Blinx: The Time Sweeper (Redux)

Chapter One: The Time Factory

"Time is like a treasure. Use each gem of it wisely, and your dreams will come true". Blinx reflected on that first statement given to him during his training as a Time Sweeper. After two long years, he was finally ready to travel to different worlds collecting time crystals so the flow of time would be optimal. From his locker, he picked a bright blue high neck jacket with a golden jingle bell on the neck, red baggy pants, white boots with steel toes, white gloves and silver googles; they all made his orange and white fur and his green eyes stand out. He inspected his standard-issue TS-1000 LV1 sweeper and found the round yellow deposit with silver buttons and a red arrow spinning slowly, the chromed tube and the red mouth all in perfect condition. He put his equipment on his back and walked out of the employee lockers into the moving catwalks. The sound of the giant engrams on the ceiling was muffled by the announcements from the big screens on both walls. Walking along his new fellow sweepers, he looked around to see if he could find the people he trained with, but he couldn't distinguish Necoji, Chron, Pelon or Picaro among the hundreds of sweepers going in and out of the doors that lead to the thousands of worlds the Time Factory supplied time to: Maybe they're already with our supervisor He took out his C.L.O.K.D (standing for Communication Log Organizational Key Device) to recheck which world they was assigned to: B1Q64 is a Class 1 client with an optimal Time Usage rate. Created on 11/32/78. Monster threat code: Green. Average sweep time: 3 minutes. He was comforted that his first assignment was such an easy one, but still wished to do his best for the people living there, even if he wouldn't meet them on a normal basis. The interferences caused by the appearance of time crystals saw to that. Suddenly, an alarmed beeped:

"An emergency announcement from management" said an operator with white fur and a in a worried voice. Blinx jumped of the catwalk to see the screen better. "The Tom-Tom Gang of time bandits has invaded World B1Q64!" A video of the gold and green mother ship of the porcine delinquents flew over the streets of a city at night time. From it a bunch of flying bikes manned by the Tom-Toms emerged as the announcer continued "They've broken the time we delivered and are stealing the resulting time crystals!" Blinx saw the people on the streets freeze and turn into familiar shapes he memorized in training purple crosses, red hearts, blue moons, yellow stars, etc., horrifying him. "The Tom-Tom Gang profits by selling time to other worlds". An image of their leader appeared on screen, wearing a green suit, green aviator hat, a red lens on one eye and a blue on the other and a golden crown; time crystals and golden coins rained behind him as he laughed. "But the number of crystals they've stolen is off the charts!" The image changed to more Tom-Toms heading to a concentration of crystals, but a bright light fused them together and created a giant round red creature with green spots and yellow numbers on its skin, along with a head full of brown fur and disproportionate horns. "Some of the crystals have already turned into monsters!" The newly born time monster tried to grab one of the bikes, but the rider barely avoided it while he screamed in terror. The image of the chaos caused by the invaders zoomed out and the announced could be seen clearly distressed and holding into his mic. "We need your help as quickly as possible!" The screen blurred and the official broadcast was replaced with a pirated one. The Tom-Tom leader showed up with his guards, to his right one of them was holding a human who struggled to get free. She had white skin and long blonde hair tied in two giant plaited locks and was wearing a white camisole with a pink ribbon, white trousers and a pair of white slippers:

"You Time Factory clods! We've captured the princess of World B1Q64!" The top pink proclaimed but his prisoner set herself free and immediately interrupted him by kicking him in the mouth and throwing him off the screen:

"Don't let them get away with this!" she begged in a sweet and desperate voice. Looking to her green eyes made Blinx blush. The pig leader pushed her aside: "Shut up! Your world's all out of time, baby!" he said grinning menacingly. One of his minions ran scared towards him screaming: "Boss! The time crystals! They've become monsters!"

