Here's that Landon/Penelope story thing I promised Rookie awhile back. It isn't finished yet. This is just the first half or so. It's turning out to be a bit longer than I anticipated.
Also: I'm pretty sure Penelope puts up with a lot more than she would in one of her normal stories. Just chalk it up to her being a bit more forgiving in the Landonverse.
Two hours ago, Unicorn Boy received his first compliment.
“Wow! I love your rainbow wig? Where did you buy it?”
Ten minutes later he received another.
“That horn is seamless! Are you a professional makeup artist?”
Those comments started accumulating fairly quickly as the morning progressed and more geeks and nerds and freaks arrived at the Central Texas Animethon.
“That’s the best OC cosplay I’ve ever seen!”
“That skirt is beautiful! Do you have any sewing tips?”
“I-- I-- umm-- will you be my shouta trap waifu?!”
Unicorn Boy pranced about the halls of the convention, playing the role of nerd diva to perfection. Even sociopathic serial killers need a little social validation every now and then, and he decided to milk his latest prey’s tastes to the max-- a shark in geek’s clothing. Unicorn Boy dolled himself up in a gaudy, rainbow-colored sweet lolita dress and three inch platform mary janes. He donned the skin of the enemy’s perverse sexual fantasies knowing it would tantalize the deeply suppressed yearnings of the undersexed teenaged reject.
It was a set-up of extreme sadism. Seduce a youth who would never have a chance in hell of acting upon his lust, penetrate his imagination with fantasies he only experienced through a visual novel porn game, and then penetrate his gullet at the height of his arousal.
Crush the pathetic in the most pathetic manner possible. The slaughtering of hope was almost better than the actual, physical slaughter.
That last admirer, a slightly gangly fellow in an oversized trench coat and an internet mash-up t-shirt depicting Rei Ayanami in Sailor Moon’s sailor fuku, had been following Unicorn Boy and waited until he was walking down a lightly-trafficked hallway away from the main convention rooms. Unicorn Boy smiled, realizing this was the prime candidate for geek death zero. Fewer witnesses. Fewer people running away in panic. More chances to catch victims off guard once the murdering began.
“Like your shirt,” Unicorn Boy said as he circled around his target, making no attempt to feminize his voice. “Think it’d look good on me?” He pirouetted, allowing his skirt to flow up, exposing the pink lace of his thigh highs.
The boy stuttered, incapable of forming words.
Unicorn Boy took a large, gentle step towards the kid, bending at the waist slightly so as to meet with him eye to eye. The tip of Unicorn Boy’s nose brushed up against the boy’s. That slight amount of physical contact caused the boy to instinctively jump back, but his eyes continued to be trained in Unicorn Boy’s direction. Or at least in the direction where he expected him to be.
As the boy leapt back, Unicorn Boy teleported behind the kid, reared back, and impaled the boy straight through the stomach.
“Sorry dear,” Unicorn Boy said sweetly as he lifted the kid into the air, “there’s always blood during the first time.” He then curtsied to the shocked onlookers and teleported away, The kid dropped to the ground, a big goofy grin on his dying face.
Two hours ago, Penelope received her insult, indirectly.
“I bet that girl’s never even seen Naruto.”
Ten minutes later she received another, again indirectly.
“She’s probably only here for the rave tonight.”
Those derisions started accumulating fairly quickly as the morning progressed and more geeks and nerds and freaks arrived at the Central Texas Animethon.
“Hot Topic much?”
“She’s probably only here for her boyfriend.”
“Away with thee, fake geek!”
Penelope wanted to crack a few skulls as she slinked about the halls of the convention. She was here on business. Word on the street was that a certain someone who needed a severe revenge beating would be attending this convention. Not one of those specimens of human scum who need their brains painting the sidewalk, just a creep in long need of a stern talking to and a stern fist to the jaw. The realm of the geek was all but alien to her. The squicky leering of the male creature-- where every pair of masculine eyes was looking at you like a filet mignon in fishnets-- wasn’t a new thing, but the way so many of these eyes did so in such an awkward, inexperienced manner was almost charming. Creepy and problematic, but charming-- like a deer masquerading as a coyote or some shit.
