|The following content contains discussion of depression and suicide. Please proceed at your own discretion.|
|Season 1, Episode 1|
Merry X Mas
Survival X Fittest
New X World is the first episode of Tech Cross.
It was a hot summer day.
The sun beat down harshly on the tarmac as students left their last day of school until fall. Next to one particular high school was a pathway winding alongside a large ditch carved by a muddy creek that flowed through the middle of town. This path provided a convenient route for many teenagers heading home from school each day, and at the moment, it was naturally very busy.
Despite the large number of people walking through, none of them decided to do anything when a pair of teens grabbed one of the other students from behind and shoved her into the ditch, resulting in an eventual splash as she hit the water. Whether they simply didn't care or knew better than to say anything about it varied from person to person, but either way, the incident was ignored as if it was perfectly normal.
"Do everyone a favor and just drown yourself down there." One of the instigators spat. "The last thing we need around here is more people like you."
The students responsible for the assault walked off as the girl who had been thrown in the creek slowly pushed herself to her knees. Blood was dripping from several cuts she had gotten on the way down, and the fall had emptied the backpack she was carrying of its contents, which were now floating aimlessly in the water.
She slowly began gathering up her school supplies, including a student ID that read "Teresa Challice". Her outfit, consisting of a blue and black shirt and a pair of green capris, was completely soaked, resulting in her shivering as the frigid creek water was held against her skin by the fabric.
Teresa eventually climbed out of the ditch and began silently limping home, being given a wide berth by the other students. The heat of the sun dried her off relatively quickly, but this obviously didn't do anything to help her bruises and various lacerations.
Eventually reaching her house, Teresa unlocked the door and stumbled into the quiet building, which was empty of anyone except for her. Her mother was away for work, as per usual, and her father had died a number of years ago. Without anyone to greet, she simply put her backpack down by the front door and walked into the kitchen, sitting on a chair that was already pulled out from the table.
On the table in front of her was a pen and a piece of paper left behind from an unfinished note she had hesitantly been writing this morning. Her hesitation now all but gone, she finished writing out the note and placed it neatly on the counter, putting the pen on top of it as a paperweight. She briefly considered going to the medicine cabinet for bandages, but ultimately decided that they would be pointless given the current situation.
She exited her house and walked to the nearest bus stop, waiting for the next one heading downtown to arrive. Her ragged appearance drew some odd looks, but nobody stopped to ask her about it. Upon boarding the bus, Teresa opted to grab onto one of the handholds dangling from the ceiling instead of sitting down. She had mostly stopped bleeding by now, but she didn't want to chance it.
Half an hour later, as the bus came to a halt downtown, Teresa exited the vehicle and began making her way toward the city's taller buildings. Her mind was fogged up and she felt numb, barely even registering the outside world as she walked. She stepped onto a crosswalk, not noticing the red light across the street, and-
Teresa was suddenly grabbed from behind and pulled out of the road as a truck whizzed by, barely avoiding hitting her. She turned around to see who had grabbed her and found a female police officer with green eyes and dark strawberry blonde hair looking down at her sternly.
"You need to be more careful." The officer chided. "You really could have gotten hurt!"
"S-sorry." Teresa stammered nervously, looking down at the ground.
"Calm down, kid, you're not in any trouble." The officer sighed, then paused upon noticing the cuts and scrapes dotting her body. "Hey, are you alright? You don't look so good."
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine, I just tripped down a hill." Teresa lied. "I'll be okay."
"Alright..." The officer didn't seem to entirely accept this explanation. "Can I ask you your name?"
"T-Teresa Challice." Teresa answered.
"Nice to meet you. The name's Christine Eldridge." The officer placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Listen, if you're in a bad situation, don't hesitate to call on public services. We're here to help."
"I-I'm fine, really." Teresa looked at Christine and put on a large smile. "See? Don't worry about it."
"Well, if you say so." Christine took her hand off Teresa's shoulder and pulled a photograph out of one of her coat pockets. "On a side note, I don't know if you've heard already, but there's a danger to public safety out roaming the streets right now. If you see this thing, steer clear from it and call the police."
Christine handed Teresa the photo, which appeared to be of a short, white, mono-eyed alien with silver accents and glowing blue lines covering its body running through an intersection with its disproportionately long legs.
"I hadn't heard about it yet." Teresa shook her head, handing back the photo. "Who is it?"
"'What is it' would be more appropriate here, actually." Christine grunted, pocketing the picture. "That's no ordinary alien citizen, that's an Evolvyrn."
