Chapter 10 – Smile and Wave
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The tracks shifted and trudged forward at a steady pace. Once again, Axxel could not tell how long it took – it felt like a combination of forever and not-so-long.

Eventually, Outpost was there.

The train had arrived.

Of course, the barrier that shielded Outpost created a weird spatial effect that felt like moving through an ocean of jello, but the sensation only lasted a couple of seconds.

Actually, given the sketchy nature of everything inside The Speed Force, Axxel was inclined to believe the barrier was non-existent.

It could have been a trick of his mind since everyone tended to describe the barrier in a different way. Yet, nobody felt the need to complain because there was no other choice.

Outpost was the only humanoid village in Savage World.

Yes… Humanoid… not exactly human!

There were several villages in The Savage World, but the creatures that founded such villages varied greatly – there was a fundamental difference in intelligence amongst established villages.

In some places, eating humanoid beings was only natural.

In some places, the existence of gravity was considered poisonous.

In some places, only creatures that could photosynthesize were allowed inside.

The most terrifying village, in Axxel’s opinion, was the home of the Faceless – beings that had no face and, hence, could not be identified.

Axxel had learned long ago that anytime he was sent to trade with another village, there was no telling what he may encounter.

It never hurt to be respectful – just not too respectful.

Thomas had once tried to send The Aspiring Speedster to the Faceless village and had it not been for Jules’s intervention, Axxel would have already battled the muscular man to death.

…. Though, it would probably be his death.

Axxel shook his head free of the wayward thoughts, and examined his surroundings to ensure he was not trapped in an illusion or something similar – one could never be too careful and inhaled the sweet, tingling air of Outpost.

Outpost, though considered a village, was more like a city built purely for aesthetic purposes – almost as if the place was made up of all civilizations to ever exist.

This had telltale signs of someone making it.

Something ancient.

Something here before everyone else got here.

As vast and incomprehensible as Outpost was, it had few inhabitants occupying the grand structures. Axxel had seen a couple of hundred people at most.

Though, Jules had warned Axxel that some of the more powerful guys liked to remain hidden, waiting for a battle worthy of their time.

Axxel dreaded to think what type of battle that would be.

Jules made it sound like the secret masters were hiding in some inconspicuous cave cultivating the secrets of The Speed Force!’ Axxel cursed in his mind.

When the thought struck, it immediately stifled The Aspiring Speedster because such thoughts were likely to be true. Anything was possible inside the Speed Force.

Axxel departed the tracks.

Ancient architecture…

Classical architecture…

Medieval architecture…

Futuristic constructs…

Cyber-lines pulsed with blue energy between crevices of walkways, and lightning snaked through the air, powering each building that floated a couple of inches off the ground.

Axxel had no specific notable abilities aside from his enhanced physique, but even then, he could feel the energy saturating the air as if a hurricane was surrounding everything.

But it was energy…

Pure, unbridled, energy of The Speed Force rumbling above…

More than once, Axxel could see advanced tech hanging outside of homes, and the thought to steal from the villagers would pop into his mind, but such a thing would never end well.

There was bound to be a microscopic surveillance system somewhere.

Or maybe, given the chaotic nature of time inside The Speed Force, the past, future, and present would collide, projecting an image of the moment you stole something.

There was a slight chance of getting away with the crime.

Axxel, who had the memories of normal earth, surprisingly adjusted to Outpost as if he was a fish in water – everything and anything was possible in his mind, so nothing truly put him on edge.

Not many people could say they slugged Darkseid, even if the Dark God of Apokolips didn’t budge a bit.

Still, as beautiful as it was, Outpost was a very confusing experience for someone like Axxel – a military man who turned Casanova near the end of his life.

One moment, Axxel would be walking beside a hut, and the next moment, he would be floating on a hoverboard, and the next next moment, he would see people in medieval armor battling.

Axxel felt as if he was walking from the past into the future in a literal sense.

It was only a couple of months ago (or at least it felt that long), he was rescued by Jules and nursed back to health – something he would forever remain grateful for.

Jules had bandaged his wounds.

She had tended to his health and mental wellbeing – God knows how crazy Axxel felt the first week of his stay in Outpost.

But even as much as Jules tried, Axxel’s left leg was not salvageable… everything below the knee had to be amputated. Though, that wouldn’t make much of a difference in a place as technologically advanced as Outpost.

Of course, when he woke up after the surgery, Axxel went on a rampage, but Jules put him down in ten seconds flat. And that was considering he had Captain America’s level of strength due to his new physique.

How exactly strong was Jules then?

Axxel hoped he would never truly find out.

Honestly, it physically pained Axxel’s heart to lose a foot when his ultimate goal was to become a Speedster. Maybe he can run on his hands? The possibilities should be limitless as a Speedster.

Axxel could imagine it sometimes – the first cripple speedster to run on his hand. He didn’t know if it would be an inspirational story or a joke amongst Speedsters all over the Multiverse for billions of years.

Yet, it was hard to enjoy life with your dreams shattered so Axxel clung to the final dregs of his hope, no matter how embarrassing such futures would be.

It had to be known that Speedsters could regenerate from severe injuries, and while he had never heard about a Speedster regenerating entire limbs, the possibilities were endless in the Dc Universe.

“Everyone, gather for debriefing!”

A shout from Jules caused all the small groups to converge in a nearby building. The building seemed small on the outside, but as Axxel entered through the door, he could feel the air twist as the building’s interior enlarged.

