(As I recall, this is the first one I wrote. A bit formulaic, maybe, but not too bad, an I say so myself.)

The Story of the Five

Chapter One: Washington, D.C., The Present Day

Scully was at her desk catching up on paperwork when her phone rang.

"Agent Scully, this is Assistant Director Skinner. Could you come up to my office, please?"

As Scully walked into Skinner's office, she was surprised to see that Assistant Director Mulder was there as well. Scully frowned inwardly. Mulder was something of a legend within the Bureau. While he was still a boy, aliens had attempted to abduct his sister, only to be thwarted by the Martian Manhunter. This had set in motion a series of events which had led to the uncovering and defeat of the so-called "Colonist Conspiracy". These events had caused the young Mulder to develop an intense interest in extraterrestrial life and the paranormal in general which had had resulted in him becoming a respected parapsychologist. He had joined the FBI as a profiler, quickly rising through the ranks to his current position. Scully knew little about him personally, except that he was married with a son and two daughters. However, his presence here meant that something unusual was afoot.

Skinner began: "Agent Scully, have you ever heard of Carolyn Faith?" Scully shook her head and Skinner continued. "Carolyn Faith is a Level 2 precog based in Calgary, Alberta. She does occasional work for the Canadian government and is loosely affiliated with an Alberta-based super-hero team called the Canadian Bureau of Crimefighters, using the codename 'The Seer'. At any rate, this morning she contacted the Bureau asking to see you."

"Me?" said Scully, "Why would she ask to see me?"

"That's what we were hoping you could tell us", said Mulder, "Can you think of any reason why she would want to see you?"

"No, sir", replied Scully, "As I said, I've never even heard of her."

"As it happens", said Mulder, "I've run this by the Bureau's in-house precog. He vouched for Faith's reliability, and strongly recommended that you follow up on her request."

Skinner spoke, "Agent Scully, she's asked to see you tomorrow at 4:00 p.m., her time. I've arranged transportation and accommodations for you. I'd like you to find out what she has to say and report back to us."

"Very good, sir," said Scully, "Is there anything else?"

"Only this", said Mulder, "For the last week, psychics across Western North America have reported an elusive sense of 'imminence', of something about to happen. It's possible that this is connected to Ms. Faith's request, so please keep it in mind."

Scully returned home, checking her messages and calling her mother to let her know she'd be away for a day or two. As usual, her mother made less-than-subtle hints that Dana should settle down and get married. Since she couldn't tell her mother the real reason she had little time for romance, Scully had to bear it with as much good grace as she could muster. After she got off the phone, she used her power ring to change from her work clothes into her Green Lantern uniform. She opened the closet where she kept her power battery and began to re-charge her ring, reciting as she did the Oath that Hal Jordan had taught her when he'd passed the ring on to her so many years ago.

"In brightest day, in darkest night,
No evil shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!"

Scully decided that before she flew out to Calgary, she would check to see what info the League had on Carolyn Faith. Flying to the JLA Watchtower, she checked in the Monitor Room. The Flash was on monitor duty.

"Hello, Iris," Scully said, "What's going on - anything I should know about?"

"Oh, hi, Dana", replied the Flash, "Naw, it's awful quiet today, which is fine by me."

"Alright, then", Dana said, "I've got to do some research."

"Sure thing, GL", her friend replied. "Knock yourself out."

In the end, the League files didn't tell Scully much more than she already knew, except that J'Onn had met Faith personally and confirmed her bona fides. Satisfied for the moment, she went back and chatted with the Flash for awhile before returning to her apartment. Switching back to civilian garb, she packed an overnight bag and took a cab out to the airport. Of course, it would've been easier and quicker to fly out using the ring , but sometimes it was best to be seen to be doing things the 'normal' way.

The next afternoon, Scully stood in front of the unprepossessing one-story house that was home to the Seer of Calgary. Her knock on the front door was answered by a fresh-faced, dark-haired girl of about 20 years of age.

"Hi, you must be Agent Scully. I'm Carolyn Faith. C'mon in."

Scully and Faith sat down in a parlor that seemed to take up the whole front half of the house.

"Ms. Faith", said Scully, "I need to ask you - "

"You need to ask", interrupted Faith, "why I asked to see you? The truth is, I didn't. That is to say, I didn't need to see you as Dana Scully. I needed to see you as Green Lantern."

"What?" said Scully, "What makes you think I'm - ?"

Faith interrupted again: "Please, Agent Scully, don't bother. I'm a precog, remember? I had an unusually clear premonition of today's events, which included knowledge of your secret identity. I would've contacted you directly through the League, but the premonition showed me contacting you through the FBI, and I've learned not to try to tamper with these things. Don't worry, Agent Scully, your secret is safe with me. But now, I'd suggest you change into your Green Lantern uniform before my other guests arrive."

"Other guests?" said Scully, "What other guests? Who else did you call here, and why?"

"It's best to tell you all at once", replied Faith, "I do hate telling the same story over and over."

Scully hastily changed into her GL uniform as a knock came at Faith's door. Faith opened the door and her second visitor came into the room.

 

 

Chapter Two: Santa Monica, CA 1938

Popeye the Sailor was itching to get to sea again. He'd agreed to sail Olive Oyl, her brother Castor, and their mutual friend J. Wellington Wimpy to Santa Monica as part of a vacation cruise, but he hadn't anticipated them wanting to stay ashore for two weeks. He was never completely comfortable on land, and shopping with Olive or listening to Castor and Wimpy plot their next treasure hunt bored him silly, so he'd gone for a walk on his own. Bluto wasn't even around to give him a good fight. He was reaching the point where he'd welcome the sight of the Sea Hag, when he suddenly spotted Ham Gravy. Ham had been dating Olive when they'd met Popeye. Eventually, Popeye had won Olive away from Ham, and Ham'd been a long time getting over it. He probably wouldn't be thrilled to see Popeye, but Popeye was that bored. Maybe Ham'd lose his mind and pick a fight with him.

"Ham Gravy!", he called.

Ham turned to Popeye with a look of recognition. Surprisingly he seemed almost happy to see Popeye.

"Hello, Popeye", he said, "How are you?"

"I yam OK," he replied, "And yerself?"

"Oh, fine, fine. Say, do you still see any of the old crowd? Castor? Olive? Wimpy?"

"Yeah", said Popeye, "I yam still seein' Olive, and she, her brother and Wimpy are all here in town. They wants to go to someplace called Skull Island to look for a big monkey."

"That sounds like Castor," said Ham. "Say, Popeye, what say we go find someplace to have a drink?"

Popeye and Ham found a tavern nearby and sat down to talk. Popeye found that without the issue of Olive between them, he and Ham got along well enough. Ham was not such a bad guy after all.

"So, Ham, yer married now?" said Popeye.

"That's right", came the reply, "Janet and I have a two year old boy."

"I has an adoptik son, meself - me little Swee'pea. He's with Olive's parents right now."

"You know, I have to say that there was a time when I really hated you, you know. But now that everything's worked out, I'm happy to find out that you're really an OK guy."

Popeye replied: "Aw, don't be getting' all sedimental on me, Gravy. Seriouskly, though, it's been good seein' you, too. But I really gots to get movin'. Olive and the others will be expectin' me."

"That's fine", said Ham, "I have to get up early myself. Give everyone my best, won't you?"

"I'll do that," said Popeye, as he left the bar. It'd gotten dark out while he'd been in the bar. As he walked back to the hotel he and his friends were staying , he suddenly noticed a hissing sound coming from almost directly above him. He looked up and saw a glowing point of light in the air just above him.

"I ain't had that much to drink!" he thought. Suddenly the light expanded to a circle about six feet across. For a fleeting moment he thought he saw an old white man and a young Chinese woman looking down at him. Then the light turned red and he was sucked up into it. He found himself hurtling through a sort of tunnel that seemed to pulsate with an odd light and echo with a high-pitched whine. Suddenly, the light went out and the whine stopped. After a moment of blackness Popeye found himself dropped out into daylight. After taking a moment to get his bearings, he found himself on the doorstep of an unprepossessing one-story house. He looked around at the neighboring buildings. He definitely wasn't in Santa Monica anymore. It looked like a nice enough residential area, but a few things were odd. Several houses had odd metal dishes attached to them, and the cars he saw didn't look like any he'd ever seen. Next to the doorstep he noticed a green bin filled with newspapers. Most of them were the Calgary Sun, and the most recent were dated September 2003. 2003? He'd heard stories about people who'd claimed to have traveled in time, he'd even met that odd old guy who called hisself "the Doctor" and who claimed to be from the future - could it have happened to him?  And why Calgary?

He decided to try talking to whoever lived in the house. Who knew? If it really was 2003 maybe time travel was as common as bus rides now, and they could have him home in no time at all. His knock was answered by a cheerful-looking young woman.

"Ah, Popeye", she said, "Do come in. I've been expecting you."

She ushered him into a large room. Standing in the room was a masked, red-headed woman in what looked like a green-and-black circus acrobat outfit. His hostess spoke again.

"Popeye, my name is Carolyn Faith, and my other guest here is known as the Green Lantern."

"Green Lantern?" said Popeye, "what kind of a name is that?"

Scully replied: "It's more of a codename, actually. I might ask you what kind of a name "Popeye' is."

"It's the only name I ever had," he replied. He turned again to Faith. "You said you was expectin' me. Did you bring me here?"

"No", said Faith. "But I did know you were coming. You see, Popeye, I'm what we call today a 'precog', what is also sometimes called a 'soothsayer' or a 'seer'. What that means is that sometimes I have premonitions of future events. A lot of the time these premonitions are vague or cryptic. Very rarely, they are extremely clear and well-defined. Yesterday I had one such vision. In it I foresaw the arrival of yourself and the Lantern here, as well some others."

"Others", said Popeye. "What others? I -" He stopped speaking as an unearthly music began to fill the room. "What's that music?"

"I do believe', said Faith, "that that is my next guest arriving."

