|WARNING: PROFANITY FOLLOWS|
|The following content contains profanity that may not be suitable for readers of all ages. Please proceed with caution.|
|Air date||6/3/21 (Wiki Time)|
A Certain Proposal
Project Deca: The Final Hour is a sequel film for Project Deca that takes place a few months after the events of the main series.
Certain phrases in other languages will be italicized and appear with a dotted underline, as demonstrated here. Hovering over these underlined words will show a tooltip providing an English translation.
It was thousands of years ago.
Millennia knew that, but she was experiencing it as if it were happening all over again in the present.
She stood atop an ornate stage carved from the earth and built up with stone and dark metal. The stage itself stood in the center of a small field surrounded by a Colosseum-like structure, whose seats were filled with thousands upon thousands of other Chronians waiting for what was about to occur with baited breath.
Murmuring sprang up among the crowd as a man dressed in fine regalia approached the stage, wielding a strange-looking gauntlet on his right hand. He ascended the steps surrounding the platform with a confident air, stepping into the center of the stage and clearing his throat in preparation for speaking to those in attendance.
“Fellow Chronians, we face a great crisis.” The man, named Epact, spoke with a deep, authoritative voice. “Thanks to the negligent actions of our previous Judges, our planet’s resources have been all but exhausted, and even with my current administration’s attempts to restore them, it seems that Chronia will become a dead planet within our generation.”
Another round of whispered murmurs spread throughout the crowd, prompting Epact to raise his hand and indicate for them to quiet down.
“That said, not all hope is lost.” Epact stated once the audience had settled down. “We have had a long-standing tradition against interacting with the residents of other worlds, but as we face our own extinction, our options have become extremely limited. In order to survive, we must take forward action.”
Epact paused for a moment, maintaining a stoic yet complex expression. Millennia knew that look. He wholeheartedly believed what he was about to say, but it was a risky move; for individual Chronians, interacting with alien peoples was largely taboo in and of itself, but for the head of government to announce something like this? It could get him ejected from office, if not worse.
“In order to combat this threat to our very existence, we must finally play our hand on the intergalactic stage.” Epact said. “I am perfectly aware that this in an unprecedented decision, but we are living in unprecedented times.”
Millennia felt her heart jump into her throat. She had been the one pushing for establishing a trade system with other planets in the first place, and after decades of trying to convince him, it seemed as if she had finally made it through to Epact. Their place in the universe was about to change for the better; she could feel it.
“To be blunt, the lesser species inhabiting these other worlds have the resources that we need to survive.” Epact stated. “As such, effective immediately, we will begin assembling an indestructible military force capable of conquering these worlds and driving their possessors to extinction.”
Millennia’s heart dropped from her throat all the way into her stomach as their audience began cheering wildly. This wasn’t what he had promised her; not even close.
As Millennia tried to process the situation unfolding in front of her, Epact created a glowing purple gate to his personal pocket dimension, drawing the audience’s attention back in.
“Of course, I don’t expect anyone to go along with this without proof that it can be done, so I’ve prepared a special demonstration of a new technology created by General Commanding Officer Millennia that will allow us to cleave through our enemies with little issue.”
Millennia’s eyes widened as he pulled up the gauntlet he was wearing. It was a powerful device she had created to protect him from assassination attempts by other Chronians; all it did was cancel out reality-warping abilities such as the time-warping powers their species had been gifted with. What in the name of Chronia was he doing?
Epact reached into his portal and took hold of something inside, allowing the portal to dissipate around it and leave the object he was holding behind.
It was an alien.
Tall, firm in stature, and bearing remarkably defined musculature. Its face bore no features save for two eyes, white as snow, staring out into the distance. Its skin was mesmerizing, sparkling with stars as if the being had been crafted from the fabric of space itself, and the three horns atop its head only served to accentuate the strange being’s majesty.
It stood perfectly still.
“This is a Celestialsapien.” Epact introduced the alien to the awestruck crowd. “An incredibly rare being capable of manipulating reality itself; perhaps one of the most powerful alien species in existence.”
Millennia did her best not to gape at the being standing before her. She had heard rumors of Celestialsapiens from the inhabitants of other worlds, but she had never seen one in person. A being that existed in a constant state of debate with itself, determining the best course of action to take with its nigh-omnipotent powers.
She had long imagined what it would be like to meet one; for her, an entity capable of erasing all of them in an instant if it so desired was both frightening and alluring. Her heart began to race as she experienced a sudden adrenaline rush; she could be seconds away from death, but she had never felt more alive.
It was then that Epact stepped forward.
"Here we have a creature so assured of its own invincibility that it has not bothered to take action against me." Epact announced loudly. "But with the power of this gauntlet..."
Epact suddenly turned around and plunged the gauntlet through the Celestialsapien's neck, decapitating it. Its body spasmed and then collapsed as starry liquid spilled from its neck, covering the stage's floor as the audience gasped.
"The insurmountable are insurmountable no longer!" Epact declared, raising the blood-covered gauntlet into the air. "There exists no being in the multiverse capable of standing in the way of our future! With this campaign, we will ensure that the dynasty of Chronia lives on!"
The crowd cheered, blown away by what had just occurred; to them, Epact had just proven their potential to emerge victorious from the battles to come. The disembodied head of the Celestialsapien rolled across the stage until it hit Millennia’s boot. Horrified by what she had just seen, she slowly looked down at the head.
It had Divara’s face.
Epact turned to Millennia with a satisfied grin.
"And it's all thanks to you."
Millennia woke up with a start, feeling sick to her stomach. Sunlight peeked in between the blinds covering the windows, illuminating the room with soft yellow strips of light. She panicked for a second, realizing Divara wasn’t in bed next to her, but after a moment she caught the scent of eggs frying as it drifted through the air. ‘Divara must be up’, she thought.
‘Divara must be okay.’
She clumsily climbed out of bed and stumbled around a bit trying to put on her slippers. The dream itself may have been fake, but most of what it showed wasn’t. She shuddered as she remembered Epact’s absolute joy on that day, smiling more than she had ever seen as he committed the execution. The execution made possible by her invention.
She shook her head out, trying to focus on what was right in front of her: a wonderful life with an amazing partner. The two of them had begun planning the wedding as soon as she proposed, and the important date was quickly approaching.
She slowly made her way to the kitchen, where she found Divara just finishing up her cooking. She stumbled over and hugged her from behind, burying her head in her back.
"Woah, I didn't even notice you wake up." Divara chuckled, looking over her shoulder. "Good morning to you too, sleepyhead."
"...Hey, Divara?" Millennia mumbled, tightening her grip. "Please...don't ever leave me, okay?"
"What brought this on?" Divara turned around to look at her with a concerned expression. "Is everything alright?"
"I'm just...reliving some memories I'd rather forget."
"I know how that feels." Divara swept Millennia off her feet and held her close in her arms. "But...we're safe now. Everything's okay."
Divara planted a quick kiss on Millennia's cheek.
"And I'm not going to leave you as long as I live." Divara said with a warm smile.
"AaaAAGH WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO CUTE?!" Millennia exclaimed. "We're getting married and I still can't handle it!"
"This coming from the person I'm holding like a puppy." Divara giggled.
"Even your laugh is too adorable, oh my god!"
“Sounds like the pot is calling the kettle black here.” Divara tsked teasingly.
She put Millennia down and began setting the table. Millennia pulled out a chair and lazily plopped down on it.
“I still don’t get it.” Millennia said. “Why go through all the trouble of cooking when you can just snap your fingers and materialize everything?”
“Food I make with my powers never tastes as good as the real thing.” Divara asserted, placing two plates of scrambled eggs on the table. “I’m only half-Celestialsapien now, after all; I can never get the details right.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Millennia wiggled her eyebrows. “You certainly seem to get all my details right.”
“Well, that’s something else entirely.” Divara tried not to laugh as she sat down across from Millennia. “We’re talking about food here.”
“Hey, if you’re that focused on food, you can eat me anytime.” Millennia winked.
“Oh my God, Millennia!” Divara couldn’t hold back her laughter anymore, snickering as a slight blush spread across her cheeks. “Come on, not at breakfast!”
“I’m not gonna lie, I tried to come up with a joke involving the eggs too, but I just couldn’t whip one up.” Millennia chuckled at her own stupid pun. “You know, unlike last night when we-”
“Alright, alright, that’s enough!” Divara put her hands down on the table, still snorting a little bit. “Let’s just eat before these get cold.”
Eating breakfast didn’t take too long despite Millennia’s occasional snort-causing interjections. Divara got up to take care of the dishes, while Millennia opened up her personal pocket dimension and pulled out a small black envelope with silver-engraved cursive text.
“Just one more left to deliver.” She tsked. “He sure doesn’t make it easy.”
"Oh, have you not gotten the wedding invite to Attai yet?" Divara asked.
"No; the guy's always off doing something or other whenever I hit up the Archives, and he probably wouldn’t appreciate me popping in with it while he’s on the job." Millennia sighed. "Honestly, he has zero work-life balance."
"Are you sure he'll even show up?" Divara said. "He's not super fond of you."
"Attai's grumpy, but deep down he’s a big 'ol softie." Millennia chuckled. "He'll probably grumble about it taking time away from his work, but he's not gonna turn down a wedding invitation. Besides, he's kinda the reason we were able to get together in the first place, so I'm not gonna let him get out of taking responsibility for it."
“I guess that’s true.” Divara nodded. “Where do you think he is right now?”
A Kineceleran raced through the streets of downtown Bellwood, weaving in between buildings in desperate hope of losing the helicopters trying to track it. Eventually, the helicopter pilots seemed to lose sight of them as they ducked into an alleyway, passing by overhead without a second thought.
Given a moment to rest, the Kineceleran lurched over backwards as an Ectonurite emerged from their body, accidentally pushing them against one of the walls. The Ectonurite and Kineceleran transformed in a yellow flash and a green flash, respectively, revealing their true forms as humans; a teenage girl named Ann and a teenage boy named Kenny.
"I feel violated." Kenny panted, trying to catch his breath. "And not in the fun way."
"I'm sorry, I panicked!" Ann stammered out apologetically. "We were surrounded, I couldn’t transform into another alien, I didn't know what else to do!"
"I get it, it's fine." Kenny slumped down against the wall. "Just...try to think of something else next time."
"With any luck, there won't be a 'next time'." Ann stuck her head out of the alleyway for a second to make sure they weren't being watched.
"'Luck'?" Kenny chuckled morosely. "You randomly got a Unitrix you weren't supposed to and now the entire Forever Organization is after us trying to get it. I don't really think we can count on 'luck' right now."
"Oh, but I can." Someone chimed in from down the alley. "Well, that and radar."
Ann and Kenny whipped their heads around to find themselves being approached by a silver-haired old man wearing a full-length lab coat over a black shirt and dark gray pants. He pocketed a strange handheld device as he walked.
"And who are you?" Ann demanded, raising her hand over the device sitting on her wrist.
"Call me 'Dr. A'." The old man said.
"'Dr. A-Hole', more like." Ann snarked.
"Cute." Dr. A rolled his eyes. "I am the one who developed that multi-form Unitrix on your wrist, and I would very much like it back before my dimwitted compatriots at the Forever Organization get their hands on it."
"Hang on a second, you made the Super Unitrix?!" Ann exclaimed.
"...You did not name it that." Dr. A scowled.
"And what if I did?" Ann tsked.
"Then I'll feel a little less bad about killing you if I have to." Dr. A narrowed his eyes. "Listen carefully. I can get the...ugh, 'Super Unitrix'...off of your arm harmlessly, and afterward, I have the influence necessary to make all of this trouble with the Forever Organization simply...disappear. All you have to do is give me the device."
"Look, I hate to stereotype, but 'creepy old man cornering two teenagers in an alleyway' is not a look that screams 'trustworthy'." Ann replied. "So with all due respect, Dr. A, I'm gonna have to ask you to fuck all the way off."
"Yeah, I have to agree with Ann on this one." Kenny spoke up, groaning as he pulled himself to his feet. "Give us one good reason to trust you."
"Because if you don't, I'm going to kill you." Dr. A hissed.
"...Do I even need to point out how bad of a response that is?”
"To be blunt, I really couldn't care less." Dr. A said. "One last chance. Hand it over."
"And one last time: no." Ann replied.
"Well, I tried." Dr. A sighed. "Let the record show that this was entirely avoidable."
Dr. A reached up to grab his own face...and pulled.
What seemed to be his face being ripped from his body was revealed to be nothing more than an ID Mask as the device’s cloaking abilities disengaged. Rather than the frail-looking human they had been speaking with seconds before, they were now confronted with a massive, mutated creature that appeared to be a misshapen fusion of alien parts.
“What the fuck is that?!” Ann yelled, jumping back in surprise.
“This is what happens when the development of a transformation matrix goes very, very wrong.” Dr. A growled. “The ‘Super Unitrix’, as you call it, is a prototype of a device meant to return me to my original form and grant me the power of stable alien transformations. The design is imperfect, but until I can complete the full matrix, it’s the only thing I have.”
“Oh.” Ann blinked. “Well, now I kinda feel like an asshole. I wouldn’t want to be stuck as...whatever you are either. You should’ve led with that.”
“Then are you willing to return the device?” Dr. A asked frustratedly.
“I mean...” Ann looked over at Kenny, who gave her an affirmative nod. “I’ve gotten attached to this thing, but if you really can get it off safely and bail us out with the Organization...I feel like keeping it would be selfish.”
“You have remarkable integrity for an adolescent; I suppose I have to respect that.” Dr. A tsked. “Now, reach out your arm, if you would.”
“Hold that thought; something just occurred to me.” Kenny pointed a finger at him. “I totally understand needing to turn yourself back to normal; I get that. What I don’t get is why you need the power to transform into multiple aliens. Nobody else’s Unitrix has that ability.”
“I have my reasons.” Dr. A grunted. “I live in the world of adults; children like you wouldn’t understand.”
“We’re not children, we’re sixteen!” Kenny protested.
“Can you vote?” Dr. A asked flatly.
“Well, no, but-”
“Then screw off.”
“Hang on a second, he’s got a point.” Ann withdrew her arm. “I wanted to use that power to help people. What do you want to use it for?”
“I really don’t feel the need to explain myself to a couple of teenagers.” Dr. A grumbled.
“But not explaining yourself makes you suspicious.” Kenny pointed out.
“Your brains are quite literally not fully developed; why would I trust you to understand my motivations?” Dr. A growled.
“Look, we might not be adults, but we’re not idiots.” Ann huffed, crossing her arms. “Try us.”
“Do you not realize the entire Forever Organization is out looking for you right now?” Dr. A hissed. “We do not have time for this.”
“Then just give us a summary.”
“I cannot recap my entire life’s work in a ‘’’summary’’’!” Dr. A snapped, taking a swing at Ann. “Just hand over that device!”
Ann rolled away from the swing and pulled up the Super Unitrix, hand raised above the dial.
“Sorry, Doc, but you are way too aggro for me to give you this thing without knowing what you want to do with it.” Ann said. “For all I know, you could want to take over the world or something.”
“I work for the Forever Organization!” Dr. A hissed frustratedly. “We already rule the world!”
“Yeah, that’s fair.” Kenny shrugged.
“Still though, I can’t give you the Super Unitrix unless I know I can trust you.” Ann stated firmly. “And right now, you are not coming across as a trustworthy guy.”
“I wasn’t kidding about killing you if I have to.” Dr. A’s eyes narrowed.
“Yeah, see, right there!” Ann pointed at him. “That’s the problem!”
Dr. A growled and lunged forward at her. Ann moved to activate the Super Unitrix, but it seemed as if she might not make it in time.
Just as Dr. A got within range to grab her, however, a mysterious green light appeared between them, and Dr. A was knocked backwards by a motorcycle that suddenly appeared from the light and slammed into his body. The bike’s rider, who seemed none the worse for wear, jumped off and pulled out a device resembling a black-and-white scan gun.
“Damn it all, what is going on here?!” Dr. A snapped as he regained his footing. “Who are you?!”
“The name’s Attai Zehn.” The newcomer replied, twirling the scan gun around in his hand. “I’m here to do my job.”
“Your...job?” Ann questioned. “Man, how did you even get in here?! Did you teleport or something?!”
“Yeah, pretty much.” Attai confirmed. “Seems like I interrupted something.”
“You very much did!” Dr. A chided. “I was just about to get my creation back from that girl when you hit me with your motorcycle!”
“Your ‘creation’?” Attai raised an eyebrow, then spotted the Super Unitrix on Ann’s wrist. “Oh. I was gonna guess you were Kevin, but he doesn’t usually build Omnitrixes on his own.”
“Excuse me?” Dr. A blinked.
“Alright, give me a hint here.” Attai looked at him. “Hit me up with a name.”
“You can call me Dr. A.” Dr. A furrowed his brow skeptically.
“Okay, got it.” Attai snapped his fingers. “Albedo, right?”
“What the-?!” Dr. A stumbled back in shock. “How could you possibly know my real name?! I’ve only gone as ‘Albert’ on this planet!”
“For fuck’s sake, that’s literally just two letters away!” Attai pointed out. “Are there any timelines where you’re not ridiculously incompetent?”
“What is that supposed to mean?!”
“You know this guy?” Ann asked. “What’s the down-low on him?”
“I don’t know him personally, nor do I know this world’s version of him, so...not sure.” Attai tsked. “Here, let me try something.”
Attai closed his eyes and tried to focus. Paradox had insisted he begin training up his psychic abilities more often in order to read people better. He hadn’t been practicing as much as he should have, simply because he could always rely on the CataloGun to help him win in a fight, but at the same time, he did begrudgingly acknowledge that having a reliable alternative on-hand just in case was a wise idea. As such, he focused his mental energy on Albedo, and...
“Okay, yep, can’t get past the wall of self-importance.” Attai groaned, reopening his eyes as he rubbed his temples. “There is way too much to unpack there.”
“What are you talking about?” Albedo’s eyes narrowed. “What did you just do?”
“Tried to read your mind; didn’t work.” Attai shook his head. “I’m psychic, I swear, I just suck at it. If you could just tell me what your deal is, that would be great.”
“Again, my ‘deal’ is that I want my device back!” Albedo snapped.
“How did it even end up with a random high-schooler in the first place?” Attai raised an eyebrow.
“I had to hide it from my fellow organization members, so I snuck it into a batch of normal Unitrixes due to be sent out.” Albedo explained. “This teenager simply received it by chance.”
Attai stared at him silently for a moment before slowly lowering his head and pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Uh...you okay there, dude?” Ann asked.
“I just...” Attai mumbled. “I just get so tired of this shit sometimes.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Albedo scowled.
“Oh, what do you think it means, du fickfehler?” Attai groaned, lifting his head to look at him. “Your solution to your situation was to make it substantially more complicated for everyone involved. Are you high or just unbearably stupid?”
Attai suddenly summoned a card and ran it through the CataloGun before shooting at Albedo. With no time to react, he took the full brunt of the blast, and in a flash of green light-
Transformed back into a Galvan.
“Wh-what on Earth?” Albedo patted down his own body in disbelief. “You...you cured me! I’m myself again!”
“And more importantly, you’re small enough for someone to squish beneath their heel if they wanted to.” Attai pointed out in a threatening tone.
“That...might be slightly problematic.” Albedo hmmed.
“The kid keeps the Omnitrix.” Attai grunted. “You take some responsibility for yourself and fix...whatever this situation is.”
“You can’t be serious.” Albedo spat. “Even if I wanted to do that, being a Galvan again makes me too small to wear my ID Mask. ‘Dr. Albert’ the human commands authority in the Forever Organization, but Albedo doesn’t. What do you expect me to do here?”
“Take this.” Attai ran a different card through the CataloGun and summoned a blue and green palm-sized device with a button on top. He threw it to Albedo, who caught it and gave him a suspicious look. “It’s a SapienSwitch. Piece of tech from Earth-83 that lets aliens turn into humans and back. No ID Mask needed.”
“As much as I hate the idea of actually assuming human form, it would be a much more thorough method of disguise.” Albedo tsked. “Of course, I immediately have to ask why you would give this to me. Or turn me back into a Galvan, for that matter. Is this some sort of trick?”
“I’m not you, so no, it’s not a trick.” Attai snorted. “My job is backing up this timeline into the Archives, and I want to make sure it starts getting cleaned up before I preserve it as-is.”
“Good to know.” Albedo said. “But how do you know I’ll follow through on what you’re asking of me?”
“Because if there’s any sort of enhanced intelligence left in that pea-sized brain of yours, you’re gonna know better than to fuck with me.” Attai knelt down and looked Albedo dead in the eyes to accentuate his point.
“Brain size does not directly indicate intelligence.” Albedo huffed.
“Not the point here.” Attai rolled his eyes. “Just...do whatever it is you need to do here so I can scan this world and move on already.”
Attai raised an eyebrow and lightly tapped on Albedo’s shoulder.
“What’s with him?” Ann asked. “It’s like he got-”
“Frozen in time?” Someone else’s voice came from above them.
A man in black Chronian armor suddenly landed on the asphalt behind Albedo, mimicking Attai by kneeling down.
“So, what’re we lookin’ at?”
“A Galvan who doesn’t know when to shut his mouth.” Attai stood up and crossed his arms. “I don’t want to make any assumptions here, but if you just stopped time and you’re wearing Chronian armor, I think you can figure out what I’m guessing.”
“Oh shit, how’d you know this stuff’s Chronian?” The man spoke through a faceplate on his helmet that was too dark to see through. “I just got here!”
“I’ve met Eon before.” Attai said.
“Wait, really?!” The armored man jumped to his feet. “You know what happened to him?”
“Well, in most worlds, he ends up being defeated by Ben Tennyson and erased from existence.” Attai grunted. “Sometimes an alternate version of Ben ends up taking the name for himself. Why?”
“Who’s this ‘Ben Tennyson’?” The man tilted his head. “Some kind of legendary warrior?”
“Hey, isn’t your dad’s name ‘Ben’?” Ann nudged Kenny.
“Yeah, but I doubt it’s the same guy.” Kenny shrugged.
“Huh. Sucks for Eon, I guess.” The man clicked his tongue. “Boss man is not gonna be happy one of our generals lost a fight against another species.”
“Alright, you’re definitely Chronian then.” Attai nodded. “Follow-up question: how the hell are you here?”
“Oh, we’ve had the tech to send individual Chronians into the multiverse for a long time.” The Chronian shrugged. “Where’d ya think Eon came from?”
“Alright, fair point.” Attai tsked. “Guess that explains all the scouts Millennia mentioned too.”
“Hang on, hang on, hang on, did you just say ‘Millennia’?” The Chronian perked up all of a sudden. “Pink motif, red eyes, carries around a goofy camera?”
“You know her?” Attai asked suspiciously.
“She was one of our generals, same as Eon!” The Chronian exclaimed. “She’s still alive?!”
“Alive and kicking.” Attai sighed.
“Holy shit, that’s-” The Chronian paused as he seemed to suddenly remember something. His peppy body language melted away, making him look somewhat deflated. “That’s...damn it.”
“You feel like expanding on that, or...?”
“Well, see, here’s the thing...” The Chronian sucked some air in through his teeth. “...Boss man wants her dead if she isn’t already, and now that I know she isn’t...I mean, I’m more of a lover than a fighter, y’know?”
“If this ‘boss man’ of yours wants it done, why doesn’t he just do it himself?” Attai questioned.
“He’s, uh... kinda busy at the moment.” The Chronian said
“Busy with what?” Attai raised an eyebrow.
The two of them stared at each other in silence for a few moments.
“...So, uh...” The Chronian cleared his throat awkwardly. “Would you happen to know where Millennia is?”
“Not exactly a fan of her, so no, I haven’t kept up.” Attai grunted.
“Okay, I can work with that, actually!” The Chronian pointed at him. “If you already don’t like her, maybe you can do the job for me! I work in government, I can get you some sick benefits if you do.”
“She annoys me, but not exactly on the level of ‘hmm yes homicide’.” Attai rolled his eyes. “Go find someone else to be your patsy.”
“Hi, yes, excuse me, severely confused teenager cutting in.” Ann waved a hand in the air to get their attention. “What the hell are you two talking about?! Why did Dr. A- I mean, ‘Albedo’, apparently- stop moving all of a sudden? What is anything that is going on right now?”
“Shit, right, totally forgot about you two.” The Chronian smacked himself upside the head. “The little frog guy stopped moving because I froze time. Name’s Gauss, I’m a Chronian, we can do that, it’s awesome, hell yeah.”
“If you froze time then why are we still able to move?” Kenny asked skeptically.
“Well, I actually came here for you two in the first place, so I left you out of it.” Gauss explained. “...No idea how this guy’s moving, come to think of it.”
“I’m a Timewalker.” Attai said. “Not a super experienced one, but a Timewalker nonetheless.”
“Oh, so are you Chronian too?” Gauss asked.
“Human.” Attai corrected him. “Modified chimera of three humans, to be exact.”
“Damn, you’re three people in one?” Gauss looked him up and down. “Never would’ve guessed.”
