E-Mir and I exited the portal and looked around. We were in a clearing, surrounded by Earth pines. The temperature was relatively high, resulting in several heat shimmers. A quadruped of some sort, grazing in shrubs, noticed us and fled. Just then, I heard a whoosh and something clonked me on the head. Rubbing my skull, I turned to see my transmitter-the one I had given to the Doctor-lying at my feet. A note was attached:

"To Whom It May Concern:

Hello, Sam. I admit I got this to you a bit late, but since I don't think you've really done anything, no harm done.

By the way, I'm surprised you've kept your Pokemon Trainer outfit. That thing is tough as nails!

And finally, the last key is a nice, yellow gem with a man who rides flying lizards. I suggest tact and diplomacy. So have your Luminoth friend get the key.

I ripped the note off and tossed it aside.

"Nice place," noted E-Mir. She dug her feet into the ground. "This world is just oozing with energy, even more than Aether. But that leaves the question, where is all this energy coming from?"

I shrugged and started walking in what I judged was southwest. E-Mir was right behind, still pondering the mystery of the forest. She broke from her thoughts to try and stop me from butchering and consuming a quadruped similar to the one we had encountered, to little success. After that break, we soon entered a clearing-technically. The flora was far less abundant than deeper in the forest. However, the trees were much larger, and it appeared as if houses were carved into them. I sensed movement. At the very edge of the tree line were humanoids with slim, tall bodies, primitive clothing, intelligent eyes, and quite pointy ears. The humanoids reminded me of star elves. They watched us carefully, wondering whether or not we were a threat. My head began to ache.

That's because we're being psychically probed!

It's almost as bad as anal probing.

Nothing is as bad as that.

We are so awesome that we can talk, shield, AND fight the mental probe.

That psychic paper amplifies everything!

I observed the elves further. They were clearly under stress and concentration. Beside me, E-Mir's brow was furrowed, although she was having a much better time than the humanoids.

"Advanced psychic training," she explained when she caught my eye.

"The Luminoth are skilled telepaths. We usually only communicate via our minds. So to keep some thoughts private, we learn to block them off and ward off intruders. Never attack, though."

We stood locked in combat with the telepaths. Then one of them gasped.

I've broken its mental shield!

Wow, these creatures are old.

Real old. But that doesn't matter.

Time to turn this sucker into a drooling wreck.

As if a switch was flipped, the creature collapsed, babbling in a tongue that I couldn't understand. Spittle flew from its lips. The other elves fled back, keeping their minds blocked. Once they were gone from view, we continued walking.

"Why did you kill that one?" E-Mir questioned. I shrugged.

"You are more callous than I was told. What has changed you so?"

Possibly killing, near death experiences, broken trusts, shattered friendships, and an ongoing fusion with one of the worst predators known to sentient life.

Also, I didn't like the way he was looking at us.

I shrugged. E-Mir sighed, and said, "Let's go. And please refrain from causing an ecological disaster, please."

We continued trekking through the forest. The clearing was left in our wake, and we soon happened upon a massive tree. E-Mir examined it, and then dug her feet into the ground. She gasped. "This tree is the root of all energy in the area! What is more, it is-!"

E-Mir writhed and collapsed. Oddly, her feet stayed in the ground. I stepped forward to examine her.

Vitals are normal, but her brain waves are off the charts. She's either communicating with something incredibly powerful…

Or she's having a seizure.

Take your pick.

It's more or less the same.

E-Mir sat up suddenly. She gasped yet again.

"It… it spoke! It spoke to us!"

And what did it say?

"To answer your question, consciousness riding shotgun, as you humans say, it told me in no uncertain terms to leave. We are disturbing the sanctity of its domain. In addition, it seems to fear you, mainly because it doesn't understand you."

And it understands you?

"Quite well. I let it poke around in my mind."

Because…

"It mollified the creature, this 'Menoa Tree', and kept it peaceful."

If keeping it quiet means not having to fight any Ents, I'm all for it. Let's roll.

Literally.

