Interlude 23B – Grandstand (Summus Proelium)

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Okay, this certainly hadn’t gone the way Setrea expected it to. Yes, she had known that simply injecting her stolen knock-out drug into the obviously evil boy without waiting for his sister to talk him down would be controversial. But she certainly hadn’t expected it to make the overall situation worse. Why wouldn’t his zombies fall down when he wasn’t around to actively control them? Wasn’t that how it worked with everything else? Why would his suddenly be completely different?

All those thoughts and more ran through her mind while Broadway was kneeling in front of her brother’s body, shaking him almost violently while shouting for him to wake up. But Setrea already knew that wouldn’t do any good. The drug she had injected him with was too potent. That was the point, after all. He was supposed to stay asleep. And now… well, now they had an even bigger problem than before. If there was no way to wake him up and make him shut off the zombies, this place was going to turn into a massacre.

Pack had turned away from the window, looking straight at Grandstand herself. “We have to do something. Paintball’s team is getting as many of those people out as they can, but they can’t really stop those monsters for very long. If they can all teleport and just keep running under Jason’s ‘kill everything in sight’ orders, this… this could be really bad.” She paused briefly before adding, a bit pointedly, “That is, if you’re not just about to run away.” 

“It’s my fault those things are still a problem,” Setrea shot back immediately. “I might not have the rock solid moral standing that a thief from La Casa has, but I’m not about to walk away from a bunch of innocent people being slaughtered, either. We all have our lines.” 

“I don’t really care what your line is,” Broadway put in abruptly, looking up from the boy as she finally gave up on waking him.  “All I care about is stopping those things before my brother ends up being responsible for a fucking massacre.” 

“What about those gems attached to him?” Setrea asked pointedly, staring at the four-inch-wide ruby in the middle of his chest, as well as the smaller black, two blue, two green, and one amber-colored stones under his throat and against his shoulders, hips, and over his navel, respectively. “What if those are keeping the zombies going or… something?” 

“I tried to take them off,” Broadway started. “But they wouldn’t bu–” She was cut off abruptly, as the red stone began to glow. In the same moment, the boy’s hand snapped up to close around her throat tightly. Recoiling and choking a bit, Broadway blurted a weak, “Stop! What–thought–thought you said he’d–” She abruptly teleported to one side, before slumping over to hold her own throat. “Thought you said he’d be unconscious for hours!” 

Before Grandstand could reply, she felt something fly through the air at her from behind. Several somethings, in fact. Spinning that way, she ducked and twisted, forcing two of the objects to miss her, though the third hit her arm and stayed there. It was an amber stone, like the one attached to Jason’s stomach. It stayed locked against her arm, even as she went to grab it. Yanking hard accomplished nothing aside from pulling painfully on her own skin. 

“Oh, he is,” a voice spoke up. A figure stood there, near the hole they had all climbed up through. She was clearly female, in her mid-teens and wearing what looked like a long red raincoat and a black cloth mask that left her mouth and chin exposed, along with dark goggles. She raised a hand to point at them, and Grandstand could see five different rings there, one on each finger. The ring on her thumb had a yellow/amber stone on it, the one on her index finger was blue, then red, then green, and finally a black one sat on her pinkie. It was the red one that glowed then, which was matched by another glow from the red stone on Jason’s chest. 

“But that doesn’t mean he’s useless,” the girl half-snarled. With that, her hand snapped to one side, and Jason abruptly lunged to his feet before throwing himself at Pack. The La Casa Touched was taken by surprise, falling sideways with the boy on top of her. Her lizard-animals rushed to intercede, but were cut off as the fire-zombie from downstairs abruptly appeared in a rush of flames and ash, forcing them to recoil. 

Grandstand, for her part, immediately focused on Manifesting Alistae in order to push everyone’s attention away from her so she could deal with this little girl quickly and decisively. Yet, even as she tried that, the woman felt a sudden rush of intense pain in her head that made her double over with a yelp. The amber stone that had attached itself to her arm and refused to be removed was glowing. 

“Yeah, I wouldn’t try that if I was you.” There was obvious amusement in the girl’s voice. She showed her hand, where the matching ring was also gleaming brightly. “Try to use your powers without my permission, and bad things happen. That’s what my yellow stones do. It’s pretty fun, huh? I mean, for me. Who really cares about you, honestly?”

