Thursday, October 31, 2013

Insert Completely Creepy Prison Here

Michael knocked on the door to Stephen's room again.

"Go 'way," a grumpy sounding voice from inside moaned.

"Stephen, you've got a mission. Get up or I'll make you get up," Michael repeated.

"It's too late for this…" Stephen groaned, burying himself under the covers of his bed.

"Stephen, it's four in the afternoon," Michael said, checking his watch.

"An' I'm tired," Stephen groaned. He had just gotten back from being called to Psyren, and he had fought  three low level Tavoo at once. He was very tired. "Can't you send somebody else?" Stephen begged.

"All the other Agents in the Library right now are either injured or busy with something."

"Last I checked, sleeping was 'something'."

"Well, you're also the only one here who has any knowledge of the fandom."

"How do you…"

"We have our ways. Up."


"It's in a fandom called Deadman Wonderland," Michael said, hoping that it would entice the sleepy Agent out of bed.

There was silence from the other side of the door.

"…Did you just say Deadman Wonderland?" Stephen asked, sounding not as sleepy anymore.


A second later, something slid out from under the door. Michael picked it up and examined it.

Stephen's badge.

"I quit," Stephen said. From inside his room, there was the sound of some scuffling as Stephen started packing up his belongings.

"You can't be serious," Michael said.

"Oh, I can. It's very hard for me, but I can."

"Stephen, there are two Stus in the fandom…"

"Good luck with that."

"One level Four…"


"And a level Five. One that I think you'd be familiar with," Michael said, pulling out his trump card. The sound of Stephen packing stopped.

"…nameless?" He asked.

"Unless our readings are wrong, yeah. He's gained a level since you saw him last."

"…I have a request, Michael."


"I'm gonna need a Oneshot for this one. And could you look after Lil' C while I'm gone?"

"I don't know how to change a diaper."

"Don't worry, it's just for show."


Stephen stepped out of the Plothole, hoping that none of the tourists milling about had seen him. What he saw looked like a cheerful amusement park, but Stephen was not fooled.

Deadman Wonderland. A privately owned prison that functions as an amusement park. After an enormous earthquake devastated Japan years ago, DW was set up on the epicenter in the ruins of Tokyo. Here, the prisoners were used as labor in the park, with death row inmates given a collar that would poison them if they didn't have the antidote, called candy, every three days. To get the candy, you had to work or take part in macabre, usually fatal, games for the amusement of the audience to get Cast Points, which functioned like money.

Now that we've covered the top half of DW, let's visit the bottom.

Deadmen. Men, women, and children who, after the earthquake, gained the ability to control their own blood and use them as weapons called 'Branches of Sin'. As soon as a Deadman was found, they were sent off to this prison and locked up in Section G, away from the public eye. There, they participated in fights to the death using the Branches of Sin. The winner gets Cast Points. A lot of Cast Points. The loser? They get to spin a wheel to see what body part they lose to be researched. Limbs, organs, hair, you name it, it can be removed. Without anesthetic.

And if that doesn't sound like fun, almost every single person in the prison is batshit freaking loco in some way.

You can probably understand why Stephen wanted a Oneshot.

Stephen took out the small white pill and swallowed it dry.

Hm. Tasted like oranges, he thought.

The effects came almost instantly. None of them, however, were any good. Stephen started to giggle madly. The giggles soon grew into full-blown laughter, and tourists started to stare.

"I'm Swedish!" he shouted.

In the Library, Michael facepalmed.

"Swedish, Swedish, Sweeeeeddiiiiish!" Stephen sang, prancing through the crowds of tourists. Yes, prancing. That's almost the only way to describe what he was doing.

From the shadows of a nearby building, Nameless watched his creator lose his mind.

"'E shall be but an eensect under my bloody boots," The man who was with him said with a thick accent.

"You only show up when I give you the signal. If you jump the gun, I will hunt you down and make you wish you had never been created."

