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GallantStrongCyclone dove under a Stromling Mech, heaving his Basic Shortsword upwards into the Mech's underside. The Mech began to collapse down on him, but he dove out of the way, before standing up and delivering two more strikes to the Mech's chestplate, bringing an end to the robotic minion of the Maelstrom.
A couple of Stromlings noticed his actions, and five came storming at him. Cyclone was ready. He smashed the first three, then jumped up into the air above the remaining two Stromlings, aiming his sword down and falling upon them, smashing them instantly.
After smashing a couple more Stromlings and the occasional Mech, Cyclone decided to take a break. After making sure no Stromlings were watching, he dove into a safe spot. Pulling a Notion Potion from his backpack, Cyclone drank the imagination drink, strengthening him. As he fumbled around in his backpack for a Nexus Force Healing Kit, he noticed some stone steps that led up into a path that went through a hole in the cliffside.
Curious, Cyclone swung on his backpack, and brandishing his trusty shortsword, he crept in.
The path led down a slope into a small clearing. Stromlings and their Mech counterparts were all over the place down there. Cyclone quickly darted into a hiding spot, before checking to make sure no one saw him. Confident he had not been seen, he sneaked out of the hiding spot to get a better look. Two larger, purple monsters were also marching around down there.
Spiderlings, Cyclone realized in fear. He had heard of them from more experienced Nexus Force recruits, but had never actually seen them this up close. The Rank Threes had said they were no problem, especially compared against Dragons. Cyclone didn't even want to imagine what Dragons were like, but he assumed they were pretty much invincible, which meant Spiderlings couldn't be that hard.
Confident, he grabbed his shortsword, equipped his Sentinel Shield and Nexus Force Helmet, and marched confidently into the clearing.
The Maelstrom instantly saw him. The Stromlings charged and the Mechs fired energy blasts, but the Spiderlings didn't appear to be doing much.
Cyclone spun and slashed the Stromlings, taking them down, before running at a Mech. The mech batted him away with its left arm, then fired at him. Cyclone dodged it and did a combo move, smashing the mech. He quickly built a turret, which supplied some extra firepower at the Stromlings that attempted to smash him.
So far so good. Cyclone thought. Besides from being a little intense, this was actually quite easy. After smashing the other mech, he ran over to one of the Spiderlings. He swung his sword at the spider's legs, but it just bounced off. The legs were armored!
The Spiderling knocked him away, then the cannon on its right started buzzing. White light glowed from it, and only a second before it fired, Cyclone realized he had made a big mistake entering the cave in the first place. The cannon fired, and a sticky Maelstrom web shot out, wrapping around him and immobilizing him. It sucked the imagination out of him, and as Cyclone tried to scream, he could see the Stromlings running to him, injecting him with Maelstrom energy, before all was dark. The last thing he saw before blacking out was a reddish skeletal face, howling a disembodied laugh as darkness seeped over.
Cyclone opened his eyes. Light shone over him, as he looked around, confused. It seemed like days had passed, yet he could barely remember anything. He remembered things like his name, what he was good at, stuff like that, but everything else was blank.
He looked down at his shirt. It was stained in purple and black. His pants were the same, but what really shocked him were his hands. His left arm had a long silver spike protruding from it, and his right hand was purple too, and purple smoke rose from it.
A small shard of glass lay on the ground. Trembling, Cyclone picked it up and stared into its reflection. He screamed. The face he saw staring back at him was wrinkled and had a boiled look to it. His hair shot up in a nearly straight line. His eyes shone red, and he stared in horror at what he was. He was a Stromling.
Cyclone dropped the glass, and it fell to ground, shattering into a million pieces.
A backpack lay on the ground near him. I could use a Notion Potion right now, he thought. But wait, how had he thought of that? He didn't even know what a Notion Potion was!
Rummaging around, he pulled out a bottle. He drank it, but immediately felt ill. Pain swept through his arms and legs, and he screamed some more. He fell to the ground in shock.
The pain slowly went away, and when it was all gone, Cyclone got up again. He needed to know where he was. Swinging on the backpack, he walked towards what seemed to be an exit from the little cave he was in. He strode through it, and the sounds of battle reached his ears. Stromlings like him were locked in combat with more powerful Nexus Force recruits. The Stromlings outnumbered them, but were easily smashed. Farther ahead, a large encampment rose above the battle.
"The Sentinel Base Camp." Cyclone murmured. Wait, he realized. How had he known THAT? He must be starting to remember things from before he turned into a Stromling. Hold on, how did he know what a Stromling was? This was getting really confusing.
He walked through the battle. Then he heard someone running in his direction. Cyclone turned and saw a Stromling running to him. "Help!" it shouted, as it dove over to him. "They're after me!"
Cyclone looked back to where the Stromling had come from, and noticed someone dressed in red and black armor running to them. Purple fire erupted from him, but what really interested Cyclone were the two mean looking guns the guy was holding.
Purple goo shot from them and impacted the ground around Cyclone and the other Stromling. The Stromling screamed as a shot hit it, smashing it. Cyclone dodged and swung his blade at the red guy, but he jumped over him. Cyclone suddenly had a great urge to smash the person, so he swung even more. His blade connected with one of the guns, and it flew from the person's hand. Cyclone grabbed it, and aiming the weapon at the Nexus Force soldier, he fired.
The red recruit made a sound like, "Ah!" and smashed.
The urge to smash disappeared, and suddenly Cyclone realized what he had done. More memories rushed back to him, and Cyclone realized he had just smashed a Rank 3 Paradox Space Marauder! He had smashed a friendly! Some of the nearby Stromlings and Nexus Force recruits stopped fighting and turned to him. The battlefield was silent.
"Hey, get 'im! He smashed Ray!" a Sentinel Samurai shouted! Then all the recruits stormed over to him, ready to smash him.
"Uh oh!" Cyclone turned on his heel and ran towards the base camp. He was still very confused about what side he was on, but he knew that whenever he ran into the Sentinel Base Camp, the Sentinel Guards would protect him. He ran towards the entrance, and the guards aimed their rifles at him. Then they fired.
Imagination bullets streaked over to him, and grazed his shoulder. They were firing at him! More bullets zipped by him.
Changing tactics, Cyclone jumped up into the air and grabbed onto the underside of the large bus that hung up there. The guards turned upwards and continued firing. Bullets pinged off the metal bus, but Cyclone hung on. Rockets and swords were fired and tossed up at him from the swarm of Nexus Force recruits from below, but he managed to avoid them as he climbed towards the entrance of the bus and slid himself in. He was safe, for now.
More weapons collided with the bottom of the vehicle, but it didn't fall. After a while, the swaying ceased, and the Nexus Force recruits went back to the main battlefield. Cyclone knew that the Sentinels would be climbing up on the wall to get him soon enough, so he began to plot how he would escape. However, he was first going to explore the bus.
"Is someone there?" a voice called from the back of the bus.
Cyclone stopped. He had definitely heard a voice. He ran towards the back, and found a shivering Stromling sitting there between the back of a seat and the rear of the bus, huddled in a blanket. It looked up, terrified. "Who are you?"
"I'm Cyclone," answered Cyclone. "What happened to you?"
"I- I'm not really sure, it was all dark, and I can't remember anything, except my name." the Stromling said. "My name's Kate, by the way." she said finally.
After Cyclone's and Kate's having met each other, they decided they should leave, before the Sentinels lowered the bus and captured them. Stealthily, they had climbed onto the top of the bus, and from there climbed to the safety of the mountains, where they could view the battlefield without fear of being caught.
Cyclone still hadn't completely accepted the fact that he was a Stromling. If he was, in truth, a servant of the Maelstrom, shouldn't he have the urge to smash the Nexus Force all the time, like he had had with the Space Marauder? It could be that both he and Kate had only partially been infected, which would explain why they still had free will against the power of darkness.
Night had fallen, yet the battle below them still raged on. Every now and then, Cyclone or Kate would look over the cliff side and watch the fighting, and keep each other updated on what was going on. On one of these events, Cyclone was watching two Assembly Engineers on the battlefield. One kept the other covered with his turrets and armor repair ability, while the other did most of the fighting. Cyclone watched in horror as several Stromlings attempted to fight them, but were smashed, dropping loot from their backpacks for the greedy Nexus Force recruits to pick up. All of a sudden Cyclone felt an urge to smash the Assemblies, but he ignored it.
"Hey, Kate," Cyclone said. "You know that urge that you get to smash someone every once in awhile?"
Kate nodded. "Yes, but it's pretty easy to ignore."
Cyclone went back to staring at the battle. He wondered if the Stromlings down there had feelings too, or if he and Kate were just exceptions in a swarm of mindless monsters.
Down below, a recruit built a satellite beacon. The sound of aircraft engines droned overhead, and three Nexus Force Jets streaked by above them, dropping bombs on the battle below. While Stromlings and Mechs were smashed, any Nexus Force soldiers were just knocked away. Cyclone guessed it was their imagination that protected them from being smashed, and since his own imagination had been replaced by Maelstrom, he made a mental note to NOT walk into the bomb paths.
Then it dawned on him, that up in the mountains, they were safe from being seen from below. But what about from above?
Cyclone tugged on Kate's sleeve. "Uh, Kate? I think we need to get moving again. Those jets-"
He never finished his sentence. At that moment, a Nexus Force Jet happened to notice the two Stromlings up on the mountain, and in one pass, he had launched rockets in their direction.
Cyclone had just noticed the rockets before grabbing Kate and jumping out of the way. The rockets smashed into where they had just been, setting the grass ablaze and creating a large crater in the ground.
