It’s Cal again. It’s been another couple of days.
Yesterday, me and Marley made yet another addition to the ChaotiX. Yet another new member of the IntergalactiX.
Taarn-tual the Arachnoid happily agreed to join us, because we saved his sister from Karan-di’s harem. You saw how happy he was to see us when we ran into him on Lumix, right?
Honestly, not counting Karan-di, I’m a big fan of the Arachnoids.
Remember my dad’s comic book collection? Arach is like Spider-Island dialed up to eleven.
It’s only a matter of time until Marvel does a Spider-Planet storyline.
As long as they don’t do another One More Day, Niv.
For the record, when Pierre bought Disney, one of the first things he did was fire Joe Quesada, and ban him from ever setting foot on Marvel property again.
Victor insisted on that.
I’ve also received a bit of concerning news from Luxi.
He sent Xanitas out on an errand a couple of days ago, and he hasn’t come back since.
Xanitas was last seen entering a Saingan bar, which is strange, because Xanitas doesn’t really drink.
It’s strange because he’s a Saingan, and they usually drink like orange space fish.
Naturally, the Patrol is looking for Xanitas. Nobody’s seen him anywhere near the Tele-Ports or the spaceports, so we’re reasonably sure that he’s still on Lumix.
But we don’t think he’s in any real danger. He’s a Saingan, an adult, and was trained by one of the best martial artists there is. He can take care of himself.
Still, there’s people looking for him, in case he is in danger. Hopefully, we can bring him home.
Xuri’s worried sick. Too worried to even train. Xanitas is his best friend. And I get where Xuri’s coming from.
If Marley went missing, I’d be worried even though I know he’s an Omega Class.
Some dumbass abuser actually tried to fluffynap Marley a while after the battle with Hans in the Netherlands.
Marley beat the idiot to a pulp and dragged him to the nearest police station, clutching the idiot’s pant leg in his teeth.
Marley’s chipped, though.
So if he went missing, he’d be easy to find.
Yeah, Marley’s still chipped. But he knows he’s chipped, what the chip is for, and he’s said that he’s okay with it.
“Mawwey wan daddeh tu knu whewe Mawwey am.”
Right now, I’m in my home city, with Marley.
We’re not doing any recruiting off-world today, because I need to think about who we’re gonna ask next.
Today, we’ve got a different errand to run, closer to home.
It’s a nice day, so we’re walking there. Hey, we don’t have to use our powers or technology to get around.
We pass a new building, that looks a bit like a white church, briefly glancing at the sign.
May The Light of Peace Shine Upon All
“Wut am dat abowt, daddeh?”
“I think they’re a charity or something, Mar. A new one. They’ve been pitching in with the Vegas situation, I know that.”
Some guy called Father Lucian Pax is in charge. Never met the guy, he’s something of a recluse, apparently, but from what I’ve heard about him, he seems to be a decent guy.
I’m sure these dudes are on the up and up.
We move on, but the next street is kind of crowded. There’s a market going on, happens once a week.
So we just fly over the crowd. We see people down there notice us, some of them taking pictures and filming with their phones.
Yeah, that happens a lot. We don’t mind, we’re not doing anything that we don’t want to wind up on YouTube.
There’s a few clips of me and Marley swinging around the city together, both of us singing the 60’s Spider-Man theme. Yeah, he finally got around to copying that power from Mayday too.
He’d been planning to do it since our fight at the Intergalactic Tournament.
“Sup, folks? Don’t mind us, we’re just passing through. Ooh, is that a bakery stall? Smells good! Well, I suppose we can stop for a couple of minutes.”
We land by one stall, a wide assortment of baked goods on sale, and I extract my wallet from one of my pouches.
“Whaddya want, Mar?”
“Wunna dem fwat wound cookies wif da stik-ee sweet stuff in dem. Wut did Neek say dey am cawwed?”
“Stroopwafels, I think. We’ll take two, dude.”
The stall owner smiles at us.
“Of course, Mr. Korkea. And put that wallet away, your money’s no good here. This market wouldn’t be here without you.”