 

 

Chapter Three: Hyrule, the Time of Legends

Evil was defeated. Good was triumphant. Link was bored. It had been three months since Ganondorf had been defeated. Princess Zelda had been restored to her throne, and he, Link, a mere boy, was now Captain of her Palace Guards, in authority over men, many twice his current age. And yet none questioned his appointment, for he alone had been able to defeat Ganondorf and restore order. Hyrule could now look forward to a long period of peace and prosperity. And Link was bored. He had to admit it: as harrowing as his adventures had been at the time, settling back into a mundane existence had been difficult for Link. He knew the people were better off of course, and he did not wish for any evil to befall Hyrule. And yet as he looked at his future he realized that he'd already peaked. Realistically, Captain of the Palace Guard was as high as someone of his station could hope to rise. So, if he stayed in Hyrule, all he could look forward was doing his current job for as long as he was able. Eventually, he'd find a suitable girl, and start breeding the next generation of elvish heroes.

He thought of looking abroad for adventure. If there was a threat to some neighboring kingdom, Zelda would surely permit him to go fight it, even if only for the purpose of fostering goodwill towards Hyrule in whatever neighbor Link was able to help. But the travelers who carried news and goods to and from Hyrule and its neighbors brought only happy tales of just rulers and contented people. There seemed to be no trouble at all in any of the elvish kingdoms. From Hyrule to Rivendell, and even on into Svartalfheim, there were no reports of tyrants, usurpers, rebels, evil wizards, marauding monsters, or even natural disasters. This was great for elvendom, but not great for a young man seeking adventure.

Link then thought of seeking adventure outside of the elvish kingdoms. If he were to do so, it could only be with Zelda's permission, and he would have to resign his post as Captain of the Guard, for if he were to seek adventure outside of elvendom, he would surely be gone for a very long time, maybe even years.

The next morning, he requested and was granted an audience with the Princess.

"How may we help you today, Captain?" she asked.

"Your Highness", he replied. "I come to ask a favor of you."

"If it is within our power, it shall be yours, young Link", she said, "for we owe you much."

"Highness, I crave permission to resign my post as Captain of the Guard, and to leave Hyrule for an indefinite period of time."

The princess looked at him quizzically. "Are you unhappy in our principality, Link, that you would quit it so? Are your duties so burdensome, that you would give them up?"

Link hastened to reassure her. "Highness, you have honored me as greatly as ever I might have hoped for. I live as prosperously as one of my station could hope to. And as for my duties, 'tis not that they are too heavy, 'tis rather that they are too light."

"Explain."

"That fact is, Your Highness, that after having been so long adventuring, the quiet life is no longer comfortable for me. Having once done great deeds, I have less tolerance for mundane ones."

"We see", said the princess. "In truth, we half-suspected that it would come to this, and we would not have you in our principality discontented. Very well. Our permission is granted. Your assistant Leofric shall assume your duties, and should you ever tire of adventure, know that there is always a place for you here in Hyrule."

Link bowed deeply. "I thank your Highness. This I swear to you: That wheresoever I go, no act of mine shall bring dishonor to your name, or to the name of Hyrule."

The princess smiled at him, the regal mask dropping for a moment. "Farewell, my friend. May fortune favor you, may you find the adventure you seek, and may you forge new legends wheresoever you go."

The next morning Link prepared to leave Hyrule. He took with him the Master Sword, his Hylian shield, his bow and arrows, his boomerang, a supply of hand-held bombs, the Ocarina of Time and some provisions for the road. Leofric accompanied him to the northern border of Hyrule.

"Where will you go, Link?" Leofric asked.

"Into the Mountains of Fordor, for I have never been there. Even if I find no adventure there, I will at least see new lands."

He bid farewell to his friend and proceeded northward on foot. As sundown approached, he saw an old cabin by the side of the trail. He decided to see if whoever lived there would give him lodging for the night. He knocked on the door, and it was answered by the oldest elf Link had ever seen.

"Good evening, traveler, I am Wizen the Old. How may I be of service to you?"

Link replied: "Good evening, sir. I am Link of Hyrule. I go to seek adventure in the Mountains of Fordor. If it's not too much trouble, I wonder if you could offer me lodging for the night?"

"Link, you say?" said the old man, smiling. "Even here in my hermitage, I've heard of you. By all means, do come in. Lodging you shall have, and what food I can provide."

Later, over a surprisingly tasty dinner, Wizen spoke to Link. "You say you seek adventure in the Mountains of Fordor?"

Link nodded in affirmation.

"Alas", the old man said, "I fear I must give you bad news. I know those mountains better than anyone now living, and I assure you that there are no adventures to be had there. They are a barren place and no one lives there, not even any animals large enough to be worth hunting."

Link looked crestfallen.

"However, I do have a possibility. If you are Link of Hyrule, then you possess the Ocarina of Time, do you not?"

Again, Link nodded in affirmation.

"I have some familiarity with it. Believe it or not, more than twice your lifetime ago, I was something of a hero. Perhaps not so different from yourself. At that time, I came into possession of a document that may interest you. Tell me, can you read Old Elvish musical notation?"

"Yes", said Link. "After I acquired the Ocarina, I studied as much music as possible in order to be able to use it as best I could."

"Very wise", came the reply. Wizen pulled out an old piece of parchment. "On this sheet are written the Song of Need and the Song of Return. Play the Song of Need, and you will be transported to a place where a hero such as yourself is needed. Play the Song of Return and you shall be brought back here." He then pulled out an amulet on a chain and handed it to Link. "This is the Amulet of Tongues. Wear it around your neck and you will be able to understand and make yourself understood in any language you may encounter."

Link was touched. "I don't know how to thank you, sir."

"Use them well, my boy, use them well, that's all I ask. Now let's get some sleep."

In the morning, Link ate breakfast with Wizen. Then, donning the amulet, he began to play the Song of Need on the Ocarina of Time. Sure enough, the old man's cabin faded away and Link found himself in a larger room. Standing in front of him was a dark-haired human woman. Behind her was a taller, red-haired woman wearing a mask and what was either an astonishingly ugly human male or a really good-looking troll wearing a sailor suit.

The dark-haired woman spoke: "Greetings, Link of Hyrule. My name is Carolyn Faith. Welcome to my home. My two other guests are Popeye the Sailor-" she indicated the male- "and the Green Lantern." This was the woman.

Link spoke up: "The old man said that the Song would take me someplace a hero was needed. Is this such a place?"

"Indeed it is, Link, indeed it is." There was a knock at the door. "Ah, it seems my next guest is here."

 

 

Chapter Four: Tokyo, Japan, the Present Day

Miki Saegusa hovered three feet off the ground for a full three minutes before allowing herself to fall to the floor. Her telekinesis was improving, although it was still not as developed as her telepathy. She'd had plenty of time to practice both since the death of Destroyah and the elder Godzilla. While she was still a member of the UNGCC*, her duties currently did not keep her especially busy. This was because political squabbling after the Destroyah incident had led the Japanese government to put all daikaiju defense measures for Japan under the authority of the SDF**. The UNGCC continued to operate in Japan, but only in an advisory capacity. She had watched with interest as the newest Mechagodzilla was developed and deployed. She remembered her time as part of the crew of the UNGCC Mechagodzilla, which had been destroyed back in the 1990's. Personally, she didn't think Godzilla could be destroyed or managed, only adjusted to.

She looked at her watch. It was almost lunchtime.

She called out mentally to her colleague and fellow telepath, Meru Ozawa.

Ozawa-san. Have you had lunch yet?

Not yet. I was thinking of Italian. How does Vorelli's sound to you? came the reply.

Great! thought Miki. I'll meet you at reception in ten minutes.

Twenty minutes later, Saegusa and her friend were sitting at a table in Vorelli's, waiting for their food. They gossiped telepathically, exchanging words and images with their minds. Occasionally, one would laugh out loud at a joke the other had made, startling those fellow diners who did not know of their abilities. She supposed it would look odd, two women staring at one another silently and periodically making odd facial expressions or giggling. And unlike non-telepaths, they could continue exchanging thoughts while they ate, even going so far as to mentally transfer the taste impressions of their food. It was an unusual form of non-physical intimacy, and not everyone could handle it. A lot of telepaths went crazy, and others built up impenetrable mental shields to keep others out. Some even ended up becoming gestalt beings. Saegusa had been fortunate to find a friend like Ozawa, who could handle the unusual closeness of telepathy while still maintaining necessary personal boundaries.

Ozawa was telling her friend of a job offer.

I've been offered a position as a special daikaiju liaison to the government of Denmark. It would only be for a year or two. Apparently the Reptilicus population is up again, and they're looking for experienced psychics to help locate them for culling. I've spoken to our director, and he said that there'll always be an opening for me here when the assignment ends. What do you think?

Saegusa replied: I think you should take it. As long as the current political situation holds, the UNGCC is hobbled here in Japan, and Godzilla doesn't attack outside of Japan enough to keep us busy. Maybe by the time you come back things will have blown over.

And what about you, Saegusa-san? her friend asked. Are you happy enough here?

To tell you the truth, Saegusa thought I've been thinking of taking a leave of absence. I don't feel as though we've got the proper facilities here for me to develop my psychic powers to their greatest possible extent. I've heard good things about the Psychic Development Center up in Hokkaido, and I -

Her cell phone interrupted her. A voice came through in heavily-accented Japanese.

"Saegusa-san? This is Carolyn Faith."

Saegusa replied in her own heavily-accented English.

"Faith-san! How good to hear from you again!" Saegusa and Faith had met shortly after the Destroyah incident at a psychics’ conference in San Francisco. They had hit it off well and had stayed in contact ever since.

Saegusa continued: "So, what can I do for you, Faith-san? It's early morning over there, isn't it? I'm guessing this isn't a business call."

"That's right", replied Faith. "The fact is, I had a Level Seven premonition concerning you."

"Level Seven?" said Saegusa.

"Level Seven", said Faith, "And I've never had above a Level Five before. "

"So, what was the premonition about?" asked Saegusa.

"Essentially", came the reply, "I saw you and four other people gathered in the living room of my house, gathered to deal with something important."

"'Something important'?" asked Saegusa. "Like what?"

"I don't know. The premonition faded at that point. All I know is that it's vitally important that you come."

"For you, I'll happily do it", Saegusa said, "but I'll have to check with our director."

"No, actually, you won't. I hope you'll forgive me, but I took the liberty of having one of my contacts at the U.N. speak to your boss. If you're willing to come, then he'll consider you on special assignment."

"Alright, then," said Saegusa. Faith filled her in on where and when to go.

Something up? asked Ozawa after Saegusa ended the phone call. Saegusa filled her in.

