|Ben 10: Heroes of Evolution|
|Season 1, Episode 7|
|Air date||October 20, 2014|
"A Monster's Redemption"
"Coin, Bill and Bullet"
"The Number Game" is the seventh episode of Ben 10: Heroes of Evolution.
PREVIOUSLY ON BEN 10: HEROES OF EVOLUTION...
[Max]: (Over call) Krill and Wyatt Herman were former students of mine in the Plumber Academy.
[Krill Herman]: Someone got to us in the middle of a job.
[Gwen]: What, like blackmail?
[Krill]: At it's freaking finest.
[Krill]: (To TV screen) Who the hell are you?
[Garbled Voice]: Interested third party.
[Krill]: What do you want us for?
[Voice]: For missions, of course!
[Wyatt Herman]: You actually think that's possible?
[Voice]: I know it's possible. I'm a ghost, no one gets to me. If you try, mommy and daddy won't end on such a happy note.
(A text is shown; it reads "everyone is all too disposable to me".)
[Ben]: What's that supposed to mean?
(Krill and Wyatt and seen consuming cyanide pills, their mouths frothing as they die.)
(A ship is seen landing and Max gets out with two Plumbers.)
[Max]: Where are Krill and Wyatt?
[Ben]: *(Sigh)* Right here.
[Max]: (Drops badge in shock) No...
[Ben]: I'm sorry this had to happen.
[Max]: The man I'm looking for now is our mystery psychopath.
[Ben]: Will the big picture set you off?
[Max]: I'm counting on it.
(Ben, Gwen, Kevin, Rozum and Blake are seen talking to an imprisoned Ssserpent.)
[Ben]: How did he get to you?
[Ssserpent]: It was an offer. He uses different methods each time, but he managed to prove that he's a man of his word.
(Krill and Wyatt's traumatized parents are found by Max in a ship in the Plumber space base.)
(Max reads a note saying "I do indeed keep my promises. The loss of two murderers should not devastate you. It makes you weak; you'll have to be strong to face me. Things get interesting from here, Max. I'll see you soon. Signed, ???".)
(Max crushes the note and walks off.)
(Max is sitting looking at a few file folders all titled in Krill and Wyatt's names.)
(A few of them display hard-copy info on past missions. The one sitting next to him is the hostage situation from 2012.)
(He has a few files pertaining to the case uploaded on his computer.)
(Max selects a file off of a Plumber archive. It reads as empty.)
(He crosses off "Archive 09117" from a handwritten list of leads, many of which are also crossed out.)
(Green neon lights on a door behind him light up and the door opens. A man walks by, played by Jack Plotnick.)
[Man]: Good evening, Magister.
[Max]: Oh, hi, Thomas.
[Thomas]: Mind if I ask what you're up to?
[Max]: I don't even mind you coming to see for yourself.
(Thomas walks over.)
[Max]: I know, this again. Or, should I say, "this".
[Thomas]: Pretty relentless. How long have you been at it?
[Max]: Roughly a month, now. Not gonna stop.
[Thomas]: Anything we can do to help?
[Max]: I had already said that I was fine making it public among our ranks, but I haven't yet gathered enough leads for this to extend beyond a personal matter. You're all free to treat it as a side project in light of new assignments, but for now I'll have to keep a hold on the reins.
[Thomas]: No problem, Magister. Though I do have one proposal.
[Max]: Which is?
[Thomas]: Your kid? You said he was involved in this, anything from him?
[Max]: So far, no. Ben told me everything.
[Thomas]: Well, whoever this guy is...
[Max]: You've been studying?
[Thomas]: Paying attention, occasionally. With all due respect, judging from where you are now, I'd say I'm fairly caught up.
[Max]: Within the scope of relevance, that's right at the start. I've literally gotten nothing all month.
[Thomas]: Have you gotten any fresh air?
[Max]: Well, at first I thought I'd just make use of this office and now it's become a practical home for me, so, no, I guess. I dropped down to Earth a few weeks back, but it was to get the stuff out of the Rust Bucket. This is temporary relocation.
[Thomas]: Well, as for assistance, most of the guys out in the field are getting the meat right now. Being an analyst, not much to do. You did say this guy was a hacker, right?
[Max]: More like a digital blackmailer.
[Thomas]: Well, considering that I'm in the technological department both occupationally and by division, I think my group would be a good fit for this. Well, that's of course if you consider help.
[Max]: I never gave it a second thought that you'd be the first people I went to. As for Ben, that whole experience was just something he shouldn't have gone through.
[Thomas]: You wanna lay off of him for a while?
[Max]: He's probably under a bit of stress and I feel the space is the better way to go. I'd call it helping him judging that I'm going after the perpetrator, but I've really gotten nowhere. It was a bit too next-level compared to most of the threats he's slightly taken for granted.
[Thomas]: Are you implying that this was a lesson for him?
[Max]: Certainly not. It'd be too harsh to call it a lesson. As for me, the perpetrator here could call it one, but it's just a very twisted game I'm not interested in playing unless there's no other choice.
[Thomas]: Didn't you also get a note?
[Max]: I did.
[Thomas]: Where is it?
[Max]: Victim of what every angry man would do.
[Thomas]: *(Sigh)* With all due respect I think a lead went with it, don't you think?
[Max]: It was a taunt designed to stay with me, and it's succeeded. If not then why would I be doing all this in the first place? It's all just preparation for whenever he decides to come back.
[Thomas]: Was that a phone or something?
[Max]: Spare Plumber badge. I dropped it down on Earth and I haven't personalized this new one. Here, let me get it.
(He pulls it out of his pocket and turns it on. Its holographic interface reads "1 NEW MESSAGE".)
(He selects it.)
(It reads "Still waiting?")
[Thomas]: "Still waiting". What? Where's the sender?
[Max]: No sender info even in the drop-down. It's anonymous.
(A new message pops up.)
("Never go into a game without preparing".)
[Max]: What does that mean?
(Another message appears.)
("You had a month and now the game has begun.")
[Max]: Oh, good god.
[Thomas]: It's a threat. He said he'd be back, right?
(Another message: "Nothing personal. Even on your end. Time to get your friends involved.")
(Max messages back: "When?")
(A reply comes: "3...")
[Max]: Oh my god. Thomas, get to the tech lab!
[Thomas]: Yes sir!
(Thomas runs off.)
[Max]: This could be a bomb. THOMAS! GET DOWN!
(Thomas is gone.)
(Max ducks down under his table.)
(Thomas, meanwhile, has run into the lab.)
[Thomas]: Everyone get on their computers now!
(Max covers his ears.)
(BEEP! BOOP BOOP BOOP!)
[Thomas]: What was that?
(The large screens walling the rooms of the labs static.)
[Technician 1]: What's going on?
[Technician 2]: Alert the Magister!
(Max gets up. His laptop screen and the TV ahead of him static as well.)
(The door opens and a technician walks in.)
[Technician]: Magister, are you getting- (He sees Max's screens)
[Max]: I think this is going around the full station.
(The static fades and black text on a white screen appears.)
("WELCOME TO THE GAME!")
(The techs in the lab look around in shock.)
("I NEED NOT ASK IF YOU'RE READY.")
(A few techs sit down, but their computers show the same message.)
[Thomas]: What the hell?
("YOU BETTER BE. AM I RIGHT, MAX?")
(Max looks at his screen in anger and clenches his fists. He sits down and joins his fingers in anxiety.)
("LET US BEGIN.")
(The camera focuses on a basketball hoop.)
(A green and black ball goes through. The camera pans down to see the ball collapse in a puddle before morphing back into Ship.)
[Ben]: Good boy.
[Julie]: Wanna go again, Ship?
(Ship slides in a circular motion excitedly.)
[Ship]: Ship! Ship!
[Ben]: Come on!
(Ship does one more circle before stretching upwards and sliding through the hoop.)
[Ben]: Yeah, about time that happened.
[Julie]: Do you have a record for how many times he cheats?
[Ben]: No, but I should make one for the time he spends not cheating.
[Julie]: Wouldn't that be a bit... forceful?
[Ben]: If he can feel paranoia, sure.
[Julie]: He's a living creature, remember? Not just a means of transportation.
[Ben]: Yeah, I can see that, don't worry. Hey, you know, basketball's a lot more fun with Ship around.
[Julie]: Do you usually not enjoy it?
[Ben]: You know me, I'm a soccer person. But uh, playing with Ship is probably a tad bit abusive, don't you think?
[Julie]: CLEARLY abusive! You'd be kicking him around!
[Ben]: Eh, he might make for a pretty relentless net or something. "The Rejection Machine", bouncing the ball back...
[Julie]: *(Laughs)* What?
[Ben]: To be honest I don't even know.
(Ship spirals around Julie's shoulders in a snakelike fashion.)
[Julie]: Good boy.
[Ben]: (Dribbles) Man, he loves you more than I do! (Shoots and makes it)
[Julie]: Nice shot, but I thought you said no one loves me more than you.
[Ben]: (Scratches his head and chuckles awkwardly) Yeah...
[Ben]: *(Laughs)* I was just messing with you!
(Julie's glare turns to a slight smile.)
[Ben]: (Extends his right arm) Come here.
(Julie walks over and hugs him.)
(Ben is about to kiss her when his phone rings. He pulls it out.)
[Ben]: It's Grandpa Max. Eh, old people. Though he talks about being one for love a lot.
[Julie]: Is that going good for him?
[Ben]: With a bunch of aliens, sure, I guess. (Answers) Hello?
[Ben]: That's right.
[Max]: I need you up here ASAP. This is tremendously urgent.
[Ben]: "Up here", as in-
[Max]: Plumbers' space HQ, right. Come fast, I said it was urgent.
[Ben]: How bad?
[Max]: Ben, we need to take this seriously. Come up here as fast as you can. I don't have time to explain.
[Ben]: No one ever does. (Puts phone in his pocket and begins walking)
[Julie]: Whoa, where are you going?
[Ben]: Max told me it was urgent.
[Julie]: What's urgent?
[Ben]: I wish I knew.
[Julie]: *(Sigh)* Come on.
[Ben]: I know, I'm so sorry. Look, I'll get us special bookings at whatever restaurant it was you mentioned.
[Julie]: It wasn't even a restaurant.
[Ben]: Yeah, see? Urgent things make me inattentive. (Pats her shoulder, kisses her cheek and walks off) I'll be back soon!
[Julie]: Like always.
(Ben pulls out his phone and dials a number.)
[Julie]: Hey, Ben-
(Ben signals for her to wait.)
[Gwen]: (On the other end) Yeah, what is it?
[Ben]: Are you with Kevin?
[Gwen]: No, what for?
[Ben]: How fast can you get to the basketball court? The one nearby?
[Gwen]: 2 minutes...
[Ben]: Good, try making it faster. Oh, and be sure to tell Kevin. Like Grandpa, I can't explain.
[Gwen]: Wait, Grandpa?
[Ben]: You said wait, I'm waiting. I'll see you in one and a half.
[Ben]: So, Julie, you were saying?
[Julie]: Well, Ship is a pet, but when he's also a means of transportation, he can be pretty good, right?
[Ben]: Oh, I'm fine with using him!
[Julie]: Sure. You wanna go, boy?
(Ship jumps up and down in excitement.)
[Ben]: Oh, but if you're wondering if you can come too, then no.
[Julie]: Well, where are you even going?
[Ben]: Grandpa said Plumber HQ.
[Julie]: Oh, wow!
[Ben]: Yes, and it's in the deep, uncharted trenches of space in which darkness and damnation overrule everything.
[Julie]: Nice try, it orbits Earth.
[Ben]: *(Sigh)* Worth the try. Look-
[Julie]: Yeah, yeah, it's unsafe. Is this a personal matter?
[Julie]: Fine, I believe you, but I actually do want to go to a restaurant now. Let's hope that doesn't wear off by the time you're back.
[Ben]: And if enough of it stays, I'm willing to go to multiple, too. I promise.
[Ben]: And it won't be a burden to me.
[Julie]: Come here.
(Kevin's car pulls up in the distance.)
(Ben and Julie give each other a long hug.)
(Gwen and Kevin get out.)
[Kevin]: Well, someone's getting cuddly.
(Ben sees them make their way to the court.)
[Ben]: Oh, hey guys!
[Kevin]: You make fun of me so much for "what I do" around Gwen, yet you go give people hugs in public?
[Ben]: Hugging is not a sign of unhealthy behavior.
[Kevin]: You call my relationship with Gwen unhealthy?
[Ben]: Well, thinking of its origins makes me cringe.
[Kevin]: Yeah, because everything's centered around you. If you're this affectionate, I can only imagine-
[Ben]: AH - don't even try that. It's my thing.
[Kevin]: I'm the one who tells you not to try stupid things.
[Ben]: Oh, but who's the stupid one here?
[Kevin]: I don't want to punch you in front of your girlfriend, and mine-
[Julie]: Which is why you won't. Ship's here so you won't have to go finding your plane.
(Ship is jumping excitedly.)
[Kevin]: Oh, hi, Glob-Doggy.
[Gwen]: Don't call him that!
(Ship slides back, upset.)
[Ben]: Aw, come on, I told you that you should practice making friends, not enemies.
[Kevin]: It was a joke, for crying out loud.
[Gwen]: Well, you should understand that some people, or pets, are more sensitive than others.
[Ben]: Then how does he live with you?
[Gwen]: Excuse me?
[Ben]: Oh, right, I know which part of him you tend to tolerate.
(Gwen looks at him confused.)
[Ben]: ...and indulge in.
(Kevin wheels around, livid.)
[Kevin]: THAT'S IT.
[Ben]: Oh, so she's not very good at that stuff, is she? I thought you would try to make up for that. See, I told you this was an unhealthy relationship.
[Kevin]: I. Am going to tear apart-
[Ben]: No wonder you cringe every time I ask if you two are having a good time. The thought of a "good time" tends to escape you.
[Julie]: Can you all just take this somewhere else?
[Ben]: You know what? She's right. We have to get going. Sorry, Julie.
[Kevin]: Oh, so you're apologizing to her?
(Ship slides around in circles excitedly before his "glob" solidifies into a cube, from which parts extend out into a blocky engine piece and rooms - as his body extends into wings and guns, circuit-board stripes slide their way up his aesthetic anatomy. Flaps in his ship's wings as well as indentations and weapon functionality all activate and unfurl - his boarding ramp extends from the entryway.)
[Ben]: Man, I really love watching that.
[Julie]: You guys have fun!
[Ben]: Oh, tell them to have more fun.
(Kevin pushes Ben and he staggers up the ramp. Gwen shoves by him and walks in.)
[Ben]: Bye- WHOA!!!
(The ramp tilts up and the door closes.)
(Ship's engine thrusts and weapons all light up green as he lifts off the air. Julie's hair and clothes blow.)
(Ship rotates clockwise as Julie stands back - she waves as Ship takes off.)
(Ship stunts through layers of clouds as shakes in his takeoff.)
(They slowly exit the atmosphere as Ship's flight becomes more and more smooth.)
(A shot off the exterior of the Earth shows Ship calmly floating out of its atmosphere and into the silence of space.)
(Ben and the team look out the window.)
[Ben]: You know, Andromeda's beauty was always visible from this end.
[Kevin]: You sound like you've never been to space. Hell, you sound like you haven't even looked through a telescope before.
[Ben]: I haven't done either of those things in a while, cut me some slack!
[Kevin]: When your desires kick in, do you literally forget everything that's happened beforehand?
[Ben]: That's how I'm all cheery after the incident two days ago.
[Kevin]: And we are if we don't talk about it.
(The circuits lining Ship's interior all "bleep" and "bloop" in telephone-like noises as the circuits pulsate while glowing.)
(They hear a noise behind them.)
(An exterior shot shows Ship's engine thrusts flashing with green lights before flaps out of the boosters unfold and extend.)
(As they are in space, the exterior shots have a fully silent background soundscape, with Ship's exterior sounds being muffled and low.)
(The thrusts jet out a green flame as Ship tilts to the right.)
(A heavy, "plane engine" sound resonates around Ship's interior as the lights on his engine thrusts rotate around.)
(Ship slightly trembles as he angles himself towards the right...)
(An exterior shot shows him slowly speeding up and suddenly zipping off in a muffled "whoosh" sound.)
(They all shake in their seats as Ship angles around Earth...)
(His takeoff sounds die down into low, humming system noises as he steadies his flight.)
(Ben, Gwen and Kevin look around at the space they are traveling in, surrounded by several satellites and small pieces of space debris.)
[Ben]: Flight plan set, systems check complete.
[Gwen]: On a living organism.
[Kevin]: Is this thing on autopilot?
[Gwen]: Ship is not a "thing".
[Ben]: He doesn't care, he's just too impatient to beat the hell out of me.
[Kevin]: I think we all wanna beat the hell out of you.
[Ben]: And I think we all know how that's gonna turn out.
(They hear and feel a muffled crash on their side; Ship tilts to the left.)
[Ben]: That was space debris, Ship can steer around them.
(Ship tilts to the right as circuits on his left interior flicker.)
(Ben stumbles over to the window and looks out to the left.)
[Ben]: Not too many satellites here, just a bunch of floating poles or whatever.
[Gwen]: You sure Ship can steer around these? If he can't, I can fly him to do so.
[Ben]: Just wait a little more.
[All three]: AAH!!
(Ship tilts upwards.)
(Circuit lines on the "floor" of the interior flicker and retract; the back of Ben's seat "folds" in.
[Ben]: What the hell?
(Ship leans to the right, and then tilts downwards.)
(Ben's seat unfolds back up and Ship's inner circuitry reforms.)
(Ship tilts to the left and begins and descending to a lower elevation.)
[Ben]: Told you he can use his brain.
[Kevin]: No, you didn't.
[Ben]: Well, I implied it.
[Ben]: Okay, if you're gonna look all proud like you've finally outsmarted me, you haven't. You're the one that called him a "thing".
[Kevin]: Well if you're gonna look like you don't wanna waste your time arguing, thank yourself for starting it.
[Ben]: No, I'm not even gonna own up to it. I hate it when you guys don't cheer up.
[Gwen]: Well, only a psycho like you would cheer up after witnessing the gigantic suicide of someone we know.
[Kevin]: God, can you stop bringing that up?
[Ben]: (Imitating Kevin's voice) Don't talk to her like that, dude!
(Kevin takes a deep breath while giving a murderous glare to Ben...)
(Kevin stumbles over and Ship tilts to the left. Ben, holding onto his seat, is laughing.)
[Ben]: (Giggling) Man, your menacing pose! (Laughs harder and points) You totally got screwed over on that one! Hahaha!!
(Ben, still grinning, looks at the window. His face instantly drops to confusion and then fear.)
(A red laser is incoming.)
[Ben]: GET DOWN-
(One of Ship's wings goes up in flames as the circuits flicker - Ship corkscrews through space as the camera pans towards the Plumber base.)
(The alarm rings briefly as several technicians crowd the room, some running in.)
[Tech 1]: Get on it! See what happened!
[Thomas]: Yeah, there's something in our zone! Turmoil within radius! Find it!
(Several technicians work rapidly on their computers.)
(A door behind them opens and Max comes in.)
[Max]: What, did he tamper with the alarms now?
[Thomas]: Magister, this isn't phony. We got alerted to something within the radius of-
[Tech 2]: Thomas, I got it! Mechamorph in flight, appearing to be on the verge of crashing!
[Thomas]: Focus on it, run a quick analysis!
[Max]: Get that on the right side. Left side, you zoom in on it!
[Tech 3]: Yes sir!
(Max walks over to the left-hand computers. Something is projected on one of the screens.)
[Tech 4]: Got it, sir! Right wing is set aflame.
[Max]: I'll be damned. I can recognize that one any day.
[Tech 1]: I'm sorry, sir?
[Max]: That's Ship. Ben has to be inside!
[Thomas]: Tennyson, sir?
[Max]: Well who the hell else named Ben would I be this worried about? Let them in, send in assistance!
(Ship is plummeting towards the base.)
(Thomas holds the button operating the external intercom.)
[Thomas]: Hello! We understand your flight has been taken off-course, assistance is being sent out immediately! Is Ben Tennyson among the passengers?
(Inside Ship, Ben scrambles for his Plumber badge inside a box. He holds the talk button.)
[Ben]: Yes, yes! This is Ben Tennyson, I'm with Gwen Tennyson and Kevin Levin! Our Ship has been attacked!
[Tech 3]: Sir, incoming aircraft is 50 meters from base.
[Max]: Open the doors!
(A first-person shot through Ship's window shows the base's entrance doors opening below. Several starfighters zoom past and around.)
[Thomas]: Sir, I don't think they're gonna make a clean landing. Their trajectory is way off, and I doubt they'll have time to retake control before something bad happens.
[Max]: In that case, activate artificial atmosphere! Set it to one minute!
[Tech 2]: On it, sir.
(A shot from afar shows a transparent green bubble shield forming around an exterior section of the base. The shot changes to first-person view through Ship's window as the green shield engulfs the area around them.)
(Thomas presses the intercom button again.)
[Thomas]: Guys, you can breathe now! If you're unable to steer your vehicle, allow it to shift back to its regular anatomy! We have rescue craft hovering nearby!
(Some of the rescue ships hover near Ship.)
[Ben]: Wait, we let him ditch aircraft mode?
[Gwen]: We're gonna fall!
[Kevin]: The guy said there's rescue ships!
[Ben]: I see them!
[Gwen]: Make up your mind fast!
(Ship's tail section gives way and sets aflame, and he tilts forward, swinging around in circles like a crashing helicopter. He loses altitude.)
[Max]: Lower your altitude people!
(Four ships plummet downward near Ship.)
[Rescue Pilot 1]: Guys, get out of the Ship! Do you have command over it?
[Ben]: (Into badge) We do! But he's injured, off-course!
[Rescue Pilot 2]: Ask him to give way!
(Many of Ship's circuits' lights retract while others flicker - his front section's parts fold inward and make a large gap. Ben, Gwen and Kevin are thrown forward but hold on to bars.)
(Two rescue fighters fly in front of Ship.)
[Rescue Pilot 3]: Let go! We'll catch you!
[Ben]: You sure?
[Rescue Pilot 3]: Of course we're sure!
(Just as they're about to let go, Ship rotates to the left by accident and tips forward into a nose-dive.)
[Max]: Dammit, dammit!
(Ship's backside closes in, leaving broken wings and an open body frame - it looks like a tube.)
(Ben and the others look down as they're diving straight down towards the landing pad.)
[Ben]: Guys, let go now!
(They let go of the handlebars as their hands fly in the air. They're falling in midair as they're about to go down headfirst...)
(A rescue ship flies THROUGH the tubular hollow body Ship has been reduced to, catching the three as it comes out the other side.)
(Max, Thomas and several watching technicians put their hands on their head and gasp in astonishment.)
(The rescue ship smoothly slows down and lands in the hangar, with Ben, Gwen and Kevin hanging from below.)
(When the ship stops, they let go and land down gently on the floor.)
(The techs burst out into a round of applause. Ben and the others step out into the light, staring in shock.)
(He runs over to Ben and hugs him tightly, followed by Gwen. He gives a light bro-hug to Kevin. They are all gasping and panting.)
[Max]: I'm so glad you're okay.
(Ship's tubular remains screech through the doors and stop a short way behind the rescue ship.)
(Their circuits retract as the rest of the body crumbles back into Ship's exhausted normal form.)
(Ben lets go of Max and runs over.)
[Max]: Ben, come back-
(Ben runs over to Ship and picks him up, cradling the injured creature in his arms.)
(He stops and notices a darkened green spot on his left sleeve. He turns Ship around and inspects him - his back-right side is slit and stained with dark green blood.)
[Ben]: Two of you, get over here! He's wounded!
(Two armed Plumbers run over.)
[Plumber 1]: Here, let me see.
[Ben]: It's gash on his side.
[Plumber 2]: Yikes.
[Ben]: He needs immediate medical assistance. Take him to the lab right now!
[Plumber 1]: We're on it, thanks for the notification.
[Ben]: Sure thing.
(Ben puts his hands on his hips.)
(Max and the others run over.)
[Max]: Ben, calm down, seriously!
[Ben]: Wasn't this matter urgent?
[Max]: It is, but-
[Ben]: I'm not in shock, and I'm totally fine except for a few scratches on my arms. It stings but it doesn't even need a band-aid.
[Max]: And Gwen and Kevin?
[Ben]: They can speak for themselves, can't they?
(Ben walks off while Max turns to Gwen and Kevin.)
(Ben goes over to Thomas.)
[Ben]: Are you the guy over the intercom who sent out the rescue ships?
[Thomas]: That's right. Thomas Bridges, pleasure to meet you Ben. I'm one of the head technicians around here.
[Ben]: That's some damn fine work! You guys don't mess around when it comes to this.
[Thomas]: Well, it was an emergency...
(Ben sees the rescue pilot get out.)
(He runs over and startles the guy with a brief hug.)
(The technicians watch, slightly amused.)
[Ben]: THANK YOU.
[Pilot]: Man, you startled me.
[Ben]: No, seriously, thank you. I owe you my life. Your flying skills are impeccable.
[Pilot]: My pleasure.
[Ben]: Guys? Someone give this man an award right now.
[Pilot]: (Chuckles) That'd be nice if I didn't already have 'em all.
[Ben]: Well, look at you! I suppose you've been around here for a while?
[Pilot]: Longer than my unit. And that's saying a whole damn lot. Captain Brian Reed of the Plumbers' Elite Paper Squad.
(Ben shakes his hand.)
[Ben]: Paper Squad, huh? Sweet name!
[Reed]: Yeah, we were goofballs back then, deciding on votes and all that. We've grown to become, well, basically the best unit out there. No offense to all you guys, anyways you're part of a whole different gig.
[Thomas]: (Doing a "good point" face) True.
[Ben]: Well, I can say it's more than just an honor to meet you, Captain Reed!
[Reed]: Same goes to you, kid. You're something of a celebrity even up here, you know that?
[Ben]: I'm guessing most of the talk about me comes from Max?
[Reed]: (Laughs) Yeah. Over here he's Magister Tennyson.
[Ben]: Yeah, makes me feel tough when good ol' grandpa's the king of the world, you know?
(A man's voice is heard from behind.)
[Voice]: Good to see you two know each other, but we have an emergency at hand, let's get going.
(Ben walks over into clear view - the man is in fact a talk, well-built Chimerian.)
[Ben]: Ooh, what do we have here? Vilgax's kind?
[Max]: Buddy, am I supposed to know who you are? Wait - I am. I run this place.
[Chimerian]: I understand that. What I don't understand is your point, old man.
[Max]: Who the hell are you?
[Chimerian]: I am Magister Sylax Newell, sent here to assist on the matter at hand.
[Thomas]: (Salutes) Pleasure seeing you again, Magister.
[Newell]: Yeah, you too. People, Thomas worked for a brief period of time in my old unit.
[Max]: Seems like you just got here.
[Newell]: I did. I was just now alerted of the recently-solved commotion.
[Max]: Oh, right! Ben, you said you were attacked!
[Ben]: It was a powerful blast that came outta nowhere. I'm sorry grandpa, but I can't tell you where it came from or who sent it.
[Max]: The answer to your second bit of info is actually why I brought you here.
[Ben]: You know who's responsible?
[Max]: All of you, come with me. Reed, you return to your barracks.
[Reed]: Yes sir!
(Max begins walking towards a door. Ben, Gwen, Kevin, Newell, Thomas and the remaining technicians all follow in a large triple-file line down the hallway.)
(The hallway is lined with transparent green laser windows overlooking a large area far below - this is a sky-bridge.)
[Ben]: That view...
[Max]: Never wears off, does it?
(At the other end of the hallway, Max uses his palm to bypass a security console. Inside is a very, very wide room walled with high-definition screens, and filled with computer stations projecting holograms. The central computer is a circular table projecting green holographic info, similar to the holoprojectors from Star Wars.)
[Max]: Tech unit 2, get on it!
(Thomas and several technicians from behind the line run into the room and get to their seats.)
(There's now enough space to see the full room. Max moves aside and allows Ben, Gwen and Kevin to walk in.)
[Max]: Look around you, what do you see?
(Ben, Gwen and Kevin stare in astonishment at the screens. They all say "LET THE GAMES BEGIN".)
[Ben]: What the hell happened here?
[Max]: We're still trying to find that out. We believe (and hope) that it'll result in some long-awaited closure.
[Ben]: Did you guys get hacked or something?
[Max]: That, and cut off from all outside Plumber jurisdiction. We're on our own in here. It was apparently very easy for the man responsible.
[Ben]: Wait, you said long-awaited, as in a case you've been working?
[Max]: As have you, in a way.
(Max turns to the central computer.)
[Max]: Speak. We're ready.
(They wait a few seconds.)
[Gwen]: Grandpa, what is this?
[Max]: I said speak.
(Three seconds pass.)
[Deep, Distorted, Modified Voice]: Now now, that's not the way to behave, is it?
(Ben, Gwen and Kevin go wide-eyed and look at each other.)
[Voice]: Number one rule of my game is that you're no longer giving the orders.
[Max]: You have no jurisdiction here. We still haven't detected a physical threat.
[Voice]: Oh, I was hoping you'd say that.
(Max looks confused.)
[Ben]: He's saying we won't know what hit us.
(The voice chuckles.)
[Voice]: Ah, Ben. So nice to hear from you again.
[Ben]: Touche. I could say this is a little in-the-flesh. You sound exactly how I imagined you to. That's of course if you're our good old penpal who can't afford a loose end.
[Voice]: Can't argue with that, nice to see you again. Or meet you, it's all a matter of perspective. As for me, there's no imagination required. You caught my eye quite a good while ago.
[Ben]: Do we know each other?
[Voice]: Not in this life.
[Ben]: (Smirks) That sounds kinda romantic.
[Voice]: (Chuckles) You're fun. And everyone else, you might want to listen up! I don't need to hand out a verbal rule manual for our game. Hell, I don't even need to tell you what to do. By the time I'm done here, you'll feel so small that you won't even bother giving out a command. Every move you make ensures my checkmate. If you find that unfair, then you're wrong. It's difficult, not unfair. If it were unfair it wouldn't be a game. After all, what role does a host really have except saying things, eh?
(Magister Newell steps into the space angrily.)
[Newell]: You listen to me. We don't negotiate with terrorists, you understand? You're anyways too afraid to even show yourself and far too insecure to even use your real voice.
[Voice]: Oh, we have a feisty one over here! And you're branding me a terrorist this fast? I've done nothing to you!
