The Rage Regulator, Part 2
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Last time on Nexus:
The Rage Regulator, Part 1

Brym Space Station is located on the very edge of the Terzan 2 star cluster. Once a bastion of the Orthotan Coalition, this spaceport was attacked and conquered by the Twelve Stars, a civilization at war with the Coalition. However, the station proved to be of little use to the Twelve Stars because of its location, and so the station was looted and abandoned. Because of the unrest in Brym's immediate vicinity, the Orthotan Coalition had not yet set out to reclaim the place.

But this was in keeping with the underworld of Terzan 2. Free of morals, prejudices, or state affiliations, the worst people of the galaxy had gathered here to trade in all the goods that were forbidden by law. Drugs, slaves, weapons, everything you couldn't get anywhere else, you got here.

Elli had visited many such intergalactic black markets, but nowhere had she found a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Fortunately, this had an effect on the quality and prices of the goods.

Those who offered too high prices on Brym either did not get rid of their goods at all or were robbed by particularly desperate individuals. If the quality was not right, it was an ironclad rule on Brym that the customer was entitled to a refund, usually in the form of limbs, vital organs, the seller himself or his family members.

Humans were only sporadically encountered here, for they had not yet ventured to Terzan 2 in large numbers. For the most part, they were followers of the Church of the Second Hytoth, who had pulled strings to reach the cluster.

Elli and Dean strode through the rows of wooden or tin booths set up on the bare metal floor of the common deck.

Except for the load-bearing walls, all room dividers had been removed with welding torches to create more space. As a side effect, the formerly white walls and ceiling were covered with ugly black stains.

Elli secretly congratulated herself on her decision not to take Chloe with her. Right next to her portal had stood a Vamonian, a large, ape-like creature with six arms. Human children were considered a delicacy by them…

The store Elli was headed for was a converted trailer, sandwiched between a food stall offering the fried and boiled remains of Brym's latest fatalities and a small shack from which neon green steam billowed. It smelled of cinnamon and burnt car tires.

"Lousy kushum," Elli assessed the smoke.

Had probably been laced with petroleum and cement…

She knocked on a window of the trailer, which opened in response. Four green stalk eyes peered curiously outside. Not much could be seen of the body, but Elli knew she was looking at a Ptrazzi, a kind of intelligent slug with tentacles.

Its body changed color from curious blue to confused purple when it saw Elli.

"Well, weren't you here justnow?" he asked, gurgling.

"I'm a time traveler, I come when it suits me," Elli explained to him, slightly irritated.

"Um… Is there something wrong with the merchandise?" the merchant asked uncertainly as his body took on the lemon yellow of rising anxiety.

"Not okay?!" echoed Elli, reaching into her pocket to pull out the burnt circuit board. "This piece of crap burned through on me! You promised me military standard! This was removed from an cartering unit! I want my skull back!"

"Um, sir-"

"I'm female…"

Brief change to embarrassed green, but then immediately back to panicked dark yellow.

"Oh, sorry, I have my problems with the humanoid species. Well, uh, but I can't give them back your skulls because of the circuit board, you bought up half my stock, after all."

"Well, you'd better cough up a suitable replacement, because I know what parts of you won't grow back," Elli told him threateningly.

That wasn't a lie, but she would shy away from actually gutting him. Fortunately, the Ptrazzi didn't know that.

"Well, um, can I maybe offer them a Neurister grid instead?"

Before Elli could answer, Dean grabbed all four stalk eyes with his hands and pulled them right in front of his angry face. The salesman took on the ochre of mortal fear.

"Now you listen to me, you overgrown slug. Thanks to your little 'mishap' I have to deal with a stripper's body! Conveniently, the power output is about the same, so if you don't pull out a proper rage regulator IMMEDIATELY, I'm going to ram my foot so hard up your butt that I'm going to tickle your uvula with my big toe! And since I have no idea where your butt is, I'm going to use the trial-and-error method until I find it! Did you get that?"

"Um, um," the salesman stammered in exasperation. "I've got one there, but I've got a guy from the Mymonian Mafia coming by later to pick it up, if you'll give me a little bit of ti-"


"It's-it's okay, I'll go get it! Please let go of my eyes!"

Dean obliged, whereupon the creature disappeared from the window.

"First of, I didn't have you designed as a stripper!" Elli fended off now at last.