So, Hokkaido will have to wait thought Ozawa. Still, the trip will do you good.

Two days later, Saegusa found herself in front of Faith's home. She knocked on the door, and Faith answered.

"Saegusa-san! How good to see you! Thank you for coming!" The two friends embraced. Saegusa remembered that while Faith was a precog, she had no telepathy.

"Please come in and meet my other guests."

The Green Lantern she recognized, and her grandfather had met Popeye back before the Pacific War. Link was unfamiliar, but she'd met elves in San Francisco. There was a fair-sized colony of them there.

After introductions were made, Scully spoke up.

"So", she said, "Is this everyone?"

"No", said Faith. "There should be one more." A loud clanging noise came from outside.

"Ah, that's probably him now."

*Stands for "United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center"

**Stands for "Self-Defense Force"

 

 

Chapter Five: New New York, 3003

"Good news, everyone!" Professor Hubert Farnsworth's voice echoed around the Planet Express Delivery Service office. Most of his staff sat around the meeting table. Pilot Turanga Leela, deliveryman Philip Fry, intern Amy Wong, bureaucrat Hermes Conrad and staff physician Dr. Zoidberg were there.

"Where's the mechanical man?" he asked.

"Bender? Who knows?" said Leela. "Probably out drinking again. What's your news, Professor?"

"Well", said the professor, "I'm finally close to re-inventing time travel."

"'Re-inventing'?", asked Fry

"Yes", said the professor. "To the best of current knowledge, time travel was initially invented in the Twenty-Second Century. However, the inventor made a tiny mathematical error, and shortly thereafter, he and his time machine were wiped from existence. But, I'm sure I won't have that problem."

"Why the sudden interest in time travel, Professor?" asked Leela.

"Because the History Department of Mars University will pay a simply insane amount of money for live footage of the year leading up to the start of the Second World War, that's why." The Professor rubbed his hands greedily.

"Hey, Fry, you're from the Twentieth Century", said Amy, "was the Second World War the one where George Washington fought Kaiser Wilhelm?"

"Probably", said Fry.

"Anyway", said the professor, "I need some bending done. Since Bender's not here, Amy, you'll have to do it."

"Guh?" came her reply.

After they left the room, Hermes discussed some upcoming deliveries with the others. Eventually, Fry, Leela and Zoidberg went in to watch TV. A little while later Bender came into the TV room , followed by another robot.

"Hey, meatbags!" he said, "I want you to meet my new pal. Fry, Leela, Fishface, meet Magic Eight-bot."

The other robot resembled nothing so much as a six foot tall eight ball with arms and legs.

"Hey", said Fry. "What's his deal? Can he tell the future?"

"As a matter of fact, he can", said Bender.

"Oh, sure," said Leela.

"What?" said Bender. "Are you calling me a liar?"

"You are a liar", she replied.

"Maybe so", Bender said, "but I'm not lying this time. Watch!"

Bender turned to his new friend. "Magic Eight-bot, is Fry the biggest idiot walking the face of the Earth?"

"SIGNS POINT TO YES", came the reply.

"Oh, come on", said Leela, " you don't have to have special powers to know the answer to that one. Let me try a different question. Magic Eight-bot, will I meet Mr. Right someday?"

"DON'T COUNT ON IT", came the reply.

"That's uncanny", said Fry.

"He's never wrong", said Bender. "He'll be a lot of fun down at the robo-dogtrack!"

Suddenly the lights dimmed. A stream of Chinese curses and senile ranting could be heard from the lab.

As the lights came up again, Leela said: "We'd better get in there and check up on those two before they destroy the space-time continuum or something!"

Fry, Bender, Zoidberg and Magic Eight-bot followed her to the lab. The lights dimmed again and a roaring sound could be heard from the lab. The center of the lab was occupied by a large glowing circle that was growing slowly but steadily. Amy and Professor Farnsworth were cowering against the far wall.

"Professor, what's happening?" asked Leela.

"I was able to open a time tunnel to the year 1938", he shouted back. "but something went wrong! It became unstable and I believe it may've sucked in someone from the far end! Now, it's growing out of control! We've got to turn it off but Amy and I can't reach the power switch!"

"We'll do it", said Leela. "Fry, Bender, you're with me! Zoidberg, Eight-bot, you stay here!"

Fry and Bender followed Leela over to the power switch, steadying one another as the time tunnel became increasingly unstable. Even as they reached the switch, the floor shook violently. Leela was able to steady Fry, but even as she pulled the power switch Bender fell into the time tunnel and vanished just before it did.

"Bender!" said Fry.

"Professor!" Leela turned to the old inventor. "You said that the time tunnel reached back to the year 1938. Is that where Bender is now?"

"No", said the Professor, "when you cut the power, the tunnel would've collapsed along its whole length!"

"Then where could he be?"

Magic Eight-bot looked at the place where the other robot had disappeared. "REPLY HAZY, ASK AGAIN LATER."

As Bender tumbled down the time tunnel, his internal computer analyzed the data his optical and other sensors were feeding it. It came to a logical conclusion which he spoke out loud.

"Well", he said, "I'm boned."

Without warning, the time tunnel collapsed. He fell to earth in front of a small house. He looked around. From what he knew of Earth history, this was the Twentieth Century, but not the year 1938. He scanned his surroundings some more. From the house came the unique energy signature of an Oan power ring.

"This could be my lucky day!" he said to himself. "If there's a Green Lantern in there, they can bring me back to the Thirty-First Century!"

He knocked on the door of the house. A small, dark-haired human answered.

"Bender", she said, "do come in."

 

 

Chapter Six: Calgary, AB, the Present Day

Faith introduced Bender to her other guests. After introductions were made, she began to speak.

"Now that you're all here, I'd like to explain what I know about why you're all here. As I've told some of you, I am a precog, which is short for "precognitive'. What that means is that periodically, at irregular intervals, I have premonitions of future events. I cannot summon these premonitions, they happen when they happen. Four days ago, I had a powerful premonition - what is called a "Level 7' premonition. This means that the premonition had a high level of clarity and probability. To give you a sense of scale, Level 1 is the lowest and Level 10 is the highest. At any rate, the premonition showed me the five of you gathered here in my home. It showed me that I had summoned two of you, and that the other three would arrive without any effort on my part. Finally, I foresaw that the reason for this gathering would be important."

"I don't suppose", said Scully, "that you know what that reason is?"

"No", came her reply, "I was not given that information."

"Oh, come on", said Bender, turning to Scully. "I'm not here because of any premonition, and neither is the sailorman, from what he's told me. We're here because Professor Farnsworth is a hundred years past the onset of senility and tried to build a time machine. Look, you're a Green Lantern, right? Why don't you just drop him and me back in our proper times, and then you, the elf, and the mind-reader can go seek adventure anywhere you like."

"I has t'agree with th' Tin Man, here", said Popeye. "Even if I thinks he oughts ta be politer to ya. I gots people waitin' fer me back in me own time. If ya can take me home, I wish ya would."

"I'm inclined to do it", said Scully, turning to Faith. "Unless you can tell me anything else about the premonition?"

"Only that you five are to be here, and that it's vitally important." Faith looked distressed. "Look, my premonitions have always been reliable. Ask Saegusa-san, she'll tell you: A level 7 premonition is not something to ignore."

"Listen", said Scully, "before I came here I was told that psychics across this section of North America were reporting a strong, mysterious sense of imminence - as though something big were about to happen. Could your premonition be connected to that?"

" I don't know", said Faith. "I've heard the reports you speak of but, as I say, I can't control the premonitions. I perceive what I perceive, and that's all I perceive."

"Nice way o' puttin' it," said Popeye.

"I've also received the reports you speak of", said Saegusa, "although I've had no such impressions myself. In Japan, I've worked with several precogs who only receive premonitions about daikaiju. Faith-san, do you have such a specialty?"

"Wha's a 'daikaiju'?", asked Popeye.

Saegusa explained: "It's a Japanese term usually translated into English as 'giant monster', although a closer translation might be 'great creature'."

"Giant monsker?" said Popeye. "Heh. I've beat up a lotta daikaiju, wit'out even knowin' it!"

"To answer the question", said Faith, "No. My premonitions have covered just about everything, from what I was getting for my birthday to the time Doctor Doom accidentally resurrected the Anti-Monitor."

"What I know is this", said Link. "I came here by means of the Ocarina of Time., using the Song of Need. 'Tis true the Song was given to me by a stranger, but from my own knowledge of how the Ocarina works, it seems legitimate. And the Song of Need was written to bring me somewhere a hero like myself would be needed. And I intend to-"

He stopped as Saegusa suddenly broight her hands up to her temples.

"What is it, Saegusa-san?" asked Faith.

"Some kind of a burst of psychic energy", she said. "North of here."

"The ring's picking it up, too", said Scully. "I should go investigate it."

"I'd better come, too", said Saegusa, "I might be able to help."

"If you guys, are leavin'", said Bender. "I'm goin' with you. GL here is my ride home."

"Perhaps we should all go", said Link.

"Alright", said Scully. "Let's go."

Using her ring, Scully carried her five companions to a field just North of Red Deer, Alberta (Home of the Rebels). As they drew nearer to the field, they saw that there was a boy of about sixteen years of age standing in the middle of the field.

As they landed next to him, he looked at them in awe and said:

"Praise the gods! The Archpresbyter was right! You've come!"

"Yes, we've come," said Scully. "Now tell me, who are you?

The boy began: "I am Aelfric Eadmund's son. I have the honor to be house servant to Eadwy Rodibert's son, Archpresbyter of Goromand. Goromand is the Royal Seat of the High Kingdom of Newektiland, largest of the island principalities of the Ner-Bha Sea. Our current High King is Eadward the Fifth, who ruled through his cousins, the four so-called Lesser Kings. Or rule he did, until a month ago when, as if from out of nowhere the Dark Lord and his Four Lieutenants appeared at the head of their army of gibbering madmen and with lightning swiftness overthrew Eadward and his four cousins. Now, the Dark Lord rules over Goromand and his Four Lieutenants each rule one of the four Lesser Kingdoms. Even as the king was overthrown, the Archpresbyter, Chief Speaker for the Gods of Newektiland, did charge me to flee to Kailokel, an abandoned temple in the hills north of Goromand. He bade me take with me the stones of Arubel. One I was to place in the hands of the idol of the god Fherdhi, the other I was to keep on my person."

