AN: This is an experimental piece, one of those 'out of comfort zone' things. It is not comfortable in this zone, but it is... interesting? I guess? I think the original episode did its thing pretty much perfectly, so I'm not expanding on anything here. Just trying out different things. We'll see where this goes. This is straight out BRooken, or at least my attempt to make one.
Chapter 1: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
"I want in."
Ben's unwavering decision on joining the fight was reflected in his voice. His gaze was one of determination as he looked at Max. Be that as it may, no matter how intense his grandson's glare or how loud a tantrum Ben may decide to throw, Max's answer would remain the same.
"You're gonna sit this one out, Ben. We don't even know if your Omnitrix will recharge. And if it does, it'll likely go random again." Without missing a beat, Max gave out his orders to the rest of the Plumbers. "Alpha and Beta teams, move out!"
The group dispersed, leaving Ben rooted to the spot in shock. He shook his head. He was Ben 10, wielder of the Omnitrix; He was not going to sit around and do nothing in the middle of an alien invasion!
Making sure no one was looking, Ben sprinted towards the Proto-TRUK. The back of the ship was open, so he quickly but quietly crawled into the ship, hiding behind a wall that would hide him from the driver's seat point of view. He felt the ship dip slightly as Rook boarded the ship and jumped into his seat.
The doors closed as Ben heard the sounds of the doors being pressurized shut. Ben felt himself pressed against the floor when the ship lifted itself off the ground. He could hear the sounds of the other ships leaving, but the Proto-TRUK did not accelerate. It simply hovered in one spot. But Ben was patient. He was willing to wait. Maybe Rook was calibrating some stuff.
Ben almost jumped out of his skin when he heard his name. He still remained hidden, hopeful that he had misheard it. Alas, he had no such luck.
He heard the sound of a door opening, then the sounds of footsteps, and then he saw Rook walk to the back of the truck. As soon as Rook walked by him the Revonnahgander's head snapped to the crouched human at the narrow corner. Rook sent him a glare.
"As per Magister Tennyson's orders, I must ask that you step out of my ship."
Ben looked up at him, his green eyes round and wide. He tried to laugh, but he saw Rook was in no mood for it. He stood up, nervously dusting himself at the knees. He put his hands on his hips.
"C'mon, Rook, you know I can't just sit around and do nothing when Earth is being invaded by frog aliens."
"Then I, too, cannot simply sit stagnantly while you carelessly put yourself in danger."
"Dude, I do that all the time. It's practically a hobby by now."
Rook twitched. Ben noticed it. He had never seen Rook twitch before. Rook leaned in and grabbed Ben's left wrist. He moved his wrist so that the Omnitrix was right in front of Ben's eyes.
"Your Omnitrix," Rook's voice came as almost a growl. "Is it functional?"
Ben's eyes flicked to Rook before resting on the Omnitrix. The Omnitrix's usual green glow was absent, replaced only by a dull gray color.
"No," Ben answered, sounding almost defeated. Almost. Then he looked at Rook with a face steeled with determination. "But—"
"No buts," Rook released the boy's wrist. He then pointed at the door in front of the ship. "Get off."
Ben knew Rook was right, but Ben was nothing if not stubborn. He started to move a few steps towards the door. Then, he turned around.
"Look, am I any safer in the base than I am on your ship?" Ben tried to argue. "I mean, at least you can keep an eye on me if I go with you, right?"
"No. I will be in the midst of a war zone. This base is equipped with defense mechanisms. Several Plumbers are left to remain here solely for your protection," Rook almost seethed, his patience wearing thin. "Now, either you step out or you will be thrown out."
Ben saw the seriousness in Rook's expression. Ben wasn't going to test out whether Rook would actually grab him by the hem and collar and toss him off the ship. So Ben backed off. He gave Rook one last look before hopping onto the cement floor of the hangar bay. He saw Rook return to his seat. Rook paused for a moment. He turned his head slightly towards Ben, as if to say something.
