PART FIVE: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Call to Action
By Mary “Harley Quill” Jest
Another morning, a mission done. And I’m never going to be called again…
Or so I thought.
I think what gets to me the most about this whole thing is that I am literally just meat, this slab of flesh that is used to be thrown away and destroyed. I’m not crazy. Seriously, I’m not. I was just a girl that got into… a pretty bad relationship.
I fell in love, did some bad crap with that person, lost my position in the Psychology Society, and here I am today. Being called when I thought the mission was over. I’m steaming, obviously. I’m so freaking angry.
So, it’s a large building; this large, corporate foundation, and standing outside of it were kids in slacks and shorts, looking unprofessional, compared to me.
I wore a dress, a business professional dress, red in color. All of these boys froze and stared at me.
“What.” I grumbled, “I looked up the place on the GPS, and I figured we were just supporting Shaun’s job application or something.”
“…No…” Shaun said.
The Squad consisted of Shaun, Tony, Nathan, Ronald, and these two other guys… I think the Crazy Quilt guy and that freaky guy… Kanigher or whatever. I gave Ronald a big hug.
“Hi, Mary…” He said.
“How are you, little guy?”
“I… I didn’t want to come back…”
“Yeah, I agree with you.” I gave Shaun a side glance, and our eyes met. Then he looked away from me, embarrassed. That’s a kid. That is a freaking kid.
“Listen, whenever I have you guys do what I needed you to do, you can go home, okay?”
“It’s a Saturday, Shaun. We should be resting.” Nathan said, “Justice rests on a Saturday.”
“Sunday.” Tony grumbled. Nathan looked at him, “The bible said that God rests on a Sunday, so our general metrics for sleeping and resting is based on Sunday being the day we rest. It’s kind of, like, more representative of a Christian-dominated world, but I know many people, even when my dad was… well, alive, who’d work on Sundays.”
Silence, “Are you okay, C.M.?” Nathan asked Tony.
“Never have been. National Mental Health day was on October 10th, we’re almost a month ahead of it.”
“Is that the only day you take for mental health?” I asked Tony. He looked away from me, “Tony…” I said with disappointment.
“Are you a psychiatrist?” That Kanigher kid asked, “the Fiddler told me not to trust you people.”
I only use Harley because of her psychiatrist side. People immediately think I’m, like, the crazy ex-girlfriend, and at times, I am. But I’m not.
“No, I’m- uh, I’m hoping to go into college for psychology, but, like, I’m not a psychiatrist right now.”
“But we just love to vent to her!” Nathan confessed.
“Yeah, ever since our mission together we’ve kind of become really tight.” I said. Shaun looked kind of sad, “Don’t look so down, Shaun.” I said, “You can hang out.” Truth is, none of the other members of our GC liked Shaun. We’ve heard about how he’s been getting meaner, and it bothered me. It wasn’t what I told him to be.
Anthony – the Crazy Quilt kid – looked like he was down in the dumps. Shadows under his eyes, and he moved back and forth, as though he had been unable to sleep. I reached my hand out, and he glanced at it, and slowly he held it, wrapping me into a hug and starting to cry.
“They won’t let him come back.” He told me, “They won’t let Don come back.”
“I’m sorry.” I said.
“It’s so unfair.”
And then, in a whisper into my ear, in between sobs, “It’s all Shaun’s fault that it happened.” He blamed. I didn’t know if it was true, and maybe it wasn’t, but the anger was there. I let him cry it out on my professional fit, and then I let him go.
“… Are we ready?” Shaun asked.
“I don’t even know what we’re going to do…” I said. All the clowns in the world, and I’m supposed to look like one.
By Shaun-Zhang “Rick Flag” Snyder
Going back to beginnings and basics, huh?
Aunt Snyder had sent me an email about stopping this last stretch of Funtime; we had to stop them from getting to the superintendent. A superintendent is the top person of the entire school system, according to Wikipedia. Principals report to the superintendent, so they hold a lot of power, and it makes sense that this Fako person is going to this person. I have no clue who it is, though. I don’t know anything about the Superintendent. Not even the name. For some reason, this city is big on secrets; you can’t even find their name anywhere.
“I don’t even know what we’re going to do…” Mary said.
“Me neither, pal.” I said, “I just know that the Thinkerigami gave us the floor plans, and I’m pretty sure that the office is on a certain floor, so we’re just going to go in there and woo a secretary and get an audience with this guy.”
“Woo people?” Nathan said, “Remember what I did for all of those teachers during the Kane job?” He removed his arm, “This woos people.”
“Put that back on now or I’m going to throw up.” Tony demanded, “Please, I can feel the chunks starting to brew.”
“Ugh, fine.” Nathan said, slowly hoisting his arm back into position, and locking it into place, “So… no Arm-Fold-Off Boy showing off his talent to get us where we need to go?”
“No, bro.” I said, “Let’s just go in there and find out. I’ll lead the convo.”
The squad was in place, they had all of their necessary equipment, and I couldn’t help but bite my tongue because I had chosen everyone carefully for this mission.
We entered through the revolving doors, John Kanigher struggled to figure out how to move through it, slowing us all down. Eventually we got through it, and a lady sat at a marble table, typing away on a black, flat screen monitor. She looked up at me, and smiled.
“Ah, Shaun-Zhang Snyder… We’ve been expecting you and your group. Your names?” She asked us.
“Joe Mama.” Nathan said with confidence. Each name she wrote down, without a second thought.
“Handsome. First initials I.M.” Tony snickered.
“Dick Zanbolz!” Ronald exclaimed, in memory of his old, slight enemy of CodCrease.
“Mary Jest.” Mary said.
“The Fiddler!” John Kanigher held his puppet up.
“Anthony Irwin.” Anthony sighed.
“Alrighty, I have you all down. The elevator will take you to the highest floor, which is where your meeting will be.” She then smiled, “Best of luck.”
“Well, guys, let’s go.”
