Nostalgia Critic stood proudly in the grand foyer of his sprawling mansion and smiled at the small group gathered before him.
“Lady and gentlemen, I would like to thank you all for coming here today. I am sure you’re very curious about why I have called you out to my beautiful home. That’s because I know that each of you possesses an amazing, unbelievable, awesome ability just like I do. You see, I have been blessed with awesomeness myself, specifically with the power of telepathy.” He paused a moment to let them properly bask in the glow of his magnificence. “Yes, that’s correct. I am amazing and you should be thrilled to be here with me. For you see, you three are standing in the hallowed halls of Nostalgia Critic’s School for Awesome People, and I am Professor Nostalgia Critic.” He grinned, showing off every gleaming tooth. “Any questions?”
“What are you a professor of?”
“I knew you were going to ask that,” Critic said quickly as he looked at the young man who’d spoken. “Just like I know that your name is Y Ruler of Time, yours is Coldguy, and you are the Psychoneko.”
They made suitably impressed noises and Critic beamed. He loved few things more than having a captive audience.
“Now, I don’t like being much of a show-off,” he blatantly lied, “so I haven’t used my awesome ability to learn what powers each of you possess. Why don’t you show me what you can do instead? Let’s start with you, Y. Does your intriguing nickname mean you have time-travel related abilities?”
“Nope, that’s just for fun. This is my actual power.” He pulled a book from his backpack and started to read it. Critic waited for a minute, expecting something impressive to happen. When it didn’t, he grew annoyed.
“What the fuck are you doing? You’re telling me your special talent is reading? Kindergarteners can do that!”
“No, it’s not just reading,” Y said, wincing a little from his sudden harshness. “This book is written entirely in Ge’ez, a language which is considered extinct. My power is that I can read and understand any language I come across instantly.”
Critic stared at him for a moment before forcing a smile back onto his face.
“Oh, that’s… great. Really… amazing.” He quickly turned to Psychoneko. “Okay it’s your turn. I suspect the kitty ears mean you have some awesome cat-like powers. Maybe the speed of a cheetah, or hidden claws that can slash a person to ribbons?”
Psychoneko giggled. “Nope! Here’s my power, professor!” She opened her mouth and a strange chirping sound came out. Critic frowned.
“Your power is making birdcalls?”
“No, it’s that I can mimic any sound I hear perfectly,” Psychoneko explained. Critic sighed and turned to the third potential student.
“Okay, Coldguy, you’re my last hope. Please don’t tell me that your ability involves getting the sniffles at will or something equally pathetic. ” Coldguy looked a little nervous as he raised his hand.
“Uh, no, it’s actually this.” He closed his eyes and quickly covered the ground before him entirely in ice.
“Finally, something awesome,” Critic said, ignoring how disheartened the other two looked. “Coldguy, we would love to have you at this school. Now, I’m going to ask you a very important question.” Critic’s face grew serious. “How would you like to join an elite team known only as… the NC-Men?”
Coldguy arched an eyebrow.
“The Nancy Men?” Critic scowled.
“No! NC-Men! Why does everyone always get that wrong?”
“It does sound very close to Nancy Men,” Y tried to say.
“Hey, Rosetta Stone, who’s talking to you?” Critic snapped, causing the other man to recoil. “Look, Coldguy, you gotta join! It’s always been my dream to create a team of people who were born with these awesome abilities so that we can show them off to the world! We are amazing and wonderful, and should be loved and worshipped like the demi-gods we are! But no matter how much I try, no matter how many spaghetti dinners and parades I throw in my honor, the world only reacts in fear and disgust!”
Critic’s face grew angrier as he ranted. “Do you know how much money I’ve wasted on confetti for these people? And what do I get for my efforts? Mockery! Derision! Scorn! Would they ever think about honoring me for all I’ve done? Is having one measly little ‘Nostalgia Critic Day’ really too much to ask? No! It isn’t! Those dickwads! I could rule them all if I wanted to! I could discover all their dirty little secrets and blackmail my way to the top!” Critic paused then, thinking deeply for a moment. “Actually, why haven’t I done that already?” he murmured, rubbing his chin as he pondered this.
