This chapter has been proofread, btw. Yes, it can happen.
Still, it's my longest one shot *ever*, so that's something. Hope you like it!
Whisper contemplated that task before her with a certain level of trepidation. It was a task she had contemplated before (if fact, she was sure only the most thrill seeking never did), and she was sure it would be one that she would the next time she exited the City Bus.
She hadn't figured out a good way to get *down* from the City Bus. Getting up was easy. A smaller platform launched you safely and, for the most part gently, onto a much larger one high above the town. It was the getting down that had never been ironed out. The fall wouldn't kill you, but it had never been very pleasant either. The last time she had nearly broken a leg and she was sure one or two kids actually had in the past.
Beside her, a particularly squeamish kid was peering over the edge. His hands gripped the edges in a white-knuckled grip that was going to become very painful, very soon. He was staring down at the ground below them looking like he was suddenly regretting this venture onto the City Bus.
Whisper shook her head, even though she completely sympathized with him. She'd nearly done the same thing herself the first time she was up here.
Peering down below, she took note of the hill. The hill wasn't large in any sense but it drastically reduced the fall. Calculating the distance, she estimated it turned the plummet into a mere five feet. Much better odds than a normal drop. Pointing at the hill, Whisper commented to the kid, "If you jump onto the hill, it'll be much safer."
The kid looked up at her, his face almost shiny with sweat. He was pale, and his expression told her that if she thought he was going to jump, she was out of her mind. Whisper shook her head again, before bracing herself and taking the jump.
The drop was like jumping off a roof. It always looked worse than it was. Whisper relaxed her knees as she landed, touching the ground lightly with a single hand for balance as she did so. Nano Buttercup cheered excitedly, as if she had made the jump herself. Nano Eddy looked worried, as if he had thought she would have been seriously hurt, and hovered near her until he realized she was fine, upon which point he floated off, rubbing his hands together in a sneaky manner. She didn't doubt she would have to break up another fight between him and Nano Buttercup soon.
Checking the area for any nearby Fusions, which wouldn't have paid much attention to her anyway thanks to Nano Dexter, she set off down the hill and onto the street that would lead straight into Sector V. Not even two steps into the journey, she felt what was becoming the familiar weight of Nano Dexter settling on his seemingly favorite perch on top of her head.
For all the pride and joy she had for the little guy, she had quickly come to the conclusion he was a fairly lazy sort of Nano. She wasn't sure if it was because of his programming to stay close to her when she'd chosen his sneak function instead of an attack function, or if he was just a lazy Nano. She didn't mind either way. She enjoyed keeping all her little friends near, even when they didn't want her too.
It was such a case just then, as Whisper reached out and took hold of Nano Buttercup. Nano Dexter made them less noticeable, something that would be ruined if Nano Buttercup attacked the first thing she saw. The white-grey haired girl didn't blame her Nano, it was really all her fault. The Nano would just be doing what she was programmed to do. Still, Whisper didn't want to do any more fighting if she could help it, so she hugged the Nano close even as Nano Buttercup whined and protested.
Whisper was very near the entrance to Pokey Oaks North when her Nanocom when off. She stared at it, actually pausing in the middle of the street and nearly causing a car to hit her. Oblivious to the honking of the departing car, she studied the com. It shouldn't be working at all, not even Dexter had gotten it to work when they had needed it to send a SOS. How on earth was it receiving mail now?
Activating it, a hologram of Blossom appeared. The super-powered girl hovered in place over the Nanocom in a similar manner to how she hovered over the ground in person. "Hello, Whisper. I have an urgent mission for you. The power plant in Endsville is starting to spike. It could blow if someone doesn't look at it. There's no one out there that knows how to defuse it. Please hurry." The message came to an end and the holo-Blossom vanished.
It was in that moment that Whisper realized that her hour had barely allowed her time to deal with what she had seen the last time she'd been in Endsville. She didn't think she was anywhere near ready to go back in. To make matters worse, the entrance was through the safe point.
A safe point that was no longer safe anymore.
She entertained the idea of making the final 30 minute walk back to Sector V and telling them she just couldn't do it. It would make her feel better, right up until guilt set in that she was sending someone else to do her job for her. It would also take longer for her to go on, tell someone she couldn't do it, why she couldn't do it, and then for them to send someone else.
No, the only solution was to go back. She didn't like it, but she couldn't very well run the risk of the plant exploding just because she thought she couldn't handle this. Sighing, she turned back around and started the journey back to the City Bus.
A short time later, she landed with what was becoming practiced ease on the platform. She glanced to her side, and did a double take as she spotted the kid from before. He was still clinging to the side of the platform, white as a sheet. She gave him a funny look. He didn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Frankly, she was surprised he hadn't wet himself or the like. He certainly looked ready to do so.
If he was still here when she got back, she would have to be sure to send someone to rescue him. She doubted he was getting down any other way.
Using a second platform similar to the launch one below, she landed on what served as the City Bus. It wasn't really a 'bus', per se, more a rounded, partially closed off platform that coasted across a monorail that went across ten different towns. It was nifty for a number of things ranging from cutting travel time in half and also for protecting kids from the grounded Fusions below. Whisper was rather fond of the latter use. Anything to keep her out of battle made her happy.
It wasn't until the Bus was long out of ear shot that she remembered something potentially vital. There was a lift on the other side of the City Bus entrance in Genius Grove. It wouldn't do anyone much good on the side she was currently on, but if the person was patient, they could just get down on the other side. She felt a moment of regret that she hadn't remembered it earlier. It would have saved the kid so much more time than it could potentially take for her to get to the Power Plant and back.
There was nothing she could do now about it, so she set it aside. Instead, she turned her mind to the task ahead. She didn't like the idea of passing through the lost safe point. She could still smell the smoke and she knew she would most likely have nightmares as her subconscious imagined images of the battle to explain what had caused those scorch marks. Not to mention she was still a little on edge from the sight of the sheer mass of Fusions that had gathered to kill one person.
It was very little consolation that if she was careful they wouldn't notice her. It was an almost irony, that wasn't lost on her, that while being with Dexter had made her a prime target, being with Nano Dexter was going to make her less noticeable to the Fusions. She snorted softly, the sound devoid of any real amusement. She was just glad they had escaped. It was a shame she had to go back in so soon.
