"I must say, normally Antauri and Nova are the more timely members of the team. I wonder what is taking them."
"Relax Gibson, I'm sure they have a good excuse for being late." Chiro explained. Gibson, Sprx, Chiro, and Captain Shuggazoom were in the main room waiting for the remaining members of the monkey team.
"Even so, tardiness should not be tolerated." The residential genius crossed his arms in a stern matter.
Sprx rolled his eyes. "Relax, Brainstrain. No need to be so uptight."
"Shut it, Sparky."
It was nice to see some things never change.
Otto continued to rub his head in frustration. All this confusion was making his head spin. He knew he wasn't the brightest monkey in the banana tree, but this was outright ridiculous!
"We don't have time to worry about this," said Nova suddenly. "We'll deal with her later. Right now Chiro needs us in the Command Center." Otto nodded in agreement and turned his head to look at the woman - now turned child - and gently grabbed her by the arm. He motioned her to follow him and she complied.
"Where are we going?" Chameel asked in their mid-walk to the main room. The alarm kept sounding. "I'm scared." She held Mr. Fluffy close to her stomach and held on closer to the green monkey. She was only a couple of inches taller than him, so it wasn't that awkward.
"Chiro's calling a team meeting, and so were going to the Command Center like Nova said." Otto explained. He smiled. "Don't worry though. With us here we won't let anything bad happen to you." He turned his head back to the front as they broke out in a slow run to the command center. Nova reached it first.
"Otto's right behind me," she said, gesturing to the hall in her rear. "...And he's got a bit of a surprise with him, so don't freak out."
Gibson's thoughts instantly turned to Chameel. "Is something wrong with Chameel?" Gibson asked, medical mode taking over. "I checked all of her vital signs this morning and everything seemed stable."
"Don't worry Gibson, for the most part she's fine, but something weird happened this morning and we aren't exactly sure how to deal with it." Chiro changed the subject.
"Have you seen Antauri?" Chiro asked. Nova blinked in confusion, normally Antauri was never late for team meeting. "Apparently Sprx saw him this morning, but he's not in his room."
She shook her head no. "I haven't seen him since yesterday." Her eyes once again shifted to Sprx. They locked eyes for a split second before he quickly shifted his gaze. Otto walked in at that precise moment.
"Hey guys, sorry I'm late, but Nova and I had a bit of a detour." It was quiet obvious to who he was referring to by the site of the girl on his arm, still clinging to him as if her life depended on it.
"Otto explained to me that he went to the med bay to check up on Chameel, and when she woke up she started acting like a seven year-old, begging him to play tag with her. She ran off and ended up in my room. When we found her she was in this form you see here." Nova explained. The others stared in awe, while Gibson pondered in scientific fascination.
"Fascinating..." he spoke, walking over to the young girl. He eyed her suspiciously as her green eyes followed his movements. Otto watched him as well. After a few uncomfortable moments under his gaze, Maya tugged slightly on Otto's arm, urging him to come closer.
"Otto, why is Gibson staring at me?" Chameel whispered a little bit to loudly. Gibson and the rest of the Hyperforce - excluding Antauri - all overheard her state the identities of the mechanic and scientist. They all seemed to instantly realize that Chameel now knew who both Otto and Gibson were by name.
"Wait, isn't she suppose to not remember-" Sprx began, only to be interrupted by Nova's elbow jabbing him in the ribs, cutting his sentence off before it could be completed. They didn't want to reveal too much in front of the young girl just yet. They had no idea what they were dealing with here.
All attention turned to Otto, as the rest of the team and Captain Shuggazoom waited for his response to the girl's question.
"Uhhhhh..." Otto was stumped. He warily looked over the faces of his teammates. Chiro seemed the most calm and urged him to not reveal everything about the situation to the small child, but that was expected as leader. Nova's look portrayed confusion, Sprx seemed to not exactly believe what was transcending before him, and Captain Shuggazoom seemed disconnected from the whole situation. It was then he noticed that one of the honorary members was absent. "...Where's Jinmay?"
