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Template:PostCatH Post 45 opens with a brief Non-Story Note that references the three other Story Threads and the specific posts that this post crosses-over with as the same event happens in all three threads. The Hopeless arrives at Earth but Jeb is already flying down towards the planet's surface and they will have to follow, despite Clear being hesitant to go to Earth - a world she hates. Captain Rynard, aboard The Majestic, arrives with an Imperial Fleet and starts sending shuttles of stormtroopers towards the Earth. A representative of Earth, Dr R. Deep, tells Pully that he has sent someone to find Jeb and that he and his team will deal with the Imperial fleet. Lord Kassuin decides to help Hero Force One while Clear and Green, in the Bug, go down to the planet with Ffion Heul, in Nach. Luckily the Rebel Fleet also arrives to help defeat the Imperials and Clear's relationship with Ace Lander seems closer. They head to the planet and land at Stonehenge. Clear must use a hoverchair, after being crippled in CatH Post 43. They meet Judge who deals with the Latter Day-Greys of Memnoch and the invading stormtroopers. Citizen Rex and Agent Mulligan guide them down into Stonehenge where they confront Jeb and his group. Heul eventually kills him and they wake Princess Aurora from her sleep in the casket. Then they are confronted by Merlin, a ghost, who explains that Aurora is of the line of King Arthur who left Earth to start human colonies throughout the galaxy. He said he created Excalibur with a phractal shard, which allows the sword to open portals to other universes. Stonehenge once had a permanent portal called The Rift which led to the magical world of Albion and Aurora uses Excalibur to reopen it to save that world from magical starvation. Vivane, guardian of The Rift, acknowledges and thanks Aurora. They all leave the caverns under Stonehenge and Vivane creates water golems to fight stormtroopers. While Clear, Green and Aurora get onto the Bug, Ffion stays behind to get her Nach.

Post

Project Earth

Non-Story Post: This posts ties with several other posts contained within different Stories.

Hero Force OnePost #64

The Never-ending Story2Post #1917 

The PantheonPost #11

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The Hopeless slams out of hyperspace at sudden force. The jump is a small one and a difficult one to judge from within the system itself. Normally ships will speed through at sub-light speeds, especially large capital ships. But they had little option if they want to catch Jeb before he succeeds in doing... whatever he plans to do. The moon, otherwise known as Luna by more space-savvy explorers, spins just before The Hopeless.

Pully: "That was close."

Clear: "Where's Jeb?"

Mother: "The ship has entered Earth's atmosphere."

Pully: "We're too late. We'll have to go... planetside..."

Clear: "I... I don't know..."

Pully: "Clear?"

The very notion of stepping foot on Earth sickens Clear. A thick wad of hate nestles in her stomach and her spine tingles with animosity. How can she step foot on the world responsible for her whole race being buried? She grits her teeth.

Clear: "Okay fine--"

Mother: "Incoming communication."

Clear: "Who from?"

Mother: "The addresser is marked as Doctor R. Deep."

Clear: "A doctor? Weird. Is he from Earth?"

Mother: "Perhaps you should find out for yourself, Clear?"

Clear: "I hope you're not being cocky, Mother..."

Mother: "Of course not."

Clear: "Pully, take the communication. Let them know the situation. They're probably Earth military. We'll go d--"

Suddenly the sensor lights up with another ship. The Majestic. Captain Rynard has followed them all the way to the Earth but this time he isn't alone. Other capital ships have joined him. The Majestic is the only Galleon-class ship present, the rest are the dreaded Star Destroyers. Clear surmises that a fleet this size could only be sanctioned by the President of the Empire himself. Clearly Lumo was right - Clear was being used by the President all along. TIE fighters and TIE interceptors begin pouring out of the Star Destroyers. From the Majestic itself come lambda class shuttles, presumably filled with stormtroopers. They'll be headed after Jeb too.

Pully: "Clear. This doctor says he's already sent someone after Jeb and the princess on the surface. His priority it stopping the imperials though. Essentially his team will keep them busy while you go down to the surface."

Kassuin: "A single team against this!?"

Pully: "There's not much choice."

Kassuin: "Heul. Izep trained you well. I believe you stand a good chance against my student. He is a skilled consular but lacks determination. Take advantage of that."

Heul: "Lord Kassuin?"

Kassuin: "I will assist the Earthers against the Empire. I am responsible for this invasion. I owe them my assistance. They'll need someone familiar with the enemy ships to infiltrate them."

Clear: "Infiltrate them!?"

