Author's Note: This story is based off of an RPG that I played in BZP's Completely Off-Topic forum, called Darkness Rising. The game folded before it could shape up to anything, so I went and made the story larger. The characters you recognize belong to Scott Westerfeld. The other characters belong to the players that created them; I'll perform their individual disclaimers as they are introduced.

But enough of my rambling.


The Hudson River wound, cutting the land in half. It eventually joined the Atlantic Ocean, opening its maw to a bite out of the watery apple that was that massive body of salty liquid. And floating on the island near the junction area . . .

New York City. Manhattan. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps.

Or, thought Melissa, it never slept until now.

The Mindcaster sat in the shotgun position of Jonathan's car, her lancing tape playing. True, she had control now in mind-loud areas, after Madeline had touched her, but this wasn't the Tusla mall they were going to. This was a huge city full of mind-noise, and there was no such thing as not being too careful.

Beside her, Jonathan was at the wheel. His tension might have been because of the agonizing traffic or the message that Rex had sent them recently, but her powers told her everything that he was thinking.

He wanted the Blue Time to come again, come and release him from the Earth's gravity. Free him . . . and free Jessica again too.

Melissa sighed and addressed him sharply. "Eyes on the road, Flyboy. I don't want to slam into something just because you were thinking about Jess again."

Jonathan jolted in his seat, like he had been half-asleep, and then a guilty look appeared on his face again like always when he was reminded of the state the Flame-Bringer was in. Classic survivor's guilt. Always blaming himself for what had happened during Samhain, and no amount of reassurances from Jessica Day herself would make it ebb.

"Right," he said hastily. "New York's the destination, right?"

"Yeah. Rex said there's something up with the darklings back in Bixby last time he contacted us. New York's the perfect place to find new recruits."

"Well, we better get there soon," the Acrobat replied, speeding up as the traffic thinned and he could reach the speed limit.

They continued on to a city filled with people, and quite a few awakening Midnighters.