|Season 2, Episode 9|
|Air date||October 30th, 2015|
If Earth Could Speak
Picking Up Steam is the ninth episode of Tech 10: Rebooted's second season, and the twenty-first episode overall.
Beholdeth, gathered fair ladies and prim gentleman, the tale of this week hath doth begineth on a peculiareth morning...eth, at the time-eth of seven ‘o clock-e...okay, you know what, I have no bloody idea how Old English is supposed to work, so I’m just going to drop this shtick. Why was I using it in the first place? Well, you’ll see in a minute.
On a rather cloudy fall morning, Tech awoke in his room with a start, groggily sitting up on his bed. Noticing an odd ticking noise, he looked at the nearby analog clock on his nightstand.
‘How odd.’ He pondered to himself. ‘I didn’t think I had a clock.’
As he hopped out of bed, he suddenly remembered where the clock had come from. He had found it broken on the cobblestone streets of his hometown, and had taken it back home to fix it up.
Six years ago.
“Well, this morning is off to an odd start.” He said to himself in a manner reminiscent of Victorian mannerisms, hopping out of bed and making his way to the door. “I suppose I just stayed up a tad too late last night.”
He suddenly paused in the middle of the hallway, thinking for a second.
“Hold on a second, when did I get a British accent?” He grumbled. “And what in the bloody hell makes me think it’s an accent? I’ve been talking this way my whole life!...Haven’t I?”
He swiftly walked over to his bathroom and stepped over to the sink, examining himself in the mirror. Looking himself up and down, he didn’t notice anything particularly wrong. Momentarily breathing a sigh of relief, his gaze wandered down to his arm almost reflexively. As soon as he caught sight of the SpecTrix he whipped it up in front of him as fast as possible.
Instead of the regular smooth, green aesthetic, the SpecTrix now sported a hardwood casing, covered with gold trim and bronze pipes. The touchscreen had been replaced with a pad of mechanical buttons, and the dial glowed a strange yellow.
His mind raced with conflicting ideas and memories, from utter confusion to simple familiarity. After staring at it for a few seconds, he slowly lowered his arm back to his side.
“...What the HELL is going on?!”
After changing into a rather dapper outfit (the existence of which only compounded his confusion), Tech raced downstairs, hoping to leave the house and seek advice from...Aquadilus? He couldn’t quite remember who that was, worrying him even further.
As he leapt to the bottom of the stairwell, he noticed his mother and father seated at the table already, eating breakfast.
“Good morning, Isaac!” His father greeted him. “What has you in such a rush this morning?”
“Oh, he must simply be nervous about the betrothal.” His mother said. “We did spring it on him rather suddenly yesterday.”
“Th-the...the what?!” Tech exclaimed.
“Have you forgotten already, dear? You’re betrothed to be married, once you’ve come of age, to the heir of the Ceres family, Moranna.”
“The union should prove most fruitful to both of our businesses.” His father remarked. “I realize such an arrangement could be seen as too forward, but the times are changing.”
“Ah, yes, Moranna.” Tech said.
The name brought forth two conflicting images in his mind. One of the sweet and very well-mannered young lady he had met yesterday, and another of a quiet, reserved person he had met a few months back that carried a pistol and had run him through with a blade at one point.
“I remember her...I think.”
“Are you quite all right, dear?” His mother asked. “You’re looking rather pale.”
“I’ve simply been in a rather odd state all morning.” He replied. “My memories are a tad scrambled, to say the least.”
“If you’re feeling ill, perhaps we should take you to the bloodletter.” His father suggested.
“No! I mean, no, I don’t think that’ll be necessary.” Tech chuckled nervously. “Besides, I would rather keep all my blood today.” He mumbled under his breath. “Actually, I think I’ll go for a walk.” He said out loud. “That should help clear out my head.”
“Make sure you’re safe out there, dear!” His mother said. “There have been rumors of gangs in the area.”
