"Yes, yes, I know it's all very exciting, but right now I need you to listen to me very carefully."\n\n"You're a cat. You're talking."\n\n"SILENCE!" The cat suddenly grows larger, becoming the size of a large dog, still sitting on the bed. Its eyes glow with a dim red light. "I'm not a normal cat. I need you to listen to me."\n\n"But you're a-"\n\n"I said silence!" It expands further, now as large as you are. The light in its eyes becomes a fire and you find yourself quelled by its intensity. It is clear whatever is happening (and you won't rule out that this is a dream induced by the trauma of your day) is not normal, but complaining doesn't seem to be restoring normalcy.\n\n"You're quiet now? Good. I have come to give you a very special power. The power to become a Champion."\n\n"A Champion?"\n\n"Yes. You are chosen. I will explain, but there is no time, and you have to come with me. Right now."\n\nYou are sure you're dreaming. But if you are, this is at least an interesting dream. Might as well play along. You square your shoulders and face the cat, looking up at its glowing gaze. \n\n[["Okay, I'll bite. Lead the way."|Out on the Street]]
<i>Nothing ventured, nothing gained.</i>\n\nYou tell yourself this knowing full well what you're about to do is a bad idea. It doesn't stop you, as you gather up your stuff and toss out your food to head over to the now-abandonded table where Gary sits. He's good looking, not as clean cut as the other people at the table. He looks like he might be the type to be in a band, or maybe takes drama classes he's kind of self-conscious about.\n\n"Hello?" \n\nHe looks up at you, confused. \n\n"You're Gary, right?"\n\n"Um ... yeah."\n\n"Hi. I'm Mandy. Uh ... Rachel said I should speak to you?"\n\nThere was a long pause. The kind of pause that falls right before a storm breaks, or right after a car crashes. The kind of pause where the world waits to react, poised on the edge of a knife. Gary just looks confused. The moment begins to stretch. You begin to sweat. You know it's not a good look for you.\n\n[[Oh no.|Reaction to Gary]]
<i>Oh great, you thought of the world's most boring fact.</i>\n\n"I actually go by Mandy," you tell the teacher. \n\n"That's no problem," Ms. Moon tells you, writing on the sheet she's holding. "I'm allergic to roses, so I know how bad allergies can be."\n\nMs. Moon moves on, though you can hear snickering. You turn. It's Emmy, the girl you sat next to in history class last year. It seems your prayers that she might be dragged away by wolves or dispatched by a bus fell on deaf ears. You know that she's laughing at you, because this isn't the first time she's done it. You glance back just enough to glare, but then turn away as if to shield yourself from what you know is coming next.\n\n"Hey Manatee," Emmy says loud enough only for the people around you to hear clearly. "It must be hard to be allergic to pussy when that's what you crave. Stuffing your face with food isn't gonna fix that." There's laughing from some of the other girls with her, some girls you know and some you don't. \n\nSome things never change, and it seems some demons follow you even from one school to another. Wondering if you will ever be free of the nickname and the scorn you've carried around since third grade you try to sink further into your desk and stare into the endless white expanse of your notebook.\n\n[[Eventually, despite its best efforts to stick around, time moves forward.|After School]]
"Look at the little girl cowering," you say to her, your voice rich and powerful in a way it has never been in your normal body. "Get up."\n\n"I ... I'm hurt," she says, staring up at you with wide eyes. \n\n"I said get up!" You reach down and haul her to her feet. She isn't lying about being hurt, with deep scratches on her arm, but sadly it seems like she's survive. She seems more shocked that you pulled her from the ground to standing with one hand and with zero effort.\n\n"How could you be so strong?" She asks, sounding dumb and confused.\n\n"How can you be so weak?" You ask her back, glaring at her. "You're nothing. You're lucky that I came here to destroy those things, because otherwise they would have killed you. You'd be dead and you'd deserve it because you were too busy hiding to do anything about it."\n\n"But I-"\n\n"No," you say. You press a hand against her chest and send her stumbling back. She falls onto the very bench she had been hiding behind a second earlier, sitting down hard. She begins crying as you approach her. \n\n"There's no excuse," you say. "You deserved to die, and it was only because you were lucky and I was here that I saved you. Don't forget it."\n\n[[Leaving her there sobbing, you turn and walk away, Ash struggling to catch up.|Standing in the Mirror]]
You're out of questions. No, wait, that's not true. You have one more.\n\n"You say I'm going to be transformed into some sort of Champion. What does that mean? What is going to happen to me?"\n\n"You'll be made stronger, faster, more resilient," Ash says. "You will have magical armor and weapons that take strange forms as the magic becomes more comfortable within you. It is different for every Champion."\n\nYou see a glimmer of an opportunity here. "Is it going to make me into a different person?"\n\n"It can disguise you if you so wish, yes." He stops as you near what you identify to be the local park, though you see no danger. "The enemy is here. It is time. If you wish to disguise yourself, simply think about what form you want to take." \n\nThere was a pause and then the cat grows again, larger than his normal housecat size until he was dog-sized. Suddenly there's a flash of gold around his neck. He shrinks back down and the collar drapes around him, too large to be supported by his now tiny feline head. It's a simple silver chain with a crystal bead on the end, utterly unremarkable.\n\n"Take this pendant. Put it on. And then wish to become the Champion that you need to be now. Go!"\n\nYou reach out and take the pendant. It's easily concealable, but it's weightier than you expect by looking at it. It slips around your neck with a strange warmth in the cooling night air, as though it is newly forged. You suppose magic might be warm, you have no way of knowing. But you can suddenly feel something strange inside of you, an alien feeling deep at the base of your skull, and you know what you need to do next.\n\n[[You wish to become a Champion.|Transformation Sequence!]]
