Magical Torturer Suzi Berry versus Magical Scribe Eleanor Slam

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Dang, why couldn't I just let her sleep through it? No matter how many times I see it, she always looks too darn cute when she's sleepin'. She's like a frowny little angel.

Though, considerin' how long that quickie took, she's probably had too much time as it is. I take out my phone and flip it on, and, obscurin' the naughty bits on my wallpaper, is a clock that says... I still have a few minutes before I have to get goin'.

"Rise and shine, Elly!" I call out cheerily, partin' the curtains to let some light in, and then standin' at the foot of her bed. Elly's wincin' and tossin' beneath the covers right now... Ah, there's one eye open!

"...Nnn... Huh...?" Ihihihi, she's groggy~.

I give my little introduction, wavin' by curlin' my fingers and sayin', "Helloooo~! Suzi Escort Service, here to pick ya up." After givin' her a smart little salute, I crawl onto the bed and pose tastefully at the end.

"...Oh, it's you..." she murmurs, sleepily wipin' at her eyes and sittin' up in bed to glare at me. It... takes her a bit to do that one-handed. She's wearin' those cute pajamas, too. "How'd you get in?" she asks. She wasn't even surprised? Oh well.

"Ya need to lock yer windows, Elly~," I tease her. Not that lockin' her windows stopped me before, ihihihi. And, aww, she's already got a case of bedhead again.

"...'kay..." she says, blearily rubbin' at her eyes again with just one hand. She must be really out of it after all.

Somethin's been buggin' me, though. Somethin' familiar in the air. I can't place the smell exactly, but it smells like...

"Do I smell flowers?" I ask her.

She just nods a little. "Shampoo," she clarifies. I didn't take her for the type to use the flowery stuff.

I can't help but grin a little bit at this.

"Why Elly, ya little heartbreaker," I say, narrowin' my eyes at her and tuggin' her curly hair to make it bounce like a spring, "were ya dressin' up for a date?"

"No..." she mumbles while yawnin', tryin' to glare harder at me through squinted eyes. And she forced my hand away. "What d'you want?"

"Oh, just to serve my Officio to the best of my ability..." I say in a dreamy voice, whirlin' around and danglin' my legs off the foot of the bed, "and maybe a little house on the hill near the ocean, with a servin' staff that doesn't mind bein' touched..." I wipe at the edge of my mouth with my sleeve.

Elly takes a bit to process what I told her, and then drones, "...Wonnerful. Hope you get it... Now why're you here?"

"Ihihihi, ya wanna know about the spiders and the bees, do ya?" I answer. She's frownin' in confusion. It's too darn cute.

"Tha's not-"

"Just kiddin'," I interrupt. It's time to get down to business, so I tell her, "I'm here to take ya to a party " She blinks slowly a couple times, then scowls at me.

"...Fuck off..." she growls, fallin' back down onto the bed and pullin' up the sheets.

"Come onnn," I playfully demand of her, crawlin' over to where she is. "Get up!"

She pulls the covers over her head. "Don' wanna..." she mumbles.

"Ya gotta!" I insist, pullin' the covers away, "Warmaster's orders."

Elly's voice is muffled when she buries her face in her pillow, sayin' "...Screw that, got the day off..."

"Don't ya like parties?" I ask, genuinely curious.

She turns her head to speak - well, grumble - clearly, sayin', "Too noisy..." before coverin' her head with another pillow. "Now get outta my room..."

Normally, I'd leave it at that - don't wanna overstay my welcome here - but orders are orders. So I tear the pillow out of her hands and shout, "Eleanor Abbot Slam, if ya don't get outta bed on the count'a three, I'm draggin' ya there myself!"

"...Go away..." she says quietly.

Nothin' for it, then. "One... Two... Three-"

Elly rolls over, fallin' onto the floor and cursin'. "Fuck!" she shouts, strugglin' to sit up one-armed. She's glarin' at me, and snarls, "Fine! I'm up! Let's get this over with."

While she's pullin' herself to her feet, I remind her, "Ya can't go in yer pajamas, hon."

...She sure is glowerin' a lot today. Still scowlin' as she transforms into costume. That seems to have cured the bed-head, if nothin' else. After she's slotted in her arm with a -click-, she's already marchin' out the door. Trailin' after her, I reach down and gather up some webbin', and...

"Hey! What the hell are you doing?" she screeches in alarm.