To Squash a Bug
By Anthony “Crazigami Quiltigami” Irwin
A superintendent’s building is way different than a school building. It’s a whole functioning place, it’s own business, full of employees in suits, walking back and forth. Right now, it’s filled to the brim, and here we are, dressed like regular high school students… except for Mary, who’s in a business professional fit.
Shaun leads the way. With every step he takes, I want to punch him. But I hold it in – if I’m going to get expelled, it won’t be because I beat his smug little face in. It’s funny, though – most of these people here are considered the “most important” and “most effective” members of the team, at least, those that weren’t expelled. For some reason, most of them were from the Kane job. I’m walking next to a literal child, who looks scared out of his mind. He has never been anywhere this nice before. We cram together in an elevator, and it’s stuffy. The light immediately goes up for the fifteenth floor, the highest floor there.
“Are… are any of you guys scared?” Nathan pipes up.
“Never thought you’d be scared.” Tony sighed.
“Well, there’s five doors. That’s odd – five doors behind the main office. The Thinker got the floor plans online. It seems like there’s plenty of ‘office’ space. I bet each one will have someone there, trying to prevent us from getting in, y’know?” Shaun said, “So stay calm, and we’ll all get out of this fine.”
“… That’s why you brought us here.” Mary grumbled, “You think we can take down these challenges or whatever.”
The elevator dings and opens. Don had taught me something; that if there’s ever a danger, to find the exits, and look for any cameras. There were two exits: This elevator, and the emergency staircase. Meanwhile, there was a camera, but upon us entering the area, it mysteriously cut. I think it was the Thinker’s doing. When we all stepped out, there was a long hallway, with doors on each side, and then a door at the very end. Standing outside of this door was a kid, about my height. He had his hands on his waist, and he was tapping his foot.
“The fabled Shredder Squad!” He exclaimed.
We all stared at him; we couldn’t quite make out who this was. The offices around him were empty.
“Yeah, who are you?” Tony asked.
“That doesn’t really matter. I know who you all are: Tony Zazonnie, Anthony Irwin, Shaun Snyder, Mary Jest…” A smile crept across his face, “Ronald Lamden.”
“Listen, kid. There’s one of you, and seven of us.” Nathan Legions says, “Move. You’re probably just a menace anyways.”
“I… I said what I said.” Nathan looks around us, “Guys, was I being loud enough?”
He reaches into his pocket, revealing a new, improved, red puppet. The details are intricate, but, at such a distance, it was impossible to say who it was.
“I’m the Fold!” He announced.
“… Matthew Yen?” Kanigher says, “Uh, guys… this is dangerous. That’s the Fold.”
“Nope. Not him. His younger cousin.”
I could see the chills rise on Shaun’s arms. He looked over at Ronald, whose eyes widened with realization.
“Jonathan Yen…” Ronald grumbled.
“Always a pleasure to see the King Crease. How’s being off the track and football team been for you?”
The nine year old, kid rage, blew up from Ronald. He pushed everyone away from him, making us step back.
“You ruined everything with that freakin’ story.” He grumbled.
“I did? Or maybe we shouldn’t have a literal child play a sport that, well, me and my cousin are just so much better at.”
Ronald continued to step towards him. Jonathan made another step. Then another.
“You ruined everything.” Ronald grumbled again. Jonathan, snarkily, looked at his watch.
“Come on, man. I got some things to get to. I’m the Fold now. I even got this cool puppet and everything.”
“What happened to the ‘punching and kicking’ you?!” John Kanigher asked, “The Fiddler told me you were always doing that!”
“I’ve been going to a dojo. I found peace; I don’t need to punch my way out. I am calm now. No more exclamation points…”
Suddenly, Ronald broke into a sprint. That same smile formed across Jonathan’s lips, “Finally. The King Crease v. Fold rematch. I’ve been waiting for this.”
Ronald threw a punch from the right. Jonathan dodged it, and followed it with his own punch. Ronald grunted with the contact. Ronald, again, tried punching, but missed. Another hit on Jonathan’s part.
“Do you need help!?” Mary asked.
“No!” Ronald exclaimed, “I need to do this.”
Mary turned to us, “That is a child out there. He shouldn’t be taking such a beating.”
Shaun wouldn’t stop staring, “Just watch.” He said.
Jonathan, with exquisite speed, continued to punch at Ronald.
“You know what’s funny?” Jonathan said, “I was a part of the Young Justcrease. I led that team. I took down Granny Goodness with a group. I was in Washington DC, I helped expose Alan Wade, I helped do what’s right. I have fought so, so, so-so-so many bad guys. I am the superior Fold. I’ve done more than my cousin, I’m better than him, and – best of all – I haven’t broken a leg.”
“Yet.” Ronald grumbled.
“Is… Is that a threat? Tough talk from a kid that barely stands above four feet.”
Ronald started to dodge some of Jonathan’s blows. Jonathan began doing this stupid jumpy thing, saying “C’mon, come on. Hit me.”
But Ronald didn’t. He grabbed him. The strength of a nine year old, jacked up on adrenaline, is crazier than a quilt. He pushed Jonathan into the glass of one of the offices. We heard the slight crack of it, and winced as Jonathan smiled.
“That’s all you got?”
Ronald threw him across the hallway. Jonathan slid across the floor, and landed back at that door. Ronald runs to him, but Johnathan kicks back at him, in the groin.
“Oh Goodness.” Mary said, “That has to hurt.”
“Why… Why aren’t you flinching?”
“Codpiece.” Ronald said casually.
“…What?” Jonathan, confused and sidelined, was then socked in the face. Then he was hit again, and again. Then he was turned over, and dragged to the middle of the hallway.
“You know what’s funny?” Ronald asked, mocking Jonathan – it’s funnier to me because it’s a squeaky, nine year old’s voice saying this, “For a year now I’ve thought about how I’d take my revenge. How I’d become better in the light of the school. But I know that you’d come back every time to destroy me somehow. You’re just a bully.”
