Chapter 12: Null Void Nuisances Part 1: Nasty Nanochips

"Thanks for taking me out tonight, Ben," Julie said as she and Ben entered the tennis court. While Ben would've preferred to go to Burger Shack, this was more important. Soon, Julie would be entering into the semifinals of a national tennis tournament, and she and Ben were using their practice as a chance for a date, with Lucario having tagged along.

"Hey, you're up for the next step in your tennis star career! I had to celebrate somehow!" Ben replied as he continued to serve more to Julie. "If it's important to you, then there's nothing more to it!"

"Ship! Ship!" Ship chirped in agreement as he lay on Lucario's lap. The Aura Pokémon couldn't help but see how strong their bond was. Ben wasn't doing so well, as could be expected against his far better beloved, but the smile in his face never faded. That smile faded, though, when the distinct glow of teleportation assaulted their eyes. In a flash, Magister Patelliday had appeared.

"Ah. Apologies for the interruption, lovebirds, but you're needed at Plumber HQ in a few minutes," Patelliday explained.

"If I may ask, can it be postponed? I trust you wouldn't wish to intrude on their time together," Lucario politely asked.

"Sorry. I'm a fan of young love mahself, but this ain't something that we can do. It's Elena," Patelliday revealed. At that name, Ben and Julie froze up.

"Alright. We'll be there. Come on, Lucario. This can't wait at all," Ben huffed, his face taking a seriously visage. In a flash, all of them teleported to Plumber HQ.

"Ah suppose I haven't properly introduced ya to this place, Lucario, but welcome to Plumber HQ!" Magister Patelliday introduced. Lucario was left in utter awe of the place. The central pillar, reminding him of anecdotes of Johto's Sprout Tower, was surrounded by drawbridge-like platforms that lead to all manner of facilities. There were a number of thugs in the holding cells, including the familiar face of Fisttrick.

"Thank you, Magister," Lucario greeted. "So who exactly is Elena Validus?"

"An old friend of my from my childhood. Someone I thought I'd never see again," Ben wistfully answered.

"She wasn't there in Charles Zenith's game?" Julie asked.

"No. Guess even Zenith felt those chips were too dangerous to be loose?" Ben wondered in return.

"Chips? I hardly think that those roasted potato slices could be dangerous," Lucario wondered. "Perhaps to taste buds, though. The salt they put in them is excessive, I find."

"Not those kind of chips, pal. Nanochips. Tiny machines that can link together to form almost anything. Machines, buildings, and even copies of people," Patelliday explained. "But that ain't what really makes them dangerous. You know how bee colonies function?"

"Yes. Several workers serve a single queen who continuously reproduces to keep the hive replenished of those who perish either defending the hive or gathering pollen," Lucario could confidently answer, noting how similar the bees were to Combee and Vespiqueen.

"Bingo! Well, the chips can actually overwrite the minds of those they enter the body of, allowing the queen to turn them into mindless worker drones!" Patelliday answered.

"I see. Dangerous to be sure, but what does all this have to do with Elena?" Lucario questioned.

"Her father, Victor, studied the Nanochips extensively, and warned us about the danger they could cause. Sadly, we ignored his warnings and when he stole alien technology, we made him resign," Patelliday said, looking down sadly. "When the Queen attacked, it was only because of Ben and his team working alongside Elena that the chips were neutralized."

"Yeah, or so we thought," Julie continued. "After her father's death, Elena took over his research, but the Queen Ben we destroyed was a decoy, with the real Queen taking over Elena's body, making her a Nanochip/Human hybrid. Afterwards, she became obsessive over Ben, wanting him for herself. The last time we fought her, she swore vengeance after it was obvious that Ben wasn't interested in her. The last we heard, she'd been captured and sent to the Null Void during an attempt to capture Ben's family while Ben and the others were on Anur Transyl taking care of some problems over there."

"That's all true, but now, it's her parole hearing. I don't how it happened, but apparently she found a way to remove the Nanochips from her body," Magister Patelliday concluded. "Chadzmuth is her attorney, and he's swearing she'll be on the straight and narrow path."

"That guy? UGGGH!" Ben groaned, thinking back to the attorney who'd given him a headache in the legal hassle of dealing with his vigilantism. "If I have to hear his allegations about my vigilantism being unwarranted aggression, I'm going to tear out my hair!"

"Calm down. I don't think he'd do that here," Julie tried to reassure her boyfriend.

"He's not. He actually wanted you here as proof that she's gotten over you," Patelliday revealed.

"Wait, what?" Lucario flatly inquired. "Ben is...evidence?"

"You'll understand when you get there," Patelliday answered. "His words, not mine."

"Alright. If it'll help her, then I'll do it," Ben sighed out. He was, however, surprised to see his grandfather nearby, having a somber expression. "Grandpa Max? You're here as well?"

"Ben. Wish we could've met under better circumstances," Max said with surprising melancholy. "I feel bad for what happened with Elena, considering it's what I did to Victor that probably pushed her on that path?"

"Pardon me, Magister Tennyson, but how could you believe that?" Lucario asked. "I'm told it was only because Victor stole technology that he got fired. How were you to know that said technology would be so dangerous?"

"True, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't have at least listened," Max pointed out. "I was so angry that one of protégés went rogue that I didn't bother to listen to him, and that let him become the Queen's puppet. If Elena hadn't been insistent on his innocence, I think the Queen would have managed to turn Earth into her personal hive. That's why I've come, so I can give Elena another chance. She somehow managed to free herself from the chip's control, and she'll need some time to reintegrate to life on Earth."

"All rise for the honorable Judge Domstol!" A Robucket announced. This robot had a bucket-like lower torso with a Plumber badge, while wearing a standard Plumber Suit on the upper torso. It also had white thin legs with silver "toes", and a black face with humanoid eyes, alongside white circular dishes and a light blue light bulb on the top of its head.

"Thank you, Robucket," Judge Domstol was an alien with a partially metallic body, a Sylonnoid if Lucario recalled correctly. From his shoulders up to his forehead, he was almost entirely made of copper. His lips and the outline of his eyes were dark gold, his sclera black, and his pupils white. His brain poked out of his metal head and there was a golden circle on the front of his brain. A similar ellipse appeared on his chest, dividing his metallic upper body from the black robe that covers the rest of his body. He also wore glasses, copper gloves, and a periwig. Clearing his throat, Judge Domstol began. "Court is in session for the parole hearing of Elena Validus. Bring in the defendant!"

At this, two Plumbers brought in whom Lucario could only assume to be Elena. She had medium length brown hair, brown eyes with long lashes, and tan skin. Her attire consisted of a red leather jacket over a black shirt, black leather pants, black fingerless gloves, and black heels. Her hands were held in front of her in energy cuffs while her feet were similarly bound, and she was made to sit in a chair. A Galvan, much like Blukic and Driba, accompanied her on a floating platform, wearing a very finely tailored suit. Lucario assumed that this was Chadzmuth. Seeing the sad look in her eyes, Lucario couldn't help but pity her. 'It must not have been easy to be trapped in your body, and merely being a puppet to a cruel mistress. Tis not a fate I would doom my worst enemy,' the Aura Pokémon thought to himself.

"Your Honor. I would like to preface my statement by saying that Elena Validus has been checked by Galvan physicians, and the fact that she was able to expel the nanites from her system should speak to her desire to improve herself," Chadzmuth began.

"Perhaps. But would you deny that her crimes were not something to be forgiven?" Judge Domstol began. "Benjamin Kirby Tennyson, will you please provide testimony of what she did to you during your first encounter after the Alien Swarm case?"

Huffing, Ben stood up. "All right, your Honor. She made us think that her father had come back to haunt us, and tried to keep me all to herself. She told me that she could give me anything she wanted, and saying that the chips helped foster her desire for me into an obsession. She attacked me and my friends, and captured my girlfriend when I refused her advances."