"Vine. Vill joo go and meet him now?" The man asked, obviously impatient.

"…Not until he gets his mind back."

"Joo may be vaiting a vhile."

"Just go get ready."


"…One and two and one and two and one…" Stephen said as he waltzed through the park with his impromptu dancing partner. He was getting… a few confused stares. Just a few. Maybe a couple dozen. A small crowd.

"Is this an act?"

"Doesn't really look like a clown…"

"Why is he dancing with a trash can?"

Stephen stopped dead. Slowly, he turned around to face the man who had asked why he was dancing with a trash can.

"I beg your pardon, good sir?" He said, now speaking with an incredibly thick French accent, mostly because he had no idea what a Swedish accent sounded like.


"Did you just call this fair lady a trash can? Tell me, does she look…" In a second, Stephen was nose to nose with the now terrified man, "LIKE A TRASH CAN TO YOU?"

The man screamed and jumped back.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" He screamed, desperately trying to get some distance between himself and the loony.

"Seriously, this has to be an act…"

"Somebody call security!"

"This-this is the worst act I've ever seen!" The man, who we shall call Jim for convenience, shouted as he continued to back away from Stephen.

"You insult my queen…" Stephen growled

"No actor should try to hit an audience member!" Jim screamed.

"And threaten my people with slavery and death!" Stephen barked.

"This is madness!" Jim yelled, backing into a tree.

The crowd gasped. Slowly, realization dawned on Jim's face.

"Oh, you wouldn't…" He said.


"Shit, you would," Jim gulped. This would not end well.



Security had finally arrived, and one of the braver guards had hit Stephen as hard as he could with a nightstick. It didn't seem to have any effect. Stephen turned around to face the guard, his eyes devoid of emotion.

"Well, that was rude," he said, then passed out.

The Library…

"Valerie, what do you think?" Michael asked as Valerie looked over the monitor's footage of Stephen going crazy.

"Well, they're definitely side effects from the Oneshot – the giggling and thinking he was Swedish – but I've never seen them that bad before," She noted.

"What should we do?" Michael asked.

"Probably run some tests when he gets back. I've got a hunch as to why it didn't work, but I'll need some confirmation," Valerie said, making mental notes to get the equipment she'd need ready.

"What's your theory?" Michael asked.

"Well, when I ran tests on everybody to make up the power rankings, the magic ability test kinda… reacted oddly to Stephen."


"The machine started crying and blew itself up."


"Anyway, my theory is that Stephen has…"



When Stephen came to a few hours later, he could actually think clearly, but his memories of what had happened were a little bit fuzzy. He wasn't sure why he was in a small cement room with a toilet sitting in the middle of the floor, why the door was made out of bars, why he was wearing a jumpsuit and OH KAMINA DAMN IT HE WAS IN JAIL.

"Craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap," Stephen groaned, starting to pat himself down to see if he had any of his belongings on him. He checked his neck. No death-collar. Good. He checked his head. Hair still there. Hat.

Where was his hat?

And who could be held responsible for this atrocity?

"Well, time to get back to work," Stephen decided, getting up off the bed and bending the bars to make a way out. He bent the bars back after him. No need to be impolite, after all.

Mercifully, the guard that had been posted outside of Stephen's cell was snoozing on the job. Stephen considered finding a sharpie to give the man a mustache or a classy pair of glasses, but decided not to. Stephen walked past the sleeping guard and had no trouble finding the warden's office. The warden was also asleep. Man, the security here sucked.

Moving past the warden to the locker marked 'evidence' in the corner of the room, Stephen put his ear to the lock and started to turn it.

"Twenty-nine left… sixteen right… twelve and a half left…" Stephen said, and then tried to open the lock. Unsurprisingly, it didn't work, so Stephen just put his fist through the door, wrenched it off its hinges, and called it a day.

