Friday, July 5, 2013

The Umbra Group e03 : World of Darkness

The Umbra Group
Episode Three
"Drones Among Us"

World of Darkness
Home-brewed Setting

Dylan "Dil" Harris meets with his wife, Samantha, who has been quite worried about her husband.  She had heard about the strange events at the art gallery and fears that her husband is having some kind of breakdown.  Or worse, based on the photos her private investigator had taken of him with some woman (Rayne), an affair.  It has been a number of days since the strange incident in the building next to the gallery.  Dylan tries to find a way to explain what has been happening.  "We're involved in supernatural things," Dylan tries to explain but Samantha won't have it.  For her, the discussion just sounds too crazy.

Dylan tries over and over to explain the truth without saying the truth, but sadly, for Samantha the pictures speak far louder than Dil's words.  Samantha tells him she is leaving with Tim to live with her mother instead.  "I can't take it, Dil.  Whatever it is you are caught up in.. get it done.  Find us if we matter to you."  She gives him til the end of the night to come home.

Elsewhere, Rayne Calloway has gone to visit Emilio.  In the past few days, she has discovered how she seems to easily "jive" with the gang nowadays.  The experience almost feels like a second life she's never knew she had.  Having been there for three days, Emilio's gang have been giving Rayne a semblance of normality.  Rayne realizes the food set in the place is too familiar.  Its the kind of food her Aunt prepares.  She overhears Emilio and her Aunt talking about her, but pretends not to have noticed anything when Emilio returns.  Rayne feels frustrated she could not get more information on the "drug" that was used on Sophie.  She realizes she may have to find a sample to get more information.  Emilio starts teasing Rayne, misconstruing her actions to suggest she likes him, but then realized the truth with a shock, "You're in love with Enzo?!"

Detective Olivier wakes up face down in an alleyway.  He realizes he is not alone, and looks up to see John Doe feeding birds with some bread.  Olivier stares at the ground and sees many of the birds twitching and dying.  He realizes the bread has been laced with gun powder.  Ted has fragmented memories of the events that happened when he stepped through the door on the wall. He has vague recollections of visiting the Red, and of talking about Hatters and Masks.  John Doe seems wrong.  Different.  He's the same guy, and yet... not.  John Doe casually mentions having spoken with Olivier's wife in the past, and Ted realizes he may be someone he nearly caught before.

Ted tries to recall what happened in the other world.  He vaguely remembers a woman dressed in red, asking him if he is the new hatter.  "A replacement to the first four?"  She tells him that they are at war with the Umbra Group for the many atrocities that the organization had committed, such as the kidnapping of wizards, the abduction of drones, and the like.    The discussion fades in and out of his memories.

Muggers.  John Doe looks at the rag tag fellows who approach him and Ted, clearly intent on mugging them.  John Doe resists, and loses an ear in the process as a pistol gets fired.  Ted quickly handles the situation, and arrests the young punk for his actions.  He discovers a week had passed since he left.  He notices a top hat on the ground and picks it up.    A cop tells him that bodies were found in the river.

A hint of awkwardness.  Ted finds his ex-wife, Elena Valenta, present and happy to see him alive.  Ted worries if she senses he's keeping something from her, given her skill set.  The Captain takes him to the morgue and there he sees the five bodies that have been pulled out of the river:  All were decapitated, and their hands and feet were amputated.  Most of them had Ted's build, which caused Elena some concern given his disappearance for a week.  Each one had a word carved into their skin:  Croc,  Puppet, Scarecrow, Diety and Mask.

John Doe, in the ambulance to have his ear treated, is asked for his identification.  But before John Doe could answer, something slams into the ambulance and forces it to come to a complete stop.

Patrick Beckett talks to Frances about what had just happened.  They struggle to make sense of those mirror-shifting things which they saw in the condo.  But then a phone call breaks the discussion:  Maxine.  Patrick answers it and hears her sobbing as she tells them she had been abducted and she still is in someplace dark.  He hears the sound of something like gears in the background whirling as she is takena way.  "Yutaka," she mentions and claims it is copying her form.  Frances realizes the call is coming from her own house, where Patrick was earlier attacked.  As Maxine is caught by her captors, the omnious sound of a buzzsaw can clearly be heard.

