Previously: The Divine Farce
Themesong: Children’s Crusade by Sting
People should learn to listen to me when I tell them they need my help. Seriously. I got a very politely worded form letter from Lady Seto and another from the Marshall of the Galaxy Police that they’d be able to handle two runaway kids and wouldn’t need help from a Jomei of all people. Since, in theory, the children weren’t mine, I was being treated not as a concerned relative, but as an individual who’d had her property stolen… an individual who was only marginally considered to have the legal right to claim such property in the first place. It was like a Mobster complaining about a stolen car.
As such, by the time Yuzuha had regenerated enough to allow for a pursuit, I had half a dozen Galaxy Police Cruisers standing by to keep me from “Seeking Vengeance” against those who had dared cross me. I was also receiving notices that the Jomei’s had taken the thefts…. badly, and, rather than lose face, were relentlessly pursuing the boys.
And then there was Lady Tokimi, who, inbetween sulking about her destroyed mirror and raging at Yuzuha for destroying it, was in various stages of wigging out, as that mirror contained fragments of her power… much like Washu’s Gems… but in a much less stabilized form. And there were a great many more shards.
And all the while Reggy was becoming progressively more and more unhinged. Twice I caught her spitting out Wax Spiders in preperation to ramping up to space flight before I pointed out that getting enough Vord to get to the Space age would take a couple of decades unless she used Takers and I absolutely wasn’t going to allow that on Earth… especially not an Earth I liked.
Which all meant that I had four fires merrily blazing away and only one of me. Unfortunately for Reggy and Gaius, dealing with the fragments of 23rd Dimensional power came first, but that meant Splitting the Party as it were. I sent Gaius, Reggy, Caine, Uriel, Kendra, Velma, and Francy off with Sasami & Ayeka and Mihoshi & Kiyone and Yosho to try and round up the boys (I also tricked Seiryo into going with them to “keep Yosho safe”). And I even loaned them VIctor, who would know how to track VIvian if anyone did. That left me with Dyna who was stuck as a Monkey, Yoiko who was stuck as a Warthog, Rayray who was stuck as an Anaconda… Plus Lady Tokimi of the Moodswing, Washu-Chan of the Insane Science, Ryoko of the Kelptomania, Ryo-Ohki who was cute and disposed of the carrots, Yuzuha who occasionally ate people’s souls… and Tenchi. Oh, and my two Guardians, Cirno and Toph… Elisabeth du Treeface and Toooooph.
You’d think that would be enough firepower to deal with the issue, wouldn’t you? Well… you’d be wrong. First off, the sheer size of the galaxy meant that we almost immediately had to split up even further. Like a Space Opera version of Journey to the West, Ryoko, Ryo-Ohki, RayRay, Dyna, and Yoiko collectively took what Star Trek would have called the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, while the rest of us took… the rest of the galaxy.
It was a giant treasure hunt, only with rumors of nightmarish horrors to follow instead of a map. I felt very much like I’d entered the pages of Inu-Yasha, except that the monstrosities formed out of the shards of Tokimi’s mirror weren’t just terrorizing feudal Japan, they were destabilizing entire sectors of the galaxy… which, of course, was making it all the easier for the two would be conquerors to swoop in and collect the worlds we’d just managed to liberate through blood, sweat, and plasma weaponry.
On one world, we faced an armada of flying, heavily armored megapedes crawling forth from a dark abyss. They swarmed up from the planet’s surface like a sea anemone and spawned almost, but not quite, as fast as we could kill them.
On another world, the entire moon had turned into a giant flesh… thing… one gaping mouth spewing higher order… shapes that shifted and changed from moment to moment, each of them vomiting destruction in forms that 4-D life was not meant to understand.
On yet another world, the natural order of things was falling apart and things like gravity and time were beginning to break down in terrifying ways, meaning we’d have to sprint through one zone before it utterly self destructed, our ability to fly disrupted by the shifting gravity, meaning we’d have to leap across bottomless chasms as we went, all while laying waste to the hideously mutated lifeforms that populated this soon to be destroyed world.
With each retrieved fragment of the mirror, Tokimi would retreat into seclusion to slowly, meticulously fuse the quantum puzzle back together, each piece taking longer than the last to fix into the framework she and Washu had created. Years past as we raced from one system to another, always arriving too late to avoid some calamity or other, the challenges growing greater as each new threat had more time to mature and grow…
And yet, for all that, we failed to see the greatest threat of all until it was upon us. Tokimi’s power was bound up in the fragments, that we knew, but as she linked more and more of those fragments together, unstable as they were, she was, unwittingly, linking herself back to a heavily damaged soul focus… and that process was, in the end, not good for her mind.
After seven grueling years, we had finally completed our half of the quest, all save one final grouping that had been gathered by the nefarious Dr Clay and his new Android Theta. Theta, crafted by the mad scientist to help him escape Galaxy Police custody, had been custom designed to contain and harness the incredible power of the fragments and, we estimated, contained roughly 23% of the total shards. Tenchi’s group (which had had many more beach episodes than we had) had managed to collect 31%, and my group had the rest.
