A woman of Japanese descent looked out the balcony overlooking her backyard, contemplating what happened three years into her past. It wasn’t a pleasant memory. A robot she had trusted had revealed that she and her friends were used for his ends. He was judged to be guilty and sentenced to spend a century in prison with no parole. She sighed as she sipped her tea. She then idly looked inside to see a device she had used throughout her career as a Kamen Rider. That’s right, the woman was Megumi Hishikawa, Kamen Rider Royal/Vortex, Queen of the Feudal Nerd Society, part-time clerk at Tentallia’s Groceries, and currently a permanent student at After Academy. She had no classes, homework, or work for the day. She sighed again as she thought of X-PO’s breakdown in court. “I trusted Vortoranii to keep Vorton intact and now it’s just three rocks in space with life support! I trusted Vortech to be sensible with the Foundation Elements and he still gathered them! I trusted the F.N.S to keep to the mission and they got distracted by side quests! I trusted Elkrandek to get me out of this mess and he turns on me! This all proves one thing; trust is only going to get you killed in the long run! I was right when I first came online! Everyone and everything is just the means to an end!” That was what he declared before he was found guilty. Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Come in,” she called. The door opened to reveal Death, the Head of her House at After Academy.
“Just thought I’d visit,” whispered Death as she took off her shoes and set them on the mat reserved for shoes. She climbed the stairs and noticed Megumi’s current mood. “Is…everything all right?” she quizzed. She then gasped. “Has the marriage gone…?!”
“No, no,” assured Megumi. “It’s not that. I’m just…thinking about X-PO. I’ve been doing that for the past three years.”
“Oh,” realized Death. “Do you…want to talk about it?”
“What’s there TO talk about?” asked Megumi. “X-PO’s in prison and we’re still looking for Hiro. You know, Richard and I were sure he’d interrupt our wedding.”
“Maybe he decided not to be so gauche,” guessed Death.
“A bit of a stretch,” muttered Megumi. “Interrupting a wedding IS something he’d do. I mean, he interrupted Scorpainia’s…what, 37th wedding to her king? Seriously, how many times do Tarlaxians get married to the same person?”
“Depends on the Tarlaxians,” replied Death. “Besides, it helps renew their vows.”
“Fair point,” conceded Megumi. “In any case…I don’t know, maybe we’re just in a rut. Hey, you’re monitoring something called a convergence, right?”
“A Convergence,” corrected Death. “Capital C. You were sick during that lecture.”
“Could you give me the cliff-notes version of it?” asked Megumi.
“All right,” declared Death. “You know how Vortech was trying to smash every reality into one?”
“How could I forget?” muttered Megumi. “The Quad still haunts me to this day.”
“Well, a Convergence is a temporary, more stable version of that,” continued Death. “Instead of being smashed together, risking a fracturing of that reality, a few universes ease into blending with each other. Mostly, different planets will appear near the nexus planet of a universe. Er, you DO know what a nexus planet is, right?”
“The planet where the action is the hottest in that universe,” answered Megumi. “Usually, it’s what determines a universe’s physical laws and time scale. I recently wrote a paper on the subject for Lacey.”
“I take it the class was about learning how to map out a universe,” guessed Death.
“Yep,” confirmed Megumi. “So, other nexus planets will be seen from each other during the Convergence?”
“Exactly,” answered Death, “and it has caused both lasting friendships and the bloodiest of wars. The one coming up is going to throw Vorton into the mix.”
“Uh oh!” gulped Megumi. “I don’t think any nexus planet will like seeing Vorton’s ruined state hanging near them!”
“Well, no, but I’d concern myself with Shocker Rift,” suggested Death. “They’re sure to capitalize on the Convergence.”
“Hiro’s already got new recruits,” muttered Megumi darkly. “Who knows what kind of vile fiends he obtained!”
