Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 20: In Fearful Day

The team surrounded a small building advertising itself as Max’s Plumbing and had a cartoonish version of Max. Batman and his family covered the main entrance with Ben, Royal, Shade, Optimus, and Arsha. Batman made several hand signals, but no one moved. “…I! Don’t! Know! What! That! Means!” hissed Robin.

“Three! Of! You! Go! Around! Back!” Batman whispered in return.

“Why doesn’t he just say that?” asked Optimus. He pointed to Shade and Royal. They followed him to the back of the store. Ben then entered the store and went into a bathroom with a single toilet and an out of order sign on it. He then carefully pulled the chain above his head. A hidden elevator then brought Ben down into the base. He stepped out of the elevator and quietly approached a computer. He keyed in several commands and arched an eyebrow.

“That…that’s not possible,” he muttered. He then made a call through the Omnitrix. “Er, guys, I don’t know how to tell you this, but…it’s empty.”

“There’s gotta be a mistake, Ben,” replied Royal. “Check and recheck.”

“I already did. There’s nothing!” The cell behind him then broke and Vilgax strode out.

“Well, well, well!” snarled Vilgax. “If it isn’t Ben Tennyson himself! Tell me, how are things going?”

“I take it the Rumble-Disc isn’t here?” guessed Ben as his hand hovered over the Omnitrix.

“Ah, so you know of their plan.”

“Yours too.”

“I WAS a part of it, until they abandoned me!”

“Well, once you’re back in your cell, we’ll be able to find them.”

“You won’t find them in time.”

“I’ve got Clockwork to help me find them!”

“You say that as if the Author doesn’t know of your aliens and doesn’t have contingencies in place for them. He most assuredly has plans in place for Chronosapien interference. Admit it, Tennyson. We need each other.”

“No way! I need to stop them, and you only want me dead so you can get the Omnitrix! I don’t see that as a good way for us to be allies!”

“I DON’T want the Omnitrix right now! I just want their heads on a platter!” Ben glared at his hated nemesis for a bit.

“Ben, this has to be the stupidest idea you’ve ever had!” snarled Ben’s Phury as everyone gathered around a console with Vilgax keying in commands. “You’re just gonna buddy up with the guy who’s been trying to kill you since you were ten all to stop a Rumble-Disc?! Ben, this is nuts!”

“It’s not the craziest thing I’ve done,” replied Ben.

“Besides, we need all the help we can get,” observed Megumi.

“And you guys expect him to be buddies?!” protested Phury.

“We’re anything but buddies,” assured Ben.

“Glad to know that,” rumbled Vilgax.

“…Yeah, sure, dismiss the Appoplexian’s concerns! That’s smart!” grumbled Phury.

“We’re not dismissing your concerns, Ma’am,” soothed Optimus. “Vilgax IS on a leash.”

“We’re getting closer to its location,” reported Vilgax. “Just a few more…NO!”

“What’s wrong?” asked Batman.


“What?!” Megumi rushed to the computer. “…There’s a comms channel here! Private and untraceable!”

“Let’s see what the enemy has to say!” urged Optimus. Megumi opened the comms channel and the Author and his team appeared onscreen.

“I don’t believe I’ve met you in person lately, Metaltron,” growled Megumi.

“I had no reason to meet you at the moment,” replied Metaltron.

“Stop me if you’ve heard this one,” chuckled Nemesis. “There were two fellows on a secure channel. One says to the other-”

“Where’s the Rumble-Disc?!” demanded Optimus.

“You call that a punchline?!”

“You’ve got a Joker-level sense of humor and, like Batman here, I don’t share it.”

“But we’re linked, you and I! Like comedy and tragedy! Two sides, same coin!”

“The Rumble-Disc, Khan!” snarled Megumi. “Or I vow I will turn the smiles of you and your team upside-down!”

“Well, if it’s discs you want, you can forget it!” snarled Khan! “Unless you surrender Life and her Source, Bellwood will get severe Dark Energon poisoning! There’s no amount of Light Energon to counteract that!” The call ended and the computer console exploded. Vilgax roared in fury and smashed the console’s remains.

“I WAS THE ONE WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO CONQUER THIS WORLD!” he roared. His shoulders then drooped. “All is lost. He’s far too powerful to fight.” Sora looked around, then spotted another console. As he looked at it, he got an idea. He briefly thought about how it would fail, then he looked at the Blue Lantern ring. His face then slowly went from doubt to determination.

“…You’re wrong, Vilgax.”

“What did you say?!” snarled Vilgax.

“I said you’re wrong!” Megumi arched an eyebrow. This wasn’t like her nephew. “All is NOT lost! I’m willing to bet that the channel can still be traced! We just need to use another console!”

“What good will tracing the channel do?!” demanded Vilgax.

“It means we’ll know where the Rumble-Disc is going, and we can get inside it before it causes damage!”

“It IS easily breached,” mused Phury. “A couple strikes at the service hatch up top will get us inside.” She sharpened her claws against one another.

“And if we fail to damage it sufficiently enough, Way Big can toss it out of here!”

“He’s right!” agreed Ben. “Straight into the sun!”

“Hopefully with EVERYONE out,” remarked Batman.

“The Rumble-Disc automatically teleports its occupants to safety,” replied Phury. She looked at the perplexed looks. “…Well, given our lifestyle, we kind of want our soldiers to stay alive as long as possible!”

“That’s true,” recalled Ben. “Appoplexians value all forms of life, right down to the infants.”

“See? Even Ben knows how we work!”

“Only because he accidentally unlocked Rath and was stuck as him when transporting the Tiffin to Pantophage,” remarked Optimus. Ben twitched.

“You see? All is not lost!” declared Sora. He then pulled out the Blue Lantern Ring. “This ring stands for one simple creed; all will be well! In this hour, I say that is the one truth we ALL fight for, even you, Vilgax!”

“Even if we do track it,” grunted Vilgax, “how do you expect us to get up there?”

“Several of us can fly and carry others with us,” replied Sora. “In a few seconds, so will I! We WILL get through this!” Just then, the ring flew out of Sora’s hand before hovering in front of him.

“Sora Hishikawa Elizondo of Beyond City,” said a voice. “You have the ability to instill great hope. Welcome to the Blue Lantern Corps.” Sora opened his right hand and splayed his fingers. The ring then fitted itself onto Sora’s ring finger. A blue lantern then appeared. Sora took the handle and put his ring to the back of the lantern.

“In fearful day,

In raging night,

With strong hearts full our souls ignite

When all seems lost in the War of Light,

Look to the stars, FOR HOPE SHINES BRIGHT!” invoked Sora. With the Blue Lantern Oath taken, blue light surrounded him. The light died and Sora’s robes were replaced with a set of blue armor with the Blue Lantern symbol on his chest and the kanji for “Nozomi”, the Japanese word for wishes or hope, was emblazoned under the lantern symbol. He wore a blue eye mask with white lenses over his eyes.

“…My nephew, a Blue Lantern,” sighed Megumi happily as tears came down her eyes. “I’m so proud!”

“Ben, see if one of your aliens can track the Rumble-Disc!” urged Sora.

“On it!” replied Ben as he activated the Omnitrix’s selection screen. “Gray Matter will have that thing on radar lickety-split!” He then slid the faceplate back and revealed the core. He slammed it down and a black ooze flowed over him. His chest then became green as green circuit lines appeared. A green ring then served as his eye as the Omnitrix’s symbol appeared on his chest. “UPGRADE!” His voice sounded like it was his own with a robotic undertone to it. The top of the eye then depressed to make a semi-circle with the flat side on top. His head then stretched to the Omnitrix symbol. “Confused about which alien comes from Galvan Prime, hm?” he asked. “Oh well, I can make this work.” Upgrade put his hand onto the computer console and melted, then flowed onto the console and made it black with green circuit lines and added a few extra bits to it. “All right, tracking the comms channel now and…got it! The Rumble-Disc is headed towards Bellwood’s Nuclear Power Plant!”

“Has the Author lost it?!” yelped Phury. “That’s a recipe for disaster! If it crashes into the power plant, the engine core will not only deploy the gas, it’ll make a nuclear explosion that will propagate the gas across the entire United States and Canada!”

“I’ve got control of our new subspace tunnel generator,” reported Upgrade.

“But the boom it makes!” protested Phury.

“We’re a little pressed for time! Everyone, cover your ears!” Everyone did as Upgrade suggested and a portal opened with a boom!

“ARGH! BOOM TUBE!” wailed Robin. Upgrade then pulled himself off the console and it reverted back to its natural state.

“Minna, ikuze!” called Megumi. “CHARGE!” Everyone dashed into the subspace tunnel and it shut behind them.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 19: Preparations

Megumi looked out of Jefferson’s eye for a moment. She was waiting for Bruce. “You’re early,” remarked Bruce’s voice as he approached her.

“I’m like the Flash,” joked Megumi.

“Not really. Despite his speed, Barry’s got terrible timing. What’s on your mind?”

“…Bruce, there’s no easy way to say this without bringing up recent trauma, but we need to know the Author’s plan concerning Plumber HQ. Did he say anything to the Lords?” Bruce took a breath before he adopted the Bat-Voice.

“They intend to flood Bellwood with a gaseous form of Dark Energon, thus poisoning everyone unless Life comes with them. This universe’s Phury was the control by injecting liquid Dark Energon into her bloodstream. The Phury you know was all too happy to perform the test.”

“And do you know the enemy’s numbers?”

“Right now, it’s Hiro, Khan, Nemesis, Evil Phury, Dr. Borg, and Metaltron.”

“Metaltron? I haven’t heard that name since the hunt for Dalek Caan.”

“Well, she’s involved.”

“What about Vilgax?”

“They’re not concerned with breaking him out.”

“He’s not gonna like that.” Megumi then snapped her fingers as she recalled something. “We need you to suit up. You can’t exactly fight without your utility belt. …And I haven’t exactly used a certain object for some time!”

“That thing can’t get you what you want, only what you need.”

“Well, we NEED the cowl.” Megumi then pulled a metal gauntlet out of a hidden pocket in her dress. She fastened it onto her hand and a symbol glowed. The symbol looked like an alien compass. “Hello, Locate Keystone.”

“Do you still remember how to use it?” asked Bruce.

“…It HAS been a while.” Megumi decided to check the instructions on the gauntlet. “Ikuze!” she whispered to herself. “Locate Keystone, Activate!” The symbol then glowed. “Initiate Rift Detection!” The symbol then went a pale green. Megumi then wandered around the room. As she did, whenever her hand passed over an area, the green glow became less pale. Soon it was a solid green as a white crack appeared on the wall. “Identify Source of Rift!” The symbol flashed a few times as it beamed the information directly into her head. Megumi grinned. “Bingo! Locate Help from D-C-C-0-M-1-C-5!” The crack became a rift and a bat-themed armored car landed in front of the two.

“Voila,” said Megumi as she gestured towards the current Batmobile.

“Perfect!” cheered Bruce. He approached it and the rear opened. It revealed two harnessed seats that came out and tilted down. A raven-haired girl in a red and green costume with a skirt and cape and a bald man with a thin moustache and wearing butler clothes raised the harnesses.

“Mr. Wayne!” called the girl.

“Master Bruce!” said the butler, Alfred. The Batmobile’s canopy then opened and a black-haired woman with a tiara, a red leotard with a blue skirt, and a golden rope then jumped out of the Batmobile’s cockpit.

