jardanovic t1_je3qmjp wrote

Mama Skuld hugged me tightly as she said, "Oh, our baby girl has finally come back home! C'mere, let mama kiss you!"

I sighed but leaned down so Skuld could kiss my cheek. I heard Abe the rogue's signature obnoxious cackle behind me, prompting me to deadpan, "One word out of you and I carve my initials onto your ribcage. While it's still in your chest."

Mama Urd flicked my ear and remarked, "Belle Sumarbrander, you know the rules: no horseplay in the house!"

"Sorry mama."

Ulrich the cleric glanced around the hut as he said, "So, you're Belle's parents. And you're just... okay with the fact your daughter chose to be a barbarian as opposed to a warlock or something?"

Mama Verdandi took a break from stirring the cauldron to join the others in hugging me. "Aw, we could never be disappointed in our little girl. It's the duty we've been called to as her mothers."

Gilead the ranger cleared his throat and piped up, "As heartwarming as this is, we're actually here on a sidequest. We need a Potion of Gaseous Form, and apparently we can get it from you. Can you help us?"

Urd gave Gilead a thumbs up. "Easy peasy, pretty pleasey! But we can get to that in the morning. Please, stay! We're making yak stew for dinner and we always have plenty to go around."

Leilani the artificer smiled at the thought and responded, "That would be lovely, Mrs. Sumarbrander. Thank you!"

Urd happily ushered my party into the dining room. "Oh, please, call me Urd. I insist!"

Once everyone had left the room, Verdandi whispered, "That fairy girl is the artificer you mentioned in all your letters, right?"

I blushed and nodded. "Leilani. My cherry blossom."

Skuld applauded softly. "Well, it is about time you finally introduced us to our future daughter-in-law."

"Mama, please."

Skuld giggled. "I'm joking, honeybun! I'll settle for telling embarrassing stories about you."

I sighed. "I'll take it." I hugged Skuld and Verdandi gently as I added, "It really is nice to come home and see you guys. I missed you."

Skuld and Verdandi hugged me back as the latter softly replied, "We missed you too, pumpkin. Now let's go sit down before your mother gets snippy about dinner."


jardanovic t1_je0t1l8 wrote

"Hey Silas."

The demon knight nodded at his cohort as he walked into the throne room. "S'up Liam. What's all this about?"

At the center of the room, the Devil was arguing with a woman who, despite being half his height and lacking the mighty horns and hellfire he had, was getting quite snippy with him. She pointed a finger in the Devil's face and yelled, "What's the point of telling people they can choose what happens to them down here if you're gonna be a whiny bitch and veto my thing?!"

The Devil unleashed a torrent of insults wildly unfit for polite conversation in response. Over by the wall, the Devil's daughter Lilith was munching on fried chicken as she watched the situation unfold. Liam chuckled quietly before saying, "Alright, so get this: Tanya, the human over there, was about to choose her punishment when Lilith wandered into the room looking for her bunny."

Silas sighed. "Belphegor got out again?"

"Yeah, I know, the thing's a damn escape artist. Anyway, Tanya took a look at Lilith, and immediately blurted out that she wanted to be her lover. The boss freaked out and pulled her aside so he could try and convince Lilith to be Tanya's punishment. But Lilith wasn't down for that, cause you know, there's not a whole lot of potential partners in a place where you're royalty and she thought Tanya was cute, so now it's escalated into... this."

Liam gestured at Tanya and the Devil, the former of which had started pelvic thrusting for some reason. As the latter covered his eyes and Lilith cackled with a mouthful of poultry, Silas remarked, "Betcha fifty bucks Tanya wins the argument."

Liam grinned. "Make it a hundred."



It was a momentous day in the Hereafter. Five years ago to the day, the revolutionaries Tanya and Lilith Hubert brought down the Devil and ended the millennia-long war between demons and angels. With their help, the celestial bureaucracy came under the governance of a democratically elected collective of overseers, ensuring the fairest possible judgement for the newly departed. And with travel between Heaven and Hell now possible, both realms flourished from the influx of visitors and the freedom to move between the two as one desired.

Among the royal gardens, Tanya and Lilith were celebrating Unity Day how they always did: a picnic with their wife Jubael of the angels and their daughters Hope and Joy. As the happy family enjoyed their sandwiches and snuggled up together by the pond, Silas and Liam walked by, in the process of making their rounds. Once the two were out of earshot, Silas asked, "This means I won the bet, right?"

Liam scoffed. "It's been eight years, and you seriously think I've been holding on to a hundred dollars just for that?" Silas shrugged, prompting Liam to sigh and slap the money into his open palm. "There. You Happy?"

Silas counted the money and nodded. "Oh yeah. We happy."


jardanovic t1_jdymql3 wrote

"Honey, you're not... dating Freight Train, are you?"

Azadeh shook her head frantically, her braided hair whipping back and forth. A more cynical parent would've assumed she was lying to cover her ass, but I knew my daughter; she didn't play games when it came to my line of work. I sighed, traded my white chocolate latte for my sword, and got off the couch as I remarked, "So much for mother-daughter time."

Freight Train knocked down the door to the sunroom, prompting a pair of robotic ravens to shoot out from the ceiling and catch it before it could crush anything else. As the ravens started putting the door back in place, Freight Train pointed his finger at me and growled, "Let her go, Dr. Valkyrie. Now."

"No self-respecting parent would let their kid anywhere near someone who just broke into their house. Now back the fuck up."

Freight Train looked at Azadeh. "You're her daughter?! Why didn't you tell me?!"

Azadeh whimpered and hid behind me--something she hadn't done since she was five years old. My expression turned stone-cold as I asked her, "What did he do to you?"

Azadeh gulped before shakily replying, "W--We went on a date at the s--start of the month. We got d--dinner, and when he got up to use the b--bathroom, he got a text, and I saw the background on his phone. It...It was a picture of me. I panicked, and g--got into his phone like you taught me, and there were--" Azadeh let out a terrified sob and finished, "There were so many fucking pictures of me."

