11Worldracer99https://community.lego.com/t5/Stories-of-LEGO-UNIVERSE/LEGO-Universe-When-Worlds-Collide/m-p/3602176#U3602176This is a sequel to LEGO Universe: The Return
Availability: LEGO Universe: When Worlds Collide can also be found here.
Author's Notes: This is a sequel to LEGO Universe: The Return
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A SYNOPSIS OF THE DISCOVERY OF THE LEGO UNIVERSE AND THE DEFEAT OF THE MAELSTROMEdit
By DynamoMasterlyCobra Information provided by Vanda Darkflame In 1891, a man named Ole Kirk Christiansen was born in Denmark. Most people know him as the creator of LEGO, but there was a side of him that not many people know about: he was one of the first researchers into the theory that there's more than one Universe. He had found another Universe sometime in the 30s. It was too far to reach then, and it's still too far away, even with our advanced technology. There was a way to reach it, but we'll get to that a little later. Anyways, there were strange, vaguely humanoid creatures living in it. There were also many different planets, strange creatures, and amazing countries. This Universe was known by an ancient word from the language of the creatures: "LEGO." The creatures there were known as minifigs, and they each had a tiny bit of a strange element inside them, which, if they died, or "smashed," as they knew it (for it was more like being shattered into pieces than anything), resurrected them. The element inside their Creative Spark (the thing that brought them back) was known as Imagination, because there was no other way to put it. This element gave these minifigs the power to create nearly anything out of the bricks that made up their world. And somewhere out there was an ancient mainspring of Imagination, powerful enough to recreate the Universe. Ole was amazed, and he took notes on everything he found out about. Many of his notes were what inspired the LEGO sets of today. Ole founded a company and named it after the Universe he found, and even after he passed away, the current members of the company are digging up his notes. But Ole died before he could see the most influential piece of history in the Universe: the creation of a new threat to it. In 2008, four explorers set out to find the source of all Imagination: the Nexus. They were Dr. Albert Overbuild, inventor, scientist, and discoverer of the ability to control bricks; Baron Jonathan Typhonus, his best friend, colleague, and descendant of royalty; Duke Ellbrig Exeter, knight and protector of multiple worlds; and Hael Storm, ex-pirate. After a long and grueling hunt, they finally found the planet where it was located: Crux. It had many different countries: ancient valleys, huge forests, sandy beaches, and many others. They discovered Nexus Temple, and finally, their quest had finished. The temple was assembled by the First Builders, creators of the LEGO Universe. The quartet was amazed by what they saw: a huge beacon of Imagination flying into the sky, heralding the beauty of the Universe to all. But that soon changed. A darkness had been festering in Typhonus's mind the entire time. He wanted a Universe with no rules, control over all, and utter chaos. He used the Nexus to create a monstrous spider, a creature of bedlam and destruction. It pulled its creator into the Nexus, corrupting the Imagination and turning it into a hideous vortex known as the Maelstrom. And Typhonus had become its king: the Darkitect. As the Nexus was corrupted, the Temple began to fall apart, and the descendants of the First Builders, the Mythrans, were awakened from their slumber. They were created to become the guardians of the Universe if anything ever happened to the Nexus, and to emerge from their dormancy if something did. But even the most elite of their warriors- Shival, Elementron, Imaginatrix, Keighlian (A/N: Was Keighlian even a Mythran?)