Author's notes: I wrote this fic because I wanted a more subtle BenRook story that still kept some canonical elements. It's more like a bromance thing, and if you squint it'll look like BRooken. Hey, I wanted a subtle BRooken. No flames, please. I take writing seriously but I don't expect to come out absolutely stellar with it.

You can skip this chapter if you have the episode A Fistful of Brains fresh in your mind. I wrote it because I wanted to establish Ben's fear that was observed in the scenes (or I'm overthinking things, but hey) but not addressed. Plus I think Khyber's playground had so much potential. So. Much. Potential.


Grrrr...

A low growl escaped from the rock-based, crab-like life form. Mounted upon the creature was Khyber. Another beast joined by his side with a snarl—a red, sabertooth tiger-like beast. Ben took a few steps back. The Omnitrix beeped those familiar, accursed tones. Within seconds Ben reverted back into his human form,causing him to gasp as he realized he was defenseless.

"Tennyson," Khyber greeted. He opened his arms in a welcome gesture. "Welcome to my world. Literally."

The hunter's bass voice reverberated fear in Ben. He could feel the cold sweat beginning to form on his palms.

"Khyber," Ben greeted back, face having lost all color. But he quickly collected himself, putting up a brave front. "Wow. Ego much?"

"Hmph. Not at all. It's just a little play site I've set up to test out new weapons, torturing old enemies, or just to... take some me time."

The large, red feline beast took a few steps towards the Omnitrix user, growling and glaring with its angry red eyes as it did so.

"I see you've got a new lapdog. Cat. Whatever that thing is," said Ben.

"A Panuncian," Khyber proudly told him. "Very rare. And with a very, shall we say, unique ability."

As if cued to do so, the Panuncian growled louder, raising its head to reveal the other half of its large spiked collar. Ben instantly recognized the device attached upon it.

"Aaand big surprise," Ben's words came out gutsy, but he knew he had to be sweating buckets by then. Unthinkingly, he took a couple steps back. "It's wearing your Rip-Off-A-Trix."

"The Nemetrix may have started as a pale imitation of the Omnitrix, but..." Khyber paused. He closed his eyes and nodded for a second, clearly relishing over his apparent advantage. "Well, you'll find out about that soon enough. First, a game."

"Wait, don't tell me. Let me guess: You hunt me, and if I survive until sundown or whatever you'll let me go."

Khyber stared at the boy with his sunken red eyes. His smirk grew wider. Ben felt a shiver go up his spine.

"Oh, no," Khyber responded with a chuckle. "The game continues until... you cannot."

Ben gulped.

"An unlike our previous encounters..." Khyber paused for a moment, before continuing. "No one will be coming to rescue you."

"Hah. Rescue me? Helloo? Have you been paying attention at all, Khyber?" Ben said in a mocking tone. He patted himself on his chest. "I'm Ben Tennyson. I rescue other people?"

Ben put his hands on his waist and stuck out his chest. Yes, he could do this. He'd beat a gazillion other bad guys before, and he'd been in a lot disadvantagous positions before. And every single time he came out victorious. This time was no different.

"So you say."

With that, a chip in his confidence. His confident smile faded.

"Hokay, I'll play your stupid game," Ben replied grimly. "But by the end, you'll be wishing someone was around to rescue you."

"You have no choice in the matter, Mr. Tennyson. The hunt begins... now."

"Bring it."

A bright flash of green emitted from the watch, his human form replaced by four copies Dittos.

"Hah! Good luck—"

"—chasing all of us—"

"—at once!"

The fourth copy stuck out its green tongue, spitting.

Much to his amusement, Ben knew the hunter was irritated. The hunter frowned. He hopped off his mount, and approached his feline beast.

"Fascinating creature, the Panuncian," he said as he kneeled next to his companion. He combed the beast's mane with his hand. "Native to the planet Hathor."

"Hey! That's Ditto's planet!" said the second Ditto.

"Where it's the natural predator of the Splixon."

"Hey! That's Ditto's species!" said the fourth Ditto.
"Is it now?" Khyber sniggered. "Fancy that."

Khyber moved his fingers to the beast's collar. With a touch of his finger, the Nemetrix let out a flash of red light. The light faded quickly, revealing three additional copies of the beast. Four Panuncians brought their large paws forward. Ben gulped.

"Me and my big mouths."