Vera turned her back for five seconds.
It's not something anyone would ordinarily think about really. Opening a refrigerator door and crouching low to grab the half full carton of orange juice can pretty much be considered as basic as it gets. Not that many life changing decisions are expected to be suddenly slammed down onto the table just because you decided to walk over and get some juice to go with your flying saucer pancakes. Yet it was that very morning that the powers that be, the universe in all its cosmic fuckery and wonder decided to throw the speediest of inter-galactic curveballs.
Literally though, something very round and very dense beaned one Vera Floyd, a human from the planet Earth, dimension Z121, square in the back of her skull during the five seconds it took to turn around and grab the orange juice from the bottom shelf.
Her figure slumped down into the fridge immediately, the plastic shelves the only thing preventing Vera from face-planting directly into a plate of leftover chocolate cake. A flash of green light had preceded this moment, and if Vera had only entered the kitchen area of the warehouse she called home but seconds later she would have noticed. Would have noticed the flash of green light as two figures, one tall and one short pop out.
If Vera had decided to skip the OJ altogether and stay in the living area of the current hide-out, where the only other person in the whole warehouse was currently trying to catch a Kyogre on his 3DS, she would have been given a front row seat to a very much confusing, and very much painful death courtesy of a plasma shotgun.
And if Vera had decided to sleep in that day and not budge from the full-size cot located on the second floor loft she would have avoided being hurt altogether, and have gone unnoticed throughout the entire exchange. She would have woken up with a start right after the blast of the energy weapon fired, and hear the arguing that would have managed to echo up to the bed.
But alas, in dimension Z121 Vera decided to be proactive and get that orange juice, to go with their flying saucer pancakes.
And as such Vera found herself knocked unconscious in the refrigerator. Which as scenarios go isn't that bad. She survived this exchange. Sure she wouldn't wake up for another six hours, but at least she would wake up. Unfortunately, or fortunately it rather depended on how you looked at it, the same could not be said for her counterpart who in all these scenarios decided to wake up bright and early with the intention of "domesticating that sad excuse for a fish" once and for all. He had 99 ultra balls and was ready to go.
There was never a universe where Rick Sanchez ever managed to catch Kyogre. No, Rick Sanchez was destined to die no matter what happened this very early morning in dimension Z121 while in 90% of all scenarios Vera Floyd was expected to survive.
It was quick and it was messy. Six hours later when Vera finally came too the first thing she grabbed was the carton of now warm juice. Upon stumbling out of the kitchen area she would drop the warm juice, her jaw dropping down slowly as she glanced over what was once their living room. Now reduced to a blast zone courtesy of the two figures who came through the green portal. In this universe Vera never saw them. Never saw that the taller of the two had looked nearly identical to the man now lying dead smack dab in the middle of the wreckage.
Among the rubble of a collapsed couch and twisted metal coffee table produced a sight Vera would never cease to forget.
It wasn't everyday your fiancee was flattened to a bloody pulp, the morning you were going to have flying saucer pancakes. With orange juice.
On a cosmic standpoint having who, until that morning, was a very alive and loving man that Vera was getting ready to spend the rest of her life with, die honestly doesn't mean much. In the greater scheme of things. You can argue that the death of Rick Sanchez from the planet Earth, dimension Z121, was actually the gateway for Vera. The greatest adventure she would ever hope to take part of would soon be underway because of what happened here this morning.
From a dimensional point of view this Rick Sanchez was only going to join a rapidly increasing list of Rick's who were being murdered in cold blood. Mystery murders that would soon be solved solely due to the actions of a Rick and Morty from the planet Earth, dimension C-137. In the simplest of words, the death of Z121 Rick meant nothing.
To Vera, waking up six hours later and seeing the corpse of Rick meant absolutely everything.
Vera couldn't help but fall to all fours upon seeing the bloody remains of Rick. She felt her stomach try and upheave itself, her harsh gasping of air the only noise permeating the silent warehouse. Her hands landed in the puddle of room-temperature juice, causing her palms to slide around as she tried to get ahold of herself.
