Even Lacey, Death, War, Pestilence, and Famine do the occasional mermaid pin-up. They rather like acting sexy when they get the chance. If the site for the photo-shoot is in an actual clam underwater, such as the one they’re in right now, so much the better.
Done on Christmas Eve of 2017
Megumi: Look, the book has you mute, so you’re mute in our play!
Death: But I spoke to Scrooge! I even told Dickens what I told Scrooge! Why did he make me mute?!
Death’s Rider form.
Kamen Rider Death! You cannot delay your appointment with me!
Presenting my version of the Grim Reaper.
Everyone has an appointment with her. She is a constant multiversal force of nature. But, even she cannot break certain rules, such as influencing herself onto life. Over the ages, she’s developed an affinity for the human race and started finding out what makes life tick since she knows what makes it stop doing so.
With her fellow Horsemen of the Apocalypse, she helped the Vortonians create the idea of a transformation belt. She, War, Pestilence, and Famine then started a school for both living and dead to attend called After Academy. She had many students throughout her existence, offering them a chance to learn from her whether they’re alive or dead. Her recent student, Lacey, is learning more than the average student so she could become the fabled Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Kamen Rider Apocalypse.
After hearing about Vortech rising and getting his hands on the Foundation Elements, Death built her own transformation belt, the Mortem Driver to become Kamen Rider Death. She made three more after that and now trains Lacey on top of her own duties.
She’s actually very sociable and loves the Discworld series by the late Sir Terry Pratchett. He was one of the few that followed his crest, Non Timetis Messor (Don’t fear the Reaper).
I had busied myself with a machine designed to help bring the ghost to a better plane of existence. “Okay,” I muttered. “Todo lo que necesito hacer es conectar esto y estaremos bien.” (All I need to do is connect this and we’ll be good.)
“Señor Ortiz?” asked a voice. I whirled around to see Lacey looking at what I was doing. “Are you trying to contact your dad?” she asked.
“No,” I replied.
“Good, best to avoid him,” advised Lacey. “You know full well he’s not to be trusted. The dead outside of this school rarely are.”
“The mortal realm’s no better,” I grunted.
“Yes, I spoke with Mickey a while ago,” murmured Lacey. “He told me about your feelings concerning the F.N.S and your desire to leave us.”
“I just…I can’t stand the F.N.S right now!” I answered. “I joined you to get away from all the lies I was told back home, but I’ve been lied to again by people I’ve only known for two years! It’s like…it’s like I’m fighting a one-man war against lying! Can you even fathom what that feels like?!”
“Completely, believe it or not,” replied Lacey. That caught me off guard.
“Perdon?” I asked.
“I fully relate to your feelings,” elaborated Lacey, “but I don’t agree with your methods.”
“…How can you relate?!” I protested.
“Alesandro, do you know why I became a Horseman of the Apocalypse?” quizzed Lacey.
“You were chosen to help Megumi fight Vortech,” I answered, not seeing how it correlated to what the conversation was about.
“That was the impetus,” answered Lacey, “but, truth be told, I was gonna join After Academy anyways. I came from Universe T-H-3-5-1-M-P-5-0-N-5.”
“The Simpsons?” I asked. “You were a resident of Springfield?”
“Yep, and had an abusive father,” confirmed Lacey. “I hated how chaotic that place was and felt like I was alone in trying to corral the chaos. Death offered to return me back to my universe with a fresh perspective and a better chance of controlling the chaos. I stayed because I found something that I never had in Springfield, a family with the other Horsemen. Now, here I am, part of After Academy’s faculty and being a part of a family with the F.N.S. Now, it IS, at times, dysfunctional; it most certainly is NOT perfect, but the F.N.S and the Horsemen became my family. I certainly hope they’ve become yours.”
“Didn’t War initially join Vortech’s cause at the start of the Vortech Wars?” I asked.
“Yes, but the Four Horsemen have LONG worked through that,” replied Lacey, “because that’s what family does.”
“If they’re meant to BE family,” I grumbled. “Sometimes the family is so toxic that you need to get away from them.”
“Also true, as we can both attest to our blood family,” conceded Lacey. “Now, the question becomes, has this family become that toxic to you?” I stopped working, then set down my tools and sat on the ground.
“I don’t know,” I sighed.
“Well, is there a reason that you’re staying with us?” asked Lacey.
“I was contacted by a ghost a while ago,” I explained. “He’s in an eternal nightmare and I want to help him get out of it.” I then pondered the idea. “You know, now that I think about it,” I mused, “wouldn’t someone who regrets his actions think that he DESERVES punishment?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” replied Lacey. “Charles Dickens got that kind of ghost right. They’re tormented by their own regret and can only blame themselves since they never regretted their actions when they were alive. Jacob Marley DOES regret his actions and accepted there’s nothing he can do except blame himself since it’s too late for him.”
“This ghost I met didn’t have that kind of thinking,” I revealed. “Megumi DOES regret what she did and made no attempt to stop me from leaving. Something doesn’t add up here.” Just then, the ghost shimmered into view.
“Help me! Please!” wailed the ghost, Carl.
“…Why?” I asked.
“There is goodness in you!” pleaded Carl. “Help me! Let me start again!”
“You’re chained for a reason,” I continued. “If you REALLY regret your actions, you wouldn’t try to escape or shift the blame to…”
“Okay, you know what,” grumbled Carl, standing upright despite being chained, “I saw this coming.” He pulled back the hood to reveal a monstrous head. It had two long tendrils coming from the back of the head and a single eye.
“CAAN!” screamed Lacey.
“Give me access to After Academy’s library,” demanded Caan.
“I read about you!” I snapped. “Why should we obey a Dalek like you?!”
“You have no choice in the matter!” snarled Caan as he equipped his Dal Driver.
“DAL DRIVER!” it screamed. He then took out the Pure Dalek can and turned the dome before inserting it into the belt. “PURE DALEK!” it shouted. He then turned the crank and the piping formed the sides of his suit. “ARE YOU READY?!” asked the Dal Driver.
“Henshin!” called Caan. The piping then slammed the sides of his suit onto him.
“THE UNSTOPPABLE KILLER!” announced the belt. “PURE DALEK! EXTERMINATE!” Caan was now Kamen Rider Dal.
“Henshin!” shouted Lacey as she spun the dial. She became Kamen Rider Apocalypse and clashed with Caan. “Go get help!” she shouted.
“But…!” I stammered.
“NOW!” demanded Apocalypse. I took off and ran through the campus streets to find help. Her fellow Horsemen then saw me.
“Alesandro! Stop!” called Death. “What’s going on?!”
“Lacey’s fighting Caan outside the campus!” I explained. “She needs help!”
“A villain with future vision attacks us! Sure! Why not!” snarled Pestilence.
“Anyone got any ideas?” asked Famine with her mouth full.
“…I’ve got a trick in mind,” chuckled War.
War approached the battlefield with a confident grin on her face. “Mr. Caan, I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure of meeting face to face,” she called, distracting him long enough for Apocalypse to strike him and join War. Dal recovered and drew himself up to his full height.
“You are War!” he observed. “The multiverse has changed if you engage in mortal affairs!”
“Tends to happen,” remarked War. “Tell me, what was your position before your little club?”
“Before the Cult of Skaro,” replied Dal, “I was the Attack Squad Leader of the Thirteenth Assault Group! Many worlds fell under Dalek control thanks to my efforts!”
“Yeah, evil hasn’t changed,” grumbled War. “Comes with the territory. You always rely on permanence to get you through the day. Good, on the other hand, ALWAYS changes. We’ve got new ways of dealing with people like you.”
“There ARE no people like me!” argued Dal. “Not yet!”
“There’s ALWAYS gonna be someone like you,” replied War. “…Wait, not yet?”
“You will never know!” snapped Dal.
“You’re right, I foresee your defeat coming,” chuckled War. “Kamen Rider Dal, you will be haunted by three spirits! Expect them…right now! Henshin!” She transformed and her fellow Horsemen, also in Rider form, joined her in attacking him while I got to work on the machine. Death called it clever, I call it narrowly avoiding disaster. Caan couldn’t fully manifest in this universe unless he was invited in some way. Because I didn’t fully follow through on bringing him into this universe, he was stuck in a transitional state. He’s immune to conventional attacks, but, then again, the Apocalypse Riders are anything BUT conventional. Their attacks managed to do him some damage.
“Guys, it’s time!” I called when I finished.
“Do it!” ordered War. I pressed the button and Dal was sent away from After Academy. “You’re NOT getting a refund on your application!” laughed War as all Riders powered down. Dal was struggling under the machine’s power and turned to me.
“I now…understand…what it means…to live!” he begged me. “Have…PITY!”
“Pity?” I replied, giving my best Dalek impression. “I have no understanding of the word! It is not registered in my vocabulary bank!” I then dropped the act. “For your sake, look to see me no more.” One final button and Kamen Rider Dal vanished, never to terrify After Academy.
“I have to apologize again, for all this,” offered Alesandro.
“No, no, no,” I replied after hearing all of it. “You were doing what you thought was right, obeying your conscience. I didn’t have that kind of courage. If you’ll let me, though, I’d like to work towards proving that I CAN do so.”
“Well, can’t exactly leave the F.N.S on that note, can I?” chuckled Alesandro. “The F.N.S IS a better family than my blood relatives. We all had a flub or two in our lives. The best we can do is pick ourselves up and get back into the fight.”
“Truer words have never been spoken,” I agreed. Just then, the comms chimed. I pressed the accept button. “Moshi moshi!” I called.
“Megumi, mind having everyone gather in the Gateway Room?” requested Richard. “We found something that will make some heads roll.”
“Sure thing,” I replied. I then switched to general broadcast. “Minna, report to the Gateway Room. Richard’s team found something.” We all gathered in the Gateway Room and Technarain, Sludgiona, Batman, Pup-X5, Lukas, and Richard looked pretty mad. “What happened?” I asked.
“We finally figured out what caused the results to go the way they did,” explained Richard. “Someone tampered with the results, someone with more access to the results than any of us who voted. So, the question becomes, X-PO, why? Why did you do it?” …X-PO?
“How is this POSSIBLE?!” I roared. “All five Sources within our grasp, and yet none have been retrieved! I am only inundated with excuses, even from my own wife!” I pointed to Igura after she returned from 5-U-P-3-R-M-4-R-1-0. She snarled at the accusation, but I didn’t pay attention. I turned to our newest addition. “Well, Cyber-Leader Gi? What’s YOUR excuse?!”
“It is illogical for me to give one,” replied Cyber-Leader Gi. “I had underestimated the power they had and it cost me my victory. The fault is mine.”
“Yes, I do believe it is!” I confirmed.
“However, there IS a way to fix this for all of us,” supplied Cyber-Leader Gi.
“Explain! Quickly!” I ordered.
“We still have a fix on four of the Sources’ respective energy signatures,” explained Cyber-Leader Gi. “The reason it is not all five is because, according to what the Joker discovered on the Tarlaxian scout ship’s flight recorder, the Source of Starvation is in Tarlax 14’s vault. However, the other four are all in one place. Logically, it would be the Vortex Riders main base of operations.”
“And since they originally scrambled Vorton’s new coordinates, they may have used it again for some sense of familiarity,” I deduced. “But it won’t matter if we use the Sources as a beacon to guide us there. Muster the fleet. Cyber-Leader Gi, do we have the coordinates of the Sources current position?”
“We do,” confirmed Cyber-Leader Gi. “The probes we have sent to observe the universe have identified the universe as V-0-R-T-0-N.”
“Feed them to all ships,” I ordered. “We leave at once.”
I looked at the various trophies the Doctor left behind on Vorton for me to examine. I snorted at a few. The only trophy I could respect wasn’t even evidence of the Doctor’s victory. That victory belonged to the Vortex Riders. It was an empty, open Dalek casing. The Doctor’s trophies just laid there near the casing. “Look at all this,” I muttered to myself. “Relics and artefacts that I should feel some connection to. I don’t, though. It’s all just junk to me.” I picked up a tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator and just sat with it in my hands. “Michael says it doesn’t matter who I am, as long as I live my own life.” I snorted again. “My own life. A life with no memory of who I am. No real history. Wearing someone else’s face! I don’t even like this face, even though it’s considered attractive by human standards! If the Emperor Dalek was lying, and I AM a clone of Rose Tyler, then I’m just a copy. A duplicate. Something that was mass-produced like…like…” My rant faltered as I examined the gunstick’s socket on the Dalek casing. “I remember…not being able to…shoot myself? ……NO!” I threw the extrapolator at the glass case the casing sat in and it shattered. “It’s just some stray thoughts coming to the surface! Thoughts that aren’t mine! They can’t be!” I could only laugh hopelessly. “I can’t trust who I am! I can’t trust ANYTHING about me! If I wanted to, I could just walk around pretending to be Rose Tyler, because all I am is a copy! A copy that can only see the impurity of…! Impurity of…” More memories came to the surface, the glorious saucers hanging over every world across time and space, the Emperor commanding us all, leveling… “…I remember now!” I couldn’t believe it! A smile crossed my face! “I REMEMBER NOW!” I ran my hands across my face…face…hands…arms…legs…two eyes…no! “I remember…I REMEMBER!” NO! NO! NO! I AM CONTAMINATED!
