Judge Royce: Whoo, boy. Here it is, moment of truth time.
sandman7734: What, you think YOU'RE nervous? I'm trusting my baby to you.
JR: If it's your baby, then why did you give it up?
SM: Bite me.
JR: Thought so.
SM: Let's just get through the first chapter and see how everyone likes it.
JR: People love my work.
SM: Bit did you inspire other people to write fics in the same genre as your own?
SM: Then get on with it.
JR: Alright, alright. A few notes, folks: in this universe of Ben 10, Ultimate Alien and Omniverse never happened. Why? Because that seems to be when Ben 10 went downhill (at least in my opinion). So, after the Highbreed invasion, season 3 of Alien Force still occurred, but Vilgax looks like his old form in the orginal series (with Steve Blum providing the voice, of course), though he kept the eye-beams (those are just cool). And Ben still has the original Omnitrix, not the new one. Get it? Got it? Good. Read, review, yadda yadda yadda.
Chapter 1: Ultimate Enemy
Ben Tennyson laughed as he dodged a chili fry thrown at his head by his best friend.
"Your aim's as bad as your hair, Kevin," the eighteen-year-old quipped. Currently, the two were hanging out in a Mr. Smoothie's parking lot while waiting for Gwen, Ben's cousin and Kevin's girlfriend, to arrive.
"Don't diss the hair, Tennyson," the bulky nineteen-year-old said, though he couldn't help but smirk.
The two close friends retained a comfortable silence as they ate their fries and drank their smoothies.
Yes, life was pretty good nowadays. Ben had grown into a mature and handsome adult, whose good looks caught the attention of women everywhere. His days of cocky childishness were long behind him, allowing him to fully settle into his role as a hero after graduating high school (fortunately, no one had figured out his secret identity over the years). Even Azmuth, the creator of the Omnitrix, had taken notice of Ben's growing sense of responsibility, and had rewarded him for it. A few weeks ago, the Galvan had dropped by Ben's apartment (which he could afford by selling off high-quality shards from Diamondhead) and offered to substantially upgrade the alien watch on Ben's left wrist. Some of the new features included an increased battery for longer transformation times, an ability to speak over the Omnitrix communicator while in hero mode, and something Azmuth called an 'evolutionary function'.
That last one seemed to have the Galvan conflicted, but he believed Ben could use it for good. Apparently, it allowed an Omnitrix alien to 'evolve' into a much more powerful and combat-oriented form. It gave a large power boost, but it caused the Omnitrix to revert the teen back to normal after ten minutes of transformation, so it was to be used in emergencies only.
Unfortunately, he hasn't had the chance to test out these so-called 'Ultimate forms' (as Azmuth had called them), as the criminals the teen faced nowadays just weren't worth the effort. Vilgax was staying away (most likely plotting something), and every other villain was just laughable. Animo was a joke, Ssserpent was something worse than a joke, the Forever Knights had been significantly reduced by Ben and his teams's efforts, and Darkstar and Albedo were in prison. Sure, Sunder teamed up with Sixsix and Vulkanus in order to take Ben down a while back, but the teen had grown past his 'Lone Hero' mindset and now believed in winning as a team alongside Gwen and Kevin, rather than having to tackle every enemy by himself, thus allowing the three alien bounty hunters to fail spectacularly at the might of Ben's group.
The only true problem the wielder of the Omnitrix faced nowadays was girl troubles. After he and Julie parted ways, no other girl seemed to fill the void. Sure, many tried, but he just didn't feel a connection with any of them that he once felt for the Yamamoto girl.
But that didn't stop him from enjoying the company of his best friend and favorite cousin, who were planning to leave in a few months. Gwen was heading off to an Ivy League college, and Kevin was going to follow her, having found a job at a garage near the school she planned on attending. So the trio decided to spend as much time with each other as possible, as those days would soon be coming to an end.
Hence the reason why Ben was currently hanging with his half-Osmosian buddy. Kevin had been planning to take them all to Los Soledad, where he and Gwen could spar against one of Ben's Ultimate aliens, just to see how dangerous they actually were.
"So, which alien are you gonna evolve first?" Kevin asked. "Humongousaur? Wildmutt?"
Ben shrugged as he sipped his smoothie. "Not sure. Haven't really thought about it."
"Seriously? Azmuth gives you a huge upgrade like that and you don't consider how you're gonna use it?" the nineteen-year-old asked incredulously.
"Not much to think about. Who am I gonna use it against? Animo?"
The two snorted at that. The scientist couldn't even stand up against Spidermonkey or Echo Echo, so how could he withstand an upgraded Humongousaur?
Ben glanced at the clock that Mr. Smoothie hung below its mascot. 3:11 PM.
"Gwen should've been here ten minutes ago," he noted.
"Not like our girl to be late," Kevin agreed. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his Plumber's badge, activating it and speaking. "Gwen, where are you? Your fries are getting cold."
Nothing but static.
"You there? Gwen?"
"I've got a bad feeling..." Ben said.
"Agreed. Let me track her real quick." A few seconds of tampering with the badge later, and... "She's in Los Soledad."
