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Mickey Mouse

Murdermouse
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Erde Nona was in flames.

From the mech troopers’ aerial vantage point, grassy knolls looked more like volcanic spouts. Flames ripped and roared across the countryside, ravaging pastures and sinking buildings into nothing more than ash. Through their scuffed up viewfinders, the pilots could barely make out the ant-like figures of the Hinterlands’ citizens cutting frantic paths through the fields, desperately seeking solace from that which had come to destroy them.

High above their heads, the motley crew knew that they were the only hope for the planet being ripped apart before their very eyes. At the head of the pack, the hoverjets of Lieutenant Commander Frederick Dillinger’s baby blue mech armor whirred as he spun around to face his troops.

“This is it, boys,” he growled, punching one of his mech’s fists into the other palms into what could only be interpreted as an exaggerated display of his natural, masculine aggression. “There’s no time like the present to show the enemy what we’re made of, jabronis. Because if we don’t… well, there may not be a future to come home to.”

“Boys?” a precocious voice piped up from within a large, hulking purple suit of armor near the back of the pack. A quick glance made it apparent the pilot was practically swallowed by his mech suit’s gargantuan size. The lieutenant commander found it hard to see the little guy at all… though hearing him turned out to be less of an issue. “I was pretty sure Agnes over there was a girl, right? Right, Agnes?”

The pilot within the yellow suit withered a bit. “I mean, yeah.”

“Also, that thing you said -- about the present and the future -- that doesn’t make any sense,” the little guy continued, stretching his neck so his whole face could be seen in the viewfinder. “When we go back -- if we go back -- it’ll still be the present, then, right? I mean, yeah, right now that’s the future, but if we go back, it’ll be the present. Right?”

“Just shut up, kid,” the burly dude in the forest-green armor, who had paraded his superior camouflage color choice to them all in the loading bay, scoffed.

“Eat shit,” Hiro Hamada shrugged.

“Boys,” the lieutenant commander said again, and Hiro cringed, “now is no time for squabbling. Now is the time for kicking… some… ass --”

Just as the lieutenant commander’s speech was about to reach its carefully crafted climax, the sky lit up red, accompanied by the shell-shocking blare of an alarm. Within seconds, the world around them shifted from the wartorn skies of Erde Nona to a series of repeating hexagonal shapes, and orders came in over the intercom.

Attention,” the feminine voice called out, “your attention, please.”

Hiro lifted the alabaster VR helmet off his head and the simulation landscape disappeared from his view, revealing the much less rural environs of the ARC’s gaming center. He, the asshole pilot of the green mech, and Agnes stood amongst a group of seven or eight kids who’d chosen to cash in their precious coin on the latest sensation from Wondertainment Toy Company: a video game style virtual reality simulation of an Unmaking attack, released not so tactfully on the three-month anniversary of the ‘victory’ at Cevanti. For all his swagger, Lieutenant Commander Fred Derringer had just been an avatar of exposition for the program, so when the VR helmets came off, he ceased to exist.

Hiro had gone back and forth about participating in the unmistakable capitalism of it all. His own wounds from his time fighting the Unmade Arbiter of Cevanti and its thousands of minions still weren’t completely healed. As if on cue, he reached a hand into his pocket and palmed the seafoam green computer chip that contained Baymax’s core programming, as he always did when memories of the Siege of Markov rushed back into his mind. True to PTSD-stricken form, he had yet to muster up the courage to finish a full reconstruction of the bot. Something inside him, he supposed, feared that the old Baymax’s last memories -- undoubtedly, he knew, of being destroyed by the Fade -- would rush into this new Baymax’s consciousness from the cloud or something, and Hiro wasn’t sure if that was a story he was ready to be confronted with.

The Siege itself wasn’t a memory he carried lightly, either. He’d yet to confide in anyone that he’d actually fought alongside any of the heroes of the Siege, like Ashe-0, or Mustang. For all anyone here on the ARC knew about him -- not that he spoke much to anyone to begin with -- he was simply a refugee, ferried off the planet as doom seemed imminent and before the thought of salvation had even manifested in anyone’s minds.

Unidentified object approaching the ARC’s hangar bay,” the intercom buzzed into his brain, interrupting his stroll down memory lane with the possibility that he was about to have to relive it all again. “Possible Unmaking vessel. All security personnel please be on alert; civilians and refugees, please seek out shelter.”

“Hmph,” Hiro grunted, Yeah, right.

A few minutes later, Agnes would look around the circle and worry aloud where little Hiro had run off to. The asshole would say something snide, no doubt, and Agnes -- who, despite Hiro’s insistence that he wasn’t looking to be her friend, had fashioned herself his adoptive big sister -- would slap him on the back of his head. But the boy genius, freshly fifteen after spending his last birthday in the dank and depressing refugee quarters, had pretty much already made it to the ARC’s main hangar bay to see what the hell was up.

The sight that greeted him was… well, nothing short of unusual.

***

Mickey Mouse’s last thoughts were of just how gorgeous the nebulas surrounding this huge, glorious space station were. Purples and blues and greens and yellows danced throughout the far, pitch black reaches of space, creating something almost like a mosaic before him… some sort of galactic work of stained glass art.

Or, at least, he thought they were his last thoughts.

His surroundings certainly didn’t leave much room for hope. Proto Man barked orders and the Sqwid Sqwad scrambled to try and set the course aright. PLUTA’s emergency warnings blared overhead and each engine fired loudly in succession, but never at the right time, never altogether. Black muck exploded from the smokestacks atop the coal-powered spaceship, and the very floor rocked beneath its passengers’ feet. Yet Mickey simply sat, criss-cross-apple-sauce, in his captain’s chair, and shut his eyes as the Spaceboat Willie careened towards the ARC’s hangar bay.

Don’t worry about it, Mick,” they’d said.

One of us can pilot the ship.

It’ll be a piece of cake.

Well, mothertruckers, Mickey sighed peacefully, really hitting his moment of zen, I tried to tell y’all. Ain’t nothin’ we can do about it now, pals.

The Squee purred as it leapt up from the arm of his captain’s chair and onto his shoulder, snuggling into its master’s neck. The mouse king opened one eye ever so slightly and rolled his gaze down to the little orange creature. “Well, fella,” he nodded, “I guess this is the one time it really pays off to be imaginary, huh?”

He closed both his eyes again, and inhaled one more time. His ears twitched a bit, and he wondered idly if that was… music playing? The ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies,’ perhaps, or something else whimsical?

Or just the beeping of the Spaceboat Willie’s emergency systems going into overdrive?

Eh. Who could say?

And in the midst of the chaos, the spaceboat breached the hangar bay’s crystal blue shield barrier and slammed into the shiny silver floor. Soldiers and security officers scattered away from the crashing nautical-style space vessel as it skidded slowly to a halt near the center of the room.

Peeking around the doorway, Hiro Hamada’s jaw dropped open.

“Holy shit.”
 
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