"You mean one of those transformations that get contracted out by companies?" Teresa tilted her head. "Why would one just be running through traffic like that?"
"Anyone can get their hands on an Evolvyrn, it's just too expensive to be viable for most people." Christine corrected. "Problem is, any hooligan with a boatload of cash has a golden opportunity to start causing trouble. Whoever's been using this Evolvyrn in particular apparently decided that the best use of their powers would be to jet around the city robbing random places."
"Are they dangerous?" Teresa asked.
"Any Evolvyrn can be dangerous." Christine answered. "That said, don't worry too much about it either. Taking care of these things so the general public doesn't have to is our job." She gave a thumbs up and an assuring wink. "Just be careful out there, okay?"
Teresa nodded and walked away, crossing the street when the pedestrian light turned green. Startled out of her stupor by the sudden jolt of being pulled out of the road, a nervous feeling started bubbling up her throat. She pushed it down and kept walking, heading with purpose to the downtown library.
The city's library was somewhat unusual compared to most, with an elongated, swooping design that towered a good five or six stories above the ground. The roof was accessible to all visitors, having a rooftop garden with flowers pollinated by the bees from a beehive kept by the library. It was this rooftop garden Teresa was headed to, and despite everything, it was still nice to see one last time.
She made her way to the far edge of the garden and climbed on top of the thick concrete guardrail, carefully making her way the edge. She stared down at the brick-paved sidewalk below, feeling slightly sick to her stomach. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, jumped off the ledge...
...and felt her feet hit a metal floor a moment later.
She stumbled forward, caught off-guard by the sudden landing, eventually tripping onto the floor. She pulled herself up into a sitting position and found that she was inside the cabin of what seemed to be a futuristic subway car. The train's doors closed behind her, sealing off where she had entered.
"Welcome to the 411 Cross Bullet express line, now serving locations worldwide." An announcement played over the train's speaker system. "Please indicate your destination."
"Wh-what's going on?!" Teresa began clutching at her hair nervously. "Am I hallucinating? Am I dead? Is this some sort of train to the afterlife?! Oh God, they were right, I'm going to Hell!"
"Odd choice, but if you say so."
The train suddenly accelerated, throwing Teresa across the carriage. Her head slammed into the back wall, knocking her out. As she drifted off, she could hear the voice saying something about reaching cruising altitude before everything faded out.
On the streets below, a lone man with white hair and green eyes wearing a black suit stood at the foot of the building, looking up as the strange bullet train flew off. He grunted as if he were confirming something, then turned and walked away, seeming to disappear into the city.
"You have arrived at your destination!"
Teresa slowly lifted her head, woken up by the small jingle the train played as it slowed to a halt.
"Sorry about that, it slipped my mind that humans aren't very sturdy." The voice from over the speakers said. "For future reference, please make sure you're holding firmly to one of the provided poles or handrails before the train begins to depart!"
"Where...am I?" Teresa groaned, pulling herself off the ground.
"Hell, Norway, as requested."
Teresa looked out the window and found that the train car sat inside a grove of trees near a small Norwegian village.
"Norway?!" Teresa squeaked. "How long was I out?!"
"Around ten minutes, give or take."
"This is insane..." Teresa stumbled over to one of the seats lining the walls of the train and fell into a slumped-over sitting position. "What do you want with me?"
"To be blunt, I need your help." The voice answered.
"Help with what?" Teresa looked concerned. "Who are you, anyway?"
"Ah, I knew I was forgetting something." The voice said. "I am an AI titled the Cell Reconfiguration Operating System S, or CROSS for short."
"What does the 'S' at the end stand for?" Teresa asked.
"Sentient." CROSS replied casually. "Prototype models of the OS were not programmed to be self-aware, hence the necessity for the distinction."
"You're a self-aware AI?" Teresa mumbled nervously. "Are you planning on destroying humanity or something?"
"You're self-aware, are you planning on destroying humanity?" CROSS retorted.
"Well, no, but-"
"Well there you go, then." CROSS tsked. "No, I may be self-aware, but I do still have a set purpose."
"To battle rogue Evolvyrns." CROSS announced.
"Evolvyrns?" Teresa looked confused. "But...you're a train."
"Not exactly." CROSS replied. "Come into the cabin."
The door to the driver's cabin slid open, allowing Teresa to see into it for the first time. After a moment's hesitation, she carefully made her way into the cabin, finding little more than a seat with a console in front of it. In the center of the console was a dial roughly the size of her palm that displayed a blinking 'X' symbol.
