The story so far: Pete Robinson was just another self-sufficient, lackadaisical otaku until one day, a red comet fell from the sky which turned out to be the super-powered paragon of justice and all-around busybody, the Crimson Ranger. Pete is conned by the dying Crimson Ranger into taking the Red One Changer and taking on the mantle of the Crimson Ranger. Just as Pete reluctantly agrees to take the badge, a fabulously beautiful costumed vigilante who calls herself Miss Vanity, appeared from out of nowhere seeking the badge. Pete reluctantly chooses to transform into the Crimson Ranger for no apparent reason. Although the battle is desperate, Pete's unyielding defense forces Miss Vanity to retreat and regroup. Pete collapses shortly afterwards only to be awoken by the spirit of the original Crimson Ranger who now resides in his head as a twin-tailed 13 year-old Japanese schoolgirl named Giselle Orchardwither. Soon after his latest encounter with a powerful monster courtesy of Wrath's light of rage, Pete returns to his apartment to find the lights on and is shocked to find out that Miss Vanity was decked out on his couch, apparently waiting for him. How will Pete handle this unexpected turn of events?
Pete Robinson: Pete is the epitome of average. The only notable thing about his character is that he is a video game and anime otaku and he loves to spend his meager salary importing weird things from Japan. Despite his hobbies, Pete is the type of person who does not hold strong beliefs and would rather go with the flow and avoid conflict if possible. Pete works as an employee at Games R' Go.
Sheryl Harrison: A good friend of Pete who works as a manager at the hobby shop that Pete hangs out in. She has a very nerdy appearance and wears dark-rimmed glasses and has frizzy hair that looks quite reminiscent of overcooked spaghetti. Sheryl can be a bit of a control freak and likes to keep her shop nice and tidy. Lately, she has taken an interest in a comic book known as "The Adventures of Black Trojan"
Primela Rosenkreuz: Pete's co-worker who serves as the secretary of Games R' Go. A young woman with a model-like appearance that matches her trans-atlantic accent when she speaks. Most people wonder why she sticks to such a mundane job when she could easily be mistaken for a fashion model or actress. She seems to be on good terms with Pete.
Giselle Orchardwither: The original Crimson Ranger who currently only exists in Pete's head. She takes the form of a 13 year-old twin-tailed Japanese schoolgirl with a snarky personality. Possesses supreme mastery of the pwnage powers of the Crimson Ranger.
Miss Vanity: A beautiful super-powered vigilante who wields an elegant broadsword. She seems to value fashion and beauty above all else, even going as far as to avoid a battle if it might result in a broken nail. Apparently works for Wrath as a mercenary.
Baphomet: A self-proclaimed protector of animal rights who is a master of stealth. He wears a horned goat's mask and appears to be a master of mixed martial arts – even going so far as to defeat an opponent who has been tainted with the light of RAGE using a triangle choke.
Wrath: The interstellar warlord and conqueror of worlds and ultimate ragequitter who is currently targeting Earth. Possesses an army of one-hit kill underlings who serve no useful purpose other than target practice for heroes of justice. He can also use the light of RAGE in order to invoke a human being's pent-up anger and use this potential in order to transform them into a super-powered monster of the week. Upon defeat, a person who has fallen into RAGE transforms back into human form unharmed.
Episode 5: A Date With Miss Vanity
In a certain city somewhere in the middle of nowhere USA, Pete Robinson, otaku extraordinaire and currently masquerading as the Crimson Ranger thanks to an unexpected turn of events that he most certainly did not expect, was in a bit of a predicament.
After a grueling battle with a villain known as The Chosen Ninja, Pete was just about ready to retire for the day; however, just as he entered his apartment, he was surprised to see that the lights were on.
"Hmm… I guess I forgot to turn them off when I left." Pete said to himself and to the little girl residing in his head.
"Why hello there, Dah-link. My, my, I didn't realize that the Crimson Ranger was such a handsome fellow."
