Note: read… pretty much every story since “Rising Sun” first.
Hey, it’s me, Cal!
It’s been a while since Operation Rising Sun.
Things on Earth have been peaceful, and things on Magicca are… gradually going back to something resembling normal.
No sign of whatever was inside the Lamp of Desire, but we’re pretty sure it’s out of our enemies’ reach.
Me and Niv got our driver’s licenses, and we’re having Val build cars for us.
If our apartment doesn’t stop getting bigger on the inside, we might be able to put a garage in there.
We’re still hunting for our enemies on both sides, and questioning those we captured during the battle.
Umbra’s as grouchy as ever, Deedee is being as unhelpful as possible, and Shaun seems to be the only one of the three who actually regrets his actions.
Yeah, and I would know if he’s being a sussy baka.
If only Umbra was as remorseful as Shaun is.
Fi, I’m not even sure that Umby can feel remorse at all.
Yeah, a lot of people think I’m nuts for trying to redeem Umbra.
But let’s be real here, I ain’t gotta lotta options.
We don’t have a way to make sure that Umbra stays down. Death is just a setback to him, as long as the Devourer’s around.
We might have a way to deal with Deedee for good, but I can’t say anything definitive yet.
And I don’t want to fall into the endless cycle of “Umbra breaks out, I put him back” for the rest of my life.
I’m not expecting to make friends with him. But at the very least, my goal is to make peace with him, so if we can’t be friends, we can still not be enemies.
He’s a walking talking lesson on what happens when you just can’t let go of a grudge.
And honestly, the worse thing he ever did to me didn’t even actually happen.
You know, incinerating Pierre.
I told Umbra it was actually a Remote Body, and his exact words were “I fucking called it, now Dehak owes me five gold drakes.”
So he did figure it out.
We’re also still questioning Harvey and Necrosis.
Harvey seems just as remorseful as Shaun. He’s had a lot of time to think about everything he did, but he’s still too scared of Dehak to say a lot about him.
He knows that Dehak isn’t as invincible as the big rotten bastard would like people to believe, but if Dehak corners Harvey, Harv’s a dead man.
So he’s staying in our custody as long as Dehak’s still around. If we can somehow defeat Dehak, and make sure he stays defeated? Then we can talk about parole.
If Dehak somehow makes it to Earth, I’d wager that killing Harvey is high on his to-do list.
Harvey knows things. He doesn’t know where the phylactery is, but he’s spent more time around Dehak than most do, and he’s picked things up, overheard things.
Most people who meet Dehak tend to come down with a terminal case of deathitis not long after. For a long time, people on Magicca thought that Dehak was just a scary story parents tell their kids.
Harvey is technically a victim of Dehak’s crimes too. Yeah, Harvey sent a lot of people to the gallows, but a lot of them were executed on Dehak’s orders. And he didn’t actually kill Lorik.
We’ve got a rough idea of how much of the blood on Harvey’s hands is his fault, and how much is Dehak’s fault.
It’s a tricky situation. Harvey isn’t entirely innocent, but he’s committed no crimes here on Earth, so we can’t just send him to prison.
And if we return him to Magicca, to face justice in Drakonia, he’ll be punished for the crimes he committed on Dehak’s orders too, which isn’t really fair.
Yeah, he went along with the puppet king scheme, but he was never really wearing the pants in the relationship. From the moment they met, he was being played.
He said that he was pretty much free to rule Drakonia how he saw fit, as long as it didn’t clash with Dehak’s agenda.
And Dehak didn’t tell him what the agenda was, so Harvey showed a surprising amount of restraint and self-preservation for a corrupt, illegitimate king.
Yeah, all that shit he did? That was nothing compared to the shit he didn’t do, because he wasn’t sure if Dehak would approve.
If Harvey really pissed Dehak off… well, even when trapped in his staff, Dehak was more powerful than Harvey.
And now that Dehak has a body again, the power gap has only gotten wider.