“Oh, again with this.” His father sighed. “Honestly dear, do you believe all the gossip you hear at your social gatherings?”
“I simply want my boy to be safe!”
Tech turned and walked to the door, eager to leave the house. He swiftly stepped outside and breathed a sigh of relief. As he looked towards the street, he suddenly realized that his relief may have been a bit too presumptuous.
Before him lay a rather impressive courtyard, on the outside of which was a busy cobblestone road that swarmed with fancily-dressed people and the occasional strange vehicle. As he approached the street, he realized that the vehicles were, in fact, carriages; however, these carriages were not pulled by horses, but appeared to be powered by some sort of large, bronze tank laden with pipes and valves. One pipe opened into the air, emitting puffs of steam and smoke.
Tech stepped out into the street and sat up against the fence, trying to get his bearings.
“Okay, let’s think about this.” He said. “You’re in a world that seems half familiar and half nuts. Your memories are also half and half, and whether or not you feel out of place is changing every other minute.”
He looked around himself, examining the crowded, 19th century design of the surrounding buildings, some of which had mechanisms in place that produced the same intermittent puffs of steam and smoke of the horseless carriages.
“Oh, and let’s not forget about the world itself.” He grumbled. “Let’s see here...outdated aesthetic, simplistic mechanics that are somehow still too complicated, old conservative standards of social behavior masquerading as being somehow progressive...holy crap!”
Tech bolted to his feet, snapping his fingers in realization.
“This world is Steampunk!” He proclaimed. “Well, that or Tumblr, but is there really that much of a difference?”
This outburst earned him some strange looks from the crowd, but they swiftly forgot about it and hurried along their way. Tech retreated to the courtyard and thought for a minute about what he should do.
“Surely there’s someone out there who can help me out with this situation.” He said to himself. “Someone who conveniently knows exactly what’s going on!”
As soon as he finished speaking, the world around him suddenly turned a muted gray, slowing to a stop.
Tech turned to see who had spoken, finding a strange man in an odd striped suit standing behind him.
“Hey, it’s The Jester!” He said. “Convenient!”
“What are you doing here?” Tech asked. “And do I actually know you, or is my memory screwing with me again?”
“Both, actually!” The Jester replied. “As for your first question, I couldn’t help but notice you were feeling a bit lost at the moment. Normally, I wouldn’t involve myself in your problems, but this particular problem extends far, far beyond just you this time.”
“So, what’s going on, then?”
“Someone got their hands on something called a Kronis Time Merger.” The Jester’s expression turned serious. “It prevents timelines from splitting wherever it’s detonated. To be succinct about it, for all intents and purposes, someone changed the future, and everything from the original timeline was replaced with this one. The only reason you remember the other timeline at all is because of your exposure to Void Energy, which, in case you forgot, has some very odd metaphysical properties.”
“Wait, so I’m, like...a fusion of two different Techs?” Tech asked.
“Your mind is. Your body’s just the one from the new timeline.”
“Oh.” He paused for a moment. “Hey, if Void Energy makes someone remember their original lives, then doesn’t that mean that the one kid...can’t remember his name at the moment...still has his memories?”
“Napoleon Eldridge.” The Jester clarified. “And yes, he does. I suggest you try to find him.”
“But how am I supposed to find him?”
“This version of you still has a transformation matrix.” The Jester shrugged. “Figure something out.”
With a snap of his fingers, The Jester disappeared from view, causing time around Tech to flow normally again. After taking a few seconds to process all this new information, Tech pulled up the SpecTrix.
“Okay, let’s see if I can figure you out.”
Tech warily pressed a few buttons on the device. After a few seconds of gears whirring, an unfamiliar silhouette popped into view on the SpecTrix dial, giving Tech a rough idea of what he was going to turn into.
“Well, I guess I was half expecting this.” He sighed. “Let’s see what it does.”
He pressed down on the dial, causing a surprisingly noisy ‘click’. The clicking and whirring of various mechanisms could be heard inside the body of the SpecTrix, and after a few seconds, a golden flash illuminated the area, transforming him. The golden light faded, revealing a humanoid alien made of various, mismatched colors and proportions.
