Disclaimer: Any recognizable characters that appear in this fic are property of their respective contributors at ThatGuyWithTheGlasses , therefore I do not own them, nor do I intend any disrespect toward either the character or the contributor portraying them. Also any concepts/ideas borrowed from Power Rangers/Super Sentai are property of Saban and Toei, respectively. Any other properties mentioned/used are also property of their respective owners.
Authors' Notes: A few things I should probably mention: Some of the storyline of this will mention a few things later in the story that may be considered spoilers for Suburban Knights. Also, I should probably warn you that for the first couple chapters things are probably going to move a bit slow because I need to get everyone introduced and together, and get through a lot of setup to the plot before we can get into the story proper. Hopefully, though it shouldn't take me more than two or two and a half chapters (including this prologue/teaser), so please don't get discouraged!
A thin fog rolled over the dreary, rain soaked street in one of the more suburban neighborhoods in Chicago. Stirred by a faint breeze, the fog's spectral tendrils snaked through the quiet street, slowly wrapping the rows of quiet houses into its grasp.
Most of the other residents of the neighborhood paid little mind to the mist, or to the light, steady rain shower that accompanied it, as they went about their usual morning routines. Their minds were occupied with the same thoughts that they were each morning: Were they going to have enough time to catch breakfast before heading out to the office? Little Susie's ballet recital was this afternoon at 3:00. Where the hell were their shoes? They'd be late for work if they didn't find their shoes.
Like his neighbors, the Nostalgia Critic mostly ignored the rain. It wasn't like it was something out of the ordinary for early autumn, after all. And, like them, he went through his usual morning routine, his mind occupied with thoughts of the work that needed to be done that day.
Unlike his neighbors, however, a note of disquiet played at the back of his mind, heightening his senses with a certain restlessness and mild paranoia. For the most part, he could keep this sense of unease from forming itself into conscious thought just by keeping his mind occupied on whatever task was currently in front of him. But, no matter what he tried, he could not completely dispel this feeling. It reminded him of its existence in other ways—a tingling in the back of his neck, an imagined movement in his peripheral vision, an inescapable feeling that he was forgetting something.
Something was wrong with the world, it tried to tell him, and it wasn't going to let him rest until he figured out what it was.
But what, Critic wondered, could possibly be wrong?
In the three months that had followed since this odd feeling had first struck, he'd spent several restless nights thinking over every possible thing that could be wrong to no avail. Sure, he could think of the usual things that were wrong, but none of those had ever made him nearly as uneasy in the way that whatever this was about was.
The scent of coffee, strong but warm and inviting, pierced through his clouded senses, momentarily awakening him from his troubled daze. Without really thinking, he began to pour himself a cup. Sure, he knew that the caffeine-born alertness wouldn't help ease this unrest in his mind, but it was still better than trying to make sense of it all running on what little sleep he had managed to get.
Outside, a tree branch, animated by a sudden wind, rapped against the kitchen window. Critic, startled by this sudden noise, nearly dropped the mug of steaming hot liquid as his eyes darted toward the window.
"Jeezus," he sighed, rubbing his forehead, "It's just a tree. What the hell is wrong with me?"
He started to look away from the window, but quickly found himself drawn back to the fog that lay just beyond. For a brief instant, an image flashed in his vision, burning itself into his mind.
In his mind, the quiet gray sky had deepened into an inky blackness far darker and colder than any night he could ever recall. The steady rain and wispy fog were painted with an unearthly shade of crimson, as if the world itself were bleeding. Shapes, unidentifiable but numerous, lurked in the ruby haze, slowly advancing upon him.
And then there was noise. A loud, haunting wail, like a siren, cut through the air like a sharp knife, crying out above all other noises.
Shuddering, Critic blinked away the nightmarish hallucination. The dark sky, the blood colored fog—that wasn't real, he told himself. It was nothing more than a vivid nightmare produced from a particularly bad night's sleep. Some dreams were like that, he knew. Some dreams had a tendency to be so vivid that they stayed in your memory even after waking up, making you feel as if they really happened.