"And nobody in East Germany had any intention of building a wall…" Dean grumbled.

Boy, Elli loved it when he was pissed off in that form…. There was something about those action women you always saw in movies whose mood was always somewhere between totally pissed off and extremely annoyed.

A tentacle came trembling out of the window and handed Elli a brand new rage regulator. She carefully accepted the component and ran a check with her examination lamp.

"There you go…" she sighed, flicking the burnt product through the window. "If any of your junk doesn't work properly again, we'll be back…"

Dean sighed contentedly as the two moved away from the store. Elli opened her purse to put the rage regulator inside when suddenly:

"O. M. G. Is that Elli!"

Elli sadly recognized the voice and squinted her eyes in agony.

"Oh no, please don't…"

She pulled Dean by the arm and quickened her steps, heading for the nearest door to disappear.
But Elli wasn't fast enough…

Outside the pub she had chosen, a woman with Asian features stood in her way. She had an everyman face, you forgot about it as soon as you stopped looking at it. To make up for it, she wore side braids and some sort of black combat fatigues with enough pockets to replace three travel trunks.

"Hello, Elli!"

Elli groaned in annoyance.

Dean, who was facing it all with his usual equanimity, turned to Elli.

"I take it you know this lady?" he let his guess be known.

Elli seemed to wrestle with herself, but finally answered.

"Dean, this is Aura. She's an interreality thief. And… My stalker…"

"Admirer," Aura corrected her indignantly.

"Stalker," Elli insisted bitingly.

"That's too harsh!" the thief whined. "I just want you to finally pay attention to me!"

Elli rubbed the bridge of her nose.

"Every time I meet her, she bugs me," she explained to Dean. "And then no matter where I go, I have that pair of eyes on me until I figure out what the nature of her interreality tracking device is this time. Do you have any idea how disgusting that feels?"

"About as disgusting as when you snuck into Leonard Di Caprio's bed while the man himself was in it," Dean replied dryly. "Twice, in different versions of reality?"

Elli flapped her mouth open and closed a few times, while a scowl came over Aura's face.
"Hey, that's different!"

"Is that so?" Dean verified, as impressed as an elephant confronted by a toothless and decrepit lion. "And then what was with the Marylin Monroe thing? Or Cleopatra? Or the Beatles, including Brian Epstein? Or Mozart? Or Goethe? Or Sun Tzu? Or Martin Luther King? Or-"

"Alright, alright, Dean!" Elli interrupted him annoyed and told him with a hand gesture not to blurt out something like that in front of Aura.

She in turn literally threw herself at Elli and began to cry.


"Dean, help me!" Elli gasped, as Aura cut off her air.

"Sorry what are you saying?" the inquired. "You're talking too quietly and I can't hear you because there's something wrong with my hearing. Hmm, must be because you really needed to take a female body."

"Dean, please don't be that guy right now!" she begged.

"Oh, I'm exactly that guy now, Elli. You'll be the one to get yourself out of this. Meanwhile, I'll stand by and laugh."

Elli wondered for a moment what she had done to deserve this, before some part of her mind opened up the long list of offenses responsible for her jet-black karma to her.

She shook herself to get rid of the thief and after a while got free.

"Someday I'll get you to come after me. And then we'll get together!" Aura howled piqued, snorting at Elli before stalking off.

She would have to look for the new tracking device she had no doubt attached.

"There you go, that wasn't so bad," Dean said. "Now get going, I finally want my old skin back."

"Yeah, hang on a second," Elli muttered, finally stowing the rage regulator in her bag.

At least she wanted to, because her hands were suddenly empty.


Elli patted down her pockets, but all she unearthed was a pack of tissues and a Lucky PennyTM.

She looked around frantically. In the distance, she saw Aura, who had turned to face her and was sticking her tongue out. And stuck between her right index and middle finger was the chip. Then she started to run.

It took Elli a second to grasp the sheer magnitude of this insolence.

Then she uttered the most horrible curses she knew. Dean joined in.

Deep down in Hell, three red, horned demons were playing Mau-Mau on a black wooden table while taking a break from maltreating damned souls.

Suddenly, all three did listen up as a sound audible only to them began to echo through the cavern illuminated by red light. They listened in amazement for a while until the sound stopped.

"Golly!" one of the demons then said, half surprised and half awestruck.

His playmates only nodded in agreement.