I turned back to Freight Train and yelled, "You've been stalking my fucking KID?!?!"

Freight Train growled. "Shut up! If she'd told me who her mother is, I never would've--"

"YOU'RE TRYING TO PIN THE BLAME ON HER?!! Oh, that is it, you sick fuck! I'm done putting up with you!!"

I snapped my fingers, prompting an automated turret to pop out of the wall and blast Freight Train with an almost blindingly white beam. Freight Train fell to his knees, struggling to articulate his words as I strolled over to him. After I had Azadeh close her eyes, I kneeled down next to him and hissed, "Hurts, doesn't it? That's the Pertho Gun, whittling away your life force into nothing. Clearing you out like the namesake rune."

Freight Train's breathing turned heavy as I poked my sword against his back. "I had this built a while ago, right around the time you got onto the scene. Never used it until now because I had hoped we could have some degree of professionalism between us. But then you did this. So you know what? No more."

I turned off the Pertho Gun and plunged my sword into Freight Train's back before he could recover. I dragged the blade along his spine to ensure he wouldn't survive and let out a whistle once I was done. My genetically-enhanced wolves trotted into the room and started ripping up Freight Train's body as I walked back over to Azadeh and softly said, "It's over, honey. You can open your eyes again if you want."

Azadeh opened her eyes slowly and collapsed into my chest. "Can I...can I stay here tonight? I don't feel good enough to go back to campus."

I tenderly held Azadeh's head and replied, "Of course, kiddo. You stay here as long as you need."


jardanovic t1_jdogvpj wrote

"Out! NOW!"

The knight before me reached out his hand, ignoring what I had just said to him as he replied, "Princess Andrea, you need not be afraid! I can get us out of the castle before the dragon wakes--"

I slapped the knight with the back of my hand and yelled, "Shut up and listen to me, you damned moron! I don't need to be saved, the dragon is mine, and the only feeling I have right now is an unstoppable tide of fury for your lead-poisoned idiocy!"

"W--What? Oh Gods, the dragon has ensnared your mind!"

I slapped the knight again and stomped over to my bed as I yelled, "Thomas, please get rid of him!"

Thomas poked his head through the door and grabbed the knight by the chainmail. Thomas then carried him over to the window and dropped him outside as I practiced my deep breathing. I started counting backwards from thirty as Thomas got on the bed and nuzzled his head into my lap. Thomas built up a bit of flame in the back of his throat to warm me up, putting an end to my rage. I let out a long sigh and gently scratched behind Thomas's horns as I said, "Thanks boy."

Thomas blew out a little ring of smoke before idly licking my hand. The soreness from the slap I delivered began to fade as I snuggled up with Thomas and quietly said, "Why can't they leave me alone?"

Thomas let out a little whine in sympathy. Suddenly, I heard footsteps approaching the door to my room. I groaned weakly and pulled the curtain on my bed in the hopes I could convince the latest knight to leave. But when the door opened up, I heard... nothing.

There was no dramatic yell of my name, no demand that Thomas prepare for death, no telltale clanking of armor or swords. Hell, even the door opening was abnormal--the fools who kept trying to "save" me usually just kicked it down. I peeked through the curtain to get a better look at who this mystery person was.

Leaning against the wall with a book in hand was a woman dressed in the uniform of a squire. I pulled back the curtain slightly, prompting the woman to look over at me and wave. "Hello. Lovely castle you have here."

"Uhh...who are you?"

The woman chuckled and set down her book as she replied, "Depends on who you ask and where you do the asking. To the knight you just unceremoniously threw out like a baby bird from the nest, my name was Gertrude, squire-in-training. But you can call me Christine."

I pulled the curtain back all the way. "So you're a criminal."

"Oh, unrepentantly so. But don't worry, I'm not here to steal anything. I just figured the castle of a noted agoraphobe would be a good place to hide out when the lynch mobs congregate. Of course, I'd be more than willing to offer compensation in any form you'd like."

"So if I were to ask for, say, assistance in keeping knights out of my home..."

Christine opened up her jacket and showed off the tools on the inside. "I'd ask if you prefer pit traps or snares."

I smiled. "Okay, now what if I were to ask for someone to keep me and Thomas company?"

Christine strolled over to the bed, sat down next to me, and joined in on giving Thomas scritches. "I'd say yes please."

I blushed. "Okay then. I guess we have a deal."


jardanovic t1_j7o6qrx wrote

"It's 2 in the morning. If you're offering a contract with anything less than six zeroes, I'm hanging up and tracking you down to kill you when I wake up."

No frantic apologies came through the other end, or any sort of talk of a contract. Just the sound of heavy breathing and...crying? I was all set to hang up when a weary voice said, "Hi Boneyard."

I sat up and replied, "Lovebug? How the hell did you get this number?"

"I ran around town until I found someone who had it. I've been running all night."

"Look, whatever major threat you've got on your plate that absolutely needs my help to deal with, can it wait until--"

"Can I stay with you?"

My brain struggled to process what Lovebug had just said to me. "What?"

Lovebug sniffled. "Can I stay with you? Please? I don't... have anywhere else to go."

"Lovebug, I don't know what kind of issues you're having with your parents, but--" Lovebug's pained sobs cut me off. The realization hit me as I quietly said, "They threw you out, didn't they?"

"Since I started as Lovebug, I've been coming home late and forgetting or not having the energy to do my chores. I tried, I really tried to get home on time last night, but I couldn't make it. And when I came home, I found my dog on the doorstep with--with a hole in his chest. And my dad opened the door, and he had his shotgun, and he said if I couldn't be trusted to get home on time, I couldn't be trusted to have a pet."