[Ben]: Good point. In that case stop acting like you're so tough.
[Voice]: I don't need tough when I'm untouchable.
[Ben]: Well there you go, we have a weakness. You get one witness and you're screwed, buddy. You might as well show people what you're really made of.
[Voice]: So happy to hear that. In fact, let's just cut to chase! Have all players signed in to online multiplayer?
[Max]: What's your "game" gonna solve?
[Voice]: Are you serious? That's like asking for the answers to a test! Where's the fun in cheating?
[Max]: As we said, we don't negotiate with terrorists.
[Voice]: You didn't say it, Magister Newell did.
[Newell]: How the hell do you know who I am?
[Voice]: I know who you are, I know the color and pattern of the bedsheets you slept under while growing up, and I know that your mother is trying Fried Xenocyte Eggs for dinner as we speak. She's using a more spicy seasoning she keeps on the top-right shelf. Point is, I know you. Now if you'd stay a little quiet, it'd be nice.
(Newell looks tense and glares, breathing deeply and shakily.)
[Voice]: *(Exhale)* Max, you just met your rude friend and there's already tension. You're not a united force until every member is in. Am I right?
[Max]: Hm. People, take it on my behalf. We need to stick together on this one.
[Techs]: Yes sir!
[Voice]: Oh, no, no sir!. Don't take it on my behalf. I'm wrong. I thought you should know that, I was just messing with you there.
[Newell]: I'm sorry?
[Voice]: You can never be fully united at the moment. Of course, you can all be ready, but not united.
[Max]: What does that mean?
[Voice]: My game won't begin until all players are signed in on the same team.
[Max]: We are. The whole station's listening.
[Voice]: That would mean the mole is, too.
(Max goes wide-eyed and looks around. Several technicians look all shifty. Cut to a few radio operators in a separate room looking shocked at each other; a few Paper Squad trainees look around in their barracks. Newell stares nervously.)
[Max]: A mole?
[Max]: What the hell "mole" are you talking about? You tell us right now!
[Voice]: Sorry I told you what your prize was. That was a slip, and we don't need details to put salt in the wound.
[Newell]: The mole is our prize?
[Ben]: Guys, he wants his subordinate to get caught. It's part of his plan.
[Voice]: I would call this more of a lesson to mistrust your system more than your enemies, but where's the fun in playing games at gunpoint? Your obligation to this ordeal comes as part of the package.
[Newell]: And what if we don't want to play?
[Voice]: Then, my friend, heads will roll. Heads. Will Roll.
(Everyone is tense and looking around.)
[Voice]: Someone who you pass by everyday in the halls, someone who you greet a good day to, is spending his good days plotting some very, very devious things. And he is somewhere in this complex, lingering about in plain sight... it all gets very suspenseful, but I like seeing people solve puzzles without spoonfeeding clues.
[Ben]: This mole's apparently a male, someone take note of that.
[Thomas]: On it.
[Voice]: Oh, no need to keep track of details. They'll come and go in rapid succession, all in a sequence.
[Gwen]: Aren't you one for puzzles? Keep going, guys, everything has to lead to everything.
[Voice]: Oh, check you out! Comrades in arms, siding with everyone's favorite hero. I don't blame you for your way of thinking - a keen mind for architecture would look for details and piece placement often.
(Gwen turns nervous for a second before composing herself.)
[Gwen]: I'm not asking how you know that.
[Voice]: Oh, it's simple, I can see you.
[Kevin]: Is that so?
[Voice]: It is, big man. I have been for a while. Everywhere you go, I can tell you the seconds at which you blink. I might as well be tracking you with a chip, but that's cheating for me. Watching people is my business, it's child's play. Eyes and ears: you were born with 'em, if only you could put them to good use. See, if you love your job, then you don't have to work a second of your life.
[Ben]: You make your own work, don't you? An independent contractor, that's what you are.
[Voice]: In part, yes. I use such occupational attributes to accumulate power.
[Ben]: And you take the credit after the guys behind the dirty work are done for, isn't that right?
[Voice]: If it weren't, then all you'd be asking right now is "who are you?"
[Ben]: We're all still wondering that. It's just not worth asking anymore.
[Voice]: At least you understand. The rest of you will come through eventually, by the time my work here is done.
[Thomas]: When's that?
[Voice]: When someone completes our game. Clean and simple. That's how I do things. Even puzzles can be so when everything doesn't turn out too convoluted. Just a clean flowchart you need a bigger piece of paper to draw on. You people, you're all too simple. All I have to say is that 'there's a bomb in this building', and everyone will drop their pants running. Chaos can be beautiful sometimes.
[Ben]: You want us to prove you wrong?
[Voice]: Only the Plumbers wouldn't like a good challenge. But nonetheless, I'm still in the mood for a sales pitch.
[Ben]: Then go ahead, make your move. Invest in the Sharks, buddy.
(Several people look at Ben like he's crazy.)
(Ben continues to look at the computer screens.)
(BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP!)
(Everyone panics. Every computer in the room makes a "bleep" noise.)
[Max]: Everyone get on it!
(All the technicians rush to their stations. Ben, intrigued, leans his hands on the central computer, tapping his feet. Max, Gwen and Kevin gather around him while Newell watches the screens ahead.)
[Tech 1]: Sir, we have something.
[Max]: Put it on the screens.
(A few seconds later, the main screen and the central holoprojector both display a set of numbers:)
[Max]: What do these numbers mean?
[Ben]: Well, we obviously have to find out. We can't ask him.
[Kevin]: Gwen, any thoughts?
[Gwen]: Sure, but come on, guys, you can't just keep relying on me. This is all about inferences. If he's leaving us to play his game, we have to think fast. There's a big chance all this threats are real.
[Ben]: She's right, guys.
[Max]: Time is of the essence, people. Competence is a default. You hear?
[Techs]: Yes sir!
[Max]: I'm gonna go notify Paper Squad to stay on alert, and I'll be monitoring between this lab and the command deck. Ben, Gwen, Kevin, Magister Newell will be taking command on this end. Thomas manages things on the technological end. Feel free to offer your insight, just don;t get on people's nerves. Clear?
[Ben]: Clear, Magister Tennyson.
(Max smirks and walks off.)
(Ben wheels around.)
[Ben]: Okay, people, what first comes to mind when looking at these numbers?
[Thomas]: Social security numbers? They have this exact configuration.
[Ben]: Alright, check for that.
(Thomas and a few others start typing things in.)
[Newell]: Hey, aren't I supposed to be taking command here?
[Ben]: I'm just warming these guys up.
[Newell]: Listen, there's no "warm-ups" here. We have to take every bit of this seriously.
[Ben]: I am, but I didn't know you did too. Whatever happened with not negotiating with terrorists.
(Newell grabs Ben's arm.)
[Newell]: You listen to me, you better show some respect around here.
[Ben]: You show some respect, I'm the Magister's kid, buddy! Get your hand off of me!
[Newell]: That doesn't give you the license to misbehave in the middle of a crisis.
[Ben]: Hey, I'm just waiting for the techs to get something.
[Thomas]: Ben, the SSN thing didn't work.
[Ben]: Did you even find anything?
[Thomas]: The numbers are those of Sylvia Green, Brian Hodges and Anthony Morgan. Three people who have nothing to do with anything whatsoever.
[Ben]: Fine, though we can't deny it wasn't a start. We have to think outside Earth - this guy doesn't necessarily have to be one of us.
[Newell]: As in a non-human?
[Ben]: Yeah, like you, for example. I'm not at the friendliest stance with a specific member of your clan, but I'm not hinting anything on your end.
[Newell]: I really don't approve of your manner.
[Ben]: You know what? Neither do I. You go take command of the troops, see what you find. I'm gonna go take a walk.
[Gwen]: Ben, this place is on lockdown.
[Ben]: I can still go meet Paper Squad, can't I? That's if one of them isn't the mole.
[Gwen]: Yes, exactly! You'll be in danger!
[Ben]: Danger is a part of everyone's lives, cave-girl. And hey, they don't call me Ben 10 for nothing, eh?
[Kevin]: They call you that because of your actual freaking name.
[Ben]: Then I guess I got lucky. Thank mom and dad for me. Oh, and good luck, Davy Jones!
(Ben waltzes off over to the door, but it doesn't open.)
[Ben]: Come on...
(He looks back at the others.)
[Ben]: Aren't these things automatic?
[Newell]: They are if it recognizes your security clearance.
[Ben]: I'm at least supposed to have some access here, right?
[Newell]: As far as I know, you're stuck with a visitor's badge.
[Ben]: Yeah, so be it.
(He turns to the security console.)
[Ben]: Ben Tennyson.
[Console Voice]: Name and/or voice not recognized.
[Ben]: Benjamin Kirby Tennyson.
[Console]: Name and/or voice not recognized.
[Ben]: Magister's grandson, dammit! Recognize something!
[Newell]: What did I tell you?
[Ben]: I'm not gonna ask you for a favor, man.
[Newell]: Which is why you should make more friends than enemies.
[Ben]: I tell that to Kevin.
[Newell]: And how's that working out for him?
[Ben]: Not so good. And don't blame me, that's been a problem for him all his life.
[Kevin]: You take your inner nuisance wherever you go, don't you?
[Ben]: And my outer one.
(The door suddenly opens. Max walks in.)
[Max]: Alright, how we doing?
[Thomas]: Still on the starting stage, social security number didn't check out.
(Ben sneaks through the door behind Max.)
[Max]: Hey! Ben, get back here!
(He looks behind him, and Ben is gone.)
[Max]: Doesn't he get this place is on lockdown?
[Gwen]: We told him, he didn't listen.
[Max]: Did you do anything about it?
[Newell]: Not that we necessarily wanted to.
[Max]: What did I say about incompetence?
[Newell]: My fellow Magister, you have one very spoiled young individual back there.
[Max]: Fine, he's a bit of a loose cannon, but did he get you anywhere?
[Newell]: Not that I'm aware of.
[Thomas]: Guys, we tried six different ciphers in the time you were arguing and it all maps to gibberish. We took note of it in case there's some code, but we're still looking for better leads.
[Max]: Thank you for the update, Thomas. You guys carry on, I'll go find my esteemed grandson.
[Newell]: If I were you I'd keep him in a detention suite.
[Max]: Lovely insight. I'll be back in five.
(Ben is walking around an elaborately lit hallway, observing the place.)
(As he makes it towards the door on the other side, a suited man emerges with a gun aimed.)
[Man]: Hands in the air!
[Ben]: (Putting his hands up) Whoa, there, slow down! I'm harmless!
[Man]: Who the hell are you?
[Ben]: Ben Tennyson, dude! Look at this! (He turns his wrist to expose the Ultimatrix.)
[Man]: Doesn't scream harmless to me, but that's enough of a confirmation. I'm Cole, Paper Squad Battalion B.
[Ben]: What's behind the door?
[Cole]: Training area. Everyone's gathering around for a team briefing - training is the most unsafe thing we'd be doing right now.
[Ben]: Can I see?
[Cole]: I'm not sure.
[Ben]: Here, can you move?
[Cole]: No! Security protocols obligate me to keep watch on intruders!
[Ben]: I'm not an intruder, am I? I'm just a kid, please?
[Cole]: What you hold might as well be called a WMD.
[Ben]: Well you don't have the brightest outlook.
(Another man walks in.)
[Man 2]: Hey, what the hell is going on here? Cole, you harassing this kid?
[Ben]: Yeah, he is. Poor kid just wants to see your team gathering.
[Man 2]: Holy mother o' god, are you Ben 10?
[Ben]: Yes, routine excitement bound to follow. I'm just here to meet Paper Squad, I already met one of your guys, Reed.
[Man 2]: Oh, Reed's the big boy around here. As for me, I'm Fitzgerald. Come on in.
(Ben walks into a spacious room where one group of people is conversing while the other is exercising.)
[Ben]: Well look at you beefcakes! What's that, a 64-pack you've got around here?
(Some of the exercising guys stop and get up.)
[Ben]: Hey, big fellas! I'm Ben 10!
[Man 3]: You serious?
[Fitzgerald]: You're damn right he's serious.
(The most muscular guy steps up. He's massive, and bald with a black tank-top.)
(He gives Ben a tight, swift handshake.)
(He speaks in a very low voice:)
[Big Guy]: Ah- now you shake off your hand and we're gonna call you a cream puff. We clear?
[Ben]: We are clear. What's your name, you Hulk Hogan?
[Big Guy]: People here call me Gus. That's that.
[Ben]: Hey, at least it's not another terminator named "Tiny".
[Gus]: You lookin' for a fight, kid?
[Ben]: I'm certainly up for one, except a guy with a voice even deeper than yours is trolling our servers back there. I just came here for a visit.
(One of the conversing men gets up.)
[Ben]: And who exactly are you?
[Man]: Williams. And we're not supposed to be lazing around here, guys.
[Gus]: You shut the hell up, you slim twig. We're exercising.
[Williams]: We should be assisting the Magister, not out here flexing.
[Gus]: Yeah, you go see what Gramps is off doing.
[Ben]: Probably looking for me.
(The door opens.)
(Gus and a few other beefcakes look up.)
(Max walks in.)
[Ben]: Stand up straight, you idiots! Big Boss is here!
(Gus looks at him.)
[Max]: You have any idea how long I've been looking for you?
[Ben]: Well, it's only been around 5-7 minutes since I ran off.
[Max]: Whatever. Glad to see you've met Paper Squad.
[Ben]: I heard there was a Battalion A and B?
[Max]: Yup. Cole and Battalion B make up the more idealistic side while Gus and the big guys are the more volatile Battalion A. I allow them to believe that conflict makes collaboration and follow through on it.
[Ben]: So basically the Jerks and the Jocks.
[Williams]: Hey, you shut up!
[Ben]: (Points) There's a jerk...
[Beefcake]: Who do you think you are, little man?
[Ben]: ...and a jock. Now, have Thomas and the others found anything?
[Max]: Most leads point to nothing, sorry.
[Ben]: Okay, I guess we have to be a little brute-force here.
[Max]: Which way do you mean that?
[Ben]: Oh, right. Good ol' Gus is standing right next to me, but I need to take a few drastic measures. I have a hunch.
[Max]: Which you didn't think to offer early on?
[Ben]: I came up with it while looking around this place. Come on, I'll show you. Nice talking to you, Jerks n' Jocks! Say hi to Reed for me, will you?
(Gus glares at Ben as he and Max leave.)
(Max and Ben are walking back to the lab.)
[Max]: So what did you mean by "drastic measures"?
[Ben]: Well, both time and competence are of the essence, and you didn't call me up here for nothing, now did you, grandpa?
(The entrance door opens. Ben swiftly strides up to the central computer.)
[Ben]: Good day to you too, Magister Newell. Now! I hear that most of you are still at the drawing board here, so I'm gonna have to let the reins a little loose here.
[Newell]: What the hell does that mean?
[Ben]: Grandpa Max was wondering the same. Perhaps you two could sit and discuss theories, or you could just watch me work.
[Gwen]: Watch you work?
[Ben]: Take a few steps back.
[Ben]: Because I'm afraid that if you don't, a few crabby pincers are gonna get you in the soft spots.
[Newell]: Excuse me?
(Ben pulls back his sleeve, turns the dial on the Ultimatrix, and slams it.)
(Ben's veins all light up green as his skin tans and hardens. His fingers join together into a "live long and prosper" sign as his fingernails extend, get sharper, and join together. His thumbnail does the same until the skin on his hands hardens and recolors.)
(Ben's legs spread and split into six as his torso thins and his ribs rearrange. His skull stretches and his eyes separate. The next shot shows a large grid of numbers, symbols and equations, which all get contained into some kind of cracked-open 3D cube that expands into an electric net, which surrounds and shocks his brain. The electricity from there travels down his veins and joins at the center, where a metal brace extends. The Ultimatrix symbol protrudes, rotates once, and glows.)
(There stands Brainstorm, with his large left pincer awfully close to Newell.)
[Brainstorm]: What did I say about soft spots?
(Newell sidesteps clear of Brainstorm's proximity.)
[Brainstorm]: Okay, so which do we do first? A hack into the servers to locate a likely encrypted channel by which our man is communicating? Or to take this step by step and crack our code? That way you diminutive minds will be caught up on this.
[Thomas]: Wait, you're gonna hack the servers?
[Brainstorm]: It reinforces a theory I formulated.
[Gwen]: Clarify, please.
(Brainstorm turns to a random technician. The man has semi-dark skin, hefty eyebrows, good build and a not-so-short buzz-cut of black hair. He speaks with a relatively baritone but smooth voice. He looks a lot like this CBS news anchor, Maurice DuBois.)
[Brainstorm]: You, what's your name?
[Tech]: Chad Highlander.
[Brainstorm]: Can I see your badge, please? Everyone else keep your eyes on those numbers.
(He takes off his badge and gives it to Brainstorm, who tosses it onto the holoprojector table.)
[Brainstorm]: Now, I am unsure whether you'd call this a long-shot or not, but see Highlander's ID? Eight-one-two-one, six-three-nine-nine. Two sets of four digits.
[Brainstorm]: Now notice the numbers. These could be one of two things, or both. Something I didn't see you people consider is space coordinates.
[Thomas]: Dammit, how could we miss that?
[Brainstorm]: Now, the convenience of the following is awfully high, but understandable - remove the initial zeros off of the numbers.
(Thomas types something in and enters it. It appears on another screen.)
[Brainstorm]: Take off the dashes.
[Brainstorm]: Eight digits. Just like Mr. Highlander's ID.
[Thomas]: You're suggesting that these could be Plumber ID's?
[Brainstorm]: While you're at it searching for that, the origins of this theory come from the common idea that zeros are placeholder numbers. Pursuit of that idea gave me this small experiment - however, most obvious things, especially stereotypes, usually lead to evasion of further details. With that, the numbers with the initial zeros could give us space coordinates.
[Gwen]: Therefore, if these ID's are indeed Plumbers', those Plumbers are at their corresponding space coordinates?
[Brainstorm]: Excellent and correct. Of course, the convenience of a setup like this only means he hand-picked these people just because they belonged in these coordinates. And yes, he does get what he wants - blackmail, most of the time, apparently. Either your men aren't all that morally strong, or he's just better.
[Voice]: What about both?
(They're all startled.)
[Brainstorm]: Ah, good to see you back on voice chat. Did it feel exciting seeing us crack your little puzzle, hm?
[Voice]: Better than ever.
[Brainstorm]: Take that as a warning, everyone. Well then, friend, leave us to our work. We're playing your game, we needn't be interrupted.
[Voice]: Very well.
(He goes offline.)
[Newell]: Only you would be able to induce appreciation from psychopaths.
[Brainstorm]: And only you would be jealous.
[Thomas]: Ben, I got it. Two of them, at least.
[Brainstorm]: Well, let's start with the good news, shall we? What were the two names?
[Thomas]: Brett Reginalds, and Harlan Sanders. Confirmed Plumbers.
[Brainstorm]: That means I won't have to hack to network to confirm untrustworthy leads.
[Thomas]: Hold that thought. Third one's not showing up with anything.
[Brainstorm]: Encryption, or lack of validity?
[Thomas]: Not valid.
[Brainstorm]: Hmm, that one's suspicious. Well, what about the coordinates?
[Highlander]: I handled that one. They check out to these strange floating box structures out in space. As for the third one, again, nothing.
[Brainstorm]: Well, before we're off investigating, don't you have several satellites orbiting around notable coordinates?
[Thomas]: Yeah, a few of the ones we found are actually among the more prominent monitoring range.
[Brainstorm]: Just as I thought - whoever's in charge of whatever's at the third set of coordinates is bound to have tampered with the satellite's surveillance history, just enough to achieve a seamless illusion of consistency.
[Max]: Well, sorry for my silence, I was listening all this while. Proud of you, kiddo. Great work. Paper Squad's gonna go investigate this right away.
[Newell]: I'll stay here to monitor this. Max, you decide what you want to do.
[Max]: Thomas, take six techs with you to accompany me to the command deck, we need to work fast and save briefings for later.
[Thomas]: Understood, sir.
[Max]: Ben, you're free to watch either end. Just don't get lost.
[Brainstorm]: As much as my Cerebrocrustacean self revels in fascination at this labyrinthine structure, my more human side would be accustomed to curiosity. Long story short, I'm coming with you.
[Max]: *(Chuckles)* Sounds good.
(A shot from space slowly zooms in towards the Plumber HQ as Paper Squad Starfighters zoom past.)
(In the command deck, Max, Gwen, Kevin and a human Ben walk in. Thomas and six other technicians follow him in.)
[Max]: Alright, people! Everyone needs to be on the alert! What do we have? Details details details!
[Tech 1]: Magister, we have Reed of Battalion A on live feed and Williams for B. Former is at coordinate set 1 and the latter is at coordinate set 2.
[Max]: Sounds good.
(Thomas gets to his station.)
[Thomas]: Alright, A is two kilometers from their destination, B is three. Estimated time is five to six minutes until landing. (Presses intercom) Guys, can you hear me?
[Reed]: (Through radio) Battalion A, check.
[Williams]: (Through radio) Battalion B, check.
[Thomas]: Alright, all precautions are ready for you guys, we'll stay on the alert. As soon as we have sufficient information on this third set of coordinates, we'll redirect your search there. It's bound to have more on our mole due to the secrecy, but that doesn't mean you can't search every nook and cranny of your assigned compounds.
[Thomas]: Alright. Good luck.
(A shot shows three Starfighters curving to the right and towards a rectangular black building floating in space. It's lined with red lights.)
(Ben and Max are watching with their arms crossed. Gwen and Kevin are sitting down. The wide windows have a clear and magnificent view of space.)
[Gwen]: Man, space looks beautiful from here.
[Kevin]: Yup. We could be held at gunpoint and we still have to check out the view.
[Max]: *(Chuckles)* I agree.
[Ben]: Grandpa, you think this mole is real?
[Max]: Well, you take our mystery man more seriously than I do, so I think he just wants us to feel threatened.
[Ben]: I just sure do hope those guys are armed and armored good. These are dead obvious traps.
[Max]: Reed'll be proud to have you on his fan list. Listen, son, every worker in the Plumbers is a proud soul who performs every action in their lives with a sense of honor and dignity. If this "mole" is real, he's breaking that code. It makes me mad. And I'm stopping at nothing to find him.
[Ben]: Then neither am I. Our guy seems to be targeting me. He already targeted my family once, but apparently they were safe.
[Kevin]: Well, I saved them.
[Ben]: You told me you just got Krill and Wyatt out of the house.
[Kevin]: Well, while your parents didn't get hurt, they were being interrogated.
[Kevin]: I'm sorry I didn't tell you this, but those guys' deaths were a bit too sad to blame them for anything.
[Ben]: *(Exhale)* Thanks, man. I owe you one.
[Kevin]: Start by stopping with the insults.
[Ben]: Uh, no. But this guy has got some serious nerve sending innocent men after my family and then going after their's. I guess we all have a grudge.
[Thomas]: Hey, guys? Both Battalions have landed. They're going in.
[Max]: Keep them on a constant live feed.
(Battalion A's men jump out of their fighters, which they land on top of the buildings. They gather up, holding high-tech machine guns.)
[Reed]: Alright, you guys all got mobile gravity on?
[Gus]: If we didn't, we'd be floating.
[Reed]: Then let's go. Three of you head to the center of this block to check for entrances, while I go check around the perimeter. If we don't find anything, we use force. Understood?
[Fitzgerald]: But we don't know what's under here. We could just be digging our way into a trap.
[Reed]: Well, no kidding! It's why we've got these bad boys. (He cocks his gun.) Weapons check, gentlemen.
[Plumber 4]: Fully loaded.
[Plumber 5]: Copy that.
[Reed]: And loaded. Let's go!
(In a dimly lit red corridor, six armed men jump down from a hole cut into the ceiling.)
(Guns aimed, they sneak through a corridor, until reaching the other side. After a brief corner cover, they go into the next one.)
(One of the men checks his badge, which projects pictures of Reginalds and Sanders.)
[Cole]: Look man, we need to know these guys' faces, fine, but they could be masked, or hidden.
[Plumber 2]: It's fine, just making sure.
[Williams]: Ssh, I hear something.
(They wait a few seconds in corner cover. Williams counts from three to zero with his fingers before they jump out into the corridor with their guns aimed.)
[Max]: (From earpiece) Anything so far?
[Williams]: No, sir.
[Max]: Alright, keep going.
(Reed and his men swiftly move through a diagonal corridor with their guns aimed.)
[Reed]: Alright, search this room.
(Gus kicks down a door and they search inside. It's empty.)
[Fitzgerald]: Hey, I found another door!
(The men move over to the next one. Reed tries opening it, but it's locked.)
(A first person shot through X-ray binoculars shows nothing inside.)
[Gus]: I'm getting no traces from inside.
[Reed]: In this case, human eyes are better than cameras. Let's go in.
(Gus takes a step back, aims his gun, and fires one at the door handle. Red circuits on the door light up before flickering dead.)
(They open the door...)
(A close-up shot of one of their feet shows it stepping into the range of a laser light.)
(The men reflexively put up their green laser blast shields that deploy from their wrists. They lay low and approach a mad turret.)
[Reed]: Stay clear! Behind those desks!
(Two men get behind some desks while Fitzgerald and Gus flank Reed from behind.)
(Reed approaches the turret with his shield up, and sneaks out his gun.)
(When he's close, he shoves his wrist forward - the blasts backfire and briefly fry the turret. Reed fires two at the tripod the turret stands on, permanently disabling it.)
(Reed lowers his arm while a few Plumbers deactivate their shields.)
[Fitzgerald]: Proximity turret.
[Reed]: Someone didn't want us in here. Search this place!
(One of the Plumbers at the desks turns on his headset light and looks around.)
(Reed turns on his intercom.)
[Reed]: Sir, we walked into a turret trap. It's disabled but we're searching the room right now.
[Max]: Anything else?
[Reed]: Not at the moment. It's a big maze with a bunch of offices, as far as we've seen.
[Max]: Team B's not doing too well either. Did you find anything yet?
[Reed]: Hey guys, anything?
[Plumber 1]: Not yet.
[Reed]: They say not yet. I'll report back when we do, of course.
[Max]: Remember, stay careful. Everything there is a trap.
[Reed]: Of course, sir. Only the paranoid survive.
(He lowers his arm.)
[Plumber 2]: These desks look practically empty. No scrawling, no invisible ink.
(He's crouching underneath a table. He gets up and turns to the door...)
(A loud gunshot gets him straight in the head - his helmet cracks in half and explodes in blood and brains.)
(An armed figure is at the door. The Plumbers open fire.)
(The figure takes cover and sprints down the hall.)
[Reed]: GO! GO! GO!
(The Plumbers sprint out of the room and chase after the figure.)
(The figure takes a right. The Plumbers stop at the corner - Gus and Fitzgerald jump out and open fire while Reed and the other two Plumbers stay in corner cover.)
(Gus takes one to the abdomen but his armor cushions it. He flinches but continues firing.)
(A bullet storm comes in and Fitzgerald and Gus lean on opposite walls.)
[Gus]: There's more of 'em!
[Reed]: How many?
(The other two take a peek there are about five armed figures approaching.)
[Plumber 3]: Five, sir.
[Reed]: Then we're even. Fire!
(The other two come out into the open. One of them fires while the other throws a concussion grenade.)
[Reed]: (Into radio) Sir, we have five armed figures in the building, we're engaging them.
[Max]: Do you need reinforcements?
(Reed peeks out into the hallway. One of the men stumbles and falls.)
[Reed]: Stand by, we just got one.
(Williams, Cole and another Plumber sneak across a catwalk and take a right.)
(Through the window, the other three are visible through a second window parallel to Cole and Williams, on the far opposite wall.)
(Cole and Williams carefully make it to another turn...)
(A man jumps out and kicks Williams. Cole aims his gun, but the man kicks Cole back and knocks the gun out.)
(Williams jabs the assailant, who blocks him and knees his abdomen. Cole grabs the man by the throat, but the man wheels around and shoves him into the other Plumber. He swings Williams in the face and runs behind them.)
(The camera follows the guy and then pans across the catwalk into the opposite corridor, where another fight is taking place. The other Plumbers' assailant pins one of the guys to the wall, kicks the other back, and runs out.)
(Both the enemies are running towards each other on the catwalk...)
(They're both shot in the back of the head and collapse on top of each other. Williams and the Plumber opposite him lower their guns.)
(The door behind them opens. Newell and two guards walk in.)
[Ben]: Well, look what the cat dragged in.
(Newell glares at him.)
[Max]: Magister Newell. Aren't you supposed to be supervising the tech team?
[Newell]: This is technically still a tech team.
[Max]: Fine. The Intel Monitoring Station.
[Newell]: Unfortunately, even I have the ability to experience boredom. No one likes seldom progress and I didn't have to push the team. There was just nothing to be found.
[Max]: Yeah, we're seeing some action over here.
[Newell]: Precisely why I came.
[Max]: Armed men in both compounds. Progress is sufficient.
[Newell]: Don't you think this division is more appropriate for me age-wise?
[Ben]: Grandpa, can I go grab a drink?
[Max]: Take that hallway behind you and then a left, and you've found a cafeteria. We need guards accompanying you in danger of this mole.
[Ben]: And if one of the guards is the mole?
[Max]: *(Sigh)* You two! Come here!
(Two guards come on over.)
[Max]: Take Ben with you to the cafe.
[Guard 1]: Understood, sir.
[Newell]: Why is it that this is the second time you've left in my presence?
[Newell]: Are you scared of me or something?
(Ben turns around slowly with a "WHAT?" face.)
(He then bursts out laughing hysterically.)
[Newell]: (Glaring) Get him out of here.
(Ben and the guards leave.)
(Ben is coming back down the hall with a Coke in hand.)
[Ben]: So, what? You guys really don't like any of the drinks there?
[Guard 1]: (Expressionlessly) No.
[Ben]: Okay, then. But you've gotta admit those refrigerators and vending machines are awesome.
[Guard]: (Expressionlessly) You'll get used to them.
[Ben]: Well, unfortunately my stay here doesn't even go beyond a day.
(A very faint thud is heard behind them.)
[Guard 1]: Keep moving.
[Ben]: No, I heard something.
[Guard 2]: How come we didn't?
[Ben]: A, hearing problems, or B, your helmets.
[Guard 1]: Guys, keep moving.
[Ben]: Hold on.
(Ben turns around and goes over to a door. The sign above says "Paper Barracks [A]".)
