//and i set fire,,,,
//to the fandom
//watched it burn as i touched my laptop
The sun had finally set above Earth-22. It was at that precise time of day when Beat fully launched into its shenanigans.
The world had already burst with more action, the population increasing by at least 20% with the night-hoppers and late-shift workers for a little extra money to spend here and there.
Nyx, having no familiar Bixbite to cling onto, had latched herself onto Imagine’s leg as they walked down the sidewalk, semi-permanently rumpling the fabric around her calf. Pressing her head against his knee as they approached a crosswalk, she proceeded to declare, “Your leg is awfully bony.”
Imagine groaned with annoyance as he clutched onto Zodiac’s hand, speeding the duo across the street the moment the walking light flicked to “go”. “Yes, well, your never-ending weight that you’re dragging along on my left leg is unbearable.”
Zodiac looked over to the side before softly murmuring, “…savage.”
Imagine chuckled but choked mid-laugh, for a blur of brown feathers tackled him to the other side of the road. “Imagine!! I thought you went up for good!”
Imagine sighed as the hybrid girl climbed off, shaking the feathers out of his hair. “Peacock, you need to take a deep breath. Seriously.”
Peacock dusted off her green t-shirt, showing off her thin arms and multicolored bracelets. With a sigh, she stated: “I just did. I’ve taken several today from my crippling self dou— I mean, I can loudly shout.”
Imagine seemed to have missed the first part of the sentence and proceeded to heave out a sigh as the duo-now-trio walked down the streets.
Peacock tapped Imagine on the shoulder and knitted her eyebrows together. “Where are you taking them? I should at least know where my friend is going.”
Imagine looked over his shoulder with a grin. “The lo-fi club. Nyx has her job, and Zodiac’s mom has a potential investor.”
Peacock squinted at Imagine, jutting her head forward. “Why didn’t you say your mom as well? You and Zodiac are siblings.”
Imagine exhaled, hunching over slightly as he continued to walk. “We’re step-siblings, remember?”
Peacock smacked herself in the forehead, as if to say Stupid me. “Oof, sorry. I forgot.”
“You forget a lot of things, Peacock.” Imagine playfully punched her left arm.
Peacock bit the inside of her cheek and looked off to the side. “…yeah, I know.”
“Don’t I always forget?”
The Rhythm Access arena pulsed and pounded with bright white spotlights, all other lights gone. The main beams were following the agile fighters in the circle, halfway through their chosen classical piece: “The Four Seasons, Violin Concerto No.2 in G Minor, RV 315 ‘Summer’: III. Presto” by Antonio Vivaldi.
The battle already was more intense than the previous, featuring younger fighters: eleven and thirteen were their on-point ages.
The eleven year old leapt around with grace, gently tapping each note as she fired barrages of arrows from her longbow. Unfortunately, for a young age, her precision wasn’t exactly the highest. Her streaked, honey-blonde hair fell loose from its plait as she leaped to five new notes, tapping quickly as she slammed one hand down after one foot, attempting a flip onto the others.
The thirteen year old girl practically flitted across the notes, moving with the speed of a fairy (albeit being a nymph). Her chartreuse eyes were filled with joy as she rapid-fired lavender arrows aimed straight for the younger’s back. Each note only brought her closer, throwing off her precision bit by bit. Rebellious, wet-from-swimming strands of hair flew loose from her ponytail, smacking herself in the face as she continued to shoot.
Each violin’s sharp note ending caused only more tension between the two ranged fighters, their moves graceful but laced with the hope for money. The health for the former was at 23%, the latter being 60%. Their names were printed out in bold letters above each bar: “VIOLET” and “FAIRY”.
The crowds were practically whooping with excitement, cheering on the aggressive duo as they shot at each other, almost as if they were mob members in a territory war with a large group of spectators.
The airhorn sounded and arrows clattered to the ground.
Fairy had won.
Already offering Violet a hand and a gentle, small smile, Fairy pulled her opponent to a standing position and grinned as she shook the younger’s hand. “Good game, Violet.”
Violet nodded and her face flushed up a little. “G-good game, Fairy. I…It was an honor to fight against you.”
It was now Fairy’s turn to have her face heat up. “M…me?” she stuttered, scratching the side of her face. “Well, uh, I’m not the greatest fighter, but…thank you!”
Violet nodded with a determined grin and spun on her heel, collecting her weapon and hightailing for the exit of the arena instantaneously.
With a sigh, Fairy collected her weapon and headed for the exit. Maybe I’ll head to the Lofi club…
Halfway across town, a rusted boombox blared a Vocaloid track as two teenagers trained while an older one refereed. The song, of course, was a high-energy, synth heavy piece: “Childish War” by GigaP and Reol.
The first fighter was a familiar sight: Necro. Her wavy, red hair was tied into a sleek bun and her glasses were pushed up her nose as she lunged forwards, her butterfly swords in hand. Fingerless gloves hid her red knuckles from her tight grip and her standard gray sweatshirt creased silently as she moved.
The second fighter was someone different, for sure. She was short and flicked forwards, her clear cicada wings making small creak-like noises. Her feathered, rust-colored hair flipped around as she moved to the beat. Her neon green tank top showcased thin-but-battle scarred arms, and her black leggings were smattered in what was I presume is mud. Swinging her wooden bō staff forwards, she frowned as she fought and advanced forwards.