'Smooth, Otto. Smooth.' His conscious responded. The entire team sweat dropped, and Maya blinked, oblivious to the awkwardness her question had brought up. Chiro sighed, this wasn't going to go anywhere. They could sort it out later.
"I sent her out on patrol. She's checking up on the strong holds on each end of the city. We briefly lost contact with the western patrol overnight. Apparently they thought they saw something run from the city and into the woods entering into the Savage Lands." Chiro responded, Chameel's question momentarily forgotten.
"But that area is under extreme guard. Nothing could go in or out without someone noticing." Sprx spoke up. He had a bad feeling about this entire thing, and with Antauri still not turning up for team meeting...He turned and locked eyes with Gibson. Apparently he was thinking the same thing. "Kid, do you even sense Antauri in the robot?" He asked Chiro. The teenage hero didn't like where this was going. In response, the young leader closed his eyes, sending out a message with the Power Primate.
Each of the Hyperforce members heard the signal in their heads. As quickly as it came it left, leaving a feeling of remorse in the air.
There was no sign from the silver monkey.
"No response," Chiro clarified, his face frowning.
"But...how?" Sprx managed to say. "I literally saw him two hours ago on top of the robot!" His fists clenched. "This can't be happening!" He the suddenly ran over to the main computer, pressing buttons fiercely as his rage slowly began to take its control.
"Uh, Sprx. What are you doing?" Chiro asked the red monkey, slightly put off by his change in demeanor.
"Him and I were on the robot's shoulder at sunrise," Sprx replied, with newfound determination. "He can't be to far." He then took a step back from the main screen as a video clip began to play on the main screen.
The others watched as Antauri sat still for a few moments after Sprx left. All seemed normal, until Antauri hastily took a fighting stance.
His purple ghost claws out and ready to attack. He side-glanced from left to right, not seeing anything or anyone, but then suddenly dropped to the ground.
His teammates watched helplessly as their second in command was brought down to the floor. "But that's impossible..." Nova said, staring at the black shape on the screen.
Antauri's eyes widened as he came face to face with an exact replica of his old body."Who are you!?" Antauri asked, fighting his way through the pain and hysteria to stand and fire an attack.
Chameel watched silently at the display. Utter horror was displayed across the child's face. She suddenly felt uncomfortable in Otto's arms. She looked up at the green monkey's face to see he was tranced into looking at the monitor and nothing else.
"Shall I deliver the final blow master?" A feminine voice grazed Antauri's ears. He recognized it as Chameel's. His pupils dilated in realization.
The girl suddenly stopped moving. Otto fumbled slightly when the girl's legs collapsed underneath her. "Maya!" He exclaimed, and Captain Shuggazoom's eyes instantly shot open. She fell to the ground unconscious as Otto caught her by the shoulders, preventing her from face-planting on the floor.
"Otto get away from her!" Nova yelled standing next to Chiro. Her transformers were out and Chiro was in a battle stance, ready at the slightest chance that Chameel would out-lash at them and attempt an escape. Gibson and Sprx followed suit, while Otto was still transfixed on the girl in front of him.
"Hold your attack." A calm but stern voice said. The Captain's eyes never left the form of the young girl before him. It was impossible, he reasoned, but her name, eyes and hair color all matched up. He suddenly found himself moving from his otherwise stoic position towards the girl in a sudden haste. He knelt down and pierced into her gaze, performing a similar technique Antauri had used on the woman the night before. He was not an expert on mind merges, but he knew enough. In the spilt second the Captain was able to touch Chameel's conscious, he heard a voice.
'Remember.' A voice said, only this one was different. It wasn't one of the voice that had originally troubled her mind before she met the rest of the Hyperforce, but it was familiar.
"Antauri..." she repeated out load, recognizing the owner of the voice. The Captain opened his eyes. Antauri mental link with her had been subconsciously kept from the night before. The silver monkey had forced the Captain's presence out of the young girl's mind. The others had heard her speak Antauri's name and were all now closing in around her unconscious form with curious glances.
'I can't. Something is blocking that memory.' Chameel thought back. Antauri needed her complete attention if his connection was to remain intact.
