Dexter stood overlooking the production of his Dexbots below. The machines he'd endeavored to create whirred and clicked methodically, as the steady rhythm of the machines soothed his agitated thoughts. A sudden beeping interrupted his going through the process of the Time Machine, and he pulled a small communicator cube out of his pocket, turning to take the elevator to the observation deck to get a better view.
"This is Dexter," he said to it. Ben's face flickered into sight. The eighteen year old was looking behind his back as he ran, from what, though, the small cube was keeping Dexter from seeing. He was breathing hard, and whatever was chasing the boy sounded huge.
"Dex, they're trying to overwhelm the front," Ben panted. "My omnitrix seems to be malfunctioning, I can't get it to work." Ben tripped, and he paused for a moment. Dexter left the lift and switched to the larger monitor. He could see that a large, carnivorous Venus Flytrap, mutated beyond its original state, was attempting to take a chunk out of the brunette's backside. "I've been spotted; ##, that think almost got me! Dex, I need backup-" Ben cut out as he jumped over the side of a building, the monster- a fusion protofiend, as Dexter referred to them- snapped at the empty space that used to be Ben. Ben landed on the streets below, the impact of his body landing smoothly (but with great impact) on the street causing it to crack. Another Venus Flytrap appeared, snarling, and the first one slithered behind Ben. The boy was trapped.
"Ben!" Dexter shouted, reaching for a button that would get Ben out of there; however, he didn't have to. A flash of bright pink and yellow flashed by, and Ben was gone. DeeDee went soaring past on her hover board, managing to grab Ben as she did. A small nano followed more slowly, taking the time and effort to smack both flytraps on the heads, sending them careening backwards. To Dexter's immediate surprise, it was nano of himself.
A moment later, DeeDee came tumbling through the portal at the end of the room.
"Weeeee!" She giggled. Ben came rolling almost to Dexter's feet, and Dexter raised an eyebrow.
"Ow…" Ben said, rubbing the back of his head ruefully and trying to conspicuously rub his ankle.
"Ben hurt himself," DeeDee declared, standing up before picking her hover board up off the floor. As she bent over, the nano Dexter came careening into the room, narrowly missing her. It chuckled in its high-pitched voice, close to the real Dexter's. Dexter eyed it in surprise. It looked at him, screeched, and hid behind Ben, who snickered, before returning it to his nano-belt.
"I'm not hurt," Ben said, still snickering, before Dexter could say anything. Dexter rolled his eyes; he could see Ben's ankle twisted in a particularly nasty position.
"And my name is Bob Marley," Dexter said sarcastically, before gesturing to a nearby Medical Robot, or medibot for short. DeeDee saluted before jumping back into the portal, likely to join the healers on the field, outside in the raging battle. The fighting had been going on for days. While Dexter would have liked to join them, he couldn't leave the lab without possibly endangering his important research. He was studying something particularly important.
"I am NOT injured," Ben pressed, his green eyes narrowing in annoyance.
"Then I guess you can start calling me Bob Marley," Dexter said casually. He inspected Ben's ankle, periodically shoving the older boy back down. He turned to the medibot. "Repair and wrap," he said quietly. The robot clicked in affirmation, before Dexter stood to stand behind Ben and grasp the boy's shoulders. The robot took Dexter's place and gently took hold of Ben's foot, before awaiting confirmation from Dexter.
"What are you-" Ben started to say.
"This may hurt a bit," Dexter said casually, before nodding. The robot twisted Ben's foot into place, before deftly pressing gently on certain pressure points along the injured area. He then smoothly wrapped the ankle, all the while Ben yowling and moaning, trying to keep the robot from touching him. Fortunately, Dexter was holding onto the boy, keeping him from doing any such thing. Dexter rolled his eyes when the robot was done.
"Wuss, much?" Dexter grumbled. He slapped Ben in the back of the head, who cursed. "Does it seriously hurt?" He amended. Ben looked ready to throw a hissy fit, therefore explaining that yes, it did hurt, until he paused. He wiggled his foot a bit.
