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[Plot Thread 1.2] I've Seen This Movie! [Complete]


Malachite
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11:48 PM EST, Thursday September 19, 2019


Evo
Alpha Rho Kappa threw the best parties. The members were almost universally well-monied, well-connected, and that particularly helpful blend of bored co-ed and disaffected degenerate. The Dean wasn't going to shut down the parties when he remembered them himself and when it might affect how much their parents donate to the school. So: booze, co-eds looking for a good time and to impress the ARK boys, and pretty loose regulations on other "recreationals". Donald wasn't a member, but his lineage and trust fund meant he always got a personal invite. 

The music was loud and even at nearly midnight no one was winding down yet. Lightning burst against the clouds outside - it'd been a clear day, but weather? right. Thunder followed quickly after and Donald fell the faint wave of pressure that meant it had be close. That might also have been Allison Cartwright pressing up against him while dancing on the patio, though, too. Not a lot of skill or natural dexterity, but the tall girl had enthusiasm. "It's gonna rain," she said in a tipsy purr. "I can feel it. Why don't we go somewhere inside? My sorority house is just down the street." 

Donald opened his mouth to say something clever when laughter - loud, deep, utterly insane laughter - burst out from the ARK mansion. He glanced back into the house to see people looking around wildly and heading for exits. That is, those that weren't biting other people.


Renata
ARK threw the worst parties, Renata thought darkly as she walked the perimeter of the over-sized testosterone factory called a chapter house. She'd been hearing bad things for a while about the fraternity and the clear favoritism by the college only set her further on edge. The boys could get away with everything short of murder so long as it wasn't caught on tape. And given the lawyers they could call on, maybe even then. 

She was in camouflage tonight: a school shirt and dark pants, just enough school spirit that no one thought she was too out of place, but non-sexy enough that she'd been avoided for the easier targets of the night. A telescoping baton on her key-ring that looked like a travel pill bottle (seriously, you could find anything online) kept her nice and armed, and a solo cup of Monster and soda was keeping her awake. Picking apart who was willing drunken partners of the night and if anyone actually needed a rescue wasn't easy, but she'd been ancy in her room earlier in the night and being out and about at least helped with that

She'd felt the clouds roll in, quick and ominous and covering up the moon, but the lightning and thunder still made her start. Her head was pounding and the second flash of lighting - the one that was pink and green and orange instead of white-blue - nearly blinded her when it struck the tree only a few feet from her. It didn't even register that she hadn't heard anything with it, no crackle of charring bark, no displacement of air and energy. She rubbed her eyes and her temples. 

A girl screamed in the house. That snapped her head up and sent her running for the front door when the booming laughter of something inescapably evil rolled over her from inside. She rushed into the front hall in time to see one of the more bimbo-blond party-goers lean into an ARK boy and bite down on his collar bone.
 

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For a moment, Donald was on the verge of asking whether someone had stuck something extremely hallucinogenic into the drinks again. Because while the fraternity's status had allowed them to clean up the mess that had happened the last time, Maurice Linderson had been treated to an informal ostracism so severe as to make the idea of someone following his concept of a prank unthinkable.

Then Harmony Mason lurched up, ignoring the substances soaking into and probably ruining her top, sure there wasn't all that much but the stains were stains, and Harmony took serious care of her clothing. And her jaws started snapping like the others who were converging on Donald and Allison.

 

"All right," Donald decided, fixing Allison with a flat and dry look, "I've seen this movie. This is where you run to the sorority house and call the cops." Which would under almost all circumstances be an unholy taboo for Alpha Rho Kappa, but you don't fuck around with an apparent zombie plague. Allison found herself giving him a goodbye kiss for his gallant sacrifice before running away.

 

Donald shifted his stance, making sure he was light on his feet before he moved forward. Normally, a person might be surprised, shocked or simply pause in some fashion before doing what Donald did next. But partly because of the feeling of the storm and more importantly, Donald wasn't uncultured. True, he'd always focused physical pursuits in extreme preference to mental, but he'd learned a bit of actual swordsmanship from a Japanese school nearly five centuries old and been taught about Miyamoto Musashi's concept of the Void mind.

