Friday, February 17, 2012

Insert Random Scream of Pain Here (part 4 of 5)

Lights began to flash across the Fandom Stabilizer as it activated. A loud hum filled the air as Asasca and the assembled Protection Society and Sues stared at the device in awe.

The hum grew louder and louder until it was beyond deafening. Ben clapped his hands over his ears as the noise reached an unbearable volume.

Asasca turned to his allies, arms spread wide dramatically.

"And now," he somehow shouted over the din. "The dawn of a new world!"

Unfortunately for him, it was at that exact second that a harsh grinding noise sounded, and with a clatter the Fandom Stabilizer shut down. Several warning lights began to pulse red as sparks flew from a handful of access points.

Asasca stood stock still for a second, then turned slowly to glare at Neb, Raven and the rest.

"All right!" He roared, his face red with rage. "Which one of you idiots forgot to hook the flux capacitor back into the coaxilizing rationalization convertor?"

There was a silent chorus of feet shuffling and eye shifting from the Protection Society Agents.

"Never mind," Asasca hissed, rolling up his sleeves and stalking towards the massive device. "I'll just have to fix this myself."

"How long with that take?" Raven asked, moving to help him.

"A few hours, give or take."

"I knew it wouldn't work," Relyt muttered. "Remind me again why the higher-ups let him go ahead with this?"

"Quit complaining," Neb growled.

Cassandra pulled out a communicator of some sort and held it up to her ear for a second before turning away, swearing.

"Everything OK?" Ekard asked.

"I can't geet my seester." Cassandra huffed. "I've been trying for 'ours now."

Ben pulled Bella aside as the Protection Society agents bickered.

"Are you OK?" he asked. "Did they do anything to you?"

Bella shook her head. "I'm fine."

Ben let out a sigh of relief. "Good. I was so worried."

"I'm all right," Bella reassured him. " But what happened? What are you doing here? And where's Shirley?"

Ben grimaced and related the events of the past couple of days.

"Repiv panicked and ran," Ben concluded. "I followed him here and we fought. Shirley managed to kill Repiv, but she got hurt in the fight, so she stayed behind to rest."

He sighed.

"To make things short, the Elimination Society thinks I'm a traitor, so I don't think we'll be able to count on any reinforcements coming. We're on our own here."

Silence reigned between them for a long moment, then Bella asked a question.

"Ben, I know Asasca is your greatest creation, but who is he really?"

Ben turned to look at his erstwhile character who was busy working on the Fandom Stabilizer.

"Him? He's the man behind the curtain, the Chessmaster, the man behind the man."

Ben turned back to look at Bella. "Back before I discovered fanfiction, my stories were always somewhat of a cross between fantasy and super-hero comic-bookery. Asasca's hard to define him."

Ben's brow creased as he thought. "It's like this," He said at last. "My earliest generations of stories centered around an evil entity I named Sluthen. Sluthen was your average run-of-the-mill-destroy-the-universe-refuses-to-stay-dead baddy. But for some reason or another I never got around to explaining, Asasca and Sluthen hated each other with a passion, so Asasca would go from world to world one step ahead of Sluthen, and grant a team of teenagers the power to fight him."

"So, that's all he did?" Bella asked. "He gave people super-powers and disappeared? Sounds like a walking deus ex machina if you ask me."

Ben shrugged. "That's pretty much what he was. But later on, my stories and Asasca's role both changed. He tended to head small, highly powerful strike forces of teens he had bestowed power to. In return for their servitude, Asasca promised them that they'd find the answer or solution to some personal problem or struggle they were dealing with. He also evolved the Chessmaster personality, playing people off against each other and even using his own servants as pawns. I tried hard to make him morally ambiguous. Sure, he helps people, but there's always something in it for him. He's not above betraying his own servants if it served his own ends."

"You said his primary ability was to bestow power on others." Bella said, looking towards Asasca. "Just how powerful is he?"