“YOU!” I snarled at Sauron.
“Us,” corrected Sauron as he pointed to his compatriots.
“I never thought I’d see you again after you were crushed like a tin can in Metropolis!” I growled. I turned to the Riddler. “Riddle me this, you WERE defeated in Gondor, right?”
“Quite the story after those incidents,” remarked Sauron. “Shall we tell you of our scars?”
“Were your fathers drinkers and fiends?” taunted Livia. Sauron then fired lightning from the One Ring, shocking us all. He ended the treatment after a few seconds.
“Just before you fought our old employer, Vortech,” began the Riddler, “we had to part company with him. We boarded new Dalek Saucers to escape. However, we were blown off course. Strange dimensional energies buffeted our vessels. I believe you’re familiar with the source of them. Riddle me this: what circles around, causing riders to scream?” The answer was a roller-coaster’s loop-de-loop. I could see where the ultimate answer was coming from.
“Ah, the Rift Loop we trapped Vortech in,” I answered.
“Exactly,” confirmed Sauron. “As the Riddler said, we were sent off course, landing in a much harsher universe. Ancient Evils were tearing it asunder…until WE stepped in. We destroyed the monsters attacking that world and took control. Plenty of people to command, plenty of space to make Orcs, Daleks, and other minions, and plenty of resources to build up and replenish whatever vessels and minions we’ve lost.”
“Sooo, the story is less ‘Ha ha’ funny,” I remarked. This time, the Riddler zapped us.
“Question: what IS ‘Ha ha’ funny?” he snarled. “Answer: YOUR PAIN!” He stopped zapping and resumed explaining. “Shocker Rift spent the next two years building up its forces, ready to conquer and enslave the Tarlaxians, making ABSOLUTELY sure we could control them this time!”
“So you used the Tarlaxian scout ship as test subjects!” growled Turretorg.
“Well, yes,” replied the Riddler, “but our efforts are being stymied. Right now, they’re unconscious, so they can’t reveal why our methods aren’t working…but we have a guess.”
“We discovered YOUR handiwork, Turretorg,” continued Sauron. “YOU were a master of the mental disciplines back when you served us. So, tell me, what did you do to make the Tarlaxians resistant to our control?”
“Like I’d tell you!” growled Turretorg.
“Do we REALLY need to do this?” quizzed Jason.
“Are you questioning us?!” snarled Octavio.
“Look,” interjected Callie, “I don’t think…”
“DON’T think, obey!” roared Octavio. “Or, do I need to use the hypno-shades on you again?!”
“…N-no, Sir,” gulped Callie. “I’m sorry, Sir.”
“To answer your question, YES,” hissed Kaito. “We HAVE to do this. We’re strong, they’re weak. We need to show how powerful we are.”
“That’s my boy!” cheered Sauron.
“Sheesh, no wonder Shocker Rift parted company with Vortech,” I muttered, “you’re sounding LIKE him.” Sauron gave us another zapping.
“There’s never enough pain before you shut up, is there?!” he growled.
“Oh, trust me,” I gasped, “I’m in enough pain looking at you! Why are you still working for Hiro?!”
“To dull my pain of looking at you,” snarled Sauron, “needing other people to prop you up! You were so close, at one point, to realizing power, but let that box dissuade you!” A screen then turned on and displayed what happened after our first encounter with Vortech, the argument, X-PO revealing why he opened rifts to various universes, and my breaking down in tears in regret for keeping the real reason of our dimensional travels secret from Batman, Wyldstyle, Hongo, and Gandalf. I turned my head in shame as Colleen looked at me in disbelief.
“You lot never told us new guys that!” she protested.
“I WANTED to tell you guys,” I mumbled, “but I was outvoted. The other members didn’t want your image of us ‘sullied’, as Richard put it.”
“You see?” remarked Sauron. “Holding power over your underlings makes you stronger! They knew that!”
“They’re NOT my underlings!” I argued. “They’re my friends!”
“A ruler has no time for friends!” countered Sauron. “A ruler does not reveal their secrets to those beneath them! A ruler needs no equals!”
“We’ll see!” I hissed.
“No, WE’LL see!” replied the Riddler as he pointed to himself and his allies. “You and your friends will be corpses we have taxidermied and hung up in our base’s throne room! They’ll be interesting conversation pieces at parties!”
“As long as we’re in high society,” joked Haitao. “I take it you’re here for Death’s Source?”
“Rob me of a potential riddle, will you?” hissed the Riddler. “Oh well, I’ll just go for the next one. What takes the color associated with water, encompasses itself, and is a key to unlock an apocalypse?”
“…No!” breathed Death. “No, you couldn’t have!” Sauron pulled out a blue crystal sphere the size of his fist.
“We did,” confirmed Sauron. “Behold, Death, your Source!” He then laughed. “Vengeance is sweet! However, I AM magnanimous in victory. Megumi, we all know how much you ‘heroes’ like to give speeches about how light will conquer darkness in the end, so I will allow you to make such a speech. Choose your words well.” Colleen then got a twinkle in her eyes.
“Er, Mr. Nygma,” she called. “You don’t mind a riddle, do you?”
“I’m called the Riddler for a reason,” replied the Riddler.
“Riddle me this: after the source is taken by you,” quizzed Colleen, “what will you do with us?”
“Easy!” cheered the Riddler. “We’ll keep you here as our prisoners and then, after taking this universe for our own, we’ll finally kill you! You’ll understand, in your last few seconds alive, how stupid you were to defeat us! Oh, we won’t stop there! With Octavio’s mind-control tech, we can conquer the surrounding universes! All of this, and we’ll be satisfied in the knowledge that you’ll no longer defeat us! THAT is our vengeance! That…that is…WHY THE HELL ARE YOU IDIOTS LAUGHING AS MUCH AS THE JOKER?!” Hook, line, and sinker! He gave away the entire plan! The reason we were laughing was because the motive behind all of this was laughable.
“Two years,” I remarked. “It’s been two years since my respective encounters with you and Sauron.”
“So?” quizzed Sauron.
“THIS is what you decided to do for two years,” I continued, “when you guys could have done anything else! You could have used your fleet to conquer your respective universes! Maybe conquer the neighboring universes there! But, no! The only thing you idiots want is revenge!” I sighed in pity. “Revenge, the most WORTHLESS of causes! You two are obsessed with me more than Hiro because I had the gall to defend myself and take something you had in your possession! Sauron, I took the Locate Keystone from you, if I recall. And, Riddler, you lost the Palantír to me! It’s amazing that you thought about me all this time when I almost forgot you were under Hiro’s thumb!” That struck a nerve. “Boys, you need to stop fighting over me,” I taunted. “I already have a boyfriend!” Sauron zapped me again. “And it ticks you off,” I managed to get out before Sauron stopped, “that you have to work for someone you considered beneath you! That’s the difference, though. I spend two years of my life LIVING it! Yes, I monitored for you, but I had other things to help stave off the anticipation of Shocker Rift’s next move! I got a job! I go to school! I get new people into the F.N.S! You wanna know why I broke down like that?! Because I felt like I betrayed the trust of my friends. They’re people that helped me become who I am, even the new guys! I don’t pretend that everything in the last two years and in the Vortech Wars didn’t happen! I learn from both mistakes and triumphs to become better, both to myself and to my friends! You?” I chuckled a bit. “You two just become bitter and abusive! You let the past consume you! You drive everyone away because they remind you of some failure! You isolate yourself and never gain friends!”
“A ruler needs no friends!” shouted Sauron. “All a ruler needs is people to obey them!”
“No, what you mean is you think you only need such people,” I argued, “to fill the void of loneliness in your heart because everyone else is good and decent and kind! You, gentlemen, are a**holes! It just enrages you to see someone in a command position enjoy the company of friends because you can’t accept that you idiots are just complete jerkwads! Two years after fighting and bad guys and heartbreak and loss, I HAVE been looking back on it all. While you would dwell on the failures you suffered within two years, I just can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring!”
“TWO YEARS?!” shrieked the Riddler. “You’re not gonna have two minutes! I give you guys a fully-charged electroshock therapy treatment and Death will have to claim you! How do you think you can stop us?!”
“For one thing,” replied Turretorg, “you forgot about X-PO.”
“The robot?” quizzed Kaito.
“The robot,” confirmed Death.
“No, we didn’t!” burbled Octavio. “After Kaito, the Riddler, and Sauron arrived and broke me out of my second prison two years ago, they took Jason, making him Agent 7, and got him to study the robot’s schematics so he could disable him quickly.”
“Yeah, the thing is,” I countered, “the Doctor made sure that, if the transmitter were damaged first, the self-repair circuits would fix that first before anything else. Wanna know how long it takes to fix that?”
“About a half hour,” called X-PO’s voice.
“What the?!” spluttered Octavio. “What’s going on?! WHERE MAH BEATS?!”
“And DJ Octavio has failed!” taunted X-PO’s voice. Just then, one of the machine’s fists opened up and grabbed Octavio, tossing him out! It then made the “Devil” sign. “DJ X-PO IN DA HOUSE!” cheered the machine in X-PO’s voice. We managed to undo our ropes as X-PO attacked the Octarians trying to stop us. The New Squidbeak Splatoon turned to Octavio.
“Never mind him!” shouted Kaito as he equipped a Sengoku Driver and took out a Lockseed with a bunch of bananas on it. He pressed the button on the side and the arm popped up.
“BANANA!” called the Lockseed. A zipper in the air then opened and let a metal banana float above Kaito.
“Henshin,” announced Kaito. He then inserted the Lockseed into the Sengoku Driver and closed it.
“Lock on!” called the belt. It then played European trumpet music before he sliced the Lockseed open with the Driver’s knife. “Come on!” challenged the belt. The banana then landed around his head as a red undersuit with silver trim appeared around him.
“BANANA-BANA-BANANA?!” squawked an Orc.
“Baron da!” (That’s Baron to you!) called Kaito.
“Banana Arms!” announced the belt as the banana unfolded so the ends became shoulder pads and part of the side became chest armor. His helmet looked like a knight’s helm with a pair of horns. “Knight of spear!” sang the belt as his weapon appeared. It was a lance that evoked a peeled banana. Given that he corrected an Orc, I’d say he was Kamen Rider Baron.
“Henshin!” we called. Colleen’s belt announced, “Open! Turn! Imagine! The Hammer of Slam!” as we became our Kamen Rider personas. Catchphrase time!
“Kamen Rider Death! You cannot delay your appointment with me!”
“Kamen Rider Royal! Evil will ultimately bow to me!”
“Kamen Rider Zhànshì! Try and stop my quest!”
“Kamen Rider Clash! A duel with me shall end in your defeat!”
“Kamen Rider Herald B! I bring news of your defeat!”
“Kamen Rider Slam! I’ll be bringing the pain!”
“I am Turretorg, the invincible siege weapon!”
“I’m X-PO! I’ve calculated 979 ways to defeat you! Let’s go for 28!” With that, X-PO crossed his new hands in front of him. “Priority 7-Alpha, Sea-bass drop!”
“Uh oh!” gulped Octavio.
“Uh oh what?” demanded Sauron. Octavio then did something never witnessed in the games, he shifted to his humanoid form! He looked like a Japanese Lord.
“MEAN LASER!” he shouted. X-PO uncrossed his new hands and fired his laser. Everyone got out of the way…even us! We were right in its path!
“Sorry!” called X-PO.
“STICK TO THE FISTS!” I shouted. Sauron and the Riddler double-teamed me, keeping me from helping the others out. Turretorg fired a barrage of missiles at the Orcs and Octolings, the Octolings giving him a little more difficulty as they turned into octopi and swam in their ink. The New Squidbeak Splatoon, regretfully, kept the others at bay. “Guys, come on!” I protested to the Splatoon. “You don’t wanna do this!”
“We don’t have a choice,” replied Marie. She leveled her Charger (sniper rifle) at me and fired. I got out of the way, smacking into Sauron’s mace. His swing knocked me back a couple of meters. Baron managed to score a few hits on X-PO’s new body with that lance of his. The machine then fell as the lights went off.
“X-PO!” called Herald B.
“I’m alright!” called X-PO’s voice as his original body’s eye switched on. He then activated a new function the 4th Doctor installed, similar to K-9’s, a stun blaster! He gathered energy into his eye and fired a purple bolt of light at Octavio. The Octarian King managed to shrug it off. “Damn, STILL not at full power!” swore X-PO. Agent 8 then leapt onto him.