If we can get Harv to spill the undead beans before Dehak gets a chance to silence him…
We might be a step closer to winning this war.
So yeah, there’s pragmatic reasons to keep him alive and in our custody too.
Edward’s still training, Erdrick training alongside him, waiting for the next clue from Shannon.
I’m looking forward to seeing those two working together in the field.
It’ll be a nice change of pace from Erdrick always riding in Eddy’s bag, don’t you agree?
I think the readers will be happy to see Erdrick finally contribute, the next time those two are off on an adventure.
Marley has been supporting Erdrick every step of the way.
Oh yeah, Mar totally gets how pumped Erdrick’s feeling now. Mar felt the same way when he crossed Threshold X, and realized we’d be working together.
That’s not the only reason Marley’s so eager to see Erdrick hone his draconic powers, though. You might remember the other reason, dear readers.
I mean, it’s something I’ve already done with Eddy.
Much to Marley’s disappointment, it’s going to be a while before he can do it with Erdrick.
No, I’m not talking about that.
So get your minds out of the gutter, dear readers.
Erdrick isn’t really ready for the field yet, but I wasn’t ready when I started, several other ChaotiX members weren’t ready, shit turned out alright for us, and field experience might help him more in the long run.
There’s only so much you can learn in the classroom, even if said classroom is actually the inside of a big fuckin’ mountain filled with dragons.
Most of my prior Champions learned a lot on the fly. Poor Artie could barely hold a sword when we first met.
Artie? Oh wait, you mean King Arthur, not OUR Artie. Also, you called King Arthur ARTIE?
He insisted on it. Just as Sigurd insisted that I called him Sig, and Lincoln insisted that I called him Link.
So what did Charlemagne tell you to call him? Charlie? Chuck? Chucky? Chuckaroo?
No, just Charles.
Huh. I guess I’ve got a lot in common with my predecessors.
Maybe Fi has a type.
In a platonic sense, yes.
Even if it wasn’t in a platonic sense, you know I’m happily married.
Are you now imagining Judy walking in on Cal in bed with the Sword of Kings, dear readers?
No? Just me? Alright then, I guess I’M the pervert. Hooray.
Let’s just… let’s just move on.
Frost and Fireball’s respective training is coming along nicely, too. We’ve announced their membership, but I may have neglected to specify something when I explained what powers they have.
Okay, I totally did. The public assumed that Frost has cryokinesis and that Fireball has pyrokinesis, and I saw no need to correct them on that just yet.
I’m saving it for the right moment. As Chaos said, timing is everything.
Our ironic little duo has been working on some interesting combo moves together, and we might have some other ideas in the works.
Two more Oldman fluffies joined the team.
Lavender is training Nardos, one of her foals, who inherited her telekinesis, and Ivy’s working in the field, literally, with Floris, Herb and Ceres, in a squad that we are now calling the Green Thumbs.
It’s an ironic name, because only one of the squad members actually has thumbs.
They’re currently working in Haiti. When there isn’t a big battle, they’re usually working to enrich crops in third world nations.
I’ve had a few run-ins with warlords who tried to take those crops. It wasn’t really worth recapping. Fighting normos just isn’t fun, you know? It’s hardly a challenge. It feels more like busywork. And not even difficult busywork, just tedious.
Is this what abusers feel when they’re stomping on a herd of fluffies?
Probably not, they LOVE picking on the weak.
Up until I show up, then that “might makes right” mentality soars out the window.
After news of my “visits” to those warlords spread, the ChaotiX logo scares warlords as much as it scares fluffy abusers, so we usually put signs with our logo in places the Green Thumbs have done their thing, as a warning.
With the words “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT” in whatever the local lingo is.
It’s worked so far.
And Harry’s training is going great too. He’s got the basics of aerokinesis down pat, but he’s still undecided on the hang glider lessons.
At the moment, he’s learning how to do the razor wind thing.