“Robin, wha-” The woman, Wonder Woman, then saw Megumi. “…I see we’re among friends.” She then saw Bruce. “And family!” The two then hugged and kissed.

“…Is Batman-?” Megumi asked the girl, the current Robin.

“No, that’s Bruce Wayne,” replied Robin.

“Miss Persephone, it’s all right,” assured Alfred. “Megumi Hishikawa already knows about the family.”

“Oh. Well, in that case, DADDY! MOMMY! CUT THAT OUT! IT’S GROSS!”

“Don’t knock it until you try it, Persephone,” replied Bruce.

“More dimensional mishaps?” asked Wonder Woman.

“Yep. This time, someone wants to rewrite all of reality.”

“You’ll be happy to know, Master Bruce,” said Alfred, “that there’s a Batsuit in the Batmobile.”

“Thanks, Alfred.” Bruce then opened a compartment that revealed the cape and cowl he was famous for. He then put it on and assumed the usual stance of Batman.

“With all that, minna, we better bring you up to speed,” declared Megumi.

Everyone heard about the Author’s plan from Batman. Megumi, Ben, the Phury Ben’s dating, Optimus, Arsha, Max, Batman, Wonder Woman, Kaede, Sora, Rosadera, and Life sat around a table. Ben pulled up a layout of Plumber HQ with the enemy’s movement in real time. “All right, the enemy’s prepping some old Appoplexian ship that was long decommissioned after the Highbreed War,” he reported.

“It’s a Rumble-Disc,” explained Phury. “It’s designed to spread toxic gas over a wide area and Bellwood falls within that area.”

“In any event,” said Ben, “according to enemy movements, the Rumble-Disc is ready to launch. They’re just sitting there.”

“This is a good opportunity to strike,” declared Megumi. “Optimus can get us in via Locus-”

“He can’t,” said Batman. “When Optimus first used it, the Lords studied its energy signature. They’ve adapted to it and fed the information into Plumber HQ’s defense grid.”

“Then how do we get in?” asked Arsha. “They’re sure to have closed off the entrance Sky Runner’s team used.”

“There’s another entrance that they haven’t checked for,” replied Max. The display then zoomed in on an entrance. “It’s disguised as my plumber shop.”

“That’s the main entrance, Grandpa!” protested Ben.

“It’s also too obvious for them to believe we’d be that crazy,” remarked Wonder Woman.

“Making it perfect to confuse the enemy,” mused Megumi.

“Speaking of the enemy,” said Rosadera, “who knows how they function?”

“At least the Lords are easy to explain,” replied Kaede. “I’ve been catching up with Star Trek: Picard. Like Optimus, I know of how the base Borg functions.”

“I never got a chance to watch Picard,” revealed Optimus. “Could you explain any further Borg facts?”

“Not much about them is different than the series you grew up with. The Borg still have the adaptive shield matrix and attack en masse.”

“Adaptive shield matrix?” asked Phury.

“Yep. A couple of shots at Borg Drones with a laser weapon at one frequency will automatically send data about that frequency along the Collective and they will change their shields to block that frequency. Unless you can change the settings quickly enough, you’ll be overpowered.”

“What about frequency modulators?” asked Max.

“Those will definitely help against the Borg.”

“But they’re also a drain on power,” remarked Ben. “The Omnitrix is more efficient than that. When he died, Azmuth gave me every single command code on this thing.”

“Azmuth’s dead?” asked Megumi.

“He died a month ago. Tough old Galvan, we all thought he was too stubborn to die.”

“So he gave you EVERY command code?”

“Yep, even Master Control. Combined with the Randomizer Function, we should be able to plow through the Lords.”

“All that’s left,” mused Rosadera, “is to figure out the weaknesses of the enemy’s generals.

Back in Plumber HQ, Khan the Author was speaking to his teammates outside Vilgax’s cell. “How are Rumble-Disc preparations?” asked Khan.

“Did you write that we would get everything ready ahead of schedule?” asked Nemesis. “Because we’re ready right now.”

“I didn’t, but it’s good to hear that we’re ready.”

“Well,” said a blue-skinned woman in a skimpy Dalek-themed outfit, Metaltron the former Last of the Daleks, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t see the enemy giving Life up that easily.”

“You’re quite right, which is why Bellwood’s soon-to-be massive loss of life will be on their head.”

“After that,” rumbled Vilgax, “our alliance will have served its purpose.”

“Hm?” quizzed Dr. Borg.

“Our agreement. Once you have Life, you give me the Omnitrix.”

“…That was the deal?” asked Hiro.

“It was,” replied the evil Phury.

“…A pity,” remarked the Author. “We could use the cash.”

“You wished to use the Omnitrix for petty robberies?” asked Dr. Borg. A nasty thought formed in Vilgax’s head.

“No, but we gotta make some money here. …Maybe we should put it up for auction. The Techadon Weapon Masters would pay a fortune for it.”

“Perhaps, if he breaks out of Incarcecon in time,” chuckled Phury, “Vilgax would get first bid.” That set Vilgax off. He slammed his fists on his cell door.


“‘Once the Tome closed, the cell door’s security systems delivered a shock that wasn’t strong enough to kill him but was enough to send him flying to the back of the cell and knock him out.’” He then snapped it shut. Once the Tome closed, the cell door’s security systems delivered a shock that wasn’t strong enough to kill him but was enough to send him flying to the back of the cell and knock him out. “With all that,” said the Author, “let’s get to work.”

Over in Mt. Rushmore, Optimus looked at Ben’s Phury. She arched an eyebrow, feeling unnerved. “…What?!” she snapped.

“It’s just…I never thought I’d see the day,” replied Optimus.

“What day?”

“Well, I only stopped at Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, when he used the Ultimatrix. Whenever he turned into an Appoplexian, there wasn’t anything to indicate genitals. …You guys really wear clothes? Appoplexians wear pants?” That…wasn’t the correct thing to ask an Appoplexians. A ticked-off Phury grabbed Optimus’ holo-form by the collar and hoisted him up to her face.


“Wait, so you’re telling me that, all this time, Rath was running around…” Optimus’ holo-form eyes went wide. Phury growled before sighing.

“Buck naked. And the Appoplexians wanted Ben’s head for a time until Rath got clothes. …Still, he knows how to keep the peace and got us Appoplexians in the Plumber Alliance. With that hurdle cleared, I just had to ask him out.”

“…Good for Ben, I guess?” Phury gave a low growl, guessing the implications of Optimus’ statement. Optimus wisely took off.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 18: Sora’s Future

Everyone was following a modified, old GMC motorhome, lovingly called the Rust Bucket 2 and belonging to Ben’s grandfather, Max Tennyson. Right now, Life was behind the wheel and the cavalcade was going across the country to Keystone, South Dakota, straight to Mt. Rushmore. Max was driving the Rust Bucket 2 with Xiomara, Sora, and Life as his passengers. They were sitting at the table with Sora looking out the window. “…Mi hijo?” asked Xiomara. “¿Está bien?”

“…No, Mama, I’m not,” mumbled Sora.

“What’s on your mind?”

“…How can I make Dad understand?”

“…No entiendo.”

“I know Dad wants me to be a Kamen Rider. Why else would he ask about me being a hero? I DO want to be one, but I’m not so sure I can specifically be a Kamen Rider.”

“Batman’s not a Kamen Rider,” reminded Life.

“And your father’s not pushing him to be one,” remarked Xiomara.

“But Dad’s always going on about how Kamen Riders are the most varied type of hero!” replied Sora.

“That’s not entirely true, the various Super Sentai teams are rather varied.”

“Sora, was it?” asked Life. “It sounds to me that you fear that you’re failing your father.”

“…I am.”

“Now that’s not true at all!” remarked Xiomara.

“Mama, what if he doesn’t accept that I don’t want to be a Kamen Rider?!”

“He WILL! …If he stupidly doesn’t, I can make him understand.”

“You know, there’s an organization that I think could help you,” mused Life. She then gave Sora a blue ring. Sora picked it up and saw that the ring had the symbol of what looked like an alien lantern on it.

“…The Blue Lantern Corps?” he asked.

“They could give you the serenity your crave and give you the ability to fight without the use of a belt.”

“I’m sure Papa would love to know that his son is a Blue Lantern,” urged Xiomara.

“…I’ll think about it.”

“Here we are!” called Max. “Mt. Rushmore!” The familiar carved faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln loomed over everyone. The cavalcade drove into the mountains and a secret entrance opened to reveal a hidden base. Ben’s Phury was taken to the medical ward and Sky Runner advised the medical staff on treatment. It required Energon to counteract the effects of the Dark Energon in Phury’s bloodstream. The two would cancel each other out and the body’s immune system would naturally purge it. She would be out of action for a few hours. As he waited, Sora looked at the ring Life gave him. Life then approached Sora again.

“…It’s a big decision,” she remarked.

“…Life, do you even WANT to leave this universe?” asked Sora. Life grimaced.

“To be honest, no.”


“Because this universe is one of the most diverse ones when it comes to life-forms. Yes, it has its baddies that want to burn it or control it, but this universe is proof that life finds a way!”

“Then maybe your Source would be safer here.”

“I don’t think I got the full story about why you lot are here.”

“…It’s about the boss of the ones that invaded Plumber HQ. You see, he has something called the Tome-”

“The what?!”

“Th-The Tome.”

“The same Tome that can make something real by writing it down and narrating it?!”

“Y-Yes!” Life’s face was frozen in stark terror.

“…That’s why they’re here! They want my Source!”

“They’re after your sister’s Sources too,” called a voice. It was Rosadera. “Optimus, Megumi, and Arsha’s 3V2R prizes are also needed for the Author’s grand design.”

“…Then it really IS time to go home. …Will they really accept a nine Horseman Sisterhood?”

“It’s ten again,” said Sora. Life looked to him in surprise. “The Horsemen of the Apocalypse found their new Chaos, a lady by the name of Lacey.”

“…40,000 years it took them to do that,” mused Life. She smiled. “Order’s going to like that. …I miss them so much.”

“Then maybe now’s a good chance to reconnect with them,” suggested Sora.

“…Not until we get my Source back.”

“Where is it?”

“In a hidden pocket dimension inside Plumber HQ. We must retake it soon.”

“We better discuss this with everyone, then,” declared Rosadera. “Sora, are you coming with us?”

“I…I still need to decide,” replied Sora.

“Just know this,” said Life, “you don’t need a belt to be a hero.”

Sora spent some time to himself. He still couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do when it came to stopping evil. As he looked out of Washington’s eye, his mind still spun with questions. “And they say I brood a lot,” chuckled a voice. A de-Borgified Bruce Wayne then came up.

“…Mr. Wayne, how do you cope?” asked Sora.

“…With what?”

“With being what Gotham wants you to be?” Bruce chuckled.

“Take it from me, if Gotham found out the connection between me and my night life, they’d want me to give up being Batman.”

“Then how can you really say you’re a hero?!”

“There are enough people that look up to Batman as a symbol of hope. As long as I can inspire someone to fight against evil until the day they die, then I have won. …It’s about your dad, isn’t it?”

“I worry that he can’t see that there are other means of fighting evil without a belt.”

“I don’t think he’s THAT obsessed with the Kamen Rider franchise. I doubt he’d be in the F.N.S if he was that mule-headed. Remember, I fought alongside him in the Vortech Wars. While his preferred method of hero work involves a belt to give him armor, he respects my own methods. He once compared the variety of heroes to ice cream, there are many different flavors and they all taste good to someone.”

“But what about carrying on the legacy? I mean, don’t you want one of your family to be the next Batman?”