Warning: This game has some scenes of bullying and harrassing language that could potentially be upsetting.\n\n[[Okay, thanks for the heads up, let's go.|New Start]]
You find a spot in the back of the class, but not so far back that the others will think of you as the girl who sits in the back of the class. No sense giving them something else to talk about. \n\nThe teacher arrives in the homeroom all blonde hair and smartly fitted jacket and skirt. She's young enough to catch the attention of the boys, something you notice and file away. She seems too perky to be anything other than a new teacher, you decide with the careful assessment of a veteran student. \n\n"Hello, everybody," she says. "My name is Ms. Moon, and I'll be your homeroom teacher this year. We'll be seeing a lot of each other, so I hope we can have a good year! You won't be in here long enough today to get to know each other, but we'll do a roll call and everyone should tell us all one fact about themselves."\n\nYou try not to sigh aloud. Other kids fail to check the same impulse. You don't bother listening to anyone else. It isn't as if any of these people are going to be your friend. This too shall pass, if you keep your head down.\n\nThe roll call quickly gets to your name. \n\n"Amanda Kedves."\n\nWhat do you even say? You should have thought of a fact before now, something innocuous, but honestly you were too busy thinking about how miserable whatever outcome you chose would probably make you.\n\n[["Here. Um ... I'm allergic to cats."|MMHR Cats]]\n\n[["Here. My favorite hobby is reading."|MMHR Books]]
<i>musical fanfare, with heavy flute and violin</i>\n\na magical girl,\nin a terrible world,\nlonging to be\nanyone \nbut her\n\neverybody says opportunity awaits\nbut all of my dreams seem so far away\npeople say these are the best years of our lives\nbut trouble seems to compound on me day by day\n\ni lose myself in mountains of story books\nhoping that a promised happy ending comes my way\nbut pages can't outrun the feeling in my heart\nthat i know is true but also that i'll never say\n\ni want to be love worthy\ni know i'll never be worthy\nplease make me worthy\nworthy of any love\n\ni'm not even picky\nliving this life is tricky\njust bring me any hope\ni'm at the end of my rope\n\nplease please\nmake me feel worthy\nof any kind of love\n\n<b>LOVE • WORTHY</b>\n\n[[Next Time|Next Episode]]\n\n
A dark room. The walls are smooth, crystaline in a way that reflects [[dozens of pinpoints of light|Outside the Room]] that make this strange place seem adrift in place and time. \n\nThere are two figures here. One is a woman, tall and forbidding, standing in front of a [[large crystal|The Seeing Stone]]. Next to her is a young man, dark haired and serious looking, nervous next to her.\n\n"Mistress, one of the chosen has awoken. What do we do?"\n\n"Our plans do not change," she says to him, not looking away from the surface before her. In the crystal is a scene of a young girl, a bright flash, and of two twisted figures disintegrating away. "This one is different. She is wounded, carrying many troubles, and might ultimately prove incapable of handling what she has been given."\n\n"Yes, Mistress..." The young man shifts on his feet. She turns to regard him, her eyes red and sharp with contempt. \n\n"But?"\n\n"The others will come. Her awakening signals the turning of the tide. They will be pulled to her by fate, and awaken in turn."\n\nThe tall woman smiles, baring a smile that looked like a threat and teeth as keen as knives. \n\n"And we shall be there to meet them. She is no leader, and without a leader they are simply weapons without a warrior to master them."\n\n"What do we do then?"\n\n"The tricky thing about weapons," she says as she strokes the glass lovingly, "is that if you give them to your enemy, they can be just as deadly when turned against you. As our new champion will soon discover."\n\n[[END|Notes]]\n
Are they stars? Is it a city? Wherever this room is, it hangs in the black void of the unknown, removed from anywhere familiar or welcoming.\n\n[[BACK|Next Episode]]
By the time you get home its fully dark, but your house remains deserted. You're used to this, and don't even feel weird about going into your house in a frilly dress and tall boots and looking like an entirely different person. Nobody will notice. Nobody will care. Except for you.\n\nThe first thing you do is go to your room, where you stand in front of the mirror and appraise yourself. You look strange, the feeling of disconnect from who you know yourself to be and how you look very strange. You're taller, thinner, and stronger. You look beautiful. Statuesque even. The outfit you're wearing is ridiculous, all ribbons and gems, but it feels right on this stranger looking at you. This is the kind of person who is worthy of such adornment. You envy the person looking in the mirror, until you realize that you are her.\n\nYou spot Ash hopping up on the bed behind you, staring at you. \n\n"You have to turn back."\n\n"What? But this is great! Why would I ever want to turn back?"\n\n"You're only allowed to use this power when there is need. If you abuse it without need, it'll lose effectiveness. Champions have lost their magic completely by abusing this power before. And the guardians who serve the champions dissipate into nothingness for choosing so poorly. I'm amazed that we're both still here after what you did tonight. You're wreckless. You're supposed to be saving people, not terrorizing them!"\n\nYou glare at him, but think his words over. "You mean if I'd not followed these rules, you'd...?"\n\n"Yes, I would die. Now please, change back, and we can talk about what happens next."\n\n"Do I get to do this again?"\n\nAsh sighs as much as you imagine a cat could actually sigh. "Unfortunately, without a doubt."\n\nYou give yourself one last look in the mirror. You look vaguely familiar, but you can't get over how unlike you you look and feel. As far as you're concerned, that's nothing but a plus. If you have to run around and play hero to be this woman again? That seems like a small price to pay. \n\nYou feel something inside you letting go as you decide to turn back and the figure before you starts to balloon out and the outfit grow into the baggy clothes you had on before, cartoonishly large on this still-expanding frame. You turn away. You don't want to see this. This is grotesque. \n\n"Okay, fine," you say with your old voice, your sad tired voice. "Tell me what comes next."\n\n[[— end chapter 1 —|End Theme Begin]]
