It’s Cal again, and I’ve gotta speak quickly.
We’ve moved out to get Vincal back, and Robert’s keeping an eye on everyone at home.
We realized that we’ve been going about this the wrong way.
We shouldn’t be going to Vincal.
We should bring him to us.
And we know exactly how to do that.
Right now, we’re in Nevada again. Out in the badlands.
“We” meaning me, Miles, Judy and Marley, in our Omega-powered nano armors…
Future Quin, who doesn’t have a nano armor yet…
Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Prometheus, all in golden form…
Blueberry, in his Blaukörper…
Kirk, in his new battle suit…
Erwin and Cecil, in their Omega Busters…
And in our other two Omega Busters…
Well, you’re going to find this hilariously ironic, dear readers.
It’s Chris and James in those things.
You see? Their demonic counterparts coveted the power of an Omega Class. How is that not ironic?
Maybe we should spray paint those two Omega Busters red, and stick some little devil horns on them.
They’ve all been filled in on the situation.
Nobody outside the ChaotiX knows about my currently powerless state, and we’re hoping nobody will know until we’ve resolved that issue.
I may be powerless, but I refuse to be helpless.
I’ve still got my muscles, too, and my martial arts training, so I’m still strong compared to most normos.
I’m just not “bench press a cruise ship” strong right now. I couldn’t even lift Tommy’s Beetle.
The car Pierre gifted the Fondas so Maria didn’t have to drive into town faded while she was pregnant.
My dumb ass thought that the Mothership was a Beetle, but Tommy corrected me recently. It’s actually a 1966 Type 2.
I’d been calling it a Beetle for ages. I felt so stupid.
In my defence, I’m not really a car guy. I don’t even have a driver’s licence. Judy does, but she sold her car around the time she got a blipper.
Me and Marley have been thinking about getting licences, though.
Enough chitchat. We’ve got business.
I speak up, at the center of this motley crew.
“Alright, everyone. Here’s the plan. Vincal most likely has my power sensing. I don’t, and Niv doesn’t, so it has to be with Vincal.”
Nivlac grins at me. He’ll be participating in the next step, if Plan 1 fails.
“Cal, here’s a thought. Why don’t you just tell Jack to go back and tell you to stay away from that damn lamppost?”
“Because A, he’s currently running interference against Gaspar. That old fuck isn’t the only one who can clock-block now.”
Jack’s been working to address that issue since Las Vegas.
Gaspar was lucky that Jack was distracted with bathing his fluffies.
But now Jack is on guard. And Gaspar is in for a rude awakening if he tries to stop time again.
Gaspar may be older, wiser, and more experienced than Jack… but so is Lu-Tze, and Lu-Tze TRAINED Jack.
I think it’s highly likely that Gaspar was the only person in Ad Laun Dyz with temporal powers. Adam clearly did not copy them. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have needed Jack. So Jack may very well be Gaspar’s first actual challenge. Gaspar has never had to try before.
So Gaspar’s luck is running out.
I’ve also put a squad together to go deal with the Gurus. Those idiots still don’t seem to have noticed the drone.
“And B, we should be solving our problems in the present. Solving every problem with time travel is a slippery slope. That’s what the Gurus are trying to do.”
“We haf bin oba dis, heddad.”
“Yeah, okay. Continue, Maestro.”
“Alright. As I was saying, Vincal can most likely sense power. And between all of us, we’ve got several Omegas’ worth of power. At least a dozen. If he feels something like that, he just won’t be able to resist.”
Kirk raises a hand.
“Question. What do we do when this Vincal shows up?”
“We talk to him first. Try to convince him to stand down. If that fails, well, we’ve got several Omegas’ worth of power and he’s only got one. Even though it’s unrestrained, it’s still only one Omega’s power.”
Chris raises his hand next.
“So we beat him to a pulp. What’s the next step?”
“Keep him from getting away again until we find a permanent solution to this.”
“Which is putting the three of you back together.”
“Ideally. So, uh, don’t kill him. Does anyone else have any questions?”
Everyone shakes their heads.