 

Fighting with formlessly, free thought, Donald had imbibed that practice, so his awareness drifted from move to move without lingering as his skin hardened to stronger than steel. The Shinno-Ryu had also offered aikido and jujitsu, so Donald was comfortable he could stop them all without leaving serious lasting injuries.

 
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It took Renata a moment to realize that the lightning bolt hadn't deafened her, because to her there had been thunder. A thunder in her head, spreading through her body and then spilling out of her skin into the frat hall's yard. She stood paralyzed in awe as her eyes roved over the blades of grass, the cheap lawn furniture, the ice chests now mostly full of chilled water with a few chunks of ice drifting lazily around on it. She could feel it. Feel it like with her hands, only all around, all of it, near and far. There was something in the air, something that belonged to her, something that was her somehow. Renata's body was just the nucleus of a larger being...had it always been this way and she'd just never noticed before?

 

What was that lightning bolt? Had someone slipped her something?

 

The scream wrenched her attention away from dazedly exploring the new vista of sensation that was expanding around her. As incredible as it was, the ability to perceive Nathan Rood's drunkenly insensate body draped over a pair of lawn chairs from twenty feet away was not why Renata was here. This was. She burst into motion, pelting past the yard where partying teens still lingered in copses of threes and fours to the frat house itself.

 

What she saw didn't make any sense though. No more than what she...didn't see. Students turning on other students, biting like animals. One of them laughing his ass off. Freaking out on drugs maybe, probably, but...she trusted her instincts. Her instincts told another story.

 

Renata dug into her back pocket and pulled out a 'head stocking' style ski mask, and pulled it on over her face. Couldn't be too careful with everyone having cameras these days. Normally she'd then run in , grab the one attacking the kid and throw her away...but this time.. Her eyes narrowed as she felt along through that 'selfness' that was trailing along with her now. She could 'touch' things through that feeling...what else could it do?

 

Tiles in the linoleum under her feet started peeling and coming apart, and Renata could feel a quiver in the ground, in the air, in the island counter that sat in the kitchen. Pots and pans rattled. Silverware danced in the drawer. That 'self outside herself' was suffusing the whole house now...what if she drew it tightly in, like the strings on a tote bag?

 

The noise from the kitchen halted as suddenly as it had started. Renata locked eyes with the dark-haired funbag in the living room, and the air seemed to thicken around him, becoming impossible to move through, yet still somehow air enough to breathe. For Ren, it was as if that diffuse sense had suddenly congealed into an actual HAND. One that now had Laughing Boy firmly in its grasp.

She lifted her real hand, and found that it helped her to have that as a reference point. This force she was controlling didn't have muscles or joints, but her brain was used to appendages that did. It was perhaps like an artist holding a thumb up to a work in progress, to help keep a sense of position and scale.

 

Renata flexed her arm just slightly, as if bringing her hand closer to herself. The force enclosing her target became a wind, became a magnetic field of impossible strength, catapulting him across the room towards Renata, only to come to a halt hovering in midair in front of her.

 

"What did you do?!" she demanded. "Whatever it is, stop it NOW!"

 

Sadly, her voice wasn't a distorted, terrifying rasp...she didn't know if they made those Batman thingies or not...but still, getting Vader-yanked across the room had to count for SOME intimidation points, she figured.

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The frat boy laughed again, his eyes red across the sclera and total black across the iris. He grinned and said in a teasing tone. "No."

She could feel a wave of something flow out from him, making her stomach twist and her balance list to the side. She wanted to throw up and her mental grip on his loosened. He fell nimbly to the floor, his knees and ankles bending just a little too much for natural. "Oh, but you'll taste just nice, won't you?" he cooed. "Not like these other snacks - barely any real thoughts between them. No, you're special and I'm going to enjoy myself." 

Donald threw a particularly insistent bleach-blond ARK brother against one of the windows of the building, sending the zombified boy through the opening with deep scores from the shattered glass. He didn't seem to notice, gathering himself up again in a single-minded lurch and heading back towards the flowing red-head. It did get the zombie master's attention, though. He frowned at the commotion, taking a moment from his stalking of Renata to call out, "To me, little minions! I have a feast and I do not want to be disturbed!"