“…Is this some kind of joke?!” roared Adachi Hiro, the leader of the interdimensional terrorist group, Shocker Rift. Ambassador Hell, his current second in command, rolled his eyes. “I sent you to get the most fearsome people in that universe and what do you bring back?! A midget dressed like a Roman Soldier with a black ball for a head and no mouth, a walking, shaggy, red carpet with tennis shoes, an overweight witch, and some midget cowboy that’s all red moustache?!”
“You were the one who picked L-0-0-N-3-Y-T-U-N-3-5!” argued Ambassador Hell. “We NEED the soldiers!” Hiro snarled…then sighed. After the fiasco with the Sources three years ago, he couldn’t afford to be picky.
“All right, let’s get this over with,” he grumbled. He produced a clipboard and approached the midget Roman Soldier. “Commander X-2: Marvin of Mars, what do you have to offer?”
“Only the incredible technology of the Martian Empire,” replied Marvin the Martian. “Isn’t that delightful?”
“Fine, fine,” muttered Hiro. “Welcome to Shocker Rift.” He approached the red, hairy monster. “Gossamer, what can you offer?” The monster, Gossamer, punched his hand and cracked his knuckles. “We can always use a little muscle. Welcome to Shocker Rift.” He then turned to the witch. “Witch Hazel, what can you offer?”
“I have quite the magical repertoire,” offered Witch Hazel.
“Splendid, a counter for Elphaba,” mumbled Hiro. “Welcome to Shocker Rift.” Last, but not least, was the short cowboy. “Yosemite Sam, what can you offer?”
“I’m the roughest, toughest, rip-roarin’-est, Edward Everett Horton-est hombre whatever packed a six-shooter! That’s who I am!” shouted Sam as he fired some shots.
“Wonderful, a sharp-shooter,” muttered Hiro. “Welcome to Shocker Rift. All right, Ambassador Hell, take them to orientation.” Ambassador Hell grumbled, but obeyed. Marvin ran his eyes up and down the Dalek Operator at the helm.
“Didn’t I see you in Area 52?” he asked.
“Must have been an older model Dalek!” replied the Dalek Operator. Marvin shrugged before rejoining the group.
“I’ll be in my ready room,” muttered Hiro to the Dalek Operator. “Keep the ship steady.”
“I obey!” obliged the Dalek Operator. Hiro entered his ready room and flopped into the chair, dejected. After a few minutes of staring off into space, the door chime rang.
“Come in,” he mumbled. The door opened to reveal Igura, a woman he had married a year ago. “You’re always a welcome sight,” he greeted as he sat up. He offered his lap. Igura sat down and wiggled a little to get comfy. “What can I do for you?”
“I think I have something that can give us better soldiers,” she purred.
“Do tell,” invited Hiro.
“A Convergence is about to occur,” she explained. “Vorton’s involved. One of the universes being blended with Vorton is one where one of Megumi’s allies dwells and it has more to offer than just the ally’s main nemesis.”
A pair of robots were button-mashing controllers built for them. They were laughing at the game they were playing. “That girl should NOT be twerking!” laughed the red robot in a young man’s voice.
“That girl shouldn’t EXIST!” replied the purple and black robot in a young woman’s voice. “I wish the developers didn’t code her!”
“This is the kind of game,” continued the red robot, “where I’m like ‘UGH! I can’t fragging take anymore!’ and I look on my chronometer and we’ve only played for, like, one and a half cycles!” The robots were laughing again. “Please, no more!” mocked the red one before noticing his companion’s character. “Blackarachnia, why do you have that gun?”
“It freezes fairies,” replied the female robot, Blackarachnia.
“It freezes fairies,” repeated the red robot, Optimus Prime. “That’s the ONLY thing it does! It doesn’t do anything else.”
“Who cares about the cats? Who cares about the bats?” chuckled Blackarachnia as her character shot at various enemies with the gun. “See? The cats don’t care.”
“It ONLY targets mice,” laughed Optimus. “That is, in all probability, the most racist gun ever!” That earned a laugh from both of them.
“Look, it doesn’t even damage the…” Blackarachnia trailed off as she saw an object bouncing in, “…bouncing future buttball?” The two Autobots then realized what she said.
