Superpowers In A World Gone Mad
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The Midnight Runner, Issue #007

October 27, 2013 in The Midnight Runner Tags:

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Issue #006 – – – – – controlled by Ken Thompson – – – – – Credits 28

“Xara,” The Midnight Runner said.  “Thank you for your concern.  But I am afraid things have gone too far now.”
“With respect, Sir,” the Computer whirred, “They have not.  They will not have gone too far until you ask for more information than your brain and body can handle.  Then you will be dead and things will have gone too far.”
“There comes a time,” Midnight Runner responded, “When one life must be lost to save many.  So listen carefully to my instructions.  If I die, put out all the information revealed on the Web.  It may be of use to others.”
“It may kill others, Sir,” The Computer pointed out.
“Since when did you get so argumentative?” the hero sighed.
“You programmed me, Sir,” Xara reminded him.
“Just do as I ask please, Xara.  Do you understand?”
“Yes, Sir.  I do.”


It seemed impossible, but looking at the data laid before him it was hard to deny where the evidence led.  Having identified most of the fourteen individuals stored within the strange caskets he had run a thorough and comprehensive set of tests upon them.  What had been revealed was startling.  Each of the individuals was leaking several types of energy which simply did not conform to anything modern equipment could identify.  But it was clear that the energy was incredibly destructive.

The caskets prevented the worst of the spread, but when the seals were opened (something the Midnight Runner did only briefly) everything near them began to lose cohesion – to rot and decay.  Metal rusted, bonds broke, magnetic fields went askew.  He had never seen anything like it  before.  It was a completely new phenomenon.  The closest thing he could think of was the damage that radiation did to living cells.  But this energy did damage to all matter, regardless of its origins.

His investigations also revealed just how sick he was getting.  He took readings and found the strange energy inside him, infecting him – even though he had never been directly exposed to the people in the caskets without proper protection.  It seemed that just knowing these people existed was enough to have a terrible effect upon his mind and his body.

“Xara,” The Midnight Runner said tersely, fighting off an increasing headache and nausea: “The names, please.”

He had been able to identify, through scraps and pieces of information, twelve of the fourteen people in the caskets.  Ultradoll.  The Devastator.  Dark Future.  Mark Santini.  King Crush.  Oakheart.  Got Gal.  Virus.  Vermilion Widow.  Sulis.  Pendragon.  X-Ray Man.  None of these names meant anything to him beyond the odd bits of unreliable background that Xara had mysteriously uncovered.  But Midnight Runner was fairly certain this was dimensional in nature – the sort of weird stuff that he was not qualified to deal with.  But if not him, who?  It wasn’t like the city was brimful of licensed heroes he was on friendly terms with.

Finally, he decided that he had to know who the final two caskets were.  They had proved impossible to identify and he was certain that knowledge of their origins was key to understanding what this all meant.  So he bit the bullet and contacted an outside specialist in this sort of super science situation.

“Who?” The Midnight Runner asked.  Once again Xara had fallen silent.  “Who did I contact?”

“Running a memory scan,” the Computer said.  “Information will take a short time to retrieve.”
“Why?” He wanted to know.  “You’re a computer.  This data is on a drive somewhere.  Why is it taking time to retrieve?”
“I do not know,” Xara answered, her mechanical voice sounding oddly hopeless.

The report submitted by one Doctor Thaddeus Webb, a Special Projects expert with the Bull Corporation, made for fascinating and unlikely reading.  The Midnight Runner, against his better judgement, had been forced to release most of what he knew in order that the situation could be investigated.  It had taken weeks, during which he had grown increasingly unwell.  He was aware that if some answers were not forthcoming he may not be in a fit state to do much with the information anyway.

The report postulated something the Doctor called a Twin Reality Field.  He suggested that there was something called Core Reality, a kind of base layer upon which space and time rested.  Over the top of this, a second reality, which he called a Mask, had been carefully fitted.  The effect was that the core reality was obscured and the mask appeared to be real.  His analysis of the strange energy had revealed it to have a wavelength and signature which fitted the kind his mathematics proposed would exist between the Core and the Mask.  A kind of linear glue, he said.

He suggested that The Midnight Runner’s involvement could not be accidental.  That the stresses of both realities meant that they were intrinsically unstable and that nature would attempt to redress the balance.  Doctor Webb supposed that The Midnight Runner might be an agent of that redress.  All this was very interesting, but the hero really wanted to know who the other two bodies were.  Who were the mystery people in the last two caskets?  He was sure this was important.  He didn’t know why.

The Doctor assured him that the information would be forthcoming.  He just had a few more tests to run, but he already had suspicions.  The Midnight Runner agreed to wait – though his illness was now so profound that he was barely able to function.  Time was running out.

“What else, Xara?  What did the Doctor find out?  Who were they?”
“The Doctor died, Sir,” Xara said.  “He was rushed into hospital with a sudden sickness and a heart attack ended his life the same evening.”
“Oh shit,” The Midnight Runner muttered.
“I did warn you, Sir,” Xara said.
“So I never found out who the last two were?”
“You did, Sir,” Xara said.  “You broke into the Doctor’s lab and searched his notebook for some clue as to the suspicions he had expressed.  There were two names on the pad.  It was upon your return from that excursion that you demanded your memories removed for the first time.  You were very, very sick.”

“Who were they?” The Midnight Runner breathed.  The air seemed thick, the tension palpable.  The emergency lights still flickered in the background.  Xara paused, as though considering whether to respond.  “One of them was somebody called Wild Zone sir.”
“And the other?”
“You Sir,” Xara said.  “The fourteenth body in a casket was you.”

3 Responses to “The Midnight Runner, Issue #007”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Wow. Now I am seriously intrigued. Apparently I am am also in an icky destructive killer canister and somewhat dimensionally unstable. I’m glad I don’t know this. Take care Midnight Runner. This reality seems to be protecting itself by killing those who know it’s not real. Maybe you could try some form of hypnosis instead of memory wipes. Sulis

  2. False Bill Says:

    hmm, hasn’t this just got wierder, so you in the box and outside it.
    The question and costs are quiet clear now.

    Sucks to be the Midnight Runner right now.

  3. Frank Says:

    This is very intriguing. So Beast Nelson is/was not in one of these. What happened to him then…


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