Well, I'm not dead. I've dropped fanfiction almost completely, though, save for a few spare ideas. Since this is one of my stories that I feel the most guilty over not updating, I figured, why not? Here you go.

Hopefully my writing and storytelling has improved. (I edited what I could, but don't be expecting a masterpiece.)

Also, how did this get over 100 reviews without me updating?

Chapter 11

Beyond a Triangle

Manny stared out the window, head resting on his arms. He was unbelievably tired at the moment, and had trouble keeping his eyes open. A yawn escaped his mouth. By this point, it should be obvious that he had gotten no sleep the night before.

From the time Frida had left, up till now, a deep feeling of regret had rested itself in his subconscious. It made his body feel incredibly heavy. He could still feel the sting from the girl's slap on his cheek. At this point, he thought he deserved another one.

Another slap, yes. A bucket of ice-cold water dumped on his head? Not by any means.

Manny's body jolted upright upon contact with the water, almost instantaneously. That did nothing to help heal his still-aching body. He coughed a bit. "What the hell was that!"

Zoe had half a mind to hit him with the bucket used previously. "You idiot! Stop daydreaming when I'm talking to you!" Manny blinked.

"Huh…? Oh, yeah… Sorry…" He scratched his head for a moment. "Can I have a towel?" This time, Zoe did hit him with the bucket. Manny clutched his head in pain, biting his bottom lip to hold back a yelp. Zoe snorted.

"Idiots who doze off while I'm teaching don't get towels." Manny glared at her. Man, I hate that bird bitch.

Manny had gone to Zoe's house early in the morning. It was quite easy for him to wake up, seeing as he barely fell asleep the whole night. He wanted to get his 'White Pantera 101' lessons over with as quickly as possible, so he could get to the festival. Maybe Frida would loosen up and forgive him if he showed up to watch her performance like he so dearly wanted to.

"Well, sorry, teacher," Manny muttered, spitting the words as if they were nails. "I'm just not in the mood to listen to you lecture, even if it is on White Pantera or El Tigre the First." Zoe folded her arms and raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"Then why did you even bother coming?" she questioned, not an ounce of emotion in her voice. Manny sighed, and promptly went back to staring out the window.

"I dunno…" he mumbled a reply. "I just wanted to learn something so I could head to the festival… Guess I'm not into-"

"Alrighty then."

"Eh?" Manny turned his attention to Zoe. She unfolded her arms and grabbed her backpack.

"Let's go."



The almighty bucket of doom made contact with Manny's head again. While he was bent over in pain, Zoe gave her answer to the question. "The festival, you idiot. Obviously, sitting here and talking to you isn't working. So let's go somewhere more lively. Okay?" Manny exhaled slowly and stood up, careful not to hurt himself again. However, one realization made him pause.

"Uh, Zoe? This isn't a date, is-?"

"Hey!" Manny blinked. Zoe was already standing near the door. "You coming or what, Rivera?"

"… Yeah, coming."

Center of Town…

The entrance to the festival was marked by a huge banner with the words VIVA LA PANTERA written in bold, red letters. Manny wasn't paying attention to the banner, however. No, he was paying more attention to the crowd of people that had gathered before city hall. He couldn't believe that he had missed this for the past few years. Was he really that dense?

A small voice in the back of his mind answered, "Yes."

"Oi, Manito." Manny turned to Zoe, trying not to gag at the nickname she had just come up with. What is she, my mother? "We gonna head in or what?"

"That's why we came here, isn't it?" Manny folded his arms. "We're here because you're going to-"

"Teach you about the Pantera, yeah, yeah," Zoe finished for him. "Like I don't know that. But we can't have a little fun while you're learning?" Oh boy, I don't like the sound of that…

"And by that, you mean…?" Zoe rolled her eyes sky high, and grabbed Manny's arm.

"Just come on." With that, she pulled him past the banner and into the festival, ignoring his protests.

Behind the stage…

"Friiiidaaaaa! Can't we take a break!"

"No! Not until we get the song down perfectly!"

"But it's already perfect!"

Frida felt like smashing her brains out with her guitar. Why wouldn't Rosa and Teeny see that they had to practice! They were going to be performing in front of the entire city, for God's sake! If they messed up… No, I shouldn't say that. We're not going to mess up. Rosa continued to work on her hair.

"Frida, hun, it ain't gonna get much better than it already is," she argued. "Why don't ya' take a break? Get something to drink, cool yourself down. Just 'cause you had a fight with that dim-witted boy of yours, ya don't need to take it out on us." On reflex, Frida yelled,

"He's not my boyfriend!" Then she reexamined her friend's comment. "Wait, how do you know about that?" Rosa held up her cell phone.