[Ben]: These guys have signs named for them? Guess they have been here long.
[Guard 2]: It's probably nothing. You're not allowed to enter, you'd be trespassing.
[Ben]: But we wouldn't, you guys are Plumbers. Well, so am I.
[Guard 1]: The Magister clearly stated to come back here after you get a drink.
[Ben]: Oh, come on, old people can be naive. And if you guys keep freaking out over this, I'm gonna assume you're hiding something in there. Mole-lackies, hmm?
[Guard 1]: That's ridiculous.
[Ben]: Then open the door, let's see to it. You guys are in the security department, you should have access.
[Guard 2]: We'd then be security violating security protocols.
[Ben]: Do those guns give 'em hell?
[Guard 1]: What?
[Ben]: You seem to have sufficient weapons, so you'd be prepared.
[Guard 2]: All twelve Paper Squad members are in the field!
[Ben]: Who said the mole is Paper Squad? Open the damn door. I know I heard something.
[Guard 1]: *(Sigh)* Fine, I wanna see if you're actually right.
[Ben]: Ooh, a sense of competition! You guys do have personalities!
(Guard 1 goes to the door. It opens.)
[Ben]: It's unlocked?
[Guard 2]: Dammit.
(The guards aim their guns and carefully enter. Ben follows as they go down the stairs and take a left to the door.)
(It opens automatically.)
[Guard 1]: No proximity lock enabled. What the hell is this?
(They cautiously approach in, as Ben slightly pulls back his sleeve.)
[Guard 2]: Stay behind me.
(The guards walk around the exercise equipment and examine it.)
(Guard 1 opens a side door into a small room with a deactivated digital scoreboard inside. They open up drawers at a desk.)
[Guard 1]: Clear.
(Guard 2 peers through the window at the gymnastics equipment.)
[Guard 2]: That area's open.
[Guard 1]: Check the lockers.
[Guard 2]: Good idea.
(Ben takes a quick look around before following the other two.)
(They walk over to another door and inside is a room surrounded by lockers.)
[Guard 2]: I've got an E-key.
[Guard 1]: Same. Let's search.
(Using the "E-keys" to automatically unlock the doors, the guards open up all the lockers on one end of the room. They're all empty or filled only with clothes and spare uniforms.)
[Guard 2]: Get the other end.
(As the guards search the other lockers, Ben goes around a little barrier separating two rows of benches and into the bathroom.)
[Guard 2]: Hey, where are you going?
[Ben]: I think I remember hearing the noise from here.
[Guard 1]: Wait up.
[Guard 2]: I'll continue with the lockers.
(Ben has already made it further in.)
[Ben]: Check the supply closet!
(Ben is looking around at the ceiling.)
[Guard 1]: I'm ordered to stay with you at all times!
[Ben]: No, you were ordered to accompany me to the drinks and back.
[Guard 1]: And that's what we should have done. We're wasting our time here.
[Ben]: Hang on...
(As he looks straight ahead and around the walls, he hears a light splash on the ground.)
[Ben]: Is there a leak?
(He looks down.)
(His left shoe has stepped in water... tainted with red.)
(His eyes go wide. He looks up at the door of a stall, behind which the bloody water is running.)
(He lightly pushes the door, and it creaks open.)
(He sneaks over behind it...)
(Guard 1 hears this. He runs over.)
[Ben]: Get over here!
(The guard rushes over to the stall, stepping in the pools of blood.)
(Ben is standing near a mutilated and bloodied naked body dropped on the floor under the shower. It is surrounded by pools of blood, and the walls are stained.)
[Guard 1]: (Panting) Oh, good lord. Steer clear!
(Ben gets back, panicking, and leans on the sink, looking in the mirror in fright. He turns back around.)
(The guard is bent down next to the body. He's on the intercom.)
[Guard 1]: I need immediate assistance right now in the Paper Squad A lavatory! We have a casualty! I repeat, we need immediate assistance!
(Guard 2 comes in, panicking.)
[Guard 2]: What the hell happened? (Looks at Ben) You alright?
[Ben]: (Wincing) No... *(Gasping)* No.
(Guard 2 wheels around and enters the stall, horrified. Guard 1 is performing CPR on the dead man.)
[Guard 1]: Come on, damn you...
(Footsteps are heard outside. Four guards, a few doctors, Max and Newell enter the bathroom.)
[Newell]: Where are we needed?
[Guard 1]: Over here!
(The Plumbers rush in and surround the body.)
(Max sees it and is dumbfounded and frightened.)
[Max]: Jesus Christ. Ben! Ben, are you alright?
[Ben]: I'll... I'll be fine.
[Newell]: Everyone, on it right now! We need additional medical support down here ASAP! Get forensics here too, grab all the equipment! Time is of the essence!
(The paramedics put the man on a stretcher while forensics investigators and lab workers rush in to the scene. The man is wheeled off as Max puts an orange shock blanket around Ben and exits the room with him.)
(Out in the gym, Gwen and Kevin rush down the stairs as two guards follow. They run over to Ben.)
[Gwen]: Ben, are you okay?
(Ben turns to the right, as his eyes follow the stretcher. Gwen puts her hands over her face while Kevin drops his crossed arms.)
[Ben]: *(Sighing)* I found the guy in the stall after stepping in a pool of his blood.
[Kevin]: How'd you know he was down here?
[Ben]: I heard something hit the ground and convinced the guards to go down here with me. There were stains on the walls, so I think someone kept his body leaned upright.
[Kevin]: Why the hell would they do that?
[Ben]: I have no idea.
[Max]: Paper Squad is still out in the field. If this guy was one of them, then they're in trouble.
[Gwen]: We find his killer, and we find the mole.
[Ben]: Of course it's gonna be harder than that.
[Kevin]: Usually it's me who makes remarks like that only to be told to cheer up, by YOU.
[Ben]: I think I see your point.
[Kevin]: Yeah. Chill, it's gonna be alright.
[Ben]: Funny how much we make fun of cliches and later rely on them, right? And why this blanket? I'm not in shock, I'm just in, uh, a state of being startled. Oh wait, protocol, right?
(Newell walks out into the room while a forensics guy behind him goes up the stairs.)
[Newell]: You alright, kid?
[Ben]: Not that I think you care.
[Newell]: Yeah, if there's one thing no one can kill in you, it's your attitude. Listen, the lab guys tell me DNA analysis'll take around 10 minutes.
[Max]: That's a full analysis. All I need from you is to get me the name of that poor sucker, and if he's in Paper Squad, then our boys back there are in trouble.
[Newell]: You think I can go interrupt lab procedures?
[Max]: I run this place and I'm telling you that you can. You three, come with me.
(Ben, Gwen and Kevin follow Max up the stairs.)
[Kevin]: Hey Ben, I heard you searched the lockers?
[Ben]: They did.
[Kevin]: Fine, did they find anything weird?
[Ben]: I'm not gonna ask you to clarify, because you're just acting childish and stupid at the wrong time.
[Kevin]: Well, I guess the wrong time's the best time when it comes to a taste of your own medicine.
[Ben]: Hey, you still didn't get one over on me like I did an hour ago back on Mother Earth.
[Kevin]: So what if I'm not good at comebacks?
[Ben]: Everything. I can only imagine a double-date would look like.
[Kevin]: Tell that crap to yourself. You know, is this how you behave around your girlfriend?
[Ben]: No, and not that it's your business.
[Kevin]: Touche again.
[Ben]: Except I don't make silly guesses, I'm to-the-point.
(Gwen and Kevin turn shifty and irritated. Ben grins.)
[Ben]: See how easy that was?
(Ben starts walking ahead of Max.)
[Ben]: Oh, and Kevin, if you're wondering how I manage to gain so many friends-
[Kevin]: I'm not.
[Ben]: Don't say I didn't warn you when you do! (He runs off)
(Kevin angrily exhales. Gwen, resting her head on Kevin's shoulder, shakes her head in scorn.)
(Out in the halls, Ben sees a forensics guy coming in frantically.)
[Ben]: Hey buddy, what's wrong?
[Tech]: I need to talk to Magister Newell right now, it's urgent.
[Ben]: What's it about? Wait, did you ID the victim?
[Tech]: We did, and I need to see the Magister!
[Ben]: Whoa, calm yourself. What's his name?
[Tech]: *(Gulps)* Nick Waterman. Paper Squad A.
[Ben]: (Goes wide-eyed) That's all I'll be needing, thank you.
(Ben turns and runs down the halls towards the command deck. Max, Gwen and Kevin come out of the barracks.)
[Tech]: Magister Tennyson? Is Magister Newell there?
[Max]: Is this concerning Paper Squad?
[Tech]: Yes, sir.
[Max]: You can talk to me, son. They're under my jurisdiction.
[Tech]: Well, our body belongs to one of them. Nick Waterman. Whoever's going by that name on Team A isn't who you think he is.
[Max]: (Looks around) CRAP. Where's Ben?
[Tech]: Command deck, sir.
[Max]: Good work. Resume your analysis in the lab.
(Max runs off. Newell comes out of the stairs.)
[Newell]: You asked for me?
(Max frantically runs into the command deck and sees Ben looking over the techs.)
[Max]: Where are we on this?
[Thomas]: Waterman's badge signal is encrypted. We can track it but can't get in without drastic measures. I'm almost done, but the encryption key doesn't match that of the digital ID mask used to hide info on the third set of coordinates.
[Max]: Obviously not, it has to be duplicated.
[Thomas]: True. And wait for it... done.
(The Plumbers step over a few dead bodies and head towards a closed cargo door on the straight path within an intersecting hallway.)
(There's a security console on there.)
[Fitzgerald]: Console, huh?
[Gus]: Well, breaking it ain't gonna help.
[Reed]: Probably not.
(As they approach the console, it lights up... with a Plumber symbol.)
[Reed]: What in the hell?
[Plumber 4]: It's likely a trap, if they actually do allow access.
[Gus]: Guys, let's all tell each other things we don't know, shall we?
[Fitzgerald]: You know what? Screw it. I'm getting in, you guys have shields anyways. If there's a mad turret, we've got it.
[Reed]: Lock n' load.
[Gus]: It's how we do things, isn't it?
[Reed]: Tell me something I don't know.
(Fitzgerald leans down in front of the console and shows his badge to the console. It beeps.)
[Console]: Access granted.
[Fitzgerald]: Huh. Get a load of that.
(He and the others aim their guns and put up their shields. The door opens.)
(They hold out their guns... a turret is waiting for them but doesn't shoot.)
(They all stare intently for a few seconds before slowly lowering their guns.)
[Plumber 5]: It's not a trap?
[Fitzgerald]: Yeah, why'd it let me in?
(Fitzgerald, confused, looks at his badge. His face turns shocked.)
[Fitzgerald]: What the...
[Gus]: Something wrong?
(Fitzgerald turns his badge over for everyone to see.)
[Fitzgerald]: Nick Waterman. Why the hell do I have his badge?
[Reed]: You tell me! Where's your badge?
[Fitzgerald]: I had it here the whole time, where'd it go?
[Gus]: Fitz, what's going on?
[Fitzgerald]: I have no goddamn idea! Where the hell is Waterman anyways?
(Reed's intercom blinks.)
[Reed]: It's Tennyson. (He answers) Yes, Magister?
[Max]: Nick Waterman was found a few minutes ago on your bathroom floor. You can probably guess how he's doing right now.
[Reed]: (Turns scared) Oh my god.
[Max]: His murderer is with you.
[Reed]: And I think I know who it is. (Aims gun) FITZGERALD! DROP YOUR GUN, GET DOWN ON THE GROUND RIGHT NOW!
(The others also pull their guns on him.)
[Fitzgerald]: Whoa! What the hell did I do? Calm down, all of you!
[Reed]: Do what I said right now or I shoot you in the head! I'm serious!
[Gus]: Reed, please tell me what on Earth is happening.
[Reed]: (Still looking at Fitzgerald) Oh, I'll tell you. Nick Waterman was found dead in our bathroom a few minutes ago. Guess who's wearing his badge?
[Gus]: (At Fitzgerald) You smug son of a-
[Reed]: This is the last time I'm saying it, Fitz! Drop your weapon, and get on your knees! I'll give you three seconds!
(Men burst in and open fire. Gus and the other two Plumbers open fire while Fitzgerald gets back. Reed keeps his gun aimed on him.)
[Reed]: You're not going anywhere! Guys, keep firing!
(Cole, Williams and another Plumber meet with the other three Plumbers at a hallway opposite the sky-bridge from earlier. At a doorway, they move in.)
(Cole checks his map.)
[Cole]: Alright, further into the compound here, we can split up again.
[William]: Wait... hold that thought.
[Williams]: What's that?
(He points to a tiny path to the right of where they are.)
(They all look behind them to that wall.)
[Williams]: It's a ventilation shaft.
(One of the Plumbers scans the wall with X-ray vision. Its display shows a pink vertical line highlighted further back.)
[Plumber]: Williams, the thickness of this wall changes at a certain X-coordinate that stays the same as you move up and down. This shaft goes down.
[Williams]: It's been cut off from surveillance, that's what.
[Cole]: We don't fit.
[Williams]: No kidding.
(He pulls out a small marble-like black ball from a wrist compartment, that suddenly starts to hover as a red light turns on. He sets a flight path on his wrist for 4 seconds before shifting to manual control.)
(The mini-drone flies into the shaft. First-person view through its camera follows it down - Williams can see this projected on his wrist. He begins to manually control it through the shaft. Cole draws its path as it goes on a touch-screen on his wrist. The other Plumbers keep their guns aimed in the hallway.)
(The drone exits out into a dark room. The camera view begins to static and fade out. Cole stops drawing the line.)
[Cole]: From where it cut off, that room seems to be right around this corner. Midway through this hall, there's an elevator shaft. I took note of how far down the drone traveled, so if there's a hidden floor...
[Williams]: ...we'd know when to stop the elevator and get searching. Good work, let's get on it.
(Gus and the others get one of the guys. One of the Plumbers leans on the wall to reload.)
(Fitzgerald pulls his gun on Reed.)
[Fitzgerald]: Reed, this-this is all a big mistake! I've been set up!
[Reed]: That's what they all say! You're that mole the hacker mentioned! You idiot, you're conspiring with a terrorist?
[Fitzgerald]: That's bullcrap! I would never-
(A shot comes close to hitting Reed, who turns and fires back, killing the shooter. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, inches his way along the wall with his shield up.)
[Reed]: Oh, you asked for it!
(Reed fires two shots at Fitzgerald, who blocks them and fires back, making his way around the corner and running off.)
(Reed stops firing, removes his shield-projector wrist gauntlet and puts it on his left arm, an holds it up. He slides on the ground across the hallway, under shots while blocking some. He gets up and leans on the other wall, inching over to the corner. He jumps over.)
(Fitzgerald is sprinting down the hall. Reed switches the mode on his gun, begins sprinting, and opens a flurry of ammo through the machine gun feature.)
(Fitzgerald, still running, blocks a few shots with a shield. Two of them get him in the armored back, making him stumble forward but still run.)
(Reed, still running, almost catches up, switches the mode while running back to shotgun mode, and blasts. He misses as Fitzgerald ducks.)
(He cocks his gun again and fires: BOOM! Fitzgerald stumbles and falls.)
(Reed lowers his gun and runs over to Fitzgerald, who's getting up... Reed swings his gun at him as he's getting up, but Fitzgerald blocks it, and kicks Reed. Reed in turn stomps his opponent's foot, and shoves the gun forward. Fitzgerald rolls backwards and rushes Reed, grabbing his gun and misfiring it behind him. Reed uses the distraction to land two jabs in Fitzgerald's face; Fitzgerald fires back, but misses.)
(Reed butts Fitzgerald in the abdomen with his gun, but the uppercut that follows is blocked by Fitzgerald, who then knees Reed twice. The second time, Reed blocks it, and in the same move, grabs Fitzgerald's foot, throws him forward, and kicks him back.)
(Rushing Fitzgerald, Reed's slam with his gun is blocked by Fitzgerald, but Reed lowers the gun, kicks Fitzgerald's arms back (breaking his defense) and fires one at his armored abdomen. A cringing and coiling Fitzgerald is slammed across the head, twice and brutally, by Reed, who finishes with a roundhouse kick that brings Fitzgerald to his knees. Reed keeps his gun aimed at the back of Fitzgerald's head.)
[Reed]: Told you it was over.
[Fitzgerald]: (Groaning and panting) Listen to me, man-
[Reed]: NO. *(Pant)* No. You're done.
(Fitzgerald calms down his panting and then pauses. The camera shows his face, which turns to confusion and then realization.)
[Fitzgerald]: *(Pant)* Wait...
[Reed]: You're staying right here until they clear the hall.
[Fitzgerald]: ...It was you, wasn't it?
[Reed]: I'm sorry?
[Fitzgerald]: You're the one that did it.
[Reed]: Oh, was that your plan? To pin it on me? Your dishonorable piece of crap, you're gonna pay for what you did.
[Fitzgerald]: I'm not pinning it on anyone. It was you the whole time.
[Reed]: That's ridiculous!
[Fitzgerald]: The expression on your face gave you away.
[Reed]: You can't even see my face! If you tried, a bullet would be in yours.
[Fitzgerald]: And you wouldn't give the trigger a second thought, would you? It's not possible when the nerves get to you.
[Reed]: No, it's you who's trying to get to me here.
[Fitzgerald]: I'm the only one who knows right now, giving you further motive to get rid of me. You will anyways, I know it. At least I'll know I died exposing a corrupt rat.
[Reed]: (Deep, angry breath) You want to talk me into killing you, is that it?
(The other soldiers rush into the hallway.)
[Gus]: Clear, boss.
[Reed]: Good. Call in additional support to arrest this murderer.
[Fitzgerald]: I'm not a murderer, you idiots, he is!
[Gus]: Say what now?
(Thomas, meanwhile, is looking at the red dots moving around on the digital map. Max and Ben are watching intently.)
(One of them is moving around. Suddenly, a yellow ring goes around it as it's automatically selected.)
[Thomas]: There, I've located the source of the encryption.
(He double-clicks the dot. It shows up with info... on Fitzgerald.)
[Thomas]: But he's wearing Waterman's badge.
[Ben]: So who's that?
[Thomas]: It's standing still, here...
(Reed's intercom beeps. He answers.)
[Thomas]: Hey, it's Thomas. Are you holding Fitzgerald?
[Reed]: I am, he's not going anywhere. Have you sent out pickup ships?
[Thomas]: Not just yet, just give me a sec...
(On the other end, Thomas types a few things in. One of the dots on the map changes from red to purple.)
[Thomas]: Okay, back. Here, can you have Gus do something for me? Put it on speaker.
[Reed]: (Presses speaker button) Gus! Thomas needs you for something!
[Gus]: Yeah, what is it?
[Thomas]: Okay, listen. Put your coordinate tracker GUI up front...
(Gus presses a few things on his wrist monitor.)
[Gus]: Yeah, did that.
[Thomas]: Good. Now go to these exact coordinates: 019, 542, 331.
[Gus]: Okay, zero-one-nine...
(He watches his tracker as he walks over to the end of the hall.)
[Gus]: Yeah, I'm there.
[Thomas]: Did you bump into anybody?
[Gus]: No, there's nothing here.
[Thomas]: Just as I thought. Fitzgerald's badge's signal has been duplicated. Whatever's carrying it is simulating the appearance of a person being there.
[Gus]: So a virtual member of our team?
[Thomas]: Fitzgerald and Waterman have switched positions. One's real, one's fake, because there is no Waterman.
[Plumber 4]: Unbelievable.
[Gus]: What do you want us to do?
[Thomas]: Check for a drone or some kind of built-in mobile wall device, or something in the floors. In the meantime I'm pursuing a hunch.
[Gus]: Sure thing.
(Thomas views a grid of multiple images of the map from various times.)
[Ben]: What's this all about?
[Thomas]: Here's that hunch I just mentioned. All these are videos I had Highlander edit while we watched.
[Highlander]: (From the side) You're welcome.
[Thomas]: (Smirks) Anyways, I've received them, and they highlight two specific dots. Watch closely.
(He plays one video.)
(Two dots are selected as Thomas says - Max and Ben watch as one of the dots moves to the side a little. A few seconds later, the second dot moves in the same direction, but a little more shaky. The video stops.)
[Thomas]: Did you catch that?
[Ben]: Kind of...
[Thomas]: That's alright. Now look.
(He toggles an option on the side, and a line perpendicular to the hallway shows up. Thomas plays the video again - the first dot makes a mostly straight line as it moves while the second makes a series of smaller dots in its shaky movement.)
[Ben]: I still don't get it.
[Thomas]: That second dot's path was pretty shaky, so I made the tracker plot points around where that figure moved. And when I create a line of best fit...
(He types something in and a straight line moving the general direction of the points is formed, creating an angle with the perpendicular. Thomas presses the enter key again and a second angle shows up, formed with the path of the first dot.)
[Thomas]: Now I measured those two angles and one of them is 29.99 degrees. The other is 30.001.
[Max]: So what? Two Plumbers move in the same direction.
[Thomas]: I know, it looks slim right now, but I thought you two could get some context before we dive into the sweets of this.
(Max and Ben look confused while Thomas switches screens to a split-screen shot of the two videos side-by-side.)
(He presses the enter key again. The reference lines and angles show up on each one.)
[Ben]: Wow, the angles are the same.
[Thomas]: Now is three enough? I'm not sure, so let's see how our friends are doing.
(Thomas presses the intercom.)
[Thomas]: Hey, Gus, how you doing?
[Gus]: Pretty bad, if you ask me.
[Thomas]: That's fine, you were supposed to.
[Thomas]: Here, can you do me a favor? Go guard Fitzgerald.
[Gus]: Well, that's why we have Reed. At the moment, at least.
[Thomas]: Doesn't matter. I need him for my experiment.
[Gus]: Whatever you say, even though this seems to be a little confusing.
[Thomas]: Kinda the point.
[Gus]: Hey, Reed! Thomas needs you, I need to guard Fitzgerald, apparently.
[Reed]: I'm perfectly fine back here.
[Gus]: He says it's for an "experiment".
[Reed]: Can't he see we're in the middle of an operation here?
[Thomas]: Reed, it won't take long. Step aside for a moment.
(Reed sighs, annoyed, and steps aside. Gus takes his place.)
[Thomas]: Alright, Reed. Take five steps forward.
(Reed does so.)
(Thomas watches the screen. Four seconds later, a dot representing a guard on the other end of the room moves.)
[Thomas]: There we go.
[Max]: What is it?
[Thomas]: Watch this.
(Thomas presses a few keys and the labels on the dots show up as Plumber ID numbers. Thomas double-clicks the dot that just moved: it opens info on Mack Fitzgerald.)
[Max]: But he's sitting still!
[Thomas]: Oh, but wait till you see this.
(He double-clicks Fitzgerald's dot, and info on Nick Waterman shows up.)
[Max]: What the hell?
[Ben]: The signals have been switched.
(Something beeps on the computer.)
[Thomas]: Ah, right on time. (He smiles at him) Encryption tracker's finished processing. Let's see the results.
(He opens up a small window and sees a table with two rows of info highlighted green. One Plumber ID says "SOURCE" and the other says "TARGET".)
[Thomas]: See, since we don't have live feed connection in there for video, someone's been creating an illusion for us. Our maps don't tell us everything, especially not the faces of the men we're tracking. So essentially anyone can be anyone.
(He double-clicks "TARGET". Fitzgerald's badge signal tracker shows up with an animated icon.)
[Max]: What do we have here?
(Thomas double-clicks "SOURCE"... Brian Reed.)
(Max and Ben get startled.)
[Ben]: Oh my god.
(Thomas selects all the data he's collected. While he works he turns on the intercom.)
[Thomas]: Gather everyone around you.
[Max]: Do as he says, Reed.
[Reed]: Yes sir.
[Thomas]: Oh, and include Fitzgerald.
[Thomas]: He's unarmed and restrained. And he also needs to see this.
[Reed]: Gus! Come on.
(Gus picks up Fitzgerald, and with his gun aimed, moves him next to a circle of Plumbers.)
[Thomas]: Okay, can they see your wrist projector?
[Reed]: Yeah, they can.
[Thomas]: Okay, hold on a sec.
(Thomas turns off the intercom.)
[Thomas]: Alright, everybody! Eyes up here!
(Highlander, Gwen, Kevin and the other techs stop working and look up.)
(The door opens. Newell comes in.)
[Newell]: Guys, autopsy report's-
[Max]: Shh, not now. Watch.
(Newell closes his mouth, looks confused for a moment, then looks at the screens overhead.)
(Thomas presses the intercom button.)
[Thomas]: Alright, Reed, here you go.
(He sends the snapshot of the data, which then also shows up on the overhead screens.)
(A few people gasp, some stare strangely.)
(Reed gets this, and is briefly startled, dropping his gun. The other Plumbers look closely to view the contents.)
[Gus]: Source, Brian Reed, target, Mack Fitzgerald? Excuse me?
[Thomas]: Now... here's the tracker dot for Fitzgerald.
(He displays the video of the trackers.)
[Thomas]: Watch closely. Every time that first dot moves, the second follows in the same pattern four seconds later. A delay used to simulate the presence of another individual in the room.
[Thomas]: I discovered a link between the first dot and the second. An encrypted signal duplication of Fitzgerald's badge. Since we can only see dots on our map, the tampering with the display could write out a full feature film depicting absolute bullcrap if the person responsible wanted to. Here, they made Fitzgerald the leading star playing Nick Waterman, and he didn't know it.
(Fitzgerald starts taking several angry deep breaths.)
[Thomas]: And the director of said film is the source of the encryption. That took a while to crack, giving you time to go ahead and pin everything on Fitz. But now that we've received the behind-the-scenes credits, guess who our award-directing director happens to be?
(The data screens switch to active encryption signals used by Brian Reed.)
(Everyone in the room as well as the Plumbers stare on in shock.)
[Thomas]: Oh, and I made sure to include a list of all the fake IP addresses and hidden networks you used to set this stuff up. Plus the proof, too!
(Fitzgerald growls in anger and tries to lunge at Reed, but Gus holds him back.)
(Reed gazes into Fitzgerald's eyes, tense and very serious.)
[Fitzgerald]: I knew it was you, you treacherous piece o' CRAP! You're an embarrassment, a RAT. A phony little rat who thinks you can make a name for yourself. You must be thinking you're so damn smart, eh? Well guess what? I always knew it was you, you insipid trash! And you tried to kill me for it? You SON of a B-
[Thomas]: That's enough!
(Fitzgerald shuts his mouth as he stumbles back and forth, frowning and panting. Gus does his best to keep him at bay.)
(Reed continues to gaze on solemnly, his deep breaths quiet and visible through his chest and nose. Very, very slowly, his left eye briefly and lightly squints (almost like a twitch) and the side of his lip quivers. His shoulders twitch for a moment as they slowly drop down and he relaxes himself... as he does this, his face turns to a smirk and gradually continues to seamlessly stretch into a smile, first taunting then utterly gleeful. His eyes slightly intensify to complete a sheer evil smile.)
(Everyone is uncomfortable and stares at him while he continues to look at Fitzgerald, who looks a little scared now.)
[Reed]: (Slowly shrugging) You got me.
(Cole, Williams and the other four climb into a narrow passageway. Behind them, a circular hole cut into the walls of an elevator shaft can be seen.)
(The Plumbers crouch and sneak through a left, then a right, then another left. They approach the right and see light coming through.)
[Cole]: (Whispering) Here we are.
[Williams]: (Whispering) Be sure to look around before entering.
(They reach a vent cover and look through the holes. The room is dark but some of the walls and flooring are visible.)
[Plumber 3]: We can't call it clear just yet.
[Williams]: Oh, what the hell, let's just go.
(The Plumber in front takes out a small drill and holes out the corners of the vent, catching it before it falls. He slides it under the feet of the guy behind him so Cole can hold it.)
(He pulls out a harness, fastens himself to the end, and has the guy behind him make sure the other end is in place. The other guy nods to signal him, and headlight on, the Plumber climbs down.)
(When he lands, he unfastens the harness and it winds up, locking into place at the top as the second guy removes it. The Plumber looks around with his headlight for a few minutes, disappearing into the darkness. The others watch intently.)
[Plumber 3]: Clear!
(The others carefully jump down and look around with their lights. Cole throws a few fluorescent glow-sticks to illuminate the rusty walls.)
(Williams heads to the sides and scans a wall top to bottom. He looks down and finds a small black marble on the floor.)
[Williams]: Hey, look, it's the drone.
[Plumber 4]: Williams! We got something!
(He throws the drone away and runs over while the others gather around. There's a door in the corner.)
(Reed is standing, still smiling at everyone. They have their guns aimed.)
[Reed]: You still haven't arrested me?
[Gus]: Aren't you gonna trigger a bomb or something if we do?
[Thomas]: Backup aircraft is on the way. You have nowhere to run.
[Reed]: Oh, now the party's getting started.
[Fitzgerald]: What the hell does that mean?
(Ben begins to panic.)
[Ben]: Guys, he may have done something to the ships.
[Newell]: We don't know that.
[Ben]: I know we're gonna get thrown off here and there, but I'm prepared.
[Newell]: Oh. (Shakes his head) No, no. You are not taking one step out of here.
[Ben]: Grandpa, tell him to start thinking straight.
[Max]: Ben, are you crazy?
(The camera shows a distanced shot of the first compound as a line of ships zoom in from the sides and arc towards the building.)
(Cole does an X-ray scan of the door.)
[Cole]: This door's not only locked, but there's something barricading it from the inside.
[Williams]: We're still gonna have to check.
[Cole]: One of you mind helping me out?
(Plumber 3 walks up next to him.)
[Williams]: Okay, stand back.
(The others stand clear. Cole and Williams aim their guns...)
(Each of them get two corners of the door. The door suddenly rusts and dents up.)
[Cole]: What just happened?
(Three Plumbers put up their shields.)
[Williams]: Okay, approach with caution.
(Cole and Plumber 3 carefully approach the door. They hesitantly reach out before gripping the sides of the door, making sure it's safe. Cole, with one hand on the edge, drills in a socket into which he places the end of a wire. Plumber 3 does likewise, and then they both back out while extending their grapples.)
(They stop and fasten the cable, and then heave, grunting.)
(The door begins to come loose...)
(It falls off.)
(Several Plumbers cough and Cole and Plumber 3 get back as thick, white steam bellows out. Cole and Plumber 3 put on their gas masks and approach the steam, swatting it aside.)
