Molly grumbled to herself as she pushed the now-empty medication cart down the hall, looking forward to a brief respite from this day in the staff break room. It had been an awful day so far, full of every kind of complication, difficult patient and error imaginable. The kind of day when you feel like if you get out of it with your job intact it’ll be a relief, but at the same time you wonder if your job’s worth it after all.
She had one last stop, and it was usually the most depressing and at the same time positive part of the day: the cancer ward. She stowed the medication cart, looked over the charts one last time and hung them on the wall, then headed to check in on the kids.
The common area was exceptionally quiet today. Oddly, not a single one of the children looked up when she entered. They simply went about their business, playing checkers, playing cards, playing Jenga, two children building Lego structures. Every one of them somehow had their back turned to her.
“Hi, kids!” she said as brightly as she could manage. “How are we doing today? I see everyone seems to be here. That’s great!”
“Kids?” She said, a bit quieter.
One of the children, Andy, at the far end of the room, began to shudder. At first she thought he was weeping, but then she heard that it was, in fact, a giggle. Another child, Samantha, joined in. Then a third, a fourth, and before she could say anything further all of the children were giggling madly. She yelped and jumped as the Jenga set clattered to the table. She took a step back, and as one by one they turned to her, she screamed, staggering backwards, and fell into the strong arms of a stranger.
“Hi,” said a voice from behind. It was the last word Molly would ever hear.
The explosion rocked half the city.
The morning following the explosion, Darrek, Henry, Yun-Xun, and Danny notice the Yellow Sign painted in inconspicuous locations all around the city. After convening to compare notes, the group decides to investigate further and travel to the various sites where it was spotted.
At The Hive, the group finds Jamie crying in Anita’s office and learn that Daniel is missing from Western Psychiatric. The door to his room has been completely ripped out of the wall and the room is covered in blood from floor to ceiling. Anita pulls Darrek aside to talk to him and asks him how he is holding up. He is confused by her question, and she remarks, “Haven’t they called you? I can’t believe they wouldn’t…” Darrek checks his phone and discovers he indeed has a missed call and a voicemail from Western Psych asking him to call them as soon as possible. Anita puts her hand over his when he goes to call them back and informs him that Sam is also missing. The situation surrounding his disappearance appears to be identical to Daniel’s. When Darrek asks how she was able to obtain this information, Anita looks embarrassed, and goes on to explain that the hospital called her when they couldn’t reach Darrek because she has been the anonymous benefactor paying for Sam’s care all of these years and says, “Don’t ask me how. You wouldn’t like it.” She explains that she was about to leave to head there to investigate further when Jamie came in.
The group heads to Western Psych to investigate. As they approach Sam’s room, the feeling is awful, like the strange, alien energy they have been encountering with increasing frequency. Darrek checks on the angel who is still there, however the room is heavily warded. Speaking to a nurse who was on duty the night before, there was no sound of Sam or Daniel’s disappearance. Asking to see the security tapes, everything happened in the flash of a second. Right before midnight, all is normal, then static, then carnage. Entering the room, Danny notices there is no splatter pattern to the blood. There is not much time to investigate as the Lyssicus energy overwhelms Darrek who starts to giggle madly. The group takes him outside for some fresh air. Darrek gets a text message from Joe telling the group to head over to Children’s Hospital.
The scene at Children’s Hospital is far worse than the one at Western Psychiatric. The area is bathed in Lyssicus. Burnt bodies of children smile in a cross between ecstasy and abject horror. A large section of the hospital is a smoking crater. Hilda starts to giggle, then shakes it off. The explosion happened around midnight, around the same time as the disappearances at Western Psych. The group is informed by Joe that a cafeteria worker named Amber was the lone survivor. Sedatives do not seem to have an affect on her. She is being cared for by two paramedics, laughing and crying at the same time. Several members of the group notice upon approaching her that she has a touch of The Gift. Darrek convinces the paramedics to take a coffee break so the group can talk to Amber. Darrek places his hand on Amber’s shoulder, and receives a shock. Amber does not have much to say, mostly insane rambling about laughter and insanity. Hilda and Yun-Xun venture into the wreckage of the cancer ward to look for more clues. Unfortunately, not much was found except for more carnage. Joe ushers the group out quickly just as the Department of Homeland Security arrives and seizes control of the investigation.
Leaving the hospital behind, Henry suggests a frozen yogurt break. Darrek declares this a stroke of pure genius and treats the group without a second thought. Over the cold treats, the group discusses the events of the previous night: Was the attack on Children’s Hospital a cover for the disappearances at Western Psych? Or was that attack used to power taking Sam and Daniel? Darrek acknowledges that children have potential energy that can be used in powerful magics.