Ferra had a mostly emotionless expression on her face, as usual, but those who knew her could tell by the gleam in her eyes and maybe by measuring the position of the corners of her mouth with laser-based measuring devices that she was in a good mood. The reason was the bazooka-like weapon with cuboid attachments that she cuddled like a stuffed animal while holding one of her cigars in the corner of her mouth.

"Oh, how cute," Nero commented. "To make it perfect you'd still need a kitty hair clip. And makeup for the cheeks. And a dress with ruffles. And a cigar in pink, but preferably none at all. Come to think of it, when was the last time you wore a dress? Can remember the last time anyone tried to look under it, all they saw was a wall of guns…"

"Nero, shut up," Ferra said, as if Nero were a child trying to reach into the cookie jar behind his mother's back. "I'm having a moment right now."

She puffed briefly and managed the feat of exhaling the smoke in the shape of a heart.

"One that brings down houses," Nero guessed. "Aren't cluster guns forbidden by the Terzan convention-"

Ferra looked up angrily to chew Nero out, but then saw two women running after a third woman, they screamed bloody murder.

The taller one of the two returned no hits on a database search. The smaller one, however…

"Elli", the Blonde Disaster, wanted across realities for-.

Ferra immediately stopped listing her crimes because it threatened to make her processors run hot, and jumped to the bounty.

The number of digits drove the Lunari equivalent of dollar signs into her eyes.

She grabbed Nero's head and turned it so he could look at the two women.

"Nero do you see them! The blonde!"

"Yeah," Nero confirmed. "I think I know what you're getting at."


"Yeah, her boobs are bigger than yours."

Ferra used her index fingers as she continued to hold Nero's head to painfully pinch his eyes.




"You have a plan, don't you? Please tell me you have a plan" Dean asked as he ran.

Elli, meanwhile, saw an inherent problem in this design. Dean couldn't build up any decent speed because then parts of him began to oscillate to such an extent that he'd already given himself two chin hooks without using his hands.

Since she, unlike him, had to concentrate on breathing while running, Elli wordlessly rummaged in her bag and finally handed Dean a tiny, loaded crossbow. Inserted in it, however, was not an arrow, but some sort of black rubber ball.

"Shoot at them, try to hit skin!" ordered Elli.

Dean immediately took aim while still in motion, but he could not keep his arm still because of problems already mentioned.

Something exploded between them and the thief.

Elli saw how Aura was thrown against a wall and apparently slid down it unconscious.

It certainly did happen that something exploded in Brym, but usually only when rival gangs faced each other. Everybody else got faced with the wrath of the inhabitants, traditionally in the form of far superior firepower.

However, apparently not the bald guy who came running toward them with a wolfish grin.

"Don't worry ladies, this will only hurt a lot!"

Slave traders?

Elli saw another woman behind him with silver hair and a fat cigar end in her mouth, aiming a plasma gun the size of a baby bathtub at them.

Not slave traders, they didn't use deadly force, and on top of that, there weren't just two of them. Bounty hunters!

Dean didn't seem to have taken the word "ladies" well, because he slowed down and used his momentum to sink his foot into the face of the bald man, because he was approaching at that exact moment. With only the upper half of his body losing its kinetic energy, the bounty hunter lost his footing and crashed hard to the ground.

"Hmm, better suited to kicking than punching…. What am I going to do about sharks now?" he mused.

"DEAN! COVER!" yelled Elli as the shooter judged him to be the more dangerous target and swung around, aiming at him.

He responded by leaping through the mist left by the explosion. Elli, for her part, had taken cover between two stands.

The silver-haired woman fired anyway.

Elli, not wanting her creation destroyed after only an hour of operation, grabbed an empty bottle lying on the floor and hurled the vessel at the attacker. She dodged the projectile, but was distracted long enough for Elli to run at her with her pan.

With a processing power like Elli's it is easy to anticipate what the opponent would do next, unfortunately she usually was not fast enough to take advantage of this information. This time, however, only small movements were required. Of course, the woman aimed at Elli, but she kept her pan in the line of fire before her opponent even fired. As a result, three shots were wasted and Elli finally got within pan attack range, which she exploited mercilessly.

Knocking the weapon out of the bounty hunter's hand was easy, but the tried and true blow to the temple unfortunately didn't have the effect Elli hoped-for. The target only tilted her head slightly to the side from the force of the impact and switched the cigar to the other corner of her mouth before Elli had to dodge a punch that would have broken her ribs.

