AN: I said this chapter was going to take some time but one night I couldn't stop writing and wrote well into the next morning. I'm happy with it, and I hope in my sleepiness I didn't screw stuff up. Uploading this chapter was a pain in the butt. FFnet why you screwin' with mah chappies. Anyway, here it is! Last chapter, with Ben and Rook being bros.
When Khyber jumped at Ben, his blade ready to strike, Ben didn't make a move to transform or even to dodge. He stood frozen in place. Fortunately Rook had noticed, quickly lining a shot at Khyber, causing Khyber to replace his blade to shield himself from the shot. The strength of the blast sent Khyber flying in a different direction, but the huntsman managed to land gracefully on his feet. Rook quickly turned to Ben, but the Panuncian was rushing at him. He quickly rolled out of the way.
"Ben, move!" Rook shouted, snapping Ben back into reality.
Ben shook his head and activated the dial on the Omnitrix, promptly smashing his hand down onto it, not bothering to select an alien. A flash of green revealed he had transformed into Heatblast. He shot a ball of fire at Khyber, and another at the Panuncian. Khyber ducked out of the way and the Panuncian was hit. Ben stood readily, staring intently at the Panuncian, expecting it to transform into Crabdozer and attack him.
But Ben found himself caught unprepared when it was Khyber who lunged at him. The huntsman slashed at his head, but Ben brought his arms up in time to block the attack. Khyber grabbed the opportunity to stomp him on his chest, hitting the Omnitrix directly, causing Ben to transform back into human form. Ben staggered, looking at his human hands in disbelief.
"One of the advantages of my alliance with Albedo," Khyber told him. "I have some understanding on the inner workings of your Omnitrix."
Khyber stood for a while, observing his prey before him. Ben kept his eyes on him, with a look that so obviously showed fear. His hands shook, and his breaths hitched. Khyber chuckled, his bass voice was piercing. Ben gulped, but the deep sense of dread still remained stuck in his throat.
The Panuncian weighed down upon his Power Sword. The beast unrelenting in its attempt to crush him under its own weight. But Rook was also relentless in trying not to get crushed. He shifted his weight, and with a mighty slash managed to parry the dangerous paws away. The beast was thrown back, landing on its back onto the steel floor. Rook found it odd that Khyber was not taking advantage of the predator aliens to whale upon Ben. Rook turned his head to check on the human.
Ben's battle was not going well. Ben was barely evading Khyber's attacks, and he wasn't in any of his alien forms. And Khyber... Khyber was in pure fury. His dark expression was unwavering. The large huntsman towered over the smaller human, and Ben was struggling to survive the onslaught.
Rook's attention snapped back to the Panuncian, who had recovered from its fall. It rushed at him again. Rook readied his blade, waiting for it to pounce. But it did not pounce. Instead it ran around him, swiping its tail at him instead. Rook ducked just in time to avoid the sharp edge at the tip of the Panuncian's tail. But just as he did so, he was pounced at, and he rolled away in time. He quickly stood up, but was immediately pushed back down from behind. He fell onto the floor. A pair of paws stomped on the floor, each on each side of his head. He promptly transformed his blade into a blaster, rolled over and shot the Panuncian in the face.
The Panuncian wailed, its face burnt. Rook quickly got up. It was then he saw not one, but three Panuncians.
Rook gulped, briefly wondering how on earth Ben fought the creature.
Khyber swung his blade furiously. Ben could feel the wind itself being sliced as he barely stepped out of the way. Ben reached for his Omnitrix, slamming down onto it and initiating his transformation. But he didn't—he couldn't—catch Khyber who was already smashing his palm against the Omnitrix as well. Just as soon as Ben transformed, he was forcibly reverted back to his human form.
"Without your alien forms," Khyber grunted, swiping Ben off his feet, causing the human to fall harshly on his back. "You are nothing."
Ben tried again, this time he decided to do so right after one of Khyber's attacks. He transformed into Goop. He quickly tried to put some distance between him and Khyber. But Khyber was quick. The hunter jumped and leapt, and took hold of Goop's Anti-Gravity Projector, quickly mashing his fist onto the Omnitrix symbol.
