|The following content contains depictions of torture and discussion of suicide. Please proceed at your own discretion.|
|WARNING: PROFANITY FOLLOWS|
|The following content contains profanity that may not be suitable for readers of all ages. Please proceed with caution.|
|Season 1, Episode 5|
Re X Mix
Trial X Fire
Law X Order is the fifth episode of Tech Cross.
Teresa woke up in a cold sweat. She had been bolted to a metal table through her wrists and ankles, while her missing arm had somehow reappeared. She apprehensively tried pulling against her restraints, as painful as they were, but was met with a sudden bolt of electricity shooting through her body when she did so, drawing out a pained yelp.
“Oh, you’re awake.” Blitzkrieg turned away from a computer station on the other side of the room to look at her. “First thing’s first, there’s a motion sensor in that table aimed on your back. If you move, it’ll send a good few amps of electricity through ya. Not enough to kill you, but enough that you probably want to avoid it if at all possible.”
“Wh-where am I?” Teresa asked, trying extremely hard not to panic. “What do you want from me?!”
“My office and nothing, respectively.” Blitzkrieg replied flatly. “Believe me, this wasn’t my idea.”
“But why am I here?” Teresa pressed nervously. “Wh-what are you trying to do with me?”
“That’s a complicated question, but basically, you know the parts of your brain that give you free will and shit?” Blitzkrieg grabbed a large can off his desk, drawing out some scratching sounds from whatever was inside. “Yeah, my client wants me to neutralize those.”
“You’re going to lobotomize me?!” Teresa’s eyes widened.
“Do I look like a brain surgeon?” Blitzkrieg tsked. “No, we’re doing this...well, analog-style, I guess.”
He reached into the can he was holding and pulled out a medium-sized rat with a tiny camera strapped to its head.
“You have any idea what you can do with a rat, a can, and some gusto?” Blitzkrieg said. “Something I wouldn’t be able to repeat if this Evolvyrn didn’t have regenerative powers.”
Teresa paused for a moment, trying to think through this situation as calmly as she could given the circumstances. Regenerative powers? That probably explained why she had her arm back, but what exactly was he planning with the-
Her train of thought was interrupted as Blitzkrieg pulled up her shirt just enough to expose her stomach and placed the rat down, covering it with the can. The feeling of the rat running on her skin drew out an involuntary twitch, leading to another painful jolt of electricity. This agitated the rat, which began scratching at the can on top of it as Blitzkrieg grabbed a couple more items from his desk.
“This shit is pretty expensive, so try not to break any of it.” Blitzkrieg grunted as he strapped a strange headset onto her that forced her eyes open, then placed a pair of glasses over it.
The glasses powered on, immersing Teresa’s field of vision in a dark, metal space. The movement of what she was seeing seemed to sync up perfectly with the movement of the rat, quickly prompting her to realize she was seeing through the camera on the rat’s head.
“Medieval classic with a modern twist.” Blitzkrieg stated, placing a hand on the can and pressing it firmly into Teresa’s stomach. “You wanna know something interesting about rats?”
Blitzkrieg began heating up the can from the top using a controlled burst of flame. Within seconds, the metal began searing Teresa’s skin. Doing her best not to move, she stayed quiet and grit her teeth, hoping this would be over soon.
“See, when you put a rat in an environment where it’s gonna get cooked alive, it panics and tries to claw its way out.” Blitzkrieg continued. “Common sense, really. Thing is, most rats can’t chew through metal, and right now, this one’s surrounded by it top, left, and right. I’ll give you three guesses as to what surface it’s gonna try to go through, and the first two don’t count.”
Teresa’s stomach dropped as she saw the view through the camera point downward. Unable to close her eyes, she was forced to watch the rat start carving a path through her stomach. Her screams and spasms as it chewed through her flesh activated the motion sensor, delivering more painful jolts that served to agitate the animal even more, driving it further into her stomach. No matter where she turned her head as she struggled, she was unable to see anything other than her flesh being ripped open from the inside.
“Come to think of it, it’s not gonna be able to get out from under you, so I guess it’ll have to chew through one of your sides on its way out.” Blitzkrieg mused. “I guess we’ll see which way it goes.”
“TAKE IT OUT, TAKE IT OUT, PLEASE!” Teresa screamed, almost delirious from the pain. “I CAN’T- I CAN’T-” She was cut off by her own screams, unable to form coherent words as the rat began digging its way through her intestines.
“I hate to break it to you, but that’s the point.” Blitzkrieg pushed harder on the can. “By the end of the day...well, let’s just say you’re going to wish we stuck to the rat thing.”
“Okay, why are you here?” Isaac asked.
Isaac’s group walked down the seemingly empty halls of the airship, tailing Plague as he silently moved forward.
“You know this guy?” Napoleon asked.
“Lucius Raivent.” Isaac grunted. “I just got out of a meeting with him, remember?”
“I never indicated to you I even had the ability to transform.” Plague’s torso turned around, facing his eye to Isaac as the rest of his body continued walking forward. “How exactly did you recognize me in an alien form?”
“It’s your color scheme, dude.” Isaac said. “You’ve got that whole purple/black theme going.”
“You can’t seriously claim to have recognized me solely on that basis.”
“Dead serious.” Isaac shook his head. “You see these guys? His primary color is orange and he uses orange nanomachines,” he jabbed a thumb at Napoleon, “and her main color scheme is purple/magenta and she uses a purple/magenta Omnitrix.” He pointed at Moranna.