“I still am!” she hissed as she drew a wrench. Just then, Slam swung her hammer into 8’s head. “Nice try, bone bag!” laughed 8 as she landed on her feet. She then started stumbling. “Actually, remove the sarcasm,” she mumbled. “It WAS a nice try. Why is the room spinning?” She then collapsed.
“BELLA! NO!” shouted Jason. He and Marie then rushed to 8’s side. Callie swung her Roller (rolling paintbrush weapon) at Clash but Clash managed to roll out of the way only to encounter Baron’s attack as he used the Sengoku Driver’s knife to slice the Lockseed three times.
“BANANA SPARKING!” announced the belt as Baron thrust the tip of his lance into the ground, causing bananas to pop out of the ground and strike Clash. Sauron and the Riddler had managed to knock me to the floor and leveled their weapons at me as I leveled my sword.
“Do you think you’re fast enough,” taunted Sauron, “to put us down before we kill you?”
“…I have a means of staving off my appointment with Death,” I smirked. I then spun the wheel in the opposite direction of changing armor, making it go two full rotations. “DAI SUPER CHARGE!” I shouted. My armor bulked up and went white with gold trim, then it exploded, revealing gold armor with white tiger patterns. Sauron and the Riddler picked themselves up after being knocked down by my exploding armor.
“What in…?!” spluttered Sauron.
“Kamen Rider Vortex,” I explained, “the form I used to defeat Vortech.” I then went on the offensive, managing to beat back Sauron and the Riddler as Slam swung her hammer into Baron’s leg, causing him to cancel his transformation and grasp his leg in pain. Zhànshì and Claw managed to cut one of Octavio’s head tentacles off and shoved him into his allies. He turned to the New Squidbeak Splatoon.
“Inksquirts!” he bellowed. The agents weren’t listening as they were tending to Bella, Agent 8.
“We have to give her an ink infusion to clear her head!” gulped Jason.
“You idiots! Help us!” shouted Octavio.
“We have to save Bella!” insisted Jason.
“Stop cradling that useless soldier!” ordered Sauron.
“…What did you say?” hissed Jason.
“I said stop cradling that lump of muscle and help your betters!” roared Sauron. Jason looked back at his fellow agents, then glared at Sauron and his allies. He stood up and pulled something out of his back pocket. We couldn’t believe it!
“A Chronicle Driver?!” yelped Claw.
“How did you…?!” I quizzed.
“Sludgiona said she had made more Chronicle Drivers,” explained Slam. “She must have put them onto the scout ships.”
“How would you…?” I inquired.
“She explained she had made more to us new guys,” replied Slam.
“I see,” I remarked.
“What’s the word you guys used to transform?” asked Jason as he fastened the Chronicle Driver to his waist.
“Chronicle Driver!” announced the belt.
“We say ‘Henshin’,” I replied to Jason.
“Thank you,” bid Jason. He then took out an Armor Auto-bio and inserted it into the shelf that popped up from the top. “Henshin!” he announced. He pressed the shelf down as the giant book flipped its pages and spat out armor pieces.
“Open!” called the belt. “Turn! Imagine! The Roller of Turf!” His armor looked a lot like the power armor set of the first game.
“Agents, keep watch over Bella,” directed Jason. “I intend to voice our long-overdue complaints to our ‘masters’.”
“What do you call yourself, Kamen Rider Squidkid?” snarked the Riddler.
“Kamen Rider Turf, actually,” replied Jason. “I shall claim this turf in victory!” He then swung his roller into them. “Don’t you ever…EVER…call Bella useless!”
“You little…!” snarled the Riddler.
“You utter demons!” hissed Turf. “I should have done this two years ago!” He converted his roller into a charger and fired on the villains, causing the Orcs to lose their minds.
“Right, that’s it!” roared Gorshagh from the balcony. He caught the Kiri Zecter. “HEN…!” he didn’t get very far as an Octoling kicked the Zecter out of his hands. “What do you think you’re…?!” shouted Gorshagh.
“TAKE DOWN THE ORCS!” shouted the Octoling. The Octarians then attacked the Orcs. Turf pressed the button on his Chronicle Driver.
“Final Pen Stroke!” called the belt.
“RIDER TURF KICK!” shouted Turf as he leapt into the air and performed a flying kick towards the Villains. They soon picked themselves up.
“Vortex, we need to take them all out in one swoop!” whispered Death.
“I may have a solution!” I declared. “Locate Keystone, activate! Initiate rift detection!” I soon found the rift. Man, it felt good to use the Keystone. “Identify source of rift!” The information beamed into my head. “Haven’t seen him in a while. Locate help from B-3-N-1-0!” Just then, a giant lizard person landed face-first onto the floor. The person picked himself to reveal the black circle with the green hourglass design on his chest. “BEN!” I called. Ben Tennyson, currently as Humungousaur, noticed me as I shouted and grinned.
“Vortex!” he cheered. “Haven’t seen you in a while! What’s new?”
“Orcs invaded the universe we’re in,” I explained. I pointed out their bosses. “Got a place for them?”
“I think Incarcecon can handle a few more inmates,” joked Humungousaur as he slapped on the Omnitrix symbol. He then changed. “FOUR-ARMS!” he announced. He then leapt around the levels, grabbing Orcs and throwing them into the rift he went through. He then grabbed Sauron, the Riddler, Baron, and was about to grab Octavio when Turf stopped him.
“He stays,” he insisted. Four-Arms nodded and tossed the remaining three into the rift.
“Thanks, Ben!” I called.
“Don’t mention it!” replied Four-Arms. “See you later!” He then went through the rift as it shut. An Octoling then gave Marie a bit of ink and Marie injected it into Bella, sighing in relief as she checked her over.
“Okay,” she sighed, “she’s stable and should be good for getting her to a hospital.”
“We’ll take her,” replied Pearl. She and Marina picked Bella up and carried her out of the area to a hospital.
“Listen, everyone,” sighed Turf, “about all of this…I’m sorry.”
“You’re not the only one needing to apologize to Megumi,” muttered Slam, feeling guilty about not telling me about the other Chronicle Drivers.
“Mine first,” I answered. “Colleen, I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to not tell you about an event in our past. It was wrong of me to not give you the full details about the Vortech Wars. I was wrong. I don’t know if I can make it up to you and…I understand if this makes you want to part company with the Feudal Nerd Society.”
“I understand your logic,” replied Slam, “but I don’t see myself leaving just yet. Why don’t we all leave our regrets here?”
“I have to say, today was FULL of regrets,” mused X-PO.
“Comes with any anniversary, especially a war’s anniversary,” replied Turretorg.
“Maybe…” suggested Claw, “maybe we should focus more on forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness isn’t handed out,” I answered, “it’s earned. Colleen, if you’ll let me, I’d like to work to earn yours.”
“Let me work to earn yours, then we’ll talk,” replied Slam.
“Agreed,” I affirmed. Just then, someone fired over our heads! Octavio was clutching his sides and holding a blaster!
“FORGIVENESS?!” he roared. “YOU DOLTS ARE PATHETIC! FORGIVENESS IS A WEAKNESS! YOU ALL NEED TO REALIZE THAT THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE!”
“And yet,” I observed, “you’re the one without an empire to back you up.” I was talking about the Octarians leveling their weapons at him. Octavio looked around, then fired a few shots to scare his people off and scurried up a ladder, dropping the Source. “Come on!” I called.
“Let him go,” replied Marina.
“But he’s gonna escape!” I urged.
“I think there’s little chance of that,” assured Marina.
“…Why?” I quizzed. Octavio then screamed in frustration.
“Captain Cuttlefish placed a giant snow globe over the exit,” explained Marina.
“…The globe again?” I muttered.
Bella had made a full recovery and helped us reveal the names of Agents 3 and 4. Agent 3 was Colin and Agent 4 was Samantha. Unfortunately, the crew of the Tarlaxian scout ship was already taken by Shocker Rift. We were back in our Splatoon disguises. Pearl and Marina were back doing Off the Hook for Inkopolis Square. “So, with all the craziness going on,” Pearl was saying, “the final Splatfest had to be cancelled.”
“Now, with the Orcs gone and the Octarians’ good name being cleared,” continued Marina, “the final Splatfest can go on. It’s going to take a week, though, before any match can begin. Yes, you heard right, the matches will be back on in a week.”
“Until then, Grizzco is still hiring!” supplied Pearl. “I can’t believe our last gig went so smoothly, Marina!”
“Yeah, especially because we worked a Salmon Run shift instead of rehearsing!” replied Marina.
“And that’s all the time we got!” finished Pearl. “Until next time…” Marina then joined Pearl in posing and saying their catchphrase.
“Don’t get cooked, stay off the hook!” they cheered. The screen went back to its usual ads.
“I guess things will be back to normal soon,” chuckled Callie.
“As normal as our lives are,” remarked Marie.
“Thanks for the last minute assist,” I bid to Jason.
“You’re welcome,” replied Jason. “I just wish I saw sense earlier.”
“You’re not evil,” I assured. “You wouldn’t have a Chronicle Driver if you were.”
“You just need a little guidance in handling it,” continued Colleen.
“What are you saying?” asked Jason.
“Wanna come with us?” I offered. “Wander the multiverse with us for a while and see if you wanna be a member of the Feudal Nerd Society?”
“…No secrets this time?” quizzed Jason.
“No secrets this time,” I assured.
“Then let’s do it!” cheered Jason as he twirled Death’s Source on his finger like a basketball.
“Vorton, this is Megumi,” I called into my communicator. “Mission accomplished! We have Death’s Source, have a new ally with us, and are ready for pickup!”
“Good to hear, Megumi,” replied a voice. It didn’t belong to anyone on the Vorton team. I finally got it after a few seconds.
“Doctor?!” I yelped.
“Hello!” answered the 13th Doctor’s voice.
“What the heck are you doing on Vorton?” I quizzed.
“The Gateway Operators called me and filled me in on your current adventure,” explained the Doctor. “My reason for being here on Vorton is something that seems unrelated to your crisis. I’ll fill you in when you get here.” A portal opened for us.
“It’s gonna be a little…buzzy,” I warned Jason.
“…Buzzy?” asked Jason as he followed us. He soon got what I meant when I said “buzzy”. We arrived back on Vorton before the others. “…Yeah, ‘buzzy’ is an apt description!” mumbled the Inkling as he rubbed his arms. “Feels like my cells are vibrating!”
“Hello!” called a voice. The Doctor then came up, still wearing that grey coat.
“Good to see you again, Doctor,” I greeted. “You said Elphaba’s team called you in?”
“They did,” confirmed the Doctor. “Let me show you.” She motioned for us to follow her to the medical ward. Lying on a bed was a young blonde woman. She seemed to be busy examining her hands.
“Who is she?” I asked.
“She looks a lot like one of my previous companions, Rose Tyler,” replied the Doctor, “but that doesn’t make sense. During an adventure involving both Daleks AND Cybermen, she became trapped in a parallel universe. Now, she lives her life with a human version of my 10th incarnation.”
“So, is THIS Rose Tyler a clone?” I quizzed.
“That’s what I initially thought,” answered the Doctor. “However, if she is, she’s the most perfect clone ever. Usually, when a clone is artificially aged, there are telltale genetic markers to indicate such a thing had happened. However, she doesn’t have those.”
“Then, is the Rose you traveled with a clone?” I asked.
“I checked the TARDIS medical records,” replied the Doctor, “and the Rose I traveled with IS the real deal.”
“A traveler from a parallel universe, then?” I suggested.
“I don’t really have a frame of reference for that,” mused the Doctor as she tapped her chin.
“I might help in that regard,” called X-PO. “Let me connect with the equipment. There should be telltale signs of her being from a parallel universe.” X-PO hooked up to the medical scanners and ran through the data. It took a few minutes. When he finished, he crossed his arms. “Huh,” he muttered. “Nothing.”
“Is there ANYTHING to go on?” I quizzed, getting desperate for answers.
“There ARE stray energy particles I haven’t been able to identify,” replied the Doctor, “but those may be from the energy weapon that was fired on her.”
“Is she injured?” I gasped.
“No,” assured the Doctor, “but look at the rags she’s wearing. Some of the damage WASN’T from going through the rift unprotected and I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt in that she’s NOT insane enough to burn parts of her clothes herself.”
“I suppose the next thing to do,” I declared, “is to ask her.” I approached her and she took notice of me. “Hello,” I greeted with a bit of uncertainty in my voice. “My name is Megumi Hishikawa. What’s your name?”
“…I can’t…remember a lot,” replied the Rose clone.
“What DO you remember?” I asked.
“I remember…names,” answered the Rose clone. “I remember being in a lot of pain. I remember…my temperature increasing for a bit. I don’t recall how I got here.”
“Do you have any means of identification?” I inquired.
“I think I’m…Rose Tyler, right?” asked the clone.
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” replied the Doctor. “You see, I travelled with Rose Tyler for a long time.”