“It may be a war, but it’s not a fist fight,” Necro whispered under her breath to the song as she sent a slash towards the other girl. “Hey, Cleaver, how you fairy-ing?”
Cleaver laughed slightly as she swung her bō staff in a wide swing. “Necro, you’ve made that pun at least five times.”
Necro giggled weakly as she dodged, leaning on her toes. “Really? I…” she trailed off, flipping into another swing of the swords, “thought I made it more.”
The referee stood up, his cheetah face contorted into a growl-like face. “Stop the bickering and let’s go to the Lofi club already. You’ve battled to this song on repeat seventeen times. I’ve counted every beat.”
Cleaver slowed down and swung her bō staff over her back. “Night, you’re no fun.”
Night’s eyelids rose a bit. “Right, and going to a museum is no fun.”
“Going to a museum is actually boring. You walked yourself into that one.”
Night sighed, chuckling slightly. “Look, can we go? I want to drown my worries in cheap seltzer water.”
Necro shrugged as she looked away wistfully. “…sure. I was kinda hoping we could keep training.”
Cleaver looked at Necro with a frown. “Hey, you’re staying at my house for now, remember? My parents said that you can stay since your place got burned down.”
Necro clenched her hands into fists, her mouth contorting into a grimace. “…right.”
Cleaver’s expression turned from sympathetic to serious. “Look. You can’t hide out the rest of the world by relentlessly battling. We are going to the lofi club and you are going to relax. It’s safer than training for now.”
Necro nodded and met her gaze with Cleaver’s. “Right. Let’s go, then.”
The hallway leading into the Lofi club was pitch black, Peacock and Imagine feeling for the walls to reach the exit.
Nyx sniffed loudly. “It’s too dark.”
Imagine sighed. “Nyx, you live in the dark.”
“You have a point.” Nyx approached the faint lights with Zodiac and eventually reached the doorway.
The sight before the four was truly amazing. A room, completely dark, lit only by calm, pastel lights, with a wall-to-wall bar featuring soft drinks and warm beverages. The room’s only luminance was provided by the strips of lighting and sporadic, rainbow-toned spotlight placed here and there. Students taking a breath from their hectic lives were enjoying hot chocolates in the corner, sinking deeper into pale-colored bean bags; kids asleep on their parents as the music drifted in and out, the adults chatting with one another; and a teenager polishing the bar inhabited by two teenage girls, recognizable ones at that.
“Oncilla,” Riri requested from the counter, “Lemon sparkling water?”
The girl behind the bar bobbed her head, ebony-brown waves bouncing as she worked quickly. The water from the beverage splattered her black trenchcoat, but she didn’t seem to mind as she pushed up her rectangular reading glasses. “Here you go.”
Riri gave a tired smile as she placed her phone down, turning to look at her. “Thanks,” she breathed as she drummed her fingers to the song: “Lily” by eevee.
Toffee took a long sip from her caramel frappé before asking, “Do you come to this place all the time?”
Riri nodded. “It…helps me calm down. I’m stressed over today, but hey. Maybe Bixbite got drawn out of school early. Maybe it was a relative. Maybe she got sick.”
Toffee jerked her head up and down, frantically agreeing as she fiddled with the glow sticks on her wrists. “She’s absolutely fine. Absolutely fine.”
Oncilla leaned onto the counter. “…you girls okay? Riri, you seemed more stressed than usual.”
Toffee turned to look at Riri. “Than usual?”
Riri winced. “Toff, I’ll explain later. Oncilla, I’m fine. A friend of ours just disappeared today. S’all.”
Oncilla’s eyes widened. “…by any chance, did she disappear with a girl with pink hair?”
Riri’s face went from tired to skeptical. “…yes?”
Oncilla cursed and stood up from her leaning position. “Holy…girls, you have something serious going on.”
Toffee leaned back. “I’m, uh, the same age as you guys, you know.”
Oncilla shook her head. “That doesn’t matter. Look, from this frequent girl…Thunderstorm, I think. She came in and said that there was a girl with pink hair who messed with the tournament. Another person came in that day with ram horns and vented to me about how his coworkers messed up again at Rhythm Access. Specifically, mentioning a girl with pink hair. All I’m saying is, if you can find goat boy, you might be able to get your answers.”
Riri inhaled sharply and set her glass down, standing up and moving towards a sign reading “restroom”.
“I’ll be back,” she called over her shoulder. “I need to freshen up real quick.”
Toffee closed her eyes and rested her head in her hands. “‘Kay.”
Fairy strolled down the street, straight for the Lofi club’s entrance, whistling a soft tune to herself. Today's been good. I made some money, won a fight, and now I get to go to the lofi club. What could be--
She collided headfirst with a short figure.
“Ohmygosh,” she rapid fired instantly, words shooting out, “I’m so sorry!” Extending a hand and bending over, the smaller girl took it.
“…thanks!” she exclaimed, tilting her face up. Oh, the girl is familiar!
“Cleaver!” Fairy exclaimed. “Ohmygosh, I haven’t seen you in…what, a very long time?”
Cleaver grinned, dusting herself off. “I was heading into the Lofi club with Necro and Night…want to come?”
Fairy grinned. “Sure, sounds good.”
The group of four progressed through the hallway to the club, only to be caught by a loud scream.
Toffee was standing in the doorway to the restroom hall, face pale.
“RIRI IS GONE!”