- could not defeat the new threat. The Maelstrom destroyed the explorer's ship, the Venture Koi, and to prevent the escape of the Maelstrom, Dr. Overbuild plugged the hole from which it was escaping. Unfortunately, the rising energy blew Crux to pieces, the only things remaining fully intact the explorers, the Maelstrom, the Mythrans and the atmosphere of the planet. The shards of the planet flew throughout the Universe, becoming their own little planets. The Mythrans left, intent on protecting the Universe, and the explorers created a new ship, the Venture Explorer. Fleeing the Maelstrom, the three remaining sojourners left the planet, aiming to start a new way to defeat the Maelstrom. As Duke Exeter, Doctor Overbuild and Hael Storm left the wreckage of Crux, Overbuild found the tiniest fragment of pure Imagination, somehow spared from the creation of the Maelstrom. He kept it with him, and they sent out a call to the other minifigs of the Universe. The shards of Crux became hubs for battling the Maelstrom, and the minifigs there did their duty to protect the Universe. Over the course of the end of 2008 and most of 2009, the explorers formulated a plan to fight back at the dark new menace: they would establish an army known as the Nexus Force, with four divisions- the Factions- and build a tower for their center of operations. Unfortunately, they needed a leader for a fourth Faction. Their recruit was the former apprentice of Baron Typhonus, Vanda Darkflame. Hael wasn't exactly too keen on this idea, because she was a ninja (Hael didn't trust ninjas), she was Typhonus's old apprentice (Hael didn't trust Typhonus), and she was only nine at the time (Hael didn't think anybody above the age of thirteen could be trusted with an important job). The others wanted her as a Faction leader because she was Typhonus's old apprentice and could give them insight to his secrets, she needed somewhere to live, because she was orphaned when the Dark Ronin smashed her parents after the creation of the Maelstrom, and because she was quite mature for her age (Vanda wrote that, not me. And now she looks like she wants to throw me into the Maelstrom). Anyways, eventually she joined the Nexus Force. There were four Factions: the Sentinels, who were the minifigs on the frontlines, taking everything head-on; the Assembly, careful researchers on the Imagination; the Venture League, explorers of the galaxy; and the Paradox, researchers of the Maelstrom and its dark secrets. Together, they built the Nexus Tower, base of operations for their army. But they knew they couldn't fight it on their own. The minifigs had found out about a rift in the time-space continuum. The rift existed in our Universe and theirs, and it was also two-way, effectively working as a doorway between the two Universes. The rift was 50,000 lightyears away from our sun, right on the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. To spread the word about the Maelstrom attacks, the minifigs agreed to send seven brave pilots through the rift, in pod-like spacecraft. Their plan was to send them to Earth and land them in locations where the humans would notice. But these pilots knew the risks: as soon as they passed through the rift, they would be turned into the plastic toys that the LEGO company manufactured, and would not be returned to their original state unless they somehow came back to the LEGO Universe. In October 2009, the pods began their journey to Earth, broadcasting the coordinates of their landing sites to the humans. The transmissions were picked up by a scientific institute called the Bradford Rrant Institute of Cosmic Kinesis, or more commonly known as B.R.I.C.K. It was founded by Bradford Rant, professor of Astrophysics and Physical Cosmology. He also was a friend of Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Ole's son. Kjeld showed Bradford some of Ole's papers on the LEGO Universe, and that may be what inspired Bradford to found B.R.I.C.K. Anyways, over the course of October, the B.R.I.C.K. tried to decipher the coordinates, and on November 7, they finally got the first signal. Professor Gunther Wendt and Dr. Nigel Ponsford-Stand were sent to the coordinates, and discovered that the pod had landed on November 9. B.R.I.C.K. sent the coordinates out, recruiting LEGO fans to find the pods. The last pod was found on January 3, 2010, and that was the day LEGO and B.R.I.C.K. had the perfect idea to send new recruits to the LEGO Universe. They began what was known as The Great Minifig Mission, a series of games on the