(I believe that what just happened should maintain proper continuity. I’m going to check some things to help clarify when it happened a later though.)
(Wait, what happened to that last entry?)
(Did you try to post more to the story and it not register on the website?)
(I did, but I don’t know what happened to it.)
(Should I try reposting it?)
(It might be nice to do so)
(The following is a repost of an entree that seemingly disappeared.)
Josiah unfurled the papers Douglas had drawn-up up of the complex. He looked down at it a moment before glancing up at everyone with him in the dusty, dimly lit room. Kye was standing ready at the edge of the table studying the layout of the ship they were about to try to board, Ryan stood nearby nodding, Douglas was nervously going over some last-minute details, Manalive stood nearby analyzing everything. Mason stood near the wall, with Dawn nearby, and Brooke was looking through some old spells Kye had found.
“We’re going to go in and we’re going to get out. Right now, we’re just getting Peter.”
Kye looked up. Since she had been searching for spells during planning, she wasn’t completely sure what was going on. “What do you mean just Peter?”
Josiah turned his attention to Kye. “Oh, sorry. This is why we go over everything twice. Douglas had some information about that.”
Douglas began speaking. “Yes. I overhead some guards discussing the capture. Or was it the attempt… Oh, maybe a plan…”
Manalive looked at Douglas skeptically as Josiah interrupted him. “Indeed. The point is that Carlos could be in there, and maybe Robecca as well.”
Douglas muttered “Wait, did I see him?” under his breath.
Josiah ignored him and continued “We can’t run around to rescue them when we aren’t sure they’re there. I main priority is to get Peter, then find and stop Kristen. Manalive, Brooke, Douglas and I are the only ones going in. I don’t want everyone out there when we aren’t sure where we’re going.”
Manalive rubbed chin as he furrowed his eyebrows. “Can we trust him?” He glanced at Douglas. “He doesn’t seem to be all there, not to mention…”
Josiah heaved a sigh and looked at Douglas as well “Brooke was able to use some spells to confirm Peter is indeed where he said. I’ve done the math myself. We should jump directly to Peter.”
“Lord Kumquat, they are preparing to board.” A Franklin said holding a hand over the head phones on his ear.
“Thank you. Make sure a security detail is ready.” The Freakish fruit looked down at Peter’s prone body. “And make sure he doesn’t try anything.”
Lord Kumquat made his way to the ships prison. He passed a cell with three middle aged men. “Good evening Gentlemen.” They glared through the glass as he passed.
He came to an empty cell and waited as two Franklins came up beside him carrying guns. He waited. A few minutes later a portal opened, and Douglas jumped through and looked around in shock. He was soon followed by Manalive, Brooke, Ryan and Josiah. Josiah looked at Douglas.
“Get us out of here.”
“I’m TRYING. I’m trying.” Said Douglas as he fumbled with his box.
Lord Kumquat looked at them with an expression between a scowl and a smile. Whatever it was, it was supposed to express pleasure.
“Good job Franklin. I knew you’d get them to me soon enough.”
Douglas shook his head while Manalive looked from the Franklins to Douglas.
Shook his head and Douglas muttered “I didn’t.”
“You did. You really thought you were free from my control? You were the first to succumb to my power. You’re the one who freed me. When you blew up the original ACCU?”
“No that was to… Wait… It was because…”
Douglas turned and stepped into a corner. Josiah looked through the glass as Lord Kumquat hovered away. He could hear orders about keeping them secure. Manalive came to look through the glass barrier himself. The one of the three men in the cell across from them was staring at them.
“Gentlemen, we have company.”
“I have no interest in talking to the sentient orange.” One of the others grunted.
“It’s more prisoners.”
“Oh.” The other two joined the third at peered at their new inmates. Manalive studied them.
“Josiah, I think they’re Franklins.”
“Indeed. I believe your correct.”
One of the Franklins spoke up. “Actually, we are the original Franklins. Well, all but one of them anyway.” He scowled, and another continued. “We had a fourth among us, but he sided with Kumquat.”
Josiah looked somewhat skeptical. “How are all three of you the original?”
“There was a magical sword. Initially we were one split into four by it, but we pushed its limits to the extreme.”
“I see.” Josiah nodded. He looked at the corner Douglas was sitting in. Brooke was sitting next to him “Excuse me. Manalive, see what else they can tell us.”
Josiah walked to them and kneeled.
“Brooke, what can you do?”
“Nothing, I’ve tried all the spells I can think of.”
Josiah took Douglas’ black box.
Brooke looked at him skeptically. “You don’t think you can get that to work, do you?”
“No, but what’s inside might be useful.”
“The Power Bracelet?”
Josiah pried the box open. Once he managed to get the metal off he peered inside and saw… wires. That was expected. He gently moved them around. Still no Power Bracelet. This was unexpected.
Brooke, Manalive, Douglas, Me.
Josiah’s head-count came up one person short.
“I knew it.”
“What?” Brooke asked.
“RYAN. IS. GONE.”
“No, I got that. It was like a shocked, ‘what?'”
“Oh gotcha, I thought you couldn’t hear me. It’s hard to tell the difference when it’s in written form.”
Franklin 3 winced as another crack appeared in the 4th wall.
“Why would he just leave?”
“I have absolutely no idea.”
“Well,” interjected Manalive, “maybe if you guys gave him something to do he would’ve been less likely to wander off.”
“Yeah,” said Franklin 1 mused, “his character has been pretty useless for the past few entries. You guys seem to constantly forget that he exists.”
“Stop! You’re rupturing the wall,” sternly ordered Franklin 3.
“I don’t see why Ryan would have any reason to take the bracelet alone,” said Douglas. “With all of the anti-portal tech around here, there’s no way he could get off the ship without the additional attachments.”
“Yes,” muttered Manalive, “we’re all very grateful that Ryan isn’t as good at betrayal as you.”
“I should’ve anticipated that Kumquat had turned me into a sleeper agent somehow. That was really naive of me to assume that there’d be no consequences to coming back here. I’m sorry.”
“Take a seat, Winter Soldier. We don’t need any more of your help.”