“If you do it seamlessly enough, there’s not gonna be an easy visual giveaway.” Attai explained. “Not that I would recommend doing it to begin with. Very messy development cycle.”
“I can imagine.” Gauss whistled. “Welp, boss man’s probably wondering where I’m at, so I’m just gonna grab these two and run, okay?”
“You’re going to wha-”
Gauss abruptly teleported behind him, grabbing Ann and Kenny by the back of their shirt collars.
“Nice meeting ya!”
With that, Gauss disappeared in a flash of blue light.
“Oh, Gott verdammt!” Attai yelled.
He jumped out of the time stream after them, tracing their temporal signatures. All four of them suddenly faded into existence inside what appeared to be a massive concrete storage complex. Attai recognized their surroundings as being one of the storage sub-levels of the Cosmic Archives.
Not a good sign.
Attai ducked behind a nearby crate and peeked out to assess the situation. Gauss blinked around the room, hooking Ann and Kenny to a mechanical chair-like setup connected to what looked to be a massive machine in the middle of the hall.
Hooked up in a row next to them were a young adult with green hair and a black and red hoodie swearing up a storm as he struggled against his restraints, a girl with blonde hair and a green outfit that seemed to be in the middle of a panic attack, and another girl with a blue outfit trying to calm her down. Two of them seemed to be wearing some form of transformation matrix, though it was difficult to tell exactly what they looked like from Attai’s position.
“Good grief, Gauss, it certainly took you long enough.” Another Chronian with black-and-yellow armor similar to Gauss’s rounded the corner at the other end of the machine, shaking her head. “I was starting to worry that something happened to you.”
“I got a bit distracted, but I don’t think it really matters.” Gauss replied. “We’re wearing these Multitransference Suits, remember? We can do whatever we want with time.”
“Multitransference Suits?” Attai muttered to himself.
“Then why not just come back to right after the moment you left?” The Chronian in yellow questioned.
“Aww, were you really that worried about me, Era?” Gauss teased, flamboyantly posing against the machine.
“What do you think?!” Era snapped. “All else aside, you’re a third of the governing body! Of course I’d be concerned about you dying!”
“Alright, alright, I got it.” Gauss shrugged. “You know I’m just messing around, right?”
“Well, I’d really prefer if you wouldn’t.” Era grumbled. “We’re in the middle of something here. As soon as Epact arrives-”
“We’re going to get started.” Another Chronian turned the corner of a connected hall and walked up to them.
“E-Epact!” Era jumped a bit. “Would it kill you to stop doing sudden entrances like that?! You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“We have two, so losing one shouldn’t be an issue.” Epact waved her off.
Epact, as he was apparently called, put forth an intimidating presence, standing taller than both Era and Gauss and wearing a magenta-lighted suit of armor that looked like an upgraded version of theirs. A massive crescent-shaped blade was holstered on his back, and he wore an oversized gauntlet on his right arm that appeared to have some sort of gem set into the palm.
“Did either of you find any information relating to Millennia on your excursions?” Epact asked.
“I found this guy in one universe that said he knew her, but he didn’t know where she was.” Gauss shrugged. “She probably never stays in one place for too long.”
“And you’re sure he wasn’t lying?” Epact questioned.
“Not sure why he would.” Gauss shrugged. “He didn’t seem to like her very much.”
Epact stood in silent thought for a moment.
“...I suppose it doesn’t matter in the long run.” He sighed. “I much would have preferred to execute her in person, but it’s not as if she’s going to survive this anyway. Prepare the machine.”
“Okay, I’ve had enough of this shit!” The young adult with green hair suddenly snapped. “What the hell are you people doing?!”
“I have no obligation to explain that to you.” Epact dismissed the question before walking around the to the other side of the machine.
“Get back here, motherfucker!” The young adult yelled. “You can run, but you can’t hide!”
“Don’t worry about him, he’s just grumpy because...” Gauss paused. “Well frankly it’s his personality, but don’t let it get to ya.”
“Alright, then how about you tell us what’s going on?!”
“Alright, monologue time!” Gauss rubbed his hands together excitedly. “Jeez, where do I even begin with this? We-”
“Stop talking or you’re gonna be on this for an hour.” Era grabbed him by the shoulder. “Go help Epact with the calibrations. I’ll be right there.”
“Alright, fair enough.” Gauss sighed before shooting away to the other side of the machine.
“The full thing’s a bit complicated, so I’m just going to give you a quick rundown of what we’re doing right here and now.” Era turned to the captives hooked up to the machine. “This hunk of metal and obnoxious flashing lights is a Cross-Temporal Detonator. First thing we’re going to do with it is punch a hole through to Chronia so we can move out our troops and start clearing out other species. When it’s fully up and running, which might take a while, it’s going to destroy the multiverse as you know it and reconstruct a new one where all the planets are left but only the Chronians remain. That’s a pretty oversimplified explanation, but I think you get the gist of it.”
“Alright, if that’s your plan, why are we here, then?” The green-haired guy demanded.
“Chance, mostly.” Era shrugged. “Your universes just so happened to be bad transmitters blocking the Detonator’s ability to perform a full deconstruction. Since you’re all critical points in your universes, we’re going to have the machine absorb you so it can destroy your worlds correctly. There’s a lot more science behind it, but I don’t think you care about the specifics right now.”
“Not sure how much caring I have left in general right now.” Kenny tsked. “Long day.”
“Long day for all of us, pal.” The green-haired guy sighed before turning his attention back to Era. “Alright, I’m giving you people one warning: if you don’t kill me now, you’re going to regret it.”
“Excuse me?” Era tilted her head questioningly.
“You heard me.” The green-haired guy continued. “As soon as I can reach the Simplicitrix, you’re all getting a fist up your ass that’d make Kermit the Frog jealous.”
“The heck is a frog?” Era stared blankly at him.
They both went silent for a moment.
“Oh, forget it, my genius is lost on you people.” The green-haired guy tsked.
“Well, whatever what you said is supposed to mean, I can guarantee you that it’s not happening.” Era pointed at the straps holding him down. “There’s no way you’re getting to your Omnitrix unless the straps come off, and that isn’t happening until you get absorbed.”
Right as Era finished speaking, a cluster of arcing energy shots flew past her head and scattered, blowing apart the straps keeping the captives hooked to the machine. Era turned to see where the shot had come from and spotted Attai standing up and throwing a card behind him.
True to his word, the green-haired guy pulled up his Omnitrix and moved to slam down on it. Era immediately stopped time, freezing the captives to a halt. Attai pretended to be frozen in place, letting Era get in closer to examine him.
“Who on Chronia is this?” Era looked him up and down.
Gauss emerged from behind the machine to check out what was happening.
“Hey, that’s the guy I just met!” Gauss pointed at Attai. “How the heck did he get here?!”
“Did you accidentally pull him along with you when you jumped?” Era asked.
“I guess that’s possible, but I’m pretty sure it was just me and the two key points.” Gauss shrugged. “He did say he was a Timewalker.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, he hasn’t moved an inch since I stopped time.” Era said. “What kind of Timewalker would do that?”
“One who thinks he’s being clever.” Epact walked over to them with his hands behind his back, then turned his attention to Attai. “I can tell when someone’s faking it.”
“Yeah, that’s probably pretty common for ya.” Gauss snickered under his breath, drawing a quick elbow jab from Era.
“Do you want to end this pointless charade, or should I cut your stomach open to see if the contents will spill out or not?” Epact ignored the comment, unholstering his crescent blade and holding it up to Attai’s neck.
Attai’s only response was to snap his fingers, undoing Era’s time stop and allowing the green-haired guy to turn into a purple version of Four Arms. He promptly grabbed the Chronians by their throats, hoisting them into the air.
“Alright, I’ve got four fists but only three of you to use them on!” Four Arms cracked his neck. “Who’s volunteering for two?”
“I’ll take as many fists as you want if you choke me harder.” Gauss snorted.
“Hey! Try-hard sex jokes are my thing!” Four Arms protested
“Sorry, they just come naturally to me.” Gauss replied.
“This is asinine.” Epact stopped time again and kicked Four Arms across the room.
“I’ll agree with you there.” Attai tsked. “Now, how about you three tell me what the hell you think you’re doing in the Cosmic Archives?”
“Well, why are you here?” Gauss countered.
“I work here.” Attai snapped. “You people, on the other hand, shouldn’t even know about this place to begin with. What gives?”
“Our machine needed to be placed at the center of the multiverse to function properly.” Epact tsked. “This structure just so happened to be here already. After some cursory investigation, we discovered that it had been designed by one of our former generals and was thus compatible with our own Chronian technology.”
“Yeah, of course I have to clean up after Millennia’s bullshit again, that’s just how things work at this point.” Attai grumbled.
“If you have your own grudge against her, perhaps we could-”
“I already offered; he said no.” Gauss interjected.
“And why is that?” Epact narrowed his eyes at Attai.
“This may be an astonishing concept for you, but the solution to a problem is not always ‘murder’.” Attai snarked. “Besides, Millennia’s settled down into a normal life now. She’s not causing trouble for anyone.”
“Hang on, ‘settled down’?” Gauss questioned. “You told me you didn’t know where she was!”
“Astonishing concept number two: ‘Lying’.” Attai held up two fingers to accentuate his point.
“If you’re not planning on cooperating, tell me one good reason I should let you live.” Epact rapped his fingers along the edge of his blade.
“Well, this for one.” Attai snapped his fingers.
“Uh...” Attai tried snapping his fingers a couple time. “Hang on a minute, this usually works.”
“If you’re trying to undo my time stop and unleash these humans on us, I’m afraid it isn’t going to work.” Epact held up the gauntlet on his right arm. “I took the liberty of activating this after I stopped time.”
“Um, Epact, you know that takes away our powers too, right?” Gauss gestured between himself and Era.
“You two won’t be needed for something this simple.” Epact raised the Lunar Blade in the air, preparing to strike. “Just use the opportunity to secure the prisoners again.”
Epact lunged forward and swung the blade at Attai, only for it to stop moving several inches from his chest.
“What?!” Epact pulled at the blade, attempting to dislodge it from whatever invisible force had taken hold of it. “What is this?!”
“That is me giving myself a throbbing headache trying to use the telekinetic powers I technically have but have never trained.” Attai grit his teeth, trying to focus as pain ripped through his head. “Probably a bad idea on my part.”
“Indeed.” Epact kicked Attai in the gut, making him lose his concentration and allowing him to retrieve the Lunar Blade. “But trying to defy my machinations in the first place was likely an even worse idea.”
Epact clenched his gauntlet’s fist, increasing its effects. Attai found himself unable to move, his Timewalker abilities having been fully overpowered. Epact tried once more to deliver the finishing blow, but was interrupted as Professor Paradox suddenly appeared in the room.
“Well, now, it looks like we’ve certainly found ourselves in quite the curious predicament.” Paradox briefly noted before turning to look at the machine. “Oh dear, that’s not good.”
“What the-” Epact struggled to find words, caught completely off-guard by the Professor’s presence. “Who are you?!”
“Professor Paradox, at your service.” Paradox took a small bow. “Well, not your service specifically, as that would be rather counterproductive, but I am here nonetheless.”
"How can you still use your timewalking abilities within the Nullifier Gauntlet’s range?!" Epact demanded. "Explain yourself!"
"I'm afraid you have the wrong impression of me." Paradox replied calmly. "I don't have any sort of abilities; I'm just a very learned man."
With that, Paradox disappeared, bringing Attai and the Chronian’s captives along with him.
“...A ‘learned man’, are you?” Epact tsked, powering down his gauntlet and ceasing his time stop. “In that case...”
He looked up at the ceiling separating him from the rest of the Cosmic Archives.
“I suppose I have much to learn for myself.”
“Okay, Professor, do you mind explaining was in der Hölle just happened here?”
Paradox, Attai, and the Chronian’s captives had all suddenly appeared in the courtyard of what could only be described as a small mansion, the bricks comprising it being stained with a light touch of red. A small artificial river flowed on either side of the central walkway, separated from them by long, thin patches of flowering gardens.
“It seems as if we’ve stumbled into what some might call a ‘worst-case scenario’.” Paradox stated. “The Chronians are returning.”
“Yeah, I was able to gather that much already.” Attai pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “What I’d like to know are the specific-”
“Professor Paradox?” Ann had pulled herself to her feet, catching sight of the Professor. “What’s going on?”
“Ah, Ann Declanson, good to meet you formally.” Paradox nodded at her.
“Huh?” Ann furrowed her brow in confusion. “Do you not remember meeting me?”
“You met a different me than the me I am now.” Paradox explained. “You and I may have met, but I and you have not.”
“That’s...not all that helpful.” Anne said.
“He means you met a version of him from a different universe.” Attai sighed. “Can we cut the vagueness for once and just get to the point? Why’d you bring us to Earth-83?”
“Earth-83?” Four Arms stomped over to them. “You mean like that Earth system in capeshit?”
“More or less.” Paradox shrugged.
“As to the point, then, I brought you all here because those Chronians present a grave danger to the multiverse as a whole.” Paradox continued. “Earth-83, as I’m sure you’re aware of, Attai, is currently home to an individual fairly experienced in anti-Chronian warfare.”
“Oh, Gott verdammt.” Attai grumbled. “Do we really need to involve her in this? I could just go back to the Archives and use one of those evolved Celestialsapiens we’ve scanned to clear them out.”
“Assuming you manage to work around Epact’s Nullifier Gauntlet, I’m sure you could.” Paradox said. “Under ordinary circumstances, that is.”
“You still have the CataloGun on you, correct?” Paradox asked.
“Well, yeah, don’t know why I’d let go of it in the middle of a situation like that.” Attai held up the device.
“Try summoning a card, if you will.”
“Okay, but I don’t know what kind of point you’re trying to-” Attai paused, noticing that the CataloGun wasn’t receiving any data. “...You know, you could have just told me something happened to the gun.”
“The CataloGun should be operating just fine, actually.” Paradox corrected him. “The Archive’s communication modules have been turned off. No data can currently be received or transmitted by it.”
“Wait a second, they had enough time to cut off the power to that?” Attai’s brow furrowed. “Just how long were they in the Archives before I got back?”
“Oh, about 24 hours or so.” Paradox replied. “I evacuated the rest of the staff as soon as they arrived.”
“Why’d you do that?” Four Arms scoffed. “Just gang up on ‘em and kick their ass!”
“Save for Attai here, our Archivists are...well, Archivists, not warriors.” Paradox said. “You wouldn’t send librarians into combat against a military squadron, would you?”
“You don’t know me, you don’t know my life.” Four Arms huffed, crossing his bottom set of arms. “Maybe I would. You don’t know.”
“We get it, you’re ‘quirky’.” Attai rolled his eyes at Four Arms before turning back to the professor. “Okay, so what’s next?”
“You and I are going to have a talk with Millennia.” Paradox answered. “Our interesting cast of friends here will have to wait for us until we’re done.”
“You can’t seriously be suggesting we leave them outside unguarded while the Chronians are still looking for them.” Attai gestured at the group.
“Of course not.” Paradox shook his head. “We’ll bring them inside with us.”
“And as for guarding them?” Attai said. “Divara’s not exactly a warrior.”
“Dunno who that is, but if you’re looking for warriors, Kenny and I gotcha covered.” Ann delivered a confident thumbs-up.
Kenny shot her a flat look.
“...Yeah, no, get someone else.” He grunted.
“Like who?” Attai huffed. “I can’t summon anyone right now, and this Earth’s own heroes aren’t gonna have any better of a grasp on this than any of you do.”
“Actually, I believe there is one particular person from this Earth who would fairly easily understand the situation at hand.” Paradox noted.
“Really?” Attai raised an eyebrow. “And who would that be?”
Theo-4 and Nova-4 sat inside the living room of the mansion with the rest of the matrix wielders as Paradox and Attai were speaking to Millennia and Divara.
“So, uh...” Nova-4 looked over at Theo-4. “How do you know this guy?”
“Remember how I said sorting out the Aeron situation involved a mask, an Anodite, and a cranky German dude?” Theo-4 responded.
“He’s the cranky German dude?”
“Right on the money.”
“Okay, what exactly makes the two of you qualified to be our bodyguards?” The green-haired guy snorted, having transformed back from Four Arms while entering the house. “You look like a couple of Hot Topic rejects.”
“I’ve slaughtered better men than you with less effort than it’s taking for me to put up with this conversation.” Theo-4 replied flatly.
“In all fairness, he has a point with the Hot Topic thing.” Nova-4 shrugged. “I just think we make it work.”
Over with Attai and the professor, all obligatory introductions and greetings had been made and they were currently discussing the situation.
“Alright, I understand most of what’s going on, but I have a question about this ‘Epact’ person.” Divara said. “You said his gauntlet can nullify all spatiotemporal abilities, but how exactly does that work? Different Earths can have different ability mechanics, so it can’t be effective everywhere.”
“It’s basically a combination of various ability nullifier technologies from across the multiverse.” Millennia explained. “On top of that, since it’s focused on one specific set of abilities, it has much higher performance in that area than more general ability nullifiers would.”
“Wait a second, how do you know that?” Attai’s eyes narrowed.
“Well, I, uh...” Millennia began to sweat nervously. “...I’ll talk about that with you and Paradox in private.”
“Just them?” Divara looked at her with a bit of confusion.
“Unfortunately, the more you know, the more danger you’re in.” Paradox quickly interjected. “Your Celestialsapien abilities only work inside Earth-83, and since we’re dealing with timewalkers, you could very easily be at risk if they happen to target you.”
“I...guess that’s true, but I still want to help.” Divara looked concerned. “If this involves Millennia, then it also involves me.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Millennia reached up on her tiptoes and gave Divara a peck on the cheek. “I’ll be fine, I promise.”
“If you want to help, you could try sealing this place in a dense temporal pocket.” Attai stated. “Just something cut off enough from the outside that the Chronians won’t be able to follow our temporal signatures.”
“Well, it’ll take some work, but I can handle that.” Divara said. “Just...let me know if you need me for anything, alright?”
Professor Paradox nodded and led Attai and Millennia into an adjacent room, closing the door behind them.
“Oh my lord, thank you for the save, Paradox.” Millennia heaved a huge sigh of relief. “I had no idea how I was gonna answer that.”
“You two wanna tell me what’s going on, or am I just going to have to guess?” Attai asked flatly.
“Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure of Millennia’s reasoning for this, but she seems to be taking the situation quite seriously, so I decided to play along with it.” Paradox answered.
“Oh, for the love of...” Attai punched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Okay, Millennia, how about you tell us what’s going on, then?”
“The truth is...I’m the one who made the Nullifier Gauntlet.” Millennia confessed after some hesitation. “I created it for Epact when I was still a general in the Chronian military.”
“Let me guess, that’s why all of them have Multitransference suits too, right?” Attai tsked.
“Early models based on more traditional Chronian designs, but yeah, that’s why they have them.” Millennia sighed. “They’re from before I invented the modular system, so the don’t have any unique functions.”
“Alright, that much makes sense, but something still doesn’t add up.” Attai pointed a finger at her accusingly. “If you’re the one who made their stuff in the first place, then doesn’t that give us an advantage against them? Why try to keep all this secret from Divara?”
“I designed the Nullifier Gauntlet not to have any weaknesses, so no, it doesn’t give us an advantage there at all.” Millennia said. “The thing is...I created it to basically make Epact invincible. He tested it by executing a Celestialsapien in public. I just...if Divara found out...I don’t know if I could live with that.”
“Okay, let me get this straight:” Attai cleared his throat. “You want to keep information about a weapon that could kill her a secret from her because of...bad optics? Are you fucking high?”
“Like you would understand.” Millennia scowled. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to have had so much of your life dedicated to a bad cause?”
Attai turned around, banged his head against the wall a few times, and looked back at Millennia while throwing his hands out to the side.
“I realized right after it came out of my mouth.” Millennia coughed awkwardly. “Still, it’s just...I never thought I'd find something worth settling down for, but Divara...she means the world to me right now. We have something amazing, and I don't want to ruin it like I've ruined everything else. For me, that means leaving everything from my past behind so she never gets caught up in my bullshit."
"I understand the sentiment, but 'your bullshit' is coming for you whether you like it or not." Attai replied. "If you don't get this taken care of, it's not going to turn out well."
"But if Divara knew what I did, what would she-"
"Divara is quite literally responsible for the end of the fucking world." Attai snapped. "I think she might understand your position!"
“Let’s settle down a bit, Attai.” Paradox spoke up. “Millennia, while I sympathize with your situation, a good relationship cannot be built while hiding things from each other.”
“I don’t want advice on that from you of all people.” Millennia shot him a look. “Have you ever even been in a relationship?”
“Well, no.” Paradox replied. “That said, I’ve never flown a helicopter before either, but I can still tell you it’s going to crash if the rotors suddenly fly off.”
“A relationship is not a helicopter!” Millennia snapped, throwing her hands up in exasperation.
“Oh, come off it, you know what the point of the metaphor was!” Attai hissed. “Not that you even give a shit!”
“Attai, don’t-” Paradox tried to interject.
“No, I’m done screwing around like this!” Attai continued, glancing at the professor before turning his full attention to Millennia. “The bottom line here is that the multiverse is in danger, those kids out there are in danger, Divara is in danger, and it’s all because of your selfish bullshit! Bullshit that everyone else has to clean up for you as usual! What the fuck is wrong with you?!”
A tense silence fell over the room as Attai began pacing frustratedly.
“...I’m sorry.” Millennia mumbled.
Attai stopped pacing.
“I’m sorry.” Millennia repeated, a bit louder this time. “I never meant for any of this to happen.”
“Well, it did.” Attai’s brow furrowed. “So what are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know.” Millennia slumped down to the floor and buried her face in her hands. “I just...I don’t know. Everything I do makes things worse for the people around me. I thought I could settle down with Divara and just live my life without fucking things up from now on, but all of a sudden it turns out I fucked all that up too and I didn’t even know it.”
Millennia lowered her hands from her face, still bending her head down to try and hide the tears that were forming in her eyes.
“Divara’s in danger because of me, and I just...I feel fucking sick inside.” She continued. “The truth is, I’m scared. I’m more scared than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m scared that something I did is going to end up killing the only person I have, and I’m scared because I have no idea what to do about it. If I could erase myself and everything I’ve done from existence, I would, but I can’t. I can’t erase it and I can’t fix it. So I’m trapped by it. And it’s my own goddamn fault.”
The room fell silent again for a moment. Attai turned away from Millennia and looked out the one window illuminating the space, resting his hands on the windowsill with a defeated sigh.
“I really wanted to hate you.”
“...What?” Millennia looked up at him.
“I really, really wanted to hate you.” He turned back around to look at her. “You’ve caused so much pain and so much suffering, I’ve been wishing I could just write you off as a bad person and that would be the end of it.”
Attai closed his eyes and began rubbing his left temple.
“But every time.” He grunted. “Every. Single. Time. Every time you’ve done something bad, you’ve done something good along with it. You tried to stop me from fighting the Unendlich Reich because you were worried about my safety. You sold off Archive tech to the Nazis so you could get something that let you fend off an invasion of the multiverse. You pissed me off every god damn step of the way, but in the end you showed up for the final battle against the Reich to help fix your mistakes. And now...this shit.”
Attai paused for a moment, tapping the fingers on his temple against his head.
“If there is literally anything you can do to help us, then for the love of God, help us.” Attai concluded. “But even if there isn’t, we’re still going to protect this life you’ve built for yourself anyway. Against my better judgment...I can’t just sit back and watch all of it go up in flames.”
Millennia gave him a slight, wearied grin.
“I knew you were a big 'ol softie."
“Never mind.” Millennia stood up and wiped the moisture from her eyes. “If we’re still alive at the end of all this, there’s something I need to give you.”
“As long as it’s not another problem, fine.” Attai sighed. “Let’s just get all this taken care of ASAP.”
The three of them left the room, emerging into the main hall only to find everyone staring at them awkwardly.
“...What?” Attai asked.
“You...know these walls aren’t soundproof, right?” Theo-4 spoke up. “We were able to hear literally everything you just said.”
“Right, I guess in hindsight we probably should’ve considered that.” Attai sucked some air in through his teeth before pausing and turning to look at Paradox. “Come to think of it, why’d you lead us into the closest possible room if you wanted to have a private conversation?”
“I didn’t.” Paradox shrugged. “As I said, I believe that a good relationship cannot be built while hiding things from each other.”
“Motherfucker, you set me up!” Millennia exclaimed in disbelief. “You sneaky son of a bitch!”
“I am quite the tricky individual sometimes, aren’t I?” Paradox tried to maintain a generally neutral expression but couldn’t help smirking a bit.
Millennia moved to respond but paused as she saw Divara walking towards her.
“It’s okay, Millennia.” Divara pulled her into a tight embrace. “It’s okay. You don’t need to hide this from me.”
“Attai’s right, I’m really in no place to judge.” Divara pulled out of the hug, keeping her hands on Millennia’s shoulders and looking at her with a soft grin. “Even if I was, I love you, dumbass; I want to help you.”