LEGO website. Most people thought they were simple minigames, but in reality, they were keeping the highly unstable rift open from afar. To get more minifigs into the battle against the Maelstrom, for each minigame completed, TLG was able to send twenty minifigs, made of nothing but pure computerized data to the LEGO Universe. In fact, the minifigs that people played as were made of data. They were controlled by computers around the world, and the people playing on them. But as many people were playing with their friends, battling the Maelstrom, and having a good time in general, the Darkitect was planning his biggest attack yet. The Darkitect was planning to invade our Universe through the rift, creating a new army to destroy the Nexus Force with by infecting the humans. Paradox found out about the plan, and sent a message to The LEGO Group, informing them of the plan. TLG knew that the game they put out was influential, but they hadn't intended it to pose a threat to our Universe. Paradox told them of a plan the Nexus Force had to stop the Darkitect: they would drop Imagination bombs into the rift, sealing it off from our Universe and stopping the Darkitect's plans. The only problem was that the sealing of the rift would delete all the minifigs that were composed of data, and it would also delete the game servers that controlled them. On November 4, 2011, LEGO announced that the game would close on January 31, 2012. Hundreds were devastated by the news, and the Nexus Force flew the bombs into the rift and detonated them on the last day of January, sealing our Universe off from theirs. To this day, people still can't get over the fact that LEGO Universe is gone for good (coughcoughNewDoctorWhocough), and they continue to think that they can pester TLG into reopening LU (Actually, LEGO could do that, kids! At the small price of your friends, family, and various other loved ones becoming mindless slaves of the Darkitect!). But this wasn't the end of the story of the LEGO Universe. As you may recall, I said that only one bit of Pure Imagination was left uncorrupted after the creation of the Maelstrom. That wasn't entirely true. There was a small bit of uncorrupted energy at the center of it, but it wasn't Pure Imagination. The Maelstrom energy around it didn't affect it, but somehow, its structure was altered. It became the Chaotic Imagination, and it exists to this day in the center of Imagination pickups. This bright orange substance was extremely unstable, and in order to support itself, it had to inhabit a minifig, known today as the Chaos Soul, or known to his friends as Ithamar. Anyways, in April 2012, Ithamar hacked the LMBs and sucked all the former LU players into the Universe. Dr. Overbuild sent the minifigs on missions, and life continued as normal for a few months. But eventually, the Darkitect sent out a challenge to the minifigs: find his palace and defeat him. Everyone went to Crux Prime, and a brave group of minifigs, myself and Vanda included, went to find help from the only source they knew could destroy the Maelstrom: Ithamar. They found his castle on the other side of Rivendark Canyon, found him, got a sword full of Chaotic Imagination energy, went to Caldera Mar, found the entrance to the Maelstrom castle, stabbed the sword into the Maelstrom-infected core of the planet, defeated the Darkitect, freed the hundreds of minifigs trapped in the Darkitect's Creative Spark collection (including Vanda's parents, Vincent and Victoria Darkflame), when suddenly, the Chaotic Imagination transported the minifigs into a strange vortex leading to Earth. All the minifigs moved to our planet and began leading normal lives, and the Darkflames moved into a house just down the street from me. Dr. Overbuild also created a way to create a portal to the LEGO Universe from Earth, but minifigs could only remain in the other Universe for two hours before being brought back to Earth (because LU time passed much faster than Earth time, it only seemed like a few seconds on Earth). Anyways, this story begins during late May 2013, when the force of the Chaotic Imagination was made known to Earth... LEGO UNIVERSE: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE...
