Saturday, June 24, 2017

Flurry: Lost in Space (Part XI)

Click here for the previous installment...

As Serkan was waiting to listen to Ace’s story about meeting Quivira a long time ago, something took him by the arms. In literally the blink of an eye, he was transported to a different place entirely. He was suddenly standing in a jungle. Or a forest. Or whatever you call it, it definitely wasn’t Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Standing before him was a man. “Who are you?”
“My name is Mario. Mario Matic.”
“What do you want with me?”
“We need your help.”
“I just got done helping someone, which was a tangent from trying to help someone else, which was already a tangent from trying to help an entire city.”
Mario stared at him with his mouth half-open. “I don’t know what that means. I’m salmon. I was sent to retrieve you so you can help my friend. That you were in the middle of something important was completely out of my control.”
Serkan took in a deep breath and prepared to officially accept the mission. He had never planned on traveling through time, but once he did, he at least hoped that the once would be it. This was getting to be a little inconvenient.
“If they let me take you back to the exact moment you left,” Mario continued, “I will. We really do need you, though. You’re the only one who can do it.”
Serkan exhaled. “Very well. What am I meant to do?”
Mario was hesitant to explain. “First, you should know that we’re in the future. I’ve not been authorized to reveal the exact date, but I am allowed to reveal that we are on a different planet as well.”
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Some people can jump through time, others teleport, and some can even go to other planets. It’s this whole thing. I just don’t want you freaking out if you see a strange animal you’ve never heard of, or something.”
“I guess I’ll...thanks for warning me.” He was this close to just giving up on everything. It was so overwhelming. “Who’s your friend?”
“That’s the most complicated part.”
“There’s something more complicated?”
“You’ve met this person already.”
“All right. Who?”
“He will be happy to see you. We’re hoping you can sort of talk him off the ledge. He’s become...lost.”
“Why aren’t you telling me his name?”
“It’s Reaver. Horace Reaver. A future Horace Reaver.”
“Oh.” He couldn’t come up with a better response. This wouldn’t be the first time he met a future version of Ace, but it would be the first time he realized it.
“He’s been dealing with a lot. I mean, we all have, but he and I have had it the worst here. At least, out of everyone left. I don’t have a good enough memory.” Mario went on after a pause, “Of course, the Horace you meet will have knowledge of what happens in your personal future, but he’s been doing this long enough to know that he shouldn’t tell you too much about what happens to you. We ask that you respect that, and reciprocate it. The events on this island, in this time period, are very sensitive. You can’t go ‘round altering them, which means when you return to your own time, you can’t say anything to your boyfriend...or to anyone else, for that matter.”
“I understand. Just one question.”
“Where’s the future Serkan?” He guessed.
“Yeah. That’s...that’s what I was gonna ask.”
“I can’t tell you that,” he answered matter-of-factly.
“All right,” Serkan said. He didn’t know what we was going to find. He was just learning about a new side of his Ace in 2024. Having to speak with someone who had been through God knows how much more bullshit in this world...and apparently the next, was going to be difficult, at best. Future Horace Reaver. How much time had it been since their lives in mid-early 21st century, and how much had Ace changed? More importantly, how was Serkan going to be able to help? Perhaps even more importantly, though, how would he react to seeing his old boyfriend? Yes, by nothing more than Mario’s few words, and his tone of voice, Serkan suspected that sometime in the future, he would die before Ace. That was the only logical explanation for why he was brought in, rather than that version of himself. However, he had agreed to avoid learning too much about his future, and he was going to do his best to honor that commitment to temporal integrity. “Take me to him.”
Mario took him through the jungle and onto the beach. They were soon at some sort of encampment. In the distance, he could see a woman presumably fishing in the ocean. A guy he didn’t know was tending to a fire with Lincoln Rutherford, who seemed both completely out of place, and at home, at the same time. A second woman wasn’t technically in their way in this wide open space, but it was clear that they needed to speak with her first before they could go see Horace.
“He understands the rules?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am.”
“I’m doing this as a favor. The psychological consequences of these experiences are meant to be part of those experiences. I shouldn’t be interfering with the process, but Mateo has...rubbed off on me.” She sort of trailed off in what looked like a private existential crisis. “And so has Horace. So I am allowing him to be here, but I can order you to take him away at any time, and I will exercise that power at my will.”