A familiar figure fashionably attired in a tight-fitting speedo wetsuit and wearing a wig in a hime cut was lying on his couch in a fabulous manner inside of Pete Robinson's apartment.
"That's my name, Dah-Link, don't wear it out. Of course, as you are probably already aware of, it is far from my real name. Oh no, no, no, Dah-link. What it is, is a pseudonym, or in French – such an elegant language – a nom de plume."
Despite Miss Vanity's fabulous display of verbosity, Pete knew full-well that she was not a person to be taken lightly. After all, if she hadn't chosen to retreat of her own volition during their first encounter and Pete's initial transformation as the Crimson Ranger, it was a given that she would have eventually won the fight. During that encounter, she had tried to take the Red One Changer, an alien artifact in the form of a cheap, red plastic badge that you can buy from your local dollar store. In another more recent encounter however, when Pete seemed to have no hope of winning against a powerful enemy called Lady Staplewire, Miss Vanity suddenly appeared to shield the children that the Crimson Ranger was trying to protect and to offer Pete some helpful advice in the form of a cryptic message that would eventually lead to Lady Staplewire's defeat.
It goes without saying that Pete's head was spinning around in circles from the inside at that moment and he simply did not know what to think. Furthermore, there was a little girl with an annoyingly cute voice inside his head who was being even more annoying than usual and talking him down in a very cheeky manner. He could also swear that she was giving him the old "epic troll face."
"Hahaha! I told you not to be so smug about telling people about your secret identity. Who's laughing now?"
That question from Giselle Orchardwither was, of course, a rhetorical one.
Pete looked at Miss Vanity in the eye. She was wearing purple-colored big-eye circle lenses that made her look like a generic MOE anime character. Being an otaku extraordinaire, Pete was well-aware of subtle cosplay implements such as these. More importantly however, Pete put wore a guarded look on his face since he knew that Miss Vanity could probably kill him in the blink of an eye before he could even take out the Red One Changer which was resting on his chest and hidden inside his shirt in a necklace that he had fashioned out of a $0.50 lanyard.
Beads of sweat began to form on Pete's oily forehead and trickled down the side of his face. His hands were clenched into fists and his legs felt like they were glued to the ground.
"Hey, get a hold of yourself! Are you just going to let her do whatever she wants?"
Fortunately, Giselle Orchardwither's rant, which sounded like it came from a fansubbed anime, sounded so ridiculous in English that it served to calm Pete's frazzled nerves if only for a little bit.
"Now now, Dah-link. There's no need to put on such an intense expression. I am not here to fight you today, I assure you. Heaven forbid. I might break a nail… and that would be, the WORST POSSIBLE THING!" Said Miss Vanity in a mid-Atlantic accent with a slight squeak while still lying down in a fabulous manner on Pete's couch.
"Quick Pete! Whack her on the head while she's lying down! It's the perfect chance for a one-hit KO!" Giselle Orchardwither suggested from inside Pete's head.
Truth be told, the thought did cross Pete's mind, but he decided against it. After all, he had witnessed first-hand the blinding speed in which Miss Vanity could move if she wanted to.
"Can't dodge if you don't see it coming, hombre."
"Shut up, Giselle!" Pete said out loud?
"Yes? Who is this Giselle person, Dah-link?"
"Oh… ah, it's no one, Miss Vanity, if I may call you that."
"Ooooh! It is simply delightful the way you say that in such a hesitant manner, dah-link! I find your boyish reluctance quite charming."
Surreptitiously, Pete Robinson tried to sneak his right hand underneath his shirt in order to grab the Red One Changer.
"Oooh! How marvelously manly, Dah-link," Miss Vanity got up from the couch and bent down on one knee with her head looking up at the sky – which was concealed by the roof of Pete's apartment, of course, "In the face of adversity, the daring young hero attempts to secretly grab the one item that could save him from his perilous plight while pretending to play along with the fabulously beautiful vixen who held his life within her petal soft, fragrant, expensively-manicured hands. Oooh! This scenario is simply divine!"
