Part 6

As morning arose, Polaris saw a place on the other side of the mountains that looked similar in appearance to the Psychelia he knew, but the structures were more bright and cheerful instead of ominous and foreboding as he had remembered Psychelia. He wondered if this was the Psychelia of that universe, and if the Psyches were willing to help.
Polaris was becoming more and more exhausted as he continued to carry Traveler with him to the borders of the city. Hiding in the forest, he could see the Psyches as they got up to perform their daily duties. He was shocked when he saw that only not was their skin a dark brown, but also they seemed to dress more like Smurfs, with the males only wearing pants and the females wearing skirts. He was also surprised to sense from them a feeling of emotional liberation, as if, like the Smurfs, they were free to express themselves however they wish.
Polaris saw two Psyches, a male and a female, approaching his location, both of them carrying baskets. The male had dark hair and was wearing a goatee, but despite that particular difference, Polaris had the uncanny feeling that he was looking at a warped reflection of himself, that this was truly him in this other universe.
"What did you think of the meal we had this morning, Polaris?" the female asked.
"It was the best meal this one ever had, Cassiopeia, although how could any of the Psyches build on perfection?" the other Polaris answered.
"What I want more than meals is to spend more private time with you, my dear," Cassiopeia said.
"This one knows how you feel, sweetheart, but only the Psyche Master knows when is the time for us to undergo the Rite of Bondship," the other Polaris said.
"I only hope it's soon, Polaris," Cassiopeia said, snuggling up close to Polaris.
"Not to interrupt this feeling, Cassiopeia, but do you sense a being that we're very close to?" the other Polaris asked.
"As a matter of fact, I do," Cassiopeia answered. "In fact, there's two beings, and they both have minds-eyes like we do."
The other Polaris and Cassiopeia came closer to look. They soon found their answer as they saw Polaris and Traveler collapsed on the ground, looking like they were unconscious.
"Great Ancestors, where do you suppose these two came from?" Cassiopeia asked.
"This one does not know, Cassiopeia, but this one senses that the pale-face being...is another version of this one," the other Polaris responded, sounding very surprised when he examined them.
"Another version of you?" Cassiopeia repeated. "Now I'm confused. What does that even mean?"
"We must take them to Medical so that they can revive them and they can tell us what they are doing here," the other Polaris said.
"Well, so much for our berry-picking," Cassiopeia said, sighing with frustration. She and the other Polaris both picked up the two fallen beings they have found and brought them back inside Psychelia.

Meanwhile, Empath arose and saw that Gargamel's house was now busy with activity, as he could see smoke rising from its chimney stack. That must mean that the wizard must be busy with an experiment. He climbed down from the tree he was sleeping in and hurried as fast as he could to reach the window in order to see what was going on inside.
Empath was surprised to see how Gargamel appeared in this universe. Instead of looking old and haggardly, with a balding head, missing teeth, and a ratty dark wizard's robe, this version of Gargamel had a full head of neatly-groomed hair, a full set of teeth, and a clean white wizard's robe, looking as if he was no more than thirty years old. With him inside the castle was a young boy that resembled Scruple, but his clothes and his appearance also looked different. A white furry cat was sleeping near the window on a cushion, looking like he was at complete peace with himself. Empath surmised that this must be the Azrael of that universe.
Empath watched and listened to the conversation going on between Gargamel and Scruple, which seemed to be more friendly than that of the Gargamel and Scruple that he knew, as if they both enjoyed being with each other.
"Master Gargamel, do you think that I can be as great a wizard as you someday?" Scruple asked. "You seem to have completed a lot of experiments successfully, and they all work."
"I have very great confidence that you will be, my boy," Gargamel replied. "It's too bad the Sorcerer's Guild can't see the skill that you have acquired in my years of teaching you the basics of wizardry."
"Yeah, that's a real shame," Scruple said. "I wanted so much to graduate from the Academy, but they all think that I'm a total washout and that I would never amount to much."
"That's their loss and your gain, Scruple," Gargamel said. "Those sorcerers also thought that I would never amount to much. Even my old dear mother, rest her soul, thought that I would never be great. But I have accomplished so much more than even that old dotard Homnibus who serves that no-good King Audric with those two vagabonds, Johan and Peewit. But the one thing I want you to be careful about are those little red creatures in this forest."
"I know, the Smurfs," Scruple said, sounding like he heard this many times before. "I wonder why they're so nasty all the time to us. I mean, what have we done to them that would make them want to always make trouble with us?"