“I understand,” Mario responded. “And he does understand what he can and cannot know.”
“Okay.” With that, she disappeared.
“Come on,” Mario said. “He should be in the new privacy hut. Be gentle, he doesn’t know you’re coming.”
They walked up to this sorry excuse for a hut. Mario stayed behind while Serkan entered alone. Horace was sitting on a surprisingly well-made bench, carving a piece of wood with a pocket knife. He looked up and stared into Serkan’s eyes for a moment, all but confirming Serkan’s suspicions that the Serkan he knew was dead. Then he just chuckled once. “They send you here to get me back on track?”
“Are you off track?” Serkan asked, trying to channel every fictional therapist he had ever seen.
“I’m more myself now.”
“What happened?”
He stopped whittling. “I don’t believe I’m allowed to tell you that.”
Serkan said nothing.
“Eh, whatever.” He sported an exaggerated shrug, and broke eye contact so he could focus on the wall. He continued to slice into the piece of wood, but no longer had any drive to mold it into any particular shape. “Keanu is dead. I killed him, Mal. Killed him with a sword. How weird is that?” Yeah, he was not doing well.
“Why did you have to do that?”
To anyone else, that could sound like an accusation, but Horace would know that it was a legitimate question. “He had our daughter. He was gonna kill her this time, Serkan. He really was, he was gonna do it. If, by some miracle, he had failed, he would have found another way at another time. I had to end it.”
“But could one of his powerful friends not just go back in time and stop it from happening?”
He shook his head many more times than necessary. “Not this time. I was...not the way I did it.”
“I believe,” Serkan began, trying to find his words. “I believe they brought me up here expecting me to try and bring you back; to tell you that killing is wrong, and that there’s always another way.”
He finally looked back at him. “But you’re not gonna do that?”
“I also believe they underestimate our love for Paige.”
He nodded. “They always do.”
“I can’t imagine how you feel about her now, after all this time. For me it’s only been a year since we met her, but you’ve built a life around her. Honestly, for as bad as I expect it to get, I can’t wait.”
He smiled through the tears. “It’ll get pretty bad. If I can give you one piece of advice, though, it’s to not underestimate her. To say she’s precocious would be an understatement.”
Serkan pulled up a chair so they could sit in silence together for a little while. Serkan continued once he had thought of something useful. “Horace, I’m not here to make sure you’re okay. I know you’re not. I’m here to make sure that you’ll be okay.”
“I can’t promise that.”
“If you killed Keanu to protect Paige, then she must be somewhere around here, right?”
He glanced towards the door. “If you didn’t see her on your way here, they’re probably purposely keeping her hidden.”
“Then hold onto her. Use her as a rock. I don’t know exactly what went down that made you take up the sword—or even where you got your hands on a sword—but I do truly hope you had no other choice.”
“I didn’t.”
“Just...don’t use that as an excuse to go back to how Lincoln Rutherford thinks you once were.”
He laughed knowingly.
“Let her be there for you. She’s family. Whenever you’re worried about your...dark passenger, for lack of a better term, picture her face.”
“That’s what I used to do with you.”
“I know.”
“Do you know why I don’t, why I can’t, anymore?”
“I have a pretty good idea.”
“What if that’s not enough?”
Serkan slid down to his knees, hobbled over to Horace, and took hold of his hands. “If you end up doing something like this again, they’re gonna pull me out of time so I can drag your ass back out of the darkness. That may sound like a gift, but it’s gonna get us into some paradoxical trouble. Plus, it’s going to take precious time from me that I could be spending with a Horace I still know for a fact still listens to me.” It might have been harsh, but it was exactly what Horace needed to hear, and Serkan honestly believed it.
“Okay,” Horace replied.
“Good,” Serkan said, standing up. “I can’t be your crutch forever, so I’m gonna go home now.”
“That’s fair.” He stood up to take Serkan in what was obviously a much-needed embrace. Neither one of them really wanted to let go, and eventually, Horace started nuzzling Serkan’s neck.
“I should go,” Serkan said.
“What?” Horace asked, nuzzling deeper.
“I should be getting back to my boyfriend.”
I’m your boyfriend.”
“Not yet.” They both laughed. It was then that they knew that it wasn’t going to end like this. Serkan hadn’t gotten any in days, and he didn’t even want to hazard a guess as to how long it had been for Horace. So they took the opportunity to sleep together on an uncomfortable wooden hut floor.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Microstory 610: Body of Water Turns Red

