Author's Note: This story was inspired by a prompt from Car54.
Chapter One: The Hands of Fate
As Ben drove his car, guided by the Ultimatrix, he smiled and reached over to Gwen. This is how it should be. The teen thought as he continued driving.
"I liked it better when I got to drive."
Ben shook his head. Kevin almost sounded like he was pouting or whining. Both of those situations made Ben laugh quietly to himself as Gwen looked at her boyfriend in the backseat disbelievingly.
"What are you hiding, Ultimatrix?" Ben muttered as he thought he saw flashes of an Omnitrix symbol in the holographic display from the faceplate.
The brunette teen looked at the device on his wrist and sighed. It didn't make any sense! Ben remembered distinctly. Multiple Omnitrixes could not exist in the universe because the pair would biofeedback on each other and blow the universe to bits. The only reason Albedo's copy of the Omnitrix didn't cause the end of the universe lay in its faulty construction as Azmuth explained after the incident.
Thinking back, Ben remembered how he helped Jerkface 10,000. That could be it. Ben thought. I helped that Ben without any Omnitrix-related difficulties.
"Gwen, what if the Ultimatrix is picking up on an alternate Omnitrix core?" He asked as he looked at the redhead.
Gwen gave him a look.
"No, I'm serious!" He told her. "A Gwendolyn from another timeline took us to her future to give that Ben an attitude adjustment."
Gwen nodded. "You were able to still use your Omnitrix with his."
Ben hummed in affirmation. "We know Albedo is no Azmuth, so this could be a glitch in the Ultimatrix picking up alternative Cores and mistakenly labeling them as uncatalogued genetic samples."
Gwen smiled at Ben. "Really, Ben. You are full of surprises."
Kevin grumbled something before they got out of the car. Ben raised an eyebrow at Kevin's mutterings but said nothing. When they came to the door, Ben started looking for Big Chill.
"I'll phase through the door and unlock it from the inside."
Gwen nodded and said, "We need to leave this place as untouched as possible."
Kevin's mood only continued to sour. "If you two work so well together, what do you need me for?!"
He then grabbed Ben's arm, threw him to the side, and absorbed the steel of the door to form his finger into a key.
Ben only sighed and shook his head. Even after six years, you STILL don't know about subtlety. Anyway, how the hell does that even work? You have to know the tumbler arrangement of the specific lock before you can generate a key to unlock it! Ben's anger flared as his mind flashed back to that day unbidden. Yeah…great idea! Date the psycho who tried to kill you when we were kids just because you like his "clean" face!
Ben shook his head and forced the anger away. "The problem the Ultimatrix senses is in the basement." He said aloud. "Museum…artifact that could end the world…why does this sound familiar?" A flash of Hex with the Archamada Book of Spells entered Ben's mind.
Gwen seemed to have the same thought. "I think I should take point." Gwen reasoned. "We know Mana and tech don't mix."
"Yeah…I don't want another universe-ending catastrophe on my hands." Ben and Gwen shivered at that, but Ben also lost a bit of light in his eyes. "Let's get moving. The sooner we find this thing, the better…"
Kevin truly seemed like a third wheel at this point and HATED it. I'm the star! I get the girl, and Ben gets squat!
Gwen shivered and spared her boyfriend a worried glance. I don't like this. Gwen thought. The closer we get to this artifact, the more Kevin unravels.
As Gwen walked up to the gateway and touched it, she closed her eyes and focused. The redhead sensed her own energy, but it seemed distant and disconnected from her.
"Guys, this is weird." She said as she turned back to the two boys but didn't move her hand away from the stone circle. "I'm sensing myself, but there's something off with her. She seems disconnected from time."
Ben's eyes widened in intrigue and a hint of worry. "Can you use your energy to draw her to our timeline?"
Gwen nodded. "I think so, but it may take more power than I have alone to…"
Gwen stopped as she felt Ben's hand in hers while their energies flawlessly unified. Gwen couldn't help a shiver of delight at the exhilarating power she felt at that moment. Absolutely no training, and he can do THAT?! Gwen thought passively. Now, I know how Charmcaster felt when I was ten.
Together, the pair focused and felt their combined energies reach into the Hands and pull out a girl.