After a few moments of searching through the locker, Stephen had located his stuff, mercifully undamaged. He stored his gadgets away in some of the convenient pockets of the loose jumpsuit, and affixed his hat to his head.

"Alrighty then," He said, popping his knuckles, "Step One: Track."


The unidentified Stu dug his fangs into the man's throat, feeling the warm blood glide down his throat. When there was no more blood to drain, he threw the body away, and looked around the alleyway to make sure he had not been seen.

More. He'd need much more blood. Heavens knew that it was more fun to stalk his prey a bit before going in for the kill, but it was probably time to get a bit more practical.

More blood. He needed more blood.


Stephen made his way through the thinning crowds, the prisoner's jumpsuit actually making it easier to blend in, since the prisoners were used as park workers here. A little bit crazy, but so was everybody here.

Stephen figured he'd have to work quickly to track down his targets, since the sun was starting to set. There were some people staying behind, though, muttering something about a big show that evening.

"That jumpsuit looks good on you, Creator," A man from behind Stephen said. Stephen turned around, coming face to face with…

"Nameless!" Stephen screamed. Nameless smirked and melted into the crowd. Stephen shoved several people out of his way as he charged after him, intent on catching up.

"Get back here!" Stephen yelled, spotting Nameless again. The Stu smirked and kept running. He was leading Stephen somewhere.

When Stephen finally caught up with his creation, he was in an almost empty grassy park, which Nameless was standing in the middle of, waiting for him.

"Ever been trapped in a place with no light, Creator? A place where everyone, everyone, is trying to find some way to vent their anger from being abandoned by the people who made them?" Nameless asked, staring Stephen down.

"When I wrote you, I never thought this would happen, Nameless," Stephen said, "I never would have thought that a character from my story would want to kill me."

"You have no idea what I had to go through in that damn Vault. No food, no water, no light. I had to fight to survive," Nameless said, his grip tightening on the hilt of his sword.

"I take it you got that sword there? What happened to the Ärm that I wrote you?" Stephen asked. Nameless pulled back his right sleeve, showing a ring on his hand. It was silver, shaped like a skull with a snake twisting through the eye sockets and forming the band.

"I won't need this to defeat you," Nameless said, lowering his sleeve, "Hell, I won't even have to unsheathe my sword."

"Care to make a bet on that?" Stephen asked, falling into a fighting stance.

"Five minutes, Creator. That's all I'll need," Nameless said, pointing his katana at Stephen.

"I've gotten stronger since we met last," Stephen said, "Much stronger."

Nameless smiled. "Show me."

Stephen activated Rise, launching himself forward with his fist pulled back. Nameless made a small jump backwards to avoid the attack, letting Stephen hit only air. Stephen recovered from the miss quickly, and dropped to the ground, sweeping his leg at Nameless's feet. Nameless jumped to avoid it, and brought his sheathed sword down on Stephen's head. Stephen rolled out of the way just in time, using the momentum from the roll to get back on his feet and launch himself at Nameless. Nameless slipped to the side to avoid the punch, and kicked Stephen in the back of the leg, forcing him onto his knees. Nameless brought his sword above his head and swung it down. As soon as he fell to his knees, Stephen figured it was time to test out his new technique. Just before the sword struck, Stephen shouted one word.


The sword bounced harmlessly off of Stephen, making a sound as if it had struck rock. Nameless grunted, and jumped back, expecting a counter-attack. None came. Stephen remained in his kneeling position for a few more seconds before standing up.

"That all you've got?" He asked, cracking his knuckles. Nameless lunged, his hand on the hilt and sheath as if he was about to unsheathe the sword and cut Stephen.

"IRONHIDE!" Stephen shouted again, standing completely still. Nameless stopped his attack just as Stephen shouted Ironhide. The Stu stood up straight, looking his Creator in the eye. His Creator's eyes were not their usual blue, however. They had turned gray, as if they were made of...

Nameless smirked.