The new form seemed to warp his field of vision, making the world around him appear as mismatched and ill-proportioned as he was. People’s bodies were contorted into exaggerated shapes, the buildings around him zig-zagged in structure, and the road looked as if it had been placed on a miniature mountain range.
Moving out of the courtyard and back into the street, he slowly looked around himself in awe. If anyone had noticed him, they certainly didn’t acknowledge it. Eventually, he approached the door to a building across the street.
“Hold on a second, what am I doing?” He asked himself.
After a couple of seconds, a memory of this form’s odd relationship with entryways suddenly sprang to mind, giving him a proper idea of what to do.
“Alright then, if that’s the case, I choose this to be a doorway that leads to Pheonix, Arizona!”
He carefully put his hand on the doorknob, then, breathing carefully as to remain focused, opened the door and stepped through. A wave of heat slammed into his body as the door gradually swung closed behind him. He blinked a few times, then looked around in earnest.
“I probably should’ve been more specific.” He grumbled.
He stood in the middle of a small street that wound through a relatively dingy neighborhood. Trash and coal marks littered the streets, with the only sign of life being the occasional rat scampering through the area.
“Lovely.” He snarked. “Now, if I were Napoleon Eldridge, where would I be?”
After a few moments of thinking, Tech’s focus was interrupted by a massive explosion going off at the other end of town.
Tech quickly turned and opened the door again, this time stepping over to where the explosion had occurred. He emerged into a large square, at the center of which was a tall man in a hulking, steam-powered suit of armor, who seemed to be carrying a crate of stolen goods. Mounted on the armor’s left arm was a still-smoking cannon of some sort. The man was surrounded by police, who were warily keeping their distance.
“Back off or I fire again!” The armored man snapped. “Next time, it won’t be a warning shot!”
Before Tech could do anything, an orb of purple energy suddenly shot from above and slammed into the armored man, knocking him off-balance. The orb was swiftly followed up by a teenager in a modernistic outfit that clashed heavily with his surroundings jumping from a nearby rooftop and summoning a sword, which he used to slice at the man’s armor as he fell. As soon as he hit the ground, the armor fell to pieces, leaving behind a very confused criminal wearing nothing else but his boxers.
“And that is the end of that!” Napoleon declared, dissipating the sword. “I believe you gentlemen can take it from here.”
Napoleon walked off, leaving everyone in the square in a stunned silence. Tech detransformed and ran after him, eventually catching up nearby an alleyway.
“Hey, Napoleon!” He said. “Hold on a second!”
Napoleon stopped and turned, finding Tech standing behind him.
“Oh, hey Tech.” He replied. “What’s up?”
“...A lot of things are up, Napoleon. Very many things are up.”
“What, you mean the steampunk world? I think it’s a nice change of pace.”
“You seem impressively non-flustered.”
“I don’t really do ‘flustered’.”
“Fair enough.” Tech sighed. “Look, somebody used something called a ‘Kronis Time Merger’, and it screwed up the timeline. We need to go back and stop that from happening.”
“But then wouldn’t we not have a reason to go back in the first place, meaning we didn’t stop it from happening, which would give us a reason to stop it from happening, and just sort of continue like that in a feedback loop?”
“In normal situations, the timeline splits when stuff like that happens. If we can disable the time merger, the two timelines will split, and it’ll all go back to normal.”
“Okay, right, second question.” Napoleon scratched his head. “How are we going to go back in time?”
“I have a time alien, remember?”
“Don’t you need Moranna to use her spatial alien at the same time?”
“Yeah, Moranna.” Tech’s expression slowly sunk. “Who hasn’t been exposed to Void Energy...and doesn’t have any memories of the original timeline...and is basically entirely different in this one.”