'You need to remember. The others are in trouble, and for some reason you are the only one able to hear my voice.'
"The others...are...in trouble..." she spoke again, repeating Antauri's warning. Nova didn't like where this was going.
"Okay, someone explain to me what in the world is going on here!?"
"I must remember. I need to remember!" Chameel continued, ignoring Nova's pleas for clarification. 'But what is it I need to remember.' She grabbed her head in pain and frustration as she fought the own mental barriers in her brain. His name echoed in her mind, at first not evoking a physical response. She pondered it for a few minutes while the rest of the Hyperforce began to panic, a solid memory being evoked from her conscious.
"Mommy, why do Otto and Gibson have to leave?" Chameel asked, as a young girl.
An older woman stood up and walked away from her desk. The shadows of the room concealed her face. She bent down to pick up the child, who Chameel instantly recognized as Maya. Bending down the girl got a good look at the woman's face. Beautiful green eyes looked down at her. They held sincerity and compassion of a strong, yet gentle maternal figure. Brown hair was long and straight, reaching down to her mid back. She was by no means short, but rather of medium height and curvature. She was rather stunning.
"And beautiful," Captain Shuggazoom would add, if he were here to witness this memory.
"Maya, Otto and Gibson have learned everything I can teach them." the woman said gently, stroking some loose hair out of Maya's face and tucking it behind her ear. "They need experience life on their own, sweetie. It's the only way for them to fulfill their duties to the team." Maya sobs were muffled against her chest as she continued to cry.
"Why does everyone I ever care about have to leave!?" She yelled. The rest of the memory was of Chameel comforting the seven year old until she fell asleep in her mother's arms.
Her eyes opened, but instead of her normal green irises, two green pools of iridescent energy stared back at the monkey team. It reminded Chiro of how he looked when the Skeleton Drone had invaded the Super Robot in the belly of the Dark One Worm. He had not taken on the glowing green eyes since that incident, but he had a feeling it wouldn't be the last time either.
Antauri's mind link was very weak, almost nonexistent, and yet for some reason only she could hear him. She had figured out someone had messed with her memories, and it was thanks to Antauri's mind melding which allowed her to sort through her memories. What didn't make sense though was she recognized both the older face and younger face in her memory as her own. Chameel's face was Maya's face?
Rather, Maya had multiple faces.
It was at this moment that Chameel realized something. If her memory served her correctly, then she was in fact not Chameel at all.
She was Maya.
Antauri continued to feed her images from last night's fight while she reiterated everything she saw to the monkey team - her changing shapes and being controlled. It all made sense.
"Chameel can't be trusted," Maya repeated as Antauri spoke in her mind. "She took me to Skeleton King and a woman name Valkyrie. She is under their control." At this the monkey team gasped.
"They have taken me apart." She added after a moment. Maya started to cry, knowing very well she was the one who had delivered Antauri to the Skeleton King's fortress. Nova covered her mouth in utter horror, while the others were infuriated. Sprx was the worst off, his anger activating his magnets and unleashing an uncontrolled blast of electrical fury. The energy crackled and surrounded him, responding to his emotions. Chiro stood the closest to the red comedian, and was the first to try and calm him down.
"Sprx, stop!" He locked eyes with the young hero before consciously powering down his magnets and clenching his fists instead. Nova had learned from her previous encounter with the red monkey and chose to leave the simian alone in his blind fury.
"Chiro..." Chiro's attention instantly turned to the girl once again. "Antauri says to perform a mind merge." She grunted and held her head in agony. "I'm the only one who knows where Antauri is, but in this current state Chameel can retake me over at any second. I need to clear my head of her influence before it's to late." Chiro nodded, taking immediate strides toward Maya. When a deliberate Captain Shuggazoom intercepted his path, Chiro did a double-take. For the first time since the beginning of the conversation, all eyes were on the Captain.