She had to be a cyborg…

And she retrieved an even bigger gun from a sub-space.

Fortunately, it was a laser weapon.

Elli held her pan to the muzzle as the woman tried to fire at her. The kitchen utensil heated up as expected, but the handle stayed cold. As guaranteed by the manufacturer.

As well as the indestructibility.

As she intended, the heat became so great that the optical lenses in the gun shattered from the thermic expansion. It was somewhat as if Elli was holding an oven in her hand when she struck again.
The bounty hunter parried with her useless weapon.

"NERO! MOVE YOUR ASS!" she then roared, managing to keep her cigar remnants in her mouth as she did so.

Elli decided to follow her lead.


The man named Nero came staggering back to his feet, only to be surprised by Dean who, after his right foot, now sunk his right fist into his face.

"OW! Why always on the nose!?" the bounty hunter exclaimed as his olfactory organ began to heal.
Dean watched this process with his head tilted, which gave Nero enough time to headbutt him.

Presumably from the unexpected hardness of Dean's skull, he staggered back. Dean, meanwhile, grabbed him by the collar and, with an extremely pissed-off look on his face, retaliated in turn with another headbutt.


His opponent's head was thrown backwards, but he didn't faint.

"Okay! You want the whole thing, you'll get the whole thing!" Nero grumbled.

There was movement under his forehead skin as he now worked Dean over with another headbutt.


The force this time was so great that he was knocked over backwards.

Nero's hands became massive fists, presumably intent on completely smashing Dean. He reared up over his victim.

"Too bad, actually… I don't know which surgeon you used, but you look just dinky. Oh well…"
He lashed out.

At this point it should be mentioned that Dean still towered over him by a few inches, despite his female form, and also had slightly longer legs compared to his normal body.

The left one now moved upwards and crashed with such force between Nero's legs that he was lifted off the ground.


Elli, meanwhile, continued to try to keep Nero's partner off her back. Since her pan was well over a hundred degrees Celsius, she actually had to dodge now to avoid getting burned. Thus unable to access her sub-space, Elli drove her in front of her until the smoker stumbled backwards into an Ulum. This was an alien species made entirely of brown molasses and resembled an oversized praline.

The woman helplessly sank into the alien, which only gurgled in confusion. Ulums can only digest certain proteins, and human flesh was not one of them.

However, it would take a while for the two to separate again.

Elli took advantage of the situation to return to Dean, who was doing his best to kick Nero unconscious.

"Dean, leave it, he's unconscious," Elli called out to him.

Dean obeyed and turned to her.

"What about the woman."

"She's kinda in the middle of somebody right now," Elli explained. "What about Aura?"

Dean looked pained.

"I shot at her and hit her in the neck as I ran across the room, but after that she suddenly disappeared. Like she vanished into thin air. I couldn't see the rage regulator anywhere. What did I shoot her with?"

Elli patted him on the shoulder.

"Aura has an ability similar to mine. She can teleport between realities and times. But it doesn't matter, because what you fired was an interreality quantum sensor."

She reached into her pocket and pulled out some sort of small touch screen from it. She liked what its screen displayed.

"Aura's quantum makeup has been read out, and with this device here, I can track her wherever she is. Come on Dean, unlike me, she can't use her power in rapid succession."

The two hurried to find a location for the Nexus portal.

Ferra's lungs were cybernetically reinforced and she also tried her best not to inhale any cigar smoke, but even though she was fidgeting like crazy and the Ulum was doing its utmost to push her out, she was gradually running out of air.

A hand suddenly grabbed her ankle and pulled.

She got gray slime in her mouth when she could finally catch her breath. It tasted like pomegranate.
She recognized Nero, who helped her to her feet.

"Quite a bit of action," he commented.

"Very different from your sex life, isn't it?" spat Ferra as she stood up.

They both leaned back and pointed fingers at each other.


"But seriously, here, something to clean up," Nero said, handing Ferra a large cloth towel he'd probably swiped from somewhere. "You look pretty slimy. Not as slimy as that monster slime we flattened back in the Mare Imbrium, but pretty close. I mean, you can leave it on if you're into it, but it's not really my cup of tea. I'm more into the tall black haired one from just now. I've never been headbutted so well. I think I'm in love. Do you think I can take her out for coffee after we bag her friend?"

