La Capitán: the End of Time miniseries

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BrianleWolfhunt
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La Capitán: the End of Time miniseries

-Good day sentinel comics fans. I am writer Brian Le Wolfhunt. Many ask for adventures of Maria Helena and never quite get the stories they want, so I provided a story from her career as the time pirate alongside her crew. In this story, La Capitán gets stranded in the end, the final wasteland that remains of earth. But how does she get there? Well it all starts with a thrilling action setpiece between her and our mighty heroes.

 

Chapter 1
Tides of Time

    Buenos dias! I am Maria Helena Teresa Fafila Servanda Jimena Mansuara Paterna Domenga Gelvira Placia Sendina Belita Eufemia Columba Gontina Aldonza Mafalda Cristina Tegrida de Falcon. I am La Capitán of the timeship, La Paradoja Magnifica! Isn’t she a beautiful vessel? She’s the first ship I ever sailed back in 16th century Spain. The galleon was flooded with chronal energies of the timestream on its voyage. Well, stream isn’t accurate. Time is more like a boundless ocean with ports allowing different access to locations and times. I have sailed that ocean for a couple decades seeking fortune and adventure. There are many times to visit and infinite timelines to explore, but today me and my crew seek a little payback. 
    I held the throwing knife in my left hand while my right held the helm. The knife still had a bit of dried blood on it, the results of an injury that my crew member, Siege-Breaker, still complained about. The woman who threw the knife lived in the early 21st century of my home timeline, and the knife tried to anchor itself to the time that it originated. It’s how I can find locations and times that I have been before. I tilted the wheel to port, following the minuscule pull of the object’s tether. It guided me along. 
    “What is ze plan, mon ami?” L’Épeiste asked. Pierre, who took the name  L’Épeiste, is a musketeer of the french variety. That meant he had a big hat and a sword and doesn’t fight with a musket all that often. I always found that rather odd. He is a better fencer than I am but doesn’t hold the same authority. 
    “The plan is to go in, charge the heroes, defeat them, and then take whatever plunder we can find. Simple really.” I explained. 
    “Can’t argue with that plan.” Battle Forged said as he sharpened his axe. As a viking, Orinn the Battle Forged is always up to combat. He settled his helmet on his head and activated the Heads Up Display on the helmet of futuristic make. He stared ahead, anticipating the coming fight.
    Up the stairs to the topdeck came Chip. Charles “Chip” Stevenson wore the outfit of those from what he called “the Royal Airforce” during what he called “The Great War.” From what he described of it this war was considerably unpleasant. He shifted his aviator’s goggles out of his eyes before speaking. “Ma’am, I am not one to question you, but are you sure that is the best plan we have right now?”
    “Chip, time travel is not an exact science.” I told him. “I can’t really make plans since I have no idea what we will be getting into. We will just have to see and improvise.”
    The Amazing Mabel, a twentieth century American circus trapeze artist, swung down from the ropes above. “Chip darling, leave the boss alone. She is doing her best. We are used to planning as we go.”
    “I know.” Chip relied. “But the old soldier in me is never comfortable with just just blindly rushing in.”
    “Maybe,” Battle-Forged began, “if you learned to enter battle with a pair of balls then you can learn courage.”
    Chip glared at Battle-Forged. “Unlike barbarians like you, I know the value of proper battle tactics. You can take your outdated little hatchet and trade it in for a useful weapon.”
    “Try and make me.” Battle-Forged retorted. “This weapon will kill you just just as well as the coward’s tool you hold to your side.”
    “Basta!” I shouted at the two of them. “Chip, man a port side cannon. Battle-Forged, a starboard cannon, and the two will you will not utter another word or I will have you both tied up and dragged behind the ship! Comprende?”
    “Ay Capitán.” They both answered in unison before leaving to follow my orders.
    Mabel watched them leave and said, “Like stubborn children, aren’t they?”
    “They are just wound up. Nerves. They can’t take their frustrations out on me so they leap down each other’s throats.”
    “How much longer until we get there?” Mabel asked.
    “Long enough that i will suggest you return to your post and get ready for battle stations.” I turned to the last person at the deck. “That goes for you to, L’Épeiste.” 
    “Oui, Capitán.” He said. He rushed down the stairs. Mabel did a theatrical little bow then started climbing the ropes to join Trueshot at the crow’s nest.
    I breathed a sigh of contentment. I always enjoyed a solitary moment, like in the old days when I was on my own in the timestream. I like my crew, but they have proven to be a lot of bother sometimes. I could compare them to the family I was born into, except I am the center of my crew’s world. They would not be here if not for me.
    Not long after that I began to feel the pull on the knife strengthen. I felt it grow to the point of near tangibility. I knew we were almost there.
    Below me, carrying a spare cannonball to the starboard cannons was Seige-Breaker. He wore his blue modified knight’s armor with his flaming spear affixed to his back. I shouted down at him. “Ahoy, Geremio!”
    Seige-Breaker turned to look at me through his thick glasses, an early gift to improve his performance. “Ahoy Capitán! What do you need?”
    “We are nearing our destination. Go bellow decks and make sure Final Breath is ready for battle.”
    Seige-Breaker saluted, dropped off his cannonball, then went bellow decks. 
    Then I felt it, the ship itself seemed to thrum with energy. It shook and bucked to the oncoming forces. The air around us seemed to become extremely dense. Colors in the timestream began to shift and change and morph into unimaginable shades and hues. Up ahead I could see the creation of a portal of purple energy. La Paradoja Magnifica picked up speed as the currents brought us towards a material plane. I shouted to the crew, “Brace yourselves mateys! we are about to make landfall!” A shout of excitement emitted from all the crew members as we passed through the portal.
    This crossing felt just like every other, even back to the first one that I ever encountered. I felt one form of energy leave my body and another form enter. My body felt like it was being crushed and stretched simultaneously. I felt the all too familiar jolt of pain move through me as every molecule of my body was forced to adapt to the form of the physical place that lays inside time. I knew all my crew members felt it too. It was horrible but it was also exhilarating. It was death and birth at the same time and these moments were as much a part of me as my right hand. I wouldn’t trade a single one of these moments for the world.
    And then the moment passed as we made it through the portal. I took stock of my surroundings. It was more or less what I expected. The timeship was flying over a twenty-first century metropolitan city called Megalopolis. 
    Chip whistled from port side. “No matter how many times I see it, I never get used to these cities.”
    “One cities is much like any other.” Said Final Breath, as he had just came up from bellow the deck. Ishikawa Zenjirou Kagemune wore a fancy robe from the east, a kimono. A similarly fancy sword hung at his hip, emitting a faintly green glow. He says he is a ronin from Japan.
    Trueshot climbed down from the ropes. “To see a city this large, it makes me wonder the limits of human ingenuity.” The pale skinned amazon took a glowing arrow from her thigh quiver. As she did so, I noticed Chip secretly ogle her scantily clothed figure.
    “Focus on the job everyone.” I shouted down to everyone. I turned the helm to point the ship towards my target, the giant building in the shape of the letter F that towered over the tallest skyscrapers of the city. The timeship sailed through the air towards the monolithic building. Already the city below began to stir as people noticed the flying, steampunk galleon moving towards the Freedom Tower. Helicopters took flight and passerby began to cry out in surprise. 
    As we neared the colossal letter, I called out orders to my crew. “We will be coming along to the building’s right side. Chip, Siege-Breaker, and Final Breath, all of you man a cannon on the port side. Mabel, Trueshot, the two of you prepare for a swing boarding. L’Épeiste, Battle Forged, both of you keep your eyes up and check for hostiles.”
    The crew followed the orders as I called them. I pulled up alongside the building. My crew pointed the cannons at the buildings. I raised my hand then dropped it down, shouting “Fire broadside!” 
    There was a loud detonation and a set of cannonballs flew into the windows of the building before exploding, shattering the glass of the windows on the whole floor and the floors above and below it. When the danger of the glass was gone, Trueshot and Mabel jumped off the starboard bow while holding some ropes, swinging under the ship and flying towards the tower. They let go of the ropes at the perfect moment to launch themselves across the gap and inside. They searched the nearby area while I docked the boat alongside the building and Battle Forged lowered a bridge from the deck to the building.
    “Anyone inside?” I asked the scouts through the comms. 
    “Empty as a desert, ma’am.” Mabel answered.
    “Excelente.” I let go of the wheel and gestured to the rest of the crew. “Todos! Vamos!” I charged down the bridge.
    I entered a large, open area with office cubicles, large hallways and several entrances to training rooms, labs, and other rooms that superheroes need. “Where are they?” I wondered out loud. 
    “We kicked in their front door.” Battle Forged said. “You’d think they would show up to meet us.” No sooner than he said that did a hero show up, though not one of the ones that I was expecting. 
    Mabel suddenly buckled from an electric shock that came out of nowhere before a previously unnoticed speck grew in size next to her, punching Trueshot in the gut. This person was a pink skinned lady with knee and elbow spikes. 
    I created a portal, reached through it, and withdrew a flintlock. “Where are the Freedom 5?” I demanded to the alien hero.
    “Those friend persons are doing other things.” She answered before diving forward towards me and growing until she filled the room from floor to ceiling and reaching out to grab at me. I barely managed to dive through the opening between her thumb and index finger. L’Épeiste behind me was not so lucky. He was gripped in her large hand and squeezed. 
    Trueshot readied an explosive arrow at the alien’s hand when there was a small detonation off to one side of the large room. Suddenly Trueshot’s bow hand sprouted ice, freezing it to the bow. In surprise, Trueshot released the arrow, which barely moved to halfway down its own length before getting stuck in the ice. 
    I searched in the direction on the shot to see a one-eyed woman bearing a modern pistol in each hand. Her eyepatch made her smile seem menacing as she leveled one of her guns at me and fired. 
    Acting on instinct, I leaned to the side and fired back. Apparently both our shots missed and we both scrambled for cover. Battle Forged, ignoring the danger the guns presented, charged at the one eyed woman.  She popped up from cover long enough for his axe to nearly cleave her in two. She fell backwards and rolled away from him, and continued to fire at him when she recovered her balance. Battle Forged was hit 3 times in the chest, which sent him staggering but his futuristically enforced armor stopped the worst of the damage. 
    I took a second to take in the the fight. L’Épeiste was leaning against a wall, nursing from what appeared to be broken ribs. Trueshot was trying to thaw out her hand. Chip was trying to corner the alien behind a desk while Mabel flanked her. Siege-Breaker stood by me. I couldn’t tell where Final Breath was.
    I dropped my flintlock into a portal and withdrew a replacement gun, a laser pistol of Thorathian make. I got ready to help Battle Forged subdue the gunslinger but I was interrupted when a nearby door exploded in cold. A beam of ice flew from the door and hit Siege-Breaker, sending him sprawling. A man in a black mech suit walked grimly walked out of the room and he spoke to me from behind his opaque, blue, glass faceplate. “And here I thought this would be a boring weekend.” He grumbled before blasting another ray of cold.
    I dived, which saved me from the brunt of the attack but it still caught my leg. I felt like I had instantly gotten frostbite and I felt chills all over. I knew it would pass in a second or two so I wasted no time in shooting at him.
    The laser shot hit him in the side, spinning him a bit. It was enough to divert him from me long enough for Mabel to swoop in from nowhere, landing a hard falling stomp on the mech suit’s helmet. The man inside grunted and grabbed at her. Their fight took them away from her.
    Chip returned to me, guns pointing at the ice warrior. I demanded, “where is the alien?”
    “She disappeared.” He answered.
    “Well find her. She is going to be una problema.”
    “Yes, Capitán.” He intoned before searching the floor. 
    He needn't have bothered. From a point by his feet, the alien grew from the size of an ant to fill the room again, picking Chip up and slamming him into the ceiling. She dropped him and punched down at me. I quickly reached into a portal and grabbed a sword, cutting at her knuckled as I dodged the punch. I aimed my gun at her head but just as I fired she shrunk down to my height and grabbed both my arms. She head butted me in the face and I dropped my weapons. However, I quickly made more portals and removed a pair of knives. I stabbed her with the both of them before kicking her off of me. She stumbled away then shrank back to tiny sized again.
    However, before I could breathe there was a creaking sound from the ceiling, where the alien smashed Chip against it. The spot in the ceiling suddenly broke and a man fell through, right on top of me. The floor beneath me inexplicably broke as well and we both fell through the floor and when we hit the floor below, the bulk of his weight landed right on my stomach.
    With the wind knocked out of me, all I could do was take in the appearance of the man who fell on me. He wore a black and yellow costume with the emblem of a die on his chest. He also wore a black domino mask. He looked very shocked at what just happened. “Oh gosh.” He said. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
    “Stupido.” I growled then stabbed at him with one of the knives. It penetrated though barely sunk in an inch. However, the jab did surprise the young man into jumping off of me. I scrambled to my feet.
    From above I heard “I’m coming down.” And then Siege-Breaker was there with us. He charged the boy in yellow, who yelled “oh jeez!” before engaging with Siege-Breaker.
    Another voice sounded from above, this time from the one eyed gun fighter. “Pete! Get out of Meredith’s lab! Don’t break anything!” There was gunfire above and more yells of alarm from my crew mates.
    I summoned a cutlass and leaped over a set of science equipment in this laboratory. I slashed at the boy, hitting him in the back. He took it in stride however and turned to grab me, then throw me into Siege-Breaker. Siege-Breaker landed flat on his back but I rolled over him as we landed and regained my feet quickly. The boy seemed pleasantly surprised that the maneuver worked but then got serious again when I leaped at him, slashing with wide, deadly cuts wherever I could land them. When he successfully dodged my 8th attack I decided to change tactic. I rushed in, clapped my off hand to the side of his head, spun and drove his head into the nearest object, which happened to be a computer monitor.
    Apparently that turned something on since the room began to hum with energy. 
    The boy kicked me off of him, picked up a crate of beakers and threw it at me. The crate hit me like a ton of bricks and knocked me onto my backside. Siege-Breaker had recovered by then and started stabbing at the boy with his flaming halberd. He nicked him a few times but the boy managed to get in close and wrestle Siege-Breaker to the ground with his superhuman strength. The boy then began to punch Siege-Breaker to try and keep him down. My crew mate didn’t have long until he was out cold.
    Then Final Breath just seemed to appear out of nothingness behind the boy and slashed him in the back with his katana. The blade didn’t go any deeper than mine did, but unlike my sword, Final Breath’s katana was coated in a fast acting poison.
    The hero in the yellow costume gasped and wretched but he had sense enough to turn and punch Final Breath right in the face, which laid him out. Siege-Breaker recovered his halberd and stabbed at the hero from the floor. The boy backed away and dived into the secure, explosion proof room in the laboratory. He slammed the door shut while Siege-Breaker got up.
    Siege_Breaker was about to attempt to open the door when I called out. “No, just leave him. Seal him inside the room.” My past experiences with this hero told me that engaging with him was very risky, even compared to most of the powerhouses of the universe. Siege-Breaker obeyed my command and used his flaming halberd to melt the locks on the door, preventing them from opening again.
    I helped Final Breath off the floor then summoned a grappling hook to get myself to the floor above, where the other heroes were doubtlessly fighting with the rest of my crew. 
    From inside the lab’s shelter, I heard the boy say, “Come on. Something’s got to work.” while he seemed to be pushing buttons at random.
    Then there was a flash of purple energy in one of the science canisters at the end of the room and a time portal opened. “Dios Mio.” I cursed. “What now?” I got a new gun and aimed it at the portal.
    When i saw what stepped through, I couldn’t believe my eyes. “You have got to be kidding me.” 
 

