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This page contains the upcoming re-release of Foreverlasting. For the archived, incomplete original, see here.
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Foreverlasting is the thirty-second episode of Back in Action: Alien Universe.

Story

Part I

[Night, Westside Bellwood: Mr. Hook's Candy Emporium, a little corner store. The closed sign on the door twirls. The hours on a Friday night like this are until 7PM. A clock flies off the wall and smacks the front door, reading 7:58. The lights within flicker on and off, stopping as a jar of gumballs spill onto the floor.

Inside, a cross-legged, purple-armored knight levitates. Their hands, the only part uncovered except by black fingerless gloves, are cupped. A bright flash summons a man in a safari suit and thick glasses which have a pearled strap. He even wears a rough and bushy Roosevelt mustache above his lips.

He approaches the concentrated knight only to be whacked from behind by a hard box of candy bars. The safari-suited man collapses to one knee, clenching the back of his head.]

Young Man’s Voice (from behind the safari-suited man)
It’s funny: drop a gumball, and no matter when, Professor Paradox will arrive. You can set your watch by-

So swiftly does a sword find itself lodged in the stomach of this blathering individual with the box in his hand. He’s a knight like the other, the typical metallic silver being his color, though purple and gold make their way into a draping royal robe behind him.

The silver has been pierced, though, with the blade running from one side to the other. The knight, ostensibly the leader, gasps, looking up to Paradox having vanished. He rips out the weapon to no harm, except through the armor.

Knight Leader/Young Man’s Voice (spinning to find where Paradox had gone)
I should’ve known; Paradox would never harm a soul.

He observes the blade itself. While the hilt is standard-issue, a regular gold, everything else is made of something unobservable. It is blue but unstable; shaky and bursting while thin and light.

The purple knight’s head swivels hastily, the leader tracking the movement to find Paradox behind him. He rushes after him, Paradox bursting into more gumballs for the knight to slip on. As the sword falls out of his hand, Paradox aims to catch it, only to have his hand stopped short.

It’s been paralyzed. And with it stuck in place, the rest of Paradox can’t leave.

Knight Leader (groggily rising back up)
You could teleport, you’ll just lose that hand.

A box, transparent but for the shimmering white outlines, surrounds Paradox’s hand and extends down his forearm. It’s clear now that the lead knight isn’t doing this but instead his uniquely colored mystical counterpart.

Knight Leader
Bet you didn’t know my partner could do that.
Paradox (laughing)
I know everything, so-

Unable to move himself, he wills the fallen sword from the ground to be hurled at the purple knight.

Paradox (blade hurtling toward the mystic)
If I’m not mistaken, you can only hold one thing at a time, correct? So if you don’t catch my trusty friend there-

Panicking, the knight tries to move out of the way, losing their hold on Paradox allowing the armor-piercing weapon to fly through their head, busting the lower half of the helmet to reveal soft, purple lips on a sharp male face. He falls from mid-air to the floor, and just in the middle, as the leader seeks to leap at Paradox again, everything stops in place.

Paradox tips his hat and analyzes the landscape, making sure everything has frozen. Too many times, he’s been tricked into thinking it was. Another version manifests behind him, one in his less spectacular white lab coat, green goggles, and black pants.

Lab Coat Paradox
There is only one option.

His safari-hatted self walks towards the frozen mystic.

Safari Paradox
All this to stop him from being able to bend time?
Lab Coat Paradox
Do you want me to do it?
Safari Paradox
Go. Forget it. I’ll do it.

The lab coated Paradox nods and dissipates, leaving the other to stand behind the mystic. He grips the gloved hands, balls them into fists and tries to hold them tightly, as if to break them.

In spite of his perception, Paradox wasn’t safe. The mystic moves despite the freeze and locks his head in another paralyzing box. He encapsulates then the rest of Paradox’s body, forcing time to move again. The leader comes forward.

Leader Knight (a smug look about him)
My mistake - that’s what you didn’t know he could do.

The purple knight with one hand removes his phone from his pocket, presses a button, and replaces it. To the leader’s raised brow, the mystic nods.

The lights all shut off, the front door shuts of its own accord, and the store returns to peace.

[Then, Bellwood High: Auditorium lights dim and curtains rise on a high school play. A musical number ignites as a proud and portly man takes the stage. A trio relaxes center of the front row - a brown-haired guy in the center and a brown-toned twin to each side.]

Guy (whispering to his left)
So when’s-
Girl (to Guy’s left, whispering)
Ben, shh.

Ben hushes up, permitting the protagonist to go on about his traditions, mirrored by his singing townsfolk. They frolic then subside to their corners, letting pairs exchange brief banter center stage. The curtains zip shut again within minutes.

Guy/Ben (half-standing up)
Well, what a great-

Ben’s friends yank him back into his seat.

Girl (stressed, eyeing the parting curtains)
What are you doing? She’s about to come on.
Ben
‘Was just being funny.

The girl to his left, Kai, leads with her eyes Ben’s attention to the stage. On it appears a woman, a slightly lighter girl with a more profound nose who stands taller but with otherwise similar features. Kai lets out a light clap as the woman sings.

Girl/Kai (still whispering, cupping her mouth to project nevertheless)
Let’s go, Kira!
Girl #2 (at Ben’s right)
It’s not whispering if you’re that loud, sis.

Kai rolls her eyes as she turns to Ben. Though expecting similar applause from him, she isn’t mildly surprised by having to snag his phone to buy attention. He turns to her with an empty look. “We missed you,” reads the text on his phone. Kai swipes down to a photo of purple and gold blocked into a shield insignia, magically visible over Paradox’s cage.

Kai
Ben, what is that?

To no reply, she looks back. His seat’s empty. The far back exit slams shut, lending Kira wince on stage before she carries on.

[Outside, rolling down the streets of Bellwood: Combustiball, a flaming alien made of two thick tires.]

Combustiball
So the Forever Knights are back in town.
Omnitrix
It would seem. And you are one block from the text’s origin.
Combustiball
Tell me about the place.
Omnitrix
A “mom-and-pop” candy shop, minus the mom. The owner’s wife was killed by a splattered Undertown native who surfaced.
Combustiball
What does “splattered”-?
Omnitrix
Arriving.

Like someone pulled the handbrake, Combustiball screeches to a halt at the Candy Emporium, styled like an old pirate’s vessel, with buoys and fake wood panels. His tires part, unveiling their axle and two molten rock legs.

Frisbit takes his place. All too familiar with the place’s hours, he knows the doors are sealed. He detaches his multi-tool frisbee to create a lockpick. The first he inserts gets stuck. The gumballs inside glow, hexed symbols appearing on them. His tugs to remove his frisbee are futile. A purple mist emerges from the handle and wraps the frisbee, infecting its Omnitrix’s once-green hourglass with its color.

Magenta sparks fly from it as the mist entraps Frisbit’s whole body. His joined tube eye grows with Frisbit’s gasps, before a flash sends him away.

[A medieval palace interior. Frisbit’s tool returns to his back, as he bewildering twirls around.]

Old Man’s Voice (coarse)
Welcome...

Frisbit turns to the source of the voice, a portly gentleman with silver bushels of hair above his ears and nowhere else. Paradox floats to his side, all but the hat (and with it, his brain) in a glowing white cage.

Old Man’s Voice
...to the House of Uncommons.

Frisbit recognizes the speaker. The voice has gone a ways since the last time he saw the shopkeeper, but he knows it was him.

Frisbit
Mr. Hook-?

A sudden blow to the back of his head. Heel-toe, and he finds the earlier purple knight, mouthpiece still uncovering the indistinguishable mouth. He swings, just for the man to dissipate and hit him again from behind. Spinning around, neither Mr. Hook, owner of the Emporium, nor the fanciful knight are to be found.

A smack to the back of his head again.

Frisbit (guard up, shakily darting around and shouting to nothing in his deep, robotic voice)
You know, your hits don’t hurt! They’re just annoying!

At the end of the hall, the mystic manifests, saluting. Frisbit launches his disc at him, only for the knight to catch it with one hand and snap it with two. Sparks fly again. But with the disc destroyed, Frisbit exerts an ear-ruining shriek. He collapses to the floor, a human again.

Downed, he glances around. Clutching his chest, like his heart was broken again, he crawls a long three inches down the velvet rugs with their well-kempt, like-new golden fringes. The mystic’s long since disappeared from the end of the halls, but Ben can’t even make it that far before dropping his head to the floor.

Rolling over onto his back, he takes in the 20-foot paintings along the walls: knights in sizeable ancient battles, if they’re any more than fiction. Kings feature in some, presumably former tenants of this very House of Uncommons.

After the royal red floor, atop the uneven stone walls, is a ceiling of flaming chandeliers. The mystic waves, dangling from one before his weight snaps the thing down onto the floor. All Ben can will himself to do is cross his arms into a shield. Crash.

Combustiball slides the thing off of him. He pants but rolls up into his tire form and skates down the rug flooring. He turns a corner to find the mystic waving at the end of the next hall, and so he follows. And again around the next, and again.

Combustiball (rolling)
Are we really playing Peek-A-Boo?

He unfolds when around one corner, the mystic isn’t in any direction. He hears a *pop* behind him, and finds not only the mystic from where he’d just come but also the peculiar lack of skid marks along the rugs. It looked unharmed, perfectly well-kempt, in spite of the flaming body smearing against it. This time he walks slightly down the hall.

Whack! Again to the back of his head. But nobody behind him, just a large painting depicting-

Combustiball (hand hovering over the frame)
Sii?

A long-lost battle against Sii, towering over Bellwood, featuring Gwen, Kevin, Ben, and the late Julie Yamamoto. Reverting to human, he paces to the next frame, holding it closely to read the title. “Ten Plus Twenty,” reads the engraved text below Ben, an Omnitrix-wielding Gwen 20, and her time-traveling daughter from the future Jen.

“Ledger Recon”: Gwen and Chelsey perishing before Dawn. But most significantly, “Unleashed”: Anodite forms of Gwen, Chelsey, and Verdona joined by Charmcaster all struggling to revive Julie. This depiction even appears alive, the shimmer of their mana beaming. The memory is just too vivid.

Whack!

Ben (sullen, unmoving)
No.

Whack! He angrily flips around to see the mystic sweetly wave before leaping headfirst into the painting next to him. Ben almost walks towards the painting, but shakes his head, wanting to embrace the “Unleashed.” Turning around, he finds the image has shifted to that of a triumphant blond man in gleaming silver knight’s armor, towering with sword held high, over the corpse of a green and black dragon.

Ben (reading the new title)
“The First”... Sir George?
Paradox’s Voice
Ben-

Searching for the voice’s source, Ben turns to see Paradox, most of his body locked in that time cage. He’s inside the painting the mystic jumped into. Prepared for the worst, he approaches it and reaches a hand in. He sees it move with him, but it doesn’t reach far enough to get a hold of Paradox.

So he jumps in.

[END OF PART]

Part II

[Grass, and a sky well-lit by the stars. A stream, and a man lying on his back in the shallowest part. Ben manifests piecemeal as he falls into the painting. At first he runs to Paradox, but he vanishes on approach.

Words flitter in and out in the space around him. They float and have no depth to them. Ben swinging his hands at them only acts like stirring in the water, distorting the text until it dissipates.]

Ben
What’s going on here?

The young man in the water, cape afloat in the water, just lays there. More phrases fly about Ben’s periphery.

Ben
Hey!

The young man raises a finger.

Young Man
Stick to the script.

Ben becomes something new, a hurricane contained in tensile glass. His fury cannot be contained. Like a gyre, he wields light gusts to levitate the man out of the water. The young man struggles to sit up straight as he disappears from place.

Tap.

Glass Hurricane Alien (turning around, in a heavy Scottish accent)
I swear to-

He’d expected the purple knight from before for some reason, but this time found the young man. His knight’s armor becomes apparent to him, but before this hurricane in a bottle can shift focus, the knight is gone again. When he shifts his focus to his personal gyre, he finds Paradox bobbing at the top. He stops and runs to his side.

Shove.

Ben’s hurricane transformation falls face-first into the water. As he gets up, on all fours, his black goggles contort like one side is of an eyebrow raised. He sees his reflection in this stream, and it doesn’t line up - a night-haired man of no less than 30, in ancient Roman coverings. He lifts a hand out of the water to see he himself is still the glass hurricane.

To the corner of his eye, he sees another two reflections, a baby waddling on all fours and a priest.

Glass Hurricane Alien (without turning around)
Please, tell me what’s going on.
Baby’s Reflection (in the young man’s voice)
We’re playing a game. Stick to the script and you win a prize.
Glass Hurricane Alien
What’s the game?
Baby’s Reflection
Have you ever been to Rome before?
Glass Hurricane Alien
No.
Baby’s Reflection
Welcome then, Wavelength, to Rome, circa 232 AD. I’ll be playing Sir George, and you’ll be doing whatever you want.
Wavelength/Glass Hurricane Alien
I’ve never used Wavelength before. How do you know him?
Baby’s Reflection
We’re 18 centuries in the past and that’s the question you have?

He scoffs.

Baby’s Reflection
Come on.

Wavelength gets up and turns around, watching the young man walk away as Paradox simply fades away. He rushes after them, shoved past by the mystic who dances over and out of the frame.

He brings his face into his whole palm, buying a *shink* sound as glass touches glass. He rolls the hand down his face, glancing once more the reflection that doesn’t belong to him.

Then, he’s off.

[Someone’s quarters in the House of Uncommons. Wall-mounted torches light the place, and the same rug runs the floor. There is a single window, and on two sides of a gold-accented wood canopy bed, paintings. Wavelength falls out of the one on the left, meeting before him just the caped knight.]

Caped Knight
Ah, you’ve finally made it. These are my quarte-
Wavelength
Shut up and let’s play, please. I have something to do, kid.
Caped Knight
Kid? Just for that, we’re adding another section to this.

Wavelength turns to grab at the mystic but he’s already gone. The caped knight watches Wavelength, his glass body slowly being consumed by that of the towering, black insectoid centaur form of Dreadsense. He cracks his head back 180 degrees to the knight and on his eight legs makes the infamous clicking of an arachnid in a rush. The caped knight cowers towards the wall behind him, hiding completely in his cape as Dreadsense sinks his claws in.

Dreadsense
Stop thi-

He lifts the cape up and finds no one within.

Capeless Knight
You should have called him Metamorphosis instead, but no, we won’t be stopping just yet, but I’ll be glad to answer what would’ve been your next question.

Dreadsense turns his head back to the painting he’d walked from.

Dreadsense
You don’t know what I was going to ask.

The words he speaks float across his periphery like before. The next have the question - “Who are you to the Forever Knights?”

