Chapter 11 - Enter Cain
Firework, carrying Collective, race to The Unmentionables lair. As they enter they notice the new security features that are set up around the place, from blasters to various traps. They get allowed in by the Stone Skin WTF and head to Pack Rat’s tent.
Collective looks for her friend Coral Snake, who is surprised to see her. They talk a bit and Coral Snake learns that Collective’s powers can be turned off, which intrigues her. After being joined by Bouncer and Jesuit, they find Carl inside, looking like he’s asleep, except for the fact that he’s glowing and levitating. Pack Rat is busy tinkering at his work bench while Darla, the grass covered healer, is keeping an eye on Carl. She tells the team that they assumed Carl was Breaking, but that she’d never seen a Breaking take this long.
Firework opens up is Sight and sees that Carl is glowing super brightly, and that his mind seems confused and frenzied. He deduces that he’s not asleep but in some sort of…mental state. They debate on whether they should try to make contact with Carl when Collective grabs him by the hand. She immediately falls into a deep sleep. Removing her hand from Carl allows her to wake up.
Pack Rat finishes working on his device and plops a 60’s lamp shade looking object onto Bouncers head. By twirling his head, he can “see” everyone’s…aura? All the Paranormals are surrounded by a golden hue. Firework puts it on and sees a trail leading from Carl to somewhere else. Grabbing the team, he follows the trail.
The trail ends to where the middle of the still under construction Golden Gate Bridge is. It leads to an open space, above the ocean but beneath the bridge. Firework gets them as close as he can to the where the trail ends, without touching it. This prompts a phone call from AEGIS, who have reports of paranormal activity at the bridge. Bouncer explains the situation (with no mention of the Caretaker). They’re unsure what to do when one of his sparks notices Carl, standing by the shoreline.
They zip to him and find he’s awake, if not a bit confused. He stares at where the trail ends, and implies that he should go there, though he’s not sure why. Lifting him up, they take Carl to the area, and through it.
They feel a suction like force drag them from where they were flying and they come crashing through a door into a dark room. The floor feels cold and metallic. Though Firework’s sparks are still around, they are dim, half as bright as they usually are. With a little bit of effort, they go brighter. Jesuit notices that he can’t see nearly as well in the dark as he usually can. When Collective goes invisible, the team can still hear her. Fairly easily, since she’s not used to being subtle while invisible. They are in a large, mostly empty metal room. The door they came through from is open, but only darkness appears beyond it. There is another door that’s closed on the other side of the room.
Carl tells them that they should go through the door, and they do. The door leads to a long hallway. There are several doors lining along the hallway. In between the doors are portraits, either photographs or paintings. The subject of the portraits are all the same, group of 7 individuals, male and female of varying ethnicity, dressed in clothing from different time periods. One portrait has them dressed up in old western garb, others in medieval furs and armor, so on and so forth. The portraits go in what look like chronological order, and go around the whole floor that the hallway encompass. Bouncer tries one of the doors, the one by the 70’s looking group, and opens it.
Inside is a room straight out of the 70s. A study with furniture from that time period, along with various artifacts and books. It is dusty, full of cobwebs and stale air, but nothing appears to be aged. They turn on the light and notice glass cases with newspaper clippings in them. Firework speed reads them all, though not as fast as he usually does, and sees the earliest is from 1960 and the last one is from 1979. Each article details various events, usually disasters of some sort, where loss of life was limited. There’s also various talks of technological advancements.
The room rocks as if there’s an earthquake. The team go out into the hallway but see nothing. Collective gets annoyed with Carl, and tells him he’s not very bright. Carl says, “I can be.” Collective goes, “Prove it” before the rest of the team can stop her. Carl immediately lights up like the sun, blinding Collective and hurting the others. Bouncer tells him dim it down, which he does. Firework heals everyone, except Colleen, who went invisible.
Carl, who by then appears to be regaining his senses, suggests they go to other rooms. They do and discover each room is from a different time period, with various objects of yesteryear. Each room has windows or openings in them, looking out into darkness. Bouncer and Firework get the same time distortion sense they had in The Nevernever, but just a little bit.
Every once in a while, the whole structure shakes again. Carl keeps saying, “That’s not right…” but doesn’t seem that concerned. Once the “tour” is over, Carl starts talking about how he is starting to remember things. He looks at the team, and goes, “Something is wrong. Something…have we met before?”
Jesuit and Bouncer explain that The Breaking happened, and rather than only “The Chosen” getting powers, hundreds if not thousands of people did. They try to explain how the world has changed. Carl seems to get confused and starts yelling, “No! You’re wrong!” He points to Bouncer, “You’re wrong!” He points to Jesuit, “You’re wrong!” He begins to point at Firework, but stops, moves on, points to Collective, and goes “You’re wrong!”
The building shakes again. Carl goes back to the room they came out of. The door is closed, even though they left it open, and locked. He pats himself down, says, “I don’t have a key. Do you?” He looks at the team. Everyone checks their pockets, and Firework pulls out a golden skeleton key. He tries it in the door, and it opens.
Inside their room, they see a person, their back to the team, punching the darkness in the open doorway that the team originally came through. He sighs, turns around and looks at the team. He is a youngish man, early 30s, with light brown hair, pushed back and to the side. He has intense blue eyes, that look older than the man himself. He is wearing a dark sports coat, matching slacks, and a button collard striped shirt, with the top unbuttoned.
He says in a very polite tone, “Ah, visitors. Hello. I didn’t realize anyone else was here.”
The team looks on, with Carl in the back, looking in wearily. Bouncer goes, “And you are…?”
He smiles, nods at them and says, “You can call me…Cain.”
Collective looks at the team, looks at Cain, and goes invisible.
