10 Years Ago
Strange mechanical parts and warped organic flesh lay scattered around the body of a man with half his face gone, revealing a robotic jaw twisted into a maniacal grin that could only be described as far too human for comfort.
"So it comes to this." The warped mechanical man laughed. "You finally got me."
The person he was addressing was a fairly tall, muscular fellow wearing dark clothing and a red mantle across his left shoulder.
He was also holding an ornamental wooden staff driven thoroughly through the mechanical man's chest.
"So, what are you going to do now?" The mechanical man asked as casually as if he hadn't been impaled. "You've got nothing left. No friends, no family. I made sure of that."
"I'm going to continue what I've been doing." The man holding the staff replied. "Returning justice to the world and bringing hope to those who have none."
"That's a hell of a bold statement!" The mechanical man laughed. "Even assuming you could do that on any meaningful scale, what makes you think you've got 'Justice' figured out? You've spent the last two years chasing me down for revenge!"
"If I was motivated by something as petty as 'revenge', I would have given up on you long ago." The man holding the staff rebutted. "You've never stopped killing, and I doubt you had any plans to give up on it."
"It's a good way to pass the time, what do you want from me?"
The man holding the staff replied with only a sharp glare.
"Alright, I don't have much time here, so let me tell you something juicy you may or may not have been smart enough to realize." The mechanical man coughed. "These other humans you're so fond have have done way worse to each other than I ever did to them. Why do you care about saving them in the first place? Are you really that stuck on your pack mentality?"
"Your attempt at generalization is ridiculous and your point is moot." The man holding the staff stated. "Humanity's true nature lies in its potential. I'll save everyone I can and weed out the evil if necessary. There's nothing more to it."
"Man, you really are one dense motherfucker, aren't ya?" The mechanical man's eyes rolled up into his head. "Well, just don't say I didn't warn you."
"You're gonna see some horrid shit in your day, and the worst of it is gonna be because some human got uppity. I guarantee it."
The mechanical man's body and the chunks broken off of it began melting down into a black sludge with dots of light colored a sickly yellow faintly glowing in a random pattern across its surface.
With that last word, the sludge was seemingly absorbed into the ground, leaving nothing of the man behind. After a few moments of silence, the man holding the staff straightened up and glanced over at the carved mask that had been knocked aside during their fight.
"Perhaps he's correct." The man said, walking over and picking up the mask. "That may very well be how fate plays out."
The mask glowed briefly as the man held it up to examine it.
"But maybe I can change that."
The screaming was the first thing he always remembered.
Sections of raised highway were utterly decimated, leaving behind a bloody mess of cars crushed under rubble and survivors screaming for help. Two strangers, one in heavy armor and one in a trench coat, evidently the cause of the destruction. Ammunition of all sizes flew through the air seemingly of its own accord, rapidly killing anyone left without the benefit of cover. Gas tanks burst and collapsed with no apparent cause, creating explosions that rocked the already chaotic area. The heavy rain did nothing to wash away the destruction.
His parents had left him in the car, confronting the strangers with their own abilities. Up until that point, he, like most children of his age, had believed his parents to be invincible.
A few minutes and several sprays of blood was all it took to shatter this illusion.
The strangers kept approaching his car. He couldn't see their faces, but he was fairly sure they were staring directly at him.
As the strangers walked closer and closer, he noticed the screaming had died down. He looked out the side window to see that most of the rubble had been cleared off to the sides and the remaining survivors were evacuating. The ammunition flying through the air attempted to pursue them, but was stopped by a large chunk of concrete being thrown in their path by an unknown force.
A large thud came from behind his car, as if something had dropped down onto the barely stable chunk of heightened roadway he and the strangers were on. The strangers stopped moving as a large man walked past the car he was sitting in to confront them. The man stood between him and the strangers, exuding an intimidating atmosphere even in relation to the utter destruction surrounding him.
The man glanced down at his father, who was lying unmoving on the ground, mysterious flame-like energy slowly burning out around him. The man knelt down and waved his hand through the energy, some of it mysteriously darting towards the man's face, which the child remained unable to see.
The stranger in the armor seemed to grow impatient, throwing his arm out towards the man. A swarm of bullets raced towards the man, but were stopped as the man suddenly held out his own arm and created a massive shockwave. The bullets headed towards him tumbled outwards in every direction, and both of the strangers were thrown backwards, cracking their heads against a concrete wall. The excess force of the shockwave shot forwards and upwards, inadvertently creating a hole in the gray blanket of clouds that exposed the rising sun.
