Welcome, one and all to the first contest of Summer Fanon Con, the Creative Writing Contest! The theme is 'Showtime'. We have one contestant, Brandon, which automatically makes him the winner! Congratulations, Brandon!
|Beneath the Mask is an episode written for Summer Fanon Con 2019.
The episode starts with a view of the town streets at night, with the streetlamps shining down on the road below. The view continues throughout the town with the faint sound of an alarm. It gets louder and louder as the view moves further down the street until a bank enters the scene. Cut to the bank, the alarm ringing quite loud with an indistinct red flare coming from within the building through the glass window. A shadow then appears moving from behind the window as a figure becomes more focused. That very said figure then crashes through the window, shattering it to pieces. A brutish move followed by an aerobic flip onto the pavement. A second passes once the figure's feet touch the pavement and the glass fragments follow afterwards. The view moves upwards, showing off the figure- who wears a dark coat with ripped jeans and a grey shirt underneath said coat. He adjusts his gloves whilst holding a duffle bag with the strap over his chest.
Figure: Heh. And they say crime doesn't pay...
The figure then turns around only for two police cruisers to quickly pull up before the bank. Their sirens blaring and the lights at the top of their cars flashing red and blue colors. The figure stops abruptly then chuckles afterwards.
Figure: Right on cue.
The officers get out of their cruisers in a quick haste and aim their weapons at the figure.
Officer: Hands up!
Officer 2: You've got nowhere to run!
The figure raises his hands and starts to approach the officers.
Officer: Hey, don't move!
The figure continues approaching, leaning move towards the side as he continues ahead.
Figure: Or what, Officer? You'll shoot.
Officer 2: You've been warned. Though I don't expect you to understand.
Figure: Sorry, if you thought that things changed, Officer. I guess I am the man you thought I was.
The figure places his right hand against the lamp pole and throws his head back. With the wave of his hand, almost as if flexing a muscle, the figure outfit appears to become metallic. The officers react by firing their weapons. However, the bullets deflect off from the figure. They take a step back while the figure tilts their head playfully.
Figure: Catch you around, Officers.
With a final chuckle, the figure flees from the scene of the crime- passing into a passageway off to the side. The Officers continue on foot, running after him. The figure passes through a park- taking a purse from a passing couple.
He then flips over a park bench where an older man was seated then kicks a jogger passing through.
Jogger: W-What the-
Figure, standing over him: Thank you for your cooperation.
He then walks off before sprinting ahead- off the edge of the park. The officers continue their pursuit. The chase continues until the figure is chased into an alleyway. The Officers then stop before the alleyway, catching their breath.
Officer: He's going to get away at this rate. I didn't realize he was so... agile.
Officer 2: Probably all that supposed training. Whatever they do over there... Anyways, don't worry- we have him this time. This alleyway is a dead end. No one gets out except through here.
The Officers then proceed to enter the alleyway, cautiously- however, through the darkness, a motorcycle flies out at high speeds; knocking the Officers over. They turn their heads and see the motorcycle continue to drive off.
Officer 2: You've got to be kidding me...
Officer, getting up to his feet: Call it in. I'm going to get this place out, see if he left behind anything we can use to track him down.
Officer 2: You should leave that to the Detectives... or the you know what.
Officer: Forget it. You know what we're dealing with here.
Officer 2: Alright. Go. I shouldn't be long anyways.
The officer nods then walks off into the alleyway. The second officer then walks off. The scene then cuts to a moment later where the second officer reaches the police cruiser. He then opens up the door and leans inside to grab the radio.
Officer 2, using the radio: Attention, attention. This is Officer Richardson, responding to the 211 at Bellwood National Bank. The culprit got away on a motorcycle through Blooming Spring Park. You won't believe who it is... it's Kevin Levin. It looks like he's gone rogue once again.
The episode continues the next day at the police precinct. Inside, the officer at the desk sits there, checking his crossword puzzle.
Desk Officer: Hrgh... now let's see. Across, four-letter word for...
A popping noise is then heard, catching the officer's attention. He turns his head slightly to the side and sees a young girl with ginger hair in a blue overcoat with a white jumpsuit underneath. She's checking out a deck of baseball cards in her hands while chewing on something. She soon blows a gum bubble before popping it then chewing on it once more.