Against your better judgment you go with your conscience. You try your best to not look scared shitless as you draw in a deep breath. \n\n<b>"WHAT DO YOU KIDS THINK YOU'RE DOING?"</b>\n\nThey all wheel around in horror, seeing you even as they fall over each other trying to get away from their little torture scene. Lucky for you, and for the cat you've put yourself on the line for, they're too busy trying not to get caught to realize that you're not anybody they should be afraid of. They bolt with the speed of a fleeing criminal, and you're left alone with the cat. \n\nYou make quick work of the chicken wire, which was secured just enough not to fall over, and the cat hesitantly walks out and looks up at you. You stare down at it. It has obviously seen better days, but its eyes are a clear, startling green color. It stops, expectantly.\n\n"I'm not going to hurt you. Go on, get out of here." The cat stays put. You toss the chicken wire aside, expecting it to run. It doesn't.\n\n"It's not my fault if you're too dumb to stay out of trouble after this. I did my part. You're on your own now."\n\n[[You turn and head home.|Amanda's House 1]]
You suddenly hear the sound of someone shushing someone else behind you. You turn. There are many pillars in the cafeteria as an architectural feature and apparently that entire table of kids was hiding behind one. As soon as you turn, they all begin laughing aloud, and spill out from behind the pillar.\n\nYou feel like you might just throw up that salad on all of them as they approach you. Your heart starts beating faster and you feel lightheaded when you realize Emmy is among their number. \n\n"What the hell is going on?" Gary asks dumbly from his chair.\n\n"Sorry," Rachel purrs to him, sitting next to him. "We had a little joke planned and you had to not be in on it."\n\n"What?"\n\nEmmy laughs as the kids all began to find their place around the table. Everyone else is effectively ignoring you, which is good because you didn't want so many people to see you cry on the second day of school. Emmy isn't so kind, though, and comes right up to you. \n\n"Aw? What? Burst your little dream bubble? Sorry, Manatee, I guess your little romance wasn't all it was cut out to be, was it? Gary's not really you're type, though. He's not into dykes." \n\nBy now everyone remembers you were there, probably because Emmy is right up in your face. They all laugh along with her. You can't tell whether to burst into tears or start swinging.\n\n[[Push her.|Push Emmy]]\n\n[[Turn and run.|Fleeing School]]
<i>musical fanfare, with heavy flute and violin</i>\n\na magical girl,\nin a terrible world,\nlonging to be\nanyone \nbut her\n\neverybody says opportunity awaits\nbut all of my dreams seem so far away\npeople say these are the best years of our lives\nbut trouble seems to compound on me day by day\n\ni lose myself in mountains of story books\nhoping that a promised happy ending comes my way\nbut pages can't outrun the feeling in my heart\nthat i know is true but also that i'll never say\n\ni want to be love worthy\ni know i'll never be worthy\nplease make me worthy\nworthy of any love\n\ni'm not even picky\nliving this life is tricky\njust bring me any hope\ni'm at the end of my rope\n\n[[<b>LOVE • WORTHY</b>|End Theme Final]]\n
<i>musical fanfare, with heavy flute and violin</i>\n\na magical girl,\nin a terrible world,\nlonging to be\nanyone \nbut her\n\n[[<b>LOVE • WORTHY</b>|End Theme 2]]\n
As you get closer, you notice there is a group of younger boys surrounding a small grey cat, which they have trapped in some hastily thrown up chicken wire. There'll all standing around as one of the kids poked at the cat with a long stick, and the cat cowered in the corner. It looks thin and mangy: probably wild, and definitely too underfed to mount much of a protest.\n\nOne of the group of kids, who so far seem to have missed your arrival completely, says to another. "C'mon, stop with the stick, this is boring. I know my dad has some black cats in the garage. We could really have some fun."\n\n"Nah," says another, "we don't want to hurt it. Those are dangerous."\n\n"Don't be such a pussy," says the first one you heard spoke, who looks slightly older and is undoubtedly the one in charge. "This thing's already screwed. If it doesn't starve to death the animal people will find it and put it down. Might as well get something out of it."\n\nYou feel sick to your stomach. You can't just walk by and let this happen. But at the same time, they haven't noticed you and there are a lot of them, even if they are much younger than you. You're pretty sure if you wanted you could sound mature enough to spook them, but if they turn on you it could be trouble.\n\n[[Break out the big girl voice. Save the cat.|Save the Cat]]\n\n[[Try to forget what you've seen and shuffle past safely.|Go Home]]
"CRYSTALINE SUNRISE BLOSSOMING!" \n\nThe pendant at your chest erupts in a bright pink light, that starts like a ball and then unfolds like the petals of a flower. It pulls you up, onto your tiptoes and then even into the air, where the light engulphs both you and your enemies. You remain frozen, suspended in the air, as the light fades from you.\n\nThe two monsters aren't so lucky. They're both trapped in what seem to be pink bubbles of light, which then begin to glow more and more red. Suddenly, just like it did on your pendant, the ball of light unfolds into petals like a flower blooming. It's accompanied by something that sounds like glass cracking, but as the light fades you notice that your enemies have been turned into crystal, frozen solid. The petals still glow, but then suddenly they wink out and disappear.\n\n[[The crystal shatters. The enemies split into hundreds of pieces that disappear before they can even fall to the ground.|The Aftermath]]
