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Duplex Tribulatio
Season 1, Chapter 2
Written by ShadowFire10
Episode Guide
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Hollow Striving
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Realm Between Realms

Plot

The midnight four fast approached and the holographic mirrors that spread artificial daylight had faded into black with small sparks of silver spread chaotically across the mirrors. Those artificial projections of the distant stars bore no life, no hope. But inside the dome, the nightside was is an infinite lattice of shining hairlines and neon lights. From the streets far below, it might have been beautiful.

Far above the crowded streets of Chithotis 4Y shadowy figures ran across the high rooftops of the city. Hiding from the brilliant lights, running in the shadow of the night like their lives depended on it. Who knew, maybe it did. They were all aware of what they were going to do. They were going to light up a spark, a small so small that it would remain unseen and unheard for the rest of the Galaxy. A young flame that would turn into a wild blaze and engulf them all. Did they have any doubts? Probably, but nobody said a thing.

They were all just bees, following the orders of their queen, smocking out the invaders that came to their beehive. They had stirred up the hornets' nest, killed their brothers on Sheraka and now the pendulum was turning back.

The air stank of sweat, stale, and fear, and the throat-rasping smell of recharged plasma rifles. But their steps were so silent that if Evan hadn’t known better, he would have believed that those men next to him were elite SpecOps and not a bunch of farmers hastily armed with whatever outdated tech they had collected for self-defense.

The large white ship they were tracing came into view. Evan instinctively raised his hand, the same way he had watched Red Leader signalize to his men during a training exercise. The men behind him stopped, their eyes wide with shock and the fear of discovery.

On Bay 475 a lone Zaroffian was waiting outside the ship. He studied every face that passed. Some were masked, wearing life-support suits to help them breathe in an atmosphere that their bodies were not adapted for.

Half a Standard Day had passed, but there was still no sign of his squad. Empher knew that there was no point in waiting any longer. They hadn’t called in. Maybe they had comlink failures. Maybe they had made it to another city and were waiting for the blizzard to end.

At last, he heard something. The ship communicator was beeping; it was either Magister Degrax asking why they haven't contacted HQ yet, or his squad had finally managed to get a good connection. He ran into the ship immediately. And as he did a single rocket-propelled projectile filled with unstable plasma followed.

Screams of terror, a storm of confusion and panic washed through the streets as aliens from all sides came to see what happened. A column of white roiling fire shot into the night sky above the tops of the skyscrapers. His little bees had instinctively scattered into the dark, leaving Evan alone on the rooftop, his crimson eyes staring at the Plumber Badge in his hand so intently, that it could melt a hole through it.

His stoic expression and composure might have looked disturbing to an outsider given his current situation. He knew that it was. But if there was something that every sapient creature across the stars shared in common was that if it gets exposed to death enough times, the creature will begin to become numb to it. And Eva, in particular, got enough experience with death that he could no longer remember what value of life was anymore.

The Plumber Badge in his hand cracked, the red dot in its center popping out to show all of the galvanic circuits that made its interior. The alloy that covered his fingers, his wrist, his entire arm was far superior to anything produced in the Milky Way. But the joins of his fingers and the pistons inside the wrist were so sensitive that with even the slightest movement he would accidentally crush anything short from taydenite.

The boy threw the badge on the ground and wiped his hands of any small fragments that could have gotten stuck into his hand. He glanced at the burning wrecked one last time, still feeling as if he were turning his back on someone reaching out to him before running off.


"And that's it," Roxy said, wiping the sweat off her face.

Getting rid of bodies was a new thing for her. Scratch that, being in battle, with all of the adrenaline, panic and confusion was an absolutely new experience. The life exercises where she was paired against small squads of troopers were now like a cakewalk after experiencing the real thing. During combat simulation,s there is calmness, an assurance that the person before you is a friend, a person you have talked with, eaten with, laughed it. But the battle was desperation, terror, and the stomach-churning certainty that the creature that stares you in the eyes is trying to kill you.

She stepped back slowly, careful not to slip on the rocky terrain and fall into the small pool of lave that she dumped those aliens into. She walked back through the large corridor and into the large cavern where the cultists have been building their "gifts" for the Gods. A large pylon made of black alloy.

The cultists that lived there called it a Shrine, a source of mystic powers through which Nosyerg heard their plea and came to rescue them from the vile extraterrestrials that came to destroy them. And in a way, they were correct.

For the Warp Universe to invade another Universe it required a massive rift to be opened toward the Warp, weakening of the barrier between the two Timelines, allowing the creatures of both sides to enter into the other. But the creation of a rift that would only fold the barrier rather than tear a massive hole through space required very sensitive equipment. That was the Shrine, a portal so delicate that even the most experienced architects and engineers would need two decades to construct it properly, while a small colony of farmers would usually take at least four generations to construct it.