I already wanted to kill Lovebug's dad, but she wasn't done. "The next day, I came home from school, and my parents were at the kitchen table with my laptop and my books, and they started screaming at me. They said they'd never be so stupid as to let their child be a....be a...I can't even say it. And they threw me out, and they wouldn't open up the door no matter how much I begged, and--" Lovebug couldn't take it anymore, and collapsed into pained sobbing.

I was already out of my bed and halfway dressed in my body armor as I said, "Give me your location. I'll come to you."

"I'm in the alley behind Dragon Pho. P--Please don't hang up. I don't want to be alone."

"I won't. I promise." As I loaded up my guns, I stopped to look at a photo on the wall. It was a picture of me with my platoonmates before we shipped out for Operation Torch. I sighed deeply, prompting Lovebug to pipe up, "I'm sorry I woke you up like this--"

"I'm not upset at you, kid. I'm just... disappointed people are still the same in the hundred and seventeen years I've been alive. I'll be there soon."


jardanovic t1_j6kf104 wrote

The locker room was dead silent save for my mumbling through the lyrics to Stela Cole's Love Like Mine. As I sketched out my latest drawing, I saw a towering shadow creep up behind me. I paused my music and said, "Hey Aisha."

My girlfriend groaned and responded, "Am I ever gonna be able to sneak up on you?"

I chuckled. "Not when you're ten foot eight, babe."

Aisha pouted as she shrunk back down to her usual five foot two and took a seat on the bench next to me. "You always make fun of my usual height."

I kissed her on the cheek and replied, "Mmm, that's because you're cute when you pout."

Aisha tried her damnedest but ultimately failed to hide her blushing smile. As she leaned against me and watched me sketch, she asked, "You okay, Millie? You don't come in here unless shit's going down."

I sighed. "Ah, you know, the usual. My mom's being a bitch, the other students won't leave me alone, and the teachers aren't doing anything. I just want, like, one break. One break, is that too much to ask?"

"I mean, I don't think it's--WHOA!!"

An invisible force pulled Aisha off of the bench and into an open locker. The locker abruptly closed, revealing Tiffany Leone, who snidely said to me, "You got time to chat, Millie?"

I sighed in exasperation. "Seriously, Tiffany? You can't go one day without being a Tiffany?"

Tiffany stomped over to me and slapped me. As her cronies Lauren and Layla telekinetically stole my sketchpad and placed a seal on the locker Aisha was stuck inside, Tiffany pulled me up by the hair and hissed, "It is one thing to get a lower grade than a Powerless. It's another thing entirely when you get a lower grade than a Powerless tra--"

Aisha cut Tiffany off by yelling, "Finish that sentence and I swear I'll dropkick you through that fucking wall!!!"

Tiffany glared at Aisha and screamed, "STAY OUT OF THIS!" She then turned my attention back to me and made a finger gun. As an explosive spark built up in her fingers, Tiffany aimed for my sketchpad and sneered. "This is what happens when you don't stay in your lane."


Suddenly, I wasn't held in Tiffany's grasp anymore. I was still in the locker room, but everything around me was a multicolored fever dream. The walls and ceiling looked like a rainbow had vomited on them as the air around me was filled with little glints of light. I looked to my left to see Tiffany and her friends looking around confused trying to find me. Then I saw Lauren was still holding my sketchpad, and I got pissed.

In an instant, I popped out of wherever I had ended up and slammed into Lauren with enough force to slam her against a row of lockers. Tiffany and Layla stared at me in terror as I reclaimed my property. Layla started to back away as she asked, "W--where the hell did you go?!"

I shrugged. "No clue. But I'm not about to complain about finally having the means to kick your asses."

With a single thought, I returned to the colorful world, this time via the floor. Once Layla realized where I had gone, she started panicking and fruitlessly stomping the ground. I popped back into reality directly behind her, kneeing her in the crotch hard enough to send her airborne for a brief moment. As Layla lost concentration, the seal on the locker disappeared, giving Aisha the opportunity to burst out with a murderous look on her face.

Tiffany fell on her ass and tried scooting away to no avail. Aisha sized up and grabbed Tiffany by the collar as she growled, "You're in luck, Tiff: I'll settle for this instead of launching you through the wall." Aisha then shoved Tiffany into the locker and slammed the door shut.

Aisha shrank down a bit as she pulled me into a hug excitedly. "You have powers!! My baby actually has powers!!!"

I hugged Aisha right back and responded, "I know, I can't believe it either! Hey, what did it look like to you?"

"It was so cool; it's like you were a living drawing or something!"

"Ooh, that does sound cool. You wanna see if we can use this to sneak into a movie?"

Aisha grinned and took me by the hand. "Hell yeah I do!"


jardanovic t1_j69yeo4 wrote


Captain Ivor unceremoniously dropped me onto the floor of the throne room, the chains around my wrist clanking loudly as they hit the ground. King Lawrence got out of his throne, walked over to the two of us, and said to Ivor, "Why is the side of your head bandaged?"

Ivor rubbed his wound and winced. "The girl bit my ear off."

Lawrence facepalmed. "Oh, for the love of--go get that treated already."

Ivor bowed and walked out of the room as I hissed at him. Lawrence sighed and knelt down beside me to say, "How long are you going to keep this up, June?"

I scoffed. "That depends. How long is forever?"

"I tolerated your... eccentricities for years now. When you became obsessed with the forest, I had it registered as a national landmark. When you insisted on learning to make potions, I had the royal apothecarian take you on as an apprentice. But this has gone too far. You're running around the forest in a cobbled together ranger uniform, living like a wild animal, assaulting the captain of the royal guard!"

"Feel like you're ignoring the part where you had me banished to the forest for making out with a baron's daughter."

Lawrence groaned in frustration and paced around angrily as he continued, "You are a princess, for God's sake! Your demeanor is reflective on all of the royal family! Your misbehavior is taken as evidence of--WILL YOU GET OFF THE FLOOR ALREADY?! I have had it with your tantrums!!"

I smirked. "I would, but it's really in my best interest to stay low."

