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Title: Project Nexus
Chapter: Nexus (Part II)
Rating: T
Fandom: TGWTG/ Spoony Experiment
Character(s): Nostalgia Critic, Nostalgia Chick, MarzGurl, Spoony, Linkara, Doctor Tease, Doctor Block, Doctor Insano, Professor Celluloid, Malachite, Nurse, Cinema Snob
Pairing(s): none, as of right now
Warnings: AU. mild language, violence

Disclaimer:Any recognizable characters that appear in this fic are property of their respective contributors at ThatGuyWithTheGlasses , therefore I do not own them, nor do I intend any disrespect toward either the character or the contributor portraying them. Also any concepts/ideas borrowed from Power Rangers/Super Sentai are property of Saban and Toei, respectively. Any other properties mentioned/used are also property of their respective owners.


The walls of Malachite’s palace shook, stirring up ancient layers of dust, as Tegon and Devafen’s agonized shrieks reverberated through the darkened corridors.

As they had expected, the dark sorcerer was none too pleased with their recent failure. Soon, their screams died down, replaced with softer, more pained whimpers and the sizzling crackle of electricity.

“Lord Malachite,” Tegon replied, “Please forgive us. We had no idea that they would be able to counter the transmutation spell.”

“And,” Devafen added, chuckling weakly, “You know the old saying, ‘He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.’”

Malachite did not respond, but only continued to stare at the catwoman with a stony expression. Involuntarily, she shrank back, as she imagined the penetrating thousand-yard stare that lay concealed behind the dark pair of sunglasses that seemed permanently affixed to his face.

Sometimes, she wondered what kind of eyes lay behind that obsidian visor. Did they hold a certain kindness and humanity in them, some trace of his days before his immortality-born insanity?

Did a small part of him ever regret his course of action? Did a small part of him ever wonder if things might have ended differently between him and Aeon had the thorny vines of mistrust and jealousy not wrapped themselves around them all those centuries ago? Would the world have been a better place if magic and technology had been allowed to co-exist with one another? Did part of him ever hate himself for all the lives he’d ended and people he’d hurt in his quest for a twisted dream that had consumed him?

Did he ever feel like perhaps what he had become wasn’t the real him at all, like some dark twisted entity had hi-jacked his body, molding him into the loathsome creature hellbent on revenge that everyone feared?

            No, the catwoman shook her head; his hidden eyes were probably just as empty as the rest of his icy demeanor. Or at best, she reasoned, they burned with a manic, feverish light that could only come from centuries of immortality and insanity.

            If there was still some humanity in him, then he might not be as harsh toward them for their failure.        

            “You make excuses,” Malachite said, his rasping voice an even, unbroken monotone, “But, that doesn’t change the fact that you still let them get away.”

            A hollow clicking echoed through the room as Malachite’s staff tapped against the stone floor with each pacing footstep.  The two humanoids could feel the blood in their veins freeze as their eyes nervously followed him, waiting for the sorcerer to decide their punishment.

            However, that punishment did not come. For at that moment, a quiet pattering of footsteps echoed gently across the stone floor.

            “Mama?” A small voice called out uncertainly as the young catboy known as Cayatan stepped into the room.

            The corners of Malachite’s lips twitched with a vague sense of displeasure as he watched the catboy, seemingly oblivious to the events that were transpiring within the sorcerer’s throne room, run across the room to hug his mother.

            “Fortunately for you,” Malachite sighed reluctantly, as he turned his back to them, “I still find you and Tegon useful to me. Otherwise, I might have obliterated you after your first failure.”

            Tegon and Devafen exchanged glances of pure confusion as the sorcerer settled onto his throne. Neither one of them could deny that Malachite suddenly deciding to let them off easy was not more than a little unusual. Was there something about Cayatan’s appearance that’d caused him to change his mind?

Perhaps, they reasoned, Malachite didn’t want to kill them while there were children present, or something. However, neither one of them felt up to questioning the motives of their leader, especially if said motives allowed them to live, so they chose to not say anything.

“My Lord,” Tegon asked, “Assuming that they’ll inevitably try again in the near future, shouldn’t we prepare a new strategy?”

“Using the transmutation spell to unwittingly turn the captives against their rescuers was a good move, Tegon,” Malachite smirked, “Perhaps, though; we might be able to change things a little more?”

            The last words hung in the air with a certain punctuated emphasis that suggested to even the most causal listener that a secretive hint or in-joke had just been uttered. What that hint was, only Malachite, Devafen and Tegon seemed to understand as the three shared a sly grin with one another.

Next time, they thought, The Rangers were in for some big trouble.


