It's time to decide the winner between the two writing contests (Normal and Creative).

In one corner we have Coke!

Coke's Entry
The following content contains profanity that may not be suitable for readers of all ages. Please proceed with caution.

[Day 1: PRESS ROOM, Plumbers HQ] A 96-year old Max Tennyson, in his typical Hawaiian shirt-centric outfit, presents himself at a podium alongside a furry white ram-like humanoid in a rather formal blue suit and teal tie. Max points out into the room of just a few people— Rook Blonko is among them.

Max: Yes, err—
Woman (sitting in a seat front row): This is Judi's seat— good work asking her the question, by the way, sir. This is for Braven: what do you think of the coming election, where Max is set to default this time around as the next Magistratus?
Braven (Ram Humanoid adjacent Max, English accent): I'm feeling the season already, Judi, and really proud of the work our Magistratus has done so far. When he took me on, I was skeptical, but through working alongside him instead of against him, I've come to embrace the kind of ideals he and the people of our galaxies stand for. I've also come to see that he is an incredible leader, one that I only wish I could be some day.
Woman: You didn't answer the question. She'd follow up. Something like... “So do you see yourself running again or no?”
Braven: Look, Judi, come talk to me in a few months about whether or not I'm running.

Max pushes into the mic, somewhat setting Braven off.

Max (chuckling): He's basically waiting to see if I kick the bucket.
Braven (joining Max's laugh): Oh, Max, you kill me, honestly. Never in my good day would I say something like that.

One can catch Rook awkwardly shifting out of his chair before leaving the room.

Max (sarcastically): Oh, but you're thinking it! We have a, um— there's a brief pause, Max staring blankly a, um, a hold, a hold... a tether that binds us! We know what the other's thinking!
Braven: This man is honestly hilarious, honestly the greatest man has to offer.

Cut to Max and Braven walking quickly down a narrow corridor as a projection of Gwen, made entirely of mana, joins them. She's older, approaching as much as she's fighting her fifties, and bearing her blue and black outfit, cloak and all (not that the color's visible here; it's an all-magenta, semi-transparent hologram of sorts). She appears to be walking, but her steps line up with another place, wherever her real body is.

Gwen: That was genuinely the most awkward thing I have ever watched. Like, I can feel the cringe from here and it's worse than any sub or dub I've ever seen.
Braven: Where would “here” be, darling?
Gwen: In a magical dimension above your paygrade.
Braven: I'm well aware of Ledgerdomain; I'm not an idiot.
Gwen (with a false grin and a high voice): Of course not. She eyes Max as her projection begins to climb some invisible wall. Grandpa, I think I found it. I'll fill you in later.
Max: Thank you; see you later, pumpkin.
Gwen: Oh, and by the way, please leave out the “kick the bucket” line... people might take that seriously.
Max: Oh, please, it adds character, shows much of a self-aware person I am. Everyone needs to be self-aware, and leaders need to find a way to show people how to be without telling them.

She bows her head and, with a snap of her finger, disappears.

[CAFETERIA, Plumbers' HQ] An older Rook Blonko, black beard and more accessories to account for, sips from a juice pouch in front of an aroused salad of alien greens. Braven slides onto the bench in front of him without a meal in his hand.

Rook: Braven.
Braven: Just the Blonko I was looking to see.
Rook: Well, actually, in my culture, the last name is not—
Braven: It's— that's not the picked one, yes, of course, I'm an idiot— I always get that mixed up. Rook returns to sucking on his audibly empty pouch. Look, I need to speak to you, about our dear old Max. Rook stops. During that practice, Max... he's not okay.
Rook: How do you mean?
Braven: You heard how he stumbled on his words? Rook squints. He's feeling it; he said it, even, that he might “kick the bucket.”
Rook (taking his tray and half-standing up): Braven, I don't appreciate this—
Braven: He could, at any moment, do just that.
Rook (angrily dropping his tray back): Anyone like you or me trips on their words; it happens. You did it when you sat down, for instance.
Braven: He's older than he should be... he's at a point where one part snaps and the whole “shabang” breaks down.

Rook grabs a napkin from his tray, wipes his lips and tosses the crumpled thing right into a bucket across the room as he departs.

[Day 2: MAGISTRATUS'S OFFICE, Plumbers' HQ] Rook pushes open the grand double doors and steps into the massive home of the Magistratus. Across a long center aisle sits Max at a pristine desk. Another projection hovers over it, this time just of Gwen's head. Max waves Rook over. He hears nothing of their discussion as he gets over, as hard as he tries. By the time he stands just feet across the desk, Gwen's gone again.]

