A/N: Just a oneshot I found and decided to post, 'cuz it's 1 in the morning and what else am I going to do?
BTW, This was based off a theory I had that Visitors could be corrupted by Nightmarens, if they allowed themselves to be. After Wizeman was defeated and Reala took over (my personal head-canon here), this was a primary way to increase the Nightmarens' numbers. Also, extremely creative and/or lucid dreamers can make their own personal companions.
Disclaimer: NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams is not mine. (le duh)
Typically, Nightopia was bright, sunny and colorful, but it did have places that most would ordinarily deem "dull". Miranda's Nightopia was one of those places. It was a gray mix between a factory and a laboratory, and the only light came from electric lamps and the occasional window. Miranda was perfectly happy, though. Strolling through this mechanized lab all her own, with Rikki, the small chinchilla-like creature she had created, perched on her left shoulder, she was happy. Here where she was really, truly smart and appreciated.
Something moved in the corner of her eye. Miranda turned sharply to face it, but saw nothing but shadows. Rikki poked his head out from under her curly hair and hissed, only adding to her anxiety. When Rikki got hostile like this, they were clearly in danger. She took in the churning, exposed gears, ladders, and moving platforms, planning out escape routes in advance for whenever this hidden threat showed itself…or when Rikki revealed its position.
Cold blue eyes watched her every movement as she scanned the room. Black lips stretched into a cruel smile as he sensed her apprehension. He had been watching her every night for quite some time now, and he knew this girl would serve his purposes well.
The feeling of being watched sent a prickle along her spine. There was something stalking her nearby, she knew it. Rikki hissed again, this time digging his little claws into Miranda's shoulder. She bit her lip and turned to see what was stalking her.
She gasped at the sight of icy blue eyes gazing at her from a tall, powerful-looking silhouette with what looked like horns curving out from the head. She took a few uneasy steps back while Rikki hissed and spat at the threatening creature.
A strange, nasally chuckle rippled out of the creature. "No need to be afraid tonight, Miranda."
Miranda gasped at the chill that ran through her. "H-How do you know my name?"
The creature chuckled again. "Oh, Miranda, you have such a strong Ideya of Intelligence, why don't you use it? I've been watching you. I saw you when you created your little pet and introduced yourself to it."
The creature came closer, and Miranda noticed he was actually floating several inches off the ground. She instinctively took another step away from him to maintain their distance. Her floating stalker grinned. "You don't need to be afraid of me, Miranda. I haven't come to hurt you. Just to make a proposition."
That clinched it. Miranda turned and ran, aiming for the sliding platform several lengths ahead. She had barely made it five paces when he caught up with her and cut her off.
"Alright, bad choice of words. My apologies. I merely meant to make you an offer."
"Of what?" Miranda narrowed her eyes suspiciously, making sure she was more than an arm's length away from him.
"A job," he answered. "One I think you would enjoy."
Miranda raised an eyebrow. "Really."
He leaned in closer. "How would you like to continue to have dreams like this all the time? Without ever waking up?"
Miranda frowned. "You want to kill me."
"Nonsense," the creature chuckled. "Dead people don't dream. Believe me, I know. You would be much more useful alive. But as I was saying, I could make it possible for you to stay here, in your dreams, indefinitely. You wouldn't die, just stay here."
Miranda frowned. "And why would I want that? And what's your motive? And who are you, anyway?"
The creature smiled. "My name is Reala, ruler of the realm of Nightmare. I've seen your accomplishments, and want you to join my ranks."
"Nightmare?" The girl frowned. "Give me one good reason I should join you in Nightmare."
"I need you," Reala stated simply. "I need someone who can create living creatures with the capacity for obedience and loyalty. I need someone to help me expand my realm's numbers. Someone to make my subjects powerful." He was extremely close now, so close she feel his breath on her face and in her hair. "I've seen what you can do, Miranda, and how intelligent you truly are. I can help you reach your potential. I recognize your gift of intelligence. Do those in the Waking World recognize it? Tell me, what in the Waking World is worth going back to?"
Miranda lowered her head and gazed at the floor. Reala was right. Here, she was recognized as smart. Here, she knew how to make all kinds of things. Here, the ruler of a realm had come requesting her services. What did she have to go back to in the Waking World? An absent father, an overcritical mother, and a superior brother.
Reala's clawlike fingernails hovered over her right shoulder. Rikki darted over and snapped at his finger, taking a little bite-sized bit of ashen flesh off it. Reala sharply jerked his hand away, muttering a strange word that sounded like a curse.
Miranda was too busy contemplating her choice to notice. Only the questioning, smooth voice of Reala caught her attention. "So, what is your decision? Continuing to live your life overshadowed by others, or joining me?"
He extended a hand to her, almost like a gentleman at a ball asking her to dance. Miranda looked at his hand, then firmly placed hers in it.
Three things happened all at once. Rikki jumped off her shoulder and scampered away, Reala's fingers snapped around her hand like a trap, and Miranda was nearly overcome with nausea. For one second, she felt as if part of her was being ripped out and rearranged. When her vision cleared, she saw that Reala was grinning cruelly, her loyal companion was gone, and she had changed.
She pulled her hand out of Reala's grip and looked at it. Her fingers had grown longer and ended in thin, hard points. She looked down at herself and saw that all of her had changed. Her limbs were longer and sleeker, and her skin had developed a bronze, almost metallic sheen.
She looked up into Reala's eyes. He smiled wider and offered his hand again. "Welcome to the ranks of the Nightmarens…Monstoka."
The female who had once been called Miranda smiled in return. "Thank you."
As Reala led Monstoka away to Nightmare, Rikki paused in climbing a network of pipes that ran along the wall to gaze sadly and longingly after his former mistress. He was the only one that looked back.