"Oh." Ben stood and wobbled around a bit, before taking more confident strides. "Hey, it feels- What?" Ben asked, seeing Dexter's snickering face.
"You resembled a penguin for a moment there," Dexter said, still snickering. As Ben began to open his mouth, Dexter quickly changed the subject.
"When did you get the new nano?" He asked curiously. Ben started in surprise.
"That's where I just was, actually," Ben explained. "I was following a particularly nasty reading on my Fusion radar. It was huge!" Ben said, gesticulating wildly with his arms. "I swear, I half expected the planet itself to have landed. But when I found one of those seaweed type lairs, I knew exactly who it was. He's not that different from you," Ben said smirking.
"Really now," Dexter said wryly.
"Yup. It looked like he'd been attempting to create a lab outside of the lair, as well as inside," Ben explained, snickering. "Anyways, he went down pretty easily, unlike you. Not very strong."
"He might have been a prototype," Dexter mused. "If I were being hunted, I would wait until I had the prey in sights before creating a clone of-" He paused, seeing Ben's lost face. "Nevermind," he sighed. Silence fell as Dexter stood, watching Ben.
"Ben, can I ask you something?" Dexter said after a moment, while Ben stomped his foot quietly to get used to the fact that yes, it was fixed.
"Yeah, sure. What's up?" Ben asked nonchalantly, not even looking up.
"You said your omnitrix wasn't working?" Dexter muttered. Ben looked up, attention piqued.
"Yeah. Take a look." Ben stepped closer, pulling his sleeve back to reveal the completely dark "watch". It didn't flicker, didn't light up, didn't do anything when Ben tapped it. "It's been going off and on like that for a while now."
"I see," Dexter muttered. He began to pace, his hands behind his back as he thought. Ben watched him, his eyebrow raised. "Ben, I need to tell you something important," Dexter said after a moment.
"I feel like I'm in a soap opera," Ben muttered. Dexter shot him an ill-disguised look that clearly said, "Ben, stop being a dumb-##".
"After the Colonel appeared from the future, remember how she said your watch had stopped working in the future?" Dexter said darkly. Ben nodded slowly, and Dexter gestured to a nearby microscope. "I have been examining a few samples of some of the Fusion Protofiends that we collected a few weeks ago. The genes themselves are thriving, but that's not the problem. I put a few of your genetic material in with the cells, and they mutated them, though they completely ignored any other genes I placed under the magnifier. The omnitirix acting the way it is, seems to be a precursor to a much more, thorough destruction of your cellular structure, which could eventually render you completely without any device of attack-" Dexter noticed Ben's lost look again, and sighed. "You remember those specimens you brought in a few weeks ago?" Dexter asked, attempting to explain in an easier "language" to Ben. Ben nodded. "I've been taking samples. They seem to be overgrown viruses, and they're trained on one target. I once again took a few pieces of genetic material, a couple of samples of DNA from each of the heroes, and it only attempted to bond with one. Yours."
"So?" Ben said, confused. "What does this have to do with the Omnitrix?"
"The viruses are tampering with your ability to turn alien, Ben," Dexter explained, sighing. He pushed his glasses up his nose. "Eventually, your omnitrix will just be a broken watch."
"##!" Ben backpedaled physically, putting his hand on his watch. His large green eyes widened. "What should I do? I can't lose the omnitrix!"
"If it turns back on, don't use it," Dexter said, pushing his glasses up again. He toyed with the microscope, not looking at Ben as he spoke. "Do not use it unless you absolutely must. The Colonel-"
"Why do we call her that?" Ben complained. For a moment, Dexter looked amused.
"She's like DeeDee, Ben," Dexter said, snickering. "Easily amused. And she can't stay serious for too long, she's got too much hope and excitement in her system."
"What's her real name?"
"Ben. The situation?" Dexter reminded. Ben started, looking abashed.
"Sorry. Continue, Dex."
"I have prepared a practice chamber for you, filled with a number of new weapons you may choose from. I've gotten pretty far in completing an antivirus for the Omnitrix, but I need more time."
