Fleshwar, Chapter 1: In which, a Mourning Pricy Provinces Almost Starts Trouble.
The sting of sulphur faded from the air as I stepped onto the bridge of the Paradoja Magnifica. Maria Helena sat, hands clasped, overlooking an 8-dimensional navigation chart of the known multiverse. Here and there were red 7-spheres encircling those universes that posed a significant threat to the existence of the one that we of the Temporal Admiralty had termed “the Ring.” Beside her stood the man who called himself Chrono-Gangsta. I didn’t see any other Con-men present, which was concerning. Hopefully they would be coming soon. She looked up at me and I felt entirely unwelcome aboard her vessel- I didn’t blame her. The last time we met, I had told her of my plan to destroy Rahazaria and the billions of Aeon Men swarming it, and use their power to undo all the hard work she had done eliminating the other Marias Helenas. Despite the fact that the Temporal Armada I created was thousands of timeships strong, the only effect I had was drawing OblivAeon’s attention away from Earth to utterly destroy the fleet. That, and killing the few thousands of innocents who were left on Rahazaria.
“Admiral.” she said, coldly, but obviously too distracted by her survey to concern herself with my presence.
“Admiral.” I said suppliantly. “Please consider sparing Reality F-I-0-S-S-R-1-M-93.”
She took a moment to look at her chart and ensure that there was a destruction order on the specified reality. Then she returned her steely gaze to me. “¿Por qué?”
“I know it may not seem like much, but there are people there who can help us.”
“Who? ¿Los niños del carne? Or the Cult of Gloom?”
I sighed. “There are heroes there too!” I pleaded.
“Where are they now, hm? When the multiverse is coming to an end?”
“They’re busy with... internal affairs.”
“Well, since you care so much about this universe, why don’t you go and get them to help by yourself?”
In my growing rage, I had neglected to keep hold of my thoughts. In that moment, as in many others, I had a fit of frenzy. I saw pulsing red as my eyes receded to the inner heavens and I felt my hand shoot out and grip Maria. Oh God, not now... I began to mumble, my voice growing raspy and haggard as my words became clearer. And as my voice grew more certain, my thoughts faded, the pounding imperative of the story growing with each word. And so, like a man possessed, I began to recount the tale of the Fleshwar.
The sunlight filtered through the clouds over Cooltopia. It was, by all accounts, a beautiful day. But that was par for the course- though the story of how had been lost to time, the principality of Cooltopia had, for generations, been more or less an idyllic paradise. Unfortunately, Catherine Cool, current head of state, had no time to enjoy the view today. The Coolness Five had recently been reduced to the Coolness Four by the assassin Equity, and Princess Cool was not about to let him get away with it. Victory‘s last act had been to drive a psychic beacon so bright into her killer that all four of them could feel it. They were currently arriving at the train station- the train had been conveniently delayed by royal decree, so Equity wasn’t going anywhere.
“Is this what it feels like to have psychic powers?” asked Dr. Howard Pound. He had been Cathy’s first choice when she put together this team. He was something of a scientist, always looking to understand the universe. It had been only natural for him to build a mech suit to fight with. Cathy could remember what the first Powerhound suit had looked like- a 8-foot-tall, quadrupedal tank of a suit. He had been slimming it down ever since, and though adding alien liquid metal had gone horribly wrong at first, once Dr. Pound was able to reverse engineer the technology and adapt it to Earth materials, things had turned out okay.
“A coffee stain isn’t the same as a Rembrandt.” replied the target of Dr. Pound’s question. Derek Pathe had been the court astrologer for Cathy’s mother when Cathy was putting the team together. He, too, had been a natural pick- his psychic talents, and especially his ability to enter an astral form and see through the eyes of others, proved invariably useful to the team. And besides, Mind Wanderer was a pretty cool name, and Coolness was what the team was all about.
“As far as I’m concerned, the sooner we get done here, the better.” said Patrick Price. He had been the interesting pick of the bunch- well, him and Elle. They were well-known heroes- Province, the living embodiment of Cooltopia, and Victory, the winged avenger. Cathy hadn’t known either of them personally while assembling the team, but they would clearly fit, and the Cooldom Three seemed to be too few. She had even been the one to start nudging them together, and it was much to her glee when they began dating. She hadn’t known it would end like this- none of them had. And Patrick was broken up over it. He had torn his suit and declared, to the team at least, that from now on, he would be known as Pricy Provinces, because he understood the price of protecting others. Cathy had expected him to be bitter- his girlfriend had been murdered- but he was stricken.
“Just... try to restrain yourself.” Mind Wanderer said softly. He sent out a subtle psychic signal to the team, allowing them to know the extent of his own rage, just so they didn’t think of him as a hypocrite. Pricy Provinces nodded as they entered the station.
The earthly form of Derek Pathe slumped to the ground and the astral form of Mind Wanderer ascended, zipping around the room. Equity’s power worked with eye contact, and his astral form didn’t see so much as sense, so he was able to detect Equity when they had fought before. The other three stayed together, searching on the ground. This part of the station had been evacuated, mostly to avoid having a crowd meet them, and they had expected that Equity would attempt to escape through it. But there was no trace of him. “Something’s not right.” muttered the princess as Derek Pathe returned to his mortal coil. “He should be here. I locked the station down five minutes ago. There’s no way he could have escaped. And I sent a whole team of Gnarly Knights to ensure that he wasn’t trying to hide on a train.”
“Who are we talking about, luv?” the informal British accent of Peter Nought, former Citizen of the Fun. “Because if it’s that creepy, two-tone bloke, we’ve already taken care of him.” Princess Cool rolled her eyes. “I thought your job was to stop unauthorized time travel.” Citizen Peanut nodded. “Yeah, but that’s not our Equity, innit?” Princess Cool paused. For a moment she thought that Victory’s killer might still be at large. But then she realized- Equity was in lockup at Cool Pen. There was no way even he could sneak out of the cell that Howard had designed for him. She cursed at herself under her breath for being too angry to realize what was going on. She looked up, prepared to begrudgingly thank the Wardens, but Pat rushed the Citizen and hoisted him in the air, ready to send a fist into his face.
“I don’t care whose gloomdamn Equity it is! He’s mine, all right? I’m gonna make him pay for what he did to Elle!” Princess Cool watched in horrified shock as the other Wardens solidifed from thin air, as though emerging from nothing. For a moment, she was worried that a fight would break out, but thankfully, Lupus gave a sharp glare to Pricy Provinces, and he let Citizen Peanut down. “I’m sorry. I just...” he began to sob. The Girl with No Name walked over and tried to soothe him as Citizen Butter inspected Peanut to make sure that he was all right. Lupus strolled over to the princess and looked up at her. Citizen Jelly gave a slight chuckle, then tried to suppress it, seeing how uncomfortable it made the others. Then the wolf began to speak.
“We seem to have made a conviction
That intrudes upon your jurisdiction.
We hope that this blunder
Will not tear asunder
Our friendship with unneeded friction.”
Princess Cool assured Lupus that it would be all right, but inside she knew that Patrick was at his breaking point, and that he might do something decidedly uncool to exact revenge against Equity...