"Did you forget about the forty-minute rant you left on my answering machine?" she replied, trying not to smirk. Frida groaned and threw her hands up in the air.

"But it's Zoe Aves! How can I not be angry about that! JERK!"

"Um… Frida?" Teeny interrupted. "Maybe you should take Rosa's advice and calm yourself down… Why don't you go get some lemonade?" Frida huffed.

"I don't need a break."

"But you do need a coolin' down," Rosa interjected. "I think the heat's finally gettin' to ya." Frida folded her arms tightly and marched out. Rosa and Teeny high-fived each other.

"One churro, please."


Frida took a long sip of her soda while she waited for her snack to be ready. She tried to keep herself from crushing her can in her fist from stress. She hated that she just could not relax. Everybody around her looks so carefree and happy, even in this spicy cesspool of crime and villainy. Even Manny and Zoe looked happy-

Wait, what?

Frida did a triple-take. She looked back into the crowd, and spotted her best friend and worst enemy. Together. In the same place. Within a two foot radius of each other. Shock came to her first, but was quickly overcome by three levels of absolute fury. Oh, no he didn't.

"Miss, your churro-"

"Screw the churro!" she screamed at the churro salesman, storming away and into the crowd.

"…And that's why the villains of the Rivera family use battle suits instead of Objects of Power." Manny chuckled a bit.

"You know, that's a really stupid reason, Zoe," he sneered. Zoe bit back the urge to hit him with her bucket again.

"Hey, I'm only explaining it to you," she replied curtly. "It's not my fault. Blame circumstances."

"Nah, I'd rather blame my idiot ancestors for creating the circumstances in the first place." At the (Albeit rather lame) joke, Zoe laughed; it was a quiet one, covered by her hand, but still a laugh. Manny scratched behind his head. Man, when she's not acting all dark and scary, she seems almost normal Before he could yell at himself for thinking that, somebody came up behind him and poured something cold, wet, and sticky on top of his head.

Manny nearly leapt into the air from the cold sensation running down his back; not only was the liquid freezing, but somehow ice cubes had found their way down his shirt and jacket. Second time today, man, second time today! He spun around to give the person a piece of his mind, but stopped midway. Oh, shit.

"F-F-Frida!" he stuttered. As soon as he saw the fire in her dark blue eyes, he knew he was royally screwed. He couldn't decipher exactly what she was feeling, but he damn well knew anger was definitely there. Frida crushed her soda can in her fist.

"Manuel Pablo Gutierrez O'Brian Equihua Rivera!" Frida yelled in his face. She was the only one who knew his full name, and she used it even less than he did; and because of that, he knew just how fucked over he really was. "What the hell are you doing here! With her!" Manny stuttered. It was impossible for him to get any words out. "I thought you said that you couldn't come to the festival because you were going to that bitch's house!" Zoe decided to step in at this moment, ignoring the foul nickname.

"For you information, Frida," she sneered. "He did come to my house. Early in the morning. But, you know, we decided to take our date outside. It's no good to stay inside all day." Both Manny and Frida froze. Manny looked between the two girls in panic. If there was one place he didn't want to be, it was in the middle of the next world war – Which was most certainly going to be created by these two at some point in time. He would just rather it not happen now, before he had a chance to talk with Frida. Wonder if I should just bury myself right now…

After getting over the initial shock of the comment, Frida marched over to Zoe, jabbing her in the chest with her index finger. "Your date?" she repeated, her tone of voice more deadly than a cobra's venom. "What do you mean, your date?" Zoe smirked, not fazed by the bluenette's anger at all.

"Just exactly what I said," she answered. To emphasize it, she latched herself onto Manny's arm, and hugged it tightly. "Manny and I are on a date."

Manny was just about done with this. He tried to pull away from Zoe, but every time he did, she just gripped him tighter like a boa constrictor. "Let go of me, Zoe!" He frantically turned to Frida, stuttering again. "Frida, it's not what it looks like, I swear! I only went over to her house because she said she could teach me about White Pantera, then she said coming here would be more lively, and I'd learn more if I'm awake, so-!"


Frida's hand made contact with Manny's cheek for a second time. Only this time, there was much more sting to it. It wasn't because she had slapped him harder. It was because of the driving force behind it.