I curled into a ball and rolled off. E-Mir's wings unfurled and she lifted off. This faster method of transportation lent us a quick way out of the forest. We emerged from the forest into a war zone. Humans in armor clashed with more of the elven humanoids. The humans were clearly losing, but there were so many of them that it would take too long to wait for the fight to end. Instead, I waded into the fray. Humans and elves alike dropped to beam shots. A few unlucky ones were butchered manually. The combat soon died down as the combatants noticed me. They distanced themselves quickly, unwilling to get within my range. I beckoned E-Mir forward. She grimaced at the bodies, and then moved on. We left the humans gazing fearfully in our direction. Some of the elven humanoids adopted looks of concentration that signified telepathy/kinesis. I eyed them as we walked away.

We followed a river south to an incredibly primitive settlement. The roofs were made of a plant substance. As the buildings grew inwards, they grew taller as well. A large analog sign was stuck at the perimeter of the settlement. E-Mir examined it. She grimaced. " I can't read it. It seems to be in a dialect of Basic from the Pre-Galactic-Era. Well, this sign proves that we have gone back in time. Here I assumed we were only jumping through space. Unless this dimension's perception of time is dilated. Of course, we could just be on an incredibly primitive planet. One of them. We should probably go around. I don't want to antagonize the locals."

On cue, screams rang out from the settlement.

"Damn," E-Mir cursed. She moved back. I quietly moved behind a building. The screams persisted, now with an extra helping of maniacal laughter.

Flames began to sprout along buildings from an unseen central source. I leaped onto a rough, plant roof to look around. A black draconus tyrannus, a long extinct species popularly known as a dragon, rampaged over the city, spewing flames and wreaking havoc. On its back, a Luminoth whom I recognized as X-Sol cackled maniacally.

Well what do you know.

We locked eyes and exchanged savage looks. Then X-Sol wheeled his flying lizard towards me. It dove in my direction, but as soon as its claws were ready to tear into my flesh, I leaped and grabbed said claws. From there, I scaled the lizard's body, determined to rend the flesh from X-Sol's skull, pausing occasionally to gouge out chunks in the hide of his ride. I stopped briefly to chortle at the rhyme, and was immediately whacked upon the head by a shiny sword. It failed to pierce my skin, but certainly hurt. I looked up to see X-Sol wielding said blade disgustedly.

"Look at this. Just look. The weapon is pathetic. I know any number of laser batons that could slice clean through you but this so-called sword is a piece of junk," X-Sol growled, swinging the sword. He eyed it one more time, then tossed it away. While he had been engaging in a monologue, I had been climbing up the lizard, and slashed out at him. The blow failed to slice him in half, but it did connect with his spine. He collapsed and growled at me.

"Nice move. But don't think it'll stop me."

"I know. Maybe this will."

I curled into a Morph Ball and planted a bomb. It went off. X-Sol was swallowed up in the explosion and turned into a mass of X particles. With his disintegration, his dragon vaporized too. Into a mass of antimatter particles.

SHIT!

I jumped and spiraled towards the ground, hoping to get far enough away from the antimatter before it reacted and exploded. No such luck. The antimatter combusted, and a massive explosion built up. Because of real matter's dampening effect on antimatter, the explosion was sluggish. But it still expanded rapidly, quickly annihilating the X parasites that used to be X-Sol.

Only got one chance. I really hope this works…

A portal opened up below me, and I fell into its maw.

I fell through the warp, which opened up shortly- around a planet.

Better get down there.

On my back, air jets opened up, and I angled my way down into the atmosphere. Gravity soon took hold, and I rocketed downwards. A heat aura soon built up from my body. Trying to see through the haze, I watched a settlement at ground level rapidly increase in size as people scattered from a central point. The point didn't look like anything was wrong. Then I realized where I was aimed at.

WAIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIIII-

BRAKOOSH!

I slammed into the ground with a muted whumph. The whumph was muted by the shockwave caused by my body falling to space. That shockwave pretty much decimated the area. As I got up, I noticed that several people had broken my fall. Their corpses were flattened, and liquids were leaking out of them every which way. I wasn't much concerned for them, looking myself over to make sure that I was still intact. Amazingly, my Pokemon Trainer clothes were barely rumpled.

