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Armando handed the pure gold arm to the Elder Alchemist, who set it in the middle of the circle inscribed in the sand. The arm glowed, dissolving into pure Aether, and sparkled into the air. A watery portal appeared in the air.

"Will this get us home?" Armando had had enough of this weird desert void.

Ruslav closed his eyes. "It should. Though the shaky Aethers of this location may distort your journey slightly."

Armando shrugged. "Course there's a catch." He picked up the cactus and threw it through the portal like a dodgeball. "See you on the other side, poky."

The younger Armando was the next through, followed by Ruslav himself. Lastly the older Armando walked through the bubbling circle.

A whoosh, the scent of rainfall, and a crinkling feeling later, and Armando emerged. He looked around at the metal and stone all around him, his stomach sinking at the realization that he was here alone. He turned around, and dropped the arm gun he was holding.

Behind him was a window hundreds of feet wide, looking out into the blackness of space. I'm on a goddamn spaceship. Armando pulled off two more arms, made of amethyst and bismuth, and wandered through the ship.

For some reason, every mural and diagram on this ship depicted some kind of dinosaur. He stopped by one particular sapphire mosaic depicting a brilliant blue tyrannosaur, wielding a sword and a glowing axe. Why did it look so familiar to him? Armando continued on.

After passing by miles of empty rock-and-glass pods, he heard voices echoing from around a corner. One was hearty and accented, and the rest were silky smooth yet inhuman.

"- assist in a quest? But of course!"

"Your help would be greatly appreciated. A legendary hero of the future, fighting beside us, is already a boon too great for us to have imagined. But two? The heavens shall remember this day long after the stars die."

The first voice belonged to a tall man dressed in shining silver armor from head to toe. A lance was in his hand, and his mustache spiraled out from his open faceplate, above his smiling face.

He turned and called out to Armando in Spanish. "Don Rivera! Friend, come, you must accompany me and my fine new companions on our quest."

"Who are you?" Armando cocked his head.

"I am Don Quixote de la Mancha, virtuous knight!"

The companions walked out from behind the knight; a zoo of assorted Cretaceous dinosaurs, most standing on two legs. They had articulate hands, and piercing, intelligent eyes.

Guy who thinks he's Don Quixote. Dinosaur spaceship. Just roll with it.

"These strange creatures need our help. Will you lend your aid, fellow knight?"

Armando considered it for a second. If he didn't, he'd probably just get thrown out an airlock. Best to play along until he could figure out how to steer the ship home.

"What sort of noble knight would I be if I didn't? Pray tell, what is this quest?"

Don Quixote led Armando to the main bridge of the ship, where Pachycephalosauruses sat in rows typing at screens. A 3D hologram in the center of the room showed the ship approaching a very large asteroid. A tiny dot flew parallel to the ship, towards the rock.

Don Quixote bowed slightly. "I will let my friends explain." A Parasaurolophus wearing an ornate green robe walked up on two legs, and emitted a shrill hum from its crest.

"We welcome your help, hero. Our sworn enemy's greatest stronghold is located here," the dinosaur motioned to the asteroid, "and is preparing for a full assault on our homeworld. This ship and its crew are all that stand between them and it. Even with the might of this craft, the Khitall, the battle will still be difficult. We reached into the loops and gaps of the Weave to call for aid from nearby worlds and realities, and our summon was answered by this warrior and yourself, as well as another legendary warrior, who will meet us upon the battlefield."

Don Quixote motioned towards the display. "The outer shell of this rock appears to hold many fearsome and terrible creatures. Our friends will engage them while you and I plunge into the heart of the fortress and destroy it from within!"

Armando cocked his head. "If I assist you in this… quest, will you return me to my home afterwards?"

The Parasaurolophus nodded. "Of course. We know you have yet more battles to fight on your own world. You will be returned safely once our enemy has fallen. Jelrikam will lead you to the hangar, for we approach the adversaries."

A stocky, red Triceratops wearing studded metal armor and a cape grunted and led Armando and Don Quixote to the lower deck.