“Wait, wait, dude, we could work this out.” Jonathan said, fear rising in his throat, “I’m sorry man.”
“But… I think there’s no better way to get my revenge than to show you that King Crease is a Shark.”
He proceeded to put his entire weight – plus his elbow – upon both of Johnathan Yen’s legs. We heard the snap, and then the proceeding scream.
“MY LEGS!!!!” Jonathan exclaimed.
“And you’re nothing but a kid. Now you’re going to tell the school that I’m a good person, and you’re going to make sure that I am left alone. Got it?”
Jonathan was sobbing so hard that he passed out. Ronald bent down, picked up Jonathan’s watch, and placed it on his wrist.
“I’m going home. Bye guys.” He then stepped into the elevator and left, leaving us alone with the kid with a broken leg.
It’s Not “National Puzzle Day” (January 29)
By Tony “Calendarigami Man” Zazonnie
“You know today is national Dress Like a Dork Day.” I said to Nathan while in the hallway. Jonathan Yen was behind us, curled into a ball, knocked out cold.
“Really? Is that why you’re wearing that getup?”
Overalls and a propeller hat, a button-up underneath. I… I was just experimenting with my style. I started to bite my tongue.
“No…” I said.
Nathan couldn’t help but laugh, his mind focused on something else, “Did you see how he kicked that kid down? Holy crap.”
“I… I didn’t expect that from Ronald.” Mary said, “Like… What the heck.”
“Sometimes, justice is, in reality, against the heroes. I’m even willing to admit that.” Nathan mentioned, “I mean, that kid ruined his reputation… I can understand what he did.”
Mary looked deep in thought too, but then said “Yeah.”
“Okay, Task Force ShreX: we need that key, and… Calendarigami Man, we need you to solve the mystery.”
We were standing in front of a paper calendar, sitting on October. A picture of a cat sits above, hanging on a branch. “If you can’t do it, Die.” It reads in the impact font below the picture.
“That’s morbid.” Anthony said.
“I don’t know. It’s weirdly motivating.” Nathan confessed.
“‘If you can’t do it, Die?’ That’s motivating to you?” Mary asked.
“Yeah, I mean, I see where it’s coming from.” Shaun agreed with Nathan.
“The Fiddler tells me to die whenever I do anything wrong.” John stated.
“The Fiddler is a puppet, man.” Nathan said, then he whispered to me, “Psycho.”
“Alright, Calendarigami Man, solve the calendar.” Shaun told me.
I walked up to the calendar and I stared at the dates. Puzzle calendars like this, although created few-and-far between, are usually based within the dates. But this has to do with the building as a whole, I think.
Every date of October, up to October 19, is crossed out. Everything after lacks a date entirely. “Nineteen is important.” I said.
Then my mind started to wander. My therapist said that after Dad died, I got really focused on something new, and my mind goes around, wandering to different things, and right now… I am thinking about how the $@&* Shaun could’ve known there’d be a calendar puzzle.
Like every calendar, all the old dates are to the left, and the future is to the right, but… the future ends today. We wish we can go back, and most of the time we can’t… except in walking.
“Eighteen squares back.” I said.
“What?” Shaun asked.
“The floor is tiled, if I walk eighteen tiles – the same amount of dates crossed out, we’ll find the key.”
“That sounds insane.” Shaun said, “There’s no way.”
“I think it’s insane you called me here, coincidentally.” I questioned. I started to count to myself, one-two-three… After eighteen tiles, I felt the fairly hollow ground, and I saw a handle on the floor. I lifted it up, revealing the box.
“What’s that?” John Kanigher asked.
“A box.” I said, stating the obvious. Shaun knelt down and picked the box up. Looking inside revealed the keycard to the next door.
“Nice job, Tony. I couldn’t have done it without you. You can go home now.”
“How’d you know I’d be needed?” I asked. Shaun looked at me, a glare of concern.
“You ought to leave.” He said.
“No, dude. I think you’re hiding something.”
“Go home, Tony.”
That right there sealed the deal. I turned around and started to leave, “Don’t call me back.” I said.
On the elevator ride down, I texted Mary, “Shaun is acting incredibly suspicious.” I said, “Be careful, bestie.”
“I am worried about him HSKEJRJDIAF”
“AJSDUIFHIWISJDJIF LOL Sorry I just be laughing man, just quirky things.”
“Are… are you hiding something from me too?”
“I got a plan, I’ll let you know if it works. Had to look like I am texting someone that’s not a coworker KADHSHDIUHUIWD”
“Am I just a coworker to you?”
“No ur my friend– leave me alone, there’s another kid at the end of the hall.”
I drove home and spent the rest of my Saturday hearing nothing from the rest of the Squad. Days… Days are funny, because we have such a limited amount of them, and I wasted an entire one waiting for a text.
The Final Conflict Between Arch-Nemeses…
By The Origami Fiddler
Resting on John’s finger and in his pocket for years, I have had to deal with many, many, many different people. Villains, heroes, my own personal demons. I’ve had to bear witness to monstrosities in music, and monstrosities of John’s sick, twisted mind. I saved John. I rehabilitated him, I raised him up. I made him someone special. But there’s one person, one malevolent person that has ruined the whole thing for him and me. And he is standing at the end of the door.
It’s time for The Fiddler to take over.
No More John Kanigher, I thought. No more of him. It’s time for me. The real, honest-to-goodness DC Villain “The Fiddler” comes out, and faces him.
He wears a green hoodie, and holds in his hand a Bow with a Paintball Arrow at the end. On his back quiver are more of these.
“Shredder Squad!” He announces, “Don’t think I am not aware of the name…”
“Okay, this is, like, the second time someone has said something like that. I thought we were supposed to be ‘covert.’” Nathan said. While I loved the armless boy, I knew this fight was not his own.
“Who the heck are you?” Shaun asked. But I knew. I knew… I also knew that this was not something Shaun had to do.
