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A New Time

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            Max is an artist. She likes photography but dabbles in doodles in her journal from time to time. Now, it’s time for Max to find her way out of the Transect. Quickly, she doodles what she remembers to be the outside view of her Seattle home - the trees being firm and the neighboring houses being low… at least, that’s how she remembers them looking. It’s been a long time.

            “Okay, time to go home.” Max holds the drawing in front of her face and stares at it. She feels the connection between the Transect and Seattle forming… just as Victoria flies into her. The two fall to the floor as Kate follows, landing on the two of them. Finally, both Chloe and Dolly descend upon them.

            “What the…” Max looks around and spots the Seattle drawing fading. She grabs it and sees it vanish once again. “No! Oh, no!”

            Victoria looks at Max and asks her, “Max? What is this place? Why are we here? And what are you wearing?”

            “I think it’s some sort of changing outfit. Like the black suit from Spider-Man.”

            Max thinks to herself and the costume changes into a black turtleneck, white trousers and white sneakers. Her butterfly wings are at rest still. To test them out, she hops up in the air a few times, fluttering as she comes down to the ground.

            “Anyways, to answer your first question, this is the Transect. Some sort of big highway between timelines. I tried to get back home after some goddess version of me called the OmniMax hijacked my body and threw me here. Specifically, it seems we’re in her palace that she made for herself.”

            Victoria and Chloe, at the same time, cross their arms and firmly state, “What a bitch". The two look at each other in spiteful agreement.

            Max adds an enthusiastic, “Right? But we have to work now on getting ourselves out of here.”

            Kate asks, "How do we do that?"

            Dolly flies behind Kate to inform her: "We doodle and draw until we discover the way out!"

            Kate turns to Max and asks, "What's that supposed to mean?"

            Victoria hops in and explains, "She's saying we need to draw a portal to our timeline. Uh, no offense, Chloe. Forgot to say earlier, but, welcome to the good timeline."

            "Okay." Chloe says with a raised eyebrow.

            Dolly continues her explanation: "That portal will have to look like where we can come through. Like, our perspective of where we will be coming through."

            Victoria jumps in with, "And why should we trust you? Didn’t you try to influence our dreams for your own likely sinister intentions?"

            "Because I'm just as much a victim of the OmniMaxine as you are. She threw you in here, didn’t she?"

            "No. That was me, actually. Sorry."

            "Well, it was a Max… And about the whole dreams thing, I did that to get you all off my case while I dealt with, uh, the OmniMaxine."

            Victoria smugly smirks and asks, “So you’re scared of us?”

            “No!” Dolly yells in vehement denial: “I was merely trying to spare you all my wrath. But, hindsight being 20/20, I’m sure it’s helped you get some closure on things. Right? Like with your parents?”

            “Not yet. Only Daniel’s got his closure, and he did it by bailing on us.”

            Dolly perks up, adding, “So I succeeded! Damn, I’m a good villain. Ain’t that right, archenemies?”

            Chloe chimes in, “About 33 percent, but that seems like a fair enough victory.”

            Max shrugs in mild disappointment, muttering, "Okay. Whatever. Kate, I’ll really need your help with this portal."

            "Me? How am I supposed to open a portal with a drawing?"

            Max places a hand on Kate's shoulder to reassure her: "You're the best artist Arcadia Bay has ever seen. If anyone can help with this portal, it's you."

            Victoria lets out a modest smile and adds, "You've got that right, Max. If anyone needs me, I'll be taking in the scenery." She then walks off to a doorway leading into a grand display of paintings and photographs depicting events both mundane 

            "Be careful! Chloe, please go with her. I don't want her to get lost or something while me and Kate make this portal."

            Chloe rolls her eyes in spite: "Ugh, fine. Just for you, Max." She runs after Victoria as the blonde steps out to the Great Hall of the Palace.


 

             A massive dragon strikes at the heart of the Township of Arcadia! Standing in its way is Max Caulfield, wielder of Excalibur, on her noble steed, the Chase of Victory!

 

            Victoria stares at this piece of art, hung firmly on a wall, stumbling between anger and amusement. Ultimately, she settles on just walking past it in annoyance to the next artwork.

 

             Max and Kate stand back to back, armored up with shotguns in hand, as demons from Hell descend upon them. The demons are led by the villainous Consul Sean Prescott.

 

            Victoria nods in approval: "Okay. That's pretty badass."

            Chloe adds, "Yeah. I bet it would be very fun. But that's the way that weird alternate universes roll."

            "With this many adventures, how old is this OmniMax? She has to be, like, 100 years old. Mentally, anyways."

            "Guess that would explain her harsh attitude, wouldn't it?"

            "The two of us should know best."

            The two walk over to another artwork, hung in the center of the Great Hall.