"I'm afraid that yer reaction earlier was a little too slow," I chide her, havin' her firmly trapped in my little mesh. Pullin' her behind me, she looks like a kid bein' dragged on a blanket. Not lettin' her use that golden gauntlet to claw at the ground, though, so I give a little tug -here- and... Snared the arm! And she doesn't look too happy about it.

"Lemme go, you crazy pervert!" she screams, wrestlin' with it and gettin' stuck like a fly. "Get this thing off!"

"Ihihihi, already got off before I got here!" I happily inform Elly, elicitin' a disgusted groan from her. "And had a quickie with that cutie pie with the rabbit ears." I think back on it and shiver a little. "Ya wouldn't believe what she can do with her-"

"Shut up and let me go!" she interrupts. How rude of her to do that~.

"Only if I can hold yer hand the rest of the way to keep ya from runnin' off," I taunt back.

"Fuck you!" she spits. "Stop treating me like a child!"

"No thanks~!" I cheerily reply, addin', "And I'll consider ya a proper adult when ya get yer first kiss."

I turn back to look at her, and... Ah, there it is. She's blushin' an adorable shade of pink right now. "Ihihihi, yer gonna be a real heartbreaker when ya grow up, Elly~. But for now just let big sis Suzi take care of ya."

Well she seems to be in pretty high spirits, all things considered. I guess that's enough enough toyin' with her for now. Don't want to tease her too much.

Nudgin' open the double doors, I announce to the room at large that "We're heeeere!" 'Here' bein' a relatively small room for small ceremonies. They brought in a few extra tables for the refreshments, and most of the chairs are up against the wall.

Four heads - three rank leaders and the Warmaster herself - turn to look at us, and all of them bear confused expressions.

"Warmaster!" I exclaim, lettin' the net dissolve away before standin' up straight and salutin'.

The Warmaster is the first of the bemused partygoers to respond. "Miss Berry," she asks, "why is Miss Slam restrained?"

"Ya told me I had to bring her here, but she wasn't cooperatin'," I explained.

"And you explained to her attendance was mandatory?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

"You couldn't lead her here by hand?"

"She wouldn't let me!"

"Did you tell her there was a party?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

"With food? Cake? Ice cream?"

Ah. Whoops.

"No, ma'am, I did not."

"You should have done that first," the Warmaster chides. As an afterthought, she tells me, "at ease." I drop the salute and turn to look at Elly...

Holy cow, her eyes are sparklin'.

"Cake and ice cream?" Elly pipes up, turnin' to look at me, her face full of hope, "there's cake and ice cream?"

I pat her on the head and she doesn't even flinch. "That's right, Elly," I inform her. "Everybody was just waitin' on us."

Elly's actually smilin'. And now she's frownin' and starin' at the ground, mumblin', "...Sorry."

"What are ya apologizin' for?!" I ask incredulously.

"Because I made everyone wait for cake and ice cream..." she responds, hands behind her back, "I know how much I like cake and ice cream, so makin' people have to wait for it..." She looks to the room at large and says just a little louder, "'m sorry."

"Don't apologize," instructs Madge, ever the order-giver. "Indulge yourself." She certainly is; she may be usin' a teacup and saucer, but I can smell the bourbon from over here.

"Aye! Welcome t' the party, Slam!" cheers our jolly old Roger, Miss Cress, a half-empty bottle of rum already in her hand. Oh, she's lookin' at me now. "And it looks as though ye already found yourself a fine lass, too."

"Oh, ya flatterer~," I titter, battin' my eyes. This makes her laugh. Elly's givin' us both odd looks as Kai catches her breath. "Now ye just need a few swigs o' rum and-"

"Miss Cress," Madge interrupts, givin' her a smile and a glare, "I believe Miss Slam is not old enough for alcohol." This makes the poor Eversor frown.

"Arr, ye don't like fightin', ye don't like killin', and ye don't like rum?" grumbles Miss Cress, takin' a swig from her own bottle before pointin' a claw at Elly. "If ye were any less a person, I'd make ye walk th' plank!"

"In any case, do not mind us," Madge says with her trademark smile. "Treat us like we're not even here."

"Hah, like th' Unseen Queen needs help w' that!" jeers Miss Cress, earnin' herself an elbow in the ribs from Madge. Doesn't stop her from laughin'. Silly bugger.

Lookin' back at Elly, she's a bit taken aback. Tryin' to make her mouth form words that won't come, until she manages to ask, "...Why?"

