. . . Don't ask where this came from. Just read it. And yes, the title came from Linkin Park's first studio album. Or their original group name. Depends on how much of a fan you are. =P For now, read on.
Disclaimer: I do not, and never will, own Ben Ten or any of the characters you recognize. However, the Hybrids belong to me.
The ship called the Antigone cruised through dark, star-studded space, the Plumbers symbol proudly on display. The intergalactic police force was well-respected by the galaxy over, but on this ship, a dangerous, top-secret experiment was taking place.
The commander of the ship walked into the center of the vessel, where they were prepared to move on to the next phase of their work. Behind the protective glass of the observation chamber, there were machines galore, along with a small group of human kids, all ranging from three to five in age. He felt a pang of pity for the sedated children, along with a determination for the surgery to be completed all the way. If these kids were to have any chance of surviving, they had to go through this.
"Everything prepared, Doctor?" he asked the man in charge of their work, who was overseeing the machines that were preparing the syringes for the emergency procedure.
Not looking up, he replied, "Yes, sir – we're all set. The surgery will begin when you're ready."
He glanced back through the glass again, at the children that needed this transplant to survive their severe genetic damage. Five girls and two boys – it was odd that there had been more girls with the same damage than boys – their lives rested in the balance of their success. The Antigone had been set to cruise, and everyone on this ship was watching, praying that they wouldn't fail. These kids depended on them to repair their damage; they would die if they failed.
"Alright," the captain finally said. "Let's get it started."
Nodding, the doctor flipped a switch, and the surgery got under way.
Syringes extended from little arms in the machines inside, poking holes into the skin and injecting a fluid into their blood – "Immunosuppressant's," explained the doctor. "To keep their bodies from rejecting the replacement genetic material."
The needles retracted from their bodies, and a new set were prepared while the drugs took effect on their bodies. These new injectors carried pieces of genetic material that would repair their own damage – assuming that they weren't rejected right away.
"Are you sure you couldn't use human DNA?" the captain asked during that crucial pause in the procedure.
"Human DNA wouldn't cut it for this sort of damage. We got the closest we could get for each one, but they're all from aliens."
Then the needles carrying what could be the children's salvation appeared, angling over them like cold, metal fairies with needles for wands and tubes for bodies. They hovered for an instant, but then plunged down into their skin, emptying their payload into their bloodstreams.
As one, the seven children shuddered as the new material passed through them, their faces contorting in unconscious pain, like that of a nightmare. The captain of the Plumber's ship whispered a prayer for their lives.
Let them live, he begged. For heaven's sake, please let them live!
They finally relaxed, their small bodies flat against the metal tables, faces peaceful.
The doctor checked one of the many computers that surrounded him in the observation room. "Their genetic damage is being repaired. The transfer was successful!"
The captain released the breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding, even as cheers erupted all over the ship. The kids were safe. Their genetic damage had been repaired. Soon, they would be returning to Earth, where their grateful parents would greet them.
And yet . . . the captain couldn't help but think that something wasn't right. It was illogical, he knew; all was well. There was no sign of danger from any unsavory beings in the vicinity of the ship. The kids no longer had critical damage. What would possibly happen?
An answer came in the form of a blaring alarm, coming from the computers that monitored the children. Their bodies were writhing, twisting horrifically as something happened to them from within.
"What's happening?" he demanded from the doctor.
He read the reports frantically. "The DNA that fixed their genetic damage is mutating them. It's changing their genotype!"
Behind the glass screen, the changes were becoming clearly obvious. The skins of the kids were becoming different: one girl stayed the same size, but became off-white, with her facial features shifting. A boy grew bigger, and had plated armor growing all over his body, destroying the simple nightshirt that was covering his body. A girl's skin turned red and golden yellow, with flaps of leathery skin growing between her spindly, clawed arms, and her shrinking legs.
Yet another girl was being covered in crystal of the rarest kind, making her look like a living gemstone. The other boy was turning into an amalgam of nearly every water-dwelling Earth creature, in particular growing a fishtail over his legs. A girl became what looked like a living, walking swamp, with a body odor to match – he could smell methane from the other side of the glass.