“I’d rather they find their own path.” Sora was surprised by that answer. “That’s what any parent wants. When Dick Grayson became Nightwing and got himself out of my shadow as Batman, I couldn’t be prouder of him. And I know Hiroki, he would want you to carve out your own path.”

“…I guess I’m not so hopeful,” admitted Hiroki.

“You know, there’s an organization in my universe that fights for hope,” replied Bruce. “They usually assist the Green Lanterns.”

“…You’re not talking about the Blue Lanterns, are you?”

“You know about them?”

“I’ve done some research on each Lantern Corps. Life gave me a Blue Lantern ring.”

“Well, Kamen Riders fight for hope, why not assist them as a Blue Lantern? Just a suggestion.” Bruce then headed off and Sora took the ring out of his pocket, staring at it.

“…Hope,” he muttered. “…I could do with that myself.” He then looked to the stars. “Imagine that, a monk needing hope.”

Bruce met up with Megumi, Optimus, and Arsha. “Something on your mind, Bruce?” asked Megumi.

“Your nephew is a little lacking in hope,” replied Bruce. Megumi grimaced.

“It’s something he’s struggled with for his entire life. He looks up to his father a lot and wants to emulate him, but he’s come face to face with the fact that he’s not his father and he feels like he’s failing himself.”

“That’s a load!” remarked Optimus. “He’s not failing anyone!”

“Unfortunately, I know all too well of children that feel like they’re not living up to their parents’ ideals when they feel that their parents are wrong in some fashion,” sighed Arsha.

“One of your kids?” asked Megumi.

“Both of me and Lardeth’s kids. They wanted to be heroes like us but didn’t like combat. It was a huge relief to them when we told them we didn’t like combat either, especially after the Final War. I think Sora and Hiroki need to talk it out soon.”

“I have a feeling the conversation will be better than Sora realizes. I know Hiroki. He’s a very understanding man. The only thing he’s afraid of is that his son won’t find his own path.”

“Any parent fears that for their kid,” replied Optimus. “I went through that with my daughters. For a moment, I thought that my own kids would want to be a Prime. When I offered them the Matrix, though, they said no, they didn’t want to lead the Autobots. …Now, Glyph, on the other servo, I think she has potential to be a better Prime than me.”

“If Arcee’s okay with it,” remarked Arsha.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 17: Fight for Life

Optimus and Nemesis continued their duel, with Optimus striking fast and Nemesis blocking every blow. Optimus then swatted Nemesis’ knife-hand chop and made something fall out of his arm and crash onto the floor. A purple liquid spilled out of the object. “Huh, I’m out of fuel,” muttered Nemesis.

“And I’m out of patience for you!” snarled Optimus as he decked Nemesis. Nemesis ended up sprawled on the floor.

“You REALLY know how to spoil a coming-out party!” he grunted. “How am I supposed to spread the gospel of darkness if you destroy any and all Dark Energon deposits and take away a proper hideout for me and my associates?”

“You’re sick!” hissed Optimus. “You need mental help fast!”

“Well, maybe I DO feel a little…off.” Nemesis then slammed his foot into Optimus’ chest and sent him to the floor. “But being sent to Hell will do that to you! You think it’s all about demons constantly whipping you and pouring lemon juice on the wounds for all eternity?! No! It’s being crammed into a damn cul-de-sac with no privacy, no space to call your own, and constant sharing circles with two dress-wearing Oni that can make multiple copies of themselves, one of them being a damn transvestite! Well, not this time! This time, Khan’s brought us back to life AND with bodies like Megumi’s! Immortal AND invulnerable!”

“Yet she could still fell pain!” Optimus then got back up and went on the offensive.

“You know,” Nemesis quipped as he blocked the blows, “I think Plumber HQ would be a great set of digs! Our current hideout’s a shanty in Under-town, right below Bellwood!” Optimus then drove an uppercut into Nemesis’ jaw. Nemesis rubbed his chin. “All right, you win this fight, but not the base! Mark my words! Bellwood’s gonna be shrouded in darkness for eternity unless Life comes with us!” Nemesis pulled his gun out and fired. Optimus dodged the shot and Nemesis took that opportunity to transform and get away. Optimus briefly considered pursuing him, then he recalled that his friends were fighting the Lords. He then made a call.

“Megumi, this is Optimus. My evil twin, Nemesis Prime, is escaping. Be advised, he’s unhinged.”

“Roger that,” replied Megumi. She ended the call. “Suit up! Arcee, have you met Optimus’ evil twin?”

“No, but I know about him,” replied Arcee. “He’s actually two evil doubles in one Unicron-worshipping package. The Optimus Repaint exterior is piloted by an evil cyborg version of Tails.”

“Tails’ smarts, Optimus’ powers, and a wicked streak the size of a single universe. Lovely,” grunted Megumi.

“Vortex Driver!”

“Crysta Driver!”

“Hen-!” Disruptor shots then hit the pavement near them. The Lords then surrounded them.

“What in-?!” spluttered Xiomara. A few Lords then appeared with a woman in their grasp. The woman had obsidian skin and wore white.

“One false move and Life gets it!” warned a Lord.

“She CAN’T get it,” remarked Kaede. “She’s an immortal.”

“Oh, she doesn’t need to die, but she’s gonna wish she can!”

“Y…You can’t!” gasped the woman, Life.

“Oh, but we can!”

“What did the Author say about them?” snapped a voice. Everyone turned to an alleyway to see a woman come out. The appearance of the woman made Arsha freeze in terror. The woman was cyan-skinned, had moth antennae sprouting from her hair, insect wings on her back, cybernetic legs, a cybernetic arm, and a prosthetic right eye. The talons of her feet created holes in the pavement as she came out of the alley. Arsha’s terror was palpable.

“…Borg!” she whispered.

“DOCTOR Borg, Arsha,” corrected the woman, the cyborg Sprite, Dr. C. Y. Borg. “Then again, for you, it’s been 15,000 years, so you’re bound to forget things about enemies you’ve killed. I take it you’re ruling the Realms?” Arsha said nothing. Dr. Borg then turned to the Lords. They all had their disruptors pointed at Life. “Only the ones holding her need to keep their weapons on her,” she said. “The rest of you, keep your disruptors trained on our adversaries. If they even blink in a fashion that indicates they’re going to do something, open fire. Oh, and avoid the Transformer’s chest. Yes, that’s where their Spark is, but that also means that’s where their armor is the strongest. Aim for the metal that matches the face’s color, then coordinate fire at the points where the armor overlaps the skin.”

“Don’t do this!” warned Life.

“Did you say something?” asked Dr. Borg.

“Leave her out of this, Borg!” snarled Arsha, coming to her senses. Dr. Borg smirked.

“Not even questioning why I’m here before you! You guessed who brought me back and how by virtue of learning about my colleagues’ return. That’s what I like about you, Arsha, you make decisions based on the facts. It’s because of that that you’re predictable! That’s why victory is assured for us! We’ve read up on you and your activities! We know your every move! We know how you think!”

“Do you know what I’m thinking right now?” Dr. Borg chuckled at Arsha’s question.

“Yes. You’re thinking ‘What’s my arch nemesis’ grand design this time?’”

“Something along those lines. I’m also thinking about who to take out first.”

“Take them out? What would your family say, dating one of the Lords behind their back?” Dr. Borg laughed at her crass joke. “Just so we’re clear, I fully intend to present your corpse to the Realms, but you need to suffer first!” Kaede looked at one of the Lords holding Life down, then her eyes widened.

“…Mr. Wayne?” she said. Dr. Borg smirked again. Megumi saw who Kaede was talking about.

“Bruce, what happened to you?! When did you get assimilated?!”

“It was during a Parent Teacher conference with Damian’s boarding school headmaster,” explained Dr. Borg. “He’s remained silent since his assimilation. Through that, we’ve learned about his Agamemno Contingencies. Did you know he was so paranoid that he made one for himself if he turned rogue? I remember how it goes, the file was called ‘Detective’ and it read ‘While Batman is a master strategist and combatant, he is only human. The best way to disable his strategic abilities would be to distract him, his parents are an excellent blind spot as is his endless crusade to protect the innocent, taking hostages is a good distraction, particularly if they’re friends or family.’” Megumi smirked this time.

“You didn’t read it all!” she said. Dr. Borg looked offended.

“What’s THAT supposed to mean?!” she snarled. “I recited it word for word!”

“You missed a sentence in that one.”

“Oh, really? And how does that sentence go?”

“Bruce, wanna explain or should I?” The Bruce Wayne Lord glared at Dr. Borg.

“‘Think carefully before you do this’!” he said. He then decked his fellow Lords and tore the disruptor off his arm. The armor on his head then lowered to give the illusion of his usual appearance as Batman.

“The Bat’s betrayed us!” called a Lord.

“Get rid of him!” ordered Dr. Borg. She then shrunk to the size of an insect and flew off.

“Stop them!” ordered Megumi. This time, the transformation was uninterrupted.

“Henshin!” called the Riders. They then adopted their Rider personas as everyone, even Life, got ready to fight. Sora was alarmed.

“Ma’am, please get to safety!” he urged.

“I appreciate the concern,” replied Life, “but I wear flats for a reason.”

“TATAKAE!” called Royal. Everyone went on the offensive, with Batman taking out the most Lords. It became a source of light contention.

“Batman!” protested Seeker. “That was mine!”

“You were about to kill him!” snarled Batman.

“They’re too far gone, unlike you!”

“Not what you think! We do! Not! Kill!”

“Batman’s right!” called Shade. “The Lord Collective is nowhere near as oppressive as the original Borg Collective. Just knocking them out for a bit is enough to bring them to their senses.” To prove her point, the Lords she already knocked out woke up and looked around.

“What the?” stammered one. “Downtown? I was in the financial district!”

“Wait a minute, these are Bellwood citizens?!” yelped Sora.

“Thanks for the tip, Batman!” called Life. Everyone dialed it back and knocked their enemies out. Once the fight was over, everyone was panting. Royal turned to Batman.

“I’m immortal, yet I’m getting too old for this,” she joked.

“You’re out of practice,” remarked Batman.

“You’re no spring chicken yourself, Bats,” observed Shade. “Your kicks weren’t getting high enough, even with all that Borg kit.”

“I’m aware. It’s why my new daughter’s taking up the cowl and modifying her batsuit.”

“…Daughter?” asked Royal.

“Diana and I married and had a kid,” explained Batman. “Damian constantly reminds me I have two blood children now.”

“And he approves of Wonder Woman as a mom?”

“He and the rest of the…‘Batfam’ insisted I marry her. I was surprised she gave up her own immortality for me.”

“I guess she figured a life without you would be empty.”

“…That’s the most plausible theory.” Royal and the rest of the Riders then ended their transformations.

“Good to see you again, Batman,” she said as she shook his hand.

“And you, Megumi. Thanks for giving me an opening to betray the Lords.”

“Glad I could help. Come on, Bats. We better get that Borg junk off of and out of you.”

“The only place that could do that safely would be Plumber HQ. It’s currently occupied by the enemy, even when Nemesis Prime got away from Optimus.”

“What about the rest of the team?” asked Arsha.

“They’re safe. Magister Max Tennyson got them out of there and this world’s Phury is being taken care of.”

“That still leaves our Phury,” muttered Arcee.

“Batman,” said Megumi, “do you know who else the Author brought back? We know Hiro and Nemesis Prime are with Dr. Borg.”