Desk Officer: ...Can I help you with something?
Girl: ...Not at the moment, no.
Desk Officer: You do realize that loitering is a crime, right?
Girl: I'm aware. I'm here on business, after all.
Desk Officer: Oh really? What business would that be?
Girl: None of yours, of course. I will say that I'm currently waiting on a friend, however.
The Officer groans then turns back to his puzzle, scratching his head with the nd of his pencil.
Girl, off screen: Number 23.
Desk Officer: What?
Girl: Number 23... on your crossword puzzle. Down, seven-letters: Someone who shirks responsibility and duty. The answer would be "Slacker."
The Desk Officer: (sigh) Of course it is...
He scribbles down the answer with an ounce of shame with the sound of doors opening soon after. His attention is diverted again to the door when a figure in a green jacket walks through the door. The girl's attention moves from studying the cards, almost immediately to the figure who enters the building.
Girl: (sigh) You're late.
Figure: By like ten minutes.
Girl: That's still late. You're unbelievable, you know that, right?
Figure: Well... I do the impossible almost every day.
Girl: Don't flatter yourself. We work in the impossible. It's not like how it was back in your day where everyone praised the legendary Ben 10.
The figure raises his head, revealing himself to be a slightly older Ben with signs of facial hair growing in and a more tired look on his face. His hair is also messier than it is shaggy. He sighs with exasperation.
Ben: I guess some things changed. Like how kids work.
Girl: I'm not a kid! I'm only 15.
Ben: And I'm only your superior officer. 22, by the way.
Ben approaches the desk.
Ben: Looking for holding cells, here to visit someone.
Desk Officer: A prisoner?
Ben: ...A friend, actually.
Desk Officer: Take the door straight down, someone will direct you to it.
Ben: ...Weren't you training last time I was here or something? What like two months ago?
Desk Officer: Oh yes, sir. Trained by the Sheriff, himself!
Ben: Pft- Yeah, that explains the crossword. Come on, kid.
Girl: I-I'm not a kid! Ugh...
Ben walks off ahead while the girl stands there, clenching her fists.
Desk Officer: Hey, tell me. What's a five-letter word for young and inexperienced person? Don't matter, I already know. (chuckle) Rookie.
The girl scowls then turns ahead and walks off, following after Ben. They both pass through the door and walk ahead.
Ben: Alright, I have to-
Girl/Rookie: Why'd you embarrass me in front of that guy? I was trying to be cool.
Ben: ...ask. Okay, now I have two things to ask. One- you being cool? Since when?
Rookie: I'm- I'm always cool.
Ben: Please, you're as stiff as a Techadon.
Rookie: What was your second question?
Ben: What's with the baseball cards?
Rookie: You said pick up a hobby so I picked up a hobby. I'm... collecting these now. I picked them up at the vending machine in the lobby.
Ben: You can't just buy a hobby for two quarters.
Rookie: Three actually.
Ben: Wow, those got really expe-
Rookie: What are we doing here, Ben?
Ben: (groan) We're here to see Kevin.
Rookie: The criminal.
Ben: Yes- I mean no! He's not a criminal... not anymore.
Rookie: He has a record.
Ben: He's changed. I know it.
The two are quiet for a moment.
Rookie: How? Why do you trust him so much?
Ben: ...Remember that team I told you about?
Rookie: You mean the same team that stopped the Highbreed Invasion of Earth?
Ben: Among other things, yeah. Well, he was apart of that team. He was my best friend at one point.
Rookie: Really? What about-
Ben: What? Magister Rook? Nah, he was after Kevin. Kevin and I used to duke it out back when we were kids but... five years later, we became real close. Like brother-in-law close, actually...
He stops walking and starts pondering.
Ben: Man, it's been a good while, hasn't it?
Rookie: ...Guess you're at that age when nostalgia kicks in.
Ben, snapping out of it: Keep talking back and I'll write you up... eventually. Contemelia knows I hate doing paperwork.