The man stared at his own outstretched arm, appearing just as surprised as the child. He waited a few moments to ensure the strangers were no longer moving, then slowly lowered his arm and turned to face the child. The blinding light of the sun rising behind him obscured most of his features, but he appeared to be wearing a mask that covered notably weary eyes. The man likely didn't think much of this, but to the child in the car, the sight of him standing victorious against the rising sun was an image that was burned forever in his mind.
That wasn't where the memory ended, but he was currently being distracted by something.
"Yo, Theo! Earth to Theo! You in there?!"
Theo opened his eyes, snapping back to reality. He was sitting underneath a large tree in an expansive park on a cold winter day, and was currently being poked repeatedly by the person sitting next to him.
"Geez, if I'm boring you so much you end up falling asleep like that, just say something, will ya?"
His companion was a teenage girl about a year older than him wearing a scarlet shirt underneath a dark purple winter coat. She had her vividly dyed magenta hair tied up in a ponytail, and wore reddish star-shaped glasses over her bright green eyes.
"There are a lot of things I could call you, but 'boring' isn't one of them." Theo cracked his neck, making a quick jolt run down his arms. "I was just...thinking."
"About how you need to get more sleep?"
"Wait, hold on, let me guess." The girl tapped her finger against her chin sarcastically. "You were actually thinking about how much of a hipster you are."
"For the last time, I am not a hipster."
"You name everything after old music nobody cares about anymore." The girl pointed at him accusingly. "You're a total hipster."
"Hey, just because they're obscure now doesn't mean they were always like that." Theo protested. "The tracks I pick were usually super popular back in the 20th century."
The girl coughed a few times, loudly interjecting the word "Hipster" in between coughs.
"Nova, I swear to God." Theo rolled his eyes. "This coming from the girl who unironically liked 22 Fast 22 Furious."
"Hey, that movie totally got snubbed at the Oscars." Nova replied. "The 4D model of Vin Diesel looked pretty damn good."
"It clipped through the explosions!"
"It's a developing technology."
"It's just another gimmick like those old 3D movies or VR experiences they used to have." Theo huffed. "Call me a hipster if you want, but is there really anything so wrong with normal goddamn 2D cinema?"
"VR movies were badass, the hell are you talking about?"
"The movies were fine, I said experiences." Theo pointed out. "You remember the VR "Escape the Titanic" thing they made us use in history class that one time?"
"Oh yeah, that was awesome!" Nova snapped her finger. "I was always the first one to make it to the lifeboats. Usually because I threw everyone else out of the way, but eh."
"I always got lost and drowned." Theo grumbled. "They made me redo the damn thing five times."
"No offense, but that was kinda hilarious." Nova laughed a bit before noticing Theo glaring at her. "What? At least your dad got a good lawsuit out of it."
"My dad's rich, it's not like we needed the money." Theo retorted. "The only really good thing to come out of that was the court precedent for not drowning children repeatedly."
"Yeah, gotta admit, actually making the player feel like they were dying was a questionable design choice." Nova shrugged. "But hey, the rest of it was pretty fun."
"Drowning and being crushed by water pressure at the bottom of the ocean is not my idea of 'fun'."
"Well, it was fun for everyone else."
Theo opened his mouth to reply to this, but was interrupted by his phone suddenly beeping.
"Aw geez, is it time to go home already?" Nova groaned. "It feels like we just got here."
"Yep." Theo stood up, brushing snow off of his purple outfit. "You know how our parents get if we're out after dark."
"Do I ever." Nova grumbled, standing up herself. "What happened to make them that paranoid?"
"Hell if I know. They never tell me anything."
"Yeah, that figures." Nova sighed. "I just don't get it. What's the point of worrying about your kid even after you plug them with an ass-whooping generator?"
"To be fair to my parents as far as that part goes, the StarTrix does kinda suck." Theo pulled up his left arm, revealing a fingerless glove with an emerald Omnitrix symbol attached to the back of it. "No idea what's up with your dad, though."
"I know, right? Swarm 2 can make whatever I want! I could win any fight I wanted to as long as I wasn't being brain-dead stupid about it."
"Scratch that, I suddenly understand your dad's problem."