“He’s brought back Dr. Borg’s spouses and councilors, a former wraith known as Intrag, Nemesis Prime’s fellow Terrorcons, and Hiro’s wife and daughter.”

“His daughter? I thought she was still in Igura’s womb.”

“She was born in Hell and made to suffer like the rest of the damned.”

“Hold on, she was punished for sins she didn’t have a chance to commit?!”

“You can guess that the experience made her insane.”

“No kidding. We better regroup somewhere.” Megumi activated her communicator. “Minna, we gotta meet up elsewhere. Guess who’s back?”

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 16: Ghosts of the Past

Once everyone got their smoothies and Optimus, Glyph, and even Sky Runner parked their vehicle modes, the heroes all gathered at various tables. “So,” began Ben, “what brings you back here? Social call?”

“I wish it was, Ben,” said Megumi. “A person known as Khan is travelling to various universes to find the Sources of the Horsemen of Flourishment, the opposites to the Apocalypse Horsemen. We believe one of them is here in your universe.”

“It’s a pretty big universe here,” remarked Ben. “This Horseman could be on any planet.”

“Well, we have their names,” said Optimus. “Stop us if any of them sound familiar. Let’s see…Life.”

“Hold up, we DO have a person calling herself Life at Plumber HQ!”

“You do?!”

“Yeah, she’s a woman that looks like she came out of a black and white cartoon. Her skin’s a more inky-black, so we assumed she was an alien. She’s working as a secretary right now.”

“Wait, what did that Vilgax character say about associates?” asked Arsha.

“Oh no!” realized Ben. He then made a call through the Omnitrix. “Plumber HQ! Vilgax is transporting an enemy to kidnap Life! Repeat! Vilgax has a plot against Life!” No one replied. “…Rook?! Grandpa Max?! Patelliday?! I’d settle for Blukic and Driba! SOMEONE RESPOND!”

“Let me try!” called Megumi. Ben held the Omnitrix near her face. “Plumber HQ, this is Megumi Hishi-!”

“Your voice is as unchanged as your body,” chuckled a voice. “The arrogance lacing it is still there, but I doubt you’ve seen much combat the last time we met.” It was a man’s voice and it made Megumi, Optimus, and Arsha’s respective blood run cold.

“…Th…that’s impossible!” breathed Arsha.

“He’s dead, right?!” asked Optimus.

“I was,” replied the voice, “but now I’m back! Megumi, my daughter, it’s only fitting that you are made aware of the resurrection and triumph…of Adachi Hiro, Lord and Master of Shocker Rift and the original Kamen Rider Rogue!” Megumi said nothing, she was too scared to come up with anything in the face of her biological father returning from the grave.

“…Megumi?” asked Sonic.

“Have you nothing to say?” asked Hiro.

“Megumi, it’s all right!” urged Sonic. “We beat him once! You, more than any of us!”

“…You died,” Megumi finally addressed Hiro. “Right over Chizara Prime! Right after Vortech’s second death! I saw your ship fly into an unstable pocket dimension! …I tried to save you!”

“But it took one stronger than you to bring me back to the mortal plane,” remarked Hiro. “I believe you met him, one Khan. Totally different to the former Dalek we knew. He used his power to bring me and my wife and child back to life after we all languished in Hell!”

“That’s impossible, Heaven and Hell are locked to people like us! Only the Horsemen, gods, and god-like beings can pass freely between life and death!”

“And yet, here I am, in Plumber HQ, thanks to the Author. Oh, he had to take several major precautions to safely pass through but imagine it! A single, simple human succeeded where Kamen Riders, Transformers, and Kitsunes failed! A testament, don’t you think, to my remarkable savior.”

“And you formed a new cabal with him.”

“Him and others that Optimus and Arsha sent to Hell. We all wish revenge on you! You and your pathetic friends, too afraid to kill with your bare hands! I have a clear goal in my head, Megumi. What do you have now?”

“After all this time, everything we saw, everything we lost, I have only one thing to say to you………SAYONARA!” Megumi ended the call.

“Great, and Hiro’s probably broken Vilgax out already!” complained Ben.

“Others that we sent to Hell?” muttered Optimus. His optics then widened. “No! Not Starscream!”

“Prime?” asked Arsha.

“Starscream’s the first Arti-Vok! He died when Primacron did! He’s out for revenge!”

“Optimus,” replied Megumi, “I doubt Starscream’s involved. He’s too much of a backstabber for the Author.”

“Speculation won’t help,” remarked Sora. “Maybe infiltration is needed.”

“Ooo! Ooo! I wanna try!” called Glyph.

“Hey, save some for me!” snapped Sky Runner.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” shouted Optimus and Arcee.

“…Really?” remarked Sky Runner.

“It’s WAY too dangerous! You’re not exactly a fighter!” argued Optimus.

“Daddy, I don’t think we have much choice here! Besides, I’ve fought before!”

“In Seeker Tournaments! This is actual warfare!”

“Daddy, I’m scared too, but we’re in this whether we like it or not.”

“Well, Glyph’s not going!” declared Arcee.

“Mama!” protested Glyph.

“You’re an Archaeometrist!”

“I’ve shot a gun before!”

“On a firing range!”

“Girls, I’m sorry,” said Optimus, “but you’re not going and that is that!”

“‘Absolutely not’ I said,” grumbled Optimus later as he, Megumi, Xiomara, Galen, Arsha, and Willmef watched through Sky Runner’s optics from a screen. “‘Way too dangerous’ I said. ‘You’re not going and that is that’ I said. Until Ben, Amelia, Charline, and Orbak offer to go with them and Megumi and Arsha override me! ‘Yeah! Sure! I can protect them! I don’t need working legs!’” Galen then swatted the back of his head.

“Will you be quiet?!” he hissed.

“Besides, Orbak HAS fought in that wheelchair,” said Arsha. “The kids are safe.”

“Yeah, well, one of the parents doesn’t share that feeling!” replied Optimus. Xiomara then clicked the call button.

“Señorita Sky Runner, how are things?” she asked.

“Just surrounded by metal walls. Green metal walls,” replied Sky Runner. “Seriously, Mr. Tennyson, what’s the deal with the green?”

“I dunno,” replied Ben as he pushed Orbak’s chair. “Ask the Galvans. They came up with the symbol.” Just then, the Omnitrix beeped as its faceplate flashed green. “A distress signal!” he said. “A Plumber’s in trouble!” He activated a locator. “This way!” He led everyone down the hall to see two women, one standing over the other. They were both Appoplexians, tiger-like humanoids with a single black claw on the back of each hand, long eyebrow protrusions above each eye, and very muscular. One of the women wore the white suit of the Plumbers and the other wore a yellow skirt and top with a golden flower pinned to the back of her head and a string of gold beads running across her brow. The most damning thing of all was that the women looked exactly the same. “PHURY!” called Ben. “And…Phury?”

“You must be the Ben Tennyson of this universe,” remarked the skirted woman. “You’re right. I AM Phury, but not the one you’re dating.”

“Dating?” asked Megumi over the Omnitrix. “What happened to Kai?”

“We broke up,” replied Ben.

“Was that Megumi Hishikawa?!” snarled the skirted Phury. The Phury on the ground was convulsing in pain as she strained to look at Ben.

“B-Ben!” she gasped. “Run! T-Too…dangerous!”

“Takes right after her Pa, wouldn’t you say?” scoffed the skirted Phury.

“What did you do to her?!” demanded Ben.

“Just administered something to her systems,” replied the skirted Phury. “Not my concoction, though. It’s his.” She pointed behind the team. Someone stepped out of the shadows. It looked like Optimus in the old days, but his armor was purple and his helmet was black.

“Admiring the work?” he asked.

“Sickened by it!” hissed Orbak.

“Oh, don’t tell me you’re not crazy enough to try and cure her!” complained the other Optimus. “I mean, what rational being sends a guy with useless limbs down here in enemy territory?! …Speaking of limbs, think they’re shiny enough?”

“Who are you?!” demanded Glyph.


“It’s bad enough you steal my dad’s old look, now you steal his serial number?!” snarled Sky Runner.

“Your dad’s look?” asked the Optimus lookalike. “So your daddy is Optimus Prime? Tell me, did he ever talk about a guy he threw onto a heap of Korlonium Crystals?”

“Yeah, his only kill that he doesn’t regret. Some schmuck named-” Sky Runner’s optics went wide. “…No! …No, that’s impossible! You’re-!”

“Some schmuck?!” The Optimus duplicate advanced menacingly on Sky Runner and her team. “That’s all the history books call me?! SOME SCHMUCK?!” He turned to the skirted Phury. “I’ll take on the Transformers! You get the results to Hiro and Borg!”

“Will do!” replied Phury.

“Wait, what did you say?!” called Orbak. Evil Phury didn’t listen, she just charged out of Plumber HQ.

“After her!” called Sky Runner.

“But we gotta get my Phury back on her feet!” protested Ben.

“You get her to a medical ward!” said Sky Runner. “We’ll-!” Her father’s evil duplicate wrapped his fingers around her neck.

“If your father is listening,” he snarled, “tell him Nemesis Prime is back and ready to sow fear into his blasted life, starting with the death of his daughter!” A fireball then struck him in the back, forcing him to release Sky Runner.

“You were right,” hissed Optimus as he stepped out of the shadows, “I WAS listening. It’s why I used Locus the instant I saw you throttle her! Sky Runner! Glyph! Help Ben get his Phury to the medical ward! Nemesis Prime is mine!”

“Will do!” After Sky Runner confirmed her orders, Ben pressed a button on the Omnitrix, activating a holographic selection ring that scrolled through the heads of aliens.

“Come on! Give me something fast! Jetray! Astrodactyl! Fasttrack!” he begged. He then slid the faceplate back and revealed a cylinder with the green hourglass symbol on it. He pushed the cylinder down and his body changed. His skin turned blue, a tail sprouted from his rear, his head became angular, his stance became that of a velociraptor, his fingers became three black claws, and he had black balls on his feet. “XLR8!” he called out. “Perfect choice, Omnitrix!” He scooped up his Phury and he, Glyph, and Sky Runner dashed down the hall to the medical ward. Nemesis Prime smiled.

“Oh Lords!” he called. Lords then appeared in the usual Borg teleport beam. “Deal with the smaller ones and pursue Ben 10. Optimus is mine!” The Lords attacked the rest of the team as the two Primes fought.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 15: Bellwood Brawl

The next day, everyone was at After Academy, awaiting Megumi’s rift. As they waited, Megumi was thinking about a rousing speech when someone grabbed her arm. She gasped and whirled to see Kaede and Kaitlyn’s concerned faces. “You ARE gonna remember your team, right Okaa-san?” asked Kaede.

“…Your father told you,” said Megumi.

“Mama, that was reckless!” snapped Kaitlyn.

“The risk was well calculated!” Megumi snapped her arm out of Kaede’s grasp.

“Sorry to say, but you were terrible at math at that point,” remarked Kaede.

“You said it was for our freedom, well it would have been worthless without you,” said Kaitlyn. “I understand the sentiment and I’m glad you want to keep us safe, but you have friends that want to keep you safe as well. At least take someone with you if you’re planning on doing that again, please. Promise us.” Megumi’s eyes misted.

“…All right, girls. I promise.” She hugged her daughters. The embrace ended in short order. “Now, Kaede, we got work to do.” The rift then opened. “Minna! Ikuze!” called Megumi. Her teammates then gathered. “I’ve missed saying this! CHARGE!” The team charged straight into the rift, giving off various battle cries.