What the hell do they make those with?

Mareep fur strengthened with the outer coating of dead Metagross.

Ahh. For comfort, durability, and protection.

The buildings around me hadn't fared much better either. Whereas even an average shack on an average moon would have barely shaken from a blow like that, the shacks around me were reduced to rubble.

WOOMPH! I was struck in the back by a fiery projectile. As I turned around, I got a faceful of spiked projectiles. Most of them bounced off. Two of them didn't.

ARCEUS CHRIST!

I staggered around, trying to yank the projectile from my left eye. It came out with a sickening squelch sound. As I peered at the end of it, I realized that stuck to the tip was an eyeball.

ARCEUS FUCKING CHRIST!

I pulled the second projectile out, and my vision went black.

Soon, light appeared, as though looking through a fisheye lens. Electric charges arced about, taking the shapes of humanoids. There was nothing except them. It was now impossible to see the landscape.

Hmm… use a Wavebuster on the ground. The sheer amount of electricity should overcome the resistance and spread out, giving you a good look.

I followed the suggestion. It worked. Electricity spread throughout the area. It dissipated after a certain distance, but what was left was locked within the structures in the area, giving me a view for about five hundred square meters.

I watched humanoid-shaped charges making lobbing motions at other humanoids, which were stringing up some strange curved object and launching projectiles similar to the one that had removed my eyesight. I immediately stalked towards them, ignoring the projectiles that were now headed my way. A few missiles were able to decimate most of the group, although a few still stood, for reasons I could not figure out. A mental assault started pounding on my head.

We're on it.

The few standing humanoids twitched and fell.

Piece of cake.

It's a lie.

From the other side, the human-shaped charges cautiously moved towards me. Apparently, they believed that the enemy of their enemy was their friend.

A charge shaped like a Luminoth came to the forefront.

" 54M. How's it going?"

I examined the electricity carefully. Several horned humanoids gripped blunt weapons. A few shorter ones waved sharper ones near me. And a select few with pointed ears simply observed me. Then there was the dragon.

It was a massive lizard of unknown color. I followed its neck to its head. Atop the dragon sat another pointy-ear, who pointed its sword at me.

"Stand down, he's friendly," E-Mir called. She walked around me, observing me carefully. "Why don't we introduce ourselves?"

I stood inside a tent, watching as E-Mir conversed with her friends. There were the elves, named Eragon, Arya, and Blodhgarm. The trolls, known as Urgals, were mostly nameless, save their leader Garzhvog. The dwarves were uncomfortable around me, so I only learned the name of their leader, Orik. The only thing any of these species had in common was their allegiance to some sort of rebellion. A dark-skinned human named Nasuada commanded these representatives. I took the numbers of each race in the tent to be representative of the number of their species, save the humans. They clearly outnumbered the rest, except the dwarves. I found it interesting that the humans managed to keep control over creatures clearly more powerful than themselves. Then I returned back to the conversation as Nasuada asked, "Well?"

She's discussing a deal.

You kill a town, we get our rock.

Easy.

I nodded.

"Excellent," she said.

Her friends didn't look nearly as pleased. They watched me carefully. I detected hints of mental presences, but they merely danced around the edges of my mind, like the buzz of a Horbathion brain tick.

"Great," E-Mir said. "We'll complete the job, and come back for the gem."

She grabbed my shoulder and steered me out of the tent. As we walked through the campsite the tent was in, E-Mir started talking.

"Just where the hell have you been?" she questioned.

I shrugged.

"What kind of answer is that? You leap onto the back of a goddamned dragon. That dragon then goes nuclear in an antimatter explosion. Four weeks after that, you fall from the stratosphere. What the hell goes on in your life? And what happened in those four weeks?"

Again, I shrugged.

E-Mir looked exasperated. "One day, you have to see a therapist and a real telepath, not these pretenders. Now come on, we have a town to capture."

On our way out of the campsite, we were accosted by murderous glares. Many men wielding sharp sticks waved them at me threateningly. I showed them a lightning storm by firing a Wavebuster into the sky. As we were almost out of the campsite, a man with a blunt object blocked our path. He glared at me threateningly. I gave him a grin. He definitely seemed shaken by that, but stood his ground.

