12Talmidhttps://community.lego.com/t5/Stories-of-LEGO-UNIVERSE/Servant-of-Darkness-Being-the-first-book-in-the-Stromling/td-p/2525720/highlight/false/page/82This is a sequel to Servant of Darkness, The Search, and Full Circle.
Availability: Fading Fast can also be found here.
Author's Notes: This is a sequel to Servant of Darkness, The Search, and Full Circle.
All tales come to an end. Or do they? The adventures of our brave and valiant heroes, Gallant Strong Cyclone, Kate, Cheerful Power Rover, Master Blade9, and their friends didn't end with the Maelstrom's return. They continue the battles, the victories, and the adventures.
This can only mean one thing.
This story is far from over.... and that Talmid lied about not making a saga.
Gallant Strong Cyclone dove under the mech, Wormholer revving and ready to bring upon the Maelstrom Minion's doom.
The chainsaw sliced cleanly through the mech's underside, exposing circuitry and shorted-out wires.
"4hhhhhh h3lp m3 n0000000000000." the mech monotoned before exploding in a shower of sparks. Cyclone quickly collected the loot that spilled from the mech's remains before returning to Epsilon Starcracker.
The Nexus Force scout looked over Cyclone's report which he had handed to him a moment earlier. "Nice going," Epsilon muttered. "That's ten less Stromling Mechs out here, but they'll be replaced soon enough with the Maelstrom back."
"You've been saying that for like, the past month, Epsilon," Cyclone told him while taking off his helmet, letting his short brown hair rustle in the wind.
Epsilon sighed. "I was really hoping the Maelstrom was gone for good," he murmured, and went back to his duty of giving weapons to freshies off the always-crashing Venture Explorers.
Cyclone glanced at the steady flow of new recruits. The Venture Explorer was a touchy subject. It was said that every recruit in the Nexus Force originated from there, yet Cyclone had no recollection of his current friends being with him on the doomed starship. In fact, when he had escaped from the ship, it was only him and six others on board. Yes, Cyclone counts recruits.
Whatever. Cyclone took the next mission from Epsilon, and was about to go smash fifteen Stromlings when a Bat Lord with its speed boost ability on max power streaked by, nearly tripping Cyclone. Actually, it did trip Cyclone, and the Paradox Space Marauder fell face-first, or more accurately, jaw-first, onto the grassy ground near the Avant Gardens Paradox Lab.
"Oww," Cyclone groaned and picked himself back up. "Intrepid, you get back here NOW!" he shouted, and the Bat Lord returned.
"Ooo, sorry 'bout that." Intrepid Fusion Eclipse apologized. "I was chasing after some loot, sometimes it's as if they sprout legs and run away." He took off his Bat Lord Helm, and holding it under his arm, stared into into the bright sky, letting his long black hair blow in the wind. "A gorgeous day, isn't it?" he commented.
"Yeah," Cyclone agreed. "Anyways, as you were saying about the magical living loot?"
"Oh, almost forgot. Z'ya!" Intrepid took off again in the direction he thought his loot had rolled off in. Cyclone sighed, and went off to smash those Stromlings, or to be more accurate, Stromling Invaders.
When the Maelstrom returned, they came back in full strength. Mindless Invaders lead by the old named enemies from before (Admiral Flogmore, Muffet Bane, Roo Morg, et cetera) had invaded each world once again. Crux Prime, without a functional Nexus Tower, was extremely overrun, and only the strongest of recruits had been sent there. There were even rumors that to combat the new threats, the Nexus Force was considering putting the mysterious Rank 4 gear into mass production.
With Nexus Tower uninhabitable, Nexus Force HQ had been relocated to Nimbus Station, the faction leaders included.
So Cyclone was surprised when Epsilon called him back to his post.
"Yes sir?" Cyclone asked, stepping back to the scout.
Epsilon cleared his throat. "Vanda Darkflame is here to see you at the launch area. In fact, she wants to see you and your friends. I already sent notifications to them, but since you were right here, I thought I would give it you old-fashioned way: Speech."
Cyclone blinked. "And it is?" he asked.
"I already told you," Epsilon told him. "Miss Darkflame is at the launch area to-"
"Okay, fine, I get it." Cyclone stated. "Thank you sir, I'll be off." With that, he sprinted towards the Sentinel Base Camp and the Sentinel Caves, where from there he would go up the monument and follow the road to the launch area.
Cyclone jogged towards the monument, but then came to a stop. There was someone by the pet bouncer, and feeling lucky, Cyclone decided to see if he could get a free ride.
That person was none other than Cheerful Power Rover, a Rank 3 Venture League Buccaneer, and the pet was his monkey George, whom he was trying to coax into setting off the bouncer.
Cyclone walked up to him. Rover was flapping his arms at his sides and shrieking, "Come on, just step on it! You can do it, George."
The monkey was pretty stubborn, and wouldn't step onto the bouncer. It eyed the mechanism uncertainly, and gave a few screeches to show its determination.
"Ahem, I've got an idea," Cyclone said, and Rover jumped five feet into the air.
"Ah what- or, its you." Rover sighed. "I still can't get used to seeing you in gear, Cyclone. Anyways, your idea? I'm open to it, as long as it isn't taking Orange Path up the monument. It's the longest. But yellow-"
"No, it's this," Cyclone told him, and reached into his backpack. He pulled a healing banana out, and placed it on the bouncer. "Watch."
George stared at the banana, then back at the bouncer it, Cyclone, and Rover stood on. Food won out. George took a cautious step forwards, and then another. The next step it took put the monkey on the button, and as soon as it stepped onto it, the two Rank 3s and the banana with a screaming monkey named George clinging onto it were bounced high up into the air, coming to a landing on the grassy ledge above.
"Nice one," Rover commented, and he reached out his arm to George. The monkey hopped on, and clung to the Venture's shoulder as he and Cyclone walked down the road.
When they got to the launch area, standing by the mailbox was Vanda Darflame, Intrepid, and some of their other friends, namely Kate, Master Blade9, Sergeant Ghost Mustache, and Intrepid's cousin Shrill Failed Brick.
Vanda sighed them, and gestured for them to come over. "Greetings," she told them, and began passing out briefing papers. "I've got a mission for you guys, and it involves one of the largest mysteries ever faced by all of minifig-kind."
Cyclone looked over his papers, and at the top was written in large print and bold, "CASE: VENTURE EXPLORER: VERY IMPORTANT".
They all looked skeptical. "The Venture Explorer?" Blade asked, rifling through the pages. "This sure is a lot of information."
"How do you read that fast?" Sergeant asked, looking over Blade's shoulder. "I'm only an eighth through Page 1."
"As you all know," Vanda continued, "you and all the other members of the Nexus Force came on the Venture Explorer. It was attacked by a Maelstrom vortex, and you had to evacuate to Avant Gardens on modular rockets.
"After this all happened, you progressed through the mission chains and became Rank 3s. When returning to Avant Gardens for who knows what reason, there are still more recruits coming out.
"As it turns out, the Venture Explorer is trapped in a casualty time loop-"
"Wait," Intrepid interrupted. "A what? Repeat."
Vanda glared at him. "A casualty time loop." she repeated.
"So I did hear you correctly," Intrepid said. "I know what that is, it's where after a serious accident, or a casualty, everything reverts back to how it was before, but the casualty keeps on happening, and the whole thing plays out again and again, in a time loop."
"You got it, but yet you guys didn't keep getting blown up in the Venture Explorer's subsequent crash in who-knows-where, or else you wouldn't be here now. And yet each time the loop restarts, the Venture Explorer comes back to the recruiting station, and picks up new recruits, yet its crew remain the same as they were at its first launch."
Kate shuddered. "Creepy. But what about the Return to the Venture Exp;orer?" she asked, pointing to the Return to the Venture Explorer launchpad nearby.
Vanda's cheeks reddened. "I was hoping you wouldn't bring that up," she mumbled, scuffing her feet and digging up some dirt. "It's fake."
Cyclone's, and everyone elses' jaws dropped. "You're kidding me?" he mouthed.
"No, I'm not." Vanda muttered. "It's like Avant Gardens Survival, a simulation."
"And something tells me The Battle of Nimbus Station and all that time travel mumbo jumbo is fake too?" Rover challenged.
"Yes and no," Vanda told him. "The Battle of Nimbus Station is a simulation, since we can't have you actually going back in time and perhaps changing history. But time travel itself is possible, but we don't understand it all that well since we can never get any answers out of the maniacal Wenn Wuzzit."
"Oh, I see." Rover said.
"They're challenges, simulations, fakes!" Vanda proclaimed. "We did it just to keep you guys busy, since if you didn't have anything fun to do you might have decided to leave the Nexus Force."
"Heh, next thing I know you're gonna say the Maelstrom is fake too." Rover cackled.
"No, the Maelstrom is quite real." Vanda stated. "If you could get Mr. Wuzzit to do it, you could have him take you back in time and see the proof of the Maelstrom's reality. But of course, I wouldn't let you."
"And I doubt Wenn would either," Rover finished. "Now, where were we?"
"Oh, yes," Vanda said, and went back to her briefings on the Venture Explorer. "Your mission is to go back to the Venture Explorer, the original, and try and learn the truth to how the Venture Explorer got caught in the time loop, and how to get it out."
"I thought you liked getting new recruits?" Intrepid asked.
"I- We do," Vand stammered, "just think about Sky Lane, and Jett Moonshot, and our Agent Bob, all trapped in the loop yet never knowing that they are-"
"Wait, Sky Lane is right there." Sergeant said, pointing to the smiling Venture agent standing near the Nimbus Station launchpad.
"Oh, I'll tell you how that happened." Vanda told them. "The Venture Explorer's original crew comprised of Sky Lane and Jett Moonshot. Sky evacuated to Avant Gardens, but Jett didn't make it and died in the crash. Sky Lane now stands at the launchpad."
"Wait, what's with Agent Bob?" Intrepid asked.
"When sensors picked up the Venture Explorer again, we sent our Agent Bob to go and do what you're doing now, to discover the truth about the Venture Explorer. As a side note, we know Bob and Sky were B.F.Fs when they were kids, and in this new timeline with Bob appearing on the Venture Explorer, Sky and Bob somehow decided to stay on the crashing ship and perish together with Jett Moonshot." Vanda explained.