He showed them what looked like an emerald the size of a peach, and continued.

"He told me that when so placed, the stones would send me to a distant land spoken of in prophecy, where I would find five people who would be the foretold saviors of the land. When 'twas time to return to Newektiland, the other stone would carry the six of us there. He also gave me the Ear of Magahvin, which would help me hear and speak the tongues of those I found here"

He showed them what looked like an ear carved out of obsidian.

"So it was that by stealth I was able to make my way through the confusion of the countryside to Kailokel, and from there to this world of yours."

"Who is this Dark Lord?" asked Scully. "What does he call himself?"

Aelfric replied: "He calls himself Doctor Unpleasant, my lady. As for his Four Lieutenants, one is a massive, hideously strong albino brute who calls himself Solomon Grundy, one is a small, but deadly woman called the Riddler, one is a small, squat little elf called Wario and the last is an auburn-tressed sorceress who calls herself Willow of the Mountain of Roses."

Scully spoke to her companions: "Grundy and the Riddler I know, and I've heard tales of this Wario. Have any of you heard of this Willow or Dr. Unpleasant?"

The others shook their heads.

Scully spoke some more: "If criminals from our world have invaded some other world, I feel obligated to go and fight them. I feel confident in my ability to deal with Grundy and the Riddler, and I'm not afraid to try taking on the others, but if the rest of you are willing to go along, I won't say no to your help. The fact is, Faith had a premonition of an important event concerning the five of us, and I believe this is it."

Faith interjected: "Green Lantern, will you call in the JLA?"

"I'll notify the League, but I don't think we need to call them in. How do the rest of you feel?"

"I came seeking adventure", said Link, "I believe I've found it."

"I wants ta get home", said Popeye, "but I has never turned down a cry fer help. I'm wit' ya's!"

"I want to help, too" said Saegusa. "It'll make a change from fighting monsters."

"Well count me out", said Bender. "I'm not into this whole altruism thing. My main motivations are alcohol and greed, and not adventure or heroics."

Aelfric addressed the robot: "The Archpresbyter said there would be one such as you. He said for me to tell you that Newektiland is a wealthy land."

"How wealthy?" asked Bender.

"Wealthy enough", said Aelfric, "to reward her saviors very handsomely. To reward them, say, with as much gold as they can carry!"

"OK", said Bender, "I'm in."

"Very well", said Scully. "We're agreed. We'll go back with Aelfric and fight this Doctor Unpleasant and his four friends."

"We'll fight for wha's right!" said Popeye.

"For Justice!", said Scully.

"For the overthrow of evil!", said Saegusa.

"For the liberation of Newektiland and the honor of Hyrule!", Said Link.

"For all the gold I can carry!" said Bender.

The others looked at him.

"What?" he said.

 

 

Chapter Seven: Goromand, Newektiland, The Present Day


Doctor Unpleasant was disturbed. He cut quite a disturbing figure himself. Six-and-a-half feet tall, he was a massive wall of a man. His face was covered completely by a shining metal mask, broken only by two eye-holes from which peered forth two eyes the blue-grey of the sky before an impending thunderstorm. He wore a simple black jumpsuit and black leather gloves and work boots. Incongruously he also wore a doctor's head mirror, a stethoscope and a white lab coat. The overall effect was of a sort of bizarre amalgamation of Jason Voorhees and Dr. Mario. However, any cartoonishness someone who saw him might have perceived would quickly have been displaced by the man's hair-trigger temper and hideous cruelty. He was not an ambitious man, as super-villains went. No world-conquering for him, and he only stole the money he needed to fund his experiments. He avoided the forces of order where possible, and repelled them as best he could when he had to. No, his goals were simple: to spread pain and misery, to make people unhappy, and to satisfy his intellectual curiosity whatever the cost. Playing fair, by his lights, he had experimented on himself as frequently as on others. The results were such that he now had physical strength equal to that of the legendary Thing, and invulnerability equal to that of Superman himself. He was very hard to hurt, let alone kill. In addition, he had a steady supply of his favorite weapons, anti-matter grenades. Those who knew of him feared him. And yet his employer disturbed him. Still, he'd agreed to work for this person, and in a perverse way he liked to give good value.

So it was that he stood in the throne room of Goromand Castle, which he had appropriated for his own use, and faced a telescreen he'd installed. He flicked a switch. His employer's image appeared on the screen.

"REPORT."

Unpleasant coughed, and said: "The boy escaped."

"ESCAPED?"

"Yes, as you know, my army is loyal and relentless. But overly intelligent, they're not. The boy fled to the north, and vanished. And!"

"AND?"

"An interdimensional transport was detected."

"WHERE DID HE GO?"

"As far as I can tell, he went to Red Deer, Alberta, Canada."

"WHY WOULD HE GO THERE?"

"That, I don't know!"

"FORTUNATELY, I DO. THIS ARCHPRESBYTER THAT YOU DELIVERED TO ME WAS SOMEWHAT CLOSE-MOUTHED AT FIRST, BUT HE BECAME QUITE VOLUBLE AFTER I GAVE HIM SOME PERSONAL ATTENTION. THE BOY WENT TO FULFILL A PROPHECY."

"A prophecy?"

"YES. A PROPHECY THAT IN TIME OF TROUBLE, WHEN OUTSIDERS CONQUERED THE LAND, FIVE PEOPLE, FOUR HEROES AND ONE ROGUE, WOULD COME FROM ANOTHER WORLD TO SAVE NEWEKTILAND. THE BOY HAS DOUBTLESS GONE TO FETCH THESE FIVE SAVIORS."

"Suppose he does more than that? Suppose he summons the Justice League or someone like that who outnumbers us?"

"IT IS POSSIBLE. HOWEVER, THESE PEOPLE TAKE THEIR FAITH VERY SERIOUSLY. IF THE PROPHECY SAYS TO FETCH FIVE PEOPLE, HE WILL FETCH FIVE PEOPLE, NO MORE AND NO LESS. REGARDLESS OF THAT, KEEP A CLOSE WATCH AND ALERT YOUR ALLIES. I TRUST YOU HAVE PLACED A GUARD ON THE SPOT WHERE THE INTERDIMENSIONAL TRANSPORT TOOK PLACE?"

"Oh, yes. Whoever he brings back with him, if they return there, they'll receive an Unpleasant welcome."

"SEE THAT YOU KEEP WATCH EVERYWHERE. THEY MAY RETURN SOMEWHERE ELSE. DESPITE MUCH ENCOURAGEMENT, THE ARCHPRESBYTER WAS UNABLE TO TELL ME MUCH ABOUT THE MECHANISM THEY WERE USING."

"I will. I could almost hope it turns out to be my old adversaries the Goodness Gang. I still bear the scars from my last encounter with them!"

"WHOEVER IT IS, YOU MUST TRY TO CAPTURE THEM ALIVE, IF POSSIBLE. IT MAY BE POSSIBLE TO MAKE USE OF THEM. OR BITS OF THEM."

With that, the screen went black. Unpleasant contacted his allies and alerted them to the potential danger. His employer had chosen the other four, and had made him leader. He knew the others were no fonder of him than they were of each other or he was of any of them, but they all feared their employer. Well, except maybe Grundy, he was too stupid to fear much of anything.

Soon, he heard swift beeping. Another interdimensional transport had been detected, in the same location as the first.

"And so it begins!", he said.

Elsewhere, his Employer watched him scurry about, giving orders to his minions.

"DOCTOR UNPLEASANT SPEAKS TO ME OF SCARS", the Employer said. "PERHAPS, WHEN HE HAS OUTLIVED HIS USEFULNESS AND I AM ABOUT TO KILL HIM, I WILL TAKE A MOMENT TO SHOW HIM MY REAL FACE. THEN HE WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT SCARS REALLY ARE!"

 

 

Chapter Eight: Red Deer, AB,The Present Day

Scully addressed the others gathered before her.

"I've made a few preparations that I want to discuss with you all. First off, Carolyn Faith will be staying here in Red Deer until we return and will be maintaining contact with my friends in the Justice League. Secondly, I've brought some equipment to distribute."

She handed two small items to Popeye and Saegusa.

"These are JLA translation devices. Link already has his own translator, Bender has a translation computer built in to him, and my ring will translate for me. Those will translate the Newekti language for you two."

She then produced five pairs of what looked like manacles, giving a pair to each of her companions and keeping a pair for herself.

"These are JLA-issue restraints. They're calibrated to hold beings of the level of power we're expecting to encounter and render them docile until we can them into proper custody."

Scully took a few minutes to show her companions how to use the items she'd given them. Then she continued.

"From what Aelfric has told me, this Dr. Unpleasant has occupied Goromand, the capital of Newektiland, Solomon Grundy has occupied Bargomol, capital of the Lesser Kingdom of the North, this "Willow of the Mountain of Roses" has occupied Shivraat, capital of the Lesser Kingdom of the West, Wario has occupied Thelm, the capital of the Lesser Kingdom of the South, and the Riddler has occupied Chil, capital of the Lesser Kingdom of the East. Dr. Unpleasant has brought with him an army of 10000 mind-controlled minions, lending 2000 to each of his companions and retaining 2000 for himself. These minions seem to have no independent thought, relying completely on instructions from their handlers. Thus, what I suggest is that each of us travel to one of the capitals and attempt to take out one of the villains by means of a surgical strike, rather than by a frontal assault. Be careful, however, as they may have sensors planted to warn them of any hostile approach, as well as operatives placed within the native population."

She paused for a moment.

"Alright, here's how I'd like to hand out assignments: I've never encountered this Dr. Unpleasant, but from the JLA files, it seems that he's a formidable second-string super-villain with a tendency towards the nasty surprise tactic. I'll be handling him"

She turned to Bender.

"Bender, I'd like you to handle this Wario. He's superhumanly strong and agile, but nothing you shouldn't be able to handle. I've never met him either, but from what I've heard he divides his time between treasure-hunting and get-rich-quick schemes. His main motivation seems to be greed, pure and simple."

"Oh, we'll have a lot in common, then", said Bender.

"Popeye, I'd like you to handle Solomon Grundy. He's incredibly strong but not particularly bright."

"Sounds like Bluto all over again", said the Sailor.

