|Season 1, Episode 8|
Darkness, My Old Friend
Stairway to Heaven
[Open to the inside of a large mall. The curved ceiling is made of a tinted glass, and a small creek flows through the center of the building. The smell of cheap pizza and orange chicken wafts from the cafeteria area as customers bustle from store to store at high speeds. During the commotion, two innocuous people bump into each other.]
[Customer 1]: “Hey, watch where you’re going!”
[Customer 2]: “You’re the one who bumped into-”
The second person to speak suddenly cut himself off, staring off into the distance as his eyes glazed over.
[Customer 1]: “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The man began shaking, his irises taking on a slight red hue. He began lurching towards the person he bumped into, reaching towards his throat with a quaking hand.
[Customer 1]: (Backing away) “Back off, you crazy bastard!”
The approaching man tried to stutter something out, but it was too garbled to understand. A moment later, his whole body convulsed, and he fell over, dead before he even hit the ground.
[Customer]: “What the hell?! Someone call 911!”
The crowd around him began to panic, several people pulling out their phones only to find that they couldn’t get a signal. More people were trying to exit the building, but found that all the doors had been locked from the outside. People were starting to get nervous, as an out-of-place sense of claustrophobia filled the large building. As panic filled the area, nobody seemed to notice that the security cameras had all fixated on the center of the mall.
[Cut to the main area of Plumber Base UT1. Alpha is speaking with Theo and Nova.]
[Alpha]: “Our cameras have detected suspicious activity inside the Far Creek Mall.”
[Theo]: “They’re just having their Flash Sale. Half of everyone in the city shows up to the stupid thing, so suspicious activity is going to be a given.”
[Alpha]: “If this were average ‘suspicious activity’, you know I wouldn’t have called you in. Nobody has been in or out of said mall in over an hour, and there haven’t been any radio, phone, or electric signals from the area for the same amount of time, indicating the use of signal jammers."
[Theo]: “And you want us to check it out? This sounds like an issue for the police.”
[Alpha]: “It certainly would be, if it weren’t for the fact that this person was seeing entering the building shortly before this all happened.”
Alpha pulled up the file for a woman with spiky red hair on the monitor, gesturing to the passage describing her abilities.
[Alpha]: “According to Xr. Nullamor’s records, this woman, named Amanda Deen, was fused with the DNA of an Emotispecter, giving her control over practically any organism with a nervous system. She has no criminal record, but her paper trail shows she has been unable to find work due to a particular hatred for people.”
[Nova]: “Yeah, most places generally consider that an issue.”
[Alpha]: “In any case, you two need to move out as soon as possible. Assuming this is an attack, you’ll need to split up once you get to the mall, as there are two priorities we’ll need to focus on. Nova, you’ll stay on the outside and try to get everyone safely out of the building. Theodore, you’re going to infiltrate the building using your Superiris form and find Deen.”
[Theo]: “Why Over The Rainbow?”
[Alpha]: “Because it’s your only transformation without a proper nervous system, making it immune to neural attacks.”
[Theo]: “Point taken.”
[Alpha]: “Head out as soon as possible. This may be time-sensitive.”
Theo nodded, after which he and Nova walked to the elevator to the surface, leaving the base.
[Cut to outside the mall from before, where Theo and Nova have just arrived and are walking to the front doors. As they get to the doors, they notice that the glass of the doors has been covered with some sort of shimmering substance, preventing them from looking inside.]
[Nova]: “That’s probably not supposed to be there.”
Theo simply nodded in response and walked off to look for another entrance. Nova turned to talk to him, but paused when she saw that he had left. After a moment, she sighed and summoned a jackhammer construct on her right arm.
[Nova]: “I guess I’ll just do what Alpha told me, then.”
After testing to make sure that the doors wouldn’t open, she activated the jackhammer construct and swung it towards them.
Theo had been walking around the outside of the building for a few minutes before spotting a large vent on the roof. After examining the brick wall of the building for a few moments, he began climbing up the side of it, using the grooves between bricks as handholds to grip onto. Once he reached the roof, he pulled up the StarTrix and transformed into Over The Rainbow, slithering through the slits in the vent and entering the building.
After a few minutes of slithering through the ventilation system, he managed to find a large vent to exit through, dropping him into the main hall of the building. As he reformed his humanoid shape, he noticed the crowd of people trapped in the building staring at him.
[Over The Rainbow]: “Don’t worry, people, I’m here to help. What’s been going on?”
[Nearby Customer 1]: “People have been convulsing and falling over dead, and we can’t exit the building!”
[Over The Rainbow]: “What do you mean you can’t exit the building?”
[Nearby Customer 2]: “The doors won’t open no matter what! We’ve tried breaking them, but that didn’t work!”
[Over The Rainbow]: “Hm. Let me try this myself.”