"Oh, shut up." Nova playfully punched Theo in the shoulder. "Just turn into Movatron and get us home before we get yelled at."
"Move Along." Theo corrected, activating the StarTrix.
"I know, dude." Nova chuckled. "You know I just say stuff like that to get your goat, right?"
"Can't help it." Theo scrolled through several holograms before stopping on one of a robotic humanoid. "Force of habit."
Theo slammed down on the StarTrix's dial, creating a flash of emerald light that faded to reveal his transformation into a large robotic alien with white plating set across its body and treads in place of its feet.
"Hop on." Move Along gestured to his back with a large claw.
"One of these days I'm going to end up getting a motorcycle or something so I don't have to keep getting piggyback rides like some sort of overgrown toddler." Nova grumbled, climbing onto Move Along's back and grabbing onto the exhaust ports jutting out of his shoulder blades.
"Well, when you put it like that, it kind of suits you."
"Bite me, tin man."
Move Along laughed and abruptly took off, using the rotation of his treads to run forward at high speeds. Assuming there were no interruptions, they'd make it back in no time.
But this is episode one of a long series so you and I both know damn well there's gonna be an interruption.
++ADD IN REST OF EPISODE BEFORE THIS POINT++Edit
"Look, all I'm saying is you could get a serious racket going here"
Theo and Nova were sitting together in their school's cafeteria during lunch, with Nova making a concerted effort to convince Theo to try some sort of get-quick-rich scheme.
"For the last time, I am not charging people money to heal them up using Season." Theo grumbled back. "It's not like I actually do much in the whole process anyway."
"Not like you got much competition to capitalize on that." Nova pointed out. "Come on, you're sitting on top of a gold mine here!"
"A gold mine liable to get us both expelled, mind you."
"Hey, I'm sure people would be willing to keep their mouths shut. Sure works for all the drug dealers in this school, at any rate."
"The comparison to drug dealers is not helping your argument."
"Yeah, I guess that was a bad point." Nova huffed. "Still, though."
Theo rolled his eyes and turned back to his lunch.
Theo and Nova turned to find a thin, pale girl wearing ragged clothing standing awkwardly a few feet away from them. A large bruise covered her left cheek, giving the impression that she had been hit by a large object.
"Oh, hi Sybil." Nova greeted the girl casually, seemingly nonplussed by the presence of the bruise. "You get hit by a door again?"
"I...a pole, actually." Sybil mumbled, as if she wasn't entirely sure of her answer. "I walked into a pole."
"Another one?" Nova questioned. "How does that keep happening?"
"I'm just...really clumsy."
"Ah, I see." Nova nodded. "Granted, it's either that or you're intentionally getting yourself hurt so have an excuse to talk to Theo everyday."
"No, no, that's not it at all!" Sybil's face flushed a bright red as she threw out her reply as quickly as possible.
"Relax, I'm kidding!" Nova laughed. "Seriously though, you should see a doctor or something. Your inner ear might be screwed up."
"I'll...keep that in mind."
Theo twisted the StarTrix dial until it hit a hologram of a winged alien with large claws. Instead of slamming down on the dial, he pressed down on the metal rim of the faceplate, locking it in place with a click. A slight hum emanated from the StarTrix as it generated a featureless, six-foot humanoid base made of light that abruptly transformed in a flash into the alien seen in the hologram.
"Alright, you know the drill." Theo said.
Sybil nodded and turned her bruised cheek towards the alien, who reached an arm towards her with an almost mechanical motion. The alien lightly tapped one of its claws on the injured area, causing Sybil to wince. As soon as it did so, the bruise started clearing up, disappearing entirely within the next few seconds. Theo twisted the rim of the StarTrix, disengaging it and allowing it to pop up around the dial again. The alien vanished in a flash of light as Sybil rubbed her cheek to check that the bruise was gone.
"All good?" Theo asked.
"Yeah." Sybil nodded. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it."
Sybil nodded and began walking away, but paused after a few feet and turned back to look at Theo.
"I..." Sybil trailed off before shaking her head. "I mean...I don't know what I would do without you around."
Before Theo could reply, Sybil quickly turned and walked off, leaving an awkward silence in the air.
"Sounds like you have an admirer." Nova said.
"You're overthinking it." Theo sighed, pulling his cap down to cover his eyes.
"You're underthinking it."
"Why would anyone be attracted to me?"