(They slightly crouch and lean inside the doorway to see what's to the left - a narrow passageway, though it's foggy inside.)
(The steam slowly dies down.)
[Cole]: G-god, it's f-freezing in here!
[Williams]: Some sort of refrigerated containment unit.
[Cole]: I'm getting cryogenic reads on my scanner, but it's not liquid nitrogen.
[Williams]: Doesn't matter. Is it safe?
[Cole]: Well, I'm not Frosty the Snowman yet, so, yeah.
[Williams]: Go in, bring two with you. Me and rest of us are gonna stand guard.
[Cole]: Understood. Come on, guys.
(The camera does an angled shot following one of the backup ships as it nears the building - it then pans to the left, and zooms through the halls of the building all the way to the room in which the Plumbers are in. The rescue ship the camera was following can now be seen approaching through the side window.)
[Reed]: Oh, there comes the view!
(Gus and the others quickly turn around and back - Reed is now holding some sort of small digital pad.)
[Gus]: What the hell is that?
[Reed]: In your words, the trigger for a bomb or something.
[Gus]: Reed, if I see your thumb even twitch, I'm shooting you.
(Ben is shaking anxiously.)
[Newell]: Calm down, Ben.
[Ben]: No one's calm here.
[Newell]: Look, we're not letting you leave.
[Ben]: Fine, but I have the right to be nervous while seeing innocent men about to be killed, right?
[Newell]: As I said, we don't know that.
[Ben]: Times like these are about paranoia and assumptions, not statistics, you sociopath.
[Newell]: How dare you-
[Max]: Newell, it's alright. Ben, if you could shut up for a second, it'd be nice.
[Kevin and Gwen]: Thank you.
(Reed closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, his arms spread out with the trigger in his left.)
[Reed]: They're coming, I sense it.
[Gus]: Okay, now you sound crazy. Give me the damn trigger.
[Reed]: You know, you could always shoot me right now.
[Gus]: You're unarmed.
[Fitzgerald]: He's also a terrorist.
[Reed]: You know, this could just be a prop to scare you.
[Gus]: We can't be sure of that.
[Reed]: Oh, you wanna test it out? Be my guest!
[Gus]: *(Deep breath)* Reed, stop this.
(The music slowly intensifies.)
(Outside, the backup ships converge around the window.)
[Pilot]: Brian Reed, put your hands in the air! You're outnumbered and this compound is locked down!
[Reed]: Oh, here we go. And the compound's far from secure, by the way.
[Gus]: Do what he says!
(Reed puts his hands in the air, with the trigger.)
[Pilot]: Hand over the trigger or we'll shoot!
[Reed]: (Yelling) Oh, I'm certainly looking forward to that!
(The music gets even more intense with tones of creepiness.)
(Cole and two other Plumbers exit the foggy hallway into a foggy, dreary, atmospheric, blue-lit room, whose shelves lining the walls are frosted, some decorated with icicles.)
(Cole, shivering, looks around with his flashlight before joining the others in approaching the other side of the room, where the fog is thickest.)
(A first-person view shakily follows Cole moving towards a hazy mass of fog colored light-blue with the overhead lights.)
[Gus]: Reed, the game's over! You're done!
[Reed]: We're far from done.
[Gus]: Give up the goddamn trigger or we shoot you!
[Reed]: You still haven't, you're scared. That's good.
[Gus]: Enough with this!
(Reed looks over at the ships and yells.)
[Reed]: Hey! How're y'all doing?
[Pilot]: Last chance, Reed!
(Ben is scratching his hair with both hands and sliding them down his face.)
[Max]: Ben, you're hyperventilating.
[Ben]: We have to go help them!
[Newell]: Too late for that.
[Ben]: Thanks to you!
(Cole and the others stop at the thickest part of the fog. Cole's face is seen through his glowing gas mask squinting.)
(He clears out a bit more of the fog - you can see a slight image on the floor slowly darkening...)
(Cole's face remains in anxiety and confusion as clears out the fog... he gasps loudly and his face turns to pure, pure horror.)
(The pitch of the string orchestra in the music starts to raise...)
[Pilot]: Okay, Reed, you have five seconds!
[Gus]: Hold on!
[Pilot]: No! It's starting now! Five!
[Gus]: Brian, come on, what happened to you?
(Reed is smiling calmly, his thumb atop the trigger.)
[Fitzgerald]: REED, you MORON! DROP IT!!
(Reed makes a childish face of sorrow to him.)
(Ben is panting loudly, Max's arms are shaking, Thomas is staring in shock, and Gwen is tightly hugging Kevin, who had a hand on the back of her head and watching, stressed out.)
(Cole is staring, shuddering like crazy, in pure, gaping horror.)
(He speaks shakily like he's about to cry.)
(He's gasping and panting.)
(The other Plumbers walk over next to him...)
[Plumber 3]: OH my god...
(They put their hands over their eyes and get back. Cole's face twists with disgust.)
(Reed grins and angles his head.)
(Behind the fading fog lies what Cole is staring at...)
(The grotesquely mutilated body of MAGISTER PIKE, slouched on the ground with a thick, bloodied black wire going around his neck and extending upwards.)
(The words "ONE OF MANY" is scrawled on the wall in blood, now frosted, frozen and browned.)
(At that second, Reed presses the trigger. Gus aims his gun directly against the middle of Reed's eyes.)
(Nothing happens for a moment, until the blaster under the backup ship begins to light up green and pulsate.)
[Gus]: DON'T SHOOT!!!
[Pilot]: What the hell is going on?
[Gus]: YOU TELL ME!
[Pilot]: I'm not controlling this!
(The ship is about to fire...)
(It suddenly rotates to the left.)
(A flurry of deep, booming, bass-filled rapid fire is heard - Gus looks behind him and the trembling ship is firing at another one.)
(The ship suddenly starts to crack up and break as a returning flurry of shots gets it...)
(Both ships explode.)
(At that second, Reed gets the drop on Gus and suddenly knifes him through the back of the head, grabbing his gun and aiming it at the others.)
(Loud, thudding footsteps are heard as armies of armed, black-clad men rushes in through either side of the hallway.)
(They all aim their guns at the surrendering remainder of Paper Squad, flanking Reed.)
[Reed]: Right on time, boys.
(Muffled booms are heard outside as a burning ship is seen zipping by. Reed takes out a marble-drone and throws it in front of them, so the camera view shows them all.)
(This shows on the Command Deck screens.)
(Everyone is startled and puts their hands on their heads, staring in horror at the imposing army that faces them.)
[Reed]: How do you like that for outnumbered, Max?
(Max just shakes his head slowly.)
[Reed]: (Throws his arms up) Welcome to the party!
[Ben]: That is it. I'm going out there.
[Newell]: YOU STAY PUT!
[Max]: Ben, last time we're saying this.
[Gwen]: Come on, let him go!
[Max]: Gwen, you don't get involved in this.
[Gwen]: I'm his cousin, for crying out loud!
[Max]: And I'm your grandfather! I have jurisdiction here, and the last thing I'd do is allow my family to go out to get themselves killed while in the middle of a hostage crisis!
[Ben]: Do you have any idea how much I can defend myself?
[Max]: Do you have any idea what he's willing to do if we try something so idiotic?
[Ben]: We have to take our chances.
[Max]: The point of this is to not.
(Cole is looking around the room while one of the Plumbers inspects the body.)
[Plumber 4]: Cole, have a look at this!
(Cole walks over...)
(Four other bodies are hanging from the ceiling - they're naked carcasses with numbers branded on their back.)
[Cole]: (Exhaling in fright) I've had enough of this for one day, let alone one minute.
[Plumber 4]: I'm getting a scan on those numbers... JESUS CHRIST.
[Cole]: What is it?
[Plumber 4]: Those left two are Brett Reginalds and Harlan Sanders.
[Cole]: Oh my god...
[Plumber 3]: Hey, call Williams already! I ran a quick scan - this one's Pike.
[Cole]: Stationed on Piscciss?
[Plumber 3]: Right.
[Cole]: (Shakily) This place is haunted.
(Outside, it's chaos; all the ships are firing at each other, with several going off-course.)
(Inside, Reed is waiting with the others.)
[Fitzgerald]: Okay, what are you planning on doing with us?
[Reed]: Actually, you know what? Good question. Apparently nothing, at the moment.
[Plumber 3]: What?
[Reed]: I've been ordered just to hold you here until something happens.
(Outside, a flaming ship corkscrews through the air and away from the compound.)
[Fitzgerald]: You mean like that?
[Plumber 3]: It's something worse, he looks nervous.
[Reed]: Hey, I never said I wasn't allowed to kill you, so shut up.
[Fitzgerald]: We're probably all gonna die anyways, so is it really worth it?
[Reed]: Yeah, people like you, all about this honor crap. At least I'll die for a better cause.
[Fitzgerald]: You disgust me, the way you lament the principles you once stood within. What turned you? What'd it take?
[Reed]: I saw it on my own, there wasn't too much persuasion. Better principles, I guess you could say.
[Fitzgerald]: That makes you nothing short of a madman.
(Outside, the flaming ship rotates towards the Plumber HQ...)
[Ben]: You know, for the galaxy's most authoritative security agency, you guys are idiots.
[Newell]: We're able to keep ourselves composed and have a grasp of what's going on.
[Ben]: Yeah, all of you "keep a grasp" of your heads while they get blown off, how about that?
[Max]: Ben, I hear one more word and I'm gonna slap you.
[Ben]: What am I now, a little kid?
[Max]: In this scenario, yes! We need that level of priority when it comes to loved ones in the room!
[Ben]: Thank yourself for that.
[Highlander]: Guys, proximity detector's reading an incoming aircraft.
[Max]: We should be able to see it!
[Thomas]: It's apparently arcing around the side, if we lean over-
(Suddenly, from the side, a ship comes zooming past...)
(Its wing SLICES the window and lodges itself INTO the control panels as vacuums of space seep through the little gaps in the glass. The control panel catches fire.)
[Max]: EVERYBODY GET BACK-
(He trips and stumbles, but picks himself back up while Newell walks over and helps people to the sides.)
[Max]: NOBODY LEAVES! EVERYONE GET OUT OF HERE!
[Thomas]: I can't put up the blast shields, the pad's fried!
[Max]: We'll do it remotely! Run!
(Thomas and the other technician crowd their way into the halls.)
[Max]: And where is my goddamn Plumber badge?
(A shot shows the white-coated techs storming through the hallways into the Intel Tracking center... Ben takes a right instead, sprinting through the halls and using a badge to open doors.)
(Running through a transparent sky-bridge, Ben frantically searches the badge menus and interfaces until he reaches a map.)
(He finds an area on the southeast end that says "Emergency Deployment Bay". He looks around the halls visible through the glass and runs for it.)
(Max, meanwhile, runs into the halls, pushing through techs.)
[Max]: Ben? BEN!
(Ben, meanwhile, is running down a long, curving hall, skidding over to a doorway. He hastily gets in with the badge, and is at a balcony overlooking an open factory-like area.)
(He climbs his way onto the railing and looks down at the spiderweb of catwalks whose gaps unveil the bottomless abyss below. Ben takes the risky jump onto one of the upper ones, and swings along railings to get to a bordering balcony.)
(Max, meanwhile, takes the straight path while the techs take the left. Newell runs in and closes the doors in the tech lab.)
[Newell]: Max, where are you going?
[Max]: Keep tabs of the research room!
(Max runs through a curving sky-bridge also overlooking the circular chamber spanning an impressive radius of the circular facility.)
(He runs over to a door and over to the security console.)
[Max]: Maxwell Tennyson.
[Console]: Access granted.
(The doors open and Max goes over to a balcony... on the very opposite side near a "corner" of the chamber, Max sees Ben hastily pulling himself up a railing to the outer balcony and climbing on. He puts his hands on his head and scrambles for his badge, but remembers it's not there. He lets out an exhale of frustration.)
(He goes back into the halls and takes the other path, continuing along the outermost circular hall bordering the chamber.)
(Ben, meanwhile, checks the map again, stops running, takes a few steps back and takes a right. The camera stays still while Ben takes a left in the distance.)
(Ben reaches a four-way intersection in one of the halls - at the center is a sewer cap-like entrance into the floor with a Plumber symbol at the top. Ben runs over, crouches down, and uses the badge to open the hatch.)
(Underneath is a ladder leading down to a "pill-shaped" cylindrical room, wide and lined with more hatches on the floor, with labels above on the walls: 1A, 1B, 1C, and so on.)
(Ben scans the badge on the console to 1C and the hatch opens. He climbs down into a transparent escape pod.)
(Max, meanwhile, makes it to the entrance Ben took from the chamber, and takes a right. On the hall signs, he sees "Emergency Deployment Bay".)
(Max runs down the halls and over to the intersection, but the floor hatch is closed. Max gets on his knees and slams the floor.)
(He suddenly hears the hum of an engine thrust-like sound below. On the right hand path is a quick dead end at a wall with a green window looking out at space. Max rushes over to it and struggles to get a view.)
(After a few seconds, an escape pod is seen rotating through space. Max bangs on the windows, stops, and exhales.)
[Max]: Oh, no...
(He looks closely - the glass material in the escape pod is suddenly cut open in a circle, and then shoved out as it floats freely in space.)
(Max looks confused for a moment, until he suddenly sees Jetray climbing out and taking flight off into space.)
(He slams the glass once more before slouching against it in despair.)
[Max]: How the hell...
(Jetray glides through the silence of space - the action music is still playing but no sound effects except for extremely low, muffled wing fluttering is heard.)
(Jetray focuses his eyes on the first compound, angles a little to the right, and speeds even faster.)
(Jetray is slightly visible through the windows. Fitzgerald and the others stare intently.)
[Reed]: What is it, what are you looking at?
[Fitzgerald]: It seems we have a visitor.
(Reed peeks out and is able to see a red creature approaching.)
[Reed]: Well, damn. I guess that's it.
[Fitzgerald]: What's gonna happen?
[Reed]: Well, that's not really up to me.
(The doors open. Max walks in while Newell stands guard over panicking technicians.)
(A few of the technicians and Kevin look up.)
[Thomas]: Magister! You're safe!
[Newell]: They're aware of the situation, they've been watching through the external telescope.
[Max]: Is the view maximized?
[Highlander]: We've been zooming in every few meters he flies.
[Max]: Damn fool. We'll, let's just hope for the best.
[Gwen]: You don't exactly sound like how you did a few minutes back.
[Max]: He's gone now. Who knows, maybe that psycho screwed with the rest of the rescue ships.
[Newell]: In that case, the real question is how we'll ever have access to the command deck again.
[Thomas]: I've tried the external blast shields, but we have to dislodge that crashed ship.
[Max]: And we have no outside Plumber communication to help us out. So, we're basically screwed.
[Gwen]: I can move that ship.
[Max]: That's far too unsafe - the vacuum's gonna eat you up before you can even make a quarter of a shield for yourself.
[Newell]: There's always the option of abandoning base.
[Max]: There's not nearly enough escape pods to sustain that many people. And also, if we do, we're never gonna catch this guy.
[Gwen]: Oh, and whatever shot Ship may strike.
[Thomas]: That's right! The third set of coordinates!
[Max]: As soon as Ben finishes up back there, we're gonna investigate this. I mean, come on. There's a hostage situation and everything, but it doesn't give us any motive to give up.
[Kevin]: I guess you have a point.
[Highlander]: Hey guys, he's getting close!
(Everyone watches the screens projecting the external telescope camera. An exterior shot focusing on the lens of the telescope zooms out quickly to the compound, where Ben is approaching.)
(Jetray cautiously flies around the top of the compound. He rotates the Ultimatrix symbol a little bit to establish contact with Max.)
(Max's eyes widen.)
[Max]: Ben, I can hear you, and I'm not even going to start on the consequences you'll be facing when you get back.
[Jetray]: You just did.
[Max]: Where are you?
[Jetray]: Circling the top of this place. All the ships have been wrecked hard. There's debris everywhere.
[Max]: Try and find Reed and the others.
(Inside, Reed and the others are waiting nervously.)
[Reed]: I can sense him circling around up here. Anytime now...
(Jetray flies over to the window-side section and peers through a few of them.)
(Fitzgerald sees this and starts yelling.)
[Fitzgerald]: WE'RE HERE! HELP US!
(Reed aims his gun at Fitzgerald, but then lowers it.)
[Reed]: Screw it, there's no point.
[Fitzgerald]: You were just acting so confident! What happened?
[Reed]: Confidence and satisfaction is induced when a mission is complete. Once you start thinking of the repercussions, it all dies down.
[Fitzgerald]: Fine. HELP US!!
(Jetray slightly hears this and flies around near the side window.)
[Fitzgerald]: HERE, DAMMIT!!
(Jetray sees this and his eyes go wide.)
[Jetray]: Grandpa? I found them!
[Max]: Where, son?
[Jetray]: West-side window. They're in some kind of hallway.
[Fitzgerald]: COME ON, DAMN YOU!!
[Reed]: You're really just going through with a death wish.
(Jetray flies closer.)
[Jetray]: Here, I'm coming!
(Jetray starts to make his way towards the landing section...)
[Reed]: Yeah, these last few seconds are when the stress hits you the hardest.
[Fitzgerald]: Yeah, you're just sitting here pissing your pants for no reason. He's gonna come find us, and when he does-
(After a second of an ultra-loud blast, a distanced shot shows the entire compound exploding in a giant red "X" shape.)
(Max and others see this and stumble back in horror.)
[Max]: WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT???
[Cole]: W-We need to head out into the safe zone to contact Max about all this.
[Williams]: There is no safe zone here.
[Cole]: Then we just have to get the hell out! Seriously, can we leave this place? It's really unsettling.
[Williams]: What, have you never seen a body before?
[Cole]: Not this bad. Seriously, I just want to-
(Another giant red X bursts out in the distance.)
[Newell]: WHAT THE...
[Kevin]: Was that another one?
[Highlander]: It was, holy good god!
(A slow-motion shot shows a violent web of fire and debris bursting out - different shots show broken guns and body parts flying everywhere. Jetray, meanwhile, struggling through space, writhing with tattered wings set aflame as he corkscrews away from the chili-red fire.)
(The music turns solemn and emotional with a touch of intense as silent (with music) scenes switch between a falling Jetray, panicking technicians, and Max running through the halls ordering that rescue ships be sent out.)
(The next shot shows Gwen rushing into the burning command deck - the camera is shaky as she uses Mana to electrify the crashed ship and break it in half - the pieces collapse out into space. The scene changes as a wall panel swipes across, presenting us with a shot of a shielded Gwen floating and heaving a large panel into place as a makeshift shield.)
(She collapses on the ground - Plumber guards and a panicking Kevin rush in and pick her up. The camera zooms out through the broken glass as blast shields finally close in over the base. The shot keeps zooming out as rescue ships fly by.)
(A silhouette of a weak and unconscious Jetray falling through space is formed against the powerful fireball at the center of the X. In slow-motion, Jetray is shadowed by ships looming overhead. The scene begins to fade to black, until it stops and flashes with white.)
(The screen stays white for a bit...)
(Slowly, faint, echoing noises are heard. These range from electronic beeps, echoing voices, and the sound of sizzling fire. Random sentences from Gwen and others ("is he going to be okay?", etc.) are heard as bubbly and dark images flare across the screen.)
(The noises begin to gain bass and then gradually lose it and raise in pitch and frequency as the image continues to darken and darken in fading blotches, all the way to black - the background noise is now clear, humming with ER machines, heart monitors, steam-like noises, and talking.)
(The black opens up to a blinding white light (first-person eye opening), and the eyes close.)
(Finally, Ben's face is seen, illuminated by the light and squinting. The light slowly fades so you can see some color - the burns, chars, bruises and scars all over Ben's face unravel. He has an inhaler cup over his mouth and nose and is wired up, covered by a white bedsheet. He blinks several times and groans.)
(First-person view looks back and forth around the room - it's rather dim with the intense light coming from the medical devices. A doorway is positioned on the left side of the back wall (from the perspective of the interior - outside it's actually the right side of the entrance.)
(Ben begin to lift his hand, but a doctor lowers it for him. He looks around, and she's the only one there. No operations are being performed at the moment.)
[Ben]: *(Groan)* W-where am I? (Exhale) Where-
[Doctor]: Shh, it's okay, kiddo. We're not performing any procedures right now, and we expected you to wake up.
(Ben blinks several times.)
[Ben]: (Weakly) Yeah... here, would you mind turning down the lights a little?
[Doctor]: Oh, of course! Sorry.
[Ben]: It's fine.
(The white light slowly dims to a tolerable level.)
[Ben]: That's better.
[Doctor]: Yeah. Hey.
[Ben]: You sound like you know me...
(He turns. With the lights down, you can see the doctor. She's an attractive blonde girl who looks about Ben's age, with long, straight hair and bangs that reach her eyebrows, and in a lab coat.)
(Ben looks surprised.)
[Ben]: Hey, what the...
(She grins at him.)
[Ben]: Are you-
[Ben]: What are you-
[Doctor]: I'll tell you. Do you at least remember me?
[Ben]: Sheesh, cut me some slack! I just flew into an explosion. Hey, I blacked out by the way, so did anything happen?
[Doctor]: (Laughs) Yeah, a lot. Thomas will come and tell you. I'm not entirely sure what it's about, but they always sounded a little bit serious about it. Not sure if it's bad news.
[Ben]: Well, those are Plumbers for you. Oh, but you count now, don't you?
[Doctor]: Yeah, kind of, it's temporary. And chaotic, as you can see.
(Thomas walks in with a tablet in his hand.)
[Thomas]: Ah, good, you're awake. I know old Max would want to see you, but he's gonna spend an hour chewing you out, so I thought I'd beat him here to bring you up to speed.
[Ben]: That's nice of you.
[Thomas]: Eunice, thanks for taking care of him. You can drop by anytime.
[Eunice]: Sure will.
[Ben]: Wait- Eunice! That was your name!
[Eunice]: Didn't you remember me?
[Ben]: Well, I did black out, and you did kinda change your look a little.
[Eunice]: Please tell me you're joking.
(Ben looks at the ceiling, closes his eyes, and then slowly cracks a smile and begins to laugh.)
(Ben stops laughing.)
[Ben]: God, laughing really hurts my chest. I'm not too keen on seeing how many hamburgers got made outta me.
[Eunice]: Not too much, really.
[Ben]: You took a peek?
[Eunice]: This is the medical bay!
[Ben]: Aren't you a nurse? Peeking is a doctor's job.
[Eunice]: Can't say I wasn't curious.
(Thomas looks at her, amused.)
[Ben]: It's been a while, and you're already taking this a bit far, don't you think?
(Eunice tilts her head to read Ben's expression for a second, and then raises her eyebrows.)
[Eunice]: I was joking. Kinda disappointed with this version of you, especially after hearing about your "eccentric sense of humor".
[Ben]: Yeah, I guess no one can spot a joke nowadays. You know, I can sometimes in a hospital bed.
[Eunice]: I guess it's more of a staying-in-touch problem. Either way, I guess I'll be seeing you around now and then.
[Ben]: Same here. That looks better on you, by the way.
[Eunice]: Oh, you mean the look? (She smiles and blushes a little.) Thanks, I guess.
[Ben]: I didn't know you blush.
[Eunice]: We all know you do.
[Ben]: (Grins) Really?
[Eunice]: (Giggles) Yeah, like right now.
(Ben looks down with an embarrassed smile.)
[Ben]: Goes well with all the boo-boos, I guess.
(Eunice chuckles. She walks over to Ben, leans down and kisses him on the cheek before getting up.)
[Eunice]: See you around. Get well soon.
(Ben looks on as she leaves.)
(Ben, slightly startled, turns to Thomas.)
[Ben]: (Swallows) Right.
[Thomas]: You... uh, missed a lot.
[Ben]: All hell broke loose, so I guess I got the good chunk of stuff.
[Thomas]: Depends on how you look at it. You can thank your cousin for securing the command deck, even though the whole place is practically barbecued, and our esteemed hacker friend for getting you here.
[Ben]: Uh, what?
[Thomas]: Reed was able to disorientate the ship blasters through that trigger. If he was still alive to use it, who knows? Our other ships could've been bugged.
[Ben]: You still haven't checked for that as part of what I missed out?
[Thomas]: We got lucky. Additional support from nearby bases was smart enough to suspect some kind of turmoil. Eunice was one of them - from what I hear, she volunteered to be a medical assistant for us for a few months due to a break she got from her current job. Her intentions were apparently to try out "being the other kind of doctor" since she's in the field of science right now.
[Ben]: All this during a break? How many months?
[Thomas]: Around two, I think.
[Ben]: Always quite ambitious.
[Thomas]: So... may I ask how you two know each other?
[Ben]: I think you know the answer to that.
[Thomas]: No, actually. I'm guessing it's along the lines of a long story?
[Ben]: Spot-on, buddy.
[Thomas]: And does that happen to involve the fact that you already have a girlfriend?
[Ben]: Let me guess, Max told you that?
[Thomas]: Max is crazy over you. He tells us all sorts of stories. We've worked together twice to save your life the last two months.
[Ben]: Which I know of?
[Thomas]: Your abduction on the first day of summer plus the Krill and Wyatt incident.
[Ben]: My eternal gratitude. Oh yeah, and speaking of them, and all this medical stuff, how's Ship doing?
[Thomas]: Little guy's having a blast. Before all the arson mayhem, he was just playing around in a little pen, exercising all his shapes and sizes. Cuts on the skin are about as bad as having stuffed animals thrown at you when it comes to the Plumbers.
[Ben]: Is that how my burns don't sting right now, or is your "great big secret" just some morphine?
[Thomas]: Oh, no. None of that. We're all mostly humans around here, but we rely on custom-made technology. Usually Galvan stuff, those little grumps love us.
[Ben]: I see. Well, excellent use of time before Max for this small-talk, it's great knowing you. Though I think we missed talking about a specific something...
[Thomas]: *(Sigh)* Humans, always getting so distracted... you know, every once in a while I pause to feel a little "cool" when saying things like that, except I've gotten so used to it. Now acknowledging that part may seem a little astounding to all the newbies, you know?
[Ben]: Yeah. Oh, still rambling, by the way.
[Thomas]: Yeah, Eunice is probably gonna wish she's here. Well, anyways, I don't really get now why I'm trying to lighten the mood. It solves nothing when you follow up by killing it.
[Thomas]: *(Deep breath)* Well... I hate to break it to ya, but our "mole" has yet to be discovered.
[Ben]: Oh, come on, that's nonsense! This guy's all about games and entertainment, and he probably had the greatest time of his life seeing us wet our pants over that. You'd think it was over by now.
[Thomas]: Exactly, you would, wouldn't you? It then struck me how easy it was to find this guy, how simple the trap was... and also how little answers it provided.
[Ben]: Not that it was supposed to, was it?
[Thomas]: Well, this guy's obviously not the type for table-side sociability, but he likes seeing us solve puzzles that lead us to things. We kept on stumbling upon clues, but the biggest answer that was supposed to solve everything really just ended up only hammering this place up.
[Ben]: You think we may have lost the game that way?
[Thomas]: I thought about that too. But then, I remembered the most dead-obvious things us humans were so distracted from.
[Ben]: Damn, that was a hell of a segue you did a minute ago.
[Thomas]: (Chuckles) I have a habit of building up the context too much, right? I should really start getting to the point.
[Ben]: Glad you think it.
[Thomas]: In that case, TO the point! The dead obvious things! So many of them! Third set of coordinates. We can't go about believing it's a hoax because of your ingenious satellite theory. The research we've been doing was more desk-side so we didn't go investigate.
[Ben]: Impeccable progress.
[Thomas]: Oh, that's not all. I searched so long for links between all those encryption keys Reed was using, and not one, ONE, had any form of connection with the digital ID mask used to conceal the third set of coordinates!
[Ben]: So what can you confirm?
[Thomas]: Reed was the killer, alright, but he wasn't the mole.
[Ben]: So you're telling me I hugged a murderer?
[Thomas]: Uh... yeah, I guess you could put it that way. Well, I for once would advise against it, but-
[Ben]: *(Sigh)* Well, at least I didn't go on a date with one like Gwen did.
[Thomas]: Well, yeah, same thing. Here it's murderer, but not mole.
[Ben]: He actually was, in a way. Clearly this guy has many of us up his sleeve, but our "mole", despite the term not being the most distinguishable among the dirtbags, is the one causing the most racket. It could be anybody.
[Thomas]: Oh, and the second team. Poor guys, they were stuck in isolation for so long, but they made some equally horrifying discoveries. I still shake when thinking about it, but it's kind of died down now. You won't like it, at all.
[Ben]: Tell me anyway.
[Thomas]: Yeah, the images were worse than the description, though it's ever the more shocking - Magister Pike was found stabbed to death and subsequently hanged along with four other Plumbers in a far more nasty fashion - hung up stabbed and naked like animal carcasses. Their ID's were branded on their backs. Oh, and two of them were Reginalds and Sanders.
[Ben]: (Shocked) The first two ID's?
[Thomas]: Yeah. Crazy stuff.
[Ben]: But then why were the compounds separate? If one was to lead us to the objective while the other to the trap, it would add up...
[Thomas]: But then getting rid of them immediately afterwards? It just doesn't make sense. We did miss out on a lot of clues, but this seemed like a conclusion. Either it was all just a great big mishap just so he could kill off a large portion of us, or something else we have yet to see.
[Ben]: Well, based on what you've found, as hard and honest as it is, it's not too much.
[Thomas]: I know, but the rest was just cleaning up around here, getting everyone relieved and their wounds stitched up. And autopsies, don't forget that.
[Ben]: Funny. Autopsies on individual feet and hands.
[Thomas]: Oh, sorry I didn't tell you. We just run for DNA samples on any of the parts and just jokingly call it autopsies. Medic thing, but I'm familiar with all the inside jokes they have around here.
[Ben]: Yeah, it's hard to find where those started.
[Thomas]: Huh. Funny thing is most of 'em, Reed made up. It's a damn shame, he was one of our best, if not the best. What turned him? Blackmail? Bribery? It's all too simple for a guy like him.
[Ben]: I would agree if I knew him better. But from what we saw today, the guy turned from a model agent to class A scumbag. The amount of deception involved is pretty scary.
[Thomas]: If the guy's agents are this good, I can only imagine was he would be like.
[Ben]: Better, obviously. He orchestrated all this. Dirty work's always the part with the most effort, but to know how to go through with what would otherwise be downright outlandish - it's quite a feat. Clearly the guy's more powerful than we ever imagined. And to think it all started with an urban legend...