“Stop that,” Josiah snapped, “It’s bad enough that our friend is being Gaslit by an evil fruit, we don’t need your attitude.”
“Oh, gas lighting, is that the theory we’re going with? What reason do we have to trust him?”
“What reason do we have to trust Lord Kumquat-“
“What reason? How about the fact that we’re in a jail cell? How about that? Good lord, Josiah, I told you this guy wasn’t all there and boom sleeper agent. This is so-“
“What Josiah was saying,” Brooke sharply interjected, “was that Lord Kumquat is a master of manipulation and mind-tricks. So what if making Douglas think he’s a sleeper agent is another trick?”
“Yes!” Josiah said enthusiastically, “Thank you. So why would Kumquat leave Douglas in a cell with us if he was a sleeper agent? He was hoping we would… er… ‘take care of him.’ He knew we would be at his throat by the end of the day for betraying all of us and all he has to do is pass off the job that his superior tech did as Douglas betraying us.”
“And what if he knows that we know that?” Manalive interjected, “What if Douglas is a quadruple agent and we’re just naïve enough to fall for the same trick twice?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Josiah said firmly, “For right now, our main concern is getting out of here and getting your brother back.”
“And how are we going to do that?”
“Wait, Josiah,” Brooke said, “Don’t you still have your snowglobe?”
“Yep,” Josiah said patting his pockets, “yes… I…”
Josiah continued to check his various pockets. The tension was palpable as Josiah went back and checked various pockets twice.
“Yes… I… no, no I don’t have it.”
“Well, where is it?” pressed Manalive.
“I left it back on the table at the Time Lord HQ.”
“I. LEFT. IT. ON. THE. TABLE. AT. THE-“
“Can’t you summon it to you or something?” asked Brooke.
“What model is it, Josiah?” Douglas asked.
“TK345,” Josiah said.
“Yeah, that’s not getting through the defenses. You won’t be able to get that back until we leave the ship.”
“You’re absolutely unbelievable,” Manalive muttered.
“And you’re absolutely insufferable,” Josiah countered.
“We have absolutely no way of getting out of here.”
“Not with that attitude we don’t.”
“Do you know something that I don’t? Because as far as I can tell, we’re out of transportation options and an expert on this stuff isn’t just going to drop out of the sky.”
At that exact moment, a portal opened up above them and Super Chris came plummeting down, crashing through the table that the three Franklins were sitting at.
“My leg!” cried out Franklin 1.
“What is it with this author and having people fall through tables?” remarked Franklin 2.
“STOOOOOP!” whined Franklin 3.
“I have been falling for 30 minutes!” angrily declared Super Chris.
The group gathered around him as he slowly got to his feet. He looked around, very confused. He recognized Josiah, but this was a very different group than the one he saw when he jumped. Also, weren’t they all in Hyrule or something?
Manalive beat him to the punch when it came to questioning.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Super Chris. And I’m here to stop Kristen.”
There was a moment of silence that seemed to last six months and a day. The Time Lords looked on from their cell with Josiah speechless, while the older Franklins blinked awkwardly After the unnecessarily long lapse of dialogue, or even action, one of the older Franklins finally spoke up.
“We are blithesome that you are an ally, but how did you manage to breach the security without your molecules being slathered across the cosmos?”
Super Chris produced a glowing orb from his pocket. “With this. If you’ll excuse me, I also need to stop a certain large floating fruit.”
A vortex opened before him and led to the other side of the cell door. Super Chris did a short wave before jumping through the vortex. Once on the other side, he ran down the hall. The groups’ eyes followed him as he ran down the hall and stopped.
Super Chris turned around for a moment. “Do any of you know which way to the A.C.C.U.?”
“Take a left. Three passages down from there turn right. Keep going until you come to an elevator. Take the elevator to level 8-4. From there you can just follow the signs.” Said Franklin 2.
“Thanks.” With that he resumed his run.
“Great.” Said Franklin 1. “You know, it wouldn’t have been hard to go through that vortex with him.”
Franklin 3 thought about this a moment before giving his own incite. “I’m hungry.”
In the other cell group was having a meeting.
“Who was that?” Asked Manalive.
Josiah glanced at him. “I don’t know.”
“Is that so?”
“Fine don’t tell us. We’ll find out eventually.” Huffed Manalive. “It’s probably someone from the plot we should already know anyway.”
Brooke interjected at this point. “He looked familiar. Isn’t he the guy who separated us when we were at that meatloaf place?”
Douglas, still in his corner interrupted to procure his words of encouragement. “It doesn’t matter does it? Kumquat could destroy that guy with the snap of his fingers. Soon enough Kumquat will be to powerful for people who aren’t split fifteen hundred ways to resist.”
Lord Kumquat was looking down upon the command center. A smug expression formed on his face. Everything was falling into place. His masterful plan that was yet to be revealed in full would soon be in full swing. Unstoppable. Only he would be the ultimate power. Only he would decide if you blinked. Anyone that daring to be contrary to his will would be crushed by his immense army a Franklins that practically handed themselves to him.
A voice interrupted his silent gloating. “Sir?”
Kumquat snapped out of his train of thought. “WHAT IS IT FRANKLIN 4544-4600034322-784984578-925…” He blinked and sighed in an evil way. “WHAT IS IT?”
“Sorry to interrupt your silent gloating.”
“I WASN’T- WHAT IS IT?!!”
“There’s an intruder on level 8-4. He’s managed to bypass security, and he’s downed every guard he’s encountered.
“HE’S HEADING TO THE A.C.C.U.” roared the goliath fruit. “SEND IN AN ELITE DETAIL. I’M TAKING THE SPEEDRAIL.”
Super Chris placed his final charge on the outside of the superstructure of the A.C.C.U. He stooped down to tie his shoe. Lord Kumquat burst in quickly spotting him.
Super Chris noticed he had been discovered. “Heyo.”
“SUPER CHRIS THE DIMENSION HOPPING HERO?”
“Give me a second. I’m tying my shoe.”