Manny was torn between options; he could either yell at her, or he could get yelled at. Although neither of those options helped him, he knew one of them would happen. What he didn't count on, though, was seeing a lone tear in the corner of Frida's eye.

He waited for her to say something, waited for the outburst, but it never came. That really did it. Her not saying anything was more upsetting than having her scream at him. Manny bit the inside of his upper lip. "Frida, just listen-" he started. He didn't get to finish, however. Frida was already running back to the stage at full speed. "Frida!"


Manny looked down at Zoe. She detached herself from his arm, and fixed her dress. She had a wicked smirk on her face, like she had just won some sort of cheated victory. Manny narrowed his eyes. "What was that, Aves?" Zoe examined her fingernails.

"I won; it's simple as that."

"Won what!" Manny grabbed her shoulder tightly. "Did you come here just to make Frida feel horrible!" Zoe gave him one of her innocent smiles, which was very obviously not innocent in the slightest.

"You make it sound like it's a bad thing." Manny had to keep himself from snarling at her. He took his hand back.

"If you weren't a girl, I'd-! I'd-! Graah!" He didn't bother to finish. Manny turned around, almost completely forgetting that Zoe was there, and began muttering words incoherently to go along with his thoughts.

Man, I screwed up… Really screwed up. Frida hates my guts now more than she does Zoe's. Probably. … And she was crying… When was the last time I saw her do that? He couldn't remember; that was troublesome. He groaned again, stopped pacing, and turned to Zoe again. "You know what, Aves! You're a real-! Eh?" He stopped short, upon noticing that Zoe was no longer around. He looked around. "Geez. She gives me a helluva' hard time, and walks away without saying anything. She is a bitch."

"People of Miracle City!"

The intercom voice was loud and clear. Manny recognized the voice as the mayor's. He spotted the mayor atop the nearby stage, only able to speak into the microphone because of a wooden stool.

"Thank you all for gathering for our celebration! This means you all still hold White Pantera close to your heart!" Manny snorted at this. Who is he kidding? These people just love a good party. The mayor continued. He gestured over to a tall, curtain-covered object next to him. "I will now unveil the greatest memory, White Pantera's own weapon of choice…" The mayor pulled the sheet off of what was revealed to be a pedestal. On the pedestal, there were golden boots. "The Bronze Boots of Truth!"

The crowd oo'd and aah'd at the unveiling. Manny was also staring. The boots looked shiny and new, as if White Pantera had been using them yesterday. Oh, wow. The boots… He remembered Zoe saying that, if someone touched the boots, the truth would come out of them immediately. It didn't even matter what the truth was about, but the person definitely couldn't lie. Whatever came out of the person's mouth was unpredictable. That was definitely a word that described this day to a letter.

And it just kept getting even more so.

When someone shouted about vultures were circling in the sky, nobody took notice… But when those vultures decided to swoop down on the crowd, everyone noticed. Especially since they weren't actual vultures. No, they definitely weren't vultures.

The so-called "vultures" turned out to be, from what many could see, three villains. Female villains. With bird-themed armor. As soon as they touched the ground, people started to cry out and scatter all over the place. The villains didn't seem to favor this movement.

"Oi, everybody! Stop what you're doing immediately!" the tallest shouted. "And shut your mouths while you're at it!" She was glad in a black-and-green suit. Her voice, while obviously feminine, held as much authority in it as a man's did, and caused the locals to listen. For the most part, it was silent. The woman snorted. "Good. Now that we have your attention…" One of the smaller women, one who had a black-and-orange scheme, stepped forward. She carried a scepter with what appeared to be a chicken's head topping it.

"Oya, Mayor!" she yelled, pointing at the small, shuddering man on the stage with the aforementioned scepter. With such a feeble-sounding voice, one could tell she was old. Very old. "Give us those boots you have there!"

"As for everyone else," the third member of the trio added on. She sounded much younger than her companions, and favored the color purple. "Hand over your valuables before we're given a reason to attack!"

Manny cussed beneath his breath. Great, just what I needed right now. Not one, not two, but three villains to take care of. He wasn't completely adverse to fighting them, however. He needed to blow off a lot of steam. This would probably lessen his stress level a bit. Quickly taking in his surroundings, and making sure nobody would see him, Manny dashed off to somewhere he could transform without being caught.

FFffff. I hate to get everyone's hopes up with an update. This is more for me than you guys, sadly enough. I have this overly nagging voice in the back of my head whenever I think of fanfiction, telling me to get my ass in gear.

Damn you, conscious. Damn you along with my dead cotton candy gun.