Goop gurgled, transforming back into human, finding himself on the floor once again. Desperately, he primed and smashed his hand onto the Omnitrix again.
He had transformed into Pesky Dust. Ben panicked. Not this useless alien! But he had to adapt to the situation. Pesky Dust started to move his wings, ready to fly away and figure out how to use his Nemuina powers against Khyber.
Ben barely had time to register that he was being shot at. He flew around the first shot, and the next. Suddenly Khyber's blade was flying directly for his head. He squeaked, dodging just in time. He heard a growl. He turned, and saw Khyber's hunting rifle aimed straight at him and the hunter's eyes were an intense red. For a moment Ben was frozen in fear, and that one moment was enough for Khyber.
The trigger was pulled, and the energy blast hit its target. Not once, not twice. Khyber shot at the Nemuina with his hunting rifle multiple times, as if he wasn't taking any chances. Pesky Dust cried out in pain at the final shot and fell to the ground with a soft thud. He transformed back into Ben, who panted and groaned, his hands clenched in pain against the metal floor. Ben tried to push himself up, but nevertheless it would have been in vain. Khyber stomped him right back to the ground.
"So you think you're clever," Khyber growled with an edge to his voice. "I will have no more of your wily tricks."
Khyber kicked the boy to turn him over onto his back and earning a small gasp. Khyber cocked his rifle.
"It's been wonderful, Tennyson, but this game ended a long time ago."
Rook was having a difficult time with three of the Panuncians—No, now there were four. He was contemplating an escape plan. There was no way he could handle the beast continuously multiplying itself. He heard the sounds of shots fired, followed by a high-pitched cry. He turned his head to look, but had to return his attention to the attacking Panuncian. The Panuncians were tagging each other out, taking turns attacking him.
He jumped out of the way of an attack and followed up quickly as he shot a grappler hook upwards. It hooked around a metal pipe, and Rook prayed it was stronger than it looked. With a tug, Rook held fast to the grappling gun and retracted the grappling wire, yanking him off the ground. He swung himself far from the group of Panuncians, giving him room to breathe and think. He glanced at the other side of the room to check on Ben.
His heart skipped a beat. Ben lied motionless on the ground. The barrel of a rifle pointed right at his head.
Rook wasn't sure if the huntsman had already shot Ben or was about to. But he shot at Khyber. It hit, causing Khyber to lose his grasp on his rifle. Rook took advantage of the moment to run towards Ben. In one swift motion he picked up the boy and slung him over his shoulder, earning a surprised yelp. He then ran straight to the door at the end of the room.
Khyber got back on his feet just in time to see Rook's retreating back, along with his quarry being carried away. The Panuncians were already chasing after Rook, but Rook shot a few rounds with his Net Caster at them, delaying their approach. The door swung open automatically upon Rook's approach. When it closed behind him, Rook shot at a panel near the door, effectively disabling it. He could hear ramming and scratching against the door as he ran further and further away.
He ran through a long corridor. The path eventually forked. He had no time to contemplate on which path to take. He blindly ran to the right. The path soon forked again. He chose on, and kept running only to come across another fork. He ran to the left, hoping that he was heading towards some sort of room with escape pods.
He heard a roar. Khyber had managed to blast the door down and now one of the Panuncians had caught up to him. It jumped from behind, but Rook ducked. The Panuncian lept above him and landed in front of him. He was trapped. He looked to his right and saw a door. He quickly ran in and slammed the switch next to the door, locking it. The beast scratched against the door. Rook held his breath, readying his blaster for when the beast breaks through. But no such thing happened, for the Panuncian eventually left... for now. The asylum was temporary, Rook knew that.
Rook looked around the room. It housed a lot of wires and pipes, as well as several consoles and monitors that was fixed to the walls. In the middle of the room was looked like the main console unit. Rook gently set Ben down against it. The boy groaned.
"I'd appreciate not being treated like a sack of potatoes," said Ben, rubbing his side. Then, he looked alarmed, and quickly asked, "Where's Azmuth?"