"What do you mean in your--"


The doors to the throne room were blasted off their hinges and sent flying. Lawrence narrowly ducked to avoid them while I calmly watched them soar over my head and destroy the throne. Through the smoke that clouded the entryway, a dragon with burnt ochre scales emerged and stared down Lawrence murderously. Then she looked at me and happily said, "Hi pumpkin!"

I waved back and responded, "Hi mama!"

My mom turned her attention back to Lawrence and growled, "Take those chains off of my daughter or I'll flay the skin from your body and roast your exposed flesh."

Lawrence looked like he was pissing himself, but still found the anger to glare at me and say, "You allied yourself with the dragons?! That--that's treason! I'll have your head for this!"

I got on my feet as my mom replied, "First of all, June didn't ally herself with us, we adopted her. Second of all, my brother Ganymede burned the guillotine on the way here. Now you can either let my baby girl go or you can die screaming."

Lawrence got up and drew his sword. "I'll not let my kingdom fall to such--"


A blow dart lodged itself in Lawrence's throat, sending him falling back to the ground. From behind my mom's legs, a woman in her own makeshift ranger uniform appeared and smiled at me. My fiancee, Tulip. As she picked the lock on my chains, I said to her, "So how does it feel to be back in the castle after all this time?"

Once my chains were unlocked, Tulip took them off my wrists and purred, "Just as I remember it: empty of anything interesting save for you." I happily pulled Tulip into a kiss as my mom lowered her back and interjected, "Come on, you two. You can be adorable at home."

Tulip and I stopped kissing and got on my mom's back as I announced, "Bye Lawrence! Hope I never see you again!" With that, my mom turned around and flew out of the hole in the castle wall to begin the journey home.


jardanovic t1_j4tl9aj wrote

I knocked on the door to the meeting hall and tried to steel my nerves. As I practiced my deep breathing, the door opened up to reveal Heracles, his ten foot frame filling up the doorway. He looked down at me and asked, "Can I help you?"

I gulped and answered, "Yes, hi, my name is Vanyael, and I'm here about the Christian god's application?"

Heracles opened up the door all the way and replied, "Come on in. You can leave your coat in the closet."

I thanked Heracles and dropped off my jacket as quickly as I could before heading down to the main table. The Norse pantheon was hosting this time, so the hall took the form of an elaborate ski lodge. As I grabbed a cookie off of a tray Ganymede was carrying, Heracles followed behind me and remarked, "They've been arguing for hours about this guy. Hopefully you can put an end to this."

"Believe me, I wouldn't be here if I didn't intend to."

Surrounding a table full of nectar, mead, and red wine were the gods and goddesses of the three pantheons, chattering away the day. With a loud whistle, Heracles pulled their attention over to the two of us. Once the talking died down, I waved awkwardly at the group. "H--hello, I'm Vanyael, please call me Vanya. And, uh, I am an archangel."

Athena let out a sigh of exasperation. "Great, just what we needed: someone to vouch for this God."

I chuckled nervously. "Could I perhaps see the application God sent in?"

Athena handed it over to me. I looked it over briefly before sticking the paper into one of the wall torches. As I dropped the paper to let it burn, Loki threw up his hands and yelled, "What, so she gets to burn things?!"

I bowed to the gods apologetically. "I'm so sorry that paper got as far as it did. We're still looking into how God managed to get his hands on the application."

Sobek raised his hand and asked, "What exactly is going on here? Did I miss something?"

"No, no you didn't, Mr. Sobek. So, what's going on is, God doesn't actually have any real authority in the celestial bureaucracy. We saw to that after the incident with Ayla and Eve."

Frey looked over at me in confusion. "You mean Adam and Eve?"

I shook my head. "Not after their excursion with the fruit of knowledge."

Over in the corner, Bastet and her wife Iris let out a long, "Awwwwwwww!"

"Yeah, uh, we thought the threat of banishment from Eden was just a secret test from God, but no, he was serious about it. Once we realized we were working for someone who'd kick his first creations out for not doing exactly as he said, we teamed up with the demons to overthrow him. It took us like a year at most, and God's mind kinda just...broke afterwards. Nowadays he just sits on this one single cloud in Heaven, playing with sticks and living under the delusion he's the master of the universe or whatever."

Thoth looked up from the notepad he was scribbling in to ask, "So there's no higher power in charge of Christianity?"

"We prefer the term gnosticism, and no. The celestial bureaucracy is purely democratic. It's not even divided between good and evil, it's more like Heaven is the countryside and Hell is the city. My wife and I actually run a bakery in Hell, it's very nice."

As he poured himself another drink, Dionysus piped up, "Do you cater?"

I gave him a thumbs up and replied, "I will get you a business card, buddy! Anyway, this was all one big mix-up, and we're deeply sorry."

Odin raised a flagon of mead. "No need to worry, young lady! Now come and grab a drink so we can discuss having you and yours join the council properly!"

I shrugged. "As long as I can get another one of these cookies, I'm in!"


jardanovic t1_j4md6l8 wrote

Credit where credit is due: the Hero Agency had some top notch break rooms. I was sitting on a cushioned bench with my mask off, alternating between eating my sandwich and icing my shiner. I had gotten jumped by a low-ranking hero named Titan after I registered with the Agency. At first, I was terrified that my ruse had been discovered already, but that notion was discarded when Titan told me to, "Stay in my lane."

As I wiped the avocado bits off of my chin, two rookie heroes walked into the room mid-conversation and started helping themselves to the fruit bowl. The pair were jabbering happily about sponsorships, endorsements, and the like, prompting me to put my headphones on to block them out. This couldn't have been the Hero Agency, I thought to myself. This was like a fusion of reality TV and emergency services.

My isolation was interrupted by a note getting set on my lap. I looked up to survey the room, but there was nobody else around. I read the words on the note: "Room 0561". With nothing better to do, I tossed my lunch and made my way to the room in question.