The zombie coeds began shambling back towards the living room, most still taking shots at the bite here or swipe with clawed fingers there, but they no longer chased the fleeing humans. Donald's own dance partners were a little more reluctant to heed the call, but their attacks on him began listing towards the living room anyways. In the living room, Renata found herself in a growing circle of zombies, their master licking his lips like she was prime rib. She felt that wave of energy again, disorienting and just gross, and had to fight down the urge to empty her stomach on the ruined carpet in front of her.

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Donald raised his head up at the call. Well, that answered the question of how this had started... sort of. As the zombified ARKs returned to the living room, Donald followed them. Hopefully this was the kind of zombification that would be ended once the person who caused it was stopped. When he entered the living room, he found someone in a ski mask surrounded by zombie and...

 

Well, the freak-eyed culprit. He looked vaguely familiar but Donald was pretty sure he didn't know the guy's name. "I don't know what you could possibly could be feasting on and I don't want to know." Inside, Donald's muscles flexed and bone hardened. If that crazy guy sent more zombies, he would be ready. "No more psycho business, or you will regret it."

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Renata gritted her teeth and struggled to keep some bit of focus through the sudden disorientation and nausea. He was doing something to her, but she couldn't tell what! On the other hand, this new 'sense' she had, this new power, it wasn't just in the air around her. As she shifted her attention inward, she could feel her heartbeat, her blood move...feel the tiny pinpricks of energy blossoming all over her in a tapestry that was at once huge and minuscule.

 

She wasn't poisoned, at least not in a way vomiting would help with...so she turned down her sensitivity to her stomach's distress. It was fake news...something was wrong, but not what it felt like. Whatever power had ridden the lightning to her seized her cells and tissues with the same authority that it had lifted this wackjob before. The nausea was still there, but Renata could ignore it now.  A dozen other tiny discomforts, most of which she hadn't even consciously been aware of, were similarly silenced.

 

"Fuck that, " she growled to whoever-the-hell was talking. "Lets just jump straight to the regretting part."

 

...and she lunged at the smirking bastard, driving a fist forward with a strength that was only partially in her arms...a strength sufficient to put a dent in the fridge door when he managed to duck out of the way. The dent wasn't fist-shaped though, it was smoother. A barely-visible sheathe surrounded Renata now, hardly more than a slight distortion in the air right next to her skin.

 

Renata didn't leave much time for gloating though, going straight in after the 'zombie-master' to try to keep him on the defensive!

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As Ski-Mask landed their blow on Zombie Dude, Donald could feel the crack of bone. The zombies around him flailed in pain and anger, reaching out towards him and scraping claws and teeth against skin thankfully tougher than any human could sport. 

"Fucking asshole!" Zombie Dude screamed, holding his fractured face. "I'm gonna eat you slow for that." At Renata's lack of response, he snapped, "It'll hurt more, dipshit!" 

The two were circling each other now, Zombie Dude making clumsy dodges from Renata's more practiced and precise punches. He caught site of Donald tangling with the mob of minions. "God dammit, you morons, just kill him already." Like most bullies, he was off his game now that it wasn't an easy victory.

Several of the close zombies crumpled after another solid hit from Renata, but when Zombie Dude scrambled up from the floor, his face was bloodied but no longer broken. He grinned, sidestepping again and forcing her to turn with him or expose her side to him. Her hip hit a couch and clawed, strong arms grabbed at her. Zombie Dude was suddenly in front of her, his hands grabbing her face and trying to force her down. Her mind screamed at pain lanced through her. "Mine!" he crowed victoriously. 

Around Donald, the zombies surged again, their claws now actually scoring on his skin. He felt a bite draw blood and his vision swam for a moment. He felt something rooting around his mind, telling him to just let go and let 'the Master' take control. You're going to die either way, the sickening voice promised. Might as well do it painlessly.

