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    The Mazkertis Paradox

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    Klak
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    The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Mon Mar 30, 2015 12:15 pm

    As you may know, BZPB will be rebooted. However, many plots have been left unresolved, including one where a human wizard is attempting to rewrite history. This story is an attempt to wrap up several plots. I aim to tell a story that needs to be told. Enjoy!

    Chapter 1: Harmony, Disharmony

    Far off on Atuar Sadiares, a band was given the golden opportunity: They would play in the town square for a fundraising event dedicated to help repair the station after the recent attacks. Their excitement overwhelmed them, and they decided that they would practice at their future venue.

    The band set up their instruments on the stage, and began to play. Despite their best efforts, their music was atrocious. Their problem was a lack of harmony.

    The lead singer shook his head and looked at the drummer.

    “Not quite my tempo,“ he said. “You’re rushing.”

    The drummer started to argue with him, and soon, both the bassists and guitarists where involved.

    Meanwhile, a muscular man wearing a red armless shirt, black jeans, and a belt with a signature radioactive trefoil symbol as its buckle, walked by the commotion. He had recently escaped a containment pod, and was on his way to a shuttle towards Supermax 282. But that’s none of our business.

    “Damn,” he said with a deep gravely voice after observing the band’s fight. A voice called from the shuttle, and urged him to get on.

    “I go where I please, and I please where I go,” said the man as he stepped onto the shuttle.

    --

    Lalli Cain rolled his eyes and spoke into the communicator.

    “Name’s Cain, Lalli Cain, like the famous murderers. Come on, man. I’m with Klak.”

    He heard a hesitant sigh come from Ynot’s side.

    “Fair enough,“ said the Makuta.

    Cain’s ship boarded the much larger Cabana, and all of its occupants emerged. Klak ran in front of them, and greeted Ynot.

    “Haven’t seen you in a while,” he said, rather cheerily.

    “Likewise, Klak,” responded Ynot with a smile.

    “I need to speak with you about Mazkertis, Ynot,” Klak said, cutting right to the chase.

    “I assumed you would want to talk about that, along wi-why the hell is there another D-Klak here?”

    D-Klak waved at Ynot and grinned.

    “Don’t you hate time travel?” he said.

    “I’ve a better question,” Klak said with a hint of annoyance in his voice. “Why the heck would you put D-Klak in harm’s way when that is exactly what we’re trying to avoid?”

    Ynot slammed his fist on a wall in anger.

    “Look, damn it, I’ve had enough of people trying to point out what I should and should have done today! What’s done is done, we need to figure out a way to stop that maniac before he kills us all!”

    Klak was taken aback by Ynot’s yelling, but he knew that his friend was right. Mazkertis had to be stopped. Too many lives were at stake.

    “Indeed,” he said, quietly, “Who else is here?”

    “The rest of the crew, along with some Knights of the Keruvim. We lost one of them in the battle,” Ynot said, somberly. “Sasuken also collapsed, and Coro’s helping him. They’ve both been acting weird lately.”

    “Knights? Axalara?!”

    Klak ran to where everyone else was at, and saw his beloved being taken care of by Perseus.

    “AXALARA!”

    He rushed over to her, and desperately shook her, attempting to wake the Toa. Perseus somberly looked at Klak, whom he had not seen in a while.

    “She’s alright, according to my scans she won’t go into a coma. Cutter wasn’t so lucky. That monster killed him,” the Red Lantern said.

    “No….” whispered Klak to himself as he cradled Axalara in his arms.

    --

    Lalli Cain ran into Moe, and the two paused, staring at each other. It was as though they had known each other for quite some time.

    “Name’s Cain, Lalli Cain.”

    “They call me Moe.”

    Meanwhile, the two D-Klaks approached each other with inquisitive looks on their faces.

    “Huh,” said D-Klak (4).

    “Believe me, it’s weirder when you see it a year after seeing it,” said the other D-Klak.

    “Time travel is weird,” they say in unison.

    --

    Meanwhile, on the Divine Providence, Figlio’s smile beamed at the assembly.

    “Yes, you should get your security checked out.”

    Rokubungi Gendo calmly reached for his phone and called for security.

    “What are you doing here?” asked Malygos with slight repulsion.

    “Come now, that’s now way to speak to your son’s friend, Malygos,” said Figlio, tauntingly. “By the way, he’s a handsome little boy. You raised him well.”

    “I knew it!” shouted Blackout, pointing at both Figlio and Malygos. “I knew you were cooperating!”

    “Cooperating? We’re networking, and his son has helped HYDRA achieve many of its goals,” said the Rider, sitting down. “Your relationship with the organization is about the same. You remember our meeting on Ailyb-Gypte.”

    “Meeting? What meeting?” said Malygos angrily, “And what gives you a right to make a claim on a Dominion world, Rider?!”

    Figlio raised his arms, and blue light emerged from his staff. An image was projected onto the table as the guards came in. Everyone was mystified at the sight: a man wearing a HYDRA uniform standing before the Keruvim. The guards started to restrain Figlio, attempting to drag him away.

    “This does!” he yelled as the guards pushed him to the ground.

    Gendo observed the reactions of the other dignitaries. Blackout stared in horror at the picture, while Malygos was astonished. Their visages had made one thing clear: HYDRA now deserved a seat at the table.

    “Let him go,” Gendo said, raising his hand. The guards stood up with Figlio, and pushed him into an empty chair.

    “Thank you, thank you,” Figlio retorted, smiling.

    “How the hell did you get that? Perseus had hidden it,” Blackout asked incredulously.

    “All you need to know is that I figured things out. However, this is not the reason behind my sudden appearance,“ Armechio said, suddenly frowning. “As you may already be aware, Subject 08, aka Mazkertis has been released from his prison. He was once an enemy of the Great Beings, and now, he is planning on rampaging throughout the cosmos. HYDRA and Great Being intelligence has assessed with high confidence that he intends to travel back in time. This could have potentially disruptive effects on the time stream. You have already seen what he is capable of, and, if left unchecked, he will be unstoppable. Now, the Dominion and Blackout’s puppet government both failed to stop him. Saskana should be allowed to decide its fate, and reject any sort of incompetence.”

    Gendo removed his glasses and began to wipe them. His face was expressionless.

    “And I suppose, Mister…”

    “Figlio,” the Rider added. “Figlio di Armechio.”

    “Mr. Armechio,“ continued Gendo, “That you intend on making it clear that HYDRA is the only competent choice that Saskanans need to make?”

    “Perhaps,” said Figlio, nodding. “But that choice belongs to the Saskanan people, not the Dominion, or the Brotherhood. HYDRA possesses the Keruvim, a device that Mazkertis had an interest in 50 years ago. This artefact could bait the wizard, and obliterate him once and for all. Thus, HYDRA will end this madness.”

    “If only it were so simple,” said Gendo. “The Lurians have revealed themselves, and have a vested interest in the conflict.”

    Malygos nodded. “Their leader, Gabriel Ascheron, made an alliance with Mazkertis. Your plan will not work, but the Dominion can take care of this.”

    “So that you can take Luria and Saskana for yourself, and absorb Mazkertis’s magic? I don’t think so, Magoo,” said Blackout, mockingly. “Let’s focus on the task at hand, and worry about those maniacs later.”

    “Your funeral,” said Figlio as he leaned back in his chair. They continued to discuss the future political situation of Saskana.

    --

    TPK silently watched as half of the Claws of the Phoenix cooperated with the Knights and Ynot’s crew as they attempted to take care of their unconscious comrades. Suddenly, Black Phantom contacted him through a small electronic communication device.

    “Sir,” said the android robotically, “We have tracked Figlio di Armechio to Saskana.  We found his vitals on a ship not too far from your current location.”

    “What? Figlio is here, everyone,” TPK yelled to the rest of the crew.

    Klak looked up at TPK with widened eyes.

    “Where is he?” asked the Makuta of Light.

    “Knowing him, he’s probably on that ship that Malygos and Blackout are on,” said D-Klak (4) matter-of-factly.

    “I suggest we make quite the entrance,” said Nadle.

    “Right. Spotter, you and Trixtin take care of Axalara and Sasuken with Nadle and the others. Ynot, you, Kurenitsu and I will accompany D-Klak on that that ship,” said Klak.

    “Which one?” asked both D-Klaks in unison.

    “Doesn’t matter,” responded Klak with a groan.

    Hokagetsu approached the two men out of time, and suggested that they decide who would go on the Takemikazuchi ship by playing a nice game of rock-paper-scissors.

    Perseus went up to them.

    “TPK and I are coming with you, period,” he said brusquely. Klak nodded, while Ynot rolled his eyes.

    They all boarded Lalli Cain’s ship, which requested to land on the Divine Providence.

    --

    Sasuken was caught inside of a perplexing dream. Grey, imperceptible shapes surrounded him as he flew through a burnt meadow. Days seemed to pass, until Sasuken slammed into a familiar Kraahkan.

    “He is dangerous,” said a disembodied voice. “His Hollow could end many lives…”

    “But Ynot is my friend, why would I betray him?” asked a desparate Sasuken.

    “You are doing him a favor, Sasuken. You are ridding him of his darkest emotions. You must strike when the moment is right. Or all is lost.”

    Sasuken was suddenly surrounded by several shades. They began to attack him, and the Makuta fought back and defeated most of them. However, one who looked eerily similar to Hollow Ynot was able to overpower Sasuken, and cut him down.

    Sasuken woke up screaming. Trixtin and Spotter ran over to him as he panicked.  

    --

    TPK burst into the conference room and rushed over to Figlio in an attempt to punch him. The latter leaned to the side and positioned his sword’s sheath so that TPK would trip and fall. The Great Being angrily dusted himself as he stood up.

    “Take it easy,” said Gendo, aiming a gun at TPK. The latter calmed down and walked over to Ynot, the Klaks, and Lalli Cain, all who stepped

    “So, Figlio, releasing Mazkertis into this world wasn’t good enough for you,” said Ynot.

    Figlio rolled his eyes. “Unsubstantiated accusations.“

    “Oh please, we all know you are behind this. We also know that you planned the horrific experiments that drove him mad!” retorted Klak.

    “Also unsubstantiated. Come now, Lalli, you won’t let them talk to me like this,” Figlio said.

    “You’re right,” said Lalli as he crossed over to Figlio’s side. “What is this, an episode of Space Jerry Springer?”

    “What?! You’re a traitor,” cried D-Klak as Cain’s allegiance was revealed.

    “Mr. Cain was offered a very generous contract to work for HYDRA,” explained Figlio. “I’m sure he helped you all for a little extra cash. I’m sure you would have done the same, D-Klak. After all, you fight for the highest bidder too.”

    D-Klak grimaced and looked away. An argument began to erupt between many of those present. Klak shook his head silently, and slammed his fist on the table.

    “Let’s stop these futile discussions,” he bellowed. The room suddenly became silent. “Mazkertis and his new ally are threatening us all. We need to unite. D-Klak told me that your attacks on Saskana weren’t coordinated. Whenever the Claws of the Phoenix and I crossed paths with Mazkertis, we found that we were facing an enemy that we did not understand. That’s our problem. Everyone here needs to develop a joint action plan between all of us, so that we may find Mazkertis and stop him before it’s too late. I-”

    “Oh please,” interrupted Malygos. “We have all had our respective temporary alliances. We even acted in unity a few hours ago. It is useless and pointless to bring fools to your side when they would otherwise be against you. What’s so different this time?” Malygos’ venomous statements were followed by a glare in Blackout’s direction.

    “This time,” Klak answered, “This time we’re fighting for existence as we know it. Mazkertis plans on changing our history. I’ve been told that Ascheron is a monster. There’s no way this will end well.”

    “He’s right,” added D-Klak. “On Saskana, I noticed that Mazkertis had no little to no restraint. There was no way I could reason with him. His hatred and desire for vengeance have consumed him, and I fear he’s too far down the path of the dark side. I sensed much hate in Ascheron as well. They’re going to use each other to get what they want, and they won’t let anything stand in their way. I doubt either of them know the true consequences of their alliance, but we all do.”

    “A plan of attack could work,” said Figlio, “We could split into teams that will search for him and alert everyone else when they find him. Meanwhile, I’ll find the Keruvim.”

    “Hold on, a squadron of Knights are going with you,” fired Perseus.

    “I am too, with my droids,” said TPK.

    “The Takemikazuchi Empire is interested in aiding your cooperation force. I will speak to Emperor Yetzirah,” said Gendo, nodding at Klak.

    “So, what’s the verdict?” asked Ynot. “Are you in, or are you out?”

    Blackout and Malygos looked at each other, and turned to Ynot.

    --

    The band on Atuar Sadiares had finally reached a compromise. They played harmoniously together in the town square. The sound reverberated throughout the space station, enrapturing the hearts of its listeners.

    ----

    Chapter 2 will be up sometime this week, hopefully tomorrow!


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    Klak
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:59 am

    Chapter 2: Calm

    Mazkertis burst into Sachiel’s medical office. He had no patience for the latter’s indecisiveness. He desperately took pills and bandaged his wounds. Meanwhile, Sachiel and Fourteen ran into the office and began to search for the wizard.

    John Sheppard helped Cassius Calm up, and patted him on the back. He handed him a medkit that was on the floor. It had been blasted away from Sachiel’s office during Calm’s short encounter with Mazkertis.

    Calm took some medicine from the kit. It would be an hour before its effects would take place, but he thought it would do. Mazkertis was in control of a potent, dark power that had to be vanquished before it was too late.

    Sachiel and Fourteen burst through the roof of the office, flying into the air. Sachiel quickly used his magic to soften the fall, but Fourteen was not so fortunate. Although his exoskeleton ameliorated his slamming into a metallic roof, the pirate felt one of the ribs of his endoskeleton break.

    Before he could lift himself from the wreckage, Mazkertis appeared and grabbed him by the neck. Fourteen summoned his strength to his mind, and began to use telepathic attacks against the wizard. Mazkertis strained and fought back. It was a war of minds.

    Calm and Shepard made their way to the foot of the building, while Sachiel skipped across the nearest rooftops. Sachiel hesitated to wrest Fourteen from Mazkertis. Was this the justice he was seeking? Surely, the pirate would receive the death that he deserved, that all Pirate Lords deserved.

    Fourteen’s hands were pressed onto his temples as his mind reeled. Mazkertis too strained, sweat beading on his face and dropping to the ground below. Sachiel noted the suffering, and began to feel something tugging at him.

    What do I gain from this? he asked himself. If I let him die, will I have done justice, or would I become just like him, satisfied at suffering?
    In the midst of Sachiel’s contemplation, Calm leaped upwards and grabbed onto the ledge. He pulled himself up and charged at Mazkertis. The wizard’s mental hold was broken as he was tackled by Calm.

    Fourteen fell to the floor, his eyes blank. He slowly drifted into unconsciousness with a tattered mind.

    Calm and Mazkertis brawled on the floor, until Calm blasted him away with his powers. The wizard crashed into another building, and made a growling sound. He threw a fireball at Calm, but the monk flipped out of its path. Calm was about to summon his stand, when Mazkertis flicked his wrists. Time reversed, and Calm found himself in the path of the fireball once more. It slammed onto him, and singed his skin.

    Mazkertis smiled victoriously. Suddenly, he felt the crystalline pangs of ice pierce his back as torrential chilled water slammed into him. He fell into an alley, and Sachiel attempted to drown the wizard with his powers. Mazkertis struggled, but it appeared that he would soon succumb to the magical waters. There was only one way he could escape.

    The water suddenly slammed to the floor. Mazkertis had absorbed all magic within it, rendering it useless to Sachiel. The wizard coughed, slowly regaining his composure. Sachiel leaped down to the alleys and charged at him. Mazkertis summoned a shadow hand that grabbed the medic, and slammed him onto the ground. It did this several times, until a bullet from a P90 broke through some of Mazkertis’s robes. He stopped, and looked to John Sheppard, who was pointing the gun straight at his head.

    “Surrender now!” yelled Sheppard, breaking the silence.

    Mazkertis grimaced. Sheppard felt something entering into his mind as a cold chill ran through whatever he would call a spine.

    No,” said a voice in Sheppard’s mind. He immediately knew that this voice belonged to Mazkertis.

    An alarm rang throughout the city, for Liquid Metallicon was under attack.

    --

    Akzer woke up, having been knocked out by a spell for a few minutes. He immediately knew what had transpired to cause such a slumber. He had stopped the Red Lady’s dragon blood shipment, and endangered the life of the dealer. Her assistant Ophelia attempted to cover their tracks by trying to put him to sleep. What she had not known was that he had been trained by Caiaphus to resist spells in another life. As such, what would normally cause a deep sleep actually would only cause him to be unconscious for a few minutes.

    He was about to attempt to pursue Lady Thorne when the alert alarm’s shrill screaming pierced into his ears. His attempt to climb up the Pirate Lord ladder would have to wait. Akzer hopped on a nearby speeder bike, and drove away.

    Meanwhile, Lady Thorne and Ophelia were hurriedly making their way to the slums. They had sensed something, an unsettling power, manifesting itself in that area. Once they had arrived, they saw Sheppard being knocked away by a shadow blast. Mazkertis emerged, and turned his head towards Valentine, his red eyes glowing with rage.

    Ophelia quickly rushed over to him to protect Lady Thorne. Her fangs emerged, and she leaped onto Mazkertis, biting him in the shoulder. Mazkertis wailed, and began to punch the face of the vampiress. He slammed his side into a wall, hoping to injure Valentine. Her jaw was still snatched onto his shoulder. Mazkertis slapped his hand onto her eye, and summoned a blast of light. Ophelia screamed, and released the wizard. She slumped to the ground, grabbing her face in pain.

    Mazkertis healed his shoulder, halting the spread of the vampiric venom that threatened to course through his veins. Cassandra, horrified at what had happened to Valentine, grabbed for her pistol. She fired her weapon several times at Mazkertis, but kept missing. The wizard was about to throw a lightning bolt at her when the blood on his face suddenly appeared to hover. He was then lifted upward, feeling himself be controlled by another force.

    Thorne had gone for the last resort: bloodbending. Cassandra manipulated Mazkertis' blood to turn him around, suspending him in mid-air. His eyes gazed at her in anxiety.

    “It’s over, Mazkertis,” said Calm, approaching the battle with a burned shoulder. Sachiel and John Sheppard joined him, each with their own injuries. “Your onslaught of terror ends here. Face judgment!”

    Calm prepared to use his stand on Mazkertis, hoping that it would work this time. It had to. The wizard was pinned, and there was no way he would be able to escape.

    Suddenly, an explosion of energy blasted everyone back. Mazkertis had been freed, and he began to run with incredible speed. First, to Sachiel, whom he dispatched with several kicks; then to John Sheppard, whose P90 was demolished by the wizard’s fist. The next target was Cassandra, who struggled against Mazkertis in a fistfight. The wizard gained the upper hand, however, and brought her down to the floor. Lady Ophelia Valentine could not see Mazkertis, and had fallen unconscious because of the blast. The only one left was Cassius Calm.

    Mazkertis stood in front of the monk and smiled at his tenacity.

    Your abilities are admirable,” he said, telepathically, “As is your attitude. But you must know that I am here to bring justice to the multiverse. Stand aside!

    “Never!” shouted Calm.  “I SUMMON THEE, NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PA-“

    Mazkertis angrily flung a bolt of shadow energy at Calm, interrupting the summoning of the monk’s stand. Exhaustion began to overcome the wizard. He needed rest. He had just been through two battles with barely any time to recuperate in the interim. A portal opened, and Mazkertis disappeared.

    The injured Cassius Calm stood up and looked around. The slums had been ravaged by the battle, and many bystanders were injured. Sachiel, Cassandra, and Lady Valentine all slowly rose up with wounds gaping. Sheppard noted the damage his own body took, and silently cursed. This was a close one, he thought to himself,  I have to avoid close calls.

    A skiff arrived carrying Pirate Lords Ozar and Akzer, along with several henchmen. The former had just finished making a deal with an individual calling himself “Von Ness” when he heard the alarm. He had no idea where the crisis was occurring until Akzer had informed him. They met with each other and quickly made their way to the slums, but they were too late.

    “What happened?!” shouted Akzer. “I sensed a kind of darkness I’ve never seen before.”

    “Mazkertis,” said Calm. Cassandra ignored Ozar and Akzer as she went to Valentine, attempting to console the Red Lady. Sachiel said nothing.

    “What is a Mazkertis? And Fourteen! Where’s Fourteen?” asked Ozar, in a panic. “He said he would be here. Where is he?”

    John Sheppard pointed to a nearby shack. The other pirates surrounded the area, aiming their guns around to ensure that everything was secure. Meanwhile, impoverished Liquid Metalliconites were suffering. Sachiel silently made his way to some of them, ignoring his own pain to tend to their wounds.

    Ozar burst into the shack, madly searching for his loyal ally and friend. He saw Fourteen on the floor, unconscious. Ozar desperately attempted to wake him up.

    “Fourteen….FOURTEEN! FOURTEEN!” he shouted. The nearby pirates saw a look on their master’s face that they had never seen before. Sure, they knew what an angry Ozar looked like, what a happy Ozar looked like, and what a disappointed Ozar looked like. But now they saw something they thought impossible: a despondent Ozar, sobbing.

    “He must be in a coma,” said Akzer as he entered somberly. The Red Lady helped the still blinded Ophelia walk towards the commotion.

    Meanwhile, Cassius surveyed the destruction. He was astonished that one madman, just one, had caused such devastation.  He looked to the skies, and whispered to himself.

    “I will find you, wizard,” he said. “Justice will triumph.”

    --

    On the distant planet of Luria, Gabriel Ascheron sat on his throne, twirling his glass of wine. He groaned impatiently, and threw it on the wall, nearly hitting a nearby guard.

    “WHERE IS HE?” he bellowed in rage. The guard stuttered, attempting to produce a response. However, his efforts were cut short by another wineglass nearing his leg. He jumped out of the way, and became silent.

    “I am growing impatient with the incompetence of those that surround me,” yelled Ascheron.

    Suddenly, a black orb appeared, and out of it emerged Mazkertis. The mage collapsed, the blood of his fresh injuries dripping onto the freshly cleaned floor of Ascheron’s palace. The guard that stuttered attempted to attack Mazkertis, but he was telekinetically repelled into the wall.

    “You,” said Ascheron in rage. “You abandoned me on that wretched planet, and now you dare stain my FLOOR! THE FLOOR OF LURIA MUST ONLY BE DRENCHED IN THE BLOOD OF ITS WARRIORS! ARE YOU ONE OF ITS WARRIORS?!”

    I left you because I knew you could handle yourself,” responded Mazkertis telepathically. “All great warriors can. But I come here not simply to rest and mend to my tattered cloak and mask. I come to solidify our alliance. You have your armies and I have my power. Together, we will remove that pretender of a magician Malygos, the vile Makutas Ynot and Blackout, the Red Lantern Perseus, and all of their miserable allies. Your people will have your vengeance against all who have wronged them, and I will save our realities from the scourge of the Klaks. Revenge is ours! Together, as allies, we will set right what once went wrong!

    Mazkertis stood up, and looked Ascheron straight in the eye. He raised his arm up in the Lurian salute.

    For the preservation of the ideals of Luria! said the mind of Mazkertis.

    Ascheron pursed his lips, and silently stared at Mazkertis. Silence began to fall across the palace. The leader stood from his throne, and returned the salute.

    “Sieg Luria,” said Ascheron.


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    Kon
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Kon on Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:06 pm

    Chapter 3: Freedom

    Kakamu got to his feet and swung a fist at Monarch, intending to charge it with shattering power, but his fist hit the back of his opponent's helmet as nothing more than cold, powerless biometal. Kakamu cursed and was struck in the chest by Monarch's elbow, whose suit was made of a material twice as strong. The impact sent Kakamu flying across the room and slamming into the smooth, black wall behind him.

    "Down." Monarch commanded him, but Kakamu wasn't going to give up that easily, even without his powers. He got to his feet and charged at his captor, who swung his fist, hoping to cause an intense vibration with a punch that would shake Kakamu's body apart. To his surprise, Kakamu predicted this, and slid underneath the punch to grab onto Monarch's leg. From there, he swung around onto his back, and dug his fingers underneath his helmet in a bid to remove it. Kakamu felt air escape from the helmet as he pulled it off, and wasted no time in throwing it across the room. Monarch reached behind his back, grabbed Kakamu and slammed him onto the ground in front of him. Temporarily stunned by the vibration, the ex-Makuta closed his eyes, anticipating another attack... but moments passed, and none came. He hesitantly opened his eyes to see his opponent's face - a human face - gasp and struggle for breath.

    "The mighty Monarch... you're just a man in a metal suit." Kakamu said slowly, rising as the man fell on his back, gasping some more. "A man who needs to breathe air to survive. You know, if you hadn't turned on whatever unseen technology it is that takes my powers away, I would be able to conjure some up for you right now."

    Monarch - or the man inside him - shot Kakamu a filthy look. He mouthed the words "Too bad" as his eyes rolled back and head hit the ground. Kakamu checked his pulse to see if he was still alive... he wasn't... and banged his fist on the ground in frustration. He had hoped he would have at least been able to get information from Monarch before killing him, such as why he had abducted him in the first place... but he already had a pretty good idea. After all, this wasn't the first time this had happened to him... not at all.

    Kakamu was now alone. He walked over to the concave window that overlooked one of the many metal cliffs he had seen on his way there, and sat on the chair in front of it. Mechanical arms picked up several prisoner pods attached to the cliff, and placed them on the railing which they travelled along to somewhere else. He had already seen thousands of these pods... so whatever version of Monarch he had just killed was more successful than the Monarch that had abducted him over fifty thousand years ago. He closed his eyes and began to meditate, allowing the memories of Year 100,079 back into his conscious mind.

    Ah, 100,079. He was a Makuta back then, working for Blackout of all people... until he was beamed out of his laboratory on Nynrah by a mad scientist named Monarch. Monarch trapped him in a stasis pod and gave him a lecture about how he would be one of his proud warriors, serving in an army that would dominate the universe. He wasn't there long before Blackout noticed he was missing, followed the teleportation signature and crashed the ship he was being held on. Kakamu focused harder... not on Monarch's appearance, but on his voice. He sounded human... something which he had not noticed before... but different from the Monarch he had just killed.

    "So what, there's a whole clan of Monarchs with power-suits who want to build armies out of random people?" Kakamu thought to himself. His attention snapped back to reality upon sensing a door open behind him, and a familiar voice echoing in his mind in the present day.

    "There's plenty of everyone if you travel far enough."

    Kakamu stood up and looked around. He could hear his own voice in his mind, but speaking words he had never spoke. He pressed his hands to his head in agony, and his vision began to distort. The already dark room darkened even further, and a shadow slithered along the floor towards him. Kakamu fell to his knees as the shadow approached him. Stopping at his knees, it then began to rise up off the ground as black fog.

    "I have journeyed beyond the limits of reality... past the borders that have been defined for us. I have seen what must not be seen. I have entered the realm of the gods. What have you acheieved?"

    "Get out... of my head... and maybe we can talk." Kakamu thought, but the voice continued to speak.

    "There is no need for air in my domain, nor is there need for sound. Your mind is the only place we can... talk... unless you would enter mine. I doubt you would want that. You cannot die, Kakamu, but just how many atrocities could you bear before you went insane?"

    "Who the hell are you?!"

    "I am what you became, in another place. A place of endless violence, an area of continual contention. Like your friend Blackout, I had to adapt to survive, whether he realizes it or not. Adaption is a part of his nature, as it is a part of mine."

    "You're... me?"

    "In a manner of speaking. In my reality, you would have been beaten so far into the ground you would have forgotten the taste of air long ago. Your... morals... would have ensured your defeat. Our creator made us immortal... but immortality does not prevent pain. It does, in fact, encourage it."

    A loud, sharp, gasp for air turned Kakamu's attention back to the room he was in. Monarch's body shook, and he rolled over, with life being restored to his eyes. The voice in Kakamu's head continued with a sombre tone as he looked on with amazement.

    "...like so. Poor Adam will reflect upon this curse as he suffocates again and again.. the price to pay for letting his guard down in the most important room in this dimension. Will you show him mercy and return his helmet, only to have him beat you with his fists until your body collapses into liquid?"

    Kakamu's own fists clenched as he observed Monarch, or Adam as the voice called him, crawl across the floor towards his helmet before giving up and dying again only a few metres away.

    "Not yet. I have some questions that need answering."

    "Don't we all?"

    "Why am I here? To be brainwashed and inducted into an army like the last time I was kidnapped and Monarch was involved?"

    "Oh no, nothing as exciting as that."

    "Then what?"

    "You're bait."

    "For who?"

    The black fog slammed itself into Kakamu's face, and he was thrust back into the chair. A picture of someone he had never seen before slowly began to form in his mind. A relatively short figure with a golden, Hau-esque mask but human face underneath. A grey coat with a yellow pencil in the chest pocket. Toa-esque armour beneath the coat, and metal supports covering the legs.

    "Do you know him?" The voice asked solemnly. It did not receive a response, so it continued. "He is our creator. He guides us on paths we cannot see, uses us to navigate this plethora of worlds. He was there at the creation of the universe, and has been a part of your life since the very beginning."

    "You're telling me I'm looking at... God?"

    "No, not God, but he thinks himself as such. Able to enter and exit this universe whenever he wants, elevate the ones he likes, condemn the ones he doesn't. He and his hateful kin... the Users."

    "That's ENOUGH!" A third voice bellowed. The black smoke immediately withdrew from Kakamu and back into the room in front of him. Behind it stood the figure seen in Kakamu's mind... the "User". A sinister smile formed in the smoke as it faced him.

    "It worked..."

    "Stop this, Dukamu." The User ordered. "Kakamu has nothing to do with you."

    "Oh, but he has everything to do with you... you and your favoured world. Perhaps if I had Monarch abduct him earlier and hide him somewhere he would've never been found, I would have been your favourite instead, and you wouldn't have turned my world into your own little hell experiment."

    "Good must be balanced with evil. You know that."

    "There's nothing good about my world. Not since YOU arrived... User Kon." Kon gasped. "Yes, I know your name."

    "Because of the darkness of your world, heaven can exist above it!" Kon interjected. "As we speak, right now, billions of people on top of your universe are living who are incapable of evil! It's beautiful! Just as things were before the Fruit of Life was taken! If only you could see it, you would understand the sacrifice you had to make for that kind of harmony to exist!"

    "And what sacrifices have you made along the road, Kon?"

    User Kon stammered. "I..."

    "As I thought."

    He put his hands over his mask in shame. "It was never supposed to end like this. I never intended anyone to be hurt. You were just code! Letters and numbers on a computer screen!"

    "You're a man playing god... and I'm going to stop you. I've had to kill to survive, but you've killed to satisfy your own curiosity."

    Kakamu stood up, only beginning to comprehend the depth of the conversation he was witnessing. "Excuse me, what the hell is going on?"

    The smoke between Kon and Kakamu began to swirl upwards and solidify into metal. An intricately-designed torso formed in mid-space, with two large swords attached to either side. The arms and legs followed, with Dukamu's head and helmet forming last. When he stood complete, he turned to Kakamu. Their eyes met for the first, and last, time.

    "Thank you, Kakamu. You've helped draw my enemy here... and now I'm going to set you free."

    With that said, Dukamu drew his swords and charged at Kon, who stretched out the palm of his hand towards Kakamu, and shot some kind of energy at him. His vision was engulfed in a bright light and he found himself falling... falling... falling through space.

    After what seemed like minutes, but could have been much more, Kakamu hit the ground on his back. When he opened his eyes, he saw birds swirl in the sky above him, singing harmonously to each other. Grass surrounded him from all sides. Groaning, he stood up and looked around. A white church lay in the center of his vision, with the tents he and his friends slept in last night to the right of it. Malchior IV's sun was setting on the horizon, casting a shadow over the fields that approached the church. Kakamu had certainly been given a lot to think about, but he knew that, Users or no Users, he was happy with his life. He was happy with his universe, and good and evil aside, nobody was going to change it.

    "If God is fighting change right now, then I must do the same." He muttered to himself as he looked up at the sky again. "Change... of course... Mazkertis! I have to help them!"

    Without a word, Kakamu turned and ran across the field, away from the looming darkness of night. Using every bit of willpower in his body, he increased his power of energy absorpsion to another level, using it to absorb both sunlight and air. Before coming to the end of the field, he used his newly regained power over air to lift himself off the ground and into the sky.


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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Kon on Sun Apr 26, 2015 1:08 am

    Chapter 4: Homeward Bound

    A shooting star fell in the night sky of a condemned world... well, it used to be a world. What is now classified as "XTR-686" by the Galactic Government was once home to a noble sapient species full of potential, but that doesn't matter now. After the cleansing, it is little more than a graveyard, but with nobody left to honour the dead.

    "What better place could there be to build a portal to the Dark Universe?" Shattered Mirror Kakamu thought as he soared beneath the stratosphere of the planet, scanning the surface for the ghostly green glow of the portal. After hours of searching, he finally saw it, held between two rocks out of the corner of his vision. He smiled, and moved to intercept, but his smile faded as soon as he saw the bodies. Two white and blue corpses lay strewn across the rocky ground in front of the portal, so he touched down next to them to investigate.

    The first corpse was fully intact, but the second was in pieces, with some parts missing. SMK took note of the corrosive burns on all sides of the piece of torso he picked up, meaning that whoever this was had most likely been blasted apart by a large energy weapon. The word "Luux" was engraved into a piece of armour nearby. SMK took this to be his name.

    Just as SMK stepped over Luux's remains to inspect those of his partner, an idea hit him.

    "What if these corpses were people who accessed this universe from a universe that wasn't so... dark?" he thought. They don't look like the type to ally themselves with Monarch or Dukamu, and the portal in the Dark Universe must be extremely heavily guarded. Maybe... just maybe... I can go home from here.

    SMK spun around and teleported in front of the control panel that was connected to the portal via a series of long cables. He immediately turned it on and brought up the last set of co-ordinates that the portal led to: 733:1678-2419-8842.1. While he had no idea what universe "733" was supposed to represent, he knew that it wasn't the DU or the SMU. That had to be amended. He deactivated the portal by slamming his fist on the reset button, and started inputting the co-ordinates that would lead to his universe's Destral. Once done, he pressed the activation button, electricity surged along the wires to the portal, but... nothing happened. Confused, SMK tried again, but still there was nothing. This could only mean one thing: Destral had fallen.

    The Makuta cursed, and took his anger out on a nearby rock with his Shattering power. He took a deep breath of thin air and went back to the control panel. This time he typed the co-ordinates for Metru-Nui, pressed the activation button, and again nothing happened.

    "I swear, if the only planet left is Vassilan, I'll kill them all." he muttered, while entering the co-ordinates to Aluic-3, the location of a secret Brotherhood fortress. He pressed "activate" for the third time, and to his surprise, the portal lit up and a plume of energy short forth before collapsing back into place to form a perfect event horizon. SMK beamed, and wandered away from the control panel to get a closer look at the portal that led back to his home universe - not home exactly, but about as close as he would get. He held his right hand over the surface of the portal, letting the ripples of energy engulf it for a moment before pulling it back out. As much as he would love to return to his beautiful, but dying, universe, he would not return alone. No... he would step through this portal along with every unfortunate soul that had accompanied him through the Shattered Mirror on his misguided attempt to conquer this universe all those years ago.

    "But how to contact them?" He thought. "My brothers and sisters are scattered far and wide, living in the shadows of their counterparts. There is no common ground they live on, no single place I can send a message to without it being read by those who would oppress us."

    SMK turned around, stepped back over Luux's remains and sat himself on a rock. He remained there for some time, not once thinking to disconnect the portal; though he did find it odd that nobody had come through from the other side. Perhaps they were all asleep, or had died due to plague or fluff?

    After several hours, SMK finally came up with a solution to his problems. When he was taken by Starok to his base underneath Stelta-Stal, he remembered detecting some kind of thought-projection device that was mounted on the walls, as well as some smaller ones hidden inside their armour that allowed them to communicate long-distance. If he could get his hands on one of them, or even interface with the device in the base (assuming it still exists following the attack), he could send a message to everyone from his universe, and invite them to join him on XTR-686 to return home.

    SMK knelt down and picked up a white-coloured laser rifle, still being held by Luux's disembodied hand. He grimaced, plucked the hand off and activated the rifle himself. It sprung into life with a very satisfying whirring noise. He then demonstrated it on a nearby rock, which was blown to pieces.

    "Time to go."

    Using his teleportation Kraata power, SMK vanished with a bright flash of blue light.

    -----------------

    SMK reappeared in the smouldering brickwork of Stelta-Stal, his coming heralded by the same flash of light as before. Fortunately for him, it seemed that no enemy Makuta were around to see it. Looking around, he realized that he was in the hall he was in just a few days ago when it was filled with Rahkshi ready for war. But then a traitor gave up their location... what was his name? Kulnak?

    SMK had only made his way halfway across the hall when he felt the ground rumble beneath him. He barely had time to turn around when he was pelted across the room by a giant mechanical foot. He crashed straight through the wall at the end of the hall, slumping over from shock and allowing himself to be buried in rubble. The behemoth to which the foot belonged stepped out of the shadows, revealing itself to be a bizarre, titanic fusion of countless Rahkshi parts. Opening its segmented mouth, it screeched at the rubble and and advanced upon him. However, when it picked up the two largest pieces of rubble on top of him with its mighty hands, it found nothing underneath. At the same time, SMK appeared on top of its shoulder, grew a blade out of his arm and stabbed it into its neck. The Rahkshi-Nui roared and lifted up a hand to grab him, but he destroyed it fingers with blasts of shattering power before melting its hand into a stump with plasma. While he was distracted, the monster grabbed him with his other arm and slammed him into the ground. The Rahkshi-Nui let go of him for a moment, but only to raise both its fists together in preparation for a crushing attack. SMK shielded his face with his arms and braced himself for the impact by increasing the density of his body, but then-

    "Wait." A voice spoke from another room. "Let me hear his side of the story."

    The Rahkshi-Nui gave an annoyed grunt and backed away from SMK, who opened his eyes to see the figure to whom the voice belonged. To his surprise, Kivalon stepped into the hall, but judging by the look on his mask, he wasn't happy to see him. The Makuta's armour had been badly damaged during the attack on the fortress, and he had run out of solid antidermis with which to make more. SMK got to his feet, and Kivalon approached him with a glare.

    "You abandoned us."

    "Oh come on!" SMK protested. "You saw what we were up against. Starok was insane to think that we could take down the leader of the Brotherhood's flagship with only a handful of warriors and a small legion of Rahkshi. It's Kulnak you should be blaming, not me."

    Kivalon nodded as he paced around the room. "I already sent him a message concerning his imminent painful death. Not sure he received it."

    "A message? How?"

    Kivalon paused. He wasn't expecting SMK to ask that question, though in hindsight, he probably should have.

    SMK continued. "I know what that huge circular machine in Starok's throne room does, as well as the miniature versions you keep inside your armour. It's a giant thought transmitter. Brotherhood scientists were working on it back in my universe... I suppose over there, they didn't defect like they did here."

    "Good for you."

    "Yeah. Now get out of my way."

    SMK stepped towards the throne room, but Kivalon raised a hand signalling him to stop. "What do you need it for?" he asked.

    "Well, if you must know, I'm going to use it to invite every single person from my universe to return home."

    "Return home? How?"

    "Through your brother's portal. I changed the co-ordinates. Nobody noticed."

    SMK pushed past a shocked Kivalon and walked into the throne room. Sure enough, the thought transmitter was mounted on the wall just like it always had been.

    "Wait!" Kivalon shouted. "Just how many of your people are there?"

    "Tens, hundreds, depending on who survived." SMK replied, tapping on the side of his head. "Good thing I kept a record."

    "And they all pledged their allegiance to you?"

    "In a manner of speaking."

    "Then why leave? Summon them to the portal and change the destination to the UG! We could find Dukamu's sleeping army and... kill... them all..."

    SMK's eye twitched, and he turned back to Kivalon with an angered expression. "What did you say?"

    "Kill them all."

    "They're innocents!"

    "Since when did you care about the lives of innocents? From what I have read, you started a slaughter the moment you entered this universe. Why else do you think I attacked you the moment I saw you?"

    "You attacked me because you thought I was your brother. I'm nothing like that bastard... many things changed after I died."

    "So now you're a hero? Is that it?"

    "I'm a hero to my people. That's all that matters."

    "Maybe to you."

    "Don't you dare lecture me about morality when you just suggested we commit genocide."

    "Killing thousands to save trillions seems like a fair deal to me. Plus, they won't be innocents for long. Not when Monarch finishes his-"

    "You know what? Do it yourself. But first, I'm getting me and my people out of this mess."

    SMK turned back towards the thought projector, but Kivalon put his hand on his shoulder to drag him away. SMK threw it off and swivelled around, punching Kivalon in the face. The Makuta was momentarily stunned by the attack, giving SMK the window of opportunity to blast him into the wall with chain lightning. SMK was about to return his attention to the device, but before he did he noticed where Kivalon had landed. To the right of him was a large stasis chamber, the same one that Ordak had used during the Uterio War. SMK picked the burnt and battered Kivalon up, shoved him into the stasis chamber and punched the button that turned it on.

    "Good riddance." SMK muttered, and then went over to the thought projector for the last time. Having used one before back on his home planet, he operated it with ease, sending out a telepathic summons to every known Shattered Mirror native in the universe. He smiled, and teleported away just as the Rahkshi-Nui burst through the wall to check on its master.

    -----------------

    Three days later, SMK returned to XTR-686, hoping that others would arrive to meet him there as requested. However, something was different. The portal he had left open to the SMU had been deactivated in his absence. Because it could not have been deactivated from the other side, SMK suspected that someone else had recently returned to the planet to use the portal... but whoever it was had not buried the bodies of Luux and his companion. Not wanting to disturb his kin by leaving them out in the open - although, most of them would probably prefer it - SMK buried Luux and his companion Marlon next to the portal and marked their graves with rocks.

    Mere moments after burying them, he heard the sound of jet engines approach, and looked up to see a blocky ship approach that looked like it had been built out of old cars. The ship touched down in front of SMK, and he put his hands on his hips as the ship's landing pad extended onto the ground. A set of five strange figures, all wearing spacesuits due to the planet's air-thin atmosphere, walked down to meet him. Their leader was an African-American-looking man with an ash-grey complexion and dreadlocks that obscured his eyes.

    "Nice to have you with us, Shroom." SMK said with a smile, extending his hand. Shroom did not take it, but returned the smile nonetheless.


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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Kon on Sat May 23, 2015 11:29 am

    Chapter 5: Power Play

    Far away on the Stouttish Islands, a very different kind of battle was taking place. The islands were in the process of being swept by a police force hailing from Earth, who had made it clear that they would stop at nothing to locate and capture their target, Ross Mandell. Despite Mandell being taken into space by members of the Co-operative weeks ago, the islands' inhabitants have refused to inform the police of his departure, viewing their "scan first, ask questions later" mission tactic as a hostile act. Of course, the sweep would stop if the natives stopped agressively defending their streets from the police's search parties, or even told one of them that Mandell was long gone, but then again, the Stouttish aren't exactly known for their intellect, now are they?

    Danny, aka the "Tourettes Guy", was the first to be chased by the NYPD's flying cars, thanks to his colourful response to their automatic entrance broadcast by phone. For better or worse, he had found himself an unlikely saviour: an overweight man named Chris. Chris had Asved Danny from life imprisonment with his fists and trusty pepper spray just minutes earlier, leaving the unfortunate police officer unconscious on the curb. Danny looked between Chris and the officer with an angered expression, with his gaze eventually resting on Chris.

    "So who the hell are you?" Danny asked in his usual, gruff voice.

    Chris's avoided Danny's gaze, staring past him into the distance. "We've got to find a way to defend ourselves. We leave everything behind. We do what it takes to survive, things we can't even imagine. You can't trust your phone. You can't trust your family. Remember: they're gonna come for us, and when that day comes, we have to be ready. You must be afraid, but-"

    "I'M NOT AFRAID OF SHIT! ...except snakes. Just tell me where to go so I can... FUCK off outta here!" Danny shouted in response. Chris furrowed his brow, and a frown spread across his face.

    "You must stick to the Shadows... or you will get Scanned, or captured, or all three!" Chris spluttered. "There is only one place you can go if you truly want to escape from these... these CAPITALIST PIGDOGS! You already know its name..."

    Danny absent-mindedly started picking glass out of his neck brace. "I know a lotta names."

    "Pen Island."

    "ARE YOU SHITTING ME?!"

    "No I would never do that."

    "FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!" Danny screamed. Chris worriedly reached for his pepper-spray as the tourettes sufferer stamped his feet and shook his fists at the sky. "YOU COCKSUCKERRRR!"

    Suddenly, a police siren blared from across the street, which signalled another approaching car. Chris initially assumed that the police had been alerted to their location by Danny's screaming, but then someone wearing an astronaut costume came into view running down the street, away from the car. The astronaut's escape was obviously being hindered by his bulky costume, but he seemed unwilling to take it off. The astronaut finally collapsed of exhaustion when he reached the alleyway entrance that Danny and Chris were hiding in, and the floating police car parked over his legs. Two officers stepped out, dragged him out from under the car and propped him up against the side.

    "Alright, spaceman," One of the officers began, "Why'd you run? We just wanted to make sure you weren't a wanted criminal."

    They could hear nothing but heavy breathing sounds from the spacesuit, until the astronaut finally spoke. "Ae... aeiou..."

    "The hell is that?" The other policeman said. "Is that your name, huh?"

    "Sounds like Chewbacca after a sex change." Danny muttered nearby. Chris clapped his dirty, sweaty hand over Danny's mouth in an effort to stop him from talking, but that only caused him to wriggle free in disgust. "UUUGH, JESUS! When was the last time you washed your hands?!" Danny spat. One of the policemen instantly looked up and shone a torch in the shadowed alley, revealing Chris and his foul-mouthed companion.

    "OVER THERE!" The policeman shouted, pulled out his baton and ran towards them.

    "OH BOB SAGET!" Danny screamed as he ran away. Chris pulled out his pepper spray and prepared to fire, but the policeman whacked it out of his hand with his baton and then struck him across the face. While he handcuffed a dazed Chris, his colleague ran after Danny and tackled him to the ground. "You'll never get away with this!" Danny bellowed as he was handcuffed and led back to the car. When he and Chris were strapped into the back, along with the astronaut, the two policemen in the front discussed their options.

    "Well, the back of the car's full." The first one mumbled while eating a doughnut. "No more room for prisoners, which means I guess we're done here."

    The second nodded in agreement, and looked over his shoulder to see a furious Danny strapped in the middle seat, between Chris and the astronaut. "Just look at these guys. What the hell happened to them?"

    "Rumour has it that there's an ambient energy 'round these parts. A "HahaJ'UsT-Seying" energy, that exaggerates the wacky characteristics of... well, hell if I know. I think a Dr. Bedge wrote a book about it once."

    "Huh. Weird. Kinda sad though. I wonder what'll happen to them now they're in our hands."

    "We'll take them back to HQ and hand them over to the legal team, where they'll get all the help they need."

    "I hope so, man. I hope so."

    The first officer restarted the engine, turned the car around, and pressed his foot against the pedal. When it was halfway down the street, it lifted off the ground and flew into the sky. Moments passed until they reached the portal that they came through, and disappeared through it to New York.

    ----------------------------------

    On the planet Linkit, a wizened figure climbed through the wreckage of the Lambda-class shuttle he had crashed in. His ears were ringing from the sound of the explosion, and when he took his hand off his head, he saw blood on his fingertips. The figure picked up his robe, and examined it for rips, but surprisingly, it was all still in one piece. The figure put his robe back on and climbed into the cockpit. His pilot was dead with a shard of glass through his skull, and the control panel had been crushed against Linkit's rocky surface. The figure let out a shriek of anger, and raised his wrinkled, grey fingers towards what remained of the windscreen. Lightning erupted from his fingertips and the windscreen shattered, allowing him to climb out onto the planet's surface. When the ringing in his ears stopped, he heard chants up above, presumably from whoever shot him down.

    "Rrrrrebel scum... they will pay for their insolence!" The figure croaked, and climbed up the rocky wall at the edge of the crater his ship landed in. He had suffered a pretty hard blow to the head, but he still remembered who he was: Sheev Palpatine, or at least a clone of the original, both masters of the dark side of the Force. And now, while he could be amassing his new empire in other parts of the galaxy, he was stranded on this miserable rock with no immediate means of escape.

    When he arrived at the top of the crater, something incredible came into view. A pale sea of clear water, surrounded by alien workers at all sides. Underneath the surface was what appeared to be a gigantic chute attached to an ancient, rune-covered portal. The first row of workers on the shore raised their tools and chanted "LEVIATHAN! LEVIATHAN! LEVIATHAN!"

    Sheev sat down on a nearby rock and watched with intense concentration. He observed that there were members of two species below; the slightly smaller, blue-skinned aliens with tools and the taller, greener fishmen with fins and tridents. Both chanted the word "Leviathan" in harmony, completely focused on the portal in the sea. Suddenly, a plume of energy burst forth from the center of the portal, before receding to fill the stone circle. A few moments passed, and the head of a gigantic primordial sea creature emerged. It looked around, and its expression changed from one of sternness to satisfaction when it saw the walls of the chute, and its loyal worshippers up above. Leviathan, Lord of the Whorl, swam through the chute in its entirety and burst out of the water at the end. The aliens marvelled at his full form, but only glimpsed it for a moment before the creature fell back into the water, with only his reptilian head remaining above the surface. His worshippers knelt on all sides of the sea, and Leviathan smiled smugly at his subjects.

    One of the green-skinned aliens walked up a stone podium overlooking the sea. He wore golden armour and a large hat that had several precious jewels in it, so Sheev assumed he must be a priest of some sort.

    The 'priest' spoke. "Welcome Leviathan, Lord of the Whorl and saviour of the Sahagin, to your new colony on Linkit."

    Leviathan turned to face him, gazing upon the Sahagin, who was tiny in comparison, with his piercing red eyes. "Yesss... these others around you must be the Agrippa. The most recent converts to our empire. You have chosen well. Now rise."

    The Sahagin and Agrippa followed Leviathan's orders and got to their feet. However, Sheev could sense that something was wrong. His mastery of the dark side of the Force allowed him to sense emotions, especially negative ones, and right now he sensed fear. The Agrippa feared Leviathan and by extension, his Sahagin underlings. Sheev put the pieces together in his mind - a struggling, malnourished species living on a desolate planet had recently submitted themselves to a gigantic, alien sea monster. As stated by said sea monster, the Agrippa had only just joined his empire, which further reinforces the assumption that they are desperate to survive. The Sahagin didn't strike Sheev as charity workers, and neither did their master. When you add that to the fact that the Agrippa are afraid, the idea that Leviathan rules through fear seems ever-more likely.

    "Well... I have some experience there." Sheev thought. Mustering all of his power and faith in the Force, the Sith Lord stretched his arms towards the sky, and the weather itself began to change. Clouds filled the night sky and lightning struck the sea, electrifying the water. Leviathan screeched in pain, writhing around and splashing towards shore. The hordes of Agrippa and Sahagin that were standing on the shore ran away from their god, hoping not to be crushed by his gigantic form as he writhed up the beach. Once clear of the water, Leviathan glared towards the sky, his eyes glowing redder than ever. The priest approached Leviathan's form and raised his hands.

    "A thousand apologies, my lord!" The priest began. "We had no knowledge of this... freak weather when we settled!"

    Leviathan screeched again, and with a whip of his tail, smacked the priest into the sea. The as-of-yet unseen Sheev used the Force once again to amplify his voice, and levitate above the mountain.

    "Do not blame your servants for your own foolishness!" Sheev's voice echoed throughout the valley, gaining the attention of everyone present.

    "Who dares speak against me?" Leviathan hissed as he turned to face Sheev. The Force-wielding clone cackled, and more lightning struck the ground behind him, illuminating him to the Sahagin and Agrippa below.

    "I AM SHEEV PALPATINE!" He cried. "The people of this world will serve you no longer! Instead, they will be a part of my new empire! They will work for food, and purpose, and a greater, united future, instead of only the right to survive!"

    Leviathan's eyes narrowed, and his mouth spread into a smile, revealing a row of thin, razer-sharp teeth. "Is that so?"

    Leviathan whipped his tail against the sea, sending water in Sheev's direction. The Sith Lord was about to laugh, and mock Leviathan for trying to splash him as if they were in a water park, but then he noticed that the water was floating in mid-air. The water came together to form a large sphere, still suspended in mid-air and never once leaving Leviathan's line of sight. Leviathan muttered something under his breath, and suddenly the sphere shot forward and encased Sheev in it completely. His control over the weather and his own levitation was broken along with his concentration, and Sheev found himself unable to regain control while he was trapped in this water sphere, the insides of which were thrashing at him from every angle. He tried to scream, but his mouth only filled with water. He tried to manifest another lightning storm to break his opponent's concentration, but all that resulted of it is the sphere becoming electrified, causing his skin to burn. After a minute or so of this, Leviathan sensed Sheev's heart stop beating, so he dissipated the sphere. Sheev's body fell on the rocks and the water ran over his corpse. Leviathan's followers observed this in stunned silence, and although the serpent-god couldn't hear it, he knew that there was now less chance of his servants disobeying him than ever before.

    ----------------------------------

    Koranis felt metal fingertips stroke his cheek, and then gently slap it. The ex-king of the island Nynrah groaned, and reluctantly opened his eyes. He saw alien birds circle in the sky above him before the face of a Great Being came into view. The face was bronze-coloured and feminine, with an elaborate all-in-one tiara and hairpiece. The Great Being gave a knowing smile, and Koranis crawled away from her in surprise.

    "Who are you? How did I... get here?" He asked, clearly confused. The Great Being sat next to him and toyed with her gauntlet.

    "What do you remember?"

    "I remember... arriving on Mordor. I killed the guards, and then I was attacked... by a robot?"

    The Great Being looked at him and smiled. "Yes. My name is Viruel. I created that robot that attacked you, and so many more. I also repaired your foot, though I wouldn't have needed to do that if you'd just waited by the gate."

    "I've waited long enough." Koranis said dryly. "I take it you're a Great Being."

    "What gave it away, the armour or the giant robot behind me?"

    "The wha..."

    Viruel laughed and shuffled aside to give Koranis a better view. The Spherus Magnan got to his feet and walked to the cliffside. In the canyon in front of him stood a gigantic robot, similar to the one that he was placed in over a hundred thousand years ago. The robot was almost complete, save for some armour plates that were being welded to it by flying robots similar to the one that attacked him.

    "Well, what do you think?" She asked.

    "There... was more than one?"

    "Oh, yes. Mata Nui wasn't the first, nor was he the last. Merlin made sure of that."

    Koranis took a moment to absorb this information, and observed Viruel detach a section of her armour. She held it in her hand, and he saw that it was actually a touchscreen control interface. She flicked through layers of Spherus Magnan writing, and an outline of the robot came up. After tracing over a combination of symbols with her finger, the smaller robots operating on the giant robot stopped and flew inside it.

    Viruel continued. "We have records of you in our database, Koranis, and you have served us well. We are willing to overlook your misplaced anger if you consider the offer I'm about to give you. How would you like to go back inside a Great Spirit Robot, but this time pilot it directly instead of operating only its left wrist?"

    Koranis raised an eyebrow. "Power always was a weakness of mine."

    "Well, you wouldn't have it all to yourself, of course. You would be one of two pilots, the other being a woman of your species named Lhirra. Unlike Mata Nui, this is not an exploration vessel. Your job would be to enforce order on worlds we control and to retake those that we lost during the Uterio War. Do you understand?"

    The Spherus Magnan's eyes narrowed. Admittedly, he had expected a much worse fate than this - a promotion - but he had also hoped for more than that: his own freedom. If he took this offer, he would still be working for the same people he worked for all those years. If not, he would be throwing away his chance at retaking power, and Viruel's mention of "misplaced anger" made him think that the Great Beings wouldn't let him walk away so easily.

    "I'll take it." Koranis said. "When do I start?"

    Viruel gave a satisfied smile. "Excellent. Come with me."

    She began to walk down a passage that led down the side of the canyon, and Koranis followed.

    ----------------------------------

    In the UG pocket dimension, User Kon's fists glowed with a blue energy as he prepared to fight Dukamu. The shadow titan materialized into a more solid, Makuta-esque form, and drew a jagged red sword from his back as he circled his opponent.

    "What's wrong? Still unwilling to answer for your mistakes?"

    "I don't need to justify myself to you!" Kon spat, and flicked his wrist to fire a creation blast at his opponent. Dukamu turned back into shadow again, and it parted to allow the blast to pass through him safely. He re-materialized back into his Makuta form, and conjured a shadow hand. It shot forth and grabbed the User, holding him in place while a red energy made its way up Dukamu's neck.

    "I am your creation... how did you think this was going to end? Did you think... you would be free from the slaughter to come?!"

    Kon grit his teeth and managed to turn the palm of his right hand to face his opponent. He fired another creation blast from it, which hit Dukamu in the shoulder, atomizing it and breaking his concentration. When the shadow hand dissipated, Kon formed an air bubble around his head and pressed a button on a previously unseen earpiece.

    "MK, NOW!"

    ----------------------------------

    User MK's eyes widened as he heard Kon's voice through his earpiece, and choked down what was left of his lunch. "Oh crap, I forgot! Sorry, sorry, sorry!" he shouted as he wiped his mouth, got up from the table and ran out into the corridor. Doorways littered both sides of the corridor, each one with a different name or number on it. When the door labelled "Kon" came into view, he grabbed the handle and pulled, but found that it was locked. He shrugged, guessing that he would have to pay him back, and destroyed the lock with a creation blast of his own. He swung the door open, ran over to his computer, and opened a program named "Omniversal Positioning System". He saw that Kon was transmitting his location to his computer, and that he was in a place he had never seen before. After typing several commands into the program, a top-down layout of the entire pocket dimension was given to him, including the names of all lifeforms currently inside.