"Critic?" he heard a voice ask nervously, "Everything alright?"
Snapping from his haunted daydream, he turned to see his brother. The Other Guy looked at his younger brother with concern in his eyes. The Other Guy knew that his brother had been troubled by something for the past three months, and admittedly, he himself was feeling slightly distressed by this as well.
Hesitantly, Critic gave a second glance toward the window. The sky outside was the overcast gray that it was suppose to be, not the endless darkness that he had imagined.
"Everything's fine," he said in a tone that suggested that he might not have completely meant what he said.
The Other Guy had noticed the distracted note in Critic's voice, but decided against saying anything about it. He didn't necessarily like seeing his brother seem so bothered by something that neither of them could explain, but he knew that trying to force him to talk about it was a pointless and futile effort. It was better just to take his word for it and move on to other concerns.
"If you say so," he said, shrugging dismissively before reaching to pour himself a cup of coffee, "But, don't forget; you've still got a couple reviews to film and edit today. Plus, there's still a couple more than we need to get to work scripting."
With one last glance at the gray morning sky outside, Critic nodded, turning his attention back to reality.
Everything's fine, he told himself again, it's just my imagination. Nothing's wrong.
The morning sun flitted gleefully through the curtains of the little Texas apartment, falling upon the sleeping form of a brown haired young woman. The light prodded her face gently as birds outside sang a cheerful promises of a glorious day ahead.
Almost as if to protest the morning's annoying chipper wake-up call, the woman let out a soft groan, twisting her body away from the sun's rays and pulling the blankets over her head, like a makeshift cocoon. But the morning was relentless as the bird's song became even more joyful, and the sunlight just a little brighter.
With an annoyed sigh, MarzGurl crawled out of bed and got dressed, admitting defeat to the aggressively merry morning. Couldn't the morning have a little sympathy for her? She wondered as she rubbed the last bit of sleep from her eyes. It was the first time in over three months that she'd been able to get more than two consecutive hours of untroubled sleep, and she had hoped to hang onto that for as long as possible.
Much like the Critic, she too had been troubled by a mysterious sense of uneasiness rising in the pit of her stomach. And, much like with the Critic, it was starting to crawl into her sleep, invading her dreams.
She too, dreamt of threatening shapes moving through a glowing, blood red mist. She too heard the shrieking cries of these otherworldly beasts. She dreamt of running for her life as these monstrous, faceless shadows drifted behind her. She didn't know what would happen if these creatures—whatever they were—caught her, but she was certain that she had no intentions of finding out.
Each time she dreamt this, she never remembered how it'd ended. All she remembered before waking up was hearing someone behind her screaming as the shadowy wraith-like creatures caught up to them. She looked over her shoulder at the captured figure as she continued to run. In her dream, she knew who this figure was, and had even shouted their name as she watched them get captured. But by morning, the name was forgotten and the figure's face appeared blurred and unrecognizable in her memory, as if they were just any other stranger in a crowd.
She hadn't told anyone about these nightmares, yet. Mostly because she feared that she would be considered crazy and that no one would believe her if she told them. Also, she felt that it'd be better to try to figure out what exactly this all meant on her own before she told anyone about it.
She'd even tried consulting dream interpretation books in an attempt to glean some sort of symbolic meaning behind the dreams, but she hadn't found any interpretations that didn't seem like complete and total nonsense to her (Of course, she thought, what was she expecting? It wasn't like anyone actually took those books very seriously, anyways).
Naturally, after the first time she had this dream, she just wrote it off as a onetime nightmare; nothing too out of the ordinary, and certainly not anything to show concern over. The second time had been freaky, but still not enough to bother her too much. It wasn't until the third or fourth time of waking up from the same nightmare with a nagging feeling that something was missing, before she started to show a little concern.
Now, here she was, possibly on her seventh run of this troubling dream in the past three months. Between the lack of restful sleep, and not being any closer to understanding the whole thing, she was starting to feel like she might just be going insane.
But something in this unexplainable restlessness that welled within her suggested that she was neither going insane, nor was this just any simple dream.
