The Three Ages of Gwen - Part 2
Gwendolyn looked over at the same time as young Gwen was looking at her, the quizzical look in her eyes that she remembered so well from her youth.
“Ysshs,” Gwen said as she looked down at herself. She had no idea how all three of them had ended up in the same place at the same time – whenever that was – but she had recognised Gwendolyn the moment they had carried her into the room. It may have been six years, but some things still stood out in her memory.
Gwendolyn turned to her and mumbled “nidewhsdngts?”
“Nnn,” Gwen replied as she shook her head. She watched as her older self started to wriggle her upper body, trying to work loose the bands of tape that were holding her arms in place, but with little success.
“You can keep struggling all you want,” she heard a voice say as a door silently opened, “but you won’t break free – and so long as you are silenced, there is not a thing you can do about it.”
The three looked up at the tall person who had walked in, his purple bodysuit and cloak crackling with energy while a silver mask covered his face. Both Gwens looked at the stranger, blank expressions on their faces, while Gwendolyn’s eyes narrowed and she said “Uuuu...”
“So nice to be recognised,” the man said as he looked down on the three captives. “Make yourselves comfortable – this should not take too long. Your counterparts will do their work, and then my victory will be complete.”
They stared at him as he walked out, the door closing silently before him, before looking at each other. Gwendolyn turned and looked at the older Gwen.
“jstldwn,” Gwendolyn said as she indicated the floor with her head. With some difficulty, Gwen managed to lie on her side and watch as Gwendolyn slid back towards her, her fingers searching for the tape over Gwen’s mouth as she looked over her shoulder.
The red car pulled up at the deserted warehouse, Kevin sitting nervously at the wheel as Ben looked out of the window.
“So, this happened six years ago as well?”
Ben nodded. “I really will explain it all later – but Gwen forgot almost everything that happened to her, except to say that if it happened, be at this spot at a time she specified – five minutes from now.”
“Remind me again why these things happen to you,” Kevin said sarcastically as he stepped out of the car.
“Something in the genes,” Ben said as he looked towards a building at the far side of the road. A purple glow started to emanate from the side, which Kevin also noticed as he turned round.
“Follow my lead, and whatever happens do not interfere,” Ben said as the two of them started to run towards the building. Rounding the corner, they saw a red haired young woman lying on the ground.
“Gwen!” Kevin shouted as he ran over and knelt beside her, helping her to sit up in his arms. She reached up and rubbed her forehead, the sleeve of her red jersey falling slightly down her arm as she did so.
“Kevin... Ben... What happened? I remember fighting the knights, and then...”
“Don’t worry about it, you’re home now. Right, Ben?”
Ben nodded, a grim expression on his face as he walked behind Kevin and his cousin. Quietly, carefully, he lifted his arm and turned the dial of the Omnitrix to show Goop.
Max Tennyson ran to the spot where the ten year old girl was lying, unconscious on the ground. Ben was a few steps behind him, watching carefully as his grandfather knelt beside his cousin.
“Grandpa... Ben... Oh thank God,” Gwen said as she slowly returned to consciousness. “I have so much to tell you, so many things...”
“Later,” Max said as he picked her up in his arms, “Let’s check you over in the Rust Bucket first.” He nodded to Ben as he walked part with Gwen in his arms, the young boy walking along behind them as he rubbed his arms.
“Mmmmphwwe,” the older Gwen said as the tape was finally pulled away from her mouth. Sitting herself up, she turned and looked at her younger self.
“I know you’re very confused by all this,” she said as she turned her back to the young girl and reached over to rub at the side of the tape over her mouth, “but this will all make sense at some point to you. For now, let me say this much – I’m you, and she’s you, and we’re all here for some reason which she’ll explain to you when she can.”
“Yes,” Gwen continued as she managed to free the end of the tape and grab hold of it with her fingers. “Now, this is going to hurt like crazy, but try not to cry out.”
“kkkkoowww,” young Gwen said as the tape came away from her mouth. As she watched her older self get onto her knees and back up to Gwendolyn, she worked her jaw before saying “I’ve travelled in time, haven’t I?”