Armando looked around. Hundreds of fighter craft lined the enormous hangar, and dinosaurs of all sorts checked diagnostics, loaded crystals into slots, and climbed into cockpits. Jelrikam motioned towards a small, red, single-seat ship, shaped like a Pterodactyl. Armando opened the cockpit and looked at the interior. "How the hell am I supposed to fly this thing? I can't even drive! And there's no controls!"

Jelrikam did the dinosaurian equivalent of a sigh. "Place your hands within the slots." Armando did so, and immediately felt the sensation of hundreds of fibers tightening around his hands. "What-"

"These allow one to directly influence the Weave immediately around the ship, allowing the ship to move and maneuver as fast as you can think. It will work as well as you believe it will."

Armando detached the arms, leaving them embedded in the sockets and jumped out of the ship. Don Quixote was walking towards him. "Hey, you. Where's your ship?"

"Hahaha! Good knight, I have no need for such contraptions. My noble steed will carry me," he nodded over to where a plain brown horse was tied to a post, "as he has done through all my quests."

"…Right. So, you're actually Don Quixote? Like, from the book?"

The knight threw his head back and laughed. "Who else would I be? My friend, you may be new to the way of chivalrous knights, but surely your life of adventure would prepare you for anything. I knew you would be up for this task; I saw the virtue within you."

Armando lowered his shoulders. "I'm not a knight, sir. Neither am I virtuous."

"The first, perhaps not yet. No one is born a knight, they must become one. But you fail to see the bright, shining light within yourself. A man who fights for those he cares about, and risks everything to do so? A man who would help those in need? Those are the hallmarks of any true knight. You have had setbacks, and losses. Every man does. But only a knight gets back on his feet, saddles his horse, and rides forth again."

Armando nodded. "Thank you."

A loud alarm rang through the hangar. Glowing lines along the ceilings pulsed red. Dinosaurs jumped into their ships, and the hangar doors slowly opened. Jelrikam shouted over the commotion. "We have arrived, warriors."

The voices of the dinosaurs, and Don Quixote, echoed as one. "I call upon the Wisdom of Kelmura, the Might of Armalore, the Hope of Palsinnor, and all the Whiteshroud Power of the Fytew! May the rope of the Children of the Valley not fray today."

The starships poured out of the sides of the dinosaur asteroid and assembled into formation. Armando followed their lead, steering his ship with two hands while working on a complex kinetoglyph with more he had summoned. Don Quixote rode his horse, impossibly galloping on empty space.

Jelrikam's gruff voice came over the speakers. "They will be upon us soon. Do not break formation until the Warrior arrives."

Just as Armando was going to question exactly who this Warrior was, a horrific creaking sound (Armando didn't think to question why he could hear it) came from the gigantic gray asteroud. Chasms opened up along its surface, and a cloud of gray dots diffused out. Each dot glowed, and as they grew closer Armando could see that they were grotesque, twisted stony creatures with wings, like a hybrid between a chewed piece of gum and a gargoyle.

The Khitall's miniature star engine blazed, and it accelerated towards the asteroid, flanked by the fleet of dino ships. Plasma turrets lining the larger ship began to spray into the swarm, turning thousands of asteroid monsters into molten dust and gas.

Armando looked at the ships closest to him. One was piloted by a featherless raptor of some kind, and was covered in glowing streaks. The other was a big, blue, bulky ship resembling a whale with wings, piloted by an ankylosaur.

Jelrikam's voice returned. "All squadrons, report." The captains checked in, one by one. The ankylosaur began, in an oddly feminine voice: "Nulltaria, Wind Legion, confirm- did you feel that?"

One second of heavy silence, then Jelrikam spoke. "He is here."

A streak of white light flashed across the night, weaving past the ships and shooting straight through the swarm. The streak curved to the right, and a shockwave pulverized a cubic mile of scattered asteroid creatures.

Armando twisted a finger to ask the sensors to zoom in on the entity. The bottom corner of his windshield projected a holographic image of a person in an astronaut suit.