Critic looked up, guilt now covering his face.
“Th-that was a joke! Hilarious, right? What I really mean is, I want to create a team to, uh, to fight the forces of evil! Yes, evil! Evil is all around us, which is why I want a team to protect the world so that they will accept us all no matter how freaky we are! With your help, I will be one step closer to achieving my dream! I need you, Coldguy! The team needs you! No… the world needs you!”
Critic paused then to put on his most pathetic puppy-dog expression and waited for an answer. The three shared an unsure look before Coldguy shrugged and nodded.
“I guess there’s no harm in looking around this place.” Critic’s grin returned and he slapped the ice-user on the back.
“Great! Come with me and I’ll give you the grand tour!” He put his arm around Coldguy and started walking down the hall.
“What about us?” Psychoneko and Y gave Critic pitiful stares. “We want to join the team and fight evil too.”
“Oh, yeah.” Critic looked uncertain before relenting. “Eh, sure, you can come too… if you want.” The duo lowered their heads and slowly followed Critic, barely listening as he chattered away about the school and its inhabitants.
“Now, while I am the most important factor in making anything of importance happen regarding this school and this team, I do have two people I depend on to help out. Professors Spoony and Linkara will be two of the greatest teachers you’ll ever have in your lives, and will teach you to control your abilities in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.”
Critic turned a corner as he talked and almost ran directly into a very attractive young woman clad in only a towel.
“Oh, professor!” she squeaked, her face quickly turning red. “I-I didn’t want you to see my like this!”
Critic gawked at her, his mouth moving but no words coming out.
“Gaha, wha?” he finally managed to blurt out, before trying again. “I-I mean, who are you?”
“How could you forget about me, professor?” she asked, pouting a little. “I thought I was your favorite student. The way you’re always drooling over me in class, how could I think anything else?”
“I do not!” Critic exclaimed, glancing with worry back at the others, who were now giving him looks of disapproval. “I would never do that to a student! No matter how gorgeous or voluptuous… or reminiscent of Catherine Zeta-Jones…”
“Oh, come now,” the girl said, her smile growing wicked. “Are you going to deny you want me even after I do this?” She dropped the towel and stalked toward Critic, who gasped and tried to cover his eyes with his tie.
“Y-you put that towel back on right now!” he commanded.
“Not until you look, professor,” she purred, trailing a finger down his cheek. “Come on, just a peek? No? Okay, what if I were one of your icons?”
“Wh-what?” Critic released hold of his tie as the young lady’s appearance suddenly changed and he found himself staring at Christopher Walken. A completely nude Christopher Walken.
“Hey… Critic… quit eyeing my junk.”
Critic’s eyes almost glazed over but realization quickly dawned on him. “God damn it, Spoony! How many times have I told you not to fucking do that?”
Walken laughed before changing his appearance once again, ending up this time as a young man who was fully clothed.
“Oh, come on, Critic. You know you love it when I dress up all sexy for you.”
“Asshole,” Critic muttered before turning back to others. “As I was saying, before you were all traumatized by that display, Professor Spoony is an asset the school couldn’t do without… most of the time. His shape-shifting ability is not only awesome, but amazingly useful for gathering information and confusing enemies! His transformations are so good they can fool even me, as you’ve already seen.”
“But how could he fool you?” Y asked. “Why didn’t you use your telepathy to figure out it was him?” Critic’s face reddened as he spluttered for an answer.
“Uh, well, you see, sometimes if I’m really tired… or the position of the moon changes…”
“His power doesn’t work so well when all the blood is flowing to his dick,” Spoony clarified. “That’s really the only explanation for it. Unless he truly believes he’s so irresistible that everyone will eventually come onto him. I guess that would explain this one night, when I slipped into his bedroom looking and sounding like Keith David. Critic really wanted to believe-”
Critic clapped a hand over Spoony’s mouth, his blush deepening.