    MK wiped his brow and clicked on a button that said "Extract". An empty field came up, with the I-beam pointer flickering inside, waiting for him to type a name. MK looked at the post-it note Kon left on the screen that contained the list of characters he wanted MK to save from the UG. MK read the first name, Etende, typed it into the field and pressed Enter. Suddenly, her name disappeared from the list of lifeforms inside the UG, and Etende herself appeared behind MK with a thud. MK looked over his shoulder to see if she was okay, and fortunately she was fast asleep. His attention returned to the computer, and he began typing the names of several others Kon wanted extracting.

    ----------------------------------

    New wires of solid antidermis grew from Dukamu's armour and sealed the wound as he kicked Kon in the stomach, picked him up and threw him into the wall. Just as he was about to finish him off, he noticed a flashing red light on the room's control panel. He walked over to read the warning message on the screen.

    "ALERT: AN UNKNOWN ERROR HAS OCCURRED. UNIT 1764 IS NO LONGER IN STASIS."

    Dukamu sheathed his sword and started typing, hoping to discover the reason behind the malfunction. While doing so, the same message popped up again, but this time with a different number. And then again, and again, and again. Enraged, Dukamu turned to Kon and realized what he had done. When Monarch came back to life again, Dukamu telekinetically grabbed his helmet and fitted it over his head to stop him from suffocating again in the airless room. Once that was done, he telepathically gave him an order.

    "Adam. Someone is stealing members of your would-be army. It's finally time for you to go to the User World and stop whoever is interfering with our plans. Subdue and trap, but do not kill. Their deaths will come by my hands alone."

    Monarch got to his feet, nodded, and pressed a button on his suit. He disappeared in a flash of blue light.

    ----------------------------------

    A pile of sleeping bodies amassed behind MK. Atop of Etende laid Masaharu, and on top of him laid Spanha. Micros groggily crawled out of one of the gaps in Masaharu's armour. His neutral expression changed to one of suspicion when he realized that he was no longer on the ship that he left to Saskana on, and that there was a larger, seemingly technologically advanced figure sitting above him in a computer chair, typing rapidly.

    "Hey, you!" Micros squeaked at MK. "Am I on Saskana right now?"

    "I'll explain everything later!" MK replied.

    Suddenly, another figure appeared behind them - but not one who's name MK had entered into the computer program. DU Monarch drew breath through the mouth-speaker on his suit, and raised his right arm at him. When he clenched his fist, the strange-looking device that was strapped to his arm projected a spherical forcefield around MK. The energy barrier separated his hands from the keyboard. MK turned to face Monarch and grinned, completely unfazed by his menacing appearance.

    "Oh, hi! I'm MK, or Klak. What's your name?"

    Monarch growled. "The boss told me not to kill you, but I can't keep this forcefield up all day. However, judging by what you're doing on that computer, you already know too much for me to let you go, so... I'll have to freeze you in carbonite."

    MK's grin faltered a bit, but he managed to keep it up while he wondered what do to.

    Monarch's electronic eyes narrowed, and he powered up his matter cannon on the teleport setting. However, before he could fire it, he disappeared in a flash of green light. MK shielded his eyes from the light, and once it had subsided, he saw another figure standing in Monarch's place.

    "What did I tell you about bringing your characters home?"

    MK's fake grin became a real one, and the forcefield around him disappeared. "Ynot! It's good to see you, man!"

    "Likewise. Wasn't expecting to find you here, though. Where's Kon? And what's with all the bodies?"

    "Oh, they're some of his characters. They got abducted by yet another one of his characters who gained free will and turned evil because of it, so he decided to try and rescue them himself. Well, with my help, that is. He'll be back to explain any min-"

    As if on cue, Kon appeared in a white flash of light. He instantly stepped over the sleeping bodies of Etende, Spanha and Masaharu and started tapping on the keyboard of his computer. MK left his computer chair so he could sit down, and observed him pull up another program named "Timescale". User MY checked the clock as Kon selected the UG on the screen, and with a few more commands, flung the pocket dimension into the future.

    "Hey, Kon. How goes it?" MY said nonchalantly.

    Kon breathed a sigh of relief and leant back in his computer chair. "Doing pretty good... at least for now. Hey, did either of you guys see someone in a really heavy black suit come in here?"

    MY nodded. "I did, I just assumed that he didn't belong here since he was threatening MK."

    "What did you do with him?"

    "Sent him sightseeing. Right now he's orbiting a planet called Conpiom... if he's lucky."

    "Hmm... I have a better idea."

    ----------------------------------

    Monarch... or rather Adam, since he was no longer wearing his suit... awoke with a start. He could see nothing but darkness, and to his horror, he found that he could only move his arms and legs a few inches before hitting the edge of something. As he felt his way around, he realized that he was trapped in an extremely enclosed space, which more than likely meant...

    "Oh no. HELP! HELLLLP!" LET ME OUUUUT! AAAARRRGGGGH!"

    Adam banged his fists against the walls of his coffin, but it was too late. Nobody could hear him twenty feet under the ground... not even Kon.

    ----------------------------------

    Kon led Etende, Spanha, Micros and Masaharu onto the roof of the User HQ. All four of them were encapsulated by the view of the beautiful and otherworldly User World. Several districts could be seen, each one labelled by the gigantic, electronic signs floating above them. Despite each one being of a different theme, they all shared the same basic structure apart from "Completely Off Topic", which was a district where the houses looked like they had been cobbled together by the people who lived in them. Etende leant against the railing and sighed, wondering if she could ever live on a world like this, or if she would always be too alien. Micros jumped on Kon's shoulder and zapped him with a weak jolt of energy to get his attention.

    "So, what are we doin' up here, then? You haven't told us your name, what you are, where we are... hey, I just thought of another one! Why'd you rescue us in the first place?"

    Kon stayed silent, and looked to the horizon. A streamlined silver and white ship flew over it towards them. When it became clear that it was going to land on the roof of the User HQ, the group stepped aside to allow the ship to land. A ramp extended from the ship, but nobody came out from it to meet them.

    "You're gonna go now." Kon said. "This ship has no pilot, but it'll take you wherever you need to go. Just say the name and it'll fly you there."

    Etende put her hand on one of the ship's wings, feeling its smooth metal and admiring its design. "Will we ever know why you did this for us?"

    "Maybe one day, when you are old enough. You've got a lot to prove first, but I have faith in you."

    Spanha shook her head as she walked up the ramp and into the ship. "Man, this has been one acid trip of a week."

    "Tell me about it!" Micros replied. Masaharu squatted to lay an egg, so that it would hatch a new body for him to explore the world with, but User Kon stopped him from laying it by gently kicking him up the backside. Masaharu growled and boarded the ship with the others. When the ship's ramp closed, and it flew off to parts unknown, Kon wondered what he would do next... maybe take a holiday before the Architect found out just how much he was abusing his powers.


    Last edited by Kon on Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:55 pm; edited 1 time in total


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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:10 am

    Chapter 6: Maskirovka

    OOS: Kon, thanks for your awesome chapters!

    Caiaphus and Ricochet triumphantly carried the lifeless body of the mutated scorpion that had terrorized Max-Eli’s village. They knew that this was one more step towards using whatever was left of Neo Z’traa as a base of operations for the Reformed Second Brotherhood of Makuta.

    “A Vrai army under my control, I’d never thought I’d see the day,” joked Caiaphus. Ricochet smiled in response. They had grown to respect each other given their condition, strengthening their resolve towards their common goal: the destruction of all of their enemies, from Blackout to Klak.

    Suddenly, a portal opened a few feet in front of them. Caiaphus grabbed Ricochet by the shoulder and pulled him behind the mutated creature’s corpse. Mazkertis emerged, his head turning around and searching for any life on a largely desolate world. Caiaphus raised his finger to his mouth, begging that Ricochet remain silent as they hid from the newcomer.

    Mazkertis silently stepped over to the mutated scorpion’s corpse, and kneeled down. He placed his hands on it and realized that it was dead. He growled and shook his head, turning back towards his portal and exiting Neo Z’traa.

    “What in Karzhani’s name was that?” asked a baffled Ricochet.

    Caiaphus was bewildered. He had not seen something like this since he met Kivalon, and even then, this was almost on another level.

    “Whatever it is, it had better not get in my way,” he spat out.

    --

    Blackout slammed his fist onto a table. Gendo shot up a glance at him, as though he were telling him to never damage Emperor Yetzirah’s table ever again.

    The Makuta was frustrated with the convoluted plans that everyone was offering to take on handling both Mazkertis and the Republic of Luria. It had been a full day since the Battle of Saskana, and half a day since Klak and some of the Claws of the Phoenix had arrived.

    “This is incredible. We’ve had nothing but convoluted plans for three stinking hours!” cried Blackout, angrily.

    “Yeah, why can’t we have some pragmatism?” added D-Klak.

    “Just hear us out,“ responded Klak, wringing his hands. “We split up only to find them, and expand our alliance. Then we meet up once either of them is found.”

    “The presence of the lack of trust between us could not be more glaring, Klak. It won’t work.” Malygos said. “Besides, wasn’t that Figlio’s plan?”

    “You know what they say about broken clocks,” muttered Ynot. “Besides, we’ve a checks and balances system in place here. The Knights and TPK will follow Figlio to ensure he doesn’t try anything weird, the Empress just pledged her support and will be following Malygos along with Toa Bob, and Blackout’s travelling with me.”

    “True. The Claws of the Phoenix also have Anzu with us, and we’ll be in constant contact with each other throughout the expedition,” added Klak in an attempt to assuage any fears about the Claws’ agenda. “Point is, we need as many people as possible to set out to find these psychos, and I want to devote some time to look for our missing friends.”

    Suddenly, a Takemikazuchi ensign burst into the room. Gendo glanced emotionlessly at him, and raised an eyebrow.

    “Yes?” he asked the ensign. You see, all the latecomers secretly annoyed Gendo, as this would only delay the resolution of the conflict. Of course, he was partly used to it, as intergalactic politics were often long-winded. He wondered if, in an alternate universe, he was cursed with the name ‘Long’, resulting in some sort of cascading effect in which everything he did would take forever.

    “We found some kind of biometallic creature orbiting our ship. We were about to shoot it, but it contacted us telepathically, claiming to be someone named ‘Kack-Amu?’”

    Klak, Ynot, and Nadle (who had arrived earlier to participate in the discussion) all looked at each other, with shock and joy.

    “KAKAMU!” shouted Klak.

    Several minutes later, Kakamu was brought aboard the ship and to the negotiation room.  The heroes all embraced him with hugs and triumphant handshakes, while the villains simply nodded and forced grins. Gendo pushed up his glasses and nodded as well. Kakamu was especially surprised to see that Lalli Cain was hanging around in the meeting. He thought he would hav left to find another contract out there, fighting for the highest bidder and all that.

    “Cain?!” he said, in astonishment.

    “He’s working for HYDRA. Better question, what happened?! Where is everyone else?” asked D-Klak.

    “I don't know,” Kakamu said, shaking his head in sorrow. “I guess I had some sort of existential crisis. Another version of myself captured me, Etende, Masaharu and co. to bait a higher power. The man you saw, Monarch, was similar to someone from my past, many thousands of years ago. I don't know how these pieces fit into the puzzle, but seeing as he didn't capture any of your clan, I'm guessing it has something to do with me. Just another thing for me to work out once this is all over, but with or without backup, I'm sticking with you, because what matters right now is Mazkertis.”

    Klak smiled and nodded.

    “I’ll help you with figuring things out and finding the others once this is over,“ he said. “Heck, if we can search for anyone in the meantime, we will. Anyway, we’re splitting up. You’re going with Nadle to find a friend of ours.”

    Kakamu frowned and rolled his eyes. Nadle silently sighed, and hoped that his comrade would forgive him for collaborating with David Robert Jones.

    “Who will they be looking for?” asked Malygos, raising one of their eyebrows.

    “Easy, Mr Wizard. The only other person who knows Mazkertis like Figlio and I do,” responded D-Klak, with a grin.

    “Oh no,” growled Blackout. “Not him.”

    “Well,” responded Kakamu, “I’m not sure who you’re referring to, but I suppose it must be done.” He then smiled and looked at everyone in the eye, even Gendo.

    “Come on everyone, let's go save the universe."

    --

    Meanwhile, on Saskana’s surface, Captain Eurobeat looked up to the sky while on a balcony, pondering the destiny of the universe. Von Budberg, a leader who had originally been allied to Mazkertis, was kind enough to offer a place to stay for Eurobeat, the Full Frontal Fighting Squad, Strika, and Nif in return for their fight against the traitorous wizard. Captain Eurobeat briefed Nif on the situation, explaining to him all that was occurring. The latter was astonished, crying out “What to heck?” while shaking his head. They had spent the day in the hotel, but Nif had left, claiming that he wanted to “get a feel for things”. The rest of the Full Frontal Squad were in their quarters. Strika emerged from the hotel onto the balcony.

    “I’d hate to be captain obvious, but we Cybertronians don’t need that much rest,” she said, impatiently. “That fragging slag-faced piston rod killed my friends, and he’ll keep killing if we don’t stop him.”

    “I understand how you feel, Strika, but you need to realize that HYDRA is not going to help you,” said Eurobeat, clearing his throat. “They’re the ones who released Mazkertis. They’ve indirectly betrayed you.”

    “What?! I don’t believe you,“ Strika yelled, angrily.

    Captain Eurobeat made a strange dance move, and revealed a small 90s styled television set that was not there before. It showed Strika a video of Mazkertis’ release from his prison.

    Strika felt rage, confusion, and sorrow bottle up inside of her. HYDRA, the organization that she was once proudly a part of, had set in motion in the events that had released a monster into the universe, a monster that had killed her friends without a second thought. She had decided to renounce the organization, and pursue justice for her friends regardless.

    “Do not give in to the rage, but reject HYDRA. There are many heroes attempting to stop Mazkertis now, and if we are needed we will be called.  Have more faith!” Captain Eurobeat said, laughing. “However, that pride in you friends could be useful, if not against the wizard, then against what I fear is to come after.”

    Strika shook her head. She was even more confused now.

    “What are you even talking about,” she whispered, her voice carrying tinges of pain.

    “I’ll show you soon,” Eurobeat said, smiling.

    --

    On the morning after they cemented their plans, the individuals that had assembled on Saskana split up and set off on their respective quests. Figlio di Armechio, Lalli Cain, Axalara (who had previously argued with Klak that she was fine and fully capable of moving along despite her injuries after the fight with Mazkertis), Moe, Spotter, and Coro all set off on the HYDRA spaceship that Turel brought to Saskana (known as The Manticore), while the Zodiark followed. TPK would join them at their destination later on, given that he had left the previous day to return D-Klak (4) to the past, another Klak of the Dark Mirror Universe that had been brought out of his time (long story).

    “Where is the Keruvim, Armechio?” asked Axalara, forcefully.

    “Hidden in plain sight! It’s on a planet once known to my people, the Dachori or Riders as you call them, as Shinar-Karana. Nowadays, people in the nearby system just call it Karana,” responded Figlio, smiling as the ship flew through hyperspace. “Thousands of years ago, when the Riders were starting their Second Empire, they conquered the world in question. Wars require propaganda, and what better than an engineering marvel that would also function as a base of operations? The Dachori had decided that they would build an ecumenopolis, a symbol of victory that would show their restored prowess and glory, and bring shame to all of their enemies. It would be called Shinar-Karana. Unfortunately, the Second Dachori Empire would be caught in yet another vicious war with the Vrai a few years later. The government decided to focus less on building monuments and more on fighting. Eventually, Karana was abandoned. Most of the massive buildings and structures that were in construction have been consumed by nature, but a few still remain as ruins. I don’t know if there are any surviving Rider inhabitants there anymore.”

    “Flora and fauna taking over an abandoned world! Reminds me of Krustallos,” said Spotter with fascination.

    “Yes,” responded Figlio, nodding at Spotter. “But Shinar-Karana was already ancient when Krustallos was being built. It also didn’t have its population wiped out by Caiaphus, so there’s that.”

    “Enough talk,” said Perseus, brusquely. “It’s time for action.”

    Figlio’s starship touched down on the roof of a tall black building a few minutes later. The edifice was rectangular with jagged edges. The sunset tinted the cloudy sky with a bright yellowish orange. In the distance, the group could see colossal skyscrapers jutting out into the sky, some with noticeable cracks and vines circling around them.

    The group stepped out of The Manticore, marveling at the wonders before them. The Zodiark landed on a building a few meters away, sharing it with TPK’s ship. Turel stayed behind for a special mission.  

    Figlio pulled out his staff and raised his arms up, preparing to teleport them all to the Keruvim’s location.

    “Wait,” interrupted Lalli Cain. “Why did we fly on a ship? Why didn’t we just go straight to the Keruvim and go back?”

    Figlio rolled his eyes and looked back at Cain.

    “Because with the staff it’s a one way trip. You only go where the Keruvim is. There was once this orb that could take you wherever your heart desired, but it was destroyed in the Uterio War, I think. Supposedly it was on a ship belonging to a Pirate Lord Akzer called The Mazkertis! Ironic, eh?”

    They warped away, Eos, Hassan, TPK, and his droids included, all materializing in front of what appeared to be a bridge made of a hardened material. It led to a throne with a gargantuan backrest following the wall of a building on the other side of the walkway.  An outside observer would note that they were, in fact, on one of a series of bridges--all arranged several metres above each other--connecting two large edifices made of marble and stones native to Shinar-Karana. This walkway was the last of the series, set to connect the highest floors of the buildings together; those present were nearly 4,000 feet above the ground, which was covered by a thick, ghostly white fog. Spotter keenly observed that this walkway functioned as a road in other parts of the city, but in this particular area, it was a pathway to the ruler of the would-be ecunemopolis.

    Despite the fact these tall buildings surprisingly survived erosion and the withering of time, it was likely that they were quite fragile. Everyone took note of this, and slowly moved towards the throne, which housed the object they all desired: The Keruvim. Figlio was the first to arrive, placing his hand on it and grinning madly with greed and lust for power.

    “Alright, hand it over!” cried TPK, as Black Phantom, Straxus, and IG-88 all raised their weapons, aiming at Figlio.

    “Oh, dear TPK, how could you?” Figlio pouted sarcastically. He had expected betrayal, but he had originally thought that the Knights of the Keruvim would panic first. I guess Turel was right. he thought to himself. They are too soft.

    “Hold on,” said Axalara, raising her hands. “That artefact is property of the Knights of the Keruvim. It’s far too dangerous to fall into either of your hands. Let’s stop bickering and use it to defeat Mazkertis once and for all.”

    Eos smirked, and shook his head. Perseus glared at him in rage.

    “How naïve. You truly believed that HYDRA would give back the Keruvim?” he said, laughing.

    TPK growled, for it was a mutual betrayal, and an expected one at that.

    Coro and The Knights of the Keruvim prepared themselves for the inevitable battle, as did Eos, Hassan, and a HYDRA operative that was with them at the moment. Perseus broke the standoff as he activated his Red Lantern energy, hoping to charge at Figlio and get him away from the artefact. Suddenly, Hassan shocked him with one of her electrical weapons, rendering him unconscious. She grabbed his ring, and threw it off the building, letting it disappear in the fog.

    Moe disappeared, using his shapeshifting ability to camouflage himself for more strategic strikes. Coro attempted to use his technopathy to shut down Straxus, but he was tackled by TPK. They both fell onto one of the bridges below them, their landing causing several cracks to develop within the structure. Spotter tried to kick Hassan, but he was blasted away by Black Phantom.  Straxus and IG-88 double-teamed the assassin instead, while Black Phantom made his way towards Figlio to kill him and take the Keruvim. Lalli Cain quickly shot at him, repelling the droid and allowing the HYDRA operative to strike him from behind. Phantom was almost unfazed, and swung his mace towards the operative. The latter crouched, narrowly dodging the deadly weapon. He fired his gun into Black Phantom’s chest, damaging it minimally but causing the robot to nearly lose his balance on the walkway. Black Phantom regained his composure, and grabbed the operative by the neck. He threw him off the walkway, the HYDRA member screaming as he fell into the abyss below. Spotter shouted, and fired his rifle at Black Phantom.

    Straxus swung his pickaxe at Hassan, his weapon clashing with a katana that she quickly pulled out. The assassin leaped into the air IG-88 was about to shoot her, when an unseen force suddenly hit him.

    “Conclusion,” surmised IG-88, “Target identified as Moe is near.”

    IG-88 used his heat sensors, quickly detecting Moe. He fired his blaster at his position, but the shape-shifter leaped into the air, avoiding most of the lasers (save for one that grazed his right arm). Moe landed behind IG-88, but the droid turned around and faced him, still detecting him with its heat vision.

    “This should become problematic for you,” said IG-88 as he flung his paralysis cord at Moe the moment he landed a few feet away. The Knight collapsed and shapeshifted back into his original form, struggling as the cord wrapped around his body.

    Hassan and Straxus ignored them, as they were engaged in a struggle of their own. They had both lost their katana and pickaxe, so they had to resort to other weapons within their respective limited arsenals. Hassan threw her daggers at Straxus, but the robot deflected them by twirling his axe. The assassin ran closer to him, pulling out a knife and stabbing it into Straxus’ neck. Electricity cackled from the affected area, but he was undeterred, grabbing Hassan’s neck. She struggled, throwing countless magically enhanced daggers and shurikens at the droid, most of which penetrated his armor and damaged it.

    “Servers identify you have made many mistakes,” Straxus said, coldly. “Failure is not a valid option.”  

    Straxus violently threw Hassan to the ground. His axe touched the sky as he raised it into the air, and swung it down towards her face. Luckily, Hassan reeled out of the way, the blade of the weapon slicing into the walkway. Straxus pulled his axe, breaking a piece of the walkway and causing it to crack all throughout. His other arm transformed into a Gatling gun, firing a barrage of lasers at Hassan. Though she was able to dodge most of them, some of them tore through her uniform and nearly penetrated her flesh. She threw a knife right at Straxus’ optics, missed, and tried again, this time successfully blinding the robot in one eye. Using whatever was left of his vision and targeting systems, Straxus aimed at Hassan and fired yet another barrage, this time successfully hitting her in the arm and leg before she leaped into the air. It was her attempt at a deathblow; she intended to land on top of the robot and destroy his head, ridding the universe of such a menace. Her effort would be in vain. Straxus fired his gun at her and swung his axe, cutting out a gash on her chest. Hassan’s lifeless body fell to the floor, and the robot merely kicked it off the walkway. He turned around to see IG-88 restraining Moe, and slowly made his way to do the honors.

    Meanwhile, below all of this chaos, Coro and TPK were engaged in a fistfight of their own.

    “You have betrayed us, TPK!” cried Coro as he swung his leg to TPK’s side.

    “No, the Knights of the Keruvim are under the purview of my Council,” he retorted, grabbing the metal behemoth’s leg. “It is you who has betrayed us!”

    “They made themselves independent after the war,” said Coro. “Before your hostile takeover!”

    He punched TPK in the face, allowing his leg to be set free. TPK blasted Coro with lightning, knocking down the Great Being. He shook as it coursed through his conductive skin. Coro then weakly looked up to TPK, and continued speaking.

    “You had a chance! You were supposed to lead us away from Angonce’s regime, not drive us to something worse! He was fine until he gave Uterio power, and when he found that the madman fell into a coma, he tried to assert his own brand of tyranny! Instead of taking us away from this legacy you brought us to your own twisted dictatorship fueled by revenge.”

    TPK shook his head and sneered at Coro.

    “I did what was necessary. And revenge? You’re one to talk,” he replied. “The hours drift away as you plot and scheme over how to inflict vengeance on those that made you a monster. Especialy Huriel and Heremus.”

    “Huriel,” Coro said, shaking his head. “I forgave him, I forgave all of them.”

    He stood up, forming a side stance with his legs. Coro jabbed TPK in the face, preventing the latter from pulling out his rust gun. TPK stumbled back and tried to regain his stance, but he was felled by Coro’s uppercut.

    “Yes,” said Coro. “Despite me spending every waking day with a chill creeping through my internal organs as they are reminded of the metallic skin that holds them. Despite taking a vow of silence in shame of the consequences of standing for what was virtuous and honorable. Despite looking like a monster for ages and ages, I forgave them. I have my own faults. We’ve all been wicked in our own ways, but there’s redemption, TPK!”

    TPK leaped into the air, shocking Coro with lightning. He filled his fist with energy, and slammed it into Coro’s gut repeatedly. He attacked him with lightning once more, causing him to stagger.

    “Save me the oration, you sick excuse for a politician,” replied TPK in a terse manner as he revealed his rust gun. “The Great Beings will be led into a new century, with or without you. The Keruvim is just one step on the path to greatness!”

    Coro reeled away from the incoming rust blast. He zigzagged across the walkway as TPK continued firing, completely missing him. He turned around and used what remained of his technopathy on the rust gun. TPK was startled, as the weapon disassembled in his very hands. Luckily, he had another weapon developed by the ingenious Great Beings: an acid pellet gun.

    TPK pulled the trigger, ejecting the pellet carrying the acid in liquid form. It burst as soon as it hit the ground, the acid burning through the already fragile floor. Coro attempted to destroy the gun, but his left side was hit by one of the pellets. He screamed in pain as it burned through his metallic skin. He jumped at TPK, grappling onto his chest and using his unscathed right fist to punch him repeatedly in the face. TPK returned with punches of his own, and the two fell down the hole created by the acid. They landed on a walkway several feet below them, and continued fighting.

    When the battle had merely begun, Axalara flew into the air, hoping to pick off her targets one by one. Eos followed her, preparing his light bow. He fired an arrow straight at her shoulder, but the Toa of Air was quick enough to dodge it and respond with a gust of wind. Eos was blown back a few inches, but he continued his assault, pursuing Axalara throughout their sector of the city. The labyrinthine edifices made them twist and turn, Eos’s light arrows slamming into walls left and right. Axalara luckily avoided most of them, until one grazed her arm, slicing through her armor and flesh. She grunted in pain but accelerated her flight. She suddenly nosedived, disappearing into the fog below. Eos prepared his light bow, aiming it all around. The Toa appeared out of nowhere, darting through the air and slamming her fist into Eos’s gut. The force of the punch made the son of Malygos crash through a nearby building, bursting out onto the other side.

    Eos regained his composure and charged at Axalara, his arm quickly firing a barrage of light arrows at her. She was only able to deflect a three with her gusts of wind, the rest stabbed into her chest, causing her to cry out in pain. Eos materialized in front of her, grabbing her by the neck with his right arm and flying upwards into the air. He punched her twice and formed a light dagger in his left hand, preparing to stab the Toa. Axalara quickly slammed her head onto Eos’s, causing him to let go of her. She rapidly punched his chest and blew him with a gust of wind into a building. Using her power over the air, she slammed him over and over into the wall. She brought him closer to her, and they began to punch and kick each other as they flew closer to the location of the Keruvim.

    In seconds, Eos formed a light mace and slammed it into Axalara, breaking her attack position. He pulled out the arrows that were still stuck inside of her biomechanical body, causing her to bellow in pain. He looked around and watched Hassan die.

    “Hassan!“ he screamed from the heights. Axalara shot back up, and grabbed him in a headlock.

    “Look at these idiots,” cackled Figlio as he stood triumphantly near the Keruvim. “They’ll kill each other, the chuckleheads. Okay, Lalli, let’s get out of here. I’ll call The Manticore.” The Rider laughed as he claimed victory.  

    Lalli Cain saw the fight before him, and knew that the time was right. It was now or never. This was what his path led to: all the money was just a ruse.

    “Name’s not Lalli Cain,” he whispered, quietly.

    “I’m sorry?” asked Figlio, the smile slowly receding from his face.

    “I said my name is not Lalli Cain! My name is Ezekiel Tobias Carter, and I am a Knight of the Keruvim!

    “YOU WHAT?!” screamed Figlio, his veins pumping with enraged blood. “YOU LITTLE SON OF A BITCH!”

    He charged angrily at Lalli Cain, pulling out his sword and kicking the mercenary to the ground. Cain winced, but smiled, and looked up at Figlio.

    “For all your knowledge and intel, for all of your time spent working in the Knights of the Great Beings…. you forgot that sometimes the Knights of the Keruvim take on the role of mercenaries to provide a cover identity and fight evil from the inside!  I just picked the name of two famous murderers to make myself seem more legit. And guess what? You  gave the perfect opportunity, the big case. You paid me to betray Pirate Lord Ozar, and brought me closer to HYDRA. I was deep undercover, but I remained loyal to the good. Hoisted by your own petard, Figlio! Just like your father!”

    Ezekiel fired his gun at Figlio, but the Dachori pivoted away from the blast. He kicked Ezekiel in the gut, causing the Knight to cough.

    “SHUT UP!” he yelled angrily. Figlio swung his sword to the ground, but Carter rolled out of the way. The mercenary stood up and pointed his gun at the Dachori. Figlio smirked and charged at Ezekiel, blasting him back with a fireball and cutting his chest with his sword.

    “Don’t let the pink long coat fool you,” he said, in a more calm, smug tone.  “My father made sure that I was trained by experts, himself included. I know a healthy blend of martial arts from many worlds. Plus, your attacks are rather futile; my people’s skins are tougher than those of your kind. Anyway, since we’re in a REVEALING mood, maybe it’s time I tell you all the truth! It was I who headed the research program that attempted to learn more about Subject 08’s response to pain! A program that D-Klak and Ynot naively called torture! And I’ll call him Subject 08, because he’s just another pawn to me, a mere tool, a means to an end! It was I who set Mazkertis free! I needed a distraction to keep you all occupied while HYDRA worked behind the scenes, slowly TAKING THE UNIVERSE FOR ITSELF!

    “What?!” cried Eos, confused. He could not believe it: the threat that Mazkertis posed would have simply been the history of another universe had it not been for Figlio. Additionally, he was shocked to realize that he had been used, as he had intended to use HYDRA as a pawn to further the goals of The Dominion.

    “Pirate Lord Ozar has been my ally for a considerable amount of time! The entire mission we set up was a gambit!” said Figlio, slamming his fist into Ezekiel’s face.  

    “It was my way of showing Ozar that he made the right decision by helping our organization. HYDRA and the Pirate Lords would find a new hiring pool of the best mercenaries this side of the galaxy. If you succeeded, we would both benefit financially and materialistically. If any of you died, then you really weren’t all the best mercenaries, and we would just have to keep looking for more.” Ezekiel pulled out a dagger and attempted to stab Figlio, but the Dachori dodged it and backhanded the Knight.

    “And Tiff Ramson? You never asked why I wanted him alive. The purpose of using tranquilizer darts on him was to transport him to a HYDRA base, yes. There, we would wake him up and give him his new mission, a new way to serve my Armechio bloodline! He would become my figurehead; wear the uniform of the Supreme HYDRA and fool people into believing that he was the true leader, when it was me all along. If he died in the mission, I would have lost a war criminal that gave our cause a bad name anyway. Plus, you all located Mazkertis, and confirmed one of his prisons. The other was implanted into Fourteen’s mind, and he kindly mentioned it to Ozar when you all weren’t looking. Everything went well, Ozar regretted threatening me, and knew I was a valuable ally. He cemented his leadership of the Pirate Lords of Liquid Metallicon, and HYDRA increased its power: we both won. Checkmate, Knight.

    Black Phantom ignored these revelations, slammed his fist into Spotter, and grabbed him by the leg. He flung him backwards, hoping that he would fall into the abyss below like the HYDRA operative before him. Luckily, the Knight landed a few meters behind IG-88 (the droid did not notice him). Spotter pulled out a lightsaber knife and calculated his next move. If he played his cards right, he would cut through Moe’s restraints and free him. If he failed, he would either fall into the abyss or be killed by Straxus and IG-88. Worth the shot, he thought to himself.

    Spotter dashed towards IG-88 and slid between his legs. He quickly swung his arm, slicing into the paralysis cord. Moe was free. Spotter stopped near Straxus and got up, firing his weapon onto the robot. Moe camouflaged himself once more and charged at IG-88, placing a sticky grenade on the confused droid and kicking him back. IG-88 fired his blaster all throughout and attempted to remove the grenade, but it was too late. The blast destroyed his head, sending shrapnel flying everywhere. Much of it stabbed into Moe, who had already been wounded in the battle, making him stumble onto the floor. IG-88’s body collapsed in deactivation and defeat; he had been destroyed.

    Straxus’s armor had been damaged by Spotter’s gun, but he was not deterred. He swung his battleaxe at the Knight, cutting him down with a gash on his arm. Before the droid could deliver the killing blow, however, a barrage of light arrows all fired by Eos hit him, some stabbing into his head. The son of Malygos had made a last minute truce with Axalara as they faced mutual enemies. Spotter threw a pellet of acid at Straxus’s face with his remaining strength, melting through some of the systems and causing him to sputter with electricity. The robot summoned his grenade launcher to kill all his enemies, but he was blown off the walkway by a gust of wind summoned by Axalara. Straxus fired grenades into the air as he fell to the foggy abyss below.

    One of these grenades landed on the walkway Coro and TPK were fighting on. The explosion ripped through the fragile rock and made the floor crumble. The Great Beings fell several feet, and while Coro was able to land onto the proximate bridge, TPK was not. Thankfully, Coro caught him in time and Asved him, albeit temporarily. The normally composed TPK felt the maw of death come far too close, and begged Coro to save him.
     
    “Please, please, help me!” he cried.

    Coro looked over to his other arm, wincing in pain from the acid that had eaten away through part of his metallic skin. He saw that it had been successfully anchored onto the bridge, but it had caused much of the floor to start cracking. He needed less weight, or else the bridge would give way below them and compound the already complicated situation, to say the least. To put it briefly, if the floor crumbled, they would be in free fall once again, and TPK would fall to his death below.  

    “TPK! Let go of some of your items and armour!” yelled Coro frantically. “The walkway is breaking! I need less weight or we’ll both die!”

    “I CAN’T!” screamed TPK, as he was unable to do so with simply one arm.

    Sure enough, the bridge collapsed. TPK slipped from Coro’s grasp as they fell yet again. The Great Being, through his machinations, unwittingly caused his doom. It was his droid and his gun that destroyed the first two walkways, cursing them to constantly fall through the fragile structures. TPK fell to the abyss, realizing the irony of all this, and died.

    Coro crashed through a mysterious ship, landing inside of its cargo hold. He grasped at his acid wound, feeling blood. He drifted out of consciousness briefly, falling onto a set of boxes.

    Black Phantom sauntered towards Figlio, who was laughing maniacally and holding his sword to Ezekiel’s neck. Before he could attack the Dachori, Perseus, who had woken up and slammed his fist into the android’s face, stopped him. Black Phantom cut parts of the Toa’s armor with his saber strikers, causing him to stagger.  He fired his Zamor sphere, but Perseus successfully blocked it with a stone brick from one of the nearby ruined buildings. The shards of rock combined around Perseus’ left hand, and he used it to create an armored fist that jabbed several times into Black Phantom’s face. The robot grabbed the Toa and flung him towards the throne. Black Phantom continued walking to Figlio.

    “Come any closer, android, and I’ll use the damn artefact against all of us!” Figlio said, grinning. “All I have to do is leave in time before it blows and I’ll be safe.”

    Perseus reached out with his hand, hoping that his Red Lantern ring would appear. The crimson object sped out of the fog and fit onto the Toa’s finger. He blasted at Figlio, knocking the Rider back. Perseus then created a mace construct (one that was nearly identical to Black Phantom’s) in his left hand, swinging it towards the android. Their weapons clashed and swung at each other once more. Figlio suddenly charged at the both of them, his sword creating a three-way melee fight of clanging weapons, all being parried by one another. He fired a blast of fire at Perseus, who blocked it with another stone he lifted with his Toa power. Through his shrewd calculations, Black Phantom found a weak spot in Perseus’s form, and exploited it, shooting a Zamor right at his chest. The Toa was blasted back to the throne.

    Suddenly, The Manticore arrived, having risen up from the foggy chasm. Turel turned the ship’s targeting systems and aimed them at both Perseus and Black Phantom. A rope ladder emerged from the bottom of the ship. Figlio attempted to fling a fireball at the droid, but it was met by another Zamor sphere. The ensuing explosion knocked them both back. Coro took this chance to leap out of a hole in the roof of the cargo hold of The Manticore, and jumped onto the platform everyone else was on. Before Black Phantom could recompose himself, Coro attacked the droid using his technopathy. TPK had ensured that Phantom’s mental faculties would be impervious to Coro’s powers, but there was a loophole: the mechanical movements of his joints in his elbow and knees were vulnerable. It strained his mind, but the Great Being soon rendered Black Phantom immobile. Figlio took this chance to stand up and run to the Keruvim.

    “Oh no you don’t!” yelled Eos, launching a light arrow that pierced through Figlio’s right shoulder. The injured Ezekiel lifted himself halfway and shot a pistol, hitting the Dachori in the thigh.  

    “Tougher skin my ass,” he said, wittily.

    Axalara and Spotter were charging towards Figlio, and Perseus appeared to be preparing an attack of his own. Coro was nearest to the Rider, his imposing stature a threat on its own. Figlio realized that the risks that would result of grabbing the Keruvim would outweigh the benefits. He would have to obtain it later, or find his own way of destroying Mazkertis.

    He dashed to the rope ladder, grabbing it with his other arm. The Manticore flew away, and Perseus attempted to pursue it, but Axalara stopped him.

    “Perseus, don’t bother!” she yelled as she snatched him. “He lost anyway.”

    “There’s still a HYDRA ally here,“ the Toa of Stone replied, angrily pointing at Eos.

    “No, I have severed all ties with them,” said Eos, shaking his head. “It was a pleasure fighting with you. Hassan’s sacrifice was not in vain. We shall meet again, Knights of the Keruvim. Hopefully on the same side in the coming race against Mazkertis.”

    “Right,“ responded Perseus. “But if you come after the Keruvim again, or decide to make amends with HYDRA….”

    “You will have to deal with us,” added Axalara.

    Eos smirked at the damaged Knights, and teleported away to The Zodiark.  Spotter applied medicine to his wound and limped to Moe, who was just coming to consciousness. Ezekiel Carter stood up and looked at Coro, who was grabbing his side, covering the damage of the acid gun. He then turned to Axalara who, despite her multiple stab wounds, stood, somberly staring at the Keruvim. Perseus shook his head and glared at Black Phantom, who was staring at the ground, calculating his next move after being immobilized. They were silent for several minutes, until the Red Lantern broke the silence.

    “We’ll have to take it back, and hide it better,” he said. “You decide, Axalara.”

    “Agreed, sir,” she replied, nodding. “It’s far too dangerous to be used against Mazkertis, and there are too many powers involved in this mission. It’s too risky. I already lost Cutter, and we almost lost more of us.” She paused, looking away. As much as they all hoped to save the universe, all of the Knights present had agreed that they couldn’t afford such a risk.  

    “We’ll also have to double the guard around the Keruvim,” she continued. “HYDRA or the Great Beings’ agents may try to take it, and for all we know Mazkertis might want the artefact as well.“

    “I will take Black Phantom to Mordor and inform everyone of what has happened,” Coro said. “The Council of the Great Beings will have to elect a new leader now that TPK has passed. I also need medical attention, so there’s that.”

    “We all need rest,“ Spotter said, agreeing with the Great Being. “The wounds of Saskana were only worsened by this battle. I’m surprised you’re even still standing, Axalara.”

    Axalara smiled, trying to avoid a chuckle. She knew that the laughter would hurt.

    “I am too. I’ll probably collapse when I get to Vizima anyway,” she said. “We’re all roughed up. We need to regain our strength and plot our next move. Klak and the others need our help.”

    She smiled again; hoping to spend more time with Klak after everything was resolved.

    “How will we even leave? My ship’s back at Saskana,” Ezekiel retorted.

    “I’ve called TPK’s ship over here. I’ll drop you all off there,” answered Coro.

    “Right, technopathy. So convenient,” said Carter. He realized the sarcasm in his tone and widened his eyes. “Um, with all due respect, sir.”

    Coro grinned.

    Lalli Cain, huh? Creative.”

    The Great Being used the humour to defuse the situation. Why wouldn’t he? He would need serious attention on the ship’s medbay, and figure out a way for the Council to restrain Black Phantom, if they could even be trusted in the first place. Moe, Axalara, Spotter, and Ezekiel had all been heavily injured because of the past two battles, just like him. Perseus himself had also been battered, but he was resisting showing it to all of them. It was yet another pyrrhic victory for the Knights, and it remained to be seen whether or not they would all survive the wounds of war.

    --

    Mazkertis emerged from a portal on a dark, stormy world filled with canyons. This was a planet he had already visited a few days ago, as not far from his present location was an empty village. The planet’s government was launching an investigation into the sudden deaths, but it had largely been inconclusive until news of Mazkertis’ other attacks had spread.  Many governments were baffled and in panic, as the Lurian-backed Mazkertis appeared omnipresent. It had been five days since the Battle of Saskana, and three days since the battle on Liquid Metallicon.

    The wizard opened another portal, summoning a young humanoid named Drepp. It was white with rainbow hair and a black light suit with glowing multicolored strips. Mazkertis had first assumed that Drepp was a female, but upon closer observation he noticed that she was actually a he (that being said, many in the galaxy thought Drepp was a girl, much to his chagrin).  

    Drepp was known for his eccentric behavior, and was otherwise a normal student on his home world, when suddenly the criminal known as C’uk damaged his life. He decided to dedicate his life to fighting crime, and became a vigilante. Although he defeated C’uk and brought justice to his planet, he began to feel depressed. Once he saw Mazkertis in clothing not unlike that of Death itself, he assumed the worst had happened.

    “Have I come here to die?” he asked, somberly.

    No,” responded Mazkertis, telepathically. “ I have summoned you to offer you an opportunity: to serve me in my attempts to rewrite history to fight a great evil. I ask that you aid me.
     
    “Rewrite history? Why the heck would you do that?!” cried a confused Drepp.

    I will destroy those who have wronged me and make things right in my universe, as well as yours. I offer you justice. Join me, and you will achieve it,” ‘said’ Mazkertis.

    “Huh!” replied Drepp. He realized that what this man was looking for was vengeance. Mazkertis could not deceive him, as the wizard’s bloodlust could not be any more apparent in the telepathic communications. Drepp prepared to insult him, but his species could not fully say curse words without accidentally pronouncing letters only known as ‘#’ in the English language. In fact, a member of his species was known for saying ‘f##### b#####’ when expressing his anger at being a victim of a robbery. Drepp simply raised his arms and yelled “F### you” at Mazkertis.

    The cat-being blasted Mazkertis with electromagnetic energy, sending him flying back into a nearby rock formation and burning his arms. The wizard stood up angrily, and menacingly approached Drepp, whose arms were glowing with power.

    Electromagnetism? You fool! It has temporal properties!” he ‘said’.

    Mazkertis took control of one of his enemy’s arms, moving it until it was aimed at his head. He began to charge towards Drepp, hoping to absorb most of his power and life force before killing him with his own attack. However, Drepp charged another blast with his arm. Two forces of great power were about to meet; a combination of Mazkertis’ magic and Drepp’s electromagnetism.

    The ensuing explosion ripped through the rock, leaving a massive crater to compliment the vast canyon. Mazkertis and Drepp were on opposite sides of it, their respective bodies devastated by their combined attacks. Drepp slowly stood up and opened a portal, hoping to find some sort of aid somewhere in the universe.

    Mazkertis realized that the incredible explosion that had ruptured through the canyon had temporarily blinded him.  He felt immense pain from burns, bruises, and other injuries that his person had received after the attack. It would take more than modern medicine to heal them; he had to use even more of the magic (which he had originally stored up for his time travel spell) for healing purposes. In between his battles on Saskana and Liquid Metallicon, he had used a portion of his power to heal some of his wounds, hoping to heal what remained with Sachiel’s medical expertise. While Mazkertis was injured once again in that battle, he was able to combine some of his magic with the extremely advanced medicine of the Republic of Luria to restore his health in just a few days.

    That being said, he knew he had to be cautious. At this rate, he would lose all the energy he gained through the spires of Saskana, his reserves being relegated to all the power that had been absorbed in his previous rampages on Malchior IV and other worlds. Such a situation would be a major setback, as what he intended to do required a significant amount of magic. He had to continue feeding, and continue his quest for allies to assist him in doing so. Only then could he make things right.

    His vision was still weak when he heard someone approach him.

    “Do not worry, I am certain your vision will return. It would be best that you get to healing yourself, Mazkertis,” said the mysterious individual. “I am Raziel. I, like you, have travelled through time. In this universe’s future, our Klak’s doppelgänger becomes a twisted tyrant, one far too dark even for me.”

    Mazkertis could hear Raziel getting closer to him. He moaned, attempting to reach out to him telepathically.

    “I have been secretly been watching the events of the past week, and I have witnessed your immense prowess,” continued Raziel. “Your mission is like medicine to a long existing ailment. By ridding both of our universes of all Klaks, both the real ones and the false one, we will prevent much undue suffering. I intend to reap at least one soul, but otherwise, I have no terms. You and I both must accomplish our quests. Ergo, I hereby align myself with you.”

    Good,” ‘said‘ Mazkertis as his vision returned. His eyes beheld the vampire-turned-wraith for the first time. Thank you, Raziel.

    --

    Light-years away on Malchior IV, President Howard smiled as he sat with his wife, his left arm wrapped around her shoulder. He was finally taking a much-needed vacation, and who could blame him? Two of his colleagues were assassinated, Cadmus allies were getting testy with their fugitive on the loose and their facility endangered, Malygos nearly took over the universe, ZFT and HYDRA were on the rise, and a slew of terrorist attacks from Mazkertis and a mysterious cell had gripped the planet in fear. These crises were all topped off by a scandal that revealed his extension of “Project NSA”, a program that spied on the citizens of Control City. He could not believe that this had all occurred in one week!

    “I love this place,” he said, gazing at the night sky reflected on the lake that sat before his log cabin. “So peaceful.” On the other side of the lake was a large forest filled with trees and guards all prepared to protect their elected leader.

    “Yeah, it really is. You’re really in touch with nature here,” the First Lady said, smiling.

    Unbeknownst to them or the Presidential Guard, a slim figure wearing a SCUBA suit slowly emerged from the lake. It opened a waterproof case and silently crawled on the shore opposite that of the log cabin. The man pulled out a sniper from the case and pressed his gloved hand onto the rifle grip. He aimed and fired, hitting President Howard in the heart, instantly killing him. The First Lady screamed, and the Presidential Guard almost immediately panicked, dogs barking and soldiers yelling in the night. He silently crept back into the lake and swam through it, eventually reaching an unguarded shore and disappearing into the darkness.

    The Guards would find the murder weapon neatly sitting directly across the log cabin. Their investigations would find that Senator Skeddadle’s fingerprints were on the grip and trigger. This would lead them to believe that Skeddadle had assassinated Howard over Project NSA and his own presidential ambitions, but this was not the case. The assassin was using a special glove that had copied the senator’s fingerprints to frame him.

    President Howard was dead, and his assassin had gotten away.


    _________________


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    Kon
    The Chronicler
    The Chronicler

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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Kon on Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:43 am

    Chapter 7: Zugunruhe

    As night fell on Meme World, the pixelated, seemingly two-dimensional rainclouds in the heavens released another torrent of byte rain over the valley. The crash survivors from Tybion retreated back inside their makeshift tents and shelters to wait for the storm to pass. Those who were familiar with the HahaJ'UsT-Seying force painted pictures of Boltman outside their sleeping areas, to ward off a trespasser named "Moonman" who was said to come and disturb them in the middle of the night by rapping loudly. One such person was Space Ryan Gosling, who had spent some time carving Boltman's face into the wooden wall of his shelter with the end of his hammer. Sasha, the "meme kid", buried himself in blankets out of fear, but Hassan-ill-Sabbah comforted him by saying that, if the Moonman did appear, he would challenge him to a rap battle of his own and make a fool of the moon-faced menace.

    Not everyone was at peace, however. Inside BONES's ship, Randolph Moloch groaned and pulled the sides of his top hat over his ears. It had been well over a day since he last had the opportunity to sleep, and while most of the Dongers were eager to take the opportunity to get their forty winks now, Pumkin didn't seem to want or need it. Instead, the anthropomorphic vegetable had chosen to stand guard in the doorway of Randolph's quarters, and had spent the last half hour making bizarre statements to him.

    "I'm very bored. Give me the mission."

    "Shut up!" Randolph replied, rolling over in his bed.

    "I'm very hungry. Give me the FISH."

    "Nggghhh..."

    "I'm very thirsty. Give me the BLOOD."

    "GAAAAH!" Randolph grabbed his rapier, got out of bed and pointed the sword between Pumkin's eyes. "The next time you think to disturb me with your babble, creature, I will carve your words into your face!"

    Pumkin's cartoonish eyebrows slowly dropped towards its eyes and its smile turned into a grimace. Randolph tightened the grip on his sword in anticipation of its response.

    "No. I don't want that!" Pumkin said calmly as it grabbed Randolph's sword, yanked it out of his hands and tossed it over its shoulder. The human swung his fist at Pumkin's eye, but the creature grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back. Randolph cried out in pain, and Pumkin took the opportunity to grab his torso and lift him up into the air. "I'm very hungry," it said again. "Give me the HUMAN."

    "NO! NO! AAAGGHHH!" Randolph screamed. Fortunately, he was loud enough to attract the attention of the person in the next room, Ainsley Harriott. Ainsley opened the door, saw Randolph being held above Pumkin's mouth, and took action just in time.

    "Hold it right there!" Ainsley shouted. "If you kill 'im, they'll replace ya just like that! And y'know what that means. No more free meals! You'll be back where they found ya, and last I 'eard, the Stouttish Islands are bein' swept by police!"

    Pumkin paused, and it looked over to Ainsley.

    "Trust me mate," he continued, "ain't nothin' worse than bitin' the hand that feeds ya. I've been there. Who knew askin' for a pay rise could've been so offensive? ...I bloody hate the BBC."

    Pumkin's closed its mouth and tossed Randolph aside.

    "I'm very useful. Give me the money. Give me the free food."

    Ainsley shrugged. "Don't look at me. We gotta find a way to contact that grinch fella."

    Randolph got up, adjusted his hat and stormed out of the room.

    "Oi, where ya goin'?" Ainsley shouted after him.

    "To get paid!" Randolph shouted back as he marched down the corridor.

    -----------------

    A few hours later, Randolph observed the progress the various crash survivors were making from a hilltop, as the sun rose over Meme World. A hatch on the side of BONES's ship opened, and the other Dongers came out to witness the morning, hopeful that another of Zrintch's ships would have arrived overnight to pick them up. There was a collective sigh of disappointment from everyone but Pumkin, who instead said "No! I don't want that!" before going back inside. Randolph considered rejoining them, but reminded himself that he had vowed not to until he'd gotten paid. For too long had he been on the receiving end on the others' cruel jokes, for too long he had laid his life on the line for them with no gratitude, and no pay!

    While Randolph trembled with rage, he noticed something so bizarre it made him completely forget about his woes, at least for the time being. At the bottom of the hill he was sitting on, Snoo, the "Reddit Alien", regurgitated memes into Sasha "The Meme Kid"'s mouth like a bird mother would feed its young. Once this ritual was complete, Sasha took an "upvote" out of his pocket and jammed it into Snoo's anus. King Harkinian made a shocked face, while an elderly news reporter nearby called it "Absolutely disgusting". However horrific it was, this transfer of memes gave Randolph an idea. He immediately got up and ran down the hill towards Snoo, waving his arms to get its attention, but he slipped on a discarded banana peel halfway. He tumbled down the hill, coming to a stop at Snoo's feet, winded but otherwise alright. The cartoon alien stared at him, waiting for him to get his breath back. Randolph eventually pulled himself up and grabbed Snoo by the shoulders.  

    "Alright, you disgusting, macabre creature, answer me this. Can you connect me to the internet?" he panted.

    Snoo simply stared back at him with its usual idiotic smile, so Randolph continued. "Well, what else would that antenna on your head be for?"

    The alien nonchalantly grabbed its own head-antenna and wiggled it around in response. Randolph heard it chant "subscribe to le reddit /r/all" a few times before its pupils disappeared and were replaced with tiny projections of the front page of Reddit. Even though Randolph came from a planet that ran on magic, he had never seen sorcery like this, so he asked it for help. Snoo said "Victoria will be here to assist you shortly. RemindMe! 2 minutes" so Randolph figured that meant he ought to sit back and wait.

    -----------------

    Ten minutes later, there was a banging on the hatch of the Ayy-Lmalium ship, so Billy Mays opened it up. Randolph burst in with a grin on his face and addressed the team.

    "Pack your things, hooligans! We're finally getting off this godforsaken planet, all thanks to Reddit!"

    Jesse Ventura approached him and folded his arms with a glare. "Red-it? Sounds like what I'm gonna do to your ass if you don't pull it together soon, Moloch."

    "W-what?"

    "You were missing from the ship-wide census we took this morning. If you want off the team, all you have to do is say so, and I can replace you faster than Nixon was after the Watergate scandal!"

    Randolph opened his mouth to reply calmly, but then clenched his teeth and spoke with a hint of anger. "I might just have Asved you all!"

    "Is that so?"

    "It is indeed! When that... that thing over there," Randolph said while pointing to Pumkin, "made it clear that I was not to sleep tonight, I figured I might as well do something to help get us out of this rut while awake. I'm no engineer, and never learned how to communicate via magic, so I went to ask elsewhere for help. Luckily, I found that the Reddit mascot was more than happy to help!"

    "Like how?" Ventura grunted.

    "He connected me to Reddit, where I submitted a question on /r/grinchmeetups as to how I could get in contact with Zrintch. Luckily for me, someone knew who he was, and sent him a message on my behalf. Apparently, he replied, saying that he's sending one of his lieutenants over with a mobile workshop with tools and raw materials to help us restore communications and get us back in the air."

    Soldier looked over Ventura's shoulder and grinned. "You did good son, real good! Ah, the world of tomorrow..."

    Billy Mays appeared beside him and gave Randolph a thumbs-up. "I second that! Maybe we should go thank this Reddit fella ourselves."

    Ventura shrugged. "Let's just hope that we don't end up with yet another crashed alien ship on our hands. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was some kind of conspiracy..."

    Randolph rolled his eyes and walked past the ageing ex-governor to go to his room and rest.

    Billy Mays opened the hatch of the ship and stepped out, embracing the feeling of natural light on his face. He reflected on his achievements, and reminded himself that he was lucky to be alive, following the cancer scare he had had. Unfortunately, when he opened his eyes, what he saw made him maybe wish that he wasn't.

    In front of him was Snoo, the Reddit alien, regurgitating memes into Sacha's mouth. When the smell of rotten memes reached Mays's nostrils, he recoiled in disgust. He recognized that smell... a musty, decaying odor. It was more than just decaying memes... it was the smell of cancer. As he looked over to his comrade, he could see that the Soldier was equally disgusted, as he grabbed the shovel from his back and gripped its handle firmly in both hands.

    "That... son of a BITCH is feeding kids cancer!!!" Mays screamed, pointing a shaking finger at Snoo. The alien looked at him and waved with its fingerless, two-dimensional hand.

    "Let's crush that alien scum!" Soldier yelled, and cried a battle cry as he and Mays charged at Snoo. A gust of wind blew the ship's hatch shut, blocking the Dongers' view of the battle. Despite this, they could all hear the sound of the alien mascot getting the shit beaten out of it.

    An awkward silence lingered among the others until the door to the debriefing room, at the end of the corridor, opened. A group of joke characters that most of the Dongers had never seen before walked out to meet them. Ayy LeMao beckoned Ventura to crouch down so that he could whisper something in his ear. Ventura raised an eyebrow, stood back up and banged on the wall to get everyone's attention.

    "Alright Dongers," he began, "my little green friend here tells me that these weirdos are gonna be the bulk of Lord Zrintch's second strike team... the Wang Gang."

    Saitama didn't seem fazed, only responding with "ok", but the others quietly talked among themselves.

    "What do you mean, second team?!" No Image Guy protested. "I thought we'd been doing just fine by ourselves!"

    "This decision has nothing to do with your performance. As it turns out, there are more threats out there to galactic peace than Zrintch originally thought, and a strike team can only strike in one place at once." Ventura responded.

    Suddenly, there was a puff of purple smoke and Merasmus appeared in the middle of the gathering, looking just as crazed as he usually does.

    "COWER FOOLS! MERASMUS IS HERE! AHAHAHAHAH!!"

    "Who said that?!" The Cataractor shouted as he swung his walking stick at Merasmus's shin. There was a cracking sound, and the wizard cried out in pain, falling onto his side and holding his knee.

    "Aaagh! Who told you to do that...?!" Merasmus whimpered. He took a moment to hide the pain, then hopped away on his other leg, with his parting words being something about hiding and healing.

    "Impressive, very nice!" Bateman said. Ayy and Ventura nodded in agreement.

    The question mark on No Image Guy's face grew bigger. "So, who's the leader of the other team?"

    "That'd be me, innit?" Hungry-man boasted as he pushed his way past the others to come into view.

    "Who the heck are you?"

    "It don't matter who oi am. What matters is me plan. To 'elp me old pal Skelly Bones get back on his bony feet!"

    The Dongers and Wangers then gathered round and starting introducing themselves to one another. Ainsley was surprised to see his former neighbour The Fresh Prince of Fresh Fruit as part of the Wang Gang, and Ventura felt the same when reunited with a Car Guard who was under his command when he was warden of Supermax 429. The Guy Who Was Engulfed in Milk gave the Shell-Shocked Cat some milk to drink, and Saitama and TTT discussed their past battles against evil.

    Suddenly, a beeping sound rang through the ship, and an automated message in the Ayy-Lmalium language started playing through the speakers. Understanding it as a signal that someone was trying to contact them, Ayy ran to the communications deck, followed by curious Dongers and Wangers. The alien technicians working on restoring power to communications had obviously made some progress, as the large screen mounted on the wall of the deck began displaying a pixelated image instead of just static.

    "Finally, contact!" Randolph exclaimed, though his initial joy quickly subsided when he and the others heard the crackled audio coming through the speakers. "Is that... what is that?"

