Shredder Squad Versus The Council
Shredder Squad Versus The Council
A story by Superfolder Peyton and Superfolder Hades
Part One: Level Up
I’m Back Out My Coma
By Michael “Kevin Foldlevin” Cipes
I’m fast asleep in my cell, and the soft voice makes me groan in frustration. I didn’t want to wake up. I don’t ever really want to wake up.
“Michael…” She sing-songs. I roll around a bit in my bed.
“Leave me alone…” I say. She doesn’t say anything back. Instead, she walks over, grabs hold of my sheets, and rips them straight off. I yelp, feeling the cold against my clothes.
“What the Hell?!” I say, fully awake now. I finally got a glimpse of her, and… it’s not who I thought it would be.
She smiles a kind smile, “Ready to get to work?”
“Who… Who are you?” I ask as I get out of my bed. She stands next to the door of my cell. This beautiful woman stared me down and if it hadn’t already started, I felt puberty begin. I could feel the pimples forming across my face in a wave of red dots… or maybe I was just blushing.
“Call me Mrs. Snyder.” She was married… $&*#.
“Alright Mrs. Snyder… What am I working on?”
“Well… You’re a bad boy, right?” Please don’t say that again.
“Yeah, I mean, my puppet is Kevin Levin, from Ben 10.”
“So you’re pretty cool, like, you have a large hodgepodge of puppets?”
“I’m from the reboot version… I don’t, y’know, have that crazy looking one from the original.” Mrs. Snyder’s face dropped.
“Oh… Well, is there any other Kevin here?”
“No, I’m the one and only.” Immediately, I felt like I wasn’t enough. Just because of that puppet, I didn’t have what it takes. I didn’t have ten friends with me in Ostrander, I had nothing. I was Reboot Kevin without the Antitrix. I was… nothing.
She sighs, “Well, I guess you’ll be enough for the mission.”
I was… enough for the mission?
“Could I get dressed first?” I asked.
“Of course, yeah. I wouldn’t want you wearing… Cookie Monster pajama pants for the mission.” Mrs. Snyder swiftly left the room, and I sighed.
My “cell” at Ostrander Juvenile Detention Facility of Morrison County, Illinois, was like a dorm. In fact, the cell was better than my bedroom in California. I guess we all call this place a “prison” with “cells” because it is a correctional facility, but it feels like a boarding school. We’re fed decent meals (provided by EduFun’s “Eating is FUN!” Food service), get access to technology, and, I mean, if we’re good noodles we can have a TV in the bedroom. Yeah, it has specific times when we can watch (all homework must be done and it can’t be after midnight), but I like the living sitch anyway.
I had a feeling, though, that this was not going to be fun. Deep in my gut, I think that this will be the last time I’ll ever be in this room. I looked in the mirror. My blonde hair contrasted with my puppet’s black mop. I put on the red uniform that we’re given, and I could see in my face the panic that I was trying to hide. Mrs. Snyder was pretty, but I didn’t know who she was, and regardless of me being a “Bad Kid” I knew that I shouldn’t go with some random stranger. I tried to not really think about any of this, and I left my cell, possibly for the last time.
“Took you long enough!” Mrs. Snyder exclaimed, “Come on. Let’s talk.” She started walking away from my cell. She suddenly pauses, “You have your puppet, right?”
“…Yeah?” I say, presenting my puppet to her. She nods, and keeps walking.
“What do you think of the food here?”
“I mean, it’s okay.”
“Do they ever have mashed potatoes?”
“Yeah, I mean, sometimes we have a mashed potato night. Y’know… with various mashed potato flavors. Garlic, cheesy… chicken—”
“Just all in mashed potatoes?”
“Yeah. Just a ton of mashed potatoes.”
“A lot of starch…”
We continued walking through the detention center, and I felt my stomach growl. There’s this roast beef mashed potato that Ms. Morty makes… gah, it’s so good. Reminds me of home.
“Do you ever miss Ward?” Mrs. Snyder asked, snapping me out of the hungry memories lane. Now I was on bad memories lane, thinking about how I constantly fought freaking Benji Lowenthal with his ten buddies and the Origami Ben Tennyson puppet.
“Not really.” I said, “I just wanted in on the fun and because I got a bit too extreme I’m… well, here.”
“I hear that a lot.” She mentioned as we stepped foot on the courtyard. Besides the seven other kids, the courtyard was uncharacteristically empty, “Anyways, mister Cipes. This is your team.”
“My…?” I started.
“Team. Did you hear her?” A large, chunky kid exclaimed, “I told you I was done with this, Susan.”
She nodded at the guy, and just scoffed, “Okay, Ronald. Just this mission, and you’re done.”
Ronald started to clench his fists, “How many times will it be ‘just this mission’?!” He started to approach her, when suddenly one of the guards ran up and tazed him on the neck. Ronald collapsed to the ground, twitching and flopping in front of me like some fish.
Suddenly, things got extra real, extra fast.
“That’s Ronald Lamden, the King Crease. He’s done a few missions for us before. Including the first we ever had.” She then points over to the other people: two girls, a toddler, a… creature thing in a pyramid head, a college guy, and… Rome?!
“Michael?!” He exclaimed the moment he recognized me. Rome and I were next door neighbors in California. He went to Barbera while I was at Ward, so we only really saw each other getting on the bus. Then, one day… I didn’t see him again. Now I know why. He quickly tackled me, “How are you, my friend? My wonderful, amazing, friend from the same city as I, Rome Hominidae, the Mojo Foldo! Why, it is great to see someone from so far away, all the way here, in Illinois, in this prison. Thank goodness—”
“Hey, Rome. I’m doing okay. What is all this?”
“Why, I could ask you the same thing, my wonderful friend from Jutefruce, California—”
Mrs. Snyder cut right between us, “Why don’t you two just sit down and get all of that info now?”
“Oh, uh, okay.” I said. Rome and I sat down. I, sadly, had to be next to the triangle head thing. Ronald’s unconscious body was dragged up onto the bench. Mrs. Snyder looked at all of us.
“Everyone, you have all been chosen because you are some of the worst-of-the-worst, the most evil puppet-wielding kids known to man.”
This girl on the far left raised her hand, “Excuse me, that’s a toddler over there.” She said, pointing to the baby-faced, well, baby, sitting next to the unconscious King Crease. He glanced at us.
“Second grade, tutz. I’m probably the most competent one here anyways.”
Except for the triangle headed thing and Ronald, we all went “oooh…” Mrs. Snyder then shushed us, and we all sat straight up.
“Ms. Hunter over here knows all about what we do here. I’m Susan Snyder, but I’m just one of many faces that are a part of the A.R.G.U.S. Group. We look at students like all of you, and, well, we have you guys do the dirty jobs we don’t want to do, either because we’re not strong enough, or… we’re not young enough.” ‘Ms. Hunter’, this girl who stood against the wall, nodded at me when I looked at her.
“You’re all Task Force ShreX, a group of Origami task-doers that, well, do all of A.R.G.U.S.’ tasks. We started using Ostrander a while back, because the prospect of a lower sentence and getting to go back to a regular school ‘fixed’ was really appealing to a lot of kids. It’s obvious, then, that if you fail a mission, your sentence will be extended. This means more money taken from your parents, more taken from your already young lives trapped in a ‘Juvenile Correctional Facility’, and, well, having to try doing these missions again.”
I raised my hand, “What is the mission?”
“Well, before I tell you all of that, how about you all meet each other first? We used to do this in a circle, getting to talk to one another and all of that, but… I’m not a fan of you guys forming bonds. Not after the first mission.” She was silent for a moment. We all stared at her before she composed herself, “Anyways. When I call your name, step next to me.”
“Peyton Hunter, who I mentioned earlier, is one of our best members. She has gone on plenty of missions for us, sometimes solo. She… chooses to stay, for some reason.” The brunette, thin faced girl wore thick rimmed glasses, and had on a hoodie over the correctional facility’s uniform. “At her school, she was Apollo. Like, the Greek God.”
Peyton awkwardly shuffled at this, but when we didn’t give any applause or anything, she just nodded and stood back against the wall.
“Of course, the knocked out kid over there is Ronald Lamden, the King Crease. He’s been doing this since he was nine. Twelve now, he’s still one of our strongest.” Ronald gasped awake, still in a haze, “Anyways, Rome Hominidae…” Rome stepped up next to Mrs. Snyder, “Rome was Mojo Foldo, the lead of the Origami Beat-Alls at Barbera Middle School. He, along with his various other classmates, fought against the Powerfold Girls. He is a—”
“Genius, a mastermind, I know everything people would possibly want me to know, and I know things people don’t want me to know. Because I, Mojo Foldo, am a genius! A mastermind!”
“Yes, thank you, Rome.” I liked Rome, but he does have that verbose quip to him that just… can grate on the ears. Rome sat down next to me, and he held his fist out to me. I reluctantly fist bumped him back, “Amanda Gleeson?”
Amanda, another awkward girl, walked up and stood next to Mrs. Snyder. She stood with her arms behind her back, and she stood like a military commander. “Wielder of General Creaux at McQuarrie Middle School, Amanda Gleeson is one of many fearsome ‘Fold Order’ commanders with the same puppet. She just so happened to have done so much that she… Well, ended up here.”
I recognized Amanda as the girl that called out the toddler, who was… “Alec Baldwin. The Origami Boss Baby.” Immediately, we all bursted into tears. It was insane… Origami Boss Baby?! Even worse, the kid’s name was just Alec Baldwin. Literally the same name as the actor’s. I didn’t get a good look at him at first, but I realized that he had made his jumpsuit into a “suit”, drawing with a sharpie a bowtie upon the uniform. “Now, now, don’t laugh. He might be a second grader, but he is probably the most charismatic person in this entire group. He made a deal with Bolivian weapon dealers in the first grade to sell him arms.”
“I wanted limbs, but I got a stockpile of weapons. That’s how I ended up here.”
“That’s… cold.” I said.
“Au contraire, Bolivia is actually quite warm this time of year.”
I don’t know what ‘au contraire’ means.
“You will treat him with as much respect as possible, alright? He is your group’s mouth.” She then motioned for the college kid, who looked really out of place among us.
“This is Robby St. Francis, known as Batroc the Leaper. He wanted to be a villain against… some kid with a Captain America puppet, but nobody really cares about a guy that can jump around.”
“I do gymnastics at university right now.” He said. We all just stared at him, as though this would, like, make us bow to him or something.
“You’re like… thirty…” Amanda said.
“Hey, I’m twenty, and this crap pays the bills, okay?”
“Do you work here?” I asked.
“Then why are you at a Juvenile Detention Center? Shouldn’t you be in prison?” Alec Baldwin questioned.
“No, I- listen, just don’t question it—”
“We have a lot of questions.” I started.
“Listen, everyone. Robby will be your espionage master, due to his older age he can fit into spaces meant for adults, like… teacher’s lounges, and classrooms after hours. He’s important.”
“Plus, I can do backflips.”
“Plus, he can do backflips.” Mrs. Snyder sighed, “Michael, why don’t you come up here?” She asked. I nervously stepped up next to her, trying to ignore the eyes on me.
“This right here is Michael Cipes, the kid with Kevin Foldlevin from Ward middle school. He’ll be a good support for you all, and you can rely on him for his strengths.”
“Is he as cool as the real Kevin Levin?” Alec Baldwin asked. I shot him lasers through my eyes.
“Well, I don’t think so.” Susan said, hitting me right in the ego, “He… he’s not really that strong, is he?” I looked at the ground, and I heard Amanda and Peyton start to slightly giggle. I quickly sat back down, and Rome patted me on the back.
“You will find what you’re going to be, Michael Cipes, my neighbor, my friend from Jutefruce, California.” He whispered. I didn’t really take it all in.
“Lastly, this will be your guide.” The creature stood up, slowly dragging a large foam sword behind them. They looked at all of us, and we glanced at the paper mache pyramid hiding their head, “This person is Origami Pyramid Head. They know the ins-and-outs of the city you’ll be visiting, and the school you’ll attend for a day or so. They don’t speak much. They… actually don’t speak at all, and they don’t want you to know them. You’ll follow Origami Pyramid Head, and will listen to their every… movement?”
“Right…” Amanda said, “So… where is it that we’re going?”
“Rapids Middle School, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.” Mrs. Snyder said.
If this was supposed to be intense or crazy, something new and insane, it did not land.
“… Where?” We all asked.
“What Is The Point Of All This If We Can’t Blow Up Three Tiny Cruisers?”
By Amanda “General Creaux” Gleeson
“Ladies and gentlemen, infants and… college kids… welcome to Grand Rapids, Michigan!” The bus driver exclaimed. I was finally awake, after many, many hours of riding on a gross tarc bus. “Y’know… where your mission is?”
We all looked at one another, confused. No one had really heard of this place, and we couldn’t even really read the Pyramid Head person’s face because… well, y’know. Their face is covered.
“Basically, there’s two schools here: Toby Middle School, and Rapids Middle School. We don’t know much about Toby Middle, though origami has taken Rapids Middle by storm for years. The school is really weird. You know how, say, there’s a DC school? A Marvel school?”
“A Boss Baby school?” Alec Baldwin interrupted.
“Yeah! Star Wars, all of those… Well, Rapids Middle is just… Video Games.” The bus driver said.
“What?” Rome asked.
“Yeah. Just video games. Halo, Mario… They’re all there.”
“But what about, like, Batman: Arkham Asylum? Where does that land?” Ronald asked.
“Yeah, or like… Spider-Man from the PS4? Or any Star Wars game for that matter. This doesn’t make much sense as a school’s theme.”
The bus driver sighed, “I don’t know, okay? Anyways. We think that there’s… a group or something that’s been working in the shadows. We need them to be stopped. Rapids Middle School is weird, so… we think that this place could be the ‘epicenter’, if you get my drift. We need you guys to simply confirm or deny our suspicions, then you all could go home.”
“So we’re spying.” I said. We came to a stop in front of the school, and I looked out at the lay of the land.
“Yeah. You can say that. You’re spying, talking to students, going places around the town. It’s a really important mission for A.R.G.U.S.. If our suspicions are confirmed, then this could affect not just this school, but all of yours — even the nation, or the world.”
I couldn’t help but doubt him. I felt as though this was all just hyperbole, insane ideas that made no sense. Secret groups? Epicenters?
“So, Robbie, you’ll be a college ‘teacher’s aid.’ Some of you guys will go to classes of different grade levels, and you just gotta… you know, listen. Take notes, and work. As soon as class is over for the day, return to this bus. We’ll go from there! Any questions?” He asked.
“What if we mess up?” Peyton asked.
“Then your sentence will be extended, of course. We’ll cover up the fact you were here, and your punishment will just be extended longer than you had first thought. If you succeed, you’ll get to go home… most likely.”
“Most likely?” Ronald asked, sounding really aggravated.
“Yeah, most likely. Don’t worry about it right now… See you guys!” He then kicked us off the bus and swiftly drove off.
“Did we ever get his name?” Michael asked.
“… No…” I said.
“Forget about it. Let’s just go to class.” Alec Baldwin said. He quickly took the lead, walking away from all of us. We looked at one another, shrugged, and then followed suit. Pyramid Head followed behind.
By Ronald “King Crease” Lamden
“Is he really a second grader?” I heard one of the kids — the one with that Ben Ten puppet — ask. I stared at the Origami Boss Baby. He was just like me, years ago. Nine years old, stuck in a high school. Unable to type, unable to really speak. Stuck in something I didn’t quite understand.
But the Origami Boss Baby did. He got it. He understood. I felt so… stupid. Like I wasn’t enough. I walked closer towards him, but then a kid got in between us.
“Woah!” He exclaimed, “Is that a King Shark puppet from the new Suicide Squad Game?! That’s awesome!”
I looked at the puppet, and back at the kid. King Crease hadn’t gone through much redesigning. He still looked as goofy as ever, an angry grimace across his face. The kid slowly raised his puppet, which was, I guess, Deadshot from the video game. The rest of the team, even Alec Baldwin, stopped in their tracks, looking at the interaction about to unfold.
“This could be the start of a cool story here!” He grinned, “The Suicidigami Squad: Tear the Justice Fold!” My eyes locked directly on his puppet, and I started to drone his words out. What was his name again? I thought. Will… Willy… William. William Banks. The Shredshot. This kid looked nothing like him, yet he held the puppet up, smiling ear to ear, waving it around as he described a girl that would make a “great Harlegami Quinnigami” and how we could find a group of bullies to take down and call them the Justice Fold. I stared.
“He’s fine.” Peyton said, putting her hand on my shoulder, “He’s, uh… he’s in another story right now. So he’s busy.” I was back in reality, and I could see the confusion across his face.
“Yeah. He’s uh… he’s in the Lego DC SuperVillains story.”
“Oh! Okay! Tell that Deadshot I said hey. Sorry to bother you!” He then ran past us, hitting Origami Pyramid Head in the face — er, Triangle pyramid head — with his backpack.
“Can we keep going?” Alec Baldwin asked. We all agreed. I was going to go to the fifth grade classroom, Peyton, Rome, and Michael would be heading to certain classes meant for eighth graders. I think Rome was going to go to History. Amanda would sit in on a sixth grade class. Of course, Alec Baldwin would find himself in Second Grade.
This reconnaissance was going to be stupid.
But… as I saw Alec Baldwin take a “Lead”, I couldn’t help but feel worried, scared for his safety. I didn’t want him to get angry like I did, get hurt like I did… I didn’t want him involved in this mess.
So, I made a pact. Not really to his face, but right here, on this page: I will protect that child, regardless of his suit and tie and higher-than-thou personality, at all costs.
A Golden Apple!
By Rome “Mojo Foldo” Hominidae
[A Note from Susan Snyder:
I am seriously sorry that this chapter is so… verbose. The entire chapter is written in this way, and I couldn’t, with confidence, remove anything. Rome has this… obsession with the verbose monkey from The PowerPuff Girls and I think it makes him think he’s a genius. Since this is the start of the school year, this part recounts what the “Mojo Foldo” sees, and, well, it’s the only useful chapter of “Reconnaissance.”
I am sorry.]