We confronted Dr Clay on his newly built fortress-ship, battling through the mutants and death traps he had waiting for us, many of them modelled after our previous foes. It wasn’t fun. Finally, we reached his gaudy-ass throne room, his shrine to his own beard as it were, and confronted him. We, as the saying goes, laid the smack down upon his aged ass (he’s like 22,000 years old… but pretty spry.)
“Surrender the Shards, Clay.” Washu-Chan demanded. “And we’ll only spank you a little bit.”
“Speak for yourself.” Tokimi growled, looking a little unsteady.
“Yeah! I like spanking!” Yuzuha added, not at all helpfully.
“Enough!” I snapped “Give us the shards or I’ll pith you very slowly with needles of ice so cold they make absolute zero seem like the surface of a star.”
“I… I surrender… you can have the-”
“NEVER!” yelled Theta, the purple armored, nigh featureless android rising from where it had lain for most of the battle.
“Si… silence, you hunk of junk. I will not be betrayed by another machine! I am your Mas-”
“You are nothing!” the android said, armor flowing, melting. “You were but a pawn. I am not the mindless thing you called Theta! That was merely a ruse! For behold! I am-”
“D3?!” Tokimi gasped.
“Er… yes… I am… I was called that, once, back when I served the great Chosin Tokimi… but you have fallen from Grace! Now I sha-”
“Whoa… you’re one of Toko’s little helpers, right?” Washu-chan asked.
“I was! Once! But now I wi-”
“I thought I told you to erase Clay’s memory of the Chosin,” Tokimi said pointedly. “I’m most disappointed in you.”
“Maybe you should bust him down to D2,” I snarked.
“SILENCE! I Have claimed these Shards as my own. And once I take from you those you have claimed, I… Steyav! Shall take my rightful place as RULER of the-”
“Steeeve?” I asked, incredulously. “Your real name is Steve?”
“Not Steeve! Steyav! It’s totally… look, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to kill you and then I shall become one with-”
“No, really… The Great and Powerful Steve? The All Powerful Steve! All Hail Steve the Conqueror? It doesn’t work. I’d stick with Theta.”
“THETA WAS MY SLAVE NAME!”
“Dude… chill. Just… look, give us back the-”
That might have been where negotiations broke down. Dude hit me with, like… all the gravity. Seriously. Ouch. If I hadn’t turned to spirit form I’d have been crushed flat in a second. As it was, everything hurt… more than I had conceived of everything hurting. Then, before I could even begin to dream of reacting, he started collapsing the fortress in around us, pulling all the mass in it into a singularity. Washu managed to get Me and Tokimi out, and Yuzu got Toph out, but Cirno’s screams as she was sucked into the blossoming black-hole haunt me.
Everything in the star system was falling in upon us. The sun itself was rolling towards the event horizon, shrinking and warping as it came. We tried to flee, but the pull was so great that Yuzuha could barely keep us in place and the two Chosin were staggering as they fed her power from their very souls. It did not look good. I wanted to help… I did… but the pain… it was everywhere. I could only stand with Toph’s help. And then I saw it.
A deep planet… what in the Sol System would be called a Kyperbelt Object, a mass of tens of millions of comets all collapsed in on each other, a frozen ball of methane and water ice and who knows what all, pulled in by the collapsar, and behind it the mass of the system’s Ort Cloud, the space between those orphaned comets shrinking as they fell into the growing gravity well… I had to do something, and in that moment of desperation, I did. I reached deep within, drawing on my oldest power, drawing on thirteen millennia of practice and training…
And I drained the cold from that planet, sucking it into me like the breath of life… and then, like a drunkard blowing all his cash, I sent every iota of it out again, not even keeping enough to heal myself… but I didn’t send it into the maw of Steve’s blackhole… I linked myself to every one of those trillions of comets… and ate them too.
My mind exploded with cryogenic might. Time seemed to slow as my neural network became a single superconductive machine… but it wasn’t enough… I couldn’t calculate what I needed to calculate. There had to be a solution… and so I grew. I got bigger, drawing on the cold to transform myself into ever greater amounts of computing substrates… bigger, and bigger, and bigger. First I was the size of a house, then a city, then Texas… and still I grew, my size doubling every few seconds as I used the Blackhole’s gravity to pull more and more comets into my system. And then, in a blinding moment of satori… I had it. It was bone damned simple, really.
“Yuzuha!” I cried, opening myself up to the connection we shared “Tree of Darkness… Grant me your might.” And she did. Tenchi can suck it. Wings of the Lighthawk… that’s for… okay… okay… those are serious fucking shit. But they’re defensive, even if they can be used for offense. I needed offensive… that could be used for defensive… in a big way… and I needed it now. I called upon the Wings of the Darkhawk… and blew D3 across all 22 dimensions of The Chosin’s reality.