Nulltaria gasped softly. "I had heard of his legends. But to see the Champion of the Moon, in the flesh… breathtaking." She ignited her engines and led her legion into the cloud. "Onward! The Champion has cleared a path, we must breach the surface!"

The rock monsters regrouped, and began closing the gap Moon Champion had punched open. Nulltaria and her legion sped through, lighting up monsters with plasma cannons, while Don Quixote somehow kept up, shattering the creatures with his lance.

The Khitall's molded tyrannosaurus mouth opened, and concentric waves of plasma rippled through the cloud, clearing more pathways. Legions of dino ships descended upon the surface of the asteroid, firing gravity missiles into the chasms to try and collapse them.

This proved futile, as every closed chasm resulted in a new one immediately opening. Nulltaria deployed a Planck mine and rendered a half-mile-wide sphere a soup of quarks and light. "We are not making progress in halting the advance. Commander Rabbakor, orders?"

The Parasaurolophus was cut short by a resonating yell, as the Moon Champion circled in a wide arc, then fired its jetpack and flew straight for the asteroid.


Moon Champion's fist connected with the rocky surface, sending spider webs of cracks throughout the asteroid. Several huge fissures appeared, and for an instant it looked like the asteroid would split in half.

Unfortunately for everyone, it did something much less preferable, and hatched.

Space itself shuddered, as cracks continued to fracture the asteroid's surface. Chunks of it drifted outward, and the rock unfolded to reveal a colossal, four-winged dragon a thousand miles wide. As the dragon's wings extended, a gray wave of rock creatures burst forth from where the interior of the asteroid had been.

Commander Rabbakor blew a shrill trumpet from his crest. "ONWARDS!"

The fleet of dino ships engaged, and the front edges of their wings glowed with purple, crackling light. Nulltaria led her legion towards the neck of the dragon, the purple edges slicing through rock creatures like a fire hose through paper.

Armando followed along, not knowing how he was able to keep up. Whether this was a dream, or reality, it was the most excitement he'd had in his life. He looked to the left and saw Don Quixote still riding his horse. The knight turned to Armando.

"Don Rivera! I know how to defeat the dragon!"

As if it heard that, the dragon beat its lunar wings and sent a shockwave rippling towards the fleet. Several dozen dino ships exploded, the emergency systems encasing the occupants safely in amber until they could be retrieved. Don Quixote was struck, and sent flying.

Moon Champion rushed to the fray, uppercutting the dragon with a titanic punch. Showers of space rock erupted from the new crater as the dragon recovered.

"I will not let you harm them, foul monster! An attack on Earth and its creatures is an attack on its Moon, and I WILL DEFEAT YOU!"

The dragon swung its head and batted the spaceman away towards the Khitall. Moon Champion called out to the ship. "Reptile men! We must destroy the monster's wings! To me!" He flew off towards the dragon again, the Khitall at full speed behind him. Laser cannons fired continuously to keep the swarm at bay. Commander Rabbakor called to the ships. "Harvest maneuver!"

The remaining ships flew close to the deadly wings, letting loose a storm of black, metallic needles that embedded themselves into the crumbly rock. The pilots quickly flew out of the area as the molded tyrannosaur mouth of the Khitall began to glow.


A red, white, and green spiral beam shot out of the mouth of the ship, disintegrating stray rock beasts in its path. The dragon shielded itself with its wings, and the brilliant beam impacted the wing with an eruption of light. Bursts of electricity spread throughout the wings, carried by the black needles, which all exploded.

The beam broke the rock down at a microscopic level, and traveled through the entire wing, carried by the detonations of the specially made spikes. The dragon roared in pain as its wings dissolved into dust. Angry, it opened its mouth, charging a burst of glowing blue fire.

Commander Rabbakor hit the console. The energy surge from firing the Lattice Breaker had knocked out the engines temporarily. "Put everything we have into the forward shields!" He wasn't confident the diminished shields would be enough to protect them, but he had faith in the heroes.