Destruction of an Infidel Place of Worship

After learning the news of the Pantheonist tribe meeting house’s destruction, a group of overzealous Lightseers took it upon themselves to instigate the tenth taikon. Unfortunately, these people either did not carefully read The Book of Light, or they failed to interpret it properly. The Book states that a body of water will inexplicably turn red, not just that it will turn. Thousands of years ago, such an event would have been considered witchcraft by our ancestors. They would have been baffled by something like that happening. Through science and discovery, however, we could propose a number of explanations. Actually, water changes into unusual colors all the time. It can come from pollution, algae waste, or maybe just a trick of the light on a planet orbiting two stars. And, of course, technology could accomplish something like this, which is what the overzealots ultimately used, the details of which are unimportant. A quick survey of an unnamed pond on an outer planet called Roepl made it clear to scientists and taikon verifiers that the water’s transformation was completed using purely artificial means, which did not qualify. As the verifiers were leaving the system, disappointed by a seeming failure, they noticed something strange happening on the surface of Roepl’s moons. They landed to find that Lake Wurveol had turned red as well. They assumed this to be another attempt by the same group of overzealots, or some other group, but they were obligated to investigate either way. What they found perplexed them to no end. Even to this day, no one knows how the lake turned red. No microorganism, or dye, or light trickery could explain the phenomenon. It just was red—blood red—with no apparent reason behind it. Any water removed from the site would return to a clear state, but as long as it was within the confines of the source, it remained in this new and incomprehensible state. The tenth taikon actually was realized on that day, which allowed for the eleventh to be as well.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Microstory 609: Destruction of an Infidel Place of Worship

Replace Eido Andrea

This may come as a surprise to some Lightseers in the galaxy, but there are those who not only don’t believe in the Book of Light, but actually believe in some other thing. There are, in fact, a number of religions in Fostea that conflict with Lightseed teachings. Some have adopted belief systems from foreign worlds, others are holdouts from the religions of old, and a few even take their cues from Earthan traditions. What is strongly considered the worst of these religions is called Pantheonistry. It is also probably the strangest. Pantheonistry teaches that there is only one person in the entire universe. This single entity has been, and will be, reincarnated quadrillions of quadrillions of times, throughout history. This means that every person you encounter is actually you, either earlier in your total history...or your future. You are supposedly just one life of the multitude. The entity—which goes by many names, including Panthos—will never be able to find peace until it experiences literally every single person’s life. Pantheonistry was retained from the old worlds, but has been altered to better fit in with Fostean culture. Yet it is still very much unlike Lightseed. Fostean Pantheonistry rejects the idea that there is one entity, but instead that there are at least two, and as many as thousands. These entities are constantly clashing with each other, which is meant to explain anything from war to personal opposition. This version of Pantheonistry encourages people to find something called a “tribe” which hopefully only includes other individuals that are reincarnations of their particular primary entity. Of course, in our great galaxy, we do not discourage anyone from finding like-minded friends, but most non-Pantheonists would agree that this theoretical connection is not enough. The fact of the matter is that these Pantheonists are helping people for irrational reasons, under the belief that they are somehow the same, when really it’s just a clever disguise for charity, A few dozen tribes have been formed so far, and unfortunately, the faith is growing, which means that the number of them will only increase. The good news is that we have at least one fewer of them to deal with than we did before. The meeting house of one tribe (its name unimportant) was effectively destroyed, which excellently fulfilled the requirements for achieving the ninth taikon.