"So, there's the 'original' Sky Lane there, and a 'new' Sky Lane stuck in a time loop on the Venture Explorer with Bob and Jett." Rover surmised.
Shrill, who had been silently chewing her lip for the past minutes, spoke up. "Um, how do you know we won't be trapped in the time loop like Bob?"
Vanda looked at her feet, and started digging again. "Um, I don't."
"So you're sending us to our deaths?" Rover challenged again. "Isn't there something in the Nexus Force rule book against taking advantage over other innocents?"
"Lay off," Cyclone whispered sharply at the Buccaneer and placed his hand on Rover's shoulder. Rover's shoulders drooped, and he stopped his attack.
"I apologize, Miss Darkflame," Rover mumbled.
"No, it's true." Vanda sighed. "If you want to drop out, you may."
"I think I will drop out," Shrill announced, and stepped back. "Fusion-dude, if you get trapped in an infinite time-loop of doom, I wouldn't want our family to be without kids at all."
"Nice idea Cuz," Intrepid told her. "I'm glad you're respecting my opinion, since this is an adventure I wouldn't like to miss out on!"
"Then you're going?" Vanda asked.
"Yep," Cyclone finished. "Me, Kate, Rover, Blade, Intrepid, and Sergeant."
"One question, where IS the real Venture Explorer?" Kate questioned.
"Oh yeah, almost forgot." Vanda stated. "The planet Atlantica Prime, near the mid rim of the galaxy. Population of over 10 billion, major source of recruits from the Venture Explorer. The capital Atlantica City, in the commuter zone, at Docking Bay 15. Be there are 8:00 AM or earlier three days from now, that's when the Venture Explorer leaves."
"We'll be there," Blade promised.
After Vanda left, Rover turned to the others, and said, "Shall we start packing?"
The rocket ride to Atlantica Prime was quick and uneventful. Kate had suggested they take rockets over the slow interplanetary transport bus system, and they had all agreed.
After 8 hours of travel, (as opposed to two days of travel) Cyclone, Kate, Rover, Blade, Intrepid, and Sergeant touched down at the transport station at Atlantica City.
Atlantica City was a massive city. Beautiful sunlight filtered through transparent clouds in long beams of dancing light, illuminating the cityscape of hundreds of chrome skyscrapers. Either apartment buildings, company buildings, or commuter buildings such as places for getting passports or transport bus stations. The latter class of buildings were most common in this area, which was the Commuter Section of the city.
"Cool, huh?" Intrepid commented after storing his Pencil Rocket in his backpack. "We're going back to the Venture Explorer, the original!"
"Yup," Sergeant agreed. "I'm just worried about getting trapped in a time loop."
Kate stepped over to a row of hover taxis, and waved her friends over. "Come on, we've got two days till the Venture Explorer arrives, and I don't plan on waiting here." she called.
"Yeah, let's go." Rover agreed, and he, Cyclone, Blade, Intrepid, and Sergeant piled into one of the taxis, and after managing to get as comfortable as possible with six people (excluding the driver) in a small vehicle, the taxi sped off towards Atlantica Hotel.
"Oooh, fancy." Sergeant stated as soon as they entered their hotel room. The recruit quickly ran over to the porch door and slammed it open, watching in amazement as calm waves slapped across the boardwalk below.
"Too fancy for me," Intrepid said while setting down his suitcase near one of the beds, and began unpacking his stuff, which meant tossing and dumping clothes and stuff all over the place until he pulled out a long flat box. "Risk-A-Brick anyone?"
"No thank you, I always lose." Cyclone announced.
"Well, at least it can pass the time." Kate told him. She stepped over to a large noticeboard on the wall, and quickly went over the schedule. "Hotel dinner is at 7:30. And right now it's 3." she said, looking at her watch. "That's a lot of time."
"Yay!" Sergeant said, coming back. "Now let's play."
Less than an hour later, it was just Kate and Intrepid fighting over the rest of the Nimbus System.
That night, and the next day after, passed by quickly. Soon it was nighttime again, just this time the night before the scheduled re-launch of the Venture Explorer.
Kate tossed and turned in her bed. It was already very late, 3 AM in the morning, but Kate couldn't sleep. She was too worried about what would happen once they boarded the Venture Explorer.
Kate sighed, and awaited morning.
"Well, it's Eight O'clock on the dot." Intrepid said, looking up from his black digital watch on his left wrist. "And no Venture Explorer."
Sergeant elbowed him. "Hey, your watch is a minute fast. You said so yourself like, a million times to Shrill."
Intrepid rolled his eyes. "Yeah, but she's my cousin." he told him. " You're not."
"Whatever." Sergeant stated.
"They could at least be a minute early." Intrepid persisted.
Rover glanced at them. "Oh, cut it out. Your constant bickering is making me sleepy."
"I already am sleepy," Kate mumbled from a bench which she was lying down on, her eyes half closed. "I couldn't sleep."
Cyclone shrugged, then noticed a small dot moving across the sky. "Is that-?" he started.
"-the Venture Explorer?" Blade finished.
Rover's jaw dropped. "I never thought I'd see it again."
A bald minifig in a red shirt and blue pants walked by. "Excuse me," he said, and headed towards the boarding ramp.
No one said anything, until Sergeant stated, "Bob. Pretty interesting, huh Intrepid?" he asked.
But Intrepid wasn't listening. Instead, he was looking at two other minifigs, who were also looking back at him.
"Intrepid?" they both said.
Intrepid's frown broke into a wide grin. "Grand and Elite, I wasn't expecting to see you guys here." he said as they walked over.
One of them, a girl with medium-length dark red hair, stepped over to the Bat Lord. "You could say its Mara now, Fusion." she said bitterly.
Kate poked Cyclone and whispered in his ear. "Why do all his old friends call him Fusion?"
"It's his middle name, and it sounds cool." Cyclone explained with a shrug.
Intrepid turned around to face his friends. "Eh, these are two old friends of mine, Mara and Luke, formerly known as Elite Distant Todu and Grand Masterly Shadow, before they were kicked out of the Nexus Force by using jetpacks to enter Nimbus Station."
Grand Masterly Shadow/Luke walked over to them. "When we heard that Free To Plays were having their limits taken away, Mara and I decided we would try the Nexus Force again."
"'Free To Plays'?" Kate asked.
"Limited Recruits," Elite/Mara translated. "Elite Distant Tofu and Grand Masterly Shadow were our Nexus Force names. And Intrepid, uh, he's just called Intrepid."
"Perhaps now with the limits on us lifted, we can have our official Nexus Force names be Mara and Luke." Grand/Luke said hopefully. "Maybe you'll want your names changed too.
Sergeant stiffened. "I'm quite fine with Sergeant Ghost Mustache, thank you." he said, puffing his chest.
"Suit yourself," Grand/Luke told him. Then he caught notice of the starship landing at the boarding platform. "Is that the Venture Explorer? I thought it crashed."
"Me too." Elite/Mara quipped.
"I'll tell you this," Blade told them. "It's in a time loop, and that guy you see there, Bob," he said, pointing to Bob, "is really a secret agent for the Society of Solvers of Mysterious Mysteries in the Nexus Force, or S.S.M.M.N.F or S.M.F for short."
"Did you make that up?" Kate asked him.
"Nope." Blade replied. "It's real. And Bob is trapped in the time-loop too. He's been doing this for countless times, but doesn't know it."
"Poor Bob," Elite/Mara said.
"And we're trying to find out what's causing it, and how we can stop it." Blade finished.
"We're so in." Grand/Luke announced, tossing his head and letting his short blonde hair dance. (even though it's short)
"Yep." Elite/Mara agreed.
"Welcome to the club," Sergeant told them, reaching out his hand which they both grabbed. "Let's solve this case."
"This is all too familiar...." Intrepid mumbled as he surveyed the main cabin of the Venture Explorer. He and the rest of the team were standing in a line of hustling minifigs eager to be recruited into the Nexus Force. Farther ahead at the end of the line, Jett Moonshot was helping minifigs into stasis tubes, where they would stay for the rest of the long journey. It WAS a fact that transport ships like the Venture Explorer took three days to get from Atlantica Prime to Nimbus Station.
"I don't think we're going in there," Blade said, gesturing to the minifigs who drifted into sleep once the doors to the stasis tubes closed.
Cyclone shrugged. "Vanda said the cause of the time-loop was most likely in the Maelstrom Vortex, which we'll only encounter three days from now. So maybe waiting in the stasis tubes isn't as bad as you thought."
"Heh, I don't like missing out on the fun." Blade told him indignantly. "Besides, I have some achievements to finish, and I don't want to have to complete them when everyone is running around screaming. I'll go finish them now." With that the Sentinel Knight ran off, and started looking through the binoculars and mission plaques placed around the ship.
"I don't want to wait throughout three long boring days," Mara stated, and Luke nodded in agreement. "We'll sleep."
"I think I'll get some sleep too," Rover said with a mock yawn. "You might have all the fun, but I prefer a good night's sleep to boring exploring."
"And I thought Ventures liked exploring," Sergeant quipped.
"Heh, then I'm exploring new ways to pass the time." Rover said.
"Well I'm tired too," Sergeant stated.
Cyclone facepalmed. "You too?" he moaned.
"Fine, let's split up." Kate compromised. "No big deal. Cyclone, Blade, Intrepid, and I will explore the Venture Explorer and maybe do some other stuff, like confronting Agent Bob. In the meantime, you, Sergeant, Mara, and Luke can sleep out the three days of travel. Then you'll wake up at showtime, and we can do some real exploring."
"Nice," Rover told her. Then to Sergeant, Mara, and Luke, he said, "It's nap time."
While Rover and the other three continued with the line, Kate, Cyclone, and Intrepid stepped aside and crept over to where they believed Blade to be. But instead the Knight came to them, his eyebrows scrunched together in thought. "I've found something interesting," he told them.
"What?" Intrepid asked.
"Come," Blade said, and waved them over to one of the mission plaques. He activated it, and the message came up.
"VENTURE EXPLORER Captain Bob's log
Engine 2 is leaking Imagination! The Maelstrom has torn apart most of the bow!
I have ordered all passengers to abandon ship while they still can!"
Intrepid shrugged. "So? No big deal."
