CHAPTER 2: Day One
Liam ran through the streets, his strong taloned feet trying to propel his muscular, feathered body forward. His partner, Bubble Helmet, clunked at a steady pace a few feet ahead, and was in no hurry to turn around.
“Hey! Stop right there!!” yelled Ben, sprinting behind them, impatiently hitting his omnitrix in an effort to speed it up from its time-out.
“Brrwwwackk! What are we gonna to do?! He's going to - BRAWCKK - catch us!” squawked out Liam, his beady eyes darting around the streets of Bellwood as he searched for an escape.
“Huff. Huff. Just stop talking…” Bubble Helmet took another shakey breath, his suit trying to keep up with his demand for air supply. “And keep-- Huff. Huff. Running!”
They tore down the streets, but stumbled to a halt when they saw the ominous, Plumber van parked in the center of the pavement.
“You have nowhere to run.” Stated the Plumber, coolly exiting the driver's seat.
Liam and Bubble Helmet exchanged looks as they tried to sort out their options.
Bubble Helmet looked behind his feathered accomplice, spotting a narrow alleyway – he looked to his other side and saw another perfect, identical escape.
“Liam! Let’s split!” He cried as he sped away into the alley. Liam cocked his head over to the other side of the street and kicked off into high speed.
“Brwack! Good idea!” They both disappeared from the street as Ben skidded to a stop in front of his partner.
“Rook! Where’d they go?!” He panted as his partner hastily began to make off towards Bubble Helmet.
“They split up down these alleyways!” Rook pulled his proto-tool to the ready, glancing at Ben. “I will pursue Bubble Helmet! You go after Liam, partner!” He shouted over his shoulder.
“Right!” Ben began running down the other side street. He couldn’t see the bird-brain anywhere in sight, but he could hear the worried clucks not too far ahead of him. Ben laughed as he readied his new omnitrix. “Heh, XLR8 outta speed things up!” His hand hit the popped barrel of the omnitrix and he could feel his body stretch into a new form. He looked down expectantly at his feet and saw orange, striped, furry legs.
“LET ME TELL YA SOMETHING NEW OMNITRIX THAT NEVER GIVES ME WHAT I ASKED FOR ALTHOUGH I USUALLY END UP FIGURING OUT A WAY AROUND IT: RATH DOES NOT LIKE YOU AT ALL RIGHT NOW!!” Rath raced down the alleyway, and within seconds he caught up to the tiring Liam, with sweat running down the length of his feathers.
“STOP RUNNING BIRD BRAIN AND LET RATH BEAT THE PULP OUT OF YOU!!!!” Shouted Rath, tackling Liam to the ground. The foul struggled against the strong arms, but was quickly released as he was thrown into the solid, stone wall of one of the neighboring buildings.
“Brrwacckkk!!!!” screeched out Liam, buckling under the harsh pain – he collapsed onto the ground, passed out from the sheer exhaustion of the chase. The omnitrix began to chirp as it timed out, and Ben felt himself phase back into his normal form.
“Hey Rook! I got chicken-feathers down over here! Man, he’s out cold!” He nudged the alien with his foot.
“…I just apprehended the other criminal. I will be over in a moment.” He heard Rook’s voice over the communicator. Geez, thought Ben, doesn’t Rook EVER stop being so serious all the time?
Ben looked down at the collapsed criminal and then back up into the sky. At least it was a nice day out. He felt himself smile. Maybe they can go to Mr. Smoothy’s after. He was about to contact Rook again to ask when he saw a slight gleam from the top of a nearby building. His eyes were drawn to spot, and squinting, he tried to discern the mysterious shine. Shing! There it was again. Ben kept staring, waiting for another twinkling hint, but the gleam was gone. Ben sighed out, the excitement over, and started moving to pace, but then he heard a bang and saw a bright flash heading towards him. He screamed out and stumbled backwards onto his rear, narrowly dodging whatever the heck came firing at him. Rubble threw out into the air, showering over him as he covered his face from the impact. When the damage seemed over, and the ground stopped shaking, Ben looked up to where his head was and gulped at the sight of a large, crater-like hole crumbled into the stone wall.
“Holy--!!” Ben stated breathless. Footsteps hurried down the alleyway and he looked up to see Rook, tense and ready for action.
“Ben! Are you alright? I heard a—“ Rook inhaled a quick gasp, and slowly made his way over to Ben, surveying the giant blast in the wall. Ben shakily stood up from the ground and quickly directed his attention to one of the buildings.
“There-there was a gunshot!” Stuttered Ben.
“From the criminal?” Rook warily eyed Liam, searching for evidence of fire-arms.