“Where is this bastard,” Penelope growled to herself. “It shouldn’t be this hard to find a thirtysomething white dude in a sea of teenager refuse.” She thought about calling him one more time, but he hadn’t answered his phone the last ten times she tried earlier that morning. He was either purposely ignoring her, or he couldn’t hear it over the buzz of nerdy reverie.
As Penelope put her phone back into her rucksack, that’s when the screaming started. Not the sort of screaming she quickly realized was common in these surroundings, but genuine, god-fearing screams of terror. The crowd didn’t seem to notice it, since it was distant and largely buried under the general bustle, so no one was making a move yet. She paused and listened with a bit more intent. After a couple more seconds of screaming she had a general idea where the commotion was coming from and started to sprint in that direction.
Unfortunately she wouldn’t make it to the initial crime scene.
As Penelope rounded the corner, a flash of light erupted in front of a group of kids wearing headbands. The garishly-clad figure who appeared with the flash grabbed a girl with pink hair and smashed her face into a window repeatedly.
“Don’t give me your shit about “feels,” Sakura!” the figure shouted, flinging the girl out the window. “You’ll never understand how Sasuke feels!”
As this was going on, Penelope was making a mad dash to intervene. She recognized the horn of the assailant and knew he’d be long gone by the time she was within range to attack him. Instead, she was more intent on trying to save the poor girl who was suffering his psychotic wrath. She saw what was coming: Unicorn Boy would toss the girl out the window, sending her plummeting down five stories into oncoming traffic. Not only would the poor girl splatter all over the place, the ensuing wreck would probably kill a few more people as well.
Penelope reached into her backpack and snagged her grappling hook. She tossed the line down at the girl, grabbing a hold of her ankle scant feet away from the roofs of the passing cars. Instead of hoisting the girl back up to the fifth floor, Penelope tried to slow the girl’s fall and set her down in the bushes lining the side of the hotel.
Penelope turned to the girl’s friends. “Get down there, get her to a hospital, and get as fucking far away from this place as you can.”
Two hours ago, no one said anything to Landon.
Ten minutes later, the same.
The first time anyone at the Central Texas Animethon-- other than the dude who gave him his badge at registration-- acknowledged Landon’s existence was when he was looking through some Street Fighter doujin. A kid in a trench coat took one look at the cover of that magazine-- a relatively tasteful picture of Chun Li posing in a suggestive manner-- and scoffed.
“How can you like that old hag? She’s probably in her twenties! Disgusting.”
Landon may have been acknowledged, but he didn’t reciprocate. Had this been one of his buddies, or at least someone not half his age, he would have made some snarky comeback. Something about being an uncouth philistine who can’t appreciate the absolute sex of the mighty Thunder Thighs.
That was about as much human interaction Landon expected at one of these conventions. When you’re old enough to be some of these kids father, you’re already in the hole. But it gets worse when you aren’t indulging in the cosplay thing. If you aren’t strutting about, playing some absurd game of otaku peacocking, no one bats an eye at you. You may as well not exist. It’s even worse if you aren’t decked out in nerd attire. What? You aren’t wearing a t-shirt with a nerd culture-approved pop culture reference? Are you a narc? No man, I don’t have pot on me. Don’t tell my mom!
Landon didn’t give a fuck. This was the shit he liked, and no amount of juvenile hive mind peer pressure was going to stop him from going to a convention, spending money on action figures he’ll never open, and ogling that girl decked out as Haruhi Suzumiya.
Or that other girl Landon spotted while walking out of the dealer room. That girl who A) is wearing the best Rarity cosplay he’s ever seen and B) might actually be of an age where he’d only get disapproving glares from his friends if they were present. She was standing around with a group of girls doing a My Little Pony photo shoot. Landon walked over and made the universal sign for “Hey, can I get a shot,” but as soon as they started to pose, a burst of light all too familiar to Landon erupted before him.
As the light subsided, four of the girls-- all of whom were conveniently not unicorn ponies-- collapsed to the ground, various gaping wounds in their chests and stomachs spurting blood. The two remaining girls were still in shock as Unicorn Boy slipped between them and put his arms around them.
“Racial bias is magic,” Unicorn Boy said as he grabbed the unicorn horns on each girl’s head. “But-- Rarity is best pony.” With that, he deftly snapped the neck of the Twilight Sparkle cosplayer, winked at Landon, and teleported away.