BrianleWolfhunt
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Last seen: 15 hours 32 min ago
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Joined: Jul 13, 2017

-Greeting Sentinel Comics fans. A time portal has opened up in the Freedom Tower during La Capitán's raid. Who is the newcomer to the scene, and how will they mess with La Capitán's plans? Find out in todays issue.

 

Chapter 2
La Capitán the younger

    The woman who stepped from the portal had Spanish features, a young face, a bandana over her beautiful brown hair, a sword, a gun, and a large grin.
    She was me, but roughly 15 years younger.
    “Ahoy mateys!” Young Capitán shouted. Her voice was mine but younger and more high pitched. “I seemed to have stumbled upon quite the brawl! Let me in on the action!”
    I pointed my gun at me and said “Turn back around if you know what is good for you.”
    She looked at me and recognized herself. “Are you me? Soy bonita.” She grinned. “However, there is stuff here that I want, so how about you get out of my way, Abuela.”
    I looked to the side at my crew mates. “Attack her. No mercy.”
    Siege-Breaker looked surprised. “But isn’t she you?”
    I glanced at Geremio. “I don’t care.” I looked back at Young Capitán and fired my gun.
    Young me knew the shot was coming so she opened a portal in front of her and my bullet disappeared into it. Young Capitán then closed the portal and charged me with her sword. 
    I blocked the first few strikes and struck back. She seemed to phase out of existence then appear in front of Siege-Breaker, jabbing him a few times with her sword. She then ported right over to Final Breath, stabbing him in the side. She ported again but I, expecting it, stabbed behind me. It caught Young Capitán in the arm. I turned and grabbed her just as she ported again to the floor above, taking me with her.
    We both fell to the ground. I attempted to restrain her but she kicked me right in the face and scrambled away. She retrieved a gun and shot at me while running off. The shot impacted the floor next to me. In response I summoned my own gun and fired back. My bullet grazed her shoulder. She dived around a hall corner. I got up and chased her. 
    When I rounded the corner, I saw Young Capitán dueling with L’Épeiste while Mabel and Battle Forged took cover from the cold beams the mech hero was firing. L’Épeiste slashed at her head but she ducked, turned, opened a portal and thrust her sword through it. A portal opened behind L’Épeiste and her sword came out of it, hitting L’Épeiste in the back. He cried out in pain and fell to the side. 
    Young Capitán looked back at me and took off again. I called to my crew. “Mabel! Stop her!”
    Mabel looked at young me, started in surprise, then leaped at her. She used her legs to grab Young Capitán’s and trip her up. Mabel then rolled off and aimed a kick at Young Capitán. The young pirate made a quick emergency gesture and Mabel was suddenly encased in purple energy, morphing her body into different versions of herself. She felt the anomaly and began to freak out as different versions of her fought for control over the space she occupied.
    Young me quickly looked around and saw the time ship. She grinned at the sight of La Paradoja Magnifica and ran towards it. However, Battle Forged and the ice hero were in the way.
    The ice hero, upon seeing Young Capitán, wasted no time in firing a cold blast at her. In response, she used another amount of purple chronal energy and created a space between them where time seemed to affect things strangely. The cold blast dissipated, Battle Forged collapsed and groaned, the ice hero cried out in shock and pain as his suit rusted and broke apart.
    Young Capitán didn’t even look to see the results of her actions. She just continued to run for the gangplank of the timeship. She would have made it there too if the gunslinger hero hadn’t intervened. One moment, Young Capitán was running towards my ship at a full sprint, the next, there was a loud detonation and she stood stock still as an electric round slammed into her, causing her whole body to stiffen from the electric shock and then she knelt on the ground in pain. 
    And then the consequences of Young Capitán’s chronal plane shifting made itself known as the ice man in the wrecked suit cried out in agony as lukewarm air came into contact with his impossibly cold skin and reacted, outputting a massive explosion of cold. The air seemed to solidify and any moisture that was present turned into jagged flecks of ice that flew in every direction. The area was complete chaos. I managed to avoid the worst of it, but my crew members were not so lucky. Trueshot, who tried to intercept Young Capitán, was laying on the ground, skin cracked and brittle from the moisture leaving her body and the ice particles hitting her. Battle Forged seemed to be frozen solid. In the center of the explosion, the ice man was incased in a man sized block of ice, and he was slowly coating his exposed skin with sheets of ice from within.
    I ran to Battle Forged and used a portal to grab an item from the timeship’s cargo hold. I took a magic rug from ancient Arabia and placed it over my crew mate. “Get up Orinn! I need you alive!” The fire in the rug heated the old viking up to a point where he could move again. I kept the rug wrapped around him as I pulled him up.
    The rest of my crew had finally caught up with me. Chip helped Trueshot get up and Siege-Breaker was carrying an unconscious Mabel. We continued on towards La Paradoja Magnifica, passing by the ice man as we went. He watched us from behind his temporary prison.
    We made it to the gangplank and I let my crew onto the ship first. They piled in one by one. I looked around. To my left I could see the gunslinger, who just reloaded her weapons and was getting ready to fire again. To my right, the alien lady had resumed normal size and looked ready to grow again to stop me. Behind me, the ice man broke his prison and prepared another blast. It was time to go.
    I summoned another gun and fired three quick shots, barely even bothering to properly aim at the heroes, then I retreated up the gangplank back onto the ship. I rushed to the helm while one of my crew brought the plank on board. I wasted no time moving the ship while I felt cold blasts and gunfire rain on me and my crew. In my peripheral, I could see the alien step back from the building, as if preparing to take a running leap. I was not taking any chances at this point. The last thing I needed was a giant alien on board the ship and tearing it apart. I called to my crew. “Portside cannons, Fire! Fire! Fire!” A few of my relatively unhurt crew mates scrambled to the cannons and one of them managed to fire off a single shot towards the Freedom Tower as we fled. The shot hit the building a couple floors below the one we were just on, but it was enough to rock the building and provide us that necessary time to escape. We sped off into empty air and i quickly opened a portal, draining the last of my reserves to get La Paradoja Magnifica out of the timeline. I held on to the helm tightly to maintain our course as we sailed through into the portal.
    Pain and pleasure, noise and silence, and all sorts of esoteric thoughts raced through us, almost unnoticed through our weariness. After a single moment that lasted ages we made it through and arrived outside of time.
    For a moment there was silence among us. We just took some time to breathe and collect our thoughts. Things seemed to go completely wrong too quickly. The fight was going fine, and then everything completely fell apart. I looked down at my crew. They didn’t look good. Chip and Final Breath were attending to medical duties, moving from person to person and checking their wounds. It seemed like Mabel was worst off. Whatever anomaly that Young me had wrapped her up in seemed to severely hurt her, but it was difficult to tell the extent of the damage. After her was Battle Forged, who was vigorously trying to restore feeling in his arm but had a lot of trouble moving. He was probably frostbitten in several places. L'Épeiste was dealing with a few broken ribs and a stab wound in the back. Even as he worked to help the others, Chip was also nursing a lot of nasty bruises. Siege-Breaker, Final Breath and Trueshot seemed to have been lucky enough to get out of there with only minor injuries. 
    I looked ahead of the ship and deemed it safe enough to lock the helm on its current course. I walked down to the main deck with the rest of my crew. I moved over to Mabel and knelt besides the acrobat’s form. She was breathing and moving, but not conscious. I attempted to get a feel for the energies that she endured. I got a general idea but not specifics. I did what I could, siphoning off the energies and reversing the physical and mental strain of the anomaly she endured.
    After I finished, I felt a gauntleted hand on my shoulder. “We need to have a meeting.” Siege-Breaker said.
    I sighed and turned around to face my crew. All of them were looking at me. “What is the issue?” I asked of them.
    Siege-Breaker took the lead. “This most recent excursion, I think we can all agree, was a disaster. We came in, kicked in the door, then we came out with no plunder and many wounds. Most of us nearly died in there. We are not even sure if Mabel will make it.”
    “We’ve had setbacks like this before.” I replied.
    “Oui.” L'Épeiste said. “But more than I am comfortable with.”
    “We have been lucky so far.” Chip chimed in. “We have only had cuts and scrapes and the occasional rescue. However, more and more often we are ending up in situations that have gone close to killing us or leaving us stranded in locations and times that we can’t survive.” 