Scully continued: "I couldn't find any info on this Willow person, but from what Aelfric tells me, she's some kind of sorceress. Link, you told me you've fought evil sorcerers in the past, so I'd like you to fight her."

Link nodded his assent.

"Finally, Saegusa-san, I'd like you to deal with the Riddler.. This current Riddler is the great-granddaughter of the original Riddler. She's hardly more than a kid, and she's not much of a hand-to-hand combatant, so with your telekinesis and UNGCC training, you shouldn't have too much trouble with her. Take care, though, she makes up for her shortcomings to a certain extent by being extremely vicious and clever, and of course, she has the family penchant for riddling."

Scully took some time to make sure that everyone knew how to operate the equipment she gave them, and then spoke once more.

"As I said before, we don't know what detection devices the enemy will have in place, but we must assume they'll have some. So, when we get to Aelfric's world, we're going to launch our attacks right away. I'll use force bubbles from my ring to carry you where you need to go, and I'll send them to carry you to Goromand if everything goes smoothly. We'll stay in telepathic contact through my ring, so that if anything does go wrong, we'll know about it right away."

She looked at them all one last time.

"Alright, let's get to it. Aelfric?"

Faith watched as the five faded away. As she walked back to her room at a nearby hotel. Knowing the future had always been a mixed blessing for her, but right now she'd give anything to know what would happen to her friends.

Scully and her companions materialized in the ruins of the Temple of Kailokel. The ceiling was gone, but enough of the walls still stood to show that the structure had once been massive. Even as Scully got her bearings, she heard rustling sounds from all around her.

"Watch out!" she said, as dozens of gibbering, screaming human figures emerged from the ruins, launching themselves to attack Aelfric and the five outworlders. The companions sprang into action. Scully used her ring to fend off the attackers nearest her. Popeye gulped down a can of spinach and began pummeling foes right and left. Link's Master Sword sliced through the opposition. Bender used the combat skills he had learned during his reluctant tour in the military to toss enemies aside. Saegusa used a combination of martial arts skills and telekinesis to repel the intruders. Even Aelfric struggled manfully with one of their assailants. Soon enough, their enemies were either unconscious or put to flight. Except, of course, for those that were killed. Scully frowned as Link cleaned his sword. Both the League and the Corps frowned on killing their enemies except under the most dire conditions. Still, where Link came from the rules were obviously different. None of her friends were hurt, although Saegusa seemed a little winded.

"Hey", said Bender, "These guys are all dressed alike!"

It was true, their assailants were all wearing identical black jumpsuits.

"They all look alike, too", said Link.

"Hey", said Popeye, "I knows that face!"

"I do, too", said Scully. " I'd heard this Dr. Unpleasant had an odd sense of humor, but this - they're an army of clones - clones of Shemp Howard!"

"They was here waitin' for us", said Popeye, "That mean's they'll know we're comin'".

"I'll set the force bubbles that carry you to "stealth' mode. That means they'll know you're coming, but not when you're coming or from what direction!"

Elsewhere, Dr. Unpleasant watched as his enemies vanished from his monitor screen.

"Very clever, Green Lantern." He sent warnings out to his colleagues, and then prepared for his own visitor. Business, as they say, was about to pick up.

 

 

Chapter Nine: Thelm, Newektiland, The Present Day

The force bubble set Bender down in a wooded area a mile north of the Royal Palace in Thelm. He was doing his best to disguise his appearance by wearing a hooded robe that Aelfric had provided, but he knew that anyone who got more than a cursory glimpse of his face would know him for an outsider immediately. From what Aelfric had told them, the invaders had not yet made much of an effort to recruit support from the natives. Newektiland was a small enough nation that perhaps they thought that their own powers and the army of Shempclones would be enough for them to hold power. If that was the case, then the locals might be less tempted to turn him in if they detected him. From what he'd heard of this Wario, he'd be busily doing what Bender would do in his position: looting the Lesser Kingdom for all it was worth.

As he walked towards the palace he noticed a small road wending its way in the same direction. Traveling along it was an old man driving a horsedrawn cart heavily-laden with vegetables

He approached the old man, and spoke to him in his most obsequious voice.

"Good day to you, sir. Are you traveling to the palace?"

"That is correct, sir", came the reply.

"I, too," said Bender, "am traveling to the palace. Might I trouble you for a ride?"

The old man consented and Bender got up on to the seat next to him. Bender knew he had to act quickly, so he once again spoke.

"You carry vegetables to our new overlord and his men?"

"Aye," said the old man. "Much as I hate to do so, but those who refuse are killed, along with their families."

"Perhaps," said Bender, "You would like to help put an end to this usurpation?"

"Aye, but how?" said the old man. "our king imprisoned, his guards dispersed, and the news from the other parts of the nation no better!"

"All you have to do," said Bender, "is cover me with vegetables!"

The old man drove the cart up to the gate of the palace, where two Shempclones stood guard. One approached him.

"Who goes there?" it asked.

"I am Leonhard, Aelfred's son, with a shipment of vegetables for the palace kitchens."

The Shempclone looked into the back of the cart, desultorily examining the vegetables. If Bender had breath, he would've held it, but the clone did not discover him buried beneath the vegetables. Instead, the cart was waved into the palace. The old man drove the cart over to the cookhouse door, where he engaged the cook in conversation, as he had arranged with Bender. Bender waited, using his sensors to determine when the coast was clear. When it was, Bender ducked into the cookhouse and made his way into the palace. He scanned the building. There were motion detectors in place at critical junctions, but the invaders had apparently not yet had time to cover the whole place effectively. Scanning further, he found Wario's unique bio-sign. He was - where else- in the treasury, no doubt enjoying his ill-gotten gains. Bender calculated the location of the detectors and of the Shempclones within the palace, and worked out the safest way to get to the vault without detection. Only the two Shempclones actually guarding the vault would have to be dealt with.

Bender made his way to just outside the vault door, despatching the two guards with little effort. He hesitated outside the vault door until a voice like a cartoon Italian spoke up:

"You might as well come in, I know you're-a out there!."

Bender looked into the vault. It was a cavernous area piled high with gold and jewels. Along the walls were built-in safes, some open, some closed. Standing in the middle of the room was Wario, a squat, heavy, mustachioed elf dressed in a yellow-and-purple plumber's outfit.

"I knew those-a Shemps was-a no good," he said, "Even when we warn them, the first intruder gets in, just-a like that. Who are-a you under robes?"

Bender dropped off his robe, and said: "My name is Bender, and I'm here to take you down, meatbag!"

"Oh, yeah," said Wario. "We'll-a see."

The two opponents stared at one another for a long moment, and then Bender made a quick grab for Wario, who ducked out of the way with surprising speed. Wario delivered a quick jab to Bender's midsection, only to yelp in pain as he bruised his hand against Bender's titanium frame. He rolled away from the robot, barely escaping his clutches. Bender pulled the vault door shut to prevent Wario from escaping that way. The two soon found themselves in a stalemate. Wario was too fast for Bender to catch, and Bender was too strong for Wario to hurt.

Bender was becoming frustrated. "They're not paying me enough for this!" he said.

Wario looked stunned. "You're-a getting paid? I thought-a you hero-types worked for free?"

"Hero-types may work for free," said Bender, "But Bender works for cold, hard cash!"

Wario's eyes gleamed. "Well then, there's no reason for us to fight is there? Whatever they're paying you, I'll pay you more!"

"Keep talking," said Bender.

"What are they offering you?" Wario asked.

"My weight in gold."

Wario smirked. "I'll make it two times your weight in gold."

"Three."

Wario seemed to relax. "Three it is, then."

"Oh," said Bender, "and that big diamond over there." He pointed to the back of the vault.

"What big diamond?" said Wario, looking where the robot was pointing, "I didn't see any-wha?"

When Wario turned, Bender had seized his chance, striding over and grabbing Wario by the scruff of the neck. He quickly threw the little miser into one of the wall safes, slamming the door shut after him. Bender opened the door to his chest cavity, and pulled out the restraint Scully had given him.

Bender had deliberately left the safe door unlocked, so that when Wario tried to kick it open, he fell out off-balance, and Bender was able to put the restraints on him without trouble. True to Scully's word, Wario immediately ceased struggling. Bender noticed a small silver pin attached to Wario's lapel. Scanning it, he realized it was the control device for the Shempclones. Testing it, he had the two now-revived guards outside carry Wario to the throne room. Bender idly considered taking over the kingdom for himself, but then decided it wasn't worth the effort. He alerted the others as to what had happened. A Shempclone showed him where the Lesser King of the South was imprisoned, and the gratitude of that worthy kept Bender very comfortable while he waited for Scully to send a force bubble to pick him up. The restored sub-monarch insisted on rewarding Bender above and beyond what he'd already been promised, and Bender didn't mind that, either.

 

 

Chapter Ten: Chil, Newektiland, The Present Day

The Riddler sat and waited for her uninvited guest. She gloated as she thought of the unpleasant surprises in wait for them. Even before Dr. Unpleasant's warning she had anticipated that there would be unwelcome visitors, and so she had spent a great deal of time setting up special deathtraps throughout the Lesser Royal Palace in Chil, where she had established her headquarters. She had cleared out all of the regular staff, relying on the Shempclones to construct the traps so that no details of their construction would leak out. Meanwhile, she had been writing the most fiendishly clever riddles she could think of to mark these traps. Only the most relentlessly clever mind could solve these riddles, and reach the throne room where she would be waiting to spring a horde of Shempclones on them. She looked forward to the battle of wits that would ensue when her visitor reached the palace. She wanted to do her great-grandfather's memory proud.

When Saegusa's force bubble set her down a mile from the castle, her arrival was surreptitiously noticed by a Shempclone. As per the Riddler's instructions, she was allowed to proceed to the castle unmolested. The trick, of course, was to not make it seem as though she were being allowed in too easily. A few Shempclones were even instructed to "unmask" her and chase her vigorously, just barely allowing her to escape.

As Saegusa approached the castle, the Riddler read the reports the Shempclones gave her on the nature of her adversary. A Japanese woman in her early thirties wearing the insignia of the UNGCC. A monster-hunter. Someone not easily frightened but so used to dealing with big powerful brutes that a finesse adversary like the Riddler would put her totally out of her element. She didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary. Probably a capable hand-to-hand combatant, but no one that the Shemps should have any trouble with.