Rook: Gwendolyn?
Max: Yes... yes, I need her for some things. She helps with, uh, organizational tidbits and all that; just couldn't function without her. I guess I could say— and don't tell anyone— , I'm definitely feeling the big “nine-six,” but only a bit... Why have you come, what's up?
Rook (straight-faced, lips tight before finally bursting out): Are you prepared to have to fight Braven— or anyone else— for the title of Magistratus?
Max (brow raised): We've prepared for that contingency, of course.... Why? Has Braven mentioned anything?
Rook (hesitant, slow to respond, low): No, not at all, sir. It was simply the way he responded to the questions yesterday; he never answered, forwardly, as to whether he would be running.
Max: Oh, is that all? Rook, you don't have to do much public speaking, and for that, I have to be jealous of you. When you get up on that little shoddy stage in the press room and have to relay all this scripted nonsense to the reporters, you learn a little thing about double speak— dodging questions, rather. You can never be totally honest, that's not what they're looking for really, and if you even let yourself be that... well, I'll say: one little slip-up and they'll never let you... stammering for a quick second l-l-live it down. He bows his head for a second and sighs before looking back up with a wide, almost phony, smile. He whets some fake guffaw as he speaks. Triple digits, not even trying to surprise me.
Rook: Okay.

Rook simply turns around, indignant. Max calls him from across the room once more, just as he opens the door.

Max: You weren't thinking of running against me, were you?
Rook (quickly, high): Of course not, sir.
Max: I didn't think so; just curious.

Rook nods as he heads out. In the hall before Max's office, he watches the bustle of aliens— small, tall, wide and all— between rooms and offices but is stolen away by a narrow window just to his right. He pans the open airlessness beyond this little station out in the middle of space, paying no attention to the other lengthwise installments. No, he wants what out there isn't covered in housing or medical bays. He can almost see the old times, thirty years prior, with his old partner.

Rook: ...Remember when it was not just this quadrant? Disrupting his prettier thoughts, someone slams the door as they enter Max's room behind him. He shakes his head and stares back out, this time actually paying attention. A long ship is coming into view, one that forces him to squint and press his face against this super-durable glass before a phone call comes in from an old friend. He looks down at it, not that it's necessary when the tone is set just for him. “Ben.” It will have to wait.

Rook declines the call and enters the traffic in a rush.

[BRAVEN OXENHARDT'S OFFICE, Plumbers' HQ] A stout humanoid in black, red, and white— even her skin, or whatever her kind must have, is a paper white— sits typing away at some futuristic computer. The short double doors in front of her, nowhere near as magnificent as Max's, are already open as Rook knocks on them. The woman at the desk looks up to him.

Woman: Rook! What can I do for ya, doll? Mistah Ox isn't here, by the way.
Rook: That's actually why I am here. Where is he?
Woman: Magistratus just called him— (whispering) sounded kinda mad if ya ask me.
Rook: When— ? The slam of Max's double doors bounces around his head as he rolls his eyes. Thank you, Yelrah.
Yelrah/Woman: Any time!

[MAGISTRATUS'S OFFICE, Plumbers' HQ] Braven, just after he'd slammed the door on his entrance earlier.

Braven: Sorry about the noise, old chap. Beginning his slow walk down the aisle. Don't get up.
Max (snarkily): I wasn't planning on it, Mr. Oxenhardt.
Braven: The formalities? Come now, I'm tasting a little less love in the air than I should be, Maxwell.
Max: Rook was just in here. Braven slows his gait, more distracted by his thoughts. You know, he is a bright man, one of our finest— no, definitely, our finest—, but he's not a very good liar; I admire that, find it useful, too.
Braven: What was he here about?
Max: I know you want to enter the race, but you know as well as I do that it will not end well for you. You can't base your campaign on building a sphere around the quadrant.
Braven: I know that. Quadrant Delta Coma has made it abundantly clear that nobody in the universe wants a sphere to keep out Celestialsapien alterations.
Max: Then, if you'll cooperate, and not push the both of us to waste money on pointless ads, I will give you whatever it is you need. Remember, that's how this works?
Braven: That's just the thing; you can't give me what I want anymore. I have something that the people need that you simply cannot give anyone ever again.
Max: Don't do this, Braven. Do you need a meal? Problems at home? Something I can help you with?
Braven (raising his voice, unable to catch his tongue): I am not a child; I do not need your help with my life!
Max (calming down, confidently): You are a child, by comparison, especially if you think you can go without others' help.
Braven: No, by comparison, I am an able adult to your senile elder.
Max (confused, disappointed): I don't know how you could have converted Rook—
Braven: I'm going to spell this out for you: I'm offering him and everyone else something you can't. I'm offering someone other than you.
Max: You're offering something other than what they look to be fine with?
Braven (sly): See now, that's the thing about looks, chap; they can be deceiving. See, I'm going to take my looks— my face— and just go to town with them— but no, not for money, of course not, but for votes. Your wrinkly, damaged mug will never make another vote in this town; I guarantee you.
Max (calmly, gritting his teeth): Get out of my office.
Braven: Gladly.

Like with Rook, Max catches a word before Braven slams the door.

Max: You might as well plan to announce at the press conference.
Braven: No, I'm not ready yet. Soon.

Braven exits. As Max lags into a slouch, Gwen's head returns.

