Tales of the Society - The Azure Age
Chapter 3.3: Make Damn Sure
Last time on Tales of the Society...
The Society pairs had each found what they were looking for, and now sought to return home. However, Steve and Irene had lost track of the way they came in - not helped by their battle with a colossal laser-spitting sand worm; Emily and Max have a literal army of Nazis blocking their escape, Eli and Becky have to find an escape route while evading a pissed-off dragon, and Brian and Tim are dealing with what is, in essence, a Zombie Toon Apocalypse.
The group’s final objective is to escape and meet back up at home, but then that begs the question: How did the Azure Initiative know to begin their offensive against the reformed Society?
During his stay in the world of Magicmaker, Steve had learned several things; magic was extremely effective, treasures were both plentiful and incredibly weird, and laser-spewing sand worms became even more trigger-happy when poisoned. The last point was the dragon’s main concern as he and Irene bobbed and weaved through the veritable storm of energy being launched at them from their adversary’s jaws.
“Okay, what in the Nine happened? Poison didn’t make it act like this in the game!” Irene said, having switched out her rocket launchers for flamethrowers.
“I dunno,” Steve replied, trying to weave through the lasers to get back in whipping range. “Maybe my Toxic Chains don’t fall into the “standard” Poison category here - maybe it’s more like a Berserk effect!”
“Fan-fucking-tastic,” Irene groaned. “If there’s one thing we didn’t need, it was an even angrier worm.” She glanced between the monster and her partner while dodging another burst of laser fire. “We’re gonna need to change tactics,” she said.
“Well, no time like the present to work on those teamwork skills,” Steve quipped. “Whatcha got in mind, Irene?”
Irene smiled darkly as she dispelled one flamethrower. “Just get ready to fly in on my signal,” she replied. “I’ll do the rest.”
Steve raised an eyebrow, but backed away from the worm, evading its laser fire. I hope this works, he thought. There’s no way we can get close now - either it’ll bring us into firing range, or we’ll have to eat flailing worm-ass to land a hit!
Meanwhile, Irene was circling around the worm, launching shots from her flamethrower to block its lasers. “Steve, now!” she cried.
Steve eyed the worm’s thrashing tail nervously. “Uhh, are you sure about thi-”
“JUST DO IT, DAMMIT!”
Normally, Steve would’ve protested, but something in Irene’s tone made him think twice and dive towards the worm’s backside. Just before he could get in striking range, his vision was filled with eyes, and he suddenly found himself landing on the back on the monster’s head.
“Whooaaaaaa!” he yelped, dropping his scimitar as he hung on for dear life. “What the hell just happened?!”
“I portaled you...onto its...head,” Irene explained as best as she could while dodging the renewed barrage of lasers. “Now shut up and get your chains around its mouth!”
Steve blinked as he finally realized Irene’s plan. “Got it!” he yelled, summoning his Explosive Chains and lashing them at the worm’s gaping jaws. It wasn’t easy, especially with the beast thrashing around and trying to shake him off, but he finally hooked the chains on the spikes lining the worm’s chin.
“So, you like beam spam, huh?” A feral grin crossed Steve’s face as he looped the ends of his chains around his wrists. “Well, chew on this!” He yanked with all his might, forcing the worm’s mouth shut even as it charged its next beam attack - despite the exertion, he still found time to glance up at Irene. “You might wanna take cover, Irene - we’re gonna end this with a bang!”
At that moment, the beam exploded in the creature’s mouth, forcing it into a stunned state. Steve followed up by detonating his exploding chains, the force of which broke the worm’s mandibles into pieces, leaving a ragged hole. Irene promptly fired a rocket right into the open hole where its mouth was - the resulting explosion destroyed the rest of the head in a shower of sand and gore.
“...Well, Steve? Think we’re ready to go yet?” Irene asked sarcastically, glancing at the pillar of light signalling the open portal.
“Yeah, I think we’re good to go. That Mini Sun’s probably gonna blow their minds like you just blew up this thing.” With a chuckle, Steve dove into the portal first, Irene right on his heels. They emerged on the Surface, in what seemed to be an abandoned school. Irene’s eyes widened as she instantly recognized the academy, but she stayed quiet about it.
“So, Steve… Any idea which way home is?” she asks confused, taking to the air to search for the mountain in the wilderness. How do you even lose a mountain?! she wondered.