The sounds of a fight drew her attention away from her thoughts, and she peered down below her. The bus was passing through - she glanced at the directory to be sure - Eternal Vistas. It wasn't uncommon to hear fights coming from the town. The town was one of the best places to face Fusions, yet still be in running distance of the safe haven of Genius Grove.
What she wasn't expecting, was for, as she came closer and closer to the sounds of battle, for her Nanocom to start beeping. She held it up, blinking at it in confusion. It took her a moment to register that the radar, the only thing still working - or so she thought, email withstanding - besides basic life support for the Nanos, was registering a signal. And not just any signal.
It was the signal from a Nanocom.
She stared at it, as if that couldn't be right. There were no working Nanocoms in the past, just a few betas- ...Ah. The Nanocom was telling her it was registering a familiar signal from a nearby registered Beta Nanocom. And since there was only one person that could be...
She ran to the other side of the Bus, and peered down below. Sure enough, not far off the road was a familiar shock of red hair. She could just make out the green of a jacket and black of a pair of black pants similar to a pair she'd owned once. A smile - the first one since she'd left City Station almost an hour ago - brightening her face, Whisper said to herself, "Crysania."
As if she could hear her name (it was most likely her Com doing what Whisper's was), Crysania looked up at her with unerring accuracy, something that always amazed Whisper, since the red head always wore a blindfold. She could never understand *why* the other girl wore it, but somehow, Crysania could 'see' just perfect with it.
Whisper gave a wave she wasn't sure would be seen, before her mouth dropped open in horror. Crysania, her head turned towards Whisper, couldn't see the Spooka Boo rearing to take advantage of her distraction. She was about to call to her, to try and warn her somehow.
She needn't have bothered worrying. In the same way Crysania had known Whisper was passing by, she seemed to know about the Fusion behind her. Without even looking, she pointed her weapon, a Custard Buster, and fired. The aim was true, and with a cry Whisper couldn't hear from this distance, the Spooka Boo dissipated into goo.
Whisper raised an eyebrow, impressed despite herself. Crysania never ceased to amaze her.
Below, Crysania made a come-hither gesture that made Whisper's other brow go up. Crysania had to know she was on the City Bus. To jump off a moving vehicle from this distance could cause serious harm! Glancing down below, vertigo decided to pipe up, reminding her pointedly of just how high up she was.
Still, the thought of the red haired girl down there by herself... She glanced down the way still yet to come. Endsville, and through such the Power Plant, was only another ten minutes away. Walking would not add all that much, maybe double it as most, time on. It wouldn't be too terrible a thing to do. She swallowed hard and prayed this wouldn't kill her.
Before she could talk herself out of it, she jumped.
The drop was only slightly longer than the last one. It still stung as she landed, she was going to be sore in the morning, but she didn't break anything. Someone seriously needed to see to making it easier to get down from those things, though.
"Whisper! Hey, Whisper!"
Whisper looked up in time to see Crysania lunging for her. She braced herself as the hug nearly sent both of them tumbling to the ground and had Nano Dexter scrambling to keep his perch. She winced as the effort pulled on her hair. She really needed to get a head band or something for him to hold onto if this was going to keep happening a lot in the future.
"I can't believe it! It's really you!" She pulled back and, when she didn't turn away, Whisper guessed she was studying her. "I thought you were ignoring me!"
It wasn't entirely untrue. Sure, missions kept her busy, but she did have time off on occation that she could have visited the other girl. Crysania was just... very engaging (especially in battle), and expected everyone to be the same whenever they were with her. Since Whisper liked to avoid battles if she could, it tended to lead to avoiding Crysania.
Reaching up, Whisper pulled the blindfold up, turning it into a head band. Crysania blinked and squinted in the sudden light, and the white haired girl wondered how long the other girl had kept it on that day. "I wasn't avoiding you. Blossom just... has a way of making you forget the time."
Crysania snorted. "Understatement. She's a task driver if you ask me." She narrowed her eyes at Whisper. "So, what brings you out-" So suddenly did she stop and gasp, that for a moment the white haired girl was certain they were about to be attacked. Instead, she was caught off guard as Crysania nearly took her down reaching for her head.
"What on Earth-?!" It clicked as she broke off. Nano Dexter was - or had been, he certainly was not anymore, and her scalp was feeling the struggle he'd kept to keep being - on her head. Nano Dexter was in plain sight of Crysania, who was very much infactuated with Dexter.
The poor Nano didn't stand a chance.
Crysania squealed in delight as she studied the Nano. "He's-! He's-! He's a miniature Dexter!" She glared at Whisper suspiciously. "Where did you get a miniature Dexter?"
Whisper wondered a little what the red head would have done if she had known that not only had she seen Dexter almost an hour ago, but she had been his temporary body guard. Deciding to stay clear of that particular land mine, she simply said, "I used the Nanocom on Fusion Dexter."
Crysania paused to mull this over. As an owner of one of the few Beta Nanocoms, Crysania had faced a Fusion in a test to see if she could handle the system. Evidence of this hovered behind her in the form of a Nano Eddyuardo, someone that she had to bite her tongue every time she saw to keep from saying Fusion Eduardo would return sometime in the future, her own evidence back at the Nanostation. "There's a Fusion Dexter?" She mulled, gripping the little Nano Dexter's hands as she did so.
"Was," Whisper corrected, fighting the urge to reclaim her stolen Nano. She feared that if she didn't soon, Crysania might not be willing to give him back.
Crysania pouted. Whisper wasn't sure if it was from Nano Dexter's attempts to escape or from the prospect of missing out on a chance at getting a tiny Dexter of her own. Whisper felt compelled to say, "This is hardly the first Fusion Dexter that's been created. I doubt they won't try again. You'll, ah, get another chance?"
Crysania nodded, seemingly placated with this, although Whisper noted she still hadn't released the captive Nano. The idea brightening her spirits considerably, Crysania asked, "So, what brings you out here? Kind of a crowed place for someone like you."
Whisper watched Nano Buttercup hover uncertainly in the space between her and Crysania. She looked like she wanted to rescue her fellow Nano, but she remembered this person all too well, and knew she was no match for her. Nano Eddy wasn't even trying to pretend he wasn't terrified of Crysania and was hiding behind Whisper's back.
She shook her head at them, before explaining. "I'm headed out to the Power Plant. Blossom wants someone to look at it."