Pack was still struggling under the taller, stronger boy as he tried to choke her. The lizards were trying to spread out to get around the zombie so they could get to her, but weren’t having much luck. And Grandstand apparently couldn’t use her power with the damn stone attached to her arm. Well, power or no power, she wasn’t helpless. Immediately, she brought one of her pistols up and took aim. In another second, she would end thi– 

“Jennica?!” The shout made Setrea stop, as Broadway pointed at the other girl. “Is–is that you?” 

The name made the girl in question start a bit, clearly taken by surprise. Gaze snapping that way, she blurted, “Wh–do I know you? Wait… what?” For the first time since she had revealed herself, the figure seemed taken aback and uncertain. “Who the fuck are you?” 

Pivoting, Broadway sent a blast of concentrated sound toward Pack and Jason. It struck the boy, knocking him off her while giving Pack a chance to roll out of the way. Instantly, her gorilla-lizard positioned himself in front of her, snarling at the zombie, Jason himself, and the masked girl who was apparently behind all this. Jennica. Whoever that was. 

“Fuck it,” Setrea muttered, taking aim once more. Whatever was going on here, they could figure it out once she made sure this girl wasn’t a threat.

Jennica, however, abruptly snapped without looking at her, “I wouldn’t do that if I was you. See the black stones?” At those words, the one just under Jason’s throat began to glow with a purplish light as he stood half-slumped with his eyes closed, like a robot or something that had been turned off. There was also another one attached to Pack’s arm, where Jennica had apparently thrown it at the same time as when she had hit Grandstand with the yellow one. 

“Any injury you try to inflict on me, happens to everyone with those stones instead,” the girl informed them snidely. “So go ahead, shoot me. See if I care.” 

Okay, well this was getting more complicated by the second. Apparently Jason wasn’t responsible for this whole thing. He was being… what, controlled by the stones that were attached to him? Stones that came from this girl, Jennica. Setrea couldn’t activate either of her Manifestations through the blinding pain that came when she tried, and any attempt to actually hurt this girl would just be passed off to Jason and Pack. In short, the whole situation was a fucking mess. Worse, she was still no closer to being able to interrogate whichever of these two knew something about the other person who was vying for a spot on the Scions. Setrea might have preferred not to let a bunch of innocent people get slaughtered for nothing, but her main goal here was to find out who murdered Jolene. So far, she knew it was someone who was trying to get in with Pencil and Cup, and that those two were running some sort of contest. The person behind the fire-zombies was another part of it, and they had to have interacted with the other person. The person she was really after. She didn’t care if that ended up being Jason, this Jennica girl, or some third suddenly-revealed mastermind. Whoever it was, she was getting some damned answers out of them. One way or another. 

“It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?” the girl was gloating. “Anything that gets hit with a black stone takes all the damage that was supposed to hit me. You get a yellow stone, you don’t get to use your powers without a fuckload of pain. Red stone, I get to control you. Wanna know what the blue and green stones do? Keep pushing me and you’ll find out.” 

“Jennica,” Broadway was saying while taking a step that way, “you need to stop. What the hell are you trying to do? What did you do to your brother?” 

“My brother?” the other girl gave a short, barked laugh. “Obviously, you don’t know me very well after all. He’s not my brother, he’s just some guy who lived with the same family I lived with. He’s nobody. Except for my ticket into the big leagues. The Scions wanna see someone do something special? How do you think you’re going to react when I pull off a massacre like this and manage to blame someone else for it? It’s perfect, and there’s no way any other dipshit’s gonna top it.” 

Other dipshit. Setrea instantly zeroed in on that. This girl knew something about her competition. She could tell her something about who he really was. 

“You really think we’re just gonna let you do that?” Pack demanded while clearly keeping a wary eye on the zombie, who was just standing there as though awaiting new instructions. “I don’t care who you think you are, you don’t get to murder a stadium full of people just to show off for a bunch of other psychopaths. And Jason can’t take the blame when we tell people it was you.” 

“Well darn,” Jennica sarcastically lamented while kicking at the floor, “if you’re gonna ruin my fun like that, I guess I’ve got no choice…” She looked up then, a smile spreading across the exposed lower portion of her face. “I’ll just have to kill all of you.” 

In that instant, the amber stone on Jason’s chest glowed, as two more clouds of ashes suddenly flew into the room. They reformed quickly into a couple more fire-zombies, one of which threw itself toward Broadway, while the other went toward Setrea. 