This was the debriefing hall – a temple fractured from some unknown timeline saturated with magic. Magic-Users amongst the explorers were few and far between, but the saturation of magic inside the temple gave everyone a pleasant feeling, magic-user or not.

Jules stood atop the podium, and Axxel and everyone else took their seat on the ground, wherever space was available.

It took a couple of minutes for the nearly three hundred Explorers to settle down, but when everyone was settled, the atmosphere quickly grew tense.

“This was a wonderful fucking hunt…” Jules's vulgar voice broke the tense atmosphere, and everyone cheered for a couple of seconds before going silent. “But we lost a few people as well…” Jules continued.

There was silence…

“But we still have warriors to pump full of cum!” Jules shouted in a more excited voice than before.

Everyone simultaneously groaned.

They all knew what she meant, but there was definitely a better way to word the statement, and it also didn’t help that Anissa was the only one to cheer for the statement.

“I mean… we have people to acknowledge for bravery in battle…” Jules quickly corrected herself and introduced the first warrior to receive their accolades. “Miki-Bamba, come for your spoils… this warrior ripped the windpipes of five cyber-Dinos with his teeth. Please, never bite a pussy with those incisors!”

Miki-Bamba pranced up to the podium, all the while flashing his shark-like jaw for all to see exactly how he had killed Cyber-Dinos.

A shade of red appeared on his cheeks – Jules's comment could even make a grown, shark-like, man blush.

Everyone flinched in awe, but Axxel was completely different. His thoughts were the same as Jules’s – no wonder they got along so well.

“Doesn’t his teeth cut his tongue when he eats a pussy?” Axxel wondered, feeling Miki-Bamba had wasted his potential as a man.

Miki-Bamba walked to the podium and took his spoils from Jules then quickly departed back to his seat. Unlike what his ferocious teeth would have people think, Miki was a very shy person.

“Next – the woman with thighs that popped the heads of three Were-Xenomorphs…” Jules cooed, sounding jealous of the dead Xenomorphs. “Welcome, ChaCha MariaHosa Trqui-Mani-Pali!”

“What kind of name is that?” Axxel ignored all the cheering and turned to Stewart who sat next to him.

Stewart shrugged, indicating he also didn’t know, but now Axxel knew Stewart had reverse-vision, so he wasn’t sure what meant ‘yes’ and what meant ‘no’.

A huge woman exited the crowd, walked to the podium, and recovered her goods, then similar to Miki, she departed for her seat.

“Shimmy-in-yo-mama!”

“Tala!”

“Simon-says!”

“Chloroform!”

“The Calculator!”

The ceremony continued uninterrupted until all Warriors essential to the previous mission were properly rewarded. Then it was back to the usual business.

Jules waved her hand in the air and a map was projected on the walls of the temple. Several areas were highlighted on the map, but the majority were still blank.

“The highlighted areas show where we have ventured…” Jules pointed at specific details on the wall, and Axxel frowned in contemplation. “We have mapped significant portions of Savage World – not everything but enough to ensure we won’t die needlessly… but we all know Savage World is not all there is inside the Speed Force.”

“Where else is there?” Jerico asked, carelessly interrupting Jules’s speech as he caressed the two sword hilts on his lap.

“The Speed Force is infinite, but so far we have noted a large landmass across the ocean…”

“The one infested with mythical creatures like Kraken, Amphi-Beyonders, and generally immortal terrors?” Anissa asked innocently, unaware her statement made everyone’s faces scrounge.

“I wouldn’t put it exactly like that-” Jules paused when she saw nobody was willing to continue the conversation, so she moved on to the next order of business. “We have several members retiring from the group at this time… please stand and make your way to the exit.”

Around twenty warriors stood up and exited the temple after receiving a sack full of technological goods. Axxel expected the debriefing to continue after the men left, but everyone sat in silence as if waiting for something.

“What is everyone waiting for?” Axxel turned and asked Jerico who simply pointed at the entrance of the temple.

About a minute later, fifteen of the twenty warriors who initially left, returned to the temple, taking up a seat at their previous locations.

“What’s happening?”

“Retirement means ‘suicide’ here… the men that come back means they were not able to pull the proverbial trigger,” Stewart responded, and Jerico nodded.

“And nobody stopped them? Don’t you help warriors who lose their will to live?”

“Would you send an immortal to a human therapist?” Thomas scoffed, speaking for the first time since debriefing started. “The immortal has more problems than the therapist can solve in her lifetime.”

“That-” Axxel paused as his eyes opened wide in surprise. “That was the first time I heard you say something that actually makes sense!”

Thomas smirked. “Is that a challenge I hear in your voice, boy?”

Jerico, Stewart, and Anissa signaled Axxel to answer no, but he was never someone to back down from a challenge.

“Depends on the stakes – I already took your girlfriend, the only thing you have left is your Dignity and I can’t fuck that.”

“You can if you really wanna,” Thomas shrugged, eyeing Axxel from head to toe. “I am not averse to fucking a man – it was pretty common where I came from…” he admitted.

Axxel’s face turned expressionless. There was no appropriate way to respond to Thomas’ statement. In the 21st Century, even if you didn’t support Homosexuality, it was best to keep such opinions to yourself, lest you be despised for a lack of ‘Human Decency’…

Hence, Axxel learned how to deal with such comments a long time ago – smile and wave… just smile and wave.

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