The green-haired guy made a gagging face, prompting a swift glare from Nova-4. Attai sighed and scratched the back of his head.
“Well, as long as that’s settled, we still have work to do.” He stated, cracking his neck. “First thing’s first:”
He pointed at the group of Omnitrix users.
“We need a debriefing.” Attai said. “All of you, into the living room.”
“Do we even have a living room?” Millennia asked Divara, who simply shrugged in response.
“It’s a goddamn mansion, how could you not have at least one living room?” Attai questioned.
“I mean, we might, but it’s not something I specifically considered making this place.” Divara said. “If we don’t, I can just add one.”
“I kind of doubt that will be necessary.” Attai sighed. “With how big this place is, you’ve gotta have one somewhere.”
Epact tossed two CataloGun-like devices with jet-black color schemes to Era and Gauss, respectively, with both guns having highlights that matched the color of their user’s suit lights.
“Uh...what are these?” Gauss looked over his with a bit of skeptical caution. “They look like the gun that white-haired guy was using.”
“That “white-haired guy”’s name is Attai Zehn, and he may present us with a serious problem if left unchecked.” Epact stated, pulling out a matching gun of his own. “I built these based on the schematics for his device.”
“Jeez, how much info have you gone through already?” Gauss whistled.
“Enough.” Epact stated bluntly. “Speeding up your personal timeline in order to learn faster is a paltry trick even a child could pull off.”
“So you’re saying you-”
“I’ll stop Gauss from making the obvious joke here in order to keep this conversation moving.” Era interrupted him. “What’s the issue with this ‘Attai Zehn’ person, and what exactly do these guns do?”
“Attai Zehn is a Timewalker born under unique circumstances.” Epact said. “Actually, as another one of Millennia’s mistakes, as it so happens.”
“You gotta elaborate on that real quick because I know it’s probably not what you meant but you’re making it sound like she forgot to use birth control.” Gauss interjected.
“Long story short, she ended up trading some of her tech with a human political group in order to obtain the Cross-Timer and wipe out our scouts.” Epact explained. “The humans attempted to create a superhuman with timewalking abilities using the technology. Attai Zehn is the only surviving product of their experiments.”
“And how strong is this ‘superhuman’ relative to us?” Era asked pointedly.
“His timewalking abilities are lacking, but he would be largely immune to our temporal abilities and able to hold his own in direct combat.” Epact said. “That’s what the guns are for.”
“You want us to pop a cap in his ass?” Gauss twirled his around in his hand.
“Hardly; these CataloGun Drauzaz, as I’ve named them, are to be used for enhancing your own abilities in the field.” Epact tsked. “Millennia had the foresight to exclude certain key pieces of information from her blueprints just in case, so I had to improvise. They’re not capable of transformation, but I was able to create a workaround by having them directly transmit ability data from Archive categories, so that much is hardly a concern.”
“Y’sure you didn’t just exclude transforming because of your hate-boner for aliens?” Gauss raised an eyebrow.
“As much as I dislike the idea of using alien bodies, I am not an idiot, Gauss.” Epact snapped. “If I had the means to counter our enemies as directly as possible, I would use them.”
“Wow, you are really serious about this, then.” Gauss whistled. “But if you’re fine with taking advantage of aliens if you have to, wouldn’t it just be easier to call off this whole invasion thing and ask the people running this place for help getting Chronia back into proper space? I mean, they gotta have the resources.”
“I believe I have made it perfectly clear that I will not sink to the level of begging inferior species for help!” Epact growled. “We do this our way, the Chronian way! We do not beg, we conquer!”
“Look, I don’t like the optics of it either, but think about what we’re really doing here!” Gauss scowled. “We all want to save Chronia, but how is starting a war that’s going to cost us thousands of lives a good solution for our problems?!”
“Gauss, that’s enough.” Era interjected worriedly. “Epact must have his reasons, so don’t-”
“Oh, I know he has his reasons, I just think they suck!” Gauss snapped.
“Is that right?” Epact narrowed his eyes. “Tell me, Gauss, what exactly do you think those reasons are?”
“If you really gave a shit about Chronia you’d have been using our Entry Gate for diplomacy instead of sending out scout after scout knowing they’d be killed to stop you from starting your shitty fucking war!” Gauss hissed. “You’re willing to do anything to save our planet except bow your fucking head a little! This isn’t about saving the Chronian race, this is about you saving your own fucking pride!”
Epact activated his gauntlet and lunged forward, pinning Gauss to the wall by his neck.
“My pride is the pride of Chronia itself!” Epact growled. “You may not care about the traditions of our people, but I do! What’s the point in saving Chronia if we have to discard everything it stands for to do it?!”
“’Tradition’ says my head should be on a fucking pike right now, so yeah, I can’t say I very much care for it!” Gauss wheezed out. “If you’re that set in your ways, then why the fuck am I still alive right now?!”
“Gauss, don’t-” Era unsuccessfully tried to interrupt.
“Come on, asshole!” Gauss snarled. “Kill me right now! If you’re willing to throw Chronian lives away for the sake of ‘tradition’, then prove you fucking mean it! Kill me, you son of a bitch!”
“I take orders from no-one, least of all you,” Epact loosened his grip, allowing Gauss to fall to the floor. “And turning you into a martyr isn’t exactly going to help the situation. Just do what I say, or else.”
“Or else what?” Gauss’s eyes narrowed.
“You know what.” Epact grunted. “Now, if you’re quite finished wasting my time, I’d suggest you and Era go out and retrieve those Omnitrix users post-haste. Your Drauzaz should make it a menial task at worst.”
“...Fine.” Gauss spat as Era helped him to his feet. “I’ll do what you want, but afterwards, I wash my hands of this.”
“You’re free to whinge all you want afterwards.” Epact waved him off. “As long as you manage to do your job.”
Gauss shot him one last dirty look before teleporting out in a blue flash.
“I-I’m going to go with him.” Era said. “Strength in numbers and all that.”
“Again, do whatever you want as long as you get the job done.” Epact sighed. “I really couldn’t care less about the specifics at this point.”
Era nodded and vanished in a yellow flash, leaving Epact alone in the Archives.
“Alright, if we want to get you out of this alive, I need to know what kind of people I’m working with here.”’
Attai stood in the center of the newly-created living room, with the Chronian’s former captives scattered around the room in various seating.
“I’ll introduce myself first, then call on people around the room.” Attai said. “The name’s Attai Zehn; you may or may not end up hearing that introduction a lot. I’m an archivist for the Cosmic Archives, the place those Chronians hijacked to keep you in. I am a Timewalker with minor psychokinetic powers. My ‘Omnitrix’ is the CataloGun Zwei, which lets me use the powers of anything stored in the Archives’ database. Any questions?”
“Yeah, do you fuck?” The green-haired guy piped up.
“Oh, look, someone volunteered to introduce themselves next.” Attai scowled at him. “And for the record, no, I do not. Not interested.”
“Whatever floats your boat.” The green-haired guy shrugged, pulling himself to his feet. “Name’s Alan. I got a ghost living inside my head and a huge dick; please note that the ghost has nothing to do with the size of my dick.” Alan cracked his knuckles and pulled up his transformation device for everyone to see. “This here’s the Simplicitrix. Lets me turn into a bunch of different aliens and kick some major ass.”
“What aliens do you have access to exactly?” Attai questioned.
“Oh, for the love of-.”
“I’ll go next to give you a more simple answer.” Kenny interjected. “Name’s Kenny. Friends with the mildly intimidating blonde over there.” He gestured towards Ann with his head. “I’ve got one alien. Kineceleran. Runs fast. Decided to call it ‘XLR8’. Basic stuff.”
“Well, there have been worse lineups, believe it or not.” Attai tsked. “Next, uh...”
“I’ll go.” Ann stood up. “My name’s Ann. I’m a high school student from Bellwood. I have some sort of special Unitrix that turns me into different aliens; problem is, I can’t control what I’m going to turn into when I activate it. I’m pretty sure there are ten of them in total, but I don’t know how useful it’d be for me to list them all off for you.”
“Just...just do it.” Attai began rubbing his temples with his eyes closed.
“Well, okay, I guess.” Ann shrugged. “Hardback, Knockout, Frostbite, Gigabit, Deadspace, 4WRDS, Big Brain, Flytrap, Nova, and Frenzyplant. If any of that means anything to you.”
“It gives me a general idea of their powers.” Attai explained. “Now, you two.” He pointed at the blonde-haired girl with a green outfit and the girl with blue hair wearing a blue outfit. “You’re up.”
“I’m Sasha, and this is Serena.” The blue-haired girl said, gesturing to herself and her companion. “I don’t have any powers, but Serena has this awesome bracelet thing that turns her into cosmic entities or something!”
“It’s...more like they use my body as a host and make me watch from the sidelines.” Serena mentioned. “I’m not really sure how to explain it any better than that. Either way, each transformation lasts for ten minutes exactly. No more, no less.”
“Well, I’m a timewalker, so hopefully we can abuse the shit out of that time limit.” Attai muttered in thought. “Names?”
“It seems like they’re named after the planets in our solar system.” Serena replied. “Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter...you get the idea.”
“That tells me less than nothing.” Attai sighed. “So in total, there are...nine?”
“As far as I know.” Serena nodded.
“Actually, if they’re based on the planets from our solar system, there should only be eight of them.” Alan interjected. “Pluto’s a dwarf planet, and if we counted all of those as normal planets, we’d have, like...I dunno, a bunch of extra planets. Kind of a stupid-ass system you’ve got going on there if you ask me.”
“I didn’t make the rules for this thing, you know.” Serena’s head sunk into her hands. “I never wanted any of this to happen in the first place.”
“Come on, man, seriously?” Ann scowled at Alan as Sasha gave Serena a comforting hug.
“Now hang on a minute, that is not what I thought would happen.” Alan put his hands up defensively. “I was just trying to say something obnoxious so I’d get a response like ‘shut the fuck up, Alan’ and it would be this whole fun comedic routine. Just trying to lighten the mood a little.”
“If that was your intention, you just did the equivalent of trying to start a dead car by throwing a battery through the windshield.” Attai rolled his eyes. “At any rate, people, we need to focus. Right now the CataloGun’s a bust and I haven’t practiced my psychic powers for shit, so I’m gonna need all of you in tip-top shape if we’re gonna survive this.”
“Well, we’ll do our best, but Kenny and I are technically on the run from a huge shadowy organization controlling everything from behind the scenes so, you know, we’re just a tad stressed right now.” Ann said.
“I always kind of expect things to go wrong, actually, so I’m not that shaken up about it.” Kenny sighed. “I am here if you want to talk about it, though.”
“We’re fugitives, Kenny!” Ann threw her hands in the air. “What else am I supposed to say about it?!”
“Not exactly what I meant.”
“I hate to say it, but Sasha and I aren’t in a great situation right now either.” Serena spoke up. “We got kidnapped by space pirates and they’re forcing us to help them return all the treasures they stole, and we keep almost dying while we’re doing it. Not good for the whole ‘anxiety’ thing.”
“Gott verdammt.” Attai pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration, then looked at Alan. “What about you? Any complicating factors I should know about?”
“Well, I’m terminally horny, obnoxiously meta, and like I said earlier, I got a ghost living in my head.” Alan shrugged. “That last one might be an issue if he takes over at some point.”
“Let me guess, he’s not very friendly?” Attai sighed.
“He ain’t no Casper, that’s for sure.” Alan whistled. “Other than that, ehhhhhh, I’m good. Even if all else fails for whatever reason, I can always fall back on my rugged good looks and charming personality.”
“’Charming personality’?” Theo-4 grunted. “Listening to you talk is like rubbing sandpaper in my ears.”
“I notice you aren’t denying the whole ‘good looks’ thing, though.” Alan shot him a finger gun and a wink.
“That much is subjective.”
“Any luck?” Millennia asked, walking into the room with a hand behind her back.
“Good luck or bad luck?” Attai replied wearily.
“Fair enough.” Millennia chuckled. “Well, I just brought you something that might tip the scale towards ‘good’ for ya.”
She pulled out her hidden arm, revealing a familiar-looking belt.
“Is this...a DecaSystem?” Attai asked incredulously as she handed it to him. “...Why?”
“DecaSystem Zwei, baby!” Millennia snapped her fingers with a wink. “I based the look on your original system, but it’s a bit different on the inside. The Ride Caller connects straight to the Archives to summon a copy of the DecaCycle on command instead of summoning the original vehicle. Since it, you know, doesn’t exist anymore and all.”
“That...actually sounds pretty convenient.” Attai admitted with a sideways nod. “But what’s the core unit on the front for? The original let me summon the CataloGun and find Key Events, but you put both of those functions into the CataloGun Zwei.”
“Take another look at the belt.” Millennia said. “The original DecaSystem didn’t originally have the belt, remember? That was part of the Multitransferance Suit.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.” Attai hmmed. “Doesn’t answer my question, though.”
“Just put the belt on, ya goof.” Millennia grabbed the belt out of his hands and threw it around his waist. As soon as the end of the belt was buckled into the core unit, it automatically adjusted itself to fit Attai and generated his old Multitransference Suit onto his body.
“Okay, guess that should’ve been obvious.” Attai tsked, looking himself over.
“Your Multitransference Suit is tech from me, not the Unendlich Reich, so it didn’t get erased with the rest of your original gear.” Millennia explained. “All I had to do was figure out how to compact it a bit.”
“Since I don’t need this thing to protect me from temporal recoil anymore, I’m guessing this is just to let me use the modules for it.”
“Yep!” Millennia grinned. “Haven’t made any combat modules for it since the Unendlich Reich thing blew over, so you’ll have to work with what you’ve got, but the UAF and OS modules should still be useful.”
“Right.” Attai nodded. “Looks like we might stand more of a chance than I thought.”
“You look like a dork.” Alan snorted.
“Pot, kettle.” Theo-4 rolled his eyes.
“Alright, people, let’s get moving.” Attai said. “We’ve got some Chronians to beat so you can all get back to your own worlds.”
“You say that, but do you actually have a plan to do it?” Alan asked lazily. “Heading back to the Archives seems risky, and it’s not like they’re going to show up right at our front doo-”
“Don’t you fucking dare finish that sentence!” Attai snapped. “You know exactly what that’s going to do!”
“Uh, yeah, and I want to get a move-on already.” Alan tsked. “I think I got enough of it out to work.”
“Guys, we have company.” Millennia suddenly snapped to attention as she felt two temporal signatures arrive right outside the mansion.
“Bingo.” Alan snapped his fingers.
“If the Chronians don’t kill you, I’m going to.” Attai shot Alan a death glare before turning to address the others. “Alright, looks like we’re moving out earlier than I thought. Stay close and stick together. If you do that, we might just have a chance here.”
“Attai, one last thing.” Millennia pulled a small slip of paper out of her personal storage dimension and handed it to him before leaning in and whispering something in his ear.
Attai looked at her and nodded, taking a moment to store the paper in his own pocket dimension.
“Alright then, Theo, Nova, you two stay here with Millennia and Divara in case they somehow get inside the mansion.” Attai cracked his knuckles and stepped out of the living room into the entry hallway, turning to look at the door. “The rest of you are with me. Paradox, you should-”
Attai paused as he noticed Professor Paradox had apparently disappeared.
“Well, I’m just going to trust that you know what you’re doing.” Attai sighed. “Everyone else? It’s go time.”
“That’s strange.” Era said. “I could’ve sworn I sensed her temporal signature around here.”
She and Gauss were standing right outside the mansion, not that they knew it; Divara’s concealment of the building meant that, as far they were concerned, they were just looking at an elaborate courtyard with no house to match.
“Nah, you’re right, it’s strong as hell.” Gauss noted. “Seems like it just kinda cuts off somewhere.”
“Millennia’s slippery as all get-out.” Someone tsked from behind. “It’s kind of a pain.”
Era and Gauss turned around to find Attai and their former captives lined up together in front of them.
“It’s time for some payback.” Alan grinned, slamming his fists together. “Nobody ties me up except for my girlfriend and my succubus!”
“Your what?” Attai looked at him wearily.
“My girlfriend.” Alan repeated.
“The other thing.”
“Hey, she’s my friend and she needs to feed.” Alan put his hands up defensively. “It’s a strictly platonic fucking.”
“There is...” Attai pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “So much to unpack in that sentence.”
“So, uh, are you guys here to surrender, or what?” Gauss tilted his head sideways. “Because honestly that would be great.”
“In theory, we’re here to fight you.” Attai grunted. “In practice, I might have an aneurysm before we get the chance.”
“Oh, suck it up, ya big baby.” Alan pulled up the Simplicitrix and selected an alien. “Let’s get this over with so we can all go home.”
Alan slammed down on the Simplicitrix dial, creating a red light that consumed him as he transformed. When the light faded, a decayed human-like organism was visible for a split second before a containment suit resembling a cross between a plague doctor suit and a cowboy generated over its body.
“If we’re still doing the name thing, I call this one ‘Chemarro’.” Alan’s new transformation whipped a gun out of a holster underneath his coat and pulled a red syringe out from the underside of his mask. “Wanna see something cool?”
Chemarro put his gun up to the underside of his mask and breathed out, creating an icy vapor that condensed inside the gun’s chamber to form a bullet. He took a moment to spin the gun around in his hand before aiming at at Era and Gauss.
“The most breathtaking draw in the west.” Chemarro cracked his neck. “You may be slick, but I doubt you’re bulletproof.”
Chemarro fired, his perfect aim swiftly made pointless as Era and Gauss sped up their personal timelines. From an outside perspective, they were moving too fast to see, but for them, they were simply able to step out of the way as casual as they come while the bullet passed by them at the pace of a flying snail.
With its intended targets now elsewhere, Chemarro’s bullet continued across the courtyard until it hit a brick wall, which promptly froze over and started to crack.
“Well, that’s disappointing.” Chemarro grumbled.
“If speed’s the game, then I guess I’m up.” Kenny sighed, stepping forward and pulling up his Unitrix. He slammed down the dial, transforming into XLR8 with a green flash and racing at the Chronians.
Unfamiliar with Kinecelerans, Era and Gauss tried the same sped-up timeline trick to dodge, and were caught off-guard as XLR8 ran up to them at what seemed like a normal speed and used his whip-like tail to knock them to the ground.
“Can’t say I was expecting to get whipped by a large blue reptile today, but life is full of surprises.” Gauss grunted, pulling himself to his feet. “What’s with that thing?”
“Kenny’s got the right idea.” Attai advised the rest of the group. “If they stop time outright, I can restart it, but I can’t cancel out their effects on their own personal timelines. Speed’s the way to go.”
“Wish I could guarantee you a Kineceleran, but I’ll see what the Super Unitrix can pull up for me.” Ann pulled up the Super Unitrix and hovered her hand over the dial. “Come on baby, mama needs a new 4WRDS!”
She slammed down on the dial and transformed into...a Florauna.
“Frenzyplant.” She shook her head in frustration. “Figures.”
“We can work with this.” Attai interjected. “But instead of moving around, you’ll have to stay in one spot.”
As Attai explained his plan to Frenzyplant, Sasha hugged Serena and gave her a reassuring pat on the back. Serena took a deep breath to calm herself down and shot Sasha a thankful smile before tapping on the Solar Bracelet. Her body was replaced by that of a faceless, purple, humanoid entity with star-dotted skin and three horns adorning its head.
“Purple?” Sasha blinked. “Um, if you don’t mind me asking, who are you?”
“Aye, the name be Neptune, lassie.” The purple being replied. “The intrepid sailor that crosses the ocean of time with the winds of entropy!”
“You don’t look like a sailor.” Sasha raised an eyebrow.
“Aye, it be a metaphor, lass, it’s not meant to be taken so seriously.” Neptune tsked, turning to face the Chronians. “What should be taken seriously are these damned fools attempting to defile the sacred seas. On me honor as a sailor, I cannot stand for it!”
“Hold your horses, I still gotta pick something.” Chemarro tsked, tinkering with the Simplicitrix dial on his hat. “I could turn into my own version of XLR8, but I don’t want to look like a copycat.”
Chemarro suddenly froze in place, his eyes turning purple as the other red accents on his body turned lavender.
“This is hardly the time to worry about your image.” Chemarro seemed to be talking to himself. “Either way, choosing a speed alien right now would be redundant. If they’re going to abuse their temporal abilities, then so are we.”
Chemarro abruptly transformed into a lavender version of Clockwork, once again with purple eyes instead of the Simplicitrix’s usual red.
“Let me guess.” Attai tsked. “The ghost in his head?”
“My name is Pride.” Clockwork hissed. “And seeing as how I’m stuck inside this idiot, I have the unenviable task of trying to keep him in one piece.”
“Hey, you all know I’m still fighting these guys, right?!” XLR8 snapped right before Era and Gauss hit him with a double punch to the gut, knocking the wind out of him.
“All of you, back up Kenny.” Attai ordered, grabbing a module out of his personal storage dimension. “I’m right behind you.”
He slammed the module into his belt, turning his suit black and white as the OS module’s unique function activated, allowing Attai to foresee everyone’s movements as phantom-like afterimages a few seconds in advance.
Clockwork sped up his own personal timeline and dashed in, ramming his metallic body straight into Era and knocking her back a few meters. Gauss’s attempts to intervene were thwarted by Neptune abruptly freezing the air around him, trapping him in a thick layer of ice.
“Aye, ye might want to stand back!” Neptune advised, prompting Clockwork and XLR8 to retreat.
Neptune released his powers’ grip on the air, creating a violent shock wave as it abruptly re-expanded and assumed its normal temperature. Gauss froze time to escape from the middle of the shock wave, but wasn’t able to entirely evacuate the blast radius before Attai restarted time, sending him flying across the courtyard before ungracefully slamming into the ground.
“Time to use the Drauzaz?” Gauss groaned, painstakingly pushing himself to his feet.
“Time to use the Drauzaz.” Era nodded as she climbed to her feet herself.
The two of them summoned their respect Drauzaz, drawing a surprised look from Attai.
“Where the hell did you two get CataloGuns?” His eyes narrowed.
“Epact swiped some ‘prints Millennia made and remixed ‘em.” Gauss tossed his from hand to hand. “Can’t do as much as the original, but they can do this:”
Gauss summoned a card and swiped it through the side slot of his Drauzaz. He tossed the card back into the ether as he pulled the trigger, creating a directed sonic boom that slammed into Attai’s group, knocking them each back a bit and disorienting them. Era took the opportunity to summon and swipe a card of her own, firing off a blast of pressurized water that pushed them back even further as it swept them off their feet and slammed them into the ground.
The only one still standing was Neptune, who had erected a wall of heat in front of himself that boiled away the water before it could hit him. As the wave of water ceased, he released this effect, creating a minor implosion as the expanded air suddenly reverted to its normal cooler state.
“Aye, don’tchya be gettin’ too cocky now, fellow sailors.” Neptune declared loudly. “Mister Jones comes for us all some day, that be true, but ye’d be wise not to make that day today.”
“Okay, normally I’d try to go for some kind of witty comeback, but I’m honestly just happy I got a death threat that didn’t involve my identity for once.” Gauss nodded to the side a bit. “It’s oddly vindicating.”
“Hey, I hate to interrupt, but...” Attai groaned as he pulled himself to his feet. “Neptune, do you think you could push them east by about...I don’t know, three steps?”
“Aye, sure, but why did ye say ‘east’ instead of ‘left’?” Neptune questioned. “We’re facin’ the north, so it’d be the same thing.”
“Wait, our left or their left?” Sasha paused to ask as she was squeezing water out of her ponytail.
“So we didn’t have to go through that routine.” Attai grunted. “Just do it.”
Neptune nodded and dove towards Era and Gauss, whose attempts to dodge to the side were foiled by the air in front of them suddenly freezing and explosively expanding outward again, forcing them into position. As soon as their feet made contact with the ground in the designated spot, a massive flytrap emerged from the earth, trapping the two of them inside its teeth.
“Well, would you look at that?” Frenzyplant peeked her head out of a nearby tree. “Gonna be honest, kinda thought you forgot about me for a second.”
“Well, things could’ve gone more smoothly.” Attai flipped open a slot on his belt and reached into his personal pocket dimension, pulling out the OS module and slamming it into the slot. The green on his suit turned gray as it activated, indicating the suit’s function change. “Keep your guard up, people, all this did was immobilize them; they can still use their powers.”
All of a sudden, two blades emerged from the flytrap, slicing it apart from the inside. As its walls fell away, it revealed Gauss and Era with their Drauzaz in sword mode.
“Oh Gott verdammt, yours can do that too?!” Attai snapped.
“Sure, but it wasn’t easy to activate; we barely had any room in there.” Gauss huffed, shaking plant sap off his armor. “We would’ve just done it as soon as we were grabbed, but we were pushed pretty tightly against other and stabbing ourselves is not one of our priorities.”
“Yeah, I suppose the sword mode does its job, but I think the gun feels better to use.” Era swung her blade around experimentally for a moment before shifting her Drauzaz back into gun mode. “Granted, I didn’t mind being squeezed together with you at all.”
“What?” Gauss looked at her confusedly.