"A new weapon?" Ben said, looking at his watch disconsolately. "This is my signature. It's what makes me 'Ben Ten'…"
"Don't worry, Tennyson," Dexter said, trying to help the older boy feel more secure. "It's only temporary. Think of it this way; it's another way to try and beat Kevin. Please, try not to destroy the entire floor," Dexter added as Ben jumped up eagerly.
"Floor T13, right?" Ben said, ignoring Dexter's last comment.
"No, T3," Dexter corrected, waving Ben away with a purple gloved hand before turning to the microscope. Ben jogged off toward the lift, as cheerful as ever.
If only he knew the real threat, Dexter thought miserably, leaning on the large, chrome table for support. He glanced up at the large screen above him. He had recently moved all of his experiments to the observation deck, so that he could keep an eye on the Fighters, as the people who had volunteered to fight Fuse's creations called themselves, and intervene when necessary. He flicked it on, browsing quickly to check on everyone. They were getting a little close to DexLabs, but the building had a cloak on, making it appear dingy and unused for any who didn't know the password to bypass the system, in which case it would merely let them through, not turning off the cloaking device. He paused and watched Blossom, Bubbles, and Colonel Cyberdragon, Cyber for short, battling an outpost of Fusions. Cyber raised her signature weapon, a blue marble quarterstaff with a crystal Dragon on top. She smacked one creature lightly, a wide grin on her face, and watched it go flying ten feet, its head completely caved in. Dexter grinned momentarily, before flicking past. He paused and saw Numbuh One, or Nigel, Numbuh Five, or Abby, and Numbuh Two, or Hoagie, fighting a huge mass of Fusion protofiends back to back. They were cornered, and Dexter immediately pressed a light blue button, and from a small crack in the ground a tube raised itself out of the cement and completely evaporated anything that had the body signature of a Fusion. The KND operatives stood, momentarily confused, before nodding and shouting, "Thanks Dexter!" Dexter chuckled dryly before switching to check on his sister. She was healing about four wounded Fighters with all three of her nanos helping. She ran up and down, as other healers followed, mimicking her moveements. Her nanos were exhausted, but like her, determined.
After the initial shock of sending Cyber to the future, the first waves of Fuse's attack had started up, although it had been unbeknownst to them at the time that the perpetrator had been a being called Fuse. If Cyber hadn't appeared when she did, they might not have learned until it was too late to do anything. As soon as everyone was gathered on Dexter's airship, there had been a huge flash, and there was Cyber, coughing and sputtering. She immediately stood and explained that, if they didn't move quickly, they would all be doomed within a few years. In order to keep the planet, they needed to act, NOW. And they did, and the initial attack was held at bay. Now, Fuse was attempting to overrun them by sending almost all of his fusion fiends down, a few hundred every hour or so. Every corner of the world was covered in fighting, although this was the biggest battle yet.
Dexter finally switched to a slideshow like setting, which rhythmically switched between all of the camera views of the battle areas, before returning to the task at hand.
"If only," he muttered. "If only Ben even understood that if I failed, his life would eventually be forfeit.
Dexter leaned back, tired, rubbing his eyes. He motioned to Computress to stop taking notes on his discoveries and to pull away the results of his efforts to a special case. She put the notebook many mistook for a fashionable item Dexter had added back to the crook of her arm and did as he asked. His experiments were going well, and he had decided it was because he had chanced to add Chemical X into the concoction. He chanced a glance at the monitor and saw something very odd.
"What in the…" Dexter paused the slide of images. The entire front portion of TechSquare was empty, quiet. There was nothing, except the waiting bodies of the Fighters, sitting outside of DexLabs, as though waiting for something. "DeeDee, come in," Dexter said into the communicator. The screen zeroed in on her.
"Dexter," DeeDee said, sounding worried, "they're going to charge us. There must be thousands out there, and they all know where you are, where the lab is. They're going to try and take you hostage."
