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A New Time

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           A harsh autumn breeze rustles the trees just outside of Arcadia Bay. The streets are empty, desolate, and quiet. A car, filled with unknowing or uncaring townsfolk, passes by the Two Whales Diner, which is empty. An unusual circumstance for the typically busy restaurant. A blue butterfly flutters past the Diner peacefully as it is guided by the wind. Everyone has marched off to Pan Estates, residence of the sinister Sean Prescott and his wretched family.

           The premises of the prestigious Blackwell Academy, antiquated with a sense of modernity, is empty as well. With the on-campus murder of blue haired belle Chloe Price, it was shut down so as to investigate the controversial environment. Through the mercy of Principal Raymond Wells, the students of Blackwell were given diplomas and graduated so as to get them out of the media’s spotlight. Perhaps one day, it will open again. Perhaps in another timeline even.

           In spite of this shutdown, two friends - survivors of Blackwell, if you will - have gathered outside to reminisce upon the early ends of their high school education.

           “Max? Are you okay?”

           The quaint church girl, Kate Marsh, looks to her friend, cautious-yet-still-clumsy Max Caulfield, photographer at large. For a few brief seconds, Max has stood in front of the Academy’s closed doors. She remembers everything that happened on the fateful day of October 11th, 2013. When she travelled back in time from an alternate Arcadia Bay to the 7th, when she would have saved her beloved Chloe from the fiendish Nathan Prescott. When she instead opted to let her die so as to spare thousands. All at the cost of her one beloved Chloe.

           Max looks at the entrance to the school in silence before pulling out a camera to snap a selfie of herself in front of the empty school, with Kate in the background. Seeing Max keeping a memory of her time with Kate, the girl smiles and attempts to strike a pose, succeeding just as the flash captures the two of them in the moment. Still, Max is sad as she remembers her time on campus. With Kate, with Warren, with Victoria, with Chloe, and all the others. As Max quietly reflects on her past, someone walks over to her. Max’s nose starts to bleed out of Kate’s sight and Max wipes the blood away. She turns to Kate and smiles. “It’s all fine. Or at least, it will be in a few seconds. Once I’m gone.”

           “Oh, I know how much you hate this place, but everything is going to change today. I promise you.”

           Max nods optimistically. The two hug tightly, realizing that this goodbye may be final. Upon leaving this heartfelt hug, Max pats Kate on the shoulder. “Thank you, Kate. I’ll see you around.”

           “I’ll hold you to that. Take care of yourself, and whoever you meet on Earth-25 or whatever.”

           Max nods to Kate with one final smirk. Kate steps back and Max grabs a photograph of her at a Blackwell End of the World Party. One that was tacky and sweaty and drinky. One Max spared this Bay from. She stares into the Party photo intently as her eyes glow. Not a blinding light, but a light that a regular human’s eyes shouldn’t be glowing at. And just like that, she blips out of this timeline to the next. With no one to hold the photograph, it falls to the ground, swooping from left to right before settling on the pavement.

           Kate walks over to the photograph and picks it up to look at it. She giggles at the sight of her friends, Warren, Chloe and Max. Now, they were all gone. She flips the photograph around out of curiosity to see writing on the back.

 

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

 

          Kate neatly tucks the photo into her jacket and she walks over to her turquoise scooter. She boards the scooter and pushes herself off the school premises with one foot. She heads to her next destination, the site of a great battle to come: the battle for Arcadia Bay.

          Kate passes by about four protestors holding signs condemning the Prescott family. She kicks the ground to speed past them as the amount of protestors quickly increases from a few into the dozens and into the hundreds.

          The crowd speaks almost as one, with their tongue being shared in venom against the Prescotts and their patriarch: “Sean Prescott, your time is OVER! SEAN PRESCOTT, YOUR TIME IS OVER!”

           Leading the crowd are David Madsen, one of only two notable Blackwell security guards, and Joyce Price, head waitress/chef/manager/spiritual advisor of the Two Whales Diner. Both are angry at Sean Prescott, and with VERY good reason; his kid shot their kid in the Blackwell Academy girls’ bathroom. The blue butterfly flutters in front of them before flying away.

           “Joyce, this is crazy! And kinda cool! All these people here, together. This has been a long time coming.”

           “You can say that again. Chloe would’ve.”

           “I know, Joyce. She would have. But now’s not the time for mourning. Not anymore. Now, we fight back.”

           Joyce nods and she moves forward with David and the army of like minded protestors behind them, backing them up in sheer numbers. She grabs a megaphone from a protestor holding it for the married couple. “Sean Prescott! Your son killed our daughter one month ago! Now, we want you to leave the Bay, or turn yourself in!”

           Joyce hands the megaphone to David, who yells into it: “Your shady business has ruined everyone! The fishermen, the police, the kids, MY kid!”

           Amongst the crowd, Victoria Chase, third meanest person in Blackwell, looks on at the couple as they make their stand against the Prescotts. She is intrigued by how the tides are turning against Sean as she hangs on every word that David and Joyce speak. Despite being on top of everyone else, she has now been made one of these people by her shared anger at the Prescotts for their cover-ups and crimes.

           Inside stately Prescott Manor, the sinister patriarch, Sean Prescott, looks out of a window at the protestors approaching the front of his house. His face is grim, he knows his time is up.

           “Get out here now, you bastard!” David jeers at the mansion, at Sean.

           Solemnly, Sean walks to a filing cabinet and grabs dozens of yellow folders. The text on these folders relates eerily to groups, people and events in Arcadia Bay from all across its history. He smiles, knowing that the rest of Arcadia Bay will share in his knowing of its shadier history. That they will turn on each other once they know how much they’ve screwed each other over.

           Kate walks through the crowd of protestors, pushing her way through others. She looks up and sees Sean calmly walking to a balcony with the yellow folders in his hands.

           “You all want THE TRUTH?! TAKE IT!”

           Kate’s jaw drops in shock upon seeing Sean throw the folders onto the crowd. Papers fly in the air and protestors grab those they can reach. Upon opening them, the hidden truths of the Bay make themselves known. Upon reading them, discussion flows around the crowd.

           “Now, you all know, You're all monsters too! You just can't see it! You refuse to! Now, I bet you'll all have problems dealing with that! NOW, GET OFF MY LAWN! LEAVE ME AND MY FAMILY ALONE!”

           As Kate looks at the descending files and folders, a paper flies into her face and she sees that it is a police report regarding Nathan Prescott’s assault of her from early October. Upon removing the report from her face, she reads that it was dismissed by order of the Prescott Foundation - Sean’s pet project to take over the Bay piece by piece - and her brow furrows in rage. Upon further reading, she also sees that Victoria Chase corroborated her statement against Nathan and added some other spicy details to expose Nathan, soothing her anger as she sees the face of an icy bully raised over the words of an assisting ally. With a smile, she walks away with the report to her scooter before she leaves the scene. More papers fall and the crowd grows louder.

           Hearing the anger of the crowd boiling, Sean runs back inside and heads downstairs to his living room. It is empty. He made it so when he realized that the reign of the Prescotts was over. Using all the love he had left in his heart, he gave his wife the car and she took off before anyone had arrived. He was stranded… or was he? He picks up a phone and hurriedly bumps into a mysterious person in black, causing him to stumble backwards. Sean recoils upon seeing the intruder before calming down, recognizing him as an asset from a shadowy project he was involved with.

           “You arrived just in time! Let's go.” The person in black grabs Sean's arm and the two vanish from the house in a blip, barely making any noise and certainly not causing a scene.

           Outside, the protestors grow heated; towards each other, towards the Prescotts, towards the world that has royally screwed them over.

           “If you want to spend so much time with my boyfriend inside of you, let me get a try!”, says a vengeful woman to her boyfriend’s secret lover.

           “I’m getting my money back! Hand it over or I’ll take your HAND too!” exclaims an angry janitor to a boss who owes him a paycheck or two.

           “You saw my cat run out the door and didn’t stop him? I hope no one stops me from CHOKING YOU OUT!” screams a furious petowner to an ignorant neighbor.

           Victoria pushes through the crowd, trying to get out before she gets caught up in someone else’s troubles. Unfortunately, she has been knocked over by a clueless combatant taking advantage of the chaos. She hurriedly gets back up and attempts to run out of the crowd.

           A gunshot rings out, dispersing the rage and breaking up the crowd. The source: David and his service pistol from serving overseas. He fired a warning shot to gather everyone’s attention.

           “STOP! Don’t do this to each other! I’m not exactly the softest tool, but I know mindless violence isn’t the answ-”

           A lung shot pigeon falls to the ground, landing at David’s feet. It was a victim of David’s warning shot.

           “Ugh. M-mindless violence isn’t the answer! It’s stupid! We need to stick together, otherwise, Sean Prescott wins! We need to show him that he wasn’t the one holding the town together! We are! WE ARE ARCADIA BAY!”

           The crowd’s violent fighters come to their senses and put aside their fists for helping hands, lifting each other up. Victoria sees this and ponders her past interactions with just about everyone in town before walking off.


 

           A few hours pass and the Two Whales Diner is open again with head chef Joyce offering meals on the house. A few dozen protestors have dinner, breakfast, lunch, anything to help ease the anger now raging in their stomachs. They are all laughing and dancing at the joys of living in a Prescott-free town, an evil-free town… for now, anyways.

           Sitting at one table in specific are Kate and David with waffles and eggs on their plates. David eats his food very quickly while Kate eats a bit more slowly.

           “You and Joyce were great leading these guys! You’re heroes!”

           “Thanks, kid. I’m not a big speech guy, but I like to think that I know how to get people pumped. I mean, we have to with how big the changes for this town’ll be.”

           “I’ll say! What are your plans now?”

           “Arcadia Bay may have screwed everybody up but I'll never leave it for too long. Especially with Joyce. She needs me. And I need her.”

           Kate smiles at David, telling him “You're a good man.”

           He shrugs, humbled as ever. “What are your plans?”

           “Same as you. Stay in town, lay low, help out when I can. The big thing I have to do is find myself again. Victoria may have hurt me with that stupid website of hers and a good chunk of my family was no help in the mean time, but I've been through worse.”

           “Yeah. I… I'm still very, very sorry about that thing at Blackwell.”

           “No need to apologize again… for the fifteenth time. You and Joyce have done plenty for me. Just look out for each other.”

          “I will. And I’m certain you will too.”

          “Totally.”

          Joyce walks over, having tended to the appetites of just about everyone in the diner. She’s even given herself a milkshake in the meantime. “Kate, it's so good to see you again.” She drinks the milkshake and Kate gets up to hug her.

          “It's a pleasure to see you too, Mrs. Price.”

          “You can call me Joyce.” Kate lets go of Joyce as she turns to David. “David, I’ve got something to tell you.”

          David raises an eyebrow, somewhat worried. “What happened, honey? Is this a private matter? Is this a bad thing?”

          Joyce smiles. “No, quite the opposite actually..” She pulls a pregnancy test out of her pocket and shows it to David, who beams in excitement. He’s almost glowing. “We are expecting!”

         David jumps out of his seat and hugs Joyce with all his loving might. A tear falls out of his eye and Joyce joins in the waterworks.

         Kate pats both of them on their backs. “Oh my goodness, I'm so happy for you two! Congratulations!”

         Both Joyce and David, in almost perfect sync, say “Thank you, Kate!” while embracing each other in a powerful hug. As the rest of the diner realizes the situation, they cheer the couple on in joy.

         Victoria looks on at these festivities and smiles. Suddenly, Kate enters her field of view. Knowing Kate, she grabs her purse and tries to sneak past the protestors around Kate. It is tough but she makes it to the front door without being detected. As she goes to leave, Kate helps her with the door, freezing Victoria in place almost. Awkwardly, she turns around to face Kate, feeling guilty for the many problems she inflicted upon her. Awkwardly, she says “Hiiiii…”

         Kate, not as awkwardly, smiles at Victoria to defuse the situation, adding her own awkward “Hiiiii…”

         “… How have you been?”

         “I’ve been fine. Ever since Blackwell shut down, I’ve been hanging out with Max, Joyce and David.”

         Victoria bobs her head in approval of Kate’s new bonds with others. “Hm. Nice.”

         Kate looks to Victoria and asks, “What have you been up to?”

         “Not much. Just heading out.” Victoria attempts to walk out the door and Kate opens it wider for her. “Thanks.”

         “I need to talk to you, Vic.”

         Victoria shakes her head, pondering a response. Eventually, she settles on a “Fine.” The two walk out and stand outside by the road, facing the great Pacific Ocean as the waves softly slam into the beach. Victoria pulls out a cigarette and lights it for herself. She offers Kate one, but she shakes her head. With a deep breath, she tells Kate, “After Blackwell, a lot of people left. You remember? We got our degrees and a lot of people skipped town. Went back home. The Vortex Club died because of it. Even with Nathan behind bars, we all tried to stick together, but we all eventually just split. Now, it’s only me in the Bay…”

         Kate puts a hand on Victoria’s shoulder. Victoria looks at it with equal parts confusion and comfort. “I’m sorry, Vic. You don’t really have to be alone. I mean, aside from the Price family, I’m alone too. Plus, you surely have your par-”

         Victoria’s eyes shift to Kate and she cuts her off, asking “What about Caulfield?”

         “That’s a good question, come to think. She told me she left the Bay, so she’s probably back in Seattle. Maybe with her parents?”

         Victoria shrugs. “Lucky. Anyways, you probably don’t want to talk to me, given that I’m, well, me, so I’ll get going.”

         “Not so fast.”

         Victoria takes a deep breath and musters up her strength to tell Kate, “Fine, I just want to say that I’m-”

         Kate pulls out the police report she filed against Nathan Prescott. She points specifically to the part where Victoria gave her statement against Nathan.

         “I know you’re sorry. And even though that doesn’t make everything alright immediately, it makes everything a lot easier between the two of us.”

         “Yeah. I did that because I knew just how powerful the Prescotts were. Even with everyone knowing that Nathan was a killer and a creep, things wouldn’t change unless we made the change. So, I went to the police and gave my statement. I spilled the beans on a lot of stuff that he did. I like to think it helped bust him.”

         Kate smiles at Victoria. “Thank you. Thank you a lot.” Kate hugs Victoria, confusing her. Within a second, she understands what a gesture like this from Kate provides: security. She returns the hug.

         “You’re welcome.”

         As the two talk, a shooting star burns in the Earth’s atmosphere. Kate and Victoria look up at the star searing across the night sky, and Victoria says, “Time to make a wish.” The two close their eyes and silently make their wishes.

Chapter Text

FOUR MONTHS LATER

         

         A flock of geese soar over the skies of the newly-constructed Overlook Avenue. The Prescott Foundation built the area over the ruins of Overlook Park, which was destroyed in a massive forest fire back in 2010. Now, with the Prescotts gone, it is free from their hold, or at least as free as anyone can be in Arcadia Bay, and its construction was completed by the people of Arcadia Bay and the newcomers interested in the area and the property. Among the new inhabitants of Overlook Avenue is Victoria Chase, on her way to her new job at the Arcadia Bay Helper Shelter.

         Victoria walks down the street, dressed more freely and casually compared to her old expensive taste in fashion. She is on the phone with her new boss, David, and has four grocery bags in her free hand. “Four bags full of food and drinks are good, right?”

         “As long as there’s a healthy representation of the Food Pyramid, then you’re on the right track.”

         Victoria nods and is about to add another comment when David adds, “Any pizza? Like last time I sent you on a store run?”

         Victoria, guilty, retorts with a stone cold expression, “No pizza nor beer.”

         “Good. We’re running a rehab center, not a dormitory, remember?”

         Victoria looks away, still reeling from the guilt of wasting expenses, before responding, “My wallet sure does.”

         “And that’s right. Besides, you have beer at home last time I checked.”

         “Yeah, yeah, I know. Anyways, I’m on my way back to the shelter. Be there in two.”

         “Awesome.” David says before hanging up.

         Victoria puts her phone away in her pants’ back pocket. She transfers a grocery bag into her free hand and marches onward down the street. She passes by a bus stop where a group of seven kids with questionable hairstyle and tattoo choices listen to some of March 2014’s Top Hits. Within seconds, Victoria walks in through the front entrance of the Arcadia Bay Helper Shelter, a place of care for the disenfranchised and the homeless, the sick and the hungry.

         Victoria walks inside the kitchen and places the grocery bags on a table. Seconds later, two workers carry the food away for storage. Victoria walks over to David as he checks off items on a clipboard. He looks up at Victoria and smiles.

         “Right on time! Good work, kid!”

         “Thanks, boss.”

         “You can just call me Mrs. Price. Hah. Kidding.”

         Victoria smirks at David’s attempt at humor before grabbing a mug and filling it with dark coffee. She waits for it to cool before sipping it and asking,  “How is the baby coming along?”

         “She’s doing great. Joyce is also doing fine, but that kid’s a kicker.”

         Victoria shrugs and rhetorically asks, “Aren’t all kids?”

         David nods his head a bit with a chuckle under his breath. “Fair. I wonder how Chloe’d react to a baby brother.”

         Remembering Chloe and her… rough attitude, to say the least, Victoria assures David with, “She’d be… happy. Maybe. Regardless, I’m proud of you two.”

         “Thanks.” David checks his watch and looks to Victoria, telling her, “Now seems like a good time to get back to work. Chop chop!”

         Victoria shrugs her shoulders and complies with an “Mm-hm.” In a bit of a rush, she finishes the cup of coffee but a drop spills and gets on her shirt. “Aw!” She hurriedly tries to wipe it off with a tissue and the drop vanishes. She shrugs it off and walks out of the kitchen.

         Victoria looks at all the homeless townsfolk, new and old alike. The removal of the Prescotts, for all the good it did, also left a ton of people without work to quickly bounce to and without pay to recuperate or even leave the Bay.. and she walks over to a homeless lady, asking her, “Need any help, miss?”

         “Yeah, the radio’s not working too good. Keeps switching stations like crazy.”

         The radio near the homeless lady’s bed is playing metal music, certainly from the 1990s. Victoria raises an eyebrow to this. She changes stations and the music turns into a jazz beat.

         “That’s better. Thank you, sweetie.” The lady bumps her head to the beat of the music. Victoria listens in as well and enjoys the lyrics:

Ain’t it fuuuun, liviiing in the real world

Ain’t it goooood, beiiiiing alllll alone”

         Victoria puts her ear closer to the radio upon recognizing the lyrics, the lyrics belonging to Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun”. She asks the homeless lady, “You’re hearing this too, right?”

         “I’ve listened to stranger stuff. Best to just ride the wave.”

         Victoria shrugs and walks over to Kate, who is handing out food to people. “Katie, since when has Paramore done jazz?”

         Kate turns around to Victoria and smiles with a confused look on her face. “Hi, Vic. Also, uh, never. They’re not jazz at all.”

         “Must be a remix. Sorry to bug you.”

         “Bug me? Please, Vic. You’re not the worst… anymore.”

         For the past two months, after some time apart, Kate and Victoria found each other once more at the front doors of the Helper Shelter, both looking for work in the face of their new lives as high school alums. It was started by David and Joyce with their mission statement being to help the people of Arcadia Bay as the town undergoes big changes, and to aid people against crises relating to budgetary issues, domestic violence, sanctuary and drug abuse.

         Victoria walks away and bumps into a young woman in a dark green cloak. She pats her down, telling her “Sorry.”

         The woman pulls her aside, behind some cardboard boxes, and tells her, “It is good to see you.”

         Confused, Victoria asks, “Who are you?”

         The woman looks away and says, “I… cannot tell you right now, but know that I am your friend.”

         “Why can’t you tell me?”

         “The Doll will find me. Her and the other guys will. She reads my every thought as I speak. I have spent years training my mind to control these thoughts to the best of my abilities. Anyways, just know that I’m gonna need your help. Here’s what you need to do, and it’s simple: embrace this madness of Paramore jazz and insta-cleaning tees. If you do not, you will run. Scared of the unknown, the abnormal, the bizarre. And one more thing. Please take care of the people around you. Things will change for all of us, and I need to know that you’ll keep people safe. Like Kate.”

         Victoria stares at the cloaked woman in confusion, questioning every last word she just said before responding with a simple, “That’s, uh, pretty deep, and also a lot to ask of. Okay, green cloak lady.”

         “Call me… the Cloak. It’s cooler that way.”

         “'Kay, Cloak. You take care of yourself.” Victoria gets up to leave and starts to walk away.

         The Cloak says, “Same to you, Victoria Chase.”

         Victoria stops in her tracks, turning around speedily to ask the Cloak about her knowledge: “How do you know my-”

         The Cloak is gone. Not a trace that she was there. Steadily, Victoria runs to the bathroom to hide and collect herself.

         Meanwhile, in the kitchen, David checks on the items Victoria brought in. “Greens? Let’s see, we’ve got some broccoli, some pea stew, and iceberg lettuce. Okay. Fruits. Apples, bananas, carrot juice, and-”

         “David Madsen.” the Cloak says, startling David.

         David turns to face the Cloak, asking her, “Is there something I can help you with?”

         Cloak looks around at the kitchen, nodding in approval at its cleanliness. “Yes, David. Dark days are coming for the Bay. My… enemies are coming to the Bay. I know you’re a soldier, one who has proven himself time and time again as a hero. At least to me. You must protect the Bay.”

           David squints at Cloak, not getting the message. “What are you talking about?”

           “Threats much unlike those of the past, unlike those of Mr. Jefferson, the Prescotts and that creepy Eliot kid my friend told me about. I am sorry to drag you into this, but I know you can help me and everyone else here to survive the coming wave.”

           David shakes his head. “I’m sure I am. Now, please return to the main area. Someone will be with you right aw-”

         The Cloak has vanished… again. David looks around to see if she is hiding but she is truly gone. He scratches his head, wondering where the cloaked figure has gone.

         Elsewhere, Kate sits with a puppy and feeds the little guy some food. As she feeds the pup, he looks up and barks at an unseen force.

         “What’s the matter, little gu-”

         Standing over Kate is the Cloak.

         “Kate Marsh. It is so good to see you again. After what has felt like years, we are together again.”

         “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

         “We have, and we will again. Once I’ve freed my friends and resolved the problems that are arising, we will be together again.”

         “... Oh my- Max?”

         The Cloak stands in silence. She explains, “I cannot tell you my identity. Not ye-”

         Kate jumps to her feet and grabs the Cloak in a strong hug. “Oh, Max. I’ve missed you so much!”

         The Cloak puts an arm around Kate, to comfort her, before pushing herself out of the hug to resume her explanation: “Things are not as they seem around the world. Seek out the others, then seek me out. Then, we lead the attack.”

         “Attack? What do you mean?”

         “I cannot say anymore. Yet. We will meet again, Kate.”

         “Okay, Max.”

         “I’m not… Farewell for now, Kate.”

         The Cloak disappears before Kate, who is grinning ear to ear. Her grin subsides as she asks herself, “Who are these others?” before grabbing her phone to text Victoria.

 

TEXT FROM KATE

Vic, wya

 

         Victoria, sitting idly and contemplatively on a toilet in the ladies' rest room, picks up her phone and responds quickly.

 

TEXT FROM VICTORIA

Bathroom. Just chilling

 

TEXT FROM VICTORIA

Tell David I’ll be out in a few minutes

 

         As Victoria puts her phone away, the coffee stain on her shirt grows from nothing to a giant splotch. Angrily, she steps up and stomps out of the bathroom.

         Kate shrugs and walks over to David in the kitchen, saying, “Hi, David. Vic said she’ll be back in a minute.”

