HFO Post 31 opens with Seraphim feeling a selfish sadness at the absence of Acidspitter, who was left on Earth in HFO Post 30. In this melancholic mood, she suddenly screams with terror as a rat appears before her, yet again being Benjamin Mahir in rat-form. Judge chastises Seraphim for her continued rat-phobia, while Qhobeg thinks Benjamin need to learn not to go near Seraphim when transformed. Seraphim explains that this is a real phobia and she is not being childish, stating she is disgusted by Benjamin even when he turns human, which prompts him to sarcastically give thanks. He then prompts everyone to consider simply enjoying the universe instead of trying to save it. He believes that, perhaps, the universe doesn't need Hero Force One to save it and that nothing bad will happen to it, just as it has continued on existing without Hero Force for aeons. Qhobeg thinks this is surprisingly cold-hearted for Benjamin, while Flax Hyperon thinks it is cowardice. He is concerned that by helping, they are actually making it worse. He believed that by using the likes of the Reset Button or the Deus Ex Machine, they might cause another catastrophe and destroy what they are trying to save. Judge, however, says that her body runs fine, but when it is sick she needs medicine. She compared Hero Force One to the medicine and Seraphim agrees, vehemently, with her. Qhobeg thinks that Benjamin has a point, but he doesn't think he could enjoy the universe should they allow the Earth, or the galaxy, to be destroyed through inaction. Dr R. Deep tries to stop the existential crisis when Judge shouts at Benjamin, but Benjamin is disgruntled that he's only in the group because they won't let him leave. Deep confesses that Benjamin is the longest-surviving Company Kid and that it would be a knock to morale if he left. Judge says this is because Benjamin skulks around, hiding from danger. Benjamin offers to go away and continue skulking, which prompts Magick Snowflakes to beg everyone to stop fighting because they are friends. This urges Seraphim to declare that they are not friends at all, merely colleagues in the team, deeply hurting Magick. Hearing this, Deep, again, demands that the argument be dropped, Seraphim shouts even at him, which shocks even Judge, the most argumentative person on the team. Judge reaches out to Seraphim and she calms down. With some semblance of calm restored, Deep thinks they need to go for therapy again, at which Qhobeg reminds them that last them they were forced to play banjos - prompting everyone to laugh at the memory and begin to sooth wounded prides. As the team moved on, Seraphim approached Benjamin. She reiterated that she cannot stand by and watch everything burn and do nothing. He concedes he doubts he could do that either, but he continues to express his fear that they are making things worse.

Post

Crisis

Seraphim, after telling her tale, allows her head to droop. She cares for the universe and the lives of everyone in it, but she realises that the sadness she feels was a selfish one. She misses Acidspitter. Right when things seemed to be returning to happiness between them, they're separated by an immense space that may never again be breached.

Somethings big, brown and fuzzy scuttles by her foot.


Seraphim: "YEEEEEAAAAAARGH!!!!"


Hero Force One all leap to their feet, ready for action... until they see Seraphim has, once again, freaked out because she was startled by Benjamin Mahir in his rat-shape.


Judge: "You really need to get over this childish rat-phobia, Sera! You scared the stuffing out of everyone!"


Qhobeg: "And Ben needs to learn not go to near Seraphim when... ratted... ratified... ratisised... like that!"


POOF!


Benjamin Mahir stands before them again.


Benjamin Mahir: "Right, right! Super powerful angel, fearless against all except... me."


Seraphim: "And any real rats. And it's called murophobia[Ext 1], Judge. My skin still scrawls just looking at you, even now, Benjamin."


Benjamin Mahir: "Thanks. Wonderful to know you find me that repulsive... Guys, just a question, but, have you ever considered just... enjoying the universe instead of always trying to save it?"


Everyone stares dumbly at him.


Benjamin Mahir sits on the rock that Magick Snowflakes had vacated when she jumped to action a moment ago.


Benjamin Mahir: "The universe has existed for... aeons. Long, long before any of you existed. And guess what. It did just fine without you. It didn't explode. It didn't get sucked into some... time hole. No time monsters ate it. No black ooze consumed it all. It trundled along until present day. I don't think the universe really needs saving. It will get along just fine, one way or the other. Maybe, we should just consider... enjoying it."


Magick Snowflakes: "But, Ben! The galaxy is in trouble! This whole cluster could be... destroyed! How many planets are here, how many people? And what about the Earth? It could be destroyed too!"


Benjamin Mahir: "What will be... will be."


Qhobeg: "Whoa. Now that was cold-hearted."


Flax Hyperon: "Talk of a coward."