“While I agree with your opinion,” Landon said as he snapped a picture of the aftermath, “ I disapprove of your means of expressing it.”
By this point, panic was erupting all around the convention center. Six kids were dead or dying. Sirens of all types could be heard in the distance, mingling with the screams of panicked fans racing in every direction trying to find the quickest way out of the building. Penelope was searching the halls and back rooms for people panicking or stragglers who weren’t aware of what was going down-- the very sorts of easy targets that crossdressing unicorn psycho would target in this situation.
She wound her way into the video game hall. The place reeked-- that infamous gamer funk lingering despite everyone evacuating. Well, almost everyone. One guy was sitting in front of a small widescreen TV-- controller in hand, playing King of Fighters ‘96, and seemingly oblivious to the carnage taking place. But Penelope knew better. She knew this asshole was all too aware of his surroundings. He just didn’t give a fuck.
Landon saw the reflection of Penelope as she quickly approached him from behind. He knew what was coming, but he figured he kind of deserved it.
“Hey Penelope,” he said with smile as he stood up and turned around. “Didn’t expect you--”
Penelope swung with her right fist, smashing it into the side of Landon’s face. Landon tumbled over the table upon which the TV was sitting, and he caught himself before landing head first onto the tile floor. He awkwardly slipped down into a sitting position on the floor and looked up as Penelope jumped onto the top of table and glared in his direction.
“This is all your fault, I’m sure,” Penelope said as she reached into her sack and pulled out her baseball bat.
Landon felt his teeth, feeling for anything that came loose. Nope. They’re all there. “I guess it’s my fault that you’re at an anime convention, sure. Sorry for that.”
“Damn sure you’re responsible for that, but you’re also damn sure that’s now what I’m talking about. The unicorn. Friend of yours, I bet. Even if he isn’t and this is all some hilariously sick coincidence, I think I’ll still blame you. Pity I can’t, seeing how I need you for something.”
Landon blushed. “I’m flattered.”
“You aren’t my first choice, asshole, but you aren’t my last either. Want to get shoved to the bottom of that list? And by that I mean shoving this--”
“No. No. That-- is something I can do without.” Landon reached out to Penelope with his hand. “Help a guy up?”
Penelope rolled her eyes, turned around, and hopped down from the table, leaving Landon to help himself up.
“But no. Unicorn Boy? Not a friend of mine. But I wouldn’t call it coincidence. Destiny? Nah. Fate? Nah. I like calling it convergence. Where shit goes down not because or some sort of cosmic godly predestined schedule, but--”
Landon prattled on, something that amounted to nitpicky word games defining words based on the level of existential dread they implied compared to the fear of god-like forces. Penelope did her best to ignore it, catching glimpses of Landon’s rant as she helped a few stragglers find the police officers who were finally on the scene.
Penelope half-expected the unicorn to pop into the picture, snatch away the two kids she just helped save, and drop them from the roof or some other grisly, nasty trick. But he didn’t. The kids and the cops made a clean getaway while she and Landon quietly slipped back into the convention halls.
“That would have been too predictable, what you were thinking,” Landon said as they ducked behind a corner to avoid the prying eyes of the SWAT team storming into the convention dealer room. “A couple of quick kills are shocking. They scare the shit out of everyone. Everyone thinks they’re next. That turns his horn hard just as much as the actual kill, watching everyone freak out like that. But that moment was way too convenient. That last moment where you think you’re safe but the monster bursts out of the ground and eats you is far too cliched for him. He’d call it shock and yawn.”
“Not a friend of yours, huh?”
Landon looked back and forth, as if looking for someone. “Friend of a friend. That guy you sometimes end up hanging out with only because someone else you like invited him. You don’t like the guy, buy you gotta put on airs to be polite.”
“I’m hurt,” a familiar voice said from the other side of the vacant dealer room. “And here I thought we developed a real bond over tea that day, swapping stories about those who met their end by our hands.” Unicorn Boy skipped into view, his rainbow dress more red and brown than any other color.
