By Raijin (Snakeman)
(It's Saturday evening at the Mechanical Maniacs' apartment in the Wily Underground. Half the team is just getting back from a day of running errands for Doc Robot, meeting up with the other half already settled in and watching TV after finishing their own weekly chores.)
Topman: Well, that was certainly a week. I don't think the RPD ever had me running back and forth as much as Doc Robot does with his parts deliveries.
Hardman: That's what happens when we can't teleport as readily as we'd like.
Topman: I think Expressman could be doing more of his share. I must remember to act unimpressed at his delivery rate next time I see him. He bites at any chance to be competitive about his speed.
Hardman: Not a bad idea. Who do I gotta insult to make them take my weapons testing duties? I'm getting pretty tired of being blasted in the gut by artillery fire all day.
Sparkman: I don't think you actually have to do that job. I think the WRF just likes doing it to you.
Hardman: What? Don't they have you helping to build the weapons? What's the point of making all new guns if it's just to shoot me with them?
Sparkman: No, the guns have a purpose... I'm just saying we could probably be testing them without a live subject.
Hardman: Oh, now that's where you're wrong, my friend. You don't get authentic shooting range results by hitting an inanimate dummy. Only a robot that can feel pain and activate a fight-or-flight response can tell you how effective a weapon can be against an unpredictable enemy. It's one of the original primary purposes of robotkind.
Snakeman: And... you're okay with performing that role?
Hardman: Of course not. Well, sometimes. Maybe not all day on a Saturday. My armor could use a break, that's all.
Needlegal: (Swapping out discs in the media player) Welcome back. You're just in time. We just finished watching the Westworld movie and were about to start on the series.
Magnetman: I dunno, fellas. I think I've seen enough robot cowboy abuse for one night. I might just head to the bathroom to vomit.
Geminiman: Oh please, and you guys call me dramatic. This version was made four decades later, Magnet. I think culture had advanced enough by then to be more sensitive to the perspective of cowboy robots, if not to the tenets of good taste.
Topman: (Flopping into his chair) Is this all you guys did today while the rest of us were running around?
Needlegal: Excuse me? Some of us had to spend our afternoon repairing the damage from Chargeman's last morning jog. Or were you looking forward to staring up through a big hole in the ceiling for another week?
Topman: Right. Sorry. I'm just... I didn't... (Looks up at the ceiling) Nice work, by the way.
Needlegal: Thank you for noticing.
Geminiman: I only just got in a couple hours ago from a supply run, so you can thank me for the E-freshments while we watch TV for the remainder of our time off.
Shadowman: And you can thank me for the TV itself. Who do you think went out and stole it?
Sparkman: Didn't we already have one?
Shadowman: Not this morning. We had a big hole in the roof and when nobody else was around, some jerks snuck in and stole it. I got this one from some other unguarded Underground tenement with a hole in its side.
Hardman: Ah, the circle of life continues.
Snakeman: And we'll probably have to do it all over again tomorrow. No such thing as weekends when we're just constantly doing what we have to in order to get by.
Magnetman: Wait, didn't you get in a few hours ago, Snake?
Snakeman: Huh? No, I was decrypting RPD communications all day. Why?
Magnetman: Coulda sworn we heard you in your room playin' on that VR gizmo or whatever.
Snakeman: You mean the Navi Transm... What the hell?
(Snakeman dashes to his room. He returns moments later dragging out a resigned Waveman.)
Snakeman: Out! OUT! What made you think breaking into our place and using my transmitter was even remotely okay!?
Waveman: Geez! I didn't break in! Your roof hole was open. I asked Punk and Reggae if it was okay to come in and they said yes.
Snakeman: What do Punk and Reggae have to do with anything!?
Waveman: They were in here moving your TV.
Shadowman: Of course it was them. Well, they're going on the list.
Snakeman: But WHY my transmitter? Don't you have your own?
Waveman: Aw, the other guys wanted to use it out of boredom since our TV was stolen this morning. I prefer to net-dive in quiet solitude. Can't I borrow yours when you're not around? You got to use mine that one time.
Snakeman: Well, now we're even. Never come here again. I'll remember to keep a Search Snake watching my room from now on.
Geminiman: Shouldn't you have those things watching the whole apartment? Unsecured open holes, at least?
Snakeman: I can only split my attention so many ways, Gem.