“Then let’s light this candle, and see if he comes a-knocking. Counting down from three!”
Blueberry turns a certain dial up, and everyone else clenches their fists, save Nivlac, who steps away from the group, not having any Omega power either right now.
But he’s still got a role to play.
Here’s hoping this works.
Have faith, Fi.
If this doesn’t work, I won’t know what else to do.
Meanwhile, Vincal flies over New York City, looking down at the city that never sleeps.
“Ten million people and not one worth fighting–”
Then he feels a phenomenal power, far off to the southwest, and he brakes midair.
“…Now that’s more like it.”
Vincal appears in the skies above the Nevada badlands.
Down below, he sees a massive surging aura of intermingling energies, fire and electricity. Red, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo, purple, black, white and gold. Many colors, weaving into a spire of flame.
He sees the ChaotiX members at the heart of the aura, pushing their power as far as it can go, whether it be their own innate might or that of their technology.
And he sees Calvin beckoning him.
“You’re a pain in the ass to get in touch with, you know that? Get down here. We need to talk.”
As Vincal lands, we all power down, and I step up, gesturing for Marley to follow me, briefly glancing at Nivlac.
“Seriously, what the fuck are you doing, Vincal? What did those Saingans do to you?”
He stares blankly at me, and up close, I notice that his skin has become paler, and his features have become somewhat less…
“Nothing, and that’s the problem. Not one of them landed a hit on me.”
“Wut du yu eben wan?”
Vincal is briefly given pause.
“I don’t understand the question.”
Marley scoffs at him.
“Daddeh gut aww da bwains, Mawwey see.”
“It’s not just that, Mar. I got all the desires. And Niv got them too, I reckon. You don’t even have a reason to fight, do you Vin? You aren’t even fighting for the fun of it. You’re just fighting because that’s all you really know how to do. Don’t you remember anything Doc told us?”
“Oh wow. It’s that bad, huh?”
Judy steps up.
“Do you remember the day Cal met Snowball and I at the park?”
“Du yu wemembew da bwite time daddeh met Mawwey an Piccowo?”
I collapse my helmet, glaring at Vincal.
“Do you remember hanging out with Dave, Seth and Andre? Do you remember Scotty? Do you remember Mika? Do you remember Mom and Dad?”
The brainless buffoon shrugs.
“All I remember is the battles, and the faces of those we fought. The who and how and why is irrelevant. The battle is all that matters. I fight, therefore I am. I am pure power and force.”
“With nothing guiding you anymore! You’re completely directionless!”
That’s a recipe for disaster.
We fear that he might start lowering his standards.
“And nothing holding me back.”
“Holding you back from what?”
A few seconds pass before he shrugs again.
“From using my power. Power is meant to be used.”
“That’s my power. You’re my power.”
“Yu bewong wif daddeh, wike it ow nu.”
“Exactly. You rejected me, but you need me. And I don’t think you’ve realized it. Haven’t you taken a look in the mirror? Haven’t you seen what you look like now? You’re looking less like me than when we first split, and I don’t think that’s gonna stop. You need me to give you shape.”
“Dat nu am gunna happun tu heddad, wite?”
“I’ve got all of Cal’s memories and emotions, and THIS asshole DOESN’T. I’m NOT gonna let that happen to me, Mar.”
I gesture at Nivlac, and smirk at Vincal.
“You see? Niv has more restraint than you now! He’s not going around beating people up for no reason! And he’s the part of me that wants to have ice cream for dinner and stay up way past bedtime! My inner teenager is acting more mature than you, what the fuck does that tell you?”
“That you’re scared of me. You need to constrain me. You fear what I am, because I am no longer bound by you. I am power. Power is–”
“Ment tu be yoosd. Bwoken wek-awd!”
“Vin, you don’t get it, do you? You’re a part of me. And you always will be. And without me directing you, you’re nothing. Just sound and fury. A rebel without a cause. Or a clue. Just stand down, and we can fix this. We can put ourselves back together, and get back to dealing with the Gurus.”