“…You?” quizzed the clone.
“Yes, me,” confirmed the Doctor. “I’m the Doctor.”
“…Doctor…” muttered the clone. I noticed a hint of distaste for the word before she went back to examining her hands. “Who…WHAT am I?” she asked.
“For now,” I answered, “you’re our guest and…this is your home.” The clone looked around the place to get a good look at her surroundings.
“…Home,” she repeated. I excused myself at that point and contacted the other teams, informing them of what happened.
With the Gateway having been fixed so that the seven person limit was removed, we didn’t need my power as Vortex. My team, Team Death, assembled first. “Coordinates set,” reported Rusty. “Whenever you’re ready.”
“Shall we, Megumi?” offered Death.
“Minna,” I called, “ikuze! CHARGE!” We charged into the portal, flying through the rift.
Next up was my team, Team War. “Okay, Michael,” called Elphaba. “Your path is set.”
“Off we go!” I called. War gave off a battle-cry as we charged into the portal.
I had already taken everyone up to the Virginia. I adjusted the rose rings around my wrists as we arrived at the bridge. It was multi-leveled. The pilot sat in the center of the bridge’s lower level in a chair that looked like a multi-axis trainer, the chair astronauts use to simulate disorientation on reentry. The walls had half a TARDIS console built into them. The Captain, me, would sit in a chair on the level above the pilot and the First Officer would sit in the seat behind me, facing the back of the bridge in order to relay commands. I was showing off the consoles, starting from port, then going to bow, then starboard, then stern. “Welcome to the bridge!” I began. “We’ve only got a limited amount of time, so let’s go through it quickly. The port consoles are science stations, the bow consoles are weapons, the starboard consoles are in charge of communications, and the aft consoles command Engineering when the Chief Engineer is on the bridge. Now, positions. Liam.”
“Aye?” gulped Liam as he was snapped out of his awe.
“You know technical stuff, right?” I asked.
“…I hit things,” replied Liam. “They get fixed.”
“Splendid,” I answered. “You’ll work with R9 as an Engineer. Amelia, Pestilence, you work the science stations.”
“Got it,” confirmed Pestilence as she and Amelia took their respective consoles.”
“Hongo, you work the weapons,” I directed.
“Both consoles?” asked Hongo.
“Only one needs to be used,” answered Mikhail, “but we’re people who prefer back-ups. So, when one explodes, the other kicks in when only one person’s working the weapons.”
“Now THAT makes sense,” replied Hongo.
“Speaking of working consoles,” I interjected, “Mikhail, you’re in charge of communications.”
“да,” (Da, yes) confirmed Mikhail.
“Tanisha, you’ve flown ships before,” I recalled.
“Not this type,” remarked Tanisha. “I need to familiarize myself with the controls.”
“It’s like a video game,” I assured. “Think of the space battles in Star Wars: Battlefront II, the 2005 release.”
“Ah, the good one,” remarked Tanisha.
“Where does that leave me?!” protested Scorpainia.
“It leaves you as my First Officer,” I answered.
“YOUR First Officer?!” exclaimed Scorpainia.
“Megumi legally transferred ownership of the ship to me,” I explained. “As such, I’m it’s captain.”
“I see,” replied Scorpainia.
“Make sure my orders are carried out and smack anyone who says or does something stupid,” I instructed.
“Smacking limbs ready,” reported Scorpainia.
“All right, man your stations,” I directed. “Majel, ship status.” An image of the late Majel-Barret Roddenberry appeared on screen. She was in one of her Lwaxana Troi dresses.
“Still in standard orbit,” she reported, “and this a.i. is really, REALLY bored!”
“Is that…?!” gasped R9.
“No, it’s the a.i. based off of her,” I answered. “When she heard that I needed a shipboard computer, she volunteered. After I explained that it would have a full range of emotions, she planted the idea of an interactive image in Lukas’ head and suggested herself. This was after her guest lecture on how much influence women had in early science fiction. I agreed and so Lukas coded Majel here.”
“And I’ve been stuck orbiting Vorton for a while now,” muttered Majel.
“Well, our new adventure may stretch your engines,” I replied. “We’re going to universe 5-U-P-3-R-M-4-R-1-0 to rescue some Tarlaxian explorers.”
“OOOH! Going outside Vorton!” cheered Majel. “Ready and waiting!”
“Tanisha,” I instructed as I sat down, “set a course for 5-U-P-3-R-M-4-R-1-0. 50% of speed factor 1 until we’ve cleared orbit, then punch it to speed factor 7.”
“Got it,” confirmed Tanisha as she pressed the necessary buttons. As Scorpainia moved to sit behind me, I noticed something.
“Hey,” I whispered to her, not wanting to draw the bridge’s attention to it, “are you all right?”
“What do you mean?” replied Scorpainia in the same whisper.
“Your claw’s shaking,” I answered. Scorpainia’s right claw was shaking a bit. She looked at the claw and saw it shake. She then opened and shut it a few times, making it stop twitching.
“Must be getting old,” she chuckled. I could see it in her eyes, something’s terrified her. We were on a time crunch, though, so I put it to the back of my mind.
“Course laid in,” reported Tanisha.
“Engage!” I ordered in my best Picard impression. The engines hummed, the lights brightened…and the ship lurched, nearly throwing me out of my seat. Scorpainia yelped as the same happened to her while everyone else held onto their consoles as they fell.
“I’ll just correct the orbit, shall I?” gulped Majel.
“Vorton’s hailing us,” reported Mikhail.
“Put them through,” I directed. “They probably want to know what’s going on.”
“Is everything all right up there?” asked Richard.
“Just learned that the controls ARE similar to the space battles of the 2005 Star Wars: Battlefront II,” replied Tanisha, “but with inverted controls.”
“I think we need to learn how to fly this thing,” muttered Scorpainia.
“Majel, why don’t you pull up some tutorials?” I suggested.
“Tutorial system: engaged,” replied Majel. “We’ll start with step 1: Crash Avoidance.”
“When that’s done,” called Liam, “que up Snakes on a Plane.”
“Dude! Do it!” agreed R9.
“…All right,” mumbled Majel. “Queuing up Snakes on a Plane, directed by David R. Ellis and starring Samuel L. Jackson and…”
“Majel, cancel that order,” I interrupted.
“AW!” protested Liam and R9.
“You guys go on without us,” called Emily to my group.
“Okay, if you say so, Sis,” I muttered.
“We should probably get going,” mumbled Famine as she finished her chicken wings.
“All right, then,” I declared. “ATTACK!” We charged into the portal and fell through the rift.
“Moon-kyung,” called Joshua, “wish to do the honors?”
“Me?” I gulped.
“Why not? Let a new girl try her hand in a command position,” replied Lacey.
“…Well, I DID want to join the army when I was a girl,” I conceded. “Time to get some practice in. Gaja!” (Let’s go!) We charged into the portal and headed to our destination.
“There IS one thing I never liked about manning the Gateway,” muttered Elphaba as Ms. Moon-kyung and her group departed.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“The waiting,” explained Elphaba.
“No one really likes waiting,” I replied.
“I’m actually fine with it,” signed Chell. Thank goodness Tanisha taught Rusty, Elphaba, and I how to understand American Sign Language.
“Why?” asked Elphaba.
“Back home,” continued Chell, “I was constantly put into dangerous situations by GLaDOS, never getting a moment’s rest. I’m fine with just waiting.”
“Well, maybe it’s the old bad guy in me,” sighed Elphaba, “but I would stave off the ennui by conquest.”
“You’ve REALLY got a bad case of jitters if conquest staves it off,” remarked Rusty. I snorted holding back a laugh.
“I don’t know if you noticed,” I remarked, “but your old associates in the Dalek Empire are the twitchiest bunch in our universe.”
“And knowing that there’s a hostile multiverse out there,” interjected Elphaba, “we need to be ready for attack. THAT’S what’s making me twitchy.”
“In MY day,” I replied, “we took on Daleks, Cybermen, Autons, Zygons, and all manner of space thuggery, and it doesn’t get more hostile than THAT!” Just then, the Gateway’s control console beeped. Elphaba took it.
“This is Vorton,” she introduced.
“It’s Emily,” called Young Miss Saunders. “We finally got the ship controls hammered out. We’ll see you later.”
“Good luck,” bid Elphaba. As soon as communications ended, the Virginia left orbit, opened a rift, and vanished into it. Rusty and I saluted, you’re familiar with the salute of the United Kingdom, as it left.
“All right,” declared Elphaba as she took charge, “we’re all going into one hour shifts monitoring various aspects. Rusty, you’re monitoring the power systems. Brigadier, you’re monitoring weapons. Chell, medical monitoring for you. I’ll monitor the Gateway for any rift activity. We switch at the end of our shifts, Gateway to medical to weapons to power to Gateway. Understood?” We all confirmed our duties. “Perfect, let’s…” the Gateway beeped again, interrupting her. Since she volunteered for Gateway duty, she checked the console. “Someone’s coming through!” she yelped.
“Shocker Rift?” asked Rusty as she readied her gunstick.
“…No,” reported Elphaba. “A blonde woman in rags.”
“What was she doing in the rift?” I asked.
“Does it matter?!” signed Chell. “Bring her in! She’s unprotected!” Elphaba opened a portal and brought the woman to the platform. Rusty’s eyes went wide.
“I know that face!” she breathed.
“Pardon?” I asked.
“From the Pathweb, the shared intelligence of the Daleks!” explained Rusty. “From the Doctor’s memories as well! I know that woman!”
“Who?” asked Elphaba as Chell picked her up and carried her to the medical bay. “Who is she?”
“…Rose Tyler!” declared Rusty.
We had landed in the Splatoon universe, ready to find the source. “Minna, be careful,” I cautioned. “In this universe, rising sea levels killed off the humans and allowed sea creatures to evolve to survive the land. The squids became Inklings while the octopi became Octarians with Octolings nearer to the head of the Octarian Hierarchy. Inklings generally have two tentacular clubs for hair while Octolings have four tentacles with their suckers facing out. We’re supposed to be dead, so we stick to the shadows.”
“Actually,” interjected Sophie’s voice, “I don’t think that’s necessary.”
“What makes you say that?” I quizzed.
“Remember Pestilence’s lecture on Multiversal Translations?” recalled Sophie.
“The thing where you would turn into a life-form that the foreign universe would accept within itself?” I inquired. I then realized where Sophie was going with this. I felt around the top of my head and realized that it wasn’t hair on top. It felt more like a squid’s skin. I ran my hand down an extension and held it up to my face to see a squid’s tentacular club. It was black, like my hair. “Do…I have an eye-mask?” I quizzed.
“Yep,” replied Sophie’s voice. I turned to see that she had changed into an Octoling whose tentacles were white. Colleen was a brown tentacled Inkling, Livia was a blue tentacled Inkling, Haitao was a black tentacled Inkling, Sheela was a black tentacled Octoling, Turretorg was a brown tentacled Inkling, X-PO was a grey tentacled Inkling, and Death was a white tentacled Octoling with a black hoodie over her tentacles. X-PO had NO balance whatsoever. I guess that’s what happens when you shapeshift from a flying box to a bipedal creature.
“How do you guys walk around with these things?!” he snapped.
“It takes a bit before we actually walk,” I explained. “In any case, you need help. Put your arm around my shoulder. Colleen, help me out here.” X-PO got his new arms around our shoulders as we helped him walk on two legs. After about an hour, he tried walking without aid. It took him two more hours to master it but he soon walked as I did. He could then focus on working with three extra digits on each hand since he usually had pincer-style claws. After X-PO got used to his new body, we entered a new area, a small shopping square of sorts. Inklings and Octolings were conducting their business, paying us no heed as we looked around. A big screen just flashed various advertisements for the shops there. “If I have it right,” I observed, “I’d say we’re in Inkopolis Square.”
“I was hoping we’d arrive at Inkopolis Plaza,” sighed Colleen. “The Square feels a little claustrophobic.”
“Then let’s find Death’s Source and get out of here,” I declared.
“Hey!” called a voice. An Inkling boy with green tentacles in a spiky hairstyle ran up to us. “You guys don’t look like you’re from around here,” he observed.
“We’re not,” I confirmed. “We’re just passing through.”
“Do you, at least, have a map?” quizzed the Squid/Kid.
“Well, no,” I admitted.
“Then Jason Ikamesh,” declared the Inkling as he pointed to himself, “accepts the burden of being your guide!”
“What?!” I yelped.
“I know,” remarked the kid, Jason, “it will be a tiresome duty, but I accept your offer with pride!”
“What offer?!” snapped Colleen, her accent getting thicker.
“No, please, no need to give a way out!” answered Jacob as if we had asked him to help us in the first place. “I accept the burden with…!”
“Kid, will you get out of here?!” snarled X-PO as he shoved Jason aside. “I don’t know what your deal is, but we never asked for a guide and we don’t need one! Our business is our own!” I then had a horrible flashback from the Vortech Wars, after Lord Vortech handed our butts to us in 1895 Hill Valley.