Y’know, if he had gotten hydrokinesis instead, he could probably do all kinds of neat tricks behind the bar. I mean, alcoholic beverages do have water in them. Not that much, in Harry’s case, he’s not the kind of fraud who waters the drinks down.
But he’s also never really cared much for flair bartending. He thinks it’s unnecessarily showy, and belongs in the gaudy nightclubs which he looks down upon.
He did laugh at Dwayne juggling kegs, though.
We’ve also gotten some more recruits.
A couple of them are familiar faces: Nadia and Peter both finally made it official, as did Gaspode, who has gone from ChaotiX informant to full-blown ChaotiX member.
Billy, also known as Vidunder, is still on the fence.
But there’s a couple of new faces too.
Like Tapping of the Keyboard, a goblin from Dew’s clan. She’s working with the Nerd Squad, being a skilled programmer, and doesn’t mind us calling her Tapping for short.
And Symona Buchko, a teenage girl from Ukraine who developed the power of sonic screaming. She’s training with Danny and Ghost, because they have a similar power, and we gave her a universal translator, because she doesn’t actually speak English.
Her family is very proud of her, and she’s become good friends with Sasha.
He might look a bit intimidating, like most members of the Bortsov family, but put him near a kid and you’ll see that he’s really just a big teddy bear, unlike most members of the Bortsov family.
He’s like a literal shaved bear that loves people.
Symona’s also getting regular lessons, including English lessons, because our regular classes are a step up from her old school. Naturally, she’s got a blipper, so she hasn’t been seperated from all of her normo friends and family.
You completely forgot that we have regular classes, didn’t you? You can’t find a better history teacher than Victor! Pick a time period, he probably lived through it!
Yeah, or did you think that we ONLY teach kids how to use their powers?
We’re not training child soldiers, you know. We just wanna make sure that Symona can control her powers and uses them responsibly, and if she wants to work in the field when she’s old enough, it’s her call.
I’m still not okay with sending children and/or foals into the battlefield. We’re not the fucking X-Men.
But me and Marley are definitely training with Symona ASAP.
I wonder if Darklings are as vulnerable to sonics as Klyntar are…
The Intergalactic Faucheuse Foundation is still working with the Patrol to deal with unrepentant Ganglion members.
There haven’t been any more disappearing planets, but I’ve had like a dozen angry Tennebites try to kill me and Marley because they think we made their planet vanish. They call me the Godslayer now, because they still think the God of Destruction was actually a god, who just happened to look like a mecha.
The Tennebites have hated us since I killed their prince, they think I also killed their other prince, and now they think I destroyed their planet too, which, to be fair, I have threatened to do.
But I didn’t do it, and they won’t believe me. They chose not to believe me.
They’re masters of self-delusion, too. Give a Tennebite the choice between a meal prepared by the best non-Tennebite chef, and a meal prepared by the worst Tennebite chef, and the Tennebites will insist that the latter is the better meal, just because a Tennebite cooked it.
We just killed the ones who attacked us. None of them are as strong as Scha or Duwen were. I think Scha was the only one who knew how to make that stuff that let Duwen turn negative emotions into power, and the God of Destruction, the Sphere, and the Key were destroyed, so when Scha died, he took his race’s best weapons with him.
Man, he didn’t even trust his own kind, did he?
Not complaining, mind you, it made those would-be assassins from New Tenneb a lot easier to kill.
The best part was when Cal said “it’s Calvin time” and Cal’d all over those guys.
I did not say that, dear readers.
I wouldn’t waste a line that good on fucking Tennebites.
What’re they gonna do about it? Cry to the Patrol?
They aren’t in the Federation, they don’t give a damn about Federation law, so Federation law doesn’t apply to them. They’re literal outlaws. Killing them isn’t a crime under intergalactic law.
They’ve made it clear that they want nothing to do with the Federation, so why should they be protected by its laws?
That’s the thing about the law: no laws to bind you… means no laws to hide behind.
And killing non-Tennebites isn’t a crime under Tennebite law, so even-steven.