Judge Domstol gasped. "Elena, will you deny the witness's statement?"

In a somewhat defeated voice, Elena looked down sadly and admitted, "No, your Honor. I don't deny what I did. My time in the Null Void has let me reflect on my actions, and I can't apologize enough for what I did. The chips took control of me, but I was still cognizant of what I wanted."

"I see," Judge Domstol noted. "Then Julie Yamamoto. Would you please tell me what you witnessed during the second incident?"

"Yes, your Honor," Julie respectfully answered as she bowed. "When I got back from my tournament, I found that Ben was being attacked by Elena, and had been trying to choke Ben by making him swallow her Nanochips, apparently after he made it clear he was not interested in her. I told her that if she was willing to kill Ben, she really didn't understand love at all. Afterwards, even after he turned back, he still found himself coughing up Nanochips."

"What?!" Judge Domstol asked in shock. "Will the defendant plead not guilty to such a heinous act?"

"No," Elena replied. "I can't deny that I was mad at him. When he said no, I saw red, and I thought that if I couldn't have him, then no one would. I was blinded by rage, and I didn't think about what I did to him afterwards. But I swear, after that, I realized what I'd done, though the Queen still seemed hellbent on trying to make him hers."

"If I may speak, your Honor?" Chadzmuth interjected. "Don't you think you may be being a bit too harsh on my client?"

"Harsh?" Judge Domstol said in shock. "Are you asking me to be soft on someone who admits to attempting to kill the wielder of the Omnitrix for such a petty reason as romantic possessiveness?!"

"Yes, but let me explain," Chadzmuth cooly replied, countering the judge's hot passion. "Nanochips are known to cause emotional imbalance and personality alterations. Dissociation, reversion, and loss of inhibition are all common symptomns of Nanochip possession. My client was a victim to a hostile alien parasite that claimed control of her mind, and melded parts of her personality while using her own body as a vehicle for transmission. Are these not deserving of sympathy?" Seeing how very pointedly it looked towards Max, Lucario couldn't help but growl when he saw the blatant attempt at guilt tripping working on Max. It didn't make his points moot, though, but it certainly made it hard not to want to pop the amoral attorney's head like a Drifloon carrying a child away.

"Perhaps, but how can we be sure that the defendant has charged and is ready to start her parole?" Judge Domstol conceded.

"Because of her behavior in the past year, of course!" Chadzmuth revealed with a smirk. "She has been nothing but a model prisoner. She's not gotten into fights once, never made a threat against any fellow inmates, and has never gotten in trouble with the guards. She even offered us aid in stopping an attempt by Morgg to restart his drug ring, revealing crucial information that helped stopped his operations before they could truly begin!"

"Hmm. Being willing to snitch on one of the more dangerous inmates is certainly lending credence to the theory of being better behaved, but regardless, there is still the matter of how to handle her parole," Judge Domstol accepted.

"That is why I brought Max in, and why Ben, Julie, and their new friend have come here!" Chadzmuth explained. "Max, why don't you go over the arrangement made for her."

"Alright, I'm up," Max grumbled as he cleared his throat. "Elena Validus, until she feels ready to integrate into human society, will be put under Plumber supervision, and I will accompany her for the most part. The only times I plan on having her being out of my sight are when trusted Plumbers can be made to oversee her as well."

"Reasonable enough," Judge Domstol accepted. "So what is the purpose of the presence of our defendant's victims and their compatriot?"

"Lucario will serve as an independent witness to their acceptance of this deal," Max continued, leading the couple's eyes to widened. "Elena has made it clear that she only wishes to spend time with them as a means to make up for her actions."

"Very well. Let it be known that in light of the defendant's good behavior and willingness to make amends, she has been judged as worthy of parole for until she is ready to reintegrate into Earth's society," Judge Domstol began. "Does the defendant have any complaints?"

"No, your Honor," Elena agreed, tears forming in her eyes. "I know what I've done is wrong, and I'll do whatever it takes to prove that I've changed!"

"Very well," Domstol conceded. Turning to Ben and the others, he asked, "Do Ben Tennyson, Max Tennyson, and Julie Yamamoto have any objections?"

"If it means helping my student's daughter after I messed up with him, I'll do it," Max concurred.

"I remember the good times playing soccer with Elena," Ben recollected. "I want to have my friend back, and at least now we have the chance to fix things."

"I can't say I'm happy with this," Julie prefaced. "I remember being her prisoner and how she tried to kill Ben when he made it clear he wasn't interested." At this, Elena looked down at the ground, ashamed of her actions. "But, given that the Nanochips could have affected her mind, I'll give her this chance to make up for it."

"Thank you," Elena softly replied in gratitude, tears streaming from her eyes. "I won't forget this. And I promise I'll make up for what I've done."

Lucario huffed. He couldn't blame Ben for wanting to reconnect with a childhood friend, and he certainly didn't doubt his loyalty to Julie. Lucario, however, couldn't help but feel that this was going to be disastrous. In his head, he thought, 'I pray to Arceus that her words are true. But something seems suspicious about this whole scenario.'

3 Days Later

After a few days of settling, Ben and Julie had decided to entrust Elena, until she could get her footing, to Max. Considering that such a thing at least made it so that she hopefully wouldn't be tempted to relapse, Ben and the others had agreed to the procedure. Lucario, unfortunately, still had a nagging feeling that something was about to happen.

"It may not be my place to question the justice system, but do you really think she's changed, Ben?" Lucario asked.

"I want to believe she has," Ben admitted. "Maybe it's just because I have fond memories of her before she went crazy, but I know there's still good in her. There was enough of her the first time to resist the Nanochips' influence to save me and Julie."

"Forgive me, I did not mean to bring up bad memories," Lucario apologized. "But all the same, I swear something is up with her."

"What do you mean, Lucario?" Sandra asked as she gave him a plate of eggs and bacon.

"I do not know how to phrase this, but I feel like she may not be telling the truth," Lucario explained. "Are you sure that she had the queen removed? We only have her and her lawyer's statements to prove such a claim."

"That's a fair point, but I really want things to go well," Ben mused wistfully. "Do you honestly think that she'd be lying about something like that?"

" not sure," Lucario admitted. "But my only information about her are the records and anecdotes I have been given, and I would not wish for you to be hurt because you were too trusting."

"Well, we're meeting with her later today, so why not come with us?" Ben offered.

"Us?" Lucario asked in confusion?

"Yeah, us, as in me and Julie!" Ben explained.

"Are...are you sure that is wise?" Lucario asked in concern. "She may be handling you on your own, but who knows how her envy could pan out with your combined presence?"

"Lucario, she'll be with Max, so if anything happens, I'm sure he'll be able to handle it," Ben reassured the Aura Pokémon.

As the trio arrived at the Rustbucket, they saw that Elena had been settling quite well, though clearly still not quite accepting of Max's...cuisine.

"The more I keep thinking of the meals he served you, the more I feel like my stomach got filled with Muk," Lucario grimaced, recalling Max serving dung beetle stew. It took him 3 hours to get his body to digest it, and he immediately drunk a lot of water to wash away the taste.

"When he does Earth stuff, I think I've adjusted well enough, but keep me away from his alien meals!" Ben agreed. Indeed, Ben found it disturbing that he could think about grubworms and not immediate gag at the thought of roasting and eating them.

"They're not that bad, are they?" Max asked, somewhat hurt.

"Sorry, Grandpa, but I don't think I'm comfortable when you serve a meal that tries to make a meal out of my face," Ben apologized and explained. Seeing the explanation, Max nodded.

"Fair enough," Elena noted. "Happened twice already, and wasn't a pleasant experience at all." Hearing that, Lucario's grimace grew, making a note to never accept an invitation for dinner from Max.

" have you been settling in?" Ben asked Elena.

"Meh, it's been alright," Elena shrugged, smiling wistfully. "Definitely a lot better than the Null Void. No worry of those guardians deciding to eat me now."