“Do you seriously not know?” Mary asked. She might be in the know, but I didn’t want her to face him.
Anthony looked over towards me, because we both knew about this former Lampert student, then Kane, turned away from our school. Or the rumors that maybe he was never a Lampert student at all… Maybe he was always Kane. A story built upon gaslighting, manipulation, about…
“Seriously, Shaun. That’s–”
“COOPER KING! THE GREEN ARROWIGAMI!” I announced.
“Ahah! And the fabled John Kanigher, with his puppet he believes speaks to him. I’ve heard those kids you beat up with tubas and stuff are still hospitalized.”
If he can gaslight and lie, then so can I.
“First of all, it’s ‘Fiddler’ now. Secondly, you did that.”
“Yeah, you were the one that put those students in the hospital.”
“I,” he laughed a nervous, confused, and angry laugh, “No, I think you were the person who did that.”
“No… you were who.”
“No, you were.” This started to go back and forth. The song of our conflict, the song of our battle; this back and forth duet of accusations, all-the-while the rest of the Squad watched my talent unfold.
“BRUH! YOU WERE WHO!!!” Cooper exclaimed.
“NO, I WASN’T!!!” I yelled.
“Stop saying I knocked kids out with tubas!!”
“No! Because I, the Fiddler, KNOW THE TRUTH!!” I lied. I know I did it, haha. I just like making people think they’re going crazy.
He ran at me, and I at him, and we grappled at each other’s wrists, struggling with footing as I headbutt him. The age of thumb wrestling as kids, and the age of punching and kicking has ended… it has ended with me. It’s time for war. For conquest. The world’s first song was the cries of battle.
I kick him away from me, and he tries firing an arrow, filled with paint, at my head. As it comes whizzing towards me, I manage to grab it. I feel… a burning sensation within my palms. I’ve never felt anything before; my life as a puppet was merely nothing but darkness, no feeling, no tears. I throw it back at Cooper, who feels the immediate explosion of the paint upon his nice hoodie. Bewildered at my sudden burst of energy, the sudden strength because Heavenly Divine Voice this body feels nice, I bombarded him with attacks, until he was left lying there, knocked out. His gorgeously designed puppet falls from his pocket, and I remove my old shell from my own pocket, staring at it.
No More. No more. No more. No more. I tear both of the puppets in half, and I drop them on the knocked out Cooper King.
“John, are you okay?” Shaun said.
“I told you. It’s ‘The Fiddler.’ I am Isaac Bowin.” I claimed.
Silence. The opera has concluded, the tunes have finally stopped.
“Okay, Isaac… Why don’t you go home, buddy? We got this from here.” Shaun puts his hand on my shoulder, and I tense up.
“I… I’m mad.” I said.
“Sounds like it.” Nathan mentioned.
“And I’m real. I’m alive.”
“Isaac, why don’t you go home?”
“I… don’t have any anymore. The pocket was my home.”
“Do I need to send you your address?” Shaun asked. I looked at my phone, the only other companion I had with me at times.
“Yeah… could you do that for me, please?”
I started to go home, riding down that elevator. I am real. These legs are real. I’m alive. I’m real. I’m the Fiddler.
I am ALIVE!!!!
The Arm Doesn’t Fall Too Far From the Shoulder
By Mary “Harley Quill” Jest
Down now to Me, Shaun, Nathan, and Anthony, we glance down the hallway, into a large, large, office-space. People walking around, looking left, right, up, down, typing on their computers.
“Maybe John should’ve been with us… He might have been able to find some music in this whole thing.” Anthony grumbled.
“I… I think that we weren’t speaking with John.” I said, “Like… That wasn’t the John I knew for a short time… he tore his puppet.”
“Yeah, that was pretty weird. And that name — Isaac Bowin.” Nathan said, “That’s… that’s the comic book Fiddler’s name, right?”
“Mhm.” I grumbled.
“So, Shaun, you know everything about this building, apparently. What’s the task here?” Nathan asked. Shaun looked around the place, and, for once, he didn’t know. I felt suspicious of him, he looked so weird, so odd… suspicious. He kept darting around the office area.
“I don’t know how I could find a key in this place.” He said.
“Well, give me just a second.” Nathan said. He quickly removed his arm, and threw it underneath a table, “Excuse me! Excuse me!!” He exclaimed, silencing the whole building.
“Yes?” A man piped up. He looked… really familiar.
“I lost my arm in that place over there, could someone let me back in?”
“Nathan…” I said. The guy was skinny, and sounded… so familiar.
“Well, I mean, I…” He touched his ear for a second, going “uh huh.” To Nathan, “Hey, you look really familiar…” He said.
“Nathan, that’s Mr. Johns!”
Mr. Johns, the poop accountant that CodCrease pushed into Ronald’s crap, glared at us, and tried reaching for Nathan, who started to beat up Mr. Johns with his one arm.
“Shaun! Throw me my arm!!” He yelled. Shaun fumbled for the arm, and then threw it towards Nathan.
“I got to expel him.” He grumbled, fumbling for his phone. I looked over at Anthony, who was stunned by the chaos occurring in the office, and also the fact that NOBODY was calling for security, then looked at me.
“No, dude, you can’t expel him.” I said. He was pulling the email up, and I started to reach for him.
“I’m going to have to, I have no choice–” Suddenly, the arm came flying at Shaun, hitting him in the head and dropping the phone. He seemed to black out for a second.
“I only need one arm to beat this bozo.” Nathan exclaimed.
“NATHAN!” I yelled as I swooped the phone up, “He’s good! Get the key!!”
Nathan fuddles around, eventually finding the key on Mr. Johns. He throws it at me, and I catch it.
“Leave! Before Shaun expels you! GET. OUT.”
Nathan stared at me, “He was going to–”
“Yes! Get the $&@* out!” I had realized at this moment, with Shaun knocked out cold for a second, that Shaun’s intentions were too trigger happy. They were filled with no motive… No they weren’t… He was doing this for a reason, but I didn’t know what it was… and I was too scared to know what. The phone stayed open on the e-mail, and I quickly deleted it, “Leave, Nathan. I got it from here.”
