It wasn’t much of a plan: hop to another universe, ask around if they knew about Ultras. It didn’t necessarily mean they hadn’t or wouldn’t make contact, but he needed to get away from that constant reminder of what he’d failed to achieve centuries ago on top of that cursed mountain. Away from the intense spiral of anger and resentment those feelings of failure triggered in him.
He needed to give himself space away from those triggers to work through those experiences, or so the doctor had said. The medication should help with the violent mood swings, he felt rather steadier already after just a few months, but the physical damage done by the kugutsu poisoning was far too old to be repaired. Disrupting cycles. Building new habits. Discarding maladaptive coping strategies. Work, work, work.
So one thing at a time. Mood stabilizers, check. Now he’d find a nice quiet place to settle down for a while and work on himself. Somewhere not obviously infested with Ultras. A place where he already spoke the language. A little primitive, so it would be easy to fake documents, but not too primitive. One with a dominant species he could easily blend in with.
And it needed to have good coffee.
This was the third version of Earth he’d visited this week. One was too advanced and he’d been immediately spotted as an illegal dimensional traveler. The last one didn’t even *have* coffee, how do you even develop a civilization with no coffee? This one was earning full marks for coffee, at least. And no Ultras had yet shown up to help the humans who were trying to fight an enraged Gubila with some rifles and some kind of big clumsy robot.
Juggler was sitting on the grassy slope of a berm leading up to the road, sipping his iced coffee and watching the robot try vainly to drive the monster back before it could destroy more of the waterfront. The sun was pleasant yet this morning, although it would probably grow hot later. The robot took a swipe at Gubila’s legs and Juggler jeered.
“Oh come on! You can’t knock it down like that, look how short it’s legs are!” True to his words, the Gubila stumbled but didn’t fall down and fetched the robot a heavy blow in the side with it’s head and drill. The robot staggered sideways, barely recovering it’s balance in time to bodily block Gubila from advancing further inland.
A loud announcement played from a canopy on the flat ground at the bottom of the slope, a computerized voice declaring one minute of power remaining. The robot was landing punches on the monster’s sides, but they weren’t having much effect. It would roar in pain and try to shove past again.
“Oh, big robot gonna let a sickly Gubila beat you? What a shitty weapon.” Jug yelled towards the fight. Someone was running up the slope towards him now.
“You know what this is?” A man in a drab uniform yelled up towards him
“It’s just a Gubila! Have the robot slap it right on the end of the drill a few times, it’ll retreat!” Juggler yelled back. The man must have relayed the instruction because the robot did just that, delivering several open handed smacks to the point of the drill until the monster backed away. It shook its head in confusion and displeasure, pawed ineffectually at its face, then turned and clumsily galloped back into the sea. Juggler took the last sip of his coffee and laid back on the grass to enjoy the sun.
A shadow fell across him soon enough and he opened his eyes. The same human. On the older side for a human, hair and neatly trimmed beard mostly grey. Thick rimmed glasses, a bulky headset around his neck, dull grey coveralls with a nametag and a pocket full of pens. There was something kind about his eyes, even as he stared suspiciously at Juggler.
“Do you mind? I was enjoying the sun.” Juggler didn’t have to be perfect immediately, he reasoned. He could be a little bit of a jerk if he wanted, on the way to being better. The human moved to the other side, taking a seat next to Juggler’s duffel bag.
“You’ve seen that monster before?” The man’s voice was actually very pleasant, now that they weren’t shouting.
“Of course, practically every version of Earth has Gubila.” Juggler teased.
“I see. Will smacking it on the drill work again if it comes back?”
“Probably, it’s disorienting and they hate it more than actual pain. If it comes back it’ll be because of whatever was dumped in the sea around here making it ill.” Jug said, dripping just a little more information like bait.
“Ill, eh.” He rubbed his bearded chin. “That’s a good tip. If it pans out and you’re still around, let me buy you a coffee.”
“Hmm. If I’m still around.” Juggler agreed. The human was interesting. They were an irritatingly curious species, but this one didn’t rise to the bait. He took what was offered and played coy, neither asking for more nor revealing any of his own. Gai’s current
pet human friends would have been practically climbing him trying to find out more and telling their whole life stories at the same time.
The man walked away with a wave, heading back down to the mobile facility that was being rapidly broken down by more humans in dull jumpsuits. Juggler didn’t lift his head, but followed him with his eyes, noting the name on the back of the uniform.
K. Inaba on the name tag.
Perhaps it would be worth remembering. His hand rested on his bag above where a certain grinning plush toy was packed.
Humans could be quite nice, sometimes.