(Just before Snake can toss Wave out the front door, a familiar whirring sound interrupts the gathering. The Maniacs immediately sink into their chairs, groaning.)
Needlegal: Damn it, Quint, why now?
(The Time Skimmer appears and Quint emerges dramatically with Hadrian at his side.)
Quint: Greetings, one and all. I can see you're well prepared for this by now. Yes, well, shall we make it official? Mechanical Maniacs! Come quickly! Your assistance is needed ... in the future!
Magnetman: We just got done with a long day. Fer a time traveler you have such a lousy sense of timing. How about you at least explain the basics of your mission before you compel us to mount up?
Hadrian: It's yer kids, Maggy! Somethin' has t'be done about yer kids!
Geminiman: ...Okay. Now that the unfunny reference is out of the way, could you give us an actual briefing?
Quint: No, that was fairly accurate and succinct. Magnet's kids. Yours too.
Geminiman: Come on, you can't just be that ambig- ... y- ... you mean two different sets of "kids", right? Not the same set of kids together?
Magnetman: I mean, we're robots, so either way the premise doesn't make sense.
Quint: Please! We're wasting time! All will be made clear on the way. Now come, come, all aboard the Skimmer. We shall-
(A sudden, deafening peal of thunder shakes the foundations of their tenement and captures everyone's undivided attention. Moments later, the freshly repaired outer wall bursts inward and a majestic, imposing figure materializes out of the settling cloud of debris.)
Thor: Mechanical Maniacs! We would have words with thee.
Needlegal: (sigh) Oh no. The wall. Again.
Topman: Knocking! It's not much to expect of advanced super-beings!
Magnetman: This is a what now? Do we know this Medieval World renegade?
Shadowman: Oh. Magnet, also whoever else wasn't around for the superhero convention, or the first time we dealt with Quint, this is Thor. He's a superhero.*
(*See Series 2, Issues # 6-7 - The Metropolis Superhero Convention, and Issue # 24 - Journey's End)
Thor: Moreover and more relevant to the task at hand, I am hailed as the Lord of the Storm, the God of Thunder! And in the name of the gods of Asgard and of the realms beyond, thy consultation is desired upon a most grave matter.
Magnetman: Gods of what? And beyond!? I'm going to need you to back up and explain those parts one step at a time.
Shadowman: Can it wait? ...Why am I even bothering to ask.
Thor: Nay! The fate of the universe is at stake! All shall be made clear in due time. Now, prepare thyselves as my mystic mallet, Mjolnir bends the fabric of reality to transport us all to the Celestial Forum!
Hardman: Well, at least this guy isn't making us stand up.
Quint: Excuse me! Hold on! I believe I was here first! I need the Mechanical Maniacs for a mission of my own!
Magnetman: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I vote to go with Quint. I am actually more used to time travel shenanigans at this point.
Thor: Canst thy mission not wait?
Quint: No! The fate of all time and space is at stake!
Hadrian: Yo! Four-dimensional stakes! That's one-up on yer "fate of th'universe", pal.
Thor: Thou art time travelers? Then simply retrieve thy charges from a different point in time and leave them in mine, anon!
Quint: But-! Ehm...hrm...
Hadrian: Huh. Think he's got ya there, boss.
Quint: So ... (pulls out a tablet with the Skimmer's chronal settings and starts browsing for new time frames.) When do you think you'll have them back?
Needlegal: Damn it, Quint! Don't tell me you're planning to abscond with us immediately after we get back from Thor's thing!
Shadowman: Seriously, mister "master of time and space", can't you let us have, like a day to rest up at least?
Geminiman: Could we bargain for a little more than a day?
Quint: Don't worry, I won't recruit you after you return from this "Celestial Forum" or whatever.
Topman: Small favors.
Quint: It looks like your fate in the immediate future time frame is far too much in flux to make traveling to then safe or practical. I'll just grab you from yesterday instead.
Sparkman: You'd think we would remember if you dragged us off yester--! Oh god! I'm remembering it now!
(The Maniacs all clutch their heads in horror as new recent memories paradoxically fill their minds.)
Snakeman: Ahhh! This is messed up! Why would you do this!?
Geminiman: You asshole! Those weren't even our kids! That entire mission turned out to be a bust!
Shadowman: Quint! Don't recruit us yesterday! We're telling you that it's going to be pointless and excrutiating!
Quint: Sorry, it's destined to be now. Regardless of the outcome, we must play out our parts to the end. Can't change history.