“Shut up about that!” he hissed before smiling sheepishly at the others. “H-he’s lying.”
“Sure I am.” Spoony shrunk his body to that of a child, slipped out of Critic’s arms, and then changed back. “Come on, let me show you the rest of the place,” he said, continuing down the hallway. “I think Critic needs a minute to collect himself, so I’ll continue the tour.”
“Like hell you will!” Critic rushed after Spoony and reclaimed his rightful spot as leader. “There’s no way I’m letting you fill their heads with weird stories about me!” He cleared his throat and let his charming smile slide back into position. “Now, since you’ve already met Spoony, let me tell you more about Professor Linkara. He is a technopath and one of the smartest, bravest, most amazing men I know-”
“Snowflame desires pudding!”
“Oh, for the love of…” Critic rubbed his temples as a man dressed in a wavy white wig and an armless red suit leapt into the hallway. He peered suspiciously at the tour group.
“You will all bow down to Snowflame!”
“Linkara! For the hundredth time, you are not a supervillain who is powered by cocaine! You are a hero and, more importantly, you are an NC-Man!”
“Snowflame is no Nancy!”
“NC, damn it! Now take off that fucking costume and tell these prospective students about your heroic exploits!”
“Aw, but I’m tired of being a hero,” Linkara whined, pulling the wig off half-heartedly. “Being a villain is so much more fun and could really invigorate me. Can’t I just join the legions of darkness for a little while?” Critic’s glare told him his answer and he sighed. “Fine.” Linkara put on his hat and turned to the three newcomers. “Recently I’ve been creating motorcycles that are powered by playing children’s card games. I hope to use these devices to go back in time and defeat the world’s greatest threat: Ancient Egypt.”
The three looked at Linkara in confusion while Critic goggled at him.
“That’s how you used the three million dollars I gave you? I thought you were building vehicles our team could use to travel to rallies held to celebrate my brilliance! Uh, I mean, uh, emergencies. Yeah, emergencies!”
“If we don’t stop Ancient Egypt in time, the whole world will be pushed into a state of emergency,” Linkara replied. Critic ground his teeth in annoyance.
“Okay, just leave. I want you and Spoony to get out of my sight before I do something that will lose me respect in the eyes of my students.”
“Too late for that,” Y muttered.
“Fine, I’ll go,” Linkara agreed. “I need to check on some satellites I just finished manipulating anyway. If everything worked properly, every television in the world should be able to receive every glorious episode of ‘Star Trek’ at any time, day or night!” He set off then, smiling gleefully.
“That gives me an idea,” Spoony replied in a low tone as he walked beside Linkara down the hallway. “Why don’t you dress up in your Starfleet uniform and I’ll turn into a sexy alien who wants to be conquered by the fearless captain.”
“Snowflame approves of this plan!” Linkara agreed, his smile growing.
“I apologize for them,” Critic said after they’d finally disappeared. “I can assure you that my school is usually a professional zone for improving your mind and training your awesome abilities.” He noticed their skeptical looks and hurried over to a locked room in the middle of another hallway. “Come here and let me show you one of the most amazing things in the world. It’s called the Dangeresque Room, and it’s a training facility like no other! Holographic projections and cunning traps will be placed before you! You will face a number of dangers that you must escape from using only your wits, skills, and the power of teamwork!”
Critic smiled when he realized his audience was finally looking impressed again, so he unlocked the room and flung open the doors while shouting “Voila!”
The trio peeked their heads inside and gazed upon his treasured room with what Critic hoped was awe. It was, but not for the reasons he’d assumed.
“Oh wow, this place looks really awesome,” Psychoneko said with a smile.
“It’s not exactly what I pictured when you were describing it-it’s even better,” Y added.
“This must have cost a fortune,” Coldguy surmised. Critic nodded proudly.
“Yes, I did spend quite a bit to equip this facility, but I believe it was worth every penny.” He pushed past them to see the room for himself and his joy quickly turned to horror.
