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Maximum Slumber is the thirty-fifth episode of Back in Action: Alien Universe.

Story

Wikitext Issues
Hey, thanks for reading! Copy-pasting directly from Word leads to weird formatting errors in the editor, so I use a custom script to convert Word's styling to Wikitext! Sometimes this doesn't come out perfectly and Visual Editor bugs cause lines to disappear, so if you see text that seems out of place, or is unformatted or not formatted properly, please give me a heads-up! <3 Enjoy

Part I

[The Null Void: A teal-skinned humanoid in a Plumber suit stands proudly on the edge of a lonely isle.

Another Plumber pats a hand on their shoulder from behind.]

Plumber #1 (patting the teal one)
Is it everything you’d hope it would be?
Teal-Skinned Plumber (#2) (chuckling)
It’s not the outside that matters. It’s everything within. It’s the engineering marvel of it, and everything it stands for.
Plumber #3 (pissed)
Numbskulls, it’s a damn prison! Go touch some grass or something.

The third one is coming up alongside Max Tennyson. Behind them are yet three more cadets.]

Max
Howitzer, Tack’s right. She might not be a looker-

He points beyond to the pocket dimension’s variant of the infamous Incarcecon prison facility.

Max
-But NVI is a monument. The tech behind it-
Tack/Teal-Skinned Plumber (#2)
Designed by Azmuth!
Max
-is the best around.
Howitzer/Plumber #3
Tell that to the escapees.

Max puts an arm around the third Plumber.

Max
Any escapees get caught again eventually.

The third Plumber shoves Max’s arm away.

Howitzer
Yeah, in the meantime, we gotta deal with fixing somebody else’s mess.
Max
Oh, be a good sport, Howitzer. C’mon, let’s get a better look at the place.

Max and the six cadets activate boosters that send them over the prison. While up there, Max spots a commotion starting in the outside recreational area. At the same time, he watches a number of guards from each side of the building rush in.

Max (serious)
Alright, cadets, I think it’s time for us to head to our next stop.
Plumber #1
Is everything alright, Magister?

Several blasts are shot through the ceiling of the Null Void Incarcecon. A ship then bursts through, attempting to take off. One Polymorph security guard within latches onto it from below, melting through a wing and forcing it to spiral into a landing outside of the front entrance.

Max
We need to leave this for NVI security. Turn around; we’re-
Howitzer
No, it’s my time to shine.

The brave (or stupid) cadet attempts to rip off his helmet, simultaneously transforming into a Sludgepuppy within his suit. Max hits a button that locks cadet’s helmet, causing his mucus form to get too packed and deflate. He returns to his human form.

Max
We’re gonna play this safe.
Howitzer
We didn’t join the Plumbers to sit back and watch, dude!

In spite of his handicap, he heads down towards the energy barrier around the prison. Hugging it, he can watch a battle unfurl. The forced landing let out a cowboy-looking being. His entire physical form is robotic – the half of it that isn’t broken, revealing a deep black, rough body. The Plumbers rush the broken bot to dogpile on him.

What proceeds is the entire dome being caught in a dense fog. Somehow in the mayhem, the cowboy latches onto the ceiling of the dome, right where Howitzer is. He begins clawing his way out, using a sharp, fingerless, spider-like arm where his left hand once was. Howitzer backs up, as Max places one hand each on holstered gear: a weapon to one hand, a Null Void projector in the other.

The half-spider creature cuts through, diving Howitzer. Max draws and fires in the same instant, not even slightly harming it. It tosses some kind of capsule at the group which, before Max can react, bursts, releasing a blue cloud into the air. Max, with his view obstructed, pulls out his projector and attempts to use it to create an exit for the kids, but he finds himself separated from them.

He moves around with his hands out, trying aimlessly to grab them one at a time, but fails to catch them all. Before long, he hears the kids screaming. He looks for the shadow of the cowboy-spider in the ocean-hued fog but fails to make out something he can shoot clearly.

The screams subside.

A shadow leaps out at him, but he is too uncertain to fire. As luck would have it, it’s Tack. His helmet is scratched entirely.

Max (weapon readied)
Tack, are you okay?
Tack (looking at his hands)
I don’t know… it went through my helmet and then…

The creature, having sloughed off his whole robotic arm to reveal an arachnid body twice the size of a human, lurches out from behind Max, snatching his arms and legs. He’s quick enough to shoot a leg before he is captured. A blue spattering of its oddly colored blood escapes, but the injury is not debilitating enough to shoo it off. It knocks the weapon out of Max’s hand. The creature uses one well-aimed leg to cut right into Max’s helmet with one hit, but he catches it with both hands.

Max hears a moaning sound, turning around to see Tack’s eyes suddenly rolled over from white into a black haze.

Max
Tack…?

Smash.

In that moment, the creature shatters Max’s helmet with another leg. It pulls back another leg to go in for another blow, but Max draws his projector gun and fires straight into its core, pulling the giant spider into itself. He puts his hand near the dial to close the rift, but his hand stops in place. Looking at his eyes, they too have glossed over and devolved into a deep haze. He is frozen in place, just floating there.

The blue cloud wanes, revealing the same haze on each cadet's face. Plumbers from the prison below spot this.

[Infirmary One: The galaxy’s most talented practitioners of medicine work here.

7 hovering hospital beds, each with a holographic glass-like layer protecting the person on each, bust through a door, with Azmuth floating in behind them. They stop over empty squares designated for them, in a room flanked with doctors, most being Galvan.]

[Deep space, in a Plumber’s ship: Red lights flash on every screen at the helm. The Magister in charge, Rook Blonko, is beckoned to the front by the pilots. When he arrives, the Magistrata is there. Her face is visibly strained.]

[Midday in Bellwood: At the front of a line of cars at a red light is Frank Tennyson’s sedan. Inside, Gwen takes a call in the driver’s seat.]

Gwen
No…
Kevin
What’s going on?

Gwen clutches the phone in her hand, turning to Kevin with tears running down her face.

[Ben’s bedroom: He’s looking out the window as he hangs up the phone. He drops his head. The Mechamorph Ken appears at his door.]

Ken (donning an apron, holding a powered-down vacuum)
Is everything alright, Ben?
Ben
It’s happening again…

He transforms into Streak.

Streak (head up)
But I’m not going to let it. Not this time.

[Back at Infirmary One: Ben, Gwen, and Kevin are joined by Magister Rook Blonko rush through the door to the room of doctors and beds.]

Azmuth
I’m sorry we couldn’t be meeting on better terms.
Ben
Azmuth, what’s going on?
Azmuth
In all my years, I rarely say this, but… I don’t know.

The doctors in the room open the shields over each patient, including Max. Each one is hooked up to a series of wires. Many of them are speaking quite quickly about various factors, including dropping heartrates.

Gwen covers her face, pushing it into Kevin’s shoulder. He holds her tightly.

Kevin
Why are you here, then, Azmuth?
Rook
If I may interject. As the Magister-designate for Magister Tennyson’s sector, I invited the greatest mind in the universe to attempt to cure him. No one has been able to figure out what is going on, so whenever it is that we do find out, I hope Azmuth can be the one to manufacture what we need. Maybe he can figure it out himself.
Kevin
Do we know what happened? Why aren’t we investigating or something?
Ben
Yeah, that’s a good question, Rook. Why aren’t we investigating?
Rook
Ben, you know these things take time. Before this investigation can kick off, I have to go through multiple channels to-
Ben
And in the meantime, Grandpa Max and six kids die.

Ben steps up to Rook and points a finger right in his face.

Ben
You’re going to tell us what you know, now. We’ll take over from there.
Rook
In my official capacity, I cannot interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Rook turns around, a piece of paper visibly in his hand. He tries to drop it, but it sticks to him. Ben and Kevin each look, awkwardly, to each other in between staring at it. Rook keeps shaking it until it finally falls to the floor.

Rook (clearing his throat)
If you want to take things into your own hands, the Plumbers cannot stop you. But you’ll be on your own.