“Different as in she’s had a stereotypical ‘rich kid’ life in this universe.” Tech groaned. “And as in her rich parents and my rich parents have had us betrothed to improve each others business relations.”
“That does sound awkward.” Napoleon remarked. “On the other hand, this should be fun to watch!”
“I really despise you sometimes.”
Tech and Napoleon, having teleported back to Tech’s hometown using Napoleon’s rift abilities, approached a large mansion in the upscale part of town.
“This is where Moranna lives in this universe?” Napoleon asked.
“According to half of my brain, yes.” Tech replied.
“Seems like a definite step up.”
“Indeed. Anyways, I’m going to need you to hide around the corner or something.”
“I’d say you stick out like a sore thumb, but with that outfit, you make a sore thumb look positively stealthy.”
Napoleon walked off, leaving Tech alone in front of the door. After taking a deep breath, he knocked on the door. After a few moments, the door opened, revealing the mansion’s butler.
“Ah, young Master Logical.” He said, catching sight of Tech. “What brings you here on this fine day?”
“I wish to speak with Moranna, if at all possible.”
“But of course. Come on inside.”
The butler stepped to the side, allowing Tech entry to the house. The main hall was massive, with several hallways branching off from it and a dual-sided stairway leading the upper level.
“Would you like some tea?” The butler asked.
“Oh, no thank you, this is just a quick visit.” Tech replied. “I have much business to attend to today.”
“Then I shall fetch Ms. Moranna for you post-haste.”
The butler performed a quick bow, then exited the hall, heading down one of the hallways. Tech took the time to examine his surroundings, noting the lavishly decorated construction and large painting that dotted the room.
“I really don’t understand the point of mansions.” Tech muttered to himself. “If I’m ever rich, I’m just getting a decent-sized house and a huge-ass swimming pool. Maybe a game room, I don’t know.”
Tech’s mini-rant was interrupted by the tapping of egregiously-fashioned shoes making their way towards the hall. He turned to the source of the noise, spotting Moranna, who sported a fancy dress and high heels. The sheer contrast of her current appearance to the personality of the person he knew simultaneously made Tech uncomfortable and prone to burst into laughter at any moment.
“Good day, Tech.” Moranna said. “What brings you here today?”
“A rather odd sequence of events, to be frank.” Tech replied, barely keeping a straight face. “A quick inquiry; have you noticed anything strange today?”
“As a matter of fact, I have.” Moranna held up her left arm, revealing the AemuTrix’s bracelet component. “I woke up this morning, and this odd piece of jewelry was on my wrist. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it! In addition-”
“There’s an odd symbol on your left hip that kinda look like the one on this thing?” Tech held up the SpecTrix.
“I-hold on, how did you know that?”
“Do you know what a timeline is?”
“I can’t say I do.”
“Then this explanation is going to take a while.” Tech groaned.
“-And so that’s the situation.” Tech finished explaining.
Moranna stood in silence for a moment with a somewhat unreadable expression.
“...Tech, are you well?” She finally spoke up. “To be honest, this all sounds like something a person in the asylum would come up with.”
“Believe me, I know how it sounds.” Tech replied. “But come on, the fact that you suddenly woke up with a transformation matrix this morning has to prove something.”
“What’s a transformation matrix?”
“...Has this me never explained this thing to you?” Tech held up the SpecTrix again.
“’This’ you, so to speak, usually keeps any information about that strange device under close guard.”
“Well, this me sounds like a huge dork. Look, I’ll just show you how it works.”
Tech pulled up the SpecTrix and punched a few buttons on the pad, then transformed into Electrolite. Moranna’s jaw dropped in shock.
“Wh-what is that thing?!” She sputtered.
“This is an alien.” Tech explained. “To be specific, it’s an Amprey.”
“An alien? You mean...life from among the stars?”
“Sha-bingo. In the original timeline, you already knew all this. Honestly, you knew more about it than I did.”
“And you’re saying that the odd device I woke up with allows me to transform as well?”