The Riddler paced around the throne room. All her life she'd heard about the family business and when her brother had committed the unspeakable crime of becoming, of all things, a cop, she had happily stepped in to take his place. Her father had been reluctant at first, but he had come around. When their employer had approached her for this job, she had accepted willingly, eager to prove herself to so esteemed an individual. Now her time was coming.

The Riddler received a report from a Shempclone. Her visitor was approaching the palace by the carriagehouse, the very entrance that she had expected her to use.

Down in the carriagehouse, Saegusa approached an inner door. If she wondered why the carriagehouse was empty, she gave no sign. Nailed to the door was a large parchment, upon which, in an elegant hand, was written the following:

"To my uninvited guest:

As you can see, I've been expecting your arrival. Since I hate to be a dull hostess, I've prepared a few special surprises along the way from here to the throne room, each one more deadly than the last. Only by solving the accompanying riddles can you hope to survive them. I do hope you've brought your thinking cap, for each riddle is more complex than the last. I do hope you'll come up to see me. At least, I do hope you'll try.

Yours in villainy,

The Riddler"

Below this, was another parchment. It said:

"OK, I'll start you off with an easy one. Riddle me this - when is a door not a door?"

Saegusa looked at the large stone jar standing next to the door, then the door, and then the jar again. She sighed audibly.

Five minutes later, Saegusa pushed open the door to the throne room. The Riddler started in surprise.

"What?" she said. "You? But, you can't- I mean, you can't be - I mean, you couldn't have solved all those riddles already! You must be some kind of super-genius!"

"No, dear", said Saegusa, "I'm a telepath. I read all the answers in your mind."

"Aw, crap", said the Riddler.

The Riddler began to back away from Saegusa, her hands reaching up to her lapel, where she wore her Shempcontrol.

"If you're a telepath," she said, "then you probably already know the answer to this one: Why is this room about to become like a Three Stooges Film Festival?"

"Because it's going to have some Shemps in it, whether I like it or not", said Saegusa. "Except that it's not."

To her horror, the Riddler found her arms stretching out in front of her, even as she found herself unable to move her legs.

As she slipped the restraint onto the Riddler, Saegusa chatted amiably.

"Yes, I'm also a telekinetic. You see, I've been reading your mind since I first approached the palace. I knew exactly what you were planning and used it against you. Batman may or may not cheat, but I certainly do."

With her adversary contained, Saegusa took the Shempcontrol, using the Shemps to restore some order. She personally saw to releasing the Lesser Royal Family of the East from their imprisonment. Then she sent a telepathic message to the Green Lantern that her mission was complete, and sat back to wait for the force bubble that would take her and her prisoner to Goromand.

 

 

Chapter 11: Bargomol, Newektiland, The Present Day

The force bubble carrying Popeye dropped him off a short walk outside the Palace of Bargomol. He wondered how he would find his opponent. He didn't have to wonder long. The road leading up to the Palace was deserted, and standing in front of the palace gates was a massive, hulking albino dressed in simple, heavily-worn clothing. Standing downwind from the creature, Popeye soon detected his fetid swamp odor. Popeye was unfazed. He'd fought scarier things than this. Not much scarier, but scarier nevertheless. Popeye was a sailor, and anyone who sailed the Seven Seas for any length of time saw some mighty weird things and people. The truth was, Popeye was looking forward to the fight. Though he might not have put it so philosophically, Popeye never felt more alive than when he tested himself against a powerful opponent.

Grundy saw him coming.

"You the one they sent to fight me? A scrawny little one-eyed runt like you?"

"Tha's right", said Popeye.

Grundy began to laugh.

"You poor fool, you have no chance! Do you know who I am?"

"I doesn't care who y'are", said Popeye. "Ta me, yer jusk another big dumb bully like Bluto. I fought a hunnerd like ya, an' I beat a hunnerd like ya. I ain't scared a ya, cuz I yam fightin' fer wha's right, an' when yer fightin' fer wha's right, ya can't lose!"

"Right?" Grundy snorted. "Right don't matter. Strong matters, and nothing else!"

"Yer wrong", said Popeye, "an' I aims ta show ya how wrong y'are!"

"Come on, then", said Grundy, striding toward his adversary.

Closing with Popeye, Grundy swung at him with an enormous roundhouse right. Popeye ducked, and caught his opponent with a right uppercut to the jaw, followed up by a left jab to the solar plexus. Grundy flew back, falling to the ground. However, Grundy got right up, eyeing the mariner with grudging respect.

"Stronger than you look", he said. "I don't care. I'll still kill you."

Again Grundy lunged, and again Popeye ducked and counterattacked. The fight followed this pattern for awhile. Popeye realized that he couldn't go on like this. He possessed stamina that was inhuman, but not unlimited. Grundy, however, didn't seem to be tiring. Popeye decided to launch an all-out attack. Taking a deep breath, he waited for an opening and then launched haymaker after haymaker at Grundy's jaw until his strength was exhausted. Finally, the great brute fell. But even as Popeye stood winded over his fallen foe, Grundy leapt to his feet with surprising speed and belted Popeye so hard that he flew through the air and smashed through the wall of the palace.

Barely conscious, Popeye knew that the time had come for drastic measures. He reached into his shirt and pulled out a can of spinach. He'd only brought three with him to Newektiland, and they didn't seem to grow spinach here. He'd used up one at Kailokel, and now he had to use another.

As the spinach hit his system, Popeye heard the Music. It only happened when he ate spinach in the heat of a fight, and it was always the same Music, a rousing call to action. Popeye had never told anyone about the Music, not even Olive or Wimpy. Wimpy and Castor Oyl had remarked upon the fact that only Popeye and his father seemed to gain super-strength from ingesting spinach. They had gone so far as to bring him to a scientist Wimpy knew, a Professor O.G. Wottasnozzle, who, upon examining Popeye, had pronounced him a "mutink", or something like that. Popeye was glad he hadn't told him about the Music. He did wonder if Pappy heard it, too, but he'd never had the nerve to question his father on the subject.

With the Music ringing through his mind, Popeye felt his strength increase tenfold. Popeye pummeled Grundy, but although his opponent was obviously feeling Popeye's blows more, he was still getting up. Popeye knew he had to beat his foe before the spinach-rush wore off, or he'd be back to square one. He had to use the Twisker Sock. Popeye screwed up his right arm in a way that should have been anatomically impossible. Waiting for an opening, he let loose the Twisker Sock in all its force at Grundy's midsection. Grundy pinwheeled backward, demolishing a stone shed behind him, and lay still.

Popeye rushed over with the restraint in his hand. Grundy was already beginning to stir as Popeye put the restraint on him. He seemed to fight it for a moment, but then settled down. Popeye noticed a silver button attached to Grundy's shirt collar. He took it in his hand.

"Wha's this?" he wondered.

To his surprise, Grundy spoke up.

"Controller for the Shemps", he said.

Popeye tested the item, and sure enough, it worked. Popeye used the Shempclones to search the wreckage of the buildings that had been destroyed in their fight. Fortunately, no one had been hurt, not even a Shempclone. Apparently Grundy had cleared everyone out before the fight, so that there would be no interference. Popeye set them about repairs and freed the Lesser Queen of the North and her ministers. While he waited for Green Lantern to send a force bubble to pick him up, he impressed the locals with feats of strength. He promised them to see if he could arrange for them to receive some spinach seeds when their battle was done.

 

 

Chapter 12: Shivraat, Newektiland, The Present Day

The woman who called herself "Willow of the Mountain of Roses" sat upon the throne of the Lesser King of the West in the palace of Shivraat, reveling in the feeling of being at the center of power. Shempclones waited obsequious attendance upon her as she ranted to herself.

"Seven years of playing second fiddle to that blonde bimbo! Seven years of watching her hog the limelight, of her always being the center of attention! Watching her play hearts and flowers with those two undead morons! Watching her win improbable victories over the hordes of Hell itself! And then, when after years of preparing and growing stronger I made my move against her, she still somehow managed to beat me! Me! And then the humiliation! Having to pretend to let that glorified librarian 'reform' me while I waited for my chance to escape!"

She grabbed a Shempclone by its shirt collar and shouted in its face.

"Well, no more! I have a power base here and I don't intend to give it up! I'll fight whatever 'hero' they send to fight me, I'll fight Unpleasant and those other idiots if they cross me, I'll even fight our Employer if it comes to that! I will hold this place and grow stronger and stronger until one day soon I will return home and wipe that yelow-haired b**** from the face of the Earth!"

She paused and smiled an evil smile.

"Yes, I'll 'slay' her!"

Link's force bubble had let him off just outside of Shivraat. Fortunately, hooded cloaks were a common fashion choice here, and he was able to wear one that Aelfric had provided to hide both his elfin ears and the fact that he was heavily armed.

He entered a tavern at the outskirts of town, and spoke to the barman.

"Good day to you, sir. I am a traveler, newly-come down from Kailokel in the North, here to see how fares the Lesser Kingdom of the West."

"Odd", said the barman, "that you have traveled so far, and not already heard how it fares with us."

"I have traveled alone", said Link, "and spoken to no other travelers along the way."

"I see. Well, it fares with us as it fares with all the land, save that our current ruler seems to have a special peculiarity: a particular hatred for those with yellow-hair, especially women. She seems to take an especial delight in transforming any such who cross her path into living dolls, to be 'played' with for her amusement."

"I see", said Link, "and yet do I have business with this new ruler of yours."

"So I surmised", the barman said, "for while your hood covers your ears well, it does not so well cover the elfin cast of your face, nor the confidence of your gait, and not even the fact that you are carrying a suspiciously sword-like object under your cloak. There are no elves in Newektiland, sir, and none are expected. If an elfin swordsman is here, then he is surely here to see this sorceress that rules us now. If he were her ally, why, he'd approach the palace openly. But since he comes hooded, and questions a barman about the situation, why, then, it is sure he means her no good."

"And if I meant her no good", said Link, "what would you say to that?"

"I would say that you should come with me into the backroom. Surely a Shemp patrol will come by soon, and you would be discovered."

The barman motioned for his assistant to take over and led Link into a back room.