"I'm going to the library, Mom!" With those words, I stepped out the door to my house. It was a perfect day in late May. It was that period when you know you only have a month and a half of school left, but summer vacation tortures you by hovering just out of reach. Anyways, it was 2013, and I was 14 years old. And I had already had a bigger adventure than most people would have in my life. But you already know about all that, and since I used the history that Vanda and I wrote as the prologue, I'm not going into details about the whole adventure. Anyways, I had gotten to the library by now. I walked by the front desk, dropped off my books, and headed into the fiction section. I pulled a copy of Outcast of Redwall off on of the shelves, when I saw my group of close friends: Vanda, Daniel, Jessie and Matthew. (To see them as minifigs, click here.) I suppose they require some explanation. Matthew and I had first met when we were in preschool, but we fell out of touch for about four years, when we met back up at summer camp. He was a gamer and a LEGO fan like me. Daniel and I first met at a P.E. group we did on Fridays, and we had a lot in common: we both liked LEGO, we both liked the same books, and we were both complete and utter Portal fanboys. While Daniel and Matthew were both more or less around the same age as me, Jessie was a year older than us. Matthew and I had first met her at a New Year's party at our youth group during a round of laser tag. She wasn't that much of a gamer or LEGO fan, but she was nice, and actually an amateur songwriter. And of course you all know Vanda from the last story. After she had moved in down the street, her family got to know mine and my friends' pretty well. Even though we all went to different schools, we were good friends. But none of them other than Vanda and I knew about the adventure in LEGO Universe we had. For that matter, none of them got the chance to play it either. I walked over to the nonfiction section, where they were. Vanda was looking intently at the shelves. "How are you doing?" I asked them "We're good, but Vanda's having trouble with something," Daniel said. "Seriously! How hard can it be to find a book on Kirigakure Saizō?" she said. "Who?" I had never heard the name in my life. "Evidently, he was a super-well known ninja," Matthew said. "Oh. But did you guys hear about the new LEGO The Dark Knight Rises set?" I began. "It's supposed to-" "You play with LEGOs? Dweeb." The irritating voice came from behind us. I turned around, and there stood one of the largest kids I'd ever seen. He was literally bulging with muscles, wearing a white T-shirt and khaki pants, and had a black crew cut. I guessed he was about our age, but who knew? And he seemed to be extremely cranky...
"I thought only kids under the age of ten played with those," the irritating guy said. "Oh, hey Vanda." "Hello, Troy," Vanda growled, her voice dripping with content. "And by the way, I'll have you know that I build LEGOs too." The smug expression disappeared from the jock's face. "Oh...well, er... who are your friends?" He seemed to be eying me with particular disdain. "This is Matthew, Jessie, Daniel, and Dynamo," Vanda muttered. "Dynamo? Pfft... what kind of weird name is that?" "Ugh, would you just get lost, Troy?" Vanda burst out. "Yeesh, fine. See you around." Troy pulled a book about some NFL player from the shelf and walked off. "Who's the Neanderthal?" I asked. "His name's Troy. He's the captain of the football team at school, and... ugh... he seems to think he can get me to like him. Most of the girls at school fell for him at first sight, and since I'm one of the few who didn't, he seemed to focus on me." She shook her head. "I'm not exactly into the jock type." "From what I've seen, I'm not exactly his biggest fan either," I said. "Anyways, on a completely unrelated note, one of the kids at my school is having a beach party tonight. She said we could invite whoever we wanted, so if you guys wanna come, my parents offered to drive us. Since she's... well, one of the wealthier kids at school, they're going to have a DJ, catering, even fireworks... the whole nine yards." "I'll ask my parents," Jessie said, "and then get back to you in an e-mail." "Same here," I said. By this time, we all had our books and were checking out. We all walked out the door and began heading home, expecting everything to be pretty much normal for the party. Oh, how wrong we were...
A few hours after the library, we were all getting out of the Darkflames' minivan. "We'll pick you up at ten," Vanda's mom said. "You're sure you all have everything?" "I'm not sure about you guys, but I have all I need," I said. With that, I took my boogie board out of the trunk. "We're fine, mom," Vanda said. "See you guys soon!"
A few minutes later, we were about to get in the water, when we all saw a familiar face. "Guys, is that..." Daniel strained to look at a pavilion that was set up on the beach. "...DJ?" You might recognize this fellow as DJ Studd. Yes, his first name is actually DJ. Nobody knows what it stands for, though. But anyways, he was the guy who played music at Red Blocks. After coming back Earth, he didn't waste any time building up a reputation as one of the younger artists, only in his mid-twenties. He had become a relatively famous musician, mainly focusing on dubstep/electronica type songs. How famous, you ask? He was on a first-name basis with both members of Daft Punk, had Deadmau5 on speed-dial, and was rumored to have created sound-based technology for the military. We had first met him when we went to one of his concerts, and he recognized Vanda (I think he was Vanda's best friend's cousin). He gave us a behind the scenes tour, and the rest is history.