Patrick realizes the Sliding Room is the fastest way to get to her.  But he also realizes he cannot handle this alone.  Leaping into the Shadow Cabinet, Patrick emerges at the closest darkness near Dylan.  He tells him to come with him, leaving Dylan no choice but to comply, and they slide back to the Sliding Room.  There, Patrick and Dylan slide a second time, this time emerging at Frances' home as Patrick uses his anchor to Maxine to emerge there.  They catch the sight of Maxine being dragged out of the basement that moment.

Arguments.  The two clearly inhuman things were arguing, with one called Yutaka arguing with another called Isabel on whether or not Maxine should be killed Yutaka's buzz saw is forced away by Isabel to reminds her companion that, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” a phrase which irks Patrick as he realizes its from a cartoon he loves called Transformers.  The two rush out to rescue Maxine, and Yutaka, seeing the intruders, throws Maxine at Patrick to slow him down.  Dil rushes in and catches her in his arms.  But just as Yutaka charges forward to strike at them, Isabel transforms into a Mini-Cooper and slams into the other one to force it back.  Angered, Yutaka shifts into a feline form, and leaps out of the shattered window to flee.

Thankfully for Patrick and Dil, Isabel seems to be in a talkative mood.  She explains to them that she and Yutaka were trying to lure the Four out, because they wanted to find a way back to their home.  "Though our land is struggling in a Civil War, we hope to find a way back to Vector Sigma to return home."  She tells them how the Umbra Group abducted their people and stripped them apart to become component parts for something called the ModulArmy.  Dil warns them that Maxine is in a pretty bad state, and Patrick comes up with the idea of having Isabel as the car strike the area where Maxine is from outside the house to look like a hit and run accident.  They call Emergency Services to come to aid Maxine, knowing they would have a better chance at keeping her okay, and slide back to the Sliding Room with Isabel with them.  Apparently, Isabel claims the Sliding Room was how they were taken.  Sophie sees them return and upon Patrick's prodding, she hands him the folder to Drones Among Us.

Rayne returns home to her studio and there quickly builds a few "sliding room-ready" chambers.  As she works on her projects, she eventually senses that she is not alone.  A man with strange hair wearing a purple jumpsuit is observing her, and addresses her as a Hatter.  He informs her that he is from the Red and gives her a disturbing smile.  "The Queen has reconsidered the offer.  She is willing to have in exchange half the Hatter's captives instead of all of them."  Rayne's perceptiveness catches that the jumpsuit isn't actually clothing, rather its short cropped fur that is growing upon the figure.  "The Red merely desires the citizens of OthEarth to be returned to us."  And when Rayne tries to ask who handled the earlier negotiations, the purple figure admits it was another Hatter.  The description immediately matches Ted as far as Rayne can tell.  "We want returned all the citizens that were abducted through the Vector Sigma."

Ted still has flashes of his talk with the Queen.  The Red Queen occasionally asks advice from a man in a black hooded robe.  His skin is pale and almost illuminated from within.  His grin is menacing.  His eyes dark.  Ted, however, tries not to chuckle in disbelief.  The man is a splitting image of the Emperor from the Star Wars films.

The Purple Man asks Rayne if she is hiring.  He admits to absolutely adoring her tea and admits it is almost luring him in.  Occasionally, the Purple Man fades into nothingness leaving only his smile visible as a floating grin.  Rayne realizes he's the Cheshire Cat from Through the Looking Glass.  "You will have a week to consent before the Red brings the war to Earth."  He fades away.  Rayne realizes the others best know about this and jumps back to the Sliding Room.

Ted brings the Captain to the alleyway earlier to bring him to John Doe, whom he feels might have something to do about the bodies given how John Doe is "the Joker" from the Batman comic books, and the five bodies suggest key Batman villains:  Killer Croc,  the Scarface Puppet of the Ventriloquist, the Scarecrow, Maxie Zeus the Diety and Mask possibly being everyone from Black Mask to Two-Face.  They find no sign of him, however.  Ted asks the Captain to head off to look for him but before the Captain could respond, John Doe emerges from an alleyway covered in blood.

John Doe recalls what had happened.  The ambulance skidded to a halt because somehow a human body had been thrown to the hood of the vehicle.  The body had no head, no hands nor feet.  On its back, the word CAT was carved into the flesh.   John Doe hears a second bang, and realizes it is a second body just like the first, but the word ASIA this time is carved.  Then a third slams atop the second and this one rolls down to the ground beside the ambulance.  John Doe, wet from the blood, peers at it and realizes it is a young girl.  On the back, carved into the flesh, is the word DAUGHTER.

John Doe rushed off to leave, and that's when he walked into the Captain and Ted.