"Listen well, Ra'zac. I may let you go this time, but only as long as Nasuada says so. As soon as your deal is over, you're mine."

Then he grudgingly stepped aside. E-Mir and I stepped past. I grinned back at him. His eyes narrowed.

From the campsite, we trekked south, taking in the local color. When we were near our destination, we came across a swamp with strange electrical signals.

"Hmm… some sort of self-contained light source. Interesting," E-Mir noted as we slogged through the swamp. Finally, though, we were at our destination. A wall of an electrically resisting material blocked our path, although sluices in the wall let water through.

"Let's go about this with subtlety," E-Mir again cautioned. I shrugged, and started looking around. Finding stealthy ways to enter the area lent it a challenging, exciting feel, aided by the fact that my vision was hindered. Then I struck upon a plan.

Alright. Let's see what the Luminoth has to say about it.

With the psychic paper, I explained my idea to E-Mir. She pondered it for several minutes before agreeing to it.

"Let's begin," she said.

I dove into the river and sank. I was virtually blind underwater because everything conducted electricity- it was like being in a snowstorm. Thankfully, E-Mir kept me oriented with the occasional psychic directive. I made my way to the sluices and curled into a Morph Ball. Then I rolled through the sluices and into the town. Once past the gates, I surfaced and climbed onto the dock. A Wavebuster was enough to grant me vision again. Using my electrically enhanced senses, I was able to detect the pathways of soldiers walking all around me. Using this knowledge, I systematically butchered each soldier near the waterfront. They were delicious. Then I carved a hole in the wall with a Plasma Beam to let E-Mir in. We strolled through the night-darkened streets, occasionally frying an unlucky trooper or two. I did the frying, though. We crossed the town and located the palace.

"All right," E-Mir muttered, "let's go in, capture the lord, and come out. Stealthily. Having the whole garrison of the town come down will slow us, and time in this dimension is already slower than back in ours. We have no time to waste."

With that in mind, I quietly set about to opening a hole in the wall. Meanwhile, judging by the sounds, E-Mir was distracting every single human within a hundred-meter radius, but she still managed to keep a mental link with me.

As the last chunks of magma dripped from the castle wall and solidified, E-Mir landed beside me. We entered the building.

Just how incredibly primitive was this planet? Not a single motion sensor or even patrol droid in sight. Just organic guards who dropped like plasma pins on a torus circuit. We essentially massacred everything in our way, which was everything. It was probably the smell of blood, organs, burning tapestries, and my eating of a guard's insides that caused our target, some lord or the other, to surrender immediately. E-Mir escorted him and his family away, while I waited in the town to keep it under check. It was fun. The townsfolk kept trying to stage rebellions, which were quickly put down. A few were able to use some sort of energy projectile to bruise me, but nothing serious. It was after five days of this that E-Mir and the reinforcements arrived. They toured the town, and were surprised that not a single person bore arms against them. With a subjugated town behind us, E-Mir and I trudged back through the swamp.

"Hmm. I'm impressed," said Nasuada, leader of the resistance group.

"In two days, a group of two not only delivers the objective, but manages to keep the entire town in check. How?"

E-Mir looked at me, and my lips bared open in a demented smile. She looked back, and grimly answered, "Believe me, you don't want to know."

The leader took one look at my grin and said, "I believe you. Now, back to business. I suppose it is time to honor our bargain. Look, but don't touch."

One of the elves unwillingly unwrapped a cloth bag to reveal a brilliant, multifaceted gem. I stared at it.

Your Metroid senses are tingling.

This is definitely the third key. Question is, what else is it?

What do you mean?

It looks like the X just latched onto this thing. It's something else… some sort of storage for a consciousness.

Huh. Guess their science is advanced in some areas after all.

Now, how do we coax the X out?

I suggest touching it.

I drew closer to the gem. The elves became more and more wary. They weren't wary enough to stop me from knocking it to the ground.