"He is safe," Rook assured him and pulled out a giggling Galvan from a pouch on his thigh. Azmuth stuck out his tongue and pulled down an eyelid, spitting at Ben. Ben was relieved. He thrust his open hands to Rook, and Rook dropped Azmuth into them.
"You're okay now little buddy," Ben cooed at Azmuth, poking him with a finger. Azmuth climbed onto the finger and started to spin himself on it. Ben smiled, amused by the silly act. "Awww. What happened to him, though?"
"It seems that Albedo has somehow managed to extract Azmuth's brain," Rook hypothesized. "What Azmuth has now is his pre-brain that controls the basic functions of his body."
Azmuth tripped and fell, hitting the floor and making a flatulent noise as he did so. Ben picked up the Galvan and snickered. "Hehe. I like this pre-brain Azmuth."
"Ben," Rook said seriously, grabbing the other's attention. "You must stay here. I will search for and disable the cloaking device."
"I'm coming with you," Ben replied casually as he put Azmuth onto the floor. He watched the Galvan run in circles and hitting its head against one of the consoles. He chuckled softly. Rook groaned in frustration. He knelt down in front of Ben, reached out to his left and picked up the Galvan.
"No, you are not," he said sternly, dropping Azmuth into Ben's hands. "Stay put."
"Stay put? Me? Dude, do you even know me?" Ben replied in jest, looking at Rook with a playful, but thin smile. But Rook was in no mood to humor him.
"Not when you become frightened by the mere sight of Khyber!" Rook snapped at him, raising his voice. He brought his face closer, adding with almost a growl, "You cannot fight, Ben. And you are hurt. You cannot do anything in this state."
Rook obviously had more to say, but the wide-eyed look Ben was giving him sank his heart. He quickly tore away, realizing what he had said. He face softened guiltily. He was about to apologize, but Ben was already glaring back.
"I'm—" he began. "I'm not afraid of Khyber."
"And I'm just fine."
Ben crossed his arms and looked away, keeping his gaze on the floor.
Rook sighed. Steadily, he said, "I am sorry, Ben."
"Don't be. Just drop it."
"I should have been more considerate. I know not what you had gone through in the past few days. Forgive me."
"I said drop it."
They sat in silence. Both had something to say to the other, but neither was willing to begin. The silence was broken by a loud crashing sound, diverting the attention of the two. A pile of metallic items and loose pipes fell at the corner of the room. When the pile settled, Azmuth's head popped out among the miscellaneous metals.
"Drop~it~!" Azmuth seemed to sing with an inane voice.
They stared at Azmuth as he continued to sing the two words and play with the items he was buried in. Ben sighed. He rested his head in his hand, returning his gaze on the floor.
"... You're right. I'm scared to death."
Rook was surprised by the sudden admission, but he kept quiet and allowed Ben to continue.
"I guess Khyber somehow managed to get under my skin. I mean, he... could've ended me so many times. And one of those times he... he almost did."
Ben was quiet after that, so Rook thought he was done. Rook tried to think of something to say, but his mind continued to race for the right words. Suddenly, Ben moaned in frustration. He moved his hand over his forehead, combing his messy bangs to the back of his head.
"This is stupid. Some hero I am."
"It is not stupid."
Ben sighed, as if he did not fully believe Rook's words. "Thanks."
"I mean it," Rook tried to convince the boy, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Ben, you are only human."
Rook's words had struck a chord in the boy. Ben lifted his head, looking fixedly at Rook. Rook stared back, hoping he had gotten through to him.
Then Ben laughed. Rook was taken aback, perplexed by Ben's reaction. He wondered if Ben had finally snapped.
"Dude," Ben managed to speak after calming down a bit. "That's so cheesy. Where'd you get that?"
"It is a phrase referenced in many of Earth's literature," Rook replied, still confused. "Did I not use it correctly?"
"No, no... I think it's pretty accurate," said Ben, offering a grateful smile. "So I guess you'd be... only Revonnahgander." Ben grinned, but then made a thoughtful look. "Er, maybe not. Doesn't sound as good. Does it?"
Rook smiled back. "It does not."
Ben chuckled. He looked away for a second, then smiled at the Revonnahgander.