Steve shrugged as he joined Irene in the air. “Not a clue...ah well, better get flyin’ before we worry the others,” he responded.
With a sigh, the pair began flying to the north, looking for anything familiar. After several minutes without success, they groaned in exasperation, pretty damn lost.
“Why does everything look the fucking same out here!?” The enraged dragon hacked into a tree with his machete, trying to calm down. “Question...Irene, can’t you just use a portal to get us back home?”
“That only works if I know exactly where home is, genius...” She sighs, frustrated as well...only for Steve’s question to give her an idea. “Maybe I can’t portal us home...but I can use these portals to stare pretty far off. Maybe I can see some mountains like this...”
Irene started to focus herself as a portal appeared before her. High overhead, its other end opening repeatedly a mile away from her in many directions; each portal appearing for about five seconds. One of them opened within sight of a familiar black-furred figure; he only needed a second to memorize the portal - and with it, the people he saw on the other side.
“Anything, Irene?” Steve just watched the portals with equal parts interest and expectation, waiting for some results. Finally, Irene descended, nodding.
“Took a minute, but I spotted the mountain out to the northwest. I think that’s it. Let’s go.” Irene widened the portal in front of her, allowing her and Steve to pass through. As it closed behind them, they were blissfully unaware of the peril Irene had unknowingly awakened...
Quantum’s stride was uncharacteristically quick as he returned to the Azure Initiative’s base. He immediately headed for Weiss’s office, only to run into Saturn on the way.
“Whoa there!” she cried, her voice barely audible over the buzzing of her surprised wasps. “You’re walking like you’ve got a bug in your hard drive - what’s the hurry, Quantum?”
“I require an audience with Lord Weiss,” Quantum responded, his voice no less calm for his exertions. “Do you know where I might find him?”
“Well, I saw him outside with Amethyst.” Saturn answered. “I wouldn’t bother him if I were you. You know how Weiss gets when you interrupt his personal time with the missus…” She sighed to herself, looking somewhere between envy and wistful longing. “...Amy is so lucky… Oh, how I wish to just be like her...wrapping the man I love in my arms, feeling his nice...strong...cool...and muscular-”
“Ms. Saturn, I do not wish to interrupt your fantasies of holding Tsuneo.” Quantum interrupted drily. “But this is of the utmost urgency - I have acquired disturbing new data.”
Saturn quirked a wasp-formed eyebrow at that, but shrugged as Quantum strode past her. I sure hope this isn’t another of Sylvie’s “recruitment posters”, she thought. Last thing the boss needs is another nausea- induced concussion…
Meanwhile, Weiss was outside, sitting with Amethyst as they stared off in the moonlit sky, having a couple of drinks as they talked. “Just think about it, babe; we’ll have that fucker Tsuneo groveling at our feet when everything is set into place.” Weiss gloated, pouring Amethyst a glass of white wine. “And then we’ll make the Azure Initiative ten times bigger than what the Crimson Cunts ever were - hell, we’ll be bigger than N.E.D.’s so-called “empire”! And every last loser on the Nexus will finally know their place - at our feet!” He took a swig of whiskey from his own glass as he spoke.
Amethyst giggled as she sipped her wine. “Oooh Weiss. I’m just as excited as you are,” she purred. “Finally, we can live in a world without rules to bring us down. We can do whatever we want without anyone telling us what to do. Won’t be long now before Tsuneo is captured. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he sees what’s happened in his absence...”
“Hahaha yeah!” Weiss cheered. “Okay...so...I had this idea for how to utterly ruin him; we kill him...and then we have sex right on top of his corpse! How’s that for a gruesome end for him?”
“Mmmm… Naaah.” Amethyst shook her head. “Let’s just cut out the middleman and hand him over to Saturn. Whatever she does to him is fair game~ By the end of it, I’ll bet the so-called NeverDead will wish he could die!”
Once again, Weiss found himself taken aback by his girlfriend’s sadism. “...Wow… Babe, I fucking love you right now…” he said. “It’ll probably get Purgatory’s chastity belt in a knot, though.”
“Like I care.” Amethyst scoffed. “Never really liked that girl - if she was any more of a prick, I could use her to pop a balloon.”
Weiss cocked his head in interest. “Yeah, what’s with that bad blood between you two?” he asked.