"Hmm," Ash answers. "I've never seen anybody transform to this degree before. You don't even look like yourself."\n\n"You said that I could!" You stomp your foot, and the cement path you were standing on cracks with the force. \n\n"I did," he says. "It shouldn't matter. Come on, we have to get there quickly."\n\nHe takes off running and you follow him, racing him with a speed that you know would rival any runner you had ever seen. The night, gloomy and muted, seems clear and full of sights and sounds. You hear birds in their nests, squirrels in the trees, and something ahead that you can't identify at all. It sounds heavy and evil, and it makes you run faster, outpacing even Ash who has to grow larger just to keep stride with you.\n\nYou emerge into a clearing, where you see two figures huddled over a bench. Under the bench, beside some more shrubs, is the crouching, cringing figure of a girl. The things that are in front of her, however, only barely resemble humans, featureless figures of shadow that move like they're made of smoke. When you emerge, they turn towards you, their eyes blood red and their mouths open and gleaming with fangs. \n\n"These are your enemy," Ash says. "You have to prevent them from getting at the girl. They will devour her for her energy."\n\nYou look down at the girl and nearly cry out when you realize you recognize her. The crying figure is Emmy, and she looks like she's already been roughed up. There are claw marks on one of the arms she's using to try to pull herself as far as possible behind the bench, as though it will protect her.\n\nThere's a moment where you worry she will spot you, but realize that you look nothing like yourself. You're a stranger to her, here to save the day. But as soon as you realize that, you also realize that your task is to save Emmy.\n\nEmmy, who has spent her live humiliating you. \n\nEmmy, who apologizes for nothing and always gets away with it.\n\nEmmy.\n\n[[Fuck that.|Refusal Ending]]\n\n[[Be the better person.|Squaring Off]]
<i>musical fanfare, with heavy flute and violin</i>\n\na magical girl,\nin a terrible world,\nlonging to be\nanyone \nbut her\n\neverybody says opportunity awaits\nbut all of my dreams seem so far away\npeople say these are the best years of our lives\nbut trouble seems to compound on me day by day\n\ni lose myself in mountains of story books\nhoping that a promised happy ending comes my way\nbut pages can't outrun the feeling in my heart\nthat i know is true but also that i'll never say\n\n[[<b>LOVE • WORTHY</b>|End Theme 4]]\n
Love • Worthy \n- episode 1 -
"There's no way I'm saving her," you say, turning on your heel. "Let them have her. I hope they choke on her guts."\n\n"You can't do that!" Ash leaps in front of you, his eyes glowing read. "You've made the promise. You've transformed. You have to carry this out. It doesn't matter who you're saving, it's what you're saving them from."\n\n"It matters to me. I won't do it."\n\n"You have to!"\n\n"Watch me."\n\nYou turn and walk away. The monsters ignore you, and you suddenly hear screaming in the park. You don't care. It's better than saving Emmy. Anything would be. Maybe you're not a Champion, but you're only human, and sometimes that means making sure the greater good happens. \n\nThis is what you tell yourself, even as your transformation melts away and you're left alone in the dark. Storm clouds are gathering on the horizon, and you smell rain and electricity in the air. It'll probably be pouring by the time you get back home. You won't be able to go nearly as fast now that you're just fat, dumpy Amanda Kedres. \n\nBut you live in a world without people like Emily Patrick. That's enough to put a spring in your step, even as you walk away from the quickly receeding sounds of shrieking, back towards the world you know.\n\nBAD END\n\n[[Revolution?|Restart]]
Thank you to whoever plays this game. It was made in a very short time for Merritt Kopas' Naked Twine Jam, and is my first attempt at making any game, Twine or otherwise. \n\nI know it's messy. I know some parts probably move too fast. What I had in mind initially was much bigger and I started cutting like mad to get this done in time. Even so, learning twine is an exercise in frustration because it is so different than normal fiction, so much time was taken just discovering how to use this tool. I hope to go back and flesh it out over time.\n\nThis game is admittedly kind of silly in the broad strokes, but also contains more than one scene pulled directly out of my own high school experience. The only difference is a gender change of our hero, because I spent most of my teen years wishing I could be Sailor Moon and get out of my own situation. Stupid, perhaps, but that's my story.\n\nThere is more, both with the real problems with being an angry picked on kid in high school and the magical girl stuff. I hope I get around to writing it. If you want to give me any sort of feedback, feel free to write me at <b>mdmarko1@gmail.com</b>. I hope you liked it, but if you hated it, that's okay too. Let me know what I could do better next time.\n\nThanks to Jackson, video game bro, for feedback and lots of motivation.\n\nThanks to Destiny for love and support and everything else.\n\nAnd thanks to you for sitting through this whole mess if you did. I appreciate any effort you put into this very amateur thing.\n\nOkay, that's the real end. For now. \n\n[[back to start, if that's your thing|Restart]]\n
The start of a new school year! This one will be your tenth such year, which will bring with it things like learning to drive and going from the junior high to the real high school. \n\nThe minute that your alarm clock goes off, you think about feigning sick and getting your mother to call in sick. Then you remember that you tried that last year, and the only thing worse than the first day of school was the attention garnered by being the girl who showed up on the second day of school instead.\n\nYou know that everything anyone has told you should lead to you being either excited or scared. You are neither of those things. You pack away all the better things you were doing with your summer and head to school ready to endure it like the inconvenience you are sure it is.\n\n[[Welcome to Freshman year!|Ms Moons Home Room]]
You go home and find the house deserted, which it usually is. There's a [[note|Mom's note]] from your mother on the [[fridge|The Refrigerator]]. \n\nYou decide to go to your room and work on anything other than thinking about your day. You have a few books you didn't get to over the summer and you didn't get any homework on the first day, so you might as well spend your day getting lost in one instead of thinking about anything else. \n\nAs you crash down onto your bed with a new book, however, you notice movement outside your window. You jump, but immediately recognize the grey streak and emerald eyes that are stopping to stare at you intently through the window. It's the cat, come to cling to its savior. "Go away," you say aloud, as if it could understand you. "I saved you once. I'm not going to take care of you. Mom doesn't allow pets. Go find food somewhere or something."\n\nThe cat doesn't move. \n\n[[Ignore it.|Bedtime Ignore]]\n\n[[Pound on the glass.|Bedtime Respond]]