Ben, eyeing Kevin, shrugs as he goes to pick it up. Scrawled in what can only be a child’s handwriting are the separated terms “NVI,” “Gwen,” “MM,” and “Plan A.”

Ben (absolutely lost)
Okay. What the heck does this mean?
Rook (innocently)
I have not the slightest clue, in my official capacity, what you are referring to.

Ben rolls his eyes, passing Gwen and Kevin the sheet.

Kevin
Dude, tell us what this says before we get the Magisteria on the phone.
Rook
It’s the Magistrata.
Kevin
Thanks for making it easier.
Rook
Oh. Wait, I rescind that-
Gwen (eyes glowing)
Rook, explain. Before I make you.
Rook (turning around, slightly sweating bullets)
Ignoring the threat to a sector Magister-

Gwen’s hands begin to glow as she levitates fiercely off the ground. A segment of her face cuts through the skin to reveal the deep violet Anodite layer beneath. In this burst of energy, a gust flips a nearby trash receptacle over.

Kevin
Dude. Her grandpa’s in a hospital bed. I don’t think she cares about your rank.
Rook
Gwendolyn, uh, what do you know about a “mind meld?” I have no means of communicating with your cousin Chelsey Tennyson, but-

She stops scowling at him. Dropping to the floor and retracting what little was visible of her Anodite self, she races over to Max’s comatose body. She plows through the Galvan doctors working on him. Pulling a book almost out of thin air, she combs through the pages for what she needs, then begins to cast the spell. Connecting her and her grandfather in a white field, the two’s minds begin to come together. A beam extends from her mind to his.

And it stops. It bounces off of his head and recedes into her, forcefully. She flings the book of spells, though it fades out of existence before it can hit anything or anyone.

Rook (offering her a hand)
What happened?

She slaps his hand out of the way.

Rook
Well, I, er, predicted as much. From my research on the “mind meld”-
Gwen
Look, if you think you can do it any better, do it yourself! Or why don’t you call Chelsey since you wanted her!
Rook
Far be it from me to presume I could anywhere near match your power, Gwendolyn. And I don’t think your cousin will fare any better.
Kevin
Then what’s your prediction, wise guy?
Rook
Try the others. Max Tennyson has had a lifetime with Anodites and knows to protect himself – the “mind meld” is a two-way street, which he has blocked off. The young Plumbers behind you, however, know very little.
Ben (having a eureka moment)
So tap into their minds.
Rook
Precisely. And when you do that, Gwendolyn, ask who attacked them.
Ben (twisting his dial)
I can help.

He arrives at Warrock.

Gwen
No. I’ve got this.

She prepares the mind meld again. As her hands and eyes glow white, she pans the room for the most suitable candidate. At a corner, she finds Tack.

Kevin
I don’t mean to knock the guy, but if anyone’s gonna have the easiest lock to pick…
Gwen
Yeah, I get it.

She extends her beam, connecting to Tack and enabling a mind meld.

The group watches from outside.

Ben
Rook, what’s the plan if this guy gives us the information we need?
Rook
We will scour the galaxy for him and find out what he did to them to leave them like this.
Azmuth
That sounds like a process that would take far too long. I hate to add this, but all six of these Plumbers are very steadily declining. I don’t know how much longer they can take in this state.
Rook
I mean no disrespect, Azmuth, but this is our best and only hope.
Kevin
Hey, Blonko, your little note said “NVI” on it. That didn’t stand for-
Rook
The Null Void Incarcecon, yes.
Kevin
Is that where this happened? What was the old man doing with six newbies at the most dangerous place in the Null Void?
Rook
He was not inside. There was a breakout, from what we can tell. We have no other intel, though, and even that much is spotty at best.
Kevin
Let me do deep cover, then. If there was a breakout, it wasn’t a one-man job, even if only one guy got out. Whoever helped our guy has bodies on the inside – either guards or inmates.
Ben
Kevin, I’ve never seen you so into something that wasn’t Gwen, your car, or sleep. I’ll have to tell Grandpa that when we save him.
Kevin
*If* we save him. We gotta have a plan to do it.
Rook
Kevin, I cannot recommend you do this mission. There are some very dangerous characters in there. In my official capacity, I cannot allow you to do it.

He winks quite aggressively. Ben and Kevin eye each other uncomfortably in response.

Kevin
Whoever’s in there, I’m the only one who can get intel from ‘em. Just tell me who to watch out for.

Rook quickly scrawls something else down on a sheet of paper from a pocket notebook, then balls it up and rolls it to Kevin.

Kevin
I’m not doing this all day.

Gwen breaks out of her mind meld.

Gwen
I’ve got a name. It was difficult – way harder than I’ve read about. Something’s in their heads. But I’ve got a name: Khyber.
Rook
That cannot be right.
Gwen
That’s the name they gave me.
Ben
Gwen… Khyber’s mind is mush. We should know; Rook and I faced him when we were partners.
Rook
Yes. He put on the Nemetrix – a device designed for primitive beings – and it decimated his mind. Not to mention, our limited intel includes the note that they “looked like a cowboy.”
Gwen
This is our only lead. Are we taking it or not? And how hard is it to believe this guy escaped and put on a disguise?

Ben and Rook stare at each other with uncertainty.

Rook
I will put out a search.
Kevin
In the meantime, Plan B.
Gwen
What’s Plan B?

[Null Void Incarcecon: A prisoner transport ship arrives, giving a brief window where it opens the dome containing the prison so that it may land inside.

Inside the prison’s receiving area, at least ten guards welcome the vessel. From afar, three of them connect poles to the backdoor that let it open. A landing unfolds, connecting the truck-like vehicle to the rest of the room. Two guards walk single file towards the back and kick out a number of prisoners, all wearing collars of sorts.

The final prisoner let out is a red Tetramand, bruised in multiple places to the point of being a spotted purple.

As he is moved into a cell, he spots three people – Malevolence, the Dethroned King; Vilgax, the former Conqueror; and Jefe, the Whistleblower Plumber.]

Red and Purple Tetramand (in a slightly deeper voice than Kevin’s)
Hello, “dangerous characters.”
[END OF PART]

Part II

[Infirmary One: An office with a display that covers an entire wall. Rook Blonko stands in the middle of the room before one Marie Rivera, Mayor of Bellwood, and on the other half of a screen split, the quad-tentacled leader of the Plumbers, the Magistrata.]

Magistrata
Surely, you can reconsider-
Mayor Rivera
I have been able to keep higher powers off of your backs only because I have trust and faith in Max Tennyson. Tell me he’s not lying on his death bed right now.
Rook
Well, we do not know that for-
Mayor Rivera
And you don’t know that he’s not. Are their conditions improving, at least?
Rook
Absolutely, by the minute!

A page over a facility-wide intercom comes in.

Announcer (over intercom)
All hands to ER-2. All hands to ER-2.

The Mayor raises a brow.

Rook
If you’ll excuse me.

He turns around, intending to end the call.

Mayor Rivera (stopping him)
I worry about the safety of our people and of yours. Mr. Blonko, what if something like this happens again?
Rook
I am doing everything I can to prevent it.
Mayor Rivera
Like?
Rook (turning back to face the screen)
As we speak, we have a covert mission in the Null Void headed by one of our top operatives; Gwendolyn Tennyson has tapped into the minds of one of the victims, providing us with a lead we are actively closing in on; and a trusted, impartial set of interrogations of our usual suspects is under way.

She sees in Rook an upright stance, a true look of confidence and a matching air to it. Unlike his comment on the patients’ conditions, he means this. She gets that and is pleasantly surprised by it.

Mayor Rivera (straightening out her navy suit jacket)
I’ll leave you to it.
Magistrata
For the record, Mayor, it’s *Magister* Blonko now. He won’t correct you.
Mayor Rivera (grinning)
Understood.

She hangs up, leaving Magistrata to come to occupy the full screen.