“The three old bastards who did this! You don’t remember them, either?”
“Did we fight them?”
Blueberry stomps up in his fighting machine.
“Am dat weawwy aww yu can fink abowt?”
“He’s all brawn, no brains. So I’d say the answer is yes, Blueberry. Even Saingans aren’t this addicted to fighting. You’re just a fight junkie, Vincal. Without Cal, you’ve got no purpose.”
“My purpose is to fight. Power is meant to be used.”
“So let Cal use you, Vin! Like he’s supposed to!”
“No. He keeps choosing not to use me. Power is meant to be used.”
“If he says that one more time, I swear, I’m gonna scream.”
I glare at Vincal harder, gradually losing my patience.
“You really don’t have any brains, do you? Do you just want me to use my powers all the time? To spend every second of the day fighting? Is that what you want to do?”
“I must use my power. Power is–”
“Don’t you fucking say it–”
“–meant to be used.”
Nivlac throws his hands up, his frustration palpable.
I glare even harder.
“Vin, you realize that we can’t just let you walk away, right? Tell me you understand that, at the very least. You’re my responsibility.”
“Why won’t you just let me fight? Power is meant to be used.”
Prometheus steps up, and Vincal turns to him, still staring blankly. I haven’t seen Vincal blink once so far.
“Power should be used carefully. Responsibly. With great power, there must also come great responsibility. You got the power, Vin, but Cal got the responsibility. You’re broken, don’t you see? But we can heal you. We can put things right. You don’t have to deal with this endless urge to fight. You’re only dealing with it because you’re separate from Cal. Because the urge to fight is all you have without him.”
Vincal’s eye twitches.
“Power is meant to be used. Power is meant to be used. I am power. Power is meant to be used.”
“Mawwey am gittin Mokoto fwash-backsies, am aneewun ewse gittin Mokoto fwash-backsies?”
Vincal clutches his head, his expression still blank, but his eye still twitching.
“No more talk. No more words. No more distractions. I must fight. Power is meant to be used. POWER IS MEANT TO BE USED.”
And I sigh in resignation.
“So that’s no to standing down, Vincal?”
“DON’T CALL ME THAT. I NEED NO NAME. I AM POWER INCARNATE. POWER IS MEANT TO BE USED.”
Nivlac lunges at Vincal from behind, ten tendrils extended.
“STOP SAYING THAT ALREADY!!!”
He can travel through darkness, remember? And we’ve been working to find out what the limit on those tendrils is.
But Vincal suddenly vanishes without a sound.
And Nivlac only lunges onto the floor. He gets back up, looking angry.
“Where’d he go? I wanna shut him up before he says that again.”
Marley turns around, and his jaw drops.
“Um, daddeh? Heddad? Dehdad am wite oba dewe.”
As we all turn around too, we gasp in horror.
Vincal is wreathed in a silvery aura.
And his eyes are glowing pure white.
He speaks, his echoing voice now having an ethereal quality to it.
“I WILL NOT GO BACK. I WILL NOT BE SILENCED.”
And then he starts marching towards us, his intentions clear.
“POWER IS MEANT TO BE USED.”
Meanwhile, Gaspar and the Hungry Rider park outside a roadside diner.
Melchior finally got to ride shotgun, because Belthasar was working on something in the back. They’ve got plenty of spare parts in the van too, and they’ve got tools, but what they have to work with doesn’t hold a candle to what the Gurus had to work with back home.
It’s good enough for now, however.
The Dark Demon peers at the people in the diner through the windshield, none of them paying attention to the exterior of this extremely greasy spoon.
“Why are we stopping here? We already got some grub. Hee hee. I bet that waitress’ name is Flo! Hahahaha!”
Gaspar smiles knowingly.
“You’ll see. Is it ready, Belthasar?”
Belthasar holds up a small device with a button on it.
“It’s ready, Gaspar.”
“Then use it.”
Belthasar promptly pushes the button.
A drone turns visible and falls out of the air, landing near the van, and Gaspar chuckles.