The anger Penelope was feeling was all too visible. She wanted to reach over and wring Landon’s neck after hearing this unicorn thing talk like they’re all buddy-buddy, but she knew that the instant she directed her attention away from it and towards Landon it would zip across the room and gorge her in some demeaning manner. Instead, she focused herself and her anger completely upon the more pressing target.
“Do we get some spiel about your absurd, irrational motivations,” Penelope asked as she spun her bat around and slowly moved forward, “or are we cutting straight to the violence?”
Unicorn Boy replied, taking steps and teleporting in the same movement, moving further away from Penelope and Landon with every step forward he made.
“A unicorn never needs a reason to kill,” Unicorn Boy replied, taking steps and teleporting in the same movement, moving further away from Penelope and Landon with every step forward he made. “But if you must know, I was here for revenge.”
“Hey, I know we don’t always agree man,” Landon said as he nervously stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets, “but revenge? On me? Was it really that personal?”
Unicorn Boy laughed. “You? This isn’t about you. It isn’t always about you. Fucking egotistical jerk. And no, I don’t want revenge on you. Maybe some playful brutality, but not the sort of gleeful revenge I wanted today. I wanted revenge on them.” Unicorn Boy spread his arms out wide and radiated light from his horn, allowing all of the blood and filth on his clothing to shine brightly. “These deviant creatures killed something very precious to me, and their selfish, hooligan-like actions could never be forgiven.”
“What could a bunch of lifeless shut-ins and jobless dorks do to something like you?” Penelope asked with a healthy dose of disgust.
“That!” Unicorn motioned towards one of the vacated booths, the light from his horn projecting upon the art strung about it. Said art depicted various My Little Pony characters-- some in suggestive poses, some drawn in human-like forms. “These beasts took such a sweet and innocent show and turned it into that! When this show first started, it was brilliant. It conditioned the youth to not only accept unicorns and other mythical beasts, it also told those young minds that we were something to idolize. Much like how Brahm Stoker’s works put the fear of the vampire into the public’s psyche, My Little Pony made an entire generation of children fill with awe for us. It was a statement of our innate dominance over lesser sentient species.
“When Friendship is Magic started, we believed it would be the dawning of a new age. We unicorns would enter into the public subconscious, and perhaps we could rise up and take our rightful place as leaders of this world. This cartoon could be the vessel to condition the public to better accept our kind.
“But no. Instead of finding a new generation of pliable minds we found a race of subhuman troglodytes who took our sacred image and turned it into wank material. The unicorn wasn’t an object of adoration, but an object of lust. We didn’t elicit awe or worship, we only elicited some abstract concept of “feels” in their heart. What the fuck is a feel? I’d demand they define their emotions, but I don’t believe their kind to be capable of such.
“So yes, I am here for revenge against your kind, Landon. I know your love of the show is genuine and pure, but your kind must be purged from this land. They must be punished for robbing unicornkind of their agency. That, and I just had to show off this dress I just picked up. It’s too damn cute to not flaunt.”
Penelope wanted to be disgusted with Unicorn Boy’s rant. He murdered who knows how many innocent kids over the sort of petty nerd rage you see on shit like Twitter or Tumblr. He was trying to wax social justice when all he wants to do is excuse his murderous intentions.
At the same time, she kind of got where he was coming from. This sick fanboys were taking his image and turning it into objectified filth. That’d piss off most people. Not to the point of mass murder, but definitely irk-worthy.
Still, this unicorn thing needed to die.
“So let me get this straight,” Penelope said, hoisting her bat on her shoulder, “You killed some kids because some of them might have drawn porn based on a little girl cartoon?”
“More or less, yes.”
“You mean like the magazine that Landon’s hiding in his inside jacket pocket?”
Unicorn Boy’s eyes filled with tears. “I-- I thought you understood, Landon! I really did! How-- how could you?”
Landon, who had been fumbling around in his pockets with some such thing and not really paying attention to Unicorn Boy’s little rant, pulled out the magazine Penelope was talking about. “This thing? Nah, man, this is Street Fighter porn. Not Pony porn. I mean, Chun Li might have thighs as think as a horse’s, but man, no, not Pony porn.”
Penelope sighed, her diversion to get Unicorn Boy riled up and focused on the lesser of his two targets a no-go. “Fine. Whatever. You go wack it to your little comics while the big kids kill each other.”