The group arrives back at the Hive to report back to Anita. Darrek mentions what happened when he touched Amber, and Anita comments that the shock could have been a reflex as she appears to be unaware of her Gift. The group wonders if the Yellow Signs could be appearing to form a larger symbol over the city. Plotting what the group knows of where the signs have been spotted on a map, no larger symbol is noticed. However, the symbols only seem to be located in poor, urban areas of town. The group decides to test what would happen if a symbol is removed. Heading down to Bates Street, Henry uses his magics to power wash the graffiti away. Nothing bad happens, so the rest of the afternoon is spent in a cleaning montage around the City. At the end of the day, Darrek proudly congratulates Henry on a job well done using his abilities in such a creative and practical way in serving the greater good.
Henry calls Megan to check if any of her kids from the shelter have seen the signs around town. Megan comments that some of the regular kids at the shelter have gone missing recently. Darrek calls Dr. Armedt to fill him in about Daniel and Sam’s disappearances. During their conversation. Dr. Armedt mentions that there have been supernatural brush fires popping up all around town.
That night, Hilda and Yun-Xun join forces hunting vampires.
The next morning, new symbols are seen on the way to the Hive. Checking the news, murders occurred in the same spots as the signs overnight. Joe arrives at The Hive. The newly public Cult of Hastur is taking responsibility for the killings. He presents a file to the group that shows all victims posed smiling with a needle in their neck. Death was by injection of some kind. The more disturbing fact is that all the victims were the parents of the children killed in the Children’s Hospital explosion. On a flash drive, he plays a video taken from Children’s Hospital the night of the explosion. It shows Daniel dressed as The Joker walking out of the hospital with a line of children following him while laughing. Joe argues with Darrek that he needs to face reality regarding his best friend. Darrek remains adamant that Joe is wrong about Daniel being the Joker.
At that moment, a wave of Lyssicus washes over the Hive and the Joker appears at the entrance and walks right in. He rushes Joe, grabbing him and slamming his head off of the table. Darrek instinctively begins to channel Essence and the Joker warns him not to force his hand by doing anything brash. He asks someone to get him a cup of coffee and let him use their smartphone, and starts playing Pokemon GO on the smartphone. Another wave of Lyssicus washes over the Hive and he exclaims, “All the world’s a stage! The main event is coming, only the two of us now. Two men. But she, she is the main event!”
Yun-Xun giggles, then starts laughing maniacally. Then all of the patrons except for Matthew, Anita, and Darrek begin laughing. Essence begins bleeding off everyone laughing, and they realize everyone who is laughing was drinking coffee. Father Bob and Sandra reach for one another, joining hands and channeling Essence. Darrek and Henry sense this and also lend their energy. A massive wave of Essence washes over the Hive, banishing the Lyssicus and calming the manic laughter; however, several patrons are dead. The Joker makes a parting remark towards Sandra, tips a non-existent hat, and takes his leave.
Seeing the dead patrons, Sandra breaks down. Darrek and Father Bob comfort her. After Sandra is calm Darrek realizes Henry is missing and asks everyone if they saw where he went. No one seems to know. He finds Henry curled up in the fetal position in the theater. They talk, and eventually Henry is able to come back upstairs.
Suspecting that the Joker put something something in the coffee, Darrek suggests Joe take a sample to Delia for testing at UPMC. He agrees. The group, after regaining their composure and strength go to discuss the tests with Delia and are somewhat surprised to find her brother sitting in the corner of her lab, scratching away at a sketch book. Delia pretends there’s nothing unusual about this, and reports the chemicals in the coffee are the same as the gas the Joker has used previously. With the wide spread use of this chemical, the group concludes that there must be a factory where the chemical is being produced. Where could the Joker be hiding such an operation? Darrek suggests that the group take a lunch break to have some Indian food and contemplate their next move.
During lunch, the group doesn’t come up with any leads of where they might find such a factory. Henry thinks it might be worth talking to Kokumthena. The group heads back to The Hive. Henry begins to channel Essence, and as the energy starts to spin around, the entire group sees a Native American woman who is clearly not human. Henry is permitted to ask three questions of her.
- Where is there Lyssicus? (potential factory site) – Lots of places around the city have this energy. It is like a cancer.
- Where are Sam and Daniel? – She cannot see them.
- Where is Alan? – She cannot see him.
Since Kokumthena was unable to assist with locating a factory, the group heads to the Carnegie Library to research. Darrek quickly finds a news article about a factory in Clarion that just closed a month ago…a likely place for The Joker to have set up shop. The group then works quickly to gather blueprints of the factory to leave that night. Henry thinks to bring yellow spray paint to draw a giant yellow sign on the roof of the factory since it is both a boon and a bane.