The room no longer bore any resemblance to a training facility. The walls were covered with colorful posters, while the floor was littered with stacks of movies, video games, comics, expensive looking entertainment systems, and pieces of designer furniture, none of which had been there yesterday. Over in the corner, two people were engaged in a game of Dance Dance Revolution, while on one of the couches sat two odd-looking young men; one sported giant colorful wings from his back, while the other was covered in fluffy orange fur. They were both staring at a plasma-screen TV in obvious boredom.
“All right, it’s your turn to choose. What’s next on the viewing agenda?”
“I’m thinking something involving a time-traveler who didn’t want to go.”
“What the fuck did you do to my Dangeresque Room?” Critic stormed over to the couches and glared at the men as he yelled. “Welshy! Panda! Why did you put all this shit in here? And how did you afford it anyway?”
“Linkara opened your secret safe for us,” Welshy replied. Critic’s expression turned to one of betrayal.
“That bastard! How could he do that to me?”
“We told him that’s what a supervillain would do and he really got into the idea.” Sad Panda shifted on the couch as he spoke, trying to get comfortable. This would have been an easier task to accomplish if it weren’t for the aforementioned wings sticking out of his back.
“Oh wow!” Psychoneko had crept up behind Panda and made him jump at her sudden appearance. “Your wings-they’re just like a butterfly’s!” She reached out to touch them but Panda quickly flew up into the air, keeping his wings out of her reach.
“Shit, Critic,” he said with a scowl, “can’t you warn us before you bring people in who are going to treat us like circus freaks?”
“I didn’t mean to do that,” Psychoneko said softly. “I think your wings are pretty. I just wanted to compliment you. I know what it’s like to have people treat you badly because you look different.” She pointed to her kitty ears, which twitched sadly. Panda considered this before returning to the ground.
“Well, I guess you of all people would know what it’s like. Sorry for being such a dick.”
Psychoneko’s smile returned. “That’s okay. Sorry for trying to touch your wings without asking if I could first.”
“What a lovely sight to see Panda making a connection with someone,” Welshy chimed in from his spot on the couch. “It’s always fantastic when we with awesome abilities can join together to support each other, especially after facing the prejudices of the ‘normal humans’.” He said this last part with air quotes.
“Oh, that’s happened to you?” Psychoneko asked sympathetically. “I’m sorry.”
“Sadly yes, since I happen to look the way I do.” Welshy gestured to his orange-furred body. “Despite just wanting to be treated like a regular guy, I have always been disliked and distrusted because of how I look.” His gaze fell as he spoke. “I have been called every name you could think of: a monster, a brute, a fiend. If I didn’t have this school as a sanctuary, I don’t know what I’d do.”
“That reminds me!” Critic clapped his hands together to draw attention back to himself and looked at Welshy. “I figured out a new gimmick for you! At our next parade, I want you to first fool the crowd into thinking you’re a total weakling thanks to your broomstick physique. Then you’ll start growling and throwing around chunks of buildings that you’ve uprooted from the ground because of your super strength! We’ll call you the Creature and you’ll terrify anyone who sees you so that I look better in comparison!”
Welshy stared at the Critic’s pleased expression in disbelief for a solid minute before sinking down lower into the couch and sighing, covering his face with his hands.
“I’ve heard there are several awesomely-abled people living in the sewers. Maybe they’re looking for a furry ginger to join their ranks.”
“Hey! You’re not going anywhere until you reimburse me for all this crap!” Critic snapped, suddenly remembering what he’d been angry about mere moments before. “Not only is it wasteful, but since the room is filled with this stuff, there’s no way for anyone to train!”
“Well that’s not true, Critic.” It seemed like a blur of color passed through everyone’s line of sight before the girl formerly playing DDR across the room was standing in front of them. Her sudden appearance had taken a fraction of a nanosecond.
“Ugh, don’t do that,” Critic muttered as he rubbed his eyes. “It makes me so damn dizzy.”
