The Last Heroes

Written by Tanith




The Andromeda Ascendant hovered silently in the depths of space, imperceptible to the universe under her many layers of stealth technology and magic. Underneath her cloak of stealth, her engines thrummed in anticipation, ready to jump into high gear at the slightest disturbance.

On the bridge of this vessel, the culmination of the best tech the multiverse can achieve under a mind both creative and paranoid even before the strife of war hit, tension hung thick in the air.

Her captain and pilot, Tanith, paced the bridge impatiently, awaiting the sign for which she had come to this border universe of the dreaded Overlord Chuckg's domain. This universe had been such a high hope for the Resistance Forces against the Overlord's reign. A battle had been led by a fleet of Culture vessels, which had escaped the catastrophes of their home universe through the pure luck of having been exploring their relatively newly gained dimensional drives. But no longer. What was left for the survivors that fought bravely here was retreat... or death... or worse.

As Tanith paced, she would occasionally look over at her younger sister Rune, who sat silently upon one of the bridge chairs. Each time, she saw no change to the glassy and gazed look in her sister's eyes, as Rune probed beyond the range of even the Andromeda's ultra-perceptive sensors with her clairsentience.

At the back of the bridge stood the imposing figures of the three bodyguards and security heads on board. Metaphysician was carefully watching Rune as well, for any signs of awareness. Mg_knt was absently tinkering with his blaster as he awaited whatever action that was to come. Jaffa shifted from one foot to another once in a while, trying not to give into the urge to start pacing as well.

Suddenly, Rune blinked. And all attention was focused on the young girl. She returned their looks and spoke. "They come within the minute. But the ENEMY follows."

Immediately, Tanith gave out orders to the Andromeda AI that was omnipresent within the ship. "Rommie, prepare the standard info package. Have then turn over command of their nav systems to us as soon as they appear"

She turned to Rune once more. "How did they fare?"

Rune sighed, slightly despondent. "Not well. But at least the Ships that fell had the foresight to preserve a backup copy of their Minds beforehand."

As she spoke, a hologram of the Andromeda's AI avatar, nicknamed Rommie, appeared on the bridge.

Without preamble, she spoke. "Sensors are detecting dimensional drive disturbances a few systems awa-- The GSV Great Expectations is protesting handing over its navigational controls."

Rune frowned as her eyes glazed for a moment once more. She bit her lip in consternation. "The ENEMY comes. Ten seconds, at the most."

Tanith dropped into the pilot seat, picking up her pilot VR goggles as she spoke to Rommie. "Tell them all that unless they want to play cat and mouse with their pursuers, they'll do as I say."

With that, she began interfacing with the slipstream drive systems, not even hearing Rommie's confirmation of the GSV's acceptance.

From an external view, it seemed that a fleet of large and war-weary battleships suddenly materialized around a space of nothingness. Within a second, a slipstream portal appeared next to them, and the gathered fleet immediately moved in.

A second after the last Culture vessel cleared the portal, an even larger fleet of war-ready battleships materialized in the area and attempted to follow the fleet in. Perhaps two or three succeeded in entering the portal before it was closed.


*****


Meanwhile, in the 2.0 Universe, a small fleet of vessels that bore some resemblance to SC Battlecruisers appeared suddenly in Earth orbit. Several were covered with scorch-marks, and one seemed to be venting some sort of plasma out of its engines. A few moments later, that last vessel suddenly exploded in a fiery inferno.

On board the largest vessel of the fleet, the assembled core members of Earth 2.0 elite defense force, HALST, met in discussion. While their homeworld had not been invaded yet, they were all concerned at the falls of their various alliances throughout the multiverse.

Suddenly, proximity clarions rang out on the ship. On the screen, a strangely shaped vessel appeared in Earth orbit.

KrispyKreme blinked as he recognized the vessel. "A cabbit? But I thought Tanith confirmed that Washu and her gang were... dead."

Beside him, Nobody, who had just beamed over from his upgraded Corellian Corvette, shook his head. "That's not Ryo-oh-oki. It's Z-man's ship."

Sure enough, the cabbit-vessel hailed the lead HALST battlecruiser, and the image of Z-man appeared on the screen. He seemed slightly tired, and his expression was grave. "Hi guys. We gotta talk. Did you know that there's been some type of barrier erected just outside of the 3.0 universe? I've been stuck there for the last couple of months before I finally found the right combination of supers to squeeze me through."

"Dude! So that's where you were!" exclaimed Ramz. "We all thought you got axed by that Evil Overlord!"

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about too," continued Z-man gravely. "It seems a lot has happened since I went to Earth 3.0. And for some reason, I can't raise Tanith on any hails. Nor can I reach the PaDT offices on Khazan... or heck, I can't reach Khazan, by transmission or by navigation, period."

KrispyKreme shook his head ruefully. "Dude, beam over. You've got a lot of catchin' up to do. And heck, we don't even know what the big picture is. It's been a crazy time lately."


*****


Back in the slipstream, the Andromeda and the many vessels clustered in its wake shot along the mind-boggling twists and folds of the slipstream as an sea-otter through kelp. With practiced ease, Tanith directed its seemingly insane roller coaster ride along the branching paths that appeared before her one after another.

It only took a second for them to lose the few vessels that pursued them. The very nature of the slipstream made it almost impossible to navigate via AI's, no matter how complex or advanced. It took an organic mind, as well as luck and faith, to master the slipstream. Luckily for Tanith, the probability affecting aspects of her shadow-walking powers was perfectly suited for this, together giving her more range and versatility than the original designers of the slipstream drive ever dreamed of.

Just as quietly as they had entered the slipstream, the cluster of vessels suddenly reappeared in real space as they exited it. With a shimmer, the Andromeda dropped its cloak and returned control the other vessels' navigation systems to their respective Minds. Together, the fleet slowly approached the nexus-world of Khazan.

As they neared the planet, details could be made out of the once thriving world. Now, depleted of much of its client worlds, Khazan was much like a ghost town, with only the orphans of the multiverse occupying it. In fact, it was only the blessings and interventions of multiple deities who have occasionally wandered through or participated in that once exciting world, which kept it from long having become another trophy world to the Evil Overlord's clutches. For now, the nexus was protected from any that did not know how to reach it.

But even as the sad moaning of the winds whipped through the deserted cities of Khazan, activity still stirred below its seemingly sterile appearance.

For it has become the Last Free City.

A hidden command center for the newly risen heroes of Earths 2.0 and 3.0, as well as their remaining allies.




Back