So, sure, things weren’t great. She couldn’t use her power, and she doubted this thing would care about being shot. None of them had cared that much before, and they probably weren’t going to start now. Worse, shooting the bitch herself would apparently only end in hurting her own… well, allies was a bit of a strong word, but still. They were working together, and Setrea didn’t really like the idea of hurting them. Especially when there was no guarantee that it would accomplish anything. Now there were three zombies, a girl who couldn’t be hurt, and the innocent guy she was apparently puppeting somehow. Who, for the record, was unconscious and had no chance of fighting back for himself.

In short, things could have been better. 

An instant later, just as Setrea was taking aim at the knee of the zombie who was coming for her, in an attempt to at least slow it down, a small form rocketed up out of the hole leading downstairs and planted itself against the ceiling. Or rather, himself.

“Hi, guys!” Paintball announced, seemingly cheerfully, while standing upside down. The zombies, the puppeted Jason, and Jennica had all stopped short to look that way reflexively. “Sorry it took me so long to get up here, you would not believe the traffic. Oh, and the part where I had to stop and listen to your evil plan so I knew what was going on.” He added that with a thumbs up toward Jennica, which was accompanied by a purple thumbs up that appeared in the middle of his chest. Upside down so it could be seen properly, of course. Which was followed by a slightly awkward moment as the boy slowly turned his hand around so that his thumb would be pointed up as well. 

For her part, the evil little girl giggled. It came off sounding more than a little unhinged. “Oh, goody, it’s you. You think you’re really funny, huh? You know how fast I’ll get accepted by Pencil if I bring you in so they can play with you? They might make me second-in-command.”

“Jennica!” Broadway blurted, still keeping one hand raised toward the zombie who had been coming toward her, just in case he started moving again.  “Would you stop and look at what you’re doing?! Why would you want to join the Scions? Why would you want to hurt your brother and blame him for–for this?! What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

Clearly glaring that way, the girl snarled, “Okay, I don’t know why you think saying my name like we’re supposed to be friends will suddenly make me see the light and turn this whole thing into a great big Care Bear hug pile or something, but knock it off. I don’t know you. I don’t care about you. I don’t care about any of you. I’ve been treated like shit from the moment I was born. My parents didn’t want me, nobody wanted me. Well, you know what? I don’t want them either. You? These other people, the idiot up on the ceiling, every fucking person in this stadium? You can all go to hell. It’s time for me to get mine. Fuck all of you.” 

Before Setrea, Broadway, or anyone else could respond to that, Paintball piped up. “Yeah, that’s about what I figured.” He clearly used blue paint on his shoes, springing himself forward and over the girl’s head before landing in front of her. “I wish you weren’t evil. We could’ve teamed up, you know? Come on, think about it. You’ve got all those different color rings connected to those different stones you throw around? And they all do something different based on the color? Yellow, blue, red, green, black. You’re even using most of the same colors I do, it would’ve been perfect. We could’ve had so much fun together.” 

“Ehhhh,” Jennica drawled out, “I think we can still have fun together.” With that, she brought her hand up. A red stone appeared in the air, clearly projected out of the matching ring on her hand even as she sent it flying right at Paintball. 

An assortment of shouted warnings went out, even as Paintball himself dove sideways. The stone corrected to follow him, but Setrea was already acting. Pistol extended, she fired once, nailing the stone in mid-air and shattering it just before the thing would have caught up with the boy. 

Unfortunately, no sooner had she done that, then her entire body exploded in pain, making her drop the gun and double over with cry. She dimly heard Jennica taunting her by saying something about being able to control the amber stone manually too, then caught the sound of Paintball saying something. 

The pain abruptly stopped, as Jennica turned to the boy. “I’m sorry, what did you say? The screaming was a little distracting.” 

From where he was lying on the floor, Paintball repeated, “I said, that’s far enough. I only needed you to take a couple steps forward.” Just as the girl was clearly processing that, he gave a loud, sharp whistle.

Instantly, something slammed up through the floor directly below Jennica’s feet. The floor itself broke away instantly, giving Setrea and the others enough of a glimpse of the underside of it (what would have been the ceiling of the room below) to see that it had clearly been painted pink. They also saw what had broken through using that pink circle. It was a narrow, six foot tall ruby and silver box, which had captured the girl inside, cutting her off from sight. They could hear the girl, screaming at them as she pounded the sides of the box. 