But then the door closed. The ship rose higher into the air. The square lights at the back of the ship glowed a brighter yellow, and then it sped off with a mighty blast. Ben shielded his eyes from the gust. When the air settled, Ben stared at the tunnel Rook's ship had disappeared into, knowing that Rook was going to be in the front lines of Earth's defense, along with grandpa.
There was not a snowball's chance in Pyros that Ben was going to sit this one out.
Ben took wide strides towards the elevator. He entered it and pressed a few buttons on the panel. The elevator doors slid to a close and he descended down the Plumber base. The elevator came to a halt a few minutes later, and the door gave way. Ben stepped out and walked down the corridor. He paused momentarily in front of a door as it automatically opened.
He had expected to arrive in the middle of one of Blukic and Driba's arguments, but to his surprise, it was quiet. In fact, he saw no one in the tech support department. He sighed. It seemed he wasn't going to get any help from the two Galvans. Nevertheless, he was intent on finding a way to join grandpa and Rook. He started to sift through and scour the boxes and cabinets in the room.
"There has to be something here that can help..." he muttered to himself. He hoped to find anything that even remotely resembled keys to a ship—be it in the traditional form or a more electronic form.
Ben figured he had wasted a whole lot of time going through the items. Frankly, he was amazed he hadn't gotten bored halfway through. The Galvan technicians had some pretty cool stash lying about, even if Ben didn't know what half of them were. He found a curious looking silvery tube. It was small, almost the width of a large marker. It had two buttons near the handle. He pressed the button closer to the bottom, and suddenly a brief spark was emitted from the other end of the tube. Ben raised his eyebrows, impressed. He then pressed the button above the one he had already pressed. The spark was even larger and more intense than before. He thought it was cool, so he decided to pocket the tube. The thing was just lying around underneath all of Blukic and Driba's junk pile, so he figured it wouldn't be missed.
Ben decided he should return to the hangar. Maybe he'd find some old, defunct ship that his Gray Matter or Jury Rigg form could fix... Assuming the Omnitrix would actually give him the aliens he wanted. Still, it was worth a try. He left the room and returned to the elevator. In a few minutes he was back up in the hangar. When he stepped off the elevator, he was surprised to find ships docked in the hangar. The ships that had gone out earlier were back in the hangar, as if they hadn't left in the first place. Ben saw that the hangar bay was still open, and the last ship—Rook's Proto-TRUK—flew in and landed onto a designated platform.
Ben waited near the landing zone for the ship to completely touch the ground. When the door opened, Ben waited for Rook to come out. The Revonnahgander did appear, exiting the ship and joining Ben on the hangar grounds.
"That was fast. You should've let me come with you if it was that easy," said Ben, crossing his arms over his chest. He looked around. "Hey, where's grandpa Max? I don't see him anywhere."
But when Rook did not reply, Ben was beginning to worry. He became even more worried when Rook kept his gaze on the floor.
Suddenly, the Revonnahgander swiped his leg at Ben's head. Luckily, Ben managed to duck just in time.
"Dude!" Ben shouted.
Rook's eyes met with Ben's. Ben felt a tingle run up his spine. This wasn't Rook. It couldn't be.
Rook tried to land another blow, but Ben was already running. He checked his Omnitrix. It still hadn't recharged. Then Ben skidded to a halt. The Plumbers were coming at him as well. And behind him, Rook was charging at him. He looked at the elevator as a means of escape, but several more Plumbers appeared when the elevator doors opened, wildly running towards him. Ben darted to the side, rushing to the other side of the Proto-TRUK. He opened the door, got in and started to push whichever button looked like it could make the ship take off.
When the ship started to hover, and Ben was thankful for all the times he had watched Rook pilot the thing. He settled into the seat, and tried to fly the ship through the hangar bay, out of the hangar. He heard a growl from behind.