The rift deposited the team in a 21st century American town. Optimus, Glyph, and Sky Runner connected to the internet and got the location. “We’re somewhere in the American Southwest,” remarked Glyph, “but that doesn’t explain the coastal city temperatures around here.”

“Looks like electric cars are just beginning to take off here, but gasoline engines are still the norm,” reported Sky Runner. “We should scan earth vehicles, Daddy.”

“Not a good idea at this time,” said Megumi. “We’d lose precious time in finding vehicles to match your frames. We need to move quickly. Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time aliens came here, if I remember the universe’s identifier string right.”

“Really?” asked Optimus.

“Check the name of the area.” Optimus’ optics flickered, then he looked it up. His optics then widened.

“Bellwood?!” he asked. Megumi grinned. “You mean we’re-?!”

“LOOK OUT!” cried a woman as she ran, bringing other townsfolk with her.

“INCOMING!” warned Sora as he pointed to the sky. A big yellow ball was hurtling towards them. Megumi and her team dove out of the way as the ball hit the pavement hard, making a small crater. The ball bounced a bit before it unfolded into a broad-shouldered creature with a face set between his shoulders, an armored backside, and claws on his hands and feet. He had a black circle on his chest with a green hourglass symbol in the middle. The creature picked himself up and dusted himself off.

“You try and enjoy a Mr. Smoothie and then an alien warlord shows up!” he grunted. He then glared at the symbol on his chest. “And you’re stuck with a watch that has a mind of his own! Omnitrix, I was trying to disable his suit! I really wanted Gray Matter!”

“BEN!” called Megumi. The creature looked up and saw Megumi and her team.

“Megumi!” he called back. “Long time no see! How’re you doing?”

“Doing fine! Who are you fighting?”

“TENNYSON!” roared a voice. The owner of the voice then landed, making a crater on impact. It was a burly humanoid with green skin, a bald head, and a tentacle beard. He was dressed in alien armor and his red eyes were blazing with hatred.

“Never mind, I can guess,” said Megumi.

“Villy, we really gotta do this?” complained the round creature, Ben Tennyson as Cannonbolt. “It’s dull now. You show up and say you’re gonna kill me and take the Omnitrix, I fight you, I win, you get thrown in prison, you break out, rinse and repeat!”

“This time will be different, Tennyson!” snarled the alien warlord, Vilgax.

“Mr. Vilgax, you ever heard of the definition of insanity?” asked Optimus. Vilgax got a good look at the group, then focused on the three Autobots.

“More Transformers?” he rumbled. He then grinned. “Good! One of my partners will be eager to see you!”

“Well, that’s disconcerting,” muttered Optimus.

“Want some help, Mr. Ben?” asked Arsha.

“Sure!” replied Cannonbolt. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Arsha Royana, Queen of the Mid-realm.”

“Nice to meet you! Now, let’s kick some squid butt!” Cannonbolt folded into his ball form and launched himself at Vilgax. Vilgax caught him, but Megumi and her fellow Riders fastened their belts on.

“Vortex Driver!”

“Crysta Driver!” Charline and Amelia each pulled out a phone and keyed in a code. The phones spoke the codes aloud.

“Zero! Zero! Zero! Orange!”

“Zero! Zero! Zero! Green!”

“Henshin!” the Riders announced. Charline’s change consisted of orange light surrounding her before black Roman Soldier armor materialized around her. Amelia’s was the same, but the light surrounding her was green instead of orange.

“And the Vortex Riders arrive! Good!” chuckled Vilgax as he shoved Cannonbolt aside. “Another associate of mine would like to meet you again! One I’m sure you’re familiar with! Wish to speak your catchphrases?”

“We’ll humor you this once, Vilgax!” hissed Royal. “Kamen Rider Royal! Evil will ultimately bow to me!”

“Kamen Rider Seeker!” called Xiomara. “It’s not gold I seek, but your end!”

“Kamen Rider Shade,” said Kaede. “You will be blinded by shadows.”

“Kamen Rider Herald O!” called Charline.

“Kamen Rider Herald G!” announced Amelia.

“We bring news of your defeat!” they said together.

“Get him!” called Royal. Everyone charged at Vilgax. He fired lasers from his eyes, but it did no good. Everyone got out of the way. Optimus then grabbed him and threw him in the air. Arsha summoned her armor and leapt into the air before firing a magic blast at his back, sending him down. Cannonbolt then slapped the Omnitrix symbol, and he changed into a different creature. This time, he was a twelve-foot-tall, humanoid, dinosaur-like creature with brown scales and a tail.

“HUMUNGOUSAUR!” he shouted. He then grew and expanded to nearly three times his original size and gained stegosaur plates along his back, then he punched Vilgax into the pavement a few times. When he stopped, Vilgax groaned in defeat. “And that, as they say, is that,” rumbled Humungousaur.

“Still calling out your alien names, huh Ben?” muttered Royal.

“Actually, that’s the result of the Omnitrix,” replied Humungousaur. Speaking of which, the Omnitrix symbol flashed red. “That’s what I call timing!” He then shrunk down into a young man with brown hair and green eyes. He wore a square-faced wristwatch on his left arm and his face had his usual cocky smirk. “Back to Incarcecon with you, Squidhead.” He slapped a pair of handcuffs on Vilgax’s wrists. Vilgax then chuckled. “…Okay, that’s always a bad sign!”

“It won’t happen now,” remarked Vilgax, “but my allies will come for you soon! You’ll see!” The cuffs then activated a teleporter and took Vilgax away. Ben then used the Omnitrix to call his friends in the Plumbers.

“Plumber HQ, Vilgax mentioned something about a future breakout,” he warned. “Better conduct all sorts of security sweeps.”

“This is Rook, message received, and I am preparing security sweeps,” replied a man on the other end of the call. “That means you will be searched at times.”

“Good idea, Rook. Can’t risk bringing in anything Vilgax could use. I’ll be bringing in some old friends from other universes.”

“Understood.” The call then ended. Ben then turned to Megumi’s group with his usual grin.

“Enough about that, let’s get some Mr. Smoothies!”

Unbeknownst to the team, they were being watched. A strange, purple sports car was idling in an alleyway. The driver, shrouded in the shadows of the cockpit, switched a radio on. “My friends, Vilgax is currently in Plumber HQ.” he said in a rather young-sounding voice.

“Good,” replied a man on the other end. “Then the plan is working. The breakout will keep our enemies out of our hair long enough for us to snatch and grab Life! Make your way to Plumber HQ at once!”

“I’d advise you to remember that we’re partners,” warned the driver, “not master and flunky.” He hung up and drove off.

Khan saw the whole thing. He grimaced as he saw the car drive off. “Oh dear,” he muttered. “Maybe I shouldn’t have sent them here. …Nah, it’ll still work out in the long run.”

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 14: Team Assignments

The next day, after breakfast, everyone gathered in the Gateway Room on Vorton. “Minna,” called Megumi, “I didn’t want to use this method as it always weirded me out, but it’s the best method we have on making our teams. Rusty, are the dimensional coordinates set for it?”

“All five have been programmed into it,” reported Rusty.

“Into what?” asked Galvatron.

“Oh, I’ve always wanted to play that!” giggled POmega.

“Gather in a circle, everyone,” called Megumi.

“Would someone please explain to the Goblin here,” called Bashoon, “what’s going on?”

“How about the newer Vortex Riders?” asked Barbara’s father, Henry Zhou.

“Or their kids?” quizzed Brittney.

“Oh, it’s that time, hm?” asked Flora.

“POmega, do it,” called Megumi.

“Everyone, it’s time for the old Roulette Reader!” cheered POmega. A circular trapdoor opened and revealed a screen with two arrows coming from the center. “This thing reads the dimensional coordinates, accounts for all dimensional data, and decides who is most qualified to go to a certain dimension! It was used during the Vortech Wars to help decide who would go with the Keystone Bearers when there was a seven-person limit on the Gateway! Everyone, it’s time for a bit of Visitor Chance!” Game show lights then flashed as holographic showgirls appeared and danced. The Gateway Pad was also flashing in different colors as the arrows spun around in different circles. “And the ones ready to go to Universe 8-3-N-1-0 are…!” called POmega. The arrows stopped at various people before turning again as POmega rattled off the names. “…Amelia!” A woman with a veil over her hair bowed and smiled. “…Arcee” Arcee gulped. “…Arsha!” Arsha chuckled. “…Charline!” A woman with the same color of skin as Fordelam nodded. “…Foresna!” Foresna smiled nervously. “…Galen!” Galen punched his hand in readiness. “…Glyph!” Glyph giggled and clapped her hands. “…Kaede!” Kaede adjusted her hat in confidence. “…Lisa!” Lisa smiled and showed her fangs. “…Lobstornias!” Lobstornias stroked his mustache. “…Megumi!” Megumi bowed in acceptance. “…Optimus!” Optimus smirked. “…Orbak!” Orbak checked the wheels of his chair before giving a thumbs-up. “…Rosadera!” Rosadera curtsied. “…Sandy!” Sandy adjusted her gloves. “…Shadow!” Shadow grunted and folded his arms across his chest. “…Sky Runner!” Sky Runner jumped excitedly. “…Sonic!” Sonic jogged in place with a smirk on his face. “…Sora!” Sora gulped. “…Torya!” Torya gave a thumbs up. “…Willmef!” Willmef cracked her knuckles. “…and Xiomara!” A woman in green put a reassuring hand on Sora’s shoulder.

“You’ll do fine, mi hijo,” she assured him.

“The team heading to T-H-0-M-4-5-4-N-D-F-R-1-3-N-D-5 will consist of…Amy!” Amy summoned her hammer and rested it on her shoulder. “…Azuliterii!” Azuliterii ran her hand through her hair. “…Blackarachnia!” Blackarachnia flexed her talons. “…Brittney!” Brittney checked her makeup in a pocket mirror. “…Daniel!” Daniel practiced his kicks and punches before adopting a ready stance. “…Emma!” Emma’s tail twitched as she smiled. “…Endram!” Endram adjusted his arms. “…Falnii!” Falnii took a deep breath to calm her nerves. “…Flora!” Flora gave a nervous smile. “…Glanthel!” Glanthel saluted. “…Goldbug!” Goldbug swung the Magnus Hammer before pointing it out in front of him. “…Hanako!” Hanako’s tails flicked. “…Hejema!” Hejema giggled in happiness. “…Irina!” A woman in blue and orange twirled before stopping and curtsying. “…Kaitlyn!” Kaitlyn winked in triumph. “…Kong!” Kong Primal pounded his chest and roared like his beast mode. “…Richard!” Richard pointed as if he was gonna make a home run. “…Sira!” Sira coyly fiddled with the ribbon of her hairpiece. “…Swalmu!” A man in a cloud dress, Flora’s husband and the father of their children, fanned himself. “…Teletraan!” Teletraan’s android body smirked. “…Thundercracker!” Thundercracker projected lightning between his hands. “…Wilson!” A Mobian Quokka, Katrina’s father and Amelia’s husband, gave a wide grin. “…And Yufantel!” Yufantel made a cloud ball and ran it along her arms.

“Something sounds familiar about that universe’s identifier string,” muttered Teletraan, “but I can’t put my code on it.