“Yes, you have,” Older Gwen said as she picked at the gag over Gwendolyn’s mouth,” and you will again. What I don’t know is – nnng – why?”
“I do,” Gwendolyn said as the tape came away from her mouth, “and we’re all in very real danger.”
“Why – who is that guy in the purple outfit?”
“His name’s Eon – and he’s the most dangerous foe we’ve ever – sorry, you’re ever going to face.”
“Eon – what’s Eon?”
“Much better question then you think – but, much as I wish I could tell you who I think they are, I can’t.” Gwendolyn sat back down and looked over at her ten year old self. “You both still have this in your future, and there are rules about this sort of thing. Let’s just say that Eon is the most dangerous foe you may ever meet – they make Gargax look like a kitten.”
Older Gwen looked over her shoulder at the bands of material holding her arms in place. “So what are we going to do about this Eon? If the three of us are here - and never mind how may rules of time travel that might be breaking – it means Ben is in big trouble.”
“You have no idea how true that is,” a voice said from the open doorway. It was electronically adjusted, so that the three captives could not even tell if it was male or female, but they all could see the tall figure looking at them, dressed in purple with a metal mask over the face.
“Ben Tennyson is the biggest threat I can face,” Eon continued as he walked into the room, two armed guards standing behind him, “and you three are going to be instrumental in his ultimate doom.”
“Oh yeah,” Gwendolyn said as she stared back at their captor, “and what makes you think he won’t try and find us.”
“Because, dear sweet Gwendolyn,” Eon said as he knelt beside her and raised her head with his hand under her chin, “He won’t even know you are here.”
“Shall we silence them again, Lord?”
“No need – the emanations from the lights in the room will negate their natural abilities. Let them talk together – it will pass the time before I deal with them permanently.”
Eon stood up and walked out of the room, the door closing behind them. “What did he mean by that,” young Gwen said as she looked over at her older selves.
“Exactly what he said,” Gwendolyn said, “I’ve been trying to cast a spell to free us, but nothing’s happening.”
“Same here,” older Gwen said. “What do you think he meant by that?”
“All I know,” young Gwen said as she shuffled over to where her sixteen year old self was sitting, “is that I don’t want us to be this way any longer than necessary. Turn your back to me – I may not have powers, but I do have teeth.”
“How are you feeling?” Kevin asked as he helped Gwen to climb into the car. “I’m not sure – I can’t even remember very clearly what happened to me when I was gone,” she said to him as she looked up. “How long have I been away anyway?”
“Not too long,” Kevin said as a green glow flashed a short distance off. “I’m just glad you’re...”
He stopped short as a mass of what looked like Green slime flew through the car windscreen, somehow managing no tot destroy the glass but fixing itself around Gwen as she sat in the chair. She tried to pull herself free as Gloop walked towards her and Kevin, his body cackling with energy as he did so.
“Ben, what the hell do you think you are doing?” Gwen screamed as Gloop came closer. “I had a note about you,” he said as he came closer, raising his arm as he did so, “and it told me what I needed to do.”
“You’re not Gwen,” he said as he shot more of the slime over Gwen’s mouth. Her eyes widened as she tried to breath, before they slowly closed and she fell asleep.
“Man, I hope you’re right,” Kevin said as the green light flashed again and Ben walked the rest of the way over.
“So do I, but I do know one thing,” he said as the slime dissolved and Kevin pulled Gwen out by her arms.
“What’s that,” he said as he laid Gwen on her stomach on the back seat.
“She was wearing a blue jumper earlier,” Ben said as he took a roll of duct tape out and placed her wrists together behind her back, ripping the end free before sticking it on her jumper cuff. As he wrapped it around her crossed arms, he continued “Now it’s red. I don’t think wherever she went has a change of clothing, and besides...”
“She told me that this would happen. We need to keep her secure and quiet for a little while, and then something else will happen.” He quickly taped her ankles together before rolling her over and covering her mouth with three strips.
“You had better be right about this,” Kevin said as he climbed behind the wheel. “I don’t want to see her hurt.”