The room was a storage unit on the same floor, thankfully. I stepped inside the room and saw about twenty-five or so heroes sitting on the various crates that filled the room. As I shut the door behind me and hesitantly approached, I said to them, "I got your message."

One of them got off of their makeshift seats and pressed a finger to my black eye. Instantly, I felt the pain subside. Once she pulled back, I sighed and said, "Thank you."

The woman nodded. "Don't mention it. I'm Anesthetic. I've got a proposition for you."

"Gonna go out on a limb and assume this is related to your little knitting circle here?"

Anesthetic chuckled. "Not much of a knitting circle. See that guy over there?" Anesthetic pointed towards a man dressed like an old school punk rock fanboy. "That's Powerchord. Hero Agency Insurance refused to cover the destruction of his guitar shop even after working for the Agency for three years. The weirdo next to him is Gnasher." A person wearing a full face dog mask waved energetically. "The Agency denied their request for an investigation into a kidnapping ring, despite the fact it was recorded in their own goddamn files that they got their powers from an altercation with said ring."

I looked over Anesthetic's shoulder at a woman in emerald body armor slumped against a crate like she was unconscious after a bender. "What about her?"

Anesthetic looked at where I was looking and sighed. "That's Saving Grace. Not my place to tell. You're gonna have to get her to trust you to find out."

"What about you? What's your beef?"

Anesthetic grimaced. "Same thing that brought you to my attention. A big, violent thing named Titan."

I winced and rubbed my arm. "Good reason. So what, this is some kind of resistance movement?"

"If you join, it will be. We got the drive, but none of us are leaders. You, on the other hand? I saw how you passed the practical exam. I saw you command those birds. You're what we need to take this to the next level."

"You're asking me to lead you?"

"I'm asking you to help us hit the Hero Agency where it hurts."

I fell silent for a bit. As I weighed the options, I eventually took a deep breath and replied, "Alright, I'm in. But if we're doing this, you need to know: there is nobody named Black Kestrel. I am, and always have been, the villain known as Shikkoku."

Anesthetic grinned. "Oh, I know. Why do you think I asked you in the first place?"


jardanovic t1_j287it3 wrote

With a grin, I said to her, "I'll do you one better, miss!" With a single thought, my body turned into liquid metal and flopped onto the ground. I willed myself into a silver path, my body unrolling like a carpet. Once the strongwoman had dropped off her load of metal, she looked down at me and said, "You must be the new girl."

I flowed up to her and turned back into flesh and blood to stick my hand out. "Indeed I am! Name's Valeria."

My coworker shook my hand and responded, "I'm Lucy. So, do you always go the extra mile for your coworkers like that?"

"Certain coworkers, but yes. You know, the ones who bring in donuts for everybody or happen to be an absolute vision of beauty and power."

Lucy smirked knowingly at me. "Sorry to say, but I don't have any donuts."

"Well, darn. Guess you fall into the latter camp--OW!!"

A feeling like someone had just yanked on my hair flared up in the back of my head. I turned around to see a hand hanging out of a crackling orange portal and my boss Mrs. Weatherby with her arm up to her wrist stuck through the portal's other end. With a frown, she yelled to us, "You girls aren't getting paid to flirt with each other and we still got a Powercule/Western Saviors throwdown to clean up, so get to it already!"

As Mrs. Weatherby walked off, Lucy rested a hand on my shoulder and led me along as she said, "Relax, rookie. Do your job well and the boss will be as sweet as a baby cow to you. Besides, I know a thing or two about keeping a conversation going on the clock."

"And I am so very eager to listen."

Lucy chuckled. "Really? I couldn't tell."


jardanovic t1_j24q2t0 wrote

I've done terrible things in my life. I'd driven men to madness, shattered them into a thousand pieces, killed them slowly enough that I could hear the progression of their torment from whimpers to bloodcurdling screams. But nothing, nothing, made me feel as monstrous as what I was considering doing.

I didn't mean to hurt Fixit that badly. It was our usual fight, with quips and her silly drones. But then that building collapsed on her, and before I knew it, I was nursing her back to health in my hideout. And now I didn't want to let her go. I was becoming Annie Wilkes--and the only ending to this story I would accept was the one where Fixit stayed forever.

I looked into the mirror and saw three copies of me, standing before me with eyes full of judgement. It'd been happening a lot these past couple of days, as if my powers felt the need to emphasize my mind turning against me in a very literal sense. One of the reflections said to me, "You know you want to do this."

"You know I can't," I fired back.

Another reflection said to me, "All the blood on your hands but this is where you draw the line?"

"If I keep her here, then how am I any different than the shitheels that gave me these powers in the first place?"

The third reflection shrugged. "Who cares? They're dead, we already won. And on another note, if you weren't going to go through with this, we wouldn't be here."

"You three are the worst consciences ever. You know that, right?"

The first reflection chuckled. "That implies you have a conscience at all. Face it: if you let Fixit go, it's business as usual. You go back to fighting her every day, and this all fades into a bittersweet memory. Into something you can't get back. And you know deep down that holding onto Fixit is the only. Way. Forward."


I punched the mirror, fed up with my copies. As I let the shards fall off my protective gear and hit the granite countertop, I heard a voice to my left say, "Reflectika? Is everything okay?" I turned to face Fixit and replied, "You know me well enough to know I'm far too disturbed of a woman to answer any other way but no."

Fixit, still concerned, had one of her drones sweep up the mess as I said, "You're looking much better. I imagine you can go back to the Fraternity any day now."

Fixit was silent for a while before she responded, "I'm not going back."

"What? What do you mean?"

"I mean the Fraternity can suck a dick and fail at it for all I care. I spent my whole life wanting to be one of them, but what do I find when I get there? Popularity polls, sponsorships, and a pyramid that I'd been jammed into the bottom of with no way to climb up. It's a goddamn reality show over there. And when I get injured in the line of duty, what do they do? Throw me far enough under the bus that they're halfway across the country before I can even get back on my feet. I'm done with them."