Max: What do you think of my age, Gwendolyn?
Gwen: What do you mean, Grandpa? Max doesn't answer. You're still young; you can keep doing this job for as long as you want, if that's what you're asking.
Max (nodding): Okay. Remind me to put together a reelection committee later.
Gwen: Yeah, speaking of reminders... took your pills with lunch?
Max: About that...

Just outside Max's office, we find Braven as he's just left, running straight into an arms-crossed Rook.

Braven: Good, I was just about to come see you.
Rook: Then, by all means.
Braven: No, you came to me. What do you have?
Rook (unrolling his arms, relaxing his body): I agree, with you... I think the Magistratus really may not be able to handle the job anymore.
Braven: Glad we can see eye to eye. Then I want to get started immediately, announce at the press conference.
Rook: You're not changing things in your pursuit of this?
Braven: I'm purely in it so Max doesn't have to do the job anymore. It's clearly putting on a strain on him.
Rook: Okay, then good luck.
Braven: About that... I am going to need your help.
Rook: I'm not coming on stage with you. It's not in the schedule.
Braven: Oh, that's fine. I just need to know right now... I need you to tell me you support my run.
Rook: I do...
Braven: No, you need to really support it. I need to be able to say “Magister Rook Blonko, unrivaled star of the Plumbers, has endorsed me.” Can I say that, old friend?
Rook (backing up a bit): I do not...
Braven: I'm sorry, I understand. Too close to Maxwell— too loyal to do that. When it comes to him, it's about more than the law and governance of the galaxies, it's about family. I understand.
Rook: No, wait... Reluctantly. Braven, I understand when the law is more important than family— if I learned one thing living with my family as a child, it is that— but you have to understand that if I endorse you, I am putting utmost faith in you. I am putting my name out there and risking it. Braven Oxenhardt, if I endorse you, you can't embarrass yourself because you will be embarrassing me at the same time.
Braven: I promise to use this endorsement wisely, then. Do I have your public show of confidence?

[PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Rows upon rows of reporters chat with each other like it was a preschool cafeteria. But when the lights go out, so too does the volume. Gwen's full body projection reappears before as it approaches the podium.

Gwen: Light-ish day for you all: Magistratus Tennyson and Braven Oxenhardt for you all regarding the upcoming elections and then Ben 10,000 on... (squinting, eyes moving back and forth, then sighing) the, err, incident in the Pisciss Sector yesterday morning. She disappears as the lights return with Max and Braven suddenly at the podium. Max points to the same seat his staff member was sitting in the practice run yesterday.

Max: Yes, we'll start with you, err, Judi.

Judi, a giraffe-rhino mix of sorts, stands at her seat with a watch recording every word and converting to text.

Judi: Thank you, Magistratus. This one's for Braven, though. At a one-way mirror, we can see the woman from earlier pumping her fist proudly. We gotta know, with elections coming up: are you going to run again, or just leave the Magistratus to run unopposed?
Braven: I'm feeling the season already, Judi, and really proud of the work our Magistratus has done so far. When he took me on, I was skeptical, but through working alongside him (looking with a half-true smile over to Max) instead of against him, I've come to embrace the kind of ideals he and the people of our galaxies stand for. I've also come to see that he is an incredible leader, one whose footsteps in which I will one day follow.
Judi: You didn't answer the question, Braven. I'll reiterate: do you or do you not see yourself running against the sitting Magistratus this year?
Braven (with noticeably fire in the delivery, still glancing Max): Look, Judi, come talk to me in a few months about whether or not I'm running.
Max (alarming the press with his expression toward Braven, with the same delivery as in practice): He's basically waiting to see if I kick the bucket.

This time, though, Braven and the entire room are taken aback by the line. The woman in the back room, accompanied by a couple other nameless staff members, don't enjoy the line too much either. Even Gwen manifests, shaking her head in her palm. Max isn't sure how to respond.

Braven: Well, now, careful there, Mr. Magistratus; that's a very serious statement you have there.
Max: It's all in good fun, Braven.
Braven: I mean, I wish it could be, but... sir, you are getting older, and humans are not meant to last as long as you have. I'll be honest with you, that line really makes me think— should make all of you think: what becomes of our Magistratus's health and well-being at this age?
Judi: What are you saying?
Braven: I'm saying we need to keep the Magistratus safe. I don't think he understands what an important entity he has been throughout his life— for more of his life than not. He's so influential, and any of us would hate to lose him from working him into the ground.
Judi: So...?
Braven: So I'm saying, if Maxwell is not stepping down, then I must run if not only to make sure we can lessen the load on him.
Judi (her and everyone in the room raising their watches): Is that confirmation; you are running, then?
Braven (patting Max on the back): Yes, Judi, I am. I am going to run to save Maxwell Tennyson from himself.
Judi: Magistratus, what do you have to say about this?

Max is speechless, a scowl the room's clued. Gwen reappears at the podium, swiftly knocking out the lights.

Gwen (panicking): Okay, Ben 10,000 then.

The old wooden stage creaks before the room's seen again, barring Gwen. Ben 10,000 has taken the stage, with Kevin sitting in the background relaxing.