It is I! Mojo Foldo, commonly known as Rome Hominidae, the kid responsible for creating the Powerfold Girls, and the kid who has VOWED to be their mortal enemy for the rest of his grade school life! Today, I have decided to recount a narrative of pure dastardly-ness, folding puppets, and… a pretty fun class, all things considered.
Mr. Kurzel was a fairly young man with an I’d assume “old soul.” Sprawled across the classroom were various records and album covers. He knocked three times upon the table, and we all looked upon his luscious beard, the kind worn smile across his face.
“Class, it is a pleasure to see you all today… the first day, in fact! First day of a wonderful year of social studies, history, and… best of all… I’m not gonna teach it!”
I heard the class shuffle in their seats, looking around one another. I, Mojo Foldo, also shifted around. Mainly because I had butt sweats. But also this was absurd! A teacher who won’t teach the class! What a load of hullabaloo.
“Alright, alright, I see the faces, I know those glances, I’ve been seeing them for years now. Basically, I’m going to be teaching it, but every week, we’ll have one of our students come in and give a piece of the history we’re learning. Starting from the ancient Greece times, going all the way up to modern America, each student will be tasked with doing a powerpoint presentation on their subject. And the fun part? Today, we’ll have arts and crafts.” He turned around and took out various sheets of paper. “So, I’m a big fan of Assassin’s Creed. Y’know, since the whole thing is about history. Plus, we are the video game school, after all.”
“Duhh, didn’t it get a bit mythical in recent years?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” He sighed, “Anyways, follow these instructions on this sheet of paper with the folds and stuff, then, come on up and take a piece of paper from this hat. It’ll have a picture of the assassin that you’ll have to replicate. You will be my fourth annual Origami Assassin Brotherhood.” Immediately, the genius that I Mojo Foldo was, I completed my puppet template and swiftly walked up to the bag. The bag — the one that held my information, my task, my job. I reached my hand in and dug around, discovering… Altaïr Ibn-LaʼAhad, the Assassin of the Crusades.
“Ah… Mister—- I’m sorry, we haven’t met.”
I looked up at him and smiled, “Oh, sir, it is I, Roman, er, Holiday.” He looked briefly at his list and back at me.
“I don’t see you on here, Roman.”
“I know. I just moved here today, so… I’m sorry. I’m really new here, and I couldn’t miss the first day of my new school, which is here, where I’m attending, right now.”
“Okay… so, you can sit on back down and work on your puppet. Altaïr has got to be my favorite Assassin; he was the first one we met!” So, I sat back down, and I, Mojo Foldo, quickly got to work fixing everything up and making him the most DETAILED puppet the world has ever seen! I smiled upon my craftsmanship. While he was nothing like Mojo Foldo, Altaïr looked pretty unique, powerful, engaging, detailed, fun, nice. However, the end of class swiftly approached, and then as all the students stood up, Kurzel stopped the class.
“Wait, guys. I got to say, there’s another aspect to this class, and no student has been able to find it since one of my students… well, hid it.”
We all sat down in our seats.
“There used to be this thing I had, called the ‘Teacher’s Apple of Eden.’ I had originally hid it, and any student that found it would get an extra ten points on their final grade. But… It’s been gone. For years. There was this whole story about it for another day, but… It’s just gone. It was very, very important to me. It was full of notes and knick knacks. If you find it, I’ll not only give ten points… I’ll give twenty. This is for this year, and will apply on both semesters. Just bring my Teacher’s Apple home.”
We all sat still, and then everyone started high fiving one another, forming alliances and teams. I, Mojo Foldo, knew I had a team. I, Mojo Foldo, also knew that I needed to tell my team about this. Because I, Mojo Foldo, am a team player, regardless of what the notes might have said. I, Mojo Foldo, started the origami Beat-Alls! I, Mojo Foldo, love teams.
Coffee and Somersaults
By Robbie “Origami Batroc the Leaper” St. Francis
I sip upon the finest drink known to man: Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee. Actually, it tastes like mud water. Really, really sour and disgusting mud water. I grimace and gag in the teacher’s lounge, near the end of the day. I’m a college student, so the teachers and administration thinks I’m a substitute teacher. None of them know, however, that they are in the presence of Captain Americut’s best villain: The Origami Batroc the Leaper!
Actually… we never fought. Andy Gardner became homeschooled when I started my reign… at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not much leaping one could do while home alone.
Anyways, I first found myself in Ostrander because of a mistake. You see; I can leave any time I want. I’m in college, after all. So I was recruited just because… well, I’m a college kid, and I could get information. Plus, I can leap. I’m Batroc the Leaper.
So I sit there, coughing my lungs out, when a teacher walks up to me.
“Hohoho, hello!” He announced.
“What did you just call me?”
“Erm… I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I’m Mr. Pollock.” He sits down and sighs.
“Long day?” I ask.
“Yeah. You new here?”
“Uh… yeah. Yeah. Sure. I’m Robbie, I’m a sub.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Robert!” He exclaimed, reaching his fat hand out to me, “Are you aware of who I am, er— was?”
“No, I have no clue.”
“Why, I was the Origami Eggman! I had a rivalry with one student. He took up an origami Sonic the Foldhog. Actually… Two of them did. His older brother, and then he did, and they were such a pain in my tuchus!” I wish I was dreaming. He proceeded to explain in depth the stories and the fights, the conflict and stuff.
“Dude… you’re like fifty.” I said halfway through him recounting the second time he was fired. He paused and looked at me.
“You’re fifty, man. You’re making up rivalries and stuff with a child… heck, not even just a child; a whole family.” Pollock got flustered for a bit, his face turning a bright red.
“Right, well. I was rehired after he graduated eighth grade.”
“Okay, so what I’m hearing is that until his, like, little brother or his son or whatever starts here, you’re going to be working here.”
“Well, I hope to die before I have to teach another Jones!”
“All I’m hearing is that you’re a sh—”
“Hello, gentlemen! Boy, I got to tell you all about this kid in the Lab today.” A teacher who just barged in exclaimed. Suddenly, he paused, looking at me, “I’m sorry… Do I know you?”
I held out my hand, “I’m Robbie.” I said, praying I wasn’t about to hear a story about how this science teacher had defeated Crash Bandicootie Catcher with his Doctor Neo Cortexigami puppet. I was so worried I was in a school of teachers that just hated their students.
“Pleasure to meet you, Robert!” He said. Second time someone has said that, now. It was getting weird, “I’m Mr. Henderson, the Science teacher here.”
“Cool! I’m just a sub.”
“Yeesh, yeah, I heard about Ms. Lynch’s baby.”
“Yeah… yeah, horrible that that happened.” I said.
“That the baby came out alive and well?” Mr. Pollock asked. I froze. The window was right behind me. I could backflip out if needed. It would break the glass, though. Mr. Pollock cracked a smile, and started to laugh, “It’s all good, kiddo! You would’ve had no idea. Here, she sent a photo of him in the teacher’s group chat.”
He leaned over and started scrolling through messages in “The Lounge (NO MR. ALLEN EDITION).” Various curses, complaints about students, confusions on franchises, etcetera. I even saw a mention of Ms. Snyder, something about a Zoom Call or something with her about “joining the ranks.”
Mr. Pollock laughed an awkward laugh, “I didn’t realize how much conversation happened.” He continued to swipe, “Say, are you coming to the PTA Meeting tonight?”
“I’m just a sub, so… no, I’m not—”
“That doesn’t matter! It’s always fun. The whole town is going to be there. Except for the kids, of course.”
“A teacher that loves a Parent-Teacher Association meeting?”
“Yeah! We all love it. We plan out the whole next school year.”
“Shouldn’t you have done that like during the summer?” I asked.
Mr. Pollock laughs, “Oh… you don’t get it.”
“I guess I don’t.”
“Well, we hope to see you tonight.” Mr. Henderson says, “We feel like you’d be a perfect person to be involved with it.”
“… As a sub?”
“As a sub.”
“Okay…” Getting uncomfortable, I looked at my watch. We were nearing the end of the day. And then… She barged in.
“Jeez louise, is Ms. Lynch’s kids ALWAYS that bad?” Her beautiful black curly hair wobbled a tad in the afro-shaped getup she had. She smiled at all of us, and I looked at her starry-night styled dress. I was in love. Her name tag read ‘Ms. Chicks: Substitute Teacher”. So she wasn’t a Mrs. yet…
“Yeah, Chicks. They’re terrible. Anyways, look at Lynch’s baby.” Pollock said. He proceeded to show me the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen. Every part of the pale infant’s face was cartoonishly enlarged, like it was stung by bees in it’s eyes and nose and mouth. It’s forehead was gray, like the brain wanted to burst out of it’s skull.
“It’s… Beautiful.” I said. I averted my eyes from the monstrosity, looking directly at Ms. Chicks again. Then… my love quickly turned to fear, and Mr. Pollock and Henderson also felt something click.
“Wait… Chicks, were you subbing today for Ms. Lynch?” Mr. Henderson asked.
“Uh… yeah? Is that a problem?” Chicks responded, a smile across her face.
“Oh, no, it’s just Rob—-” I quickly stood up from my seat and proceeded to backflip my way out of the window. With enough force to shatter it, I felt glass enter my arms and legs, and everyone was standing up from their seats. I proceeded to run away towards the bus, only looking back to see that Ms. Chicks, Mr. Henderson, and Mr. Pollock were staring at me. The bus opens and that weird bus driver is there.
“What in the %$&* were you thinking?!” He exclaimed. I sat down and looked at him, wiping glass shards off of me and wincing at the pain of the cuts.
“I had to get out of there.”
“By backflipping out of the %$&*ing window?!”
“Yeah, I’m Batroc. The Leaper.”
“That wasn’t a leap, dude! That was a flip. A backflip.”
“Okay, listen, we can get into semantics later, but I have a lot of pertinent information. There’s a Parent-Teacher Association meeting tonight. It sounded really fishy. Something about ‘Plotting out the next school year.’ They said the whole town would be there. It sounds like it’s an —”
“Shut it. You’re expelled.”
“I’m a college kid. I can leave anytime I want.”
“I get it, but you’re expelled. Sit in the back of the bus and don’t say anything. In all aspects except physical, you’re dead to us.”
“I just gave you the information and now I’m stuck here for the rest of the night?!” I exclaimed, “Are you for real?”
“Yes. Now shut up and sit back there.”
“Do you at least have a book I could read?”
He fished around in his bag for a moment before tossing me Placed Upon His Ring Finger: An Origami Romance. I sighed, took the book, and walked to the back of the bus, opening the book and starting to read.
A Recording While on the Bus, from the bus driver
[The kids all step onto the bus. Robbie, who is supposed to be “dead” sneezes. I glared at him.]
Me: So, did you all have fun?
Rome: No, I, Mojo Foldo, did not have fun at all. In fact, fun was never in the equation to me. I was on a mission, and I, Mojo Foldo, made a cool finger puppet of some assassin. I believe that I, Mojo Foldo, have the most important information too.
Alec Baldwin: A second grade student broke his wrist during our designated craft time. I told him to slam it down on the table, I wanted to see if he was really as much of a “genius” as he claimed to be. I proved to the entire class I was the boss.
Amanda: Hardcore. I just sat in class. As a “Spy” there was nothing to really, y’know, spy on. It was a really normal day.
Michael: Same. I can’t really speak about anything. Some kid asked if my puppet was from a Nintendo Switch game. I said yes. He introduced me to the Ben Ten Fold kid, which was a dumb name for him. We were gonna fight, and then the bell rang. He exclaimed “We’ll fight one day!” and, like, he’s in for disappointment.
Ronald: I wish I had stuff to tell, but I was nervous the whole day. They asked me to introduce myself and I almost cried. Peyton, do you have anything?
Peyton: No. I left the school halfway through the day, tried their Taco Bell here. Y’know they brought back the shredded chicken here? Test kitchen, apparently. It brought back memories. They had the shredded chicken melts, the shredded chicken quesadillas. I snatched some kid’s wallet early on. I know, I know, “God of Truth” or whatever, but, listen, I’m telling the truth now, right? Some ‘Alex K.’ He had a Donkey Kong puppet. Anyways I got all of it, even the quesarito. It went so crazy. In fact—
Me: Hold that thought, what were you gonna say, Rome?
Rome: Well, I had discovered a macguffin unfounded amongst this school of storytellers and dinguses.
Alec Baldwin: I didn’t know we had a liberal in our ranks.
Peyton: I don’t even think he knows what that means?
Ronald: Shut up! He’s the smartest amongst us. He knows that word more than anyone here.
Me: Guys. Let Rome speak.
Alec Baldwin: Fine. My apologies, Roman. Continue.
Rome: Thank you, tiny child boy. The macguffin appears to be this Teacher’s Apple of Eden. My teacher, Mr. Kurzel, was in dire need of it. He said there were important things inside of the apple, and if we return it, we get twenty extra points on the final grade. But he seemed to say something was important in it. Anyways, why is the man who leaps sitting in the back of the bus, looking away from us?
Me: He failed his part of the mission. But before he failed, he told me about a PTA meeting happening tonight, and how important it is. I’m thinking, to kill time, you kids could do some reconnaissance? Maybe find someone that knows it?
[When I said this, I looked directly at Pyramid Head. They sat totally still.]
Me: PH, do you know anyone?
[Pyramid Head slowly shook their head. We all looked at them. Even Robbie, though he should be reading the best romance novel of all time.]
Me: Okay… so we’ll just be stuck on this bus for the next couple hours until it’s time for the PTA meeting.
[Everyone groans. Suddenly, Pyramid Head raises their finger in the air and swiftly walks off the bus. Everyone follows them. Except Robbie, who is dead in my eyes.]
By Peyton “Apollo” Hunter
“Am I going insane?” I asked.
“We’re all crazy here.” Michael responded.
“No, seriously. I could’ve sworn I passed by this exact row of houses when I was heading to Taco Bell. Even with the kid bouncing his ball outside.”
“I have a Michael Jordan puppet!” He exclaimed.
“The other kid said that…” I grumbled.
“Mine is from NBA 2K11!”
“Okay, so the other one was from NBA 2K12. But my point still stands.” I said. Ronald nodded.
“My early Geography class talked about the whole town’s unusual layout. She actually complained about it. She explained to think of the town as an octopus, with Rapids Middle and Toby Middle being the head. Then, from that head is a roundabout, with parking lots to the schools. From this large, large, roundabout is an exit into the Greater Rapids Area. This is like its own pocket town. Everything else is just out there. The roundabout also splits eight ways, into eight neighborhoods, like tentacles. There’s also woods… everywhere.” Rome mansplained.
“Crazy.” I said. It felt like I was going crazy, though. We all were walking, and it felt like a drag. My mind starts rushing to old memories of New York and school there. I was also wondering why we were walking when the bus driver could’ve just driven us over, and where it was that we were going.
“How can you see through that thing?” I asked the Pyramid person, who was taking the lead. They stopped and looked at me. Everyone else kept moving forward, but the Pyramid person stared at me, and I stared back.
“That’s right, you don’t speak. You’re like, an… uh… a resident evil villain.” Suddenly, I’m hit with the Pyramid person’s foam blade. Pyramid Person had swung straight at me for saying the name of their game. I held my lip, looking at them.
“Seriously?” I asked. Pyramid Person turned around and kept walking, picking up their pace. Amanda walked up next to me.
“Silent Hill.” She whispered, “You’re thinking of Silent Hill.”
“Crap…” I sighed. We eventually reached the house, or, I guess we did, because Pyramid Person came to a complete stop.
“Is this… really it?” I asked.
“I guess it is, guys.” Alec Baldwin responded.
“It looks… pretty odd.” Ronald mentioned.
“I can’t tell if that flag means the household is nerdy or… really pro-second amendment?” Michael said, pointing to the flag.
It was totally black, with white pixel lettering, reading “Step on our property, and you’ll be stabbed, broken, and looted for rupees” complete with a couple vases, some broken, with Legend of Zelda rupees on it.
“Well… we gotta go see and find out.” I said.
“Help us…” Everyone else sighed.
The Genius Infant
By Ronald “King Crease” Lamden
“Have you always been like this?” I asked the genius infant in front of me. He held up his Origami Boss Baby, facing it to me so that he didn’t need to turn around.
“Yeah, what’s it to you?”
“Are you, like, scared?” I asked.
“No, I’m not. I don’t feel scared when I have business to do. I’m gonna walk in, meet this guy, and cut him a deal he simply can’t refuse.”
“That’s interesting. You know, I was around your age when I did my first mission for the squad.”
“Cool. Gahd,” He groaned, pausing and turning around, pointing directly at me, “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing, Lamden. Love it or hate it, I’m the smartest one here.” Probably the most confident, but okay, “And I don’t need your protection. I’ll be safe. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry, because I’m the Boss.”
“Got it.” I said. I walked past him, and he started to fall behind.
“I’ll… I’ll admit, though. My legs are feeling tired.” So, I stopped, knelt down, and Alec Baldwin climbed onto my back. I started to walk whilst carrying him.
“… What was your first mission like?”
“Scary. I wasn’t really literate, and I, well, I was just scared. I… crapped in a pool.”
Alec Baldwin started laughing, “That’s hilarious.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t as funny for the cleaners, or the guy who fell into it.”
“Ew!!” The Origami Boss Baby responded. “Could I let you in on a secret?”
“I crapped my pants during class one day, but I managed to convince the class and the teacher that a different kid crapped my OWN pants, and he had to give me his own pair!” He started laughing while on my back, slapping it and cracking up at his own manipulative act.
Yeah. The kid was just a kid, regardless of if he was the boss or not.
And it was up to me to protect him. We looked towards the home.
The Kid Behind the Door
By Alec “Origami Boss Baby” Baldwin
“Are you guys the Pizza Guy?” The boy asked as he opened the door. I had been the one to knock, and he totally missed me, looking at everyone else surrounding me.
“Uh… no.” I said, “and it smells like skunk, man.”
“Are you guys cops?” He asked, “I haven’t seen a cop in years here, man. Now there’s like… eight of you here. And a small one too.”
The boy wore a green beanie, and his blonde hair tufted out from it.
I looked over at Pyramid Head, “Who is this guy?”
“I’m Linkin Roades, man.”
I turned back to him, “That doesn’t help, man. Can we come in and chat for a bit?”
We stepped inside the house, which smelled rank. “I’m sorry, I had some sage lit earlier.”