    “We take too many risks.” Trueshot added. 
    I looked at my crew. “So what are you saying?”
    Siege-Breaker spoke again. “I think it is time for a change of leadership.”
    For a second I didn’t understand what he was saying. Then it hit me. I stood there, surprised and silent. “So.” I said as calmly as I could manage. “It is mutiny then.”
    Chip spoke again. “Please understand Maria, we don’t mean you any malice.”
    Final Breath spoke from the side. “It is just an analysis of costs and benefits.” 
    “And what do you expect to do?” I asked them. “None of you can open the portals. None of you can navigate the seas. None of you can properly sail the ship. None of you would even be here, in this unique position of traveling through time, if it wasn’t for me and La Paradoja Magnifica.”
    Battle Forged glared. “If it wasn’t for you and your timeship, I would still be in Jutland, blissfully ignorant of the vast extent of the world. I would not have known about the destruction of my people, the abandoning of my way of life, or how the world casts aside the old generations like last supper’s bones. I would not stare into the void every night and worry about what lurks within. And for all that, I have you to thank for.”
    “I agree.” Trueshot added. “And what is more, you yourself are the one who messed up our raid today. It was an earlier version of you who leaped in and ruined everything. It was you who stabbed Pierre, you who caused Orinn to get frozen, and who did that to Mabel.” She pointed at the unconscious acrobat. 
    I faced her. “I am not that woman. That woman died a long time ago.”
    “Don’t pretend you didn’t used to be that person.” Trueshot shot back. “Don’t pretend you didn’t knowingly do those things the first time around. You did, and you still went on that raid. You still risked our lives, and for what? Your own amusement and sense of entitled glory?”
    I summoned an energy gun and pointed it at her. “Think your words carefully before you raise your voice again.”
    I heard weapons leave sheaths and holsters as my crew reacted to my outburst. The tension rose in the air until someone else called out.
    “Ahoy niños!” Young Capitán shouted from the helm. We all turned in surprise to see young me pointing two guns at us, one of them an 18th century flintlock, the other a 21st century uzi. “If you would all be so kind as to drop your weapons, walk to the sides, and throw yourselves overboard, I would be so pleased.”
    My crew froze. My gun was on Trueshot, who hadn’t armed herself, and Chip’s guns were not up and ready. Nobody had an easy shot at the younger me. 
    L'Épeiste looked around and then dropped his sword. Chip and Final Breath followed suit. Young Capitán grinned at us and gestured to me. “Y tú, Maria.”
    I looked at Trueshot and the rest of my crew and made a choice. I spun and fired my gun at Young Capitán. She apparently failed to anticipate my action and flinched away from the gunfire. I then got to the helm the quickest way I knew how. I portaled up. I landed next to young me with a sword in my hand and a mind full of self loathing, rage, and frustration. I unleashed on her.
    She dropped her uzi in an instant, instinctually summoning her own sword to defend herself. My first volley of blows earned me the satisfaction of seeing cuts on her forearm and kneecap, but she returned just as fast. Her cutlass made a cut in my side. She pushed me back and I nearly tripped over the ship’s wheel. Young Capitán lunged at me and I sidestepped. Her sword passed into the space between the handles of the wheel. I grabbed a portion of the wheel and turned it, catching the sword and bending it out of Young Capitán’s hand. 
    Now weaponless, Young Capitán backpedaled away from my reach. She looked harried, almost on the edge of panic as the situation escaped her grasp. Then she pulled the card that I always used when I was her age and things went wrong. She fell back on chronal power. She formed a ball of purple energy in her hands and then extended it out to the ships top deck. However, I was ready. As the energies hit us, surrounding us in a large anomaly, I used my own energies as a countermeasure. Young Capitán, failing to see my response, then collapsed the spherical anomaly with us inside. Space constricted us both inside, crushing us, and then the pressure of the constricted non-space forced the energies outward, knocking us both to the ground. Young me reacted quickly, trying desperately to open some entryway to another world. I blasted her with my own energies, disrupting her attempts, forcing open a portal to a time neither of us planned for.
    I tried my best to ignore the sensations of moving through the portal so I could continue to fight my young adult self. I could barely manage to move slowly towards her while La Paradoja Magnifica sailed turbulently through the portal.
    Young Capitán was slowly picking herself up after the portal travel but I did not give her the opportunity. I placed a summoned gun against her head. “I will say this once. Get off my ship.”
    Then I heard Trueshot call to me from the Main deck. “Maria!”
    Both me and my double looked to the front of the ship. We were sailing straight in the direction a tall mountain range. I abandoned my captive and rushed to the helm, frantically turning it to starboard. La Paradoja Magnifica began to turn but now sharply enough. The timeship’s underside scraped on the top of a mountain. The impact sent my entire crew sprawling. To the port side i saw Trueshot fall over the side. Chip, thinking on his feet, jumped after her while being connected to a safety rope. 
    I tried to raise the timeship above the mountaintops but Young Capitán rushed to my side and grabbed the wheel trying to take it from me. “The ship is mine!” She yelled. We wrestled for control of the timeship, preventing it from changing course. I briefly saw Chip pulling Trueshot back onto the deck with Battle Forged’s help before we hit another rocky cliff. This one impacted even harder against the ship’s hull and I felt pieces fall off the bottom of the ship. We started going down.
    I turned and slapped Young Capitán, causing her to stagger. I yelled “Basta!” and stabbed at her with my sword. She created a portal and backed through it to avoid my sword. I just reached further and stabbed my sword into the portal. When I withdrew it, my sword had blood on it. Her portal then closed and she was nowhere in sight. I threw my sword down in disgust and returned to the wheel to try to regain control.
    La Paradoja Magnifica was unresponsive. The crash must have taken out her rudder and I could no longer steer the ship. I looked forward again just in time to witness the ship bump against a mountain and bounce off. L'Épeiste looked back at me and yelled, “Maria! Do something!”
    I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t steer the ship, nor could I stop it. The ship bounced off another mountain and Final Breath was thrown off. Nobody could get him. The fall was too far. I instinctually activated a portal where he fell and he disappeared inside. 
    Another crash broke off a section of the main deck, taking Chip and Trueshot with it. I activated another portal to catch them as well. Little by little my entire crew fell off the ship and I had to save them until it was just me and L'Épeiste left. He looked at me. “We need to go, Capitán.”
    “This is my ship. I will not leave her. Go.” I opened a portal next to him.
    L'Épeiste looked into the portal then back to me.
    “The captain goes down with her ship.” I told him.
    L'Épeiste looked at the portal again and said, “No, mon ami.” He suddenly reached over, grabbed me by the collar of my jacket and pulled us both through the portal.
    We fell through to the other side. I fell on top of my crew mate in the sand. I pushed up and slapped L'Épeiste. “Insubordinate little worm!” I yelled, then I looked up. I could see the flying wreckage of La Paradoja Magnifica. it ricocheted off another mountain before sailing out of sight. I expected to hear the ship crash headlong into a jagged peak but there was nothing. Me and L'Épeiste waited for the inevitable sound of the crash. We never heard it. After a few minutes I felt it, some kind of break in my chest. I felt light headed and purple energy started seeping from my body. I fell to my knees, too stuck in the sensations to hear L'Épeiste’s shouts of alarm. I barely had enough presence of mind to register the enormous emotional and physical pain. It was like nothing I had ever felt. It was like a piece of my soul was being ripped out of my body. I felt every inch it but I was still detached from it somehow. I knelt there, wallowing in my pain and grief while my head froze in that moment.
    It felt like an eternity before my mind began to come back together. I began to feel the pain more. It wasn’t that the pain increased, but it simply became more relevant in my mind. I could feel sensations in my hands and feet again. I blinked and realized that I had cried. I vaguely heard Pierre’s voice next to me, trying to get my attention. I slowly turned my head to look at him.
    “Maria? Can you hear me?” The musketeer asked.
    I struggled to string words together. “Where… are we?”
    “We are in the Final Wasteland, Maria.” L'Épeiste answered with half relief and half fear.
    I looked around and saw that he was right. The surroundings that we had landed was indeed the Final Wasteland. It was the end of time.