As Ted demands answers from John Doe, the man drops to his knees and starts to cry.  The explosion of incoherent hysteria infuriates Ted, and perhaps to make him focus calls him the "Joker!"  The Captain and Ted try to subdue the crazed man, but John Doe instead reverses the grapple and pins Ted instead.  But then a cellphone rings, and both look up to see the Captain on the phone.  He had just received a phone call informing him that animals had been found, stripped of their extremities and heads.

Rayne, Dil and Patrick are all in the Sliding Room when Rayne confronts Isabel and almost explodes as she tells them of the Red's plan to bring the war to Earth.    The three are juggling the information they've been given, uncertain how to make sense of things, and know only that the only people in the world who might know about this is them.  Sophie tries to share what she knows of the Red, talking about its two courts that eternally are at each other's throats, and the three realize she's pretty much referring to the two Courts in Wonderland.  But Sophie seems to have no such recollection of it just being some book.

Patrick decides to take Isabel to the building where he had found the ModulArmy.  Part of him thinks having her meet Tappuman might bear some fruit.  Rayne and Dil instead opt to find Ted.

The animals are in the same train station where Ted first walked into the Sliding Room. Dylan and Rayne emerge in that same room as Ted steps inside the room.  Dil sees John Doe and the two end up having a bit of a fight before Ted calls it off and drags John Doe to one side to talk.  Rayne and Dil have Sophie help them eavesdrop on the conversation.   John Doe goes through the files as he searches for information about himself.  They look through the Desert Collosi folder and find a bunch of invoices for something called Vector Sigma.  Then they find an image of Harvey Dent.

John Doe has a flashback.  The date shows the 1930s.  A young man named Jason is with him.  The two are asking about some kind of work and John Doe, who Harvey refers to as "Joe" tells them he will introduce them to the guys who have a job.  These men are named Watson and Griffin.

In the other room, Sophie tells Dil and Rayne that John Doe seems to be struggling to unearth his memories.  Rayne suggests that Sophie should restore his memory, and Sophie admits she cannot do that.  "It is something beyond my training."  She admits that someone before must have been helping her achieve what she had before, because a presence was palpable then.

John Doe accepts the offer.  Ted has a very bad feeling of something about to happen.  Everyone readies themselves for a fight, each one expecting something to emerge in the Sliding Room.

Nothing comes.

Patrick emerges in the ModulArmy building and as they step out of the shadows the Autonomous Robotic Organism named Isabel breaks into a panicked shriek.  "Not here!" she screams and Patrick realizes this was once her prison.  It was like bringing a Holocaust survivor back to the camp.  As the security drones of the location activate, Patrick and Isabel do quick work of them, and Isabel starts gathering some of the dropped parts - intent to use them to rebuild herself.  Or her friends.  Tappuman emerges, however, and for a moment seems intent to fight them as his old programming would have him wont to.  He refers to Vector Sigma as the greatest deliverer from where all technology comes from.  Patrick starts berating Tappuman, who is swayed by the insults to start using the other weaponry he had recovered from the other destroyed ModulArmy robots.  But before he could win, a figure in the distance kills Tappuman with a wrist-launched rocket.  The attacker is a bounty hunter Patrick recalls to be Boba Fett of the Star Wars movies.  Panic rises and Patrick allows his mental calm to let go...

John Doe tries to link up with Ted to see if he can sense what the man is feeling.  What happens instead, however, is he discovers a different existing link with someone else entirely:  Himself.  He sees a darker version of himself in a massive room, much like a Library.  And worse, the darker Him seems to sense his presence.  The darker Him is talking to a man dressed in heavy robes, who has a large heavy book chained to his arm.  John Doe hears the darker Him taunt him about how he only exists because one of them reached far too deep into themselves.  John Doe hears the darker Him suggest that he is the "product" and that the darker Him is the real deal.  Sadly, John Doe can't tell for certain.

Ted realizes the bad feelings aren't in relation to him.  Rather he senses something endangering one of his Anchors.  He rushes to the Shadow Cabinet, intent to protect her.  Rayne follows suit, but tells Dylan to stay behind because she still does not trust John Doe.  John Doe, however, leaps into the Cabinet as well.  Clearly he has less concern about those in the Sliding Room compared to someone else out there.

Dylan goes through the folders to try and see if he can discern any other important details in them.  He looks through "He who is Beyond Death" and "The Academy" and notes they are both mentioning a location set in Britain.  Sophie admits to feeling something "wrong" about that location.  Dylan tries to find more mention of it in the files.