This situation seems really dangerous. The smart thing would be to keep your head down and quietly go past and get out of there before they turn on you and you end up in a cage being prodded with sticks. You pride yourself on doing the smart thing, so you try your best not to listen as the group agrees to go get the fireworks, and you go past fast enough that you don't draw attention.\n\nLet's be fair, not drawing attention is the one talent you've developed over the years, so it wasn't that hard.\n\nYou continue with your school year, though you find that from time to time you wonder about that cat. It's a small thing, of course, and you feel silly obsessing over such a small event, but people's whole lives have unraveled for less than the life of a cat. It festers inside of you, even as you suffer through the rest of your unremarkably miserable school year and all the bullying you knew would befall you from the first day of school.\n\nIt seemed, in the end, inevitable.\n\nBAD END\n\n[[Revolution?|Restart]]
Power courses through you and suddenly the pendant blossoms with a bright white light. You feel heat spreading along your skin, as though enveloped in a hot fog. It coalesces around you, suddenly visible beams of light that extend out of the pendant to envelop you in a cocoon.\n\nYou close your eyes and wish. You wish to be strong. You wish to be resilient. You wish to be beautiful and capable. You know you are none of these things, but perhaps magic can bring what the real life you've been believing in has failed to do. And then, inside this cocoon of heat and light, you feel yourself begin to change.\n\nThe heat rises and the light begins to crack like an egg, and just as suddenly as it began it is fading, only the glittering crysal pendant that now sits at the middle of the dress you are wearing. At first it seems to be all lace and frills, white framed in red, but when you look at it you notice that it feels stronger than any fabric you've ever seen. \n\nAs you go to touch it, you gape at your hands. They're gloved in the same red and white material, but they are also suddenly long and slender, hands that would never belong to you. You look down at yourself, and marvel at the changes. You can see a defined waist! You can see long slender legs wearing boots of a similar make. You touch your face, and encounter something alien, with high cheekbones and a long neck. \n\nYou did it! You've transformed! You aren't sure what you've become, but you do a short hop of delight and go soaring several feet into the air, only to instantly come crashing back down with a sureness that did not come from you. Whatever has changed, it has made you <b>strong</b>. \n\n[[You steady yourself and look down at Ash. "I'm ready."|In the Park]]
You don't even go through the usual feelings of heat and anger and fear before making a decision how you feel about this mess. You sail right past them, and are only able to barely make it to the nearest exit out of the school before the tears become too obvious.\n\n[[Fuck the rest of school, just go home and be alone.|Amanda's House 2]]
It might not be proper, but you don't care. You're strong. She's weak. You only have a little while before someone will discover you. There's a quick way to make her pay, and you're going to take it.\n\nYou stomp over to where she is before Ash can protest, and you lash out with one booted foot. You make contact, your shin connecting with her ribs. It's awkward, because whatever grace of battle you had seems to have left you, but your strength is intact and the force knocks the wind out of her before she can cry out. You wonder if you cracked ribs. You don't care outside of a detached curiosity about how strong you really are.\n\n"This is what you deserve!" you shout at her, rearing back to kick her again. Before you can, however, something collides with you. You fly backwards, a heavy weight upon you, and you land on the grass with it pressing into you. There is a feeling like daggers in your shoulders. You look up to find Ash atop of you. He's grown, the size of an actual tiger, and is sinking all his claws into you as his eyes spit fire mere inches from your own.\n\n"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" It is part a growl and part a scream. "You are the Champion. You have a pact. You have to use these powers for good, or great evil will befall us both."\n\n"I don't care!" You cry out, trying to reach up to push him off. There's the sharp pain in both shoulders from where his claws are sinking into your skin, and you can't reach him. \n\n"Go!" Ash is shouting to Emmy, who has stood up and is watching this scene, her eyes wide. She doesn't need a second urging to take off running, obviously aware that she's escaped a grisly fate. You fall back with disgust. She will never know how lucky she was to escape twice in the same night, you think to yourself. \n\nAsh climbs off of you, and your wounds heal as soon as his claws are gone. Whatever this power does, it certainly doesn't mess around. \n\n"You could have killed her," he says.\n\n"I didn't."\n\n[["Come on," Ash says, already beginning to shrink. "She's gone. We need to talk about this."|Standing in the Mirror]]
You ignore the cat and carry on with your reading. You can feel it watching you, but you refuse to encourage it by paying any more attention to it. Eventually it will learn. Eventually it will go away. \n\nYou fall asleep hours later still seeing the shadow of it cast by the streetlights across your dark room. Part of you is unnerved by it, but mostly you're just annoyed that it stuck around as if you'd give in through sheer persistence.\n\n[[By the time you wake up in the morning, it's gone.|Second Day of School]]
You pound on the window. The cat jumps away and your window is suddenly free of intruders. There's a bright moment where you're pleased with yourself, but then the loneliness of the empty house and the mundanity of the day comes crashing back in on you. You don't even like the cat, but you miss its presence. It represented something different, a moment where you did a good thing, but now it's gone and things are back to their less-than-good status quo.\n\nYou half expect it to come back, but by the time you go to bed it hasn't reared its head. Maybe it did leave to go die or find food or bug some other sap who will take it in and make it feel better. Whatever the truth is, it's no longer your problem. You don't rest easier because of this knowledge.\n\n[[You wake up in the morning. You check the window, but the cat is still gone.|Second Day of School]]