“Hm?” Era abruptly snapped back to attention. “Oh, it’s just... never mind, we have a job to do.”
Era stopped time again, only for Attai to restart it with a snap of his fingers. Era snapped her fingers back, stopping time again for a few brief moments before Attai snapped and restarted it again. Gauss started pitching in, and soon this intense confrontation between Timewalkers began looking more like an off-beat recreation of West Side Story.
“Okay, this is going nowhere fast.” Era sighed in frustration. “We really need to take out Zehn.”
“I’m on it.”
Gauss teleported over to Attai and start attacking him with wild slashes from his Drauzaz. Being able to see his movements ahead of time, Attai was able to counter Gauss’s strikes long enough to switch out the OS module for the UAF module. Gauss managed to get past Attai’s defense just as the UAF module activated, turning his suit green and making Gauss’s blade bounce harmlessly off his body.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, what the hell is that?!” Gauss exclaimed, jumping back a bit.
“This is what you can do with a modern Multitransference suit.” Attai grinned. “Millennia’s been busy these past few years.”
“Goddamn it, Millennia, why do you keep having to make your stuff so cool?!” Gauss huffed, summoning another card for his Drauzaz. “Epact couldn’t even figure out how to reproduce your guns right!”
“So that’s what happened.” Attai snapped his fingers. “Not sure why he’d think he could do it in the first place.”
“Well, he was Millennia’s mentor before we all got into politics.” Gauss loaded the card into the Drauzaz. “Ran a bar ‘cause he could never sell his inventions, but damn if his machines couldn’t distill the smoothest booze you’ve ever seen.”
“I’d ask how he went from ‘bar owner’ to ‘evil dictator’ but considering the group I came from I don’t think I’m in any place to talk.” Attai sighed.
“What group?” Gauss tilted his head questioningly.
“I was created by the Nazis.” Attai said.
Gauss gave him a blank stare.
“Oh, right, you wouldn’t know what those are.” Attai sucked some air in through his teeth. “Genocidal political party from Earth’s early-mid 1900s. Leader was a failed artist who got into politics and weaseled his way up to the top.”
“Hang on, Epact called you ‘one of Millennia’s mistakes’.” Gauss pointed at him. “What’s that about then?”
“She’s the one who gave them the tech to create me in exchange for some Chronian weapon called the Cross-Timer.” Attai sighed. “Definitely a bad idea on her part.”
“Holy shit, Millennia’s got the Cross-Timer?!” Gauss jumped back a bit. “Are you serious?!”
“Yeah, why?” Attai raised an eyebrow.
“Gauss, what are you doing?!” Era yelled over to him while slowing down time in front of her in order to dodge an attack from Frenzyplant and Neptune “We’re supposed to be fighting, not talking!”
“Fighting, schmiting, Millennia’s got the fucking Cross-Timer!” Gauss yelled back.
“What’s the big deal about the Cross-Timer?” Attai grunted. “It didn’t do much against the omnipotent beings we fought.”
“Omnipotent-” Gauss’s eye began twitching underneath his helmet. “What the hell have you two been doing?!”
“For the record, we don’t actively team up on things, I usually just end up getting caught in her messes.” Attai clarified.
“Not the point I was making!” Gauss snapped. “How much power do you have?!”
“Well, with the Archive’s communications systems cut off, not much.” Attai sighed. “Can’t summon anything to use in the CataloGun.”
“Wait a second, if the Archive’s communications systems are off and you can’t summon cards for your CataloGun because of that...” Gauss glanced at his Drauzaz, which still had the card he had summoned in the back slot. “Then how are we summoning cards for our CataloGuns?”
An awkward silence set in.
“That...is a good question.” Attai eventually spoke.
“Come on, Gauss, what is taking so long?” Era ran over to them panting heavily. “These shapeshifters aren’t letting up in the slightest!”
“Then how are you-” Attai glanced over at the rest of the group to find them frozen in time again. “Ah.”
“I figured I could get away with it because you two seem more interested in whatever this is.” Era flopped over backwards on the grass. “God, why did Epact think it was a good idea to arm us with sword-guns? We’re Chronians! We’ve never had to use swords or guns!”
“Guess that explains why your attacks with them are so sloppy.” Attai scratched his chin. “Are you two really qualified for this kind of job?”
“Not even a little.” Era panted. “We’re supposed to be bureaucrats, not assassins.”
“Okay, backing up a bit, you said Millennia has the Cross-Timer, right?” Gauss said. “Is there any particular reason she hasn’t just come out and used it to blast us out of existence?”
“No idea other than the fact that she just doesn’t like using it in general.” Attai shrugged. “Are there any reasons you know of as to why she wouldn’t want to erase you?”
Gauss and Era glanced at each other for a moment before pointedly refusing to make eye contact with Attai, who simply rolled his eyes and sighed.
“Alright, if you don’t want to talk about that, maybe we can try and figure out why your CataloGuns are working and mine isn’t.”
“That would be a bad idea on our part.” Era pointed out.
“As well as wholly unnecessary.” A new voice butted in.
The three of them turned to find Professor Paradox casually walking towards them.
“Put simply, Epact did have to turn the Archives’ communications systems back on in order to make the Drauzaz work, but he had the foresight to limit its broadcast to a specific temporal frequency only they could pick up.” Paradox came to a stop in front of them.
“How would you know that?” Gauss raised an eyebrow underneath his helmet.
“Oh, I just paid a quick visit to the Archives’ transmission control room.” Paradox explained. “I was hoping to get the CataloGun Zwei back online, and once I got there, figuring out what Epact had done was as simple as checking the main console.”
“Did he know you were there?” Attai asked.
“Not a clue, as far as I know.” Paradox said. “I assume he was busy tending to his machine.”
“Wait, if you figured that out, then does that mean you-”
Gauss’s inquiry was interrupted as Paradox simply turned and walked off, disappearing into thin air. Attai raised a hand and testingly tried to summon a card.
There was a brief silence as all three stared at the card in Attai’s hand.
“...Oh, shit.” Gauss mumbled out.
He quickly jumped back and picked Era up off the ground, holding her in a bridal carry as he made some distance between them and Attai. He set Era down on her feet, unable to see how heavily her face was flushed underneath her helmet as he kept a wary eye on Attai.
“We don’t get paid nearly enough for this.” Gauss muttered as he set his Drauzaz to its gun mode and took aim.
He fired, sending a massive fireball hurtling towards Attai, who made no attempt to dodge. When the smoke cleared, it revealed Attai’s transformation into Ridejacker, who took a moment to wipe some soot off his shell.
“So, does it go without saying that you guys are fucked, or do I need to emphasize it with a one-liner?”
Gauss responded to the provocation with several more massive fireballs, none of which seemed to have an effect on Attai’s current form.
“Ridejacker’s species hitches rides on the outside of spaceships.” Ridejacker tsked. “Consider the potential ramifications of that before your next attack.”
Ridejacker snapped his fingers, abruptly undoing Era’s time stop and making the rest of his group pause for a second as they looked around, confused.
“Assuming you can get one in, of course.”
“This is bullshit!” Gauss snapped.
“This is just one out of untold billions of alien species.” Ridejacker shrugged. “Chronians may be overpowered as hell, but don’t underestimate the rest of existence.”
“And what’s stopping us from reversing time on your transformation to knock you out of it?” Era asked.
“Nothing other than the fact that you haven’t done it yet.” Ridejacker raised the CataloGun. “Give it your best shot.”
A tense silence set in. Neither side really wanted to fire first, but firing second was an even less ideal course of action. The various Omnitrix users watched from the sidelines, unsure as to whether they should interfere or not.
Gauss summoned a new card for his Drauzaz as Era threw a beam of temporal energy at Ridejacker to reverse his personal timeline. Being reverted back to human, Attai snatched the Ridejacker card as it was traveling backwards through the CataloGun’s side slot and slammed it into the back, punching in the code on the dial pad to activate the gun’s finisher.
"Endangriff!!" The CataloGun announced. "Ridejacker! Bitte seien sie vorsichtig!"
Taking note of this, Gauss decided to load his card into the Drauzaz’s rear slot as well, automatically activating its finisher.
“Saishū kōgeki!” Gauss’s Drauzaz announced. “Rock! Chūi shite kudasai!”
“Leave it for Millennia’s designs to use Earth words as a default, huh?” Gauss snorted.
Attai fired, sending a ballistic burst of wire-like tendrils shooting straight at the two Chronians. Era was able to slow time down enough for Gauss to fire the Drauzaz before the attack hit, sending a cascade of boulders shooting at Attai, but it was too late for them to avoid his attack, resulting in the mass of tendrils slamming into their bodies and slashing several deep cuts in their armor’s plating. The sheer force behind the hit knocked both of them unconscious before they even hit the ground.
As for Attai, he was too focused on making sure his own shot hit to try and dodge. He assume the UAF field would protect him from the boulders, and while it did indeed prevent them from making direct contact with him, it did not stop the momentum of the boulders from throwing him around like a rag-doll caught in a windstorm. His body dropped to the ground as he lost consciousness, and at first, everything went black.
Then, for some reason, he started seeing things again.
Not what was going on around him, but things in places and times he didn’t recognize in the slightest.
Voice: You’re not rid of me yet.
[Alan jumped at the sound of the voice.]
Alan: Not again, damnit. Why are you still in my head? I’m not even alien!
Voice: Given we were both conscious at the time the Simplicitrix transformed us, it probably didn’t differentiate between us. So now, you’re stuck with me, forever.
Alexis: What’s happening?
Alan: The fucking voice is still in my head.
Voice: I have a name, you know.
Alan: No, I don’t know. You never told me. Why would a voice in my head have a name, anyways?
Voice: I’m not a voice in your head! I’m my own being that was trapped in the device on your wrist, and now I’m trapped in your brain!
Alan: So… basically a voice in my head.
Voice: I’m no- Okay, no, forget it. That’s not important. What’s important, is my name is Pride.
Alan: Hold up. Pride? So, we’ve got a Splixson named Envy, and now some disembodied voice, specifically a disembodied voice in my head, named Pride? Is this Fullmetal Alchemist?
Kenny (XLR8): “Ann? ANN? Where are you?” He shouts into the indifferent ruins, searching frantically for his lost friend. A familiar silhouette emerges from the inky night.
Kenny (XLR8): “Ann...”
The green unitrix symbol on his chest flashes red briefly before timing out, reverting Kenny to his human form. As it does, his knees give way to his exhaustion and he collapses to the ground.
Ann runs over to Kenny’s weary body. He had been running all day in search of Ann, first turning Bellwood upside down before speeding blindly towards Los Soledad.
Kenny: “Heh. I found you.”
Ann: “Jesus Christ, Kenny, you had me worried for a second there.”
Kenny: “Don’t you dare… tell me… that you… aren’t hard to find… again.”
Ann: “Sorry, but I just felt like I needed to run away. I just… couldn’t stop, y’know? I didn’t feel safe until I made it here.”
Sasha heard from Qellii that Serena was in the bunks, but when she went down there there was only assorted crew members, including Whyzz the Necrofriggian who told her to “screw off”.
She searched the deck and finally found her girlfriend sitting on the edge of the ship, leaning over. Dangerously close to falling. She stared out into the literal space, taking no notice of Sasha even when she sat down next to her.
“What’s going on, Sere?”
Serena stared for a short while longer and then finally turned, tears streaming down her eyes. “I don’t know if I can do this. It’s just... everything is too much. It’s overwhelming. I’m thousands of millions of miles from home and I’m working for people in the wrong and I’m hurting people and every time I transform to defend myself I feel so disconnected from reality and if I don’t fight I won’t survive and I don’t want to continue with this but I have no choice because I’m being held hostage and if the curse kills all of these people we’ll never see our family again and I don’t even know how I’m breathing on those planets and in space and-” Her words sped up faster and faster beyond comprehension until she just hyperventilated. Sasha pulled her into a hug and she sobbed into her arms.
“S-sorry. It’s so terrifying. All of this. I don’t know what to do.” Serena choked. Sasha thought about what to say, but she didn’t know what to do either. She’d taken this whole thing originally as an opportunity to learn more before they were rescued, but they were in another System now, and it had been over 24 hours. She didn’t know if they were going to be rescued at all. Or when. The crew was less than friendly, and she tried not to think about how hard it would be for them to be found, and that kept her sane.
“I love you. Someone will come and save us soon, I promise.” She assured her.
“I-I love you too.”
Attai suddenly snapped back to reality, cradling his head in one hand as he stood up with a groan.
“The hell?” He muttered to himself. “Wait, was I seeing-”
“You okay, man?” Ann ran over to him. “That looked like one hell of a concussion!”
“I’ve got a headache, but other than that...” He paused for a moment. “Hey, random question, did you and Kenny ever end up in a place called Los Soledad after you ran away from...something?”
“I-what?” Ann looked surprised. “I-I mean, yeah, but how could you possibly know about-” She snapped her fingers. “Right, you said you’re psychic! Did you get your powers working?”
“Unintentionally, but yes, apparently.” Attai grunted. “No idea how to do it again, though.”
“Oh well.” Ann shrugged. “At least we managed to beat the Chronians, right?”
“If you think a temporary KO is enough to defeat a Chronian of all things, you’re-” Attai cut himself off, taking a deep breath to try and calm down. “Put simply, no. We bought ourselves some time to escape, but they’ll be back in action pretty soon.”
“Escape where?” Alan asked as the rest of the group ran over to them. “They can track us down anywhere in the multiverse, can’t they?”
“Yep.” Attai pulled out Imperialance’s transformation dial again. “That’s why we’re not sticking around inside the multiverse.”
It only took a few minutes for Era and Gauss to wake up, but by the time they had regained consciousness, Attai’s group was already long gone.
“Era, be honest:” Gauss groaned as they slowly pulled themselves to their feet. “Do you think we’re gonna survive this?”
“I...hope we’re going to survive this.” Era replied hesitantly. “Then again, if Zehn truly wished to kill us, I doubt he would have passed up on the chance he just got.”
“Zehn isn’t the one I’m worried about.”
The two of them fell silent for a bit.
“...Do you think it’s possible that Zehn might actually...defeat Epact?” Era mumbled out.
“Well, anything’s possible, but probable?.” Gauss sighed. “Not so much. Zehn relies on tech for his powers, and unlike us, Epact knows his way around machines. Personally, I don’t think he stands a chance.”
“...That’s certainly a fair point.” Era hung her head.
“You almost sound disappointed.” Gauss noted with a slight smirk.
“And you’re not?” Era raised an eyebrow.
“At this point, I’ve learned to stop getting my hopes up in the first place.” Gauss replied. “At any rate, we should probably get back to looking for the Key Points so Epact doesn’t have our heads before Zehn’s.”
“The best strategy would probably be to split up so we can cover more ground, but before we do, I want a quick word with you about what happened back in the Archives.”
“Is this really the best time?” Gauss questioned.
“There’s not going to be a ‘best time’.” Era stated bluntly. “Look, I know how much fire you have when it comes to these things, but don’t make any risky moves like that again, alright? I want you to come out of this in one piece.”
“I get what you’re saying, but seriously...” Gauss chuckled wryly. “At this point, Era, I think you’re the only one who does.”
Era grabbed him by the shoulder and whirled him around to face her.
“And why doesn’t it matter that I do?!” Her voice cracked a bit as she yelled.
“Th-that’s not what I meant, Era, I just...” Gauss trailed off and reflected for a moment. “...I’m just having a hard time moving forward.”
“...I-I understand. I’m sorry for snapping like that.” Era sighed and stepped back a bit, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “But even if we don’t have Epact or Millennia anymore, we have each other. If I’m being honest, some days you’re the only thing that keeps me going. So stay safe out there.”
“Well then, same goes to you!” Gauss bumped her on the shoulder. “Don’t go dyin’ on me either, y’hear?”
“Loud and clear.” Era flashed a slight grin underneath her helmet.
The two silently nodded and went their separate ways, searching the multiverse for any trace of their targets.
Attai’s group stumbled through a portal created by Imperialance, leaving Theo-4 and Nova-4 behind to watch Millennia and Divara. The six of them ended up in an alleyway in what looked like a large city carved out of a mountain of marble and quartz, its architecture decorated with golden accents and glowing purple crystals. Roaming the streets were black-haired beings that looked like humans of varying size and race.
“Y’know, I actually have that alien too.” Alan noted.
“’This alien’ was made specifically for me on another layer of reality. How the hell could you possibly have it?” Imperialance glared.
“Oh, CaT made it free-use, so it just got yoinked and given a bad recolor like his other free-use aliens I have.”
“How the hell do you-” Imperialance cut himself off, throwing an arm up in frustration. “You know what, nope, never mind, this is not the time to enable you to make more shitty meta jokes.”
“What is this place?” Sasha asked with a wide-eyed, excited tone as the group peeked out the alleyway.
“This would be Chronia, home of the Chronians.” Imperialance said, transforming back into Attai as the portal closed behind him. “Welcome to the space outside of time.”
“Okay, but if this is the Chronians’ home planet, where are all of them?” Serena asked. “All I see are...humans.”
“Those ‘humans’ are the Chronians.” Attai corrected her, pointing towards one. “Look at the hair. It’s all the same color.”
“What’s so special about having black hair?” Serena blinked. “I see...I...I saw lots of people with black hair back on Earth.”
“Yeah, but for Chronians, they only have the genetics for black hair.” Attai explained. “Which means...”
“We’re gonna stick out like a sore thumb.” Kenny concluded. “None of us have black hair; heck, you’ve got the exact opposite of it.” He nodded towards Attai.
“Maybe we could say it’s hair dye?” Sasha suggested. “I mean, humans don’t have the genetics for green hair, but we’ve got Alan here anyway.”
“Well, Chronians don’t really have hair dye, so that’d be an odd explanation for them.” Attai clicked his tongue.
“How do you know so much about Chronians, anyway?” Alan raised an eyebrow. “Get in a hot tussle with the one in the pink shirt?”
“I’m what you might call ‘asexual’, so I’d certainly hope not.” Attai glared at him. “At any rate, Millennia backed herself up to the Archives as the second thing she scanned. All the data we have on Chronians is from that.”
“So, what do we now, then?” Kenny asked. “You got any aliens in there for turning our hair black?”
“Why the hell would I-” Attai paused. “Actually, wait; I think I do have just the thing.”
Attai’s group strutted down main street almost as if they owned the place, looking so at-home you’d think they’d have lived here all their lives. Their hair had become a solid jet-black color like the other Chronians, and combining that with their seemingly native attitude, they went largely ignored by anyone else out and about in the city.
“Holy shit, I can’t believe that worked.” Alan whistled. “We’re blending right in!”
“Just remember to keep up the swagger.” Attai said. “The more confident we look, the more people will think we belong here.”
“I-I’m trying, but this is really, really hard to keep up.” Serena took deep, shaky breaths, trying to calm herself down. This was a horrible time for a panic attack, but with all the anxiety that they might get caught swirling around in her head, a panic attack is exactly what seemed to be setting in at this point.
“You’ve got a point.” Attai commented, noticing her increased anxiety. “We need to find somewhere to rest and catch our bearings.”
“We’re on an alien planet!” Ann pointed out. “How are we supposed to do that?!”
“Well...” Attai reached into his personal storage dimension and pulled out the slip of paper Millennia had given to him earlier. “I think I might know a place.”
Attai’s group turned onto a small street that seemed to end in an odd, diamond-shaped cul-de-sac of sorts. “Okay, so, seriously, how’d you turn our hair black?” Alan asked. “Some sorta magic trick, or...?”
“No magic, just an old friend.” Attai snapped his fingers, causing a tall, winged humanoid alien that appeared half angelic and half-demonic to appear above the group for a second before fading from view. “Angelion can control light and shadow. I’ve used it myself to create some pretty complex illusions, so something as simple as changing hair color should be no problem for it.”
“What I don’t get is why the hair color was the only thing we needed to change” Kenny interjected. “Why do Chronians look so much like humans?”
“Oh, it’s not just the look, it’s what’s on the inside, too.” Attai thumped on his rib cage a few times. “Internal organs are almost identical. Same goes for their psychology. About as close to 1:1 you can get while still being separate species.”
“More importantly, are they similar enough to bang?” Alan cut in.
“Yes, but you’re not going to get a child out of it.” Attai rolled his eyes. “It’s an example of convergent evolution, not shared ancestry; there’s no genetic basis for them to produce viable offspring with a human without external intervention.”
“Now that’s a good pitch.” Alan grinned. “No way I’d ever cheat on my girlfriend, but if I had to pick a species...”
Ann smacked him upside the head as Kenny rolled his eyes and looked back at Attai.
“Look, I understand the idea of convergent evolution, but this is just ridiculous.” He said. “I mean, seriously, what are the chances?”
“The multiverse is literally infinite, so the statistics here don’t really matter.” Attai tsked. “Besides, being a naked ape with depression isn’t quite as unique as you think it is.”
Attai motioned for the group to stop for a moment and approached the entryway of one of the houses. Much like most of the architecture in the area, the home’s appearance resembled a vaguely Gothic form of moderate Minimalism, which is to say stripped down to the point of being practical but not to the point of inanity.
“Why are we stopping here?” Alan asked. “You got a booty call?”
“Ann, wring his throat for me next time he does that.” Attai clicked his tongue without looking back.
“I can wring it right now if you want.” Ann cracked her knuckles.
“Okay, but fair warning, being choked will make me horny.” Alan interjected.
“You’re always horny!”
Attai groaned and shook his head in frustration for a moment before raising his hand and knocking on the door.
A door that, as it turned out, was made of stone.
“Ach, Scheiße!” Attai hissed under his breath, shaking out his now somewhat bruised knuckles. “Would’ve been nice to get a heads-up about that.”
Nevertheless, a short few seconds later, the door slid open lightly, carried on the track of a mechanism superficially resembling a flattened tank tread. Standing in the doorway was a female Chronian that looked to be somewhere in her forties by human standards, indicating she was at least a few ten-thousand years old.
More importantly, she seemed to bear a striking resemblance to Millennia.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting visitors today.” The woman looked like she had been caught a bit off-guard. “I...didn’t really expect anyone to not be at the capital today, to be honest.”
“Well, we’re not just ‘anyone’.” Attai sighed, handing her the slip of paper from Millennia. “This might give you a rough idea of what’s going on.”
The Chronian woman’s look of surprised confusion quickly turned into one of shock as she read the message on the note. She quickly moved to the side and ushered Attai’s group inside, looking out across the street to make sure no-one was watching before hastily closing the door.
“So...are either of your gonna tell us what’s going on here, or...?” Ann asked.
“Millennia told me that if we got into a tight spot, we should come here with that note.” Attai explained. “Said it’d give us a safe place to regroup and collect our bearings.”
“Okay, but...who’s she?” Serena asked, quietly gesturing to the Chronian.
“According to Millennia, this would be Ke.” Attai replied. “Her mother.”
“After all this time...” Ke shook her head in disbelief, pocketing the note. “Millennia, she’s...she’s still alive.”
“Alive and thriving.” Attai said. “Assuming we can stop Epact, at least.”
“How do you know her?” Ke looked at him with questioning eyes. “Are you close?”
“These kids just ended up in the crossfire of what’s going on right now, so as far as they go, not really.” Attai gestured at the rest of his group. “As for me...well, it’s a long story, but in short, yeah, as much as I hate to admit it, we’re close.”
“In what way?”
Attai moved to reply, but paused as he realized he didn’t have any good way to sum it up.
“...I don’t know if there’s actually a word for it.” He admitted with a shrug. “Since she’s technically responsible for my existence, I guess you could say we’re family in some weird roundabout way.”
“That is...very vague.” Ke pursed her lips. “But sending you here with that note means she’s trusting you with her life right now, so the full story can wait. Catch me up on what’s happening out there.”
“Hang on, what did she say in that note?” Ann interjected. “It’s not a very big piece of paper, but it’s gotta say something pretty important if you’re immediately willing to trust us.”
“’Butterfly’.” Attai grunted. “It says ‘Butterfly’.”
“It’s a code word she took from the name for an Earth insect.” Ke explained. “It means that she’s in danger and she and her companions need a place of refuge.”
“I’m afraid she won’t be joining us for now, though.” Attai sighed. “She’s bunkered down in a safe zone on Earth-83. We’ll meet back up when we have a plan to defeat Epact.”
“Okay, but why ‘Butterfly’?” Ann scratched her head. “Seems kinda random.”
“I think it makes sense.” Sasha said, then turned to talk to Ke. “See, butterflies start out as chunky little worm things called 'caterpillars', but eventually build a cocoon shelter around themselves and emerge from it as butterflies. I think it's a metaphor for emerging from shelter stronger than when you went in!”
"A bit flowery, but I wouldn't put it past her." Attai scratched his chin. "She is pretty big into theming."
"Not sure how we're gonna emerge stronger from this, though." Kenny folded his arms
“I’ve got the power of the multiverse at my fingertips, I don’t think literal raw strength is what we need more of right now.” Attai tsked. “We need more information about what’s going on, and I’m assuming Ke can at least give us a bit of insight.” He turned to look at her. “If you’re okay with that, I mean.”