“Neither do I,” Ben said as he climbed into the passenger seat, “Neither do I.”
“Gwen? Wake up, Gwen.”
Gwen slowly opened her eyes to see Ben and Max standing in front of her, both with concerned looks on their faces.
“Wh.. What happened? Last thing I remember is the drink that you gave me, Grandpa, and then...”
“You fell asleep,” Max said as he held Gwen’s chin in his hand. “You needed the rest, so I made sure you got it. How do you feel? You gave us quite a scare when you went out as Lucky Girl.”
“Oh come on, you know I can take care of myself as her,” Gwen said with a laugh. “Hey, how come I can’t move my arms?”
Her cousin nodded as he stood up. “You can’t move your arms,” he said as he walked behind her, “because we’ve tied you to the chair.” Gwen looked down and saw the brown coils encircling her arms and chest. “Now we need to make sure you can’t raise the alarm.”
“Hummmopgp,” Gwen mumbled as the scarf was pulled between her lips. She glared at Max and Ben, her eyes asking a simple question.
“You would not believe us if I told you,” Ben said as he turned the dial, slamming it down as the light filled the room and Gwen saw Four Arms appear. “Right now, we need to watch you for a while and give you a test.”
“Grandpa, why didn’t you tell me it had happened for the third time?”
Ben looked over at Max as he sat at the table, his cybernetic arm resting on the steel.
“Ben, how much do you remember of the first time Gwen disappeared like that?”
As he sat opposite his eighty year old relative, Ben rubbed his beard. “Not much - been scared mostly, and then following the instructions you found in that letter. You never told me who delivered it.”
“Well,” Max said as he sat back, “maybe now is the time to tell you. It was given to me by Gwen.”
“Hang on – Gwen gave you the letter? So she knew what was going to happen to her?”
“No – it wasn’t that Gwen, it was...”
The two stopped as a ghostly figure appeared before them. It was small, and looked like a young girl. As it slowly took form and shape, Ben and Max both stood up and looked on, eyes wide in shock.
“That’s better,” Older Gwen said as she brought her arms round and rubbed her wrists. “Give me a minute to get myself free, and then I’ll take care of you both. I’d forgotten that I learnt that trick.”
“Oh yeah – you forgot the games with Jack and the others?”
“As you get older, certain things become just memories – hopefully fond ones,” Gwendolyn said as she watched her teenage self remove the binding from around her legs. As she tore the last piece off, she stretched her legs out, before manoeuvring herself onto her knees and starting to remove the tape around her younger body.
“Once I get you free,” she said as she unwound the orange tape, “free my arms, and then we can take care of Gwendolyn. Have you got a plan for what to do next?”
“Get free, get out of here, find Eon, stop whatever he is doing,” Gwendolyn said as she watched the others freeing themselves. Once young Gwen had her arms free, she shuffled over and started to remove the rest of the tape from older Gwen.
“What was Eon talking about - they won’t even know we’re here?”
“I think I know,” Gwendolyn said, “and if I’m right, we may need to warn them.”
“Warn them? How – oh, wibbly wobbly timey wimey?”
“Ah yes – Doctor Who on BBC America. But yeah, something like that. Let’s get free and get out of here first.”
She slowly opened her eyes, wondering what had happened to her. As she allowed them to focus, she found she was lying on a bare mattress, and glancing down saw the bands of silver tape that were holding her legs and arms together, making her resemble nothing more than a silver sausage.
“Whstgngn,” she said. Actually, what she meant to say was “What’s going on,” but that was what she heard. That was when she realised why there was a pulling sensation around her mouth and jaw, and why her mouth tasted as if it had not seen water for a week.
“You’re awake then,” she heard Ben say, and rolling onto her side she saw him and Kevin standing there, looking at her.
“Kvn, hlopm,” she mumbled as she tried to squirm her way free. “Don’t try,” Ben said as she looked into the eyes of the young man, “That’s Plumbers Tape – reinforced, very strong, and constricts the more you try to get free.”
She could feel that was the case, and stopped moving round. She could see the indecision in Kevin’s eyes, and decided to appeal to that.
