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fic: Project Nexus (Chapter 3, Part 1)
zeshaika
Title: Project Nexus
Chapter: Trouble on The High Seas
Rating: T
Fandom: TGWTG/ Spoony Experiment
Character(s): Nostalgia Critic, Nostalgia Chick, MarzGurl, Spoony, Linkara, Doctor Tease , Doctor Insano, Professor Celluloid, Malachite, Welshy.
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.

Author's Notes: Special thanks to the wonderful EsaEnai, who (as of next chapter) will be joining in this as a co-writer, and hopefully helping me stay a little more focused on my update schedule. I also strongly recommend you check out her work, It’s Kind of a Funny Story (another TGWTG fic co-written between her and myself).

Chapter 3: Trouble on the High Seas


            Wherever he was, it wasn’t any version of Earth he’d ever known.

            That was the only thing Critic could think as his eyes took in the scene around him.  It looked like the world he’d known, but everything seemed oddly muted, as if someone had messed with the brightness/contrast setting on a TV.  It felt as if none of his senses outside of sight and sound existed here. And, even his sense of sound had been altered.  He could hear the sound of wind rustling through leaves and grass, and the steady beating of waves crashing against the shore, but it seemed as if all other sounds had been lost to him.

            That was to say, more specifically, he felt as if he could no longer hear his own heartbeat beating wildly like a drum in his chest. The waving of the grass below him suggested that there was some sort of wind stirring it, but he could not feel it against his skin.  In fact, he noticed with only a vague sense of surprise, he felt a sense of weightlessness about himself.

            Was this what being dead felt like? He wondered as he soundlessly stepped through the open field.  Was this non-existence? And if it wasn’t, what was it?  Was it a dream? Where was he?

            Like a moth to a flame, his senses seemed almost drawn to the forest that lay ahead. Shadows, thick and seemingly impenetrable, crawled in the spaces between the gnarled trees and their twisted, claw-like branches.

            Don’t go in there, every reasonable synapse in his brain screamed at him, Turn away and run. Nothing good could possibly be lurking in a place that looks that spooky.

         No, a small but powerful voice in him countered, you have to go in there.

            His feet felt like lead, fighting against the compelling voice’s spell, holding him in place just at the edge of the forest’s grasp. His heart, still unheard by his ears, beat frantically as the shadows started to shift as if something had suddenly been brought to life by some form of dark magic.

            He should have been terrified, he thought. This should have been the part where he shrieked himself hoarse as he flailed about in his mad attempt to high-tail it for the horizon. And yet, that small, familiar voice in his head urged him forward, assuring him that whatever this was, it was not going to harm him.

            Without warning, the shadows began to move faster, thrashing about in frenzy, like a giant, angry tentacled sea-beast from ancient legends. Voices, otherworldly but somehow vaguely familiar whispered his name in a chorus from somewhere in the ever shifting depths.

            Crying out loudest amongst the swirling chorus of noise, he heard two familiar voices; the voice of Ma-Ti and the voice of Malachite.

It was then that the sense of fear had also decided to return to him, shooting through his veins like an erupting geyser of icy-cold terror. All at once, his voice returned to him, allowing him unleash an unearthly, high-pitch shriek that would have shattered glass, had there been any around.  His limbs, however, had not yet gotten the message to flee, and remained rooted to the spot as the shapeless blob of shadows grew, threatening to engulf him in their grasp.

Something shimmered within the heart of this dark beast, drawing Critic’s eyes upon it. Upon closer inspection, the reviewer noticed that the light appeared to be some sort of magical seal. Three pinpoints of light, one a violet-red, another in blue-green, and a third in a yellow-orange shade, glimmered like distant stars, beckoning the Critic into the chaos.

As if compelled by some outside force, his hand slowly reached out toward the wavering mass. In response, one of the shadow’s massive tendrils’ whipped toward him with lightning-quick speed. A sudden coldness shot through his body like a thousand daggers as the shadow wrapped itself tightly around his wrists, pulling him deeper into the infinite void.

            He screamed, trying to struggle against the grip of the void. But his struggle was in vain, as the darkness grew heavy around him, filling his lungs and choking out all escaping sound.

And then, it was over.

With a startled gasp, he awoke, finding himself in an empty city street. Or at least he thought it was empty, until he heard the whistling of a knife being tossed through the air, forcing him to throw himself out of the way.

            Stars flashed in his vision as he crashed hard into something beside him, pulling it to the ground with him. A loud crack of thunder echoed from somewhere above him, followed shortly by a gurgling scream as the knife-thrower hit the ground with a thud.

            Now that he seemed to be out of immediate danger, the reviewer shakily tried to stand and regain a sense of composure. Had he somehow blacked out in the middle of battle, he wondered. How long had he been out?