“I’M GLAD YOU’RE HERE. I CAN EXPEL MY EXPOSITION NOW!” Bellowed the fruitly lord. “YOU SEE, BEING IMPRISONED BY THE FRANKLINS, I MANIPULATED THE MOST VULNERABLE ONE WITH MY TELEPATHIC ABILITIES, AND THEN A BUNCH OF STUFF HAPPENED THAT’S ALREADY BEEN COVERED, AND I REPURPOSED THIS ANTI CEREBRAL CONTROL UNIT INTO A FRANKLIN DUPLICATINATOR!!” Super Chris tapped at a remote as Lord Kumquat continued. “WHILE A FRANKLIN IS BEING DUPLICATED, HE IS BEING PREPPED TO BE SUBJECT TO MY WILL. THUS THE A.C.C.U. IS AN ABSOLUTE CEREBRAL CONTROL UNIT! EVEN WITH AN UNLIMITED ARMY I STILL NEED MORE POWER THOUGH. THAT’S WHY I NEED THE BOY AND-“
Super Chris finished tying his overly frustrating shoelace and stood up. “Can you hold that thought? I need to blow this up.” He said pointing to the remote in his hand.
Kumquat blinked. “YOU UH, ALREADY SET THE CHARGES?”
Chris shrugged and pressed the button on his remote. A deafening roar sounded as the charges went off and the A.C.C.U. crumpled. Rage overtaking him, Lord Kumquat roared and threw Chris across the room with his telekinetic power. Super Chris rolled across the floor and grabbed his sphere. Kumquat throw him again. Thinking quickly, Chris opened a vortex where he was being flung. He was swallowed up by the vortex and it closed behind him.
Seeing his foe had escaped Kumquat let out an overly dramatic roar. “CURSE YOU SUPER CHRIS THE WORLD HOPPING HERO!”
Josiah leaned against the glass as he talked to one of the Franklins in the cell across from him. “So you have to eat every fifteen minutes too? You know, most of my friends look at me like I’m crazy for some reason.” A security detail had come to watch them, probably because of Super Chris, but they didn’t care that they were talking.
Douglas turned from his corner for the first time and looked at the others. “Guys? I don’t feel so good.” He looked at his hand as it started to fade. “I feel…” Manalive and Brooke rushed to his side. Josiah looked at him and glance out and saw that the same thing was happening to the guards. Douglas stopped speaking and disappeared completely.
Manalive spoke quietly “I hate to be that guy, but if Douglas is gone and the guards are gone, then there’s a good chance-“
Josiah cut him off. “That the other three Franklin prisoners are gone too.”
“I was going to say that all the Franklins are gone, but that works as well.”
Josiah went to look out toward the other Franklins. If Manalive was right, and it looked like he probably was, then Peter might have a chance of escaping on his own.
Lord Kumquat flew down Corridor A-77 on The Paramount at mach speed. All around him, Franklins slowly faded away. He couldn’t think about it; if he dwelled on the astonishing amount of death around him, he’d never make it back to the bridge in time to save the ship. Alarms blared, he saw several Franklins attempting to put out the fires that had spread throughout the ship. One disappeared in the middle of trying to smother the fire with his own shirt; as Lord Kumquat rounded the corner and turned onto Corridor A-74, he saw a fire extinguisher drop out of thin air (presumably being used by a Franklin moments earlier).
They’re just clones, he scolded himself.
He saw a Medic Franklin helping another Franklin limp through the hallway. The medic was confused when the injured Franklin faded away, but he soon joined him. The kumquat flew past a red-headed Franklin who disappeared in the middle of helping another Franklin to his feet. The second Franklin fell back, disappearing before he could hit the ground.
It’s their own fault, they should’ve seen Chris coming, he thought disingenuously.
Franklins scrambled through corridors, climbing ladders, moving boxes, toggling switches. None of them pushing and shoving to get to escape pods, none displaying any sense of self-preservation whatsoever, almost all doing their best to fix the damage left in the wake of Chris’s attack. One Franklin stopped fiddling with the buttons of the control panel to consul and comfort a crying child Franklin.
They can be replaced, he lied.
The main lights shut off as soon as he reached the hallway that lead to the bridge. Only the red flashing alarm lights and the distant glow of computer screens illuminated the hall. The power had hit critical levels and he could see the titanium Emergency Lockdown Door lowering. Lord Kumquat launched himself faster down the hallway, but at the rate that the door was closing, he wasn’t going to make it.
Until suddenly the door stopped.
Lord Kumquat slid and just barely fit under the door. From inside the bridge’s control room, he turned to see a large, deformed Franklin with a hunched back, holding up the door. He looked up and saluted.
“Happy to be of service, m’lord,” the Franklin 9999 said meekly.
“It has been an honor, Nines,” Kumquat declared, choking back tears.
And with that, the Franklin faded away and the door closed with a startling SMASH. For a moment, Kumquat sat there, hearing nothing but the crackling of the fire and the blaring of the alarms. They were all gone. What was the point? The room grew an even darker shade of red than before. Lord Kumquat turned to the window to see Jupiter gradually approaching from below. If he didn’t do something, within minutes the ship would be sucked into the planet’s Great Red Spot, a thousand-year-long super hurricane, which would completely destroy the entire ship.
The Franklins believed in you.
The Franklins died for you.
Lord Kumquat forced himself to his feet (metaphorically) and over to the central computer.
“Extinosh,” he cast towards the flames that covered the chair, which immediately went out.
Anti-Cerebral Control Unit Status Check:
Central Computer? Offline.
Research Facilities? Destroyed.
Lab Mainframe? Offline.
Backup Hard Drive? Online. Transferring to Paramount.
Hull Integrity? Critical.
Hallways? Locked Down.
Franklin Life Support? Offline.
Clean Slate Protocol? Executed.
LEVEL 5 ACCESS REQUIRED FOR THESE OPTIONS
The Paramount Status Check:
Life Support Systems? Damaged.
Internal Gravity? Fully Operational.
Emergency Doors? Fully Operational.
Containment Rooms? Fully Operational.
Back-up Generators? Online.
Weapon Systems? Online.
Anti-Portal Internal Defense System? Critical.
I have to get The Paramount back at a safe distance, download our entire database from the backup hard drives into an escape ship, get the kid and that essence anchor in the ship, and get off the Paramount before the oxygen runs out.
