A day after the battle of Chizara, Blancalmarem and Nemengra began their usual broadcast. “I am Blancalmarem, the white princess of Chizara and the life leader,” began Blancalmarem.
“I am Nemengra, the black princess of Chizara and the death leader,” finished Nemengra.
“And this time, Vortech is well and truly DEAD!” continued Blancalmarem.
“Our state of emergency is over!” cheered Nemengra.
“We will all be returning to Chizara for the, thankfully, minor amount of clean-up,” proclaimed Blancalmarem.
“However, we AREN’T finishing the 3V2R just yet,” interjected Nemengra.
“After the battle of Chizara,” explained Blancalmarem, “we’re giving everyone a year relative to your universe’s time-scale to recuperate and reconnect.”
“This was the most stressful time for the multiverse,” continued Nemengra, “and we all need to recover from it.”
“We thank you all for your patience,” bid Blancalmarem.
“We’ll see you all in a year!” finished Nemengra. The broadcast ended and Megumi and Richard switched the t.v. off.
“Well, that was nice of them,” mused Richard. “So, a Chizaran year is…?”
“…I’m not sure what a Chizaran year is to us,” remarked Megumi. “Computer, how long is a year in Universe 1-A?”
“2 years for our universe,” replied the computer.
“And for our friends?” asked Richard.
“Ten days for Arsha’s home,” answered the computer, “five years for Optimus’ home.”
“We might as well invite them here to relax,” suggested Richard.
“I’m sure they wouldn’t mind,” agreed Megumi. Just then, there was a knock on the door.
“I wonder who that is?” muttered Richard as he went to answer the door. He opened it to reveal Haruna with a package in her hands.
“Delivery for Mr. Saunders?” she chuckled.
“Oh…yeah…” mumbled Richard as he remembered the bet. He let Haruna in and opened the package to reveal a replica of Megumi’s dress in his measurements and colored green. It even came with the hairpiece.
“All right, let’s see how it looks!” chuckled Megumi. She and Richard took the dress into their room and shut the door. Richard stripped to his underpants, then Megumi helped him into the dress. First came the skirts, then the bodice, then the hairpiece. “Now, give me a twirl,” she directed. Richard did so and Megumi looked him over as he twirled. “…You know, it actually looks good on you.”
“It feels comfy,” conceded Richard. “Wait, is the bodice moving with me?”
“That’s how us girls get enough air,” replied Megumi. “Now, come on, Mom needs to see this.” She and Richard returned to the living room and Haruna smiled.
“Now that IS a good look for you,” she praised.
“You know, this actually airs out my legs better than my pants did,” remarked Richard. “Given the body differences between the two, I’m surprised it’s women that wear skirts instead of men.”
“The Scots had it right,” chuckled Haruna.
“Okaa-san, Richard,” interjected Megumi, “the Scots used it as a cloth multitool.” Haruna and Richard looked at Megumi with a look of disbelief. “…I’m not joking! Ask Liam and Death! They can confirm it!”
“Speaking of certain Anthropomorphic Personifications,” Richard recalled, “did anyone hear from War?”
“No,” sighed Megumi. “I hope she’s okay.”
“I haven’t heard anything from her either,” muttered Haruna. “It’s Founding Day tomorrow, isn’t it?”
“It is,” replied Megumi. “I hope she gets here in time.”
War was still onboard the Ruthless, contemplating the events leading to Vortech’s return. All she did was give the necessary orders to Skyfall, Quake Hammer, and X-PO. Speaking of, Quake Hammer had a report to give to War. He met X-PO in the halls. “Hey!” called X-PO. “Been trying to get you for a while! War gave me the order that she’s not seeing anyone. Any reports you got need to be handed to me.”
“Well, here’s one such report,” muttered Quake Hammer as he presented a data-pad to X-PO.
“…Wow, fascinating,” sighed X-PO. “30 particles of space dust per cubic meter, 27 ultraviolet radiation spikes, and a class 1 comet. Well now, we’re certainly having fun, aren’t we?”
“X-PO, why is War just taking us all over reality?” asked Quake Hammer.
“Let’s just say recent events,” replied X-PO, “left War feeling a little directionless. She feels like she needs to find ‘something’ out here and needs a crew to help her find it. So, with our experience on this ship, we’re the most likely candidates.”