Body of Water Turns Red

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Microstory 608: Replace Eido Andrea

Trap the Dam of Cerelune

The Sacred Savior, Sotiren knew that he would not be able to manage the entirety of the galaxy himself. For he was humble, wise, and aware of his own limitations. There were five star systems he deemed to be the most important, and would be central to galactic activity. He chose these because each carried with them exactly three habitable planets. Though they are referred to as the “central” worlds, they are actually nowhere near each other. And so he took from his followers, and appointed eleven eidos to protect his interests distantly. Over the course of the taikon, these will all need to be replaced by new eidos. Though the central planets have been under the rule of one person, group, or another since the beginning, there has been no singular vision since the time of the eidos. This is not a mistake; it is by design. The whole purpose of moving to this galaxy was so that our people could live their lives without being interfered with by some sort of unifying government. The only reason the eidos existed in the first place was so that we would not lose sight of what we wanted, and didn’t fall into the same traps that earlier cultures have. We sprouted from a dirty communist society, and many of us fear every day that we will ultimately turn back to this. It was foretold that a small group of irritants would arrive in Fostea one day and attempt to revert us back to a time when all men were equal; when we just lived in the dirt, like animals. We have so far been unable to hold them back, for their silver tongues are thick and convincing. What we need now are a new set of eidos to protect us from these foreigners. The new Eido Andrea was chosen from the House of Ulaire to fulfill this purpose.

Destruction of an Infidel Place of Worship

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Microstory 607: Trap the Dam of Cerelune

A Virgin’s Child by Sacred Savior

In order to travel to other star systems within any practical period of time, you have to use the simplex dimensions. These are filled with energy, matter, and compressed space. They allow faster-than-light travel, while normal three-dimensional space will not. They are natural, conquered, but still mysterious. We do not yet know where all of their energy comes from, for the origins of the universe do not adequately account for it. But we accept it, because these dimensions are useful. You can even accelerate the speed of travel by dematerializing passengers and cargo with machines known as Nexa. No one knows exactly where these machine first came from, but they have been found in every galaxy thus far, and replication is fairly straightforward. And they still use simplex dimensions, for they are the only things capable of interstellar travel...except for one other thing. Interversal Conduits, otherwise known as invercons, and commonly referred to as “wormholes” can do the same thing. Unfortunately, invercons are microscopic at best, flash and burn out in seconds at most, and are always unstable. The only practical use for them took place thousands of years ago. When man was first trying to seek out life on other planets, data bursts were sent through invercons, which would open randomly on the other end, hopefully near another civilization. This actually worked a couple of times before galactic mapping became a more realistic means of outreach. Still, no one has managed to find a way to enlarge, stabilize, and maintain an invercon long enough to transport matter. The endeavor has been largely abandoned. Yet, even through these limitations, life finds a way. It has been hypothesized that the Dam of Cerelune’s species somehow evolved the ability to make use of invercons to escape massive numbers of predators. She seems to be the last of her kind, and all attempts at capture have been futile, until now. While recovering from her impregnation, Sacred Mother of Light, Marilesse Lyons was sitting by the Yulven Ice Fields when the Dam of Cerelune suddenly appeared from an invercon. With one touch, Marilesse managed to break the dam’s ability to escape. She remains on Lyon’s home planet of Yrosfulh today, as a family pet, ready to welcome the arrival of the child of Sacred Savior.