"Thanks, man," said Ben, offering a closed fist. Rook stared at his fist strangely.
"Do you... want to hit me?"
"It's called a fist bump. Just tap your fist onto mine."
Rook raised an eyebrow, but complied nonetheless. He closed his own fist and tapped it against Ben's.
Ben grinned, nodding. "Like that."
Suddenly, the screens in the room came to life, causing the two of them to almost jump. They quickly got onto their feet, Ben wobbled as he did so. The screens were showing live footage of security cameras inside and outside the station. Azmuth, who had been jumping around on the controls on the main console unit, cheered.
The main screen in front of them relayed footage from the external security cameras. They saw hundreds of robot drone ships, swarming past the camera. A ship zoomed past, but Rook managed to catch a glimpse of the emblem painted on the ship.
"They are here!" Rook exclaimed.
"The Plumbers! They have arrived," Rook sounded excited. Then he saw the shots being fired between the Plumbers ships and the drone ships. "But the robot drone ships are keeping them well away from this base."
"The cloaking device," said Ben, looking through the buttons and switches on the panel. "Maybe we can turn it off from here."
Rook nodded, and began to work on the controls. Ben picked up Azmuth, and held him in his hands. "Good job turning it on, lil' buddy!" he congratulated the Galvan, who in turn started jabbering various nonsense.
The screen in front of Rook minimized the camera's live footage and windows upon windows of text appeared before him. He carefully read through each option, before settling on the ones that would likely lead him to anything related to uncloaking the base.
"I believe I may have found it," Rook excitedly announced.
"Do it fast," Ben's voice had a slight quiver. "Khyber's coming."
Rook glanced at a screen Ben had been watching. In the smaller screen was Khyber and his Panuncian, running straight ahead with purpose. They were fast, quickly going off screen.
Rook returned to the console, this time working with greater haste and giving it all of his concentration. He felt Ben backing away next to him, bumping slightly against the console unit. He held Azmuth tightly to his chest.
"It is done!"
Suddenly, there was a loud sound. Rook turned around. He saw a large dent in the door. He took a step towards the door, motioning for Ben to step back. There was another loud bang, and the dent in the door grew larger.
"Ben, I will not stop you from engaging the enemy," Rook told him, readying his Proto-Tool as a Power Sword. "But you are still injured. All I ask is for you to be careful. We need only to hold out until the Plumbers board the base."
Ben nodded. He placed Azmuth on his shoulders, and activated the Omnitrix, transforming into Ditto. He held Azmuth carefully in his clawed hands. And then with one last bang the door flung away from its position. Khyber's Panuncian immediately launched itself at Rook, causing the latter to parry with his blade. Khyber shot at Ditto. Ditto jumped out of the way and inadvertantly split himself into numerous copies. The copies ran out of the room, ramming Khyber and causing him to fall onto the ground. Rook managed to free himself from the beast and followed the Dittos out.
Rook wasn't sure where Ditto was leading them. But the corridor looked familiar. Eventually they came upon a gaping hole on the wall. Rook instantly recognized it was the same door that he had gone through, and Khyber seemed to have blasted his way through. They ran past the door, back into the room with the red cylindrical machine.
"Why are we stopping?" Rook asked, seeing the group of Dittos halt.
"Didn't you crash through here? Where's the hole?"
Rook quickly caught on to what Ben was trying to do; Ben wanted to send a flare of their location to the Plumbers from the hole. Rook looked up at the ceiling. He was certain he had damaged the hull all the way through, but there was no hole. No gaping area of missing metal that tunneled into space. The damage surrounding the area was there, but it had been sealed off by metal wires.
"The station's cloaking function has been restored. Your Plumber friends won't be joining you today."
They turned around. A growling Panuncian and a very furious Khyber approached.
"You are more trouble than you're worth, Tennyson," Khyber seethed. "This ends now."
The Panuncian split into several copies, matching the number of Dittos. All of them charged at the Dittos, including Khyber. But Rook quickly stepped into Khyber's path, slashing his blade at Khyber. One by one the dittos began to disappear as each Panuncian attempted to land a killing blow. Until there was only one left, and the last one held Azmuth in his arms. The Panuncians surrounded him from all fronts except his back, but Ditto had backed up against a large silver metal structure. The beasts roared and charged.