“The teammates for 4-D-R-3-X-1-4 will be…Bashoon!” Bashoon’s ears flapped. “…Cosmo!” Cosmo giggled. “…Dinara!” A woman in yellow, Michael and Irina’s daughter, gave a flirty look. “…Elmpam!” Elmpam wagged her tail. “…Emily!” Emily flicked her braid. “…Famine!” A gaunt woman with golden-yellow skin quickly polished off her bucket of popcorn before punching her hand. “…Firestorm!” Firestorm nodded in cocky amusement. “…Fitri!” Fitri spun around and smiled. “…Gabriella!” Gabriella did a small Flamenco Dance routine before she finished with a swish of her skirts. “…Geltar!” Geltar made a cocky smirk as she held her hand under her chin. “…Lacey!” Lacey adjusted the flower in her hair before smiling. “…Llyra!” Llyra flashed her claws and teeth. “…Malnar!” Malnar made a small fireball and held it aloft. “…Maria!” Maria pulled a wrench out of nowhere and twirled it. “…Moradelia!” Moradelia smiled and sighed contentedly. “…Natalie!” Natalie used her duster like a sword and made a few slashes. “…Override!” Override gunned her engine in Robot Mode. “…Palmarta!” Palmarta shimmied. “…Rojenthi!” Rojenthi punched the air. “…Rouge!” Rouge chuckled in her usual sultry manner. “…Scorpainia!” Scorpainia’s tail swished and stopped as the tip was above her head. “…Sophie!” Henry’s wife and Barbara’s mother, a short woman with white hair, clapped in approval. “…Trema!” Trema ran her fingers along her hat’s brim. “…And Verdutha!” Verdutha chuckled happily.

“It’s been a while since we visited them,” Moradelia told Rojenthi and Verdutha. Her teammates nodded in agreement.

“Heading to J-4-K-4-N-D-D-4-X-T-3-R are…Adam!” Adam twirled a pencil between his fingers. “…Brendan!” Jandro’s husband, a Vampire like him, stroked his dress’s skirts. “…Death!” Death spun her scythe. “…Delselii!” Delselii laughed like a certain Frankenstein monster from a certain sit-com. “…Eelinape!” Eelinape knelt and put his fist to the floor. “…Farmee!” Farmee checked his gloves and pearl necklace. “Frenzy!” A Decepticon of human height primed his gun and made a “come at me” pose. “…Galvatron!” Galvatron placed his hand over his Spark, then stood at attention. “…Gorfanth!” Gorfanth swished his tail and his ears flicked. “…Henry!” Henry adjusted his doctor’s coat. “…Jack!” Jack flashed his usual flirty grin. “…Jandro!” Jandro chuckled as he adjusted his hair-rose. “…Jason!” Jason saluted as his French dad, Emmanuel, would. “…Joshua!” Emily’s husband and Sam and Tom’s father, a man with a cravat and hat, adjusted his sleeves. “…Knuckles!” Knuckles banged his fists together. “…Lardeth!” Lardeth twirled before posing. “…Liam!” Liam sang a snatch of Loch Lomond. “…Megatron!” Megatron adopted a battle stance. “…Pofomo!” Pofomofo checked her nails in confidence. “…Hot Rod!” Hot Rod leveled his arms and aimed his pipes ahead of him. “…Sam!” Sam swung his katanas. “…Tails!” Tails smirked as he hovered in the air. “…And the Doctor!” The Doctor twirled her sonic screwdriver.

“Looks like a father-son mission, Dad,” mused Galvatron. Megatron nodded in pride.

“That leaves only Team T-M-N-T, consisting of…Agus” A Mobian Komodo Dragon man, Lacey’s husband and Emma’s dad, checked his claws. “…Barbara!” Barbara giggled happily. “…Elgrad!” Elgrad puffed his chest up. “…Endea!” Endea clapped happily at her next new universe. “…Fordelam!” Fordelam smirked and put his hands behind his head in a relaxed manner. “…Hiroki!” Hiroki bowed in the usual Japanese manner. “…Jazz!” Jazz did the Michael Jackson Lean. “…Katrina!” Katrina’s tail twitched in nervousness. “…Laserbeak!” Another small Decepticon polished his armor. “…Leemii!” Leemii smirked as she curtsied. “…Michael!” Michael drew his sword and swished it. “…Nightbird!” Nightbird twirled her Sai. “…Pestilence!” A green woman with warts all over her body aside from her head then fluffed her skirt before folding her arms across her chest. “…Ravage!” The last small Decepticon, modeled after a humanoid panther, then twirled his guns before chuckling. “…Shade!” Shade winked and made a cute pose. “…Shockwave!” Shockwave checked her wrist computer, then adopted a ready stance. “…Silver!” Silver floated in the air thanks to his psychokinesis. “…Sweemar!” Sweemar adjusted her hair before smiling. “…Teefmanam!” Teefmanam adjusted her headset before striking her usual greeting pose when she streams. “…Tom!” Sam’s brother, a police officer, checked his gun before nodding in readiness. “…Twaldar!” A male Elf, Charline’s husband and Fordelam’s father, raised a rock from the floor and punched it into dust. “…And War!” An orange-skinned woman with battle scars all over her body and face then roared before drawing a large sword and leveling it at an invisible enemy.

“We have our teams now,” said Megumi. “It’s time to decide who the leader of each team is.”

“Do we?” asked Katrina.

“Katrina, sweetie,” said Amelia, “I know the implications don’t sit well with you, but this is a time of war. We need to have a command structure.”

“Those that wish to lead, remain where you are,” directed Megumi. “Everyone else, you may leave.” The ones who threw their hats into the ring were Arsha, Lobstornias, Megumi, Optimus, Shadow, Sonic, Endram, Goldbug, Kong, Richard, Emily, Fitri, Geltar, Llyra, Malnar, Brendan, Farmee, Galvatron, Megatron, Hot Rod, the Doctor, Hiroki, Jazz, Leemii, Ravage, Silver, and Tom. The Roulette Reader spun its arrows and rested.

“Team 1 will be led by…Megumi!” cheered POmega. “Team 2’s leader is…Richard! Team 3 will have…Emily as leader! Team 4 will be commanded by…Farmee! And Team 5 will have…Hiroki as leader!”

“With that,” called Megumi, “here’s the plan; each team will go to Vorton to be deployed to their universe. They then do what they can to get their respective Flourishment Horseman and Source. Once done, the next team will be deployed the next day. While that team is away, the rest of us will help in reconstruction. We can’t afford to leave the Horsemen of Flourishment to Khan and his forces. We HAVE to save them.”

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 13: The Full Story

Optimus and Arsha were the first to beam down. The instant she saw them, Megumi dashed towards them with a big, fat grin on her face. Optimus transformed and activated his holo-mode in time for her to tackled him and Arsha into a hug. “I’ve missed you guys so much!” she cheered.

“We missed you too!” replied Arsha.

“It’s been way too long,” remarked Optimus. They stayed in their embrace for a bit. After a while, they broke it off

“How did you guys figure out we were in trouble?” asked Megumi as the trio got up.

“Entirely by accident, actually,” replied Arsha. “Optimus and his friends and family visited…or rather, crashed into my castle in Largandra.”

“I was feeling nostalgic,” explained Optimus, “and Shockwave and Tails had the tech needed to make our own gateway.”

“…Shockwave AND Tails?” asked Megumi. “Why did you need Shockwave in the first place?”

“Well, she had the data and Tails had the equipment, so we combined the two.”

“Why was she considered at all?”

“…Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you yet, just Arsha. Well, the war’s over.”

“I see.” There was a small silence as Megumi processed what Optimus said. When she did, her eyes widened in shock. “Hold on? The war?! Your war with Megatron?! As in…properly over?! But that’s-!”

“I know.”

“W-When?! How?!”

“It was 50 years ago in our universe. We just fought against our god and destroyer and freed their gods. By then, all thoughts of civil war were gone.”

“B-But the Autobots and Decepticons have always been at war! That’s like saying there’s no more blue or the weather’s stopped! …Who won?” Optimus took in a breath before he explained.

“Officially, both factions got sick of fighting one another over a long-forgotten reason. Unofficially, the Autobots won after I beat Megatron in single combat.”

“…I…I see.”

“It’s better if you get the full story,” said Arsha. “Why don’t we have everyone brought down and we can explain.”

While Megumi reconnected with Optimus and Arsha, Sonavok and Ziddet were aboard the Imperium, outside Khan’s throne room. They were panicking beyond belief. The Beyond City Mission wasn’t supposed to end in failure. One of the throne room guards looked like he was about to squee in fanboyish glee. “Hey, I know this is a little awkward,” he said, “but…can I have your autograph?”

“Not! The time!” hissed Ziddet. The two terrified Lords then drew in a breath and projected confidence. They entered the throne room.

“Greetings, Friend Au…oh,” Sonavok’s confidence died when he saw the lighting was red instead of Borg green. “…Going for a new aesthetic, huh?” he gulped. Ziddet was starting to perspire in fear. In the flashes of light, she could see Khan sitting on the throne with the open Tome on one of the armrests, just under his forearm.

“I…er…” she then cleared her throat. “My Author, despite this-”

“So, Sonavok, Ziddet,” interrupted Khan, “you know Drake, yes?” He indicated the guard that let them in.

“…Y-Yes, the whole Collective knows him,” gulped Sonavok.

“He’s a real big fan of yours, he never misses your mission reports.”

“I-Is that a f-fact?” stammered Ziddet.

“He was just telling me about what happened this afternoon. The reason we lost Beyond City so quickly. You two didn’t notice a Zephyr woman, a Chizaran Princess, and a version of Knuckles the Echidna strike at the ground vinculum outside the school, thus letting them upload a virus to the Collective that tricked our forces into thinking it was time to regenerate, then the power net of each ship built up in a feedback loop, thus…well…boom.”

“My Author, we can explain!” urged Sonavok. Khan then looked at the passage he wrote in the Tome and read it aloud.

“‘The instant Khan shouted ‘enough’, Sonavok and Ziddet’s Agonizers switched on and introduced them to mirror-universe pain for a good minute.’” He then shut the Tome.

“My Author, WAIT!” cried Ziddet.

“ENOUGH!” shouted Khan as he stood up. The instant Khan shouted “enough”, Sonavok and Ziddet’s Agonizers switched on and introduced them to mirror-universe pain for a good minute. Once the treatment ended, Khan grabbed them by their throats and hoisted them up above his head. “You idiots had that universe in the palm of your hand and you let Megumi’s friends RESCUE THEM!” He tightened his grip. “I cannot BEGIN to express my disappointment in you!”

“M-Mercy!” choked Sonavok. “N-Nother…chance!” Khan tossed the two Lords into a web he had created earlier. Mechanical spiders held them down as they caught their breath.

“You two will be reassigned as transport drones and you will NOT be consulted for finding the Sources of Flourishment!” declared Khan.

“But if we’re not helping,” protested Ziddet, “then who?!”

“Take a wild guess,” said a new voice. Five figures could be seen in the light flashes.

Optimus and Megumi finished the story of what happened in their respective universes and Arsha was talking about the Final War to everyone. Richard locked eyes with Megatron and nodded his head in one direction. Megatron followed him. They found a private spot and sat to talk. “So,” began Richard, “you changed.”

“I’d like to think so,” rumbled Megatron.

“Both you and Arsha committed Deicide.”

“Looks that way.”

“…Megatron, you gotta understand-”

“Here we go!”

“What Optimus said you did, the fact that you got the Decepticons to put aside their differences in the long run, the way you used Starscream’s ambitions to Cybertron’s ends instead of his, the fact that you willingly fused with Optimus to become Optronix Prime to save your universe, and the mission you took to save Gaia’s moms and your universe’s creators, that can’t be overlooked. Your actions saved your people, your universe. But, before that, you used my wife as a bargaining chip, you sided with our greatest enemy, and you encouraged discord among your allies. That’s not something that can be overlooked.”

