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- Chapter 1.1: Dire's Badass Boast to Bakuda is notably amusing: "TUITION PAYMENT IS HEREBY WAIVED, YOUR APPLICATION IS ACCEPTED, AND YOU ARE NOW OFFICIALLY ENROLLED IN PAIN UNIVERSITY, ON TRACK TO GRADUATE MAGNA CUM LAUDE WITH A MAJOR IN GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED! AND NOW YOU SHALL BE WELCOMED TO YOUR DORMITORY OF SHAME WITH MANDATORY BEATINGS!"
- Chapter 1.5: Dire says she would have killed Grey Boy if he were still alive, and involuntarily crushes the soda can she was holding. Then:I took a sip, in the silence. Still a bit of cola left in the can, after all.
- Chapter 2.2: Again with the hilarious Mood Whiplash.When I looked up, damn near the entire room of villains was staring at me.
"Shit, it moves," muttered Skidmark.
I set the mask to partial release, and triggered it with a hiss of escaping atmosphere. The sound echoed through the bar The valkyrie twins tensed, the light-woman glowed a little brighter, and Faultline's hand had vanished into a pocket. The snail-man and the lizard-guy shifted in their seats, readying for trouble. Others did as well, all save for the Undersiders and Coil.
I let the tension go on for a second, then stuck the straw through the gap created, and drew a loud slurp of lemonade.
- Chapter 2.2, again:I sighed, as my nice little hopes and dreams of civil discourse [with the heroes] faded away.
At least with the villain meet, I'd gotten lemonade out of the deal...
- Chapter 2.3 promptly continues the hilarity:"YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG."
"Doing what wrong?" [Armsmaster asked.]
"GLOATING. YOU'VE GOT THE POSTURE RIGHT, AND THE SOMEWHAT UNHINGED GRIN HELPS, BUT YOU REALLY SHOULD HAVE EMITTED A WICKED LAUGH BY NOW."
He looked at me with utter disbelief.
"ADD AN INTIMIDATING STATEMENT IN THERE, AND YOU'RE GOOD TO GO. SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF 'TREMBLE BEFORE HAL-BEARD!'"
- Chapter 2.5:
- Act II Intermission: the aftermath of fighting Dire, from the Protectorate's perspective.Armsmaster growled through his teeth, thumping his fist on the table to accentuate every point. "One! That was not a Chinese refugee, who escaped with a powerful but unreliable suit of prototype Yangban battle armor. Two! If that was a, and I quote, 'rookie who's run from most fights, and barely knows how to use his stolen armor', I'll eat my halberd. Three! If his known psychological weaknesses included a fear of entrapment and a weakness to confrontation, I'll chase the halberd down with a jug of draincleaner!"
[Director Piggot] frowned, and turned to look at Armsmaster. "What's this Hal-Beard business about?"
- While viewing the battle footage,
Armsmaster made noises that shouldn't have been producible by a human throat.
And then the smoke detector went off. [Uber] jumped and punched it Mario-style until it stopped screaming.
- Same chapter, Uber POV:
Uber looked at the television.
- Uber gets mad at Leet for letting the pizza rolls burn, but then Uber catches sight of the Protectorate versus Dire battle footage...
Five minutes later he looked at Leet, who was crying tears of sheer joy. Leet looked back at him, snot running down his face, grinning like that time they'd pulled a heist at Comicon.
"That. That. That is an end-boss. Right there. Pure end-boss. Pwnage. Pure Pwnage."
Uber grinned back at him. "I have two questions."
"Is this guy hiring, and do you think he'd be okay if we recorded our jobs? Because if the answer to those questions is yes, then as Hideo Kojima is my witness life just took a turn for the friggin' awesome."
Leet's face froze in pure joy, as he made noises that shouldn't have been producible by a human throat.
- Chapter 4.1, in which Dire very politely turns down Accord's employment offer.We'd end up duelling with sword-canes atop the hands of a clock-tower. Never been through that personally, but I'd seen it before with his type, never fails. And I'm horrible with sword canes, most of them are flimsy things that break on you in a heartbeat if given the chance.
- Also, the very fact that Dire dresses so professionally that Accord falls in... something... with her.