The location of their home was secluded, up on a cliff's edge at the trailing ends of a large forest. It took a forty minute drive to get to the nearest town but it was what the two had called home. Privacy and tranquility was the order of their days. Vera loved being close to nature, the urban sprawl never really sitting well with her. She always assumed it was merely because hustle and bustle snapped on her nerves too easily. All those people walking around everywhere, everyone minding their own business and acting as if you were invisible in a sea of faces. She never met anyone similar to her in that respect, until she met Rick.
Her eyes snapped to the small door they installed near the front of the warehouse, to give it a more "homey" feel. They lived miles away from any other known settlement of anything human. And the door was still locked.
When locking up for the night Rick always would set up a makeshift string lock. Vera always wanted to ask why Rick felt the need to set up such a contraption when they had a perfectly good deadbolt on the door. Now Vera knew why. Based on how the string had not yet been broken, the cans attached to it never rattling around, Vera could at this moment eliminate the only reasonable possibility that these murderers came in through the front door. At least she could thank Rick's paranoia for that.
However this only made the whole situation even more complicated. After darting her eyes from the undisturbed door Vera couldn't help but focus back on the horrific sight in front of her. It was as if her eyes were glued, she couldn't turn away. Looking past the corpse she could see Rick's 3DS, the screen black yet otherwise unharmed. The jolt of whatever hit him just caused the handheld to scatter away. The force of clattering on the ground must have shut it off. It was strange, she was gazing upon Rick's body and all she could focus on at that moment was to pick up his 3DS, and make sure it still worked.
With a final shuddering breath Vera clenched her fists over the wooden floorboards, her hands slick as she lifted herself up. Taking care to not even glance down at Rick as she walked around the mangled mess of furniture. She reached down to pick up the handheld game system after wiping her hands on her robe. Turning the switch from off to on gave Vera the smallest sense of relief as the screen lit up to the home menu. It still worked. She turned it back off and slipped it into the pocket of her robe.
Her gaze rested on one of the many tarps and sheets that covered the counters and cabinets across the room. Up against the wall for as long as they've lived there, that had always been considered "Rick's corner". There was a workbench and stool, a wall filled with numerous tools and pieces that Rick would always fiddle with for a majority of the time. It was where he made their little robot that served butter, and where he was working on his newest invention. A canvas that would reproduce whatever the painter was imagining. Something to help those who wanted to paint but couldn't. He started it only yesterday, after Vera had thrown for the umpeeth time another canvas at the wall in frustration.
That was the kind of guy her Rick was. If she ever had a problem with anything he would always try to swoop in and save the day, sparing her from any more frustration.
And now he was dead.
Vera grabbed a tarp that was hanging over a cabinet, the blue material stiff and plastic to her touch. All the better, for it wouldn't settle over his form as easily as a sheet would. Rick Sanchez to her was now a mystery under a blue, plastic square.
That job done she turned back to his corner, her eyes now settling on what she uncovered.
There were always a set of locked cabinets and shelving filled with boxes that also made this particular side of the warehouse their home. It was an unspoken agreement between them that their existence should never be called upon. Rick was a man of the world, that's how he described himself to her upon their fateful first meeting five years prior. She knew he was brilliant, as sharp as they come. He was a scientist and inventor who could make just about anything out of a heap of rusty scrap metal. But never in their five years together would Rick ever indulge her, give any insights into his past.
It was the allure of all those secrets, the chance that she could maybe put together what the heck had actually happened this morning that made her walk right up to the locked double doors. She raised her fingers up to her cheeks, shocked that her tears hadn't stopped this entire time. With that thought Vera brought a fist to her mouth, a hacked out sob escaping from her lips before she could help it. What just happened?
Were Rick's secrets something more dangerous than she ever considered? Was it an assassination, was there a motive? People aren't blasted in their own homes for no reason, especially by someone who was able to leave without a trace. Why didn't they kill her too? They didn't have any problems knocking her out. The knot in the back of her head was tender to touch. She gave a hiss as her fingers tentatively parted the thick rats nest that was her hair.