“Kvn pls, hlp m.”
“Ben, you said you would show me something?”
“I did, but you’d better brace yourself,” he said as he opened a DVD player and switched it on. Placing a disk inside, the three watched as a face appeared on the screen. She was a red haired woman in her late twenties, and Kevin looked from her to the young girl on the bed.
“Hello Ben,” Gwendolyn said, “You need to listen very carefully to this. Kevin as well, although he may be a little – distracted at the moment.”
The doors slid silently open, and Gwen looked out and along the corridor. “Guards at the far end,” she whispered as the three captives made their way out of the room.
“How are your powers feeling,” she said to Gwendolyn.
“Need time,” she whispered in reply, “So we do this the old fashioned way. Gwen,” she said to the ten year old, “stay back and watch.”
“Cool,” young Gwen said as her older personas grabbed the two guards and threw them backwards, using Karate rather than magic or other powers to subdue them. Leaving them sprawled on the floor, they made their way silently down the dim lit corridors until they came to a balcony.
Looking over, they could see Eon giving orders to a group clustered round several control panels. In three tubes at the far end of the room stood...
“Doubles, but for what purpose I can’t...”
The room filled with light as the three Gwens in the tubes shimmered, and then blinked into the ether. “Replicas dispatched,” the man sitting beside Eon said.
“Excellent,” the villain replied as he turned and walked away. “Keep me apprised of progress. I will return to activate the devices in due course.”
Gwendolyn turned and looked at the other two. “We need to know what those plans are,” she said in a low voice. “Can you find a terminal and hack in?”
“We’ll look around,” older Gwen said. “What are you going to do?”
“Find Eon and have a little chat,” Gwendolyn said as she slipped off. “Meet here in one hour.”
“Gwen, stop struggling,” Ben said as his yellow eyes glared at her. She looked up at him, her eyes wide over the cloth in her mouth, as he drew his fist back and whispered “I’m sorry.”
The red limb came towards her at a speed unseen, but before it could connect with his cousin’s head an eerie violet light filled the room, enveloping Gwen and cushioning the blow before it could make contact.
“Oh god, she was right,” Max whispered as the ropes fell away from Gwen, her body rising as the gag around her mouth dissolved. She looked down on the others, an evil smile appearing on her face as she said “You have discovered my ploy – but it is too late now. Too late for all of you.”
The two Gwens looked through the doorway into the control room, noting the fact that the few people inside were intent on their own work.
Moving quietly, older Gwen gestured as beams of prupel energy shot forth, picking up those inside and holding them against the walls as younger Gwen ran in and sat at a terminal. “Sleep,” was the command given, and as the costumed workers dropped their heads as one she allowed them to drop safely to the floor.
“Managed to break in yet?” she said as she watched the hands of the ten year old moving quickly over the keyboard.
“Almost there,” she said as a series of images appeared on the screen. “Whoever this Eon is, they managed somehow to create clones of the three of us, with a little genetic programming – I think Animo may have had a hand in this.”
“His speciality is animals, not humans.”
“Yeah – but Eon took his notes somehow. At any rate, they are designed to...” Gwen put her hand to her mouth. “Oh no... We have to get back to our own times, or else...”
“Or else what?” The voice was one they had heard before, and as they turned they saw Eon standing there, two guards beside her.
“So, you managed to escape – and found out my little surprise,” she said as both of the girls were grabbed. As they stood there, their wrists were secured behind their backs with thin plastic strips, as Eon walked and stood in front of them.
“One of them will succeed, so at some point I will have my revenge,” Eon continued. “As for both of you, I think you need to be prevented from raising the alarm. Silence them, and then bring them to my chamber.”
“We won’t let you get awmmmfdgd,” Gwen shouted before a strip of cloth was pulled into her mouth, forcing the corners of her mouth back. “Why hasn’t she used tape this time,” she thought to herself as she and her older self were pushed out of the room, the guards following behind them.
“Oh dear god,” Kevin said as he looked from the screen to Gwen, lying on the mattress. “It can’t be – she looks so real...”