But suddenly Khyber's gill flared, emitting a whistle. The beasts stopped abruptly, much to Ditto's surprise. Instead, the one on his left lunged, taking him down onto the ground. Ditto fought to get the beast off of him, but his predator had him pinned to the ground. The Omnitrix beeped, beginning its timeout sequence. As soon as he changed, he hit the Omnitrix once again and transformed into AmpFibian. He placed three of his appendages against the beast and released a large burst of electricity, but left one of his limbs uncharged to hold Azmuth. The beast wailed and cried, allowing AmpFibian room to escape. He flew away and rose up into the air. He glanced at the large metal structure he had his back against earlier.
"Something tells me you don't want me near that thing..." AmpFibian muttered. He flew towards the structure, and readied his charged tentacles. A large bolt of electricity formed between his appendages. He pulled it back and readied himself. As soon as he threw and hit the structure, a blast of energy hit him on the back, causing him to lose his grip on Azmuth. He fell towards the ground, but managed to catch himself and floated back up.
Khyber's gills flared again, and the Panuncians quickly gathered. Then the Nemetrix started to glow, enveloping the beast with a red light. It was brief, and the light faded, revealing a much larger, spikier, and more ferocious form of the Panuncian.
"An Ultimate," Ben uttered dumbfoundedly under his breath. Suddenly he was pushed from his back, as if something had been thrown at him. He fell onto the ground with a thud, and when he turned his head he saw it was Rook, groaning and holding his head.
"Another one of the advantages of my alliance with Albedo," Khyber told them, grinning.
Ben began to time out, causing Rook to fall further onto his back due to his smaller size than AmpFibian. Realizing he was crushing Ben under his weight, Rook quickly got on his feet and then pulled the boy up. Ben coughed, relieved to have the weight off his back.
"Are you alright?" Rook asked worriedly.
"Yeah. Listen, I have a plan—"
Ben was cut off when Rook pushed him away. Ben felt the wind blew past him as the Ultimate Panuncian charged past, ramming into Rook instead.
"Rook!" Ben cried out. He transformed into Rath, running straight towards the Ultimate Panuncian. Rath charged and shouted, "Let me tell you something hyperevolved knockoff-omnitrix-wearing Rook-smashing Ultimate Panuncian, Rath does not—"
Khyber shot a grappling wire at him, causing it to wrap around Rath and pulling him onto the ground. With one strong pull, Khyber dragged Rath across the floor, pulling the Appoplexian closer.
"It seems that it is... Rath season," Khyber grinned at the little joke.
Rath was unamused. "KHYBER SEASON!"
Khyber hit the Omnitrix located on Rath's chest. A green light revealed Ben's human form. Khyber chuckled.
Fortunately, Ben was much smaller than Rath. The bindings of the wire became loose, and Ben swiftly got up and out of the coils. As he ran away from Khyber, he started to dial on the Omnitrix, but suddenly he halted in his steps. The Omnitrix—always doing the worst things at the worst possible moments—was timed out.
He was defenseless.
Ben felt the a shiver ran up his spine. He suddenly felt cold. He turned around. Khyber stood tall in front of him, but there was little humor nor delight to be seen in his eyes.
Khyber slashed at him with his blade. Ben squeaked, moving his body to the side. Khyber slashed again, straight across, and Ben jumped backwards. Khyber continued his onslaught, and Ben was driven only by desperation as he evaded, and sometimes barely so.
Rook found himself dealing with the Ultimate Panuncian surprisingly well—It was much easier to focus his attacks on a single foe instead of multiples of them.
At least that was what Rook had thought for the first two minutes fighting the beast. After that he found that he was wrong. Dead wrong. Every swipe the beast made could very easily be followed up by the accursedly long, sharp tail. Every time the beast charged at him, it could change directions just as easily, and it could also be followed up by the tail swipe. In fact, the tail was a major problem, and it was difficult to focus fire on the tail as it kept moving and the beast was not keen to allow Rook a clear view of its tail.