 

             Standing outside the recently closed Blackwell Academy stand Max and Kate, smiling in a selfie together. The sun is setting on the old Arcadia Bay as a new precedent - or rather, a new time is set.

 

            Victoria smiles at Kate. Chloe smiles at Max. Together, the two retort to one another, "I guess we would know best."

            "Hey, wanna go search for the wine cellar?"

            "Sure, I'd be down. Let's roll!" The two head out of the Great Hall down a stairway.


 

            Kate pulls out her baggie of stencils, markers, rulers, compasses, pens and erasers. She drops it on the floor, letting them roll across the floor. She picks up a stencil and nods to Max. She asks the time traveller, "Where are you thinking of taking us? The pirates' ship? Arcadia Bay?"

            "My parents' place."

            "Okay! Do you have a photo for reference?"

            Max raises her hand to her face and a photograph manifests into her hands. "Apparently, I do." The photograph develops and she sees a photo of her house on Halloween. She's with her parents, Ryan and Vanessa, and they're all dressed up as robots. "The OmniMax probably took this during her first joyride. This is a good photo. Make sure not to draw in the decorations, and also not my parents. We need to keep it grounded in 'now'. Like the now of our timeline."

            "Okay. I can handle that."

            Kate draws her first line across the paper. In her head, she sees everything coming together!


 

             Pop!

            Victoria opens a bottle of champagne with her bare thumb. "OmniMax has some taste."

            Chloe grabs a mug labelled "Chloe's Favorite Mug" from a shelf with other similarly labelled mugs. She also grabs another mug labelled "Victoria's Favorite Mug" and hands it to Victoria.

            "I'm trusting you with a drink here, just so you know. Last time we had drinks, you drugged me."

            "I promise I'm not drugging you."

            "Good." Victoria pours herself and Chloe some champagne. She raises her mug, telling Chloe, "Here's to our girlfriends making us better."

            "Cheers to that." The two clink their mugs together and Chloe drinks it coolly, with no rush. Victoria, on the other hand, drinks a lot out of her mug very quickly. Chloe sighs at this but shrugs and hands Victoria the whole bottle of champagne.

            "Aah, that's good. Thank you.” Victoria pours herself another cup and starts drinking some more. She speaks her mind after three sips: “Since we're here, I guess we should formulate a plan on how to take down the OmniMax. Katie did a good thing today, with Daniel, that I think we should do with the OmniMax. Why fight her when we can just, y'know, talk to her?"

            Chloe shrugs and adds, "She hijacked Max, and even Dolly's scared of her. I don't think we can talk it out with her."

            "Yeah, it's a crazy plan. But Katie's got good ideas. Plus, OmniMax has superpowers and I don't wanna die or get fucked up badly. I'm sure you'll agree."

            "Oh, I agree. Your timeline has enough dead Chloes"

            "Plus, she's still a Max deep down. Maybe one who is very fragile and fucked up in her own right, but still someone we know. Kinda."

            "Fair enough. We should probably tell the others. Hopefully, they've got a good plan too. And maybe a good backup plan. If need be."

            Chloe stands up and Victoria hops to her feet. The two march out of the wine cellar and Vic, impressed by the champagne's powerful taste, is bringing it back with her.


 

           The initial sketch is complete, courtesy of Kate. It’s almost a perfect replica of the photograph sans Max, her parents and the Halloween decorations. Max nods in approval while Dolly rests in midair fifteen feet away from the artists at work. The inking begins via Max and a thin black pen.

            Kate asks, "Hey, Max, what's your take on the OmniMax?"

            Max nods her head before adding, "She's not great, that's for sure. She tried taking you guys away from me. Again. Still, I'm worried about her. With my usage of time powers, things feel real loopy. But look at this place. And that Great Hall - Rome wasn't built in a day, and I doubt all this was either. She'll be tough in a fight."

            "Then, when we get back and meet up with her, we should talk to her. Get to understand her."

            "We can try. But worse comes to worse, I'll take her on in battle. And when that happens, I need you to take everyone and run like hell. Maybe get back into the Transect somehow and find a new Earth."

            "Gotcha. But let's just keep things on the bright side."

            "I'll do my best." Just as she says this, Max completes her inking, adding proper detail to the drawing. Now, onto Kate and her application of colors. She exchanges the darkness of the night in the original photograph for a dusk coloring in the drawing.

            Another voice, belonging to Max but not our Max, states: "Speaking personally, I can say she's not too evil. But she's a weirdo. I can tell you that much. Still, a weirdo like you and I, living Max…" Kate turns in around and sees the dead Max, who stops talking upon seeing Kate’s face. "Oh, Kate. My God, you look so old now. I'm… I’m so happy to say that."

            Kate confusedly asks, "Dolly? Are you tricking us?"