Blade grabbed his shoulders and shook the Bat Lord roughly. "DON'T YOU GET IT??? ENGINE 2 ISN'T LEAKING IMAGINATION!" he screamed, gesturing wildly in the direction of Engine 2, which was idling, ready to propel the ship all the way to Nimbus Station. Of course, it wouldn't get there, but Blade was still yelling. "THE MAELSTROM ISN'T HERE, AND BOB ISN'T TELLING PEOPLE TO ABANDON SHIP!"
"Wait wait wait, I get it." Cyclone interrupted. "This mission plaque contains information from before the Venture Explorer reset itself after the crash. Each time!"
"I guess that means nobody cares to read these mission plaques." Kate piped up. "Or they could predict the future."
"That's not just it," Blade told them, and took a panel off the back of the plaque. He ripped out some wires, and started fiddling with its motherboard. The screen flickered, and then a new message appeared.
"VENTURE EXPLORER Agent Bob's log, October 26th, 2010.
Everything is the same as before! Engine 2 is leaking imagination! The Maelstrom has torn apart most the bow!
I may be an undercover agent, but my duty to protect my fellow minifigures takes precedence over my mission. While Captain Lane and Pilot Moonshot are working to help the recruits escape, I have promoted myself to temporary captain of the Venture Explorer, and have ordered all passengers to abandon ship while they still can!"
Intrepid's jaw dropped. "Wow." he whispered in amazement. "I never knew our friendly neighborhood Maelstrom Spy would be so heroic."
Cyclone raised an eyebrow. "'Maelstrom Spy' you say?" he asked. "I thought it was an April Fools joke."
"It IS an April Fools joke," Kate told him. "Just some people took it out of proportion. Like Intrepid."
Intrepid raised his hands. "Hey, I actually got the joke and practicaly screamed at everyone who actually thought it real. I'm a good guy."
"But anyhow," Kate continued, "anything is possible. He's an undercover agent for the Society of Solvers of Mysterious Mysteries in the Nexus Force. Bob might actually be a double-agent, hiding undercover in the Maelstrom."
"Or was a double-agent, since now he's stuck here in a time-loop on a doomed starship." Blade corrected her. "And according to this, somehow the mission plaques maintained their information from Day 1, or in this case, Day 2." Then he thought of something. "Hey Kate, you said some people are too lazy to look at these, but apparently you're wrong. Bob obviously wrote this, and will write this again."
"Okay, I'm all mixed up." Kate confessed. "Maybe sometime when the ship goes out of control three days from now, it'll lose its information, and when Bob writes his log he'll be starting from a blank mission plaque. Or he'll just write a new message without looking at the old one. Who knows." she said with a shrug.
"Well, that's what we're here for." Intrepid said. "We're going to figure this all out, right?"
Then a hand clamped down on his shoulder, and they all turned to see a minifigure standing there. Even though his helmet covered his eyes, they could see that his mouth was definitely not smiling, and the words he said next confirmed that.
"And why, may I ask, are you here, recruits?" Jett Moonshot asked disapprovingly.
Cyclone gulped, and glanced wild-eyed at Blade and Intrepid, who were also unsure of what to say. The Kate stepped forwards.
"Is there a problem sir?" she asked, putting a purely innocent look on her face.
"Sort of," Jett answered. "Shouldn't you be in stasis tubes? Wait, you don't look like new recruits. You must be those extra hands Captain Lane was telling me about yesterday, right? Go along now, I mustn't bother you." he mumbled before heading back to his post near the stasis tubes.
Intrepid glanced at the others. "What extra hands?" he questioned.
"Eh, probably something Sky must have mentioned to him sometime or another." Kate explained. When she noticed Jett staring at them, she said slightly louder, "Come on, let's go look for something to help out with."
The team went down some steps, and then around the command circle. A large Heads Up Display screen at the front of the circle showed the ship status in engine power, shield strength, hull integrity, and sensor radar.
Kate stepped into the circle, and took a look at the screen. "There's a loose circuit near the starboard bow." she informed them. "Let's check it out."
Kate lead them to the area in question, and stopped near a panel. She carefully reached around and gripped its edges before taking it off. Underneath was a sparking circuit board, and the origin of the electrical sparks was a small wire, which was loosely connected to a hub.
"Heh, I remember touching this thingy." Intrepid told them. "It stung for a long time."
Kate donned some rubber gloves, and leaning in closer, reached to touch the wire and slightly nudge it more into position. "This hub is wired up to all over the ship, and this particular loose wire transfers some power to the lower hull."
"No wonder I kept getting electrocuted each time I jumped over the railings," Blade realized. "All I wanted to do was check out what those worker dudes were doing. I wonder how many of them were smashed down there."
"Heh, yeah," Kate answered, and gave the wire a small nudge.
A sudden shower of sparks sent a random spark lashing out mere centimeters from Kate's face. She ducked, and waited as the spark shower gradually dissipated.
"Whew," Kate mumbled, wiping her forehead and brushing away from loose strands of her red hair. "I'll need these," she announced, producing some needle-nose pliers from her backpack.
"Wow, something tells me you've got every tool in existence in there." Blade said.
"Not really," Kate replied, while getting to work with the wires. "Why don't you guys go and find something else to work on, while I continue being a 'helping hand'."
"Good idea, let's go." Cyclone said, and with Intrepid and Blade following, headed back to the command circle center thing.
Along the way, they passed by a door, and Cyclone thought he heard some voices. He stopped.
"Hey, you coming?" Blade asked as he and Intrepid walked by him.
"Keep going, I'm just going to check this out," Cyclone told them. "I won't be long," he mumbled, before grasping the door handle and slowly letting himself in.
A narrow hallway stretched on ahead, and light shone into a corner through a doorway a few feet ahead. Cyclone stepped over, and read the sign on the open door. "Office of Captain Sky Lane", it read.
The voices continued from inside the room, and Cyclone stuck his head in through the doorway. Inside were Sky Lane and Bob. And Sky Lane was holding a squealing warthog in her arms.
"I never thought you'd come back," Sky was saying. "I should unleash this veeery scaaary warthog on you."
Trembling, Bob replied, "Please Sky, don't let go of the w- w- wa- warth- h- hog-"
"Never mind, since I've already made up mine," Sky announced, and dropped the pig to the floor. It landed on all four feet, and started tumbling towards Bob.
Bob screamed, and quickly climbed onto a nice green chair behind him, leaving scuff marks on its seat. "Call off your piggy," he begged.
"Fine," Sky said, and picked up the warthog and placed it back in its cage. "Now, first things first," she stated, rubbing her hands against each other. "What are you doing on my ship?"
"Well, um, I'm on a mission from the S.N.F." Bob said.
"Oh yeah, the Society of Solvers of Mysterious Mysteries in the Nexus Force," Sky drawled. "You keep on droning on and on and on about it, like its your life."
"Um, in a way it is-" Bob stammered.
Sky waved a hand at him. "I don't want to hear it. Actually, let's pretend I do. What's your mission?"
"Ahem," Bob coughed, then tried to explain what he was doing. "You probably won't believe me, but the Venture Explorer is caught in a casualty time loop."
Sky leaned forward and glared at him. "Oh, how cool." she grumbled. "A casualty time loop, how awe- wait, a time loop?"
"Yes, all the events that you have experienced in the past 24 hours - except for your meeting with me right now - have already happened." Bob told her. "Just you and the rest of the crew have no recollection of what's gone on. And I'm trying to find out what's caused it, and if possible end it."
"Really? I thought that only happened in sci-fi novels." Sky muttered. "And how am I supposed to believe you?"
"With this," Bob stated, and held up a datapad. "This is a timeline of what will happen in the next three days. Read it if you want."
Sky snatched it and started reading over it. "So now I'm in Avant Gardens?" she asked.
"Yep, I'll show you a picture," Bob replied, and pressed a button on the datapad. A picture of Sky Lane standing by the Nimbus Station launchpad in the Avant Gardens launch area popped up, and Sky stared at it bug-eyed.
Sky sighed, and handed the datapad back to Bob. "Well Bobert, you win. If you already know how the future is supposed to play out, why don't you help us out? Besides, I've been rethinking our last time together, and decided we should make up, don't you think?"
Bob and Sky continued talking, and Cyclone slowly moved away from the doorway. He didn't really care about dramatic emotional conversations like what Bob and Sky were now discussing, so he went back to the main cabin.
The scene was not what he expected.
Cyclone blinked as his surprised eyes took in the scene ahead of him. Alarms were blaring, the lights were dimmed, and through the opposite windows he could see large tentacles of Maelstrom lashing out at the ship.
The Venture Explorer shook, sending Cyclone to the floor. He heard a sound like metal buckling, and watched in horror as a large section of the starboard bow was torn apart and sent flying off into the Maelstrom in a form of crumpled metal.
"There he is!" Cyclone heard someone shout, and turned to see Blade just before he grabbed him. "WHERE WERE YOU??" Blade practically screamed at him.
"What do you mean?" Cyclone asked frantically. "We haven't gotten to the Nimbus System yet, the Maelstrom shouldn't be here!"
"Are you insane!?" Blade yelled. "It's been three days! And you've been missing!"
"Wait- what- oh, oh...." Cyclone realized. "I get it now." he muttered. "Right after I left Sky's office, I must have stepped through a time-slip or something. To me its only been a few minutes, but for you its been.... three days...."
"Well come on, we can't stay here." Blade urged, and heaved Cyclone to his feet. The two minifigures ran towards the command circle, where Agent (now Captain) Bob was calling all minifigures over so he could power on their imagination sparks.
When Bob sighted them, he called, "Jett told me about you, you're the helpers! Guide these recruits to Sky Lane!" he ordered, gesturing to a small group of worried minifigures who had just had their imagination sparks powered up.
Cyclone nodded, but had a question. "Where is Jett?" he asked, looking around the ship, but he couldn't find the pilot anywhere.
Bob glanced at him sadly. "He.... was struck by Maelstrom lightning.... and died."
Cyclone held Bob's gaze in a few moments of mourning for the former pilot, before he grasped the closest minifigure's arm. Then he realized that it was Intrepid's friend Elite Distant Tofu he was holding. "Come on," he told them. "I'll lead you to Sky Lane, then you'll follow her instructions! Hurry!"
Elite and the other minifigs nodded, and Cyclone pulled her with the other recruits following towards Sky Lane's platform.
Quickly Cyclone built the bouncer, and the recruits bounced up and continued the evacuation. Cyclone took his helmet off and wiped the beads of sweat off his forehead. Then he ran back to the command station in hopes that he would meet up with the rest of his friends.