No, there was something much more to the whole thing. The restlessness and the weird dreams were definitely tied together. Whatever it meant, it was definitely trying to tell her something.
That much she could be certain about.
She sat down and turned on her computer, trying to push the strange dream out of her mind as she prepared to film another review, she decided that whatever these dreams were trying to tell her, it was probably hinting at something major brewing just beyond the horizon.
For now, she thought, the only option she had was to try to focus on her work, and try to deal with it as it came.
Sleep wasn't something that came naturally to The Spoony One.
Even before three months ago, he'd been prone to having nightmares that rendered him sleepless. But, the nightmares he'd been having in the past few months had all but completely turned the Arizonian into a total insomniac.
Like his fellow reviewers, he'd been plagued by the same dream, accompanied by the same terrifying feeling of uneasiness. But, unlike the others, he at least knew part of the cause of his restlessness.
Not but at least two weeks prior to the advent of these nightmares, Doctor Insano had mysteriously dropped off the face of the Earth, leaving very little traces behind.
And, it wasn't just the mad-scientist that was missing, either. His son and his entire lab had vanished along with him as well.
It shouldn't have bothered Spoony nearly as much as it did. After all, the wild-eyed mad scientist and his wacky experiments drove him crazy. He should have been happy that Insano was no longer there to bother him.
On the contrary, however, it worried him greatly. Not in the disappearance itself, so much as in the peculiar way that Insano had been acting leading up to it. Insano acting weird was nothing new—it was, after all, pretty much the only way that people knew that he could act.
But, usually the mad scientist's actions were typically flighty and over-the-top in nature—dangerously close to outright comical at some times—not the hushed, solemn, almost subdued mannerisms he had displayed.
And that made Spoony more than a little suspicious.
The few times he saw Insano outside of his lab he was like a man possessed, muttering what seemed like random numbers and meaningless statistics under his breath. He'd even found a few of Insano's notes laying around; hastily sketched equations and rough blueprint like drawings, more of a reminder of things he intended to work on than any real, finalized schematics.
But without any real context of what they were being applied to, the notes were nothing more than meaningless scribbles to the gamer
There was one thing, he remembered, that stood out as particularly strange. Scribbled on the edge of some of the notes was the word 'Nexus'. He'd also heard Insano mention this 'Nexus' thing in during some of his mumblings as well.
Now, for what felt like the hundredth time, he was going through the few meager clues the good doctor had left him, hoping in vain that he'd simply overlooked the vital clue that could tell him where Insano had vanished to, and why.
His eyes, bleary and bloodshot from the lack of sleep, ran over the complex equations written on the scraps of paper that littered his desk, trying his hardest to put himself in the mindset of the mad scientist in an attempt to figure out just what these numbers and figures could be applied to in order to make sense.
In the corner of the room, Burton hummed quietly. A faint, grayish static flickered across the blackness of the robot's diamond shaped pupil as bits of data were processed through his sensors at a rapid speed. Even with a fairly decent understanding of the mathematics involved, there were some parts of the equations that were just a little too complex and complicated for Spoony to follow without difficulty.
Because of this, he'd run the equations through Burton figuring that, if the vital missing piece to the puzzle existed, then it'd most likely lay in one of the parts that he himself was having trouble following.
"Hey, Burton," Spoony said, looking up from the notes, "I've been thinking. You think that Insano disappearing has got something to do with those really fucked up dreams I've been having? You know, like this is just part of some experiment of his or something. I mean, it'd make sense, right?"
His eye still flickering, Burton turned his head toward his sleep deprived companion.
"Based on the relatively short time span between the doctor's disappearance and the start of your re-occurring nightmare," the blue robot replied, "and based upon the history between you and the doctor, there's a high likelihood that the two events are interconnected. Of course, without any concrete evidence, it's merely just speculation."
"I knew you'd say that," Spoony sighed.
"If you knew what I was going to say," the robot replied, "then why did you ask?"
Wearily running his fingers through his dark hair, Spoony ignored Burton's sarcastic remark, instead opting to sneak a half-second glance at his watch. 6 o'clock, his watch read, inciting a low, frustrated growl to escape the man's throat.