Crysania tilted her head to the side. Nano Eddyuardo had moved to hover near Nano Dexter, curious about the new addition. She pulled a face. "Technical stuff. You know too much."
She said it like it was a bad thing. Whisper frowned at the intended insult. She knew a little about this and that, her job being to run missions required that she knew everything from how to replace a damaged circuit on the City Bus monorail (something Numbuh Two had her do her second day back. She'd nearly fallen off when the City Bus came back on line and nearly collided with her) to simply knowing how to talk people into giving back stolen candy stashes. She smirked as an idea came to mind, "It's not all that bad, being smart."
Crysania stuck her tongue out at her at the tease. "Yeah, Yeah. Laugh it up, chuckles." She tucked Nano Dexter under an arm, furthering Whisper's growing fear of losing him. "Well," she said, starting off down the street. "Let's get that Plant looked at."
Whisper felt the blood drain from her face. The idea of going in herself was bad enough, but taking someone with her? The thought was unthinkable! "Wait! You can't go!"
Crysania paused and turned around. "Why not? Think I'm too inexperienced?"
Whisper shook her head in denial. "Crysania, the Power Plant is through Endsville. You can't go into Endsville!"
Crysania studied her, worry clear on her face. "Whisper, what's gotten into you? I know Endsville is dangerous, and a little above my head, but there's always the safe point to rest in."
Whisper's face must have shown her devastation, for Crysania looked a little alarmed. "Cry, the safe point was destroyed. The Fusions took it."
The red head stared at her, her eyes wide. "What? But- But they said they were taking it back! I heard them. When did you hear it fell?"
"I saw it."
Crysania narrowed her eyes, suspicious. She seemed to know there was more to this than she was saying. "What happened?"
Whisper shrugged, her mind struggling not to replay the images. "It was damaged when we got there. There... There were no survivors."
Crysania made a sound in the back of her throat. "Oh, man, that... that sucks."
Whisper nodded, but didn't add anything more.
Crysania was quiet, her free hand running through Nano Dexter's hair in an absent minded motion. Whisper had seen her do it with Eduardo on the odd occasion he let her. Nano Dexter didn't look too thrilled with this, but as he was unwilling (he was looking less and less so as time went on) to hurt Crysania to escape, he simply pouted and dealt with it. Whisper smiled sympathetically at the little guy.
"Well," Crysania said at last, "That settles it. I'm coming with you. Sounds like you need me."
Whisper nearly balked. "Wait, how did you come to that conclusion?" Even if it wasn't entirely untrue, she didn't want to send the girl to what could possibly be her doom.
Crysania pointed to herself. "If the place is crawling with Fusions, you're going to need someone to watch your back. Plus, your little Nano there-" This said while pointing at Nano Eddy, who'd peaked over Whisper's shoulder to peer at Crysania, "-Will keep us good." She was getting excited. Whisper knew how she loved to fight. "Come on, if the plant's so important, you need all the help you can get."
Whisper was still horribly reluctant, but she was beat and Crysania knew she knew she was. With a sigh, Whisper said, "Fine, but you won't get any fights clinging to him." The last part was added as a ploy to get Nano Dexter back.
Crysania was confused. "What?"
Whisper waved a hand in the Nano in question's direction as the began to walk. "Nano Dexter makes people ...less noticeable... to Fusions."
If the plan had been to deter Crysania, it seemed to have backfired spectacularly. The red head turned the idea over in her head, her face growing more and more devious as she did so. Whisper gave her a wary look. "What?"
"Less noticeable?" She sounded like Christmas had just come early. She grinned down at Nano Dexter, green eyes alight with her delight.
Whisper groaned. She should have known. "Yes. Less noticeable." She ran a hand down her face. "You're going to use him to make it easier to attack the Fusions, aren't you?"
"And there's not much hope of getting him back, is there?"
"Even though he's not your Nano?"
"If you stay close, he'll be fine." She turned to Whisper, and grinned devilishly. "Besides, it'll give us so much quality time together."
As usual, Crysania's logic was a more than slightly strange. True, but strange. "We might have to part eventually. I do have to report I'm still alive back at Section V." She considered the other reason she wanted to get back. "Also want to see if he made it back ok..."
Crysania's tone was curious. "Who?"
Whisper braced herself. "Dexter."
The red head's reaction was spectacular. First she froze on the spot, Nano Dexter giving a squeak of alarm as she tightened her hold on him. Next, she lurched forward, spinning Whisper around (somehow not releasing the Nano in the process) and demanded, "What do you mean, 'made it back ok'? What happened to Dexter?"
The white haired girl raised her hands in a gesture of peace. "Nothing! I made sure of that! But I accidentally hit the wrong button, so I wound up in City Station instead of Section V, so I haven't seen him since we parted."
Not missing a beat, Crysania latched onto the information that Whisper was sort of hoping she hadn't. "You saw ...Dexter? For real?"
Whisper nodded. She tired not to smile as she added, just as a little revenge for kidnapping her Nano, "Even talked to him."
Crysania's grip tightened. "You will take me with you when you check in."
Whisper raised an eyebrow. "I doubt he'll still be there. It's been well around an hour. I also doubt he's hanging around waiting for me to get back." She knew she was expendable, even if she didn't want to think about it.
Crysania didn't look all that happy at another failed attempt to see the object of her affection (and obsession), but she had to agree. Dexter was always busy with something and there was no doubt in either of their minds that he had better things to do than worry about an errand girl. Crysania muttered something under her breath, but Whisper couldn't hear the words. She heard the tone and she couldn't help but shake her head.
Crysania was jealous that she saw Dexter more than her. The red head had little to be jealous about. She'd only seen him twice more than the other girl had.
The girls made small talk as they walked, occasionally talking about the war, but mostly about their week. Crysania was unhappy with Blossom's latest orders and would have chosen another guide, if she didn't know that working for Blossom was just a side step from working for Dexter. All the orders came directly from him, in one way or another. She was happy that the latest order meant she got to fight better, stronger Fusions.
Whisper shook her head at that. Crysania's love for fighting was almost as well known as her love for her boss.
As they neared the border, Crysania took hold of her wrist to study her Nanocom. It was smaller, sleeker, and definitely of higher grade material than the one on the red head's wrist. Crysania gave it an envious look, for she - and everyone else - knew that it had gotten her a whole week's worth of attention from the resident super genius just simply for having it. "It's been upgraded," she remarked, turning it over this way and that.