“Boy,” Alloy announced while rising into the room behind it, “she’s pleasant, isn’t she?” 

The two partners exchanged a high five, all while Jason and the zombies remained completely still. Paintball, turning away from Alloy, explained, “We found the room where she locked up a couple of the park managers.” 

Nodding, Alloy added, “Would you believe we only found them because I thought I saw a raccoon waving at me? Anyway, the guys in there said that it seemed like she could only activate the stones she was looking at. So, in there, she can’t look at any of them.” 

The pounding and shouting from inside the box abruptly stopped, before Jennica’s voice called, “Maybe I can’t see, but I can still hear. And that’s not quite right.  Remember the green ring? It lets me go aaaanywhere one of my other green stones is. In other words–”

In the midst of that spiel, Setrea had already snapped her pistol up. She fired twice in rapid succession before the girl could say anything else. Each shot skimmed either side of the unconscious boy who stood at attention, shattering the green stones there. The shots drew blood, but not that much. Mostly she simply grazed the boy. Even Broadway, who started to shout out in shock and anger when she saw Setrea pointing the gun that way, stopped short and stared. 

“Damn,” Paintball put in, “you’re a good shot.” 

A slight pause followed that, before Jennica let out a loud, frustrated scream. Then there was a sudden flash of bright green light from within the box. When no other sound followed, Alloy opened a hole in it, then transformed the box back into two marbles, revealing nothing inside. Jennica had teleported away somewhere. She was gone. And with that, the various colored stones all vanished from Setrea, Jason, and the others, while Jason himself collapsed back to the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut. He was still unconscious. 

“I uhh, guess that means she’s gone?” Pack managed, while touching one of her lizards protectively. “She must’ve had another green stone somewhere else.” 

“Fuck!” Setrea blurted, spinning to punch a nearby wall hard enough to bruise her hand. “Damn it! She was my best shot! She was my best fucking shot to find out who the Scions’ other contest recruit is! I have to find that piece of shit!” 

Broadway, who had fallen to her knees next to her brother to check on him, spoke up. “I’ll help you.” She looked up, meeting Setrea’s gaze. “I’ll help you find her and this guy you’re looking for. You help me stop her from joining the Scions, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we find the guy you need too.”   

Just as Grandstand was about to respond to that, the sound of many police sirens, accompanied by several helicopters, filled the air. She glanced sideways toward the window, seeing several Star-Touched already starting to fill the stadium below. “Fine,” Setrea agreed. “But first, we should get out of here. 

“Something tells me those guys won’t be in the mood to hear us say we were trying to help.” 

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  1. Well there’s a little twist, it wasn’t actually Jason’s fault after all! I suppose he did start to tell them that just before being distracted by Broadway knowing his name, huh? Hmm, I guess we’ll see how that all goes ahh… when the next arc starts! But first we’ll have a donator interlude, which you’ll see soon! But until then, I hope you’ll do me the biggest favor by taking the time to boost this story on Top Web Fiction by clicking here! Thanks so much, and your tags are: Alloy, Broadway, Grandstand, Jason Rafferty, Jennica Rafferty, Okay Would Someone Please Go Check On That House And See If The Orb Is Subletting The Basement Or Something?, Paintball, Setrea Keve, Thank God Jennica Hasn’t Figured Out That She Should Only Monologue After The Other People Are Already Dead. Or Never., Trove

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah this was some Saturday morning cartoon villain bullshit. By God, you need to stop exploiting the monologue “trope” whenever a situation comes up in which the protagonists should realistically be fucked. Incorporating self-awareness doesn’t make you any less guilty of this. Horrifically lazy writing. I’m appalled. I bet people are going to eat this shit up, too.

    You know what, I don’t like the choice to make the one puppeteering the guy his other adoptive sister who also happens to have powers. At all. But I’m not going to comment on it further since it’s far from the worst this chapter had to offer.

    Honestly, what the fuck did I just read.

    And why didn’t they at least try to knock her out or do something to not leave a power they don’t understand unattended? Caging her in based on some vague notions of what they thought she wouldn’t be able to do obviously wasn’t a good plan. Do better.