"My name is Reynhard Aethaelbaert's son. I have tended bar here ten years now. I love this land, and it saddens me to see it so abused. I would like to help you restore it to what it was, but I must tell you that the palace cannot be approached directly. The Shemps guard it heavily and you would soon be spotted. However, I do know of an alternate approach. My great-grandfather was personal attendant to the Lesser King Aelwyfe the Loud, during the time of the Dynastic Wars many years ago. During the wars, Shivraat was under constant threat of siege, and Aelwyfe commanded that a secret tunnel be dug from the dungeon of the palace to the woods outside the city, so that if all was lost, he could flee to safety. The plans were burned, and Aelwyfe, ruthless soul that he was, made sure that the workmen involved were killed in the wars. Aelwyfe died before he could tell his son of the tunnel, and so my ancestor was the only living person who knew of its existence. And so the secret was passed down in my family father-to-son until this very day. I can guide you to this tunnel. However, once you are inside the palace it will be up to you to deal with her!"

"That's all I ask", said Link.


A short while later Reynhard had led Link into the woods outside of town. There, behind two shrubberies so arranged as to give the appearance of a path down the middle, was what looked like an ancient well that had long since gone dry. Reynhard lowered Link down the well. At the bottom Link found the hidden entrance. A wave of musty air came out, and Link coughed for a minute. Link received a torch from Reynhard and entered the tunnel. Various vermin scampered and scuttled out of his way, but otherwise the way was unobstructed. Link reached the door at the far end and pushed the door open, wincing as the ancient hinges wailed. He poked his head out into what apparently an alcove of a much larger room. He waited a long minute, but no one appeared. Link moved into the larger room, which was well-lit, and started in surprise. The room had been set up as though it were a doll's torture room! Dolls of many different designs were scattered about the room. The only thing they had in common was yellow hair. Some were chained to the walls with doll-sized chains, others were strapped into doll-sized implements of pain. Most were intact, but a few had had things done to them. Bad things. Link gasped in horror as he saw that some of the dolls were moving. This is what Reynhard had meant! The dolls were alive! He shed his cloak and put down the torch and moved to take a closer look.

Some instinct warned Link to draw the Master Sword just as hidden doors opened around the dungeon and Shempclones poured into the room. They moved to attack him and Link hacked away at them until an imperious voice cried out:

"Stop!"

At this command, the Shempclones stood down, forming a circle around Link at a respectful two swords-lengths distance. The circle parted to reveal a tall, thin human woman wearing a long black dress. She had long auburn hair tied in a black bow and seemed quite young. Her smile somehow contrived to seem both friendly and cruel. This could only be Willow of the Mountain of Roses!

"So, you don't approve of my toys?" she said. She noticed his surprised look. "Did you really think I wouldn't know it if someone broke into my 'playroom'? You underestimate me. And look at you, another heavily-armed strawhead. It figures. And as for my toys, you'd better learn to like them - after all, you'll be one of them soon!"

As she gestured, Link ducked, and the Shempclone behind him was instantly reduced to doll-form. Link rolled around the room, ducking behind furniture and Shemps as Willow cast spell after spell in his direction. The number of full-sized Shempclones began to dwindle and Link knew he had to think fast. The Green Lantern had asked that he take Willow alive, if possible, so he could not simply kill her, which he felt confident he could do easily. He was reluctant to use his hand-held bombs for fear of harming the dolls, who might yet be restored to normal. Link looked at Willow again and noticed something gleaming in the bow in her hair. Now he knew what he had to do. Throwing a Shempclone at Willow, he dodged behind a table and took out his own, very different bow and an arrow. He jumped up with a bloodthirsty cry that startled Willow for a second. Link fired his arrow at her head. It missed her, merely slicing through the bow in her hair. Willow smiled, and said in a jovial voice:

"Missed? Too bad. I thought heroes never missed. But I don't miss, I can tell you that!"

As she cast the spell, Link raised his Hylian shield. Here he was taking a calculated risk. The shield had the capacity to reflect most forms of magic. Though she was a powerful sorceress, this Willow's magic did not seem too different from those he had encountered before, so the shield should reflect it. If he was wrong-!

Willow cast her spell, and short, sharp scream echoed through the dungeon. The Shempclones stood rudderless long enough for Link to bound over and pick up the bow his arrow had sliced off of Willow's head. Sure enough, the gleaming item he had seem was the Shempcontrol. He used it to have the Shempclones summon Reynhard. Link walked over to where Willow had been. On the floor, Link saw an auburn-haired doll. He picked it up and placed the restraint on it, just to be on the safe side. Fortunately, the restraint was adjustable.

Link had a Shempclone lead him to where Willow had stored the Lesser King of the West, his family and minister, all in doll-form. When Reynhard was brought to him, Link had him summon a council of responsible men and women, people who could lead until order was restored. Link promised to speak to the Green Lantern about summoning a benevolent sorcerer, who could restore the dolls to normal. He then signaled his friends that his mission had succeeded.

 

 

Chapter 13: Kailokel, Newektiland, The Present Day

After sending her friends off to their missions, Scully had remained for a while in Kailokel, arranging a place for Aelfric to hide and discussing the tactical situation in Goromand with him. While she was flying to Goromand, she received Bender's report. The robot had worked fast. Scully spread the word about the Shempcontrols and continued on her way. As she approached the palace at Goromand, she noticed that an army of Shempclones armed with longbows lining the wall of the palace facing the direction from which she was coming. Either Dr. Unpleasant was the world's champion guesser, or he had seen through her stealth mode. It didn't matter, she dropped it anyway. As she drew closer, they fired a volley of arrows in her direction. As the arrows drew nearer, Scully noticed that they had been painted yellow. She used the ring to shrink herself to six inch height, and thus was able to avoid the arrows easily. Reaching the palace, she restored herself to normal size and made her way to the throneroom, disabling several deathtraps along the way. Dr. Unpleasant was waiting for her there.

"So, Green Lantern, you've made it here at last. From what I hear, your friends are making short work of my colleagues. Ah, well. Believe me, they weren't my idea. And believe me, you won't find me so easy to defeat!"

"No?" said Scully. "I can't say as I've heard anything that makes me think of you as anything more than a second-rate super-villain."

"Madam, you cut me to the quick!" came the reply. "Nevertheless, how can you defeat even a second-rate super-villain if you can't touch him?"

At that, his entire costume turned bright yellow. Scully replied by using her ring to pick up an iron pot that was near the door and hurl it at Unpleasant's head at super-speed. Unpleasant went right down but sprang right back up again.

"Very good, Lantern, but I'm a little tougher than that!"

Scully sighed: "Well, I managed to keep the secret for a month-and-a-half. I suppose that's a respectable length of time."

"What secret? What are you talking about?"

Scully used the ring to grasp Unpleasant in an enormous vise and began playing tetherball with his head.

"That the yellow weakness no longer applies."

It was true. The Guardians had done away with it shortly after the Golden Godzillactus fiasco. When persistent physical abuse had rendered her opponent more tractable, Scully placed the restraint on him, and then sent force bubbles to pick up Bender, Saegusa, Link and Popeye and their prisoners. She had decided not to send for Aelfric yet. She had a niggling feeling that things were not quite wrapped up. She did, however, send him a message explaining the situation. Apparently, High King Eadward had evaded capture when the villains attacked, fleeing to a hidden location. Hopefully, word would reach him soon, and he would return. In the meanwhile, she used the Shempcontrol to restore order.

When her friends arrived at the palace, they exchanged stories and secured their prisoners in a corner of the throne room. Scully told them of her continuing concern.

"It just seems to me as though there has to be more to this than simple piracy or conquest. Why did they pick this kingdom to conquer?"

Bender spoke: "Hey. Wario was in it for the money and nothing else. Trust me, I recognize someone who's driven by simple greed."

Then Link: "Yes, and this Willow seemed driven both by her madness and apparent resentment at some perceived wrong."

Popeye said: "Well, this Grundy sure didn't come up wit' no plan. He don't seem like nobody what wants to do anythin' but hurt people."

Saegusa added: "The Riddler wasn't any great evil genius either. She didn't really seem ready for this kind of thing."

Scully thought a moment, and said: "And while Dr. Unpleasant certainly is bright enough to think up something like this, it just doesn't seem like his style. Everything I read in his file shows this plan up as an anomaly. And he did say to me that his colleagues weren't his idea."

Saegusa turned and looked at the monitor that occupied a whole wall of the throne room.

"Well", she said, "if Dr. Unpleasant didn't come up with this plan, whose plan was it?"

"IT WAS MINE". came a voice from the monitor.

The others turned to face the monitor, but it was still blank. It began to vibrate.

Bender shouted: "Hey, I'm detecting a power surge in that thing! I think it's going to -"

Before the alcoholic automaton could finish his sentence, Scully used her ring to gather her compatriots into a compact group on the other side of the room from the monitor, extending a protective forcefield over her friends and their prisoners. Even as she did so, the monitor exploded.

When the smoke had cleared, the heroes and Bender saw a figure standing where the monitor had been. At first glance, it seemed to be a 25 year-old Japanese woman dressed somewhat incongruously in the uniform of a much younger Japanese schoolgirl. A white sailor shirt with blue trim and a red tie, a short, pleated blue skirt and matching blue knee socks completed the ensemble. Yes, at first glance she looked like something out of a shoujo manga, even down to her cute ponytail and absurdly long bangs framing her face. However, one quickly noticed certain sinister differences. Her forearms, hands and feet had been replaced by mechanical prostheses, and what was visible of her thighs seemed to be wrapped in glowing purple chains that appeared to be embedded in her very skin. Blood-red spikes projected from her knees and elbows. A shining metal mask covered her face from the nose down, thick metal rectangles covered her ears, and small antennae projected from the top of her head just behind her hairline. A painful-looking metal disk with a black slit in it covered her right eye. Her left eye glowed a sullen red.

"YOU WERE CORRECT", she said. "DR. UNPLEASANT DID NOT PLAN THIS CONQUEST. I CONCEIVED IT. I PLANNED IT. I - SAILOR DOOM!"

 

 

Chapter 14: Goromand, Newektiland, The Present Day

Using her ring, Scully reached out to her comrades telepathically.

Who is this 'Sailor Doom'? Is this the woman who claims to be Victor von Doom's daughter?