Whisper patiently let her do it, patting Nano Buttercup on the head to assure her she wasn't being hurt in the process and there was no need to defend her. "The memory was getting low, so Dexter upgraded it." Before Crysania could go off on her again, she added, "It was delivered to him in another location and then back to me the next day. I never actually saw him that time."
Crysania gave her a look, but didn't say anything. She released her. As she did so, she said, "You never did tell me where that came from." She glared at Whisper. "Everyone's too hush-hush about it. And it's better than these." She indicated the one she - and about four other people like her - had.
Whisper pursed her lips. She had sworn many oaths of secrecy the day she'd been released from Dexlabs. No talking about the trip to the future. Never mention future Buttercup and certainly never show her Nano version in front of her family. Along with the secrecy about the future, she was also to keep a low profile with the advanced Nanocom. A total of seven people knew it was different from the Betas, and that was it.
She shrugged, a little helpless. "Sorry. Order are orders."
Crysania narrowed her eyes at her. "One day I'll find out the truth about you and that watch. Just you wait."
Whisper didn't doubt her. She knew why Crysania really put up with her. She was a mystery to be solved, and, above all, she was the girl's sure fire chance at eventually getting some time face to face with Dexter.
Whisper rolled her eyes as she thought back to the day they'd first met. It was the last day she'd seen Dexter in person before today. After he'd given her orders and handed the com back, he'd dragged her up in front of four trainees, all wearing what he dubbed 'Beta Nanocoms'. They were still a bit of a work in progress, but it was impressive that he'd gotten them out so quickly. Using her and her com as a tutorial, he had her show them how to use it, how to care for the Nanos, and had her stress the need for Fusion matter to make it work. She was the go-to person if they ever needed help with the features.
Crysania had latched onto her right after the lecture, claiming they were best friends from now on. Her tone had left no room for negotiation. Whisper had always been suspicious the red head had never forgiven her for the attention she'd gotten, even if it was really just because of the Nanocom.
Whisper shook her head, both at Crysania and to clear the memory. "I don't doubt it," she agreed.
The girls noted that they were crossing the town limits into Endsville. If this was anything like last time, they were going to need to be alert for this. Crysania grinned widely, and her fingers looked like they were twitching to let lose. It wasn't until they were nearly a block in that they noticed something odd.
"There's no Fusions," Crysania observed, sound ridiculously mournful of this fact.
Whisper ignored the tone, but agreed with the statement. "They were swarming earlier. I wonder where they all went? They wouldn't have left just because we got away."
A pair of green eyes scrutinized her. Crysania turned the words over, most likely curious over what she had been through. "You and Dexter were out here?"
She frowned, studying the place. "No, I found him. He and Ben were hiding from Fusion Buttercup. Ben told me to get Dexter away..." She trailed off as she realized she didn't have a clue what had happened to the teen. Had he gotten away? Was he even alive? If she looked, would she find his body, devoid of the Omnitrix?
She shuddered. No, she refused to believe he was dead. He was so much stronger than her, and she had made it out alive.
Thoughtfully, she added, "Ben stayed behind to distract Fusion Bubbles. I don't know if he escaped or not. But I got Dexter out. We both got out." She glared at the place, a little of her fear coming out as frustration. "And now, here I am, back again."
Crysania was not one to allow people to wallow in their despair for long. Taking hold of the other girl's hand, she said, a little begrudging, "Ah, why worry about a break? We could all take a break, time-to-time."
Whisper nearly smiled. The red head didn't sound like she wanted to 'take a break, time-to-time.'
The girl's passed through the barrier to the safe point, Whisper bracing herself for the impact of seeing the place again. The smoke was gone, but it only revealed the real damage. Nothing in the safe point, short of a few random things, survived this attack. She mourned for the people who'd died here today. They had all been so young - they were all *kids* - and they hadn't deserved this.
The hand gripping her's trembled, and Whisper looked up, expecting many things. She shouldn't have been surprised to see anger burning in Crysania's eyes at the state of the former safe point. "They're going to pay for this."
Even the easy going Whisper felt a kindle of anger in her heart. Yes, they certainly would.
Trying not to look too hard, they passed through and into the Power Plant. What they saw there froze them on the spot. They had found the missing Fusions. Dozens upon dozens of them, all in one place.
And they were destroying the plant.
Through her shock, Whisper noticed the blare of sirens. How had she missed that sound? There had been nothing on the other side of the barrier! It wasn't supposed to be sound proof, just toxin proof. Whisper breathed out through her teeth, hissing, "That's the alarm."
Crysania looked at her in alarm. She'd seen enough movies to know what that sound meant. "Can you stop it?"
Whisper studied the scene before her. "I might." If she could just get to the main control station - located in the heart of the planet, unfortunately - she might stand of chance. "I need to get in there."
Crysania's early Christmas spirit was back. "I'll be more than happy to cause a distraction."
The white haired girl looked at her in horror. She shook her head. "Oh, no. I left one person behind today, I'm not leaving another."
Crysania's expression was stern, but not unkind. It was similar to the one Ben had given her. Whisper wondered if she had looked like that when she'd told Dexter to leave before her. "You need to get to the controls, right? You'll need more than stealth for that, and I need much more target practice." She waggled her eyebrows. "If you know what I mean."
Whisper nearly froze with indecision. The plant was going to *blow*, but how could she leave two people behind - and all in the same day?
The siren blared over head, a mantra of duty and urgency. She knew what she had to do. Reaching out, she took the hand of Nano Buttercup in one hand and the hand of Nano Eddy in her other. Drawing them close, she said, "You stay with Crysania, ok?"
They shook their heads fervently. Whisper frowned. "None of that. She'll look after you, just like you'll look after her, ok?" Reluctantly, and most likely only because it was her telling them to do so, they agreed. "Stay safe." She glanced at Crysania. "All of you."
Crysania just grinned like she was about to go to heaven. The looks she gave some of the Fusions were downright hungry. "Oh, you know I will."
With one last pat to each head of the two Nanos, Whisper turned to go. Before she could leave, Crysania stopped her, saying, "Hey, you're forgetting something." Whisper turned around, looking down in surprise as something collided with her chest. Half trying to hide himself in her hoodie was Nano Dexter. She raised an eyebrow at Crysania.