“X-PO, hold on,” I interjected. “We don’t know the area as well as he does. We NEED a guide. While I don’t appreciate the attitude he gave,” Jason gulped, “we need his help. Jason, we accept your offer to be our guide. In future, though, just ask. Don’t force it on someone.”
“Gotcha,” replied Jason. “So, where shall we start? The Crust Bucket? Ammo Knights? Headspace? The Deca Tower?”
“Hang on,” interrupted Haitao. “What’s with the screen?” He was talking about the screen on the tower, Deca Tower. An Inkling girl with short, white tentacles appeared on it, sitting in a moon-chair. She was holding a crown in her hands and her gold eyes had plus-shaped pupils. This was Pearl, one of the characters of Splatoon 2 and, right now, she looked sad.
“Hey, everyone,” she mumbled.
“Why is our Princess sad?” wondered Jason.
“As you may have heard,” continued Pearl, “Turf Wars have been cancelled until further notice. The reason is that strange monsters called Orcs are roaming the Turf Battlefields.”
“Orcs?” gulped Livia, remembering the last time she saw one.
“The Orcs have been taking prisoners,” Pearl went on, “two of which are the famous Squid Sisters. A more recent kidnapping was…was…” she sniffled and wiped her eyes before continuing, “was Marina Ida.” Gasps resounded around the square. “Right now,” Pearl continued, “the police have had no effect against the Orcs, nor have the military. Until these creatures are beaten back, all Turf War matches are cancelled.” She sniffled again. “Oh, Cod, Marina, I wish you’re…” the screen shut off to let Pearl cry in private.
“If the Orcs are here,” I guessed, “Sauron can’t be far behind. We need to find out where they’re coming from.”
“I’ve seen them,” offered Jason. “They’ve been coming out of Octo Valley.”
“…You’ve seen them?” I quizzed.
“I was wandering around Inkopolis Plaza,” explained Jason. “They attacked the place from a manhole near Inkopolis Tower. I only barely escaped. That was about two years ago.”
“The Orcs have been in this world for two years?” I gulped. “Isn’t there anyone with inter-dimensional tech to call for help here?!”
“It might only be two minutes by our time-scale,” remarked Colleen. “Remember, not all universes run at the same amount of time as ours. Some might be slower than slugs, others may be as fast as lightning.”
“Lacey’s recent lecture,” recalled Livia.
“The fact remains,” I countered, “Sauron’s forces have stayed here for too long. Jason, which way to Inkopolis Square?”
“This way, about 20 minutes,” replied Jason. “I’d offer the train but the Plaza’s station is closed.” He led us through the streets.
After about 20 minutes, dodging Orcs that wandered on our path, we arrived to see Inkopolis Plaza, the main hub of the first Splatoon game. Orcs had taken it over, turning it into a camp similar to the ones in Mordor. “Okay, we’ve seen it,” gulped Jason. “Now, let’s get…!”
“Let’s get them out of here,” growled Turretorg.
“Agreed,” I concurred. “Death, X-PO, will the translations be cancelled if we transform?”
“They will,” answered Death. “So, Jason will be seeing humans for the first time.”
“Just not the real me and Turretorg,” continued X-PO.
“In that case, you two hang back,” I directed.
“Why us?!” protested Turretorg.
“Because you can’t turn your arms into cannons and don’t have the missile launcher nipples,” answered Colleen.
“Fine, fine,” grumbled Turretorg. They hung back while we approached the Orc Camp.
“All right, Orcs!” I called, getting their attention. “You can start running back to Mordor, crying all the while! We’re here to stop you!” The Orcs, predictably, laughed.
“Run home, Stinklings!” jeered the Orc Captain.
“I think I see an Octo…” interjected another Orc.
“SHUT UP!” roared the Orc Captain. He then stepped forward. “Look, unless you’re here to discuss your world’s surrender, you’re just gonna be another prisoner here. We don’t have time for idiots to play hero.” I then got a good look at the Orc Captain’s face.
“You…look familiar,” I muttered.
“You probably saw me on the news,” remarked the Orc Captain.
“Er, Captain,” gulped a wimpier-looking Orc.
“Not now,” dismissed the Orc Captain.
“But, Captain,” stammered the newer Orc.
“What part of ‘not now’,” growled the Orc Captain, “did you not understand?!”
“Captain Gorshagh, I really must…!” insisted the new Orc. Wait, I know that name!
“I SAID NOT…!” roared the Orc Captain.
“Kiri!” I shouted. The Orc Captain, Gorshagh, turned towards me.
“…What?” he asked.
“That’s what I was trying to tell you!” explained the wimpier Orc. “They’re NOT native to this universe! Unlike us, they were translated!”
“Give me that pad!” snarled Gorshagh. He shoved the hapless Orc aside as he took the pad and scrolled through it. As he found the relevant data, his eyes went wide. He then gave his full attention to me. “…No!” he breathed.
“Hello, it’s me,” I giggled. “Megumi Hishikawa. When last we met, I was a princess that could only reach a mid-season upgrade. Wanna see a Queen’s Final Form?”
“YOU WON’T GET THE CHANCE!” roared Gorshagh. He stuck his arm up into the air as his Zecter flew into his hand. “HENSHIN!” he shouted. He then slid the Zecter, head first, into his belt buckle.
“Henshin,” repeated the Zecter. His bulky armor then appeared. Kamen Rider Kiri was back! He leveled his arm guns at us.
“Catch us if you can!” I taunted. “BREAK OFF!” Everyone ran out of range and equipped their respective belts, prompting a lot of them to announce, “Vortex Driver!” in their masculine tones while Colleen’s announced, “Chronicle Driver!” in its feminine tone. Colleen then pressed a hidden button on the belt and took out a small book, her Armor Auto-bio. The belt popped a shelf upwards for the book to rest on. The rest of us inserted our i.d tags. Colleen struck her pose after inserting her Armor Auto-bio.
“HENSHIN!” we all called. We Vortex Riders spun the wheels on our belts while Colleen pushed the shelf down and Death rotated the skull to an upright position.
“Death!” announced her belt.
“Open!” called Colleen’s belt. “Turn! Imagine! The Hammer of Slam!” A book opened behind her and spat out her armor pieces, evoking a Gaelic soldier, as a blue mist changed her dress into an undersuit. The armor and helmet then attached themselves to her as her hammer materialized in the air near her right. She grabbed it and joined the fray as Kamen Rider Slam! We avoided the shots Kiri was firing from his arm mounted guns.
“Too slow!” he snarled to himself. He then pulled the Zecter’s arms away a tad, allowing his armor to his and come away slightly. “Cast off!” he ordered. He then pulled the arms all the way back.
“Cast off!” repeated the Zecter. His armor flew off to reveal his slimmer Rider form. “Change Mantis!” announced the Zecter.
“Now THERE’S an idea!” called Slam. She took out an Armor Bio and replaced her personal one with it. She then closed the shelf and another giant book appeared behind her.
“Open! Turn! Imagine! The Speed of Kabuto, Rider Form!” called the Chronicle Driver.
“Cast off! Change Beetle!” announced the Kabuto Zecter’s voice. Slam’s armor changed to evoke Kamen Rider Kabuto.
“Clock Up!” she ordered.
“Clock Up!” shouted Kiri.
“Clock Up!” announced the voices of two Zecters. They both disappeared. The rest of us continued fighting the other Orcs. I then took out another i.d. tag and swapped my own for the new one.
“Gandalf Steel!” called my belt as the wardrobe changed my armor to evoke the Grey Wizard. I used magic to flashbang the Orcs so the others could get clean hits on them.
“Clock Over!” the voices of two Zecters finished as Kiri and Slam came back with Kiri holding his arm. Slam then swapped the Kabuto Armor Bio for her own.
“Open! Turn! Imagine! The Hammer of Slam!” called her belt. She then pressed the button on top. “Final Pen Stroke!” announced her belt.
“Rider Slam Kick!” called Slam as she leapt into the air and performed a flying kick to Kiri’s face. Kiri was knocked silly as the Kiri Zecter flew out of his belt, revealing Gorshagh. We all looked around to see nothing but unconscious Orcs on the ground of Inkopolis Plaza.
“Good work, guys,” I praised as we cancelled our transformations. “We should probably hide ourselves again. Drivers off.” We took our belts off. “Honestly,” I continued, “I never got the chance to turn into a squid. This could be fun!”
“Er, Megumi,” gulped Colleen. I didn’t pay attention.
“I think I’m gonna visit a tentacle stylist,” I figured aloud. “I liked the shorter tentacular clubs offered in the second game.”
“Megumi, I think you should.” interjected Sophie.
“Maybe we should try out some Turf…!” I continued.
“MEGUMI!” shouted Haitao.
“What is it?!” I snapped only to see that Haitao didn’t turn back into an Inkling. I gave everyone a glance to see that none of us were Inklings or Octolings. “Er, Death,” I quizzed, “what’s going on? Why aren’t we humanoid cephalopods again? Our species isn’t exactly around in this universe. We need to…”
“FRIENDS!” boomed Turretorg’s voice. He came running up to us in his usual shape carrying X-PO’s usual body in his arms. “X-PO’s been attacked!” revealed Turretorg. X-PO was severely damaged! Death pulled back her left sleeve to scroll through her smart-watch, fearing the worst. She then sighed in relief.
“He’s not dead,” she assured us. “Something screwed with his power distribution circuits. He’s damaged but, thankfully, his core memory and mind ARE intact. They’re just in a protective lockdown until the damage can be repaired. Thank goodness the Doctor and her previous incarnations installed self-repair functions and circuits into him after Shocker Rift attacked Vorton.”
“I thought they installed a transmitter so he could beam himself into the nearest electronic device that could store him,” recalled Livia. “Why didn’t he transfer out of that body?”
“The Doctor DID say an empty shell would make the self-repair work go faster,” I supplied.
“Whatever did this went for his transmitter first,” answered Death. “It’s shot. He couldn’t transfer out if he wanted to. Let’s get him…” She didn’t get far as electricity ripped through all of us, stunning us and knocking us unconscious.
I stepped out of Spyke’s old alleyway, holding a small remote in my hand. The Orcs were picking themselves up, some shoving others off of them. Gorshagh caught sight of me. “Took you long enough!” he barked.
“It needed to charge,” I replied. I then called up someone on my squidphone. The person picked up. “Good work, Agent 8,” I called. “The Stunner only affected our targets, not the Orcs.”
“Look,” replied Agent 8, “are you SURE we should do this?” Gorshagh heard that and curled his lips into a snarl.
“If we had a choice, we’d say no,” I answered Agent 8. “But, like I just said, we don’t have a choice. Tell our bosses we’re ready. The Orcs and I will bring the Vortex Riders and their allies to Octo Valley. Agent 7 out.” I ended the call.
“Smart move, Jason,” chuckled Gorshagh. He then turned to the other Orcs. “GET THEM TO CAMP, MAGGOTS!” he bellowed. The Orcs picked up our targets and we headed down the manhole to Octo Valley.
I groaned as I stirred awake. “What hit me?” I winced.
“I did,” replied Jason as he stepped out of the shadows. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to do this.” It was then I noticed I was still human and now tied up in ropes.
“Okay, bondage isn’t exactly my kink!” I hissed. “What’s going on here?! …YOU knocked us out?”
“…Yes,” sighed Jason.
“Why did you do that after we stomped Gorshagh’s unit?” I inquired as everyone else, aside from X-PO, much to my worry, woke up.
“THEY asked me to do this,” replied Jason cryptically. “I couldn’t say ‘no’. I owe them.”
“Owe who?” asked Livia. “Who are you talking about?”
“My four bosses,” answered Jason. “OUR four bosses.” Just then, his accomplices stepped forward. A female Octoling; Agent 8, Pearl, a taller female Octoling with black tentacles and teal tips; Marina, a female Inkling with smaller tentacular clubs; Agent 4, a male Inkling with his tentacles tied into a ponytail; Agent 3, a female Inkling in a kimono that Enka singers used to wear with her tentacles tied in a diagonal bow so the clubs pointed to her left shoulder; Marie of the Squid Sisters, and a female Inkling with long tentacles tied in a bow; Marie’s cousin and fellow Squid Sister, Callie all appeared out of the shadows.
“Wait, the Squid Sisters of all people are in on this?!” yelped Livia.
“I can’t pretend to understand any of this,” remarked Death.
“We HAD to,” replied Marie, sadly. “We had no choice.”
“Who would want all this? Octavio?!” I interrogated.