"How do you-"
"Fusion Ben appeared with Fusion Dexter appeared and gave the whole 'You must surrender' speech. I thought Ben had defeated your Fusion…" she said, her voice small. Dexter cursed. He'd been right about the clone.
"Don't worry, Ben and I will be there soon," Dexter said, before turning off the communicator. He switched to the intercom of his lab, directing it to the T levels. "Ben, there's a situation. DexLabs is about to go under attack, we need to-"
"Way ahead of you, Dex," Ben said, racing up through the lift. He skittered to the side, jumping through the portal. Dexter glimpsed a pair of one of his newest inventions glinting on Ben's wrists, the Quantum Magnifiers. They worked much like Cyber's staff, magnifying the owner's strength ten-fold in a fight.
"Dexter," Computress spoke up from beside him, "shall we commence Operation Relocate?"
"No," Dexter said quickly, turning to grab his own weapon: A giant wrench-like staff he'd created specifically for himself. "Commence operation R7. Be ready for me, if I should contact you. Oh, and Computress," Dexter said, turning before he entered the portal. Computress turned to look at him. "Commence new beta plan SB1. Be prepared when I return. I do not plan to return in a healthy state, as we planned."
"Affirmative, Dexter." As Dexter turned to the portal, he could have sworn he heard her whisper, "I pray that you know what you're doing…" Then the glow and whoosh of the bright yellow portal filled his hearing, and he didn't hear the many robots commencing his plans, in case the lab had to be moved to a predestined relocation center, in Sector V. When he appeared in front of his lab doors, which were sealed shut, he punched in a code on the keypad, locking it from any life-form that wasn't human.
"'Bout time, Dex," a mocking voice interrupted him. He turned to see Colonel Cyberdragon standing with her eyebrow raised, apparently having been waiting for him. She nodded to the front. "Ben ran on ahead. He looks pretty excited."
"Where are the Girls?" Dexter asked in response, referring to the Powerpuff Girls.
"They're split out along the different ranks," Cyber explained, pointing to the left, front, and right flanks. Her appearance matched her name spectacularly. Half of her face was mechanical from a mishap in the future, when she had had to detonate a bomb next to her, on her left, to get some refugees out of a tight fix. Her left arm was mechanical as well. She also had a pair of white, feathery wings, and she sometimes used a flamethrower. She had the temper of a Dragon at least.
"Take me to Ben," Dexter replied, and Cyber led him wordlessly to said brunette. He was busy looking for a target, flexing his fists. The air warped around them.
"Ben," Cyber called, attempting to get his attention. Gwen suddenly appeared.
"Hey Dex," she said. Dexter turned to her. "Grandpa's going to try and control any form of defense system he can hack into," she stated, but Dexter held up a hand.
"Tell him to type my name and his own into the password box, or he won't be able to so much as glimpse the defense system," the boy genius said. Gwen nodded.
"I'll fight from the sidelines," she continued. "I'll do my best to keep up a perimeter for the week and wounded."
"Good girl," Dexter said, turning back to Cyber and Ben. Gwen nodded to her cousin, who nodded back, before she returned to their Grandfather. It was an unspoken moment between the two, warning each other to be safe. Dexter's thoughts momentarily turned to DeeDee, but flew back to the present when Ben finally turned to him.
"What's the plan, Dex?" Ben said, cracking his knuckles.
"Ben, I want you to go to the left flank to protect the area over there with Buttercup. I can see her from here. Cyber-"
"That's Colonel Cyber, to you," she said meekly. She was worried for her friends, Dexter could see it in her eyes. She was trying to lighten the tension in the air. A few people around them laughed, but it was a stressed sound, not happy at all.
"Colonel," Dexter said somberly, nodding his head, "I want you to go to the right flank. Bubbles will need you there. Hurry, both of you. Be ready." They turned to run toward their assigned positions, and Dexter tapped his staff twice quickly on the cement underneath him. Computress's face appeared in the space between the two wrench prongs.
"Dexter," Computress's voice chimed.