"That dial in the middle is me; well, the device housing me, that is." CROSS said, with the dial's screen blinking in time with its speech. "It's the closest thing I have to a 'real body'. The train is just something I can hook into when needed."
Teresa bent over to examine the dial, noticing a small turquoise arrow on its rim that pointed inwards.
"Unplug me from the console and put the dial on your wrist." CROSS instructed. "It should attach automatically."
"It generates a gauntlet around your wrist, it won't literally grip onto your body." CROSS sighed. "Just work with me here."
Teresa carefully grabbed the dial by the rim and pulled it from the console with a firm tug. She hesitantly placed it on her left wrist, upon which the base of the dial did indeed generate a gauntlet around her arm. It was a snug fit but felt surprisingly light.
"This thing has sweat-wicking technology, so you don't need to worry about it getting gross under there when you wear it." CROSS said. "More importantly, what you've just put on is my true default mode: the CrossTrix."
"The CrossTrix?" Teresa tilted her head curiously. "So you're like...an Omnitrix?"
"I'm not like an Omnitrix, I am an Omnitrix." The CrossTrix huffed impatiently. "And I need you to wield me."
Teresa stared at the device in stunned silence for a moment.
"...Me?" Teresa pointed at herself. "Why?"
"Well I can't very well wield myself, now can I?"
"No, no, I mean...why do you want me to do it?" Teresa asked. "I don't have any experience with this kind of thing!"
"You can learn as you go." The CrossTrix tsked. "What's important here is the fact that you're alone."
"I've been scoping out a bunch of different people, and out of all of them, you're the only one left without any family or friends that could get in the way." The CrossTrix explained. "Your mom's never home, your dad's dead, you don't keep in contact with any of your extended family, and nobody wants to be your friend. You're perfect!"
"It's not that nobody wants to be my friend, I'm just...not really worth being friends with." Teresa mumbled, rubbing her arm awkwardly.
"Either way, you live in the exact kind of isolation a vigilante needs." The CrossTrix stated. "You're not important enough to anybody for anyone to threaten someone you know."
"I mean, I guess you're right, but..." Teresa looked down at the floor. "I don't really want to go around fighting people. What if someone gets hurt?"
"First off, that's the point of fighting, and secondly, people are getting hurt right now and they'll keep getting hurt whether you do anything or not." The CrossTrix said. "If you step in, you could keep a lot of people a lot safer."
"I..." Teresa trailed off. "Just...give me some time to think about it, okay? This is kind of a lot to take in at once."
"Fine, but don't take too long." The CrossTrix's dial blinked off and on again. "I don't need you pulling another stunt like you did back there. Where would I be if the person I wanted to host me was dead, huh? I barely made it there in time."
"Sorry..." Teresa said. "I didn't think there was going to be anyone who actually needed me."
"First thing you're doing when you get home is calling a psychiatrist." The CrossTrix huffed. "This is not going to work out if you're second-guessing yourself all the time."
"No 'buts'." The CrossTrix interrupted. "I understand humans can be stubborn about this kind of thing, but this is for my benefit as much as it is yours. You need a stable mental fortitude if you're going to go around fighting Evolvyrns."
"Hang on, I still haven't agreed to that!" Teresa protested. "Besides, if you need someone more stable, then why did you pick me after scoping me out?!"
"You weren't my first choice, but everyone else I looked into who was as isolated as you are were, uh...a bit quicker on the downtake, if you catch my drift."
"For now, I'll just plant this on you so I can find you later." The CrossTrix stated as Teresa felt a small pinprick on her arm.
"What was that?" Teresa asked nervously.
"A microchip." The CrossTrix answered. "If you ever need me, just call out my name and I'll be there in a jiffy, got it?"
"That's...kind of worrying."
"What do you want me to do, spy on you all day?" The CrossTrix tsked. "If you decide you don't want to help, I'll just remove it. That sound fair?"
"I guess so."
"Good, then let's get a move on." The CrossTrix detached from Teresa's wrist and flew over to the train's console, plugging itself back in. "Where are you going next?"
"I don't know, I didn't think I'd get this far in the day." Teresa mumbled, staring out one of the windows. "I guess as long as I'm...still here, I should pick up some groceries."
"It doesn't really matter." Teresa sank down in her seat. "Anywhere back home is fine."
"Anywhere it is, then." CROSS replied over the speaker system. "Try to avoid getting a concussion this time."
"I'll see what I can do." Teresa smiled weakly.
And with that, the train took off.
"Uh, CROSS?" Teresa asked. "Why are we in a mall?"
