"This world's high schools are different...though no less capable of cruelty."
— Introductory narrative caption
This interlude, featuring art by Jason Waltrip, is a Cross Over
with Campbell's webcomic Fans!
, featuring Alternate Universe
universe) counterparts of Penny and Aggie
characters. In this world, as a brief narrative prologue explains, the rise to prominence of "geek super-soldiers" (i.e., the quasi-governmental paranormal threat agency AEGIS and its Team Alpha response unit) has moved SF/fantasy enthusiasts to the top of the teenage social ladder. Nevertheless, other sorts of teenagers can still feel out of place.
One of these is the Fans
version of Penny, the arc's viewpoint character. As she does her best to dress "geeky" and heads to school, she reflects on how, despite her efforts to fit in, she doesn't "get" the fandom lifestyle as readily as others, like Sara and Helen, who relate to her with superficial friendliness masking, respectively, pity and contempt. Her reverie is cut short when she sees Charlotte—another social misfit, but one who in this universe has mastered black magic—heading menacingly toward the school with demons in tow. Penny tries to warn her schoolmates, but can only manage a scream.
Team Alpha members Laura, Shanna and Di arrive on the scene and speak to Charlotte, ostensibly to talk sense into her, while surreptitiously using their laser guns to seal her and the demons within a pentagram and circle. Di, a headstrong, over-eager junior team member, charges toward Charlotte in order to subdue her. Shanna saves Di from certain injury ("It's hell-degrees Fahrenheit in there") by shooting her in the leg before she can enter the circle. Di isn't particularly grateful.
As Laura assures the student body that AEGIS will rehabilitate Charlotte, members of Aggie's film-geek club comfort the shaken Penny. She becomes fast friends with them, discovering that she enjoys acting (and pretend-stabbing Aggie) in their reenactments of popular films. Penny has found her niche.