Ben continues walking ahead with the girl watching him walk ahead. The scene cuts to the two of them sitting before a glass pane with Kevin being escorted to the table before them. He's wearing a dark coat over a stained grey shirt with ripped jeans. He now has a beard and longer hair.
Ben: Kevin... Been a while.
Kevin: S'up, Tennyson. Still kicking around?
Ben: Eh. I thought about quitting but something changed my mind. You?
Kevin: Yeah, it's complicated.
Ben: Like robbing a bank complicated or...?
Kevin: Nah, man. I didn't rob no bank. After Gwen was taken back to Anodyne for her spiritual awakening stuff, I took apart of the community, giving back to the people to- I dunno- make up for what I've done.
Ben: You've done enough as a hero. More than enough.
Kevin: Maybe for everyone else but not for me, man. Anyways, next thing I know, I'm being called out by the police and taken down for questioning. They're going to pin this thing on me, aren't they?
Rookie: It was a series of robberies as well. They're most likely going to try to connect you to those crimes as well. Get you the longest sentence possible.
Kevin: Gee, who's Little Miss Sunshine over here?
Ben: This is the rookie they partnered me with.
Kevin: Heh. Another one?
Ben: Yeah, well- apparently I'm freelance enough to teach recruits so- (shrugs) Anyways, we're getting off topic and we don't have a lot of time. Tell us what you know, man. I want to help you out here.
Kevin: (sigh) All I can say is I'm being set up. I don't know who or why but that's the deal, man. I've heard talks about others being set up as well. The underground are really trying to cover it up so the police don't get involved or worse, the Plumbers. (turning to rookie) No offense.
Ben: They've got some solid proof, man. Your face was seen, they have witnesses.
Kevin: Look, I'm telling you know what I know. I didn't do it. You have to believe me. I'm not... that guy anymore.
Ben: ...Don't worry, man. I believe you. We're going to get you through this, you hear me?
Kevin nods then the scene cuts over to the two of them walking the street.
Rookie: Like you said, there's evidence against him. Hard evidence, might I add.
Ben: Yeah... Looking into this isn't going to be easy. Especially with a certain someone reminding me how difficult this might be.
Rookie: Sorry, not sorry. We need to analyze the crime scene again.
Ben: No... We need to think outside the box. The bank was close to the park... he ran through the park-
Rookie: Yes, to avoid the police. After all, they can't chase after him in their vehicles with citizens there.
Ben: No, they can't but there were people there. People he talked to even.
Rookie: What? You're saying the people at the park were his accomplices?
Ben: No. I'm saying they're his witnesses. If he avoided them, there wouldn't anyone but the officers at the scene to connect him to the crime through testimony.
Rookie: Huh, you're right. So he created witnesses? But why? What kind of criminal would do that?
Ben: A criminal framing someone else for the crime, I bet.
Rookie: But if that was his plan then he must've known there was park behind the bank. Which means- he studied the area. It could mean that he's a local to this area.
Ben: Good theory. Not great but good. I guess there's one way of seeing the locals around this part of town.
Ben looks up ahead. The girl turns to look where he's looking and sees a theater with open doors and plenty of citizens walking inside. The scene cuts once more to inside of the theater with a performance ongoing. Ben and the Rookie sit in their seats and watch as the show goes on.
Rookie: You can't seriously expect-
Rookie, quieter: You can't seriously expect for us to watch this show during a Plumber investigation.
Ben: We're doing research.
Rookie: How is this research?
Ben sighs then pushes a flyer over to the Rookie. The girl takes the flyer and reads it. It mentions the work of a traveling performance group.
Ben: They were here at this theater on the night of the crime plus the week before. Which means they might have noticed someone checking out the bank a few times.
Rookie: I hate it when you try to prove you're better than me.
Ben: It's called experience, kid. Can't smash and blast your way through everything.
The scene cuts once more to the performances packing up. Ben and the Rookie walks over, catching the attention of one of the lead actors.
Lead Actor: Uh hello. Can I help you two with something? We're just about to pack for-
Ben: Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt. I'm Ben Tennyson. You may have heard of me.
Lead Actor: O-Of course. Yeah. Sorry, it's been a while since you've been in the public eye.