“Of course.” Ke nodded. “If my daughter needs your help, then I’ll assist you in any way I can.”
"Firstly, how did things get this way in the first place?" Attai asked. "Nobody seems particularly happy with their current positions."
“It depends on what ‘things’ you’re talking about, I suppose.” Ke tilted her head. “Could you be more specific?”
“Some guy named Epact and a couple reluctant lackeys of his trying to destroy the multiverse and rebuild it in his image.” Attai stated flatly.
“Ah, you mean the Judges.” Ke nodded.
“Judges?” Ann asked. “Like in a courtroom?”
“No, no, the ones at head of our government.” Ke chuckled a bit. “Have you been avoiding politics for a while?”
“You could say that.” Attai shrugged. “Could you humor us for a bit and tell us about them?”
“I suppose so.” Ke shrugged. “There are three Judges, each of different rank. The highest rank is that of Chief Judge, which is currently occupied by Epact. Executive power used to be spread evenly among the three Judges, but Epact has passed legislation essentially giving him the ability to veto motions and objections from the First and Second Judges.”
“Huh, and I was just being rhetorical when I called him a ‘dictator’ earlier.” Attai hmmed. “And the First and Second Judges would be...?”
“A woman named Era and a man named Gauss, respectively.” Ke nodded. “Upstanding people, but reduced to having very little say in what the government actually does.”
“That explains a lot.” Attai muttered to himself. “Okay, so, Epact, what’s his deal? He just generic evil or is there something else going on under the surface.”
“Epact...was once an old family friend.” Ke sighed. “Almost a son in some ways, if I’m being honest. Hard as it may be to believe now, he really did have a good heart.”
“How’d he end up as what he is now?” Attai questioned.
“I wish I knew.” Ke bowed her head. “If we knew what had happened to him, maybe we could have helped before things got this bad.”
“Tucking that mystery away for later, then.” Attai said. “So, the ‘destroying the multiverse’ plan. Any insight on that?”
“Not particularly.” Ke shook her head. “I think Epact is simply so far gone that he hasn’t considered the full implications of his actions.”
“Or worse, he has considered the implications and just doesn’t care.” Kenny noted.
“How about the pre-destruction invasion plan?” Attai asked. “How much of the military is actually on-board with a pointless conflict like that?”
“Almost none of them.” Ke said. “Millennia’s father is in the active forces, and on the rare occasions he gets to come home to visit, he usually mentions how discontent his fellow soldiers are with the plan, especially the ground troops, since they’ll be taking the most casualties.”
“If the entire military is against it, why don’t they just rise up and overthrow Epact or something?” Ann interjected.
“Public demonstrations of non-compliance are usually met with immediate imprisonment, so that’s one reason.” Ke rapped her fingers along the table. “For another, it’s not the entire military; it’s the soldiers. Those in positions of authority have all long since been replaced with individuals hand-selected by Epact.”
“Always a smart idea when you’re trying to run a dictatorship.” Attai nodded thoughtfully.
“Hey, uh, this is sort of a random question, but why is everything made of rock?” Sasha suddenly interjected.
Ke stared at her, confused.
“Seriously, that came from out of nowhere.” Alan grunted.
“Sorry, it’s just, I’ve been looking around and I haven’t seen anything organic at all since we got here.” Sasha replied sheepishly. “It’s all rocks and minerals and stuff.”
“That’s...just the way it is.” Ke blinked. “It’s been that way for hundreds of thousands of years. Our organic resources dried up a long time ago. I understand not keeping up with politics, but I’m a bit concerned that you don’t know that. Are you feeling alright?”
"Okay, guess it's time to address the elephant in the room." Attai sighed and snapped his fingers, dispelling Angelion and revealing everyone's natural hair colors. "We're not exactly from around here."
"Humans?" Ke covered her mouth in shock. "...Millennia always used to talk about them, but I've never seen one in the flesh. Are you all able to change your hair color on command, or...?"
"Not exactly; I was just using some tech to create an illusion so we could blend in." Attai explained. "But yeah, uh, humans. Hope that's not too weird."
“Well, if we were dealing with anyone other than my daughter, it would be weird.” Ke smiled. “She was always fascinated with them. It only makes sense that she would make friends with some.”
“Good to hear.” Attai said. “I guess my last question would be how exactly Millennia fits into all this.”
“She used to serve as a General in the Chronian military.” Ke sighed. “Back before they all got into politics, she was friends with Era and Gauss and decided to become Epact’s apprentice in the field of engineering. After that...well, she doesn’t like to talk about it, so I don’t know much about what happened between them, but she became a lot more distant with them.”
“A General?” Attai raised an eyebrow. “You mean Millennia actually commanded a military division?”
“Technically, yes, but her assignment from the previous Chief Judge was to establish trade relationships between Chronia and other planets.” Ke said. “She was supposed to find a way the Chronian Empire could raise enough money to present themselves as a reliable trade partner.”
“I guess that explains why she did so many jobs to get money she never uses.” Attai mused. “Though I’m not sure why she’d keep at it even after Chronia was erased.”
“It’s...kind of obvious, isn’t it?” Serena spoke up hesitantly. “I mean, Chronia’s not gone gone; we’re sitting around on it right now.”
“Sure, but being cut off from the rest of multiverse destroys any chance at proper trade relationships.” Alan pointed out. “What’s the point?”
The room fell silent for a moment.
“It’s because she has hope!” Sasha suddenly exclaimed.
“Because she what now?” Alan raised an eyebrow.
“Think about it!” Sasha tapped the side of her head. “The Judges are trying to use that whack machine to bring Chronia back into the multiverse, right? That means it’s completely possible to un-erase it!”
“She was probably holding out for something like that...” Kenny looked lost in thought for a second. “But, all things considered, the Chronians really can’t be allowed to come back into the multiverse, at least not under their current government.”
“Well then, the next step seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?” Attai stood up from his chair. “We’ve got a government to overthrow.”
“W-wait, you can’t be serious!” Serena protested. “How are we supposed to take down a totalitarian regime?!”
“I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.” Attai grunted. “First thing’s first, Era and Gauss are pretty obviously disgruntled with the current state of things, so I think we might be able to get them on our side. Even if they’re effectively just puppets at this point, having two-thirds of the active regime sympathetic to our cause is gonna be a huge help.”
“Does it really count as a ‘cause’ if it’s just a practical decision based on the current circumstances?” Kenny tsked.
“Kenny, if we were making a strictly ‘practical’ decision about what to do next, I’d just abuse my access to reality warpers and perform what would basically amount to a genocide.” Attai stated flatly. “I will not be involved in something like that again, so for now, we’re doing the right thing. That counts as a cause. Do not nitpick me.”
“Wait, what do you mean ‘again’?” Sasha interjected.
“Right, um, okay, how do I put this...” Attai sucked some air in through his teeth. “So, technically speaking, I was a Nazi...”
“You what?!” Ann snapped.
“And two Holocaust victims, let’s straighten that out right now.” Attai huffed. “I’m technically a lab experiment created by Josef Mengele using the bodies of a German soldier and two Jewish twins.”
Everyone else present save for Ke went into a stunned silence.
“Um...I’m sorry to interrupt, but...” Ke said. “...I am very lost right now, and this atmosphere is very tense. Is there something wrong? Can I do anything to help?”
“If I weren’t in a relationship, I’d think up a lot of things you could do to help, but as it stands, no.” Alan tsked. “It’s just that in-context it’s kind of a lot to take in. Y’know. Like my di-”
Ann and Kenny nodded to each other and delivered a perfectly-synchronized two-person smack upside Alan’s head.
“Look, my point is, I know a few things about being an unwilling tool for evil.” Attai tsked. “I can probably relate with the Judges on some level.”
“That’s still one big ‘probably’ to try and rely on.” Kenny said.
“It’s not like we have any better options.” Ann pointed out. “Trying to just destroy the entire government is gonna cause a lot more problems than it’ll solve.”
“Hey, if it cuts down on the amount of trouble we need to go through, I’m in.” Alan shrugged.
“If you think we can really get through to them, then...I guess we should do it.” Serena said, with Sasha nodding along vigorously.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I don’t understand what’s happening right now.” Ke interjected, drawing everyone’s attention back to her. “All this talk about changing the government, making an alliance with the Judges...it almost sounds as if you intend to bring Chronia back into the multiverse after this.”
“I thought that was pretty obvious.” Attai raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, we just need to figure out a non-destructive way to do it.” Ann said.
“But why?” Ke asked. “Our people...we’ve never done anything to help another species, let alone put our own lives on the line for them. Why would you do that for us?”
“Because, putting the problems with the government aside, the population in general seems to be full of innocent civilians just like you.” Attai tsked. “Civilians suffering from a regime whose time has long since passed.”
Attai turned to look Ke dead in the eye.
“We’re heroes.” Attai stated. “Saving innocent civilians is our whole job description.”
“Doesn’t being an asshole make you more of an anti-hero?” Alan noted. “I mean, in regards to your alignment-”
“Keep shit-talking me and you’re gonna find out the alignment of these hands up close and personal.” Attai snapped before turning back to Ke with a frustrated sigh. “Look, bottom line here is that things are never gonna get better if all we do is try to restore the status quo. We need to do something, and this is the best we’ve got. Of course, before all that...”
Attai marched into the middle of the room and sat down on the floor with his legs crossed, putting his hands together as he silently closed his eyes.
“...You’re gonna take a nap?” Alan raised an eyebrow.
“I’m going to try working on my psychic powers a bit more.” Attai grunted. “Even a slight increase in their usability should be helpful.”
“Psychic powers?” Ke asked.
“Yeah, we don’t really know how he has those.” Ann shrugged. “We’re just rolling with it.”
Attai closed his eyes and did his best to tune out his surroundings- something that usually came to him naturally when he was forced to deal with teenagers- so he could focus. When he had been knocked unconscious earlier, seeing into the others’ memories felt something like flipping through radio stations. Not the most dignified metaphor, but it did give him some idea of what to do.
Visualizing a ‘dial’ of sorts, Attai slowly started ‘tuning’ it to try and catch something. He narrowed in on a strong signal giving off feelings of anxiety, and with a bit of focus, abruptly found himself inside Serena’s mind. Her thoughts were racing at a million miles an hour, belying her quiet exterior. Experiencing her thought processes first-hand as she tried to keep herself calm under the circumstances lead him to unexpectedly sympathize with her a bit.
Curious about the implications of this, he backed out of her mind and reached out to the other minds in the room. Ann and Kenny’s thoughts were about what he expected, Sasha was trying to put on a bit of a brave front for Serena, Alan-
Attai physically recoiled and promptly decided to move on.
Ke was feeling a complex mix of emotions right now. She was elated to know her daughter was alive, but at the same time was extremely worried that she might not stay that way. Her husband, too, was at the forefront of her mind; his position in the infantry meant that if the invasion went through and it went south, his life would be at risk too.
As for her feelings on them, she wasn’t entirely sure what to think of these odd people from another world, but she trusted Millennia, and if Millennia trusted them, then she would as well. She was wondering how they had gotten there in the first place, though.
Attai decided to take the opportunity to see if this was a two-way connection.
“Hm?” Ke suddenly perked up. “O-oh, I see.”
“See what?” Kenny raised an eyebrow.
“She was talking to me.” Attai stated, opening his eyes and pulling himself up off the floor. “She was wondering how we got here, so I told her.”
“I’m guessing that means your psychic powers are up and running.” Ann said.
“The telepathy is, at any rate.” Attai tapped on his head. “The telekinesis...”
He attempted to lift a stone chair on the other side of the room, but was only able to keep it hovering off the ground for a few seconds before having to put it down.
“Yeah, that still needs work.” Attai groaned, rubbing his temples a bit. “Granted, I guess if we really need it I can just turn into an alien that’s good at it. For now, though, the telepathy alone should make it easier to reason with the Judges.”
He pulled out the Imperialance transformation badge and looked over at a concerned Ke.
“Don’t worry.” Attai said reassuringly. “We may not look like much, but we can handle this. I’m gonna make sure everyone gets out of this in one piece. That includes your family.”
With that, Attai transformed into Imperialance and drilled back into the multiverse, taking his group with him. They emerged in a grassy field dotted by flowers, with a slight breeze rolling through the air.
“God damn, man, you sounded really confident back there.” Alan whistled. “Are you really that sure we can do this?”
“Oh, Gott no.” Imperialance reverted back to Attai. “But there’s not much good in saying ‘my team’s a mess and I have no Gott verdammt idea what I’m doing’, so I just went with something that would sound nice.”
“Lying to a MILF to bring up the positive energy.” Alan nodded. “I can vibe with that, if you know what I mean.”
“Could you stop being horny for like one second?” Ann groaned.
“It’s like half my personality, so no.” Alan huffed. “Besides, telling sex jokes doesn’t mean I’m horny, it just means I have a crude sense of humor.”
“So you’re not horny right now.” Ann squinted.
“Oh, no, I’m always horny, I’m just saying.”
“Could you just...stop talking like that?” Serena piped in with a weary tone. “I’m really starting to feel uncomfortable.”
“Alright, alright, I’ll knock it off.” Alan sighed. “Different strokes for different folks, I guess.”
Ann glared at him.
“Oh, come on, that one wasn’t even on purpose!” Alan protested.
“All that aside, we still need to set up a good course of action.” Attai interjected, rubbing his temples. “We aren’t getting anywhere like this.”
“I say we go for Gauss first.” Ann suggested. “It kinda seems like Era has a thing for him, so having him on our side might make it easier to convince her.”
“Exploiting emotional weak points, that’s a good start.” Alan nodded. “But how are we supposed to get him to help us in the first place?”
“We have some quick emergency therapy.” Attai cracked his neck. “I’m gonna talk to Millennia for some more insight here. Ann and Kenny are coming with me to see Gauss, rest of you are hanging back at Millennia’s place.”
“Why us specifically?” Ann asked.
“Because somehow you’re the most level-headed people in this whole group.” Attai sighed. “This is probably gonna get personal, and I need the people least likely to cause an issue.”
“Serena and Sasha seem fine.” Ann pointed out. “We could bring them.”
“Look, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Serena’s mental health isn’t exactly great right now, and an emotionally intense argument is the last thing she needs.” Attai explained, speaking a bit more quietly. “Separating her from her girlfriend by just bringing Sasha is only going to exacerbate the issue. She needs a minute to rest, and a rock to lean on. We need to have everybody on their A-game in case we get attacked.”
“Have you been analyzing all of us this deeply?” Ann questioned.
“Depends on your definition of ‘deeply’.” Attai grunted. “You people wear your hearts on your sleeves.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“It’s a thing.”
After a brief visit with Millennia that we won’t get into for the sake of time, Attai took Ann and Kenny with him as he tracked down Gauss’s temporal signature, finding him a few universes away. He was sprawled out on a black sand beach somewhere in the Pacific ocean.
“Gauss.” Attai cleared his throat to announce their presence.
“Oh, there you are.” Gauss’s head turned towards them as he reluctantly pulled himself to his feet. “Well, a couple of you, anyway. Where’re the rest?”
“It should be obvious I’m not going to tell you that.” Attai said.
“Can’t blame a guy for trying.” Gauss sighed.
“What are you doing on a beach?” Ann asked. “Seems like a weird spot to be.”
“I’m uh, I dunno, doing your mom?” Gauss gave a halfhearted shrug. “I don’t know, man, I didn’t really have any leads and I just wore myself out looking for you people. I can’t even come up with a dirty joke better than ‘doing your mom’, that’s how burnt out I am.”
“You should probably cut those out anyway.” Attai tsked. “These guys are teenagers.”
“Oh, Chronia, what?!” Gauss jumped backwards. “You mean I’ve been telling these jokes to kids?!”
“We’re not kids, we’re adolescents!” Ann huffed. “There’s a difference!”
“Humans age a lot faster than Chronians do.” Attai explained. “From his perspective it’s like finding out he’s been talking to toddlers.”
“We are very clearly not toddlers!” Ann gestured between herself and Kenny.
“Like I said, they age differently.” Attai grunted. “Chronians are only considered ‘of age’ when they hit one hundred; cultural misunderstandings aside, you’re still not adults, so it wouldn’t be very appropriate either way.”
“Ugh, now I just feel gross.” Gauss huffed. “Alright, you know what, you’re here, I’m here, can we just get to the fighting part already?”
“There’s not going to be a fighting part.” Attai crossed his arms.
“What, you’re giving up?” Gauss blinked underneath the his helmet. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, it just seems a little too convenient is all.”
“Not exactly.” Attai shook his head. “I’m here to talk.”
“...Talk about what?” Gauss asked suspiciously.
Attai held up the photograph Millennia had given him and tossed it at Gauss, who caught it between his fingers as it passed his head. He took a look at the photo and paused for a moment.
"...Where did you get this?" Gauss asked, turning around to look at Attai.
"I asked Millennia about you three before I came here, and she showed me that photo. According to her, it was the first thing she ever backed up to the Archives." Attai said. "In layman’s terms, it's something she wanted to preserve for the rest of time. Take that how you will."
"So...are you gonna tell us what's in that photo or what?" Ann raised an eyebrow.
"It's a bit personal, so I'll leave that up to Gauss."
Gauss silently looked down at the photo for a bit before suddenly tossing it back to Attai.
"...I don't need this." He muttered.
Attai raised an eyebrow.
Gauss reaches into his personal pocket dimension and pulled out an older, faded version of the same photograph.
"I never stopped carrying my copy to begin with."
Attai nodded his head understandingly as he waited for Gauss to continue while Ann and Kenny simply exchanged a confused look and a shrug.
"I'm guessing you two are friends, right?" Gauss glanced over at them.
"Uh...yeah?" Ann replied. "Why?"
"Don't ever get into politics, kids." Gauss chuckled morosely. "You'd be surprised how quickly things change for the worse."
"I kinda expect things to change for the worse in general, but there's no way that'd happen with Ann." Kenny said. "She's my best friend. I'd trust her with my life."
"Same goes for me." Ann nodded. "What do politics have to do with this anyway?"
Gauss turned the photo around to show it to them. Pictured were Epact, Millennia, Era, and himself all gathered in a bar together. He and Era were sat on bar stools at the counter while Millennia and Epact stood behind it, with Millennia taking advantage of her higher vantage point to give Gauss and Era bunny ears. They all had large, genuine smiles on their faces, and looked like they were having a good time.
“I said the same thing, once.” Gauss stated. “Well, pondered it, at any rate. Either way, you don’t always know your friends as well as you think you do.”
“Wait wait wait, you guys were all friends with Epact?” Ann looked between the photo and him in disbelief. “But that guy’s a psychopath, and you three, like...aren’t.”
“There used to be a kindness to him, believe it or not.” Gauss sighed, putting away the photo. “What I wouldn’t give to find out where that went.”
“Same thing’s happened to you, hasn’t it?” Kenny raised an eyebrow. “How many people have you killed for him?”
“None!” Gauss protested. “I mean, none...yet...I guess.”
“Well, unless we stop him, that ‘none’ is going to turn into a number you can’t even imagine.” Attai stated gruffly. “The multiverse is infinite. Endless. And if you help him destroy it, that’s endless blood on your hands.”
“I’m not stupid, you know.” Gauss muttered in response. “It’s not like I want things to end up like that.”
“Then what do you want, Gauss?” Attai asked. “Tell me.”
“I want to survive.” Gauss summoned his CataloGun Drauzaz. “Right now...everything else is secondary.”
“If survival is your main priority, then what was telling Epact to kill you earlier all about?” Attai’s eyes narrowed.
“What-” Gauss flinched. “You- how do you know about that?!”
“I’m trying to get into your head, and it seems like what happened there is at the forefront of what you’re thinking about right now.” Attai tapped his head. “But there’s definitely still something I’m missing.”
“Into my...” Gauss felt around his helmet. “Wait, are you reading my mind?!”
“Poorly, but yes.” Attai closed his eyes and tried to focus. “Hang on, I’m getting something else. That picture-”
Attai and Gauss suddenly collapsed, hitting the ground simultaneously. Ann ran over and shook Attai while Kenny walked over to Gauss and cautiously started prodding him with a stick he had picked up off the ground.
“What the hell?!” Ann exclaimed, placing her fingers on Attai’s neck to feel for a pulse. “His pulse is fine, but...”
“They’re both out cold.” Kenny concluded, casually tossing the stick behind him.
“Alright, think think think.” Ann rapped her knuckles against her forehead. “Um...oh, right! When Attai got knocked out earlier, his psychic powers kicked in, so maybe this is like...a reversal of that? Maybe he tried too hard to use his powers and ended up knocking himself out?”
“If that’s what happened, then why is Gauss unconscious too?” Kenny pointed out.
“...I have no idea.” Ann leaned back and sighed. “I guess all we can do is sit here until they wake up.”
Attai and Gauss were inside what looked like a diner.
“Wait a second, this is...” Gauss blinked, looking over their surroundings before turning his gaze towards Attai. “What did you do?!”
“I tried to read deeper into your head.” Attai shrugged. “I must’ve overshot it or something, because I have zero idea what’s going on here. Do you recognize this place?”
“Yeah, this is Epact’s bar from years ago!” Gauss said. “It’s exactly how I remember it!”
“Looks more like a diner than a bar.” Attai noted.
“Oh, and you would know all about what Chronian bars are supposed to look like?” Gauss tsked.
A door behind the bar’s main counter opened, and out of it stepped a man guiding a hovering tray of various shot glasses turned upside-down and just waiting for a customer. A man and a woman approached the bar, stepping out from where they had been waiting somewhere behind Attai and Gauss and sitting down at the bar counter.
“Who are they?” Attai asked.
“That’s Era and I.” Gauss responded. “Back before all this crap started.”
“And the bartender?”
“Took you long enough!” The younger Gauss teased the bartender. “I thought all those wacky gadgets of yours were supposed to make things go faster.”
“Unfortunately, that only applies if they don’t break down from improper maintenance.” The bartender, who Attai had picked up was Epact, grunted pointedly.
“Hey, I got them working again, didn’t I?” A woman that appeared to be a younger version of Millennia walked out from the back shortly behind Epact. “Besides, it was just a broken gearbox. I had it patched up in five minutes flat.”
“Still, it’s hardly ideal.”
“Whatever you say, Grandpa.” Millennia sighed.
“I’m only a few centuries older than you.” Epact grunted. “Stop treating me like an old man.”
“Then stop acting like an old man, old man!” Millennia elbowed him playfully. “Seriously speaking, I admit I messed up, but it’s not like we were going to be late serving any customers anyway.”
“What are we, dead meat?” Gauss feigned offense.
“You guys are friends, AKA shameless drink leeches.” Millennia smirked. “You don’t count.”
“Hey, it only counts as leeching if we don’t pay for it.” Gauss tsked.
“You aren’t paying for it.” Millennia raised an eyebrow.
“We sit here and indulge Epact on his political rants.” Gauss grinned. “It certainly feels like we’re paying.”
“Well, can you blame me?” Epact huffed. “Our entire planet is being squeezed dry for everything it’s worth, and our government and media are telling the people that it’s no big deal!”
“You just had to get him started, didn’t you?” Era sighed.
“Damned talking heads...” Epact grumbled. “They have no idea what they’re talking about.”
“I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they do know what they’re talking about, but they also know that if they don’t suck up to the big guys they won’t get their exclusive interviews anymore.” Gauss paused for a moment. “Which still makes them a bunch of greedy bastards, so I guess never mind on that ‘benefit of the doubt’ thing.”
“If Chronia keeps going in this direction, we’re going to run out of resources within our generation.” Epact stated gravely. “Without any preventative measures put into place, this planet is as good as dead.”
“We could always try trading with other planets for resources.” Millennia suggested with a shrug. “Who knows, maybe they could have some good tech for it.”
“You can’t be serious.” Epact scowled. “Relying on aliens? We’d only end up destroying the planet even faster.”
“Hey, it was just an idea.” Millennia put her hands up. “Not saying we should do it, just saying it’s a possibility.”
“Honestly, I’ve always wanted to hang around aliens myself.” Gauss said, crossing his hands behind his head. “Not like I really fit in on Chronia...”
“Now you knock that off!” Era reprimanded him. “You’re perfectly fine the way you are! Don’t let the people that don’t understand you get under your skin.”
“Okay, see, I like the idea of that, but the thing is, they literally want to get under my skin.” Gauss thumped on his chest with a stabbing motion. “I always think I’m being paranoid up until some asshole tries to gut me in public.”
Attai shot the present-day Gauss a questioning look, to which the only response was a nod and a shrug.
“It’s disgraceful, the way some people act.” Epact scowled. “I may not agree with your identity, but you are still a Chronian, and thus deserving of respect as one of Chronia’s chosen people.”
“Kinda picking and choosing which parts of Chronia’s gospels you’re willing to accept, aren’t you?” Millennia raised an eyebrow. “Like, come on, the part saying Chronians are better than everyone else and the part saying people like Gauss should be executed are both in the same book, aren’t they?”