         “Okay. Say, you haven’t happened to see a lady in a green cloak, have you?”

         Kate smiles and says, “Actually, I have. And I think I know who she is.”

         “Do enlighten.”

         “I think that’s Max.”

         A few seconds of silence falls as David ponders this. Victoria walks in a few seconds later, just to apologize to David.

         “I’m sorry, David. It’s just that the day’s been too weird. I mean, look at my shirt! I like this shirt!”

         Kate puts her hand on Victoria’s shoulder and pulls her closer. “I think that coffee splotch is a sign.”

         Victoria looks at Kate and tells her, “Katie, I like you and all, but my shirt being ruined is NOT an omen.”

         To reassure her, Kate retorts, “Well, what about the Paramore jazz?” Victoria shakes her head. Kate also asks, “Well, what else happened today then?”

         “Some lady knows my name.”

         Both David and Kate ask her, “Green cloak?”

         Victoria perks up and exclaims, “Yeah! … How do you guys know?”

         David explains, “She came to me in the kitchen and told me that her enemies are coming.”

         Kate asks for clarification, “Max has enemies? Why? She’s so nice.”

         Shaken, Victoria asks Kate, “That’s Max?”

         “Most likely. She seems more intense now, if that is her.”

         “Well, Max told me that some chick called the Doll is after her. And that this Doll has friends.” Realizing the gravity of the situation, she adds, “This is bad. We need to tell someone.”

         “I guess I’d be that role. She told me I had to help fight these enemies and protect the Bay from them.”

         The trio silently question their next few moments. Kate then adds, “Well, there’s no reason you should do it alone. I mean, we’re no superheroes, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to just let some evil villains hurt people.” David smiles at this optimism.

         Victoria shakes her head and chimes in with, “Yeah, I’ll do that too. Might as well try something good. Better than drinking dark coffee and sleeping in all lazy-like.”

         As the trio walk out of the kitchen, the Cloak peers over from behind a table with an earnest smile on her face.


 

         In the darkness of a bunker hidden within the Earth, the Doll - her blond hair stringy as spaghetti and her pink dress faded and dull - scans the abyss, sitting completely still. She sees the unseen realm known as the human mind, and she is scanning Arcadia Bay for the escaped patient, Maxine Caulfield. Suddenly, she starts to shake amidst her mental hunt and a hand - with fingernails blackened in nail polish and skin smooth as satin - caresses her shoulder to calm her.

         “What is it, Dolly?” the woman says with a rough voice, tired from age.

         “No sign of Maxine Caulfield. I have picked up her friends discovering her being in the Bay, but there is nothing more that they know, nor do we know.”

         “She’s good. But we’re better. Anything else of note?”

         “No, nothing more to rep- Wait. Something is coming to the Bay. A lot is coming to the Bay!”

         “What are you talking about?”

         “More displacements are popping up! People from all across the timeline, different points in time and space!”

         “Oh. That sounds… very bad. Very, very bad.” The hand, belonging to a middle aged Dr. Wanda Court, rises away from Dolly as she strokes her own chin. A grin forms on her face, one with malicious evil behind it. “I’m sure my associates will be very interested with this development.”

         Dr. Court walks out of the bunker to a dull, dreary hallway as scientists march up and down the halls with clipboards, carts and cases. Embedded in the walls are cells, containing odd beings from across the country who were detained for their powers, deformations, and general strange features. Court passes these cells, ignoring a few pleas for release and aid.

         Court approaches a door at the end of the hallway and opens it, entering a boardroom where generals and scientists sit, combing through papers and discussing world affairs over coffee. At the head of the table that all of these people are sitting at, the Doctor stands and clears her throat, grabbing their attention.

         “Good morning, my associa-.”

         “It’s evening.” A General blurts in clarification, cutting off Court. He adds, “What, it’s true.”

         She stares at the General in contempt before admitting, “It is. Sorry, it’s just that all this time stuff is messing with my internal clock. As I was saying, it’s been four months since these displaced creatures have arrived on our Earth. We’ve been doing a good job hiding them ever since, but there have been some cracks in our work. Any of you heard Mozart’s new hit single, ‘I’m Blue’?”

         The associates look at Court in confusion until she pulls out an iPod and presses play: a masterful piano cover of Eiffel 65’s “I’m Blue” blares through the iPod’s speakers. Court states, “I have! Roughly three hundred and one other people have! And to make matters worse, our hunt for Maxine Caulfield is still ongoing! Dolly has deduced that she’s on her old stomping grounds of Arcadia Bay, Oregon. If she is still on the loose, I fear these displacements will continue as they already have.”

         “So what do you propose, Doctor?”

         “That we send in an agent to handle this Maxine, and have the agent extract her from the Bay. And quite frankly, I think there is only one agent who can handle the girl. I was thinking the Wolf could be useful.”

         The doubtful General states, “And we have said, time and time again, that the Wolf isn’t ready for field operations.”

         Court looks at the General who says this and retorts, “We’re dealing with a woman who is tearing time and space apart. The first thing we need is someone who can match that.”

         “And risk having him A - reveal our operations - B - top it off with the idea that we are using child soldier test subjects - and C - risk him tearing HER and the rest of the Bay to shreds?”

         Court raises a finger and adds, “It would be a small price to pay for saving the planet from being consumed by a giant black hole or dinosaurs or whatever will come next.”

         “We’ll keep this in mind, But for the moment, it’s best you and the Doll continue your search as is, and also bring in these new displacements for, uh, research. Thank you for your report.”

         “You’re very welcome. I’ll be back in my office.”

         And with that, Court left the boardroom. She pondered what would have to be done next to stop the threat of Maxine Caulfield and the displacements her time travels have wrought upon the world.


 

         Outside of Earth’s atmosphere, a dark battleship lays in wait as it scans the planet for life.

         The purple insectoid lackey known as Noctarious reports, “This is the planet known as Earth, Lord Starsight.”

         His leader, the dark pirate known as Starsight, stands up from his throne at the pilot’s seat and looks upon the Earth, a blue and green planet lit by the nearby Sun, and stares at it with his black and orange eye, a huge replacement for his head. Pleased with this discovery, he orders, “Approach this planet cautiously. I believe its dangers, and its most fiercest warriors, may provide our way home.”

         With that said, the ship slowly enters the Earth’s atmosphere, prepared to engage the threat that stole them from their home and brought them to this new world.


 

         David leads Kate and Victoria down Overlook Avenue to the nearby bus stop, hopeful at the prospect of fighting supervillains. Kate expresses her joy as well while Victoria rolls her eyes, still following of course.

         From a distance, the Cloak stares at them through nearby bushes. Her smiles continues, seeing these old friends of her. She wants to see them again, not as the Cloak, but as Max Caulfield. But Max’s enemies too are arriving in the Bay. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a clown handing out balloons to kids. His innocence is a mask, not to hurt others but to hurt Max.

           “Goddamn you, Tangi.” she whispers in reference to the clown. She looks left to right, seeking an escape from him. She takes her moment and dips out of the bushes behind a parked car down the street. Tangi’s too busy handing out balloons to the kiddies. From behind the car, she crawls to a mailbox as a stray kitten skips down the street, providing cover. After this, she grabs a discarded paper plate and throws it at Tangi, startling him. With this window of opportunity, she bolts out of the area to a bushy hill behind the bus stop, just out of sight of her friends. It took her twelve rewinds, but she did it. Out of his sight, she follows the trio from a distance.


 

           “Dolly, what’s the status on Maxine and these new displacements?”

           “I see her, feel her. She’s following some friends of hers. Victoria Chase, Kate Marsh, David Madsen.”

           “Intriguing.”

           “Go report this to the Generals, they want Maxine captured. Remember?”

           “Not while she’s got those meatshields around her. The Generals are looking for Maxine alone, and they REALLY don’t want any prying eyes on their case, we need her at a moment of solace or something, when she’s all alone. Anyways, what else is there to report?”

           “She’s attempting to get away from some clown named Tangi.”

           “Tangi the Clown? Pat him down!”

           Dolly’s eyes squint as she focuses into the mind of this Tangi fellow. As she scans, she chuckles. Court smirks as she realizes that this mind is as messed up as her own.

           Dolly awakens and explains, “Tangi the Clown, real name unknown, is from Seattle, same place where we picked up Maxine four months ago. It seems him and Maxine were engaged in battle on Halloween last year, and she defeated him a few hours before we nabbed her."

           "Interesting… say, do you mind, just for a little while, invading the clown's mind and letting him know about Maxine's approximate position?"

           "But the innocents could be hurt.”

           “Clearly, you’ve never heard of collateral damage. It’s a thing, it happens, just get in his head.”

           Reluctantly, Dolly mentally projects herself to Arcadia Bay.


 

           The bus departs from Overlook Avenue to Cedar Avenue and Tangi the Clown is unaware of  Max’s presence as she lays on top of the bus, undetected by pretty much everyone else. He’s just busy handing out balloons to the kids. Suddenly, as the kids he’s tending to leave with smiles on their faces, he feels a tap on his shoulder. He turns around to see Dolly’s apparition.

           “Ooh, a ghost! What would ya like, kiddo? I think I got some Ecto-Coola in my jacket!”

           “My name is Dolly and I am with the Agency for Metahuman Containment. Me and my handler believe we have detected Maxine Caulfield in the area, and we have also detected your hatred for her.”

           “Hoo, you have no idea how much I hate her!”

           “Then, you may want to visit the house of her friends David Madsen and Joyce Price.”

           “... who?”

           “It matters not. Just go to 44 Cedar Avenue where she will be shortly.”

           “Um, okay. Thanks a ton! HAHA!”

           Tangi begins to run out up Overlook Avenue, away from the town itself. Dolly rolls her eyes, ashamed: “Is this really who you want, Dr. Court?”

           Tangi corrects himself and runs the right way where the bus was headed. To Cedar Avenue…

Chapter Text

            Laughter fills the air in the Price household dining area as Joyce and David regale stories of Chloe to their guests of honor, Victoria and Kate.

           "... And so, in the middle of our ride to the mall, we see one of those weed shops opening up. Y'know, the guys who put weed in food? Chloe, the second we looked away, dashed at the store and looked around like a kid in a toy store!”

           Victoria laughs, stating, “The few times I talked to her, I always got the impression she’d be like that. But hey, uh, other interests are people’s own.”

           Kate raises an eyebrow to the idea of “weed in food” before stating, "I've heard of them. Don't really remember the name for them."

          Victoria looks to Kate and explains,  "They're called edibles, Katie. They're really…" Upon remembering that her boss is sitting right across from her, she shifts her stance on edibles to add, "... really rotten! I tried them once a long time ago with the rest of the Vortex Club, and I have regretted it ever since!"

           David and Joyce look at each other, amused by Victoria's feigned innocence. “Hey, I think I saw some baggies in the garbage bin near the staff cafe. Who do you think would eat them?”

           Victoria shakes her head and says, “Not me. Never.”

           Suddenly, Kate laughs a bit under her breath, causing Victoria to chuckle as she gives up the act. David and Joyce also laugh, and this continues for a few seconds before everyone slows their laughs to eat the meals that have been given to them. “Mmm, just like Two Whales!”, says Kate.

           Upstairs, in what used to be Chloe’s room, the back window opens and Max silently crawls inside before closing it. Around her, things are completely unchanged. It’s as if Chloe had never died. She looks around and sees things as she remembered them when she last saw Chloe before leaving to Seattle. Before William Price, Chloe’s father, had died.

           Overwhelmed by the feeling of being with Chloe spiritually, she falls to her knees and covers her face with her gloved hands. Tears pour down from her face as she silently sobs for the loss that was thrust upon her by the cruelty of fate.

           Max thinks back to when she first got her powers, just as she last saw Chloe alive before something took over. All she’s wanted for the past five months were answers. Now, she wants nothing more than comfort, but even now, she can't get it, what with that ghost behind her.

           "You!", Max thinks to herself and to Dolly, whose mental apparition has been solemnly watching her for the past five minutes. She turns to face the mind ghost. "Why are you still with them, Dolly? They've hurt you just as much as they've hurt me!" Dolly stares at Max, probing her. As her questions are met with indifference, Max's face contorts into anger and she mentally demands Dolly, "Talk, damn you! WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH ME?!"

           Dolly waves goodbye to Max before phasing through the wall to disappear into the fresh Oregon air swirling outside. Suddenly, the front doorbell rings. Max knows who it is.

           "Oh, God."

           Downstairs, David insists, "I'll go get it."

           Max scurries out of Chloe's room into the upstairs hallway when she hears the door open.

           "Hiya, Mistah Madsen! I'm Tangi! Tangi, the Happy Clown!"

           "Hi, uh, Tangi? How may I help you?”

           “I was just lookin’ around the neighborhood for my buddy, Mickey. You seen him? Kinda short, brown hair, real shy.”

           “I don’t think I have. Sorry.”

           “Oh.” Tangi looks into the living room and sees Kate, Joyce and Victoria awaiting David’s return. “Say, do you mind if I stick around for a meal? I'm starving.”

           David squints at the clown in worry and confusion. “Uh, no. Again, sorry.”

           Tangi looks David in the eyes and asks, "Pleeeease?"

           David utters loudly, "No, you cannot."

           Easing up, Tangi backs off. "Okay, sir. I'll be going. Have a go-"

           David slams the door in Tangi's face and walks back to the dining room. Upstairs, Max sighs in relief. Still, she knows Tangi and she knows he won't leave that easily. The knowledge that he will throw a molotov into the house, killing all four people inside, hits her and she jumps to her feet. In a rush, she dashes back into Chloe's room, out her window and onto the roof.

           Just outside the Price household, Tangi holds an unlit molotov cocktail in one hand and a lighter in another. He laughs to himself, nervous but ready to kill some random people who didn't invite him in for supper. Suddenly, Max jumps from the roof onto Tangi, causing him to drop and shatter the cocktail two feet away from him.

           Angered but still sporting a grin, he glares at Max, saying "Long time, no see, Maxie."

           "We haven't met before, at least not me really. It was some other version of me you're upset at."

           "Maybe, but you're a Max. The only good Max is a dead Max."

           Max rolls her eyes and scoffs, claiming, "That's stupid."

           Enraged, Tangi screams, "You're stupid!" before charging at Max. Max, having seen this fight play out across three rewinds, sidesteps Tangi, causing him to stumble into the door. He recovers and blows a balloon before turning it into a sword. He yells, “En garde!” before slicing at Max.

           Max jumps out of the way of this dash and grabs a nail from her pants’ pocket. As Tangi slashes at her again, she holds out the nail and pops his sword loudly.

           The front door opens and David stomps out of the house with a baseball bat in hand. He yells, "Get offa my lawn, you two!" Suddenly, he sees that Max is there and asks, "Max? What are you doing here?"

           Max looks at him and yells, "David, get back inside now!"

           As Max is distracted, Tangi lunges at her, knocking her to the floor. He then stands over her: "Say good night, Maxie!"

           Max kicks Tangi in the groin, causing him to double over in pain. Max pushes herself up, runs over to David and grabs the bat right out of his hands. As Tangi recovers, he looks at Max only to see her whack him across the face with it, knocking him out.

           David rushes to Max's aid and asks, "Is he down?"

           To make sure, she kicks Tangi in the head before confirming, "Yeah, I think he's down."

           With the door wide open, Kate, Victoria and Joyce look out and see Max standing over Tangi. Kate nods and states, "I knew it was you."

           Max smiles in response. Joyce rushes over to Max and says worriedly, "My God, Max. You look like you need rest."

           "I think I'm good, thank you."

           "Max…" Joyce walks over to Max and removes her hood, seeing that her face is dirty, her hair is messy and she has black paint obscuring her eyes.

           Kate claims, "Max, if you need help, we're here for you. You came to us for help. You saved us from that clown guy."

           "I know, but I can't. I can't put you all at direct risk of being hurt by the people coming after me. Me being back in town and talking to you guys has probably caused enough problems."

          "Screw that! You came to us for help, like Katie said. Besides, I think we can handle these bad guys if they're like this clown."

           Max thinks it over before deciding. "Fine. I could use a wash. And maybe a haircut."

Kate and Joyce help Max inside the house while David keeps an eye on Tangi and Victoria calls the police.

           Back at the bunkers, Dolly returns to her body and lets out a disappointed "Maxine beat Tangi."

           "For real? Ugh. Why can't this be easier?"

           "The Wolf is still an option."

           Court crosses her arms and adds, "Not while the Generals are still around."

           "Or perhaps not while the situation isn't as bad, Doctor Court. There are more displacements coming along that could change the game."

           "Ah, true. Like who? Anyone you can detect on course for the Bay?"

           “I can detect a small vessel approaching the atmosphere. It is carrying a crew of no more than two dozen aliens on them. They too are on the hunt for Maxine.”

           “Well then, what are you waiting for? Let them in on the secret of Maxine, where she is and all that junk.”

           Dolly sends a mental apparition to the space pirates on their way to Earth.

          Hidden in the darkness of the night, the starship quietly descends upon the trees in the Arcadia Bay wilderness. Noctarious, leading the control of the ship, states to his captain, “We are approaching the ground, Lord Starsight.”

           Starsight stands up and grabs the air victoriously. “Excellent, Noctarious. Once we land, we shall wait in rest, building up our strength in sleep. And then, once the sun rises, we will track down the signal that brought us here and we will demand an answer.”

           Dolly’s apparition crawls out of a wall and crosses her arms before saying, “You’re looking for Maxine Caulfield. She’s the one who brought you he-”

           Startled, Starsight turns to see Dolly and pulls out his white laser sword.

           In support of his captain, Noctarious grabs his pistol from his belt and shoots Dolly in the chest, hurting her. She recoils in agony before running to a wall. He screams, “A GHOST! KILL IT!”

           Realizing the situation, Dolly jumps through the wall as another round narrowly misses her and hits the wall instead.


 

           Dolly returns to her body, shaken. Dr. Court asks, “What happened?”

           “Those people! They’re savages! I told them of Maxine and they tried to kill me.”

           “You know you’re sending a ghost, right?”

           “I know! But their weapons are unlike those of this planet! I felt them hit me.”

           Court rolls her eyes and mutters, “Oh my God. On the bright side, the savages know of Maxine. That’s good.”


 

           Later that night, a hot shower runs in the bathroom of the Price household. It has been running for the past hour, allowing for her to reflect upon her predicament, to rest and hold some sense of security. Outside, Kate and Victoria sit on the floor, checking their phones. Victoria’s also got a new shirt on, borrowed from Chloe’s wardrobe.

           Kate’s face lights up as she says, “Hey, the police just reported on that clown guy. They’ve got him, they said.”

           “Hey, that’s nice.” As the two sit, Victoria asks, “What’s your take on today?”

           “It’s been weird, but it wasn’t bad. At least, not for me.”

           “Yeah.”

           The shower ends and the curtains roll open. Max speaks from within the bathroom, asking, “Do, uh, either of you guys wanna try to do my hair? It’s been pretty messy as you saw.”

           Kate and Victoria look at each other and Victoria responds, “We can try.”

           The two walk in and see Max, sitting on the toilet with a bathrobe on. Her hair is puffy from the steam of the hot shower, so Victoria grabs a comb and tells Kate, “I think I’ll tame this beast.” Kate stands in the doorway, smiling at her friends.

           Victoria starts combing Max’s hair and asks her, “What have you been up to?”

           Max responds, “Not a lot, but also quite a lot. It all started back in October. I started experiencing this ability to travel backwards in time, after I had this dream of the town being destroyed by a giant tornado. I woke up in Mr. Jefferson’s class and I messed up a question. One you got right. After class, I ran to the bathroom to clear my mind, and I took a selfie of a cool looking blue butterfly on a bucket.”

           Kate raises an eyebrow to this and Max adds, “It looked cool to me. Don’t judge.”

           Kate laughs and says, “I’m not, don’t worry.”

           Max continues: “So anyways, in the bathroom, I heard Nathan talking to himself before arguing with Chloe. I didn’t know it was her at the time. Then, he shot her and I yelled ‘No’. After raising my hand, I travelled back in time for the first time ever and ended up back in class. With my future knowledge, I answered the question correctly, and I’m pretty sure you answered it the first time, Vic.”

           “Was it about the Daguerrian process?”

           Kate remembers and adds, “It was! I remember, you threw that paper ball at my head before that.”

           Ashamed, Victoria scolds her with a, “Kate!”

           Kate shrugs and states, “What? It’s true.”

           Victoria facepalms and says, “Okay, just keep going, Max.”

           “So, after answering the question, I rushed back to the bathroom and tried to stop Chloe from getting shot. But something weird happened. I felt someone take over my head, and they let Chloe die.”

           Victoria asks, “Why would they do that? Also, who were ‘they’?”

           “This is gonna sound a bit crazy, but I think it was a future version of me. While I was riding shotgun with this future-me, I saw her memories and felt her thoughts. She was scared. She hated doing this, but she felt she had to, to save the town from that damn tornado. I still remember crying as Nathan killed Chloe, David busting in to take him down, talking to Joyce and David, and the funeral. After that, I’m pretty sure I left back for Seattle, to be with my family. Then, I- she apparently fought Tangi on Halloween, did some more stuff, and then came back to the Bay to say goodbye to Kate. After that, I woke up in some cell and this woman, Dr. Court, was speaking to me, telling me about how my skills were useful in her plan. I guess the timeline synced up or something. Anyways, she and these other jerks would try and see how my powers worked for three months. I saw awful things; human experimentation, child soldiers, sadistic doctors, everything that you’d expect in a scary illegal shadow organization like the Agency of Metahuman Containment.”

           Kate puts a hand on Max’s shoulder to comfort her and says, “I’m sorry you had to deal with all that, Max.”

           “Thank you, Kate. It was a lot, but with a change of pace like this, I think there’s a chance I can fix all of this. I can take down the Agency, stop these threats that are coming for me, and do something about these weird anachronisms from happening.”

           Victoria crosses her arms: “Speaking of that, what are those?”

           “When that other Max took over my mind, I think her presence caused it. You know how it is: you mess with time, time messes back. I even met one of those anachronisms. A young boy, Daniel Diaz. He’s got powers like me. Except instead of time travel, it’s telekinesis. Also, he’s kind of a jerk. Always so angry. But, when you get to know him and you treat him right, he seems like a good enough kid.”

           Kate asks, “Should we be afraid of him?”

           Max shrugs and explains, “Maybe. He’s under the Agency’s thumb and they’ve been training him for field work for as long as I was there. That said, he’s a child soldier and a strong one, they wouldn’t want to get him out there unless they really want him out there.”


 

           Dr. Court enters a new dark bunker, completely black save for the aura of digital light beaming from a high definition television at the opposite end of the area. Sitting in front of it playing video games is the young boy, Daniel Diaz. He has his eyes effectively glued to the television as he racks up kills in-game.

           “Danny boy? I’d like to talk to y-”

           Court is interrupted by an invisible wall set up by Daniel, smushing her face against the air as she walks into it. He looks at her and asks, “What is it? I’m busy.”

           Dr. Court steps back: “So I see. I was wondering if you’d be interested in some field work, some time to test out your mad dope skills.”

           Daniel turns to face Court, looking at her in a mix of embarrassment and confusion: “‘Mad dope skills’? Please, I’ve got more pressing matters to work on.”

           “What if I told you that a supervillain was on the loose? One by the name of Maxine Caulfield.”

           Daniel shakes his head in firm denial: “Max isn’t a supervillain. She’s cool.”