“No! No! It was from there!” Pointed Ben. “At that building!”
The scope of the proto-tool was out in a second, already scanning the distant building – searching for any signs of movement, heat, or automatic weaponry. Rook frowned when he turned up empty handed.
“I do not see any evidence of a sniper. Perhaps the perpetrator made a hasty retreat?”
“Yea, after he made a crack-shot at my face,” Ben said grimly.
“Would you like to go scout the building?” Rook asked, readying he hookshot in his proto-tool.
Ben thought about it for a moment, “Nah, if you’re proto-whatever—“
“Proto-tool.” Corrected the Revonnahgander.
“Yea, well, if that couldn’t pick up anything then we can just head out. Besides,” he said grinning. “This is the perfect day for a smoothy!”
Rook sighed, “You almost got your head shot off, and all you can think about is a smoothy?”
“Dude, if I let every blow to the head ruin a perfect opportunity for a delicious smoothy – then I’d be...well, smoothy-less!” Ben was already trying to hoist Liam to the van in an attempt to expedite the process. He finally grunted and hit his omnitrix, morphing into Four Arms who picked up Liam like he was a toothpick.
“Ben-dude, I do not think we should write off this attack so quickly,” Rook went over to inspect the damage in the building. “Such a large amount of damage cannot be done by a simple laser rifle. It was a large grenade shot - even the shell was destroyed. Quite an impressive shot to have been so accurate at such a far distance.”
“Oh, I’ll make sure to ask for the guy’s autograph next time my head gets blown off!” grumbled Four Arms as he walked back towards the van with the unconscious alien in tow. Rook smirked as he followed his partner out of the alleyway, opening the back of the vehicle to reveal the already tied-up Bubble Helmet. Four Arms threw Liam into the back, taking a pair of handcuffs from Rook to secure the criminal.
Ben quickly transformed back and threw his hands into the air victoriously.
“Woo!! Two bad guys down, two smoothies to go!” Ben ran into the passenger’s seat, buckled up and ready to go. “C’mon dude! What are you waiting for?!”
Rook sighed, scratching his nose with his finger. Ben’s innate fascination with the blended beverage was still very strange to him.
“We have to deliver the criminals first,” Rook stated firmly as he buckled his seatbelt. He thought for a moment, and then idea of the apricot, nectarine smoothy suddenly seemed very appealing. “Then, we can stop at Mr. Smoothy.”
He saw Ben smile out of the corner of his eye, and Rook let his shoulders relax as he started the car. He was surprised how carefree Ben could be, despite the fact he was almost always in constant danger with someone trying to kill him or destroy the planet. Rook snuck another glance at his partner, who was staring absently out the window. The smile was gone, and his face looked concentrated as it stared into the side view mirror. Rook couldn’t see what he was looking at, but he had a pretty good feeling.
The building retreated in the visor of the window, but Ben could almost feel like something was watching him. That was close – way close. If he didn’t see that gleam from afar, would he have been able to dodge out of the way? He shivered at the thought of his brains being where that giant crater was. He was snapped out of his thoughts when he felt a large, awkward hand pat his head. “There, there!” He heard Rook say.
Ben turned to look at Rook, who gave him a reassuring smile. Rook seemed pleased with his application of an Earth custom. You had to give him some credit – he was trying.
Ben scowled over at Rook, who flashed him a proud smile – causing Ben to eventually give a lopsided grin. Ben pushed Rook’s hand off his head, and put on an annoyed voice, “Yea, yea! Can’t this thing go any faster, Rook?”
Rook smiled, “Yes, but we would break many traffic violations without a note of cause.”
“Spotted after 3 minutes of showing myself; reflex time as human…pretty good. Heh, heh, but not great.” Gilderoy picked up her gun; cleaning the inside from all the soot of that grenade she fired out. “It always makes the barrel so dirty.” She said absent-mindedly, throwing a black rag onto the ground. “Hm, Ben Tennyson…your brains almost became breakfast this morning – if I decided not to miss.” Gilderoy laughed loudly at this. “Ha! Breakfast! Yes, I’ll have to remember that line, that was good…” She pulled out a small little booklet from her knapsack, and scribbled some words into it. “Hm, alrighty,” she mused, standing atop the building. It was retreating further into the distance, but she could still see the Plumber van rolling along the bridge, nestled between a pair of civilian cars.
“Day one’s over, kiddo,” Gilderoy fastened her gun back behind her back, and placed her stiff-rimmed sombrero on her head, fastening it stiffly over her eyes. “But I think I might be able to get you to Corpone with express two-day shipping!”