Rook
I appreciate it. If that is all, Magistrata-
Magistrata
“Covert mission in the Null Void,” huh?
Rook (rubbing the back of his head, nervously)
About that…
Magistrata
And which “top operative” is heading this mission?

[Null Void Incarcecon: Kevin, in his blue-spotted Tetramand disguise, sits at a table eyeing Vilgax and Malevolence from afar. He hears a crowd adjacent himself, signaling the presence of the infinitely popular, Jefe. Though embarrassed in a fight with Vilgax, the personal preference towards his personality over Vilgax’s keeps people attached to him at the hip.

Jefe himself shoves through the crowd to plop his tray of glop onto the table with Kevin. People stand over him as he eats.]

Jefe
I need peace, people, please. Chit-chat soon.

One alien holds out their arm, presenting it as a canvas for Jefe to sign. As Jefe shrugs, not having a utensil, the alien whips out a fork. A guard can be heard screaming about this, shaking up the crowd.

Kevin, more interested in Vilgax and Malevolence, takes this as an opportunity to stand up.

Jefe
Where ya going with that awful disguise, son?

Kevin freezes up.

Kevin/Red and Blue Tetramand (voice thrown deeper)
Disguise?
Jefe
Whoever sent you in here must have forgotten that I’m a former Plumber. Are you here to investigate the break-in?
Tetramand Kevin (pounding his fists)
The only one who sent me here is myself, for busting heads. And what “break-in”?
Jefe
Oh, no, no. I thought you were here to investigate, but let’s hear about your head-busting, chief.

He kicks up his bare feet on the table.

Jefe
I’m all ears. Where ya from, warrior?
Tetramand Kevin
Uh, I’m from under the Fourth Star-
Jefe (nodding along)
No kidding!
Tetramand Kevin (still standing, eyeing Malevolence and Vilgax across the way)
-And I served on the War Council. Caught on stealing some dough.

He watches the two head inside, closely followed by the smaller Chimeran sycophant Grantgrant, as well as a Necrofriggian.

Jefe
Embezzlement. Ya hate to see it. Let me ask, when were you on the Council again? I was on it for a long time myself – you know, up until they tossed me in here for disclosing galactic secrets.
Tetramand Kevin
I, uh- a while, surprised you never saw me. I was Looma’s favorite.
Jefe
You done, kid? That low-res disguise might fool the other shmooks in here, but not me. And I’ve never heard a warrior – let alone from the Fourth Star – call taydens “dough.” You’re an Earth kid, aren’t ya? Probably working with the Tennysons.
Tetramand Kevin
How do you know I’m not a Tennyson myself?
Jefe
You’re not. And excellent job confirming it. Took you all of – what? – 2 minutes? Now, inquire about the break-in.

[Infirmary One, ER-2: The hotheaded cadet, Howitzer, is flatlining. A crew rushes in, with Rook in tow. Gwendolyn cowers, with Azmuth – disgusted and confused by emotions – awkwardly patting her shoulder from aboard his hover disc.

Rook stands from a distance, watching Galvan and other, suited-up humanoid doctors attempt to reinvigorate him.

Their efforts fail. Ben dashes out of the room, as Rook drops his head. As he goes to follow Ben, Rook is stopped by Azmuth.]

Azmuth
Magister Blonko, I understand you are conducting some interviews.
Rook
Interrogations, yes.
Azmuth
I have a couple additional names we should look into..

Holographically displaying next to him are the faces of Mercedes Barnes and the helmet of the Alpha Omnitrix wearer Dawn. Their names show under their photos.

Rook
I recognize Dawn – they are in possession of your other Omnitrix. Who is this girl, though?
Azmuth
A friend of Ben’s. She originally received my Alpha Omnitrix. The Thep Khufan Armada brainwashed her and used her, but after we all came together to quash their efforts, she appeared in Bellwood. She could have something built into her mind set to commit atrocities like this.
Rook
An interesting concept. I will need locations, though, to call them in. And Dawn, as far as I am aware, is slippery.
Azmuth
I can take care of it. I have a “hunch,” as they call it.

Rook nods and begins to step away.

Azmuth
I also want to perform the interview.

Rook drops his head again.

Rook (facing out the door of the room)
I promised the Magistrata an impartial review. Are you not somewhat close with the Magister?
Azmuth
Eunice, how many galaxies am I the smartest in?

He sits for a moment in idle wait for a response that never comes. She’s not around anymore.

Azmuth (attempting to ignore that gaff)
Right… Well, you know who I am. If not innately impartial, I know how to remain so. And I ask only to interview these two.

Rook, looking out to the hallway to a stressed Ben sitting on a bench, reluctantly turns back to Azmuth.

Rook
Please do this right. Summon them, then speak to Magister Hulka about the proper procedure before you begin.
Azmuth
Thank you, Magister.

Rook nods, joining Ben in the hall.

Rook
Is this seat taken?
Ben
I’m waiting for someone, but yeah, go ahead.

Rook lets out a heavy sigh as he sits.

Ben
Why aren’t you inside?
Rook
I have to gather myself… I have to be the one to break the news to that Lenopan’s family. I have been so lucky as not to have done that yet.
Ben (putting a hand on Rook’s shoulder)
You’re really important right now, Rook. You need to know that, and own that, because otherwise, I’m blaming you for anything that goes sideways today.
Rook
Me? I-

He looks to Ben, seeing him run both of his hands down his entire face. From a few feet away, Rook could feel every ounce of stress in Ben’s body.

Rook
Do you remember when we became partners?
Ben (miffed)
Yeah, it wasn’t that long ago. Also wasn’t that long.
Rook
No, I do not mean it like that. Do you recall how hesitant you were?
Ben (chuckling, sarcastic)
I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was happy to have you.
Rook
My mistake. “We’re not partners. I work alone,” must mean something else on Earth.
Ben
Very funny, you know, unlike the situation we’re in.
Rook
I am not a master of my words, I will admit that. But I just thought it interesting how your song changed when it was time for us to part ways. We defeated Khyber, Malware, Dr. Psychobos, and Albedo, and three of the four were locked away or… dealt with.

Hearing Albedo’s name causes Ben’s eye to twitch.

Rook
We would have never accomplished that if we had never met. And your grandfather brought us together. I will always owe a debt of gratitude to that man. His faith in me is the reason I know I belong in this role.
Ben
I didn’t think of it that way. But if that’s true, then, here’s your chance to repay him, Rook.

Rook nods, standing up and returning to ER-2.

A portal opens up, welcoming Mercedes. She wears a black pullover hoodie with a purple, dripping skull insignia at the center, as well as gray, ripped jeans and similar sneakers to Ben.

Mercedes
Ben!

She rushes over and hugs him.

Ben
I thought I texted Kai? And I thought you were on vacation.
Mercedes
Oh, I don’t know- Someone else invited me. I could step away for this.
Ben
But who-?

Azmuth exits the emergency room and looks to her.

Mercedes (to Azmuth)
Just a minute!

She looks to Ben, who is distracted by Azmuth before looking back to her.

Mercedes (one hand on his cheek, another over his shoulder)
I heard about your grandpa. I think he’s tough. He has to pull through.
Ben (eyeing Azmuth, then back to her)
I… Thank you for being here for me.
Mercedes
I mean, I wish I was here solely for you. They invited me; they want to ask questions.
Ben
What??

Ben jumps up and looks to Azmuth.

Ben
What, do you guys think she did it? Hasn’t she been through enough, because of you?
Mercedes
Ben, it’s okay. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think maybe the Thep Khufans still have some kind of mind control on me or something. It’s worth checking, especially if it can help.
Ben
It won’t do any good. I mean, isn’t this the perfect cap on his life?

He taps the Omnitrix, displaying a hologram of the Omega Squad.

Ben
He wasn’t supposed to be doing this mission today, Mercedes. He was out training new Plumbers; that’s way below his pay grade. He loves all his newbies, but that’s just not his thing anymore. Do you know who should’ve been there, bringing these guys in?
Mercedes
That stupid Plumber squad you’re always complaining about?

Ben drops his head. With just his thumb, he points to himself.

