[NOTE: This story is based after the storyline in the Gamecube game, "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem". I'll try to explain as many elements in the fic as I can for the benefit of those who haven't actually played the game, but it will probably make more sense if you have played it. ALSO NOTE: Parts of the story will be fairly graphic, though mostly later on.]
Beyond the Veil
By: Mark J. Hadley
The City of Townsville...and as school came to a close for the Powerpuff Girls, they headed to make a stop home, as they customarily did before beginning their standard patrols of the city. Each day, Professor Utonium would greet them at the door with a smile, and ask them about their day. After spending the first portion of the day at school, it was always a welcome sight.
Today was different, though. As the girls arrived home, the professor was not waiting for them as he usually did. Bubbles noticed this as they approached the front door and blinked a few times. "Where is he?" she asked.
"He probably just headed out," Blossom said, pointing at the driveway. "Look, see? The car's gone. Let's just go out on patrol; we'll catch him when we get back."
"Yes, but I wanted to show him the drawing I made today!" Bubbles protested. "Can't we just wait for him?"
Buttercup shook her head, "I just sat through a long and boring day of school, and right now I just feel like beating up some bad guys. You can stay if you want, but I'm going."
"Go ahead," Bubbles said. "I'll catch up later, okay?"
"Okay," Blossom nodded, and motioned for Buttercup to follow. The two of them started to fly back towards Townsville, while Bubbles headed inside.
Neither of them made it very far, because in the next moment, Bubbles called out, "GIRLS!" Blossom and Buttercup stopped in their tracks, and quickly returned to the house to see what the matter was. As they flew down next to Bubbles, they stared inside and gasped. From what they saw, it looked like everything in the house had been ransacked. Chairs and bookcases were knocked over, furniture torn up, pictures hanging crookedly on the wall...for a moment, it looked as though some kind of earthquake had hit, but most of the damage was too uniform...the way all the pictures were tilted the same way, or the way each individual book had been removed from the bookcase.
"What happened in here?" Blossom wondered aloud, then in a louder tone of voice, called out, "Professor? Are you here?"
The three of them entered to start looking around, and Bubbles said, "I hope he's all right..."
Buttercup looked around at the mess and picked up a broken mirror, which had fallen from the wall. She examined it and said, "Geez...what a mess. What do you think happened, Blossom?"
"Looks to me like whoever did this was looking for something," Blossom replied. "It must have been after the Professor left...all right, everyone, spread out and search for clues. Bubbles, you check upstairs. Buttercup, you take this level. I'll go to see if the lab is in order."
The girls all nodded and headed off in their respective directions. Blossom wasn't too surprised to see the lab door open, and as she went inside, she found pretty much what she had expected to find: equipment all moved around, file drawers open, and pretty much everything in complete disarray. She went through the debris, looking for anything that might help them identify who had done this, but there was nothing. No footprints, no fingerprints, nothing else left behind...whoever had done this had been careful to cover their tracks.
The oddest thing she found was a safe, set in the wall. She had seen it before...the professor kept important documents and so forth in there. There was a numerical combination lock, and the entire safe was made from a Duranium alloy, so it was next to impossible to break into. Yet, when she looked closer, she saw scratch marks in the surface; someone seemed to have tried to cut into the metal, but ultimately decided to abandon the attempt. Still, the metal was scratched, which was a mystery in and of itself. Blossom knew well that a Duranium alloy doesn't scratch easily.
There was also something else against the wall next to the safe. It was a small, yellow sticky note. Blossom pulled it off the wall and took a look at it...there was nothing on it but a little crude drawing of a Powerpuff Girl on it, but one that held the characteristics of all three of them. It had a bow and pigtails, and a hairline that matched Buttercup's. As she was puzzling over why it was there, she heard the girls flying down into the lab. They hesitated for a moment, looking over the damage, then flew over to her...Buttercup told her, "I couldn't find anything."
"Me either," Bubbles said. "Our room's a mess! They tore it all apart! What's going on?"
"I'm not sure..." Blossom said absently, still focusing on the drawing she found. She showed it to the others and said, "What do you make of this?"
Bubbles took one look at it, and blinked, "DyNaMo?"