    Ventura stepped forward and furrowed his brow. He had heard that sound before, years ago, not too long after he escaped from Earth aboard a stolen space shuttle. The screen flickered, and just for a second, the video feed stabilized before going back to a blurry mess. "You!" Ventura said while pointing to one of the technicians, "Can you stabilize the transmission?"

    The ayylium squeaked at him as if to say "I'm trying my best!" and began to fiddle with some controls on the back of the screen. Some of the other ayyliums went over to the Co-operative maker, where they made finer tools that were more suitable for work on advanced equipment, and brought them over to the main technician. The technician squeaked in appreciation and used the new tools to operate on the back. A few tweaks later and the video feed began to stabilize. All the Dongers and Wangers gathered round to watch the video, with the exception of Soldier and Mays, who were still out exacting vigilante justice. When it had finished buffering, the laughing face of a human filled the screen in ultra-high definition, causing the least hardened characters to jump back in surprise, but the most surprised of all were Jesse Ventura and Car Guard, for they had seen that face before.

    "Kevin Douglas?!" Ventura said, pushing past the others to be the closest to the screen. "Kevin fucking Douglas? Are you kidding me?"

    "Hahahaha!" Douglas laughed as he threw back his head and took another sip of his orange juice. When he looked back towards his camera, and saw Ventura and Car Guard on his monitor, the laughter changed to "Oh shit". Oh shit, indeed. Douglas had been dispatched by Zrintch to these co-ordinates, but he had not been following the developments of the grinch's strike teams at all, so he had no idea that Ventura was part of one.

    "Where the fuck have you been?" Ventura ranted. "You were supposed to back me up on the Subject 06 case!"

    Douglas rubbed his hair sheepishly. "Where the fuck have I been?" Where the fuck have I been... you guys, I'm so sorry! I left all of you high and dry! It actually wasn't my fault."

    "Is that true?" Car Guard asked Ventura. The ex-governor clenched his fists.

    "Like hell it is! Me and Kevin used to be like brothers. Noble warriors holding back the evil hordes at the threshold of sanity! When I became warden of Supermax 429, he became vice-warden. Together we used to monitor the entities entrusted to our care, and Douglas would snap photos of them to make "Aumms" on the internet. Then one day, something terrible happened. Turns out Subject 06... codenamed "Crack Jag"... was feeding one of the scientists cookies with some kind of hallucinogenic drug in them during his therapy sessions. The scientist went crazy... talking some shit about enlightenment and beat the others in his team to death with a radiator pipe! It was some grim shit... and the Galactic Government higher-ups were gonna start asking all kinds of questions if they found out. Like, how could such a bad security breach happen in one of the most secretive prisons in the GG?"

    "So what did you do?"

    "What did I do? I'll tell you what I did, son. I tried to cover that shit up! I made plans with Douglas to throw the scientists' bodies out the airlock and fake emails about them taking shore leave. And what did that bastard do? He goes and takes some shore leave of his own, leaving me to sort out that mess myself! I tried calling him, but he didn't pick up so I came to the conclusion that, well, he must have left with the intention of pinning the blame on me. Luckily enough, he'd inadvertently left me with all the means to turn the tide. I realized that if I said that the security breaches were his fault for not checking them, and were located in his block, I'd stand a chance of getting off clean!"

    Car Guard pulled up a chair, sat down and rested his chin on his hand. "So, where did you go, Kevin? Did you really take a vacation?"

    The party-loving entrepreneur laughed nervously on the viewscreen. "Lemme explain something to you real quick. Jesse, called Mark Zuckerberg, and they uh... for lack of a better term... "took care of me". Yeah, they wiped me off the internet completely. My assets took a huge, huge dive..."

    "Why'd you wipe him off the internet?" Car Guard asked Ventura.

    "I didn't. I asked Zuckerberg to check his online activity, to see if he'd checked in anywhere on Facebook that he shouldn't. I thought that maybe he would have left a trail to wherever he was headed."

    "Why didn't you just look at his wall yourself?"

    "Me? Facebook? Are you shitting me? I'M JESSE VENTURA! I live off the grid! No government can find me! You got that?"

    "I... uh.. seems a little paran-"

    "Good."

    Car Guard rubbed his forehead. "So why'd his account get deleted then?"

    "Zuckerberg found that Douglas had been violating the terms of service by posting photos of himself with drunk, half-naked young women every Friday night. With no censors."

    "oh"

    "Hey c'mon guys," Douglas interjected, "let's not dwell on all the bullshit that's happened... enough about how I'm doing, I wanna know how you guys are doing! I miss you guys! We had a good thing going, and then your boss just goes AFK! He went AWOL! Fuck!"

    "You're not the boss of me!" Ventura shouted, rolling up his sleeves and stepping forward aggressively. Ross Mandell held him back, saying that it was not his time just yet.

    "But yeah... I'm back! I'm fuckin' back!" Douglas laughed, and took another swig of his orange juice. "I'm gonna do a u-turn and park this baby right next to yours, and um... I want every one of you to send me friend requests. Oh yeah, every single fuckin' one of ya. I'm back on FB, so we're gonna be the same tight community we always were, right gang?" He said while pointing to Ventura and Car Guard, who rolled his eyes. The transmission then cut out, and the Dongers and Wangers dispersed.

    Ventura and his team left the ship to see the battered body of Snoo, still being punched and kicked by Soldier and Mays. However, they were soon distracted from their task by the arrival of a relatively small vessel that looked somewhat like a Repulsorlift gunship, but with sides that opened to reveal large racks full of sophisticated technological equipment that the Ayy-Lmaliums had lost their designs for when their ship first crashed on Meme World. Kevin Douglas could be seen in the cockpit window, rocking to some tunes and updating his Facebook status. Ventura folded his arms as he observed the ayyliums grab some tools and raw materials and continue to work on the ship, but at a vastly increased rate this time. He figured he'd deal with Douglas later; right now, he had to check that everyone was accounted for and that the fruits of their labour - the Travel Glove, the Mask and the Dedotated Wam - were safe and sound in the vault of the ship. Ventura stepped back inside, humming the tune of Conspiracy Theory, and shut the hatch door behind him.

    -----------------

    "What do you mean, PAYMENT?!" Ade bellowed, gripping the sides of her wheelchair with her cybernetic arms. The Terugan captain bowed her head and took a deep breath. It had been a long week for her. She'd taken back her ship from the oppressive grasp of the ZFT, been ejected from the hangar of another spaceship mid-flight, and broke her legs after bouncing off a huge, trampoline-like surface all within a week. Now she was arguing with a cow over who got to keep the waste processor of a giant-sized toilet.

    Kartouche the jazz-playing cow gave an condescending moo as if to say that he wouldn't be giving it up for free. A team of ten Ta'har had carried the cuboid matter converter of Hungry-man's log cabin's toilet all the way to the Jet-Ball II, which is where they were now, and Kartouche's English-speaking bodyguards were trying to negotiate a deal with its captain. Ade rummaged through her pockets, but found nothing but pocket sand and expired shopping vouchers. Kartouche waited for a while, unimpressed, but eventually got bored of watching her turn her pockets inside-out again and again. He gave another moo, which a bodyguard translated for her. "Well, it looks like we won't be working together. No regrets."

    Kartouche and his bodyguards turned and began to walk back to the camp site as the Ta'har groaned in disappointment, knowing that they would now have to spend even longer in the custody of these idiots before they could get back home to Tybion. Together they lifted the generator up again and began the long walk back to the camp site.

    -----------------

    When night fell that day, Jesse Ventura, Hungry-man, BONES and Kevin Douglas gathered around the brand new communications array that the Ayy-Lmaliums had constructed in the control deck of the ship. One of the ayyliums switched the array on and tested it out by sending an encoded message to Co-operative space, millions of light years away. A message on a nearby screen confirmed that the message had been sent, but that its system could not calculate when it would arrive.

    "Well that was pointless." Ventura grumbled. "Why'd we go into all the trouble of building a new communications system if it only transmits slightly faster than the last one?... wait a second, how'd you get to Meme World so fast in the first place, Douglas?"

    The laid-back aumm-trepreneur lifted his sunglasses up to mockingly stare at Ventura. "My ship can travel via portals. Portals go far."

    "Huh. Well then, maybe when we get this ship off the ground, you can get us a portal to Zrintch's place for us to fly through."

    "Ooh! No can do, sorry man."

    "Well why the hell not?"

    Douglas cleared his throat and straightened his collar. "Umm... well, like, I don't actually know where he lives. I get all my new assignments relayed through my ship's computer. I've never even met the guy, but my resume must have looked good enough for him to hire me anyway."

    "The little green aliens know where he lives, they'll give you the co-ordinates."

    The ayyliums shook their heads frantically and Douglas shuffled awkwardly in his seat. "Look, Jesse, I'm got some pretty impressive tech on my ship, but it can only create portals wide enough for me to go through. I gotta lot of baggage, y'know?"

    "God DAMN IT!" Ventura yelled, slamming his fist on a nearby table. BONES took his left arm off and poked the ex-governor with it, telling him to take it easy. Ventura sighed, and was about to retreat to his quarters, when Hungry-man displayed a rare moment of brilliance.

    "w8 a minite" The overweight, 'human' man blurted out in his Yorkshire accent, "don't u 'ave that dedicated ram or whateva the fock it woz? power the fockin' thing up wiv it!"

    Ventura looked at him and grinned. "Not bad. I'm starting to... well, 'like' is a bit strong, so... I'm starting to accept you, you strange, hungry man. You! Alien! Go get the Wam from the vault and bring it here!"

    The LGAM Ventura shouted at nodded and ran off. It returned a minute or so later with the ever-shifting, seemingly formless Dedotated Wam. Ventura grabbed the battery cover of the communications array and ripped it off with his bare hands. He then took its oversized batteries out and beckoned the alien to hand him the Wam. Just as he was about to ram the Wam into the power receiver, he stopped, and turned to the others for insight. "Uh... guys. I'm no technician, but won't this thing only be able to power one part of the ship at once?"

    "Who the hell knows?" BONES rattled. "The only expert we had on the Wam was that retarded dwarf, and he got eaten by Wiseau's dragon."

    Ventura bit his lip and looked between the Dedotated Wam and his loyal comrades. "Fuck it," he said, gripped the Wam with both hands, and pulled. The Dedotated Wam split in half, filling the room with blinding light. When the glare subsided, The group noticed that Ventura now held one half of the Wam in each hand, each one manifesting in reality as a slightly-less intense ball of light than it did when it was whole. Ventura put one half into the power receiver of the communications array, and handed the other half to one of the LGAMs for it to power up the engines with. The communications array started humming ecstatically, a sign that it had accepted the new power source. As if on cue, a message popped up on the screen that informed them that the message they had tried to send to Lord Zrintch earlier had now been received thanks to their signal boost.

    BONES gave Ventura a disapproving glare through his vacant eye sockets. "You're lucky that worked, old man. I'll let you off this time just because it did, but that could have gone horribly wrong. Imagine if it blew up in our faces!"

    "I took a gamble and it paid off. I'm JESSE VENTURA, luckiest man on the east coast!" Ventura grinned, and sat back down in his chair next to mr. skeltal.

    Kevin Douglas looked up from his smartphone. "So, Zrintch got our message. What now?"

    "Now we wait." BONES chattered.

    -----------------

    A couple hours later, a beeping noise alerted the weary leaders that the ship had received a video file. Kevin Douglas walked over to the computer and pressed play. The default screen that bore Zrintch's insignia was immediately replaced with a darkened video of the Sith Lord himself. The video opened with an extended cough, after which he smiled at the camera and put the tips of his fingers together, resting his elbows on the table in front of him.

    "Dongers," The grinch spoke in his usual, croaky voice. "You have done well. Few would so willingly let themselves be thrust into the unknown, to venture to a place where all that you know about the universe no longer applies. And now, you will do it all again. One of my informants has learned of a place that contains an artefact able to impose complete and utter balance between light and darkness within a chosen area. Its name is the Keruvim, and it will be vital to our cause. My informant tells me that it is kept on a planet named Vizima, not too far from your present location. Its co-ordinates will be downloaded to your ship's computer alongside this video file. As for the planet's defences, or those who guard the Keruvim... I know nothing, but I trust you will get the job done. To clarify, this mission, should you accept it, is for both strike teams... but I'm tripling the Dongers' pay as an extra incentive after the body count the last mission racked up. End transmission."

    The video cut out, and Ventura, BONES, and Hungry-man looked at each other with quiet anticipation. The LGAM from earlier returned to tell them that the co-ordinates to Vizima had been entered into the ship's database and that they had already calculated a flight pattern there.

    "And the engines?" BONES asked. "Is the Wam compatible?"

    The alien squeaked "Yes", and BONES got off his chair and did a happy little jig. After all this time, Dongers and Wangers alike were finally able to leave Meme World and venture into a new frontier. But could the same be said about the others on Meme World?

    -----------------

    Ventura and Douglas shook hands outside the ship as the latter prepared to leave Meme World in his own ship. While the ex-governor wasn't quite ready to forgive Douglas's reckless behaviour back at Supermax 429, he realized that his presence at least sped up the process of building the second ship for the Wang Gang, and that is something he should be thankful for.

    "Add me all on Facebook!" Douglas shouted down to the small crowd that had gathered around his ship as he climbed into the cockpit. "Every single fuckin' one of ya!"

    "I'm off the grid... but maybe one day." Ventura replied. Douglas gave him an army salute, and disappeared from view. The doors and windows of Douglas's ship locked up, its propulsion engines kicked in, and it lifted up off the ground and into the sky. After the crowd observed the ship shoot a portal into the sky which it then vanished into, they went back to whatever it was they were doing before. Ventura wondered why Big Man Tyrone had not sent them a message thanking them for their heroic efforts this time, so he figured that he must be swamped with video orders. He began to walk back towards the Dongers' ship, but paused when he heard someone shout his name. He turned around to see a white-skinned Terugan woman roll towards him in a wheelchair.

    "I'm Ventura. Have we met?"

    The woman squinted. "No, but someone told me your name. I heard that you're about to leave this place... whatever it is. I thought you were having difficulty with your engines?"

    "We got them fixed."

    "...Uh-huh. Is that why they're glowing a different colour now, and twice as bright as before?"

    "We... upgraded. Who exactly are you, again?"

    "Name's Ade. I run the TSS Jet-Ball II. You know, the ship that you guys kindly took inside your hangar when we blew up our warp core to save your asses back at Teruga Prime?"

    "Doesn't ring a bell."

    "Yeah. Figured it wouldn't. Well you might not care about me or my crew, but there's a war going on back home that you started, and last time I looked, you guys weren't exactly best friends with the ZFT either."

    "What's your point?"

    "I need to get me and my crew home. Not just to our families so they know that we're alive, but to make sure those evil bastards don't regain control of our planet. If you tell me what you did to your engines... or maybe just give me enough money to buy one from that selfish cow Kartouche... we can get back to Teruga Prime and make sure that the ZFT hold one less planet in their grip. It's a win-win for both of us!"

    Ventura took a deep breath and sat down on a nearby log. "Listen lady, the ZFT isn't really my business. I went in with my team and did what I was paid to do. It wasn't personal."

    "But you knew that you were doing the right thing!" Ade retorted. "I can see it in your eyes. You're not a soulless mercenary. You're a war hero. You fight for what is right, not just for cash in hand."

    The ex-governor shifted uncomfortably, but Ade continued laying into him, putting one of her cybernetic hands in his and wheeling herself closer. "You can save my people. All you have to do is help me."

    Ventura opened his mouth to respond, but ended up stammering instead and breaking away. Ade's expression turned from one of desperation to one of anger in an instant. "Fine! You don't wanna help me? I'll get Yon to do it instead!"

    When she began to wheel herself away, Ventura managed to spit his words out. "He's dead! Yon's dead..."

    "W-what...?" Ade gasped. She turned around again and put her hand over her mouth. "How?"

    "He died saving the people of this world from a corrupt monster. In doing so, we gained the source of his power, a mask that allows us to temporarily change reality around us. Because of him, we gained another artefact we can use to save the universe."

    "I... I see..." Ade mumbled. "I was hoping he would tell my people of his deeds, how he liberated my ship from the ZFT, how he braved the vacuum of space to destroy them, and how he selflessly took us on board as refugees. If they knew that one Terugan could do all that, it'd give them fresh hope for the future. Who will do it now?"

    Ventura gave an exasperated sigh, and retrieved a pen and a chequebook from his pocket. "How much is this new engine of yours?"

    Ade grinned. "I doubt Kartouche would let it go for anything less than three million credits. You know what musicians are like."

    "THREE MILL- You know what, fine. If it'll get that... alien... puppy-dog eye of yours to stop staring me down, fine." Ventura wrote out a cheque for three million to Brown Cow Productions, Kartouche's personal record label, and handed it over. Filled with relief, Ade grabbed his collar and pulled him in for a kiss. Once the moment had passed, the Terugan captain broke away and wheeled herself away to Kartouche's tent. Stunned, Ventura wiped his lips and turned around to see Ross Mandell smiling at him with a thumbs-up.

    "You tell anyone about this, and I'll feed you your balls for breakfast, Mandell." Ventura growled. Mandell simply laughed to himself and walked away.

    -----------------

    "Here's your bloody payment." Ade said, rubbing the cheque over Kartouche's snout. One of his bodyguards snatched it out of her hand, looked over it, and then held it up for the cow to see. Kartouche read it and mooed, after which one of his bodyguards looked at Ade and nodded. A grin spread over her face.

    "Alright. I'll tell the guys at base camp to bring it over." The bodyguard said nonchalantly. He then tapped on his earpiece and spoke into it. "Hey, it's Parkman. We've got the money for the engine, so you can tell the prisoners to bring it to the ship."

    Ten minutes or so later, the same defeated Ta'har from earlier returned, carrying the huge matter recycler on their backs like before. The crew of the Jet-Ball II climbed back inside the ship in order to open the docking ramp to allow the Ta'har to enter, and fix the place up. A couple of Terugans also carried Ade on her wheelchair inside the ship so she could monitor the core replacement.

    In just half an hour, the technicians on board succeeded in reprogramming the device to generate an infinite loop of energy that could power the ship in place of an engine. The Jet-Ball II righted itself almost immediately after activation, and it hovered above the strange, cushion-like surface it had previously been laying on when its new engine powered up. Sitting back in the captain's chair, Ade ordered the ship's pilots to fly it over to the Tybion survivors' camp, and then settle it down on the ground there one last time. As it did, the ship belonging to the Dongers/Wangers flew over the hills behind it and into the sky, entering hyperspace and disappearing. The Jet-Ball II's ramp extended in front of the camp, and Ade wheeled down it to greet its inhabitants. Buttman, Full-man, Pootisman and others approached the ship with awe, surprised to see it working again.

    "Alright," Ade began, "it looks like we're your last chance to leave this place, so I'm going to do what a man did for me about a week ago and extend a hand to you all, to come aboard in good faith. However, there's something we have to do before we drop you back on Tybion or wherever it is you came from. There's a war going on on our home planet right now, and we intend to fight in it. Each moment that passes, more of our people die, so this is when you choose. Will you stay here... wherever this is... or help us?"

    The crash survivors talked among themselves for a few minutes before they all came to their decisions. "I'm just waitin' for me mate," James said, signifying that he wanted to stay. Mr. Blobby and Pootisman seemed to be having the time of their lives, flapping about and screaming sentence-mixed obscenities, so Ade took that to mean that they were staying too. A group of Happy People declared that they were happier on Meme World than ever before, and Dolan agreed with them, with an axe hidden behind his back. Dennis, too, decided to stay, as he said he would find his own way back to the Milky Way if or when he was needed.

    However, some characters did step up to the opportunity to get back home, namely Hassan-ill-Sabah, Space Ryan Gosling, Buttman, Full-man, Caged Gorilla, Caged Pills, the TF2 Sniper, a HYDRA devotee and Bane and his men. Kartouche didn't really want to leave, but his bodyguards convinced him by telling him that Meme World didn't hold the kind of riches that were available to him back home. Confused Man was too confused to make a decision, so the HYDRA devotee took advantage of him by taking him with him, with a plan to induct him into HYDRA's ranks when they returned home. When she saw Bane gather his men and talk to them privately, Ade suspected that the big guy had a master plan too, but she didn't really care what it was as long as he didn't pose any immediate danger to her or her crew. With any luck, she thought she could direct Bane's strength towards her enemies, if not at all.

    Ade led her new allies up the ship's ramp, and it folded up behind them. The Jet-Ball II's repulsors kicked into gear and the vessel lifted off the ground and turned to point towards the sky. Hassan, Bane, Sniper and the others walked into the bridge to observe Meme World's sky, perhaps for the last time. Two Terugan crewmembers lifted Ade out of her wheelchair chair and put her down into the command chair that she belonged in.

    "Are you ready?"

    "Of coursh!" Bane said confidently, while holding the straps of his vest.

    "We don't have all bloody day!" Sniper agreed.

    Ade nodded, and gave the command. The Jet-Ball II's engines kicked into gear, causing the ship to vanish into hyperspace, leaving Meme World forever.

    -----------------

    A lightning bolt soared through the blackness of space in another part of the universe, followed by hundreds of blinking red lights, all travelling at the same speed. After countless hours of interstellar travel, the lights finally located, and homed in on, a planet within their scanning range: Dekan. The lights descended into the atmosphere of the murky green world, curving around the hemisphere and scanning for something else this time: Anime. Once their scans were complete, the lightning bolt struck the surface of the world and changed into a human-sized figure. Boltman had arrived.

    The yellow fellow's permanent, exaggerated grin masked his disappointment as he checked the results of the scan. No anime characters, items or plot elements had been detected anywhere on the planet. His loyal army of YONBOTS landed behind him, waiting for instruction. Just as he was about to give the command to leave the planet, he noticed what was above the swamp in front of him: a floating steampunk-styled ship that appeared to be encased within some kind of enormous bubble. A Bullet Bill-style face was scrawled messily onto the front of the ship, with various pictures of weapons and explosives painted over the rest. A cyborg girl with cartoonish proportions stood at the front of the ship, aiming an oversized revolver at a purple-clothed woman, frozen in mid-air with an energy ball forming in her hand. Boltman cared not about these bizarre characters, or even how they came to be trapped in some kind of time-bubble, but all the drawings of weapons scrawled over the ship caught his attention. While his YONBOT allies were powerful, they had a finite amount of ammunition, so this might be a good place to stock up.

    Boltman scanned the bubble and the ground around it, looking for a way to get inside the ship. A moment passed, and Boltman  detected a small metal box hidden in the grass nearby. He walked over, picked it up, and examined in an attempt to find out what it was. Unfortunately, the box seemed to be made out of a substance unknown to him, with the only words written on it translating to "Property of the Users". Boltman tossed it in front of him and destroyed it with his eyebeams, creating a small explosion.

    At that moment, the time-bubble collapsed, and the figures trapped inside it resumed their fight. The purple woman threw the blast of magical energy she had been charging at the cyborg-girl at the same time she fired her revolver. The bullet from the revolver tore straight through the woman's head, killing her instantly, while the cyborg-girl still had time to jump over her dead opponent's magic blast. The blast struck a part of the ship, causing only minor damage. When cyborg-girl landed back on her feet, she immediately swung the revolver towards Boltman and his army.

    "Who in the hell are you? I ain't hear sneak up on me. Nobody sneaks up on me!" She squeaked.

    A list of optional voice responses formed in Boltman's robotic mind, Terminator-style. Not really being bothered to think, he chose a random one from the list. "Fuck you asshole!"

    "Oh, so you wanna fight, do ya?" The girl goaded. "Hey Double, come take a look at these losers!"

    What appeared to be a nun approached the boat's railings, coming into the YONBOTS' view. She looked over the side and frowned.

    "Give us your weapons." Boltman said robotically while telepathically commanding the YONBOTS to aim their own.

    "Tell ya what. If you can fight me one-on-one, and win, I'll give you one of my best. How's that sound?" The cyborg-girl said, jumping over the rail of the ship and landing in front of the yellow fellow. She grinned, and spun around her revolver in anticipation.

    Boltman responded by raising a hand and firing a lightning bolt at her face. Upon impact, the girl's head exploded, and her lifeless body stumbled backwards into a murky puddle. "No."

    A shocked silence fell over the swamp for a few moments while Double, the nun, took in what just happened. Boltman's eyes glowed through his sunglasses, and he floated up towards the ship, generating another lightning bolt in his hand. Double snapped back to reality and started to transform. The nun form was torn away to reveal a writhing, floating mass of flesh and bone that looked like three or so humans fused together, with one single eye on the side of its head.

    The YONBOT army flew above the ship, behind their leader, to observe the coming battle. Boltman commanded them to charge their weapons and fire at the monster, but they found themselves unable to. Their systems were struck with an unknown error linked to their facial recognition software. Apparently, their programming prevented them from firing upon anything that had one eye in the head region.

    Their hesitation was bad news for Boltman. When he was distracted trying to work out what caused his minions to stop in their tracks, the right side of Boltman's chest was ripped upon by a spiky, fleshy tentacle owned by Double. The tentacle swung again, preparing for another strike, but this time it had Boltman's attention. He grabbed it with his left hand mid-swing and severed it from the main entity with his eyebeams. When Double screamed in pain, he flung the lightning bolt in his right hand like a javelin. The bolt hit the entity in the midsection, causing a part of it to explode in a shower of blood. The rest of Double flung itself forward at the YONBOTS' leader, and Boltman met the challenge. The two titans grappled in mid-air, exchanging punches and kicks. Double tried to draw Boltman into its body with more of its tentacles, but he simply ripped them off either with his eyebeams or brute force. Boltman attempted to fly out so that he could bombard the monster with lightning bolts from above, but it grabbed his leg and slammed him into the floor of the ship's deck. He rolled onto his back, grabbed the cloth covering the monster's stomach, and ripped it off, exposing four additional eyes bursting out of it. Neither Double nor Boltman realized it, but the yellow fellow had won.

    Now that the additional eyes of Double had been exposed, the YONBOTS realized that it was not a monocular creature, and therefore, was safe to purge with extreme prejudice. The mechanical irises of the robots powered up, and hundreds of eyebeams simultaneously laid into the monster, freeing Boltman from its grasp. Double screamed as it was blasted against the metallic railings of the ship, and when it was heated enough, exploded into a shower of gore. Boltman stood up and did a victory dance, as did the YONBOTS in the air.

    Over the next few minutes, the interior of the ship was breached and raided of all its weapons and ammunition. The YONBOTS, now equipped with a wide variety of oversized explosive weapons, flew into the sky as their leader detonated the rest behind him. While Boltman had not purged any anime-related things today, he had at least developed a deeper understanding of his minions, as well as supplied them with extra weaponry. "It's a good thing they don't know I'm not blind in one eye," he thought, wondering if they would still be as loyal to him if they knew the truth. As Boltman exited the atmosphere of Dekan with his army, he transformed into his lightning-bolt form, and shot into space, bound for parts unknown.

    -----------------

    Boltman passed by a great many things while travelling through space. One of those things was a pitch-black sphere, about the size of a caravan, unmoving from its place in the abyss. This peace was interrupted when an interdimensional portal opened beside it and a dark, humanoid figure emerged. The figure rested both his hands on the sphere, and took a deep breath of nothingness.

    "So it is true," the figure thought, "Eclipse has succumbed to darkness. How ironic."

    Reaching inside his pitch-black robes, Genetoes took out what looked like a lighter and flicked it. A flame burned despite the absence of air. The Time Guardian-turned-Destroyer held the flame to Eclipse's frozen shell. Within moments, the dormant Living Star caught on fire, his aura reignited. Eclipse roared, and the fire on his skin was drawn towards his face, with the flames forming an eyes and mouth for him to see through. Eclipse turned to Genetoes and looked him up and down.

    "Welcome back, master." Genetoes said telepathically. "We are needed again."

    -----------------

    One week later...

    A shadowed figure sat in a darkened room, watching a news report on a modified television set. He clicked his fingers over the side of his chair, and what looked like a cross between an anthropomorphic cat and a rabbit walked up to him to give him a bottle of beer. The figure in the chair snatched the bottle, broke the cap off, took a swig, and gestured to the TV. "What do you think about this, then?"

    "Why the fuck should I care?" the cat-rabbit creature spoke. "Fucking humans. I hate humans so fucking much. I wish they'd just fucking die with their... smooth skin and fancy clothes! Scum of the fucking universe."

    The creature then grabbed the carpet and started coughing. After a few moments, it coughed out a hairball covered in poisonous slime. "See? That's how sick they make me."

    "I like their women. Fine-ass bitches." the figure in the chair said. "Also, you better clean that shit up."

    The cat-rabbit growled and fetched some disinfectant and a pan to clean its mess up with. When the deed was done, the creature left the room, leaving the figure in the chair to focus on the TV.

    "This is Neil Matheson, reporting to you live from the Galactic Government Headquarters!" the reporter shouted amid a crowd of sobbing women, just outside a large door with a sign that read 'KONG'. "For those of you just tuning in, there has been an attack on the Galactic Government's headquarters in deep space. We've been allowed access to the crime scene, but... it isn't pretty, so those of you who are... sensitive, look away now. We're gonna take a look."

    The figure in the chair took another swig of his beer and watched the reporter push past the women and enter the room. The once-immaculately decorated office of Commander-in-Chief Kong had been destroyed. The large window at the end of it that was overlooking a planet had been smashed by someone, likely in an attempt to escape, but had since been pressurized so that nothing else in the room was sucked out into space. It was then that the cameraman turned to look at Kong's desk. The hulking titan of a man was sprawled over his desk, deceased, with a large metallic lightning bolt embedded in his back. The cameraman turned to look at the wall beside him. A rushed drawing of Boltman's face covered it, with the caption "IT BEGINS".

    Back in the darkened room, the figure in the chair crushed the now-empty beer bottle in his hand. He rose up, revealing his head to be long, white and pointed.

    "Boltman... you son of a bitch." Moonman said, leaning forward to press the "off" button on the TV with his pointed head. He then sat back down, crossed his legs and stroked his curved chin with a smug and contemplative smile. The Racist Poison Rabbit Entity Cat re-entered the room, and raised a furry eyebrow at him.

    "Did you say Boltman?"

    "Yes. Tell my agent the next album will have to wait. We've got more important work to do." Moonman said, as he picked up the M4A1 assault rifle next to his chair and cocked it.


    _________________
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    Klak
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:41 pm

    I know it's been months since our last chapter, but here we are!

    Chapter 8: The Enemy of My Enemy….

    In an indiscriminate place in the universe, three beings convened for the purpose of discussing important matters of space-time. They were known as the Chousin, hyperdimensional entities tasked by The Architect himself to maintain the Omniverse so that the Users could focus on developing their characters.  Each of the three entities was tasked with controlling a specific part of the Users’ virtual creation: Washu supervised space, Tsunami oversaw time, and Tokimi maintained balance. They were incredibly powerful when united, but not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent, for they had limitations. For example, they were virtually powerless in the User World, and even more so in the World Beyond (a realm the Users only referred to as “IRL”). Additionally, they could only limit themselves to a handful of universes at a time, sometimes completely blocking themselves from other realms due to their limited perception (the Dark Universe being an example of a world largely untouched by the Chousin). Finally, there were fixed Things in each of their purviews that they could not override without permissions from the Users: Washu could not remove fixed objects in space, Tsunami could not prevent predetermined events in time, Tokimi could not remove preset arbiters. Thus, there were checks and balances when it came to the Chousin.

    The Chousin knew that their obligations and limits would be tested, for the multiverse was facing a crisis. While Malygos’ ascent deeply concerned them, the mage’s descent assuaged the women’s fears. But this crisis was troubling for its implications were catastrophic.

    “His name is Mazkertis,” said Tsunami, breaking the silence. “All I’ve learned about him is that he’s from the Dark Mirror Universe, and that he’s a human wizard. The Users won’t let me look into that timeline, but we know that 50 years ago, he tried to obtain the Keruvim to power a spell that would rewrite history to his liking. The Dark Mirror version of Klak, known to us as D-Klak, was tasked by the Great Beings to stop him. He assembled a group of heroes that included our good friend the Zev of the prime universe, and fought the wizard in a brutal battle. Mazkertis’ vocal cords were damaged, and he was left mute after the incident. Once arrested, the Great Beings’ sentenced him to life in prison, placing him in a nether cell between our universe and the Dark Mirror universe, and occasionally transferring him to a Supermax prison. Uterio di Armechio pulled some strings and put his son, Figlio di Armechio, in charge of psychological analysis, leading our wizard friend to become a victim of cruel experimentation that drove him further insane.”

    “And now he’s escaped,” Washu replied, “He’s been rampaging all over the place, killing hundreds.”

    “Right,” said Tsunami, nodding. “Apparently he needs life force and superpowers to fuel his spells. He wants to erase D-Klak and our Klak from existence. That means that the Uterio War, a fixed event in time, will be ten times worse. Same thing with Pandorica and Malygos’ Ascension.”

    “If memory serves, he has aligned himself with Gabriel Ascheron as well,” Tokimi added. “I bet he’s willing to go back in time and make him emperor of the universe!”

    “And it gets worse,” said Tsunami. “The timeline is already fragile thanks to F-Klak, F-Blackout, and Ynot.”

    She referred to the war between Klak’s futuristic clone and the Blackout from the future that essentially consisted of travelling to various moments in time to manipulate events to their liking, causing various paradoxes here and there. And Ynot undid Klak’s death in a massive battle known as Ragnarok using time travel.

    “With Mazkertis’ chronal powers and his blatant time manipulation,” continued Tsunami, “we risk seeing the timeline unravel itself. Past, present, and future will all occur at once.”

    “That explains all the strange apparitions of figures from various points in time that keep appearing everywhere,” said Washu. “I’m almost certain I saw The Spirit walking around on Earth yesterday. If this gets out of hand the Users will intervene and just reboot everything. We have to stop Mazkertis. What are the Time Guardians doing?”

    “They’ve had their hands tied with other issues, and the only man they sent to take on Mazkertis disappeared,” replied Tsunami with a somber tone. “Luckily, Blackout, Malygos, Ynot, The Claws of the Phoenix, and many others have joined forces to stop him.”

    “You know we can’t count on them,” spat out Washu. “We have to act soon.”

    “Now, now, Washu. I’m sure they’ll be fine if we help them out,” said Tokimi with a smile. “What about the other Users?”

    “User Sarge is exploring reality, The Architect is on some kind of mission, Users Klak, Kon, Zev, and Nif are all working on a secret project of sorts. The others are busy too,” said Washu, shaking her head. “How do you see this turning out, Tsunami?”

    Tsunami could often see glimpses of the future, but when it came to beings that could manipulate time, she could only see possible destinies, not those that are set in stone.

    “Anything can happen. We have to bide our time,” she replied, shaking her head.

    “Right. We wait and see, and think strategically. If we must strike, we will do so furiously.”

    ---

    OOS: Note, the following two sections of this chapter take place on the same day as the struggle for the Keruvim on Shinar-Karana.

    Klak landed on Neo Z’traa, anxious to find leads. He had teleported to the surface from Anzu’s ship, which was in orbit (it avoided landing to prevent any radiation getting on it).  As he looked around, he saw three individuals approaching. Klak ran over towards them, and was shocked to find that two of them were Makuta.

    “You,” said Caiaphus, his voice a blend of hatred and joy. “YOU!”

    “I recognize that voice,” replied Klak. “Oh, no. CAIAPHUS?! And you, you’re Ricochet, aren’t you? The one everyone wanted to kill? I’m not even going to ask how you two are alive.”

    “Indeed, I was nearly destroyed on Ragnarok,” Caiaphus paused, his face freezing for a moment in fear. “But a very generous User restored me.”

    “Friend of yours?” asked Max-Eli, slowly reaching for his weapon.

    “Since when do Vrai work with Makuta,” Klak retorted, slowly charging a light blast in his hand. Ricochet pulled out a weapon of his own, scowling at his potential foe.

    “Now then, now then,” Caiaphus said, grinning. “Let us calm ourselves, we can come to an understanding. Can’t we, Klak?”

    “Oh please, I don’t have time for your games, Caiaphus,” Klak answered. “I’m busy with someone who is overshadowing you: a tall, black-robed wizard with a white mask. Have you seen him?”

    “Astonishing, really,” Caiaphus replied with a sneer. “You believe that I can be overshadowed.  You see, Klak, there are many variations of you across the Omniverse, and if there is one truth regarding every single one of them it’s this: for every Klak, there is me. Order and chaos, Klak and Caiaphus. Our destinies are forever intertwined, and thus, I am one of the few who is allowed to destroy you, other than you yourself of course.”

    Klak shook his head.

    “I have forgiven you for many things, but do not for one second mistake that for cowardice or necessity,” he said. “What are you getting at anyway?”

    “I will assist you against this new enemy,” Caiaphus said. “He landed on this very planet not long ago, seemed to be looking for something, but was disappointed when he did not find it.”

    “Sure, you can join us,” Klak responded, then grinned. “Blackout did, so why can’t you?”

    Ricochet widened his eyes at how accepting Klak seemed. Caiaphus sighed angrily upon hearing Blackout’s name. Max-Eli said nothing, for he was still suspicious of Klak, his hand remaining on his weapon.

    “Max-Eli, keep the Vrai forces at bay. Ricochet and I will solve the problem and return soon,” the Makuta ordered.

    As he pondered the wisdom of this decision, Klak received word from a servant of Azrael that Etende, member of the Claws of the Phoenix, was alive, and would meet with them soon. The alliance against Mazkertis was growing and his lost friends were returning, but Klak was wondering whether history will deem it wise they had to side with psychopaths like Caiaphus to get things done.

    --

    Kakamu and Nadle were silent on their trip to Hei Fon 4. The former refused to speak to the latter because of a revelation he found disgusting: Nadle had secretly been communicating with David Robert Jones of ZFT, a man whose schemes had plagued many and nearly put Kakamu and his son Trantoshen in prison. It was unbelievable

    They were taken to the planet by a disguised Takemikazuchi transport as they were avoiding detection. If HYDRA were able to get its agents into Hei Fon, then, in Nadle and Kakamu’s mind, the Republic of Luria would have spies of their own running around.

    It was not until Kakamu hailed a streetcar that they spoke to one another, barely edging out a conversation.

    “Check it out,” he said ironically, pointing to the car. “One is all we need, Nadle.”

    Another period of silence followed once they entered and smiled at the cab driver that recognized the two as famous heroes. Nadle told him of their destination, using the chance to spark a conversation with his associate.

    “At some point we’ll have to address the Kraawa in the room, Kakamu,” said Nadle.

    “We’re in a cab,” replied Kakamu, rolling his eyes. “Look, David Robert Jones threatened my family. That is not something I take lightly. And to see you align yourself with him is just sickening! I thought better of you, Nadle! You were one of the first Makuta, you set trends all of us wanted to follow, but like many of your brethren you fell to darkness. Just when you were climbing into the light, you forsake it with this.”

    “It was for the greater good, Kakamu,” said Nadle, calmly. “He came to me after Ragnarok and we discussed Klak’s future. You know exactly what might happen. It wasn’t an alliance, it was a temporary truce.”

    He leaned forward to emphasize his point.

    “Just like you, I know what horrors that man is capable of, and what the sins of his past are. But I did then what we’ve done now: work together with people like Jones, Blackout, and Malygos to accomplish something grander, far beyond ourselves. We aligned with them to prevent evils like Mazkertis or Uterio. Jones and I in turn considered allowing F-Klak’s rise to come to pass simply because it was a better alternative. Those were the choices we’ve had to make” Nadle said, and then paused. “But I made a mistake. I failed to consider whether or not it would hurt my friends, being so shortsighted and arrogant to think that I could dodge the consequences because I wanted to be some sort of universal guardian. And for that, Kakamu, I apologize.  I am sorry for being so foolish, and I hope you forgive me.”

    Kakamu pondered the apology, and realized he had to do the virtuous thing. Nadle was his friend, and allowing vengeance to consume him would, in the end, make him just like Mazkertis and no different from David Robert Jones.

    “I forgive you Nadle. But promise me something….”

    “Thank you,” replied Nadle with a smile. “What is it?”

    “We will stop Mazkertis, we will stop Blackout, Malygos, David Robert Jones, their allies, and the people who kidnapped me…all of them….for justice,” stated Kakamu. “And we will stop Klak from ever turning too.”

    “Of course, Kakamu,” Nadle said, his face beaming. “We will.”

    The cab arrived at their destination, and both Makuta emerged, paying their driver handsomely. They entered the strange pub-like structure, finding several outlandish characters sitting at various tables, each attending to a different task. They all immediately looked up once Kakamu and Nadle entered, and waved at them, for they all recognized the pair.

    “It’s been too long,” shouted one of the characters, a grin widening on his face. He was a tall and lean man, with slightly messy, dark brown hair and jade green eyes. “How have you two been?”

    This man, despite his laid-back appearance, simple clothes, and carefree demeanor, was royalty, for he was the heir to the Juraian throne. He was also a well-known hero and freelancer, his exploits known far and wide throughout the universe under his just-as-infamous name: Zev Raregroove. He and all those of his crew had recently returned from various missions all recorded in multiple places. They were all there, Namah, Prudence, Mistgun, Viriathus, and many more.

    Even Nu-13, who normally wasn’t associated with the Conquistadores, was present. She was hoping to rally the Conquistadores around the idea of a mission to steal Klak’s toothbrush. Prudence had spent the past hour convincing her that Makuta barely need to brush their teeth when Nadle and Kakamu had walked in.

    “Here and there, Zev,” replied Kakamu. “Here and there!”

    Everyone embraced each other. Even Prudence Franklin, Viriathus, and Namah came by to say hello. The Conquistadores then went back to whatever they were doing, and Zev, Nadle, and Kakamu continued to chat. The pub became rather noisy.

    “Alda, dear, do me a favor and get something for ‘em,” said Zev to a blond woman next to him.

    Alda di Armechio, sister of Figlio di Armechio, and famous sapients-rights activist, smiled and nodded. Her brother had attempted to coerce her into spying on Zev for HYDRA, but she revealed her dire circumstance to the Juraian, who offered to take her under his wing if she assumed the cover of one of his Conquistadors. Many people often noted that she looked just like the famous activist, but they all shrugged it off as a coincidence (not that they would dare get lippy, they wouldn’t want to deal with Namah’s temper). Alda was probably the most servile, often being the first to offer one of Zev’s guests a drink or hors d'oeuvres. This was something that everyone else lamented, for they firmly believed that it would eventually make Zev even lazier.

    “Tell me something,” said Zev, his voice changing to an inquisitive tone. “You aren’t just here visiting, are you? Malygos’ ascent ended, but I bet there’s more going on.”

    “I wish it were that, Zev,” responded Nadle, gravely. “I’m afraid there’s a problem.”

    “Figures,” said Vi, rolling her eyes. “Lots of people screwing up out there in the damned multiverse.”

    “It’s much worse than that. I’ll get right to the heart of the matter,” Nadle said. “Mazkertis has escaped from his prison.”

    Silence spread throughout the pub, all conversations coming to a grinding halt. Even Mistgun, the brave and stoic warrior who faced evil hordes on various worlds unperturbed, widened his eyes in shock.

    “It’s been many years since I’ve heard that name. Crap,” Zev replied, his voice reaching a grave and serious tone. “Fifty years of imprisonment under the Great Beings must have done a number on him. He must be out for revenge.”

    “Didn’t you beat him before, Zev?” asked Prudence, hoping to cheer things up. “We can definitely do it again!”

    “With an army, Prudence,” he said, retaining his tone. “All of us were strong, and even then it was a brutal battle. I know I’ve told the story many times, yes, but it bears repeating. Our other enemies like Ravat may be just as brutal, but they know when to quit. If they get defeated, they retreat to fight another day. They’ll even exercise restraint because they either fear us, or want to keep our rivalry alive. But Mazkertis? He is a persistent person, full of rage, and stubborn. He’ll keep coming at you no matter how many times you’ve knocked him down. He isn’t intimidated. And if you’re alive after an encounter with him, you know it’s because he doesn’t want to kill you, but will if he has to. The man can throw a mean punch and use powerful magic from another universe, and who knows just what kind of Dying Will Flame he could produce.”

    “Yes,” said Nadle. “But we have an army, and all it needs is you. We have D-Klak who came in from the past, and you’re the only other person we know who has faced Mazkertis and defeated him.”

    “D-Klak! He lives!” Zev yelled, smiling. “Always a silverlining. I’ll go with you, for the sake of all of us, but I’m doing it alone.”

    “What?! Are you crazy?” cried Namah. “We weren’t there 50 years ago, and we’re not making the same mistake again.”

    “I couldn’t do that. I’ll be putting you all in danger,” Zev said morosely.

    “When has that ever stopped you, Zev?” replied Prudence, raising an eyebrow. “Besides, if you thought we would be complacent while you stepped in to fight Mazkertis, then you don’t know us at all.”

    “I have help, Prudence,” noted Zev.

    “But you’ll need more,” Namah said. “Nu-13, Prudence and I will go with you, Nadle, and Kakamu.”

    “She’s right,” added Mistgun. “The rest of us will wait as back up, ready to dispatch at a moment’s notice.”

    Namah placed her hand on Zev’s shoulder, and smiled. Her eyes reassured him as he remembered an old adage: ‘Everything will turn out alright in the end.’

    “Well,” Zev concluded. “The Conquistadores are with you.”

    “Excellent,” replied Kakamu. “The more the merrier!”

    --

    OOS: These next two sections take place on the same day as Mazkertis’s battle with Drepp, and Howard’s assassination.

    Huriel and Orion Pax moved slowly through the darkness, dragging a damaged Black Phantom with them. They silently entered Angonce’s prison and turned on all available lights. The caged Great Being spluttered and woke up, mumbling to himself.

    “Who is it? What do you want?” he croaked.

    “Angonce, it is I, Huriel. Orion Pax is with me.”

    “What? Come here to mock me, have you?” Angonce moaned.

    “No, my lord. Have you not heard the news? Word of TPK’s death has spread like wildfire. Coro brought his corpse for burial, and Ganos-Lal quickly ascended to become the leader of the Council of the Great Beings. She’s holding a large funeral for him,” Huriel said, raising an eyebrow. “Interestingly enough, she is inviting back everyone TPK ever exiled, save for you. That said I have sensed that many are planning takeovers of their own. Star and Walternate have been having several private meetings. Viruel was witnessed conversing with that strange Spherus Magnan, Koranis, and so on and so forth. Orion Pax and I have been having our own conversations.”

    He turned to Orion Pax, who nodded.

    “And?” spat Angonce.

    “And we believe that our people are vulnerable. Such chaos would destroy our already fragile empire. That wench Nu may start to get herself involved again, though she went into a hiatus after the war. We need a charismatic individual to unite us once more, not exile the opposition, one who points to the best parts of our past as a blueprint of the future, not brings uncertainty to everything. We need you, Angonce.”

    “We beseech you, my lord,“ added Orion Pax. “Return and take what has been stolen from you. We were wrong. You can lead us to a new age!”

    “Yes,” said Angonce, a devilish smile creeping onto his tired face. “This foolishness has gone on long enough. Mazkertis is loose, and someone needs to vanquish him. They have referred to us as the Great Beings for a reason. Release me from my prison.”

    Orion Pax aimed his weapon at Black Phantom’s head. The robot explained how to release Angonce, and Huriel followed the instructions.

    “I have brought TPK’s top assassin to aid us in revealing all of Ganos-Lal’s secrets,” explained Huriel. “He is a gift to you, as part of our new relationship.”

    “A new pet,” said Angonce, grinning. He had gone rather mad after being imprisoned by TPK and tortured by Figlio di Armechio, but was still lucid enough to be composed during all of this.

    “Who is your master, robot?!” barked Pax.

    In truth, Black Phantom was merely pretending to go along with all this. His body almost entirely deactivated, making him appear vulnerable, but his mind was still intact, along with any failsafe defense mechanisms that had reactivated once Coro left him alone. The droid wanted to see just what Huriel and Orion Pax were up to. Now that they were planning to overthrow Ganos Lal, he concluded that they had to be stopped. It was Phantom’s last pledge to TPK, a tribute to the memory of his former leader. The Great Beings would decide their own destiny after this, but right now, someone had to intervene. Black Phantom would sacrifice plenty, but it was worth it.

    “My master is dead, and so are you,” he replied.

    A beeping noise came from Black Phantom’s chest. He then appeared to eject something from his back. Before anyone could react, the bomb hidden inside of the android exploded, and the prison was ripped apart. Angonce and his allies were killed instantly. The flames burned whatever had remained, as several Great Beings rushed towards it in the night. One of them swore they saw a snake-like creature dart away from the burning building, but when they blinked it was gone.

    --

    Elsewhere, on Meme World, the Heckler, the Heller, and Stardust continued their vicious battle. All landed blows on each other, as even the Super Wizard could not withstand the power of not giving a heck.

    Suddenly, the Heller realized his place in the universe. Edginess was passé, for he was alienating his brother, and was dishonoring his family name. He had to stop giving a heck about his cold, bitter hatred and his desire to be edgy. Besides, there were already too many “mortal enemy” duos in the universe--The Pain Brothers (who, unbeknownst the Heller, had already teleported to another universe), Boltman and Moonman—one would not be missed.

    “Bro, we gotta do it…. We just gotta combine and kill Stardust. I hate that Mother F***er...” he said to The Heckler, his brother.

    “Merge? But no, you might die!” replied The Heckler. If there was one thing he cared about in all of existence, it was his brother. He gave a heck for the first time in eons.

    “Nah, heh,“ replied Heller. “My consciousness will be stored inside and you’ll have my powers, and we can split anytime we want. It’s okay as heck, haha.”

    “Ok,” said his brother.

    “Stop it!” bellowed Stardust in his thundering voice, hoping to resume their battle.

    The brothers ignored him and began to emit heckless radiation. A bright yellow and red glow filled the valley, and seconds later, a golden being stood where The Heller and The Heckler once were. The Heckumvirate, an incredibly powerful being so devoid of all hecks it seemed like he was edgy and different, but in reality, he didn’t care.

    Suddenly, a burly man with a red shirt, a belt, and jeans walked up to them, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. On his shirt the Heckumvirate and Stardust could read a badge saying ‘Hi, I’m Gub C.G. Giy’. Apparently he had been wandering around, and had stumbled upon such chaos.

    “Oh shoot, I’m sorry,“ he said calmly.

    “Sorry for what,” replied the Heckumvirate. “Our daddy taught us to never be ashamed of our hecks, pretty much because they don’t exist.“

    “Oh, well, daddy gave you good advice,” Gub said.

    “You are now under the power of STARDUST!” bellowed the Super Wizard.

    “Mmmm!” replied Gub C.G. Giy, as he was impressed by Stardust’s powerful aura.

    Stardust pulled out a strange raygun and fired it at Gub. He disappeared, but had not died. Wherever he was, he was facing some sort of punishment for interrupting them.

    The Heckumvirate laughed at Stardust, and summoned several orbs, each showing sequences of events. One had a child practicing for some sort of presentation, whispering to himself each “number” and what phrase it corresponded to. Another had a man shouting ‘GOOD NIGHT’ to impress a female, known only as “Bhaabiat.” Both of these images disappeared, allowing Stardust to focus on another, more important sequences. This one showed Mazkertis terrorizing a planet.

    “You leave and stop him, you’ll no longer give a heck about me,” explained the Heckumvirate. “You try to stop me, and you won’t give a darn about him. Either way, you lose a heck, and I will win. It’s a paradox, you see.”

    Stardust’s stoic face did not fall for such baiting games. He smacked the Heckumvirate to the ground, and their battle continued.

    --

    On the Dong Squad’s vessel, somewhere in outer space, Jesse Ventura and Ross Mandell were engaged in a heated argument over who had a more valuable role in the team.

    “You have a small role compared to my large governing position!” yelled Jesse Ventura.

    “That’s totally false,” replied Mandell. “I’m about 50 times more important than you!“

    “I don’t think s-”

    Bill Wilson, CIA, interjected, hoping to keep the peace.

    “The flight plan BONES just filed with the Squad lists ALL of you!“ he said.

    “You interrupt me again little guy, and I’ll kick your ass!” yelled Ventura.

    “You’re a big guy,“ replied CIA, taunting Jesse.

    “Most definitely!” said the former governor. He shook his head and left the room while mumbling that he had to get out of here. Randolph Moloch followed him.

    “Tommy Wiseau was nothing,” Wilson warned. “Divided, you Dongers won’t last a day in the SCORCH!”

    Ross Mandell sighed, for he knew that without friendship, none of the squads could take the scourch of battle.

    Jesse Ventura stormed down the corridor while looking at his companion, Randolph.

    “Everything Ross Mandell was saying was bullshit. No one’s more important that Jesse Ventura! You got that?” he asked.  “Good.”

    “What about Yon or BONES, or Zrintch?” Moloch said, slightly trembling in fear of the angry conspiracy theorist.

    “Ah, yeah,” Jesse said, shaking his head. He turned around and went back into the room, and apologized in the best way he could. Ross Mandell did the same, saying that it was their time, and that they were friends.

    --

    OOS: This section takes place a week after the previous events.

    The most famous bar this side of the Helix Nebula was in a star system near Drackovack, on the moon of the planet Alaine. The moon had its own hospitable atmosphere, attracting a profitable mining industry in addition to such a renowned drinking establishment. After the Uterio War, many hotel agencies set up shop, taking advantage of tourists’ interest in Alaine as a planet that saw conflict on its grounds. Anyone interested could take a spaceship down from the moon to the planet’s surface below to tour The Nakamura, and other sights. There were also rumors that many Liquid Metalliconite pirates would visit the moon to expedite a visit to the icy planet, the former home of their fallen Pirate Lord, Treskis.

    There, K'Theenya relaxed with her good frenemy, alcohol. She had spent the past week training and teaching Diru and Kithlara, her students, and that was a workout in of itself. Sure, it was nowhere near as exhilarating as that time when Mink vandalized a planet, but it was definitely something that required a miniature vacation of sorts. K’theenya turned to a man she had met at the establishment, with whom she would often crack jokes and laugh the night away.

    “So a priest, a cat, and a Buddhist Jew-wait…no,” she said, with a confused look on her face. “No, no, wait, I got one. There’s this bri-oh forget it. I don’t remember it.”

    “Aww, well, maybe it’s just me,” he replied in disappointment. He opened the bottle of ALILA brand whiskey, and then closed it. “But all I care about are brick jokes!”

    The man’s name was 18-LA, and K’theenya had assumed he was some kind of cyborg given the combination of a robotic name with middle-aged looks and an ability to consume liquids and solids. That said, he was very eccentric, often lamenting about how things were much better back in the day. He also was in the advertising business, and his commercials were always bizarre.

    18-LA shook his head, and wrung his hand in the air.

    “Whatever happened to jokes? So many of them don’t make any sense, and you can hardly tell what anyone’s saying,” he lamented. “Save for us, of course.”

    A waiter came by and served some bar snacks at their table. 18LA continued on his rant about the degeneration of things he liked.

    “Whatever happened to restaurants? So many places just give you a plate with food in the middle. Personally, I like food under the plate with a big shirt in the middle.”

    He muttered something about something else he likes to eat, then munched on the snack. K’theenya chuckled awkwardly and looked away as the band played a catchy saxophone tune. She needed better friends.

    Suddenly, K’theenya heard screaming outside. She grit her teeth. Everything is fine she thought. Besides, I’m on vacation. I couldn’t possibly…

    The screams continued. The urge to investigate overwhelmed K’theenya, and she propelled herself from her seat, bursting out from the bar. She spun her head, seeing a man dressed in a black cloak with a white mask that had an emblem in its center. His cloak and cowl covered nearly his entire body, revealing only his hands that were encased in a pair of dark gloves with runic inscriptions on them. The costume smelled fresh, as though it had been recently repaired. K’theenya sensed an immense magical power emanating him, but at the same time, she noticed something tugging at her own ability, as though someone was trying to absorb it. Whoever he was, he was definitely a threat. He had attacked several civilians, absorbing the life force of a few. A group of policemen ran at him, firing their blasters. He threw a shield up, blocking the blasts, and before the officers could react, he came behind them. One by one they fell.

    K’theenya spread her wings and flew quickly at this villain. He turned his head, his frightening gaze meeting hers. They were about to clash, when a wave of chaos energy knocked the kitsune hybrid back.

    “Oh crap,” said K’theenya after crashing to the ground, realizing who had just appeared. It was Blue (wiki page), the demon who, for some reason, took the form of a cat.

    Blue stood where K’theenya used to be, grinning while looking at Mazkertis. She felt something entering her mind, like a cold hand peeling back the folds of her brain. Blue withstood it to the best of her ability. She then heard a voice in her mind; apparently, the newcomer liked to communicate telepathically.

    Be gone. I have no quarrel with either of you.,” he ‘said’.

    “You have a lot of spunk showing up here and messing around like this,” she replied out loud. “I like that! What’s your name?”

    Mazkertis,” said the man. “I wish to cast a spell that will rewrite history and end the Klak of my universe, an evil man who cost me my voice. More timelines can be changed in exchange for aiding me.

    “Oh, what the hell. Sure, let’s talk about it. Should be fun,” responded Blue, smiling.

    Mazkertis raised his arms, and in seconds, both he and Blue disappeared. K’theenya cursed to herself, knowing that she should have run after them.

    Klak. I remember a Klak, she thought. I think he’s dead, but I might as well find him. This seems serious.

    She looked at a nearby corpse, and cringed at its death throes. It was serious. Mazkertis would not stop until his goals would be realized, and with such power at his disposal, he would become one of the most dangerous men in the universe.

    --

    Kalta Thaea, the perfect hiding spot. It was in proximity (relatively speaking) to Mazkertis’ previous targets: the Malchior system, the moon of Alaine, and Liquid Metallicon, although there were many systems and worlds in between. This was of no consequence to the wizard, for he knew that he had even more worlds to harvest magic from. But Kalta Thaea was far enough from Lurian territory to arouse any suspicion, and the negative reputation (that it was a dark, dirty, and dull world formerly belonging to a lucrative society) associated with it meant that no one would dare think of searching for him there.