Anyways, we all walked over to DJ, who wasn't exactly looking too happy. Probably because he was a music aficionado, and he was being forced to play One Direction music for the party. "Hey guys. I didn't know you'd be here," he said. "Ugh, I really hate this music," Vanda said. "Don't we all?" Matthew replied. "Amen to that," DJ said. "I should have taken the gig at the My Little Pony convention. At least I'd have some dubstep on the setlist there." Wow. DJ was willing to stay in the same room as a bunch of bronies? He really was desperate. "Anyways, I just wish I could play something other than that bunch of prettyboys and what they call music," DJ said. "Like Zuse said in Tron: Legacy: 'Change the scheme, alter the mood. Electrify the boys and girls, if you'd be so kind.'" He slumped down in his chair. "What I wouldn't give for someone to say that to me right now." Mentioning Tron: Legacy gave me an idea. "DJ, do you think you could accept song requests?" A grin came over DJ's face. "I suppose I could," he said, realization of my plan dawning over his face. He picked up a microphone. "Hey party people, just letting you know, I am now accepting song requests, so get over here if there's anything special ya wanna hear!" He turned to us. "You guys want first crack at it?" "How about the song that those DJs played in the club when C.L.U.'s soldiers came in?" Daniel said. "You mean Derezzed? One of my favorites, dude," DJ said. He scrolled through his music library on iTunes. "Original, The Glitch Mob remix, or Avicii remix?" "Whichever you want," Daniel said. "Electrify the boys and girls if you'd be so kind," I grinned. With that, the bass of The Glitch Mob remix began pounding out of the speakers. Most of the girls at the party looked up with expressions that could have meant anything from "What lunatic did this song? It doesn't even have lyrics!" to "What happened to One Direction and Justin Bieber?" to "Why does this song sound like a robot passing gas?" We all burst out laughing. "That was awesome," Jessie said. "Probably the best thing that's happened tonight!" DJ said. "So are you guys gonna get in the water or not?" We all thanked him for the change of music, and began walking towards the ocean...
As soon as we reached it, we all plunged into the water. Well, everyone except Vanda plunged. She stopped short and began eying the water warily. "What's wrong?" I asked. "I've never exactly been too keen on swimming. I mean, I know how, but back in LE-" she stopped herself- "You know where, you could hardly dip your toe in a kiddy pool without being mauled by a shark. So that was a complete fail during the summer." "I have honestly never seen a shark out here," I reassured. "Manatees, porpoises, those little fish that nibble at your feet... never a shark, though." Vanda took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and jumped in. She came up smiling. "That was actually not that bad!" she said. The moment she finished that sentence, someone pushed/smacked me in the back while yelling (and this is a technical term) "RAAAAAARRRRGGHH!!!!11!1" OK, the 1's among the exclamation points were a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Anyways, since the mysterious roaring creature slammed me in the back, that combined with me jumping about a foot into the air sent me flying about a yard away. When I came back up, I saw- oh, great. It was Troy. He was laughing like a caffeinated monkey. And (this is what really ticked me off) he was holding the kind of cheap boogie board that you can get at a dollar store. I had seen way too many of them when I was on vacation: They sold for about ten dollars in the tourist shops, were actually made for about a buck each, and people bought them with the mindset that they'd look awesome if their board had a shark, or a dolphin, or some celebrity on it. Anyways, as I swam back over to Troy, Vanda began yelling. "What's your problem, Troy? And why are you even here?" she shouted. "I'm here because it's my cousin's birthday. And I was just having a little fun," he said. He began cracking up again. "And really funny fun, too!" Fifth floor, Redundant Department of Redundancy, I thought to myself. "You know what that board's made of?" I asked him. "Cheap cloth and Styrofoam." "You got a problem with my board?" he mumbled. It was then that I saw something that required my immediate attention: a rather large wave was beginning to form. I then swam off, making sure to splash Troy in the face. As soon as I got further out, I saw the thing that began this entire adventure: A bolt of bright orange lightning, striking the water out on the horizon...