Ben: No worries.
Rookie: (clears throat) Uh...
Ben: Oh right. And this is Samantha Caselli.
Lead Actor: What can I help you with?
Sam: We just want to know if you or anyone in your group noticed any strange behavior around the bank across the street.
Lead Actor: No. I can't say that I have. We're usually in here, practicing. But there is one of our actors that heads out a lot. He's sort of new and doesn't really practice a lot.
Ben: Newbies, am I right?
Sam glares at him before turning back at the lead actor.
Sam: Does he have a name? And where can we find him?
Lead Actor: Theodore Thespi. I think he's at Mr. Smoothy right now.
Ben: Great. I could use a drink. Come on, let's go.
Ben starts to walk off with Sam awkwardly behind with the actor.
Sam: Thank you for the information.
She then hurries to catch up with Ben. The Lead Actor squints slightly as he turns to leave off, behind the stage. He pulls out his phone and punches in a number.
Lead Actor, on the phone: Theodore. It's me. Ben 10 is looking for you.
Voice, over the phone: Well then, I guess it's time to make things interesting.
Lead Actor, on the phone: You have to stop! They're going to catch you if you keep this up.
Voice, over the phone: This is who I am. After all, the show must go on.
The call then ends with a dial tone replacing his voice. The Lead Actor lowers the phone then looks off to the side.
The scene continues at Mr. Smoothy. Ben and Sam sit together at a table, with Ben slurping down his third smoothy already while Sam watches him from across the table, holding onto her one smoothy. It looks full from beneath the lid.
Ben: You know, it's going to get warm if you keep holding it like that.
Sam: I'm just wondering if this is how you usually handle investigations. This isn't what protocol suggests.
Ben: Protocol, Smotocol. The Plumbers were designed to keep galactic order but over the years they've just been reduced to glorified space cops. I used to be a hero, y'know. I thought I was doing the world a service by staying as a Plumber. But now I'm a paper pusher and trainer for rookies like you.
Sam: So why stay?
Ben: Because this is all I've got left. But that's okay because that just means I get to boss you around all day.
Ben: Don't get too excited, you'll spoil your smoothie.
Sam: Speaking of that, Banana Mashed Potatoes? Really?
Ben: If you want, you can try mine.
Sam: I'm good, thanks. Besides, we shouldn't consume food on duty. It's like Magister Rook says. We must stay vigilant.
Ben: Look, I get that Rook trained you but he obviously skipped all the fun parts of being a Plumber.
Sam: This isn't about fun, Ben. We all can't be ten year kids.
Ben: ...Yeah. Well, says the 15-year old.
Sam: Look, the guy isn't here. This is obviously a waste of time.
Ben: Y'know what. I'm starting to agree. Come on, let's go- I'm sure we can-
A explosion then occurs across the way. Ben and Sam turn their heads towards the direction of the explosion, standing up immediately after it erupts. Sam then looks down and grabs her badge.
Sam: It looks like we have some Plumbers first hand on the scene. They have an image ready, it just needs to process.
Ben: Right, you do that. And I'll do this.
Ben: Heh. Don't worry, I've got my ten friends here with me.
Ben then dashes ahead and pulls up his sleeve,. He then activates the re-calibrated Omnitrix and scrolls through a series of aliens- new and old- before settling with Heatblast. He slams down the face plate and transforms into the Pyronite.
Heatblast: Oh yeah! Let's turn up the heat!
He blasts himself up into the air and flies off towards the scene. He then lowers his hands and blasts some flames to reduce his fall before dropping to the ground. He then looks up ahead, seeing a fire spread from another bank.
Heatblast: Another bank robbery?
The Plumbers at the scene then stop and turn to Heatblast, pulling their blaster on him.
Plumber: Don't move!
Heatblast: Guys, it's me. Ben. Ben Tennyson. You know, Ben 10?
Plumber 2: We know who are you, Tennyson. But why were you robbing this bank?
Heatblast: W-Wait, what?
A Pyronite with an Omnitrix symbol on his chest then appears from the bank and blasts fire from his hands at the Plumbers.
Heatblast, surprised: That's... me?!