Kassuin: "I know what I'm doing, captain. Stop my student. I, and the Earthers, shall keep the enemy busy."

Pully: "Hey, wait! I want to come!"

Clear: "Sorry Pully, there's no time. Besides, I need someone here while I'm gone."

Pully: "I regret stepping foot in this bloody Command Centre."

Clear re-activates the Bug's engines and the small craft cruises out of the hangar, followed by Ffion Heul and Lord Kassuin. Kassuin breaks off and Clear and Ffion head towards the Earth. Although she knows Kassuin wouldn't be phased by Clear's death, she can't help but feel sorry for his probable demise against such odds. Hopefully Earth's warriors are the mightiest on offer.

Then, as though to answer her fears, yet more ships burst into the system. The Rebel Alliance.

Pully: "Clear. Your boyfriend is hailing again."

Clear rolls her eyes.

Clear: "I'll take this one."

Pully: "Want an intimate moment before the action, eh?"

Clear: "Pully, I'm going to put you into the hospital when I get back."

Pully: "I owe you grief. You totally battered me in that lift..."

Clear: "For you own good."

Pully: "I berate you about your fancy man for your own good."

Clear: "You really need a good sm--"

Lander: "Clear?"

Clear: "--ack! Captain Lander!"

Lander: "You're supposed to call me Ace, remember?"

Clear: "Not if you're here to arrest me."

Lander: "I'm here to help you save the galaxy, Clear."

She can't help but smile. It's ruined when Green starts giggling.

Clear: "Green! Quiet!"

Lander: "I'll deal with the imperial forces. We've more than enough firepower here."

Clear: "Be careful. Earth forces plan to infiltrate The Majestic."

Lander: "I'll be sure to provide them a distraction. Taking out the command ship from within is a bold move, but I think it'll pay off. I admire them! But what about you?"

Clear: "I'm headed to the Earth to stop the renegade Æon."

Lander: "Alone?"

Clear: "I have people with me. This guy can't be that bad. The real battle is up here."

Lander: "Alright. Good luck, Clear."

Clear: "You too, Ace."

Green: "Oh! You called him Ace!!"

Ace Lander starts laughing, overhearing Green's voice. Clear growls and shuts off the communication.

Clear: "We're entering the atmosphere. Get ready."

The Bug begins rattling like crazy. The atmosphere of Earth is quite unlike the much thinner atmosphere of Mars and her small transport bounces about to the point Clear isn't sure it'll hold together. There's a clang somewhere in the ship.

Clear: "I hope something didn't just fall off!"

Fire erupts on the outside of the Bug and Clear activates the air conditioning unit to expel cold. Finally they drop into the lower atmosphere of the planet and she can look down on the green and blue world up close. She wants to cry. How can somewhere so beautiful be the origins of something so evil as humanity? Green masses of land are surrounded by blue oceans and, as she gets closer to the target, she starts to see the human settlements more clearly. The world of her nightmares is not the den of evil she always imagined it to be. Expected it to be. Hoped it to be.

The island draws nearer and nearer. Then fields of green until she locates the area. A demolished stone structure lurks alone, though it appears human machines have been trying to put the structure back together. It appears quite primitive and she can only assume it's historical monument that has fallen down. Much like her Bug right now.

She sees the Æon ship resting on the ground near the site and there seem to be people all over the area, swarming around a single point. As she lands, people start headed towards her.

Clear: "Not good."

Green: "I'll get your chair."

Clear curses. She forgot she'd hurt her legs. Feeling has been slowly returning to them but the pain-killer is still in effect. She hoists herself from her seat and into the hover chair. Green then heads over to the door and opens it. Wind lashes into the ship, whipping at Green's hair and dress.

Clear: "Green! Get back inside!"

Green holds her hands out.

Outside Clear sees trees spring out of the ground and, with their branches, they snag the incoming humans. Gunfire erupts, shooting the trees and fighting for their lives. The guns are bullet-filled, a strange sound after hearing lasers for so long. Clear opens a cabinet and retrieves her old carbine. It won't shoot any great distance but it may help her out in a pinch. The people outside are mostly humans but amongst them are greys, just like Jeb. She supposes that the greys are the Latter-Day Greys of Memnoch that Lumo mentioned. The trees appear to be working their magic on the foe and Clear is able to hover down the ramp to terra firma.

Nearby the other humans and greys are swarming a single point. From that point they also hurtle away. Something very powerful lurks at the epicentre and Clear hopes it's the mighty warrior of Earth and not some new enemy.