From there he’d have to get to Earth without running into Kristen, get the Sublensence back to a secure location in Lorule, and hope that The Mistress is in a forgiving mood, but now we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The surface of the largest planet in this Solar System was still fast approaching. He activated all front facing engines and set them to maximum thrust. The whole ship shuttered, shook, and groaned at the force of the course correction. A chorus of wheels buzzed as 68 of the rolling chairs on the bridge took off to the left side, crashing into a pile in the corner. Lord Kumquat was able to twist The Paramount until it was perpendicular to the surface of the planet. For a moment, Lord Kumquat almost let out a sigh of relief. The ship had leveled out and it appeared to be sustaining altitude. Then he saw the rapidly dropping fuel tank.
Whether from damage sustained by Chris’s attack or due to the stress of the gravitational force, The Paramount was about 30 seconds from free-falling again. After doing some quick math, Lord Kumquat came up with a very bad idea.
“Ergos!” he commanded and his form lit up with golden energy.
He hadn’t pulled off something on this scale in at least a millennia. The ship rotated slightly as Kumquat shifted it into Assault Mode. He stood up, glided a foot back from the control panel, and whispered, “shield.” An orange translucent orb of energy began to expand. Within about 5 seconds it encapsulated the bridge and then stopped.
That’s not going to be enough.
“Bittersweet euphoria” is supposedly the feeling that enhances the spell. An unattainable fantasy, which one wants to protect from the harshness of reality. He thought of that time he and Franklin 87 went Spynx hunting on Een. His mind drifted to other small moments with the Franklins, which would be lost to everyone but him.
The orb grew a bit larger.
He thought of that look this Mistress used to give him back when she was still just the princess. Of all the women to carry that title on down through the bloodline, she was the first that he felt actually understood him. Her mother taught her to weaponize that. Would he have used her to gain his freedom? Perhaps. The idea that he secretly resented the family for his servitude and imprisonment wasn’t far off base, but he was hardly the rabid attack dog that most of her foremothers had made him out to be. Before her mother stole it, there was that twinkle in her eye, that musing smile, that expression that just said “maybe.” It was all he ever needed, that “maybe.”
The orb grew to cover the front half of the ship.
He smelled pine trees and he could see in his mind’s eye the purple sunsets from that time of year back home when twilight lasted maybe 90 seconds. Then a warm, lonely feeling overtook him when he felt his mother’s touch on his arm. His arm. His Time Lord arm.
He was launched forward as the ship went back into free fall. The orb grew to cover the entirety of The Paramount. He looked up at the computer screen and clicked on a bright red button that read “FIRE ALL.” He shut his eyes and concentrated on those fantasies. Outside, a flurry of missiles collided with each other, launching the Paramount back at thousands of miles per hour. It took all of his concentration to keep the ship from being torn apart as they were hurled back into empty space.
Peter could hardly call Lord Kumquat a hands-on teacher. When he woke up after, the fruit was standing over him. He briefly explained that the mannequin Peter had walked in on was not actually Kristen, but a power anchor, before muttering something about not having time for the basics, pulling out one of those old TV stands that substitute teachers would use, popping in a dusty VHS tape, ordering in a Franklin (0228) to supervise, and then leaving the cell. What appeared to be a History documentary appeared to be playing on the screen. It covered the earliest recorded years of the Time Lords, through the establishment of the Firstborn Bloodline, and up until the Butterfly Apocalypse. Apparently Dawn wasn’t the only one to be cursed by Kristen. The video claimed that at least 18 other confirmed cases of individuals being cursed personally by Kristen.
“Even after her imprisonment, Kristen’s curses still held,” explained the Narrator Franklin, “Many experts believe the longevity of the curses are due to her nature as a Base Binder-”
“What’s a Base Binder?” came a child’s voice from the background.
Suddenly the scene shifted to a classroom full of smaller Franklins (possibly in 4th grade?) sitting at desks in front of a white haired Franklin, presumably the narrator.
“Oh this,” said Franklin 0228, his voice leaking nostalgia “I forgot about this.”
“What’s going on?” Peter asked.
“Well, when Gordo, 0067, and I were commissioned to make this video, we wanted to throw in some comedic bits to keep things interesting.”
“I don’t know Timmy, maybe I was just about to get to that. Did you think of that for one second?” scolded the Narrator Franklin on screen.
“I’m sorry Mr. Franklin, I just-”
“You were just interrupting me-”
“I’m sorry” Timmy practically whispered.
“AND YOU DID IT AGAIN!” Narrator Franklin exploded, “YOU WANT ME TO GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO BE SORRY ABOUT?”
Franklin 0228 cackled at the Narrator’s ruthless tirade. Peter tried to let out a laugh for the sake of politeness, but his dry throat turned it into a cough. He quickly tried to cover it up with another laugh but Franklin 0228 could tell by his face that it was fake.
“Yeah, we might’ve gone a bit too far here”
“Nah it’s alright,” Peter said, turning to the Franklin. “I’m just not really in on the joke.”
“We probably should’ve held off on the inside jokes. I mean, this goes on for another 30 seconds and you’d only get it if you knew Gordo.”
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with throwing in so stuff that makes yourself laugh as long as the final product works. When Carlos and I write songs, we sneak in jokes that only we get and people are fine with it.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot, you guys were going to go play music in town at the start of this story.”
“I miss that Llama. He’s a good guy…”
After a moment of silence, both of them looked back at the TV. They saw a desk lodged one of the walls, Timmy staring at his hands, and Narrator Franklin readjusting his collared shirt.
“As I was saying,” the Narrator continued, “A Base referees to the one area of magic that a particular Time Lord may find easiest to master. A Time Lord may gather knowledge of sorts of spells, but given their nature to stay in their comfort zones, they tend to be the best at one particular school of magic.”
The camera suddenly cut to a small whiteboard laying on a table, which the camera was hovering over vertically. A pair of hands appeared at the bottom of the screen, one gesturing wildly and one drawing illustrations on the whiteboard as the Narrator continued with his lecture. The set up reminded Peter of one of those online math tutor videos.