“No, I insist. Gotta look out for the little guy, right? I’m always happy to support the local businesses.”
That, and I have way too much money to be cheap.
Who do you think I am, dear readers?
Many of my former Champions were the same way. Lincoln always paid for his goods, no matter how much the merchants insisted it was a reward for his heroics.
I don’t mind getting rewards for doing what I do, Fi, but I don’t want to look like a miser.
Plus, money’s useless if you never spend it. A pile of gold is just a pile of pretty metal.
Not entirely. It’s a good conductor of electricity. And we can’t forget its anti-magical properties.
Jesus, how could I forget that?
And for a dragon, it’s a good place to sleep.
Actually, according to Edward, most dragons on either side of the universe don’t sleep on treasure hordes.
For dragons on our side, it’s because they have animalistic mindsets, barring noble dragons, and thus have no capacity to comprehend the concept of material wealth. Some people have dragons guarding their treasure, but the dragons have no real understanding of what they’re guarding. Would you expect a guard dog to understand?
And for most dragons on the magical side, it’s because they’ve learned that piles of gold are actually really uncomfortable. Some dragons, the ones who get along with humans, will actually sell bits of their bodies. A few scales here, a bucket of blood there. Not really any different from humans donating blood. So they have money, and they’ve got legitimate uses for it, they just don’t sleep on it.
Of course, the dragons who don’t like humans will either demand tributes of gold, lest they start burninating shit, or just burninate shit and take the gold. And that’s just to make a point. Those dragons don’t spend the gold, what would they spend it on when they just take whatever they want?
It doesn’t usually end well for those dragons. Someone like Sir Peter pays them a visit to lodge some complaints. And to lodge a sword in the dragon.
But I guess that for some people, having money is more important than using it.
“Mr. Korkea? Are you alright?”
“Nu woh-wee, mistah. Daddeh am jus habin a in-tew-naw monnoh-wog.”
After paying for our treats, me and Marley take off again, eating our stroopwafels as we fly.
I signed a few autographs too. And a few people snapped selfies with me.
I don’t mind doing an impromptu meet and greet, either, but I couldn’t stick around all day.
“om nom nom nom nom”
“um num num num num”
Damn, these things are tasty.
When we reach the other side of the market, we land, continuing on foot.
By the time we reach our destination, we’ve finished our tasty Dutch treats.
We walk into Faucheuse Plaza, making our way into the Tower, taking the lift up to Valerie’s lab, employees greeting us as we pass.
We’re here a lot.
When we walk into the lab, Valerie and Prometheus are putting the finishing touches on their latest work.
Alpha’s here, too.
“Yo, Al. So he’s ready, is he?”
Alpha gestures at the repaired Projekt Caldroid 2.0, still deactivated. The eyes are now dark blue. The gaping hole where the Omega Core used to be installed is now filled with something glowing blue, which Prometheus is covering with a panel, dark grey like the rest of the body.
That’s the same kind of power source Prometheus uses, by the way. But Prometheus’ is yellow.
“Val works fast, you know that. I’m sure that Little Brother will be happy to help us rebuild Vegas.”
“Su du yu haf a namesie fow him?”
“Oh yeah. I’ve got the perfect name in mind.”
Valerie and Prometheus step back.
“Alright. I think he’s ready, Alpha.”
“Let’s power him on. Jack?”
Jack walks over, and takes a seat.
“I’m ready. If he goes fuck humans, I’ll tell you not to turn him on. …Innuendo not intended.”
So Valerie fiddles with something on the Caldroid 2.0’s back.
The eyes start glowing, a darker shade of blue than Alpha and Gamma’s.
Beta’s eyes are green, like Judy’s.
Alpha walks up to his “brother”.
“Good morning, bro.”
The Caldroid 2.0 speaks, in a voice much like Alpha’s electronic version of my voice, but a tad deeper.
“01011001 01100001 01110111 01101110… Good morning, Brother.”
“You gonna go kill crazy on us again? Cal, come over here.”