The Warmaster smiles warmly at her, sayin', "because you passed initiation, of course." Hah, the Warmaster's tail's waggin'! She's really pleased with herself, isn't she? "We asked Miss Cooldown what you liked, and made preparations just minutes after you did so." Elly's still strugglin' with words at this point. The Warmaster puts her hands on Elly's shoulders, talkin' real gentle. "I know it is a bit much to take in at once. Think of it as us making amends for not offering you a proper welcome when you first arrived."

Looks like Blue's already stuffin' her face now that the guest of honor's here. "So she's the one who knocked the smug out of Milly Moneybags?" she asks after swallowin' a mouthful of corndog. The kid doesn't seem to recognize her, but she's probably never met her before.

Elly asks the Warmaster, "...Who is she?" while pointin' at Blue. Sure, act like I'm not even here.

Miss Russ leads her away from me, motionin' with her head to move back. I guess she wants to do this part herself. "This is Miss Contra," the Warmaster responds, "our Vindicare Rank Leader."

"Hello!" greets the redhead, makin' a smart and snappy salute after puttin' down her meal, and says, "Vindicare Rank Leader Belinda Contra here! But Blue's fine. Bel is preferred, really."

Gesturin' back toward the other two, the Warmaster continues introductions, sayin', "And I believe you've met Miss Cress and Miss Shine."

Cress is already givin' her cheeky two-fingered salute. "Aye!" she exclaims, standin' up straight, "actin' Eversor Rank Leader Cress, reportin'!" Even her tail seems to be at attention here.

"Callidus Rank Leader Ethelinda Joyce Shine," states Madge, already at attention. "'Madge' is fine, thank you."

"Miss Winters would be here to represent our Culexus," the Warmaster explains, drawin' Elly's attention back to her, "but she is indisposed at the moment."

Elly frowns with concern. There's no way they've met. Especially without me knowin'. But she still asks, "...Is she okay?"

The Warmaster reassures her, statin' confidently, "she will be fine, I'm certain of it." Which is probably true.

That seems good enough for Elly, and she nods in acknowledgement. "But why are so many important people here?" she inquires, lookin' around again. I give her another little wave, but the Warmaster shakes her head at me, so I put my hand down.

Smilin' brilliantly, the Warmaster lays it out for Elly by tellin' her, "because you're our special guest, of course!"

"...All of this for me..." Elly murmurs, takin' a moment to process it. She's a little red-faced right now. "Thank you..."

Geez, she almost looks like she's gonna hug Miss Russ at this point. Oh well, don't mind me, I don't need an introduction anyway.

Ah well, Elly seems happy enough.

Reluctantly, I leave the kid alone with the Warmaster. Probably doesn't need me hoverin' over her shoulder anyway. Miss Russ knows what she's doin'.

Lookin' around the room, I find Miss Cress and Blue talkin' enthusiastically about somethin'. Judgin' by Miss Cress's violent gesticulations, and goin' by Blue's fascinated look, it's probably not somethin' I want a part of. The buffet itself looks temptin', but I'm not real hungry or thirsty. Already ate out before I got here.

So I make to stand next to Madge, and she pointedly takes a step away from me, smile falterin' a bit. Such a killjoy.

"Not sure why our Warmaster wanted me to fetch Elly if she was just gonna shoo me away," I say, foldin' my arms behind my head and leanin' against the wall.

Madge takes a sip of bourbon and shakes her head. "Search me," she responds, then adds, "please do not actually try to search me." Such a killjoy.

"She's just tryin' to get in good with the Americans, ain't she?" I query, bouncin' on my heels and tiptoes. Madge doesn't seem to like it, but she should know by now I'm not one for sittin' still.

After sighin', Her Majesty royally informs me, "that was my guess, yes." Then she chuckles, addin', "Well, Blue jumped at the opportunity for free food." That sounds about right. That's the only reason I can think of for all of these preparations, and for all the top brass of the Sixth bein' here. Well, not all the top brass. Ashford wouldn't have anythin' to do with somethin' so frivolous, but the Equerry...

"Where's Grumpy?" I inquire.

"Miss Morkai?" clarifies Madge, to which I nod my head. "She is still busy with the paperwork that Miss Slam used to do. I do not believe bringing her is a good idea."

Uh oh. "She's not gonna try and antagonize Elly, is she?" I venture, visibly cringing. Elly's in real trouble if Grumpy's after her.

Madge shakes her head. "The Warmaster would not allow it, and Miss Morkai knows it," she says, takin' another sip.