            However, he had no time to think about this as a muffled yelp emitted from somewhere near him. Blinking, he looked down, only to find Spoony now lying on the ground, his face firmly planted into the concrete where Critic accidentally tackled him.

            “Hey!” the gamer shouted as he pulled himself back onto his feet again, “You mind watching what you’re doing? Some of us don’t really enjoy having our heads busted open on the concrete.”

            “Sorry,” Critic replied, trying to cover up his confusion with snarkiness, “I’m guessing you would have rather been stabbed in the face, then?”

            “It wasn’t anywhere near me!” Spoony shot back, “Of course, you would have known that if you hadn’t zoned out.”

            “And I wouldn’t have knocked you down,” Critic said heatedly, “If you hadn’t been in my way.”

            At this, Spoony’s eyes became wide and his tightly clenched fists shook slightly, fighting a losing battle to keep himself from slugging his fellow reviewer across the face.

            “What did you say?!” Spoony growled under his breath, glaring at Critic.

            If Critic had been any other type of person—such as ‘normal’ or ‘sane’—it would have been there that he would have taken this as a sign to take a few steps back.

 However, the reviewer seemed to be feeling particularly brazen at that moment that he seemed not to be paying attention to the fact that the gamer’s expression was starting to resemble that of a rabid dog.

            “I said, ‘You’re standing in my spot,’” Critic repeated, grinning slyly, “sir.”

            “Okay that’s it,” Spoony shouted, grabbing Critic by the collar of his shirt, “You and me; right here, right now! I will kick your sorry tie-wearing ass up and down this dimension so hard that you’ll—”

            “Hey!” Linkara called from a nearby ledge, “Hate to break up your obviously friendly and non-violent discourse, but we’re here for a reason, you know.”

            “Right,” Critic said, “We’ll meet up with Marz and Chick in the center of town, and prepare to clear out the rest of our enemies.”

            Grumbling under his breath, the gamer let go of Critic, giving him a very icy, dagger like glare behind his back as he followed Critic and Linkara down the street.  However, their journey was not long, for they soon heard a distant rumbling, like thunder, rapidly growing louder with each passing second.

            Within seconds, the source of the rumbling presented itself in the form of a large crowd of zombiefied humans, seeming to move at a pace that was, while astoundingly quick for the shambling ex-humans, still seemed kind of slow and lumbering. At the head of this crowd, Chick and MarzGurl ran at top speed, trying to avoid being trampled by the hoard.
            Chick, armed with a crossbow, fired a few bolts into the zombie crowd as she tried to cover MarzGurl’s back.

            “Heads up, guys!” MarzGurl called as she flew by the three confused male reviewers, “We’ve rounded up the last of the enemies, as ordered!”

            “Zombies?!” Critic asked bewildered as Chick rushed by him, grabbing him by his tie as she dragged him behind the shell of a burnt out car, “I don’t remember there being zombies! Why are there zombies?!”

            “Beats the hell out of me,” Chick said as she fired a few more crossbow bolts into a zombie’s head, “Marz accidentally pissed off the leader of this street-gang we were fighting, and then poof! They turned into rage zombies.”

            “‘….And then John was a zombie,’” Spoony snarked, quoting a line from an infamous fanfic he’d heard of.

            “And here I thought,” Chick remarked casually, “That Spoony’d be the one to piss off the undead.”

            “Seriously though; fucking zombies?” Critic asked over two sharp cracks of Linkara’s magic blasts, taking out another zombie “Really? You think we could have gone with something that’s not so played out by now?”

            “Ah come on Critic,” Spoony winked slyly as he rested what appeared to be a large battle hammer on his shoulder, “What are you worried about? That they won’t try to eat your brain, ‘cause you don’t have one?”

            Without waiting for a reply, Spoony charged into the group of zombies, smashing the battle-hammer into the rotting face of one of them, just as MarzGurl slashed at another two with a pair of hand axes.

Critic, not one to want to sit a battle out, took advantage of the combined chaos that Chick and Linkara’s weapons were making alongside Spoony and MarzGurl’s melee brawling, and rushed into the fray, screaming wildly as he hacked at a third zombie with a sword.

Within minutes, the shambling horde had been dispatched and lay scattered across the ground.  Slightly exhausted, the five Rangers regrouped to admire their handiwork.  For not having very much fighting experience, and even less experience with fighting with weapons, they were pretty proud that they had managed to make short work of the bumbling undead creatures.

However, this did not last very long as the fallen creatures began to twitch, crawling toward each other in a way that caused the five Rangers to ready their weapons. A grating moan, like nails on a chalkboard, echoed from the creatures as they slowly began shifting in appearance, morphing into a giant, amorphous blob. The critics couldn’t help but squirm uncomfortably as the giant mass began to take shape, this time forming into a 30-story tall version of the zombified creatures they’d fought only moments ago.