Ben
Yeah. That I was supposed to lead. Grandpa Max wanted me. And I ignored him, so he finally picked someone else. And he has no trust in that guy - who would? - so he took it upon himself to do this today. Mercedes-

He sniffles and looks up with tears on his face.

Ben
Grandpa is going to die, and it will be all my fault. Just like Julie.
Azmuth (interjecting from across the room)
That wasn’t your fault.

Ben races up to Azmuth and puts a finger in his face.

Ben
Whose was it, then?

Unconsciously, he becomes Plasmodic. The highly sporadic alien quickly heats up, blowing actual steam in the process.

Plasmodic
Was it your time traveling friend? Where is he, by the way? Because Paradox could easily just tell us what’s going on here and solve the problem.
Azmuth
You know it’s not that easy.
Plasmodic (shrill)
Do I?!
Mercedes (lightly cupping his shoulder)
Ben.
Plasmodic
Don’t you try to get me to calm down!
Mercedes
Stay as angry as you’d like. I have my own bone to pick with him, though. He kinda ruined my life and has never said a word to me until he ruined another.

Plasmodic breathes out and reverts to human, sitting back in his seat.

Mercedes
Before I head in, Ben, I have to ask – w

Ben raises his head.

Mercedes
What are you going to do about this situation? ‘Cuz you better not just sit there and pout.

She two-finger waves him off as she heads into a hidden side room behind Azmuth. Ben’s head remains raised, and immediately after this, he begins flicking through his active playlist.


Rook (over the Omnitrix’s Plumber comm link)
Ben, we’ve got something on Khyber.

He jumps up and dashes for ER-2.

[Null Void Incarcecon: Jefe informs the disguised Kevin.]

Jefe
Could you stop looking over there for 5 seconds?
Tetramand Kevin
You’re not giving me any more information than I already know. I already know it’s some robot cowboy that came here, on a transport ship for prisoners, and did this.
Jefe
Do you know who flew the ship?
Tetramand Kevin
Does it matter? A rowdy dude wanted out. Can’t say I blame him. I know I did when I was in here.

He immediately shuts his mouth when he says this, realizing he’s outed some personal information.

Jefe
You’ve got to be the worst guy anyone could send for recon. Did you see Malevolence by any chance?
Tetramand Kevin
Yeah, the Mechamorph.
Jefe
Notice anything special about him?

Kevin shakes his head.

The two get up and proceed to an indoor commons area where all the cells are together. From afar, they spot Vilgax and Malevolence. Spotting them back, Vilgax and Malevolence stare suspiciously and enter a single cell where Grantgrant and the Necrofriggian stand guard. In the moment his arm faces him, Kevin spots Malevolence’s rusted arm.

Tetramand Kevin
What’s with that?
Jefe
Every Baron in here says he had a child, so they shipped him off. Right after that, his arm was gone. That’s not how Mechamorph reproduction works – believe me, I should know –
Tetramand Kevin
I’m not sure if I should say that’s gross or not.
Jefe
Anyhow, kid, right after that convoy with that cowboy came, they spoke to Mally here. At the same time, the arm came back, but entirely broken like that.
Tetramand Kevin
So, he escaped, and then broke back in…?

Jefe slaps him upside the head. A Baron briefly points a weapon at him, so Jefe wraps himself around Kevin as though they’re friends.

Tetramand Kevin
It’s Fourth Star custom! You wouldn’t know!

The Baron sneers, dropping their weapon.

Jefe
Can you please stop saying Fourth Star? You’re giving it a bad name. Anyways, read between the lines. That creature caused wonton destruction, and he was armed with something dangerous enough to make you come investigating. I can only imagine it’s some kind of poison.
Tetramand Kevin
So, he was trying to break himself out for real?

Jefe points to the cell with Grantgrant and the Necrofriggian guarding.

Tetramand Kevin
All four of them?
Jefe
Good stuff. I’ve kept my mouth shut, because truth be told, they rub me the wrong way – when it comes to Vilgax, literally – but I’m not about to let innocents get caught in harm’s way.
Tetramand Kevin
I need to have a conversation with them still.
Jefe
You’re not getting close to them. The one Chimeran guard is surprisingly squeamish. But I know the other one – he was here when I was here last-
Tetramand Kevin
Don’t worry, I got this.

He races up the stairs to the cell labeled “V32.”

Tetramand Kevin (to Grantgrant and the Necrofriggian Guard)
I want to talk to these punks.
Grantgrant
Who do you think you’re-?

The Necrofriggian covers Grantgrant’s mouth, then knocks on the cell. Vilgax looks out, furious over the interruption. Malevolence shares the sentiment.

Malevolence
Cyanne, I thought you two were here to prevent interruptions!
Necrofriggian Guard
Look what the cat dragged in.

Vilgax squints at Kevin’s disguise then stands up.

Vilgax
A child’s excuse for a disguise, Levin.

Kevin gasps, backpedaling.

[The interrogation room. In reality, it’s an office space for one of the lead physicians. Azmuth gestures Mercedes to a seat.]

Azmuth
Take a seat. We’re just waiting for one more.
Mercedes
Oh. A little strange for an interrogation, but I guess TV isn’t always accurate. Who are we waiting on?
Azmuth
I’m sure you’ve heard of them. They’re the one wearing the Omnitrix I gave you. They go by Dawn.

Mercedes rises out of her seat.

Azmuth
*You* go by Dawn.

Mercedes pulls away an ID Mask.

Azmuth
That’s the unfortunate part about ID Masks. They’re digital; a trained eye can see through them quite well. Now, if you had an Any Cloak; now those were analogue marvels.

Looking to Mercedes, much has changed without her disguise. Her attire is gone, replaced by Dawn’s suit of armor. She hits two buttons under the jaw that unveil her face once more, this time worn out, scaly, bumpy, and thrashed as though she’s aged decades and fought ten bears in the last few seconds.

Dawn/Mercedes
Let me guess, you invented the Masks, too?
Azmuth
No. In my experience, I only invent things that… do harm.

She rushes him.

Dawn
You got that right.
[END OF PART]

Part III

[Null Void Incarcecon, interior: Jefe watches Kevin get yanked into Vilgax’s cell. He bashes them, making a break for it. When Grantgrant and Cyanne see him reach Jefe, they elect not to chase. Vilgax grins at the sight.]

Jefe (to Kevin)
I think it’s time for you to go. You can only get caught red-handed so many times.
Tetramand Kevin
But I didn’t get any of the info I needed.
Jefe
And you’re not going to. They know who you are. It’s time for you to go home, Levin.

Kevin sighs.

Tetramand Kevin
Let me guess – you can see right through the disguise.
Jefe
The thing’s low-res, but I can’t see too well past it. Age is getting to me. All I knew was it’s a disguise. Everything you told me was how I knew it was you.

Jefe pats him on the shoulder.

Jefe
I better not see you in here again – human or in this disguise. You’re better than everyone in here.

[Back in ER-2: Gwen’s arms are crossed and she’s visibly distracted, while Rook projects a live Plumber foot soldier’s feed.]

Rook
We made a custom cell to contain Khyber, as we were not sure what to expect and Azmuth’s systems were not designed for predators.
Ben
Sounds like a silly exception.
Rook
I would not disagree. This one was not any better. We checked in, and as it turns out, he recently escaped and your sector’s agents have been covertly looking for him. We’re following a few-
Plumber (over the feed)
We got something!

Rook’s jaw drops. Gwen and Ben both turn away.

Plumber (over the feed)
Markings suggest a battle with a Null Guardian. Corpse decomposition suggests maybe a few days, sir.
Rook
Thank you for your service.

The feed cuts off with the Plumber switching to a view of them saluting.

Ben
A dead end, then. He can’t have done this if he’s been like that.
Gwen
Look, I’m sorry.
Ben
It’s not you, Gwen. It’s not like we can just peek into the past and-
Gwen
What about those Knights? The one you said showed you your past?
Ben
M.I.A. Just like Paradox. I tried calling them a dozen times. But I think I’ve got a little thing I’d like to call Plan C.