Needlegal: BUT YOU JUST-!
Magnetman: Wait! Can I still go with-
(Quint and Hadrian board the Time Skimmer and disappear.)
Needlegal, Magnetman: DAMN IT!
Thor: Now that that's settled ... Away!
Topman: Anyone else concerned that Quint said our fates in the immediate future are in flux?
Snakeman: That's probably normal.
(Thor whips up a mystical whirlwind. Within moments, the Maniacs find themselves transported to an otherworldy setting. Vivid galaxies fill the skies above while an opulent crystalline palace lies ahead of them.)
Geminiman: Oh, would you look at that? Someone here has good taste in decor.
Magnetman: The star formations make no sense, there's an atmosphere but nothing to contain it, there's gravity with no apparent mechanism to enable it... How do any of you just accept this as real and not some obvious illusion by the likes of Mesmerman?
Geminiman: It still could be, doesn't mean the apparent scenery isn't impressive.
Snakeman: Heh, it's kinda tame by cyberworld standards. Just saying.
Waveman: Agreed. I've seen more impressive crystal palaces floating in space.
Snakeman: Uh huh-Wh--WAVEMAN!? Why did you get brought along?
Waveman: How are you surprised? You haven't let me go since you ripped me out of the transmitter.
(Snakeman suddenly notices he's been rearing back to throw Waveman out the front door for the last three minutes and finally drops him roughly to the ground.)
Hardman: Well you're sure as hell not supposed to be here, so, Goldilocks? Whip him back to Earth, would ya?
Magnetman: Me too. I can uh... make sure he gets home okay.
Thor: Nay. All is as it should be.
Shadowman: Strongly disagree.
Thor: Enough prattling! Onward!
(Thor leads the group towards the citadel.)
Topman: So... do you have time to tell us anything else at all about what's going on here? Or where we are?
Thor: As I have said, before thee lies the Celestial Forum. 'Tis a neutral ground betwixt the heavens where gods of all pantheons may convene over matters that concern the cosmos at large.
Magnetman: Right. Because there's more than one heaven, apparently.
Sparkman: If there's even one. Look, Mags, don't let your brain blow out your cowboy hat so easily. Think of Thor less as a 'god' and more of a super-powerful alien that just insists he's a god.
Magnetman: Super-powerful aliens posing as gods aren't really any easier to accept right now.
Shadowman: Why not? That was Ra Moon's whole deal for a while.
Needlegal: Has Trio ever declared himself a god? I bet he would.
Sparkman: Point is, gods aren't real. This is just an elaborate show. Might as well just wait for the curtain to drop.
Thor: Thou shalt soon eat thine words, mortal.
Topman: Enough about what they are! What do they want with us?
Shadowman: Obviously, they need our help with something.
Needlegal: What would god-beings need help from a bunch of outlaw robots for? What if they've decided it's time to condemn us for all our sins?
Shadowman: Then it's a good thing I've lived an unimpeachably pure and just life. I dunno about the rest of you though.
Geminiman: You cannot be serious.
Shadowman: Oh, and do you want to get up on your high horse? Which one of us has committed more war crimes? I'm pretty sure you've edged me out just a bit.
Geminiman: EVIL Lennon is going to burn for that, not me!
Shadowman: That's not how it works! Is it? Thor?
Thor: ENOUGH! We hath arrived.
(Thor knocks his hammer on the gigantic doors before them, signalling them to open with the peal of thunder and a resounding trumpet fanfare echoing from within the hall.)
Thor: In there. The emergency council will tell thee the rest. Now I only brought you this far because I was the only one around here that knew how to find you, but you're all insufferable, so, bye.
(Thor swings his hammer and he quickly flies off into the aether.)
Hardman: Bye, Thor!
???: (Voice booming from within the hall) Let the oracles of the electronic realm come forth!
Waveman: Wow, does that mean us?
Snakeman: You... ugh.
(The Mechanical Maniacs and Waveman trepidatiously enter the cavernous hall to find a gallery of majestic brobdingnagian entities looming all around them. Their eyes strain to look upon some of the beings, as they appear to occupy more dimensions than their minds can perceive, or they radiate halos of otherworldly brilliance that threaten to overload their optic processors.)
Geminiman: Spectacular. What do you say now, Spark?
Sparkman: So they're big, so what? If they want to put on a show, they could at least learn how to turn down the house lights.