- Chapter 4.2, more of Dire's reaction to Accord.I suppressed a shudder. Really hadn't meant to... Intrigue him, that much. Tattletale's advice on clothing had been a bit too accurate. I was forced to wonder if she had played an elaborate prank on me.
- Chapter 4.2:
- Chapter 4.3:"YOU ARE WITHOUT A DOUBT THE MOST POLITE METAL URCHIN THAT HAS EVER BEEN ATTACHED TO DIRE'S KEISTER."
- Chapter 5.1:
- Chapter 5.3, Grue and Gamma:Grue: "I guess I shouldn't be surprised by robots with OCD."
Gamma: "Technically we're androids. Also the others couldn't care less. Me? I can't stand messes."
A crunch from downstairs, shrieks and laughter. She froze mid-step, put her hand over her face. "A fact that Delta well knows. Come on. Let's get things packed before they find the universal solvent."
"Wait, you've been storing stuff like that under my loft?"
- Chapter 5.4, blink and you'll miss it, but even Tattletale's power can't tell whether Circus is male or female."Confederate Otacon, face blanked out, female? Male? Can't tell. Peculiar."
- Chapter 5.5, Alec's snark:Alec laughed. "We'd make shitty heroes. Oh! I know! I could switch costumes, call myself Spazz, the lord of leisurely seizures! And Grue could be like Captain NotGrue, or something. And you could be... I don't know, Butterfly girl?"
"I'm too awesome to be a good guy," said Alec. "Seriously, can you see ME making a noble sacrifice, or something so stupidly goody goody?"
- Slightly later:
"Union Rep?" I asked.
- Also Taylor's reaction to Dire and Danny Hebert getting along so well:
"YES. QUITE A NICE FELLOW. DIDN'T EXPECT HIM TO KNOW SIGN LANGUAGE. MADE THE NEGOTIATIONS MUCH EASIER, DIDN'T HAVE TO WAIT ON A TRANSLATOR."
My mom had taught a course for the hearing impaired, years ago. I still remembered her and my dad staying up nights, practicing sign language, helping her get the hang of it.
"BIT OF A PAIN, USING HANDSIGNS ONLY. STILL, BETTER THAN USING DIRE, DIRE, DIRE, ALL THE TIME. WOULD RAISE QUESTIONS, YOU KNOW? EASIER TO PRETEND TO BE MUTE. BUT WE CONCLUDED MATTERS QUICKLY, EVEN HAD TIME FOR A GOOD LUNCH TOGETHER AFTERWARD."
Wait, he'd asked her out for lunch? What? No! This wasn't... God damn it!...
"LET'S JUST SAY LUNCH WITH DANIEL THIS AFTERNOON WAS FAR MORE PLEASANT AN OCCASION [THAN MEETING ACCORD] AND LEAVE IT AT THAT."
"YOU DON'T KILL. NOW WHO DOES THAT REMIND YOU OF?"
- Attraction shenanigans, a Shout-Out to The Empire Strikes Back, and more Genre Savvy. Also (yet) another hint that Dire is Alternate Universe Annette-Rose Hebert:
I looked at her, raising an eyebrow. She spread her arms, and stood there, silent in the night.
"You're joking. We're nothing alike."
"NO? SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS, YOU KNOW IT TO BE TRUE..."
Despite the tension, I snorted. "You're not my mother. And I'm not jumping off this tower."
"BARRING DIRE'S ACCEPTANCE OF THAT DRINKS INVITATION FROM DANNY AND A LOT OF DEVELOPMENT IN THAT AREA IN THE NEAR FUTURE, YOU ARE CORRECT IN YOUR FAMILIAL ASSESSMENT."
Dire: "HA, NO. RELAX. TOO MUCH ROMCOM POTENTIAL FOR DIRE'S TASTES. BESIDES, IT WOULDN'T WORK OUT. DIRE'S GOT A CAREER TO THINK OF, AND HE DESERVES A RELATIONSHIP THAT'S MORE LONG-TERM AND WITH LESS DEATH RAYS AND EXPLOSIONS. HE IS A GOOD MAN, THOUGH. NEVER DOUBT THAT."