“It’s a long story, but see it all started with-”
Unfortunately, Amethyst’s reminiscing was cut short when Quantum entered the scene.
“My Lord. Please forgive me for interrupting your evening with Ms. Hart.”
“...One second babe.” Weiss said quietly, standing up and approaching Quantum. “Boy...you better have a damn good reason to be interrupting my time with-
“The Crimson Society is not dead.” Quantum interrupted. “They appear to be rebuilding their strength in-”
Weiss silenced the Zoroark with a raised hand as he digested this information. After a moment, he lowered his shades to look Quantum in the eye...and burst out laughing.
“...........Hahaha...hahahaha...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Weiss laughed for several seconds before regaining enough composure to form coherent sentences. “W-Wow. Really? Is that your idea of a joke? Hahaha...wooow, Quantum. Ok, I’ll admit; that was a pretty convincing one, but-
“I am not joking, Lord Weiss.” Quantum’s eyes flashed as cyber energy built up in his mechanical claw. “I have visual proof that Steve, at least, survived.” He raised his claw, displaying a holographic image taken from his memory banks; the image of Irene and Steve through the portal. “A lack of radiation signals on my internal geiger counter indicates that he isn’t irradiated from the Cobalt Bomb - based on that, it is prudent to assume that he and his fellow Councilmen survived our assault on their HQ.”
And it was at that moment where Weiss’s world completely went crashing down. He was so stunned that his sunglasses fell off his face, revealing his blazing blue eyes.
Quantum stared impassively as Weiss’s fury built up. “...Miss Hart...you may wanna come inside…Now.” He beckoned Amethyst towards the door of the base as the skies blackened overhead.
“Well, so much for our peaceful night…” Amethyst sighed ruefully as she followed Quantum indoors. Storm clouds formed overhead, the rumble of thunder matching the aura of lightning gathering around Weiss. His hands clenched into fists as sparks of electricity crackled around his fingers. Finally, the dam broke, and Weiss let out a literally-thunderous roar that shook the world and the heavens.
“...FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!” This was punctuated by a wave of lightning erupting from Weiss’s body, shorting out power for a good mile or two. Luckily for the Initiative, their base was insulated specifically to protect its systems from such an outburst.
“Holy latex-clad hell,” Amethyst breathed.
“W...what...the hell was...that?” 1:30 said quietly.
“Weiss’s rage...that’s what it was…” Purgatory replied.
“WHOOOOOOOO!!! THAT IS SO METAAAAAAALLL!!!” Marcell yelled, throwing up the horns for emphasis as he burst out of his room.
“What in the name of Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark got Weiss so furious?!” Sylvie asked, walking out of her room wearing her My Little Pony pajamas.
“...He appears to be taking it...better than I anticipated.” Quantum’s usual monotone made it impossible to tell if he was kidding or not as the rest of the Initiative gathered around the door.
“Taking what better than you anticipated?” Purgatory asked, turning her head towards the Robo-Zoroark.
“My friends...we have a problem.” Quantum paused for a moment before dropping the bombshell. “The Councilmen….are still alive.”
“WHAT?!” Sylvie shouted. “B-B-B-BUT THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!”
“THE IMPOSSIBLE JUST BEEN MADE POSSIBLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEE! YEEAAAHH!!” Marcell said, sliding down the railing of the stairs. He prepared to follow up with a dramatic strum of his guitar, only to falter at the hostile looks sent his way from his allies. “....SOOORRRYYYY! TOO SOON?”
“Yes, it's too soon, you idiot!” Amethyst shouted. “Ugh! I can’t believe this! How the fuck did they survive the Cobalt Bomb explosion?! The plans said it should have left the entirety of Iridu City dead! How’d they survive at a fucking cliff!?”
“Ugh...I guess that dumbass brother of mine had a point…” Everyone turned and stepped back a few feet as Weiss stalked back into the base. His fists were still sparking with residual electricity, and his chest was heaving from the remnants of his violent outburst, but he wore a rueful, mirthless smile on his face as he replaced his shades on his nose. “Those Crimson Council-midgesuckers do have more than their fair share of luck after all.”
Sensing that the brunt of Weiss’s fury was spent, Quantum stepped forward to drop the other shoe. “I apologize, Lord Weiss, but the situation may be even worse than you know.” He brought up the image of Irene and Steve once again, expanding it so everyone could see it.