Magnetman: Oh dear god.
Vishnu: Yes, greetings. Do not be alarmed. Your presence was requested because it has been foretold that at least one among you possessed insight into the threat that has befallen Our realms. We merely wish to question you.
Shadowman: See? Just as I said. The gods come to us for help. This naturally follows the life we lead.
Magnetman: Fine, I believe you already! Whaddaya want from us, big guy?
Vishnu: Hm. Perhaps you could be somewhat alarmed. No matter. We only ask that you tell Us everything you know about the Sun God.
Geminiman: Which one? I think there are two sitting next to you.
Apollo: Yes, well observed, cretin. There are certainly enough gods of the sun in this firmament as is.
Ra: We have a comfortable arrangement. We take turns giving the others a ride in Our solar boats or chariots or what have you in Our daily journey across the sky. A solar car pool, if you will.
Sparkman: That's not how the sun works!
Apollo: Indeed, every sun may cease to work if this new rogue sun god is not stopped. The balance has been disturbed, and We understand you nine may somehow be responsible.
Snakeman: Oh no, you don't mean... that Sun God...
Shadowman: Sunstar.exe? From the Star Cross fiasco?*
(*See Series 9, Issues # 17-18 - Starcrossed)
Ra: Is that his name? He has identified only as Sun God. Rather presumptuous.
Magnetman: So it's that easy? A computer program comes to life and calls itself a god and that's all it needs to join your club?
Vishnu: Normally, no. However the power on display by this entity is enough to take notice.
Ilias: He appears above worlds of Our followers, demanding repentance. Then, regardless of the response, summons a solar storm to batter the world's atmosphere. The more fortunate civilizations are merely knocked back into the stone age. Some are burnt to a crisp.
Apollo: Prayers for mercy calling out to any sun god that will listen have been resounding for months! Alien deities are left orphaned as billions of their followers are wiped out in an insant.
Waveman: (sobbing) How awful!
Apollo: Yes, quite awful for those poor gods, no beings left to remember and worship Them. My fellow Olympians are in a similar predicament at the moment, but at least as long as the Earth stands We're holding out for Our religion to make a comeback. If this Sun God makes it back there then all hope may be lost.
Needlegal: We were kinda warned this would happen. Apparently that Sun God just really does not like sentient life and also lives in all the stars of the universe.
Hardman: So it's pretty tough to kill. We did try though, You can't fault us for not trying.
Ilias: Do not presume to tell gods what We can and cannot fault you for. You! Small orange one!
Topman: Uh... me?
Ilias: How dare you desecrate this ground by entering upon a wheeled vehicle? Such an affrontery goes against the 83rd Commandment of Celestial Law!
Topman: I didn't know? Also, these wheels are a part of me.
Vishnu: We may grant you pardon this one time, if only to remain focused on the task at hand. Now if you were there for his origin, explain, if you can, how Sun God came to be.
Snakeman: It's kinda complicated and nonsensical, like the original plan didn't involve shifting over to a parallel universe, but the gist of it is that an alien consciousness born from the stars got embedded in a computer network, then gradually merged its scattered parts into an avatar manifested in the real world with the help of a portal to the cyberworld... Does that make sense?
Apollo: Everything except the phrases "computer network" and "cyberworld". Does that have something to do with the world of Your followers, Primus?
Primus: It is called CyberTRON. No. The Allspark has never interfaced with such a consciousness, and these non-transforming robots are not within My domain. Unless... you, the one whose kibble bears the aspect of a toy appropriate for ages three and up!
Topman: (Sigh) No, I don't transform into a top.
Primus: Do you not know the folly of the form you take? To possess wheels, but no vehicle mode? Such sin curses you with the brand of the Action Master, and you are thus condemned to the bottomless bargain bin of the pits of Kaon!
Topman: Well, it's a good thing I don't subscribe to your religion then.
Primus: Heretic. Woe betide those who support knockoffs of Mine chosen! Although they appear to be Mine own they are but foul copies and suffer from poor construction. Those who purchase them shall never know the pleasures that could have been theirs but those whom sell them shall be condemned to the torments of Mortillus!
Vishnu: Enough! Can you expound upon this "computer network"?
Snakeman: Uhh... It's more like a virtual world... Representation of computer systems... which are like complex calculators, I guess? Man, it's like trying to explain tech stuff to grandparents but worse somehow.