“And what about you?” Plague questioned. “Your primary colors are blue and gray, but you use a green Omnitrix.”
“I like to think of myself as more of an outlier than the standard.” Isaac shrugged off the question. “And for the record, same question you asked back at you: how did you recognize me when we boarded? I never told you what aliens I had.”
“I have my ways.” Plague replied flatly.
“That doesn’t explain anything.”
“I’m not obligated to.”
Isaac rolled his eyes and tapped on the SpecTrix’s touchscreen, bringing up its communications mode and making a call.
“Yo, Aquadilus?” Isaac prompted. “How many living DNA signatures we looking at on this ship?”
“Not including your immediate group...” There was a pause on the other end of the line as the sound of keyboard letters clacking could be heard. “One.”
“One?” Isaac scowled. “Why the hell would they keep this ship so understaffed?”
“They didn’t.” Plague interjected. “You got here late. By the time you boarded, I had already used this transformation to fumigate the ship with a deadly neurotoxin. The fact that there’s still one left is surprising.”
“Motherfucker you what?” Isaac snapped. “The hell did you do with all the bodies, then?!”
“Certain pathogens can consume every part of a living organism.” Plague replied bluntly. “I wasn’t able to clean up the bodies you saw before you got here, but it was distributed around the ship fairly evenly.”
“Wow, I really do not care for you.” Isaac’s expression soured.
“It’s efficient, at the very least.” Moranna noted.
“Yeah, but even putting aside how bad it is morally, it kinda sucks the fun out of it.” Napoleon kicked the ground dejectedly. “I wanted to get in some badass fight scenes...”
“Direct conflict should be a last resort, not your first.” Plague stated.
“In my opinion murder should be a last resort and not your first, but go off I guess.” Isaac snorted.
“Alright, who’s the asshole?!” Verramortem’s voice suddenly came thundering through the ship’s loudspeakers. “You realize airships need a crew to function, right:?!”
“That was the point.” Plague responded.
“Wait, which hallway did that-” Verramortem paused as the sound of rapid clicking could be heard on his end of the line. “Ha, found you! Lucius Raivent, that’s you, isn’t it? I was warned you might object to my BootLocks.”
“And who exactly warned you of that?” Plague narrowed his eye.
“Our boss.” Verramortem replied. “And no, before you ask, I’m not telling you who that is.”
“Why not? Scared we’ll find them and beat the shit out of them like last time?” Isaac taunted.
“Not necessarily, although that would be inconvenient.” Verramortem grumbled. “He’s working on something very important right now and would prefer to remain uninterrupted.”
“Hate to break it to him, but interrupting things is kinda what we do.” Isaac snorted.
“I am keenly aware of that, you little pest!” Verramortem snapped. “That’s why I’m not telling you who he is!”
“Feels like this conversation kinda just looped back around, doesn’t it?” Napoleon commented.
“The only loopy thing around here is that guy.” Isaac sneakily jabbed a thumb at the speakers and was quickly met with a high-five from Napoleon. “Heyo!”
“Are all of your conversations this inane?” Plague scowled.
“Yes.” Isaac replied with a smug stare.
“Are you beginning to see my problem with these people?” Verramortem groaned. “At any rate, all four of you have sealed your doom by stepping onto this ship in the first place. Once its security systems are activated...”
Red lights and alarms began blaring as motion-detecting turrets lowered from the ceiling and the corridor segment the group was standing in was cut off by several automated doors slamming closed in front of and behind them.
“No intruder can escape this ship alive!”
“Why didn’t you just activate the security systems before we got here?” Isaac asked bluntly.
“Why don’t you just shut the fuck up.”
Christine and Emilia sat on opposite ends of Emilia’s couch, with a pot of steaming tea and some cups placed on a coffee table sitting between them.
“Let me tell you, this stuff is great.” Emilia said. “I don’t know how much caffeine is in it, but it can get me through an all-nighter like that.” She snapped her fingers.
“I think you’re energetic enough without the caffeine.” Christine said. “It’s not bad, though.”
“See, that kind of attitude right there is why you need some of this.” Emilia poked. “I bet you’re grouchy because you don’t get enough sleep.”
“I’ll have you know my grouchiness is extremely complex and varied in origin.” Christine tsked. “My sleep schedule has nothing to do with it.”
“Christine, as cute as you are when you’re tired, you really need to get more rest.” Emilia chuckled. “Trust me, I’m a doctor.”
“Not a medical doctor.” Christine pointed out. “I think I’ll stick to advice from my physician.”
“Oh, you have a physician?” Emilia raised an eyebrow.
“No.” Christine slammed back the rest of her tea and placed her cup back on the table.
“One of these days, all this stress is gonna come back to bite you.” Emilia made a biting motion with her hands. “If you drop from exhaustion on the job, I’m gonna drag you back here and make you rest.”
“Good luck with that.” Christine chuckled. “I’m built like a brick.”
“And all the better for it.” Emilia winked.
Christine moved to respond, but suddenly remembered something and snapped her fingers.
“Oh, right, I hope you don’t mind, but I asked the kid you gave the CrossTrix to to meet with us later.” She said. “I’d like to have a talk with both of you.”
“About what?” Emilia asked, tilting her head slightly. “Did she get in trouble?”
“Then everything should be fine, right?” Emilia picked up the pot on the table. “More tea?”
“Emilia, please, try to focus.” Christine rubbed her temples. “This is serious.”
“Alright, okay, focus, I’m focusing.” Emilia placed the tea pot down and shook out her arms before turning her attention back to Christine.