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Another zombie managed to latch onto his hand, getting another neat incisor cut in, and Donald's knees weakened as he tried to keep his focus with the voice getting louder and deeper inside his head. It didn't help that the scent of blood was stronger, clearer to him than any time in his past. Just give in, the oily voice now crooned, it's almost over... Donald's teeth clenched down at the mental sneer he'd received. The hell it wasn't.

 

His life may have been a pretty easy and casual one, but Donald Wallace wasn't going to let it end to some ARK nutjob who fancied himself a zombie lord. In fractions of seconds, he shifted everything from muscle bulk to plastic agility, back and forth. The result, was that he pushed forward and... jumping and somersaulting in a perfect acrobatic motion, he launched all the zombies off him, enough power to launch them all, yet the inhuman precision and control to adjust the force involved so that nobody had their spines broken.

 

Turning in follow-through, Donald snatched up a mug from a nearby table and threw it with a keen snap of the wrist. It struck Zombie Dude's kneecap, forcing him to release Ski Mask and slump down to one leg, both the mug and his kneecap broken.

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Renata threw her head back and howled at the pain when the Zombie Dude touched her head. It felt almost as if his fingers were pressing through the mask, through the skin, through the bones of her skull into the soft tissue beneath with claws made of glass. Something sharp and cold and piercing. She grabbed his wrists, but it was hard to focus on her own abilities while trying to think through the pain. In his eyes was a sick, manic gloating.

 

She focused on the kitchen wall behind him though, where a knife rack was bolted. The knives rattled as animal panic surged. She had to stop him. Now!

 

There was a moment of clarity, where the pain didn't recede, but her purpose became strong enough to shine through. The knives twisted themselves off the rack and hovered in midair. Six metal blades of varying sizes, swiveling to aim the pointy ends towards the Zombie Dude's back.

 

She had to stop him.

 

"Hnnngh!" The Zombie Dude cried out in pain and twisted around to try to reach his stricken ankle, reacting on animal instinct to his injury...and in the process releasing his target.

 

Renata gasped as the slivers of glass sliding into her head suddenly vanished, and she almost stumbled as she tried to scramble to her feet. The Zombie Dude howled and bent double to try to grab his leg...his concentration momentarily just as shattered as his knee. She had an opening, but felt strongly that she had to make it count. He'd bounced right back after taking a fridge-denting punch in the face. He was a lot tougher than he looked. Ren felt that this was different because it had taken him wholly by surprise, while he'd been focused on...whatever he'd been trying to do to her.

 

The knives still floated there, but Renata couldn't do it. It'd be simpler for sure. What were the cops going to do about a guy who could do this? How would a jury or judge decide what he was guilty of?

 

But there was a line. She wasn't ready to cross it.

 

Her eyes narrowed as he winced and gritted his teeth, and then looked back at her, then Donald. The veins on his neck stood out as he tensed against the pain, and in anger. Renata could feel his brain seething, lighting up all over. He was going to do something.

 

She reached out with a hand, and just as Zombie Dude started to hiss, "Kill..." his voice choked off, and he was  hauled up off his feet and dangled in midair. His hands went to his throat, trying to grab the force that had a hold of him there, but there was nothing. A pressure without a source. His eyes bulged and he gurgled gruesomely.

 

Renata didn't want to strangle him. There was a kind of tactile feedback from her powers, the same thing she'd felt before when she could sense the room around her. The throb of the artery was clear to that sense. Very carefully, very gently, she compressed in on that throb.

The Zombie Dude's eyes widened in sudden realization, and he thrashed...and then went still. It took only seconds for the interruption of blood to the brain to knock him out. And there was no faking it...not when the murmur of his nervous system was clear in Renata's mind. Activity dropped, but didn't cease. She eased up the pressure and lowered him back to the floor, slowly.

 

"He'll wake up if I let him go," Renata said to the others in the room. "If anyone's got a phone, get the POLICE over here."

She then looked around to give Donald a nod as she turned to face the zombies, while keeping the pressure on the Dude's neck, monitoring his brain to make sure she wasn't killing him. "Thanks."