The Cross Bullet had arrived inside a shopping mall bustling with human and alien shoppers alike. It wasn't entirely clear how the train had gotten in, but it did little more than draw the occasional odd glance from the mall's customers.
"I wasn't sure which store to head to, so I chose a place with a lot of stores." CROSS answered. "Efficiency!"
"Well, you don't usually go to a mall to pick up groceries, but I guess I can just...grab something for dinner." Teresa stood up and made her way to the doors. "Are you going to stay parked here the whole time?"
"No, I'm just going to reload the train and hide out somewhere." CROSS said. "Again, call me if you need me."
Teresa stepped off the train, which promptly began shrinking and folded up into a compact compartment inside the CrossTrix. The device flew off, leaving Teresa by herself. She sighed and placed her head in her hands for a moment, still trying to process everything that had just happened.
After a few seconds of this, she collected herself and began heading for the center of the mall, hoping to read the directory. As she walked, she noticed an unusual number of police officers stationed around the building but wasn't quite sure to make of it.
Her trip to the directory was uneventful, but not long after she began looking for the food court, she heard two familiar sets of footsteps walking up behind her.
"Well, isn't this an interesting coincidence?"
Teresa felt a pit form in her stomach as she turned around to find the two students that had thrown her into the creek before standing in front of her.
"Claire, Anne..." Teresa mumbled nervously. "Wh-what are you guys doing here?"
"It's a mall, what do you think we're doing here?" Anne rolled her eyes. "I know you're slow, but I didn't figure you for a moron."
"Geez, you didn't even bother cleaning yourself up before going out in public." Claire snorted. "Makes sense. The trashy look really suits you."
"Look, I-I don't want to start any trouble, so I'm just going to..."
Teresa started to move away but was stopped as Claire grabbed her by the upper arm.
"Oh, I think we're long past that." Claire tsked. "You signed up for trouble the second you left your house this morning."
Claire tightened her grip on Teresa's arm, firmly jabbing her long nails into the bruise on her shoulder. Teresa winced, holding back a yelp of pain.
"I want you to listen to me and listen to me closely." Claire hissed into Teresa's ear. "If I see you around me ever again, I am going to ruin you, you obstinate piece of trash. Am I clear?"
"Claire, isn't this going a bit too far?" Anne muttered quietly. "Around school is one thing, but out in public-"
"What's going on here?" A gruff voice came from behind them.
Teresa turned to find Christine Eldridge approaching them with a stern expression. Claire immediately let go of her and put her arms behind her back.
"Oh, nothing." Claire lied. "We were just talking."
"That didn't look like 'nothing'." Christine folded her arms. "I think you two should be heading home now."
Claire opened her mouth to argue but faltered under Christine's stern glare. She shot Teresa a dirty look and grabbed Anne, dragging her away with a brisk walk. Christine sighed and turned to Teresa with a concerned face.
"I figured you were lying about falling down a hill earlier." Christine said. "How long has this been going on for?"
Teresa looked away, feeling too nervous to give a proper answer.
"Listen, kid..." Christine kneeled down to be eye-level with Teresa. "I know you might be feeling stuck right now, but don't let how people treat you determine your self-image. Some people are born cruel and some people are made that way by their circumstances, but either way, if they're treating you like shit, the problem is with them, not you."
"Why are you telling me all this?" Teresa asked hesitantly. "You don't even know me."
"I've seen too many kids fall down the same hole you're stuck in right now to just sit back and act like it's not a problem." Christine answered. "I know a lot of cops end up being real pieces of work, but there are still some of us who really do want to help people."
"Oh." Teresa paused. "But...why are you here in the first place?"
"Well, we ended up finding a link between all the stores that rogue Evolvyrn's been hitting." Christine stood up. "Turns out they're all getting their diamonds from the same company, and the most likely store for them to hit up next is in this mall."
Christine jabbed a thumb at a jewelry store across from them on the second floor.
"We're trying to get the mall to close, but their upper management is pushing back on it." Christine sighed. "For now, I've got teams set up around the building just in case something goes down in the meantime. Now, I can't legally make anyone leave, but I am recommending that everyone wraps up their shopping early just to be safe."
As Christine spoke, Teresa noticed a woman with dark hair wearing a black coat walking up behind her. The woman pulled out a strange red lock and matching key, then slammed the key into the lock. A red force field generated around her as she moved forward.
"Uh, Ms. Eldridge?" Teresa pointed at the woman.
Christine turned around, her eyes widening as she saw the woman approaching.