"Sigh…" Pete put let his hands drop to his side and resigned himself to his fate at the mercy of Miss Vanity.
"Omfg! This girl is such a drama queen!"
"I dunno Giselle… she may very well be, but it kind of suits her, don't'cha think?"
"Whut the… have you completely forgotten the situation that you're in right now?"
Pete simply shrugged. His intense fear from earlier had given way to complete apathy.
"Ahem…," Miss Vanity interrupted Pete's internal dialogue, "Are you quite done, Dah-link? I have a proposition for you and if you agree with me. I promise that no harm shall come to you and by tonight, you shall know everything about me… absolutely everything." Miss Vanity winked at Pete seductively, which Pete did not mind at all."
"Well, I guess there's no helping it. What do you want, Miss Vanity?" Pete shrugged for the second time.
"Come closer, Dah-link. I want to whisper it into your ear."
Pete reluctantly did as Miss Vanity suggested
"WHAT!" Pete's apathetic façade had been broken. "B-b-but! Surely y-you can't mean."
The shy otaku placed both of his hands in his pocket in a very awkward stance.
"What is so unbelievable about it, Dah-link? A girl in my rather unique line of work does get lonely, you know. It's not like I'm asking you to marry me or anything like that. I just want you to take me out on a date. Just a single date – today, and like I promised you… you shall know…"
"Absolutely everything about you? E-even your secret identity?"
"Excellent! Then it's a deal…," Miss Vanity decided unilaterally while skillfully evading Pete's inquiry, "Now then, I would like to make use of your shower, dah-link. Also, I will have to ask you to leave the room so I can change. After all, wearing these skimpy things on a date would be a complete fashion disaster."
"Oh I dunno… I think more than a few men wouldn't mind seeing you in costume, Miss Vanity."
":O! Oh brother!" Giselle Orchardwither grumbled.
"Now, now. Shoo! Away with you, Dah-link. I must change. After all, the night isn't getting any younger. We must be away on our date before too long. Oh… and please call me Vivian from now on."
"But wait, this is my room, Miss V- err… Vivian. What are you planning to change into from here? I don't think any of my clothes would fit you."
"Tut Tut, don't be so crude, dah-link. I brought an infinitesimal portion of my wardrobe collection with me, see?" Miss Vanity – or rather, Vivian, pointed to a white luggage case with purple linings which was placed in an upright position next to Pete's couch. Now then, shoo!"
And with that, Vivian shoved Pete out of his own apartment and promptly locked the door.
Pete stood by the doorway and waited patiently for his date to come out.
"You know, Romeo."
"What is it now, Giselle?"
"Omg! Would you wipe that stupid grin off your face? If you had half a mind, you'd know that now is the perfect time to attack her while she's in the shower!"
Pete scratched his chin and pondered Giselle's suggestion.
"Yes, I could do that… but more importantly, Giselle. Do you know how wrong you made that last statement sound?"
"Sigh… you're really going through with this, aren't you?"
"What can I say, I'm a desperate otaku, the epitome of internet forever aloners. I'll do anything for a cute girl."
"Well I'm a cute girl. Will you do anything for me as well?"
"I'd do anything for a little girl… is what I'd like to say, but you're different, Giselle."
"Haaa… I… give up. I guess I'll just catch up on some anime that I've never seen before inside your head. Enjoy your date, sicko. At least she seems harmless for now."
Pete's apartment door slammed open.
"Hello, Mr. Pete Robinson. My name is Vivian and I'll be your date for this evening."
Pete's jaw dropped to the floor and remained locked in place. Vivian wore a black hairband on her wavy, artificial purple hair, a white, long-sleeved blouse, matching scarlet pleated mini skirt and shoes with black leggings that ended just above her knees. She exuded a very different aura as Vivian than when she was wearing her Miss Vanity costume and Pete liked it – very much!