For a moment, he couldn't help but laugh to himself as he realized that he had no idea whether the clock meant that it was six in the morning, or six at night.
Either way, Spoony yawned, he'd been up way too damn long, and probably should make some attempt at sleep lest he accidentally fall asleep while filming. If he thought that some of the fans got riled up over slight delays between reviews, he'd hate to imagine what would happen if they found out that he had to delay a review because he'd ruined most of his takes by falling asleep during it.
"We're not getting anywhere with this, Burton," Spoony said, "What do you say that we give up and call it a night— "
"—Day," Burton corrected him "The sun's currently rising."
"Whatever," the gamer rolled his eyes, "Either way, if I don't try and get some sleep soon, I'm gonna end up crazier than Insano. I'll try to get a hold of Linkara later and see if he's had any better luck at figuring this shit out."
The blue robot nodded in agreement, or rather made a movement that resembled nodding. With a faint click, he fell deathly still, his eye returning to the deep, solid black that it usually was. An eerie, almost unsettling silence fell over the room as Burton entered sleep mode, leaving Spoony all but alone in the darkness of his room.
With a sigh, he looked over toward his bed, silently praying to himself that when, and if he managed to fall asleep this time, he didn't have the same messed up dream as the other times. And if he did, he hoped that maybe this time something different would happen that would give him the answers he needed to solve this mystery for good.
By the looks of things, Linkara was having just about the same luck as Spoony when it came to figuring out what his former arch-nemesis was up to.
It was bad enough that what little sleep he could get was filled with freakish nightmares, he thought, but now they had to deal with Insano disappearing as well? If he wasn't used to fighting intergalactic threats and such, this might have all been a little too much for him.
Actually, he corrected himself; it wasn't just Insano that was missing. Linksano, Insano's brother, had also gone missing roughly around the same time. And, he'd heard from the Nostalgia Chick that Doctor Block and Doctor Tease had also gone M.I.A around the same time.
When that many mad scientists (although, one wasn't sure that they could count Block as a "mad scientist", she was just more frustrated than anything else) go missing at the exact same time, Linkara knew that there was more than enough reason to panic.
Where they'd gone, and what they were planning, was not something that Linkara was easily able to figure out.
"Linkara," a robotic voice said, breaking his chain of thought, "We've searched nearly every possibly planet and dimension on record, and so far there have been no signs of Doctor Insano or the other scientists."
"That's impossible," Linkara sighed heavily, "Are you sure you ran a through scan, Pollo?"
"Yes," the blue, box shaped robot replied, "I've scanned every dimension multiple times."
"They've gotta be hiding somewhere," Linkara said, "If they're hiding out in another dimension, then the scanners would be picking up some sort of anomaly, right?"
"I've already checked that. Aside from Lord Vyce's signal in that dimension we left him in, there haven't been any notable anomalies in time-space."
Linkara heaved a deep sigh of frustration, rubbing his forehead with his fingertips. Why was Insano always like this? Somehow, even when he was nowhere in the universe (however he'd managedto pull that one off) he was still somehow able to cause trouble for the comic reviewer.
If anything, it was the complete absence of Insano and the other mad-scientists that seemed to be causing the most problems. If there had been an attack from some horrible, mutated, abomination of science or a nuclear powered death robot, or any of the mad-scientist's antics, that was one thing.
That he could handle.
It was the quiet that was killing him. From experience, he knew that when things got this quiet, something really bad was bound to happen. And seeing as even Insano had decided to jump ship on the universe, it was only logical to assume that it was really bad.
Iron Liz entered, yawning as she tiredly rubbed her eyes. A soft, amused smile spread across her face as she noticed the troubled frown upon her friend and roommate's lips. Linkara shivered involuntarily at the sight of her calmness. Something was unsettling about the way she smiled, but he couldn't figure out what it was. Her smile wasn't any different than it'd been in the past, right?
"So," she said, settling down next to him, "I'm guessing you had that nightmare again?"
