|Season 2, Episode 2|
|Air date||September 18th, 2015|
Old Foes, New Beginnings
Midweek Madness is the second episode of Tech 10: Rebooted's second season, and the fourteenth episode overall.
The sun beat down upon the hot pavement with a vengeance, as it is wont to do in Arizona. The repair tar along the asphalt had become a sticky, squishy mess, and the grass lining the neighborhood’s lawns seemed to be barely clinging to life in spite of their caretaker’s best efforts.
The fact that summer vacation was already over was just an extra slap in the face of the teenagers unfortunate enough to be walking home from school on this overbearingly hot day. The only advantage one could argue came from a day like this is that it was highly unlikely for anything with half a brain to try something criminal in the broad daylight.
Unfortunately, some things tend to circumvent the realms of logic.
Jefferson, age seventeen, had already had a particularly difficult day, from being late to school, to forgetting his homework, and utterly failing a pop quiz, things had not been going well. His cat breaking down and forcing him to walk home from school today was only the cherry topping on his sundae of suck.
“I seriously doubt today could get much worse.” He grumbled wearily.
The more genre-savvy among you readers probably already know where this is going.
Jefferson suddenly felt his shoe get stuck on what felt like a sticky piece of tar. Bending down to try and wrench it free, he noticed that the tar seemed to be rippling slightly.
He was swiftly interrupted by the tar suddenly exploding upwards, enveloping his arm and trying to drag it down. The ground under his shoe seemed to give way, forming a hole the tar seemed to be dragging him down into.
“Crap, crap, crap!” He yelled. “Help! Somebody! This thing’s dragging me into the ground!”
As if out of nowhere, an orb of purple energy slammed into the tar, creating an explosion that launched Jefferson away from it. The tar thrashed around as if in pain, then retreated into a hole in the ground. Jefferson looked around, trying to see what had happened, and caught sight of a dark-blonde haired teen standing about fifteen feet away, wielding what appeared to be some sort of orange arm cannon.
“What the hell was that?!”
“The purple energy or the tar monster?” The teen wielding the arm cannon asked. “I think both deserve an explanation!”
“Oh. Well, the energy thing’s a long story. Not sure what the deal was with the tar monster.”
“Hold on a second, aren’t you that new kid from school?” Jefferson asked, getting to his feet.
“Well, more like ‘returning’ kid, but whatever.”
“What was your name again?”
“What, weren’t you paying attention during roll call?” The teen gestured to himself with his thumb. “I’m Napoleon Eldridge!”
“Well, why don’t you try helping out for once?”
Tech, Aquadilus, and Moranna had all gathered in the back room of the gift shop, discussing ideas about the Anti-Life Entity. Alvono had been slumping down in his chair and providing nothing but complaining commentary.
“Yeah, but that would require moving.” Alvono protested.
“You seriously pay this guy?” Moranna asked.
“Not much.” Tech replied.
“Focus, people!” Aqaudilus said. “For all we know, this thing could be right on our doorstep, and we don’t exactly have any concrete idea of what to do when it gets here.”
“He’s right.” Moranna agreed. “It might help if we had more people on board with this little operation of yours.”
“Point taken.” Tech scratched his head in thought. “But who do we know that has superpowers that would be willing to help?”
“What about that one person we met on Veritum?” Aquadilus asked. “I think his name was Napoleon or something.”
“Well, that’s an idea, but we don’t exactly know where he lives.”
“We could always just look it up.”
“Dunno how well that would work, but it’s worth a shot, I guess. Alvono, you’re not helping with anything at the moment, you look it up.”
“Ugh, fine.” Alvono grumbled, turning to the computer.
“Who’s this ‘Napoleon’ guy?” Moranna asked.
“He’s another human we met at the Archives of Oberon.” Tech explained. “He’s got some sort of nanobot swarm powered by Void Energy or something that lets him build weaponry and transform.”
“So basically if a transformation matrix user had a utility belt.”
“Something like that.”