BrianleWolfhunt
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 32 min ago
Playtester
Joined: Jul 13, 2017

-Greetings Sentinels fan, and what a predicament Maria Helena got into this time. After a long fight with herself, La Capitán and her crew find themselves stranded in the Final Wasteland, the future earth filled with desolation and monsters. Will she reunite with the crew and return to the timeship? Read on.

 

Chapter 3
The Final Wasteland

    The air was stale. That was hardest thing to get used to. It felt like the air never moved. Everything was eerily quiet. There were vast expanses of sand and rock, stopped every now and then by the occasional silent forest. As far as I could tell, nothing existed out here.
    Of course, that was a fiction. There were living creatures all over the place, but they were either not around or they were very quiet. 
    I sat in the tiny hovel that L'Épeiste made for me. It was rough and small but it kept the cold out. It only had space for the bundle of leaves and dirt that I used for a bed as well as a tiny fireplace. I had been in this place for a while. I couldn’t tell how long. I wasn’t sure what had happened to me.
    L’Éeiste walked into the hovel. He had discarded his musketeer’s jacket in favor of an undershirt. His attire was dirty and rumpled, a far cry from the immaculate look he always wore. He carried an animal the size of a dog, some form of lizard by the looks of it. He placed it on the floor. “Voilà. Le dîner.” He said matter-of-factly before he began to gather sticks to start a fire. 
    “How long has it been Pierre?” I asked him.
    “About four days, Maria.”
    “And still no sign of the crew?”
    “I am afraid not.”
    “They have to be somewhere nearby. The instinctual portals I made wouldn’t have the substance to make them go far.”
    “Oui. I worry about them. This place isn’t hospitable to us.”
    I sat there and thought for a while. I stared into the fire. The same thoughts that plagued my mind the past few days returned. What do I do now? I don’t dare use any more time energy, nor can we stay here. I need to somehow find my crew, find the ship, then fix it, all the while staying out of the way of the many predators of this land and surviving the harsh conditions. 
    I was in the middle of eating part of the lizard’s hindquarters when I decided on the next part of the plan. “Pierre, I think it is time to make some kind of signal for the rest of the crew.”
    L’Épeiste looked at me. “How do we do that Maria?”
    I gestured in the direction of the mountains. “Pick a mountain. Get to the top. Light signal fires. Our crew should see it and be able to get to us in a few days.”
    Pierre mulled it over. “And what if zis signal attracts hunters?”
    “Then we deal with them and stand our ground.”
    He shook his head. “Are you sure? Getting there is one thing but holding out for days while we wait for the crew? Do you think we can even do that?”
    “At this point, la pregunta isn’t ‘can we do it?’, it’s ‘what else can we do?’. There isn’t an easy way of finding the crew. This is the best option we have.”
    Pierre paused and took a breath, preparing himself for his next words. “And if I were to disagree with you? What if I left you behind to go my own way?”
    I sighed. I was expecting this, but I still hoped I wouldn’t have to face this. I dropped the demeanor of the captain. I looked Pierre in the eyes. “Pierre, I’m not asking this of you as tu Capitán. I ask it as ton ami. I know you need me in order to leave this timeline, but I do not think I can do it without you. I can’t do it without the crew. I need you all. And I feel guilty for all of this. I feel guilty for taking you from your blissful ignorance. I feel guilty for all the damage I have done when I was young. I feel guilty for the events that led us here, stranded in a hostile time. We may all die here and it would be all my fault.” I looked away from Pierre, into the fire. “I’m sorry Pierre. I’m sorry Charles, Mabel, Orinn, Ishikawa, Khutulan, and Geremio. I did not mean for any of this to happen.” I closed my eyes and shivered, despite the warmth of the mounting flames. 
    There was a long pause before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see Pierre smiling down at me. “All you needed to say was ‘please’.” He knelt next to me. “This might have been a long time coming.” He drew his sword and held in sideways in his hands. “I, Pierre Le Vignierz, also known as L’Épeiste, do hereby offer my loyalty, fealty, and friendship to Maria Helena Teresa Fafila Servanda Jimena Mansuara Paterna Domenga Gelvira Placia Sendina Belita Eufemia Columba Gontina Aldonza Mafalda Cristina Tegrida de Falcon. If you would have me, the I am your man until the end of time.” 
    I was stunned. I had never received on oath of fealty, not even from my own crew. This was more than I ever expected from them. I stood and gently took the sword from his grasp. “I, Maria Helena, do hereby accept your oath.” I touched his sword to his shoulders. “Rise Pierre, as my vassal and confidant.” Pierre rose to his feet and accepted his sword back.
    He looked me in the eyes and said, “Sleep well tonight mi Capitán. We have a long climb tomorrow.”
    After a long and restful night, the two of us began hiking. L’Épeiste led the way with me following behind. It was strange, spending so much time walking. After the first few hours I realized how exhausting it could be. I had been sailing for decades and I was not used to walking these sorts of distances. 
    Everything was quiet. Neither me or Pierre ever dared to speak. It was if the land itself was listening closely, searching for the slightest of sounds. I distinctly heard every footstep, every broken twig, and the rustling of the leaves in the wind.
    It was this distinct silence that warned us of an unwelcome presence. A slight crack in the woods ahead of us. When we heard it, we both froze. Through the brush and rocks ahead there came another crack. Me and my friend crept closer and as silently as we could and opened up the bushes and peered through.
    In short bowshot away from us came the source of the sounds. A big creature was hunched over another of the lizard animals that we ate last night. The cracking sounds seemed to be coming from the beast breaking the bones of its prey as it feasted on it. The hunter creature was this tall and lean humanoid shaped creature, except for the head. The head appeared rodent-like. It had beady eyes and a long snout with prominent front teeth, chipped and worn with use. It continued its feast, oblivious to our presence. 
    L’Épeiste looked to me. He mouthed the words, “Now what?”
    I looked around. There were plenty of trees and other sorts of cover. I turned back to L’Épeiste. I pointed at myself and made a subdued explosion gesture. Then I pointed at him, made a circle motion, then a stabbing motion. L’Épeiste nodded, acknowledging my plan to distract him while he sneaks around. He moved out of the bushes and to the side. I waited for a count of forty before I started to shake the bush. The creature heard the sound and turned its head to stare in my direction. I stopped and waited. The rat beast walked towards me. It would have seen me already, but its rat eyes might not yet be able to see me. I eased out of the bush. The rat beast hissed and crouched, eyeing me warily. 
    “Luchame, rata!” I barked at it. It recoiled slightly from my shout before it growled and charged at me. It swung its claws at me and I scooted to the side. It turned to face me and I raised my boot to kick it right it its nose. It backed away, clawed at its snout, then glowered at me. It raised its clawed hands up to slash them down on my face. I stepped in, raised my arms and caught the rat beast’s arms at the wrists. It growled at me and gave a scratchy roar right into my face. I felt spittle hit my cheek as it roared. It got ready for a burst of furious movement when a shaft of sharp metal sprouted from the back of the beast’s mouth, ending a couple of inches away from my face. L’Épeiste’s rapier sat there for a second while the beast gurgled weakly. The musketeer then withdrew his blade and the creature fell to the side, dead.
    I wiped the rat spittle off my cheek. “That was a full diez segundos. What took you so long?” 
    Pierre shrugged. “I was curious what you would do. You normally grab a weapon from elsewhere.”
    I shook my head. “I don’t dare do that. With La Paradoja Magnifica gone, I don’t know if I can use the chronal energies. I haven’t tried since the crash.”
    L’Épeiste nodded. “I see. Still, that was a very nice kick. Mabel teach you that one?”
    “Ishikawa actually. He taught me a few things about unarmed combat.” I nodded at the path. “Lets move. I imagine the noise may draw more of them here. I’d rather be long gone.” We continues up the mountain.
    As we moved, the mountain inevitably got steeper. What was a leisurely ramp soon became nearly precipitous. Our progress slowed. Our feet ached. The sun seemed to be in different places in the sky every few seconds. More than once either L’Épeiste or myself nearly fell, either to the threat of loss of progress or loss of life.
    There was also evidence of more creatures on these mountains. I found different forms of droppings and we ran across a few corpses of different animals. A few of the lizards, some rat beasts, and a few other creatures we had yet to identify. It soon became clear to us that there were more dangerous monsters around.
    It had gotten dark enough to force us to stop climbing. We found a mostly flat rocky area to set up camp. We didn’t dare light a fire as it may pinpoint our spot to whatever creature lives here.