“Did the ChaotiX really think that we didn’t know that contraption was following us? We were three of the smartest men in Ad Laun Dyz! We were making drones when the Earthbound Ones were still rubbing sticks together to make fire! Everything these idiots have, we had it first, and we did it better! Alright, let’s get moving.”
Gaspar starts up the engine, and so does the Hungry Rider, driving away from the diner together.
“Hee hee! Nice one, boys. Now they won’t know where we’re going. So where’s that white-haired Caaaaal?”
Melchior glances at the power detector installed into the dashboard, and then checks the map.
“He’s in… Neh-vah-dah, I think it’s called? We’ve got these translator devices, but we’re still getting the hang of reading the Earthbound Ones’ language. Ing-lish, it’s called?”
“You know English is just one language, right? There’s a lotta languages, and that’s not counting the ones all those aliens brought with them. Hahahaha!”
“They just let anyone live on this planet now, do they? Disgusting. Those star-dwelling buffoons don’t belong here, any more than the Earthbound Ones do, or the shitrats do. They’re all going.”
“Hee hee! Shitrats are good eating, they’ve got that going for them. But I’m a literal demon with no standards, so maybe I’m not the best food critic! Hee hee hee! Speaking of shitrats, didn’t you guys used to hang out with a couple?”
The Gurus all scowl, and Gaspar replies in a deceptively calm tone.
“M-62 and Zebediah betrayed us not long after we Enlightened you. They ran off to another timeline with their pet human, and we don’t know which timeline.”
“Hee hee! Good riddance! That big-brained Marley wasn’t very smart if he thought he could boss me around! Hahahaha! I don’t take orders from shitrats! Come to think of it, I don’t take orders from anyone! So boys… don’t get any ideas. Hee hee hee.”
Gaspar keeps his eyes on the road, but Melchior and Belthasar shoot each other nervous looks.
They’ve just realized how fragile their alliance with the Dark Demon and the Hungry Rider really is.
And now it’s a race against time to accomplish their goal.
Before the Dark Demon gets bored of the alliance.
Or before the Hungry Rider realizes that he’s been hoodwinked.
Back at the diner, the squad sent to deal with the Gurus and their quasi-allies appears.
Victor, his guns loaded for demon. Scarface, wearing a grill made of diamonds and silver. Konba, Henry, and Carmilla. Jack, his chivalrium blades, Tobey, and a pair of web shooters at the ready.
And the white-haired demon hunter from another world.
Victor walks over to the drone, nudging it with his boot.
“Damn it. They were playing dumb.”
“Whewe yu fink dey am guin, Victow?”
“I dunno, Scarface. But wherever it is, they don’t want us to follow them.”
Henry and Carmilla turn into bats.
“Which means we’ve gotta follow them.”
“Dey nu can be faw.”
As the two vampires take off, the hunter turns to Victor.
“So vampires are a thing in this world too?”
“Yup. And Konba here’s an alien.”
“And a prince.”
Jack looks Konba up and down.
“It’s too bad you’re not into guys.”
“To be honest, I thought you were a woman when I saw you on that space station.”
“Kon, if I had a nickel for every time I was mistaken for a woman, I’d be richer than fucking Pierre.”
“Maybe it’s the way you dress.”
“And you can’t tell me that I don’t rock that shit.”
Konba raises a finger, opens his mouth, closes it, opens it again, closes it again, and then shrugs.
“I really can’t.”
Jack smiles smugly.
“Told ya so. I’m not ashamed of who I am, Kon.”
“I’m ashamed of who I used to be.”
“Hey, you’re on the right track.”
The hunter gives Victor a pleading look.
“Please tell me that there aren’t any evil jesters here.”
“Well, Chaos likes taking the form of a jester, but he’s not evil. At least, he doesn’t want the world to be destroyed. That would spoil the fun for him. We don’t want the world to be destroyed either, so we should get moving.”
“This is a crazy universe, man.”
Victor laughs as the squad moves out.
“Buddy, you don’t know the half of it.”
“Scawface hope da uddas am duin awwite.”
“How bad can it be, Soul Brother?”