Replace Eido Andrea

Monday, June 19, 2017

Microstory 606: A Virgin’s Child by Sacred Savior

The Return of Peter Fireblood

Each taikon was written independently. In few places will you find it said that one taikon necessarily informs another. We’ve now learned that each one has been ultimately made possible by the one before, but this is not explicitly stated in the Book of Light. A major exception to this has to do with Peter Fireblood. The Book makes it quite clear that he, and only he, is capable of accomplishing the sixth taikon. He must impregnate a young virgin with the seed of the Sacred Savior. Obviously this is referring to Sotiren, whose body was only recently recovered from interstellar space. Since the Sacred Savior has been dead for centuries, his body no longer carries with it the ability to conceive a child. Fortunately, this is no longer a necessary component of conception. Through the miracle of science, it is possible to generate a baby using more sophisticated ways of mixing genetic material. Nowadays, it is possible to be born of two men, two women, more than two parents, or even just one person. Yes, by recombining the DNA of the progenitor, an entirely new scion can be created. Artificial gestation technology exists along with these methods, but this would not be allowed for the taikon. A girl below the age of majority must become pregnant by the genetic remnant of the Sacred Savior, and Peter Fireblood must perform the procedure, and he must perform it somewhere near the Yulven Ice Fields, for whatever reason. A number of girls were chosen to apply for the position of Sacred Mother. The Book of Light does not specify how to narrow down the contestants, but they did not have to do that anyway. The most  recent candidate was none other than the younger sister of Katafar Lyons, the woman who was sacrificed for the second taikon. When Peter Fireblood’s acolytes saw Marilesse Lyons on the list, they knew that she had to be the one. Her presence only fueled their belief in the truth. Marilesse, of course, agreed to the procedure, and things could continue.

Trap the Dam of Cerelune

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 17, 2132

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the 2017 table of contents.