“Hey, I think I found something.” Alvono piped up. “It’s a social media page.”
“You sure it’s the same Napoleon?” Aquadilus asked.
“His profile description is an all-capitalized rant about burning through the heavens or something.”
“Yeah, that sounds about right.” Tech said. “Where does he live?”
“Hold on a second...okay, here we go. Phoenix, Arizona. Attends someplace called Cêzar High.”
“Sounds like a start. Moranna, let’s head out.”
“And do what?” Moranna asked. “Stand in front of the school all day and hope we see him when he leaves?”
“That’s about the gist of it.”
“...Well, I’m not sure what I was expecting.”
Tech slumped against the wall of the school, trying to keep as much of his body as possible in the shade. Moranna, on the other hand, stood firmly upright, seemingly unaffected by the heat of the afternoon sun.
“Seriously, you’re wearing darker clothes than I am.” Tech said. “How are you not boiling?”
“Training and implants.” Moranna replied. “My body can regulate its temperature with twice the efficiency of a normal human. Pretty much the only thing that kept me alive when my suit failed on Vulcan that one time.”
“You’ve had a very strange life. Even by my standards.”
“You have standards?”
Before they could continue their conversation, the school bell rang, followed swiftly by a crowd of students practically trampling over each other to exit the building, exploding out of the school in a massive wave of teenage angst and anti-authoritarianism. The crowd quickly dispersed, each student running as fast as they could to get out of the heat and into either their own cats or the cats of their parents waiting for them. After the rush was over, only a few stragglers remained, one sporting a suspiciously familiar, if somewhat faded, color scheme.
“Hey, Napoleon!” Tech yelled, waving towards the straggler. “That you?”
Napoleon turned around, spotting Tech and Moranna.
“Hey, you’re that guy from the Archives!” He exclaimed. “Tech, right?”
Tech and Moranna walked over to him, the other stragglers having all left by this point.
“Yep, that would be me.” Tech replied. “What’s with the getup?”
“Well, you can’t expect me to attend school in my superhero costume.” Napoleon explained. “Trust me, I checked.”
“This is who you were talking about?” Moranna asked. “He’s a bit scrawny, isn’t he?”
“Who’s this?” Napoleon asked, gesturing to Moranna.
“Moranna Ceres.” Tech replied. “Current teammate and former person trying to kill me.”
“You usually work with people that tried to kill you?”
“Not really, but I’m sort of pressed for people willing to help. Actually, that’s why I came here in the first place.”
“Considering that the first time we met was when a library got taken over by a criminal organization, I kinda figured. What’s up?”
Tech explained the situation regarding the Anti-Life Entity, with Napoleon occasionally nodding.
“So, what do you say?” Tech finished speaking. “You in?”
“Not right now, that is.” Napoleon explained. “I’ve sort of got a situation here with possessed road repair tar trying to drag people into the ground.”
“That does sound important.”
“Hold on, road repair tar?” Moranna asked. “You said it was trying to drag people into the ground, right?”
“Yeah, I know it’s weird, but-” Napoleon began.
“Not what I meant by that. I think I might know what that is.”
“You do?” Tech asked.
“Tell me, when did this start?”
“Around the start of September. Why?”
“Breeding season.” Moranna mumbled, tapping the side of her head.
“Sounds like a Pyx infestation. They’re huge, worm-like alien creatures that produce a sort of living tar-like substance that drags prey down into holes in the ground, where they’re usually put aside for later consumption. They begin breeding when the sun shines equally on both hemispheres of whatever planet they’re on.”
“So basically spring or fall on Earth.” Tech commented.
“Yep. A few weeks before the breeding season, they start collecting large amounts of prey for their young.”
“Uh, question.” Napoleon interjected. “If they’re alien worms, how did they get on Earth?”
“Someone must have imported them manually. They’re extremely heavily regulated, so whoever did had to have been really determined to get some to Earth. Can’t say I would know why.”