The start of a new school year! This one will be your tenth such year, which will bring with it things like learning to drive and going from the junior high to the real high school. \n\nThe minute that your alarm clock goes off, you think about feigning sick and getting your mother to call in sick. Then you remember that you tried that last year, and the only thing worse than the first day of school was the attention garnered by being the girl who showed up on the second day of school instead.\n\nYou know that everything anyone has told you should lead to you being either excited or scared. You are neither of those things. You pack away all the better things you were doing with your summer and head to school ready to endure it like the inconvenience you are sure it is.\n\n[[Welcome to Freshman year!|Ms Moons Home Room]]
"What are you?"\n\n"I am named Ash," the cat says as it turns its head to regard you. "I am a Guardian, a magical being of sorts. It's my goal to find the chosen and serve as a conduit to grant them the power to become Champions. That is enough of my nature for you to know."\n\n[[You have more questions.|Out on the Street]]
"Fine," you say, stepping forward. "If that's what it means to be a stupid Champion, I'll do it."\n\n"Good!" Ash hops up on your shoulder as the monsters began a slow shuffle towards you. "Now listen, don't think too hard about it. The magic within you will allow you to fight, but not if you worry too much about what you should be doing. It's going to be strange at first, but just let instinct take over. It'll get the job done."\n\nYou nod and he hops off of your shoulder. You face the creatures. There's a moment of hesitation, but then you tense up and spring forward with a cry. You mean to take a running start at them, but the power within you is enough to make it a giant leap. Adjusting midair, you turn your body around and plant both boots into the first one, sending it crashing to the ground as you roll backwards and up onto your feet.\n\nYou try not to think too hard about the impossibility of it all as you face the next one, grabbing the clawed hand it is swinging at you and spinning on your heel. The thing lifts off the ground and you manage to use the momentum of its swing to throw it over your shoulder, the arm bending at an inhuman angle as the weight of the creature sails over you. It crashes next to its brethren with a sickeningly wet sound.\n\nYou stand above them as they slowly try to get up, obviously dazed. Suddenly, you hear a voice from inside of you, goading you to say something. Both things that rise up in your mind are silly, but Ash hasn't steered you wrong so far, and so you decide to pick one and speak it aloud.\n\n[["Crystaline Sunrise Blossoming!"|Crystaline Sunrise Blossoming]]\n\n[["Sugarheart Blood Ribbon!"|Sugarheart Blood Ribbon]]
<i>musical fanfare, with heavy flute and violin</i>\n\na magical girl,\nin a terrible world,\nlonging to be\nanyone \nbut her\n\neverybody says opportunity awaits\nbut all of my dreams seem so far away\npeople say these are the best years of our lives\nbut trouble seems to compound on me day by day\n\n[[<b>LOVE • WORTHY</b>|End Theme 3]]\n
The light fades and you're left standing as the only victor. The enemies you were fighting are gone. There's just you and Ash, who appears to stand beside you, looking up at you with something you want to interpret as pride.\n\n"I ... I did it."\n\n"Well of course you did," Ash says at your side. "You weren't given this power so you could fail to destroy even the most simple of monsters."\n\nYou look at Emmy, cowering in the bushes up against one of the benches that was installed in the park. She looks like she had been on a run, but now she's holding onto the bench and staring into space. Her eyes are wide, and underneath her fake tan she looks pale.\n\n"We should go," Ash says.\n\n"No, this is too good to pass up," you tell him, before heading over to Emmy. She's powerless. You're anonymous. This might be the only chance you'll have in your life to make her feel even a fraction of what you've felt. You <b>cannot</b> let this go without doing something.\n\n[[Scare her.|Intimidation]]\n\n[[Hurt her.|Violence]]
Mandy,\n\nWorking late. Stocked the fridge for dinner. Hope you're ready for a fresh start at a new school this year! I know that if you work hard you can be a better you! \n\nLove,\nMom\n\n[[BACK|Amanda's House 1]]
You are out in the street, the cat beside you. It is leading you along, and you dutifully follow, since you decided to just go with this. The streets are deserted, and the cat leads you down the block towards a small commercial area nearby. You're not about to let this pass without asking the questions that spring to mind. \n\n[["What are you?"|The Nature of Ash]]\n\n[["Where are we going?"|The Challenge Ahead]]\n\n[["What do you want me to do?"|The End Goal]]\n\n
"Where are we going?"\n\nThe cat turns the corner and you follow down a side street, even darker and quieter than the one you started on. It's as if everyone were asleep, though you know it's not that late.\n\n"There are dangerous creatures that have arisen, otherwise I would not be here and would not have to choose a new person to rise up. I am trying to locate them before they can do great harm."\n\n[[You have more questions.|Out on the Street]]
A large crystal shaped like a diamond, standing unsupported on its point. Unlike the other crystals, which seem to be opaque on some level, this crystal is such a complete black that it bends light around it. This is the seeing stone, from which those who peer into it can witness the revolutions of the very planets if they so desire.\n\nWhether the seeing stone can look into the true hearts of those it turns its power towards is a subject of much debate over the millennia. \n\n[[BACK|Next Episode]]
