Loads of Catching-up
“I miss showers.” Aloe slopped the dark ooze from her arms. Inches of black gunk fell to the floor and yet she remained drenched in its embrace. Varkral scurried around her, trying to catch all that he could before it touched the ground.
“Don’t just stand there! Help me!” He pointed madly at a metal trough by the training grounds gate. “We’re never going to get an opportunity like this again.” He dumped the contents of his arms and began to swirl them around. “Still warm, thank you Aloe. And you too Edge.”
“Any time.” Edge was trying to hold in his laughter at his siblings situation. “I’ll go get the others.”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t want them to miss this…” Aloe’s sarcasm was nearly as thick as the ooze she was coated in. “It’s good to see you Lore.” Her smile was now visible. “I mean we’ve had Varkral but… I don’t know.”
“How did you get here?” Lore scanned the trough with their Breacher. “And what the hell was that?”
Varkral gestured at Aloe’s feet and welcomed her into the trough as he began scraping her clean. “We haven’t a clue how we got here. One minute we’re on our way to meet with Charrlene on Quatarr, the next we’re crashing through The Valhelderen Expanse and it looked like we landed back in time.”
“So you have no idea?” Char looked to Lore. “Supports what Reality told you.”
“Indeed. How did you find Varkral then?”
“We modified our tracking beacon to send out an SOS for your Breachers only. After a week of nothing, Outlier thought it would be funny to reverse the beacon, to look for you instead. When it pointed us to Varkral we thought we were saved but he turned out to be… Different.” Varkral looked up from his ooze.
“What’s wrong with being different?”
“Nothing, it’s just we were expecting… You know, them.” She extended her blackened arm towards Lore she continued to shed.
“Was this before or after we met Varkral?”
“Before. Our ship was mostly destroyed in the crash so we were homeless. When we came across Varkral, he generously offered us room and board in his home on the condition that we tell him of the place we came from.”
“You missed out this part of the story. None of them even mentioned you.” Varkral looked up from the rapidly filling trough.
“Well, we did tell you that we had met people like you in our universe. Anyway, after hearing our story, Varkral wants proof so we take him to the ship; which I might add, you completely stripped of anything of value.” Aloe looked down at him in mock anger.
“With your permission?” He pointed towards her upper thighs which were still wealthy with the black sludge. Aloe nodded.
“Using the quartz crystals from the ships timing circuits, he was able to forge that stone on his staff. And using the ships last battery box we were able to charge it.”
“Then, I’m guessing that’s where we came in.” Lore smiled.
“Yeah. He was supposed to be bringing us all back but instead he left us on a desolate rock with no food and no other supplies. He was gone for nearly two days.”
“I made sure you had enough water.”
“Barely. And that was only because Outlier was weirdly ready to drink their own piss. Two days then he returned.” Aloe shook her head. “With the battery box still recharging, we had a bit of a wait to go before we could try to open another rift but now that you’re here… Fancy giving us a lift?”
“We’ve got something we need to do first then we’ll all be going home.”
“A mission.” Aloe’s eyes lit up. “Like the old times?”
“Bit eager?” Char looked to the head which Pwy’he was still happily playing with. “Not satisfied with what Varkral’s had you doing?”
“Don’t get me wrong, monster hunting has its highs but that thing was definitely a low. I chase it through a mile of knee deep, borderline frozen water only for it to explode after I decapitated it. Then I realised I had no way home so I was just stood there, frozen cold, damp and covered in slime.”
“What was that thing anyway?” Out of the corner of their eye, Lore could see a picture forming in the dirt below as Pwy’he drew with the head’s remaining slime.
“One of the locals. Before what we call the Vakrael and the humans and Emraeh settled here, these planetoids were infested with those beasts. They’re called Humours around here but they’re said to be the thralls of the black hole. The humours lead lost souls to their doom so they can feed them to the black hole. Nasty buggers too. If Edge hadn’t of shown up when he did then the other two in that one’s nest would have certainly got me.”
“You’re welcome.” Edge had returned with his other siblings in tow. Both of which ran at Char and Lore as soon as they saw them.
Outlier wrapped themselves around Char while Blindside took Lore. Still, bar Lore, none of them had noticed Pwy’he quietly kicking the beasts skull behind them, completing their drawing with the left over slime that clung to it.
Lore smiled, embracing the clones. “It’s so good to see you and I’m so sorry you got marooned here. If I had figured it out sooner, I would have come for you.” Outlier and Blindside swapped partners. “Anyway, as I was just telling Aloe, you’re just in time for a mission.” Lore paused to compose themselves. Despite the serious nature of their task, the target and the universe surrounding them was effective in making it sound ridiculous. “We need to get someone killed.” They had the clones’ undivided attention. “Merlyn has to die. Again… But this time earlier.” Upon hearing their target, their faces went from intense to confused. “Honestly, it’s really important. The whole of this universe depends on it.” Still slightly confused but equally excited to be reunited, the clones nodded. The Over Complication.