“Well, if you’re having problems with giant alien worms, we could totally help out with that.” Tech told Napoleon. “It’d probably go a lot faster.”
“I don’t really have Herculian around anymore, so I guess I could use some help with this.” Napoleon replied, scratching his head.
“What happened to him?”
“Nothing happened. He just left. Had work or something.”
“Oh. Well, we should probably get started. You know where any specific piles of this tar stuff are?”
“Yeah, just give me a second to change real quick.”
Napoleon grabbed his sunglasses, throwing them up into the air, where they shifted shape and color to become a massive pair of dark blue shades. His clothing rippled and changed color, becoming more saturated, with the sleeves on his shirt seemingly dissolving into thin air. A purple scarf appeared around Napoleon’s neck, and his hair shifted to a more bombastic style, changing to a dark violet with a purple streak in it. His sunglasses fell out of the air and back onto his face, adjusting themselves on their own.
“Ready to go!” He exclaimed.
Tech and Moranna stared at him for a few moments.
“So, is he a reality warper or something?” Moranna asked.
“Technically?” Tech replied. “No.”
“Well, we going to get a move on or not?” Napoleon asked. “I need to be home by dinner, so I don’t have a lot of time here.”
“Where did you even get this much police tape?”
The trio stood in front of a large patch of what appeared to be repair tar, which had been surrounded by several traffic cones and a thick wall of police tape. Napoleon created his sword construct and sliced through the tape, causing it to fall to the ground with an inordinate thud.
“So, are we supposed to just let ourselves get sucked into the tar?” Napoleon asked.
“Nope.” Moranna replied. “We’re taking this stuff out.”
Moranna pulled up the for selection screen on her bracelet’s holoscreen, selecting a form and pressing the ‘confirm’ button. With a quick purple flash, she transformed into a tall, blue alien with purple and yellow tinted armor. She slammed a fist into the tar, causing a hexagonal pattern of blue energy to appear on the tar’s surface. The tar rippled momentarily, then suddenly dissolved into a fine mist that was quickly blown away by the night breeze.
“What just happened?” Tech asked.
“Conveshift can forcibly switch a substance’s state of matter.” Moranna explained, detransforming. “Doesn’t really work on complex organisms or machines, though.”
“You have your alien names, I have mine.” Moranna shrugged. “Let’s just go already.”
Moranna jumped down the hole, followed swiftly by Napoleon and Tech. The trio found themselves in a dark tunnel, which was quickly lit by Tech transforming into Luminferus.
“Okay, which way to the giant worms?” Napoleon asked. “I’m ready to knock some heads!”
“Well, judging from these track mar-” Moranna began.
“I choose left!” Napoleon interrupted, taking off down the tunnel.
“...Is that the right direction?” Tech asked.
“Do you think he knew that?”
“Why do I get the feeling this is going to be a pattern?” Tech grumbled.
The two quickly ran after Napoleon, making their way through the tunnel at a quick, focused pace. They were so focused, in fact, that they didn’t notice the small rumble in the earth behind them that was slowly getting closer.
“How long is this tunnel, anyway?” Napoleon asked.
“Tunnels dug by Pyx can stretch out up to a mile from their main nest.” Moranna replied. “We should be getting close by now.”
“Close to what?”
“Hold it.” Tech said, holding up his hand in a ‘stop’ gesture. “Do either of you hear that?”
There were a few moments of silence as the three stood in silence, listening closely. They began to hear the rumble that had been following them, with it having closed in on them even further.
“Uh...what’s that?” Napoleon asked warily.
“That’s a Pyx tunneling!” Moranna snapped in realization. “Run!”
Before they could move, a massive tube-shaped creature exploded out of the ground in front of them, rearing up and lunging towards them with its massive, toothy maw. Napoleon swiftly threw up a large shield construct, causing the creature’s head to slam into it with a mighty ‘THUNK’.