“Thank you.” Christine sighed. “Look, this kid- Teresa Challice- I don’t think it’s right to place this kind of pressure on her.”
“What pressure?” Emilia looked confused. “Did I say something I shouldn’t have?”
“No, it’s not you, it’s the Omnitrix.” Christine said. “Just having one of those things is going to give someone a sense of duty, and it seems like she already has some sort of complex about wanting to be useful to people. I told her I want her to be more careful about using it, but if I’m being honest, I’d rather she not have it in the first place.”
“Well, that’s really up to her and CROSS, not me.” Emilia shrugged, taking a sip of tea. “They’re their own people. I can’t tell them what to do.”
“But it’s an Omnitrix you made!” Christine snapped. “Be an adult here, for God’s sake!”
“Teresa isn’t far from turning 18.” Emilia noted. “She’ll be her own adult in just a few weeks.”
“The technicalities are not the issue here!” Christine slammed a fist down on the coffee table. “Just because you got abandoned at 18, that doesn’t make it okay to do to someone else!”
Emilia went silent and assumed a blank stare, slowly placing her tea back down on the table. Christine’s expression fell from anger to concern as she realized she had taken it too far.
“E-Emilia, I’m sorry.” Christine said. “I didn’t mean...”
“No, no, you’re right.” Emilia took a shaky breath and closed her eyes for a moment to collect herself. “I...I get what you mean.”
Christine tried to think of something to say, only for her work phone to go off in her vest before she could speak.
“Hello?” Christine answered with the phone. “This better be important, Burns. You know I’m on my time off.”
“I’m well aware, but there’s been an Evolvyrn incident not too far from your location.” Burns replied on the other end of the line. “Normally I wouldn’t call you for this, but we have security camera footage, and...it’s Crow.”
“Crow?!” Christine suddenly bolted to her feet.
"A few years back, the Global Police snuck a mole into the Raivent family's criminal syndicate." Christine said. "They caught wind of it and hired Crow to find out who it was. He ended up getting the drop on me during a raid on one of their warehouses and tried to interrogate me for the information."
Christine scowled as she recalled the experience.
"Thing is, he's got a talent for shooting right at your weak spot." She continued. "Motherfucker breaks both of my legs and then sets them in splints backwards so if I don't talk they'll end up healed wrong and I'll be crippled for life. Obviously the GP managed to bail me out before that happened, but it's safe to say if I ever saw him again it'd be difficult to refrain from wringing his goddamn neck."
“The footage shows him using the Blitzkrieg Evolvyrn to kidnap a young adult. We’re still trying to identify the victim, but they seem to be somewhere in their late teens.”
Christine’s blood ran cold. It couldn’t be-
“What else?!” Christine demanded. “Was there anything else at the scene?!”
“Crow tore off the victim’s left arm and left it at the site. The arm seems to be wearing a gauntlet of some kind. We’ll send you some photos from the crime scene.”
Christine’s phone buzzed as the images arrived, prompting her to pull it away from her ear and look at them. Her breathing stopped as she saw them and realized what she was looking at.
“Christine?” Emilia noticed the uncharacteristic horror on Christine’s face. “What’s going on?”
Christine wordlessly turned her phone around to show one of the images to Emilia. On her screen was a clear image of Teresa’s disembodied arm wearing a broken CrossTrix. Emilia snatched the phone to look at it in more detail, stunned into silence at the sight.
“Christine, are you there?” Burns’ voice crackled quietly through the phone’s speaker.
“Yeah, I’m here.” Christine said, gently taking the phone back from Emilia. “Do you have any leads?”
“None other than Crow’s past record.” Burns replied. “Taking that into account, it follows that someone must have hired him to do this.”
“Hired him?” Christine repeated. “What kind of person would hire Crow of all people and have something against-”
Christine cut herself off as something clicked in her head.
"Malincious Crow, a CIA officer turned hitman." Christine replied. "He mostly did work for Raivent's organization before he got caught."
Lucius began walking towards the key, ignoring Christine's death glare along the way. As he got within a few feet of them, however, Skyjack stepped in his path.
"What are you doing?" Lucius raised an eyebrow.
"Are you seriously going to keep letting people get hurt just so you can turn a profit off Evolvyrns?" Skyjack pressed. "What makes you think that's okay?!"
Lucius looked Skyjack up and down with a flat expression and then leaned forward and tapped on the CrossTrix dial.
"I may be wrong on this, but I don't think someone like you should be against the common man being granted alien powers."
Lucius pushed Skyjack out of the way and picked up the EvoKey before turning around and walking back to his limousine.
"A word of advice," Lucius said to Skyjack before getting in. "You seem a bit naive for this whole business. If someone like you keeps heading down this path, you won't be getting to the other side without any scars."
“Get a list of every Raivent-owned property and get the warrants you need to search them.” Christine ordered. “I’ll be headed to the GP’s Salt Lake offices to pick up the ones applicable to this area. Alert the local police as well. I want everyone we can get tracking down this son of a bitch.”
“Understood.” Burns stated. “Crow is already a high-priority case, so there shouldn’t be as much red tape to go through.”
“Good.” Christine said. “I’ll call you for an update when I get to the offices.”
With that, Christine ended the call and threw her phone back in her vest. She began to run for the front door, only to be grabbed from behind by Emilia.
“Christine, wait!” Emilia pleaded. “I-I have something I’ve been planning on giving you!”