"I don't know, Scruple," Gargamel said, sounding disappointed. "All I wanted was to be friends with them, and I even took care of one of them when he was sick and injured. And all they pay me back with was a lot of mischief and trouble. I even sent them a Smurfette to show that I meant no ill will towards them, and they ended up turning her evil and against me."
"But you're not thinking of getting your revenge against them, are you?" Scruple asked.
"Of course not, Scruple," Gargamel replied. "Revenge is not how we do things towards others who have wronged us. I believe that they will either turn around and become good in the end, or their own evil will destroy themselves. But we will not be the instruments of their own downfall. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Master Gargamel, I understand completely," Scruple said. "I don't ever want to disappoint you."
"I know you won't, my boy, I know you won't," Gargamel said encouragingly.
Then Azrael suddenly woke up and spotted Empath at the window. He shrieked very loudly and ran straight up Gargamel to stand upon his head. "Azrael, you poor creature, what is the matter with you?" the wizard asked.
"Gargamel, look toward the window," Scruple said, pointing in that direction.
Gargamel looked toward the window and gasped in horror. "Oh no, it's a Smurf!" he cried out. "Stay back, you miserable creature! Don't make me have to hurt you!"
"Gargamel, this smurf is not the Empath Smurf that you know of," Empath tried to say through the window pane.
"No! I don't trust you!" Gargamel yelled, picking up his magic wand and aiming it at Empath, who dodged every single bolt that was discharged. "You're just playing a game with me, and I will not take the bait!"
"Gargamel, stop!" Scruple said, grabbing his arm. "That Smurf doesn't look like any of the others. Maybe he's telling the truth."
"A Smurf telling the truth? Ha, like that will be the day!" Gargamel scoffed in disbelief, shaking Scruple free from his arm as he continued firing his wand. One of the bolts ended up striking Empath, knocking him unconscious.
Gargamel looked down at the Smurf he just blasted with his magic wand. He began to feel a great sense of remorse as he looked and saw that this Smurf was indeed different. He had never seen a Smurf who had blue skin before.
"By the horns of Beelzebub, what have I done?" Gargamel cried out.

Polaris woke up and found himself lying on a bed in what appeared to be the medical facility of that universe's Psychelia. He also saw the face of his other self looking down upon him as well as his female companion Cassiopeia.
"Thank the Ancestors you're awake," Cassiopeia said, sounding relieved.
"Who are you, and where have you come from?" the other Polaris asked.
"This one's name is Polaris Psyche, and this one is from a different universe, as is this one's companion," Polaris replied. "How is he...?"
"He is stable for now, but we are not sure of what we are able to do for him, since we have never seen a being like him before," Cassiopeia said.
"And this one has never seen a Psyche like you before either," the other Polaris said. "This one senses something very different about you, as if you're afraid of your own emotions and how to express them."
"And this one senses that you're not afraid to express yours," Polaris said. "But is that what the Psyche Master commands all of your Psyches to be taught?"
"The Psyche Master does not command us to do anything, he leads us like a gentle father," the other Polaris said. "We are simply his children, created for his own good pleasure, to enjoy life just as it was intended for us."
"Your Psyche Master seems like a very cruel taskmaster, from what this one can sense of you," Cassiopeia said.
"That would be a very interesting and also accurate description," Polaris said as he sat upright in his bed. "Can the Psyche Master help Traveler recover?"
"It is possible, my fellow Psyche," the other Polaris answered.
"But that requires us to bond together in a mindlink that only the Psyche Master can control," Cassiopeia added.
"And we do not know how that will affect us, if we can even help you in your other desired goal," the other Polaris finished.
"This one does not desire for any of the Smurfs of this universe to be hurt, but they intend to do harm to the people of this one's own universe," Polaris said.
"The Smurfs? You mean the Progenitors?" Cassiopeia said, sounding like she didn't want to mention them.
"We don't like mentioning the Smurfs around here because they are reminders of the very people the Psyche Master does not want us to emulate," the other Polaris explained. "He believed that the Smurfs should live for doing good and not harming any creatures that aren't themselves, but the Smurfs rejected him because of that belief and sent him away. He chose to create us to become the very beings that would live the way he desired to Smurfs to live."
"This one apologizes for bringing that to your memory, fellow Psyches," Polaris said. "But if we do not find a way to stop these Smurfs from harming others, not only in your world but also in mine, how would you Psyches be able to live with yourselves?"