Ben (leaning on the podium, chin in his palm, lazily): Okay, I know we have a lot of questions about why one of the moons of Pisciss kinda blew up, so we'll just start with those. He swings his finger and finally points to a random corner of the room. Someone, unsure of if they were even picked, stands up in the back, Ben nodding them up. Yeah?
Random mess of brown goop (high-pitched voice sounding as though it were coming over a bad reception): Helmer S'Gloo of the Sticky Planet—
Ben: Question, not answers.
Helmer/Brown goop: Can you show us the new one?

As if Ben couldn't be more bored, he drops his face straight onto the podium before standing upright and transforming into a simple lion alien— one that looks almost entirely like a regular one from Earth, just with all-blue fur and walking on two.

Blue Lion Alien: Any further questions? He points to Judi. Judi?
Judi: What are you calling it?
Blue Lion Alien (sighing): Blueleone, I guess.
Judi: That name seems really bad, Ben.
Blueleone/Blue Lion Alien (sarcastically): Thanks.

[MAGISTRATUS'S OFFICE, Plumbers' HQ] Magister Patelliday barges into the room where several of Max's assistants are working together with him on reelection. When he reaches the desk, he points to the door.

Patelliday: Everyone, out; I need to speak with Max. Everyone scurries out of the room as Patelliday taps his foot and looks at his desk. With everyone gone, he keeps looking. Gwen, you can show yourself; I already know you listen in on everything that goes on here without needing a hologram.

Gwen's head appears over his desk.

Gwen: Okay, one: It's not a hologram, it's a mana-based intangible construct that reproduces my form and emotions at any chosen place; two: no, I don't have to be visible, it's just a formality. I'm not always listening either.
Max: What is it, Pat?
Patelliday: Before any of this reelection stuff begins, I need to see how healthy you are. It's very obvious that Oxenhardt is basing this whole thing on your age this time.
Max: Yes, um... see...
Gwen: Grandpa doesn't want to do the exams, so we haven't been doing them.
Patelliday: So you haven't had a check-up in how long?
Gwen: Yeah... like, um...
Max: Since the last election.

Patelliday practically slaps his face with it this time.

[APARTMENT 221B, Housing Station 22] A scaly lizard-esque (sans the tail) woman's passed out on her couch in front of a TV set to some late night news station, already reporting on Braven Oxenhardt's campaign. Her phone's on a coffee table adjacent, and its buzzing rattles her onto the floor. She gets up and grabs it, hastily picking up after reading the caller ID: “Patelliday.” She salutes, even though, it's not a video call, something she rectifies after greeting.

Lizard Woman: Yes, Magister Patelliday?
Patelliday: I need you ready and at your bay pronto; we have a special patient.
Lizard Woman: I have to be awake for a shift in—
Patelliday: This is important; you know I would wait if it wasn't.
Lizard Woman: Then I'll be right over, sir.

[ROOM 302, Medical Bay A7-Niner] Patelliday's scaly friend has donned a doctor's coat, and in spite of her state of duress and clear sleeplessness, turns on the lights in a large room layered with advanced medical technology. After clearing a bed in the center, she opens a door opposite the side she entered, letting in Patelliday and Max.

Lizard Woman (eager, softly): I suppose this is our special patient.
Patelliday: Yes. Max, this is Dr. Lazarus; I would trust her with my life and will trust her with yours. She's an everything-doctor, as we call 'em. She's of an endangered kind, so very smart.
Dr. Lazarus/Lizard Woman: Thank you, sir.
Patelliday: You are to perform a full work-up of his physical and mental health.
Dr. Lazarus: Of course. I have a question, though.
Patelliday: Yes... ?
Dr. Lazarus: “Max,” are you someone important? I mean, the Magister said you were “special” when he called, and I just— I have no idea. Neither Patelliday nor Max answers. Patelliday leaves. I'm serious, throw me a line, please. You could be the President of the Plumbers or whatever we have, and I wouldn't know... You aren't, right? Max only laughs. I'll take that as a no— sorry, I just gotta be certain.
Max: “Dr. Lazarus,” was it?
Dr. Lazarus (quick to it, like a child): Yes!
Max: Have you ever heard of the Lazarus Pit?
Dr. Lazarus (for once, sullen): Oh, please, don't get me started; it's the only thing I ever heard of in secondary, was awful. And the number of guys who thought asking me to take them back to my Lazarus Pit was cute? Uggh... I'm sorry. It's just, bad memories.
Max: Of course, I'm sorry, Doctor.
Dr. Lazarus: Liz, by the way.
Max: Liz Lazarus?
Dr. Lazarus: And also yes, my parents hated me.
Max: Nonsense, why would they?
Dr. Lazarus: I look like an Earth lizard and my name is “Liz”; my parents hated me.

Over the next several hours, we see Max undergo physical and mental duress, speaking before microphones and wearing strange alien headphones; running across the room, on the ceiling, and on walls with special boots; and finally laying flat on the sole seat in the room. She makes her conclusion.