He found Kate, Rover, Blade, Intrepid, and Sergeant by a cluster of boxes filled with rocket parts. "What now?" Cyclone asked, walking over to them.
Kate looked up. "Blade told us what happened with you," she told him. "Now, we have to do what Vanda wanted. We'll wait and see what plays out, and at the same time try and find a way to end the time-loop, while saving the crew in the process."
"Sounds good," Rover stated. "Where do we wait?"
"Here?" Kate suggested.
"Completely fine with me," Sergeant said.
"Yup," Intrepid agreed.
Blade looked towards the launchers, and watched the last minifigures blast off, leaving just them, Sky Lane, Bob, and Jett Moonshot on the ship. "I think we don't have to wait anymore," he said. "Let's get out of here. Anyone have rockets? I left mine at the hotel."
"No," Rover moaned.
"Gah, I'm missing mine," Kate grumbled. "I must have left it at the hotel too."
Sergeant screamed. "I LEFT MY ROCKET TOO NOOOOOO!!!!!"
"Yes," Intrepid announced, and everyone looked at hopefully. "My small one-seater pencil rocket."
"What about you Cyclone?" Blade said, looking at Cyclone hopefully.
"Wait, watch." Cyclone stated, and tilted his chin towards Bob and Sky Lane who were standing by the launchers at the bow of the ship. The minifigures turned, and watched Bob and Sky having an emotional conversation.
"There's only one rocket left Sky," Bob was saying as his eyes began to water with tears. "Leave me, and save yourself."
"Nope," Sky answered him and folded her arms. "If one of us is staying, we both are."
"You've got to," Bob urged, and glanced at the Maelstrom beginning to seep in through the hull breaches. "You're running out of time."
Sky sighed, and took the rocket from Bob. "Alright Captain," she mumbled. "If you insist-" Her words were cut off and replaced with a chilling scream as a wave of Maelstrom lightning struck the inside of the vessel through the holes in the starboard side, shaking the starship violently. Bob reached out and tried to grab Sky's arm, but then the floor in front of him exploded in a massive wall of flame, exploding the rocket and killing Sky Lane.
Bob was thrown back by the force of the explosion, and landed hard on the floor several feet behind where he had been standing before.
Cyclone, Kate, Rover, Blade, Sergeant, and Intrepid had also been thrown off their feet, and in the shaking, the artificial gravity had gone haywire and the boxes of rocket parts which they had been standing by were blown out of the ship. The team of six only survived by clinging to the railings, which began to bend.
"This won't hold us for long!" Sergeant announced, gritting his teeth as he held onto the railing for dear life while the looming hull breach behind him threatened to pull him out into space.
Finally some emergency force fields turned on, and the minifigures pulled themselves back onto the walkway.
"That was bad," Blade groaned, but then he noticed Bob lying limp near the bow.
Cyclone noticed him too. "We've got to help him!" he shouted, and they ran towards him.
"Sky," Bob moaned when they neared him. "No...."
"Quick," Rover told him, pulling the captain to his feet. "You've got to get out of here. Now. This ship is gonna crash, and if you don't get off-"
Bob stood up quickly. "But what about you? It is my duty as captain-"
"Just take this," Intrepid ordered, placing his Pencil Rocket on the launchpad. He grabbed Bob and hauled him into the cockpit. "Evacuate, escape, whatever, JUST GET OUT OF THIS DOOMED SHIP!!!!!"
When Bob didn't make any moves to launch the rocket, and instead was starting to climb out, Intrepid pushed the agent back in, and flipped three switches. The first switch closed the glass canopy, the second switch turned on master power, and the third switch put the engine thrust to maximum.
The pencil rocket blasted out of the Venture Explorer, and the minifigures watched as it streaked away from the Maelstrom Vortex towards Avant Gardens.
"Things will sure be different for Bob," Intrepid commented. When no one said anything, he said, "WHAT?"
"You fool!" Rover screamed and whacked Intrepid in the face. "That was our last ride!"
"Oh, you think you can get away with that?" Intrepid growled. "NinjaaaaaaGO-"
Cyclone grabbed the Bat Lord's arm before he could do a sloppy spin. Then he grabbed Rover's. "Stop, both of you. We have to find a way off, and we won't find it with you two fighting."
Rover sighed, and Intrepid looked at his feet. "Sorry," they both mumbled at the same time.
"Good," Cyclone stated. "NOW HOW DO WE GET OFF THIS SHIP!!!!!!!"
"Like THIS!" Blade yelled, and strapping on an oxygen mask, dove onto the launcher . Before Cyclone could grab him, he had slid down the launcher and out into space.
"Oh no," Kate groaned. "Have we lost him?"
Sergeant stepped over to the launcher, and placed one of his feet on it. "Hey, it's actually not a bad idea. Anyone see his oxygen mask?"
Rover facepalmed. "Don't say you're gonna commit suicide too."
"It's actually not as suicidal as staying on this ship," Kate said. "He DID have an oxygen mask, and a standard one is supposed to supply enough air to last WAY longer than this ship will."
Another blast of Maelstrom struck the ship, and the hull breaches expanded while cracks started forming on the walls and floor.
"That settles it!" Rover cried, and slipped an oxygen mask over his face as he ran onto the launcher. "Yahoo!" he shouted as he hurtled out of the starship into space and the Maelstrom.
"Let's go!" Cyclone yelled, and he, Kate, Sergeant, and Intrepid put on their own oxygen masks. They leaped onto the launchers and out into space, away from the Venture Explorer.
Cyclone spun around as he hurtled further into space. He glanced at the Venture Explorer dizzily, and watched as another lightning strike bulls-eyed the Venture Explorer's engines. The resulting explosion completely engulfed the Venture Explorer, and the doomed starship transformed into a fireball, which after being struck by another lightning bolt, turned to dust and ashes. And it was then that the time loop restarted again, just this time without Bob.
Cyclone turned around, and watched as he and his friends rapidly descended into the atmosphere of a.... PLANET CHUNK??
Small wisps of cirrus clouds streaked by, and Cyclone spread out his arms in an attempt to slow himself, but it had almost no effect in the thin air.
The wispy clouds gave way to larger puffy clouds, and Cyclone tore right through one. The Space Marauder emerged covered in ice with water vapor trailing behind him.
Cyclone's teeth chattered as he left the clouds behind in his rapid descent. He rotated his head, and noticed Kate, also covered in ice, falling a few feet to his left. He reached out his shaking arm and opened his hand. Kate noticed, and stretching her arm, slid her hand into his.
The two recruits fell, and their altitude fell rapidly. They just barely missed grazing into a cliff that suddenly appeared to their right, and Cyclone grimaced as a faraway river below them began to become not as far away as a few seconds ago.
The two icy recruits fell screaming into the water with a splash. It was pretty deep, and it broke their fall and slowed them down considerably, but not enough, since when Cyclone and Kate collided with the bottom, they smashed.
They rebuilt a second later in a field of tall plants.
"Ow," Kate moaned, rubbing her back. "That hurt."
"I know," Cyclone groaned. "At least we're alive."
"Yeah," Kate agreed, getting to her feet. "We should find the others."
With a sigh, Cyclone stood up and followed Kate as she lead him into the tall stalks of.... whatever it was.
The sky was a deep blue color, with long skinny wisps of it in dark purple. Looking closely at the wisps of purple, Cyclone noticed they were moving. Then he realized they were from the Maelstrom Vortex that surrounded the world.
Then a question arose in his mind. If it was Maelstrom, how come they weren't infected?
Kate either read his thoughts, (highly unlikely) or was thinking the same, or similar, things. (more likely) Since she stated, "If that was a Maelstrom Vortex, how come we weren't infected?"
"Maybe its like the vortex to the Darkitect's lair," Cyclone suggested.
"I doubt it," Kate replied. "If it was a wormhole, we could be halfway across the Nimbus System now, and I'm pretty sure we're in the same place."
"I guess so," Cyclone said. He brushed his hand against the stalks of whatever, and watched as they wilted at his touch. "What is this stuff?"
"Well, I did do a lot of research on animals, but not plants." Kate admitted. "Maybe one of the others knows what this is."
"Speaking of the others," Cyclone asked, "where are they?"
"Thyme," Rover announced, brushing his gloved hand over the plants at the edge of the field. "Wilts to the touch of living skin, secretes toxic goo which causes itchy rashes. Touch ONLY with gloves on."
"Isn't Thyme any of a genus of shrubby plants or aromatic herbs of the mint family, with white, pink, or red flowers and with fragrant leaves?" Blade asked.
"Yeah," Rover told him, "but whoever named it 'Thyme' was because it sounded like 'Time'."
"So," Intrepid questioned, "What is this 'Thyme'?"
Rover turned to him, and Blade and Sergeant who were also standing there. "The answer to our mission. Thyme is a reed which is processed correctly, can cause a distortion in space.... and time."
"Whoa whoa whoa," Sergeant interrupted, raising his hands.
"Neigh?" Blade quipped.
Sergeant glared at him, then turned back to Rover. "Did you say a distortion in time?" he continued.
"Yep," Rover assured.
"And the way how its the answer to our mission is," Sergeant took a deep breath, "since the Thyme is what caused the time loop!"
Intrepid looked up at the sky, and watched the purple waves dance through the atmosphere. "Wait a second...." he muttered. "We probably would have been infected if that really WAS a Maelstrom Vortex. Could it be, just maybe, that it is really-"
"-A Time Vortex." another voice cut him off, and Cyclone, followed by Kate, both covered in itchy red rashes, emerged from the field.
"Hold still," Blade said, and rubbed some steroid topical cream over Cyclone's arm, which was covered with rashes from contact with the Thyme. Even though the only direct contact his skin had had with the Thyme was at his hands and some parts of his face, the rashes had since spread, and now Cyclone's arms and face were completely covered in itchy red rashes.
It wasn't as bad for Kate, but her arms were still itchy. "I hate this stuff," she grumbled as Rover applied more of the steroid topical cream stuff on her forearms.
"So," Sergeant stated. "Where do you guys think we are now? This obviously IS the same place, but Rover said Thyme causes a Time AND Space disturbance."
"Maybe this is just a Time Vortex, and has nothing to with Space." Cyclone suggested.
"You took the words out of my mouth," Rover grunted, and he accidentally pressed too hard on Kate as he spread the creamy goo stuff on her.