Thinking quickly, he punched the center of the shield out, giving it a conical shape that quickly sprouted ridges, then launched the newly-created drill with a fiery punch. The drill flew down into the still gaping mouth of the giant worm. After a tense few seconds of silence, a massive explosion occurred, blowing the Pyx into small pieces that were swiftly consumed by fire.
“...Was that a shield-drill fire grenade?” Tech asked.
“So, are we just going to stand around, or are we going to the nest?” Moranna asked impatiently.
“Yeah, we should probably keep moving.” Tech said. “Alright then, let’s go!”
The three made their way through the long tunnel, eventually arriving in a huge cavern surrounded by tunnels. The area seemed empty apart from a strange capsule in the center of the floor.
“Uh...where are all the worms?” Napoleon asked.
“Probably out hunting.” Moranna said. “The only one that would stay in the cavern permanently is the queen, and she’s not very combat capable.”
“Okay then, where’s the queen?” Tech asked.
Moranna pointed upwards in response. Tech and Napoleon looked up to find a massive, bloated Pyx with a reddish color scheme hanging from the cavern ceiling. The queen appeared to be asleep.
“Oh, that’s nasty.” Napoleon remarked. “So we just smash that thing and there’s no more Pyx being made?”
“That’s about the gist of it, assuming there aren’t any more imported colonies in the area.” Moranna said. “Of course, we still need to figure out who imported these Pyx in the first place.”
“Well, I’m guessing the giant symbol emblazoned on the side of this capsule might have something to do with it.” Tech said, having walked towards the strange device.
Moranna and Napoleon walked over to Tech and examined the symbol that had been painted on it.
“The Obsidian Death?!” Napoleon exclaimed. “What’s with these guys?!”
“Now that you mention it, they do keep popping up in weird places lately.” Tech said. “First the Archives, then a ghost town, and now an underground cavern filled with alien worms.”
“It is sort of odd.” Moranna said, tapping the side of her head in thought. “They’re mostly a protection racket and illegal mining type organization. It feels like they’re up to something bigger with all this.”
“Well, problems for another day.” Tech commented, transforming into a an oddly-shaped, four-armed alien. “Let’s just blow this joint up and skedaddle.”
“I don’t think so.” A strange, wheezing voice said from the other side of the cavern.
The trio turned to find a tall, hunched alien, with sickly glowing green skin and an odd breathing apparatus, standing in one of the tunnels leading out from the nest. The alien wore a specially-fitted Obsidian Death uniform, with dark green stripes on the chestplate signifying a unique sub-group.
“Who’s this clown?” Napoleon asked.
“I am Beast Master Fuviquo.” The alien interjected. “I can assure you, I am no ‘clown’.”
“Since when does the Obsidian Death have ‘Beast Masters’?” Moranna asked.
“The Obsidian Death has grown far larger than any of you could possibly know. We are thousands strong!”
“Where do you even get that many people in a gang?” Tech questioned. “Do you bulk order from the idiot store?”
“Our true goals are more than enough to draw in our numbers on their own merit.” Fuviquo snapped.
“Ah, yes, your ‘true goals’ of worm trafficking. Truly, a high-class operation.”
“Your mockery only serves to reinforce how little you know of us.” Fuviquo punctuated this statement by summoning a long, spear-headed chain of green energy from thin air. “And I will ensure that you learn no more!”
He quickly lunged forward at the trio, swinging his energy chain at high speed. Moranna was able to dodge out of the way just in time, but Tech and Napoleon, not having performance-enhancing implants, were not so lucky. They were unceremoniously caught in the chain’s path and hurled across the cavern, slamming into a wall on the far side.
Napoleon swiftly summoned his arm cannon and fired off a round of shots, all of which were deflected by Fuviquo’s chain whip. Tech rolled into a ball, using his alien’s explosive power to shoot himself off the wall towards Fuviquo, who moved to deflect the attack with his chain. However, at the very second the chain made impact with Tech’s ball-shaped form, he exploded, creating a large shockwave of dust and debris.