I’m pretty sure their laws forbid not killing non-Tennebites. There’s a clause for if those non-Tennebites are still useful, but as soon as they outlive their usefulness…
Those xenophobic masters of hypocrisy and self-delusion might be an endangered species now, but honestly, I won’t shed any tears if they go extinct.
Again, they wouldn’t shed any tears if everyone else went extinct. They wouldn’t be complaining if someone else’s planet disappeared.
And they built a mecha to exterminate everyone they hate, so can you really feel sorry for them? If it was humans on the brink of extinction, or fluffies, they’d just point and laugh!
I’m not making an active effort to render them extinct, but if they don’t stop trying to kill me and Mar, it’s gonna happen sooner or later!
You’d think that what happened to Tenneb would be a wake-up call for the survivors, but that would be expecting too much from Tennebites.
Hey, here’s an idea: why don’t we just tell them that DEHAK made their planet vanish? Then they might hunt him down FOR us.
And it’s TECHNICALLY true, right? I mean, we’re pretty sure that there’s a link between Dehak’s gross overuse of the Lamp of Desire and the disappearance of Tenneb.
You’re assuming that they’ll believe us, and I’m basically their Antichrist now, so they’d probably just think that I’m trying to save my own bacon.
And if they hear that Dehak hates me, they might name him an honorary Tennebite and pledge themselves to his cause of “fuck Calvin Korkea”.
Shit, they might make him their new King.
Dehak’s Octovirate of Darkness and the Tennebites, united by their unrelenting hatred of me.
There’s an unpleasant mental image.
Truly, a match made in space.
Or in Hell.
Definitely not Heaven.
Just in case, Deston’s going Down There frequently, talking to the guards, in case any of our late enemies suddenly go missing again.
Not counting the ones we killed again in the World Revolution, that’s… Vanessa, Scha, Duwen, those four dumbass Saingans who used to be in Trota’s Ganglion branch, and possibly Vulcanus too.
At the bare minimum.
You’d think that Umbra would have had Dehak wish back more villains from Oblivion, wouldn’t you?
But maybe Umbra just didn’t want to work with them again, and there’s plenty of villains Down There he hasn’t met yet.
There’s at least one evil blood mage at large who could summon them.
And at least one group of demonic rebels who would turn them, like they did to Hans and Deedee.
I don’t understand what those rebels gain from turning my dead enemies into demons and letting them break out of Hell for another round with me.
It’s probably part of some ridiculously convoluted scheme against their former Boss.
And there’s not a whole lot that we can do about it. We’ve got enough to worry about in the land of the living.
Yeah, until we actually have another demon on our hands, it’s not an actual problem.
And if we do have another demon on our hands…
Well, dear readers, you know that I have a lot of experience with the big red smelly bastards.
Right now, I’m at Valerie’s lab, with Marley and several ChaotiX members.
For reasons that will soon become apparent, I’m wearing nothing but a pair of boxers, all of my things on a nearby table.
No, not the ones with little fluffies on them.
This pair has our logo on them instead. They’re sold in stores.
Valerie gestures at a device on another table, with a glass tube, a large blob of a silver substance inside it.
“This is a revolutionary piece of technology, ladies and gentlemen. I dare say that it is one of my greatest works so far. As our leader, it’s only fitting that Cal gets the first one.”
Marley looks at the blob.
“Su am yu gunna make mowe of dem?”
“In due time, Marley. It’s not easy to produce, so it’ll be a while before we have more… units. Cal, are you ready?”
I nod eagerly.
So Valerie taps on her COMP, and the tube slides open.
“Just reach out and touch it, Cal.”
I do so, and the moment my hand touches the goo, it slithers up my arm, covering my whole body from the neck down in a shiny silver suit.
It’s not as cold as I expected.
I look myself over in a mirror which Valerie conveniently placed nearby, the others oohing and aahing.
You look like Argyrum from the neck down now, Cal.
Yeah, it’s not as snazzy as my familiar battle suit–
Just as I think that, the silver suit turns into my battle suit, COMP and all, and everyone gasps again.
