|Season 0, Episode XMAS|
New X World
Merry X Mas is a holiday special for the series Tech Cross, taking place before the start of the show.
It was a snowy day in December. The weather was cold, the ground was white, and the drivers were absolutely goddamn insane. In some suburbs built on a hill, there sat a single house with no ice or snow on its driveway. Heated panels underneath the concrete warmed the ground above them, melting away the fluffy annoyance powder before it became a problem.
Inside this house lived Emilia Krauze (or Dr. Krauze if you'd prefer, she wasn't particularly picky), an eccentric inventor with an even more eccentric circle of friends. She walked into the living room carrying a tray of hot chocolate, setting it down on a coffee table in the middle of the room. Sitting around the room were her ten friends, a rather odd collection of people if there ever was one.
They each wore a winter coat over outfits with varying degrees of protection from the elements, none of which seemed quite right for the weather outside. Their names were just as peculiar, seemingly unfit for your standard person; Zephyr Skai, Sonance, Pherop Sophus, Bombay Niki, Gun Ceann, Inoxy Dable, Eva Gen Ion, Selenic, Sansan Torio Torio, and Tenryujin.
In truth, there was a good reason for all these oddities. Emilia's friends were not usually humans, but rather aliens from other worlds entirely. They simply used special switches Emilia had created to assume human form; some just because they thought it was neat, and some because they quite literally could not fit inside the house otherwise.
"Man, being human is so weird, but also like, kinda cool?" Sansan said. "I can stomach stuff I'd never even touch otherwise."
"Like almonds!" Inoxy exclaimed. "Usually all I can taste is the cyanide, but eating them as a human is amazing!~"
"Y'sure humans don't have some sorta eatin' powers?" Ceann asked. "I have yet to come across one organism on this planet y'all'ren't able to munch on in some way."
"That's just kind of what happens when you give apes big brains and a bigger appetite." Emilia said. "They're gonna figure out how to get food out of just about anything!"
"I'm impressed and yet disgusted at the same time." Selenic hummed. "That said, a lot of these concoctions humans have managed to put together are surprisingly enticing, such as this...what is it called again?"
"Hot chocolate." Emilia giggled.
"Yes, that." Selenic took a sip from her mug. "What will they think of next?"
"Are you sure it's okay for us to be using the switches?" Pherop tapped her fingers together. "I mean, ever since the EvoLock system got banned..."
"They're not EvoLocks, they're basically just single-sample Omnitrixes." Emilia said. "Besides, the system isn't totally banned, I just can't make or sell new ones."
"I told you that distribution company you signed with was shady." Zephyr tsked. "Honestly, Emilia, you've got zero ability to pick up on red flags."
"Hey, explains why she's friends with half of us, right?" Eva snickered.
"Which half?" Zephyr raised an eyebrow.
"Come on, it's not all bad." Emilia insisted. "The money I got from the deal let me work on the CrossTrix full-time."
"Oh yeah, how's that going?" Bombay asked. "It's been a while since we sent you the DNA samples."
"It's going pretty well." Emilia replied. "I've got the core matrix up and running already. All it really needs is some extra knickknacks and polish, and it'll be good to go."
"Are you still including the train?" Tenryujin's eyes lit up.
"Well obviously I'm still including the train." Emilia tsked. "How could I not?"
"A train in an Omnitrix." Ceann shook her head with a slight grin. "Only you, Emilia."
"Oh, speaking of your DNA samples, actually, there's something I need to ask you guys." Emilia perked up.
"Which would be...?" Zephyr raised an eyebrow.
"Only the best part of the whole thing: the names!" Emilia clapped her hands together. "What should we call each transformation?"
"We could just use our own names for them since they're copies of us." Pherop suggested.
"Wouldn't that get confusing?" Zephyr pointed out. "Let's come up with something original for each of them."
"Oh, oh, I know what to call mine!" Tenryujin exclaimed. "Daitenryu!"
"You 'n Sonance are the only ones here who live in Japan, so you're gonna have to explain that one to us." Ceann said.
"It means 'Great Heavenly Dragon'!" Tenryujin explained excitedly. "Come on, that's so cool!"
"Can't argue with the facts, it is cool." Emilia nodded. "Anyone else got an idea for theirs?"
"I'm gonna call mine Ferrarachnid!" Inoxy said. "'Cuz, you know, I'm an Iron Spider? Iron, ferro, Spider, arachnid, it's- it's a whole thing."