    My troubled sleep ended in the middle of the night. I heard footsteps somewhere nearby. I looked to the side. L’Épeiste was still asleep in his makeshift bed. I looked around slowly. All I could see were trees and rocks. The footsteps sounded again. They sounded heavy but careful, like whatever was making them was large but was perfectly capable of moving quietly. I stared in its direction. I reached over and picked up L’Épeiste’s rapier and drew it silently from its leather sheath. I waited, not wanting to provoke the creature by activating the energy stored in the blade. In the trees I could see some shadowy form. It was difficult to make out but it was large. I could see its eyes though. They reflected the faint moonlight, making them the only part of it I could see clearly. 
    I pointed the sword at it. “Get back.” I told it. The creature seemed unimpressed. It pushed a bush to the side. I activated the energy sword. The blade suddenly lit up with light and gave off a slight hum. The creature retreated behind the bushes, hiding away from the glow. I growled and stepped forward. “Back!” I snarled. The creature stepped away from me. There was silence for a while, then the creature backed out of sight and went away. I stood there longer, waiting for the creature to come back. When it became clear that it left, I finally deactivated the energy sword, placed it back in its sheath, and sat on my bed again. 
    However, i couldn’t sleep. Now I was paranoid. I kept the sword close and sat there.
    Some time later the sun came up. I could see it through a gap in the trees. Our vantage point gave me a good view of the wasteland. The rising sun lost its meaning when the landscape seemed just as dead during the day as it did in the night. It didn’t bring the promise of a new day nor did it evoke a new beginning. It just seemed like a reset, like time will forever just loop over and over.
    L’Épeiste woke up when the sun crested the horizon. He rolled over and saw me. “How long have you been up?” He asked.
    “As far as I know, all night.” I set his sword next to him.
    “Merde, Capitán. You should have woken me if you were going to take a watch.”
    “I couldn’t sleep anyway. Now get up. We should have a quick meal and then we are going to continue.”
    “Maria, you shouldn’t exhaust yourself. That won’t help any of us.”
    I tossed him a tiny ration bag that we always carried for emergencies like this. “No point in arguing about this. I wanted to protect us and I did. Hopefully we will find more of the crew and we can set up a watch schedule. Until then, I won’t be able to sleep well.”
    L’Épeiste looked worried but he didn’t pursue the issue any further. We ate in silence before returning to our hike. The trail continued to get steeper as we climbed up. The trees became less frequent, replaced by rocks. It also got colder and dryer as we moved up. With fewer trees, wind became more apparent and cut through my jacket. Dust and flecks of snow drifted towards us from the top of the mountain, as if the trek was not unpleasant enough. All the while I was looking over my shoulder, expecting a monster to pounce on us at any moment.
    We reached what seemed to be a sheer wall of rock. I looked up to the top and deduced that we could get over it if one of us gave the other a boost. I turned to L’Épeiste. “You want to go first?” I asked him.
    “Oui. I’ll go.” I knelt and held out my arms. L’Épeiste placed his foot in my hand and jumped up. I raised my hands as he jumped and he was propelled to the top of the wall and he strained as he pulled himself up. I watched him vanish over the wall. He stood up and shook his arms. “That wasn’t too bad.” He turned to look at me. “Now, jump up to grab my hand and…” He looked behind me. “Maria! Look out!”
    I spun around and saw a large creature reach out and grab me, slamming me against the stone wall. Then it picked me up and tossed me away as if I weighed nothing. I hit the ground hard. I picked myself up a bit and looked at the monster that threw me as easily as a discus. The creature was some giant white ape with huge feet and long arms. It had the same eyes as the creature I saw last night. I could recognize a yeti when I saw one, but a giant hostile gorilla was not something I was prepared to fight. It roared and charged at me, raising its arms to smash down on my body. I rolled to the side to avoid the strike, got on my knees, and jumped into a roll to gain some distance. The yeti swung a long arm at me and I ducked to avoid it. It launched another punch at me and I avoided it again. I saw an opening and managed to step in, raise my fist, and smash it into the yeti’s jaw. Its head moved about a quarter inch from the blow. My fist felt like I just punched a tree. “owwwww”. I groaned, stumbling back.
    The yeti grabbed me by the neck with one of its huge hands. I choked as it cut off my air supply. It lifted me off my feet and put my face on the level with its eyes. It stared at me, as if it wanted to sadistically look me in the eyes when it crushed my head.
    There was a loud bang and something impacted the yeti’s head. It recoiled and dropped me. I took a gasp of air and shuffled away from the creature instinctively. I looked back, and at the top of the wall stood L’Épeiste and a familiar man in a leather aviator’s jacket.
    “Chip!” I cried out.
    “Get over here Capitán!” He called back.
    I ran in his direction but the ground trembled from the yeti’s stomping run and I stumbled. I felt the yeti behind me, trying to finish me off when I saw a person run in my direction, jump, and kick with both feet into the ape. The dazed yeti was knocked back and, to my surprise, Mabel picked herself off the ground, turned and helped me up. “Captain shouldn’t be on the ground. Let’s move.” She told me. I didn’t stop to think about the situation. I just ran for it.
    We reached the wall and L’Épeiste reached down. I jumped and caught his hand and he pulled me up. Mabel didn’t bother with help. She simply ran up the wall and caught the edge. The yeti beneath us pounded the rock wall, shaking the earth. It jumped and grabbed the edge of the wall. Me and the crew backed up as the yeti raised its head over the wall to chase after us. It glared at us, displaying broken skin at the forehead where Chip’s bullet bounced off of it. It heaved itself up but before it could get a good footing on the edge, an arrow buzzed from behind us, whistling in the space between us and the beast before slamming directly in the yeti’s left eye. The yeti let go of the edge with one hand to clutch at the tiny arrow shaft.
    I turned to see Trueshot, bow in hand. She yelled “Finish it!” before grabbing another arrow. L’Épeiste ran in and stabbed his rapier into the yeti’s other eye before activating the energy sword, searing the inside of the yeti’s skull. The beast cried out in extraordinary pain and flailed with its free hand, hitting L’Épeiste in the leg and tripping him up. The yeti stopped flailing and pulled itself the rest of the way up.
    I could see panic on the faces of Chip and Mabel. The giant white gorilla had just had both of its eyes put out and yet it would not die. Then I had a thought. If the yeti had similar anatomy to a human, then the forehead would be tough, but…
    I turned to Chip and held out a hand. “Gun.” I commanded. He gave me one of his guns without question. I took it and turned to Mabel, holding out the gun. “Side of the skull.” I told her. She looked at me in confusion then seemed to get it and took the gun. 
    The Amazing Mabel ran towards the yeti, who was still flailing around trying to get L’Épeiste. Mabel ran to its side, sliding under a swinging arm. She then jumped onto the yeti’s back, grabbing onto its fur. She climbed up to the monster’s neck, clinging tightly to avoid getting flung. She then took the gun, set it against the yeti’s skull, above the ear, and fired. 
    The yeti’s head jerked forward and it dropped to the ground. The beast landed with a thud and Mabel rolled off over its shoulder before looking back at the beast. We waited, half expecting the dead creature to rise again. It took a full minute before we began to relax. 
    Chip faced me and L’Épeiste. “You are alive? Thank the lord. We were starting to wonder if we would find any of us.”
    I looked at him, Trueshot, and Mabel. “I’m glad you are alive as well.” I turned my attention to Mabel. “You recovered?
    She nodded. “Thanks to Chip. Khutulan found us yesterday. We were hoping to find the rest of us.”
    “Something we must return to.” Trueshot said. “I am glad to see that you are alive, Maria. However, we need to make a signal fire to bring the others here.” 
    L’Épeiste looked up. “That’s what we were going to do.”
    Trueshot nodded. “Glad someone had a good idea.”
    “La Capitán came up with the plan.”
    Trueshot looked at me. “Right.” She turned and walked away, continuing up the mountain.
    I looked at my other crew members. “Is she alright?”
    “Give her time, darling.” Mabel reassured. “She’s just overtired.”
    “No.” I corrected her. “She is angry at me. I will need to talk to her.” I turned to Mabel. “Still, I am glad you are alright. How did you recover?”
    Mable shrugged. “Chip looked after me. It wasn’t all that serious.”
    I raised an eyebrow at her, not believing her calm remark. I made a note to talk with her as well.
    “Lets go.” Chip said. “The summit isn’t far. We already set up a camp there and gathered up some firewood.”
    My crew walked off towards the summit. I turned back to the dead body of the yeti, lifted its head, and pulled the arrow out of its eye. “Was it worth it, amigo?” I taunted it before joining my crew to finish the climb.
 