Rook took his attention to the other fight, concerned with how Ben was holding up. But his moment of distraction caused him a moment of weakness. The Ultimate Panuncian swiped its tail at him, and Rook did not realize in time. He managed to jump out of the way, but the tail managed to hit his fingers. His Proto-Tool blaster was smacked out of his grip, and it flew far across the room, dropping onto the metal floor with a screech.
Almost immediately, Rook began to sprint towards his weapon. The Ultimate Panuncian was having none of that. It swiftly jumped in front of Rook, roaring. It leapt and lunged at him with its claws and sharp fangs. Rook sprung out of the way, and soon found himself backed against a wall.
He glared at the beast as the Panuncian's shadow loomed over him. Rook was defenseless and cornered. He did not see the fight ending well.
By some form of pure fortune, as Ben stumbled to his right to avoid another attack, his elbow struck Khyber's wrists with momentum, causing the latter to drop his blade. Ben inwardly cheered, but when he saw Khyber's boiling rage, he wasn't too sure anymore if it had been a good thing.
"Enough games!" Khyber yelled, taking out his rifle.
He shot at Ben, hitting him squarely on the chest and sending him flying halfway across the room, stopped by the metal wall. His body slid down the wall and fell onto the floor. He gasped in pain, a hand pressed against his chest.
He saw Khyber approaching, the huntsman's black boots stepped lightly over the burnished metal floor. A gleam from his left caught his eye. He took a quick, brief glance at it. It was... Rook's blaster? Ben's eyes scanned the room for Rook, and he saw Rook wrestling hopelessly against the Ultimate Panuncian. He turned back to Khyber, who had yet to notice the weapon within Ben's reach.
Ben launched himself at the weapon, grabbing hold of it. While still on the floor he immediately aimed it at Khyber. But his arms shook and his face was hardly one of bravery. He was a pathetic sight.
Khyber sniggered. "You must be joking."
Realizing that Khyber was still closing in, he slowly pushed himself backwards with his feet, but his arms still aimed upwards towards Khyber. He pushed himself until he was backed up against a wall, and Khyber was finally right in front of him.
The huntsman towered above him. His face was amused as he observed Ben's shaky aim. He cocked his own rifle and touched its barrel directly on Ben's chest.
"Go on," Khyber mocked. "You don't have the audacity."
Ben's hand shook. The blaster in his hands shook. He willed himself to pull the trigger. But he was paralyzed. The cold metal of a gun's barrel on his chest caused him to hyperventilate as he recalled his last experience with such an instance.
This is it, Ben thought to himself, closing his eyes. This is how I die.
Suddenly, Ben heard a low hum. He opened his eyes. It came from his right. A couple meters away from him was that large grey metal structure, damaged from his attack earlier. The metallic structure was producing the humming sound. It sounded like the low hums of a generator. Then, Ben thought that if he was going to die anyway, he might as well die destroying something Khyber valued.
Ben switched his target from Khyber to the structure. The instant he saw Khyber's panicked expression, he smiled smugly and pulled the trigger.
Rook had been pinned against the wall by the Ultimate Panuncian's large paw by the time he heard an explosion as the floor rumbled slightly. He saw both Ben and Khyber blown away by the explosion. Ben dropped just a few feet away from Rook.
Khyber cursed loudly. He stood up and whistled. The beast obediently released its hold and ran towards its master, reverting back to its normal Panuncian form.
"This isn't over, Tennyson," Khyber spat out as he ran out through the door at the end of the room, his loyal familiar following him closely behind.
Rook ran straight towards Ben. He knelt down and propped up the boy's head. When he saw the burns on Ben's arms and torso, his anxiety only grew worse.
"Ben," Rook anxiously called his name. "Ben, answer me."
Ben's body was unmoving. Rook gently tapped the boy's cheeks with his palm.
"Ben," Rook called again, desperation evident in his voice with each passing word. "Do not do this to me. Please, answer me."
There was no response.
Rook held the boy's wrist and left his thumb on the underside. He waited for a pulse. One second had passed. Two seconds. Three seconds. Four seconds. Five...
Rook looked at the boy in his arms in disbelief. But then he shook his head. He refused to believe it.
