Doctor Omega and the Great Desolation

Illustration by Mikey Mason

By Leonard Pigg

The wanderlust is gone for now. Lately, I’ve been more content with my ship just drifting in space with no particular destination. I found an uninhabited area in the Canadian wilderness, as Earth is always a default locale for me. I reconfigured the appearance of the ship to look like a log cabin. I picked the area so I can watch the Aurora Borealis at night. Civilization is just a few miles away for when my companions want human interaction. I haven’t really had the desire for it, but I know they might enjoy it. I’ve come to the realization that I’m not always comfortable around humans, despite looking like one. Sometimes, people can look at me and sense something isn’t normal. Normalcy is overrated, in my opinion. I’ve often found great comfort among the fringes of society.

My girlfriend, Calamity Jane found out she was actually a clone of the original gunslinger from the Wild West and has been taking it quite well. Lately, she has been reading history books to find out more about what happened to her original self. My former friend turned arch-enemy, Koschei has decided to walk a path of redemption and travels with me now. Koschei and I are from the same planet, which is located in the Milky Way galaxy underneath the Sun, obscured from view. Oddly enough, he was the one that created the clone of Jane in an elaborate plot to destroy me, but was touched by how I had actually fallen in love. He has also expressed that he himself actually had unrequited feelings for me. I’m helping him get on a better path and we are rekindling our friendship. At first, I thought I was content in this regard. However, recently events have me questioning my place in the universe. Traveling around and helping people has kept me going for centuries. I’ve had other companions during that time, most of which have moved on to other things, while some have died. I can only wonder how soon before these two might do the same? The past few days, they’ve been off working on different things on the ship and our interactions have decreased. Time passes differently for the likes of us, especially inside the ship. Time expands and contracts sometimes.

I wander around the interior of the ship, which despite external appearances, is quite massive inside. I feel like a phantom. Calamity Jane is in the virtual reality room, interfacing with historical events to understand the modern world. When I met Jane, I took her from Earth during the 1800s, so she has had a lot of catching up to do. There is also the fact that I’ve also exposed her to alien civilizations and cultures. Quite a transition for a cowgirl from the Wild West, I would imagine. Nevertheless, she has kept up with me so far. Koschei works on upgrading the internal circuitry of the cockpit, as he continues to think we can always go faster and have greater accuracy with our travels. I am proud that he has begun to embrace his role as part of the team and is learning to look out for others. The two continue about the ship, making themselves more knowledgeable about things and improving their lives. Whereas, I find myself in a place of extreme introspection.

Suddenly, I notice a strange thing about myself, a certain transparency. I begin to look as if I were a ghost, a semi-tangible phantom haunting my own ship. I call out to Koschei, not wanting to alarm Jane. There is no response. Out of desperation, I go to where Jane is at and she is immersed in her historical simulation, unaware of my presence. I run to the control room, thinking that if I can get the ship into the time stream, I’ll be safe while I figure out the source of this anomaly. Once there, I reach out trying to push buttons, turn knobs and flip switches. My attempts are in vain, as my hands pass through the console and I am unable to interact with it. I fade from view, then back to visible. If my greatest enemy is my friend again, who would attempt to undo my existence?

Then my mind flashes back to my previous incarnation, when I was an elderly man in a frock coat, wary of involvement in mortal affairs. I remember the debate I had with my mentor, the enigmaticProfessor Helveticus. He also traversed time, space and other dimensional barriers. The Professor was one of the first of my people to do so and has been going strong since I was a young man in my first incarnation. As I saw myself begin to fade in and out of existence, I sat down on the couch by the fireplace. Perhaps my history was being altered, at the moment? I was beginning to panic, as I thought that if my life were undone, that would also undo all the good I’ve done over the centuries.

“My dear boy, when we began to travel along the highways and byways of time and space, our very presence changes things. To simply observe as a cosmic tourist, tempts fate itself. Our unique auras interact with the morphic fields of an area, slightly altering reality itself. If we stay somewhere long enough, a civilization could evolve differently. If there’s anything I’ve ever learned, is that not making a choice is actually making one. The key is finding those times to act and being able to live with yourself afterwards.” Professor Helveticus says, as he packs tobacco into his mahogany pipe. He paced back and forth between the fireplace and the couch, in a slow stroll. “I do believe that despite the good we do, there are side effects. Despite being long-lived, we are subject to many environmental issues. One of which I’ve experiences firsthand was ‘The Great Desolation,’ a phenomenon among people like us.”