Blossom studied it again...it really wasn't well-drawn, and didn't look too much like the giant robot that the Professor had built for them a long time ago, but still, it did bear a resemblance. "DyNaMo..." she said to herself softly, then glanced over at the numerical keypad on the safe, "Wait a minute..."
On a closer look, the numbers on the keypad had letters on them, like a telephone keypad. She carefully put in the number '396266', spelling out 'DYNAMO'. To her surprise, it worked. The lock beeped once, and there was a clank as the safe door unlocked. She slowly opened the safe to see what was inside.
There wasn't much inside…a few stacks of paper, probably some various important documents like birth certificates and such. On the top of the pile, though, was a notebook, with the message 'Read This' scrawled across the front. Blossom pulled it out, and the other girls looked over her shoulder at it. "What is it?" Buttercup asked.
"Whatever it is," Blossom decided, "the professor wanted us to find it. I think we should read it." She headed over for the nearest table for some light, and the three of them gathered around it. Brushing aside some broken glass, she set the notebook down and opened it...
* * *
To my little angels...
Please, don't be alarmed at my sudden disappearance. It was necessary, and I knew you wouldn't understand without some sort of explanation. I'm sorry that I really didn't have the time to tell you, but I hope the following explanation will at least try to explain why I had to go. I feel you deserve to know the truth, but please...please, whatever you do, don't follow me, because it would mean great danger for all three of you, not to mention for the world...
("Danger, huh?" Buttercup said. "Hah...what kind of danger can't be handled by the Powerpuff Girls?"
Blossom shot a glance at her, "Shhh! Let's just read the rest of this first, okay? The professor hasn't even told us what the problem is, yet...")
This whole mess began about ten years ago. It was my first year as a professor of chemistry at the University of Townsville. It was a thrill to finally get the chance to start teaching, and the first semester was absolutely great. I was apparently named by the kids to be one of the 'cool' professors. As a result, everyone wanted to sign up for my class by the second semester. My first year couldn't have been going any better.
I became fast friends with one of my collegues, Dr. Ruth Langston...she was a professor of archaeology at the University, and the two of us engaged in all sorts of fascinating discussions. I was quite taken with her knowledge of science, but I must admit to being overwhelmed by her charm and beauty as well.
("The professor had a girlfriend?" Bubbles said. "Aww, that's so cute!"
"Yeah, I never knew," Blossom said. "Of course, this was...what, nine years before we were born? Wow..."
Buttercup frowned, "Yeah, yeah, fine, that's very interesting…but keep reading, already! I wanna get to the part with the danger!")
One day, during the second semester I was there, I was on my way to meet Dr. Langston...she and I usually had a cup of coffee together at the café at this time of the day. As I approached her office, though, I heard her talking to someone inside. I could just barely make out what they were saying...
"It's a very fascinating piece, Mr..." Dr. Langston said.
"I can't tell you," came the other voice. "Listen, you can have it. I don't want it, I don't want anything to do with it. I just want it out of my hands, all right?"
"Well...certainly, but...where did you acquire it? I need to know..."
"Please, just take it. Now, I have to leave..."
The door opened at this point, and I took a step back as the man she was talking to came out. He was a somewhat older man, with thinning gray hair and a face that started to show wrinkles…not from age, but more from stress it looked like. The man took the quickest of glances at me, then hurried off down the hall, heading for the exit. Dr. Langston appeared at the doorway, almost looking as though she was about to follow, but she noticed me and said, "Oh... Professor Utonium. I almost forgot about our coffee..."
"Yeah," I said with a chuckle. "Can't work too hard, you know...that's what the kids are there for." As she smiled at that, I glanced into the office, and spotted something on her desk. It was a strange-looking statue...it was carved in the shape of some kind of worm, but with claws. I didn't know a great deal about archeology, but this was definitely like nothing I've ever seen before. Adding to the curiosity of it was its position on the desk; it was contained in a glass jar, to preserve its condition I suppose, but on closer inspection, the statue was just...hovering inside. Nothing was propping it up.
All I got was a glance, though, because Dr. Langston closed the door after this and said, "Well, let's not keep that coffee waiting..."
"Indeed," I replied, and the two of us headed off for the café. Still, the image of that statue was still in my mind...where did it come from, and how was it suspended like that? I knew that I would want to have a closer look myself...my scientific curiosity was piqued, and I had to find out.