           Court scoffs and adds, “So are Hannibal Lecter and the Joker, but we don’t give them a free pass because of it. Plus, if you do this for me, I’ve got a little surprise for you.”

           “Like?”

           Court pulls a game console from her coat. It’s small and it’s not from 2014. “Like the Playbox. A futuristic video game console from the far flung future!” She shakes the console lightly, allowing for attention to be drawn to it.

           Still, Daniel is unconvinced and unsold: “No, Doctor. Now, please leave.”

           Court sighs and throws her arms in the air: “Fine, I’ll stop. Now’s your turn, Dolly.”

           Daniel turns to face Court again, only to see Dolly’s mental apparition fly at him. She flies into his face and he falls backwards as she enters his mind. Court walks up to Daniel as he rises to his feet like a puppet.

           “How’re you doin’, Dolly?” In response to Court’s question, the possessed Daniel weakly raises a thumbs up.


 

           Max walks back into Chloe’s room, now accompanied by Kate and Victoria. Her haircut has been completed, giving her a new bob style. David and Joyce are giving her the room for as long as she needs, and the two other girls have decided to stick around for the night to keep her company.

           Max walks to bed and lies there alone. Victoria jokingly asks, “You want a bed partner?”

           Max laughs and shakes her head. “I’m good. Thanks, Vic.”

           Kate asks Victoria, “Where are we gonna sleep?”

           Max sits up and motions for the two to come to the bed. The two shrug and go along with it. Max moves to the far-right side of the bed and Kate and Victoria lay next to her. “If I roll, I’m sorry, guys.”

           Kate looks at Victoria and tells her, “It’s okay. We’ll all manage.” After this, she lets out a yawn and says, “Good night, guys.”

           Both Max and Victoria respond with their own “good nights”.

           Within seconds, all three have drifted off into slumber, their senses trained to face threats unseen to them.

Chapter Text

           Max lies in bed, half asleep and half awake. The air feels familiar to her yet not at all. A little weird, seeing as she's not with Kate and Victoria at the moment… except she should be. She's with Chloe. The walls around them are adorned with paintings of Max in new situations - her on a pirate ship, her as a superhero, her as an assassin in Tokyo - and they are well-made. She looks back to Chloe, wearing only the blanket covering the two of them. Her hair is as blue as it was back when she was shot by Nathan, although it's a bit longer now than it used to be. As long as it was when they last talked.

           Max sits up and touches Chloe's arm. It's warm, it's soft but most importantly, it's real. As she yawns, she says, "Oh my God, Chloe. I haven't seen you in so long."

           Chloe turns over to see Max and smiles, asking, "I take it you're a flicker."

           Max raises an eyebrow and nods her head. "I think? What's that supposed to mean?"

           "My Max told me it happens when an alternate version of her just appears for a bit."

           "I'm just glad I can see you again!"

           Max holds Chloe in a hug. She guesses why, "I take it you're a Max who wasn't able to save me from Nathan."

           Max nods again. "It's been too long since I last saw you, and I'm sorry for everything." The walls around Max start to burn white and fade out. Panicked, she starts shaking her head, saying "No, no, no, I'm going! Please, I'll be here again, I love you!"

           Chloe kisses Max's forehead and says, "I know you will."

           Max lies in bed, half asleep and half awake, before jolting back to her reality. She looks around and sees Kate and Victoria, asleep. Victoria's got her arms around Kate's stomach, holding her tightly in her sleep. Max sits up out of bed and walks out of Chloe's room and back into the bathroom.

           Kate also wakes up and feels someone clutching her stomach with their head unconsciously nuzzling her side. There's only one other person in the bed, and it's Victoria. She turns to see her, still out like a light, and smiles at her. She checks her phone to find a text from the Arcadia Bay Board of Public Safety.

 

TEXT FROM ARCADIA BAY BOARD OF PUBLIC SAFETY

Please be careful as light tremors were detected last night as an unidentified flying object landed just outside of Culmination. In addition, trees in the surrounding areas of the UFO may have also fallen, so travel through the area with great caution!

 

           Victoria slowly wakes up and sees her position before reeling away in shock. Feeling ashamed, Victoria mutters, "Oh, uh, sorry about that, Katie."

           Kate informs her, "There's nothing for you to be sorry about, Vic."

           "I know. To be honest though, don't know if I deserve you."

           "I know I do."

           Victoria looks at Kate and Kate smiles again at her. Victoria rubs her tired eyes and a smirk grows across her face.


 

           At the starship's landing site, a large media presence has grown around the area, snapping pictures of the spacecraft.

           It is noted as being angular is design, almost like a giant, rectangular black box with wings capable of supporting flight. The rocket thrusters are also unlike anything seen on Earth, with their insides charred from vast space travel. All across the ship's exterior are paintings of three-headed cyclops women, meals like burnt rodents and blue grapes, riches far different from any currencies known to mankind, messages in an alien language, et cetera.

           Inside the spacecraft, Starsight, Noctarious and the rest of the crew watch the Earthlings. Starsight whispers to his men, "Look at them, these naive monkeys and their feeble curiosity. Noctarious, what is our escape plan?"

           Noctarious walks up behind the crew carrying a sizable escape pod in one arm while reading a metal board with holographic diagnostics being displayed on it in the other: "Using one of our emergency pods, we shall dig through the ship's floor to a safer spot outside of their view. From there, we travel to the outskirts of Arcadia Bay where the fluctuations in time matter are primarily being detected."

           "Aye. Let the plan commence!"

           The crew of the starship - twelve men strong - huddle into the escape pod and it's very tight and stuffy in there.

           "Move your arm, Noctarious."

           "My apologies, Matey."

           The pod drills through the lowest floor of the spacecraft and twenty feet into the earth beneath it. It then makes a beeline for Cedar Avenue…


 

           As Max pours herself some cereal and milk in the dining area, she sees Kate and Victoria walk down the stairs laughing to each other. She raises an eyebrow before future knowledge from a rewind ten seconds in the future informs her of the truth. “You two look pretty happy.”

           Kate shrugs and claims, “I’d say so, what with all that adrenaline from fighting an evil clown.”

           “Mm-hm.” Max eats a spoonful of her cereal calmly. Now, that future truth makes more sense: those two are in love. She smiles while eating another spoonful of cereal.

           In the kitchen, Kate and Victoria get to work on a breakfast of their own; a classic, consisting of five Eggos and a big bowl of scrambled eggs. Not just for themselves but also for Max, and David and Joyce once they wake up. Kate’s rather fast with the stirring and frying of these eggs, while Victoria’s struggling with the Eggos.

           Max, foreseeing Victoria burning the Eggos through her lack of cooking prowess, saves everyone from that dark future by getting up to tell her: “Make sure to lower the heat, you might forget and get them all dark and burnt.” Victoria nods to Max before lowering the heat of the toaster where the waffles are warming up.

           David heads down the stairs, jokingly asking, “Joyce, did your clone make us breakfast? It smells just as good.”

           Kate laughs as Victoria silently gives her a look of confusion at his continued attempts at dad jokes.

           David peers into the kitchen and sees Kate and Victoria: “Ah, my apologies. There are TWO clones. Hah.”

           “Joyce has that effect of creating good chefs. Maybe that’s her superpower?”

           “It’s super of her, and you as well. Again, thank you for letting me stay here. And sorry about the clown.”

           “Hey, we’ve all lost a lot, it’s best we all stick together in these trying times.”

           The toaster dings and Victoria, now wearing mittens, pulls out the waffles and places them on a big plate before bringing them to the table. She explains, “There's not a lot, so one for each of us. And the eggs will be done in a bit.”

           The scrambled eggs sizzle as Kate lifts them off the pan that was frying them with a spatula onto a plate. The pile of eggs is sizable and they certainly look delectable with their shiny yellow glint, their inescapable smell and the taste that comes with a well-made plate of scrambled eggs. The five feast upon the eggs and waffles, decorating them with toppings like salt, sugar, ketchup, butter and syrup.


 

           With the meal completed, David leads Kate and Victoria to the bus where they will go to Overlook Avenue. From afar however, hidden inside a sewer drain, the space pirates watch the Price household, knowing of its hidden treasure -- Max.

           Through binoculars, Starsight looks at the house and states, “Aha, mateys. Inside their house is our ticket home. Prepare to attack.”

           From even further afar, on top of a house three blocks away, the possessed Wolf watches the space pirates watching the Price household where Max is.

           The Wolf - Daniel Diaz - taps an earpiece in his right ear and, wearily, Dolly speaks through him to say, “Aha, Doctor Court. Inside that house is Maxine. I am ready to attack.”

           From inside the house, Max learns through a future rewind that the house will be under attack in about a minute. She runs up to Joyce as she is washing the dirty dishes from breakfast: “Joyce, I’m sorry to make you leave like this, but the house is about to be attacked by space pirates and a child soldier, get in the car and just drive away from here.”

           “That sounds pretty ridiculous.”

           Max starts to pull Joyce away to the garage: “It is, trust me.”

           “Um, okay, Max. I’ll go do that. Besides, I have to pick up the groceries.”

           Joyce gets inside the garage and revs up the car. Max puts on a pair of sneakers and opens the garage door for Joyce. The time traveller didn't even have the time to put on some proper clothing as she's still wearing her pajamas. To both of their shocks, the space pirates are standing outside.

           Starsight walks forward: “Good morning, time traveller. We have much to dis-”

           “Look, Starbright, is it?”

           “That’s Lord Starsight to you.”

           In defense of his captain, Noctarious yells, “Respect Lord Starsight’s name!”

           Max crosses her arms and states, “Yeah, yeah. I know how this fight is going to play out; you’re going to beat me and stuff me in a sack to take me to your base. But I know your sack sucks, no offense, bug boy. It rips easily.”

           Noctarious, holding a shoddy potato sack in his hands, hides it behind his back in shame.

           “I’ve got a better sack, more durable, and we’ve got to hurry. A kid called the Wolf will kill you all if you don’t. So let my friend Joyce pass and I’ll get in my sack for you guys to take me.”

           Starsight looks to his crew and motions for them to clear a pathway for Joyce to drive out. Joyce drives away calmly as Noctarious waves her goodbye. The crew looks back at Max to see her standing halfway in the sack she brought, made out of her green cloak. She asks, “Ready?”

           Starsight, confused, scratches the back of his eye: “Uh… aye?”

           “Cool. No dragging me.”

           “Sure. Noctarious, if you may.”

           Noctarious walks up to Max and coolly pulls the sack over the rest of her body. He then lifts her over his shoulder and the crew leaves.

           With a giddy joy, Starsight asks his crew, “Piece of cake, ay, me laddies?”

           The crew collectively “Arrs” and Max even joins in with her own “Arr.” The crew enters a manhole in the middle of the street and Noctarious enters last with Max, closing it behind them… just as the Wolf appears.

           The Wolf stands, hunched over in his red battle armor and wolf mask. Dolly speaks through him: “Well, well, well, Maxine. We meet ag-”

           The wind howls on the empty street as the Wolf looks around. Dolly rages inside him, “C’mon! Okay, time for Plan B.”


 

           Inside the Arcadia Bay Helper Shelter, Victoria and Kate tend to an elderly man’s wounds from a bar fight the night prior. He informs them of their origin: “You girls shoulda seen the other guy! As big as a bull!” On the radio nearby, Nickelback plays their new song, “All the Stars”.

           Victoria shrugs as she nods her head, saying “I believe you. Wish I coulda been there, but some other things came up. Evil clowns and all that.”

           The old man raises an eyebrow and strokes his chin as he recalls: “Tangi? Oh, that mean old bastard. Met him back in ‘95. I threw a birthday party for my boy in Tuscan when he showed up. He was funnier back then, at least. More Skelton than Gacy.”

           Victoria responds with a “Hm. Interesting.”


 

           The Wolf leaps from rooftop to rooftop as he approaches Overlook Avenue, searching for Max to no avail. Still controlled by Dolly, she tells herself, “You’ve got to be here somewhere…”

           In the distance, he hears pop music playing. Old music, to him at least.

Stick to the B-E-A-T, get ready to ignite

You are such a P-Y-T, catching all the lights

           Interested, he turns to see the source: the seven teenagers hanging by the bus stop, partying without a care in the world. He recognizes them and he peeks through Dolly’s control of him: “Cassidy? Finn?” He shakes his head as he begins to regain his own senses, unhindered by Dolly. “I have to go see them.”

           Dolly tells him through his own tongue, “Not now, Daniel. We have to stick to the beat of finding Maxine. You do good and get her, we get ice cream. Deal?”

           Daniel hesitates, stating, “I wanna see them though.”

           “And you are. Now, back to the mission.” Dolly then jolts herself further back into the Wolf’s mind, retaking control before leaping to the Helper Shelter.


 

           Kate asks the old man, “What’s your take on the Bay now? Y’know, without the Prescotts?”

           “Couldn’t have happened sooner. Course, he paid fine but I sure sleep better knowing that he’s screwed off.”

           Victoria adds, “I used to know his son. His name was Nathan. He was a bad apple, but he wasn’t always  bad  bad. In sophomore year, when I first got to know him, he had made things manageable for himself. We all tried to help him out, but one thing led to another and he kept on getting worse and worse. I used to think I could save him from being bad, but I was wrong. Just being around him, it made me worse. Or maybe, it was always just me.”

           Kate pats her on the back to comfort her. “It’s okay, Victoria.”

           Victoria grabs Kate’s hand and tells her, “Thank you, Kate.”

           The old man, seeing the two together, tells them, “What matters is that you did everything in your power to do good in the world. Not a lot of people can say that. But what matters is that we move on, and find new people to help. We find new people to help us. And we grow. Y’know?”

           Victoria glances at Kate and states, “Yeah. I do. And I'm trying." Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she sees a red blur pass by in. She looks for the blur and sees the door to the main office by the back of the shelter swing open. She tells the two, “I’m gonna have to go grab something from the main office. Be right back.”

           Victoria speedwalks to the main office and she peers into it. It’s dark and quiet. She walks in, unaware that the Wolf is hiding behind the door. Victoria looks around and sees the Wolf behind her as he slams the door shut. She worriedly asks him, “Who are you?”

           “I’m looking for Maxine Caulfield. I know you know her.”

           “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I haven’t seen her in months.”

           “Victoria, do not take me for a fool. I read your mind. She’s in town, at the Price household still. But you’re wrong. She’s gone. The pirates took her to places unknown, likely in the town. I’ll find her.”

           “No, you wo-”

           Daniel balls up his left hand into a fist and Victoria begins gasping for air as she clutches her throat. He smiles with Dolly wearing his face.“I will find her, Victoria. And lucky for you, you won’t be around to see what happens when I do.”

           As Victoria gasps for air and she begins slipping into unconsciousness, the door opens and Kate walks in. She asks, “Hey, Victoria, is everything alr- VICTORIA!”

           Daniel looks over to Kate and raises his right arm to choke her, freeing Victoria. With her freedom, she hurriedly grabs a stapler and weakly hits him in the back of the head, causing him to let go of Kate. As he turns his attention to Victoria again, she hits him over the head with the stapler, causing him to fall over.

           Dolly ejects from Daniel’s mind and she screams, “NO!”

           Daniel rises and looks around, confused. He removes his wolf mask and asks, “What? Where am I?”

           Victoria, unaware of Daniel’s liberation from Dolly, hits him in the face with the stapler, knocking him out.

           “Victoria, are you okay?”

           “I… I’m…”

           Victoria falls to the floor, tired from the attack, and Kate rushes to her. She listens for breathing and notices, “It’s shallow. No, Vic, please don’t die.” She puts her on her back and blows air into her mouth. Once, then again, then a third time. Victoria’s breathing returns to normal and she looks at Kate, tired.

           “Kate?”

           “Yes, Victoria?”

           “I think you… can save me… with a kiss.” Smugly, she smiles at Kate.

           Kate looks away before shrugging and saying, “Okay.” She goes in for the kiss and Victoria’s eyes open wide. She welcomes it, putting in the effort as well. Kate then pulls away as Victoria looks to Daniel.

           “Let’s, uh, take care of the kid or something.”

           Kate walks to the desk in the office as Victoria lies in place, reflecting on the moment as her heart violently beats.

           Kate looks inside the desk and pulls out masking tape, assuredly from when the place was being decorated prior to opening. She peers over the desk to look at Victoria, asking her, “Are you okay? You’re not dying.”

           Exasperated, Victoria tells her, “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Thank you, Katie.”

           Kate walks over to Daniel and drags him around the desk before propping him up in the chair behind it. With him in the chair, she opens the masking tape and wraps it around him as she spins the chair around.

Chapter Text

            Thirty minutes have passed since Daniel’s defeat. He hasn’t woken up yet, but David had arrived to keep an eye on this intruder. He asks, looking upon the boy's mohwaked head, “You guys got anything on him?”

            Kate explains, “No. All we know is that his name is Daniel Diaz - Max told us last night - he’s Mexican, about twelve years old, and he has telekinesis.”

            Victoria adds, “He’s also crazy and he’s waking up.”

            Daniel’s eyes open just a bit, and his vision is blurry. He looks around and asks, “What the fuck? Let me go!”

            David turns to Daniel and says, “Language, kid!”

            “I’m not a kid!”, Daniel says as he starts shimmying in the chair in a vain attempt to escape.

            Together, David and Victoria coldly inform him, “... You literally ARE.”

            Kate steps in front of the two, in front of Daniel, and reassures him, “We’re not going to hurt you, Daniel.”

            He stops shimmying and asks, “How do you know my name?”

            “Max told us.”

            “You know her too?”

            Kate nods. “Uh huh. She said you’re a good kid.”

            Daniel smugly laughs and claims, “I try not to brag.”

            Bitterly, Victoria crosses her arms and claims, “I imagine you save it for your friends and family, don’t you? When you’re not choking them halfway to death with your magic powers.”

            Daniel looks at Victoria, agitated, and turns to Kate. She responds: “She’s like that at first. You’ll love her, trust me.”

            He asks her, “Where is Max?”

            Victoria responds, “Apparently, space pirates kidnapped her.”

            Daniel smiles, “Space pirates? Oh, man, this is gonna be awesome!”

            Victoria's eyes widen in worry: “Awesome? These are space pirates. What am I going to do against them? Or Kate? Or Dav- okay, actually, he might stand a chance.”

            Daniel tells her, “So I’ll go with him. In and out, easy peasy.”

            David adds, “Max did tell me that I was gonna fight her enemies. So I guess fighting space pirates would be a moment like that.”

            Victoria asks him, “Are you sure? Aliens aren’t exactly something we’ve ever seen before.”

            “I’m sure, Victoria. I’ll just have to get back home, grab some gear, and the two of us will be out.”

            Victoria shrugs and tells him, “Okay. Good luck then.”

            David begins unwrapping the masking tape containing Daniel until he uses his power to tear it apart. He stands and strips off the remaining tape before grabbing his wolf mask and placing it back on his head.

            “Please, bring Max back safely.”

            “Will do, Kate. See you guys in a bit.” The two then walk out of the office with Daniel waving goodbye, leaving Kate and Victoria alone again.


             Outside of the Helper Shelter, David and Daniel head to the alleyway overlooking the rest of the neighborhood and Culmination in the distance. “So, 44 Cedar Avenue. By the houses. Uh, on the other side, around the water.”

            “Okay, gotcha.”

            Daniel forms a telekinetic hamster ball around the two of them and it levitates over the Shelter into the skies.

            On the ground, one of the kids by the bus stop, looks up and sees the duo while hitting a blunt. “Whoa-hoa! That looks rad, doesn’t it, Cass?”

            Cassidy, one of the other kids, tells him. “Finn, you might’ve taken a hit too many. Pass it over.” He passes his blunt to her, who takes a deep hit of it.


            The two lean on the desk and Victoria chuckles. “I, uh, didn’t think you’d actually kiss me.”

            Nervously, Kate says, “Surprise!” and the two laugh. “I just figured you’d need something to get you going. Like, really going.”

            “Oh, it did. And thank you for saving me.”

            “Don’t give me all the credit, Vic. You took out a superhero! Not a lot of people get to say that.”

            “You’re right.”

            As the two stand together in silence, Kate asks, “What do you want to do tonight?”

            “You’re asking me out? On a date?”

            Kate shrugs and explains, “It’s Friday night, something has to be happening in town.”

            “There’s that music concert tonight in Culmination, we could head there and jam out.”

            “Okay. When do you want to meet up?”

            “Well, it’s 11:23 AM right now. Concert starts at 4:30. How about at 3, we meet up at the train station? We can get washed up, dressed up, and ready to party.”

            “Deal. I’ll see you then, Vic.”

            “As will I, Katie.”

            The two leave the office before separating outside the Shelter to their houses for preparation.


             David and Daniel get back to the Price household, having descended from the sky in the telekinetic hamster ball. They walk into the garage and head into David’s workshop. David grabs two sidearms and a bunch of ammo. He also grabs his kevlar vest and puts it on. Daniel on the other hand, grabs a Capri Sun from the kitchen and drinks it. With the two armed and ready, they prepare to go as Joyce returns from shopping.

            “Hi, David. Can you help me with these bags?”

            “Oh, sure thing!” David helps out with the groceries, bringing them into the kitchen with Daniel’s telekinetic aid.

            Joyce waves hi to Daniel, asking him, “Hi, what’s your name?”

            Daniel flaps his cape dramatically, stating, “My name is Daniel. You can call me the Superwolf!”

            “Very nice to meet you.” Joyce shakes Daniel’s hand politely and David grabs the car keys.

            “Me and Daniel here are gonna go save Max from space pirates.”

            “Oh, do be careful! Not just you guys, but with those space pirates. They don’t seem like too bad a crowd, they’re kinda pleasant. Still, be careful.”

            David and Joyce kiss before he leaves with Daniel in the car to rescue Max.


             At Victoria’s apartment on Overlook Avenue, she scours through her bedroom closet for a set of clothing comfortable enough for the concert. She stumbles upon black and white checkered pants, a white sleeveless shirt, and a black sweater with a red stripe going down each arm, connected at the back. She slips on black flats, brushes her hair, grabs her purse, and heads out with sunglasses over her eyes.


 

            Kate looks through her clothing drawers at home, wondering what to wear. She grabs a black t-shirt with a cartoon pug on it wearing sunglasses - a Christmas gift from her sister, Lynn - and puts on beige jeans before grabbing her blue hoodie and a pack of twelve orange earplugs.

            While fixing her hair into two pigtails and putting on her sneakers, she waltzes over to the cage of her pet bunny, Alice. She tells the white rabbit, “Okay, I’ll be back in a bit. Take care, Alice!”

            Alice looks at Kate and blankly stares at her in rabbitual indifference. Kate also lends her a carrot to chow down on before heading out of the house.


             At the train station, located at the bottom of the hill that holds the Helper Shelter, Victoria waits for Kate to appear. Suddenly, she hears, “Vic!”

            Victoria turns to Kate and sees her heading up the platform to her. Victoria eyes Kate’s outfit and compliments it: “I’m really digging the casualwear. It suits you.”

            “Just as that jacket suits you, Vic.”

            “Oh, thank you. My mom got it for me last Christmas, it’s really soft and comfy.”

            The train approaches the platform and stops, opening the doors for travellers. Victoria and Kate walk in as a robotic voice overhead speaks: “This is Overlook Avenue, Arcadia Bay. The next stop is Wertz Street, Culmination. Stand clear of the closing doors please.”