Right as the dragon was releasing the fireball, it jerked its neck to the right, as Don Quixote shattered its eye with his lance. The fireball was still released, and grew in size as it flew. There was no way it wouldn't hit the ship.

The booming voice returned.

"The Knights' efforts are not in vain, for they fight beside me. These beings are from Earth, and live and breathe and shed under the same Moon. I am the Moon's Champion. I am all Moons' Champion, and they are my companions. No Moon Monster is safe, while I soar the skies! Now DIE, FALSE MOON!"

Moon Champion swooped into the path of the fireball and blocked it with his hands, pushing against it with all his might. The fireball dwarfed the shiny speck, but was still pushed back, faster and faster, until at last Moon Champion let go and let the miniature blue star fly back at the dragon. Unfortunately, Don Quixote's lance was still embedded in the fractured eye, as the fireball flew back at the dragon's face.

Armando peeled off from the legion and swooped towards the dragon's face in his own ship, going as fast as he willed the ship to go, and frantically completing the kinetoglyph with the cockpit full of arms. He hit the emergency eject, and the arms surrounding him dissolved into a skintight yellow film protecting him from the vacuum of space.

The ship continued to fly, piloted by the two arms Armando had left in the sockets, while Armando anchored himself to the ship with adhesive arms. He pulled off arm after arm, forming a chain about two hundred arms long, then swung the chain at Don Quixote. "Grab on!" Don Quixote broke off the handle of his lance and took hold of the chain, which rolled itself up to bring the knight and his horse aboard. Armando closed the cockpit again, and repurposed the arms to form two rudimentary engines, burning borane and hydrazine arms, to boost the three of them out of the way of the fireball.

At the last second, the dragon roared, and the entire swarm of rock gargoyles flew as one, forming a perfectly circular shield to take the hit. The star exploded, sending ionized pieces of rock monster flying and destroying a good portion of the dino fleet.

Moon Champion breathed heavily under his helmet. His jetpack had damaged itself from overexertion while pushing the star back, but now that the swarm was gone, he could kill the dragon with no distractions, if he could only reach it. Armando steered the ship towards Moon Champion's free floating body and he grabbed onto the rear of the wing.

Commander Rabbakor's voice crackled through the comms. "Whiteshrouds, Champion, it is all left to you. The fleet has taken heavy losses, and the Khitall's engines have not yet restarted. We can lay down suppressing fire at best, but the victory is in your hands now." Armando looked at the spaceman and the knight. "We've got this." Don Quixote grinned. His friend would truly be a knight, yet. Moon Champion bristled. This Moon Monster would fall, that he was sure of.

Don Quixote mounted his steed. Armando ripped off two metallic hydrogen arms, and jammed them into the Champion's jetpack, before sitting behind the knight. Moon Champion ignited the makeshift fuel source, and pushed the horse from behind. The horse galloped impossibly fast, and shot towards the dragon.

Commander Rabbakor ordered every weapon that was still online to distract the dragon, and a hurricane of miniature neutron stars, gravity inverting missiles, plasma bolts, and crystal drills spewed from the dinosaur ship towards the dragon's face.

Through the physics-breaking explosions and lights, the dragon was unaware of the band of misfits charging towards its heart.

The Moon Champion was first to speak. "My friends. Today you have truly proven yourself worthy of the title of Earth Champions. I am honored to fight beside you."

Don Quixote corrected him. "Earth Champions are known as Knights, good friend."

"Of course! How foolish of me. Knight of Arms, you too are a stalwart ally."

Armando closed his eyes. He wasn't even sure he could do what he was thinking, but he had no time to doubt. As if reading his mind, Quixote spoke softly. "You're a hero now, Don Rivera. And the hero always wins."

At the last second before impact, Armando pulled off an arm made of a naked singularity and affixed it to the handle of Quixote's lance, before veering the horse left.

The Moon Champion grabbed the impossible lance and thrust it into the dragon's heart with all his might.

The dragon exploded in a blinding supernova of light, because Armando hadn't taken any quantum physics classes.

This is an entry for the Original Character Tournament. My opponent's entry will be linked here when it is posted.

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