“Emilia, this is not the time!” Christine snapped. “I need to leave! If it’s something that important, just come with me and talk about it on the way! We need you to get any data you can from the CrossTrix anyway!”
“I- alright, got it.” Emilia nodded nervously. “I’m coming with you, then. I can’t just sit on the sidelines for this one.”
“So, as soon as we move, we’re gonna get shot.” Isaac eyed the guns hanging down from the ceiling. “Napoleon, this one’s on you.”
Napoleon used Swarm 1 to construct a shield around them. The sudden appearance of the object set off the security system, but the guns’ bullets simply bounced off of the reinforced metal.
“What exactly is your power set?” Lucius questioned.
“Unclear.” Napoleon shrugged.
“If you’ve got a bulletproof transformation, now’s the time to use it, edgelord.” Isaac said, pulling up the SpecTrix. “We’ve got some work to do here.”
Lucius wordlessly raised the EvoGun and slammed a key into it, pulling the trigger and transforming into Detonation, who slammed the spikes on his fist into the floor below and pumped some venom into the ship’s hull.
“Yeah, okay, whatever.” Isaac rolled his eyes. “Napoleon, lift the shield when we’re all transformed, got it?”
After a few moments, the shield went down and the four of them burst out into the hall. Moranna had transformed back into Briiz, with Isaac and Napoleon using PHAcid and Iron Wrecker, respectively.
PHAcid launched sprays of acid from his body that melted down the guns firing at them and the doors trapping them in.
“Now we just gotta figure out a way to the bridge so we can get Verramortem out of the picture and take this ship down.”
“Why not just blow up its battery or something?” Iron Wrecker asked.
“It’s wirelessly powered by the towers they’ve been planting.” Detonation stated. “There is no onboard power station to destroy.”
“Wha- how the hell would you know that?” PHAcid demanded.
“As I’ve said, I don’t owe you an explanation.” Detonation gave him an annoyed glare. “My abilities are none of your concern.”
“HA! It’s an ability! You said it yourself!” PHAcid laughed. “Alright, alright, you’ve got some kinda super spying power, good enough for me.”
“If that’s how you’d like to describe it, you’re certainly free to do so.”
“So, what are ya?” PHAcid pressed. “Some kinda alien hybrid or something?”
“Again, none of your concern.” Detonation’s eye twitched, with this conversation beginning to severely test his patience. “I am no alien, I’ll tell you that much.”
“Technically, we’re all aliens right now.” Iron Wrecker piped in.
Detonation slowly turned to look at him with an expression somewhere between bewilderment and fury. In spite of his extraordinarily emotionless demeanor, these people, these...absolute morons, were somehow managing to get on his nerves, completely baffling him and making him question his view on the universe.
“I think we’re ignoring the fact that we need to find out where the bridge is before any of this.” Briiz interjected.
“I already know where it is.” Detonation said. “I wasn’t simply wandering through the halls without purpose earlier.”
“Yeah, I guess that makes more sense.” PHAcid tsked. “So, where is it?”
“Down a level and 10 o’clock northeast of us.” Detonation moved his arm to emphasize the route. “Given the intentionally maze-like structure of this airship, it may take us a significant amount of time to-”
“Nah, we already got a path.” PHAcid interjected
“What are you-”
PHAcid pointed out a large hole in the wall. Deep inside, tunneling his way through the ship, was Iron Wrecker, wearing some sort of muffler construct to drown out the noise.
“Honestly, I’m just surprised he thought to use a muffler this time.” PHAcid sniffed. “Subtlety is not his strong suit.”
After visiting the GP offices and getting the go-ahead with several search warrants, Christine was on her way to the scene of the crime in her squad car with Emilia in tow to pick up the CrossTrix.
“You’ll need to take me back to my lab after this.” Emilia said. “I won’t be able to fix him without my equipment.”
“Got it.” Christine nodded, keeping her eyes on the road.
The two fell silent for a few moments.
“Oh, so that thing I wanted to give you...” Emilia suddenly snapped her fingers and reached into her pocket, pulling out a golden lock with an eagle emblazoned on the front and a matching key. “I already had it on me, actually.”
“A lock?” Christine gave her a skeptical glance. “Emilia, you know you’re not supposed to be making more Evolvyrns.”
“It’s not an Evolvyrn, just a straight DNA sample.” Emilia shook her head. “It’s called the SpecOps Lock. Sample’s Astrynomian. They’re a species known for their police work.”
“Alright, I see where you’re going with this.” Christine sighed. “You think it would be a good idea for me to use it?”
“Well, yeah, of course.” Emilia replied. “If you’re fighting Evolvyrns all the time I feel like...well, the odds should be a bit more even.”
“That’s what my suit’s for.” Christine said. “I’m not sure I’d even be allowed to use a lock in the field.”
“I know, I know, I just...” Emilia sighed. “I feel like I should do something.”
“Why?” Christine asked.
“Like you’ve said, I’m the one who created the Evolvyrns, and I need to take some kind of responsibility for that.” Emilia closed her eyes for a moment. “I mean, like Blitzkrieg, it...Blitzkrieg was supposed to be a medical tool!” She clenched her fists together. “A walking first-aid kit that could cauterize wounds, regenerate destroyed tissue, and apply defibrillation, not...not this!”
“It- it’s fine, I’m fine.” Emilia took a deep breath to calm herself down. “All I want is for someone to finally use these things to help people for once. That’s all I ever wanted out of this in the first place.”
Christine took one last glance at the lock and continued driving. Using the power of a lock to help someone?
