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[Time Warp] (Red) Giants Win! (Dead Head)

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"Hunh," Dead Head murmured, looking up from the blasted, arid landscape to the smog-choked skies above, then down at his own flame-engulfed body. "Okay, one minute I'm in North Bay, lookin' fer a video provin' a girl's stepmother poisoned 'er, the next I'm... in Hell? An' Mutt ain't here with me."


It wasn't just the sight of the place that lead him to think that, or the fact it was so hot he had almost immediately burst into flames. The first thing to hit him was the smell: everything reeked of brimstone. At least the toxic atmosphere wasn't going to suffocate him.


"Okay, I'm on fire," he mused, looking down at himself, "but judgin' by the rate my body's regeneratin', I'd say it's... hotter'n that big pizza oven I was shoved in to, but cooler'n the crematoriums I've been crammed into. But this heat," he looked up again, seeing nothing but thick yellow-brown clouds, "ain't from no sun, so shade wouldn't help... not that there's much t'offer shade anyway. But standin' here ain't gonna do me no good, so I'd best start walkin'."


And walk he did, stumbling occasionally as his connective tissues were rendered into liquid by the pressure cooker-like environment, then re-set due to his supernatural regenerative processes. He trudged on, across a dried riverbed. As he went, it struck him how desolate the place was: nothing was around, not living, dead, or undead. It was utterly bleak, and he was utterly alone. Later he crossed a dried lake bed, one so vast it could well have been the edge of an ocean. After trudging across it, he saw the first sign of, well, anything: a dark, metallic pyramid, pitted and scorched, as old as anything he'd ever seen.


And a figure was walking out of it, towards him.


"Hey!," Dead Head called out, waving his flaming arms until they separated from the shoulders. "Hey! Finally, someone to talk to! Maybe they can tell me where... I... am?" A deep rumble overhead caught his attention. A black, oily ran began to fall, and Dead Head realized why everything smelled like brimstone: the rain was sulfuric acid. "Awww, crap..."


As the combination of fire and acid overcame his regeneration and reduced him to a puddle of foul-smelling goo, he saw the figure getting closer. It wore a silvery uniform, like some pulp spaceman, with an opaque golden helmet, and around him clung a blue field of light. The last thing Dead Head's melting eyes saw was the figure leaning over him with a bucket.


Dead Head awoke inside a large chamber, made of an odd dark metal and with one wall sloping in at the top. He sat up from the simple cot he was laid out on, and looked down, glad to see he was no longer aflame, but also very naked. "Guess the feller brought me in. Probably don't see many folks 'round here."


"That's 'cuz there ain't been on one 'round here in millennia," the spaceman said, standing in an opening that had appeared in the wall.


Dead Head stood, "you sound like me. Why d'you sound like me?"


The spaceman laughed a familiar laugh. "You seen enough movies," he removed his helmet, revealing a second Dead Head, "t'know why."


"Whoa... okay, so, this is the future, right?" Present!Dead Head walked over to Future!Dead Head and looked over him. "What happened, nukes go off? World War 3?"


"Yup, it's the future – that's how I knew t'bring a bucket, I knew you -- that is, I - would be out there. But 't'weren't no war what did this: this here's all-natural. Way you'd judge the date, it's... well, lemme see... I'd need to check my calendars, but I think it's the year 3,500,000,000. And I ain't seen a single soul in a few hundred million years."


Present!Dead Head's jaw dropped, though it did remain attached.


"Took me a while t'figure it out, but with all the time I got, even I can learn things like astronomy an' climatology, an' engineerin'." He waved one hand, "built this whole place myself, outta some Impervium sheets I found in the ruins’a ASTRO Labs. Figured out how ta make more, after a few decades studyin'." He reached out, snapped his younger self's mouth shut, "but, uh, yeah, we've had a few near-misses, with comets and meteors an' supervillains an' crackpot dictators, but there was still some folks 'round to stop 'em all. But the Sun, it just kept gettin' brighter and brighter, 'till the oceans boiled away! They’d all left by then. All of 'em, goin' with they families," his voice trailed off.


"'All of 'em'? Wait, the spirits, too? Well, I s'pose that makes sense, if they's tied to a family, not a place. But the ones that was tied to a place-"


"I helped 'em cross over," his future self replied. "All of 'em... all 'round the globe... what else could I do?"


Dead Head's jaw went slack again. "But... how long did that... it musta taken you -- me -- hundreds... thousands a' years!"


"Tens a' thousands. An' once I did all that, I came back here, and started on this."


"This? The pyramid? It- wait... this is still Freedom City, right? This... is this the-"


His future self shook his head, "nah, not Scarab's place: it's where the Space Control Center was, yes. Been buildin' me a rocket, gonna jet off a'fore the Sun goes to a Red Giant an' engulfs the Earth. See if I can find others -- humanity made it off'a here long ago, I'm sure they'd still out there. I got another… oh, billion and a half or so years ta get it done. I got time."


The time-tossed zombie scratched his head, "'kay, so, I figured somethin' like this might happen, me outlivin' everyone I ever knew, that I'd jes' keep on helpin' spirits cross over... but if'n you already did all that, how'd you keep from goin' crazy'a loneliness?"


His future self shook his head, "man, cain't believe how thick I used t'be," he murmured. "I done toldja, I done all this, learnin’ pretty much all there is ta learn. Finally got to read all the books wanted… which is good, since they all went up in flames a few hun'red million years ago. An', 'cuz I'm you, I 'member all this – an' I 'member showin' up one day an' havin' a long talk with my self, hangin' out an' reminiscin' 'bout stuff, tellin' ya stuff 'bout my past that's too far inta yer future t'be much of any help..." Dead Head's brows furrowed, his future self merely shrugged. "An' I 'member not bein' insane when I met myself, so I guess holdin' on t'that thought is what kept me sane all this time."


"Man, this is makin' mah head hurt!"


"Eh, try not ta think too hard 'bout it," his future self said, placing a gloved hand on his naked shoulder. "C'mon, lemme show ya what all I done. You'll like it!"



Police Blotter: 911 call in North Freedom district, homeowner reported 'a naked bum' in the kitchen.  Officers went to investigate, and found signs of forced exit, but no sign of any intruders.

Edited by Dr Archeville
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