("But what about the man?" Bubbles asked. "Who was he?"
"Bubbles," Blossom said, "if the professor knew, then he'd say. But right now, we're not going to get through this if we have to stop every minute to talk about it. Let's just read, and we can talk about it when we're done reading, okay?"
"Okay... I'm sorry," Bubbles nodded, and stayed quiet as they continued reading...)
As we had our usual discussion over coffee at the café, I decided to bring up the statue. "That man that left just before I arrived...what was that item he brought you? I caught a glance of it on your desk, but..."
"Oh, nothing much," Dr. Langston said, pausing to take a sip of her coffee. "Just something he found. Didn't tell me where, unfortunately."
"Yes," I said. "It's very unique...I mean, I'm no expert, but...have you ever seen anything quite like it before?"
"Actually," she said, setting down her coffee for a moment, "...yes. I have a similar piece in my own collection..."
I was a bit surprised at this. "Really? But...what is it, then?"
She looked at me as if trying to make a decision. After a few seconds, she finally said, "I think I can trust you. I'm a pretty good judge of character...and I really need someone else that I can tell this to. But not here, in public..."
This change in her demeanor really took me by surprise. Concerned, I asked, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she said, but then after a pause, added, "...and everything. Look, I'll explain it to you, I promise. I know you need to head off to your class in a few minutes, so we'll talk about it after you get back. You know where the archeology vault is in the basement, right?" I nodded, and she continued, "Meet me there after your class. I'll explain everything there."
I nodded and finished my coffee. Dr. Langston glanced at her watch, and got up, starting to head back in the direction of her office. "I'll see you in a bit!" she said with a smile, and I simply smiled back and nodded. Looking at my own watch, I realized that it was almost time to teach my class, so I had to hurry up myself.
An hour passed...class went as usual, nothing particularly notable about it. I headed straight for the basement afterwards, and made my way through the halls to the archeology vault. Not many people came down in the basement, since it was all basically storage. This vault were actually a series of connecting rooms, filled with boxes containing all types of fossils or artifacts recovered from funded digs, all carefully catalogued and ready for study. I noticed as I approached the vault that the door was left open...it seemed strange to me, although I dismissed it at the time, guessing that Dr. Langston had just been a bit careless.
When I opened the door wider, though, I wasn't prepared for what I saw. To say that it came as a shock was an understatement...Ruth was lying on the ground, face-down, a pool of blood slowly building around her. Cuts and scrapes covered her arms, but most horrifying of all was her torso, which was...torn open, and hollow. It was as though something had gutted her, only they did it through her back.
("Eeep!" Bubbles cried out, clasping her hands over her mouth. Buttercup and Blossom looked shaken as well, but neither of them said anything...they just continued reading, now paying much more serious attention...)
I couldn't believe it...despite all my logic forcing the truth on me, I just couldn't believe that she was dead. Kneeling down next to her, I lifted one of her arms, checking her pulse at her wrist. As I sadly expected, there was none...however, I noticed a tiny piece of paper clenched in her hand. Carefully opening her fingers, I pried the crinkled-up paper out and unfolded it to take a look.
There was something wrapped up in the center of it...a small key. As I puzzled over it, I noticed a set of numbers scribbled on the inside of the paper as well. I recognized them as filing numbers immediately; everything in the archeology vault were indexed by them. I figured it was probably where she had put the piece she acquired earlier, or maybe where her duplicate piece was located. I gave Ruth's body a final glance and tried to regain my composure as I headed deeper into the vault.
I found myself questioning if I should even do this. Ruth was dead...I felt like I should have reported this to the authorities. But I couldn't explain it at the time...something seemed to draw me in, to find out for myself. It couldn't have just been my curiosity, because I knew my life would probably be in danger. No, it was more of a gut feeling...I just knew that I had to go and find the answers myself.
Girls, I know as you're reading this, you're probably worried, or frightened, and need some words of consolation. I can do my best in that regard, but I have not yet revealed why this is such a serious situation to begin with. As much as I can try console you, I'm not sure I can...after what I have learned, after what I will reveal to you hereafter, I find it difficult not to be afraid, myself. Afraid for us all...
TO BE CONTINUED...