"Yes. I heard of the tales of the Null Void, and I certainly have no desire to visit it any time soon," Lucario confirmed. A dimension much like Giratina's Distortion World, it was where the worst criminals and the most fearsome beasts were put to keep them away from the rest of the galaxy.

"Trust me, that's a smart move," Elena chuckled. "But while I still have this tracker on me for now, it's still better than anything in the past year."

"How do you say?" Julie asked.

"Time alone like that? You have enough to look back on what you did, and how stupid you were," Elena said. "I've been able to accept that you and Ben are together again, and I really was horrible, wasn't I?"

"You were," Ben flatly said, making her deflate. "But you got a second choice, and I really want this to work out, so please don't mess this one up."

As Lucario slept that night, it was then he felt something. Getting up from the bed, he activated Detect, and soon enough, he found an unfamiliar presence, making him gasp. Immediately, his training under Sir Aaron kicked in, and he turned quiet as a Rattata. Realizing that the presence seemed ready to enter the house, Lucario readied to set up an ambush. Continuing to keep up Detect to continue tracking the intruder down, Lucario stood atop the stairs, ready to attack when the intruder approached them.

"Just a few minutes more, and once I bring Ben and Julie to the one who helped me, I'll finally have a proper body all for myself!" the voice rang. Lucario sputtered in absolute shock: it was a dead ringer for Elena Validus!

'How is that possible?' Lucario thought to himself, trying his best to keep his composure to continue detecting who was coming. 'I thought the trial said Elena couldn't use her powers, and all the Nanochips had been removed from her system!'

Regardless of his thoughts, Lucario still chose to focus on the task at hand: keeping Ben safe. Once he detected the intruder approach the stairs, he readied an Aura Sphere and let out a battle cry to catch its attention. "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!"

"WHAT?!" the intruder asked in complete surprise. Taken aback, it had no chance to respond, and Lucario was able to jump down and through the Aura Sphere directly into its chest. Flying back into the door, it quickly evaded into the living room, and when Lucario followed it and turned on the lights, he was finally able to get a good look at the intruder. It had a female body, but its facial skin was a chrome blue, and the rest of her body was black, with light blue circuit-like lines. What caught Lucario's eye the most was the four horns coming out of her head. "Who are you?!"

"You don't recognize me? We met mere hours ago!" Lucario stated to whom he thought was Elena. She certainly resembled the form Ben told him she took.

"I assure you, I have no idea what you're talking about, freak!" the intruder fired back. "Now die!" At this, her arm morphed into what looked like a gun, and Lucario, seeing a rifle mounted atop the mantle, quickly avoided the shot, which turned out to be Nanochips, and grabbed it. Not knowing how to use it, Lucario instead chose to use it as a blunt instrument, whacking the intruder out of the window. As the glass shattered, it soon became clear that Ben had come on the scene, albeit in his black t-shirt and white shorts.

"Lucario, what's going- what the?!" Ben sputtered in utter shock. "Elena?! What the heck are you doing?"

"Getting what belongs to me!" Elena declared as she stood up, firing Nanochips around her, which quickly morphed into clones of herself. At this, Ben activated the Omnitrix, transforming into Heatblast.

"Alright then. Then I have no choice but to make you into a bunch of briquets!" Heatblast declared as fire formed in his palms. At this, a wave of fire was sent out, and while the real Elena managed to form tentacles that sprung her into the air, her clones weren't so lucky, and they were quickly roasted into ash. Lucario followed suit, rushing at the invader with Extreme Speed and then proceeding to release a bevy of punches and slashes with his wrist claws.

"Why are you doing this?" Lucario asked Elena after sending her flying. "Are you that eager to get to Ben that you would squander a second chance at freedom?"

"She is eager to get to Ben," A strangely voice rang out. "On my behalf." At this, Lucario was blasted by a fireball, making him scream in pain. When Lucario got a luck in the assailant, he gasped. It looked like a dead ringer for Swampfire in every way apart from the color. Where Swampfire's body was mostly a swampy green, this version of the Methanosian sample was a necrotic black, his eyes were blood red, and his Omnitrix symbol was red instead of green.

"Albedo," Heatblast growled. "Been a long time since I saw your ugly mug since the Malgax incident."

"You say my 'mug' is ugly, when it is in fact yours, if a bit different. Are you that hateful of your own face?" Albedo snarked, chuckling. "I wanted to ensure my partner here didn't screw up her mission, but I must say that I wasn't expecting an unknown variable like your new friend to come in! And what a fascinating specimen he is!"

"Great, another one eager to cut me open," Lucario groaned, having flashbacks of Dr. Animo. "Who are you?"

"Oh yeah, you haven't been properly introduced, have you?" Heatblast realized. "Lucario, meet Albedo. A Galvan who always thought himself more worthy of the Omnitrix and ended up becoming the complementary color version of me, all with a "better-than-thou" superiority complex. Albedo, meet Lucario, my new friend."

"Hmm, yes. A pleasure indeed," The fake Swampfire noted before switching off his Omnitrix. In a flesh of bright red light, a new figure stood in the Methanosian's place, and Lucario's jaw dropped like a Pidgey in a thunderstorm. Albedo truly looked identical to Ben, apart from color. His hair was a stark white unlike Ben's chocolatey brown, his eyes were crimson, his pants and shoes were a darker shade, and his jacket was red with a backwards "10" on the left, mirroring Ben's jacket having "10 on the right hand side. What caught Lucario's eye was the fact that on Albedo's right arm was what looked like a gauntlet-like device similar to the Ultimatrix, with white lines going from it and the vanguard stretching up to the wrist.

"Albedo, at your disservice!" Albedo introduced himself with a mock bow. "Elena, it's no use trying to deal with these pests right now. We'll regroup and try again later!" At this, he transformed into a negative version of XLR8. Unlike regular XLR8, Albedo's take on the Kineceleran sample was orange and white, and the red eyes remained.

"I will see you later, inferior creatures!" Negative XLR8 said with a mock salute as he ran off, kicking off a cloud of dust

Growling, Elena grew what looked like a jetpack on her back. "This isn't over, Tennyson! You will be mine!" At this, she activated the turbines and flew away, with Heatblast turning back to normal.

"Go ahead," Ben sadly said. "Say 'I told you so'."

"Why?" Lucario asked, tilting his head in confusion.

"You warned me that Elena was playing nice, but she's been lying to us! She's still not over me, it seems!" Ben pointed out.

"But remind me again," Lucario stated as he scratched his chin. "She did those crimes on her own. Albedo had no involvement in her history, correct?"

Ben's eyes widened, realizing something. "Yeah. Maybe he's involved with getting the chips out of her, and he's making her work for him as payment."

"Perhaps," Lucario acknowledged the theory. "If what I have read about Galvans is true, then he may be one of the people in the galaxy smart enough to pull off such a procedure, and then making her work for him as recompense. At any rate, the best thing to do is ask her about it."

"Yeah, but if she really is involved, she's not going to go up and scream it from the hilltops," Ben replied. "We'll need to get it from her indirectly."

The day after the attack, Lucario and Ben had taken the time to determine how they'd go about things, now that it seemed Elena and Albedo had joined forces against the latter. On their way to the Rustbucket, the two had decided to share what had happened to Julie, keeping her in the loop while also giving Lucario a Plumber's badge.

"So Elena really hasn't changed? And she's working with Albedo?" Julie recapped.

"Ship," Ship said fearfully, trembling.

"That is what it looks like," Lucario said in turn. "But do not bring this up openly just yet. Let us see if she can tell us how she got the chips out of her body."

"Yeah, what he said," Ben agreed. "So right now, let's not tell Grandpa about the attack until then,"

"Are you sure your parents would not have already told him?" Lucario asked.

"I was attacked by a Nanochip clone of Victor Validus once before and had Albedo actually invade my house to put a dream monster on my face," Ben stated. "Both times never attracted their attention, so I doubt they'd know."

