Tikki raises a hand, and the sugarkids freeze in their tracks. "You're being very, very naughty," she whispers, taking a step towards them, reaching towards the girl with the red licorice curls.
"Don't you dare!" Chloé screeches, stepping in front of the girl, slapping Tikki across the face. "Don't you dare touch her! My Daddy's gonna send you to jail!"
"Your Daddy," Tikki responds, "is going to be too busy grieving the loss of his darling daughter at the hands of the maniac who somehow slipped through security, killing three other kids and himself, to worry about confectioners."
"Then I'll send you to hell myself!" she snaps... before Plagg comes up behind her, injecting what looks like frosting into her neck. Chloé slumps to the ground, unconscious.
There is an opening towards the elevator. Adrien runs.
"Hey, kid, stop!" Plagg shouts, as Adrien hovers his hand over the button.
Up and Out.
"You don't want me to press this. Do you?" he meets the man's eyes. "I'm not the 'least rotten' sir. I'm rotten to the core. I just know how to hide it." He tilts his head. "Let my friends go, and you can negotiate. Or I hit this, it takes me the hell out of here, and I come back with the police. What'll it be?"
The confectioners exchang a nervous glance. They hadn't expected Adrien Agreste to fight back, especially after a conversation Plagg had staged with the boy's father, offering a candy bar for the perfect boy who always did what he was told to. And they absolutely do not want that button pressed.
"You can press it if you like," Tikki shrugs. "If you want to share the same fate as the rest of them. It's your own life you're throwing away, not ours."
Adrien looks up at Marinette, who nods in encouragement, and raises his fist, swinging it down towards the button.
Adrien looks up, smiling- a perfect, innocent smile. "Yes Mr. Plagg?"
"How much do you want?"
"I want you to place Manon Chamack, Bridgette Dexter, Chloé Bourgeois, Félix Malheur, Alya Cesaire, Allegra Mellodie, and Marinette Dupain-Cheng in this elevator, and let them leave the factory. Alive, and without risk of being brought back," he places a finger on the button.
Plagg and Tikki share a glance. "After what's been seen today?"
"They talk, you take them back. We all know you can do it. None of us are willing to risk that."
Marinette meets his eyes, and shakes her head slightly. Adrien sighs, shaking his head.
"Too late!" he chirps, bringing his fist down on 'Up and Out.'
Plagg lunges toward him as the elevator skyrockets up, but it's too fast... far too fast, and suddenly Adrien is staring at the arm, fingers still reaching toward him, on the floor, blood spilling from where the doors sliced it from the body it was once attached to... fingers still MOVING, as the arm drags itself across the floor, towards the button...
Adrien shouts in horror, kicking at the arm, but it grabs onto his ankle, nails biting into Adrien's skin, cutting through flesh, into muscle painfully, and slowly starting to move up his leg, each motion digging into his leg deeply.
Adrien grabs the arm, and pulls, hard, before the scent reaches him. That scent is not of blood... it's cherry syrup.
The arm is made of candy.
Adrien tries not to let his stomach turn as he rips the arm off, the nails tearing at chunks of his flesh, and he wonders what exactly 'Up and Out' does...
He discovers it when the elevator strikes the glass roof, and both promptly shatter.
Félix stares at the crumpled pile of candy where Plagg, until very recently, stood. "What on Earth...?"
"We need to run," Bridgette says softly. "Adrien made us an exit, look!"
And she is indeed correct, for there is a hidden staircase behind the elevator's path of destruction, leading toward a light at the top. She sets Félix on her shoulder, and dashes up the staircase, as fast as her new body allows for- a surprisingly high speed. Alya grabs Chloé, following them, and a girl with candy-floss hair, Allegra, slowly steps out after.
Marinette stands in front of Tikki, blocking her passage after the runaway Sugarkids.
"Move!" the woman hisses, blue eyes darkening. "Move before the master rots me!"
"You know you deserve it." Marinette's voice is high, and cold, and sugary sweet. "You know you deserve it for all the children you killed. You know you deserve it for my life. For Adrien's. For all theirs. You know you deserve it!"
"They will never survive outside the factory. They'll melt."
"Then what's the point of this?" Tikki cries out, falling to her knees. "Why let them out?"
"They will be seen. It will be known what this factory makes. And chocolate... chocolate will stop selling when they realize it's made of children."
"The best taste in the world..."
Tikki crumbles away into a pile of sugar, leaving Marinette shaking, as she falls to her knees, and finally, finally, she's able to cry. "A-adrien, I'm sorry..."
"What is there to be sorry for?"
Marinette spins around, eyes going wide at the sight of the boy, coming down in a shattered glass elevator, his leg a mess of flesh and glass lacerations covering him, but...
"Alive?" she whispers.
"I can heal you," she says quietly. "But you'll never be able to leave. You'll be like me. And when the factory gets shut down, you'll die like me."
"Then we'll just have to keep it open, won't we?" he grins. "But first, I'd like to know- who really runs this candy store?"
Marinette jumps in front of Adrien, as a very old man makes his way out the door. A man with twinkling eyes and a disarming smile. "I'm the Master Miraculous. And I'm very disappointed in you, Adrien."
For some reason, Adrien feels a sinking, sad feeling at the thought of disappointing this man. "What? Why?"
"Your father said you were a good boy. That you listened to adults. That you were more smart than clever, and more calculated than creative. Perfect for my needs..." he sighs, shaking his head. "But you've proved to be a destructive little brat... a destructive... little..."
"No, please!" Marinette cries, spreading her arms out to shield Adrien. "Don't hurt him! It was all me, he was just listening to me!"
"Now now, little girl, you'll get your candy too," the master promises. "After all, I need new head confectioners, don't I?" He kicks the pile of sugar that was Tikki. "Maybe not human this time. Something easier to train. Like.. a Sugarcat. And a Sugarbug. Those will sell, don't you think?"