"That was close." Cyclone said. "We'd better head for the launch area, from there we can get on a rocket and escape to Block Yard, or Crux Prime."
"But that's all the way past the monument, and there are Sentinel Guards at the caves leading to there." Kate pointed out.
"Then we'll take the shortcut." Cyclone stated, gesturing to the mountains ahead. "It'll just be a little hike."
"But still, couldn't we at least disguise ourselves?" Kate pleaded. "We can't be noticed like this, or we'll definitely be smashed."
Cyclone sighed. "Alright then. Let's look for something in our backpacks.
A little bit later, Cyclone, dressed in a Nexus Force Helmet, Sentinel Shield, Shortsword, Armor, and Gray Pants, headed for the mountains, with a similarly disguised Kate behind him.
Climbing the mountains wasn't hard, it mostly consisted of just running up the slopes and down the other side, over and over again. The hard part was looking out for Nexus Force Jets patrolling the area, but they hadn't run into anymore since their last encounter.
Finally, after climbing yet another mountain, the launch area stretched out in front of them. Buffalo grazed in the fields while rank ones, twos, threes, and fresh recruits chatted or bought and sold items to the vendors.
"Look, there's the launch pads." Kate said, pointing to the three launch pads that led to Nimbus Station, the Venture Explorer Wreck, and Block Yard. "Now all we need is a rocket."
"Um, I smashed by pieces for bricks after leaving the Venture Explorer." Cyclone said, embarrassed. "I, um, sort of wanted to join Assembly, so I wanted to gain a liking to building."
"Did you build anything?" Kate asked him.
"Um, not really. Just a homemade do-it-yourself Assembly Turret." Cyclone replied.
Kate laughed, but being a Stromling, it sounded too guttural.
"Well, we can't buy rocket pieces, since we'd be recognized too quickly," Kate said, stating the facts. "Maybe we could build some pieces."
"Yeah, if we can get into the building area. Besides, we don't have any imagination to build with." groaned Cyclone.
"How about stealing a rocket?" Kate asked.
"WHAT?!" Cyclone exclaimed. "Steal a rocket? But- but- that's not right!"
"Many things aren't right!" Kate said. "Besides, this is for our survival. Most recruits love building anyways, so they probably have tons of rockets. Those rank threes definitely must have at least one rocket."
Cyclone sighed. "All right then." he said, flopping his arms in surrender.
Kate grinned, and led him down to the launch area.
The two disguised stromlings ran down the hill and emerged by the Avant Grove Launchpad. Just ahead of them were the vendors, Hu Where, Swabby Bilgebarrel, Eekums, PDRX-4, Sofia Almagam, Darby Snapwish, Brutus Speck, Dusty Holster, and Kirsten Quasar. Even more ahead were the Venture Explorer, Nimbus Station, and Block Yard launch pads, the latter two ones being guarded by Sky Lane and Crash Helmet.
"I think our best bet is for the Venture Explorer." Kate said. "No one's guarding it, and the only people really there would be Maelstrom, and they wont hurt us."
"So we grab a rocket and make a run for the VE Launch Pad?" Cyclone double checked.
"Precisely," Kate assured him. "Now, when I say go, in three, two, one, GO!"
Cyclone and Kate ran from the Avant Grove launch pad, between the vendors, and towards a Sentinel who was carrying a Pod Rocket, headed for the Block Yard pad.
Kate sped ahead, and grabbed the rocket out from under the startled Knight, but lacking the imagination used to carry large objects, she lost her balance and attempted to drag the rocket. Cyclone rushed to help her before the Knight realized that they were stealing his rocket, when he realized that a rocket can only hold ONE person. He did a facepalm, but then thought of an idea.
He quickly disconnected the engine part of the rocket, and then grabbed another cockpit module from a Venture who was building his own rocket. "Sorry!" he mouthed, before connected the new piece to the engine and helping to drag it to the VE launch pad with Kate.
"Hey! They're stealing my rocket! Stop them!" the Knight screamed, now knowing what had just happened. The Venture joined him, but instead of chasing them, they just kept shouting.
Without imagination, the ability to build objects was quite hard. Cyclone and Kate were barely able to connect the two cockpit modules, engine module, and nose cone module together. But then Cyclone thought of an idea. If they didn't have Imagination now, but they were Stromlings, why couldn't they use Maelstrom?
"Use the Maelstrom!" Cyclone called to Kate. Together, using their newly found Maelstorm abilities, they connected the four modules together in no time.
By now the Venture and Sentinel had attracted quite a lot of attention. A wave of recruits were running to them, and they even seemed to have Sky Lane's and Crash Helmet's attention. Even the buffalo seemed to be interested!
The rocket was finished, and they quickly loaded it onto the launchpad. The recruits were nearly upon them now. Cyclone let Kate climb into the forwards cockpit, which he assumed would be the pilot's seat, and then he climbed into the back. When he had escaped the Venture Explorer in his rocket, he had barely known how to fly, and ended up crashing into the Paradox Lab, unleashing a bunch of weird Maelstrom creatures that ended up looking like Stromlings with chainsaws. A bunch of Rank Threes had finished them off, but some were still believed to be lurking around. It was then that he had first learned about Dark Spiderlings.
The rocket's engines turned on, and Cyclone was grateful that they had stolen mostly Pod Rocket pieces. If it hadn't been for the extra engines, they probably wouldn't have been able to even take off with the extra weight from the second cockpit module!
The rocket lifted off from the launch pad just as the first recruits reached them. In a blinding flash they had taken off, and were flying through the clouds of Avant Gardens, up into space, where the retractable glass cockpit canopies slid up, pressurizing the cockpits. The rocket soared out of Avant Garden's atmosphere, and soon all of Avant Gardens that they could see were the ends of its vast oceans, which flowed off the edge into space, where they turned to ice.
"Phew, we made it." Cyclone said.
"Yeah," Kate agreed from the front cockpit. "This rocket is on a premade path which the launch pad installed. It'll take us straight to the Venture Explorer, or what's left of it. I've always wanted to get back there, fight some hammer wielding Stromlings...." her voice trailed off. "Whoa, I don't know where I thought of THAT. Yet it feels like it is something I've always wanted to do...."
"It must be your memories returning from before you were a Stromling." Cyclone said. "I'm still recovering from memory loss too."
"Well, we don't need to go the Venture Explorer, if I can override this autopilot stuff." Kate said. Through the cockpit glass, Cyclone could see Kate bending over, digging around under her dashboard. "Got it!" she cried jubilantly after a minute, holding in her hand a bunch of wires. "All I needed to do was sever them with this." she said, gesturing to the blade she had instead of a left hand.
"Cool." Cyclone commented, as Kate turned the rocket away from the premade course. "So, where too?"
"Crux Prime. From there maybe we could get to Nexus Tower and have Vanda Darkflame help us out." Kate suggested. "If we can get past the guards."
"Sounds like a good idea to me." Cyclone said.
"Just one problem." Kate said. "Even though we have multiple engines on this thing, we've used up lots of fuel. We'll have to stop at a via point, like Nimbus Station."
"What's the closest location?" Cyclone asked, his rising panic evident in his voice.
Kate said, "Well, the closest location exactly would be a Block Yard owned by someone named...."
"Who?" Cyclone asked.
"....CheerfulPowerRover." Kate finished.
"Well, maybe he has some fuel for us to use. I've heard that the Block Yard properties originated from part of Avant Gardens which was very rich in fuel. There are rumors that the Nexus Force was even planning to use some of the unowned Block Yard properties as Gas Stations." Cyclone said.
"Well then, let's go." Kate said, giving the rocket full throttle.
The rocket zoomed off towards the Block Yard property, but unknown to them, another rocket was also headed to that same Block Yard property.
CheerfulPowerRover was NOT happy. First, a Space Marauder he was friends with got smashed by a lowly Stromling. Then a bunch of new guys badger the satellite beacons, so that he kept getting bombed by the Nexus Force Jets. And THEN, a lowly recruit steals his extra rocket cockpit. Angry, he decided to spend some time as his Block Yard, cheer himself up by building.
So now, as Rover guided his rocket towards his Block Yard property, he noticed a Pod Rocket with two cockpits land at his property. Good, visitors, he thought. Grinning he landed his rocket next to the double cockpit rocket, and climbed out.
The occupants of the Pod rocket still had not left the rocket. Anxious, Rover hopped from one foot to the other. He was getting impatient.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, the glass canopies on the rocket opened, and two fat Nexus Force recruits climbed out. They seemed.... familiar, and combined with the overly familiar second cockpit module on the rocket, Rover started to get suspicious.
"Um, hi. Do you have any spare fuel cells for our rocket?" one asked in a very guttural voice. This made Rover even more suspicious. The only other time he had heard someone speed that gutturally was when he was about the smash a stromling. The stromling had started shouting in gibberish words, and it had sounded very similar to this weird recruit.
"Fuel? Nah, but there's one of those Nexus Force Gas Stations nearby, off that way." Rover said, pointing to one side of his Block Yard.
"Okay thanks." the recruit said, before both persons climbed back into their rocket, and took off.
As they left, Rover thought he caught notice of a trace of purple smoke from the recruit. He went over to where the recruit had been standing, and using his Maelstrom scanner, discovered a faint Maelstrom trace. Then it hit him. They were Stromlings! And he bet they were the same guys who stole HIS cockpit module.
Rover instantly was in his fastest rocket, chasing the Stromlings' rocket. Gritting his teeth, he closed the gap between them, before loaded a Firecracker into his rocket's projectile launcher. Most rockets didn't have weapons, but Rover had had one specially fitted into his rocket.