[Thomas]: You're a very insightful kid. Max should be proud.
(Gwen and Kevin suddenly walk in. Ben raises his eyebrows.)
[Ben]: About time.
[Kevin]: Please don't ask what we were doing in the time you were sleeping.
[Ben]: Okay... but just out curiosity, what were you doing? Sleeping?
[Kevin]: Dammit, Tennyson...
[Ben]: You please don't lead a conversation by bringing up something you don't want to discuss.
[Kevin]: Yeah, "conversation skills", from the world's biggest D-bag. Like that's gonna help.
[Ben]: Hey, it does me.
[Gwen]: HI, by the way.
[Ben]: Hi. (Pause) You know, I think I should apologize.
[Ben]: Always being distracted by Kevin. As much fun as it may be giving him burn after burn, it don't really see you as part of all of it.
[Gwen]: What are you suggesting?
[Ben]: Not saying we should be the "Anti-Kevin insult team", but just more inclusion.
[Gwen]: You know, I'm fine watching your banter.
[Ben]: That doesn't look like the case too often.
[Gwen]: Yeah, that's when you include me as part of your sick theories.
[Ben]: Yeah, you know what? Scratch what I said. Inclusion is a bad idea.
[Gwen]: That's when you look at it the way you do! Which is the wrong way, by the way.
[Thomas]: Amazing how that turned into an argument that fast.
[Ben]: Yeah, to this day I wonder who's fault it is.
[Kevin]: Can I help you by giving you a mirror?
[Ben]: Yeah, sure. Just be sure not to look into it yourself, if you cherish a good sleep, eh?
(Thomas bursts out laughing and Gwen slightly cracks up.)
(Max walks in, and everyone turns serious.)
[Max]: Did I say something?
[Ben]: You did now.
[Max]: Fine. Is there something on my face?
[Ben]: Yeah. A very grim expression. Cheer up, like all these guys.
[Max]: Kind of heard to do that, given our unfortunate development in the case, as well as you getting yourself into this bed.
[Ben]: Hey, at least I learned Eunice was a doctor here. Oh, and Thomas was nice about everything.
[Max]: What do you think Julie would say?
[Ben]: She'd laugh, I know it. She'd find it cute. I mean, what's not normal about girls liking the guy who saved them all?
[Max]: Nothing, unless you start getting into it.
[Ben]: Aw, come on. Never.
[Max]: You sure about that?
[Ben]: Of course! After all, she's the one that came over to kiss me. If I'd made the effort to get out of here just to move my mouth a little closer, then we have a problem.
[Max]: Fine. Listen, Newell's running background checks on all the Plumbers at the moment, including all of us.
[Ben]: Does that add to the pressure?
[Max]: You're kidding, right? Us, the ones that you know to trust, having something to hide? And no, we haven't been examined yet, but after we do... well, then comes the thing all of us have been a little hesitant to tell you.
[Ben]: What and why is that?
[Max]: Once we've been cleared, we're going back into the field to investigate this third set of coordinates. Thanks for that whole hunch, now you've probably sent us on yet another wild goose chase.
[Ben]: But you're taking it up anyways. See, I told you we needed to take our chances!
[Max]: *(Sigh)* Whatever. You don't sound all that disappointed.
[Ben]: Well, mostly because I'm wondering if you are kidding.
[Max]: I know, it's a bit over-the-top, but you were asleep during all the cleanup and medical banter. It feels like it's immediately after the incident, but we don't need extended periods of time to get over or get used to a certain setting of the tone. We're trained that way.
[Ben]: I would thank you for clearing me up on that and therefore getting me disappointed, unless of course I have my own things to do during the operation.
[Max]: Such as?
[Ben]: Actually, you know what? Never mind I said that. I was implying watching the operation by live feed.
[Max]: Oh, that's perfectly fine. (Pause) But you knew that. So what were you really implying, hm?
[Gwen]: Talking to Eunice, probably.
(Ben smiles and looks around like he doesn't know what they're talking about.)
[Max]: Yeah, there we go.
[Ben]: And reading comics.
[Max]: We don't have much of those around here.
[Ben]: Whatever happened to excellent internet? And printing speed? And INTERGALACTIC internet? Man, it must be fun searching through what Humungousaur's friends consider to be their version of YouTube.
[Max]: Terradino isn't a planet that revels in technology. Think more Encephalonus IV.
[Ben]: Oh, yeah. That's a big one. Though getting around that place must be a problem for them. Last time I went I had to hack into every door I saw and face the risk of falling off a cliff every once in a while.
[Kevin]: Nerd banter, huh? I'm done here.
[Max]: Okay, then. So, Ben, you watch yourself, we won't be long. Thomas and I'll be in the building, of course, but we'll be back with the computers. If you need anything, just use that station radio to call support.
(Ben reaches for a small walkie-talkie-based disk-like device from the table. He keeps his thumb pressed on it.)
[Guy at the end]: Yes, this is patient support, how may I help you?
[Ben]: Nothing at the moment, just testing this out.
[Support Guy]: Cool.
(Ben hangs up.)
[Ben]: Well, this is a perfectly convenient little safe haven, eh? I should walk into explosions more often. That way everyone can be nice to me, and be my slave while I just sit with my bones aching. Except here they're not, so win-win! Woo!
[Kevin]: Let's go, Gwen.
[Ben]: Oh, and just out of curiosity, who are these "field agents" you're sending out?
[Max]: Why do you think Gwen and Kevin are coming with me?
[Ben]: Wait, WHAT?
[Gwen]: Okay, now let's go.
[Thomas]: Bye, Ben.
[Ben]: Okay, NOW you got me angry! The reason for us being a team is because we are a team! There is no Ben's team without Ben! I mean, you can't call it Gwen's Team or Kevin's Team! Kevin's far from a team, and you'll be some dynamic duo crap-
(Max calmly closes the door and begins walking with a laughing Gwen and Kevin, as well as Thomas, while Ben's muffled ranting can be heard through the glass.)
[Max]: (Smiling) Is it fun watching him get put through that?
[Gwen]: Well, it's not everyday that he is, so it's double the fun.
[Max]: (Laughs) Man, you guys are crazy.
[Thomas]: So, people, I have everything prepared for you. We'll be off in about thirty minutes, how about it?
[Kevin]: Sounds good.
[Gwen]: Wait - where's Cooper? Isn't he the most loyal among all of us? Oh, no offense, Thomas. That's you around here.
[Thomas]: (Chuckles) Cooper is busy with fieldwork down on Earth. That's where he's stationed most of the time.
[Ben]: BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!!
(Ben is pretending to rant until he sees Max and the others take a turn around the corner of the hallway. He stops, stares for a few seconds, and then turns his face dead serious.)
(Looking back down, Ben pauses for a moment, and then slides back a little, adjusting his pillow to be slightly upright. He stops, and then looks to the side for the seat control remote. He changes it to be somewhat upright, and slightly grunts as his slides into a comfortable position.)
(He grabs a nearby high-tech alarm (these things are circular pads that project holographic blue digital time, and have speakers on the sides. On top of the pad, under the projector, are touch-enabled buttons, similar to Windows Phones or Androids, that switch the interface to options, etc.)
(He taps the clock icon on the touch pad and the interface changes to four panels, two each for hour and minute. He changes the alarm time to 6:30 PM, saves it as "set 3 mission", and places it back on the green-glass table.)
(He uses the seat remote to stretch his seat back into a bed, and pulls up his bedsheet. In a quirky manner, he casually adjusts the wires to which he's hooked up to simply rest near his shoulder, so he can sleep on his side. He closes his eyes for a few seconds with a content expression on his face, and then opens them again. He glares at the wall, then turns around again to lie on his back. Resting his hands on his chest with his fingers interwoven, he stares up at the ceiling, pondering something.)
(The camera zooms out from his face, and a transparent clock animation and ticking clock sounds are briefly seen and heard over the screen until the scene changes.)
(Gwen and Kevin quickly and seamlessly fit on their bulletproof vests and armor, fitting on every piece and activating the vital functions. They then finish by standing straight.)
(A hand carrying a stopwatch raises into focus on the screen, and stops it at 00:27.)
[Max]: Twenty-seven seconds! Woo!!
[Gwen]: You've been clapping for us the past five times, grandpa.
[Max]: I'm proud seeing you kids follow through on our ways efficiently, like you're pros. Even Kevin, since we consider him a part of the family.
[Kevin]: You do?
[Max]: Of course we do.
(The side door opens. Newell walks in.)
[Max]: Newell! Break from background checking?
[Newell]: I've been at it a full hour and I'm only three-fourths done.
[Max]: That's still a considerable lot.
[Newell]: I guess so. Listen, briefing's ready for you, in case you're done with warm-ups.
[Max]: (Getting up) Oh, definitely! You guys ready?
[Gwen]: Come on, Kevin, sound more excited!
[Kevin]: I am excited. Just a little exhausted.
[Gwen]: You haven't done much compared to the rest of us.
[Kevin]: Lazy, then.
[Gwen]: That's right. Come on, then.
(Gwen and Kevin, suited up, hold their helmets and watch Newell and Max present on the screen, with several techs nearby.)
[Newell]: Alright, everyone listen up! Your target is located at these coordinates: 099-893-771. So far, nothing has been sighted there, but your backup will be present, should this scouting trip turn into an assault or infiltration!
[Max]: According to Ben, the mole tampered with the satellite feeds around the area to mask the presence of anything sinister. While this is still a theory, Agents Tennyson and Levin can confirm that the attacks that caused the violent nature of their arrival came from the area! Am I correct?
(Gwen and Kevin nod simultaneously.)
[Newell]: You all know your priorities, you all know your risks! Caution and efficiency go without saying but nonetheless need be reinforced given the nature of this pesky operation. You have all seen the outcomes and repercussions when being unprepared! We may not know our enemy, but if we didn't to begin with, then how have we all survived the first encounters?
[Max]: I know you all to be brave souls filled with nothing but honor and initiative to keep our world safe and get jobs done! You all have the necessary qualities the make up what it means to be a Plumber! Those who break that oath like Brian Reed deserve whatever punishment that's coming to them. You all, on the other hand, are people of pride, and people of dignity. Keep that message in mind as you fight the battles before you and venture the unknowns that lay beyond!
[Everyone]: YES SIR!
[Max]: I wish you all a very good trip. Do me proud out there.
(A shot from the side shows Ben opening his eyes, blinking several times, and looking around.)
(He groggily picks up the seat remote and positions his seat to be upright.)
(He slightly winces, takes a quick breath, and yawns while stretching his arms, and then rolling his shoulders.)
(He picks up the alarm and goes to the alarms menu, turning off the 6:30 alarm. Placing it back, he then grabs the Patient Support caller. He holds the talk button.)
[Ben]: H- *(Yawn)* Hello?
[Support Woman]: Yes? I'm calling from the evening shift.
[Ben]: Yeah, this is Ben Tennyson. Uh, do you know one of the doctors here named Eunice?
[Support Woman]: I do. Would you like me to put her on the line for you?
[Ben]: Yes, that would be nice, thank you.
[Support Woman]: One moment, please.
(Seven seconds pass.)
(The radio statics.)
[Eunice]: Oh, hi!
[Ben]: Yeah - listen, I need a favor...
[Eunice]: Yeah, anything you'd like.
(Heavy and loud background noise from ship engines is heard as a quick flight test is proceeded with.)
(Heavily armed and armored Plumbers layered in black and green walk into the other deployment hangar. Gwen and Kevin follow as they put on their helmets.)
(They watch one of the ships land as the noise dies down. Max walks in a few seconds later.)
[Max]: You all got your coordinates and briefing info on quick access?
[Plumber 1]: Yes, sir.
[Max]: Alright, do a quick check over your flight systems. I'll signal you when you're all ready.
[Plumber 2]: Understood.
[Kevin]: Sure, just a quick question - will this be like the flight simulator?
[Max]: With the added feature of actually feeling something when you get shot, sure.
[Gwen]: Come on, Kevin, you know how to pilot a plane!
[Kevin]: I do, except seeing everyone anxious around here got me like that too.
[Max]: We're all a little shaken up, but hey, it's great adrenaline. And also, there was me thinking you were a hotshot daredevil.
[Kevin]: That's when things are in my area.
[Max]: First thing you should know when being here is that there is no comfort zone. Instead of working to turn everything into one, which is impossible, you might as well embrace the danger.
[Kevin]: (Chuckles) You sound more like a daredevil than I do.
[Max]: Yeah, just make sure not to choose that as your number one priority. Sloppiness is the last thing you want. I'm just putting this a little lightly to not overwhelm you.
[Gwen]: As you already have.
[Max]: You've memorized the systems, so just go through it again. Oh, and be sure to check your equipment.
[Gwen]: Sure thing, boss.
(She and Kevin climb into one of the ships. Kevin looks around.)
[Kevin]: Damn, we've got ourselves quite the ride.
[Gwen]: You can observe it more by seeing clearly. Take off your helmet.
[Kevin]: (Knocks on the ceilings) Well, I don't wanna hit my head on these.
[Gwen]: Weapons check, remember?
(Gwen removes her helmet and her hair hangs down messily in front of her face. She shakes it away and rotates her helmet around to observe it. It has custom designs of pink and red stripes. Kevin's has skull patterns.)
[Kevin]: All good.
(Gwen bounces the helmet once in her hand to get it upright and puts it back on, and then sits down.)
(The camera zooms in to focus on the right side of her helmet... a small little device with an unlit red light rests on it.)
(The establishing shot here is a still one that focuses on an identical helmet sitting on a desk next to Ben's bed. It then blurs out of focus a few seconds later as someone's torso steps into view, placing down several folders on the side.)
[Eunice]: That's all of it.
[Ben]: Thank you so much.
[Eunice]: The reason I'm not protesting is because you promised this would all come down on you. Don't break that promise, young man.
[Ben]: One, you're my age, so there's no "young man" here, and two, yes, I promise.
[Eunice]: Fine. What's this about, anyways?
[Ben]: Pastime hobbies. The cops find me a good detective, so I'm nurturing those wonderful skills.
[Eunice]: Sounds interesting.
(He pushes his hands against the bed and sits a little more upright - above his lap is a mobile stand used to support a laptop. Ben rolls his shoulders.)
[Eunice]: Can I get you anything else, like a coffee or a soda?
[Ben]: I don't want to stress you out too much, but would you mind an iced coffee? Medium size?
[Eunice]: (Smiles) Well, lucky for you, that happens to be my favorite around here. Max doesn't lie when he brags about the coffee.
[Ben]: Don't you find the dispensers better?
[Eunice]: That's from your perspective. As for me, I would hang out on Primus 24/7 working with little alien insects and making friends across the Codon Stream. No life's better than that.
[Ben]: (Grins) Until Azmuth steps in.
[Eunice]: (Laughs) Haha! Well, he's not that bad.
[Ben]: I heard you're the model worker?
[Eunice]: I've done everything there is to be done except put on a special suit and take a swim in the river. I've always wanted to do that, except I'll probably be growing crab legs out of my eyes.
[Ben]: That's only if it gets in your bloodstream.
[Eunice]: Thorns in the plants underwater!
[Ben]: Hence the suit. Wow, Primus has an answer for everything.
[Eunice]: (Shrugs) By definition. Hey, what's this helmet doing here?
[Ben]: Oh, just lying around. Say hi.
[Eunice]: (Giggles) It's Gwen's.
[Ben]: She had a spare or something she left here.
[Eunice]: Weird. Anyways, call me if you need anything. I'll be in the lab.
[Ben]: Sure. Thanks again.
(She leaves. Ben continues smiling as he watches her through the glass, leaving out of view, before his expression instantly turns serious.)
(He looks down at the folders he was given. They all have the Plumber symbol embedded into them.)
(Checking the alarm, it says 6:29. Ben opens up the laptop, and puts on headphones that were lying next to it.)
(He moves a few of the folders aside and takes a notepad from underneath. Flipping to the third page, he has a little "web" of details mapped out. Some of them have been filled in while others remain blank. They're not in enough focus for you to see what he's written down.)
(Ben double-clicks something and opens up a window on his laptop. He selects a few more options, and then opens up an overhead tab and hovers the cursor over Settings. He views something on a new panel.)
[Ben]: Operation Cloak and Dagger, here we come.
(Ben hovers over the "View" tab and checks off the "surveillance window" option. A large window takes center frame on the application.)
(Ben selects "Activate Tracer", and selects the file "Gwen.trc".)
(The camera zooms into the little device on Gwen's helmet. The red light turns on.)
[Gwen]: Systems check complete.
[Kevin]: At least this one's not a living organism.
(Their radios static for a moment.)
[Max]: Alright, everybody, can you hear me?
[Gwen]: Loud and clear.
(The scene switches three times to three sets of two Plumbers in their two-man ships. They all say "roger that".)
[Max]: Okay! Assuming that systems and equipment checks have been cleared as instructed, we shall be taking off in 20 seconds! Thomas and Highlander on the tech team's live hotline!
[Thomas]: (Through radio) Here.
[Highlander]: (Through radio) Here.
[Max]: Alright, are we all ready?
[Kevin]: Yes sir!
(Ben is watching a first-person feed through Gwen's helmet tracer, and hears this in his headphones. He cracks up.)
[Max]: Open the doors!
(After a second, rumbling and metal clanging is heard as the large green cargo doors open up and the takeoff platform extends outside. All the lights inside Gwen and Kevin's ship flash.)
(An excited Ben gleefully rubs his hands together and bounces up and down in his seat.)
[Ben]: Here we go...
[Max]: We are taking off in T-minus twenty! Nineteen! Eighteen! Seventeen! Sixteen! Fifteen!
(Ben hears footsteps. He turns off the audio and switches over to a picture of Alien X on the internet, flipping pages on his notepad.)
(Eunice comes in holding two iced coffees. Ben raises his eyebrows and slightly reaches his left arm out.)
[Eunice]: Once iced coffee coming right up.
(She slightly crouches while walking over and hands him the cup.)
(He sets it aside on the table and slides left and right to sit upright.)
[Eunice]: What're you doing?
[Ben]: Oh, yeah, this. (Chuckles) I've always tried drawing my aliens, now that I'm a trend and stuff, you know?
[Eunice]: You're bragging, aren't you?
[Ben]: Oh, not at all, just acknowledging the beautiful truth. (Grins)
(Eunice smiles and begins walking towards the door.)
[Eunice]: Again, call me if you need anything.
[Ben]: Sure thing. Thanks for the drink!
(As Eunice leaves, Ben frantically reopens the surveillance window and turns on the audio. The cargo doors and fully open and reveal a magnificent view of space.)
(Ben takes an anxious deep breath.)
[Max]: Three! Two! One! LIFT OFF!
(The ship engines hum and scream as the camera gets slightly shaky. The pitch of the engine scream raises and raises as Ben slightly winces.)
(It continues getting higher as Gwen's ship slowly begins hovering, moving out of the hangar and speeding up gradually as it nears the runway.)
(The interior surroundings abruptly vanish as they exit the station and the space backdrop engulfs the view. The engine screams die down to a tolerable background level as the bass takes full force while the ship speeds up.)
(Ben's chest bulges and shrinks in his deep breaths.)
(The loud "fizzing" in the last moments of takeoff is cut off by a low BOOM as the ship takes full speed. The view turns into a slightly vertigo-inducing tunnel-vision for a few seconds. Ben blinks tightly in awe.)
(The ship tilts slightly to the left. Gwen looks left and right and sees the other ships flanking hers. She then looks around at space.)
[Gwen]: That view is gorgeous.
[Ben]: (To himself) Glad she's as curious as I am.
(To the left, the looming, gargantuan planet Earth takes an imposing presence with every last detail under every last intricate cloud is possible to visualize. Small stars and little chunks of space debris zoom by while Earth stays stationary - a magnificent occurrence of the parallax effect.)
[Plumber 1]: (Through radio) We're approximately ten minutes from destination.
[Kevin]: Copy that.
[Thomas]: (Through radio) Hey guys, quick FYI: Highlander and I are going through the summaries Newell did on the Plumbers in this station.
[Gwen]: Did he finish?
[Thomas]: He will in about five minutes. He's been at it for a while.
(Ben's expression turns a little more serious and he glances back at his Notepad.)
(He opens one of the folders he received. The camera shows it for a quick second but all you can see is the top label: ASSET SUMMARY.)
(Ben points his pen around at random bits of writing on his pad and checks to see if they match with the contents of the folder. He nods to himself.)
(Gwen's radio statics and Ben turns to his laptop.)
[Highlander]: Guys, I thought you might wanna know this. Newell's done, but he asked us to double-check the Plumber inventory against his review. He got all of them, but in the original inventory, one's missing.
[Thomas]: Guess what? It does have an encryption mask. Lucky thing is I could get a match for it. It's the one we've been trying to crack all this while.
[Highlander]: Whole thing's pretty flimsy, if you ask me. Our answers are on the verge of being found by you guys.
[Thomas]: Thanks to that, we're expressing our early gratitude, if you will.
[Gwen]: (Chuckles) Thank you.
(Ben, paying attention, jots down "possible record erasure" in his notes.)
[Thomas]: We're going through his review for any leads at the moment.
[Plumber 1]: (Through radio) Seven minutes.
[Gwen]: Copy that.
[Kevin]: This is outer space. We should be able to see what we're going after by now.
[Gwen]: We didn't see what shot at us, though.
[Kevin]: Well, if we do get shot, you have shields to protect us, right?
[Gwen]: Hopefully they should hold up.
(The ships arc to the left and angle downwards.)
(Thomas has several windows open at once, including a command prompt window quickly running through ID's. It stops at the bottom, and Thomas closes them. He reopens another set of ID's in the same fashion.)
(The door opens and Max walks in.)
(Newell is busy on his own computer.)
[Max]: Is this what you'd call fieldwork?
[Newell]: Call it what you want.
(Max raises his eyebrows.)
[Newell]: Excuse my tone, it's just that this whole ordeal is beginning to prove tedious.
(Right as he says this, he suddenly widens his eyes.)
[Thomas]: Yes, Magister?
[Newell]: I have a lead!
(Ben, listening in, raises his eyebrows in fascination and keeps his pen ready.)
[Newell]: Not necessarily something we can pursue, but I made sure to include Reginalds and Sanders in my review.
[Newell]: Based on what the lab has been informing me, I delved into their history, and several records were erased.
(Ben notes down "example 2: Reginalds/Sanders" near "possible record erasure". He also writes "makes note of suspicion" near an area in which he's written "takes part in investigation".)
[Max]: Here, there's no way possible there isn't a link between all this secrecy. Go through their recent operations. They were involved in analyst business and liaison services between periods of fieldwork. Financial transactions are bound to give us a lead.
[Newell]: You have certainly been doing your homework.
(He types a few things in and navigates through windows.)
[Newell]: I'll be damned.
[Max]: What is it?
[Newell]: Thomas, you do the talking.
(Thomas receives a briefing of recent info. His eyes widen.)
[Thomas]: Wow, this certainly turned over a new leaf.
(He presses the intercom button.)
[Gwen]: I hear you, go ahead.
(Ben listens intently.)
[Thomas]: Newell gave me some leads he found when he looked through the financial history of Reginalds and Sanders. We found a shipment of a custom-made Plumber weapon to someone within the black market.
(Ben jots down "carries custom-made weaponry".)
[Thomas]: We dug through info on the client's delivery services. On their logs, the source of the shipment is blanked out. I just tried for a link with our two dead friends and it tells me "redacted". As of seven hours ago.
[Gwen]: That means someone among us did it.
(Ben notes "likely black market liaison".)
[Newell]: Not only that. The autopsy on Reginalds and Sanders says they've been dead for over two days. We can't be as precise as possible with theories like that, but a whole day's gap is enough to distinguish a difference. Reginalds and Sanders weren't responsible for the shipment, they were set up, or forced into doing it.
(Ben writes "possibilities: blackmail, bribery, framing" and connects a line from that to "access to records, position of power, connections".)
[Highlander]: Hey, look! I found a brief summary of the contents of the package the client received via the delivery service. It came with blueprints!
[Newell]: Open it up.
(Projected is an image of a fancy gun, intricately labeled with parts and measurements plus info on a top-right panel.)
[Highlander]: The source of this says anonymous, but the origin is listed. "W-E-P-0-1-1-A-A-L".
[Max]: Oh my god...
[Thomas]: What is it?
[Max]: WEP is the Plumber designation for the weapons department.
(Ben jots down "weapons department", but then sees that he's already written it down. He narrows his eyebrows and intensifies his glare.)
[Max]: 011A-Alpha is used when referencing the upper-class priority info originating from our Mount Rushmore base!
(Ben looks around on his paper for Mount Rushmore and sees it noted. He circles that and the note about weapons, and then draws a line through them. Taking several deep breaths, he is even more shocked when seeing "knowledge of weapons" listed.)
[Thomas]: I'm searching for links to Mount Rushmore right now.
[Gwen]: This has gotta be pretty huge if it's coming from Mount Rushmore.
[Plumber 1]: Two minutes.
[Thomas]: Got it! I'm looking at six recent transactions made through a secure channel used by the Mount Rushmore base.
[Highlander]: OH MY GOD! (He slides his rolling chair back)
[Highlander]: The secure channel! It has an IP mask that's encrypted!
[Thomas]: With the same encryption key?
[Gwen]: Oh my god.
(Ben is frantically scrawling all this on his paper.)
[Max]: This thing is running around the entire Plumber network right down to its roots. This guy isn't messing around when it comes to hacking.
[Ben]: (To himself) And he'd only be able to achieve all this correspondence to our activities if he was with us! He is still at large...
(He looks around nervously.)
[Max]: Gwen, Kevin, how we doing?
[Gwen]: One minute from destination and still no sight of anything.
[Kevin]: We see satellites though.
[Thomas]: Ben's theory about the space surveillance could prove true! Approach it!
[Kevin]: With caution, of course.
(Ben tightens his shoulders as he watches the live feed of the ship approach one of the nearby satellites.)
[Gwen]: I'm checking my coordinate tracker. This one's the closest to our destination.
[Kevin]: I spot wiring around the back!
(The satellite, rotating freely in space, tilts towards them. A large lens stares at the ship.)
[Gwen]: There's the camera lens for the surveillance!
[Kevin]: Okay, all we have to do is-
(The lens flashes with light and flickers.)
(The lens continues to flash.)
(Ben stares confused into the screen as the satellite continues to flash and flash...)
(Something on the ship suddenly buzzes.)
[Gwen]: What was that?
(The ship begins to rattle.)
(Ben's surveillance screens blur, pixelate and static periodically.)
(Ben's eyes intensify as his eyebrows knit.)
(The view on the ship flashes as it violently shakes.)
[Kevin]: What the hell is going on?
[Gwen]: I can't move the ship-
(Their ship suddenly starts to tilt to the left and get electrocuted.)
[Kevin and Gwen]: AAH!!!
[Plumber 1]: Unit 1, do you copy? I repeat, do you co- (Static)
(Gwen and Kevin look around, panicking...)
(Through the window, a large blast hits the satellite and knocks it aside.)
(Ben's breaths become lighter. Gwen and Kevin's ship stops flickering and its controls slightly restore themselves...)
(Ben jumps with a jolt and presses his hands to his head as he watches the camera view spin and spin with the ship that just got hit by a blast.)
[Max]: What was that??
[Plumber 1]: Sir, unit 1's been compromised! We're going in for assistance!
[Plumber 3]: My unit 3's gonna be on standby for the moment!
(Plumber 1's ship steers towards Gwen and Kevin...)
(A blast lights it on fire and sends it tumbling towards Ship 3.)
[Plumber 4]: Oh, crap...
(Gwen and Kevin's ship spirals down towards Earth. Ben blinks several times and looks away from the constantly rotating screen.)
(They get knocked to the side by more incoming blasts.)
[Gwen]: Hold on!
(She gets out of her seat, hanging onto the ceiling.)
[Kevin]: What the hell are you doing?
(Gwen, hanging by one hand, uses the other to blast a hole through the window and expand the blast into a shield around the ship. Kevin holds onto his seat to avoid the vacuum.)
(Gwen suddenly climbs out of the ship.)
(Ben watches a first person view of plain space through a magenta bubble shield, staring in awe.)
(Gwen almost loses balance.)
[Gwen]: PILOT THE FREAKING SHIP!
(Kevin, looking up at the ceiling gets startled and commandeers the controls, steering to the left.)
(Several blasts fire at the shield - some damage it while others deflect.)
[Plumber 3]: Sir, it appears Agent Tennyson has climbed atop her ship!
[Max]: What the hell did you just say?
[Plumber 3]: I repeat-
[Max]: Thomas, do you have satellite feeds over the area?
[Thomas]: It's been tampered with.
[Max]: Only one of them has! We have to try for the others!
(Ben, listening, slightly smiles while his mouth is still gaping wide.)
[Ben]: I'm not missing out any show here...
(Kevin angles and ship left and right while Gwen keeps blocking lasers and fireballs. A wide, gigantic shot is seen of the ship plummeting towards Earth among small explosions in space, loud gunfire, and red lasers.)
[Gwen]: They're coming out of nowhere!
[Kevin]: (Grunts, steers left) Is it the satellites?
[Gwen]: It's coming from where Earth is!
[Kevin]: Is it ON Earth?
[Gwen]: We're gonna crash anyways, so let's wait until we find out! AAH! (Deflects blast)
[Thomas]: There! I got live feed... and what the hell do we have here?
[Max]: Oh, good lord...
(Kevin's radio flickers.)
[Plumber 3]: Unit 1?
[Kevin]: NOT NOW, YOU MORONS! Can't you see we're in a situation here?
(Max makes a "WHAT?" face with intense eyes and narrowed eyebrows, and a wide open mouth.)
[Plumber 3]: Yeah, a suicidal situation!
[Kevin]: Yeah, knock her out of the sky and pick her up on your ship, how about that?
(Ben just shakes his head while still smiling and gaping in awe. He looks down at his notes and back at the feed.)
(Unit 3's ship is blasted out of the air...)
(A massive blast sparking with red electricity nears them.)
[Kevin]: Here comes a big one!
[Gwen]: 110 degree loop-the-loop! This is gonna hurt!
[Kevin]: Oh my god...
(As the blast nears, Kevin angles his ship upwards and does a loop the loop...)
(White electricity pulsates down the bubble shield and Gwen knocks the bolt out of the air and back to where it came from.)
(Everyone in the lab gasps in astonishment.)
[Highlander]: Did I just see that right?