Kevin, disguise removed and back to normal, walks into the room. Gwen immediately runs to him and hugs him, burrowing her head into his chest.

Kevin (holding her)
Good, because mine failed. Only thing I learned is Malevolence and Vilgax are probably plotting to break out.
Rook
I mean no disrespect, but I believe everyone in that prison is doing the same.
Kevin
I don’t know. It looks like Malevolence might be able to do it.
Rook
Fill me in.

As Rook reiterates the findings on Khyber and Kevin recounts his mission, Ben crosses the hall. In the empty space between ER-2 and the makeshift interrogation room, he pulls out his phone and sends a text to Kai: “I guess I’ll see you tonight instead?”

He bangs on the door, followed by it opening. Mercedes, ID Mask back on, stands innocently adjacent Azmuth.

Ben
You guys find out anything special?
Azmuth
Nothing pertinent.
Ben
I was mostly asking Mercedes. Kinda trust her more.
Mercedes
Uh, what he said.
Azmuth
I’d watch the tone. Your issue is not with me.
Ben
It definitely is. You wiped away like all of my best guys, and I guess you and Paradox probably thought I’d forget that I have the one key to figuring out what’s going on.
Azmuth
And what – or who – is that?
Ben
Clockwork. Except you locked him. I need him, now. I’ll go to the Null Void where it happened, replay the action, and I’ll know everything. When I get back, you can remove him; I don’t care. But now, I need him.
Azmuth (excited)
Yes! Yes, it was right in front of us! Give me your Omnitrix.

Mercedes briefly lifts her wrist to this, slapping it down before giving away her secret.

Ben walks over, holding out his arm.

Ben
You’re so… pumped. I didn’t expect that.
Azmuth (twisting the dial)
Do you think I can stand to lose Max Tennyson any more than the rest of the universe can? If it wasn’t for him on a fateful night decades ago, I might not have even completed the Omnitrix.

The Omnitrix tower pops up. The hologram for Clockwork appears.

Ben
You didn’t think of this?
Azmuth
There’s been 100 things for me to deal with today, Ben. I cede that I didn’t.

Ben pulls the Omnitrix back to his chest.

Ben
Guess they should start calling me the smartest being in this galaxy.

Switching through his playlist, he becomes Streak, slashing through the air to open a portal to the scene of the crime.

Azmuth
Before you go, take your friend here to keep you company.
Streak
If you say so.
Mercedes (nudging Azmuth)
Azmuth, don’t we have more questions to answer?
Azmuth
Yes. We’ll get to it later, though. Your friend needs you.
Streak
Yeah, you said you haven’t found anything yet, and this is the best bet.

Mercedes nods, turning around to Azmuth and scornfully sneering at him. He faces away as she and Streak enter the rift and depart.

Azmuth
Oh, and Ben, one last thing. When you see Dawn again, turn off their SDM.
Streak
I don’t know how to find them, but once they want me to, they know where to find me. Plus, how’d you know? I thought you had no clue about them.
Azmuth
I don’t, except that the SDM bursts have been going off.
Streak
Why don’t you use them to try and pinpoint where they are, O Great Thinker?
Azmuth (feigning amusement, eyeing Mercedes)
I’ve tried.

Streak sighs then enters the portal, Mercedes following. The rift shuts.

Azmuth’s grin curls down. He makes his way for the door.

Familiar Voice
I know what you’re thinking. You must not give him that transformation.

Azmuth whips around.

Azmuth
Timewalker.

[The Null Void: Streak becomes Alkamine and creates a bubble encasing Mercedes. She bangs the side of her hand on the inside.]

Alkamine
I need to keep you safe from everything in here. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Null Void before.
Mercedes
I think I might have… might have been from the Mistress days. Memories are hazy, unfortunately.
Alkamine
We don’t need to rehash those.

He flips around and becomes Clockwork.

Clockwork
However, we will rehash some others.

The key on his head begins to wind.

Clockwork
Keep still, Mercedes. That bubble won’t stay rigid for long.

Clockwork look down. His perspective is exactly that of Max and his trainees overlooking Null Void Incarcecon below. As he winds, a green light emanates from his core that soon extends all the way to NVI. Even the prisoners inside stand in awe of the light show that follows. A complete rewind of everything that has happened in the area replays.

First stop: The gas attack on Max and the cadets. Clockwork pauses before it begins, inhales, and exhales.

He resumes. Playing in reverse from the ending, he spots the shadows in the gas cloud but can’t make out exact actions. He lets everything play out while he wades through the clouds.

Clockwork
Do you see anything in here?
Mercedes
You told me not to move!
Clockwork
Right. Keep doing that.

Clockwork reaches the shadowy-eyed Max. He begins to wind back again, watching the attack unfold in reverse. The spider alien is unwarped through the portal Max fired, as his helmet is unbroken. Clockwork pauses here and gets close to the alien to analyze them. Making out their form, his eyes gape.

Clockwork
Got you.

He begins rewinding again.

Mercedes
What are you doing?
Clockwork
I recognize the alien. Now I just need to find out who brought them here. They had to have had an inside man.
Mercedes
Ben. Isn’t this pretty time sensitive? Can’t you come back to find out?

Clockwork pauses his rewind to look at Mercedes. Wading through projections of passing Null Guardians, Clockwork touches Mercedes’s bubble.

Clockwork (skeptical)
Why? Do you know something I don’t?
Mercedes
No. But why don’t we go home, take care of this, and come back for more later?

Clockwork tilts his head before dropping his head.

Clockwork
Yes, of course.

He melts through the Alkamine neutralized acid bubble to free Mercedes. He then becomes Streak and cuts another portal back open into Infirmary One. The projections of the past all around them soon fade.

[Infirmary One: The makeshift interrogation room. Azmuth stands near the door.]

Azmuth
Timewalker?

There is no one else in the room.

Professor Paradox/Familiar Voice
I’ve had to find a different way of communicating with you. I can’t be seen during all of this.
Azmuth
Why, because you fear every Plumber around will throw something at you for preventing the preventable?
Professor Paradox
Azmuth, I no longer know what is preventable and what is not. The Timekeepers are dealing with something completely out of our control right now.
Azmuth
Then why can we not do something different right now and right here in this timeline? If there is no set path-
Professor Paradox
There is a path. We may not know precisely what to do right now but we know what to avoid. I will neither tell you who is behind all this nor will I let you give him that transformation.
Azmuth
Have we not caused the boy enough harm? I regret not helping before; does he need to lose more?
Professor Paradox
These lives matter to me, too. I don’t want to lose what we don’t have to.

Azmuth sighs, continuing to make way for the door.

Professor Paradox
We aren’t finished.
Azmuth
I think we are. You have nothing to add, and I have lives to save.
Professor Paradox
Promise me now you will not give him that transformation.
Azmuth
Promise I won’t give him a transformation that can save lives – save Max Tennyson’s life – right now? Let me ask this, Timewalker: what effect on the time stream would his life continuing have on the timestreams?
Professor Paradox
Promise me.

Azmuth throws up a shooing hand as he departs the room.

Azmuth
Fine.

[Stepping into the halls, Azmuth spots a tall and wide, gruff, teal-skinned humanoid. They have a thick, deep-blue mustache. The door to ER-2 is open in front of them, and inside, a much smaller Sludgepuppy races for the lowered hospital bed belonging to Howitzer. The Sludgepuppy, Howitzer’s mother, is sobbing and irate.]

Howitzer’s Mom
How dare you! Who here is in charge! My son had to lay here in this hospital ALONE and die ALONE.

The taller teal humanoid quietly steps over to the bed belonging to Tack.

A tall, lizard-esque doctor, in head-to-toe hazmat gear, stands near Howitzer’s mother.

Lizard Doctor
Ma’am, I’m sorry, but please don’t put your hand inside the-
Howitzer’s Mom
Or WHAT? I’ll get sick?! My son is GONE!