"Get out of here, kid!" Christine stepped between them. "That's-"
The woman turned the key in the lock, creating a blinding flash of red light. When the glare faded, it revealed the woman to have transformed into the Evolvyrn Christine had shown Teresa earlier.
"Figured the pigs would catch on at some point." The Evolvyrn snorted. "Not that you can do much against this thing. If I remember correctly, I think the sales guy called it 'Psikill'."
"The name doesn't matter; you're under arrest either way." Christine began reaching for her gun.
"I don't think so."
Psikill's horns began glowing with telekinetic power, grabbing Christine and throwing her toward the wall. Chunks of the building's infrastructure began being ripped apart, causing a panic in the crowd as shoppers tried to dodge or deflect incoming rubble.
"It was a dumb idea bringing your cop pals in like this!" Psikill tsked. "Now I gotta bring down the entire building to make sure I get all of you!"
Teresa began to run like Christine had ordered, making her way straight toward the exit but found herself growing increasingly worried as she caught sight of more and more people trapped in the rubble, unable to escape.
As the set of doors leading outside came into view, she suddenly noticed Claire and Anne about to be crushed by a chunk of falling concrete. Without even stopping to think about what she was doing, she tackled them out of the way, throwing all three of them to the ground as the concrete slab shattered the tile floor behind them.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" Claire yelled, pushing Teresa away. "Get off me!"
"I don't get it." Anne stammered. "Why would you help us?"
"Because I don't hate you like you hate me." Teresa grunted in pain as she pulled herself to her feet. "You might not be good people, but you're still people...and I couldn't just stand by and watch."
"Don't act like you're better than us, you freak!" Claire snapped. "Come on Anne, we need to get out of here!"
Claire scrambled to her feet and ran off. Anne followed shortly after, pausing for a moment to look back at Teresa before running after her.
"CROSS!" Teresa yelled, throwing her arm up in the air.
The CrossTrix suddenly smashed through a nearby wall, whirling through the air until it landed on her wrist, generating its gauntlet form.
"You made up your mind yet?" The CrossTrix asked.
"Yeah." Teresa gulped. "I really don't want to, but if it'll let me save everyone here...then I'll do it!"
"Finally!" The CrossTrix exclaimed. "You people can be way too stubborn."
Teresa ran back to the center of the mall and threw a chunk of rubble next to Psikill, who turned around and hissed at her.
"Alright, I got her attention." Teresa said. "Now what?"
"You really didn't need to do that, but whatever." The CrossTrix grumbled. "You see the three zeroes on the number wheels near the back of the gauntlet?"
"Swipe up to set the middle number to 'one'." The CrossTrix continued. "That'll put this thing into transformation mode."
Teresa set the number as instructed. Psikill picked up a set of broken-up concrete chunks with its psychic power and hurled it at Teresa, only for it to be blocked by the sudden appearance of a force field around her.
"Woah, what is that?!" Teresa exclaimed.
"This transformation system uses the same user protection technology as the EvoLock's transformation fields." The CrossTrix explained. "Now, start turning the dial!"
Teresa turned the CrossTrix's dial, causing the dial itself to pop up and the screen to display a wheel of ten different silhouettes. As she turned the dial, the silhouette the notch on the dial pointed to lit up in full color.
"Which one do I choose?!" Teresa asked.
"You can switch on the fly, so just pick one and go already!" The CrossTrix snapped.
"Alright, uh..." Teresa scrolled through the silhouettes until she landed on a black cat-like alien. "This one looks pretty fast!"
Teresa slammed down on the dial, transforming in a flash of teal light. She stood tall as a purple-eyed humanoid alien with black fur and feline features, including a long, fluffy tail and clawed fingers. She wore a black and dark purple jumpsuit with a bandana covering her mouth and a lighter purple scarf wrapped around her neck.
Psikill growled and hurled a chunk of rebar at her. Everything seemed to slow down as the projectile approached, allowing her to nimbly dodge to the side well before it made contact.
"Woah, what was that?!" Teresa exclaimed.
"This alien is called 'Dupligato'." The CrossTrix stated. "Dupligato's species have an extremely advanced sense of spatial awareness and can process information about their environment several times faster than a human. This, combined with their general speed and agility, makes them very difficult to hit."
Dupligato leaped over to Psikill and grabbed one of their horns.
"You need to calm down!" Dupligato pleaded. "You're hurting people!"
"Yeah, no shit!" Psikill snapped, kicking Dupligato away. "That's the point!"
"But why?!" Dupligato asked as she steadied herself on her feet.