He put his head onto Ben's chest, but the pounding of his own heart wasn't helping. Rook straightened his back, inhaled deeply, and then exhaled. He placed his ear on Ben's chest again, and patiently listened.
And then there it was. Rook couldn't have been happier to hear the small sound of Ben's beating heart. Rook sighed with relief. Ben was alive. Barely so, but nevertheless alive.
Rook heard the sounds of footsteps, followed by voices. The door at the end of the room soon opened, and it was Magister Tennyson, followed by a whole team of Plumbers.
"Rook!" Max shouted from across the room. When he got closer, he saw the unconscious Ben in Rook's arms. Max gasped. "Ben!"
Max knelt in front of him, and Rook allowed the older man to hold his grandson. Max looked in horror as his grandson slumped rather lifelessly in his arms.
"Is he...?" Max choked on his words, not willing to complete the sentence.
Rook calmly assured him. "Ben is alive, but he requires immediate medical attention."
Max immediately began to bark orders at his squad. The Plumbers got into action right away. Some of them were relaying orders through their communicators. Two of them approached.
The Plumbers knelt next to Max. Max nodded at them and laid Ben onto the floor. Rook watched as they began to examine and perform some first aid on the boy. He felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw it was Magister Tennyson.
"Let them work," Max gently told him. "Ben is in good hands."
Rook reluctantly nodded, and left the Plumbers who were working on Ben. A few minutes later a Plumber rushed into the room, pulling a gurney with him. Rook watched as Ben was moved onto the gurney and swiftly transported out of the room.
Max received a call from his communicator, to which he promptly replied. When he was done, he turned to Rook.
"Gwen and Kevin are after Albedo as we speak," Max told him. "The rest of the Plumber units have been ordered to join the chase."
"Miss Tennyson and Kevin Levin?"
Max nodded. "Bumped into them while we were fighting off the robot drone ships. They'll catch him."
"That is good to know. Albedo has—"
Then Rook looked like he had just remembered something.
"Azmuth! Where is Azmuth?" Rook cried out, frantically looking around the room.
"He's here!" a Plumber called out, holding up the Galvan in his hands.
Rook ran towards the Plumber and retrieved the Galvan. Max joined him as well and looked curiously at the First Thinker, who was swirling and spinning in circles in Rook's hands.
"That's... Azmuth?" Max asked.
"Yes. It seems that Albedo has taken away his brain. It is imperative we capture Albedo before he integrates Azmuth's brain into his own."
Max nodded, immediately sending out orders through his communicator. Then he was approached by a Plumber who greeted him with a salute, and delivered to him a brief report. Max nodded at the Plumber, who then left. Max turned to Rook, giving a stern look.
"When we get back," Max said gravely. "I need to have a word with both you and Ben."
With that, Max left to attend to his duties as Magister. Rook didn't like getting in trouble with Magister Tennyson, but right now he wasn't worried. He was just glad to know that it was over. He was glad to know that Ben was safe and alive.
"Ooooh, you've done it now," Rook heard a familiar voice behind him. He turned around and saw Magister Patelliday, who waved at him. "You're in for one stern lecture from Max."
"Magister Patelliday," Rook greeted him, straightening his back.
"They're already beginning procedures to transport Ben back to Earth," Patelliday told him. "You'd better hurry. They're leaving quite soon."
Rook stared at the older Plumber.
Patelliday shrugged. "Max'll understand. You look like you've been through hell and back."
Rook nodded, saluting the Magister. "Thank you, Magister Patelliday."
Without waiting for a reply, Rook had already fled the scene. Patelliday smiled to himself. He then joined Max in advising and receiving reports from the Plumbers.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Those consistent sounds were the first thing Ben had woken up to. His entire body ached, but whatever he was lying on was soft and comfortable. His head felt heavy, but the pillow under his head was big and well-fluffed. He was cold, but the blanket covering him was warm.
He tried to open his eyes, but the light was too bright, and he groaned as he shut his eyes again. Then he heard shuffling noises. He opened his eyes again, and this time the light was much dimmer.