“It can be – I remember from last time,” Ben said as he walked to the door. “You heard Gwendolyn – there is only one thing we can do. Coming?”
Kevin looked at Gwen as she frantically struggled, before saying “If you’re wrong...”
“Then I’m about to look very, very silly,” Ben said as Kevin walked out of the door. He turned and looked at Gwen, before saying “Charmcaster” and walking out, locking the door behind him. Gwen stared back before her body went rigid, and a purple mist started to appear round her. As her pupils went yellow, she started to rise into the air as a strong light filed the room.
Outside, Kevin and Ben looked on as the windows flared with light, and then went dark. Opening the door, they waited for the smoke to clear, before looking over to the mattress. “Oh shit,” was Kevin’s only reaction at what they saw.
As the image faded, Ben looked at Max. “Do you remember the first time,” he eventually said.
“How could I forget – it was one of the worst things I had ever seen. Why didn’t you tell me about six years later?”
“Some things – some things just don’t bear thinking about.”
A shimmering light filled the room as Gwendolyn appeared. “That was not fun,” she said as she walked towards the two men seated at the table. “Sector 205-A is secure again, but it took a lot out of me.”
She stopped at the table and looked at both Ben and Max. “What is it? You never saw a smarter cousin get the job done? Anyone would think I was the bad girl here.”
“You are,” Max said as he pressed a button. A column of bright light rose around Gwendolyn, and as she tried to walk through she found it was impossible to do so. “We know who you are,” he continued as he stood up and walked round, “so forgive us if we dispense with the pleasantries. Obviously, the other two are going to fail, or we would not be here. A pity you also cannot succeed.”
Gwendolyn looked at the two, her eyes wide even as they turned a deep yellow in colour. The beam lifted from the floor, transporting her elsewhere as a loud popping noise filled the air.
“She should be safe enough in the null zone,” Ben said as he picked up a communicator. “I just hope it does not take too long for the others to get back.”
“How can you be sure they get back?”
“We’re still here, aren’t we?” Ben said with a smile as he walked out of the room.
Gwendolyn walked into the large, ornately furnished chamber. “Eon – I know you’re there, and I know you know I have escaped,” she called out. “Come out and face me.”
“Why, young Gwendolyn,” Eon said from a doorway at the far side of the room. “You just walked in – how respectful of you.”
“I always give a foe a chance to surrender,” Gwendolyn said as she walked in and looked up into the metal mask. “We know about the replacements, and my younger selves are trying to find out your plan now.”
“You mean these two,” Eon said, and as Gwendolyn looked she saw the two Gwens being walked into the room, bound and gagged. “They discovered what the replacements were, and their purpose, but you are too late to stop them. One of them will succeed, and if they do then we will know – safe here from the resulting time storm.”
“Why? For goodness sake, Ben, why?”
The two younger girls looked at each other as Eon laughed. “You think I am Ben Tennyson,” the masked villain said. “There are an infinity of Eons – and I am not one of those called Ben. Like all of us, however, I seek to destroy the Tennyson name – and you will not be able to stop me.”
“I wouldn’t be sure of that – Gwen?”
The older Gwen kicked out with her right leg, felling the guard behind her younger self before testing and kicking out at her own captor. Before they had chance to react, younger Gwen had flipped her bottom and legs through her arms, picked up the weapon her guard had dropped and pointed it at both of the men.
“I could have a hundred guards her in minutes,” Eon said as the three Gwens came together.
“Not before we had a chance to kill you,” Gwendolyn said as she took the gun from Gwen. “Free yourself – I want to see who I’m talking to, and what sort of man he really is.”
“Man? MAN????” Eon shouted as the gloved hand reached for the mask. “What makes you think I’m a man!”
“Oh... My... God,” the Gwens said in unison as they looked at the lined face behind the mask, greying edges of the red hair falling around her cheeks and forehead. They stared at Eon as the hood fell back, recognising the woman standing there as...
“I said there is an infinity of Eons,” the fifty year old woman said as she walked forward. “Did it not occur to you that one of them might be you?”