“Hey, waitaminute…” Whatever color was left in Amethyst’s face drained away as she recognized the butterfly-winged woman next to Steve. “Isn’t that….Irene?”
“Ya mean the girl you stole the bomb plans from?” Sylvie asked. “Looks like she might be out for some payback - ha! Sucks to be you!”
Weiss narrowed his eyes as he considered the implications. “So...the bomb-happy butter-bitch is with Steve now? Looks like the Council’s trying to compensate for something...namely, me!”
“Indeed,” Quantum said. “Based on this new data, I would hypothesize that the Society is recruiting new members as the beginning of another rebuilding attempt. And, considering the outcomes of our…interactions…” He paused to glance at everyone in turn. “...it stands to reason that they will be far more discerning in who they invite to their group - all future applicants will likely be either those loyal to the Council or those with a grudge against us.”
“Ugh...well, that’s just fan-fucking-tastic.” Amethyst groaned. “So not only are they still alive, but now the Councilmen are gonna increase their worthless numbers.”
“And given what we did to their base, it’s likely that they will seek to destroy us in turn,” Purgatory added.
“OH SHIIIIT! WHAT WE GONNA DO NOW, BRUDDAHS???” Marcell screamed.
“I say we hunt them down, AND KILL THEM WITH OUR BARE HANDS!” 1:30 roared. “AND THIS TIME! WE’LL MAKE DAMN SURE THEY DIIIIIIE!!”
“YEEEEEAAAAAAAH!!!” Marcell shrieked. “I LIKE THE WAY YOU THINK, 1:30!!!!”
“And I hate the fact that we let them both in the same room,” Saturn muttered, her wasps crawling into her ears.
“Marcell! 1:30! Shut the fuck up for 10 seconds!” Weiss yelled, rubbing his forehead. “Look...as much as I really want to take up on your idea, 30, that would be too obvious. They’re probably expecting us to come after them now - and we don’t know how many people they’ve got on their side now.”
“But Weiss, look how many of us are here.” Amethyst added. “We can overwhelm them!”
“Probably,” Weiss replied, “but they’re not gonna make the same mistakes they did last time. They’ll be reading our files like mad, looking up everything they’ve got on our moves and weaknesses - and I’d bet my left nut that their new base isn’t half as vulnerable as the old one was. As much as I hate to say it...we can’t take ‘em on ‘till we’ve got some more edges of our own to cut ‘em with!”
“So what? You're saying we should just sit here and let them rebuild??” Sylvie said, waving her arms in the air before crossing them with her best pout. “That stinks more than Pinkie Pie’s Baked Bads!”
“Calm yourself, Sylvie,” Purgatory admonished. “What Lord Weiss means is that we need to develop our own skills and resources to match whatever forces the Society has mustered. The Lord rewards his servants best if they prove their willingness to grasp fate with their own hands.”
“Exactly! ...I think,” Weiss said. “But I’m not just gonna put us through our paces to make us even more badass… I think we’re gonna give the Society something else to worry about besides preparing for Round 2 with us.”
“BADASS MISTAH WEISS! I GOT A QUESTION FOR YOOOOOU-OUU!!” Marcell screamed.
Weiss sighed as he waited for the ringing in his ears to stop. “Ugh...what is it?”
“YOU KNOW HOW N.E.D.’S GOT AN ARMY OF HIS OWN? WELL, WHAT THE FLIPPING CANNIBAL CORPSE FUCK ARE WE GONNA DO TO COMPENSATE FOR THAT?!”
Sylvie giggled at that. “Funny you should mention that, Marcy…I’ve finally worked out the kinks in my master plan, and I can guarantee that we’ll be having more backup than we can handle sooner than you can compliment Fancypants’ fantastic mustache!”
Amazingly, Marcell was silent for about five seconds before returning to his normal self. “...I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL YOU JUST SAAAAAIIIID!!!” he bellowed.
“...Of course you don’t…” Sylvie sighed. “You….just keep playing your stupid banjo.”
“Hey. Hey! Hey!” Marcell shouted. “It’s a guitar, you tiny shrimp dick.”