Party God: Arooo! Are you suggesting We're old!? No way, most of Us are young and hip... on the cosmic scale anyway.
Needlegal: Ohhh kayyy...
Party God: You wanna make fun of the old gods, save it for grandpa Cthulhu over there!
Cthulhu: Hrmblhrmuh whuh? Huh? Is the meeting over?
Ilias: No, elder. You can go back to sleep. (snicker)
Cthulhu: Why You! I wasn' asleep! I was just waitin' silently through timeless aeons. Back in My day, gods didn' need to be so chatty. Of course, the god of language hadn't be born yet. We basically just communicated by spontaneously creating and destroying the cosmos. One apocalypse to get Hastur's attention. Two to tell Him to come over. Three carried the meaning of an unspeakable insult, which would invariably lead to a fight, which was the whole reason for calling Him over. Now this is where it gets complicated...
Vishnu: Please! Let Us remain on topic!
Cthulhu: Ah yes, the topic. Hrmmblblhrm... the god of language did something?
Vishnu: No! Computers!
Cthulhu: Of course! Computers! Brilliant little things. I can tell you all about computers.
Apollo: Really? Do tell.
Cthulhu: Well, computers do all sorts of things. They're versatile because of their amorphous physique and many eyes and tentacles. We grow them out of the sides of volcanic vents on the ocean floor.
Snakeman: Wow! Not remotely close! Also, what the hell?
Geminiman: He might be describing shoggoths.
Cthulhu: Feh! Whatever. Every word in yer mortal tongues sounds the same anyway you mblrmblr...
Geminiman: Can't tell if he's speaking Deep One or just trailing off...
Sparkman: Alright, forget about computers! It's probably not relevant except for explaining why you're all so confused about where this came from, because it's a relatively new science and you mostly seem to be allergic to science in general.
Apollo: Pfft. Science? That heretical claptrap?
Sparkman: All you want is a way to beat Sun God, right? Well, we got nothing. All our attacks bounced off of it, so it doesn't have a special weapon weakness, which is mainly how we approach strategy where we come from.
Snakeman: Well, maybe it operates on Navi weakness principles, so there are a different set of attributes we could try.
Shadowman: You're not going to make us go Navi again, are you?
Snakeman: I'm not ruling it out.
Waveman: Isn't anybody going to mention the interrupted ritual?
Ra: A ritual was involved? Finally, one of these things speaks sense. Go on.
Waveman: The Sun God was meant to be a union of nine aspects: War, Peace, Order, Chaos, Selflessness, Courage, Wisdom, Faith, and Insight. I was supposed to be sacrificed for the Faith part, but these guys stopped me and the rest of the latter half from going in. It was formed from only the first four parts and just bits and peaces of the rest, maybe a bit more of the Insight part. Otherwise, it's what the old guy said, "balanced in form and purpose, but lacking personality."
Snakeman: As if any of that is any help whatsoever.
Vishnu: So the Sun God is incomplete? Splendid! That means it should be plenty vulnerable to Our own avatars.
Needlegal: What, seriously? That's all you needed?
Apollo: Gods are perfect beings. No half-formed pretender could truly claim such a title. That makes him a mere demigod, at best!
Shadowman: Alright, so now you go kick his ass, and we can go home, right?
Ra: Not so fast. We still require avatars, and you're already here and up to speed. What better heroes?
Topman: What? You're not going to fight Sun God yourselves?
Ilias: We gods don't lower ourselves to fighting mortal battles directly. We choose other mortals to imbue with Our favor and observe from on high.
Party God: I'll start making the popcorn! AROOOO!!
Sparkman: I just told you, we tried to fight it already and it didn't work. Just because it's not a quote-unquote "REAL" quote-unquote "GOD" doesn't put us on the same level.
Primus: You will be once you become Our avatars. You will be granted powers far beyond your peers. Beyond Prime, beyond Magnus!
Shadowman: Really? Would we get to keep these powers when we're done?
Shadowman: Oh. Well... sounds like it would still be worth the joyride. I'm in.
Hardman: Hell yeah!
Waveman: I would be honored to accept this destiny!
Needlegal: Whoa, whoa. This has got to be the worst case of getting in over our heads ever. Are you sure you don't want to second guess that decision?
Shadowman: It sounds pretty credible that if we don't do anything, Sun God will eventually make his way back to Earth and bring about the end of the world. Isn't that a good enough reason to get in over our heads?