“This has got to be the worst smell I’ve ever smelled in my life.” Amanda mentioned. Even Pyramid Head looked distraught, even if we couldn’t see their face.
“Anyways,” Ronald said, “We’re travelers. Of an…”
“Traveling circus people.” Peyton jumped in.
“Yeah. But we noticed this town was pretty weird when we entered.”
Linkin’s eyes were wide, and he was just staring with an open mouth at Ronald.
“What do you mean, bro?”
“Like, the middle school here is obsessed with video games.” Amanda said.
“Yeah, dude. But it’s cool.”
“Why are they so obsessed?” Michael asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Did you have a puppet?” Michael asked again.
“My name is Linkin. Guess.”
“So like, did the puppet come first or the name?” I asked him while looking around the room. A seemingly happy, nerdy family. There was a treehouse out back.
“I don’t know.”
“Do you know anything about a ‘Teacher’s Apple of Eden?’” Rome asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Was there a Sonic?” Michael asked him. He looked at Michael, and then looked away.
“Yeah. He was… pretty cool.”
“What does he do now? Can I eat that?” Michael asked while pointing at a mochi ball.
“Sure, bro. I don’t know, me and him don’t really chat anymore. He posted something about a convention he’s at.”
“Based.” Michael responded.
“On what?” Linkin asked. We all stared at him, confused.
“So, what grade are you in right now, Linkin?” I asked.
“Ninth. I’m a freshman at the high school a bit away from here.”
“Where’s your parents?”
“At a PTA event for Rapids.”
“Oh, do you have a little sibling attending?”
“Why are they still going to PTA meetings for the school you have graduated from?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” I sighed and looked at the TV, which was just playing some show about a scientist and a kid going on dimensional adventures. It was on mute.
“Do you have a bathroom here?” I asked.
“It’s a house, man… of course I do. Upstairs and to the left.”
I tapped Ronald on the shoulder and ushered him to follow me upstairs. As we were climbing up, I looked towards him. “I think he’s hiding something.”
“Do you think it’s under his bed?”
“Anyways, I think he knows more than he’s letting on. We gotta find his parent’s room.”
“Dude… are you sure you want to go into a parent’s room?” He asked, “They tend to be pretty boring.”
“I don’t care.”
“He probably hides it in his treehouse.” Ronald theorized.
“You saw that too? A treehouse is something for our age. Not a high school freshman.”
“I don’t know, dude. I think treehouses are fairly timeless.”
“Agree to disagree.” I grumbled. We walked into the parent’s bedroom. The bed was large, and Ronald was right. It looked boring. I started opening drawers, throwing underwear and socks everywhere, looking for anything of note. Nothing. Ronald stood still, watching me turn the bedroom upside down.
“Are we gonna have to clean this up?” He asked.
“Heck no, man.”
I turned towards the top of the dresser, looking at the little knick knacks, pens and notes. One was taped onto the mirror: PTA Meeting, Monday night, 8 PM. Harold’s Big Night!”
“They left really early.” Ronald mentioned.
“Probably a courtesy thing.” I said. I moved to his mom’s makeup table, and I pushed all the makeup and stuff off.
“There’s a hatch here.” I said.
“Yeah, like a secret hatch over the makeup.” There was a rectangular outline on the top of the table.
“Is there no drawer?” Ronald asked, looking over it.
“No…” I reached underneath the desk, feeling around. There was a dip under the desk, and when I pushed up, something popped up.
“What in the world…” Ronald asked. He picked it up; a paper mask, looking like some type of bird with a beak.
“I didn’t think I’d see one… this far away, y’know?” He said.
“What is it?”
“You… You wouldn’t know about it.” He quickly pocketed it, “Come on. Let’s go.”
We come downstairs and everyone is talking with Linkin, who isn’t budging.
“Alright man, we’re gonna get out of your hair.” I say.
“Okay short dude, sounds good. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
“Do you know where we should go next?”
He looked around at all of us, and shifted a bit in his seat, “I guess… maybe your next part of this level would be the Final Foldasy house. Here, I’ll write down the address.” He scribbled it down on a piece of paper and handed it to Pyramid Head, “They’ll help you from here.”
Ronald and I looked at eachother, and then back at him. Everyone else on the squad was as confused as us.
“Shoo.” He said.
So, we left.
The Final Foldasy House
By Michael “Kevin Foldlevin” Cipes
Standing outside of the “Final Foldasy House” as Linkin put it, I am filled with a sense of dread. Compared to the other houses down the street of this Cul-De-Sac, it looks so different. It looks unkempt, and grayer. I don’t like abandoned buildings. But this isn’t abandoned, right?
Alec Baldwin steps up to the door, preparing to knock upon it. Ronald, however, swiftly grabs Alec Baldwin, pulling him back and stepping forward to knock. He wraps upon the door three times, and we all stand still… waiting.
Then, the door creeps open.
If Linkin’s house smelled terrible, this smells rancid. Alec Baldwin slides through the door without a snide remark, and I stand near Rome, mainly out of a concern for my safety. I also wanted to be as far away from the stinky place as possible. Nonetheless, Rome grabs my shoulder, “You will find what you’re going to be, Michael Cipes, my neighbor, my friend from Jutefruce, California.” he echoed. I sigh, not quite believing what he was saying. Finally, we step into…
An even dirtier interior. Mattresses lay upon the floor, flies buzz around, various jugs and bags lay around. Eight people sit there, chilling, looking at their puppets.
“Uh, hello.” Peyton said. They slowly look up at her.
“Are you here to join the Final Foldasy House?” A dirty blonde woman asks, holding up her puppet of Cloud Strife (I played my classics. My dad made me).
“No, it seems like the Final Foldasy House is quite full.” Alec Baldwin mentioned.
“Yeah, and, I mean, I don’t know if I really like the sm— layout.” Amanda said. The dirty blonde haired woman nodded. She looked over at another woman, who had bugs crawling from her greasy mop. Her skin was as pale as snow, and her clothes were that of a child’s.
“We are a family here, we’ve grown up together. One day, we ran outside and found a bus, who had gifted our wonderful sister, Cloud, her puppet. We immediately realized it was a sign from above that we were not who we were meant to be. We had names like ‘Sarah’ and ‘Alan.’ Now… we’re all characters with puppets of Final Fantasy characters. I’m Bugenhagen, the elder from the village of Cosmo Canyon.”
“Guys… what the $&%* is this place?” Ronald nervously whispered to me.
“It’s the Final Foldasy house—-”
“AND I AM SEPHIROTH! Mortal enemy of Cloud Strife, however, we have found ourselves here, trapped within these confines, only getting older with age within the mortal vessels we call these Earthly bodies.” Sephiroth holds up his puppet, crappily folded and colored with crayola markers. It’s gotten wet before, so the ink has bled. “We have no need for education, we have no need for money. We are beyond the monetary earthly needs, as these puppets on our fingers are really us; it is these bodies that need food.”
“And I’m Barret Wallace. I’m the protector here.” I could see in the look of his eyes a cry for help. “I have a job at the Taco Bell nearby.”
“I love the shredded chicken.” Peyton mentioned. Barret smiled.
“Yeah, I sure love the HELP that store gives ME in making them. They’re super good.”
“Next, it is I! Seto Kaiba! I use my cards and my puppet to fight, and duel!”
“That’s… that’s not even Final Fantasy, man. That’s Yu Gi Oh.” Amanda said.
“Listen, we don’t want to be here any longer than we have to. Do you guys know anything about the PTA meetings that have been happening at the beginning of each school year?” Peyton asked.
Bugenhagen closes her eyes, and she sits in silence, humming. The others follow suit, and she proceeds to open them. “Yes.” She said, “In fact, we’re well aware of them. They all offered me their knowledge telepathically. This Parent Teachers Association… it led to our family leaving us. They were dissatisfied with some news, and walked out without saying a word, leaving us in this home. Alone. For years.”
“Our clothes no longer fit.” Sephiroth says, “But we do not complain as we know our true purpose.”
“I don’t want to interrupt,” Ronald says, interrupting, “But… do you guys know anything about this?” He holds out a mask, clearly with an air of knowledge that he has an idea of it. They stare at the mask, and Burger or whatever hums loudly again.
When she finally opens her eyes, they all stand up. She casts her hand out towards us, and everyone starts to attack. Barret opens his phone, and from the crappy iPhone 3, the Final Fantasy VII battle soundtrack comes on. We all jump into fighting positions. Cloud takes a swing at Alec Baldwin, but Ronald holds his arm out, preventing the kid from being hit. He grabbed hold of Cloud’s arms, and she screeched, but Ronald proceeded to headbutt her multiple, multiple times.
Some guy with a “Goon” puppet lunged at me, but I side stepped. Amanda and Peyton ran towards me, joining into the fight with this Goon kid. The Goon attempted yet again to attack, but all three of us pushed back on him. I then punched him in the face, and he appeared dazed and dizzy. “Nice hit, Michael! Maybe you are as strong as the real Kevin Levin!” Peyton exclaimed. I smiled at her, and we proceeded to kick the kid while he was down.
Quickly the fight moved elsewhere, like a river flowing naturally, we turned our attention towards Pyramid Head, who was fighting Sephiroth. They swung their weird looking blade heavily in the air, hitting him in the face. Sephiroth, the “One Winged Puppet”, suddenly looked at me while being wailed upon. He dashed towards me, grabbing me by the neck. I felt my windpipe starting to clench as he held me in the air.
I closed my eyes.
I’m as strong as Four Arms and Diamond Head. As wild as Wildmutt. As fast as XLR8, as smart as Grey Matter and Upgrade, and as much of a wildcard as Heatblast. I. Am. The. Real. Kevin Foldlevin.
I bit his hand. He grunted, and I bit harder, as I saw blood start to trickle down his hand. He let go of me and staggered back. As he went to swing his stupid blade at me, I heard a smash, and, right behind him, I saw Pyramid Head.
Their weird triangle helmet thing broke, revealing luscious brown hair, and a deeply, deeply angered face.
“Oh, $&*%.” Sephiroth said as Pyramid Head began wailing upon him. I then felt someone tap my shoulder, as the fight had more or less stopped while the bruises formed upon Sephiroth’s face. He coughed up a tooth. The person who tapped my shoulder was Bugenhagen.
“Whatever you seek will be at that school, but you will not be pleased with what you find. Be aware. Beware. Leave us be, and leave us alone.” Ronald picked up Alec Baldwin, and grabbed Pyramid Head by the arm, who was screaming the whole time.
“Wait, guys— guys? GUYS!! Save me!!!” Barret exclaimed, but we were gone.
When we walked out, the bus pulled up.
“Give. Me. Pyramid Head.” The bus driver said.
“How do you know what’s happening?” I asked, “How did you… How did you even know where we were?!”
He pointed at Rome, “We put a camera in his glasses. A.R.G.U.S. makes sure to prepare for everything.”
We all looked at Rome, but Rome was as shocked as we were. Pyramid Head pushed themselves off of Ronald, and slowly walked up the steps of the bus.
“You’re now without your spy and know it all. They had exposed you guys too much.” Pyramid Head looked back at all of us, and I could see their eyes, full of warmth and kindness. They then turned around, going back on the bus.
“Can we have a ride back to the school?” Ronald asked.
“… I guess. But you can’t thank Pyramid Head. They nearly made YOU ALL fail the mission.”
I thought it was so petty, but we all got back on the bus, which still had Robbie and Pyramid Head. Robbie gave the book he was reading to Pyramid Head, and we all took a rest for a bit on the short drive back to Rapids.
By Ronald “King Crease” Lamden
All of us except for Robbie and Pyramid Head leave the bus. Walking over to the playground, Alec Baldwin reaches his arm out to me, and I kneel down, letting him climb up upon my back. Now at the playground, I get a good glimpse of all of us.
There was never a fight like that on the other squads.
Rome was shaken up. He kept looking into his glasses. At first, he holds them out.
“No, no– dude, don’t do that.” Michael said.
“Why shouldn’t I? They’ve been spying on I, Mojo Foldo, and all of us, for the last day! They know everything, they’ve heard every single conversation. Why shouldn’t I break this?”
“If you do,” Peyton says, “We’ll all have our sentences lengthened. I learned that the hard way.”
Any lingering anger we might’ve had towards Rome now turned towards Peyton.
“So you knew?” Alec Baldwin asked.
“I had a semblance of an idea.”
“Then why didn’t you say something?” I asked.
“Because I wasn’t sure. I thought maybe they wouldn’t. It’s an invasion of privacy.”
“They’re the spy.” Amanda sighed.
Michael groans, “Amanda, why do you keep saying random quotes from The Rise of Skywalker?”
“Because Hux didn’t do much, alright?”
Everyone started to bicker with one another, as Rome slowly placed his glasses back on his face.
“Why didn’t Peyton get a camera?” Rome asked after looking at us with fixed eyes.
“Maybe I do! I don’t know! They see us when we’re sleeping and stuff!” Peyton snapped back.
“Guys.” I said. I started to think about Shaun-Zhang Snyder. Will Banks. They had done this before. They’ve gotten annoyed before, and they had to take up leadership roles. I remember Mary Jest’s hug as I sobbed, and I felt the heavy breathing upon my back from Alec Baldwin, that stress that is gonna lead him to crying like I did so long ago.
“Guys.” I repeated. They continued to bicker. “Guys!” I roared. They all shut up.
“Here’s the plan. Rome, Amanda, Michael: You guys are gonna go to the PTA meeting, okay? Enough bickering, enough of all that stuff. Peyton, me, and Alec; we’re gonna find this ‘Apple of Eden’ or whatever. Sounds good? I don’t want to hear any more of this stuff. Think of the children.” It was as though the leaders of my past voices were exiting from my mouth, “Am I understood?”
They all froze, staring at me.
“The sun is about to set and there’s cars pulling up. If we don’t act now, we won’t have time to do it later… Come on!” Everyone snapped into gear, and I even felt Alec Baldwin recover.
“Great job, boss man.” He said to me.
“Wait, before I, Mojo Foldo, leave.” Rome said to Peyton, “Have this.” He handed her a puppet, “It is imperative that you have it on you when you find the Apple of Eden. It does not make sense for a Greek god to find it, or a shark, or a baby. But an Assassin, in fact, does. Somehow. It is best to suspend disbelief, but it was a pleasure to at least get to know you.”
Michael, Amanda, and Rome all walked away.
“Why me with you?” Peyton asked.
“You’re Apollo, the god of hunting. Plus, you got glasses. Who knows if a camera is in yours?”
“That’s Artemis, and… I see. Well, let’s get to scavenging.”
Arrow to the Knee
By Peyton “Apollo” Hunter
“This school is kind of lame, huh?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Ronald asked.
“Well, like, look at the playground. Mulch, a swing that can seat six. One slide.”
“I mean, yeah, I guess I see that, but that doesn’t make it lame. I mean, the teachers were interesting.”
“‘Interesting’ is certainly a word.” Alec Baldwin said, “Probably not the word I’d choose. Chaotic? Yes. Out-of-Control? Absolutely, but that’s just a synonym for chaotic. Sexist? Well, I’m not familiar with the word, but—”
“They weren’t sexist.” I said. “Though, there’s a lot more ‘boy’ heroes running around.”
“I think that’s something to be said about video games, though.” Alec Baldwin replied, “My older brother plays video games and they always have a male hero. If they don’t, you get the choice between a boy and a girl.”
“Where could this Apple even be?” I asked.
“Anywhere. I mean, on campus.” Ronald assumed.
“It couldn’t just be in someone’s home? Maybe it was just in that dude’s homeroom, and we’re just doing busy work when we should be in the room where it happens.”
“I don’t know…” Ronald said, “I think that this plastic apple could house something.”
“Maybe it’s in that flower bed over there?” I said, pointing to a memorial flower bed for some teacher who passed away.
“No… that would be, like, disrespectful.” Ronald responded.
“Come on, the plants die all the time.” I ran over to it, my bow and quiver jiggling on my back. I hadn’t gotten to shoot anything in the last day because I left it on the bus this morning.
“Peyton, please don’t. I respect the dead, and I’m the Origami Boss Baby.” Alec said, waving his finger puppet around. I started to step on the plants, looking for any semblance of touched land.
“Stop it.” Ronald said, his voice shaky. I continued to look around though, “Peyton, seriously. Stop it.”
“It’s going to be there.”
“No, dude, look. Over there.”
I froze, realizing that we might be facing years of ridicule for stepping on some dead teacher’s favorite flowers. I slowly stood up, turned around, and grabbed my bow and an arrow, loading it into the quiver.
“Hello?” The voice asked, “How many of you are there?” We didn’t answer.
“Hello? I can see two of you, but if there’s more, if you must know, I have been training for, uh, fights. I lift weights, like, a lot.”
I pulled back the arrow. Alec Baldwin was about to speak up, but Ronald put his hand over Alec Baldwin’s mouth.
“Let the short man speak, sir! He might save both of your rump—”
I aimed my bow and released my arrow. The Bow’s quiver wobbled back and forth, vibrating due to the tension placed upon it. The arrow whizzed between Alec Baldwin and Ronald, who quickly turned to look at me, Ronald’s hand still over Alec Baldwin’s mouth. Right behind them, the figure in the distance fell over, holding his knee.
“My knee!” He exclaimed.
“His knee?!” Ronald yelled.
“His knee.” I responded. I didn’t see the big deal.
Bring Out the Phone Flashlight!
By Rome “Mojo Foldo” Hominidae
As we walk through the school, the vibe — and smell — has immediately changed within my nostrils. I’m currently sitting outside the janitor’s closet, but Michael needed to use the lavatory, so me and Amanda Gleeson, the General Creaux, are just waiting there. I, Mojo Foldo, am not afraid. When we walked in, arrows kindly pointed us to the location that we must arrive at, which is, in fact, the janitor’s closet.
The whole place smells a lot more stale, by the way. Maybe a little bit of perfume, but is it chanel? I cannot put the name to the fragrance. The coat rack next to the entrance was filled to the brim. All of the lights were immensely dimmed, and those arrows were, in fact, the only way we could ever see anything. I, Mojo Foldo, figured that it would be a lot easier, but we were wrong, and I, Mojo Foldo, frequently bumped into Amanda, who got really mad and nearly punched me.