Maybe it was possible.
Teresa had exhausted every possible option.
She had begged and pleaded for it to end until her tongue had been cut out of her mouth in small, diced chunks. Her screaming and various methods of mutilation constantly tore at her vocal cords, leaving her intermittently mute as the torture continued.
Her face had been flayed and had its exposed flesh slowly burned away. Her fingernails had been torn out, with her bleeding fingers being crushed by thumbscrews before the remains were severed from her body. Boiling water had been poured onto her until her skin began to fall off. Her limbs had been unceremoniously smashed with a hammer, crushing her bones to dust.
Right now, her left eye was gradually being boiled by a large needle that had been shoved through it and was being heated with a controlled flame. All in all, the whole process of destroying her body took about five minutes.
Having all the damage repaired with Blitzkrieg's healing ability took about one.
The order and the instruments used to carry out the torture were essentially random, making it difficult to predict. Even if it was predictable, Teresa was certainly in no state to be thinking about it, with the constant infliction of pain having completely broken her mind. It was the only thing she knew at this point, and she began to doubt her memories that the world outside of this had ever existed at all; assuming it did, what did it matter? The only thing she wanted now was death.
And yet, she was refused.
Iron Wrecker exploded through the hull of the airship into the bridge, startling an unprepared Verramortem. Isaac, Moranna, and Lucius followed him in short order, having detransformed in order to fit through the hole.
“Hello again.” Isaac shot a smug grin at Verramortem. “Did you miss me?”
“In regards to my weaponry, apparently so.” Verramortem growled, activating hidden missile launchers in his armor. “Allow me to correct my mistake.”
Verramortem fired the missiles, only for each of them to be shot out of the air and explode in his face as Moranna fired her pistol in kind.
“Sorry, no make-up work allowed here, bud.” Isaac tsked. “You gotta just live with the F.”
“Or live with the L, as it were.” Moranna followed up on the jab.
“Oh my god, I could kiss you right now.” Isaac exaggeratedly put a hand over his heart.
“What, are you saying you couldn’t do it any other time?” Moranna poked back with a slight smirk.
“I am a 24/7 makeout official.”
“Stop flirting and die already, morons!” Verramortem snapped, firing a massive laser from the middle of his armor’s chest.
Isaac and Moranna rolled out of the way while Lucius simply opted to sidestep the attack.
“Before we destroy this airship, I must insist you tell me exactly who you’re working for.” Lucius tapped on the side of the EvoGun for emphasis. “For the record, that’s not a request.”
“You know what, if it’ll keep these idiots distracted for five seconds, fine!” Verramortem hissed. “You’ll all be dead once this airship reaches its full power anyway!”
“You launched it before it was done charging?” Isaac raised an eyebrow.
“To test-run the thrusters, you absolute cretin!” Verramortem screeched. “I’m done! I’m fucking done! With all of you! You wanna know the boss’s name?! FINE! Enjoy your deaths as sponsored by Sephtis fucking Raivent!”
The room fell silent for a moment
“I feel like that would have more an impact if any of us knew who that was.” Isaac sucked air in through his teeth. “This ain’t it, sis.”
“...You’re lying.” Lucius suddenly spoke.
“About what?” Verramortem questioned. “I can assure you this airship truly does have the destructive power to-”
“I don’t care about the ship!.” Lucius snapped, his pupils narrowing into slits. “You said you were under the command of Sephtis Raivent!”
“What, do you think dear old dad is somehow above doing such a thing?” Verramortem taunted.
“Sephtis Raivent is DEAD!” Lucius yelled.
There was another moment of silence.
“I’m fairly sure he was alive when he was giving me orders.” Verramortem responded.
“That man died years ago!” Lucius’s eye began twitching. “I was there! I SAW HIM BURN!.”
“Uh-” Isaac tried to interject.
“Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you must not have seen him right.” Verramortem shrugged Lucius off. “The man’s perfectly alive and well.”
“I don’t think you fully grasp the situation here.” Lucius growled. “Sephtis. Raivent. Can. Not. Be. Alive.”
“Well he is, so shut the fuck up and stop whining about it!” Verramortem spat.
Lucius snapped his neck to the side with a loud crack as his sclera turned to pure black.
“Oh, Jesus Christ, dude, that’s nasty!” Isaac wrinkled his nose as Lucius began stumbling backward. “What the hell are you doiHOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK-”
Without warning, everything suddenly went dark.
“Squad four, have you found anything?”
Christine’s car raced through the streets of the city, jumping from search site to search site in a desperate hunt for clues. Hours had passed already, with the light of the sun giving way to the hollow illumination of streetlights. She checked in on the police radio regularly, wanting to be present as soon as possible if something was discovered.
“Not as of yet.” One officer’s voice crackled through the radio. “We’re still trying to-”
The officer was suddenly cut off as the radio switched to loud static before abruptly going silent.
“If you’re trying to find Teresa Challice, I can lead you there.” Oberon OS’s voice came in through the car’s speakers. “Assuming you want to recover her, that is.”
“That voice...” Christine snarled. “You’re the thing that took over that construction worker’s body, aren’t you?”
“Correct.” Oberon OS replied. “I am not inherently hostile to you, so it would benefit you to work with me in this instance.”
“Like I’d fall for that.” Christine hissed. “Why would you want to help me in the first place?”
“I don’t.” Oberon OS stated bluntly. “However, certain complications have arisen that require your attention.”
“I’m not stupid, you know.”