Crysania shrugged and simply stated, "Not trying to be subtle today."
Whisper had to laugh at that. No, she certainly wasn't. With another look at Crysania to assure herself that she would be fine, Whisper took off.
Whisper tried to recall the layout of the Power Plant as she ran, trying to be as quiet as she could and praying that Nano Dexter's skills could handle the strain of hiding her from so many Fusions. The control center was hard to get to, and the plant was confusing at best to navigate. If she wasn't mistaken, it was a right after passing the fences, another sharp right around the first building and a left at the other end of the second. It sounded easy, but there was an almost half mile of Fusion infested ground to cover.
Whisper stuck close to the gate, gritting her teeth to keep from panting. She suddenly wished she wasn't wearing her heels - they clacked just loudly enough to make her cringe with every step - but she refused to take them off and go bare foot in here. Who knew where the infected patches were? Her shoes were replaceable, but she wasn't willing to step into a toxic patch with bare feet.
She rounded the first right, nearly bowling into the back of a Doom Boiler. For a long, agonizing moment in which she was sure her heart had stopped, she expected it to turn on her. She could defeat it, but she couldn't afford the *time* to defeat it, and if she were seriously injured taking it down and it attracted others...
She wouldn't stand a chance.
The seconds ticked by. A minute. Two minutes. When several minutes had passed and it didn't turn around, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hugging Nano Dexter close, she whispered, "Thank you," into his ear. He looked pleased, despite the fact he was starting to feel the strain. She reached for a potion from her pack as she edged past the Doom Boiler and handed it to him. He greedily took it, and for a moment, she wondered if Crysania had enough potions for three Nanos.
She checked her com. Dim as it was - it really was going to switch to it's built in Nano-preservation back-up systems soon - she could see that neither of the Nanos had returned. Good, they were still ok.
She was almost there (just a little further, she assured herself), when she heard the first sounds of battle. Explosions she hoped didn't do more damage than good sounded over the blare of the sirens, and every Fusion in the area lifted their heads at it. As they began to lumber past, never taking notice of her or her Nano, she held tighter to the resolve that Crysania and the Nanos would be fine.
Making the last turn, a left, she rounded the corner and spotted the central controls. They were right out in the open - something only a child would do - but they were for the most part utterly untouched. She studied the dials, calling up her mild training in nuclear control. It wasn't much, but what little she did know was that it was overheating. She checked the instruments, and quickly found the problem.
The Fusions had turned the coolant off. Simple, but devastatingly effective.
She checked the dials again. It was still in the yellow - just barely, the alert must have started just recently - but it wouldn't be for long. Locating the coolant switch (it was a little difficult, none of them were labeled, just color coded like the warp controls had been), she slammed her fist down on the button. The dial rose, closer, closer to the red. She held her breath...
And it began to fall.
She couldn't contain it: She leapt up and down, letting out a shout of joy.
In her arms, Nano Dexter let out a cry of alarm. She looked down at him, her good mood refusing her to allow her to accept the look on his face. With bone chilling terror, she realized what it meant. He was too exhausted to shield them any longer. She looked behind her as the shadow fell over them.
They had been noticed.
A Doom Boiler, remaining behind even as all the others had gone to join the fight, towered over her. It's massive fist was already coming down on her, even as she spotted it. Instinctively, she curled around Nano Dexter to protect him from the blow. It wasn't a very smart, or even particularly painless instinct, but it was one that had developed from the unshakeable knowledge that if her Nanos were safe, they would keep her alive.
It was only an after thought that she remembered that Nano Eddy wasn't here to heal her. She could only hope that the Fusion would lose interest in her once she was down. She cringed, expecting what promised to be a very painful blow.
The blow never came.
The massive creature's deep booming scream yanked her head up, and she stared, unable to comprehend why *it* was in pain. The answer came from above. One shadow, no two shadows- no, no, *two dozen* shadows came from above and Whisper looked above her to the sky. What she saw nearly made her cry out in joy again.
Over head flew over two dozen KND members. She even thought she recognized Numbuhs Five and Four in there. Her heart soared as drank in the sight of them. Their own reinforcements had arrived!
A second shot, followed by another bellow from the Doom Boiler drew her attention back to the danger still in front of her. The Fusion was getting annoyed, even as it was wearing down. If it flailed now and hit her - or worse, the controls - this could get disastrous really fast. She drew back as far as she could, while still putting herself between the Fusion and the controls. It didn't even give her a second glance, too preoccupied with the next series of shots.
A fifth and final shot took it out, and the KND responsible for her inadvertent rescue landed several feet away from her. Closer, but not by too much, a stick-figure of a boy, clad in a red cape was placed down by whom Whisper identified to be Blossom herself.
Whisper started at them, recognizing Mandark as her turned to her. "You!" He shouted, and she pointed at herself to be sure she was who he meant. "What do you think you're doing!?"
Too frazzled to be phased by the sharp, rude tone, she simply said, "I was fixing the plant. The Fusions turned the coolant off." She pointed behind her, where the dial was dropping down to more comfortable levels. "I turned it back on."
He glared at her, or rather the Nano in her arms. Squinting at her, a metaphoric light went on in his eyes as he recognized the significance of the device Nano Dexter was not quite hiding on her wrist. He may not have ever seen her face, but he could tell the difference between her Nanocom and the Betas.
Muttering something, as he glared at Nano Dexter, that sounded suspiciously like, 'she found mine first,' he other wise ignored her to get to the controls. She moved out of the way, reaching for another potion as she did. Nano Dexter practically taking it down in one gulp, and looking all the more better with each passing second, Whisper turned to Blossom. She frowned when she saw the way Blossom was looking at her. "What? Do I have Fusion Matter on me?" She looked, just in case, but when she came up empty, she was only further confused.
When Blossom spoke, it was with complete surprise. "We thought you were dead."
Whisper blinked, understanding spreading like wildfire. Ah, that. She shook her head to negate the thought. "My mace hit the City Station button before it hit the warp. I wound up there instead of Section V."
Blossom frowned. "Why didn't you call us? Dexter was worried, so was Ben, when he got back." Despite the disapproval in her voice, she did look relieved.
Whisper flushed. "My com is almost dead. Not even Dexter could make it work." She focused on the rest of Blossom's sentence. "They make it back? Was Ben alright?"
