Another TIme, Another Place
Mark A Davis
Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick Hexcoder sat back to back, tied to steel-framed chairs. The room was round with bare gray walls. Thick glass panes looked out onto a dark, alien landscape and a star-filled horizon of black more deep and pure than anything you could see from an atmospheric planet. They might have been on the moon, or on Mars. Somewhere an air cycler hummed.
Grandpa wore his usual rumpled gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol over the left breast, while his sidekick -- a young black man -- wore a dark red robe and wizard's hat, paired with red hightop converse sneakers. Although bound like Grandpa, he had one hand free which clutched a smartphone.
A door slid open and Kid Calculus floated in. He was a young man in a dark blue spandex outfit that had mathematical symbols and formulae floating above its surface in a silver script, which morphed and changed slowly, recombining into new symbols and equations. Floating beside him was his ever-present holographic computer pad. He glanced at Hexcoder and said, "That phone of yours is quite useless. We're many, many light years from any cell tower."
The sidekick ignored him. Slowly, Kid Calculus spun about, hands extended. "Well?" he asked. "What do you think? Not bad?"
"Nothing personal," said Hexcoder, "but the place is a dump, if you ask me. There's no personality."
"Ah, well," said Kid Calculus, "it can't be helped. The nearest Home Depot is so very far away. Besides, you only say that because you have no idea where we are or how difficult it was to build this place. It was quite the feat of engineering -- I had to set up a semi-permanent gateway to transport the materials. I employed ten workers in the construction, and training them to work in a near zero-G vacuum was quite the obstacle. Of course, when it was done, I couldn't let them live." He laughed. "Oh, don't worry -- I didn't kill them. Not exactly. I just abandoned them in some random, hostile dimension and left them to fend for themselves. Surely that's giving them a fair chance -- as good as they'd get from any villain, I think, and if they screw it up and die then it's no blood my hands, right?
"Which, by the way, is what I intend to do to you," he added.
"You're insane," Hexcoder snarled.
"On, I'm very sane," replied Kid Calculus. "Grandpa Anarchy abandoned me to my fate many times, so it's only fair I do the same to him." He looked Hexcoder up and down. The boy in the red wizard's outfit continued to fidget with his smartphone.
"I'm going to tell you a story," said Kid Calculus. "You see, many years ago I was Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick. I was young and naive, but I was also smart -- no doubt the smartest sidekick Grandpa has ever had. I had developed a device that allowed me to travel sideways to reality, opening portals to other dimensions. You remember, don't you, Grandpa? We saved hundreds of other worlds together. We aided that Clockface Guy, Lord Pip, Baron-Who-Cares-For-Pets...."
"Don't remind me," Grandpa said. "Saving that villain's world almost got me killed."
Ignoring Grandpa, Kid Calculus continued. "On our first mission, Grandpa and I travelled together to a dimension called Salnell H'rgo -- well, as nearly as I can remember the name anyway. There were a kind of intelligent insect people there whom we helped save from a supernova. I was really proud of that one, but you know what? Grandpa abandoned me on the planet just days before the supernova was predicted to take place.
"Mind you, that was only the first time he did such a thing...."
"This again?" snarled Grandpa Anarchy. "My primary goal is always to defeat or capture the villain and to save people's lives. I don't hire sidekicks so I can babysit or mollycoddle them. You were perfectly capable of getting yourself out of those situations -- which you obviously did. End of story."
"Always denying your legacy of abuse," said Kid Calculus. "You never learn. Well, this should give you a chance to reflect on your sins. Do you know where we are? Do you have any idea at all?"
"We're in space, obviously," Grandpa replied. "I've been here before."
"Oh, Grandpa," said Kid Calculus, "I do not think you've ever been in this sector of space. I do not think anyone from earth ever has. You see, we are on a planet orbiting a star in the NGC 4666 spiral galaxy, found in the constellation of Virgo. It is over 80 million light years away from earth!"
Grandpa Anarchy shrugged. Anger filled the villain's eyes.
"I see you have absolutely no concept of how remote this location is from earth or how difficult is is to get here, let alone construct this small base. You see, I've improved my teleportation gateway technology by leaps and bounds. Once I could only travel to other dimensions -- traveling to different places within our own dimension was impossible for me. I'd explain why but I'm afraid the math involved is above your heads -- above the heads of virtually anyone on earth, in fact."
"Try me," said Hexcoder.
"No, I think not," said Kid Calculus. "That would simply be a waste of my time. Suffice it to say, for each possible alternative universe, Narrative Causality has a place in space and time where you are meant to be, and it is consequently very easy to teleport between dimensions to those points, because you can shortcut a lot of the math involved. Teleporting to a different place in the same universe where you aren't supposed to be? Much more difficult.
"However, once I'd conquered that problem, I was still limited to travelling around our own Milky Way galaxy. Mind you, even one galaxy is more vast than any human can even imagine. I'm certain I've been to places in the Milky Way that no one in the Eieio (pronounced Ee-Yow) Empire has ever seen, let alone any human from earth. I'll remind you that the Eieio Empire spans over 2,000 star systems in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way -- unimaginably vast to anyone from earth, but only an infintesimal fraction of the entire galaxy.