"Oh, I get it now," Nameless said, lifting his sword above his head to prepare for another attack. As soon as Stephen's eyes turned blue...


Nameless brought the sword down again, but Stephen reacted quickly. A simple step out of the way, and the sword hit only the grass. Acting purely on reflex, Stephen used his feet to trap the sword, and with a turn of his legs, snapped the blade in twain.

Funny word, twain.

Nameless jumped back as soon as his sword had been broken, the shattered sheath falling off the blade.

"Impressive, creator. I never would have thought that you'd be able to last this long," Nameless said, looking down at the broken sword.

"I'm just getting warmed up," Stephen said. Nameless smirked.

"Good," He said, throwing the broken sword into the air, "Then I hope you two have fun."

"What?" Stephen said, but Nameless had already summoned a Plothole.

"Good luck getting out of here in one piece, Creator," He said, and then disappeared. Stephen cursed.

"…Wait, did he say 'the two of you'?" Stephen asked himself, then he heard something.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Stephen froze.

"Please don't let that be what I think it is…" He said, turning around to face the source of the echoing thuds. He craned his neck to get the full scale of the newcomer.

"Oh, come on. That's just cheating," He said before a titanic fist bore down on him.

Stephen dove out of the way, narrowly avoiding being crushed.

"NICE TO MEET YOU, TOO!" He shouted, "CAN I ASSUME THAT I'M GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE YOU IN BY FORCE?" The pilot of the fifty-foot tall mechathat looked like a bastard child of an Evangelion and a Mad Cat made out of blood laughed.

"Joo fool! Do joo seenk zat joo can arrest me? I… am Vladimir Blade Spike Van Helsing! Or, as my Branch of Sin is known, Vampire Bat!" The pale, gothic man shouted, cackling.

"I call foul! Branches of Sin have to be named after birds, and bats are mammals, moron!" Stephen shouted.

"As I see it, one of us is a small worm, and the other is in a giant freaking mecha made out of blood," Vladimir said.

"What happened to your… never mind, how the hell do you have that much blood?" Stephen asked, deciding not to ask why Vladimir's Transylvanian accent had disappeared.

"The tourists here… are very tasty," Vladimir said, licking his lips.

"Okay, I'm adding your charges, then. Vladimir Blade Spike Van Helsing, you are now charged with breaking the rules of the fandom by using blood other than your own with your Branch of Sin, and attempted assault of an Agent," Stephen said. Vladimir responded by firing small projectiles of blood at Stephen. "Ironhide," Stephen said, and the bullets bounced off his skin, only making small cuts. A few more seconds passed, and Stephen's eyes returned to their blue color again.

"Make that 'actual assault of an Agent'," Stephen said, wiping some of the blood off his arm.

"Impressive, bug. Tell me, who are you?" Vladimir asked. Stephen's eyes glinted.

"Who am I? Who am I? Well, let me tell you," Stephen said, in maximum monologue mode, "Pleased to meet you, I'm a man of wealth and taste. I've been around for a long, long year, stole many a man's soul and faith. And I was round when Agent Dave had his moment of doubt and pain. Made damn sure that Tyler washed his hands before he ate. Pleased to meet you! Hope you guess my-"

"What. Is. Your. Name," Vladimir growled, obviously not appreciating the monologue.

"Oh, silly me. Well then, I'm Agent Stephen, from the Anti-Cliché and Mary Sue Elimination Society, and you?" Stephen flashed his badge, "You're under arrest for the aforementioned charges."

"I do so detest conversation with my prey. How about we get this over with?" Vladimir asked. "MEET THE ANGEL OF BLOOD!" He roared as the fist of his steed crashed down where Stephen was standing. Stephen leapt back, but was struck in the forehead by a small piece of cement from the impact, which drew a steady trickle of blood. A pair of shoulder mounted gatling guns appeared on the Angel of Blood, whirring up and firing a barrage of blood bullets at Stephen. Stephen ran away, the trail of bloody death right behind him. He dove behind a trashcan and wiped the blood from his forehead.