Your second day of school starts out much like you'd expect: rehashing things you already know, with busywork piled on top of it. Everyone seems a little dazed by the return to the grind, so it seems as though your little incident with Emmy might have gone unnoticed by everyone else. Certainly nobody new seems to be regarding you with the disdain she usually sends your way. \n\nEverything seems to be going well until lunch. There, sitting by yourself having one of your mom's stupid salads and getting carried away by your book, you're shaken out of the one bright spot on an otherwise featureless day when someone comes over to your table. She's a girl you don't recognize. You're instantly on your guard about what she could possibly want. \n\n"You're Mandy, right?" She asks cheerfully. She's blonde and looks like a cheerleader. Girls like her don't talk to girls like you. Something's wrong. But you don't want to be rude, just in case.\n\n"Yeah?"\n\n"Hi, I'm Rachel. So I was sitting over at that other table," she says, gesturing to another group of kids who all look very tan and very popular and very much like they enjoy their lives. "And Gary, the one with the striped shirt, he says that he went to school with you. You probably don't remember him, because he had a huge growth spurt over the summer, but he said that of all the people in his school, you were the smartest."\n\n"I don't know a Gary," you offer.\n\n"Yeah, well, who can keep track of everyone? Right?" She laughs, flipping her hair like she's posing for a picture. "The thing is, Gary told me that he had a crush on you from afar. He said he knew it was weird to be into someone so ... out of the ordinary, but that he wanted a smart girl more than anything."\n\nYou try not to get mad, but you can feel your face getting red. You think you know where this is going. Rachel continues, oblvious or uncaring. \n\n"If you're as smart as he says you are, though, you'll understand and not hold it against him for not saying anything. I think that high school is a great opportunity to start things off new. So I decided to tell you so you could confront him yourself. I'm going to go, and we'll all leave the table except Gary, and you can go talk to him yourself."\n\nShe turns and waves to the table. The only one who waves back is Gary, who is a nice enough looking guy. You think you might recognize him. Maybe he was one of the other quiet kids. She's right, you can't keep track of everybody, and the people who weren't Emmy and her circle of harpies mostly faded into the background most days. \n\nMaybe she was telling the truth? Maybe it was all some elaborate ruse? \n\n[[Believe her.|Talk to Gary]]\n\n[[Ignore everything she said.|Forget Gary]]
<i>Shit. Why don't I just pour gas on myself and give everyone matches?</i>\n\n"I actually go by Mandy," you tell the teacher. \n\n"That's no problem," Ms. Moon tells you, writing on the sheet she's holding. "I love books. Well, you could probably guess that, since I teach English classes." Ms. Moon laughs, embarrassed to say something potentially embarrassing. On her, it looks cute. You wish you were so lucky.\n\nMs. Moon moves on, though you can hear snickering. You turn. It's Emmy, the girl you sat next to in history class last year. It seems your prayers that she might be dragged away by wolves or dispatched by a bus fell on deaf ears. You know that she's laughing at you, because this isn't the first time she's done it. You glance back just enough to glare, but then turn away as if to shield yourself from what you know is coming next.\n\n"Hey Manatee," Emmy says loud enough only for the people around you to hear clearly. "Sucking up won't help you this year. Besides, I know you're busy reading those gross dykey comic books." There's laughing from some of the other girls with her, some girls you know and some you don't. \n\nSome things never change, and it seems some demons follow you even from one school to another. Wondering if you will ever be free of the nickname and the scorn you've carried around since third grade you try to sink further into your desk and stare into the endless white expanse of your notebook.\n\n[[Eventually, despite its best efforts to stick around, time moves forward.|After School]]
You shove Emmy, who falls backward and catches the edge of a chair. She flails, but there's nothing to catch her and she trips backward hard on her back, letting out a shriek as everyone gathers around her and teachers come rushing seemingly from nowhere to break up what looks to be a fight.\n\nYou're told that you're lucky she didn't hit her head on anything. You're told that fighting isn't allowed. But Emmy is too proud to act hurt and you're too good at school to be labeled a problem student and are simply sent home for the rest of the day instead.\n\nYou protest and plead your case, but it mostly falls on deaf ears. You and Emmy both get assigned a session with the guidance counselor to talk about these problems, but that position is vacant right now and no other teacher is willing to step into that mess. So you gather up your things and leave, just like Emmy does, though you trudge home fighting off tears as you see her speed away in a car with the top down. \n\n[[Frustrated, unable to do anything else, you go home.|Amanda's House 2]]
"SUGARHEART BLOOD RIBBON!"\n\nSuddenly the red frills and linings and ribbons that make up your outfit all begin to move. At first you think it's the wind, but then you realize that they are actually moving, winding along your dress like vines as they gather themselves in your palms. Once all the red is drained from your dress, the ribbons fly from your hands, one embedding itself in the chest of each of the monsters. \n\nIn time with your heart beat, great pulses of energy crackle along the ribbons like electricity, arcing from you along both paths and into the enemies. Where it comes from you don't know, because you can't feel it, but you watch as you pour electricity from your hands and into both of them, their bodies jerking wildly and actual burning smoke beginning to rise off of both of them. \n\nOne last bolt, larger than the rest, travels more slowly down each ribbon. When it hits the enemies, they [[burst into blue flame, leaving only cinders behind, caught in the breeze and carried away.|The Aftermath]]
The rest of your school day was relatively uneventful, but you walk home defeated anyway. You still have class again tomorrow and for months ahead. Eventually Emmy will get other people to follow along in going after you and high school will just be like junior high all over again. \n\nIt's always the same. Always the Manatee. Always the accusations that you're some sort of gross mannish lesbian. You're pretty sure you're not even gay, which makes it all the worse. If you were, the school would probably do something about the complaints you've made. Instead, every time you tell them you're not, they just give Emily a talking to and let her go. Over and over, for years. The thought makes you want to leap from the sidewalk into traffic.\n\nAs you toy, not very seriously, with the implications of taking a dive for the pavement, you hear a number of kids yelling in a way that sounds vaguely like coyotes you heard when you visited your grandmother in the desert when you were small. They're ahead, just around the corner, and unavoidable without going a very long way around to your house. You decide to walk by as fast as possible and hopefully not draw the attention whatever group you're about to pass.\n\n[[Cautiously, you round the corner.|Scene on a Yard]]\n\n