"Release the Robounds when the enemy is within 200 feet of our position," Dexter said calmly. Computress gave to affirmative before Dexter let her go. He stepped forward, only to be stopped by Blossom, who looked at him with tired, pink eyes.
"Hey, Dexter," she said tiredly. "I really hope this ends soon."
"You're telling me," Dexter sighed, rubbing his eyes, still strained from all of his experimenting.
"Have you found a cure for Ben's watch problem?" Blossom asked, turning to face the empty space in front of the front lines. Not a soul stirred.
"I think so," Dexter said tiredly. "I just need two more chemical compounds, and then it will be complete."
"Good," Blossom said, understanding. She took after her father, the esteemed Professor Utonium, who was already in the designated area beneath the Sector V treehouse, having already been run from his own lab.
Silence fell as they waited. Suddenly, a deep careening noise filled the air, and everyone covered their ears as it raised in pitch.
"Do not be distracted!" Dexter shouted over the noise. He raised his staff, before plunging it into the ground, and a sonic wave spread before him like water. Instantly, the sound stopped. A moment later, Fuse's Greatest Army appeared, marching, running, snarling, charging the front lines.
"Hold your positions!" Dexter shouted. Everyone crouched low to the ground, waiting for the onslaught to reach them. Dexter could see Fusion Ben and Fusion Dexter appearing ahead of them. Suddenly, just as Dexter could see their glinting red eyes, a loud chorus of clanging barks filled the air, and Dexter raised his staff again. "CHARGE!" He roared, and the whole army surged forward. A moment of silence filled the air, energy cackling on both ides, before the two armies clashed. Dexter stayed still in the middle of it all, waiting. Waiting for the Fusions to approach him.
He didn't expect to see a glowing green Ben approach him first, alone and unheeded.
"Greetings, Dexter, boy Genius," it said with malice, its voice almost mechanical. Dexter stood still, peering at it in thought. He took in its dimly glowing watch, though still brighter than Ben's.
"You're attempting to swallow Ben." Dexter said. It wasn't a question; it was a fact.
"You are smart," the Fusion snickered. "And when I kill you, you're friend will be left all alone. His energy will be mine, and soon I shall be more powerful than him!"
"You're only a copy," Dexter drawled. "You could never be as strong as the real deal. You're not real. You're not supposed to exist."
"You take that back!" The Fusion snarled. Dexter grinned. Bingo.
"Why don't you make me," Dexter said, raising an eyebrow. Fusion Ben immediately raised his hand, pulling back his sleeve to initiate transformation. Dexter's eyes flickered, and he jammed his staff into the ground just as Fusion Ben his the watch. A cube quickly encased the Fusion, and he halted. Dexter called this invention, the Time Box. It stopped time for whatever was inside, keeping it from jostling, growing old, decaying, or being broken. His lab was probably being packed into the same stuff. A robound, a half-robot, half-dog created by DexLabs twittered by, skidding to a halt, before grabbing the cube and dragging it back to the lab.
"Just according to plan," Dexter murmured. He took in the sights of the people he'd come to know and care about around him, memorizing it, just in case he should fail. "Now to finish it, once and for all." He stepped forward, twirling his staff and whistling merrily. He didn't notice Grim, standing off to the side, with a defeated expression(before Mandy kicked him in the shin, ordering him to continue fighting, to which he quickly sliced open a fusion).
Dexter approached a large tank Fusion, snickering, and, almost as though he were insane, ran at it.
"Hit me!" He shouted.
"We did it!" DeeDee exclaimed. She pranced around, blood that didn't even belong to her smeared on her arms, her hair covered in dust and debris. She raised her arms and pumped the air. Nigel, Abby, and Hoagie joined her, grinning in exultation.
"That Dexter sure knows how to fight," Abby said, laughing. "I saw him whirling around like a madman, surrounded by five o' them tanks."
"I saw him fighting some toughies too," Nigel said thoughtfully. "Why on Earth would he do that all alone?" Ben suddenly came running up to them, and they turned, ready for his spirit and enthusiasm. What they weren't expecting was the look of fear and terror on his face.