"Do you have any idea where those diamonds come from?!" Psikill pointed at the destroyed jewelry shop. "I'll give you a hint: it involves a hell of a lot of human rights violations!"
"What is attacking innocent people supposed to do about that?!"
"People might not give a shit about the diamond trade right now, but the more of a shitstorm I cook up for them, the more pressure they'll be under to do something about it!" Psikill explained. "There's no way they'll be able to ignore it after a major disaster like this!"
"That's a terrible plan!" Dupligato protested. "How could you be so callous?!"
"Figures you wouldn't understand." Psikill spat. "Get out of my way before I rip you apart too."
"I...I can't do that!" Dupligato shivered for a moment but stood her ground. "If you're not going to stop fighting...then I'll stop you myself!"
"Are you kidding?" Psikill laughed. "Look at you! You're shaking in your cat pajamas! Just screw off if you know what's good for ya!"
"...I really don't anymore."
Dupligato jumped into the air and kicked off a railing on the second floor, propelling herself towards Psikill, who simply dodged off to the side as Dupligato flew past her.
"If you're trying to fight a speed alien with a speed alien, you're even dumber than I thought." Psikill scoffed, turning around to face Dupligato.
There was no one there.
Dupligato suddenly burst out of Psikill's shadow and delivered a powerful kick to the underside of her head, sending her flying.
"Okay, what just happened to me?" Dupligato grabbed the sides of her head nervously. "That was really disorienting!"
"Dupligato can travel through shadows." The CrossTrix explained. "Just a heads-up."
Psikill landed on the ground a few meters away and scrambled to her feet with an annoyed glare.
"What the hell, yours has Shadow Travel?!" Psikill snapped. "I got jipped!"
Psikill took off running, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake. Dupilgato leaped after her, traveling from shadow to shadow to try and keep up. Psikill exited the mall and began running through the streets, throwing aside any vehicles that got in her way with her telekinesis.
Dupligato jumped from wreck to wreck, using the shadows created by the cars as they flew off the ground to grab people out of their vehicles and place them safely on the sidewalk as the road became a flaming mess.
"If you don't stop that Evolvyrn fast, they're gonna do more damage than you can cover for, even with Dupligato's speed." The CrossTrix pointed out. "You need to focus on catching them first!"
"But these people could die if I don't get them out of their cars!" Dupligato replied in a panicked rush, pulling a mother and several kids out of an airborne, flipped-over minivan. "What am I supposed to do?! I can't be in two places at-"
Dupligato cut herself off mid-sentence as she realized something. Shadow clones began to manifest from her body, one of which took the people she was carrying and moved them to safety.
"Dupligato." She mumbled. "That- that makes sense now."
Dupligato landed on her feet and raced through the streets of her city with her shadow clones in tow, rescuing passengers as the true body pursued Psikill at top speed. Upon catching sight of her target, she dove into the shadow of the nearest tree and popped out of Psikill's own shadow, grabbing her torso and throwing her to the ground.
"That's...enough!" Dupligato panted, the fur on her tail standing up. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?!"
"Don't patronize me, you shitty cat, I know exactly what I'm doing!" Psikill spat, using her telekinesis to throw Dupligato off of her. "The longer you keep trying to catch me, the more crap I'm going to destroy to slow you down! It ain't a hard concept to grasp!"
Dupligato got to her feet and began to move toward her, but paused at the last second.
"What are you doing?" The CrossTrix demanded.
"If I let her go, fewer people are going to get hurt." Dupligato replied. "I can't put anyone else in danger!"
"See now, that's the spirit." Psikill snorted before running off at top speed.
"Are you insane?!" The CrossTrix exclaimed. "She's a terrorist! If you don't want anyone getting hurt, letting her go is one of the worst things you could do!"
"What do you want me to do, then?!" Dupligato broke down, clutching at her head as she fell to her knees. "I just barely got these powers, I don't know what to do with them! I could have died back there! A lot of people could have died back there! I-"
"Calm down, you're still alive and you're not out of options." The CrossTrix stated firmly. "Twist the dial to twelve-o'clock."
Dupligato took a deep breath, steeled her nerves, and turned the dial. With a teal flash, she transformed into a blue and cream-colored bird-like alien with a single, cloak-like wing extending from her neck. Her legs were double-jointed, ending in large, hooked talons.
"This is Skyjack, your designated flight alien." The CrossTrix explained. "You need to get a good ways off the ground. Even if you've never flown before, it should be instinctual for her species."
Skyjack tilted her head toward the sky and jumped, using her powerful legs to gain upwards momentum. She spread out her wing and used it to keep her trajectory, flying high into the air above the city.