"Ow!" Kate yelped. "Watch it Rover."
"Sorry," he mumbled, and stood up to check on Cyclone. "You seem to be doing better."
"Uh huh," Blade certified, and finished up with Cyclone. He slapped him on the back, and pulled the Space Marauder to his feet. "You're good to go."
"Thanks Doctor Master Blade," Cyclone said, and picked up his backpack which was by his feet. "So what now? We're stranded on a deserted world covered in fields of itchy Thyme. It's surrounded not by a Maelstrom Vortex, but by a Time Vortex which spews out clouds of Time gas, whatever it's called. What say we do?"
"Contact the Nexus Force, maybe. Get some help." Intrepid suggested. "Anyone got a long-range communicator?"
"Yes," Blade answered. "Just it's been sort of, er, cannibalized for parts, for my, uh, other stuff."
"We could repair it," Sergeant said. "Anyone got any spare parts?"
"Well, I could cannibalize my other stuff," Blade offered. "And that includes this." He pulled out his Power Jouster, which had some extra stuff added to its exterior, but Intrepid assumed there was more stuff on the inside.
"I wouldn't want to part with my valiant," Blade said quietly, "but if it'll get us off this rock, I'll do it."
Rover comfortingly patted his teammate on the back. "Let's do it." he muttered.
"All done," Blade announced, sliding his welding mask up and wiping his grimy welding gloves against each other. He pulled them off, and discarded them on the ground. "Long range communicator complete."
"YES!" Sergeant yelled jubilantly, punching at the air.
"Now let's contact the Nexus Force," Kate said.
Blade flipped the power switch, and set the frequency to that of the Nexus Force priority 1 channel, AKA very important. After a few seconds of nothing but static, his mouth turned into a thin line. Blade readjusted the different knobs and switches on the long range communication device, but all he got was static.
After several more seconds of static, Intrepid stammered, "Uh, is something wrong?"
Blade glared at him, frustrated. "Why yes, Intrepid Fusion Equinox. The Nexus Force channels are down."
"It's 'Eclipse', not 'Equinox'." Intrepid muttered quietly.
"Just think, taking apart my Power Jouster, for NOTHING!" Blade shouted.
"Why would the Nexus Force channels be down?" Cyclone asked.
Rover bit his lip, and answered, "They shouldn't be, unless...."
"Unless what?" Cyclone persisted.
"No...." the Buccaneer mumbled. "It can't, Vanda said it wasn't...."
"WHAT??" Cyclone screamed.
"Unless the Time Vortex brought us to a different time," Rover finished, turning to face Cyclone. "We could be in the future, where the Nexus Force doesn't exist anymore, or where they changed the frequencies."
"Nope," Blade announced. "The frequencies didn't change. I've tested that. The Nexus Force doesn't exist anymore. Probably beat by the Maelstrom."
"Or we could be in the past," Rover continued, "before the Nexus Force existed."
"Well," Cyclone stated, "this has to be after Crux exploded, or this planet chunk wouldn't exist right now."
"Maybe its in the time-period between Crux's explosion and the Nexus Force's being officially created. Like around the time of the Battle of Nimbus Station," Kate suggested.
"Vanda said the Battle of Nimbus Station was fake," Rover snapped.
"No," Kate corrected him. "She said the thing where a team of at most four goes back and time and takes part in the battle was fake, but the actual event was real. The thing about travelling back in time was fake, and the team's participating in the battle is really a simulation, like Avant Gardens Survival. But Backwards Time Travel itself is possible."
"Okay, now I'm really confused." Rover confessed.
"So we are either in the future, or the past." Intrepid stated, tapping his finger against his chin. "Either way, we're stranded here. And there's no way off."
"Actually, there is a way." Rover announced. He donned some gloves, and stepped over to the Thyme field. "If we can process this stuff, we could create a space and time disturbance, that could take us to another place and time in the Nimbus System, or beyond. If we're lucky, we'll end up in Nimbus Station in the present."
"'If we're lucky', Sergeant quoted. "What are the odds that we'll get there?"
"I'd say there's a seven hundred thousand million trillions chance," Rover calculated, "to one, that we'd get to Nimbus Station in the correct time."
"And what chance that we'd get to any place in the Nimbus System at that time?" Sergeant asked.
"Way less," Rover told him. "Only about a few hundred million to one chance."
"And any place, any time, in the Nimbus System?" Sergeant persisted.
Rover stared at him. "VERY big chance. Though we could end up elsewhere too....."
"'Elsewhere'?" Intrepid said, raising his eyebrows.
"Outside the Nimbus System...." Rover explained. "Outside this galaxy.... Outside this universe...."
"What?" Cyclone asked bewildered. "How does THAT work?"
"Just think of a bunch of bubbles in a pond," Rover told him. "Those bubbles are universes, and the pond is a place called the multiverse in which the universes are situated in. Some universes are near exact copies of the others, others are the same world but with different events.... others are completely different."
"Wow, how'd you learn all this?" Cyclone questioned.
"School." Rover put it simply. He used his Broadsider to slice a bunch of Thyme stalks into smaller parts, and placed those on a flat stone. "Anyways, who's ready to take the chances and get the brick outta here?"
Cyclone, and the others seated next to him, watched as Rover tossed the ground up pieces of Thyme into the fire. The Thyme crackled and popped, and the more Rover tossed in, the more intense the crackling got.
"This SHOULD cause a disturbance in space and time sooner or later," Rover announced.
"And what does this disturbance look like?" Sergeant asked.
Rover shrugged. "I dunno, a portal, about the average height of an adult and four feet wide."
Sergeant nodded, and slipped his fingernails into his mouth, causing a different popping sound.
Watching intently, Cyclone noticed the color of the fire changing, from orange to blue, then light blue, and then white. As the seconds passed, the brightness increased, and continued to increase, until Cyclone had to shield his eyes from it.
The crackling suddenly stopped, and the fire dissipated. Cyclone blinked. Then a purplish portal appeared and rapidly expanding in its place until it was about the size as Rover had stated, about six feet tall and three and a half feet wide.
"Whoa," Intrepid muttered, standing up.
Cyclone, Kate, Blade, and Sergeant stood up too. Almost like in a trance, they and Intrepid approached the flat glowing portal placed above where the fire had burned.
"Stop," Rover held out his hand, and they came to a halt. "One of us should go through first, to make sure."
"Yeah, but how will you tell us?" Blade asked.
"I'll stick my hand through," Rover told them, "like this." He stuck his hand through the portal, then took it out. "See you on the other side."
Rover gulped, and took a deep breath. Then he placed one foot into the portal, and then another, until he was completely through.
Nothing happened in the next few seconds. Cyclone waited tensely as the seconds ticked by. 10 seconds. 30 seconds. A minute. No Rover.
Then Rover's gloved hand stuck through, and waved at them.
"Let's go," Cyclone muttered, and with Blade, Kate, Intrepid, and Sergeant following, stepped into the portal.
The other side was immensely bright, with long blades of grass taller than even two Rover's standing on top of each other. Towering above them was a massive tree, at least the length of a basketball court and hundreds of stories high. Its branches spread out for what seemed like an eternity, but did little to stop the sunlight that beat down on the six minifigures.
As soon as Sergeant stepped out of the portal, it collapsed and disappeared.
"ROVER YOU SAID YOU'D MAKE SURE THIS WAS THE RIGHT PLACE!!!!!" Intrepid screamed at him.
"Well, the portal was destabilizing, and it's better to go off and explore than be stuck at some boring rock." Rover defended himself.
Intrepid seethed, and looked around wildly. Everything was similar, but on a way oversized scale. An oversized ant walked by, not caring less about six minifigures standing near it, and the ground shook when a massive toad larger than Intrepid hopped by.
"Did the portal shrink us??" Cyclone asked, horrified, at the oversized-ness of their surroundings.
"No," Blade said, his face grim.
The ground started shaking again, but this time, instead of a frog appearing when they reached a certain level of intensity, the shaking got more intense, and louder.
Cyclone stretched out his hands to steady himself, and noticed Kate to his left losing balance. He reached out and grasped her forearm to keep her from falling, when a shadow descended over the group.
Cyclone looked up, and paled. A massive figure, at least as tall as two of the Nimbus Plaza Apartment Buildings stacked on top of each other, stood over them. The figure's bipedal stance, and humanoid shape made it quite obvious where Cyclone, Kate, Rover, Blade, Sergeant, and Intrepid were.
"Humans," Rover croaked. "We're in the world of humans."
Cyclone froze. Not from fear, if he had the choice, he would have run. But he couldn't move. He was stuck. Paralyzed. All he could move were his eyes, and he glanced around panicky, watching as his friends were caught helplessly in the same trap as him. Why couldn't he move?
"Cool, LEGOs." he heard the 'human' say, before something hot and grimy closed around him. He tried to scream, but felt himself being lifted off the ground.
Immense pressure and heat was subjected to him, but Cyclone couldn't move. He realized that he was sandwiched in between Kate on the left, and Blade on the right.
Kate's eyes shot wildly from one side to the other, as scared as he was. Cyclone wanted to comfort her, but all he could do was move his eyes too, while they were squished together in this torturous ride.
After what seemed like an eternity, the pressure suddenly vanished, and Cyclone found himself lying on a bumpy ground, face up, and staring at a blurry whiteness some several hundred feet above.
He could hear the human breathing loudly behind him, but couldn't rotate his head to turn around. Not that he would have wanted too.
A couple of seconds later, he heard footsteps and saw out of the corner of his eye the human leaving the area through a massive doorway. Then he realized he was in a gigantic room, and the blurry white was the ceiling.
The numbness that had covered his entire body before was slowly coming off, leaving him feeling all tingly. Cyclone tried to wiggle his fingers, but didn't feel them. He tried to sit up, but realized he was stuck to the ground by little round studs which stuck into his legs.
After some couple of seconds of failing epicly at getting into a sitting position, Cyclone succeeded. He gasped as he stared at his hands. His fingers were joined together in a C shape, and his thumb had extended to complete the shape. His wrists could only rotate in circles, and his arms had locked together at the elbows. And he could online rotate them up and down. Cyclone grunted in the effort as he tried to move them side-to-side, but couldn't do it.
He had been transformed.
Suddenly a wave of pins and needles swept over him. A sickening feeling went through his stomach as Cyclone watched his fingers reappear, and his elbows unlocked. His arms and wrists got their mobility back, and the studs let go of his legs as they went back to normal.