“Sorry, prof, but I’m trying to prove a point. Having games around like DDR, Just Dance, and Dance Central are great for strengthening leg muscles and improving coordination. My own super speed has actually increased by .00000000000001 miles per hour thanks to all these games.” She smirked. “They’re also great for when you want to kick Angry Joe’s ass at something.”
“Shut up, Marzgurl!” Joe shouted. A clap of thunder outside punctuated his statement. “You only won because you picked all the songs you know! Not get over here and have a rematch with me! Right now!”
Every time he ended a sentence, another rumble of thunder filled the sky that was louder than the last, and soon everyone was covering his or her ears.
“Joe, cool it!” Critic shouted back to him. “Calm down or you’re going to cause another hurricane!”
“I am perfectly calm!” Joe snapped. Outside a bolt of lightning streaked through the air and the wind bristled angrily through the trees. “And for your information, that hurricane was caused by a low pressure system that formed over the school!” Critic pursed his lips.
“Joe, what caused a low pressure system to form over my school?” Joe’s eyes darted to the floor and he kicked at an invisible rock.
“Uh, well, that was-”
“Because I told him they made a sequel to ‘Sonic Free Riders’,” Panda replied. At once, the air in the room chilled so greatly that everyone started to shiver.
“No,” Joe said in a haunted voice, bringing his hands up to clutch his head, “no, it can’t be true, it can’t.”
“It’s not, Joe,” Marzgurl replied, patting his shoulder in a comforting way. “Panda’s lying to you.”
“I never lie,” Panda said, fluttering his wings indignantly. “I just happen to get every fact wrong.”
“Oh thank God.” Joe smiled again, returning the temperature to normal.
“Okay, enough!” Critic glared around the room. “Whoever does the next thing to piss me off is going to get it!”
“Hey guys, we got the snacks.” The group turned as a man in a Mortal Kombat T-shirt carried a tray of food and drinks into the room. He was followed by another man in a suit.
“I warned you!” To everyone’s shock, Critic pulled out a gun and fired a full round of bullets directly into the man’s chest.
“Oh my God!” Y cried as he watched the man crumple to ground, spilling popcorn and Pepsi all over the floor.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Coldguy and Psychoneko turned to Critic, hands raised and teeth bared respectively, before a moan from the ground startled them.
“I told you not to do that. Not only does it ruin my clothes but it fucking hurts. Bastard.”
“Oh come on, Phelous, lighten up,” Critic said as he put away his weapon. “I was just trying to impress our new students with a show they can tell people about for the rest of their lives.”
“I think I just lost a few years from mine,” Y whispered.
“Well, there goes the new carpet,” Welshy said, looking down at the mess with a shake of his head.
“I told you we should have put in hardwood floors,” Marzgurl added. “We could have easily cleaned those, and they wouldn’t have cost $92,000.”
“What kind of carpet costs $92,000?” Critic screamed.
“I think it was woven by blind, armless monks in Nepal,” Panda replied.
“Screw the carpet! Your blood splattered onto my glasses again, Phelous,” the man in the suit said, sounding quite annoyed. Phelous rolled his eyes.
“I’m so sorry my massive chest wound became an inconvenience for you, Snob. How can I ever make it up to you?”
“Oh, I’ll think of a way.” Snob grinned slyly.
“So, you’re really okay?” Coldguy and Psychoneko seemed unable to tear their eyes from Phelous and were subsequently able to witness his chest spitting out the bullets before the wounds knit together, leaving no evidence that Phelous had ever been hurt.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Critic likes to show off my healing factor every so often to impress new students or benefactors who might donate money to the school… or random crowds of people walking the streets.”
“Seriously?” They turned to Critic with disapproving glares again.
“But it never really damages him!” Critic protested. “What’s wrong with showing off and impressing the world every once in a while? Besides, I’d never do it without Snob around for damage control.”
“Why, what does he do?” Snob’s grin grew at this question.
“Why don’t I answer your question with one of my own?” As he spoke, Snob reached up and pulled off his blood-speckled glasses. While the others quickly shut their eyes or turned away, the three newcomers were swiftly drawn into the gaze of his bright blue eye as if compelled by some invisible force that refused to let them look away. They soon felt a strange sensation pass over them. It was almost as if they’d been dunked underwater, and the world had turned fuzzy and muted.