"By the way, Dah-link. Did you call a taxi yet? We're going to the shopping district first and I always travel in style."
"Hoo boy! This is going to be a long night." Pete grumbled to himself. After all, being the otaku extraordinaire that he was, he needed to scrimp and save to be able to afford so much anime merchandise on his meager salary working at Games R' Go.
And so, Pete and Vivian took a taxi and after a few minutes, they arrived at the shopping district…
"Oh my, dah-link! Did you see that woman over there? She's wearing a FAKE Louis Vuitton bag! The horrors! It's not even a well-made Class A copy, but a cheap rip-off that was obviously manufactured in some dingy factory in China."
"Umm… yeah shoes… bags, they all look the same to me, Gis – er, I mean Vivian."
"Come now, Dah-link. Do not be so boorish. After all, you are in the presence of the very height of fashion."
"Sigh… if you say so. If you ask me, though… you look very cute in those clothes, but aren't they rather plain?"
"WHAT!" Vivian exclaimed with a shriek.
"You dare! You dare to call my magnificent ensemble plain?"
"Uh… well, I mean uh… hey, look at the size of those Mikimoto pearls that woman is wearing."
"Oh puh-leaze! Do not try to change the subject, dah-link. Now tell me honestly, do you like my ensemble or do you not?"
"Ensemble… yeesh! Well, I'm just your average, self-supporting otaku, Vivian. What would I know about women's fashion?"
"Hah! Nice try, but my question stands. Now answer it or," Vivian smile coyly, "there will be 'consequences.'"
"Gulp…," Pete swallowed aloud, "F-fine. I think you look drop dead gorgeous! Uh… so please don't drop me dead, okay?"
"Hmph! That answer is satisfactory, but you have ruined my mood. I simply cannot continue shopping unless I am in the proper mindset."
It was quite apparent that Pete had hit a sensitive spot and at that moment, he genuinely felt bad about it.
"Look Vivian, I'm sorry that I said that without thinking. I realize that fashion is your passion, so I'll be more careful from now on, but let's not let this ruin our date, okay?"
Pete was actually quite amazed at his ability to say such a cheesy line with a straight face and without breaking a sweat. Of course, years of exposure to similar cheesy lines from bishoujo harem anime and the current crop of moe anime in the same vein might have helped a bit.
Suddenly, Vivian's eyes lit up. "Oh my! There's the Chanel branch! It's the only one in the entire city. Come, Dah-link. I must peruse their merchandise."
Pete breathed a sigh of relief. For the moment, it seems that Vivian's attention had been redirected towards the store.
The store looked pretty nondescript and it didn't seem to have very much in the way of merchandise. There were a few dresses, mostly on mannequins laid out here and there, but the entire store consisted mostly of empty space. Furthermore, there were only one or two other people shopping inside.
"Ah, Miss Vivian! Always a pleasure to have you here! Would you like me to direct you to our new arrivals?"
"No thank you, Pierre. As you can see, I have company today and we would like to shop undisturbed, if you please."
"Of course, madam."
Pete quickly deduced that Vivian must have been a regular here. He simply followed her lead as she walked deeper into the store like she owned it. For some reason, Pierre was eyeing him suspiciously – with a look of disdain, even.
Vivian grabbed about six different dresses from a display counter and made her way to the changing room with Pete following her around like an obedient puppy.
After trying on all six dresses, Vivian finally decided on a plain-looking, white one-piece dress. She asked for Pete's opinion on each dress but all that he could do was reply, "it looks very good on you," in a soulless monotone each time.
Vivian had Pete carry the dress for her to the check-out counter. Pete figured that he'd probably have to pay for it, so he glanced at the price tag.
"W-What? $3,500,000 for a single dress? What madness is this? I could take out a loan with 12 different companies and I still wouldn't be able to afford this dress with my current credit rating!" Pete thought to himself.
"Pete? What's the matter, Dah-link! Hurry up and pay for my dress."