Anyways, Michael has finished utilizing the lavatory to his full extent, from using the toilet to washing his hands, even drying them. He opens the door to the Janitor’s closet, and… I’m looking at a staircase. Going down.
What… the… $%*#.
By Amanda “General Creaux” Gleeson
[The Following confession was written at Ostrander Correctional Facility. Emotions were removed to give just the important details.]
I remember the steps being quiet, as we heard the voices already from the bottom of them. There was a room beneath us, and I didn’t know how large it was, but it felt full. It felt stuffy, and I could feel the air being sucked out from me. I was scared, and I could feel that claustrophobia already. Rome’s foot had squeaked on a step behind us, and I shushed him before it could get any worse.
A voice echoed within the catacombs. Many, shouting, exclaiming in fear and anger.
“Who made YOU the Origami Master?” One asked.
“You all! YOU made me THIS! The fifty fourth in a long line.” The “Origami Master” exclaimed, “I’ve been here since our sect has formed. I was elsewhere long ago, plotting, scheming. WHO was it that thought the District Attorney would make a great final villain for the last fold?”
“…You…” A person said quietly.
“Exactly! And that’s why we need to decide on our next one. Together. I might be a storyteller, but YOU all, the parents, the teachers… you deserve the voice of this fresh era.”
“Some kids, Origami Master, they’ve… they’ve figured they’d make their own stories. NBA 2k, for example. Doom. What are we to do about them?”
“Put a stop to it! Immediately! Theirs is not a story that deserves to be heard or seen. They are not the ones whose names will be remembered.”
“So, what is our fold this time?” A woman’s voice in the back asks, “I want my son to have something to do with it. Even if he doesn’t know it, yet.”
“We’ve had so much Nintendo. For the last three folds, it’s been nothing but Nintendo!” A squawking voice exclaimed, “It is time for SONY. Or MICROSOFT to take center stage…”
I looked back at Michael and Rome, who are as confused as me. “Folds?” Plotting? Like stories? We continued to quietly walk down the steps, and that’s when I finally got a good glimpse at… something.
The basement was full of people in paper owl masks. The “Origami Master” stood upon his podium, a large, 3D mask over his face while the other people wore shoddily made mockeries. We were unable to be seen in the dark of the staircase.
“Yeah! We need to have a Microsoft fold. One with Halo! Bring me Halo!” A woman ravenously echoed.
“It appears we have come across cultists. Lunatics. Madmen and creatures.” Rome whispered.
“What… the… $%*#.” I couldn’t count the amount, but there had to have been at least two hundred people, sweating, crammed into this room while this Origami Master listened to their pleas.
“We must do a crossover! Is the school council over at Barbera or Ward doing anything?” One proposed.
“Crossovers are weird, they require too much background knowledge. Besides! They’re awhole country away.”
“How about new age versions of the familiar? We loved seeing that Joe Martinet kid shatter. Just do it again!”
“Don’t you all realize? To tell the same story is to tell no story at all! We must make this fold perfect. Just let the kids run wild!”
“And have the same mistake as the Madison Council?! Are you mad?” The Origami Master questioned.
“They only screwed up because for years they let those kids run free. No one was predestined to be anybody. They ran free, and look at them now! Kirby is closed, and Wheeler is full.”
“A mole! We need a mole!”
“No, you idiot. Not like that Animal Crossing character. A real mole. A spy, someone on the inside, one of us, making the shifts once again.”
“A Capcom fold!” One decried, “Ending the school year with Marvel vs Capcom. A crossover with the Wheeler council!”
“No, you idiot. They’ve been defunct for years when they let them roam around free.” Another hissed, “Kids are meant to listen, to obey.”
“Here’s the idea I’m playing with.” The Origami Master started, hushing the crowd. “We’d begin the fold with a Sly Cooper story. Like a Linkin Roades character.”
“That’s my boy!” A woman exclaimed. If only she could look at him now.
“Follow that up with a Bioshock narrative. Have it showcase just how dark and gritty and real Rapids Middle could be. After that, we could have an Uncharted saga, and a God of War. Anyone know if any kid is coming from Caesar middle?”
“Err… one, sir.”
“Perfect.” This guy’s voice was slimy, malevolent, and it made me shiver to my core, “We could have a kid do his little fun adventures as Sackboy. Another does a Jak and Daxter story that crosses over with Ratchet and Clank. Then, we’d have a surprise story! I bet you didn’t know this, Mr. Pollock, wherever you are, but Mike Jones’ cousin, Jonathon Jones, has moved into one of our nearby neighborhoods, and shall be attending Rapids this current semester.”
I could hear a creepy, slimy chuckle from the other side of the room.
“To conclude the fold, I think we will have some stupid thing happen. Maybe a test score mess up. Maybe we’ll do something silly and cause drama. But we want these kids to fight. To get messed up. To become disgruntled and hurt. It will be our Playstation All-Folds Battle Royale.”
Everyone is silent, and then one person starts clapping. Then another. Then everyone joins in.
“It’ll be entertaining! A spectacle to watch. And us teachers and faculty, you parents… You’ll encourage them to write down their feelings, and stories, like the McQuarrie Kids of the past! It will be glorious, hilarious! And… It’ll be, I guess, our last hurrah. For now.”
Everyone sighs a saddened sigh.
“We recognize the Origami Stories… We only have so much to tell. Or… well, only so much our children can tell. They don’t even realize that THEY aren’t the leaders of THEIR OWN generation! We will watch it with open arms, and when it all concludes, we’ll move forward.” I watch as one looks up, and looks directly at me, as I’ve been peeking my head out too far to get a look at all of them. They point at me, and everyone turns around to look directly at me.
“Intruders!” Someone yells.
“Get them! They cannot spoil the plot of our fold!” The Origami Master exclaims. I start to run away, climbing back up the steps. It doesn’t even register in time for Michael and Rome, when, all of a sudden, they’re swallowed up by the crowd of cultists, screaming and crying for my help. But I continued to run. And Run.
I’m so sorry.
By Alec “Origami Boss Baby” Baldwin
We all ran over to the kid, who is crying in pain. I looked over at Peyton.
“You had real arrows?!” I yelled.
“Yeah, I forgot them on the bus earlier. I would’ve used them at the Final Foldasy House. Believe me.”
“You shouldn’t be firing real arrows at anyone!” Ronald exclaimed, “Come on, Hunter!”
“I know, I know… But like, look, he’s not hurting much.”
“I can’t feel my leg, I… I can’t feel my leg!” The kid exclaimed. He had a flashlight in his hand, and I picked it up to get a good glimpse of him.
He had black, curly hair, and deep, brown eyes. He was sobbing his eyes out. On his hand was a tattoo of an eye.
“Is that an eye of Horus tattoo?” Peyton asked.
“Yeah… My mom didn’t really like me getting it, but I’m eighteen, so I can do what I— I can’t feel my leg!”
“That’s because you have an arrow sticking out of it, pal. That I shot.” Peyton said.
“Oh my God, am I gonna need to get it amputated?”
“Should we take it out?” Ronald asked me and Peyton.
“No!” All three of us exclaimed.
“What were you three doing here?”
Peyton held up her Assassin puppet that Rome gave her, “We’re looking for the Apple of Eden.” She said, wiggling the puppet around, “Sorry, I didn’t know the accent.”
“No, no, I’d prefer if you didn’t, like, put on an accent with Altair. You said you were looking for the Golden Apple of Eden?”
“Yeah! Do you know where it is?” I asked.
“Well, of course I do. I buried it. I’m Ausar.” Peyton started playing a role, I guess.
“Woah… that’s cool! I’ve heard the name before.” She lied.
“Yeah, I’m something of a leg— oh my &%*$! I forgot about my leg!”
Peyton tried acting shocked too, “That’s right! Your leg, I’m so sorry! We’ll call you an ambulance.”
“Please!” Ausar exclaimed, “My phone is in my pocket.”
I then held my hand up, “Actually, we’ll only get you an ambulance if you tell us the golden apple’s location.”
“Uh…” Peyton said, but I glared at her.
“For real?! Seriously? Fine. The Teacher’s Apple of Eden is over there in that dead lady’s memorial. I know, it’s a bad place for it; it’s so obvious. Beneath the roses.”
“Alrighty! Peyton, why don’t you stay with him while we get the Apple?”
Peyton sighed and kneeled next to Ausar, who looked so afraid of the woman that had just shot his knee.
“Shut up, man. I’m not gonna hurt you. Here, Alec, take the Altair puppet. For Rome’s disbelief or whatever.” I grabbed the puppet from her, and quickly ran with Ronald over to the small garden. It was time to do some digging. I could hear from the distance, “Hello? 911? My friend Ausar has been shot by an arrow. Right outside of Rapids Middle School. Please come here, ASAP.”
Some is Revealed
By Peyton “Apollo” Hunter
“Why tonight of all nights did you decide to show up here?” I asked. He was breathing a bit heavily, and so I was just trying to keep his eyes open.
“I’ve… I’ve always felt weird about Rapids Middle. Since I started there it felt just so odd. Everyone was different, and… I didn’t want to admit it, but some people were main characters, and others weren’t.” He winced in pain, and grabbed hold of the arrow. I moved his hand off of it.
“Get your grubby hands off of the arrow, man. You take it out, you’ll bleed to death.”
“Oh, shoot, you’re right. Good to know. Anyways, do you know how sad it is to know who the important ones are?”
“Yeah…” I sighed, thinking about, well, myself. I was given this puppet because I was told I meant something, because it was in my cards to be an important one.
And then I ended up here.
“I just wanted to be important. But sometimes, that’s not in the cards. And I was suspicious that it might’ve not been my fault. That there were people coordinating it. I faded into obscurity, graduated into absurdity. And High school is far from this school. Gosh, I’m so hungry.”
I reached into my back pocket, taking out the Shredded Chicken Quesarito that I had saved for myself. I sighed, unwrapped it, and handed it to him.
“A shredded chicken quesarito? I love these things! Remember when they got rid of them in 2020—”
Holding back tears, “Yes… yes I do.”
“You’re not so bad, Ms…”
“Peyton. Just call me Peyton.”
“Thank you. I wanted to be helpful. I’m sorry for scaring you guys. I hope that I helped you guys with your grade. I… I won’t tell anybody about you all.”
“You did, you absolutely did. Thank you, Ausar.” Ausar smiled at that, and started to fall asleep. I was getting nervous when, suddenly, the ambulance pulled up. I quickly ran away and hid so that I wouldn’t get caught, but they started yelling for me.
Just keep your head down and run.
By Amanda “General Creaux” Gleeson
[The Following is a continuation of the confession she had composed for A.R.G.U.S.]
I was running out of the building, and I started circling around the place, trying to find Ronald and his group. I kept looking behind me, scared out of my mind to find those cultists chasing after me. I kept thinking — a council? People in the shadows?
Then, I was freaking out, breathing so heavily to myself. What if the reason I got to Ostrander was because of the Council’s interference? What was all just by chance, and what was because they had shifted stuff? When I was the “spy” against the “Fold Order” was I, the whole time, being spied upon? I felt myself getting dizzy, and then I looked up.
“Amanda? Amanda. Are you okay? Amanda!” Peyton exclaimed before slapping me across the face. I looked directly at her.
“They’re gone.” I said.
“Who? Where’s Rome and Michael?”
“I told you where, I %&*$ed up. They— There were these people all in masks, talking about ‘Folds’ and stuff, and they were plotting the next year, and it was… I don’t get it— they took them.” I remember I had looked over and saw Alec Baldwin digging with his grubby hands, and then he pulled out a golden, clear, plastic apple.
I stared at it; I mean, we all did. It had a twist top, and Ronald quickly twisted it open, pulling out a piece of paper.
“What is it, Ronald?” Peyton asked.
“Here, I have that flashlight from Ausar.” Alec Baldwin mentioned.
“Who?” I asked. My head was swimming, and I kept looking behind me.
“It’s… 2022 records. Kane, Lampert, Donner, Claremont, Ilkley Grammar? McQuarrie, Rapids… just a lot of schools. A lot of places where, I think, origami is, y’know, found.”
“What else is on it?” Peyton asked.
“Numbers. 328 at Kane, Donner, and Lampert. Like a combined total. Fifty six at Ilkley…” He kept reading off all these numbers, I can’t even remember them all, and then he was like “and it says at the top… ‘Council numbers’…”
That was when I started to cry, to sob. It wasn’t just a nightmare: that had happened. What I had just seen down there had happened, and it was real, and I knew in that moment that there was no freedom within my actions.
The bus had pulled up, and we hopped on, and I asked that bus driver what happened to Rome and Michael. That guy… Miss Snyder— He wouldn’t look at me. He just wouldn’t. He simply said that the glasses were broken. I’m so sorry, Miss Snyder. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry to my team, I just hope that they’re fine. I just hope they’re saved soon.
I’m so sorry.
Part Two: The Thunderfolds Versus The Maggia
Kravpen, The Bus Ride, and Me
By Metis “Foldseye” Asato
While eight freaks sat together in silence on a bus, I thought about Solitaire. From a young age, cards always fascinated me. I played Solitaire, Spades, everything. I held back the urge to pull out my lucky deck, but there wasn’t much room.
“Thunderfold Ross,” the teacher who had loaded us on this bus and told us our mission had us sit in the very back. Sitting next to me was a boy about my age with blonde hair, he was skinny, like he hadn’t been fed well enough, which checks out, because I was pretty sure I already knew him.
From the tufts of his blonde hair and the fur coat that he wore, every sign told me has Wheeler Academy’s infamous KravPen. And that scared me more than anything- because we knew next to nothing about him, other than the fact that Sebastian Merrick caught him and Dane Jackson started acting weird after that.
I knew next to nothing about anybody here, really. I knew next to nothing about the brunette man with the strange, leather covered jar or the man who’s easily in his thirties, the one who used to hang around the school until they called the police. I knew nothing about the Chameleon, the guy who’s face is covered by scarfs, sunglasses, or a floppy hat other than the fact that he terrorized Madison for years. Nothing about the choppy blonde in the 3D glasses and jean jacket, or the senior with dark rings beneath his eyes and a haunting glare.
And I’m not sure I wanted to know what the cheerleader’s deal was, other than the fact that I had a huge crush on her.
Despite this, there was a mutual respect in the bus. Despite the fact that it was so dark out that we could look out the window and see only black, or the smell of mildew and grass, respect lingered in the room about as much as the silence did.
And in a way, I guess I had the most respect for the KravPen beside me. Because he did what I was never able to do… he took down Dallas.
The first person who broke the silence was jean jacket, “Okay, I’m just gonna say it. This is stupid.”
Most of us were too afraid- or too tired- to agree. Besides, if this was anything like the last missions then we know there’s plants.
“Like… this bull, right, guys?” He noticed we were ignoring him, and looked a little confused. He smacked the brunette up the head, “You, what did you do to get in here?”
The brunette looked uninterested, “I threw a wasp nest at the Language Arts teacher.”
“See!?” He blurted, “They’re off riding us to our deaths over throwing wasp nests! What’s your name?”
“See, Warren! You just proved my point, A.R.G.U.S. is broken.”
A.R.G.U.S., of course, being the organization that forced delinquents like us to do their dirty work. Like little personal soldiers.
I sighed, “I broke Dallas Hoffman’s arm with a nickel and a penny.”
Chase Kemp smiled at this, “You were the one who broke his arm?”
He snickered, “Nice.”
“Embezzlement,” Said the girl.
We looked out the window, finding a warehouse with yellow light shining through the windows.
“Alright, juvies, we’re here,” said the bus rider.
“Yeah, love you too, baby!” Jean Jacket taunted.
As we got up and out of the bus, Chase and the girl grabbed a ladder that was lodged between the windows and the seats themselves.
We walked through the corn fields, our leader (the senior) sighed. “Okay, look, if we’re going in there we might as well know each other’s names. I’m Shawn Allen.”
“I knew a Shawn,” Jean Jacket butts in, “He was a @$%@%, anyways, I’m Jonah Macline. Origami Deadpool, hi, hello.”
“Metis Asato,” I added.
“Chase Kemp,” said Kravpen, confirming my suspicions.
“Ain’t no way, that’s the kid who died,” Shawn muttered under his breath.
“Ezra Cronin,” the grown man said.
“Warren Peace,” said the guy who threw a wasp nest at a teacher.
“Brianna Wheatskins,” the cheerleader perked up, “Present and accounted for.”
“Alright,” Shawn nodded, “Metis, Chase, Jonah, and Brie go take the ladder and wait up in the rafters. Ezra, Chameleon, you’ll be me and Warren’s ticket in. Ready? Break.”
Origami Deadpool, The Rafters, and The Darkhold
By Jonah “Origami Deadpool” Macline
Jonah Macline: A name that strikes fear across the country. No, really! Middle School, I went to Caesar Middle School and paraded around with a little Origami Mercury. I was a god! People looked up to me, no, people feared me! Then, without any warning, the cops caught up with my parents and we made it for Grand Rapids Michigan. Spent a year there with one of my brothers as Cuphead, made a solid name for myself and then BAM! We move us across the country over to Jutefruce, California, land of the Jute, home of the Fruce. For about a year, I attended Ward Middle and got a little too deep on their whole origami thing, serving my time as their Bugs Bunny type guy. Things were easy in Ward, nice, simple, the halls were color coded. Color coded! It was so… easy.
And then… the worst thing that ever happened to me… happened?
High School! Yeah, that’s right, High School. High School was a nightmare for me. All these new rules, all these regulations, how, oh how, dear reader, could I get my kicks in? Who knows! I spent a week hanging with this kid, Ronald, the two of us double teaming Lampert Academy as King Shark and the Trickster when, oh, apparently we’re ‘disrupting the learning environment.’
Horse @$%@. We’re just little guys trying to have fun, that’s all. When, once again, my parents told me and my seven siblings, sixteen cats, dead snake, and uncle that we need to leave, and fast, I was ecstatic! Maybe then I wouldn’t have to deal with pesky teachers getting in the way of my mischief. Oh, I could hardly contain my joy! The new friends, the new enemies! Man, it was exciting.