“Someone could be a Base Teleporter, Shape Shifter, Energy Producer, or any number of other things,” Narrator Franklin explained. “Kristen, being a Base Binder, excelled at curses and manipulation.”
“Yeah,” Franklin 0228 said, snickering to himself, “so this is the rest of the movie.”
“Oh really?” Peter inquired.
“It was supposed to transition from the documentary into this classroom discussion scenario where all the other kids get their Time Lord questions answered and only Timmy gets yelled at. But we wasted so much time filming the first freak out that we couldn’t schedule any of the extras to come back. We couldn’t even schedule the Narrator to film. All this is voiceover, and if you look closely, those aren’t even the Narrator’s hands.”
“Oh no way,” Peter said, amused and looking scrutinizingly at the hands on screen.
“Well, you know, these are the kinds of things you learn from when you’re 12.”
“Wait, you made this when you were 12?”
“Well yeah. I mean, there’s some problems, but the production quality is great and I like some of the lines that you gave to the Narrator.”
“Thanks Peter, I appreciate that.”
“No problem… I’m really sorry, what was your name again?”.
“Did you ever get a nickname at any point?”
“Nope. Some other Franklin took “Twos” and beyond that that, we don’t have too many creative types in this section of the ship.”
“Alright… so you’re something of filmmaker…”
“I’m an Extradimensional Biologist who films experiments an occasionally makes explanatory videos for Lord Kumquat.”
“Like I said, a filmmaker.”
“Alright,” said Franklin 0228 smiling, “I like where you’re going.”
“How about Spielberg?”
“I like it, but I imagine ‘Steven’ would probably be an easier version to remember.”
“Okay then,” Peter said, stretching out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Steven.”
“Nice to meet you too, Peter.”
Peter and Steven spent the next 20 minutes watching and riffing on the video. Peter learned a number of interesting things about the Time Lord’s magic system:
-A Time Lord’s essence is an offshoot of their soul specifically designed to power their magic. Much like the human heart, it is speculated that the essence also carries a certain amount of genetic information from its owner.
-A Sublensence, or “essence anchor” is a notoriously difficult to build and difficult to break item that can hold especially powerful Time Lord essences. The essence inside can only be freed if the anchor is destroyed or if the riddle etched into the back of the anchor is solved.
-Time Lords used to be immortal, never aging past 23 years in appeared, up until the destruction of the World Tree on the Time Lord’s home planet roughly 100,000 years ago. Even after that point, the average Time Lord lifespan averages out at about 3,000 years
-Time Lords typically get their Bases from their parents. 34% of the time, the child will receive the same Base as one of their parents. 46% of the time, they will receive Bases that directly counter those of their parents. The remaining 20% receive completely random Bases.
-In extremely rare cases, some Time Lords may be born with two Bases.
As the credits started to roll, Peter turned to Steven.
“I don’t know what you are,” said Steven, seemingly reading Peter’s mind.
“Is there a way to find out?” Peter asked.
“Not medically. Most Base abilities come out during moments of extreme stress. That’s why-”
Steven caught himself.
“Why what?” Peter inquired.
Peter felt a sudden surge of clairvoyance. It was reminiscent of that feeling you get post-stuffy nose, when both nostrils are suddenly firing at full capacity. Peter instantly recognized the twitch in Steven’s throat, the slight shift in color on his face, the fact that he wouldn’t make eye contact with Peter, and the walkie talkie looking device in his hand.
“After the video finished,” Peter predicted, “you’re supposed to call Lord Kumquat and he’s going to do experiments on me to unlock my Base.”
“It sounds worse when you say it,” admitted Steven, staring at the floor.
“We’re having a good time here, Steven. We can figure this out on our own here. We don’t need any needles, or dream simulations, or any of that other sick stuff.”
“I’m not exactly an upstanding Franklin, Peter. I’m on strike two for this cycle, if I don’t let Lord Kumquat know you finished watching the film then that’s strike three. You don’t want to know what kind of things they do to us when we get a third strike.”
Steven lifted the walkie talkie to his head. Peter took a few steps forward. Steven held his other arm out in an attempt to create distance. Then, as Steven pushed his and on the button to begin speaking, Peter lunged at the walkie talkie. As soon as Peter’s hand made contact with the metal surface of the device, his vision left his body. His sightline was carried up, through the ceiling, through the walls, and all throughout the ship. He saw tens of thousands of Franklins, all in various states of working, typing at computers, observing test tubes, handling exotic aliens, chatting in break rooms, having meals, or sleeping. He saw the surprisingly spacious pin where they were keeping Carlos. He felt the sensation of pulling on a metal door handle and suddenly, he saw the pin’s door slowly swing open. He saw an office with a name plate on the desk in a language that he couldn’t quite make out. On the edge of the desk was a golden Kumquat with “a fruit sweet when given and bitter when taken” inscribed on the back. He was then immediately taken to a computer screen. Codes, redacted and classified information, it all unraveled before him, giving way to the concealed contents within. Door Codes: 4567, 3465, 8421, 7965, 8543, 5591. Binder, Energy, Shape Shifter, Teleporter, Shield, Summoner, Puns(?), Environmental, Projection, and Liberator.
“Liberator: a genetic inversion of Binders, most commonly gifted with the ability to deconstruct scrambled code, learn at an accelerated rate, masterfully read body language (to the point where instances of mind reading have been reported), and break curses. Due to the lack of natural instances of Liberators within the Time Lord population, further study is required to uncover the full physical and mystical capabilities of this Base type.”
Peter’s vision returned to his body as he found himself staggering back. Steven stood there, his walkie talkie next to his face, completely dumbfounded.
“What did you do?” Peter asked.
“Nothing,” Steven said, “what did you do?”
“Did you call Lord Kumquat?”
“Nope, I’ve just been standing here, watching you violently spazz out for the past minute.”
“I… I don’t… I think… I saw some things.”
“I saw… well… I saw everything.”
“You saw the cargo?”
“Well, I saw a few aliens.”
“Did you see the bio on Valdra Muinthel?”
“Who? Oh right. No.”
“Did you see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch?”