Ted emerges from the shadows to find himself in a police precint.  The power in the area has been cut off.  He hears gunshots ring from the far room (the Captain's Quarters) and realizes he just knows Elena is there.  He silently moves closer and sees Elena indeed there, with the Captain already dying from a gunshot wound. Two furry figures are inside.  The immense coldness of the room wraps around them and Ted draws the pistol and trains it at the furry main with the gun.  The shot kills the man.  As he sees the man's cloven feet, he feels immense pain as his gun arm is suddenly encased in a cocoon of ice!  A second figure steps into view and she calmly disables Ted with a few more freezing touches.  Ted realizes she is the Ice Queen from the Chronicles of Narnia.  The man he had just shot was the Faun, Tumnus.  The Queen demands that Ted yield and shares that she was told if she threatened Elena, one of the Four would appear.  She has come to give a counter-proposal to that which the Red had made:  Identify all of the OthEarth refugees that have been killed.

Rayne arrives at the same location, but to her the place is less familiar.  The cold strikes her and she eventually notices the illuminated office which serves as the only source of light in the room.  Then the Queen's minions are seen - a sight which tests Rayne's sanity to its brink.  The massive trolls are moving through the room and Rayne realizes she will have to find a way to deal with them on her own.

John Doe meets his darker Him for the first time in a very long while.  In the chambers of Destiny, John Doe stands before his doppleganger and the two regard each other's existence.   John Doe worries what his darker self has been doing in this place.  Worse, he has no idea what this place even is.

Patrick recovers and finds Isabel and Tappuman screaming.  The Bounty Hunter is injured, but still skilled enough to beat up the two.  Patrick raises the gun to aim at the Bounty Hunter and this act seemingly unlocks a few new memories from Patrick's head - memories that do not seem to be his own.  A young woman leans on his extended arm and calls him, "Dash," and tells him how he was always a good shot.  Two other images seemingly appear at his flank, of a man called Watson and another man called Nicola.  As Isabel falls down, beaten to a damaged hunk, the Bounty Hunter turns and sees Patrick with the weapon trained at him.  "By the Umbra Agreement, I yield!" the man declares, but Patrick ignores the words.  The gun is fired.  The Bounty Hunter drops dead.

Patrick sees a small device fall from the Bounty Hunter and tries to ignore the sick humor of realizing the man is a splitting image of Boba Fett from the Star Wars movies.  The message that emerges from the device is that of a robed figure - the Emperor - telling the Bounty Hunter to fulfill his mission in secret.  Patrick takes Tappuman's head to Isabel, and coaxes her to use its parts to repair herself.

Dylan reads about a place called "the World" and as he learns more of it, Sophie seems to be adversely affected.  The place seems to bring out something traumatic in her and she begins to go hysterical and hurt herself!  Dylan drags Sophie and Artie to the Shadow Cabinet and they slide to Dil's house.  Samantha tries to fathom what is going on, but cannot die what she sees as Dylan asks her to help him care for the injured woman and the strange mutant child.   Dylan does not wait for a response and slides once again to wherever Ted and Rayne currently are.

Ted defies the Ice Queen's offer.  He twists and ignores the pain as he still shoots the pistol at the Ice Queen.  She retaliates by having an immense avalanche of snow explode through the building.  Ted emerges from the cold and realizes he and Rayne are the only survivors of the blast.  The others from OthEarth were gone.  Dylan arrives to help the two out.  But clearly, there's no denying how things have escalated and moved faster now than before. Earth may be caught in a war which it does not even know to exist.  Against enemies it would never believe to be real.

John Doe stares at the darker Him who reveals why he wasn't afraid to meet.  The darker Him did not come alone.  The Masked Jason steps into view and the darker Him begins to maniacally laugh.

Isabel works on her repairs and a communication device on the dead Bounty Hunter springs into life.  Isobel matches the Bounty Hunter's face and answers it.  The Emperor speaks to (her)  him and gives him a list of new targets to focus on:  Patrick hears the name of his brother mentioned, as well as others.  The Emperor tells (her) him that the "Door" will be open only for three more nights.  His job is to make the Umbra Group think the Red has reneged on their negotiation.

The repairs helped Isabel more than she realized.  She realizes she is starting to remember more now.

And Patrick's phone rings one final time.  The voice is that of the Asian woman from before.  She offers to help once again, and asks if Patrick would be willing to do so.

Patrick has yet to decide.

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