I slipped my phone into Shaun’s Pocket, and I slipped his into mine. Nathan got down and hugged me, “Thank you.” He said, “Thank you. Thank you.”
“Go, you silly goose. Pick your arm up and leave.” Nathan nodded with understanding, and he picked his arm up and ran off.
Shaun started to open his eyes. Everyone had gone back to work, and I held the key.
“Where’s Nathan?” He asked, “He was just attacking Mr. Johns. What happened to him?”
“You were knocked out, so I expelled him for you.” I lied.
“Oh… Oh… Good. Thank you.”
“Yep. I even put your phone back in your pocket for you…”
Anthony gave me the most telling side eye ever.
“Yeah, yeah.” I smiled, “No… No problem?”
“Please don’t put your hands in my pockets again, though.” He demanded. I looked over at Anthony, who was shocked that it was working. “Alright… we gotta keep going.”
By Anthony “Crazigami Quiltigami” Irwin
Three now. Me, Shaun, and Mary. I’m suspicious of Mary now, especially because she has possession over the expulsion phone, but I am not afraid of her expelling me. I want it. It’s why I am so happy to be called today; I didn’t have a chance to expel myself before, so that me and Don could be in the same boat. I stand there, wondering if the next door will be my fate, and, for once in a minute, I’m excited.
A long hallway, the fluorescent lights buzzing and flickering, giving the room a slightly green hue to the area. Sanitized, clean, and at the end of the hallway is the contrast of this idea, a girl dressed in all black, standing still. Her eyeliner, slim and black, popped. Sitting on her finger was a green witch, her puppet.
I didn’t recognize her. Neither did Mary.
But Shaun… Shaun did. Shaun recognized her immediately.
“Sydney?” He asked.
We both glanced at him.
“Hey, Shauny…” She said, Shaun ran to her, wrapping her in a hug.
“Who the heck is this person?” Mary asked.
“And who are you? Shaun, her makeup is terrible, why her?” Sydney growled at Mary.
“What?!” Mary exclaimed.
“Wait, Syd– me and Mary aren’t dating or anything. She’s just… a person. On my team.”
“Shaun, why are you doing this?”
“Better question, why are you here?”
“Because… because, well, I was told you needed me. Someone emailed me and told me to come here, and just ‘wait.’ You… You’re on a mission. And I’m not sure what it is, but I had a feeling… that I could see you.”
“Oh, Sydney… I missed you. I missed you a lot.”
“‘If you fall in love, that’s great and all, but you’re expelled…’” I recited to Mary. She stood in awe.
“He doesn’t hate love… Shaun-Zhang Snyder doesn’t hate love…” Mary said, mulling over this whole incident, “I… I was in love once.”
“I’m still in love.” I sighed.
“Shaun, do they know?” Sydney asked.
“About us? Oh, guys,” He turns to us, “This is Sydney McCormick. She was… she was someone I was with for a bit. But she moved away, and, well, she’s found her way back here.”
Sydney smiled and giggled; a total contrast with the makeup and her whole… aesthetic, “Permanently. Mom got a job with the corporate offices of Citizen Wade’s, so I’m… well, I’m back.” Then, she took on a more serious face, “I’m… I’m not asking if they know about us. I’m sorry we haven’t talked, and I’ve been through much since then, but… Do they know?”
“Your email interactions… with Brainiac…”
Shaun froze, and he looked at her, then back at us, confused on if we heard it or not. Mary was too stunned to speak, too confused by the whole thing. He looked back at Sydney and gulped, “So… Is that an Enchantress puppet?”
“… We’ll catch up, Shaun. Doctor Tenebris and Fako await you three.”
She grabbed hold of the doors, the wooden, stiff doors that contrasted the earlier ones; those white, key-card accessible doors with windows that let you see right through them. The type of doors that would kill birds.
With a smooth motion, she opened the doors for us.
“Shaun, we need to have a talk.” Mary said. But Shaun had stepped in already. Into the office.
So, we had no choice but to follow suit.
If You Want to Stop Me
An E-Mail By Casper “Fako Mustacho” “Origami Brainiac” Bengue
I don’t enjoy car rides with other people. They make me angry. The constant chit-chattering, the changing of the music on a whim… I hate it all. That was my space, and people violated it. Anyways, Our car ride was no different. I hated every second we spent together, but it got my point across. But on that ride back to my condo here, I thought for a while… I thought about a lot of things.
You are going to bring Tony Zazonnie, Mary Jest, Nathan Legions, John Kanigher, Ronald Lamden, and Anthony Irwin to the corporate offices of the Superintendent, the address attached below. Do not bring anyone else with you.
You will be faced with a couple of challenges, and, eventually, you’ll get to face me. The Origami Brainiac. When they complete the challenges, these people will be allowed to go home. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.
Failure to do so, and I’ll get mad. You don’t like me mad.
[The image showcases Fako, red haired, with a handlebar mustache. He’s frowning an exaggerated frown. We do not know what this is supposed to do, maybe it’s an intimidation tactic. Maybe he’s about to crap his pants.]
All is Revealed
By Shaun-Zhang “Rick Flag” Snyder
“Seriously, Shaun. What did she mean?” Mary asked. I kept my head down. “Shaun?”
“He sent us here. He threw us in a death trap.” Anthony said.
“ALRIGHT!” I exclaimed, now looking around the room. An old, wrinkly woman with a scowl across her face, stared at us. Next to her was a bulky man, his suit barely fitting his tight body. How a sport coat could showcase someone’s muscles is beyond me. He had really nice, black hair, done up in a man-bun, and a chiseled face. He glared through me, through Anthony, and through Mary, as though his eyes shot curved lasers through all three of us, impaling each one of us through the chest. Next to him was a dark-skinned kid, maybe Mary’s age. And then, also sitting at the table, was another woman. She too was fit, and she constantly stared at us with watchful eyes. In her breast pocket was a puppet, horned and holding a battleaxe. At the other end of the table, in this office/meeting room, sat Fako in all of his glory. The mustache wobbled a bit on his face, but he glared at me. Next to him was a tv, showing various different security camera footage.