            The doors close behind the two as they make their way to a pair of seats. They sit and Victoria checks her phone for details on the concert.

 

LIVE IN JACOBI MEMORIAL PARK

PissHead performs their newest album

THE PITS

One night only in CULMINATION, OREGON!

 

            Victoria laughs and states, “Oh my God. I almost forgot all about Skip and his Pissheads.”

            “Who?”

            Victoria shows the digital flyer to Kate, explaining, “Skip Matthews. He was a security guard at Blackwell, always trying to sell his band’s album to us on campus.”

            “Hm. Must be before my time.”

            “Three years, actually. He was kinda cute, with that MCR-esque charm of his.”

            “He sounds nice… What’s MCR?”

            Victoria looks at Kate in confusion but she shakes her head, ignoring her ignorance: “He was. I wonder if he remembers me.”

            The train slows down as they arrive at Wertz Street, Culmination - a more urban town in the middle of the woods. The two step out of the train and head into the city as the sun slowly begins to set.


            David and Daniel reach the end of Arcadia Bay’s sewage line, which extends out to the water treatment facility south of the town. According to the house’s security footage, Max was taken into the sewers with the pirates.

            Daniel plugs his nose and tells David, “This place stinks!”

            “It’s also the only place where Max could feasibly be without those damn- uh, darned space pirates being spotted.”

            Daniel shrugs and adds, “I guess so.”

            David walks over to a door and tells Daniel in a whisper, “Look under every nook and cranny!”

            Daniel lifts up a truck to look for Max but she is not there.

            David peers into a building, only to see a security guard distracted by a manga in his hands. He whispers to himself, “Seriously, man? C’mon, get your security act together. Disgusting.”

            Daniel looks into a sewer grate and whispers, “Max? Are you there? It’s me, Daniel Diaz.”

            David walks over to Daniel, shaking his head. “No sight of her either, huh?”

            “Nope. I hope she’s okay.”

            As the two look around themselves, soft guitar music can be heard. The duo slowly follows the sounds of the music. David puts a hand in front of Daniel to stop him from advancing without him. “Careful, kid. It might be a trap.”

            Daniel listens in and comments, “It sounds like guitar music. Max knows how to do the guitar, right?”

            David shrugs: “She should, last time I checked.”

            As the two approach the music, they see a dancing shark-cyborg walking on wheels to the slow beat of the music. He and his compatriots are illuminated by a sizable lantern.

            “What the?” David grabs his sidearm and loads it. “Okay, kid, get ready to use your-”

            Daniel has run on ahead, much to David’s worry. He whispers to himself, “Oh God”, before rushing after the boy.

            Daniel runs into the shark-cyborg and taunts him with a “Lemme give it a try!” The shark-cyborg gives Daniel space to dance and he does a little Irish jig, causing Max to laugh as she is playing the guitar, still dressed in her pajamas.

            Max smiles and says, “Superwolf! It’s good to see you!”

            “Hi, Max Rewind!”

            Starsight asks her, “You know him?”

            Max nods: “Mm hmm. He’s a kid who I got locked up with.”

            David runs into the area, ready to shoot. He lowers his pistol at the sight of Daniel’s dancing and Max’s performance before putting it away completely. He walks over to Max and asks her, “What the hell is going on?”

            “These guys, the Merry Marauders as they’ve called themselves, came after me because they want a way back home. Apparently, they sailed into a wormhole in space and got themselves stuck here. But, upon further conversation, they’re not so bad.”

            “Aye! And you know what else ain’t so bad? These chicken nuggets we nabbed from a refrigeration unit not too far back!” Starsight shows off a dirty container from a fast food joint in town. He opens it to reveal three fresh chicken nuggets. Make that two as he eats one through his pupil.

            “Sorry to ask, but what’s your deal, Cyclops?”

            “My name isn’t Cyclops. You may call me Lord Starsight.”

            “Respect Lord Starsight’s name!”

            “Yeah, yeah, thanks, Nocty. By the way, let me introduce you to the crew. Over there, the big bug fellow is Noctarious. That shark friend is the Shark-Stinger. The iceman in the bucket is Snowmancer. And the other eight are my interning goons, fellow seekers of greater goals.”

            “Well, pleased to meet you, Lord Starsight. I take it you want Max to take you all back home?”

            “Aye!” Starsight looks over to Max, impressed with David’s assumption: “This earthling is rather smart! Just like you, Max!”

            Max blushes and laughs, “D’aw, stop it, you!”

            David crosses his arms, asking, “Well, can she take you home?”

            “According to her, no. But there is someone who can help. These Assholes for Metahuman Concentration as they’re called.”

            David raises an eyebrow to this and Max explains: “He means the Agency of Metahuman Containment. They kept me and Daniel here locked up for months on end, remember?.”

            Daniel chimes in while in a dance battle with Shark-Stinger: “They are assholes!”

            Max points to him in agreement to claim, “That’s right, Daniel!” David raises an eyebrow to Max’s support of his foul language.


             Kate and Victoria cross a street to Jacobi Memorial Park, which is guarded by stone walls. They enter through the front gate at the corner of the street as other concertgoers march through as well.

            To gain access to the concert, they must pass by a big, bald bouncer with a giant beard. The two walk up to him and he asks sternly, “Tickets.”

            Stunned, Victoria shakes her head. “Uh, we don’t have any.”

            The bouncer nods his head. “That’s too bad… because there are no tickets, it’s just that Skip insists we ask. Just to psyche people out a bit.”

            Kate and Victoria both look at each other in confusion and say, “Oh.” in a matter-of-factly manner. The bouncer hands them some glow sticks and says, “Enjoy the show!”

            Kate smiles and tells him, “Thank you!” The two walk into the concert, passing by several other attendees inside. Up on stage is Skip and his fellow Pisshead band members.

            Victoria marches up to the front of the concert and waves at him: “Hi, Skip! Long time, no see!”

            Skip walks over to the edge of the stage and sits before them. “Well, I’ll be! Victoria Chase, all the way out here in Culmination! How’ve you been?”

            She shrugs and claims, “Not too bad, all things considered! Hey, have you met my girlfriend, Kate?”

            Skip looks over to Kate, who’s blushing at Victoria, and claims, “No, don’t think I have! Hi, Kate! The name’s Skip!”

            Kate waves at him coolly and says, “Nice to meet you, Skip.”

            “So you two are Blackwell alums, huh?”

            Victoria snaps her fingers and says, “You know it! How have you been?”

            “Oh, me and the boys have just been touring this side of the country for the past few years, doing small concerts in our free time. When we’re not singing, we’re wringing our brains for song ideas! Finally, we got some songs that I think you and the others here will enjoy!”

            “I’m sure! Thank you, Skip! Crack an egg up there!”

            “You got it, Chase! Enjoy the show!” Skip walks back onto the stage and drinks a big gallon of water to stay hydrated.


             David sits next to Max and Lord Starsight. He tells Max, “I seriously don’t get that kid’s language usage.”

            Max replies, “He’s been through a lot, man. His dad got shot by the police, puppy got mauled by a cougar, was accosted by a cult, brother was thrown in jail, and he got stuck in an alternate timeline with some evil undercover force. I wish I could take him to his dad and brother, but I dunno how that’d fare for the timeline.”

            “Shit. Poor kid.”

            “We’ve all been through shit, David. What matters is that we do what we can to cope. We do what we can to make it all worth it.” Max finishes her guitar performance before handing it off to David. He declines but Max insists. He grabs the guitar and strums a few beats.

            As the music continues, Daniel and Noctarious dance together jovially, much to the amusement of Shark-Stinger and Snowmancer. They cheer the two on as Max smiles. She looks up to the dusk sky. It’s orange, it’s red, it’s purple, it’s got the sun handing the keys over to the moon as the sky’s protector. She looks to David and asks, “Hey, can I stay with these guys for the night? I mean, yeah, they kidnapped me. But I can trust them.”

            Daniel walks over and asks, “Ooh, me too!”

            David laughs and says, “Okay. Just call us if you need anything.”

            Max says, “Will do, Dave! Take care!” She waves him goodbye as he gets up and walks off the premises.


             Back at the PissHead concert, Victoria and Kate are standing up at the front and Vic’s ready to party. She’s bopping in place while Kate’s putting in her earplugs. She offers a pair to Victoria, who asks, “What are these for?”

            “You might hurt your ears. I want you to be safe.”

            Victoria shrugs and puts them on. “Thanks, Kate. Oh, forgot to ask, is this your first concert?”

            “Yeah. I’m really excited!”

            “I’m glad to hear. You’ll love it!”

            Skip walks forward and grabs the microphone. Victoria and Kate cheer in tandem with the rest of the audience.

            “Good evening, Jacobi Memorial Park! We’re PissHead, and we’re here to fill you up with the sounds of our efforts! Are?! You?! READY?!?!”

            The crowd cheers and our two lovebirds cheer, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

            “Then, let’s get pissy!”

            The drummer for PissHead yells, “One, two, three, four!” and he goes to town on his set, building up the vibe for the event.

            The saxophone artist hops in, dropping some beats.

            The guitarist riffs hard on his guitar, amping up the crowd.

            Skip grabs his mic and starts singing:

 

The world is changin’

Winds are-a ragin’

I ain’t ready to fall

Times are mergin’

New horizons are-a vergin’

You just gotta stand up tall

Don’t you crawl

Don’t you flee

Love is humanity’s remedy

Speak up and sing

Jump up and dance

Harmony is the keeey

To humanity’s remedy!

 

            Victoria dances to the beat and lyrics while Kate slowly joins in, copying her moves. The two stand back-to-back, taking in each other’s presence in their lives. For them, this moment can never end.

 

The world can bring on horrors,

New monsters,

just gotta keep your honor

The world’ll piss on you

Speak ill all ‘bout you

Send you spiralin’

Down down down

But when you’re stuck on the floor,

Face covered in dirt,

You don’t hurt,

You work

On spreading humanity’s remedy

Coexist in melody

Indulge in excellency

 

            Kate and Victoria hold each others’ hands and sway from side to side, looking each other in the eyes. Kate removes Victoria’s sunglasses to see them directly, and both are mesmerized by the clarity in which they’ve just started to see each other in.

            They pull themselves closer together, connecting their foreheads to connect to each other.

            Victoria smiles and Kate smiles. Victoria asks, “It’s crazy what a day can bring, isn’t it?”

            “It’s strange, for sure. But that’s just the way things are.”

            As the two stand together, the world frozen around them, Victoria tells Kate, “I… I’m fucking up, aren’t I?”

            Kate shakes her head, asking, “What do you mean?”

            Victoria explains her problem with a question: “Have I been trying too hard?”

            “No, not at all! Have I, do you think?”

            “Not at all, Katie. It’s just, I’ve been asking myself; do I deserve this?” As Kate prepares to answer, Victoria shoots back, “I- I know you’ll say ‘yes’, but I’m not sure if I can do this ‘being good’ thing for you. I’m sorry.” She turns her back to Kate and starts sniffling.

            Kate’s face demonstrates determination as she grabs Victoria’s shoulder. “If you want to talk about this somewhere with more privacy and less loud rock music, we can go to my place. I have tea, and we can watch movies. And we can talk. Together.”

            Victoria smiles and laughs between stifled tears. “Okay. Let’s go have tea and watch movies. And talk together.”

            The two walk out through the crowd, seeing them get more and more confused at whatever is happening on the stage. The duo don’t care though, they’re focused on each other alone.


 

            The train ride home is quiet. Victoria looks out to the trees, eyes puffy from crying, and enjoys their beauty. Kate joins her and holds her hand to comfort her. Victoria lays back onto Kate’s chest and she takes a nap. Kate caresses her hair before napping too.


             At the Price household, Joyce watches the news. A headline reports: “An odd story for sure comes from London. Fifty-eight year old Florence Durrance claims he has the superpower to clone himself after waking up from a nap to find a second self eating his dinner.”

            Joyce rolls her eyes and changes the channel. Suddenly, she hears an electrical shortage in the backyard. She rushes over and sees a person in a yellow hazmat suit taking a knee in a small crater. This person looks around before nodding in approval. Joyce rushes outside to ask, “Who are you and what are you doing in my backyard?”

            The person in the hazmat suit takes off their mask, causing shoulder-length blue hair to spill out. Joyce’s jaw drops as she swears, “Holy shit.”

            The hazmat suited Chloe points to the kitchen counter inside the house. “If there’s still a swear jar in there, you owe it a do-”

            Joyce hugs Chloe and is unable to let go. Chloe returns the hug, stating, “It’s good to see you too, mom.”

            “What brings you here? Are you a ghost?”

            “I’m here to see Max. This Max. She might be in really serious danger. And also, no, I’m not a ghost. Max told me about Nathan killing me or whatever. Man, that feels… weird saying out loud.”

            “Tell me all about it inside, Chloe.” The two walk back inside, with Joyce shutting the door behind them.

Chapter Text

            Doctor Court checks her watch as she awaits Dolly’s return to her body. She hasn’t reappeared in twenty four hours ever since the liberation of Daniel Diaz. While looking at her watch, the timer begins to move counter-clockwise. Court looks around and Dolly jolts back to life. The Doctor crosses her arms and asks, "Where exactly were you?"

            "Arcadia Bay, then Culmination, then Arcadia Bay again. I kinda jumped around a few times."

            "You lost the Wolf and then went on a walk without consulting anyone? Do you have any idea how dangerous that is for you and us at the Agency?"

            "Very. But it has brought me new strength and a new game plan. And it'll bring Maxine a new struggle as well. Here’s what I’ve got.” Dolly whispers into Wanda’s ear, which brings a confused look to the Doctor’s eyes.

            Wanda points at Dolly sternly: "You better hope this will work, Dolly. Otherwise, it'll be game over for you and me."

            "I'm sure it will. Trust me. All I need is love and Arcadia Bay is drowning in all the lovey dovey bullshit the world could offer!" Dolly clasps her hands together and grins a vile smile, holding back sinister laughter.


 

            The tea pot whines and Kate hurriedly rushes to her kitchen to tend to the hot water. Wearing oven mitts, she cautiously carries the pot over to the living room. She pours two cups - one for Victoria and one for herself. She asks, “Vic? What flavor would you like?”

            “I take it ‘Rhode Island Iced’ isn’t an option, uh. What would you recommend?”

            Kate recommends, “I like lemon with honey, very refreshing and healthy.”

            “Interesting. I think I’ll have some of that.”

            Kate puts a lemon tea bag into each cup and carries them to the living room She places the cups onto the table in front of the couch where a giant blanket is keeping Victoria cozy. She tosses away the mitts and joins her under the blanket. Kate asks, “So what would you like to talk about?”

            Victoria begins to speak while sipping her tea: “I’m… you know, sorry about everything I’ve done to wrong you.”

            “I know, Vic. And I’ve forgiven you. A lot. And I won’t stop forgiving you. But have you forgiven yourself?”

            “No. I can’t do that. What I did isn’t something I can just walk away from, and I deserve that. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less.”

            “Oh, Vic. What you did to me back in October was not right. I’d even say it was horrible. But that’s in the past, and we’ve got the whole world ahead of us. We’ve got a whole world with other worlds popping up ahead of us. You have to forgive yourself, and it’ll make you feel better.”

            Victoria’s voice becomes more wobbly: “I’ve been trying though, what with my time at the Helper Shelter and my progress with my parents not hating my guts, and I just want to protect you, to make it all up to someone like you. You’re the closest thing on this planet to an angel.”

            Kate jokingly scoffs: “Protect me? Vic, I’m not the same person I used to be, I can look out for myself. But I wouldn’t want to be alone. I wouldn’t want you to be alone. If you want to forgive yourself, you can. It’s not easy, and it might take time. But you won’t be alone. I’ll be with you.”

            “Thank you, Katie.” With tears in her eyes, Victoria hugs Kate. She gets a few pats on the back for extra comfort. The two break apart the hug and Kate wipes away some tears from Victoria’s face with smiles on both of their faces.

            Kate says, “Now, let’s try watching some movies.” She flips on the television to a showing of  2012’s The Avengers . Within seconds of watching, she notices something different with Captain America: “Is that John Kraskinski?”

            “Alternate timeline movies. That’s a first.” Victoria says, sipping her tea. As the two sit next to each other, Victoria rests her head on Kate's shoulder. Kate puts her arm around her back and smiles.

            Behind the couch, Dolly stands. Her mental ghost smiles upon the two. “Oh, you young lovers. I think you two can be very useful. But rest. Calm your eyes.”


 

            "I'm home, honey. Max and Daniel are hanging out with the Merry Marauders - those space pirates who took her. She seems cool with them." David says as he walks into his house. However, he hears Joyce talking to someone else. Out of caution, he sneaks up to the kitchen's doorway and he peers in. He sees Chloe, her hair up in a loose ponytail. Tears begin to well up in his eyes and he walks in.

            "David?"

            "Oh, Chloe!"

            The two run up to each other and hug. Joyce explains to him, "This Chloe is a lot like ours, but she's from an alternate timeline. One where we were all killed in a big tornado."

              "Yeah. Max and I were on Rachel's trail in October of last year. Long story short, Jeffershit killed her and apparently killed me and Victoria in another timeline. Max came back to warn me just before this Vortex Club end of the world party and we warned you about him. But no matter what we did, the storm still came. I figured, to save you guys and the rest of the Bay, I had to die in that Blackwell bathroom. Seeing how things are now, I'm sure it worked."

            "That doesn't matter. We have you back!"

            "I know. Still, I'm not exactly here just to check up on you guys. Like I told Joyce, Max seemed to be worried about something when she visited me in the morning. And I think I know exactly what the problem is."

            "Well, if you want to stay in your room, it hasn't changed much. We left it mostly just the way it is."

            "Neat. Thanks, guys! Oh, and congratulations on the baby! I'm gonna be a big sister, it's crazy!"

            Chloe heads up to her bedroom while Joyce and David go to the living room.

            "Jesus, this is really happening. I don't know what to say!"

            "I am a little worried. About Max and the Bay, and Chloe, and us. There's something big happening. The universe doesn't just plop in good things unless something bad is coming to balance it out, and vice versa."

            "Don't you worry a hair on your head, Joyce. If things are looking up for everyone, then that's all I need to know."

            Upstairs, Chloe lies on her bed and checks her phone notifications. She decides to dial Max's number and she calls it.


 

            Max's phone vibrates as she looks up to the night sky, asleep.

            Daniel, being awake as can be, sees the phone and picks up.

            On the other side of the phone, Chloe asks, "Max? Are you up?"

            "No, my name is Daniel. She's asleep right now."

            "Oh. Uh, I hate to bother her, but I need to hear her voice again. Can you tell her Chloe has to talk to her?"

            "Okay!" Daniel rushes over to Max, shaking her to consciousness.

            She asks him: "Daniel, what are you doing on my phone?"

            He explains: "There's someone named Chloe who wants to talk to you."

            Max’s eyes narrow in rage: "Is that a joke? Because I’m not laughing."

            "No, I'm serious. And I think she is too."

            Max rushes to the phone and picks up: "Chloe?"

            "You sound tougher, Max. How have you been?"

            Max falls to her knees, tears rolling out of her eyes. "Chloe! Chloe! Oh, you're alive."

            "I remembered your flicker and I knew I had to get here ASAP. But I'm mostly calling just to make sure you're okay. It feels so good to be this much closer to you again."

            "I-it does. Where are you now?"

            "At David and Joyce's house. In my old room."

            "Stay right there." Max gets up and runs off the premises of the water treatment facility.

            Daniel asks her, "Wait, where are you going?" He rushes after her.

            Starsight sits up, having awoken from his slumber, and mutters, "Wait up, me hearties!" Upon seeing them leave, he throws his hand away and yells, "Oh, forget it!", before going back to sleep.


 

            Max dashes down the street as Daniel follows in a telekinetic hamster ball. Upon reaching the front door, she frantically knocks on it.

            Joyce opens it, worriedly asking, "What's up, Ma-?

            She gets cut off by Max rushing upstairs and Daniel cautiously following.

            She opens the door and sees Chloe, sitting on the bed. She says heartfully, "Max."

            Max responds with as much lovestruck fervor, "Chloe" before rushing to the bed and hugging her. Chloe falls backwards, having not expected Max's new strength.

            She insists, "Talk to me, Max. What have I missed? I mean, besides you of course?"

            "A lot. A whole fucking lot."

            From the shadows, the mental ghost of Dolly watches. “Do not fear, Maxine. All will be known. And you all will be affected. Just. You. Wait.” She smiles before disappearing.


 

            Dolly walks out into the empty, sleeping streets of Arcadia Bay. She smiles to herself and starts to chuckle. “How quaint this shithole can be when everyone is asleep. Sweet dreams, Arcadia Bay.”

            Using her growing psychokinesis, she has a phone fly into her hands. She swipes through it in search of the ViewTube app. She finds it, opens it and searches for one song: The Everly Brothers’ All I Have To Do Is Dream . Creakily, she sings along:

 

Dreeeeeam, dream, dream, dream

Dreeeeeam, dream, dream, dream

 

            As she sings this lullaby to herself, she feels her powers achieving control over the minds of Max, Chloe, Daniel, Victoria and Kate. As she sings, and she smiles, she starts moving her feet in a rhythmic fashion. She taps her red shoes on the pavement, before raising her arms slowly in bliss and spinning in a circle. Behind her plain white face mask, she grins and looks up into the air.

 

When I want you… in my arms

When I want you… And all your charms,

Whenever I waaant you

All I have to do… is dreeeeeam,

Dream, dream, dream…

 

            She starts tap dancing as she continues singing along to the song:

 

When I feel blue… in the night

And I need… you… to hold me tight

Whenever I want you, all I have to do is dreeeeeam.

 

            Dolly starts to slide left and right before shushing her new victims: “Sleep tight. Don’t let the nightmares bite.”


 

            Chloe sees herself sitting upon a throne, surrounded by riches beyond her wildest… well, now within her wildest dream. Next to her is an empty throne.

            Chloe looks around and sees the empty chair. She raises an eyebrow and asks herself, “The fuck?”


 

            Kate sees herself pulling a piping hot turkey out of an oven. She sticks a thermometer in it, seeing that it is at a proper temperature. She pauses and asks herself, “The heck?”


 

            “That is an awesome Pikachu, Noah!” Daniel says into his gaming mic as he plays Minecraft in his bedroom with a smile on his face.

            The door to his room opens and the Superwolf-outfitted Future Daniel steps inside, clearly confused. He sees himself playing and asks himself rather loudly, “The fuck?!”

            “Daniel! No using that language!”, yells his dad, Esteban.

            Future Daniel looks to the living room, seeing his dad drinking a cup of wine while watching the 2014 South American Games. He asks, “Dad?”

            From Sean’s bedroom, he hears his brother mockingly ask, “Ooh, did Daniel say a bad woooord?”

            Present Daniel yells, “Did not!”, before quickly returning to his game. Future Daniel marches into the living room.

Chapter Text

            On the television, the local Seattle news airs the Thanksgiving’s Day Parade downtown. Hundreds are gathered to partake in this annual ceremony. From within the kitchen of the Chase household, Kate speaks: “Dinner time!”

            Victoria quickly swipes through her social media profiles, seeing many posts celebrating Thanksgiving:

 

Max Caulfield (@NoirAngel)

Happy to be celebrating with my girlfriend and our parents! #Thanksgiving

 

Sean Diaz (@ProfSeanD)

Feliz día de acción de gracias!