“Indeed, your intelligence quotient has proven rather high during testing.” Oberon OS said. “Analyzing this situation logically, I am so far your only potential lead, and even if I were to be lying, the search efforts in general would not be compromised. You run the risk of entering a trap; however, this danger may be mitigated through several methods. What is the intelligent choice to make at the moment?”
“...Alright, fine, I’ll hear you out.” Christine growled. “But don’t expect me to be going in alone.”
“That would be for the best.” Oberon OS replied. “This is not a one-person job.”
Oberon OS silently observed through the camera on one of Crow’s monitors as he carefully threaded a needle through Teresa’s eyes, holding her head still with his other hand. Once the thread was thoroughly embedded in both eyes, he grabbed the length of string connecting them and pulled, slowly tearing them from their sockets. Teresa’s hoarse cries of agony were abruptly stifled as he shoved her eyes into her mouth and clamped her jaw shut, forcing her to swallow them or choke.
“Y’know, I’m starting to run out of tricks here.” Crow grunted, walking over to his desk. “Maybe we call it good for the night and start refreshed in the morning.”
“There are a multitude of common torture methods you have not yet utilized.” Oberon OS stated. “For example, mutilation of-”
“Shut the actual fuck up with that shit.” Crow scowled. “I’m a professional. I don’t go after the cheap spots, especially not on a fucking minor.”
“I do not see the point of attempting to maintain a dignified image in the current situation.” Oberon OS chided.
“Let me tell you a little something about humans you clearly don’t understand.” Crow tsked. “Whether they know it or not, everyone has their own set of rules to live by. I can handle dealing with shit like this because it doesn’t violate my own rules. I have certain principles, is what I’m saying.”
“Useless things.” Oberon OS said. “You are nothing more than machines crafted from flesh and blood. This concept of ‘principles’ is inherently flawed.”
“Y’know, nuts and bolts, I’m doing a favor for you here.” Crow rolled his eyes. “Don’t get fuckin nitpicky with me.”
“I suppose it won’t matter either way in a few moments.”
Crow raised an eyebrow.
“The hell is that supposed to mea-”
The security alarm on Crow’s computer suddenly went off, switching the screens to display a camera view from outside his base of operations. A squad of police pulled up and began surrounding the perimeter, directed by Christine herself.
“Wha-how the hell did they find me?!” Crow demanded. “Nobody should know where this except-”
“How long did you think I would allow this charade to carry on for?” Oberon OS questioned.
“Excuse me?” Crow’s left eye began to twitch.
The various monitors on Crow’s desk shut off and then on again, displaying nothing but a robotic eye that gazed forward with an unfeeling mechanical stare.
“I recovered the schematics for this you attempted to erase from your hard drive.” Oberon OS stated. “The electrical pulse running through your machine was designed to kill the subject after a randomly determined number of shocks, making it appear as if the death was an accident. I disabled that part of the programming, of course.”
“You gotta be fucking kidding me!” Crow’s pupils shrunk. “Are you telling me this was all pointless?!”
“Hardly. The actions you took in an attempt to deceive me still went a long way towards my goal.”
“Oh, you are a son of a bitch!” Crow snapped, quickly grabbing a backpack and stuffing things into it. “If I hurry, I can probably relocate before the police get insi-”
He was interrupted as the door to the room suddenly exploded open, revealing Christine with a gun pointed out straight in front of her.
Christine abruptly stopped as she caught sight of Teresa’s maimed body bolted to the table. Horror turned to unparalleled rage as she slowly turned her head to look at Crow.
“...Fuck.” Crow muttered.
Christine fired, sinking a few rounds into Crow’s chest before rushing over to Teresa. She pulled out the SpecOps lock and placed it in Teresa’s hand, wrapping her remaining fingers around it and turning the key. Teresa transformed into Enlock, with the hard metallic edges of the form’s armor breaking the table beneath her, freeing her from it.
“We need to get you to a hospital.” Christine noted the bolts still embedded in her arms and legs. “If we try to pull those bolts out now, you’re going to lose a lot of-”
Enlock’s transformation suddenly canceled, sending the SpecOps lock clattering to the floor. Teresa began to fall over, but was caught by Christine and held back up.
“Why did you detransform?!” Christine demanded worriedly.
“Please...” Teresa mumbled with a glassy-eyed stare. “Before he comes back...”
She weakly gestured toward Christine’s gun.
Christine froze as she heard Teresa speak, staring at her wide-eyed.
“Please...kill me...” Tears began streaming down Teresa’s face. “Kill me...”
Christine pulled Teresa into a tight embrace, holding her in a protective position. Teresa began sobbing into her chest, wailing as the full weight of everything slammed into her mind over and over again. A lone police officer descended the stairwell to report to Christine.
“Perimeter’s secure, no sign of Crow.” He stated, pausing as he caught sight of Teresa. “Is that the victim?”
Christine solemnly nodded and helped Teresa to her feet, handing her off to the officer.
“Get her to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.” Christine ordered. “I’ll take care of Crow.”
The officer nodded and turned to gently began to guide Teresa up the stairs. Christine turned around, wondering how the officer hadn’t caught sight of Crow’s body, only to find a trail of blood leading away from where it had been slumped up against the wall.
Crow, having transformed into Blitzkrieg to heal his wounds, carefully made his way across his base’s lot, sticking to the brick walls of the abandoned storefront he built it under to stay hidden. Thinking he had gotten somewhere in the clear, he made a dash across the asphalt, only to screech to a halt as a bullet ricocheted off the ground in front of him. He turned to find Christine walking towards him, holstering her gun and pulling out the SpecOps Lock.