    And about that reversal at the start there, maybe don’t incessantly respond to every comment suggesting the zombie guy is evil insisting that he might not be, BEFORE you actually drop the twist. That way it could have surprised someone with more than 2 braincells.

    It’s like this author lacks the professionalism to let the text be text and feels the need to clamp down on anyone that could burst his little bubble.


    1. Dude, if I’d known banning you from Discord for insulting and attacking everyone in there in every single conversation like a pathetic troll with no life would make you lunge on the very next chapter that came out to spew your anger all over it, I… still would’ve banned you. But I might have had popcorn ready for your wild tantrum right there. That was some fun stuff.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Haha you have a discord? Yeah it’s probably an echo chamber filled with snowflakes you were able to reel in with your agenda. But that’s neither here nor there. If you’re going to dodge criticism, I’d at least like you to be more professional about it… But that’s a huge ask, I know.


      2. lmao, my agenda. And you used the word ‘snowflake.’ You’re a troll, but you’re an adorable one. Like one of those tiny little troll dolls with the long, crazy blue, pink, or whatever hair. Seriously, are you sure you don’t spend most of your time in the bottom of a teenage girl’s backpack in the 1990’s, or stuffed into a box in the attic?

        Anyway, you’re hilarious, but that’s enough. Go have your tantrum somewhere else.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Dude. This is a girl who wanted attention so badly she decided to join the Scions. Of COURSE she’d monologue???

      And we did already get the suggestion that the zombie guy wasn’t evil, he started saying about not having a choice before Grandstand shot him, duh.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. Hi Engine, it’s me Kinja. Just wanted to say that the best way to get this “terrible” book to stop being recommended to you is to ignore it. You having multiple engagements on it makes search engines more likely to show “terrible” works like this one, and I think you would hate that. So please just stop reading if you hate this.

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    4. Well, seeing as there have already been proven examples of powers altering the psychology of people, who is to say that the powers don’t make them more likely to monolog? Additionally, as the other comment stated, she desires attention, and monologs certainly causes you to gather it.

      What’s wrong with the other sister being the puppeteer? It was already foreshadowed that something fishy was going on with the zombie user, since those actions would go quite against his described personality. The specifics do not have anything inherently wrong with them, it’s not its something that would be completely unexpected. If she found out about her brother having a useful power and she wanted to get the attention of the Scions, it would logically follow that she use him, especially since, as she mentioned, she could easily foist all of the blame onto him.

      They didn’t try to knock her out because if you were paying attention during the chapter she mentioned that the black stones make it so that other people get injured instead of her. Containment is the only option they had because anything else had a high chance of injuring civilians. Even if she doesn’t mention any civilians having the black gems, that doesn’t mean that they do not exist. Additionally, all of this was set up very quickly, likely in only 2 or 3 minutes. Even assuming that the line of sight requirement held true for the black stones as well, it might be like with the green ones where only one of the black stones needs to be within sight for all of them to work. They also have no useful way of knocking her out once she is in there because any gap they make to do that she can use to get gems out.

      The foreshadowing in the story is enough to determine that something is not right and that this behavior is not normal for the brother. It does not provide enough information for guessing the exact details about the twist before it happens, and neither does the author reminding people that his behavior is not consistent with known information.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hey, thanks for pointing all that out. You are exactly right. And yeah, I’m still not exactly sure how they were supposed to ‘knock him out’ given what they knew and had with them, but hey. The person in question has been banned for a different disgusting comment they left which has been deleted anyway.

        As for Discord, the link is at the top of the Art, Discussion, Wiki, and More page, but you can also find it right here. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, the troll was wrong on at least one account: Izzy doesn’t suck. What has she to do with this debacle?

        But seriously, this “evil plan” was wild and I’d have liked a straight play with Jason as the culprit after we already learned that there was an OP puppetteer behind the lava liches who guarded Luciano’s house. Now the OP puppetteer has an even more powerful puppetteer behind him, who is only doing her evil plan to join the Scions, who thus effectively used her as a pawn.