"P-pay for my dress she says? Ugh… well, it's do or die, I guess. Pierre will probably boot us both out of the store as soon as the clerk swipes my card, but what other choice do I have?" Pete thought to himself again before very, very slowly making his way to the check-out counter.
"W-what? What is it, Vivian?"
"That woman who just passed by the window! She was wearing the very same dress! This simply cannot be!"
"I-I assure you, Miss Vivian. That dress she is wearing must be a cheap fake! This dress is one of a kind!" Pierre was quick to reply.
"No! Even if that is true, the fact of the matter is that she has been seen in that dress… before me! Come, Pete! We are leaving!"
"No, Madam! Please! Wait!"
But Vivian had already stormed out of the store in a flash with a very relieved Pete following close behind.
"Well, that shopping excursion went swimmingly." Vivian said sarcastically.
"Ehehehe!" Pete laughed sheepishly.
"Don't laugh, dah-link. Fashion is serious business."
"Don't worry, Vivian. I believe you." Pete replied sincerely; thoughts of the extravagant price tag of the Chanel one-piece still in mind.
"Well, in any case. We cannot leave the shopping district without a purchase. It's bad karma. The god of fashion would never forgive me."
Pete let his eyes wander for a bit and he spotted a side vendor selling some pretty looking hats, by the sidewalk.
He approached the stand and chose a white one with a small brim and a scarlet ribbon tied in a bow.
"How about this one? It goes well with your dress?"
Vivian faced Pete with a look of bewilderment. Then, she snatched the hat from his hand and glared at it for the longest time – scrutinizing every single aspect of it… almost as if she were scientifically investigating the millinery piece.
"Well… Pete Robinson!"
"I do believe you have an eye for fashion after all. It's perfect, I'll take it."
"How much, miss?" Pete asked the vendor.
"That'll be $250."
"W-What? B-but I was planning to buy a PS Vita and… and…"
"Something the matter, Pete?" Vivian fluttered her eyelashes self-consciously.
And so, Pete was forced to part with his PS Vita money, but on the other hand – he decided that it was a fair trade-off for $3,500,000 and Vivian seemed truly appreciative of his "cheap" gift.
"So… what now?"
"Well, the night is still young, Dah-link. Now let us have some entertainment."
"Great… so where to? I'm not too familiar with this place, so you lead the way, Vivian."
"I fully intended to, Dah-link."
The unlikely couple strolled leisurely through the shopping district for a few minutes before they arrived at the targeted location. Vivian seemed to fit right in with the snooty crowd while Pete looked totally out of place.
"Wait… a casino? Sorry, Vivian, but I don't gamble."
"Oh pish-tush! I told you, Dah-link. Just follow my lead. Besides, as thanks for buying me this wonderful chapeau, it's my treat."
Pete reluctantly followed a rather spirited Vivian into the casino. Much to his surprise, Vivian ignored the rows of slot machines, poker and roulette tables and headed straight for the stairs. Pete, who was totally clueless about how casinos operated, simply followed in her footsteps.
"W-what? You've gotta be kidding me!"
"Ta-dah! Surprise, dah-link. It is a well-known fact that most casinos nowadays also feature an arcade section for the kiddies. I know you boys like your video games, so you'll be pleased to know that I have this!"
"Whoa! That's a super extra hardcore elite membership card! You can play any game as much as you want with that!"
"Yes, they were giving it away for free when I last made a purchase from Prada. Some sort of affiliate sponsorship program."
"Well, let's play together then."
Vivian blinked twice.
"You want me to play with you? Are you sure? I mean, I have never operated one of these machines before, so go easy on me, dah-link. It's my first time."
"Don't worry, I'll be gentle."
Intentional innuendos aside, the two then played 12 straight games of Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend, all of which, Pete lost quite badly even though he was trying his best.
"D-dat wakeup combo!"
"I say, dah-link. Are you getting… shall we say, salty?"