BrianleWolfhunt
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 32 min ago
Playtester
Joined: Jul 13, 2017

-La Capitán has reunited with some of her disperate crew, but the journey is far from over. More dangers lie ahead for the crew of La Paradoja Magnifica.

Editors note-- due to the long history of Sentinel Comics, some issues were difficult to find, so therefor a few key issues detailing the backstories of the crew were unnavailable for refference at the time of writing. As such, some characters' backstories and motivations might not fully match their original versions. We appreciate the understanding of our loyal readers and hope you enjoy the story regardless.

 

Chapter 4
Balefire

    The moon shone brightly at the top of the mountain. It was bright enough that we didn’t need any assistance to see and move around. I sat at the top of the mountain, a stone peak with frost covering every surface. It was cold up here. I held my jacket tight around me. I began to notice that it was getting a little worn and the fighting I had been doing here was not helping. The knuckles on my glove were slightly torn from where I punched the yeti. There were tiny cuts in my jacket from tumbling around during that fight as well. My boots probably needed new soles. 
    I looked down from the mountaintop. More mountains to my right and forest to my left. There were badlands in the distance. The only movement in the area I could see was some form of flying creature that soared over the forests and badlands. I searched for some indicator of where my ship was. 
    There was a tiny glint of light on the horizon. I looked straight at it, trying to see what was making that small radiance. It seemed to be moonlight reflecting off of something, likely metal. I made a note of the location, to make sure to check in that direction when it was light.
    “Capitán.” A voice said from behind me.
    I turned to see Trueshot. “What is it Khutulan?”
    “Permission to ask a question?”
    “Granted.” I said, tersely.
    Trueshot nodded. “What is your plan?”
    “We light the fire in the morning and wait here for the crew, or until we see sign of them.”
    “And if they don’t show up?”
    “Then we use all the firewood, wait a few days, then assume they are dead and we begin searching for the ship.”
    Trueshot frowned. “And afterwards? What happens when we find the ship?”
    I thought about it. “Yo no sé. Maybe we continue, business as usual. Maybe we stop. I suppose we will discuss it then.”
    Trueshot waited, as if choosing her words carefully. “I respect you Capitán, which is why I want to talk to you.”
    I offered her a seat next to me. She sat there, crisscross and facing me. She watched me with the same expression she used when she watched a target she was aiming at. “I got the feeling you wanted to speak to me.” I told her.
    Trueshot just looked at me. “Why did you recruit us in the first place.”
    I shrugged. “I wanted to explore the sea of time but the way I did it beforehand wasn’t the right way. I hoped I would find other, like-minded people to explore with me.”
    “And you picked us up.” Trueshot finished. “You promised adventure, glory, and riches. You have provided those things. It’s been enjoyable but I am not sure I can do it anymore.”
    “Does this mean you are going to leave the crew?” I asked her.
    She paused, not answering. Instead she asked another question. “Have you ever considered having children? Starting a family?”
    I raised my eyebrow at the subject change. “I have considered it. I don’t think it is something I want.”
    “You are married to the ship then?”
    “Something like that. Why?”
    “When you picked me up I was already an outcast from the amazons. I have never told you why. It’s a little personal.” She took a breath. “When I was young and stupid, I grew interested in what I would come to know as men. I had seldom heard of them aside from occasional comment from the adults. So, in an action of rebellion, I once took a ship and sailed to the mainland to observe these creatures.”
    “Really?” I asked. “And what did you do when you found some?”
    “At first,” she answered, “I just observed from a distance. After some time I began to approach them and I befriended a few from a small village. And there was one man who I took a liking to.”
    “Sounds like an ideal situation.”
    “Yeah. Yeah it felt like it. Still, I wanted to share my home with him, so I took him to my island one day. That turned out to be a huge mistake.”
    “What happened?”
    “The amazons reacted poorly. They saw him and took him prisoner. They then put me on trial for endangering the homeland. I brought an untamed, unrestrained man into their home who could go back and reveal the location of the home to others. For a security breach that bad, I was given a choice. Either leave and never return or be put to death.”
    “Espere, Que?!” I exclaimed. “They threatened death or exile on the first infraction?”
    Khutulan chuckled, humorlessly. “I think the queen wanted to make an example of me to discourage other teenagers from doing things similar to what I did. But yeah. They gave me a bow, some rations, and dropped me on the coast of Crete.”
    “How awful.”
    She shrugged. “I have since decided that those people aren’t for me. They hold people back. I want to move forward, so I will find new people and make a new family.” 
    “Are we not the family you have been looking for?” I asked.
    “I used to think so.” She said in a low voice. “I don’t think so anymore. We go from place to place just taking things we like. I am not a thief. I am a huntress and a warrior. The years with you have been valuable, but I think it is time for me to leave.”
    “This crew won’t be the same without you, Khutulan.”
    “It might not be, but you don’t need me either. I will help you find the ship, but you must promise me that when we reach the time stream again, that you take me to a time and place of my choosing.”
    I sighed but decided that I had probably at least a few weeks to change her mind, and trying now would be pointless. “I hope you will reconsider, but if this is what you want then I will honer your request.”
    Trueshot nodded. “Thanks Capitán. Sleep well. We light the fire in the morning.”
    Dawn couldn’t come soon enough. The night was oppressively cold, making even what little sleep I got feel not at all fulfilling. At first light, I exited my small hovel and looked out onto the landscape. Trueshot was standing guard.
    “Buenos dias Trueshot.”
    “Capitán.” She greeted.
    “There was something I saw last night. Do you still have your portable spyglass?”
    Trueshot nodded and reached into her pack. She withdrew a bag small enough to fit into her palm. She removed an extendable casing and fitted a few lenses into the casing, creating a functional telescope in a small space. She handed the device to me.
    I put myself in the same spot I was last night and got my bearings. When I was sure of the direction the light came from, I started searching. It took a minute but I found the source of the light.
    I was disappointed. I hoped that the place would reveal La Paradoja Magnifica but she wasn’t there. Instead there was some building. It was made completely out of metal in a futuristic styling. It stood out like a sore thumb, a random intact building in the middle of a dark wasteland.
    “What do you see?” Trueshot asked.
    “Our next step.” I told her before returning the spyglass. By then the rest of the crew had stirred. I turned to face them. “My friends, shall we begin?”
    Mabel, L’Épeiste and Chip smiled up at me. “Aye Capitán.” They cheered.
    “Then let’s light it up, mateys!”
    Chip trotted over to the pile of firewood, lit a match, and started the fire. The dry leaves placed on the wood caught fire and within minutes a bright flame was dancing in the wind and a healthy plume of smoke floated into the air.
    It did not take long for the cryptids to take notice. Some form of gargoyle flew close to the mountain, giving a high pitched shriek before settling down on a neighboring mountain to watch us. Creatures stirred from below at the sight of the smoke. A small group of rat beasts gathered nearby, watching the camp, licking their teeth and preparing to attack. Chip and Trueshot stood at the edge of camp, aiming their weapons at the monsters.
    “Why are they waiting?” Mabel asked.
    “They may be gathering themselves.” I told them.
    Trueshot looked back at me briefly. “Then we should hit them while they are still timid.”
    “Agreed.” I said. “Attack.”
    Trueshot showed the slightest of smiles as she fired her arrow. The arrow impaled itself into one of the rat beasts. It crumpled to the floor. The other rats growled at us and charged. Trueshot hit another beast as they ran towards us. Chip fired his guns into the beasts, dropping a few more. A group of four rats reached them at that point and Chip and Trueshot slipped behind L’Épeiste and Mabel. The Acrobat and Musketeer blocked the rat advance with kicks and slashes. This group seemed defeated almost as quickly as the fight started. However, I could see another group behind them. Even as two of the rat creatures ran from us, covered in cuts and bruises, a whole other wave of creatures ran towards us.
    I looked around for more rat beasts, keeping an eye out for any other cryptids that could attack us. I heard a flap above my head and turned to see the gargoyle swooping down towards Mabel. I jumped over to push Mabel out of the way and the gargoyle landed atop me. It’s wings lowered around me, blocking the light and leaving me in darkness. The talons on its feet gripped my hip and side tightly, drawing blood, and it began to swing at me with its clawed hands. I tried to protect myself with my arms but I felt pain on my face and body. Then someone attacked the gargoyle, allowing some light in through the wings as it retaliated. L’Épeiste’s sword reached in and stabbed the creature in the pectoral. It released my body and stumbled off of me. I shifted my weight and kicked it, knocking it against the fire, singeing it’s wing. This gave L’Épeiste enough time to land a killing blow on the creature. 
    I groaned and stood up to examine the gargoyle. It was a little taller than I was, though skinnier. It’s skin was pale and leathery and each of its wings could wrap around its body twice over. On the ground it wasn’t too dangerous, it only got the best of me in the heat of an ambush, but in the air it would be a deadly hunter.
    Then I looked up to see more gargoyles swooping through the air, perhaps a dozen of them. “Chip!” I shouted. 
    Chip looked up from loading a new clip into his gun and sighed. “That might be a handful.” He pointed his guns upward at the gargoyles and fired. One or two of them dropped from the sky but the rest continued to soar down.
    It was a bad situation. We were under attack from the ground and the air and we did not have enough people to fight. I needed to do something. With nothing else to do, I concentrated hard and opened a portal. I gritted my teeth as I reached for the well of energy within, desperate for the drop I needed to grab an object. I stuck my hands into the portal, felt a pair of familiar objects, and pulled. They resisted and I had to yank and pull to drag them through the portal. They moved slowly, as if I was moving them through a jar of honey, before finally falling through on my side. I fell back from the sudden loss of resistance and I let the portal close on its own. I gasped for breath and looked at my hands. I was carrying a simple cutlass and a modified flintlock pistol. 
    The gargoyles were almost on top of us so I raised the gun and shot another gargoyle out of the sky. Then I twitched the gun to the side, turning the bullet chamber around so I could fire again without reloading. My second bullet hit a second flying monster which spiraled out of the sky and crashed into the mountain nearby. I then got to my feet and, as a gargoyle swooped overhead, I slashed it with my cutlass, opening its wing and sending it crashing to the ground.
    Four more of the beasts landed and attacked. One of them tackled Chip to the ground and slashed at his face. Chip tried to hit it with a bullet but the creature didn’t let him get a good shot at it. I ran in and cut the gargoyle’s head clean off. I put my gun in my pocket briefly so I could help Chip up.
    “Thanks.” Chip smiled up at me. The gargoyle must have gotten in a good cut as there was blood on his cheek and one of the safety glass lenses on his goggles had been knocked out.
     Mabel was behind me, engaging a rat beast and two gargoyles, zipping between the creatures, punching and kicking at them. She even spun upside-down on her hands while kicking out to hit all of them at once. It stunned them long enough for me to finish them off with ease. Mabel grinned and nodded at me before returning to the fight.
    Trueshot was off to the side, being menaced by more rat beasts and gargoyles. She launched an arrow into a rat’s head, backed up while getting another arrow, and fired into the gargoyle behind it. A gargoyle jumped on her from behind but she took another arrow from her hip quiver and stabbed it into the gargoyle. The monster released her and Trueshot turned and shot it, point blank, in the face. A rat creature was about to attack her but I rushed in and ran it through before it could get her. Khutulan then turned to me and shot another arrow right over my shoulder and into the eye of another rat beast. We nodded to each other in acknowledgement. 
    I ran to the front, where L’Épeiste was holding back a group of rat beasts that seemed to get larger every time I looked at it, no matter how many rat corpses piled up. I joined with him to face down the rat creatures. Our swords cut into the creatures like scythes into wheat but the tide didn’t stop. More kept showing up. L’Épeiste fell on his back while gutting another rat and more swarmed him. To protect him, I jumped to his defense.
    I slashed a few rats and kicked them off. After slashing and kicking away the beasts I took a brief glance at my friend and saw that one of the rats managed to bite down L’Épeiste’s shoulder, and Pierre was not getting up.
    I focused back on the rats, determined to keep them away from my crew. I slashed and shot at the creatures. I kicked them. I bashed them with my pistol’s barrel. I broke their legs. I shattered their teeth. I caught their tails. I cut their necks. I would have fought endlessly until every monster was dead and my crew was safe, but after some time, the adrenaline started to wear off. The rats and gargoyles were just too numerous. 
    A rat beast rammed me, bearing me to the ground. I barely managed to stop it from bitting me by stuffing my pistol in its mouth and firing my last bullet. I shoved the body off of me but two more grabbed at me, preventing me from standing. One of the rats went for my throat.
    Then there was no resistance. The rat that went for my throat suddenly was frozen. The other rat was on the ground, dead. I looked up over the first and saw a familiar face. 
    “By the beard of Odin,” A ragged looking viking exclaimed, “You are one tough woman.”
    “Orinn!” I grinned. “Did I steal all your action?”
    Battle Forged laughed. “Nope. You left plenty for me and the others.”
    “Others?” I asked. I looked around and saw that not only was Battle Forged here, but also Siege-Breaker and Final Breath. They were finishing off the last of the attacking swarm of monsters. The rest of the cryptids were finally in a full rout. We had won and the crew was together again.
    I allowed Chip to see to my wounds but I ordered Final Breath to check the others first, especially L’Épeiste. The musketeer wasn’t looking so good. 
    I sat with Battle Forged and Siege-Breaker and filled them in on what we had done since the crash. Afterwards they told me that after I teleported them to a safe place they were able to find each other after a few days but had begun to despair of finding the rest of us until they noticed activity on the mountain. They weren’t sure if it was us until about halfway up, which was when we lit the fire.
    “And it is a good thing we showed up.” Siege-Breaker said. “It was looking like you having some trouble.”
    “Yeah.” I responded. “Though it would have been worse if I didn’t risk myself in getting a weapon.”
    “You will need to get more bullets soon.” He reminded me. “A gun is unhelpful without ammunition.”
    I shook my head. “I know, but I just can’t right now. I’m too exhausted.”
    Battle forged slapped a hand on my shoulder and spoke to Siege-Breaker. “Let the capitán have her victory. She did good work today.”
    “Though the day is not over, it would seem.” Spoke Final Breath as he approached.
    I looked up at the Ronin. “How is the crew?” I asked.
    He bowed slightly. “Most of them will be fine. A couple simple bandages and minor anesthetics were all that was necessary. However, Pierre is not doing well. His bite wound might be infected and I don’t think my medicine is doing enough for it.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “I mean that if we don’t find some proper medicine, Pierre will die.