“…Huh. Neat. It’s thought-controlled, Val?”
“That’s right, Cal. I call it the Endo-Klyn Suit. We’ve applied the knowledge gained from studying the Klyntar, and those samples of Argyrum’s mass recovered from Hans’ backup lab, and we combined that with our nanotechnology. Don’t worry, the suit is entirely under your control. It has its own AI, but when a member of the Faucheuse family programs an AI, it doesn’t turn on us.”
Marley grins up at Valerie, radiating excitement.
“Dis am sum nex wevew shit wite hewe!”
I crack a grin too.
“Damn right, Mar.”
Alright, I gotta test this out some more.
Let’s try street clothes.
The suit reforms, into a Protomen T-shirt, shorts with so many pockets, and Crocs.
I look down at my feet, suddenly having an amazing idea.
How about God’s shoes from that one episode of Married… with Children?
The Crocs turn into those golden shoes, with the custom fitted toes and socks sewn in.
I laugh, smiling at everyone and pointing at my gold-clad feet.
“I’ve wanted a pair of shoes like these since the first time I watched that episode.”
“Am a bit gaw-dee.”
“Gaudy? Mar, these are God’s shoes, show some respect.”
Scotty laughs, a tad nervously.
“This doesn’t leave this room, but He actually does have a pair of shoes like that. He told me in confidence that He’s going to be wearing them when Ed O’Neill arrives Up There.”
“Hilarious, he’ll love that. Okay, let’s try something else.”
I know: Marty McFly! First movie Marty McFly, that is.
The suit reforms a third time, into jeans with suspenders, a red T-shirt, white Nike sneakers with the red swoosh, a denim jacket, and a dark orange down vest.
“This is heavy.”
“I’m not that great…”
“Shush, Scott, you’re the best you’ve ever been. Let’s keep going, this is fun.”
Uh… how about a tourist outfit?
The suit reforms a fourth time, into a Hawaiian shirt, tan shorts, sandals, sunglasses and a big floppy straw hat.
“So it can do hats and glasses now too, Val?”
“Yes, Cal. We’ve made a lot of improvements in nanotech. In fact…”
“Why don’t you try changing into your armor?”
Wait, so it can do that too–
The suit reforms a fifth time, into my black and blue nano armor, the HUD appearing as the helmet forms.
I’m glad you like me so much, Cal.
Hey, it’s crowded ENOUGH in here!
How did you slip past US?
Calm down, everyone.
Er, sorry about that, didn’t mean to startle you. I should probably introduce myself. Hi, I’m the AI in your Endo-Klyn Suit.
Ah, yeah, that makes sense. So do you have a name?
Nope. Madam Valerie said it’s up to you to decide my name, Cal. Just, y’know, don’t choose something rude, please.
Don’t worry, I won’t.
Okay, gang, huddle around, it’s brainstorming time.
As Calvin and his headmates brainstorm a name for the new addition to the group, the rest of the ChaotiX members present look at their boss, completely zoned out.
Andre waves his hand in front of Calvin’s armor-clad face, eliciting no reaction.
“Always kinda gives me the creeps when he’s like this. I know why Cal does it now, but it’s still creepy.”
Bugsey pulls a monochrome armchair out of his pocket, and gently pushes Calvin into it.
“He might as well be comfy. It’s not so bad when he’s sitting down, right? Now it looks like he’s taking a nap. In armor. That Peter guy does that a lot, doesn’t he?”
Valerie places a big, flowery, floppy hat on Calvin’s head. Like her father, she just couldn’t resist.
“They’re probably trying to think up a good name for their new friend.”
Marley leaps up into his owner’s lap, but quickly changes his mind, because an armored lap is not very comfortable, leaping back down.
“Su, can a fwuffy weaw wunna dem soots?”
