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I’m disappointed that I’m basically the same guy I was when I was 11. Or, am I? He was kind of awesome.

  • Mr. Brightside

 

3 Weeks Later - Doc-Danger - Asteroid Belt

We’re floating casually through the asteroid belt that hosts the Thorn Warper Party. The Rumor is in one of the asteroids. We warped directly inside it. We’re spying on another asteroid that we think has a Halfman in it.

“I don’t like it.” I say. “Why’s he being sneaky? They’re never sneaky. I think it’s a trap.”

We’ve been blundering into a lot of traps lately. Fucking Halfmen are on to our bullshit. It has not been fun.

“If it’s a trap, it’s pretty fucking subtle.” says High Roller. “It was really hard to find this guy.”

That’s the other problem we’re having. Halfmen attacks traditionally take days. Part of what makes them so horrific is how long they last. Since we started hunting them, their attacks have gotten shorter. Now they’re mauling parties in minutes. We need a way of finding Halfmen before the attacks start. So, High Roller pulled some new True Sight tricks from Pandora’s Sandbox. This is their first test.

“Alright, I’ll hold him.” says Fox. “Who wants to chop him?”

“Uh. I guess it’s my turn.” says High Roller. “Ready when you are.”

The Halfman’s asteroid freezes at a quantum level, then gets split in half with a warp portal. It happens very fast.

We wait.

I shrug. “Guess it wasn’t a trap.”

Hundreds of Halfmen warp around The Rumor.

“Fuck.”

They come in swinging. The Rumor’s crushed, torn aside. I get kicked, tackled, punched, thrown clear. I’m taking hits, dodging portals, trying to stay real. I crush any fucker that comes close but there’s always two to take his place. I’m getting mobbed.

Grrrr. Fuck these guys.

I grab one and whip him around like a whisky drunk with giant nunchucks. I clear a little space, warp around the battle, smashing fools, looking for my crew. I’d like to bug out, regroup, but I know Fox won’t run, so I keep smashing.

I get eyes on my crew. We’re all still swinging. Actually, we’ve picked up a teammate. Dude in a sleek mechsuit, warping hard, slashing Halfmen with a large warp-sword. Goddamn. It’s a Stinger.

Stingers are Warper knight errants. They attack Halfmen, provoke them into chasing them, then run like hell, to give other Warpers time to escape. Go fast, die slow. That’s the plan. Mind you, slow is relative. Ix the Great ran for 22 seconds. Saved a trillion lives.

Stinger slashes a couple dozen Halfmen in a flurry of warping beyond anything I’ve seen. Then he bugs out, dozens of Halfmen in pursuit.

“Wait!” I yell. “Come back!”

Shit! He’s not coming back. Fuck it. I call up Piratebot. “Protect Stinger.” He nods, peels out.

I glance back at the wreckage of the Rumor. The Man in the Mask looks back at me. Yeah, that’s gonna come back to bite me in the ass. I’d like to worry about it, but there’s about forty Halfmen punching me in the face.

“That’s it.” says Eve.

Thousands of coin sized warp portals start spinning around her, shredding the Halfmen attacking her. Soon the mini portals are screaming all over the asteroid field. The Halfmen are blocking most of them, but not enough. They’re annihilated by her disco of destruction.

God damn. If I wasn’t already fucking her, I’d be trying to.

My crew comes together. We’re all okay. I wrap a new Rumor around us. The Thorn Warper Party has cut and run. Good thinking on their part. I strain my True Sight looking for Stinger, but I get nothing. I call Piratebot. Nothing. Dang.

High Roller calls up a couple beer. Tosses me one. I drain it.

“We can’t keep doing this.” I say. “These fights are getting harder. They’re going to kill us soon.”

“8 trillion lives. That’s how many we’ve saved in the last 6 weeks.” says Fox.

“We haven’t saved those people. They’re going to kill us, then they’ll kill all the people we saved, and then they’ll kill anybody who ever heard of us and dreamed of a better future.” I say. “That’s the path we’re on.”

“I agree.” says Fox. “We need to give Warpers the 3 Cosmic Powers.”

I shake my head. “Then we’ll be fighting Halfmen and the Space Gods.”

Fox laughs. “Where do you think the Halfmen are coming from? We’re already fighting Space Gods. We’re just being pussies about it.”

“So we start an all out war between the Warpers and the Space Gods? Ever think that they may not want that? Who are we to make that decision for them?” I sigh. “This is a mistake. We’re going to make their lives worse. We’re going to get them all killed.”

“You think these attacks are about making a time machine. What do you think happens once the Halfmen get a time machine?” Fox finishes his beer. “The Warpers are already at war. They’re already losing. Doomed. Us helping them is the only chance they have.”

Eve nods. High Roller looks sad. The Man in the Mask watches silently.

Fuck.

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Doctor Zero

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