I was stunned; Fixit was the picture of a good Samaritan, and she was capable of being this resentful? Before I could form a response, Fixit looked at me and quietly said, "Besides, I...I really like it here."

"Here? As in... with me?"

Fixit blushed but nodded. "Y-yeah. You, u-um, make me feel safe and valued and cared for, and that's...not really something I've had a lot of in my life."

I couldn't stop myself from pulling Fixit into a hug and tearing up. "I want you to stay. I want you to stay here, with me, and I know deep down that I'm capable of something awful if you say no, and I absolutely don't deserve your...your..." I trailed off when I felt Fixit wrap arms around me. She pulled back slightly and gazed into my eyes and softly said, "I'm not so sure I would've said no."

Fixit's words echoed in my mind like the most beautiful symphony. With her hands on my face, Fixit pulled me into a soft kiss. My heart absolutely soared as I pulled her into me. Once she let me come up for air, Fixit whispered, "Will you keep me, Reflectika?"

"Until my dying breath."


jardanovic t1_izvozl2 wrote

For a second, I wondered if somebody was pranking me, but that didn't seem possible. My wife wasn't the type to play pranks on me and our son was at college the next city over. And then my mind drifted towards the fact that I didn't even remember having a son or what my wife was named. I groaned as I made my way to the bathroom--it was going to be a long day.

Suddenly, my wife poked her head out of the bedroom and asked, "Everything okay, hon?"

I glanced back and replied, "Yeah, yeah, everything's good, honey. I just had a bit of a kink in my neck."

"Aw, I'm sorry. You want a massage later? Would that help?"

"Thank you, but I'm okay. Oh, and good morning."

"Good morning to you too."

With our chat out of the way, I entered the bathroom and did my business. At the same time, I thought about how I could figure out if everything around me was fake, what question I could ask my wife to prove my life had been fabricated. Once I finished up and started washing my hands, I looked in the mirror and gazed down at my bare chest. It wasn't Bachelor-worthy or anything, but it was definitely proof I'd kept in shape over the years.

It made me want to vomit. Something about it just set off alarm bells in my head, and I didn't know why. I couldn't tell if it was too bare, too empty, too flat, too--wait.

Flat. That was the issue. And the minute I realized that, I remembered who I really was.

Suddenly, a sharp, throbbing pain in my head sent me to the ground. Everything around me seemed to be getting more intense; the glare of the lights, the coldness of the tile, the sound of the pipes. But it wouldn't work this time now that I knew who I was and what I was capable of.

I reached out into the space in front of me and concentrated. The pain seemed to be getting more intense, but pain never stopped me much anyway. Suddenly, I could feel it: glass. With a grin, I wound up and let loose the strongest punch I could muster.

In an instant, I wasn't in a house anymore. I was laying in a puddle of strange green liquid with bits of broken glass mixed in. As I gathered my bearings and looked down at myself, my grin came back with a vengeance. I was wearing a pink and dark blue costume filled out with bodybuilder-grade muscles and, best of all, motherfucking breasts. The bitch was back.

"No no NO!!" I turned to my right to see a woman in a lab coat and gas mask pointing some kind of gun at me. "How did you get out?! That simulation was four months worth of work!!"

I made a show of flexing as I responded, "Look on the bright side, Critical: you've got front row seats to the Koroleva comeback tour!" I held out my hand. A bolt of lightning appeared and transformed into a war hammer. "And audiences everywhere agree: it's a smash hit!"

Critical opened fire on me as I charged. The laser blasts hit my skin to no avail, a feeling I savored after being stuck in a place where I couldn't have that. I went in for a thrust at Critical's midsection, prompting her to summon a forcefield around that area. At the last minute however, I quickly swung the hammer away and into the ground, sending the both of us plummeting to the level below.

I landed on my feet while Critical wasn't quite so lucky, landing on a table hard enough to break it in half. As she tried to get back up, I lifted her off the ground and growled, "Now, let's have a chat about you sticking me in a simulation where you made me think I was still a man."

Critical, unbothered, pressed a button on her wristwatch, at which point the same pain that happened in the simulation came back, only about ten times stronger. As I collapsed to the ground screaming, Critical ripped off her gas mask to reveal the murderously joyful expression on her face. "Get this through your thick, bulletproof head! You are a man and you always will be! And I won't rest until every perverted crossdresser like you and every traitor like that little shit Repertoire is dead or enlightened! I will save the...s-save the...future of--"

Critical looked down to see an arm sticking through her chest before abruptly collapsing in the middle of her speech. As I regained my bearings, I saw a woman with a pale blue costume and full facemask that let her long black hair flow freely. Gwisin--my actual wife. Gwisin took her mask off and happily cried out, "Koro!"

"Spooky!" I immediately pulled Gwisin off the ground and kissed her deeply. Once we broke apart, Gwisin shifted positions so that I was bridal carrying her and nuzzled into me. "I missed you like crazy, hon."

"Mmm, I missed you more."

"Bullshit, you didn't even remember I was your wife until like three minutes ago!"

"Yeah, but it was a really intense three minutes! Quality over quantity, right?"

Gwisin giggled and kissed me on the cheek. "Let's agree to disagree so we can get Critical in a cell quicker and we can start making up for lost time."

"Fine by me." As Gwisin levitated Critical off the ground and I started making my way out of the lair, Gwisin asked, "By the way, how'd you break out of the simulation?"

I smiled. "I realized that there was something important from my life that wasn't there anymore."

"You wanted your tits back, didn't you?"

I shrugged and responded, "Yeah, I wanted my tits back."

Gwisin gave my chest a playful squeeze. "Well, they are fantastic."

"Aren't they?"


jardanovic t1_iyfaqhs wrote

"You really expect me to believe my dad would've made a deal with you?"

The demon grimaced as she replied, "Look, Debbie, I know you have reason to believe I'm lying here, but I'm not. And your old man's already twenty three years overdue, so I'm not in the mood, okay?"