“Sir, do we need—” The woman started, but the man held his hand up.
“Stephanie, we’re fine.” The bulky man said.
“As you can see,” Fako started, “There are menaces that are fighting against our entire cause. For education, for justice, for the SATs and for what is right. They’ll go out of their way to stop us, to put an end to our programs. Nothing has changed since 2010. Nothing. It’s the same, the only problem is that the kids have only gotten more smart and the teachers more complacent. This is a problem.”
I felt myself getting angry, “You— YOU were the one that told us to come here!”
“No, I didn’t. I didn’t tell you anything. You have been watching our company; you and your hackers and you miscreants have been doing everything to stop me. Even to the point that you’ll violently break the legs of a student, beat up my employee again after you made him bathe in poop water, and Doctor Tenebris here has gotten to see it.”
“Shaun, you knew?” Mary said, “You put us in here on purpose?”
I sighed, “Yes, okay? I did.” I felt everyone’s eyes watching me, “I knew about it. It was supposed to just be an off-the-books mission.”
“You… You just got all of us expelled.” She sighed, “We were accomplices to things that were recorded, you…” she started to look genuinely upset, and I started to feel terrible. I was feeling bad about the whole thing before, but this was making it worse. She clenched her fists, “You just had a nine year old get expelled, Shaun!”
“Alright, let’s all calm down.” The bulky man said, “We’re all into puppetry, I think… We could try talking this out through the puppets.”
“No! I’m not talking this out.” Mary yelled, all the while standing next to me, “I’m Harley Quill, for pete’s sake. He’s Rick Flag. I’m supposed to be the crazy one. But he sent us all here to ruin our lives.”
“Now, now. Calm down.” He responded.
“DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!” Mary yelled back. I started to reach for my phone, because I could feel that Mary was about to blow up. That she was about to beat me in.
She started to laugh.
By Mary “Harley Quill” Jest
Smoke filled the room as we all started to cough and wheeze. As the security cameras would show, during our spout between me and Shaun, Anthony was pacing back and forth behind us. The Crazigami Quiltigami had been pretty grief-stricken the last few days after the whole “expulsion of my boyfriend” thing that happened, and he was trying to find some way to be with him.
So… he threw a smoke bomb at the Superintendent.
It’s a pretty quick, hilarious, and good way of getting expelled. Plus, it fits with the whole Crazy Quilt character. But as the dust settled, and we all looked at eachother, we saw that Anthony had left, I assume to ride off into the sunset with the knowledge that he’ll be spending his last year of high school at home, doing school online, or by his mother, happy with this peace.
“Anyways…” I said, “Back to you.” I turned to Shaun, “You have messed this up for us.”
“Don’t do this, Mary, or I’ll have to expel you.”
“Punch you in the face? I have done far worse. You know you were going to be a good leader if you just trusted people, right? If you had been honest, we might’ve said yes, if you told us what you knew, we would’ve been willing to support you. But that didn’t happen, now did it?”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t honest, but it was to cover the mission.”
“No, it was to cover your own @$$.”
Shaun sighed, “I guess that’s so.” Then, in a swift motion, he took out my phone from his pocket. He kept trying to open it, “Who— who set a passcode up on my phone?” Then he looked at the case, the hardcore fluffy unicorns with nose-piercings and clown makeup all over it, “Who’s phone is this?!” He then pointed at Fako, “YOU!”
“Oh, I didn’t do anything of the sort.”
“You switched my phone out during the smoke bomb!”
“No I didn’t!”
“Yes, you did!”
A child and an adult man start to fight back and forth. “I’m… I’m going insane.” I grumbled.
The kid that was sitting next to Stephanie looked at me, “You and me both.”
Eventually, I had had enough, and I took Shaun’s phone out of my pocket. Shaun continued to go back and forth with Fako, approaching him more and more with each “No I didn’t!” “Yes, you did!” As I browsed through the profiles, I went one by one, deleting them each. Eraser, Thinkorigami, the Harley Quill…
And then I landed on Shaun-Zhang Snyder.
His profile was written by his aunt. Attacked students in grade school, held violent tendencies…
“Shaun, my nephew, has potential.” It read, “He has a lot of potential, and I love him for that. But he’s blind, and he trusts too much. He thinks leadership is based on trust, but on a trust in him; not in other people. Because of that, when things don’t go his way, he gets violent. While he hasn’t done anything wrong to warrant an expulsion, this document contains information that will get him removed from the school system in Jutefruce. Whoever has this – as Shaun doesn’t know about this profile – I trust your judgment.”
I knew what I had to do, “Shaun, can you give me my phone back?” I asked.
He froze, and he slowly turned to me as I held his phone up to him, showing that there was a profile for him.
“I deleted the other ones. All that is left is you. We may be expelled here, probably. But even if we’re not, you can’t get rid of us through your petty blackmail. No more.”
“It’s not my blackmail, it was–”
“Is this some stupid game?” The bulky man asked. We stopped, “Seriously. Is this some dumb game? We’ve watched you all run through our corporate building, solving… escape rooms, and now you’re bickering? You,” he pointed at me, “I’m Tenebris. Doctor Tenebris.”
Still holding the phone, I looked at him, “Why are you telling me that?”
“Remember the name.”
“What about your first name, like—” Shaun started pawing at my phone, but the short freshman couldn’t reach me as I held the phone higher in the air.
Shaun, full of rage now, starts demanding it, “Give it to me, now!”
“Shaun… I am not as stupid as you think I am. I’m not just the crazy girl who has a crappy ex. Nor am I the psychologist who just so happens to like hitting people on occasion.” I leaned towards him, still holding the phone up. I smiled, “I am many layers, Shaun. Many layers that trusted in you. Trusted your judgment, trusted your potential. Shaun… This didn’t need to be you.”