"Yeah, we get it, 'Noxy!" Eva laughed and jumped up on the coffee table. "I couldn't decide if I should go for 'Neon' or 'Ohm', so I'm doing both at the same time! NeOhm!"
"Well, as long as we're doing portmanteaus, I suppose I'll go with Lunaqua." Selenic took a sip of her hot cocoa. "I quite like seeing Earth's moon; it reminds me of home. What about you, Bombay?"
"Well, I was gonna try and do a combination of 'Duplicate' and 'Cat' but like that would just be 'Duplicat' and I mean that's just the original word without the last letter at the end and-" Bombay started rambling.
"I meant the moon, sweet pea."
"Oh, the moon." Bombay blinked. "Yeah, I like the moon, the moon's nice. Very minimalistic compared to other moons, but that's not a bad thing."
"How about 'Dupligato'?" Emilia suggested. "'Gato' is 'Cat' in Spanish so it basically means the same thing, but it's more unique."
"I like it, I like it." Bombay nodded intently. "Dupligato it is!"
"Speaking of minimalism, I think I'll go with...Bombadier, then." Pherop said. "Like 'bombardier' but without the second 'r' so it's kinda like 'grenadier'."
"Is this just because you like bombardier beetles too much?" Eva asked, now leaning backward over the table.
"They are my angry little bastard children and I love them." Pherop crossed her arms defensively and huffed. "You wouldn't get it."
"Well, you're right about that, sister."
"Sorry to have to blow you all out of the water like this, but let's name mine 'Thermosnap'!" Sansan snapped her fingers. "Controlling temperature like a thermostat, all done in a snap!"
"Straightforward, bold, fashionable!" Emilia imitated a camera with her fingers. "Nothing less could be expected from the infallible Sansan!"
"Oh, make sure to get my good side." Sansan struck an intentionally overdramatic pose as Emilia jokingly pretended to take pictures.
"Since when do you have one of those?" Eva snarked.
"Bite me, Eva, I know you're just jealous of my bomb-ass naming skills." Sansan looked away pointedly in mock offense.
"Alright, I think that just leaves Sonance and I, then." Zephyr said. "Sonance?"
Sonance took a small notepad and a pen out of her coat pocket and scribbled something out before turning the notepad around to show everyone.
"'Burstbox', huh?" Zephyr read from the paper. "It's a play on 'boombox', right?"
Sonance smiled and nodded, quietly putting away the notepad and pen.
"It's down to you, Zephyr." Emilia grinned. "What's your pick?"
"I was thinking...'Skyjack'." Zephyr leaned back in her seat. "Like 'sky' and 'hijack'."
"'Hijack'?" Inoxy giggled. "You doin' something we need to know about, Zeffy?"
"The day Zephyr does something daring is the day Earth's sun freezes over." Selenic quipped between sips of hot chocolate.
"You don't know me, you don't know my life." Zephyr replied. "Maybe I'm secretly the biggest chop shop dealer this side of Khoros, you don't know."
"Okay, that's everyone, then!" Emilia declared. "I should have the CrossTrix done in a few weeks or so."
"But you aren't working on it while we're here, right?" Selenic said. "This is our only consistent yearly get-together."
"Well, duh." Emilia grinned. "I love my work, but you guys are more important."
"Just don't go getting too sappy on us, you hear?" Eva said.
"Sorry, but it's the holidays." Emilia grabbed Eva and yanked her into a surprise hug. "I am legally obligated to be as sappy as possible and there's nothing you can do about it."
"Lemme go, you dork!" Eva squeaked indignantly, trying to squirm out of Emilia's grip. "I don't do physical displays of affection! It ruins my whole 'cool' persona!"
"I think that got ruined last year when you raided the marshmallows and we found you facedown in the snow in a sugar coma." Zephyr said. "Might as well just roll with it."
"I was kinda hoping you'd forgotten about that..." Eva grumbled.
"Sorry, but you can't escape the truth; you're adorable!" Tenryujin giggled.
"I don't wanna be adorable, I wanna be cool!" Eva whined.
"You can be both." Zephyr mused. "Well, I can be both, I don't know about you specifically."
"The important thing is that we have a chance to spend time together." Emilia let go of Eva and smiled. "Life just gets so busy sometimes."