            Dolly informs Kate, "That's not me. And why am I your first thought regarding hallucina- Oh. I see your point."

            Max walks forward and tells the two, "It's me. An alternate me, Chloe's me."

            The dead Max points at her living counterpart and tells her, "Ding ding."

            Our Max asks, "What's up?"

            "The sky, mostly. But in all seriousness, I've heard all of you talk about the OmniMax and I like your plans."

            "What do you mean?"

            "Chloe and Victoria were discussing her as well. I was eavesdropping a bit earlier. Down in the wine cellar."

            Max facepalms, adding, "Of course that's where they went. What was their plan?"

            "I'll let Dolly fill you in.” The dead Max snaps at Dolly twice, asking her, “Use your mind powers to tell them. Also tell Chloe and Vic."

            Dolly gives the dead Max a thumbs up and begins rubbing her temple with her fingers. Kate and Max feel the knowledge enter their brains and nod to each other.

            Kate recognizes Victoria’s kind words about her earlier interaction with Daniel and says, "Huh. 'Good ideas'. Vic, you softie."

            "Vic a softie? Talk about a far cry from calling me the 'selfie ho of Blackwell'."

            Kate pointedly tells her, "She's changed, other Max. And certainly for the better."

            "Good. Anyways, you've all got the right idea for dealing with OmniMe. Just do be careful. Please. I can't see you guys die again. If all else fails… the other Maxes of the multiverse will have your back."

              Slowly, thundering footsteps become emergent as an army of ghastly Maxes step forward and show themselves. Maxes from across time and space. Pirates, assassins, superheroes, gladiators, knights, rich, poor, happy and sad.

            Our Max smiles at them all and promises them, "We'll be alright. I promise you."

            "I wonder if I've got an army like this."

            Chloe walks up to the four with Victoria in her hold.

            The dead Max rolls her eyes, adding, "Oh my God. That’s Victoria."

            Kate asks Victoria, "How are you doing?"

            "I'm fine. Just a little woozy from this champagne. It's strong."

            "Then it's a good thing you are too." Victoria raises her hand and gives Kate a thumbs up.

            Chloe scoffs, "Hmph. Lightweight." Victoria raises her other hand and gives Chloe a middle finger. She then turns her attention to the dead Max and freezes in place. Meekly, she calls out to her, “Max? M-my Max?”

            “I look a little different than I used to, don’t I?”

            “I’ve missed you so, so much!” Chloe runs up to the dead Max and wraps her arms around her in a hug… only for her arms to phase through her. “Uh…?”

            “I’m a ghost. Sorry! But just know I’m always hugging you, my love.” The dead Max points to her wristwatch and Chloe pieces it together.

            “You were in my watch this whole time… and you didn’t even bother to haunt me?”

            “Eh, it’s complicated, Chloe. I did haunt your new Max though.”

            “I guess I could call you hopping into my dream ‘haunting me’.” Our Max continues, “We’re almost done with this drawing. We just have to add some texture and maybe some dimensions to it, and it’ll be complete.” She uses some pens to add shading and dimensions to the drawing promptly.

            The dead Max smiles and says. “Okay, Chloe. You know the drill.”

            “You bet I do, girl.” Chloe aims her watch at the drawing and the dead Max aims her hand at the drawing in tandem with her. Within five seconds, the drawing distorts into a vortex that is hovering in the air.

            Victoria points to the portal and yells, “Let’s roll, team!” Kate charges onward while she pulls Victoria forward and Dolly flies in after them.

            Chloe cautiously caresses the dead Max’s face and tells her, “We’ll be together again one day.”

            “We are, Chloe. But don’t get too hung up on me. Focus on the people with you now.”

            “I will. I love you so much.”

            “Likewise.”

            Chloe steps into the portal. Max follows but not before looking back at the alternate Maxes and nodding to them, giving them hope in her success against the OmniMax. She steps through too and the portal closes behind her.

            The dead Max sighs, filled with hope for Chloe. She sniffles and turns to the other Maxes. “Now, who’s ready to raid the wine cellar?! Drinks are on me, of course!”

            Much of the crowd is confused and dismisses this call to action. The dead Max sternly adds, “Damn right, fuck alcohol. To the juice bar!” Now roused, much of the crowd charges out of the Palace to the Transect’s native juice bar.


 

            The OmniMax looks out at the world from her seat inside the Glitzed Glider. On the radio plays a recommendation from David: Hues Corporation’s lovely 70s bop - Rock the Boat. She enjoys this beat, and these strange space pirates, and this world quite a bit given the smirk on her face and her ability to be with Chloe, likely for a long time this time around. She looks over to her, sleeping in the back. She’s been like that for the whole ride to Seattle… Odd. She wasn’t too sleepy just a few minutes ago. Must be time travel… , The OmniMax thinks to herself. Unless…

            OmniMax stands up and walks over to Chloe. She asks her, “What’s up?”

