Yes, that's right, Suuuper Craig is a princess.
"Arrow," answers Tweek, holding up the weapon. It hums in his hand a little, like leaning against a quiet generator but actually nothing like that. Is that was magic feels like? He's reluctant to let it go, even though he's the one who brought it to turn in, dropped in the hallway during their drag of the prisoner to his cell. The soldier cataloguing the weapons they stripped off the prisoners pulls it out of Tweek's hand, impatient.
"Well? Anything else?" he demands when Tweek doesn't move away fast enough. Shaking his head, Tweek shuffles off. He can still feel the hum of the arrow against his palm, a little, even when he closes his fist tight.
Everything is upside-down today. All the force commanders are occupied with the capture of the rebels, their shifts and drill schedules in disarray. Tweek has somehow missed being assigned anywhere in the confusion, and he's not in a hurry to correct that, so he avoids his most familiar places, the barracks, the training room. He wanders from place to place, not daring to linger anywhere too long, but with his face forward and his path straight, as if he's been assigned to something important and can't be interrupted.
He ends up in front of one of the prisoner's cells, either because it's the last place anyone would look for him or because of the phantom humming still in his clenched fist. For a long minute they stare at each other. He doesn't look so scary, Tweek tells himself, with his big blue eyes and floppy undercut, wearing half a torn up tuxedo from Princess Prom. And anyway, he's not even getting interrogated like the other rebel, so he really can't be anybody important.
"Hey," the prisoner says, half-whisper. "Hey, have you seen my friends? They're here too, right? Are they ok? Gosh, I'm awful worried about them."
Tweek closes his mouth because he can't get a word in edgewise. After a few minutes of steady one-sided chatter, he finds out that this guy's name is Leo, that the arrows were his, and that Princess Prom was really fun up until the explosions.
"But up until then, it was in my top 3 Princess Proms, definitely." Leo draws a deep breath, finally. He looks Tweek over as if really seeing him for the first time. "Are you like my guard or something?"
"N-yes," Tweek amends quickly, straitening his posture. That makes way sense than Tweek just hanging around chatting with a rebel traitor. His stern look melts into a yelp when an alarm klaxon goes off for half a second before shutting off. Tweek looks around guiltily, wondering if he should go investigate that. When his gaze resettles on Leo he looks sympathetic, which is a thing Tweek sees so infrequently that it takes him a second to recognize it.
"You know, I've never been in the Fright Zone before," he says, looking around. "A lotta stuff about Kenny makes more sense now."
"Shut up!" Tweek snaps, all his hackles rising at how familiar this rebel sounds talking about Kenny. "AGH! You don't know anything about him! Or me!"
Tweek slams his arm guard against the electrified bars, sending up a satisfying amount of sparks, before storming off. He doesn't even know why he got so aggravated, but it sits just under his skin, grating his nerves all night. It wasn't like Tweek ever had it especially easy, but at least he used to have a routine, a unit, a leader he trusted. But with Kenny gone, Cartman is a sharp-edged and touchy leader, quick to anger and stupidly short-sighted where it comes to their ex-captain.
Now it's like he can't trust anything. Everything sets him on edge, the snores of his unit on their sleep cycle, the soft grind of machinery that always hums in the walls, the metallic chime of the shift-change bells marking off the hours. Jittery from exhaustion, Tweek throws himself off his bunk and ends up in the most ridiculous place possible, right next to the prisoner again.
"Hi again," Leo says. He's sitting on the floor, back against the wall, and Tweek sinks to the floor to slump against the wall as well. "Sorry I made you mad before."
"You didn't," Tweek says crankily, dragging a hand through his hair. His eyes feel gritty and his head too heavy for his neck as he cradles it in his hands, elbows on his knees. "Shut up."
"I guess I don't get it at all," Leo says, glancing around at the walls, the ceiling, at Tweek as if he's just as much a part of the Fright Zone scenery. "Why you'd stay here. Everything's so cold and loud. Kenny never even saw a horse before we got him."
"What's a horse?" Tweek asks before he can stop himself.
"Makes sense, I guess, why you don't know anything." Leo sounds sad, like Tweek's whole life is to be pitied, and Tweek grinds his teeth because he hates that feeling. "But guess, we aren't that much better. Before Kenny, I never thought of the Hoard as made up of people. Like you, all by yourself, you're just a person, and you can be hurt or cold or sad. Are you? You sure don't look happy."
"Fuck off," Tweek snaps, lifting his head to glare. "What do you weirdos know? And how can Kenny be a princess anyway?"
"He can be a princess if he wants to, mister," Leo sniffs, crossing his arms. "Anyway, it wasn't up to us, the Sword of Colorado picked him and that's that. Kinda hard to argue with an ancient artifact."
Because he's spending most of his unstructured time next to Leo's cell, of course he's sitting right there when the rescue attempt bursts in.
"Kenny!" Leo exclaims, leaping to his feet.
"Kenny?" Tweek asks, still on the floor. His jaw's on the floor too, because he's seen Kenny as She-ra on screens but that in no way has prepared him for the eight-foot, blond reality of the situation. Seems like when a magic sword makes you a princess, it really fucking does the job right.
"Tweek?" Kenny asks, but shakes his surprise off in a second to commence cutting through the metal around Leo's cell bars and yanking them out one-handed. "Hurry up!"
"You coming?" Leo asks as he scuttles by. When Tweek is too stunned to move, Leo stops and turns, holding out a hand. "Hey, come on."
Tweek grabs his hand and the rest of the whole thing is a blur, one loud long klaxon-wailing blast-door-slamming blur. The next thing Tweek remembers clear is being yanked onto an over-loaded speeder by Leo's tight grip.