"What the - ?!" said the boss as the transmission cut out. Suddenly all the screen turned red and the alarms beeped louder. A mechanical voice came from the main clock of the factory:

"Alert from Mother Computer: Danger level exceeded in World B1Q64. The time monsters are absorbing more energy" Most of the staff looked in horror at each other "They're going to explode… and destroy the world. We must protect the other worlds. B1Q64 will be cut from the Time Factory. Its supply of time will be forever frozen." Panic began to spread among the workers, many running for the exit. In that moment of turmoil, as he debated internally what to do, he saw the door to B1Q64 slam open. "All employees stationed in World B1Q64, exit immediately!" As ordered, several sweepers emerged from the portal and ran to the exit, but stopped when they saw Blinx rush past them and sprint towards a set of stairs:

"Blinx! What do you think you're doing?! World B1Q64 is done for – forget it!" Blinx recognized the voice as his new boss, whom he just met the day before and wanted to make a good impression to him. But it was too late for formalities now. The young sweeper stood at the top of the jumping platform, breathing heavily from both exhaustion and fear:

"Can I really do this?" he asked himself. His mind immediately raced back to the princess. She was beautiful, but in danger. He could only imagine the suffering she had in that moment, the anguish of seeing her people disappear. She was powerless, but he wasn't. A deep flame of compassion surged inside Blinx: He would take the suffering away. "I want to see her smile. I want her to live happy" he thought. Gathering all his courage he raced across the platform and jumped into the portal. He was briefly blinded by the light of the portal as he emerged into the other side, but he wasn't where he expected to be. Instead he was looking at a store, complete with the pink and grey steel walls. The sound of a sweeper shooting alerted him and he barely managed to dodge a spike ball:

"I told you to stay away!" yelled a female voice. Behind the counter stood a shopkeeper. Her fur was white, except for the brown tips of her ears. She dressed in all light pink; she had a long-sleeved top with dark pink stripes on the wrists and a white jingle bell on her neck, a short skirt where the darker stripe looked like a belt, tall boots with darker soles and a round hat with two dark stripes. Her blue eyes, partially hidden by a frown, grabbed all of the newcomer's attention. She was clutching a green sweeper and looked quite distressed: "Oh, you're one of us" said when she recognized Blinx as a Time Sweeper. She put her weapon aside and the two approached each other: "I'm Catherine, shopkeeper of B1Q64. And you are…?"

"Blinx" answered the orange and white cat "What happened here? Time monsters?"

"Tom-Toms" clarified the white cat "Something happened to the shop's transporter and they got inside. They tried to rob me, but luckily this thing was loaded" said showing her sweeper "They have quite a knockback, though. No wonder you guys train to use them" Her face turned sad. Looking as she was about to cry "You're trapped here also, aren't you?"

"Not exactly…" he answered, not sure of how to comfort her "It's kind of my first day and when I heard the Tom-Toms invaded this world and kidnapped its princess… well… I decided to do my job" "Now that I said it aloud I sound so stupid". Catherine didn't answer immediately, trying to process what she just heard, looking at him with a confused face: "I was supposed to end up directly in that world, but now I'm here"

"The time distortions, sure" replied the white cat trying to be nice: "Come with me" They walked into the back store, dimly lighted by blue lights and came across a wall sized processor on their right. "This controls the transportation, among other things" she explained "It takes this store to the Time Factory to resupply and stays parallel to the world so sweepers can come in and out without other people knowing about it" She kneeled and took off a panel, showing burnt circuits: "But with all this racket it got damaged. I was supposed to be taken back to the Factory when the announcement started…" She started to sob and went quiet for a moment: "I don't want to die in here" she said weakly.

"I'm sorry" said Blinx putting a hand on her shoulder "but maybe I can help. If I clear enough areas of the world of monsters, maybe you'll be able to go back" She stood up still with tears in her eyes, but smiling:

"Thank you" she said and hugged him. "I'm sorry I can't help you right now "She pointed to a giant safe across the room: "All items are kept there and it will only open when enough gold is put into the register. If you don't have money, bring thrash from your rounds and I will open a credit line; also, the materials are used by the safe to make some items, so pay attention to unusual stuff lying around. One more thing, can I see your C.L.O.K.D?" The orange cat handed her his apparatus and she imputed some data into it: "There. Now every time you clean a zone you'll come back here. I will also be able to see what you see and talk to you" She took his hand "Be careful, okay?" Blinx nodded smiling, happy to have a new ally:

"Don't worry, we'll make it!" he said as he walked back to the portal. Now having two women to fight for, the young time sweeper breathed deeply and jumped back to his mission.