Over The Rainbow walked up to the front doors, noticing that the shimmering substance on them had apparently disappeared. He could see Nova trying to break through the doors on the other side, but she didn’t seem to notice him. After a moment, he noticed that her jackhammer construct was hovering about an inch away from the actual door.
[Over The Rainbow]: “...Okay, I think I know what’s going on here.”
As soon as he finished speaking, he pushed on one of the doors, effortlessly opening it. The crowd inside the mall stared at him in confusion while Nova stopped the jackhammer, dissipating the construct.
[Nearby Customer 3]: “How the hell did you do that?!”
[Over The Rainbow]: “The doors are working fine. We believe that this mall may be under attack by a criminal with neural manipulation abilities, and if this is the case, it’s likely that they’ve been messing with your senses. You just thought that the doors couldn’t open, or that you were actually trying to break them.”
[Nearby Customer 4]: “And the people that have been dying?”
[Over The Rainbow]: “That could actually be real, unfortunately. Can you point out where one of these ‘bodies’ are?”
[Nearby Customer 4]: (Pointing to the floor on Over The Rainbow’s left) “There’s one right next to you!”
Over The Rainbow looked to where the man was pointing, only to find empty floor space.
[Over The Rainbow]: “Okay, definitely hallucinations.”
Over The Rainbow grabbed a nearby potted plant and shoved it in front the open door, keeping it from closing.
[Over The Rainbow]: “Everybody out. I’m going to see if I can track down the source of all this.”
Without waiting for a response, he melted down and slithered through the crowd towards the back of the mall, leaving them standing there, confused.
[Nova]: “Well, what are you waiting for, people? Get out here!”
After a few minutes going through the mall, Over The Rainbow paused and reformed his humanoid shape to think.
[Over The Rainbow]: “Okay, think. If I were attacking a public area and needed to remain unseen, where would I go?”
After a few moments, an idea suddenly sparked in his head, prompting him to look upwards, finding a security camera mounted on the wall above him.
[Over The Rainbow]: “That might work. But first...”
He turned to survey the area around him, quickly analyzing his surroundings and any important objects in the area.
[Over The Rainbow]: “I think I have some work to do.”
[Cut to the inside of a small security office. The security guard has been knocked out and put against the wall, and a woman with spiked red hair is messing with the security camera controls.]
[Amanda Deen]: “Dammit! This wasn’t supposed to happen!”
There was a sudden rattling in the vents, quickly followed by Over The Rainbow slithering through the slits of the room’s vent and reforming into his humanoid shape. Deen whirled around with an annoyed look on her face.
[Deen]: “Oh, and now I’ve gotta deal with this?! What are you, anyways?! How did you find me?!”
[Over The Rainbow]: “Yes, an alien, and carefully, in that order. Any other questions before I arrest you for several charges?”
[Deen]: “Why aren’t you affected by my powers?! What was the point in paying for this crap if it doesn’t even work right?!”
[Over The Rainbow]: “I don’t really have what you’d call a ‘nervous system’. Your powers are working fine, they just don’t work against me.”
[Deen]: “Is that right? Well, I ain’t going to jail either way!”
[Over The Rainbow]: “And how do you figure that?”
[Deen]: “You’re not the only one around here who can slip through vents!”
Before Over The Rainbow could react, Deen suddenly dispersed her body into a swarm of small particles that flew into the ventilation system.
[Over The Rainbow]: (Turns towards the vent) “Let’s hope this works.”
[Cut back to the main space of the mall. The crowd has evacuated, leaving the place empty for the moment. Deen exits through one of the vents in the ceiling and reforms her body, landing on the floor.]
[Deen]: “Can’t a woman terrorize the populace in peace anymore? I swear, you just try to have a little fun nowadays, and suddenly the cops are after you.”
Deen began walking towards the exit. After a few moments, she suddenly tripped over something on the floor.
[Deen]: “What the-” (Looks down to see a coat lying on the ground) “Who just leaves their coat in the middle of the floor?!”
Before she could continue walking, she heard a suspicious shuffling behind her, turning to find a wall of fashionable coats descending upon her like a tidal wave.
[Deen]: “What the hell?!”
She quickly dodged the coats by moving off to the side, where she was suddenly tackled by a potted plant, sending her stumbling backwards into a chair that had suddenly moved behind her. The chair took off running down the hallways of the building at high speeds, with Deen frozen in place out of sheer confusion.
After a few moments, she shook herself back to attention and dispersed her body, phasing out of the chair and landing on her feet in the cafeteria area.
[Deen]: “What the hell?!”
As soon as she finished speaking, she was suddenly pelted with a machine gun-like barrage of hot dogs from one of the nearby restaurants. As she attempted to shield herself from the storm of sausage, a trash can lunged at her, grabbing hold of her arm. She quickly shook it off and ran out of the cafeteria, turning the corner to find an army of stuffed bears marching at her wielding various kitchen utensils.