“You want me to apologize for my actions. We both know it’s a little late for that. I was conducting a war and Hiro offered Dr. Borg and I a chance to wipe out our enemies. I believed it to be in the Decepticons’ interests if we allied with him and eventually took over. Look, my son is leading the Decepticons, and I’ve retired from that life. I’ve served my sentence for my war crimes and I don’t seek further animosity between us. What I want is to see the multiverse on my terms.”


“…Okay what?”

“We’ll work together to weather this crisis.”

“Then why didn’t you just say that?!”

“Because, originally, I pulled you here to tell you to slag off back to your universe!” Megatron arched an eyebrow at that. “Just know this, I’m giving you a chance because it looks like no one else outside your universe will. So, if you let us down, if you fall back on the ways that symbol on your chest stood for, you could save the multiverse a hundred times over and it won’t make a difference to me. Basically, screw up and I demolish you.” Megatron stared at Richard for a bit, then guffawed.

“Still the same Richard Saunders, even after he lost his job! I admire that! …Very well, it looks like we have our terms.”

“All right, let’s get back to the others.” The two then returned as Arsha was finishing up.

“…so, after all that, my spouses and I raised 18 beautiful children, three of them choosing to come along.” Her attention was then grabbed by Richard and Megatron returning. “Is everything all right?” she asked.

“Fine,” said Richard. “What’s the next move here?”

“We were hoping Anansi would tell us,” replied Megumi, “but he’s not here.”

“Try again,” called a voice. Everyone looked up to see Anansi on the ceiling. As they gasped, he dropped to the floor. “So, want to know what Khan is? What he wants? Well, I will tell you. Years ago, I worked with a version of Khan, an evil duplicate who conquered his version of Earth. He then crossed the rift and found Khan when he was just a fanboy writing fanfic. After I gave him the Weaver Driver, I trained him as my student, but then I told him about the Tome. He took control of the Borg guarding it and made them into his servants, the Lords. He went against his own parents and discovered he could remove evil and become the god of a new multiverse. To do that, though, he needs the Time Amethyst, the Mirror of Reality, and the Master Wand to make a clock symbol to place on the Tome to help him rewrite history. After that, he needs the Sources of Flourishment and the Apocalypse to help him determine how each element will work for his new universes.”

“The only Sources I know are the Sources of the Apocalypse, those crystal spheres the Horsemen of the Apocalypse hid in different universes,” remarked Megumi. “What are the Sources of Flourishment?”

“That, I can answer,” whispered Death. “The Sources of Flourishment belong to our opposite Horsemen; they are Life, Health, Bounty, Peace, and Order. They are our sisters and exist as balances for us. They used to live with us, but Lacey’s predecessor, the original Chaos, was thrown into the Void by Lord Vortech. Because of that, we needed a new Horseman of Chaos. After the original Chaos died, the Horsemen of Flourishment left in grief, with Order taking it the hardest.”

“They could be anywhere,” muttered Megatron.

“No, actually, we have their dimensional coordinates,” replied Death. “Life is in 8-3-N-1-0, Bounty is in T-H-0-M-4-5-4-N-D-F-R-1-3-N-D-5, Health is in J-4-K-4-N-D-D-4-X-T-3-R, Peace is in 4-D-R-3-X-1-4, and Order is in T-M-N-T.”

“All right, then there’s one thing we need to do!” declared Megumi. “We can’t afford to send everyone to the same universe, so we’ll divide into teams! Everyone, meet on Vorton for Team Assignments.”

“And we better train for Transcendant use,” Optimus suggested to Arsha.

“That’s right,” agreed Arsha. “We’re gonna need Kamen Rider Vortex: Trinity Soul for this one.” Megumi winced.

“About that…” she said. She then pulled out an oblong device with the Vortex Driver’s Ride Wheel on each side. Ordinarily, it would open to fit with the main Ride Wheel, but there was a problem. It was cracked, charred, and bent!

“What happened?!” yelped Optimus.

“It was during a mission in Gotham,” explained Megumi. “The Justice League had discovered that someone from the Joker’s old gang gained access to Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit and dumped the Joker’s body in there. Somehow, it hadn’t decayed all that much and the Joker came back to life, stronger and crazier than ever.” Arsha shuddered.

“I remember that demon clown!” she gulped. “Him and that Smylex of his!”

“Since the Joker died before the Transcendant was built, I figured I’d catch him off guard. The thing is it only worked because of your three. When I tried to use it by myself, it sparked wildly and flew off my Vortex Driver in the state you see it now. We still beat him back with the Justice League’s help. My team has been trying to fix it, but they’re hitting a wall here.”

“We’ve got our own scientists,” offered Optimus. “They can help.”

“And maybe some magic can help things along,” suggested Arsha.

“Thanks, you two. Right now, we’d be sunk without you.” Megumi hugged them again, then turned to address everyone. “All right, everyone, report to Vorton tomorrow for team assignments. There’s an old method we need to use.”

“…Old method?” asked Megatron.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 12: Full Reunion

It took every technically minded person a full two hours to make the virus. Once done, Tails approached them. “All right, we’re ready,” he said to Optimus, Sonic, Arsha, Rosadera, Megatron, and Galvatron.

“We still need to make our strike team,” remarked Galvatron.

“The Borg tend to ignore small groups unless that group attacks them,” said Optimus. “A two- or three-person team should do the trick.”

“And it should consist of people that are smaller than us,” remarked Megatron.

“Then that leaves me, Sonic, and Rosadera,” declared Arsha.

“We can’t go down there unless it’s cleared of Borg,” said Rosadera. “We’re the leaders. If they assimilate us, we’re all hosed. Besides, Azuliterii’s better with computers than I am.”

“Well, I’m not sending my family down there!” snarled Sonic. “And the Enterprise needs Shadow on the bridge!”

“…What about Knuckles?” asked Optimus. “His punches should break through Borg armor no sweat.”

“If he and Rouge are up for it, then that’s a perfect idea.”

“What about Liam?” asked Galvatron.

“He’s needed on the Virginia,” said Arsha.

“I’m going,” said a voice. It was Teefmanam!

“Out of the question!” protested Arsha.

“Arsha, with all due respect, that’s not your call to make.”

“Teefmanam, no! This isn’t one of the games you stream! If Lardeth is forced to bury you-!”

“Arsha, my mind is made up! I’m going whether you approve or not!” Arsha looked to her friends for help.

“Azuliterii will protect her,” assured Rosadera. “You have my word.”

“…Lardeth’s gonna kill me if you die, THEN he’s gonna divorce me!” groaned Arsha.

“Neither will happen, I promise,” said Teefmanam.

An hour later, after Azuliterii, Teefmanam, and Knuckles were assembled and briefed on how the plan would go, the three of them gathered in the Gateway Room. Rusty keyed in the coordinates. “All set,” she reported. “Opening a rift.”

“Away we go,” said Azuliterii. The rift opened and the team jumped in.

Back at After Academy, Megumi headed to her bike. She fastened her Vortex Driver and inserted her i.d tag into it. “Henshin,” she announced, and she spun the wheel. She became Kamen Rider Royal and mounted her bike.

“No,” said Richard’s voice.

“We’ve discussed this already,” replied Royal.

“It’s a suicide run! The Lords are still Borg!”

“I can take out as many as I can. Besides, we can’t die.”

“Yeah, but you can still be assimilated!”

“Richard, my mind is made up!” Royal gunned the engine.

“Our kids still need you!” Royal’s fingers stopped before they wrapped around the throttle.

“…Our daughters are independent,” she sighed. “Believe it or not, they no longer need me. They’re grown, capable fighters.”

“Megumi, please! Don’t leave me!” Royal declined her head.

“…Our daughters’ freedom is more important than mine. …Be strong for me.” She twisted the throttle and sped off. She went through the shield wall and met with a wall of Lords firing on the school.

“THERE SHE IS!” called a Lord. “OPEN FIRE! STUN ONLY!” The Lords fired their disruptors. Royal’s bike projected shields, but they wouldn’t last long. She went faster and burst through the ranks, causing Lords to be scattered into the air. She then turned the bike sideways and skidded to a stop, dragging her foot along the road as a means of braking. The Lords charged and Royal summoned her sword, converted it to rifle mode, and fired as long as she could before the Lords got too close and she had to switch it back to sword mode.

While the fight was going on, Knuckles and his team headed to the ground vinculum. Azuliterii began keying in commands. “Come on, don’t let there be so many redundant safeguards!” she muttered. Teefmanam then looked over.

“Uh oh, some of them are getting wise!” she warned.

“That’s our cue!” said Knuckles as he banged his fists together. As the Lords opened fire, Teefmanam fired her wand while Knuckles threw different projectiles. A few of the Lords were hit. One of the ones still standing looked over his fallen comrade, then his face contorted in rage.

“You killed Amanda!” he snarled as he looked at Teefmanam. “I will make you suffer for that!”

“She’s not dead!” said a lightly armored Lord. “She’s just damaged! She needs repairs in her alcove!”

“Get her there now!” ordered the distressed Lord.

“Am I hearing that right?!” called Azuliterii. “The Borg are using individual pronouns?!”

“Never mind that!” urged Knuckles. Just then, Azuliterii cheered.

“It’s done!” At that, the Lords realized that a new command came through.

“We can’t be THAT low on power!” argued one.

“It doesn’t matter, we all need to regenerate,” replied the Strike Commander. The Lords then ceased firing and beamed up to their Cube.

“Optimus, the virus is working! Repeat, the virus is working!” Teefmanam called.

“Roger that,” replied Optimus’ voice. “Get to the school and hide out there. We’re on our way.” The call then ended.

Royal continued swinging her sword into the Lords. She was beginning to tire. “What’s the matter, Princess?” taunted a Lord woman. “Can’t lift your sword?”

“Too many crumpets slowing you down?” taunted a Lord man.

“Still strong enough to stop you!” panted Royal. Just then, a call came through for the Lords.

“…Aw!” complained the woman. “We were having fun!”

“No matter,” sighed the man. “We gotta go.” The Lords then beamed out.

“…Eh?!” asked Royal. She then got a call.

“Megumi! Megumi, please respond!” begged the caller, her husband.

“I’m all right, Richard,” replied Megumi. “Just…confused.”

“Oh, thank the Chizarans!” sighed Richard happily. “Megumi, there’s been a drastic reduction in Lord ground troops! They all beamed up!”

“Well, I’m not complaining. “I’m heading back. Maybe we can get some-”


“Richard! Richard, are you-!”

“Azuliterii just popped in with one of Swalmu’s people and a version of Knuckles!”

“Azuliterii?! I’m DEFINITELY on my way!” Royal mounted her bike and sped off.

Royal got back behind the school’s walls and met Azuliterii and her companions. She transformed back into Megumi and hugged the Chizaran. “It’s been way too long!” she said.

“You’re not kidding,” agreed Azuliterii. The embrace broke off, then Azuliterii bonked Megumi on the head. “That stunt, on the other hand, we ALL could have done without!”

“Richard!” hissed Megumi, guessing who told her. “I did what I needed to do!”

“Throwing away your freedom like that is NEVER an acceptable solution! Not when the Virginia needs you!”

“…B…But the Virginia’s orbiting Vorton and we’ve engaged the Knightfall Protocols.”