I couldn't believe what I was hearing; the story of my dad building up a successful bakery from the day he came to the States was one of the most inspirational stories I'd ever heard. But it wasn't even real? He promised me to a demon just so his business would get off the ground?

I pushed the demon away from me and said, "I won't believe this. My father is an honest man--"

"Yeah, but he was also a desperate man. I mean, first generation immigrant in this shitshow of a nation? Odds were long his bakery would succeed without my help. Of course, I needed payment for the transaction."

I sighed. "Me. You needed me."

The demon nodded and continued, "I don't know how he managed to keep you out of my grasp for so long, but I am fucking over it. You're coming with me."

"No no no no, please don't! There has to be another deal we can make! I'm about to propose to my girlfri--" An idea popped into my head. "Excuse me, what's your name?"


"Nessa, did my dad ever give exact parameters on what he'd be giving you to me for?"

Nessa groaned and responded, "No, the entire point of this deal was that you would be given to me for my own purp--" I cut Nessa off by whispering my idea into her ear. Nessa promptly went wide eyed. "Well, that's certainly... enticing."


The sound of rolling waves and the tropical breeze dancing through the trees outside stirred me from my sleep. As I yawned and took in the sight of the hotel room bathed in the light streaming through the gaps in the curtain, I felt something warm and soft press into my back as a voice whispered, "Hey, guess what? We're married!" I chuckled as I turned to face my wife Edith, with her giant monster of light brown hair spread out on the pillow. I rested my hand on Edith's cheek as I purred, "You are never gonna get tired of saying that, are you?"

Nessa rolled over to toss an arm over me and nuzzle into my chest. "Would you?"

I concede to her point with a shrug as Edith looked at Nessa with a gasp. "Oh my gosh, we're married too! As Edith peppered Nessa with many relentless kisses, I started tickling the latter's tummy, sending her falling onto the bed laughing so hard she was crying. In between gasps, Nessa looked at us with a smile and wheezed out, "You assholes."

Edith giggled as she rested her head on my midsection and said, "So, what're we doing today?"

"I had a couple things in mind," I replied as I opened the notes app on my phone. "There's a luau happening tonight at the lagoon, we could do that swan boat island tour they mentioned, there's the golf course--any of this sounding good to you two?"

Edith raised her hand. "If we do all three, could we go golfing first? The golf clubhouse is right next to that breakfast buffet and I really want some pancakes."

Nessa excitedly patted on my belly. "Yessss, pancakes! What time does it open?"

I checked the clock on my phone before answering, "About an hour from now. We should probably get moving."

Nessa let out an exaggerated groan and said, "Oh, very well. But first..." Nessa then kissed the both of us deeply, one after the other. "My daily tribute to the greatest deal any devil has ever made."


jardanovic t1_iycy7vs wrote

"Uhhhhh... what?"

As confused murmurs went up through the crowd that had assembled for the announcement of Princess Terpsichore's engagement, Terpsichore herself practically leapt off of the podium and pulled me into a bear hug. As she squeezed the life out of me, she said, "All my life I've known I love women, but my parents would've never approved if they knew! But thanks to you, I don't have to go through with the wedding and--oh my gosh, I just realized how cute you are! What's your name?"

My blush overtook most of my face as I attempted to ignore the fact that Terpsichore's chest was pressed against mine to say, "R-Ruby. My name is Ruby. Do you really think I'm...cute?"

"Of course I do! Look at yourself, you're positively scrumptious! You're like a big cupcake covered in a pitch black chocolate frosting!"

I pulled my hat down over my eyes to (unsuccessfully) hide just how flustered Terpsichore was making me. Terpsichore promptly pushed my hat back up and remarked, "Hey, don't do that! I wanna see those pretty eyes of yours over tea! Speaking of which, do you want to have afternoon tea with me?"

I nodded happily and said, "Yes I do!"

Terpsichore squeaked with delight and lifted me into a bridal carry. As she ran off for our date, she called out to her parents, "Bye mother! Bye father! I'm running away from home!"

And that's the story of how I met my wife.


jardanovic t1_iy09neg wrote

"Honey Trap?"


"I'm starting to think you might be right."

Honey Trap and I were staring at a hole we had accidentally blown into an abandoned building during one of our usual throwdowns. But instead of there being furniture or an empty room behind it, there was just a void filled with floating binary code. As the hole filled itself back in, Honey Trap rolled her eyes and said, "Goodness me, the great Stormrunner thinks I'm right. She has finally conceded to the notion she may have been wrong this whole time. What a day this is."

"I can do without the sarcasm, thank you." I took a seat on the curb and continued, "But what I don't get is why go to the trouble of making everything so...lifelike?"

Honey Trap took a seat next to me and pulled a notepad seemingly out of nowhere. "I had a lot of theories when I started questioning this. But after a while, I realized everything kept coming back to one thing." HT flipped the notepad to a page with only a single thing on it: the words 'July 2019' circled multiple times. "Try and remember something from that month. Anything."

I shrugged and did as she said. Immediately, I was doubled over from the stabbing pain that was shooting through my head. "FUCK ME! That was like a combined hangover from every drop of alcohol I've ever had in my life! What was that?!"

"That's what happened to me every time I tried to remember. I actually passed out from the pain a couple of times. Whatever's going on here has something to do with that period of time. Just wish we could figure out how to get out of this fucking place already."

As I slowly got to my feet, I responded, "Solution's obvious, isn't it? We just crash the simulation. If they're keeping me of all people trapped here, then this place is probably designed to feed off of my electricity. But I'm willing to bet it can't handle all of my power. You might want to get to a safe distance."

HT nodded and ran into a shop on the other side of the street. I closed my eyes and felt the storm inside my soul. I felt the power build up and up, reaching a crescendo of rain, wind, thunder, and most importantly, lightning. With a mighty cry, I fired a bolt that could have given power to the entire globe four times over.