"I can't find Dexter," he whispered when he was close enough for them to hear. DeeDee's face dissolved, and she fell to the ground.
"I didn't… I wanted to see…" she whispered, unable to finish. Abby, Nigel, and Hoagie only looked at each other for just a moment before sprinting in different directions. Soon, the three Powerpuff girls were in the air, their family squabbles passed as everyone began looking for the red-haired genius they all knew and loved. Even Eddy was putting aside his first-and-foremost care of money to find the sixteen year-old who had saved his life countless times.
It was Blossom who found Dexter, lying amid rubble and pools of Fusion waste. His staff lay beside him, just out of reach of his limp hand.
"Dexter-" she exclaimed, immediately dropping to his side and pulling out her communicator to call for help. Nearby, Cyber saw Blossom make a beeline for the ground and immediately ran towards her. Far off, green and blue streaks were turning to fly toward them, having seen Blossom land so suddenly.
"No." Dexter muttered. He blinked, his glasses askew, broken. Blood matted his hair, dripped in a flow from cuts and slices. One of his arms was broken, and a few ribs bent in, instead of forming the protective cage around his heart. His breathing was labored, and when he coughed, blood welled up from his throat. Cyber appeared next to Blossom, fear on her face. "It must… mus…t… be this w…way." He gasped. "Truu…st me." He sputtered. "Don't let DeeDee see me," he said, with a surge of energy, the old light filling his eyes. He coughed a few times more, and just as Buttercup and Bubbles landed, Dexter heaved his final breath.
Blossom had taken Dexter back to his lab, his beloved, the only place Dexter ever wanted to be, to rest. She and the others had rendezvoused at the lab, and the place was silent as the robots silently unpacked Dexter's experiments, the threat over. At least, it was silent, until DeeDee came screaming in through the portal.
"Dexter!" DeeDee shouted, trying to push past Blossom, and Bubbles. Buttercup sat staring in the corner; she and Dexter had been fairly close as friends. He had certainly listened to her when she ranted about her problems, and whether he had actually heard them or not, just the fact that he had allowed her to rant to him while he worked had meant a lot to her.
DeeDee dropped to the floor, curling into herself.
"Why!" She shouted, her voice ripped and raw. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup winced. Just then, the KND team members 1 – 5 entered the room, all of their faces weary.
"This bodes ill for the world," Nigel murmured. "I can't believe he would risk himself so unnaturally. He had to have a reason… Dexter was most definitely not stupid…"
"Lay off, Numbuh One," Abby snapped. "He's dead. There's nothing we can-" she stopped when DeeDee began sobbing and hitting the floor. A guilty expression overcame Abby's tired one.
"No, he's right," Blossom said softly, her voice also raw. "The last thing he said was, 'I know what I'm doing… don't worry.'" She paused. "What if he's planning something?"
"He wouldn't leave Ben without a cure," Cyber added. She looked curious as well. Blinking, she entered the room where Dexter was, though the others hardly even took notice of her leaving.
"I would give up the omnitrix if it meant having Dex back," Ben muttered, slumped against the wall beside Gwen and their Grandfather. His eyes were covered.
Computress slipped out of the infirmary, silent as a ghost. She moved over to the chrome table, preparing a few flasks. She had one particular flask, filled with a dark red fluid; Dexter's blood. DeeDee whimpered.
"He must have planned something," DeeDee whimpered. "My brother wouldn't give up his life just to win a fight that was so unimportant-"
"It was too important," Cyber said, exiting the infirmary and re-entering the main room with the others. She had a carefully assumed poker face. "It was his last test to save Ben. It was his last chance to not only win a very large and important battle, but to ensure that no one important to him died. He took precautions. He has a LOT of plans," Cyber added deliberately. No one answered; they looked to the ground. Cyber threw her arms up in disgust and went to lean against the counter; no one had taken the hint. Computress added another mixture to a smaller flask, with a few droplets of the coagulated blood. The others lifted their heads to watch in fascination, their sadness attempting to be forgotten for a moment.
"Computress, what are you doing?" Hoagie asked.