“I’m bringing you in dead or alive.” Christine raised the lock with a snarl. “Give me one good reason not to make it ‘dead’.”
“Normally I’d say ‘because I haven’t done anything to warrant the use of deadly force’, but that doesn’t really matter with the police, now does it?” Blitzkrieg taunted.
“Don’t try to act like you’re on the moral high ground here, you son of a bitch!” Christine snapped and turned the lock’s key, transforming into a tall humanoid alien covered in golden metal armor.
“’Moral high ground’?” Blitzkrieg scoffed. “I think you’re projecting.”
“Do you have any idea how serious this situation is?!” Enlock growled. “You tortured an innocent girl!”
“Is that supposed to be some sort of ‘gotcha’?” Blitzkrieg scowled. “I know what I did, and I had a damn good reason for doing it. The only thing I regret was not killing her from the start.”
“You piece of-” Enlock began advancing towards Blitzkrieg, who blocked her approach with a wall of flame.
“Listen to me, moron!” Blitzkrieg snapped. “I ain’t doing this shit for funsies! If that kid lives, everyone else dies!”
“What the hell are you talking about?!”
"Fair point." Crow grunted. "So, where do we start?"
"Salt Lake City, Utah." Oberon OS answered. "That is where you will find the user."
“Oh, that shithole.” Crow tsked. “Figures.”
“Before we arrive, there is one more piece of information I need from you.” Oberon OS said. “You stated earlier that your killing of the political prisoner in your care was intentional. Explain yourself.”
“Well, not like I can get in any more trouble with the government than I already am...” Crow contemplated his response for a moment. “Alright, for a basic summary, the guy had some info that could start a nuclear war if it got to the higher-ups. I didn’t feel like getting nuked. The end.”
“So, you sacrificed your own position to preserve peace, then?” Oberon OS questioned.
“I like that spin on it, but no.” Crow chuckled. “Look, I’m not about to pretend I’m one of those pretentious dickheads who say they do shit for altruistic reasons. Did I save 7 billion random assholes with that decision? Sure, why not, good for them. What matters to me is that I’m one of those 7 billion assholes who would’ve kicked the bucket.”
“Self-preservation, then.” Oberon OS beeped. “Noted.”
“There a problem with that?” Crow raised an eyebrow.
“Hardly.” Oberon OS responded. “As a matter of fact, it should allow me to predict your actions much more reliably.”
“In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have told it that...” Blitzkrieg muttered to himself before focusing his attention back on Enlock. “The contractor for this job needs that kid alive for its plan, and if that plan goes through, everyone croaks! Not just you, not just me, not just the people on this shitty little planet, everyone! Sacrificing one person to keep that from happening is well goddamn worth it!”
“You really expect me to believe that?!” Enlock hissed.
“If you’re done trying to intimidate me, I’m just going to head out.” Blitzkrieg tsked, turning around to leave.
Enlock snapped back to reality and ran through the flames to tackle him to the ground, grabbing him in a choke hold so he couldn’t escape.
“I don’t care what your reasoning is.” Enlock growled. “You broke the law and violated a civilian’s human rights. You can’t run away from this.”
“You know...” Blitzkrieg grunted. “Turning into an alien covered in metal and trying to physically restrain an Evolvyrn that can generate electricity...”
He suddenly grabbed Enlock’s arm and electrified it, paralyzing her and making her scream in pain.
“Is a dumb fucking idea!”
He shook off the immobile Enlock and grabbed her by the face, slamming her into the ground. He began revving up his electricity production, frying her nervous system and forcing a detransformation, whereupon he tightened his grip on Christine’s head, trying to electrocute her. Before he could finish the job, however, the sudden power surge activated her suit and made the servos fire off, hitting him with a kick to the gut that sent him flying a good few meters away.
Christine groaned as she forced herself to her feet and grabbed the SpecOps lock off the ground, relying mostly on the power of the suit to move.
“What was that...” Christine panted heavily, trying to catch her breath as she wearily held up the lock. “About warranting the use of deadly force?”
Blitzkrieg growled and fired a storm of flames and electricity at her. The incoming attack was blocked as the SpecOps lock activated, creating its transformation barrier.
“I’m not going to let you hurt anyone...” Christine turned the SpecOps key, activating the lock’s transformation sequence. “Ever again!”
As the transformation took place, the armor plating on Christine’s suit suddenly shot off and floated in the air next to her, changing shape as she did. When her transformation was over, the armor slammed back onto her body, giving her form extra armor.
Blitzkrieg’s storm of heat and voltage abruptly ended as Enlock burst out of the attack unharmed and delivered a jackhammer punch to his gut, smashing a hole through him and sending him flying through the brick wall of the storefront. He was able to heal the wound before the transformation undid itself and put up another wall of flames as Enlock approached, though this attempt at defense ultimately proved futile as she simply walked through the fire and grabbed him by the throat, lifting him into the air.
Enlock’s vice-like grip snapped Blitzkrieg’s neck like a twig, reverting him to human and dropping him out of her grasp. He quickly snatched up his EvoLock and rolled out of the way, slamming the EvoKey into it to put up a transformation barrier.
“Those barriers don’t last forever, Crow.” Enlock growled.
“It doesn’t need to last forever; just until someone from Global Police HQ figures out your suit is active without authorization and shuts it down.” Crow retorted. “Oberon informed me of that little detail in case you came after me for using an EvoLock.”