With the gap between the two rockets becoming even less, Rover knew it was time to fire. Grinning, he pulled the trigger on his missile launcher. "This is the end, Stromlings."
"Whoa!" Kate exclaimed as a firecracker exploded next to their port Nose Cone engine. Imagination started to leak from it, and with more thrust on the right then on the left, the rocket began to steer leftwards.
Kate quickly cut off all fuel transfer to that engine to preserve fuel, and then lowered the power output on the right nose cone engine.
"What hit us?!" Cyclone yelled.
"A firecracker of some sort," Kate answered. "Wait, hold on!"
The rocket banked as another smaller, more faster and agile rocket sored by them.
"Oh no, he's recognized us!" Cyclone shouted in a panic. All of a sudden he had an urge to smash the pilot of that rocket, and he attempted to ignore it. But unlike the previous time he had this feeling, it was now stronger, harder to ignore. He looked over at Kate, and she appeared to be feeling the same urge as him. "Fight it, Kate!"
The feeling of smashing suddenly disappeared as soon as it had come. Kate however, seemed to be in a shock. Since she had been infected longer than he had, it was most likely that she had experienced the feeling more times that he had, and if Cylone's worries were true, she had more trouble resisting them than he did.
"I'll take over," Cyclone told her, before gripping his control stick. He only had limited experience in flying rockets, and had done so only once on his escape from the Venture Explorer. It had not been easy, and more than once he had nearly crashed into other escaping rockets, and then he had crashed into the Paradox Lab.
Shaking his fears, Cyclone banked to the right, following the attacking rocket. As long as he stayed behind it, the other rocket couldn't get behind them, and shoot from behind. With the loss of their front left rocket, and with front right rocket on low power, his ability to maneuver the rocket was hard, and soon he lost sight of the attacking rocket. Less than five seconds later, it was back, shooting firecrackers from behind, streaking by, firing a flash bang, and peeling away for another pass.
Cyclone hated to do this, but it was only thing he could do. He had to use his new Maelstrom powers to his advantage. He closed his eyes, and ignored all that was around him, focusing only the Maelstrom. He could feel Maelstrom power pulsing through him, ready to be used. Opening his eyes, he then focused on the rocket he saw in his rear view mirror, zipping towards them, about to launch another Firecracker.
Suddenly all the power he had felt disappeared. Cylone thought he had failed, when all of a sudden a purple lightning bolt zapped from him towards the other rocket. Cyclone screamed, the intense heat and strength of the lightning burning him everywhere, when just as sudden as it had started, it stopped. He stared into the mirror again, and saw the rocket sitting disabled in space, a Maelstrom cloud surrounding it. A few Imagination bursts erupted from the rocket, and the Maelstrom cloud faded away slowly. So Imagination could overcome Maelstrom, thought Cyclone. The rocket then slowly restarted its engines, and limped back to the Block Yard. Cyclone suddenly had another urge to smash the limp rocket, but it took a lot of his willpower to fight it, more willpower than before. His dark feelings were getting stronger.
Overcome with confusion, Cyclone just set his attention to flying, and as he flew off to he nearest Block Yard gas station, he knew he had to get himself and Kate uninfected. And fast.
After fueling up the rocket and conducting some repairs on the engines, Cyclone and Kate were ready to head for the next part of their journey. Next stop: Crux Prime. Hopefully, once they got there they could sneak into Nexus Tower and get the faction leaders' help, namely Vanda Darkflame. Being most knowledgeable in the arts of the Maelstrom, she had to be able to uninfect them somehow. Or maybe Dr. Overbuild, since he knew lots of things about Imagination. But they both agreed on one thing. Stay away from Duke Exeter. Being the Sentinel Faction Leader, he most likely would smash them as soon as he saw them.
So now, as their rocket streaked towards the largest life supporting chunk in the Nimbus System, Cyclone decided it was time to take a nap, regain some strength. With Kate piloting the rocket, Cyclone slept.
It was then that he had the dream.
GallantStrongCyclone ran happily towards Nexus Jay in Nimbus Plaza. He was now at the point of his journey through the ranks of the Nexus Force that he was given the choice of choosing a faction. Sentinels, strong, powerful, and always ready to fight for the Nexus Force. Assembly, ready to build its way to victory. Venture, always exploring new tactics and ready for anything. Paradox, using the power of the Maelstrom against itself.
All these factions had their pros, and together formed the Nexus Force. And now he was going to choose his faction.
Nexus Jay smiled at him as he neared. "Hello! Ready to join your faction?" he called to Cyclone.
"Yes!" Cyclone exclaimed excitedly.
"Great! Let's see your Nexus Force approval!" Nexus Jay said, beaming. "Okay, now it is time for your important decision. Which faction will you choose?"
Cyclone smiled. "I'd like to join-"
And then he woke up.
Cyclone jerked awake. That dream had seemed so real, so lifelike, as if it had actually happened. Cyclone checked the time. He had been asleep for more than six hours!
He stared out the cockpit glass as the passing stars and random planet chunks. "How soon till we reach Nexus Tower?" he called to Kate.
"Kate?" he called again.
Snore. Kate was sleeping as well.
A wave of panic started to sweep through him, but Cyclone maintained his cool. He checked the star maps, and to his relief he realized that they were travelling in a straight line to Nexus Tower. A gauge read "Autopilot Engaged", Kate must have turned that on. According to the map, they were only a few hundred more miles to Crux Prime. Cyclone stared out the window, and to his satisfaction saw a large planet chunk ahead of them.
"Crux Prime." Cyclone murmured. "We're going to Crux Prime."
The rocket streaked through the clouds of Crux Prime. Mountains and volcanoes dotted the landscape below, and far ahead just over the horizon was Nexus Tower, housing the last shard of the Imagination Nexus.
Cyclone, and the now awake Kate guided the rocket in search of a landing spot.
"Any idea where to land?" Kate asked him.
"No idea." Cyclone said, as he leaned over the side of his rocket to stare at the Maelstrom and Nexus Forcers battling below. "I think I see a clear spot by Sentinel Point Zeta. There are turrets everywhere, so we'll have to keep low and avoid detection."
"Got it." Kate gripped the yoke and aimed for a small clearing by Sentinel Point Zeta.
The Maelstrom forces who were attempting to lay siege to the Base looked up and saw the low flying rocket. Admiral Flogmore and Gull Rawstew stood amidst several "Arrr"ing Stromling Pirate and Admiral Invaders. They even had two Apes and a Dragon.
"Arrr, shoot down that rocket, arrr!" Flogmore arrred to his pirates. The pirates nearest to the Dragon shouted a command to the Dragon. Roaring, the Dragon stood up on its hind legs and fired a burst of fire up at the rocket.
The fire burnt the rocket's underside crisp, and the engines quickly overheated. Fire licked the sides of the rocket, and purple smoke engulfed it.
"That Dragon just set us ablaze!" Cyclone shouted.
"I know! I'm going to try and land us!" Kate shouted back. "Hold on!"
The rocket was uncontrollable, and banked, rolled, and spun wildly. The Stromling Apes grabbed rocks and tossed them up at the rocket. One of the boulders hit it on the engine module, sending it spinning away at high speed.
"AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Cyclone and Kate both screamed as the rocket soared through the air like a boomerang, just it wasn't coming back. The g-force was very strong, and Cyclone could feel himself blacking out. After zipping through the air a mile-a-second for a while, it began to lose speed and it dipped downwards. The rocket struck the ground at a lower speed, but the force of the impact was so strong Cyclone blacked out completely. The last thing he felt before all was completely black was the rocket thudding against something, ending its long cartwheel.
Gallant Strong Cyclone was now a Rank One Paradox Space Marauder. He had chosen the Paradox Faction since he owed the Paradox Faction for saving his life during his exploration in the Avant Gardens Paradox Caves. A Rank Three Paradox Sorcerer and a Rank Two Shinobi had rescued him from the Spiderling, and after that helped guide him through getting his Nexus Force Approval and joining a faction.
Now, as a he ran through Gnarled Forest with his Paradox friends, he felt excited. They had successfully smashed pirates, admirals, and even apes during their stay at Gnarled Forest.
An ape stood ahead of him, throwing boulders and pounding the ground repeatedly, keeping several Rank Ones from reaching it.
"We'll handle this," Cyclone said to the recruits, and cocking his blaster, he charged-
Darkness gave way to light, and all of a sudden Cyclone was awake again. What happened? Did the ape get me? he thought, when his recent memories flashed back to him. He sat up, panting. He was on Crux Prime, awake, no longer dreaming. He breathed heavily. That dream had been so real, just like the last one he had. In his dreams, he wasn't a Stromling, he was a minifigure. Maybe his dreams were showing him the life he could have been living, if he hadn't been infected.
Cyclone stood up, and bumped his head. He then realized he had been lying on the ground, UNDER his rocket. He crawled backwards to get a better view, and saw that Kate was lying near her cockpit. The rocket was upside down, and must have dumped them out after coming to a stop. The two cockpits and engine were the only parts visible, and when Cyclone stood up, he saw that the nosecone was embedded in a cliff side, its two engines broken off and smoking.
"Whew, there goes the rocket," Cyclone sighed. He went over to Kate and dragged her into a sitting position. She was breathing, just not yet awake.
Cyclone then realized that both his and Kate's backpacks were not in the rocket where they had been before. A little clicking sound came from above him, and when Cyclone whirled around to see what was causing it, he noticed a monkey sitting up on a branch extending from a dead tree on a small plateau of rock above and behind him, holding both backpacks in its hands, snacking on their contents.
"Hey, give those back!" Cyclone jumped up, ready to climb the tree, when he heard a familiar voice say, "George, where'd you get those?"