"Not just me," Linkara replied, "Last time I talked to Spoony, he'd said he'd been experiencing the same thing. The Critic mentioned something that seemed similar as well. And, although neither MarzGurl nor the Chick have said anything, I'm willing to be that they've been having the same dreams too. "
"Kind of makes you wonder how many other people this is happening to." Liz said, absently glancing over his shoulder at the computer screen.
Various websites for local, national, and international newspapers and news channels littered nearly every bit of free desktop space upon the screen. Intently, Linkara cycled through them, only pausing to glance at a head-line here and there.
"Not a lot, apparently," Linkara replied, "If more people were having these dreams, or if it was localized to one or two areas, then there would be some sort of reports about it somewhere. But, so far I'm not finding anything. And, nothing has been turning up in Pollo's scans, either."
"Well," Liz suggested, "Maybe it's just a coincidence. Not everything is part of some weird alien plot to take over the world, you know?"
Given that a lot of unusual events in his recent life had some sort of supernatural or extraterrestrial hand in them, Linkara felt he should protest. However, he chose to say nothing. He couldn't deny that he had his doubts; maybe he and the others were trying to find something in nothing.
"Maybe you're right," he said reluctantly, "Maybe I'm just freaking out over nothing. But, I dunno…something seems a little too off about everything for it just to be coincidence."
For a moment, Linkara could have sworn that he caught a flash of something in his roommate's expression.
"You alright?" Liz asked, noticing the troubled frown on the comic reviewer's face.
Linkara blinked, assuring himself that whatever had seen hadn't been there. Her expression hadn't bizarrely flickered like a candle into something eerie and unsettling. She had always been smiling, and there was nothing unsettling about that.
"Y-yeah," he replied, "I guess I'm just a little more tired than I thought."
Iron Liz's smile spread to a grin as she stood up, giving the comic reviewer a quick pat on the shoulder.
"Hey," Liz said, "I've got the day off today, so I'm thinking about making pancakes or something for breakfast. You want any?"
Again, Linkara observed the RPG reviewer's face, watching for any strange or unusual flashes to occur, thus confirming whether or not he was just seeing things.
However, this time, nothing occurred to betray any hidden emotions that may have been lying underneath that smile.
"Y-yeah," he replied, rubbing his eyes "Sure. I'll be there in a minute. I just need to finish up some stuff here."
"Take your time" Liz said, as she started to leave, "I'm pretty sure that I can take care of fixing breakfast on my own. That is, if 90s Kid hasn't decided the refrigerator needed to be more badass."
Linkara smiled as he watched Liz disappear behind the doorway. He had to have just been hallucinating. Everything was as it had always been, wasn't it?
The Nostalgia Chick had managed to do something that her fellow reviewers had been unable to: She managed to not become troubled by her nightmares.
Admittedly, it wasn't exactly easy for her to ignore these nightmares, or the nagging sense of dread that usually followed. But, she had other things in her life that demanded her full attention, and therefore she couldn't allow herself very long to devote to figuring it out.
However, there were a few moments whenever the thoughts slipped through the cracks into her conscious thoughts. Moments when it felt like she was in one of those episodes of the Twilight Zone, where some guy just stops by someplace that seems like any other American small town on the surface, but is really hiding some dark secret, like everyone in the town are really aliens or something. Except here, it felt more like the entire world had established some elaborate ruse to conceal its secret.
If that were the case, she wondered, then what secret could the entire Earth possibly be hiding? And, for that matter, if the entire population of Earth (minus herself) were in on this secret, then what exactly was the point of keeping one, then?
So logically, she came to the conclusion that it was just her imagination acting up from spending too many nights sifting through old Twilight Zone episodes while looking for the right clips to help illustrate a comparison to the thematic elements of the movie she was reviewing.
She sat there in the coffee shop, half-listening to a lady with a very thick Brooklyn accent complain to barista about how she should be fired because she'd messed up her order. The clerk kept silent, but the furrow in her brow silently said that she might not have gotten it wrong had the lady not changed her order at least six different times in the span of two minutes.
Normally, this was the type of thing that was so normal for a place like this, that it wouldn't register on Chick's radar, but the lady was making such a scene, that it was starting to disturb her thoughts.