“Alright, look: I saw where they’re keeping Carlos, I saw some door codes, and I saw some more information on Time Lords.”
“That’s not exactly ‘everything’.”
“I think I’m something called a ‘Liberators’.”
“Close your eyes and step back against the wall.”
“Are you going to arrest me?”
“No, it’s just us. Nobody’s coming in here to take you away. Just close your eyes and step back against the wall.”
“Alright, now there should be a box on your right. Touch it. Okay perfect. Now,” Steven turned to the security camera, speaking to it as if it were Peter, “how many fingers am I holding up?”
The security camera turned slightly and began to zoom.
“Two.” Peter declared, his eyes still shut, “Now five. Three. Seven. Ten. Now you’re holding up your foot.”
“Alright, I believe you.”
“Wait, there’s something else going on. I can see a holding cell of some kind. My friends are there. And there’s three Franklins and- wait there’s a fourth guy. He just teleported in.”
“Wait, he *teleported* in? That shouldn’t be possible.”
“And now they’re escaping the cell. And he just teleported away.”
At that exact moment an alarm sounded. Five consecutive rings.
“It’s him,” Steven breathlessly whispered.
Peter stepped away from the panel and looked back at the Franklin.
“Who?” Peter asked, “what’s going on?”
“Five alarms. It’s a direct assault on the ACCU. If that central computer goes down-”
“Steven who was that guy?”
“Look,” Steven said, taking a deep breath, “we might not have a lot of time here. What do you remember about Valdra Muinthel?”
“It was a name that Douglas brought up,” Peter replied, “honestly I don’t remember how much of that still applies to this continuity.”
“Valdra Muinthel: it’s Elvish for ‘Fire Sister.’ It’s a title passed down from generation to generation for the Queen of Lorule, the sister dimension to Hirule. Whoever sits on that throne has seniority over Kumquat. If the ship is destroyed and you don’t all die in the vacuum of space-”
The ship began shaking in an irregular pattern.
“Thanks Steven, I needed that mental image,” Peter muttered.
“That’s where he’ll take you,” Steven finished.
Suddenly the sound of a thousand keyboards going through a woodchipper brought the pair to silence. Peter looked back at Steven, who was clutching his stomach and had a hollow, far away look in his eyes.
“Steven? Steven!” Peter caught the Franklin as he fell over. His breathing was slowing down.
“The main ACCU computer went down. To tie up loose ends, we… we’re automatically deleted.”
“No. Come on, there’s got to be a way to cancel it.”
“Not while it’s in effect. You would’ve had to do this beforehand.”
“No,” said Peter, dragging Steven over to the control panel, “I was born for stuff like this.”
Peter’s vision went into the panel, through various wires and into the destroyed main computer. His vision filled with red binary code and his entire body burned with excruciating pain. Fighting back against the deletion protocol at this point would be like trying to hold back a tsunami with a gardening bucket. But maybe, just maybe, he could save a few files that hadn’t been deleted: Douglas, Steven, 0895, 045, 03334, a couple of kid Franklins. Peter could feel his strength starting to give out, he couldn’t add any more. He had to start moving who he had to the backup files.
Come on Peter, hold it together.
You can’t lose it now.
YOU HAVE TO SAVE THEM PETER
Peter shot back out of the computer view and found himself back in his body. He screamed in panic and frustration, trying to force himself back in.
“Peter, you’re the best man. But that wasn’t going to happen on your third time ever using your powers.”
“I’m supposed to be a quick learner,” Peter snapped back, “that’s supposed to be my thing.”
“Nobody’s that good. You can’t just show up to the gym for the first time and lift a car.”
“So what, you’re just gonna sit there and die?”
“Let’s be real here Peter, we probably deserve this. We’re a sick bunch.”
“Don’t say that, you were just following orders.”
“A lot of bad people ‘just followed orders,’ Peter. Everybody gets a choice between what’s good and what’s easy, make sure you’re ready when your choice comes up.”
Steven gestured to the mannequin in the corner.
“Take the sublensence with you. If Kristen gets her full power, she’ll be unstoppable. It’ll be safe in Lorule. Oh and don’t let Kumquat give you too much of a hard time. Once you get your feet under you, you’ll be able to hit back pretty hard.”
“You’re the best there ever was Steven.”
Steven reached out to shake Peter’s hand and brought him in for a bro hug.
“I haven’t had a bro like you since Gordo. You’re gonna go the distance Peter.”
Peter closed his eyes and felt Steven vanish. He sat there for several minutes, stewing in his failure. Then the ship began to shake in a different way.
“I should probably get-”
And then Peter was violently launched against the far wall, smacking his head. Everything went black.
Peter woke up later, completely unaware of how much time had passed. He still felt like he was covered in a crusty layer of grief, but his survival instincts had kicked in. He grabbed the sublensence of Kristen and made his way toward the locked door. The mannequin was completely stiff and awkward aside from the left arm, which flopped around like a wet pool noodle. It made carrying the thing wildly annoying.
Alright, how do I do this again?
Peter touched the door and saw binary code. The electronic lock clicked open. The light from the room poured out into the pitch dark hallway, illuminated every three seconds by the red flashes of an alarm.
Alright, great, Peter thought. Find Carlos, find my friends, and GET. OUT. Kumquat’s optional at this point.
He stepped out into the hallway, hearing nothing but his own footsteps echoing. He jumped at every strange looking shadow that would materialize in the brief bursts of red light. He touched the wall to see if he could conjure up some kind of map from the ship’s backup computer. He saw nothing, but he did feel alike general sense of where he would need to go to find Carlos. If he escaped his cell before the attack on the ACCU, he probably made it to either the laundry room or the med bay. Both would be through Corridor B-15. So Peter continued to follow the hallway until he came to the fork that led into Corridor B-15. He hacked open the door and made his way down the hall before a moving shadow stopped him dead in his tracks.
“Who’s there!?” Peter yelled, raising the Kristen mannequin, hoping whatever was at the end of the hall would mistake it for a Gatling gun.
‘Who’s there’? Peter scolded himself, haven’t I watched horror movies.
Whatever it was, Peter could see it turning around.