“Well, I wish she told us!” snapped Quake Hammer.
War sat in her ready room, just staring off into space. Listlessness had taken hold of her spirit. Then…it happened! “Waaaaaar,” called a voice. War’s senses were heightened at hearing that. “Waaaaaar,” repeated the voice.
“Hello?” quizzed War.
“Waaaaaar!” the voice answered back as its source shimmered into view. It was a heavyset man in a blue shirt and unbuttoned brown jacket, brown pants, a brown tie, a silk scarf, angled glasses, a brown hat, chains, and a flintlock pistol in a holster. “Waaaaaar, it is I, Jacob…” War immediately got him into a headlock.
“WHO ARE YOU?!” she bellowed.
“Friggin’ hey, lady!” gasped the intruder. “I’m Jacob Marley!”
“A load of nonsense!” roared War. “Jacob Marley’s a Victorian Ghost and his chains were made of metal, not whatever lightweight material YOURS are made of! Besides, he’s cold to the touch!”
“There’s more than one of us, you idiot!” gagged the man. “It’s not like Santa where we visit every jerk in one day!” War then shoved the man away, then got a good look at him.
“Wait, aren’t you that Linkara guy?” she asked as the man recovered.
“That’s me,” confirmed the man, “the host of Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Right now, some lady in yellow-green told me to snap you out of whatever mood you’re in.” He took his chains off and let them fall to the floor.
“But you have your own show,” remarked War.
“I know,” grumbled Linkara, “but it doesn’t always produce a lot of money. I took the ‘Jacob Marley’ thing to help pay the rent.”
“Look, I have a million problems right now,” grunted War, “and holidays aren’t one of them.”
“Oh, we deal with a wide variety of people who need a good swift kick in the pants,” replied Linkara, “and your name was high on the list.”
“Well, I doubt you or your crew can help me,” remarked War.
“You’re worried about your friend, Megumi, right?” guessed Linkara.
“Okay, one, the stress is on the FIRST syllable, not the second!” snapped War. “Second, what could YOU know of her?!”
“Well, Vyce DID have some files on when he tried to stop Vortech, failing miserably in the process,” answered Linkara. “He got ticked when he heard who actually beat him when he possessed my ship.”
“…Story of my life,” snarked War.
“The thing is, you need to trust her more,” offered Linkara.
“I trust her just fine,” argued War, “I just don’t trust myself around her.”
“Then I think I know who in my crew’s gonna be Christmas Past for this one,” chuckled Linkara.
“No! I’m not suffering your ‘three spirits’!” snapped War.
“Don’t have much say about it, lady!” called Linkara. “Nimue, beam me back and send in Harvey!”
“Confirmed,” replied an emotionless woman’s voice. Linkara faded away as a lounge singer appeared. He looked a lot like Linkara.
“Harvey Finevoice, Ghost of Christmas Past, at your service, babe,” he greeted, his Brooklyn accent coming on strong.
“Why are YOU the past?” asked War.
“Dunno, depends on your story,” replied Harvey as he took a drag out of his cigarette. “What was life like before you met Megumi?”
“…That actually starts a few centuries back,” revealed War as the scene faded to a war-torn landscape with Vortonian bodies littering the ground. “Vortech was in the midst of slaughtering his people.”
“Okay, gruesome,” winced Harvey. “Where were you when Vortech was taking his red-water bath?”
“I was outside a cemetery, never actually going in closer to see one of my daughters,” explained War.
“…You and I have more in common than the kid thought,” sighed Harvey. “How old was she?”
“Too young,” mumbled War. “Her father left me after she died and I don’t blame him. Our child was gone and I was a wreck. After he had finished exterminating his people, Vortech approached me and requested me to make a sword for him. He claimed that he could bring back the dead and give a perfect life when he got a hold of the Foundation Elements. Bringing the dead back? You bet I was going to accept. He gave me the skin from his face to work with and I created the Foundation Saber with it. I hid my true intentions from my fellow Horsemen until Megumi and her friends started the Vortech Wars. I was snapped out of Vortech’s hold and joined Megumi’s side. …Things became a lot simpler with Ichi.”
