Before The Party is the eighth story arc in the main canon of EGS. It opened on November 9th, 2004 and closed on May 20th, 2005, for a total of 62 comics. This arc deals with the buildup to and planning for Grace's Birthday Party and convincing the gang to come to it.
The arc begins with Grace sitting on the couch thinking about her fight with Damien and feeling down; she is interrupted by Ellen, who tackle hugs her. Ellen tries to get Grace to talk about why she was "out of it", but Grace says she doesn't want to. Mr. Verres appears and told Grace that everything was almost ready for her to go to school with Ellen. He was doing this so that they could help each other get adjusted to school. Ellen expresses worry that Grace might not be able to catch up with the rest of the class, but Mr. Verres replies that despite being naive and bubbly Grace is extremely smart and is a fast learner. He then mentioned that Grace's birthday is that Saturday, and says she can have a party at the house - with Elliot supervising it. When Ellen says that she is like Elliot since she was his double, he replies that Elliot tends to keep things under control, while Ellen tends to rely on impulses.
Later, when Grace was worried that nobody would want to come, Ellen suggested that the former shouldn't worry about that, and should instead focus on thinking about the festivities. Grace tells Ellen her idea for the theme of the party, and Ellen loves it.
Intro to SouthEdit
Nanase was thinking about Ellen when Justin asked how long she was grounded for staying at Tedd's house; Nanase explained she only got a small lecture, apparently because her mother thought she was Tedd's math tutor. Nanase said she was going to drop by the Comic shop later. Justin asked what kind of book she had bought at the bookstore the day before; Nanase was nervous about answering until Diane appeared, allowing her to escape the conversation. Diane, Lucy and Rhoda wanted Nanase to come sit with them, but Nanase knew that it was just so guys would come by and then buy stuff for them. Nanase said she would sit with them iff Justin got to sit with them also. Diane refused, and told Nanase that her asking the latter to sit with them was a compliment; Nanase saw otherwise. Melissa was talking to Noah about how Diane was hitting on Justin; Noah pointed out they were likely talking to Nanase, but Melissa chose to believe it was all about Justin.
At Tedd's house, Grace came to Tedd's bedroom at night and expressed doubts that everyone would accept the theme of her party. Tedd, meanwhile, had doubts about his attraction to Grace during- and post-party, but did not voice them.
Meanwhile, Ellen had another Second Life dream in which her dream-self expressed attraction toward a seyunolu named Archie despite of, or perhaps because of, his abnormal antennae. When dream-Tedd asked dream-Ellen if she liked any other boys, she said no, inadvertently rejecting him.
The next day at school, Tedd indirectly expressed his dread at telling Elliot, Sarah and Susan the theme for the party. When he finally told them the theme was gender-switching at lunch, they were stunned; Susan accused him of coming up with the idea. Tedd explained why Ellen was excluded from the gender-swap transformation and laid the onus for the party happening on Elliot's attendance. Elliot, in turn, laid it on Sarah. She promptly agreed, to Elliot's surprise. She then gave her reasons for agreeing, and Elliot was then forced to agree as well. Susan started to object, but before she could say no she her logic and curiosity had a mental debate. This concluded in both sides agreeing that she should go. She therefore conceded and told the group she would go, to the confusion of Tedd, who obviously did not see her thought process. Tedd then revealed the clothing swap aspect of the party.
Later, Tedd expressed his theories about the nature of Grace being a guy to Elliot. He then told Elliot that he thought Grace was bisexual. Elliot disagreed, and said that she was simply attracted to the former no matter what his form was. Tedd then questioned Elliot's resistance to the party: "Because it sounds like one big awkward moment." They then discussed the apparent effects of the TF Gun during the Sister story arc, and realized the cause of the effects were a mystery. The French Immortals then showed up, disguised as students, and remarked on how that revelation may be part of the reason for their spying on Elliot. They also commented on the mysterious nature of their abnormal amnesia.
After school, Tedd reflected on his view of Grace as a guy, and came to the disturbing revelation that either he was a narcissist or just that girly. When he got home, he initially thought Grace was not going to greet him at the door; she pounced while in a cat form. Grace explained that she used the TF Gun to turn herself into a half-cat; Tedd told her she could not turn back to normal without using her abilities.