“Holy shi—”MarzGurl started to shout as she looked up at the towering, dead eyed figure, “That thing’s frickin’ huge! How are we supposed to fight that thing?!”

“Watch out, guys!” Linkara said as the creature lurched forward, “Here it comes!”
        
            The last of his words were no sooner out of his mouth before the creature brought down a massive foot into the space just inches away from them, causing the five to scatter like bugs in the presence of a light to avoid being hit.

            “Alright guys,” Critic called to the others as he picked himself up off the ground again, “I think it’s time to morph.”

            Nodding in agreement, the five started to reach for their morphers. But, no sooner had they started to even tap the first key in the morphing sequence, did reality around them suddenly dissolve, replacing the abandoned city street with the metal panel walls of the lab’s training room.

            “I think that we’ve got enough data from this session today,” Doctor Insano said as the door to the room slid open with a soft rush of air.  The reviewers, now allowed to let their guard down, collapsed on the ground in exhaustion.

            “So, what was with the zombies?” MarzGurl asked as she shakily tried to get back on her feet, “Kind of a weird twist for a run-of-the-mill street brawl isn’t it?”

            “Oh,” Insano grinned, drumming his fingers together as the group followed him out of the room “Did you like that? I programmed that as a little ‘easter egg’, so to speak. I figured that if we’re conducting battle simulations, might as well have a little fun with it, eh?”
        
            “And that ginormous zombie that tried to crush us with its toes?” Critic asked as they entered the command center, “Was that part of the ‘easter egg’ too?”

            “Seriously,” Chick added, “What was that? Unless these morphing gizmos have a function on here that can turn us into 100-foot tall titans, there’s no way we can fight something that big.”

            “Oh, don’t worry about that,” Insano giggled, “That’s part of another procedure. Once we get that project out of the development stage, defeating giants like that will be no problem at all. Oh, by the way; Linkara, ---Celluloid wanted you to meet him in the robotics lab. He wants to get Nimue connected to the communications mainframe.”

            With that, the mad scientist dismissed them, allowing them to go their separate ways. Critic started to leave, his mind now allowed to drift back to his previous thoughts, before he felt a hand on his shoulder, jolting him from his silent reverie.

            “Could I talk to you, Critic?” Insano asked, pulling the confused and startled man aside.

            “Okay,” Critic replied slowly, “Sure, go ahead….”

            The mad scientist did not reply immediately, instead choosing to fidget with his goggles, as if uncertain how to begin the conversation.

            “Well,” he said, after a pause, “We noticed a severe drop in your concentration levels during the training exercise. Actually, it was more than a just a drop—it was more like you were completely comatose, except for the fact you were still standing. Of course, it was only few seconds, so it could have been an error in our readings….”

            “Look,” Critic said, rolling his eyes, “I just dozed off for one second----“

            “---You’re worried about him, aren’t you? Your brother, that is.”

            Curiously, he quirked an eyebrow at the goggled mad scientist, wondering exactly how he had known about that. After all, he hadn’t exactly told anybody about anything that had happened after Insano had contacted them initially.

            “When we tracked you initially,” Insano explained, “We started picking up a second reading traveling with you that never made it to the portal. I assume this was your brother, right?”

            Critic nodded as he felt a weight, like icy lead, drop in the pit of his stomach, making him lower his eyes, staring almost focused at his feet. Insano’s words, though simple, felt like a slap by a cold hand across the reviewer’s face.  He didn’t need to be reminded that The Other Guy had gotten attacked by Synthspectors. He didn’t need to be reminded that he would have been there with him, had Critic fought to save him, instead of fleeing like a coward.

            “Yeah,” Critic replied, with a hint of bitterness in his voice, “Well, you’d be a wreck too if it was your brother that they’d kidnapped and done god knows what else to.”

            The shaggy haired mad-scientist’s fists shook slightly as he hid them in the cuffs of his labcoat. His lips moved silently as if he were a fish stranded on land gasping as its lungs filled with burning oxygen.

            “Er…”he cleared his throat after a long pause, “Listen, you’d better try to get some rest. Or try to have Nurse examine you or something.  You and the others have a mission coming up soon, you know. I was hoping to get an actual field test some of the things that the others and I have been working on.”

            The reviewer let out an annoyed sigh as he watched the mad scientist disappear down the hallway.  Was that really it? Was that all that Insano had pulled him aside for? Just to tell him to get some rest? That was kind of odd, Critic thought. Usually, the mad scientist was prone to rambling on just about anything when given the opportunity, without any hesitation.  So why now did he suddenly feel the need to suddenly be so distant and restrained?

            Was he really that hard to talk to? Sure, he could get a little loud and had a small tendency to fly off the handle when provoked. And sure, that was nearly all the time, but it wasn’t his fault that other people were annoyingly stupid sometimes.  But, that didn’t mean that people were afraid to talk to him, right?

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