    Mazkertis stood next to Gabriel Ascheron, Raziel and Blue, his newest allies, staring at the endless expanse before him. They were expecting several individuals; all of who had an interest in what Mazkertis was planning and were hoping to join him. And so they came: some entering through portals, and others silently traversing towards the assembly from spaceships that had landed nearly a mile away.  First to arrive were Genetoes, the rogue Sha’lythe, and Eclipse, the villainous black “Living Star”. Both wished to spite the Time Guardians and join Mazkertis in his attempt to forever alter the timelines of not one, but two universes, something that could benefit them in the long run. They had met the wizard when he had summoned Genetoes several days ago (he had learned about the rogue guardian after recalling something he had read in Quolas’ mind). Next arrived a small, glider-like spacecraft, carrying a man wearing some sort of green armor and a goblin mask. He had presented himself to Mazkertis as “Goblin” and begged to join him. After the Goblin came a ship carrying Osseron Tyrok, the renowned necromancer whose absurd wealth was beyond description. He was intrigued by all the stories of such a powerful wizard striking fear into peoples and states all throughout the nearest galaxy, and wanted to understand what it was all about. He had first met Mazkertis earlier that year while on a mission with the Pirate Lords on Supermax Prison 429. Another famously wealthy man, who was not invited but came anyway in hopes of offering his services to Mazkertis, accompanied Osseron. Finally, Mink emerged from a portal. They were all mostly silent, as they were waiting on Mazkertis to commence the meeting, but the Goblin and the Affluent Man (who never mentioned his name, as he presumed everyone already knew him), engaged in banter as they waited.

    “Meme World is down the universe, and to the right,” he said to the Goblin, mocking his strange armor.

    “Pathetic,” replied the Goblin, shaking his head.

    Mazkertis said nothing, as he was expecting one more person to join them.  Finally, another portal opened, and out came a smiling suited man with a pale, crescent shaped head. He handed a manila envelope that he was carrying to Ascheron, nodding at him.

    “Thank you,” Gabriel said. “You know, with our help, you can fix all of your problems.”

    “Thanks, but no thanks,” replied the crescent headed man.  “But now, with this intel, you owe me. I’ll be sure to cash in when the time is right.”

    The mysterious fellow cackled, and left Kalta Thaea through a portal.

    “So what is this all about, Mazkertis?” Osseron asked, having had enough of all of the waiting. “I know of your abilities, and I know you managed to escape your imprisonment. ”

    Mazkertis’ mind connected to all those present, and communicated his message.

    You have all been selected for a mission to fix a grave problem in this universe. His name is Klak, and he and his counterpart must be destroyed. However, they are not alone, and my plan to end them requires that I obtain more energy. That is where you all come in. Fight his allies and assist me in finding the tools I need to change both of our timelines, and you will all be handsomely rewarded.

    Osseron grit his teeth, and looked at the others, as he was waiting for everyone to speak before making his reply.  

    “We’re listening, and we stand with you, Mazkertis,” said Genetoes, speaking for both him and Eclipse.  

    “Frankly,” said the Affluent Man, “I think your plan is garbage. I have an idea and it’s fantastic. We’re going to build something and keep both Klaks away for good, we’ll get the experts to help us, and it’ll be amazing. I’ve got experience in defeating guys like him; I’ve made deals with people twice as bad, I’m good at the deal. When it comes to deals, I wrote the book. Let me tell you, it’s an art, and I’m an artist. You’ll be thanking me, you’re gonna say, ‘thanks a lot’, because I’m going to make this universe Klakless. You know, both Klaks keep getting their friends killed, I don’t think they’re real heroes, they’re losers to be quite frank with you. Not heroes. Not like me. Truthfully, my plan’s the best plan we’ve heard so far.”

    Mazkertis rolled his crimson eyes, and shook his head.

    “Fine, whatever. You’ll take my calls when you’ll need me. You’ll regret this,” the man warned. “I’ve got other stuff to do anyway.”

    The Affluent Man seemed to teleport away with no explanation as to how he did so.

    “So that’s it, eh?” said Mink. “We’re the patsies? Some kind of backup squad you’ll use and abuse like lackies?”

    “Oh no, you misunderstand, Mink,” replied Blue. “Mazkertis is going to change time itself, meaning everything either of us have ever wanted will become true. Plus, you should see how he absorbs magic from people, it’s really quite fascinating.”

    “Rewards beyond your wildest dreams are yours,” added Ascheron, who was hoping that Mazkertis would make his empire even stronger once he was finished.

    “And our fragile timestream will finally be restored,” said Raziel. Genetoes and Eclipse nodded while smirking, seeming to approve of this conjecture.

    “It’s a simple proposal,” said the Goblin. “So are you in, or are you out?!“

    “It’s you who are all out,” said Osseron Tyrok. “Out of your minds! I’ve met the Klaks before. You are lying, Mazkertis!”

    “Please, spare us from your rambling, warlock,” Raziel retorted. “I had assumed you would be apathetic to our aspirations and not as emotionally invested in the possibility of their fulfillment.”

    “Oh, I’m not going to interfere,” said Osseron. “But if any of you come near me or any of my assets to further your wretched plans, you will see what TRUE magic is like.”

    Mazkertis grinned as Osseron Tyrok left Kalta Thaea. He turned to the remaining recruits, and raised his arms.

    Together we will save our multiverse, accomplish our dreams, and have our revenge on those who trampled us!” he ‘said’.

    “What’s our name then?” asked Mink.

    “Something family related, because we’ve already had our arguments but remain united,” said Blue, with a smile.

    Genetoes, Goblin, and Mink laughed. However, Ascheron rolled his eyes. He hated xeno humour. Raziel and Eclipse said nothing.

    Kindred of Dawn, to symbolize a new beginning, ” replied Mazkertis. “More shall join us, friends.

    He formed an orb in his hands that expanded until it encased all of the Kindred members. The sphere suddenly collapsed, and they all disappeared, having been teleported to another location far, far away. The Kindred of Dawn was now active, and from that moment forward, would become a threat to the universe.


    Last edited by Klak on Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:54 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : updated wiki link)


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    Niflheim
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Niflheim on Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:17 pm

    Chapter 9: …Is not my friend.
    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [Dekan]

    The We’d Warriors all just saw the YONBOTs investigate the world for anime, and also free them from the time bubble they were stuck in, trying to fight Peacock and that witch. Of course, the YONBOTs took care of them, and now they were all waiting for the Cooperative Ship to pick them up. Wal Wal reached out to Boltman, the leader of the YONBOTs, “MAN OF LIGHTNING, HEAR ME ROAR!” Wal Wal then powered up, puffing out misty aura, then shouting “HUUUUUUUUUUUH.” Boltman was impressed by this display, who then stopped flying and went down to greet Wal Wal.
    “You are a strong man. Tell me, do you wish to fight?”

    Wal Wal extended his arm for greeting, which Boltman then grabbed his arm, and the two shared a manly, powerful handshake.

    “No, Boltman, I wish to thank you for your help. Us We’d Warriors would’ve been able to defeat them, but you wiped them out with no effort,” Wal Wal was ecstatic about the meeting, the power surged from Boltman was quite a bit.

    “No problem, I, Boltman, and the YONBOTs here, shall rid the universe of anime. Any help you could provide is fine. Just remember to summon us any time where anime is the problem, your faith is all that’s necessary.” Boltman then gave the We’d Warriors a thumbs-up, and then began flying away with all the YONBOTs, ready to go to their next planet.

    During the whole ordeal, Old Man Ross sat there, lighting ablaze his 10 meter long pipe. He reminisced of his days as a We’d Warrior, a legendary tribe of his people who used herbs to power-up and gain insight in the world. The dozen with him were the last of his group, and he was unable to take on anymore disciples with the conflicts going on in their worlds.

    “You know, we should’ve went with him, instead of being stuck on a planet where we’re hated, Ross,” said Wal Wal, in a stubborn manner.

    “Then you should’ve went. I wouldn’t have stopped you. But, you know our people need us now.”

    “Oh, really? Is that why we had to be exiled to this backwater world, from Rhadan?” Wal Wal was not pleased, and he wasn’t one to hide his feelings.

    “Sinjon called us. He was raiding the palace today, with almost all the rebel forces.”

    “WHAT?!” The group exclamated.

    “We should be out there helping them, Ross,” commented Jean-Paul.
    “Yeah, I agree!” said Wal Wal.

    “Have no worries, everyone. A ship is coming to pick us up and take us there.”

    “Oh? Just like how you say your arts will save our people, Ross?” Abit was angry, being stuck in a prison in exile, then being unable to help his family back at home. “This is ridiculous! For all we know, they lose today.”

    “Or it will all end tonight, Abit,” stated Richard.

    “We must have faith in our families, everyone.” Ross knew in the back of his mind though, for them to lose tonight, well…it would be the end of the rebellion. They would execute the families of the rebel members, or worse. The only thing they really had, was hope.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [Rhadan]

    Today on Rhadan, the rebels had won. Kek Kug, member of the rebel group, “The Tiger Youth,” had just killed Gaon Kug gruesomely. With two pieces of smoldering rebar sticking out of Gaon’s head, it was not a pretty site to see. The two others with Kek were Sinjon, leader of the rebels, and Dakk Dak, a cousin of Kek.

    “Well that was simply wicked, br0Thas!” Dakk was quite ecstatic at the site of smeared brains on the ground, for some reason.

    “It was the price to pay for our freedom, Dakk.” Sinjon, filled with such joy that he couldn’t show it, just kept a very neutral tone.

    “Boyyoass how i had to kill my grandpa for some freedom,” responded Kek, who was still recovering his breath from the attack by Gaon.

    “Now what the heck are going to do bros?” asked Dakk.

    “We’re going to fix this state of affairs, of course,” replied Sinjon.

    “Now,” interrupted Kek, “There’s still going to be loyalists around the palace. I don’t think we’re going to take them all out, are we?”

    “You have no faith, Kek. We just killed the Emperor and are storming the palace. Why do you think we’ll lose now? It’s over, we have the high ground.”

    “I don’t think you should be so sure, Sinjon.” Dakk was looking outside the palace, and saw Gaon’s Soldiers leaving the building, being ran out by Wol’s Rebels. The rebels were shooting down the escapees mercilessly. “Is this what you wanted Sinjon? A genocide crusade by us?”

    “No…” Sinjon looked away and peaked back at the two. “We need to stop this.” Sinjon then broke up the window, firing a shot in-between the groups.

    “Enough of this infighting brothers! Execution of them is not the way!”

    “What does it matter, Sinjon?” exclaimed Woll Wol. “These men have raped our lands, taken our resources for themselves, and aligned themselves with their greatest enemy!”

    “It does not mean you need to kill them all! Let them account for their crimes, not get a free pass in death!”

    “What does it matter? Before we would kill them without hesitation!” yelled Wot.

    “Before we hadn’t crippled their forces. Loyalists to Gaon, your king is dead! His corpse lays by me! Surrender now, or be killed with any resistance.” The loyalists outside were stunned. Some didn’t believe him, and raised arms to shoot at Sinjon for tyranny. Wong Wol and Wolol quickly executed the would-be resistance. The rest of the loyalists dropped their weapons, then got on their knees and raised their hands to be behind their heads.

    “Nothing, we’ll do nothing! Just please don’t kill us!” begged one of the loyalists. He fell to the ground crying, and one of the Wol Rebels kicked him. Some of the rebels cringed as the kick connected, others let out a cheer. That was the world of war: misery.

    Inside the palace, Dengdengdeng-deng Deng-dengdeng was throwing his classic grenade techniques to clear out rooms of guards so their troops could go in and secure them. Memme Meme used his weak psychic powers to detect the amount of people in the rooms. The Rosses’ were freeing prisoners of war in the dungeons, along with Fig Newton and Akot. Will Willson was defending the outside of the prisons with Konn Kon.

    “You know, it’s quite amazing, Sinjon,” said Kek. “We finally did it. We’re finally The Tigers this world needed. Vicious when our territories have been claimed. Now, we can began a life of peace.”

    “You think so simply, Kek. We’re going to have to set-up a makeshift government until the people can decided what to do. The Loyalists on this planet aren’t going to just give-up. The drug-dealers and fugglers aren’t going to just stop. We’re going to have to keep fighting, like we always do.”

    “Don’t be so down in the dumps, br0Tha! We’ve killed the King! Our troops are pecking off all those loyalists! We’ve won! and you, my dear friend, are the king we need.”

    “I refuse,” Sinjon said sternly. “I was made for war, not politics.”

    “And yet you play them both so well, Sinjon,” replied Kek. “While I may be elected as successor by royalty if traditionalists so please, I definitely want you as my advisor. Together, we can reform this system of genetic lottery for one’s poverty.”

    “Come on bros, let’s get goin’ to join the squads coming back!”

    “Then what do we do with this corpse?” asked Sinjon.

    “Pretty easy, man.” Dakk Dak then attempted to lift up Gaon’s blob of mass. He looked over a them. “A little help?” Kek and Sinjon helped picked him up, and they moved towards the window. Dakk then threw out the fat corpse to splatter on the grounds below, really defeating the Loyalist’s morales that saw.

    “And now, it’s a new dawn, Sinjon.” The three looked at the first sun setting, with the cries of death in the background. Sinjon was not at ease for what they had done. He surely didn’t want to lead this nation either.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [En Route to Vizima]

    The Dong Squad and Wang Gang ship was leaving towards Vizima, after their long detour on Meme World. The two squads had finally left Meme World’s system. Zrintch had forwarded Vizima coordinates to both sets of Ayy-Lmalium pilots.

    Zrintch then notified the ship’s commander, Aye, to call a meeting of everyone. She then said on com: “Everyone pls go 2 da meeting room 4 info Sad“ Eye was still grieving over the loss of the Dongers, who she became good friends with. For a ship’s commander to lose their crew, well, that can take an emotional toll.

    The Dong Squad moved single file to the meeting room, already being experienced, with BONES leading the group. Everyone but Pumkin, that is, who never really listens to anyone.

    The Wang Gang on the other hand, were still quite chaotic. Despite the latter’s group experience with each other, they never took anything quite seriously. Hungry-man attempted to eat the fruit off The fresh prince of fresh fruit’s head, while Patrick Bateman was attempting to find repeating even objects in the area.

    “whoa everywon we must get alonh noww.” TTT’s speech impediment was quite obvious, though it usually calmed everyone down but Hungry-man.

    “you remind me of me mum TTT, always calmin’ everyone down…” Car Guard stated. Then again, a lot of things reminded him of ‘his mum,’ or ‘me pops,’ as he likes to say.

    As the two groups entered the meeting room, with Aye in the center, and a couple of the Ayy-Lmaliums to the sides. Everyone took their seats, rustling around with their odd proportions. BONES stepped up to the center. Aye then nodded, and turned on the hologram. Zrintch then appeared.

    “Hello everyone. Some of you may already know me as your employer. As for you new members of the team, welcome. I do not guarantee your safety, but a hefty sum of money will be given to your relatives or people of your choice. As said before, rest in peace, recently deceased members. Without their sacrifice, we would have unable to get The Mask.”

    “Oi u fokin tellin’ me we gonna die? i aint have had all the tasty chow in the universe yet, matey…”

    “While normally I would say ‘yes,’ this next mission is not so suicidal. Infact, I request none of you to kill the people we are stealing from.”

    “Oh, and who would that be?” questioned BONES.

    “The Knights of the Keruvim.”

    Most of the squad were confused. After all, such a secretive organization isn’t well-known, especially to a group of outsiders who lived on the Stouttish Islands. A few, however, gasped. BONES, Jesse Ventura, and Merasmus. The Shell-Shocked Cat, as always, was shocked, even if he didn’t know who they were. He began having war flashbacks again, of when he fought Tratus, beating his retarded ass into the ground with a jelly dolphin. Ainsley began petting him so he would take it easy.

    “So…what do you want with Keruvim, Zrintch?” asked BONES.

    “To divulge such information, would be treason on my part. Let me put it this way: It will stop all of us from being erased from existence. Sounds good, doesn’t it?”

    “like ye fockin care you fuckin grinch looking fucker” Hungry-man, as always, was disgruntled about the lack of information. One too many times has withholding info screwed him over.

    “I am very hungry,” Pumkin then stared at the jelly dolphin the Shell-Shocked Cat had.

    “Shot ur fockin yap yah stooped pumpkin, ill be eatin’ ya in no tiem.”

    “No! I don’t want that.”

    “Enough!” shouted Jesse Ventura. “I don’t want all of time to erase us, and you two bickering isn’t helping us prevent it, is it?!”

    “As Ventura said, shut it,” BONES replied. Pumkin only kept the same happy smirk he normally has on his face, creeping everyone out. “So how are we going to get to where the Keruvim is at, Zrintch?”

    “Simple, really. The Wang Gang is going to disengage their ship as you’re detected, and blast straight towards the planet of Vizima. The Dongers will distract The Knights by flying around, or even launching your space-adept members out of the chutes to distract them.”

    “Ok,” replied Saitama, in his usual, deadpan, emotionless voice.

    “The Knights of the Keruvim are a very large and secretive organization, and many of it’s members could easily destroy this whole team, sans a few specific members.”

    “That’s it, huh? That’s our master plan to fight a giant organization that’s infiltrated large portions of the galaxy, with hidden members, on a planet that isn’t in most star bases?” BONES pondered why Zrintch would ask them to do this, yet not kill any of the members.

    “Well, The Mask overrides any powers they have. The real question is who is going to use it.”

    “If I do say so myself, I’d be a great fit,” Bateman smirked while saying it, then made a giggle after the statement.

    “Yeah, allow the crazy sociopath to get The Mask. Works every time,” mentioned Bill Willson.

    “Have a little positivity, Willson! Not every day does a man like me get to do something good for the universe!”

    “Well,” interrupted Zrintch,”Whoever you decide, is none of my business. This meeting is over. You should be in Vizima’s system soon. The advanced tech of that ship should allow no sensors to be triggered.” The hologram then turned off, and BONES turned around to speak to the crew.

    “Well, this is odd. But we’re going to have to do what he says. No killing these guys, and we need to get the Keruvim ASAP. Once word gets out they’re getting attacked, who knows who they’ll call in.”

    “I agree Skelly Bones,” replied Ventura, “But we’re going to need a better plan.”

    “Then what do you propose?”

    Jesse Ventura let out a chuckle, and then brought up a map on the hologram screen.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [Zrintch’s Ship]

    As the hologram turned off, Zrintch sighed. He was, intact, quite worried for his associates. If they were to be caught by the Knights, it would cause an intergalactic incident on the interventionism of The Cooperative. While he could deny involvement, somebody in that organization would trace it back to him.

    His ship was now entering the toxic atmosphere of Dekan. The musk of the planet was quite obvious, the planet being a greenhouse one, made it quite hard to breathe for atmosphere. Luckily, Zrintch was trained in some old arts to prevent such nuisances.

    Zrintch used his powers to find the We’d Warriors in the foggy mist of the swamps, eschewing the scanners of his ship. He closed his eyes, pulsating with a red aura, then emitting it across the area. Down below, the We’d Warriors felt the power. Old Man Ross recognized it. This power…it can’t be. It’s been hundreds of years. This disturbance…

    “Ross, what was that…that power?” question Wal Wal.

    “An old, dark power. One I thought I got rid of years ago.”

    Above the group was Zrintch’s ship, a jagged-sphere, designed to resemble a comet, or space junk, and could alter the colors to look like other space debris with depth manipulation. The ship began expelling smoke as the landing gear came out. The ship slowed it’s descent dramatically to allow for safe landing in the mushy marshlands.

    “So this is our ride, huh?” asked Adit.

    “Yes, I think it is,” replied Ross.

    The ship opened up with long, skinny panel first off, lowering from top to bottom, vertically. Out stepped Zrintch, clad in his signature black robes, hood over head.

    “You said a scout ship was coming, not yourself, Lord Zrintch,” stated Ross.

    “There’s been a change of plans,” Zrintch tilted his head towards the rest of the We’d Warriors. “I’m going to need your help. You’re not going to Rhadan anymore.”

    The group gasped simultaneously, like it was in sync. Ross expressed their dissatisfaction in words: “What the hell?! You promised me!”

    “You need not worry about the warlords. The Tiger Youth have killed Gaon and have now taken over the palace. They are setting up a temporary leadership right now as we speak.”

    “How can I trust you?!” Ross questioned Zrintch.

    Wal Wal then put his hand on Ross’ shoulder. “Like you said…we only have hope. Let us believe in this.”

    Ross lowered his guard. “Yes, I guess you are right Wal Wal. So tell me Zrintch, where are we going?”

    “I am hiring all of you as guards. There will soon be a Cooperative Meeting on an important target, and I wish for you to guard the meeting place,” said Zrintch, in his low, raspy voice.

    “And why would you want us?” questioned Jean-Paul.

    “I have faith in your magic for protecting us, not the technology we normally use.”

    “Then I agree,” replied Jean-Paul.

    “As do I,” said Wal Wal

    “same thooooooo,” said Abit

    “they fear what they don’t know n hate what they do,” said Wol. He is really not a good philosopher, but he likes to think it is.

    “And you, Ross?” asked Zrintch.

    “I agree,” responded Ross. “On one condition: You take us to Rhadan after this.” Ross blew a puff of smoke from his nostrils, which Zrintch then flicked away with his hands.

    ’Then it’s agreed. We should get going now.” Zrintch motioned the dozen We’d Warriors to the ship. He pressed a button that opened up more platforms to the sphere ship. Each warrior got into a slot of the sphere, like vertically rising beds to lay-in.

    “You know, I didn’t expect we’d leave in something likes this,” stated Wal Wal

    “Yeah, well, everyone’s a critic,” replied Jean-Paul.

    The hatch/walkways then closed on all of them. Zrintch then climbed into the center he exited from, and the door shut behind him. He entered the location of The Cooperative meeting place, and the ship’s rockets came out of the ship, and began rising. The landing gear retracted, and the spherical scouting ship took off at a surprisingly fast speed. Before they knew it, it had already left the planet’s orbit. In a matter of minutes, it left the solar system.

    Not all was what it seemed though. In the mists by the landing site, out walked a giant purple-red shaped form. It was Flesh-Eater, and it’s hand, it was holding a device blink red. In another of its hands, was the head of another warlord from the planet.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    The Dongers and Wangers were waiting in their rooms for the orders. Their ship was now entering the system of Vizima. Aye announced on comms: “We are now in the system of Vizima. Everyone get to their stations to man turrets.” Bones then took the comm, “Wang Gang, get to your ship. Dong Squad, take turret placements. Pumkin and Saitama, get to the hangar.” All the strike team hurried to their stations. Jesse Ventura and Ross Mandell took the leading turrets of the front.

    “Can the Bad Boy of Wall Street really beat the world’s best conspiracy theorist?” remarked Ventura

    “Don’t get so full of yourself, pro-wrestler, stock trading isn’t just clicking buttons on the computer.” Mandell smirked, and the two got into their turret positions, back to back.

    Pumkin and Saitama moved to the Hangar, waiting for the signal. The plan was for the two to drop into space after The Wang Gang’s ship disengaged, with Pumkin to slap it towards Vizima, and Saitama to provide support.

    The two entered the Hangar, where Bones was at. “Now, you two are ready for this, right?” questioned Bones.

    “I’m very hungry,” commented Pumkin.

    “Can you ever say anything else?” questioned Saitama

    “No!”

    “Oh, by the way Bones, you know I can’t breathe in space, right?”

    “What?!” shouted Bones. “I figured with your power level, you could.”

    “Well, I’m still just a human.”

    Bones sighed. He then picked up his communicator, requesting a space suit to be made ASAP by the Maker the Ayy-Lmaliums had. Two of the little green alien men entered the one with measuring tapes, and began measuring Saitama.

    “Oh, remember, I’d like my belt a little loose around the waist, please.” One of the aliens huffed as a remark. “You know, you’re rude for being so small.” The alien blew hot air out, and the other laughed. Pumkin then stared over at them, and the two became worried and hurried up. The two then skimmed out of the room like CGI from 2000.

    ——————

    Meanwhile, on Vizima, a Toa of Ice was laying back in a chair, watching the newest Spacehoops game, while eating a McRide™️ from McYonalds™️. He was positioned in the guard room to detect any objects moving in the system. A beep then went off. The Toa then looked to the radar and gasped. He dropped his McRide™️ burger on the ground and picked up the phone to call the Headquarters.

    “Whoa, guys, something’s coming in the system!”

    The Toa on the other line then replied. “Yeah? Just like last week huh? Let me guess: Dese Nuts.”

    “No, I’m serious!” yelled the Toa of Ice.

    “Yeah, whatever. You want me to notify Axalara? She’s here, after all.”

    “The object is moving fast, and heading straight for us!”

    “Then why didn’t you call the space station?! You idiot!”

    “Alright, fine! Notify everyone, and I’ll call the space station.”

    “This better not be a joke, Ike, I swear to-“

    The Toa of Ice, aptly named named Ike, hung up the phone. He immediately called Space Station Alpha.

    “Yes, Ike? Another joke?”

    “No, just look at the radars! Mine’s going crazy!” Ike pulled up a hologram of the area from his radar to examine the rapidly speeding object, heading directly to the planet.

    The space man then looked at his radar. “I don’t see anything.”

    “Switch to the telescopic imagery!”

    “You know, I really wish sometimes you never got placed where you are, Ike.” The Toa of Magnetism rolled over in his chair to one set of monitors, displaying the real-time imagery of an area. “Can you give me the location, Ike?”

    “It’s moving straight towards beta sector.”

    The Toa of Magnetism checked the footage of the linear path to beta sector. “What the?” Low and behold, the satirical wang-shaped dragonfly ship was moving straight towards it. The Toa instantly turned on all alarms.

    “And you thought I was lying. Heck you.” Ike smashed the communicator button so proudly, then sat down to keep watching Spacehoops.

    ——————

    Axalara stormed into the Headquarters. “How could this happen? This ship is getting close enough to break orbit and enter atmosphere! Where are the space guards? What are they doing?”

    “Well, Ma’am, only one of our guards stationed on planet, Ike, noticed the object. It’s somehow evaded sensors.”

    “Notify all stations to send out their space troops immediately! We can’t let this ship get near the Keruvim!”

    “And you, Axalara?”

    “I’m going to greet that ship myself.”

    ——————

    Back on the merged ship, on the bridge the Ayy-Lmaliums were laughing. “It seems they fell for our trick, Aye.”

    “Yes, it seems they have. You’d think they’d notice it’s a fake. Now keep moving, we’ll flank their forces if they all go for our fake.”

    Meanwhile, in the Hangar, Saitama got a classic astronaut suit to wear, but not as baggy, more agile, and instead it was black. He was thinking to himself after putting it on; “Man, I really need a symbol one of these days.” He sighed, but then stood at the hangar doors, waiting for the order.

    All the Dongers placed in the turrets were getting bored. They turned on comms to start talking.

    “You ever had a threesome, Ainsley?” asked Billy Mays

    “Yeah, a real spicy one. Smothered with bodies.”

    “Oh yeah, with who?”

    “My wife, and Morgan Freeman.”

    “Oh.”

    The comms were then turned off.

    In the Wang Gang Ship, they were all waiting in the drop hangar until they were launched. They would then have to jump off in spaghetti shoots. They were like parachutes, but made out of noodles and italian food, and they could be put under you for a soft landing. Sometimes, one must really question the work of aliens aesthetically, but not mechanically.

    Bill Willson broke the silence. He remembered the day when he lost it all, in a plane crash, and the man who did it all. “You know, being in this loading reminds me of how I got here in the first place. It all took place the day I tried tracking down a man known as ‘Bane.’ I was working for the C.I.A, and me and my men had just got on a plane. Little did I know I had just played into Bane’s hands. A Mosquito Man had just given me and my agents 3 masked men, who they said worked for Bane. However, it turns out, Bane was one of these men.”

    “oh than what did he you do?” asked TTT.

    “He brought his own plane to crash mine. His men shot all my men through the windows, and they then ripped off the plane wings. They took the man we just Asved, Dr. Pavel, for their own plots. Bane left one of his own men behind to trick the people who found the wreckage, and mumbled something about “raising the fire.” Honestly, most of the statements to this day don’t make much sense.”

    “But you lived from a crashed plane? Damn son!” questioned The Cataractor.

    “Aye. After crawling out of the wreckage, I knew my only goal in life would be to end the man who killed me, my friends, and everything I lived for. I equipped myself with cybernetics, and disguised myself as a Manhunter. It all happened one day…”

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [Earth, Months Ago]

    In the mountains of an unknown region, Bane had just defeated an unknown assailant who had tried to kill him, along with his two partners, Amy and Nikolai. The man was supposedly a “Manhunter,” an intergalactic group of law enforcement, precursor to the Lantern Corps.

    Just moments ago, the man blocked off himself from Bane and his group by landing boulders between them. The Manhunter proceeded to activate rockets to begin flying out of here. He lifted his arm and clicked a panel on his forearm, and rockets opened up from his feet.

    Before they got activated, a bullet was shot into one of them. What the? the Manhunter thought. He turned around and saw an injured man, wearing a red poncho. His face was bloodied, his right arm was broken, and his left arm was messing. Static electricity emitted from the remains of the light arm, implying cybernetics. The man had ragged, nappy black hair, along with brown eyes, and heavy black stubble.

    “And here I was thinking you were already dead,” said the Manhunter.

    The man had a USP Compact from which he shot the Manhunter’s rocket. “Don’t count a man dead after shooting him and throwing him off a mountain!” The man began firing shots at The Manhunter, with no effect it appeared.

    “W-what the heck?” The Manhunter was surprised. He looked down, and saw multiple bullet wounds. A hook had gone to his neck. “How?”

    “It’s simple, my shots deflected off you at an angle, which then bounced back to hit you in a different spot. However, I made sure the shots repeated in the same areas to break the armor. While you were distracted, I activated a trap that shot a grappling hook towards you.” The man smirked. “The name is Bill Willson, and never interfere with Bane again, he is my target.”

    “It is my duty. No man escapes the Manh-“ Willson then dropped his USP compact and pulled out a bomb trigger, which he then pressed.

    ”No way! He actually did it!” Several simultaneous explosions around the mountain range began exploding. Bill Willson then fell over the mountain and saluted the Manhunter. The Manhunter was still in shock, and with the hook trapping him and destroyed rockets, he was stuck. What was once a robot, was no scrap metal after a few seconds.

    ”And hopefully…Bane died too,” thought Bill Willson, as he was falling to his death off the mountains. But we both know that didn’t happen…to either of them.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    “oi what a crock of shiet m8,” said Hungry-man, in response to Bill Willson’s backstory.

    “wow how imprissibe not like you hungri-man” responded a shocked TTT.

    “ye fockin wot m8, ya know ill knock ur little ass here ‘nd now,” Hungry-man put his hands up for a good sockin’, but TTT only said ‘how ruude you are, we are here to save the universe just like my late cousin toa moe vehicluars wood do”

    “You kids and your bickering. Now, we got a mineral to steal” stated The Cataractor.

    “Man, I wish I was back at home, watching TV.” Car Guard was quite sad at the events that led up to this point in his life. Infact, nobody even cared what his real name was. He was forever “Car Guard,” ever since that Incident at Supermax.

    ——————

    The space troopers were deployed to get the ship that was rapidly approaching the orbit of Vizima. Several Toa used their powers to rapidly boost to the ship. A Toa of Magnetism created a magnetic field to start dragging the ship back, but to no avail. A Toa of Plasma started incinerating the ship’s engine. Some Toa of Earth and Stone started slagging space rocks at it. A human with telekinesis tried it’s best to pull the ship back, and it did slow it down.

    “Where’s a Toa of Metal?! Surely he could strip this ship apart!”

    “I don’t know!”

    “Wait, this isn’t a ship! It’s a rock crafted as one!” The Toas of Earth began slowing it down with their powers. How odd it
    was, that they didn’t noticed this sooner. Things that make you go hmmm…

    The Toa then all surrounded the ship. “We should be careful, it could be a bomb.”

    “No, the inside is hollow,” replied a Toa of Stone.

    The Toa of Plasma created a giant plasma blade to slice it open. A Toa of Air sealed off the exit with a Hau, mask of shielding. The Toa of Plasma went into the hollowed out rock, finding nothing with his illuminated blade. “I’m not finding anything, guys.”

    Suddenly, a rock shot out towards him. He turned and sliced the rock, and saw a bald man staring at him, wearing a black astronaut suit. He immediately went to slice him in half with the sword, but Saitama stopped it with his hand.

    “Wait up. I need to get these rocks off.” Saitama began picking rocks off his clothes.

    “Who the hell are you?!”

    “Oh. Hi, I’m One Punch Man.”

    “What kind of stupid name is that?”

    “Can you speak up? It’s hard to hear in this suit.” He kept picking rocks off his suit. The Toa of Plasma then went in for another slice, but Saitama just raised his fist and knocked him out of the rock. The Toa out in space were shocked, eyes wide open at how this guy instantly knocked him out. Saitama then crawled out of the rock to see everyone.

    “That guy was just really rude. No patience for me to get cleaned up.”

    Who…who the hell is this guy? thought the group. A Toa of Stone went in to punch him with a stone-fist, but Saitama just raised his fast and instantly destroy his Toa Tool, with the Toa falling into Saitama’s Fist, making him fly backwards.

    “Put him on blast!” The Toa began shooting large amounts of elements at Saitama. After the dust faded, they noticed he stood there with no damage.

    “How are we going to defeat this guy?!”

    “A Toa Seal is our only option.”

    “HEY!” shouted Saitama “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS TALKING ABOUT?!”

    “This guy…has a lot of nerve…” Six of the Toa got together to began the seal. The six elements combined, and they created a giant protodermis-like beam to shoot at him. They were relieved, thinking they caught him. But suddenly, he was behind them, and poked one of them on the back.

    “Oh, was that your ultimate attack? I guess I should’ve stayed there to take it.”

    “What the?!” The group of Toa turned around and began charging attacks. Saitama then used a slightly stronger move of his: Rapid light taps. He instantly knocked out the whole squad. The rest didn’t really want to attack him, but went in anyways. They were all defeated in a matter of seconds. “How boring, you’d think after the speech Zrintch gave, they’d be more powerful.”

    In the distance, Axalara was racing with her air powers to get to the man. Her communications came on. “Axalara, be careful! He just took out all of the space guards without a scratch!”

    “Send in more reinforcements, I’m sure we could get this guy.”

    Back at the ship, Aye took notice of Saitama’s power. She was quite surprised, never seeing it fully before. Their ship was nearing the orbit, in which they’d surely get noticed by sensors. “ETA 5 minutes, everyone. Wang Gang, you’ll be disengaged and shot to the forest where we think the Keruvim is at.”

    “Copy that,” responded Bill Willson.

    Saitama was getting quite bored staying on the rock. Unfortunately, since he can’t actually fly, he’s stuck there, or else he’ll start drifting around unless there’s other things to jump on. Then, before he knew it, Axalara arrived, and used a giant slice of air to cut the fake ship into half. Saitama had just moved out of the path of the slice because he was looking at a shiny rock he had found.

    This guy really doesn’t care, does he? thought Axalara. Saitama then started falling over as the ship was moving from being split in half. He turned around and saw Axalara floating in space.

    “Oh, you must be the leader. Nice to meet you.”

    “How arrogant are you?! Whoever you are, tell me why you’re here!”

    “Well, I’m here to distract you from that.”

    “From what?”
    He pointed towards the Dongers’ ship, which had just hit orbit and it’s cloaking turned off from the Knight’s own technology. Axalara’s communications then turned on. “Axalara, a ship just entered orbit!”

    “Yeah, I know! Pull all troops back!’

    “Hey, flying lady.”

    “What?!”

    “Sorry we can’t fight seriously today.”

    “What are you talking about?” Next thing she knew, Saitama defeated Axalara with his signature “one punch,” knocking her mask off.

    “Man, if only I got her before she called back the troops,” said Saitama, out loud. He then jumped off Axalara’s body to go straight to Vizima.

    ——————

    At the ship, Aye just noticed alarms went off and disabled their camp. “Disengage Wang Gang ship now!” The Wanger’s ship disconnected from the main ship, and Pumkin was released from the hangar. As he descended, he slapped the Wanger’s ship rapidly into the forest. “No! I don’t want that!”

    The Wangers started feeling the gravity of the slap. They were moving so fast, The Cataractor and Car Guard got knocked out, the two being only normal humans.

    “wow what a wild ride” stated TTT. He raised his hand to give a thumbs up. “just like a carnivel ride”

    “what da fok iz wrong wit u m8? i feel like i’m ‘bout to vomit me guts up.”

    “lol” was all TTT had to say.

    Over the intercom, the pilot had an announcement. “It seems we are unable to slow down. Infact, it’s very likely we’re going to crash.”

    “With no survivors?!” shouted Bill Willson.

    “No, I’m actually pretty sure we’ll all be fine, just the ship will be wrecked,” replied the Ayy-Lmalium, calmly.

    “Man, it feels like I’m going to-“ BLUH! The guy who was engulfed in milk vomitted milk all over Car Guard, which then awoke him.

    “This is disgusting, what is this, warm milk?”

    “Yes,” replied TGWWEIM.

    “Ooh, gross. Glad he didn’t get any on my suit, or else this would get a little bloody.” said Bateman.

    “We are approaching the drop zone in 3 minutes. Get your spaghetti shoots ready for deployment. Don’t worry, they’ll protect you from the rapid change in atmosphere and speed as if it were nothing. It just might feel like you’re in a bowl of pasta.” said the pilot.

    “mmm..pasta. im so blood hungry right now, i could go for some good n proper spaghetti. dese there shoots, they edible?”

    “Yes.”

    “You know, my mom used to make spaghetti back home. It was pretty good,” the Car Guard stated sadly.

    “No one bloody asked ya, did they?”

    “Sorry.”

    The announcement came on again. “ETA 1 minute.” The Wang Gang all looked at each other. TTT was quite happy, which inspired everyone. Unfortunately for all of them, The Cataractor was still knocked out. Infact, he looked somewhat peaceful.

    The bottom hatch of the hangar, the floor, then opened up. One by one, they were all dropped. The Cataractor finally woke up, and was quite scared of where the hell he was going. “I was sleeping, you rascals!” As he was blind, he didn’t know where to pull for his spaghetti shoot either. Everyone else activated their shoots already. Car Guard began shouting at The Cataractor.

    “Cataractor!”

    “What the hell do you want?!”

    “You gotta open your shoot!”

    “YOUR SHOOT!”

    “MY WHAT?!”

    “YOUR PARACHUTE.”

    “WHERE THE HELL IS THE STRING?!”

    “IT’S UNDER YOUR LEFT HAND!’ Cataractor lowered his right hand trying to grab it. “NO, YOUR OTHER LEFT!” So Cataractor then lifted his right hand to above him. Car Guard sighed. “YOUR RIGHT!” Cataractor then lowered his left hand and pulled the noodle. A giant noodle-tied cloak came out, which lowered his speed dramatically.

    “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY SO?”

    Car Guard ignored him and looked at the landscape of the nearby forest. It was raining out, making their noodles somewhat mushy, which was fine but just would make the landing far more gross.

    ——————

    Back at the Knights’ H.Q, they were trying to send out all available ground forces to the Keruvim location. While they had tons of their best guards stationed there, if these people were anything like the man out in space, they would need far more troops. The Knights redirected all their space troops to deal with the ship that was sitting in the Exosphere of Vizima, and along with that, began firing ground cannons and deploying ships to attack it.

    Komerak, a Platinum Lantern, and honorary Knight, was hanging around base that day. “Where should I go?”

    “Go to the forest. I think our forces can take care of the spaceship floating around. Whatever they sent possible sent there, well, I don’t think the guards could contain it if it’s even on the power level of that guy in space.”

    “Agreed, I’ll be leaving now.” The signature platinum aura of his corps surrounded his body, and he flew off to the forest.

    ——————

    On the Donger ships, the Dongers were having a lot of fun blasting away at the flying Knights that had come to get them. Anyone that got too close felt the wrath of Pumkin’s backhand. He was really tempted to eat them, but I guess he had some loyalty to the group. His repetitive, echoing shouts of “No!” was getting annoying to the Ayy-Lmaliums.

    Soldier was blasting away at some of them. He then realized where the rocket button was. His only comment after he starting firing them was: “SPECIAL
    DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”
    The A’s corresponding with explosions in the sky, of course. The Soldier was not a merciful one.

    Merasmus just sighed. He really would prefer eschewing these guns for some dark arts. Randolph, on the other hand, was quite enjoying the usage of guns. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a delusional psychopath, thinking you can defeat anyone, and finally can.

    No Image Guy integrated with the weapon system to get the most accurate and best shots, to make sure not to kill the Knights. His power also helped the rest of the weapon systems. Before the Dongers knew it, star fighters started closing in on them, trying to out maneuver the weapons and disable the Donger’s ship. They were no match for the spaghetti beams with No Image Guy’s improvements, not to mention a Maker on the ship. Basically, the star ships were fucked.

    Meanwhile, by the forest, The Wang Gang had all landed. The Spaghetti Shoots ensured a safe landing by using Rotini Twist technology to turn the Farfalle Feathered Parachutes, connected by the linguine stringy, into rigatoni strings and a conchiglie chilly shell to land in. The Eight Wangs stepped out of the shells and looked around. Suspiciously, it seemed there was no guards around in the rainy forests. There was also a light mist in the undertows of the forest, limiting their field-of-view.

    “Bruvs, im bloody starving, now allow me to munch on dis here nice pasta grub…”

    “Aren’t you supposed to be leader?” questioned Bill.

    “Wotever ya fock, ur leader now. think of some shit. dis here grub about 2 be scrub-a-dub-dubbed by me.”

    "Oh, Eight Shells, eight divided by two is four, 2 fours. Oh, nice, impressive Hungry-man. Dubs on your food. Clever." Patrick Bateman then winked and gave a thumbs-up to Hungry-man, who ignored him, indulging in his gluttony.

    “You fat no chin chump, why are you even in charge?” asked Car Guard.

    “You know, I for one think Mr. Willson here is a much better candidate for leadership,” replied Bateman.

    “i for one think it should be me the powarfull spirit of light” TTT was quite happy, as usual.

    “Enough! We need to get going and find this so called “Ker-u-vim” and get out of here! There’s thousands of those Knights here, you know,” Car Guard was worried. A man like him had no chance at defeating even one of them. Why, oh why, was life so cruel to him?

    “Yeah, let’s get the heck out of here and skedaddle before they notice us,” said The fresh prince of fresh fruit.

    “Too late,” state TGWWEIM. The rain around them started moving, and vines imploded from the ground to grab their feet.

    “Fock, and durin’ me grub gettin’!” Hungry-man jumped out of the way of the vines, which quickly consumed the shells of the spaghetti shoots. A vine gripped his leg, and he used his giant mouth to rip it open. As he lifted his head up, a tentacle of water slammed him in the face, knocking him over for the vines to get him.
    [TO BE EDITED LATER]

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [The Void]

    The Heckumvirate was getting slapped around like nothing by Stardust. His stoic expression stayed the same, but deep down, he was angered by the events he saw. His allegiance was to the Stardust Crusaders, a faction of his people who were universal peacekeepers, created long before The Lantern Corps, Manhunters, or Time Guardians. For him to see the chaos being caused, yet his fixture on the Hecker Brothers occupied him, upset him.

    “Heh…” whispered The Heckumvirate, “Nothin personnel, but you will always give a heck.”

    Stardust was angered, and attempted to use molecule rays to dismember The Heckumvirate to molecules. The rays bounced off and reduced the surrounding areas into molecules. The assembled together smiley shrugged, and got up off the ground that wasn’t technically there.

    “Embrace the hecks, Stardust, and do your job,” stated The Heckumvirate.

    “NO! YOU MUST BE PUNISHED FIRST, HECK BROTHERS,” Stardust bellowed his statement, that echoed in the void of their location. As if it was thunder, with a lagging-behind sound after the statement.

    “No matter.” The marbled smiley of red and yellow, with a golden glowing aura, launched an orb from its hand. The orb showed the Battle of Saskana, where Mazkertis arrived and fought several beings. The orb began to expand and encompass Stardust. Stardust raised his arm in an unnatural, robotic matter, emitting an anti-teleportation ray, but it had no effect. The Heckumvirate gave Stardust a thumbs-up, before the orb started squishing Stardust.

    “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,” Stardust screamed as the orb started to compact his body. The Heckumvirate shrugged, and before Stardust knew it, he was nothing more than a mush of plasma. The orb disappeared with the remains of Stardust in it. The Heckumvirate did it’s job, and now walked off into the void in the area they were fighting in.

    ——————

    Stardust’s remains ended up in the core of a Red Supergiant star. His species were living stars in a way - made out of plasma, before they mastered, what translates as “Super-Science,”- the ability to alter the laws of physics with the manipulation of matter from stars, of which everything in the universe was made out of. Simply put, it was altering the product of stardust matter to anything they wanted. Explained like a science, but was really nothing more than magic to most.

    This Red Supergiant Star, was the home of Stardust’s race of people and where he was born. Whenever one of their beings died, they magically ended up back into the core of their star, for their remains to be recycled and used to create more. The memories of the being was stored in the library inside the star, so they could be consulted again. Immortality, basically.

    The Stardust Crusaders all arrived back to the star in a matter of microseconds, after the report of the death of one of them. Hundreds arrived, all shifting back into their five-pointed star forms, instead of their god-like morphed forms that resemble the species they’re governing at the time.

    One of the Crusaders stepped up, and looked at the amorphous blob of plasma that remained of Stardust. The being lifted the remains of Stardust and tossed it into the core, the plasma being eaten by the planet. The superheated matter was consumed by the world, and out echoed the waves of Stardust’s mind.

    “ALLIES OF JUSTICE, I HAVE BUT ONE GOAL-“ bellowed the electromagnetic radiation emitted by his remains, to which the others could process it as words. One of the crusaders responded: “TO FIND THE MAN WHO KILLED YOU?”

    “NO, TO END THE MAN WHO THREATENS TO END THE UNIVERSE!” A jump in the wavelengths was noted for his exclamation.

    “W
    H
    O
    ?”

    “M A Z K E R T I S”

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    In the far reaches of space, in a location that has no specifications, was the meeting room for The Cooperative, located on a spaceship. While The Cooperative were anarchists, volunteers from all of the member species came to discuss issues, most lying with problems outside their territories. Today, a meeting was called for a group petitioning to join. Because The Cooperative has the powerful technology of “Makers;” devices that were able to create anything be rearranging atoms, they had to be careful with who was able to use it.

    Today’s pending group: Space India, led by Indian President, who’s real name was never made public to outside groups. The president was somewhat short, around 5’5” or 165 cm tall, brown skin, and short black hair that drooped down, and not short enough to be a buzz cut. He had somewhat large lips, which many say are due to his amazing speech abilities(though we all know it’s from the genetic lottery, right?).

    He had come alone to the meeting, even forsaking guards, with no fear. He stepped onto a platform lift that floated him up into a room full of thousands of species, all very bizarre. There was plant people, Trilagons, masses of tentacles, giant floating, gas-giant originated mushroom blobs, giant plasma blobs, microscopic magnetic-based shaving species, and god knows what else. To the President of Space India, this was nothing to him.

    He stepped up to the intercom, which was a translation device for all the bizarre species that couldn’t communicate.
    “Hello everyone if you are listening, last time I showed you the Top 20 reasons why Space India should join, well this time I’m going to list the Top 10 reasons why we should NOT join.”

    The audience was shocked. Why would his argument be to list reasons why his nation SHOULDN’T join? Only one word could describe this situation: Insanity.

    “Numbahr Ten…” Before he could speak his reason, the room was covered by a flash of light. Suddenly, five Stardust Crusaders appeared in the room. All are clad in dulled, garish-colored(such as teal and purple, or orange and pink) outfits with strange geometrical patterns in random spots (such as spots or repeating rhombuses).

    “YOU ARE ALL NOW IN THE POWER OF STARDUST,” shouted the five beings, in their voices which always seem to echo.

    The Cooperative volunteers began to ready their weapons, and sounded the alarm. The indian president was knocked over with the arrival of the crusaders, and was thoroughly pissed. He got up and started yelling at one of the crusaders: “fuk u u fatass ugle sonofabitch ur face is so defaormed nd ur color make me blind.”

    “ENOUGH!” One of the crusaders raised his arm and shot a bolt of lightning at the man, silencing him with his ‘ray of silence.’ The president continued swearing under breath, since he could no longer be heard.

    “WE DO NOT COME LOOKING FOR TROUBLE COOPERATIVE!” The teal-and-purple crusader then covered the room in a yellow ray, which disabled all weapons. Another shot a ray that turned off the alarms.

    Zrintch was in the meeting too, and he raised his communicator to notify the We’d Warriors of an emergency. Zrintch continued watching the crusaders. The crusaders announced their next statement, “THE MAN CALLED MAZKERTIS WISHES TO DESTROY THE TIMELINE OF THE UNIVERSE. WE COME HERE ASKING FOR HELP OF THE COOPERATIVE, A GROUP WITH NO ALLEGIANCES. THE LANTERNS AND GUARDIANS CANNOT BOTHER US HERE, AND NEITHER CAN OTHER GROUPS. WE WISH FOR YOUR COOPERATION WITH OUR MOTIVES.”

    Zrintch then turned off the alarm. He maneuvered through the aisles to get towards the front. One of the beings noticed him, “YOU, COME FORTH.” The star being teleported Zrintch to be in front of them in the middle of the meeting room, on the floating platform.

    Zrintch stood forth proud in front of the group, with no fear. He spoke in the commanding tone as he did to his soldiers, “Our goals align. Just as we speak, I have two groups working for me gathering items to help with the defeat of Mazkertis. The Cooperative knows of his goals, and wishes to stop him.”

    “THEN, YOU SHALL WORK WITH US?” questioned one of the star-beings, in a still loud and monotonous voice.

    “Yes. Come with me.” Zrintch then turned on the platform to start lowering. Space India’s president was not on the platform though, and is now stuck up there. He was not pleased. The ray of silence was still on him too, so the only thing he could do is stomp up and down to express his anger.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [Saskana]

    Nif, after being briefed by Full Frontal on the Mazkertis situation, decided to find a way to leave the planet to find Mazkertis himself. After all, this universe he ended up in seemed like some cross of original content and stolen copyrighted media of his home universe. How strange it was, to meet an alternate version of a man from his home universe. ”That mother fucker…” he thought to himself. ”Why is here? How? Then again, it could just be an alternate version, but he has similar powers…”

    As Nif walked along the abandoned city in wake of Mazkertis’ attack, he looked around for any spaceships he could steal. After seeing what was basically the equivalent of a Gundam character in this universe, he figured that spaceship controls would be relatively easy to learn.

    He spotted some junky knock-off of a Final Fantasy vehicle crossed with space opera aesthetics. It also had floating crystals on it, most likely as some tubing system for the power. Nif began using his multi-tentacles to try and find an opening to the ship. Just as a platform lowered for him to get in, a blue light enveloped around him. He felt this feeling before, when he was trying to integrate with the biome of Saskana. ”Huh.”

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    On the bottom of the Saskana Ocean, there lied a palace made of crystal. The crystals were reinforced ice crystals, to withstand the depths of the ocean. They were a light faded blue-white, akin to the color of glaciers, but translucent instead. The palace had no real fitting geometry of it, or style. Just a big ice house, so to say.

    The location of the palace was affixed in “The Twilight Zone,” of the ocean, right before all light fades out in the bottom. The minuscule amount of light gave the palace a blue, otherworldly shine, akin to twilight time on the surface of snow, making it all blue. The palace was affixed to the side of an underwater cliff.

    Inside the structure were several rooms that made no real sense. A library, a hot springs room, a kitchen which also contained the dining room next to it, an internal aquarium, and then a main room for the inhabitant. The lighting was from bioluminescent plankton on the outside of the ocean, and also lived in the cracks of the crystals, swimming through a current of water that circled the whole structure.

    The blue light then appeared in the library, opening up, with Nif appearing in the center as the light faded. He looked around, his sense noting he was now back in the ocean of Saskana. Above him was the transparent ceiling, and he observed the lifeforms move around. The small amount of light that pierced this area of the ocean made most of the life fluorescent, to it appeared as if stars were moving around in the ocean.

    “Beautiful, isn’t it?” The man who muttered the question was sitting in the chair of the library, and had just put down the book he was reading. He stood up and went to approach Nif. The man was around 6’2”, or 188 cm, tall. He had ruffled, long dark brown hair, that had some strange fade of blue to it with different light reflections. He had a small beard and mustache connected to his sideburns, which was also an abyssal blue color. His eyes were a medium blue with white slits for pupils. His skin was tanned white, with a reddish hue. On the side of his neck were a set of three gills - one on each side totaling six. His clothing was nothing more than an underwater camouflage themed robe over boxers - quite tacky, in all honesty.

    The man extended his arm to Nif, as a handshake. His greeting? “h.”

    “h,” responded Nif, knowing the meme greet, then shaking the man’s hand. “So,” Nif asked, “Who are you?”

    “Nif tbh,” responded the man.

    “Then you are-?” questioned Nif

    “The alternate version of you? Well, not quite. You are me, and I am you. You could say were are BrOThas.”

    “More like twins,” responded the original Nif.

    “Not quite. I am a User, which I know you don’t know what they are, since I’m the one who made you. And the universe you’re from.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Well, Users are people who control this whole universe. To be entirely honest, I’m not sure if we’re higher beings who created this universe, self-inserted avatars in this reality, or if we’re supposed to be meta commentary on ourselves. I have a theory that there’s a higher reality than this, in which we’re nothing more than ramblings of other normal people. A living picture book so to say. I’m not sure though.”

    Nif wasn’t very amazed, “If that’s true, why did you teleport me here? And can you prove it?”

    User Nif smirked. “Yes, of course. Let me show you,” he snapped his fingers and the place flipped upside down and they floated around. “Laws of physics are meaningless here, because they’re only used when we feel like it.” User Nif pointed towards a hole in reality. “And these portals to anywhere else. Just look through it.” Nif looked through and saw the fight between Stardust and The Heckumvirate. He just nodded his head in response.

    “I believe you Nif, but you didn’t answer my first question: Why did you want me here?”

    “To have this conversation, Nif,” responded User Nif.

    “So what you’re saying is this is just meta-commentary on the canon of this universe?” questioned Nif.

    “Yes. Impressive. Nice, even. You are, after all, my own self-insert from another universe, before I really knew about Users, then I became a User, by writing myself in, as of now. Hopefully we’ll fix this in the reboot,” stated User Nif.

    “The reboot?” responded Nif.

    “Yeah, after the end of this, me and the other Users are going to fix this inconsistent garbage,” User Nif looked up to the ceiling, seeing the life passing by. “The best thing about this is my ability to create these really cool and unique scenarios. This palace didn’t exist 5 minutes ago, but I had to talk to you, so I rewrote and retconned the universe to say this palace existed. Alas, it will most likely be forgotten by everyone until some random character says something about it because the writers remember.”

    Nif just seemed confused. He sighed and questions, “I know better than myself writing meta-commentary for something other than a laugh, this is obviously to move the plot forward. What do you want me to do?”

    User Nif’s pupils and sharpened as he looked at Nif. “Why, end Mazkertis of course. I’m going to teleport you to a location with other useful individuals so you guys can take him down.”

    “That doesn’t make sense,” responded Nif. “If Users can do anything to this universe and anyone in it, why don’t you they just erase Mazkertis?”

    “Well, because it’s boring. As part of a group of people with unlimited power, we have to create our own challenges to entertain ourselves. If this is going to be BZPB™️’s Crisis on Infinite Earths®️, then we’re going to go all out,” User Nif stated in a monotone voice.

    “Then,” asked Nif, “Why don’t you just send me directly to Mazkertis and let me kill him. He is human, is he not?”

    “Well,” responded User Nif, “I don’t think that’d bode well for some of the other users. To teleport in and rupture him into an artistic project on biology isn’t entertaining to many, but it is to me and you.”

    “So, you Users are purposely making things hard for the sake of entertainment?” inquired Nif.

    “Of coursh,” responded User Nif. “The lives of gorillions in this universe mean nothing to me, because I can just retcon them into never dying if I want a happy ending. Personally I like happy endings, because I want-“

    “World Peace and everyone happy?” Nif interrupted, “Yeah, same goals as me, to no surprise.”

    “Well, of course, yet neither of us will experience that ourselves because we’re supposed to be tragic and interesting.

    “So, do you wish for my death, User Nif?”

    “No, intact I’ll write you a happy ending and make one for myself in this universe. You know, a cover-up, for my depression and pseudo, self-diagnosed schizoid personality. You won’t remember this conversation after you leave this universe though, because then it would make your original universe interactions seem off,”

    “And before you go on a long speech about it, let’s cut to the chase, because 1 noreaders care” responded Nif.

    “Well, you’re going to recruit and organize the largest group of supporters against Mazkertis as you can. He’s created a formal allied group of individuals, the Kindred of Dawn. You’re going to kill them all, since that’s what you’re good at,” stated User Nif.

    “How very nice of you,” sneered Nif. ‘When do I start?”

    “Now, but first, I’ll give you something back that was hampered here,” User Nif snapped his fingers, then a multitude of light, refracted by water, covered Nif. In the prism water then stood an ebony-hued, even somewhat bluish, skinned human, clad in an aqua-colored dress, with long white-blue hair, styled after the ocean waves. She had blue lips and yellow eyes.

    She then spoke in a deep voice for a woman, like an echo of the abyss. Very powerful voice, really. “Oh, Nif? I wondered what happened to my host after that battle. It was if I was put into stasis.”

    “You basically were,” Nif said unenthusiastically.

    Levi went up to hug Nif and smothering him, before User Nif interrupted, “Now, before you ask where you are, Nif will tell you. As for you Nif, with Leviathan here you should be able to use your Evolve power fully now, and scan any planet with water-based life to copy from, along with it’s history. Now, off you two go.”

    “Huh?” questioned Levi.