Cain says, “I apologize for causing that ruckus, but I was trying to get through. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like I’m ready yet.”
Firework slowly hides the key in his pocket.
Bouncer goes, “What are you doing here?”
Collective yells out, “He’s obviously a bad guy! Bad guy!”
Cain ignores the outburst. He says, “I am merely trying to get what I want. I have no quarrel with you. You’re welcome to this place…as long as you don’t get in my way.”
Collective yells out, “Why are we talking with him? He’s obviously the bad guy!”
Firework, ignoring the outbursts, goes, “Well, if you tell us what you want, we can try to stay out of your way.” Firework recognizes the man, having seen him in the portrait near the 70’s room. He doesn’t look like he’s aged a day, though his wardrobe has improved.
Collective jumps in again, yelling at them and calling Cain names.
Cain, looking with disdain at Collective goes, “How did YOU get chosen? Honestly, is there no standards anymore?”Collective continues her outbursts, which causes Cain to shake his head and is about to say something when he stops. He sniffs the air, in the direction of the team.
“Ahhh, you have been near what I need. Excellent. Stay out of the way. There is no need for your blood to be shed.” He snaps his fingers, and disappears.
The team is flabbergasted, and annoyed with Colleen. Carl says, “Wait..wait a minute. He…Cain…He’s what’s wrong. I mean, he is the REASON it’s wrong! You have to…oh no….” Carl gets a look of horror on his face. “I know where he’s going. Oh no no no. You have to go! You have to go after him. He’s going home, I mean, to my home. I mean…He’s going underground! To The Unmentionables!”
Firework asks how they can leave. Carl says, “With the key. Your key. Through the door. Use it. I can’t…I can’t leave. I’m…I’m getting better being here. I can’t leave. But go. Please, help them!”
Firework lifts everyone up and flies into the darkness, with the key out front. They re-emerge where they entered, under the Golden Gate Bridge. But where it was day only a few hours ago, it is not night. They check their phones. They have been gone over 24 hours.
Bouncer’s phone immediately starts to ring. It’s Dr. Brennan. She goes, “Where have you been? We lost all contact with you.” Bouncer explains that they were taken to another realm and that someone, possibly someone that had something to do with The Breaking, is loose. That he should be taken seriously as a threat, and that they should be ready. Brennan says she’ll have AEGIS teams on standby.
While trying to explain to Brennan the situation, Collective screams into the phone, telling Bouncer not to give away their secrets. Bouncer, having had enough of Colleen, takes a swing at her. Jesuit is able to intercept the blow, though not without getting a massive bruise.
Firework flies the team to the underground lair. They reach the cavern leading to the Unmentionables home. The first thing they see is blood. They see patches of the Stony Skin guard, all over. The turrets on the walls have been destroyed. They race down the hall, seeing smashed machinery everywhere. Firework stops just short of going into the lair. There is a forcefield, of Rat Pack’s design, keeping them from entering. They hit it to no avail.
Inside the lair of The Unmentionables, carnage and chaos reign. Their tents and homes are on fire, scattered all over. People are screaming and running all over. Smoke makes it hard to see much farther in. They see a group of people, armed with baseball bats and other hand held weapons, racing towards something, and are batted aside. Rat Pack leaps from the ceiling, massive gun canon in his hand, shooting while he falls into the smoke. His body is thrown back and it smashes against a wall.
Darla, the healer, uses her body to cover a small teenager, as debris falls over them. A concussive force blasts the teenager away. Darla stands up, facing the danger, fear in her eyes.
Firework musters up his strength and uses his sparks as a battering ram. The force field doesn’t give, but the rocks attached to the machine projecting the force field do.
As he powers through, the team see Darla explode. Her body is ripped to shreds and her grassy skin is flung to and fro. Where Darla was stands Cain, covered in gore and blood. Jesuit can see a look of ecstasy on his face, as the bodily excrement slide off his body, leaving him clean and dry. He smiles at the team. “Ah, my friends. Hello again.”
Bouncer leaps at him, charging head on. Cain takes a step to the side, dodging easily. Bouncer ricochets against the wall, trying again, to no avail. Before the team can mount an attack, Cain says, “I’m almost full. But don’t have time to waste with you lot. Good day, gentleman.” With a snap of his fingers, he’s gone.
The team get to work. Bouncer barks out orders, trying to get the frantic people under control and to organizing them to put out the fires. Firework begins to heal people, as fast as his sparks can. Jesuit finds a broken Pack Rat, but with his mystical gun, heals him.
Pack Rat is terrified, his tail literally between his legs, and it takes him several moments to calm down. He says he tried to stop him, that he tried to protect them, but couldn’t. Jesuit reassures him and helps him regain his composure. Pack Rat steels himself, pushes a button on his vest, his voice begins to boom across the cavern. He says, in the most human and commanding voice that he can, “Everyone listen. Start packing. Our home has been desecrated. It is no longer our home. We will find a new haven, where we can live in peace once more. We will do this…together.” With that, he goes into his tent, but not before getting a hug from Firework.
Jesuit does a quick scan of the area. He notices that though there are dead human bodies everywhere, broken and bloodied, there are no intact WTF bodies. He sees scraps of grass skin, translucent skin, fur and finally scales, the color of Coral Snake’s.
Collective, using remote senses, looks around for Coral Snake. She doesn’t find her and heads down the cavern, leaving her team behind. She plans to get help from AEGIS, but doesn’t tell anyone what she intends to do, and disappears into the sewer system.
Pack Rat gets a call on his cellphone, while getting hugged by Firework. He says, “Um…it’s for you.” It’s The Caretaker. He says, “I think I’m good. Are you ready to hear your origin story?”