“…Ichi?” asked Harvey.
“…M-Megumi, I said Megumi,” grunted War.
“War, where do you think you are right now?” quizzed Harvey.
“I’m watching my past in HD with a guy who acts like he popped out of Guys and Dolls!” snapped War.
“No, that ain’t it at all!” argued Harvey. “Well, my time is done. I think a realist will help you keep your head in the present. Nims, send Blue Boy down. I’m done here.”
“Confirmed,” replied Nimue.
“No, not putting up with this now!” growled War as she stormed onto the bridge.
“There you are!” called X-PO. “The Daedalus is alongside our starboard bow! We’re ready to…!”
“Just get us out of here!” snapped War. “I’m in no mood for Linkara’s shenanigans!”
“But…!” spluttered Quake Hammer.
“It’s not Vyce’s ship anymore!” interjected War. “It’s Linkara’s! He calls it Comicron-1 now.!
“Er, guys,” gulped Skyfall, “bright light incoming!” The light engulfed the ship and blinded everyone onboard. When everyone regained their vision, they noticed they weren’t on the Ruthless any more.
“What in the…?” spluttered X-PO.
“Just a little something the Chizarans helped us cook up,” explained a British voice. Everyone yelped to see an armless blue robot with a hover-skirt and a beak with a single red visor for his eyes. “I beg your pardon,” apologized the robot, “did I startle you?”
“No, we just like yelping in surprise all the time!” snapped War.
“I do apologize,” bid the robot.
“So, the armless Pollo is my Ghost of Christmas Present?” muttered War.
“Yeah, sure, attack me at my weak points, why don’t you?!” snarled the robot, Pollo.
“Look, I’m in no mood for all this, so take a hike!” growled War.
“Oh, I don’t know, I think we should at least see this,” mused Pollo. “Besides, I’m not the one who brought you here.”
“What are you…?” quizzed Skyfall.
“VECTOR PRIME’S RUSTY CROTCH!” shouted a voice. As everyone yelped, they realized that Optimus, Swalmu, Blackarachnia, and Richard were playing a game and Blackarachnia was about ready to toss the controller in rage. “WHAT IS ALL OF THIS?! RED PLANT! GREEN PLANT! YELLOW PLANT! BLUE PLANT! WHAT IS THIS?! I HATE THIS GAME! I HATE IT SO MUCH!” After her rant, she flopped to the couch and panted heavily. Just then, Megumi walked in.
“Is…er…is everything okay?” she asked.
“I can’t do it…” whimpered Blackarachnia.
“Yes, you can,” assured Megumi.
“Megumi, NO ONE can do it,” argued Richard. “Believe me, we all had our ragey moments.”
“It IS possible!” urged Megumi. “I believe in you!”
“….Right then,” declared Blackarachnia as she picked up the controller once more. “This is the Megumi shot!” She pressed a button on the controller…the WRONG one! “NO! I HIT END! I HIT END! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! FRAAAAAAAAAAACK! FRACK EVERYTHING! STUPID GAME CAN GO SUCK MY DAD’S Y-INTERFACE! YOU PIECE OF SLAGGING GARBAGE! I’LL FRACKING THROW YOU ALL INTO THE FIERY PIT!”
“Maybe I made a bad choice with this one,” mused Megumi.
“Sheesh, my girl sure knows how to pick them,” muttered War.
“…YOUR girl?” asked Pollo.
“…THE girl,” replied War.
“War, where do you think you are right now?” quizzed Pollo. War arched her eyebrow at the question before everyone was blinded by white light again and arrived at a graveyard. War looked around and saw someone in a black cowl.
“Oh, so it was YOU, huh?” snarled War. “Taking on that ridiculous black-robed skeleton look again, are we, Death? I have to say, I’m tired of all the cryptic garbage you and the Comicron-1 crew are putting me through! Either you drop the mute act or we find out if you can really handle a beating!” The figure did nothing, then unclasped the cowl to reveal a woman with a mix of Irish-American and Japanese descent. She wore a pink schoolgirl uniform with a normal amount of petticoats, significantly less than the amount After Academy uses. “…Wait, aren’t you one of Megumi’s future twins?” asked War.
“Kaitlyn Hishikawa, at your service!” greeted the woman.