"Now what in the nexus was that," Cyclone swore under his breath as he waved his hands around, making sure they were back to normal. Then he remembered. He spun around, and found his friends groaning as they readjusted to the same double transformations that Cyclone had gone through.
"What... happened..." Kate mumbled as she leaned over and threw up into a plastic garbage bin.
"Eww," Cyclone grimaced, and turned around.
Then he heard a faint sound coming from around a nearby house. It was colorful, and made of lots of colorful blocky blocks. It had no roof, but Cyclone didn't care as he walked cautiously around the building.
Lying there was a figure his size, of appearance to the way Cyclone had been before he transformed back to normal. The person was bald, with a plain white shirt and green pants. Cyclone looked closer, and realized it wasn't a shirt, but just a piece of white plastic which was connected to the person's head and hands. He almost threw up himself.
"Help," the figure said, and slowly rotated its smiling head to face Cyclone. But from the way its voice was, Cyclone could tell its smile was a lie, and that the figure was NOT happy.
"Help," it repeated, this time a little more urgently.
Cyclone stepped over, and grimaced when he realized the figure's left plastic hand was chipped. "What is it?" Cyclone asked.
"Is... the hooman gone?" the figure asked, its blank eyes rotating eerily around on its plastic yellow face.
"'Hooman'?" Cyclone questioned, raising an eyebrow. "You mean that giant thing?"
"Yes, hooman." the figure confirmed. "Is it gone?"
"I guess so." Cyclone told him.
The figure jumped up suddenly with a force Cyclone hadn't realized it had. Its arm swiveled upwards, and the figure called out loudly, "THE HOOMAN'S GONE!!!!"
Suddenly all sorts of figures with assorted shirts, legs, heads, and head pieces were swarming around Cyclone and the bald guy. They were talking loudly in all sorts of weird voices that made Cyclone's head spin, and the eery way their normally lifeless plastic body parts moved made his stomach do a double-flip.
It was like something from a nightmare.
Amidst the babble of conversation, a lone voice stood out. Probably because it was screaming. "LET ME GET THE NEXUS OUTTA HERE!!!" Cyclone yelled, and pushed his way out of the crowd of smiling plastic people. He ran into an alley, but found it was a dead end, with a wall towering up above him.
Cyclone swung his Wormholer, which had reappeared on his back, over his shoulder and jabbed the chainsaw into the wall. It stuck fast in the plastic, and Cyclone jumped on top of it. His hands gripped the top of the wall, and balancing, he plucked his Wormholer back out. Then he looked down over the other side.
A wave of nausea passed over him as he stared down a several hundred feet drop to a hard, cold, tile floor below.
Cyclone teetered on the ledge, and felt his balance vanish. His hands flailed about as he tried to regain it, but it was too late. Screaming, he fell off the wall and watched in terror as the floor neared at a rapid pace.
He smashed on impact, and rebuilt back up in the city, next to his friends. Of course, he thought as he steadied himself, since his friends were a major source of imagination here.
"Cyclone?" Intrepid asked, as he walked over to him unsteadily on the bumpy ground. "Where did you go, and come from?"
"I fell off this.... whatever it is," Cyclone told him, pointing to one side of the wall which surrounded the city. "It's a three hundred feet drop to hard tile, meaning permanent smash if there's no sources of imagination nearby. You saved me."
Kate wobbled around on the studs. "What is this place?" she whispered. "I'm scared, Cyclone."
Cyclone wrapped his arms around her shoulders, and felt her shaking against him. "It'll be okay, Kate." he told her fiercely. "I promise."
"Oooh, smoochy." Blade mimicked, doing a fake kiss sound in the air. Cyclone glared at him.
"We need answers," Sergeant said so seriously, Rover laughed quietly. "Are we the only people here?"
"No," another voice said, and bald guy stepped over from the behind the house. "I'm amazed at how you survived hitting the floor," he told Cyclone. "And how you got back up." To the rest of them, he said, "My name is Frank, or at least that's what the hooman gave me. You're on Earth, a planet inhabited by hoomans, and I'm a LEGO Minifigure. From what it appears, so are you. But you're different." Frank stared at them quizzically. "You'd better not be Megablok, or you'll end up like them."
Frank rotated on his foot, and raised his arm to point at a pile of disembodied parts. Unlike Frank and the other LEGO Minifigures, these pieces looked chintzier, like they would break easier. And broken they were. A mustachioed head was missing a corner, and one eye was wiped clean off the face. A leg was broken in two, each half hanging precariously from a threat of cheap plastic. A blue cap was all scratched up.
"What's a hooman?" Sergeant asked.
"Hoomans are bipedal mammals with high intelligence, society, and linguistics abilities." Frank explained. "Adults are at an average height of 5 foot 7, with kids ranging from-"
"Wait, 5 FOOT 7???" Intrepid asked bug-eyed. "I'M JUST A LITTLE SHORTER THAN THAT!!!"
Frank glanced at the Bat Lord. "I'd say you're a little taller than two inches."
"Well, you're obviously not LEGO Minifigures like us." Frank told them. He reached forward towards Kate, and doing a move that Cyclone had thought impossible with hands like that, pinched her arm.
Kate gave a small shriek, and Frank pulled back. His painted eyebrows appeared to furrow together in thought, and he said, "You're not plastic like us. You're more like the hoomans, you're fleshy, you have skin. You wear clothes that aren't painted or molded."
"Uhh, what does that all mean?" Blade said, confused.
Frank eyebrows appeared to tilt in the direction of where his nose should be, and his mouth formed a frown. "You're not like us. You're like the Hoomans, our enemies. You don't belong here." he announced.
"Wait- enemies?" Sergeant questioned.
"Didn't you realize what they did with you?" Frank said angrily. "They have no respect for 'inferior' life forms, like me and my kind. They torture us with disconnecting our limbs and replacing them with others. It hurts, and takes hours to readjust. Then they do it again. And again. And they'll do it with you. Just you won't survive."
"Wait, when the Hooman was here, I was like you." Cyclone told him. "I was.... plastic, and I could only move like you. I was stuck to the ground since there were holes in the backs of my legs. My hands were like the letter C, and my elbows were locked. My arms could only move up and down, my head left and right, my wrists around in a circle. I could probably be taken apart just like you."
"Until the hooman left," Frank snapped. "Then you'd go back to 'normal', just you wouldn't be together. You would die. You're not like us. You don't belong here, any of you."
Before Cyclone could protest, Frank shot forwards towards them at faster than Cyclone had thought he could do, and realized he was severely underestimating Frank.
Cyclone felt Kate being wrenched from his grasp, and saw Frank lifting her screaming over his head. He prepared to throw her over the wall, and Cyclone knew he would do it with the rest of them.
"EAT THIS!!!" Cyclone screamed, and swung his Wormholer into position. It chugged out a stream of rapid-moving laser bursts which burnt right through Frank's plastic body and leaving black marks in the buildings behind him.
He didn't stop firing until Rover clamped his hand down on him. The Worhmoler revved, and the chainsaw stopped moving.
Burnt, and with a horrendous look of terror on his lifeless face, Frank tipped forward and landed face-first, dead, on the ground. Kate slipped out of his grasp and ran over to Rover, hugging him tight.
"We've gotta get out of here," Intrepid said, standing up from his fainting position. "Before-"
A crowd of LEGO Minifigures like Frank spilled into the plaza, angry looks on their faces. They held plastic weapons, mostly Star Wars-style blaster pistols and swords which had their ends sharpened to form pointy points, which could easily stab through anything but Blade's Knight armor, but would easily go right through Sergeant's Shirt of Protection and out his back, which was first to Intrepid's Bat Lord shirt in weakest protection. This time, Cyclone didn't doubt the guns' realness. If these minifigures had any imagination, they could easily make them work.
Blade reached into his backpack and pulled out his Power Jouster. Or what was left of it. "Grrr," he growled, and fished around for another sword.
Rover handed his Broadsider to Blade, and unsheathed Hesevalints. Meanwhile, Intrepid steadied his Bat Lord staff, while Sergeant prepared to summon lightning with his Elite Force Blade of the aforementioned element, as Kate gripped her Samuraizer.
The battle began.
The burst of lasers that streaked from the Star Wars blasters caught Cyclone off guard, and roasted Cyclone's Wormholer.
"Darn," he mumbled, and un-holstered his rocket launcher. He fired two Paradox Rockets at the Minifigures, wiping several of the little plastic monsters out and melting several others into pools of hot plastic.
Most of the remaining sword-bearing figures charged, and engaged Blade, Rover, Kate, and Sergeant in a vicious sword fight. Intrepid backflipped and grabbed onto a lamppost, climbing up it and blasting any evil minifigure that came near with a Sushi Delivery Thing that Blade had tossed to him. The guided fish splattered on the figures, but unlike Maelstrom or Skeletons which would have smashed in no time under the bombardment, these Minifigures were made of ABS plastic, and could last longer under certain weapons fire.
"Time to call in the BIG guns!" Intrepid shouted, and grabbed an Uber Hammer from his backpack. "PREPARE TO DIE!!!"
The faster-than-light-moving Uber Hammer didn't have any effect on the minifigures.
"Gah, unpredictable Mythran stuff," he grumbled as he just tried bonking the minifigures that were climbing up on their heads. It didn't do anything, other than make the angry little monsters angrier.
"Take THIS!" Rover yelled, and in a flying kick knocked all the minifigures off the lamppost.
While the Buccaneer struggled with the minifigs attacking Intrepid, a Darth Vader carrying a sharpened pink wand crept up behind Rover and slashed at his back.
Sensing movement, Rover quickly ducked, and the pink wand of doom embedded itself in Emma the LEGO Friend. Rover quickly whacked Darth Vader and sliced cleanly through his torso piece, before finishing off two Blaster Wielding Clone Troopers.
A shot fired, and a bullet tore into Rover's backpack, knocking it off and spilling out its contents, including the reeds of Thyme.
"Uh oh," Rover stuttered, and ran to retrieve it, but another bullet shot into his leg. Rover fell, and then a bazooka wielding Indiana Jones destroyed the backpack, and all the Thyme with it, in a loud, colorful explosion.
"What's all this noise?" a voice called, and Cyclone looked up dreadfully. A human was entering the room.