Green: "There!"

She points at a group of greys pushing a hovering casket. Aurora's casket. Clear pushes her chair in the direction of the casket but the thing isn't made for high-speed chases across grassland and she slowly advances. Green is able to walk faster.

Clear: "Be careful Green."

Green pokes a v for victory at Clear before running at the group. Seeing the approaching girl, the greys react by firing lasers at her. Green quickly pulls her arms up into the air and a great wall of vines rises up to block the incoming blaster fire. Green starts a long circle, moving ever inwards, towards the greys. Clear reaches the vine wall and follows it along. The inward curvature of the vine wall means Clear loses sight of Green until she reaches the end of it. Green has one grey suspended in the air with a single vine, while another grey is being chewed on by a gigantic flower.

Clear: "Look out!"

A grey shoots at Green. The flower lowers itself quickly and takes the angry blast, releasing the grey it half chewed. Clear fires her carbine at the greys, spraying bullets across the field, but she's too far away to sufficiently aim. Just as it appears the greys may gain the upper hand something crashes into the ground. The force of the landing sends out a ripple of energy that pushes everyone to the ground. Clear, far enough away to resist the force, is whipped by the wind of the blast. She covers her eyes against that wind and when she lowers them she sees a woman punch a grey into the sky like he'd taken off. Another grey is being held in the air by the woman's telekinesis before she, unceremoniously, tosses him off over the vine wall.

Clear draws near and fires at the remaining greys. The woman wears a coat of a red, white and blue symmetrical pattern, but beneath that coat she wears nothing but her underwear. Clear's mind boggles at how she could possibly stay warm, let alone conserve her modesty. Her skin is white and her hair is ginger. To Clear she seems like a very attractive human woman, though Clear's mind on that subject has always been rather muddled. Clear wonders if she, too, is an Æon Knight, but when Ffion Heul finally reaches the group too, the differences are extremely apparent.

Woman: "I'm Judge. I assume you're the ones here to stop your renegade grey?"

Clear: "That's right."

Judge: "And you're crippled? No offence but you probably shouldn't be down here."

Clear: "A temporary situation. Had my legs pulled out of their sockets."

Judge winces.

Judge: "Painful. Luckily these chumps aren't worth the time of day. The leader of the group absconded with your princess down into stonehenge."

She points towards the broken monument.

Judge: "I'll head down and throw them out fo--"

She looks up.

Heul: "The stormtroopers are here."

The lambda shuttles descend and begin to land.

Judge: "Ooooookay. Change of plan. I'll deal with these guys and I'll have my inept co-worker guide you into Stonehenge."

Clear: "Uh... inept?"

Judge: "Pretty much. I'm sure he can guide you down a tunnel though. Don't get upset if he gets shot in the face. Nobody would miss him."

Clear: "Wow..."

Judge crouches down and then slings herself into the air with a purple aura around her person. With her power she grabs a shuttle and swings it around through the air until it collides with another shuttle. They explode and bodies are slung out into the sky.

Heul: "She's damn powerful..."

Judge shreds a wing apart from another shuttle and the craft suddenly plummets towards the ground. Stormtroopers jump out of the shuttle and activate their parachutes.

Clear: "We should get after Jeb. The sooner he's dealt with the sooner this fight is over."

She heads towards the broken monument. Green and Ffion scout ahead until they call her over. Standing by the monument is a man wearing a white uniform, not unlike the admiralty uniform that Warlord Strang used to wear. His face is angular and he has a strong, proud chin that seems to give him some human charisma that Clear almost finds likeable. Next to him stands another human wearing a dark suit and sunglasses that conceal much of his face. While the man in white stands with his hands on his hips in some kind of pose, the second man is ever watchful with his pistol at the ready.

Man-in-white: "My ally tasked me with guiding you through Stonehenge."

Clear: "You're the inept guy?"

Man-in-white: "She's always berating my friend like that--"

He jerks his thumb towards the man-in-black, who sighs with exasperation.

Man-in-white: "--he's a lowly agent that works for us. I'm Citizen Rex, Saviour of the People of Earth! And he's Agent 91."

Man-in-black: "I'm Agent Mulligan."

Clear quickly introduces herself and her friends before Citizen Rex leads them into the collapsed tunnel hiding beneath Stonehenge. It looks like some work has been done to rectify the problem and Clear sees a lot of digging machines, usually coloured bright yellow, all over the place. Inside the ground there's further signs of digging work.

Clear: "What happened here?"