Unicorn Boy took his cue and vanished out of sight. For the half second it took for Unicorn Boy to finish his teleportation, Penelope closed her eyes and quickly focused. When Unicorn Boy reappeared directly above her, his horn pointed down and his entire body spinning in preparation for drilling a hole through Penelope’s body, Penelope was ready. She jumped to the side, reached into her bag, and tossed several throwing knives towards Unicorn Boy. One of the blades clipped the tip of Unicorn Boy’s horn while the other two lodged into his right arm. When he instinctively ported with the blow, the knives remained, dropping to the ground.
Penelope spun around, expecting the unicorn to pop behind her. Instead, she heard a loud crash off in the distance, as a display table filled with cheap knockoff swords was hurled across the dealer room floor. As it reached its apex, Unicorn Boy teleported to the front of it, reached for several of the unsheathed blades, and hurled them at Penelope before vanishing again. A couple managed to surprise Penelope and slice into her legs before she started batting them away. The last blade Unicorn Boy threw-- a particularly large, wide, butcher knife-like sword-- was intentionally batted by Penelope in Landon’s direction.
Landon was doing most of what Penelope had suggested. He had found a particularly comfortable chair in one of the dealer booths-- one that was far enough away from the action while still within eyesight-- and was digging into his Chun Li fan comic. Turns out he got ripped off. It was a “safe” doujin-- just a few pin-ups and a poorly-written fanfic-like story about Chun-Li training Sakura or some shit. Just as Landon was sighing and putting the comic back into its bag, the sword Penelope had sent in his direction flew by, pinning said comic to the wall behind him.
When Landon looked to see who threw that sword in his direction, he saw the display table splitting in half just as it reached the ground. Penelope smashed through it with a massive upswing of her bat, and Landon could see just how pissed she was.
“Will you get the fuck over here and help me get rid of this unicorn?”
“Yes Landon,” Unicorn Boy said as he appeared in Landon’s lap, “why don’t you help the lass. I won’t take it personally.” Unicorn Boy wrapped his arms around Landon’s neck, planted a kiss on Landon’s cheek, and ported away, leaving bright purple lipstick in his wake.
Landon stood up, reached into his “hammerspace” pocket, and drew out a revolver. He tossed it over to his left hand then reached back in and pulled out two large metallic rings. He swung one around his finger, and the other seemed to orbit around it, like there were a magnetic pull keeping the two rings linked together.
“Hey, I’m sure that kiss was unexpected and all,” Penelope said as she eyed the magnetic inhibitor handcuffs in Landon’s hand, “but there’s no need to make this situation any more awkwardly kinky than it already is. We don’t need the bondage, just the sadism.”
“Just keep him moving,” Landon said in an uncharacteristically serious tone, observing his surroundings. “Knowing him, he’ll likely pop up-- there!” Landon leveled his gun at another weapon dealer’s booth just as Unicorn Boy teleported behind one of its tables. Landon fired before Unicorn Boy could use the display to his advantage, forcing him to teleport away.
“Back to back?” Penelope asked as she slowly worked her way towards Landon. He nodded, and they lined up behind one another, slowly pivoting and keeping an eye on their surroundings.
“Gunfire this way!” a voice yelled from the hallway, and in a few moments a half dozen SWAT officers poured into the dealer room, their weapons trained on Penelope and Landon. “Drop your weapons! Drop your weapons!”
“Perfect,” Landon said, without a hint of sarcasm. As he started to lower his weapon, Unicorn Boy made the move Landon anticipated. Unicorn Boy teleported along side Landon, wrested his gun out from his grasp, and tried to fire upon the cops. Seeing this coming, Landon quickly slapped the cuffs of the inhibitors around Unicorn Boy’s wrists, knocking the gun to the ground before he could get a shot off. Landon could feel a surge of energy flow through Unicorn Boy’s arm, as if he were trying to channel the energy to teleport away, but Unicorn Boy didn’t vanish into thin air. He remained where he stood, just as much of a target of the SWAT officers as Landon and Penelope.
Penelope groaned. “What now?”
“This,” Unicorn Boy said as he lifted his hands into the air, surrendering.
Penelope and Landon shrugged and did the same.