Was the answer in here? Behind all these locked doors and discarded boxes?
With trepidation she grasped the handle of the cabinet door with her left hand. It would all be too convenient, evidence that could help point to why Rick was a man someone seemingly wanted dead. She struggled to turn the handle, it was locked. For the first time she noticed the writing that was written with a sharpie on the cabinet door in Rick's cramped and hurried scrawl.
Keep Out. Seriously. Danger and Stuff.
Danger her behind. If Rick really wanted to keep her out of his secret past maybe he shouldn't have died for seemingly no flipping reason.
With a well timed knife and jab later, courtesy of Rick's tool wall, Vera broke through the locked door of the cabinet. She was thankful he didn't think to ever padlock it. He trusted her too much to need it.
Vera bit her lip at that revelation, guilt creeping up through her core. What was she doing?
The knife clattered to the ground, Vera along with it. She landed ungracefully on her back, looking up at the rafters of the warehouse. She needed to get a hold of herself, before she lost complete control of her mental state. Not ten feet away was the brutally murdered remains of the man she loved covered with only a blue tarp. And here she was going to rifle through his past just to get back at him inexplicably dying before breakfast. It was stupid.
With a harsh scream Vera slammed both her feet down on the front of the doors she had previously unlocked. The soles of her feet immediately stung, the reverberations of metal on bone never really that pleasant.
Vera was thankful she was lying down on her back when she kicked the cabinet. Otherwise she would have never had the time to roll away before a cardboard box came crashing down to the floor, right where her head was but seconds before. It had fallen onto its side, tools and oddends spilling out onto the floor.
That was practically an open invitation to peer into the box. Most of what was in there was junk anyways. Broken remote controls with springs breaking through, a random assortment of light bulbs and wires. But there was something else in there. In the back corner. Something wrapped in old newspaper.
Vera bit the inside of her cheek,
Curiosity had always been Vera's weakness. It was what had dragged her into all of this in the first place. If she had never indulged that burning desire of hers to find out who ended up in the alley of her apartment during college in a flash of green light five years ago she would have never even met Rick after all.
Her mind made up Vera thrust her arm into the box, her grip settling onto a handle of the device through the paper. It was warm to touch, the hum of energy increasing as she made contact with it.
She slowly ripped the yellowed newspaper away as she brought it closer, until held firmly in her right hand, was something that looked like a gun. There was a green vial of something on top, buttons scattered on the surface. There was a large black on on the side closest to the handle, the surface metallic and gleaming. For being shoved in a box for who knows how long it looked brand new, as if it was just placed there yesterday.
Vera knew Rick was a genius, a guy who had invented countless upon countless robots and gadgets. But she had never seen anything like this. Rick never divulged any information about inventions as peculiar as what she was currently holding, so Vera never bothered to pry. But this, this wasn't something to automate all the lights in a house or auto-cook a chicken in seconds.
In the blink of an eye Vera's Rick had transformed from a man of science, to science-fiction.
Without looking back she took aim at the cabinet in front of her, and pressed the largest black button.
Three hours later Vera Floyd from dimension Z121 had hit the road. Dimensionally speaking. With only a spare white lab coat, Rick's 3DS, and this mysterious gun to her name she began what would be a year of travel, to worlds she had never even dreamed of. That year was hard for Vera. She left behind the corpse of her now dead fiancee without any closure, and still had no idea in the faintest of what really happened that morning. For all she knew she was probably a prime suspect for the death of Rick. Someone would be bound to stumble upon his corpse eventually. And with her out of the picture it looked majorly suspicious.
But for Vera that was all but detail. Traveling through different worlds had become her addiction, a way to forget and only experience the now. She was able to lock up all the pain and confusion and hurt for about a year. She learned fast that you had to think quicker, that there were species of intelligent beings composed of literally anything you could think of. She saw a world where furniture ate phones and sat on people, and a really weird world where hamsters lived inside people. And then there was that creepy deformed place where everyone looked like a mutant, radiated mash up of generic body mush and limbs. That place was gross. It was a wonder she hadn't died until now really, and Vera knew it too. Perhaps it was because she didn't really have anything to die for that the universe, in all its ironic wisdom, decided to let her live. Vera saw, experienced, and traveled through hundreds of worlds, and yet it all blended into just "blah" for her. Nothing felt like home. Was that what she was looking for? Who knew. There could be a whole other story dedicated just to Vera's adventures and her journey into introspection and meaning.