"While I appreciate the good you are attempting to do, Chiro, I believe this is something I need to do." The Captain said as he picked up Maya, her eyes still aglow. "You see, I haven't been one-hundred percent honest with all of you. I knew Chameel back in my days as good old Clayton Carrington, and recognized her the minute she arrived here in the robot." He placed her gently on the medical table and looked at her form for a couple seconds. "I didn't say anything because I had my suspicions that it might not have been her, or she wouldn't have remembered me." Taking a meditation stance on the ground, the Captain began to concentrate. "I now realize that I was correct. Chameel's spirit is not present within the threshold of this body, rather her mind and psychological self is. I must separate Chameel's memories from Maya's wake." A green ring of energy slow appeared around the Captain, as he slowly began to perform the mind merge. "I have failed those who I care about deeply in my absence, and I will not fail them again. I will explain more when I am done treating this young lady." The old man entered the mind merge state, leaving his audience with a lot of unanswered questions. Still slightly confused, members of the Hyperforce began to exchange weird glances, all except for Gibson.
"I believe now would be an appropriate time to discuss matters Otto could not earlier." Gibson was known as the unemotional in the group, having grown up to sometimes prefer the company of his chemicals than his teammates. However, he was much more knowledgeable on the topic of relationships than one would realize. "During our time under Chameel's tutorage, we were introduced to a young girl. Maya was her name. It turned out that she was in fact Chameel's daughter, blood related I would assume, as the eye color and physical similarities are somewhat profound. However, during our time at the Keruki estate, there was an absence of a paternal guardian." Gibson spoke, walking over to the Captain. The scientist waved his hand in front of his face. He was correct. The Captain indeed could not hear or see anything going on around him as the mind merge progressed. "It came to my attention while were there that she also made a great effort from ever referencing Maya's father or his whereabouts." At this explanation, the Hyperforce's eyes widened.
"So you're saying that gramps over here is in fact Maya's father?" Sprx spoke up, scratching his head in confusion.
"I'm merely speculating the obvious, Sprx, from what I know of Chameel and Maya, and what the Captain just stated before going into his trance."
"Now that ya mention it," Otto added, putting a finger in the air as a thought suddenly registered, "their ages back then would line up! If the Captain was as old as he said he was back in the day before his big sleep, then that would put him around the same age Chameel should have been at the time of the accident." Gibson nodded, agreeing with Otto's statement.
"Excellent point Otto." Gibson said, praising his companion. The green mechanic just smiled his ginormous grin in appreciation. "And I believe once the Captain awakens, he can further shed some light on this situation." The others nodded.
"But what about Antauri!" Sprx shouted. "We can't just sit here and wait for the Captain to wake up. We have no idea how long that will take!"
"Sprx," Chiro began, "Mind merging is much more complicated than it seems. The concepts of normal time and space do not apply. Seconds could be weeks, minutes could be years, and vica versa. I will contact Jinmay and see what she has discovered. Something tells me her patrol did not go as smoothly as we planned." He understood where the pilot was coming from, but as leader he had to act with a sense of reason and logic. "All we can do right now is wait, but when we strike, we'll know how to rescue Antauri and defeat the old bag of bones for good." After a few seconds of staring the kid down, Sprx sighed and began to walk toward his red tube.
"I'll be in my room," he said, before crossing his arms and disappearing up the transport system. Nova held up her hand as if trying to stop the red monkey from leaving, but he was too quick. The others watched as her supposed mate left, while she remained reminiscent on the morning's events with disappointment.
"I'm sure he'll come around, Nova." Gibson reasoned, placing a hand on her shoulder. They locked eyes and she embraced the scientist in a much needed hug. A single tear made its way down her cheek as she took in the much needed comfort.
Wow. This took me way longer than I thought to get up on the site. Forgive me for not updating. This chapter was key to explaining many important details, and it had to be done just right in order to give the most dramatizing effect without going overboard with details or unanswered questions. I am actually very happy with how it turned out, and would like to that all those who reviewed, especially Fastern. I have put a major amount of time and thought into these characters and want people to not only enjoy the plot, but connect with them as well. Again, reviews are not expected but very much appreciated, and do help motivate me into updating with better frequency. Merry Belated Christmas and I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year! Thanks again!
Domination of the World