At the moment, it seemed to be nearing the noon hour of 2132, and the three captives had yet to see any sign of their jailers. All they had to look at were their cell bars, and a cave wall. Mario was trying to sleep, Horace was meditating, and Mateo was literally twiddling his thumbs. He had already tried some meditating techniques that Future!Leona had taught him to help him recover from The Cleaner’s horrific memory implants. This time, they weren’t doing any good. He was starving, yes, but their biggest problem was that they didn’t have any water. They would soon die of dehydration. Something had to be done. This thought apparently psychically transferred to Horace, who suddenly broke his meditation, and started banging on the bars like a maniac. Mario shot up from the ground, ready to fight any oncomers. Mateo pulled back and unsuccessfully hid in the corner.
“What the hell are you doing?” Mario cried.
“Something new. What we’ve been doing has not helped us, so I’m just changing things up.” Then he started screaming and banging his hands on the bars again.
“That’s not gonna do any good!” Mario argued.
“Can’t hurt!”
“You don’t know that.”
He just went back to making as much noise as he could. And, as luck would have it, it actually did help them. They could hear a voice in the distance, but drawing closer. “This way, Lee! Keep up!”
“I’m not a runner!” the second one replied. It was Leona. “I’m a thinker!”
“Are you callin’ me dumb!”
“No, just fast!”
Two women appeared from around the corner and smiled. The one he didn’t recognize smiled. “Thank you for the alarm. This place is a freaking maze. Even I was getting tired.”
“Slip, holy crap!” Horace said to her. Yet another person he knew from his past.
Leona ran up and hugged Mateo through the bars as best she could. “I finally found you. Christ, what trouble are you in this time?”
“How long have you been on Earth?”
“Just ‘bout a year,” she answered.
“You’ve met some friends.”
“Yeah, that’s just this thing.”
Horace and, uhh...Slip were continuing their own conversation. “How did you get to this time period?” Horace asked.
“Ashlock shot me through. I can’t stay long.” She then looked at Mateo. “Don’t worry, Matty. We’ve already broken Leona’s tether, so she doesn’t have to revert back to my time period.”
“I don’t know that what means,” Mateo said, “but thank you.”
“Do you have a way to get us out of here?”
“The cells, or Easter Island?” Slip asked. “Doesn’t matter...yes, both.” She took a doorknob from her bag.
“The Escher Knob,” Horace said, relieved.
“I couldn’t find the Card.”
“That would have helped us find Paige, but at least we can break out.”
Slip placed the knob against the lock on the cell, which magically opened it up, with no apparent effort. She then did the same for Mario’s and Mateo’s cells. “Let’s get going,” she suggested.
“Have you seen Tauno and Keanu?” Horace asked as the five of them were jogging down the cave corridors.
“No, but we’ve see a couple of the others. Apparently they’ve set up shop here. The powers that be are not exactly happy about it.”
“Does anyone have any idea where we’re going?” Mario asked as the voice of reason.
“I usually just keep running ‘til I find what I’m looking for,” Slip replied.
“We have an idea,” Leona clarified. “Slipstream, don’t freak them out.” Oh, so that was her full name. Or at least it was her full nickname.
They heard voices down the corridors again, this time from behind. “They’ll have no hope to find the exit,” one of them said. “I can pick up their trail!”
“Crap, we have to get out of here now,” Mateo said, his concern about their pursuers causing him to fall behind.
“Mateo,” came a voice from his left. It was none other than Juan Ponce de León. He was pointing towards a turnoff to Mateo’s right. “That way.”
“Guys!” Mateo called up to them, not bothering to ask Juan where he came from, or questioning his credibility. “Follow me!”
They were reluctant to follow, but did so anyway. It was clearly the right choice when torchlight revealed the shadows of a horde of people, now trying to catch up to them by going the wrong direction.
“Walk softly,” Slipstream whispered, “stay quiet.”
They kept moving at a decent pace, but not as quickly, and definitely not as loudly. They came to a three-way intersection, and decided to take a left, but then Keanu and Tauno appeared from behind, as if having been waiting for them to pass by.
“You’ll never get out of here,” Keanu said with a grin, and a gun.
“I could have done better,” Tauno claimed, “but this is a pretty good maze.”
“A human weapon?” Horace said. “Really?”
Slipstream smiled back. “Do you remember what I used to do for a living?”
“Who are you again?” Keanu asked her rhetorically and insensitively.
With no further warning, she used her kung fu ninja skills to disarm Keanu before Mateo had a chance to blink. She then finished the job but planting him on the ground, and knocking him out cold. Tauno just stood there like a deer in the headlights, unable to decide how to escape, even though he had shown himself capable of opening doors the likes of which Saga and Vearden once used. Slipstream took him down too. “Felt good to get back to my roots,” she said when it was done.
“Disarming people?” Mateo asked.
“That’s exactly what she did,” Horace answered for her.
They then turned around, only to find themselves face to face with Keanu and Tauno once more. The other two versions of them were still lying on the ground. “Quantum replication,” Keanu said, without a gun. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
“How many of you are there?” Leona asked accusatorily.
“Enough,” Tauno replied. Three more Taunos, and two more Keanus revealed themselves from their various hidey-holes, like they had rehearsed their grand entrance.
But then all they could hear was flesh being torn apart...and all they could see was blood splattering all over the walls. An attacker was making their way through the Keanu-Tauno legion. The Warrior stood over their bodies, and began wiping the blood off his sword; a different one than he had used to steal other people’s time powers. “Not enough to contend with me,” he said, like a B-movie action hero.