However, Vera's story, her true one, begins now.
Nothing mattered about Vera Floyd, from dimension Z121 until she landed on a planet called Earth. The portal gun never gave Vera any indication she was traveling through different dimensions. Vera just thought she was jumping around the Milky Way to be honest. For the past year Vera had never stumbled upon another planet that looked even remotely like Earth. As far as she knew she was back on Earth. Technically she was. She was on the planet Earth, dimension C-137.
Vera stuffed the portal gun back into the inside pocket of a white lab coat a little too big for her, her eyes sweeping over the street. A lot could happen in a year she knew. It was the only justification for why Earth seemed to be inhabited by… alien tourists? Was contact made in her absence? Or maybe this was a different planet that just happened to look a lot like Earth?
Vera's doubts ended when another passing human told her that yes, this was Earth. Was she an alien for asking?
She couldn't help but snort at the question, shaking her head as she made it to what appeared to be a busy intersection. She was a human back amongst humans, and now aliens too she supposed. Sticking her hand inside one of the many pockets that lined the coat she traced over the rectangle of Rick's 3DS. The charge died out long ago when she stumbled upon a planet that was in complete darkness. Vera had to use the screen for light as she stumbled around in the dark looking for the portal gun that bounced away upon landing.
It had become a sense of security, sliding the handheld into her palm. It was the last of Rick she had left. That and the now worn coat. And the portal gun she supposed.
Vera stopped dead in her tracks and musings as she bumped into the back end of a crowd quickly forming. Aliens and humans alike had crowded around on the sidewalk, heads turned up towards the front of a giant screen that had to have been installed by the aliens. It was huge and the sound quality crystal clear even down on the street before amongst all the voices. Something of great interest was being discussed by some praying mantis aliens at what appeared to be a news desk. Words were scrolling fast along the bottom of the screen very much like a stock ticker. It took a few cycles for a language that Vera could identify as English to scroll through.
"Galactic Federation's #1 Terrorist now in custody. "
That sounded pretty important. Looking around Vera was unsurprised to see the aliens around them appreciating the significance of this development. The humans had begun to slowly filter out as the news casters kept speaking in some alien language. Vera was on her way out to join them, but then the screen flashed a picture of a man.
For the first time in a year Vera gazed up upon the face of the man who last she saw was very much dead under a blue tarp. That she covered him with.
His hair was a lot messier than she had ever seen, and he looked older somehow. Definitely grumpier. But there was no denying it. If Vera had not just been running around different worlds for the past year she would have put her foot down and rubbed her eyes raw, convinced she was just seeing things. But she had been doing just that. If there was technology to make portals and travel around the universe then why wouldn't there be some scientific medicine breakthrough to bring him back to life? Maybe one of these aliens found him, realized his genius and is now the famous inventor Vera always knew he could be.
She wished she understood whatever the aliens were saying. They were very excited after showing his picture, she could interpret that much. It wasn't until she picked out his name amongst the rapid flurry of alien garble that she allowed herself to hope. The same message about some terrorist kept scrolling below every so often in English, but Vera was too worked up to even notice. To put it all together.
Her hands went up to the lapels of the coat, pulling the material taught. She could give him back this coat and his 3DS. She could tell him all about her adventures, show him his portal gun. Maybe he could finally come clean and talk about all his past adventures. Maybe they could go on a few of their own. Maybe as a now famous figure in this new alien-human world they could finally have enough money to settle down. Have the wedding that was always set vaguely for some date in the future. Their year apart could have only strengthened the bond between them. Vera allowed herself to smile the widest she's had in the past year.
He was alive.
Now all she had to do was find him.