"In The Family Way" by NobodyAtAll

Hey, it’s Cal again.

It’s been a couple more days. Me and Marley have been running all over Creation, literally, recruiting more people into the ChaotiX.

Bangar happily agreed to join. He’s been bragging to the other Beastmen about getting his ass kicked by the Champion of the Universe, and on Beastworld, beating someone up until they agree to do as you say is a regular part of the hiring process.

Iku the Pekka also agreed to join, with the caveat that we do not recruit any Nyah.

I said that I can’t make that promise, and that I expect all of my teammates to be civil with each other, at the very least, regardless of species.

He begrudgingly accepted that, but I think that it’s mostly because we don’t have any Nyah on the team, and he’s probably hoping that won’t change.

And Dorz, Gyll’s brother, also agreed to join. He knows that there are several pairs of brothers on the team, has heard all about Gyll’s work with us from his brother, and can’t wait to work with Gyll in the field.

When there isn’t an Invasion or anything like that going on, Gyll’s usually working to save fluffies from drowning.

Or recovering the bodies of those who he couldn’t save in time.

Since all of the IntergalactiX are seasoned warriors, they won’t need us to train them.

And with these new recruits, hopefully we’ll find a lead regarding the Stones of Octavo. Edward’s already asked Chrysus about them. And while Chrysus had never heard of them before, Edward passed on something to me that Chrysus probably didn’t realize the significance of.

See, according to my pal Eddy, Chrysus said that if one of the Stones of Octavo is on Magicca, it probably won’t be known by that name.

So I reasoned that might also be the case for the planets on our side of the universe. It’s possible that one of our new recruits’ homeworlds might have some kind of mythical artifact that is actually a Stone of Octavo.

I mean, the Saingans had no idea that their sacred Stone of Kingship was actually a fragment of the Sphere of Destruction.

So there’s a precedent for my theory.

What are the odds that someone’s been using one of those things as a paperweight and didn’t realize it?

Considering the fact that touching one of those things barehanded almost killed me, and would definitely kill anyone else?

Not very high.

Yet Gooroo was able to build a device that could safely harness their power. Who says he was the first one to do so? Perhaps it’s not the Stones that are known under a different name, but whatever’s being used to contain them.

It’s a damn shame that both of the Vulcan Cannons were destroyed. Otherwise, the Nerd Squad could have reverse engineered them, right?

Probably.

Whoever Gooroo paid to make those things is dead. All their notes, their lab, destroyed too, according to Voilet and Bleu.

Gooroo may have been trying to eliminate one of the biggest threats to the universe, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was a ruthless bastard.

Not entirely a villain, but not exactly a hero either.


Today, me and Marley are spending the day at home. After running around the universe, we needed a day off.

We’ve got plenty more people to interview. I’m thinking of asking Zhala Jr., but he’s busy trying to teach his fellow dinotites to stop being human-hating idiots, so he might not have enough free time.

Judy’s home too. Deston and Annette are celebrating their anniversary on the Outer Plane of Elysium, so no magic lessons.

Sorcière, Merlin and Ridcully are staying at Pierre’s cabin while Deston’s out, and Pierre is acting leader of the Cabal until Deston gets back.

Doc doesn’t mind, it’s not like he’s got a whole lot better to do.

Me and Marley sit on deckchairs on my balcony, sharing an atomica together.

My deckchair is rainbow-colored.

“So, Mar. Whaddya think of our new hires?”

Marley levitates the atomica into his mouth.

“Mawwey fink dey am gunna fit in jus fine.”

Baby Quin toddles out the open door, onto the balcony.

Well, Toddler Quin, he’s not exactly a baby anymore, he’s about three. Y’know what? I’m just gonna say Young Quin. He’s wearing dungarees, like many toddlers are known to do.

Calvin Korkea Day is coming up, by the way. I can’t believe it’s almost been four years.

Or that I have a day named after me.

Jeremy’s thinking about renaming a street after me too, and I said that’s fine, as long as it’s not Bang Street.

I don’t want my name associated with that.

Maybe the street we fought Floris and Umbra Two in?

Fun fact: Bang Street’s actual name is Bangue Street. It’s named after Jacques Bangue, the French explorer who discovered the land the city was built on.

Whether he went Up There or Down There, he’s probably not happy about what goes on in the street named after him.

He was a bit of a hardcore fundamentalist Christian, apparently. So he wouldn’t be all too fond of prostitution.

Which is funny, because Jesus was, like, totes besties with a hooker.

Jacques Bangue wouldn’t have been the first Christian to be a massive hypocrite, Niv.

I’d just like to say that one of my prior Champions was a devout Christian, and a good, albeit flawed man. A bit too devout, to be honest. He returned the Sword of Kings to Fairy Hollow not long after taking it up, because he thought that I was trying to damn his soul to Hell. I couldn’t convince him that I just wanted to help him, it only made him even more suspicious of me.

Wait, which Champion was this? One of the Champions who helped us kick Dehak out of my head?

No, Cal. He was the only one who didn’t answer my summons. The poor man still doesn’t trust me, even after meeting his fellows Up There. When I summoned the Champions, he thought that I was trying to lure him out of Heaven to trap him in Hell. I think the fact that most of my Champions, like Sigurd, worshipped pagan gods did nothing to ease his suspicions.

What a dumbass. You’re way too nice to do something like THAT, Fi.

Thank you, Niv.

I’m with Niv on this, Fi. You haven’t tried to damn my soul a single time.

But I’ve got no problem with religion, for the record.

I just have a problem with people using their religion as an excuse to be an asshole. There’s people like that in every faith.

Or people using their lack of religion as an excuse to be an asshole.