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The zombies in the room stilled, staring at their master but unable to make thoughts of their own anymore. The room went quiet, the storm in the background starting to peter off. From underneath the loveseat that had been knocked over and into a corner came a quiet, "Hole-ee shit."

The frat boy, a young ARK pledge, fumbled at his phone, switching it from being a video recorder back to it's original, if much less used function of being a phone. He dialed three numbers and waited. "Uh, it's busy. I mean, I'm on hold." They could see the panic in his eyes. What's going on when 911 puts you on hold? Time ticked away in the ruined house. Several unconscious bodies revealed themselves to be quite living people as they came to. Most took one look at the eerily silent and still zombies just staring at the tableau in the living and ran. Those that couldn't run scooted as far away as they could, trying to make their own calls.

It took over forty-five minutes before the pledge finally spoke up again, "Uh, yeah! We need help! At the ARK house on campus. There's like zombies and these two guys. Well, I think one's a girl. But they like superheroes or something. Like kung-fu movie fighting and moving the bad guy - and knives - around with their minds- What? No, I'm not kidding! I've got proof! Video of the whole thing! And look, the zombies are still here. Just-just send someone out. SWAT. Or something. There's a lot of hurt people, too." The person on the phone said a few words and the kid's eyes widened. "Hours?! Dude, Zombies. Are. Still. Here!"

"And you have help. No one else does," the gruff male voice said. "Get away from the 'zombies' and stay put somewhere safe. We'll be there when we can." The phone flickered against his cheek as the call was cut. 

He looked over at the two of them, then at the dozens of zombies, then down to Zombie dude. "Uh, so. Um. It's gonna be a bit." 

The police never showed, but twenty minutes after the call soldiers streamed into the house - guns raised and clearly ready for a fight. They called out 'clear's and 'secured' as they made their way through every room in the building, rustling up nearly a dozen other students from the upper levels. Everyone not in the living room and still clearly living was ushered into the back yard with a four soldiers to keep an eye on them and administer first aid. In the living room, a dozen soldiers took up a perimeter around the throng of zombies. Three more soldiers pushed their way into the circle where Zombie Dude, pledge, Donald, and a very tired Renata were waiting; one, one of the two men, put a gun on Zombie Dude, the barrel squarely aimed at his head. The other man motioned for the three others to group up along the couch that had been shoved against a wall. The third, a woman in her late thirties with greying hair peppering her tight french braid, looked the three over. "Who made the call?"

Pledge hesitantly lifted his hand. The woman nodded and motioned to the other two, "These your superheroes, then?" He nodded again. She motioned to the unconscious Zombie Dude. "What's his story?"

"Uh, he was the one making zomb-" A shot rang out and Renata felt the pulse slip away from her awareness. Around them, the zombies dropped to the ground, eyes staring lifelessly. At the starts and stares from the three college kids, the woman sighed. "Too many monsters all over town to play with kid gloves." She stepped up to Renata and pulled off her mask. "You two are different. The only ones I've come across that aren't crazy or just rampaging. Command'll want to know that's possible." She glanced at the pledge, "You said you had footage?"

He nodded and pulled out his phone. She didn't reach for it, but the soldier that had shot Zombie Dude put a hand on his arm. "Bring it with you," the woman said. "We'll need your statement and to make sure you're clean." She looked around the room, frowning at the pile of starting zombie-bodies. "Everyone, clear out! Back to base and above all else keep these kids safe!" She muttered as they made their way back to the trucks that had brought them in, "I think we're going to need them."

 

Spoiler

Good thread, guys! 

+1 XP for both of you!

+1 Fame for both of you.

Feel free to have Renata and Donald talk in the truck (large transport trucks). There'll be nine soldiers in the back with you guys and you'll be towards the front - and yes, they're making sure you don't jump out and run. They're not talkative and seem a little leery of you three. It's also fine to call this done here. They're not going to send you guys back out during the Storm and effectively you'll just be sent on to quarantine in the morning. 