Ferra rubbed herself clean while Nero babbled endlessly as usual.

"Nero, we'd have to find her again for that first. This woman can literally go anywhere. We're looking for a human-sized needle in the biggest haystack imaginable."

Frustrated, she dug out a new cigar and managed to light it on the third try.

"I pretended to be unconscious and stuck an interreality transmitter on her shoe without her noticing. Those pea-sized things. Does that help?"

Ferra almost fell around Nero's neck to kiss him. To her luck, she remembered in time that it was Nero

"All right… Let's get to the ship, Nero, we've got work to do!"

She was about to run off, but then turned back to the Ulum.

"Sorry about just now. You taste delicious, by the way. Take care."

The Ulum bubbled uncomprehendingly.

The Nexus opened in a side alley in downtown Tokyo. Elli stepped out, grumbling, followed by a probably even more grumpy Dean.

"Let's see…" Elli muttered. "If the quantum field detector doesn't lie, Aura is located right…. there!"
She pointed to a small sushi bar squeezed into the little alley.

"Is that woman having lunch right now?" Dean wondered quizzically.

"Who cares, come on Dean, I paid good money for that rage regulator."

The two entered.

Dean had visited a few sushi restaurants, but he had never seen anything like this.

There were some yellow-washed walls, a counter, and a couple of seats where one could watch the chef create the meals. Exotic so far, but still within the realm of normality.

What he had never seen before, however, were the circular tables, each with two people sitting on chairs facing each other, cheering on the spectacle that raged on said tables.

Dean first thought he had caught a virus that was editing his camera feeds, but there were actually two pieces of sushi spinning on each table, circling each other like two fighting spinning tops. And they were colliding like those, too. Among some other effects…

Had one piece just fired its incorporated piece of salmon?

Indeed, the sushi that had been hit sailed off the table with an angry roar from its owner. The obvious loser of the duel picked up the dish from the floor and ate it without objection.

Had Dean been flesh and blood, the sight would have given him bad goose bumps.

"It's disgusting," he whispered to Elli. "How often do you think they scrub the floor here? Let's hurry back, Elli, physically, I may not be able to vomit, but-"

"GOT YA!" shouted Elli at that moment, stomping toward a startled Aura who had witnessed an epic battle between a tuna roll and vegetarian sushi.

"Wha-," she snapped, "How did you find me so fast!"

"I operate on another level, bitch," was Elli's explanation. "Now hand over my regulator!"

Aura rose cautiously, but suddenly a short, older man with a kitchen apron and a pince-nez on his nose stepped between them.

"So what's going on here, ladies?" he enthused.

"I'm getting something back that was stolen from me, sir," Elli explained, wanting to push the little man aside.

But he didn't put up with the treatment at all, instead pulling Elli down to him.

"Hey hey hey! No baseless accusations in these hallowed halls. If you have a dispute, settle it with the house rules!"

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Maehara," Aura thanked him, hiding her face in her hand, flustered.

So no one could see her sneer at Elli.

"What house rules?" Elli asked in annoyance.

"Ha! Comes in here and doesn't even know where she is? Look around you! If you want something from one of my regulars, you'll have to fight for it! With the SUSHIBLADE!"

Dean thought he wasn't hearing right.

Elli, meanwhile, sighed.

"Agreed. But if I win, Aura here will be banned from your house for life, is that clear?"

"What?!" the man exclaimed. "I can't just kick out a regular customer! Are you trying to drag the good name of Takeshi Maehara into the mud?"

"You're already accomplishing that by protecting a thief," Elli countered.

"Hmph, I guess I'll have to teach you a lesson," the chef snorted.

Elli began to grin in a strange way. The kind that would have been well matched by a string of purple kanjis spelling the word "menacing"…

"Ho? Is that a challenge?" asked Elli, dangerously friendly. "As you wish. I accept."

"You're a fool," Maehara said. "You accept before I have dictated the rules. You will compete against me and Aura here, and if you lose, you will leave Aura alone. Maybe that will get you off your high horse."

"And you will go out with me!" Aura added.

The guests turned to the two with interest.

"Fine, but if I win, I get my property back from Aura," Elli said against all reason.

"Agreed," Aura said firmly, her cheeks pink.

Dean facepalmed.

Next time on Nexus:
The Rage Regulator, Part 3

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