---------------------

 A jubilant mood permeated through the cool night air as the reviewers and mad scientists gathered in the city to celebrate the success of their first mission. The spicy smell of cooking food and idle ambience seemed all the more welcoming to them, knowing how close they had come to not surviving.

A thin smile came across Spoony’s lips as he listened to an overly animated (and possibly slightly buzzed) Nostalgia Critic recount their encounter with Malachite’s forces to a very interested Professor Celluloid, while Chick constantly attempted to provide a less skewed version of the story. 

At another table, Linkara and Insano were locked in a deadly battle of wits and strength for the fate of mankind (which looked suspiciously like an inexplicable arm-wrestling match), while MarzGurl and SOI cheered them on. Doctor Tease sat between the two duelists, presiding over the match as referee.

I guess that leaves me as the odd man out, the gamer thought as he downed the remains of his soda, slamming the glass on the table with a soft clink of glass on metal.

Once more, he felt the heavy weight of homesickness and loneliness push back into his mind. And once more, he scowled, staring down at the quickly melting cubes of ice floating in a shallow pool of left over soda, as he fought to drive this unwanted feeling away.

Everything seemed to mock him, he thought as the little gremlin tried to make a nest in his already heavy heart. The cheerful glow of the city-lights? The warm ambience of idle chatter? It all reminded him very much of home. And yet, everything was distinctly alien and unfamiliar to him, reminding him that this was not his Earth.

 This unfamiliarity, he knew, would never fade, even if he were to spend years walking every square inch of this dimension, memorizing it down to the very tiniest cracks on the floors. 

This wasn’t home, everything seemed to remind him.

It would never feel like home.

            “I was informed by Doctor Insano that you were usually the life of a party,” A soft-spoken female voice spoke from beside him, causing the startled gamer to nearly fall out of his chair as Nurse materialized into the empty chair beside him,  “Perhaps I was misinformed?”

            Once he recovered however, a despondent frown darkened Spoony’s expression. However, before either could say anything further, another hologram, this one in the form of a waiter, appeared, refilling the empty glass of soda in the gamer’s hands.

            “…Don’t feel much like partying,” Spoony said, avoiding eye contact with the female hologram as he took a drink from the now refilled glass.

            Nurse, seemingly unphased by the cold, invisible barrier of aloofness, continued to attempt small-talk with the brooding, dark-haired gamer.

“I understand that you and Linkara visited the robotics lab shortly after being released from the infirmary,” she said, “How are repairs progressing?”

“Everything’s great,” Spoony replied, “We finished repairs to Burton and Pollo, and Linkara got Nimue’s voice operational again.”

“And yourself?” she asked, “I’m assuming that you’re recovering well?”

“I’m alright,” Spoony replied, “Still a little tired and sore, and that nanospray stuff you used to repair our cuts still kind of stings a little bit, though.”

“Nanospray kind of has that effect on human flesh,” Nurse said, the faintest traces of a smile appearing on her lips, “But, at least it lets you know that it’s working.”

 Another thin, weary semblance of a smile spread across Spoony’s lips as a small half-chuckle escaped from him. However, no sooner had it seemed as if the iron wall of tension was beginning to wear down, did another awkward silence repair it.

This silence, however, was short lived as Spoony sighed, briefly looking up from his glass. The awkward tension between them, however, did not vanish along with this silence.

“It sucks that you guys had to put Snob in stasis because of the residual effects of the spell-core.” Spoony said.

“Sorry about that,” Nurse apologized, “But we already explained to you why we had to it.”

It was too much of a security risk, Spoony sighed as he remembered Doctor Insano and the others explaining this to them before. Even though the cannon had managed to destroy the spell-core, fragments of its energy dug its claws into Snob’s spirit. 

Unfortunately, neither Nurse nor the mad scientists were able to come up with an effective way to safely remove these fragments without potentially hurting Snob. However, their efforts were not completely wasted, as that they had managed to find a way to make it less likely that he should completely lose control should something re-trigger a transformation.

But, just as one point of good news presented itself, another moment of bad news entered to quash their hopes. While the spell’s effects may have been somewhat neutralized, the connection that still existed between the spell and its caster.  Whether either Tegon or Malachite were fully aware of this was difficult for them to determine.

It wasn’t like Snob hadn’t had any say on this decision, Spoony tried to remind himself. In fact, Snob himself had agreed to be put into stasis, once the suggestion had been made.

“Listen,” he recalled Snob saying when they had tried to protest, “If this spell has half the influence over me as you’re saying it does, then couldn’t they be using me as some sort of spy or sleeper agent, or something, and I not even realize it? Isn’t it kind of dangerous for me to be walking around conscious like this, at least until you guys can figure out how to break connection?”