 

Taylor Christensen (@TayChri)

So grateful for the people in my life! @NathanManP @ChasingVictory @CWagner

 

            As she swipes up, she closely scans whose posts she is seeing. She asks herself, “The fuck?”

            “Language, Victoria!”, yells Victoria’s mother.

            “Yeah, Vic.” Kate walks behind Victoria and wraps her arms around the back of her neck. She whispers into her ear, “You… are seeing this too, right?”

            “Uh huh. I don’t really believe this. I mean, who is Sean Diaz anyways… Wait, my parents met his dad once. And isn’t that superhero kid’s last name Diaz?”

            Victoria’s father explains, “The Diazes are good people, Vic. Esteban was real proud of our ‘Automobiles of Australia’ exhibit back in 2008. Can’t blame ‘em. It was well-researched.”

            Kate looks at Victoria and the two say, “This is a dream, isn’t it?”

            An unseen speaker explains to them, “No, this is quite real! Oh, what a Thanksgiving! Victoria with a girlfriend of her own!”

            Victoria looks at the speaker - dressed in a pink and white dress - and asks, “I’m sorry, who are you?”

            “I’m your Aunt Dolores! I know it’s been a long time since we’ve last met, but I’m back! Had to spend some time doing government work in Rhodesia, but I’m here now, and that’s ALL that matters.”

            Kate looks around and asks the partygoers: “Can me and Victoria get a moment please?”

            “Of course!”, says Aunt Dolores.

            The two rush into the bathroom and Victoria locks the door. She tells Kate, “Okay, so this is a dream? Last I checked, it was mid-March and not late-November. Also, the last thing all my old Vortex Club pals told me was ‘Go fuck yourselfie, Victoria, you abhorrent human being’, so why wouldn’t I be blocked by them? And why would Nathan be free? ”

            “Seems like a dream. And that Aunt Delores person… is she your actual aunt?”

            “Nope… I have an Auntie Mia in North Carolina, but no Aunt Dolly…”

            Kate snaps three times as she realizes, “Dolly… The Doll! Remember what Max told us about an evil Doll woman. The Doll!”

            Victoria strokes her chin and states, “I remember. Is this her superpower, to fuck with us in our dreams?”

            “I’m afraid it might be, or it’s something like it. Do you think we’re trapped?”

            “No, we can’t be. Not in a dream. If there’s a will, there’s a way. And there’s only one way to get out of a dream, I think… besides waking up, of course. We gotta die.”

            Kate crosses her arms, asking: “Okay. How would we do that?”

            Victoria punches the bathroom mirror, leaving no wounds and a lot of shards of glass. She grabs a shard and holds it to her throat. “See you on the other side, Kate!” She holds it to her throat still.

            Kate claps and tells her, “C’mon, Vic, you can do it… I’ll follow right after.”

            Victoria’s hand shakes and she drops the shard. “I can’t do it.”

            Kate scoffs and tells her, “It’s just a dream.”

            “I know, but it’s gonna hurt a lot and I’m a little scared.”

            “Okay, just close your eyes. I’ll help you through it.”

            “Okay.” Victoria closes her eyes. “Breath.” As she is encouraging her, Kate picks up a shard of glass and lunges for Victoria’s throat.


 

            “AHH!” Victoria jolts back to the waking world and clutches her throat. She looks at her hand and sees no blood. She laughs and yells, “Yeah, screw you, Dolly!”

            She looks at Kate and sees her still asleep. She shakes her a bit: “Katie, wake up!”

Suddenly, Kate also jumps back to consciousness, bolting off the couch. “Ow!”

            Victoria runs up to Kate and asks her, “Oh my God, are you okay?”

            Kate nods and Victoria hugs her tightly, telling her, “Thank you”

            “Before you asked, I jumped out of that window behind the toilet. Landed headfirst onto the hood of a Subaru and… ouch.”

            Victoria pecks Kate on the cheek and tells her, “We need to check up on Max and Daniel.”

            Victoria and Kate grab each other’s jackets and puts them on in a rush. Upon seeing each other wearing each other’s jackets, they both say in unity, “You look great in that. Keep it.” Kate giggles. The two grab their shoes and run out of the apartment.


 

            “The hell is happening?”, Future Daniel loudly asks.

            “Daniel, if you keep talking like that, you’re going to get correa!” Esteban says this before Future Daniel runs up to him and hugs him. “Hugs are nice and all, but that doesn’t make swearing in the house ok- WHAT THE HELL?!”

            Esteban jumps out of his seat, afraid of this crimson intruder. He pushes Future Daniel away and rushes to the front door. Present Daniel and Sean run out of their rooms and see this Future Daniel.

            Sean jumps in front of Present Daniel, telling him, “Stay back, enano. Get in your room.”

            Future Daniel takes off his helmet and lets everyone see his older face, his untamed mohawk, and his forlorn eyes. Present Daniel asks, “Who are you?”

            “I’m you. From the future. Six years in the future.”

            Sean asks, “Are you a ghost?”

            “No, of course not. This Doll woman - she’s a supervillain - sent me here for some reason. But I’m so happy about that! It’s been so long since I’ve seen any of you! I have so much to tell you!”

            The four take seats in the living room and Esteban urges Future Daniel, “Okay, start at the beginning.”

            Future Daniel begins: "Once upon a time, in a wild, wild world, there were two brothers and they lived in Seattle with their father. That was until their father was shot and killed by an anxiety-ridden police officer. Framed for crimes they didn’t commit, the two brothers headed South in search of their father’s hometown, Puerto Lobos. Along the way, they meet people who wanted to hurt them and people who wanted to help them. But the brothers gradually fell apart as the little one was lost in his own growing mind. He hurt his older brother and tried to leave him but fate put them back together one last time. The little brother made it home, to Puerto Lobos, but his older brother… did not. A few years passed as the little brother did everything in his power to right his wrongs, putting on a mask to fight crime as the Superwolf. Then, one day, fate brought him a new chance at life in the form of a wormhole. He fell in, and was transported to a new time, in the past. But not his past. One like it, but with changes. In search of his home, he was captured by a shadowy organization where he was experimented on by mad scientists and his fellow metahumans - people with powers like him. But he met one metahuman, a girl with the ability to go backwards in time, and he helped her out. Within time, he was sent to hunt her but he was freed by two different girls with the ability to take him down. Unknown to them, he was possessed by an evil metahuman and his defeat freed him from her influence. In search of the rewinding girl, he met space pirates and a former soldier. Him and the rewinding girl then went back home to meet with her friend and they fell asleep. Now, the little brother is back home. Telling his family the tale of the two brothers…"

            With the story finished, Future Daniel begins sobbing and he is comforted by his past self, his father and his brother. Esteban tells his future son, “Let it out, Daniel. You’re home.”

            “I don’t… know how much time I have left until I wake up! I want to be here forever! I want to save you all!”

            “And you can, enano. We’ll see you again. Where are you now?”

            “Arcadia Bay. In Oregon. But please, don’t come for me, things are dangerous. I’m still hunted and I don’t want you getting hurt!”

            “You can always come to us, future me. I’ll let you sleep in my bed if you have to!”

            “Thank you, young me. Okay. I’ll come ASAP.”

            “Just do what you have to do, son. We know you have important things to do, being an up-and-coming superhero and all. But once you do come, we’ll welcome you with open arms.”

            “I know, dad. I guess it’s time for me to go back now. I love you all.”

            “We love you too, Daniel.”

            The family hugs once more and Future Daniel fades away.


 

            Chloe looks around her throne of riches and says, “This isn’t right, where’s Max? She was just explaining to me how she fought a clown!”

            Upon further peering, she realizes, “Dammit, I fell asleep! Max is gonna be pissed. But I need to know right now; how do I get outta here?”

            She looks around and sees a rusty blue car with a shiny little bumper on it. A sly smirk comes to her face as she reaches for a gun in her pocket. She pulls out a pistol, much to her surprise, and aims at it. “Goodbye, cruel bumper!” She fires, and the bullet ricochets back at her face.


 

            Chloe jumps out of bed, seeing that she is now back in her room. Triumphantly, she throws her arms in the air, saying, “Hella yes! Suck it, Sandman!” She covers her mouth and looks around at the sleeping Daniel and Max. She whispers, “Sorry.” before sitting back down. Suddenly, she comes to a realization: “Wait. That other throne… Was that for Max?”

            Chloe rushes over to Max’s sleeping face and asks her, “Max, where are you?”


 

            Max sees nothing.


 

            Dolly falls through white space, spinning endlessly. She entered Max’s mind, but she wasn’t there for her… well, her but also not her. There is another Max that she’s been dying to meet.


 

            The OmniMax sees herself sitting at the Arcadia Bay lighthouse, strumming a guitar in peace while looking at the white oblivion that is the Transect - a gateway of which a time traveller can jump from one timeline to another. She is wearing what almost every Max wore back in Blackwell: gray hoodie, blue jeans, a pink t-shirt and sneakers. Dolly faceplants into the ground behind the OmniMax before getting up, her face covered in soil. She shakes her head to get rid of the dirt and smirks behind her mask.

            “Where are we, Maxine Caulfield?”

            “A place of no concern to you, clown.”

            “First of all, I am not a clown, I am a doll. Secondly, I am in your dream! It was a trick question! Aha!”

            “I cannot dream. I sacrificed the ability, among many other earthly traits, to make the ones I had come to fruition.”

            Dolly looks away, asking herself, “The fuck?” Suddenly, she comes to a realization: “You’re not my Max, are you?”

            “Of course not. I am the Max of no time. The OmniMax.”

            Dolly spins around to face her: “YES! My plan worked! That phony Max was something of a gateway to you. The one who took control of her, who let her Chloe die, who let her get captured by us at the Agency, who was-”

            The OmniMax grabs a clean and shiny scimitar and points the tip of the blade at Dolly’s throat to shut her up. Even Dolly is shocked by this: “I know my sins, Dolly. Now, what do you want?”

            “I want to take, maybe just a piece of your… essence, to bring it back to my boss, Dr. Court. Y’see, to power this wormhole generator thingamajig that the Agency of Metahuman Containment has in the works, she needs Maxine Caulfield to act as a battery. We’ve tried a few times to recapture her; once with a platoon of our best men, then with this clown named Tangi, and again with this little boy calling himself ‘the Superwolf’. All have failed, so now, it’s up to me.”

            Dolly pulls out a vial and opens it up for the OmniMax, telling her, “So spit into this thing for me?”

            The OmniMax stares at Dolly in bewilderment. Dolly shakes the vial as if to try and egg the OmniMax into assistance. She asks Dolly, “Why should I help you?”

             Dolly raises her eyebrows and shrugs as if to tell her, “I dunno.”

            “Then, no. You may not have my… essence.” The OmniMax goes back to looking off into the Transect. Suddenly, she hears a blade whiz through the air, aimed at the back of her head. She grabs it without looking and spins around to face Dolly.

            Mockingly, Dolly explains, “I didn’t do that!”

            The OmniMax throws the blade away and rushes Dolly with her scimitar. Dolly manifests two more blades into her hands and makes a “bring it on” gesture.


 

            Victoria and Kate rush to the Price household and Victoria knocks on the front door.

            From behind the door, Chloe states, "Sorry, but no one is home at the moment! Come back never, Victoria!"

            "Chloe?! You're here too?!"

            "Shocking, I know. Now, leave."

            "Chloe, listen, I know you and Victoria… weren't on great terms back in the day, but we have to see Max and Daniel!"

            "Don't we all? Look, Kate, I like you, but Victoria isn't allowed in here! And if she comes in, we're fighting on the spot."

            "Jeez, Vic, what did you do?"

            "I… kinda sorta tried to drug Rachel Amber before the Tempest."

            Kate’s eyes open wide and she claims, "That's not nice!"

            Shaking, Victoria elaborates: "Look, I know, it sucked. It was stupid and horrible of me. But then she and Chloe drugged me back, so even-stevens."

            "What- I- Why was everyone drugging everyone?! Okay, y'know what, forget it, can you two just make up?!"

            Both shoot back at Kate, at the same time, "NO! SHE'S AN ASSHOLE! NO, YOU'RE THE ASSHOLE! AH, SCREW YOU, VICTORIA/CHLOE! NO, YOU!"

            Kate, seeing the two bickering, drops her face into her palms in frustration. She balls her hands up into fists and yells, "Enough! Both of you, stop this fighting! It's stupid, Max and Daniel are both in danger and you two are still on this! Get over yourselves, or at least wait until things aren't as intense, okay?!"

            Victoria looks at Kate, shocked.

            Chloe opens the door, shocked.

            Kate crosses her arms and says, "May we please come in, Chloe?"

            Chloe nods and lets the two into the house.

            As the trio walks up the stairs in awkward silence, Victoria whispers to Kate, "That's, uh, new. It's kinda cute."

            "Not now, Vic. And thanks. Also, sorry."

            "It's okay. I'm sorry too. Are you sorry, Chloe?"

            "What? Sure, I guess. Now, let's just go into my room and see how the two are doing."

            Chloe opens the door to see Daniel wake up from his dream. He looks around and smiles, still fresh from his encounter with his family. Kate asks, “Daniel? Are you okay?”

            “I am. But I need to go to Seattle. My family is waiting for me.”

            Daniel prepares to go through the door but Victoria stops him and tells him, “You can… Actually, we can, but not right now. We still have to go save Max from her dream.”

            “I know. You guys can do that, I’ll hop in my hamster ball and leave you to it. Meet up with you there.”

            Kate interjects: “That’s not what she meant… Look, I know how it feels, wanting to leave everything behind when things seem dark, I’ve been there. But we can’t go yet. Not without Max.”

            Daniel crosses his arms and states, “Fine. How do we do this?”

            Chloe looks at Max and explains simply, “We have to wake her up.”

            The group rushes to Max and starts violently shaking her, uttering phrases like, “Get up, Max!” “Wakey wakey, Max!” “Breakfast, Max!” “Rise and shine, Max!”

            Back inside the Transect, OmniMax jabs her sword at Dolly, only for the villain to catch it with her two blades in hand. The OmniMax is stronger than Dolly, pushing down on the scimitar and bringing Dolly down on one knee.

            OmniMax begs of Dolly, “Yield. And you shall go free.”

            “Never!” Dolly swipes OmniMax off her feet, causing her to slam onto the floor. Dolly hops on top of her and attempts to plunge her blades into the OmniMax’s chest. The OmniMax deflects this attack with her scimitar and pushes Dolly over, causing her to roll over the cliff. She hangs on to the soil while staring down at the white oblivion beneath the two of them.

            “Maxine! Uh, OmniMaxine, please help me! I’m sorry!”

            Dolly offers the OmniMax her hand but the OmniMax refuses, turning away from her. Suddenly, Dolly loses her grip and falls into the Transect, screaming as she does.


 

            Max jolts back to reality and she sees everyone holding on to her limbs. She asks, “Uh, is everything okay?”

            Chloe hugs Max and states, “You’re back.”

            Max returns the hug and confusedly asks, “Yeah… What happened?”

            Daniel steps forward and simply explains, “Dolly happened, Max.”

            “Damn. What did she do?”

            “Got into our dreams, showed us things. Me and Katie saw Thanksgiving dinner together.”

            “I got to see my family again!”

            “I saw two thrones, one for me and the other most likely for you. But you weren’t there. What did you see?”

            Max shrugs and explains, “Nothing. Literally nothing.”

            Victoria asks, “What was Dolly’s plan then? Make us consider our goals… in… Oh.”

            Kate adds another question, “Why?”

            Max replies, “Only Dolly knows.”

            Chloe slides back into bed with Max, caressing her head while half-asleep. Daniel climbs into a pile of old clothing near the bed. Victoria and Kate look around and give everyone two thumbs-ups before walking out of the room.

Chapter Text

            In the midst of deep sleep, Max nuzzles closer to Chloe, embracing all the warmness her old friend is radiating. Max tiredly grabs Chloe’s hand, rubbing her fingers across the new watch she is wearing, with its humble blue glow beneath the face of it.


 

            “Max? Er, other Max?”

            Max opens her eyes and sees herself stuck in the Transect, where another version of herself sits on the floor with her legs crossed. She’s dressed in a white variation of her usual style - hoodie, jeans, sneakers, tee - but what’s alarming are the black “X”s over her eyes and the yellow halo floating over her head.

            Our Max asks, “You’re me?”

            The heavenly Max replies, “Kinda. You’re alive and from that other timeline, where I guess I let Chloe die. I’m dead and from Chloe’s timeline. Well, the Chloe you’re getting cozy with anyways.”

            The living Max shakes and exclaims, “Oh. I’m sorry! I-”

            The dead Max puts her hand up to silence the living Max and coolly tells her, “Don’t be. She’s yours now. The most I can do is power that watch she’s wearing. It’s my sacrifice to save her.”

            “Save her? From what?”

            “Okay, sit down, let me explain a bit. It all started at that End of the World Party that the Vortex Club was throwing because it snowed in October and there was an eclipse or something. You probably missed it, you’re lucky. It was tacky. Me and Chloe went to go shoot Nathan, we believed that he had killed Rachel Amber and drugged Kate and a bunch of other people. He did, but it turned out Mr. Jefferson was the mastermind. I found out because someone else hopped into my brain and put me on autopilot.”

            “You too?”

            “Yuh huh. The Big Max. You can see her over there.” The dead Max points to the OmniMax off in the distance, back to sitting in her ideal dreamscape of the Arcadia Bay Lighthouse. “She’s the one who fucked our lives up. I remember her taking over my mind, telling Chloe that Arcadia Bay was doomed regardless of what we did, right on the eve of the tornado that was coming to destroy the town. So that night, we left without a word. Everyone died, it seems. Well, most people. There were survivors, smart people who left just as the storm was coming, but almost everyone we knew was gone. After that, we moved to Los Angeles and came into conflict with some assholes called the Agency of Metahuman Containment. They were run by Sean Prescott, desperate to try and find a way to save Nathan. They figured the key was ‘wormholes’ and wanted to use me to power some giant wormhole generator that would take them to a new timeline, hopefully one where Nathan was alive. For four months, they hunted us like the Plague Dogs. But we killed Mr. P and stole the blueprints to a smaller portal watch. But it was the same as the big portal, it needed my essence. And to make matters worse, the Agency was coming for us hard now that their biggest benefactor was dead at our hands. After working with some other people to make the portal watch functional, I let Chloe use my life to power the portal watch and she was ready to go. But she didn’t know where… until you showed up, and she knew just where to go.”

            The living Max crosses her arms and looks away as she feels the gravity of Chloe’s situation: “Oh, God.”

            “It sucked, dying. But we’d do anything to save Chloe. Now, you’re my Chloe’s Max. And I know you’ll take good care of her.”

            “I already lost her once. I won’t lose her again.”

            The dead Max smirks and tells her, “I believe you, Max.”

            “Good to be on the same page, Max.”

            The two Maxes shake hands and smile proudly to one another.


 

            Max slowly takes her hand off of Chloe’s portal watch and looks at her as she sleeps. Knowing what she now knows, Max holds her tightly and rubs her head along her neck, feeling her warmth and accepting it as her flag to bear.


 

             Deet. Deet. Deet. Deet.

            Dolly lies on a stretcher with cords hooked into her brain by a silver crown.

            "Nothing yet?"

            "Her heart's still beating, brain activity is all but dead though. We're not sure we can save her."

            "Dammit! Why, Dolly?! You just had to do all this dumb shit!" Wanda walks away from Dolly to consult with the medic: "So she's effectively dead?"

            "I'm afraid so."

             deetdeetdeetdeetdeetdeetdeetdeet

            Dolly opens her eyes and silently sits up. She turns to face Wanda and the medic but their backs are turned to her. Seeing the chance to strike, she raises her hand in their direction and crushes it into a fist, freezing them. Angrily, she stands and walks over to them, looking into their fear-stricken eyes. She looks up at her crown and adjusts it properly, bringing a smirk to her face. She turns his eyes, apathetic in their gaze, to the medic and snaps her fingers at him. He collapses, dead. "Now, what to do with you, Doc? Hmm… ah, screw it. Dance! Dance for your new queen!"

            Dolly snaps her fingers and Wanda erupts erratically into a dancing fit with the grace of a classically trained ballerina. With Wanda dealt with, Dolly ghastly waltzes to the door and it flies open as she walks up to it, knocking out two guards. Several other guards spot this and fire upon Dolly without pause: "Patient #9715 has escaped containment! She is near the Medical Bay!"

            As the bullets approach Dolly, she raises her hand and freezes the bullets in mid-air… literally. The bullets promptly drop to the floor, shattering. Even Dolly is shocked at this, as she looks into her palms in confusion before diverting her gaze to the guards aiming their guns at her. She leans her head to the side, causing the guns to turn into black mambas. The guards drop their snakes and bolt out of the hallway. Dolly walks over the snakes carefully before they escape into an open ventilation shaft.

            Marching proudly into the containment sector, she claps her hands twice and all the cells open. Leaping out of the cells, the many prisoners either attack the personnel within the area or seek the nearest exit of the facility.

            Three guards try to rush Dolly, only for her to see them and squint angrily. As a result, the guards turn into pigeons and two of them fly right past her. The third hits her in the cheek and she goes down, clutching her wound. This pigeon flies out of one of the exits and Dolly clutches her fist angrily.

            Dolly enters the main office area of the base and snaps her fingers, reducing all the cubicles to bubbles. Hiding within the bubbles are the brains behind the Agency - the head generals, scientists, benefactors, et cetera. With another snap of her fingers, the bubbles turn to mercury vapor. She steps out of the room and locks the door with a durable ruby ribbon.

           Dolly walks out to the main lobby, past employees and prisoners running for their lives. Upon reaching the front door, she slowly opens it and steps out into the parking lot while basking in the night's cool air. She starts to hover in the air and she flies over the Agency's base. She raises her hands, gutting much of the base's ventilation system and pulling it into the air. She grins evilly and has the air shafts slam into the building. Dust flies into the air and Dolly smirks.

            She sees the last of the people leave the building in a frenzy, signified by a ten second grace period where no one else leaves. With that noticed, Dolly waves her arms in the air, causing the ventilation shafts to wildly tear the building to shreds. After a minute of destruction, the building collapses, and dust and debris spread across the area in a giant poof. The dust clears and Dolly flies away into the night.


 

          Kate and Victoria rush up Overlook Avenue, reinvigorated. The naps really energized them. As they reach the entrance to Kate's apartment building, they see sleeping partygoers strewn around the area like a cuddle puddle, in addition to six police cruisers picking up the people. Kate raises an eyebrow to this and asks Victoria, "What happened here?"

            Victoria spots one person in specific: the bouncer from the PissHead concert lying within a bush with his legs sticking out. She walks over to him and hears his breathing. "He's alive. Seems like everyone else is too."

            "Vic… is that Skip?"

            Victoria and Kate walk over to the curb just outside of the building’s front door where Skip is sleeping. Victoria lifts him up so that he is sitting and not quite sleeping.

            Kate shakes him a bit: "Uh, Skip, what are you and the rest of the party people doing outside my building?"

            Skip's eyes open and he looks around, startled. He rubs the back of his head and points out: "This ain't Jacobi Memorial Park."

            Kate asks the rocker, "Skip, what happened?"

            "Well, while I was singing, I heard the instruments start messing up. My guys never mess up their stuff, always doing double checks and triple checks before shows, so it was real odd. Then, the instruments and sound stuff started playing some weird electric beat, all on their own, and the whole place died down quick. I felt my mind go numb. Last thing I saw was some doll chick laughing, telling me to go take you two out with my army of evil."