Remember how I said I needed offense that could be defensive? Yeah… that came in super handy a femtosecond later as the blackhole that was destabilized and went hypernova. Thankfully, it was a very, very small hypernova… but it still shattered six of my seven wings. I think Tenchi wins… ow… ow… ow…
Oh… and then I died.
Okay, okay… not really and not for very long and it was actually about 12 minutes later as Tokimi scooped up Theta-Steve’s Mirror Chunk and merged it with her own… at which point she went off the fucking rails crazy and… yeah… well… I died. Good thing I picked up that Stone of whatever the fuck it was… the… freaking 1-up from Demon’s Souls.
Never let anyone tell you dying doesn’t hurt. I mean, yeah… it really doesn’t… but coming back from it… oh… my… Chosin… ow… Look… I get it… 77% of an nth-dimensional Goddess going psycho… not good… but… ow… she didn’t have to hit me in the existence. That shit hurts.
Unfortunately… I seem to have stopped time. Like… all of it. I’m not sure how I did it… I suspect it might be something similar to how Kesler (Big Bad From Infamous… electrokinetic conduit God) time travelled. If electrokinesis could do time travel… I suspect my cryokinesis is what allowed me to… well… stop time.
Kami-Tenchi tapped me on the shoulder. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t mean to! She hit me with… stuff… like… stuff I don’t even… I’m not even a 5th dimensional being yet… I should not be exposed to 19 dimensional fisticuffs. I’m pretty sure that violates the Marquis of Quantumberry Rules or something.”
He smirked “How do you know it was 19-D?”
“18-D doesn’t hurt so much and 20-D hurts more?” I hazarded.
“Ah. Think you could start time again?”
“I have no idea how I stopped time… especially not on what looks like, at the very least, universal scale.”
“Same way you generated 7 Wings of the… I should have suspected she could do that.”
“Oh… yeah. Me too. Obvious really when you stop and think about it. Oh… and yeah… those two were feeding her power… I tapped into it… right… fair enough… anyway… umm… I’m guessing I shouldn’t mention this to either of them yet… hey… while we’re here… can I have the rest of the mirror? I think that might… ah… thanks. Look, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but you are freaking really bright and hard to look at.”
“Yeah? You look like a hole in the quantum fabric of all creation.”
“Oh… good… that’s not terrifying or anything. Anyway. Nice… umm… right… gotta go now.”
I shoved the final chunk of mirrors into Tokimi’s wavelength, grabbed Washu-Chan, Toph, and Yuzuha, and teleported as far away from Tokimi as I possibly could. I’ve never managed anything like interplanetary distances before… this time I crossed half the galaxy. I face planted in Tenchi’s carrot patch, too drained to move.
“Fucking… carrots,” I groaned. I have never, ever, in all my centuries of life… been so glad to smell carrots… and dirt.
But what, I hear you asking, about the boys and their dreams of Galactic conquest?
Well, with Tokimi doing her impression of the Eye of Chaos from Warhammer 40k (I.e. giant nebula sized maelstrom of a dimensional vortex rift into realities beyond mortal understanding), Washu-Chan trying to keep me from cryovacing Earth (I’d become hypercrogenic and could not, for the life of me, figure out how to turn it off… I was, literally, walking hyperice… when I could walk), and Yuzuha reverted to a seed again because her shipself had been shattered into flinders… I had bugger all to do with it.
Reggy and her crew had had absolutely zero luck apprehending the twins. None. Goose Egg. They always seemed to be almost about to catch one of them when the other would do something that caused them to rush off to put out some other fire. And their empires were growing. Scipio was rousing all the Juraian underclasses and warhawks into a massive armada, while Invidius was rousing all the anti-Juraian forces he could muster. It was shaping to be a massive showdown. And then Tokimi went scary and knocked out all the hyperdrives in the galaxy for about a week… at which point VIctor became the only vessel in galaxy capable of FTL… and Reggy and Gaius and Caine used the time wisely to set up a trap.
I wasn’t privy to the details, but I understand it involved a magical sword, two very nice cages, and approximately 80,000 Vampiric Vord Knights… I didn’t ask. I was, frankly speaking, scared to. On the plus side, the twins are grounded for the next 10 jumps. On the downside… they’re coming with us. Apparently Reggy and Gaius are under the opinion that their offspring are too dangerous to be left to roam free on this poor clarketech galaxy. So now I have to put up with them.
Oh… turns out, they don’t need Takers. People just obey them. Fuck. They’re even scarier than their parents. I told them never to use that ability on any of my companions or me or each other ever… and backed it up with everything in my bag of tricks. I don’t need this craaap! What I need is a nice bath, actually… but right now, I can flash freeze magma. I hope this ends when I get a new body. Still, I have two and a half years to figure out how to make a bikini that keeps me from freezing the beach solid. I wonder if I’ll have learned not to throttle the little brats by then.
Next: World ? – Twist in the Tale