" strangely comforting," Lucario shuddered at the idea of being thankful of their plan hinging on Ben's parents being deep sleepers.

As the trio and Ship approached the Rustbucket, they quickly put on more casual faces as Elena smiled, seemingly not recalling that she'd attacked them the literal night before. "Hey guys, what's up?"

"Nothing much. Just didn't have a particularly good sleep last night," Ben said as he yawned.

"Yes. I confess that my sleep has been rather...fitful of late," Lucario continued.

"If you need a pick-me-up, then you're at the right place boys!" Grandpa Max cheerfully claimed as he stepped out, holding two mugs of what looked like warm coffee. "Who wants grasshopper tea?"

"I...I think I will pass on such an offer, Mr. Tennyson," Lucario replied, gagging at the idea of grasshoppers' spiny legs going down his throat.

"I guess I'll give it a go," Ben sighed. "Not really in a good position to complain anyway." Taking the tea, Ben took a sip, before his eyes widened. "Hey! It's actually pretty good."

"And to think you and Gwen used to complain about everything I made!" Max laughed. "So what I can I do for you?"

"We came to talk to Elena for a bit. Been a while since we last talked, so we thought it'd be nice to catch up," Ben explained keeping to the story him and Lucario decided to follow. "Is it...okay if we have a bit of privacy?"

"Of course! I think she'll behave around you three!" Max replied jovially, exiting the Rustbucket. That made Ben and Lucario tense up, as they knew what was about to happen could certain make her misbehave if she felt threatened.

"So, what did you want to talk about?" Elena asked without a care in the world, further puzzling the three.

"To be honest, Elena, something bad did happen yesterday night, and that's why we couldn't sleep," Ben began. That got Elena's attention as her smile dropped.

"What? What happened?" Elena's face betrayed no knowledge of what happened.

"Ben's home was invaded," Lucario factually stated. "By Albedo and someone he called Elena."

"Wait, what?" was Elena's shocked reply, her face matching her tone. "Someone with my name attacked you guys?"

"Not someone with just your name, but your powers when you were a Nanochip/Human hybrid!" Ben exclaimed. "But you say you've got the chips out of your system, right?"

"I'm telling you, it's not me!" Elena protested. "It's impossible for me to have attacked you guys last night! I was sleeping all night!"

"But like with the chips, we only have your word for it," Julie hissed, angry at the denial. "So you want to explain how you got the chips out of your system? Because I don't recall that being something brought up in court."

"So did Chadzmuth know that something like that would be bad for your innocence? Because you were taking deals from a known attacker of Azmuth?" Ben continued the interrogation.

"No! I mean...yes!" Elena cried in frustration. "You want to know what happened? Then listen to me! Please!"

"Your explanation had better be good," Lucario growled, though happy to see some progress in the quest for more information.

"Alright, so yeah, Chadzmuth didn't want me bringing up how I got the chips out of my system because he said it would worsen things for my image as a regretful criminal," Elena admitted.

"Okay, and you certainly seemed regretful, but was that an act?" Lucario bluntly inquired.

"No. I meant what I said," Elena stated. "But the way I got the chips out wasn't exactly...up to snuff."

"Go on," Julie pressed.

"The first few weeks in the Null Void were absolute hell for me. Having a bunch of the galaxy's worst around me and having my mind constantly assaulted by the Nanite Queen's rambling really didn't do any favors," Elena continued. "That was when out of nowhere, he showed up."

"Albedo," Lucario noted.

"Yeah. I think the Queen and I were still hung up on you, so the fact he looked like you led us to being putty in his hands. He said that he would give us the chance to live our lives apart from each other, in separate bodies," Elena stated. "It seemed like a win-win for each of us. I'd be free of the Queen's rambling, and she'd get a body of her own, just like she wanted when she wanted you Ben."

"Wait, she wanted my body?" Ben asked in shock.

"That's right. Your place in society would have been nothing but a blessing to her, as she could slip her chips into anything with your brand on it," Elena revealed. "But more importantly, she wanted the ability to turn into other alien forms so she could make them part of her as well. You would've been a perfect guinea pig!"

"And you thought someone like that would be free to leave peacefully?!" Julie could only ask in complete horror.

"No! When the procedure was done, Albedo told me that it had been a lie, and his plan was to dispose of her when he had the chance. After the procedure was done, I was a bit woozy and just happy to have the queen out of my body, so I just went along with it! I'm swearing on my father's name that I had no idea that any of this was going to happen!" Elena retorted.

"What do you think, Ben? Should we believe her?" Lucario asked after the bombshells had been dropped and processed.

"I...I want to. Albedo is definitely someone I could see able to do something like that, but still, you should've talked about this!" Ben stated. "Even if it made you look bad, at least we would've had the chance to prepare for them coming!"

"I know, and I'm sorry about that," Elena wistfully replied, tears pooling in her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Ben. I didn't mean for any of this to happen! I swear!"

"Look. What's done is done, but if we want to be sure that Elena isn't involved with this, why not have someone stay with her for the night?" Julie suggested.

"Not... such a bad idea," Lucario mused. "Why don't I do it? I'm only a guest in Ben's home right now, and with the Plumber's badge you gave me, I can keep in contact with you guys if something happens with Elena."

"Fine with me," Elena answered. "I'll explain to Max that since you don't know me so well, you're just going to spend the night with me so we can get to know each other."

"Alright," Ben conceded. Afterwards, though, he gave Elena a firm glare. "Elena, if you turn out to be involved in this, so help me, I will personally drag your butt back to the Null Void! Got it?"

"Crystal clear," Elena said as she straightened up, shocked at Ben's loss of lackadaisical tone.

The next night night, Lucario had indeed stayed in the Rustbucket, taking a container of Sandra's dinner with him beforehand, not willing to risk any of Max's food going down his gullet.

" that's how I got here," Lucario conclude the recap of his life.

"Well, if nothing else, it does explain your way of speaking," Elena noted, her face still frozen in surprise of there being alternate dimensions. "You did come across as an actor in a Medieval Times show."

"Still, I would not fault you if you did not believe me," Lucario stated. "My story is probably fantastical, even for a place such as this."

That Night (Ben)

That night, Ben received a phone call from Julie, and had been waiting outside of Kevin's garage, with her having apparently found out something about Elena. Arriving at Elena's old lab, he quickly transformed into a familiar form, just to be secure.

"FEEDBACK!" Ben declared as he transformed into one of his personal favorites. Feedback had a black body with one green eye in the middle of his head, two antennae, a tail with round plugs on their tips, four-fingered hands with the fingers ending in square-shaped plugs, and feet with only two front toes. There were also gold battery bolts on his shoulders, arms, and hips. The Omnitrix symbol lay on his chest.


Codon Stream Entry: Feedback

Species: Conductoid

Home World: Teslavorr Nebula

The Teslavorr Nebula is a rather high-powered area. 60 light-years in diameter, it's mostly comprised of ionized gases, and known for creating large amounts of static discharge. As such, the Conductoid race are proficient in absorbing energy. While baby and adolescent Conductoids can absorb any form of energy, they slowly develop batteries that make it difficult for them to absorb any energy that isn't electrical in nature, similar to how humans can become lactose intolerant with age. That being said, these batteries can act as capacitors: adult Conductoids are known to be masters of electrokinesis, able to create localized electric tornadoes, leave electric mines that paralyze unlucky prey, or even form blades of electricity on their plug-like fingertips and prehensile antenna and tail. Even then, they can not only fire electric blasts, but they can increase the output power of any electrical energy they absorb.


"Ben? Is that you?" Feedback heard Julie's voice ring out.

"Yeah," Feedback relaxed. "I'm here. Just waiting for Elena to prove my faith in her wrong."

"I thought you believed her," Julie noted.

"I did, but she didn't tell us about Albedo's involvement in this, and that really makes me think she's lying," Feedback continued his train of thought. "Gosh, I really wish she could just be here and spell it out for us!"