[Deen]: “WHAT THE HELL?!”
She dispersed her body and flew past the army of teddy bears, deciding against reforming at the moment. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that a large fan suddenly sprung out of its hiding spot inside an appliance store and turned itself on, creating a vortex of wind that shoved her into a nearby container shop. As she was about to reform, a large plastic box toppled over on top of her dispersed form and closed itself, trapping her inside. She reformed her body and began angrily smashing the inside of the container to no avail.
[Deen]: “Did this entire mall suddenly get possessed by vengeful spirits or something?!”
[???]: “Not quite.”
Deen turned her head to see an odd-looking purple alien hovering into the container store.
[Viva La Vida]: “My current species, the Darae Vitai, have the ability to turn inanimate objects into drones for them to control. If the drones have been provided commands, they are able to operate independently of the user. Good guess with the ‘vengeful spirits’ thing, though.”
[Deen]: “...That’s just weird.”
[Viva La Vida]: “But effective.”
[Cut to the inside of Plumber Base UT1. Theo and Nova are reporting to Alpha.]
[Alpha]: “Clever usage of your Darae Vitai transformation, though I question the necessity of things such as the hot dogs and teddy bears.”
[Theo]: “Those were mostly for my own amusement.”
[Nova]: “That is pretty funny.”
[Alpha]: “As long as it works, I suppose. My thanks for finding a quick resolution to the situation. You two are free to go.”
Theo nodded and headed towards the elevator, taking it up to the surface alone. Nova hung back for a few moments, which caught Alpha’s attention.
[Alpha]: “I take it he’s still not speaking to you.”
[Nova]: “I don’t think he’s speaking to anyone he knows. His parents seem worried about it.”
[Alpha]: “Rightly so. From what I understand, Isaac had similar temperamental issues as a teenager, so he should know how quickly this can go downhill.”
[Nova]: “Really? Mr. Logical? I never really imagined him of all people as the angsty type.”
[Alpha]: “He’s done his best to put it behind him.”
[Nova]: “Well, okay, how did he do that?”
[Alpha]: “Hard work and constant prodding by his friends. Mostly his assistant, apparently.”
[Nova]: “Aquadilus? I guess that makes sense.”
Nova put her hand up to her chin in thought for a few moments.
[Nova]: “You think taking him to see Aquadilus could help?”
[Alpha]: “Aquadilus was strong friends with Isaac before the fact, Nova. The only person in that position with Theodore is you.”
[Nova]: “Point taken. Do you know how Aquadilus helped him?”
[Alpha]: “It’s not something I’ve ever pried into, but considering Aquadilus’s incredibly blunt personality, it was likely something of the ‘tough love’ variety, as humans put it.”
[Nova]: “Well that’s not going to work. I’m no good at that kind of stuff.”
[Alpha]: “If it isn’t you, I can assure you that something is going to give him a nasty reality check one of these days. That’s how life works. At least coming from you, it wouldn’t hit as hard.”
[Nova]: (Sighs) “I mean, I guess I can try. I’m not promising anything, though.”
[Alpha]: “I’m not asking you to. I’m simply giving you the facts.”
Nova nodded and head towards the elevator, using it to leave the base. Alpha turned to the monitor behind her, using the console to pull up video footage of the day’s incident. It was common procedure to review significant footage of the day’s events to ensure nothing important had been missed, though it rarely turned up anything interesting.
After going through the footage of the outside of the mall, she switched to the video feed recorded inside the mall she had been able to obtain from the security cameras after the incident. Everything seemed normal for a while, until the part of the feed where the hallucinated people had begun ‘dying’.
Though most spots the crowd avoided were empty on the feed, Alpha suddenly noticed that one of the areas had an actual body lying on the floor. The feed then suddenly flashed an odd, dark frame for a fraction of a second before jumping to footage the time stamp marked as being a few minutes later. The body had seemingly disappeared, with no sign that it had ever been there to begin with.
Suspicious of this, Alpha rewound the footage and began to play it frame-by-frame. As she hit the part where the feed suddenly cut out, she managed to find the odd frame that had popped up earlier. What the frame revealed was particularly disturbing.
The body from before, shown to be a man in his mid-twenties, had been propped up against the tiled wall of a dark bathroom, with his neck evidently having been slit with a kitchen knife that was now sticking out of his chest. His blood had been used to write some sort of message on the wall behind him. Alpha fiddled with the monitor’s controls, upping the brightness and contrast of the frame to see what it read.
[Don’t you know it’s not nice to watch other people?]
Alpha hesitated for only a moment to process what the message might mean before turning around.
Unfortunately, it was a moment too late.
Alpha did not call Theodore and Nova in the next morning.
- Alpha is killed.
- Amanda Deen
- Unknown Killer