But the one that had captured the captain's horrified attention the most was the girl in the center, a five-year-old whom he'd picked up himself. She had hugged his arm like a teddy bear on the way up to the Antigone, and had asked him, "I'll be okay once it's over, right? I'll see Mommy and Daddy again?"
"Everything will be alright, I promise," he had told her then.
She didn't look alright as she shook on top of the table she was resting on, her body becoming a mixture of dark blue and ice blue, and fleshy things ripping free from her back and neck, making her look like she was turning into a moth.
That must've been too much for her body – and the sedatives – to suppress. She woke up with a scream of pain, but her voice wasn't the sweet one he had heard just a few scant hours prior. It was colder, more emotionless, and much more dangerous.
Her scream seemed to have set off a chain reaction, because the six other kids woke up right after she did; their voices were as pain-filled as hers. The girl's eyes opened, changed; they were still green, like they had been before the surgery, but they were vivid, pupil-less, and seemingly compound.
All of them stopped screaming suddenly, as if on signal. Paralyzed with shock, the captain could only watch, along with the rest of the crew, as they all slipped off their tables onto their feet. The armored boy and crystallized girl made the most noise as they moved: a loud thud in his case, a clinking sound in hers.
The green-eyed girl was at the head of them all, her eyes seeming to blaze with hatred at those on the other side of the window. She stopped her movement just scant inches from the glass, opposite of the captain, her huge eyes staring directly into his.
Absently, not really sure what he was doing, he reached his hand up, pressing it flat against the window. "Just relax, honey," he said, not really sure if she could hear him. "You're gonna be okay. Just relax . . ."
The girl stared at him for a bit longer, her expression unfathomable. Then she breathed in, than out; a covering of frost clouded up his vision from her exhalation.
The captain stared, wondering what she was doing. He pulled out his firearm and set the energy beams for a stun setting, in case things got out of hand.
What's she doing? He thought. She's clouded the glass, but for what?
He quickly turned and pulled up images of the donor aliens that had given their genetic material to save the kids. He researched the girl: what had matched up with her DNA?
Then he saw the image of the alien; read its powers; saw its name.
"Uh oh . . ."
Her clawed, four-fingered hand, balled into a fist, smashed through the frozen window.
The glass was breached, and the alarm attuned to the sound of breaking glass went crazy. Armored hands, the hands of the kids, began to tear at the broken window, enlarging it so they could all fit through.
"Look out!" he yelled, as he saw glowing green eyes – not the blue girl's, but the one with red fins – beginning to shine with power.
Neuroshock blasts erupted from the eyes, blowing a hole in the opposite wall, and convincing everyone to retreat from the observation room – in a hurry. Before the blast doors sealed off the area, the captain saw a last glimpse of the moth-girl, her green eyes livid as she stepped through the broken glass.
The crew held an emergency meeting on the bridge. Screens showed what the security cameras all over the ship were viewing – and with each passing moment, the situation was getting worse. With the children out of the room where they had been operated on, they hadn't taken long to find a way out of the observatory and start exploring the ship. It was only a matter of time that they would find their way up to the bridge – and who knew what would happen when that happened. The video was showing that as they moved, their DNA became more deeply rooted into their bodies, making them bigger. Already, the Necrofriggian girl looked more like a half-grown version of that race, and the Vaxasaurian boy was growing an inch a minute.
The only ones not out there were the Pisciss Volann boy and the Aerophibian girl; the latter brought a small amount of relief to the crew. No telling what would happen if she started using her blasts in the ship again.
"How are we going to stop them?" the captain asked. "They're toddlers with alien powers, and they're pretty much having a temper tantrum right now."
As one, everyone looked towards the doctor, who stammered, "I- I don't know. I had no idea that their transplants would mutate in this way. I don't know how we can stop them."
Before despair over their situation could settle in, shards harder and sharper than diamonds pierced the door that sealed the bridge off from the rest of the ship. Powerful sonic shockwaves forced them all to the floor, covering their ears as the sheer sonic force made the tears increase. Finally, massive hands gripped the sides of the rip and tore it cleanly open.