Max: Are we done then?
Dr. Lazarus: Yes, um... Well, you've... you're healthy except for one little thing...
Max: Oh, good. What's the little thing?
Dr. Lazarus: Um, put simply... dementia, early stage dementia...

[Day 3: PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Braven stands aside Rook at the podium before another crowded room.

Braven: And I would like to really thank Rook Blonko for his personal endorsement of me. After I decided to run, I remembered that my name still leaves a bad taste in some people's mouths. But I have changed, and my friend Rook here agrees to the point that he'd put his neck out to let you guys know that I can be your next Magistratus. The Plumbers need a change of face, for the sake of Max Tennyson; I can offer that.

[Day 4: PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Max stands alone at the podium.

Max: I will not back out or back down. Don't listen to Braven Oxenhardt; I am as healthy as can... be.

[Day 5: PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Braven's running the show again, alone this time.

Braven: I respect the Magistratus, but I know this man too well— I know he's a proud man. I want to see someone other than him say he's in good health, that his well-being isn't at risk because of his position. I think it's fair to have us all request a detailed examination from his personal doctor about his state.

[Day 6: PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Patelliday is at the podium this time, Maxwell seated attentively behind him.

Patelliday: Yes, about that... see, the Magistratus has been privately seeing a doctor other than those provided here at Delta Coma's HQ. So it may take time for us to get the word out from her, but I promise you, we will let you know as soon as possible.

[APARTMENT 221B, Housing Station 22] Dr. Lazarus is watching Patelliday on the news, with a holographic cut-out of Max overlayed. She coughs out her drink in her gaping response to realizing just who Max is before receiving a call from Patelliday just after he leaves the podium.

Dr. Lazarus: Sir, you didn't tell me we were working with the Magistratus?
Patelliday: You didn't need to know to get the job done. And since you didn't know we even had a Magistratus, I doubt it would've made a difference.
Dr. Lazarus: Well— It does!
Patelliday: It doesn't. But I didn't call you to discuss that.
Dr. Lazarus: You want to discuss how I'm going to lie to the public about how Max is doing.
Patelliday: Liz, Braven Oxenhardt is a vindictive, divisive entity. Telling this little lie is better than having him as your next Magistratus, because if you don't, Max is out for good.
Dr. Lazarus: He can't be that bad.
Patelliday: Well, you haven't met the guy to judge, now have you?
Dr. Lazarus (wondering): No... no I haven't.
Patelliday: Lizzie, what are you thinking?
Dr. Lazarus: I demand you let me meet him.
Patelliday: You can't—
Dr. Lazarus: Let me meet him or I'm 100% telling everyone about this, even if you won't let me anywhere near that press room.

[PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] In the corridor beyond, Patelliday sighs as the call ends, only to pick it back up again for another.

Patelliday: Yelrah... I need to speak to Mr. Oxenhardt.

[Day 7: INTERROGATION ROOM 51, Plumbers' HQ] Behind a one-way mirror, Patelliday watches into a poorly lit room where Dr. Lazarus, dolled up with her hair not in shambles for once, in a white overcoat, red dress partly visible underneath, is seated upright across a four-meter floating table from Braven Oxenhardt, poorly kempt and slouching. The room is and has been silent for a while, but the doctor knows how to break the ice.

Dr. Lazarus: Doctor Liz Lazarus. You know why I'm here: Magistratus Maxwell Tennyson presents signs of early stage dementia. Lazarus can hear thumping on the other end of the mirror, clearly that of a crying Patelliday. You can almost feel the “why have you forsaken meeeee!” Laughing at her own joke but then miming some kind of zipper over her mouth. But back to the topic at hand. Mr. Oxenhardt, I know you're a good man— I know how good of a man you are— and I don't want you to base the entire race on the Magistratus's condition. This just looks ugly on you. Besides, looking where he rates mentally, I believe it'll be years before he needs to retire— so many so that it just doesn't make any sense. Yeah, I'll give the papers what they want and tell them he has dementia, but I'll also explain the facts: he's fine to work right now and for a good while. I have no idea what kind of incredible diet allows him to live like this at such an age, but he's doing it and doing it well. You have to let him— eyes up, Mr. Oxenhardt— you have to let him be.

She walks to the door, and with it partly ajar, Braven's already there above her fighting to keep it closed. She lets go.

Braven: Lass, I promise to stop publicizing this, but for his own sake, I will not stop running for this exact reason.
Dr. Lazarus: Keep your promises to yourself.

She easily throws the door open, knocking Braven off his balance.

[Day 29: PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Gwen's projection stands before Max in the corridor before the press room.

Gwen: Are you ready?
Max: Of course.
Gwen: Did you take your pills?
Max (suddenly agitated): For the love of— Yes, you don't need to keep reminding me.
Gwen (silent for a moment, puzzled by this entirely... un-Max-like reaction): Okay... Take them after alright?

Max shakes his head as he turns around and heads out to the podium. Gwen appears over there, dimming the light and introing him. The lights flicker back on to welcome him.