“But I didn’t do anything—” I pressed the send button, and immediately Shaun crumpled to the floor.
“You were meant to be Rick Flag.” I said, “A leader who cared about his team, even if they were… ‘bad.’ But I’m not a bad guy, and neither were most of the people you expelled with this phone.” I then threw his phone on the ground, and I stepped on it. Many, many, many times until it went completely black.
Shattered, devastated, belittled, ruined. Shaun-Zhang Snyder picked up the pieces, and started to make his way out.
“I’ll remember this.” He said, “I’ll remember what you all did to me, and I’ll remember how you ruined everything, Mary.”
He shut the door behind him, and all that was left was me, Tenebris, Stephanie, that guy… that old woman… and Fako.
“Quite the show, huh?” Fako said with a smile.
By Mary “Harley Quill” Jest
Just me, surrounded by other adults, stuck in a stuffy room, and I feel the walls close around me. I know this guy’s name is Fako because of Shaun, but I stared at him, horrified by the figure.
“So… After that whole mess… We can get started on plans for Brainiac being incorporated within Jutefruce Academic curriculums, is that okay? I have a nice five phase plan that’ll only take a couple of weeks.”
“Uh… can I go?” I asked Doctor Tenebris.
Fako smiled a wide grin, his mustache moving a little bit off of his face, “Hm? We’re all in agreement here, I’m sure.”
The kid leaned over across the table, “You’re gonna wanna see this.”
“The students that rampaged through Kane, Lampert, Donner, and your office today are against education. Liberty, truth, justice. They’re against learning. You must incorporate this to prevent this from happening again.” Silence. Fako stood, trying to act all presenting-like, and we just stared at him.
Then Doctor Tenebris stood up, “Thank you. It was all fun, but I think we’ll move forward without Brainiac in our future.”
Fako’s smile fell, “You’re serious?”
“Does a deer crap in the woods?” Doctor Tenebris asked.
“Because, Mr. Mustacho… Bengue… whatever — we do not need your crappy program. We don’t need it. Me and my associates here, Mrs. Cooke, Ms. Wulf, and even young Dwayne over there, we’re trying to come up with our own way of stopping the whole rowdiness epidemic occurring here. Sanctions, clubs, events. Better teachers… we’re making an algorithm for it, and Funtime, EduFun, and Brainiac do not have any place within that.”
Flustered now, Fako starts to get angry, “I have spent. The last couple weeks. Trying to make your school a better place. I don’t know what you intend, but I know my ideas are way better than whatever you wanted to do.”
“We don’t want you or the program here. We’re sorry.”
“Then these kids all got expelled for nothing.” Fako said, “All for you to say no.”
“I don’t know what kids got expelled, and frankly, I don’t care. I know that these kids you hired to cause chaos in my office aren’t expelled, but I don’t know of ‘others’ at Kane, Lampert, or Donner. Now, please, if you don’t mind, get yourself and that… repulsive mustache, out of here. We don’t want EduFun, and their terrible diversion of assets, anywhere near us. Goodbye.”
“I’m… I’m stunned.” Fako said, “I’m genuinely stunned.”
“If it makes you feel better, I think the mustache is kind of hot.” I said. He glared at me.
“…I’ll see myself out, then.”
As he left, he gave me one last glance. This rage, this anger, and I knew it wasn’t towards me. It was by whoever held me hostage, whoever kept me going to these things. It was held towards Shaun’s aunt and her friends. I also started to get up.
“Wait, Miss…?” Tenebris started.
“Jest. Mary Jest. The Harley Quill, or whatever.”
“It’s… It’s been a nice Saturday, and it certainly was great to watch you all, even though I had to miss my Yoga and lifting sessions for this.”
“You and your friends aren’t expelled. Except for that one student… Shaun? But that’s because of… whatever was on that phone. Should I stop his principal from expelling him?”
I wanted to say yes, I wanted to say something, something besides, “No. I don’t think you should. Shaun… Shaun needs consequences. Besides, the schools have been a lot more strict with the whole… y’know, puppet heroics.”
“I’m happy to know it’s working.” Tenebris said, “First step was to be a lot less lenient. Closing Novick… I’m just happy to know that it’s successful.” Not a single smile crept from his face.
“Well, I’m sorry about this taking up a chunk of your Saturday. Plus, the waste of time that was this whole day.” He then looked to his crew, “In fact, I’m sorry to all of you. No one should have to waste their time like we’ve just done.”
I slowly backed away from them, and he stood there.
“Say, you said you’re Harley Quill, right?”
“One and only.” I said.
Doctor Tenebris reached into his coat, “What do you think of mine?”
An adult. A grown man, asking me my opinions on his puppet, “It’s just for sanctity. We thought it was pretty funny for company morale.”
Bald head, gray, bulky puppet dressed in purple. He grimaces, and his eyes glow a deep red.
“It’s…” I gulp, “It’s cool.”
“Alright, good. I was scared it was lame. Have a nice day.” Doctor Tenebris, our Superintendent who no one knew the name of, was quite weird, to say the least. I was at the door this time, it was cracked open.
“One last thing… Who was it that hired you? Was it a teacher, a group? Just wanted to know, in case I needed to place action upon faculty.”
I thought for a moment. I’ve been lying so much in the last couple hours, but it’s because… because I can’t help but still care somewhat, “It was Fako and Funtime.”
A smirk finally creeped across his face, and his group all smiled as well, “That’s genius. But also stupid. Have a great rest of your weekend, Mary, and stay on top of your studies and out of trouble.”
I nodded. I should be the clown around here, I guess. The sad thing, though, is maybe I am.