    Before another word was murmured, User Nif snapped his fingers, and the two disappeared into the same blue light that brought Nif there. User Nif then walked to the hot springs room, “…time for artificial gratification,” he thought to himself, as he entered the bath. And then he fugg'd six trillion cat girls or somethin :DDDDDDDDD Cool remember I don’t give a heck haha

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    [Kindred of Dawn Location]

    Mazkertis stood in front of his team of scoundrels, dictators, and wanted criminals. He himself did not personally like the team, personality wise. Abilities on the other hand, were useful, as were some of the member’s connections. “But sometimes you must have momentary discomfort for the result,” he thought to himself. What he was truly disappointed in, was that one of the most important requested members, did not accept his invitation. He wanted to help him, so why wouldn’t he appear?

    Of course, knowing him, this is nothing new. Most likely he is dealing with the political ramblings of his affiliated group to give Mazkertis more power, indirectly. Mazkertis looked on at his group, and smirked, knowing that his friend wouldn’t miss the world for a chance like this.

    Goblin and Genetoes bickered, nothing new on their part. Raziel and Eclipse stayed silent, staring into the horizon of space as they looked out on their new locale. Behind Mazkertis, a black portal opened up, temporarily inverting the colors in the room as a black robed man emerged.

    ”You’re late, you know,” said Mazkertis, telepathically transmitting his speech to the figure.

    “You should know how hard it is for our plans to get through without getting noticed,” replied the hooded figure, in raspy, deep voice, much like Boris Karloff.

    ”Yes, of course,” replied the time wizard.

    “You shouldn’t worry, we have all the time in the universe, don’t we?”

    Mazkertis would’ve laughed, if he had lungs, instead he only conveyed a smirk at his remark. ”Yes, we do, don’t, we, Lord Zrintch?” The hood of Zrintch fell over, revealing his neon green fur and scarlet eyes, with a smug smirk on his face. The rest of the Kindred were either surprised or confused. Ascheron was clearly angered; “Another fucking xeno? Do you have no morals, Mazkertis?!”

    “As if you’re comment means anything, you childish dictator, with an ego larger than his own technology level,” Zrintch commented.

    “If we weren’t allies, I would kill you right here and now, you red-eyed christmas tree!”

    Zrintch pulled out a metal stick that then began to glow a deep, neon-red, “igniting,” in a way. “Then you can surely try,” replied Zrintch.

    Mazkertis then stopped both of them in time. Telepathically, he communicated the following to everyone in the room: ”Enough! We are all here for our similar end goals, our temporary disputes should be null, for the greater goal! Ascheron, Zrintch is an old ally of mine, and you are just as valuable as him for our goals,” Mazkertis presumed time around the two, Zrintch sheathing his weapon, and Ascheron backing down.

    “My apologies, Mazzy,” Zrintch then turned his back from Ascheron, smirked and walked away, with Ascheron making no comment.


    Last edited by Klakeric Andre on Sat Dec 19, 2015 11:20 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : ok)
    avatar
    Kon
    The Chronicler
    The Chronicler

    Posts : 2360
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Kon on Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:00 am

    Chapter 10, Part 1: As Time Goes By

    For centuries, people have theorized that there is a point in space from which all of space can be seen, without distortion, overlapping, or confusion. This concept was first popularized by human writer Jorge Luis Borges in the short story "The Aleph" in the Earth year 1945. Unfortunately, Mr. Borges died without ever knowing that he had actually written a statement of fact. The Chousin sister Tokimi reflected on this as she stood inside the Aleph point of what the Users call the "The Hyperdimension", allowing them to witness all that transpired within the Original Universe. There is, in fact, an Aleph point inside each universe from which all of each of those respective universes can be seen, with additional Alephs inside other dimensions too. Tokimi sighed and began to go over the events of the past few months yet again.

    Several months ago, the warmonger Dukamu had attempted to access the Aleph point of the fabled Knowledge Dimension, but Tokimi and her sisters managed to prevent him from doing so. The battle was fierce: Dukamu nearly succeeded in killing Tokimi's sister Tsunami when she arrived to stop him, and his banishment was only achieved by the combined force of all three of the Chousin. After losing the battle, Dukamu immediately returned to the UG pocket dimension, where he began to empower himself even further to win the next one. The Chousin had no choice but to contact the Users themselves to deal with the threat. Luckily, Users Kon and MK succeeded in sending the UG, containing Dukamu and his allies, into the far future to be dealt with at a later date, allowing the Chousin to focus on other threats to the integrity of the BZPB Multiverse.

    Tokimi recognized the main outstanding threat as Mazkertis, who had since decided to surround himself with a horde of villains, bribing them with the promise of increased power in the new timeline that he wishes to create. Among Mazkertis's allies was Eclipse, the corrupt Living Star who holds the immense title of leader of the Kra'lythe. Already, Eclipse had his acolytes spreading the word of Mazkertis, hoping to recruit more powerful figures to their cause. Tokimi wiped the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand and tried to calm herself. The consequences of this alliance could be devastating, and would definitely disrupt the entropic balance she had fought so hard to maintain in the Original Universe. As the Chousin sister responsible for maintaining entropic balance, Tokimi knew that this was an outcome she would not allow to happen.

    Tsunami, the Chousin sister responsible for keeping the timeline in order, was also having frightening visions. Even though Dukamu had been catapulted into the future, she knew that it wouldn't be long before he employed the services of a time-traveller to return to the present. If that happened, Tsunami wasn't sure that the Chousin would be able to defeat him again. Not only that, but the timestream itself was also beginning to unravel, with time becoming distorted and difficult to measure within the Original Universe. What some saw as hours, others saw as days, with both observations being correct to some degree. Now that the Living Stars have disappeared, Tsunami is one of the only forces in the universe struggling to hold the timeline together... but it is a battle she is slowly losing.

    Washu could provide her sisters no comfort this time. The Chousin responsible for the integrity of the physical universe had just discovered the full extent of the damage caused by the universal imbalance her sister had detected. Overseeing balance was Tokimi's department, but Tokimi herself was too busy trying to determine what effects the unbalance would have in the future. Because Washu could see through space, but not through time, she decided to help Tokimi with her workload by using the Aleph to see what effects the imbalance was having on the universe in the present instead. Washu discovered that the entropic imbalalance was causing the Dark Zones to grow in size, along with their entrances to the Void between universes. She also tried to locate the Living Stars again, but with no success.

    The Chousin came together in the Aleph point of the Hyperdimension to discuss what they had learned. They had each spent the past week gazing far and wide through the space and time of the universe, looking for a way to defeat Mazkertis and restore order without necessitating the use of the Users' godly powers. Tokimi was the first to speak, though she had nothing new to say. Each of the sisters knew of the calibre of the threat they faced; it did not need restating any more. All eyes fell on Tsunami instead.

    "So, what have you learned, Tsunami?" Tokimi enquired.

    "A great many things..." Tsunami replied in a sombre tone, a far cry from her usual cheeriness. "Firstly, I now know what caused the disappearance of the Living Stars when we needed them the most."

    The others waited for her to continue, but she did not.

    "Well... what was it?"

    "...It would be easier to show you."

    Tsunami took a stone tablet out of her robe and laid it in front of them. Her sisters recognized it immediately: it was a Memory Tablet, an artefact which could duplicate and transfer memories from one individual to another. Tokimi and Washu picked it up together, and it showed them what it contained.

    -----------------

    Two years ago...

    The Living Star known as Vrentus returned home to the Forest of Lights. It was called the Forest of Lights for a reason: towering orchards of "trees" formed by sparkling purplish gas filled the dimension, with the glowing bodies of the other Living Stars shining through the "treetops", resulting in a rainbow of color throughout. Vrentus navigated the orchard with ease and emerged from the trees to consult his master. The Living Stars had a hierarchy determined by age that resulted in the oldest holding the most power. Vrentus would be unbelievably ancient by human terms, but among the Living Stars, he was middle-aged at most. The oldest of the Living Stars was "Sun", the supposed progenitor of them all. Sun had not left the Forest of Lights for eons, and some among them argued that his mind had aged away. Sun had seemingly lost the ability to speak in words, instead inferring his speech in cacophonous screams and roars. Despite this, Sun's speech was able to be translated by his two most trusted Living Stars, though it was unknown whether these two translators could actually tell what Sun was saying or if they were just making it up.

    Vrentus approached Sun and his aides with far less confidence than he had navigated the orchard with. He hated to be the bringer of bad news, but what he had discovered was just too important to ignore this time. Vrentus cleared his "throat" by coughing a flame of green fire away from his brethren, then began to speak.

    "My lord. Do you remember the prophecy I shared with you some years ago, regarding the death of one of our own?"

    Sun glared at Vrentus with eyes made of yellow flame. After a few moments, he roared and blew fire into Vrentus's face. Vrentus was of course unaffected by this, though he was a bit insulted. Sun's two translators talked among themselves before turning back to Vrentus and sharing Sun's apparent answer.

    "No."

    Vrentus frowned. "Then perhaps I should remind you. I had a vision that our home was breached by invaders and that one of us was killed. When I told the others what I had seen, some of them had the same vision while meditating."

    Sun gave a louder but shorter roar, and his translators did their job. "That's ridiculous," they said. "The Forest of Lights could not be more secure. Even if someone with time-travel abilities discovered its location, we would instantly crush them into a fine mist and add the mist to the garden."

    "But what if they could counter our powers?"

    "Impossible! Nothing can kill a Living Star!" One of the translators roared before Sun even opened his mouth. "We are eternal!"

    The other translator nodded, and pointed at a spot across the dimension. When Vrentus followed her gaze, he saw another Living Star, Flare. Flare was famous among the Stars for successfully bonding with a deadly force, the Parasitic Fluff. When other Living Stars had tried to touch the fluff, they simply burned it away or had their arms consumed by it, but Flare had managed to coat himself in the fluff and use it in battle with no ill effects. Vrentus gathered that the translator was using Flare as an example of the Living Stars' invincibility.

    Vrentus angrily turned back to Sun and gave his finishing statement. "Fine! You think you're indestructible? Soon, you're going to have to prove it!"

    The green-coloured Living Star then turned away from Sun and left for the orchard. Upon leaving the realm, Vrentus telepathically summoned the Time Guardians in the universe who were loyal to him. He knew that his most loyal servent, Cithus, believed his visions, but there was even doubt among his own.

    "That is a wrong that must be corrected." Vrentus thought as he drifted through the blackness of space towards their soon-to-be meeting location.

    -----------------

    Two hours later, five of the six Time Guardians loyal to Vrentus met with him on the surface of an asteroid in deep space. The only one absent from the meeting was Vexull, who was correcting a minor temporal disturbance in the past. The ever-kind and insightful Cithus listened to Vrentus's rant about the ignorance of Sun and his elder translators, and mostly agreed with him on the subject. Two of the five doubted Vrentus, since they had not shared his visions, but listened nonetheless.

    The discussion lasted for several minutes, until they were all distracted by one single thing: a telepathic scream. Each of the Time Guardians froze in place and met each other's gazes, silently asking each other if they had also heard it; the answer was a resounding 'Yes'. The scream was accompanied by a short message in an ancient dialect of the Sha'lythe's native language. Because the message was prepared before any of the Time Guardians present were even recruited into the order, they could barely understand the language. The Sha'lythe looked to Vrentus for answers, and the Living Star said one thing in response.

    "I was right."

    The Time Guardians in front of Vrentus stepped out of the way as the Living Star opened a dimensional tear to the Forest of Lights in front of them. Preparing to unleash his flame upon any potential enemies, Vrentus charged through, along with his five followers. The first thing they noticed upon arriving in the dimension was that the orchard was burning. Jets of black flame leaped through the orchard, scorching anything they came in contact with. Avoiding the flame, Vrentus flew upwards, bursting through the treetops and seeing war.

    In front of him, tens of Time Guardians were furiously battling against a horde of shadows. At least, they looked like shadows - the "shadows" were actually Kra'lythe, former Time Guardians who had betrayed the ancient order to ally themselves with Eclipse, an evil Living Star whose objectives stand counter to everything that the rest of the Living Stars believe in. The Sha'lythe were outnumbered and were losing the battle. Every other second, one of them fell on the jagged blades of the Kra'lythe, or be engulfed in the Kra'lythes' shadows. The Kra'lythe named Genetoes was leading the charge, having already scored several kills himself.

    Above and behind the battling Sha'lythe and Kra'lythe was Sun and his aides. The black sun Eclipse himself approached them. When Sun's aides floated up to defend him, Eclipse rapidly smashed his own fists into their fiery bodies, extinguishing most of their flame with his own darkness. Cithus charged forward, lightning crackling along his sword, but Genetoes tackled him before the Sha'lythe could reach Eclipse. Vrentus watched in horror as Eclipse approached Sun and began to expand. Eclipse's already frighteningly-large mouth stretched to mirror the size of the Living Star, and closed around him. Sun gave a muffled roar, his light shining through Eclipse's dark surface from within. Eclipse grunted in pain as his whole body filled with heat, but he forced his mouth closed.

    Determined to discover what was going on, Vrentus launched a telepathic attack on Genetoes. The Kra'lythe stopped fighting Cithus and grabbed his head, giving Cithus an opportunity to escape and help the other Time Guardians repel the attack. Vrentus dug into Genetoes's mind and read the upper layers of his consciousness. Genetoes, while unable to resist the mental assault of a Living Star, tried to fight back against Vrentus.

    "HOW DID YOU FIND US?!" Vrentus telepathically roared at Genetoes, digging for the answers in his mind when the Kra'lythe failed to respond in thought. Genetoes gave in and mentally replied in an attempt to alleviate the mental pain.

    "The... Knowledge... Dimension!" Genetoes thought. "A tear in space led me there... it told me how to access your home!"

    "WHAT ELSE DID IT TELL YOU?" Vrentus responded. He had heard whispers about the Knowledge Dimension from some of the older Living Stars, but had never given it much thought. Vrentus remembered his brother TBS say that the Knowledge Dimension was not their job to protect, therefore it didn't concern them.

    "It... told us how to increase our power... to absorb our counterparts... and how to travel through the multiverse!"

    Vrentus exited Genetoes's mind for a moment to put the pieces together in his own. Vrentus knew that it was true that there were other universes, each with different versions of themselves, but the Living Stars had no way and no need to get there. If what Genetoes believed was true, then the Kra'lythe had discovered a way to cross over... AND to absorb their counterparts to become more powerful. No wonder Sun had sounded the alarm.

    Vrentus looked back to Eclipse. The light inside the black sun had been completely suppressed, and Eclipse was now double the size he was before. The leader of the Kra'lythe smiled and opened a portal with his hands. The surviving Kra'lythe began to fly towards it, but some were cut down by the remaining Sha'lythe before they could enter. Genetoes got up and prepared to fly away, but his foot was grabbed by Vrentus before he could leave.

    "Not so fast." Vrentus thought. "I need to know how to follow you."

    The green-coloured Living Star entered Genetoes's mind once again. The answer he needed was buried within Genetoes's consciousness, but he was able to find and extract it in time. It seemed that Genetoes and the Kra'lythe had learned how to develop their ability to cut passages through to alternate universes as well as passages within their own universe. Vrentus made a mental note and retreated from Genetoes's mind. Just as he did, however, he was hit by a gigantic blast of shadow energy, causing him to spin backwards and let go of Genetoes's leg. The Kra'lythe flew into the portal and disappeared from view. When Vrentus steadied himself, he saw that the only enemy left was Eclipse, who smiled at him before turning around and entering the portal. It closed behind them, leaving the Forest of Lights a little darker than it was before.

    Two different portals opened and Flare and TBS came through. They observed the aftermath of the death and destruction in their home, and silently wept for their fallen father and loyal followers. TBS sent telepathic messages to his own band of Sha'lythe followers to see if they had survived the battle; fortunately Chikato, Gekkou, and Lite answered the call. However, Quolas did not respond, causing TBS to worry.

    Vrentus solemnly greeted the two Living Stars and told them what he had learned from Genetoes. They, and the other Living Stars, agreed to suspend their current missions, gather in the Forest of Lights and meditate in synchronicity for the first time in millennia. (While Living Stars and their Sha'lythe followers can get glimpses of the future without actually going there by meditating, the accuracy of their visions increase with each added person meditating with them.)

    While the Forest of Lights was seemingly timeless in itself, the Sha'lythe who recalled the normal passage of time knew that the meditation they participated in took days. Together, they saw much of things to come, but one word of it stood out the most: Mazkertis.

    It was at that moment that the Living Stars and much of the Sha'lythe knew they had to leave the universe - not only to stop Eclipse and the Kra'lythe from becoming more powerful, but also to empower themselves in preparation of things to come. TBS considered leaving one of the Sha'lythe behind in the Forest of Lights to inform Quolas of what had happened, but Flare convinced him that Quolas was probably dead. TBS nodded, and, using the technique Vrentus had learned from Genetoes, opened a portal to the next universe over. The Living Stars and the Sha'lythe departed through the portal, and it closed behind them.

    A few minutes later, Quolas entered the Forest of Lights and found it deserted. He had spent the past few hours on "The Island", an island on Earth that was in a constant state of temporal flux, meaning that nothing, not even thought, could reach him unless directed at an exact time. Quolas panicked and left the dimension in search of an answer that he may never find.

    -----------------

    Today...

    Washu rapidly blinked as she sifted through all the new memories Tsunami's Memory Tablet had given her. Once she had finished, the Chousin sister shook her head violently and yelled in frustration.

    "I spent all that time looking for them, and they weren't even in the same universe!" Washu cried, tugging on two of her huge red strands of hair. "Eclipse's here, but the rest of them could be a thousand universes away by now!!!"

    Slowly but surely, Tsunami's smile returned, and with it, so did her optimism. There was something reassuringly familiar about seeing Washu stomp her feet and pull on her hair, which itself looked like a cluster of steamed crab legs. She chuckled lightly and put a hand on her sister's shoulder.

    "Don't worry, Washu-kami-sama. You will find them. All you need to do is go back to the Knowledge Dimension Aleph and look for them there."

    "Wait." Tokimi interjected. "There's still something I don't understand. We know that, eventually, Eclipse was so badly injured that he had to enter hibernation to regenerate his power. What could have done that to him? Maybe one of the other Living Stars, after absorbing more versions of themselves than Eclipse had?"

    "I suppose that's something we'll have to ask TBS once we find him." Tsunami said with a smile. "Washu, would you do the honors?"

    Washu nodded, extending her hands to teleport herself and her sisters to the Knowledge Dimension. However, she was interrupted with another "WAIT!" from Tokimi. Washu groaned.

    "WHAT?!"

    Tokimi was taken aback by Washu's shout, but brushed it off. "There's no need for all of us to go. The Knowledge Dimension's security has been tripled since the last breakthrough, so another attack is unlikely. You should go to its Aleph and find the Living Stars, while I gather the Time Guardians who were left behind in the OU and tell them what happened to their masters."

    Washu pondered this idea for a moment. "That's... actually a pretty good idea, Tokimi-kami-sama. We'll meet back here in an hour?"

    "Of course! If not, feel free to come find me." Tokimi cheered. "Although... I'm going to need a ride."

    Washu nodded, and lifted the palm of her hand in the air, facing Tokimi. She folded space around Tokimi, causing her to pop out of existence. Washu then did the same to herself and her sister, teleporting them both into the Knowledge Dimension.

    -----------------

    Lady Tokimi popped into existence among the rolling clouds of Malchior IV, the last known location of the Time Guardian Quolas. She spun gracefully in mid-air, narrowly avoiding hitting a large metal object that she assumed to be some kind of satellite, and summoned her set of Lighthawk Wings. She used the wings to glide safely below the clouds and see the surface of the planet. She saw a mountainous expanse to the north, a city to the south, and grassy plains and a quaint white church beneath her. She figured the church would be her best bet for finding Quolas, so she dissipated her Lighthawk Wings and dropped down. When she neared the surface, she summoned her Lighthawk Wings once again to break her fall, and then wished them away when her feet touched the ground.

    Tokimi walked round to the front of the church, pushed one of the doors ajar and peeked inside. The lights were on, but the church was empty except for a small figure lighting candles on the altar. Tokimi stepped inside, closed the door behind her and walked up to the front of the church. The figure in front of her stopped and turned around, searching with blind eyes. She was The Norman, an ancient Nynrah Ghost and Turaga mother of Klak. The Norman blew out the matchstick she was holding and gripped her staff with both hands.

    "Who's there?!" The Norman shouted, her mask shifting with her face to form a suspicious frown.

    "A friend."

    "I don't recognize your voice. Are you a Phoenix?"

    "No." Tokimi replied with a smile. "I am what they aspire to be."

    "Is that so?" The Norman asked with a curious tone. "Come closer."

    Tokimi obeyed, stepping within a metre of The Norman. Years of blindness had heightened The Norman's senses to an increased, but not an extreme degree. She was at least more observant of sounds, smells and air currents than the average seeing person. The first thing she noticed was that Tokimi had no scent, meaning that she was either an artificial lifeform, some kind of spirit or hallucination. From the direction of Tokimi's voice, The Norman gathered that the stranger was about eight feet tall, meaning that The Norman's head would just about reach her waist.

    "What's your name, traveller?"

    "Traveller?" Tokimi asked.

    "You don't sound Malchiorian."

    Tokimi chuckled. "No, I suppose I don't. I am Lady Tokimi. It is a name known to few, but for the few who know it, it means the difference between universal peace and absolute chaos. I am responsible for maintaining entropic balance in your universe and others."

    The Norman was shocked. If Tokimi was telling the truth, she had just been let in on a secret of universal proportions. If Tokimi was not, The Norman had a mentally unstable eight-foot alien problem to deal with.

    "Why are you telling me this?" The Norman replied matter-of-factly.

    "Because you have a good soul, and I need your help and your trust. I have to meet with a Time Guardian named Quolas to tell him something important about his people. Do you know where I can find him?"

    The Norman supposed that there was no harm in telling Tokimi the truth about Quolas's whereabouts, since the Time Guardian was on his way back to the church in a ship with Etende as they spoke. Klak was due back soon too, meaning that if she stalled Tokimi at the church, the two would meet and Klak could properly determine if Tokimi could be trusted.

    "He's on his way right now, dear." The Norman cooed. "He's spent the last few weeks on Dominaria recovering from his injury. If you really are who you say you are, I'm sure he'd love to meet you!"

    "Excellent. I will wait for him."

    Tokimi sat down in a pew and laid her arms on her lap. The Norman smiled and went back to what she was doing, leaving Tokimi alone with her thoughts.

    -----------------

    Meanwhile, Washu and Tsunami strolled through the endless white aisles of the Knowledge Dimension, each filled with more books than either of them could count. They knew that the Aleph room was behind a secret door between the bookshelves dedicated to the history of the Fall of Cluster Empire and the life cycle of Fallmongers exposed to the radioactive atmosphere of Archon-7. At the end of each aisle stood one of the Knowledge Dimension's appointed guardians, armed with head-mounted motion scanners and spear-like weapons. Under normal circumstances, such a sight would be rare, but the number of guards in the dimension has increased according to the amount of times outsiders have attempted to access it over the past few months. It seemed that more and more outsiders were becoming aware of the Knowledge Dimension's existence, something that troubled the Chousin as well as the dimension's natural guards. As a result, the Chousin had instructed some of their own dimensional caretakers to monitor the dimension.

    As they turned a corner into the Fall of Cluster aisle, they found that it was guarded by four guards instead of one, a bit of a giveaway that it contained something important. The two guards at the southern entrance scanned Washu and Tsunami to make sure they were not shapeshifters, then stepped out of their way when they identified them as friendly. The two Chousin politely thanked them and proceeded down the aisle. When they arrived at the appropriate shelves, the selected the correct books and the shelves slid apart to reveal a dark passageway. They entered and closed the entrance behind them. When they arrived in the Aleph room, the two sisters searched for the Living Stars together. After half an hour and 26 universes scanned, they finally found them. A much bigger and more powerful TBS than they were used to was engaged in battle with that universe's version of Eclipse. The Chousin watched as the alternate Eclipse was defeated and absorbed by TBS. TBS's traditional bright blue colour had darkened somewhat, possibly as a result of all the Eclipses the Living Star had absorbed from across the multiverse.

    "TBS has become powerful..." Tsunami observed, "...perhaps too powerful. Every version of Eclipse he absorbs just causes more dark matter and chaotic energy to fuel his fire. It is corrupting him..."

    Washu shook her head in denial. "No. You don't know that. TBS is the most honorable and righteous of them all."

    "I hope you're right, Washu-kami-sama. I hope you're right..."

    -----------------

    Half an hour later, Tokimi noticed the ground beneath her feet start to shake, and The Norman did too. The Turaga rolled her eyes and walked up to Tokimi.

    "That's Quolas arriving now. I wish Etende wouldn't park so close to the church..." she said with an air of disdain. "These old bricks can only stand so much."

    Tokimi snapped to attention at the mention of Quolas's name. She thanked The Norman and went outside to meet him. Sure enough, a spaceship as wide as the church itself was lowering onto the ground. The ship was entirely chrome silver and streamlined to the point where it had virtually no visible features at all. A small window was wrapped around a raised bump towards the back of the ship, which Tokimi assumed was the cockpit. Several silver legs extended from the ship and touched the ground, allowing the ship's ramp to do the same. A hooded figure clad in a white robe descended. When he stepped off the ramp, it receded back into the ship and the ship began to lift off again. Quolas began to walk towards the church, but stopped in his tracks when he saw the Chousin sister in front of him.

    "Quolas. I don't believe we've had the pleasure. I am Lady Tokimi of the Chousin." Tokimi bowed.

    Quolas pulled back his hood, revealing his face to Tokimi. His yellow eyes, contrasting greatly with his pale blue skin, widened as he recalled her name. Quolas had heard rumours among the Sha'lythe that there was a force even higher than the Living Stars working to maintain the timeline, and that force was named the Chousin. He had also heard that Sun had revealed the Chousin's existence to his own batch of Time Guardians, but most of them had since been killed in combat, meaning that the secret only lived on with a select few like TBS, Quolas's former master. Quolas sensed a powerful, but calming, aura emanating from Tokimi. The white runes decorating Quolas's skin glowed with increasing intensity as he approached her.

    "Come inside. We have much to discuss." Tokimi said, putting a hand on Quolas's back and leading him inside the church.

    Quolas didn't know what to say. Tokimi could be an imposter, but she seemed so strangely familiar, and who else could possibly know enough of the Chousin to impersonate one? He at least needed to hear what she wanted to tell him.

    As Quolas and Tokimi disappeared back inside the church, Etende flew the Claws's chrome ship over the old white building and towards the hill on the horizon. Little did she know that she was being watched. The metal object Tokimi nearly collided with when she arrived on Malchior IV hovered below the clouds and extended both a camera and an energy scanner from its spherical body. The camera zoomed in on the Claws' ship and took pictures, while the scanner recorded the energy reading of the ship. When the ship flew behind the hill and disappeared from view, the spying object transmitted what it had learned to an unknown recipient along with its present location before flying away.

    -----------------

    Deep within the Republic of Luria, Lord Remarkable Silver strolled back and forth along a metal walkway between two rows of computerized workstations. Silver was slightly irritated that he had been assigned to supervise the Republic's Galactic Reconnaissance Division, but he could not refuse an order from their supreme leader Gabriel Ascheron. Discovering the location of a certain ship was at the top of Ascheron's priorities right now, so he had assigned one of his most trusted followers to make sure that the GRD was sufficiently... motivated to complete their task.

    Suddenly, one of the computers at the end of the walkway began beeping, so Silver went to investigate. The Lurian officer monitoring the computer nodded nervously at Silver and wheeled a chair out of the way so that his superior could get a better look at the computer screen. Silver's crimson eyes narrowed as he read the report of the drone dispatched to Malchior IV. By the time he had finished reading, a smile had spread across his face.

    "Well done, lieutenant. You have done a great service to the Republic." Silver said, patting the lieutenant on the shoulder. The lieutenant himself gave a pained smile in return, half-expecting Silver to strike him. Fortunately, the Lord was just glad that he had a reason to return to Ascheron and escape the monotony of the GRD. Silver got up and turned to leave, but then another computer started beeping too.

    "What?" Silver said aloud, making his way down the walkway to the second computer. This time, he rudely pushed the Lurian out of the way instead of waiting for him to make way. This workstation was for a different Lurian spydrone that had been dispatched to the far corners of the galaxy. Apparently, this drone had detected another energy source matching that of the Claws' ship: an unregistered space station. Silver muttered something to himself and left the room through a pair of sliding doors at the end of the walkway. When he left the room, he tapped the communicator in his ear, ensuring a secure connection between him and Ascheron.

    "Report, Lord Silver." The commanding voice of Gabriel Ascheron spoke through the communicator.

    "My lord, the spydrones seem to have detected two constructions bearing the energy signature of the Claws' ship. One is... well, the Claws' ship, and another is some kind of space station at the edge of the galaxy."

    "Really?" Ascheron said with an air of fascination. "That's interesting. Thank you."

    "So, perhaps I can make myself useful somewhere else now?"

    "All in due time, Silver. You've just found two constructions bearing this energy signature, who says they can't be more? Ginias tells me that this technology, if it exists, would accelerate the capabilities of our empire thousands of years. Which means that it belongs to us... or it belongs to no-one. Do you understand?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Good. Now show them why you're my favorite."

    Ascheron cut the signal and Silver sighed. He knew that he couldn't last another week in this boring bunker without making someone bleed.

    "Perhaps I should tell them that. Yes... I should." Silver thought to himself as he stepped back into the room, the sliding doors closing ominously behind him.

    -----------------

    In Ascheron's office elsewhere on Kyras, the man himself rested his feet on his desk. He now knew that he had to contact Mazkertis to tell him what his spydrones had found. Unfortunately, Mazkertis disliked using technology, meaning that Ascheron had to contact him using magic or long-range telepathy, and as powerful as Ascheron was, he couldn't do either of those things on his own.

    "Maybe Altian really was useful after all." Ascheron thought. "Guess I'm going back to Kalta Thaea."

    The Lurian leader stood up and left his office for the large hangar that took up most of the building's lower levels. He would board the Assault Shadow and arrive at the Kindred of Dawn's base on Kalta Thaea within the hour.


    Last edited by Kon on Sat May 06, 2017 10:46 pm; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : spelling fix)


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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Kon on Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:00 am

    Chapter 10, Part 2: The Secret Within

    Brown tree leaves brushed against the windshield of the Assault Shadow as it hovered over Kalta Thaea's surface. When they reached a plain with a familiar symbol cut into the earth, Ascheron informed the ship's pilot that they had reached their destination. The ship lowered onto the ground and Ascheron stepped out, scanning the murky landscape with his bright blue eyes. The same symbol that was carved into the ground was also carved into two trees at the edge of the plain in front of him. Between the two trees was the hidden entrance to the Kindred's base. Ascheron brushed past the leaves that hung over the door and entered.

    Not long after they formed for the first time, the Kindred of Dawn member Genetoes stumbled upon the entrance to an unused, but surprisingly high-tech base partially hidden underground. When they ventured into it, they discovered that it was built by an ancient civilization that existed on the planet over 100,000 years ago. The base contained several ancient weapons, foodstores, prison cells, showers, sleeping quarters and even a hangar bay for crude-looking spaceships. After disposing of the mummified alien skeletons left in the base, the Kindred decided to adopt it as their own and make some improvements.

    "Oh, hi Gabe!" Blue greeted, waving a furry hand at him.

    "That's Supreme Leader Ascheron to you, beast. Where is Mazkertis? I have something to tell him."

    Blue extended a claw to point over Ascheron's shoulder. When he turned around, he saw the red eyes of Mazkertis stare down at him through his bony white mask. Ascheron instinctively took a step back.

    "Hello, Gabriel." Mazkertis's voice echoed inside the Lurian's head. "You wanted to see me?"

    Ascheron cleared his throat. "Yes, I have something to report. One of the drones sent from the GRD picked up the Claws' ship."

    "Good. Where are they?"

    "Malchior IV, near an old white church in west country. I had someone send me pictures to help guide us there."

    Ascheron took a tablet-like device out of his pocket and showed Mazkertis the pictures that the spy-drone took of the church, along with its co-ordinates and general location on the globe.

    "Thank you, Gabriel. It doesn't seem as though there are many of them there, so I'll pay them a visit."

    Ascheron nodded and took a step back as Mazkertis opened a portal with a wave of his hand. The wizard disappeared and the portal closed behind him. Ascheron clicked his tongue and looked around for something to do.

    -----------------

    "I can't believe it... all this time, they were in another universe?!" Quolas exasperated, walking in a circle at such speed that his cloak actually billowed behind him. "And not only that, but Sun is dead and they've been absorbing - killing - their alternate selves in some kind of blind panic in case they're not strong enough to stop... what, exactly? Mazkertis?!"

    Tokimi sat in the front pew and nodded solemnly. "It's true, Quolas. I saw it myself."

    "It's insane!"

    "I know, but it still happened. The Living Stars you know are still out there, they have just become... different. Some have taken to absorbing dark stars like alternate Eclipses in an effort to further increase their power, but I fear it is corrupting them."

    Quolas stopped walking and turned to Tokimi with a pained expression. "Is my master one of them?"

    "...Yes."

    "AAAAGH!" Quolas raged, kicking a chair with his boot and swearing in his native language. "How foolish do they think they are? They are supposed to be my elders, but this kind of behaviour..."

    "Quolas, please listen to me." Tokimi said, approaching the point of tears. "People will do unthinkable things if they are frightened enough, and that includes the creatures you serve. If the worst happens, and the Living Stars become a danger to others or to themselves, I want you to know that there is a middle ground you can stand on. That ground is the Chousin."

    "You mean..?"

    "I have watched you your entire life, Quolas. You are the purest Sha'lythe I have ever seen."

    "But... I started off with Eclipse."

    "Only because you had to. There was no other way to escape your world. I saw it, Quolas. I saw your sun go supernova and batter your world with the flames of hell, and you... you stood above, and you tried to save as many as you could, but it wasn't enough. Then when the sun was eclipsed you found yourself a way out... but you only escaped so that one day you could return to that moment and save them all."

    "Stop. Please." Quolas quivered and took a sharp intake of breath. "I don't need those memories. Not now."

    "All I'm saying is that there is a place for you at our side. You will never be alone again."

    The Time Guardian leaned against the altar and tried to fight back tears. Crying was a natural reaction for many species in the universe - but not for the Sha'lythe. Their transformation into beings composed mostly of magics and energies resulted in physical features such as tear ducts being left behind. And so, as Quolas began to cry tears of nothingness, Tokimi came up and hugged him. After a few moments, Quolas composed himself and broke away.

    "Thank you, Lady Tokimi, but I already have people I call family."

    Tokimi nodded and smiled. "Of course. You're a good man, Quolas."

    Suddenly, a portal tore itself open in the aisle of the church and a familiar figure stepped out. Quolas's yellow eyes widened, and he immediately drew his sword.

    "You!"

    Mazkertis's lips curled into a snarl beneath his skull-like mask, and he transmitted his thoughts into Quolas's mind. "Me. I've waited long enough to lay waste to you."

    Lady Tokimi stepped out from behind Quolas, and her hands glowed a holy white. "That's far enough, Mazkertis. You have no idea who you face."

    "If you're opposed to me, you have no idea of my goal. Stand aside, woman, and let me claim victory. The universe depends on my success."

    Wasting no further time, Mazkertis raised his arms in the air and conjured a lightning spell to fire electrical bolts at Quolas. The Sha'lythe warrior blocked them with his sword and charged at his opponent, screaming an ancient battle cry. An explosion of light filled the room when the two collided, erupting in a flurry of fists and ancient spells. Shielding her eyes with her arm, Tokimi did the only thing she could: even the odds. The Chousin sister's power of enforcing absolute balance equilized both combatants' powers so that neither one of them had an advantage over the other. She just hoped that Quolas was a better fighter.

    Neither Quolas nor Mazkertis noticed the change in balance at first, but the realization crept up on them. Mazkertis had punched Quolas several times in the face and even clawed him with his fingernails, but he didn't have a scratch on him. On the flip side, when Quolas channeled ice energy through his sword to freeze Mazkertis like he did last month at the subway station, he noticed that Mazkertis was now completely unaffected. Taking advantage of Quolas's distraction, Mazkertis headbutted him, picked him up and threw him into the corner of a pew. If Quolas had a human spine, Mazkertis and Tokimi would have heard a sickening crack as his back collided with the wood, but instead he just bounced off and continued fighting.

    Eventually, Mazkertis managed to get hold of Quolas's sword and repeatedly strike him in the face with its hilt. Quolas stumbled backwards towards the church doors with every hit, eventually falling out of them and onto the grass outside. Mazkertis slammed and locked the doors in his face, then picked up the Sha'lythe's sword and approached Tokimi with a menacing glare.

    "I don't believe we've met." Mazkertis telepathically addressed Tokimi. "I am Mazkertis. Are you going to tell me your name, or will I have to take it from you?"

    "You'll take nothing from me." Tokimi warned, raising her fists. Her powers were limited when within the physical universe, but she was still a capable fighter, having mastered several ancient forms of martial arts.

    If Mazkertis's vocal chords still worked, he would have laughed, so he had to convey his amusment telepathically instead. "Foolish woman. The fists cannot defend against the mind."

    Without warning, Tokimi received a severe headache and her vision became distorted. As it turns out, thousands of years without receiving a telepathic intrusion makes one ill-prepared to defend against one. She fell to her knees clutching her head as Mazkertis circled around her, gazing deep into the recesses of her mind.

    "Your name is Tokimi..." Mazkertis thought "aloud", "...you have... unimaginable power... but it is extremely limited while present within this dimension."

    Tokimi gave a frightened yell and took a swing at Mazkertis as random images filled her head, but the wizard sidestepped it with ease and kicked her in the face in response. She fell backwards onto the rug with blood trickling from her nose.

    "Your sisters are also powerful... perhaps even more so... and are working against me. Well, I can't have that. Show me how to destroy them."

    The Chousin sister screamed as the wizard dug deeper into her mind. Mazkertis was searching for an ancient secret that the Chousin were not supposed to know, but did. Eventually, he found the memory and brought it to the forefront of Tokimi's mind.

    While creating the Chousin and bestowing among them the power to manipulate time, space, and entropic balance, the Users realized that they must create a counter-force capable of shutting down the powers of the Chousin should they step out of line or choose to rebel against the Users. Tokimi knew that she would never do such a thing, but the Users had precautions for every scenario. One day, many years ago, the Chousin discovered the presence of this force somewhere within the universe, and it belonged to a person.

    "Stoppppp!" Tokimi pleaded, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. "If you take this secret from me, you will bring forth the apocalypse!"

    But Tokimi should know that Mazkertis was unshakable in his goal. Years of torture had driven him far past the point where any sane person would stop. If the apocalypse was going to happen as a result of him achieving his goal, then so be it.

    Unfortunately, Mazkertis's greatest strength was also his greatest weakness. He was so fixated on extracting answers from Tokimi's mind that he didn't hear the church doors cave in behind him. Suddenly, Mazkertis felt a searing pain from his wrist and an absence of flesh. The wizard's face contorted in agony as he withdrew from Tokimi's mind and fell to his knees. When he opened his eyes, he saw a bloody stump where his right hand should be, his veins still pumping blood onto the floor in front of him. Within seconds, the light blue carpet had been stained a dark red.

    Quolas and Klak stood above Mazkertis, with the Sha'lythe warrior holding his retrieved sword to the wizard's throat. Mazkertis's body was in shock due to his injury, but he could not help but smile. He had seen the location and identity of the Anti-Chousin, who Tokimi referred to as the "Counter-Actor", in her mind. Tokimi herself was curled up in a fetal position on the other side of the church, being comforted by The Norman. It was then that Mazkertis realized something else. Tokimi was no longer focusing on using her balancing powers, which meant that the full range of his own powers were back.

    With a smug smile, Mazkertis waved goodbye to the two warriors with his stump and generated a portal beneath him. They both rushed to grab him, but it was too late: Mazkertis had slipped through their fingers once again, at the cost of some of his own. Klak angrily stamped the ground where the portal was and went over to talk to his mother. The battle was lost.

    -----------------

    Three strange figures appeared above a swimming pool on an abandoned space station and fell in with a loud splash. One of them, Blue, gave a cat-like howl and thrashed around in the water as her fur was soaked. Raziel also loudly cursed, lamenting the fact that his cloak was now ruined. The Green Goblin laughed at their misfortune through his waterproof armour and waded to the side of the pool. When he grabbed the metal ladder and climbed up, Blue was blocking his way. Apparently, she had already teleported out of the pool, and judging from her bared teeth and extended claws, didn't like being laughed at.

    "Whadd'ya want, an autograph? Outta my way!" The Goblin demanded. Blue snarled and prepared to pounce on the Goblin, but Raziel held her back. The wraith had already climbed out of the pool and had no patience for infighting.

    "Settle down, Blue. We're here on a mission." Raziel said. If it were anyone else holding her back, Blue would use her wings to throw them off, but there was something calming about Raziel's voice. Blue relaxed and Raziel let go of the catgirl to wring the water out of his cloak. "So, is this it? The source of the energy signature the Lurians picked up that matches the Claws' ship?"

    "Let's find out!" The Goblin piped up, somersaulting out of the pool. Unfortunately for him, he slipped on the wet floor immediately after landing, and he hit the ground with a loud thwack.

    Blue gave a satisfied chuckle. "Jackass," she muttered as she walked past him and further into the space station.

    "That's not funny! My ego could have been seriously damaged!" Gobby called after her. Raziel shook his head and helped the supervillain get back on his feet.

    Raziel and Gobby followed Blue as she wandered through what was obviously the recreation deck in search of an exit. After a few minutes, Gobby found an open elevator. The trio bundled in and read the elevator's large, rectangular buttons. Each one had a different title, like "Operations deck", "Observation deck", "Interrogation deck", etc. Raziel instantly pushed the "Operations deck" button, and the elevator shot upwards.

    "So, what's the plan?" Blue asked the door in front of her. "We gonna start at the top and search every level for these Claws people?"

    Raziel shook his head as he threw his damp cloak around the lower half of his face and tied it behind him. "Our mission is to determine whether or not this station belongs to our enemies, or was built by a higher form of life like the Claws' ship was, or both. When one of Ascheron's scanner-drones detected an energy signature coming from this space station that matched that of Claws' ship, he and Mazkertis figured we should take a look. I assume we'll find some answers on the operations deck."

    "Higher form of life? Like gods or something?" Blue asked, an excited grin spreading across her face.

    "Possibly. Whoever we encounter can be considered a threat, so be careful."

    "Careful? Dude, I don't think you know who you're talking to."

    "Damn kids. Let a professional do the work!" The Goblin cackled as a row of jagged blades sprung out of each of his arms. He took every opportunity to show off, and today was no different.

    The elevator doors slid open, revealing a room filled with high-tech workstations. A holographic projection of a large galaxy filled the middle of the room, but it was not the Milky Way. Blue was confused, since she was sure that the station was at the edge of the Milky Way, but shrugged it off. At the far end of the room was a large window looking into space. The three Kindred stepped out of the elevator and looked around. Sure enough, the room was deserted.

    Blue ran straight over to the window and looked out. Ahead of her there was nothing but empty space, but when she looked down, she saw something incredible. Beneath the station was the same galaxy as was projected in the room. The entire galaxy seemed to be trapped in some kind of colossal frozen bubble. Blue gasped, and backed away as she was hit with a sense of vertigo. When Raziel noticed her shocked expression, Blue signaled him to come over. When Raziel saw it, he was equally amazed. How was this possible? Blue was sure that the station was in the Milky Way... at least, that was where she was thinking of when she teleported there.

    The Goblin walked over to one of the workstations and began typing on its computer. Within moments, Gobby succeeded in changing the holographic projection of the galaxy in the room to a projection of the station instead. If the projection was correct, the station was on the edge of the Milky Way, but just above a second, much smaller galaxy next to it. This smaller galaxy was labelled the "Five Empires Galaxy", and appeared to be trapped in some kind of frozen bubble. When Gobby zoomed in on the station, he saw that it had about twenty levels including the one they were on. There were no lifesigns on any of them apart from one at the bottom: the storage deck. Gobby tried zooming in on the lifesigns but received no further information other than there were 6.

    Suddenly, an alarm blared and a green light mounted on the ceiling flashed at the Kindred. The Goblin's computer, and all the other computers, locked up. All the screens turned black and green text scrolled across them, bearing a message.

    "We are on the storage deck. Free us."

    "Oooooh! This is getting spooky!" Blue piped up. "'Free us... freeeee usssss!' Hahaha. Tell ya what, I'll go check out the storage deck and look for someone to fight, while you two stay here and see if you can access the computers."

    "Absolutely not. I'll go with you." Raziel demanded, drawing the wraith-blade from his belt. "You might need backup."

    Blue rolled her eyes. "Fine, come on then."

    The two walked back into the elevator and pressed the button for the storage deck. When the elevator sped off, the Goblin cackled and turned his attention back to the computer. When he got past the emergency message screen, he was greeted with an unfamiliar desktop. Gobby looked around the desktop, but most of the files on it were encrypted, and the only ones he could access were written in an unfamiliar language with only one word readable through them all: the word "Users".

    The Goblin's eyes narrowed behind his mask. He was probably one of the only members of the Kindred of Dawn who knew the significane of that word. Earlier this year, he had been "banned" from the universe by a piece of User technology - a banhammer - but that ban was reverted when a Sha'lythe used another piece of User tech to restore a dying planet. If one of the Users had created this station, then he had no doubt that it contained some extremely powerful technology.

    "We'll see who the 'User' is now..." The Goblin muttered as he began to dig deeper into the files of the computer.

    -----------------

    Elsewhere on the station, the elevator came to a halt on the storage deck and the doors slid open. Eager to find someone to fight, Blue skipped out and formed balls of kinetic energy in her hands. Raziel took the calmer approach and carefully observed his surroundings before running off. The storage deck was essentially a warehouse filled with crates, canisters and other storage items. They were all stamped with company names that Raziel had never heard of, but he didn't think them important enough to remember anyway.

    "Oooooh~!" Blue called from behind a corner up ahead. "Now that's interesting..."

    "What is?" Raziel asked before he turned the corner and saw for himself.

    To their surprise, a row of ten stasis pods were stacked against the wall, each connected to a tank filled with vital liquid. Only six of the pods were actually occupied, though their occupants could only be hazily seen through the misty glass. Raziel recognized three of the characters as Toa, an ancient species of elemental cyborgs he had done battle with during his days with Caiaphus. The other three characters were of different species that he wasn't familiar with; the first was a tall being clad in purple and black armour, the second was similar but with green and gold armour, and the third was a smaller, human-like creature with metal augmentations. Raziel turned to Blue and asked if she knew who these creatures were, but she simply shrugged and used the kinetic energy in her hands to form a ball which she fired at the pod containing the purple-armoured creature. Raziel shielded his eyes as the ball ricocheted off and across the room, bouncing off a crate and back towards the pod again. The ball bounced back and forth for a few moments until it gained enough momentum to smash a hole in the pod's glass. Vital liquid drained through the crack, which Blue used to put her hand in and tear the glass cover off. The pod's former occupant's eyes opened and he fell to the floor as the rest of the pod's liquid washed over him.

    Now that he was out of the pod, the creature could be seen clearly by Blue and Raziel. A long green cape hung from the back of the eight-foot titan, and he bore a bronze helmet with horns and a grilled visor over his eyes. When he got to his feet and turned to face the Kindred, they saw a wrinkled green mouth below the visor. Thick bronze armor covered his chest, legs and shoulders, with the rest of his body wrapped in green robes. He wore a belt with various technological weapons and items, and a bronze gauntlet on his right arm. He shook the liquid off himself and cleared his throat.

    "How long has it been?" The creature said with a deep but alien voice.

    Blue and Raziel gave a confused glance at each other before looking back. The creature grabbed them and screamed.

    "HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN?!"

    Blue was shaken, but Raziel stayed collected and answered the alien's question calmly. "Since when?"

    "150,082."

    Blue wriggled out of the alien's grip and circled behind him. "Gee, I don't know, I'm not keeping track either."

    "It's 150,084. You've been in stasis for two years." Raziel assured the alien, hoping to calm him down. It seemed to work, but he remained confused.

    "The war... is there war?"

    "Assuming you're referring to the Uterio War, no. That ended last year."

    "..did we win?"

    "What side were you on?"

    At that question, the alien paused and took a step back. He stretched his right hand out, the one with the gauntlet, and pressed a button in its palm. A tall, bronze, multi-pronged staff formed out of seemingly nothing into his gauntlet hand. The alien then slammed the end of the staff on the floor and a shadow spread from it, covering the entire room within seconds. The shadow seemed to cause or create complete and utter silence, and douse all sources of light. Not even the faint mechanical whirring noise of the station's systems could be heard in the presence of this man now.

    "I am Ludwig von Todesfal, the only Great Being you will ever know. You will take me to your ship and I will leave this station." The being said, lifting his staff back up off the ground. When he did so, the shadow covering the room receded back into it. The room's lights switched back on and the whirring sound returned like nothing ever happened.

    "Oh yeah, you and who's army?" Blue retorted, smirking while extending her claws. "Cats can see in the dark."

    "And so can I!" Another voice called from behind Ludwig. When he turned around, the Green Goblin whacked him in the face with a large pipe, sending him sprawling across the floor. The temporary silence created by Ludwig's staff had muted the Goblin's approach. Before Ludwig could get up, Blue shot a kinetic blast at the staff, sending it hurtling across the room and out of reach. The Great Being rolled over and kicked Raziel in the chest, causing the wraith to fall backwards. Blue jumped onto Ludwig's back and clawed at his helmet, leaving white scratch marks over its bronze surface, but the Great Being managed to throw her off. He then spun around to punch his next target, but the Goblin intercepted the punch with ease.

    "IMPRESSIVE!" The Goblin cackled as he let go of Ludwig's fist and used his distraction to kick him backwards. Ludwig was about to charge at the Goblin again but before he could, Blue grabbed him, and in a truly impressive display of strength, threw him over her shoulder and across the room. Raziel got up off the floor and used his dimensional travelling ability to disappear and reappear behind him. He raised a foot above Ludwig's face, but the Great Being rolled away as Raziel stomped the floor. Blue shapeshifted wings and flew back into battle, with Gobby following on foot, who was regretting leaving his glider behind.

    Ludwig sneered at the Kindred as he got back on his feet and charged up his gauntlet. A few moments later, it unleashed a wave of shadow energy that knocked Blue out of the air and Raziel on his back. Gobby, however, was agile enough to slide under it thanks to the Goblin Formula coursing through his veins. Clueless to Gobby's presence beneath the shadow, Ludwig gave a hearty laugh. This was, of course, interrupted as soon as he felt Gobby's foot in his stomach. Ludwig doubled over in pain and his gauntlet deactivated, dissipating the wave of shadow and allowing Blue and Raziel to get to him.

    "Stop!" Ludwig shouted, seconds away from being further humiliated by a man in a goblin mask and his furry friend. "You are... worthy opponents. I wished only to challenge you... to see if you were worthy."

    Silence fell on the group, this time not because of Ludwig's staff, but because of how pathetic he was. Each of them burst into laughter, much to Ludwig's embarrassment.

    "If Great Beings are this easy to beat, maybe I should apply to be one!" Blue gasped through the tears. The Goblin laughed even louder with his comrades for a few more moments. When those moments were up, he stopped and raised a hand, silently ordering the others to do the same. They obeyed, and spikes shot out of Gobby's arms. He crouched down over Ludwig and put a row of them to his throat.

    "Any last words?"

    "I... I, uh, I could be of use to you!" Ludwig stammered. "Whoever you are... you must have come here looking for me and my friends. You need me!"

    Gobby looked back towards the row of stasis pods, and then returned his gaze to Ludwig. "What kind of snivelling waste would be your friend?" He wondered aloud.

    "Well, they weren't my friends in the end. They stabbed me in the back! When they started to run out of supplies to keep me alive, they put me in stasis. I assume they did the same to themselves once they started to run out too."

    "What use are you to us?"

    "I'm your way into the Great Beings."

    The Green Goblin didn't even know who the Great Beings were, so he turned to his two comrades to gauge their reactions. Blue simply shrugged, but Raziel had heard that term before. As someone who had spent a lot of time with and around Matoran Universe natives, Raziel was familiar with the myths and legends surrounding the Great Beings, but he had never encountered one in person. If the legends were true, then a Great Being would be a powerful ally. They had defeated Ludwig, but he had a feeling not all of them might be so fallible.

    "Well? You want this loser?" The Goblin asked Raziel, interrupting his train of thought.

    "Yes. Mazkertis will want to meet him."

    "Alright. When you're ready, Blue."

    Blue nodded and laid a hand on Raziel's shoulder. When all four of them were touching in some way, she teleported them back to Kalta Thaea.

    -----------------

    A whirling, vertical portal tore itself into existence in a corn field on the planet Jurai, scattering a flock of birds. After a few moments, Mazkertis fell out and hit the earth beneath him. He cringed in pain and waved his remaining hand to close the portal above. He knelt in the field, put pressure on the stump of his wrist, and took time to reflect on his close victory. His injury needed time to heal, but time was running out. Even with the Kindred on his side, Mazkertis realized he was vulnerable to the misguided forces gathering against him. Words could not express his frustration at their foolishness.

    "Perhaps a world without Klak is something that cannot be said... it must be shown." Mazkertis thought as he tore part of his cloak and used it to make a bandage for his stump. "That hateful man has been such a constant in their lives that they can't imagine them without him. They can't think about cutting him off, even if it would be best to. Well, worry not, world. I am the cure."

    Mazkertis stood up and observed the damage to his robe. The fabric he had torn off meant that part of his wrinkled chest was now exposed. He made a mental note to invest in a new robe after leaving Jurai, and made his way through the field. When he finally reached the end and burst through the corn, he found what he was searching for.

    In front of him was a large tan building in the middle of a grassy plain. The building was shaped like a short, fat cylinder, dotted with windows. A single balcony stretched around the top of the building, containing a couple of white trees bearing green leaves. A wicked smile spread across Mazkertis's face. This was the building he saw in Tokimi's mind. He contemplated portalling straight up to the balcony, but changed his mind. He thought he might encounter less resistance from the building's occupant if he knocked on the door and nicely asked to be let in. With a sigh, Mazkertis removed his mask for the first time in a long time, revealing his wrinkled skin and a neatly trimmed grey beard. He strapped the mask to his side and approached the building. When he reached its door, he raised his remaining hand and knocked four times.

    "Just a second!" A sing-song female voice called from inside. Literally a second later, the door swung open to reveal a smiling, blue-haired Juraian woman wearing an apron and oven gloves. Her smile disappeared when she saw the blood from Mazkertis's injury bleed through his bandage. "Oh my God!"

    Mazkertis shook off his sinister smile and winced with pain. He reminded himself that he had to at least act non-threatening until he made sure that there was nobody else at home. The last thing he needed was a repeat of what happened at the church.

    The Juraian bundled Mazkertis inside and closed the door behind him, rushing about the house at remarkable speed to fetch fresh bandages, antiseptics, healing potions and other items. She fired questions equally quickly while doing so. "How did this happen? Are you okay? You poor soul, how long have you been travelling like this? What's your name?" and so on.

    Mazkertis pulled up a wooden chair that wasn't there before and sat down as the woman took off his robe to get a better look at the stump of his hand. His gaze wandered around the room. It was beautifully decorated, with an assortment of ornaments, paintings of trees, and homemade pottery. Mazkertis noted that trees seemed to be a common theme of this place: he had seen several around and on top of the house, and all of the paintings he could see were of trees. There was even a symbol with a tree inside on the apron that the woman of the house was wearing. She leaned down in front of him and carefully unwrapped the makeshift bandage he had applied to himself earlier.

    "Can you speak?" The woman asked him.

    Mazkertis opened his mouth and pinched his neck to indicate his loss of vocal cords.

    The woman briefly clasped her hand over her mouth in horror before continuing. "Oh dear, you really have been through the wars, haven't you... here, use this," she said while giving him a tablet-like device with a screen and an English keyboard. Understanding that she wanted him to use this device to communicate, Mazkertis began tapping away at the keys with his remaining hand. Once he had finished typing, he tilted the screen towards the woman so that she could read his words: "My name is Lascovitz. I was attacked and tortured by pirates before escaping to your planet. Thank you for your kindness."

    "Aww, well, I may be the Empress, but I'm still a Juraian. Anyone would have done the same." The Empress cooed while applying proper dressing to Mazkertis's injury. "But if you're a foreigner, you won't know me. I'm Misaki Raregroove. I've been meaning to do something about pirates entering our space for a while, but with every scumbag you banish, two more take his place, y'know?"

    Mazkertis did not know, but he no longer cared. Only one word of Misaki's stuck in his mind; the word "Raregroove".

    "Could it be?" Mazkertis thought to himself, his eyes darting around the room to find some proof, any proof, to support what he had just heard. Eventually, his eyes settled on a framed photograph of Misaki and her family sitting on a cupboard across the room. She was laughing and smiling in the photo, with her hands wrapped around her two daughters and her son. Her son, whose long black hair and emerald eyes Mazkertis would recognize from any distance. Her son, who crippled him in a battle for another universe. Her son, who he swore revenge upon. Her son, who made his life a living hell.

    "All done!" Misaki cheered as she finished tieing the knot on Mazkertis's bandage and proudly stood back up. "I'll have you back to your family in no time, Mr. Lascovitz."

    "Family..." Mazkertis thought to himself as he got up and walked over to the photo. He typed the words "Is this your family?" onto the machine Misaki gave him and showed it to her. The Empress gave a nostalgic sigh and joined him in staring at the photo.

    "Yeah... they're all grown up now. That's my daughter Tamao, and then Anna - oh, doesn't she look adorable in that dress! - and my son Zev. He's such a hero, hopping from world to world, fighting the forces of evil and saving the innocent, all that stuff. Sometimes I think he forgets about me, but he always comes back to this funny old place eventually."

    Mazkertis's eyes glowed with pure, unrivalled rage, but in another way, he was excited. His quest to find an ace to counter the Chousin had delivered him to the secret home of one of his own worst enemies. He was tempted to turn around and gut Misaki on the kitchen table as a message to Zev, but he reminded himself that most of his master plan was riding on the removal of the Chousin, and that could not be achieved without the continued existence of Misaki and what she could become.