"Did you tell her that's where we were heading?"
The two quickly hopped into Kevin's car and sped off towards the abandoned military base, hoping that their teammate was alright.
Upon arrival, the two immediately powered up, with Kevin absorbing the metal from his car and Ben slapping down on the Omnitrix.
The half-Osmosian pulled out the badge and checked his girlfriend's location. He glanced to his left. "She's this way."
The best friends were cautious, making sure to be ready in case of an ambush. Something was definitely up, and if someone had hurt Gwen, they were going to pay dearly.
After a few minutes of walking, Kevin stopped in front of a warehouse. "Says she's in here."
"I'll knock," Ben quipped as he lunged forward and blasted through the wall of the building with his super strength. As expected, the warehouse was dark, the only light being the sun shining through the windows and holes in the roof.
"Oh no," Kevin gasped as he saw a form lying nearby, hidden in the shadows. He quickly ran over and examined who it was.
"Gwen..." Ben uttered as he gazed upon the mess that was his cousin, who liked like she had gone five rounds against an entire army of Appoplexians.
Her clothes were torn asunder, bruises and burns and cuts littered her body, her left arm appeared to be broken, her right eye was swollen shut, and she was bleeding from her nose and mouth.
"Who could do this?" Swampfire asked, horrified. "Vilgax?"
"Not quite," came a deep voice from behind the three.
Kevin and Ben twisted around, only to behold a man wearing some kind of strange silver armor, his face fully concealed by a blue mask, with two white slits for eyes and gold outlines around it.
"You did this to my girlfriend?" Kevin snarled.
"Most likely," the figure drawled, sounding amused by the teen's rage.
The half-Osmosian let out a battle cry and charged forward, ignoring Swampfire's call for him to stop. Ben's best friend threw a punch at the stranger's face, only for him to phase through the man, as if he were intangible.
"Osmosians, always so headstrong," the stranger mocked as he lazily turned and backhanded Kevin across the face.
The blow was incredibly powerful, sending the teen through four buildings before landing next to his car, unconscious.
"Now that the garbage is out of commission, we can get down to business," the man said as he turned back to Swampfire. "I'm sure you must be wondering who I am."
"I can always find out after I break your arms and legs," Swampfire growled as he lunged at his opponent and threw a punch. This time, the blow connected, and the stranger's head snapped back.
Ben then snapped open his palms, creating balls of fire in his hands and shoving them into the man's chest, sending him flying back into a building across the street.
The transformed teen stepped out into the sun, his hands clenched tightly into fists. Now he was mad.
His rage effectively doubled when the stranger stepped out of the building, chuckling while he did so. "That tickled."
Swampfire clenched his teeth in fury as he slapped the Omnitrix.
The twelve-foot-tall dinosaur alien let out a roar as he charged forward and threw a right hook at his enemy. The stranger calmly reached up and caught Humongousaur's fist in his own.
"No way," Ben muttered in surprise.
"Yes way," retorted the stranger as his eyes lit up and fired a golden blast of energy, sending the Vaxasaurian onto his back, his chest slightly smoking from the charred scales.
Again, the teen slapped the Omnitrix.
"XLR8!" the new creature, also dinosaur-like, yelled in a raspy voice as it lowered a visor in front of its face and sped forward in a blur. He may be strong enough to stop Humongousaur, but there's no way he can catch XLR8!
He aimed for the side of his opponent, hoping to surprise him.
As Ben prepared to fire a volley of rapid-fire kicks, the man's arm shot out and grabbed XLR8 by the throat as if catching a slow-moving softball.
"Too slow," the stranger insulted the teen as he tossed him into the air.
"Not good not good not good!" Ben cried out as gravity caught up to him after a few seconds and he began to fall back to earth.
He reached up and tapped the Omnitrix once more.
The rock-like alien charged up his body and flew down towards his enemy, believing that he could do some serious damage with an air strike. He lit up his fists with energy and gave himself a boost of speed, breaking the sound barrier in the process.
Just as Chromastone was about to connect with the stranger, he felt some kind of impact on his face, causing him to go flying away.
Before he could gain his bearings, he felt himself hit sand. Recovering quickly, he realized that he had been knocked slightly outside of Los Soledad, where there were no more buildings and just a large amount of desert.
Then he felt his eye widen as the stranger flew from his place in the abandoned town and landed a few feet away from him.
"I guess I should introduce myself before this goes any further," the man said as he placed his hands behind his back. "I am Monarch. Today, Ben Tennyson, your life changes forever."
Ben clenched his teeth once more. How could this Monarch be so powerful? Super strength, super speed, intangibility, energy blasts, flight. What else was he capable of?
Time to go big or go home.
"Keep up if you can," Chromastone growled as he launched himself into the air, getting as far away from Gwen and Kevin as possible. He was gonna need a lot of empty space for this next guy...
He flew further into the desert, until he reached a medium-sized plateau and landed on it. A split-second later, Monarch landed behind him.
"'Monarch'? What kinda name is that?" Ben mocked as he faced his opponent.