"NO!" one of the elves cried in fury. He drew his sword and then stopped. As the gem lay on the ground, cracked, its surface began to heal. X ooze dripped from the rifts to the ground, where it conglomerated into an X-Core. The gem itself now lay unscathed upon the floor. But we had more pressing concerns.

"Son of a bitch!" E-Mir gasped. The elves drew back. One of them cursed in a strange language.

The X-Core made to possess him. I warded it off with a missile shot. It quickly exited the tent, and we gave chase. Outside, trolls were trying to attack it. The humans were fleeing from it, the elves studying it, and the dwarves were assisting the trolls.

"Tell them to retreat!" E-Mir told Nasuada. She gave E-Mir a look of discontent. Then when one of the trolls was possessed and turned into a giant tentacle rape troll, she gave the order. E-Mir and I made for the Troll-X. It leered at us, and waved its tentacles around.

I've seen enough hentai...

To know where this is going!

E-Mir and I aimed bolts at the Troll-X's head. It simply batted them away with its tentacles, which just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

"Wait! It's following an attack pattern!" E-Mir called. She began to study it closer. Then at a random moment, she struck. Her energy whip lashed out and left a rent in the Troll-X's deformed chest.

"Strike every twenty seconds. After each strike, subtract two seconds from the cooldown time until you hit zero. Then repeat from twenty seconds again."

We followed through. Soon enough, the last bits of flesh dripped from the skeleton of the Troll-X. The skeleton dissolved into the Core-X. A few missiles later, and it compacted itself, shrinking and changing shape until it was in the visage of a yellow, gleaming jewel. I picked it up and inserted it into the transmitter. Meanwhile, E-Mir was thanking the others for their help. She rejoined me, and I booted up the transmitter. A pitch-black warp portal opened up, and I stepped through, E-Mir close behind.

The portal was particularly turbulent. Energy bolts flashed all around us. Thankfully, we arrived safely. When we stepped out, though, we were greeted by absolutely nobody. The laboratory was empty. E-Mir and I walked through the complex, seeing nobody. As we approached the upper floors, we could hear voices engaged in heated discussion. The topic? A suicide assault on SR388. The voices were in a heated frenzy when E-Mir and I stepped in.

The room immediately quieted. I looked around and saw thousands, if not millions, in the room. All sorts of species and alliances had formed. Krikens sitting next to Vhozons, humans and Star Elves bumping fists, even krogans and salarians kept the peace with each other.

I held up the transmitter, with the three keys inside. The room erupted again, but this time with cheers.

Next time: Preparation for the final assault begins. What has changed while our hero[es] was gone?

Damn. Nine weeks without even a peep. Sorry, but I've been busy. Busy how?

If you see a Spy or a Scout on Team Fortress 2 named 'vaidyan5', guess who.

I've completed two Nuzlocke Challenges.

I recently acquired a device known as an Arduino. In the weeks I've had it, I've turned an aluminum diorama into a makeshift Kinect, hacked an RC car, and made a Nerf gun fire by mind control.

Oh yeah, and writer's block. SEEEERIOUS WRITER'S BLOCK.

And now for replies:

A Semi Depressed Dalek Nerka: Sorry, but-as I may have already said- I won't be accepting any more OCs. And yes, I did say there was a deadline.

Darkfire Dragon28: I can just FEEL the waves of disappointment rolling of you. Honestly, I'm disappointed myself. But it wasn't all my fault. There was barely any information on the Tales wiki to use.

Vulaan Kulaas: Oh, I'm sorry, did I kill off X-Sol in the first thousand words? TROLOLOLOLOLOL!

Samus PWNS the Chief hard: Seriously, did everyone get a name change? But as to your question, I pretty much killed off Matt. He wasn't my own OC, and as such, I felt no real connection to him. And about Sonic '06? Pretty widely considered to be the turning point, where Sonic the Hedgehog did a nosedive in quality. And I have to agree. Buying powerups? Hell naw.

Draconic: Take an aspirin.

Don't forget to read and review. Speaking of reviews, please focus on the story. Replying to my commentary should just be a side dish. Constructive criticism and/or praise requested.

ARandomDay out. Peace!