Max: Judi?
Judi: Braven's dropped out, but your doctor never really spoke for you. Is that it?
Max: I want to thank Braven so much for leaving the running. He really had my best interest at heart— that's important. He knows as well as I do that I'm a very healthy... guy... man...

In the back room, Gwen's construct stands with Lazarus and the woman on Max's staff, all questioning why he's paused.

Gwen (attempting for under her breath): He hasn't taken his pills...
Dr. Lazarus (frenzied): What pills?! Gwen turns to her without a word, just her mouth agape. The two look back to Max, silent, desolate, staring off into nothing mid-sentence. Everyone in the room, reporters included, are puzzled. Pull him, right now.

[ROOM 302, Medical Bay A7-Niner] Max is being rushed on a floating bed through the medical bay and into the room. Gwen and Patelliday slide him very easily into place on the chair as Lazarus launches all the equipment in the room.

Max (uncharacteristically irritable): I'm okay, let me go.
Dr. Lazarus (speaking quickly): Sir, if you don't let me get a detailed examination of you right now, I will be forced to require your resignation from the post of Magistratus on the grounds of mental instability.

Max lays flat and lets Lazarus go. Within a half hour, she's got her results.

Max (plainly): Gwen, can you wait outside?
Gwen (her construct suddenly sporting full color and depth): No, Grandpa, I'm staying.
Max: Please, pumpkin.
Gwen: I'll be listening into—
Max: You know why I want you outside.
Gwen: But, Grandpa...

He looks at her, squinting but blankly. He very slowly closes his eyes, twitching as he does so. His head drops and very quickly it's in his palms. She becomes solid; she makes a physical presence just to hug him before dashing out of the room, looking back after she's out the door. Inside, Max looks up with a wet face.

Dr. Lazarus: Sir... I can't let you run again. Those pills you've been taking... those over-the-counter things you never told me about, that have been keeping your body working so well, are too vital; you miss one day and your mind could deteriorate as it would over the course of 20 years... in a day. You need to be within arm's length at all times in case you miss it, but most importantly, you cannot miss it ever again.
Max: Then Braven will win.
Patelliday: Well, not necessarily... Max, I think it's time we start talking about something we should have a long time ago: your proper replacement, someone we handpick.
Max: I need Gwen.
Patelliday: Not to offend, sir, but Gwendolyn is not the bes—
Max: No, she knows me as well as I know me. If this thing— if this dementia— is as bad as Dr. Lazarus says, then I want her guidance with this. She'll be a vital part in picking my successor.

Patelliday nods as he heads for the door. He calls for her out of earshot, but as he comes back in, he looks to Max with a smile.

Patelliday: Ben is also not an option.

Max chokes a snicker here.

[PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Ben is coming from the podium to the back room where he's to trade off with Braven. The latter gets up as the former sits, but not without engaging each other.

Braven: I really do hope for the best from your father— eh, grandfather, my mistake; I regularly work with people whose fathers I'm familiar with.
Ben (lazily): Mmm.
Braven: Is your father not a Plumber?
Ben: My father wasn't a Plumber, no; not everyone in the family has to be a Plumber. Matter of fact, I'm a Plumber in-name-only.
Braven: Ah... well, my condolences. I think your father did amazing work in his time.
Ben: What could you possibly know of my dad's work?
Braven: My apologies; I was... referring to you, dear boy.
Ben (pulling back, embarrassed): I'm, uh...
Braven: No need. My boy, I'm not all bad, like I'm sure everyone you work with has made me out to be simply because I want the best for Maxw— for the Magistratus. As Gwen disappears and the lights flash on, Braven is welcomed before the reporters. It's time. Max Tennyson can no longer be our Magistratus, not after that show of just how senile he is now. His eyes gape, and everyone in the room gasps at his gall to say what he just said. Almost seems like he didn't even expect to say it. Magistratus Tennyson has genuinely lost his mind, but don't worry, I am the future face of the Plumbers. Look, I know the truth about Max that everyone's felt but no one wanted to hear: Max has dementia. I know this for a fact— I'm not making it up. It's why I dropped out of the race, because I was told to personally by Dr. Lazarus since it wasn't to truly affect him for “years,” she said. But here he is, gone off the deep end.

[EXECUTIVE LOUNGE, Plumbers' HQ] Rook pays close attention to the projection of Braven making a mockery of himself— and by extension, his endorser. He's tapped on the shoulder by one of Gwen's mana constructs that gestures him to follow her.

[MAGISTRATUS'S OFFICE, Plumbers' HQ] Gwen's construct disappears after getting Rook into the room. He closes the door behind him and walks up to Max's desk, flanked there by Dr. Lazarus, Gwen, Ben, and Patelliday. Gwen's presence isn't as a construct... again, she's actually here.