    When he turned around to face the mother of Zev, he saw her face contort into an expression of absolute fear. Misaki backed away, grabbed a kitchen knife and aimed it at Mazkertis with her quivering arms.

    "Oh... did I just think that out loud?" Mazkertis wondered. "Silly me."

    Backing Misaki into a corner, Mazkertis began to enter her mind and assault her with nightmarish images from both his mind and hers. Misaki screamed as seemingly random visions and memories flooded her conscious mind, rendering her unable to think clearly in the present.

    "Give me the COUNTER-ACTOR!" Mazkertis's voice echoed throughout her soul. Misaki's screams intensified and she began to writhe on the floor as if having some kind of seizure. When Mazkertis approached her, one of her limbs flew at him and whacked him across the room with incredible force. Mazkertis's wizened body smashed into a mirror and fell on the floor as shards of glass rained upon him. When he shook them off his robes and got back to his feet, he saw that Misaki had begun undergoing a disturbing transformation. She had ripped most of her clothes off in the corner to make way for a blood-red colored energy spreading across her body. Misaki reared her head and roared as the energy formed a spot in the center of her forehead and her pupils shrunk to tiny, hate-filled dots. Misaki turned to Mazkertis with a jolt and gave him the most frightening, demonic grin he had ever seen.

    At that moment, Mazkertis decided to cut his losses and leave, opening a portal behind him and falling through it before the Counter-Actor could lunge at him. The portal sealed itself less than a second before she did, causing her to slam into the cabinet behind him and furiously rip it to shreds in response, along with the rest of the beautifully-decorated kitchen. Once she had finished, the Counter-Actor shot through the roof and into the sky, vowing to find and protect her baby and kill everyone who stands in her way.

    Unknown to Mazkertis, he had just released a force that rivalled his famous rage. The Counter-Actor was hidden away by User Zev at the beginning of time for a reason. She was reserved for the Reckoning, where her abilities would play an essential part in erasing the Chousin so that universal society could collapse into a devastating, but essential war. Mazkertis's actions had just assured that that Reckoning would come much sooner than anyone anticipated.

    Well... not everyone was clueless, because someone has been watching.

    "The Counter-Actor has been released." A monotonous voice spoke into a futuristic communications device outside Misaki's former home. "We are now observing the consequences of the Living Stars' absence. Who knows what would have happened if they had been here to properly protect the time stream and prevent Mazkertis from ever coming to Jurai."

    "Imagining scenarios is not your job." A slightly older but snappier voice replied. "Your job is to observe and to report. And you're an excellent observer, September."

    "Thank you, sir. I won't let you down."

    September closed the communications device and put it back inside his pocket. Tilting his head to the side, September curiously looked up at the sky and watched the Counter-Actor leave the atmosphere. He shook his head, opened a portal and stepped through to parts unknown.


    Last edited by Kon on Tue May 17, 2016 2:03 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grammar fix)


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    Klak
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:01 pm

    OOC: To put into perspective how long I've been working on this chapter: I started when it was 2015. Razz

    Chapter 11: Dejected: The Fall of Datrio

    A man woke up from his nightmare, sweating profusely. He noticed something strange about his room. He put on a pair of slippers and turned on the lamp, the light revealing what had changed. A fuzzy pattern of jagged stripes covered the walls and the floor, confusing and puzzling the man. He slowly made his way down the hall, noting that the pattern continued to accentuate everything. The man went downstairs, but halted the moment he heard a distorted voice that, while frightening, was somewhat familiar.

    “I….I did it.” it boomed.

    The man gulped, gritting his teeth. He quietly convinced himself to press on, and stepped on the floor. He moved towards the source of the voice: the dining room of his house, blanketed by the darkness of night. The shadows were exiled from existence as the man turned on the light, and gasped in horror at the sight before him. It was the face of his cat, emerging from the pattern. He now knew what had happened.

    “I’m sorry, Jon,” the voice burst out in slight sarcasm. “I was so hungry.”

    “No, Garfielf, no!” shouted Jon.

    A shrill sound filled his ears, as he and his house were teleported back to Earth. Garfelf’s insides were cleared, and he continued his journey in space. He knew that others that claimed to have insatiable hunger: Pumkin, Hungry-Man, the prophesied Man From Another Place. They all threatened the safety of his lasaga with their ravenous appetites and quest for more of thos; food. But he would show them not to underestimate the King of the Sundae Funnies himself. He would Tusken Raid them into oblivion.

    --

    OOS: And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

    Klak paced around the conference room on Anzu’s ship in frustration. Over a month and a half had passed since they had last, as a group, encountered Mazkertis, and there were no leads on his whereabouts. During this time period, Quolas and Klak encountered Mazkertis briefly on Malchior IV and managed to severely wound him, but he had escaped before they could finish the fight.  Now, every time any of the groups found a planet with reports on his appearance, they would arrive when it was too late.

    In the meantime, the members of the Saskana groups were focused on various affairs. Since many of them, like Sefer Yetzirah and Malygos, were statesmen and women (or at least marginally involved in a government of a sort), there was a plethora of funerals they had to attend to. The presidents of three Malchiorian planets had all been assassinated recently, and Klak had mourned all their deaths in various occasions, with Howard’s death hitting him the hardest. Malygos and Blackout, of course, were not invited to any of these. The other funerals were for Commander-In-Chief Kong of the Galactic Government, Cutter of the Knights of the Keruvim, and TPK & Angonce both for the Order of the Great Beings. Sefer Yetzirah briefly met Klak at one of these events, and quietly remarked to him that all these deaths coinciding with Mazkertis’ arrival must have been a sign of the end times.

    But their time was not just consumed with Mazkertis or wakes of the dead. Three members had joined the heroes, including the aforementioned Cassius Calm, whose new friend Sachiel rejected joining the Claws in favor of aiding all those affected by Mazkertis’ Liquid Metallicon attack, K'theenya, who claimed she would remain on standby until they actually find the wizard, and Tezzeret, who came out of the blue once more to aid his old friend. The Claws decided to split in two, with some joining both Klaks, and others joining Kakamu. Meanwhile, Ynot’s crew and Blackout had spent some time hunting for Figlio di Armechio after hearing of his betrayal on Shinar-Karana from Eos, but their efforts were not met with success. Malygos claimed that Dominarian forces had run into several individuals claiming to be affiliated with Mazkertis’ new group of allies known as the “Kindred of Dawn”. Klak silently suspected that these individuals might have been behind the attack on Vizima and the theft of the Keruvim weeks ago. Unfortunately, the Dominarians had failed to apprehend any supposed Kindred members to obtain any new information.

    All in all, they had reached a dead end, and Mazkertis was only getting more elusive. Even the normally patient Cassius Calm, who had joined the Claws of the Phoenix when they visited Liquid Metallicon, seemed desperate for an encounter.

    “Damn it,” growled Klak. “The more we wait, the more people die!”

    “He’s an elusive guy,” replied D-Klak. “Much more elusive than he was 50 years ago.”

    “How can a man who spent half a century in prison be able to confound us so?” asked a slightly desperate Cassius Calm.

    “Like I’ve said before, Mazkertis isn’t like his old self,” clarified D-Klak. “That son of a bitch Figlio must have done a number on him. He’s more erratic now, desperate.”

    D-Klak turned to you, reader, and seemed to grin.

    “Consider yourself lucky, you’re part of a very small group of people willing to read this. Tell the authors what you think. Make this story count!”

    D-Klak then turned back towards the others, who began suggesting methods of tracking Mazkertis down. Caiaphus postulated the idea of trapping one of the Kindred members and interrogating them, while Klak advised that they remain vigilant for any reports of unusual chronal or magical activity. Tezzeret seemed to be distracted from all this chatter, his onyx eyes fixated on the holographic star map projected from a table at the center of the room. His mind paced itself as it went over all relevant information and intelligence.

    “Mazkertis is attracted to magical worlds,” he muttered to himself. “He needs to absorb mana, kø, life force, and other energies to successfully cast a spell that will rewrite history. We think this means he’ll erase D-Klak from existence, doing some favors for his new allies along the way. He might go on to erase other Klaks across all timelines. So….”

    Tezzeret stood up and raised his cold, silver-armored finger, pointing to a specific cluster in space. He seemed to trace paths to various locations within said cluster, searching for the one area yet unperturbed by Mazkertis’ presence. There was a sector he missed, namely a system.

    “Datrio,” he said out loud. “What about Datrio?”

    The realization hit everyone like a brick.

    “Of course,” cried Anzu. “It’s a magical world outside the Dominion. How did we not think of it?”

    “None of us have been there, as far as I know,” D-Klak replied.

    “How sure are you, Tezzeret?” asked Caiaphus.

    “It’s worth a shot either way,” D-Klak said. “We’ve nowhere else to look, unless you want to travel all the way to Meme World or Space India or something.”

    The others were confused, for they had never heard of that realm. However, they decided to not ask anything about it.

    “You and Zev have both said that we’d need an army to stop Mazkertis,” Klak piped. “We had those both on Quolas’ world and Saskana. Only on Malchior with special circumstances did something like that work, so obviously we’re at a disadvantage. I say we call for backup once we find him.”

    “He’ll escape,” Caiaphus pointed out. “Unless we somehow keep him occupied.”

    “Anzu and Tezzerret could form a containment field to keep this vile wizard occupied until our other friends arrive,” Cassius Calm suggested.

    Anzu and Tezzet glanced at each other in surprise, realizing that his proposal was feasible.

    “How would that work?” asked D-Klak.

    “We’ll explain later,” promised Tezzeret. “It’s a risky spell, but it’ll hold him by turning his magical energy against him any time he tries to escape it.”
               
    “It’s a start,” warned Klak as the ship set coordinates for Datrio.  

    --

    Mazkertis floated above a series of unfinished metal buildings to observe the colorful and tropical city to the north of him. The citizens were preparing for yet another festival, adorning the streets with lights, lanterns, banners, and the like. Those closest to the beach could see their lights shimmering on the sea. It was a beautiful spectacle, but an ironic herald of what was to come.

    As he lowered himself to the purlins, he pondered what he had overheard from one of the nearby civilians about a “Nightmare” seen running around the city. Mazkertis had run into similar beings in his home universe many decades ago, so he knew that he would eventually have to investigate this further; but first things first.

    After he had lost his hand and unleashed the Counter-Actor, Mazkertis spent several days on Kalta Thaea in recovery, forcing his Kindred to pursue their goals without him. Luckily, a blend of Lurian, Cooperative (especially Lasagan), and abandoned Kalta Thaean technology combined with the magic of Blue and the potions of Misaki Raregroove helped heal Mazkertis’ injury and develop a replacement. However, this new, largely prosthetic appendage could not fully cast any spells. In other words, he needed to find a conduit to fully use magic through his right arm. Mazkertis then decided to cleave his new hand to a staff, formed by enchanted wood obtained from a destroyed cabinet found in the Counter-Actor’s home (of course, Mazkertis was extremely careful as he collected this, as he did not want to run into her).

    ((OOS: The staff was Zev’s idea, give credit to him.))

    The following weeks consisted of various battles as the Kindred pursued their agenda of vengeance. Much of Mazkertis’ campaigns were successful: there was a land of multicolored equines that was conquered quickly, along with other cities and villages across scattered worlds. However, not all were successful. The beautiful world of Aselia proved to be a terrible venture, as a boy named Genis was able to unite many magical peoples to overcome the Kindred and force them to retreat. Kråvenhold, too, was a mistake, as the hordes of gryphons proved to be tougher than they seemed. Despite these failures, however, Mazkertis was confident that he would grow closer to realizing his goal of rewriting history.

    The human wizard landed on top of a purlin, and looked to a gathering of his Kindred below. Several Lurian soldiers (looking up at Mazkertis to avoid even glancing at the xenos) and Death Vanguard flanked Raziel, Genetoes, and a Kra’lythe known as Minutún. Mazkertis raised his staff as he communicated telepathically to these individuals.

    We must scatter to secure the area. I do not want any unnecessary interruptions from misguided individuals, boomed the mind of Mazkertis. We will purge the timeline and save it from itself, and none shall stand in our way.

    “Understood, Mazkertis,” Raziel replied.

    The wraith ordered two Death Vanguard soldiers to follow him, while those that remained went along with either Genetoes or Minutín. The Lurian soldiers went their own way, as they were adamant in their xenophobic beliefs. Mazkertis made sure no one was near, for confidential matters were going to be discussed.

    His staff projected two holographic images in front of him. One of them was of Lord Zrintch, a Sith Lord that was already an old friend of the wizard when he was imprisoned over half a century ago. The other was an ancient being that was a resident of this multiverse who also acted as a spy for the Kindred. He was well known in the Dark Mirror dimension, but this version was even more famous, all evidenced by the epithets he carried. Mazkertis was communicating with none other than the Grand Master of the Brotherhood of Makuta himself: Blackout.

    Blackout had learned about Mazkertis after receiving a vision of the future in the Forest of Lights (Blackout had been exiled there when Malygos attempted to ascend). Rather than seeing the wizard as a threat to his goals, he noted that he could be a potential ally, one that could help him achieve godhood and eliminate his enemies (especially Malygos). So, after escaping a spat with Unicron, Blackout set out to find Mazkertis, and offered a secret alliance.  The blows they exchanged in previous encounters were restrained, meant to keep up the façade that they were on opposite sides. Mazkertis would eliminate two of Blackout’s enemies, while the Makuta would subvert any other threats from within. All the other Kindred members were either possible allies of the Brotherhood, or future enemies that would be dealt with in due time (and now, Blackout had more than enough time). Ultimately, everyone would benefit in some way, even if it were in the short-term.

    The wizard’s staff projected the words from his mind, as he could barely speak due to his injury.  

    Welcome, my friends,“ they said. “Dear Lord Zrintch, what of your strike teams?

    “They suspect nothing,” assured Zrintch. “We’re moving forward with our plans.”

    Wonderful. I must thank you for the Keruvim,” they said.  

    Zrintch nodded silently as he waited Blackout to say something.

    “Contacting each other so much is risky,” cautioned Blackout. “Either way, our enemies seem to have no leads as far as I know. Even if one of them figures out where you are, it will be useless for them to resist. Meanwhile, Ynot is on an obsessive investigative crusade, and I can guarantee that he’s running in circles at this point. Some of your Kindred should show up and help me kill him and his crew quickly.”

    I will consider it,” said Mazkertis’ words. “Your assistance is appreciated, my friends. Thank you.

    The holograms disappeared. Mazkertis quietly reviewed all the information that was given to him, and reviewed his plans for this Datrioan city.

    Suddenly, a ship that had been flying nearby descended to the metallic building. Out of it leapt someone, whom was all too familiar, carrying a shield. The ship flew away, landing elsewhere.

    “Subject 08: human,” said Figlio di Armechio. “Originally from outside our universe. Known there as Mazkertis. I’ve spent seven weeks looking for you.”

    Despite his masked appearance, the feeling of shock was immediately made apparent in Mazkertis’ scarlet eyes. He reeled back slightly out of habit.

    You…,” he simply ‘replied’.

    Figlio grit his teeth, the limits of his sanity having been broken in the endless search for his former victim. His normally neatly combed hair was unkempt, and his armor still had some damage from his fight on Shinar-Karana. The Rider’s eyes glowed with rage, as his kind was wont to do.

    “Here we are,” he gushed while laughing. “Finally, after all these years, I’ll break you!”

    You!” Mazkertis repeated, the rage building up within him.

    “It was so difficult to find you, so damn difficult,” Figlio cackled. “But now, finally, here we are! A relationship half a century in the making culminates now.”

    The Rider’s mockery further enraged Mazkertis. This was a man who supervised his torture for years, whose twisted experiments agonized him. What more did he want to take away from him? No, he had to destroy Figlio once and for all to save the universe.

    He hurled a green concussion beam that was surrounded with crimson Roman numerals, threatening to blast a hole into Figlio. Suddenly, the Dachori took cover behind the shield, quickly negating the beam’s chances of vanquishing him.

    ((OOS: Just a quick note, the Roman numerals thing was Zev’s idea, so he deserves credit)).

    “Like it?” bragged Figlio. “It negates magical energy. Bought it off of a rebel trying to overthrow the Dominion. Cost a lot, but I eventually convinced him that HYDRA’s help was much more valuable than this.”

    Mazkertis stepped back, confounded. He nearly slipped off the building as his feet met the purlins behind him.  Mazkertis winced, and leaped off of the building into an empty alleyway. None of his Kindred were near, but no matter. He had to face his demons himself.

    Figlio jumped to where Mazkertis was, and raised the hand unrestrained by the shield. He revealed a leather glove with a strange pattern on its palm.

    “Remember this?” he boasted. “It’s practically ancient in human years but still packs a punch.”

    The glove zapped the wizard, sending him to the ground in spasms. The staff, the conduit of half of his magic, fell to the ground with a clang. Figlio cackled as his weapon crackled with electricity.

    “I’m finishing you nice and slow, Subject 08,” he growled, once again shocking Mazkertis with the glove. “You will be out of HYDRA’s way, and the galaxy will finally belong to the Armechios. But make no mistake, I’m not doing this for the revolution, or for my people, or for my father. I’m doing this for me.”

    Figlio removed the glove and pulled out his sword. He raised it high, the tip of the blade kissing the heavens.

    “Checkmate, Mazkertis,” he pronounced.

    Mazkertis quickly rolled over, smashing into the Rider’s legs and tumbling across the alley. He stood up, leaped onto Figlio, and struggled to take the accursed shield off of his arm. The Dachori continually kicked and flailed, while the human pulled and clobbered against him. Finally, Mazkertis fell back, retreating from the multiple blows.

    The wizard winced in pain and leaned on a wall, using it as a mount to leap forward and kick his enemy in the face. He fired a bolt of shadow directly at Figlio, the burning lightning slipping under his shield and piercing his gut. The Rider fell, and Mazkertis once again attempted to remove the wretched anti-magic barrier. He succeeded, flinging the shield back and allowing it to smash into an unfinished wall.

    Figlio cursed at him in his father’s Dachori language, albeit with a noticeable non-native accent. He reached for his sword and jabbed upwards, hoping to stab Mazkertis. The wizard reeled away and grabbed the taser glove. Figlio gasped as he stood up, attempting to retreat to better ground for a stronger assault. The effort was futile. He decided to cut his losses, and charged at Mazkertis, dashing towards his left side and twirling his sword to impale the human’s legs.

    Mazkertis hissed in pain as the sword perforated his leg. Thankfully, no arteries were pierced, but the xeno monster had come close to killing him once again. Mazkertis blasted Figlio with the glove time and time again, sending the Rider thwacking to the ground in agonized grunts. He limped over to his staff, grabbing it with the other hand to heal the bleeding leg and occasionally shocking Figlio from afar. After a minute that felt like an eternity, his leg was mended.

    Figlio’s eyes widened as he felt Mazkertis raise him in the air. The wizard sauntered up to him, impaling the Dachori on his own sword. Figlio grasped his enemy’s cloak in seething loathing, tearing at it with his hands and gritting his teeth in pain and hatred. He spat at Mazkertis’ mask, insulting him in various languages as he felt magic coursing through his body. Meanwhile, the human smiled smugly.

    “Checkmate, Figlio,” he said, using what was left of his voice to enunciate those fateful words.

    Figlio’s screams echoed throughout the construction area.

    --

    Anzu’s ship cruised near the surface of Datrio, carrying the armed and ready squad of the Claws of the Phoenix with it. The demon was stunned, for he noted something that confirmed their worst fears.

    “By the Emperor,” he gasped.

    “What is it?” asked D-Klak. The Kestora’s jaw dropped when Anzu pointed to a purple and green mass swirling like a hurricane over the city that they were approaching.

    “A spell I thought was rare, and only appreciated by demons,” Anzu explained. “In modern parlance, it is referred to as the Twilight Storm, a system that unleashes shades and many unspeakable things upon its victims. Even Malygos refuses to use such a wretched spell.”

    “Have I ever mentioned how much I hate magic?” Klak said.

    “I don’t blame you,” replied D-Klak. “Don’t blame you at all.”

    Moments later, the Claws landed in the midst of the storm. The group emerged from Anzu’s ship, cautiously making their way through shadowed alleyways. Suddenly, an opening appeared inside of the tempest above them, spawning a large garrison of shades.

    “Shades?! I thought they were extinct,” exclaimed Caiaphus in astonishment.

    The creatures hissed, charging at the heroes’ party.

    “Must be why they hate you!” Klak spouted as he pummeled several of them with beams of light.

    D-Klak did not waste any time with his response, shooting at the shades with his gunblade. Concentrated magical energy burst from Tezzeret’s skeletal hand and into five of his enemies. Caiaphus himself destroyed several with his laser vision.

    The others took a different, less lethal approach. Anzu flicked his wrists, manipulating the very bodies of some of the foul creatures to collapse in on themselves. The unfortunate shades were immediately banished back into their hole of origin. Meanwhile, Cassius Calm valiantly stood in front of the remaining monsters and summoned a white tree full of chakra energy.

    “Return from whence you came,” he proclaimed in a booming voice as the tree burst out, slamming into the shades and dissipating them, though not killing them. The remnants of these unconscious creatures were sent back to the portal.

    “There is more where that came from,” Anzu warned. “Be on your guard.”

    “We have to hurry,” added Calm. “The sooner we arrest Mazkertis, the sooner we liberate the people of this damned storm.”

    Before they could continue, a green bolt of lightning struck a nearby building, immediately setting it on fire. More followed, some causing massive explosions.

    “Crap,” cried Klak. “We have to help the civilians!”

    The group rushed to the scene of the fire, rescuing the victims. They assisted rescue crews in the midst of the chaos, recommending immediate evacuation (an action that was already being considered when the Twilight Storm materialized). While moving to another building devastated by the lightning, the Claws were confronted by yet another group of shades. The monsters were dispatched with little effort, but the group realized they needed a change of plans.

    “This’ll be recursive, it’s like we’re constantly rebooting something!” yelled D-Klak. “It’ll keep happening until we find Mazkertis! Klak and I will get to him, the rest of you help these people out.”

    “What about the containment field?” Tezzeret inquired. More fires spread as another barrage of lightning bolts struck the city.

    “We’ll do it once we have the man distracted!” D-Klak replied.

    The Klaks quickly left to search for the wizard. Unbeknownst to them, they were being followed by Caiaphus.

    “Mazkertis has to be located in a place that gives him a good vantage point, and is near enough to the city,” theorized Klak. “This location must be secluded enough or ignored enough to maintain the element of surprise. The nearby mountains could work, or that warehouse area.”

    “Clever,” D-Klak said with a grin.

    They instantly stopped once they saw Figlio’s corpse on the ground. Despite being taken aback by such a shocking, morbid, and grisly sight, they knew Mazkertis was near. Sure enough, the wizard floated towards them.

    Finally,” he proclaimed in his usual telepathic manner. “I was worried that my mental suggestion wouldn’t work. Now, to fini-

    The thoughts were interrupted as Mazkertis was slammed through the beams of one of the unfinished warehouses. He was about to shoot his assailant when the very forces of gravity restrained his arms.

    “So, you are the mystical and fearsome Mazkertis,” Caiaphus said with a sneer. “How underwhelming. Though I admire your goals of eliminating Klak, I regret to inform you that someone else will achieve this. You see, only I am allowed to destroy him now.”

    Consider an alliance, Makuta!” Mazkertis suggested. “We have no quarrel with one another, and wish for the same thing.

    “Many have aligned themselves with me in recent months. The quota is full, human,” the Makuta replied, smirking. “You misunderstand either way: Klak will fall by my hand...as did you.”

    A tan light coursed through Caiaphus’ fingers as he prepared to use a fragmentation blast against Mazkertis. However, in his haughtiness, he failed to see the incoming rays of energy shooting towards him from the wizard’s staff. He was knocked back, freeing Mazkertis from his restraints. Caiaphus magnetically lifted rods and shrapnel in the air and flung them at the wizard. Mazkeris blew them back with a concussion spell, and instantly charged at the Makuta. Blasts of shadow bolts met each other, creating an explosion that pushed them into opposite sides of the room. Caiaphus quickly shimmered out of sight, reappearing behind Mazkertis to jab him in the spine.

    The human grunted and stumbled, dropping his staff. In retaliation, Mazkertis flipped forward and cast his time reversal spell, jerking Caiaphus back into the wall, then onto the ground, and then speeding towards him. Caiaphus retaliated by pushing Mazkertis away with a gust of wind, giving the Makuta enough time to recompose himself and prepare his own attack. He elastically stretched towards his enemy while chain lightning crackled between his fingers. Mazkertis put up a shield, successfully protecting himself from the incoming electrocution.

    He then lunged at Caiaphus, repeatedly punching him in the mask while he growled. They twisted in the air through the struggle, until the Makuta fended off his enemy by biting him in the shoulder. Mazkertis fell down, grasped at his new wound, then glared back at Caiaphus, who was back to his original form. The Makuta charged and leaped at him as though he were a cheetah ready to pounce upon its prey. His eyes glowed with intense heat as two beams shot out from them and straight towards Mazkertis.

    However, the resourceful human once again negated his attack, for his hands (one protected by magic, the other by magitek) beared the brunt of the attack. The heat increased, but he gained more ground, inching closer and closer until he grasped Caiaphus’ face. The surge in energy was too much, and an explosion ensued. Mazkertis was blasted through one of the walls and out of the edifice, his life and hands Asved by a shield he had put up around himself the moment he came close to that wretched Makuta.

    Meanwhile, Caiaphus ripped through purlins and walls until he landed several away, crashing near an alley in the more developed and settled part of town. He stood up, dusting himself and thanking his lucky stars for the fact that his vision was still intact (however, the eyeholes of his mask were broken, revealing nasty black scars that had resulted from the encounter. He began to catch his breath, and decided to return to Mazkertis to finish the fight. However, before he could do so, a familiar presence appeared in front of him.

    “Raziel?” he said, bewildered. “You’re alive?”

    “I should say the same of you, Master Caiaphus,” Raziel scoffed. “At least I have not tasted death as many times as you have.”

    “If you seek banter, then you have arrived at an inopportune time,” the Makuta retorted, chiding his former apprentice as he huffed. “But I have an inkling you are here for another purpose.”

    The wraith chuckled, and held up his blade.

    “Yes, you have said it,” Raziel acknowledged. “He will mend the timeline, a goal not at all ignoble in spite of his controversial methods. A new future will dawn, one untainted by your pitiful attempts to wipe out the universe.”

    Caiaphus rolled his eyes, and sped at Raziel, slamming a sword made of shadow energy into the wraith’s blade. The two continued to brawl, parrying each other’s lashes, until a gust of wind whizzed from the Makuta’s hand and hammered into his enemy. Raziel crashed on the Datrioan beach’s golden sand.

    The Claws of the Phoenix, who had just finished saving civilians from various infernos and disasters related to the shadow storm that was afflicting them, noticed the wraith’s landing. They looked towards Caiaphus, who was sauntering slowly towards them.

    “I shall deal with him alone,” he commanded aloud. “Mazkertis is in the construction area. This is your best chance of forming the containment field! Hurry!”

    Before they could comply, a massive wall of shadow encased the construction area, blocking it from outside interference. Hordes of shades came from the skies and the ground, and squadrons of Lurian soldiers and Death Vanguard joined them. Minutún and Genetoes were at the front of this army, both of them wearing smug and victorious grins on their faces.

    “We’re trapped!” Anzu cried. “They’ve used our strategy against us!”

    “That’s impossible! There’s no way they could have known,” asserted Tezzeret. “Unless….”

    “Unless we have a mole in our ranks,” alleged Cassius Calm. “We must make our stand here, and investigate when we are finished. I pray that the Klaks can hold Mazkertis off in the meantime.”

    The Kindred advanced towards them, each one facing off against a member of the Claws. Minutún, ever the risk taker, charged first, firing his pistol repeatedly at Anzu (why a Kra’lythe was using an ordinary blaster as his weapon, rather than displaying his raw power, was a question the Claws should have asked earlier). The demon twirled into the air, successfully dodging the bullets. He swooped down towards Minutún, grabbing him and flinging him across the beach. Raziel slashed at Caiaphus, his blows cutting into the Makuta’s armor. Caiaphus staggered back and retaliated, flinging plasma blasts that were met by the wraith’s reaver blade. He followed this with a power scream that sent Raziel into a nearby dune.  

    Genetoes struggled against Tezzeret, shards of shadow being easily blocked by the man’s metal arm. The human raised his fist, pure mana crackling like electricity around it, and jabbed the Kra’lythe in the chest, knocking him into the sidewalk that bordered the beach.  

    In the midst of this commotion, Cassius Calm found himself surrounded by a small squadron of Lurian soldiers. One of them pulled out a taser baton and glared at the Buddhist warrior.

    “TRAITOR!” he shouted, charging at Cassius with his fascist comrades. He swung the baton right at Calm’s head, but missed. Calm kicked him in the jaw, instantly toppling him.

    The others pulled out their weapons, but they were not fast enough for Calm; he ran towards a tree, kicked from it, and propelled himself to the ground. Cassius Calm bludgeoned the ground with his fist, surrounding himself with a shockwave of chakra that plowed through the Lurians.

    Genetoes’ eyes widened, and he called for a retreat. The Kindred members got up and stepped back into the army of shades and Death Vanguard soldiers. The Lurians recomposed and also joined the crowd with brandished weapons.

    “Quick,” shouted Anzu, “We must find them before they can recuperate!”

    “Agreed,” replied Caiaphus.

    Both flew into the air and noticed that the Twilight Storm had surrounded their location with the fog of war. They were about to dispel the darkness to reveal the location of the Kindred members, until Tezzeret shouted for them.

    “Little help here?!”

    Both masters of the shadows joined their comrades, for they were being assaulted by a massive force of shades (with a handful of Death Vanguard and Lurian troopers to boot). Each member of the Claws of the Phoenix gave it their best, using combinations of kicks, punches, and barrages of their own special powers to subdue the dark wisps. Caiaphus drove a Vanguard insane with fear and used plasma bolts to destroy several more shades. Anzu clawed through untold numbers of enemies.

    “Ready?” asked Cassius Calm of Tezzeret. His left fist glowed white.

    “Right. Just like training,” affirmed Tezzeret. His own metallic arm fiercely crackled.

    They clasped their hands together, firing an intense combination of raw power that ripped through hordes of shades, immediately decimating them. However, this effort was almost in vain. Lightning struck, and even more shades were added to the hundreds that were already present.  
    “Keep going!” shouted Calm in an attempt to encourage his compatriots. They were going to tire themselves out at some point, but that’s what the Kindred wanted. Perseverance would have to be their sustenance, for they needed to draw out the bigger fish.

    --

    The Klaks approached Mazkertis’ location, warily drawing their swords. The wizard coughed as he emerged from the site of his landing, triumphantly gazing upon them from behind his ghostly mask.

    Yes, finally,” he whispered from his psyche. “Both of you are here.

    “What did you expect,” D-Klak mocked. “A Jabberwocky fan with a top hat?”

    Mazkertis rolled his eyes and sped at them, flinging green and red balls of offensive magic. Klak dodged the blasts and kicked the wizard in the chest. D-Klak’s cloak was grazed by the human’s offensive, but he was unfettered by this as he jabbed Mazkertis in the face.

    The combination of well-timed blows knocked the wizard back, but not before he could launch two shots of shadow energy that whacked into both Klaks.

    Everyone recomposed. Mazkertis reached outward, calling to his staff. The rod flew to his prosthetic hand and he caught it, quickly charging it with magical energy. All three men charged at each other, weapons brandishing. The clash of metal and magic formed a visual ambience to their dance of death. Mazkertis blocked one of the blows with magic while parrying the other with his staff. Switch. Repeat.

    Klak tricked the wizard into thinking that he was about to hit his shielded arm, but in a split second, he twirled and kicked Mazkertis in an unguarded part of his side. D-Klak followed with a punch to the gut, knocking the air out of the human. The latter was not given enough time to recompose, as a combined orb of light and Force lightning that came from the Klaks had walloped into his chest.

    Spitting on the ground, Mazkertis huffed for whatever semblance of breath he would inhale. His mask was twisted out of place, with his mouth and chin fully visible.

    “That’s enough,” ordered Klak authoritatively. “Mazkertis, we don’t have to do this. D-Klak is dead.”

    I wasn’t born yesterday,” the wizard replied, his mind’s voice ever so crisp. “How shameless of a liar are you?

    “It’s true,” D-Klak concurred with a shaky voice, no doubt stunned by the battle and by the fact that he had been informed of his doom only a few weeks ago.

    “The D-Klak you see is one from the past. We brought him here to aid us against you,” Klak explained. “In this time period, he died. Figlio is dead too. Zev won’t bother you if you stay away from him. Everyone else is scattered across the cosmos. It’s over, Mazkertis. There’s no need for any of this.”

    You misunderstand,” the wizard said, tersely.

    “You’ll have to answer for your crimes,” continued the Makuta. “All the people you have murdered….but I’ll do my best to ensure you receive help. Proper treatment. I know what Figlio and Dr. Lascovitz did to you all those years ago, and what D-Klak did, but we can help you cope.”

    This is my way of coping, Klak,” Mazkertis asserted. “Vengeance is the only way to heal myself, and to heal this universe. You could kill D-Klak, and another Klak remains. My wounds remain. The suffering inflicted upon us all by your kind remains.

    D-Klak aimed his gunblade at Mazkertis’ head, while Klak cautiously stood in attack position.

    I will not accept your patronizing offer, you monster.” he continued. “I will not rest until I achieve my destiny.

    Mazkertis called out to his staff, which came from behind both of the Klaks and tripped them. He raised his arms and disappeared, but not before heaving out ripples of green and purple energy all around them to destroy the unfinished building. As the edifice began to collapse, D-Klak turned to Klak and nodded.

    “Cover your auricles,” he said.

    Klak complied, and his counterpart immediately emitted a powerful scream that dispelled rubble from falling onto them.

    “I love sound powers,” D-Klak confessed.

    The Klaks made their way through the rubble, barely dodging a lightning strike from the Twilight Storm. Suddenly, five individuals who all looked like Mazkertis appeared. D-Klak immediately suspected that they were all shades, and subsequently fired at them using his gunblade. All but one were destroyed; the surviving Mazkertis, the genuine article, walked in a zig-zag formation to successfully dodge the lasers.

    He swung his staff upward, sending a green shockwave towards Klak and knocking him into a nearby brick wall. Mazkertis continued charging until his staff clashed with D-Klak’s blades once more.

    Vile self-righteous cretin,” he ‘spat out’ mentally. “Acting morally superior after what you did to me!

    They continued to struggle, faces ever so near their respective weapons.

    “You put lives in danger, and you didn’t surrender. Even when Zev and I had an entire team against you!” D-Klak growled. He slowly began to confess in the midst of his strain. “But you don’t think...I have regrets? I’ve had to do terrible things,” “But that...is my line of work. I do questionable things….things that keep me up at night...just so a child on a planet light-years away can sleep safely.”

    Then you understand,” Mazkertis interjected. “You know why I must do this: for justice! For the greater good of existence!

    “Oh no,” D-Klak replied. “You crossed a line when you killed thousands! You’re not doing this for the greater good, that’s just what you’ve deluded yourself into believing!”

    A bright light flashed from Mazkertis’ staff, temporarily blinding the Kestora. Klak shouted and charged at the wizard. He hit him with several shots of heat rays, but Mazkertis quickly regained the upper hand. He tapped his sceptre on the floor, freezing Klak’s legs. The Makuta attempted to used his Kraata powers to break free, but his opponent was already in front of him. A dreadful onslaught of mental attacks, shadow bolts, and mere energy blasts all thrusted at Klak, immobilizing him as he howled in pain. Lightning from the Twilight Storm struck near them.

    Mazkertis quickly turned to D-Klak and flung him into the air. He also raised several bricks that were lying around in the construction sight and sent them flying towards the Kestora. Luckily, D-Klak was fully lucid. He pushed away four bricks using the Force as he fell towards the ground, and destroyed the seven that remained with his sonic screams.

    However, before D-Klak could crash onto the ground, Mazkertis grabbed him by the collars of his cowl and dragged him across the aforementioned brick wall. The blocks clattered to the floor. The human raised his enemy into the air and smashed him into the ground, a body sized crater developing underneath them. Mazkertis then bludgeoned D-Klak several times with his staff. The Kestora struggled and writhed, but he did not allow himself to fall so easily. He was about to retaliate with a sonic scream when suddenly, his enemy moved at breakneck speeds and leaped on top of him. Mazkertis’ hands were pressed up against D-Klak’s mouth, and his thumbs were on his auricles.

    Perhaps if you continue, my hands will be destroyed,” the wizard conceded, mockingly. “But what will happen to your head? It is a gamble you will not take.

    D-Klak gulped. He had to think of something. But just by looking into his enemy’s crimson eyes he could tell that this was the end of their fight: they shone beyond the masked face with gleeful satisfaction.

    Oh, you shall not fall so swiftly and easily, Klak,” Mazkertis said, clarifying his intentions. “I am going to obliterate every value you hold dear, bring ruin to this universe’s Klak, change this timeline to my Kindred’s liking, and then….Then I shall kill you when you are most vulnerable. You shall spend the rest of your life wondering when the hour will come when I erase you from existence, and your last thoughts will be the utter terror at realizing that once you are gone, no one can protect those you care for…..from me.

    D-Klak was enraged and shocked, but Mazkertis cast a sleeping spell on him, effectively knocking him out and preventing him from acting out on these desires.

    The remaining Klak had returned to consciousness, so the wizard commanded his staff to pin him to the ground. However, the Makuta saw it coming and rolled out of the way. He stood up, and seemed to disappear, reappearing right next to Mazkertis. Klak repelled the wizard into the brick wall using his crast, and hurled twenty balls of light at him. He then summoned his Keyblade and slashed at the wizard, beating him down.

    Once again, Mazkertis started coughing. He removed part of his mask and spat out blood onto the floor.

    “Give up, Mazkertis. I won’t offer you a second chance,” Klak warned. “There is a way out of this without more bloodshed.”

    To hell with you,” replied Mazkertis’ mind while he coughed.

    Something was off. Why did the wizard seem weaker than he actually was? Klak decided to keep him talking until he could figure out what was wrong.

    “You are not well, in more ways than one,” he continued. “Just let us help you. Call off the storm, and let’s leave these people alone, okay?”

    Mazkertis sniffed, then stood up. Klak saw his unmasked face, but instead of wearing a grimace of defeat, it wore a grin of victory.

    Suddenly, the entire volley of light attacks that Klak had used earlier reappeared, this time diverted back at their original user. The Makuta was pelted left and right with what once was his own attack, for the wizard had absorbed it and diverted it back at him. The bloodied coughs were mere parlor tricks designed to distract him.

    Mazkertis leaped and backhanded Klak, his left fist encased in a layer of magic that prevented him from breaking his knuckles against the Makuta’s metallic face. Before his enemy could react, the wizard fired energy at him from his staff, slamming him through the doorway of an abandoned warehouse.

    Klak tried to get up, but was pushed down by Mazkertis’ gravity magic. He countered with his own manipulation of this force, placing an immense invisible weight on the man’s shoulders. Though the veins on Mazkertis’ neck bulged as he struggled with the pressure, he continued with a slow, strained march towards his enemy. He dropped his staff, and his cold hands fell upon the Makuta’s mask. A feeling of drowsiness started to numb Klak’s senses.

    Assuming death was knocking at his door, he activated his Crast, sending Mazkertis flying into a nearby wall. The man recomposed himself, and shocked Klak with electricity.

    Your prattle will be silenced once you see the truth. The truth of your kind,” snarled the mind of Mazkertis.

    Klak felt dizzy, and soon his mind fell into a series of visions. The first detailing the universe Mazkertis claimed to have seen many years ago, a utopia united under the Intergalactic Confederation of Republics. Though the sights mesmerized him, his face reacted to every image, and twisted into shock and disgust upon the appearance of the alleged alternate Klak, a tyrannous fiend that ransacked the IGCR until not an ember was left of it.

    --

    Cassius Calm looked up after knocking back a Lurian soldier, gasping. Tezzeret sensed the same thing, and wore a concerned look on his face.

    “Is that…?” he asked.

    “An illusion spell,” Anzu confirmed, morosely. “Mazkertis just cast it on someone.”

    “We need to find a way to Mazkertis’ location, Klak must be trapped!” Tezzeret roared, slamming his fist into a Death Vanguard that tried to stab him with a beam saber. Dabs of sweat accentuated the feeling of pain that was starting to bite at his muscles.

    “Yes, all two of them,” quipped Caiaphus, wearily.

    “Who knows what sort of lies that monster is telling him,” Anzu whispered to himself.

    Before they could advance, the aforementioned Kindred members revealed themselves. Raziel summoned his wraith blade and charged at Caiaphus.

    “No, stop, Raziel!” yelled Genetoes, slightly annoyed, for that was not part of their plan.

    But the beast ignored him, engaging in a brief swordfight with Caiaphus. The Makuta gained the upper hand, lifting him into the air using control of gravity and slamming him into the ground.

    “Did you forget why you once called me master, Raziel?” he mocked. Caiaphus clubbed the wraith several times in the face, then grasped his shoulder and flung him to the seas. Raziel rolled down the berm as the tide came in.

    Genetoes slowly approached Caiaphus, then disappeared. He reappeared in front of the Makuta, and fired a bolt of shadow. Caiaphus quickly negated it. This continued over and over again, until the Kra’lythe ceased flinging volleys.

    “A Makuta evenly matched with a Kra’lythe,” Genetoes noted. “This is not typical.”

    “I am no ordinary Makuta,” Caiaphus retorted.

    The Kra’lythe appeared to smirk and charge at Caiaphus, violently swinging his staff at his temples. The Makuta tried to block it with his arm, expecting to hear a thunk, but he noticed that nothing happened. It was an illusion made of pure shadows.

    Just before he could curse at himself for missing such obvious bait, Caiaphus gasped, feeling something skewering him. Genetoes had appeared behind him and impaled him with the energized, sharpened end of his staff. Luckily, there was no antidermis stored there, so the Makuta did not need to fear any leakages. Still, it would take far too long to heal.

    Genetoes quickly pulled his staff out, and backhanded Caiaphus to the ground. He turned and nodded to Minutún, who was engaged in a fistfight with Cassius Calm.

    “Enough of this!” said Calm. “I’ve entertained myself with fighting you, now to bring you to justice!”

    Minutún did not reply, instead smirking and crouching. His wrists danced and fingers jerked in strange movements. Faint yellow and green lights could be seen surrounding these appendages. Calm felt that he was losing control of his body as he came to the horrifying realization that this Kra’lythe had the power of corruption.

    Cassius Calm screamed in pain as his body was overloaded with chakra. The veins in his arms glowed with hot, white energy as his hands blasted everyone near him. Tezzeret, who was engaged in a brawl with remaining Death Vanguard mooks, felt a searing pain in his enchanted metallic arm. Calm’s corrupted chakra had a horrific effect on it, and before he could act, the appendage exploded. Tezzeret slowly drifted in and out of consciousness until one of the mooks knocked him out with a mere punch.

    Minutún felt triumphant. So triumphant that he forgot to regulate the dangerous power he wielded in his hands. It soon began to overwhelm him, and he cried out in pain as it surged. This, along with a loose blast from Calm, made him writhe in pain until he fell unconscious.

    Anzu had spent the last minute scoffing at the last two surviving Lurians who had teamed up on him.

    “You must be joking,” he had said, smirking.

    “Indeed we are, xeno scum,” one of them spat out while Calm was being corrupted.

    A hole was blasted into one of Anzu’s wings. The demon grunted in pain, and quickly ran to Cassius Calm. He jabbed him in the back and to immobilize him, knowing that the lack of consciousness would subdue the untamed energies coursing through his body.

    Anzu gasped for air and nearly collapsed, looking around. He saw Caiaphus lifting himself up, and noticed that Minutún and Raziel had been defeated. However, Tezzeret and Calm were in a similar state. Only Genetoes, Caiaphus, Anzu, two Lurians, and a small army of shades remained. None of the Kindred or Claws were dead, but they had each faced significant knockouts.

    The Twilight Storm began to break up around them. It was still prevalent around the warehouses in the distance, but Anzu could see the moonlight creeping through the wisps of the dastardly spell.

    Both sides realized that they were at a stalemate. The Kindred had effectively sabotaged the Claws’ plan to contain Mazkertis, but they faced casualties. The Claws had defeated many of their enemies, but two of their own nearly died and now both Klaks were out of reach, fighting Mazkertis himself.

    The figures that remained all eyed each other, wondering whether to continue their struggle or retreat while they still could.

    --

    The vision of the utopian universe was dispelled, and Klak found himself in a foggy plain. A series of figures made their way towards him, and one of them was Caiaphus.

    “Caiaphus, what’s going on?” asked Klak, a hint of panic in his voice.

    “You fool,” Caiaphus said, wearily. “You failed them all.”

    He seemed to dissipate, turning into ashes. Uterio di Armechio rode in, pointing an accusatory finger at Klak.

    “This could have been prevented without the meddling murder your ‘brother’ perpetrated upon me!” he shouted in his stentorian voice that resounded in the darkness. “D-Klak was my downfall, and you a willing accomplice. I could have brought order to your universe, prevented men like Mazkertis from ever being unleashed to destroy innocent lives. Now you realize, Klak, that I was right in what I did. We could have protected this universe together, but you spat upon that. Klaks destroyed me, and in the end, destroyed their friends.”

    “Lies! All lies!” Klak scoffed angrily. “How dare you twist this situation to justify your crimes? You’re a dead man anyway.“

    Uterio morosely shook his head, and dissipated as well, his ashes combining with those of Caiaphus. Akzer arrived after the Generalissimo with a perplexed gaze.

    “All I wanted was to stop Caiaphus,” he hissed. “But you murdered me.”

    “You were still a monster,” maintained Klak, almost attempting to reassure himself. “I may have killed you in misguided rage but I prevented you from hurting people! I did!”

    Akzer repeated the word ‘murder’ as he collapsed into ashes. Blackout followed, scowling at Klak.

    “I wanted to protect our race, but you,” he scoffed in his gruff voice, pausing while narrowing his eyes in rage. “You betrayed your own kind and brought them on the path of doom. And in the end, you will become a monster who will lead us to the Reckoning. When Mazkertis cleanses the Omniverse of Makuta, and your future self conquers whatever remains, history will see your name as synonymous with extinction.”

    Klak said nothing, having been taken aback by the stinging words. Blackout disintegrated like his predecessors, the mix of grey ash and embers forming a small pile a few feet away from Klak.

    The next figures were of his friends, all slowly moaning and pointing at him in accusation.

    “You roped me into this,” Zev barked. “A madman wants me dead. Now the love of my life is in danger, and it’s all your fault.”

    “My body is forever destroyed because of you,” Nadle cried. “Now I will drift around aimlessly through your various misadventures, flirting with death while accompanying a disgrace.”

    “Nadle, Zev, no, I….” Klak stammered as he tried to respond, but he stopped as the tears welled up in his eyes. He then witnessed an apparition of both Jinx and Peter, two Malchiorian friends of his who died in Ragnarok, approach him.

    “You left us to die,” Jinx said, wearily.

    “Some hero,” grumbled Peter.

    “Jinx, Peter, I’m sorry,” cried Klak in a quavering voice.

    Neither Nadle, nor Jinx, nor Peter disintegrated. Instead, they continued moving towards Klak, cornering him.

    “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” asked a confused D-Klak. “Why didn’t you tell me about my death, and how you failed to save me?”

    Klak shook his head, denying it at first, but the grief and shame welled up in his heart.

    “You abandoned your own president,” said the late, but great President Howard. “Your people, lost, because of you.”

    “You poisoned us!” exclaimed several humans in the audience of lost souls. Klak recognized them as members of the Malchiorian Anti-Makuta movement. They seemed to be referring to the Rac Koon city plague, which was started by none other than F-Klak.

    “I know,” murmured Klak in sorrow. “I know.”

    “I Asved your life, and you repay me with suspicion,” proclaimed Ynot. “And you’ve summoned a threat that not even I can stop alone. Mazkertis is your problem; he should have never been mine.  Should they die, the blood of my friends will be on your hands.”

    “My son is missing,” Kakamu said. “The Red Star that was meant to be deliverance to our peoples was nothing but another cog in the machine of oppression that churns throughout this universe. But you don’t care, do you?”

    More and more of friends, comrades, and acquaintances of Klak appeared, all highlighting his failures. Shouts of “traitor,” “murderer,” and “failure” came from them all, a scattered chant among the vicious crowd. Klak negated it, slightly cowering as the mob began to surround him.

    “No,” he said, as the shouting continued. “NO!”

    The mob of familiar faces, nearly grappling him, disappeared. Klak now stood in a blank expanse, similar to a splashed white canvas. Axalara and Treveya (wiki article), the women who held his heart, were both facing him.

    “Just an illusion,” Klak repeated to himself. “Just an illusion!”

    Treveya frowned, reaching towards Klak, but disintegrating. Reminders of her unfortunate death at the hands of the demon Set twinged throughout his soul. Klak ran towards Axalara, attempting to save her from the same fate, but before his hand could touch hers, she too dissipated.

    Klak cried out in panic, watching the black ashes of all the people he had seen in these visions collect into a mass that tainted the expanse. Soon, he was surrounded by pitch-black darkness. A pair of familiar eyes appeared in the shadows, and Klak heard a voice he immediately recognized with dread.

    “Look at you,” it said, laughing. “Attempting to delay the inevitable!”

    “You’re just an illusion of a fake, F-Klak!!

    “Oh no, you’re wrong, dear,” said the voice of F-Klak. “I exist in your mind now. But do you know what is more delightful? The man you face….Mazkertis, is right, in a way. You see, I am either dead or alive, and I am either a clone, or your true self. Nevertheless, there is a certain inevitability surrounding all of these possibilities! You could labor like Sisyphus to be rid of me, but you can never escape, because in the end I am you. I will always be enticing you to bring you one step closer to becoming the monster Mazkertis is desperately hoping to vanquish.”

    F-Klak’s laughter echoed throughout the expanse as the mass of darkness violently lurched forward, slamming into Klak. The Makuta of Light cowered as he was tormented by the onslaught, feelings of hopelessness overcoming him. As the illusion ended, he slumped to the ground. He could not see Mazkertis anywhere, adding to the overwhelming sense of despondency and grief.

    Klak’s quiet sobs echoed throughout the empty warehouse, as the only light in its ever-present darkness came from the fires of the burning city.


    _________________


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    Kon
    The Chronicler
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Kon on Sat May 07, 2016 1:52 am

    Welcome to Chapter 12. This is one of 4 chapters that I've been working on over the past few months. This is what I would classify as a "joke chapter", which is a chapter that deals with joke characters more than serious ones, though it does include events that will affect the main plot of The Mazkertis Paradox. Some old characters die, and some new characters live.

    Expect a serious chapter from me next time.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter 12: Breakout

    On the planet Mariejois, an alarm rang in a luxurious bedroom. Its occupant groaned and groggily felt around on his bedside table, hoping to hit the alarm clock that had shattered the beautiful dream he was having. After knocking over a book, a glass of water, and his mobile phone, the man finally found the alarm clock, and pounded it with his fist. The alarm stopped as quickly as it started, and was replaced with a pleasant female voice.

    “Good morning, Commander-in-Chief Zicks.” It said. “Your appointment with the senate will begin in thirty minutes.”

    “Ugh…” Zicks muttered, hoping that this was only another dream. “What?” he said quietly to himself.

    “Repeat: Your appointment with the senate will begin in thirty minutes.”

    Zicks gave his alarm clock another whack, causing its voice to whimper and trail off into static. “I was talking to myself.”

    The commander forced himself out of bed and made his way over to the bedroom mirror. Sure enough, his own face stared right back at him. Akoran Zicks was a human man with Japanese ancestry, which was a rarity in this part of space, and impossible to tell from his unusual name alone. He had a short black mohawk and a neatly-trimmed mustache and beard combo. After he finished admiring himself, Zicks went into the bathroom and splashed his face with water, but stopped when he saw something out of the corner of his eye.

    Sitting upon a dresser was a picture of three men: Himself, Kong (Zicks’s predecessor as Commander-in-Chief), and an old friend of Kong’s named Zev Raregroove. Kong was in the middle, pulling in Zicks and Zev for a massive bear hug while they all laughed and smiled. Zicks smiled sadly as he walked over to the photo and picked it up.

    “I’m sorry, Kong-sama, but the Galactic Government died with you.” Zicks stated. “I’d never be strong enough to pick up where you left off.”

    His mind travelled back to Kong’s funeral a few weeks prior, where he had given an emotional eulogy about his mentor. Just before leaving, he had bumped into someone named “Klak”, who lectured him on the hardship of death and the strength one must have to fill the void left by it. Zicks had thanked Klak for his kind words, but silently rejected his advice. He decided that he would not waste time trying to hold up the Galactic Government in the absence of Kong, especially when so much of it had already become ineffectual during Kong’s old age.

    After getting dressed and preparing his speech, Zicks grabbed his phone, left his quarters and walked towards the Galactic Government’ senate room. He had already given one eulogy this month, and now he would have to give another.

    -----------------

    Across the universe, billions of lifeforms tuned in to GGNews, the Galactic Government’s official news network. Ever since Kong’s funeral, it had been widely reported that the government was going to broadcast their latest senate meeting to the universe via a synchronized livestream. The figure who broke this news, Akoran Zicks, said that it would be a discussion nobody would want to miss, and with the representatives of over a thousand states in attendance, who could argue with him?

    That very discussion was now just under a minute from happening, and almost every pub, hospital, space station and household in the known universe tuned in in anticipation of the event. At the end of a tense countdown, Zicks himself, the de facto leader of the government, burst through a set of double doors on screen. The cameras followed him into the main chamber; a truly humongous room the size of a small city. Thousands of floating podiums filled the room in all directions, each one crewed by one planet’s representative and their respective staff. After taking in this impressive sight, the cameras turned back to face Zicks. The commander stepped forward onto a podium of his own, which then flew up above the other podiums. His apprehensive face was also broadcast on many gigantic monitors around the room that were mounted on the walls, and his voice was boosted through the microphone on his podium.

    “My friends,” Zicks began, “thank you for coming. I’m sure many of you are wondering why I’ve gathered you here today. The truth is, none of us would be here if it wasn’t for Kong, the man who spent his 70,000 year life painstakingly building bridges between the fractured civilizations that make up our universe. Even towards the end of his life, during the widespread Uterio War, Kong refused to relinquish his dream that everyone can enjoy a prosperous-”

    Suddenly, all the electronic equipment in the room stopped working, and each of the podiums that the alien delegates were standing on fell a few feet before their backup systems kicked in. Zicks instinctively screamed as he lost his footing and fell with his podium, only to land on it again a second later. When he got to his feet, his phone rang, displaying a message that told him that the trans-galactic livestream had been interrupted.

    “What the hell?!” Zicks spluttered. Judging from the expressions of the other senators, they had received the same notification.

    The assistant to the senator of Naboo grabbed the mic on his podium and shouted into it. “A communications disruption can mean only one thing! INVASION!”

    “Invasion? Don’t be ridiculou-” Zicks replied using his microphone, but stopped when several hundred senators gasped and pointed at his podium. He slowly turned around to face what they were looking at, and his jaw dropped.

    Behind Zicks was a large, blue-coloured portal which several strange figures were standing in front of. The first figure was some kind of bizarre humanoid with white skin clad in crustacean armor. The second was a blue-skinned, ethereal-looking woman with long white hair. The third was a blonde man in a red and black costume that looked like something out of an 80s mecha anime, and the fourth was a bulky and angry-looking robot. When the portal closed, the livestream came back online.

    The blonde man was the first to come forward, using some kind of retro dance move to slide past Zicks to the front of the podium, leaving behind a rainbow-coloured motion blur that lingered in the air for a few seconds before fading. In addition, some strange music started playing, which only a few would recognize as “eurobeat”, a retro music genre from Earth.

    “INTRODUCING!” The man shouted excitedly, “Space! Pirate! Captain! EUROBEAT!”

    The man then gave a twirl and thrust his arms up in the air, somehow spraying confetti over the entire chamber.

    “That’s me! Next up, not to be confused with the realm in Norse mythology, NIFLHEIM!”

    The white-skinned humanoid stepped up. “h,” he said with a bored demeanor.

    Eurobeat continued, this time pointing at the robot. “From the depths of war-torn Cybertron, she’s come all the way to see you now, give it up for STRIKA!”

    Strika gave no response.

    “And last but not least… I don’t know what to say here… LEVIATHAN!”

    “Enough of this.” The blue-skinned woman, apparently named Leviathan, said as she pushed Eurobeat out of the way and stepped up to the microphone. Her voice was the most powerful of the group, and reverberated through the chamber. The stunned Zicks, who was lying speechless at the end of his podium, wondered if Leviathan actually needed a microphone to make her voice heard.

    “Galactic Government.” She began. “A creature named Mazkertis has been travelling from world to world, draining the life force of some of the peoples you have sworn to protect. His goal is to become powerful enough to make changes to the timeline of your universe. The damage done could be irreparable, and so far, his followers have proven evasive even to me and my host. With your influence and resources, Mazkertis will have nowhere left to hide. Help us, or he will tear out the pages of your lives and your work will be tantamount to nothing. The choice is yours.”

    The chamber remained silent for a few moments, but then burst into a discord of chatter.

    “I have heard nothing of this ‘Mazkertis’!” One of the senators shouted amid the ruckus. “Why waste our time with such nonsense?!”

    The discord continued, with some of the senators saying that they will keep a look out for Mazkertis, but many more denouncing Mazkertis as a work of sensationalist fiction written by Revolutionaries in order to disrupt the workings of the government.

    The chatter subsided when Zicks finally stood up, took the mic back from Leviathan, and spoke into it. He turned around to face her and her comrades, briefly making eye contact before turning back to his congregation.

    “I’m sorry everyone, this was not intentional!” Zicks spluttered. “I did not gather you here today because of this ‘Mazkertis’ or anything like it. I gathered you here to formally announce the dissolution of the Galactic Government.”