Caped Knight
We’re just looking for the Forever King. My name is Eli, and my partner tapping you on the shoulder prefers not to be named.
Dreadsense (said partner tapping incessantly)
Not looking. Just go on.

The knight Eli nods and trust-falls right into the painting behind him, the one Dreadsense had fallen out of, now labeled “Hurdles.” Depicted are two men on horseback - or rather, one on horseback, and a second, clinging for dear life to the horse running off without him.

Dreadsense, reverting to human, follows.

[Inside the painting, there is depth to the world. Everything still appears drawn, and Ben’s attempts to help the man falling off of his horse only put his intangible hands through the world.]

Eli/Caped Knight
Eager to ride, great. You’re going to be playing him anyway.
Ben
Playing...?
Eli
Yes. Your reflection wasn’t you in those waters because when we’re in these paintings, we are in the past and to the world, we look like people from whatever time we’re in. And the only way we could do that without changing the timeline is thanks to Mr. Anonymous here.
Ben
Why would I take part in this, and not just let time go as it’s supposed to?
Eli
Because you’ll learn something.
Ben
I don’t want a Forever Knight history lesson.
Eli
Then how about a first-hand glimpse into your family tree?

Ben raises a conflicted brow.

Eli
Put it this way.

Paradox, caged from chin to toe, appears.

Eli
If you want your Timekeeper back-

As he speaks, his words float in front of him. To Ben ahead of him, the words are mirrored.

Eli
Read the words you see. They’re exactly what the person you’ll be playing said.
Ben
You saw me watching my friend’s play and thought I’d be into this, didn’t you?
Eli
Who wouldn’t be into this?

Ben struggles not to react.

Paradox
Just play along.
Ben (whispering)
I don’t want to.
Eli
Did I hear “I want to”? Marvelous! Paradox, if you have no objections, you’ll be playing the horse this sad man is falling off of. Her name is Aeneid.
Paradox
Actually, I-

The static time cage rises to his nose, stopping his mouth from running.

Eli
Marvelous!

The world around rises from painting to reality, as Paradox converts to the stallion. He stomps and whinneys in protest.

Eli
And Ben, you’ll be Decimus, the sad man falling off of Paradox- er, Aeneid.
Ben
But why?
Eli
If you’re not motivated enough, think about the four other Bens who didn’t want to either who are not without a Timekeeper.

He smiles awkwardly from ear-to-ear, as Ben panickingly darts his eyes in search of an exit frame.

Eli
No objections?

Ben is silent, but before he can be changed, he becomes Combustiball and races away. Mere meters away, he’s stopped in stasis and reeled back toward Eli.

Eli (shouting to his invisible partner)
He can hear me while he’s in that, right? I don’t know where his ears are.

No response.

Eli (to himself)
This is what happens when you work with the silent type...

He steps up to Ben and presses himself almost right up against his cage.

Eli
If I change you into Decimus right now, and you run away, you will be changing your entire lineage. You run away right now, and Decimus - your ancestor - will die. So let’s try not to make that happen for the sake of our sanity, alright?

Combustiball cannot rally his body to move, either to nod or to speak.

Eli
Great that we’re in agreement. And so I’ll be playing Sir George - or Georgius as he was called then.

Combustiball is converted into Decimus, a robed ancient Roman, and Eli becomes the younger George, the more adept rider on the other horse. By the will of the mystic knight, Ben’s Decimus is transported onto Paradox’s Aeneid, in the exact position as the painting, holding on for dear life. Similarly, Eli’s Georgius is lifted and planted onto his own steed.

The frozen frame unpauses, with Ben’s cage being removed and both horses off to the races.

Ben screams at the very top of his lungs, which coincidentally is exactly what his script calls for. Eli turns his head back to him, per the real events of this time, and shouts.

Eli (as Georgius, reading his script, unstoppable grin about him)
When was the last time you let her free? She couldn’t wait another second!
[END OF PART]

Part III

[A treacherous forest: falling leaves wither to ash before they hit the ground, and petulant Venus flytraps, curiously out of place in Rome and more-so here in the capital of nowhere, have the beating white glow of an otherworldly presence. Tree barks’ swirling patterns flow like paths of water.

Here come the horse-riding Forever Knight Eli, in the form of a young Georgius; Paradox, in the form of a second horse; and Ben, in the form of his ancestor Decimus, clinging for dear life to him. As Eli reins in his horse, Paradox sloppily screeches to a stop, hurling Ben a few feet forward.

Eli dismounts daintily and brushes himself off, giving a hand to Ben, who shoves the offer away, clutching the side of his stomach he crushed in his landing.

Ben stretches out a leg before trudging over to Paradox and dropping to his knees beside him. The horse professor is rubbing his hoofs.]

Eli (monotone)
No horseshoes, not in this era. I suppose I’ll have Aion take care of you.

Purple lightning crackles, and the blue skies cascade into thunderous gray clouds. Eli’s partner arrives, hands shaking to keep his hold on the number of active transmogrification and time spells. Eli stares perplexedly at him.

Eli
Yes...?

In his head he replays his words.

Eli
I spoke your name by mistake, didn’t I?

The royal violet magician nods, as Paradox and Ben look on.

Ben (to Paradox, low)
Going to get you out of here...

Ben’s lines curl into view in front of him. He drops his head just reading what he has to say.

Ben (cupping Paradox’s injured hoof, per the script)
Going to get you out of here... girl.

Aion disappears, Ben having missed the rest of their conversation.

Eli (to Ben)
Did you hear me say my partner’s name? I could swear I said “my partner.”

Ben’s eyes nervously dart left and right.

Ben (toothily smiling)
No?
Eli
Okay. Great.

Ben wipes sweat from his forehead.

Eli (clapping)
Cut!
Ben
Wha-

The world freezes, taking on a blue tint. Ben, Eli, and Paradox’s bodies occasionally glitch between their roles and their actual appearances.

Eli
Action!

The scene rewinds to their arrival: the horses’ brakes and Ben being launched off his horse.

Ben (clutching his sides now with twice the pain)
Why?!

Eli shrugs. With another clap, the scene advances slightly to Ben petting his horse.

Ben (unintentionally reading lines)
Where are we?
Eli (a shushing finger to his mouth)
A disenchanted forest. Come.

Eli draws a blade and with it parses vines dangling between trees.

[Fifteen minutes elapse. Eli’s still just swinging away with a scared and skeptical Ben in tow. But Eli stops, just short of cutting something else. He bends over and peers through the openings in it.]

Ben
Wha-?
Eli (shushing Ben)
It’s here.
Ben (whispering)
What’s-

Before Ben ruins his line, Eli points to the words running across.

Ben (curt)
What in heaven’s name is “it?”
Eli (sheathing back his blade)
Into the trees.

Eli squats with his back to a tree and cups his hands.

Ben
You can't be serious.

Ben eyes the branch not less than both their heights off the ground.

Ben
You can’t possibly lift me that high.
Eli
Not with that attitude.

Ben shakes his head as he steps up. He puts the weight of a foot in Eli’s hands.

Ben
Oh, c’mon, you can’t even handle half my weight.
Eli (trembling)
You weigh... like a pound... Keep going.
Ben (continuing to get on, murmuring)
No, 110...

As soon as he’s upright in Eli’s hands, the two almost lose balance but with one strong lift, Eli sends Ben soaring up into the trees. Airborne, he crosses his arms in an X before him and yells.

Ben
Frisbit!

But he’s still himself. He tries for the Omnitrix, but his arm is bare. He begins to flail his arms wildly trying to catch the branch before he misses it. He outstretches his arms.

But he misses and falls in an open field, before an otherworldly monster, resembling a bull-sized leech on four legs. Its body is a pale green with patterns swirling about its skin. Ben groans as he gets up, catching its attention. It runs straight at him, aiming to headbutt him in the stomach. He crosses his arms to defend himself.

But the attack never comes. He uncovers himself, finding an army of tentacles extended from its body. It’s frozen in place, but between the headbutt and the tentacles, he was seconds from defeat.

Eli (watching from the branch above, shouting)
Again!

The world rewinds to Ben flying through the air. This time, instead of trying Frisbit, he preps to catch the branch and does just narrowly so. He flounders trying to get up, but in the meantime, Eli runs the sharp angle up the bark of the tree, cleats of mana keeping him stable. As he reaches the height of the branch, the cleats disappear and he moves himself around the tree naturally.

The branch trembles a bit from his added weight, but he provides Ben a hand up. Ben slaps the hand away, almost falling again because of it, then rolls up onto the branch on his back.

Eli
What, have you run a marathon?

Ben gasps for air.

Ben
Don’t know if you know this, but... something hit me in the stomach not too long ago. Twice.

Eli rolls his eyes and shrugs.

Eli
Get up.
Ben
Unlike you, I’m not capable of throwing someone a hundred feet in the air, let alone climbing a tree.
Eli
You’re not reading your lines.
Ben
Oh, come o-

Seconds roll back.

Eli
What, have you run a marathon?
Ben (faking a gasp for air)
Don’t know if you know this, but something hit me in the stomach not too long ago.

Eli grins and extends a helping hand. Ben slaps it away again and gets up on his own. Eli points forward, to a branch thirty feet ahead, but finds Ben distracted by the monster below.

Ben (knowing full well what he’s seeing, sweat beating down)
Georgius, what in heaven’s-
Eli
Keep it down. It was here.

The tail on the monster, with burning red eye of its own, turns to the trees.

Ben (still loud)
If that’s not it, I don’t want to know what “it” was.
Eli (pointing forward)
We’re not disturbing it. Come on.
Ben (almost shrill)
You want me to jump that?

The monster below stops in its paces and stares up to the trees. Eli and Ben hold their breaths, with Eli quick to cover Ben’s mouth.

The monster returns to its nibbling at blackened shrubs and broken leaves.

Eli
Dess.

Without a word, Ben crosses his arms and turns around. He can’t help but recall missing the branch they’re on the first time.

Eli takes his head and turns him around.

Ben (arms crossed still, eyes shut)
Absolutely not.

The branch shakes. As Ben opens his eyes, he sees Eli readying to make the jump himself.

Ben
Are you insa-?

A bushel of the tree’s leaves snap and smack Ben in the face, almost costing him his balance. Ben’s view obfuscated, Eli’s eyes and hands glow a wisping fuschia. A row of platforms appear before him, and it’s his weight removed from the branch that allows Ben to regain composure before falling off. He hops from bough to bough until he’s at the next tree.

Ben brushes through the leaves and sees Eli, hands and eyes just like normal.

Ben
No way...

Eli motions for Ben to take the leap. The tree quakes again, one of the monsters at the base rumbling it. Frightened for dear life, he bounds. Eli places his hands behind his back as they glow, allowing him to quickly make a bouncing pad that elevates Ben high into the air. Mid-jump, he preps to catch the next branch, but from nowhere, a pure-black rift opens up and catches Ben, whisking him off to who-knows-where.

Among the monsters is one that has scaled Eli’s tree. It jumps off, catches the branch by its teeth, and bites it off. As the knight falls with it, he creates a picture frame with his fingers that when parted draws open a rectangular portal beneath him.

It drops him on the ground, where Ben is held in the captivity of an alien with a wisping tail and a slender body covered in ancient Esoterica garbs - somehow no different from the modern-day.

Eli (drawing his blade again)
Doormaker.

The alien cups its head where its ears would be. It screeches to the point where even the greenery in the area shivers, and Ben and Eli come close to collapsing. One of the Doormaker’s monsters arrives at its side, and its many tendrils extend towards Ben.

Eli cuts out a portal himself, bringing Ben to his side.

Ben
You know magic?
​​​​​​Eli
I need to.
Ben (again)
But do you - Eli - know magic?

Eli shakes his head but neglects to rewind the program. Instead, he claps, skipping back to his “I need to,” and then once more, to go forward and bear his blade. The tip of it is fuschia. Around him are the bodies of innumerous slain beasts - Lucubra. Just three threaten to take Eli down. He tosses his sword to Ben.

Eli
Kill the Doormaker!
Ben
I don’t know what’s going on!
Eli
Do it!

It is this blade alone with which Ben can eliminate the dark mirror of one of his favorite transformations.

He instead cuts through the Lucubra terrorizing Eli and offers him a hand up. His clothing is torn up and his armor scratched. As Eli takes the help, Ben drives the blade into him.

Eli shakes his head, Ben freezing just before the blade makes contact. The world around them glitches. He lets go of Ben’s hand and falls back to the floor, but rather than hit it, he fazes right through.

Eli (distantly)
Cut!
[END OF PART]

Part IV

[The mutilated Lucubra lay. The Doormaker cups his head mid-scream. Ben, resembling his ancient ancestor Decimus, extends a blade. He can’t move. He’s frozen, as is the rest of this blue-tinged world.

He falls forward. Off-balance, he can’t save himself, but a frame opens just where Eli had fallen through. He crashes through the ceiling of the House of Uncommons’ banquet hall, right onto its never-ending table, shattering plates and sending a stuffed turkey flying.

He rolls off the table and groggily lands on the floor. As he gets up, he notices he’s Frisbit, as he’d requested earlier. On the table, he finds Mr. Hook with a duster wiping the table cloth. The turkey is back. Frisbit can’t help but wonder how.

A tap on the shoulder.]

Frisbit (elbowing the person behind him)
Gotcha!

A shrill squeal.

Frisbit turns about-face to find Eli, cupping his probably-broken nose.

Frisbit
I am, like, 83% really sorry.
Eli
You're 17% forgiven.
Frisbit
You 83% deserved it.
Eli
First, you try to kill me when I tell you to kill the Doormaker, now you break my nose?
Frisbit
The script told me to!
Eli
Told you to break my nose?!
Frisbit
To draw the sword on you.
Eli (accepting a napkin for his bleeding nose)
Were you going to stop there?

Silence.

Eli (pointing to Frisbit’s face)
I take it that monster’s face doesn’t do expressions. Fine. We’ll keep going, if only because it means you really tapped into Decimus’s motivation.
Frisbit
And what motivation was that...?
Eli
A man you’ve called “Brother” through your whole life comes home, and he’s making the world around him his slave. Truthfully, that power is destructive.
Frisbit (disgusted)
A pen is destructive, too.
Eli
How is a pen destructive?

Frisbit holds his hand out the same as he’d held Decimus’s blade. He approaches Eli and motions driving it into his stomach.

Frisbit
A pen is destructive, too.
Eli (scoffing)
Magic actually is destructive, so I suppose you didn’t get the motivation, then. Just reading the script.

As Eli tosses the balled-up, soaked napkin into a waste basket, Frisbit observes the scenery change. Where he was at the middle of the banquet hall’s table, he’s now at a throne at the head.

Eli
That throne could be yours if you want.