"Now or never, I guess," Stephen said. He rolled out from behind the trashcan and held out the hand with the blood on it, pointing his palm at his opponent, hoping that the Oneshot he had taken earlier had made him a Deadman and wasn't rendered useless by some strange occurrence.

"Eat this," He said, "Or rather, don't, because you're apparently supposed to be a vampire and I'm about to attack you with my blood."

Stephen concentrated. Picture the blood as an extension of yourself, allow it to shape itself into a weapon, and…

Nothing happened. Stephen paled.

"Oh, come on."

This time, Vladimir fired a missile at him. The resulting explosion knocked Stephen into the air. He hit the ground running. Time for a new plan, he thought.

Meanwhile… The Library…



"What happened? You just stopped talking for, like, four hours."

"Oh, sorry. As I was saying, when I finally recovered the data from the remains of the magic testing machine, the results were… fairly surprising."

"How so?"

"Well, you remember how the results were graded, right?"

"Yeah, S-rank, A-rank, B-rank, C-rank, and D-rank, right? "

"Well, Stephen's results? His magic was an F-rank."

"Is… is that possible?"

"Apparently. My theory is that because his magical ability is so low, his body automatically renders magic-based items like the Oneshot and Copyright absolutely useless to him."

"Wow, I sure hope that doesn't have any effects on the mission."

"So do I."

Michael sighed. "I'll go check the monitors to see if he's okay."

"Good idea."


The Angel of Blood (Vladimir's mecha) stomped its way through the amusement park, being careful not to knock over any of the rides. The little worm had run away like a little gnat, and Vladimir was not having much luck swatting him like an annoying mosquito.

"Yo-hoo! Hey, you! Tall, dark, and stupid! I'm right over here!" Stephen shouted from his perch. The Angel of Blood reformatted itself so that Vladimir was now facing Stephen, who was standing on the highest flagpole of the circus tent. For a second, he looked fairly impressive. This was quickly ruined when his poor sense of balance failed, and he rolled off the tent onto the ground.

"Well, that could have gone better," He admitted, standing up and brushing himself off.
Wait, why hadn't he been attacked while he was down? Stephen glanced up, noticing that he was now standing in the shadow of the Angel of Blood. Who was completely ignoring him and carefully adjusting the circus tent, which had apparently been knocked a bit off balance by Stephen's fall.

"What the hell?" Stephen said. "What is he doing?" While Vladimir was busy, Stephen channeled his Rise into his ears, hoping to catch something.

"…Must be orderly, must not damage it, must be careful… Don't damage it, I want to keep it…" Vladimir was mumbling to himself. A light bulb turned on over Stephen's head. Actually, it was just a lamppost that was being turned on because the sun was starting to set, but you get the idea. Stephen looked around for something to use with his brilliant new plan.

"Too small, too small, too stupid, too… perfect," He decided, eyeing a roller coaster. He set off, jumping from ride to ride, aiming for the apex of the roller coaster.

Finally satisfied that the circus tent was standing straight, Vladimir backed off, checking his handiwork. "Perfect," He decided, "Good as new."

"HEY, TOOTH-FACE!" Stephen shouted, throwing a small piece of the roller coaster track at Vladimir, whose back was turned to him. The metal bar embedded in the mecha, and sank in as it was drawn to the cockpit to be identified. A second later, Vladimir gave a berserker howl.

"DON'T TOUCH THE RIDES!" He screamed, reformatting the Angel to face Stephen. Vladimir was holding on to the bar of metal as if it was gold, and his fangs were bared.

"Here's an idea: Why? Don't? You? Make me?" Stephen said, punctuating each word by breaking another bar with a well-placed stomp.

"No! NO! STOP! STOP!" Vladimir screamed, knowing that it was too risky to try and hit him when he was so close to the roller coaster. Stephen cupped a hand behind his ear.