 

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Renata had done her best to keep her back to the other students after her mask had been unceremoniously removed, but she had no idea how successful she'd been. Intellectually she realized she was being petty. Having been at a frat party while at college was the smallest possible concern right now. Zombies and psychic powers and...apparently it was citywide at the very least. That was big. Not wanting to have to explain to her dad why she was at a party was...stupid. But it was still on her mind. It was a small, familiar fear that was weirdly comfortable to have.

 

For a little while she watched the soldiers lined up between herself and the way out...but even if they hadn't been there she wasn't going to stage a dramatic escape now. They knew who she was. There wasn't any getting away.

 

Finally she looked at the guy opposite her, the one from the party. She hadn't really seen what he'd done, but she HAD seen the floor littered with 'zombies.' So he had something.

 

She gave him an awkward nod and said, "So...what're you in for?"

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"Shapeshifting." Donald explained to the girl, not too bad looking one now that her ski mask was off. "It was stuff like hardening my skin and making myself stronger but I'm pretty sure I can do stuff like..." Considering how tense and suspicious the soldiers were, Donald looked at them with a beseeching look. "Don't lose your heads guys, I just want to show off a little."

 

With them casting more frowny faces but not telling him no, Donald leaned forward. Renata watched with shocked eyes as a second pair of arms stretched out from his back and did some jazz hands. "Tadaaaa."

 

Renata blinked as she picked up something. "Wait, how is it not tearing your shirt?" Because somehow the arms were through the shirt without having tore holes, leaving perfectly intact cloth. Donald couldn't really look back, "It's not? Cool." The aberrant set of limbs melted back into his body and vanished, again without any sign they'd been there on his clothing. "Must be one of those superpower things. Like how the Human Torch isn't streaking every time he goes 'Flame On!'"

 

Donald leaned back and gave Renata a nod. "I'm Donald Wallace. Who's the girl before me getting charged for Vader-ing without a license?"

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Ren let slip a lopsided grin and sank back against the wall of the truck behind her. The vibrations from the road might have almost felt good if they weren't so random. She wasn't a big sci fi fan, but her younger brother was, and he'd made sure to make her sit through ALL the Star Wars movies.

 

"Renata Hodges. Dark Lord of the...whatever it was. Pleased to meet you." She offered a hand and shook it.

 

"You know, the shape shifting thing is kind of weird, but maybe cool too...but the shirt thing is just kind of freaky. It's like you're not just controlling your body, but other stuff too. Like...I was sort of controlling my body too. Trying to stop the pain, making myself stronger... When I punched the fridge, I didn't even FEEL it on my hand, you know? But you're moving cloth around like it's part of you."

 

After a second she then asked something that was on her mind. "Did you happen to see, or hear, if any of the zombies were still alive, or okay? The ones he was controlling. I couldn't tell if they got better before we got..." Renata waved her hands in a shooing gesture. "...in here."

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"No." Donald's smile disappeared at the reminder. "Allison Cartwright was just inviting me back to her place, then screaming, people running, those already zombified biting more people. Then I got that jolt of feeling that said, 'you got powers, bro' and I told her to run and started knocking out zombies. I figured that might get them back to normal or if we took him down..." Donald trailed off, since unpleasantly, that had not come to pass.

 

He just didn't see how whatever had caused his and Renata's powers could bring about someone like Zombie Dude who decided making people into corpse minions and eating minds was the best thing ever. According to the soldiers though, this seemed like the rule and they were the exceptions.

 

Casting his mind away from that to something else, Donald found his way back to what Renata had observed. "Well, the shirt? It's a different kind of weird, because I'm pretty sure I'm not moving it. When I was shifting my body, inside and out I did feel it. It doesn't hurt or feel strange - just like I'm stretching for a moment  - but I didn't feel anything with the shirt. Not even it moving. Not like I can see it happening unless I have eyes in the back of my head. Actually, I might be able to make that happen, but we've had enough creep factor today."

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Renata nodded and rubbed her temple pensively. "I sure as hell hope so."

 

With another look at the soldiers she asked, "What do you think happens now? Are they deputizing us or putting us in jail? At first I was thinking the first one...now it's feeling a bit more like the second."

 

"Ugh...I know it sounds stupid, but I'm not looking forward to calling my folks right now."

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