Cheerful Power Rover stepped over from the top of the plateau, dressed in full Venture League Buccaneer gear, holding a long sword and a mean looking gun. He saw Cyclone. "Oh, it's you again." He lunged at him.
Rover fell down on Cyclone, and the two of them grappled around on the ground.
"I'm gonna smash you!" Rover screamed, while Cyclone attempted to block Rover's attacks. A fist smashed into his armor, smashing it, and sending him flying into the side of the rocket with a loud "BANG!!!!!!!!!!!!!".
Cyclone was dizzy. He could barely stand, and even less fight. "This is the end of it, Stromling." he heard Rover taunt, as the Buccaneer aimed his pistol at him.
Cyclone tilted his head and the imagination bullet pinged off the metal hull of the rocket. Rover charged and him, waving his sword, ready to do a smash via slash, but Cyclone ducked at the last second. Rover collided with the rocket hull and Cyclone scrambled out from under him. In the frenzy, Rover's backpack had fallen down. Cyclone grabbed it and fished a Great Shortsword of Stunning from its seemingly infinite depths. He brandished the sword, but lacking imagination he wouldn't be able to use its ability of stunning.
Rover charged at him again, firing his pistol. Cyclone spun the sword like a propeller, blocking the projectiles. Now at close range, Rover and Cyclone engaged in a sword fight, slashing at each other and parrying each other's blows. George the monkey looked on from the tree above, and gave a little screech as it dropped the now empty-of-consumables backpacks of Kate and Cyclone, and reached for Rover's bag. The monkey continued eating its lunch as Cyclone tried desperately to avoid getting smashed by Rover's attacks.
"Stop, we can negotiate this!" gasped Cyclone, as Rover's sword grazed against his knee.
"Wow! It talks!" was all Rover said as he continued his ruthless attack.
"Please, you don't understand!" Cyclone tried again. He reached out and grasped Rover shoulder. The effect was not expected.
Rover screamed as all his imagination was sucked out of him. Purple light shone from where Cyclone had touched him, and his gear turned a purplish hue. His hair shot straight up out of his buccaneer helm, and a long silver blade extended from where his left hand was. His skin turned purple, and in shock, Rover dropped to the ground, unconscious.
Uh oh. Cyclone thought, as he watched in horror as Rover was infected. And who had caused it? Cyclone.
Cyclone screamed in anguish at what he had done. He had infected Rover!
Angry at himself and scared at the same time, Cyclone dropped to the ground too, while a confused monkey named George finished the last Buttery Croissant from Rover's pack, gave a little screech, and dropped the bag. When he noticed what had become of his master, George did the one thing anyone would be expected to do if someone had just had something terrible happened to someone close, and he feared that something was after him too. The monkey fled, scrambling over rocks and fallen branches, towards the only other safe haven it knew of. Nexus Tower.
Kate's eyes flashed open. She was on Crux Prime, sitting in front of a large slab of rock, with an upside down rocket in front of her. She was still a Stromling.
Before she had woken up, she had been experiencing another one of those very weird and realistic dreams. In the dream, she was a Rank One Sentinel Samurai, battling Dark Ronin and Dragons at Forbidden Valley. She had been just about to land the final smashing blow on a Dragon she had awoke.
Kate turned her head, and saw Cyclone and a familiar looking Stromling lying on the ground. She assumed Cyclone was still unconscious from the rocket crash, but she was confused when she noticed the Great Shortsword of Stunning in his hand. And who was the other Stromling?!
Three backpacks lay on the ground under a dead tree which extended from the rock plateau. As she searched her pack, she noticed that all the consumables had been eaten, and only her old weapons and gear remained. She did a small check of the other backpacks, and found the same was with them. While examining her old Katana of Shielding, she noticed that it had teeth marks on its blade.
You see, before Kate joined the Nexus Force, she had loved studying about animals and plants. In her studies, she had practically memorized everything about buffalo, triceratops, terriers, land sharks, you name it. Including monkeys. So she instantly recognized what type of tooth marks were on the blade.
"A monkey's been here." she said. Then she stopped cold. Wait, where did she get the memories of studying animals, and how did she know that a monkey had been chewing on her Katana?! Her face lit up as she realized that she was regaining her old memories.
Cyclone groaned, and sat up.
"Yay, you're finally awake!" Kate exclaimed.
"Huh? No, I was awake before." Cyclone told her. He glanced at the unconscious Stromling, and a look of distress appeared on his face. "I did it." he whispered.
"What?" Kate asked him. "You mean, you- you-"
"I infected him." Cyclone answered her quietly, before lying back down on the ground.
"Aww, don't just go back to sleep!" Kate groaned. "Don't just leave me alone here in the middle of Crux Prime!"
Cyclone didn't answer, and Kate just accepted the fact that she was alone for now. With a sigh, she stood up, and decided it was time to explore.
Rover awoke, confused, and not remembering anything except for his name and other things in that genre. He knew his name was Cheerful Power Rover, he was on Crux Prime, and he was a Rank Three Buccaneer in the Venture League of the Nexus Force. Grimacing, he sat up, but as he moved his left arm to stabilize himself, he heard the sound of a blade grating against rock. Startled, he raised his arm and a look of utter horror appeared on his face.
He grasped his wrist with his other hand, and screamed. Two long silver blades extended from his left wrist, but what scared him even more was his right hand. It was purple and black, with red spots. His clothes were torn and tattered, purple as well. He was infected.
But even worse than being a Stromling, was that he was one of the worst types of Stromlings of them all. He was an overly slow moving Pirate Stromling! WHY????
He tried speaking, but what he tried to speak came out in several guttural "Arrr"s. When he tried to say, "Augh! I'm a Pirate Stromling! Nooooo!" he said instead, "Arrrgh, I'm a Piarrrate Stromling! Noooooooo!"
He turned to see the source for all his problems, Cyclone, seated next to him. "Are you okay?" Cyclone asked.
"Arrrrrgh!" Rover jumped up and lunged at him again, but Cyclone leaped out of the way, grabbing a sword.
"I wouldn't try that." Cyclone said. "Listen, we're both Stromlings now, and I want to say I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"Arrr! I don't care for your sorrrrys!" Rover arrred. "You made me into the worst of all Stromlings! I can't even remember anything except that it's all yourrrrr fault! Arrrr!"
Cyclone stepped out of the way, letting Rover dive into the rock wall where he was leaning against. "Ow."
Cyclone extended his hand and helped Rover up. "Please understand. We have to work together. I don't know how we're going to fix things, but we need to find a way to get uninfected."
"Me? Help YOU? Neverrrr!" Rover growled. "What did you do to George, my monkey?! Wait, what's a monkey?!"
Cyclone sighed. "I didn't do anything to your monkey, and as for what a monkey is, you'll remember soon."
"I hope you'rrrre rrright," Rover said. "I guess I'm stuck with you forrrr now. By the way, what is your name anyway?"
"Gallant Strong Cyclone's the name, getting infected's my game." he said with another sigh. "Wait, where's Kate?"
"Huh? Who's Kate?" Rover asked.
But Cyclone ignored him. He was already running towards a path, shouting Kate's name.
Rover sighed as well. He slung on the two backpacks that lay on the ground, his and Cyclone's, and trudged after Cyclone.
Kate gripped her backpack, and leaped from the platform. She landed just on the edge of the next platform, and carefully regained her balance to avoid falling down into the ravine below. Crux Prime sure was a weird place, all dark, and with strange floating platforms held up only by the planet chunk's small magnetic field.
As she continued jumping up the different platforms, the sounds of battle reached her ears. She leaped up the next platform, and was greeted by the sight of a bunch of Rank Threes, a couple of Twos, and even a few brave Rank Ones battling a huge Maelstorm Dragon Invader, the legendary Butterfly.
Butterscorch was severely outnumbered by the Nexus Forcers, but was holding her own against them, sending some falling off her platform with a swing of her tail, and burning some alive with her fire breath. She occasionally sent homing fireballs to chase down those unlucky minifigs to be targeted, and other times she just decided to take the situation for granted and have lunch, grabbing a poor minifig in her jaws and swallowing him or her whole.
But the Nexus Forcers were defiant. Unleashing their Wormholers, swiping with their Broadsiders, or flinging Big Ones, the brave minifigures courageously fought the Dragon. Slowly Butterscorch's armor was destroyed, and exhausted, Butterscorch collapsed, letting the minifigures work their way to smashing her.
Kate suddenly had an urge to protect Butterscorch, stop the minifigures from smashing her, and smash them if necessary. The feeling was strong, stronger than any of the other feelings she had had before. Drawn towards completing her goal, she leaped onto Butterscorch's platform, and was about to jump into the fray, when something pulled her back.
"Kate!" a voice was calling her from behind. Kate turned around. "Kate!" the voice called again. She recognized it.
Unfortunately, the minifigures fighting Butter also heard, and they all turned towards her.
"Hey, a Stromling!" an Assembly Inventor shouted.
"Get it!" a Paradox called.
"No! It's mine, don't steal my kill!" a Venture shouted, pushing his way through the crowd of minifigs storming towards her.
But what scared Kate more than the crowd of oncoming Nexus Forcers, was a familiar looking Rank One Sentinel Samurai standing among other weaker recruits on another platform next to Butter's, a safe spot. She resembled the same girl from her dreams, in fact looked just like her! But that meant that-
Kate screamed. She was staring at herself.
"Kate!" Cyclone shouted, grabbing her and darting back to the platform he had jumped from. "I got you."