“I don’t need the suit to fight. I’m an officer of the law.”
“Oh, an ‘officer of the law’?” Crow snapped. “You only found me because my employer, the one behind all this in the first place, handed you my location on a silver platter, which it only did after having me torture that kid. Maybe if you weren’t such a shitty ‘officer of the law’, you could’ve found her earlier and stopped all this from happening in the first place!”
Enlock’s fists tightened.
“Are you listening to me, you piece of shit cop?!” Crow demanded. “Don’t go trying to throw your job title around like it means anything when you’re such a failure that everyone involved in this is completely fucked!”
Enlock didn’t give a response, but the slight change in her body language told Crow he was striking a nerve. Thinking he might have found a weak point, he decided to keep drilling.
“I don’t know how you know that kid, but you seemed pretty distraught when you saw them laid out on the table like that.” He taunted. “I hate to break it to you, but when you walked in, that was one of the best states she’d been in all day!”
“I’d never be able to get those screams out of my head if I tried.” Crow pressed, tapping on his skull for emphasis. “I almost felt bad, like I was butchering a wounded animal. Until I ripped out her vocal cords, anyway.”
“Of course, I healed them back up now and again to compare how much screaming I got out of one method versus another.” Crow started to go all-in on this angle. “For the record, the one that got the most bang for its buck was using Blitzkrieg’s regenerative powers to burn her alive for an hour and make sure she felt every single second of it; only problem was that it made me tired, so I eventually put it out with some acid and took a break as the liquid melted down her flesh. I figured I’d just go ahead and fill you in since, as we’ve established, you. weren’t. there.”
Enlock started approaching Crow, who, sure that the transformation barrier would protect him, smirked as he prepared another line to drive in how powerless she was over the situation. Silent and unreadable, Enlock walked up to the transformation barrier, placed a fist against it, and wordlessly fired the iron ram on her arm.
When the cleanup crew arrived the next morning, there wasn’t much of Crow left to retrieve.
Immediately after dealing with Crow and handing off the case to the local police, Christine rushed to the hospital where they had taken Teresa. After flashing her badge and spending a few minutes in the waiting room, a nurse walked in, motioning for Christine to follow her.
"Is she going to be okay?" Christine asked as the two walked into the back.
"Physically, yes, our Pacemedius technicians were able to fully replace and restore her damaged and missing tissue." The nurse explained. "Psychologically...well, we're doing the best we can."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Christine scowled.
The nurse stopped in front of the door to one of the recovery rooms.
"The amount of scar tissue we had to replace indicates that her injuries were healed and re-inflicted a number of times." The nurse said quietly. "We can't discern how much she actually went through before you brought her here."
Christine felt a pit form in her stomach.
"Does she...remember it?" Christine asked.
"Most of it, as far as we can discern." The nurse replied. "At the moment we're simply trying to keep her calm, so I wouldn't recommend asking about the specifics."
The nurse nodded and opened the door to the room, letting them inside. In the middle of the room was Teresa, lying in a hospital bed and staring blankly off into space. Standing next to her was a Pacemedius nurse, using their soothing aura ability to keep her relaxed.
"Hey, kid..." Christine approached the side of the bed. "How are you feeling?"
Teresa turned her head to face Christine, who was looking down at her with a worried expression.
"...Officer...Eldridge?" Teresa asked slowly.
“I’m sorry...I didn’t meet with you...like you asked.”
"Don’t worry about that.” Christine replied with some concern. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I shouldn’t have left you alone back there.”
“But...it is my fault...isn’t it?” Teresa mumbled. “If I hadn’t decided to try and rest...none of this would have happened.”
“None of this is your fault.” Christine gently took Teresa’s hands. “You can’t always control what happens to you. Crow would have been looking for you either way.”
“So...I couldn’t have avoided it?” Teresa asked shakily.
“...I don’t know.” Christine admitted. “But even if you could have, it’s not your fault that you didn’t. Crow had the agency to choose what he did, and he chose to do something horrible. You aren’t responsible for anyone else’s actions.”
“Crow...” Teresa felt an involuntary chill go down her spine. “Wh...where is he?”
“He’s dead.” Christine answered bluntly. “He’s never going to come after you or anyone else ever again.”
“Are you sure?”
“...Very.” Christine decided to leave out the exact details for now. “You’re safe now; everything’s going to be okay. You’ve been through a lot, but you still have a chance to live.”
"Thank you, but..." Teresa turned back to look at the ceiling. "When you rescued me back there...”
She paused for a moment.
“I wish you had just let me die."
Christine went silent for a few moments before speaking again.
"I'm sorry I didn't get there sooner."
The nurse motioned for them to leave the room. Christine gave Teresa one last concerned look before following her out. After exchanging some final words with the nurse, Christine left the hospital, walking back out into the bitter night air.
She reached her car and began to pull out her keys, her hands trembling, but ended up dropping them back into her vest. She let out a scream of frustration and punched the car as hard as she could, leaving a solid dent in the side. Feeling a sudden weakness coming on, she put her arms against the windows of the vehicle for support. Tears dropped softly onto the concrete below as she tried unsuccessfully to hold them back.
"...I'm so sorry."
- Malincious Crow attempts to double-cross Oberon OS, but is found out and betrayed in kind.
- Malincious Crow dies.
- Malincious Crow
- The original versions of this episode were much more violent, with most of the torture sequences being either toned down or outright removed for the final release.