Benjamin Mahir: "Yes. You're right. That was kind of uncool. I don't really mean that. But... I honestly feel like... we make things worse. I don't think we really help. I mean, we do... but because we do, something else happens. Something worse. The Eep monster? The Eep is, what, drawn to the world because of the actions we do? The Reset Button, the Deus Ex Machine? They're probably going to cause some new catastrophe that we'll have to sort out! Maybe, if we just relax, the universe will right itself. And if it doesn't, that's because it's supposed to be this way..."


There's a brief moment of silence as they think of his words. But Judge breaks it.


Judge: "No. You're wrong. My body works just fine for the most part, but you know what? Sometimes I get sick. I need medicine to help fight a flu, or whatever. And guess what? One day, I'll die. But I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I die a long, long time from now. When trouble in the universe rears its head, we're the medicine to fight it. And I'm going to keep fighting to keep this universe alive until either one of us dies."


Seraphim: "Judge is right. Just because something has lasted a long time, doesn't make it immortal."


Qhobeg: "You know, I actually agree with you Ben. But at the same time, I kind of think... if we do nothing, and the galaxy, or Earth, is destroyed... how could we enjoy the universe? How could anyone else enjoy the universe?"


Benjamin Mahir: "Alright. I get it. I stepped over the line here, and now I'm enemy number one."


Judge: "Damn right!"


Judge sticks two fingers up at Benjamin.


Dr R. Deep: "That's enough. Existential crisis over. Evidently most of us are committed to what we do."


Benjamin Mahir: "No need to defend me, Deep. We all know I'm the black sheep in this crowd. I don't fit in, never have and never will. I'm unnecessary and I'm only stuck with this gig because you won't let me go."


Dr R. Deep: "You're the longest-living Company Kid we've ever had. It's bad for our publicity when we keep losing them..."


Judge: "Yeah, but we all know he survives because he skulks away from all the danger. Admiring the universe that we're protecting, I suppose."


Qhobeg: "Okay Judge, I think you made your point. Why don't we lay off?"


Judge: "Are you kidding me?"


Qhobeg: "Bullying Ben isn't saving the universe."


Benjamin Mahir: "Qhobeg, don't argue on my behalf. It's fine, I'll go back to skulking."


Magick Snowflakes: "I don't like all this fighting. Please can we stop?"


Judge rolls her eyes.


Judge: "You really need to grow up, Snowflakes."


Magick Snowflakes: "What? So now you're going to pick on me too? We're all supposed to be friends!"


Seraphim: "We're a team, not friends. We work together for a purpose. That's all."


Magick's eyes widened until they practically leapt from her head.


Magick Snowflakes: "I-Is tat really what you think? I thought..."


Flax Hyperon: "You know, all this bickering only serves our enemies? Maybe we could leave the soap opera until after we save the universe?"


Qhobeg: "Who asked you? You're not even in this team!"


Dr R. Deep: "Enough of this, Flax is right. This pettiness can wait."


Seraphim: "I don't believe it is pettiness! The only rule of a team is that we are all on the same page. We have one common goal. Right now, it seems we are not all on the same page."


Dr R. Deep: "I said enough!"


Seraphim and Deep stare at each other. The moment lasts on until everyone is uncomfortable. Even Judge had never considered standing up to Deep before and, though she and Seraphim were two of the closest members of the team, even Judge didn't like this turn of events. Questioning Deep would be like questioning the Hero Force One itself.

Judge reaches out and touches Seraphim's arm. The contact of human skin seems to relax the angel and she relents. She turns from Deep and watches the pink water slowly ripple by.


Dr R. Deep: "Once this is all over, I think we all need a little group therapy."


Qhobeg: "God no! Don't you remember last time!? They made us play... banjos!!"


Judge and Magick start laughing as memories resurface. Even Benjamin couldn't help but snicker at the thought. Then, one by one, they left the small patch of beach. Dr R. Deep, Judge, Qhobeg, Flax Hyperon, Magick Snowflakes.


Seraphim: "I understand your wish to watch the beauty of the universe, Mahir..."


Benjamin stands up from the rock and comes up beside Seraphim to watch the water.


Seraphim: "...but if you appreciate its beauty so much, how can you then watch it all burn? How could you stand by and allow this to be taken away?"


Benjamin Mahir: "There's so much more out there, Seraphim. Why should we save the Earth all the time when there are billions of other worlds just the same that don't get saved. And when we're gone? Who will save it then? For how long will it last? It's all so... inevitable. So instead of fighting the inevitable, why not just appreciate what's already here?"


Seraphim: "Because I couldn't watch it burn. The trees, the water, the people. I couldn't stand and watch them die. I'd have to stop it. Stop their suffering."


Benjamin Mahir: "I know. I honestly don't think I could either. But what I really fear is trying to stop them burning... because of something we did..."

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External References

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