“You’re a quarter of the way there,” burbled a voice. A giant flying machine with two fists floated in. Inside it was a pool of purple Octarian ink and a DJ’s turntable. The one piloting it was a giant red-violet Octopus with glowing green eyes and blue surrounding the pupil, a green x-scar on one of the tentacles folded across the front, and a large, gold, kabuto style helmet. There were a lot of wasabi stalks in the machine, flanking the Octopus. This was DJ Octavio, the Octarian King. A human then approached us. He dressed in black with red highlights and was of Japanese descent. I remember him from Hiroki talking about Kamen Rider Gaim. He was the secondary rider, Kaito Kumon. Another human appeared, dressed in green, wearing a bowler hat, and a green eye-mask with a gold cane topped with a question mark. I remembered him, the Riddler. One last human approached. Actually, I shouldn’t say human. From what I recall from Gandalf, this one was NOT human. His helmet was off, revealing a raven-haired man with an icy handsomeness, but the armor and helmet were very distinctive, as was the gold ring on his finger. It was the Master of the Orcs, the Dark Lord of Mordor, Sauron!
“Shut it down! Shut it down!” shouted Batman as we arrived on Vorton. Rusty closed the portal.
“A ‘please’ would be nice,” snarked X-PO. No one dignified that with a response. “Relax, it’s already shut down. What’s the problem?”
“No problem,” panted Wyldstyle as she handed off the Diamond Scarab. “Nothing. No. Unless you count LORD VORTECH BEING THERE?!”
“I certainly would!” declared Gandalf.
“Vortech was there?!” yelped Tanisha as my team and I cancelled our transformations.
“Yeah, I noticed he was around,” muttered X-PO.
“…Pardon?” I hissed as venom tinged my voice.
“What?” asked X-PO. “Look, do you guys really think he wouldn’t try to settle this himself after his minions failed him?”
“You didn’t think to tell us that, why!?” I asked.
“We can dismantle him later,” stopped Elphaba. “Take it from someone who was a bad guy once, getting your hands dirty means a master-plan’s in the works.”
“Elphaba’s right,” replied Batman. “Vortech’s up to something. We need to rescue our friends now.”
“Indeed,” concurred Gandalf.
“We can’t exactly do that,” reminded Emily, “until we map out Foundation Prime’s location.
“Well,” replied X-PO, “here’s how you make a map where I’m from. I’ll use the Foundation Elements to calculate the dimensional coordinates of Foundation Prime.”
“How long will that take?” I asked.
“That’s the bad news,” winced X-PO. “It’s gonna be two days.”
“WE DON’T HAVE THAT LONG!” shouted Wyldstyle.
“Actually, we probably have longer,” replied Sheela. We all turned to her. “Think about it, why would Vortech want to let a Foundation Element slip through his fingers? He wants us to feel some victory before he strikes.”
“That,” supplied the Brigadier, “or he’s waiting for us.”
“In either case,” finished Lukas, “he’s going to wait as long as we do.”
“Which means,” I realized, “he wants us to witness his victory. Well, we’re not going to let him win. I want everyone to take the two days needed to prepare for the fight. The Vortex and Apocalypse Riders need to be there to beat him anyways. Once we have the coordinates, I’ll get us there.”
“Not going through the Gateway?” asked X-PO.
“We can’t afford to do so,” I replied. “Vortech may use it to get here and take the Foundation Elements we have. I’ll get us there.”
“This is it, then,” mumbled Okaa-san’s voice. She and Lacey came in. Lacey was in a new dress Mom had made for her. “My baby girl,” said Okaa-san, her voice quivering in sadness and fear.
“Okaa-san, I’ll come back,” I promised. “We’ll ALL come back. I promise on my honor as the reigning monarch of the Feudal Nerd Society, we WILL come back, and we WILL come back victorious!”
“We’re gonna hold you to that,” replied Mr. Archer. “It’s not just your life or your brother’s life at stake, but ALL our children’s’ lives.”
“Trust me, their lives will be handled with great care,” I assured.
“…All right,” said Mr. Archer.
“Well now,” mused Emily, “on to some questions. What dimension did you go to?”
“Scooby Doo’s world,” I replied.
“SCOOBY DOO?!” yelped Emily. “AW MAN! I would have died to go there!”
“And I managed to do a bit of burglary on Vortech’s person,” I continued. I pulled the bag out. “And we’ve got more studs here,” I pulled out the bag from the fountain.
“The amount you stole from Vortech,” counted Vortoranii, “was 100,000. And that bag has 745,000. Now we have 4,246,000.”
“Is that good?” asked Wataru.
“It’s enough to buy your own universe,” replied Vortoranii, “just not enough left over to start an economy with.”
“…Our own universe?” I said, intrigued. “We may need to look into that when this is over.”
“Oh boy, Megumi’s thinking on godhood!” teased Richard.
“Am not!” I protested. “I’m fine with being a queen!”
“I don’t know,” chuckled Lacey, “being a god has its perks.”
“All hail Megumi the Eternal!” teased Lukas.
“Oh shut up!” I laughed.
“Okay, enough,” called Okaa-san. The teasing broke up and Wataru snickered.
“You guys are ridiculous,” he observed.
“That’s part of our charm,” I replied. “Will you be staying with us?”
“I cannot,” answered Wataru. “The Fangires are coming back for some odd reason. But, I will join you in the final battle.”
“Maybe you can gather the other Riders we’ve encountered,” requested Hongo.
“Who are they?” asked Wataru.
“Here,” called Lukas as he handed a pen and paper to Wataru.
“We met Wizard,” I began in the order we met them, “Bravo, Fourze, Den-O, OOO, W, Brave, Kabuto, Amazon, Ghost, Ex-Aid, Para-DX, Poppy, Drive, Gaim, Build over there,” I pointed out Sento as he worked with Rusty on the Gateway, “and now you.”
“Got it!” affirmed Wataru.
“Tell everyone,” instructed Hongo, “to meet at Arakawa Nature Park when the call comes out.”
“Arakawa Nature Park, right,” confirmed Wataru. “Sayonara, minna-san!” The Gateway opened for him and he headed home.
“Right,” I declared. “Let’s get started!”
I arrived back on Foundation Prime to see Igura leaning against a wall. “I don’t see anything in your hands,” she observed.
“Lost the Diamond Scarab to the Vortex Riders and Kiva,” I replied. “As of right now, I am in urgent need of good news. Tell me you have something of value.”
“Something,” answered Igura, “and someone.” She stepped aside to reveal a man I had hired gather Foundation Elements for me on this adventure!
“Hiro?!” I asked.
“And I bear a gift for you,” answered Hiro as he produced an over-sized key. “The Foundation Element of D-1-5-N-3-Y. And I have something else as well.”
“Do tell,” I invited.
“Look there,” replied Hiro as he pointed to a screen. I did so, a little disappointed at what I saw.
“Dimensional coordinates?” I muttered.
“VORTON’s dimensional coordinates,” Hiro explained. “The main base of operations for our enemies.”
“Vorton?” I asked. “I thought I had left it a lifeless rock in space.”
“Evidently, X-PO had a hand in restoring the life-support systems,” replied Hiro.
“And you didn’t get any of THEIR Foundation Elements?” asked Igura.
“They harassed me for too long,” explained Hiro. “I had little time to make my escape. On top of that, X-PO didn’t remember Foundation Prime’s coordinates.
“Hence why you were in D-1-5-N-3-Y,” realized Igura.
“It matters not,” I assured. “Let’s see, X-PO is most likely using the Foundation Elements they have to calculate Foundation Prime’s coordinates. Let me see, they have Chen’s staff, the cake, the Palantír, the PKE meter, the game token, and the Diamond Scarab. More than enough to find us. It will take two days for him, so we will prepare for them to siege us while YOU, Hiro, will take THEIR Elements once they are inside the base!”
“Understood,” said Hiro, grinning manically.
“Are you sure?” I asked young Flora.
“Positive, Your Majesty,” replied Flora as she fiddled with her now purple ascot. “Lacey herself told us.”
“With the Vortex Riders mustering,” muttered Brendan, “Tarlax needs to be ready.” I had considered his words.
“Miss Kendall,” I asked Amelia, “how goes the new project you and Sludgiona are working on?”
“Not well,” sighed Amelia. “They’re too unstable. If we gave them to the Vortex Riders now, they would explode at the first opportunity.”
“I am NOT giving them bombs to put on their waists!” I snarled. “We’ll have to proceed without the project. Miss Moore, tell the Horsemen we’re training for the final fight. Miss Elmira, put my warriors through some drills.”
“Got it!” called Sophie as she headed back to After Academy in a swish of blue petticoats.
“On my way,” answered Charline as she headed to the camp. We may be monstrous, but the Tarlaxians will not let the multiverse fall! I, Queen Empress Scorpainia, rightful ruler of the children of Tarlax, disciple of the Four Horsemen we Tarlaxians worship, swear this!
Lacey and Flora had informed me of what’s going on in their respective locations. The Heralds were a bit miffed that they weren’t inducted into the F.N.S but conceded that they hadn’t interacted with Megumi all that much. So, it begins. The final stretch of this war is approaching us. I pray my allies, no, my FRIENDS, can save their loved ones. I smoothed out my dress as I walked towards the selectively-permeable wall leading to my balcony. There was a slight tingle as I passed through it and I was greeted with a clear night. I hoped it was a good omen. This war has proven to be rather long. War was busy training her troops in the courtyard below. I had hoped for a peaceful solution with Vortech, hoping he’d never find Foundation Prime, but it was a vain hope. Even I, Death herself, can make mistakes on an incalculable magnitude.
I made my displeasure clear to Zod. I slammed him to the ground, threw him into the wall, and tossed him across the room. “YOU UTTER FAILURE!” I roared. “I thought having a Kryptonian would give me an edge, but you’re an utter failure! You allowed mere humans to best you! And you didn’t raise a finger to take the Foundation Element from Batman!”
“My Lord, this is but a temporary setback!” yelped Zod.
“That put us back by two years!” I roared. “Luthor! Continue punishing him, I grow fatigued.” Lex Luthor put on a pair of gloves with Kryptonite knuckles and dished out more pain onto Zod. I headed to my quarters and heard somebody being strangled. I put my ear to the door and heard Igura.
“You promised me that the Foundation Element would confirm the lead you had obtained and that it would be an easy heist, and what is the result?!” she snarled. “A lost Foundation Element! A lead lost! A Tarlaxian freed! And Megumi stronger and with more allies!”
“One thing…” choked out her hapless victim, Metalran, if my guess on the voice is right, “…you fail to realize…is that…!”
“ENOUGH PRATTLE!” screeched Igura as I heard her toss Metalran into a wall. “If I am to find Hiro’s soul, it will have to be through other means! I must deal with this matter myself!” She exited the room and ran into me. “Lord Vortech!” she gasped. “I didn’t…how much have you heard?”
“Enough,” I replied. “So, it was Metalran that gave you the tip that Hiro’s soul was back in your universe.”
“Even if that were true,” she muttered, “the trail is cold. If he was there, he’s long gone. I must continue the search through other means. Excuse me.” She left to search again.
“Good luck,” I bid.
“Another Foundation Element!” cheered X-PO as we returned. “Nice work! You guys have exceeded my expectations!”
“Yeah, that’s kind of my thing,” rasped Batman.
“I can’t believe you guys entered the Ghostbusters universe!” muttered Mr. Saunders. “The GOOD one!”
“For the last time, the 2016 one wasn’t bad!” protested Mrs. Saunders.
“Not this again!” wailed Emily.
“Let’s not do that garbage, okay?” pleaded Richard. “That’s as stupid as the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate.”
“So, what do you want to do next?” asked X-PO. “Maybe kick back? Have a cappuccino? See what’s on the DVR?”
“What we want to do next,” interjected Gandalf, “is rescue our compatriots and save the entire multiverse!”
“Wow, this guy’s more literal than I am,” muttered X-PO, “and I’m a robot! Okay, the next Foundation Element is located within a trans-reality pocket dimension.”
“What does that mean?” asked Batman. Chell then signed what X-PO meant.
“It means,” translated Tanisha, “it will be…weird.”
“Sure,” murmured Wyldstyle. “That’ll make a change. You see who I’ve been hanging out with? Weird’s not a problem for me.”
“You want weird?” countered Elphaba. “You should see Mr. Saunders’ nonsense!”
“It’s not nonsense!” protested Mr. Saunders. “Wait here, I need to show you guys something!” He disappeared.
“Mama, should I be frightened?” asked Emily.
“This IS your father we’re talking about,” gulped Mrs. Saunders. We waited a good ten minutes before Mr. Saunders came back. Oh, lord, I wish he didn’t! He was wearing a full-face mask with red compound eyes and wings behind them. The outfit consisted of his old army gear and an absurd American Flag design on the belt buckle!
“I am…KAMEN RIDER FRED! I have new socks!” announced Mr. Saunders. Cue the crickets. “Uh…guys?”
“What the hell are you dressed up as?!” yelped Richard.
“I’m Kamen Rider Fred!” replied Mr. Saunders.
“…I think I forgot to…brain…without a…something!” stammered Turretorg.