Only one problem. My stupid siblings. We all went to the cheapest public school imaginable, Wheeler Academy, and after the cool one died of a blood infection last Spring I decided I had enough! Once I finally had enough (a good portion of it stolen, most of it from working at Waffle House) I decided to transfer over to Claremont Academy, which is where my story begins.
When the 11:00 bell rings I started eyeing the cafeteria for potential friends, settling across to skinny little white boys with receding hair lines. A mistake that most new kids make is asking the “Is this seat taken?” question.
For me, I just yell “Kaboosh!” and slam my backpack onto the seat, “Sup, y’all.”
One of the kids nodded at me, going back to his Pokemon cards.
I snapped, “You gonna say hi back?”
“Hey, I… Guess.” The other kid said.
Oh, absolutely not!
“Tell me about yourselves,” I said, “Really get into your nitty gritties. I saw there were some X-Men guys going around, are you-” They got up and walked off, origami versions of Warlock and Pixie in their back pockets.
As they walked off, someone grabbed origami Warlock’s shoulder, “Mr. Collins,” he said, “You know what you did. If you wanna die, then keep doing what you’re doing. Okay, byeee.”
Warlock lowered his shoulders as Pixie asked what that was about.
I leaned over to some random kid at another table, “Who’s that?” I asked, pointing.
“That’s Tyler Leifeld.”
“What’s his deal?”
“He runs this school, pretty much.”
I nodded, “He got a puppet?”
I pumped my fist into my hand, “Great.”
Before I got up, I slid my number over to the girl, winking.
“TYLER LEIFELD!” I shouted.
The entire cafeteria, including Tyler, looked at me.
“What’s goin on, man?” I asked.
“And just… who are you?” Tyler asked.
I nodded, “I’m your brain, we- we haven’t spoken in a while.”
He stared at me.
“Wait, no, I need to slow that down a bit. I’MMMMMMM. YOURRRRRR.”
He punched me in the stomach, sending me flying a foot back. I looked at the teachers, “Are you- Are you gonna do something about this guy?” I asked.
They looked at me, and then looked back. Jesus. What was I getting myself mixed up in.
As he returned to his seat, I ran up to him and kicked him in the head.
“Oh?” He said, turning around, “So you’re asking for it?”
When he punched me again, I ducked, running past him and jamming my thumb into his leg. He hunched over in pain, and while he was down I slammed his face into my knee. He was out cold.
I picked up his puppet and put it on my finger, “ALRIGHT, LISTEN UP! Here’s how things are about to be, my name is Jonah Macline, and I, and I alone now, will be your new Origami Deadpool! Yeah, that’s right. I like my shoes shined every morning, coffee hot. Stay out of my way, y’all, I take large steps and I don’t want any one of you peeing on these here boots! And whatever you do… don’t look me in the eye, because-”
I got kicked out. And that’s when my parents finally decided they had enough of me and sent me off to Ostrander. I knew all about A.R.G.U.S. because, well, I was part of Susan Snyder’s last little bundle of delinquents before she moved here. In fact, I was awfully disappointed when another teacher brought this team together and swore up and down that Susan Snyder, Oliva Oldman, and Bethany Belfast didn’t exist. That’s a common tactic these teachers always use, pretending they’re weaker and smaller than they actually are.
I explained all of this to Metis, Chase, and Brie who were all younger than me by a few years. Unfortunately, they seemed all too familiar.
“Yup,” Brie sighed, “Y’know, before I came down here I always heard whispers about the Thunderfolds.”
“In Jutefruce they were the The Shredder Squad,” I nodded, “I was on there… The Trickster.”
“Like from the Flash?”
“Y’know, in Athens they were called the Argonauts.” Chase Kemp added. There was something broken about Chase Kemp, something haunting about his eyes.
“Really?” Metis asked.
The light flashed on, and we all hushed each other. We saw The Maggia, that being the New York division of the Council of Owls, There’s people from all sides of Madison County here, every side of the Madison underworld on full display here.
Chase’s glossy eyes met mine.
From the rafters, I could see Ezra, Shawn, Warren, but… I couldn’t see The Chameleon.
The Maggia- Dane Jackson, Ximena Cunningham, Angela Emily, Kenzie Luna, Karl Blonsky Jr., Guillermo Valenzeula, and Tom Run- all talked amongst themselves for Dane Jackson hushed the room.
“Good morning, gentlemen, I’ve called this meeting to discuss recent information. One of our hunters has escaped, and Sebastian Merrick, the Spider-Fold, has escaped with evidence of our existence.”
Kenze Luna snorted, “Jackson, be straight with yourself. You brought him in there. Now look at what happened.”
The group breaks out into whispers, and I could tell that whoever Dane Jackson was, he didn’t have much credibility.
“Silence!” Dane Jackson said, pounding his fist onto the table, “Alright, listen here. I know that at the moment… most of you don’t trust me. But that’s about to change. Because I’m going to find it. The Darkhold.”
The room hushed.
“Yeah, that shuts you up, doesn’t it? We’ll finally get the diary of Karl Blonsky… and we’ll learn about just why the Council of Owls exists. And from there we’ll be able to take them over. The New York division, small but mighty, ruling the Council and… well, the country. That’s why I’m holding this meeting… as a power play. Join me, or… be forgotten to history.”
“Only one problem,” said Angela Emily, “How do you plan on getting the Darkhold?”
Dane grinned a sickly grin, though from up above you could see his leg bouncing up and down nervously. From the shadows stepped… Duncan Anderson!
The Maggia looked at each other nervously… The Doctorigami Strange himself? Had he gone bad?
Suddenly, Duncan took off his hair, his face mask, and sunglasses, and beneath it The Chameleon in a Council of Owls mask. #$%@ing traitor.
“Jesus…” Ximena Cunningham, Athena, muttered to herself, “You looked just like him!”
Dane nodded, “The Chameleon here will be the one who gets the Darkhold, and it will make me the-”
The door swung open, and everyone’s jaws dropped.
“…of crime.” Jackson finished his sentence.
The man who had opened the door stepped from the shadows. He towered over Dane like a giant, and he was framed like one too. “Good morning, Jackson,” he said.
I could see the people in the rafters around me, Metis, Chase, Brie, freak the hell out and I could see Shawn, Warren, and Ezra do the same. And with good reason, too…
Because anyone could recognize the Kingpen of origami when you see him.
The Kingpen, The Agent, and the Double Agent
By Shawn “Yellowjacket” Allen
@#@% No, No, NO, $%#%, this was NOT the plan, Chamey, NO! Silently, I made a note to expel him. This couldn’t be the end- could it? We were #$#$ed.
“Chameleon, how much is Dane Jackson paying you?” Fako asked.
“I’ll triple it,” Fako said, “As for the rest of you… we can’t be forgetting who the real leader of the Council of Owls is. Offer your allegiance to me and your name will be revered- and with the added bonus of not being thrown off a three story building,” the #$%@$ said.
“No, no, you can’t- you can’t do this to me!” Dane sputtered, “I- I’ve ran the Madison Council since my parents died! It’s my birthright, god@@%%it!”
Fako clicked his teeth, “It’s not personal, Mr. Jackson. It’s just all a game of chess, and sometimes you have to sacrifice a few pawns. So, the question is… who wants to be a bishop?”
“I’m with Dane,” Kenzie Luna, the Moonfold, kicked back.
“Yeah, same here, manm” said Guillermo.
“Me too,” Angela said, “Ximena, you’re coming with me, right?”
Ximena said nothing.
The Chameleon nodded.
“Is that everyone?” Fako asked. The silence continued. “Karl? Ximena? Tom? You… new people…”
“Yeah, sorry,” Tom said, “I’m with Dane on this one.”
Fako looked offended, “So be it! Off with you all, ladies, gentlemen, you’re coming with me.”
“Oh, but not so fast, Fako!” Mr. Jackson called, “Because I’ve got a hunter of my own!”
Fako raised an eyebrow as Dane slammed a brief case onto the table, and he opened it up to find… an Origami Venom.
Ezra’s Origami Venom. Oh no, not cool. I had to pin Ezra’s foot beneath my boot to stop the man who was frothing at the mouth to get his puppet back. Dane handed the puppet to Tom Run, and knighted him with his hands, “Welcome back the S.S. Jackson, Mr. Run.”
Fako scoffed, though I could see he too was terrified. Before Fako’s group could leave, Chameleon whispered something in Fako’s ear and I silently cursed, no, no, ain’t no way… Not again.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
Fako clapped his hands, “Would you lookie here, it turns out that our new members aren’t… who they say are. I knew that, of course. Ezra Cronin? Warren Peace? Shawn… Allen? I’ve been expecting a visit for a long, long, time…”
Ezra threw the first punch, directly at Tom Run who effortlessly slammed Ezra onto the ground. The three of us were hopelessly outnumbered against the Maggia it taking the combined effort of Warren and I to bodyslam Mrs. Emily, “Die! Die! Die! Stupid old woman, die!”
But the battle continued, and eventually the odds seem to take over.
Suddenly, the room was engulfed in light. Or… no, not light. Glitter.
The cavalry had arrived from the rafters, Jonah with his Origami Deadpool, Metis with her Origameye, Chase with Kravpen, The Hunter and Brianna with… Origami Dazzler! She threw glitter bomb after glitter bomb, Metis plucking eyes out with nickels, and eventually… we had distracted them long enough to scatter out into the corn field.
Eventually, I caught up with Chase and Metis and we were able to see the light of the bus up ahead. Chase and Metis, bless their hearts, were flipping their lids about the fight they had just gotten onto. But what broke me was how… accustomed they were. Unsurprised. It was their first mission on the Thunderfolds, Argonauts, Shredder Squad, whatever… but it wasn’t either of their first time being forced into a new world.
I guess I knew a thing or two about ruined childhoods too. I guess we all did.
My deep thoughts were interrupted by seeing Tom Run hunched over and vomiting over the field. I remembered him mentioning a stomach ache sometime during the meeting, and I especially remembered Chase punching him in the stomach. I felt almost bad for him, in a way.
Chase sighed, “Hey, you okay, man?” He reached a hand out to him, but Metis flicked it away. Tom was on the Council of Owls. He was a villain. But Chase didn’t look at him like one, “Guys, this is- This is Tom Run. Him and I were talons together. Tom, do you remember me, Tom?”
“You don’t exist,” Tom said.
“Chase Kemp does not exist,” Tom Run repeated, like a robot.
“He needs our help,” Chase insisted, “Okay?”
We brought him onto the bus as the sun was rising, the rest of the team staring at us with frustrated eyes.
“Okay, before y’all say anything,” Shawn said, “We lost The Chameleon… so… we got someone else on our team! Everyone, meet Agent OrigVenom!”
They clapped, sarcastically.
“So,” I jumped up on a seat, recap. “The Maggia is having a power struggle between current Council of Owls leader, Fako Mustachio and head of the New York division. They’re both going after something called the Darkfold, and using the Chameleon, who we’ve expelled, will steal the Darkfold under the guise of Doctorigami Strange.”
“And we have Tom,” Brianna added.
“And we have Tom.” I added.
“I say we split up, make sure neither team gets it. Maybe one team ought to find the real Duncan Anderson… let him know?”
“That’s smart,” Jonah said, “Okay, one team needs to look for Duncan. And maybe we should station another team at Wheeler? Leave them to look around for the ding dang thang.”
“Okay,” I said, “Tom, Jonah, and Brie,” they all perked up, “You guys are going with me to Duncan’s. Chase, Metis, Warren, and Ezra, I’m stationing you lot out in Wheeler, sound like a plan?”
Exhausted and already out of breath, the team nodded.
Gaea The Power Broker, and the Strange Thing That Happened On The Way To Duncan Anderson’s
By Brianna “Origami Dazzler” Rhyles
We were in Shawn Allen’s car. Shawn’s car wasn’t good- like at all. The air conditioner was on full blast and couldn’t be turned off, the radio was stuck playing Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne on loop, and the air freshner didn’t stand a chance against the pot in the glove compartment.
What should’ve been an easy trip became difficult for two reasons: The Power Broker and Angela Emily. We were headed to the Power Broker’s house, the Power Broker being the guy who had Duncan’s address as well as pretty much everybody in Wheeler Academy’s. That was a bit of a detour, but that wasn’t the main issue.
Shawn stopped for gas, leaving me, Tom, and Jonah alone in a car. “Wanna do something fun?” I asked.
Jonah nodded, “Hell yeah, man.”
“Okay, okay,” I said, I pointed at a crowd of people across the street, in the parking lot of Madison Central- the local hospital, “Why don’t we check out what they’re doin?”
“Shawn’s gonna come back and yell at us,” Jonah said.
“Eh, I’ve done worse for less,” Jonah said, getting out of the car, the two of us crossing the street together.
“So, tell me about yourself!” I perked.
“Wait, are you… genuinely interested in hanging out!”
“Yeah,” I smiled, “I mean, for the merc with a mouth, you’re awfully quiet.”
“I never really know what to say,” he said, “I’m mostly merc. You should see some of the shenanigans I get mixed up in.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! You’re a troublemaker?”
He blushed, “Yeah!”
“What’s your best trick?”
“Oh, you’re not gonna believe this one. One time I was hanging out with my boy, Smedley, and we decided, ‘Hey. Wouldn’t it be cool if we went to the same school?’ and he was like nah, get out of town. So me and my other friend, Ronnie, dunked this other kid, Johnathon in the pool until he passed out. When lunch came the three of us went to Arby’s, and you’re not gonna believe this: We gave him his clothes.”
“And it worked. Best part was the kid was only a freshmen, he was just so uptight, dude. It almost got annoying.”
I smiled, he was cute. But there was no time for flirting in the Thunderfolds, We had joined the crowd and at the center of it was… Angela Emily. What had we gotten ourselves into?”
Angela Emily, alongside a thirty something year old man who acted like her husband. Ew.
As we approached the crowd, I bumped into a stranger, “Hoot Hoot,” I whispered.
He looked at me, his eyes widening.
“What do you know about the Darkhold?” I asked him.
He looked frightened and walked away.
I followed him, “Sir! Sir! Come back!” He ran into a car and slammed the door shut, locking them. It was then that he realized I stole his keys.
“Sir, I’m going to ask you this one more time, what do you know about the Darkhold?”
He shook his head.
I slammed my heel onto the hood of his car, “No, please, I don’t know anything! I don’t know anything!”
I threw a glitter bomb at his window.
I threw another glitter bomb. I walked over to his door, telling him to roll the window down. He complied. I then threw another glitter bomb inside of his car.
“Okay, now that I got your attention. Clearly, the Maggia scares you. Why?”
“I work for one of their members, alright!? Ximena Cunningham, Black Kirigami- like the Black King. She’s- she’s sending us here because Angela’s running a charity event to get into the people’s good graces, we- we need them to see what she’s planning, please! I’m just an operative!”
“I’ll take it. For the case file, name? Puppet?”
“Am I gonna go to jail?”
“Probably. Not like you have much of a choice here either way.”
“William! William Raisey! Gray Gargoyle!”
“Thank you, you can go home now. But your days are numbered.”
When I returned to the charity event, Angela handing out T-Shirts, I noticed something. Jonah was #$@%ing gone.
Bullseye, The Family Meeting, and The New OrigAvengers
By Chase “KravPen, The Hunter” Kemp
Hi. I don’t know if this chapter is going in the case file because I’m really only writing it for myself, but because this is probably the best account of what happened today, it might just have to be made public. Which I don’t like.
But I digress.
I’ve grown quite fond of Metis Asato. She seems to have the same grudge against Wheeler Academy that I do, and as she led me through Wheeler Academy she was able to show a scab like myself compassion and grace. I really do feel sorry for all the people I hurt. Especially because I remember every single one of them…
That was a tangent. I’m sorry.
Anyways, Metis lead me through Wheeler and I have to say- I wasn’t all that impressed. I mean, it was surely better than the conditions at the camp– and then the abandoned Caesar. But having spent most of my life in Caesar at it’s peak, a public school was naturally a downgrade. Though it did remind me an awful lot of Athens Middle School, the short time I went there being a period of agony and frustration.
Still, she showed me every hall of the place. Out of nowhere, there was a tap on my shoulder. I spun around only to find: My old friend, Sebastian Merrick!
He stepped back, “Easy there, excelsior!” Sebastian knew of my mission, and he knew of what I was assigned to do. Though he didn’t know the schematics of it all, he was very clearly looking for an update. I could read him that much.
“Who’s your friend?” He asked.
“This is Metis Asato. Origameye.”
She held up her Origami Bullseye, nodding at Sebastian.
Sebastian broke into a smile, hugging Metis, “A friend of Chase’s is a friend of mine, c’mon.”
“I fought you before.” Metis said.
“That you did!” Sebastian said.
Sebastian lead the two of us into a library and sat us down next to Dallas, and two volunteer workers- one I recognized, the other I didn’t.
“Hey, guys, we got two new kids,” Sebastian said.
“Why is she here?” I asked Sebastian.
“Chase, I know- I get it. She killed you. But it was an accident and Kaitlyn has really gotten better.”
The other girl, who was significantly older, choked on her coffee. “She what?”
Sebastian gestured at the two girls while I was seeing red, “Chase, Metis- this is Ally Weeber and Kaitlyn Emily. Ally, here, has been tutoring Kaitlyn. Helping her manage her anger. I thought I’d bring you in to… I don’t know, get you some closure?”
Kaitlyn nodded, “When I heard you were alive, I- I cried. I wanted to meet you so bad, see for myself.”
I didn’t think. I couldn’t think.
“Chase, I- I dreamt about you, dude. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think about killing you.”
I nodded, “There wasn’t a day that went by I didn’t think about killing you either.” I sat down, flexing my now muscular arm on the desk, “Alright, listen here, you can have whatever puppet you want- ooh, let me guess. She-Hulk. But that won’t change the fact that I spent two miserable years being tortured by a man in an owl mask. And it never will.”
“I burned down OrigOlympus.” Kaitlyn said.
“OrigOlympus… it’s gone.”
Sebastian put his arm on Kaitlyn’s shoulder, “And it’s because of Kaitlyn. And because of you.” He smiled, “Kaitlyn’s a good person, deep down. And even if that doesn’t change a thing… she’s your family.”
“I don’t forgive you,” I said, “But… I’ll give you a chance. Apology accepted.”