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-Greetings Sentinel fans What a situation we are in now. The crew is back together, but Pierre has been bitten by the rats and is getting deathly sick. What will Maria Helena do to protect her crew? Keep reading and find out.

 

Chapter 5
Gunslinger

    Ishikawa gave Pierre 2 weeks, give or take. Not only that, but he will be less able to pull his own weight the longer this goes. There was no special rush beforehand but now we had a time limit.
    I hate the feeling of running out of time. I also hate seeing my crew being hurt. I also worry that I may have to make a hard decision soon. For now though, the choice was clear. We move.
    The crew was all together again. There was no more point in staying at the top of a cold mountain all exposed. We rested for a few hours, carefully watching for more monsters before we set out. Battle Forged took the lead and Siege-Breaker watched the rear. Mabel was walking with L’Épeise, making sure he could walk.
    I had taken a vine and made it into an impromptu belt for me to keep my cutlass and pistol. A weapon would be necessary for this trek, but I was not going to open another portal in the middle of a fight. The only reason I got through the previous fight was because I was running on adrenaline. That wasn’t something I could guarantee next time, and I was sure there would be a next time.
    We made camp at sundown at the bottom of the mountain. I ordered there to be a watch, as I was sure we were never out of sight of the monsters. 
    L’Épeiste sat by our covered fire, clutching his shoulder. I approached him. “Let me see it.”
    L’Épeiste looked up at me then moved his arm. I checked the wound. Final Breath had dressed the wound well but it was still bleeding. I took the bandage off, cleaned it with boiled water and a cloth, and replaced his bandage.
    “What are you thinking about?” He asked me. 
    “Just the next step.” I told him.
    “Bull.” He retorted. “You have to have an opinion about this.”
    “My opinion is that I need you to keep moving. We will continue again in the morning and you need to be walking when we go.”
    “I don’t want to slow you down.”
    “If I start to think you are, then you will ride over Orinn’s shoulder.”
    “I see the captain is coming back. Shame. I liked Maria Helena.”
    “That woman is not a leader of a crew. There will be time for emotions later. For now, I am trying to make sure that you all stay alive. All of you.”
    L’Épeiste laid back. “If it comes to it, prioritize the lives of the crew over mine.”
    “And lose my most dependable crew mate? I do not think so.”
    L’Épeiste gave a small smile and closed his eyes, falling asleep almost instantly.
    I watched his chest rise and fall a few times. It was the only reassurance I had that he was alright. I turned to see Final Breath watching from a discrete distance. When our eyes met he approached me.
    “What can we expect from him?” I asked.
    “Fever, pain, warmth, and possibly any kind of regular sickness symptoms like a cold, flew, and weakness.” He supplied.
    I shook my head. “Infections are easy to prevent. Why did this happen so fast? Why can’t we fix it?”
    Ishikawa sat in his eastern fashion. “Could be many reasons, with the most likely being that the creatures have evolved some kind of toxin in their teeth or saliva. Would explain why Pierre was the only one who got an infection. He has the only bite wound in the group.”
    That idea was unsettling. If it was the saliva or teeth, then the fact that the rest of them never got infected was a stroke of luck, considering the kind of nicks and scratches we received over the course of the past several days. A drop of misplaced spittle could kill them just as well as as one of the monsters chomping down on us. 
    “If I may make a suggestion,” Final Breath began, “for the good of the group-”
    “If you are suggesting what I think you are suggesting, I will stop you right now. I am not going to sacrifice any of the crew.”
    He nodded. “And if we can’t help him in time? What do we do with him? Leave him to suffer?” I looked away from him. “If you would like,” he continued, “I can take care of it. I can make sure it’s painless.”
    “Don’t you have guard duty?” I growled at him. 
    “Very well.” Final Breath stood up, bowed deeply to me, then resumed his post, leaving me to my worries.
    I didn’t sleep well that night. I lay in my makeshift bed with possibilities and worries buzzing around my mind like a persistent mosquito. Whenever I seemed to get tired enough to start drifting off, one of those thoughts sprung to the front of my mind, jolting me from rest.
    It felt like days had passed before the sun rose on the quiet landscape. Siege-Breaker, who was the last guard of the night, woke the group up and we had a quick meal and set off.
    The whole day was a blur. It was just hours upon hours of walking, resting, eating, and walking again. At every break I checked Pierre’s wound. It continued to get worse, with red and green splotches spreading around the holes, and what was worse was that I began to see additional effects of the infection. Pierre’s fingernails began to grow rapidly and gain substance. I also noted that his front teeth were starting to grow. When we finally set up camp that night, Battle Forged helped me dress the wound. Pierre had already started sleeping when we were halfway through the administrations. 
    Battle Forged frowned at Pierre’s hands. “It seems our friend is changing.”
    I nodded. “I doubt that’s normal.”
    “It has some similarity to the form of the rats. I never gave credence to the idea of werewolves but this seems to be such a situation.”
    I glanced briefly at Final Breath, who was setting up his sleeping space. He seemed to sense my look and glanced up. I looked away before we can make eye contact. I did not want want to give our medicine man and assassin any idea that I was about to give the order to kill Pierre. He was still one of us, and I wasn’t going to give up on him.
    The next day was similarly blurry. Pierre could barely keep pace with us. After a few hours or so I had Orinn and Geremio trade off in carrying him.
    At around midday we crested a rise to see the bunker off in the distance on a flat expanse of the landscape. I looked to Chip. “What say you Chip? How long do you think it will take to get there.”
    Chip gauged the distance between us and the building. “A couple hours walk I think.”
    “Then we will be there by nightfall. We will take a short break before we continue moving.”
    Mabel called out from behind us. “Capitán!” I turned to see her pointing to the distance and I saw a large group of rats running in our direction on all fours.
    I rolled my eyes. “Break’s over! We’re moving!” 
    Pierre was barely conscious but as Battle Forged picked him up again he began to squirm and groan. Pierre’s face contorted a bit more and he weakly snarled at Orinn. The viking restrained him and continued to pick him up.
    We moved at a fast walk for a while before settling into a jog. We did not want to exhaust ourselves but we also could not allow the rats to catch up to us. We moved as quickly as we could, spurred on by the creatures chasing us. There was no talking, just moving.
    It felt like ages before we got within bowshot of the building. It was a decent haul to get there. At that point we abandoned pretense and ran for it. We charged to the bunker, feeling the dry air race past. We finally made it to the entrance of the bunker and tried the door. It didn’t budge.
    “Of course it’s locked!” Mabel growled at the building. 
    I looked behind us. The rat beasts were still running towards us and would reach us in a few minutes. I turned to the crew. “Mabel, Siege-Breaker, both of you try to find or force a way in. Everyone else, we stand here.”
    Trueshot put an arrow to her bowstring and fired without preamble. Chip readied his guns and waited for a good shot. I drew my sword and waited. 
    The rats paid no heed to the arrows that Trueshot fired into them and continued to run at us. Or at least they did, until the ground started shaking. The sand all around shifted and shook. The rats stopped and held back. Then the rumbling stopped and there was silence. We didn’t make a sound. The rats didn’t make a sound. The whole land was silent.
    Then the earth opened up underneath a few of the rats and a monster arched itself from the ground before plunging back down into the earth. It was a giant worm-like creature. The earth continued rumbling after that. The rats, having completely forgotten us, scattered in all directions.
    I called to the crew at the door. “How is that door coming?”
    “Any minute now.” Siege-Breaker said.
    The worm erupted from the ground under another rat before it turned towards us, as if noticing us for the first time. Even at this distance I could see its beady eyes as it examined us. 
    “We do not have a minute. Get us inside! Now!”
    Chip looked worriedly at me. “Can the bunker even stop that thing?”
    “We will have to find out.” I said as the Death Worm began to move towards us, diving up and under the ground like a dolphin in the water.
    I heard a crack behind me as Siege-Breaker finally got the door open. My crew didn’t even wait for me to usher them inside. We just ran into the dark interior. Final Breath dragged L’Épeiste inside last before Siege-Breaker closed the door and leaned against it, cutting off our only light. Underneath us we felt it as the worm collided with the foundations of the building but nothing moved or even shifted. Then everything was quiet.
    After about a minute for the tension to drop enough, Siege-Breaker spoke up. “Can someone help me find something to barricade the door with?”
    “Hold on.” Chip said. “I have a light.” He rummaged in his bags for a second before a sudden beam of light shone from his flashlight. He shone it on Geremio who then slid a heavy looking box in front of the door. Chip then shone the light to other members of the crew. He shown the light on Pierre and we almost failed to realize the danger.
    The figure of Pierre leaped at Trueshot, slashing at her with clawed hands and trying to bite at her. Surprised, Trueshot fell back and quickly struggled. Khutulan got her feet under Pierre and delivered a solid kick to get him off of her. Pierre stumbled back into a table, knocking it over and making a loud ruckus. We looked at Pierre in Chip’s light. He looked like one of the rat beasts now, with a long snout, elongated eyes, and clawed hands. He snarled at us and fled into the interior of the dark building. 
    Trueshot watched him go, then she picked up her bow and selected an arrow. “That does it.” She growled. “We cannot afford to let Pierre live any longer. Ishikawa, you and I will hunt him down.”
    Final Breath drew his sword. “Of course, Khutulan.” He responded.
    “Wait!” I shouted. “Don’t kill him! We might still be able to fix this.”
    “Not this time, Capitán.” Trueshot spat back as she and Final Breath gave chase, leaving the rest of us behind.
    I called to the rest of the crew. “Come on! We’ve got to stop them!” Before following them into the dark building.
    I followed my ears, listening for the sound of footsteps, the distant banging, the flutter of flying arrows, and the swoosh of a sword. I followed the noises deeper into the ink black darkness.
    I entered a large room. I could only tell it was large due to how the sound echoed off the walls. I heard Pierre clawing at some crack in the wall, trying to open it up. Then I heard him jump to the side and sparks popped up from where he was when Trueshot’s arrow bounced off the wall. Then I heard Pierre run off with Ishikawa in pursuit. Trueshot activated her headset, which lit up her face so I could see it, but it allowed her to see better in the dark. I didn’t know hers still worked. Mine didn’t. She quickly climbed a wall to a second floor to try and flank Pierre. 