Citizen Rex: "Those damned aliens. They did this."

He glances at Clear and then quickly corrects himself.

Citizen Rex: "Uh, present company excluded! I meant those aliens specifically! The grey ones!"

Clear tries not to be offended. She's heard many humans speak of non-humans as a single body of people before. The tunnel gets more cramped as they get further in, with less removal work having being done. She ducks below an especially low ceiling, pinning herself against the front of her hover chair.

Agent Mulligan: "Here, let me help you."

The man-in-black helps to guide her chair up a small rise in the tunnel. Then they hear voices somewhere further down. The group fall silent and sneak on.

Jeb: "Where is it!?"

Grey #1: "It must have been destroyed in the explosion?"

Jeb: "Whose bright idea was it to blow up the nexus at Stonehenge anyway!? What imbecile authorised it!?"

Grey #2: "No disrespect, Jeb, but you're not exactly a high-ranking member of our order. I don't think you get the option of criticising our leaders."

Jeb: "I just risked everything for this group and there's nothing here! Don't tell me my options!"

Ffion looks at Clear and Clear nods in approval. Ffion stands and then rushes out. Without taking heed, Citizen Rex instantly follows after her. As they both jump out, ready to attack, Citizen Rex bellows.

Citizen Rex: "Freeze, evil-doers!"

Clear suddenly understands why Judge believes him to be inept.

Agent Mulligan looks at Clear apologetically and then goes out after Citizen Rex.

Jeb: "Ffion Heul? They... they sent another student after me?"

Clear and Green join the group quietly. Jeb holds his big bulbous head in his hands.

Jeb: "Even my teacher didn't bother to chase me down? Is that how little respect I have?"

Heul: "What? You thought the entire Order would drop everything for the sake of one student trying to get attention? Pathetic..."

Jeb: "I-I am not pathetic! I still have the princess! Let me go or I'll kill her."

He holds his hand towards the casket and it begins to rise from the floor. It cannot rise very far and Clear doubts it would kill her if she were dropped. Unless he starts to smash her against the tunnel wall.

Citizen Rex: "Now now, evil alien guy. I recognise that casket! It has the princess in it!"

Clear: "You've seen it before?"

Citizen Rex: "Yes! I saved her once already!"

Agent Mulligan: "And then shot her off into space..."

Clear: "And that's when I found her..."

Citizen Rex: "It's a small galaxy."

Jeb: "And then she falls into my hands. Indeed, a very small galaxy. My brother was one of the bombers of the nexus. I... I didn't want him to do it. I tried to make him leave the Latter-Day Greys but he really believed that humans are a plague on the galaxy. I'm not the bad guy here!"

Clear: "You were going to use her to summon some magical beings to rule the Earth for yourself, Jeb! That makes you no better than the humans you're trying to stop!"

Jeb: "But I... the Empire were searching for her too. They... they want to use her and take the Earth. They tried to it once before. Thrawn... their grand admiral, he came here but couldn't defeat the Earth heroes. I... I had to get here before President Polk. I had to take the magic ones first and then I could defeat the humans! I... It was the only way..."

Clear: "Rubbish, Jen. She was safe and sound in Skytower Temple on Tangris. She wasn't going anywhere. You took advantage of the chaos when Aellisin Koure arrived and tried to blow up the planet. You just saw an opportunity for your own gain."

Jeb: "Revenge! It's the humans' fault my brother is dead! The only other option was... was to kill her. Murder her in her sleep. But I... I just... I couldn't do it..."

Heul: "What's stopping you now? What're you looking for?"

Jeb's focus emerges again.

Jeb: "The Rift. It was here. It seems the previous attack destroyed it. The Rift was the portal to the other world attached to Earth. Through it the princess can control those beings. I control her, I control them. I would have been... I would have so much... power."

Heul: "Typical sith. Always thinking of what power you can get out of something. That's what this is all about. Clear was right. You saw an opportunity for your own gain."

Jeb: "I've had enough of this!"

He pulls out the hilt for his ruhand projection. Ffion holds out her hand and her own projection appears, sans-hilt. At this Jeb flounders. The casket trembles as he almost loses focus on it.

Jeb: "I've... I've never seen a student able to... do that..."

Heul: "I had a harsh teacher. But I earnt this power myself. I didn't try to steal it from someone else."

She motions towards the casket with a flick of her head. Jeb seems lost for a moment but then he rises his head.

Jeb: "Shoot them."