"… Vivian… you lied!"
"Ohohoho! Well, a girl has to have some secrets, Dah-link. Otherwise, where's the fun in that?"
Try as he might, Pete could not think up of a witty response to that.
Pete and Vivian then proceeded to play few rounds of Dive Kick as well as Metal Slug 5 which they managed to 1cc. Then, they had a modest dinner at a McDonald's branch that was just next to the casino.
"Well, then dah-link. It might have been a bumpy start, but over-all, It's been a wonderful evening. It's almost time for me to fulfill my end of the bargain."
"Really Vivian, the pleasure was all mine. To be honest, I thought that you were some kind of snooty, upper-crust girl at first, but you're really pretty down-to-earth… even though you have some very 'divine' tastes in clothes."
"Ah, I'm glad to hear that from you, dah-link. Come. Let us walk home together, shall we?"
Vivian offered her hand.
Pete reluctantly stretched his hand out and Vivian grabbed it without hesitation.
They walked with their hands held together for over an hour and before long, they had reached a place that was very familiar to Pete.
"Pete… isn't that awful?"
"What is it, Vivian?"
"Look at that poor homeless woman and her children begging for money out in the streets."
Pete was unsure if she was serious or not, but before he could make a cynical remark about how Vivian had just almost bought an outfit that could have fed three whole families for years earlier, he realized that Vivian had already wandered off to the said homeless woman and had sparked a chat with her.
They seemed to be having an intense conversation so Pete decided to patiently wait until Vivian was done.
A few minutes later, Vivian returned and took Pete's hand again. She had a satisfied smile on her face.
"Let's go, dah-link!"
"What did you say to them?"
"Well, let's just say that I like to help out people in need, but I absolutely refuse to dole out charity, dah-link. It is against my nature and it would not really be helping them as opposed to temporarily alleviating their suffering, wouldn't you say?"
"Can't say I disagree."
They continued walking for a few more minutes before arriving at Vivian's intended destination.
"Wait… but Vivian… this is?"
Pete stared in shock at the familiar place right across the road.
"Isn't it beautiful, dah-link?"
Vivian was admiring the park fountain which seemed to sprinkle rainbow-colored water in mesmerizing patterns thanks to its internal lighting system. The display looked even more fantastic due to the cloudy, starless sky which served to highlight the rainbow colored streams.
"Yeah… it's great, Vivian."
But the truth is that Pete was staring at Vivian's profile.
Despite the artificiality of her big-eye circle lenses, false eyelashes, makeup and her purple-colored hair which had been somewhat obscured by the hat that they had bought earlier, Pete realized at that moment, more than ever, that Vivian – Miss Vanity, was a very lovely woman in more ways than he could have imagined.
Vivian clutched the hat that Pete had given her and held it close to her heart. This time, she held it in a way that was far less than fabulous – she almost seemed like a shy, frail little girl who could easily trigger any man's instinct… to want to protect her.
"Thanks for today, Pete."
The words seemed to pierce Pete Robinson's heart, unlocking his true feelings underneath.
She took off her wig and for Pete, this was more than enough. As far as he was concerned, she had told him "everything" with this simple act.
"I see… I guess I'm happy to find out that it was you all along…"
To be continued… See you in the next episode!
Next Episode Preview: The ultimate ragequitter Wrath enters EVO 2012 and uses his ragequitting powers to the max! Pete makes the cut too but is quickly decimated and shoved into the loser's bracket of the Streetfighter x Tekken tourney! Sheryl decides to replace all the items in the hobby shop with Black Trojan merchandise much to Pete's dismay! Also, Tomodachi no Mahou finally gets an unofficial video game adaptation courtesy of some hardcore fans of the series! Giselle Orchardwither discovers the joys of watching Hokuto no Ken inside of Pete's head… unfortunately, the TV reception is as foggy as Pete's memory of the series! All this and more in the next adrenaline-pumped episode of Paragon of Justice: Crimson Ranger!