"Exactly what Dexter commanded me to do," Computress answered mildly. She swirled it around, then held it for a few moments over a flame, before taking a look through the glass. Nodding, she took a needle, filled it with the concoction, and turned to Ben, who jumped. "This would be the anti-virus Dexter was talking about," she explained. Ben blinked.
"It was…" Hoagie stopped, bewildered.
"His dying wish," Cyber finished, smirking. They took no notice, and she huffed. Ben raised his arm, and Computress first put half of the needle's contents into a vein in his arm. The second half, she administered to the wristband of the watch, and pulled away, standing still. Everyone stared, biting their lips. The omnitrix flickered and turned back on, and though dim, it was working perfectly. Everyone looked at each other, their smiles pained. DeeDee remained on the floor, looking at her hands.
"I wish he could explain it to us," Buttercup muttered.
"Explain what?" Everyone jumped, completely taken by surprise, whirling around in disbelief.
Dexter stood in the doorway of the infirmary, blinking, attempting to see without his glasses. "Computress, where are my glasses?" He complained.
He was wearing newer clothes, having replaced his tattered ones. His hair was wet, probably from a quick jump in the shower in the infirmary to get rid of the blood that had matted it. All of his wounds were gone. In fact, he looked better than ever. Apart from his evident blindness, of course.
Computress glided over and handed him a new pair of glasses, his old ones having been thrown out.
"I knew it," DeeDee breathed, putting her forehead on the floor, too relieved to be angry or confused.
"You-" Ben sputtered, unable to finish. Even Gwen and Max were at a loss for words.
"You were-" Abby tried, but nothing came out.
"Dead, yes, I know," Dexter finished, pulling his purple gloves onto his hands. He flexed them, blinking. "Glad to see I was missed,' he said bemusedly, grinning. He cringed when the Powerpuff Girls, closest to him, narrowed their eyes.
"You'd better explain, Dexter," Buttercup muttered.
"Yes, I know," he said, nodding.
"You see, there was a fundamental piece of knowledge that I kept from you all, apart from Cyber. The virus that had infected Ben was not only turning his Omnitrix into an unusable piece of junk, it was slowly turning his insides to, well, mush. You see, I kept this from you all because I didn't want you to have the faces and feelings you have now. I knew you would try and treat Ben better, or treat him as though he would drop down dead any moment, and I didn't want that pressure, on me or him. The virus could have taken years to finish the job."
"I remember Ben from the future," Cyber added. "This was three years into the future, and the Dexter there didn't know what was wrong with Ben's watch, until I noticed one night that Ben was a little more green than his jacket. He was slow, and lethargic, and looked a little mucky. I mentioned this to Dexter when I had a chance, and he made the connections. I merely relayed them to the present Dexter," Cyber said, gesturing to Dexter, who nodded.
"I learned that there was a virus in all of the Fusion Fiends," Dexter continued. "It was so prominent that I could barely even look at the monsters as sentient beings anymore. They were practically walking viruses, all aimed at Ben and his watch." A hard silence met this, completely shocked. "This battle was for Fusion Ben to get a hold of the real Ben and take the rest of his DNA, to speed up the process I suppose. The viruses in the real Ben, you see, were transporting Ben's DNA and molecular structure to the Fusion Ben, who would have eventually been a perfect clone of Ben, while the real one would eventually look like the Fusion Ben, with a dysfunctional omnitrix and barely enough strength to breath. So, I endeavored to create a cure before anything else could be done to further harm Ben. If he was so important to Fuse that he would land a whole invasion just to get at his genes, I figured I should do anything and everything I could to save him." Dexter paused, and he looked away. "Not to mention he is my friend."
"What does this have to do with you dying, Dexter?" DeeDee demanded, momentarily lifting her head from the chrome floor, her pale blue eyes glinting.
"I'm getting to that part," Dexter continued. "I was failing. Everything I did only worsened the disease. And then I came across a Fusion fiend completely left alone. It was barely alive, and I noticed something peculiar about it.