"Well, then," Julie's voice began changing, as if through a voice modulator beginning to fail. "Why don't you ask me?" Out of the shadows emerged Elena in her Nanite form, chuckling.

"You witch! How dare you?!" Feedback was furious. Having his tentacles quickly absorbing power from a nearby generator, he quickly formed a sharp blade on his tail, making it a makeshift stinger. At this, Elena backed off before creating a chainsaw in her right hand. At this, Feedback released his tentacles, forming blades on the plugs there as well as his fingers. 11 blades wouldn't be easy, but it would still give Elena considerable trouble. With Feedback slashing rapidly at her, Elena ended up having her left arm severed during the mayhem, before quickly regenerating it with more Nanochips, but then reforming it into a structure similar to a lightning rod. When the electric blades on his tentacles and tail clashed with the lightning rod, it quickly absorbed the electricity and readied for a shot back. At this, Feedback quickly changed his blades to beams, thrusting himself up like a rocket. "You had to use my girl's voice to get me where you wanted! Have you no shame?"

"Shame? This was a pragmatic solution!" Elena retorted before she sent out more Nanochips to turn into copies of herself. Seeing that he would need some better firepower, Ben quickly changed gears, turning into Armodrillo.

"Let's shake things up with ARMODRILLO!" The Talpaedan declared as he created a powerful earthquake, making some of the copies fall into a bunch of inactive Nanochips.

"Oh Ben, don't you remember the last time you did that?" Elena sadistically declared, as she turned her lightning rod into a cannon. "I made you eat those words!"

"Oh no, you don't!" Armodrillo realized as he quickly switched tactics. Hitting the Omnitrix again, he turned into another old form that he'd not used in recent memory. This time, what stood in Armodrillo's place was a strange creature resembling Dr. Frankenstein's monster. He had a muscular body with a human nose, black hair with sideburns, and a pair of black bolts on each side of his neck that were green in the crease alongside three more bolts on his chest. He wore brown metal gloves with his fingers showing and metal pants with lines on them with glowing green triangle dashes in the middle. There were also two tower-shaped conductor coil-like generators on his back, his hair had a mullet hairstyle with brown at the end, and stitch-like lines on his arms: half of his shoulder on his right arm and halfway from his glove on his left arm. Completing his ensemble were green lines on his waist that connected to the Omnitrix symbol like a belt clasp.

"FRANKENSTRIKE!" The creature declared in a deep, booming voice.


Codon Stream Entry: Frankenstrike

Species: Transylian

Home World: Anur Transyl

Anur Transyl is probably the most hospitable planet in the Anur system relatively speaking, not having the desolate deserts of Anur Khufos, nor the near omni-present darkness of Anur Phateos, nor the constant mutagens of Anur Ormerow, nor the life draining attributes of Anur Vladias. The towns generally resemble those of medieval times, and Transylians are known to be quite easily frightened of other races. Despite this, Transylians that make friends with others are known to be loyal and devoted friends, willing to help others at risk to themselves, and have innate curiosity for the working of life itself. This lends them to be incredible scientists, though not quite on par with devoted intellectual species like Cerebrocrustaceans and Galvans. Their bodies are combination of flesh and organic metal, essentially making them natural cyborgs from birth. As a result, they have the unique ability to control electromagnetism: while many species dedicate themselves to either electricity or magnetism, Transylians can command both. This allows them to not only unleash powerful blasts of electricity, but also allow them to stick to metallic surfaces and release EMPs to disable technology. They are also capable of using their electromagnetic powers to control technology, similar to Cerebrocrustaceans, but on a more intuitive method, and can even survive the vacuum of space.


"Let's do this, then!" At this, Frankenstrike's coils began charging green electricity and blasted it at one of the clones, which screamed in agony before exploding into useless Nanochips, all of them smoking. Seeing the tools on the wall, he quickly formed a small electromagnetic field that surrounded them, before throwing them all at Elena. Elena quickly dissipated before dodging them, but this gave Frankenstrike enough time to charge his fists with electricity, and he quickly charged at her, releasing a bevy of electrically charged punches. Elena attempted to once again smother him in chips, but Frankenstrike elected to surround his entire body with electricity, causing any chip that touched his body to immediately fry and clatter harmlessly.

"Perhaps I may not be able to touch you, but I don't need to necessarily," Elena deduced. "Not when I can do this!" At this, she sent an electric blast of her own directly at the Omnitrix symbol. As electricity crackled around it, the Omnitrix seemed to short out, and Ben quickly turned back to normal against his will.

"What the-!" Ben cried in shock, quickly turning on the communication channel on the Omnitrix. "Max! This is Ben! It's an emergency! Elena's broken parole and is still under the queen's control! Send back-AAAHHHH!" The scream was a result of Elena pulling out a taser and shocking him into unconsciousness.

That Night (Julie)

Julie and Ship had received a call earlier that night as well, and had been waiting outside of Mr. Smoothy's to do so.

"Ben? I'm here now, so what did you want to talk about?" Julie asked around, hoping he'd hear her.

"Nothing much," At that voice, Julie realized she'd walked into a trap. The voice may have sounded identical to Ben, but the tone was wrong. "Just wanted to see you again, Ms. Yamamoto." Albedo smugly sneered. Switching on his Ultimatrix, Negative Oculus soon stood in Albedo's place. The only difference between this and regular Oculus were that its eyes were red as was its Ultimatrix symbol. "Emphasis on the 'see you'!"

"You really aren't that good with puns," Julie sighed as Ship wrapped around her to form armor. Negative Oculus smirked, and fired electric blasts from some of his eyes, briefly paralyzing Ship, but when it passed, Julie started firing missiles at the Opticoid, hoping that some would hit. However, Negative Oculus weaved around them with ease.

"That the best you got?" Albedo taunted, launching blasts of fire from his palm eyes and destroying the remaining rockets. "I've hardly laid eyes on someone quite as poor a marksman as you!"

"Oh yeah? Then how about a brawl?" Julie let out a battle cry as she charged at the Opticoid, who quickly swapped, and now took on the form of Negative Armodrillo, resembling Ben's own Talpaedan form, but with a red body, red eyes, and a red Ultimatrix Symbol.

"Time to bury you!" Negative Armodrillo declared as he started an earthquake to disorient Julie, before preparing a jackhammer-powered punch. When Julie countered with a fist of her own, the two punches created a shockwave that shattered all the windows in Mr. Smoothy's. Julie, however, gained the upper-hand when Ship sent a shock into Negative Armodrillo's body. Screaming in pain, the Talpaedan twitched, and the pain didn't end there, as Julie continued her attack, pummeling him after turning her right hand into a hammer.

"Alright, now time for you to spill, Albedo!" Julie declared. "Time for you to start telling us what you and Elena have been planning!"

"Ship!" Ship chirped in agreement.

"Alright! You got me!" Negative Armodrillo pleaded, backing into the wall. "I'll tell you what you want to know!"

"Good, then tell us what you and Elena want!" Julie continued her interrogation.

"What we want is," Negative Armodrillo began, before noticing a transformer. At this, he began chuckling, "Nothing of your concern!" Hitting the Ultimatrix, Albedo transformed another time. In his place stood Negative Feedback, having a red stripe instead of green, a single red eye, and a red Ultimatrix symbol. Stretching out his tentacles, he quickly began absorbing the electricity inside.

"But what you should know is this!" Negative Feedback declared before releasing a powerful electric blast at Julie, shocking her and Ship. Ship slid off as he whimpered in pain, but Julie still had enough energy to enter a crawling stance, struggling to stand up as smoke came off her body. "Always be aware of your surroundings!"

That was the last thing Julie heard before she slipped into unconsciousness, groaning as she did so.

"Well, I suppose that you were right all along Elena," Lucario could only mutter in shock after Ben's call stopped on his badge. "You truly had no involvement in this!"