"Okay, what now?" Skyjack asked, flapping her wing to keep her hovering in place.
"Skyjack's species are apex predators and have the ability to lock onto prey from up to five miles away." The CrossTrix answered. "Start looking in the direction Psikill took off in and see if you can focus in on her."
Skyjack complied, narrowing her eyes as she scanned the ground below. She spotted a flash of movement flying through the suburbs and focused in on it, locking in her target and confirming it was Psikill.
"Let your instincts take it from here." The CrossTrix said. "She won't see you coming."
Skyjack tried to clear her mind, shaking out unnecessary thoughts and allowing the most primal parts of her mind to assign a label to her target.
Within the blink of an eye, Skyjack lunged forward through the air, aimed directly at Psikill. Her wing cloak curled up around her, turning her into a smooth cone that plunged toward the ground at incredible speed. A sonic boom was the only warning Psikill got before she suddenly found herself being smashed across the head with Skyjack's talons, sending her careening to a messy halt in the road.
There was a flash of red light as Psikill's transformation was canceled, reverting the Evolvyrn into its user. A red lock and key dropped to the ground as the user scrambled to her feet with a panicked expression. Skyjack landed nearby and looked over at her, causing her to freeze up.
"Th-that symbol on your chest!" The woman exclaimed. "You're the one who used the cat alien just now! How do you have more than one transformation?!"
Skyjack gave no reply, staring at her with an unreadable expression.
"Look, y-you can have my EvoKey! Whatever you want! Just don't hurt me!" The woman pleaded.
Psikill's user was so busy trying to bargain with a silent Skyjack that she didn't even notice as a police cruiser pulled up behind her.
"I'll stop attacking stores! I'll just stick to strongly-worded letters! I'll-"
"You'll be heading to jail is what you'll be doing." Christine Eldridge walked up behind the woman and put her in handcuffs. "Nice job admitting you were the one who was doing all that right in front of me, by the way. You just saved me some paperwork."
Christine escorted the woman into the back of her vehicle as more police cars started to arrive to investigate the scene. Skyjack slowly began moving, hoping she'd be able to slip away from the situation at hand.
"Not so fast, flyboy." Christine walked over to her. "We need to talk."
Skyjack gulped nervously.
"I saw you take down that Evolvyrn. Caught everything on my dashcam." Christine said. "You didn't do anything illegal here, but I'd advise against that in the future. Alien or not, you're still a civilian, and the last thing we need is an unneeded casualty. Understand?"
"I don't really mind dying if that's what you're worried about." Skyjack tried to assure her.
"I..." Christine pinched the bridge of her nose frustratedly. "Alright, there's a lot to unpack there, but first off, get some help for that. Second, I'm a police officer. Your personal opinions aside, making sure civilians don't die is a pretty big part of my job."
"Oh, I- I didn't really think about that."
"Not to mention that charging into a situation you're not trained to handle correctly could end up making things a whole lot worse." Christine continued. "I'm not trying to tell you off here, I just want you to keep this stuff in mind, okay?"
Before Skyjack could reply, a jet-black limousine pulled up nearby, drawing a sour look from Christine.
"Fantastic." Christine growled. "Just what I needed today."
A lithe man who appeared to be somewhere in his sixties dressed in a black suit stepped out of the driver's seat and walked to the back of the limo, opening the door for someone sitting inside the car. A pale, black-haired young man wearing a dark purple suit climbed out of the vehicle and straightened a magenta tie he wore underneath his collar. His movements were somewhat unnerving, appearing almost snake-like in their flow.
"Thank you, Svelte." The young man stated in a flat tone. "Quite punctual as usual."
"Hold it, Raivent." Christine snapped. "You aren't getting that key back unless you answer some questions."
"Key?" Skyjack wondered aloud, turning to look at the red key lying next to the lock on the ground. Upon closer inspection, a chamber in the center of the key's shaft was filled with a strange, multicolored liquid.
"I'm under no legal obligation to tell you anything." The young man tsked. "I'm simply here to reclaim my property."
"Uh...who are you?" Skyjack asked, raising a hand.
"Lucius Raivent, acting chairman of Raivent Enterprises." The young man replied. "Our company is responsible for the distribution of the EvoLock system."
"Which is illegal, mind you." Christine hissed.
"The manufacturing and sale of EvoLocks and EvoKeys is illegal." Lucius corrected. "My company neither manufactures nor sells these items; we simply contract them out. I am no more legally responsible for the actions of an Evolvyrn than a car rental service is for the misuse of their vehicles."