    As expected, there was a stunned silence while the congregation processed Zicks’s words. After that, the discord resumed, but twice as angrily as before.

    “First the Shadow Proclamation, and now this? What a joke!” One of the senators raged.

    “But who’s going to administrate trade regulations?!” Another piped up.

    Zicks sighed before continuing. “Yes, at the peak of its existence, this organization was one of the most powerful forces in the known universe. But as Kong grew older, his grip weakened, and our rules became harder to enforce. We spread ourselves too thin, and other alliances like the Cooperative sprung up to take our place. Both sides of the Uterio War crippled our armies and liberated bases from our control. The only thing we can still effectively do is manage prisons, but recent breakouts from Supermax F### B##### and 282 are making me question even that.”

    “So… what are you going to do?” Another ambassador spoke up.

    “Well. The Supermax prisons will be sold off to the Blackwatch Corporation, one of our most prolific shareholders who have expressed interest in them. We’ve also contracted the Blackwatch in the past to administrate trade routes in the Milky Way Galaxy, especially around the planet Coryza. Blackwatch’s head told me yesterday that they are taking steps to expand their organization out of the Milky Way in order to take over some of our duties if we choose to trust them with more.”

    Another senator stood up. “This is an outrage! What about the planets undergoing civil war, like Teruga Prime? Who will step in to mediate the conflict?”

    “The Red Cross is currently in charge of providing relief on Teruga Prime.”

    “That’s not what I meant!” The senator bellowed, but Zicks ignored him.

    The senator of Naboo spoke up. “Meesa propose that yousa give control of the entire Galatic Govament to meesa!”

    “No! This is my final decision. You’re all capable of negotiating extrapolitical affairs by yourselves. The Galactic Government as it stands today is a huge, expensive, unnecessary waste of time, so I’m shutting it down before those damn Revolutionaries, or Great Beings, or this… “Boltman” shuts it down for us. You all only want to keep it afloat because you get paid to come here. This is the end. Not a discussion.”

    Zicks then picked up and dropped the mic, causing the chamber to erupt in a cacophony of angry voices once again. He pressed some buttons on his podium’s control panel, causing it to float down to the bottom of the chamber. Once there, he stepped off it and left through the same double doors he came through, leaving a confused Captain Eurobeat, Nif, Levi and Strika behind.

    Yet another senator, who remained silent until now, tried to lift their spirits. “TRUE PEERS! i just recede new orders. Org superiors say the war is cancelled! Weekend all go home. Bison is getting pay Duff for his crimes. And our friends will have DYED HAIR!!!1 ...will have dyed, for nothing. But, weekend all go home. Meanwhile I deals like piss, freedom, and just dis ...day get tacked up. But... weekend all go home. Well ...I'm not going home. I'm gonna get on my boot and I'm going up writher, and I'm going to kick that sun of a bitch Bison's ass SO HORDE!!!1 ... that the next Bison wanibi is gonna fill it. No who wants to go home, and who wants to go with MIG?!?!?1”

    However, his words were mostly ignored. Most of the other senators started to verbally attack each other. The senator at the forefront of this conflict was the President of Space India, who was listing off ten reasons why all the other senators were “asshols” and should “shutthefuq up”. Another senator told him that he was “salty” because the Cooperative had rejected his request to join. Upon hearing this, the Space Indian President took control of his podium and crashed it into the other’s.

    Below this chaos, Captain Eurobeat looked up at frowned. “Maybe I should summon the FFFF?”

    “Don’t bother. We don’t need these idiots.” Strika responded. “We’d have better luck fishing for help in… well, just about anywhere else.”

    Eurobeat sadly typed something on his wrist-mounted PDA, and another portal tore into existence behind him. Just as the others all turned to leave, one podium floated down to meet them.

    “You leave now, you’re gonna regret it!” Its occupant shouted.

    The allies paused, and turned around to face him.

    “Is that a threat?” Strika said, clenching her fists.

    “No, quite the opposite. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime!”

    Nif stepped out of the shadows to get a better look at the man. He was human, and well-set considering his age of around 70. He wore a well-tailored suit with a bright blue tie. He had dyed blonde hair that was combed forward, and skin that was orange-ish in colour; Nif wasn’t sure whether this was due to makeup, tanning, or what, but he didn’t really care. None of the group knew this, but this man had met with Mazkertis a few weeks prior. To them, he was known as the “Affluent Man”.

    “Okay, so just who the FOK are you?” Nif said, feeling rather unimpressed.

    “Who the fuck am I? I’m the most powerful man on planet Earth, but you can call me Mr. President,” the Affluent Man said as he looked at you, the reader, and made a trollface.

    “Never heard of it.”

    “Really? Well, you will soon enough. So, I hear you have beef with Mazkertis.”

    “Nah, not really, I’m just supposed to kill him.” Nif replied very matter-of-factly.

    “Right… well, listen very closely. I’ve met this ‘Mazkertis’ and I don’t think he’s all that he claims to be. I think he’s arrogant, and he’s a fool. I offered him a great deal - and I don’t make great deals to nobodies very often - and he turned it down. I want him to know that nobody says no to me. I’ve got people out there looking out for him, but it seems like you know a lot more about him than I do.”

    “Uh… probably.” Nif said, obviously bluffing.

    “So here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna make you a deal, and it’s a good deal, trust me, it’ll work out for both of us. I’m prepared to lend you some of my best men to help you track down and kill that wizard and his friends. They’re no amateurs like some of the people you probably have by your side, they’re the best of the best, contract killers who always find their targets wherever they’re hiding and get the job done. One of them even has an actual superpower like you; he can instantly locate anyone or anything in the entire universe just by thinking about them. Problem is, these agents are locked up in a Supermax, and my influence only extends so far. Once Zicks sells them off to the Blackwatch, they’re gonna tighten security even more to make breaking anyone out virtually impossible.”

    “So let me get this straight,” Eurobeat interjected, “you want us to break some people out of prison to help us kill Mazkertis.”

    The Affluent Man gave a smug smile. “You’re a quick learner, aren’t you?”

    Nif briefly had a flashback to when he was transported into Supermax F### B##### and accidentally freed a prisoner named Steven Pinker.

    “Sounds simple enough. Which prison is it, who do you need broken out, and what else is in it for us?”

    The Affluent Man reached into his pockets and pulled out several photos with names and identification numbers. He handed them to the group, who looked over them and raised a few eyebrows.

    “Here’s who you need. Luckily for you, they’re all in the same place. Supermax 282. As for your reward… well, is a reward really necessary? You’ll have the satisfaction of killing Mazkertis, and the permanent allegiance of Earth as long as I’m in power. What could be better than that!”

    “One moment.” Eurobeat muttered as he took his allies to the other end of the walkway and huddled them together. “This is ridiculous. The men he wants us to free are notorious criminals without any sense of justice! They would probably join Mazkertis if he made them a better offer.”

    Strika grimaced. “Agreed. But, Captain, if we do this, we have a way of finding Mazkertis wherever he is, and the entire planet Earth on our side. You keep telling me about this ‘Project D’, but can they offer us the same?”

    “...maybe not, but I still don’t want to work with such crooks.”

    “Yet having Nemesis, the lord of darkness and hate, on your personal strike team is fine?”

    Eurobeat exhaled loudly. “Fiiiine. We’ll give them a shot at redemption. Is everyone ready?”

    Nif, Levi, and Strika all nodded. Eurobeat smiled and entered new coordinates on his PDA, stepping aside as a new portal tore into existence behind him. One by one, the group entered the portal as the Affluent Man looked on with a satisfied smile. He had a feeling that they were going to make the galaxy great again!

    -----------------

    News of the Galactic Government’s dissolution spread across the universe like wildfire, prompting hundreds of news outlets to pry into Zicks’s personal life, wondering if he had some ulterior motive for collapsing the organization. Reactions from other planets were certainly mixed, but there was at least one that was celebrating the GG’s collapse like it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

    This planet was Momoiro, home to the Kamabakka Kingdom. The kingdom, ruled by Emporio Ivankov, was strongly opposed to the Galactic Government and its practices, so much so that its ruler actually openly encouraged members of the Revolutionary Army to meet there. Due to the mentally unstable and aggressively homosexual nature of the kingdom’s residents, the Revolutionaries rarely accepted Ivankov’s offer, but this time they made an exception. Ivankov had promised them that his “okama” would be on their best behavior during the celebrations.

    Ivankov himself was a huge man, at least 10 feet tall, that towered over everyone else. His size was exaggerated by his unusually large head and equally large purple afro. He had long eyelashes and a large, manic grin. He dressed in a garish unitard that exposed his tattooed chest and had a large flared collar, knee-height boots with stilettos and fishnets. Both a king’s and a queen’s crown sat on top of his afro to further emphasize his sexuality.

    ((OOS: For the record, this planet and its inhabitants were introduced by Zev, not me. You’ll see why I’m using them here shortly.))

    “Oh, vhat a beautiful day-ay!” Ivankov sang as he strutted down the steps of his palace. All around him, the okama were shouting and cheering in the street, celebrating the collapse of the GG. Ivankov grinned as he made his way through the crowd, stopping every few moments to do a merry jig with one of the passing okama. Eventually, he reached the city hall and entered it. A few okama tried to follow him inside, but as per his agreement with the Revolutionaries, they were forced to wait outside. However, this did not dampen the okama’s spirits, who continued spreading their merriment throughout the city.

    Inside, Ivankov found himself standing in a room containing a very long table. Seated around it were all the highest-ranking members of the Revolutionary Army, including its leader, Monkey D. Dragon; a tall, menacing-looking man with slicked back hair and interlocking square tattoos on the side of his face. There was silence as he and Ivankov stared at each other for a few moments before bursting into laughter and running to hug each other. All the other Revolutionaries at the table followed suit.

    “Zhis is it!” Ivankov exclaimed in his distinctive accent. “Zhe Galactic Government is finished!”

    The others all cheered.

    “Now we can rule zhe galaxy! Without zhe pesky government’s blockades, vhe and our allies are free to commandeer zhe trade routes, and tax as many vezzels as vhe like! Even zhe Pirate-Lords cannot stop us now! Soon, zhe universe will regret ever freeing me from Impel Down!”

    There were even more cheers, and Dragon raised his glass of ale as a toast before chugging it down. He had almost gotten to the bottom of the glass when a sudden earthquake flung it out of his hand, causing it to fall on the table and shatter. “What in the hell was that?” the pirate asked, whipping out his pistol and looking around cautiously.

    He was answered by another miniature earthquake which caused several other Revolutionaries to fall off their seats. Dragon made his way to the window and peered outside. What he saw made him realize that they were not experiencing earthquakes - they were the aftershocks of explosions.

    “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!” He shouted as he kicked open the huge double-doors of the hall, revealing to the Revolutionaries what was going on outside. In front of them, countless okama were screaming and running in all directions. Unseen airborne attackers were dropping bombs and firing lasers at the ground below, hoping to hit the okama. One of these attackers dropped down to the ground.

    It was a YONBOT.

    The YONBOT’s head swivelled round to face Dragon, and its red iris expanded upon seeing him.

    “Multiple targets located. Preparing to purge.”

    Dragon gave a battle cry and charged at the YONBOT, but it fired a charged optic blast, burning a hole straight through his torso. Dragon gasped and fell to his knees. He briefly reflected on his wasted life, clutching the hole where his heart once was, and died.

    The other Revolutionaries all immediately whipped out their weapons and fired. The YONBOT was strong, but it was not able to withstand tens of bullets battering its armor at once. Within seconds, the YONBOT’s eye was shattered and its body was blasted apart. The pirates gave a battle cry of their own and ran out of the building to further avenge their leader’s death.

    Meanwhile, Ivankov was crouching behind a chair in a pathetic attempt to conceal himself from the invaders. After assessing that the hall was empty, he walked over to a nearby painting on the wall which he took off, revealing a hidden switch. When he flipped it, a section of the wall slid open to reveal the entrance to a metal bomb shelter. Ivankov got on his knees to crawl inside, but stopped when he heard a sinister robotic voice behind him.

    “Where do you think you’re going?”

    Ivankov shuffled around to face the voice’s owner: Boltman. Ivankov’s face lit up upon seeing the face of the man who killed his enemy. Almost everyone in the universe knew who Boltman was by this point, thanks to the portrait of himself he left behind at the scene of Kong’s murder. As a result, Boltman had been painted as an anti-GG terrorist by the media, and Ivankov recognized him as such. Oh, how wrong he was.

    “Vou!” Ivankov cheered. “Vou picked a good time to arrive! Now vhe can destroy zhese invaders togezher!”

    A metallic lightning bolt materialized in Boltman’s hand as its owner glared at Ivankov. All hope that the okama had of an alliance died in that moment. His cheerful expression turned into an angry grimace as he realized that the man he had been praising was never on his side at all.

    “Vou… vou did zhis. Vou attacked my people. Why?”

    “To settle a score.”

    “Vou have a lot of balls coming all zhis vay to fight me!” Ivankov scowled as he assumed a fighting stance. “Now you vill leave zhis place vithout zhem!”

    Boltman snarled and flung the bolt he had been charging in his hand at Ivankov’s head. Ivankov ducked so that the bolt seared through his purple afro instead of his face. He responded by sliding across the floor at superhuman speed and kicking Boltman in the eye with one of his stilettos. The attack shattered the left lens of Boltman’s sunglasses and caused him to stagger backwards in surprise. In the few seconds that Boltman needed to recover, Ivankov followed up with a completely different attack. The okama slammed his hands together in front of him, creating a shockwave that blew the yellow fellow off his feet.

    “Vell, vou certainly aren’t as fast as a bolt, are you?” Ivankov mocked. “It seems all zhat testosterone is making vou violent, but don’t vorry, I can help vith zhat!”

    Suddenly, syringe-like needles protruded from the fingers of Ivankov’s gloves. He lunged at Boltman, but the yellow fellow came to his senses and rolled out of the way just in time, causing Ivankov’s fingers to stab into the ground instead. The okama cursed and pulled on his glove in an effort to dislodge it, but Boltman took the opportunity to blast him in the side with lightning. Ivankov howled in pain and fell over, causing the needles in his gloves to break off. He took a moment to examine his injury: there was now a scorched hole in his unitard and the flesh was burned underneath.

    “Are you ReAdY tO DiE?” Boltman asked as he approached Ivankov, another lightning bolt forming in his hand. He stopped just in front of the okama and lifted the bolt above his head, intending to bring it down in a stabbing motion, but before he could, he felt a stabbing sensation in his chest. Ivankov had stabbed him with another set of needles in the glove on his other hand.

    “Let’s see how vou like zhat, bolt-boy!” Ivankov cackled. Unknown to Boltman, he had just pumped his own brand of magic female hormones into Boltman’s body. Those hormones were capable of transforming any male into a female in mere moments… or so he thought. He waited… and waited… but nothing happened. “Ngeh-?! Vhere are vour breasts and curves? Zhese hormones are proven to vork on anyone!”

    Boltman leaned in close to Ivankov and removed his broken glasses, revealing his eyes. They were grey and robotic, with red “irises” that did not resemble human eyes much, if at all. A wave of panic swept across Ivankov’s face as he realized that Boltman had no hormones to manipulate in the first place. It still wasn’t clear whether Boltman was a robot, or some kind of magical construct, or even a man in a robotic suit, but one thing was certain: Boltman had left any semblance of humanity behind long ago.

    “N-no! Please! I shall give vou anything vou vant! Just don’t-”

    Ivankov’s pleas turned into gibberish as Boltman zapped him with lightning, making the curly hairs that made up his afro stand on end. Ivankov’s eyes spun around and his tongue flapped as the lightning coursed throughout his body. Eventually, he could take no more, and Ivankov laughed his last. His corpse slumped against the floor; his still-manic grin remaining on his face for all eternity. Boltman removed the okama’s hand from his chest and stood up, finally victorious.

    The doors of the city hall swung open and Boltman stepped out. He admired the devastation around him; his YONBOTs had made light work of the island’s inhabitants. He telepathically called his minions back to him as he stepped over the bodies in front of the hall. The one that was closest to him landed at his feet.

    “Status report?” Boltman asked.

    “Threat annihilated. The area has been purged of all life-signs.”

    “And the charges?”

    “Charges planted. We are ready to detonate.”

    Boltman nodded and looked up into the sky. Clouds were gathering over the Kamabakka Kingdom. He commanded his YONBOTs to follow him as he activated his power to turn into a moving lightning bolt, shooting up and away. They followed him up into the clouds. As they left the planet’s atmosphere, the charges they set on the island exploded, destroying huge chunks of the terrain. After the hundredth explosion, the island could no longer support itself and it began to sink into the ocean, taking the remnants of the civilization it was once home to with it. The Kamabakka Kingdom was no more.

    ----------------

    On the other side of the galaxy, a space prison hung in the void. This prison was one of the more notorious prisons in the Supermax line, due to the bizarre nature of its prisoners and its widely-publicized breakouts, which occurred a lot more frequently than the Galactic Government (soon to be Blackwatch) would like. Some believed that this was due to the incompetence of its warden, the power held by its prisoners, or the abundance of a mystical force named “HahaJ'UsT-Seying” within the prison.

    In reality, it was due to all three.

    The warden of the prison, a strange lemon-like humanoid named Lemongrab, was seething with rage in his office. News coverage of the collapse of the Galactic Government was being broadcast on the television set in front of him. He knew what would happen next: All Supermax wardens would undergo “re-evaluation” by the Blackwatch to see if they were worthy of being re-hired. Lemongrab, unfortunately, only did the bare minimum to keep his job as it is.

    “NNNNGH…. UNACCEPTABLE!!!” He screeched at the top of his lungs.

    Suddenly, a whirling blue portal opened dramatically in front of him, causing him to fall backwards off his chair. When he got back up and looked over his desk, four strangers had appeared: Nif, Levi, Strika, and Captain Eurobeat. Lemongrab screamed and began repeatedly slamming the panic button on his desk.

    “Take it easy!” Nif shouted, but Lemongrab could not hear him over the sound of his own voice. Strika stepped forward and grabbed the warden’s face, muffling his voice with her metal hand. He struggled against her, but it was no use.

    “So, is this the right place?” Strika asked her comrades, ignoring Lemongrab’s muffled protests.

    Capt. Eurobeat grabbed some documents off Lemongrab’s desk and flipped through them. Sure enough, “Supermax 282” was marked on each of them.

    “Yes, it appears so. Perhaps we can convince this ‘Lemongrab’ of our goals and come to an agreement! It’d certainly be easier than going through all the guards of the prison to break out the men we need.”

    Lemongrab began struggling harder, so Strika let go. He took a moment to catch his breath, after which he resumed talking, but in the same shrill voice as before.

    “WHO ARE YOUUUUU?! WHY HAVE YOU COME?! EXPLAAAAAAIN!”

    Eurobeat winced and put his fingers in his ears. “Do you have to talk in all-caps? That brings back bad memories.”

    “YEEEEEEEEES!”

    “Ugh. Anyway, Mr….” The captain paused to look at the name on the document, “...Lemongrab, my name is Space! Pirate! Captain! Eurobeat! I strive to protect the innocent, just like I’m sure you do as the warden of a prison such as this. Me and my allies are in pursuit of a wizard named Mazkertis, a vengeful man with no regard for the loss of life his quest entails! We have been told that there is a man in this prison with the ability to detect Mazkertis’s presence anywhere in the universe. We’d like your permission to borrow him for this purpose. After Mazkertis is brought to justice, you have my word that we will return the prisoner to you safe and sound! What do you say?”

    There was a momentary pause, during which Lemongrab thought over the offer. Unsurprisingly, he disagreed. “UNACCEPTABLEEEEEE!!! DUNGEON. TEN YEARS DUNGEON, ALL OF YOU, SEVEN YEARS NO TRIAL.”

    Before Eurobeat and his group could respond, the doors of Lemongrab’s office swung open and heavily-armed guards burst in to hold them at gunpoint. One of them grabbed Levi and locked her hands together with magnetic cuffs. The others advanced towards her allies.

    “In that case, you leave me no choice!” Eurobeat warned. “Prepare for a surprise attack!”

    He began to strike a variety of dramatic poses, each with an accompanying sound effect. After his seventh or so pose, he thrust his fingers towards the guards, somehow releasing an invisible force that blasted them all out of the room.

    “Now THAT’S style!” He said triumphantly.

    Strika slammed the office doors and held them shut. The guards started banging on the other side, and she looked over at Eurobeat. “Captain, with all due respect, I don’t see how we can possibly go non-lethal on this one.”

    “I agree,” Nif said as he broke Levi’s handcuffs with one of his razor-sharp fins. ”These guards give way too many hecks about what we’re doing here.”

    Eurobeat frowned. “Yes… you’re right. Lemongrab will obviously not listen to us, and I have no intention of being locked in a dungeon any time soon. I suggest we split up. I’ll head towards-”

    “Actually, I have a better idea.” Strika interrupted with a smile. “Do you know what my alternate mode is?”

    She was met with blank stares from everyone present, including Lemongrab.

    “A tank. I can transform into a tank.”

    Eurobeat’s face lit up in excitement. “It’s no Gundam, but it’ll do! So, everyone else in agreement?”

    Nif and Levi nodded, but someone else objected. “NOOOOO!” Lemongrab yelled. “I AM NOT IN AGREEMEEEEENT!”

    Strika gave a sigh of disgust and walked over to Lemongrab. The two stared at each other for a few moments before Strika raised her fist and thrust it into his face. There was an almighty splat as the warden’s head exploded, spraying the wall with lemon juice. Strika shook the remaining juice off her hand and calmly walked towards the office doors, looking back at Eurobeat to gauge his reaction. He shrugged.

    “No complaints from me on that one.” He stated.

    Nif, Levi and Capt. Eurobeat stepped back as Strika began transforming into her alternate mode. When she finished, a large six-wheeled tank sat in her place, taking up most of the room. A hatch on the back of the tank opened up to allow the others in. Levi, Nif and Eurobeat walked inside and the hatch closed behind them on its own.

    “So, where are the controls for this thing?” Eurobeat joked.

    Strika’s disembodied voice spoke from the room around them. “You know, I can just as easily eject you.”

    “Just kidding! Whenever you’re ready, Strika, head towards Cell Block D. The pictures that the President of Earth gave us say that the men we’re looking for are there.”

    Without another word, Strika rolled into action. She ploughed through the doors of Lemongrab’s office, turning the guards who were trying to get in into bloody stains on the floor. Her passengers could only hear muffled shouts and alarms from where they were sitting as she tore through the facility, presumably following signs that led her towards Cell Block D.

    ----------------

    Ten minutes later, Strika ground to a halt, but Nif, Levi and Capt. Eurobeat could still hear hints of the war she was waging outside.

    “Strika, what’s going on? Are we there yet?” Eurobeat asked the air around him.

    “GET OUT!” Strika’s disembodied voice frantically replied. The world around her passengers instantly transformed as they were launched out of her body with considerable force. The three allies hit a wall and slumped to the floor, momentarily dazed.

    “Agh… what was that for?” Eurobeat whined. When his vision came back into focus, everything was made clear to him.

    Strika, back in her robot form, was immediately engulfed in the electrical explosion of an EMP grenade. She cried in pain as her joints froze up, and she fell forward onto her face, no longer able to move. Behind her, a platoon of guards advanced, drumming their stunsticks against their riot shields. Eurobeat looked around and saw that they were in the middle of a cell block, with prisoners cheering them on on both sides behind the bars of their cells.

    “Ever been in a prison brawl?” Eurobeat asked Nif and Levi, who both shook their heads. “Well, there’s a first time for everything.”

    Nif looked at the prisoners around him to see if any of them were aquatic, so that he could copy traits of their bodies to fight with. Sadly, none were, but he had already memorized some genomes from his previous adventures in another reality to fight with. Nif used his Evolve power to sprout a large tentacle from his left arm and move a chunk of his coral armor to his right arm to use as a makeshift shield.

    “What the hell…?” One of the guards muttered upon seeing Nif’s transformation. Nif swung his tentacle like a whip, striking the guard across the face. While he was stunned, Nif swept his tentacle across the floor, tripping up the rest of the guards. However, they were not so easily felled. When Nif moved his tentacle back to attack them again, the guards accurately predicted its movement and struck it with their electric stunsticks. Nif winced with pain and the tentacle withdrew on its own as a reflex action.

    Meanwhile, Capt. Eurobeat whipped out his laser pistol, which resembled a Mauser C96. He opened fire on the guards, but the blasts ricocheted off their riot shields and back at his team. One of them hit Nif’s shield and broke a chunk out of it. The elemental glared at Eurobeat.

    “Don’t Ever do that again.”

    Eurobeat apologized and they turned back to face the guards. Their leader cried a battle cry as he charged at the team. Levi frowned and stopped them in their tracks by using her power of advanced water manipulation to hold them in place via their blood. Each of the guards felt immense pain, as you would if the blood in your body suddenly stopped circulating, and cried out in agony. Levi waited for their faces to turn purple, after which she released them. Unsurprisingly, they instantly dropped to the floor. Eurobeat walked over to the fallen guards and used obscure dance moves to knock them out with his hands and feet.

    “I was about to do that, you know.” Nif smiled at Levi.

    “You can’t have all the fun, Niflheim.” The booming voice of Leviathan replied.

    “Uh… guys?” Eurobeat interrupted, “Looks like there’s more ‘fun’ coming up just around the corner.”

    Indeed, another wave was approaching at the far end of the block. However, this one was not made up of just human guards. Five robotic boxguards were advancing ahead of the next squadron of guards, with the targeting lasers of their missile launchers locking on to the group.

    “Shit!” Eurobeat exclaimed. Time seemed to slow as the boxguards fired, sending a payload of missiles towards him and his allies. He crouched down, and, mustering all the willpower he had, Eurobeat summoned his Stand. The space in front of him rippled as the imposing figure of I Came Here To Laugh At You began to take shape. A mere microsecond after the Stand fully materialized, the missiles hit their target. I Came Here To Laugh At You was engulfed in a massive explosion that threw Nif, Levi and Capt. Eurobeat across the room and into chairs that weren’t there before.

    Levi instantly got up off her chair and ran over to Eurobeat, expecting him to be gravely injured. After all, she knew that if a Stand was significantly damaged or injured, the body of its owner would receive a portion of the damage. This was something that Capt. Eurobeat had explained to her a week or two ago.

    Yet, Eurobeat was not injured. There was not even a mark on his uniform. Levi breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing this, and Eurobeat began to laugh. When the smoke surrounding his Stand cleared, they could see that it had sustained no damage at all: I Came Here To Laugh At You was encased in a thin protective forcefield. The golden titan pointed a finger of its own at the boxguards and mimicked Eurobeat’s laughter.

    The blonde hero rose effortlessly to his feet and smirked at the opposing force. “Hahaha! Did you really think I would fall for such a pathetic move?”

    The laughter continued echoing across the block. For some reason, each of the guards instantly felt demoralized. Some of them felt ashamed for daring to challenge Eurobeat, while others had the urge to go home and rethink their lives.

    “I’ll give you this chance to turn back now, and forget this ever happened… or live with the shame of failure for the rest of your lives!”

    The guards, in their altered mental state, looked at each other, shrugged, and walked away. However, the boxguards were not so easily convinced to abandon their mission. Whatever power that Eurobeat’s Stand was using, it had no effect on robots. They loaded more missiles into their launchers and prepared to fire again.

    “Oh no you don’t!” Eurobeat said, pointing the index and middle fingers of his right hand at the boxguards in the shape of a finger gun. His Stand copied his movements, raising its massive rifle at the robots. When Eurobeat’s thumb dropped like the hammer of a gun, his Stand fired a massive laser at the middle robot which cut through its midsection, destroying it instantly. He did the same to the second, third and fourth boxguards, but the last was destroyed by a missile fired from somebody else.

    The last missile came from Strika, who was wearily getting up off the ground. She nodded respectfully at the captain.

    “Strika!” Eurobeat cheered. “You’re alive!”

    “Of course I’m alive. It was only an EMP. Those kind of EMPs are ultimately harmless to Cybertronians… but damn, they sting like a bitch...”

    Eurobeat smiled and nodded. He turned to look over the unconscious bodies of the first wave of guards in front of him. The enemy had been defeated, and surprisingly, the only casualty was that of the prison’s warden, which he felt surprisingly okay about. Now all that was left for them to do was recover the prisoners that the Affluent Man had promised them. He waved a hand behind him, dematerializing I Came Here To Laugh At You, and took the photos out of his pocket. Nif, Levi and Strika came over and stared at the photos, memorizing the prisoner ID numbers written on them: #299, #384 and #533, respectfully.

    “I’ll go and free the first one.” Strika said. She walked over to cell number #299, grabbed the bars, and pulled. To her surprise, the door to the cell was not torn off the wall like it should have been with her impressive strength.

    “How the heck am I supposed to open this cell?” Nif called down from one of the upper levels. Apparently, he was having the same problem.

    “What?” Strika muttered to herself. She punched the cell bars, hoping to make a dent, but nothing happened other than her nearly breaking her hand. “FFFFFFFFF-”

    “I believe I can be of assistance.” A calm male voice spoke from inside the cell.

    “After the trouble we’ve been through to break you out, you better be.” Strika replied through clenched teeth.

    “Break out? It’s about time. So, to whom do I owe the pleasure?”

    “I am Strika of Cybertron. My allies are Space Pirate Captain Eurobeat, Niflheim, and Leviathan.”

    “I’m not familiar with those names. Who do you work for?”

    “The President of Earth, apparently.”

    “Well well! That changes everything.”

    The man stepped forward into the light, revealing himself to Strika. He was a tall bald white man with chiseled features and the orange jumpsuit standard for Supermax prisoners.

    “I am 47. Agent 47. A pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Strika of Cybertron. I was wondering when Mr. President was going to send someone to break me out. Now, listen carefully. It is near-impossible to break into this cell, or any cell in a Supermax prison with brute force - after all, they have a reputation to uphold - because the doors are made of pure adamantium. Fortunately for both of us, there is a way around this. At the far end of the room, you will see a power box mounted on the wall. Destroy it, and the locking mechanisms of every cell on this block will fail, freeing all the prisoners at once.”

    Strika took a moment to let this sink in. Was it really a good idea to let all these criminals back into the universe? After giving it some thought, she decided that they were ‘small fry’ compared to the threat of Mazkertis, who they could only track down with the help of someone in this prison. A small price to pay for the help of a powerful ally.

    “Alright.” Strika responded. She stepped back from the cell and called up to her allies. “Captain, Nif, Levi, the only way to open the cell doors is to blow a power box. Are you ready?”

    “What?!” Eurobeat called back.

    “I’ll take that as a yes!” Strika said as she turned to face the power box at the other end of the room. Without further ado, she fired another missile from the second cannon on her back. The missile hit the power box, leaving a blast crater in the wall where it once was. Within seconds, every cell door on the block slid open. The air was filled with victorious shouts and cheers as most of the prisoners ran in the direction of the shuttle bay.

    On the upper level, Captain Eurobeat was pushed against the railing as countless prisoners ran past him. He looked around for prisoner #384, trying to find his face among the crowd, but to no avail. He considered summoning his Stand again to stop the prisoners and give him a chance to catch up with them, but something else caught his attention instead.

    Someone, somewhere on the level, was emanating a huge amount of pressure. Captain Eurobeat was one of the few people in the galaxy who could detect this kind of pressure; the kind that only exceptionally powerful beings gave off. He felt the pressure intensify as it got closer to him, so much so that it turned into a full-blown headache. Eurobeat pressed both his hands to his temple, closed his eyes and recoiled onto the floor in an attempt to negate the pain. It didn’t help.

    “Wow… so beta.” A voice muttered in front of him.

    Eurobeat opened his eyes to see who the voice belonged to. From this angle, he could only see a pair of black military boots standing in front of him.

    “What’s the matter, kid? Too scared to face me?”

    Eurobeat looked up to see the face of the man in front of him. He appeared to be a human man in his early-20s with pale skin, long black hair and prominent cheekbones. He wore the same orange jumpsuit as all the other prisoners, but his was covered in dried, faded blood.

    “Who… are you…?” Eurobeat gasped, still in pain from the immense pressure the figure was giving off.

    “What, you don’t remember me?” The man smirked. He teleported away for a split second, reappearing wearing a black leather trenchcoat with a katana and an anti-materiel rifle strapped to his back. “Why don’t you ask your HS crush?”

    Suddenly, Eurobeat’s thoughts travelled back to when he was at high school. A picture of the girl he had a crush on at the time formed in his mind, except this time, the man from the prison was there with her, and they were furiously making out.

    “No… NO!” Eurobeat exclaimed. It was impossible… wasn’t it?

    “Yeah… sorry.” The man said in a mock apologetic tone. Eurobeat reached out to grab him, but he teleported away before he could. On the plus side, the pressure that Eurobeat felt in the man’s presence had disappeared along with him.

    Nif and Levi came running up to Eurobeat and helped him off the floor.

    “What happened? Are you okay?” Levi asked him, with a genuine tone of concern in her voice.

    “I… I...” Eurobeat tried to explain, but he couldn’t find the words. “I don’t want to think about it. Did you get the prisoners?

    Nif nodded. “Yeah, follow me.”

    Eurobeat followed Nif and Levi to a cell on the lower levels, where Strika and Agent 47 were waiting for them. 47 shook Eurobeat’s hand and gave him a pleasant, but emotionless, greeting, introducing himself as a Hitman™ who was more than capable of killing Mazkertis, provided they gave him a time and a place.

    “So, where are the other two prisoners we were promised?” Eurobeat asked.

    47 raised an eyebrow. “Other two?”

    Eurobeat handed 47 the three photographs that the Affluent Man gave him. 47 looked at them and nodded.

    “Yes, the first one escaped, but he wouldn’t have been much use to you anyway. There’s a reason they call him the Joker. He definitely has talent, yes, but he’s unreliable and absolutely insane. It probably won’t be long before he’s caught again and put back where he belongs.”

    “And the other one?”

    “The other’s right here.”

    47 motioned for Strika to get out of the way of the cell. She shuffled to the right, revealing its bizarre occupant. He appeared to be a white man with a humongous head and disproportionate limbs. His massive jaw opened to form an ecstatic smile upon seeing his rescuers, and he pointed at them with an oversized finger.

    “SEE!” Prisoner #533 shouted.

    ----------------

    Meanwhile, the powerful prisoner who taunted Captain Eurobeat at the prison was embarking on a journey of his own. Right now, he wasn’t sure where he was. He only knew that he was falling.

    What he was seeing was impossible to describe with our limited vocabulary, and even more impossible to understand. Perhaps the seemingly-random colors and shapes that passed him by on his journey to parts unknown played some vital role in the workings of reality. Perhaps the Users, or the Chousin, or the Sorcerer Supreme was capable of understanding the alignment of dimensions that the man was falling through. Despite the fact that man was essentially falling through the fabric of reality and having all of creation to observe around him, he didn’t really care. All he cared about was getting to one place in particular before it was too late.

    Up ahead, the man saw the entrance to the dimension he was looking for. He grinned and positioned himself so that he would fall through it. He did so with ease, and felt himself flying through air, in a different direction this time, before he was unceremoniously slammed against a flat surface.

    The man groaned and got to his feet to observe the world around him. Lakes of lava and fields of fire were spread across the landscape. The red rock beneath his feet was scorching hot, and the distant screams of lost souls caught up to his ear from far beyond.

    “Ore wa… jigoku ni iru.” The man whispered to himself in Japanese, the language of a nation he had studied long ago. In English, the phrase was ‘I’m in hell’, and the appearance of the world around him certainly seemed to support that claim.

    Something shiny glistened in the corner of his eye. He turned to see it: a bronze temple sitting upon a rocky cliff. The man teleported inside. The next thing he knew, he was overlooking a meeting between various demonic races. A long wooden table stretched out across the room in front of him which the demons were all sat around, arguing in various demonic tongues.

    Their leader, who was naturally the tallest, was clad in green and silver armor and had huge purple wings draped around his back. After listening to the demons argue for a minute or two, he slammed his fist on the table.

    “Enough.” he commanded in a deep, eldritch voice. “I, your King, shall speak.”

    “Y-yes, Lord Mephistroth.” One of the demons stammered, slinking back into his chair.

    Mephistroth glared at the rest, making sure that they were all paying attention, before continuing. “By now most of you will have learned of the latest traveller to visit our realm last week, but for those of you who do not, I will fill you in. He claimed that his name was Raziel, and he had come on behalf of a sorcerer named Mazkertis, looking to forge an alliance with our united peoples.”

    “What for?” Another demon spoke up.

    “From what I can gather, Mazkertis is just another fool who wants an army of demons to subjugate the people of his universe. Raziel claimed that his master is working towards a plan to alter the timeline of his universe, which just so happens to be the one connected to ours.”

    “Why? What’s the point?”

    “Why he wants to do this is irrelevant to us. One of the reasons I gathered you here today is so that we can discuss the benefits of such an alliance.”

    “Alright then, let’s discuss it. What does he have to offer us?”

    Mephistroth opened his mouth to reply, but the escaped prisoner from earlier stepped out of the shadows to talk loudly over him.

    “LET GO! Stop trying to control everything and just let go!”

    The demons at the table instantly stood up and drew their weapons at the newcomer. Mephistroth’s eyes glowed green with rage as they fell upon the man who interrupted him.

    “Chad…”

    “Listen fucker,” the man, apparently named Chad, responded, “don't EVER talk to me again until you wipe that fucking neckbeard.”

    Mephistroth found that he was, in fact, stroking his admittedly less-than-clean neckbeard. He didn’t even mean to, it was just a habit of his. Mephistroth growled, rose from his chair, and generated a blast of shadow energy in his hand. After taking a few seconds to charge it to its fullest potential, he released the shadow blast, sending it straight into Chad’s chest. Chad recoiled momentarily, grabbing his chest, but then a smug smile spread across his face.

    “Nice try kiddo… but you cannot kill what breeds within…”

    Before Mephistroth could respond, a white portal tore into existence on the table, right in the middle of the two warriors. What appeared to be a golden 3D smiley face with disembodied hands and legs emerged. Upon finding itself in Hell, the smiley shook and split into two beings, one yellow and the other red. Mephistroth recognized the red one as The Heller, an extremely annoying creature that insisted on following him around and disrupting his meetings. The Heller looked around and saw that he was right where he wanted to be.

    “FUCK YES!” he cheered. He then realized something else: the anti-swearing spell that Stardust put on him had worn off. “OH FUCK YES! Eat a dick, Stardust! I’m fuckin’ back, bitches!”

    “Who the fuck are you?” Chad asked the Heller, with a genuinely perplexed expression.

    “Who the fuck am I? Why don’t you ask your HS crush?” The Heller sneered.

    A blood vessel in Chad’s eye burst. “THAT’S MY LINE, YOU LITTLE SHIT!” he screamed, diving over the table to grab the Heller. He and the Heller started punching and kicking each other, rolling all over the table.

    Meanwhile, the Heller’s yellow brother, the Heckler, shook his head. “Way too many hecks for me here,” he said as he jumped back into the portal he came from.

    Mephistroth had had enough. He reached over, grabbed Chad and the Heller, and threw them into the portal with all his strength.

    “AND STAY OUT!” The demon king shouted after them, his voice echoing through the portal and into the abyss. The fight between Chad and the Heller continued, and they grew smaller and smaller from the perspective of Mephistroth as they fell through time and space. It just got personnel.

    -----------------

    In a long-unexplored sector of space, a chrome silver figure soared through the void. The silver surfboard he was mounted on was pointed towards one planet in particular - one he had chosen to doom.

    Anyone who saw this figure at first glance could be forgiven for mistaking him for Kakamu. After all, they were both spacefaring humanoids who were completely silver from head to toe. A rare sight, especially in the depths of space.

    However, this man was not Kakamu. His name was Norrin Radd.

    He was once a man, like Kakamu. He was once free, like Kakamu. But Norrin had sacrificed his freedom aeons ago to save his world from an ancient, malevolent, all-consuming force. A force that, without competition from Unicron, was growing ever-more powerful in his absence. As one of its Heralds, Norrin’s duty was to seek out new planets for it to consume. He had already found a suitable candidate: a cold and currently-lifeless planet designated “JL-511” by the Galactic Government.

    Suddenly, the Silver Surfer came to a complete halt. In front of him was what appeared to be an asteroid field... but one which did not exist the last time he visited this sector of space. He slowly made his way through the field, expecting to find JL-511 on the other side of it. However, it was not so. He used his cosmic vision to look a light year around him in every direction, but the planet he was looking for was nowhere to be found.

    What manner of sorcery is this? He thought. Has my board finally led me astray after all these years?

    “Hey, what’s gucci my . Niger?” A voice called from afar.

    The Silver Surfer spun around and used his cosmic senses to home in on the source of the voice. He flew over to its origin point, one of the asteroids among the asteroid field, and witnessed its owner. To his surprise, it was a small furry creature that resembled a common housecat. The creature was sitting on top of an asteroid while taking a large bite out of another.

    “Who are you? What is your purpose here?” The surfer asked him. Apparently, how the creature was able to audibly speak in the vacuum of space was the least of his worries.

    “My friends call me Garfielf, and I gotta have a good meal,” the creature said matter-of-factly as it stuffed another asteroid in its face and gulped it down.

    At that moment, a terrible thought dawned on the Silver Surfer. What if the asteroid field was what was left of the planet he had come to find? Surely such a tiny creature could not destroy an entire planet… could it?

    While the surfer analyzed the situation, Garfielf got to work on consuming the rest of the asteroids in the field. The surfer was speechless. From the looks of things, Garfielf had a speed and appetite that could rival that of his master.

    “Cease your feasting, Garfielf,” The Surfer commanded. “I, he who serves Galactus the Devourer of Worlds, demand that you declare your power.”

    Garfielf stopped eating, but only because he had run out of asteroid bites. He looked around for an alternative, but found that the only other objects within a light year of himself were the Silver Surfer and his signature surfboard. But that gave him an idea. When the surfer made eye contact with Garfielf and saw the ravenous look in his poorly-drawn eyes, he knew that he had made a grave mistake even coming to that sector at all.

    “I’m am hungry I want some lasaga!” Garfielf stated as he opened his mouth. His maw was akin to a black hole, devouring everything in sight, even light and time. The Silver Surfer had no chance to react as he and his surfboard were instantly pulled inside, leaving the light of the universe behind.

    Thoroughly satisfied with his cosmic meal, Garfielf wrapped himself up in a blanket he brought with him and began to snooze as he drifted through space. He did not know how far he would travel, or even when he would wake up, but he knew that when he did, he would be in for the feast of a lifetime.


    Last edited by Kon on Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:40 am; edited 1 time in total


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    Klak
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Mon Nov 21, 2016 6:17 pm

    OOS: To make up for a TMP-less summer, I will post another chapter in a few days. Enjoy this one! Razz

    Chapter 13: Never Say Don’t Ever Again

    It took much persuasion to get the Wang Gang and the Dong Squad to split up and go their separate ways. Hungry-man was the most adamant of all, insisting that he get some food on the way to the Wanger mission, or else he would “FOKING faint from the bloody ‘unger”.

    Upon hearing about food, Pumkin decided to follow the Wangers briefly, as he was “very hongray” as well, and wanted to eat before any missions (even though he had eaten dinner 30 seconds prior to this comment). BONES and Jesse Ventura did not bother with any attempt to coax him to stay with the Dongers, as he would simply yell “No, I don’t want that!” constantly until he would get what he wanted.

    Thus, the Dongers were fewer in number, a situation that compounded the already stunning losses of life that they had faced. Many of them mourned for Yon, Shrek, See-Man, and Demopan, but knew that the best way to honor the lives of these heroes was to keep moving forward to accomplish the mission and stop Mazkertis.

    Lord Zrintch had revealed to the Dong Squad that he was originally from the Dark Mirror Universe, and that he had valuable allies there that could aid them in stopping Mazkertis, and boost their numbers. He also manipulated them into thinking that these new allies would help them bring back their fallen comrades using ancient and forbidden techniques. Thus, the Dongers needed to enter into the Dark Mirror Universe through a portal that the Sith Lord had discovered somewhere near the Edge Systems.

    As the Lasagan ship carrying the Dongers cruised by the Edge Systems, they felt something strange: a dark force emanating from thos; planets.

    “BRANT?!” cried a Tri-Daleli Ayy-Lmalium.

    “Aye,” said Randolph Moloch, with sorrow. Looks like the Kindred of Dawn weren’t the only threats to existence.

    When the Dongers arrived on the other side of the portal, they saw that not much was different, save for a few recognizable planets in different places. They jumped to lightspeed, and soon arrived at the coordinates that Zrintch had given them.

    Suddenly, the ship was shot down by beams of light. Merasmus screamed loudly with Moloch and the Shell-Shocked Cat, while Soldier laughed and Ainsley Harriot grinned. Ross Mandell and Jesse Ventura grunted. Billy Mays coped with the fear by thinking of selling Oxy-Clean at new, affordable prices. BONES, No-Image Guy, and Saitama said nothing.

    The ship crashed, but because everyone was wearing their seatbelt, they were all safe. The Squad emerged with their alium crew of about 10 LGAMs, and began to wander through the ruined city.

    “Look!” cried No Image Guy.

    The Squad turned to what he was pointing at, and they saw the being that had shot them down. It was a massive, green amphibian, with two black stars as pupils in large, white eyes. Its arms as multitudinous as those of a Hindu deity, this beast juggled bolts of energies, pistols, sharp objects, and a glass of iced tea. The monster’s neck was adorned with green frills that accentuated its face, which itself was designed by a bizarrely shaped snout.

    Some of the Dongers recognized him from their universe, but the one in their world had fewer arms and was a lot nicer. It couldn’t be him, they thought to themselves. Whoever this guy is he is nd ashole.

    “BY THE POWER OF WILIN….I am Kek,” declared the demonic being, as it glared at the Dong Squad several feet below. “You have illegally entered my domain. Prepare to suffer!”

    “FAAAAAAK you, you frog bastard!“ yelled Soldier. “This is none of your business!”

    Kek was stunned.

    “Dong Squad, EXPAND!” ordered BONES, as he prepared his trumpet.

    Merasmus and Moloch fired their own magic at the frog, but Kek was merely bothered by these attacks, nothing more.

    “You ain’t wilin…..you’re WEAK!” screeched Kek, as he blasted both mages away with his energy.

    Jesse Ventura pulled out his gun and started firing, while Soldier loaded up his bazooka. The aliums fired their own pasta guns, believing that hte spaghetti could kill the demon frog.

    Kek inched closer, blocking various attacks using magical shields. But before he could swing his arm down and smite the squad, he was suddenly hit from behind by an onion bomb.

    A green ogre with an eyepatch, a robotic arm, and various scars triumphantly walked up towards the battle scene, followed by the amazing Johnny Test, the shonen protagonist Cory Baxter (who was bearded and had a glowing left eye like that of a Witcher), rapper D-Reezy, a BLU Soldier wearing Sgt. Helsing gear, Jimmy Neutron’s dad Hugh Neutron, water filter salesman and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, NEET anti-hero Robbie Rotten and his clones, and finally bee activist Barry B. Benson (human-sized). Or at least, these were the versions of these characters from the Dark Mirror Universe.

    The Dongers could not believe their eyes. Was that...Shrek? Who were those other heroes? Why did one of them look like Soldier? It took them all a while to realize that this was not their Shrek, a morose discovery for the group.

    “Get out of this planet, Kermit!” DM Shrek warned. “Or you’ll face all of us at once!”

    “I told you to stop calling me that!” Kek shouted. “My name is Kek now!”

    “Hmm, heh...you’re still a damn BITCH!” retorted DM D-Reezy.

    Kermit flailed his arms and wailed, then teleported away.

    “Oi, you there,” boomed DM Shrek. “Who are yeh?!”

    “We’re the Dong Squad,” Jesse Ventura said, proudly. “We’re from another universe, and we’ve come to ask for your help. Lord Zrintch, that green furry mastermind, sent us. You got that? GOOD!”

    DM Shrek’s eye widened, and he turned to his fellow warriors of the Dark Mirror Universe. He turned back to Jesse and the Dongers bearing a clean, toothy grin (this Shrek did not eat as many onions and kept good dental hygiene).

    “We’re the Pennis And Also Dicke And Balls Bureau, or PAADABB for short,” bragged DM Shrek. “I’m the leader, Punished Shrek. Lord Zrintch formed this team many years ago. You might say we’re the Original Dong Squad.”

    “The first painis?!” cried RED Soldier (the Soldier of the OU), bewildered.

    “YEAH!” replied DM Cory.

    “Damn,” BONES said.

    All of the PAADABBers and Dongers introduced themselves, and acted as though they were brothers (and one sister, the Shell Shocked Cat). Merasmus and Moloch were okay now btw.

    “Looks like we’re all gonna work together,” noted DM Barry B. “That weird frog guy you saw was Kermit, or at least he used to be Kermit. He went mad once his show was cancelled and his pig girlfriend left him, and turned to dark arts to increase his power. His mind was twisted and contorted until he turned into a being known as Kek!”

    Merasmus screamed in fear.

    “We still call him Kermit, cuz he’s a HEFFAH ASS SON OF A BITCH!” DM D-Reezy screamed.

    “Ok,” Saitama replied, nodding.

    “Excuse me, my friend,” Ross Mandell said to DM D-Reezy. “Sorry to interrupt, but why are you so angry?”

    “Hmm, heh...” was all that DM D-Reezy said in reply. He didn’t elaborate.

    “Now, Ross, I think you and I both understand,” DM Alex Jones declared, raising his arm in an professorial fashion. “The globalists and the big megabanks turned Kermit into a traitor, and WE’RE SICK AND TIRED OF THIS BULL CRAP!”

    Ross Mandell smiled, and nodded. Jesse Ventura clapped.

    “Hehe, you know Nigel,” DM Hugh Neutron quietly noted to No-Image Guy. “Frogs are only 10% of this planet’s population, yet they commit 52% of the violent crime here! Now isn’t that just quacking crazy?!”

    “Oh,” No Image Guy quipped, pretending to ignore DM Hugh’s blatant racism.

    “Let’s go to the base to relax, compare notes, and prepare for the next fight,” DM Johnny Test suggested. “Maybe we’ll find a way to help you Dongs out.”

    “Yes, yes, please,” begged DM Robbie Rotten. “I’m missing my 4th afternoon nap!”

    The Dongers and PAADABBers walked all the way to the latter’s base, also known as “Panus and Asenis”, named after two fallen comrades whose lives were taken away by Kermit.

    Most of the Dongers and PAADABBers settled down, each engaging in different activites. DM Alex Jones, Jesse Ventura, BONES, and Punished Shrek all began to talk about strategies, as well as the reason behind the Dong Squad’s appearance in the Dark Mirror Universe. DM Hugh Neutron started playing with his wooden and rubber ducks, while Merasmus watched in fascination. Both Soldiers yelled at each other in distorted screams and smacked each other in the face. DM D-Reezy ranted about how much he hated Kermit to Moloch and the Shell Shocked Cat. Billy Mays and DM Cory tried to figure out how they would sell Dong-PAADABB merchandise in two universes. Ross Mandell asked Barry B. Benson for legal advice.

    Ainsley and the LGAMs entered much later, carrying a cart full of pots, glowing uncooked pasta, and various other materials used for their newest recipe.

    “What’s that?” asked DM Johnny Test, moving with a whiplash sound effect.

    “Special Mutation Spaghetti,” divulged an Ayy-Lmalium. “If you eat thes; food, you might transform into something else.”

    “Nice! Can I try?” Test begged. “I’m Johnny Test, after all! Test on me!”

    The whiplash sound effect was heard by the Dongers again as DM Johnny posed.

    “No, my friend,” Ainsley warned. “This could be very dangerous, you wouldn’t want to hurt yourself, wouldn’t you? Definitely not!”

    “Aww, come on!” whined Test. “It’s for fu-I mean...science! I’m sure everything will be fine!”

    “Just don’t use the water,” yelled Jones from across the room. “The globalists have tainted that too. I DON’T LIKE EM PUTTING CHEMICALS IN THE WATER THAT TURN THE FREAKING FROGS GAY!! ‘Drink your chemicals, drink your asbestos, BLUGGH! It’s good for you, BLUGH!’ AAAAA!”

    Jones kept making strange faces and sounds. Ainsley shook his head, then finally gave in.

    “Alright, but I’m not liable for what happens,” he countered.

    Deep inside the Panus and Asenis lab, Ainsley and the LGAMs silently began preparing their special, experimental dish. Test watched while strapped to an operating table.

    “What’s this, then?” Ainsley inquired about a test tube filled with a green formula.

    “That’s a DNA sample from Coach, one of our other members,” explained DM Johnny. “He used to be very active until a few months before Kermit went insane. Some weird humans came up to him and said that they were facing an apocalypse, and Coach took that to mean that there was a cheeseburger apocalypse going on. So he left, saying that he had to fight his own fight, and would eventually return. We haven’t heard from him since. Two more members, Asuka and Grant Gustin, left us months ago to find him. Shrek took some of Coach’s DNA just in case he wouldn’t come back….that way we could clone him.”

    Ainsley grinned at the Ayy-Lmaliums, who smiled back. The British cook turned his back to Test, and quietly added Coach’s DNA to the sauce. He also grabbed a vial full of green liquid labelled “Bob Frumm Food-Use,” and added it to the sauce.

    “Little bit of mixed spice, and a couple of teaspoons of sugar,” Ainsley commented, mixing those condiments into the sauce. “Just give that a really good mix there, mix that in.”

    The cooks started mixing. Test began hear menacing music start to play as he slowly realized that Ainsley was not what he seemed.

    Ainsley’s deep laugh echoed throughout the lab. He looked up at Test and excitedly spoke in reverse as he mixed the contents of his sauce. The LGAMs added hte spaghetti, and he continued stirring, dancing, and laughing. Test looked on in terror.

    “Lovely?” he asked DM Johnny Test, cackling. “Muscovado! HAHAHAHA! That’s it...”

    He finally ceased. The dark feelings of dread that were gripping at Test’s heart began to wither away.

    “Delightful,” Ainsley whispered to himself, smiling.

    The pasta dish was ready. Test devoured it quickly, grinning. Suddenly, he screamed in pain as his body began to transform.  Ainsley Harriot and the LGAMs lept back and hid behind lab entrance. What had they done?!

    An orb of light surrounded Test as his bones cracked and snapped into place, and his skin began to gurgle. He felt energy course through his veins, and numbers filled his mind.

    The light soon overshadowed Test. An explosion filled the room, and the operating table was covered by a mask of smoke.

    Ainsley Harriot and two of the Ayy-Lmaliums peeked over the door, and cautiously stepped into the foyer. The smoke cleared, and the man they saw in the operating table was no longer DM Johnny Test, but something else entirely.

    “HEY GUYS IT’S JOEY FROM JOEY’S WORLD TOUR I’M BEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK,” shouted the mutant, cheerily.

    --

    “So, we’ll help you kill that weird frog guy,” Jesse Ventura proposed. “As long as you give us what we need, and join us to stop our interdimensional threat afterwards.”

    “Aye, fair deal,” agreed Punished Shrek. “As a wee lad I had heard of Mazkertis trying to rewrite history. I thought he’d be dead by now, but I guess he’s up to his old tricks in another universe.”

    “He definitely is,” BONES added. “And he’s gotten stronger. If we don’t hurry up, well, we….lose...”

    “Once Kek is finished ravaging whatever is left of this planet, he will leave to other worlds,” DM Cory pointed out. “After he tries to finish us, of course.”

    “Both of them will fail,” Ross Mandell declared, having overheard the conversation. “Evil will never win, for the good guys will stop them! This is our time, friends!”

    Everyone smiled and raised their fist triumphantly.

    DM Soldier laughed for some reason. RED Soldier smiled at first, but as DM Soldier’s laugh grew more menacing, he began to laugh worriedly.

    The Dongers and PAADABBers all assembled, grabbing various weapons from the Panus and Asenis arsenal. Everyone marvelled at Joey, the new form of Johnny Test.  

    “Woo woo woo!” he proclaimed, happily.

    The Painises went outside to train in the rubble of the destitute city, when suddenly Kek materialized out of a black demonic whirlwind.

    “You have disrespected me for the last time, fools,” Kek boomed. “Your new numbers mean nothing to my power, which shall destroy you all. This universe has had many rulers….but now every being will bow to KEK! KEK WILLS IT!”

    “Krispy Kreme doughnut lookin’ ass FROG!” DM D-Reezy screamed as he teleported behind Kermit, swinging his staff at the back of the demonic amphibian.

    One of Kek’s many arms blocked the attack, as though at were catching a ball thrown by a child. Kermit’s head turned 180 degrees, and screeched at DM D-Reezy. The ex-rapper’s ears bled, and he crashed into the ground.

    Ross Mandell and DM Alex Jones hovered towards Kek, and furiously punched him. The demon frog blocked most of their fists, and cut them both down with his knife. The two humans collapsed to the ground, grunting in pain as they glared at the frog above them.

    Jesse Ventura fired a blaster and took cover, cursing as he realized he did not harm Kek. Merasmus crouched next to Jesse, muttering to himself.

    Saitama shrugged, and leaped into the air. But before his mighty fist could colide with Kermit’s face, the frog flailed his arms and telekinetically lifted a slab of concrete from the ground, slamming it into One Punch Man.

    “Is this the best you can do?!” taunted Kek.

    “YAMERO!” cried DM Cory, flinging a blast of energy at Kermit. An explosion engulfed the frog, and DM Cory smirked.

    However, when the clouds of smoke cleared,  the heroes discovered that Kek only had a few scratches on him.

    “Time to learn your ABCs,” Kek shouted, mockingly.

    Kermit flailed his arms and sucked his lips inward. He began reciting the alphabet and summoning magic blasts in the shape of each letter, one by one. Cory was overwhelmed by this attack, and by F he was blown back towards a pile of rubble.

    “We’re getting our asses kicked here!” protested Ventura. “We need a plan, Shrek!”

    “MAHNA-MAHNA!!!” Kek chanted, as meteorites made of pure energy rained down on the misfit memers. Most of the PAADABBers and Dongers scattered, taking cover where they could. However, two Ayy-Lmaliums were not so fortunate, and were vaporized by Kermit.