Mission Complete: Brainiac Defeated
Many, Many, Many, Many Months Later
By Jamie “The Eraser” Redfern
I sit in the middle of the park, my mask over my nose and my mouth. This whole thing has definitely worn down, it’s just sad that the school year and the summer is just kind of… wasted. But because of that, I’ve gotten to enjoy my time in this park, and today, I’m meeting someone.
She came up to me, moving back and forth. She’s grown a bit, as though this whole shut down has allowed her to blossom more than what she already was. Mary Jest.
“I’ve been waiting here for a while.” I said. She sat at another bench away from me, six feet apart and all.
“I know you’ve been compiling the doc, Jamie. To get rid of it all.”
“Yeah. I have the USB. All Fifty Six parts.”
“Give it to me, Jamie.” She said. The USB was always on me; in fact, I was going to destroy it today.
“I can’t. They threatened to expel me if I shared it.”
“I need it, Jamie. I just need it.”
“No, they won’t. They can’t. I already deleted all of the blackmail they have on us, and Graham gladly hacked into their files and deleted any backup they had on us too.”
“Are there others?” I asked Mary. Mary looked at the ground, shaking her head.
“I don’t know.” She said, “I… I don’t know.”
I put the USB on the ground and started to walk away, “Stay safe, Mary, and frankly — keep away from all of this, please.”
“I agree with you, Jamie. Stay safe.”
I’m the Eraser. I get rid of things.
Now, I get rid of the character. I’m done with this whole Origami Crap. It took my friends, it took my years of high school away. I just need one, easy, simple, Senior year.
I’m Jamie Redfern. I am just a student.
By Peyton “OrigamiLuke100” F.
The concept of “Shredder Squad” would not have come to fruition had it not been for Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and John Ostrander. Kanigher and Andru created characters like Rick Flag Junior in their “Brave and the Bold” titles in the 1950s and 60s, in the midst of that silver age of comics. The villainous team we know of today was created by John Ostrander, who’s heart is seen in every panel of every comic I got to read by him. My research led me through many incarnations of the squad; from the original version, to the Ostrander, to some of the New 52 (I couldn’t get over the Harley Quinn depiction there), some of Rebirth, and the two issues of “Future State: Suicide Squad,” what had started off as a stupid, jokey, quippy-filled romp, meant to riff on the Suicide Squad movie of 2016, and meant to come out before the one in 2021, became a story with heart, with the intention of “you should care for these ‘villains’ because these villains are just people in stupid getups.” This love has now inspired me so much, that I’ve decided that if I ever get to work with DC, I’d like to do a run of Suicide Squad either in main-line or some other way.
My process goes a bit like this: Research, Outline, Write, Read-Through, Publish. I couldn’t have done this process without the support of the mod team, and SuperFolder Hades, who has had to spend many an hour listening to my crazy ramblings of ideas until they appear on the page.
Jawa had helped me formulate the first Squad team. Originally, I had planned on just doing a quick-and-easy Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Rick Flag, the Amanda Waller Teachers, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, El Diablo, Slipknot and Katana (Just the entire 2016 team) quickly became a team of 40+ characters, that I then had to whittle down to roughly 27. Sure, there’s the occasional joke character, but overall, I wanted them to have a plot to them.
Hades helped a bunch in being that person that I could message and just say “I am thinking of making this character have this arc, thoughts?” and they’d say “Yeah sure that works” and I’d go “Okay, gotcha,” making it really easy to just have fun, all-the-while writing my heart into it. They also had created a few of the characters, like the Thinkerigami, as seen in Folders of Tomorrow 2.
I must dedicate an entire paragraph to Origami_Master53 for the creation of characters like Jonathan Yen, Ronald Lamden, and making Lampert a school that is fun to play with. OM’s characters tend to be really kind, lighthearted, and, as I’ve said before, a sorta play-doh to do whatever I’d want with. The arcs in his stories are great, and I love using these characters that are so rich with lore to update and play with. I hope you can forgive me buddy for breaking Jonathan Yen’s legs, but he needs the Matthew treatment soon… safe to say, I have an idea for the character in the DCOU. Ronald Lamden, meanwhile, is certainly the soul of this story. While there’s definitive main characters with each part, I anticipated writing Ronald the most. His arc here was my favorite to do; the down on the luck, stupid child becomes a stupid, still-a-child person, who finally gets the sweet, sweet revenge he oh-so-craved.
Noah was the first person to read the story all the way through, kind of without my knowledge. His thoughts on the story really boosted me at a time when I needed it. I was getting really doubtful on the progress, and when he told me his thoughts on Parts 1 – 4, I sat my butt down and wrote Part 5.
I owe somewhat of an apology to JC, Jawa, and JarJar. Our discord calls frequently turned into me typing away at the keyboard, loud grunts and “Maybe?” echoing from my microphone as I realized I was annoying them with the stuff I was doing. When I’d read an excerpt out loud, I’d ask for opinions, and I’d get them, and then I’d dip from the call, back to the writing lab again to continue composing.
Jar Jar has been a great force of support during this too. His thoughts on the absurdity of the project always made me laugh. JC being a beacon of moral high-ground made it easy to test the appropriateness of some parts of the story. I knew I could read an excerpt to him and if he went “Hmmmm…” I knew that it was probably not fit to be in this.
Toademort: Your creation of the Successful fool Smedly Maroni has brought joy to my heart, and has made me absolutely love the Mustard Menace, the Ketchup Conniver, the Mayonnaise Monster, Condiment Kirigami.
The rest of the Council, your support in the last year has been the most helpful thing for me. You all might not know it, but in one of the hardest years in a long time, at least I knew I had the origami-crap to fall back to.
I also owe a lot to Guillermo, Thrawn, CD, and Donatello. Their anticipation, hype, and other synonyms for those words kept me going to the finish line.
Tom Angleberger; your creations continue to inspire a generation to tell. To tell stories, to tell ideas, to tell others to speak up. Fako will return.
Lastly, I want to thank my mother. While she isn’t here to read it, I hope she smiles upon me, and sees that I am pursuing my dreams.
Thank you all for reading my stories. Much love.