The greys open fire. With her second hand, Ffion projects a barrier before them and the blasts hit that barrier harmlessly. Clear is shocked as Ffion has never demonstrated any such ability before. How much had she learnt from Aellisin Koure? More than just a ruhand trick? Citizen Rex runs forward and pulls an unusual short staff from his back. It's coloured grey and shaped like an ancient flaming torch. Suddenly, from the torch, bursts blue flame that engulfs one of the greys. Clear and Agent Mulligan fire their own bullet weapons at the greys, careful not to hit the walls and send bullets screaming in every direction. Clear uses controlled bursts that hit one grey, they a second. Suddenly Jeb leaps through the shield wall, his hilted ruhand exposed, and slashes down at Clear. The chair rumples under the attack and, with a whine, it topples over without power. Clear falls to the rocky ground and scrapes her skin.

Jeb brings his ruhand to bear on Citizen Rex before the man had the chance to turn his flaming torch on the Æon student. The energy sword slices through the torch, rendering it useless. He follows up his swing and would have decapitated the human if Ffion's own ruhand didn't intercede. Clear sees Agent Mulligan push a button on a control stick he pulled out of his jacket. Boots on Citizen Rex' feet ignite and the man flies up into the air. With that joystick, the agent guides Citizen Rex away from the fight and back down the tunnel - all the way with Rex' complaints and protestations. 

Clear: "Agent Mulligan! The Princess!"

The man-in-black nods and runs across the tunnel towards the now sedentary casket. He looks at the controls and turns back to Clear.

Agent Mulligan: "I can't understand it!"

Clear reaches out to him.

Clear: "Help me over!"

He runs back and throws her arm around his shoulders. Then Green appears on the other side and together they carry her towards the the casket. Just as they get to it Jeb uses his telekinesis to forcibly push the three of them into the wall. There's a lot of groaning and, especially from Clear, pain. She feels her legs, suddenly, agonising over the sudden motion. She manages to pull herself up the casket and flips through the screens. She remembers how she opened it last time and quickly activates.

Jeb: "No matter! Open it! She'll die in a matter of weeks anyway!"

Agent Mulligan fires at Jeb but the student blocks the bullets with his ruhand, each bullets incinerating upon contact. Then Jeb is suspended in the air, held in place by Ffion with her free hand. She beckons and the grey floats slowly towards her.

Jeb: "No! Let me go! How can you have such power!?"

Heul: "I told you."

Unable to move, Jeb is an easy target. She swipes her ruhand and it cuts straight through his torso. His legs drop to the floor and with a last groan Jeb dies, suspended in the air and his insides dripping to the ground. Ffion releases the upper torso and allows Jeb to rest defeated.

The casket lid jerks open and, inside, Aurora gasps. Then the lid opens fully Aurora stares at Clear with surprise.

Princess Briarose: "Did you do it? Did you find a cure?"

Clear: "I'm sorry... things have gotten complicated."

Aurora sits up and gazes around, first at their underground surroundings and then at the carnage.

Princess Briarose: "What's happening?"

Clear sits beside the casket, back against the wall of it.

Clear: "They took you. Again. They think that they can use you to control some magical people from another world?"

Princess Briarose: "What? That's absurd! How!?"

Clear: "A lot of people seem to have money riding on you, Aurora. If it's not true, there's enough people that believe it is true. First these guys. Next the Empire is going to come down here for you."

Heul: "Maybe the rebels next?"

Clear: "And then the Earthers?"

Heul: "Sooner or later... they'll be successful."

Princess Briarose: "I don't like your tone..."

Heul: "As long as you're alive, princess, they'll keep coming for you."

Clear: "As long as she's alive, the galaxy is at risk..."

Princess Briarose: "Clear!?"

Ffion slowly walks towards Aurora and Clear.

Princess Briarose: "Wait! Think about what you're doing! Clear! Stop her! Please, Ffion! I- I don't want to die! Not yet!"

Clear doesn't move. She stares at Jeb's butchered body. Once the most violence she saw was running from cowboys on Mars, shooting at her because she was an alien. She shot a good few humans in her time, but never anything as gruesome as this. The only way to save the galaxy is to butcher a woman Clear had come to like? Perhaps Aurora is even her friend? Aurora seemed to certainly be fairly attached to Clear, but Aurora doesn't have the natural prejudice that most humans do. If Clear didn't know Aurora, would this be any easier?

Clear: "Stop. Ffion. Don't hurt Aurora."

Ffion stops in her tracks. She stares at Aurora for a second and then shrugs.