"That's what I've been telling you!" Elena protested, though still thankful to have her claims proven true.

"What are you talking about?" Max asked, not having been in the loop.

"Ben was attacked a few nights ago by Albedo and someone looking like Elena's hybrid form," Lucario explained. "We thought that she'd broken her parole, but it seems that Albedo managed to extract the queen from her and is using that in...whatever plans he has next."

"I see," Max grimaced, adopting a serious expression. "Then we have to get going. The good news is that we can track the Omnitrix through the badge, so getting to them won't be a problem."

"Excellent," Lucario nodded. "Elena? I sincerely apologize for my distrust of you, but please! Help me save Ben!"

"Don't worry, Lucario," Elena reassured her new friend. "I'm not letting them get away with this! I may not have my Nanochip powers, but all I need are some tonfas, and I'll be ready to kick some major butt!"

"And I always keep a few weapons ready!" Max grinned as he pulled out a giant cannon. "Now let's get my grandson and his girlfriend back!"

"Oh, my aching head," Ben could only groan as he awoke. "Did anyone catch the number of that truck?"

"No truck," An unwanted voice answered. "Just little old me."

"Albedo," Ben growled as he looked around him. He had been tied up to the ceiling above a smelting vat by his elbows, preventing him from reaching the Omnitrix. Julie had been similarly bound, but Ship had also been locked in a small cage with a warning sign for shocks on it. "This your new digs?" Ben saw that he'd been taken to the steel mill that had been about to open back when Dr. Animo tried to devolve chickens to their wilder selves.

"Our new digs, you mean," Elena's voice rang out, whereupon Ben saw that Elena still hadn't changed from her Nanochip form. "So Albedo, you said that once you got them, we'd be ready to form my new body, correct?"

"Your new body?" Ben asked before it clicked. "You're just the queen, so that means Elena's been innocent the whole time!"

At this, Albedo gave a few sarcastic claps. "And you continue to prove how slow on the uptake you are, Tennyson, and why I deserve the Omnitrix!"

"Uggh...everything hurts so much," Julie groaned as she awoke.

"Julie! Are you okay?" Ben asked in concern.

"I'm...I'm fine. I'm just a bit sore and groggy right now," Julie assured her boyfriend. "But I want to know what they want with the both of us. Surely a genius doesn't mind enlightening us, right?"

"Of course!" Albedo smirked, having Ship locked inside a small dog carrier. "I know you're playing me, but you're right. Why shouldn't I give you the benefit to know how much of a genius I really am? When I freed the queen from Elena's body, I also promised her a new body of her own, one with the exact compatability of Ben with the Omnitrix, so she could test her chips on more species!"

"Yes! And now thanks to you, I'll finally have a body all to myself! No more Elena to hold me back!" The Queen declared as she began laughing.

"Oh, don't count on it just yet!" Max's voice rang as he proceeded to blast the Nanite Queen in the face.

"What the?!" The Queen could only reply in shock. "This is my time, and you dare interrupt?!"

"My apologies, your Majesty, but you are a queen I refuse to bow before!" Lucario declared as he sent an Aura Sphere hurtling at the duo. Albedo was quick to change, turning into a complementary version of Chromastone. His main body was red, while the normally magenta parts were instead a stark white, and the Ultimatrix symbol was red.

"Go on! Let me see how well you do against me!" Negative Chromastone declared as he absorbed the Aura Sphere.

"Gladly!" Elena retorted as she took her tonfas and went to work on the corrupt Crystalsapien. "Lucario, you get Ben and Julie free! Max, you want to back at the Queen who got you once before?"

"I'm ready to stomp this bug!" Max agreed as he readied more blaster shots for the Nanite Queen.

"As you wish!" Lucario acknowledged as he leapt to Ben, using his wrists to slice the chains apart. Broken links flew around as Ben fell to the vat before Lucario used ExtremeSpeed to catch him and gently put him on the ground, with the Omnitrix wielder coughing as he regained his bearings. "Are you alright?"

"I'm..I'm fine," Ben grunted, streching himself. "But they've done it now, and I think there's someone who's been itching for a bit of payback!" In Ben's place was a nine foot tall humanoid tiger, with one black claw coming out of each wrist and no tail. He was also muscular and had green eyes and black stripes on his shoulders, head, legs, and upper body as well as a white jaw, neck, chest, stomach, hands, and feet. His only attire was a pair of shorts with the Omnitrix on his belt buckle.

"RATH!" The alien roared out in a deep voice. "Let me tell you something, Albedo! You may have gotten away before, but now you've bitten off more than your stomach can chew!"


Codon Stream Entry: Rath

Species: Appoplexian

Home World: Appoplexia

Appoplexia is not a friendly world to visit for the average alien. Full of savage beasts and low in resources, Appoplexia is a breeding ground for anger and rage, something its denizens are far from afraid to use in combat. The tiger-like Appoplexians are very much about emotional openness, though unfortunately for most others, their primary emotion is blinding anger. Apploplexians are natural-borne warriors, able to duel with stronger races like Tetramands and Vaxasaurians through their powerful combination of strength and agility, as was the single claw on their wrist which can lengthen as they get angrier. Their rage is so high that some have even reportedly died from getting so angry their bodies couldn't handle it, and they, thus, usually find work as hired guns or bodyguards.


"Oh please, I've hardly even begun, you simpleton!" Negative Chromastone declared as he began to fire back at the Appoplexian. This proved problematic, as Elena had the opportunity to whack him in the back of his left shin, and leaving painful vibrations to reverberate. Seeing this, Rath took the opportunity to begin grappling with the corrupt Crystalsapien.

"Let me tell you something, Elena Validus! Rath appreciates the assist, but right now focus on getting back at the Queen! Rath's the best against Albedo, and he attacked Rath's girl! SO RATH IS ANGRY!" Rath ordered Elena as he proceeded to continue wailing on Albedo. In the meanwhile, Lucario had taken the chance to break Ship out, and Ship, reflexively, wrapped around Lucario's chest into a jetpack, leaving the Aura Pokémon screaming in utter befuddlement as they rocketed to Ship's owner.

"With pleasure!" Elena smiled at the chance to wail on the Queen who ruined her life.

"SHIP! SIT! HEEL! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO FLY WHAT YOU'VE BECOME!" Lucario pointed out to Ship as he hurtled beyond his control. He'd had experience seeing other Pokémon fly like Pidgeot and Staraptor, but he was not at all meant to fly like this!

"SHIP! SHIP!" Ship protested as he continued flying to Julie, and then Lucario saw what his plan had been. Unsheathing his claws again, he quickly sliced the chains before catching Julie as she fell. "SHIP! SHIP!"

"Thanks, you two." Julie gave a soft smile. Seeing Rath and Negative Chromastone continuing their struggle, with Negative Chromastone blasting Rath back, who proceeded to growl in frustrated fury. "Hey Lucario, I'm guessing you wanted an opportunity to really spar against Ben, didn't you?"

Smiling, Lucario got her meaning. "Happily! And I've got a little something for the both of them! But you may want to get our allies to cover their ears for this." Hearing this, Ship quickly wrapped around Julie. "When I nod my head, let them know." Seeing the thumbs up, Lucario waited for the chance, seeing Julie enter the fray with Ben as Ship formed armor around her once again, blasting missiles at Albedo. At the same time, Max and Elena gave more than a good fight against the Queen. Even with her powers, Elena's skill and Max's experience proved to be a major hurdle, as despite forming constructs of herself to confuse them, the two were able to break them into inert Nanochips.

"You are not winning this fight, Tennyson!" Negative Chromastone boasted. "I can promise that!"

"Let me tell you something, Albedo!" Rath began. "Rath doesn't care for promises made by copycats! Because you can't handle the awesomeness of Rath!"

"Brutish and bullheaded. This form truly suits you!" Albedo clicked his non-existent tongue.