“Unfortunately, we cannot know how much of our traditional beliefs are the works of mere men versus how many are written from the divine words of Chronia herself.” Epact sighed. “Our entire belief system hinges on Chronians being chosen and unique among the stars, so the idea that any Chronian could be ‘lesser’ in any way- which, for the record, is a notion only added in later transcripts- is simply nonsense.”
Epact pulled up a shot glass and filled it with some ice and a clearish-blue liquid Attai could only assume to be something like alcohol.
“At any rate, this should help calm your nerves.” Epact slid the shot over to Gauss. “I imagine making your way here today was no less anxiety-inducing than usual.”
“The drink helps, but to be honest, I’ve been feeling a lot safer since Era suggested we pair up for longer trips.” Gauss caught the shot glass and took a swig before continuing. “Safety in numbers, I guess.”
“Safety in numbers and Era being scary as hell when she’s mad.” Millennia snickered.
“I’m not scary when I’m mad!” Era protested. “I just...get a little intense, that’s all.”
“Era, you’re scary and it’s great.” Gauss laughed. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
“Oh, hey, you guys know what would be great right now?” Millennia interjected. “Group photo!”
“A group photo? Why?” Era blinked.
“Well, for one thing, if we get Era mad, we can get photographic evidence that she’s terrifying.” Millennia joked. “Seriously speaking, I was just looking through my photos this morning and realized I didn’t have any of us all together. I have to be able to prove that I have friends somehow.”
“Seems a bit frivolous, but I’m not against the idea.” Epact shrugged. “I don’t think we have a camera on-hand, though.”
“No need to worry about that!” Millennia reached into her personal pocket dimension through a small magenta portal and pulled out what appeared to be an old camera. “Ta-da! Presenting the DekigotoCam! The, uh...prototype, anyway.”
“’Dekigoto’?” Era questioned.
“It’s an Earth word that means ‘event’.” Millennia explained. “Right now this thing is basically just a normal camera, but eventually it’s gonna be able to summon recreations of events from the pictures I take of them. ‘EventCam’.”
“And I’m guessing you went with the Earth word because it sounded cooler?” Gauss smirked.
“One hundred-percent!” Millennia replied with enthusiasm. “Okay, everybody pose!”
Millennia set up the DekigotoCam and used a time delay to get a picture with all four of them in the frame. After checking the resulting image, she had the DekigotoCam print out four copies of it and distributed the photos among them.
“You guys hang on to your copies in case I lose mine.” Millennia placed her copy of the photo and the DekigotoCam back in her personal storage dimension. “Also, uh, let me know if they explode or something. Like I said, prototype camera, still working out the bugs.”
“Earth...” Epact placed his copy of the photo down and tapped his fingers along the counter. “That’s the home world of those Chronian lookalikes...’Humans’, I believe?”
“Yep!” Millennia nodded. “Seriously, they’re so much like us that it’s actually insane. They’re basically just Chronians with really short lifespans and zero powers but one hell of a work ethic.”
“You sound awfully fond of them.” Epact noted with a slight tone of disapproval. “Remember, no matter how much they look like us and act like us, they’re still aliens, and could very well be dangerous.”
“Come on, they might be on our level intelligence-wise, but they’re about as dangerous to us as a toddler with a knife.” Millennia chuckled. “Sure, there’s some concern, but if push comes to shove, you can always just punt the little fucker.”
“I do like punting children.” Gauss nodded in mock thought, prompting a light smack from Era that made him start laughing. “Come on, that’s funny!”
“I know, but still!” Era replied, trying to stop herself from laughing too. “That’s terrible!”
“Well, I’m terrible, baby.” Gauss shot Era a couple of finger guns, to which she smacked him on the arm a couple of times, making him laugh even harder at her reaction.
“Y’know, you two act like an old married couple sometimes.” Millennia giggled.
“G-Gauss and I...married?” Era coughed as she tried to hide her face, which was currently flushing a bright red. “C-come on, that’s silly!”
“Yeah, be realistic.” Gauss sighed. “Era deserves a real man, not...well, someone like me.”
Era smacked Gauss again, this time fairly hard.
“Ow!” Gauss shot her a look, rubbing his head where her hand had made impact. “What was that for?!”
“Stop deprecating yourself like that!” Era demanded, looking very annoyed and a bit flustered. “You are an extraordinary man, and any man or woman would be lucky to have you!”
Epact and Millennia exchanged a look that went unnoticed by Gauss or Era.
“I mean, I appreciate it, but...” Gauss turned back towards the counter. “Not many people think that way.”
“That’s why you have to be someone who does!” Era reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. “We’re all here for you, Gauss. I just wish you’d be there for yourself too.”
“Okay, this is getting into some too personal territory now.” The present-day Gauss stepped in front of Attai, obfuscating his view of the memory. “Can we leave already?”
“I assume we can, but I’ve never done this before, so I can’t promise anything.” Attai tsked.
Attai and Gauss abruptly woke up in the real world at the same time, startling Ann and Kenny as they bolted to their feet, eyeing each other down for a moment.
“Whoa, okay, what just happened here?” Ann asked. “Either of you wanna explain?”
“Accidentally got too telepathic there for a second.” Attai grunted. “Managed to get some more context on all this, though.”
“More context?” Gauss questioned. “The hell did you learn from any of that?”
“Epact’s motives, for one.” Attai said. “Or where they started out, at the very least.”
“I don’t really get it, but okay, I guess.” Gauss spun his Drauzaz around his index finger by the trigger ring. “Does that help you in any way, or...?”
“Bit early to say.” Attai scratched his chin.
“’Early’?” Gauss stopped spinning the Drauzaz and aimed it squarely at Attai. “How much time do you think we have left here, man?”
Ann and Kenny reached for their Unitrixes, but Attai motioned for them to stop, summoning the CataloGun and aiming it at Gauss in kind.
“Not much.” Attai grunted. “That’s why I’d like to get this out of the way as soon as possible.”
With that, Attai threw the CataloGun off to the side, surprising Gauss.
“The hell do you think you’re doing?!” Gauss exclaimed. “You kinda need that to fight me!”
“I’m not going to fight you.” Attai asserted, taking on a confident stance.
“So...is this you surrendering, or...?”
“I don’t need to fight you.” Attai clarified. “Because I think we’re on the same side here.”
“We are very clearly not!” Gauss protested.
“You don’t want to go through with Epact’s plan either, do you?” Attai pointed out. “What does he have over you that’s forcing you to follow him?”
“...I wish it was just something he had over me.” Gauss began to slouch a bit. “If it was just me he was threatening, I wouldn’t have the will to care at this point. And he knows that.”
“Elaborate.” Attai raised an eyebrow.
“Oh, like you’d understand.” Gauss scoffed. “We’re not even the same species, what makes you think you can relate to me?”
“The fact that you’re not the first Chronian I’ve been able to relate with.” Attai said.
“If you mean Millennia, her problems are far and away removed from mine.” Gauss replied.
“Alright, how about you try me, then?” Ann suggested. “I turn into all kinds of different aliens all the time.”
“...You really think you can understand me?” Gauss asked.
“Well, I’m never gonna know unless you say something.” Ann pointed out.
“...Yeah, alright, fair enough.” Gauss said. “Might as well vent one last time before the universe ends.”
Gauss reached up and removed his helmet, revealing dark skin, black hair, and dazzling blue eyes.
“Wow, you haven’t aged a day.” Ann whistled. “Wasn’t expecting that.”
“Hang on a second, what’s that supposed to mean?” Gauss huffed. “What were you expecting under here?” He tapped on his helmet.
“Well...nothing, I guess.” Ann shrugged. “Just sort of a...blank face, or something? I know it doesn’t really make sense, but I didn’t put much thought into it, honestly.”
“Eh, I can see it.” Gauss shrugged. “Anyway, I’m in what you might call a...minority group of Chronians, we’ll say. Prior to the current administration, there were no laws protecting us, so we either hid ourselves as best we could or ended up lynched. Not fun.”
“Alright, sounding familiar to some Earth history so far.” Ann nodded.
“Current government, me, Era, and Epact? We got those protection laws into place.” Gauss continued. “It’s not much, but it’s a start. A very important start, at that.”
“And now that Epact is de-facto dictator, he could rescind those laws at any time, couldn’t he?” Attai questioned.
“...Yeah.” Gauss hung his head with a sigh. “And he’s made sure I know it.”
“Well, that’s just fucked up!” Ann harrumphed. “Holding civil rights hostage? Who does that?!”
“Epact, apparently.” Kenny noted dryly.
“Anyway, if you don’t mind me asking, what kinda minority group are you?” Ann asked. “Is it, like, a skin color thing, or...?”
“Skin color?” Gauss looked confused. “Our skins are different colors because our ancestors lived in different environments. Why would we have an issue with skin color?”
“Oh, you’d be surprised.” Attai tsked as Ann and Kenny exchanged an awkward glance. “Some species have a lot of trouble with the concept.”
“Huh. Weird.” Gauss blinked. “Anyway, no, I’m someone who...wasn’t born quite right.”
“Like a disability or something?” Ann looked puzzled.
“No, not exactly, though I’m sure plenty of Chronians would argue with you on that.” Gauss sighed. “My issue is that psychologically, I’m male, but...I was born in a female body. People like me, whose souls don’t match their bodies, are considered ‘Chronia’s mistakes’ and thus summarily purged by those who believe in the old tradition.”
“Oh, no way!” Ann exclaimed. “Same situation for me, but in reverse! Check it out!”
Ann tapped on the trans pride flag pin she had on her shirt.
“...I’m assuming that’s an Earth symbol for something?” Gauss raised a confused eyebrow.
“Oh, right, alien, sorry.” Ann cleared her throat awkwardly. “It’s called the ‘trans pride flag’. It’s for people who are transgender, like us.”
“’Transgender’?” Gauss squinted. “There’s a word for it?”
“Well, yeah.” Ann tilted her head. “How do people talk about it on Chronia?”
“With slurs, mostly.” Gauss shrugged. “So, one more question, you said that was a transgender pride flag?”
“Are people like you and me actually...accepted on Earth?” Gauss questioned. “To the point where you can be outwardly proud of your identities?”
“Well...” Ann waved her hand in the air iffily. “We’re still working on it, but a lot of people have come around. The holdouts are mostly people who trust tradition over evidence.”
“Pretty 1:1 there then.” Gauss put a hand up to his chin. “But still, you can like, walk around wearing that without getting lynched?”
“It might depend on the area, but generally speaking, yeah.” Ann nodded. “I mean, I’ve never gotten lynched, at least.”
“Man, before I became a government official I was gettin’ shanked in the goddamn streets for it.” Gauss cracked his neck and put his helmet back on. “You know what, to hell with it, I’m on Team Earth. Even if we lose, I can be proud I went out fighting for something I actually believe in.”
“Alright!” Ann gave him a high-five. “You don’t have to worry about that last part, though. There’s no way we can lose!”
“I appreciate the spirit, but there are a lot of ways we could lose.”
“Oh, stop being cynical, that’s Kenny’s job.” Ann waved him off.
“She’s right, it is what I do.” Kenny nodded.
“Actually, hang on a second, what about Era?” Gauss asked. “I mean, we’re...close, like, really close, and if she’s still on Epact’s side...shit, I don’t think I could bring myself to fight her.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I thought of that already.” Attai tsked, tapping on the side of his head to accentuate the point. “That’s our next stop.”
“If you say so...” Gauss muttered. “But I don’t know how open she’d actually be to switching sides. I mean...this might take a lot of convincing.”
“Well, of course I’m coming with you!” Era huffed, taking off her helmet to reveal an indignant expression.
“That was easy.” Attai hmmed.
After making a small detour to grab Alan for backup just in case, Attai had let Gauss guide them to Era, who was searching the forests of another universe nearby.
“Now hang on Era, think about this!” Gauss placed a hand on her shoulder. “If Epact wins and you’re on our side, you’re dead; you understand that, right?”
“Of course I understand that, Gauss, I’m not an idiot!” Era replied indignantly. “If you seriously think I’m just going to walk away and abandon you, you’re the only dull one here!”
“It’s not that, I just...” Gauss took a moment to find the words he was looking for. “I don’t want to see anything happen to you.”
“And I don’t want to see anything happen to you, you big dolt!” Era smacked his chest plate.
“Guess we’re kind of at a stalemate then.” Gauss laughed.
“Oh my God, just fuck already!” Alan yelled, drawing a glare from Ann. “What?! It’s totally obvious!”
“Um...what’s obvious?” Gauss asked.
“Era, if you’re gonna tell him, now’s the time.” Attai spoke up. “You might not get another chance.”
“E-excuse me?” Era blinked.
“Psychic.” Attai tapped on the side of his head. “I know what’s going through your head.”
“Not that you really need to be psychic to pick up on this.” Alan tsked.
“Hang on, another chance for what?” Gauss glanced between him and Era. “What are they talking about?”
“Well, this isn’t exactly how I imagined this going, but Gauss...” Era reached down and took his hands before looking him in the eyes. “I really should’ve told you a long, long time ago, but I...I’m in love with you.”
Gauss’s eyes widened. A hushed silence settled over the area as everyone waited for some kind of response.
“...I guess, my question is...” Era broke the silence. “Whether or not the feeling is...mutual.”
This seemed to snap Gauss out of his daze, letting him shake his head out for a moment before replying.
"Era, do you even need to ask? I...of course I love you." Gauss said. "I always have."
"I-I mean..." Era stammered. "A-as a friend, or...?"
"I don't know." Gauss admitted. "...Should we find out?"
The two stared silently into each other's eyes for a moment before closing them and sharing a passionate kiss. Alan mimed out a gagging motion, which was promptly followed by a quick smack from Ann.
Gauss and Era separated, each seemingly with a new spark in their eyes.
"...I'd say that answered that." Gauss breathed, his heart beating rapidly.
The two moved in to kiss again, but were interrupted as Attai tapped each of them on the shoulder.
"Look, I'm glad you guys were able to get this sorted out, but you're not gonna have much time left to enjoy it if Epact gets his multiversal war." He pointed out. "Even as Timewalkers, we're on a time limit here."
“Y’know, you seemed awfully confident you’d be able to get on our good sides.” Gauss said. “How’d you know?”
“I didn’t.” Attai took a deep breath. “It’s just that as someone who also used to be stuck serving an evil dictatorship until someone offered me a hand...I figured it’d be pretty hypocritical of me not to try.”
“So there really is a heart under all that snark.” Gauss chuckled, thumping him on the chest a couple times. “Careful, you might let it slip that you actually care about things.”
“Let it slip?” Attai responded with a wry grin. “I can care about things and be an ass about it at the same time, you know.”
“You know what, fair’s fair.” Gauss laughed. “So, Mister Ass, what’s the next step in your big ‘ol plan here?”
“Fighting Epact, obviously.” Attai tsked. “But before that, I think there’s someone the two of you need to talk to.”
Attai’s group arrived back inside the mansion with Gauss and Era in tow. As soon as they phased into existence in the living room, Theo-4 and Nova-4 caught sight of the Chronians and sprang to their feet, ready to fight.
“Calm down, they’re friendly.” Attai motioned for them to stop. “I brought them here on purpose.”
“Seriously?” Theo-4 raised an eyebrow. “How did you get them on our side that quickly?”
“We’re time travelers; you have no idea how long we’ve actually been gone.” Attai pointed out. “At any rate, Epact made the classic dictatorial mistake of having right-hand people that aren’t actually loyal to him.”
“I know that’s technically what’s going on, but did you have to make it sound so sleazy?” Gauss deflated a bit. “At least make us sound like badass revolutionaries.”
“Considering how badly we kicked your asses, calling you two ‘badass’ would be more condescending than anything, wouldn’t it?” Alan tsked.
“You realize that without Zehn none of you would have stood a chance, right?” Era countered.
“Attai, is that you?” Millennia’s voice came from down the hallway as she made her way to the living room. “You weren’t gone very-”
She froze as she entered the room and caught sight of Gauss and Era.
“...Holy shit, you actually did it.” She breathed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Attai crossed his arms.
“To be honest, when you told me what you were planning, I kind of thought you were joking.” Millennia blinked.
“When have I ever joked?” Attai pointed out.
“I mean, fair enough, but...” Millennia looked between Gauss and Era, wide-eyed. “I just...I-I don’t know what to say.”
“I think a ‘hello’ would suffice.” Gauss grinned.
Millennia suddenly ran forward and pulled Gauss and Era into a tight hug, taking them by surprise.
“A ‘hello’?!” Millennia chided lightly, trying not to choke up. “I thought I’d never see you two again, o-or that if I did, we’d have to fight to the death or something! I think this warrants a bit more than a ‘hello’!”
“I’ll add a ‘howdy’ if that’ll help.” Gauss laughed.
“I’m happy to see you too, Millennia.” Era smiled. “In all fairness, we did get uncomfortably close to that ‘fighting to the death’ issue.”
“Oh, please, you two were looking for excuses not to do it the whole time.” Attai tsked.
“Yeah, come on, I know you two!” Millennia said, letting them go with a warm grin on her face. “You couldn’t kill me if you wanted to!”
“Either way, I’m glad we didn’t end up having to test that statement.” Era breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks to your friend over there, I mean.”
“Hang on, ‘friend’?” Attai scoffed. “Millennia isn’t my friend, I can’t stand her; we’re just kinda joined at the hip.”
He paused for a moment before sighing and shooting Millennia a resigned yet sincere half-grin.
“If anything, I guess that makes her family.”
“...God damn it Attai, you promised you wouldn’t make my cry like a bitch in front of my friends!” Millennia wiped at her eyes as she felt herself tearing up.
“I promised no such thing.” Attai tsked.
“Well, you should’ve!”
“Millennia, is everything oka-” Divara entered the room with a concerned expression, pausing as she noticed the two other Chronians in the room.
“Holy shit, your hair’s got stars in it.” Gauss stared up at Divara wide-eyed.
“Era, Gauss, this is my fiance, Divara.” Millennia took her hand and pulled her in closer. “Divara, these are my friends...whose names you just heard, I guess.”
“Um...hello.” Divara greeted them hesitantly, a bit confused. “It’s...nice to meet you?”
“Don’t worry, they’re on our side.” Attai explained. “Or not on Epact’s side, at the very least.”
“Nah, like I said earlier, I’m Team Earth all the way now, baby.” Gauss snapped his fingers, transitioning into finger guns. “I can’t look at a planet willing to accept people like me and let Epact shit all over it. Added benefit, no longer have to kill my best friend, which is pretty nice.”
“Wait, wait, wait, if I got promoted to ‘best friend’ status, does that mean you and Era finally upgraded your relationship while I was gone?!” Millennia interjected excitedly.
“I guess you could put it like that.” Gauss and Era chuckled.
“Took you long enough!” Millennia grinned. “So, when did that happen?”
“...About fifteen minutes ago.” Gauss cleared his throat awkwardly.
There was a silent pause.
“I didn’t really work up the nerve to confess until Zehn pointed out we might not have much time left right now” Era sheepishly admitted.
“Unreal.” Millennia shook her head. “I’d say ‘unbelievable’, but considering that it’s you two, that’d be lying.”
“So are you going to explain why your fiance is super tall and has space for hair or are we just gonna have to guess?” Gauss asked.
“I’m a Celestialsapien.” Divara explained with a bit of a chuckle. “I became half-human in order to merge my personalities together, which is why I look like this.”
“Celestialsapien?” Era looked like she was puzzling something out in her head. “I feel like I’ve heard the name before, but where-” She snapped her fingers. “Oh, right, Millennia, Epact tested out the gauntlet you made by-”
“We don’t need to talk about that.” Millennia interrupted in a stern tone.
“You’re engaged to a reality warper?” Gauss put his hand on his hips in disbelief. “Hang on a second, is that why we couldn’t find you earlier?!”
“Dense temporal pocket.” Divara nodded. “No temporal signatures can get in or out.”
“Same reason you weren’t able to track down these kids either.” Attai nodded towards them.
“Oh, right, the kids.” Gauss turned to look at them. “Hey, uh, sorry about kidnapping you guys earlier. We cool?”
“Suck my dick, time man.” Alan snorted.
“Yeah, we’re cool.” Gauss nodded to himself.
“Alright, now that we have reintroductions out of the way, we need to come up with a game plan.” Attai said. “Epact might be able to nullify our Timewalking abilities and Divara’s reality bending, but with a bunch of Omnitrix users on our side, we should be able to take him down if we all group up and hit him together.”
“Simple, straight to the point, I like it.” Gauss nodded. “Probably needs a bit more detail, though.”
“Ja, nein Scheibe, I was just setting up the premise.” Attai sighed. “Still, we need to get set up for this pretty quickly. We don’t know how much time we have left.”
“We should have a pretty decent amount of time before Epact figures out Gauss and I aren’t coming back with the Key Points.” Era stated. “Unless he does something insane like-”
“Stop.” Attai interrupted her with a weary scowl. “As soon as you specify whatever unlikely scenario you’re thinking might somehow occur, said scenario is immediately going to occur. Basic dramatic irony, people.”
“Attai, this isn’t a story.” Millennia laughed. “Things aren’t just magically going to happen because a storytelling trope gets invoked.”
“Oh my God.” Attai buried his face in his hands.
All of a sudden, cracks in reality started forming in the air around them. The denser temporal space Divara had created vanished, unable to sustain itself as an unexpected strain was placed on the fabric of reality. Before any of them could comprehend what was going on, a wave of unstable temporal energy crashed into them, scattering them across the multiverse in an instant.
As everyone else vanished to parts unknown, Millennia and Divara, still together, found themselves in a starry field on a planet unfamiliar to either of them in a universe neither of them had ever been to before. Just as they started to get their bearings, there was a magenta flash behind them, and they turned to find Epact approaching them with the Lunar Blade unholstered.
“You and I both know, my student, that I am not a patient being.” Epact said, cracking his neck to the side. “And if you for whatever reason thought otherwise, then you are not a wise one.”
Attai, Era, and Gauss found themselves lying face-down in an alien planet’s wasteland, surrounded by nothing but vaguely reddish cliffs and mesas for miles.
"So, what was that insane thing you were gonna say Epact might do?" Attai groaned.
"Well, in theory, he could sidestep the need for the Key Points by overclocking the machine and creating an uncontrolled temporal collapse." Era flipped over onto her back. "The thing is, doing that would destabilize the fabric of spacetime and collapse multiple layers of reality into each other. Any higher planes of existence connected to this multiverse could get drawn in and destroyed as collateral damage."
"Oh, great, so giga-genocide, then." Attai grunted, pulling himself to his feet. "And Chronia's somehow supposed to survive that okay?"
"Chronia has unique temporal properties that should protect it from something like that, but most of the multiverse would gradually implode." Era said, getting up and helping Gauss to his feet. "There wouldn't be anything left to conquer unless he mobilized the army immediately."
As if in response to this, a massive tear in reality opened a few dozen meters away, followed shortly by a Chronian army regiment emerging from the rip in space. The unit was mostly comprised of infantry in standard full-body military suits, save for the presence of a single general and a solitary warship flying in above them.
“...I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect him to be on top of it that quickly.” Era blinked.
“Well, with reality collapsing, I guess there’s not much keeping the army stuck on Chronia anymore.” Gauss whistled.
“But why would they bother showing up to a random wasteland?” Attai questioned.
“Era! Gauss!” The general leading the unit shouted.
“For us, apparently.” Gauss shrugged.
"You two have been judged as traitors of the state for conspiring to overthrow Chief Judge Epact." The general stated gruffly. "You will kneel for the commensurate judgment of decapitation as dictated in the United Chronian Republic's elected legal texts. You may request a reading of the relevant statutes before your execution if you are unfamiliar with-"
"We're the First and Second Judges, we know this spiel." Era interrupted him with an annoyed look. "What I want to request are the evidences Epact used in filing this judgment."
"Audio logs captured from your armor's communications array." The general replied.
"Wait, he's been using our private channels to spy on us?!" Gauss snapped. "That's completely ille-" He paused. "...Wait, no, he legalized it a couple of centuries ago under the latest security act. Shit."
"Oh mein Gott." Attai pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration.
"General, we're trying to do the right thing here for once." Era said. "It would be far more productive for you to join us on this instead of oppose us."
"I don't care what you're 'trying' to do." The general scowled. "Epact is the Chief Judge. His orders are absolute. If he has ordered your deaths, then he shall receive them."
"I'm gonna have to object to that." Attai stepped forward, summoning the CataloGun. "I understand that you're just following orders, but that doesn't mean I'm going to hold back on you."
"And who are you supposed to be?" The general laughed. "What kind of idiot tries to threaten an army with a peashooter like that?"
"The name's Attai Zehn." Attai clicked his tongue. "And that wasn't a threat."
He summoned a card and plucked it out of the air, running it through the CataloGun's side slot.
"It was a warning."
Attai pulled the trigger, summoning Way Big between himself and the Chronian forces.
“Is that supposed to intimidate us?” The general tsked. “We prepared for the eventuality of fighting giants a long time ago. Ship crew, if you would?”