    “NO!” screamed Billy Mays.

    Ainsley Harriott grit his teeth, his mind running through various plans of attack. They had to fight back, and avenge their little green friends.

    DM Robbie Rotten was the first to make an attempt. He and his Rotten clones had snuck behind Kek, with Robbie holding a net.

    “Now look at this net that I just found,” DM Robbie explained to his group. “When I say go, be ready to throw. GO!”

    The clones threw it at DM Robbie.

    “Throw it at him, not me!” Rotten screamed. “UGH, let’s try something else.”

    RED Soldier unsheathed his Half-Zatoichi, and bellowed. He ran to the remnants of a wall, and kicked off of hit to leap into the air, slashing Kek in the arm. The frog howled, and shot Soldier in the leg with a ray of frog energy.

    DM Soldier fired a charged blast from his Cow Mangler 4500, and then released a blast of magic from his bare hands.

    Kek was blasted back by the combined attacks, his arms flailing through the air. He clawed at one of the surviving buildings, his hands dragging through the walls and instantly causing its collapse. Kek regained his composure, and roared.

    But DM Soldier’s attack gave Punished Shrek an idea...

    “We need to overwhelm him!” yelled Punished Shrek. “Multiple, long-range attacks at once! Punching him won’t do it!”

    Everyone nodded.

    BONES slashed Kek’s chest with his anti-materiel scythe (with extra calcium) at breakneck speeds. DM Alex Jones yelled, summoning energy and throwing volley after volley at Kek. DM Cory did the same. Punished Shrek fired his customized Ogre Minigun, which fired multiple rounds of weaponized onionium. Merasmus summoned bombs above Kek’s head, and Moloch shot out a beam of magic from his hands. Ainsley Harriott threw various pots and pans filled with irradiated spaghetti.

    No Image Guy possessed a damaged mech that just happened to be nearby, and fired all of its remaining missiles at Kek. Jesse Ventura’s rifle nearly overheated by how many times he fired it at Kermit, and such was the case with Joey as well. DM Barry B. Benson fired his stinger ray at Kek.

    The Shell-Shocked Cat threw various grenades at Kek, hissing. DM Hugh Neutron threw specialized grenades of his own: bombs shaped like rubber ducks. Billy Mays shouted in joy as he threw several cans of Special Anti-Frog Oxi-Clean (available for only 19.99 credits! Call now!)

    RED Soldier fired his bazooka and reloaded, repeating the process several times. DM Soldier flung more magic blasts. DM Robbie Rotten and his clones all threw banana peels at the frog demon.

    Kek screamed, becoming overwhelmed by the barrage of attacks from all the Dongers and PAADABBers. His shields shattered, and an explosion ensued.

    The smoke cleared, and everyone could see that most of Kek’s arms had been destroyed. He gasped and violently shook his head.

    “You’ve ruined everything!” Kek cried. “I’m supposed to be the Big Guy for you here!”

    “Nah,” One Punch Man replied, calmly. He leaped once again into the air, and slammed his fist into Kek, instantly knocking him down. The frog crashed through various buildings, finally landing in a pile of grey rubble.

    Ash filled his lungs as he coughed, realizing that most of his power was gone. DM D-Reezy suddenly appeared in front of him, menacingly swinging his staff. He hummed a bizarre tune.

    “Hmm hmm hmm! I’ll stick your ass like glue!” growled DM D-Reezy. “I don’t do no CPR, Kermit! KERMIT’S A BITCH!! HMM HMM HMM!!”

    “Kermit has...been dead….for a long time...” insisted Kek. “There is only Kek.”

    DM D-Reezy sneered, and stabbed his staff into Kek’s chest.

    --

    “What a shame,” Jesse Ventura expressed, catching his breath after the battle. “In our universe, Kermit is a wonderful frog that brings joy to children. In here? He’s a monster...”

    “I imagine he’s a wonderful creature in most universes, and he was that way here for a while, but….the Kermit we knew is long gone,” Punished Shrek admitted. “There is only Kek. Twisted, and evil. Well….there was only Kek.”

    DM D-Reezy teleported back in front of the Squad, snickering.

    “The deed is done!” cried DM Barry. “Kek has been slain! The universe is safe once more!”

    “Time to celebrate, WOO WOO WOO!” Joey echoed. ”Those little aliens...those little green men, those little green aliens, going ayy lmao ayy lmao, they would have wanted this!”

    Ainsley and the remaining LGAMs nodded reluctantly.

    --

    The Dongers and PAADABBers began to have a party back at the base. The joyous celebration was filled with wholesome Ayy-Lmalium Lasaga and boneless chicken, as well as various beverages from both universes.

    DM Robbie Rotten and his clones turned to the group, and put their thumbs into their overalls. It was time for them to take a nap again.

    “n,” DM Robbie said.

    At one point, nearly all of the remaining PAADABBers (save for Joey) excused themselves from the festivities. DM Hugh Neutron led Merasmus and Moloch to his Duck Room, while the remaining PAADABBers went down a corridor without any explanation as to where they had went. Even Jesse Ventura suspected nothing.

    The PAADABBers (sans Joey and DM Hugh) entered a secret room. DM Barry B. Benson punched various keys on a holographic device, summoning an image of Lord Zrintch himself. The Bureau members bowed in respect.

    “Lord Zrintch...Kek is dead,” Punished Shrek declared. “With all due respect of course, my lord, I still can’t believe it worked...turning Kermit to the Dark Side.”

    “Yes, yes,” replied Zrintch, communicating with Punished Shrek and the PAADABBers (sans DM Hugh and Joey) that were present through a hologram. “But to be fair, he was always WILIN enough to do it. I hope you understood why I made this ruse. I needed Kek to test your team, and have some fun with our universe while I was away. And when the time came, I used him in an attempt to end the Dong Squad….or at the very least draw them close to you.”

    “Wait, what?!” DM Alex Jones shouted. “This was all a conspiracy to kill our friends?”

    “Indeed, Alex,” Zrintch answered, patiently. “Either Kek would kill them, or they would kill Kek...no matter what, an element of our plan that I have no use for anymore would be destroyed. Now it is up to you to clean up the mess.”

    DM Cory grinned sadistically as he crossed his arms.

    “Yes sir, we shall kill them all!” he affirmed, triumphantly.

    DM Barry B. Benson raised his arms in the air, and clapped. Punished Shrek smirked, a dimple forming in the cheek below his eyepatch. These villains laughed.

    DM D-Reezy and DM Alex Jones said nothing. The conspiracy theorist grit his teeth, while the rapper grimaced and looked down to the floor.

    Lord Zrintch quickly finished the call after this to save his Grinch Minutes. Interdimensional holo-calls were expensive.

    --

    (Meanwhile, on Kalta Thaea in the OU….)

    Mink smirked once Lord Zrintch was finished with his transmission. Raziel leaned on a wall nearby, quietly listening to everything. This was one of the few quiet rooms left in their base, which had recently become full of activity because of the squadrons of Rahkshi, Lurian, and Death Vanguard soldiers, as well as related personnel. Even the Kra’lythe were surprisingly talkative.

    “As much as I’d love to see a clash of the meme titans,” Mink posited. “Why would you turn your squads against each other? Why not have them team up to have a stronger force?”

    The Sith Lord’s face twisted into a grinch smile

    “They are not the strongest force,” he replied. “The strongest force will be the one that arises out of this battle. Such is the way of the Sith in my universe….only the strongest will survive.”

    “And if they wipe each other out? Or if both squads have massive casualties?” she asked cheerily.

    “Whatever remains will be combined into a newer force,” Raziel guessed. “One that I hope, for your sake Zrintch, is frighteningly loyal to our cause.”

    “They will be, Raziel,” Zrintch reassured his fellow Kindred. “Or they too will be purged, and I will seek fighters again. The price is bloody, but it is necessary.”

    “Yes,” Raziel admitted. “An old....'friend'... once said that nothing is free. Not even revenge.”

    Mink, Raziel, and Zrintch all suddenly felt something. The grinch thought it came from the Force, while the neko-girl and wraith thought it came from magic. Either way, they had all noticed that someone had just arrived.

    The trio went outside, and witnessed the arrival of Bitil and Barricade with Iris in chains. They handed her off to Genetoes, who pushed her towards a group of soldiers that rushed her away to her new prison.

    Zrintch’s eyes widened, and he brushed his fuzzy fingers through his head.

    “He wasn’t bluffing...Blackout wasn’t bluffing!” the grinch whispered to himself.

    “Who is that girl?” asked Mink.

    “That’s one of the last pieces of the puzzle,” Zrintch explained. “Mazkertis’s final plan is coming to fruition...”

    “And the wounds of time will finally be healed,” added Raziel, triumphantly.
     
    --

    (Back at the Dark Mirror Universe….)

    After he was finished going through his wooden and rubber duck collection in excruciating detail, DM Hugh Neutron showed Merasmus and Moloch his outlandish political posters (some of them were blatantly offensive). A handful had a strange insignia at the bottom.

    One of them had phrases that praised Toa Tuyet, a tyrant from this universe whose empire collapsed many years ago. Although DM Hugh was not a BIONICLE™️  in any way, he was a huge fan of her fascistic rule.

    “Hehe, you know Randy,” Hugh noted to Moloch. “Those Matoran folk were doing much better under Tuyet, and more lives were lost in the ensuing chaos under her collapse….which my universe’s Klak was behind...than ever in her empire’s entire history! Now ain’t that just quacking crazy?!”

    DM Hugh then pointed to a photo of a Mean Old Man grinning maliciously.

    “Bring the Pain Barry did nothing wrong,” he cried, defensively. “He only wants us to stop being beta cucks!”

    DM Hugh then pointed to a handmade wooden statue. Merasmus screamed as he realized who it was, and Moloch leaped in fear.

    “I made this, Merazzy! It’s a model of good old Mazkertis!” DM Hugh uttered. “Hehe, you know, Merasmus, Merazzy, Meras, Merazzo. My universe’s Klak, a race traitor, and that illegal immigrant from another universe named Zev, formed a gang and just jumped Mazkertis when he was just minding his own business! Now ain’t that just quacking crazy?!”

    “Did you know that Zemnasu, the last name of my version of Klak, isn’t a Matoran name at all?” continued Hugh. “It’s a Kestora name!”

    Moloch gulped. They had never met D-Klak (aka Zemnasu Klak), but DM Hugh’s loyalties seemed to be lying with their enemy: Mazkertis.

    DM Hugh Neutron sighed and chuckled as he witnessed his magical friends shake in fear.

    “Now it is time for friendship bonding,” DM Hugh declared, as his eyes began to glow red. He pulled out a shotgun that wasn’t there before. “BOND WITH ME, GUYS!

    --

    Most of the PAADABBers returned to the party, acting as though nothing had happened. Only DM Alex Jones seemed spooked. He tapped Jesse Ventura and BONES on the shoulder, and pointed his chin to a nearby doorway. Jones had to tell them something in secret.

    Jesse Ventura’s conspiracy theory senses were tingling. BONES simply wanted to find out what the heck Alex Jones wanted.

    “You’re gonna get betrayed,” DM Alex Jones whispered to the pair. “The Pennis And Also Dicke And Balls Bureau are nothin’ but a bunch of backstabbing sell-out traitors.”

    “What?!” cried Jesse Ventura. “You gotta be kidding me. Why would they betray us?”

    “Because you’re too stupid,” retorted DM Jones. He smiled, then laughed. “Nah, I’m just kidding. It came from Lord Zrintch, he went out and admitted it. Just like it’s now public that the globalists are putting omicron waves in our holo-transmitters, they’ve admitted it. It’s all becoming unravelled!”

    “Wow, really made me think,” BONES replied. “I’ll have to see it to believe it.”

    “I don’t think so!” Ventura barked. “Time to break up the fat party!”

    Jesse Ventura stormed up to Punished Shrek, and stood in front of him in a confrontational manner.

    “Well, well, well, I’ve been wondering about you guys,” Ventura hissed. “Now mentlegen, come on, you’re gonna stand there and tell me there’s not a conspiracy going on here?”

    “Well, if you’re gonna have...one team,” DM Barry Benson stuttered in an attempt to fool Jesse.

    “Bullcrap!” the Bod interrupted, proving he wasn’t going to fall for their ruse anymore. “I’ll kick your asses!”

    Jesse Ventura swung his fist, but it was quickly stopped by DM Cory, who merely blocked it with his index finger. The anime character laughed.

    “Yare yare daze,” DM Cory merely said. “You fell for the ruse, and even when you found out, your attempt to fight back was useless. Muda-da…..”

    BONES sensed a huge increase in power. He rushed towards Jesse and DM Cory, but his skeleton legs were not fast enough for it.

    “MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAAAA!!!”

    DM Cory’s fists slammed into Jesse while he chanted those words, the barrage of punches knocking Ventura back into a wall.

    Punished Shrek spun back and flung an onion grenade at BONES, the blast tearing through the spooky skellington’s armor.

    DM D-Reezy swung his fist at Billy Mays. The salesman blocked it, but he did not see D-Reezy’s other fist, which slammed into his stomach. Billy Mays gasped as the air flew out of him. He twisted and fell over, grabbing his sides to cope with the painful pangs. The rapper was stronger than they had thought.

    RED Soldier darted towards his doppelganger, angrily swinging a random piece of wood he found.

    “Are you trying for a Section 8?!” he fumed.

    “No, sir!” DM Soldier sneered, dodging his counterpart’s attacks.

    DM Soldier created a Half-Zaitotchi out of magical energy, and swung it around. RED Soldier pulled out his own sword, parrying the blows. They sliced into each other, both grunting in pain.

    RED Soldier tried to thrust forward to stab DM Soldier, but this attack was immediately blocked. They were evenly matched, for each doppelganger could predict the other’s movements.

    DM Soldier grinned and stabbed RED Soldier’s arm, causing him to wince in pain.

    Saitama sighed and stood up. He tried to punch DM Barry Benson, but the oversized bee flew away.

    “I’m part bumblebee, haha!” DM Barry joked, but no one laughed. “I can sting you as many times as I want!”

    And he did. Saitama couldn’t punch him in time. The bee venom made him go to SCHLEEP!

    Nigel and Ross Mandell attempted to fight against DM Barry, but Punished Shrek intervened, taking them both down with his own fists.

    “We’re gonna finish yeh nice and slow,” the ogre declared, menacingly. “I won’t waste onionium on you kids…..at least until we get bored of this.”

    Ainsley and the aliums threw pans at Punished Shrek, but they were all caught mid-air by DM Cory. The anime character teleported behind them.

    “MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDA!” DM Cory shouted, knocking the Lasagans and the famous British cook down to the ground by hitting them all in the back with his palm.

    Suddenly, in the midst of this chaos, Asuka entered.

    “Bureau, we found Coach! Grant is staying with him to help him fight the Cheesebu-”

    She stopped once she noticed the fight in front of her. Before she could react, the Shell-Shocked Cat leaped into the air and slapped her down with a fish.

    All of the Dongers stood up, and assumed battle positions, ready to keep fighting back. DM Alex Jones noted this, and the rage inside him boiled over.

    “I REFUSE to go along with your plan, Shrek, you wicked, wicked DEVIL! HEEEAAAAAAAAAUHGHHHHHHUAAAAAAAAAA!!!”

    Radiant light surrounded DM Jones, and he transformed into a Super Saiyan. DM Cory teleported in front of him, and they punched each other at breakneck speeds.

    Ainsley limped over to Joey, who was confused by all the fighting.

    “C’mon then, bruv,” he begged the mutant. “I helped make you...I can give you a nice, tasty meal.”

    “Grr...I just wanna attack it,” Joey muttered, as he glanced from side to side, wondering whose side he would be on.

    “That’s right, get them!” Harriot implored.

    “Woo, woo. WOO WOO WOO WOO!!”

    Joey charged towards Punished Shrek, taking the ogre by surprise, and tackling him.

    Meanwhile, in DM Hugh’s room, both Merasmus and Moloch were awkwardly watching the Dark Mirror version of Spider-Man 2 with their maniacal host. Moloch was appalled at the film, as it contained many random offensive statements to enhance the villainy of some of the characters. He understood that it was a different universe, but it gave no excuse for the director to go so far.

    As for the other wizard, Merasmus was intimidated by the shotgun, but he realized that there was only one way for them to escape: they had to fight back. However, he needed a boost in strength. Thus, Merasmus reached for a bottle of COHCAIN brand peelz (hearing weird noises as he did so). He quickly injected and snorted these DRUHGS.

    “AIEEEAIIIIEEEAAAAAA!!!” he screeched, standing up and blasting DM Hugh through several walls with his magic.

    Moloch cheered triumphantly, and both magical characters ran out of Neutron’s room.

    They arrived at the Donger-PAADABB fight, expecting to help their fellow comrades, but DM Hugh Neutron fired a warning shot, injuring Moloch in the leg.

    “Ya shouldn’t have done that, Jimbo!” he lectured cheerily.

    Merasmus ran to RED Soldier and tapped him in the shoulder.

    “Shall we trade dance partners?” the wizard asked.

    RED Soldier nodded, and marched over to DM Hugh.

    “C’mere sweetheart!” Soldier taunted. He pulled out his bazooka, and fired it at DM Hugh, blasting him across the room.

    Merasmus sighed as he saw DM Soldier’s hands set themselves aflame with energy.

    The wizard channeled his rage, remembering all the horrible things Soldier had done to him all these years. Defecating in his car, filling his home with raccoons, burying his refrigerator, trying to take his DRUHGS away from him, these were the many things Soldier had done to him, and now it was payback time.

    Merasmus’s spells overcame those of DM Soldier, giving him the chance to beat the Soldier with his wizard staff, over and over again.

    DM Robbie Rotten and his clones raised their fists, creeping towards Jesse Ventura, who had his back turned as he was loading his gun.

    Ross Mandell suddenly stepped in front of them.

    “Uhh, excuse me, gentlemen, sorry to interrupt,” Ross Mandell said. “But I am going to BEAT you...right now!”

    The Bad Boy of Wall Street began punching and kicking the NEET and his clones, a brawl of legends taking place near the entrance to the PADABB backyard.

    DM D-Reezy swung his staff (enchanted by the power of WILIN), successfully parrying BONES’s scythe.

    “Grim Reaper lookin-ass,” he jeered.

    “Shut up!” BONES yelled, his skeletal frame feeling offended.

    Billy Mays jumped behind the rapper, and shouted to get his attention. DM D-Reezy turned around.

    “Are you tired of Kermit being dead?” he asked. “Do you wish he was alive again so you could roast and destroy him again?!”

    “Hmm….heh….yeah!” DM D-Reezy shouted excitedly.

    “New, from the makers of Oxi-Clean, Reanimation Putty! The easy way to make frog zombies!”

    Billy Mays pulled out a small wad of putty (in reality, it had no reanimation powers).

    “Buy now, for only two payments of 19.99!”

    The distraction had worked. DM D-Reezy had attempted to reach for his wallet, but BONES cut him down with his scythe (lethal or not? You decide).

    Meanwhile, DM Barry B. Benson buzzed around menacingly near Ainsley Harriot, threatening to sting him. He was suddenly hit with spaghetti and meatballs, which had been fired from a cannon by the Ayy-Lmaoliums. Some of this fod got onto his wings, slowing him down.

    The bee cursed loudly, clearly changing his tone from a PG rating to an R rating (Seinfeld may have gone too far in a few places).

    Ainsley swung a skillet, slamming DM Barry in the face. Nigel then picked up a table and threw it at the bee, pinning him onto the floor. Cartoonish noises filled the air, and all that could be seen of Benson was his leg, as the rest of his body was under the table.

    --

    Outside, DM Cory Baxter and DM Alex Jones fought each other viciously. Cory gained the upper hand, backhanding Alex, then teleporting behind him to punch him multiple times.

    “MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDA!”

    DM Alex Jones crashed through several walls of ruined buildings, landing with an explosion surrounding him. DM Cory teleported above him, pulled out drumsticks, and began beating drums made of pure energy. With every slam, darts of energy would be created.

    DM Cory finally stopped after creating a hundred energy darts. He grinned, then pointed his palm at DM Alex. The volleys fell like rain, all blasting into the conspiracy theorist.

    DM Alex Jones feebly gazed to the sky, noticing that DM Cory was no longer there. He could hear the anime character taunting him, slowly moving in for the kill.

    “You betrayed us,” Cory said, sneering. “And now you’ll die like the rest of your pathetic friends. Heh...so weak, so fragile. I always knew you were useless!”

    Jones grunted. He had to fight back. He was the chosen Info Warrior, and he could not let Cory win! No, he had to fight back, because he was a pioneer, he was an explorer, he was a human, he was animated, and he was alive, his heart’s big, it’s got hot blood, going through it FAST!

    DM Cory laughed, his fist pulsating with energy. He lunged towards Alex, but what was meant to be a death blow was blocked by the conspiracy theorist.

    “Wh-wh-wh-wh--???” DM Cory gasped.

    DM Alex Jones bellowed, summoning more energy and increasing in size and power. He was now at Super Saiyan II mode. He kicked DM Cory up into the air, then teleported behind him to kick him in back.

    DM Cory smashed through several ruined buildings, but before he could meet the ground, he was punched thrice by Alex Jones, once in the chin, and twice in the face. Jones then kicked him into the ground.

    DM Cory struggled to get up, and was unable to hide the terrified look on his face. When he finally faced his enemy, he saw that he was in a fateful pose.

    “Ka….” DM Alex Jones began. “Me….Ha...MEEEE….HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”

    A blast of incredibly powerful energy rocketed towards DM Cory. He tried to block it, but was unsuccessful, and was destroyed.

    --

    Punished Shrek finally punched Joey off of him, knocking the mutant into a nearby wall. He roared, but was suddenly confronted by Randolph Moloch. The ogre grinned.

    “Your weak, kiddo,” he growled.

    “Weak in strength, strong in MAGIC!!” Moloch shouted.

    Randolph reeled towards Punished Shrek’s legs, slapping the ogre’s shins with his enchanted hands. Shrek grunted as he lost control of these appendages, and fell to his knees.

    Moloch grasped Punished Shrek’s metallic arm, using all of his Might and Magic™️ to pull it off. The ogre retaliated with constant punches using his other arm, and even bit into Moloch’s shoulder. The wizard screamed in pain, but finally ripped the arm off and collapsed.

    Punished Shrek growled, and began to crawl across the floor, hoping to enter into the secret quarters. Jesse Ventura, having loaded up a shotgun, came after him.

    “Would death be great?” he inquired, after following Shrek into the corridor. “Good question. Find out for me.”

    “I’ve felt pain all throughout my life. Do you truly think I will cower from it now?!” Punished Shrek interjected. “You bloody fool! This is only the beginning. Nothing you can do, nothing....will stop the inevitable. Mazkertis is going to change the past….for a better tomorrow.”

    “My Shrek knows the consequences of such actions,” Jesse Ventura asserted. “You? Well. Looks like you have much to learn, son.”

    Jesse raised his weapon, and Punished Shrek grit his teeth, with panicked eyes.

    “Come on,” DM Shrek begged. “Be reasonable! We can join forces, destroy Zrintch and Mazkertis together! Put down the gun, and we can be like brothers!”

    “Live like a traitor,” Jesse Ventura replied immediately, rejecting Shrek’s offer. “Die like one.”

    He fired twice, killing Punished Shrek.

    Jesse Ventura sauntered into the living room. All of the Dongers were catching their breaths, their puffs the only sound that could be heard. The PADAABB had been defeated.

    DM Alex Jones silently stepped into the room, and nodded at Joey and all of the Dongers.

    “We….” he huffed. “Won. Now it’s your turn to get out of here. We have a ship in the back, not much fuel but it has enough power for interdimensional travel.”

    BONES nodded, and motioned to the Dong Squad to follow him. Jesse Ventura came up to Alex Jones, and shook his hand.

    “You know, you can always come with us,” he offered. “Joey’s part of the Dongers now, and we have more open spots.”

    “No thanks, at least not for now. This Prison Universe needs someone woke to fight for them,” DM Alex Jones explained. “I’ll see you around, someday.”

    “Either you, or my version of you,” Ventura joked.

    The conspiracy theorists had a manly handshake, then parted ways.

    All of the Dongers, Joey from Joeysworldtour included, got into the ship, and flew off of the planet. They didn’t get any congratulatory holographic transmissions from Big Man Tyrone, as they were in another universe, and Tyrone was on vacation.

    Uncertainty filled their minds. Was Alex Jones right? Had Zrintch betrayed them? There was only one way to find out, and that was by confronting him back home.

    A portal opened, and they flew through it, setting course for their universe.


    (NEXT TIME FOR THE DONG SQUAD...)

    Ross Mandell, BONES, and an alium shuffled through the busy, rusty city, finally arriving at the bar that would contain the information they needed. 18-LA was getting beaten up outside of it by a few gangsters, as he had taunted them earlier by calling them tiny cutesy men.

    “Alright, here’s the plan,” BONES ordered. “We go in, ask for where we can get fuel, and get out. Keep it simple.”

    Suddenly, Doug Walker bumped into Ross Mandell.

    “You!!” Walker screeched.

    “Wh-wh-wh--??” Mandell replied.

    The Critics walked up, shocked.

    “Who are you people?” asked BONES.


    TO BE CONTINUED...By the next person that writes a Dong Squad chapter :DDDDDDD


    Last edited by Woodsman on Wed Nov 23, 2016 5:01 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : fixed broken link + formatting)


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    Klak
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:54 am

    Chapter XX: Holidays

    Twas the night before
    Christmas, and all through the Omniverse, not a creature was stirring, not even Lina Inverse.

    The poem would have continued, had Klak felt more creative, but the Europeans needed to sleep, their desires must be satiated.

    The Users felt festive, full of Christmas joy, so they convened their characters, every girl and boy.

    From the OU to Unending and every spinoff in between, all BZPB characters from every universe ever made sure they were seen.

    Dead or alive, that did not matter. It was break time, so they could all chatter. They exchanged gifts and celebrated with carols, as Terugans dragged around booze filled barrels.

    Foods of all types were devoured, as the Christmas party continued hour after hour. Because of the multiculturalism of the Users they celebrated three days, from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.

    In the midst of the feast came Father Christmas...Santa Claus himself. With GregF pretending to be his elf.

    "Merry Christmas to all!" said Santa Claus, standing tall.

    "Well done, Users," GregF said. "My legacy you've continued, great universes you've created."

    "Thank you Based Greg," all the Users replied, and hugged dear Santa, on this Yuletide.

    All the characters, evil and good, continued to celebrate as normal people would.

    Meanwhile, Sefer, The Shadow Operative, and the other Jewish characters walked away, to celebrate the holidays their own way. They lighted a menorah and sang happily, wishing each other a Happy Hanukkah merrily.

    And now this poem, comes to a close. Never Klak's best, but it's fun I suppose. All versions of characters all went home, then resumed their business as written in all tomes.

    Perhaps this is canon, perhaps it is not. But I hope the joy given by the story hits the spot.

    Merry Christmas to all. Razz
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    Klak
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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

    Post by Klak on Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:21 am

    Last chapter of 2016! Happy New Year!

    Chapter 14:  Spark

    Sefer Yetzirah silently sipped her coffee while standing before a window on the bridge of the Divine Providence. Her amaranth eyes scanned the surface of the blue-and-green planet a thousand miles below. They called it Gasuhigann, a world that had recently attempted to contact the Takemikazuchi Empire to enter into a dendrobium trade deal.

    Normally, they would follow standard protocol: the Takmiks would ship the dendrobium, receive the payment, and leave without saying much. All that was a method developed to avoid foreign entanglements while still receiving the benefits of trade (in this case, several tons of a special liquid found only on the planet with medicinal properties). But this was a special occasion. According to the Empress’ spies, the Gasuhiganni had also attempted to negotiate trade with the Lurians. Sefer knew that the Kindred of Dawn would kill for such rare medicine, especially in such a chaotic time.

    It was for this reason that her crew and she observed the planet, cooperating with Emperor Malygos, Toa Bob, and Dominion forces. As luck would have it, they had arrived at an opportune time: the Gasuhiganni’s pitiful military forces mentioned reports of a mysterious masked man, carrying a staff and quietly observing various cities.

    Malygos and Bob had volunteered to be dispatched to the planet’s surface to search for Mazkertis. Sefer had also sent some Tokubetsu Butai and Shinsengumi soldiers to aid them. The search party’s status report was due any minute now.

    “My Lady Emperor,” cried an ensign, breaking her trance. “We’ve received news. The search party has formed a perimeter around the target’s location. We almost have him.”

    Sefer smirked, and nodded at the ensign.

    “Thank you. I will join Lucrezia in welcoming the squad once they return,” she said, triumphantly.

    The empress made her way to the teleportation room, meeting up with Lucrezia Sephirah, leader of the β-Shinsengumi. Lucrezia asked for permission to speak freely, and it was granted.

    “You know, the optics of this aren’t necessarily in your favor, my lady,” she warned, “Emperor Malygos, taking matters into his own hands and trying to capture Mazkertis while Emperor Yetzirah sits on her spaceship, wholly removed from the action?”

    “It doesn’t matter,” Sefer replied, still smirking. “Let him take credit for capturing that wizard. I will be the one who interrogates him, per the agreement the Emperor and I made. Plus, accidents happen! Maybe Mazkertis won’t make it out of the interrogation room.”

    She winked at Lucrezia, who quickly understood what her empress was implying.

    “I see,” she said, hoping that the Emperor would not violate the Takmik’s law against the death penalty. “It’s a shame Lucy couldn’t be present for our victory. What was she doing, again?“

    “She’s in the Edge Systems, tracking down David Dalton,” recalled Sefer, smiling softly. “She would make her parents proud.”

    “As would you, my lady. Saving the universe from maniacs who want to rewrite history?” Lucrezia marveled. “That will make you a legend across the universe, and the Takemikazuchi will be recognized all over the cosmos for its grandeur. The Galactic Government is dead, and your New Order will be the model for all systems. Even the Fall of Cluster Empire will be forced to acknowledge that we are the utopia that they have never been able to create.”

    Sefer’s smirk grew, and she brushed her hair.

    “That’s one way of cementing my legacy. The other would be to have children to keep spreading the bloodline, but I’m too freaking young to think about that,” she said, quietly surprised at how open she was being. “Arc Kadmon and Evangelise are good names, come to think of it.”

    Sefer stood in the room and finished her coffee, waiting for the party to arrive.

    --

    The leaves crunched under the feet of Malygos and Bob as they diligently searched for Mazkertis in the shadowed forest. The turquoise trees twisted and lurched from side to side, forming a natural canopy that allowed little light to peek into the ground below.

    “Have I mentioned how fascinating this forest is?” inquired Bob.

    “Only about 10 times,” Malygos retorted. “I am beginning to question why you were never a Toa of Air or Jungle. You clearly have a passion for nature...an admirable quality.”

    “It’s the little things. Even when we’re chasing a homicidal maniac, and even when I’m paired with the guy that tried to imprison me on a deserted planet so he could take over the universe,” Bob replied, glaring at Malygos for emphasis. ”I still have time to stop and smell the roses.”

    “My apologies,” Malygos said, with a hint of sarcasm in their voice.

    “Don’t worry, no hard feelings. I got to fight a golem! I just wanted to put it into perspe-”

    A rustling of leaves interrupted their conversation. Bob spun around, noticing something shimmering in the woods. Malygos tapped his forehead, reaching through the mana present in the natural setting to contact whatever figure was disguising itself in the forest. Sure enough, it was Mazkertis.

    The human wizard’s magical camouflage dissipated, his regular form revealed. Mazkertis blitzed through the forest, cutting past leaves at breakneck speeds and avoiding all the trunks he could. Malygos and Bob ran after him, the magos occasionally firing blasts of magic in an attempt to hit Mazkertis.

    Bob was about to smash his fists into the ground to cause a shockwave that would rip through the ground, uproot several trees, and fling Mazkertis into the air. But, as he raised his arms, Malygos spun towards him and yelled at him to stop.

    “Careful! There’s a village nearby!”

    The Toa nodded, and they continued their pursuit. However, the maze of winding branches and trees forced them to part ways as they ripped through the forest.

    Bob stopped near a person hunched over, a brown blanket cloaking most of their body. The person appeared to be weeping.

    “It’s alright,” Bob said, in an attempt to console them. “I’m a Toa, I’m here to help. Let’s get you out of here.”

    Bob placed his hand on the person’s soldier, and they quickly turned around with a hellish scream and punch that sent the Toa backwards into a tree. It was the Green Goblin himself.
     
    “You’re pathetically predictable,” Osborn said. “Like a moth to a flame.”

    Bob tried to stand up, but the Goblin ran up to him and kicked him down.

    “You are an amazing creature, Toa Bob,” he marvelled in a somewhat mocking tone. “Here’s the truth: there are billions of Gasuhigannis on this planet...and those teeming masses exist for the sole purpose of lifting the few exceptional people onto their shoulders. You, me, Mazkertis? We’re exceptional. I could squash you like a bug right now, but I’m offering you a choice: join me! Imagine what we could accomplish together, what we could great. The Kindred and us? We’re gonna have a hell of a time!”

    The Goblin cackled madly, feeling triumphant.

    “So are you in...” he inquired, pausing for effect. “Or are you out?”

    “It’s you who’s in, Goblin,” Toa Bob replied. “IN-SANE!”

    Bob smashed his fists into the ground, sending a shockwave throughout the soil below. The Green Goblin screamed as he was launched into the air. Before he could land, Bob jabbed at him multiple times, mid-air. The Goblin collapsed onto the ground, cursing multiple times.

    “What about my generous proposal?!” the Goblin yelled.

    “It’s been revoked,” quipped Bob.

    Before Bob could continue his onslaught, the Goblin threw several pumpkin bombs at the ground. The Toa reeled out of the way as shrapnel and sharp pieces of wood tore through the forest.

    --

    Meanwhile, Malygos braked, noting that they was in the village that they had mentioned earlier. Most of the citizens had taken cover and were hiding in various buildings, an indication that Mazkertis was there. They quietly crept down the village’s path, peering into various alleys and corners to see if their target was there.

    Yes, pronouns are weird.

    They was about to prepare a spell that would reveal the wizard’s location, when they suddenly came before an alley full of armed soldiers. Malygos leaped in shock, but said nothing, knowing that they were Shinsengumi. Masuta Kira raised a finger to his lips, telling the Emperor to be silent.

    Kira then looked over to the rest of his squad, consisting of Original Zero, and several Tokubetsu Butai. He raised his palm up and began doing hand signals, giving them orders in the midst of the silence. The Takmiks nodded, and separated into two groups.

    Malygos followed Original Zero’s group, and they silently sped through a block of cottages, eventually reaching the corner of one of the paths of the village. Original Zero raised his arm and counted to three. On three, he and Malygos lept to the other side of the corner, expecting to find Mazkertis on the other side. Nothing.

    Mazkertis quietly watched as Original Zero’s group went past his building. He quietly climbed back down, shimmering back into visibility. As he darted past several buildings, he seemingly failed to notice that he would directly run into Kira’s squad.

    “Freeze!” Kira shouted.

    The wizard came to an abrupt stop. Guns and katanas were pointed at him. Kira’s shouting alerted the other squadron, which was already running towards Mazkertis several feet away from him. A third squadron emerged from a few cottages to both the east and west of the wizard. Even if he was able to dispatch of all of the soldiers, Mazkertis could sense Kira and Original Zero preparing to summon their Stands, and he surmised that a fight with Malygos would not be easy either. He was surrounded.

    Mazkertis crouched to the ground while raising his arms in the air, dropping his staff and surrendering himself to the Takemikazuchi. The soldiers quickly placed cuffs on him, and Malygos immediately grabbed his arm.

    “In case you try anything, fool,” they said to him, menacingly.

    The group also confiscated Mazkertis’ staff, placing it in a plastic bag to research on it later.

    You win,” Mazkertis replied. “You win..”

    --

    Bob rubbed his head as he arrived in the teleportation room with the rest of the group. All the headaches caused by the Goblin’s attack and subsequent escape were worth it: they had finally captured Mazkertis.

    The wizard hung his head, creating a facade of guilt. He was pushed by guards down a corridor, where various ensigns and soldiers quietly watched him pass by with awe, anger, and fear. Mazkertis’s only reactions to these glares was to flick his restrained wrists at various locations. The guards ignored this, believing that he was approaching senility and was trying to conjure up spells in the middle of the ship.

    “Move along, old man,” a Takemik guard said, pulling him down another corridor.

    Malygos followed along, and smirked.

    “You will be punished for your crimes, Mazkertis,” Malygos said. “Once Sefer is finished with you, you will be at my mercy.”

    What vile crimes?” Mazkertis inquired. “I have no quarrel with you.

    “You have killed innocents and manipulated time all for a petty vendetta against a man that has done nothing!” growled Malygos.

    My Emperor, was it not you who trapped your universe’s Klak on a desert planet because he was too dangerous?” Mazkertis retorted. “Was it not you who tried to conquer the universe by taking all of its magic? If you have quarrel with me for my sins, then you ought to have quarrel with yourself for yours.

    Malygos stopped with widened eyes.

    “Wh-wh-wh--??”

    The guards continued walking away with Mazkertis. After going up an elevator, they arrived in a dimly lit floor. The group entered an interrogation room, chained Mazkertis to a table, and shut the door. The guards all assembled near it, just in case.

    Sefer Yetzirah entered, with Malygos and Bob following her. She peered through window at Mazkertis, sitting quietly in his chair.

    “Most of the magic should be blocked, save for psychic attacks, just as the Dominion specified,” an ensign said.

    “Look how pathetic he is without his powers,” Sefer said, quietly. “This interrogation room had better work...”

    “Or else what?” scoffed Malygos.

    “Or you will have 128,000,000,000 people hunting for your head, Emperor,” she threatened.

    Malygos growled, then smirked. They would allow her to play games.

    “Be careful, Empress,” Bob warned. “Mazkertis is dangerous. Even without his magic he-”

    “I’ll be fine,” she said, interrupting him. “Mazkertis is weak without magic. The only thing that could kill me now is the pity I have for him.”

    She laughed at her own ‘joke’, and entered the interrogation room. Sefer instantly felt the connection to her Stand wither as she moved about the room, stopping directly in front of Mazkertis.

    The wizard was a lot more intimidating in person, his imposing height being noticeable even while he was sitting. Despite his old age, he was noticeably full of energy, and his unnaturally crimson eyes were filled with rage.

    Sefer gulped, slowly reaching towards Mazkertis’s face. She placed her hands on his mask, and slid it upwards, removing it and revealing the wizard’s true face.

    Sefer smirked triumphantly, presuming that her intimidation technique had now worked. It was a subtle way of discomforting him, of showing him that he was powerless.

    “You’re just an old man, aren’t you?” she observed out loud. “A sad old man yelling at the stars.”

    Sefer felt her mind grapple with an unseen force, as though two of the coldest hands in the universe wrapped themselves around her brain. She pushed back, settling things down.

    Time has not been kind to its servant,” Mazkertis admitted. “I have waited a long time to see my ideals come to fruition.

    “As many have, I’m sure,” Sefer added. She sat down in a chair directly opposite the wizard’s seat.

    “Now then,” she said, clearing her throat. “Let’s start from the beginning. Fifty years ago, you attempted to steal the Keruvim to rewrite history. Your universe’s Klak, or ‘D-Klak’ as we call him, was part of the team that stopped you, as was someone named…’Zev Raregroove’.”

    Among others,” Mazkertis said, the voice of his mind snarling.

    “You were imprisoned in a nether cell in The Void,” continued Sefer.  “Kept under the name ‘Subject 08.’ One of the people in charge of you was Figlio di Armechio, who commenced a science project a year later. He and Dr. Earl Lascovitz tortured you, didn’t they?”

    Yes. For 50 years….a time you are far too young to even comprehend…..And now they’re both dead. One by his own hand, and the other….by mine,” the wizard replied, smiling in satisfaction.

    “But you seek more,” Sefer noted. “You won’t rest until you’ve had your revenge.”

    You insult me, Empress Yetzirah.

    “That’s Emperor Yetzirah. You don’t get to disrespect me, Mazkertis. Not you.”

    My apologies, Emperor.

    “Not accepted. So why attack all those innocents?”

    I never attacked them,” Mazkertis’s mind stated tersely. “They were unfortunate but necessary sacrifices. Perhaps that is something you are familiar with.

    “If you’re trying the whole ‘we’re not so different you and I’ spiel, then save it,” Sefer spat out. “It’s overdone.”

    But applicable,” countered Mazkertis. “Or have I been told lies about the Takemikazuchi? About how you have a siren song that dispels all dissent in your empire, crushing the concepts of freedom you state supposedly upholds.

    Sefer grit her teeth.

    I may be a magician,” Mazkertis continued. “But I am marveled by the progress of science, even if it’s less than ethical. Speaking of which, what sort of actions did your father commit while as Emperor to ensure that everyone was kept in line? What unspeakable horrors were unleashed by the leaders of your nation to keep a stability that wouldn’t be praised for another century? Or for science?

    Mazkertis smirked.

    Progress...at the barrel of a gun.

    “Funny coming from a man allied with fascists!” scoffed Sefer.

    Ascheron can be extreme, at times,” conceded Mazkertis. “I shall not allow him to be ruler of the universe, but I will honor our agreement and grant concessions. A planet here, a resource there. But it is of no consequence. Your differences are meaningless, ergo you possess no moral superiority. You cannot lecture me.

    Mazkertis felt like 20 needles had stabbed into his brain. He strained, knowing that Sefer was using her psychic powers to torment him.

    “Do not compare me to Ascheron, Mazkertis,” she warned. “It won’t make things easier for you. Now, why don’t you simply kill your Klak, kill our Zev, and be done with it?”

    Because many years ago I learned that the source of problems in the Omniverse iis Klak,” Mazkertis answered. “Not simply your Klak, or mine, but all of them. There is a quantum resonance cascade effect created from the birth of a Klak, an anomaly that fills each universe with evil.

    “Sounds like bullshit,” jeered Sefer.


    Mazkertis then explained the Utopian Universe to Sefer…

    --

    “What’s going on in there?” inquired Bob.

    “Mazkertis must be telepathically communicating with Sefer,” Malygos clarified. “She’s trying to slowly find an entrance into the weakest point in his mind so she may attack. Her Excellency is playing cat and mouse.”

    “But which one’s the cat, and which one’s the mouse?” Bob replied.

    --

    “So to solve all this, you want to erase both of our Klaks from history….kill them as children...and somehow this will save the universe?” Sefer said, raising an eyebrow.

    Do not mock me, Emperor,” chided Mazkertis. “As my actions carry significance. You rule a state that is nothing more than a small piece of the cosmos, a state that may or may not function after your death. In time, the Takemikazuchi will be nothing more than a memory. Individuals like Eclipse, Ynot, Blackout, and Malygos, all titans of this universe, will outlive you and your descendants, until they too perish. There are beings that dwarf even them in power, quietly controlling things behind the scenes as though life were a game. And even they, I assume, answer to a higher authority. There are demons that make even Mephistroth tremble in fear, and angels that make the Chousin seem like ants. The Omniverse is vast, and we are mere particles in it. The only truly meaningful actions are those that manipulate its various facets: like time and space. All else...feels meaningless.”[/i]

    “You don’t actually believe that, do you Mazkertis?” Sefer said, expostulating. Mazkertis and Ascheron were more alike than they thought.

    For now, I do,” he replied. “Thus, I beg of you Emperor. Understand my struggle, and allow me to go my way. You will be left unharmed, and your empire will survive.

    The wizard’s mind suddenly felt as though it was being pulled down by an unseen, vast weight. He felt dreams form before his very eyes, displaying varied moments in his life. All of the dreams quickly unraveled into horrific figures, and dissipated. Metaphysical knives shredded through Mazkertis’s conscious, tormenting him as he screamed distortedly.

    Sefer spoke calmly through this chaos.

    “No deal, Mazkertis.” Sefer declared. “You will face punishment for your crimes, no matter what pitiful excuse you had to commit them. The Takemikazuchi Republic has goals that are diametrically opposed to yours, one we happen to share with the Dominion.”

    Sefer played with the wizard’s mind, sifting through various memories and pieces of information that she could find. One piece of information regarding a “secret Kindred member” was kept under tight defenses, so she decided to force Mazkertis to reveal this individual’s identity later (she knew that this was likely the mole that had disrupted Klak’s plans three weeks earlier). For now, she would keep looking. This effort was not in vain, as she discovered the location of the Kindred’s hidden headquarters.

    She paused to reflect, realizing that her pride was catching up to her. Why would Ascheron allow Mazkertis to go to Gasuhigann with minimal backup, knowing that he ran the risk of getting captured? The wizard was certainly powerful enough to face off against legions on his own, but why take the risk for a planet full of important resources? Unless….

    Unless getting caught was part of their plan.

    The realization hit Sefer like a brick. She heard a guard run into the viewing room (adjacent to the interrogation room) and yell about an army suddenly appearing on board.

    When Mazkertis was being paraded around the Divine Providence in handcuffs, he had flicked his wrists several times, creating minute cracks in space time that were small enough to not be noticeable, but large enough for someone to open them from the other side and run through. Now, throughout the ship, squadrons of Lurians appeared and fired at unsuspecting members of the Dai-Takemikazuchi Teikoku Kaigun (the Takemikazuchi Navy). They were joined by ASF members Vance Vangelis and Hell. A battle broke out as soldiers from both sides fought against each other in the hallways.

    Sefer panicked. She had been played. Before she could react, Mazkertis took advantage of the confusion and turned her psychic attack against her.

    This is the price of not joining us, Empress Yetzirah! You stand in the way of history, and you and all your allies will be punished by the servants of time itself!

    Sefer screamed in pain. A Lurian soldier burst into the interrogation room and fired at Mazkertis’s restraints. He stood up and kicked Sefer, knocking her down. The Kindred members emerged and saw that two other soldiers were engaging Malygos (Bob and the Tak-miks that were previously in the room had left to fight against the other invaders in the halls).

    Malygos quickly dispatched the Lurians with rays of light, but Mazkertis disappeared before he could beat him.

    “No matter,” they said to themself. “The fool is leaving a trail, and has likely been weakened by what Sefer did to him.”

    Sefer emerged from the interrogation room, growling.

    “Well, don’t just stand there!” she yelled. “Let’s kill the bastards!”

    --

    In space, several Lurian frigates appeared and immediately firing at the Takemikazuchi ships. Out of both fleets emerged mobile suits and fighter ships, locked in a brutal conflict that would be spoken of for ages to come. But this is a story for another time, another chapter.

    --

    Meanwhile, in one of the engine rooms, the head engineer shouted orders at the engine maintenance, compelling them to hold their positions as the rest of the ship descended into chaos. He knew that a Lurian squad would likely attempt to shut down the engines to completely immobilize the ship, preventing an escape.

    Suddenly, Mazkertis materialized in front of him and fired an energy blast from his hand, killing the head engineer instantly. The other engineers and crewmembers reached for blaster pistols holstered at their sides, but before they could shoot the human wizard, he stunned them with a sonic spell that disrupted their senses. One by one, Mazkertis absorbed their life force, the energies coursing through into his only organic arm, until he was finished. He then shifted his body towards the control panel, his eyes browsing it with a determined gaze.  This concentration distracted the wizard from noticing Malygos, who had teleported themself to the room.

    “The engine room? How utterly predictable,” scoffed the magician. “I discovered your whereabouts in minutes by merely sensing your aura, but I had firmly hoped that you would be in somewhere less…clichéd.”

    I require energy for my grand spell, Emperor. You of all beings in this universe would understand the price of magic,” responded Mazkertis. “Perhaps it’s best that I remind you that I have no quarrel with you, Emperor Malygos. No Saskanan blood was shed, and I haven’t touched your Dominion.

    Malygos’ laughter boomed throughout the engine room, dwarfing the noise of the ship’s engines.

    “Oh no, Mazkertis,” they growled. “You declared ‘quarrel’ with me the moment you threatened my domain. And then you had the audacity to desire to absorb ambient magic in the universe! Something that is MINE!”

    How unfortunate for you,” Mazkertis replied. He raised his arm in the air, and a few seconds later his staff crashed through a nearby wall and plopped into his hand.

    Perhaps, in time, you’ll see my reasoning,” he continued. “That is, if your irritating existence persists.

    Mazkertis and Malygos charged at each other, magical energies crackling all around them.


    --

    Meanwhile, Sefer and Lucrezia made their way to the ship’s bridge, accompanied by various Tak-mik soldiers. Malygos and Bob went their own way to fight off as many enemies as possible. Sefer herself hoped she could take charge in the midst of the chaos and turn the battle around.

    Sefer noticed the beads of sweat dotting Lucrezia’s face. This was an attack unlike any other they had faced. Even the leader of the β-Shinsengumi was nervous.

    “Breathe,” she said, in an attempt to console Lucrezia. “This too shall pass, and all that.”

    It was the best motivational speech Sefer could come up with at the time. She had to focus on annihilating the enemy.

    Lucrezia nodded, and gulped as the lift arrived at their destination. The remaining soldiers braced themselves.

    The doors of the lift opened. Squadrons of Lurian troopers turned around, eyes widened. The motherload of high value targets just appeared before them. They raised their rifles, and so did the Takemikazuchi. Sefer smirked and crouched.

    The blaze of gunfire rattled through the corridor, as many soldiers from both sides were killed instantly. In the midst of this chaos, Lucrezia shouted.

    “Beware my Stand「Nearer My God To Thee」, fascist menace!”

    Behind her materialized a muscular crimson humanoid with flowing black hair. The humanoid leaped in front of her, and used aerokinetic constructs to lift the Lurians in the air. Lucrezia then kicked off of the ground as 「Nearer My God To Thee」lifted her as well. Both her stand and she then sliced into the guards, killing them one by one at breakneck speeds. In seconds, the hallway was clear.

    “Let’s keep moving!” Lucrezia ordered. The surviving Takemikazuchi created a box formation around Sefer, and rushed forward with her.

    --

    Mazkertis slammed through purlins and floors inside of the ship, making audible yelps of pain. He recomposed himself and grit his teeth, glaring at Malygos from afar.

    So, you wanted to become God?!” his mind boomed. “Allow me to arrange your meeting with the real thing!

    Mazkertis flung himself towards Malygos, his fist of swirling magical energy ploughing into the gender neutral being’s face. He pivoted and punched Malygos with his metallic fist, then clasps his hands together and bludgeoned them in the chest.

    Mazkertis called to his staff once more. Once he caught it, he swung the staff to the ground, in hopes of smacking Malygos with it. However, the magos disappeared and teleported behind him. Malygos kicked Mazkertis in the back then blasted him into a wall with rays of light. They summoned a few balls of flame and threw them at Mazkertis, but the human wizard blocked them with balls of water.

    Malygos used a repulsion spell to pull the other wizard from the wall and into his hand. They then attempted to strangle Mazkertis with their own fist.

    Mazkertis gasped for air, but smirked while choking, placing his organic hand on Malygos’s wrist. All he had to do was wait for the signal.

    --

    A young Takemikazuchi soldier was cut down by Lurian fire right in front of Sefer’s eyes. This provoked rage in her, and she leaned around the corner that the soldier was previously using for cover. Sefer used her psychic power to put the Lurian into a coma.

    “My Lady Emperor, we are pinned! We need backup to get to the other side of this hallway!” yelled another soldier as the rest of the battalion was taking cover.

    On the other side, the Lurians set up a turre and began firing at Sefer. The empress reeled back and crouched in front of a door to one of the ship’s laboratories.

    “Hurry up and call them, for fuck’s sake!” screamed Sefer.

    Suddenly, the door behind her opened, and two hands encased in white gloves grasped her. Before the Takemikazuchi could react, she was pulled into the darkness. The door closed as the soldiers desperately tried to follow her. Despite their efforts, it was being blockaded.

    “Hello darling,” Sefer’s kidnapper said.

    She could recognize that voice anywhere, for it was the voice of Gabriel Ascheron. Sefer tried to struggle, but he strengthened his grasp.

    “Now, Mazkertis!” Ascheron bellowed.

    Suddenly, Sefer, Ascheron, Mazkertis, and Malygos were all on the Gasuhiganni surface. Malygos and Sefer backed away to observe their surroundings. They were in a flat plain of tall, turquoise grass.

    Vance Vangelis then appeared, kicking Toa Bob to the floor.

    “Now we have enough privacy to ourselves,” Ascheron cackled.

    “Vance Vangelis!” groaned Sefer. “I should have known you were the type to side with these two!”

    “I’m finishing a mission, Sefer,” replied Vance, nonchalantly. “Besides, they’re paying me well.”

    Bob rolled his eyes.

    “What a weirdo,” he jeered.

    “All three of our empires clash among the stars,” Ascheron declared. “As we ourselves fight to the death here, now!”

    Both trios assembled themselves, assuming battle positions. They all charged at each other ferociously, in a battle that would shape the fate of the universe.

    TO BE CONTINUED IN: THE BATTLE OF THE SECOND HEAVEN!

    And now for something completely different:

    ---

    The Yonbots posed after defeating the forces of Yur Wai-Fu, an anime city somewhere near the remnants of Makuhero City. Boltman went up to them, and high fived them while dancing. First the victory at Pokotan, and now, the citizens of Yur Wai-Fu. So many victories!

    One of the Yonbots turned around and pointed in fear, noting that a powerful group was approaching them. They were all dressed in elaborate clothes, and were led by a man wearing a red, white, and blue polo, jeans, sneakers, and a long flowing black cape with a massive collar. He rode on a chariot being led by horses that looked like dollar signs. Boltman and the Yonbots immediately recognized him as one of the most powerful anime characters this side of the galaxy: Cory Baxter.

    The man smiled and extended his arm. Beams of light extended from his fingers, and he vaporized the anime-killing robots before they could react. The rest of the group surrounded Boltman, flinging minor attacks until he was knocked to the ground.

    “hanatoro xD” said Meena Paroom.

    Boltman’s typical smile flipped into a frown, and he gazed up at the heavens. The crescent moon lit the night sky, and seemed to act as a spotlight on the Yellow Fellow.

    “You….” he cried, as the cast of “Cory in the House” began to restrain him. “You did this! YOU DID THIS!!”

    On that very same moon, a man with a crescent shaped head played piano. Moonman smiled and raised his arms up in victory. He was going to push Boltman over the edge, and make him slipp.

    ---

    Meanwhile, on Sojourn V, Ross Mandell raised his arms up defensively, knowing Doug Walker was upset.

    Doug sighed and turned to BONES, to reply to the question he asked at the end of the previous chapter.

    “Hello I’m the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don’t have to,” he said, introducing himself to the former avatar of death.

    “Spoony,” Spoony continued, and pointed to the rest. “That’s Linkara, that’s Malcolm, there’s Dr. Amasiv Bedge, and over there’s Paul Latza. We’re the League of Super Critics.”

    Originally, there were more members of this league: a Jedi named Seran Dol-Abi, a deranged UNATCO augmented individual named JC Denton, a 90s Kid, a magician named Mortimer Moloch, and a quasimorph named Spanha. Seran left to face his fears in an adventure that perhaps will be dealt with in a spinoff story or a separate chapter, 90s Kid went to Tievie to see if they liked 90s kinos, Spanha got kidnapped, and Moloch stayed behind with JC on Kråvenhold.

    “Ross Mandell here scammed me out of my money!!!” screamed Doug. “Figures we would find you on such a sketchy planet!”

    “Is this true?” asked the alium that was accompanying the two Dongers.

    “Perhaps it is, perhaps it is not,” replied Ross Mandell. “Let us not focus on the past, but on the smiles of the present.”

    Ross smiled, and posted, fists raised. Doug screamed angrily, and raised his fists as well. The other Critics assumed battle positions, ready to fight.

    “Time to shuffle,” Malcolm quipped.

    BONES skullpalmed. They were going backup against yet another antagonistic joke character team.

    But before they could come to blows, someone yelled at them.

    “No!” the creature yelled, his voice echoing ethereally.

    Everyone was immediately taken aback by this newcomer, even the gangsters that were beating up 18-LA. Disgust and rage filled their minds as they saw him. Even BONES, who had reaped many an abomination in his previous life, wanted to violently vomit his nonexistent intestines.

    You see, the beast was incredibly bizarre. His body was furry, and he wore only sneakers and a loincloth. His mouth was that of a feline, but with human teeth. On his head there was a mop of blond, human hair, with braids adorned by Native American beads in the front. One of his eyes was blue, while the other was brown, and instead of a nose he had a bird’s beak. His knees bent backwards as he walked forward, introducing himself as “Xavier.” His voice no longer had an echo.

    “Stop your fighting!” Xavier cried. “Do not allow yourselves to come to blows on each other’s faces! Resolve this method cordially, not morbid-ially. Let the hot release, of this huge peace, satisfy your conflict.”

    “Uhh, what?” inquired Paul Latza. No payment of $521 could ever remove the awkward innuendos that Xavier had forced into the conversation.

    “It’s not as simple as that,” Dr. Bedge noted.

    “We don’t cotton to freaks around these parts,” said one of the gangsters, ignoring BONES, the alium, and 18-LA. “So scram, weirdo!”

    The two gangsters ran up to Xavier, punched him down, then body slammed him.

    “Take that,” shouted one of the gangsters. “Taste the pain!”

    Xavier got up as though nothing had happened. He mumbled to himself about how it was his destiny to save the Dongers and Critics and make them like each other.

    “Guys, he’s probably not going to leave until we make nice, so let’s just play his game, and then we can kill each other when he’s gone,” suggested Linkara.

    “Ok,” BONES replied in agreement. BONES just wanted fuel, but he was willing to play along, at least until Xavier and the Critics were done bothering them. “I’ll call the other Dongers.”

    “Dongers? Oh boy, here we go,” Doug complained.

    Doug just wanted a vacation ever since Bring the Pain Barry disappeared, and right when he thought he was at peace, he found himself running into a scammer and countless freakish joke characters. But this was only the beginning. The beginning of this bizarre adventure.


    _________________



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    Re: The Mazkertis Paradox

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      Current date/time is Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:04 am