Rook steps up to her.

Rook
I want to personally apologize for that.
Howitzer’s Mom
And who are you!
Rook
I am Magister Blonko. We spoke on the-
Howitzer’s Mom
You’re the one who took forever to notify any of us parents that our kids were dying!
Rook
I want to take personal responsibility for that, ma’am. We believed, sincerely, that there was a way to prevent this end.
Howitzer’s Mom (shoving him)
How’re your beliefs now?
Rook brushes off his chest.
Rook
We are conducting interrogations. We have followed two separate leads on some of the galaxy’s most dangerous. We are doing everything we can. But we know that that is not enough.
Howitzer’s Mom
Damn right it’s not enough!
Tall, Teal Humanoid
Are they at ease?

The room turns to the towering figure over Tack – his father.

Gwen
I can answer that, actually.

She walks up to Tack and performs a mind meld. Connecting with him, she continues to see Khyber. She breaks the control.

Gwen
Sir, do you happen to know anything about a guy named Khyber?
Tack’s Father/Tall, Teal Humanoid
Is that still on his mind? My word… my Tack’s been terrified of Khyber from the moment he heard of him on the extranet.
Gwen
So… he’s never met him?
Tack’s Father
No, of course not. I struggle to believe Tack would be able to handle him – no offense to my son.
Rook
Ben Tennyson and I barely could, so I am sure he takes no offense.
Gwen
Wait.

Gwen approaches Max. She attempts a mind meld again. With his declining state, he fails to put up a mental defense, allowing her in. Rather swiftly, she is snapped out of the meld.

Ben steps into the room with Mercedes after this.

Ben
Who did you see?
Gwen
I…

Gwen looks to Kevin.

Gwen
Your dad. You look like him.
Kevin
What did you see of him?
Gwen
I saw him… He…

Kevin sighs.

Kevin
I get it, Gwen. You’re good.
Ben
That lines up perfectly.

Everyone looks to Ben.

Ben
I know what did this.

He becomes Dreadsense.

Dreadsense
One of this guy. He used some kind of drug that gave a deadly version of my powers. They’re probably experiencing all of their worst fears, or biggest regrets.

He reverts to human.

Ben
And we could put a stop to it now.
Azmuth (excited)
I’ll get right on it!
Howitzer’s Mom
And while you do that, remember what you did.

Azmuth rushes to another side of the room to mix some vials.

Azmuth
We’re going to need some space.

He feels a hand on his shoulder. He turns around to see the large body of Tack’s father up close.

Tack’s Dad
Please do right by my boy. Don’t make his last thoughts be Khyber. He doesn’t look it now, but I know he’s going to do great things one day. Let him have that chance.

Azmuth nods.

Tack’s father steps out, helping Howitzer’s mother and Mercedes out as well.

Ben steps up behind Azmuth, who is rushing to take care of things.

Azmuth
I’m sorry I didn’t think of this sooner. The Feermodnum DNA sample is still relatively fresh in my mind.
Ben
It’s alright. We’re in the home stretch.
Azmuth
That we are.
Ben
You seem different, Azmuth.
Azmuth
How so?
Ben
You’re… caring. And it feels like you didn’t get the heads-up on all this from Paradox.
Azmuth
I seldom do. But I’ll admit that today I did.

Ben is taken aback.

Azmuth
I begged him to let me change things. He refused. He gave me very scant details. I was so tied up with trying to find a way to make things work out that I didn’t even process the easy answer. I’m so glad you did.

Ben stands back up firmly.

Ben
You don’t know how much I appreciate that, Az-

A flatlining sound can be heard in the room.

The two turn around to see one of the kids – Tack – is now on his way out. The team of doctors races to try to save him.

Nothing.

That low hum proceeds.

Lizard Doctor (to the other doctors)
What’s the time?
Ben
No…

He leans against the wall, sliding down it, unable to hold himself up.

Ben
Tack joined the Plumbers because of me. We trained together.

Azmuth tries not to give it his full attention as he continues to mix vials. Two more kids’ vitals begin to go haywire. Azmuth continues to shake his head, ignoring all that’s going on.

Everything’s going to be okay. Everything’s going to be okay.

Ben (clutching his own head)
How is it that Grandpa Max is the last one up, if he’s so much older than them?
Azmuth
Your grandfather’s a trooper, Ben. If nothing else, we’re going to save him. He’ll need rest no doubt, so I’ve talked it over with Rook, and it should be okay for me to man Max Tennyson’s business front while he recovers. I think-

The previous two kids flatline. The lizard doctor again looks for the time as the final cadets as well as Max begin to seize. Ben, Gwen, Kevin, and Rook all race to his side, while Azmuth continues to try to put something – anything – together to save the remaining Plumbers.

-^v^-^v^--^---v---------

Azmuth drops the vials. They all crack on impact with the floor.

Nothing is okay.

Lizard Doctor
Time.

Gwen throws herself into Kevin, Rook bows his head, and Ben becomes Plasmodic. He stands there, solemnly, not even seeming to realize his transformation. Azmuth comes up behind him. He can hear the voice in the back of his head telling him not to interfere – not to give Ben the transformation Paradox cautioned against.

But there’s no time anymore.

Azmuth pulls up the tower on Plasmodic’s Omnitrix badge and loads in a transformation. Smacking it down, he turns Plasmodic into Abstallion – a horse-like alien.

Abstallion (dull-voiced)
Azmuth, why?
Azmuth
You must save everyone, now.
Abstallion
What? How’s this guy gonna help; he doesn’t do anything?
Azmuth
Yes he does. His only power is to help. He can heal. And even better, he can revive, just shortly after casualties.
Abstallion (every emotion overcomes him)
What?
Azmuth
I know you have questions. I know you have concerns, but please, just do this, now.
Abstallion
How do I-?

He feels energy flow through him. Gwen, Kevin, and Rook take notice of him as his eyes flow between green and magenta, and finally, he rubs his hands together like defibrillators before pulsing life back into Max. He continues this same action for each and every cadet in the room.

Howitzer’s mother has no choice but to burst in and hug him as he comes to.

Azmuth
They’re all going to need plenty of rest before they wake, but they will live. This technique should have successfully cleared their ailments as well.

Abstallion picks up Azmuth and runs into the interrogation room.

Azmuth
Ben, I-
Abstallion (irate)
This guy can heal and revive people and you told me this NOW?!
Azmuth
Yes.
Abstallion
So when I first got him, when Julie was about to DIE, this could have helped? And you lied and made it out as though this guy did NOTHING?
Azmuth
I didn’t lie. I mean, I did, but he would not have helped.
Abstallion
Really? Reviving my GIRLFRIEND would not have helped.
Azmuth
He would not have been able to revive her.
Abstallion
Why? Because it’s been too long? I’m talking about right after it happened. I could have done it!
Azmuth
Ben, no.

Abstallion presses him into the wall.

Abstallion
You’re LYING.
Professor Paradox’s Voice
He’s not, Ben.

Professor Paradox appears in the room.

Azmuth (straining)
Timewalker… please…
Professor Paradox
Let him go, Ben.

Abstallion releases him, dropping Azmuth to the floor. The horse alien, standing on two feet, points to both of them.

Abstallion
You both did this! You both lied!
Professor Paradox
Yes, we did.
Azmuth
What?
Abstallion
You owe me this! Take me back, now! Bring me back to the moment Julie died. Let me bring her back!
Professor Paradox
That will produce an alternate timeline. Yours will go on without you.
Abstallion
I don’t care! I want to be with her!

Paradox swallows then snaps a finger.

[Anur Khufos, the site of the last stand between Albedo and the 10 Squad – consisting of Ben, Verdona, Charmcaster, Gwen, Chelsey and the fallen Julie. Julie lie motionless in Ben’s arms.

As the Ben from the present jumps into the Ben from this past, he lays his slain girlfriend down on the floor and transforms into Abstallion with the Assault Omnitrix Mark III, which has manifested from his time.]

Gwen
I thought he broke the-

Verdona shushes her.