            Annoyed, Kate crosses her arms and asks Victoria, "Jeez louise, what is Dolly's problem with us?"

            Skip gets up and drowsily walks away, shrugging. “Who knows? Good night.” Skip stops and turns to them, asking, “How do I get back to Culmination?”

            “Take the stairs across the street down to the train station. The train that says ‘Culmination’ is your train by the way.”

            Skip gives the girls two thumbs up before dashing away to the train station. With the situation under control, Kate leads Victoria back inside, back to her apartment for an attempt to sleep.


 

            Night gives way to day, and the noon sun rises over Arcadia Bay. Max sits up with her hair cleanly combed and rushes over to Daniel's makeshift bed in a hurry. She's dressed up in a red t-shirt, gray trousers and sneakers. She claws through his bed and sees that he is not there. In his wake however, he's left a trail of clothes leading out the window. Angrily, she shakes and whispers, "Fuck."

            Chloe rubs the top of her head and does her messy hair in a bun. She’s wearing black sweatpants and a gray sweater. She sees Max and asks, "What happened?"

            Max explains, "He bolted! Daniel!"

            Chloe's eyes widen and she exclaims, "He WHAT?!"

            "Bolted! I came back from an hour into the future, hoping I’d be in time to stop him, but he must've left while we while we're sleeping."

            From downstairs in the living room, Joyce asks, "Chloe, Max, Superwolf! Is everything alright?"

            Max rushes over to the door and says, "Make that just 'Chloe and Max', Daniel left us!"

            Joyce adds with a worried cadence, "Oh, he said he was headed for Seattle, to go see his family."

            Angrily, Max grabs at her own hair and tells, "Ugh, god! Guess it's back to Seattle for me. Gotta pick up that kid before he does something stupid."

            "We have to eat breakfast first.”

            “True. This is Joyce’s breakfast after all.”

            The two head downstairs and see that the television is on in the living room. In the kitchen, Joyce reheats breakfast with the microwave. On the couch sits Joyce and David, dressed up in their usual casual attires. It is playing a breaking news broadcast: “I’m on the scene outside of Boise, Idaho where police have reported a massive explosion within a United States experimentation facility.”

            Sitting at the kitchen table eating microwaved breakfast, Max rhetorically asks, "Boise, Idaho?"

            With scrambled eggs in her mouth, Chloe rhetorically asks, "Government base?"

            Max and Chloe look at each other and say at the same time: "The Agency! What happened to them?"

            The news answers their question rather swiftly: "Sources indicate that an experiment gone awry was the cause of this great disaster. It has escaped and is believed to be armed and very dangerous. Fatalities and injuries are uncounted at the moment but the number is speculated to be in the low hundreds and contained to those within the facility. This is not believed to be an act of terror."

            Max hops to her feet and states, “We need to get there ASAP.”

            Chloe checks her phone’s GPS system, which is acting a little glitchy due to it re-adjusting to a different Earth, and she is shocked at what it shows: “It’s an eight-hour drive though…”

            Suddenly, a knock is heard at the front door and Starsight’s voice is heard: “Aye, Max Caulfield! We heard about the Agency blowing up, we’re headed to Idaho to investigate! Wanna come with us? We have a ship, and it's a lot faster than your earthly cars!”

            Max rushes over to the door and opens it to see Noctarious and Starsight standing in the doorway with a ship behind them. Noctarious waves at the two in a friendly manner and Chloe reciprocates with a wave of her own, smiling. Chloe looks over to Max and tells her, “I’m digging your new pirate friends.”

            David peers over to the door and sighs, kissing Joyce on the forehead. "I guess I'm headed with them. I'll be back soon."

            "But it's an eight hour drive."

            As he puts on his shoes with a joyous smirk on his face, David replies, "Not with spaceships."

            Max tells Chloe, “I suppose space was inevitably the next step for Captain Bluebeard and Long Max Silver.”

            “You remembered!” Chloe pounds Max’s shoulder and Max chuckles. The three walk out of the house to see a sizable silver spacecraft with wide wings and engines on the side of the ship. On the side is written “Unit 501 | The Glitzed Glider”.

            Max points out, “Oh, one more thing, we need to pick up Victoria and Kate.”

            “Oh goody, Victoria.”

            “We need someone to go after Daniel. I’ve got an idea: We split up into two teams. The Idaho team - consisting of me, you, David and the Merry Marauders - and the Seattle team - consisting of Victoria and Kate. After we check in on the Agency’s base for anything we can use to rebuild the wormhole generator that the Agency was working on, we’ll fly over to Seattle to pick up Daniel, Victoria and Kate, as well as to rest before coming back tomorrow morning. Once back here, we’ll build the generator so that the Marauders, Daniel and many other anachronisms can find their way home… or something like that.”

            “Count me in on the Seattle Team, Max.” The team turns around to see Joyce standing in the doorway. “The girls and Daniel may need an adult with them. Plus, I think we all want to go to Seattle for the same reason.”

            Max nods her head softly, saying, “Yep. I wanna go see Mom and Dad.”

            Chloe adds, “We all do. It’s been a while. But first, we gotta go pick up Kate and Victoria, so let’s go do that and get this party started.” The four walk up to the Glitzed Glider as Starsight leads them over.

            Still confused about the pirates, Chloe asks Max, “Merry Marauders?”

            Starsight jumps in to explain: “Aye, me blue-haired heartie! ‘Tis the name of our band of brutes!”

            Chloe nods in acceptance, “Oh, okay. And what’s your name?”

            “I’m delighted you asked! Me name is Lord Starsight!”

            Chloe puts out her hand to Starsight. “A pleasure to meet you, Lord Starsight. My name’s Chloe. I’m a big fan of pirates.”

            Max pulls out her phone, dialing Kate’s number and calling it just as she enters the Glider with the Price Family.


 

            Lying in Kate’s bed are the two tired lovebirds, very clearly knocked out from the night prior. Victoria is, once again, clutching Kate’s stomach for security in her sleep. Courtesy of Victoria’s phone, Claire Littley’s cover of “Fly Me to the Moon” serenades the two:

 

Fly me to the Moon

Let me play among the stars

Let me see what spring is like

On Jupiter and Mars

In other wooords, hold my hand

In other wooords, darling, kiss me

 

            Suddenly, Kate’s phone starts ringing and she tiredly picks it up: “Yello?”

            Max responds on the other side of the conversation: “Hi, Kate! I hope you and Vic got home safe last night!”

            Rubbing her eyes, Kate responds, “Mm. Hey, Max. We did. Thank you.” She also asks, “What’s up?”

            “It appears that Daniel decided to run off on his own to Seattle. Would you and Vic like to take a trip there to save him from doing anything stupid? It's just a day and a night over there before we come back to Arcadia Bay.”

            “I appreciate your faith in us, but I’m not sure how we’d get there.”

            “I’m glad you asked. I’ve got a friend who can get you, her and Joyce there. His name’s the Shark-Stinger.”

            Kate repeats in astonishment, “The Shark-Stinger?”

            “Yeah. He’s an alien pirate who is a shark-car… Judging by your silence, I take it you’re shocked.”

            Kate shrugs and adds, “I believe it. It’s been a strange past few days.”

            “Awesome. I’ll give you guys two hours before departure. Cool?”

            “Cool. Will you be coming with us?”

            “Yes, but after going to Idaho. Me and some of the other alien pirates need to check the damage done last night to the Agency’s top base.”

            Curiously, Kate asks her, “What happened?”

            Max replies, “You haven’t seen the news? Someone, most likely Dolly, destroyed it. And it’s, uh, real bad. That said, we have to assess the damage and maybe find some stuff to make things right with the people trapped here as anachronisms.”

            “Oh my goodness! That’s… I don’t know, good, I think?”

            “It is good. Anyways, take care, I’ll see you in a bit!”

            “See you later, Max.” Kate hangs up the phone and looks over to Victoria, who is slowly starting to wake up. She moves next to Victoria and tells her, “Good morning, sleepyhead.”

            “Good morning… uh, wakeyhead. Is everything alright?”

            “I’d say so. I’m here with you, aren't I?”

            Victoria rubs Kate’s head in glee, adding, "Aw, cutie. So what's up?"

            "Daniel's run off to Seattle."

            Victoria rolls her eyes angrily, saying, "Of course he did. That brat."

            Kate adds, "And Max wants us to go get him."

            Tiredly, Victoria shrugs and says, "Okay. When?"

            "Two hours."

            Victoria’s eyes widen in shock as she asks, "Two hours?! I mean, how- wha- I don't get it."

            Kate reassures Victoria, "She's got a friend coming to pick us up. A space pirate called the Shark-Stinger."

            Victoria facepalms and says, "It's too early for this!"

            Blankly, Kate tells her, "It's one in the afternoon."

            Victoria adds in soft frustration, "Exactly, Katie." She sighs and rubs her face before exclaiming, "Fuck it, I guess we're going to Seattle today! For what, two days or something?"

            "A day and a night there before coming back here."

            "Okay. I’m gonna run over to my place and come back as quick as I can.”

            Victoria steps out of Kate’s bed, puts on her shoes and plops a kiss on Kate’s head before leaving through the front door.

            Kate steps out of bed and she walks over to her bedside drawers. She opens them up and pulls out a black skirt and a black and white t-shirt. She walks into the bathroom and changes in there.

            After finishing, she steps out and turns on the radio. Playing softly is metal music, which confuses Kate at first before she begins bumping her head to the beat, excited, in just a few seconds. She decides to let her hair down as she continues dancing.


 

            Victoria pushes her apartment's front door open and heads straight for the dresser by her bed. She opens it and grabs a burgundy jumpsuit and a black blazer. She walks behind a white changing curtain and puts on the jumpsuit behind it. After putting it on, she opens the curtain, puts on a pair of white socks and boots and throws on her blazer. She flicks some sunglasses onto her face and checks herself out in the mirror. She tells herself, "Okay, Vic, time to go home!", before leaving her apartment.


 

            Victoria walks around Overlook Avenue, headed once again to Kate’s apartment. Suddenly, she hears the sky tearing itself open. Confused, she looks up and sees the Merry Marauders’ Glitzed Glider slowly descend on the roof of the building that Kate lives in. Victoria hides behind a trash can in fear on the corner of the street, failing to escape the space pirates’ sight.

            Chloe steps out of the Glider and sits on the ledge of the building. She looks down on Victoria and says, “Jesus, Vicki, you’re not a great person, but I didn’t take you for garbage.”

            Scowling, Victoria steps out from her disguise and smugly laughs, “Ha ha. Good to see you too, Chloe. What’s with the spaceship?”

            Max steps forward and sits next to Chloe: “They’re our friends, the Merry Marauders. This fella is the Shark-Stinger.”

            A shark-themed car - the Shark-Stinger - drives off the building and lands on the street, driving up to Victoria. He stops in front of her and honks “La Cucaracha” as a show of friendship.

            Victoria chuckles. “Okay, that’s a first for me.”

            Max adds, “You get used to it.”

            A door opens on the side of the Shark-Stinger and Victoria steps inside. She looks at the driver’s seat and sees an inflatable smiling shark at the wheel. Victoria tells herself, “Yep, I’ll get used to it.”

            Suddenly, Kate and Joyce step into the Shark-Stinger. Kate’s got a plastic bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in hand. She says, “Hi, Vic! I made some PB and J sandwiches, if you’re interested.”

            Victoria stretches out her hand: “I’d like one for the road. Breakfast sorta didn’t happen for either of us.” Kate hands her a sandwich and Victoria starts eating almost immediately. Within a few seconds, she’s done with it and she shows her approval with a thumbs up to the young chef.

            The three buckle up as the Shark-Stinger starts revving up loudly and driving in reverse for about a yard. Max, Chloe and David wave goodbye to the Shark-Stinger’s crew as he blasts off with the Seattle-bound trio. Max starts walking back into the Glider and both David and Chloe follow. Chloe asks Max, “You think they’ll find Danny?”

            Max adds, “I’ve given Sharkie the directions of the Diazes’ house, at least according to what Daniel told me back when we were trapped by the Agency. Should be accurate enough, and I take it he’ll be headed there as well. And get this, they’re about a thirty minute walk away from my parents’ place.”

            Chloe states, “Nice! Now, let’s go see the Agency… or whatever’s left of them.”

            “Idaho-wards, me hearties!”, yells Starsight as he points into the distance from the cockpit of the Glider. The Glider flies into the air and blasts away from Arcadia Bay into the clear skies ahead.

Chapter Text

BOISE, IDAHO

 

            The Glitzed Glider soars over the town of Boise into the nearby deserts. In the skies, the sun is setting over the desert. Surrounded by the desert is the Agency’s Northwest Base of Operations: Fortress de Supero… or rather, what’s left of it. Everybody has left it - the escaped prisoners and doctors, the media, the locals and even the authorities.

            Starsight, scooping through debris with a shovel, asks Max, “Did you nab a view of the wormhole generator durin’ ye time of captivity?”

            “No, Starsight, I did not. At least there wasn’t something I saw specifically. But I know that they were working on it and it requires me to make it work. At least, it did for Chloe’s Max.”

            Confused, Noctarious asks her, “Aren’t you Chloe’s Max?”

            Max, remembering her dead counterpart’s words of encouragement, tells the purple bug pirate, “I don’t plan on changing anything about it!” Chloe smiles warmly at this comment.

            David walks up to Chloe and tells her, “Hey, kid… Sorry to seem weird at this moment, but I just want to say that it’s good to have you back.”

            “That’s not weird, dad. And it’s good to have you back too. Along with everyone else. It’s been a rough five months.”

            “I can tell. Hey, once all this superpeople business is done, what do you want to do?”

            “I kinda wanna just catch up. I’ve got friends to keep up with, like Steph and Mikey.”

            “Those fellas. They were good kids. I’m certain they’re around the Bay. I mean, Mikey’s dad was at the Helper Shelter, volunteering with food distribution. He’s a good guy.”

            “Mm-hm. Plus, uh, there’s the Ambers.”

            “Rose and James? What about them?”

            “Not exactly James, he could choke for all I care. I’m talking about Rose and Rachel. According to her Facebook, she’s online.”

            “What? That’s incredible!”

            “Right? Y’know, maybe these time anachronisms aren’t so bad after all.”

            Max pushes over a couple more rocks and hears someone shuffling in the debris. Max informs the group, “Guys, there’s someone here who needs help!”

            Noctarious rushes over and helps Max pull out the rubble covering the shuffler. Upon further excavation, they see a hand. A hand belonging to Dr. Court. It is shaking violently and the two begin pulling rocks faster. Eventually, a clearing opens and Max sees her dancing on the ground, her face covered in blood and dust from the base blowing up around her. Max whispers, “Oh my God”, to herself in shock, and she jumps down to Court and looks into her blank eyes as she shuffles in place. Suddenly, she jolts up to her feet and speaks: “Maaaaaax… Maaaaax! Help meeeeee…”

            “Okay!” Max socks Court across the face with a right hook to the jaw, knocking her out. “You’re welcome.” Court keeps on shaking and Max steps over her to see a filing cabinet, unopened even during the catastrophe. She dashes over to it and tears open a drawer in the “MNOP” section. Nothing on portals, but there is a big folder for paintings. Max looks at it and grabs it. She also sees a folder on herself and grabs it too. It’s not as big as the painting folder. She then opens the drawer labelled “ABCD” and pulls out the file on Daniel Diaz for safekeeping. Within seconds of that, she spots and pulls out the file for Dolly, but it’s empty.

            “Uh oh, spaghettios!” Max looks up to see Dolly standing on the filing cabinet with the papers in hand, the faceless white mask on her face and the silver crown on her head as the cherry on top. Max prepares to fight Dolly who giggles and shreds the papers up with scarily swift speed. Mockingly, she gasps, “Oh, you wanted those? Maybe you can go back in time for them!”

            Max raises her hand to go back in time only for Dolly to blip behind her and pull it behind her back. “You’re predictable. I recommend not being like that.” She then pushes her into the cabinet and places her palm on her forehead. "Just to be clear, we should be on the same team here.”

            Max spits angrily, “What are you talking about?”

            “The OmniMaxine, the Maxine who fucked you up. She's the real bad guy.”

            “Okay, I definitely know her. The dead me told me about that, but not about her being bad. Why would she be bad?”

            “Let me tell you… When I tried to jump into your mind last night, I entered her dreamscape on accident. I saw nothing much, just a regular old view of the Bay by a lighthouse. Then, I had to fight her for a piece of her essence, to power the wormhole generator Doctor Court had in the works; doctor's orders, sorry! It wouldn’t have worked anyways, this ain’t no Stargate! It’s all about ART! Photos, paintings, and drawings! Dali, Daguerre, Ditko, all the rest!”

            “So I don’t need a photo to jump through time?”

            “Of course not! I saw a few paintings up in the Transect when I went mano y mano with OmniMaxine. I guess that’s how she gets around. Or maybe she uses her time powers to, uh, 'get around', know what I’m saying? Heheh. Anyways, she beat me up and left me for dead after the battle. That's how I got these enhanced powers!"

            "What enhanced powers?"

            Dolly makes her free hand into a gun and aims it at an Agency coffee mug. She fires and the mug explodes into a bunch of toy snakes. Max shrugs in intrigue and says, “Cool. So let me get this straight: you tried to kill her and she retaliated, beating you, and now you’re upset about that.”

            Dolly lets go of Max and crosses her own arms, asking, “Would YOU do that?”

            Max shakes her head, “I… don’t think I would.”

            Dolly taps her own forehead and tells her, “I KNOW you wouldn’t! That’s why she’s so bad! And I also know of her little endgame! Once everybody’s back together, and the space pirates leave back to space and Wolfboy goes off to Mexico, she’ll hop in your mind and live your life.”

            “Why would she do that?”

            “Look around you! Your best friend is back from the dead, your two Blackwell buddies are gettin’ it on and the Prescotts have vanished from Arcadia Bay! That’s, like, any Maxine’s perfect timeline! And she’s a god! Gods are always evil… trust me, I should know.”

            “And?”

            “And everyone you love needs to KNOW! Jesus, Solid Snake, you have any more questions?!”

            “Do you think anyone would believe that?” Preemptively, Max nods to Dolly’s unspoken response as she’s seen this outcome already. Eight times. The OmniMax knows all too well.

            Dolly, initially ignorant of which Max she’s really talking to, tells her, “Of course I doooo-oh shit, it’s you.”

            The OmniMax, now back inside our Max’s body, nods and claims, “That’s right. It’s me now. Thank you for playing your part in getting everyone together, Dolly.”

            “My part?”

            “Without you, Court and the Agency to push this timeline’s me here, with the people I love, I wouldn't get my perfect timeline. Now, it’s time to tie up some loose ends. Namely you!”

            The OmniMax pulls her scimitar out of her pants pocket and slashes at Dolly, missing as the psychotic psychic falls backwards in shock. Dolly scutters out of the hole she, the OmniMax and Court are in, spotting Chloe and David scouting the area from a distance. She yells at them, “GUYS! MAXINE IS NOW EVIL! THAT’S THE OMNIMAXINE! DON’T LISTEN TO HER LIES! LISTEN TO ME PLEASE!” As she runs, she begins melting into the ground in a frenzied state, vanishing from everyone’s view.

            David asks, “Who is that?”

            “I think she got into our dreams last night; me, Kate, Max, Dan, and that other girl.”

            In shock at Chloe’s behavior, David questions her: “Did you just call Victoria ‘that other girl’? What’s up with you?”

            “I’m still bitter, okay.”

            The OmniMax steps out from nowhere, specifically behind the Prices, placing her hand on Chloe’s shoulder: “Now, Chloe, that’s not being too nice to her if you ask me. She’s on our side after all.”

            David asks… again, “Max, what happened?”

            “Nothing much. Just that I found the way home for the Marauders!” The OmniMax pulls out the files on paintings.

            Starsight hops into the conversation with a gracious, “That’s thee effort of ye olde gods, Max! Astounding find!”

            Darkly, OmniMax whispers, “It is… isn’t it?” She returns to an attempt at Max’s typically casual demeanor with a, “Now, let’s get to Seattle and pick up our friends. I’m sure they’ve got Daniel already. Oh, who am I kidding? They have, I already know!”

            Starsight leads the crew with an, “Arr, me crewmates! Our next stop is Seattle, Washington!”

            The crew begins walking back to the Glider. Chloe squints at the OmniMax and stops in place, detecting something is awry. Dolly peeks from behind her, scared of the goddess. “Something’s hella wrong with Max.”

            “Boy, I’ll say. Let me just show you.” Dolly tries to place her fingers on Chloe’s forehead but Chloe grabs her hand, instilling fear in Dolly. "Wait, wait, I'm not going to hurt you!"

            “Why should I trust you? Aren't you a supervillain?”

            “I’m a psychic. If I were to screw with you, it’d be a bit more obvious, wouldn’t it?” Dolly drops a wink in Chloe’s direction and a psychic double of Chloe follows the crew into the Glider. Dolly smirks at this cover-up for Chloe.

            Chloe rolls her eyes and crosses her arms. “Not a great reason, but whatever.” Dolly lets her in on the secret and Chloe’s tired eyes widen in fear. “A bad Max? Oh, we’ve got to do something.”

            “Then, we have no time to lose. Come with me!” Dolly wraps her arms around Chloe rather awkwardly and the two start to hover away.

            At the same time, the Glider lifts off to Seattle.

            Inside the ship, the OmniMax looks at the files her counterpart gathered and grins. She whispers to herself: "They know so much, and still only know so little."


 

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - THIRTY MINUTES EARLIER

 

            The skies are orange, yellow and purple; the colors of a beautiful evening on the West Coast. The dulcet tones of Yuno’s “Sunlight” fills the insides of two different cars - the Shark-Stinger’s three-woman crew and a Seattle school bus departing from Peacock High’s Saturday classes.

 

You hold my hand and teeell me iiit’s fiiine

It’s getting rough but weee’re stiiill a-liiive

You hold me close, your hair a-gain-st miiine

I love you so I’ll beee there, hooold tiiight

 

            Inside the Shark-Stinger, as it enters the suburban Seattle area where the Diaz family resides, Kate checks in on Joyce and her unborn baby. “Do you have any names for him yet?”

            “I was thinking something with a C, like Corey or Clarence.”

            “Clarence would be a lovely name for a boy. So you’re expecting him in August?”

            “Mm-hm.”

            Kate steps away from Joyce over to the napping Victoria in the back of the shuttle. She asks her, “So, Vic, what’s the plan for Daniel?”

            Half-asleep, Victoria asks her, “Why are you asking me?”

            Kate shrugs and tells her, “I figured you’d have something.”

            “Well, I was kinda thinking we should wait until he’s alone, maybe after he's done with his family reunion, then we talk to him and tell him that we need him to fight the Agency… again. Worse comes to worst, we bag him and drag him back to the Stinger. Max and her buddies will pick us up, take us to the hotel, and we can make peace with the kid.”


I’ll beee arooound

As soon as I leave this tooown

And we will be alright

Alone in the sunlight

And tiiime is moving slooow

As your hair starts to grow

I’ll be with you sometime

Alone in the sunlight

 

            Young Sean Diaz hops out of the school bus, listening to Yuno on his iPod, while one of his best buds, Lyla Park, steps out behind him. 

            Unseen by either of them, Daniel watches and tiptoes atop the bus. Suddenly, it starts to drive away and Daniel waits for the bus to reach a tree on the street so he can jump into it and hide amongst the leaves and branches. He does so with ease thanks to his powers.