But Kate wasn't listening she was still looking back at Butterscorch's platform, watching the lone Sentinel Samurai standing her, watching herself stand there, as Cyclone dragged her with him as he jumped back the way they had come.
While the crowd of Nexus Forcers were preparing to jump after them, Butterscorch lumbered back to a standing position, and with a loud roar, swept all the Nexus Forcers off her platform with her tail. She roared a thank you to the two Stromlings, then returned to waiting for the Nexus Forcers to respawn.
Cyclone dragged Kate over to where a Pirate Stromling was standing. "Good, you found her, arrr." the pirate said.
"Yes," Cyclone panted, letting go of Kate. "Now Kate, what were you thinking going off on your own?!" he shrieked at her.
"I- I- I thought maybe I would explore a little, and, um-" she stammered.
"Yyou could've gotten hurt! Don't you realize what all those guys would have done if they had reached you?!" Cyclone shouted.
Kate was too confused to answer. If that Sentinel Samurai was really her, then where had she, Kate the Stromling, come from?
Cyclone stormed off, fuming. The pirate shrugged, and followed him, carefully leaping to the other platforms. Kate followed suit, just barely paid any attention to her surroundings. She had more things to worry about. She made a mental note to that as soon as she had the chance, she would pursue that Sentinel Samurai at all costs. She needed to.
Cyclone stormed all the way back to where the rocket had crashed. The nerve of Kate to just run off like that! She could have gotten herself smashed, and in the process endanger them all. But the way she was when he'd rescued her, she had seemed so afraid, surprised, confused. Cyclone wondered what had happened over there at Butterscorch's platform. What had happened there?
As Cyclone neared the rocket, he stopped. A Sentinel, an Assembly, a Venture, and a Paradox stood around the rocket, examining it.
"Yep, this is the rocket we saw over at Point Zeta." the Sentinel said, jerking his thumb in the direction Cyclone assumed Sentinel Point Zeta was.
"It was shot down by the dragon, I saw it with my own eyes." the Venture said. "I wonder if there were any survivors."
"Most likely, see these tracks?" the Paradox stated, rubbing his foot around some shoe-prints. "Either the survivors left, or were dragged away by the Maelstrom."
Cyclone dove behind a rock, not wanting to be seen. He hoped Rover and Kate weren't close behind, or they might risk being seen by the Nexus Forcers.
The Assembly was holding a scanning device of some kind, and he circled around the rocket a couple of times. "The scanner is detecting some faint traces of Maelstrom activity in this area. I guess that supports the hypothesis that they were captured. Poor things."
Cyclone snickered. What an emotional Assembly. How fun it would be trying to smash him- wait, that wasn't what he wanted to think!
The Venture scratched his beard. "What I've never seen is a rocket of this type of configuration. A Pod Rocket with two cockpit modules. Strange, huh?"
"As far as I know, no other rockets like this really exist." the Sentinel said. "We'd better pull it out of this rock, pick up any broken pieces, and tow it back to Nexus Tower for testing. Maybe we could invent a new type of rocket!"
"I thought only Assemblies thought of stuff like that." the Paradox pointed out.
"Well, I was thinking of joining Assembly, but I decided I liked fighting better." the Sentinel told him.
Cyclone rolled his eyes. This conversation was getting boring. The good news was that no one was going to go out looking for survivors. But the bad news was that he, Rover, and Kate would have to find a new hideout. He slowly crept away from the rock, and ran back up the path. He stared over his shoulder, and saw the team pulling the rocket out of the cliff. He would have continued going, if a loud roar hadn't sounded from behind him.
Cyclone whirled around, and saw a huge white creature lumber out of the hole which the rocket had been in. Cyclone then realized the hole was just the entrance to a large cave, and the white monster lived in it. He watched as the monster, which he now recognized as a Yeti, started swiping at the team with its long claws.
Wait, what was a Yeti doing on Crux Prime?! Cyclone thought, flabbergasted. As far as he knew, Yetis only lived in the caves at Frostburgh, and even then they were extremely rare.
The Paradox starting summoning creatures and mechs to aid him, while the Sentinel, being a Space Ranger, and the Assembly, being an Inventor, both pulled out their guns and fired on the Yeti. The Venture, being a Daredevil, pulled out his Rutcarver and drove up the cliff behind the Yeti, and then fell down on top of the monster. He pulled out his flareguns and activated fig on fire, setting the Yeti ablaze. Then, the Daredevil pressed the flareguns to the Yeti and fired.
The Yeti smashed.
"Whew, what the brick was that?" the Sentinel asked.
"A yeti, I believe." the Venture said.
"Yetis? Here? I thought they only lived in Frostburgh and other snowy areas." the Paradox said. "I don't see any snow around here."
"Maybe there's snow in the cave." the Assembly suggested. The rest of the team looked at him as if he was crazy, except the Venture, who seemed intrigued.
"Well, I'm going to check out this cave. Anyone coming with me?" the Venture asked.
The other team members shrugged, and they all entered the cave.
Cyclone watched them leave, then darted over to the rocket, to check and see if there was anything he didn't want to leave behind. There was nothing interesting there, so after double checking, he left empty handed back up the path.
Cyclone strolled up the path, and found Rover and Kate huddled up near a bend. Farther up ahead, Cyclone could still see Butterscorch locked in combat, but they were so far away that he doubted they could be seen. There weren't any risks currently.
"Arrr, Cyclone, where've you been?" Rover asked.
"Actually, I was thinking I'd ask you the same question." Cyclone replied.
"Well, we noticed that team, so we decided to lay low here." Rover explained.
"I saw them too, but you'll never guess what happened. They pulled the rocket out of the cliff, revealing the entrance to a cave with a Yeti living in it! Just the Yeti's smashed now." Cyclone explained.
"What's so interrrresting about a Yeti?" Rover arrred.
"They're rare!" Cyclone exclaimed. "You don't see one everyday, and definitely not on Crux Prime! I mean, come on! There's no snow here!"
Throughout the conversation, Kate remained silent. She was still in a little shock, but at the same time was planning her next moves.
"What do you think about the Yeti, Kate?" Cyclone was saying. "Kate?"
"Huh? Oh, it's interesting." she replied, still deep in thought.
Cyclone could tell she was keeping a secret. He glanced at Rover, hoping he might have some insight, but he just shrugged.
"Well, we can't hide out at the crash sight anymore." Cyclone said. "So we've got to find a new place to lay down and plot how we're going to get to Nexus Tower."
"From what I've heard, it's heavily guarrrrded. As Stromlings, we wont get in easily." Rover said.
"How about disguising ourselves?" Cyclone suggested. "When Kate and I escaped Avant Gardens, we used disguises, which sort of helped conceal our identity as Stromlings."
"Ha, once they hear your voice, you're toast." Rover snickered.
"Than we'll just have to not talk for as much as possible." Cyclone said. "Can't be too hard."
"If you say so." Rover agreed. "Well then, shall we get a move on?"
Cyclone, Rover, and Kate had been trekking through the Crux Prime landscape for several hours. According to a map Rover happened to have in his backpack, they Nexus Tower was straight ahead past a couple of mountain ranges and volcanoes. Every once in awhile, they stumbled upon a Nexus Force scout. Fortunately, they managed to hide each time, keeping their presence there secret.
After climbing yet another mountain and several more hours later, Rover flopped on the ground and said, "This is so repetitive! I feel like I've been here before!"
"Maybe you did, before you were a Stromling," Cyclone suggested.
Or maybe you just did, the non-Stromling version of you, Kate thought to herself.
"Why don't we stop and rest?" Cyclone told them. "It's getting dark, and I'm pretty tired."
"It's always dark here." Rover said, rolling his eyes.
"Just there's nothing to eat, George ate all the food." Cyclone pointed out.
"Nah, I made a secret compartment in my pack, protected by lock and key." Rover assured them. "Wait, I didn't know that before."
"You're just regaining your memories," Cyclone said. "Pretty soon you'll feel like you've never forgotten anything."
Rover unlocked his secret compartment and pulled out a bunch of Buttery Croissants, Healing Drumsticks, Armor Brushes, Thirst Quenchers, Quicksickles, and other consumables. "I could sure use some imagination right now." Rover said, about to take a drink of a Thirst Quencher.
"No wait, don't!" Cyclone rushed forward and grabbed it from a surprised Rover's hands. "It'll just make you feel terrible, for some reason Imagination doesn't work well with us anymore."
After a small meal of non-imagination foods, Cyclone, Rover, and Kate all slept as nightfall reached Crux Prime, and it became darker, with the only light coming from distant volcanoes, the Maelstrom vortex, and the shaft of light from the last shard of Imagination housed in Nexus Tower.
As usual, Cyclone and Kate both had vivid, realistic dreams. In Cyclone's, he could see himself gaining his Rank Two Space Marauder Gear, and in Kate's, she saw herself helping a team of Rank Threes smash a bunch of Mech Invaders, before heading back to Nexus Tower.
The trio awoke at dawn, but Crux Prime was still the dark, gloomy place it always was.
"So, any weird dreams again?" Cyclone asked as he finished his Healing Cherry.
"Yes." Kate replied.
"What dreams?" Rover asked, confused.
"You know, the dreams of what you could have been if you weren't infected." Cyclone answered.
"What dreams?" Rover repeated.
"You mean, you're not getting dreams of yourself as a non-infected person?" Cyclone said, his turn to ask a question.
"I guess yes." replied Rover.
Now Cyclone was the one confused as well.
After picking up their stuff, they continued on again.
Mountains, fiery volcanoes, valleys, Maelstrom rivers, and other landmarks they passed as they continued trekking across Crux Prime. The only incident was when an Ape scurried out from behind a dead bush. The Ape had just looked at them curiously, and for awhile they just stood there, staring at each other, until the Ape did what looked like a shrug and continued on its own way.