"It's the name I picked," the villain said simply. "Take it or leave it."
Chromastone let out a snort as he slammed his hand into the Omnitrix, immediately going for the big guns.
And now, for the first time, the stranger known as Monarch's eyes widened, causing the white slits on his mask to grow.
"You're gonna get it now," the large armored alien said as it held its hands about a foot apart from each other. A glowing green sphere formed between his palms, and with a grunt, he fired it at his opponent.
Monarch immediately leaped into the air to dodge the attack, only to be confronted by a blur as Atomix appeared in front of him and delivered a punch to his masked face, knocking him back down to the desert floor.
The transformed teen landed nearby the crater that Monarch had formed with his body. The man stood up and cracked his neck, seemingly unharmed.
"About time. I was starting to think your abilities were highly exaggerated," he mocked as he clenched his fists.
"And I was hoping I broke your jaw so you would stop talking," Atomix sighed. "Guess I'll have to try again."
With that, Ben surged forward and threw a radiation-infused punch, connecting with Monarch's stomach and sending him flying back, though he recovered quickly and landed on his feet.
"Now this is a fight!" the man proclaimed as he pointed both fists at Atomix, firing a large blast of gold energy. The transformed teen disappeared in a blur once more, appearing behind Monarch and delivering a punch to the back of his head. The villain ignored the blow, twisting his body around and throwing a right hook into the hero's face, sending him back a few feet.
The two charged into close quarters, exchanging blows back and forth. Ben would throw an uppercut, Monarch would dodge and throw a kick. Atomix would grab the leg and pick him up before slamming him into the ground repeatedly before throwing him a good distance away.
"Time to finish this," Ben declared. He flew high into the air and lifted both hands above his head. Monarch remained on the ground, intrigued by what his opponent was doing.
A sphere of green energy formed above Atomix's hands, which kept growing bigger for every second that passed. First volleyball sized, then beach ball, then bike-sized, then car-sized. The sphere kept growing until it was the size of a two-story house.
"Nuclear Fallout!" Ben roared as he plunged his hands toward Monarch, the large ball of destructive energy heading straight for the masked man, who just stood there, waiting for the sphere to hit him.
The sphere made contact.
A large explosion lit up the skies.
Ben Tennyson was sent flying into the ground, losing consciousness as he did so.
Monarch began laughing.
"I have to admit, I underestimated you," came that annoyingly smug voice.
Ben groaned as he cracked an eye open, his body sore from hitting the ground, having apparently reverted back to human form after the explosion. Monarch stood over him, seemingly unharmed. His clothes weren't even singed!
"Though I have to say, I was holding back. And so were you, from the looks of it," the villain continued, turning to glance at the massive crater that Atomix created off in the distance.
"What... do you want?" Ben croaked, wanting this unfairly strong enemy to get to the point. The teen sat up, wincing a little. Yep, that was a broken rib.
"Like I said, I'm here to change your life," Monarch responded. "You saved the universe, and now all you have to fight are weaklings like Animo? No, you should be taking on true supervillains!"
Ben coughed, a small amount of blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. That landing was rougher than he'd like to admit. "What, like you?"
"Perhaps," Monarch admitted. "But you'll need to become stronger. Better."
"Let me fix myself up. I'll show you one of my new Ultimate aliens," the teen snarled.
"Tempting, but we haven't the time," Ben's enemy remarked.
Monarch lifted his hand into the air, and out of nowhere, what seemed to be a black portal formed. Ben's eyes widened.
"One day, you'll thank me," the man said as he grabbed the teen hero by the throat and unceremoniously threw him into the portal, which closed behind him.
Everything was quiet.
"Sure hope you're right about this," Monarch said, cracking his knuckles.
"Of course I'm right," the figure behind him said, having mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. "This is meant to be."
Monarch turned to face his ally. "I know that. But things can change, you know."
"True," the partner admitted. "But that's what I have you for."
Monarch grunted as he created another portal. He had work to do.
Everything was dark.
Nothing to see.
Nothing to hear.
Nothing to smell, touch, or taste.
What was that?
What, like a bunch of Super Friends?
What was happening?
Mom and dad. They'd be so proud of you.
Do you think Grundy's soul is waiting for him?
I love you.
I love you, too.
No. Not Julie.
It's Hero Time!
JR: And there's chapter one! Finally!
SM: Still too short, if you ask me.
JR: I'm sorry, do YOU wanna write this?
SM: I'm sure the fans would love that. Your chapters are always too damn short.
JR: Chapter one is supposed to be the shortest!
JR: *sigh* Alright, folks, what do you think? Feedback is welcome, good or bad. Who is Monarch? What will happen next? Who is the partner?
SM: Who is shamelessly filling up author's notes for a higher word count?
JR: Silence! Anyway, we're putting up a poll: Who do you want as Ben's love interest in the story?
SM: Not a big fan of that weird ending, either. What's that all about?
JR: Anyway, expect chapter two soon.
SM: At least The Incredible Muffin has long chapters in HIS JLU/Ben 10 fic.
JR: Oh my god, please stop talking.