Ben sighed and scratched his head. "See, that's the thing. Since Asasca was always the master planner type, he virtually never fought himself. He always let his subordinates do any dirty work for him. So to answer your question, even I have no clue. He could be strong enough to take on the entire Elimination Society with both hands tied behind his back, or he could be so weak a Care Bear could mop the floor with him. There's really no way of telling, short of engaging him head on."

"So what are we going to do?" Asked Bella.

Ben sighed. "I'm not sure what we CAN do. We're out numbered three to one, and I have absolutely no clue where we are or how to get out of here. And to top things off, the Society thinks I'm a turn-coat, so there's no hope of back-up."

He looked back towards Asasca and the rest. "We're on our own here."

There was another long silence.

"I'm sorry," Bella said softly. "This is all my fault."

Ben turned back to look at her.

Bella was sitting on a rock with her arms wrapped around her knees, drawing them up to her chest.

"All this time I've done nothing but cause trouble for you," Bella continued. "If it weren't for me-"

"Don't think like that!" Ben cut her off. "You didn't ask for any of this! If anything, all of this is my fault for creating Asasca in the first place."

"But what are we going to do?" Bella insisted.

"I don't know," Ben admitted. "But I'm going to get both of us home alive."

He looked Bella straight in the eye.

"I promise."

"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were being serious."

Ben turned at Neb's snicker, glaring at his counterpart who was flanked by Ekard and Relyt.

"What do you want?" he growled, dropping one hand to Bahamut.

"I got bored," Neb shrugged. "So I figured I'd come over here and have a little fun. You're not busy, are you?" he leered.

"Too busy to waste time on someone like you!" Bella shot back.

Neb raised an eyebrow. "Watch your mouth," He rasped. "Asasca said I couldn't kill you, he didn't say anything about not beating you bloody."

"You lay so much as a hand on her and I swear to god I'll-"

"You'll what?" Neb challenged, cutting Ben off. "You know, I think you need a lesson in respect more than your girlfriend does! Grab him!"

Before Ben could react Ekard and Relyt grabbed him by the arms, restraining him.

"Now," Neb said, cracking his nuckles. "School is in session."

"Let him go."

Bella's voice was dangerously calm.

"Or what?" Neb sneered, turning to face her. "You'll zap me with your little energy beams?"

Bella met his gaze evenly, the green energy in her fists pulsing gently.

"That's the general idea, yeah."

"Why don't you try it?" Neb scoffed. "See what-"

"Hey, Neb!" Ben interrupted.

Neb turned back to face the Agent.

Ekard and Relyt still had a hold of Ben's outstretched arms, holding them out to the side. Ben's hands were spread as well and his fingers were splayed in every direction.

He smirked. "Don't mess with Nukes."

"No!" Neb looked around wildly, but it was too late. A curtain of warheads was descending all around them.
Ekard and Relyt had let go of Ben in shock. He grabbed Bella by the hand and pulled her out of the way as the bombs exploded, the entire cavern shook violently.

One of the nukes collided with the Fandom Stabilizer, the explosion blowing the top half of the device clean off. It smashed into the ground, barely missing Asasca and Raven who dove for cover, shielding their heads from the falling debris.

Stalactites broke from the shaking ceiling, plummeting to the ground point-first like spears where they shattered into stone shards.

Suddenly, before even half of the nukes had gone off, the cave ceiling exploded inward and Adrian, Aster in fae form, Cristoph, Drake and Shirley came flying in.

"Aster!" Adrian called as they fell. "Give us an air cushion!"

"You got it!" the fae chirped and instantly the group's descent slowed. There was a flash as Adrian summoned Hoshikuzu and angled towards Asasca, sword raised to strike.

Asasca reached over his shoulder and drew his own sword, just in time to bock a swing from the still airborne Adrian.

Their swords locked and eyes met as Adrian remained perched in mid-air.

Asasca raised an eyebrow. "Hmm..."

He gave his sword a swing, breaking the lock. Adrian hit the ground and slid backwards several feet.

"So you're the Librarian." Asasca said, twirling his sword idly. "This should be interesting..."

In response, Adrian raised Hoshikuzu and charged.

Meanwhile, Christoph had engaged Relyt in a flurry of strikes, blocks and parries, neither giving, nor moving an inch.