"Awww, we could've asked it to give us a ride." Rover groaned.
"Okay, anybody speak Ape?" Cyclone asked.
So they continued, took a lunch break, continued some more, ate dinner, continued even more, had a bed time snack, went to bed, had dreams, woke up, and did the same thing the next day.
"This is so boring!" Kate exclaimed one day, the only thing she had said for a long time.
Cyclone was startled to hear her voice. "Hey, you were pretty silent for a long time. What's on your mind?"
Kate stared at her feet. "Well, I'd rather not really talk about it."
Cyclone shrugged. "Suit yourself."
"She has a point. This is boring." Rover said. "Why can't we just get something for us to ride on, like say, an Ape, or Dragon?"
"Too big and loud," Cyclone replied. "We'd be seen and smashed by the Nexus Force in no time."
"How ‘bout a horse then?" Rover pressed.
Cyclone rolled his eyes. "Fine. Can you speak horse?"
At that second, a Maelstrom infected horse ran by. It saw them, and screeched to a halt, as if waiting for them to do something.
"Um, hi Mr. Horse." Cyclone said.
"Maybe it wants a rider. Perhaps its Ronin was smashed." Rover suggested. To test his theory, he stepped over to the Dark Ronin-less Horse and climbed on. The horse was obedient and made no struggle. "See?"
"But what about the rest of us. I don't think we can all fit." Cyclone pointed out, eyeing the horse's bony skeleton profile.
The horse, as if understanding, gave out a whistling sound. Two more Maelstorm horses appeared.
"Well, that answers my question." Cyclone said. Both he and Kate climbed onto the new horses, and soon all of three of them were speeding off towards their destination: Nexus Tower.
Master Blade9 ran through a mountain range on Crux Prime, in search of rares and other collectible items. Master Blade was a collector, and had already collected a full Mosaic Jester Suit, Bat Lord Suit, Bone Suit and Explorien Bot Suit. In addition to those, several gems and colorful imaginite sat in a pretty purple backpack, which used to be Maelstrom infected, but was cleansed, though it still contained the glowing purple color. Also in it were a wide variety of swords, spears, hammers, and other Maelstrom-smashing weapons.
As Blade scurried around, digging up gems and other valuables, he heard the sound of hooves pounding on the ground. He looked around, but didn't see anything. However, the sound was getting louder.
Ever since a kind Mythran had sent out horses to members of the Nexus Force, a beautiful white horse could be seen anywhere. But these didn't sound like Nexus Force horses, which were very much quieter. These horses sounded louder, more fierce. Blade stood up, and prepared for a fight. These horses sounded like Maelstrom infected horses.
Drawing his Sentinel Knight sword, he got into a defensive position, just as the approaching horses came into view. The lead horse was being rode upon by a Pirate Stromling, while the other two carried regular Stromlings that you would only normally find on Avant Gardens. He raised his sword, ready to defend himself and his newly found valuables.
"Hey look, a Sentinel." Rover said to his comrades, pointing at the Sentinel Knight ahead of them. "Let's ask him for directions."
"What?!" Cyclone's eyes bugged out. "It's a Sentinel! He's gonna smash us! AAAAAAHHHH!!!"
"What?!" the Sentinel shouted, confused. "Talking Stromlings! Aaaah!"
"See, he seems nice," Rover said, dismantling from his horse. "Hello there! Are we headed in the right direction to Nexus Tower?"
The Sentinel seemed to regain his composure, and instantly had his sword pointing in their direction. "Who's a Pirate Stromling to be asking me for directions to the Nexus Force's greatest achievement in history, huh? Like I would give you directions to Nexus Tower?" he growled, pointing to Nexus Tower.
"Uh, you just did." Rover told him.
"What? Oh no!" the Sentinel shrieked. "Wait, I could just smash you. Then I can just say this never happened." he said, spinning his sword.
"But we're not just Stromlings, we're trying to get uninfected!" Rover pleaded.
"Like I would believe that," the Sentinel snarled. "I'd sooner infect myself."
"Can you please help us?" Rover attempted again, placing his hand on the Sentinel's shoulder.
That was where he made his biggest mistake as a Stromling ever.
The Sentinel started screaming, and purple light exploded from where Rover had touched the Sentinel. Rover, Cyclone, and Kate watched in horror as purple and black lines spread across the Sentinel's plastic skin and clothes. He was being infected.
The Sentinel's eyes shone red, and a long blade sprouted from his left hand. Purple mist surrounded the Sentinel, but disappeared a moment later, revealing a Stromling.
"Is it over?" the former Sentinel Knight asked, grimacing weakly, before collapsing into unconsciousness.
Rover gaped at the unconscious Stromling at his feet. "I infected him." he whispered.
Cyclone walked over to him and comfortingly placed his hand on Rover's shoulder. Being already Maelstrom infected, he guessed it was safe to do so. "It'll be okay. We'll take him with us, and when he regains consciousness we'll explain what happened, what's going on, and what we're doing, like what we did with you."
Rover helped Cyclone load the Sentinel onto Cyclone's horse, and after making sure that the Sentinel was securely on the horse's narrow saddle, they took off in the direction he had pointing them to earlier.
However, unknown to them, another Sentinel Knight respawned a mile away, of similar look to the Sentinel they had infected, just before he was infected. Confused, and not really sure what just happened, the Knight shrugged and went to the now empty of Maelstrom-horses field, and continued doing what he came for. To dig up gems.
Nightfall came. Cyclone, Rover, and Kate dismounted from their horses and set up camp at the foot of a large mountain. The Sentinel still had not gained consciousness, and Cyclone was beginning to worry.
"Hey, how long did it take for me to gain consciousness?" Rover inquired.
"Three hours or so." Cyclone told him.
"And, how long has it been?"
They snacked for a half-hour on consumables, every ten minutes looking over to check on the Stromling. After finishing their meal, Rover stood up, and with an annoyed look on his face, poured a pitcher of water down on the Sentinel's face.
The Sentinel woke up and started waving his hands, trying to block the water flow, which Rover stopped by tipping the pitcher the other way. "See, told you it would work!" he called to Cyclone and Kate, grinning.
"I don't remember him saying anything." Cyclone said. Kate shrugged.
"Ah! Where am I?!" the Knight shrieked. "Oh, I'm on Crux Prime! But how did I know that?! And why am I screaming?!"
"Easy, you're just Maelstrom-infected." Rover told him.
"What?!" the Sentinel screamed some more. "Maelstrom-infected?! Then why do I still have free will?! And who are you?!"
"I'm Cheerful Power Rover." Rover said. "You can just call me Rover for short."
"Hi Rover for short!" the Sentinel shouted some more. "I'm Master Blade9, but you can call me Blade! And why am I still shouting?!"
Rover clamped his hand over Blade's mouth. "I'll my hand away once you stop shouting." he said.
Blade was quiet, so Rover took his hand away. "You used to be a Sentinel Knight, and I accidentally infected you." Rover informed him.
"You did? Oh, okay." Blade sure was taking this easily.
"So, um, these are my friends, Cyclone and Kate." Rover gestured to them.
"Hi!" Blade greeted them. But then his face darkened. "Hold on a minute, you said I was infected? By you?"
"And that's supposed to be bad." Blade said, not sounding so happy anymore. He looked at himself. "You did this."
"Uh, sort of." Rover said, taking a step backwards.
"AAAaargh!" Blade launched himself at Rover, tackling him. The two Stromlings wrestled on the ground, but Cyclone jumped in, pulling them apart.
"Stop! What we're trying to do is get us all uninfected!" Cyclone shouted at Blade, who was squirming under Cyclone grasp, trying to lunge at Rover. "You hear me?!"
Blade suddenly stopped struggling. "Wait, where's my stuff, everything I collected?" he asked, looking around.
"Probably in your backpack." Cyclone told him.
"I still have my backpack?!" Blade asked, pleasure returning to his voice. He looked behind him, and grinned when he caught sight of his familiar purple backpack. Cyclone let go of him, and Blade unstrapped his backpack and instantly was rummaging through it, glad to see his familiar things.
"So, we're trying to get uninfected." Cyclone said. "I'm from Avant Gardens, by the way. Kate is too."
"How'd you get all the way here?" Blade asked, complying.
"Well, it's a long story." Cyclone then went on to tell Blade all that had happened, how they got there, and everything.
Blade stared at him, open mouthed, till the end of the story. "Wow." was all he said.
"So now we're trying to get to Nexus Tower. Hopefully, once we're there, the faction leaders can disinfect us." Cyclone stated.
"Well, I don't want to be like this." Blade said, gesturing to his Stromling appearance. "So, what are we waiting for? Let's go to Nexus Tower! I know the way!"
And soon, Cyclone and Blade on one horse, and Rover and Kate on the other two, they rode off in the direction of Nexus Tower.
The four minifigures rode on into the darkness as night fell. However, instead of taking a break and sleeping for the night, Blade managed to persuade his friends to keep going.
As they rode on, Cyclone's, Blade's, Rover's, and Kate's positions on the horses were switched around a couple of times so that one of them could sleep. Currently, Kate and Cyclone were seated on one horse, with Kate seated at the back, asleep, leaning against Cyclone. Blade and Rover rode the other horses ahead, on the lookout for any Nexus Force scouts and leading the way to Nexus Tower.
"Blade?" Cyclone called. "We're all very tired, and it's late. Shouldn't we take a break?"
"I'm not tired!" Blade answered. "And we have to keep moving. Besides, with the cover of night, we can move around freely without the worry of being caught by any scouts."