So I step up with Marley, and Alpha gestures at me, next.
“What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see Cal here, bro?”
The Caldroid 2.0 turns to me, looking me in the eyes.
A few seconds of silence pass, those dark blue eyes flickering, before the Caldroid 2.0 speaks up.
“Accessing files on Calvin Korkea… opinion: neutral. Further assessment required. First-hand experience of Calvin’s personality also required.”
“So you don’t remotely feel the urge to, say, kill him?”
The Caldroid 2.0 grins.
“Nah. Why would I do that, bro?”
“I think we’re good, Val.”
Valerie smiles smugly.
“I told you. I’m not a hack like Hans was.”
“Damn skippy. So, bro. What are you gonna do now? You’ve got no prime directive, so you aren’t really obligated to do anything.”
The Caldroid 2.0 shrugs.
“Statement: insufficient data to make a decision now. I think I’m gonna need some help figuring out what to do.”
“No shit, you keep reverting to robo-speak. I guess you need some time for your new personality to get all settled in. Don’t worry, you can stay at my place while you figure things out. We can put a guest house up in no time. We’ve got an entire city to rebuild too, and if you want, you can help us with that.”
“I don’t really have anything better to do. Offer: accepted.”
“Good, good. Oh, and I’ve thought of a name for you. If you don’t like it, we can think of a better name.”
“Request: as long as it’s not anything derogatory.”
Alpha smiles warmly at his brother.
“I was thinking… Omega.”
Meanwhile, on Lumix, Xanitas and Trota, both extremely drunk, stumble through the alleyways, heading to the outskirts of Lalum City, each having an arm around the other’s shoulder. In Trota’s other hand, he’s carrying his large suitcase.
“Sh-shee, Mokoto! Arentcha glad I talked ya into -hic- having a few drinksh?”
“Washn’t a -hic- few drinksh, washa lotsh.”
“Isha few forra Shaingan! Bro, bro, bro. Lissen. Y’know, ush Shaingans, we, wedon’treally belong onna planet like thish. You don’t belong ‘ere. Ya belong wif yer own people, where ya can be you. Y’know why yer here, shtuck wif alla these blue know-it-alls an’ no tail? Cosh our parents got drunk an’ thought it’d be funny t’shtick ya inna spaceship. We didn’t fink it wash funny the neksht day, though. We’sh bin lookin’ for ya ever sinsh.”
“Called -hic- it.”
“But thash why’m here, bro. T’bring ya home. Back to Vajarsi, where -hic- a Shaingan can be a propper Shaingan. Maybe we can -hic- regrow yer tail…”
If Xanitas was sober, he would probably object to leaving his life on Lumix behind so suddenly. At the very least, he’d ask if he can go pack his bags and tell people where he’s going first.
But Xanitas is far from sober, so instead, he says this:
“Fuckit. Why -hic- not?”
“We’ll make a propper Shaingan outta you’se yet!”
“Sho how’re we gettin’ there?”
“Can’t takes the Tele-Ports, or the -hic- spaceports, got some ashholes lookin’ fer me. But I knowsh a guy.”
The two drunken Saingans reach their destination.
It looks sort of like a used car dealership. A rather shady one.
But there aren’t used cars parked outside. Instead, there are used spacecraft, big enough for two to four passengers.
Trota calls to the owner.
“Ay! Xarri! We needsh a ship, man!”
Xarri, the owner, a Lumixian man with a mustache of wispy tendrils and a silver business suit even tackier than Trota’s sunglasses, walks up to them, a cautious look on his face.
“I think you’re both too drunk to fly.”
“Don’ts tells us what to -hic- do. You gotta ship wif autopilot?”
“I’ve got a few.”
“Then we’re -hic- good. Shell us one a those. We’sh got money.”
Xarri, not one to pass up an opportunity to make some money, and wanting the Saingans gone before they start a fight or puke on something, gives up. He made an honest effort to talk them out of it.
He reckons that he can get away with overcharging them. By the time they sober up and realize it, they’ll be out of the star system.
“Alright, let me show you the two-seaters…”