"It is not up to us to decide who lives or dies in this world, Polaris," the other Polaris said. "We are here to protect life, even if that life does not reciprocate in return."
"But protecting life also means we prevent others from harming lives, even if it that means doing the unthinkable when necessary," an elderly voice chimed in.
Cassiopeia and the other Polaris saw as a robed bearded being entered into the medical facility, walking very slowly, as if his very presence commanded respect. "Oh, Psyche Master, we do not mean to offend you," Cassiopeia said as she and the other Polaris humbled themselves before him. "Forgive us."
"There's nothing to be forgiven, my child, for you know the way of the Psyches very well," the Psyche Master said. He looked at the Polaris that was from the other universe and studied him carefully. "Strange that he looks very much like a Psyche and yet so different. I guess you're not used to seeing your Psyche Master in a way that doesn't strike fear into your very being."
"You're the only version of the Psyche Master that I have ever seen face to face, Psyche Master," Polaris said.
The Psyche Master smiled. "I am pleased to meet you nonetheless, even if the circumstances are grim. You have a friend from the other universe whose life is failing. He is a time traveler, and if he is not restored, he could die, and your very journey in the world you came from would come to nothing."
Polaris nodded. "Is there any way that you can restore him, Psyche Master?"
"If you can believe, Polaris, all things are possible to the one who believes," the Psyche Master answered.

Back in Gargamel's castle, the good wizard along with his apprentice and his cat were watching Empath to see if he would awaken, with Gargamel praying that his life would be restored. Soon they could see Empath stirring, slowly opening his eyes and looking at the three who were looking at him for any sign of life.
"Gargamel, I can explain why this smurf is here," Empath said with some difficulty.
"What are we going to do with him, Master Gargamel?" Scruple asked.
"We're going to let him explain himself, Scruple, since this Smurf isn't the same as the ones that we normally deal with," Gargamel answered. He then turned to Empath and said, "I'm sorry, my little Smurf, for how I treated you. I'm so used to being tormented by the Smurfs that I haven't forgotten how it feels."
"This smurf accepts your apology, Gargamel," Empath said. "But the reason this smurf came is that there's a mirror in your forest that brought this smurf and my friend here into your world."
"Our world? You mean you didn't originally come from this forest?" Scruple asked.
"We come from a world where the Smurfs are generally friendly and care for all sorts of creatures we come across, Scruple," Empath said.
"Smurfs that are friendly? But that's impossible...unless that mirror you're talking about is the legendary Mirror of Janus," Gargamel said.
"Mirror of Janus? What is that?" Scruple asked.
"This mirror is actually one of two mirrors, both with the same design and both created in two different universes as a portal between them, Scruple," Gargamel answered. "This other universe must be a Mirror Universe to our own, where everything is the mirror opposite of what exists in our own universe."
"Actually, to this smurf's point of view, this universe seems to be a Mirror Universe," Empath corrected.
"Whatever," Scruple said, not caring who is right in that argument. "Anyway, is there a way that we can send Empath and his friend back to their own universe?"
"The only way those mirrors can work is if they both occupy the same location in both universes, Scruple," Gargamel replied. "Otherwise, if either mirror is moved out of its location, then it can only be used for a one-way trip between the universes."
"Now we have a problem, Gargamel," Empath said. "The Smurfs of your universe want to use the mirror to enter into this smurf's universe and take over everything that is in it. We have to stop them."
"What do you mean 'we', Empath?" Gargamel said. "I don't mean to sound like I'm nasty or anything, but dealing with the Smurfs from this world should be your problem. I don't want to have anything more to do with those Smurfs."
"Yeah, those Smurfs are real troublemakers," Scruple said. "Even Azrael can't stand having them around."
"This smurf doesn't want to be a judge of your life, Gargamel," Empath said. "If that's how you feel about the Smurfs of your world, then this smurf and Polaris would be honored to stay here and help you defeat them, for however long that would take. But if we don't seal that portal shut before those Smurfs use it, you're endangering more than just your own universe to their evil."
"You're willing to help me defeat the Smurfs?" Gargamel said, not believing what he was hearing.
"Why would a Smurf want to help a human defeat a Smurf?" Scruple asked.
"You're already disliked by the Smurfs for just being good," Empath said. "If you're going to wait for those Smurfs to change and become better people, you might as well wait forever. But that will be a lot of weight on your conscience for all the harm they will cause if they are not stopped."
Gargamel sighed. "I don't like what I feel I have to do, but if there's anything I can do to stop this Smurf evil from spreading, I will do anything you ask."