"Some people just have shit taste." Nova shrugged.
Theo raised his cap and shot Nova a dirty look, prompting her to burst out laughing.
"Man, you are too easy."
++ADD IN REST OF EPISODE BEFORE THIS POINT++Edit
"Stand still, will ya?" Pyros stumbled forward a bit. "I'm gonna blow up all five of ya!"
"This dude has achieved drunk levels I never even thought possible." Nova shook her head in disbelief. "I thought we were gonna be fighting a supervillain, not some tipsy greaser."
"I'll show you tipsy!" Pyros lurched a few steps towards them before tripping and falling face-first onto the ground.
"...Well, credit where credit is due, you certainly did that." Nova scratched the top of her head.
There was no response.
"Uh..." Nova elbowed Theo. "Did he just die of alcohol poisoning?"
"How would I know?"
Pyros let out a pained groan.
"Okay, not dead, just really, really drunk." Nova sighed. "I don't think he's much of a threat right now, but heck if I know how we're getting him back to base."
"I'll just pick him up as Move Along." Theo said. "He's not a strength alien, but he shouldn't have any issues carrying an extra person on top of you."
"If you think you're up for that, sure." Nova shrugged. "Let's just go ahead and wrap this-"
Before Nova could finish her sentence, a bullet shot through the air, barely missing her face by a few inches as it slammed into a fire hydrant behind them, sending water spraying everywhere. Theo and Nova quickly turned to find an armored man wielding a completely inordinate amount of guns walking towards them, casually aiming a rifle directly at Pyros.
"Wait a second..." Theo's eyes widened. "That's-"
Theo was interrupted by the armored man taking the shot, only for the bullet to bounce off a shield Nova quickly summoned in front of Pyros.
"Okay, I don't know who you are or what you think you're doing, but step off!" Nova yelled. "This is our guy! We're in charge of bringing him in!"
"Worthless rogues must be terminated." The armored man replied, reloading his shotgun. "This does not concern you."
"I'd beg to differ!"
Nova summoned a cannon around her hand, preparing to fire, but was beat to the punch by Theo suddenly turning into a humanoid rock alien covered in spikes and lunging at the armored man. The armored man dodged to the side and fired a round of bullets directly at the transformation's forehead, to no effect.
"Theo, what are you doing?!" Nova demanded. "I totally had him!"
"This guy was at the highway ten years ago!" Theo snapped. "He was one of the people who caused it!"
"The highwa-" Nova cut herself off as she realized what Theo was talking about. "Holy shit, are you sure?!"
"Pretty damn sure, yeah."
"Ah, yes, that." The armored man said flatly. "I didn't imagine I'd run into a survivor of the incident - much less two of them - tonight, but I suppose that's just how things turn out."
"Hold on a second, two of them?" Nova asked. "What's that supposed to mean?"
The armored man turned to look at Nova, his expression unreadable under his metal mask.
"What sort of question is that?" He asked in return. "It's a fairly straightforward statement."
"At any rate, I have a job to do, and I don't mind finishing the highway job if you two don't get out of the way, so I would recommend leaving."
"Like hell we will!" Theo snapped, punching the armored man from behind.
The armored man went flying, slamming through the brick wall of one of the houses across the street.
"Theo, what the hell?!" Nova chided. "We're supposed to be stopping property damage, remember?"
"I didn't expect the punch to be that strong, okay?!" Theo grumbled. "I've barely used this alien."
"You've barely used any of your aliens!"
Theo began to respond, but was interrupted by the rubble across the street beginning to shift.
"Let's talk about this later." Theo reverted to human and then transformed into Move Along. "We need to get this drunk idiot out of here."
"Hold on a second, aren't we going to stay and fight that other guy?" Nova asked as Move Along picked the slumbering Pyros up by his shoulders.
"Later." Move Along said in a serious tone. "I'm not letting him kill anyone tonight."
"Wow, uh, okay." Nova paused, taken back by the sudden shift in Theo's voice. "Let's go, then."
Nova hopped up onto Move Along's back. He promptly took off, leaving the area as fast as possible.
"You're really going to have to explain what just happened to me when we get back, you know!" Nova yelled over the wind.
"I will!" Move Along yelled back. "For now, just trust me on this!"
Back on the street Theo and Nova had just left, the armored man finally broke out of the rubble, making his way out onto the road only to find that his target was long gone.