“My life is NOT gonna burn bright,” moaned Takeru. “It’s gonna fizzle out with a whimper of pain from what I’m seeing right now.”
“My eyes!” wailed Hongo.
“Daddy,” cried Emily, “you make me want to punch a bunny!”
“Not mine!” I protested.
“But, with my new powers of American Awesomeness,” continued Mr. Saunders, “I will fight crime, protect the innocent, work for world peace, and…!”
“FRED, YOU TAKE THAT STUPID COSTUME OFF RIGHT NOW,” roared Mrs. Saunders, “OR, I SWEAR TO GOD, I WILL TASE YOU IN YOUR JUNK!”
“Oh, come on!” protested Mr. Saunders. “I have a mask and belt and everything!”
“CHANGE! NOW!” everyone roared. Mr. Saunders slumped and walked off in a somber tone.
“Now that THAT’S burned into my skull,” I muttered. “Takeru, I believe this is goodbye.”
“Bye, everyone!” bid Takeru. “Oh, before I forget, do you guys know these?” “These” were studs.
“That’s 150,000,” counted Vortoranii. “2,154,000 studs in total.” Emily then slapped her forehead.
“I forgot to add our 358,000 studs from our excursion to Jurassic World!” she wailed.
“Come on!” I cried.
“Sorry!” replied Emily.
“Now we’re at 2,512,000 studs!” muttered Vortoranii. “This is absurd!”
“Are studs valuable?” asked Takeru.
“They were when the Vortonians existed,” replied X-PO. “I would stick to your currency though. Studs probably aren’t legal tender in your universe. Speaking of, your ride’s here.” A rift opened for him.
“Goodbye!” called Takeru. He went through. Hiroki then released his breath.
“Something you want to share with us?” I asked.
“I didn’t want to say this in front of Takeru,” explained Hiroki, “but I didn’t like the TV show based on his adventures.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because there was so much wasted potential!” ranted Hiroki. “On top of that, Takeru’s allies were trying too hard to be funny! I just…felt disappointed. He’s the second Rider that disappointed me.”
“Who’s the first?” asked Okaa-san.
“With all due respect, ZX (pronounce Zecross),” answered Hiroki. “Again, they didn’t expand on the story enough! The whole movie he starred in could have easily been an entire TV series!”
“I suppose so,” conceded Okaa-san.
“So, how does a PKE meter work?” I asked, changing the subject.
“When it’s on,” explains Richard as he turned it on, “these arms rise up and start flashing to indicate that there’s some form of psychokinetic activity. It functions as a ghost radar. Once it finds something, it beeps at a certain pace until it finds or loses something. If it loses something, the arms go lower, the flashing slows down, and the beeping goes at a slower rate. Gaining something is indicated by the opposite actions.” Then, it happened. The arms raised and started flashing.
“…Seriously?!” gulped Wyldstyle.
“Suits on,” I recommended.
“Rider…” began Hongo.
“Henshin!” we announced.
“I heard a Henshin!” called Mr. Saunders as he came back in his usual clothes. He saw us. “What’s going on?”
“We’ve got a ghost, Daddy,” said Touché. Mr. Saunders then dropped the lovable idiot act and assumed his army colonel persona.
“What’s our move here?” he requested.
“We find this thing,” I replied. “Richard, take point.”
“On it,” he confirmed. He led us around the room and stopped when the arms went higher and flashed more rapidly at the West Door. He scanned down the hall both ways. We followed him to his right. We went down it until we stopped at an armory.
“Better have those that can use weapons to grab them,” suggested Arch.
“Agreed,” I replied. “Those that can fight, grab a weapon.” The fighters did so as we left. The PKE meter went nuts as we faced the end of the hall. There was a transmat at the other end and the robot that killed Heather was at the other end, fiddling with it. The fighters then returned. “Stay close!” I whispered. “No one move yet!” The robot carried out its work. It then put down the tools it was using and hovered back a bit to admire its handiwork. “ATTACK!” I ordered. The robot turned and saw us. It pulled a gun on us and fired. We fired back. “Try not to damage its head!” I called.
“What about it damaging ours?!” protested Mr. Babineaux. The robot then engaged the transmat and vanished in blue light.
“Kämpfer!” I ordered. “Find out where he went!”
“Hey, what’s going on down there?” asked Max’s voice over the comms. “Something beamed onto the Executor and…” static then drowned out Max’s transmission.
“Max?” I tried. “Mr. Tennyson!”
“That robot must have severed communications somehow,” guessed Sengoku.
“Maybe with Team 10,” I argued, “but Vader’s up there as well.” I opened a communications channel with Vader. “Lord Vader, have you gotten eyes on a stowaway on your ship?” I was greeted with static. “Vader? Darth Vader! ANAKIN!”
“Er, doesn’t go by that name,” reminded Claw.
“What’s going on here?” asked an old voice. We all tried to locate the voice’s source. “Down here!” it called. I looked down to see some sort of tiny, grey, humanoid, frog-like creature with big eyes and dressed in green robes. It had some sort of grey extensions on its head and liver spots.
“Azmuth!” called Touché.
“You know him?” I asked.
“He’s the guy who created the Omnitrix,” answered Guard. “Also, the smartest being, in his words, in three (possibly five) galaxies.”
“Even people from other universes can remember it?” croaked Azmuth. “Why can’t Ben?”
“What are you doing here on Vorton?” I asked. “How did you get here?”
“Some lady calling herself a doctor dragged me into her impossible box and brought me here,” replied Azmuth. “She said she knew why I lost contact with my Omnitrix and where my Ultimatrix rig vanished.”
“THE Doctor,” I corrected. “She’s THE Doctor, a Gallifreyan, a Time-Lord, er, Lady, er…whatever.”
“In any case, she’s onboard a warship called the Executor,” continued Azmuth. “Trying to take care of the communications breakdown, no doubt.”
“We need to get up there!” I declared. “There’s a killer robot on the loose!”
“So, get us up there!” insisted Climb. I was confused by her question, then remembered.
“Dai Super Charge!” I announced. My armor bulked, then the bulk flew off as I made a rift beneath us. We ended up on the Executor’s bridge, with Vader trying to speak to the Doctor. She was wearing a lighter coat and pants with suspenders over a black shirt with a rainbow across her front. She was using her tool-kit as well as a new Sonic Screwdriver at some sort of console.
“Madam, it would be wise to…!” protested Vader.
“I’ll take it from here, Lord Vader,” I announced. Vader and the Doctor looked up to see me.
“How did you get on board?” asked the Doctor.
“Easy when you’re Vortex,” I replied. “Did you find any intruder?”
“Yes, that robot from Jurassic World,” answered the Doctor. “The one you talked about.”
“So, he DID end up here,” I mused. “He’s making our newest Foundation Element go haywire.” Guard held up the PKE meter. It was beeping again, but steadily.
“That way,” remarked Guard.
“Lead on,” I directed. Vader, some stormtroopers, and the Doctor joined us. We headed down the corridors for a bit until the blast doors closed.
“Open the blast doors! OPEN THE BLAST DOORS!” ordered a Stormtrooper as a trio of them tried to get the door open.
“Er, guys,” called Ben’s voice over the comms, “what’s going on?”
“Ghost possessing a robot,” I replied. “Can Gwen find out where it’s going?”
“Sadly, no,” answered Gwen. “If it’s a ghost, there’s no mana to track.”
“It’s possessing a robot?” asked Max. “We should be able to track via the electric charge it uses to move. Ben, can you use Grey Matter to find him?”
“Easy enough for the little guy with the mega brain,” boasted Ben. I heard a sound that indicated the Omnitrix was changing Ben. “UPGRADE!” shouted Ben’s normal voice in a robotic undertone. “Oh, COME ON!”
“Ben, what did I say about banging on my Omnitrix?” snapped Azmuth.
“Azmuth?!” called Upgrade. “I didn’t push down on the core THAT hard! Anyways, I can work with this. There’s a computer terminal here.” Ben went silent for a while, then spoke again. “He’s trying to gain access to Engineering,” reported Upgrade. “Uh oh, he found me! He’s…typing a message. He can’t speak, so he wants me to read his message aloud. He can hear us.”
“Let’s hear it,” I directed.
“And, I quote, ‘Relinquish access to Engineering or I detonate this ship like an atom bomb!’” relayed Upgrade.
“I don’t respond well to threats,” hissed Vader.
“‘Your intimidation factor does not work on me, Sith Lord,’” replied Upgrade. “Er…that’s the…”
“I know who spoke, thank you,” dismissed Vader. “Intruder, I can cause undue pain to your body from here. Cease your operations at once.”
“‘Considering that I currently have the body of PO-Lambda 2279,’” relayed Upgrade, “‘I see no reason to be afraid.’”
“‘PO-Lambda?’” I asked. X-PO then came in.
“I heard the whole thing on the way here,” he answered. “So, the ghost has PO-Lambda?”
“What does the name mean?” I asked.
“Well, what do the letters in my name stand for?” asked X-PO.
“Experimental Portal Opera…that thing’s another you?!” I realized.
“A Lambda class Portal Operator Robot,” confirmed X-PO. “A more advanced version of me. 2278 was the last of the class sold before Vorton went the way it is. 2279 was finished in terms of physical build, but never got on the shelves because the A.I wasn’t ready yet.”
“You say that as if your type of robot was meant to be sold as if it were a TV set,” I mused.
“No, sold like TV antennas,” corrected X-PO. “The Gateways were the TV sets. The Vortonians simply viewed other universes for entertainment and only interfered when authorized to do so.”
“But, an entire species…” I muttered.
“It’s more like a contract between PO Robot and Owner,” replied X-PO. “We PO Robots have to go through an extensive interview process as well as our potential owners. There has to be compatibility between the two, otherwise, there’s no real respect.”
“So, it’s not slavery to you?” I quizzed.
“Not really,” replied X-PO. “I mean, yes, there ARE wackos who would use a PO Robot for evil gains, Vortech is a prime example, but, for the most part, we’re good judges of character.”
“I see,” I muttered.
“You’re not worried about abusing my abilities, are you?” asked X-PO.
“…That worry extends to everyone,” I murmured. Everyone stared.
“I will admit,” answered Claw, “I did NOT expect that from calm, collected Megumi Hishikawa.”
“Sorry,” I replied, “it’s just that I know what being taken advantage of looks like and I worry about that. I’m the daughter of a creature that did that.”
“Now, stop that!” snapped Okaa-san. “I don’t want to hear you use that kind of talk. You are NOT that monster.”
“Okaa-san’s right,” agreed Sengoku. “If you did take advantage of anyone, the F.N.S wouldn’t be here.”
“You helped us when we needed it,” reminded Guard. “That’s why we said you should be Queen. We know, deep down, you’ll be there for us. And, rest assured, we’ll be there for you.”
“I don’t normally make friends,” rasped Batman, “but the F.N.S has helped me in more ways than you could imagine.”
“This whole adventure, hell-raising though it is,” assured Ichigō, “is exciting. I wouldn’t get anywhere without you.”
“Thanks, everyone,” I answered, smiling under my helmet. Then, the ship lurched! “Ben, what on Earth was that?!” I called.
“The intruder went past the firewalls I set up!” answered Upgrade. The blast doors then opened to reveal Team 10. There was a black computer terminal with green circuit lines and the Omnitrix symbol.
“Can you get the Doctor, Rusty, and Kämpfer to engineering?” I asked. “They may need to fix whatever damage the intruder caused.” A mound of the colors that currently make up the terminal with a green circle rose up. The circle acted as the eye.
“It’s gonna be tricky, but I can manage,” replied Upgrade. “Rusty’s on the other end of the ship.”
“Rusty, this is Megumi,” I called over the Comms.
“Awaiting commands!” reported Rusty.
“Ben’s going to open a path to Engineering for you,” I explained. “Kämpfer and the Doctor will meet you there. You need to fix whatever damage the intruder caused.”
“I obey!” obliged Rusty.
“Let me go with them,” suggested Azmuth. “They need a genius.”
“Sure, like they need you going on about how you’re the smartest being in 12 galaxies,” snapped Upgrade as the eye changed shape to show irritation.
“Three, arguably five, galaxies,” corrected Touché. “Why is that so difficult for you to remember?!”
“Whatever,” dismissed Upgrade.
“Besides, the more geniuses, the merrier,” I continued. “Be careful, Azmuth.”
“Of course,” assured Azmuth. The Doctor let Azmuth onto her shoulder and she and Kämpfer took off.
“Vader, Brigadier, Guard, Ben, with me. We’re gonna try and regain control of the ship from the bridge,” I directed.
“Not a good idea,” countered Upgrade as the black and green circuit color melted off, formed a puddle, and then a figure rose from the puddle made of the stuff, but had a green front with green underarms and black circuit lines. This was Upgrade in his original Galvanic Mechamorph state. The Omnitrix symbol was on his chest. “The intruder is on his way to the bridge,” reported Upgrade. “He’ll try and stop us.”