Saegusa replied: That's right. The story has it that twenty-five years ago a Japanese molecular biologist was attending a scientific conference in Budapest. She caught Doom's eye and he somehow got her to Latveria, either 'persuading' or kidnapping her. Whatever happened, she turned up back in Japan a week later with no explanation. Nine months later, she had a daughter. Supposedly, when the daughter turned twenty, the mother told her the truth of who her father was. The daughter became obsessed with making Doom acknowledge her and, over her mother's objections, flew to Latveria to confront Doom. A month later, she appeared in Japan as she is now, and it took the Sailor Scouts, Big Hero Six and the Hyper Dolls to stop her from blowing up Tokyo Tower.

Is she Doom's daughter? asked Scully.

No one knows. Some say that Doom did acknowledge her as his daughter, and gave her her birthright: Disfigurement and madness. To the day he died, Doom never made any public statement about her. All that is known is that she is extremely powerful and extremely intelligent and extremely dangerous.

The entire telepathic conference had taken seconds.

Scully spoke: "What are you doing here, Doom?"

"THAT IS NO CONCERN OF YOURS."

"She's here because this world contains a rare mineral essential to her plans", said Dr. Unpleasant, suddenly.

"WHAT? YOU KNEW-"

"Of course I knew", he said, "You underestimated me. Doom."

He stood up, turned to the Green Lantern, and shrugged off the restraint. You BOTH underestimated me."

He turned to Doom again.

"When you approached me, I played along with you to see what you were up to. I didn't necessarily want to interfere, so long as what you were doing wasn't going to hurt me. Since it won't I don't care."

"FINE. THEN DEAL WITH THESE FOOLS WHILE I CARRY OUT MY WORK."

"No, I don't think so. I'm bored with you, Doom, and I don't fancy another beating just to do your dirty work. I think I'll go home now. I'll take these idiots with me, too. I'm sure I can think of some fun thing to do with them - or to them."

Popeye rushed at him, yelling "Yer not goin' anywhere!" but found himself stopped short by a forcefield.

Dr. Unpleasant looked at Scully. "Oh, and just to stir the pot a bit, Lantern, here's a piece of information you may find useful: She's a child of two worlds. Remember that: She's a child of two worlds."

With that, Dr. Unpleasant and the other villains vanished.

"VERY WELL", said Doom, "I'LL DEAL WITH YOU MYSELF!"

Scully and her friends turned back to Doom, just as waves of powerful energy began to flow from her manual prostheses. Taken by surprise, the heroes fell to the floor, stunned. Even as they began to stir, another wave of energy knocked them back again.

"THUS WILL FALL ALL WHO OPPOSE ME."

Satisfied that her opponents were temporarily disabled, Sailor Doom turned and walked back into the heart of the castle.

Seconds later, the five companions were back on their feet.

"Where did she go?" asked Saegusa.

"I'm gettin' a weird energy reading from almost directly below us", said Bender.

"A castle like this must have a dungeon", said Link.

"Whatever she's doing", said Scully, "she's probably doing it from there. Let's go!"

The five raced down to the dungeon. Sure enough, Sailor Doom was there, fussing with the controls of a machine that looked like a Hammond organ as co-designed by Jack Kirby and Rube Goldberg. From the top stuck out what looked like a giant tuning fork. As the heroes rushed forward, they found themselves stopped by yet another forcefield. Even as they worked on penetrating it, Scully spoke to Doom.

"Doom, what is that thing?"

"IT IS THE COSMIC TUNING FORK. MY GREATEST INVENTION. THE ONE WHERE I WILL FINALLY SURPASS MY FATHER."

"What will it do?"

"IT WILL SPLIT OUR TIMELINE INTO ITS COMPONENT PARTS."

"What do you mean by 'component parts'?"

"HAVE YOU NEVER WONDERED WHY SO MUCH OF OUR WORLD'S HISTORY IS CONVOLUTED? WHY THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF DIFFERENT INTELLIGENT RACES CO-EXISTING ON OUR EARTH? WHY EVERY LEGEND PROVES TO BE TRUE, WHY EVERY MYTHICAL BEING PROVES TO BE REAL? WHY SO MANY PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS AND CONCEPTS THAT SHOULD CONTRADICT ONE ANOTHER CONTORT THEMSELVES TO CO-EXIST? I DID. AND I FOUND THE REASON WHY."

"What reason?"

"THE REASON LIES IN EVENTS WHICH YOU NO LONGER REMEMBER ACCURATELY. DO YOU REMEMBER A BEING CALLED THE ANTI-MONITOR?"

"Of course, he was from the Negative Zone. He tried to destroy our timeline, but was defeated when a being called the Monitor appeared and gathered an army of heroes and villains. In the end, only the Monitor and Anti-Monitor were killed. A few years later, your putative father accidentally 'resurrected' him, but the 'resurrection' was undone, and no one's seen him since."

"I WILL IGNORE THE SLUR ON MY FATHER, FOR THE MOMENT. YOU DESCRIBE THE EVENTS AS EVERYONE NOW REMEMBERS THEM, BUT MY RESEARCH HAS REVEALED THE TRUTH. ORIGINALLY, THE ELEMENTS THAT COMPRISE OUR TIMELINE WERE SCATTERED BETWEEN OVER ONE HUNDRED SEPARATE TIMELINES. THE ANTI-MONITOR BROKE DOWN THE BARRIERS BETWEEN THESE TIMELINES, HOPING THAT THEY WOULD DESTROY ONE ANOTHER. THANKS TO THE INTERVENTION OF HEROES AND VILLAINS FROM ALL OF THESE TIMELINES, THEY WERE NOT DESTROYED. HOWEVER, THEY WERE UNABLE TO RESTORE THE BARRIERS. INSTEAD, THEY DID THE BEST THEY COULD. THEY MERGED THE TIMELINES IN SUCH A WAY THAT NOTHING WAS LOST. BUT I SHALL OUTDO HIM. WITH THE COSMIC TUNING FORK, I SHALL RE-SEPARATE THE TIMELINES AND RESTORE THE BARRIERS."

"But why?"

"SIMPLE. THIS WORLD OF OURS IS LITTERED WITH THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME. WITH THE TIMELINES SEPARATED, I SHALL ONLY HAVE TO DEAL WITH A FRACTION OF THEIR NUMBER."

"We'll stop you, Doom, we must!" As she spoke, their efforts to break through Doom's force field bore fruit at last.

"YOU'RE TOO LATE!" said Doom pulling the switch. The Cosmic Tuning Fork began to hum. Scully and her friends vanished, reality began to flicker, and Sailor Doom began to scream.

 

 

Chapter 15: Somewhere Outside of Spacetime

A glowing green rectangle large enough to hold three humans, an elf and a robot shone brightly in the realm outside of what is real.

"Lantern, what happened?" asked Saegusa.

"As soon as I saw that we weren't going to be able to stop Doom, I pulled us out of spacetime so that we wouldn't be affected by whatever her machine did. At the same time, I maintained a link with where we were so that we could see what had happened. Look!"

A screen appeared before them. On it, they could see a flickering image of Sailor Doom standing before her device, frozen in agony. They could her scream, fading in and out in time with the flickering of the image.

"Wha's it flickerin' fer?" said Popeye, "It's like watchin' a old movie!"

"It's like she's fading in and out of reality over and over again. If she's aware of it, then it's no wonder she's screaming!" said Scully.

"Surely this can't have been what she wanted?" said Saegusa. "Something must have gone wrong but what?"

"Wait a minute", said Scully. "What did Dr. Unpleasant call her?  'A child of two worlds'?"

"That's what he said", said Bender. "So what?"

"So this", said Scully. "What if Doom was right and this 'merger of timelines' she spoke of actually did happen? And what if, before this merger, her father was on one timeline and her mother was on another?"

"I see", said Link. "the merger brought her parents to the same timeline. It was only the merger that allowed her to exist."

"Exactly", said Scully. "And by negating the merger, she caused herself to cease to have ever existed!"

"But", said Saegusa, "if she never existed, she would never have built the Cosmic Tuning Fork, and the merger would've happened and she would've existed, and - oh, I see. She created a temporal paradox. She negated her own existence, but this negation brought about a situation in which she existed again, and so on, ad infinitum. That's why she keeps popping in-and-out of existence."

"I doesn't understan' a word o’ this", said Popeye. "What do we gotta do?"

"We have to undo the paradox", said Scully, "If it's allowed to continue the whole timeline could disintegrate and re-form in unpredictable ways: We might get our own timeline back, the pre-merger timelines, or something brand new that would be unfamiliar to all of us."

"So, what do we do?" asked Link. "Go back and shut down the device?"

"It's not that simple", said Scully. "Once we re-enter spacetime, we'll become subject to the paradox. We might end up popping in-and-out of existence like Doom, or just shunting back and forth between Goromand and wherever we would've been had the merger never happened."

"Hey, that ring lets you time travel", said Bender, "why don't we just go back to before she turned the machine on?"

"Because that would generate another paradox", said Scully.

"Oh, yeah."

Saegusa spoke up: "Could you use the ring to slow the flow of time?"

"I'd have to re-enter spacetime to do it, and then I'd be subject to the paradox."

"Green Lantern", Link asked, "this link through which we see and hear what is happening where we were - can it send sounds the other way?"

"Yes."

"Then I believe I have an answer." He pulled the Ocarina of Time from his pouch. "This is the Ocarina of Time. I have used it in the past to halt and reverse the flow of time. I believe that if you can convey its music to Newektiland, I can use it to temporarily hold the paradox in abeyance long enough for you to smash the device. Will that undo the paradox?"

"It should. Alright then, let's plan. As soon as Link's music does its magic, I'll drop us back into spacetime. Link will be defenseless, so Popeye, Bender and Saegusa-san, you'll have to take care of Doom while I destroy the Cosmic Tuning Fork. Any questions?"

There were none, and so they prepared. Popeye ate his last can of spinach, and he Saegusa and Bender conferred on strategy. When Link was ready, he began to play. At first, nothing seemed to happen, but then the flickering slowed and stopped. Sailor Doom stopped screaming and looked around disoriented. Scully dropped herself and her friends back into spacetime. Scully flew over to the Cosmic Tuning Fork and used the full force of her ring to pulverize it. Saegusa and Popeye rushed Doom and began pummeling her psychically and physically. The last thing Doom saw before she lost consciousness were Bender's hands reaching for her throat.

"Kill all humans", he said.

Continued in Part Two

 

 

 

 



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