Suddenly, the intercom switched to life: “Students and teachers, we’ll be having our family meeting now. Please bring all of your students to the gymnasium.”
The gym was loud. The training I went through as KravPen desensitized me to their faces- all of their faces. And after the situation with Kaitlyn, I decided to try my best to sit alone and not talk to anybody, the Kaitlyn encounter being too much for me.
The principal of Wheeler, who’s name I didn’t catch, stood before the school. She went over the dress code a bunch, but eventually got to her bit on student affairs. That’s when I perked up.
“Students of Wheeler Academy, you may know that your current student body president has been absent the last two months. And so it’s with a hefty heart that we are officially unenrolling Dane Jackson from our student body. However, Dane Jackson had left a letter upon his disappearance stating his pick for your new student body president. So, without further ado, everyone give it up for…”
“Oh my god,” Metis appeared beside me, dumbfounded, “He thought of everything.”
Guillermo’s eyes were bright and his smile was infectious as he danced down the bleacher stairs and onto the podium. “Yeah! Guillermo!” He shouted.
A group of his swim mates chanted so viciously they sounded like lions, “Guillermo! Guillermo! Guillermo! Guillermo!”
“Isn’t he like… twenty?” Metis asked.
I shrugged, “It’s a comic book. People don’t age. As far as they know Guillermo’s been held back.”
“Eddie Munson looking.” Metis said in a joke-y type of tone.
“Who?” I asked. I had been away for quite a while.
“For far too long, origami has been a dormant artform at Wheeler Academy. Well, no longer will that be the case! As your class president, I’ll be instilling a new OrigAvengers club. No, better yet… I already have your members!”
“But- But there was already an OrigAvengers…” Metis began.
Six people stepped onto the stage: A blonde boy with hair that went down to his shoulders, about six foot. He had the beginnings of a beard. Though being buff, his shoulders were broad making it easy to go for his kidneys. I noticed on his shirt that there was a gym logo, meaning that it would be easy to catch him at the gym. In a muscle shirt. Kidneys exposed. Guillermo announced him as Charlie Jones, though I could tell that was a fake name.
The next girl was a grown woman, that much I knew. She wore a red business suit and carried a brief case. I could tell that beneath her suit, she too was muscular. The way she stood spoke of intelligence and power- and it was then that I realized I recognized her from the Maggia meeting: her name was Kenzie Luna.
Up next was… a target. A former target who I was unable to get to: Jesse Bennet. Striked for searching blocked term “Girls kissing.” Oh, how the mighty have fallen. But I digress. She garnered attention for her archery skills, and plays into that. It didn’t matter whether I took away her archery skills or her popularity- I just needed to take away one for the other to crash and burn.
And the last two were complete blanks. No, I mean it. Complete blanks. Not like I could think of any if I tried. Why? Well, because my ears were too busy ringing after Guillermo announced that Flynn Macintosh and Sebastian Merrick were working together.
The Future of Wheeler Academy
By Tyler “U.S. Agent” Spencer
The Football team cheers for me, my name breaking out among the students. I’m not just a hero, I’m the hero. I’m U.S. Agent, which pretty much makes me the closest thing they have to a Captain Americrease. The possibilities that this job brings me? Endless.
I grabbed the mic out of Guillermo’s hands, “Hey, all, Tyler here.”
“LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO!” Randall Stuart shouts, “TYLER!”
“That’s me!” I said, pointing at him.
Part Three: Highly Illogical
Just When I Thought I Was Out…
By Ronald “King Crease” Lamden
I look at the ceiling of my cell, holding the little ball they let me keep in here. This has been my room for a while now. Ever since I was taken out of high school and my parents decided they were disappointed in me. But… I’m coming home today.
Sitting next to me is a bag full of clothes and personal drawings and items. Everything that was important to me, which was not a lot. They’ve been using Ostrander as their place of operation for forever, and I’ve been their guinea pig for most of it. I hate Susan Snyder. I hate Jutefruce.
Most of all, though? I hate the puppets.
But… I’m putting that all behind me. I’ll get to go home today, and I’ll finally be a normal kid. I’ll finish out grade school, go to high school, leave my crappy family in the dust—
That’s what I thought. I got so excited as I heard the knocks on the door. I smiled, the excitement jittering through me. Who would it be? Dad? Mom? One of the guards to lead me to the exit?
“Coming!” I said. But the person didn’t want me to open the door. They did.
It was her again. It was always her. They never came to visit, but Ms. Snyder did. And when Ms. Snyder comes to visit, it means a mission.
“No,” I said, “I’m done. That last mission was my last. Ms. Snyder, you can’t—”
“Ronald, it’s just one more job.”
“Susan, please, I just want to go home —-”
“You’ll refer to me as Ms. Snyder. I told you that the first time we met. I promise you, Ronald, that this will be your last mission. After that, you’re done. You’ll get to go home.” She held out her pinky to me, and I looked at it. It was so… kiddy. So child-like. A pinky swear? But… I guess a pinky swear was better than nothing. I wrapped my pinky around hers.
“Come out to the courtyard whenever you’re ready, okay?”
“I have to go get the others, I’ll meet you there.” She closed the door behind her, and I sat at the edge of the bed, looking at the bag on the floor.
I breathed a long breath. I needed to keep my cool. I left my bag there, sitting on the floor of my room.
Walking out onto the courtyard of Ostrander, plenty of children of various ages and sizes wandered the grounds, throwing around their basketballs and playing board games like Chess and Catan.
I hope that this is the last time I will look at this field, look at these people. I’ve been stuck here like a dog when I should be free to swim my own wave, like a shark.
Then… I saw him.
Shaun Snyder stood on the courtyard, bouncing a ball alone. He looked up at me, and the madman waved.
It made my blood boil. While a lot of the blame goes to Jonathan Yen and Susan Snyder… it was him that put me into greater messes, made me do things I didn’t want to do. It was… It has always been… Shaun.
I don’t know how long he has been here. I didn’t even know he was here, and I didn’t particularly care why he was. Point is, he was here, right now.
“Hey, Ronald. Didn’t know you were here—” He started. I threw a punch right into his annoying face. He landed on his back, staring at me, looking at the sky overhead in the courtyard. But I casted that shadow down upon him.
I really lost control of myself. One minute, I was there, the next minute I was sitting on the bleachers, surrounded by other students that were forced to be on Task Force ShreX, just like me. And I hated it. My knuckles were bruised.
And, as if the day couldn’t get any worse…
Alec Baldwin sat next to me. They put the poor sap back on this team again.
This. Will. Be. My. Last. Mission.
By Jude “Ł()K!” Decassius
My morning kicked off with Leonard Broderick slapping me on the bum. I don’t know why he slapped me on the bum, or what compelled him too, but the moment we got out of Alan Wade’s van and wished us a “Good luck, boys!” as he did it.
“BatFold’s Big Bodacious Besties,” (name assembled by Smedley Maroni) was a pipe dream created by Alan Wade to take down the one thing that still haunted him- The Court of Origami Owls. Personally, I understood his fears. Having spent the last two years of my life teaching at the Athens-Carter Institute, I knew a thing or two about the Court, and they scared the life out of me.
We moved into Ostrander, hooping and hollering the sleep out of my mind, the lot of us swiping our entry cards at the gate. It was me and Nard from Wheeler, and Richy, Smedley, and Graham Stuart from Jutefruce, though I never got to meet Graham because he stayed back in Cali. Me and Nard had been buddies for a while, but Richy and Smedley, on the other hand… Richy beat up Smedley two years ago for getting relish on his jorts.
“THE THUNDORIGAMIBOLTS ARE HERE!” Nard pounds on his chest as he shoves open the
double doors. Staring at us, Susan Snyder and six of the saddest looking kids I’ve ever seen.
“We are not called that,” Richy said.
“Oh, c’mon my Hellfire Hoodie! Have a half-pint of horseplay, will you?”
Smedley reached his arm around Richy’s shoulder, but Richy blocked him, “Smedley, I have spent the last seven hours in a van with you, and I’ve spent six of those planning your murder.”
I smacked Richy and Smedley both on the stomach, “Boys, you’re making a scene.”
I flung my arms outward, “Ms. Snyder, is it? Hi, hello,” I took a seat on the bleacher closest to her, offering her a handshake, “Jude Decassius, at your service, madam.”
She looked at my hand as if I had offered her a steaming, half-boiled Throg.
Susan looked around, “I assume all of you know why you’re here by now, four of you are members of the-”
“Thundorigamibolts.” Nard said.
“No, we’re not.” Richy said.
“Which means that any one of you can go home at any time, understood? The ten of you were handpicked by me- no one else at A.R.G.U.S. knows who’s on here. That’s why you’ll all be wearing masks on the bus, handcrafted by the Chameleon.”
“You mean Lucy Genesis?” Nard asked.
“That’s his name?” A kid in a jean jacket blurted out.
“She,” Jonah corrected, “She.”
Jean jacket looked around frantically, “Oh- Oh I’m so sorry, that- that was a woman?”
Mrs Snyder coughed, “Hello? I’m- I’m here.”
“Susan,” Jean jacket cackled, “I think we’ve all accepted we’re not going home at this point. Who–Who cares, man?” A twelve year old looking kid turned around and bumped fists with him.
“Jonah, this one is serious.”
“You say that about every mission, #$*(#@.”
“WHOAH!” A girl shouted, “Language…”
“Everyone, shut the #$#% up.” Susan said, “Or none of you are going to see your families again.”
“Are you-” I began.
“Yes.” She said. “You all know why you you’re here: You’re Task Force ShreX. You do the dirty work we’re too clean to do, and today marks… all of your final missions. You’re going home.”
The tired few in the seats perked up, excited at the chances of going home, “Not only that, but we’re extinguishing your criminal records, and instead of your parents- we’ll be contacting people of your choice.” More people, the kids who smelled of terrible homes, stood up straight, “Yeah? That pique your interest?” Susan smiled, “Your mission: We’re sending you off to Roddenberry Academy, it’s in Boston. Roddenberry, known for it’s love of Star Trek, is the home of the organization, The Council of Owls. The Council of Owls, more publicly known as EduFun Incorporated, has been a puppeteer of events across the nation, including here, in A.R.G.U.S. That’s part of why this mission is so secretive- yet so important. If you fail, you won’t be expelled, you won’t have your sentence extended– on this mission, failure means death. Not just ours, but thousands. Is this understood?” All of us nodded.
“At Roddenberry, you’ll have two missions. Snapping photos of members of the Council of Owls, there’s roughly three hundred members at least in attendance. If you can’t provide photos, then find another form of physical evidence. Your second mission? You will be finding two members who have gone missing, codenames: Kevin Foldlevin and Mojo Foldo. Kevin and Mojo were on a team with two of your current teammates, and they hold valuable information on both sides that is invaluable. Is this understood?”
All of us nodded.
“Now, typically, I would give a brief description of all of you and then send you on your ways… but for this mission, I think it’s important that you have each other’s backs. We’ll be going around the room, introducing ourselves, our puppets, and how we ended up in Ostrander. Starting with–” she pointed at Richy Wickinni “You.”
Richy stood up, pulling up his loose red hoodie to show off the pockets of his camo pants, a hunting knife strapped to his leg. The 5’2 boy blew his long, thin hair out of his face. “Hey, uh, hey. I’m Richy Wickinni, my puppet is The Red Hoodie. I’m from Jutefruce, California-”
Jean jacket flicked his collar, “Represent!” He shouted.
“And when I was an eighth grader, my Father died. My friends abandoned me. I joined forces with Alan Wade- and he betrayed me. Then he disappeared. I was then quickly beaten inches from death by a gang of kids in clown masks. Fear, but more importantly anger, and bloodlust fuel my every action. I am darkness, but more importantly I am vengeance. I am the Red Hoodie.”
The room was silent, followed by jean jacket raising his hand, “Hi, Jonah here, Richy, I have a
question. Why- Why is your hoodie black?”
“You’re the Red Hoodie. It’s literally in your name, Richy.”
“You’re the Red Hoodie.”
“Jonah,” Ms. Snyder said, “Would you like to go?”
Jonah jumped up, “As a matter of fact, I would! Hi, hello, Jonah Macline here, the Pleaster. Based on the Trickster, like from DC Comics. And I do little tricks because… it’s fun. I like doing little tricks.
“Don’t we all, man!” Nard cackled in my ear, “DON’T WE ALL!”
“Nard, darling, we’re inside,” I said, “Use your inside voice.”
Nard snorted. “Huh?”
I hung my head down.
“Ronald Lamden,” Ms. Snyder said.
Ronald stood up. The kid was noticeably twelve, but he was buff- I mean, like, Dove levels of built.
He reminded me a lot of Dover McLean, actually, same baby pudge, same smile wrinkles- all that. The only difference is that, despite being younger, Ronald lacked that hopeful spark that Dove had.
“H- Hi,” he said, “I’m Ronald Lamden- I’m… King Crease. I played Football until… I got bullied out of it. And then I played track until… same thing. And then… well. I got expelled and sent here,” he shrugged.
“Yeah.” Jonah said.
I looked around, at Nard, and Richy, and Smedley, and we all had the same guilty look on our faces.
We needed to get this kid home.
Ms. Snyder pointed at a ginger ‘person,’ “Hayden Macintosh.”
Hayden jumped up, putting on triangular sunglasses, flipping the hood off of his Wheeler Academy Varsity jacket and moonwalking backwards, “What’s up, dude dawgs! I’m Mickey Mash McHay, the Spectacularrrrrrrrrrr-”
“Hayden, please use your legal name for the transcription.”
“No. Everyone here, hey, call me Mickey Mash McHay, alright?” Everyone nodded in agreement of our new friend, Mickey Mash McHay, “My puppet is the Scarlet Spider, my big man, Papa Merman-”
“You mean Sebastian Merrick?” Ms. Snyder asked.
“No, Papa Merman. He sent me and my brother from another Mother, Chay Chay.”
“You mean Chase Kemp?” Ms. Snyder prompted.
“You mean to tell me Papa Chay Chay blew his cover? Me, personally, I would not take that type of disrespect. Anyways, I’m the Origami Scarlet Spider- I’ve came here to finish what Sebastian Merrick started, and take down EduFun and the Council of Owls once and for all.”
Susan nodded, “Next.”
“Smedley Maroni, cool as ice, make no sacrifice.”
“That’s a song lyric,” I pointed out.
Smedley looked defeated, “I- Listen, do you really want every sentence I say to be perfect poetry?” We all looked around at each other, stunned, “Dude, I’m a human. I think thoughts, do you think I’m attracted to mustard… like, physically?”
“No, I mean, I-”
“I’m a @$%#ing human, alright? I have a fiance, her name is Thalia, #$@% you, #$%# all of y-” Smedley blinked, “-Gami! Known for my exciting escapades- expeditions through uncharted lands and letdowns of legions of losers!”
The sadness returned to Smedly Maroni’s eyes.
“Alec Baldwin,” Susan said.
Up jumped a nine year old boy in a suit, tufts of blonde hair on his head, “Good morning gentlemen, lady, I am the Origami Boss Baby, and my name is Alec Baldwin-”
“Is that your r-” Jonah began.
“I know 131 methods of murder and have caused the expulsions of two villains alongside my older brother, Origami Tim Templeton.”
“What’s Origami Tim Templeton’s name?” The girl asked, dumbfounded as I was about this specimen.
“Tyler, his name was Tyler. Did you think his name would be Miles Bakshi?”
“I mean… I did.” Said Jonah.
“Y- Yeah, so did I at first,” chirped Ronald, his voice an octave higher than the boy he towered over like a Father.
“Nard, it’s- it’s just Nard. Nard Broderick, I’m the Penisher. It’s what I do, I penish. I’ve been here since OrigMoses parted the Red Sea,” the girl chuckled at this, blushing… I did, too, “I’m here for personal reasons, let’s just say that The Council of Owls has… #$%@ed me over one too many times.”
“Jude Decassius.” All eyes turned to me.
“Hi, I’m Jude Decassius. My puppet is Loki, I spent a month here in 2019 after hacking into a school’s
grades to spark a war between it and another school, and then in 2021 I got a job as a counselor at the AthensCarter Institute in New York, helping take down the origami gods there and sparking a new generation of
Norse OriGods in their wake.”
Everyone stared at me, again, in stunned silence. “What?” I asked.
“That’s… pretty $%#%in awesome,” Hayden said.
“Yeah, man. You’re pretty cool,” Jonah said, reaching over and clapping me on the shoulder.
“Finally, Lawrence Murdock here,” Susan walked over, clapping her hands over the girl’s shoulders.
Lawrence jumped in panic, “Lawrence here is from Roddenberry, Lawrence, what’s your puppet, dear?”
Lawrence clicked her feet on the floor, popping an air bubble in her mouth, “Oh, uh… God.”
A Tour From The Almighty Above
By Lawrence “Origami” Murdock
“This is a wonderful school,” I said, advertising Roddenberry to its full extent. I used to be a tour guide for prospective students, the boarding school’s facilities were made to prepare you for College, for adulthood. This was my home. These lands were mine, and I knew them like one would know the back of one’s hand, just like how you could remember your childhood room down to its most minute detail. “We have plenty of facilities, wonderful teachers, and wonderful living spaces.”
“Okay.” Jude Decasius said, “But… that doesn’t really matter. We’re looking for the Council of Origami Owls.”
“I know.” I said, “And I’m pretty confident I know where they are.”
“So, what are you waiting for? Take us to them!” Nard exclaimed, cracking his knuckles. “We gotta show these dorks who’s boss.” I turned and looked at all of them. A majority of the students here were older. They were college aged or more. They weren’t facing anything dangerous like I was. More time in Ostrander would be worse than the licks of the tongues of a thousand flames.
“Your impatience is destroying the fabric of our bond.” I said.
“Bond? We’re a Shredder Squad. I think that’s the furthest thing from a bond.” Richy Wickinni said. I had read his stories a long time ago. The Red Hoodie. A member of the Batfold’s cohort. The stories I’ve heard — how that bond fell apart, but got pieced back so many times… it was beautiful.