"I'm sorry, what was that? I can't hear you over the sound of me breaking the roller coaster!" He laughed, forcefully disconnecting a rail. Vladimir whimpered. "What, not gonna attack me? You, with your big fancy robot? Whatsa matter? Scared?" Stephen gloated, continuing to snap off pieces of the ride. Vladimir was sweating now. Just a few more seconds, and he'd probably…



"Or what?" Stephen asked, tossing another part over his shoulder.

"P-p-p-please! I'll do anything you ask! Just stop ruining my rides!" Vladimir sobbed. Stephen grinned. Hook, line, and sinker.

"Alright then, how's this? I'll stop breaking this roller coaster, and we'll fight. Like gentlemen, on the same ground, at the same size. You okay with that?" Stephen asked, knowing Vladimir couldn't turn down his demands. He was too protective of the rides, for some reason.

"Deal! Deal! Now stop breaking it!" Vladimir agreed. The Angel of Blood slowly started to shrink until it was about human sized. The unused blood pooled together and was shaped into a large block for later use by Vladimir.

"Alrighty then!" Stephen shouted, preparing to jump to the ground. Unfortunately, he looked down first. Stephen took a step away from the edge. "Okay, I'll jump on three. One… two… three!" Stephen jumped straight down, landing in front of Vladimir. When he landed, he felt a small twinge in his ankles. The pain came quickly. 'Note to self: Don't jump down from that height again, unless I plan to land in an awesome pose', Stephen thought, 'Definitely won't be using my legs for this fight.'

"You shall pay for what you have done," Vladimir snarled. His armor had changed form. Now, it looked like Iron Man, a suit of T-51b Power Armor, and Master Chief had all gotten together and somehow had a baby. And Vladimir was wearing that baby. And we're never going to mention this train of thought ever again.

"Aw, no harm done. A little elbow grease, a beaver, three toothbrushes – or should it be teethbrush – and sixteen inches of duct tape and it'll be good as new," Stephen said, stretching out his arms.

"Nevertheless, you shall die for damaging my property," Vladimir said, the servos in his armor whirring. Or whatever it is that servos do.

"Your property? Funny, you don't look like the Director," Stephen said, finally wondering exactly what point in the story they were in.

"Oh, it shall be mine. I intend to destroy this wretched place, and I shall build in its stead… a-"

"Stop right there. I swear to Kamina, if the next word you say is 'palace', I will destroy you," Stephen said, "Also, would you mind telling me what point in the story we're in? I haven't had the chance to check."

"This… is before the story began. After I kill you, I will crush the walls of Section G, destroy every Deadman in this place, and then…" Vladimir started to laugh, "I shall kill the Wretched Egg."

Stephen's blood froze. After a moment, a smile worked its way onto his face. "Seriously? You, kill the Wretched Egg?" He laughed.

What is the Wretched Egg? Nothing good, that's for sure. The Wretched Egg is basically the strongest Deadman alive, and may just be the cause of the earthquake that destroyed Tokyo years ago. It's also the reason the story moves at all; the Wretched Egg escapes one day for some odd reason and travels to a school, gruesomely slaughtering an entire class, save one boy. Igarashi Ganta, being the only survivor, and thus, suspect, since the general population doesn't know that the Wretched Egg exists, is charged with death and sent to Deadman Wonderland. For some reason, the legal system decides to completely ignore common sense, and the fact that it would be basically impossible for a teenage boy, without any weapons, to kill his classmates in a way that ensures they are all merely chunks and soup. Yes, that's how badly the Wretched Egg killed them all. In less than a minute.

"You laugh now, but I will win. When I have taken this place apart brick by brick, I shall build a palace…"
Stephen grimaced.