"Ben," he heard a soft voice call him
Ben turned his head. He saw a tired Rook, sitting next to his bed. Even Rook's short fur had managed to look disheveled, but the Revonnahgander's face was beaming.
"Geez, this is how we keep meeting up anymore," Ben joked, earning a small laugh from Rook.
"You are in the medical bay of a Plumber ship," Rook then explained to him. "We are transporting you back to Earth."
Ben moved his arms, attempting to prop himself up, but Rook quickly stopped him, gently pushing him back down by his shoulders.
"You are supposed to rest," Rook warned him. He then added with a smile, "We are already in enough trouble with Magister Tennyson."
"Where's grandpa Max?"
"Magister Tennyson should be about done surveying the base right now. He said he needs to have a word with the both of us when we get back."
"Oh man, we're in trouble now," Ben chuckled, earning one from Rook as well. Then, he asked, "What happened? The last thing I remember is something exploding."
And so Rook began his retelling of what had occurred after Ben was rendered unconscious. Rook left out certain details—such as when he thought Ben was dead—but otherwise he was pretty thorough, from explaining that the structure Ben had shot was actually an important part of the base's cloak generator to describing Albedo's capture by Gwen and Kevin.
"So Albedo didn't get to use the brain thing?" Ben questioned. "Azmuth's smart again?"
"Indeed, but reintegrating Azmuth's brain requires more sophisticated equipment found in the Plumber's headquarters. Miss Tennyson and Mister Levin will be meeting with us back on Earth. They are very concerned with your well-being."
Ben could just picture his cousin lecturing him about recklessness and Kevin cheering him on for surviving an explosion. He smiled warmly at the thought.
Rook shook his head. "He escaped. We could not capture him."
Then the two of them were quiet for a while. Only the beeping sounds of the heart monitor accompanied the silence. Ben looked at his arms, and saw that they were neatly bandaged. He felt some constriction around his chest as well. His body still ached terribly and his joints were uncooperative. But still he smiled. Never mind that Khyber wasn't caught—he didn't expect the huntsman would go down so easily anyway. He smiled because it was finally over. And he couldn't have done it alone.
Ben slowly raised his hand, and closed it into a fist.
Rook smiled, and touched the fist with his own.
"Anytime, Ben Dude."
And there we have it! Thank you for following Confidence to the end. Being that it's my first story posted for the whole net to see, it's been swell. It was fun. But goodness knows how many times I had to go back to a chapter to realize I forgot something-Can't imagine how some writers can write over twenty chapters! You're all superhuman, I swear.
You can ignore the following notes; They're just to clarify certain things. Also for silly rantings.
- I took many liberties with this. Not sure if it's even possible for enemies to activate the Omnitrix-I'm pretty sure it isn't with the new Omnitrix. Unless I'm sure it's possible in canon, this is one liberty I won't be taking again in a long time.
- I had a hard time writing Rath into this chapter. At first I thought he was taking away from the grim situation, and then I felt like he didn't, and then I was just confused but liked the whole "Rath/Khyber season" thing and just left him there. (From the episode Of Predators and Prey)
- I probably forgot something. It took me three reads to realize I forgot about Azmuth, who otherwise would've been left sitting alone in the room with the cerebral vortex machine for the entire chapter. Poor guy.
- About the part where Rook couldn't feel Ben's pulse: Rook was panicked, and Ben already had such a weak pulse going. So in his uncontrolled anxiety, Rook had trouble detecting Ben's pulse. I pulled this from a similar experience I had with my dad, who one day fell on his face while he was reading. My mom was, obviously, panicking, and frantically tried to feel for his pulse but she felt nothing. Yet, a few seconds later he sat back up and laughed, saying he was kidding. To this day I'm not sure whether he actually had a near-death experience or he just had a really dark taste in comedy.
- I'm not sure what Rook refers to Kevin as. Kevin Levin? Just Kevin? No idea and I'm not sure which episode to refer to, so I went with the first one.
- The ending may or may not be abrupt, but I do intend to leave it like that. I kind of like it.
- I've looked at too many BRooken on tumblr and now see "Ben Dude" as a pet name.
That's it. It's been swell. Thank you.