Frisbit raises a brow to him. Eli points to behind the throne. A fireplace-

Eli
I’m not pointing to the fireplace.

Eli is pointing higher than that. Above the fireplace hangs a portrait of a woman cradling her toddler son. At that distance, the title plaque is blurry to Frisbit, so he mounts his disc and gets a closer look.

Eli
“Tall Teller.” Alliteration for alliteration’s sake. Aion’s work, of course. He doesn’t normally have punctuation in the title, though. It must mean something, like “this is the end.”

Ben places his hands on the portrait. He feels the coarse, dried paint, but doesn’t slip into it.

Eli (suddenly louder)
The mother’s named Gynura. She loves the stories about Decimus.

Ben turns around to a smaller room - the quarters again, with Paradox still in the form of a horse.

Frisbit
Why is he still like that?
Eli
Good question. Aion-

Thunder booms, and with the blinding smack of lightning, Paradox becomes an infamous blade with a glistening ruby in its hilt.

Frisbit
Ascalon.

Eli nods, ripping the sword out of the ground. It shakes uncontrollably.

Eli
And two of it can’t exist in one timeline, if I’m not mistaken.

He levitates, the sword whisking him off into the painting behind him. Frisbit runs up to it but stops short of jumping in. He sees a tall warrior, in scratched gray armor covering head-to-toe. They are marching through their living room. The title is “Sixun?” Punctuated again.

He shakes his head, turning to an open window. It looks out to a perilous storm at sea. He’s on the highest story of an unthinkably elaborate castle on an island in the middle of nowhere. He taps the Omnitrix.

Frisbit
Location?
Omnitrix (turning purple, sparking, laughing)
Nowhere.

Frisbit bashes the side of his hand onto the Omnitrix. More laughter.

Frisbit
I want Streak.

Maniacal laughter.

Frisbit drops his head and leaps into the portal.

[Song dynasty-era China, Night: into Within this time period, Ben drops into the body of that armored warrior “Sixun.” Simple instructions are etched into reality by Aion. He follows them through the halls of a medieval home, entering into one room where a child lay sleeping. He nods and passes to the next room, where a man in his 20s also rests. He nods again and passes on, but that man in his 20s opens his eyes to the clunky pacing of the armor out of the house.

Ben proceeds to the moon-kissed outside where the walls that surround this city at the very edges are visible. They are towering fortresses that hide distant battles from citizens. Ben’s warrior draws a blade from his side and marches towards the walls.

A tug at his side. A grown man, no doubt a lowly vagabond with his shaggy blonde hair and markedly torn robes of Roman prescription, stands there, just beside the warrior’s house.]

Vagabond
Well, if it isn’t the brave Sixun.

Ben’s character - Sixun - is silent.

Vagabond
Cat got your tongue? Let me help.

He rips out a jug of water and hands it over. Sixun takes it.

Vagabond
Drink, please.

Sixun shakes his head, and the vagabond rolls his eyes. He smacks the jug, launching water onto and into Sixun’s helmet. The vagabond hand glows.

The 20-or-so man bursts open the front door and briefly peers out, as if in search of Sixun, but there is now nothing outside. He goes back in.

Where did they go? Around the side of the house, the vagabond has slammed Sixun against the wall and contained him in a bubble of mana. From within, Sixun screams but his voice is unheard.

Vagabond
I’m going to let you out for a second, and you’re going to tell me what you’re doing in that armor.

When he opens the bubble, Sixun lunges at the vagabond, who casts enchanted cuffs around his arms that strap onto the side walls of the home.

Sixun (falsetto)
Going to fight.
Vagabond
Oh, stop it.

He gestures flicking, which slaps the helmet off of Sixun, unveiling tied-back brown hair and a woman’s face.

Vagabond
Gynura, go back inside.
Gynura/Sixun (falsetto that trails into her normal voice)
My husband is out there fighting those demons - whatever they are! I don’t know who you think you are to tell me I can’t join him.
Vagabond
You do know.
Gynura
You’re not him. Just someone with a bag of tricks.
Vagabond
You believe me.
Gynura (shaking her head)
No, I do not. That story is centuries old. You would have to be, too.

The vagabond nods, crushing his fists to force her armor to crumble and break off of her, revealing light clothing.

Vagabond
I have kept your family safe since Decimus. Who am I?
Gynura
Decimus called you crazy.
Vagabond
And you?

Head down, she says nothing. The vagabond releases the shackles.

Gynura (looking to the vagabond)
I call you Georgius.
Georgius/Vagabond
You know me. You believe me. Now trust me. Go back inside. Your son needs his mother, not your brother, in there.

Gynura nods and proceeds inside. (An old man, eyes agape, who caught the whole thing looks at his jug of some orange carbonated drink and sets it down, walking away bewildered.) Georgius follows. Inside, the 20-odd man - Gynura’s brother - stands there.

Gynura’s Brother
Gyn - what are you doing? And who is this?
Gynura (proceeding toward a hatch in the floor)
I’m doing nothing, and I’m doing that nothing with nobody.

She lifts the hatch, opens it, and proceeds down a ladder, shutting it after herself. Georgius steps up to her reproachful brother.

Georgius
Jin - I’ve waited so long to meet you.

The brother - Jin - scans Georgius. He shakes his head in disbelief as Gynura’s young son, no more than 10, peaks out.

Georgius (crouching down to his level)
Heng, is it?

[Basement: In the sublevel below the house is an armory, the place where her husband keeps his armor and the place where he found that old set. She grabs some tools, and looks around to make sure no one’s around. Then, with the twirl of a finger, she rips open a portal to outside and takes the armor that Georgius had broken. She closes the portal after grabbing piece after piece, then takes tools in preparation for repair.

Another rift opens behind her, and a body on its knees comes in all-red armor. One of the armpieces is missing, and underneath, a ghoulish hand is visible. The helmet, too, is gone. The half-human, half-Doormaker face is monstrous. The human half of the face has tears running down as the rift behind it closes.

Gynura runs over to grab him before he falls.]

Gynura (sobbing)
Six’!

He doesn’t utter a word, coughing as she slumps him over her shoulder and walks him to a table across the room. She slides everything off and lays him across it. His inhuman side is oozing some blue liquid.

Gynura
Are you okay? No, you’re going to- you’re going to be okay.

He shakes his head.

Gynura
Please.

Struggling, he pulls a blade out of the side of his armor.

Gynura
No. No, it’s all real. I wanted to surprise you- every part of the story is real. The demons are real, Georgius is real-

She holds a ball of magenta energy in her hand and presses it against him, trying to heal.

Gynura
-Magic! The way we’ll win this is magic, and it’s real, too! I wanted to surprise you.

He coughs up something blue.

Gynura (wiping her eyes, voice trembling)
Please. Stop.

He hands her the sword.

Sixun (coarse)
This- only way- this is the only way.

He takes her hand with his free one and puts it on the hilt of the blade. She shakes her head furiously.

He gestures her to come closer to him. She puts her ear on his face to listen.

He just pecks her ear.

Georgius (calling from the ground floor)
What’s going on down here?

Gynura shakes her head.

Heng (calling)
Mommy?
Gynura (voice breaking)
Honey, stay upstairs!

Georgius keeps Heng back and slides down the ladder. He enters the messy room, where Gynura lies on her knees hovered over Sixun’s body on the table.

Georgius (sincerely)
Gynura... what happened?

She shakes her head. Georgius approaches to touch her shoulder, but he stops. Just behind her, he can see the red and blue splats on her hands, the crack in Sixun’s chestpiece and the blade driven through the crack.

Georgius (quietly)
Gynura...
Gynura (almost incurring whiplash on her turn to him)
YOU SAID YOU’VE KEPT MY FAMILY SAFE, BUT WHAT ABOUT HIM?
Georgius
I said... I have kept Decimus’s family safe. Direct descendants. I can’t possibly watch over all spouses, because- because then you’ll ask, well why not the spouse’s parents, children, cousins, friends, and...

She turns back to Sixun’s body. She offers her hand to him and he uses it to help her onto her feet.

Georgius
I’m sorry.

She turns around and faces him with a smile.

Gynura
No, I am.

Her eyes glow as she bashes a mana-made jug into Georgius’s forehead, disorienting him. In his disarray, Gynura uses magic to faze Sixun’s armor off of him and onto her. Georgius grabs her by the shoulders but she then bashes the back of her head into his again. He feels the world spin as she runs off, a magic-tipped blade in hand, twirling open a portal and bounding through it.

The world but briefly freezes. Eli, through his guise of Georgius, cups his forehead as Aion manifests to his side.

Eli (as Georgius)
Tennyson had way too much fun hitting me.

Aion looks to him, rolling his eyes.

Eli
You know you saw it.

Aion chuckles and dissipates as time continues.

[Beyond the portal Ben’s Gynura had run through is yet another disenchanted forest. As Gynura steps into the battlefield, it is to meet a Doormaker, as well as three men - one in heavier, more glorious armor - and a band of Lucubra.]

Gloriously Armored Man (voice echoing between his own and a darker, more demonic one)
Sixun? Impossible.

Gynura prepares her blade and utters not a word. The man can’t see her under her husband’s helmet.

With the snap of his finger, the Doormaker screams, breaking open rifts around Gynura that drop a bevy of the Lucubra on her. Their tendrils which hunger for her mind are the first pieces she slices off.

Gloriously Armored Man
The mighty Sixun is finally fighting.

One of the other men speaks in some garbled gibberish, igniting more screams from the Doormaker. Instead of the Lucubra however, this man leaps through. He’s gilded in light burgundy armor, like Sixun’s but less protective. When he swings at her, she swipes right at his hilt, knocking the sword out of his hand. She slices at his chest and then cuts at his wrists, chopping off a hand.

Gloriously Armored Man (chuckling)
You feel no remorse for what you’re doing to a person.

She pushes the light-armored man onto the ground and charges after the cocky gilded one. In doing so, she navigates through a field of Sixun’s fallen teammates and Lucubra. Gynura twirls open a portal and bounds through it mid-charge.

Gloriously Armored Man (puzzled, frightened)
What?! He can’t do that. He doesn’t have that power.

He looks around nervously. This man is the General of the Emperor’s army - no doubt - and the man by his side is the last of his infantry, a blonde newcomer who goes by Ying.

Crunch: the sound a blade makes when it breaks right through the belly of a Doormaker. The portal had come and gone from behind him, Gynura baring her weapon for him. She pulls it out and stares at the men in front of her. Ying, terrified, runs through a portal of his own making, and so Gynura is left eyeing the General.

General/Gloriously Armored Man
Go ahead. This body is but a vessel. You know my true self.

She readies to charge, as Ying manifests behind her and slaps her helmet off.

General
Ah, there it is: the wife. I knew it. My spell cannot be broken without death.
Gynura
Funny, mine either.

She holds out her hand and makes a bubble around the General, but Ying grabs her and covers her mouth. As she struggles to free herself, tendrils not unlike the Lucubras’ escape his body and bury into her temples.

Georgius (voice booming)
Stop!

A doorway-shaped portal comes alive with Georgius running through it.

General
Hit me and she dies.

Georgius slides to a stop just short of the General. The General points to Gynura, whose struggling has ceased. Ying releases her and stands behind the General, who in turn stands behind her. Her eyes glow a sickly green color as she bares her blade against Georgius.

Georgius
Gynura, please, I couldn’t save him.
General
She can’t hear you.
Georgius
Diagon, you will stop this at once.
General
You can stop it. If you want. I’ll give you about the same deal I gave Sixun about ten minutes ago. She either kills you or herself.
Georgius
Sixun didn’t play your game.
General (smug)
And what became of him?

Georgius utters but a peep.

General
Break the rules, play any games, do anything that’s not in that deal - and Ying here will deal with you.

Ying’s lips curl into a crooked smile.

General
You have 30 seconds.

Georgius drops his blade to the floor.

[Pan to above the battered trees, staring at the moonlit sky. Blood comes spattering in the air.]

[END OF PART]

Part V

[Middle of the Disenchanted Forest, tree-top view: The blood that flew from Georgius and Gynura’s last stand is suspended in-air. Time-reverses, the spatter reversing into whomever’s body. Panning down, Gynura holds still with her blade in-hand, right before the blow.]

Eli/Georgius
Cut!

He poses with arms extended out and falls back into the floor behind him, again falling right through it. Ben’s Gynura, bodies flickering, is unfrozen and left to roam free. A gold frame opens in front of him to escape to the House of Uncommons. He shakes his head and walks opposite it.

Tap.

He flips around to find Aion who shoves Ben forward through another frame. Aion follows him in.

[House of Uncommons, lower level crypt: “Sixun?” hangs, spitting out Ben and Aion before Eli, who brushes dust off himself.

Ben lands on his knees, Eli offering a hand up. Ben slaps it away and gets up with ease. He’s still in Gynura’s form, but before he can mention it, Aion fixes him.]

Ben (angrily)
What happened?
Eli
Aion, did you make sure to bring his mind back to? I know there wasn’t much to bring.
Ben
...What happened with us, with Gynura and Georgius?
Eli
What do you mean, “what happened?” She died, I thought that was obvious.
Ben
How was that obvious?! She was holding the sword?
Eli
Yeah, and Sir George was alive until last year. Put two and two together.
Ben
That doesn’t mean anything. She could’ve stabbed him, he died, but he got revived somehow. It would be an epic adventure to save him.
Eli
Well, there wasn’t.
Ben
Then show me.
Eli
No. And it’s not that serious.
Ben
If it’s not that serious, then show me.

Eli rests a comforting hand on Ben’s shoulder. Ben eyes it with contempt.

Eli
You’re taking this too personally.

Ben smacks the hand away furiously.

Ben (arms crossed)
Where’s Paradox?

Eli chuckles.

Ben
What’s so funny?
Eli
He and Georgius have so much in common. I should’ve had him play the part and I just sit back and watch. On that thought, Aion, can we go back and-

Aion shakes his head.

Eli
And I left him as Ascalon, in Gynura’s time. If you want him back, we can just go find wherever Ascalon is right now.
Ben
Or, we could go back to her time and find him before he has to suffer a thousand years.
Eli (sighing)
Okay, being very honest, we can’t go back that far. We can only go back to where we know, otherwise we’ll change the timeline.
Ben
And, of course, you only know Georgius’s history.

Aion nods.

Eli
So we’ll have to go to when Georgius earned Ascalon. I believe you’re familiar with that.

Ben rubs his chin.

Eli
Yes, keep rubbing the invisible facial hair. Or, of course, we can just find where Georgius is stranded these days.
Ben
Is there someone I should know from that time?
Eli
Yes, Gynura’s son.