"It took a great while for me to alter my device so that I could make the leap to other galaxies. You have no idea of the mathematics and energy involved. I won't bore you with the details; suffice it to say I've spent the last half-year searching the far reaches of the universe for a planet like this. Once I'd found the right planet, I built this little base just for you! And now that I have you here? I'm going to leave you.
"Do you understand me, Grandpa? I'm going to abandon you on a lifeless rock in another galaxy, 80 million light-years away from anyone that knows you. Trust me when I say, no one will ever, ever find you here, and you will never find your way back. This room will be your final resting place -- literally on the other end of the universe...."
Hexcoder rolled his eyes. "Do you not understand that the furthest object in known space is 13.4 billion light-years away from earth?" he asked. "That's orders of magnitude further than this little rock. We might as well be around the block, cosmically speaking, or at least in the next town over."
Kid Calculus's face grew furious. "Do you think it was easy to teleport to a point 80 million miles from Earth? I defy anyone to travel further! Not even the gods can cross billions of light years in the blink of an eye, so don't suggest that my accomplishment is weak in comparison. Comparison to what? To who? Who has gone to greater lengths to kill Grandpa Anarchy? Who has put in half the effort that I have? Does this not prove the depth of my hatred for Grandpa? Does this not prove that I am his true Arch Nemesis?
"You and Grandpa will die here, on the lonely shores of this isolated world in a stellar system that is just one of hundreds of billions of systems, in a galaxy that is one of countless galaxies... when you think about it, a needle in a haystack is child's play compared to finding this exact spot in an potentially infinite universe. No one will ever find you two!"
For a long moment there was silence. "You finished?" asked Grandpa. Kid Calculus nodded, and Grandpa added, "Good Now, do you realize who the head of my fan club is?"
"Not that I pay attention to such silliness," Kid Calculus replied, "but I believe it's that ridiculous woman who calls herself Kid Continuity. What of it?"
"Actually she's Continuitae these days," said Grandpa Anarchy. "She's literally the Avatar of Continuity -- you might remember that crazy god gave her the power last year. She's obsessed with me, and she's read the entire run of the Grandpa Anarchy comic book that was produced by the Painters -- that's a race of extra-dimensional beings that can look into the future and the past simultaneously -- and so those comics kind of predict what's in my future. And then there's her girlfriend Saturnae, Avatar of Time, who travels through time and space by magic -- no calculations required.
"Point is," said Grandpa, "if you think those two don't know where I am and how to find me, then you really don't understand how my fan club works."
At that moment there was a flash, and two young women appeared. They were dressed like extras from a Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon cartoon. The one on the right had a white leotard with a skirt of dark purple with a stardust pattern, and wielded a staff with a strange symbol on one end -- a kind of squared-off Celtic knot. There were amethysts set in a tiara, in bracelets, a necklace, and there were ribbons, bows, and ruffles. The second was similarly dressed in a white leotard with a skirt of brown. There were similar ruffles, bows, and jewelry set with chocolate diamonds, and there was a time theme -- clock faces worked into the tiara and necklace, an hourglass design at the end of her staff, and the skirt was encircled with numbers. If viewed from above, it would resemble a clock.
"Oh, hey!" exclaimed the one in purple. "Did we miss our cue?"
"Right on time," Grandpa replied.
Kid Calculus's eyes bugged out so far they threatened to fall out of his head. "What? Impossible! How did you find this place?"
Continuitae rolled her eyes. "Not only is it possible, it was actually quite easy." She held up a comic book -- Kid Calculus was on the cover, facing off against Grandpa and the boy in the red wizard outfit.
"Grandpa Anarchy issue 2,799," said Continuitae. "Grandpa Anarchy and Hexcoder vs. Kid Calculus in the Urquathal Galaxy". You'll have to forgive the Painters, they don't use the earth galaxy naming system, but they give precise coordinates for this location in relation to the Milky Way as well as some very clever three-dimensional star maps. You'd be amazed what an extra-dimensional being can fit into a simple comic book!" She smiled, and added, "Incidentally, it's not one of the better episodes, I'm afraid. It's mostly just you ranting and raving while Hexcoder hacks your dimensional gateway program and alters it for his own purposes...."
Kid Calculus's eyes widened further. "He... what?"
Hexcoder tapped his phone. A gateway irised open beneath the villain. He dropped out of sight.
"You know," said Grandpa Anarchy after a moment, "getting back from another dimension is practically the first thing Kid Calculus ever learned...."
"Of course it was," Hexcoder replied. "So I sent him to the dimension where wishes are real, every girl owns a pony, the Cleveland Browns are perennial Superbowl champions, and where Kid Calculus always easily defeats Grandpa Anarchy every time they do battle."
Grandpa frowned. "That place don't exist," he said.
"Indeed," said Hexcoder. "My bet is he's never had to calculate his way back from an imaginary dimension before...."