“Stay right where you are!” Peter demanded, figuring that he might as well stick to an aggressive strategy so long as he had this thing’s attention.
“You take one more step forward and I’ll open fire.”
“Peter,” came a familiar voice at the end of the hallway. “Peter, it’s me!”
And sure enough, the silhouette of his llama friend appeared out of the shadows.
“Peter, I made it out.”
“Carlos! Are you okay buddy?”
“A little sore, but I’m doing alright.”
“Did they fix your voice?”
“After the torture, did they put your normal voice back in?”
“What are you talking about Peter?”
Peter was within arm’s length of his friend. He looked exactly as he had seen him last. All the same, his blood ran cold.
“You had the voice of Patrick Warburton. It was a cruel joke and it definitely would’ve taken some kind of procedure to undo it.”
“Oh that,” Carlos laughed, a tinge of nervousness in his voice. “Well, you see-”
From out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of golden light approaching from behind him. He instinctively hit the deck and then a bolt of energy struck Carlos in the chest. He turned to see Kumquat standing at the far end of the hall.
“Duck” he yelled.
“WHAT DID YOu just d-” Peter’s anger at watching Kumquat murder his best friend was undercut by sudden realization. Carlos looked like a wax sculpture that had been struck by lightning, his head and torso almost completely melted, but his legs and back half completely intact. Then all at once, he snapped back together, his body fully formed as if he were never attacked.
“Oh. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to do this the hard, way,” “Carlos” said, his voice now raspy, cruel, and very clearly not Llama like. “But if you insist!”
“Carlos” melted into a pile of grey slime and rushed towards Peter.
“NO!” Kumquat called out.
The tendrils of the slime quickly engulfed Peter and he suddenly found himself drowning. He panicked and flailed, feeling the creature pulling at his mind, stealing his being. Fears from across Peter’s life flashed before his mind’s eye. He could feel himself being pulled under the current.
And then all at once, Peter had a singular thought:
No. I see through you.
The goop began to harden all around him. He could feel the substance fighting him, desperate to survive, desperate to continue to steal identities. But Peter kept pushing, suffocating the being right back until finally, it succame to him. It became a substance like dried clay and Peter kicked his way out, stomping on the crusty remains of the creature even after escaping. He screamed a triumphant battle cry and after finally catching his breath he looks over and remembers that Kumquat has been watching this whole time.
“Did you just… how did you just destroy a Mimic in 30 seconds?”
“Oh is that what that was? Some kind of creature that can look into my mind and mimic one of my friends?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what that was. And they’re notoriously hard to kill.”
“Well, it would’ve been nice to know what other kinds of monsters you guys are cooking up around here,” Peter shot back.
Peter could’ve sworn he saw a ridge similar to eyebrows raise on Kumquat, either in amusement or bewilderment.
“I know this is going to blow your mind, but we’re not running Doofenshmirtz Evil Inc. The ACCU is… was an organization on the forefront of studying and containing extraterrestrial threats. Some creatures you bag, tag, and release back into the wild, some could end civilizations if given the chance. So we put them to sleep, we subdue cerebral systems, we study and we hope to God that we can somehow figure out a way to counter these creatures if they someday show up at our front door. There’s more to this business than following Time Lord politics. We have over 64 terabytes of information on how various ‘monsters’ from around the universe tick based on research from live test subjects that we keep downstairs. I’m going to get that information to an escape pod, you’re going to get to said escape pod, and we’re going to get out of here before this ship runs out of oxygen. Then when we’re in the pod, you’re going to tell me how you killed the Mimic.”
“I’m not leaving without Carlos.”
There was no un-seeing it now: Peter’s base abilities allowed him to see creases and lines on the giant fruit that resembled facial features. But the strangest part was that the pseudo face appeared sad, sympathetic even.
“Carlos is gone,” Kumquat finished.
“No, I know he’s out there and I’m going to get him.”
“His holding cell was destroyed when Chris attacked the ACCU portion of the ship. I’m s- We have to move on. You can honor him by finishing the mission.”
“I let him out”
“What do you mean you let him out?”
“If I don’t get to him first, one of these other creatures will get to him. And if I don’t leave here with all the friends that you took,” Peter said, a smirk growing on his face, “you’re not getting this.”
Peter pulled back the mannequin of Kristen triumphantly, before gagging as the floppy arm slapped him in the neck.
“You’d risk giving an absolute psychopath her full powers back and dooming the entire universe for a llama?”
“Well, when you put it like that, yes.”
Kumquat shook his head and suddenly Peter felt the sublensence being pulled away. The two remained in a game of tug-of-war for about 15 seconds before Peter flexed his core, punched the air where one of Kumquat’s arms would be, and the fruit recoiled bellowed with pain. In a manner similar to how Peter gradually started noticing facial expressions on the Kumquat’s body, he began to see vapor-like outlines resembling the shapes of arms and legs. Kumquat’s form vaguely reminded Peter of those meme fan-art drawings where people put muscular arms and legs on Kirby. He didn’t know whether to laugh or scream, but given the expression on Lord Kumquat’s face, he choked back both emotions so that he didn’t get his face blown apart.
“A Liberator. Of course.”
The new expression that cut through Kumquat’s face scared Peter more than the pained rage. It was the look of someone who got exactly what they wanted for Christmas.
“You must’ve countered that Mimic’s feeding ritual at the molecular level,” he continued, one translucent arm rubbing the other as he spoke. “And letting Carlos out, surely it took a little bit of extra effort to open a door from that far away, but you’re a fast learner.”
“Yeah and if you don’t let me go find him, I’m gonna break your face at a molecular level just like I did to your ghost arm there.”
Kumquat let out a chuckle, let go of his arm, and began shaking it around, to show off the apparent lack of damage to it.
Josiah’s head perked up.
“I used to play bass for ‘Ghost Arm’,” he quipped almost instinctively.
“What?” Dawn asked.
“Nothing,” Josiah replied.
“Even if he had survived,” Kumquat said with a sudden burst of urgency, “and hasn’t been eaten by an escaped lifeform or test subject, we’ve only got…”
Kumquat raised one of his spectral arms in a gesture identical to someone checking their watch.