Max (desolate): I'm... glad you could make it.
Rook: What is going on?
Dr. Lazarus: It's all true... the Magistratus does have dementia, and it appears to be approaching its later stages.
Rook: As I thought... I am glad you told me, but I am not sure—
Max: Rook, we want you to be the next Magistratus. We want you to run against Braven Oxenhardt.
Rook: What? I can't—
Max: Do you want him to win? Like this, I'm not going to get any votes, not anymore.
Rook: You have to try, sir.
Max: I cannot try. Glancing Lazarus. My doctor will not allow it.
Ben: Rook, you're a natural leader; you've shown that all your life, even when you were just starting to be my partner as a kid.
Max: You were every bit as destined to do great things as any of us, as myself— and this is the time to show it. It won't be your first accomplishment, and I hope to God it's not your last, but son, this is gonna be one of those times they write about. Rook, I can't give you my endorsement— the people can't trust me anymore.
Ben: But we can.
Gwen: I know you can do this, Rook. You're literally the Plumbers' finest.
Rook (saluting): I'll need to think about this.
Dr. Lazarus: Rook, Oxenhardt wants it too much... now that he's running unopposed, he doesn't care what he does. Make him care; seal his fate.

Rook nods before heading out the door.

Ben: “Seal his fate?” Melodramatic much? Dr. Lazarus (shrugging): Eh.

Just beyond the room, Rook catches another projection of Braven, still talking at the podium. He just wildly shakes his head and stomps over to the press room.

[PRESS ROOM, Plumbers' HQ] Braven's wrapped up his segment and walked into the back room as everyone's departing, just to get away from him. Among them, the former Magistrata sneaks away.

Braven: Magistrata, is that you?

She turns around and puts on the worst of fake grins— more grimace than anything.

Magistrata (a high-brow formal, English accent): Braven. Hello.
Braven: I was wondering if I could get your endorsement, because I'm fairly certain Rook is going to come out and turn his back on me any day now.
Magistrata (dryly): After that display? No, of course, anything for you.
Braven: Can always count on you.
Magistrata: I really do hope you know I'm kidding.
Braven: Yes, I know. You know, you're quite the witch.
Magistrata: And yourself quite the bitch.
Braven (sighing happily): Kick the bucket, please. I can't wait to piss on your grave.

Braven walks away.

Magistrata: Safe travels, Oxenhardt.

Gwen appears at the podium, forgetting to dim the lights as she speaks to the few reporters that haven't left yet.

Gwen: We have Rook Blonko, special case here.

She disappears, as Rook braves the podium alone for the first time.

Rook (in spite of the small crowd, he still darts among them cowardly): I regret endorsing Braven Oxenhardt, I want to start with that. Hands raise about the light room. He points awkwardly to Judi. Sorry, I only know her name— Judi?
Judi: Yes, thank you, Rook. Why did you endorse him in the first place?
Rook: He presented me with the idea that the Magistratus was not okay, that this was for his safety. I knew as much as any of you, but I also knew that— I know that— people are unpredictable sometimes. I guess, in that way, they are predictable— predictable unpredictable. I'm sorry. He sighs then collects himself. I expected that out of Braven; I felt something that was telling me what I was doing was wrong, but I didn't know... I couldn't know how wrong I was. You know, you try to be cautious after you hear of others' failures but you still never learn till you do it yourself. He stops then starts again. I stand for the Plumbers continuing to make the galaxies safe; I always will, and I thought Braven could do that. He can't, and the Plumbers have made it abundantly clear that there's no one who can do it like the Magistratus always has... but I think I can try. Lend me your show of confidence; I have never steered you wrong, please.

A plump Necrofriggian in the back of the room stands up.

Necrofriggian (scratchy voice): Cyanne Walsh of Frozen ExtraNews. So you're running for Magistratus?
Rook (grinning): Yes, I am running to become the next Magistratus of the Plumbers.
Cyanne/Necrofriggian: Have you been fed lines by Max Tennyson or his staff? We know you're close, and we know Braven isn't.
Rook (stopping for a moment, recalling something Max said about honesty and the public): I haven't been fed lines. I'll have you know, the Magistratus— as you should be referring to him— did reach out to me along with Ben Tennyson, Gwen Tennyson, his doctor, and Magister Patelliday. None of their names should be hurt by this, but they wanted me to know that they back me. But before we got out here, I told them only that I would think about it because I didn't think I wouldn even run— but now I have to, to separate myself from the Magistratus, and to not only keep the galaxies safe but to make it better in ways we all know Oxenhardt will not. I am duty-bound to be his foil. Unlike him, I'm not going to tell you I'm the Magistratus in every way just with a new face. I am not him— I'm not that incredible man. He told me never to be 100% honest with you guys, because you have a strong tendency to make people regret being honest with your sensationalism... and all. I dare you to, though. He collects himself again. Pardon my frankness.
Judi: Please, we appreciate it more than the double-talk. Maybe if you guys actually were that honest all the time, we wouldn't have to go digging for headlines.
Rook: Oh, we are honest. Honesty is Magistratus Tennyson's only policy; he's never lied, just never told the full story.