            “Meh.”

            “Okay. You’ve been saying idle words like ‘meh’, ‘yep’, and ‘uh huh’ for the past few minutes. Is everything okay?”

            “Meh.” Suddenly, Chloe begins glitching out before fading away like a lightshow.

            “What the? Chloe!” David gets up and rushes over to his daughter.

            “An illusion. DOLLY. That thorn in my side. Captain, full speed to Seattle!”

            Starsight asks, “What’s the matter?”

            “That evil Dolly may be headed there to hurt our friends. She’s already taken Chloe!”

            David adds, “My God.”

            “Yes. This is a concerni-”

            David clarifies, “Max, your nose is bleeding.”

            “Huh?” OmniMax checks her nose and sees blood spilling from it. She knows what this means. “They’re working together? Dammit. Get us to Seattle ASAP!” She rushes into the bathroom and feels her temple with her palm once inside. “No, no, no, this can’t be happening. I’ve put TOO MUCH into this timeline!” Quickly, she grabs her phone and dials Chloe’s number, all the while muttering to herself emotionlessly, "Stupid other Max, ruining my plan and getting in the way of a good thing."


 

            Outside of the Caulfield household, the leaves on the lawn rustle in the wind. They begin rustling more as the wind picks up. A lot. The portal opens and everyone steps out, safe and sound. Max tells the group, “I think we’re home.”

            Victoria sits down on the front porch and Kate asks her, “How many fingers am I holding up?” She raises two fingers in front of Victoria’s face.

            Victoria responds with a giggle: “Two, Katie.” Kate turns the two fingers into one thumbs up and blows a kiss in her direction. Victoria catches it in her hand and smiles.

            Max and Chloe walk up to the front door and get ready to ring the doorbell. Suddenly, Chloe’s phone starts ringing. She checks the caller ID and sees Max’s name and number. “The other you is calling me. I’ll deal with it.” She walks away and picks up the call. “Hi, Max.”

            “Chloe, are you alright?”

            “Never felt better, if I’m gonna be honest with you.”

            “You- you’re not hurt?”

            “Well, a little considering you were trying to replace this Max, just like you did mine. Isn’t that right, OmniMax?”

            “Oh, for- don’t listen to whatever lies Dolly is feeding you!”

            “Okay then! Should I listen to YOU instead?”

            “Of course! You know me! I got you out of the town, away from the tornado!”

            “And robbed Max of her decisions? And killed everyone else in the Bay? And got us in deep dirt with Sean Prescott and his Agency goons?”

            “Don’t you put that on me! I’m doing everything I can for you, for everyone here.”

            “You didn’t die for me. I know that much.”

            Kate walks over and asks, “Wait, Chloe, let me talk to her.” Chloe hands Kate the phone and she talks into it softly: “Max, listen to me.”

            "Kate, you're in terrible danger!"

            "You're a terrible liar. I'm not here to yell at you or anything. I do know you." She pulls out the photograph of Max and Warren at the End of The World Party and flips it around to see the message written on the back. "I've held onto that photo of that party that didn't happen here. And it still has your message. Ahem. 'Dear Kate, this past month has been amazing with you there to be the shining light we’ve all needed. I’m sorry about all the tragedies that have befallen you, but I know that you can move past them. Keep on being your best self! xomaxo'. You wrote that to me."

            Silence befalls the OmniMax's line as tears spill from her eyes. She cannot speak her emotions via sobs or gasps, but they are still with her nonetheless. "I did. And I left you to another timeline."

            "And because of that, Chloe is with us now. We'll have to talk. All of us."

            "Why are you taking my side here?"

            Kate tells her with a smile, "We have to be our best selves, don't we?"

            "Heh. Good one. Okay. I'm bringing the aliens and David to Seattle. We'll be there in a bit. Are you at the Diazes' house?"

            "No. We're at your parents."

            "Okay. Be there in a few. Goodbye, Kate."

            "I'll see you then. Goodbye." Kate hangs up the call and hands Chloe's phone back.

            "Sorry about that holdup, Max. Also, you may want to tell your parents about the guests you'll be having."

            "She's coming? Okay." Max rings the doorbell and the team waits fifteen seconds.

            The door opens and Ryan Caulfield steps out. "Max?"

            "Hi, dad. Guys, this is my dad, Ryan. I'm pretty sure my mom is inside. Her name is Vanessa."

            "That's right. She's been hanging with Joyce in the living room for the past few minutes." The group walk inside and look into the living room where Joyce and Vanessa are telling stories to one another. Vanessa's drinking red wine while Joyce is drinking apple juice.