“Buttball?!” they both repeated in laughing unison.
“In the future,” continued Blackarachnia through her laughter, “they decided football wasn’t…” her character was then hit. “Um, frack that knight!” she snapped before a shot on screen killed her character. “Are…are you serious right now?!” she howled.
“Did you just get…?!” yelped Optimus.
“The guy…I just got fracking ganked!” shouted Blackarachnia.
“Hey, guys!” called a voice. Optimus and Blackarachnia turned their heads to see Sonic and Ultra Magnus coming up. “What are you playing?” asked Sonic.
“Just some Tales of Whimsica XIII,” explained Blackarachnia.
“There IS a certain problem of Deceptive Constructs! Hint, hint!” hissed Ultra Magnus.
“Dude, we’ve got intelligence reports saying that the Decepticons are still repairing the Nemesis after Nemesis Prime’s stunt three weeks ago,” replied Optimus. “They’re still five weeks out. We’ve been running drills every day. Even PROWL can find an excuse to relax!”
“Got room for another player?” asked Sonic.
“Just grab a controller and pick your character!” replied Optimus. Ultra Magnus sighed.
“I can’t understand why you want to play a fantasy game,” he muttered, “when your LIVES are already fantastic.”
“Is…that a futuristic football?!” yelped Sonic when he started playing.
“No, it’s a buttball,” replied Blackarachnia.
“Oh, Primus, the spiky dudes!” gulped Optimus as spiky enemies swarmed the screen.
“Chaos, they’re mobbing us!” swore Sonic as Ultra Magnus left the room.
“I just imagined our dudes as mobsters surrounded by them,” laughed Blackarachnia. Sonic and Optimus joined in her laughter. “I’m sorry, Valentino!” she continued in a mobster goon’s voice. “I tried my best!”
“I told you to do a clean job,” replied Optimus in another mobster impression, “…and you FRACKED it up! There’s spiky dudes EVERYWHERE!”
“There…is Fat Tony…all OVER this place!” supplied Sonic in another Mobster impression as his character exploded. “There’s just PIECES of Fat Tony!”
“Might as well call this FAT TONY’S!” declared Optimus.
“God rest his soul!” wished Blackarachnia.
“God rest his soul!” agreed Sonic and Optimus.
“I really respected him, but, you know, he didn’t pay,” continued Optimus.
“He went on a dating website AS Fat Tony,” chuckled Blackarachnia. “Blew his cover.” The trio continued laughing as they played.
A gunmetal grey robot was at his workstation, trying to make sense of what happened three weeks ago with his ship while he was off-planet. He stared at the ceiling of his office, growling all the while. His thoughts were interrupted by the door chime. “Enter,” he rumbled. An enormously fat man with a beaky nose and busy moustache floated in on his personal transport.
“Megatron, my friend!” cheered the human. “I trust your new workstation suits your needs?”
“It’s…adequate, Eggman,” remarked Megatron.
“Then, if I can be of any further assistance,” declared Dr. Eggman, “I’m just a call away!”
“I need a report on the Nemesis’ repairs,” growled Megatron.
“…We’re still 37.5% done on repairs, per Shockwave’s original predictions,” sighed Eggman. Megatron glared at him. “I’m sorry, Megatron, but Nemesis Prime was thorough in nearly totaling the ship! We’re using all of our available resources to fix the thing! If I made better repair bots now, it would be next to impossible to get new supplies!”
“Isn’t there ANYTHING you can do?!” snarled Megatron.
“Well, MAYBE if you didn’t send that Galvatron character down to Mobius to settle his business,” replied Eggman. “What’s he doing down there anyway?!”
“That doesn’t concern you yet!” dismissed Megatron.
“I say it DOES!” hissed Eggman. “You know, I’m getting a little sick and tired of Decepticons coming and going without a word! Maybe I should make a house rule that you lot need to sign your name on a time-sheet before leaving!”
“Mind your tongue, fleshling!” roared Megatron as he leveled his fusion cannon at Eggman.