As Eli points to the painting behind him, Ben notes the scenery has actually stayed the same: a crypt, home to myriad coffins. The one directly in front of him is labeled “The First Gy----” with dust covering the end. As Ben bends over to swipe the plaque clean, the doors open to unveil a skeleton, with battered orange cloth and red gauntlets and armor that covers just the arms.

Tap.

Ben swings around to see Eli gesturing to the painting - “Protector” - which now depicts Ben in the Yamamoto home. Everyone is dressed up, but in black. And Mrs. Yamamoto is held tightly by Mister, the latter mid-scream at Ben.

The casket grabs Ben’s attention, as it shuts itself. He turns back to see a new painting. It’s Gynura’s son Heng - the likeness is uncanny - but he’s decades older now.

Eli
And again, we could just go find him n-

Ben transforms into Combustiball. Aion and Eli both take steps away from him, but rather than fight, Combustiball simply leaps into the frame. Eli goes in after.

[A tavern, thirty-one years after Gynura. Heng sits at the counter, jug in hand laughing it up. As Ben’s Combustiball takes control of him, he shakes his head and looks around, his scraggly beard twisting with him.]

Girl (Irish accent, yelling to overcome other chatter in the room)
And then what happened?

Ben’s lines flutter around him. The door to this homely wooden destination jingles open and slams shut. Large footsteps louden.

Ben/Heng
He tells me, “trust me – you have no clue who I am-“
Girl (laughing)
Absolutely no clue!
Heng (chuckling along)
No clue who the man is but my mom is in his arms and he says, “we need to go!”
Girl
And what did the, um -the man you lived with- your uncle, what did he say?

The man behind the counter lays an open palm out. Heng drops a coin in it, which the man pockets. People, including the bartend, gasp in the background as the footsteps continue, giving Heng a chance to pull his coin back to him with the wave of a hand. Someone murmurs something about a seat.

Heng (gesturing running)
My uncle trusted the madman, ran with him, and look where it got him.
Girl
But you believe him now?
Heng (gesturing fighting)
Dunno, but I can tell you I don’t believe for a second that he’s on his tenth century, following us all this time. Probably just a kid’s kid’s kid and so on.

Heng turns away to his beverage. His ruby gauntlets clink at the touch before he takes a swig.

A tap on the shoulder. Ben, expecting Aion, swings around his barstool with his blade in hand.

A portly man no less than six and a half feet, stomach uncovered by a stained white shirt he has likely owned since childhood, stares into Heng’s eyes one by one.

Portly Man (Irish accent)
You’re in my seats.

Heng’s friend pops out of her seat.

Girl (sweat beating, urging Heng)
Here, take mine, Fergus. He and I were *just leaving*.
Heng
Hey, don’t give him your seat.
Fergus/Portly Man
They’re both my seat.
Heng (sneering, patting the man’s gut)
I believe that.

Heng sheaths his blade and grabs his drink. Fergus snags him by the throat. All eyes on the encounter, the hum of the lively room stops. Everyone else at the counter leaves their stools.

Heng (half-breathed)
Whoa there, big guy.

Fergus picks him up, still at the neck, and stares back into his eyes.

Heng (higher pitched)
Well, not “big guy,” like “big” big guy, but big like “Wow, I can beat anyone up big.”

Fergus presses his nose against Heng’s, clutching harder.

Heng
Wow, is that something new you’ve done with your face?

He reaches for the hilt of his blade.

Heng
It’s definitely not a face only a mother could love!

Managing a flip, Heng grabs his blade and slashes just through Fergus’s shirt, pushing him to let go. Heng lands on one knee to the ground and recomposes himself a few feet back.

Fergus
Yours ‘bout to be a face your mother will never be able to love again.
Heng (sneering, standing upright and preparing his blade)
Well, my mother’s six feet under right now so.

Fergus raises a brow.

For a moment he just eyes Heng from their feet apart.

Fergus marches up to Heng and pushes his blade down like it was paper.

Fergus (throwing his arm around Heng’s shoulders, shouting to behind the counter, jolly)
Aengus, I like this one! Get ‘em as much as he likes! Never heard that before – “six feet unda!”

Heng chuckles awkwardly with him.

[But as the minutes go by, those awkward chuckles evolve to the hearty laughter only lifetime friends know. Fergus got his two seats – each with half of his name carved in – and Heng got his – with his butt print enough to mark territory. A ruby helmet is at the foot of his stool.]

Fergus
Brother, what is your name? I have a celebration coming up right here and I’d like you to come with!
Heng
I don’t share that, sorry.
Fergus
I could tell you ev’rything about ev’ryone in this room. I will get your name, boy.
Heng
I’m not a local, so good luck.

Jingle. A bright white light blinds those at the entrance as Ying, mind certainly free of the Diagon, runs in, arms armored and matching silver helmet on.

Ying
Georgius requests your presence on the battlefield, H-
Heng
Don’t say my name. And no, you all are good.

At the front door, as the shimmering white glow fades, everyone by the entrance can see it has transformed into a portal to an active war front. Soldiers of all sorts are dying. And the uncountable Lucubra are to blame.

Ying
No, we are not, Heng.
Heng
For the love of-

He takes in all the rooms air to calm himself. He then downs the gallon of whatever source of delusions he was having, unsheathes his blade and walks to the door.

Heng (seeing the mayhem)
And what am I supposed to do about this?

The perspective of the doorway’s portal becomes a birds-eye view of Georgius, riding in on a stallion and dismounting mid-gallop to swing his blade at a dozen Lucubra, who if not impacted by the mana-infused blade’s impact are launched away by a burst of magic he throws with another hand.

Ying
We cannot lose our General. You are the only one who can save him.

He rolls his eyes.

Heng
This is for you, Ying. Not that madman.

He leaps into the doorway, Ying going in after him. The forgotten helmet lay under Heng’s stool.

[Untold miles away, the zone just outside the largest known disenchanted forest. Hordes of Lucubra scratch down and overwhelm legions of “General” Georgius’s people. Heng and Ying pop in, with a Lucubra instantly pouncing Ying.]

Ying (pointing to Georgius fifty feet away)
We can’t spare another moment! Go!

Heng tries to help, but-

Yeng
GO!

Heng curls his hand into a ball of mana, his eyes glowing, jumping and throwing the ball at the ground. A quake throws off the Lucubra in the area and sends him hundreds of feet in the air. Collapsing his arms to his sides, he reopens them to unveil the gliding wings of a bat. He soars down to Georgius, smacks a few Lucubra off of him, and with that same momentum, shoots back up and knocks out the rest.

He lands at Georgius’s side, collapsing his arms, and removing the wings.

Heng (voice sullen)
Who are all these people?
Georgius
Nice of you to join us. They’re my army.
Heng
What are you doing with an army? You don’t have the minds to coordinate an army. You need a strike team.
Georgius
What, a handful of bodies to march into that madness? I’ve been responsible for too much to create another death sentence.
Heng
Look around, Georgius, you’ve sentenced everyone to death! Because of you-
Georgius (nose flaring, coming face-to-face with Heng, hostile)
Because of me?! What about you?
Heng (pressing nose-to-nose with Georgius)
Yes, because of you, Ying is your best man left! The rest – dead or alive – are children you no doubt picked off the street! You can’t coordinate this many. I couldn’t coordinate this many. Ying can’t coordinate this many. And we can’t do it even together. It’s too many, and they’re too inexperienced. We need a good team and a plan.

Georgius sighs. He pushes his knuckles together and closes his eyes.

Next to Georgius’s every living follower, a projection of his head in pink floats and utters commands.

Georgius’s projections
Regroup on me at the Storm.

Some of those followers murmur in confusion. Heng visibly rolls his eyes.

Heng flicks his boomeranging coin into Georgius’s forehead, disturbing the projection a moment.

Heng
They don’t even know what the Storm is. For the love of-

Heng makes his own projection. Everyone gasps, as though they were seeing a ghost.

Heng’s projections
Come to the edge of the forest.

Georgius and Heng return to their bodies and equip bows made of mana. The arrows they each use are their blades, each tipped. They keep a close eye on the remaining thirteen bodies running from the Lucubra to the Storm.

The first rushing to safety is a boy even younger than Ying when he started. A Lucubra grabs him and gnaws at his ankles. Heng fires his blade-arrow, stabbing the Lucubra who continues to overwhelm the boy. Heng recalls the blade to him. Georgius fires in the meantime, deciding between saving Ying and an older woman to nail three separate Lucubra with one shot to save the woman. As Heng goes on to save him, Ying looks on in disgust, betrayed. Meanwhile, the first boy collapses. Heng hits the Lucubra again for the kill, but the boy visibly begins to change into one of the Doormaker’s kin.

Heng readjusts his bow and pulls it back. Georgius gestures him not to fire, as he opens up a portal under the boy and sends him elsewhere.

Georgius
I will not be responsible for more.
Heng
Then you shouldn’t have brought more.

Ying reunites with Heng and Georgius.

Ying
What will I do?
Georgius
Nothing.

Ying pouts as Heng and Georgius carefully knock out the remaining resistance. Two more bodies go down who are then ingested by Georgius’s portal.

Heng (half Ben’s curiosity)
Where do you send them?

Georgius points to the center of the forest behind them. Heng shakes his heads.

Heng (Ying listening)
Better to just put them out of the misery.
Georgius
I should have done that.
Heng
Well, you didn’t.
Georgius
What did I do to you? How can I convince you I had no part in Jin’s-?
Heng
You can’t. I’m not here hoping for you to convince me. Maybe you can tell me what happened to my mother, though.
Georgius (swallowing)
The Diagon took her.
Heng
Lying – through your teeth.

The remaining nine legions group up at Heng, Georgius, and Ying. All the Lucubra are down, but they refuse to look back to the fallen.

Heng
Don’t look back. We cannot undo what has been done. We are the last now, but we will be the first survivors. We will charge in and be the last to try and the first to do. We end the Diagon today, and we will be remembered tomorrow and the day after and forever. We must honor the fallen.

Heng pumps his arm.

Heng
We are Gynurans forever, and forever Gynurans.

He pumps his arm higher. Ying chimes in.

Heng and Ying (in unison)
We are Gynurans forever, and forever Gynurans!

Everyone chimes in.

Everyone (in unison)
We are G-

Heng shakes his head at Georgius, who bows his.

Everyone (except Georgius, in unison)
-ynurans forever, and forever Gynurans!
Georgius
Heng, take point.

Heng snickers as though he was ever going to give Georgius the chance to lead again. He points into the forest and everyone follows him in, except Georgius who goes last, and Ying who doesn’t go at all.

Georgius
Victory awaits.
Ying
You’re all going to die, especially behind him.
Georgius (shocked)
Ying, where is this coming from?
Ying
I owed you my life. Then I saved yours by bringing him.

His eyes cower from contact with Georgius’s.

Ying
I can’t believe I brought him. I have a family, he has a family! You requested him knowing that he is going to die and now you pass off the lead simply because you know he’ll fail, but now you don’t have to take responsibility for it.
Georgius
So, what – you’re going to just run?
Ying
You all are going to die, with or without me. But without me, I can train a good team – like Heng said – that will actually be able to end the Diagon’s War.
Georgius
There isn’t time to train a team.
Ying (rhetorically)
But there’s time to kill them, isn’t there?

Georgius resigns from the argument, extending an arm to shake. Ying, reluctantly, returns it, then turns back, mounts his steed and takes off.

Georgius enters the forest.

[An hour later, at the heart of the forest: demented trees have been knocked down left and right. Nine bodies are down. Ten Lucubra are up. As Heng absorbs the destruction, he drops his blade. Georgius sees this and gapes. The Lucubra are swift to take him, but Georgius knocks out all ten. They had gnawed enough at Heng to debilitate him. He rests on a rock.]

Heng
How’s that…? You got what you wanted… another one. Go ahead… find my son… take him, too.
Georgius
I didn’t want this.
Heng
Well… you got this.

As his last breath gives out, his tricky coin slips out of hand. Ben’s Combustiball escapes the body and becomes but a spectator alongside Aion. The two follow Georgius as he approaches a Doormaker who screams as Georgius pierces his chest. The forest loses its transformation and becomes the wasteland it otherwise is. The Doormaker’s final portal called opens behind a boulder. It simply sits there, Georgius unable to close it.

Ben watches from afar as Azmuth arrives and gifts Georgius the tool for victory – Ascalon, fashioned out of the universe’s most fundamental forces.

The portal finally lets out a real dragon, a black deeper than space for the most part but a ghastly green on the torso. Time freezes. Eli almost shouts “cut!” before Combustiball drifts under him, pushes him out of the way, and falls into the invisible exit Aion had set up. Aion leaps in after him. With the two gone, Eli tries to go after, but the frame is closed. Time has continued.

Dragon
Did you like my toys, Adventurer? I know you see beauty in their destruction.
Georgius (his eyes – Eli’s eyes – darting around for Aion’s direction)
Your Doormakers have lain waste to hundreds, and no I have not.
Diagon/Dragon
You let Decimus chase you for decades, wasting his life. You bargained with Gynura’s life. I gave you a simple choice – let her die or you. You broke the rules.

[The Diagon telepathically shares the history – as Georgius dropped his blade, Gynura went in for the kill, but he opened a rift transporting the end of the blade to the General. Just before it reached his chest, Ying – then still part-Doormaker – opened another rift just in front of the General that put the blade into Gynura’s back.]

Diagon
I decided to share that with you. Since you are not Georgius, you would not remember.
Georgius (nervously)
I am Georgius.
Diagon (leaping off his pedestal and approaching Eli, sniffing at him)
Ha! You do have his signature – you feel like him, very closely. However you are different, separate by a generation or perhaps two. Tell me, what kind of omen are you.
Georgius
I am not from the future; I am no omen. I am one thousand years old.
Diagon (curling his reptilian scales about Georgius, staring daggers into his irises)
I see it now. I have fallen in your time… to the true Georgius. But he’s no longer with us.

[Outside the House of Uncommons, cliffside: Combustiball arrives. Aion manifests behind him, through a frame mounted just aside the rear House entrance. Combustiball lunges, grabs him, and holds him just over the edge.

There is very little ocean around the adrift island. Countless pieces of green and blue rocks coasting through the sky. The sky isn’t even blue; it’s just not there. One can see straight out into space from just a few miles out. Combustiball nearly falls off the edge of what must be a remaining piece of a wrecked Earth.]

Combustiball
What happened?!

[Aion points to the frame on the door. It shows Eli’s engagement with the Diagon. The latter saw through the former’s ruse, and Eli attempting not to further alter the timeline didn’t wish to do or say the wrong thing, instead doing nothing.