Drake and Aster were double-teaming Raven, the black-haired Stu taking both on without breaking a sweat. Aster flitted around Raven, loosing various spells at him, while Drake took a more direct approach armed with his spear.

Raven deflected a blast of magic and a spear thrust with one flick of his sword, then released a wave of energy from his palm. Aster was forced to make some very undignified aerial maneuvers to avoid it while Drake was unceremoniously bowled over, the spell denting his armor.

"Is that really the best you two have?" Raven asked, leaning on his sword as Aster and Drake recovered. "I get more of a challenge from stretching when I get up in the morning! At least make this worth my time, won't you?" he cried, grabbing his sword and going on the offensive. Aster and Drake fell back, struggling to keep their limbs intact as Raven advanced, his sword a blur.

Ekard looked around, trying to decide who he should help, when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around. It was Shirley.

"Hi," she grinned evilly. "Remember me?"

Ekard paled. "OH, NOT HER AGAIN!" he shouted as Shirley started chasing him.

Neb looked around desperately. This was bad. The Fandom Stabilizer had been destroyed, and if the Librarian were here, chances were they had already lost, Asasca or no Asasca. He had no interest in risking his life in an uncertain battle. With one last glance around the battlefield, he turned and ran.

Ben and Bella slowly picked themselves up from off the ground. They had narrowly missed getting caught in an explosion from a nearby nuke and barely avoided an ensuing barrage of falling rocks.

Bella looked around at the warring agents. "How'd they find us here?" she asked, open-mouthed.

"Who knows?" Ben asked grimly. "I'm more worried about-" Then he noticed the fleeing Neb. "Hey! He's getting away!" He shouted.


"Neb! Hey! Christoph! Adrian! Someone! Hey!" Nobody could hear him over the sound of the raging battle.

"Dammit!" Ben swore. "I'm going after him!"

"Who? Neb?"

"Yes!" Ben said sharply, turning back to the Sue. "I want you to hide somewhere and wait for me. Don't budge until I come for you. If I'm not back in an hour, run."

With that, Ben took off after Neb.

"Ben! Wait!" Bella cried. She started after him but an invisible force knocked her off her feet and sent her flying backwards several feet.

"Just 'ere do yoo think 'URE going?" Cassandra asked, striding into view.

Bella struggled to her feet. "Looks like it's time for the obligatory catfight." she growled as her eyes vegan to glow green.

Neb hadn't realized just how large the cavern was. He'd been running for several seconds now, but he'd hardly made any progress.


Neb groaned, he recognized that voice. He turned to see Ben hot on his heels, his face a grim mask. Neb growled and picked up the pace only to come skidding to a stop on the edge of a precipice. The yawning abyss stretched out in front of him, so wide he couldn't see the other side.

Turning back to face the approaching Ben, he raised a palm and rasped, "My coffeemakers rule the world."
Ben slid to a stop and pulled Bahamut around as the tidal wave of coffee came barreling towards him. He quickly began to crash out a rapid-fire stream of power chords, creating a wall of sound, pushing the flood away from him and creating an island in a sea of coffee.

Ben let out a sigh of relief as the last of the java streamed away, but it was cut short as Neb decked him, spinning him around and knocking him to the ground.

Neb took several steps back from the stunned Agent and pointing at him. "Mess with nukes."

Ben shook his head to clear the stars from his vision. The cave was still spinning slightly but he had other things on his mind, namely the approaching nuke. There was no time to think and only just enough time to pray.

Ben flipped onto his back, pulled his Plothole Generator from his holster, held it up and fired, creating a plothole in mid-air. The nuke fell through the portal and vanished into an unknown fandom.

Ben was starting to his feet when Neb plucked his Plothole Generator out of his hand and crushed it. Then he grabbed Ben, raised him over his head, turned around and slammed the agent back onto the cave floor with all his might. Ben gasped in pain as the air was driven from his lungs.

"Let's try this again," Neb said calmly, stepping back and pointing at Ben again. "Mess with nukes."