"Oh no you don't."
When he turned around, all he saw was a blue fist. Despite the fuzziness of said fist, it hurt. It struck him straight across the cheeks. Ben didn't have time to put on a seat belt, so he was launched straight towards the floor. Then, the ship started to ascend towards the sky. The cabin tilted, causing them to tumble to the back of the ship. Rook hit the back first, and Ben dropped right on top of him.
Rook roughly pushed the boy off, causing the latter to hit his back against the wall. Ben quickly recovered, taking another glance at his recharging Omnitrix.
"Dude, you used a contraction," Ben said as he carefully watched his partner. "Isn't that like a bad word in Revonnah?"
"You're a b-bad word!"
Rook was about to take another swing at him, but the ship started to shake. The both of them lost their balance and fell down once again, inertia sending them to the back of the ship. Then, the ship stilled and the cabin righted itself as the artificial gravity kicked in.
Ben was the first to take advantage of the newfound stability. He punched—as hard as he could. He knocked Rook to the ground. Ben didn't check to see if Rook was knocked out or not. He had to fly the ship back to Earth. He jumped into the seat and gripped the steers.
"Okay... Maybe it's just like driving a car," Ben said to himself. He turned the steers, and the ship responded. He barely managed to turn the ship for forty degrees when an arm wrapped itself around his neck and pulled him up from his seat. He kicked as he struggled, and his foot hit something. Whatever he had pressed, had caused the ship to accelerate even more. Ben suspected he had activated the Faster-Than-Light drive or warp drive or whatever it was Rook called it.
Ben choked and struggled. He eventually managed to elbow Rook, but his Proto-Tech Armor made the effort futile. Fortunately, there was one other spot besides Rook's head that wasn't armored. Ben twisted and churned in the Revonnahgander's hold, earning a curse or two and a "Stop moving!". Then Ben started to scream as loud and as long as he could. In Rook's efforts to shut him up, Ben saw his target coming in proximity. Ben opened his mouth and bit down on the blue, furry hand—and he bit down hard.
Rook hissed and released his hold on the human. Ben fell to the floor, rubbing a hand over his neck as he gasped for air.
"Man, you taste like... like cats," Ben spat between breaths. Then Rook sent him the most dagger-filled glare. Ben quickly defended himself. "Well, you are cat-like! You said so yourself!"
Rook pulled his Proto-Tool from his back. Ben's eyes widened. His Omnitrix wasn't working and now his own crazy partner was going to kill him.
"Rook!" Ben yelled over the sounds of the ship's alarmingly loud hum. "It's me, Ben! Your partner! Remember?"
Suddenly, Rook blinked. His hold on his Proto-Tool loosened. Ben inwardly cheered. He was getting through to him.
"Oh man. Please tell me you're back," Ben said with some relief.
"... Ben?" Rook slowly spoke. "What happened? I... I c-cannot remember."
"Yeah, dude. It's me!" Ben said with relief. "And you're you again!"
Rook smirked. "You simpleton."
Rook rammed the Proto-Tool into Ben's stomach, causing the latter to gasp. Ben lurched and doubled over, pressing his arms against the throbbing pain. He fell to the floor, gasping.
"Absurd Galvan technology. Needlessly c-c-complex," Rook stuttered as he threw the Proto-Tool onto the floor. He cracked his knuckles. "No matter. I'll dispose of you the hard, p-p-painful way... and I use the term loosely."
Rook pulled back his fist, and with a mighty heave his fist began to lob directly for the fallen human's head. Ben shut his eyes and curled into himself. He braced for a whole round of pain. Rook's fist was a mere inch away from Ben's forehead when suddenly it froze. When nothing happened, Ben slowly opened his eyes. But the ship started to sway and tremble, causing Rook to fall on his back.
Ben managed to push himself up high enough to look out the window. He paled.
It was a wormhole. The ship was going straight into a wormhole.