The Necrofriggian girl stepped through the gap, her narrow fingers wrapped around a gun she must have found somewhere in the ship. The Sonorosian girl, the Vaxasaurian boy, and the Petrosapien girl followed her in, ready to fight.
"Knock knock," the blue-skinned girl said.
He was taken off-guard by her changed voice – it was like she had matured into a girl twice her age in minutes, and her appearance backed it up. The other three kids looked similar.
She rose the gun up and fired, only for her fire to be returned by the Plumbers, who had set their weapons for stun. But, they were the ones stunned in the end when she suddenly turned intangible, making the rounds go straight through her, bouncing off the armor of the boy and reflect off the crystalline body of the Petrosapien girl.
Several Plumbers fell from the stun rounds that had bounced back at them, and the captain gave the order to head for the escape pods, if only to get out of the room and out of range of the powers of these new hybrids.
They wouldn't leave yet – they had a duty to these children; to make sure they were safe, and to bring them back to their families. Who knew if their parents would accept them back, but they had to try.
They ran through the corridors, glancing over their shoulders every few seconds to check if the kids were chasing them. Strangely – especially concerning their earlier behavior – they weren't. They hadn't wanted to kill them; they had just wanted them off the bridge. Not like they could fly it – but what if they could? They had seemed to double their age in just a few minutes after their genetic mutations had manifested. Maybe their minds had matured as well?
The bay hadn't been disturbed by the kids yet. Maybe this wasn't what they were interested in. All the pods were in their cradles, still untouched by any hands.
Explosions suddenly rocked the Antigone, coming from outside, from space. The first officer rushed to the sole porthole in the chamber and peered out. "No!"
He saw a ship – that of their enemy, Viglax – bearing down on theirs. It thought it was a warship, and was attacking without any reason other than it was a Plumber vessel. It didn't even know there were children aboard!
The captain whirled once his officer had given the report and started heading back out. Aggressive as these children were now, he had to try and convince them they were in great danger again. The time was limited.
Luckily, he didn't have to go far away from the bay to find some of them. The Methanosian girl, the Vaxasaurian boy, and the Petrosapien girl were bearing down on him from the direction of the bridge once he had stepped outside.
"Listen to me!" he pleaded. "You're in danger, and you have to leave with us. It's the only way you can get a chance to reverse your mutations!"
Before the kids – any of them – could reply, another explosion shook the Antigone, knocking all three of them down. The captain staggered as well, only to be caught by a few of his officers and dragged back into the bay, sealing the doors behind them.
"The kids –" he tried to say.
"There's another ship not far away. We can link up with them and come back for the kids."
Try as he might, he couldn't make his crew sway. As they blasted off in their cramped pods, he could've sworn he saw the Antigone jump to lightspeed, but then the pod turned and he wasn't sure what he'd seen.
The official report had been that the Antigone had been destroyed, with no traces left behind for study. Most of the crew had been saved, but they hadn't been able to save the kids, because the software that had been installed to monitor their health would not allow them to be taken off life support – even to save their lives from a more deadly force than genetic damage.
Even as he had comforted the parents that had lost their children, the captain had to wonder if they report was true. He was pretty sure that the ship had managed to get away before they had reached the large Plumber vessel, but there was no trace of the ship since that horrible day. Everything seemed to back up the report.
Yet, ten years later, nearly a year after the invasion of the Highbreeds, he still wondered.
The door of his home opened, and his grandson walked in, along with his granddaughter and her sort-of boyfriend.
"Grandpa Max? You alright?" Ben asked.
Max Tennyson shook his head slightly: not to answer his grandson's question, but to bring himself back to the present. "I'm not really sure, Ben."
Author's Note: Muhahahaha. And so it begins. =3 (Yeah, I know I might've messed up the dates for when Max was an active Plumber, but I'm trying my best to set it for realism.)
Hey, if you have any ideas for Ben's new aliens, let me know. Otherwise, I'll just mix and match some of his old aliens and use that for his set. =P
Comments, crit, questions, and cakes are very much welcome.