Abstallion
Julie, come back to me. It’s been too long.

The energy flows through his body once more.

Charmcaster
Is he okay?
Abstallion (tears running down his eyes)
Better than I’ve ever been.

He unleashes the reviving pulse into Julie’s body, reverting to human right after and clutching her tightly.

Ben (grinning in ecstasy)
Jules!

The Anodites and magic users behind him stand in confusion.

Charmcaster
Am I the only one not sensing anything here?

Paradox, with Azmuth on his shoulder, manifests.

Professor Paradox
No, you’re on the right track.

Ben pulls away from the hug with Julie’s body, just to see her still lifeless.

Ben (hysterically)
What’s going on? C’mon, Julie, wake up. Does she need to rest first?
Professor Paradox
Ben, Abstallion – or Healding, as you’ll come to call him – cannot bring Julie back.
Ben (exclaiming)
And why not!
Verdona
Because she is not totally alive to begin with. Someone’s been messing with things they shouldn’t be.

She eyes Azmuth.

Ben
I don’t understand.
Azmuth
Do you remember your Mechamorph malfunction that merged Ms. Yamamoto with alien DNA?
Ben
What about it?
Paradox
It permanently altered her. Transformed her.
Ben
I don’t understand. Why does that matter?
Azmuth
Because I made the Mechamorphs. They are artificial. They don’t have mana. When your partner merged with that DNA, it corrupted her very being. The Caballus Stallius transformation revives living things if their mana is still around… from what I’m understanding, she’s not had any for quite some time.

Ben looks his Julie in the eyes.

Azmuth
I’m sorry, Ben.
Professor Paradox
If you’ll all excuse us.
Verdona
We’ll be fine in this new timeline, Paradox.

Paradox nods.

[He, Ben, and Azmuth return to Infirmary One’s office room. Ben is on his knees, still holding his arms up like he was hugging Julie’s lifeless body.]

Professor Paradox
I am truly sorry.

Again unwillingly, Ben becomes Plasmodic.

Plasmodic (on his knees)
You knew.
Professor Paradox
I did. But I promise you there was nothing we could do about it.
Plasmodic
Honestly, I’m beginning to not even care that you know about everything awful that happens, Paradox. You’re pretty much out to get me. But Azmuth… I really thought you’d changed.
Azmuth
Ben, there’s no more secrets between us.
Plasmodic
Because I had to go and find out the last one myself!

Azmuth opens his mouth but Paradox covers him.

Professor Paradox
What can we do, Ben?
Plasmodic
Nothing.

[Ben’s home, Bellwood, in the middle of the night: Ben kicks his shoes off near the front door and proceeds inside. He hears a television on in another room and steps over. His socks mask his footsteps, making him unheard to the watcher. With cleaning supplies in hand, Ken stands in a hallway mimicking a television, playing clips of his time merged with Julie.

Ben races over and hugs him tightly. Ken quickly disables the television and returns to cleaning.]

Ken
Ben, I’m sorry, I-

He knocks the cleaning supplies out of Ken’s hands.

Ben
I’m sorry I made you do this. I know you miss her, too. I’m sorry I blamed you. I know who’s at fault now.

He buries his head in Ken’s surprisingly soft body, weeping inaudibly. Ken, awkwardly, pats the back of his head.

[Null Void Incarcecon: Vilgax and Malevolence sit in the former’s cell, with Grantgrant and Cyanne outside.]

Vilgax
Cyanne, come in here.

Cyanne mentally prepares with quick breathing before turning and going inside.

Vilgax
Give me your hand.

Cyanne shakes. He puts out his left hand and-

Vilgax
The other one.

The Necrofriggian swallows perhaps all the air in the room as he retrieves his left hand while giving out his right. When he pulls it out from under his natural coat, it is covered in a layer of ice. Through the fog of it, his hand beneath is bruised, his fingers bent in different directions.

Vilgax
You poor thing.

He slams the hand into the table. Cyanne nearly yells at the top of his lungs, but Malevolence completely covers his mouth.

Vilgax
Who could have ever done this to you?

[Cyanne, in that moment, is taken back to earlier that day, before Max and the cadets were infected.

Deep Space: A vessel the size of a planet zips away from an interstellar crime scene. An array of Plumber ships are left out of commission, motionless and battered, when a new one pulls into the area.

Inside one Plumber ship, perhaps the most battered of them all with a gaping hole inside, are a few downed Plumbers. A single living Plumber – a blue, fish-like alien – gripping their friend, holds tightly to a button for Plumber communications.]

Fish Plumber
Come in. This is Theta Squad of Sector O, requesting immediate backup. Our ship is down, repeat, our ship is down.

The new ship pulling into the area parks up behind them.

Plumber (gruff voice, on comms)
We read you. Here to help.

The blue fish Plumber rushes them and their friends over to the back of that ship. The doors are let open and they jump inside, where they are met with two suited Plumbers – one, a Mechamorph, and the other, a robot in a cowboy hat.

Fish Plumber
You’re a godsend. Please, we were in the middle of a transport to NVI. We have one in the back who needs immediate attention.

The cowboy alien steps up to the fish and presses against their helmet as the Mechamorph Plumber heads back to the broken ship to grab the prisoner.

Cowboy Plumber (the gruff-voiced one from before)
Sorry, when we said we’re to help, we meant them.

The blue fish, turning red out of fear, gulps.

The Mechamorph drags in the prisoner – Cyanne – who is cuffed, bloodied and wearing a collar to prevent power usage. Touching Cyanne’s collar, the Mechamorph disables the collar.

Fish Plumber (pointing to their friend)
Please, at least save her. She has a family.
Cowboy Plumber
Don’t we all?

He punches the fish’s helmet and kicks them both out of the ship, tossing a blue capsule of his now-infamous Feermodnum drug. The Mechamorph shuts the back door before the capsule begins to spread its gas, watching the gas cloud encase them.

Cowboy Plumber
To the owners of that warship that took all them out, thanks for doing our dirty work. Malevolence, is he breathing?

The Mechamorph – Malevolence in a suit – slaps Cyanne, who coughs.

Malevolence
Enough to get us by. You sure this will work?
Cowboy Plumber
100%.

[The Null Void, about a mile out from Null Void Incarcecon: Their hijacked Plumber ship arrives through a portal that closes right after them.

Inside the ship: The cowboy, who uses his natural powers to hold Cyanne in a frightful daze, provides instructions to Malevolence.]
Cowboy Spider
Alright, turn on the tracking.

Malevolence holds a hand to the ship’s dashboard. After a moment’s tinkering, a radar comes alive with them at the center.

Null Void Incarcecon Baron (over comms)
Tartakovsky, you’re back!

The cowboy rotates a dial on their neck. His mouth, which appears similarly to an air vent, rotates and slides the vents closed.

Cowboy Spider (throwing his voice to a higher, peppier one)
Yes, sir. And we’ve got company.
Null Void Incarcecon Baron
Receiving you.

When they approach Null Void Incarcecon, the top of the dome briefly opens to let the ship in. A number of Barons sit in idle wait for the ship’s arrival, some in confusion. The one that had spoken before on comms is the first at the back of the ship. When the cowboy steps out, he wears similar garb to the Barons – rather than a Plumber outfit. He opens the back door, inside which are Malevolence – cuffed and collared – and Cyanne – simply cuffed, not collared.

Null Void Incarcecon Baron
We thought we’d lost you. You were untraceable for weeks.
Cowboy Spider (in Baron uniform, mimicking the so-called Tartarkovsky)
What can I say, I put up a fight. Malevolence’s “child” here tried his best.

Other Barons begin to walk Malevolence’s copy and Cyanne out to another room.

Null Void Incarcecon Baron
No kidding; he’s finished for this one.

[Shortly after this, the Baron inspects the ship. He finds the extra Plumber suits – a point of confusion as the Barons are to stay in their own uniform – and the body of the real Baron known as Tartakovsky. The Baron instantly sounds the alarm.