Needlegal: I mean, I'd at least advocate sending someone else first to see how easily they're obliterated. Waveman could do it.
Waveman: I would be honored to be the vanguard!
Snakeman: Waveman wanted to join Sun God last time! We can't trust him. I'm fine doing it myself. Not alone, myself, of course. I expect the rest of you to step up.
Geminiman: No objections here.
Sparkman: I'll take a power-up. I may even get a chance to analyze the nature of it and disprove all this nonsense.
Topman: As long as it doesn't require joining any of these religions that want to send me to Hell, I'm down.
Magnetman: None for me, thanks.
Needlegal: We might as well make it unanimous, Mags.
Magnetman: No, we might as well not. If you want to get sucked up into this cult business, better to have someone with a clear mind to pull you out if things get out of hand.
Ra: You want to play the designated driver? It's not necessary, but if it puts your mind at ease, so be it.
Sparkman: How come you have all these car metaphors, but don't understand computers?
Ilias: The rest of you may pray to the god of your choosing for divine blessings. They will most assuredly answer on this matter.
Shadowman: Cool. Is there a... directory or... digest manual or something to help us choose?
Vishnu: It would be best to invoke the gods with whom you have personally formed the most faithful bond. Don't you have your own gods you worship?
(The Mechs and Waveman look at each other uncomfortably.)
Needlegal: The thing is... as robots, we're not very religious to begin with.
Primus: No excuse. My worshipers are all robots. Even the most bloodthirsty, genocidal ones at least acknowledge My existence. That is why they have idols cast in their image starting at $12.95 at your local Wal-Mart. And your idols have been warming the same shelf at the Tomah Dollar Tree since 1996.
Needlegal: We were created by humans! And the workings of the universe don't hold a lot of mysteries to our society that can't at least be theorized with scientific principles, so... I mean, no offense, but-
Sparkman: (Stifling laughter)
Needlegal: NO offense, but it usually doesn't occur to us to consider gods? Aside from Diveman, anyway.
Ilias: Oh, Diveman? Now there's a faithful one.
Hardman: You... don't mean you actually know him... Wait, you don't mean he knows you, like the god he's always talking about actually exists.
Snakeman: I thought those were just drunken ramblings.
Magnetman: Are you sure we're not just drunk and hallucinating the same thing?
Ilias: Perhaps I should call him here for this.
Hardman: No! No, that shouldn't be necessary. We're pretty open-minded here. We'll be the best disciples for as long as it takes to nip this thing in the bud. You said any god'll answer? Howsabout Thor?
Thor: (Faintly, from the distance) Nay!
Ra: Thor's power can only be passed to the 'worthy', and He prefers to handle His own problems anyway. It seems He's busy.
Hardman: Real convenient. Okay, what about you guys?
Apollo: Hmph, after the way you've presented yourselves thus far? We have too much self-respect to grant you Our blessings.
Shadowman: You said any god would answer our prayers on this matter!
Ilias: I meant any gods that hadn't met you personally.
Party God: Look, there are plenty of other gods hanging around the palace. Go suck up to Them and try not to embarrass yourselves!
Ilias: You'd better hurry if you don't want Me to call in Diveman and let him get all the glory!
(Outside the central hall, the Mechs consider their next move.)
Sparkman: This is dumb. No momentary power-up can be worth dealing with these fraudulent jerks.
Snakeman: Our odds of successfully sucking up should increase substantially if we ditch Spark.
Shadowman: Good idea.
Sparkman: Alright, alright! I can suck up as good as anybody! Let's get it over with.
Topman: This place is pretty big, we should split up anyway.
Magnetman: Don't go wandering too far. I got a bad feeling about this and I want to keep my eyes on alla you.
(Minutes later, in the courtyard...)
Sparkman: Oh, great, wise, deity! We humble mortals seek thy blessing that we may triumph o'er the scourge of the false Sun God! ...How's that?
Shadowman: Laying it on kinda thick, but not bad. Ahem. So, great one, may we have the honor of becoming your avatars?
Arceus: Arceus! Arc! Arc!
Shadowman: ...Is that a yes?
Arceus: Arceus! Arceus! (Prances around Shadowman)
Sparkman: Are we sure this is a god and not some god's pet horse or whatever?
Arceus: Arrrc! (ARCEUS used Punishment!)
Sparkman: (Smacked upside the head by an unseen force) OW!