I was about to ride the wave in when I saw more bolts of the orange lightning on the horizon. Thunder boomed, and a strong wind picked up, whipping sand into the ankles of the people on the beach (I knew how much that hurt) and bending palm trees. The water swirled around me, beginning to carry me out in a rip current. I let myself go limp, silently thanking my dad and my Boy Scout training for the advice (if you're ever caught in a rip current, don't fight it. You'll just tire yourself out and you won't make it out of it anyways. Just relax, and it'll eventually spit you out the side). Then I saw the waterspout (A/N: It's a tornado that hits over water). It began sucking water up into it, and that was when I began paddling away. I had gotten pretty much nowhere, and the waterspout had torn my leash clean off my arm. It was my only boogie board, too. But anyways, that was when things started getting weird.The sand on the beach disappeared, replaced by grass. All the outstanding structures- the trees, the lifeguard stand, the pavilion where DJ was sitting- all were pulled into the ground and disappeared. DJ made a valiant effort to save his laptop and CDs, but couldn't get all of them. Alas, many albums were lost that day. But that's besides the point. Anyways, a stone statue of a person wearing some sort of large cleaning appliance, a huge backpack attached to a water sprayer of some sort sprouted from the ground. Near it, a huge orange building with a painting of an orange Penrose Triangle near the top burst from the grassy field, with an abandoned warehouse on either side of it. A gray concrete seawall arose, cutting off my escape back to shore. In front of the seawall, huge chunks of granite appeared. People were screaming and running, and eventually the storm stopped. It was then that I noticed a gray triangular fin, slicing towards the water, coming straight at me...
We didn't know it at the time, but the strange storms were plaguing the entire Earth, penetrating straight to the core of the planet, somehow altering the form of the Earth itself. Deserts became valleys, oceans became forests, cities became tundras, mountains became open fields. And after all this happened, there was a pause, almost as if the lightning was building up for a grand finale. And then the finale came: the entire planet burst into dozens of pieces, each of them flying into space...
It wasn't long before I was backed up against the seawall. The fin was tearing through the water, getting closer... ever closer... I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the shark... Thankfully, a rope suddenly dropped right above me. I grabbed it and started climbing as fast as I could, walking up the rock wall and moving hand over hand. The shark jumped out of the water, barely missing me. Holding the other end of the rope was DJ. "First rule of survival? Bring rope with you wherever you can," he grunted. The beach- well, now open grassy field- was a scene of chaos, with people running around and screaming. Matthew, Daniel and Jessie's expressions were all plain: they were wondering what exactly was going on. A silent exchange went on between the three of us. Should we tell them? I mouthed. Tell them what? We don't know for certain we're in the Universe, Vanda mouthed back. DJ facepalmed. Gee, we're not in the Universe! The entire beach just happened to turn into a perfect replica of Brick Annex! DJ mouthed to us. If he was talking out loud, he would have sounded extremely sarcastic. "Well, there's only one way to find out," Vanda said. Now, you remember how I said earlier that Doc Overbuild had created a way to access the Universe? That was done by creating a portal. It had something to do with neurology and the decreased levels of Imagination on Earth, but I couldn't understand any of it. Go get a degree in neurology and talk to Overbuild if you want more details. Believe me, it's complicated. Anyways, Vanda began creating a portal. You know how you created a portal through the door to Club Station Alpha? It was like that. A glowing orb of Imagination in each of Vanda's hands, and she moved them to trace the outline of a doorway. A glowing blue plane of light appeared, but it soon shattered into small, glass-like pieces of energy. She tried a few more times, but ended with the same results. "OK, now there's no question," she said, and looked out towards the water. "Something... or someone turned Earth into the LEGO Universe..."