The Diagon wins. Ying’s battalion comes in the months later and mounts a valiant though unsuccessful effort. The swarm of Doormakers – Marid – go on to world domination, within a few centuries, coating the world with disenchanted forestation. Eli, shipwrecked in the body of Georgius and twisted into an eternal Marid fusion, acts as second-in-command.

The Diagon takes the next step to the planets beyond, asserting dominion over the Solar System and before long venturing out to the local galaxy. With time, Eli – and by extension, Diagon – loses to the strongest imperial force in the universe – Vilgax, in the 1900s. Refusing to relinquish Earth, he takes the world to his grave.

Boom. In pieces, like the one where the House of Uncommons lay, despite its juncture between timelines.]

Combustiball
So we have to go back.

Aion reverts the frame to the moment they had left and pushes Combustiball in. Aion follows.

[At the moment Aion and Combustiball had left Eli behind, they arrive again. They take Eli with them and revert Paradox, in the form of Ascalon, back to himself, leaving the actual Ascalon to Georgius. All four return through the frame.]

[House of Uncommons, a room with a bevy of armored statues: Eli, Combustiball, and Aion arrive with Paradox back in a static, timeless box.]

Eli
Do you understand now?
Combustiball
Understand what, that you both are psychopaths?
Eli
No, that the Forever Knights – the Gynurans, as it was intended – started off with the purest of intentions.
Combustiball
Who cares what they started off as? They’re insane now.
Eli
You should care. Because we want you to be our next Forever King.
[END OF PART]

Part VI

[House of Uncommons, in the Hall of the Honored: Combustiball reverts to Ben.]

Ben
You cannot be serious.
Eli
We didn’t do all of that for our health.
Ben (pointing to the time-locked time traveler)
You didn’t do it for Paradox’s either. Now, give him to me. I’m done with your game.
Eli
You’re not done until we tell you you are.

A faint green glow captures Ben as his skin loses texture and unveils the muscle below. To conceal himself, a shielding of titanium plating, painted black, snaps on from head to toe. The Omnitrix stays on his wrist, but the gauntlet around the trademark insignia dissipates. He grips his claws.

Ben/Titanium Alien (deep)
I have things to do. So let him go or I level this place.
Eli (raising his hands nervously)
Calm down.

Ben’s titanium-plated transformation grounds himself and curls his arms as though weights are in-hand.

Eli
Aion.

Paradox is released from his stasis. As Ben’s transformation relaxes, Aion transforms Paradox into a gun and launches him into a random painting. The sturdy alien squats again but soon finds himself removed from the ground. Aion contains his legs down in stasis, mere inches in the air.

Eli
You know now our plight. Why don’t you want to respect your ancestor and bring its name back into good graces?
Titanium Alien
You’re insane. You’re obsessed with the Knights, and it’s just because you’re related to Georgius.
Eli
So what? I’m not, but even if I was “obsessed” because of him, then what’s your excuse for being a Plumber? It skipped a generation but your grandfather, his father, and his father’s father all were Plumbers.
Titanium Alien
You’re trying to force me to join; the Plumbers didn’t. And the Plumbers are good.
Eli (sharply)
The Plumbers aren’t good. When your great-grandfather started with the Plumbers, they manipulated people; they did far worse than the Knights ever did. But look where they are now – in everyone’s good graces.

Through the grates of his plated armor, the titanium transformation squints.

Eli
You know I have no reason to lie. But since you respond better to this-

Aion releases the titanium Ben gently onto the floor. He reverts to human to see Eli gesturing to Paradox’s paintings.

Eli
-I’m asking: would you like to know what the Plumbers did?

Ben stands up, a twinge in his leg as he feels the fading pain of being hurled off of Aeneid relapse. As he approaches the painting, he moves with a small limp, feeling little pricks across his body that remind him of all the Lucubra that had snacked on him as Heng.

He climbs into the painting.

[Somewhere on the Carolinas’ border, 1880s, Night: Before pavement, the valley more traveled between pubs and other buildings was the signature for a road. On this night, it is empty. But one pub’s lights are on. A man, very incapable of walking straight or in any one direction, busts out. He shouts some incomprehensible goodbyes to his friends as he begins his stumble home.

A few blocks down, away from more organized society between some forestation, the man looks across the road to the other bundle of trees. He twirls over to that side, looks back to where he had come from, and dances back over.

He keeps on his one-man performance, swaying from side-to-side. Even as a carriage rolls forward. In front of the carriage, someone tries to pull their horse around him. But the man keeps twirling, just off toward the left as the carriage swings to the right. Mid-sway, the man sees the carriage and stops. The rider brushes their forehead now that the stress is gone.

So the man, covering his eyes, leaps into the carriage’s path. A woman – the rider – shrieks. Her carriage is removed from the ground, caught in a bubble of bright magenta energy. The horse continues to pedal as though it’s making any difference, but in-air it is moved over the man and released back on the floor. The spooked steed stands on two and kicks wildly, running left and right before slipping and collapsing with its rider onto the ground.

The man, meanwhile, has his hands pulled away from his eyes. He sees a being in a long, worn cloak. It’s all that one can make out in this dead of night.]

Cloaked Being (familiar voice)
Flinging yourself into danger: what was I to expect?
Man (slurring)
Hey, w-w-ho are you?
Cloaked Being (sighing)
I’ll check on the carriage. Go home, Mr. Tennyson, please.
Mr. Tennyson/Man (slurring)
I was already halfway there!

Mr. Tennyson continues stumbling toward home, swaying lost.

The cloaked being approaches the fallen cart and rider. He offers a hand.

Woman (taking it warmly, excited; English accent)
Oh, thank you kindly. Did you see what just went on here?
Cloaked Being
I just happened along, no.
Woman (tepidly)
Oh, okay. Well, come on, pull.

He does, realizing a leg is stuck under the capsized horse. He picks it up by hand with ease, not revealing a spell is doing most of the lifting. She gets out, for a quick second stretching out her leg.

Woman
Mattie, by the way, and you?
Cloaked Being
Just a lone wanderer. Are you alone?
Mattie/Woman (sharply)
Yes, what of it?
Cloaked Being
You shouldn’t be, it’s not safe.
Mattie (riled)
And what about you, or is it different because you’ve- what?- a couple inches over me?
Cloaked Being (unsure)
No, it’s- it’s too late to be out alone without a safety.
Mattie
Why are you out alone then? What’s your safety?

The cloaked man keeps his lips sealed as he begins to trail off into the forest.

Mattie (motioning to her horse)
Don’t you go anywhere. I need help with picking him up.
Cloaked Being
You’re fine.
Mattie (grabbing him by the cloak)
Stay. Your eyes turned the same color as that orb around us. Please.

His eyes gape at her knowledge. But he shakes his head. She offers up a shrill squeal, at the top of her lungs. The young Mr. Tennyson comes rushing back.

Mr. Tennyson
F-fair maiden, who-
Mattie (pointing to the man in the cloak she’s gripping)
Cut it out. This man-

But as she looks to him, there is nobody there. The cloak, however, is still in her hand. She shakes her head and puts it over her shoulders. Mr. Tennyson has somehow already lifted the horse and carriage.

Mr. Tennyson
Miss, you are in no shape to dr-rive!
Mattie (chuckling)
Neither are you.

She, with ease, moves him into the back of the carriage, shoving some luggage away.

Mattie
Where are you off too, stranger?
Mr. Tennyson
That’s Miss Stranger to you, Mister!
Mattie (dropping her heavy head, grabbing a map of the town ahead and pointing)
Anywhere here?

He moves her hand inches to west.

Mr. Tennyson
R-i-ight there.
Mattie (unenthused)
Huh. So you’re my neighbor.
Mr. Tennyson
Ah, welcome to the neighborhood, Ms. Stranger!
Mattie (shutting his and fastening him down with luggage on his lap)
Matilda. Let’s go.
Mr. Tennyson (through the window)
Matilda, I am George Te-e-nnyson. But for you, Jorgy.
Mattie (forcing back a chuckle)
Okay, Jorgy, rest till we’re there.

She mounts up and rides off again. As they make off, the once-cloaked man becomes visible. He watches them, ripping a portal open and walking through.

[30 minutes later, a small Victorian home: Mattie grabs some of her things from the back of the carriage, by some miracle not bothering the fast-asleep Jorgy, and rushes into her new residence. She pecks an uncle on the cheek and races up to a spacious attic to drop off her stuff. A wide-open window catches her eye. She walks up to it and glances at the third-story view of the land around, clutching the cloak over her shoulders.]

Once-Cloaked Being (voice)
You know this room is a mess?
Mattie
Who are you to judge? You look fresh off the streets.
Once-Cloaked Being
You claim that, yet you’re wearing that cloak.
Mattie (whirling around, plucking at the cloak on her)
What cloak? This? This is mine.

The once-cloaked man lunges at her for the cloak, but she dances away, nearly causing him to fall out of the window.

Outside, Jorgy has somewhat woken up, catching a glimpse of this man dangling partly out. He opens the cart door and looks up, rubbing his eyes only to find him gone.

In the attic, Mattie is alone, darting left and right but backing up against the wall. She slaps away a lone hand that pops through a small rift in front of her.

Mattie
You can have it if you just tell me who you are. Please. I can already tell you’re a witch.
Once-Cloaked Being (voice echoing)
We’ll have none of that.
Mattie (pushing hands from nowhere away)
I said “please,” come now.

A rift opens by her legs, the being kicking them out to make her fall flat. He appears in front of her, arm outstretched.

Once-Cloaked Being
The cloak.
Mattie
You’re a witch; I’m sure you can make a new one.
Once-Cloaked Being
I’m not a witch.
Mattie
Sure you are, you’re doing witchcraft.
Once-Cloaked Being
It’s not witchcraft; it’s magic!
Mattie
So what does that make you? A magician?
Once-Cloaked Being
Sure, now hand it over.
Mattie
Of course, in exchange for your name.
Once-Cloaked Being
No.

She sighs, tossing the cloak at his face and pulling herself up.

Mattie (annoyed)
Okay, whatever, go. You got your cloak.
Once-Cloaked Being (putting it on)
Come now, wait-
Mattie (walking toward the window)
No, just go.

She sees Jorgy out there, who waves to him. She waves back. She turns back around, arms crossed and face flat.

Cloaked Being (head down, voice low and turning to a murmur)
My name’s G…
Mattie
Look, tell me or don’t.
Cloaked Being
My name. Is. Georgius.
Mattie
Two Georges in one night, interesting.
Georgius/Cloaked Being
He was named after me, so it’s not that interesting.
Mattie
What are you, his uncle?
Georgius
Let’s just say, I’ve been his guardian all his life. And I’ve been a guardian to his father and father’s father.
Mattie
Yeah, you don’t look 200, so-
Georgius
I’ve lost track of time, but closer to… 1600?
Mattie (winking)
Sure, that sounds a lot more reasonable. You’re not 60, you’re not 200, you’re actually 1600.
And since you’re going to be watching him, you’re going to be watching me too then, right?
Georgius (hesitantly)
I stick to the shadows. If all goes well, I don’t have to watch anyone.
Jorgy/Mr. Tennyson (distant)
Matilda!

Mattie turns back to Jorgy and waves to her.

Mattie
He’s cute, isn’t he?

No response. She turns back to the attic to see it empty.

[In the days that follow, Mattie and Jorgy take on the days and nights together. She finds her first stateside friends in his mates at the pub where they are headed tonight. A sign outside the pub reads “Forever Pirates, by Barry Reuter – this Friday!”

Inside the pub and seated in good company, Jorgy displays his pistol, a polished .44-caliber derringer that resembles a pocket shotgun.]

Jorgy’s Mate #1 (one of four at Jorgy and Mattie’s table)
That’s the actual thing?
Jorgy’s Mate #2
‘Isn’t a chance. It’s a random gun he probably found on the streets.
Jorgy (arm over Mattie’s shoulder, spinning the derringer about his index finger)
This is it – Booth’s derringer.
Jorgy’s Mate #1
That pea shooter killed the President?
Jorgy’s Mate #3 (Jorgy nodding)
Harhar, Mattie, I’m so glad his bellyaching hasn’t rubbed off on ya yet.
Mattie (chuckling)
I ache his belly enough with all the practice we do at home.
Jorgy’s Mate #3
“Practice?” Lady, I don’t need all that info-

Jorgy throws some napkins into the third mate’s face.

Jorgy
For her play.
Jorgy’s Mate #3
Ah, ya did say something like that at some point.
Mattie
It’s the whole reason I’m here.

Mattie, panning around the room, spies what she’s been searching for for weeks: the navy blue ripped cloak over the shaggy, graying blonde hair on Georgius’s head.

Mattie (pecking Jorgy’s cheek, pointing to a stage next to which a timid piano plays)
And it’s the reason I met this one. It’ll be here tomorrow; I hope you can come by.
Jorgy’s Mate #3
That pirate flick?
Mattie
“Forever Pirates,” yes! Barry researched real thieves, got right into the thick of it, to make it real. He’s dedicated.
Jorgy’s Mate #3
A match made in heaven: Matilda, pirate actress, ‘n George, an actual thief.
Jorgy
What?
Jorgy’s Mate #3
Where else could ya have gotten that thing?
Jorgy
Let’s just say friends in high places.
Jorgy’s Mate #2 (to #1 and #3)
Or thieves ‘n tight spaces. ‘eard of them pirates and took to the rivers, I take it.
Jorgy
This is the gun that killed Lincoln, and I’m borrowing it legitimately. Believe it, brothers.
Jorgy’s Mate #2 (swiping the gun out of Jorgy’s hands)
Yeah, right. Quiet guy, d‘you believe this joker?

The fourth in the group, a face hiding under raggedy blond, maintains his silence. Jorgy rips the gun out of his hand.

Jorgy
I need to bring this back.
Jorgy’s Mate #2
Sure, mate, we b’lieve ya.

Amid some continued arguing, she looks to Georgius again. He stays at a counter and turns to eye Jorgy, but upon making eye contact with Mattie, swiftly turns back. She focuses back on the events at her table, with Georgius watching her reflection at the side of his cup. He puts it down and ogles her for a moment, drawn after a moment to the quiet man at Jorgy’s table, just as vigilantly watching Jorgy’s derringer as Georgius with Mattie and Jorgy.

[An hour on, the couple laughs on their journey a block out to Mattie’s carriage.]

Man (raspy voice)
Hey, you lot forgot something.

Jorgy cautiously turns around to find the fourth man from his table.

Jorgy
Oh, it’s you.
Mattie (whispering to Jorgy)
You know him, right?
Jorgy (to her)
No, he was just sitting there tonight.
Mattie
I thought he was one of your mates.

They back up as the man gets closer.

Man
I just wanted to catch a glimpse of the gun.
Jorgy (pulling it from his pocket)
Of course.

He keeps Mattie back as he walks up and hands the man the derringer.