[Kevin]: (Laughs) RETURN TO SENDER!
[Ben]: (Grins) Julie would be proud.
(Kevin dodges another piece of burning debris as he watches the bolt keep flying back...)
(The bolt collides with something invisible, and a ripple in the air is visible.)
[Kevin]: Wait, what?
(The ripple expands in electricity and keeps spreading out in an elongated shape... the area it covered flickers.)
[Gwen]: What's happening?
[Kevin]: It stopped firing!
(Gwen, still staring confusedly at what they just saw, casually climbs back into the ship with the shield still on.)
(Kevin, leaning back and taking a deep breath, looks at her.)
(The music stops, and Max and everyone else is waiting, tense.)
[Gwen]: Yes, this place makes me do reckless things.
[Kevin]: *(Sigh)* Hell of a death wish.
(Leaning back on his chair lazily and looking up at the ceiling, he turns to Gwen while his head is still resting on his seat.)
(Gwen turns to look at him.)
(Ben, intrigued, raises his eyebrows.)
(Gwen tilts her head and leans in...)
[Ben]: They're gonna have time to prove my theories, let's see...
(As Kevin leans in too, their faces get close and block the view of space...)
(They stop and turn.)
[Ben]: Aw, dammit.
(A low hum alerts them to the flickering bubble that the ripple drew with electricity...)
(The bubble continues to flicker and spark a little until panels of images spanning the three-dimensional area flicker like broken TV screens.)
(A nearby satellite turns to look. Thomas watches through it, first-person.)
[Highlander]: Please tell me what's happening.
[Newell]: Don't ask me.
(Ben pauses for a second, and then sits upright with a jolt, and writes in his notepad: "evasive of incriminating discussion".)
(He scans through his notes, with a legend in the corner - "solid line = confirmed, dashed line = theory")
(The camera zooms in across his notes and over to the center - all his connected info branches out from a single bubble labeled "Sylax Newell".)
(The notes go out of focus to show one of the open folders, which has records on Newell. Sheets underneath continue with lists and tables.)
(Flickering and sparking noises from the video divert Ben's reading attention to shift to the screen.)
(His eyes widen and he leans in.)
(Everyone else is watching as well along with a shocked Gwen and Kevin - the "glitching images" and "electric bubble" slowly rupture... revealing a giant ship underneath, whose invisibility cloak is faltering due to damage.)
(This ship is massive and resembles The Malevolence from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Its invisibility cloak stops flickering and it reveals itself, with its sides slightly burning.)
[Thomas]: That's a full-fledged star destroyer, for crying out loud.
[Max]: And it's been masked and out of our sight for this long?
[Thomas]: Now I'm beginning to doubt whether anyone tampered with the satellite's surveillance. It hid itself.
[Highlander]: Should we send out a backup crew?
[Newell]: Of course! They're alone!
(Ben jots down "encourages putting other Plumbers in danger".)
(Kevin and Gwen continue to stare in awe.)
[Kevin]: It's a ship...
[Gwen]: Go in a little closer.
[Kevin]: Are you crazy? That's a suicide note!
[Gwen]: I never said enter, I just said fly closer. I'm trying to pick up Mana traces.
(Kevin slowly moves towards the ship.)
(First-person view through Gwen's Mana-vision shows Kevin highlighted on the left, and very small white dots scrambled near where the ship is. This looks like a pink-colored version of Batman: Arkham Asylum/City/Origins's detective mode.)
[Gwen]: Keep going, don't stop. Stay at this speed.
(Kevin slowly hovers closer to the ship, though it's still at a great distance from them. The minuscule traces of mana randomly flicker here and there as their abstract shape varies and expands into some kind of border.)
[Gwen]: I'm getting somewhere...
[Kevin]: Let's hope so.
(Ben, meanwhile, obviously can't see the Mana vision, so he just spreads out his arms in confusion as Kevin just keeps approaching.)
(Gwen's vision highlights a rectangular border inside the ship, which starts to take a less placid shape.)
[Gwen]: Wait, I'm getting traces...
(Thomas continues to watch and listen in.)
[Thomas]: Guys, we're sure that Anodite sorcery is a reliable means of information, right?
[Max]: (Shrugs) I'm pretty sure it is. Verdona would always find these crazy things while messing around with those powers, and they were usually right.
[Highlander]: Does it hold up now?
[Max]: Probably. As most of you probably know, magic isn't necessarily my area.
[Gwen]: Guys? I'm getting feeds of living organisms down there!
[Thomas]: Did you identify any of them?
[Gwen]: (Grunts) Trying...
[Kevin]: Make it fast. I don't want to fly into a trap here.
[Gwen]: Wait! Wait, I'm getting something! Alien skin! Yes, many kinds! And metals, and... blood.
[Gwen]: Wait... AAH!!
(She gasps and her eyes stop glowing. She sits in her seat, solemnly staring.)
[Kevin]: Gwen! Gwen, what is it?
[Gwen]: (Deep breath) I found traces... of Plumber's badges.
(Thomas and Highlander look at each other.)
[Gwen]: The metals, LED's, and Plumber circuit boards. Grandpa told me that our badges contain a special kind of silicon. I picked up traces of that. Hundreds of them.
(Ben, shocked, writes down "targeting possible incrimination".)
[Thomas]: Can we confirm all that?
[Gwen]: Not until we go see for ourselves.
[Newell]: We've sent in a backup fleet to assist you.
[Gwen]: Should we wait?
[Newell]: Yes. Anyways the ship's only been sitting here, and you did say they were alive.
(Ben jots down "stalls incriminating operations".)
[Kevin]: Hey, I see them!
(Far away are six glowing green dots approaching quickly. They arc down to the angle at which they can reach Gwen and Kevin's altitude.)
[Gwen]: Kevin, stop flying!
[Kevin]: Oh, right-
(As Kevin stops, the center of the ship suddenly explodes and lets out an immensely bright beam of light.)
(BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!)
(Hundreds of small, flashing bursts of fire spark across the ship as it begins to break in half and catch fire.)
[Max]: GET OUT OF THERE!
(Thomas scrambles for the intercom.)
[Thomas]: Unit Alpha, you better hurry up.
[Rescue Pilot 1]: Copy that. We see the situation.
[Max]: Yeah, I hope you understand that it is a very dire and familial emergency?
[Rescue Pilot 2]: We're going as fast as possible, sir.
(Ben is taking deep breaths with his hands clutching his temples.)
(He looks at his notes back and forth, and jots down a final note: "extreme measures".)
(He then suddenly gasps at a previous note: "encourages extreme measures.")
(He draws one final line between the two, and then circles in all the connected info with marked proof.)
(Outside, the rescue ships close in on Gwen and Kevin's ship, which is desperately making an escape as smoldering debris floats near them.)
[Rescue Pilot 1]: Target located, sir. Retrieving now.
(A fiery chunk of metal sweeps the ship to the side. It rotates around clumsily.)
[Rescue Pilot 1]: Surround them!
[Rescue Pilot 2]: Roger that!
(The six ships enclose the radius within which Gwen and Kevin are stuck.)
(Kevin loses balance and falls off his seat, clutching onto a handlebar.)
(Gwen slams into the side of the ship. Her helmet hits it, and the tracer cracks and falls off.)
(Ben's screen flickers and he is now only able to see a shaky shot of Gwen and Kevin frantically getting swung here and there.)
[Ben]: Oh god...
(The ships extend grapples...)
[Gwen]: Hold onto the seat!
[Kevin]: I'm trying- OOF!
(The camera shakes violently as the ship stops spinning out of control and is yanked into a stationary position. Through the windows, they see a rescue ship coming close to them.)
[Rescue Pilot 3]: Turn on your oxygen and your mobile gravity!
(Gwen presses a button on her helmet, that lights up green and beeps. Kevin does likewise. A few seconds later, the glass on the helmets go over their faces and make steam noises.)
(Breathing with Darth Vader sounds, Gwen and Kevin press a button on the side of the ship. The door opens...)
(Gwen gets sucked out but hangs onto the rope grapple. Kevin, panicking, holds onto the door.)
(Gwen holds out her hand.)
[Gwen]: Kevin, come on!
[Gwen]: There is no waiting, we have to-
(BOOM! The back of the ship catches fire.)
(He leaps and grabs her hand, but his left hand misses the rope, leaving him dangling by Gwen's hand.)
[Rescue Pilot 3]: Here, I'm retracting the grapple! It'll pull you up!
(The pilot presses a button, and the grapple lets go of the ship. It starts to wind back in, and Gwen suddenly gets slightly pulled up.)
[Gwen]: UGH! (She grunts as Kevin struggles.)
(The grapple end meets her hand, allowing her to grab onto it and have better grip. As the grapple retracts, Gwen swings forward and is able to grab onto the floor of the ship.)
[Rescue Pilot 3]: That's it! Give me your hand!
[Gwen]: What about Kevin?
[Kevin]: I've got it!
(She looks down - a ship is hovering below Kevin.)
[Rescue Pilot 2]: Alright, Kevin, let go!
(Kevin lets go and lets out a light scream of panic as he lands on the top.)
(Gwen looks back up and gives her other hand to the pilot. He pulls her up.)
[Rescue Pilot 3]: There we go.
(Gwen lets out a sigh of relief as she gets on her knees inside the ship. The doors close.)
[Rescue Pilot 3]: (Picks up radio) Alright, are we clear on your end?
[Rescue Pilot 2]: Almost... *(Grunt)*
[Rescue Pilot 3]: What's going on?
(Inside the second ship, the pilot is pulling Kevin up as he hangs off the edge.)
[Rescue Pilot 2]: I can't... AH!
(Kevin finally pulls his right arm up and hangs onto the ledge.)
[Kevin]: I've got this, beefcake.
(He pushes himself up and lands safely inside.)
(The doors close.)
[Rescue Pilot 2]: And clear!
[Rescue Pilot 3]: Woo! Let's get going!
(The ships turn around and zoom their way back towards the HQ, which is visible from afar following a rotating shot over to behind the ships.)
[Rescue Pilot 1]: Sir, mission accomplished.
(The techs in the lab all cheer. Max, meanwhile, slightly smiles with his hands on his hips.)
[Max]: *(Exhale)* I can't really call it that...
(Ben, watching with relief, sees his screen get engulfed by fire before it goes out.)
(He continues calmly staring for a bit until his eyes go wide and he looks back at his notes.)
(He takes one last look at them, up and down, his expression very serious and grim.)
(He circles Newell's name, and puts his pen down. He leans back and lets out an exasperated sigh.)
(He looks over to the left, and notices the iced coffee Eunice gave him. He looks at it for a moment, and then reaches over to pick it up.)
(He opens the flask lid, and is about the take a sip...)
(He hears a few noises on his headphones. Leaning closer to the computer, he hears Max's voice.)
[Max]: Here, you might wanna go check on Ben, see how he's doing.
[Newell]: I can go.
[Max]: I'd appreciate that, thanks.
(Ben's eyes widen and he looked scared.)
[Ben]: *(Exhale)* He's coming for me, alright.
(He lowers the flask and closes the lid. Staring at it thoughtfully for a moment, he shakes the flask with both hands.)
(He then moves it away from his face, holding it with one hand and angling it around with one eyebrow raised.)
(He then looks at his laptop. He leans forward and moves the stand it's on off of him.)
(Max and the others wait patiently.)
(Highlander, who is resting his elbow on the table and drumming his fingers, suddenly sits upright and presses the intercom.)
(He turns it off.)
[Max]: What is it?
[Highlander]: They'll be here in three minutes, sir.
[Max]: Okay, I'm heading to the landing zone.
(Max gets up and goes off.)
(Ben quickly uncaps his pen, holding the cap with his teeth, and scrawls something on the next page of his notepad.)
(He then goes to his notes and tears off the sheet, keeping it with the rest of the folders on the side table.)
(Thump, Thump, Thump...)
(Very distant footsteps.)
(Ben moves his blankets aside and rips off the wires he's hooked up to.)
(He's wearing a collared, light-green hospital T-shirt.)
(Wincing, grunting and slightly moaning in pain, Ben pushes his hands down against the mattress and sits upright. He stops for a moment, takes a breather, and then tries again.)
(Slowly but surely, he slides his legs to the left and onto the floor. Sitting on the bed, he slowly gets up.)
[Ben]: AH- AAH!
(He sits back down.)
(Hearing the footsteps get louder, he tries again. With all his might, he stands up, wobbling on the floor. He briefly rests his arm on the bedside to keep balance before letting go again. Flailing his arms, he leans forward and begins limping, grabbing his folders and notes.)
(He stops for a second, and looks behind. His laptop is still sitting there.)
(He goes back over and leans forward, reaching for his laptop.)
(He slides it forward and takes a step back as he picks it up...)
(He throws it hard on the ground, and the lid becomes slightly detached. He grabs the coffee flask off the bed, opens it, and pours it all over the laptop, hearing it spark and die.)
(He drops the flask and picks up his notes and folders again.)
(The footsteps become louder...)
(Scrambling for a crutch resting against the wall, Ben uses it to support himself as he opens the door and limps out.)
(Looking behind him one last time, he crutches his way to the left of the hallway.)
(As soon as Ben exits the frame, the camera pans to the right just as Newell is walking in.)
(Newell walks over to the door and opens it...)
(He walks over and looks around, seeing the broken and stained laptop on the ground.)
[Newell]: What in the hell?
(He scrambles the bedsheets around and walks over behind the bed.)
[Newell]: Dammit, now where is he?
(He thinks about calling help from his Plumber's badge, but moves his hand away from his suit's pocket. He instead walks over to the corner of the bed, and looks underneath.)
(He looks back up and notices the paper Ben left behind.)
(He picks it up and stares at it in confusion.)
(It reads "IT'S NEWELL. WATCH OUT.")
(Newell drops the paper and looks up, wide-eyed and scared. He grits his teeth in anger and looks around. He then looks back at the paper, and crumples it and rips it apart.)
(Newell shoves through the doorway and walks out menacingly, looking left and right.)
[Newell]: Where is that little rat?
(He takes a left and stops, observing the floor.)
(Bending down, he takes a closer look... sweeping skid marks from rubber.
(He rubs his thumb and index finger against each other, shakes them off, and gets up. He takes a quick look around the available pathways and continues going straight.)
(He stops at a left, and looks around. The camera pans down the hallway and around a corner, where a crutch-holding Ben is hiding.)
(Newell begins to move. Ben frantically walks off with his crutches.)
(Newell nears the corner...)
(Ben takes a left and spots a door on the wall to his right. He rushes in.)
(Newell reaches the corner and looks about. He then brandishes his gun - it's fancy, and unusually decorated and modified... custom-made.)
(Max rushes into the deployment zone. An operator is standing at the control pad.)
[Max]: What's the status?
(The operator turns around and adjusts his glasses nervously.)
[Operator]: Oh, Magister! Yes, they're, uh... (he peers through the window) ...ten meters from landing?
(Max looks out, and then walks through a second door that leads into the actual landing zone, into loud noise.)
[Operator]: Oh, ah, sir, you might wanna stand back.
(Max stops, and starts slowly backing up, as the loud ship noise increases.)
(Max runs into the operator side-room...)
(One of the rescue jets zooms in and gently hovers above the landing pad, slowly descending to the ground.)
[Operator]: (Into intercom) Unit 2, please stand by.
[Rescue Pilot 2]: (Through radio) Understood.
(Newell, gun in hand, looks around the hallway.)
(There's a door opposite the one Ben went into. Newell spots in and shoulder-charges the door open, aiming his gun around.)
(It's a literally empty conference room with no shelves, tables or seats. Newell exits.)
(The camera pans through the windows of the opposite conference room, where Ben is hiding near another doorway.)
(Rescue Pilot 3 opens up the doors on his ship while Unit 2 can be heard landing beside him.)
(Gwen steps out and runs over to Max, hugging him.)
[Max]: I'm so glad you're okay.
[Gwen]: Me too.
(Kevin walks around Gwen's rescue ship and comes running over.)
(He hugs Gwen tightly, sighing in relief and letting go.)
[Kevin]: Your arms aching?
[Gwen]: Aw, come on!
[Kevin]: Anyways, we certainly have a lot to catch up on.
[Max]: We'll discuss that later.
(Gwen and Kevin look around. Max notices.)
[Max]: Oh, you're looking for Ben?
[Gwen]: Is he still in the hospital room?
[Max]: Yeah, he's pulling through, mostly.
[Kevin]: How's Mr. Tentacles doing?
[Max]: Oh, right! I had Newell go check on Ben!
[Gwen]: When was this?
[Max]: Four minutes ago. He should be back by now, I told him and everyone else I'm coming here.
[Gwen]: So he's not back?
[Max]: Here, why don't we go check on Ben ourselves?
[Kevin]: Yeah, I bet we're probably more anxious than he is.
(Cascading into an on-the-contrary end of things, Ben is panting and sweating, leaned against the wall adjacent to the alternative doorway inside the unlit conference room.)
(Through the glass, he sees Newell approaching.)
[Ben]: *(Pant)* *(Gasp)* Oh, Jesus, oh crap...
(Looking to the right, he sees an electrical box. Staggering over to it, he opens it up.)
(Hearing the glass door creaking, he jams the end of his right crutch into the switches.)
(It sparks and all the lights go out.)
(Newell, having just entered, rotates all over the place observing the lights in the sector having gone out.)
[Newell]: I'll be damned...
(Ben charges through the other door and limps out quickly.)
(Newell wheels around, looking under the desks with his gun, before standing up and noticing the glass door swinging left and right.)
(His eyes intensify as he walks over to it and out into the hallway, looking to the left. The halls curve.)
(Newell begins walking, and aims his gun. His strides become faster as he goes around the curve...)
(At the end, the hallway straightens into a long corridor, with stairs at the end... and distant clanging noises.)
(Newell gasps and begins running down the hallway as he hears footsteps above him.)
(Max, Gwen and Kevin walk in. Thomas, Highlander a few other techs turn around.)
[Thomas]: Oh, they're back! Hell of a mission, huh?
[Max]: That comes later. Is Newell here?
[Thomas]: (Shakes his head) No, sir, he never got back.
[Max]: You serious?
[Thomas]: Why would I not be?
[Max]: *(Exhale)* Dammit.
[Kevin]: Next stop's the hospital.
[Gwen]: What does he have to tell Ben that's so long?
[Max]: Let's go find out.
(The door opens and they walk out.)
(Newell jogs to the end of the corridor and hastily makes it up the first short set of stairs. At the platform at their end, the stairs continue from there up the other way.)
(Newell runs up them, each step skipping a stair, and onto the next floor.)
(It's a corridor that looks a lot like the eerie, quiet Microsoft office halls, but this hallway is floored green, with a black ceiling, dark grey walls striped with green, and dim white lights. The unlit corner conference room walls are large glass panels. The hallway he's looking at goes straight ahead or left.)
(Newell approaches with his gun raised, and leans to the left as he enters the intersection. Aiming his gun and peering through the windows of the corner conference room, he finds nothing.)
(Newell walks into the conference room, and turns on the lights - they flicker on and dim. He takes a quick check around and bends down to look under the tables, and leaves, sighing with exasperation.)
(Max, Gwen and Kevin take a left into the halls of the medical sector. They take a light left (it's now a diagonal hall), and make it to a clearing at an intersection.)
(Spotting the window-lined private medical bay, Max goes over to it and opens the doors... he gasps, taking aback and putting his hands on his head.)
[Gwen]: Grandpa, what is it?
(Gwen runs over with Kevin.)
(Max is shaking his head in disbelief as Gwen and Kevin walk in, turning shocked.)
[Max]: (Shakily) Empty, that's what.
[Gwen]: Shouldn't you sound more worried?
[Max]: I sound shaky because I am about to pop after an hours-on-end death threat and now this. Whole goddamn place's been ransacked and to top it off, my esteemed grandson took my badge and they're still configuring a new one, so we still are potentially screwed. SHOOT ME NOW.
[Kevin]: Looks like that's what happened to this laptop.
[Max]: What laptop?
[Kevin]: The one you're about to step on.
(Max goes wide-eyed and looks down at the charred device. He kicks aside the detached lid and uncovers a broken and stained keyboard.)
[Max]: You're wrong. Someone spilled coffee on this.
(Gwen is examining the flask.)
[Gwen]: Here's the container.
(She pours its contents into her left palm. She finds an ice cube that's almost entirely melted.)
[Gwen]: Iced coffee.
[Max]: I don't remember giving him either of these things!
[Kevin]: Someone had to have given it to him, he couldn't walk.
[Gwen]: Question is who.
(They all look about. Max notices something and knits his eyebrows.)
[Max]: What the hell is that?
(On the countertop, he finds two crumpled pieces of paper.)
[Gwen]: Crushed paper?
(Max goes over to it and unfolds the pieces. Flipping one upside down and rotating the other, he joins the pieces.)
(His expression goes grim and he slams the pieces on the bed.)
[Gwen]: Grandpa, what's wrong.
[Max]: *(Gasp)* *(Exhale)* Come and see for yourself.
(Gwen walks over, and suddenly gasps, covering her mouth with her hands. Kevin angles his head away in disbelief and looks shocked, slowly shaking his head. Max stares with his hands on his hips at the "it's Newell" note.)
[Max]: Now where do we find that angry S.O.B?
(Newell inches across the halls cautiously, aiming his gun in different directions.)
[Newell]: Where are you...
(Looking through a window panel, he wheels around and aims his gun into the other room.)
(He continues to creep along the hallway until he reaches a turn.)
(Looking around, on the left is a door-less doorway leading into a kitchen.)
(He goes inside and looks around the tables, passing by beverage refrigerators. He turns around to examine the conveyor-belt coffee makers, and then exits out into another hallway.)
(This narrow path leads to a clearing directly ahead, at an L-shaped intersection. At the corner is an empty conference room... whose glass entrance door is creaking and swinging.)
(Newell approaches it menacingly, keeping his gun aimed. He cautiously enters and looks about.)
(It appears empty, though there is shelving lining the front wall. Newell enters and sneaks along the shelves...)
(He waits a few seconds at the corner, and then jumps out, aiming it gun at a completely empty closet.)
(When he steps back into the open, the door is still creaking.)
(The Magister cocks his gun and aims it at the door with his right hand, with his left wrist pressed under his right forearm to create a cross. His left fist underneath is holding something... the camera zooms into it until a glowing knife blade ejects out.)
(Newell rotates around and stands in the doorway. He turns back around to the room...)
(It's clear, and he rotates to turn back to the hallway...)
(DIAMONDHEAD stands in the hallway.)
(As Newell is about to fire his gun...)
(Diamondhead grabs his arm, twists it, slams the gun out, and AS IT'S FALLING, slices it right at the mag - he cuts it clean in half, including the ammunition cartridges.)
(Diamondhead then jabs Newell in the face, kicks him back and sends him toppling over the table, and cuts off the side of one of the shelves.)
(As Newell gets up, Diamondhead swings and smashes him across the side with it, and then jams the board alongside the entrance window panel. He yanks the entrance shutters down.)
(ZIK ZIK ZIK ZIK!)
(Diamondhead fires four shards into the corners of the board, locking it into place.)
(Newell lunges at Diamondhead from behind, but Diamondhead brutally elbows him in the stomach, wheeling around and delivering a swift 540° hook kick to Newell's face. He walks up to him, knees him in the face, and grabs him by the shoulders. He picks him up and charges him into the wall.)
[Newell]: GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME, BEAST!
[Diamondhead]: Get your men off of us, traitor!
(Diamondhead grunts loudly with his deep voice and lands two hard jabs to Newell's abdomen, and then headbutts him, cracking the wall. He grabs him by the chest, picks him up, and flips him over his body, throwing the Chimerian into the edge of the table and breaking it off.)
(A raspy-voiced Newell growls in pain while Diamondhead stomps him in the chest twice - Newell rolls to the side on the third and gets up, swinging at Diamondhead, who blocks with his sharpened forearm. Newell's black metal glove gets cut off.)
(Diamondhead grabs his opponent's bear left hand, twists it, getting Newell to fall to the left in pain, and jabs him in the back of the head, driving his head into the table and cracking it. He uses his foot to press Newell's body against the tableside while he pulls up a chair.)
(Newell gets up, but Diamondhead slams the Magister's head into the table once more, dazing him for a second.)
(SHING! SHING! Diamondhead fires two shards from his wrists and into his palms, now holding them individually.)
(He stabs one of them into Newell's right hand and through the table, keeping it there. Dark greenish-blue blood trickles out.)
(Diamondhead punches him in the mouth and stabs the other shard into Newell's left hand.)
(Newell's scream is more painful this time, almost like a cry. He coughs halfway through and grunts, breathing exceptionally heavily in growls.)
(Diamondhead pulls Newell's Plumber badge out of his pocket, and slams it into the table using his sharpened hand, impaling and defusing it.)
(Diamondhead, keeping his left arm aimed at Newell, walks around to the other side of the desk, before slowly lowering his arm.)
(Newell continues to breathe in growls.)
(Diamondhead grabs a nearby LED that's plugged in, and moves it close to them. He turns it on, displaying a white light underneath them that looks like flashlights underneath their chins.)
(Diamondhead, in his deep, strained voice, talks in a very laid-back yet exceedingly emphatic, menacing tone.)
(Newell, when screaming, sounds like Vilgax in Vilgax Attacks.)
[Diamondhead]: *(Pant)* *(Exhale)* Now do I need to pin your thighs to the seat, too, or will you stay put?
[Newell]: *(Inhale)* WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?
[Diamondhead]: Your downfall, that's what it is.
[Newell]: *(Deep breath)* You will PAY for this, you hear me, monster? I will have you KILLED! EXECUTED!
[Diamondhead]: Shouldn't be a problem, should it? It's what happened to all those other pour souls, and hell, you tried gettingyour own hands dirty with me!
[Newell]: I have absolutely no idea what rubbish you are accusing me of-
[Diamondhead]: Given the context, that's a garbage lie. Like all your others.
[Newell]: I am an honest man!
[Diamondhead]: Hell yes, you are! You practically gave yourself away! Actually, you did, for a matter of fact!
[Newell]: I saw your note. You were trying to send that message to everyone who came looking for you!
[Diamondhead]: Granted I couldn't really get up at the moment, yes.
[Newell]: Why did you run?
[Diamondhead]: Because you were coming to kill me, clean and simple as that. Though I haven't yet found your camera inside the hospital to see what I was doing.
[Newell]: What camera? I was overseeing analysis! AARGH!
[Diamondhead]: Yeah, those hurt, don't they? Don't worry, that stick or stone may have broken your bones, but words... (nodding) oh, they can hurt you damn well. Definitely. Much better and much more than bone.
[Newell]: *(Pant)* What exactly are you doing?
[Diamondhead]: Proving something to you.
(Diamondhead walks over to the front-wall shelf and picks up his folders and papers from the top.)
(He slams them down in front of Newell and spreads them out like cards, opening the folders and spreading their contents out. They are visible in the light.)
(He brings his finger down on the picture of Newell on his file, making a crease in it.)
[Diamondhead]: Now who is this not-so-handsome lad?
[Newell]: (Looking up, talking quieter) Where did you get these?
[Diamondhead]: Wherever I got them.
[Newell]: No, THIS is too much, this is over-the-top.
[Diamondhead]: Simple incrimination, my friend! I know it all feels overwhelming when it comes down on you, but-
[Newell]: No, THIS IS UNAUTHORIZED! This is THEFT of classified records, UNAUTHORIZED and UNLAWFUL inspection of-
[Diamondhead]: -Inspection of official documents, and it's assault, and battery, and attempted murder, and espionage, hell, treason, if you will, and almost every other strong and fragile barrier broken to get to the one who did break them all. (Puts finger to Newell's forehead) YOU. After all, what makes them so damn classified?
[Newell]: (Shakily) I am not any of these things...
[Diamondhead]: (Spits melted glass on the table, leans back) BULLcrap. You are every single one of those things. It's your Plumber file, you moron! Oh, wait, you don't accept the Plumber content to be yours anymore do you? No, you're done with those chumps. Gone.
[Newell]: Your notes, your ridiculous "analysis" of me, THIS is what you were up to?
[Diamondhead]: Quite shocking, isn't it? Though I'm not in the mood for a some big crystal smile over your compliments. And don't say I'm bluffing, because you can see all that. I'm sure I didn't get you in the eyes all that much.
[Newell]: No, all this... you can't even prove any of these things!
[Diamondhead]: Sure I can. I was watching it all.
[Newell]: Where were you watching it all? Wait... the laptop...
[Diamondhead]: I observed your activity during Gwen and Kevin's mission to back up whatever I already had on you. Everything checked out.
[Newell]: "Extreme measures"... I encourage drastic methods, sure, but where did that map out in the mission?
[Diamondhead]: When you blew up a whole ship, Galvan genius! And it says there you took extreme measures to avoid incrimination! Those guys, along with the ones you butchered and stored as packaged meat. They knew, didn't they? Or at least they were aware of some kind of conspiracy? Any loose end, any risk, anything that stands between that hacker and his opportunism, you waste 'em.
[Newell]: I swear, I am NOT your mole, despite-
[Diamondhead]: I am gonna chop off two of your tentacles on that beard if you call it a coincidence. Coincidences are delusions.
[Newell]: I've been set up!
[Diamondhead]: Friend, I cross-referenced this info from official records on you that the mole has left untouched.
[Newell]: How would you know? You're not Thomas and his technicians to find some encryption nonsense?
[Diamondhead]: Oh, am I not? See, I already am a better liar than you. How do you think the great technicians were unable to detect any hint that I was watching the mission?
[Newell]: *(Exhale in shock)* You used a proxy. To anonymously conduct activities through a secure channel.
[Diamondhead]: See, I already am a better liar than you.
[Newell]: So you do know more than what people think you do?
[Diamondhead]: About computers in particular, sure, just like you, as I now know. My deception had you all fooled, you specifically, enough to where your inner pride and opportunism prompted you to make it somewhat clear that you knew a thing or two about the digital world. It was subtle, but as transparent as thin air.
[Newell]: What "inner pride" and "opportunism"?
[Diamondhead]: Just the way you behaved, your tonal changes when I appeared to take more command, your surprise at it, that came from the dilation of your eyes, by the way, a lot.
[Newell]: Your understanding of the psyche is appalling. I'm not even your own kind!
[Diamondhead]: Oh, but neither is Brainstorm.
[Newell]: Okay, so what's your plan here? To sit and taunt me here while I bleed out? To go publicly announce me as some mass-murdering snitch?