The oldest of the trio of super-powered teen's smiled. "Ben was a little scratched up, but he made it back just fine. Thank you for helping them when you found them."
The white haired girl gave her a blank look. "What else could I do? I was hardly about to abandon them."
Blossom nodded, her disapproval turning to approval. "Indeed." She narrowed her eyes at Whisper, confusion still on her face. "But why are you here? If your com isn't working, how did you know to come here?"
Mandark muttered something technical, and griped about exposed controls. Whisper gave him a glance as she said, "I got your message while I was passing through Pokey Oaks, half an hour ago. Good thing, too. I don't know how much longer the plant would have lasted."
The sounds of battle winding down could just be heard in the distance. Whisper checked her com again, and was surprised to see neither of her Nanos had returned. Crysania must be taking better care of them than she thought.
Whisper noted the odd look Blossom was giving her again. She frowned. "What?"
"I sent that message over an hour ago. It was before I heard about Dexter and Ben. I thought you were still looking for the spies, infact." Blossom explained.
Whisper had set out almost two hours ago on Blossom's mission to find the Spooka's - potential spies on Genius Grove. It must have been around the same time that Ben, Dexter, and their team had set out. While the safe point was taken out, and the Fusions were moving in on Dexter, Whisper had become distracted by a fight between Nano Buttercup and Nano Eddy and over shot Eternal Vistas to land in Endsville instead. As she made her way back, she had stumbled onto Dexter and Ben.
Everyone knew the Power Plant had already had a mild case of the occasional Fusion, but the kids at the safe point had kept it to a minimum. With the guards gone, there was nothing to stop them from attacking.
Thirty minutes later, and three towns over, Whisper's near dead Nanocom finally picked Blossom's message. Wide eyed, she stared at her com. If she had charged it properly, and gotten the message at the time it was sent, would she have still found Ben and Dexter? Would they have still gotten out alive if she had never arrived?
It was too chilling a thought to contemplate.
Stepping back, she allowed the rest of the control group to do their business, all the while trying to stay out of their way. Occasionally she caught Mandark glance at her, his eyes always dropping to her Nano, before he turned back to the controls and started muttering again.
It was some time later, after Blossom had left to secure the area, and Mandark had satisfied himself with the controls and wandered off with a disgusted air she knew was her and Nano Dexter's fault, that Blossom returned. "The area is secure. We'll have to rebuild the safe point and make sure this doesn't happen again." Whisper nodded in agreement. Blossom landed beside her. "It's time we left, for now."
Whisper looked at her in alarm. "I can't leave yet!"
Blossom looked confused. "But there's nothing more you can do here."
The smaller girl shook her head. "No, my friend and my other Nanos - they're still here somewhere! I have to find them." Even as she spoke the words, to tiny missiles collided with her chest. She nearly lost her balance as the two before mentioned Nanos almost knocked her clear off her feet. She nearly shouted with joy to see them. "You're ok!" She hugged them, and Nano Dexter tightly to her. They were all back together.
Nano Buttercup pumped a fist into the air. She looked a little haggard, but no worse the wear, and no less exuberant over their victory. Nano Eddy peered around her arm to make sure she was fine before letting out a tiny cheer of his own. He looked a little better than Nano Buttercup, but Whisper was suspicious that was just because he wasn't a fighting type like her first Nano was.
"Told you we'd be fine."
Whisper looked up, her smile somehow growing wider. "Cry! You're alive! And looking immaculate as usual, I might add. Nano Eddy was good to you."
Crysania was grinning her backside off. She was sweaty, and most likely stank, but she looked like she hadn't been touched. "That is one heck of a useful Nano you've go there." She gave him a look that was only slightly less calculating than the one she had given Nano Dexter earlier. "Makes me sorry I didn't go for him myself."
Whisper was too happy to be disturbed by her 'friend' plotting to steal another of her Nano's. This was a good moment, and she was going to enjoy it.
And she did, right up until Blossom said, "It's time to go to Tech Square, now."
Both girls paused and as one turned to her and said, "What?"
Blossom was unfazed. "I have very strict orders - from Dexter himself - that if I found you-" she focused on Whisper alone on this, "-To send you straight to Tech Square." She studied her for a moment, and her expression didn't change so much as become a little less severe. "Since you have seem to have so much trouble with warps, I'm going to take you there myself."
Whisper could only stare, her mind unable to process what she was hearing. Dexter had sent out order for *her* to go see *him*? She was flabbergasted. Why would he want to see her? If it was just to thank her, he could just send her an email. She'd get it eventually.
Beside her Crysania looked ready to blow a blood vessel. In a strangled voice, she managed, "Straight... to Tech Square... *Dexter's* orders?"
Whisper shook herself and blinked at her. She was never going to live this down. Turning back to Blossom, she insisted, "I can make it on my own. It was really just the warp that made me wind... up in... Tech Square..." She trailed off as she didn't see even a flicker of change in Blossom's expression.
Embarrassed, she shrugged helplessly at Crysania, who was looking more and more like she needed some coolant herself, and she surrendered herself to the Power Puff girl. Blossom easily supported her weight, carrying her bride-style.
Nano Buttercup gave a sort of squeal-ish shout. She struggled to get a better look at the scenery below. It wasn't ever often that the Nanos go to fly on someone else's power.
Her mind must have been exhausted if she was just realizing something that should have been important about this: namely, Nano Buttercup was still out. In front of Blossom. Looking up, she was prepared to apologize, to explain everything - orders or not - but if Blossom was in any way effected by the sight of a Nano version of her sister, it didn't show. Whisper wondered how often she had seen duplicates that even the Nanos didn't phase her.
Below, Tech Square came into view. First the towering buildings, then the town's personal city bus monorail, and then, lastly, the streets below. The Square was bustling with life, whether it was humans or mobile robots.
Every time she saw the town - this living, breathing town that looked *nothing* like the one in the future - it made it just a little easier to sleep at night knowing it hadn't happened. If she could help it, it never would.
Blossom came down at the ground level of Dexlabs. It wasn't the front entrance, but rather a side one marked for personal only. Whisper wondered if this was the right door and if she should point out that the entrance was around the other side of the building. Deciding she was too far out of her element with this whole venture, she pursed her lips and kept silent.