The cowboy, still masquerading as Tartakovsky assists with moving Cyanne into place. Malevolence’s slough escapes as the alarm sounds, returning to the real Malevolence. Their merge causes him to short-circuit, briefly flashing between purple and green coloration. Other Barons immediately try to tackle the cowboy, as he makes a mad dash for an exit. He finds himself in the ship’s receiving room, knocking the other Baron down as he gets in the ship and makes a mad dash out.

Said Baron gets back up and uses his staff to fire a beam up at the ship, dropping it to the ground before it’s able to breach the dome. In the brief instance while he falls, he spots both Howitzer outside the dome and the rest of Max’s group. Spitshine, getting followed and dogpiled by Barons, in this instance intends to deploy the other one of his capsules, but due to them piercing his skin, he’d be affected by it as well. Instead, he deploys a cloud of smoke, and in the meantime, dashes for a wall.

Because Feermodnum hail from another galaxy – and thus, Azmuth’s custom-built domes aren’t yet suited to defend against them – the cowboy is able to cut through the dome and exit, making a mad dash for the Plumbers outside. In spite of the risk to himself, he deploys the capsule, because being able to knock out Max Tennyson of all people is too perfect a joy to pass up. The rest is history.

Later that night, when the prisoners are allowed to congregate, Malevolence – fresh out of an interrogation with the Barons – arrives at Vilgax’s table, where Grantgrant is also present. Malevolence comes with Cyanne right behind him.]

Vilgax
They let you go?
Malevolence
They couldn’t prove I was involved. Spitshine was quite thorough.
Vilgax
Was that the embarrassment’s name?
Malevolence
He’s no embarrassment. He’s why we’re really going to get out.
Vilgax
Oh, do tell me what new doomed plan you have?

Cyanne steps out from behind Malevolence. Vilgax immediately jumps to his feet and looks down to him.

Vilgax
Traitor. If all eyes were not on me, I’d eliminate you where you stand. Why is he here, Malevolence?
Malevolence
Show him.

Cyanne, eyeing the Barons first, quickly generates a small collection of ice in his hands.

Vilgax
His powers-
Malevolence
We knew there was a chance this would go south. Once Scarogus gets us our last piece of the puzzle, Cyanne here will be able to break us out quite easily.

Cyanne flinches at the sound of the name Scarogus. In that name he hears the screams of his slain brother, the screams he was forced to hear for untold time when Spitshine overwhelmed him with his fears. In the howling, Cyanne hears the disdain his brother would have for him, if he could see him now.

Vilgax scoffs. He approaches Cyanne and pulls his arm onto the table.

Vilgax
If you step one inch over the line, you will learn that I do not need my equipment. I’m very good at crushing ice. Cross me, and it will be the last thing you do.

He slams Cyanne’s hand, crushing the fingers.

Vilgax
You should put some ice on that.

[In the present, in the gathering in Vilgax’s cell, Cyanne stiffens up so as not to feel the intense pain of the second attack on his hand.]

Vilgax
You poor thing. Who could have done this to you?
Cyanne (holding back tears, muffled)
Why?
Vilgax (standing up)
Don’t ever let someone else – especially Ben Tennyson or one of his lackeys – in here again. Clear?

Cyanne nods, as Vilgax bends back Cyanne’s hand one too many degrees farther than one should.

Cyanne (straining)
Cl- clear.
[END OF PART]

Synopsis

Max and his Plumber cadets are left on death's doorstep by an unidentified Null Void Incarcecon convict. Ben, Gwen, Kevin, and others race against the clock to save him and the cadets before it's too late.

Major Events

  • Azmuth determines that Mercedes Barnes is Dawn.
  • Abstallion/Healding's powers (and final name) are revealed.
  • Azmuth and Professor Paradox confirm they knew Julie was going to die.
  • Azmuth announces he will be temporarily camping out at Max's Plumbing, to aid with Max's recovery, leading into Azmuth's Plumbing.
  • Rook is promoted to temporary Magister for the sector around Earth, continuing into coming episodes as Max recovers.

Minor Events

  • Rook mentions some of the ways this timeline's version of his and Ben's partnership went differently - including, but not limited to, the Faction including Albedo, and Khyber still possessing the Nemetrix (though his mental state had turned to "mush").
    • Khyber is found dead.
  • Ben and Dawn passively re-unlock Muckslide, the Sludgepuppy transformation, from Howitzer.

Characters

Flashback Characters

Aliens Used (by Ben)

Trivia

  • This episode is one of four second run episodes that maintained its original name, alongside Foreverlasting, Malevolence, and Never Set in Stone.
  • This is the first episode to experiment with shorter lengths.
    • Though it is the shortest in number of parts, it is still longer than most episodes from Season 1.
  • Plasmodic is shown to have the ability to be accidentally summoned when its user is particularly irate in other forms or when the Assault Omnitrix is not even active.
  • Offscreen, Azmuth re-disabled Clockwork.
  • Verdona could tell Ben, Professor Paradox, and Azmuth were from the future based on their family signatures.
  • All the characters that appeared in the "flashback" to Ben 10: Alien Universe Unleashed belong to Earth-69 in the sense that this was not a branched, new timeline. Following the return to the present, Paradox fixed that series of events so it would not have an impact on the present day (otherwise, Gwen would know about Healding's powers, which could have been utilized earlier in the episode).
  • Howitzer and "Plumber #1" are based on My Hero Academia characters Bakugou Katsuki and Izuku Midoriya, respectively.
    • Consequently, Howitzer's mom is also based on Bakugou's.
  • This episode began the new trend of episodes having previews, which first occurred as a one-off with Foreverlasting.
Created by COLOR
Alien Universe (BTAU - BiA - SiC) - Clad in Darkness - Benjection - DC's Hero of Heroes
Episodes and Shorts of Back in Action: Alien Universe
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 - Can't Trust the Weather, Man - Plight of Pinocchio - Maximum Slumber - Dusk - Escalation - Malevolence - Never Set in Stone
Season 3 Adrift - Marooned - Hall of Mirrors - Benjamin's Island - Skeletons - ...Enjoy Such Liberty - Welcome to Omnitropolis - Time is of the Essence
Shorts Meet the Fans - Operation Pyros - Moira's Presents - Clock Worked - Unity Broker - Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? - Azmuth's Plumbing - Zennith, Creator of the Omnitrix - The Great Tram Robbery
Unique Aliens in Back in Action: Alien Universe
First used by Super Ben (Assault Omnitrix) Obsorber - Nigester - Plastikitee - Anos - Streak - Bugbite - Muckslide - Autosassin - Ultimate Upchuck - Clinger - Healding - Alkamine - Brawnoceros - Combustiball - Cardstruct - Dreadsense - Frisbit - Koldiak - Plasmodic - Seismix - Wavelength - Warrock - Fetterwing - Suctionrupt
Majestic Forms TBD
First used by Dawn (Alphaline Omnitrix) Vertigo - Starhavoc - Slyt - Blankslate
First used by Future Ben Atomhammer - Ultimate Brainstorm
Characters in Back in Action: Alien Universe
10 Squad Ben Tennyson - Gwen Tennyson - Kevin Levin - Julie Yamamoto - Chelsey Tennyson - Max Tennyson - Cooper Daniels - Ken
Villains Future Ben - Thep Khufan Commander - Scarogus - Dawn - Vilgax - Albedo - Malevolence - Darkstar - Sii - Elena Validus - Dr. Animo - Cyanne - Mistress - Hurricane Vance - Project Inferno - Nightcaster II - Clancy - Metalink
Supporting Characters Professor Paradox - Azmuth - Charmcaster - Eunice - Verdona - Rex - Sir George
Other Timelines/Possible Futures Gwen 20 - Upgrade Ben - Altrazon - Jennifer-Mercedes Tennyson
Groups Second Gynurans (Eli Griswold - Aion) - Omega Squad - Plumbers (Karin Frikton - Io) - Thep Khufan Armada - Board of Galvan
Others Chili - Moira Yourouguaduan
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