“There were people, two that you know, that got wise to the Borg invading.”

“…No way!”

“They wanted to visit you. They can’t do that if you’re assimilated.”

“Why did everyone go back to their ships?” Sonavok demanded a Cardassian Lord woman, Ziddet.

“It looks like a good chunk of our forces,” she replied, “were told to report to their alcoves for regeneration.”

“All of them?”

“Only the Juggernaut and Imperium are unaffected.”

“…Hold on, something’s speaking through the hive mind. Let me hear it.” Ziddet keyed in a command on the nearby console and a voice crackled to life.

“Nine. Eight. Seven. Six,” droned the voice. Sonavok and Ziddet then realized what that countdown was all about when they detected power net buildups in the affected ships.

“GET OUT!” Sonavok shouted through both the hive mind and out loud. “GET OUT OF THERE!” He could feel the drones disconnecting from their alcoves, but it was too little, too late. The Lord fleet exploded, leaving only the Imperium and Juggernaut to weather the explosions.

“Optimus made that virus?!” asked Megumi

“He suggested the parameters,” corrected Azuliterii. “Speaking of which…” she then made a call. “Strike team to Vorton, the Borg threat is lessened! Repeat, the Borg lost too many drones for them!”

“Just enough for us!” cheered Optimus on the other end. “We’re on our way!” A fleet-sized rift then opened and the Virginia led the fleet into the universe.

“Dammit! Optimus and Arsha made it!” groaned Sonavok.

“We have to fight back!” urged Ziddet. “I’ll rally our remaining-!”

“Hey, Ziddet, Sonavok,” called a Bajoran Lord woman, “the Author wants to see you as we retreat.” Sonavok and Ziddet’s blood ran cold.

The remainder of the Lord fleet entered their own rift and abandoned Beyond City. Everyone cheered as the enemy fled. A call then came through. “This is Optimus Prime, requesting permission on behalf of the Ark, Enterprise, and Nemesis to beam down.”

“This is Arsha Royana, Queen of the Realms, requesting the same permission on behalf of the Endeavor and Glanthelantir,” said Arsha’s voice on the same call.

“This is Queen Scorpainia, also requesting landing permission on behalf of the Hammer of Tarlax.”

“Permission granted,” replied Death on the comms channel. “Welcome back, old friends.”

“Happy to be back,” said Optimus.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 11: Gathering Allies

“Because of COURSE the situation wasn’t dire enough without the Borg!” grunted Megatron.

“Megatron, please!” snapped Nightbird.

“How did the Borg even get into that universe?!” asked Elphaba.

“It doesn’t matter,” replied Goldbug. “The only way we can save them is if we make a strike now!”

“I’m not about to send Autobots over to be assimilated!” replied Optimus.

“Neither will I send any Decepticons,” agreed Galvatron.

“But Galvatron,” argued Goldbug, “our friends might be assimilated! We gotta reverse the process now!”

“The Decepticons have a long history of going into situations half-cocked, my own father’s schemes being the more recent examples that YOU, of all bots, should know, and I refuse to repeat those mistakes unless there’s no other alternative. If we attack now, without any knowledge of their weaknesses, the Borg will adapt and assimilate us. I won’t help on that kind of suicide run.”

“What about the Chizarans or the Tarlaxians?” asked Arsha. “They have ships.”

“And the Borg ships have a vinculum at the hearts of their vessels that suppress all individual thoughts and keep each drone connected to the Collective,” mused Optimus. “If we can distract the Borg enough to upload that virus into multiple vinculums, it could create enough damage to the Collective.”

“That still depends on what the virus will do,” remarked Goldbug.

“A feedback loop,” said Optimus. “The virus should tell the drones of each ship that it’s time for their regeneration cycle. They’ll beam aboard and begin the regeneration process, disabling their electromagnetic field and put them at minimal power. With every drone regenerating, it will cause the power net to feedback on itself and trigger a self-destruct sequence.”

“That kind of virus won’t last a long time,” remarked Megatron.

“It should be enough for our ships and allies to swoop in and save them,” replied Arsha.

“I’ll have Shockwave work with other technically minded individuals to help construct the virus,” offered Galvatron. “Now that we have an actual plan, you’ll have the Decepticons’ help.”

“I’ll contact Tarlax 14 Alpha and Chizara Prime,” offered the Brigadier.

“We’re on the clock now,” called Arsha. “Let’s get moving.” Everyone headed off. Galvatron stopped Megatron.

“Listen, Dad, about what I said-” he began.

“You spoke the truth,” interrupted Megatron. “I DID go half-cocked back in the day. You’ve learned from the mistakes of others very well. Though, if I might critique one thing, you should be a smidge more…diplomatic in your approach.”

“Yes, Father.”

“That’s my boy!” Megatron patted Galvatron’s shoulder with pride.

“It’s amazing,” muttered Arsha as she saw the whole thing.

“What is?” asked Optimus.

“How Cold, Distant Megatron became a dad.”

“Arsha, Megatron has changed over the years. He DOES regret what he did. That’s why he joined us when we visited you, to make amends.”

“From what I heard, Autobots died because of him!”

“Ah ah! You misheard. Autobots died when he was in charge of the Decepticons, but he didn’t cause their deaths.”

“He’s responsible for his men.”

“Ironhide died because of an acolyte of our destroyer and Chromia died of metal fatigue. Neither death was the result of Megatron or his men.”

“…I guess I’m still bitter about what his men did when they first visited the Realms.” Optimus winced at that. There wasn’t anything he could say. “I’ll work with him to free Beyond City from the Borg, but I’m not sure I can forgive or forget.” Arsha left to assist in the preparations. Optimus sighed. He had a feeling that Megumi would have similar feelings for Megatron.

Optimus, Arsha, and Megatron were standing by the Gateway as the Brigadier began calling an ally. “This is Vorton on the Emergency Channel, calling Castle Spectrum on Chizara Prime. Chizara Prime, do you read?”

“This is Rosadera, reading you loud and clear, Brigadier,” replied a woman’s voice that they all recognized. “Does this trouble concern the loss of communications between us and Beyond City?”

“It does, Rosadera,” confirmed the Brigadier. “And we have allies that helped us find out what happened. Arsha and Optimus are back.”

“Are they there?”

“Right here, Rosadera,” replied Optimus. “The Borg have invaded Beyond City.”

“The Borg?! How did that happen?!”

“It doesn’t matter,” answered Arsha. “What matters is that we have a plan to get them out of there, but we need your help.”

“Me, my fellow Major Princesses, and a few people from Beyond City that got trapped here will be there the instant this call ends.”

“We’ll see you then,” replied Optimus. The call ended and five different lights flashed. They were pink, purple, red, blue, and green and they all turned into different humanoid shapes. The pink light turned into a woman with pink hair, eyes, and a pink dress, as well as a woman in a red dress with red eyes. The green light turned into a woman with green hair, eyes, and a greed dress as well as a woman in orange with a rodent’s tail. The blue light turned into a woman with the same hair, eyes, and dress color, but possessing hair that touched the floor, and it also turned into a man with Elven features, bright green eyes, and orange-toned skin as well as a woman with white hair, a blue dress, and a white monkey tail. The purple light revealed a woman with the same hair, eyes, and dress and revealed a woman with a yellow dress and lizard tail. The red light became a woman with the same hair, eyes, and dress and became three blue-haired women in cloud dresses as well as a man in a dress. “Good to see you again, My Ladies,” greeted Optimus.

“And it’s nice to meet the new guys,” said Arsha.

“Lovely to see you too, Arsha and Optimus,” returned the woman in pink, Rosadera. “I don’t believe you met everyone, so may I introduce Jason Babineaux…”

“Bonjour and Guten Tag,” greeted the dress-wearing man.

“Fordelam Endri…”

“How’s it going?” asked the Elf-looking man.

“Brittney Dormu…”

“Hello!” said the woman with red eyes. Fangs appeared as she smiled.

“Emma Atmadja…”

“Welcome to Vorton!” greeted the woman with the lizard tail.

“Barbara Zhou…”

“Howdy!” called the woman with the monkey tail.

“Katrina Andrews…”

“Lovely to meet you,” greeted the woman with the rodent tail as the woman in green, Verdutha, hugged her from behind.

“Fitri Damfel…”

“Hi there!” called a blue-haired woman wearing what looked like a doughnut-style cloud on her head.

“Leemii Damfel…”

“Hello!” said a blue-haired woman with a high-collar on her dress.

“And Willmef Damfel.”

“How do you do?” asked the last blue-haired woman as she adjusted the fabric in her cloud hairpiece.

“Are these all the Herald Riders’ kids?” asked Optimus.

“Indeed, they are,” answered the woman in blue, Azuliterii.

“You said something about the Borg,” reminded the woman in red, Rojenthi.

“Are they safe?” asked the woman in purple, Moradelia.

“We don’t know,” replied Arsha. “We’re calling the Tarlaxians for help.”

“This is Vorton on the Emergency Channel,” said the Brigadier as he made the next call, “calling the Imperial Palace on Tarlax 14 Alpha. Tarlax 14 Alpha, do you read?”

“This is Tarlax 14 Alpha, Prince Lobstornias replying,” came a voice. “We’re in the middle of figuring out why we can’t go to After Academy. Our gateway there has shut down.”

“Your Highness, the Borg have invaded Beyond City.”

“Okay, so since this is the Emergency Channel and knowing you, Brigadier, this isn’t a joke. I’ll have Mom and Dad prepare the Imperial Navy. We should be there within the hour, faster if we can.”

“Please hurry.” The Brigadier ended the call and turned to his audience. “Now we wait.”

The Tarlaxians’ arrival took about half an hour. Three different humanoids appeared. One was a woman with scorpion features, another was a man with eel features, and the last was a man with lobster features. They were Scorpainia, Eelinape, and Lobstornias, the ruling family of the Tarlaxians. “Is it true?” asked Scorpainia when she and her family met everyone. “The Borg have invaded Beyond City?”

“I’m afraid so,” replied Liam. “We’ve got an idea on how to get them out, but we need a plan of attack.”

“I understand you have the plans for After Academy?” asked Optimus.

“I do,” confirmed Scorpainia. “Normally, I wouldn’t even consider showing you all, but the Borg’s reputation is well-known among my people. What you’re about to see does not go outside the confines of this room, is that clear?” Everyone nodded. Scorpainia activated a holographic display of the school with its siege protocols enacted. “The shield wall is simply the first line of defense. There are numerous guns ready to pop out of the ground should it fail. With how the Borg can adapt, it’s likely that it will fall quickly. Each gun modulates its energy frequency, but it’s never been tested on how effective it is against Borg vessels, just the drones. There are also mines that can be deployed, both underground and in the air. We need to weaken the Borg’s adaptability.”

“That’s where our plan comes in,” offered Optimus. “If we can get aboard a vessel, we can find its vinculum and introduce a virus that will trigger a self-destruct command on all Borg vessels in the vicinity.”

“Then we need a small strike team,” said the Brigadier as he pulled up another holographic display, this time displaying the Borg Siege in real time. “It looks like there’s a machine on the outskirts of the wall that matches all known descriptions of a Borg vinculum.”

“That will make uploading the virus easier,” mused Optimus. “Once the virus is uploaded and enough Borg vessels are destroyed, our ships swoop in and mop up the rest of the Borg.”

“We leave once the virus is completed,” declared Arsha. “We can’t afford to wait a second longer.” She then sighed. “What a way to reconnect with your friends.”