“We must know each other.” I said, “Like I know you, Richy. I know about your whole narrative. I know about each and every minute detail because you — or someone — have shared it before. The boy was chosen to be the next Robinigami. Fallen, beaten, prone to violence. Helped take down Superintendent Tenebris. So, tell me: why are you here?”
“I’m helping you guys because I know this whole thing is horrible.” He looked at all the other college aged kids; Jude, Smedly, Nard, Ezra, “We all know it. A lot of you were put in here, and you have been unable to leave. We’re…”
“Forming a fantastic case to take down, destroy, demolish A.R.G.U.S. from the inside!” Smedly said, smiling, “I, the great Condiment Kirigami, A HERO!”
“What he said.” Nard said. “Though, I will say, I don’t know why Ezra hasn’t quite left the place. He’s old enough to.”
Ezra Cronin was the OrigVenom. A long time ago, however, the madman lost the puppet that spoke soothsaying words to he and his friends. Torn, destroyed, made into paper mache. OrigVenom was dead. He was in here because, frankly, that piece of him was missing. He’ll do anything to get it back now.
I’m Origami. I’m all-knowing.
“Let’s keep moving forward, okay?” The Origami Boss Baby, Alec Baldwin, asked. “My legs are hurting.”
The kind King Crease picked him up, putting the Origami Boss Baby on his shoulders. Ronald Lamden looked really, really angry to be there. I wasn’t sure why. His knuckles were a deep shade of purple. Listening to the Boss Baby’s instructions, we moved forward. Though, I, Origami, should not have had any need to listen to some stupid baby’s stupid instructions. I’m a man. I’m a god.
They refused to take in all the beauty of Roddenberry. They refused to LISTEN to the stories I had of the school. They wanted to take down A.R.G.U.S. and they want to rescue these people, but they aren’t WILLING to let me WORLD BUILD.
So, we went to the rotunda. The rotunda is a large gymnasium area of Roddenberry, where plenty of people in the Boston area congregate for conventions and other things. When I opened the door to the rotunda, we came face to face with a “National Star Trek Convention”, if you could even call it that.
People were dressed in, really, anything that began with “Star”. “A Star is Born”, people walking with guitars and singing horrible lyrics, “Star Wars”, the Darth Vaders and Luke Skywalkers, “Starship Troopers”, military-dressed men and women… it was everything but. I mean, I did see a few people wearing Star Trek outfits, holding their phaser guns and whatever, but for the school that literally built themselves on “Art Trek”, I was super duper embarrassed by this sad display.
Immediately, though, these people froze when a group of college aged and high school aged kids entered, along with a second grader. One of them walked up to us.
“Do you know what you’re doing here?” They asked Nard. The guy was wearing Princess Leia hair buns.
“Uh…” Nard started, looking at his team, “Hoot Hoot?”
“Oh.” Immediately, the guy understood the code. “Yeah, carry on, then. Those are some crappy cosplays, though. Did you guys not get the e-mail?”
Nard didn’t know how to respond. He looked at the guy’s name-tag, “Chuck”, and waved him off. “Come on, Chuck. We did. We woke up a bit too late for the occasion, though.”
“Alright. Well… we’ll be having the rewards ceremony soon, so… See you guys later!” He then walked away from us. Nard and Richy turned to the group after Chuck left.
“Okay, guys.” Nard said, “We need a plan.”
“Which is…?” Smedly asked.
“I don’t know. Richy, why don’t we talk about plans real fast?”
“Okay.” Richy and Nard stepped aside.
I’m Origami, I’m all knowing.
We are $&%*ed.
By Richy “Red Hoodie” Wickinni
I am doing Alan Wade’s last mission.
That’s what this is. This is his unsolved mystery, this is his into the unknown that he has refused to speak of. I understand why he asked me; if he was on this team, people would be giving him looks. Conrad can’t do it, he’s studying abroad in China. But I can. I’m the “trouble maker.” So, here I am. I didn’t really believe him and the rumors of the Court of Origami Owls, but to see that it’s… like, all pretty much true, it’s a surreal experience. Alan assembled his own little Shredder Squad, consisting of me, Smedly, Graham Stuart, who was in Jutefruce trying to hack into the mainframe to recover documents and stories from this squad. Apparently, according to Smedly, members are required to write or journal about what they’ve done so that it can be used against them. Well, Graham is getting a hold of everything so those documents can be used against A.R.G.U.S. and the court. Jude and Nard, students he had met while at Wheeler are also a part of the team. He never particularly cared to tell anyone the details of meeting those two, as he talks a lot more about his roommate Gar and other friend Kev. But… we’re the team that went undercover. Besides, what can these kids do? They all hate this thing as much as us, and we’ve left that bus long ago, so no one is watching us.
Alan told me to get as much information as I could on the Council of Owls. Capture faces, get names. So, we all have cameras on our persons, recording each and every step of the process so that he can comb through and make a case. He also told us to get the names of A.R.G.U.S. teachers, but… to be honest… I only know of one, Susan Snyder.
There’s probably so many more, but I only know of her. I got a picture of the bus driver, though. So maybe through one of those two people, we can figure out the whole group.
“Here’s what we know,” I started with Nard, “Two kids were kidnapped on a previous excursion to Rapids Middle School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After that, a separate squad visited New York and Claremont, to gather intel about this meeting, right here, right now. Thanks to you guys,” I said, “A.R.G.U.S. fell for the Thunderbolts schtick, and so we’re all in.”
“So, here’s what I’m thinking… we split into two groups, and we try to get information as much as we can, while one of us goes and rescues the… Kevin Foldlevin kid and the Mojo Foldo kid? Is that right?”
“Okay, that sounds good and all, but… like, who do you think should do what?”
“Well, I’ll take a group to go and rescue Mojo Foldo and Kevin. You just kind of gather information, try to act like you’re in the moment, y’know? Work with your team, and we’ll escape. We’ll meet outside this Rotunda, okay? As long as it doesn’t catch on fire or anything, we’ll meet,” he pointed outside, “Right over there. Sounds good?”
When we returned to the group and told them our plan, we split the group up into: Ezra Cronin, Alec Baldwin, Ronald Lamden, Me, and Lawrence Murdock. The rest, being Jude Decassius, Smedly Maroni, Nard Broderick, Jonah Macline, and Hayden Macintosh. Everyone felt pretty excited, as… Well, it seemed like we’d all be going home after this.
The Last Stand of the Green Goblin-Gami
By Hayden “Scarlet Spider” Macintosh
Nard, Jude, Smedly, Jonah, and I were all huddled together in a Spencer’s booth, hiding behind a rack of Rick and Morty t-shirts.
“What’s the plan?” Jonah asked.
Nard looked around, “Alright, who here is 18 or under?”
Me and Jonah raised our hands.
“Alright, got it, Jonah, you’re with Smedly. Hayden, you’re with Jude. You two know each other, right?” We nodded, vaguely.
“Alright, got it. Everyone, split up, times two. We’ll cover more ground that way. I’ll be going off on my own, I got my phone on me, I know you Ostrander kids aren’t allowed them but me and Jude got you, stay near your buddy, don’t get lost, if something happens call me.”
We all nodded.
“What are we looking for?”
Nard shrugged, “We’re going in blind, follow anyone who looks weird, I guess. Anyways, I think I saw a guy with an origami Owl… like, the one from Winnie Pooh, so I’m out. Good luck, may the force be with you.”
“It’s ‘Live long and prosper,’” I said, “Show some respect.”
I got really sad, and Jude put his hand on my shoulder.
And we were off. What can I say about Roddenberry? What can I not say about Roddenberry? It was every nerd boy’s dream, I wish I had parents who could take me there. Wait, no, scratch that. I wish Sebastian Merrick would take me there. That’s my Dad.
As we push past the panels, I notice… someone. His face is obscured, but his hair is long and orange like mine. I point at Jude, “Follow that guy.”
We awkwardly shuffle past Spocks and Chewwbaccas, trying to get to him, the whole time my eyes never leaving. He stops at some Employee’s Only area, whispering something into a guard’s ear. I cycle my memory through that guy’s memories, what’s important to him?
“Another Brick In The Wall,” I whisper into the guard’s ear. He lets us in.
The place is blaring with trashy music from some guy named “DJ Vibecheck,” and strobe lights flash around the place. Jude’s eyes dart around the room, before he puts his hand to his mouth, “I think I’m gonna be sick…” He says.
“I- I have epilepsy.”
“Man, what the #$#@. You- You go sit down, close your eyes. He nodded, taking a seat next to a woman who looked like she wanted his wallet. Jude put his head down, as she kissed his hands.
I took to a corner of the room, getting out my phone and calling Keana back at home.
“Hey, Hayden. How’s the mission going?”
“Fine, I mean, I mean, it’s fine. Flynn’s here?”
She spits out her drink, “WHO’S HERE?”
“#$#%ing what?” Another voice asks.
“Who’s there?” I ask.
“Uh, Sebastian Merrick. MJ’s in the bathroom, taking a leak, they’ve spent the last couple weeks here waiting on a word from you.”
“Tell Mom and Dad I said hi.”
“I don’t care,” said Sebastian, obviously caring.
“Okay, look, listen, guys- What do I do?”
“Kick his @#$.” Keana said.
“No, don’t. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Didn’t you kick his #$%.”
“Then don’t do anything that I would d-”
I hung up the phone, realizing that they wouldn’t be helpful. I followed my long lost brother into the bathroom, taking a spot at the urinal next to him, to assert dominance.
“Hey,” I said.
Flynn sighed, “Yeah. Fight.”
He threw the first swing at me, scraping me up the side of my face. His eyes were wild, and his teeth were showing. Upon taking his mask off, he revealed that his skin was sickly- almost a shade of green. “Hayden, Hayden, Hayden… Mister… Diamond Absaloute… you’re making a mistake. Hayden, you of all people should know the power the Council of Owls brings you- we- We burned down the camp! It stood right here, and we burned it to nothing! All because of the Council, Hayden, all of this… All of this is for you, man!”
I ran towards him, pulling his arms behind his back, “You don’t get it, do you? They played you, they played all of you- they ran the camp, they- they still are, god@#%#it!”
He shoved his foot up my crotch, wiping the blood away from his nose, “That’s not true! That-s not — That’s not true!” He shoved me out of the way.
I ran up to him, punching him in the jaw.
“Please, Flynn, just- just listen to your brother for once in your life!”
“Why? Hayden, I offered you a chance years ago, both of us- we were hurting, you were hurting, that’s why I did all of this, Hayden! That’s why! All of this, Hayden, all of this is for you!” I stomped my foot down, “Fine! Alright? We’re damaged, we’re pretty #$%#ed up. I- I was homeless for a year, and you… you’re just a nightmare, Flynn. But that doesn’t mean we’re wise- doesn’t mean that there’s some grand destiny out there for the two of us! We- We could have our own life, go watch movies, play Twister, cover for each other when we need to, we- we could be there for each other.”
Flynn stopped in his tracks.
He started walking towards me, and I noticed that for once in our lives he was shorter than me. I
smiled, “How’d you like that?” I asked.
“I- I- I- I’d like that alot,” he said.
“Then c’mon, come with me,” I checked my watch, “We got places to be.”
I took my brother to the rendezvous point we had agreed upon, a panel for some Star Trek short film. Smedly and Jonah were already there, bickering. When I arrived (Flynn, obviously restrained,) they smiled, flashing a picture of him.
“You got one?” Jonah asked.
“Well, about that… guys, this is my brother. Flynn. Flynn’s decided to help us, haven’t you, Flynn?”
After noticing our expecting stares, Flynn began his spiel, “Listen, the Council of Owls is hosting an awards ceremony later tonight. Ten people from every district are supposed to be there, meaning there’s a grand total of about two hundred people there. Maybe fifteen awards. If you want photos, that’s where you go.”
“Where’s it located?”
“Basement, shouldn’t be too hard to find. After all, in a bit they’ll all be swarming their like flies. Just follow the idiot who doesn’t know when to take off his mask.”
“Like you?” I asked.
The Green Goblin-gami turned red.
That’s when we noticed something.
Jonah started counting us, “Three, Four, Five… Guys, shouldn’t there be six of us? Because we started with five, and we added one, we-”
“Oh #$%@.” Jude said.
By Leonard “Penisher” Broderick
“Dad!” I yelled.
It was him, the same Roman nose, same strong chin, same soft eyes.
I didn’t quite know how he was here, but my sister jumping up for joy, tugging on his working man suspenders. I wrapped him in a hug, feeling like a little kid again. And it was just me, and my sister, and my Mom, and my Dad. All of us, playing around in a wheat field.
Suddenly, a shot fired and night fall cracked. Bullet after bullet entered and exited my Father just as quick. My Father laid in the casket, his face barely recognizable. I should’ve begged him to stay, I should’ve done anything I could. But at least he went out like a man– fighting for what he believed in. The scene shifted, now I’m a freshman. And my older sister, a Freshman, is crying in my arms. She’s
covered in bruises, blood dripping from her nose and busted lip, and all I can hear is my Father’s voice, telling me that if anything happened while he was gone…
I was the man of the house.
And when I asked my sister who did this to her… she opened something in her palm, a ring. It was golden and thick, whoever it belonged to definitely didn’t get enough circulation. And the jewel at the end was opal- a milky, glossy, baby blue.
I returned to the land of the living, finding myself strapped to a bed. It feels like my childhood bed, but I know it’s not. A light shines brightly above my face, allowing me to see myself, the restraints, the striped bed sheets, all of it. But the one thing I can’t see? Whatever it is that’s next to me. But I can feel it, breathing down my neck. And when I stare into the void, all that I can see is it’s beady eyes reflecting back at me from the shadows. It reaches an arm out, it’s painted nails gripping tightly onto my arm.
And that’s when I notice the ring. I start breathing heavily, trying to hold back my anger. I have a pocket knife in my left pocket, and pepper spray in my boot. If only I could get to either…
“What are you doing here?” The creature asks, it’s voice muffled, like there’s a pillow case over his head. I could easily use this against him. I spit on him, “Better question: Who the #$@% are you?”
“I’ve gone by many names, Leonard Broderick. Some call me MorigMorpheus. Others, the
Sandpaperman. In your world, however- they call me one name. Origami Nightmare.” Origami Nightmare, the Wheeler-ian monster who hurt my sister tore into me. Physically, but more
importantly- psychologically. Over, and over, and over again I lived through the moments that hurt me as I begged for them to end, “NO, NO, NO, NO, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT-”
Suddenly, the lights flickered back on, and Origami Nightmare was on the floor. Next to him, my
teammates, panting, and sore. There was a new kid, among the group, who looked an awful lot like Hayden. Still shaken up, I looked around the place. It was like a hospital, with all sorts of equipment laying around the place, equipment that made my skin crawl at the thought of what would happen if they didn’t come to save me. Feeling so vulnerable, feeling so afraid, it made me angry. It felt like hell.
And I promised myself- Never again. Never again.
“What do we do now?” Jonah asked.
Flynn looked around, “The Council’s only allowing platinum members, Platinum members are
members who play specific rolls,” he showed us his mask, which had an hourglass shape across it, “I’m
Chronos, I represent time. I’m their puppet, I’m their force of nature. MorigMorpheus, here, was dreaming.
He’s the torturer, he digs into people’s minds to figure out how to control us.”
I nodded, I lifted the mask off of Origami Nightmare’s face. It was modeled after The Dreaming’s
mask, from the Sandman. I put it in my coat pocket. “Alright, guys, new groups. We’re gonna find some of these masks, and then recoup, okay. No more splitting apart.”
As we explored where we were, we found out that wherever we were, it was… strange. Rooms
repeated, some corridors seemed to go on and on and on with no end in sight. It felt like when I was a little kid, running through all the doors in Lowe’s, an endless endeavor that led to nowhere.
Jude was the first to get his mask, taking down a “Borigami.” It was in this room structured like some old, expensive, library. Borigami was, apparently, an old Thor in the 90s who fathered Seyla and Shelby. His mask was like the other paper plates, save for large cardboard horns that stuck out like he was some wild boar.
He fought hard, like some wild animal that had been kept down here for years. Which makes sense, according to Flynn, that was his only role, really– The Father.
Hayden got a mask second, it was against some short, gremlin-like little man who bit at his ankles in an empty classroom. Hayden kicked him in the face, and when he hit the wall with a thud his mask fell clean off.
Hayden picked it off the ground, and noticed the drawn on vampire fangs. “Huh, Origami Morbius. The Doctor.” Smedly Maroni hosed down a second Condiment Kirigami, a naked man tied to a wall in a dungeon, covered in ketchup and mustard, hissing and thrashing. Smedly kicked him in the face in a move I didn’t know he could make. When we asked Flynn about this, he didn’t know who this strange man was. To the Council of Owls, he was– a mystery.
And finally, Jonah Macline. Jonah was the last person, taking down a kid with an Origami Psycho Pirate in an empty room with a spotlight. Yet before he put the mask on, Jonah noticed something, the name– The Chosen One With The Medusa Mask.
Jonah looked around, a bit worried, but mostly confused, “Chosen- Chosen for what?”
I checked my watch, “Who cares? It’s 7:30, we have places to be,” I elbowed Flynn, “White boy, lead the way.”
Finding OrigVenom in the Flames
By Ezra Cronin
Although our cover had been blown, I stood across from Karl Blonsky Junior, his eyes red with rage, with… Carnagami.
“Don’t you get it, Ezra?” He asked, “We’ve always been there. We’ve always been in the shadows, we’ve always been plotting. This team that you play for, you fool! It’s just the same side of the coin! You can take your stupid kids back, you and your dumb Shredder Squad, you and your freaking team of fools. Don’t you think we see? Don’t you think we know?!”
“Of course I knew, Karl.” I said, slowly moving my hand to my back pocket. Blonsky Junior was always big on the theatrics, full of himself and full of the “pizazz” that he thought the world had to offer. He was stupid, and if I could distract him long enough, I could scare him even more.
“Then why didn’t you say something? If you’re so smart, then why, Ezra Cronin, would you not say anything about it?”