    “Mabel.” I called out.
    “Aye-aye.” She said and followed after Trueshot.
    I was about to go after Ishikawa when I saw something. I stopped. My crew, swept up in the chase, kept going down the hall. I saw something move and I readied my sword. Then the thing raised its head and I could see a single, glowing red eye. It cast enough light that I could barely make out its form.
    The figure was human-like, though its stance and manner didn’t look natural. It wore clothes from the American west in the 1800s, or at least a recreation, with a tattered leather jacket and wide brimmed hat. It wore a shawl over its left shoulder that completely covered it left hand, and its right hand carried a single pistol. It looked at me and spoke in a clanky, robotic voice. “Draw.”
    I did not draw my pistol. I didn’t have any bullets. Instead I dove for cover. The gun went off a few times, creating sparks on the metal walls. It chased after me and I waited for it to get to range. Its red eye gave enough light for me to gauge its location, so I popped out from my cover and slashed at its arm. I managed to hit it but it only knocked the arm to the side. Then I saw the figure’s left arm, one made completely out of jagged metal, extend out from its side and grab my throat. I bashed the pommel of my sword into the figure’s face, knocking off some of the old, leathery skin that covered a brass casing. I bashed my pommel into the arm holding me and it knocked me free. I then swung another, harder blow at the robot’s gun hand, knocking the weapon into the darkness. 
    The cowboy robot then moved away from me, moving to one end of the room. I stayed back to catch my breath. The eerie red light showed the robot ripping a panel off the wall and taking some object from inside. It turned to face me again with a new weapon that glowed red and had a rotating barrel. I swore and dove to the side as the robot fired a tiny rocket into the wall behind me. I abandoned the fight and fled down a random hallway. A few explosions resounded behind me, lighting up the hallway as I ran.
    The next room I entered showed Mabel and Trueshot wrestling with each other. The taller and stronger Trueshot was on top, trying to untangle her arms and legs from Mabel’s grasping hands and feet. They looked up in surprise at me. “Look out!” I cried out. Behind me I heard a series of clicking sounds and and metal sliding. I dropped to the ground as an arrow sailed overhead. It trailed a spark of energy all the way through the air until it impacted in Trueshots shoulder. Upon contact, the arrow exploded into ice, sealing her arm and her side in cold ice.
    “Damn! Not again!” Trueshot growled as she stumbled back. 
    I turned to see the cowboy facing me, his mechanical arm had turned into a composite bow. It pointed it over me and fired another arrow at Mabel. While in midair, the arrow split into multiple arrows and Mabel rolled and flipped to avoid them.
    I jumped to my feet and ran further into the building. However I did not get far when I crashed directly into a figure running in the other direction. The figure snarled and I saw the rat face of Pierre glaring at me. He must have gotten turned around.  The cowboy robot looked up at Pierre the rat and fired a rocket at him. Pierre heard the shot and leaped to the side. I leaped in the other direction and fell prone as the rocket exploded against a wall, shredding the wall and sending tiny shards of metal falling all over the room. The destruction of the wall revealed a room on the other side and Pierre wasted no time scuttling into the hole, crawling into a tiny space inside the walls. 
    Battle Forged, who was running back down the hall towards me, said, “Go after him. We’ll take care of the shooter.” I nodded acknowledgement to him and chased Pierre into the tiny crawl space. I used my ears and felt my way through the crawl space. Rat Pierre made a lot of noise as he moved through the tunnel and I followed the noise. 
    It didn’t take long for me to stumble out of the crawl space, falling briefly to the metal ground. The faint light that seeped in from other areas showed Pierre pawing and sniffing at a large computer screen. I snuck up to him as silently as I could and then I heard it. Coming from the screen was a soft but high pitched sound that sounded like someone trying to talk. Pierre seemed to be getting annoyed by the sound and he pawed at the screen more. 
    Pierre turned his head idly and saw me, then dropped into an aggressive stance. 
    “Stand down Pierre. I don’t want to hurt you.” I told him.
    Pierre snarled and charged at me. I swung my sword, lightly cutting Pierre’s thigh before I shrunk into a defensive stance. He crashed into me and we fell to the ground. I used the momentum of the fall to throw him off of me. Pierre scrambled to his feet but was too slow. I sprung to my feet and hit him with the hilt of my sword. He winced and looked away, trying to ward me off with one arm. I calmly took his arm by the wrist, dropped my sword, and used my free hand to push on his elbow, forcing Pierre to the ground. I slammed his head into the metal floor to stun him, then I shuffled to his legs. I said, “I’m sorry” before I drove the heel of my hand into his knee. It dislocated with a soft pop and a screech of pain from the rat form of my friend. 
    Pierre tried to stand up but he couldn’t support himself, and anytime he tried simply ended up with him on the ground in pain again. It wrenched my heart seeing him this way but I needed him in one place where he can’t hurt us. When I was certain that he wasn’t going anywhere, I returned to examining the room.
    I took the time to recognize the sound coming from the empty monitor. If it was still emitting noise then that means that it must still have power somehow. Maybe if I could reactivate the computer then I could turn on the lights in this place. That would help in taking down that robotic gunslinger that my crew is engaging. I stood myself in front of some control panel and, lacking any frame of reference for this kind of thing, started pressing buttons at random. 
    Something must have worked. After a minute of pressing buttons I heard the sound of electric motors and lights started to appear on the screens on the room. The screens showed the word “rebooting” in big red letters for a few seconds. Then the screens flickered on and showed different areas of the bunker. I could see in one area the image of the robot stalking the hallways.
    A vaguely female robotic voice spoke then. “Unauthorized beings detected. Multiple chronal energy signatures present. Rat beast infection detected. Multiple areas show signs of structural damage. Explain yourself, intruder.”
    I realized that she was talking to me. I brushed aside my internal hesitation and spoke back with confidence. “I am La Capitán, Maria Helena of La Paradoja Magnifica. I am here with my crew of seven seeking shelter from the environments out there. If that is your robot attacking us then call it off. We mean you no harm.”
    “Robot?” The voice questioned. It paused for a second while some distant machine came to life. “Robotic entity is similar to, but not an exact match of Jim Brooks. It is not my agent.”
    “Then you won’t mind if we tear it apart?”
    “I would assist you in that endeavor were I at full system ability.”
    “All I need are lights and a map.”
    “Affirmative.” The security feed then showed the dark rooms suddenly light up. I could clearly see the rest of my crew as well as the robotic cowboy. The robot looked up at the lights, then pulled off another wall panel to take more weapons before marching off in a different direction than where it was going. “Warning,” the female mechanical voice continued, “robotic entity is moving towards this station. Logic concludes that it intends to shut me down again. Please stop him.”
    The security feed showed the robot stop at a wall, pull a device out of it’s poncho, and activate it. Suddenly it started moving at an extraordinarily rapid pace inside a translucent purple bubble. In the span of a single second it yanked out its rocket launcher again, fired six times, reloaded, and fired six more. The bubble then dissipated and all the shots impacted against the wall almost simultaneously. 
    The wall of the computer room exploded inwards, taking many of the screens with it. I dropped to the ground and avoided the worst of it. The cowboy entered the room and looked up at the computer monitors. “Biomancer had plans for you.” It said in a voice half human, half robot. “But I can’t risk your reactivation.” The robot then aimed what looked like a large ray gun at the computer.
    I jumped out at the robot, knocking its arm to the side. The ray gun went off, firing back out through the hole in the wall. I used my momentum to spin the robot around and throw it back out the way it came. It tried to fire at me but while I had spun the thing, I also swiped its gun. Before it could attack me I aimed the pistol at it and unloaded the gun. Six shots hit the robot in the face and chest and it groaned in frustration and ran to the side. 
    I didn’t take chances. I embraced the agony of opening another time portal to grab more bullets for this gun. I placed the bullets in as fast as I could and then followed the robot out. I fired again at it before it ducked around a corner. 
    I then heard the female voice emanating through the bunker. She seemed to be giving instructions to my crew, directing them towards me and the robot. 
    As I gave chase to my enemy, I failed to see the grenade until it was too late. It came out from the bend in the hallway, bounced off the opposite wall, and landed by my feet. The grenade then activated and I was stuck. I was trapped inside another one of those translucent bubbles, only this one made time move really slowly for me. My body moved at a crawl and I couldn’t make it go faster. The robot stepped from the hallway and pointed the ray gun at me.
    Then from the same hallway, an arrow suddenly shot out and transfixed the robot’s head, the feathered end sticking out of the robot’s temple, the point sticking out of it’s ear. The robot’s hat fell off as it staggered and leaned against the wall. Then, from behind me, Siege-breaker charged and sliced at the robot’s leg, cutting it off at the shin. The robot fell to a knee and aimed the ray gun at Geremio's head but Mabel jumped in and snatched the gun out of the robot’s hands. The robot quickly pulled another temporal grenade from its poncho but Chip shot it out of the robot’s hand, causing it to land harmlessly on the ground. Final Breath then neatly stepped in and cut the robot in half at the hips before Battle Forged walked in and cleaved the robot’s head in two with one powerful strike.
    It was then that the temporal grenade released me and I fell to the ground. There was silence for a while as we took in the events. We were all exhausted. I stood after a few minutes and took the fallen cowboy hat. “Mine now.” I said, placing it on my head.
    Me and the crew walked back towards the computer room. When we got there we saw the rat form of Pierre being carried by robotic tendrils into a small opening in the wall. Battle Forged gasped and ran after him, catching up too late to save Pierre. 
    I growled back at the computer. “What is the meaning of this!?” I demanded. 
    I heard the sound of air being released somewhere nearby as the voice spoke again. “I will explain later. Right now, you all need to rest.”
    The air around me started to smell a little funny. I staggered towards the monitor. “I swear, if you hurt him, I will…” and I got no further before losing consciousness.