            With a smile on his face, obscured by his crimson concealment, Daniel mutters to himself longingly, “Soon, Sean, we’ll be together again. And soon… is now!”

            Impatiently, Daniel hops down from the tree to the street below, breaking his fall with his powers. Without a second’s hesitation, he runs over to Sean and Lyla, causing them both to turn around just as he is a few feet away from them.

            Sean, shocked but elated, yells, “Daniel!”

            Lyla, confused and a little freaked out, yells, “DANIEL?!”

            He lunges at the two of them and gives them the biggest bear hug one could give to their older brother and friend. “Sean! It feels so good to hug you again, and not as a dream-me! And Lyla, oh my God, it’s been so long since I’ve last seen you! I can tell you guys more on the way home!”

            “Okay! Uh, I have a question: in the future, are me and Jenn boyfriend and girlfriend?”

            Lyla joking jumps in with a, “Ooh, someone’s got a crush!”

            Daniel explains, “Not her. I’m not sure what happens to Jenn, I didn’t bother to look. But you will meet someone special, and he’s super cool!”

            “‘He’? Okay. I’m sure he’ll be awesome either way.”

            Daniel nods and adds, “He will be.”

            The three walk across the street and make a left, moving onward to the Diaz house. But on the way there, they pass by the Foster house where big bully Brent Foster is sitting on the porch. Phone in his hand, he’s playing a game and he’s deep into it. Out of the corner of his eye, he spots the trio walking by and tells them, “Isn’t it too late for you guys to be out? Gotta hurry up before bed time!”

            Spitefully, with a subtle wave of his hand, Daniel causes Brett’s phone to start sparking and smoking. In shock, Brett throws it away and steps back. Daniel smirks at his work, not even making the effort to look at Brett to relish in his minute misdeed.

            The trio reaches the Diaz household’s porch and sit down just a few feet in front of the entrance door. Sean inquires to his future brother, “What else happens in the future?”

            Daniel gleefully responds, “Back in future Puerto Lobos, I fought evil as the Superwolf! It’s not a lot, since Puerto Lobos is pretty nice, but there are a few bad guys. I was able to take them all on. Like this drug dealer, Eric, or this girl dressed like a cow, La Maestra de La Leche!”

            Lyla, still very confused by this whole ordeal, just nods and listens on in astonishment.

            Daniel continues, “I also fought this cult named the Children of Nature’s Winds, they seemed obsessed with weird weather things, like tornadoes. They tried to make a sandstorm that would engulf all of Mexico before I sent them packing back!”

            “Wow, Daniel. That is incredible.”

            “You know it!”

            The front door opens and both Past-Daniel and Esteban step outside. Esteban tells them, “Come on in, guys! I made steaks!” Everyone walks inside and Future-Daniel, wrapped up in the moment, kicks a can of blue paint, alarming Esteban: “Careful, hijo!”

            Future-Daniel runs over to his dad and hugs him, mentally bringing back the young boy within him that he thought was lost: “Sorry, dad! … I miss saying that.”

            Esteban shrugs, returns the hug, and tells his future son, with a pat on the shoulder, “You’re home now. That’s all that matters.”


 

            A few blocks across the neighborhood, the Shark-Stinger stops in front of the Caulfield residence. It’s just a house, but sitting within are Max’s parents: Ryan and Vanessa. Outside, the Shark-Stinger’s side door opens and Joyce steps out with Kate’s help.

            “When do you think you’ll be finished?”

            “Ten minutes, maybe twenty.”

            “Stay safe and look out for each other.”

            “Don’t worry, Joyce. We’ll be fine.”

            Joyce walks up to the front door as the Shark-Stinger drives away. Inside the car, Victoria looks at Kate with a smile and asks, "Ready for Round Two with Daniel?"

            "He shouldn't be too big a problem. Not to us!"

            "Yeah!"

            The two high-five and share an optimistic chuckle with smiles, once more, all around.


 

            At the dinner table, in the kitchen, the gang eats steaks with a joyous aura manifesting around them. “It feels… Jeez, I’m turning into a broken record! It feels so good to be back home!”

             Ding dong , goes the doorbell outside. Esteban stands up to check on it, informing everyone: “I’ll go get the door. Hope it’s not Scott Foster.”

            He opens the door and sees Kate and Victoria standing in the doorway. Kate introduces them with a, “Hi, Mr. Diaz. My name is Kate Marsh and my girlfriend’s name is Victoria Chase.”

            With a stand-offish manner to his tone, Esteban asks her, “Are you here to take my kid?”

            Kate pauses, thinking of the best response: “We don’t want to take him, like not forcefully. We’re his friends.”

            Victoria, with the memory of Daniel force choking the two of them still fresh in her head, asks, “We are?” Kate looks at her sternly and Victoria shrugs before adding, “Okay, we’re his friends… And we know, if only a little bit, that he’s been through a lot. But things are intense and we may need his help if things go south.”

            “With?”, Esteban asks as he crosses his arms.

            “Evil supervillains, and evil shadow forces.”

            “He’s just a kid.”

            Kate jumps in, detecting some tension: “We know… And I don’t know if we should take him away from you guys.”

            Esteban shoots back, “I’ll have to disag- wait, what?”

            “What? Katie.”

            “Daniel’s just a kid. And in this weird world of clowns, assassins and time travel, we need to be a bit fairer with how we do things. How we let others do things.”

            Future-Daniel walks over to the front door and waves to Kate. Kate waves back and asks, “Mind if we come in and talk with him? And not in a shady way?”

            Esteban looks over to Future-Daniel and sighs with a smirk: “Okay. Come on in.”

            The two walk in and Kate says, “Hi, Daniel.”

            Both Future- and Past-Daniel tell her, respectively, “Hi, Kate/Lady!”

            “Are you guys going to take me back to the Bay?”

            “Max wants that, but no, not at all. You are going to take yourself to the places you want to go to.”

            Future-Daniel asks for clarification: “What?”

            “You’re here, with your lovely family and friends. What next after this?”

            “Well, I was thinking of Puerto Lobos, down in Mexico. Dad would always talk about it, and it sounded cool when I was younger. My brother and I went through hell trying to get there in the future and I would never do it twice.”

            “Maybe you can all go together.”

            “Really? Is this a trap?”

            Kate shakes her head hopefully, telling him, “Nope. No tricks or traps.”

            “... Is Max gonna be upset?”

            Kate shakes her hand in reassurance: “She’s got bigger fish to fry. Plus, she’s got the two of us and Chloe. She’ll be okay. And, looking at how you’ve been acting, I think you’ve been through enough. Time for you to live your life.”

            Future-Daniel stands in place before rushing over to Kate and giving her a hug. Victoria grins and Kate looks over to her, happy as well. Suddenly, her face turns to fear.

            Kate asks the two people behind Victoria, “Chloe?”

            Victoria asks Kate, “Chloe?” Victoria turns around to see Chloe and Dolly standing outside, both a little worried. She asks them, “What happened?”

            “It’s Max. Something’s up with her and we need to save her.”

            “My goodness, is she in trouble?”

            Dolly explains, “A little bit. She’s not hurt, but it’s more complicated than that.”

            Suddenly, a sizable white circle opens beneath Victoria’s feet. She mutters, “Uh, is this a trap?” Then, she falls in before the portal begins closing.

            “Don’t you leave me now, Vic!” Kate says as she hops into the portal.

            Chloe and Dolly look at each other in confusion. Dolly begins rubbing her temples as she senses, “Max… She’s in there! Let’s go!” The two hop in - Chloe first, then Dolly - just as the portal closes.

            Esteban, in awe at the portal opening up inside his house, sighs and facepalms: “Let’s just start packing for Puerto Lobos. Today’s been too weird”


 

            Max wakes up to a white oblivion, namely the white oblivion that is the Transect. She looks at herself and sees that she’s traded her casual clothes for more regal black and white costuming covering her body from the neck down. On her back are blue butterfly wings at rest. She gets up and sees by her feet a painting of Dolly at Fortress de Supero. The image fades as Max grabs it and stares at it. With the image gone, all that’s left is a blank canvass.

            The OmniMax’s robotic voice echoes into our Max’s head: “You’re awake. Good. Welcome to the Transect. Your new home.”

            “What did you do to me?”

            “You and I, we’ve accomplished my mission - get the gang back together, make them happy, and let me stay in control.”

            “In contro- NO! You’re not doing that again!”

            “I’m afraid it’s too late. But just know that I’ve needed this much longer than you. All the attempts prior to this - sacrificing Chloe, sacrificing the Bay, even sacrificing myself - and all the times I’ve been through hell will have finally paid off. As a reward for your sacrifice, you shall rule the Transect with nigh-infinite power.”

            “This isn’t right! I’ll get out of here!”

            “You will try. But you won’t be coming back. Farewell.”

            “No. I’m not giving up that easily.” It’s time. Time for Max to make a second escape from the OmniMax’s mental clutches!

Chapter Text

            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.

Chapter Text

            “Chloe, is everything okay?”, asks Joyce just as Victoria tiredly stumbles into a lounge chair by the window. Kate joins her side and holds her hand with a smile on her face. Max walks over to the water cooler just outside of the kitchen and grabs a cup. She fills it with cool water and sips it. Kate also grabs a cup, fills it with water, and hands it to Victoria, who downs it quickly.

            Vanessa adds in a friendly, “Chloe, how are y-”

            Chloe tells Joyce rather rapidly, “Yeah, mom. I’m fine. Just went on an adventure across dimensions with my friends here.” Chloe looks over to her friends and they all exchange smiles amongst one another. Even Dolly does, smiling with a black line on her mask representing a mouth. Chloe continues, “We’re gonna be having more on the way. Namely David and the space pirates.”

            Ryan pauses and asks, “Whu- Space pirates? Like Han Solo?”

            Victoria explains to him, “Long story, Mister Caulfield, and no. More like Heavy Metal .”

            “They’re weird space pirates, dad. Anyways, let me introduce you to my friends. Over on the couch are Vic and Katie, standing in the corner is Dolly and of course, you know Chloe.”

            “I do. Chloe, how’ve you be-” The doorbell rings and Chloe rushes over to get it. Standing outside is the Shark-Stinger, in his smaller robotic shark humanoid form.

            The Shark-Stinger asks, “Greetings, Chloe! Dolly brought this gathering to my attention using her psycho powers. Also, I brought some friends.” The Shark-Stinger steps out of the way, revealing the Diazes. Esteban’s still got his plate of steak.

            “Hey, I was told about a dinner and I made some already, so I decided to bring my steaks.”

            Future-Daniel rubs his stomach, adding, “They’re so good.”

            Chloe opens the door wider, adding: "C'mon in, dude!"

            “My name is Esteban Diaz, these are my three sons - Sean, Daniel and Daniel.”

            Shark-Stinger walks in with the Diazes. Esteban shakes Chloe’s hand, moves to Ryan and Vanessa and shakes their hand, and sets his steaks down in the kitchen.

            Ryan sighs and exclaims, “I guess it’s time I bust out the old barbecue in the backyard if we’re gonna have all your friends here.”

            “Yeah, that sounds good. A nice FAMILY barbecue.” Chloe claps at Ryan and urges him, “Get on it, Mr. Caulfield!”

            “Chloe, these are old family friends, be nice to them…” Joyce stands up, walks over to her alternate universe daughter and whispers, “That’s the spirit, girl. Give ‘em the works.” The two smile at each other and laugh. The pain of being abandoned at William’s funeral, while old and spread across two universes, is still very real with these two.

            Future-Daniel walks over to Victoria, who is groggy from the Transect champagne consumption, and asks Kate, “Is she okay?”

            “She’s fine. She just had a bad drink.”

            Victoria reawakens and quickly claims, “Nah, it was good. Wanna try some later, Katie?”

            “I’m no drinker. But it wouldn't be my first.”

            Victoria shakes her head and gives Kate a reassuring smile. She tells her, “Don’t you worry, Katie. This time, you’re with friends. And you’re with me. I’ll keep you safe no matter what.”

            “I appreciate the gesture. Plus, it is just champagne. I've had it before with my family. A cup every New Years Day.” Kate grabs the bottle and reads the label: Surging Champagne - Fresh from the Transect's Alcohol Brewery . "Is this, uh, safe to drink?"

            "Me and Chloe had some while you were hard at work. I'm sure it's safe."

            "Very well." Kate pours a bit into Victoria's cup and prepares to drink from it. That is until the doorbell rings. 

            Max heads over to open it. Upon opening the door, she sees the OmniMax standing outside, wearing her body like a new t-shirt. The two tell each other, "Hi, Max." They then giggle before she walks in with David, Starsight, Noctarious, and the many other Marauders.

            The OmniMax walks over to Kate and sees her with Victoria. She smiles at them and softly speaks, "Hi, Kate. I'm here again, like I said I would be." In this moment, she's no goddess of time. She's simply shy Max Caulfield again.

            The two hug and don't let go for a good ten seconds. "Hey, Max. We have a lot of catching up to do. My Max, I guess that's what I'm calling you, where can we all talk?"

            Our Max nods and states, "My room seems good right about now. Vic, Chloe, come along."

            Victoria raises her cup and proclaims, "Aye aye, captain."

            Chloe icily adds, "Sure. Let's roll."

            The five walk upstairs as Starsight admires the technology in the Caulfield house: "Toe-stair? Interesting use of heat to bake things."

            Vanessa corrects him, "Toast things, Mr. Starsight."

            From upstairs, our Max knows the drill: "Lord Starsight, mom."

            Noctarious instinctively barks, "Respect Lord Starsight's name!" Vanessa shivers at the sight of this kinda angry bugman but cools down after a second of acceptance.


 

            "I told you I'd be back here for you, Katie. I only wish we had more time together to talk. First off, let me say that I'm sorry for bringing any pain to you and your friends."

            "It's fine, OmniMax. I forgive you. You brought me closer to love than I've ever been in my life, and I thank you for that. Plus, we've got all the time in the world. Just tell us what you're doing here."

            The OmniMax rubs down her own face, amping herself up for a little story to tell: "Many years ago, I had to make a choice regarding a tornado that was barreling towards Arcadia Bay. Sacrifice Chloe to save the Bay, or sacrifice the Bay to save Chloe. I made my choice. And I regretted it forever. I remade my choice. And I regretted it forever. No matter where I went, things would never go good. So I chose a third choice. Forming a world from scratch where everyone could feasibly live to see their happy endings. I chose this world as my basis, due to the high amount of life teeming from this Arcadia Bay compared to the destroyed one. With things going well and at least a few other matters dealt with, I left to the other timeline to get Chloe to definite safety before pulling her over to this one in time. Away from the Bay to a small motel down south on the outskirts of Oregon. After that, I got captured by a cult obsessed with the Tornado and had to fight off that universe's Agency and Sean Prescott, but both stories are for another time. It all paid off though as it was ultimately getting Chloe into this timeline for a second chance. Travelling across these timelines helped me achieve enlightenment and I was granted enhanced powers to guard the Transect. Perhaps as a show of good will from the heavens above for my saving of everybody.”

            Victoria scoffs at this whole explanation, adding, "I need a drink." She pulls out the bottle of Surging Champagne from her blazer and pours some into her mug. Kate, seeing her girlfriend pretty out of it from the substance, grabs both bottle and mug and takes them away from her. “Katie?”

            “Sorry, but you’ve had enough. This is for your own good.”

            “Okay, I-I get it. I’m sorry, Katie.” Victoria gives Kate two thumbs up and Kate smiles at her. “You should try it. It’s fucking good, not gonna lie.”

            “Fine. Just a sip. To you, Vic.” Kate takes a sip from Victoria’s mug and puts both bottle and mug down on the ground. She sets them aside before moving over to Victoria, sitting with her and holding her hand to ground her.

            The OmniMax grabs the idle bottle and reads the label to herself. "Ah, Surging Champagne. Excellent choice, just what I was expecting."

            Chloe asks, "What's that supposed to mean?"

            "It has special properties that’ll give you a huge advantage against whatever the storm throws at you next.”

            “What are you talking about? Properties and advantages? And the storm- that shit is still coming?”

            “The storm… it kinda has a mind of its own in a weird way. Sure, that damn tornado likely isn’t returning any time soon, but there are other threats coming. Threats that the universe is sending in its stead. They came from tears in the timeline that my jumping around caused. They looked a bit like shooting stars sometimes, but there are many more planet-based wormholes. Sometimes the threats originate from this timeline, and sometimes the threats aren’t threats but friends in waiting. It will be up to you all to make sense of the madness.”

            Victoria and Kate look at each other and remember their experience with one of the tears in time. The one they wished on back in November at the Two Whales Diner. They both shrug as their eyes begin drooping. Victoria leans her head on Kate, almost immediately snoring as well. Kate smiles at her, liking this a lot. A little tired as well, she tries her hand at sleep, resting her cheek on Victoria’s blonde head of short hair.

            Chloe begins to respond jovially, “Hah. Sleepyheads. Soooo sleepy.” before falling asleep as well, facefirst onto Max’s bed.

            The two Maxes stand around and sigh. "Sweet dreams, guys." Our Max grabs Chloe’s portal watch and attaches it to her own wrist. She adds, “Time to doodle.”

            “Doodle? What, so I can leave? Seeing as Chloe hates me, I’d say that’s… a good ide-”

            “Ugh, so angsty. No, we’re going to a timeline you can save yourself.”

            “Huh?”

            “You told me of a timeline where you sacrificed yourself to save the Bay.”

            “Yeah, and? I can’t just go back, I’m dead! Pretty sure they’ve buried me and moved on! This is Life is Strange , not The Walking Dead .”

            "I don't even know what that means, but I do know that you have a new body. And you have a drive to fix things. Honestly, I'm surprised this wasn't your plan from the start."

            "You sure you don't want it back?"

            Our Max shrugs and tells her with a smile, "I like these clothes of yours. Really comfy."

            "Fair point… agh, but Kate's not available. We need help with the doodle. We’re not amazing masters of the pen. Not even I. And I’m good ." The OmniMax cups her chin and thinks before snapping her fingers as an idea emerges in her eyes. "Wait, Future-Danny brought someone along who can help.”


 

            The skies are dark and gray. The clouds are blood red and lit aflame. Rain pours heavily on the nature stricken hellscape of Arcadia Bay. Thunder crackles and lightning strikes the Earth around Victoria as she wakes up in a crater. Her head feels like it's spinning, like something just hit her. Something must've as her temple is bleeding. A lot. She sits up and rubs her head with her right hand. On her middle finger is a ring. Etched across it: "First Corinthians 13:4". She feels the ring, and it feels real. It reminds her, “Katie… Wait, Katie!” She gets to her feet and notices her outfit - brown sweater, dark blue shirt, gray slacks and orange flats. It's all dirty with ash and dirt.

            "Find them, dammit!", growls an old man from afar. It surely isn't Sean Prescott. Rather, it's another equally evil old man of unknown appearance. Footsteps follow and Victoria jogs away from them. "The storm is here and we can't have anyone get in our way!"

            Victoria runs over to a pile of debris. While hiding behind it, she hears groaning. She turns to see the source and it's Kate, dazed and dirty, dressed in a white cape, white tee, white pants and white boots. Her hair is done up in two pigtails at the top of her head, looking more like bunny ears than anything else. "Katie!"

            Victoria helps her up, noticing that the two of them share the same type of ring with the same type of writing on it. "Vic? Oh, where are we?"

            "Looks like Arcadia Bay… oh God, that tornado! It's still coming?!" Victoria rubs her bleeding forehead and a splotch of blood covers her palm. "God, my head."

            "You're bleeding, Vic." Kate rubs Vic's forehead, dirtying her hands in blood.

            Victoria smiles, her face a bit clearer from blood than before. "Uh huh. Oww… I think I'll be fine. Where's everybody else?"

            "They're a little held up elsewhere." Dolly floats down to their level and smirks at them. "Your minds tell me you're both from the past. I suppose this is that dream you have when you first start out with your powers."

            "This is your doing, Dolly?"

            "Mmm, no. I'm something of a harbinger of the storm. Soz, girls. Can't escape what the future has in store for us."

            "Thanks for letting us know. Now, we're gonna kick your ass in the past when we wake up."

            Dolly scoffs, "Good luck with that. Even with your newfangled powers, it wouldn’t be easy. I’m kinda, y’know, a god. And I’m not just talking about my killer looks. Besides, I'm only here because fate brought me here. It's weird, strange even, but you'll get used to it."

            Kate puts her arms to her side and sighs, "Hmph."

            "And hey, you can still change things about this! The future isn't set wholly… 'cept for that ultra storm. That comes one way or another. You can thank the boss for that when he shows his ugly skull face."

            "Okay. Thanks for the info, I guess."

            "No probs. Now, eh, get going. Tangi and his boy, Mark, are looking for you. And for the record, we didn't see each other."

            "Uh, okay." The two begin walking out of the wreckage as Dolly flies away.

            Dolly speaks to the old man, "No sign of them, Mr. Iris."

            The old man, Mr. Iris, responds, "Don't worry, Dolly. Jefferson and the Clown will find them soon enough."

            Kate's eyes widen in horror: "J-Jefferson?" Victoria caresses her head and shoulders to soothe her.

            Suddenly, he speaks out of their view: "The one and only."

            Victoria turns around and sees Mr. Jefferson standing there. She puts herself in front of Kate and calls the ex-photography professor, "Son of a bitch."

            He's wearing a camera on his head like a helmet - seeing through the oversized lens - and a black cloak covering his body. Under it, he's wearing one of his classic black designer jackets and jeans. In addition, he's wielding a tripod on his left arm like a bracelet. He chuckles and adds, "Ah, the profound tongue of a Blackhell Alumnus. How I HATE it."

            A rainbow beaded jump rope spins at Victoria with stupendous speed like a bola. Her mind becomes filled with warnings from her future about this sneak attack. Without even looking at it, she raises her wrist to catch it and it harmless wraps around it. She looks at it and sees Tangi the Happy Clown jumping at her from its direction. He screeches, "Don't talk about my best bud that way, Tinker Bell!"

            Vic, almost without a second thought, grabs the jump rope, untangles it, and uses it as a lasso, tying it around Tangi's neck in midair and pulling him down to the ground. He slams face first into the dirt and lays there, unconscious. Victoria laughs to herself in astonishment.

            Jefferson charges at her with his camera stand-hand. Victoria grabs it, pulls him closer and throws him to the ground. "And to think you wanted a piece of me, Victoria." He procures a pistol in his right hand and aims it at Victoria's face, causing her to freeze up.

            Victoria feels three words manifest in her mouth before she can even say them. Seeing as they’re the best thing to say to him, she spits, "Go to Hell!"

            Coldly, Jefferson fires back, "You first, Vic. I mean, the storm's gonna take us all there anyways, so consider me the ticketer!"

            No future reflexes are coming to save Victoria. That's already been chosen to be Katie's job.

            Jefferson puts his finger on the trigger but a slash of light cuts through the barrel of his gun like a hot knife through butter. The wielder of the blade: none other than Kate Marsh. The blade: a sharp cone of light emanating from her left hand. Her pigtails are spiking up, aiding the look Kate has going on of an angelic white rabbit.

            Victoria's jaw drops before turning into a smile. She kicks Jefferson in the nuts, causing him to stumble back to his pal's side.

            Jefferson throws away the ruined gun and rushes over to Tangi, helping him to his feet.