As she cast a quick, annoyed glare across the table, something caught her eye, diverting her attention away from the loud woman and her rant. A group of people sat at a table, just to the left of the counter. All of them were clad in strange nearly identical costumes that looked more like something that one would find as monster foot-solider characters in a fantasy LARP than a New York City coffee house at 8:30 in the morning.
All of them, except one, wore very thick, paper-white body make-up that made them almost seem like mannequins. But, most bizarre was the face-masks that they wore. Like the body make-up, these too were white as snow, broken only by a thick stripe of color running down the center of their face. How these people didn't suffocate was a question Chick wondered. There were no visible eye, ear, nose, or mouth holes anywhere to be seen, yet this didn't seem to bother the costumed people, who continued to go about their normal business.
The other member of the group (the one that the Chick assumed must have been their leader), was dressed in an equally bizarre fashion, preferring to hide his features under a dark, heavy hooded robe. His face, much like his companions, was covered. But, unlike them, he wore an metal face mask, designed with a slightly dragonish appearance to it.
However, as it seemed, everyone was going about their normal business, as if these weirdly cloaked people were not anything slightly unusual. Not a single person even did a double take as they passed by them.
"Hey, Nella," Chick asked, nudging the curly-haired woman sitting next to her, "Is there a convention in town that I wasn't aware of or something?"
"No," Nella replied slowly, "If there was, I'm pretty sure I would have been going to it. Why do you ask?"
"No reason," Chick said with a slight air of sarcasm "Just there's a group of freaky cosplayers over there, and all."
At the mention of cosplay, Nella's face lit up like a Christmas tree. Excitedly, she began to peer around the room, praying that the cosplayers in question were of the Doctor Who variety. But, to no avail was she able to spot anyone who might have looked like a cosplayer.
"Where?" she asked, "I don't see them.."
"What do you mean, 'where'?" Chick asked, exasperated, "Over there by the counter. The guys in the white masks and wearing a shit-ton of body paint."
Again, Nella looked, her eyes directed toward the table that her friend indicated. The Chick noticed her friend's eyebrows quirk skeptically as she looked back between her and the table of cosplayers.
"Are you trying to pull a prank on me?" Nella asked, "All I see is some guys in suits!"
"What? No!" Chick replied, "Would I ever try to trick you?"
Nella's skeptical look now became a look of silent challenge regarding her friend's statement.
"Okay, okay!" Chick admitted, "Yeah, I would try to trick you. But I swear to god that I'm being completely serious! I swear that they're right-"
Her words trailed off uncertainly as she glanced back at the table. Nella was right: The group she had seen sitting at that table had been replaced with a group of middle-aged looking men and women wearing very plain business suits, certainly not anything out of place in the cafe. It couldn't have been possible that the group had simply left, she thought, as that she had only looked away for a second—hardly enough time for a group that noticeable to get up and leave.
"Are you feeling okay?" Nella asked, noticing her friend's perplexed expression.
"Y-yeah, I'm fine." Chick stammered, "But, I-I swore that I saw…but now they're not. But I was certain that…"
The round-faced young woman squeezed the Chick's shoulder sympathetically, calming the befuddled reviewer down.
"It's okay, Chick," Nella said, "You're probably just a bit tired. You did stay up pretty late last night working on that script."
The dark-haired reviewer nodded slowly, trying to force her eyes to look away from the group at the table as she took another drink of coffee. She tried to redirect her thoughts towards more useful things to think about. However, much like curious kitten, her thoughts strayed away, constantly drawing themselves back toward the suspicious group.
A nagging, uncomfortable feeling scratched at the back of her mind, leaving thin claw marks of paranoia behind. There was no way, the feeling told her, like all the other times this had happened, that it was just a trick. It had to have been real. Or if it wasn't real, then reality itself had just become unusually dreamlike.
"I've been having this really weird feeling lately."Chick said, breaking the silence that had built between her and her friend.
Nella quirked her eyebrows, staring at her usually cynical best friend with a manner that suggested that she was both curious and slightly concerned.