“How about you mind your vocal processors?!” replied Eggman as he activated a large cannon and brought it level to Megatron’s fusion cannon. They stayed in that position for a while until both lowered their weapons. “Now,” continued Eggman, “I DO require something from the Decepticons.”
“Name it quickly,” grumbled Megatron.
“I need a communications terminal,” explained Eggman.
“Shockwave will see to it,” declared Megatron.
“A private communications terminal, separate from all channels except the ones I personally program,” continued Eggman. “I also require Soundwave to not monitor the terminal as I make my calls.”
“Why all the secrecy?” asked Megatron. “Who are you going to talk to?”
“That’s not relevant to you,” remarked Eggman. He departed Megatron’s office at that.
“…No, of course, it’s not!” hissed Megatron.
A dark-skinned woman was tapping her foot under her pink skirts. Her nine tails twitched whenever her drumming fingers made contact with her arm. “Where is she?” she grumbled as she took her rose hairpiece out of her bun and fastened it to her waist while her irritation increased. She was unaware of the creaking of wood approaching her, even though she was in a base surrounded by ice and snow.
“Problem, Captain?” asked a low, grandfatherly voice. The woman jumped and whirled around to see a tree-like giant towering over her. She calmed down once she recognized the creature.
“Oak, I know you recommended Denstra as your replacement,” muttered the woman, Arsha Royana, “but this is no way to start a job on my ship!”
“The shuttle is probably delayed,” rumbled Oak, the now retired Dryad Officer on the Endeavor.
“And it all could have been avoided if we met her in the Under-realm!” argued Arsha. “But she had to insist on taking a shuttle here, going to show how much…!” She then drew in a breath and exhaled slowly. “I’ve heard things about Denstra from all over Realmfleet that I don’t know what to make of her.”
“Don’t be hasty,” advised Oak. “I’m sure Commander Welmeva has her reasons for taking a shuttle.”
“They better be good reasons,” muttered Arsha. “With Dr. Borg coming back, we need help quickly.”
“Status of tri-alpha matrix?” requested a blue-skinned, winged, cyborg woman.
“Stable, Mother,” replied a feminine robot with a red pentagon for a face.
“All tests ready, Dr. Borg,” reported a small, big-eared, large-nosed, green skinned man.
“Splendid,” praised Dr. C. Y. Borg. “Adjust settings to 3.7.”
“Adjusting settings,” confirmed the robot, Jansha.
“Neural activity increased three-fold,” reported the small man, Tormo. “Dr. Borg, with current standards, the risk of burnout may have increased.”
“Don’t tell me you’re worrying so much about…!” hissed Jansha. The sparks leaping from the machine being tested interrupted her. She checked her station. “…Total burnout on all circuits!” she wailed. “It’s ruined!”
“Trace the fault’s origin,” directed Dr. Borg, “and give me documentation on everything we’ve done thus far. We need to figure out what went wrong.”
“Oh dear,” snarked Tormo. “Back to square 1. Two days wasted. You could have stayed in your recharge pod, Jansha.”
“Bite me, you green-skinned, gold-hoarding halfling!” snapped Jansha. That did it!
“Get melted, you malfunctioning garbage can!” replied Tormo. The two pounced on each other and it was a battle of flesh and steel!
“That’s enough, both of you!” shouted Dr. Borg. They stopped fighting and looked at Dr. Borg. “Jansha, one does not let themselves fall to anger that quickly. Tormo, you should know better than to insult your colleague. Now, trace the fault’s origin.” She turned and walked away.
Meanwhile, beyond all realities, a conference was going on. “…It’s happening,” mused one woman.
“Should we send them?” asked another.
“It only makes sense,” replied the first.
“Let us hope they’re receptive to it,” muttered a third. “The last time this happened, the previous ones were content to kill each other.”
“Not this time,” assured the first. “We have enough that will agree to the terms we set out.”
“Then it’s agreed?” asked a fourth.
“It is agreed,” declared all four.
“I’ll tell her to prepare them,” declared the second.