"Thinking With Portals" by NobodyAtAll

It’s Cal again. It’s now been a week since my three alternate selves showed up.

At Valerie’s lab, the squad I’ve put together for the mission gathers. We’re all fully armed and as ready as we can be.

In a big room a couple of floors down from where the Nerd Squad usually works, a large portal has been erected, green and slimy.

I talked to Igor and asked him about my idea. He said fuck no, and I get why.

But there goes the plan to sneak into the citadel via the Inn Between Worlds.

Valerie looks at me, obviously feeling smug.

“We didn’t have a lot of time to work with, but I think it’ll work.”

Jack grins at Valerie.

“If I hadn’t already made one loop a few days ago, I could have done that, but then we wouldn’t have the Omega Buster.”

Erwin, wearing the Omega Buster, grins too.

“You’re sure you don’t want to wear this, Jack? You won’t be able to use your time powers where we’re going.”

“I’ll still have my brain, Erwin. And a bag full of gadgets. It’s not a bag of holding, but it’ll do.”

I look up at the portal.

“So this will take us there, Val? All the way to the citadel?”

Valerie nods.

“Yes, my father’s associate gave us the coordinates. But they’ll notice you in seconds. Whatever you’re planning, you’ll need to move fast.”

On one screen on the wall, a map of the citadel is displayed. The citadel consists of one round central sector, connected to three smaller sectors.

I look at the screen, pointing at the central sector.

“I’m guessing the Calvin in charge will be at the heart of the citadel. So we need to go there.

I point at one of the three smaller sectors.

“But it’ll probably be heavily guarded. So we’ll enter there, and make our way to the center.”

Marley looks up at the screen.

“We wiww fite aww da way dewe, if we haf tu.”

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to save our strength for whoever’s in charge. It’s like chess, Mar: our target is the king. It doesn’t matter how many pawns we knock off the board if we don’t get the king.”

“Swayew am gunna fuk dem awf da boawd.”

As everyone laughs, I turn back to the portal.

“And we don’t know how many pawns there are. So we need to avoid confrontations. Is everyone ready?”

The squad confirms that they’re all ready.

“Okay, uh… criminal Calvin busters. Let’s… bust some fuckin’ criminal Calvins. That sounded better in my head.”

In the Citadel of Calvins, CQK-9891’s army exits the Citadel through many green portals. Some of them return through said portals, depositing any trinkets they plundered from destroyed timelines before leaving again.

Only a few remain behind to guard the citadel: CQK-9891 himself, and his closest associates.

On top of the tallest building in the Citadel, CQK-9891 and the other founding members of his gang kick back in deckchairs, watching a television and munching popcorn. Next to CQK-9891’s deckchair, the two metal canisters and the black hat box have been placed.

Umbra is in his human-sized sorry box again, and has been beaten with a sorry stick so often and so hard that CQK-9891 has drawn blood more than once.

He didn’t really do anything. CQK-9891 just felt like it.

The television shows the dots in circles, and the dots are disappearing faster than ever.

Only one circle still has all of its dots. Of course, a few of those dots have already been removed by the criminal Calvins’ actions prior to conquering the Citadel.

“Isn’t it beautiful, guys? The multiverse is dying.

“Am we gunna spen aww ouw time hewe? Mawwey nu wan miss owt awn aww da fun.”

“We’ll save our strength for our glorious return to our part of the multiverse. When we crush the O.M.A. once and for all.”

“They’ll be too busy dealing with the mess we made to stop us, Boss.”

“Exactly, Robot Me. You know how some people say that you can’t kill an idea? We’ll, we’ll prove those motherfuckers wrong.

“Hell yeah. We won’t just kill the heroes, we’ll kill the very IDEA of heroes.”

“Damn right, Demon Me. Oblivion trumps everything. We’ll show everyone that heroism isn’t worth jack fucking shit. We won’t just kill the multiverse, we’ll break its spirit first.

“And then what, Boss? What do we do after killing the multiverse?”

CQK-9891 smiles at CQK-1897.

“Then we begin Phase 2. I’m not gonna spoil the surprise, Vampire Me. But I’ll say this…”

CQK-9891 pauses for dramatic effect.

“We’ll be heading to Timeline-0.”

“The timeline all others extend from. The source of all other worlds. Are we gonna destroy it too, Boss?”

“No, no…”

CQK-9891 grins maliciously.

“I’ve got plans for it. But I’m not gonna say what.

CQK-9891 turns to you.

Yes, you.

“Because I know you’re watching, dear readers. Just wait and see what happens.”