The group parks a distance from the factory and sneaks up. As they approach, they notice figures in the woods that look like the missing children. All of them are saturated with Lyssicus. The group sneaks up to the roof, and Yun Xun paints a passable Yellow Sign on the roof of the factory. Henry then begins to pump Essence into the sign. Darrek has a flash back of Sam directing energy into a Yellow Sign so he tries to dive into the steam of energy at the last possible moment to divert it.
As the sign starts to charge, the roof door flies open and The Joker appears, followed by eight of the sick children. The children form a circle protecting The Joker. A fight breaks out. The group discovers that some of the children are not children at all, but robots! As Yun Xun takes out some of the Joker bots, Hilda attacks The Joker. Before the children can act, Darrek casts a spell and they fall into a deep, mystical sleep. The Joker laughs and triggers all the Joker bots to explode! The group survives the blast, but the sleeping children do not. Enraged by this senseless loss of innocent life, the group collectively and repeatedly attack The Joker. Darrek wells with Essence and throws a large blast of Soulfire which knocks The Joker off the roof. A flash of yellow light appears and The Joker disappears.
Darrek and Henry dispel the Yellow Sign on the roof. The remaining children around the factory come to their senses and are very frightened. The rest of the Joker bots stop moving. Joe is called and briefed on the situation, and is asked to arrange transport for the children who are moved to outside the factory. The inside of the factory has plenty of chemicals left behind. Using them and the detonators from the remaining Joker bots, the factory is blown up to prevent this site from being used again. The group agrees that it is best that they’re not around when the police arrive and head back to Darrek’s car. Yun Xun can not bear to leave the children alone, and stays behind, hidden, until the police arrive and she knows that they are safe.
The next morning, the news reports a abandoned factory in Clarion has exploded in the night. Arriving at The Hive, Anita finds a yellow envelope on her desk. Inside is a small note written in red crayon, “Fun party.”
People are heard entering the cafe, and Anita’s eyes go wide. Standing in the doorway are Klaus and Drake. Anita comes out of her office, runs over, and literally jumps into Drake’s arms, hugging him in a surprising display of affection. The joy of their reunion is cut short by an emergency news report. In the town of Miner’s Mill, Indiana, everyone living there is reportedly dead following an unusual flash of yellow light. Two lone survivors are shown standing on the roof of a warehouse there.
It is Alan, and with him, Lorelei, badly beaten, and very much corporeal.
Anita informs Darrek and Matthew that she is leaving daily operations of Blake Investigations in their capable hands while she, Drake, and Klaus go to deal with this new development. Sandra informs Anita that she is also coming with them, whether Anita likes it or not. She nods, but is clearly unhappy.
“This city’s graffiti problem is getting more Eldritch these days.” -Henry
“I don’t have to deal with that whole can of emotional worms.” -Henry
“He is doing that awkward silence.” -Henry
“I am good at that.” -Darrek
Re: Gauging Darrek’s level of emotional upset
“On a scale from one to a Trump presidency?” -Henry
“Magically speaking, how do you define a virgin? I need to know. For reasons.” -Henry
“Yes. I, too, would like to know this.” -Hilda
“You’re a Protector. I’m pretty sure that trumps the whole virgin thing.” – Darrek
“What was that about Trump?” -Henry
Re: Powerwashing the Yellow Sign with magic
“I feel slightly better about today.” -Henry
“Well, that is a shitty theory.” -Henry
“I’m rubbing off on him. It is disturbing when a child opens their mouth and you come out.” -Darrek
“Guns sometimes work over here. Magic sometimes works there. A sword always works.” -Hilda
“I cannot own a gun.” -Darrek
“Oh, are you a felon?” -Henry
“Like the chemical does not want to be identified” -Yun-Xun
“Attributing desire to a base element is silly.” -Henry
Cold Stare -Yun-Xun
“I’m not convinced a god of madness needs a chemical factory.” -Hilda
“Henry! Not in the Indian restaurant!” -Darrek
loudly “What bloody gun?? We don’t have a gun!” -Darrek
All the patrons in the Carnegie stare at him nervously. Darrek turns red
Re: The abandoned factory
“What’s arson between friends?” -Henry
Re: The Joker
“Now he is running a sweat shop?” -Yun Xun
“Matthew is not the only stealth angel in this bitch.” -Henry
“Henry is now spider monkey.” -Hilda
Re: Drake and Klaus arriving in Pittsburgh
“Who wants to live with me?” -Anita
Raises hand -Klaus
Re: Hilda’s concerns about Blake Investigations’ openness to working with vampires and demons
“Did you know that Buffy had sex with vampires?” -Drake
“A lot of sex with vampires.” Drake
NIce. I love those memorable quotes, especially the “On a scale from one to a Trump presidency?” to gauge Darrek’s level of emotional upset
Really good intro too.