“I figured something was around. I just couldn’t see it. All the words put into my head, the puppet telling me crap. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my mind. It was… it was you. It was always you. OrigVenom, I thought, was real. But it’s not like those books we read about McQuarrie. Origami Yoda wasn’t real, OrigVenom —- that puppet’s death and me not hearing him anymore? It was because the Council had had their fun with me. They were tired of it all. Everyone thought I was crazy.” I took out the matchbox that was in my pocket, “And… maybe they were right.” I lit a match, and he watched as the flame flickered in my hand. Conflict was happening throughout the entire space; the rewards ceremony turned insane after the kids were rescued, everyone tackling one another, blaming the unexpected end to a fold on someone — anyone — besides themselves. Karl Blonsky Junior stared at the lit match in my hand.
“What are you doing?” He asked.
“Origami Symbiotes hate fire.” I said. I flicked it onto the carpet, which suddenly erupted into flames, quickly spreading onto a Darth Vader’s cape, who, in taking it off, spread the fire throughout the building. Cowering back in fear, Karl Blonsky stared at me. I took out my camera, and snapped a picture of him shielding himself from the fire. Council of Owls Member, Karl Blonsky Junior.
“Everyone!” Nard exclaimed, his face bruised and beaten, “Let’s get out of here!” He dashed out of the rotunda’s door as many other people fled. I stared at the fire, and, in my mind, I felt a peace wash over me. The Council of Owls was done, most likely. So, OrigVenom died a second time. When those voices that haunted me for so long were washed out by the smoke.
I ran away, joining the gathering outside as the fire erupted and spread to another building, and another. Roddenberry was burning.
I did it.
“Where’s Jonah, Ronald, and Alec Baldwin?” Nard asked as he did a headcount. Michael and Rome, both badly beaten, laid still on the ground. Lawrence was tending to their wounds.
“I… I don’t know. I thought he was with you?” Richy said. Lawrence was crying, now. He was seeing his “home” go up in flames.
“No, he wasn’t.” Hayden mentioned, “A few of them were on the reconnaissance mission, remember?”
“Are they still in there?” Jude asked, looking at the flames.
“I hope not.” Smedly said, looking down. I could see it in his eyes, he was worried about his DC comrades.
I hoped they were fine, too.
By Smedly “Condiment Kirigami” Maroni
This was my most dastardly scheme yet.
Let me set the stage- unbeknownst to my teammates, I had a satchel full of ketchup, mustard, mayo, ranch, barbecue, honey mustard, relish, olive oil, salsa, maple syrup, honey, sugar, salt, peper, hot sauce, marinara, horseradish, fish sauce, tartar sauce, and my personal favorite… the Smedly Supreme. After duct taping it all together, and with a firecracker in the center.
My teammates- they were pawns. They had brought me here, they brought me here for the sole reason, so that I, the courageous, the cunning, the charismatic, and clever CONDIMENT KIRIGAMI may have his day in the spotlight. And the only person in on it- Jonah Macline. The only other person with as much of a love of pranks and jokes, of misdirection and misfortune, of escapades, japes, and hoaxes! Smedly and Jonah, partner in crimes, and hopefully soon… PARTNERS IN LIFE! (Jonah’s comment: What did he mean by this?)
As we scurried in, the two of us, the dynamic duo, the courageous couplet, the timeless twosome, giggled to each other.
The guard, who we had swindled and schemed, led us to our seat, and we all sat down in the Canadians cushions of cooky calamities, and waited. From behind a velvet curtain, stepped a man in a mask, a fake handlebar mustache scribbled onto his mask.
The people chanted different names, from “Brainiac!” to “Kingpin!” as the people cheered for their ringleader, he took off his mask, and the cheers shifted into but one moniker: “Fako!”
Fako Mustachio was a man I was familiar with, he was the very first oddball and odorous villain I and Task Force ShreX took down, and for that, he forever lived in eternal infamy! He hadn’t changed much, save for growing taller and burlier.
“Good morningggggg, ladiesssssss and gentlemen! Tis I, Fakoooooooooooo Mustachiooooooo!”
The crowd erupted, “FOR FIFTY YEARS, WE’VE RAN THIS WORLD! WE’VE TAUGHT IT’S STUDENTS, WE’VE WATCHED ITS HEARTHS, AND NOW COMES THE REWARD! Fifty years of this, and it’s all coming crashing down now!? I think not! It’s time, brethren, for a new initiative!”
“Hallelujah!” They cheered.
“A new age of origami!”
“Hallelujah!” They cheered.
“TODAY, IS THE DAYYYYY… OF SALVATION! MADISON! JUTEFRUCE! ILKLEY, AND ATHENS! ALL OF IT! REBORN AGAIN! Let them marvel at Gorr-igami, the OriGod butcher, the fearsome foe that unites Athens and Madison once and for all! Let Jutefruce tremble in fear at Starr-o, the Superintendent! And let Harry Paper feel the wrath of his very own Creased Child!”
The crowd went crazy, excited at the prospect of rebirth, excited at the prospect of rejuvenation and return! A small part of me felt the same excitement as the crowd, the same joyous energy in plotting the lives of thousands…
“But first,” Fako said, the crowd suddenly hushing, “We must reward ourselves for our hard work… starting at the group in Rapids, Michigan, and our electing of a new Origami Master!” The crowd rumbles, their feet beating on the floor, “Everyone, give it up for…. JOE MARTINET!”
The fifteen year old boy danced down the stairs in a full on Mario outfit, giving a long and intricate speech about Foldnite and Five Nights at Foldy’s.
“Up next, your new Zeus-igami… MS. XIMENA CUNNINGHAM!” Hayden and Flynn’s jaw dropped, the thirty something year old lady seeming to copy the mannerisms of Hitler and Stalin, her veins and eyes bulging out of her neck and head.
“At Jutefruce, leading the movement as SUPAPERMAN… NICHOLAS CAGE!” The real, American actor Nicholas Cage from the movie ‘National Treasure’ walked down the stage, and began his speech, “Uh, hello. I don’t know about all that, but I’m Superman now. I’m Superman now! I’m Nicholas Cage from theUnbearable Weight of Massive Talent and I’m Superman now! Let’s go!”
“Thank you, Nicholas Cage.” Said Fako.
“And finally,” Fako said, “It brings me great displeasure to inform you that Dane Jackson has been lost
in action,” a couple of boos, but not al that many, “But, but, he’s graduating anyways! Which leaves us with
one question, right? WHO, oh, WHO will be the new Wheeler class president!?”
“Who!?” They cheered.
“WHO will lead our new universe!?”
“The one and only person who brought Sebastian Merrick to his knees… the only person I trusted as much as Dane, Madison County, give it up for your new leader… FLYNN! MACINTOSH!”
The mission. As he jumped and danced down the stairs, cackling to himself, I could hear me, Jonah, Nard, Hayden, and Jude’s heart drop. Flynn giggled to himself, and as he stood there, he ranted. He ranted for what felt like hours, about everything from the OrigOlympians to the Puppet Society of America, the whole time dancing around one subject: The Shredder Squad. And finally, without breaking eye contact with Hayden, he smiled.
“And something I’ve done, to prove my allegiance to you all! Oh, well… I’ve brought five little mice for us to feast on! The Father, The Doctor, The Dreaming, The Mystery, and The Chosen One! Those bad boys? Shams, frauds!”
All eyes darted toward us, Flynn kicked a spot light that flashed on him over to us. For a split second, it was silence. And in that split second, I caught a glimpse of Jonah’s phone, on Google:
Fako Mustachio allergies: salt.
SALT!! SALT!! THE SECRET INGREDIENT TO THE SMEDLY SUPREME!!
As the Council of Owls tore into our flesh, Fako seized in and out of pain, his skin turning a revolting shade of red.
Suddenly, fire engulfed the room…
Ronald Lamden: Hero
By Alec “The Origami Boss Baby” Baldwin
The flames rose fast, and the smoke was making me cough and wheeze. We had gone off the beaten path a while back and lost track of everybody because Jonah wanted to try and see if there were any Jutefruce people here. Our investigation turned fruitful, and Ronald had caught a few pictures of people talking, teachers and officials of the town, apparently. Now, he was holding me to his chest, trying to prevent me from inhaling any smoke flooding the Rotunda.
“Follow me!” Jonah exclaimed, but I could see, just out of the corner of my eye, how lost he actually was. Ronald was coughing, slugging through the burning complex.
“You’ll be okay.” He said to me in between coughs, “I promise you, you’ll be okay.”
“I’m scared.” I said. It was true —- I felt terrified for the first time on one of these missions. It felt so dangerous to be surrounded by the burning building. Whoever started this was insane, and I was scared for my life.
“Slow down!” Ronald yelled to Jonah. Jonah paused and looked back. He was holding his shirt over his nose.
“You hurry up!” He said, “Drop the kid, and you guys can run faster than carrying him.”
“Jonah—” In that moment, the rooftop caved in, drawing a line between Ronald and I and Jonah. Jonah stood on the other side, the wall too tall to climb.
“Ronald! Alec!” He yelled. “Come on, climb over!”
“I can’t!” Ronald yelled. He put me down on the ground, and I stared at the rubble. He was right; it would be too tall to climb. “You take Alec and get out of here!”
“I’m not going to do that. You’re both getting out of here with me.” Jonah told us. I looked up at Ronald, who looked pretty set on this decision. He looked down at me, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“Please, we can—” I started, but the foundation started shaking. More of the roof and sides started to fall. Ronald simply shook his head, and he took out his puppet, handing it to me. I looked at the angry face on it, the shark fin coming out from the back. The King Crease.
“This is my last adventure.” He decided. “And I need you to give that to Jonah.” I kept shaking my head, I just didn’t want to believe it. Ronald had been there for me. He knelt down to look at me face to face, “I need you to be strong, okay? And I need you to stay out of this stuff for as long as you possibly can, I need you to —- I need you to grow up, to be happy, to be a good kid, because that’s what you are. That’s what… that’s what I am.”
“But I don’t, I can’t…” My words were failing me. Ronald picked me up, holding me like a football.
“Hey Jonah, remember when you and I played that prank on Jonathan Yen? The one where we threw him around like a football until he was crying on the football field?” He yelled. I knew, in that moment, that I was going to be Jonathan Yen, whoever that was.
“Yeah, it wasn’t much of a prank, though. That was just plain bullying.”
“Tomato potato, the point is, you were a good catch. So… don’t %&$* up now.”
He didn’t give a countdown, he just threw me over the rubble. When I was caught by Jonah, I started to scream and cry for Ronald. I could see him, just through the cracks.
“Take care, kid.” He said to me, “And give them Hell, Jonah.” Jonah nodded.
Jonah carried me outside, and I kept looking back at where Ronald was. As the walls caved in, as the flames continued to turn to ash…
That was the last anyone saw of him.
Ronald Lamden, the King Crease… my hero.
Hell to Pay
By Jonah Macline
As we sat outside the burning Roddenberry, I coughed. I sat down a crying Alec Baldwin on the
fountain, the poor boy holding tightly onto his origami shark. Cop cars raced in, firefighter’s too. And that left us- Task Force ShreX. Jude Decassius, Lawrence Murdock, Richy Wickinni, Hayden Macintosh, Leonard Broderick, Smedley Maroni, Alec Baldwin, and… Me. Jonah Macline.
A hero’s best friend. And nothing more.
I couldn’t cry in front of Alec Baldwin, or any of the people older than me. And so I went off into the trees, into a little clearing, out by the school. And I sobbed, the heat still on my face. “Ronald…” I said, “Ronald…” I repeated. I couldn’t take it, A.R.G.U.S., the Council of Owls- all of it. It was all a bad prank, a bad joke. I kept on crying, I cried until my eyes were dry and my shirt was soaked with tears and sweat. I unbuttoned my shirt, realizing I was scuffed and bleeding out of my side- but the rest of
me was hurting so bad, I could hardly feel it. And then… there she was. Like an angel, she glistened beneath the blaze.
She noticed me, and put a finger to her mouth, “Shhh, you kids did good, I’ll let you guys go home. Jonah, you think Alec Baldwin has one more mission left in him? There’s some guys with an Origami Lord Vortech, like from Lego Dimensions, it’s-”
I shoved her into the tree, and I punched her in the face. She looked at me with a look of shock, shock that turned into anger, “You- You little, that’s it. You’re sentence is getting extended, I’m tired of your a-” I elbowed her in the stomach, picking her up by the collar of her shirt, and shoving her into the crowd. I dragged the hissing and scratching woman over to the reporter, who was interviewing Alec Baldwin. “YOU WANT A REAL STORY?” I asked, “TAKE A LOOK AT THIS LADY,” I took off my jacket, shoving a sock in her mouth, “SUSAN SNYDER!”
A dozen or so cops saw the teenage boy with mascara and immediately pointed their weapons at me, but at this point, I really wasn’t afraid, “Officers, Officers, please! This is the lady you’re looking for,” I grabbed the television camera, high on life, “Yeah! Susan Snyder, uuuuuuh, Bobby Clifford, Gil Anderson, they’re part of an organization called A.R.G.U.S. that operates out of the Ostrander Facility for Troubled Youth, and they’re responsible for the death of-” The police dragged me away, as I spit and forced them off of me.
The next few weeks, the sinking feeling in my stomach wouldn’t go away. The police escorted me back to Jutefruce, where they realized that they couldn’t charge me for anything besides assault resisting arrest- so Richy and Smedly convinced Alan to bail me out.
When Alan picked me up, he asked me a bunch of questions. I rambled on and on, that entire car ride, and he listened. When I broke the news to him about Ronald Lamden’s death, his face went cold. Like he expected it, but was still surprised. When Alan dropped me off, it wasn’t at my house, it was at… a place I didn’t recognize. Outside, a little kite tied to a tree branch.
“What’s- What’s this?”
Alan smiled, and nodded, “I did some digging, asked around. I heard your family wasn’t the greatest, so…” Alan nodded at me, “Don’t worry about them, they- they don’t care.”
I made my way up the sidewalk, ringing the doorbell as Alan watched me, looking like he was about to cry. And who answered the door? Chad and Josie.
And that’s when I broke down, I collapsed into their arms, letting my tears fall into their clothes. They brought me in, filled me in on how they skipped college. Chad started a kite company, and Josie’s an actress. The whole time, they didn’t let me say a word. And if I was another man, I would’ve found that selfish, but as they showed me their goldfish, J.C., I knew that all they really wanted to give me was a distraction. A distraction from all of it.
The next couple weeks, I slept in their guest bed, and every waking hour I spent was glued to Chad’s computer, looking for news. They’d taken Susan in for questioning, Alan Wade and his crew from G.M.A. all lead the charge, showing off the near dozens of photos that ended up on every reputable news page in the country.
And soon, the arrests started flooding in. A.R.G.U.S., The Council of Owls, all of it. It all came crashing down.
Tomorrow, I start college. My roommate? Smedly Maroni. Neither of us know what the future holds for us, neither of us know what will happen to Jutefruce, or to Madison County, or Athens, New York. But what we do know is that all the fighting, all the pain, all the suffering of it all. It’s finally over. And I know, deep down, that neither of us are quite satisfied with this ending, to put it in Smedly’s terms: “Some mechanistic mischief feels as if it’s amok!” But all that we do know, deep down, is that this is an ending we’re happy with.
So, until our paths cross again, this is Jonah Macline and Smedly Maroni signing off.
By William “Used-to-be Shredshot” Banks
“Insane news today coming from the most unlikeliest of sources… kids! A group of teenagers and middle schoolers — including a second grade child — have come out with accusations surrounding Origami puppetry, the website ‘Folder’s Connection,’ and a secret underground group of teachers and citizens of small ‘origami towns.’ These people have, according to a member of the ‘Shredder Squad,’ Jonah Macline, utilized children, mostly those from the Ostrander Juvenile Detention Center, in some foul games. However, parents within certain schools across the nation apparently work in the shadows to plot out their kids’ lives. The rumored ‘Court of Origami Owls’ have met up regularly to cause havoc within these schools, and accounts from various kids – not just from Ostrander – have exposed the fraudulent claims. This comes after the tragic burning down of Roddenberry’s auditorium, which tragically ended in missing children’s case Ronald Lamden’s demise. The child, missing for —-”
I turned the TV off, staring blankly at the screen. The Shredder Squad won. It was over. Ronald Lamden died.
I dropped the remote to the ground as I cried. Mary and Jessica put their hands on my back.
“We needed you to see it before you read about it on Twitter.” Mary said, “We just… I— I mean, it’s insane.”
“What about Susan Snyder? The ones that used us?”
“Gone? What do you mean gone?”
“Arrested. A whole list of people, actually. People under our noses, all exposed because some Ezra Cronin kid secured the document. Do you remember Mr. Nolan?” I nodded, and Mary continued, “He was a part of the Council. So was the Principal of Kane. They’re all being arrested and taken into questioning.”
“But… how? How do we let this happen, how do we —-”
“It’s not our fault.” Jessica said to me.
“It’s not our fault, Will.” Mary repeated. “It’s not your fault, it’s not our fault, it’s not Smedly’s or anyone elses. We were kids, we were messed with, manipulated, blackmailed. People think they know what’s best for something and then go and ruin it. It’s not our fault. But, it’s our job to make the world a better place.”
I looked outside my dorm room. I thought being expelled was going to ruin my life, but I realized that I could still go to college; I got my GED, I did everything I could. A ton of my friends were going to Nodel, so it wasn’t that bad. I mean, even Mary and Jessica were here. I had everything I could need.
“They rescued two kids, you know? The Shredder Squad. They did something a lot more… cooler, and important, than we ever did. Remember Fako and stuff? We were just defending the interests of the teachers. That’s all. They saved lives. Smedly Maroni saved a life.”
“That’s insane… But Ronald—”
I buried my face into my hands. Missing child? He went missing, but he was stuck doing missions over and over again? He probably thought that his parents didn’t care about him. He…
“It’s not your fault.” Mary repeated.
“I just wonder what would happen if we could’ve done it differently, you know?” I asked.
“We can’t go thinking like that,” Mary said in her therapeutic tone, “All we can do is understand that it happened, and reflect on what did occur, and move forward.”
“Those teachers used kids like puppets.” I looked over at the Shredshot puppet that I kept as a bookmark nowadays. I picked it up and tore it into multiple pieces. “They used me like a puppet.” I grumbled.
“It’s okay, Will. They can’t control any of us anymore.” Jessica said. They wrapped me in a hug, and I sighed.
On to the next thing. It’s what Ronald would want.
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