Carefully, Blossom set Whisper down and made sure she wouldn't topple (flying without an airplane was an experience that most definitely would take some getting used to, not that she wanted to try again). Glancing up at something Whisper couldn't see when she looked herself, Blossom said, "They know you're here. Someone will be here to get you soon."
And with that, she was gone. Whisper frowned, all protests dying before they could start, and turned to the door. She stared at it awkwardly, as if she didn't know whether she was supposed to knock or not. The red haired girl had said they knew they were there, but - and she was really looking - she couldn't find any cameras. She wondered if she would need Blossom's special abilities to see them.
Several such awkward minutes passed in deliberation. She was just about to actually *knock* when the door slide open. She blinked when all she saw was empty air.
"Follow me." A mechanical voice ordered. Whisper followed the voice, looking down. It was one of robots that were littered around the towns, a Dexbot. She had talked to a few to get potions for her Nanos and the occasional new outfit. She nodded and followed after it into the building.
It lead her down a series of brightly lit corridors. All the walls were stark and pristine white, almost glowing with and magnifying the light. Whisper resisted the urge to cover her eyes. Nano Buttercup and Nano Eddy were getting more and more excited with each new corridor. She blinked down at them. Did they recognize this place? She hadn't been aware they'd seen the inside of Dexlab's behind-the-scenes areas. Nano Dexter was the least active, taking in the sights while alternately glancing at his fellow Nanos.
After what must have been the tenth hallway (it certainly felt like it), the Dexbot stopped before an elevator. It pressed a button and the doors opened immediately. "Enter."
She peered into the elevator. It was similar to the hallways. White and brightly lit. It did, she noted, have the added feature of a handrail. The silver of the steel looked out of place in a place so devoid of color. "Where does it go?" She had a suspicion she already knew.
She figured. Nodding, she entered. The doors closed behind her as the elevator came alive and she turned back to the door. Beside the doors were a set of controls. They were the most colorful things she'd seen in here, short of the rail. Each button was numbered and some were even color coded. At the bottom as a flat square, but no button to choose it. It was blank.
She squinted at it. Was it the lab? It made sense, that it couldn't be chosen. She wondered where the controls for that floor were, though.
The nameless button flashed, indicating the elevator stopping. The doors slid open soundlessly, opening to what was still the largest room she'd ever seen in her life. She was definitely in Dexter's laboratory.
Crysania was going to kill her when she saw her next.
Wide eyed, she wandered a little uncertainly into the room. The ceiling towered over her and she tried to guess how far underground they were that a room like this was completely hidden. She gave up all to soon. It was just beyond her fourteen-year-old mind to comprehend. Seeing no one, she called out, "Hello?"
There was a clank from somewhere to her left, followed by a slight muffled string of sharp grumbles. Deciding that was her best bet, she followed the sound until a shock of red hair that could only belong to one person came into view. Dexter was bent over a table working on something she couldn't see. She could just barely hear him muttering over something that sounded like it had gone wrong.
Not wanting to startle him, she cleared her throat. The boy whipped around, still holding what appeared like it had once been a wrench. Only a wrench didn't have adjustable features for length and what appeared to be additions for somethings that were currently not attached.
Dexter narrowed his eyes at her. He looked her up and down, as if searching for something - she didn't have a clue what. She didn't know if he found what he was looking for, but she noted that he seemed less... tense, somehow. Wordlessly, he nodded, and then held out his hand.
She blinked at it, expression blank. She couldn't figure out what he was doing. Finally, tentatively, she asked, "Yes?"
He rolled his eyes. "Your Nanocom. I will charge if for you since you do not appear to have done so yourself."
She flushed for a second time, and couldn't look him in the eye as she handed it to him. "I was sidetracked," she muttered, although it somehow sounded like an excuse.
He sniffed, taking the com to a panel on a Nanocom Station. Placing the com in the panel, he pressed button and the com vanished into the machine. The Nanos made a mewling sound of various degrees of protest as it vanished. Softly, Whisper soothed them with a promise she would get it back soon, better than ever. They didn't seem completely convinced, but they stopped attempting to escape to get it back.
"It will be done in an hour." He gave her a pointed glare. "You will stay here until it's done." She tilted her head, confused. Seeing this, he added, "To watch them," this was said pointing at the Nanos. "I will not have them damaging my laboratory again."
They had damaged his laboratory? When had that been?
From the more muddled recesses of her memories of her first days back in the past, an event she had been to out of it to really comprehend suddenly drew her attention. She had awoken the second day, feeling rested (the warmth making it hard to want to wake up), but still a little muddled. She had noted that Dexter was gone, to which Computress had simply said that he was ...preoccupied.
She remembered wondering if that was amusement she'd heard in the mechanical voice. She hadn't noticed her Nanocom and Nanos were missing until some time later. It had never occurred to her that their and Dexter's absence were connected.
She had to cover her face to hide her smile. She needed have bothered, he still noticed and scowled. Eyes narrowing and crossing his arms, he stated, "You did not return."
She stared at him. He had really been worried? Hurriedly, she explained her theory about the mace and the buttons and how she had ended up in City Station. "I took the city bus back to Pokey Oaks when I got Blossom's message."
Dexter nodded, moving back to the table he had been working on. "Yes, you stopped the Power Plant from blowing."
She shouldn't have been surprised he knew this. "They'd turned off the coolant."
He snorted. She was sure he could appreciate the simple, yet effective method, also.
Thinking of the Plant made her think of her Nanos. She released them, pulling Nano Buttercup and Nano Eddy to eye level. She inspected them, and upon seeing they were merely low on energy, she reached into her pack for two potions. They took them happily, chittering as they took them.
Dexter turned back to his work, leaving Whisper to entertain herself. She kept an eye on Nano Buttercup as she floated over to inspect the Station holding the Nanocom. Whisper might have worried that she would get some of the potion on the console as she turned herself upside down (perhaps to try and understand the information on the screen?), but the bottle was empty and could do no harm.
Nano Eddy stayed close, bored and yawning widely to show it. Whisper glanced at him sympathetically, but she didn't know of anything to entertain him. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted Nano Dexter had gone to hover around his human counterpart. The larger red head glanced at him.
How strange was it to see a smaller version of yourself, especially knowing how it came into being? She decided she never wanted to find out.