[Diamondhead]: I should ask you the same thing.
[Newell]: I have nothing to say or show.
[Diamondhead]: Or hide, I'm guessing, you heartless imbecile.
[Diamondhead]: See you do take pride in all this. Your flaring anger can be distinguished from pain quite easily. Everything you've done for him, all this setup - the whole grand scheme has all just fallen right back on you. It's crushed you from the inside and you're letting it get to you. I guess I got my work cut out for me then.
[Newell]: What's that supposed to mean?
[Diamondhead]: Oh, I'm afraid it'll cheer you up, given that most people do when talked out this way.
[Newell]: Tell me anyway.
[Diamondhead]: Oh, so you are curious! I see!
(Newell takes another angry breath.)
(Diamondhead looks amused before his expression turns deadly and serious. He coldly stares into Newell's eyes and speaks with a very haunting, very "intimate" tone to his voice.)
(He grabs Newell by the collar, straining the blades in his hands and making him wince. Diamondhead leans in close to Newell's face.)
[Diamondhead]: See, when I say that it's easy to make you talk, it's because the blackness of your heart doesn't stay there. It seeps around you to where you can show emotion. Enough to mask how much of a sociopath you really are. Except you gave that away too at some point. See, people like you are a different breed. The kind that harbor more tolerance, if not full tolerance... to anything. You're the kind that takes a more creative method of taming. One that's substantial enough to puncture you from all angles, the kind that you yourself inflict. *(Inhale)* And as we all know, if you can't sink into a beast's flesh without its own teeth, then the only way to do it is to go at it with a pair of pliers and go on to have your own feast.
(Diamondhead, still glaring at Newell, drops him back into his seat, while the man sweats and trembles.)
[Newell]: (Shakily, quietly) Y-you, you're, you're... you're a monster, you know that?
[Diamondhead]: Oh, I'm many monsters. They all range across different degrees. But I can make them all each just a different scene within your worst nightmare if I wanted to.
[Newell]: Y-you are what y-you say I am.
[Diamondhead]: No. I am not what I say you are because I am unbreakable. You show your vulnerability, you show us where you don't like to be kicked, and you graze your own wings, smear the blood on display and have us take a look because you are our prize. The one he wanted us to find. Now it's obvious there's a trap in all of this somewhere, but being who I am, I will be ready. With you and your superior I know exactly who I'm dealing with following these events. I'll have to adjust accordingly, and with you I'm just getting started. If your boss is my ultimate goal, then I'll be far worse than I am now when I reach him. Which means you and your whole circle of friends are all just damned to hell now. It's already over for you. Your boss will know when to watch out, and then, so will the rest of you. But right now, you, Sylax Newell, are all alone in this world, hanging by an abyss. I can pull you out of there, when you ask me to. The matter here is to use the right words.
(Newell takes a deep breath.)
[Newell]: O-okay... okay. I'll say it. Y-you are genuinely intimidating. Especially, especially for a child, or rather, someone your age. I don't find you to be a child.
(Diamondhead nods cruelly.)
[Newell]: B..b-but this would all make for a breathtaking show if you were talking to your real mole, and not me.
(Diamondhead squints a little harder, before getting up. He begins walking to the door, before he turns around.)
[Diamondhead]: I'm giving you exactly five minutes to reconsider everything you've said to me, and to look over what I've written there. After that, if you're uncooperative, I will break you.
(Newell, trembling, continues to stare at him, frightened, while Diamondhead removes the shard pins from the shelf panel and moves it. He walks out the door and slides the panel back into place. He fires two angled shards that pin it to the wall once more.)
(Newell, still inside, looks back the table, the blood on his hands slowly creeping towards the papers. He takes a shaky deep breath and examines the contents of the documents.)
(Various dark close-up shots of hands putting on gloves and loading weapons are seen. The last shot in this sequence is a helmet being put over a face mask.)
(Two six-man rows of black-clad Plumber elites walk down the hallway and into the Intel Research Base.)
(Max turns around.)
[Max]: Ah, good, you're here! Is everyone ready?
[Elite 1]: Yes, sir. Unit 2's turned the whole medical sector upside down, and we haven't found anything.
[Max]: Which is why we're here to change that.
[Thomas]: Oh, sir, here's our cue.
[Max]: Right. Take Highlander and two techs with you.
[Thomas]: Understood. Guys, come on.
(Thomas, Highlander and two techs walk out.)
[Max]: Alright, now can we call him truly missing?
[Elite 2]: We've been at it for a while, sir, no avail.
[Max]: In that case, put out a warning!
[Tech 1]: Yes sir!
[Max]: Guys, let's get going.
[Elite 1]: Let's move!
(The elites begin swiftly walking down the halls while Max follows, with a spare radio in hand.)
(Thomas, Highlander and two other techs walk into a smaller room lined with servers and computer screens.)
[Highlander]: Alright, which do we do first? Find Newell or break his alibi?
[Thomas]: He has no alibi. He investigated every Plumber except himself, so it'd make sense that he's the mole.
[Highlander]: But if we find Newell, we can likely find Ben, and learn how he found out.
[Thomas]: That's not the issue at hand though, Highlander. Magister Tennyson's out looking for Ben. We have to find leads in here.
[Highlander]: Alright, let's start with his file.
[Thomas]: I'm searching through the Plumber records right now. While I do that, try cross referencing him with any of the info he found, and connections with his review of the people. We searched everyone but him.
[Highlander]: On it. You two, inspect the servers, see if they've been tampered with.
[Tech 1]: Understood.
(They get to work on the computers.)
[Thomas]: Whoa, whoa... what the hell?
[Highlander]: Let me have a look.
(He leans over to Thomas' screen - Newell's file says "redacted".)
[Highlander]: That's impossible.
[Thomas]: Oh, but get this. When I look through the file history...
(He types something in... there's a password window.)
[Highlander]: Well, this again. DAMMIT!
[Thomas]: Oh, you're right to say that. The encryption doesn't match?
[Highlander]: Say what?
[Thomas]: I traced the source and it gives me info, but its physical location isn't available. It gives me a "connection lost" message every goddamn time. And this is the mole we're talking, so you'd expect him to be conscious about security and privacy, but he lets us trace it.
[Highlander]: Either it's a trap or the encryption's bogus.
[Thomas]: Here. The IP address was masked and all operations on it were done through a secure channel, but it lists the device ID. I'm gonna see if we've seen those numbers before.
[Highlander]: In the evidence folder?
[Thomas]: (Typing) Yup.
(Something pops up.)
[Thomas]: Say what? The info I found was uploaded on here ten minutes ago!
[Highlander]: Open it.
(They open it up. It's the coffee-stained laptop. They both lean back in astonishment.)
[Highlander]: That can't be right.
[Highlander]: Who the hell gave him that laptop?
[Thomas]: Are we sure it was him?
[Highlander]: If it was, he was able to work while completely anonymous, hide records, and disappear from us all because he didn't have good enough security.
[Thomas]: Don't blame the security, man! This is just... how is able to do that?
(The radio statics.)
[Plumber Guard]: Hey, guys! Alert Max! We've got something!
[Thomas]: What is it? Where are you?
[Plumber Guard]: On the floor above you! Cubical offices, Hall, uh 8C. Yeah, 8C.
[Thomas]: (Typing) Surveillance... hall 8C... aw, dammit.
(The surveillance screen for Hall 8C is flickering and blacked out.)
[Thomas]: The cameras are disabled!
(A shot is shown of six guards aiming their guns.)
[Guard 1]: Did you kill the cameras?
[Voice of Diamondhead]: Oh, right, sorry. Just disabled them, no big deal.
(His left hand is seen pressing a button on a small device. The light on the camera pops on.)
(The screen flickers on, showing Diamondhead looking right into the camera.)
(Thomas and Highlander roll their wheel-bound chairs back and gasp.)
[Highlander]: Jesus Christ.
(Thomas rolls his chair forward and holds the intercom button.)
[Thomas]: Max? MAX!
[Max]: (Through radio) You're not calling me "Magister" or "sir", so I'm guessing it's urgent?
[Thomas]: My apologies, sir, and yes, it's urgent! The floor above you!
[Max]: What about it?
[Thomas]: Hall 8C of the offices. Ben's there, and the guards are with him?
[Max]: (Goes wide-eyed) Is everyone okay?
[Thomas]: It would appear so, but Ben seems to have been spying on Newell and stealing records through the laptop he destroyed-
[Max]: That's ridiculous, and we can't confirm any of that.
[Thomas]: Fine, but the more urgent situation-
[Max]: I've got it covered.
[Thomas]: Okay, but sir-
[Max]: That'll do, Thomas. (Hangs up)
[Max]: Hey, listen up! I need everybody on the second floor, cubical hall 8C! Right now!
[Elite 1]: Yes, sir!
(The elites run down the hallways. Max puts away his radio and follows.)
(Diamondhead is standing calmly while the guards keep their guns on him.)
[Diamondhead]: Okay. Why the guns?
[Guard 1]: You seem alright, meaning you escaped on your own. What have you been up to, and where's Newell?
[Diamondhead]: This is the fourth time I'm saying it. I'm waiting for Magister Tennyson.
[Guard 2]: Why can't you talk to us?
[Diamondhead]: It's something only he'll understand.
[Guard 2]: Like hell, he will! (Footsteps are heard getting louder)
[Diamondhead]: Oh, here he comes.
[Guard 1]: Once he's here, you're gonna get talking-
[Max's Voice]: That's enough!
(Twelve Elites rush in, armed. Max follows, walking up the stairs.)
[Max]: Okay, where is he?
(The guards make way. Max stops walking and goes wide-eyed.)
[Max]: Y-You're okay?
[Diamondhead]: Now we can talk. We don't want to waste time, now do we?
[Max]: Ben, what the hell are you saying? Where's Newell?
[Diamondhead]: Good, you're cutting to the chase. Follow me.
[Max]: (Spreads arms to the sides and lowers them slowly) Everyone put their guns down! This is my grandson!
(The elites lower their guns and begin cautiously following Diamondhead, while Max follows.)
[Max]: Guards, stay here, cover this sector. No one in or out.
[Guard 1]: Understood.
[Max]: Ben, why are you Diamondhead?
[Diamondhead]: Ssh, calm down. It'll all be explained.
[Max]: You're acting strange, you get that, right?
[Diamondhead]: I know that my attempts to stay calm come out strangely.
[Max]: What's that supposed to mean?
[Diamondhead]: As I said, it'll all be explained.
(Max sighs in exasperation.)
[Diamondhead]: Alright, everyone, stop!
[Max]: Do as he says.
(The elites stop moving while Max waits - they're at the conference room intersection.)
(Diamondhead begins walking over to the walled-off entrance.)
[Max]: What have you put there?
(Diamondhead, ignoring him, reaches through the entrance and slides the board to the right, grunting and using his strength until the shards get dislodged and fall, making metallic noises.)
[Max]: What just fell?
[Diamondhead]: I'd advise saving your questions until we get inside.
(Diamondhead slides the board away completely and walks in, taking a quick look around. Newell is sitting there, looking at him.)
[Diamondhead]: What are you looking at?
[Newell]: I'm ready to talk.
[Diamondhead]: I told you it'll happen.
[Newell]: *(Quickly exhales)* It's not what you think.
[Diamondhead]: Whatever that's supposed to mean, if I don't like it, I will keep my word.
(Newell takes a deep breath as Diamondhead walks outside and stops, signaling the others to come in. He makes a playful gun stance to ask them to keep their weapons aimed.)
(The elites slowly walk in as Diamondhead gestures for them to come in. They look about.)
(Max comes last and glares at Diamondhead as he's gestured inside.)
(Max steps in, and looks stunned and horrified. Diamondhead casually slides the entrance door closed and moves between two people, sitting down on the desk and resting his arms on it.)
[Diamondhead]: Ah, and yes, if you could spare your opinions on the decorations later, it'd be nice.
(Max gapes widely looking at Newell's pierced hands.)
[Max]: Ben, no...
[Diamondhead]: I feel this was the only way.
[Max]: No... no, you missed every artery on his hands. Those stabs are surgically precise. This wasn't self-defense, was it?
[Diamondhead]: Partly, yes. But we need to step over a few boundaries to get things done-
[Max]: No, this is... we could get you arrested for this!
[Diamondhead]: And you probably will, along with potential extradition from Earth, lifetime incarceration, an execution, for god's sake... the consequences came as part of the plan, something I knew from the minute I thought of it. Either way, if we don't put differences aside during times like these-
[Max]: You don't get to make such calls, Ben. I run this place, and I don't want-
[Diamondhead]: I know you don't. (Stands up) Grandpa, I promise you this will all come down on me by the end, NOT you, and I'm not even expecting a thank you. That being said, this is still to help you, to save you, and to save all of us. Believe me.
[Max]: I'm not ready for that.
[Diamondhead]: Then so be it. If you really do run this place, you should be ready for anything to come. If you can't make that call, then who can?
[Max]: If you're implying it to be you, then you're not doing it right.
[Diamondhead]: That depends on how you look at it. And I brought you here to watch, not argue.
[Max]: Don't think for one second I'll change my mind if what you're saying is true.
[Diamondhead]: As I said, I don't.
(Diamondhead then slowly sits down.)
[Diamondhead]: (Deep breath) Hello, friend.
(Newell stays quiet.)
[Diamondhead]: So, you're not spilling the beans about me? Not begging for help?
[Newell]: No. I'll spend my breath on something more important.
[Diamondhead]: That's very good.
(Diamondhead pulls out the camera device he used earlier and presses it again. It beeps.)
[Diamondhead]: Thomas and Highlander have been assigned to the security room to break your alibi. Anything you say, they can confirm. They're listening.
(Thomas and Highlander look at each other, confused. Thomas presses the intercom button.)
[Thomas]: Yeah, we are. How the hell did you bug this place, how do you know? Hello? Hello!
(They get no response. Thomas repeatedly presses the intercom button, and then leans back, sighing in exasperation.)
[Thomas]: *(Exhale)* What the hell is this?
(The radio makes static noises and beeps once.)
[Diamondhead]: Hello, gentlemen.
[Highlander]: Oh, there you are! You have a lot to answer for, young man-
[Diamondhead]: I don't have much time, so listen carefully. Go to the encrypted file on Newell.
(Thomas leans forward and switches windows to the password window.)
[Thomas]: Yeah, we're there.
[Diamondhead]: Now, the password is "Rushmore".
[Thomas]: Huh. (He types it in.)
(Newell's file's "REDACTED" watermark disappears.)
[Thomas]: Okay, we're in. Now what?
[Diamondhead]: Check your inbox.
[Thomas]: My inbox?
[Diamondhead]: You heard me.
(Thomas types something in, and looks through his company messages. He finds one from an anonymous source. He opens it up.)
[Thomas]: It's a picture file.
[Diamondhead]: Open it, please.
(Thomas views a picture of the notes Ben took on Newell.)
[Thomas]: What am I looking at?
[Diamondhead]: Excuse my handwriting, but those are my notes.
[Thomas]: Some pretty detailed stuff you've got here. Anyways, what do we do next?
[Diamondhead]: Now you simply listen, and search up everything Newell says as he answers me. Confirm it as either the truth, that matches out with both our results, or a lie, and don't say anything else.
[Thomas]: Okay... but are we taking orders from you now?
[Diamondhead]: Yes, you are. This is a period of urgency within the crisis at hand and we must put protocol aside if we want to stay alive.
[Thomas]: (Shrugs) Whatever you say.
(Diamondhead takes his finger off the listening device and interweaves his fingers, resting his elbows against the table, and his chin on his interwoven fingers.)
[Newell]: What do I say?
[Diamondhead]: I told you. Something reasonable, something acceptable. Say it in terms of confirming everything on my notes that you know to be true. I gave you time to read it, and now you must put your comprehension skills to use.
[Newell]: (Deep breath) In that case, let me start with the confirmations.
[Diamondhead]: Go ahead.
(Max crosses his arms, his eyes distracted by Newell's "shackles".
[Newell]: Okay. So... everything here on my file is true and has been confirmed by Plumber authority, and has not been tampered with.
[Diamondhead]: So you know whether it's been tampered with or not?
[Newell]: Do I at least get the right of finishing a sentence?
(Diamondhead closes his mouth and leans back.)
[Newell]: *(Exhale)* Anyways, I know this file not to be tampered with because I have read it inside and out. I keep a copy in my office at Mount Rushmore, and yes, that means I do work at Mount Rushmore.
[Diamondhead]: What does that mean?
[Newell]: Let me say that we are all speaking theoretically here.
[Diamondhead]: Fine, but that's until we start drawing lines, connecting the dots. See, what we're doing here is reconstructing my process of gathering this info, but with an expert's consultation. That of the subject.
[Newell]: That I understand. Now: yes, I have full jurisdiction over the field officers at the Rushmore base - for a matter of fact, I chose that control because I worked my way up those ranks in my mandated training period.
[Diamondhead]: Pause right there. Thomas, search it up.
[Newell]: My supervising officer was Magister Crylet, in case you're curious.
(Thomas, in the security room, types a few things in.)
[Thomas]: Yeah, what he's saying is true. The thirty-five year-old transcript from the archives during Newell's placement interview mentions him wanting to handle fieldwork among other things. Crylet submitted this into the registration notes for the field commanders.
[Diamondhead]: Good. Continue.
[Newell]: Next, we have my work following my graduation from the Academy. I served as a field commander for sometime, wishing not to move up the ranks until my tactical skills were shipshape. I felt I needed to push myself a little more.
(Newell pauses while typing is heard through the listening device.)
[Highlander]: Yup, he's right. He was supposed to move up to Sergeant Major two months before he actually did.
[Diamondhead]: What did you do in that time?
[Newell]: I divided my time between the Plumber military and their technology programs to increase my tactical prowess - people felt I had the necessary traits to command larger battalions, but this is the Plumbers we're talking. I needed to learn to get creative during times of higher priority.
(Thomas, typing as Newell talks, opens something up.)
[Thomas]: All spot-on. We sponsor the Galvan Academy of Science and Technology - the school had a military regiment designed for Plumbers with certain areas to improve on, something of an extracurricular thing.
[Newell]: And yes, that does mean that I have a tactical advantage over some, and that it sharpened my computer skills, given it was a technology school at the end of the day. And hypothetically speaking, I could have assisted in rigging the intercom systems and disabling some areas of security, including the surveillance on Reed.
[Diamondhead]: Plus your experience in the field could have enabled you to rig the ships as well, and your authoritative status would have allowed you to give orders to all those dirty troops.
[Newell]: Again, hypothetically speaking. Next on the list...
[Diamondhead]: Custom-made weaponry. I'm not sure every Plumber weapon looks like the one you carry.
(One of the elites goes over to the floor and picks up Newell's mag-less weapon.)
[Elite 1]: This one, right?
[Diamondhead]: Place it on the table, please.
(Newell stares at it.)
[Newell]: Do you have a copy of the blueprint?
[Thomas]: Here, let me send it...
[Diamondhead]: Send it to Max's badge.
[Max]: Where is my badge anyways?
(Diamondhead pulls it out.)
(It beeps. Diamondhead swipes through its interface and opens up the image from the inbox. The blueprint is displayed. Everyone looks at it.)
[Newell]: It doesn't match my weapon. The stock says model D-226. Mine has the ID G-321. And a few of the configurations are off.
[Diamondhead]: That's miles from a loophole for you. This wasn't the only weapon smuggled through Rushmore, remember? Hypothetically speaking, you could've had all the power required for making these shipments inconspicuous. This tech is Level 13, so its production had to have had some kind of Plumber involvement to authorize it. If no one knew, then it shouldn't have even been on Earth in the first place. Extramarital weapon manufacturing without Plumber knowledge is illegal.
[Newell]: Doesn't mean I authorized it.
[Diamondhead]: I think your defiance is growing because all this seems to begin to point towards whatever you had to say to me. We'll get to that, but we have more things to cover that aren't statistical.
(He presses the intercom.)
[Diamondhead]: Thomas, Highlander, cross-reference Newell and his history with anything we found. You searched everyone within the investigation but the investigator.
[Thomas]: On it.
(Diamondhead takes his finger off and turns to Newell.)
[Diamondhead]: Here's when we get to the part about you. We sum it up, and connect the dots with everything else we've seen.
[Newell]: And what's that?
(Diamondhead pauses for a moment, before grabbing his notes, with greenish-blue bloodstains in the corners. He reads through them.)
[Diamondhead]: You're evasive, check, you take part in the investigation, check, you encourage extreme measures, check...
[Newell]: Where are you getting all of this besides your exemplary psychological knowledge?
(Diamondhead places the notes down in front of Newell.)
(He grabs Max's Plumber's badge, and opens up a little program. He enters in "Rushmore" and unchecks the box to mask the IP address for his secret network. The window opens to a table listing audio files labeled "A-1", "A-2", etc.)
(Max stares, confused.)
(Thomas and Highlander arrange all their records in a large table.)
[Thomas]: That's everything.
[Highlander]: Alright... keywords "Sylax Newell". It's our skeleton key for this.
(Highlander types it in. A long list of highlighted terms shows up.)
[Thomas]: Alright, let's organize it all.
(Thomas clicks a few things and types a few things in while Highlander watches. A new display shows up, shocking them both.)
[Thomas]: At least five counts of his name in everything.
[Diamondhead]: Okay, my friend. You wanna see how everything you do paints a target on your face?
(Diamondhead taps the "A-1" file. An audio spectrum shows up.)
[Newell's Voice]: You are not taking ONE step out of here.
[Diamondhead]: Remember that? You insisted that we stay at the command deck. That way, I was too late to stop that bomb from going off.
[Newell]: I was concerned for you!
[Diamondhead]: Like hell you were. We only met four hours ago, and you and I were never friends to begin with.
[Newell]: Yeah, what else have you cooked up?
[Diamondhead]: You sent out the rescue fleet to go get Gwen and Kevin.
[Newell]: You're about to make me puke. Your cousin and your friend, who have been family to you for over six years, and you're mad at me for wanting to save them?
[Diamondhead]: No, but it also puts the rescue team at risk.
[Newell]: Obviously! Now you're out of your mind.
[Diamondhead]: Not just yet. You encourage extreme measures. Your mission log says you ordered the bombing of a terrorist shelter on Vulpin to draw out the ringleader.
[Newell]: We were outnumbered, there was no other choice.
(Thomas and Highlander run down everything.)
[Highlander]: So Ben is right about everything?
[Thomas]: Why don't we confirm it? Let's search through every other Plumber involved.
[Highlander]: We already did that. "No match" came for everything, remember?
[Thomas]: We didn't look close enough.
[Highlander]: You mean for that encryption!
[Thomas]: Let's see what we can find.
[Diamondhead]: There are at least six counts of such strategies you used to increase your team's offensive. You yourself even admitted you encourage "drastic methods".
[Diamondhead]: So it's true then. You like bombs. Hypothetically you demonstrated that by the three bombs that went off over the course of this mission, all killing numerous Plumbers, a total of over a hundred. You're not very social, and you're also very evasive.
[Diamondhead]: Your file. Page 6. "Experienced interrogator and high tolerance to torture". You can definitely keep a secret, though you let the pain get to you. You're easily offended, and have a lot of nerves available to hit. It's why you try being so honest, to mask such weak spots. You're still a terrible liar nonetheless.
[Newell]: *(Sigh)* Agreed.
[Diamondhead]: And confirmed. Score. You take part in the investigation like all psychotic perpetrators do, your behavior and your attitude comes in all the right levels that equal the severity of every other crime we've seen. It's a practical graph painted on you. Every point of data corresponds with every level of our "dependent variable": how naughty you've been.
(Newell sighs nervously.)
[Diamondhead]: Matched with the statistical data, there's a count of you or your history in everything we've found.
[Newell]: You sure about that?
(Diamondhead presses the intercom.)
[Diamondhead]: Thomas, how we doing?
[Thomas]: We're searching for traces of the encryption within everything we found.
[Thomas]: To confirm something.
[Diamondhead]: Which is?
[Thomas]: Newell's name appears at least five times on every record we found, most of which is relevant.
(Diamondhead looks at Newell, who sighs.)
[Thomas]: But we're not sure how reliable that is.
(Newell's eyes go wide.)
[Diamondhead]: Keep going. I'll call you back.
(Diamondhead, still looking at Newell, raises his finger.)
[Diamondhead]: Putting all that aside, give me one reason why we should believe anything you've told us. I promised you that everything would lead back to you, and it has.
[Newell]: There's still an alternative solution.
[Diamondhead]: Why the hell am I supposed to believe that?
[Newell]: Because what they're doing relates exactly to what I've been waiting to tell you.
[Diamondhead]: *(Exhale)* Fine, go ahead. But remember the consequences if I don't like it.
[Newell]: Of course.
(Thomas and Highlander's silhouettes are seen from the back as they type things in.)
(A full list of IP addresses and Plumber ID's from their searches across Newell's notes shows up.)
(Highlander scrolls through one of the lists.)
[Highlander]: Well I'll be damned, look at this.
(Thomas leans over. One of the ID's is named "----".)
[Thomas]: Hold on a damn minute...
(Thomas searches through one of his lists.)
[Thomas]: There's... another one.
[Highlander]: And another. (Points to another list)
[Thomas]: And another.
(They look at each other.)
[Newell]: What if... what if I was set up...
[Diamondhead]: Oh, please...
[Newell]: No no no, hold on... what if I was set up in such a way...
(Thomas and Highlander rearrange their leads again.)
[Thomas]: You got that encryption number?
[Newell]: In such a way that this whole thing was a matter of commonality?
[Diamondhead]: What does that mean?
(Numbers and letters slowly are entered in.)
[Highlander]: Okay, hit enter.
(Thomas' finger looms above the enter key...)
[Newell]: What if there was no "planting of evidence" needed?
[Diamondhead]: Yeah, what if it was you?
[Newell]: No... or yes, actually... what if someone else was me, in a sense?
(Thomas hits enter. Something flashes across all the record windows.)
[Highlander]: Open it up.
(Thomas opens it up.)
(Thomas and Highlander stare, their mouths gaping wide.)
(The cursor approaches the "enter password" link.)
[Newell]: What if I'm being framed because the real mole was in the same places as I was?
[Diamondhead]: That's ridiculous.
[Newell]: No, it's not! Who here shares my exact history?
[Diamondhead]: No one. You are who you are. Simple as that.
[Newell]: Wait a minute...
(The "enter password" window opens up...)
(A bunch of dots are automatically entered.)
[Thomas]: What the hell?
(The window closes and large text flashes on the screen...)
(Thomas and Highlander put their hands on their heads. Thomas slightly squints while staring at it.)
[Diamondhead]: So far, you're desperate. That's it. I'm calling Thomas to see if you do have any luck left on your hands.
(Newell gasps and begins shuddering.)
[Newell]: OH MY GOD.
(Diamondhead shakes his head in ridicule and presses the intercom.)
[Diamondhead]: Guys, you there?
(The intercom blinks.)
[Highlander]: It's Ben.
(Thomas slams his index finger on the "off" button on the intercom.)
(Highlander looks surprised.)
[Highlander]: Hey, what was that?
[Thomas]: (Deep breath) Sorry, I'm just a little stressed out.
[Highlander]: No, you're overwhelmed.
[Thomas]: *(Exhale)* I guess you could say that...
(Highlander sighs, and then looks up.)
[Highlander]: Okay, what are you waiting for? Open the damn encryption source!
(Thomas looks up and stares at the flashing screen while Highlander stares at him confused.)
(Thomas simply leans back in his chair and blankly stares at the screen.)
[Highlander]: Thomas, you're scaring me! We got into this encryption, so just open the damn thing!
(Thomas, his head still resting on the chair, turns to Highlander with an expression that looks like he's dead. He stares deep into Highlander's eyes...)
[Highlander]: (Softly, shakily, nervously) T-Thomas, open it please...?
(Thomas continues to stare.)
[Thomas]: (Deep breath) I'm sorry...
(Highlander's eyebrows knit. He sits up slowly, confused.)
(Thomas continues to lie there like a dead body, speaking in a very creepy, shaky tone.)
[Thomas]: I can't do that.
(Highlander, still looking at him confused, suddenly widens his eyes hugely and begins to shiver and take shaky, deep breaths. Thomas's eyes follow Highlander and stare at him intently.)
(Highlander's shaky voice cracks and goes high, like he's about to cry. His face says the same.)
(Thomas' dead expression slowly, very slowly turns into a grin, that intensifies and intensifies as his eyes squint to where his smile looks like that of The Joker.)
(Highlander breathes deeply and heavily.)
(Diamondhead keeps slamming on the intercom while Max and the others crowd in around him.)
[Diamondhead]: Pick up, dammit! What's going on?
[Newell]: I know exactly what's going on.
(Diamondhead abruptly looks up at Newell, his mouth and eyes wide open.)
(The shot changes back to Thomas' psychotic grin.)
(His arm raises a gun, whose barrel looks right at the screen.)
(It fires in the same shot and the camera is shrouded in a splatter of blood.)
(Highlander's head drops on the keyboard as blood gushes, like a fountain, out of his head. Its dripping noises can be heard off the table.)
(Thomas stops grinning and closes his mouth, his expression still as intense nonetheless. He stands up slowly, still gazing at Highlander's body.)
(The other two techs come running in.)
[Tech 1]: We couldn't find anything in the servers and...
(They both turn horrified, looking at Thomas.)
[Tech 2]: T-Thomas? W-what just happened?
(Thomas turns to them and tilts his head. He talks in an exceptionally creepy voice.)
[Thomas]: Your bedtime.
(Both the technicians stagger back into the servers and fall down dead.)
(Newell's voice is heard in the background while the scene still stays in the security room.)
[Newell]: It is Thomas! He too has been assisting in the investigation! He has both technological and weapon-based knowledge and has been the most helpful! He's a better liar than all of us...
(Thomas shoots some wiring overhead. The sparks from there move around the ceiling and walls like fuses and meet at the central computer, making it smoke and spark.)
[Diamondhead]: OH MY GOD. You two also recognized each other when you first arrived here.
[Newell]: Yes, he worked for me! In Mount Rushmore! He transferred from the weapons department!
(The smoking computer sets on fire as clanging and sparking is heard around the room. As Highlander's body catches fire and begins to burn, Thomas starts walking out of the security room.)
[Newell]: And he's been stalling with this encryption crap! He probably had access all along! I was the most obvious suspect, allowing him to rain hell on us while you had your sights focused on me!
(Thomas, outside, continues walking down the halls as he pulls out his Plumber's badge. He scrolls through the interface and begins typing in a few numbers.)