The warship hovering above the battlefield suddenly shuddered and began shifting parts around with a mechanical creaking. Within seconds, the ship had reconfigured itself into the shape of a humanoid mecha, then landed on the ground in front of the To’kustar to block its path.
“Oh yeah, our warships can do that, by the way.” Gauss said.
“You couldn’t have told me that sooner?!” Attai snapped.
“In what conversation would it have even come up?!”
Way Big and the Chronian mecha squared up, exchanging blows at a rate that seemed far too fast for their size. The Chronian foot soldiers began advancing, prompting Attai to summon a new card and transform for himself, turning into an orange-and-black horned alien with a flowing cape named Sabbattoir.
Sabbattoir’s orange accents turned purple as he created a magic circle underneath the advancing infantry. Those quick enough to notice this did their best to get out of the way, some even speeding up their personal timelines to do so, but a large number of them were unable to dodge in time before a series of massive earthen pillars shot up from the ground beneath them, slamming into their bodies and shooting them up into the air.
The unit’s general growled and unleashed a blast of energy that shattered the pillars, returning his troops to the ground. He lunged forward and fired a wide blast of temporal energy at Sabbattoir, aging him to near-death before Era and Gauss stepped in to reverse the effect.
“You’re being reckless, general.” Era admonished. “You don’t have a Multitransference suit like we do; using your powers full-on like that is going to mess up your body.”
“If I lived in fear of being hurt, I wouldn’t be in the military.” The general hissed. “I know what I’m doing, traitor.”
Attai summoned another card and ran it through the CataloGun, but when he went to pull the trigger, nothing happened.
“What the hell?” Attai looked over it in confusion.
“Time isn’t the only thing Chronians can control.” The general sneered. “Manipulating an inferior species’ technology is child’s play.”
“First off, this thing was built by a Chronian.” Attai snapped. “Second, goddammit, I forgot you people could do that.”
“I forgot we could do that.” Gauss looked over at Era and shrugged, receiving another shrug in return. “I don’t even remember the last time it came up.”
Way Big stumbled backwards, tripping over onto his back as he received a heavy uppercut to his chin from the Chronian warship mech. His body dissipated, too damaged to continue fighting.
“And with that, I believe you are officially out of options.” The general gloated.
“You got anything else up your sleeve?” Gauss asked Attai. “Some sorta super psychic blast or something?”
“As convenient as that would be, no, I can’t say I do.” Attai grunted. “Our best hope at this point is just to run for it and jump timelines.”
“And then what?” Era questioned. “They’ll be able to follow us.”
“No idea.” Attai clicked his tongue. “I want to get the Key Points back in one place to make sure they’re safe, but that’s not a very good option if we have an army chasing us.”
“Hey, uh, isn’t this treason?” One of the soldiers suddenly spoke up.
Everyone abruptly turned to look at the odd one out that had said something.
“I’m just saying, this is two-thirds of the primary governing body right here.” The soldier elaborated. “Don’t they have majority rule?”
“The Chief Judge is able to veto the authority of the First and Second Judges at any point.” The general growled. “This has been the law for years now. It should not be news.”
“Sure, but who the hell actually agrees with that law?” The soldier continued as a few members of the squad started murmuring. “Besides, it’s not really a law if nobody wants to enforce it, right?”
“Enough with this nonsense!” The general snapped. “Two of you grab him and throw him into the brig! We’ll be disciplining him once all this is over!”
None of the soldiers moved.
“What are you doing?!” The general yelled. “Someone take him already!”
“O-kay, was not expecting this.” Gauss blinked. “Any idea what’s going on?”
“Ke mentioned her husband’s experience with the infantry being dissatisfied with the current regime.” Attai put a hand to his chin in thought. “I think we’re seeing an example of that.”
“Wait, when the heck did you meet Ke?!”
“Sorry, general, but nobody’s on your side on this one.” The outspoken soldier said. “We’ve put up with a lot of crap for the pride of Chronia, but murdering the last two people in power who give a shit about us is going too far.”
“Traitors, the lot of you!” The general shouted. “I’ll see you all executed for this!”
“Surprisingly enough, saying you’re going to sign our death warrants isn’t going to get us back on your side.” The soldier tsked.
“This isn’t over!” The general hissed. “This unit may be lost, but the rest of the army will not stand for this! Mark my words, this ground will soon be painted with your blood!”
The general teleported away, leaving the defectors behind with Attai, Gauss, and Era.
“Holy shit, you actually did it.” One of the soldiers looked over at the one that had been talking. “Here I thought you were just full of hot air.”
“I am full of hot air, and that air just so happens to fly out like a gale.” The outspoken soldier took off his helmet, revealing long, flowing black hair and purple eyes. “How pissed you think he’s gonna be when he finds out the entire army hates his fucking guts?”
“Hey, wait a second...” Gauss squinted as he examined the soldier’s face from afar. “Well, Zehn, speak of the devil.”
“Hm?” Attai raised an eyebrow.
“That guy who just stuck up for us is Shi.” Gauss explained. “Ke’s husband.”
“...And Millennia’s dad.” Attai concluded. “Wonder if he knows Epact’s gunning for his daughter.”
“Epact’s gunning for what now?” Someone asked from right behind him.
Attai jumped a bit and whipped around to find Shi standing there with his arms folded, having evidently teleported over.
“Uh...Millennia.” Attai blinked. “Epact wants her dead. Obviously.”
“Yeah, I figured as much.” Shi sighed, shaking his head a bit. “But you’re on her side, right?”
“How did you-”
“I got a call from Ke a few minutes before we set out.” Shi explained. “She told me what was going on, and since you’re with Era and Gauss, I have to assume you got them on your side now.” He nodded at the two of them. “Been a while, you two.”
“You’re not mad that we almost got into a death match with Millennia?” Era asked nervously.
“Oh, like you two could do it anyway.” Shi laughed. “C’mon, you’re not Epact. You’ve got some integrity.”
“Not to mention they just straight-up suck at fighting.” Attai coughed into his elbow.
“Alright, well, I gotta get back to my squad and talk out what to do next.” Shi said. “I can’t promise you field support, but whatever we end up doing, Epact’ll at least have a bit less cannon fodder to throw at you.”
“We appreciate it.” Era gave him a slight bow. “It couldn’t have been easy to stand up like that.”
“Nah, the talking was the easy part.” Shi chuckled. “The action’s where we’re all gonna be testing our mettle. Good luck with Epact.”
“Good luck with the army.” Gauss nodded with a grin. “Glad to have someone we can rely on.”
“There’s a lot more support in the military for you two than you know.” Shi said. “As for you, white-haired guy...”
He paused for a moment.
“...I’m just gonna go ahead and assume you know what you’re doing.” He eventually shrugged.
“Surprisingly, vaguely, yes.” Attai tsked. “Now let’s get a move on.”
"Shit." Millennia reached into her storage dimension and pulled out her Multitransference suit belt, throwing it around her waist to generate the suit around her. "Divara, get behind me."
"And who is this, now?" Epact's eyes narrowed. "A friend of yours?"
"Touch her and you're dead." Millennia hissed.
"So, a bit more than a friend, perhaps." Epact clicked his tongue. "Nevertheless, I'm here for you. I couldn't care less about whoever this is as long as they stay out of my way."
"My name is Divara." Divara glared down at him. "You're Epact, right? If you're here to kill Millennia, I'll tell you right now that that isn't going to happen."
"If you know my name, then surely you must understand the gravity of this situation." Epact tsked. "I am a Chronian. I could age you to dust where you stand."
"And I am a Celestialsapien." Divara rebutted. "Mostly, anyway. I became part human to become a singular mind, but even still, I could end you with a thought."
"You could if it weren't for Millennia, you mean." Epact raised the Nullifier Gauntlet into the air and activated it. "As an engineer, she surpasses even me. A shame she doesn't have the same intelligence when it comes to common sense."
"This coming from the guy who'd rather end the universe than ask for help." Millennia spat.
“Millennia, we are walking gods.” Epact hissed. “Time, technology, reality itself can be bent to our will. If we have all this power and cannot survive without assistance from those beneath us, then we do not deserve to survive.”
“Goddammit, Epact, get a fucking grip!” Millennia snapped. “All you do is talk about how superior we are to everyone else, and that’s just not how this shit works! We’re just a bunch of assholes born in the same universe out of the same stardust as everyone else. Nobody is ‘beneath’ us!”
“We were forged to inherit this reality by Chronia herself!” Epact argued. “Bowing down to outsiders is an insult to our creator and our heritage!”
“Do you have any idea how many species have beliefs revolving around them being the special people made by a special creator?” Millennia shot back impatiently. “No! Of course you don’t! Because you’ve never bothered trying to learn about them!”
“Even if that is the case, I’d imagine it wouldn’t be difficult for a lesser species to fool themselves into believing they occupy a space in the universe reserved for our people.” Epact scoffed at her. “Your statements prove nothing.”
“Okay then, you wanna know why I’m a better engineer than you?” Millennia’s right eye began to twitch. “Because I pull together knowledge and ideas from all across the multiverse instead of hiding away in my bar’s basement trying to fix a capacitor circuit I could get better parts for on another planet! If there’s one thing that’s become blatantly obvious to me over the years, it’s that this tribalistic bullshit you’re peddling just doesn’t work!”
“You think sacrificing tradition for personal gain puts you on some sort of moral high ground?” Epact growled. “Well, congratulations on your success. All you had to do to achieve it was spit in the face of your ancestors!”
“Fuck our ancestors, Epact!” Millennia yelled. “They’re dead! This isn’t their world anymore! We can respect what they did for us, but if we never try to move beyond their actions and ideals, we’re just going to stagnate as a species! Blindly following tradition and draining our resources is what got us in this situation in the first place!”
“Our society was built on a solid foundation that is not for us to disturb.” Epact reholstered the Lunar Blade and summoned his Drauzaz. “If you aren’t willing to recognize that, then I have no choice but to kill you for the good of our world.”
“That foundation is flawed and needs repair.” Millennia’s eyes narrowed as she reached into her storage dimension and pulled out the Cross-Timer module. “If you aren’t willing to fix it, then I’ll have to do it myself.”
Epact summoned a card and ran it through the Drauzaz as Millennia placed the Cross-Timer module in her belt, constructing a twin-barreled hovertank right next to her. The tank fired as Epact pulled the trigger and began moving with greatly-enhanced speed, dodging each shot and eventually darting towards Millennia, grabbing the Cross-Timer module out of her belt and throwing it to the ground. The tank disappeared as Epact grabbed Millennia by the throat and lifted her into the air.
Epact was suddenly grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground, forcing him to drop Millennia. He scrambled to his feet just in time to receive a heavy kick in the gut that sent him stumbling backwards a bit.
“Y...you...” Epact wheezed as he caught sight of his attacker.
“Did you forget I was here?!” Divara snapped as she cracked her knuckles. “I might not have my powers, and I’m certainly not much of a fighter, but you know what? I’m still bigger than you!”
“I assumed you might heed my warning to stay out of the way.” Epact coughed a bit, trying to catch his breath. “Clearly I overestimated your intelligence.”
Epact suddenly darted forward, still equipped with his enhanced speed, and plunged the Nullifier Gauntlet through Divara directly below her ribs. Millennia screamed and charged at him, almost getting in a hit before he sped off again, disappearing from view.
Divara slumped to the ground, her vision turning hazy and dark as her blood spilled across the ground. Millennia knelt down and carefully lifted her torso up a bit with her arms, trying to reverse time on the wound to seal it. Unfortunately, it appeared as if the Nullifier Gauntlet’s field was still close enough to be active, removing her ability to do so.
“Why?!” Millennia yelled as tears began to roll down her face. “Why did you try to help me?!”
“Because...I love you...dumbass.” Divara laughed weakly before coughing up some blood. “You tried...to protect me...remember?”
“Y-yeah, but that’s not-” Millennia began to hyperventilate. “Y-you’re going to be okay, right?! C-Celestialsapiens from Earth-83 c-can’t die, right?!”
“Sure, but...” Divara took a deep, labored breath. “This isn’t Earth-83.”
“No...” Millennia pushed down a lump rising in her throat. “No, no, no, you can’t die here, you won’t die here, I won’t let you! I won’t let you!”
“Kinda...funny...when you think about it.” Divara rasped. “I finally figure out how to die...after I find someone...that makes me want to live.”
“Don’t say that!” Millennia pleaded tearfully. “You can’t die! I need you!”
"Millennia...you're the one...who taught me how to move on." Divara gave a weak smile. "So please...don't let me...hold you back."
"I know what I’ve said, but I thought- I thought I'd have more time!" Millennia cried. "You're the only person I have that understands me! I can't lose you! I love you, Divara!"
Divara's eyes closed, her body going limp in Millennia's arms.
"Divara!" Millennia sobbed. "Divara!"
Epact suddenly appeared again, walking up behind her at a normal speed as he disengaged and dispelled the Drauzaz.
"Quite the coincidence, isn't it?" Epact said. "This is the second Celestialsapien you've seen me kill with your own invention."
Epact grabbed the Lunar Blade off its holster and impaled Millennia through the back with it, raising her into the air in front of him.
"What did you expect out of all this? A happy ending?" Epact hissed. "You betrayed your own kind, gave technology to those who could not wield it responsibly, and in the end, you prove to be the downfall of everyone and everything you love. You may have been my apprentice, Millennia, but there's one critical difference between us."
Epact threw Millennia to the ground and raised his blade into the air in preparation for the finishing blow.
"My judgments are never wrong."
As Epact moved to bring the blade down, he suddenly found his body seizing up, as if some outside force pushed against its every move. He struggled against this power, but was ultimately unable to overcome it, essentially being frozen in place.
Epact cut himself off as he felt a hand grab onto his shoulder from behind.
"How's it feel to be the one stuck for once?" A voice came from behind him.
Millennia's eyes widened as she identified the new arrival.
Attai, Era, and Gauss stood behind Epact, flanked by the Omnitrix users the Chronians had kidnapped.
"It's not exactly the same thing as a time stop, but I think it gets the job done." Attai said, gripping Epact's shoulder even harder. "Bit harder to pull off, though."
"The mutt!" Epact hissed through gritted teeth. "How are you doing this?!"
"It's something I have to thank you for, actually." Attai let go of Epact and stepped out in front of him, revealing his eyes to be aglow with psychic power. "I never would've considered using my abilities like this if you hadn't crippled my access to the Archives earlier."
"You do realize you're already too late?" Epact hissed. "The Celestialsapien half-breed is dead, and Millennia's wound is still going to be fatal without her ability to reverse her blood loss."
"What did you say? 'The Celestialsapien half-breed is dead'?" Attai cupped his hand to his ear mockingly. "Yeah, about tha-"
"You dare to mock me, mutt?!" Epact snarled. "Even if I can't move, I can still call upon our ground troops!"
Several portals opened up behind Attai and Millennia, carrying a few Chronian soldiers with them. As they moved in to attack, the finisher announcement of a Hybrider belt suddenly sounded off, and they were quickly dispatched by a wide kick from an armor-clad figure that shot in front of them.
"When did you summon a Hybrider?!" Epact demanded.
"I didn't." Attai said. "All I did was bring a belt along with me."
The Hybrider knelt down next to Millennia. Their armor was a shining platinum color sparkling in the light as if it were covered in stars. A three-horned crest sat in front of a dark-blue plume set into the top of their helmet, while a similarly-colored cape covered in stars flowed from their back.
"You really should have let me finish." Attai tsked.
The Hybrider gently lifted Millennia off the ground and cradled her in their arms.
"I love you too, Millennia." They spoke warmly.
"Divara?!" Millennia exclaimed, recognizing her voice. "You-you're alive!"
"What?!" Epact yelled. "How is that possible?! That injury should have killed her!"
"I remembered something when I saw Divara’s body." Attai said. "The injuries I had from the DecaSystem's temporal backlash when I first put on the Hybrider belt were damn near fatal, but all of them got healed when I transformed. Since Divara fits the criteria for using one of these things, I figured the solution here was obvious."
"That function of the Hybrider system was not recorded in the Archives!" Epact growled.
"It's not something advertised as a main feature of the belt, it's just a handy side thing." Attai smirked. "There are some things you can only learn through hands-on experience."
"Damn it!" Epact yelled. "Just who do you think you are?!"
"I already told you, the name's Attai Zehn." Attai said, twirling the CataloGun in his hand. "And I'm here to send you to hell."
"Like Bomb 2 Hell?" Alan suggested.
"Shut the actual fuck up."
"What gives you the right to stand in my way?" Epact hissed. "You're nothing more than another one of Millennia's mistakes!"
"Trust me, a lot more people are mistakes than you'd think." Attai replied flatly. "Try hitting me with something I care about."
“You wanna talk mistakes, how about being such a shitty boss that half the army is rebelling against you?” Gauss tsked. “Turns out your soldiers aren’t too keen on throwing their lives away in a pointless war. Who’da thunk it?”
“Traitors!” Epact yelled. “Do you have no shame?!”
“I could be asking you the same question.” Era folded her arms. “You ignore the will of the people for years, suppress the public discourse, create a mandatory draft for an easily avoidable conflict fueled by nothing but pride, and you have the gall to call us traitors? What happened to you, Epact?”
“I have kept the values of my ancestors!” Epact growled. “Nothing ‘happened’ to me, because I have not changed! You, on the other hand, have become almost unrecognizable!”
“People change as society progresses and time moves on, what a shocking revelation.” Attai commented dryly. “If you’re getting worked up over this, I have some facts about water being wet that are gonna blow your mind.”
“Do not condescend to me, mutt!”
“But it’s just so easy.” Attai tsked.
“You could barely hold my weapon in place with your powers when we first met.” Epact hissed. “How much longer do you really think you can hold me?”
Alan pulled up the Simplicitrix and transformed into Diamondhead, pulling crystal out of the ground to engulf Epact, trapping him inside a diamond prison.
“He doesn’t have to.” Diamondhead boasted, crossing his arms as he reverted to Alan in a red flash. “Good luck time-controlling your way out of that, asshole.”
“Okay, thanks for that.” Attai let himself slump over a bit, wiping away the blood that started spilling out of his nose. “I actually have no idea how long I’d’ve been able to keep that up, but I was definitely running out of stamina.”
“That won’t contain him for long.” Era noted. “It might take him a few minutes, but even diamond can’t last forever against the physical impact created by our temporal energy.”
“Then you should all get moving.” Attai said. “Take the kids to the Archives and see if you can shut down that machine.”
“I’m afraid it won’t be that easy.” Professor Paradox suddenly popped into existence nearby, walking towards them. “It appears Epact had the foresight to have a military unit occupy the Archives. I doubt they’ll let you simply walk in.”
“Okay, where the hell have you been?” Millennia asked, looking a bit annoyed.
“I’ve been trying to sort out the mess caused by the unstable temporal energy wave created by Epact’s machine.” Paradox explained.
“Yeah, we weren’t the only ones that got hit by that multiverse position scrambler or whatever it was.” Alan nodded. “Just in the universe I ended up in, there were Ectonurites on the moon, Atrocians at the gym, and I’m pretty sure I saw Winnie the Pooh beating the shit out of Sephiroth.”
“That last one’s actually normal for that universe.” Attai grunted. “It’s got Kingdom Hearts in it for some godforsaken reason.”
“...That only raises further questions.” Alan pursed his lips. “But no, I wasn’t talking Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, I meant Xi Jinping.”
“Considering how much pandering Disney does to China, you could argue he is Disney’s Winnie the Pooh.” Attai coughed.
“BTFF is now banned in China and your social credit score has dropped by 10 points.”
“Hey, the Chronians may have an army, but you have an...us!” Ann piped up. “We can take on an army, right?”
“In what universe?” Kenny shot Ann a baffled look.
“Well, if I’m understanding all this right, I don’t think the Archives are in any particular universe, so...” Ann rocked her hand to the sides. “None, I guess.”
“We’re all gonna die.” Kenny groaned.
“Speak for yourself.” Alan tsked. “You have any idea what I’ve got in this watch? I’m an overpowered self-insert OC. I am fucking invincible.”
“Yeah, well, the rest of us aren’t...whatever the hell you just said you were.” Serena snapped at him. “Sasha can’t even transform! I can probably rely on the Solar Bracelet to protect me, even if I don’t fully understand it, but there is no way I’m gonna let you put her danger like that!”
“Serena, it’s okay.” Sasha took her hands and looked her in the eye. “I might not have any superpowers like you or the others, but I’m not defenseless. As long as we’re together, I know everything’s going to be okay.”
“Oh, for the love of...” Attai grumbled, summoning a card and running it through the CataloGun. “Look, I can appreciate the ‘go-get-’em’ attitude, but you’re gonna get absolutely bodied out there without a transformation. That being the case...”
Attai fired at Sasha, transforming her into a white-shelled variant of Ridejacker with gold accents.
“Hang on a second, isn’t that the alien you used earlier?” Kenny pointed between her and Attai.
“Yep. Ridejacker.” Attai nodded. “Basically invincible unless you’ve got a black hole or two lying around, and as a bonus when fighting time manipulators, the species doesn’t age. Can hijack technology, too. If anything, she’s safer than the rest of you now.”
“Well, fantastic for her.” Kenny huffed, sinking to the floor. “Too bad you can’t deck the rest of us out like that.”
“Who said I can’t?” Attai raised an eyebrow.
“Because if you could, it would’ve been pretty dumb of you not to have just done that from the start.” Kenny scowled.
“Beiß mich.” Attai rolled his eyes. “You want the time-proof alien or not?”
Attai sighed and fired the CataloGun off at each of them in order, transforming Kenny into an identical copy of his Ridejacker, Ann into a red-shelled variant with gold accents, Serena into a white-shelled variant with red accents, and Alan into a red-shelled variant with black accents.
“Whoa, what’s with the oddly uniform Technicolor?” Ann asked, looking between herself and the others.
“Ridejacker’s species has more than one color pattern.” Attai explained. “But they all stick to some combination of red, gold, white, and black.”
“Alright, alright, we can handle the cannon fodder real good like this.” Alan smirked.
“Gauss and I will try to calm things down so there won’t be any ‘cannon fodder’.” Era shot him a look. “Let’s not go killing anyone if we don’t have to.”
“Hey, I wasn’t suggesting that yet; RWBYA’s later down on my personal timeline.” Alan tsked. “I’m just saying we’ll keep ‘em off your back.”
Alan suddenly froze in place as the red on his body was gradually subsumed by a pale purple color. His transformation reverted, leaving him back in his human form, but now with glowing purple eyes.
“You again?” Attai raised an eyebrow.
“With all due respect- which I suspect to be none- I’m not about to go placing my bets on an overgrown mollusk.” Pride, possessing Alan’s body, raised the Simplicitrix. “We have a form much better suited for this situation.”
Pride rotated the Simplicitrix dial until he landed on the alien he wanted and slammed down on the faceplate, transforming in a purple flash. The light faded to reveal a zombie-like humanoid alien covered in torn flesh that rippled and crawled in a constant cycle of decay and rebirth. His arms and legs were covered in black armor with purple accents, with his noseless, desiccated face sporting an unpleasant bulldog-level underbite.
“What’s that thing supposed to do, die aggressively?” Attai snorted.
“This form can control and is immune to time, making it a perfect counter to the abilities of the Chronians.” Pride’s new form snorted. “I believe my moron of a host called it ‘Decayed’.”
“Well, it’s an apt name.”
“Enough talking.” Decayed huffed. “Let’s get this over with.”
Decayed use his powers to transport himself, Era, Gauss, and the Ridejackers away to the Archives.
“I suppose I should go keep an eye on them.” Paradox tutted. “Divara, if you could return to Earth-83 and make sure everything is in its proper place?”
“On it.” Divara nodded. “Millennia, let’s head back.”
“Actually...I’ll be staying here to fight Epact.” Millennia took her hands and looked up at her. “This is my mess. I need to help clean it up.”
“Are you sure about this?” Divara asked worriedly. “You could die.”
“Me? Nah, I’ll be fine.” Millennia reassured her. “But just in case...” She looked over at Attai. “You mind scanning my data into the Archives real quick?”
“Might as well.” Attai raised the CataloGun and scanned her with it. “Better safe than sorry.”
“Feel better?” Millennia looked at Divara.
“I guess so...” Divara mumbled. “Just...be careful, okay?”
“Don’t worry, honey, I got this.” Millennia gave her a grin. “You promise me you’ll be safe, okay?”
The two of them reflexively leaned in for a kiss, but paused as they remembered that Divara’s Hybrider armor was covering her face and ended up settling for a tight hug before Divara separated from her and disappeared, shortly followed by Professor Paradox.
“You know that backing you up in the Archives only helps if I survive long enough to revive you, right?” Attai questioned.
“Well, don’t go dying on me, then.” Millennia shrugged.
“Wasn’t planning on it, but still.” Attai grunted. “Hey, in theory, I could use your data to transform into a Chronian, right?”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t recommend it.” Millennia waved off the suggestion. “At any rate, I gotta grab something real quick.”
She walked over to where she had been standing when Epact ripped the Cross-Timer module out of her belt and surveyed the area, finding it lying in the grass a few meters away.