"Guys, what exactly is going on here?!" M1 asked. Vanda took a deep breath, and was about to explain the history of our adventures in the Universe, when another voice called out. "Guys! Hey, buddies!" It was Troy. And yes, he had the nerve to call us "buddies." Vanda was visibly seething. DJ just looked confused, mainly because he had never seen Troy before. "What, for the love of Pete, do you want, Troy?" Vanda said angrily. She obviously looked like she wanted to throw him in the ocean. Troy took a deep breath. "You guys are the only ones I really know-" "If by 'know,' you mean irritate to no end, then I don't think we're the only ones you 'know,'" Vanda growled. "I take it you're not exactly on friendly terms," DJ said quietly. "NO!" Vanda yelled. DJ quietly inched away. "Well, we can't just leave him here," I said. "Troy wouldn't survive in the Universe for ten minutes." "Yeah, I- HEY!" he glared at me. "As much as I hate to do this..." Vanda sighed. "We have to let him come with us. He won't last." Vanda turned to Troy. "I am not exactly happy with extra dead weight, though," she snarled. Troy gulped. "Do you think you could avoid the use of the word 'dead,' since that's probably how we're gonna end up if you don't tell us what's going on."
And so we did. Vanda and I explained the history of the Universe, and the Nexus Force's victory against the Maelstrom with the assistance of the Chaotic Imagination. A few minutes later, the story had been finished. "But what exactly caused the Earth to do-" D2 motioned at the beach, which had somehow been turned into a life-size replica of Brick Annex. "-this?" "I'm not naming names, but those lightning bolts WERE orange," I said. "Do you think that somehow, someway, it might be Ithamar's work?"
"You could be right," Vanda replied. "Ithamar has influence on Earth, thanks to the rift." It was then that I noticed a strange orange glow on the horizon. "Guys? What's that?" I asked. DJ shielded his eyes and looked out on the horizon. "It looks like a yacht... but there's something on it," DJ said. "And they don't exactly look friendly." I squinted at the yacht, too. The things on it looked all too familiar. They were each the size of a human, and vaguely humanoid, but they were definitely not people. I stared at one to get a better look at it, and I found I had encountered these before. Its skin glowed bright orange. One of its legs was intact, but the other was replaced by a metal claw. The brown shirt it wore was torn to shreds, and part of it had fallen away, revealing part of its ribcage, which was stained with bright orange slime. One of its arms was also untouched, but the other one was a curved, wicked-looking blade, speckled with the same strange orange goo. Its eyes glowed a bright violet, and its hair was pointed into a cone. In short, it was a Stromling, except bright orange. "Orange is Ithamar's color," I said. "Maybe they're friendly?" One of them picked up what looked like a long, black stick, glowing with orange energy. There was a loud "CRACK!", and an orange bolt of energy whizzed by our heads. The people on the beach ran around and screamed even louder as more orange blasts slammed into the sand...
As glowing orange bullets tore into the ground around us, the various people in Brick Annex took cover behind whatever they could find. "Since when do Stromlings have rifles?" I yelled to DJ. "Don't ask me! Even the pirates didn't have guns!" he shouted back. "Could we discuss the finer points of Stromling weaponry later?!" Vanda snarled. A bullet whizzed by her head. Another barely missed my arm. It was then that another person slammed down in the grass next to me. I looked to my side and saw that it was a man, probably in his late twenties. He was somewhat pale, and was wearing a shirt with the logo for a fireworks company on it. "OK, random question for a random person," he said to me. "What the heck is going on here?" he demanded. "I honestly have no idea," I said, and winced as another bullet flew by my ear. "I was just supposed to be delivering the fireworks!" the man yelled. "I didn't sign up for this!" Something clicked inside my head right then. "Wait, do you still have the fireworks with you?" I asked. "Right in here," the guy said, patting his backpack. I grinned. "I think I might just have an idea..."