"…And with that palace, there shall be…" A dreamy smile spread across Vladimir's face, "The most fantastic amusement park ridesthe world has ever seen." A low sigh escaped his lips. Stephen lifted an eyebrow. "Okay, you're kinda insane," He decided.

"One of us is insane…" Vladimir pointed his arm at Stephen. A minigun formed in place of a hand. "And the other is going to be a thimble."

"We'll see about that," Stephen said, watching as the barrels started to spin. "Not going to run?" Vladimir asked, smirking. In an instant, the barrels started to roar.

"IRONHIDE!" Stephen shouted just before the gun started firing. His eyes turned gray, and he stood still. The red bullets bounced off of him harmlessly. Vladimir stopped firing after a second, and launched himself forward, propelling his other fist into Stephen's stomach. Stephen was blasted back, still in the position he had been in when his eyes turned gray. A red wall from the block of blood appeared in front of the rollercoaster, preventing Stephen from causing any damage to it. The wall stood firm as Stephen crashed into it. A second later, Stephen's eyes turned blue again. His first action was to fall to the ground on his hands and knees and cough up blood. A dark stain appeared on his jumpsuit where Vladimir had hit him.

"You can't use the same trick twice, insect. I've figured out your trick," Vladimir taunted, approaching the wounded Agent. He grabbed Stephen by the skull, lifting him up off the ground. "Whenever you shout that word, 'Ironhide', your eyes turn gray, as if they are made of stone. My bullets can't harm you when that happens, but it seems that my fists…" Vladimir lifted Stephen up higher, "CAN!"

He slammed Stephen to the ground. If Stephen hadn't had Rise reinforcing his body, his head would be the main ingredient in a soup right now. It still hurt like a bitch. After a few repeated hits, Vladimir brought Stephen up to face him. His faceplate slid away, revealing a grinning Vladimir.

"Ah, the once proud Agent, reduced to a punching bag in my hands… isn't it funny? But don't worry; your blood shall serve me in the Angel," Vladimir said, his fangs bared and aching for flesh. He brought Stephen's neck closer to his mouth, ready to dig his fangs into the bare skin, to pierce the veins. The amount of blood on Stephen's body was already driving him crazy, and the blood sliding down his throat would feel so sweet

A low whisper escaped Stephen's lips.

"Hm?" Vladimir said, not having heard what Stephen had said.

"I said…" Stephen dipped his hand into his pocket, "Clack. Bitch."

In a second, Stephen removed a Prohibitor from his pocket, clacking it around Vladimir's neck before he had a chance to react. Vladimir grew paler than usual. He dropped the bleeding Agent, his hands flying to his neck, as if to assure himself that it wasn't true, he hadn't lost.


His armor slowly started to drip, losing its form.


The blood pooled at his feet, covering his body, staining his clothes.


His fangs shrank, becoming regular human canines. Vladimir struggled with the Prohibitor, trying to take it off.

"NO! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOO!" Vladimir screamed, watching his dreams dissolve in front of his eyes. His legs buckled, and he fell to the ground, covered in the stolen blood.

"I… win," Stephen whispered, already feeling dizzy from blood loss and repeated head trauma. Vladimir was unconscious. Stephen weakly reached into the pocket where he kept the Plothole Generator. His hand was filled with bits and pieces of the broken machine when he pulled it out. If Stephen could have moved his head, he would have hit it on the ground. He pulled out his Communicator instead.

"Agent Stephen to the Library. Stu has been apprehended, an' I need a ride…" The world spun around his head, "…Yeah, could s'mebody come an' pick me up? Pref'rably with a stretcher? I think 'm 'bout t' pass out now, thanks…"

Stephen cut off the communication, and rolled onto his back, staring up at the night sky. A small object streaked across the sky, bursting into a red show of light. Numerous others followed it, exploding across the sky and painting it thousands of colors. Stephen chuckled.

"Fireworks, huh…" He said to himself.




The synapses rapidly connected in Stephen's mind. Fireworks. Jesus. It was so obvious. Why hadn't he thought of it before?