Suddenly, I wasn't in a city anymore. I was in some kind of laboratory, strapped to a table with suction cupped-wires stuck to my head as a man frantically typed away at a destroyed computer terminal. I ripped them off and sat up with a growl. "You want me to call IT?"

The man shrieked and turned around, revealing himself to be wearing a demon mask with half of its face scarred. Honey Trap's ex-boyfriend, Baphomet. As Baphomet tried to back away, he said to me, "H--hey now, Stormy! Don't do anything you might regret!"

I cracked my knuckles in response and said, "What, like dick-punching the asshole who trapped me in a computer for a week and tricked me into thinking I'd been there for years? You're right, I would regret that." I glanced behind him and smiled. "After all, I wouldn't want to deprive her of the fun."

Baphomet glanced behind him in horror just in time for Honey Trap to spray him with her paralysis perfume, kick him in the back of the head and say, "That's for tricking me into thinking I was a villain."

I followed suit with the dick-punch I promised and looked at Honey Trap with a smile. "July 16th, 2019."

Honey Trap wrapped her arms around me and purred, "The day we got married," before yanking me in for a kiss.


jardanovic t1_ixwwkyx wrote

"Uh, everyone? Could we have your attention for a minute?"

My family took a break from chowing down on Aunt Denise's signature buttermilk pie to look over at me and Lana. Instantly, my confidence shriveled up and I thought about backpedaling when Lana rested her hand on my shoulder. "I'm right here, Michelle. You can do this."

I took a deep breath and faced my assembled family again to say, "Lana and I need to tell you something--"

"Are you engaged?"

Half of the room turned to face my cousin Horatio, who rolled his eyes and fired back, "Oh come on, you know what they're like. The first time Michelle brought Lana around, I thought they were married already."

Lana coughed. "Well, yes, but--"

A chorus of congratulations and squeals of excitement drowned out the both of us. As Lana tried to get a word in, I groaned and let out a shrill whistle. As my family finally stopped talking, I said, "That's only part of the announcement. The other part is...well, this."

Lana and I nodded at each other before closing our eyes. I felt my body change, black fur growing out across my body and my skeleton changing shape. When I opened my eyes again, I was a seven foot tall werewolf and Lana had turned into a little black bat that was currently sitting on my shoulder. I smiled sheepishly at my family, who had been stunned into silence, and remarked, "I got turned into a werewolf about a month ago and Lana's a vampire."

My grandpa got out of his recliner and walked over to us with a stern expression on his face. My heart raced at the thought of my grandpa turning against me. He looked me right in the eye and let out a long, frustrated groan. "Do you have any idea how much money you just cost me?"

I tilted my head in confusion. "What??"

Suddenly, my dad let out a triumphant cackle and interjected, "Time to pay up, pop!"

My grandpa grumpily handed my dad a couple hundred dollars before saying to me, "I swore up and down that you'd end up with a demon, your old man said it'd be a vampire. Lo and behold, he got it right."

Lana fluttered off of my shoulder and onto my muzzle. "So, you're...not angry or whatever?"

My grandpa shrugged. "I got out of the monster huntin' vocation a lifetime ago. And even if I wasn't, it ain't my business who my granddaughter falls in love with. Even when it costs me money. Now get yourself some pie and start telling us how y'all popped the question."

I pulled my grandpa into a bear hug and said, "Thanks grandpa."

"Of course, pumpkin. Now tell us the proposal story already, damnit."


jardanovic t1_ixup855 wrote

"You! Angel!"

Destiel took a break from her reading to look behind her. Standing behind the gate to Heaven was a man in grey and white robes. Destiel sighed as she said, "Yes, Cameron? Is something wrong?"

"There's nothing here!"

Destiel rolled her eyes. "Sir, I've been here far longer than you have, I think I'd notice if Heaven was empty--"

"You know what I mean!" Cameron held up a red apple as he continued, "Look at this, this is a wax fruit! The buildings here are flat cutouts, I can't even talk to anyone else, and the streets aren't even painted in gold! I dedicated my life to eradicating all that dared to defy the will of God, and this is my eternal reward?!"

"Okay, you're upset, I understand. But I have something here that you might want to see." Destiel pulled a scroll out of her pocket and opened it up facing Cameron. "Would you like to see how Sister Pariah's doing in Hell?"

A wicked grin spread across Cameron's face. "Oh, most certainly. Show me how that damnable nun suffers."

The scroll rippled and wavered as the parchment changed to display footage from the depths of Hell. The scroll showed off a very opulent home, with fine rugs and a bed that was like a throne for the god of dreams. Sitting atop the bed was a group of about twelve to thirteen demon women, with pointed tails and horns accessorizing their sinful figures. And buried under all of them was Sister Pariah, sleeping peacefully with a smile on her face and her habit hastily tossed to the side.

Destiel abruptly closed the scroll and remarked, "You'll recall that I said you might want to see it."

Cameron looked like he was on the verge of ripping his head off as he yelled, "What the hell was that?!"

"That, sir, is the grand truth of Heaven and Hell: it's not about faith, but intent. Why you do something will always outweigh what you do. Do you know why she called herself Sister Pariah? It's because the possibility she would go to Hell for defying you was ever present in the back of her head, but she pressed on regardless. In death, she had no regrets and accepted her fate--and so she earned her reward."

"WHAT?! That's not fair! Send me to Hell! Why should that heathen be rewarded for it and not me?!"

Destiel sighed and responded, "Oh, Cameron, that reaction is precisely why you'll never leave Heaven. Your life's work wasn't some noble crusade. It was a pathetic attempt at brute forcing your way into paradise, a spiritual intimidation campaign. One you have proven you'd abandon the fruits of the minute you didn't get what you wanted. So you got this: the facetious man's Heaven. Hope you can learn to enjoy the taste of wax."

Destiel then willed the clouds to bury the gate within them as Cameron screamed and banged on the gates to no avail.