"Now we brainstorm. This is where we recoup our losses from the day, figure out an angle so we can win next time. So don't hold back. Share any detail, no matter how insignificant."
"Grue's power isn't just darkness. You can't hear in there either. And it feels strange too," Browbeat spoke, "There's resistance, like you're underwater, but not floating."
"Good," Gallant wrote that in Grue's column, "Next?"
"What if he controls any darkness?"
Gallant sighed. "Clock-"
"No, no, hear me out. I had some serious 'pucker factor' all through that fight, and it wasn't just the existential threat of all those bugs getting all up in my wazoo."
"Gal, it's always dark inside your butthole. What if Grue was using that against us?"
The table was silent until Vista broke it. The silence, that is.
"Clock, what the fuck."
"They knew we were coming, Vista!" Clock slammed an Aegis-gloved hand down on the conference table, winced. "What if, like, he can sense our butthole shadows, and that's how they knew how to deal with us and Glory Girl?"
Vista's eyes were like cookie cutters, sweet and sharp. "No! That's dumb! Everyone poops, Clock, everyone has a butthole, including all the people in the bank-"
"It's actually surprisingly likely," a voice interrupted from the doorway as the white-robed healer who was Panacea in her healer's costume stepped into the Wards room. "Even though everyone has the same organs- that's just biology- the structure and location of those organs inside each person is both distinct and unique."
She paused, aware all eyes were upon her. "I'm just saying that I've seen a lot of intestines, and it's not as strange as you think."
"See? See!?" Clockblocker thumped the table again. "That's what Grue was doing! He was tracking our unique butthole shadows, all along, and Panacea confirmed it!"
Dean winced under his helmet. "Clock, I will pay you a staggering sum of money to never use the phrase 'butthole shadow' ever again."
"...I think there's a workaround," Kid Win said, shifting in his chair as all eyes fell on him. Like wolverines.
"Let's assume that Grue can track our butt-" he cut himself off as Gallant raised a hand, already armed because it was on the end of an arm, but also charged with one of the young empath's emotion-kinetic blasts. "-rectal darkness signatures. It shouldn't be too hard to come up with some sort of illumination solution, I can finally maybe work something out with Armsm-"
"I am not shoving Tinker glowsticks in my asshole to fight the forces of darkness!" Vista shrieked, her adorable fists beating a frenzied tattoo on the arms of her chair.
"I said, solution!" Kid Win shouted back. "Just because Armsmaster has a stick up his ass doesn't mean- it wouldn't be hard to produce a luminescent liquid that's resistant to digestive processes-"
Clockblocker's head lifted, clearly interested. "So, like, a friendly enema? Would it make my poops glow?"
Dean heard a wet squelch, turned his head, saw Aegis shove a hand into the gaping wound in his chest as he looked up at Dean, his eyes bleak behind Clockblocker's featureless helmet as his fingers curled around his heart.
And squeezed, his hand spasming as he stopped his own heart, falling forward onto the table.
As the argument continued- Panacea had pulled up a chair, and was saying something about integrating luciferin generation into digestive villi- Dean found himself envying the peace Carlos had found.