Shadowman: I'd say it's legit and that it understands us. Ahem. Have mercy, oh Lord, on your disrespectful subject. Bless us and we will make thee offerings of... uh... apples and neck strokes?
Arceus: ARCEUS! (ARCEUS used Divine Blessing!)
(Shadowman became an avatar of ARCEUS!)
Shadowman: (Begins hovering) Whoa! I feel like I'm overflowing with power! Thank you, Lord Arceus! (Strokes Arceus' neck.)
Waveman: I'm really not going to betray the universe for Sun God. I realize now that was wrong thing. Mainly since I got my friends back I no longer want to see them condemned to vengeful hellfire.
Snakeman: Whatever, I'm still not helping you get a blessing. Now, I'm sure there's a snake god around somewhere that would appreciate my dedication. If I and my Search Snakes just concentrate our prayers enough...
(The air darkens and a multi-headed serpent appears above them.)
Set: Your prayersss are heard, my child. Do you pledge to bring about My rebirth and feed the endlessss mawssss of dread?
Snakeman: Sweet! Best god!
Waveman: Are you sure? This one seems kinda... evil.
Snakeman: I'm tired of people insinuating that snakes are inherently evil. A snake god is just as important and benevolent as any other.
Set: When I devoured my brethren at the dawn of time, I committed the firsssst murder.
Snakeman: Had to happen eventually. Someone had to be the first.
Set: At the dawn of man, 'twasss I that dessssceived them to take the forbidden fruit, that they be cassst out of paradise!
Snakeman: Oh, those silly humans. You sure taught them an important lesson.
Set: I will sssee an end to the era of mammalsss! All ssshall be consssumed!
Snakeman: Okay, okay, that's... certainly a goal to shoot for. I'll get right on that after we deal with Sun God.
Waveman: I can't believe you were trying to accuse me of selling out to the evil god.
Set: You... Ssssmell of Neptune.
Waveman: Huh? Yeah, I kinda had Neptune powers for a while. Should I call that god for help?
Set: Neptune, my ancient enemy! Sssservant, ssslay thisss Neptune worshipper to earn my power!
Snakeman: Okay, sure!
Waveman: What!? No! Neptune, save me!
Topman: Hello there, sir or ma'am. May we interest you in spreading the good news of you to us?
Gozer: ARE YOU A GOD?
Topman: We're actually guests-
Geminiman: Nope, don't answer, just back away quickly. We'll be on our way.
Gozer: (Glares menacingly as they retreat.)
Topman: What was it this time? Did I misgender them? I'm sorry, okay?
Geminiman: No, it's just some gods would be best to avoid. Damn, I should have went with Snake to make sure he doesn't try to commune with an evil serpent deity.
Sparkman: Sounds like you know your way around here at least.
Topman: Weren't you with Shadow?
Sparkman: Aw, he went flying off with his god to find apples or something. I've been having a tough time not insulting every god I come across. Turns out a lot of them can see my thoughts and know when I'm BS-ing them.
Geminiman: There should be some war gods around that are less concerned with decorum but still offer great power.
Sparkman: How do you know so much about this stuff anyway?
Geminiman: I make it a point to keep abreast of all sorts of arcane knowledge. Our team has had other brushes with the divine in the past, not to mention the occult, which is divine-adjacent.
Sparkman: And you believed it was all real? That's cute.
Geminiman: It was real! I even specialized as a paranormal investigator.
Sparkman: That's hilarious!
Geminiman: Hmph. Why don't you go and try to chat up Crom over there. He's notoriously friendly.
Sparkman: The hairy guy with the axe sitting on the bench drinking and angrily yelling at everyone that passes by? ...Yeah, why not? Seems like he'd get me. (Walks off)
Topman: Alright, while he's getting hacked to pieces, let's find me at least one god around here that doesn't have a bunch of obscure commandments I need to follow.
Geminiman: Well, aside from Crom, who hates everyone equally, most warrior type gods will be cool as long as you're willing to put up a fight.
Topman: Good, 'cause I'm getting tired of being told my soul is eternally condemned for standing the wrong way.
Standor: Face front, True Believers!
Topman: Damnit! Which way is 'front', even!? And I'm not your believer yet!
Geminiman: Um, forgive me. You seem familiar, but I'm not sure I've been enlightened to your personnage.
Standor: It's Me, Standor! Creator God extraordinaire! I'm just stoppin' in from the Eternian realms to see what the hubbub is about!