And of course, Avice was there, with the builders, examing the pylon for any errors. Of course, she would be the one responsible for that. Despite wearing the body of a fourteen years old, the human, or whatever Avice was, that was possessing and controlling her body was probably older than the first human civilizations. The black pylon was designed by her brother, the energy that powered it up was created by her, so naturally, she knew more than even the oldest men in this underground village.

"Didn't dad ask you to deal with the Governor?" Roxy asked as she made her way to her aunt.

"He's not too big of a threat for us," Avice replied. "Plus that, I'm sure that if he has some dark secrets, he would have already covered them up. But again, IF there is something."

"I mean, you do have the power to see and hear everything from the past, present, and future, and you also have telepathy so..." from Roxy's perspective, the Greyson already had everything needed to find if

Avice sighed. "There are more urgent things to do than attacking a defenseless old alien."

"The Plumbers?"

"The Plumbers."

"Maybe it wasn't a smart idea to blow up their spaceship in broad daylight."

"If we refrained from taking immediate actions, it would have won us some extra time, so you're right in that sense. Of course, neither you nor I, are good enough at military planning to understand what my brother has in mind with this move."

"I guess you're right."

An awkward silence fell between the two. They didn't have anything else to say, but Roxy was still standing next to the older girl since she didn't have anything else to do. She got rid of the bodies already and she was out of work with nowhere to go. There was a large storm outside so she couldn't leave without some bulky suit, and in case that she got one, the closest civilized place was a hundred miles away.

"Why don't you go collect information about the leaders of this planet instead?" Avice suggested.

"I'm not sure how you suggest I do that without the proper superpowers," Roxy said back. "Plus that, I don't even know where we are yet! What's the name of this planet, which galaxy is this?"

"Ask around, stupid." Avice gave Roxy a hard look. "Why do you think that a group of humans would willingly move out of a super-safe and super-comfortable city and start living into caves, building a device they know nothing about, for generations?"

"Oh."

Roxy looked at the builders that were watching the two of them from the side. She was beginning to catch-up to what Avice was suggesting.

"Does this village have a historian?" Roxy asked them.

The group of men and women all nodded and one of them, probably the overseer stepped forward.

"The elders usually keep information about the village's history in the archives."

"That's perfect!" Roxy nodded and turned back to Avice. "Could I take one of them to lead the way?"

"That won't be a problem."


Roxy walked through the crowded streets, following after a young man that the overseer ordered to lead her. The village was starting to remind her of something that she had seen many times across different timelines. Secret alien cities that were built inside planet Earth, small colonies that existed right below normal human cities. This place was just like those, everyone was walking around, minding their own business and doing their job. No one appeared concerned that they were forced to live underground with pools of lava surrounding them from every direction.

Eventually, they reached a two-story-high house made of various metal-trash that the inhabitants were able to salvage from the large junkyards and scrapyards that covered the lower levels of the dome cities above.

"I can handle myself from here on," Roxy told her companion. "You're free to go."

The young man knelt down and bowed in front of her before running off without saying a word. Roxy shook her head at the others' behavior. Yes, she was a superpowerful kickass extradimensional being, but she wasn't some sort of deity.

But ignoring that, she stepped through the front door, which made from pieces of slide doors hooked on hinges. Inside were three tables made out of scrap surrounded by empty chairs and an elderly man sitting behind a desk at the far end of the room. The man looked up from the bok he was reading, observing the visitor. After a moment, his eyes widened and he bowed his head before her.

"How can I serve you, Young One?"

"There's no need for formalities," Roxy said. "I came to learn why you and everyone else in this village are here."

"W-we are here to be guided by the wise one," the man began, causing Roxy to facepalm.

"I'm talking about the cave, wise one." Roxy interrupted, pointing up. "When I and my father came to show your people the path of the Warp, you've all lived on the surface with the other extra stellar species. Did you retreat from the surface out of disgust from the Xenos, or was there another reason?"

"I see, what you're talking about has been written down many decades ago, but I've read it." the man nodded. "The reason for our retreat was indeed the Xenos, but did this not because of hatred, but because of our weakness."

"Aha," Roxy narrowed her eyes. "What happened exactly?"

"Humans have a reputation across the many Xeno races that exist out there." the man said. "To many of them, we have very tasty meat."

Roxy gulped. She was starting to get unpleasant flashbacks of other instances, in other timelines, where she has heard the exact same thing. And in some, seen it. It was something that happened fairly often; civilian ships carrying food products were often filled with the frozen remains of human colonies that some bastard sold to a warlord or a king, because if there's one thing that humans are known for that no other race would ever be stupid enough to do is always voting in power the type of people who would later sell them.