“Yep.” Tech confirmed, detransforming. “Of course, we’re going to need a specific transformation in order to fix all this.”
“Alright then, if that’s the case, what do I do?”
“You mean you don’t know?”
“We’ve managed to use these forms a total of once, and we still have no idea how that worked in the first place.”
“In that case, what are we supposed to do?”
“I’m not really-”
Tech was interrupted by an explosion from just outside the house.
“Hold that thought.”
Before Moranna could reply, Tech ran out of the mansion doors, spotting a large rift that seemed to lead into parts unknown. Napoleon stood near it, yawning.
“What did you do?!” Tech demanded.
“I got bored.” Napoleon replied. “Figured I might as well open a rift in spacetime to the Time Merger doodad and see where that got us.”
Moranna followed Tech out the door, pausing in shock when she saw the rift.
“Wait, is that seriously Moranna?!” Napoleon asked. “I don’t know whether I should find this whole situation sad or hilarious!”
“Who are you?!” Moranna demanded.
“He’s Napoleon Eldridge.” Tech said, shaking his head in annoyance. “Napoleon, why didn’t you just do that in the first place?”
“This whole situation was a lot funnier in my head.”
“Let’s just head through and fix all this.” Tech groaned. “This outfit is all kinds of itchy.”
“Now hold on, don’t think you’re going anywhere without me!” Moranna interjected. “If this is all happening as you say, I feel I should help return things to normal!”
“The more help we can get, the better.” Tech shrugged. “Alright, let’s head out!”
The three stepped through the rift, arriving in an empty field. Tall grass obscured the ground, and a herd of some large animal could be seen off in the distance. Nearby, a device similar in appearance to a large, metal egg timer was being fiddled with by someone Tech recognized all too well.
“You have got to be kidding me!” He snapped. “The Puppet Master?!”
The Puppet Master, sans his usual headgear, jumped a bit, then turned to find Tech glaring daggers at him.
“What the-How did you find me?!” The Puppet Master exclaimed. “You can’t time travel!”
“I can!” Napoleon said.
“How are you even here?!” Tech questioned. “I saw you die in your stupid giant robot!”
“Giant robot?” The Pupper Master replied. “Die? What are-oh. Oh, I see. You somehow got the memories from the person whose timeline I overruled. See, I’m from the steam-powered timeline, not yours.”
“I guess that makes sense, but, hey, one more question here; why did you merge the timelines?!”
“I needed resources, of course. Do you have any idea how much energy is expelled during the merging of two entire timelines? It makes anything that could ever come from a single timeline look paltry by comparison! And, since I’m the only one who knows about that energy, I’m the only one who can tap into it.”
“Well, you’re certainly not the only one who knows about it now!” Moranna pointed out.
“Correct. That’s why I’m going to have to kill all of you.”
“Bring it on, crab meat!” Tech snapped, pulling up the SpecTrix.
Before Tech or The Puppet Master could lunge at each other, a ball of purple energy soared right past Tech’s head and slammed into The Puppet Master, knocking him out and sending him flying.
“Hey, that was my fight!” Tech complained, giving Napoleon an accusatory glare.
“Sorry, but I just want to get this over with.” Napoleon replied.
He walked over to the machine and summoned his flaming energy sword, aiming it directly at the console.
“Speaking of which-”
Tech’s eyes flew open. He swiftly sat up and looked around, checking his surroundings.
“Normal.” He breathed. “Everything’s normal!”
Indeed, his room had returned to the way it was before this whole mess. He glanced down at the SpecTrix, making sure that it had its normal green shell and blue touchscreen.
“I can’t believe that actually worked!”
After a few moments of relief, a small thought suddenly creeped into his head.
“Although...” He muttered. “I have to wonder what happened to all that energy the Steam Timeline’s Puppet Master was talking about...”
After a few moments, he just gave up thinking about it and hopped out of bed.
“Oh well.” He said. “I’m sure it’s not important.”
- Armored Thief
- The Puppet Master (Steam Timeline)