Ben smiled at the stranger as she landed on the floor of the museum.
"Where am I?" The redhead with a pony tail, yellow/red shirt, and rain capris asked the group as she looked around. "The last thing I remember is my boyfriend trying to protect me from a dark-haired British guy in a lab coat." The girl's face paled and took on a panic-stricken expression. "BEN?!"
Gwen knelt down to be eye level with her alternate self. "Calm down." The redhead sixteen year old told the younger version. "You're in a different timeline. That means…"
"…a different me, a different Ben, and…" The alternate's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Kevin! What have you done with Ben?!" The ten year old marched up and slugged Kevin. "I know you had something to do with this! You and Ben were quick friends when you first met…too quick. WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY BOYFRIEND?!"
Everything froze when the alternate Gwen (A-Gwen for convenience) blurted out that question.
Ben blushed hardest out of the three teens and walked over to A-Gwen. "Um…in this world, we're cousins, Gwen."
"Yeah, we've been fighting together for about a year now: me, Kevin, and Ben."
A-Gwen raised an eyebrow and looked between the redhead and Kevin. "What's next?" She growled. "Is Vilgax going to ask Ben out on a date?!"
"I'm…nuanced." Kevin said as he got up and walked toward A-Gwen.
A-Gwen shook her head. "Oh…so you're a snake in the grass patiently waiting for a meal?" She asked as she looked back at the older redhead.
"It's not like that! I-"
"So the massive energy surge I felt even outside of time didn't tempt you?" She asked with a knowing look. "Why else would you go after an energy being like Gwen except to ensure an infinite supply for your energy addiction?"
A-Gwen saw Main Gwen shiver and take a half step back from Kevin. "I'm sorry…" She sneered. "Did I scare you? I meant 'habit'."
"You little brat!" Kevin growled as he charged her and picked her up by the shirt. "Paradox had EVERYTHING lined up for me to take everything from Ben while getting my fix and YOU FUCKED IT UP!"
With a roar, he attempted to throw A-Gwen into a wall, but she recited a spell to slow her down and give her time to push off the wall with her feet and launch herself at Kevin. With a scowl on her face and rage in her eyes, the young girl started beating Kevin.
Too stunned to react, the older redhead only watched as her cousin got between Kevin and A-Gwen.
"I almost put you down once, Kevin!" Ben growled. "The only reason I didn't is because Gwen stopped me." Ben shook his head. "She believed you were capable of change. However, she didn't see the psychopath you were BEFORE you mutated. I did."
Ben looked back at a shellshocked Gwen. The tears standing in her eyes called out to him and stirred Ben's fury. No one made Gwen cry! In a few seconds of eye contact, Ben asked his cousin if he should continue. When she gave a quick and shaky nod, Ben turned back to Kevin, went Ultimate Echo Echo, surrounded Kevin in a sphere of speaker pods, and unleashed their might. There was a sickening wet squelch from inside the speaker ball as the frequency matched resonance with Kevin's body.
Ben deactivated the Ultimatrix and sighed heavily at what he had to do. Then, he walked over and pulled Gwen into a gentle embrace.
"Ben, he…just…wanted…" Gwen tried to talk, but the trauma of her ex-boyfriend seeing her as nothing more than a drug supply broke her.
Ben said nothin and let her cry as he held her. Gwen, I'll be here when you're ready. Ben thought as he stood and let her weep.
Away from the cousins, a man in red Knight's armor appeared next to A-Gwen. He smiled, knelt, and removed his helmet.
"I think you've been away from home long enough, Gwen Summers." The kind man looked at her.
The knight simply nodded. "I know. I'll deal with my student." He then looked at the Hands. "First, I must return you and banish the Hands outside of time and space."
Summers sighed and looked at him. "I don't want to forget." She protested as she put her hand on the artifact. "Those countless ages without Ben… ownI now know how important he is to me."
Warrior nodded. "You won't forget, child." He walked up to the Hands and drew his sword. "Return home." He said softly as the blade came down and sheered the Hands in two before he and the broken Hands evaporated in white light.
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Author's Note Two: I originally wanted a different ending, but the story took on a life of its own. Also, I MAY continue this. At this time, I don't know yet.