“Oh, and you just proved my point,” Sylvie sniped back. “I don’t even have a-”
Both of the bickering Initiative members were cut off by a small bolt of lightning that shot between them. Weiss waited a moment to enjoy the newfound silence before lowering his hand and clearing his throat.
“Now that we finally shut up the peanut gallery...allow me to explain just what we’re gonna do.” He walked past his allies and went up the first few stairs on the staircase to gain some height. “Most of us are gonna train our asses off to beat the Society...but some of us need to focus on keeping them harried and off-balance!” He punched a fist into his open palm. “They’ll be so busy thinking we’re trying to take over the Nexus, they won’t realize that our new priority is putting them six miles under!”
“A clever strategy,” Quantum began, “but would it not be more prudent to seek aid from your brother? The Neo-Empire’s resources would-”
“Yeah, no.” Weiss interrupted. “The last thing I need is to look like a little bitch in front of my older brother. I don’t need him and his dinky army - we’ll be fine by ourselves.”
Quantum looked unconvinced, but any further argument was lost amid another scream of electric guitar chords. “YEEEEAAAAAAH!!! WE’LL ROCK THE SOCIETY SHITLORDS STRAIGHT TO THE GRAAAAAAAAAAAVE!!!” Marcell howled over the cacophony of his guitar.
Weiss gritted his teeth as he felt his eardrums throb, but he somehow mastered his growing fury and adopted an encouraging tone. “Now…that is the attitude we need to get shit done around here,” he said. “In fact...y’know what? I think you’ve proven yourself the perfect man for the job of showing the Society that we’re not gonna take their second coming lying down!”
“Lord Weiss!” Saturn said incredulously. “You’re not saying what we think you’re saying, are you?”
“Oh, I damn well am!” Weiss descended the steps and clapped a hand on Marcell’s shoulder. “Marcell, I want you to be the first one to strike against the new-and-still-doomed Crimson Society! Whaddya say?” He backed away a few steps while signalling Quantum to throw up a sound-negating barrier around everyone.
“In the words of the great Steven Tyler himself…” Marcell’s voice dropped uncharacteristically low before regaining his heavy metal composure. “YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! I’LL KICK THEIR ASSES CLEAR OUTTA THIS UNIVERSE FOR KICKING ME OUT AND BUSTING MY OLD AXE!!!” He proceeded to launch into a combination of a wild guitar solo and a litany of increasingly-creative and violent promises of all the horrible things he’d do to his enemies - fortunately, none of the other Initiative members heard it from the safety of Quantum’s barrier.
“My lord...you…can’t be serious…” Behind the audio-dampening field, Purgatory made no attempt to hide her disbelief at the idea. “This task cannot be trusted to such a raucous fool!”
“I know…and I’m counting on that.” Weiss’s signature evil smirk was back in place. “He’ll probably fuck this up, but at least we’ll be rid of his max-volume attempts at music. But to be honest...I think he might just have a shot at screwing the Society shitheads over before he goes, too.” He glanced at Amethyst. “You DID finish your…custom project...for ol’ Loudmouth Lizard, right?”
“Really, Weissy, I’m shocked.” Amethyst repressed a giggle even as she adopted a hurt look. “When’s the last time I’ve let you down? It’s been built to his - and your - exact specifications.”
“Heh...as I expected.” Weiss cupped the cyborg goat-woman’s cheek with an almost-warm grin. “Your mind’s as sharp as your body is hot, Amy~”
Sylvie stuck out her tongue in disgust. “Ugh...get a fucking room…” she muttered.
Weiss scowled at his diminutive subordinate, but chose not to respond as he noticed Marcell finally calming down. Quantum dropped his barrier in time for Weiss to stride forward, arms crossed and a false look of approval on his face.
“Alright then. All in favor of letting Marcell kick some Society ass?” He glanced back at the others, who recognized their cues and raised their hands with various sounds of approval. “Looks like we’re all in agreement, then - they’re all yours, my man. Make us proud…or die trying,” he added under his breath.
“YOU GOT IT WEISS! IMMA GET READY RIGHT FUCKING NOOOOOOWWW!!!” With a final echoing scream, Marcell turned on his heel and ran off to make his preparations. As a result, he missed the looks of dark eagerness on the rest of the Initiative’s faces - unbeknownst to Marcell, they were hoping that this was a fight that neither side would survive...
-THE SOCIETY WILL RETURN-