"What do you mean?" she asked
"I dunno," Chick sighed, "Kinda like the world isn't exactly real or something."
"A lot of people have that feeling," Nella replied, "It's actually kind of normal, I'd say."
"It's a bit more complicated than that, really. You know in a DNA strand, how removing one small part of it and replacing it with another can completely change the damn thing into something completely different? It's kind of like that; except it's more like reality itself was messed with. Except I don't know what's changed, or why."
"Hmm…" Nella said, "That is a bit weird, but probably not anything too screwed up. Probably nothing to worry about. Unless, of course it starts getting worse or something, then you might want to start worrying."
Again, Chick nodded, exchanging a brief, reassuring smile with her long-time sidekick. However, even in spite of the assurance that things were probably just fine, she couldn't quite shake this crawling feeling in the back of her neck that the suspicious group had been eavesdropping on for some reason.
Every time she looked over at them, one or two of them would hastily avert their eyes, pretending to be busy with something. She had managed to catch one of them, though, staring at her with a piercing hawk-like gaze, before trying to pretend to be intensely focused upon finding his phone.
Of course, she assumed, it had to be nothing more than coincidence. Maybe they were glaring at her because they were in the middle of preparing for a meeting and she was accidentally interrupting them by being a bit too loud, or something. After all, since the dispute between the clerk and the irate customer had been settled, the café had grown pretty quiet.
Once more, she returned her attention back to the coffee cup in her hand, frowning with momentary displeasure when she found that only a droplet of lukewarm, bitter liquid kissed her lips in place of the steaming hot type she desired.
Well, she thought, shrugging, I guess that mean's I should probably get going, now.
"Hey, Nella," she said as she got up to leave, "I've got a few errands I have to run downtown. You want to come with me?"
"Sorry," the curly haired woman replied, following her out the door "I've got some stuff I need to get done today on the other side of town. But, I'll meet up with you later to finish filming that review, okay?"
"Sure," Chick agreed, before watching her friend disappear into the slowly growing morning crowd.
Once she was alone, she couldn't help but notice the feeling of a pair of eyes focused upon the back of her head, watching her with great interest. Her brain switched into defensive mode as she turned around, her hand reaching for the small canister of pepper-spray she usually kept concealed within her purse.
Once more her eyes met the suspicious man from earlier, and once more he hastily averted his gaze to focus on something nearby that had suddenly caught his interest. Frowning, Chick lowered her defensiveness, withdrawing her hand from her purse. However, she couldn't help but feel as if something were up.
This group, whoever they were, seemed to be watching her for some reason, as if they were waiting for her to do something—or rather, making sure that she didn't do something.
"This is stupid," Chick mumbled under her breath, looking away from the group, "It's probably just my imagination or something. Nothing is wrong."
Finally, she put the small coffee shop, and the strange events that had transpired there, behind her, disappearing into the crowd, completely unaware that the eyes of that strange group still followed her.
The group watched as the Nostalgia Chick disappeared into the crowd. The instant that she was gone from their sights, a shrill ringing of a cellphone broke the silence. The other members of the group shifted their gaze between their leader and the space where the female reviewer had previously been.
They were like wolves that had caught scent of their prey, and now waited for the right moment to strike. A heavy pause hung over the group like a raincloud as they waited, listening for their commander's voice to echo through the phone.
"Report," a cold, growling voice commanded
"The captive shows signs of awareness." The leader of the group said, his eyes darting toward the spot where the Nostalgia Chick had formerly stood, "Reports from the others suggest that the others may be showing some signs of awareness as well."
"Damn." The voice swore, "They can't be made aware."
"Forgive me for asking this, m'lord," the man said, "But, even if they are aware, wouldn't it be impossible for them to escape?"
"Perhaps," the voice said, "But, it's only a matter of time before the good doctor and his team picks up on their energy signals and makes some sort of rescue attempt. We can't take that risk."
"You're orders, my lord?" the man asked.
"Continue to keep them under strict surveillance for the time being."
"…And if the doctor and his team try to contact them?"