Looking around the lab, she studied it to see if it was any different. It had been a while since she'd been here, but from what she could see, it didn't really look all that different. Sure, things had come and gone - the giant mecha was new, although not necessary a new feature - but it appeared to have remained the same. It was still very much a geek's heaven.
As the hour passed, she took to alternating between keeping an eye on Nano Buttercup, who had taken to doing poses in front of a camera, to watching the Dexters. Dexter would occasionally point at something out of reach, and, somehow knowing exactly what he needed, Nano Dexter would retrieve the item. Whisper smiled at the display and wondered if the world could handle two geniuses.
Watching them, her mind begun to wander over the day. She didn't want to think about what could have happened if she'd gotten that message on time. It made her wonder, not for the first time, what would happen to her Nanos if anything happened to her. Maybe she should consider asking Crysania if she would care for them. She knew the red head would love being Nano Dexter's owner.
She thought of the Dexter in the future, of his possible fate, and then thought of what could have happened today. She knew she was changing the future - the growing use of Nanocoms was proof of that. In the future, there had just been the one - hers - that worked. There were now five working Nanocoms and more in the workings if the Betas were a success.
But in all the time things were changing, she had always thought it was for the best. Never had it occurred to her some things might get changed for the worst. How many wound up somewhere they didn't before just because she had brought knowledge from the future? How many people had died this time around that didn't die the first time around?
It was too much to think about, so she put the thought into the little imaginary box she put most thoughts she didn't care for in.
So lost in thought, she didn't notice Dexter had turned to her, apparently finished with his current project. He was frowning at her, so she supposed she had missed something. She blinked at him. "What?"
"You are doing it again," he explained. He studied her as he handed her back her Nanocom. She looked at it, pleased to see all it's feature's were bright and full of energy again. She wondered when he had taken it out.
When he didn't continue, she asked, "Doing what?"
"Like you have seen a ...*ghost*." He said the word as if it were foul and he didn't even like to use it in metaphor. Perhaps it was because it was something he couldn't prove didn't exist anymore than he could prove it did.
Whisper stilled. Had she really been doing that? She looked down at Nano Dexter, who had returned to her side now that his human counterpart was finished, and Nano Eddy. Mouthing the words, she asked, "I really do that?" Nano Eddy wasn't paying attention, so bored at that point he looked like he was about ready to drop off to sleep. Nano Dexter tilted his head to the side, unable to comprehend what she was asking.
Dexter narrowed his eyes and then crossed his arms. "Was I..." he trailed off as if he was choosing his words carefully. She looked up at him. "Was I one of the people who didn't come back, in the future? Is that why you do that?"
Whisper felt cold. So startled by the question, she stammered, "What-?! How did you figure out-" She broke off, her hands flew to her mouth. She had sworn never to give even the slightest hint of the names of the people who had disappeared unless the event started to occur, and now she had just-. She couldn't believe she'd just confirmed this one.
Her answer said it all. The light glaring on his glasses made it impossible to fully gauge his expression. After a long silence, he nodded. She almost thought she had confirmed something he had been suspicious of already.
Trying to recover, she said, hurriedly, "We didn't know for sure. You - the future you - told me to go with Ben and Numbuh Five. He went back in alone and stopped the Fusions from taking Tech Square, but we never knew if he made it out." She didn't add that the reason they didn't know was because Ben had gone in after him and never returned either.
His expression didn't alter, but the slight nod let her know he had heard her.
Uneasy with her memories, she looked down back at Nano Dexter. She took his little hands in hers and resisted the urge to hug him and assure herself that he, and the other Nanos, were proof of change. It was to herself, she said, "I promised to never let that happen again, but am I even making a difference here?"
He snorted. She looked up when she heard him moving around. As she watched, he approached the largest computer in the lab. Confused, she followed, not sure what else to do.
Dexter typed in a series of commands, windows appearing and disappearing to quickly to make sense of them. Finally, it stopped on an image. She recognized it as a map of the towns they were fighting for. She didn't know why they were covered in green dots, though. "This," he explained, "Is a map of the day you came back. The green dots are Fusions."
She squinted at the screen. She hissed. "That's... a lot."
He pressed another button, and another image come up. It was the same one, but with a drastic drop in green dots. "This is from yesterday."
The news was so great so gasped. "This is because of the Nanocoms?"
Dexter made a gesture. "It has helped. With each ...copy-cat... that falls, we can get in and clean up the infected area. Only the Nanocoms have been able to completely destroy them."
Whisper came to stand at his side, never taking her eyes off the screen. They had made that much progress? "We're winning?"
He frowned. "We are making progress. Endsville was an unforseeable set back, but we will recover. Keeping the Power Plant from exploding helped."
She smiled, her mood cheered up considerably. Turning her smile full force on him, she said, meaning it, "Thank you, Dexter. I needed this."
She thought she saw a small blush color his cheeks, but she dismissed it. Even if he was, it was most likely from getting the attention of a girl. Guys were like that, when they didn't run screaming that girls had cooties.
Turning back to the elevator, she called, "Buttercup!" The Nano Power Puff Girl was in the process of doing handstands on the keyboards without actually putting any pressure on them. She instantly jumped up when called, but not before Dexter just about shrieked thinking she had been playing with it.
Whisper almost skipped to the elevator. Pushing the up button, she turned back to Dexter. Her expression was serious. "We'll change that future. I won't let you and the others die, even if I have to fight to do it."
He stared at her silently. She smiled as the door opened behind her, and she stepped into the elevator. As the door closed, she heard him muttering, "Why does everyone think I can not fight for myself...?" She laughed as the rest of the words were cut off by the doors closing.
As the elevator took her back up, she felt her own hopes soaring. For the first time since the disaster that sent her to the future, she felt they might actually have a chance to win. She would find Buttercup and prove she was alive, and she would make sure that her guide and the other's they'd lost in the future were not lost this time.
They were going to win this war. She knew it.
-end of chapter two
A/N: It occured to me as I was rereading this, that when Whisper says she'll keep Dexter and the other's from dying (if she can help it), that she'll even fight, herself, it could be misinterpreted to mean that she wasn't already fighting. What I meant was 'fight' like 'partake in violent acts' not 'struggle to make happen'. She really is a passive person, all things considered. (Wonder how that happened? D: )
Hm, just wanted to be sure that was clear. Also, I apologize for the sucky dialogue. I am trying to fix that