"Isn't that kind of dishonest, though?" Skyjack mumbled. "You're not really following the point of the law..."
"Thank you!" Christine exclaimed, gesturing at Skyjack.
"You're free to criticize my character if you'd like, but I'm more concerned with efficiency than my personal image." Lucius replied. "Besides, the contract is automatically voided if the issued system is used with criminal intent, hence the punctual retrieval."
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."
With that, Lucius entered the vehicle and closed the door behind him. Svelte gave a short bow to those present before climbing back into the car himself and driving away.
"I cannot stand that kid." Christine scowled as she watched the limousine leave the area. "As for you..." She turned and jabbed a finger at Skyjack. "I hate to agree with the bastard, but he's right. You shouldn't be sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. If I were you, I'd ditch the transformation device ASAP and get back to your normal life."
"But I don't have a life." Skyjack protested.
"You are beyond missing the point here."
Inside the limousine, Lucius sat in silent contemplation, with the EvoKey placed neatly inside a briefcase next to him.
"Is everything alright, sir?" Svelte asked. "You're unusually quiet."
"Assuming that was an Omnitrix she was wearing..." Lucius said. "How do you suppose she got her hands on it?"
"I can't say I would know." Svelte replied. "I wasn't aware it was even available to the average person."
"It shouldn't be." Lucius stated. "That's what has me concerned."
"Is it possible that the creator of the EvoLock system has something to do with it?"
"Most likely." Lucius tsked. "I'll contact them to get confirmation."
"And if they do confirm it?" Svelte replied.
"Then it's out of my hands." Lucius said.
"Would that be a problem?"
"I don't have enough information to make that call right now, unfortunately." Lucius answered. "If it does turn out to be a problem..."
Lucius reached into another of his coat pockets and pulled out what appeared to be a black and red pistol with an EvoKey slot on its side.
"Then I'll take care of it myself."
As the sun began to set, Teresa entered her house once again, this time with the CrossTrix in tow.
"Don't you still need to go shopping?" The CrossTrix asked.
"I'll take care of it in the morning." Teresa sighed. "I don't really feel like eating right now."
"If you say so." The CrossTrix replied. "First thing's first then, call a psychiatrist."
"Oh yeah, I forgot you wanted me to do that." Teresa mumbled. "I left my phone in my room, so just...wait here, okay?"
"Can do." The CrossTrix perched itself on top of the kitchen counter.
Teresa turned and walked up a flight of stairs to the house's second story. After about ten minutes she came back downstairs, cellphone in-hand.
"So, what's the scoop?" The CrossTrix inquired.
"I can't get one."
"What do you mean, 'you can't get one'?"
"Well, my mom's insurance is the one her company provides for employees, and it doesn't cover psychiatric care." Teresa explained. "Since I'm under her insurance..."
"Can you pay for it without insurance?"
"I don't think we could afford it." Teresa said. "One or two things, maybe, but not ongoing treatment."
"So what are you supposed to do, then?!" The CrossTrix snapped.
"There's really nothing I can do." Teresa shrugged limply. "I just...have to try to deal with it myself, I guess."
"This is a suboptimal situation." The CrossTrix paused. "Maybe Dr. Krauze will have an idea."
"Dr. who?" Teresa tilted her head.
"No, she's not British." The CrossTrix said. "Dr. Krauze is the scientist that created the CROSS system. Needless to say, she's fairly knowledgeable. She may have information I don't that could help us out here."
"I guess there is some stuff I would want to ask her." Teresa mulled over the idea in her head. "I don't have any other ideas."
"Then it's settled." The CrossTrix declared. "We'll visit Dr. Krauze tomorrow. Will you be alright until then?"
"Yeah, don't worry about it." Teresa flashed a weak grin. "I'll be fine."
"I can tell when you're lying."
"Well, I won't be fine, but...I'll be alive." Teresa said. "That's all I can really promise you right now."
"That's all I needed to hear."
The CrossTrix's dial shut off as it went into standby mode, leaving it sitting blankly on the counter. Teresa stared silently at it for a few moments before turning around and heading to her room upstairs.
Was this the right decision?
But all she had the power to do was wait to see how this all turned out.
- Teresa obtains the CrossTrix.
- Unnamed Evolvyrn User
- The name of this episode coincides with the title of the ED.
- Psikill being the first Evolvyrn encountered mirrors the original Pskick's status as the first alien used in the Tech 10 franchise.
- Similarly, Dupligato being the first alien used continues the trend of a speed alien being the first transformation used in each Tech 10 series.