I fade away and re-materialize at an earlier point in my timeline, my previous incarnation. I’m feeling confused until I hear the rush of the wind. I find myself clinging to the side of an airplane. A whip lashes around my wrist and electricity courses through my body. Leaning out of a hole in the side of the plane is Baron Doom, a former Nazi spy turned minion of a younger version of Koschei. His main weapon was an electrical whip, which was quite painful. At this point, I foiled his plans to destroy New York. I used the last energy from my wand to make his Sonic Cannon fall from the plane harmlessly into the Hudson River. As the voltage courses through my body, I felt the wand in my pocket absorb some of the charge. I ignore Doom’s taunts as he screams at me in German. As he swings his whip again, he doesn’t notice Koschei behind him, leaping from the plane with a parachute on. I remember how he loved to leave explosions in his wake, so I leapt from the plane. Doom’s lash goes into the propeller of the plane, dragging him from his hole. The plane explodes and I also crash into the Hudson. There is a flash of light.
I’m riding across the plains on horseback. There is a tornado behind me. I am soaked to the bone from the rain. A massive storm is raging. Alongside me are a pair of cowboy do-gooders I’ve teamed up with. We were in the thick of trying to stop a tribe from resurrecting an ancient storm god. Unfortunately, we were too late. If we can get to my ship in time, I should be able to trap the god in a time loop. The lightning strikes and a tree is felled in our path. We take evasive maneuvers and continue to ride. A moment later, lightning strikes again and everything goes white.
I’m on Saturn again. I’m in a hallway with a magnetic gun in my hand and I’m bleeding out. I’m blasting away at cyborgs as they swarm towards myself and Doc Ardan. He tells me to back up since I’m an old man. I’m inclined to agree as one of my three hearts starts to give out. The floor gives way beneath us and we crash into a magnetic field on the level below. The swarm is rendered inert as we crash onto the lower level of the space ship. I black out. I awake again and Doc Ardan is carrying me over his shoulder. I’m down to one heart working. I know how this plays out, I don’t die. We end up in a Genesis Chamber and we both heal up. I reverse the polarity of the chamber, sending out a frequency to deactivate the cybernetics. Why am I going backwards in my own timeline? Again, there is a flash of light.
I awake as my present self, standing in a circle. The room is smoke-filled, dark and there are candles everywhere. A group of people in robes are sitting around the circle and one of them holds a crimson gem in each hand. “The die is cast! The ritual complete! Come forth, Doctor Omega and face Chen Chang!” The Doctor steps through the smoke and the man holding the gems is in shock. His jaw drops and he says, “Where is he?! I used the gems to pull him across space and time!” Omega holds the lapels of his collar and says, “Hello, Chen. I am Doctor Omega. Long time, no see.” Chen kicks one of the people in the circle and screams, “We got the wrong guy! This isn’t even close! Somebody screwed up here! We were supposed to summon the real Doctor Omega, the elderly man in the waistcoat with white hair and a cane!” He slams the two gems together and a crimson shock-wave washes through the room, knocking everyone to the ground. “Chen, I’d advise against doing that again. Those look like Troxellian Warp Gems. They are very unstable. You could displace this entire area anywhere.” Omega says as he takes out his wand. The other robed people scurry out of the room in terror. “They’re not magic, but close. Alien technology. Very tricky, unless you know what you’re doing.” Omega says as his wand makes a humming sound and Chen clutches the gems tighter. “Away with you! I want the real Doctor Omega, not some pretender!” Doctor Omega laughs at the irony of the situation and shakes his head.
A moment later, the white haired previous incarnation of Doctor Omega walks into the room. Both the current Doctor and Chen look on in shock. “Very well, Chen. Here I am. I see you’ve met my understudy. It’s nice to see you’ve finally given up life as a warlord in China for more esoteric endeavors.” the old man says pointing his cane at Chen. The angry Chen charges at the old man in a frenzy with a flying kick. His attack is interrupted as the cane fires a beam of energy, which cuts through Chen Chang. He crashes to the ground with a smoking hole in his chest. The two Doctors rush toward the fallen Chang and look in on him. Chang gives out a last gasp and dies. “You didn’t have to kill the man.” the younger Omega says. The elder Doctor presses a button on his lapel and his true image is revealed: Koschei. “I don’t plan on losing you, my good Doctor. I got a telepathic signal from Professor Helveticus. He told me you were going through the Great Desolation, which he believed you could handle. However, when you were snatched from the timeline, I had to act fast. At least I got it right, this time.” Koschei says as he pats the Doctor on the shoulder. Omega looks at Koschei with a concerned look and says, “Things went bad before?” Koschei looks at him and nods, grabbing the two crimson gems. Koschei places a gem in each jacket pocket and pats them gingerly. “Spoils of war. Let’s be off, Doctor. You’re welcome, by the way.” Koschei says, twirling the cane. The two exit the room and the ship is awaiting them outside. Doctor Omega takes a look around and takes a big whiff of the fresh air. “Are we in Beijing?” he asks. Koschei nods and says, “Indeed we are. The late 1800s, to be precise. “Jane is still aboard the ship. She didn’t realize what was going on, as she’s still in the virtual room.” Omega smiles and says, “I’m glad you got it right… this time.” Koschei replies, “The only silver lining would be that Jane would be free to date and I’m fairly certain I’m not prepared to play Doctor again anytime soon.” The two share a laugh, as Omega sits at the helm and sends the ship vibrating back into the time stream.
THE END

 

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