Of course, Spoony reasoned, he couldn’t argue with that. But still, he sighed as he tried to change the subject of his thoughts, it would have been a little nice to have someone else around the base; someone not tied to any Ranger business.

Someone normal (or as normal as one could be after having come back from being transformed into a monster) that they could just talk with, and maybe—for a minute—forget about their war against the sorcerer, and could pretend that they were home, without the reminder that things were different.

“…Still kind of wished we could have waited a bit before doing it, though.” Spoony mumbled disappointedly under his breath as a final comment on his dissent for the situation.

Nurse flashed him a quiet smile as she consolingly patted his shoulder.

For the first time since the beginning of the conversation, Spoony dared to make eye contact with the holographic humanoid. Like a terrified child in a thunderstorm, Spoony’s green eyes were wide, glimmering with an uncertain and frightened light.

“Nurse?” Spoony asked, now trying his hardest not to look away from her.

“Yes, Spoony?” Nurse asked; her voice calm and evenly measured.

“Do you,” he asked quietly, almost embarrassed to ask the question, “ever feel like you’re alone?”

“There are times,” Nurse replied, “When I detect no other presences in the vicinity of my current location, yes.”

“I meant; do you ever feel lonely? Do you ever feel afraid?”

If his eyes asked questions and sought comfort, then Nurse’s own, artificially projected eyes provided no answers or solace.  Only the faintest shadows of human-like emotions flickered in that soulless, hollow cobalt void, reminding them that she was but a machine, masquerading under the illusion of being human.

“I was programmed to display a pre-determined set of basic emotions, depending on any given situation,” she replied, “Fear and loneliness are not part of that programmed set.”

Of course they’re not, Spoony sighed as he once more found himself staring down dejectedly at the table. 

“Perhaps it would be better to ask another human?” Nurse suggested, “It’s more likely that being human, they would also be capable of experiencing loneliness.”

Wearily, the gamer ran a hand through his dark hair as he stood up, joining the others, who all now enthusiastically absorbed in the intense arm-wrestling duel between the comic book reviewer and his former arch-nemesis.

“I wish it were as simple as you make it sound,” he said wistfully, giving the hologram a weak half-smile over his shoulder. 

His words however, were drowned out by the thunderous eruption of cheering as the match between Insano and Linkara had finally chosen a victor.

The defeated comic reviewer face-planted on the table, staring up at the mad scientist with a dazed disbelief.

“H-how?” he moaned, in an over-the-top way that suggested he was more baffled than upset at his loss, “How’d you get so strong?!”

“Ha!” Insano grinned, “I have fists of iron!”

“Riki-tee!” SOI cheerfully chirped as he bounced in place.

“Oh right,” Insano added, translating for his son, “and SCIENCE!”

“Aw,” Chick sulked, “I was so betting on Linkara winning.”

“I told you guys you should have bet on Insano,” Critic said smugly, “I mean, you saw him fight me in Kickassia, didn’t you?”

“But wasn’t it really Spoony you were fighting the whole time,” MarzGurl asked, “He was like temporarily possessed by some version of Insano or something?”

Critic shrugged, not really wanting to bother with an attempt at figuring out any of Insano’s already muddled origins.

The least they could figure out was that their version of their mad-scientist mentor, the one that was Linksano’s brother and was usually one of Spoony’s housemates, was the dimension-hopping one from an alternate Earth.  Any other “versions” they all agreed to chalk up to alternate realities or some sorts of experiments with science that they simply didn’t want to even begin to comprehend.

Any hard feelings that might have arose between the two former arch-nemeses was quickly dispelled as the two shook hands, and relaxed friendly chatter once more fell over the crowded table.

Critic raised his glass in the air, as he called for a toast.  A warmth, having little to do with the alcohol he had consumed, welled up in the pit of his stomach as he looked out over the table to the group that surrounded him. 

While they all might not have the best history between them, nor were they always able to get along too well, at that moment, the Red Ranger couldn’t have thought of anyone else he’d rather have fighting beside him than them.

“I propose a toast,” Critic said, his voice just barely edging on the overly-hammy tone that he typically seemed to save for giving his usual rousing speeches “A toast to good friends and loyal allies. A toast to knowing that we’ve thrown ourselves into the fire once and survived. While the next battles may get more difficult, we know that we will always emerge triumphant, for together, my friends, we are strong enough to face any evil that may cross our paths.  A toast to ourselves, and to each other. A toast to Project Nexus.”

Everyone now followed suit with the reviewer and Red Ranger, hoisting their own glasses high into the air. Much like him, the others agreed that of all the people they could have had on their side at that moment, there were few others that they’d rather have than the Nostalgia Critic.

“To Project Nexus.”

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