“…17 minutes before we run out of oxygen. What’s left of the ACCU is a mile that way…”
Kumquat gestures toward where Peter was headed.
“…and the escape pods are that way.”
He pointed towards the opposite direction.
“Alright, so I book it over there, I pick up Carlos and the rest of my friends-”
“Wait, how do you know they’re over there?”
“I sensed Josiah breaking the fourth wall in that general direction. We should be able to meet up over there and then you can get one of the ships and pick us up on that side.”
“Carlos is one thing, but we’re not taking the rest of them.”
“Don’t you know what they did?”
“Alright, what do you think they did?”
Kumquat was not amused by Peter’s tone.
“They brought Super Chris here. He’s Kristen’s ex-boyfriend- well intel assured us it’s “ex” but I doubt it after today. He’s the reason why Kristen tried to take over the universe. And now he’s shown up and attacked a facility housing Kristen’s full power source. I consider that a threat. To pile on top of that, we’ve got drone surveillance footage of one of your buddies being offered an essence-for-essence deal with Kristen. You expect me to put him in pod right next to it? I don’t think so-”
“Even if I believed you,” Peter snapped back, his face betraying how much he actually believed Kumquat, “you said they were offered. You didn’t say they accepted it.”
“I’ve lost millions of friends taking down threats like Kristen, I’ve lost thousands today alone. I’m not going to risk the fate of the universe because you can’t give up a handful of friends.”
One of Kumquat’s ghost arms grew in size and thrust out, pinning Peter against the wall. With the other arm, he pulled at the sublensence in Peter’s arms. Peter furiously punched down at the arms, but Kumquat never relented. Finally Peter wore down and Kumquat was able to rip the mannequin away. Peter slumped to the floor and Kumquat turned around, back toward the corridor that led to the escape pods, panting softly.
“That was you wasn’t it?” Peter asked.
Kumquat stopped walking.
“In the dream,” he continued, “back on the Time Lord home planet. You put that in my dream. You were the boy. Your parents… your parents died in some kind of war. You believed it was the Firstborn who let them die. You thought he caused this whole thing, you’re whole life to unwind. So in your twisted emotional state, you lashed out at all of Time Lord society. You sacrificed yourself to destroy the Tree that prevented Time Lord’s from dying of age. And then I assume, somewhere along the line, the royal family from Lorule got involved and then you got resurrected into a giant, kind of obscure fruit and forced to work for them and that probably gave you some self-esteem issues-”
“You Liberators are just the worst,” Kumquat said turning around.
“I completely nailed it didn’t I?”
“Most of it.”
“I get it. Well, not holding a grudge against an entire race for millions of years. Or living for millions of years. Alright, I don’t get it, but I feel for you.”
“I appreciate your pity,” Kumquat replied bitterly, “now if you’ll excuse me-”
“I can help you get out of your arrangement. You can scoff all you want about what I’m doing right now, but you know what Liberators are capable of. You get my friends and I safely to Lorule, and whatever curse they’ve got you under, I can-”
“You could figure out what the Mistress is thinking?”
“Absolutely. And with that knowledge, I could-”
“You could help me win back her affect- err her admiration! Because this mission didn’t go well and you know, respect and all… look do we have a deal or not?”
“S-sure. I’m sorry, were you about to say-”
“I’m gonna need you to swear on your part.”
“Swear that I get your boss to like you again?”
“NO. That the sublensence will get safely to Lorule and that you will guard it with your life. The rest we can work out when we arrive. In return…”
Kumquat lifted one of his hands and made a “cross my heart, hope to die” gesture as he spoke.
“I swear that you and your friends will also make it to Lorule, alive.”
A red, shimmering X appeared following the gesture and floated toward Kumquat before disappearing into his skin (or peel, more accurately).
“Now your turn,” he said.
“I swear, that the sublensence will make it safely to Lorule,” Peter said tentatively, mimicking the motion. Peter felt a chill go up his spin when his own X landed on him.
“If either of us breaks our vow,” Kumquat said, handing Peter back the sublensence, “we will die.”
“Well I guess this is a start,” Peter said, grabbing the mannequin with both arms, “we didn’t trust each other at all in the beginning.”
“Revivous,” Kumquat cast.
Peter suddenly felt like he was ready to run a marathon.
Revivous must be some sort of stamina returning spell, Peter thought.
“Repeat after me,” Kumquat ordered, “Ergos.”
Kumquat’s body glowed with golden energy.
Peter similarly lit up with a blue aura surrounding him.
“You can summon swords, shields, energy blasts, all sorts of things,” Kumquat explained, “it’s not an ideal spell for non-Energy Bases and it would’ve been better if we had gotten you that armor, but it’s too late now. Don’t expend too much of your energy magic at once.”
“Got it, how much time do we have?”
“10 minutes. And Peter one more thing: you have to wait until I’m right outside whatever room you’re in. The anti-teleportation shield got twisted around by Super Chris’s attack. Someone can jump into the ship at any time, but if you try to jump to more than 10 feet outside the ship, your body will get splattered like oatmeal. I know 10 feet sounds like a lot, but you’ve got to got to give me time to maneuver that the escape pod into position. Now go!”
Kumquat slapped a tracking device on the sublensence and sent Peter off, sprinting through the dark corridor as fast as one possibly could while holding a mannequin. When he was out of sight, the lumbering fruit turned back in the direction of the escape pods.
A Liberator? A fine addition to the cause. He could help him win back the affection of the princess, defeat Kristen, and maybe even help him bring down the Time Lord Firstborn’s reign once and for all.
Lord Kumquat made great time in route to the Hanger Bay. Not even close to when he had to dash to save the ship, but still, he was moving unhindered by any additional prison breaks. His luck would run out as soon as he opened the door. A massive, muscular, humanoid crocodile-looking creature stood in front of the escape pod with all the ACCU’s downloaded data and Kumquat’s own sublensence.
“Of course you got out,” he muttered.
The beast let out a vicious roar.
“Ergos,” Kumquat responded.
He summoned a blade of golden energy and the two lunged at each other.
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