        Do I sum it up correctly when I say that her plan was: “I am planting clues with my foster sibling to make it look like he is responsible for the killing. I am controlling him only when I am near him, and can actually see him… so I will not let him out of sight, except for the part where he meets with my other foster sister for a casual meeting on her request, right before we commit the pre-planned attack, so I told him to ditch her asap and not give anyone any clues that we have assembled a crowd of lava-lich corpses and smuggled them into the stadium by mind-controlling the managers who we also made tell the night guards to look away as we smuggle the corpses in and make our preparations, but then we lock the managers into a supply room without anyone noticing on the day where they are supposed to manage everything. Anyway, my foster brother obediently followed that order while not in my sight (luckily) and now we’re gonna stay in the stadium, kill every attendee (but not the managers who know all about me, so we will kill them last because no heroes could possibly show up early and threaten my secret or be possibly able to counter my OP powers). Eventually, the managers do get killed however, and then I will let the Startouched kill him (because there are no Startouched able to capture him alive somehow) and then I play the hapless victim who miraculously survived all the violence and the fact that my brother was the killer will not be seen as anything else but a strange coincidence, and anyone who knows of my involvement is dead.”

        “But when my foster puppet gets incapacitated way too early during the plan by the superheroes who then suddenly totally panick because the lava liches are still under my control and run amok, and I could still get away with my evil plan except I have to produce a few less bodies (the managers asap, and then my brother last), while I could still stay incognito and destroy all evidence I am deeply involved in “his” terrorist attack? That is totally the point where I abandon the plan, reveal myself, and kill the heroes.”

        That summary was about right, was it? In essence? Yeah, I think the troll was a bit too offensive towards the author in the comments that I see above, but he was somewhat right to find this evil plan insulting the readers. In comparison, even Cup and Pencil’s first evil plan was quite good.

        And then, Jason was acting strangely for someone who is either puppettereed, or who has a temporary free will: First, when facing La Casa, he threatens them and tells them to leave, then he is surprised Broadway knows him personally. If he is temporarily free willed, he should call out for help because he’s forced to kill people. If he is under her control, why and how did she make him into her mouthpiece? What he says in the InterludeA-chapter makes no more sense given what we know as of this B-chapter.

        Yeah sorry: Grammar and Suspension are top-notch again, and the Plot is D-.


      2. Onyavar, you are entirely incorrect on multiple points, though some of that involves information you don’t/didn’t know about yet. Straight up while going through your post in order…

        1: She doesn’t have to always be near him because she used threats against others to keep him in line when he wasn’t directly in her sight, as well as a constant link to his phone so she could hear what he was saying and keep track of where he was.

        2: He agreed to meet KD because he was going to try to find a way to tell her to call the police. Jennica let him because she was toying with him right up until he was about to, then called him away.

        3: The zombies can teleport, it wasn’t hard to smuggle them in. They just needed a storage room to keep them at until it was time to spread out and attack. All that required was getting into a couple secure places, easy enough with her body control (not mind control) stones. So I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that they had to tell night guards to look away or anything.

        4: Again, threats against others (the other foster kids) if anything happened to her kept him from turning against her when out of her sight.

        5: Who says she couldn’t have killed the managers later on during the attack, exactly? Of course Star-Touched could have turned up early, but why would they go anywhere near the room where the managers were tied up rather than staying out on the main field where all the zombies were? She only left the room they were in because Broadway/Grandstand/Pack showed up. So I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that it would’ve been hard for her to watch a bunch of Star-Touched fight the zombies after enough damage was done and then kill the managers in that other room they would have no reason to head straight for before leaving.

        6: She didn’t need to kill Jason, she already made it clear that he had to let himself be arrested. Because again, threat to other people.

        7: She ‘abandoned’ the plan specifically because Paintball showed up and she got the idea to present ‘him’ to Pencil and Cup as her new way in. You know, given how much they hate Paintball. Which makes that a better plan than random violence. She realized that Paintball was in the stadium and figured she could use those three to draw ‘him’ in, considering the history ‘he’ has of working with Pack. It wasn’t hard to figure out they were there together, and after losing sight of where Paintball ‘himself’ was, it wasn’t hard to figure out that ‘he’ would be heading up to where the other group was. Thus the new plan was to get the three of them under control, then use them to capture Paintball.

        8: Jason ‘threatened’ them because he was afraid they would A: make Jennica carry through her threat to kill the other foster kids, and/or B: become controlled by her themselves. Plus, as far as he knows, they’re villains, so why would he trust them to be there to help?