When Elliot got home, he was greeted by Ellen, who was sporting an evil grin. He told her that everyone at school had agreed to the party, and Ellen gave an evil laugh. Elliot complained that he was not given enough notice, but Ellen disagreed. Meanwhile, the French Immortals were continuing to monitor Elliot while invisible in his house when they sensed Magus leaving. As he was leaving, Magus thought about the inconvenience of the immortals before realizing that the party provided a pretty good opportunity to carry out his plan of resurrecting himself.
Even More RecruitingEdit
At the ASMA Dojo, Nanase reflected on her defeat at the hands of Vlad and her insecurity at being a lesbian, and sought to prove that she was not weak. In her anger, she destroyed a punching bag. Seeing this, Elliot started to dread her potential behavior while male, while Justin cowered behind him. Nanase apologized, but Sensei Greg revealed that he bought punching bags in bulk. When Elliot told them about the party, he got a similar reaction to Tedd's telling. Seeking a way out of the awkward situation, he attempted to summon the Demonic Duck, but the duck was on strike; this provided a distraction in and of itself, because they were confused by the duck's being on strike. Nanase expressed doubts about the safety of transformation and revealed to Justin that Elliot could transform without the gun, which Greg overheard. Elliot tried to reassure them with favourable facts about transformation, but Justin pointed out the audacity of the proposal and questioned who would calmly agree to it. Nanase promptly calmly agreed, shocking both Elliot and Justin. When Justin questioned her motives, she defended Grace and blamed Tedd for Grace's views, saying it was standard procedure to blame Tedd. Just then, Greg dumped a bucket of water on Elliot, explaining that he was expecting the latter to transform. Upon hearing that was not the method of transformation, Greg asked Justin to dry Elliot off, which he agreed to enthusiastically. Elliot continued to try and persuade Justin, and succeeded when he said he would let Justin play with his hair and would transform so it was extra long. Greg came over and asked that they tell Grace "happy birthday" for him, and also to tell her to come to receive training from him, in order to learn less violent ways to defend herself. He also asked Elliot to try to convince Ellen to come to the dojo as well. Back at Tedd's house, Tedd tried to persuade Grace to transform back, and Grace explained why she wouldn't.
The next day at school Sarah explained to Elliot that she was having difficulty picking out clothes for him while the female immortal spied on him in the background. Elliot said he had no such difficulty since he was a guy and didn't care much for clothes. They then met with Tedd and Susan at an assembly. They soon discovered the purpose of the assembly was to announce the implementation of a mandatory dress code and that decision was made a result of Tedd and Susan's actions during the Red Alert storyline. Matt Cohen described the time frame in which the uniforms would be given out and their appearance, the latter aided by fellow student council members. When he mentioned questions about the dress code, Susan spoke out against it. Principal Verrückt tried to give rationales for the dress code but Susan was undaunted. Sarah expressed worry about looking good in a uniform. When Elliot tried to reassure her, she decided that she would have Elliot wear the girls uniform to the party.
That night in Ellen's Second Life dream, Ellen expressed her feelings of rejection by Archie to Kaoli but Tedd explained the nature of seyunolu attraction to cheer her up and steer her away from Archie. Ellen realized that Archie would probably be into hugging and cuddling and decided to take that. Meanwhile Tedd realized he only succeeded in pushing her closer to Archie and away from him.
The next day Susan and Ellen instant messaged each other at home. The discussed their choices for each other's party outfits and Susan revealed she did not have one picked out for her but she got an idea in the middle of the conversation. Susan then contacted Nanase to ask her to pick out the outfit for Ellen. Nanase agreed but it preoccupied her mind until she could pick something. Susan told Ellen the change of plans and Ellen was satisfied with it. Meanwhile, Nanase was distracted while playing an online game with Justin and blamed it on deciding what she was going to choose for him to wear for the party.
The next day, Tony complained to his friend about the resistance to the uniforms. When Tedd walked by he made it a point to tease him about wearing the girls uniform. Tony's friend tried to defend Tedd telling Tony that he shouldn't make fun of gays because it isn't politically correct but only succeeded in implying that Tedd was gay. Meanwhile in the school gym, Susan attempted to get a guy uniform for herself. TC who was manning the table said he was not allowed to accept girl vouchers for guy uniforms and sent her on her way. As Susan was leaving she noticed Tedd had gone to the girls uniform line up and attempted to get girl uniforms for Grace since he already had clothes that fit the dress code. This gave Susan an idea on how to capitalize on the situation by swapping uniforms with Tedd.