A couple bushes started rustling.
"Uhhh...." Blade stammered.
"Well, what was THAT?" Rover asked, gesturing the wildly shaking bushes.
A Maelstrom infected rabbit jumped out of the bush and ran across the path to the other side.
"Awww, scared of a little rabbit?" Blade teased.
Rover and Cyclone rolled their eyes, and continued riding after Blade.
They rode throughout the night until it was dawn. Morning mist floated around, making it hard to view anything farther than 10 feet away.
By now Cyclone, Blade, and Kate were wide awake, with Rover snoring on the back of Cyclone's horse.
"According to this map," Blade was saying as he studied a map of Crux Prime. "We've already made it past the mountain ranges, and now we'll be going through flatlands all the way to Nexus Tower."
"Yay! How soon do you think it'll be till we get there?" Cyclone asked.
"I'd estimate an hour on these horses." Blade said. He pressed his feet against the horse's sides, but it didn't move. "Come'on horsie, move it."
The horse toppled over, asleep, sprawling Blade on the ground.
"See? These horse's need rest." Cyclone said, as he and Kate dismounted and lifted the sleeping Rover off his horse. Promptly, both horses toppled over.
"Don't horses sleep standing up?" Kate asked as she eyed the sleeping horses lying on the ground.
"Yeah, but these guys must be really tired to just fall over like that." Cyclone replied.
So they woke up Rover, and had breakfast. By the time the horses were awake again, and their little meal was over, the mists had parted slightly, letting the dark gloomy Crux Prime sky reappear. What they could also see, not so far away, was a huge tower. Nexus Tower.
They could also see long rows and rows of Nexus Force tanks, recruits, and aircraft, all lined up, and ready to smash any Maelstrom that attempted to enter.
"Okay, we got to Nexus Tower," Rover said, summing up the situation. "But how do get inside Nexus Tower?"
"No idea. Those tanks look mean, but those recruits seem easy to smash." Cyclone pointed out.
"What?! Smash them? That's bricky!" Blade exclaimed.
Cyclone sighed, realizing what he had just experienced. "Well, not that I want to scare you, but as you continue living as a Stromling, it is inevitable that you will experience feelings to smash or infect anything, or anyone. As you start out, it's really easy to ignore. But as you get it more and more often, it gets harder to fight."
Blade shivered. "Well, I'll be on the lookout for any weird urges."
"But how are we going to get into Nexus Tower?" Rover asked again. "Those guys aren't going to let us inside like this."
Kate hadn't really been listening to the conversation until now. A plan popped into her head. It was risky, and there was a large chance that it would fail, or end with them being smashed. But it was better than anything else.
"Hey, guys? I have an idea." she said.
10 minutes later, a Nexus Force jet smashed through a wall of Nexus Tower. Alarms started blaring.
"Ow, did we have to take a jet?" a Rover dressed in Rank Two Sentinel Space Ranger gear moaned as he toppled out of the jet, rubbing his head.
"Quick, before they get suspicious." Kate whispered at him. Like Rover, she was wearing faction gear which covered her face, also Sentinel Space Ranger gear, this time Rank One. The last thing she wanted was being discovered to be a Stromling.
Cyclone and Blade climbed out of the smoking cockpit, dressed in Space Ranger Rank Three gear, and Sentinel Knight Rank Two gear respectively, all supplied by Master Blade9.
"You see, being a collector, I stocked up on all the Sentinel gear I could get." Blade was saying. "I'm glad it's coming in handy."
Kate was already running towards a closet. She swung the door open, and motioned for the rest to join her. They all squeezed into the closet and closed the door, just as a bunch of Paradox Space Marauders holding Wormholers burst into the area, aiming their Wormholers at the smoking jet.
"Are you sure you placed the fake pilots correctly?" Kate hissed at Blade.
"Yeah, I just pretty much dumped my spare gear in the cockpit seats. As requested, I gave them a few burns." Blade replied. Before they had stolen the jet, Blade had torched a few of his gear. When they stole the aircraft, they had dumped the burnt gear on the seats, to make it look like the pilots had smashed in the crash.
The reason that they had taken the jet on a crash course through the upper floors of Nexus Tower, was because of the extreme scanners on the ground floor, which could pick up even the faint Maelstrom traces of anyone who walked through the tower's front doors. That was why they had taken a shortcut through the Nexus Force jet to the top of the tower, where they could bypass the terrible Maelstrom scanners at the first floor.
Through the keyhole, Cyclone eyed the Paradoxers who examined the wreck. One of them pulled out a radio, and signalled for wrecking crews to come and dispose of the wreck. A few Assembly Engineers arrived, and after placing a force field over the huge hole, began rebuilding the wall.
Cyclone, Kate, Rover, and Blade remained in the closet for several hours. After the wall was finally rebuilt, and the wrecking crews had dragged the jet away, Cyclone cautiously opened the door, and after looking around to make sure the coast was clear, darted out towards the hall, followed by his friends.
They looked around, getting used to their surroundings. Their crash area had been a garden, which luckily had been empty. The only living things that greeted them were a few flowers and trees.
"Let's go." Rover said, and they ran out of the garden towards the main plaza for that floor. Instantly they were overwhelmed by hundreds if not thousands or minifigures. They had stumbled into a party.
Several frogs were hopping along the ground, and a Paradox Shinobi stood in the center of the enormous crowd. Minifigs appeared through the doorways, and a few teleported over. The whole area was crowded, and several minifigures were trapped at the stairs and elevators.
A few people seemed to be using the gathering as a marketplace. "Selling Red Parrot for 500,000!" a minifig dressed in Mosaic Jester Gear with Explorien Bot Pants and a Bat Lord Helm.
Cyclone felt like smashing the annoying recruit, but he held himself back. Blade however, was intrigued. "I've always wanted a Red Parrot! I need it for my collection!" he exclaimed, and Cyclone could imagine the huge smile on his face behind his helmet.
Before Cyclone could stop him, Blade had ran over to the guy and was paying him 500,000 coins for his Red Parrot. Less than a minute later, Blade walked back, cradling a cawing Red Parrot in his arms, before stuffing the creature in his backpack.
"Come on, we can't have any more distractions." Cyclone hissed. "So where are the faction leaders supposed to be?"
Blade was too busy being excited over his parrot to say anything. Rover answered, "I dunno, but I think they have offices near the top floor. Exactly which floor, and which location, I have no idea."
"Well, aren't we near the top floor?" Cyclone asked. "It seemed like that when we crashed."
"Hey, you're right. We are." Rover realized. "So where are the faction leaders?"
"I know! I'll ask!" Blade said. He ran over to the guy who was selling the parrot, who was now selling a Bat Lord Shield to another guy. "Hi again! Where are the faction leaders' offices?"
"Up two floors, and I think the one you want has an office towards the left." the seller informed him. "Anyways, I have more parrots. Want ‘em?"
Cyclone sent a warning look at Blade. Blade sighed, and muttered, "I'll have to pass. Maybe another time. Thanks for the info." He trudged back to his friends, before shrieking at Cyclone, "I have millions of coins! I could have completed by collections!"
Cyclone rolled his eyes, and Rover led them to an empty elevator. They entered, and went up two floors. They then followed Blade towards a sign labelled, "Faction Leaders' offices" and went left. A lone door stood there.
"Well, this is it." Cyclone said. He pushed open the door. But what they didn't notice was the Sentinel logo on the door, and underneath it, it read, "Office of the Great Duke Exeter, leader of the Sentinel Faction".
The office was empty. Cyclone stopped in his tracks at the cluttered desk covered in papers and stuff. The blue and yellow chair behind it was unoccupied, but what made more of a shock to him than the lack of a faction leader, was the eagle in the Sentinel Logo that was embroidered into the leather backrest of the chair.
"Uh oh." Cyclone stuttered. "I think this is-"
"-Duke Exeter's office." Blade cut him off.
Cyclone exchanged glances with Rover, Kate, and Blade. They all had the same look in their eyes.
The four of them screamed and ran out of the room. The last thing they wanted was a confrontation with Duke Exeter, leader of the Sentinel Faction, ready to smash any Stromling, anytime.
"Why can't they put markers on their doors?" Rover asked once they were pretty far away from Duke's office.
"Actually, we do." a voice said.
They whirled around and found Duke Exeter staring at them.
"Uhh...." Cyclone stammered.
"Well, if you were looking for me, you've found me, soldiers." Exeter said with a grin.
"So, anything to say to me?"
"I'll take that as a no." Duke said, before striding to his office. He smirked at them, and went into his office.
"Phew, that was close." Kate said, slumping against the wall.
"Uhh...." was all Cyclone said.
"Cut it out!" Kate shrieked, slapping his helmet.
"Huhh....?" Cyclone said, snapping out of his ‘I'm scared that Duke Exeter will smash me' trance.
"He's gone, stop ‘Uhh....'ing!" Kate shouted at him.
"Oh, good. Yay." Cyclone replied, leaning on the wall.
Rover and Blade snickered.
"So the doors do have markers," Rover said, staring at a door with the green Venture League logo on it. "See?"
"Well how was I supposed to know that?!" Cyclone exclaimed. "I thought we wanted to get uninfected!"
"We do." Blade said.
Cyclone glared at him. "Well why don't you choose the next door?"
Kate was standing in front of one with the Paradox logo on it. "I'm guessing this one's Vanda Darkflame's." she called to them.
"Can't we do Overbuild?" Cyclone asked.
"For what reason?! He'll probably just smash us and build us into spare pieces for his robot dog!"
Cyclone rolled his eyes. "Fine. Now why don't we open this door now?"
