Lying coolly in bed together, Kate and Victoria - now dressed in their pajamas - look at one another with love in their eyes. A cool orange light illuminates the room courtesy of Kate’s superpowers. It’s only a matter of time until slumber takes them both for the night.
She tells Victoria, “That place was so nice. We should go there again some time.”
“Yeah. I used to go sometimes during my vacations. Wasn’t the best, but it was perfectly fine. I’m happy to have taken you there.” Victoria places a hand on Kate’s cheek and adds, “Also, your singing voice is beautiful. Between that and your violining, you could start a band!”
Kate lets out an easing laugh, lighting the apartment up just a bit brighter. “Maybe all of us can once this whole ‘end of the world’ business blows over.”
“I hope…” Victoria pauses and corrects herself: “I’m certain we’ll get that far. Farther, even.”
“We will.” Kate pulls a blanket over her and Victoria, and plants a kiss on the top of her head. “Good night, Vic.”
“Good night, Katie. I love you.” Kate aims her palm at the ceiling and re-absorbs the light from the room, engulfing the room in natural darkness. The two hold onto one another and fall asleep quickly.
In that darkness lurks Dolly, standing in the corner. She stares at the two as her eyes glow a dull white light.
Internally, Dolly monologues, “ I hope you two enjoy what the boss has in store for you .” Dolly walks over to the cage of Alice the Rabbit and opens it. Quietly, she lifts the small rabbit out of her cage and shushes it to keep her quiet. She tosses a ransom letter into the cage as well before turning to the kitchen. Quietly, she slinks out through the window in the kitchen and down to the streets where her villainous associates are awaiting her return.
The man with the metal mane asks, “What’d ya get?”
“Insurance for the future, Elmer. Let’s go.” Dolly hops onto her front seat and plops her helmet on her head.
Jefferson shakes his head and adds, “Uh… Okay.” The crew begin pedalling away from Overlook Avenue. “Tangi, what’s this chick’s deal?”
“We’re going to war in the near future, Jeffrey. We’re going to be fighting on the frontlines!”
Dolly looks back and tells the two, “Keep it down back there.”
“Sorry.” Tangi looks to Jefferson and tells him, “We’re going to bring about the end of Arcadia Bay.”
Jefferson rolls his eyes and asks, “You really bought that Storm Singer’s end-of-days crap?”
Dolly tells him, with her eyes on the road ahead, “He’s not the propagator. Just a helping hand. Like us.”
“Okay, so, if we’re ‘going to war’ who is our enemy?”
Tangi states, with a firm look on his face: “Maxine Caulfield and her friends.”
Jefferson’s eyes widen and he speaks nothing, in shock… until he erupts into a fit of laughter: “Ah ha, oh ha, what? My former student - the shy Miss Caulfield - is some goddess of time? Oh ho, oh man. That’s- ah - I may have made some errors in my criminal career, but that’s just…” Tangi gives Jefferson a serious look. “You’re serious?”
Dolly explains, “Yes, Jefferson, she’s one of our primary enemies. And boy, is she fun to fight. Also, keep it down, I heard police sirens.”
Tangi playfully scoffs and adds, “I’d use ‘annoying’, but to each their own.”
“How is she our enemy? She’s all shy, lonely, depressing to look at.”
Tangi raises a hand and counts off with his fingers. “Let’s see; she put you in jail, foiled my Halloween scheme, is Dolly’s natural nemesis, and… I dunno, has a bad fashion sense.”
Jefferson asks, shocked as can be, “She what?!”
Tangi repeats himself, “Has a bad fashion se-”
“Not that! I mean, she put me in jail?! How?!”
“Time powers. According to Dolly, she - or rather, some other version of her - came back from the future to let Nathan Prescott kill Chloe Price. This led to him and you getting thrown in jail, and the Prescotts getting the boot, and a whole bunch of stuff nobody cares about.”
Jefferson balls his hands into fists and angrily growls, “That… That bitch.” He turns his attention to the other villains and asks, “What are your guyses deal with her?”
The man with the metal mane tells him, “Us? Oh, um, nothing really. She actually seems quite nice, if anything. All that matters is that I’m getting paid richly.”
Dolly tells Jefferson, “They’re just muscle. Good muscle. Let me introduce them to you. The jacket’s name is Elmer. He’s like a metal porcupine. Or Muppet depending on how you look at him.”
Elmer waves at Jefferson with a snide smile on his face. “Hiya.”
Nervously, Jefferson waves at him, “Hi.”