“Did you really see what you thought you did? I mean, think about it: a man was shot in the chest, but now he stands before you perfectly fine, without a mark on him. I’d like you all to ask yourselves whether such an event could logically happen.”
“No, of course not,” the three chanted, their voices monotonous, their eyes dull and unfocused. Snob chuckled and wiped his glasses clean with Phelous’s shirt. Phelous grimaced but kept his eyes closed.
“That’s what I thought you’d say.” Snob slipped his glasses back onto his face and suddenly the spell was over.
“Huh? What happened?” The trio rubbed their eyes in confusion.
“Is he wearing his glasses again?”
“Indeed I am,” Snob replied. Critic lowered his hands from his eyes.
“So, what’s the last thing you remember?” The three looked confused and shrugged. Critic grinned. “That is how you do damage control.”
“By lulling people into trances which leave them completely vulnerable to attack?” Y asked dryly. Critic’s smile fell.
“That’s not what happens. Snob’s mind-controlling abilities do not remove you so far from reality that you can’t defend yourselves.”
“Oh, Critic, how wrong you are.”
Everyone jumped at the sudden new voice before looking on in astonishment as a young man covered in blue fur appeared directly in front of them. “While they enjoyed gazing into Snob’s eyes, I enjoyed helping myself to whatever was in their pockets.” He giggled, tail waggling happily behind him, as he showed off a handful of wallets and cell phones.
“What the hell?” Psychoneko yelled angrily, while Coldguy moved to grab the items. The thief giggled again and tossed the items into the air, still looking pleased as punch.
“Benzaie, I am shocked!” Critic glared at him, brows furrowed. “We do not use our awesome abilities to steal from others like common criminals!” Benzaie vanished before reappearing directly behind Critic and wrapping his arms around his waist.
“I’m no thief! I’m just a lonely little blue boy looking for someone to play with. Won’t you play with me, Critic?” His tail snaked around Critic’s body as he spoke before the tip started to slide up under his shirt. Critic gasped and tried to pry Benzaie off him.
“For fuck’s sake, Benzaie, stop this!” He turned his reddening face toward the others. “Did one of you give him Mountain Dew again?”
“That’d be me,” Welshy admitted.
“You Scottish bastard!”
“For the last time, I’m Welsh!” he snapped, narrowing his eyes. “And this is just payback for making me do tricks at your last parade like a dog.”
“People love dogs!” Critic protested, still trying to get away from the sugar-fueled teleporter. “I was trying to get them to associate you with something positive-ah, Benzaie!”
“Let’s go somewhere more private,” Benzaie purred, his hands now joining his tail under Critic’s shirt. Desperately, Critic grabbed Coldguy’s arm and pointed it toward Benzaie.
“Let go or I turn you into a furry Popsicle!”
Benzaie’s eyes widened and he instantly disappeared. Seconds later, he reappeared behind Phelous, clinging to the taller man like a human shield. Snob shot him an annoyed look.
“Okay, I have had it up to here with you guys!” Critic yelled, holding Coldguy’s hand high over his head to emphasize his point before finally releasing it. “All of you are going to start an emergency training session right now! And we’re not going to simulate picnics and beach parties in honor of me this time, but real fucking battles with real fucking dangers! So get this crap out of the Dangeresque Room and get ready to experience the holograms from Hell!”
“All right!” Marzgurl cheered before starting a round of warm-up laps around the room. She was just reaching number 5000 when several lightning bolts shot through the air, striking every power generator used by the school. There was a sizzling sound before all the electricity in the building went out, leaving the group in semi-darkness, save the natural light shining in from the windows.
“Oh no, Critic,” Joe said in a tone that didn’t even attempt to mask his happiness, “it looks like a black-out hit us. Now we won’t be able to train in here until the power comes back.”
A sound that could be identified as even louder teeth grinding followed.