They opened the door.
Vanda Darkflame said reclined in her comfy leather chair, her boots propped up on the desk. It had been a long day of working in the research center, trying to find new ways to harness the power of the Maelstrom. She had just about to doze off, when her door swung open, revealing four Sentinels.
Vanda quickly got her feet off the table and rummaged all her stuff into piles to make the desk look more presentable. All that she accomplished was spreading her papers everywhere. Gritting her teeth, she looked up, and stared at the three Space Rangers and Knight standing there. "If you're looking for Mr. Exeter, you've come to the wrong place." she told them.
"Um, actually, we meant to come to you." the Rank Three Space Ranger said. His voice was deep and scratchy, probably because of the large helmet he wore. But still, it was disturbing, almost.... Stromling-like.
"Well, then, what can I do for you?" Vanda asked, resting her hands on the table.
"Well, uhh...." the Rank Three stuttered, then the Rank One Space Ranger kicked him. "Ow. Well, please don't smash us when we take off our helmets. They're very stuffy."
Vanda nodded, but eyed them suspiciously.
The Rank Three took off his helmet, revealing....
…. the head of a Stromling.
Vanda gripped her katanas, but remembered what he had asked. The Stromling seemed familiar, though, as if she had seen him before. "Okay then," she said. "So, who are you?"
"Well, I'm Gallant Strong Cyclone, and these are my friends and companions, Kate, Cheerful Power Rover, and Master Blade9." Cyclone said, introducing them.
Vanda's jaw dropped, and she motioned for her guests to sit down. "You're Gallant Strong Cyclone?" she asked incredulously.
"Um, uhh.... yes?" Cyclone asked, hoping dearly that the Paradox Faction leader was not about to smash him.
Vanda opened a laptop on her desk, and began doing some research. "Do you have any other names, Kate?" she asked the Rank One Space Ranger.
"Not that I know of," Kate answered her. "That's the only name I can remember I had."
Cyclone shifted uncomfortably on his chair. He had no idea what had surprised Vanda Darkflame so much about his name. His confusion only grew, when Vanda picked up a radio, and said into it, "Meyer Muckrake? Hi, could you track down a Rank Three Space Marauder by the name of, Gallant Strong Cyclone for me? I'd like to see him, and another, a Sentinel Knight, named Master Blade9 in my office. Thanks." She placed the radio down.
"Um, I didn't understand any of that." Cyclone stammered. "Blade and I are right here." he gestured to himself and Blade.
"You'll see soon." Vanda said, as someone knocked on the door. She stood up to answer it, and a Paradox guard stepped in. "Thanks Meyer." Vanda said, and then two familiar minifigs entered the room.
Four minifgs screamed. Six panicked, and one tried to get the rest to calm down.
The four minifigs screaming we Cyclone, Blade, and the other two who had just entered. The six panicking were also them, Kate, and Rover. And the one trying to calm them down was Vanda.
"Stop screaming, this is driving me crazy." Vanda grabbed some voice-stoppers from her desk and strapped them to the screaming minifigs' mouths. The room was silent.
Cyclone, unable to scream, stared in horror at one of the two minifigs who had just entered. It was like looking in a mirror. The Space Marauder who he was staring at was himself, the same minifig who he was from his dreams.
Blade and his double also seemed to be having the same horrific thoughts. Unlike Cyclone, Kate, and Rover, Blade hadn't had any sleep during the whole time they had infected him and brought him with them.
The door opened again, and this time Doctor Overbuild, mechanical arms and all, strode in. "You asked for me, Ms. Darkflame?" the Doc said, when he noticed four Stromlings standing there. "Oh, save imagination! There are Stromlings here!"
"Nothing to worry about, Albert." Vanda said. "The only thing I want now is an explanation." she explained, gesturing to the two pairs of double minifigs staring at each other.
"Well, this could be interesting." Overbuild said. "Two of these minifigures are exact copies of the other two, just as Stromlings."
"What are you thinking, Doc?" Vanda asked.
Overbuild didn't say anything for a few seconds. When he finally did speak, he said only three words. "To the lab."
The research lab was small, but not crowded. When Vanda and Overbuild led them into the lab, it was empty of any other minifigs.
While Vanda and Overbuild stood over at the center computer console, working on stuff and confiding secretly to each other, Kate, who was seated on a bench with everyone else, leaned over to Cyclone the Stromling's ear. "I have to tell you something." she whispered.
Cyclone, no longer with the voice-stopper in his mouth, replied, "What is it?"
Kate looked like she was deep in thought. Finally, she said, "This happened to me too."
"Seeing myself." Kate stated. "It was at Butterscorch's platform, remember?"
Cyclone remembered the incident exactly. "Yes, but how?"
"You know how we've been having these realistic dreams?" she asked. Cyclone nodded. "Well, I think those are actually what we have been doing, just not as Stromlings."
"So you're saying that whenever someone gets infected, another copy of him or herself reappears, not as a Stromling? And we see what our doubles are doing through our dreams?" Cyclone asked, trying to understand. "If so, then how come there are still people who were infected, and then never seen from again? And Rover said he doesn't have dreams."
"That's right." Rover commented.
"So, at Butterscorch's platform, I saw my double," Kate told him. "She was just like how I saw myself in my dreams, as a Sentinel Samurai. She looked just like how I did, before I was infected."
Cyclone understood completely. He now knew why Kate had been so quiet recently. He turned and saw Blade and his non-Stromling self chatting with each other. They both had exact copies of their backpacks, meaning exact copies of everything in them, rares, gems, and all, and Cyclone realized why Blade's eyes seemed to be popping out. Cyclone smiled, but noticed his own double sitting there, staring off into space. He frowned.
Vanda and Overbuild walked over to them. "Ahem, Albert and I have found an explanation."
All eyes turned to the two faction leaders.
"Doc, I'm not a scientist, so why don't you explain?" Vanda said. Overbuild shrugged.
"If you say so," Overbuild said. "So, it turns out that when Maelstrom interact with a strong Imagination presence, a reaction takes effect which causes-"
"Oh, stop. They're not understanding all your science talk." Vanda said, noticing the blank looks of the six minifigures seated in front of her. "I'll do the talking. So, Doc and I have discovered, with some testing, that a being with a strong imagination spark can do something that none of us have ever imagined possible." She paused to take a deep breath. "You know how when you smash, your Imagination spark will rebuild you in a safe location? Well, as I was saying before, if someone with a strong imagination spark is about to be infected by Maelstrom, that person's imagination spark will create a copy of him or herself, and rebuild.
"Cyclone and Blade, you both obviously have strong imagination sparks, because you both have copies of yourselves." Vanda said. "We are still trying to track down Kate's and Rover's doubles."
"Well, can you uninfect us?" Stromling Cyclone asked.
Vanda glanced at Overbuild. "We could, under normal circumstances, yes, uninfect you, but we can't stop there. But since you are actually now two different people, we'll need to merge you and Blade with your normal selves afterward. As to how we do that, Albert is currently searching for a solution. After all, we can't have two of you, can we?"
Rover spoke up. "Wait a second. Cyclone and Kate have kept saying that they've been having dreams of themselves as their non-infected versions. So now we know that they have strong imagination sparks. But what about me?" he asked. "I haven't been having any dreams."
Vanda looked thoughtful. "Then that means that you've got a normal Imagination Spark, which also means you don't have a double. Lucky you."
"Well then, all of you, we'll need to get you all uninfected." Overbuild said, walking towards the door, leading Kate, Rover, infected Cyclone, and infected Blade with him.
The uninfection had been successful. But for Cyclone and Blade, the process for them was far from over.
Now, two uninfected Cyclones, two uninfected Blades, one uninfected Rover, and one uninfected Kate stood watching Overbuild and Vanda working on a large device.
"What do you think it is?" Rover asked Cyclone.
"I'm not sure." Cyclone answered. "From the looks of it, I'd guess a teleportation machine, but different."
Rover shrugged, and watched as Overbuild typed in some random numbers on the machine's display screen. After he finished, a large purple portal appeared out of nowhere in front of the device. He turned to Cyclone, Blade, and their copies, saying, "Okay, this is a teleportation machine. That purple thing is a portal. By walking into it, it will merge yourselves together, if it works."
"Blade and Blade, you go first." Vanda said. Blade and his double both stepped into the portal, vanishing. Vanda and Albert viewed their progress through the display screen, and five seconds later, only one Blade stepped out.
Blade walked dizzily over to them. "Did it work?" he asked weakly.
Vanda checked the screen again, and then announced, "It worked. Now Cyclones, it's your turn."
Cyclone and his double both stepped into the portal. Instantly Cyclone was blinded by colorful light, and he could feel memories flooding into his head. He felt whole again, and realized that he was merged back into one person. A white light shone ahead, and Cyclone instinctively walked towards it. No sooner had he stepped into the light, when he found himself back in the room. He blinked, and suddenly Rover, Kate, and Blade were all hugging him.
"Well, did it work?" he called to Vanda.
Vanda and Overbuild were both smiling. "It worked." she said.
Cyclone felt like cheering. Now he and his friends were no longer infected. He was flooded with memories of his double, but he would be able to sort them out later. He was feeling ecstatic.
After having a little celebration, Vanda reminded them, "In case you hadn't forgotten, we're still looking for Kate's double. As we said earlier, we can't have two of the same people running around."
Even though Cyclone and his friends had succeeded in their mission, Cyclone knew that their time together wasn't ending anytime soon. But a strange feeling came over him, and Cyclone realized he was looking forwards to another adventure. With a grin, Cyclone realized that their adventures together were far from over.
Just that's in a different story.