Being militantly atheist really isn’t any better than being militantly religious.

Horseshoe theory, bitches.

My young son beams up at me.

“Da!”

“Woah, hey!”

I pick him up.

“Always happy to see ya, buddy, but Daddy’s having a little smoky-smoke, so how about we get you back inside.”

“Take yu time, daddeh. Mawwey wiww sabe yu a puff.”

So I carry Young Quin inside.

I can hear Judy in the bathroom, changing Roxie’s diaper, and I see the rest of our fluffies on the couch, watching the newest Captain Fluffy episode together.

“He am owt of wine, but he am wite.”

Caelum’s here too. Seth’s up on the Snowflake, as Zephyr puts the finishing touches on the concert they’ve been planning for a while.

Incidentally, I should point out that Caelum is expecting again. Seth was totally on board with letting Marley and Caelum have another litter.

Though we both hope that none of the foals are Omega Classes. We’re expecting at least one X-Positive foal.

And Piccolo and Snowball will be getting another litter again afterwards. They said that they were okay with Marley and Caelum going first this time.

It’s the same deal: both couples pick one foal to keep.

What with our apartment becoming a house of magic, I think our saferoom will be big enough to house the two new arrivals.

I place Young Quin in a playpen, taking a moment to ruffle his hair.

“Daddy’s got enough to worry about without you getting into trouble. But don’t you worry, Quin.”

I give him a wink.

“When you’re old enough to take that dampening bracelet off, Daddy will teach you how to get out of trouble.”

He’s gonna need it. Being an Omega Class is a trouble magnet.

Totally worth it, though.

Judy walks in, carrying Roxie, and puts her in the playpen too. While Roxie’s got my brown hair, she’s got her mother’s green eyes.

“I think Quin and Roxie will be rather popular, Cal. Their father’s a superhero and the strongest man alive, their mother’s a wizard, Quin’s future self lives downstairs, their uncle is a robot, and they both have superpowers too.”

She’s referring to Alpha. And there’s been a development in his family too.

They have last names now.

Guess what their surname is. Go on.

Here’s a hint, dear readers: it rhymes with Borbea.

Yeah.

At this point, me and Alpha are rather brotherly.

He’s been helping me get through what happened to Scott, too.

“Jude, if they aren’t the most popular kids in school, I’ll eat Niv’s imaginary hat.”

You’ve used that one already, Cal. And if ANYONE’S going to eat my imaginary hat, it’s going to be ME. Just so we’re clear.

“I’m still not used to that, Cal. I was surprised when I found out that Niv exists, I don’t know how to feel about him taking control of your body.”

“But we’ve got an arrangement. He’s not gonna pull a Hank Evans on you.”

“Who?”

“From Me, Myself & Irene, Jude. You know, that movie about Jim Carrey having a split personality.”

I hear Piccolo chime in from the couch.

“Jim Cawwey am cwazy enuff wif wun pew-sun-awwy-tee.”

Marley waddles in from the balcony.

“He nu am a bad Dok-tow Woh-butt-nik, foh. Daddeh?”

“Yeah, Mar?”

Marley grins sheepishly.

“Mawwey ass-ih-dent-awwy da whowe ah-tommeh-kuh.

I sigh.

“Mar?”

“Yus?”

“You need to get a job, so you can finally put money in the meme jar.”


Meanwhile, on Lumix, Xanitas makes his way through the streets of Lalum City, solo.

Someone called the dojo about a matter requiring a martial artist, and Luxi reasoned that this would be an excellent opportunity for Xanitas to get some hands-on experience.

Luxi himself is currently helping Xuri, who is pinned to the ground by his katchinium bands.

Again.

Yeah, that happens to Xuri a lot.

Xanitas follows the directions Luxi was given, eventually stopping outside a bar. He glances up at the neon sign.

It’s written in a language not commonly spoken on Earth, but translated into English, it says:

THE DRUNKEN ZARU

Yes, it’s a Saingan bar.

Xanitas enters, seeing Saingan men and women getting drunk, and, like any situation in which Saingans and alcohol are in close proximity to each other, this means that a fight could start at any time.

Xanitas has never been inside this bar before.

The bartender, an older Saingan man with a mustache, gives Xanitas a look.

“What can I do ya for?”

“Um, I was told that someone here needs a martial artist.”

Another man calls from a nearby table.

“Right here, bro.”

Xanitas turns, seeing someone sitting at a table by himself, who appears to be an ordinary human tourist, wearing a tall hat and tacky sunglasses, and apparently a lot of spray-on tan, gesturing for him to sit down.

When Xanitas does so, the “tourist” smiles at him. Up close, Xanitas notices the scars the “tourist” has on his face.

“I’ve been looking for you for a long time… Mokoto. Please, let me buy you a drink. Whaddya want?”

“I, uh, don’t really drink alcohol.”

The “tourist” gasps, and everyone else in the bar starts giving Xanitas odd looks.

You don’t drink alcohol?!? By the Great Ape, these blue know-it-alls really messed you up bad, Mokoto.”

“I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else. My name is Xanitas. Or Xan, for short. I know who you are, though. You’ve been hanging around outside the dojo, and checking my butt out.”

“It’s not your butt I’ve been looking at. What happened to your tail, Mokoto? Did that old blue know-it-all take it away?”

“I just said that my name is Xanitas. Look, what’s this about? Who are you, and why do you keep showing up at the dojo?”

“I told you. I’ve been looking for you. I couldn’t get in there, so I had to think outside the box to speak to you. Allow me to introduce myself…”

The “tourist” takes his hat and sunglasses off, shaking his shoulder length spiky blond hair out.

“My name is Trota, and I know this is going to be hard to believe, but… I’m your brother.”

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