Jorgy (nervously)
Like it?
Man (pointing it at Jorgy)
Quite. I’ll take it off your hands for a buck.

Jorgy puts his hand on the weapon.

Jorgy (pushing the man’s aim to the ground)
Good offer – really – but it’s not mine to sell.

The man smacks Jorgy off of the gun and points it at the two.

Mattie (raising her hands)
Why would you give it to him?
Jorgy (backpedaling to her)
It’s not loaded.
Man (flicking the pistol’s hammer, aiming)
Promise?

The man puts pressure on the trigger. Mattie watches Georgius come up behind him. The hammer kicks and the ignition clicks. Empty. Georgius goes to kick out the legs from under the man but he leaps, expecting this, at the same time elbowing Georgius in the chest.

Jorgy
Great, someone else wants to steal the thing.

He lunges at the thief, holding his arms back and bashing the body into Georgius.

Georgius (recoiling)
I’m on your side!
Jorgy
You and everybody else, buddy.
Mattie
He is!
Jorgy
Matilda, how would you know?
Georgius (perplexed, gripping his chest)
Who’s Matilda?

Georgius alters his face, donning a mask made of fiery mana. Its horns and crooked smile are topped off by thick, beaty brows of darker flames. Only the thief witnesses this face, but it’s enough to get him to elbow Jorgy into Georgius. With his tail between his legs and the men jumbled up, the thief scurries off.

Jorgy
Hey!

Jorgy pushes Mattie to stay back and begins to chase the thief, who at a distance, raises his derringer hand to Jorgy. He stops, the thief briefly turning around and taking aim. Jorgy braces himself, protecting his face by turning his head away and crossing his arms in front of him. The thief briefly eyes Mattie, who shakes her head profusely. And Georgius, regaining posture, makes a difficult choice.

At the moment a bullet fires, a wall of mana is placed before Jorgy. He can tell this isn’t strong enough. Georgius has never witnessed a bullet, nor anything that speed, but he knows what it could do. In the milliseconds of travel time, he reinforces the wall with layer upon layer until the defense is half-a-meter thick. The bullet fractures it still, boring almost all the way through the wall as Georgius begins placing more towards the back.

Centimeters away from Jorgy’s face, the bullet stops. Jorgy uncovers his face to see the wall, just before it shatters. The bullet plops down to the floor before the thief can be spotted scurrying to his horse and riding off.

Heel-toe, Jorgy eyes Georgius, but he’s fallen unconscious and into Mattie’s custody.

Jorgy
After him!
Mattie
No, we have to get Georgius to safety!
Jorgy (slighted)
Georgius? And how do you know him?
Mattie (abrasive)
He saved your life the other week. If not for him, I would’ve certainly trampled you.
Jorgy
I could’ve moved out of the way.
Mattie
You seemed to welcome the hit. Now, come on.
Jorgy
No, I need that treasure. This stranger can wait.
Mattie
This man has now saved your life twice, and you’d rather leave him to die?

Jorgy turns to the direction the thief had gone.

Mattie
We don’t even know where he went. And it’s my horse and my carriage, so what I say goes. We’re taking him to my uncle’s.
Jorgy
The lunatic you’re living with? The one you always complain about?
Mattie
Unfortunately so. He can work wonders.

[Mattie’s home, later in the night: Mattie and Jorgy burst in through the front door with Georgius carried between them, each of his arms over one of their shoulders. Just one look into her uncle’s eyes gets the portly fellow to drop his evening read and motion everyone to the upstairs bathroom.

Once up, the uncle takes custody of Georgius and motions their departure.

Mattie and Jorgy wait in her attic bedroom. As Mattie paces, Jorgy seats himself in a corner, jabbers a bit, and not long after finds himself counting sheep. But Mattie still paces.]

[2AM: Mattie taps her fingers to the clicking of the downstairs grandfather clock. With the gong of a new hour comes creaking from the wood in the hallway. Her uncle heavily hobbles into the doorway and with a glance assures her that he’s awake.

She dashes to the bathroom, almost barging in before her uncle stops her to knock.]

Georgius
Come!

Mattie’s uncle nods and steps away as she enters the room. A bath towel shades Georgius’s whole body, which is hard enough to track as he digs through the room.

Georgius (scouring)
Where is it?
Mattie
Your clothes? They’re in the next room.
Georgius
It – singular. You absolutely have it, and I will give you about 3 seconds to give it to me.
Mattie (moving into the room and earnestly looking under cabinetry)
Me?
Georgius
Yes, give it to me.
Mattie (examining the same section of the toilet as Georgius is fixated on)
I haven’t a clue what “it” is.
Georgius
Now 1 second.

They both stop searching and look dead into each others’ eyes. Georgius holds up one finger, which he closes into his fist. Instantly, she knocks the candle, with its light on the room, onto the floor. He catches it in a bubble of mana, inside which the flame quickly dies without air. He holds the bubble in his hands and gently lays it back on the sink sill.

The door slams shut. He restores light to the room with a small, mystical flame above his open palm. Mattie is nowhere to be found.

Tap.

He spins around to see her face, maybe centimeters apart, with a coin in her hand separating them.

Georgius (clasping the coin, and thus her hand)
Thank you for the hospitality. As soon as I take this, I’ll get out of your hair.

Mattie pulls his and her hand into her hair.

Mattie (bridging the centimeters)
That would defeat the purpose of taking the coin from you.
Georgius
And what of George?
Mattie
Why do you keep calling him George, knowing his name is Ben?
Georgius (eyes as agape as his lips)
I-

In his moment of bewilderment, guard down, she snatches a kiss.

The world stops spinning. Eli, body glitching as it does, departs from Georgius’s form. Aion pops into reality.

Eli
Does she-?

Aion nods.

Eli (clutching his head, stammering)</center> W-we have to go back, to before she noticed.</center>

He shakes his head.

Eli (grating his teeth)
I know you want to act on anonymity, but for the love of- can you just please speak?

Aion produces a menagerie of sparklers out of his violet-tinged mana, with which he writes out the message, “No.”

Eli (breathing in and out louder than he needs to)
Then, can we agree to at least go back?

Aion points to the still-floating sparkling message.

Eli
Won’t this break the timeline?

Aion shakes his head.

Eli (trailing off into sarcasm)
What- what do you mean?! Did this already happen? Did we already do this?

Aion nods.

Eli
So, what then? This happens, and everything else goes as planned?

Aion, again, nods.

Eli
So instead of-

Aion nods.

Eli
I-

Aion puts a finger up to stop Eli, then shoves him into the still-kissing Georgius and disappears as time carries on.

Mattie pulls away from him, releasing the coin to his custody.

Mattie
I’m sure you’ve had time to discuss, Eli. Now, play along.
[END OF PART]

Part VII

[A stunned Georgius. Within, Eli understands his cover’s been blown. Mattie wraps her arm around him and walks to the bedroom, where Jorgy is at this point snoring.]

Mattie
Aww, I take it you’ve had him out all day. He’s tuckered out, like a child.

Eli, in Georgius’s body, stands there, scratching at his neck. She walks over to and circles him, causing him to sweat.

Mattie
Believe it or not, I was a child once. Innocent, simple. Well, maybe not innocent. But at the end of the day, a long trip or what have you, I was simple just like him. Ready to go to bed.

She steps over to a small picture frame. On it, a sharply-mustached man of no more than 30 hugs his darling daughter, her one-eyed teddy bear in hand.

Mattie
Believe it or not, I need sleep, too. And those trips – to Westminster, avec Papa – they were like nothing else.

Georgius swallows.

Georgius
If you’re going to kill me-
Mattie
You’re not even listening.

She shifts over to Jorgy, frame still in hand.

Mattie
When it was late-
Georgius
Don’t wake him.

Mattie claps her hands loudly adjacent Jorgy, pushes his shoulders, and even jostles him.

Mattie
Look at that: a heavy sleeper. I was, too. I’d always wake up in my bed, wondering what fairy took me from the carriage and tucked me in. It wasn’t until that stopped happening, when I was older, that Papa told me it was him. Of course it was, you know?

Kneeling, she lays her head on Jorgy’s shoulder. She taps her fingers to the beat of his heart then stands up.

Mattie
Ahem.

Georgius follows. He steps up to Jorgy, and in front of him, draws open a portal. On the other side is a bed. Georgius picks Jorgy up and lays him in that bed then walks back through the rift, shutting it.

Mattie
He’ll wonder, too.

She marches over to Georgius, who backpedals a bit. A quick skip closes the gap, Mattie dropping into a hug with him and gazing straight at him.

Mattie
What do you say?
Georgius
I don’t-
Mattie
Before you answer, remember to follow the script.

Georgius swallows.

[The next morning: something shakes the bedroom. Mattie, laying in bed, groans and turns over, staring up to the ceiling. Every couple of seconds, a scratching sound comes from the window. She sits up straight and sees the very top edge of something wooden out the window. She gasps and shakes the other in the bed.]

Mattie (groggily)
Wake up, we have a problem.
Georgius
Five more minutes-
Mattie
Eli, he’s going to find us.

Georgius sits up to the next sound of scratching.

Georgius
What is that?
Mattie
He’s climbing the side of the house.
Georgius
With what, a ladder?

Mattie stays mum.

Georgius
He actually has a ladder, okay.

Outside, Jorgy marches up the ladder, with a double-barreled shotgun strapped across his back.

Mattie
Yes, now before he catches us and Jorgy throws a fit-

Georgius swings his hand, slamming with it the window.

The scratching continues, one scratch every time the ladder shakes from Jorgy moving up a step.

Mattie
He’s still coming!

Georgius closes his eyes and pumps his two fists in front of him. Shutting his eyes, he conjures a spell that completely hides the window, blending it into the wooden structure of the attic just before Jorgy reaches it.

Perplexed, Jorgy slides down the ladder and knocks on the front door.

Mattie
You know, you really got him into the role. He’s a natural. Now, stay here.
Georgius
What’s the point of hiding this from him?
Mattie
When you leave, and the bodies you’ve been holding go back to the minds they belong to, they’re going to remember all this as being what they did. So I can’t let Jorgy find out about you and I, and that means Ben, too.

The knocking escalates to furious banging.

[Downstairs, minutes later: Mattie flings the door open, Jorgy still banging at nothing for a moment after.]

Jorgy
What in the world are you wearing?
Mattie (wrapped in a robe of her white bedspread)
The quickest thing I could throw on. I was sleeping, you know.
Jorgy
You were probably sleeping with the bastard, weren’t you?
Mattie
Excuse me?
Jorgy (holding his hand on his shoulder, just next to the handle of his shotgun)
Where is he?
Mattie
Where is who?

Jorgy shoves past her, tearing his weapon from his back and stomping up the stairs. One extra flight of flimsy stairs up, he bashes into the attic bedroom aiming in. Mattie comes strolling up behind him, who’s puzzled by the return of the wide-open window and the loneliness of the room – not a body in sight.

Mattie (pushing the gun down)
If he was in here, what were you planning on doing with that?
Jorgy (sniffling through the dust in the room, putting his head down)
I…

He shakes his head, stands up straight and eyes her.

Jorgy
I’m not crazy. The window shut, and then it disappeared. Only one person could do that.
Mattie
Jorgy, this is an old room – you can tell by all the dust. I honestly think it’s best if you go—

Achoo, from a different voice than theirs.

Jorgy readies his weapon again.

Jorgy (smugly)
Tell me – how did I go from here to my bed last night?
Mattie
George, out of the goodness of his heart, lifted you down to the cart and drove you home. You slept like a child right through it.
Jorgy
Why didn’t you just let me sleep here?
Mattie
I-

Achoo!

Jorgy leaps over to a corner of the room.

Mattie
Can you quit with that?
Jorgy
You didn’t answer the question.
Mattie
You didn’t put the gun down.

Jorgy closes in on that corner and stands.

Mattie
Stop-
Jorgy
Shh.

He leans in and cups his hear.

Jorgy
You can hear the breathing.

He clicks the handle, Mattie falling onto him to knock them both to the floor.

They look up. Holes in the wooden floor are visible, as well as a few shells. A glistening wall, like the same used to block the fire from the derringer’s thief only completely unscathed, has also been erected. The wall blinks away, with Georgius appearing as he peels his cloak off.

Jorgy
Get off of me.
Mattie
Jorgy-

He picks himself up, mounting the shotgun on his back, and dusting his shirt off.

Georgius (desperate, wrapped in another white bedspread with the cloak over his back)
I can explain.
Jorgy
I don’t want to hear it.

He walks to the window and looks out to his ladder.

Mattie
Jorgy, where are you going?
Jorgy (touching the shotgun handle over his shoulder)
Do you know why I brought this?
Mattie
Because, apparently, you didn’t trust me.
Jorgy (a guffaw bursting out)
That would’ve been smart of me, but nope. I trusted you far too well. I came here to take you with me to try and find the guy who took my other gun, but thank you for thinking of just yourself.

He steps out of the window and onto the top rung of the ladder, staring to Mattie.

Jorgy
I guess, deep down, I thought there was a 5% chance I might need it for something else.

He leaves sight, climbing down once more.

Mattie (dashing to the window)
I have to stop him, before he does something stupid.

Before she climbs out, he runs over and takes her wrist.

Georgius
You’re indecent.
Mattie
We can’t just- Wait, when did you get dressed?!

She analyzes him. He’s now wearing all-white garbs.

Georgius
You seem to know everything, why are you asking?
Mattie (climbing out the window)
You can lose the attitude, you know.
Georgius
Wait-

Mattie grins. She re-enters the room, where Georgius uses a spell first that clings her bedspread around her tightly, then another to straighten the wrinkled and overflowing pieces out, and finally a pair of magical scissors to cut the excess and form-fit every piece. The end-result: a top, mostly hidden under overalls made of the same wool even sporting some false, sewn-in rivets.

Mattie
Who needs a mill when we have you?
Georgius (flatly)
The color doesn’t suit you.
Mattie
Aw, but the white makes me look like an angel.
Georgius
Precisely why it doesn’t suit you.
Mattie
Ouch.

She gazes out the window.

Mattie
Do you know which way he went?
Georgius (grabbing a shell off the floor and shutting his glowing eyes)
Yes.

They rush down the ladder and detach their carriage from their horse and speed off, Mattie driving and Georgius keeping a tight grip on the shell.

[Ten minutes later: They have been chasing Jorgy for close to five, but there’s simply no way to catch up. Their extra weight, combined with Jorgy’s all-around more agile steed, is holding them back.]

Mattie
Jorgy! Slow down!
Jorgy
Go back to England!