“Why the pink uniform?” quizzed Quake Hammer.
“I’ve got Dual Enrollment at After Academy and Chizara University,” explained Kaitlyn.
“…The color clashes with your hair,” remarked Skyfall.
“Oh, shut up!” snapped Kaitlyn.
“What are you doing here?” inquired X-PO.
“I’m just here to help out the timeline,” replied Kaitlyn.
“How so?” asked War.
“Well, helping out a woman that’s gonna be one of my godparents seems like a good start,” mused Kaitlyn.
“Me? A godmother?” scoffed War. “Megumi’s gonna make the wrong choice.”
“Considering your future and my past, I don’t think so,” argued Kaitlyn. She pointed to one of the graves. “What’s that over there?” She indicated a gravestone.
“…Oh no, it’s someone’s gravestone!” snarked War. “This whole thing was a waste of time! First, a fat comic book nerd from Minnesota tells me I’m going on a journey to get my act together! Then, his lounge singer friend shows me the past, something that I’ve always remembered! Next was the blue tin can who showed me the present! Wow, it’s like I already LIVE in it, you twit! Now, we have you, the future! And what is the future?! …Mortals die. Of course they die! Even us immortals have a life-span! The instant the multiverse collapses and all life dies, SO DO WE! …We all die and leave when we shouldn’t. So what’s the point of showing me this?”
“War, where do you think you are right now?” quizzed Kaitlyn. War arched an eyebrow, then followed her future goddaughter’s finger to the gravestone. She got a better look at the name and went still. X-PO, Quake Hammer, and Skyfall got a look and realized what was going on.
“‘Here lies Ichika, daughter of Akira and War’,” Quake Hammer read aloud.
“I don’t want to be here!” begged War.
“But you’re always here!” answered Kaitlyn. “I didn’t bring us here, YOU did.”
“You have no goddamn idea what losing a child is like!” sobbed War. “Would Megumi say goodbye?! Would she?! Would it even be possible when there’s someone out there like the one you lost?!”
“Okaa-san ISN’T your daughter,” countered Kaitlyn. “You have to accept that. You have to say goodbye to your daughter.”
“How can you ask me that?!” argued War. “When your mother considered disbanding the F.N.S…I thought I was going to go through the feeling of losing Ichika all over again! Can you even imagine that?! …When Megumi and I fought over my methods, I was so mad! I was so mad that she left me again!”
“War, Okaa-san is NOT who you want her to be,” urged Kaitlyn. “She’s never going to be that. You have to let Ichika go.”
“When do you let this stuff go?” sniffed War. “When are you supposed to even START moving on?!”
“What better time than now?” asked Kaitlyn. “War, this is where you are right now. Where do you WANT to be? Where do you NEED to be?” No one said a word.
“…Ichika,” began X-PO, “I would have loved to have met you.”
“As would I,” agreed Skyfall.
“And I,” confirmed Quake Hammer.
“…She was a warrior of great honor,” sighed War. “…Goodbye, Ichika. Goodbye…thank you for being part of my life.” She and her crew got up, then stood in silence, their eyes shut. They opened their eyes after a minute, then noticed the scene had changed.
“The bridge?” asked X-PO.
“No, this is an actual office,” remarked Skyfall. “There aren’t any lights or force-fields to indicate holograms.”
“I don’t care if Founding Day’s tomorrow!” called a voice. “You’ve had enough extensions! You’re getting an F, end of conversation!”
“A bit harsh, don’t you think?” asked another voice.
“Well, that’s just how things…” Michael and Megumi then entered the office and goggled at the new people. “Good God Almighty!” breathed Michael.
“WAR!” cheered Megumi. “Wh…When did you get back?!”
“I…I just got here,” stammered War.
“Well, what on earth are you doing just standing around for?!” called Michael. “Tomorrow’s Founding Day! It’s a time to be joyful and merry and spend time with the family and all that rot!”
“Come on!” urged Megumi. “We’ve got a party going on at Castle Nerd Skull! Let’s go!” She and Michael ran out of the office, leaving a very bewildered Ruthless crew behind.
“…Yeah, family,” sighed War happily. Then, she remembered. “Wait a minute! My ship is still adrift in some random universe!” she shouted.