"Libra's not going to be happy about this." The man spoke flatly. "But I suppose it's just a minor setback as long as Orion doesn't find out."
The man picked his shotgun up off the road where he had dropped it upon being sent flying and placed it onto a hook on his back before walking off into the night as if he had never been there to begin with.
"So that's the gist of it." Theo finished explaining.
He and Nova had made it back to the Plumber base without any further trouble (save for Pyros puking several times on the ride over). Pyros had been placed in a containment cell, still nowhere close to being conscious of his surrounding.
"I see." Alpha replied. "This is...worrying, to say the least."
"Geez, I had no idea you were in the middle of all that ten years ago." Nova said to Theo. "I thought you were just like in the area or whatever."
Alpha raised an eyebrow at this, which went unnoticed by Theo and Nova.
"Something's bugging me, though." Theo scratched the back of his neck in thought. "The guy wearing armor referred to Pyros as a 'rogue'. You have any idea what he meant by that?"
"I believe I do, actually." Alpha began to reply. "The term 'rogue' is used to denote-"
"A sloppy job by a goddamn hack, that's what it denotes!"
The three looked around for whoever had interjected themselves into the conversation, finding a short orange alien wearing a labcoat with a three-part compound eye taking up most of his face approaching from the tube elevator.
"Who are you?" Theo asked.
"This is Xr. Nullamor." Alpha sighed deeply, obviously not looking forward to the upcoming conversation. "He's the inventor of the Modular Genetics system that allows specialized hybrids to be created in the first place."
"I'm also the guy your dad got the DNA Card transformation system from when he built your fancy watch there." Nullamor gestured towards Theo with a fairly short arm.
"Oh yeah, I remember him mentioning you here and there." Theo replied. "Mostly in rants, come to think of it."
"Glad to hear he's the same as ever, then!" Nullamor laughed. "At any rate, you were asking about rogues?"
"Yeah, what's the deal with that?" Nova asked.
"It's simple, really." Nullamor began. "As the inventor of the Modular Genetics system, I keep track of all uses of my technology using an extensive database. Theoretically speaking, every legitimate modern hybrid should be in said database, but certain hybrids have been popping up lately that just aren't for whatever reason. We refer to those hybrids as 'rogues'."
"Okay, that much makes sense." Theo said. "But why would this guy know the term?"
"Gossip, probably." Nullamor shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Point is it sounds like he's got something to do with whoever's been making them."
"Hold on a second, how did you hear everything we just talked about?" Nova asked. "You definitely weren't here for most of it."
"I'm psychic." Nullamor answered in a rather smug tone. "I don't need to be in the same as someone to eavesdrop on them."
"That sounds like it gets annoying for everyone else involved."
"It does." Alpha grumbled. "That's why he's so fond of it."
"Right on the money!" Nullamor cackled. "At any rate, I was on my way over here to check if this one you just captured was a rogue or not, but I guess that's a redundant question now."
"Yes it is." Alpha said. "So you may leave."
"Nah, I think I'll stick around for now." Nullamor replied. "I still have to repair the ridiculous genetic mess that passes for hybridization when the rogue wakes up, and since my presence happens to bother the hell out of you, I'd say staying here is a win-win. For me, I mean."
Alpha groaned and turned back to Theo and Nova.
"Alright, you two are done for the day." She said wearily. "You're free to stop in any time to use the training facilities, but you won't need to come in until another case comes up."
"Got it." Theo nodded, with Nova following suit.
The two of them got on the transport elevator and exited the base, leaving Alpha alone with Nullamor.
"So..." Nullamor started. "Are you going to tell him, or should I?"
"Tell him what?" Alpha asked.
"About the Delta thing." Nullamor rolled his multiple pupils as if it should've been obvious. "If you're making him fight and he doesn't find out beforehand, it's really going to bite you in the ass."
"That's up to his parents, not me." Alpha turned away from Nullamor and walked back to the monitor setup. "Unlike you, I don't stick my nose in other people's business if I don't have to."
"Ah yes, leaving this sensitive subject in the ever-capable hands of Isaac Logical." Nullamor nodded mockingly. "Because God knows he's a fantastic people person."
"I get your point, but I'm a machine and you're a sociopath." Alpha retorted. "What makes you think we could handle it better?"
"We're not Isaac Logical."
There was a brief pause.
"...I wish I could argue with you on that."