Heatblast then turns his head, seeing the fire move closer to the Plumbers. He then shoots out his hands and absorbs the fire before them. The other Heatblast then lowers his arms and blasts up into the sky.
Plumber: Uh thanks?
Heatblast: Don't worry. I'm more confused than you are.
Heatblast then turns and blasts himself into the air as well, following after the other one. Heatblast then leaps from the fiery boost below and waves his hand, throwing off a wave of flames. The other heatblast then drops down, blasting Heatblast back as well. Heatblast absorbs the flames and looks ahead, seeing the other one touch down below. Heatblast follows after, dropping to the ground. He looks around, seeing no sign of this other Heatblast.
Heatblast: What the- (groan)
Soon enough, Sam appears, carrying a blaster of her own- similar to the Proto-Tool but slimmer. She then lowers it when seeing Heatblast.
Sam: You transformed. What happened to not smashing and blasting your way through everything?
Heatblast: That was before there was another version of me out there.
Sam: Another Pyronite?
Heatblast: No. He had an Omnitrix symbol on his chest.
Sam: He could be a Plumber.
Heatblast: Been there, done that.
Sam: I suppose you're right. Besides, the old Plumbers badge was discontinued when Azmuth claimed creativity custody over the Omnitrix design.
Heatblast: He hangs out with Chadzmuth for one day...
Sam: Anyways, maybe it was Albedo.
Heatblast: Or maybe it was something a lot more simple.
Heatblast transforms back into Ben and walks over, kneeling down by a strange wrist-like device.
Ben: Hello. What's this?
Sam: It looks like an Exunomical Emitter.
Ben: Sorry, what?
Sam: An Exunomical Emitter. It emits elements, it was developed by our Exunomic scientists.
Ben: So you're telling me this is Plumber technology?
Sam: Well, it looks like it but it can't be. No one has access to Plumber technology aside from Plumbers. Suggesting otherwise would be suggesting the impossible.
Ben: Yeah, well, we specialize in the impossible. Looks like this case of who's who just got more straight-forward. But first we need to help our impostor.
Sam: Where? We don't have any leads.
Ben: Oh? We were told to go to Mr. Smoothy and soon after there's a robbery not too far from here. There's no such thing as a coincidence, Sam. The impostor knew where we were because someone told him.
Sam: Someone like the lead actor. We should confront him.
Ben: You do that. I have something else I need to check.
Sam: Like what?
Ben: Like this piece of alien technology. I have a hunch... and if that hunch is correct. Then I might know who's behind this.
Sam: You think I can handle this on my own?
Ben: Look, you might be a rookie and a kid. But you're a smart kid... and one of the best rookies out there. It's time to end this show once and for all.
Sam nods then turns to walk off down the alleyway. Ben stands there, looking at the emitter in his hand. From the rooftop, a cloaked figure stands there- looking down below.
Figure: So... he's figured it out. No matter. This is only the first few acts... but we're in the final act now, my old friend. And it's nearly time for your big debut.
The figure squats down into the view, showing himself to be Ben in a cloaked costume.
The Impostor: Or should I say...
The figure reaches behind his ear and pulls on his face, removing a mask to reveal Sam.
The Impostor: Your partner's time to shine in the spotlight. (chuckles)
Right off the bat, the episode threw me into a rather different kind of Ben 10 world. While I did enjoy seeing (uh, reading) said world, I feel that it should have been fleshed out more. Ben has a new protege and is pretty different (not that it's a bad thing), Gwen's on Anodyne and Kevin's been doing small-scale stuff. Ben and Sam's dynamic probably impressed me the most, though right after the big twist happened, the episode just... ended? Therein lies what's probably the biggest problem I have with this entry. It was left hanging without any sort of conclusion, leaving me with an overall feeling that can only be summed up by one word: "Huh?"
As for the theme, the episode didn't really adhere to it apart from a few characters using words and phrases typically used in show business. All in all, this entry wasn't bad per se. I just think it's better for what it could have been than what it ended up being.
I hope you enjoyed reading my review of Brandon's entry. I apologize if I came off as too harsh. Have a nice day, and do stick around for the rest of Fanon Con!