"Somehow, it was repairing itself, perfectly. Like a Starfish repairing one of its lost limbs. I immediately walked over and took a large sample, and before it could get angry enough to attack, I sent the whole thing in a time box to the lab, just in case. Unfortunately, he's long since decayed," Dexter admitted. "he only had one sample of what I found anyways.
"Upon dissecting the creature, I learned that there existed a compound inside of its central core that allowed it to repair itself. I took it, studied it, and decided that the only way to test it was to get it to combine with my cells."
"Are you mad?" Abby exclaimed, jumping up.
"Not at all," Dexter said, frowning. "I simply understood that this particular virus was harmless. In fact, it is the first compound to a two compound mixture that creates immortality." He paused, letting this sink in. "Well, do you remember that day I was extremely sick?" Everyone recalled the day Dexter had practically exploded, spewing almost as much as his weight in wastes, all 110 lbs. "Well, that was the virus making its hold on me," Dexter continued. "When I learned that it was a success, I immediately took samples of my blood and went to mixing it, trying to find the second compound.
"And then I found it. It was coagulated blood. The mixture didn't work unless the blood in which the immortalizing compound was in was coagulated, or the bearer was dead. The second compound was a mixture of coagulated, dead man's blood, and Chemical X mixed with the cells of Ben. I only needed the genes of the Fusion Ben, and it would be complete. But I didn't even know where to get that.
"That was where I left off today before I contacted you, DeeDee," Dexter said, gesturing to her. "It was so strange. Suddenly, after finding the cure, I had found a way to test it. It was so coincidental, like a planned story. Never say no to fate. So, after getting Fusion Ben secured, I allowed myself to be separated and slowly killed." Everyone sucked in a breath at this statement; even Dexter looked pained.
"Dexter-" DeeDee began, but he interrupted her.
"I know it was stupid," Dexter sighed, "but I didn't want to risk suicide. There were too many factors, including the theory of one's soul. I think the whole compound, if there is a soul, attatched it firmly to my body. Who knows what the affect will be. The point is, Ben isn't dead."
"Dexter!" DeeDee huffed. The Boy Genius stopped and looked at DeeDee. She seethed at him, before completely flattening. "I'm proud of you," she whispered. She stood and gently wrapped her arms around Dexter's neck, surprising him. "Mom and dad would have been too." Dexter didn't say anything.
"Thank you," Ben said quietly, moved. He couldn't think of what to say. "You died for me. Thank you."
"I died for you and the sake of the future," Dexter reminded him. "the concoction that Computress gave Ben was the whole thing mixed. My blood is the compound now, and the way it worked was that it jump started everything in my body long enough to keep it going. The good news is, once my body took off, the gene shut off. It's like a trip wire. Once one thing happens, it turns on. Once another thing happens, it turns off."
"Wow, Dex," Buttercup said dryly, "you sure know how to make an exit. You could have at least warned someone!"
"I did," he said defensively. "I knew Cyber at least, or Nigel, would eventually figure it out." Cyber smirked, and Nigel blinked, taken aback.
"Thank you," he said, surprised.
"No one else knows about my 'death', correct?' Dexter asked, satisfied that he had explained everything that he could.
"We told them you were gravely ill," Blossom answered. Everyone was visibly thawing, realizing that, no, this was not some cruel prank from God, and yes, Dexter had come back to life for good.
"Yay for the little things," Dexter murmured. "You must all promise me something. Tell no one about the fact that I found a way to return to the dead. The compound, though inside me, is not transferable in the sense that I can make everyone immortal. I don't want an epidemic of immortality seekers on our hands. Besides, we still have a lot to do. Fuse is still out there, and I say it's high time we defeated him for good." They all nodded, and as Numbuh Five completely chewed Dexter out for scaring the living ## out of her, followed by Buttercup, DeeDee suddenly recalled that no one had reported defeating Fusion Dexter.
"Where did he go?" She wondered, but decided to worry about it later. Dexter was alive; that was all that mattered. Whatever happened in the future was unknown; they'd figure it out later.