"Quick!" Cyclone called, and grabbed Kate's and Sergeant's hands, who held onto the others. He kicked repeatedly at the wall, and a couple of loosely placed bricks fell away.
Then Cyclone, Kate, Rover, Blade, Sergeant, and Intrepid jumped. And smashed.
They rebuilt on the ground, and Cyclone looked up, realizing that the 'city' was really just a bunch of buildings built out of 'LEGO' bricks and blocks, and then placed on 'baseplates' which were in turn placed on a table. The wall was just built around to keep spare pieces from falling off.
"Come on," Kate urged, and grabbed Cyclone's arm. They, Rover, Blade, Sergeant, and Intrepid ran underneath a massive bed, the only hiding spot they could think of.
Cyclone glanced around, and met Kate's worried gaze. It was dusty, with fuzz balls everywhere. He could tell that Kate was having trouble adjusting to their tiny (compared to everything else) size. He was having trouble too, but was working on getting over it until they could escape with Rover's Thyme.
And speaking of Rover.... Cyclone turned, and saw Blade and Intrepid helping Rover into a sitting position. It was then that he noticed Rover's bloody ankle. He felt remorse for his friend, but he had some questions, which he addressed in a low conversation.
"Rover," Cyclone said quietly to the Buccaneer. "How did YOU know about humans?"
"What?" Rover asked.
"You mentioned them, just before we were brought here." Cyclone reminded him.
"Oh," Rover mumbled, remembering. "Oh. That. Well, it turns out that humans have been sighted IN OUR universe before."
"How?" Intrepid asked, nearly letting go of Rover's arm.
"Well, in a lab where some scientist peeps were conducting experiments with Thyme, they accidentally opened up a portal and got a glimpse of this universe, along with humans." Rover explained as Blade and Intrepid eased him to the ground.
"Where'd you hear it from?" Intrepid pressed.
"I've got contacts in the high up ranks of the Nexus Force." Rover told him.
"You mean Lord Brocktree?" Intrepid questioned some more.
Lord Brocktree was a VERY high up person in the ranks of the Nexus Force. He was like a second to only the faction leaders, and he was a great leader, as he and his assistant and friend Suave Able Cat proved during the battle that nearly determined the fate of Imagination in the Darkitect's Lair itself.
"Yes," Rover sighed. "My contact is Lord Brocktree. Thought most of the time I just get Suave. Brock's pretty busy these days."
"As far as you know," Sergeant quipped.
"How long do we have to wait here?" Kate asked suddenly, fidgeting nervously.
Cyclone glanced at the others, and peeked out from under the bed. There were no humans in sight, and all was quiet from the 'city'. "Seems like a good time to burn some of that Thyme, Rover." Cyclone said.
Rover's cheeks reddened. "Um, I'm sorry all of you, but, um, Indiana Jones has ruined all hopes of that."
Cyclone's heart pace quickened, and he saw Kate start squirming. "How so?" he stammered.
Rover buried his face in his hands. "My backpack is destroyed, and all our Thyme with it."
Cyclone screamed. "ROVER WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!?!?!??!???!?!"
It took a while for Cyclone to get over the fact that they were most likely trapped in this oversized universe forever, but he did eventually.
"We're not going to last long if we try and escape now," Cyclone was saying to the others as they planned their escape from the hoomans. "As soon as they see us, we'll freeze up and transform into figures like.... Frank." He shivered at the thought of the LEGO minifigure who had turned himself, and the rest of the LEGO minifigures, against them. "How does that happen anyway?"
Rover shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe it's so that the humans don't get suspicious, or maybe all LEGO minifigures start out like us, but then after being transformed some numerous times, they become complete plastic people."
"Research time!" Sergeant sang, and fished an I-Brick from his backpack. "Version six, completely up to date with all apps and upgrades." he bragged as he flipped open the lid. "I'm gonna try and connect to the local internet connection here, if there is any. Then I can do research."
Blade rolled his eyes, and turned to Cyclone. "Anything's possible, since there is obviously a lot of Imagination in this universe too. With Imagination, anything is possible."
"Yep," Sergeant quipped as his thumbs poked at his I-Brick's touch screen while he worked. "Right Intrepid?"
Everyone turned, and saw that the Bat Lord was nowhere to be seen.
"Intrepid?" Sergeant repeated, looking up from his electronic device. Then he paled. "Maybe the hooman got him." he said panicky.
"Human," Rover corrected. "And no, or we would all be looking like this." He grabbed Sergeant's I-Brick and maximized a picture of a random LEGO Minifigure which looked like Frank, just with a Red Shirt and Blue Pants.
Cyclone's eyes bugged out. "That's Bob!" he yelled.
"Hey, you're right," Rover said, looking at the picture he held up.
"Give that back," Sergeant protested, and made a grab for it. Rover held it back, and Sergeant lunged into him. The two fell over, and the I-Brick fell out of Rover's hands, falling to the tile floor, and breaking into a million pieces.
"Noooooooooo!" Sergeant wailed as he scurried around trying to salvage the pieces.
Rover rolled his eyes. "That's what happens when I-Bricks are made of the chintziest material ever." he muttered.
Blade shook his head. "But what's Bob doing here? Did he ever come to this universe?" he asked.
"No," another voice said, and Intrepid stepped into the light. Behind him, he lugged a large plastic box.
"What's that Intrepid?" Sergeant said, looking up from his broken I-Brick.
In the limited space between the bottom of the bed and the tile floor, Intrepid couldn't prop the box up on its edge. So he just said, "Take a look."
Cyclone, Rover, and Blade stood up and stepped towards Intrepid, with Kate trailing slowly behind while Sergeant picked up the last pieces of his I-Brick.
A lump appeared in Cyclone's throat when he took notice of the box's front cover. On it was a picture of four minifigures. One had blonde hair, a brave expression on his face, and a long triangular shaped sword and a large shield in his hands. The next one wore goggles and a helmet which covered the sides and back of his head, while two robotic arms extended from a special backpack he wore. The third had longer hair, with an unshaved face, a parrot on his arm, and a cutlass with a jewel on the hilt resting on his shoulder. The last wore a red ninja outfit and hood, the painted on decals certifying her feminine gender.
An eery recognition swept into his mind, a recognition which Cyclone had no way of understanding. The identity of the four minifigures he now knew.
The four minifigures were Duke Exeter, Dr. Overbuild, Hael Storm, and Vanda Darkflame. The four faction leaders.
Waiting had to be one of the most boring things in his life, Cyclone decided, as he sat, leaning against the box, identified as a box for a game called LEGO Universe, with his friends.
The discovery of the humans' knowledge of the faction leaders, Bob, and thus their own universe made Cyclone's stomach tie itself up in a triple knot. Or at least it seemed that way. He felt queasy all the same, and his head throbbed. Cyclone could tell Kate was taking this far worse than he was, by the way cold beads of sweat traced wet lines around her face, and the way she just stared straight ahead, not looking at anything.
What they were waiting for was for nightfall, and then nighttime, and then when all the humans would turn in for the night, giving freedom for Cyclone and the others to roam around in the cover of darkness, and find a better shelter than the Wolves' Den.
Finally the room went completely dark, with the only light coming from the moon as it shone its rays of reflected light in through the window. After another hour, a bright artificial light clicked on, and a pair of bare feet entered the room. The human shuffled around a bit, before the light went back off and the bed above them creaked, announcing bedtime.
As planned, the group would wait a few more hours, to make sure that by the time they left, the humans would be sleeping deeply.
Hours of silence passed, with the only noise being the very quiet coughing and sneezing of Intrepid at the effects of being surrounded by large dust balls.
Even though it was low, it was also annoying. And frustrating.
"Can you just stop that??" Rover snapped, after an hour of dealing with Intrepid's wheezing.
Everyone turned to stare at the Buccaneer, who clamped a hand over his mouth at his mistake.
"Rover, what have you done." Cyclone whispered fiercely into his ear. "Again."
Rover's eyes glared at him, and Cyclone folded his arms as the bed above them started creaking again.
It only lasted a few seconds, meaning the human above had most likely not been awakened by Rover's outburst.
"We're not gonna wait any longer, Rover." Blade said quietly. He stood up, and the others, excluding Rover, stood up, Kate a little shakily, and Intrepid with his fingers pinching his nose.
Rover sighed, and stood up as well.
Blade lead the way as the group crept out from under the bed. Cyclone walked quietly, but fast, as he followed his friends across the long expanse of the floor, and towards the closed door. There was a small, a little less than a foot high, (for them) gap between the door and the floor.
Blade knelt down, and slipped under the door, sliding his way out to the other side. The rest followed suit, except for Cyclone, who before leaving, turned his head back to get a look at who they had just escaped from.
The human was a kid, a girl with long wavy blonde hair, dimly illuminated in the glow of a night light. Hers eyes appeared to be half-opened, but Cyclone assured himself that it was probably just a trick of the light, or he was seeing things. He rubbed his tired eyes, and turning back to the door, slid under to the other side to meet with his friends.
"Let's go," Sergeant said quietly, standing over Cyclone as he stood up. He helped Cyclone to his feet, and they walked silently into the long hallway, in the direction of where Blade thought would be to the stairs to the downstairs floor.
Just before they lost sight of the door, Cyclone looked back, and noticed two signs pasted on it.
The first one read plainly, "Alyssa's room."
The second one read, "Warning, light sleeper. Shut up."
"Uh oh," Cyclone said in alarm, a second before the door swung open.
Cyclone, Rover, and Sergeant dove to the left side of the hallway, flattening themselves against the baseboard of the wall, while Blade and Intrepid did the same thing, just on the opposite side.
The only person who hadn't moved was Kate. She stood frozen in fear in the center of the hallway as Alyssa the light-sleeping human stepped out of her room and into the hallway.
"Kate!" Cyclone whispered fiercely, beckoning at her. "What are you doing?! Get over here!"
Kate was still rooted to the ground, and Cyclone prepared to jump over and grab her, but then Alyssa just walked by, over Kate, and into a different room, having not noticed Kate standing in the middle of the floor, or Cyclone and the others at the walls for that matter. A white light clicked on in it, before that door closed, plunging the hall into darkness.
"You're kidding me," Cyclone muttered as he lunged forward and grabbed Kate's arm. "What are you thinking?" he hissed, shaking Kate roughly.
Kate's arms flopped around, and she slowly turned her head to face him. She whimpered, and leaning forwards, buried her face in his arms.