[Diamondhead]: And he's not picking up...
[Newell]: Highlander's in danger, that means.
(Max and the others all stare horrified at Ben.)
[Newell]: You got the wrong man, Tennyson. What did I tell you?
(Diamondhead winces, horrified, almost crying, and sniffing.)
[Diamondhead]: I...I-I got t-the wrong man?
(Max looks angrily at him.)
[Diamondhead]: S-so it was T-Thomas?
[Newell]: You, my friend, will be facing very bad consequences.
[Diamondhead]: No... no... NO!! I-I am so sorry...
[Max]: *(Exhale)* Now's not the time for denial. We need to get to the security room right now!
(BEEP BEEP! BEEP BEEP!)
(The intercom continues to ring.)
(Diamondhead shakily presses it.)
[Diamondhead]: H-H-Hello? (His teeth chatter)
[Thomas]: (Creepily) Hello, everyone.
(Everyone's eyes widen. Max looks down at the intercom device.)
[Thomas]: Coming to the security room won't be necessary unless you want more arson mayhem.
(Max's eyes intensify.)
[Max]: I-I'm listening.
[Thomas]: You and I can express our condolences for Chad Highlander in private.
(Diamondhead's mouth quivers and his face turns horrified. Newell continues to angrily glare at him.)
[Max]: Y-you killed him?
[Thomas]: You were right about everything. I played you all very well, but my mission is yet to be complete. If you ever want answers, come alone to the command deck. I'm giving you five minutes, which starts now.
[Max]: And if I don't?
[Thomas]: As he said, heads will roll. If you bring guards, heads will roll. If you bring Ben, heads will roll. You get the idea, don't you?
(Max takes an anxious deep breath.)
[Thomas]: Ben, don't mind your guilt. Newell deserved everything he got.
[Newell]: YOU. I will KILL you for what you-
[Thomas]: Shh, it's all okay. Everything will be alright at the end of the day. The night is still young and what you seek lies a step away. The matter here is to choose how and where you place your foot. Very wisely. I'm giving you exactly what it takes to pass, but it's by my terms.
[Max]: F-fine. Fine. I'll come. As, as long as you don't hurt anyone else.
[Thomas]: You, Max Tennyson, have been chosen to do the task. You are the winner of the game. Runner-ups don't get a prize. You have my word.
[Max]: I don't know that.
[Thomas]: Then here's a chance to know. Clock's ticking!
(The intercom goes out and everyone shivers nervously.)
(Max's face shrinks as his lip quivers, and small tears run down his cheeks. He takes deep, shaky breaths.)
[Max]: B-B-Ben Tennyson... you are under arrest for severe breakage of Plumber code and conduct.
(Diamondhead looks up at him, horrified, and then sulks down.)
[Max]: P-people, take care of it, and g-get Magister Newell immediate medical attention.
[Elite 1]: Yes, sir.
[Max]: W-Whatever fate awaits me, it's b-been an honor.
(The elites salute to Max as one of them keeps his gun on Ben. The other yanks out the shards from Newell's hands and wraps them up with gauze.)
(Max, crying, looks on, before his eyes widen.)
[Max]: (Quietly, to himself) I love you, Ben. I'm sorry. (Whispers) I'm sorry.
(He sniffs, straightens his posture, wipes his tears, and turns around.)
(His expression hardens and he begins walking down the halls.)
(He passes the guards.)
[Guard 1]: Sir?
[Max]: (Deep breath, still walking) If... if Ben tries escaping... shoot him.
(The guards stare dumbfounded as Max walks down the stairs.)
(Thomas is sitting alone in the deserted command deck, in a single chair, in front of the scorched controls. A large TV screen among the other ones, which are damaged, sits on the wall overhead.)
(Thomas looks at his watch.)
(A transparent digital clock animation displays over the screen.)
(Among the ambient music, the scenes switch between Max walking down the halls, and Diamondhead sitting on the desk in the conference room next to armed elites. Newell stands on the side with his bandaged hands.)
(The door opens, and the elites aim their guns. Diamondhead looks back.)
(Gwen and Kevin enter. The elites lower their guns.)
[Gwen]: We heard about what happened.
[Newell]: You're not allowed to talk about it. We're detaining him here until the crisis dies down.
[Diamondhead]: My grandfather is in trouble, and you guys are just sitting here. Schmucks.
[Newell]: You heard Thomas!
[Diamondhead]: Yeah, but what if Thomas kills grandpa, huh? What the hell am I supposed to do about it? Sit here?
[Newell]: It is your fault.
[Diamondhead]: I said was sorry for what I did to you, but it didn't affect what Thomas did.
[Newell]: Sure it did. You led him right into incrimination, but weren't there to stop him from his rage. Now we're all under his mercy thanks to you.
[Kevin]: Dude, not cool! Lay off of him!
[Newell]: Lay off of him. You can go to hell, young man. Do you have any idea what he did to me?
[Diamondhead]: You did attack me.
[Newell]: SHUT UP! If I hear another word, they're shooting you.
[Diamondhead]: Good luck with that.
[Newell]: You two! Leave right now!
[Gwen]: Or what?
[Kevin]: Yeah! We're in plain sight of you, so there's no chance we can spring him or discuss anything! You're right here!
[Newell]: Yes, with authority to tell you to get out.
[Gwen]: We're staying right here.
[Newell]: Should I arrest you as well?
[Kevin]: No, you anyways can't. We did nothing.
[Newell]: Then do you best to avoid creating tension on top of all this.
[Diamondhead]: I guess that's his way of saying he gives up.
(Thomas still watches his stopwatch tick. It hits 8:05.)
(The music stops.)
(The door opens.)
(Thomas stops his clock and places it on the table, and then stands up, gun in hand. Max walks in slowly.)
(He stops, and then closes the door. He pauses for a few seconds, and then locks it.)
(Thomas calmly exhales.)
[Thomas]: You're late.
[Max]: By one second.
[Thomas]: You kept track?
[Max]: I did. Now what are we here for?
[Thomas]: You tell me.
[Max]: To end this. To "cross into the answers" as you mouthed off over the line.
[Thomas]: Ah, yes. That.
[Max]: So... TV screen, gun, what is this?
[Thomas]: Oh, I'm not really sure.
[Max]: Then I'm leaving.
(Thomas aims his gun at him. The ambient music starts again.)
[Thomas]: No you're not.
[Max]: Then give me a reason to stay. What the hell is this all about? Why target the Plumbers?
[Thomas]: Oh, I'm just the messenger, remember? You'll have to ask him.
[Max]: Then where is he?
[Thomas]: I don't know. I don't decide such things, I just follow orders.
[Max]: Let me guess, it was voluntary? You don't look so scared.
[Thomas]: You may have heard that he has different methods of persuasion.
[Max]: For a matter of fact, I didn't hear it.
[Thomas]: Oh, right. That was Ben. He's further than you are in your own quest to "protect him", yet you're the winner. How's that?
[Max]: You tell me. I have to remember that you did come to me in my office asking to help - kinda hard to equate that version of you with this side.
[Thomas]: (Nods) Hm. Interesting. (Pause) See, the most fascinating and fun thing about having these "double-lives" is knowing your other half at any time. It induces this sense of... grandeur, I guess.
[Max]: And there you have it. The delusions your boss plants in his followers to seduce them into his side. You're all pathetic that way.
[Thomas]: Then how is it that in the end, we are the ones to come out as the winners, and bring the great Plumbers to their knees?
[Max]: You've done nothing. There's millions of us, and you've just taken a base with bigger jurisdiction, not bigger support.
[Thomas]: (Chuckles) Funny how I can say the exact same thing. There are millions of us, too. Everything that sprouted from something of an urban legend, a simple, unreliable suicide... it all maps out to something more powerful than you can ever imagine.
[Max]: You shroud yourself in mystery because that's the easy way out. See, it's a hobby. Your boss has a sense of art, and theater, so creating these "games" and all these shadowy traits is all just a thin act that he's put on to hide his cowardice under. If he really wanted to show us his power, he'd be the one I'm talking to right now, not "just a messenger".
[Thomas]: Touching... except you have no idea what you're talking about.
[Max]: That's what they all say, isn't it?
[Thomas]: Yes, exactly, my friend! We are all of them! We span the full world!
[Max]: Well, it all just comes down to advertising at the moment. You've given us zero closure on anything.
[Thomas]: That's because I'm waiting.
[Max]: So you're stalling?
[Thomas]: Let me tell you what I'm doing...
(Thomas' voice is heard in the background while Ben, Newell and the others are seen - the sound on their end is quietened down, to where you can here faint talking when there is dialogue, but not much else.)
(The ambient music slowly intensifies.)
(Diamondhead clutches his head and looks around, scared.)
[Thomas]: I'm simply giving them exactly what got us two over here.
(Gwen and Kevin scratch their heads while Newell sighs.)
[Thomas]: See, they left me out of their reach and sat there in shock while inadvertently flying me, the bird, right into its cage, which they then ended up breaking open and letting a much angrier bird run free.
(Diamondhead stands up, but the elites aim their guns and have him sit down.)
[Thomas]: And because of that, I'm running that same show with them.
(Diamondhead begins yelling at Newell: "I can't take this anymore. We have to help them!" "NO!" and other faint screaming is heard while Diamondhead breathes heavily.)
[Thomas]: You're right, in a way - it is a little play I'm enacting right now, but it's utilized in a more effective fashion, one less "delusional"...
(Diamondhead gets up and rolls his shoulders, breathing anxiously. Gwen and Kevin try to control him, but he turns to Newell angrily.)
[Newell]: You can't leave!
[Diamondhead]: I've already made one mistake that put us all in danger, and I'm not doing it again!
[Thomas]: Their rage will lead them to their answers, but as I said, runner-ups don't get a prize.
[Max]: You're going to force them to force your hand?
[Thomas]: You can call it unfair, but it's again just part of the game. Just a way to reach the finish line.
[Max]: But this was a trap to begin with! Aren't I gonna die either way?
(Diamondhead continues standing and staring Newell down.)
[Newell]: Everything you've done here is reckless! You're forcing everyone's hands to do things that they regret, and then trying to blame them for it!
[Diamondhead]: But don't you see it? That's his plan, whoever this hacker is! He wants to drive us all over the edge!
[Newell]: Exactly! So if we let you escape, you'll essentially be following through on his plan and putting us into danger so grave there's no way out! Don't you see it? The bigger picture?
[Diamondhead]: But I'll be prepared!
[Newell]: That's your problem! Overconfidence!
[Diamondhead]: People look at it that way within the boundaries and limitations set here! No one thinks outside the box! You people are the ones trapping yourselves in your own cage!
[Newell]: And you think what you're doing is freeing us from it? By attacking and torturing the wrong man, and antagonizing the whole agency because you feel that only what you do is right? You're not a Plumber! Not like us! We know what to do!
[Diamondhead]: Then you'll know not to shoot the Magister's grandson if you really know your Magister.
(At that second, Diamondhead grabs the gun of the elite holding him captive and turns around, jabbing it into his face and punching his abdomen and then slamming his face, knocking him into another elite.)
(Newell panics and gets back as Diamondhead shoves another elite into the wall, grabs the one blocking the door, and slams his head into the shelf.)
(He fires shards at the guns of two of the elites and begins to run.)
[Newell]: GO AFTER HIM!
[Gwen]: BEN! Come back!
[Diamondhead's Voice]: No, you come with me if you want to see Grandpa live!
[Gwen]: We can't do that!
[Newell]: No, you really can't.
(Gwen and Kevin look around skeptically...)
(BOOM! Kevin slams his fist into the table and throws a chunk at the unarmed elites, before sprinting out. Gwen, panicking, takes deep breaths and then shields herself from the elites, jumping over an unconscious one.)
(Diamondhead, meanwhile, reaches the end of the hall, where the guards are.)
[Diamondhead]: You have to let me through. Magister Tennyson is in danger!
[Guard 1]: You're not going anywhere. We have orders.
[Diamondhead]: What the hell are you think- *(Sigh)* oh, screw it.
(In one move, he fires six shards that break the barrels of all the guards' guns, and begins running. One of them tries to tackle him, but he punches him aside and runs down the stairs.)
(Gwen and Kevin come running, but the guards point their guns at them.)
(One of them backfires.)
(Gwen and Kevin, who have stopped, shrug and keep running.)
[Thomas]: I sense them coming...
[Max]: Come on, you can't do this!
[Thomas]: You're gonna die anyways. This is all for the show.
[Max]: You're making them break your own rules!
[Thomas]: Hey, who's saying we're always honest? Moles are liars!
[Max]: You disgust me.
[Thomas]: Tell 'em to stop, I'm not gonna stop you.
(Max, confused for a second, pulls out his spare radio.)
(Gwen and Kevin catch up with Diamondhead.)
(Max's Plumber's badge statics.)
[Max]: GUYS! Stop!
[Diamondhead]: Are you crazy? We can't! We're right there!
(They approach a window overlooking the command deck from the upper floor.)
(Thomas looks up while still aiming his gun.)
[Thomas]: There they are, I see them coming.
[Max]: STOP, GODDAMMIT!
[Thomas]: I told you it was in vain.
[Max]: GUYS, PLEASE!
[Thomas]: Did you not here what I have been saying? You've already lost!
(Diamondhead and the other reach the corner and look through the window...)
[Diamondhead]: Oh my god...
(He runs over to the window and begins slamming on it.)
(Thomas looks up again, and grins.)
[Thomas]: They don't stand a chance.
[Max]: Why are you doing this? GUYS!
(Diamondhead punches the badge out.)
(Max's radio flickers.)
[Thomas]: Oh, NOW you're screwed.
[Max]: What the hell are you waiting for then? Get on with it!
(Thomas stares at him, and then suddenly tilts his head and smiles.)
(In slow-motion, a shot hits Max in the stomach - his shirt is slowly seen tearing open and the bullet passing under his arm and out the other side... blood spurts everywhere and Max falls.)
(Diamondhead, still in slow-motion, stops hitting the window and gets back...)
(In real-time, he positions his arms back and charges at the window.)
(It cracks. He slams his shoulder against it against it again, and it cracks again...)
(Gwen and Kevin get back as Diamondhead charges at the window at full speed.)
(Diamondhead goes flying through and window...)
(He lands a massive swing on Thomas' face right as he lands, sending the mole tumbling backwards multiple times and sliding along the floor of the command deck.)
[Gwen and Kevin]: BEN!
(Diamondhead watches Thomas go flying back, before running over to a collapsed Max.)
(He crouches down next to his grandfather, whose orange flowers on his Hawaiian shirt have turned red to match the red of it. Blood trickles from his mouth and around his stained lips.)
[Diamondhead]: No, no, NO!
(He cradles Max in his arms as the old man winces and slides slightly upright.)
[Diamondhead]: Grandpa, no, no... are you okay?
(Thomas is getting up. Diamondhead looks behind him, and back at Max.)
[Max]: *(Strained)* I-I'm f-fine, son. I'm fine.
[Diamondhead]: No, you're not.
(He looks back at Thomas. His face filled with rage, he gently lays Max down and gets up.)
(Gwen and Kevin jump down from above and run over to Max.)
[Gwen]: BEN! Grandpa!
(Hearing loudness outside, Diamondhead ignores them all and begins approaching Thomas, who is grinning evilly with bloodstained lips.)
(Diamondhead rushes Thomas and lands two brutal jabs to the man's face, sending blood splashing. He knees his abdomen and knocks him to the ground, and it about to stomp him...)
(The doors open. An army of elites rushes in with Newell, and they surround the perimeter of the violence with guns aimed. Newell storms in.)
[Newell]: NOBODY MOVE!
(Diamondhead turns to Newell...)
(Two of the elites fire at him, and hit the Ultimatrix symbol. Diamondhead staggers to the ground, breathing heavily as his inner veins light up.)
(Thomas is getting up, still smiling and staring intently.)
(Ben slowly reverts back as Newell walks over them all and picks up Max.)
[Newell]: Get him medical attention right now!
[Elite 1]: On it.
(Two elites run over to Max, but the man picks himself up. The other two hold his shoulders.)
[Max]: I'm fine. Let me stay here.
[Elite 2]: Sir, you're unsafe here. We have to move you to-
[Max]: You're a terrible shot, Thomas. Especially for an ex-weapons guy. You grazed me, that's all.
(Thomas, still staring at him, abruptly gets up and aims his gun. Everyone else points their guns at him.)
[Thomas]: We're all unsafe here.
(The elites try to take Max out, but the door is locked.)
[Elite 1]: What the hell?
[Max]: Let go of me! That's an order!
(The elites reluctantly let go of Max, while Ben's crystalline skin reverts back to human. He lies on the ground, shaking.)
(Thomas points his gun to him.)
[Thomas]: Ben, it seems you too are one of tonight's stars. Get up.
(Ben groggily opens his eyes, and staggers back, sitting up.)
[Thomas]: I SAID GET UP!
(Ben scrambles to his feet. He shakes his head quickly and rubs the dust off his clothes, flexing and bouncing his shoulders into a casual position. He continues glaring at Thomas.)
[Gwen]: Give up right now, Thomas! You're outnumbered!
[Thomas]: Oh, I'm aware of that, sweetheart, don't you worry.
[Kevin]: Gwen, get back here.
(An overhead shot shows a gigantic black circle of black-clad elites all aiming their guns at Thomas, while Ben, Gwen, Kevin and Newell all stand within the perimeter. Max is leaning against the wall while elites bring bandages.)
[Thomas]: The time has come. We have reached a pivotal point. This grand ring of fire is exactly what we were expecting.
[Max]: Bet you're not expecting getting shot any minute.
[Thomas]: Oh, I'm actually waiting for that. But before I pass, I bring a message.
[Ben]: Go to hell.
[Thomas]: (Makes a childish expression) You don't mean that, little boy. Neither do all of you! (His voice echoes) You're all just as curious as Ben, and Max, and even ME! Even I don't have the big picture painted in my head, but I have been tasked with showing you what I do have.
[Ben]: I doubt it.
[Thomas]: How so? Max already knows how formidable we can be, and as do you! You're all in denial, of course, because we've succeeded.
[Ben]: Then what more's left to do?
(Thomas' voice turns from enthusiastic to very grim and creepy and low.)
[Thomas]: That's a very good question.
(Ben gets a little startled at this change of tone. Everyone stares intently.)
[Thomas]: What's next... is my final mission. I have been following Sylax Newell for a much bigger reason - looking back, it didn't take long to find out the whole scheme, but as he said, it's all part of the game.
[Ben]: Who is "he" anyways? What's his name? How would he present himself?
(Thomas' eyes widen and he smiles, very fascinated and pleased.)
(His expression turns serious and he looks around at the people he's at the mercy of, looking at each and every one of them and then shifting his gaze back to three people: Ben, Max and Newell.)
(He takes a slow, deep breath, and begins to shudder, continuing to breath heavily. He speaks very softly and very shakily.)
[Thomas]: H..H-he... whose eyes... span the sky... w-will be watching... as you die... a-all your s-sins... all your lies... will w-wash away, at your pitiful c-cries.
(He continues to shudder violently and take deep breaths as everyone watches, dumbfounded. He recites the following almost like he's reading off a script, remembering his lines. He's scared.)
[Thomas]: I...I-I know t-that I will die... b-but m-my final act w-will be... as a patriot... (Pause 2 seconds) M-my will is s-secured i-in ironclad defense... armor f-forged in h-his name. I d-die in his name, as does his m-mark.
(Everyone watches anxiously. Thomas' eyes slightly shift to Newell.)
[Thomas]: I-I... his patriot... and t-thee... his mark... we d-die in his name.
(The elites aim their guns closer.)
[Thomas]: W-we die in the name... of the Devil Watcher.
(Everyone watches, shocked, as Thomas shakes for a moment...)
(A bullet goes straight through Newell's heart...)
(BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!)
(Thomas' body twitches and bursts with blood as the elites open fire and knock him to the ground, dead.)
(Newell, on the ground, suddenly catches fire as his arms melt and his mouth froths. Ben and Max get down next to him.)
[Max]: NEWELL! NEWELL!!!
[Ben]: D-don't touch him! It's Demon's Blood!
[Max]: What the hell is that?
(Newell's smoking and smoldering body twitches on the ground as blood and poison seep out of his mouth. He shivers and attempts to mouth something.)
[Newell]: M-M...M-M-My... H-H- *(Cough)* *(Gasp)* H-H...Home...
(Ben mouths "your home" as the action music reaches its climax and Newell's body fully catches fire, before dying down and slowly scorching.)
(Some of his armor breaks and falls off.)
(Ben looks at the TV screen, and back at Newell - the Magister's mouth and eyes finally close and get shrouded in ash as the music turns ambient.)
(His body stops twitching.)
(A sigh of relief resonates across the room. Everyone looks up... the TV screen is flickering... with a symbol of a long, red, three-pronged trident flashing on a white background covered in static.)
(The elites aim their guns at the TV as everyone watches, utterly speechless.)
(The trident symbol stops flickering and the screen cuts to black...)
(Two glowing red eyes open on the screen. They continue blinking.)
[Deep, Distorted, Modified Voice]: Well... that was fun.
(Everyone gasps, some stagger back. Ben continues to stand where he is, staring down the screen.)
[Ben]: Hi, Devil Watcher.
(The screen continues blinking.)
[Devil Watcher]: So glad you finally know my name.
(Ben continues staring.)
[Ben]: That's all we've gotten out of this, huh? Something to call you? That's nowhere near closure.
[Devil Watcher]: That's what you think. You need to be patient.
[Ben]: The only way to stay composed in this kind of situation is to be a psychopath like you.
[Devil Watcher]: Oh, really? Imagine the life we could lead that way...
(Ben stares, confused.)
[Devil Watcher]: (Chuckles) I'm joking, I'm joking.
[Ben]: What is it you're really here for?
[Devil Watcher]: Did I distract you so much as to make you forget that every game contains a prize?
[Ben]: You're dead friend said that you've already won.
[Devil Watcher]: Oh, don't mind him, that's a given.
[Devil Watcher]: Anyways... what do you think?
[Ben]: About what? You want us to applaud you for all this? Sure, sure. (Sarcastically claps hands) Grand, menacing, tense. It was all good fun. Now where's the prize?
[Devil Watcher]: See how I just turned you into a bunch of little kids? Not appreciating what has been created? Not savoring the victory moment? Just rushing in for the prize?
[Ben]: All I can say is that it's a nice poem you have there.
[Devil Watcher]: Thank you. Oh, just, uh, remember that none of it's really a metaphor.
[Ben]: (Closes eyes and nods) Of course.
[Devil Watcher]: You might want to even thank me. With Newell out of the way, we have so many new opportunities for freedom...
[Ben]: My consequences can't go away. I got him killed.
(Max look on solemnly.)
[Devil Watcher]: Did you? Notice how everything that happened, start to finish, was under my control. Thomas' only role really was to open a few doors, in order for my fire to rage through your humble home.
[Ben]: Okay, that too. We've learned our lesson.
[Devil Watcher]: Good... you now know that you're utterly helpless...
(Ben gulps and keeps nodding helplessly.)
[Devil Watcher]: Exposed...
[Devil Watcher]: A molecule against the bigger picture. And don't say I didn't warn you. Here's me investing in every shark in the tank.
(Ben takes a deep breath and stares at the screen, angry, before slightly smirking.)
[Devil Watcher]: Yeah, there we go. You can't help but appreciate that you finally have a good sparring opponent. See, there's the Ben I love. I don't need to sway that Ben to my side, I just have to embrace him, watch him dance to all my new and upbeat tunes.
[Ben]: I know. So do you. We both know that I'm up for it, but you want to keep my desire burning despite who you drag into it. And because I endured so much, the prize is meant for me. I'm the winner. That prize is getting everyone else out of the way so I can indulge in my own adventures. Yet I must stay cautious.
(The Devil Watcher laughs gleefully.)
[Devil Watcher]: (Happily) I'm so proud of you, young man. There's the big picture, you've finally grasped it. Newell was wrong all along, wasn't he? (Laughs)
(Ben continues to burst out laughing with the Watcher while everyone looks at him, shocked. Ben catches his breath while smiling like Yao Ming, before turning utterly serious.)
[Ben]: Ha. Ha. Ha. Hysterical. We had a good one. Now where is it?
[Devil Watcher]: (Laughter dies down) Oh, (finishes chuckling) oh... that. Right, right.
(Everyone continues watching intently.)
[Devil Watcher]: He who's eyes span the sky, watching you as you die, all your sins, all your lies, will wash away at your pitiful cries. Yes, you have already lost, yes, I will win over the world soon, yes, life is all a fun game, and yes, I will drag you into that game no matter what. But of course, I want to make it fun for you all.
(Max and Ben breathe deeply.)
[Devil Watcher]: I want you to die laughing, that's what I want to do, and oh, I will have it, trust me. And right now, here's you seeing my punchline.
[Devil Watcher]: You ready?
[Devil Watcher]: Good.
(The eyes go away, and the black screen suddenly displays the numbers again.)
[Devil Watcher]: Watch closely.
(The images of Brett Reginalds, Harlan Sanders and Thomas Bridges flash above their respective numbers.)
[Ben]: So that was the third number... a fake one used by Thomas and embedded into the records...
(Suddenly, the images of the three Plumbers is filled with numbers (a little bit like this poster of the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where the image is comprised of colored code))
(There's a gap in the numbers for each picture. The coordinates fit right in.)
(The three images are then surrounded by more numbers, which then begin to scramble and recolor like crazy - the numbers stop changing and the separate lines move left, right, up and down ans reconfigure into a new image...)
(It's a picture of a posh-looking living room, dimly lit by yellow lights against an otherwise purple lighting. Not much of the room is visible, but just an angled shot of the window, gazing at a city's skyline at night.)
(The numbers disappear and the solid image centers on the screen. Everyone watches, confused.)
[Devil Watcher]: There.
[Ben]: So... uh, nice house.
[Devil Watcher]: What did I tell you?
[Ben]: Everything but what we're gonna ask.
[Devil Watcher]: Oh, you're wrong. I believe your question is "what are we looking at". Well, my friend, it's a jigsaw puzzle, of sorts. A clue, obviously, but not the only one.
[Ben]: I see.
[Devil Watcher]: Then you see that every step you've taken within this building is a clue. Every old step can also be a new step forward in this game. But remember this.
(The words "more to come" slide across the screen.)
(Max and Ben cross their arms, interested.)
[Ben]: Huh. More of what to come?
[Devil Watcher]: Fun, my friend. Fun.
(The eyes stay on the screen.)
(After a moment, Max steps up.)
[Max]: So what now, then?
(The Watcher pauses for a moment, and then speaks.)
[Devil Watcher]: Interesting question. One that was just answered.
[Max]: I mean what about us?
[Devil Watcher]: You, Max, personally, still have some steps to go. As for the rest of you, it's the end of the line, people. No more fun with me here. You're all done.
[Max]: The Plumbers are still around.
[Devil Watcher]: That's true, of course. But without too many leads. Ben has to still face the consequences, it's still your call, isn't it?
[Max]: That's right.
[Devil Watcher]: Meaning you idealistic grumps probably won't consult your prisoner for his further knowledge. You'll be out of leads.
[Max]: We still have our records.
(The Watcher bellows out an insincere but ridiculing, scornful, loud booming laugh.)
(On the screen, cameras show Max's office on fire, with his computer and his folders.)
(Max lets out a sigh.)
[Devil Watcher]: Don't be surprised when you smell something burning. It's the drawing board that you're still at right now.
[Max]: *(Sigh)* Damn you...
[Devil Watcher]: Thank you. As for you, Ben, I look forward to hearing from you soon. It's nice to finally have a chat.
[Ben]: I can say the same.
[Devil Watcher]: Oh, and Max, one more thing: fate doesn't await you just yet. This was the fate of the Plumbers, but you... I differentiate you from them. I'm looking to make the spark that lights you on fire a little more... grand.
[Max]: (Puts hands on hips) I look forward to it.
[Devil Watcher]: Attaboy! There's the spirit! The Tennysons are so much fun to play with. Family o' clowns.
[Ben]: Okay, get to your point.
[Devil Watcher]: I've made it clear numerous times. You'll just have to analyze it from other angles, because that's me, you know? And if you're asking what's next, you can continue with your journey when you please.
(Ben and Max sigh. Ben looks up.)
[Ben]: Well... *(exhale)* I don't know.
[Devil Watcher]: My point exactly. Your goal here is to ultimately know.
[Ben]: No, not that way... what I'm getting here is, let's see... based on the scenarios from the past, you seem to like to have enemies and adversaries, but the ones you keep at arms' length are numbered. You're careful not to make too many because too many obstacles can mean potential recklessness. You're smooth, straightforward with things. While others look at your visions as delusions, you dismiss them as natural misunderstanding of a bigger picture, one you're in the position of power to justify. That too can be looked at as a delusion, but here's where the narcissism kicks in. You're good at proving people wrong and it's fueled opportunism in you, though not enough to sacrifice precision and control. All this seems stable, but given that it's a game of murder, and loss, and greed, and ignorance, and danger... I'd say you still are a deranged, twisted, narcissistic psychopath with no regard for anyone's life. You're a danger to anyone who comes near you and those who you induce trust in are just as worse as you. But you're cool about that, which just further proves my point...
(He continues to stare angrily.)
[Ben]: I'd be a delusional lunatic to take on anything you have to offer. Obviously I can't trust you, we both know that. This game is my death wish, simple as that.
(Ben takes deep, shaky breaths while continuing to glare at the screen...)
(...before cracking a smirk.)
(The music stops at an echoing bass note.)
[Ben]: But when do we start?
Credits music: Maroon 5 - Animals
- Brainstorm (first appearance)
- The episode makes several references to Paper's Young Plumbers- "Paper Squad" is named after him, and many of its members are named after characters in the series: Brian Reed, Nick Waterman, and Williams. The idea of there being a mole within the agency was conceived from reading synopses to some of the YP episodes, including "Comprehension".
- This episode marks when the team confirms the existence of the Devil Watcher.
- This is the first episode to make use of background soundtrack for certain scenes.
- This is the first episode to utilize a "previously on" opening segment.
- This is the first episode not to feature Ben's house or parents.
- This is the first time a recurring character (Thomas) dies.
- This episode is the first to alter the profession of a canon character - Eunice currently volunteers as a doctor for the Plumbers.
- The episode uses timestamps following Earth's eastern time, which is also Bellwood's current time.
- This is the longest page on the wiki.