“Okay,” Critic said slowly, trying his best to control his anger, “then we will go outside and train. I’ve ordered new obstacle courses, so they should do the trick.”
A clap of thunder outside followed his statement before the sky blackened and rain started to pour down. Critic stared daggers at Joe.
“A little rain can’t hurt awesome people like us,” he said through clenched teeth.
The rain was swiftly joined by whirling winds that tore through the area, trying to uproot any tree or upset any car in their paths. Critic’s eye started to twitch.
“A little rain… and gale-force winds… won’t be enough to stop us…”
Hail the size of soccer balls fell from the sky, creating a horrible raucous that had everyone reaching to cover their ears again.
“Joe, I swear to God!” Critic roared, barely audible over the storm.
“Why are you always blaming me?” Joe called back, which just made Critic scream in rage before he charged at the weather-master. While a chase ensued in the mostly unlit room, and massive property damage was committed thanks to Critic crashing into expensive merchandise every few seconds, the three potential students turned to each other.
“Is anyone else thinking we should get out of here?” Y asked quietly.
“Yes please,” Coldguy replied, while Psychoneko bobbed her head up and down. “Let’s go before that nutjob remembers we’re still here.”
They hurried toward the door and had just slipped out into the hallway when Critic remembered he had telepathy. He diverted his path so that he was now on a course leading directly to the frightened trio.
“Wait! You’re not leaving here without agreeing to be students!” he cried, charging toward them like a deranged man. “I don’t even care if you have useless abilities-you will all join my team and make my dream come true!”
“Oh, Critic. Still trying to recruit more Nancy People for your little superhero games?”
They all turned in surprise as a young woman with pigtails appeared beside two other women at the end of the hallway. The one who’d spoken grinned a little as she snapped her fingers. Instantly the door to the Dangeresque Room closed by itself, a second before Critic slammed directly into it.
“D-damn it, Chick,” Critic called out in a pained voice after opening the door again. “That’s Nancy-men! I mean NC-men!”
“Maybe it’d be easier to remember if you took out the N from the name,” Chick suggested innocently. Critic considered this.
“You think we’d be better off if we were all C-” He broke off with a scowl, which deepened when he saw her chuckling. “Oh, how I loathe you.”
“I love you too, Critic.” Critic’s expression grew even more annoyed when he realized the three of them were soaking wet and dripping water all over his polished marble floors.
“What the hell happened to you anyway?”
“I’m assuming we got caught in another one of Angry Joe’s temper tantrums,” Chick replied before telekinetically wringing out her pigtails, leaving two small puddles beside her feet.
“No, that was to avoid preparing for life-threatening situations we might one day face!” Marzgurl called out cheerfully. Chick nodded.
“Ah yes, I’d forgotten about laziness. Silly me.”
“You also forgot my rules about keeping this place clean,” Critic said, glaring as the puddles around them grew larger. “Will you please go change before you mess up anything else?”
“Don’t worry, Critic, Nella’s going to take care of everything.”
“That’s right!” one of the other girls piped up as a smile broke out across her face. “Fireworks! Go!”
Blasts of warm, colorful light exploded around the soggy trio and within moments completely dried them, as well as the floor. Nella looked to Critic, proudly, and he stared back, blankly.
“Nella, what did I say about using your abilities?”
“Only use them to celebrate the wonder that is you,” she replied sadly. Critic nodded before turning to the third, still-silent member of their group. She had wrapped most of her body in black cloth so that only her watery eyes were visible. “What’s wrong with Raven? She usually never shuts up about vampires and shit, so what’s with the mummy look?”
“She’s probably disgusted that a man with telepathy continues to get her name wrong over and over again,” Chick retorted. Critic rolled his eyes. “But actually, we’ve just discovered that Maven’s powers are not exactly what we thought they were.” Chick patted the despondent girl on her black-clad arm. “We were at the mall and we’d finished spending all the money we took from your safe, so we put on a burlesque show to earn some more-”
“Oh, how befitting of superheroes,” Critic snarked.