        9: What on Earth do you mean ‘why and how did she make him into her mouthpiece’? It was shown in this chapter that she can control people’s bodies with her stones. That’s how (along with the threats to the other foster people I mentioned, but you didn’t need to know that to know that she controlled him with her stone). And she was setting him up to take the fall for the zombie thing to get herself into the Scions. That’s the why, which was also stated within this chapter.

        10: How does what he says in the previous chapter not make sense in this one? He started to tell them that he didn’t have a choice (both because of the threats and because if he didn’t follow instructions, she would just take control of his body anyway), and then Grandstand knocked him out before he could either start to explain more or Jennica could stop him.

        So sorry, but no, that is not the right summary in essence. Not even close, really. Which again, is a bit understandable given you didn’t have information like the fact that she threatened others. But you still seem to have chosen the *worst* possible interpretation of the information you did have, in every single case, in order to make it seem as bad as possible.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I just figured Jason didn’t know she could control him until she forced him to start setting this up, by which time it was too late.

        In retrospect, though Jennica not being in the room with Jason and controlling him directly during the entire attack does seem a little odd, but I trust the author to have all that figured out.

        In pretty much every story, just because we don’t (yet) know everything that’s going on doesn’t mean there’s a plot hole. Now if the story is complete and something still doesn’t make sense, then there might be an issue, but mid-scene? Wait for the reveal.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. lightdefender, you have a point, but I thought this scene has progressed far enough to make my points known why I think the action is not composed in a way that totally makes sense. I like many premises of this story enough to care about that the rest of the story doesn’t devolve into an illogical mess. … I hope that makes sense: I’m not simply raining into the author’s story because it is so terrible, but because I hope Cerulean can further improve their storytelling – not by doing after-action backsplaining and retconning, but by proper foreshadowing and building each action on top of each other. Story elements that are added at a later point, should not invalidate earlier story developments.

        To that end, an author should take into consideration multiple angles of their story (from each characters view-point, ideally) to ground the story. It is okay that madpeople act irrationally (like Jennika here), or that blackmail victims don’t think straight (like Jason there). And that teenage heroes don’t cover every logical angle before rushing into a situation (as Paintball and her friends do). But even people like Jennika are not entirely crazy, she has a stated goal and she follows her own MO. Powers aside, Jennica is a technologically adept master mind, has never been able to get a deep connection with her family, knows exactly how to manipulate the people close to her, operates methodically from the shadows to cover all her bases in order not to get connected to what she does, doesn’t care about leaving witnesses alive, likes toying with other people and revealing her evil plans, and doesn’t take unnecessary risks where she might get revealed. That’s a strange profile.

        Just let me review what the reveal of Jennika’s existence means for one example previous chapter:

        At first, it was Luciano, being a super-powerful lava-lich, attacking Paintball’s group in 23-05. Badass action scene, lots of mystery leaves the reader baffled. (This also entirely aborted further exploration of the Ministry documents, as they did up to 23-03 – but Avantguard is justified in focussing on the biggest threats, so this is understandable.)

        On the second reveal, we had Jason behind the attacks, travelling all throughout the city and being the one who created the lava-liches. His motives were unclear, but as a reader I could easily label him as a psychopath. The 23-05 fight against Luciano still made full sense after the Jason reveal.

        After the Jennika reveal we learned that Jason and Jennika did all of this together. By which I mean, they were both present in the 23-05 fight against Luciano (Jason controlling Lava-Lich Luciano, Jennika controlling Jason), and on top Cerulean has revealed here in the comments that Paintball is a priority target to go after for Jennika. Paintball being the Scion’s hated enemy is not a new development at this point.

        So, hum. If Jennika wasn’t present in the whole fight scene, and it was just Jason doing his own experiment, what was Jason’s motivation to kill the Startouched group? Or, if Jennika was present there, and controlled Jason, why didn’t she go after Paintball, right back then and there? This was a prime opportunity to subvert an entire group of Startouched to her side – just embed control stones in the Startouched she wanted, and have them kill the ones she couldn’t use. Heck, at least she could have had Jason summon all his other lava-liches to the location. And if Luciano was the very first body the siblings had, then there were still the old rodent zombies.

        And let’s not forget the 23-11 fight. Again, a single (!) lava-lich as the front stooge, and Jennika and Jason nearby, controlling the corpse. Same situation as with Luciano.
        Was Jason there on his own, “pulling his punches” to not harm people, but still trying to impress Jennika? From the way all of the lava-lich on-screen fights are described, I could get convinced that he tried to reign in the deadly attacks, to have lots of close misses. Does it make entirely sense? Still not.