Heul: "Okay. I'm sorry princess. I hope the next time you're kidnapped, you won't suffer too much..."

Aurora sighs with relief and she wipes away her fearful tears.

Princess Briarose: "I'm sorry to be trouble to you all. I am. But I don't want to die. Please. You're my friends... I... I can't believe that..."

Clear: "We wouldn't hurt you, Aurora."

Clear holds her hand up and feels about for Aurora's hand. She takes hold of it comfortingly squeezes it. She feels Aurora squeeze back.

Princess Briarose: "I thought..."

Clear: "We're just tired, Aurora. You have no idea what's happened while you've been asleep."

Princess Briarose: "I should like to leave this place. If the imperials are coming, we should leave."

Heul: "How are we going to get two cripples out of here? I can carry one of you, maybe, out."

Priness Briarose: "Two?"

Clear: "I told you you missed a lot."

Agent Mulligan: "Me and... Green, was it? We can help carry one of them out."

Voice: "Wait!"

The male voice booms through the tunnel, bouncing off of walls. Ffion turns and activates her ruhand again, while Agent Mulligan aims his pistol at the entrance. A bright glow shines on the wall as something draws nearer.

Voice: "I mean you no harm..."

Then a figure emerges. It appears as a ghost, a faint and transparent image that floats through the air. It appears to be a man, an old man, but the lower of of his body looks torn as though he was killed by hungry lions. 

Clear: "Impossible!"

Heul: "Are you... are you an Æon Lord?"

The man shakes his head.

Heul: "I've heard of some able to keep their soul projected after they die. I assumed..."

Ghost: "I see. Then you may say I am using a very similar, if not the same, technique. I am composed of aether and I continue to exist long past my physical life ended."

Clear: "Aether?"

Ghost: "Magic. Perhaps you might call it that."

Clear: "Like Green?"

Clear looks at her friend.

Ghost: "No. Not really. Your friend doesn't seem to draw on the aether. But no matter. I'm afraid this line of conversation will result in a lot of philosophical debate. Right now there's a more pressing matter."

He floats closer.

Agent Mulligan: "Are you... Merlin?"

Merlin: "You recognise me?"

Agent Mulligan: "I've heard tell around the water cooler at the Hero Force base. I never believed the rumours were true though!"

Clear: "What's a water cooler?"

Agent Mulligan: "It's... ah... it's not important."

Merlin: "What is important is that young lady there. Princess Aurora Briarose, I believe?"

Aurora nods and instantly everyone is on edge. Yet another come to claim her so soon?

Merlin: "And you have Excalibur. Very good."

Aurora touches the sword instinctively.

Merlin: "You are the saviour I'd been hoping for. My lady, I am Merlin and I have served your family for many generations. I was with King Arthur when he first left the planet Earth."

Princess Briarose: "That's not possible! That was over a millennium ago!"

Merlin gestures to his incorporeal form.

Merlin: "Indeed it was! I think I look remarkably good for my age!"

Nobody laughs.

Merlin: "I see the mood in here is rather tense. The battle above is almost won. Perhaps that will soften the mood?"

Clear: "A little."

Merlin: "The woman from Hero Force One is faring very well. My own allies also arrived and have helped to defeat those armoured heathens from the stars. Truly, I don't understand how that can be the descendants of the great Atlantians. At least the people of Earth have the excuse that Atlantis sank and all knowledge was lost. These chaps don't seem to have learnt anything but brute force from their ancestors. I'm frightfully disappointed."

Princess Briarose: "I don't think any of us understand most of what you just said, Merlin..."

Agent Mulligan: "The first civilisation of Earth was supposedly Atlantis. They reached a high level of technology and went off into space. Colonised worlds beyond ours. That's supposedly the reason why there's humans all over the place. Atlantis was destroyed though. Somehow. And humans on Earth lost everything. Supposedly."

Merlin: "There's nothing supposed about the tale, young man."

Clear: "Wow. Earth history. Just what I want to be listening to right now..."

Merlin: "Sarcasm is a very poor form of wit, little salmitton."

Clear: "I'm not little."

Merlin: "When you're my age, almost everyone is little and young. But I'll get back to the point. My dear lady, you are the true heir to the throne of Britain and through that lineage only you have the power to wield that sword."

Princess Briarose: "You want me to go into battle? Merlin I... I am unable to walk. I have an incurable disease..."

Merlin: "Incurable disease? I've never heard of such a thing. Incurable is another way of saying 'cannot cure it through conventional methods'. But I'm not asking you to fight. I'm asking you to wield your blade."