Kate's move caught Cyclone off-guard, but he steadied himself. "I'm scared, Cyclone," she mumbled.
Cyclone stood there, unsure of what to say that would be comforting to his friend, when Blade stepped over and pried Kate off him. "Come on," the Knight said softly, and strode down the hallway, with Rover, Intrepid, and Sergeant following.
"Let's go," Cyclone whispered, and he and Kate followed the others towards the stairs.
Blade eyed the steps down in concentration. "Now how are we supposed to get down there?" he thought aloud.
"It beats the bananas out of me," Rover said with a shrug.
"Easy," Sergeant stated, turning around and gripping the edge of the top step. He swung down, and let his feet dangle a second before letting go and landing on the second step. "Unless you want to stay up there, just come down this way."
"Sounds good enough to me," Intrepid commented, but instead of swinging down like Sergeant, he double jumped onto the second step.
Rover and Blade followed, leaving just Cyclone and Kate at the top. Cyclone reached into his backpack and pulled out a climbing wire. He found the end of it, which had a grappling hook, and using his the chainsaw part of his busted Wormholer, cut a small hole in the floor.
While Kate watched, Cyclone wedged the grappling hook in the hole, then after pulling on the wire at different strengths to test it, he handed it to Kate. "I think you'll want this," he told her, before climbing down Sergeant-fashion.
The wire was long enough to reach all the way to the ground floor, and Cyclone pressed a button to release the hook. After retrieving the full wire, he and Kate headed off to follow the rest of the group, who were standing in front of a large wooden door. To both sides of it were two tall vertical windows, through which he could see the early dawn sky.
"I don't think we'll be getting out through here," Sergeant said thoughtfully.
"Any other ideas, Blade?" Rover asked.
A slight breeze brushed against Cyclone's side, chilling him. The Space Marauder turned, and noticed in the next room, a window. It was mostly closed, but a small gap was at the bottom. Apparently whoever had closed it hadn't done it completely.
"Hey, guys?" Cyclone called, pointing his chin in the direction of the open window. "I think that's our way out."
What Cyclone landed in, he wasn't expecting. It was sticky, and long white threads stuck to him as he thrashed around, trying to get free. But then he realized what he was in, and stopped.
He and his friends was trapped in a spider web. A fresh one. Which meant there was a spider too.
And if Cyclone had any doubt about whether there really was a spider there, his doubts went away as soon as Intrepid screamed, the loudest, most high pitched, and most chilling scream Cyclone had ever heard in his life. A scream of pure fear, horror, and terror.
"SPIDER SPIDER AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Intrepid yelled, moving around in a futile attempt to escape, and inadvertently wrapping the sticky strings that made of the web more around him.
"Where?!" Blade shouted, his voice muffled since he had landed face-down on the web. "I can't see anything!"
Rover pointed to the left, and everyone (except for Blade, since he was facing down, and Intrepid and Rover, who were already looking) turned.
Fear washed over Cyclone's body as he watched the largest, most hairy, and most grotesque spider he had ever seen. It was black, with long groping legs, and sharp fangs which clicked together as it neared the person who was closest to its hiding spot: Sergeant.
"Don't even think about it!" Sergeant yelled, and managed to grab hold of his Force Blade of Lightning. He thrust it towards the spider, but the arachnid just leaned forwards and grabbed it between its fangs, before snapping the sword in half.
"AHHH KILL IT KILL IT!!!" Intrepid screamed, wrapping himself in the web even more.
Rover fumbled for his holstered pistol, and managed to pull it out. But before he could fire it, Intrepid jerked around, shaking the web, and causing the pistol to fly from Rover's hand and fall to the ground far below. "Crux," he swore, as he held up Hesevalints to try and do a sloppy throw.
Suddenly a bright blue ball swirling with electricity slammed into the web. A wave of imagination exploded from where it collided, evaporating the web and anything that lacked Imagination, including the spider.
Suddenly with nothing holding them up, Cyclone and his friends fell to the ground into a pile of leaves. Groggily, Cyclone lifted his head up and looked around at his friends. They all appeared to be okay, and Intrepid's pale face was regaining color.
Panting, Cyclone stood up, inadvertently pulling Kate up with him since she was gripping his hand.
Blade un-faceplanted himself, while Rover felt around for his pistol. Then Sergeant gasped. "Look," he whispered.
Cyclone turned, and standing in front of them was a helmeted person their size. Their savior.
The figure wore dual colored gold and black armor. The helmet had similar colors, just with navy blue streaks which glowed eerily and emanated imagination mist. In the person's hands were two large yellow and black guns, with glowing blue spikes sticking out of the back, meaning they could be used as both ranged and melee weapons. On the figure's legs were black armored pads, with silver and gold streaks. Holsters were on both sides for the guns, and strapped to the figure's back was a suped up Wormholer in Assembly colors, just like the rest of the gear.
Cyclone's eyes bugged out when he realized where the figure was from. It was obviously a member of the Assembly faction, and the gear was vaguely similar to the Inventor Gear, just with a futuristic style.
His mind boggled even more when the person pulled off its helmet, revealing the face of a blue-haired girl. Freckles lined nose, with a few small groups of them on her cheeks. Her smile was warm, but her eyes frowned. Then she introduced herself.
"My name is Dica, I'm a member of the Assembly Faction, a Rank 8 Inventor, Time Twister sub-kit, and I've come to get you outta here."
Cyclone's jaw dropped, as well as everyone elses'. "Rank.... 8?" he repeated in disbelief.
"Yes," Dica replied. She paused for a second, before continuing, "I am from, what you would call, the future."
"The future?" Rover gasped.
Dica tossed her head, letting her blue hair rustle. "Uh huh. Listen, you don't belong in this world, and neither do I, but I'm here to bring you back. To our universe."
"But in what time?" Blade questioned. "Our present time, or.... your future?"
Dica shrugged. "Future first, most likely. Present after." she explained. "The faction leaders have some briefing they want to give to you."
Blade looked confused, so Dica ended the subject. "I'm ready to leave whenever you are, guys." she told them.
Cyclone glanced at Kate, who glanced at Rover, who glanced at Blade, who glanced at Sergeant, who glanced at Intrepid. It seemed too good to be true, but it was too confusing. "Can you give us a summary of what the faction leaders want to brief us with?" Cyclone asked. "Do you even know it?"
"Yeah, I do." Dica replied. "So," she explained, "you've seen that this universe has knowledge of ours. The faction leaders have hypothesized that the connection is through another Imagination Nexus in this universe, like the one which was corrupted by the Maelstrom in our universe. The Nexuses sort of stabilize the universes and keep them from collapsing and fading away from the transuniversal realm they exist in. Just there was no Maelstrom in this universe to corrupt this one's Nexus, wherever it is, while in our universe, it was corrupted. So now our universe has a weaker, in comparison to this one's, Imagination Nexus." She paused for breath, and Cyclone wondered how she could have said that much already non-stop. "Our universe has destabilized, and unless all the other Imagination Nexuses in the infinite amount of other universes out here are weakened as well, which would be impossible, or our current Imagination Nexus in Avant Tower is strengthened-"
"Wait wait wait wait wait," Intrepid cut her off. "Did you say Avant Tower?"
Dica blinked. "Oh yeah, I did. So?" Then she facepalmed. "Riiight, there is no Avant Tower in your time." she mumbled. "Anyways, as I was saying, unless our Imagination Nexus which is situated in Avant Tower is strengthened again, our universe will fade away."
"The Imagination Nexus was already weakened a long time ago," Rover surmised. "Does that mean that our universe is fading away already?"
Dica's facial expression was grim. "Yes, in my time we can already see the effects of it fading away. Since the universes are linked through the Imagination Nexuses, our Imagination Nexus is disappearing first. And the effects we can see from the Nexus fading away first is stronger and more numerous Maelstrom. And weaker effects from Imagination." She patted her chestplate armor. "This is more titanium than Imagination, as is the rest of my gear. And these," she waved her blaster/spike things, "are only partially powered by Imagination. Building has become pretty hard too."
"That's pretty terrible," Blade said.
Dica nodded. "Yep," she agreed. "Even worse, the fading is happening at a pretty fast rate. Our universe, it's fading fast. And that's why you've got to come with me. Ready to get outta here?"
Everyone nodded, with Intrepid nodding more earnestly. "YES!!!" he said loudly. "I'd LOVE to get out of this oversized place with giant spiders for ANYTHING more my size, even if it's overrun by Maelstrom."
"What if I told you that all of those Maelstrom were Scorpionlings?" Dica teased.
Intrepid waved his hand at her. "Eh, I'd still come." he assured her. "Anything for this!"
Using her thumbs, Dica pressed two buttons that were on each blaster/spike gun thing she held. Two snap thingies extended from the weapons' undersides, and she clamped them together. She pulled the triggers, and two swirling blue balls of energy shot out. They collided, and then a bright blue vortex opened up out of thin air where they had converged.
"I only had enough Imagination on hand to make one of these," Dica told them. "And it wont last too long. I'll go through first, in case any Grumpy Mechlings are on the other side. They're programmed to home in on Imagination targets, and I saw some in the vicinity before coming here." She unseparated her weapons, and held them in front of her. "Single file, please," were the last words she said, before stepping through the portal.
Cyclone, Kate, Rover, Blade, Sergeant, and Intrepid all shared glances, until Intrepid grabbed Sergeant's shoulders and pushed him towards the vortex. "You first," the Bat Lord stated with a grin.
"If you say so, Intrepid," Sergeant said, stepping through. Intrepid went in next, then Blade.
Rover stepped over to it, and turned his head back to face Cyclone and Kate. "See you on the other side," he said quietly, and stepped through.
Cyclone felt Kate slip her hand into his palm and grip it so tightly he could feel her finger nails digging into his skin. He turned to her, and their eyes locked. "Let's go," he whispered. "Together."
Then it closed.
In Cyclone's mind, the whole scene appeared to replay over and over again in slow motion, a little slower after each one. Rover stepping through and the portal closing. Rover stepping through, and the portal closing. Rover, stepping through, and the, portal closing. Roooveeer, steeeeeppiiiiing, throoooouuugh, aaaand, theeee, poooortaaaal, clooooosiiiiing.
Then the scream came, but instead of from Cyclone, it was from Kate. Then, and only then, did Cyclone realize how much Kate had an still longed to return home.