"Thank you! Rath likes being Rath!" Rath only gave a wry smile at this as he grabbed Negative Chromastone in an armbar. Seeing this, Julie quickly gave Negative Chromastone a punch in the gut, leaving him wincing in pain after Rath let him go. At this, and seeing how the Nanite Queen was struggling, Lucario saw his chance, and nodded. Ship caught wind of this when he looked behind him.

"SHIP!" The Galvanic Mechamorph chirped as he made Julie's head nod. Realizing what he meant, Julie quickly grabbed Rath and went behind Lucario.

"Elena! Max! Get to us now!" Hearing Julie's instruction, the two obeyed, albeit rather confused why.

"METAL SOUND!" At this, Lucario's wrist claws glowed a bright white, and he proceeded to click them together like a tuning fork. At this, a horrible screeching sound rang out, like metal scraping against metal. While Julie had whispered what was going on to the others, Negative Chromastone and the Nanochip Queen weren't so lucky. The horrible sound assaulted their eardrums, ringing and making their bodies vibrate in an uncomfortable manner.

"What is that racket?!" Negative Chromastone complained as he tried to handle the noise.

For the Nanite Queen, though, things were quite a bit worse. Her body seemed to partially fragment, and it soon seemed as if she had holes and gouges in her body. "What's happening to me?! My body is falling apart!"

"Quite literally, too," Elena could only point out in utter shock.

"What am I doing? Seems even my genius fails me at times!" Albedo realized as switched from Negative Chromastone to Negative Echo Echo, which was a black and red eyed version of Ben's Sonorosian transformation. Lucario remembered how Sonorosians had immunity to sound-based attacks from Ben's fight against Rillaboom, and stopped using Metal Sound.

"Ben, maybe you should do the same," Julie advised, though quickly added, "But not because I told you so!"

"Right! Not because you told me so! It's all my decision!" Rath dumbly agreed before turning into Echo Echo himself.

"I don't know what you did, you freak!" The Queen spat out in thinkly-veiled fury as she glared at Lucario. "But you're going to pay for that!" At this, she charged at Lucario while forming her right arm into a scimitar, only to get whacked in the head by Elena's tonfa.

"LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Elena declared. "Any friend of Ben is a friend of mine, no matter what they are!"

"That's enough, my lady. Allow me to handle them!" Negative Echo Echo declared as he transformed, but not until another alien species. In his place stood a twisted take on Ultimate Echo Echo. His body was a much darker shade of blue, and his back had red, glowing wires connecting to his elbows. The spikes that represented an Ultimate form were also longer, wrapping around his torso. "And I know one thing! Ben cannot use Ultimate Forms!" At this, Sonic Disks that resembled his head flew off his shoulders and hands, flying straight towards the heroic quintet, all of which quickly dodged out the way as the Sonic Disks returned to his body. Echo Echo quickly began working to fight against Negative Ultimate Echo Echo, duplicating into eight clones to attack him. "And I've got some more tricks!" Negative Ultimate Echo Echo declared. Holding his palms together, he quickly formed a sphere of concentrated sound and lobbed it at two of them. At once, the ball detonated into a massive sonic explosion, leaving everyone's ears ringing again, except for both Sonorosians.

"Well, it seems I'll deal with you first!" The Nanite Queen announced her intentions as she formed yet another set of weapons, turning her right arm into a flail and her left arm into a shotgun, forming yet another jetpack.

"Bring it on, your majesty!" Julie agreed as she flew towards her along with Elena. Max and Lucario continued laying on cover fire, all the while the two Sonorosians clashed. Julie and Elena began to thrash the Queen badly, with Julie deciding to use a new trick she and Ship had been working on.

"Ship? I think it's time we used what we've been working on!" Julie instructed. "Blade Mode! GO!"

"SHIP! SHIP!" Ship chirped in agreement. Soon, Julie's armor began to reform itself into a slimmer, but sharper form. Quite literally. She had lost a few inches, but blades literred her body: curved blades grew out of her forearms pointing behind her, another set grew out of her shins, and two grips grew out of her shoulders. Pulling the grip out of her right shoulder, it revealed itself to have a green sword, and Julie proceeded to slice the flail's chain, leaving it to harmlessly dissipate into Nanochips yet again.

"You honestly think you can stop me?" The Queen asked arrogantly as returned her right hand to normal, before blasting Julie with the shotgun. Her focus on Julie and Elena, however, leading to her getting blindsided by an Aura Sphere from Lucario, leaving her vulnerable to a combo from Elena, who proceeded to break her jetpack apart. "I am the queen! All of you will be punished!"

"Anyone who must say they are the king or queen is neither of those in my book!" Max declared as he continued blasting the Nanochip Queen. Growling, the Queen quickly formed a shield to protect herself. "You're going down, and this time, you'll stay in your box for good!"

"Agreed!" Julie concurred as she sliced through another set of doubles with her swords.

"I'm down for that after she wrecked my life!" Elena agreed as she charged at the Queen and proceeded to bash her in the face with her tonfas.

"I'd love to stay with all of you, but you know what they say! She who runs away lives to fight another day! I'll get back at all of you, all thanks to Albedo!" At this, the Queen laughed as she formed a jetpack yet again and decided to fly out.

Unbeknowst to the Queen, things had changed between the two Omnitrix/Ultimatrix users. Negative Ultimate Echo Echo continued to be a pest to Echo Echo. While they had the advantage of numbers, his Sonic Disks and sonic bombs had proved incredibly powerful.

"It's a shame you can't go Ultimate yourself! Perhaps then you would have had a chance against me!" Negative Ultimate Echo Echo cackled.

"How funny," Echo Echo smirked. "That's just what I was thinking!" At this, he hit the Omnitrix, and went Ultimate himself.

"Oh yeah! Now what do you think?" Ultimate Echo Echo said to Negative Ultimate Echo Echo, whose eyes widened greatly.

"WHAT THE?!" The transforming Galvan said in utter shock. "You've been able to turn Ultimate this whole time?!"

"Not until recently, but yes!" At this, Ultimate Echo Echo fired powerful sound blasts from his hands, and his negative counterpart quickly formed a sonic bubble around him, nullifying the sounds.

"This...this can't be!" Albedo continuing muttering in shock. "But you still can't do this!" At this, he formed another concentrated sonic grenade and lobbed at Ultimate Echo Echo, who swiftly dodged it by flying up.

"No. But can you do this?" Ultimate Echo Echo then proceeded to send the two Sonic Disks on his shoulders into the ceiling, and implanted them into it. At the snap of his fingers, it became clear that the two speakers were making the roof rumble and shake. Cracks began to form, and pieces of the roof began to fall onto Negative Ultimate Echo Echo. Seeing how bad things were getting, he quickly summoned more Sonic Disks, and proceeded to blast the pieces everywhere. Unfortunately for the Nanite Queen, one of the pieces of rubble, still big and hurtling quickly thanks to the Sonic Disk's power, proceeded to hit his where her jetpack was, and she was sent hurtling into a vat of molten steel.

"What?! Albedo, help me!" The Queen cried out, as her body began to melt away and fall apart from the heat. Albedo looked at the situation: Ben had Ultimate Forms again and a new ally he knew almost nothing about, and all three of his allies were clearly furious at him. Seeing no other option, and remembering how the Queen tried to flee herself, he made his choice.

"Like you said. He who runs away lives to fight another day!" Negative Ultimate Echo Echo repeated her own words, much to her utter shock. As he began to fly out, he looked at the heroes with veiled anger at his plans being ruined. "This isn't over Tennyson! I will have my revenge on you one way or another soon enough!" With that, he flew away, creating a powerful sonic boom that tore apart the rest of roof.

"Ben! Help me! Please!" The Queen begged.

At this, Ben felt himself reflexive going towards her. "Ben! What are you doing? She does not deserve your compassion! She controlled innocent people including your grandfather, tried to get rid of Julie all for you, attempted to smother you when you rejected her after she left your cousin injured in an elevator, and tried to frame your friend for her crimes!" Lucario pointed out.