As the dust cleared, Fuviquo stood tall, having created a makeshift energy shield by spinning his energy chain at high speeds. Tech’s body began to regenerate, giving Fuviquo a target to wrap the end of his chain around, twirling Tech’s half-formed body around his head and hurling him at the wall again.
“To be honest, I was not expecting you to be anywhere near this competent.” Napoleon commented, summoning his sword construct. “Most of the goons we fight are pretty easy pickings.”
“If you knew anything about the Obsidian Death, you would know that I am no ‘goon’.” Fuviquo gestured to the dark green, three-striped pattern on his uniform’s chest plate. “I am First Commander of the Beast Master division, second only to the High Commander in rank and skill.” Fuviquo began spinning his whip again.
“Of course, who knows?” He chuckled. “The High Commander may fall prey to an unfortunate ‘accident’ involving Acid Wasps sometime in the future.”
“Y’all are a bunch of backstabbing jerks, man.” Napoleon said.
“True, but one could argue that’s what makes the job so interesting.”
Fuviquo let loose his chain, sending it flying towards Napoleon, who swiftly sliced it apart with his sword and fired a blade of purple flames at him. He swiftly summoned another chain, whipping it towards Napoleon’s legs. Napoleon tried jumping out of the way, but was too slow, getting caught up and tripped by the chain. Fuviquo quickly summoned dual chains and rushed Napoleon, swinging the chains around wildly.
“Chain Whip Volley!”
He jumped into the air and swung the wildly swinging chains down towards Napoleon, who quickly summoned a shield construct to block. The spear-headed ends of the the chain smashed into the shield repeatedly, each impact creating another impressive dent in the shield’s surface.
“You can’t hold out forever!” Fuviquo yelled.
“Neither can you!” A voice sounded from behind him.
Fuviquo turned around, receiving a fistful of fire directly into his chest for his troubles.
“Gah!” He choked out, hunching over. “What was that?!”
“HeadOn!” Tech replied, having transformed into Heatjet.
“Apply directly to the forehead!”
Tech slammed his fist into Fuviquo’s forehead, sending him flying with a fiery blast. He quickly followed up with a stream of fire that slammed Fuviquo into the far cavern wall. Fuviquo managed to pull himself up and started spinning his chains again, dispersing the flames off to the sides.
“Hold on a second!” Napoleon yelled.
Tech and Fuviquo both paused, looking towards him in confusion.
“Where’d Moranna go?”
As if in response to his question, an explosion sounded from the cavern ceiling, swiftly followed by a rain of ash and chunks of seared exoskeleton. Moranna fell to the ground, performing a quick roll to nail the landing.
“I went to do our job.” She said, brushing herself off. “Heat grenades and Pyx Queens don’t seem to mix well together.”
“No!” Fuviquo yelled. “All the work of raising that Pyx! Gone!”
“Tough luck, bug guy!” Napoleon picked himself up off the ground, using his sword to cut the energy chain that tripped him up. “Life just ain’t fair!”
“No, I suppose it isn’t!” Fuviquo fumed, pulling out a strange, flute-like object. “To me, my Pyx!”
He followed up this statement by blowing into the flute-like object as hard as possible. Almost instantly, the earth around them began rumbling with the sound of dozens of Pyx making their way to the central chamber.
“You have got to be kidding me.” Tech groaned.
The huge worms began pouring into the chamber, leaving behind large tunnels. They quickly surrounded Tech, Napoleon, and Moranna, creating a tight circle of gaping jaws.
“This does not look good.” Napoleon remarked.
“Yeah, we noticed.” Tech snapped in response.
“I’ll be making my leave now.” Fuviquo said. “Maybe you’ll die, maybe you won’t, but either way, I need to go pick up another Pyx queen. Tata!”
With that, he turned and ran down one of the tunnels the Pyx had left behind, disappearing into the darkness.
“Hey, come back here and fight!” Napoleon yelled.
“Why would he do that?” Tech asked, annoyed.
“Because I said so!”
The Pyx began closing in, their giant maws smashing open and closed as they approached.