“-and this guy put a fifty dollar bill into our basket,” Chick continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted. “So Maven went over to give him a hug and emit some of her pheromones to make him feel even happier about helping us out, but then…”
“He fell to the floor the instant I made contact with his skin,” Maven finished miserably. “He was drained of life, like Lestat would drain a human of precious plasma, and was rushed to the hospital where he now resides. In a coma.” Her eyes welled up with a new batch of tears. “Oh, cruel fate, how you torment me! All my life I’ve yearned to be like the undead creatures I cherish so… and now this gift so cruel you did bestow… I must cover my body, keep it from sight… like a vampire must protect his skin from the light… am I cursed to never touch a soul again… lest I lose an even dearer friend?”
“Okay, I’m out,” Critic said, turning back to Chick. “Why don’t you take Vampirella back to your room until the bad poetry stops?”
“I’ll help too!” Nella volunteered as she and Chick led Maven back down the hall.
“Yeah, great,” Critic muttered before rolling his eyes again. “I’m so glad we have the human sparkler around in times of crisis.”
“Oh, by the way, Critic: Insano built a giant robot and is likely to be wreaking havoc upon the city about now,” Chick said before they turned a corner and disappeared.
“Oh, well that’s-what?”
Critic paled and reached into his pocket before pulling out a tiny television.
“Where’d you get that?” Y wondered.
“I stole it from Linkara,” Critic admitted before fiddling with the tiny knobs on the device. “He has enough crap in that spaceship of his that I’m sure he didn’t even notice this was missing. Oh, here it is!”
“On the positive side of things,” a news anchor announced in a cheerful voice, “a man with the amazing ability to control magnetism and manipulate metal has been doing good deeds with the help of a gigantic robot he controls. This man, an esteemed doctor and scientist named Insano, first appeared riding on top of the robot this morning on the outskirts of town. A raging fire had broken out in the forest bordering our town, but thanks to Insano’s quick thinking, he was able to manipulate Neutro, as the doctor calls the robot, into destroying a water tower. This doused the fire before it could spread to the neighboring elementary school or further.”
“Th-that was an accident!” The camera cut to Insano, who was standing amid a crowd of cheering people, red-faced and fiddling nervously with his goggles. “I didn’t realize the water-tower was there! I was simply trying to obtain an airplane for my son when Neutro’s leg struck it accidentally!”
“Buying a toy for his son,” the anchor cooed. “What a good father.”
“No he isn’t!” Critic cried, shaking the TV a little. “When he said he was looking for a plane, he meant he was trying to grab one out of the sky! How can you not realize that?”
“Insano and Neutro further proved their bravery by stepping on the escape vans of a band of kidnappers who have been plaguing our town and menacing our children for months.”
“That was an accident too!” Insano insisted, now trying to push away people who were attempting to shake his hand or hug him. “I was just taking Neutro for a joy-ride before going to challenge Critic and his school of losers to battle! I am not a hero!”
“Brave, a loving father, and humble,” the anchor replied, her smile growing. “What more could the world ask for in a hero?”
“I can’t believe this!” Critic exclaimed. “Now everyone’s going to think Insano’s a good guy instead of the menace he really is!”
“Well, at least he mentioned you and your school,” Coldguy said, trying to be positive. “That might get more people interested in coming here and could help you move closer to reaching your dream.” Critic sighed but nodded.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“And that’s all the news that’s fit to air,” the anchor concluded. “Thank you and-wait a second! I’m getting a late-breaking report from the mayor!” The anchor grabbed a piece of paper from someone standing off-camera and read it before beaming brightly at the camera. “After hearing about everything Insano’s done for our town, the mayor has decided to work on improving relations between regular humans and humans possessing these wonderful abilities! The mayor is also making tomorrow a holiday to honor the great new hero, Dr. Insano! Truly there is no person more worthy of such a tribute.”
It took six hours and three visits from Catherine Zeta-Jones, courtesy of Spoony, before Critic stopped sobbing on the floor.