“Alright, let’s try this again.” Millennia scooped the module off the ground, but hesitated right as she was about to click it into her belt. “Actually, you know what? Attai, you handle ranged weaponry more often than I do. Swap with me.”
Attai nodded and tossed over the OS and UAF modules, getting the Cross-Timer Module tossed over to him in return. He swiftly threw it into his belt and activated it, pulling the lever on it to generate the tank armor around his body.
"Now, if you're able to hit him with those cannons, great, but I wouldn't count on it." Millennia advised. "You should be able to shoot down his ranged attacks, though."
"Right, because it can't ever be easy." Attai sighed.
"Hey, we're Chronians." Millennia chuckled. "This is the easiest dealing with us is gonna get."
“And what’s stopping him from just shutting our tech down remotely?” Attai asked.
“My tech’s all Chronian-proof.” Millennia tapped on her chestplate to accentuate the point. “Be kinda stupid to develop anti-Chronian weaponry you can’t stop them from controlling.”
“Yeah, fair enough.” Attai cracked his neck a bit. “I’m just never too sure with you.”
“Hey, if I was predictable, I would be boring.”
Epact suddenly burst out of the crystal encasing him, scattering diamond shards across the battlefield.
“Are you really so pathetic as to seek assistance from a member of a lower species in defeating me?” Epact hissed at Millennia. “I’m ashamed you were ever my student.”
“I’m ashamed I couldn’t convince you to do the right thing.” Millennia’s eyes narrowed.
“I am doing the right thing!” Epact roared furiously. “I am upholding the laws and traditions of our people! Why can’t you understand that?!”
“Something being a law or a tradition doesn’t make it right.” Attai interjected. “That’s something I’ve learned first-hand. Our focus should be on protecting people, not institutions.”
“As if I’m going to take advice from a species whose entire lifespan passes by in a mere century.” Epact spat. “Just who do you think you are?”
“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: the name’s Attai Zehn.” He stated, jabbing a thumb at himself. “I’m a Timewalker, a psychic, and three people in one. I’ve traveled beyond the edge of the multiverse and back again. I tasted death and I told it to fuck off. I’m a fighter, an archivist, and more important than all that...”
He cracked his knuckles.
“I’m a guy who always gets the job done.”
As soon as they had entered the Archives, Era and Gauss’s team had been set upon by foot soldiers, but with four Ridejackers and one basically a Chronian on their side, they had largely no trouble making their way through them. The two Judges’ attempts at diplomacy were ended before they could begin by Epact’s unit having woken up and chosen violence that day, and their pleas to stop fighting were generally ignored and occasionally flipped off.
“Figures Epact would have his most loyal soldiers guard the machine, huh?” Gauss grumbled as Kenny tossed several of them across the room with Ridejacker’s strong, wire-like tendrils. “Feels like trying to talk down a brick wall.”
“Hey, it’s not too big a deal.” Ann shrugged. “We’re immune to all their attacks and they’re not immune to concussions, so we can fight all of them if we have to.”
“Given enough time, yes, but the Cross-Temporal Detonator is still running.” Era pointed out. “If it reaches full power on an unstable setting like this, we’re all dead, and every second we spend fighting is another second we aren’t stopping it.”
“If we weren’t fighting a bunch of other Chronians, we could just freeze time and not have to worry about it, but under the circumstances...” Gauss pulled out his Drauzaz and shot away a soldier barreling towards him. “Yeah.”
“So what do we do about it?” Sasha asked.
Before Era could reply with the unhelpful but truthful answer that she had no idea what to do about it, a mysterious set of vines appeared from behind the corner of the hallway in front of them, growing across the floor and walls and grabbing onto the Chronian soldiers as they passed. As soon as they had been grabbed, the soldiers seemed to fall unconscious, immediately going limp in the planet’s grasp.
The vines stopped growing as soon as they had captured the last conscious Chronian soldier, leaving the room filled with an eerie silence.
“That was...strange.” Serena approached one of the vines. “What are these things?”
“I’d stay away from those if I were you.” An unfamiliar voice sounded from down the hallway.
A flower-like humanoid alien with white petals and a pink and black body approached the group, followed closely by Nova-4.
“Hey, didja miss us?” Nova-4 greeted them with a grin.
The flower-like alien reverted back to Theo-4, making the vines disappear along with his transformation.
“Nightmare Garden’s vines put anyone they touch into a dream state.” He explained. “They should be out for at least an hour or two.”
“How did you guys get here?” Gauss asked. “Didn’t you get flung off to some random part of the multiverse like everyone else?”
“I brought them here, actually.” Professor Paradox appeared next to Gauss, making him jump a bit. “Theodore has a transformation that can transport him between worlds as well, but bringing them here myself was going to be just a bit faster; rather important, seeing as time is of the essence.”
“Right...” Gauss grumbled, his hearts still pounding a bit. “So can you get us to the machine room that fast?”
“I certainly don’t see why not.”
With that, Paradox disappeared from the room, this time bringing everyone else with him.
Attai stumbled backwards as the Cross-Timer armor’s cannons fired, unprepared for the amount of recoil they would create.
“You doing okay, dude?” Millennia chuckled, activating the UAF module in her belt.
“You could have at least warned me about the recoil.” Attai grumbled as he regained his balance.
“It’s a tank that turns into armor with two massive cannons.” Millennia pointed out. “Why would there not be recoil?”
“This is genuinely sad to watch.” Epact twirled the Lunar Blade around in his hands, having used the Nullifier Gauntlet to deflect Attai’s attack. “The most powerful weapon in Chronian history, and you hand it over to a human mutt who can’t even use it properly. Your utter faith in these inferior species is very inspiring, but even moreso idiotic.”
“You’ve never seen what these ‘inferior species’ can do.” Millennia snapped back. “I’ve got faith in Attai because I know what he’s capable of. You’ve got no idea what’s coming to you.”
“How threatening.” Epact drawled sarcastically, slowly turning his gaze back to Attai. “If Zehn was capable of defeating me, he would have done so alrea-”
Attai was gone.
Beefing with Millennia had distracted him so much he didn’t even notice him disappear.
Where is he?
Epact turned around to find Attai behind him, placing the Cross-Timer’s cannon mere inches away from his chest.
“Pro-tip:” Attai narrowed his eyes. “Only waste time talking in a fight if you’re absolutely sure you’re safe.”
Attai fired, blasting Epact into the ground at an angle. The power of the cannon’s beam drove Epact through the earth like a living drill bit, burying him in a hole several meters deep.
“Oh shit, nice.” Millennia whistled, teleporting over to Attai. “Think that got him?”
The earth in front of them suddenly exploded, knocking them backwards as a very annoyed Epact proceeded to climb out of the now much wider hole.
“Oh, come on!” Millennia coughed from inhaling all the dust in the air. “Even that stupid gauntlet shouldn’t be able to protect you from that kind of kinetic impact!”
“It didn’t.” Epact raised his left hand, revealing his CataloGun Drauzaz. “I sped up my personal timeline in order to apply a new ability to myself just before I was hit: Invincibility.”
“Aw, crap.” Millennia groaned. “Attai, you got anything that can undo Invincibility?”
“In theory, yeah, but the Nullifier Gauntlet would basically neuter their powers.” Attai stated. “Any other ideas?”
“This is beyond pathetic.” Epact scowled. “Just give up and die already. Only a Chronian would stand a chance of defeating me, and as you can see, even that isn’t working. What could you possibly throw against me, human?”
“A lot of things, but most of them probably wouldn’t work.” Attai grunted as he pulled himself to his feet and summoned the CataloGun. “That being said, if you’re so confident that only another Chronian could defeat you...”
Attai summoned a card and swiped it through the CataloGun’s side slot.
“Then I say we should test that theory.”
“Attai, hang on a second!” Millennia’s eyes widened as she recognized the card. “That’s not how-”
Attai pointed the gun into his palm and fired, transforming in a green flash. The light faded to reveal a Chronian figure in black armor with bright green lights adorning their suit. Millennia seemed to fall unconscious, dropping to the ground as Attai’s new transformation cracked its neck.
“This has gone on long enough.” Attai said. “Let’s finish this, Epact!”
He attempted to step forward, only to find that he couldn’t move half of his body. All of a sudden, the lights on the left side of his suit flickered and turned magenta as if going through a new boot-up sequence.
“Dammit, Attai, what did I tell you?” Millennia’s voice sounded from the left side of the suit with a hint of annoyance.
“What the hell?” Attai blinked (or technically ‘winked’, in this case).
“I gave you that card so you could bring me back with it because Chronians have a cross-temporal singular consciousness.” Millennia huffed. “That means we can pop up in whatever new bodies we might end up getting.”
“You couldn’t have told me that beforehand?!” Attai snapped.
“I thought it was kind of obvious!” Millennia retorted. “You’ve heard about Eon, right? The hell did you think was happening when his consciousness took control of his Omnitrix counterpart?!”
“If that’s how it works, then why did you just collapse over there?” Attai used the arm he had control of to gesture towards Millennia’s unconscious body.
“Believe it or not, it kinda takes some practice to use two bodies at the same time!” Millennia tapped her side of their head. “Eon planned for it ahead of time! I just got thrown into this out of nowhere because you used the goddamn card too fast!”
“This little fumble of yours is so bemusing that I’m almost inclined not to kill you just to see how this ends up playing out.” Epact tossed aside his Drauzaz and lifted the Lunar Blade into the air. “Almost, but not quite.”
“Oh, shut up already!” Attai and Millennia proclaimed in unison, moving in-sync as they threw bolts of temporal energy that knocked the blade out of Epact’s hands.
“...Hang on, did we just-” Attai started.
“Yeah, we synced.” Millennia clenched her side’s fist in and out a couple of times. “I think this body might actually have more power than usual because there are two timewalkers sharing it. If we can figure out how to maneuver this thing together...”
“-Then we can overpower Epact, at least physically.” Attai sighed. “Well, this isn’t my idea of an ideal situation, but as long as it works...”
“-You can put up with it for now, right?” Millennia finished. “First thing’s first, though; what are we calling this thing?”
“Well, most Chronian names are based on time, right?” Attai thought aloud. “And since you and I were both involved in Project Deca to some extent, I’m thinking-”
“Decade, got it.” Millennia interrupted.
“I was going to say ‘Decasecond’, but I guess ‘Decade’ works too.”
“Is your name really the most important thing for you to be focusing on right now?!” Epact yelled, throwing a time beam at them.
“Well, it was up in the air what we were going to call this thing.” Attai used his arm to deflect the blast with an energy sphere. “The fact that we’re gonna kick your ass was pretty much predetermined.”
Decade switched the CataloGun into sword mode and summoned the Gatling card, placing it in the back slot of the gun. As soon as they pulled the trigger, a rain of energy swords shot forward, whirling around like the barrel of a Gatling gun. Epact rolled across the ground to retrieve the Lunar Blade, which he used to deflect the incoming barrage.
As soon as the hailstorm of energy swords ended, Epact hesitantly lowered the Lunar Blade, only to be greeted by Decade swinging at him with the CataloGun’s sword blade covered in flames, courtesy of the power of the Heatblast card they had loaded into the back slot.
The two of them clashed swords back and forth, eventually locking blades in a test of who would break first. To Epact’s surprise, the CataloGun sword’s flames intensified to the point that they began melting through the Lunar Blade, carving a neat slash into it.
Pulling away before the Lunar Blade could be completely cut in half, he holstered the blade and re-summoned his Drauzaz, loading another card into the back slot.
“Saishū kōgeki!” The Drauzaz announced. “Surf! Chūi shite kudasai!”
A tsunami-sized wave burst forward from the Drauzaz, threatening to engulf Decade whole. In response, Decade summoned the DekigotoCam and pulled out a photo of a tornado, tapping on the back of the picture to activate it. As soon as the tornado appeared, the harsh winds crashing into the raging waters created a hurricane-like gale of epic proportions.
Threatening to be blown away by the combination of wind and rain, Epact froze time, creating a surreal environment of water droplets warped by the winds becoming perfectly still. He and Decade caught sight of each other on opposite sides of the storm and charged towards their opponents. They met in the eye of the storm, clashing blades while surrounded by an almost ethereal mist.
Epact kicked Decade backwards into the storm and let time resume, allowing them to be swept away and tossed about in the wind. Feeling fairly proud of this little trick of his, it took him a minute to notice what sounded like the mechanical voice of the CataloGun speaking through the storm.
"Sehr Gute, ZEHN! Team! MEGA! Multi! Young! Protector! Evolution! Horizons! Tech! Revolution! Bio! Das ultimative Finale!"
The storm suddenly dissipated, blown away by the power of ten universes congealing into one massive final attack. Epact swung around just in time to cross his Drauzaz and the Lunar Blade in front of him to block a flying kick from Decade that carried the full power of the finisher.
Instead of falling to the ground, Decade simply kept on pushing with the kick, seemingly defying gravity as the unnatural forces of ten universes colliding broke the laws of physics around them. Epact’s Drauzaz and the Lunar Blade were quickly disintegrated, their physical forms simply unable to handle the raw energy being received. All that was left to block with was the Nullifier Gauntlet, but even that seemed to be having trouble handling the force of the attack.
“How is this possible?!” Epact demanded. “This gauntlet should be rendering your attack powerless!”
“It should be, but this isn’t our attack!” Millennia shouted. “We may be using the body of a Chronian right now, but this is the power of ten worlds combined! The power of worlds you wanted to destroy!”
“This is more than something as simple as reality bending.” Attai chimed in. “Each world I visit, every strange character I encounter, they all have their own stories, and as much as I might hate or groan at those stories, they all mean something to someone. They all carry part of someone’s soul, for better or for worse. Someone like you, who only cares about your own story, and thinks they can write the end of everyone else’s...”
The Nullifier Gauntlet finally broke, removing Epact’s last line of defense.
“Wouldn’t understand that at all!”
“Damn you, mutt!” Epact hissed through his teeth, finding himself unable to teleport out as he poured all of his power into creating a wall of temporal energy between him and Decade. “Damn all of you! Traitors, aliens, the whole lot! I will not die here! Chronia will be restored!”
“Yeah.” Attai said. “It will be.”
“But not by people like you that chain yourselves to the past.” Millennia continued the thought. “It’ll be restored by people that can pave a new path towards the future.”
The temporal wall began cracking.
For Epact, the reality of the situation finally set in.
This was his last stand.
“Promise me one thing.” He grunted. “If my ideals are truly rejected by the universe...you must at least follow my desire...to protect Chronia.”
“Of course we’re going to do that.” Millennia replied.
“I am-...we are heroes, after all.” Attai concluded.
“Then I have no choice...” Epact took one last, long breath. “But to leave it to you.”
The temporal wall fell, allowing Decade’s finishing kick to pass through. Epact’s body instantly dematerialized, returning to the stardust from whence it came.
The resulting explosion, if anyone were around to see it, could have been seen hundreds of miles away.
Attai and Millennia appeared in the Archives with a green and a magenta flash, respectively. Gauss and Era were busy working on the Cross-Temporal Detonator with the assistance of Paradox while the Omnitrix users, most of them still Ridejackers, stood watch.
“Well, look who it is!” Alan greeted them. “Either you two are ghosts or you kicked Epact’s ass. To be honest, I’d be fine either way.”
“We are alive, thank you very much.” Attai scowled. “And yeah, we beat Epact. Threw ten universes at him all at once.”
“I’m not even gonna question how you did that.” Kenny approached them. “Can you turn us back to normal, please?”
“Oh, right, sure.”
Attai punched in a sequence of numbers on the CataloGun’s number pad that deactivated the Ridejacker transformations, returning everyone to their human forms.
“Aw, I kinda liked being an alien.” Sasha pouted. “It felt really awesome!”
“It...was nice to have superpowers and control over my own body at the same time.” Serena nodded in agreement.
“Man, you guys really got the shaft as far as Omnitrix users go.” Alan shook his head. “Look into breaking the fourth wall. You can get away with just about anything as long as you lampshade how weird it is to the audience.”
“I think I’ll pass.”
“Yo, Millennia!” Gauss looked up from his work. “Epact?”
“Blew him up.” Millennia replied.
“Hey, whatever works.”
“We’ve just about managed to reverse all the damage the Detonator created when Epact overloaded it.” Paradox stated. “All that’s left is to shut it down for good.”
“No.” Attai shook his head. “There’s still one last thing we need to do with it.”
He looked over at Millennia, who nodded and walked over to the control panel.
“What are you doing?” Era asked.
“I told Ke we’d be bringing Chronia back into the multiverse after all this.” Attai said. “Can’t let the machine get shut down until we do that.”
“Since it’s just punching one hole through space-time, we should be able to do this without any collateral.” Millennia stated. “If Epact wasn’t such a hard-headed assmunch, we could’ve just done this from the beginning.”
Millennia flipped a few last switches and turned a dial to activate the machine one last time.
“Here we go.”
Professor Paradox activated a panel on the wall that projected a direct view of an empty spot in time and space. Through the monitor, those gathered in the room could see space itself bend, warp, and ultimately rip apart as the planet of Chronia manifested itself, being pulled back into its original orbit in its original solar system for the first time since time immemorial.
Millennia flipped a few more switches on the machine and the hole in space-time closed, leaving Chronia back exactly where it belonged.
“Incredible...” Era breathed. “I...never thought I’d see the day.”
“You almost didn’t.” Millennia shot a grin at Attai. “Looks like my fuck-ups don’t always turn out badly, huh?”
“I wouldn’t get too cocky.” Attai stated flatly.
“Man, I know I should be happy and all, but all I can think about right now is how much of a pain getting the government back on track is gonna be.” Gauss sighed wearily. “I mean, I guess it could be worse, but this is still one huge mess.”
“Hey, at least we’re not dead.” Era shrugged.
Paradox walked over to Attai and the Omnitrix users, who looked at him expectantly for the most part. Theo-4 and Nova-4 simply stood off to the side chatting about something or other.
“I’ll return these three to their own worlds.” Paradox gestured at Alan, Serena, and Sasha. “I believe you were already in Ann and Kenny’s world when this all started, so you should be able to both return them and finish scanning their universe into the Archives.”
“Right.” Attai nodded, vanishing with Ann and Kenny in a green flash.
“Hey, um, when you return Sasha and I to our world, do you think you could take us back to Earth?” Serena asked the professor. “We were kidnapped by pirates and we keep almost dying and...I just want to go home.”
“I’m afraid that would be too much interference on my part.” Paradox shook his head. “Your journey is an important part of your universe, and if it were to be cut short by outside forces such as myself, your world could very well fall apart.”
“...That’s a pretty solid ‘no’ then, isn’t it?” Serena’s face fell.
“I am sorry, but there’s truly nothing else I can do.” Paradox said. “Finding your way back home will be up to you. All I can do is assure you that you are both much stronger than you know.”
“Is that actually true, or are you just trying to cheer us up?” Sasha looked at him skeptically.
“Well, in the end, I suppose that’s up to you.”
Attai, Ann, and Kenny abruptly reappeared in the latter two’s world, resuming their original positions right before time had been stopped. Attai restarted time, allowing their conversation with Dr. A, AKA Albedo, to continue.
“What the-” Albedo narrowed his eyes. “What happened to you three? It’s like I blinked and all of a sudden you look like you’ve been hit by a truck.”
“Time shenanigans, long story, don’t worry about it.” Attai sighed. “Alright, recap, you fix...whatever this whole mess is and let the kid keep the watch, and I let you keep your kneecaps. Capiche?”
“I don’t appreciate the threat, but fine.” Albedo scowled. “Not like you’re giving me much of a choice.”
“Alright, good.” Attai stood up and used the CataloGun to scan the area. “That counted as a Key Event, so it looks like you’re not lying. I’ll head out and leave you to it.”
“Hey, Attai, before you go,” Ann jumped in. “I just wanna say thanks. For everything.”
Attai gave her a nod of acknowledgment before vanishing in a green flash, leaving their timeline back in its proper state.
A FEW MONTHS LATER
“How do I look?” Millennia asked worriedly. “Is my hair too long? Is the dress too big? Do I have a sunburn?!”
Millennia stood in front of a mirror in a dressing room, wearing a luminous, marbled purple gown adorned with magenta Chronian gemstones. Standing next to her carrying a second mirror was a tuxedo-clad Attai, who was looking a bit annoyed as per usual.
“You look exactly like you said you wanted to. Everything’s fine.” He assured her with an irritated sigh. “Why did you want me of all people to help you with this?”
“Because you are extraordinarily blunt.” Millennia took a deep breath to try and relax. “If you say I l look fine, I must look fine.”
“Fair enough.” Attai tsked. “Ceremony starts in a few minutes. Feel ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.” Millennia turned to look at him. “To be honest, I’m a bit more nervous about this going well because...well, I never thought I could have this. A wedding ceremony with my family. My friends. I thought I had lost all of that for good, and if it hadn’t been for you...I really would’ve. I-I don’t even know what to say other than...thank you.”
“That’s all you should say because I am extremely uncomfortable with receiving genuine gratitude.” Attai stated with an awkward clearing of his throat. “Now get out there and marry that woman.”
Millennia gave him a smile and a brief nod before exiting the room. Attai sighed and teleported into the main hall, taking a seat next to Paradox. Also in attendance were Millennia’s parents, Gauss, Era, and a few other assorted Chronians Attai was unfamiliar with; various members of Millennia’s extended family, he would later find out at the reception.
The wedding hall itself had been custom-built by Divara and Millennia themselves to reflect the theme of the wedding, with grand, arched ceilings that twinkled with the starlight of outer space. At the end of the hall was a podium resembling a rotating galaxy, which is where the ceremony itself would take place.
After a few short minutes, Divara and Millennia emerged from opposite sides of the hall and gently approached each other on the podium. Divara wore a long, elegant dress glowing with nebulas and stars; it was a beautiful dress, but a bit hard to look at without wearing sunglasses, all truth be told.
The two of them leaned in and whispered to each other their vows; this ceremony was based primarily on the Chronian version of a marriage ceremony, colloquially known as a ‘Temporal Union’; the ceremony itself was quiet and intimate; after giving each other their vows, they took each other’s hands and closed their eyes, pressing their foreheads together.
This was the most important and symbolic part of a Temporal Union: the two of them literally glowed for a moment; just a moment, but in that moment, they had exchanged with each other their temporal energy, effectively entwining their personal timelines for eternity.
After this, they exchanged rings and sealed their union with a kiss, ending the ceremony with a grand display of affection. The rest of the attendees stood up and cheered, which Attai hesitantly joined in with.
Millennia summoned a bouquet and threw it out into the audience; its trajectory was inadvertently carrying it towards Attai, who noticed this and gave it a subtly psychic nudge so that it landed directly between Gauss and Era instead. The bouquet wasn’t part of any Chronian ceremony so really they had no idea what the hell was going on, but the incident made Attai snicker a bit internally anyways.
As it turns out, all the quiet and subtlety of a Temporal Union was always immediately and jarringly offset by the absolutely wild nature of the reception. Attai tried to avoid mingling as best he could, but somehow ended up getting roped into a drinking contest with several of Millennia’s relatives. He couldn’t tell if Chronians were lightweights or he really was just a walking German stereotype, but he held his liquor far better than anyone else in the room; unfortunately, the only prize for this drinking contest was a hangover the next morning.
As day turned to night and the reception slowly drew to a close, Millennia and Divara approached a slightly inebriated Attai, who was talking about various vaguely work-related topics with Professor Paradox.
“Ah, guten Abend” Attai greeted them. “Wie geht's?”
“What?” Divara blinked.
“He said ‘good evening, how’s it going?’.” Paradox translated for her. “Apparently he slips into German more often when he’s tipsy.”
“Right, sorry.” Attai coughed. “Was ist- I mean, what’s up?”
“I just wanted to thank you again for helping to make this possible.” Millennia grinned. “This has been the absolute best day of my life.”
“Mine too.” Divara pulled Millennia closer with a smile. “I never really saw myself being able to settle down with someone again.”
“Alright, again, uncomfortable with public displays of gratitude and/or affection.” Attai grunted. “But, uh...you’re welcome, and...I’m really happy for you.”
“Aw, come here, you big ‘ol softie!” Millennia pulled Attai into a hug that he promptly began trying to squirm out of.
“No touching!” Attai huffed, teleporting out of Millennia’s grasp. “No touching! I do not do touch!”
“He has accidentally sent several Archivists to the medical wing like that.” Paradox nodded.
“Alright, whatever you say, man.” Millennia laughed. “Whatever you say.”
And so, life goes on.
For Millennia and Divara, together, and for Attai, alone.
Well, sort of alone.
Not quite as alone as he would like.
But somewhere deep down, I think he knows that’s a good thing.
And so, his journey continues.
And the possibilities he will discover are endless.
- Chronia is restored.
- Millennia and Divara get married.
- Attai Zehn
- Alan Nomaly
- Ann Declanson
- Kenny Tennyson (Earth-775775)
- Serena Sefa
- Sasha Thali
- This movie has been rewritten and delayed so many times since the end of 2019 like holy shit I am so done with it
- Onore Decade