"Leo, are you kidding?" Kenny demands, shifting his weight backwards to try and keep the thing from overbalancing. He shoves waves of mussed blond hair back from his face to glare down at them, and Tweek tries to shrink into the tiniest ball possible from muscle memory of all the times Kenny berated him during drills. "Is your plan to defeat the Hoard just to kidnap them one at a time?"
"Didn't see YOU complaining none when we took YOU home," Leo retorts, hands on his hips. "So you can get right down offa that high horse, Mister Fancypants Princess."
"I wish I had a horse," Kenny grumbles with feeling, turning to the speeder's controls. "And where the hell is Clyde?!"
Once Wendy grits out between glitches that they lost Clyde, it's a tense ride back. Tweek tries to stay out of everyone's way, but it just ends up with him standing around awkwardly until the flurry of activity their arrival in the palace kicks up subsides. Tweek feels horribly awkward standing around in his Hoard uniform, torn between hoping nobody notices him and wishing somebody would tell him what to do, when Kenny finally turns to him and orders, "Come on, you."
"Me?" Tweek squeaks. He drags his eyes up from his scuffed Hoard boots. Kenny is back to regular-sized Kenny, and this makes everything easier to handle, somehow. Like this Kenny is just his Force Commander again, like always, and when he orders Tweek to follow, Tweek does it without question.
"Do you, um, really wanna stay? Here?" Tweek blurts out as Kenny is digging around in a storeroom for some non-Hoard clothes that aren't either gossamer dresses or make him look like he's playing dress-up with his skinny frame. "Gnnh, really?"
"Yeah," Kenny answers, yanking out a tunic which isn't the gayest blue, or maybe they've just become desensitized. "It's weird here, and hard, but good. Good weird. Shut up and put this on."
"There you are!" Leo pops around the corner just as Tweek yanks the tunic over his head. "Wendy's still glitching something fierce, but everybody else checked out fine. We're calling it a night." Leo looks Tweek up and down once. "Well, that ain't your color, but at least kinda fit in now."
"Eeeergh," Tweek answers, unbelieving.
"Come on, let's hit the sack." Leo turns to Kenny before Tweek can ask why they'd do that. "You too, mister! Princesses need beauty sleep!" Kenny shrugs him off with a few curses and stomps off, staring at his sword and muttering about healing and glitches. Leo sighs. "Well, you come on, anyway. You can bunk with me tonight until we figure out what to do with you."
"Ack, do with me?" Tweek repeats, finding himself yanked along once again. He's lost immediately, all the twisting, pearlized hallways and stairwells of the palace looking the same to him. His eyes feel overworked from all the new colors, his brain spiraling uselessly about everything. "Uh, I guess, thanks?"
"Hm? For what?"
"Rescuing…me?" Tweek squints, thinking, and nearly trips flat on his face up the steps. He's still not taking any bets on whether his current situation turns out to be better or worse than the old one, but he hasn't been ordered to run a robot training course at least. "If that's, nngh, what you were trying to do."
"Sorta? I didn't think it through the whole way," Leo laughs, rubbing the back of his head. "And you can call me Butters. Most everyone here does."
"Why?" Tweak asks.
"Short for Butterfly, of course," he replies, which answers exactly nothing, but he's shoving Tweek through a doorway, cutting off his questions.
Everything is weird and soft and pastel here, the food and the clothes and the pillows, why are there so many pillows, and Tweek is so filled up on weird that he barely even blinks when he ends up ready to defend the castle against the army that raised him.
"Princess Craig can keep an eye on you!" Leo says, bustling Tweek down the hallway at his usual breakneck speed. "You haven't met yet, right, but I think you two'll get along fine." Leo yanks open a door. "There we are! Hey, Craig, do you mind looking after Tweek here? He's battle-ready, I promise."
"That's 'Princess Craig' to you," the guy inside says, voice nasal and snappish. "And also, what the fuck?"
"He used to be a Hoard soldier like two days ago," Leo explains.
"Fuck, don't tell him that!" Tweek shrieks. He tries to cower behind Leo, but Leo grabs him by the shoulders and shoves him forward, then disappears with a hollered "BYE PLAY NICE!"
"Huh." Craig looms over Tweek by inches, looking quite imposing in his dark blue cloak and leather armor. The only indication that he's any kind of royalty, much less a princess, is the thin circlet of gold nestled in his dark hair. He draws a fist back and socks Tweek hard in the arm, making him grunt. "I always heard that Hoard soldiers were supposed to be tough monsters."
"And I always heard that princesses were supposed to be girls," Tweek retorts, rubbing his arm. Fortunately one thing his Hoard life taught him was how to take a punch. Craig opens his mouth, but Tweek beats him to it. "I don't care about your, ugh, stupid title. I can fight, just tell me what to do."
Craig looks him up and down, expression flat, and Tweek fully expects to be told to fuck off and hide. He grunts in surprise when Craig turns to the weapon rack beside him, picks up one of the metal staffs there, and shoves it against Tweek's chest.
"You're letting me have a weapon?" Tweek asks, incredulous, even as his hands close around the cool metal. It buzzes against his palms pleasantly, like Leo's arrow had, like magic.
"Can hardly expect you to fight otherwise, can I?" Craig snorts. "It shoots electricity, or at least it will if you take the safety off. Don't point it at me."
"Sorry!" Tweek shifts his grip so the weapon's tip is pointed at the floor. "If I were you, I wouldn't trust me."
"Yeah?" Craig turns to go, not looking to see whether Tweek follows. "Well, if I had wings I'd be a horse."
Next up is beltenebra!