            Victoria lets out an eased laugh at Kate's excellency and gets to her feet. Needing a weapon, she grabs a brick and nods to her future wife. "Katie. I fuckin' love you."

            "I freakin' love you too, Vic." The two exchange a quick kiss before setting their sights back on the supervillains.

            Tangi looks to Jefferson and mockingly makes a kissy face at him. He puts his gauntlet up to the Clown's face, keeping him away: "You so much as peck me and I'll bash your brains in."

            Kate and Victoria smirk before charging at their enemies together.


 

            Chloe sits up from the hood of her father's truck as she looks at Arcadia Bay at night. It's peaceful.

            She realizes what that little paragraph just said and looks at the truck. Yep, it's her dad's. Yep, it's another one of these dreams.

            "Dad?" She looks around and doesn't see him.

            "Coming, Chloe! Sorry, just had to grab some grub for us to feast upon while I give you the rundown." William rushes over to Chloe's side with two big bags of fast food and he sits down with her.

            "Oh. Okay." She grabs a bag of food for herself and opens it, spotting fries, a cheeseburger, chicken nuggets and a soda. Whilst eating some fries, she asks, “How’ve you been, pops? Long time, no dream.”

            While eating french fries, William claims, “I’ve been swell. Well, as swell as I can be as a ghost in your dreams. How about you?”

            “Things are looking up nowadays. I’ve got Max back. Well, a new Max. Mine is… still gone. But this new one, it’s just like she never left.”

            “Here’s to you two. What else is new?”

            “Well, I’m supposed to be getting superpowers soon. Some champagne I drank with Victoria Chase is gonna give me the super skills needed to fight crime or something. I don’t know how to feel about it.”

            “You’re already a superhero, just look at how you and Max destroyed Sean Prescott a few weeks ago.”

            “Yeah, but superpowers? That’s Max’s department.”

            “Things change, kid. Best to just roll with the punches and make it work.”

            “I suppose you’re right.”

            “Speaking of; Victoria Chase? You two have buried the hatchet?”

            “This new Max seems to like her enough. That and, for all her attitude, she’s got a girlfriend now. Kate Marsh, nicest girl around. Even more so than Max oddly. Seems like an odd couple.”

            “The drama queen and the quiet girl? Now, where have I heard that one before?”

            “I know, I know. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just… interesting to consider.”

            “Life is weird like that. But it’s a good weird. Just like your tattoo buddy there.”

            “Tattoo buddy? What’s that supposed t-” Chloe’s right arm, usually adorned in a tattoo of a yellow skull with red ribbons, green vines and blue butterflies wrapped around it, is blank.

            The tattoo is instead standing in front of the car. He turns to face his master: “Chloe Elizabeth Price, you have given me life anew! A life of breath and movement! Years too long have been spent resting for the moment when I will be free, and the ensuing moments where I will be your protector!”

            “... What?”

            “Chloe Elizabeth Price, you have given me life an-”

            “No, I heard you the first time, it’s just… what ARE you?”

            "My name is Bedlam. I am, like the laws of the world, chaotic and contained. All in the service of you and your allies, Chloe."

            "Sweet. How, uh, did you come about?"

            "The souls of Arcadia Bay wish to be saved. I am here, birthed from ink made on the native lands of Arcadia Bay, to protect them. That storm is coming for the Bay and us: You, me, Maxine, Victoria, Kathryn, Joyce, David, and all the others. I am here to protect them from the eminent threats of clowns, dolls, supervillains, the works."

            "That sounds fun. Alright, Betty, welcome to the team."

            William chuckles and adds, "Now that's a first for me. I thought giant crows were weird, but this is just strange." A bell tolls off in the distance just as William eats another chicken nugget, - not from his bag, he's all out, it's from Chloe's bag. He gets up. "Time to get going, Chloe. Love you tons."

            "Love you too, Dad."

            "Oh, and wish Joyce and David good luck on Clarence! He'll be a tough tyke, but if that ain't how it is with all kids."

            "Will do!"

            A fourteen wheeler comes flying for William from the skies and Chloe braces for the worst. It… misses, instead swerving and landing far away in a fiery explosion. William shrugs. "Hah. I love sweet dreams."


 

            Sitting on a beanbag chair with his notepad in one hand and his phone on his lap, Sean Diaz sketches what he sees with precision. The focus of the piece is the Arcadia Bay Cemetery.

            "You're pretty good at this, Sean. I'm digging the details and all that. When you grow up, look into a career for this."

            Sean shrugs: "I mostly just sketch fun shit that Daniel wants. But when I can, at sunset, I head out to the park and just draw the houses, the skies, everything. It's all beautiful."

            Our Max nods and joyfully adds, "You've got that right."

            The OmniMax looks over to the sleeping superheroines-to-be and smiles at them. "Max. Promise to watch over them for me."

            "That was always the plan. And besides, you're not the first Max to tell me that."

            "I also wanted to say sorry for, uh, this whole mess."

            "It brought everybody together. Can't argue with that. Just… reconsider hopping into other Maxes' minds and taking over for them. It's not really cool."

            "I understand."

            "Okay, the drawing's done. Just finished coloring it in."

            "Good. I'll be back in a few minutes."

            The OmniMax waves to Sean, telling him, "Farewell, Sean. And good luck out there in the world. It is a bit scary, but with your knowledge of the future, I am sure you and your family will live a long life together."

            "Aw man, is my future that bad?"

            The OmniMax sadly nods. "Don't worry about what can be in a future different from the one we are living in. Worry about what you will be with what you have and who you have."

            "That's deep. I gotcha. Thanks for the heads up."

            Sean steps out of the room and our Max aims the time watch at Sean's drawing. Ghost Max appears and focuses her energy on opening a portal. A portal opens and the two jump in.


 

            The skies are gray and blue as night descends upon Arcadia Bay. The sun sets on the Pacific and a distraught Chloe Price is sitting by a gravestone. On it reads:

Maxine Caulfield

A Hardworking Student

A Skilled Artist

A Beloved Daughter and Friend

1995 - 2013

            In Chloe's hand is a bottle of Jack Daniels, half empty.

            From afar, the two Maxes watch. Our Max pats her OmniOther on the back and encourages her with a simple, "You can do it, OmniMe."

            The OmniMax scratches the top of her scalp nervously: "I, uh, have to tell you one more thing. I want you to be the next OmniMax."

            "Oh, brother… or sister. Are all of us, like, sisters or something?"

            "You don't have to rule from the Transect, and no, we're all just counterparts. It's weird. As I was saying, you don't have to rule from the Transect, it's just a precautionary vacation spot of sorts for me. You can rule from your timeline. The threats that are coming for you and your friends, you must take the power. It is the only way to protect everybody from the menaces of the multiverse. Long story short, use the power of the OmniMax to save your universe. Gaining it fully will be painful and feel like an eternity, but you will survive and come out the other side stronger because of it."

            Our Max strokes her chin before throwing her arms in the air and saying, "Oh, what the hell, someone's gotta take the job."

            "Yeah, and I don't want it to be the Nazi Max or the Dark Room Max. Or that whiny nightmare Max."

            Our Max raises an eyebrow before lowering it and accordingly blurting, "Alternate timelines are so weird." Our Max puts her hand on the OmniMax's shoulder, assuring her, "I'll do my best. Take care and good luck."

            "Thank you. I'll do my best too."

            The two shake hands and the OmniMax walks over to the crying Chloe. Our Max begins to fade away and she notices this, grasping at her own body. Before she can call out to the OmniMax, she is gone.

            "Ch-Chloe?"

            "M-Max?"

            "Oh my god, Max! Oh my god! Oh… Max…"

            "I'm here. It's okay."

            "But Nathan shot you!"

            "That was another me. It's been a long time, but let's talk."

            Chloe sighs, wipes the tears from her face and adds, "Tell me everything and anything. I'm all ears."


 

            Five minutes have passed in the Caulfield home. No sign of Max.

            Out there in the backyard, the Merry Marauders are dancing their usual jigs, again with Future-Daniel as a rematch for the earlier dance-off.

            At the grill, Ryan and Esteban are making burgers and talking about the happy prospects of having superhero kids.

            Dolly is sitting in a tree, listening to the thoughts of the world at large, plotting her next grand attack on the Agency. Sure, it may get her killed but it'll be fun while it lasts.

            Inside Max's bedroom, a blue butterfly descends upon the windowsill. It flies onto the floor and from there, it grows. Its dark skin gradually loosens into a silk robe with white splotches growing and shifting endlessly. The glowing blue wings rest, occasionally fluttering. From within the robes, a head of black hair emerges and a pale face beneath it with black paint highlighting the blue eyes and freckled cheeks of Max Caulfield. She has ascended into becoming the new OmniMax. She looks upon her friends and smiles at them.

            She walks over to a mirror and looks at herself, seeing her freckled face shine through a pale white and black makeup mask. Max smiles and snaps her fingers, changing herself back to her old fair skin, casually dressed form. Her blue butterfly wings subside and blend into her back as a tattoo. Suddenly, Dolly flies into the room through the window.

            "Just to set the record, you being the OmniMax now leaves no quarrel between us."

            "I figured. Where are you headed now?"

            "I plan on taking down Sean Prescott and his Agency. And also, uh, y'know…"

            "Bringing about the armageddon?"

            "I'd say 'nothing personal' but I'm not that tacky. Guess it's down to being enemies." Dolly laughs and puts her hand on Max's shoulder to convey some brevity.

            "We don't have to be enemies."

            "Oh, how I wish that were true. And like I told- er, will tell - Vic and Kate, it's possible. If you're hosting a go-kart competition, I'm game. But I can't be a supervillain and best buds with all of you. But, just know, when we meet again in combat, and we will, let's have some fun with it. 'Kay?"

            "You bet."

            The two shake hands and Dolly whispers to Max, "See you at the storm."

            Max smirks and tells her, "Likewise."

            Dolly slides backwards to the window, only to stumble as she reaches the windowsill. She catches herself and climbs out, waving goodbye as she flies away into the Seattle sky.

Chapter Text

            Victoria's eyes slowly open as the sun rises on Seattle. But there's another bright light in the form of Kate 's hair. It's floating and glowing, even in sleep. Curiously, she runs her fingers through it and smiles at its soft, fluffy feel.

            Kate's eyes open as well and the two exchange a loving gaze.

            "Good morning, Katie. You're glowing!"

            "Good morning, Vic. Thank you for the compliment." She looks up at her own floating hair and nods in stunned approval. With a smile, she adds, "I guess we're superheroes now."

            Victoria shrugs, "Let's just be Katie and Vic for now. All this superhero stuff's got me actioned out. Plus, I'm pretty sure Alice misses you. And it's a Sunday, so you've got church or whatever."

            Kate looks around the room and spots a digital clock by the head of Max’s bed. Chloe’s still asleep. The time is 9:13 AM. "Holy shoot. You're right. I guess we'll need a lift." The two look at Max as she's sitting in the bean bag chair eating cookies, and the two are visibly confused.

            Victoria asks, "Max… Uh, what’s with the Sandman look?”

            “Nish referench. I’m the new OmniMaxsh.”

            “... Okay. When are you headed back to Arcadia Bay?"

            "When I'm done with thesh cookies m’Mom made. Shoul’be shoon."

            A scheming smirk appears on Victoria's face. Being the cookie monster she is, she says, "I'd be willing to help you with that."


 

            With a paper plate of cookies on her lap, Victoria asks Kate from her window side seat, "Care for some cookies, love?"

            "Sure, Vic. I'll have some." Victoria hands Kate some cookies.

            Up in the pilot's seat of the Glitzed Glider, Starsight commands the ship with assistance from Chloe's phone's GPS system. "Thirty minutes to Arcadia, lads and lasses."

            "So, to get you all home, what should we draw for the portal? Any ports or-"

            Starsight clears his throat. "Me, uh, and the lads have come to a decision. We want to stay and explore the stars. Maybe, one day, we'll return to this blue ball of stuff and ask of you to take us back. 'Til then, me heartie, we shall explore!"

            Max shrugs and tells him, "Sure. You can all do that."

            "Excellent! Then, once we drop the lot of ye off at the Arcadia Bay, we shall head back to our dark flagship and set sail!"

            Max lightly punches Starsight's shoulder. telling him, "That's a pirate's fightin' spirit right there! Arr!"

            Starsight shoots back, "Arr!"

            Chloe hops in with another, "Arr!"

            Noctarious makes a hook shape with one of his hands, adding, "Arr!"

            Victoria snickers at the pirates while Kate rests her head on her chest. Victoria caresses Kate's head and looks down at Seattle from far above in the skies. From up here, seeing the Chase Space, her parents' photography gallery, is nigh impossible but its presence is known to her - it stands just a few blocks South from the Space Needle. Victoria thinks to herself, "Eh, there's always a next time."

            Max and Chloe walk away from Starsight and takes a seat near Joyce and David. The bluenette asks, "So, what's up with you?"

            "I think I've ascended. Weird way to put it, but I feel that's the best way to describe it."

            "Did it hurt?"

            "Like hell. I traveled for what felt like a thousand years. I saw different worlds. I saw space pirates, evil cults, ancient conspiracies, alternate timelines, odd dates with some of our friends. But I saw happy things too. Sleepover parties, prom nights, vacations, the two of us growing old together. It was beautiful."

            "So what now?"

            "We prepare for the second storm."

            Chloe's eyes widen and her breathing quickens. She mutters, "Aw, shit."

            To cool her down, Max holds Chloe's hand. "Oh, I'm sorry, Chloe. I know what you're thinking. But no. It won't go down like last time. There will be people behind the storm. Dark forces, like the old OmniMe mentioned, and you know what they say… 'if it bleeds, we can kill it'. And we'll kill it together. All of us and more."

            "I trust you, Max."

            "As do I, Chloe."

            The two hug and Chloe asks, "You know, we may not be each other's original Max and Chloe, but I feel we should-"

            Max releases Chloe from the hug and locks their lips together in a kiss. In a haze, Chloe continues, "... should d-do that. Damn. That's hardcore."

            Joyce looks over her shoulder to the reunited lovers and smiles at them. "Good on you two."

            "Your old me gave me some tips." Our Max's eyes wander next to Chloe and sees the dead Max giving them two thumbs up. Max swiftly returns her gaze upon Chloe, grins and adds, "Oh. One more thing about this second storm. No more sacrifices."

            Chloe nods and salutes to Max, "I'm hearing you loud and clear."


 

ARCADIA BAY

 

            Peace again takes over the street as blue skies shine upon Arcadia Bay. The birds chirp, the squirrels march along the trees and the Glitzed Glider descends slowly and quietly upon the rooftop of Kate's building. A porthole opens underneath the small ship and Kate slides down to the roof from a rope. Victoria also slides down and reaches the floor with Kate's support. After them, Max levitates gently to the ground, carrying the Price family on a giant clock, crafted from light created by Kate. It's a bit crude and shaky but impressive for Kate's first try.

            Max looks up at the ship and tells the crew, "Okay, Starsight, thank you for the lift! I owe you one!"

            Starsight looks through the porthole and speaks, "Arr! We shall meet again, loverbirds!"

            The ship flies off into the nearby forests. Victoria nods, "What a cool guy."

            Max tells her, "He is. Here's hoping him and the Marauders see some cool stuff up in space… oh, who am I kidding, of course there is."

            Kate opens the door to the stairwell and the whole crew heads down.

            From the stairwell, Joyce and David head right down to the lobby. Max and Chloe stick behind, arms around each other's shoulders, to talk with Kate and Victoria as they have reached their first destination - Kate's floor.

            Chloe asks, "So, pals, what's next?"

            "Me and Katie are gonna go to church after feeding Alice. Her family will be there and I hope to meet them. I'll definitely do my best to leave a good impression."

            "I don't know how well that will go, but I trust you to do the right thing."

            "She's done a lot of right by me for the past five months, Chloe. I'll have her back no matter what."

            With a smile, Max tells them, "Very well. Take care of each other. We'll see you guys around! Maybe a tea double date?"

            Kate jumps up and adds, "That sounds wonderful!"

            Max hugs Kate and Victoria. Chloe also joins in on the hug and within a second, everyone is hugging one another in one big bear hug. The hug is broken up naturally as Max and Chloe begin to head back into the stairwell. "As you'd say, Vic, 'au revoir'."

            "Au revoir to you too." Max and Chloe step back into the stairwell and close the door behind them.

            Kate unlocks the door to her apartment and breathes in that fresh Arcadia Bay air. "Alice, we're home! Only for a little bit though, sorry." Alice, in her cage, looks over to the two and her nose twitches at them happily. "Alright, girl, time to eat." Kate walks over with a bag of rabbit food and pours it into a bowl in the cage. She also plops a juicy carrot on top.

            Alice's left ear twitches and she lunges at the bowl, eating food like there's no tomorrow. Victoria laughs and gets down on her knees to pet Alice. She gently rubs the little bunny's scalp and Alice does not seem bothered by her presence. Victoria smiles at this.

            "Now that Alice is fed, time for church." The two promptly walk out of the apartment with Kate closing the door behind them.


 

            Looking up at the blue skies and birds off in the distance, the redhead leader of the homeless kids asks his purple haired pal, "Is it just me or is the sky here prettier than everywhere else?"

            "That may be so, Finn, but there's one place with a more beautiful sky. Clearer too."

            "Whu? Who are you? How’d you know my name?"

            "My name's Max. I'm a friend of a friend."

            "Lovely meetin' you and all that, but I'm still confused."

            "I'm a time traveller. You're a runaway. I understand why - you've told me in the future. I also understand that you want to visit Costa Rica."

            Finn shakes his head. "You're weird… but cool too. I'm down with that! Yeah, Costa Rica's my endgame. And I'd love to go with these guys. But money's tight n' all."

            "What if I can get you a ticket to a place like it, but better?" Max snaps her fingers and seven bus tickets to Puerto Lobos manifest in her hands. She hands them to Finn and tells him, "Puerto Lobos. Give it a shot."

            "Will do. Thanks, Max."

            "Don't thank me yet. You'll meet some great people. Three boys named Sean, Daniel and Daniel Diaz, plus their dad, Esteban. They'll be on the bus with you. One of them's a superhero. The Superwolf. He'll help keep you all safe from… well, evil."

            "Aight, I'll keep an eye out for them."

            "They will be too." And with that, Max and the Prices walk home. The homeless teenagers walk away with the tickets to the nearby interstate bus depot, down by the Overlook Avenue train station.

            A few feet away, Victoria walks Kate to her car, telling her, “I’ll drive you there, Katie."

            Unfortunately for the two of them, the car has been converted into an older… MUCH older model. How old, you may ask? The horsepower is literal . Her car is totally stuck in the Retro Zone, having been replaced with a one-horse shay.

            Victoria stares at it for a few seconds, with the horse braying adorably. She then shakily clutches her own hair as her face grows sad, shrieking, "M-my car! Why is it a horse cart now?!"

            Kate walks over to Victoria, looking at the one-horse shay in disbelief, before turning her attention to Victoria and gently rubbing her back. "Oh my lord. Vic, don’t you worry, we can still get there. I can call my parents to pick me up.”

            Victoria sighs before she realizes just what Kate said: “Wait, your parents?”

            “Yeah. They’re really fast.”

            “Uh, I don’t know if that’d be a good idea.”

            Kate shrugs and tells Victoria, “They’re not that old-timey in their beliefs. We'll be fine.”

            “Okay, but what about me in specific? I imagine my name is one uninvoked in the Marsh house, and certainly for good reason.”

            Kate pauses and walks over to Victoria, caressing her cheek. “Don’t worry, Vic. Like I told Chloe, I’ll have your back.”

            Victoria nods and puts a smile on her face to ease Kate’s worries. “Okay, fine. I trust you.”

            “Good, because they’ll be here in about two minutes.”

            Victoria’s eyes widen and she asks, amazed, “Two minutes? Jesus Christ! I mean, uh, gosh dang.”

            Kate lets out a laugh: “Don’t get all soft on me, you.”

            "You bring that out in me, Katie. I like that."

            A white minivan pulls up in front of the two girls and the side door opens thanks to the efforts of Kate’s younger sister, Lynn, sitting inside in the middle seat.

            The two walk over to the Marshes' car and get in the back, behind Lynn and Josie, Kate’s youngest sister. Kate’s mother, Sandra, joyfully says from the front passenger seat window, “Hi, Katie sweetie! Oh, you must be Valeria Chase!”

            Victoria smiles earnestly before informing Sandra: “It’s Victoria.”

            “Oh, my apologies. Let's get going, Richard, we don’t want to be late!”

            After a few seconds of starting up the engine, Kate’s father, Richard, turns on the radio while in the driver's seat. From the radio plays Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky":

 

            " When I diiiie and they lay me to reeeest,

Gonna go to the place that's the beeest,

When I lay me down to diiiie,

Goin’ up to the spirit in the skyyyy "

 

            Victoria bops her head to the beat of the song. Richard asks, “So what brings you along to this church ceremony, Vic? You mind if I call you Vic?”

            “Only my friends call me Vic, so I don't mind. I’m coming to church with her to support her. It’s been a busy, busy weekend.”

            Richard gives her a thumbs up, telling her, “Neato. I’m glad Katie’s making friends, always cool.”

            “I agree, Mr. Marsh.”

            Richard dismissively waves his hand in a friendly manner: “Please, call me Richard. How’d you two meet, Katie?”

            “Well, after Nathan Prescott and Mr. Jefferson were sent to jail, I gained a lot of friends. You’ve met some of them - Max, Warren, Dana, Juliet, Alyssa, Stella - but with Vic, our friendship really felt like something else, something more. We’d watch anime together after classes, go on little weekend shopping trips, it was always fun. We'd have sleepovers and stuff like that.”

            “Yes, we did all that together, and I loved every second of it. Then, there was the whole ‘Prescott Revolution’, we all got our degrees early when Blackwell went under, and Sean Prescott skipped town. Things were on the up for everyone.”

            Kate adds sadly, “Except for you, unfortunately.”

            “Here comes the elephant in the… car. My parents, they found out about me being a really bad person and the thing with Kate’s video at the Vortex Club party, and, they… disowned me for a few weeks, like two months. I’d say I deserved it. Probably still do, to be honest. But Kate didn’t see things that way. She helped me find work at the Helper Shelter, run by David and Joyce Price. I got a small apartment, nothing amazing, but it was a home given to me by Kate. Ever since, we've become good friends, having our sleepovers and our hangouts, and I look forward to our future together.”

            Kate looks at Victoria and tells her, "I feel the same way."

            Richard adjusts his mirror to keep Kate and Victoria in his sight, spotting just how happy the two of them are to be together. "I… I just met ya, Vic, and I've gotta say, even though you hurt my daughter in the past, I'm… proud of you for making things right."

            “This town has seen too much bad stuff happen, Dad, and quite frankly, bad stuff may be coming for it still. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s time for a little happiness.”

            “I’m just happy as ever to see my daughter happy with someone else.” Kate and Victoria smile at Richard. He looks back and smiles to them as well before turning his eyes back onto the road.

            While Richard keeps on driving, the world shakes and leaves fly off into the ocean. A dark starship zips out over the Bay and he can’t help but ask, "What is this?"

            Both Kate and Victoria know, and they both tell their truth about it together: "Looks like a shooting star."

            Victoria tells Kate, "Let's make a wish on it." The two look up at the starship and silently wish upon it once more. After a few seconds, the two sit back and rest upon one another. The warmth is felt between one another, and their hands connect tightly as the Marsh Mobile drives onward to the church.