Meanwhile at Moperville South, Justin discussed the party. Justin pointed out the nature of the situations in which he met Grace. Given his view that Grace attracted trouble he was shocked when Nanase told him that Grace would be coming to their school. Nanase pointed out that she saved her life and Justin gave Grace credit for that. Nanase said that Grace will need friends to help her adjust to hiding her identity and abilities. Justin pointed out that she was currently floating. Nanase initially found nothing wrong with that until they encountered Mr. Bleuel who expressed disapproval at her.
At the Dunkel residence, Grace and Ellen were picking out clothes when Grace suddenly realized Ellen might be uncomfortable at Sarah being there with Elliot. Ellen told her that she didn't feel that way toward Sarah any more and was looking forward to seeing her as a friend and happy with Elliot. She then said she was open to being a friend "with benefits". Grace interpreted that to mean things like sharing stuff and Ellen ran with that interpretation.
That night Justin had a dream involving him and Elliot although he did not realize it was a dream at first. First he found himself in a unknown place with a strong wind blowing. Then he saw Elliot sitting with his back toward him, shirtless and with his hair back in its old style. Elliot said he could never love him, stood up, said it again, turned around and ended his sentence with "as you are". Elliot then transformed Justin into a girl and morphed Justin's clothes to undergarments. Justin protested but Elliot said this is the only way they could be together. Justin then woke up and thought that the dream only added to his anxiety about the party.
The following morning, Mr. Verres woke Grace up at 9:00 AM. When she remarked that it was early he told her that she would have to get up earlier for school. He led her to the basement and sat her at the computer. There via webcam were her brothers (although one of them was now a sister) wishing her happy birthday. Grace stood up excitement and tackle hugged Mr. Verres, thanking him, and calling him daddy. When he tried to protest she said he was a father figure to her despite being his son's girlfriend. Grace went back to the webcam Hedge described what had happened to them since the Painted Black story arc and their living conditions. Grace then asked Guineas why he was still in his animal form. Guineas responded that he thought the women there were scared of his human form. Grace then managed (with the help of Vladia) to convince him that the women were attracted to him. Grace asked Vladia why she had not assumed a male form as she was zapped with a TF beam and should be able to transform safely. Vladia responded that she should have been able to transform safely before but couldn't so being hit with a TF beam didn't give her any guarantee of doing so safely now. She also brought up the fact that she no longer had antennae on her face. Grace agreed that the beam shouldn't have been so thorough and Vladia said that Ellen must have modified it by putting more power into it. Vladia said she was happy the way she is now and hadn't threatened anyone in days. They then asked Grace why she was still full human and Grace explained why she felt she didn't deserve her abilities. Upon hearing that Vladia got angry at her and berated her for her senseless guilt. Grace protested that she lost control and beat up Damien to the point that his own powers killed him. Vladia revealed that it was not her loss of control but her claws that did him in. She also told Grace that had she tried to kill Damien before she would have surely been killed herself and that Grace was squandering a gift that Vladia never had for senseless reasons. Grace was reduced to tears by Vladia's rant but perked up when she heard and saw Dr. Sciuridae. He wished Grace happy birthday and agreed with Vladia's argument if not her delivery. He persuaded Grace to assume her half squirrel form by telling her there was nothing to gain by refusing to transform, that they wanted her to be happy and that since the half squirrel form was her birth form she should assume it at least once on her birthday. With that Grace was convinced and proceeded to assume her half squirrel form while they watched. After Grace finished transforming she said she felt a little better and asked Dr. Sciuridae what he was doing there. He responded that he now worked and lived there. Hedge then asked about the relationship Mr. Verres mentioned she was in and Grace didn't want to tell them about Tedd. Grace then woke up Tedd and he was surprised to see her in her squirrel form. She told him that she was not yet totally bubbly but that the party would help with that. When Tedd asked about her being bubbly she said it suited her once and will suit her again. Grace then assumed her Jeremy form as she pet Jeremy. Tedd reflected on Grace being back to her old self but then realized she was depending on the party to fully feel better and decided to make sure that the party went as well as possible for her sake.