Ben's eyes widened and he gasped for air desperately as he tried to struggle to his feet, but it was too late. The warhead struck Ben head-on, creating a small mushroom cloud and kicking up a dense cloud of dust and smoke.

"Gotcha," Neb growled, watching the billowing cloud. He had only summoned a minor, localized nuke, but even a small one was more than enough to deal with someone like Ben. Then he heard something. A wheezing noise.

The smoke slowly cleared, revealing Ben who was nearly bent double. Bahamut was slung across his back in shambles. Apparently Ben had used the weapon-instrument to block the force of the blow from Neb's nuke. Ben had one hand on Bahamut's neck, the only part of the guitar that had escaped any significant damage. Bahamut's body was broken open in several different places and severed wires and sparks were poking out.

Ben made the half-wheezing, half-gasping noise again, and Neb realized with a jolt that Ben was laughing.
"Y-you just lost, Neb," he chuckled.

Neb snorted. "Yeah, sure, because I'm the one on the ground sobbing like a little girl."

Ben ignored him. As he took Bahamut off of his back, chips and flakes from the guitar's ruined body fluttered to the ground.

"Tell me," Ben said, straightened up. "Do you know how I defeated Bella the last time we fought?"

"No," Neb sighed. "But I get the feeling you're about to tell me."

"I smashed Bahamut on the ground." Ben said, not paying the least bit of attention to his adversary. "When I did, all the energy stored in Bahamut to power its combat functions was released in a massive explosion. Of course, Bahamut was ruined, so when I got back to the Library Camille almost had to rebuild it from scratch."

"Who's Camille?"

"While she was working on it though, she noticed something interesting..."

Neb groaned. "Oh, don't tell me you're about to have a flashback..."



Camille blinked. "Who was that?"

Ben shook his head. "Ignore it, this is a flashback. So what new features were you talking about?"

Camille walked around the table and over to a bank of computers and began to input several commands.

"I noticed something when I was working on Bahamut." She said. "The energy source I used to power it was a brand-new one I had just invented and had never before tested. It didn't even have a name and frankly, to be honest, I wasn't even sure if it would even work or not."

Ben gulped at the idea of fighting Bella with a short-circuting Bahamut. It did not make a pretty picture.

Camille finally found whaat she was looking for and stepped back to allow Ben to see the computer monitor. Long strings of numbers and various blueprints for Bahamut flashed across the screen.

"When I hooked Bahamut up to these computers to run diagnostics, something didn't add up. The energy expended by Bahamut during its destruction was nearly fifty times what I had charged it with originally."

Ben scowled. "What? How is that possible?"

"I had no clue myself until I conducted a few experiments." Camille turned back to Ben. "Apparently, the energy source Bahamut uses has a very interesting property. Whenever the energy is compressed, the amount of power contained within it is increased exponentially. So the tighter you pack it and the longer you pack it, the stronger it becomes!"

Ben looked down at the silver guitar in his hands with a newfound respect.

"As soon as I discovered this," Camille continued. "I set to work on developing a new function for Bahamut. Now, when Bahamut has sustained a sufficent amount of damage, you can activate what I call the Achilles Device, which releases all the stored power contained within Bahamut. But rather then externalizing the energy and wasting all of it in a single oversized blast-"


"-The Achilles Device internalizes the multiplied power, giving Bahamut a whole new form..."

Neb blinked. "Did you just segue the dialogue from a character in a flashback into your own line?"


Neb nodded appreciatively. "Smooth."

Ben shrugged modestly. "I thought so."

Then his eyes hardened. "Get ready to face the face of war, Neb!"

Behind his sunglasses, Neb's eyes widened. What the-? Is his voice changing?

Ben held Bahamut up, his voice distorting.

"Strike with the fury of a wounded god... Bahamut!"

There was a flash of light and an explosion of darkness. Shadows and smoke billowed around Ben, hiding him from view.

Even from a distance away, Neb could feel the raw force emanating from the cloud. It was like being faced with an unbearably loud noise. You put your hands over your ears, but you still have to turn or back away.

"Ben," Neb ground out, trying to keep his voice steady. "What is that?"