Geminiman: Eternia? I'm familiar with that lore and I'm pretty sure you had nothing to do with any of that. Are you sure you belong here?
Standor: Oh, I don't mean to belittle the contributions of my fellow very talented gods. Just so you know though, They were takin' inspiration from another god that worked with Me to create the next universe over, so in a way, it all comes back to Me and My amazing cosmic creative powers!
Geminiman: Oh, okay then. Would you be willing to grant a portion of that power to assist us in-
Standor: Sorry, pal! Gotta run! Excelsior! (Flies away)
Topman: ...Well that was oddly pointless.
Goddess: (Revealed to have been standing behind Standor) Don't mind Him. I believe He is actually the God of Cameos and merely appeared before Me as I was approaching you. I sense you're looking for blessings from a warrior god?
Geminiman: Ah, yes! Or a Warrior Goddess would suit just as well!
Goddess: Excellent. Here's a sword.
Geminiman: Oh, many thanks, glorious one! I will definitely make you proud!
Topman: What were you saying a minute ago about evil serp-
Geminiman: Ah! No, just the serpent deities that are evil! I happen to know this goddess is most benevolent and generous and lovely.
Goddess: Oh, so I'm "one of the good ones", huh?
Geminiman: Uh, I didn't mean... That is I know not all snake gods are...
Goddess: Never mind, I get it. Set really drags Our image down. Just go get that rogue Sun God before Eternia is consumed next.
Topman: Any extra swords for me?
Goddess: Not at the moment, but I do know of another Goddess with a sword that can help you...
Needlegal: I just pet this dog, and now I'm apparently blessed by the Goddess of the Sun. She seems to like my hat. I'd say we're doing good.
Hardman: Cool. Now have I looked at too many elder gods today that I've gone insane, or does that one look like my own giant floating head?
Ben?: Hello there, Mechanical Maniacs.
Needlegal: That's definitely a thing I'm seeing too. I wouldn't have recognized it as yours though. It may just be the insanity effects talking, but all I see is variably-sized pixels and jpeg artifacts.
Hardman: Look, it was a different time. So who are you, the god of embarrassing memories?
Ben?: I'm just what you've been praying for, a badass God of Fire! Check it!
(The head morphs into a blinding ball of flame and reshapes into Magma Dragoon.)
Fire God: Hah! Ready to kick some ass?
Hardman: Finally! Light me up, baby!
Needlegal: Hold it. Aren't you a little more curious why this guy is just taking forms based on your own?
Fire God: Would you prefer the Magical Platypus?
Hardman: It's kinda creepy, but I'm willing to look past it if it gets me fire powers for a little while again.
Needlegal: I dunno, I got a sneaking suspicion this is some kind of trickster face stealing god or something.
Fire God: Heh, it's much weirder than that, actually! I'm literally another version of Ben from a more advanced timeline!
Hardman: Go on.
Fire God: Turns out that when you're the kind of tenacious hot-head that dies and comes back enough times into multiple dimensions in various fire-elemental incarnations, eventually some part of the multiverse ends up with you as a cosmic ideal of the concept of combustion, and then you get to come hang out here!
Hardman: ...You know what, I get it. I always knew that's where my life was leading.
Needlegal: Oh no. Hardman's ego did not need this. Please tell me you're actually a god of self-satisfied delusions.
Hardman: Aw, cram it! Let me have this! Hey, future-me, spoil me on how long I have to wait to become a god!
Fire God: Sorry, pal, you got the wrong idea. This is less a "behold your destiny" kind of deal, and more of an "alternate universes are crazy" thing. Hate to break it to you, but no version of me that I've been or met has ever been Hardman before.
Hardman: I knew it. This is the darkest timeline.
Fire God: Look at it this way: I thought I'd seen it all! Even after millions of years this existence can keep surprising me.
Hardman: Gee, thanks.
Fire God: Now, are we going to get this pseudo-incestuous patron deity/avatar power-up going, or what?
Hardman: Aw, what the hell! Bring it on, not-me, maybe-me, or whoever you are!
Needlegal: There's no way this ends well.
Will it end well? Find out next time!
To be continued...
|Leon as .....||
|Raijin as .....||
|Psycho Magnet as .....||
|Ben as .....||
|Nightmare as .....||
|Lennon as .....||
|Sheriff (Kassidy) Mags as .....||
|Gauntlet as .....||