      5. Thanks to you, Cerulean for the ten points in which you dismissed my previous concerns on the stadium attack. Most of your arguments make lots of sense. Like #3: Until now, I had believed Jason can only control them where he can see them, instead of summoning them telepathically over large distances. And I said myself, with regards to #5, that she could have killed the managers later. But also that NOT killing them was her downfall, and she had all reason to not let a single of them escape, and the attack had begun so they were of no use any longer. Instead of killing them, she left them unobserved to immediately act against her.
        For the last point, I don’t think I interpreted your story in the worst way possible. The troll from above had a much worse take.

        The “blackmail with threats of violence” is what brushed my pelt in the wrong direction the most. My own repeated counter-argument is that controlling other people is hard, and controlling other people to commit mass-murder (or to go along with setting up mass-murder) is especially hard. At some point, the psyche of a regular person (like Jason apparently) would snap and mere threats would no longer have effect. (Yeah, so she will kill my family unless I kill a dozen more families in my city who are just like mine? Do I really have no other choice but obeying, like when she calls me away for the mass murder event?

        Together, these two siblings have committed a lot of murder already. 23-03 made it very clear, that they have been killing people in the streets, and there were other mentionings of a bodycount in 23-12/13, right? Specifically, it was Jason who killed these people. Sure, under duress. Probably under direct red-orb control. But what even was the point in letting Jason meet KD at the mall? How was Jennifer so certain that he would answer her call?
        How was Jason able to believe that his sister wouldn’t kill his family anyway, once he confessed that killing everyone in a packed stadium was his own plan? After he voluntarily went to Breakwater and was no longer useful? A dozen more kills are nothing for someone who caused the deaths of thousands already.

        In Jason’s place, knowing what he had set up together with Jennika, and knowing how his situation was THAT hopeless and he’d soon be used to kill not just a few more couple innocents, but thousands of people?
        It’s as easy as a handwritten note “KD, I am surveilled by a Felltouched, we need to switch our phones and I will call the police and the Ten Towers hotline with your phone from the restroom. Don’t pick up my phone when someone calls.” Then do exact that, and trust that the police and Startouched are quicker than Jessica can follow up on her threats. Potential desaster? Yep. More disastrous than the killings they did before? Maybe. More disastrous than killing a stadium full of people? Nope.


      6. Thanks for taking the time to read through that whole thing and respond. And yeah, you’re right, it’s not the WORST interpretation, for sure. I mostly just meant that there were reasonable explanations that didn’t rely on… interpreting it negatively, that’s all. But fair.

        You’re right that at some point it would have become impossible to control Jason that way, it just hadn’t *yet*. Remember, Jennica may be a psycho with a lot of power, but she’s new to this. She didn’t think that far ahead and it hadn’t gotten to the point where Jason rebelled no matter the threat.

        As for why she let Jason go to the dinner thing, she was fucking with him and wanted to tease him with the chance to let someone know the truth. But she followed and kept enough control from a distance to make sure he didn’t. She let him see her so he knew that SHE would know if he tried anything, then called him away for the… ‘job’ before he could adjust. Yeah, she watched him until it was clear he was about to try to pass a note or in some way tell KD what was going on, then showed herself (only to him) and called his phone to have him pulled away.

        I understand fully that this wasn’t your cup of tea, and I appreciate you taking the time and effort to explain your feelings.


      7. Onyavar, a likely reason that she let the managers live was because the zombies were needed more elsewhere. Having as many zombies in the stadium would increase the amount of casualties, as it reduces the chance for any to escape and makes it so that more can be killed before the Star-Touched are able to respond. After the plan was given away, having as many zombies as possible be in the main stadium area was still very important, as they were needed to deal with Paintball and the gang. The managers were simply less important than dealing with the mob of Touched.


  3. “Maybe I can’t see, but I can still hear. And that’s not quite right. Remember the green ring? It lets me go aaaanywhere one of my other green stones is. In other words–”

    She’s very new at this, what a noob mistake to make.

    “Then there was a sudden flash of bright green light from within the box.”

    How’d we see the flash from a box with no holes? The box didn’t let her see out so how’d the light escape? Unless it’s really weird light, like visible x-rays or whatever, that’s actually a really cool explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

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