No one knew what to say.
The Warrior looked only at Mateo. “I have given up killing, like you asked. But these are...” He struggled with his explanation.
“Let’s call it a cheat day,” Mateo said.
The Warrior just dipped his head in respect. When they could hear even more pursuers—probably another group of duplicates—he raised his sword and ordered them to leave. Mateo didn’t like killing, but he appreciated the assist. They needed to find Paige, and they needed to escape. They couldn’t be picky about who helped them do that, or how they did it.
They kept jogging, hoping to find their way back to the amphitheatre stage, which was their best shot of somehow leaving the island. They came upon another group of Keanus and Taunos, but there were other replicated people with them; those that Mateo didn’t recognize. Vearden appeared from a door to what looked like an office, with two women. “I’m not the Vearden you knew,” he said to Mateo and Leona. “I’m from this reality.”
The horde was frightened, having either never heard of Vearden and his partners, or having heard enough about them that they didn’t want to start a fight.
“Come quietly,” one of the women said. “We can either take you to an exile universe, or to a hell universe. Either way, you’re leaving these lovely people alone.”
They actually agreed, despite likely having some ability to fight back.
Immediately following that, Slipstream stopped short. “Ashlock’s calling me back.”
“Can’t you take a message?” Mateo asked.
“He has control, and if he’s doing this now, it means he needs to transport someone else. He can only do one at a time.”
An invisible force took hold of her at the stomach, and pulled her away from them. She didn’t just enter a portal, or fade away. She just grew smaller and smaller until disappearing completely.
“Come on,” Mario said. “Paige still needs us.”
“Yes,” Horace agreed.
They kept jogging. Every once in awhile, Juan would appear to direct them where to go. Darko randomly showed up once to fight a couple of enemy combatants, but he didn’t act like he knew any of his friends. He must have been from the past, before being trapped on Tribulation Island, and was just guessing which side to pick.
At last, they were at the end of their journey, back in the amphitheatre. Paige was waiting for them, but was trapped between two Keanus, and two Taunos. The rest of the auditorium was completely full of their duplicates. Most of them appeared to be Keanu alternates, though. It looked like the boss fight in the third Matrix movie, except that there could be no fight, because none of them was equipped to handle this many people. What they needed was a miracle.
As Horace tried to step forward, the Keanu holding onto Paige’s collar tightened his grip, and waved Horace back. “Uh-uh-uh. No closer. I want you to watch this, though. I want you see her end. Then I’m gonna duplicate from a quantum reality. And I’m gonna kill her too. Then I’m duplicate her again..and again..and again..and again..and  again.” He pointed to all his alternate versions. “I’m going to create and kill as many Paige’s as there are Me’s in this room right now. And only once I kill them all will I let you die. Slowly.”
“Your beef is with her,” Horace yelled to him, confusing his friends. “So if you wanna hurt her...hurt me.”
“Interesting proposition, the Keanu said. “But no.” He tightened his grip once more, and lifted a knife from its sheath.
A blur raced out of the exit corridor, down the steps, and onto the stage. Before them was the speedster Horace and Serkan already knew, plus Guard Number Two. As what was likely always, the speedster didn’t say a word. But Guard Number Two addressed the whole crowd while holding a very large futuristic gun. His voice carried throughout the entire amphitheatre, even though he wasn’t using a microphone, much in the same way a girl named Ellie had in the Colosseum replica during Mateo’s and The Cleanser’s Uluru battle. “My name is Hubert Epifanio Kolby, but may know me as the guy who keeps sending you and your kind to hell! You are all in violation of the Babylonian Treaty! Either the primary versions can step up and extinguish all their respective replications, or we can do this the hard way! From my end...the fun way! We at Beaver Haven do not possess a criminal facility capable of holding all of you at once, so you can either line up, or I can shoot you with my apportation gun where you sit! No one escapes this, though! No one hurts this woman! And no one hurts any of these fine people!” He gestured to Mateo, Leona, Mario, and Horace. And The Warrior, who had arrived sometime in the middle of Kolby’s speech.
Nobody moved.
Kolby lifted his special gun to his shoulder. “Fun way it is!” He then just started spraying what Mateo just now decided were called time bullets all over the crowd. They tried to run, but the speedster zipped up and down the aisles, forcing them back. Kolby certainly was having fun with this, laughing and smiling in between battle cries. He was barely a quarter of the way through his targets when the remaining bunch disappeared at once, leaving behind only the alternates for his friends.
Kolby looked around, trying to figure what had happened, as did everyone else. Their eyes landed on the Keanu who had been personally holding onto Paige. The Warrior’s sword was sticking through his chin, and out the top of his head. Horace’s hand was still on the handle. Apparently killing the real Keanu automatically deleted all the others from the timestream.
Better-late-than-never Arcadia teleported in and placed her hand on Horace’s shoulder. “It’s over,” she said to him soothingly. “You can let go now.” She then turned to Guard Number Two, which was something Mateo would have a hard time not calling him. “Thank you, Mister Kolby. I can take it from here.”