"This?" Ben's voice asked from inside the cloud. "This is my Bankai, my Limit Break, my Final Form."

There was a wail of a guitar and the shadows were blown away, revealing Ben once again.

"This," said Ben, "is Death Metal Bahamut."

Bahamut had transformed. It's original polished silver color had changed to a jet black. It had changed shape too, from the gentle waves and curves of the SG variety, to the jagged edges and spikes of a Warlock configuration. The black swoosh on the top and bottom of the front of the body had inverted as well, from a black to a silver which shone brightly in the darkness.
Ben kept one hand on the fretboard which had extended by another two feet, letting his other arm hang at his side.

Neb struggled to remain calm, he could feel the raw power from the weapon.

"Is that it?" He sneered, trying to sound confident. "Is that all your Achilles Device can do? Give your electric twanger a makeover? Pathetic! My coffeemakers-"

Ben intruppted him, plucking a single string on Death Metal Bahamut. A concussive blast slammed out from the transformed guitar, knocking Neb back several yards and slamming him into a stalagmite.

Neb shook the stars from his vision, staggering upright. "You-won't beat me that easy!" He grated, lifting a finger. "Mess with-"

It was at that instant he noticed Ben's fingers strumming a second note on the black guitar. Neb dodged, but he didn't move quickly enough. The shockwave caught him in the side, spinning him around and slamming him into the ground, the blast shattering one of the lenses in his sunglasses.

The Protection Society Agent heard a second, less prominent thump as he hit the ground. As he slowly got to his feet, dazed, he noticed something on the ground. Someones severed arm lay several feet away, slowly oozing blood. It was a bizarre, almost comical sight, a severed arm just lying there on the ground. Then Neb felt a dull ache in his right shoulder, and when he looked over, his own arm was missing, blood spurting from a ragged stump.

Neb gasped in shock and pain, then whirled on Ben, shaking, blood still spraying from his shoulder.

"What are you?" He half-screamed at Ben, the one eye visible through his broken sunglasses wide with fear and rage.

"I told you Neb!" Ben shouted, hauling back on Bahamut. "I'm your death!"

He fired one last blast, the shockwave picking Neb up off his feet and tossing him over the edge of the abyss like a rag doll. Neb hardly had enough time for one final scream before it, and he, vanished forever.


Asasca and Adrian moved steadily across the cave floor, swords flashing and ringing in the darkness.

"Not half bad..." Asasca murmured as he blocked a twisting blow from Hoshikuzu.

"Don't patronize me!" Adrian barked. "Boot to the head!"


Asasca staggered back, a bootprint plastered across his face. He rubbed his face vigirously for a moment, before looking up and roaring with laughter.

"Excellent!" he shouted. "Do it again!"

"Your wish is my command!" growled Adrian. "Boot to the head!"


Asasca caught Adrian's boot on his sword's flat and with a flick, sent Adrian staggering back.

"Now then," Asasca said raising his sword as Adrian tried to regain his balance. "Where were we?" he asked with a smirk.


Cassandra winced as she tried her hardest to sustain her force fields. Bella kept up her assault grimly, a continuous stream of twin energy beams wearing against Cassandra's shields. Blue sparks shot from the underside of Cassandra's force fields, burning her slightly, but she forced herself to ignore the pain.

Cassandra growled in frustration. This Sue was stronger than she had expected, Cassandra wasn't sure just how much longer her shields could hold.

Suddenly, Bella stopped the energy streams. Cassandra raised an eyebrow in confusion, then grunted in surprise as Bella renewed her assault, slamming individual charged bursts against Cassandra's shields.

Despite Cassandra's best efforts, she was forced back and her force fields finally buckled, a blast of emerald energy struck her in the abdomen, knocking her backwards and driving the wind out of her.

Cassandra heard a scream as she picked herself and turned just in time to see Neb being kncoked over the edge of the cliff.

Cassandra's eyes widened in shock. "Raveen!" She cried, whirling.

The Stu swatted Aster out of the air with the flat of his blade and turned to Cassandra. "What?" He asked, bored.