“Then you and Vader keep him off of me and Guard’s back,” I replied.
“He’s not on the main bridge,” reported Vader. “I can sense him going to the backup bridge. We need to get down there quickly.”
“I may have a way,” answered Upgrade. He slapped the Omnitrix symbol and changed shape in a green light. He looked like a stereotypical ghost with one eye on a track and chains on his neck and arms. “GHOSTFREAK!” he announced in a harsh whisper. “I was hoping for Big Chill, but this will do. Which deck?”
“Deck 2, 10 floors below,” answered Vader. Ghostfreak then got me, Vader, and Guard close together and phased us all through the floor. We went down 10 levels before arriving at the backup bridge.
“Okay, that was weird!” I shuddered The intruder then arrived and Ghostfreak and Vader started fighting it. The intruder pulled out his gun and fired while Vader tried to crush its armor with the Force. It didn’t go well as the intruder wiggled out of his grasp and fired on Vader’s control panel. He started having trouble breathing. I went to fix it while Ghostfreak charged at the intruder, intending to knock the ghost in the machine out. The intruder wasn’t having it as he dodged Ghostfreak numerous times.
“All right, this song and dance is making me very angry!” hissed Ghostfreak. “It just makes want to unleash my ever-growing…” he slapped the Omnitrix symbol as he changed into “rrrrrRRRAAAATTHHH!” he said. The robot then shot Rath’s wrestling shorts. They burned up as Rath ran around, slapping on the fire. It died and revealed his crotch. It was covered in fur, but Rath seemed to get madder. “You…you burned up my pants!” He then roared and slammed the robot onto the floor and punched it a lot. “LET ME TELL YA SOMETHIN’, GHOST POSSESSING A ROBOT! YOU CAN BURN ME! YOU CAN BURN MY HOUSE! YOU CAN BURN THE THINGS I STAND FOR! YOU CAN EVEN BURN MY FEELINGS, IF I HAD ANY! BUT NO ONE, AND I MEAN NO ONE, BURNS AN APPOPLEXIAN OF HIS HIGHLY ADVANCED SENSE OF SHAME!” He was about to slam both fists down when the intruder caught them and tossed him aside. “KARATE’S GOOD!” roared Rath. “RATH’S GONNA CALL YOU KARATE-BOT, KARATE BOT!” The ship lurched again and Rath crashed onto the intruder.
“Backup bridge to engineering, what’s going on?!” I called.
“There’s a radiation leak!” replied the Doctor’s voice. “One of the engine batteries ruptured! It’s contained, but we can’t get in to plug up the leak!”
“Vader, how bad is the radiation in the batteries?” I asked.
“It’s enough to kill anyone, even beings like me, in 10 minutes,” explained Vader.
“Oh boy,” I sighed. “Try to find another way to plug up the leak and filter out the radiation, Doctor. I’m still locked on trying to get the ship under control.”
“On it!” called the Doctor.
“Sir, now really,” snarled the Brigadier to the intruder. “Can’t we just get connected?” He extended a probe and jammed it into the PO Robot’s head. The intruder didn’t like that, so he sent electricity down the probe and shocked the Brigadier.
“Alistair!” I called.
“I’m fine,” assured the Brigadier, “though, I think my systems are damaged. We need more power, like, more power than Rath has!” Rath got an idea.
“LET ME TELL YA SOMETHIN’ SIR BRIGADIER ALISTAIR GORDON LETHBRIDGE-STEWART, FOUNDING CYBERMAN OF THE UNITED NEBULAR INTELLIGENCE TASK-FORCE, THAT’S A GREAT IDEA! THERE’S A TIME TO GO HERO, AND THERE’S A TIME TO GO ULTIMATE!” Rath turned the Ultimatrix rig key and slapped the Omnitrix symbol down. He got bigger, his fur went a darker shade of orange, he gained claws on each finger and another claw on each wrist, and his mane looked a lot like Wolverine from Marvel Comics. He had a vest that looked like it had green cat’s eyes and new pants. “ULTIMATE RATH!” he roared. He then looked himself over. “Cool! Wait, I’m keeping a level head? That’s all I ask for when I turn into Rath!”
“I guess Evolved Appoplexians get a cooler head in millions of years of worse case scenarios,” I mused.
“Nice!” cheered Ultimate Rath. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to kick a ghost in a robot’s rear!” Ultimate Rath then charged on all fours at the intruder. He leapt onto him and decked him. The intruder’s robot body sparked and went offline. “That was for Rath’s pants!” roared Ultimate Rath. The Omnitrix symbol then started flashing red. “And this is a perfect time to power down,” chuckled Ultimate Rath, “now that the threat is over.” The Omnitrix beeped and then Ultimate Rath shrunk down to Rath, then went back to Ben.
“Just so you know,” I criticized, “we were shaking like Jell-O when you fought as Ultimate Rath.”
“Sorry, I never used Ultimate Rath before,” answered Ben with a sheepish grin. The Comms then beeped.
“Go ahead,” I called.
“The leak has been sealed,” reported the Doctor.
“All right!” I cheered. “How did you guys do it?”
“We didn’t,” answered Azmuth. “Rusty did. Manually. In the infected zone.”
“…But…the radiation…” I stammered.
“Megumi, you need to get to Engineering, NOW!” called Kämpfer. A worst case scenario entered my mind.
“Guys, MOVE!” I shouted. We ran to Engineering. When we entered, there was a transparent wall with us on one side and Rusty on the other. The Brigadier and I rushed to the wall, but Lukas and the Doctor held us back.
“Get out of the way, Doctor!” demanded the Brigadier.
“You can’t go in!” argued the Doctor.
“But, the radiation! He’ll die!” cried the Brigadier.
“Brigadier! Sir! ALISTAIR!” snapped the Doctor. The Brigadier and I stopped struggling. “He’s already too far gone.” They released us, allowing us to walk over to the infected zone. Rusty wasn’t twitching as much. His dome swiveled slowly as the eye was getting dimmer. He then rotated his body slowly.
“Let…me…see…you…” he croaked. “The…real…you…” Rusty’s casing then opened, slowly. His real self was looking a sickly brown as his eye was opened slowly. I cancelled my transformation as the Brigadier opened his helmet. “Do…not…grieve,” said Rusty weakly. “I did…what was…needed.”
“Rusty, there was a plethora of droids!” I cried, tears coming down my face. “They didn’t have organic components!”
“They…did not…have…the needed…skill…” wheezed Rusty. One of his tentacles touched the glass. The Brigadier put his hand up to it. “Alistair…” he continued, “I…hope…this…banishes…any doubt…you held…about…me…”
“Any doubt I had was banished ages ago, old chap,” mumbled the Brigadier. “You’ve become more than a Dalek. You’ve become my friend.” There was a few seconds silence.
“I…am in…pain…” reported. Rusty. I moved to speak, but Rusty cut me off. “This…is fine. …I…will die…so you…may live. …But…before…I die…I’m glad…I met…you…”
“Rusty, we can help!” I wailed.
“No…you…cannot…” countered Rusty. “…I…die…for a good…cause. …The needs…of the many…outweigh…the needs…of the few…as Spock…would…put it. …Good…bye…my friends.” Rusty’s real eye closed, his true limbs drooped as well as his shell’s limbs, and his eyestalk stopped glowing once it went down. Rusty, the friendly Dalek…was dead.
The Brigadier retrieved Rusty’s last wish from a backup computer in his shell. Rusty wanted his real body to be taken out of the shell and fired into a star, to symbolize his rebirth from normal Dalek soldier to our friend. When the radiation levels were acceptable, we got Rusty out and decontaminated his body. We preserved him for a while so we could set up his funeral. It took place in the Gateway room and we all wore dark clothing. Batman had gotten out of his Bat suit and put on normal funeral clothes, putting on the persona of Bruce Wayne. He even dropped the raspy voice he uses as Batman. The Brigadier had his armor painted black. Someone knocked on my door. “Yes?” I asked, a little shaky as Okaa-san laced me up.
“Megumi, dear, it’s time,” whispered Death.
“On my way,” I mumbled. Okaa-san followed me, her hand on my shoulder to reassure me. Soon, we arrived. A track with a little coffin on our end and the controls behind the coffin rested. It was open casket, so we could see Rusty’s real self. Two of his tentacles were resting as a corpse’s hands would, clasped together, and his eye was closed. I took my place at the controls. Okaa-san was behind me as well as Hiroki. Hongo and Wyldstyle were on my left while Bruce and Gandalf were on my right. “Minna-san,” I began, “today, we gather to honor the death of a friend, Rusty the Dalek. Before an encounter with his people’s greatest enemy, the Doctor, Rusty’s ship was attacked and destroyed. He survived, but with damage. That damage allowed him to see a star being born and see what a beautiful thing life is. During an encounter with the Doctor, he joined the humans and made a name for himself. Over time, he became friends with Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Then, both he and the newly-christened Brigadier joined us and became our allies, helping us when needed. He gave his life so we may continue the fight against Lord Vortech. I, for one, will fight in his name, as I know you all will. I must say, out of all the souls I met in the multiverse, his was the most…diverse.” I nodded to Mr. Saunders.
“Present…ARMS!” he barked. Everybody raised a weapon in salute. I then pressed a button on the controls and Rusty’s coffin moved. It went slowly to allow us to say goodbye. Soon, it left the rail from Vorton and floated to one of the stars, where his body was consumed to make new fuel for that star. Rusty was returned to cosmic shores.
“I will not say ‘do not weep’,” said Gandalf softly, “for not all tears are an evil.” As we departed, Emily and Okaa-san joined me in my quarters. We sat on my bed. At that point, I let myself cry uncontrollably. I was embraced by Emily and sobbed as she held my trembling frame. Okaa-san held us both. We all wept for Rusty. Emily then saw something and directed me to look on my dresser. Azmuth was standing there.
“I am…sorry you’re going through this,” he whispered. “From what you said, Rusty had evolved beyond the hatred that was bred into his species.” I sniffed before answering.
“Yes,” I mumbled. “Personally, I think he would have been a worthy host of the Omnitrix.”
“Very much so,” agreed Azmuth.
“Azmuth,” called Emily as she dried her eyes, “as long you’re here, I have a question.”
“Go ahead,” replied Azmuth.
“Ben had the Omnitrix taken from him when he was in Jurassic World,” recalled Emily. “After it got itself off the thief, I was its new host for a while. When I had it, I couldn’t access my belt’s powers or suit. Could the Omnitrix have blocked that somehow?”
“I’m not sure,” answered Azmuth. “The Omnitrix never did that before. I’ll look into it when I get back.”
“Okay,” I mumbled. Azmuth departed.
“Do you need anything?” asked Emily.
“I just need to be alone for a bit,” I whimpered.
“Okay,” sighed Emily. She and Okaa-san left as I laid on the bed. For the first time, I felt my own mortality, and the mortality of my friends. I laid still for a while.
“…Rusty,” sang a woman’s voice.
“AUGH!” I screamed in surprise as I tumbled off my bed.
“AUGH!” screamed the woman.
“AUGH!” I screamed as I picked myself up.
“AUGH!” screamed the woman.
“AUGH!” I screamed.
“AUGH!” screamed the woman.
“…AUGH!” I screamed.
“AUGH!” screamed the woman. “WHY ARE WE SCREAMING ‘AUGH’ OVER AND OVER?!”
“DOCTOR, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!” I shouted.
“Rusty never got a good tribute song!” replied the Doctor.
“Get the hell out of my room and let me grieve in peace!” I snarled, the anger I thought I had gotten over was coming back.
“Rusty needs a song!” protested the Doctor. “He needs to be immortalized somehow!”
“I heard screaming!” whispered a voice. It was Death.
“I was screaming at the Doctor,” I replied. “Doctor, if I let you sing a tribute to Rusty, will you let me be?!”
“Of course,” assured the Doctor. I sat down, and the Doctor sang to the tune of Amazing Grace.
How great was he,
That saved people
I never thought,
I would find heart,
But, a heart, I see,
The Doctor finished. “Wasn’t that lovely?” she asked. I just glared at her. “My work is done.” The Doctor entered the TARDIS and departed.
“I should go, as well,” whispered Death.
“Death, wait,” I called.
“Hm?” hummed Death.
“I know that you and the Apocalypse Riders will see him,” I began, “but, do you think we mortals will see him again?”
“He IS dead,” whispered Death, “and no one can cure it, so…”
“But, is there hope?” I asked.
“There never was,” whispered Death, “just a fool’s hope.”
“…I guess,” I sighed.
“I’ll let you be,” whispered Death. “We shall meet again, before the end.”
“…Bye…” I mumbled. Death left and I got ready for bed. We had already had dinner, so I just brushed my teeth, put on my nightgown, and got into bed. “…Goodbye, Rusty,” I mumbled. “Thank you.”