Aurora picks it up.

Princess Briarose: "I don't understand. You'll have to speak plainly."

Merlin: "You've... never used it before? My my. The sword is unique. I created it myself."

Princess Briarose: "You did?"

Merlin: "I did. I created it using a Phractal shard."

Princess Briarose: "What's a Phractal shard."

Clear: "Even I know what a Phractal shard is. It's an ultra rare mineral that makes something practically impervious. It's supposedly creates a very thin field around itself that warps reality. I don't know if I believe that part, but I do know it sells for billions on the market. I saw a piece come through Saffron Five once. They told me it supposedly comes from some inter-dimensional being and that it is a piece of his that has shed."

Merlin: "You people and your supposedlies. Nothing supposed about it. But regardless. The pretty salmitton is correct."

Clear can't flinches and Merlin notices her blushing.

Merlin: "I'm sorry you don't get to hear those words very often, my girl. You shouldn't be so phased by them. Anyway. Excalibur is not only impervious to damage, but it is better than that."

Heul: "Better than impervious?"

Merlin: "As your Martian friend rightly said, it comes from an inter-dimensional being. A being capable of opening tears in space-time. Just as is this sword..."

Princess Briarose: "I can use it to connect to another universe?"

Merlin: "Exactly."

Princess Briarose: "Why are you telling us this?"

Merlin: "I would consider it my duty to tell you, my lady. But also because I humbly ask you to help me. You must save a people most loyal to you and your family..."

Clear: "The magical people..."

Merlin nods slowly.

Merlin: "Yes. The Aes Sidhe. They're now trapped in their own world. But their world is in symbiosis with ours. Our nexus supplied them with magical energy. Aether. Mana. Whatever you wish to call it. It ebbed from here to there. But the last attack by these Latter-Day Greys of Memnoch sundered that Rift and they have been lost. The connection severed, the magic stopped flowing to them and their world will die, they will all die. Slowly... terribly..."

Princess Briarose: "Then... then I shall help them. Tell me what to do, Merlin."

Clear: "Wait."

Princess Briarose: "Clear?"

Clear: "These are the same people that the empire, the greys... they all want to control these magical beings by using you! Perhaps it's better that this Rift is never opened. Then they can never use you or them!"

Princess Briarose: "Clear I... I cannot condemn an entire people to death because of the possible actions of others. I won't do that. Just as I wouldn't condemn you to death to save myself, I won't condemn them for the same reason."

Clear looks up at Aurora and the princess looks down at Clear.

Clear: "I'm sorry Algernon was destroyed, Aurora... You would have been a great leader for your people."

Heul: "She is. Her people are now the Rebel Alliance. What does she need to do, old man?"

Merlin: "Old man!? How I detest the day those words were invented. All you have to do, princess Aurora, is exert your will into the blade and cut. Will a tear to appear and it shall be done."

Aurora holds out the sword. It gleams in the light cast by Merlin's aethereal form. Aurora raises it and Clear, with the help of Agent Mulligan, is moved out of the way. The princess closes her eyes and cuts the air. The sword swing isn't hard or powerful nor even graceful. But when it moves through the air there is a slicing sound and in the sword's wake is a thin slit.

Clear: "How do we know it's the right place?"

Merlin: "There was once a connection here. Any connection made in this location will forever link to that same place in the multiverse."

The slit begins to expand. Wider and wider until there is a swirling mass of light. Nothing can be seen of this other world, only the swirling storm of blue and white light.

Princess Briarose: "Is it done then?"

Merlin: "It is. We should wait a moment and s-- ah. Someone comes."

The swirling portal shifts and a person walks out of it. The Rift shimmers and ripples like water. It even drips off of the woman before them, except it drips back into the portal and defies gravity.

The woman is tall. Much taller than any human. Yet she has human features. Black hair, white skin, green eyes. But her dress appears to be made of water and is quite transparent because of it. Agent Mulligan gapes and shies his gaze away. The woman doesn't notice him. She only has eyes for Aurora.

Woman: "It seems one of Arthur's line yet lives. The people of Albion are indebted to you."

She bows her head.

Princess Briarose: "I am Princess Aurora Briarose from the planet Algernon. Uh... and princess of Britain. Apparently."

Woman: "And you are therefore princess of Albion too. Albion long ago swore allegiance to Arthur's line."

Princess Briarose: "Then I thank you for that allegiance."

Woman: "I am Vivane. I have long served as guardian of the Rift."