[Day 88: PARTY DECK, Plumbers' HQ] An assortment of powerful aliens have gathered to inaugurate the next Magistratus. Ben and Rook are chatting.

Ben: You got me again...
Rook: That comedic ruse never gets old, but it will be a challenge to perform the duties of Magistratus as well as your grandfather has.
Max (adjacent Rook): Nonsense, Rook, you're gonna do just fine. Truth is, you've been the top man around here for years.
Rook: That is kind of you to say, Magist—
Max (giving off some light visceral sound as he waves Rook to pause): Call me Max, might as well get used to it.
Ben: I know the invitation said no gifts, but I just couldn't show up empty-handed.

We pan up to Dr. Animo adjacent Ben's flaunting hands.

Dr. Animo (desolate): Finally retiring, Maxwell? This place won't be the same without you.
Max: We kept your room just like you left it.

Max sees Liz across the way and salutes Rook on his way over.

Liz: So you didn't tell him?
Max: You told me not to tell anyone.
Liz: That didn't stop you from telling Gwen. Bit unfair to him: “Yay, I'm Magistratus.” Next day...
Max: This is easier.
Liz: For whom?
Max: ...For me.
Liz: Shouldn't it be easy for him, too?
Max: Can't we just leave it a bittersweet victory?
Liz: Sir, I've only gotten to know you over these last few months, and believe me, it has been an honor. But you know I can't settle— you know you can't. Tell me honestly, tomorrow, I cut you off these pills and your mind feels your age... are you gonna be happy knowing this what you did last?
Max: I'll be proud of all that I did... but I'll have my regrets.
Liz: Wanna add one more thing you're proud of? You just have to walk over there and tell him.

Max simply stares over at Rook from here.


Also available here

and in another we have Mig!

Mig's Entry
The following content contains profanity that may not be suitable for readers of all ages. Please proceed with caution.


It was sweet. It was lovely. It put a smile on my face, a smile that has never appeared on my face before. Not once, not ever again. Sure, I've experienced happiness in my life...long ago...but this...this is different. This is exhilarating, sensational, real. A real smile. Real happiness.

I killed her!

Why did I do it? Doesn't fucking matter. I did it, the deed is done, her life has ended, I am no longer bound by the shackles of morality. I don't have to deal with the bullshit anymore; no more faking, no more hiding, no more...frowning. Hm. I'm frowning now, I'm not sure why.

Just a moment ago I was in total bliss, I was the best me I could ever hope to be. I was in the best state of mind. It was like I was looking down upon reality, like I was in a higher plane of existence. You feel like a God when you finally take a life. It's...indescribable.

I...killed her!

HAHA, YES, I FINALLY DID IT! I murdered her ass, I ENDED HER LIFE, in every possible way imaginable. It was amazing, it was just...amazing. Damn, I feel really queasy and anxious now. I-I-I'm not really sure why, to be honest.

I did this perfectly, I did it so secretly. No one could have p-p-possibly seen it. No one, not anyone. She...she didn't expect it. No one expected it. OH, BOY! I can't...can't wait to see everyone's faces when they see it w-w-was me...! The one who ended...her life...!

I...killed her...

I'm starting to rethink...nah, never mind, it's all bullshit. Bollocks. Who gives a damn? I don't, oh no-no sirree, I don't care at all. The deed is done, thank God, and I no longer have to deal with it anymore...except...I feel kinda...empty.

There's a black hole sucking me up inside, it's inevitable. I can't...escape it. My body feels numb. Well, I dropped the knife; my legs gave way. I must be tired. I ended her life, after all...


No. No more. Please, I'm sorry. I am so, so, sorry. I didn't mean to do it! I didn't end her life!The Devil made me! Oh, who the fuck am I kidding? I'm staring at the knife now, I picked it back up. It's really shiny, really sharp. It gets the job done, certainly. Maybe I didn't do it...I'm just caught up in this m-m-mess. Yes? No? Maybe? Dear, God, I'm in denial...

Funny...I never imagined killing anyone, but here I am, looking at the bloody corpse in front of me. It was done, wasn't it? Yes! No! ME. I am special. I did it...which means...I don't have to do this anymore. I can just...end it all.

Yeah, just end it allNo more pain, no more faking, no more...anything, really. No one loves me, anyway. I killed the only one who did. Call me crazy, call me disgusting, call me whatever. Devil. I DID THIS EVIL ACT. I CAN NEVER BE FORGIVEN, I CAN NEVER REPENT FOR MY SINS! I CAN NEVER WALK AMONG THE POPULACE, MASKING MYSELF AS AN A MAN OF PURITY AND INNOCENCE! I AM CURSED, I AM GROTESQUE. I AM THE ONE WHO KILLED HER. I DID IT. MY PRIDE CORRUPTED MY FEEBLE MIND , AND THIS IS THE PENANCE I MUST PAY.

This is the end for me.

This is the end of my sins.

The Devil...I...killed her.

and the winner is...


I simply loved the detail in Mig's over Coke's, but both are really good.

See you guys tomorrow for the main blog by Mig!

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