“I don’t think this is the time for idle chatter!” Moranna snapped. “I can’t particularly say I’m enthralled with being worm food!”
“Hey, uh, quick question.” Tech said.
“Given a distraction, how long do you think it would take you two to clear the area?”
“About ten seconds, give or take. Why?”
“Well then, it looks like I have a plan!”
Tech smashed his fists together, creating a sudden explosion of flame that startled the Pyx, causing them to rear back in surprise.
“Hey, what about-” Napoleon started.
Moranna nodded and grabbed Napoleon, interrupting him and tossing him over the wall of Pyx that stood in their way. She quickly ran and jumped onto the Pyx, climbing its jagged exoskeleton and vaulting herself to the other side.
The Pyx, having recovered from their initial shock, began moving in again, hissing aggressively. After waiting a few seconds to ensure that Moranna and Napoleon could get a safe distance away, Tech pulled up the SpecTrix dial.
“Who’s ready for a quick re-enactment of ‘How To Eat Fried Worms’?” He joked.
There was a deafening silence, as apparently even the Pyx were given pause at the humorlessness of that quip.
“Aaand I’m being critically panned by giant worms.” Tech grumbled. “This is probably the low point in my career.”
With that, he slammed down on the SpecTrix dial. Four metal spokes extended from the dial and clamped down on his chest, sending out a green wave of energy that enveloped his body. The green energy was swiftly dispersed by an impressive explosion of blue and white flames, revealing a somewhat bulkier Heatjet shimmering with the same fire. He took a few seconds to look himself over.
“Oh, this is going to be fun.”
Moranna jumped out of the hole in the ground that they had entered the tunnels through, followed shortly by a somewhat disgruntled Napoleon.
“Come on, we could’ve taken ‘em!” He said. “What was that about?!”
“It was about using the efficient solution.” Moranna replied. “He was using a fire alien and told us to clear the area. What exactly do you think was going to happen next?”
Napoleon was interrupted by a massive plume of blue flame exploding from the hole in the road. He quickly summoned his shield construct to protect himself from the heat. After a few seconds, the flames ceased, allowing Napoleon to disperse his shield.
“The heck was that?!” He exclaimed, staring at the hole. “Tech was in the central chamber! What kind of firepower is he using?!”
A few seconds later, a portal opened up near them, Tech as Temportal stepping out of it. He closed the portal behind him and detransformed.
“Did I miss anything?” He asked.
“Only this guy’s rambling.” Moranna replied, gesturing to Napoleon, who was still staring into the hole, mumbling something about ‘learning how to do that’.
“Hey, Napoleon!” Tech snapped his fingers.
“...Wha-” Napoleon snapped to attention, looking towards Tech. “Oh, right. What?”
“The team, remember? You in?”
“Do we get to punch people?”
“In the face?”
“I guess that settles that.” Moranna said. “One thing still bugs me, though.”
“What?” Tech asked.
“The Obsidian Death planted a colony of Pyx on Earth of all places.” She replied, tapping the side of her head. “Why?”
“You abandoned your post?”
“You can’t raise a Pyx colony without the queen, and I don’t trust any of the buffoons we use for grunt work to handle a cookie, much less a Pyx egg!”
Fuviquo had managed to escape to his ship and make his way off Earth, and had begun to prep his FTL drive before being interrupted by a call from Obsidian Death headquarters.
“Even if that wasn’t the case, I hardly see why we need to raise Pyx on Earth!” He continued, shifting around some boxes. “The Pyx part I understand, they grow fast, eat little, and they’re overall expendable for an army. But Earth?! That backwater planet isn’t exactly prime breeding ground material!”
“Perhaps not, but raising them there will save us quite a bit of trouble trying to transport them.” The voice on the other end of the call replied.
“What would we need an army on Earth for?”
“That information is on a need-to-know basis. Suffice it to say...”
There was a small chuckle on the other end of the line.
“...we have plans.”
- Pyx Worms
- Beast Master Fuviquo