"Fireworks…" Stephen let out a low laugh. "Fireworks."

The last thing Stephen saw before fading out was a Plothole opening and three people running out. He heard a few shouted orders, but then, nothing.


When Stephen woke up in the medical wing, he couldn't remember a thing. Not his name, where he was, or what had happened. Which is why, of course, the first thing that he said to Valerie, who had been sitting at his bedside to watch over him, was, "What time is it?"

Valerie stared at him, dumbfounded. Her book fell to the ground. "Um, three o'clock?" She answered.

"Ah, good. Now, could you tell me who I am?" Stephen asked simply. He passed out again. Valerie stayed sitting for a moment, completely confused. "What just happ-"

Stephen woke up again. "I remember now!" He announced, sitting up. He turned to Valerie. "What time is it?" He asked again. "Three." "Good. Am I dead?" "No. You were pretty beaten up when we found you, though."

"And the Stu?"

"In the Basement. Congratulations on your first catch," Valerie said, patting him on the shoulder. Stephen sighed.

"What's to congratulate? I lost pretty badly," He said.

"Stephen, it's true you might not be ready for a Level Four yet, but think of it this way: You still managed to bring him in. And that's something to be proud of," Valerie said, pressing a stethoscope to his chest to check his pulse. Stephen gave a slight nod.

"I guess you've got a point. How is he?" He asked.

"Half-comatose. You may not have dealt much physical damage to him, but I think you may have broken his mind," Valerie answered. Vladimir had literally been frothing at the mouth when they'd brought him in, and didn't react to any provocations. Stephen groaned.

"Great, that means I'll have to wait a while before I can have a little talk with him," Stephen said.

"Well, you'd have to wait here a little while anyway. There is literally no way that you're leaving that bed until you're completely healed," Valerie said. She pointed to the table beside the bed. A large basket of fruits sat on it. "A few others chipped in and got that for you," She said.

"Oh, well that's nice," Stephen said, reaching for an apple. He felt the skin for a moment.

"It's wax, isn't it?" he asked. Valerie nodded. "Assholes," he grumbled.

"On that note, I have a few messages for you. Jared is miffed about your Plothole Generator…"

"Not my fault this time," Stephen said, "I think," He said in a smaller voice.

"Tash is trying to find some way to train you so you don't, in her words, 'get put in the medical wing by the next dust bunny you see'…"

"Tell her I said 'ha freaking ha'."

"Can do. Michael said he wanted compensation for taking care of your little monster. The little guy was driving him crazy."

There was silence for a moment. Valerie and Stephen started to laugh.

"Oh, I see what you did there."

"I… I didn't mean to say that," Valerie said in between giggles, "Honest."

"…And people are starting to take bets on how badly beaten up you're going to get on your next mission. Seriously, if you hadn't gotten lucky, you wouldn't be alive right now," Valerie said. Stephen lifted an eyebrow.

"Wait, seriously? They're actually taking bets?"

"Well, you have been out cold for three days."

"Wait, three days? Seriously?"

"Nah, more like one."

"Any idea when I'll be good to leave?" Stephen asked. Valerie held up one finger.

"A week, tops, thanks to that freakish healing factor of yours. But it should still hurt for a while after that," She said. "But…" Stephen interjected.

"No buts. One week, and that's final," Valerie said. Stephen let his head hit the pillow.

"Craaap," he said. He sighed.

"I feel like I'm forgetting something…" He said to himself. Something important, about Nameless… what was it?

"Does it have something to do with fireworks?" Valerie asked. Stephen shot up, instantly regretting it as pain seemed to find a way to punch him in the nuts of his soul.

"Fireworks… yeah, that's right. Fireworks," He repeated. A small grin crept across his face.

"You were mumbling it while you were sleeping. What does it mean?" Valerie asked. Stephen's grin only widened.

"It means… I remembered it."

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