana firmly gripped in her hand. Her standard hoodie had been swapped out for a tank top in the humid arena, her jeans replaced with capri-length leggings. Teeth clenched in a grimace, her knuckles only grew white when she saw Summer.
Mockingjay grimaced as she shouted out an unsure "Ready to lose?"
Summer raised his eyebrows. "No, that's for sure."
Nova grinned and jabbed her fists into her waist, kusarigama jutting out of one hand. "Heck no!"
"Well, looks like we have some determined fighters today!" shouted the announcer with enthusiasm. "For our first team match of the season, we have TS and MJ versus Summer and Nova! Who's ready to see this intense match?!"
The crowd burst into rabid cheers, thirsting for the round to start already.
The announcer chuckled into the mic and shouted, "Well, for this round, we have our song of choice: 'Perfect' Electro Swing Remix by 11 Acorn Lane!"
The quatro on the stage already seemed hyped for the battle, readied into comfortable fighting positions. The big screen had already uploaded their health bars, all reading a lime green "100%".
Stale air blew throughout the streets, whipping golden strands of Snowfall's hair into her face as she dragged Toffee by chains constructed from purely water. Her unamused expression contorted her thin lips into a scowl as her manicured nails dug into her palms.
Ishmael walked leisurely with his hands behind his head, a calm expression upon his face. "So, lovely weather, no?"
Snowfall scowled. "It's dry and the weather is having a seizure. I'm not sure weather is the greatest topic when we're going to see someone who could kill you."
Snowfall's aggravation was evident as she continued to drag a pouting Toffee down the street, Toffee's cat ears pressed flat against her head as she frowned. "...Snowfall, these chains hurt."
Snowfall whipped around with a kind smile, only to respond with a sharp "Sweetheart, I don't care."
Toffee glanced off, looking incredibly sad as she whispered, "...okay."
Snowfall halted abruptly, looking around at a non-descript crossroad, like something you would see out of a movie. Completely empty, with stray pieces of trash drifting in the wind as they pleased.
Out in broad daylight walked Murdoc, wearing a white t-shirt with a black sweatshirt tied around his waist. Ripped jeans creased with every step he took with his ram's feet, quickly approaching a stop to say: "Sis, where've you been?"
Snowfall grimaced, baring her teeth and looking, well, all-around disgusted. "I told you, airhead, not to mention the fact that we are related in broad daylight."
Murdoc shrugged, pulling out a granola bar and shoving a bite in. "Fine. Whatcha need?" he asked through a full mouth.
Snowfall's grimace fell as she snapped the water chains away, Toffee practically screeching in relief. Ishmael looked slightly relieved but kept the calm look.
"Look," Snowfall started. "What happened to the tall vampire girl? The one your crush dealt with?"
Murdoc looked over nonchalantly. "Oh, she was eliminated. And I don't suppose you're interested in where her psycho cyan friend went?"
Toffee stomped forwards, a new look of determination upon her face. "Yeah, actually. My friend just disappeared in a bathroom half an hour ago. No windows, no blood, nothing. How?"
Murdoc shot a glare over. "Well, how much are you willing to pay?"
Toffee's expression changed from firm to startled. "P...pay?!"
Murdoc sat down on the blacktop road, his eyes normally sparkling with mischief now dull and bored. "Yeah, pay. I'm broke and I need money. I accept cash only."
Ishmael only looked away and murmured, "Well, this is cat-astrophic."
Toffee groaned. "Augh, this is NOT what I was looking for!"
Murdoc grinned in a sly manner. "Well, why not hit the HH up for answers if you don't want money? They're indirect, but they're sure to have SOMETHING."
"The HH?" Toffee rose her eyebrows as she sat down as well, cat tail waving with thought. "What's that?"
Snowfall sat down and wrinkled her nose. "It's the Happy Hardcore club. Non-Rhythm Access fighters go there. It's pretty intense, so you have to have an unwavering mind and a locked wallet."
Ishmael rolled his eyes to the side, contemplating for a moment. "The HH, you say? Huh, Eureka mentioned that before..."
Toffee snapped her head in his direction. "Wait, she did?!"
Ishmael bobbed his head quickly. "She probably knows something about it. I can ask her."
A soft buzz was heard from Ishmael's pocket and he quickly whipped out his phone, browsing through the notification.
"Oh, wow," he breathed. "MJ and TS won the dual match—wait, is that MJ and Summer hugging each other?"
Toffee's eyes widened as she lunged over and snagged the phone. Zooming in on the photo, she shoved the small phone into her face (as if she was sniffing it, almost). She then proceeded to squeal at a deathly high frequency.
Snowfall, Murdoc, and Ishmael all clapped their hands over their ears and Ishmael proceeded to scream in pain. "What the heck?!?"
Toffee had sparkles in her eyes as she tossed the phone back and stopped squealing. "It's canon! I have only known these people for 28 hours and I ship them!"
Snowfall sighed as she rested her head in her hands. "Weirdo. Sheesh."
Toffee stuck out her tongue as she leaped to her feet. "Well, I'm going to this HH. Where is it?"
Snowfall yanked out her own phone and dialed up a number, exchanging with the receiver quickly before snapping it off. "Natalie can take you. Meet her outside of the Rhythm Access stadium at midnight."
Toffee frowned with worry as she fiddled with her earbuds cord. "Midnight? That's past curfew..."
Ishmael grinned as he stood up, wolf ears perking up and tail hanging loose. "Guess you're breaking it tonight."