"What do you want me to do?"\n\nYou take a path through some shrubs, the cat easily navigating the dense leaves. You're not so lucky, and you push yourself through with much effort and a number of scratches. They look like cat scratches. You wonder if that is somehow intentional.\n\n"You are chosen as a Champion, one who is given the magic to strike back against evil. When the time comes and we confront our enemy, I will serve as a conduit between the source of all magic and you, and you will be transformed into a warrior."\n\n[[You have more questions.|Out on the Street]]\n\n[[You're out of questions.|Out of Questions]]
You smell a trap and are smart enough to know how to avoid hurt in such an obvious form. Still, the very idea of what you might have walked into makes your face feel hot and like you'd want to throw something. That's hardly a way to stay unnoticed, so you do none of those things.\n\nShaking your head and trying not to feel too sick about being goaded into making a fool out of yourself as you remain seated and finish your lunch and read your book quietly. Gary, left alone, just sits at his table seemingly waiting for the hammer to drop. You take great delight in watching his puzzled face as you walk past, knowing that that probably means that he was in on it. \n\nThat's only confirmed when later, as you're heading to your locker to get your books between lunch and your next period you see the entire table of them walk by. Rachel's there, and you notice right beside her is Emmy, who when she spots you nudges one of her friends. \n\n"Hey, did you hear about Mandy?" Rachel asks, loud enough for everyone to hear. \n\n"Oh, you mean Manatee? What did she squash this time?"\n\n"You won't believe this. I convinced Gary to give her a pity date so she wouldn't be a total loser like you said she was at your last school, and she shot him down!"\n\n"Of course she did," Emmy says. "Didn't you know? Manatee is a bull dyke. Or maybe I should say cow dyke. You should watch out, next time you get close she might try to grab you!"\n\nThey are walking by and burst into laughter as they roundthe corner, leaving a wake of people who can't help but be pressed into silence by their theatrically loud conversation. \n\nThere's a moment of pause, everyone shocked into disbelief, but then nearly in synchronization all eyes turn to you. People start whispering. You don't even go through the usual feelings of heat and anger and fear before making a decision how you feel about this mess. You sail right past them, and are only able to barely make it to the nearest exit out of the school before the tears become too obvious.\n\n[[Fuck the rest of school, just go home and be alone.|Amanda's House 2]]
You sit in bed, numb from having a long cry where you think long and hard about what you could possibly do to fight against life in general. As usual, answers are few and far between. The only reasonable course of action, short of running away or burning down your house and school, is to just keep your head down and try not to draw any more attention. You tell yourself this as the sun sets and quiet descends on the evening.\n\nThe sudden sound of the door opening stirs you from the daydreams of escape and destruction. Not expecting your mother home for some time, you leave your room to go look and see. The house is quiet, though, and night fell with no lights on. The hallways are dark and quiet. You pause, looking at the door. You thought you locked it, but it's slightly ajar. Could someone be inside the house? It doesn't look like anyone forced their way in. And you <b>could</b> have left it open.\n\nYou decide to go into your room, where you keep a can of mace that your mother gave you years ago. It's probably the only weapon in the house that isn't a kitchen knife, and you're not quite ready to feel that ridiculous yet. \n\nYou go back into your room. There on the bed, staring up at you, is the grey cat that you saved yesterday. It looks in much better shape today, its coat free of matting and its body much fuller. You wouldn't miss those green eyes anywhere, though. Its tail twitches as it watches you enter. \n\n"Good, you're here," a voice says. "We don't have any time to waste."\n\nYou jump, looking around. The voice is male and loud enough that you expect it to be coming from someone right in front of you. You wheel around, thinking maybe it's behind you, but there's only the empty hallway. There's nobody here but you.\n\n"Come on, theatrics aren't going to help right now," the voice says. You turn towards the source of it, and find yourself staring at the cat on the bed. It stares at you, unblinking.\n\n[["You're talking," you tell the cat, feeling stupid.|The Cat Speaks]]\n\n[["You can talk!?" you ask, knowing its a dumb question.|The Cat Speaks]]
by matthew marko
<i>musical fanfare, with heavy flute and violin</i>\n\na magical girl,\nin a terrible world,\nlonging to be\nanyone \nbut her\n\neverybody says opportunity awaits\nbut all of my dreams seem so far away\npeople say these are the best years of our lives\nbut trouble seems to compound on me day by day\n\ni lose myself in mountains of story books\nhoping that a promised happy ending comes my way\nbut pages can't outrun the feeling in my heart\nthat i know is true but also that i'll never say\n\ni want to be love worthy\ni know i'll never be worthy\nplease make me worthy\nworthy of any love\n\n[[<b>LOVE • WORTHY</b>|End Theme 5]]\n
You open the fridge, which is full of individually packaged salads, an array of single-serving dressings (all low fat) on the side, and several bags of raw vegetables. All of the containers are labelled with your name and the rest of the food seems to have disappeared.\n\nThis isn't the first time she's done this. Your mother works late and gets food at work. That leaves you to forage for whatever she provides, which every few months like clockwork mysterously all turns into salads. You've had so many salads in your life the idea of forking down another spoonful makes you want to throw up.\n\nThankfully you have supplies to cook actual meals you bought with your allowance secreted under your bed and an emergency stash of protein bars and the like in one of your drawers. Your mother might be poisonously well meaning to try to starve you into being a better daughter, but so far she's respected your privacy.\n\n[[BACK|Amanda's House 1]]