Intense winds began to shake up both parties. They can barely hold onto their rides, let alone keep steering straight. In the midst of an open field, Jorgy’s horse kicks up on its hind legs, dropping Jorgy off. It runs off, leaving Mattie and Georgius to catch up to him, lest they fall off at high speeds and injure themselves. The loud and powerful winds keep billowing, however.

Mattie (shouting over the gusts)
Jorgy-
Jorgy (shouting as well)
I can’t hear you!
Georgius
Not sure if he means that-

The winds fade as abruptly as they came.

Mattie and Georgius taking advantage of this time to run up to his side and helping him up.

Georgius
What happened was inappropriate-

Jorgy again slides the weapon off his back and directs it at them, dashing over to steal their horse. Georgius’s eyes and hands taking on a bright magenta glow in response.

Time stops, excluding Georgius and Jorgy. Ben stretches his neck.

Eli/Georgius
I don’t have long, but she knows.
Ben/Jorgy
What?
Eli
She. Knows. About you, about me, somehow even Aion.
Ben
But how?
Eli
I don’t know. Just continue to act naturally, but keep your guard up.
Ben
You guys know that for all the acting I’m doing here, I have no idea how to aim this thing?
Eli
You might have to learn.

Time keeps ticking.

Jorgy/Ben (mounting up on their horse, and drawing his weapon on them)
I don’t want your apology, now back off.

Georgius, with Mattie behind her, backpedals a little away from the horse.

Jorgy
I don’t know how you found me, but don’t find me a-

Georgius and Mattie both slip, landing, as if there had been a playground slide behind them, at an incline. As they get up, they find nothing there.

Atop the incline, perhaps fifteen feet in the air, a gateway peers open. Blinding lights gape through until they fade, turning into a regular doorway into an irregular interior. Standing at the door is a turquoise humanoid, in head-to-toe dated Plumber garb – a bulkier, navy blue variant of the shielding Earth’s astronauts would employ close to a century later.

The woman walks out, with each footstep, lighting up a step on the invisible pathway up to the door. Jorgy cocks his weapon at her, and Georgius keeps his glowing guard up. She proceeds down to them.

Turquoise Humanoid (face evoking Indian features, hair replaced by four tendrils, two at each temple)
Earth people, we are here to grace you with an offer.
Mattie (whispering)
“Earth people”… is she saying she’s not?
Georgius (matching her volume)
Look at her; could you tell me she is?
Jorgy
We don’t want what you’re selling. Now go back to where you came from.
Turquoise Humanoid
We would love to go back, but something was stolen from us and we want it back.

She turns to Georgius, as do Jorgy and Mattie.

Mattie
What did you do?
Turquoise Humanoid
We’ve been tracking him, ever since he stole one of our Any Cloaks from a trusted scout.
Jorgy
Thievery, seems par for the course for this man. I’m sure he’ll be glad to return it to you.
Georgius
Excuse me, but this cloak was dropped by someone- maybe it was one of your people, your “scout”- because he got dangerously close to my friend here. I was keeping him safe.
Jorgy
I am not your friend.
Turquoise Humanoid
I truly won’t stand for this foolishness. Relinquish the Cloak.
Mattie
Why is it so important to you?
Turquoise Humanoid
Excuse me? Learn a little thing about property- it’s ours, so its importance doesn’t matter.
Mattie
But you said you came with an offer. Tell us what we get out of giving it back since it apparently is important.
Turquoise Humanoid (the tendrils dangling at the sides of her head flaring up like nostrils)
You can’t be serious.
Mattie
Try me.

The woman taps a button on her shoulder. Out from the gateway comes another being, a Galvan who takes a minute working his way down to everybody. The woman raises him onto her shoulder.

Galvan (clearing his throat, reading from a solid hologram tablet at his nasally, high pitch)
“People of Earth. From our scouting, the Philanthropic, Liberty-Upholding, Municipality-Bolstering, Intergalactic Nonaggression Group has determined that Humans are ostensibly an intelligent species and deserve recognition in the form of a membership with our Group. Please deliver to powerful hands such that we may proceed.”
Jorgy
And what do we get out of this?
Turquoise Humanoid (stammering)
I-
Galvan
I’m sorry, was that too high-level? I can use the more primitive speech-
Jorgy
No, we got it. But it sounds like you get some magical cloak that can turn people invisible, apparently, and we get… I don’t even know what you’re offering, peace with peoples we’ve never had an issue with before? We get nothing.
Galvan
The Magistrata and the Council do not pick your planet lightly. Now, if you will, I suggest you bring this up with someone that matters.
Jorgy
One of this world’s greatest leaders was assassinated by an insane man. I have – well, had – in my possession the very weapon he used, because I have friends that matter. And thus, I matter.

The turquoise woman, the Magistrata, and the Galvan eye each other.

Magistrata/Turquoise Humanoid
On second thought-
Galvan
Magistrata, think carefully.
Magistrata
I decide who goes. And on second thought, Humans shall not. I’m rescinding the offer.
Jorgy
And?
Magistrata (flustered, almost lunging at Jorgy)
You ungrateful little-
Georgius (separating the two with hands alight)
Okay, let’s simmer down here. Miss, err, Magistrata, was it? We’ll take your offer and pass it up the food chain.
Magistrata (gritting her teeth)
The offer is rescinded. And “Magistrata” is plenty.
Galvan
Magistrata-
Georgius
George, in his current state, is the wrong man to base your decision on.
Magistrata
This “George” is but a portrait of the rest of this planet – weapons pointed at each other over petty squabbles, threatening the end of life because you haven’t the capacity for speech. That’s why he’s still pointing that toy at me.
Jorgy
Toy?
Georgius
Please, I have roamed the roads of this world for what must be fifteen centuries now. I cannot begin to tell you how beneficial it would be to have someone – some organization – here to keep George’s family safe. And of course, all other families.
Magistrata (musing)
Hm…
Georgius
We can prove ourselves. Your organization – focused on “nonaggression” – it acts a policing body, I’m sure.
Magistrata
Correct…
Georgius
We have a problem. Last night, we ran into a being who stole our weapon-
Jorgy
My weapon.
Georgius (sighing)
Yes… and I took something from him, to trace him down.

He opens his hand, dropping the munition casings from Jorgy’s shotgun but keeping a couple scraggly brown hairs in hand.

Georgius
Do you know about magic?
Galvan
Other than the fact that it’s an affront to actual technology? Not much.
Georgius
It will allow me to find anyone – it helped me find George here – as long as I have something with just a smidgeon of their essence left on them. These hairs are from the man that took his weapon, and I just can’t trace him for the life of me.
Galvan
So?
Georgius
I have lived for over 15 centuries, perhaps longer than either of you, and I have never seen this before. I have fought actual <center>extradimensional heathens and met a hand-sized hamster creature like yourself. But never this.
Galvan (raising a brow)
“Hamster”…?
Magistrata
So, you want our help?
Georgius
None at all. We will apprehend this man, whatever or whoever he is, and show you that humans are worth it. You know we are, or you wouldn’t have come with an offer.

The Magistrata turns to her Galvan companion and murmurs something.

Magistrata (to Jorgy)
I saw you lost your house, one called “George.”
Jorgy
Excuse me?
Magistrata
The thing you’re riding there: your “house.”
Jorgy
You mean “horse?”
Magistrata
Ah, that would make more sense. Yes, “horse.” Take this please.

She whispers something to the Galvan, who with the press of a button, spawns a horse clad in chainmail armor.

Magistrata
Viper: this one has been through harsh battles. She has been my personal favorite for some time, but she can be yours. Perhaps it will help you in your quest to reclaim what’s been pilfered.
Georgius
If we succeed, we’ll owe you everything.
Jorgy
I don’t know about—

Georgius slaps tape, made of mana, over Jorgy’s mouth.

Magistrata (staring sharply into Jorgy’s mouth, approaching him and grinning)
You will owe us two things: speaking to your leaders about our offer, and this one’s allegiance to our organization.

Jorgy screams, muffled by the tape.

Magistrata (leaning into Jorgy’s face with her stomach to his shotgun)
How say you?

Georgius eyes Jorgy, then relieves the mouth covering.

Jorgy (pointing his weapon to the ground, curiously)
Just mine? Not hers, and not his?
Magistrata
Yes, just you.
Jorgy
Do I get to leave, to go see the stars?
Magistrata
That will be for us to decide. There will be frequent travel around this world, though.
Jorgy
Anything to get away from them.

Mattie sighs to the insult, as Jorgy takes the Magistrata’s hand and they shake, the towering turquoise figure shuddering at this confusing gesture.

Galvan
It’s a handshake, some physical assurance. They do that here.
Magistrata (observing her hand, sniffing it like it had just wallowed in a dump)
I see.
Georgius
We have a deal, then.

[Fifteen minutes later, the two Plumbers return to their ship and the door shuts. By the intense winds, they’d clearly taken off once more, none the wiser to the invisible otherworldly presence.

Jorgy mounts Viper, and before Mattie and Georgius can even reach theirs, he’s gone. Georgius grabs the dropped casings again, and the two take off in his direction.]

[That night, at the pub: Jorgy strolls into the pub and slumps into a seat with his mates.]

Jorgy’s Mate #3
Lordy, if it ain’t Jorgy. ‘Ere to show off the pistol again?
Jorgy (arms crossed)
Mike, can you can it?
Mike/Jorgy’s Mate #3
Why th’ long face? Lady troubles?
Jorgy
Somebody stole my gun.
Mike (nudging his elbow into Jorgy, eyeing the others at the table)
More li’ somebody stole it back, am I right?

Jorgy shakes his head and sweeps himself off the table. With intent to storm off, he spies the stage, where staff are setting up for the show. One of the people seated closest to the stage is Georgius. For once, he’s well-kempt – hair trimmed well, and the white makeshift outfit from earlier is now complemented by a belt, an array of buttons, and a medal of dubious worth. Mattie arrives and Georgius embraces her.

Infuriated by this innocent display, he steps off to the other side of the room, well out of view of their table, at a counter with other folks alone tonight. Also present: a man wiping down glasses, who asks if Jorgy wants anything. He shrugs and waves him off.

Male Voice
You here for the show, friend?

He turns to the person seated next to him, a man draped in a pirate’s façade, from skull-and-crossbones tricorn to a peg leg, which may or may not serve as an actual prosthetic.

Jorgy
Not particularly. Someone ruined it for me.
Male Voice (taking a swig of a simple glass of water)
Preaching to the choir. I was so proud of it at first, but what it became is abominable.
Jorgy
“At first?” You wouldn’t happen to be the writer Barry Reuter?
Male Voice (extending a hand)
Surprised to see my reputation precede me.
Jorgy (returning the gesture)
Well I know Matilda. The name’s George.
Barry Reuter/Male Voice (so alight that his yellow teeth glisten)
Oh, you’re the Georgius she’s been raving about!

Jorgy balls his hands into fists and holds a low growl.

Barry
Friend?

Jorgy picks Barry up by his shirt. Inches apart, he notes a strange texture to his skin.

At this point, Mattie steps away from Georgius, who peers over to his protectee: Jorgy. His eyes flash magenta for a quick moment, reading the mana signature on Barry.

Georgius (muttering to himself)
He has none…

The candle lights across the room with one flourish go off, except for those keeping attention on the stage. Everyone attending claps, thinking this marvel worth it. Georgius is forced to knock out his glowing eyes, raising too much attention in this darkness.

Booming Voice
Presenting Barry Reuter’s “Forever Pirates!”

Curtains reel back to unveil Mattie, atop a well-built ship prop on a painted sea backdrop.

Meanwhile, Georgius tries to glance Barry and Jorgy, but he can neither see them nor try to track their movements without his eyes glowing.

He gets out of his seat and marches to the door, but there stands Jorgy, with an arm wrapped about his neck. Georgius follows the arm to the body of Barry, whose other hand is on the derringer held to Jorgy’s temple.

Barry
Were you trying to go outside? Sorry, exit’s blocked.

Georgius clenches his fist, Barry clicking the hammer on the back of the derringer.

Barry
Why don’t you use your tricks again, friend?

Jorgy’s eyes, ostensibly Ben’s, are gaping, pointed left towards the weapon just out of his periphery.

Barry begins to shove forward toward the stage, with Georgius in front and unable to raise a finger. They all shove onto the ship. The audience gasps at the weapon, with scattered clapping believing it to be just a very realistic recreation.

Mattie (in character)
Why, what do we have here?
Barry (in character)
Pirates from another band, Captain.
Mattie
They threaten an insurrection. We can’t be having that.
Barry
Shall we toss them overboard?
Mattie
I have a better idea.

The curtains shut swiftly.

Jorgy
Matilda, what’s going on?
Mattie
You know, I don’t like that name. “Matilda.” Boring.
Georgius
Mattie, why have you done all this?
Mattie
There are two sides to every coin; can’t you see?

The backdrop fades into reality, and the drawn rear of the ship becomes reality, combining with the prop to produce a true pirate’s vessel.

Mattie
It’s an invitation to the Gynurans.

Georgius and Jorgy eye each other.

Jorgy
What are the Gynur-
Mattie
Ben, you can stop acting for a moment. As a matter of fact…

Her eyes and hands come alight – magenta just like Georgius as the planks making up the ship are partly used in covering Jorgy’s entire body. More planks so fly through the curtain ahead.

Jorgy (dazed)
That’s how you know we’re from the future…
Mattie
You wondered why you couldn’t sense Barry’s mana?

Barry shakes his hat off, revealing skin with the swirling grooves of tree bark, as Jorgy keeps getting covered up.

Georgius
Stop this, now, Mattie.
Mattie (magenta eyes converting to sanguine flames)
I don’t like that name either.
Georgius
Then what?
Mattie
My kind has been dying out, but not the privates on my ship! They’ve always called me Jolly Roger, captain of this ship and the Gynurans.
Georgius
You use that name in vain! A woman died for the Gynurans’ cause. You have pilfered, at the very least this infamous weapon, and <center>so you will forever be no more than pirates.
Jolly Roger/Mattie (chuckling)
I like that. Barry, you were onto something with the title – “Forever Pirates.”

Georgius’s eyes and hands flare up.

Georgius
Release this innocent man and release Jorgy.
Jolly Roger
Ben, you mean? He’s gone.

Georgius lunges at the so-called Jolly Roger, the curtains immediately flipping open. The whole room is plated in the woodwork of Mattie’s ship, all of them standing and idly staring at Georgius.

Jolly Roger
As are they; just look how many of them accepted the invitation.
Georgius (eyes flaring as JR’s did)
Alright, I’ve had enough.

He encases the four of them in a box, separating Jorgy from Barry in the meantime, and then teleports the four of them back to the site of the Magistrata’s ship. All the while “Jolly Roger” remains perfectly still, if anything checking the status of her nails.