Elly looks pretty content right now. She's smilin', for one, and seems to be enjoyin' the burgers. Russ is just standin' near her, talkin' about her future and how to prepare for it.

It's nice for the kid, and yet...

"It's gonna be real hard for Elly from here on out..." I say at last, smilin' grimly.

Madge stares intently at her teacup. "Personally, I do not believe Miss Slam can handle it," she says after a moment. "She is simply too soft, and the Warmaster doesn't want to change that about her. Her victory was simply a fluke."

"The Warmaster usually ain't wrong, though," I counter.

"True. I do not want to see her fail, either," Madge says, takin' another sip from her posh teacup. "And not just because it'd mean more work for me."

Lookin' at her, I smile just a little bit in a sincere way. "Because she ain't a crude meathead?"

Madge nods in response. "Because she's not a crude meathead, yes." That's good enough for me.

"I'm still gonna keep an eye on her when I can," I declare. I think Madge flinched at that, which got me a bit curious. "What're you gonna do?" I ask her.

"I'm going to do my job as best as I can," she says coolly. "If it involves her somehow, that is entirely coincidental."

I grin at her, tauntin', "Ya sure talk like ya got a stick up yer arse when the Warmaster's in the room, don't ya?"

Madge's smile twists into a smirk. "Like you would find a stick up your ass objectionable," she retorts.

"Ihihihi, touché," I respond, smilin' widely. That one was actually pretty good.

Looks like they're bringin' out the cake now. It's a big chocolate one, with cherries on it. Should be enough to feed all of us. Well, maybe not Blue, but if she eats Elly's cake before the kid has had her fill, I'm gonna-

"Miss Berry?" Madge calls my name suddenly out of the blue. I turn to look at her, and... Well, she's smilin', but her eyes are hardened. She looks serious. "What did you think of Miss Hesselius?"

"Ah, the one you set me up with?" I ask. She nods, and I start smilin' again. "She's a great gal. I can see why the other folks are a bit creeped out by her, but I don't mind her company at all." I giggle a little, thinkin' back on the meetin'. "Plus she's got this thing where she-"

"She's looking forward to seeing you again," Madge interrupts. "Should I ask my contact to bring her along during the conference?" Ah. So that's what it's about.

"I'm sure she is," I mumble, lookin' at the floor. "But I'm really not the type to commit, y'know? You understand that, right?" I hear Madge takin' a long drink before she sets the cup and saucer down on a nearby table.

"I ssssee."

Uh oh, she's very, very angry now. I look back at her and her expression is nothin' more than a smile and two eyes showin' how much restraint goes into her not immediately makin' my life hell on earth.

"I mean, I'm just not ready for that kind of a relationship," I try to explain, bringin' my hands up defensively. She doesn't seem to buy it. I sigh a bit, tryin' to be reasonable and tell her, "I really do like her - in fact I really do like her a lot. I might even love her, but-"

"But WHAT?" Madge hisses, her normally cool and collected voice now venomous and spiteful. The smile only makes it worse. "You've been 'not ready for a relationship' for, what, five yearsss? Sssix?" She shakes her head at me. "I know you misssss your dear friend, but you've had time enough to bed everything that didn't refussse you, and you're SSSTILL not over her?!"

I want to tell her yes, that it's okay, that I'll sweep that lady from the Second off her feet and make her the happiest gal in the world. And yet...

"I'm real sorry, but... I, I just can't."

Madge continues glarin' at me like she wants me dead, moreso than normal, and then quietly asks, "then what should I tell her?"

I shake my head at her. "I'll tell her," I volunteer. "No need to burden yerself. It's the least I can do."

Just as Madge is about to lay into me some more, the Warmaster claps her hands and motions for both of us to come forward. "We'll talk more about thissss later," Madge growls, walkin' over to where everyone is gathered. Such a killjoy.

I follow a little bit behind her, curious as to what could possibly be-

Oh. Oh, wow. I guess it's a bit late, considerin' it actually happened a bit more than a month ago, but...

Elly's just standin' there gapin'. I can't blame her, I wasn't told about this part either. But I really should have expected somethin' like that from Miss Russ.

There's fourteen candles on the cake, their little flames flickerin'.

"Happy Birthday, Eleanor," the Warmaster says softly, before leadin' us in song.

...Yeah, it's gonna be tough for Elly. But I think I can afford to put off worrying about the future until tomorrow.