"Even so, I want to make her undergo actual justice to clear Elena's name," Ultimate Echo Echo answered. At this, Ultimate Echo Echo flew up to the edge of the vat, and held his hand out. "Come on! Let's get you out of that. Perhaps you can find a place for yourself once your time in prison passes."

"A place for myself?" The Nanite Queen seemed to deliberate on the idea, but she soon had a sadistic smirk as she took Ultimate Echo Echo's hand and proceeded to send an electric shock into him. "I know what place I want! Down at the bottom of this vat with you! I'll make you pay for ruining my plans and rejecting me, Tennyson! NOW JOIN ME!"

"NO!" At tihs, Julie quickly sheathed her swords and took out the blade on her right arm. Ship quickly took control and morphed it into a sharp boomerang, one that quickly flew to Ultimate Echo Echo's location and proceeded to slice the arm that held the evolved Sonorosian before returning to Julie.

"NO! NO! I'M MELTING! MELTING!" The Nanite Queen sputtered as her body fell apart and melted into the molten steel. All they had over the bubbling steel was her staticky screams as she melted into oblivion, ending her threat once and for all. That being said, Ultimate Echo Echo, having turned back to Ben, was still in danger, woozy from the electric shock the Queen gave him, and fell off the vat's edge to the floor. Immediately, Julie sprang out of place, and turned to normal, racing to catch her boyfriend. As he fell, Julie jumped up and caught him bridal style.

"Julie! saved me!" Ben said, slowly releasing from his woozy state.

"Of course I saved you! You're my Ben," Julie softly said.

"And you're my girl!" Ben replied in appreciation, cuddling into her armored body, while Max, Elena, and Lucario looked at the scene, happy to see all end well.

"Phew! After all that fighting, I'm pooped out!" Ben yawned out. "Hey Elena? Sorry I didn't believe you."

"Don't worry about it!" Elena stated. "You weren't wrong at all to be suspicious, and I definitely should've said the truth, no matter how ugly it got."

"Agreed," Max stated. "But on the plus side, I don't think we'll need to worry about the Queen anymore."

"Yeah. But I think I'm going to bed right now. It's been a long few days," Ben figured as he yawned again.

"Come on, I'll fly you back," Julie offered, as she had Ship turn into his blocky spaceship form. "You've flown me a lot of place, so it's my turn now!"

"SHIP!" Ship rumbled in agreement, with the remaining trio watching the couple fly home

As the two flew off, Elena smiled, something that did make Lucario curious. "Do you...still have feelings for Ben?"

"Well, yeah," Elena admitted as she frowned. That frown, however, gave way to a smile. "But I'm not a jealous gal. If Julie makes him happy, then I'm happy."

"A wise outlook." Lucario smiled as he nodded to Elena's views. Ben and Julie were most certainly a strong couple: both in strength and love. "But what do we do now?"

"What do you mean?" Elena asked.

"We know you still have to have Plumber agents watching you," Max explained, before giving a wry smile. "But I don't think we need to worry about you turning against us! Maybe we can get you your own place in Plumber Academy!"

"Really? But my Nanochip research-," Elena replied before Max interrupted.

"Will be fully funded by the Plumber Research Division. You and your father were the authority on Nanochips, and who knows?" Max revealed. "Maybe your dreams of using the Nanochips for good could be realized one day! Besides, it would cover the order for Plumbers watching over you, and help knock some more years off your probationary period!"

"I...I don't know what to say," Elena truthfully responded as tears pooled in her eyes. "My research...may actually bear fruit?"

"I saw what those chips did in the wrong hands," Lucario stated. "And there is no reason to assume that they could not be used constructively like you say."

At this, Elena proceeded to embrace Max in a tight hug. "THANK YOU! Thank you so much!"

"No problem, kiddo," Max said as he returned the hug. "I'm sure Victor's looking at us happily. And I know he'll be proud of what you'll become." Elena cried hearing her father's name, but her smile remained.

Lucario was most certainly happy to see things work out. But something niggled at him. He worriedly thought to himself, 'I hope I'm wrong, but I get the feeling that we'l be seeing more from the Null Void very soon. Hopefully, nothing too dangerous is coming.'

Voice Cast:

Julie Yamamoto - Vyvan Pham

Ben Tennyson - Yuri Lowenthal

Ship - Vyvan Pham

Magister Patelliday - Rob Paulsen

Lucario - Sean Schemmel

Max Tennyson - Paul Eiding

Robucket - Macintalk (Fred)

Judge Domstol - John DiMaggio

Chadzmuth - Rob Paulsen

Elena Validus - Tia Texada

Sandra Tennyson - Beth Littleford

Nanochip Queen - Tia Texada

Heatblast - Steve Blum

Negative Swampfire - Dee Bradley Baker

Albedo - Yuri Lowenthal

Feedback - Yuri Lowenthal

Armodrillo - Dee Bradley Baker

Frankenstrike - David Kaye

Negative XLR8 - Josh Keaton

Negative Oculus - Paul Eiding

Negative Armodrillo - Dee Bradley Baker

Negative Feedback - Yuri Lowenthal

Negative Chromastone - Dee Bradley Baker

Rath - John DiMaggio

Negative Echo Echo - Dee Bradley Baker

Echo Echo - Dee Bradley Baker

Negative Ultimate Echo Echo - Dee Bradley Baker

Ultimate Echo Echo - Dee Bradley Baker

Author's Note:

Alright, part 1 of the first arc is complete. Being this is the first arc, consider this to be a prelude for what to expect in these. Normal chapters will feature a mostly episodic structure, with some chapters linking more towards one another. Arc chapters, though, will be far more focused on a specific subset of opponents or even just one tricky one, and have more direct ties to one another and later episodic chapters to clean up some of the remaining issues.

You may have noticed that Ben doesn't hold a high opinion of Chadzmuth, even though the guy saved his butt in intergalactic court. Actually, he didn't in this timeline. Since So Long And Thanks For The Smoothies never happened in this timeline, Ben never got charged by the Celestialsapiens. While also keeping the designs closer to my preferred UAF style, I also wanted to keep Alien X as something that fit more as a final form; one that would be improved near the finale of the story. Otherwise, Alien X would be a "total win" for any enemy, and take away any stakes if Ben ever used it. So don't expect any use of him any time soon.

As for Julie, that was something I do want to do, and yes, it was inspired by Ben 10: Guardians, and I give full credit to the idea of Julie making more specialized armors to Shadow-DJ. Julie should be a bit stronger now that this is further down the timeline, and I felt that giving her the ability to adapt to situations would be a useful power-up, especially in changing her arsenal from just lasers and missiles to other weapons, and more of these forms will be shown later down the line.

Also, I do want to confirm that Albedo is at large in this timeline, and also in his teenage form. I feel like Omniverse did him really dirty, and him being Ben's evil doppelgänger is something that should be worked with more. That's why I had him help Elena with her Nanochip problem, and as part of a plan for him to get his own arc. Plus, Elena had a far different fate: my original plan was for her to be completely absorbed by the Nanite Queen, and while the Queen suffered the same fate she had here, Elena died with her. I have plans for his own arc, so consider this a prelude for what's to come. And don't worry: Blukic and Driba will play no role this time. I promise! :)

Next Time: Null Void Nuisances Part 2: Rooting Out Evil

On edge after the reveal of the Nanite Queen being freed from Elena with the help of Albedo, Lucario wonders if this was a sign of worse to come, and if more criminals in the Null Void could be attempting to make their move. However, a distress call from the Null Void sends him, Kevin, and Ben into a sticky situation when it turns out the Rooters have sought to take the Omnitrix from Ben once again, infuriated at how he's only become more powerful with the addition of the Ultimate Forms. With elite Plumbers on their tail, Ben must find a way to stop them from using the Omnitrix themselves.