Georgius (shouting, weakly)
Magistrata, open up!

Georgius falls onto one knee.

Jolly Roger (casually examining her hands, scratching some crumb off)
You really used your whole bank on a teleportation spell, on turning me in?
Georgius (panting)
You… better believe it. You will see justice, if not for your brainwashing then… then your besmirching the Gynuran name.
Jolly Roger
I don’t think I will see anything.

The bright ship door opens, the rest of it invisible as always. The Magistrata steps out in some form of alien night gown.

Magistrata (eyeing Barry, still holding up the derringer)
Ah, I see your mission was a success.
Jolly Roger (whispering to Georgius)
If you tell her it was me, then I’ll keep Ben trapped here for the rest of my time.
Georgius
You’re bluffing.

Time pauses. Eli is able to move freely but as he approaches Jorgy, Ben doesn’t so much as blink. His body isn’t even visible. Continue.

Jolly Roger
Was I, really?

The Magistrata takes tired, heavy steps down toward Jorgy.

Jolly Roger
Pin this on Barry, and you stay here with me for the rest of my time. You’re all I really want, Eli, just from the knowledge you possess – well, you, and of course all the riches on this accursed planet.
Georgius
So why the games with George?
Jolly Roger
He’s fun to have around. I am mildly indecisive.

The Magistrata taps Jorgy’s wooden form and gasps.

Jolly Roger
Tell her who did it.
Georgius
How would you know if I didn’t leave, and this was just Georgius speaking?
Jolly Roger
Because I can sense it. Every time you step away – every interval you skip because the scene’s not relevant – your signature changes, and I know that it’s just Georgius and Jorgy.

Beneath the façade of Georgius, Eli swallows.

Georgius
The mission was a success, Magistrata. This man, Barry Reuter is responsible for diminishing George to a tree, and further, stealing his weapon.
Magistrata
Understand that we will do everything in our power to get him back to n-

At once, Jolly Roger’s eyes glow, and Jorgy’s wooden plating falls off. The Magistrata misses this, still just eyeing JR.

Magistrata
Marvelous. So we will simply take this criminal. Georgius, keep the cloak as a gift. And George, you will carry out our wishes to your leaders?
Jorgy (flummoxed and disoriented, looking every which way)
Um, sure. Did we win?

Georgius walks over and pats Jorgy on the shoulder, as the Magistrata energy-cuffs Barry Reuter and escorts his unflinching body up into the ship.

Jorgy
But why is she-?

Georgius shakes his head and begins to walk off.

Jorgy
Where are you going?
Georgius
Matilda—
Jolly Roger
“JR” is fine.
Georgius
--JR seems to be fully capable of occupying my space. She can both keep you out of danger and somehow get you into the most life-threatening situations. There’s no need for two of those incendiary people in your life.
Jorgy
I haven’t forgiven her.
Georgius
I don’t think you ever will.
Jorgy
Where will you go?

He merely bats his eyes before heading off.

Time stops. A picture frame gapes open with Aion standing adjacent. Ben walks toward it, but notices Eli staying behind. He waves them off, as Aion pushes Ben in and follows.

[House of Uncommons: a sprawling little chapel room, fitted with hallmark stained glass art of those who sacrificed and saved long ago. The frame Aion and Ben fall out of is mounted over a window, where it couldn’t otherwise go. By the time they’re out, it’s solid again: a painting of Eli’s Georgius walking away.]

Ben
We have to go back in for him.

Aion shakes his head and points. The painting has changed now to Jorgy and Mattie’s ceremonious matrimony.

Ben
I- What? I know you don’t think I did, but I heard their deal; she said he had to stay with her.

Again, the time traveler shakes. Now the painting depicts Aion, a year on, arriving at Mattie’s door.

Ben
I don’t get it.

Eli comes barreling out of the photo.

A third time, the painting changes: a family painting this time, of Jorgy standing over a seated Mattie, with a toddler in hand. To their sides are four other children, all with Jorgy’s hallmark brown cowlick. Just one of them – the toddler – is covered by a single blonde lock.

Ben
No…

Eli recuperates, standing up and watching, as it changes once more. Mattie is consoled by Jorgy, a decade on, with their nine-year-old, full-headed blonde son standing there in his little suit and bowtie. They stand before a mass tombstone with four illegible names.

Eli (cupping Ben’s shoulder)
Yes.
Ben
You said you’re Georgius’s descendant?
Eli
His grandson’s great-grandson.

Ben shakes his head and looks down to the ground.

Eli
She literally had a claim on my whole life, but after ten years, she realized how much damage I had done… and let me go. And in case you don’t believe me…

Eli glances to Aion. The three are whisked into a frame that takes them back to the moment the Magistrata gifted Viper to Jorgy, but time remains halted. On Eli’s, Ben’s, Georgius’s, Jorgy’s, and Mattie’s bodies, strange glyphs, all glowing pink, manifest.

Eli
These are family signatures. Notice how similar ours are to them, but not George the younger. These are the signatures magic users see when tracking people.

He pulls Booth’s derringer out from his pocket.

Eli
You left this behind, by the way.

He nods to Aion, who bends his hands to revert the derringer to the human form of Paradox, who is quick to stretch.

Eli
Tell me, Paradox, am I wrong?

Paradox stops and simply eyes Eli, then Ben again.

Ben (traumatized)
You lost me.
Eli
I thought I was very clear; the signatures-
Ben
No, the story: what was the point of all that? You told me that apparently all of the real, blood Tennysons are gone, but you never said what the Plumbers did wrong. You just said what my grandmother’s great-grandmother did wrong.
Eli
Well, I’m glad you asked – and right on time.
Ben
Don’t act like you knew any of this would happen.
Eli
I will admit that last tale got out of hand, yes. But you still needed to ask that question. That’s why we’re here again.

He walks over to Viper, on which Jorgy’s perched.

Eli
Why would the Magistrata, a being from a totally distant alien planet, have a horse?
Ben
I- I- Are you really asking me this?
Eli
I’m posing the question of why.
Ben
Who cares why? I didn’t. I don’t.
Eli
That was her goal. George didn’t know until much later, but Sir George and Matilda knew.
Ben
I feel like you’re talking about two things here.

Eli grins. He then tears an unseen Any Cloak off of the horse, unveiling a Vulpimancer, clad in pitch black high-tech armor.

Eli
A Vulpimancer: the key to the Plumbers’ early success. With planets like ours, they came scouting and found that we spoke a comprehensible language. They learned it in time to greet us. Very rarely do they find a difficult language, and by this point in time, that Galvan by her side – for the life of me, I have no idea what his name is so don’t ask – was so clever that he was able to gather it so very swiftly.
Ben
Okay so what you’re telling me is they didn’t get the Vulpimancers’ language. So what?
Eli
So that means they didn’t try to establish peace with them. Instead, they saw them as quick, agile wolves they could ride into battle. Because they could never gather their language, they saw them as animals making sounds and like animals, they used Vulpimancers as resources. They would essentially cattle-prod the Vulpins into subsistence, and Viper was willing to give in. She was lucky to survive, but the rest? They died for nothing, not even wanting to fight. The Plumbers only realized they were an intelligent species about twenty years ago, when a Galvan finally decoded a part of their language, and realized that they had technology well-hidden on their world almost as advanced as Galvan of the time.
Ben
But they stopped.
Eli
They stopped recently, by force, and never apologized. There are countless Vulpimancers in the Null Void, liveliness lost, trapped with monsters like Havok Beasts and the Guardians. They still haven’t even bothered to learn the full language, in case you ever wondered why your transformation doesn’t get translated like the rest.

Ben swallows.

Eli
You can tell Matilda was one of Ying’s descendants, by the way she splintered off. The Plumbers went and wreaked havoc for centuries on an entire civilization with no recourse, no justice sought. The Magistrata’s people have a superpower: it’s enhanced bureaucracy. They love to dot their I's and cross their T’s, and they’re quick to do it, but they won’t lift a finger to acknowledge a massive mistake. So to say you won’t join us just because unofficial factions tainting the Forever Knight vision have in the past several years done some wrong… is hypocritical, now that you know what your group has done. I’m willing to rename. I’m willing to be the Second Gynurans. Just be our King, Ben. For George Tennyson, for Heng, for Gynura, for Decimus.

Ben is silent. The room around them becomes pitch black.

[When the lights flicker back on, they’re in Mr. Hook’s Candy Emporium.]

Ben
I need time to think.
Eli
When next your team needs help, know that we’ll be there.

Ben nods. The lights flicker off.

[Bellwood High Auditorium: Ben steps in and reclaims his seat by the Kennedy sisters.]

Kai
Where have you been? You missed a good ten minutes.
Ben
10 minutes? Feels like it’s been centuries.
Kai
Ben, you look weird. Are you okay?
Ben
I’m fine. I just got a crazy offer.
Kai
Oh?
Ben
Yeah, and I think I might take it.

[A cantina deep in the cosmos, surrounded by no local sun, planet, or satellite in this pitch black abyss. The sign on it is a horizontal, boxed-in “Space” styled like a keyboard’s space bar – if not, completely because the place’s full name is “The Space Bar.”

Inside is the familiar site that Kevin and Gwen have been to countless times before. Even now, Kevin is seated at the bar with a green slimy drink in a looping and spinning container. A familiar man takes his side, purple-lipped and otherwise gilded in knight’s armor.]

Barkeep (an overweight, blue-skinned being with two heads and many green warts covered by an ill-fitting white tee)
Splatter for the creepy guy.

He slides it over to the time-traveling knight.

Kevin (happier than most have ever seen him)
Hey, aren’t you a Forever Knight?

Aion shrugs.

Kevin
You don’t even care. Just like me.

Aion points to the half-empty Splatter container in Kevin’s hand.

Kevin
Hey, man, everyone’s legal in space.

He toasts with Aion without any permission, almost knocking the knight’s drink over.

Instead of anger, though, he merely chuckles and toasts Kevin back.

[END OF EPISODE]

Synopsis

A new age of Forever Knights arrives in Bellwood.

Major Events

  • The new Forever Knights, consisting of Eli and Aion, debut and explore Sir George's and Tennyson family history.
    • Ben is revealed to be a descendent of Sir George, Eli a distant cousin, and the actual Tennyson lineage cut off several generations ago.
    • The Forever Knights form the new Second Gynurans and set up shop in Bellwood.
    • How splinter factions of the Forever Knights began is shown, starting with Ying's branch.
  • The origin of the Plumbers on Earth is detailed, including its dark past with the Vulpimancers.

Minor Events

  • The name of Streak's species is revealed to be the Marid, a concoction of the Diagon. It's not revealed how a variant hails from the Null Void world of Amevo.
  • Kevin meets Aion.

Assault Omnitrix Debuts

Characters

Flashback Characters

  • Georgius (all) (Eli)

Decimus

  • Decimus (Ben)
  • Doormaker

Gynura

  • Gynura (Ben)
  • Sixun
  • Jin
  • Heng (young)
  • Diagon
    • Ying (brainwashed)
    • General Fei (brainwashed)
    • Doormaker
    • Lucubra

Heng

  • Gynurans
    • Heng (Ben)
    • Ying
  • Fergus
  • Aengus
  • Girl

Jorgy

  • George "Jorgy" Tennyson (Ben)
  • Forever Pirates
    • Matilda "Jolly Roger" Tennyson
    • Barry Reuter
    • Matilda's uncle
  • P.L.U.M.B.I.N.G.
    • Magistrata
    • Galvan (unnamed)
  • Jorgy's Mates
    • Mike

Aliens Used (by Ben)

Allusions

  • All of George Tennyson's bloodborn children passing away at varying points in their early life, from weakness or natural causes, is like the fate of Abraham Lincoln's kids, though George's name is survived by the one-off child of Georgius and Matilda.

Trivia

  • Foreverlasting is the first episode after a five-year hiatus.
  • Kira's acting was first mentioned in Meet the Replacements.

Differences from the original

  • Though the original returned to the part-by-part release cycle employed prior to Madame Regle, the re-release continued the full-episode releases.
  • Decimus's original story was referenced heavily, suggesting the events were the same.
  • Gynura's story remained nominally the same on the surface, with the events compressed into a shorter in-universe time span.
  • General Fei's name is never explicitly stated but he is credited under his original name.
Back in Action: Alien Universe --COLOR (TCF)
Episode Guide
Season 1
Infernosphere - Limited - Magikfest - No Strings Attached - The Sea's the Limit - Hit and Miss - Dial Z for Zombified - Ten Plus Twenty - Happily Never Happened - Missing Link - New Girl - Revelation - Man in the Stone Mirror - Threat or Menace - The Alternative - Why Am I Here? - Love Stuck - Ultimate Solution - Overcoming Adversaries - Ledger Recon - Welcome to Chronospect - Prelude of the Unleashed - Ben 10: Alien Universe Unleashed
Season 2
Meet the Replacements - Hooking Up With the K's - The Armaggedroid - Fate of the Helpers - Madame Regle - Leaked - Shades of Dawn - Foreverlasting
Aliens
Canon Aliens
Original Series
Heatblast - Wildmutt - Diamondhead - XLR8 - Four Arms - Stinkfly - Ghostfreak - Ripjaws - Upgrade - Grey Matter - Cannonbolt - Wildvine - Benwolf - Benmummy - Benvicktor - Way Big - Upchuck - Eye Guy - Ditto - Buzzshock - Spitter - Articguana
Alien Force
Swampfire - Echo Echo - Humungousaur - Jetray - Big Chill - Chromastone - Brainstorm - Spidermonkey - Goop - Alien X - Rath - Lodestar
Ultimate Alien
Water Hazard - Terraspin - NRG - Forge (Armodrillo) - AmpFibian - Clockwork - Fasttrack - Jury Rigg - ChamAlien - Eatle - Shocksquatch
Omniverse (regrettably)
Feedback - Bloxx - Gravattack - Crashhopper - Ball Weevil - Walkatrout - Pesky Dust - Molestache - The Worst - Kickin Hawk - Toepick - Astrodactyl - Bullfrag - Radius - Gutrot - Whampire
Ultimate Forms
Swampfire - Spidermonkey - Big Chill - Humungousaur - Cannonbolt - Echo Echo - Wildmutt - Way Big - Grey Matter - Articguana - Gravattack - Jetray - Benmummy - Upchuck
Unique Aliens
Season 1 Additionals
Obsorber - Nigester - Plastikitee - Anos - Streak - Bugbite - Muckslide - Autosassin - Boomchomp - Abstallion
Season 2 Originals
Alkamine - Brawnoceros - Combustiball - Cardstruct - Dreadsense - Frisbit - Plasmodic - Seismix - Wavelength
Season 2 Additionals
Other
Atomhammer - Hindsight - Starhavoc

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