"They got Neb!" she shouted. "'Ee's dead!"

Raven growled as he spun back around to face the rest of the warring agents. "Retreat!" He shouted over the din of the battle. "Return to headquarters!"

He turned back to Drake who was leaning on his spear, trying to remain upright.

"This isn't over," he warned as he opened a Plothole and vanished. The rest of the Protection Society and Cassandra followed suit and in seconds, they were gone.


Ben collapsed to his knees in exhaustion, leaning on Death Metal Bahamut for support.

With a flicker the black guitar reverted back to its standard form, using the last of its energy to repair itself. Ben smiled down at the guitar. It was finally over. For now, Bahamut would be powerless, but it was a simple enough matter to recharge it. He looked out across the chasm, wondering idly just how long it would take Neb to reach the bottom of the canyon.

He turned as he heard a clapping sound. Asasca sat on a nearby stalagmite, applauding slowly.

"Bravo!" He chuckled, taking a sip from what appeared to be a tea cup. "That was better than Pay-Per-View!"

"Asasca," Ben said, getting to his feet "What are you-"


Ben turned to find Bella sprinting towards him. She threw her arms around him, and he returned the gesture, hugging the Mary-Sue tightly.

"Are you OK?" Bella asked worriedly, pulling back so she could get a better look at Ben. "You're not hurt are you?"

"Nothing serious," Ben assured her. "I'll be fine. What about everyone else?"

"I wouldn't worry about that if I were you."

Ben turned to find Adrian, flanked by the rest of the Society, standing behind them.

"You've got more important things to worry about. We found Shirley and she told is what happened."

Ben gave Shirley a look. The Cliche Stick bit her lip and refused to meet Ben's gaze.

Adrian folded his arms. "You've got a lot of explaining to do. You too." He said to Asasca. Asasca put on his best innocent face.

Ben started to speak, but Adrian raised a hand, cutting him off.

"This isn't the place," He said. "We'll talk back at the Library."

"We'll have to get her Prohibited." Drake said, pulling a Prohibitor bracelet out of his pocket and starting towards Bella.

"No." Ben said, moving in front of the Sue. Drake stopped dead in his tracks.

"We HAVE to Prohibit her, Lord Ben!" Christoph insisted. "We can't let a Mary-Sue just walk into the Library Arcanium!"

"I don't care," Ben said flatly. "You're not laying a hand on her!"

Aster bit her lip. "Ben-kun..."

Then the cave started to shake violently.

"What's going on?" Ben shouted as everyone struggled to keep their footing.

"Well, let's see," Asasca said sarcastically, sliding off the stalagmite he was sitting on. "For one thing, you dropped ten different nukes in here and for another you destroyed the Fandom Stabilizer which was the only thing keeping the ceiling up!"

"What?" Ben shouted. "Why would the Fandom Stabilizer be the only thing keeping the ceiling up?"

Asasca shrugged. "I thought it would be more entertaining that way. Plus the author generally finds it amusing when the device you just destroyed ends up making you run away like little muskrats."

"Enough!" Adrian shouted as rocks began to tumble from the ceiling. "Get back to the Library!" He fired his Plothole Generator and vanished through the created rift.

Christoph and Drake shot Ben a look before jumping through the Plothole themselves, folowed by Aster.

"Come on, Ben!" Shirley shouted urgently, ducking as a stone smashed to the ground next to her.

"I'll be right there!" Ben yelled back. "Bella, you go first!"

The green haired Sue started for the portal, only to be knocked back by an invisible force accompanied by a rude sound.

"What's wrong?" Shirley demanded as larger and larger rocks began to fall around them.

"I forgot!" Ben shouted, smacking himself. "The Library's safeguarded against any outsiders! Bella can't get in through that Plothole unless she's Prohibited!"

He started forward to help Bella up, when Shirley shouted a warning, too late.

Ben looked up just in time to see a massive piece of stone break from the ceiling and come plummeting towards them.

There was no time to move; there was no time to think. Ben wrapped his arms around Bella and closed his eyes as a shadow fell over them.

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