She gestures towards the portal.

Vivane: "Without it our world would have died. Many have already succumbed to death without magic. I admit... I feared the worst. It seems providence was with us this day. Thank you, Princess Aurora, for your aid."

Suddenly there's sound of commotion at the entrance to Stonehenge.

Merlin: "I fear the space heathens may have reached us."

Vivane: "Merline, my old friend. It is good to see you are still with us. I feared your demise."

Merlin: "I'm difficult to keep down, Lady Vivane. But we should leave. I will have to reconstruct the henge in order to stabilise the nexus and keep the magic flowing into the Rift. I can't do that with heathns rampaging about."

Vivane: "Then leave. I shall help you in your departure."

She gestures towards the end of the tunnel before disappearing through the Rift.

Heul: "I don't know what she meant by help, but I think we should take her advise and leave."

The Æon student lifts Aurora up into the air, sword and all, and carefully guides her along the tunnel. It isn't an easy experience for either Ffion or Aurora as the student didn't have the same mastery as the teachers, but she manages well enough for now. Agent Mulligan and Green help to carry Clear free of the tunnel and Merlin floats along after them. When they reach the end of the tunnel and emerge into daylight they see Judge pounding stormtroopers by the dozens. She holds out her hands and an enormous bat of purple aura appears. She whacks a line of troopers with it and they soar off into the air. The bat vanishes and she uses her more conventional pushes to knock down several more soldiers.

Citizen Rex: "Yes! I got one!"

He stands over a single soldier, looking quite bruised and beaten.

Agent Mulligan: "Sir! You're hurt!"

Before any further comment could be made they feel the ground shake. Quickly they all vacant the front of the tunnel and, suddenly, a torrent of water crashes out of the mouth and bursts forth across the field. Some soldiers are swept away with it but the real shock are the beings rising from within the water. As the liquid seeps away creatures emerge from it. All manner of beings that Clear couldn't even begin to understand.

Clear: "I think we should go!"

Judge: "That's your ship, right? Hold on!"

Judge pulls on the air and the Bug flies through the air as though it had been picked up and tossed at them. Clear winces as the Bug falls towards them. When she opens her eyes again she sees Judge lowering the vessel to the ground gently, as though it were nothing.

Heul: "Your power is incredible."

Judge cracks her knuckles and grins.

Judge: "I'm actually a bit rusty, but thanks. Good luck to you guys. I guess these weird magic dudes are good guys, right? Guess it means there's less fun for me."

She flies off, back towards the fray.

Princess Briarose: "Goodbye, Merlin. I hope to see you again."

Merlin: "You could remain here, princess? This is your home. You are the rightful ruler of the land."

Princess Briarose: "I am a stranger to this world, Merlin. Perhaps one day... but not today. There are people who need me. I am a leader to the rebellion. I cannot abandon them for my own gain."

Merlin: "Your sense of honour is a testament to us all. I will convey your merits to Vivane when next we speak. Thank you for your help. You saved her and all of her world."

Citizen Rex: "Farewell, innocent travellers! Good luck on your journey and should you ever need a hero again - I will be ready to save you!"

Agent Mulligan mutters to Clear.

Agent Mulligan: "Sorry about him."

He and Green carry Clear into the Bug and deposit her in the pilot's seat. Green sighs with relief and slumps into the co-pilot's seat.

Agent Mulligan: "I can't believe I'm really standing inside an alien spaceship. This is amazing!"

Clear snickers.

Clear: "This thing is a beat-up hunk of junk. But thank you. I love this old thing, despite the mess it's in."

Agent Mulligan: "Thank you, Ms Clear. This is one thing the other agent will never believe."

He heads to the door and gives Clear one last wave before leaves.

Clear: "I actually impressed a human. That's a first for me."

Green: "We're not all so bad, you know?"

Clear: "I know. I know. You're great, Green."

Green: "I know! I'm the best!"

She peace-signs Clear again and the salmitton cannot help but laugh. She glances back and sees Ffion transport Aurora into the living room where she would be buckled in. Clear starts the engines.

Heul: "Wait! I have to go and get Nach!"

Clear: "Oh right. Let me drop you off."

Heul: "No! It's fine. Get the princess out of here. I can make it there by myself. Go!"

Ffion jumps out of the ship and Clear watches the woman running across the field through the cockpit window. Clear shrugs and lifts the ramp. The old Bug shakes as it leaves the ground. Hopefully nothing else will fall off when she escapes the Earth's gravity this time.

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