"It was written that: "The first warnings were when groups of humans began to disappear from homeless shelters and orphanages." the man leaned back into his chair, his eyes filled with grief. "Then, when entire families began to disappear, the remnants panicked and ran out of the city and began to live in the old cave systems."

"Do you think that they are still going this?" Roxy asked.

"Probably." the man shrugged. "But probably somewhere else. After we ran away, the last humans that stood behind disappear as well. Officially, there no longer is a human colony on Chithotis 4 anymore."

"That's... unfortunate." Roxy sighed.

"It's our cowardliness that's to blame, Young One." the man said. "We were chosen by the Lord of the Warp, Nosyerg himself, to be given the blessing of the Warp. But when we had to fight, we ran away and hide in holes like animals."

"Don't judge yourself too hard, gramps," Roxy said back. "You've done what you could and survived because of it."

"No," the man shook his head. "We don't deserve such forgiving words."

"I won't say that you do," Roxy replied. "But through surviving, you were given a second chance to prove yourselves with us there to lead you."


"Welp, total war is on its way." Evan sighed.

The not-so-young Lord of Time sat close to the small portable heater that "his" men were sitting around, heating up after being out in the cold for so long. They all managed to get away from the scene without getting spotted by the authority and had hidden into one of the small hideouts that the colony managed to build inside the city's scrapyards during the many decades in which they fought to just survive.

With the Plumbers' ship blown up in the center of the city, the panic was going to quickly spread and the Plumbers would come back for retaliation. They wouldn't have more than two days before all available Plumbers arrive on the planet. But the climate was giving Evan the advantages. In this storm, most of the Plumbers' ships would be unable to take off. They would be restricted to ground units only, which could be held at bay for at least four weeks.

"Archer, I want you to listen carefully to what I'm going to tell you," Evan said and everyone's attention turned to a man in a blue cold-suit.

"My duty is to serve you, my lord," Archer responded. "I would rather die than turn from, or forget your word."

"Oh please, don't give me that melodramatic crap." Evan jumped onto his feet and began to walk around the group. "Do you know how many ways tunnels connect your village with the surface?"

"Six, I believe," Archer said. "Counting the one through which the Plumbers were able to crawl in."

"I want you to destroy all but the most important of them."

"Lord?"

"Do you have a problem with this order?"

"No, of course not my lord!" Archer bowed. "I'll immediately follow through with those orders."

"And tomorrow, I want you to also bury this hideout along with anything in the cities that the Plumbers could connect to us."

Those were extreme measures, but Evan didn't want to risk it. If the Plumbers had an Anodite among them, they would be able to track the mana of a single piece of scrap back to the village. He would also have to order them to form a defensive perimeter and prepare scout teams, but one thing at a time.

"Is there anything else you desire, my lord?" Archer asked.

Evan tapped his chin and smirked. "Yes, there is; two questions that I want you to answer for me."

The sixty thousand years old human turned his back to the men and raised his index finger.

"The planet Khoros is one Star System away from this planet, correct?"

"Yes, that's correct my lord." Archer nodded.

"Good. Now for the second question. Archer..."

Evan paused for a moment, trying to think of the correct words. Archer and the others stood silent, only throwing curious glances at each other, as they all expected Evan's next words.

Then, with a fire in his eyes, Evan turned around and asked...

"Are there any nightclubs to party at!?"


After a long and eventful day, Magister Degrax finally finished the last piece of paperwork that he had to do for the week. Pushing it to the side, where the other paperwork was, the Petrosapien stood up and walked to the large crystalized window of his office. He stared at the small planetary bodies that were floating far away from their station.

After a few moments of undisturbed peace, the door of Degrax's office opened and another Plumber wearing a full-on red armor walked inside.

"Sir, we got a signal from Chithotis 4Y asking for assistance." The Plumber said. "They report that Malista's ship has been destroyed. Empher is confirmed dead while the other two are missing."

"That's... dishearting to hear." Degrax sighed.

It should be more than dishearting, it should be horrible, an awful tragedy. But Degrax had placed too many of his comrades in the ground already to mourn at the news that another Plumber was killed in action.

"Here's the official report." the Plumber said, hanging an alien tablet to the Magister.

Degrax skipped through it, reading only the most important parts. After a minute, he hanged the tablet back to the Plumber.

"I see how it is... How many Plumber squads are currently unassigned?"

"Twenty-one."

"Send eighteen of them to Chithotis 4Y immediately."

"Yes, sir." the Plumber nodded and walk out, leaving the Petrosapien on his own once more.

Only a war veteran would understand Degrax's decision to send such a massive force on the planet. Only a veteran would accept that sometimes, you had to shot a newborn in the face to ve sure that it won't fire on yours tomorrow.

Characters

Warp Universe

Eye of Nosyerg

Plumbers

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