"I kinda have a question about that, actually." Pherop spoke up. "I'm still learning things about Earth's culture, but don't humans usually spend the holidays with their families? Don't get me wrong, I love meeting up like this every year, but if we're intruding on something-"
"You're not." Emilia shook her head. "This was my idea in the first place, remember?"
"Yeah, but still..."
"My family...doesn't talk to me anymore." Emilia sighed. "They haven't since I was eighteen."
"Oh, dearie, you've never told us that before." Selenic looked concerned. "What exactly happened?"
"They have some strong opinions about who I should and shouldn't be 'allowed' to love." Emilia said. "They ditched me as soon as they legally could."
"That's awful!" Inoxy exclaimed. "How could they?!"
"Well, humans are complicated." Emilia replied. "Very few people will do something wrong because they actively seek out being immoral; it's just that different ways of thinking can skew your idea of what counts as right or wrong."
"I think that goes for most sapient species, really." Sansan said. "I mean, that's kinda why all of us came to Earth in the first place."
"Yeah." Emilia nodded. "That's why I think these transformation systems are important; letting people experience life from another angle could really help them open up their minds."
"You think they could help your family understand you better?" Bombay asked.
"Probably not, but that's okay." Emilia said. "I don't think they really want to understand me, and I can't force them to. All I can do is try to help other people out where I can."
"That's kinda depressing, ain't it?" Ceann interjected.
"Yeah, but there's no use moping about it." Emilia shrugged. "Personally, I'm just happy to have you guys with me. You're more of a family than my real one ever was."
"But we aren't even human." Tenryujin tilted her head curiously. "Normally, I mean."
"Doesn't matter." Emilia chuckled. "Humans will pack bond with just about anything. What really matters is how those bonds are formed and expressed, not if there's any literal blood relationship between the parties involved."
"Guess that explains why humans keep so many different animals as pets." Zephyr noted. "Hell of a survival technique, I have to admit."
"Social animals are usually the most successful for a reason." Emilia nodded. "The science of it aside, I'm just really glad I met all of you. My life isn't perfect, sure, but neither is anyone else's. We might not be bound by our genetics, but I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with during the holidays."
"E-Emilia, I need some help here!" Inoxy sniffed, tears running down her face. "My eyes are leaking and I don't think they're supposed to do that! Are they deflating?!"
"They're not deflating, you goofball, you're crying." Emilia chuckled. "It's how the human body responds to excessive emotion."
"That's...disturbing." Bombay commented.
"I guess it would be weird from your points of view, huh?" Emilia mused.
"Oh, so that's what's going on when I finish a concert!" Tenryujin exclaimed. "I thought the audience just put water on their faces as some sort of traditional thing!"
"I think the bigger question here is why your concerts make people cry in the first place." Ceann raised an eyebrow.
Sonance grabbed her notepad again and wrote something down to show to everyone.
"'Her music is extremely powerful'." Eva read off the note. "Of course you'd say that, you're the one who composes her instrumentals. Don't strain your arm trying to pat yourself on the back so hard."
Sonance simply gave a cheeky shrug and put her notepad away.
"Well, unless she maces the audience, I think Sonance has a point." Emilia giggled.
"I dunno, have ya seen Tenry's face?" Ceann tsked. "Way too cute for a dragon. I don't trust it."
"Pretty sure that's her whole marketing strategy." Eva snickered. "Japan goes nuts for the 'cute' aesthetic."
"Yeah, you'd be really popular there." Tenryujin grinned.
"I AM NOT CUTE!" Eva protested, puffing her cheeks out in annoyance.
"Whatever you say~."
"Man, I missed how lively this place gets with you guys around." Emilia laughed, raising her mug in the air. "A toast to just goofing off!"
"To clarify, this is the kind of toast that does not involve bread, right?" Sansan asked.
"Then hell, I'm in." Sansan raised her own mug.
The others all followed suit in raising their mugs in the air and clinking them together, then having a good laugh about it. They continued their conversations for quite a while, telling stories and playfully ribbing each other now and again. They were certainly an odd gathering of wildly different people from wildly different worlds, but at the end of the day, they found a certain sense of kinship in each other.
Emilia may not have been sharing the holidays with relatives, but she was certainly sharing them with family.
- The episode's title is a play on the phrase "Merry Christmas", with "Xmas" being a common abbreviation for Christmas and "mas" alone being an Icelandic word meaning "chit-chat" or "small talk", which is what the episode largely consists of.