“In theory, yes, but that one’s the only one we have. I don’t know if we’ll be able to supply the entire ChaotiX with Endo-Klyn Suits, but not all of us use nano suits or nano armor, so I can’t say how many of us would want one. Cross that bridge when we reach it, I suppose. We need to have more suits before we can offer them to team members.”
“Mawwey caww dibs awn da nex wun.”
Konba dejectedly lowers his hand.
“He beat me by one second…”
Okay, is everyone in agreement? Let’s vote: aye or nay?
Wait, do WE get a SINGLE vote, or one vote for each loved one who’s a part of us?
You get ONE vote, Memories! Otherwise you win by default!
Then we say aye.
And you, our shiny new friend? Of course you get a vote.
Then it’s settled. From now on, you are the Metamorphic Intelligent Kickass Assistant.
Or, for short…
Thank you, Cal. I’ll wear it with pride. And I’ll do everything I can to help you be a better hero. If you feel like wearing a regular nano suit, or a regular battle suit, or even just regular clothes, I won’t go all yandere on you.
Alright, now-- wait, why am I sitting in an armchair now?
And who put this hat on me?
I discard the hat, looking up at Valerie.
“You did it, didn’t you.”
“The hat, yes. I couldn’t resist. So, can I assume that you’ve got a name for your new Endo-Klyn Suit?”
I laugh as I get back up, and with a thought, MIKA changes back into my battle suit.
“Yup, I named it-- him MIKA.”
“Very touching. I’ve also got some other equipment to supply you with. You’ll need a nanomachine chamber, to store MIKA in when you’re not wearing him, surplus nanomachine cartridges, and a new nano suit holder. Try to be careful with him, because we don’t have a lot of the cartridges right now. I’m meeting with Dr. Xala about the matter later.”
“Da soon-uw Mawwey git a soot wike dat, da bettah. Mawwey wiww camp owt-side in da Pwah-zah if Mawwey gutta. Hey, can Vaw put Wita in a Endu-Kwin Soot?”
“It’ll be trivial, Marley.”
Rita is the AI in Marley’s nano armor, remember?
Suzy showed us the new action figures of me and Mar in our nano armors the other day.
Hey, it’s not like MIKA outdates the merchandise.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from experimenting with new looks for your armor. The only limit is your imagination.
I pat my chest, feeling rather satisfied by my new acquisition.
“You know something, MIKA? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Meanwhile, on the coast of Italy, a herd of feral fluffies scavenges the beach, bravely risking going near the dreaded ocean in hopes of finding food left behind by humans, or any kinds of useful objects.
Well, the smarty is keeping his distance. He’s one of those smarties who thinks that the herd would fall apart in five small forevers without him, so if a job is dangerous, he’ll be the first to weasel out of it.
One mare spies a pile of seaweed, and waddles over to sample it.
“um num num num num”
As the mare chews her first mouthful of seaweed, she notices that the seaweed seems to be covering something.
It looks like a box.
“Hey! Hey, come take a wook at dis, speciaw fwend!”
The mare’s special friend waddles over with their foals, all weaned.
“Wut? Did yu fine gud nummies? Nu teww smawty, ow he gunna git fiwst num.”
“…Weww, yus, but mummah fink dewe am sumfin unda da nummies. Hewp mummah git da nummies awf, babbehs!”
The fluffy family eats and eats, gradually revealing the object the seaweed is concealing.
Sure enough, it’s a box. A box that looks ancient. It’s made of wood, but the wood has become so hard with age that it’s as tough as stone.
A cross is carved into the lid, with four weathered words in Latin under it.
More words are under the Latin, and aren’t as weathered, so they were probably carved later.
Davvero, non aprite la scatola!
No, nemmeno allora!
Even if fluffies could read, you’d be hard pressed to find one that speaks Latin or Italian.
Umbra probably speaks both.
So the mare completely disregards the warnings on the box, and casually pushes it open with a marshmallow hoof, the lid ominously creaking.
It’s surprisingly easy.
Almost as if the box… or whatever’s inside it…
Wants the box to be opened.