“The walking pile of laundry is the godly Lord Laundry, and the scarf’s name is Jumbo. He can grow twenty feet tall. You already know Tangi, the Happy Clown.” Tangi nods giddily. “And of course, me. I am Dolly. A psychic psychopath on the path that fate has put me on.”
“Well, hello to all of you.” Jefferson looks at the box floating around them and asks, “Who’s in the box?”
Dolly nods. “You’ll see. Now, who are you?”
Jefferson laughs and arrogantly tells the crew, “Surely, you must’ve heard of me.”
Elmer shakes his head, Lord Laundry ignores the question and Jumbo is dead silent. Elmer suddenly remembers, “Oh, I know you! You’re that shitty photographer! Makes sense.”
“‘Sh-shitty’?! I’ll have you know I am a published artist, author and professor.”
Elmer rolls his eyes and tells him, “Ooh-wee, how cool. I’ve also published shit.”
Jefferson asks as a challenge, “Oh, really?”
“No, biiiitch!” Elmer laughs heartily and Lord Laundry offers him a high-five which he accepts. Jefferson sighs, upset. “Aw, creepo gonna cry? Boo-hoo. What’s this loser doing with us again, Dolly?”
“He’s here to bring the hurt. Emotional hurt and all that. And because he was in the dream I had. Plus, it means Tangi gets to come along and, quite frankly, I like him. He’s got spunk.”
Tangi smiles at Jefferson and tells him, “D’aww. She lik-”
“I heard.” Jefferson crosses his arms and looks off at the Oregon wilderness, annoyed. “How- how long until we reach our destination?”
Dolly shrugs and sarcastically tells him, “Sure.” The villains laugh at him again. “I’m gonna take a call of sorts. Be right back, y’all.” Dolly clutches her forehead and sends her consciousness out to Missouri for a quick talk with another villain. One who is unable to attend this gathering of goons.
In the other Max’s cell located at the Agency of Metahuman Containment’s Missouri Base, the doppelganger fiddles with a photograph of a train on the outskirts of Arcadia Bay. She believes she took it once, when she was hanging out with Chloe. She’s also in the photograph… under the train. Dolly nods in approval, surprising the other Max. The psychic supervillain mentally yells, “ Hey there, you !”
The other Max looks at Dolly’s mental apparition in confusion and asks, “ Ah, Dolly? It’s been how long? Two months? ”
“ Give or take, yes. I’d like to let you know about the mission. ”
“ Yes, I’m aware of it. The end of days, back on track. And I know my place. But my time isn’t now. ”
Dolly tells her, “ Yep. That’s Christmas. Heh. ” She offers the other Max her hand and asks, “ But, uh, just for the record, no hard feelings? ”
The other Max grins, taking her hand and calmly telling her, “ None. Now, go and wreck some shit out there, will ya? And then, come Christmas, I’ll be playing my part. ”
Dolly’s mask smirks and she nods gleefully, telling her, “ Ooh, I forgot how much I liked ya! Here’s to the future! And here’s to death. Tootles! ” Dolly waves goodbye to the doppelganger and disappears into the wind.
After roughly five more hours of pedalling and with the sun shortly on the rise, the criminal crew reach their destination: a pristine white mansion with a fountain out front on the driveway. The mansion rests on the edge of Culmination, away from prying eyes. Dolly speaks into an intercom near the gate to get in: “Teddy, we’re here!”
He speaks through to them. “Come on in.”
The villains ride in and stop the motorcycle by the water fountain as it shoots fluorescent blue water. They step off their bicycle and briefly stretch their legs before marching up the stairs to the porch, through the front door, past the luxurious living room, and into Teddy’s office.
Teddy sits and stares at a logfire behind him with a Cuban cigar in his mouth. He wears a black two-piece business suit with a white buttoned shirt underneath. His hair is jet black and his face is strong, straight, almost set in stone… or silicone, if you look hard enough. He also has a band-aid slapped onto his right temple. He spits out the smoke and spins around in his chair to see the villains standing at his desk. “Ah, greetings. Glad to see you’ve all come. Dolly, thank you for bringing them.”
Dolly curtsies for the crime lord. “It was a pleasure.”
Teddy smiles and asks of the villains, “Please, tell me about yourselves.”
Lord Laundry demonstrates his ability to stretch his limbs with socks in his arms - all connected to a feathery yellow jacket as a torso. “Freaky. But I am interested.”
Elmer sticks a finger on his head of hair and shows a small drop of blood spill from his right index finger. “Ouch. Close range combat can definitely work. You like guns too?” Elmer nods frantically. “We’ll get you a gun.”
Tangi blows a gray balloon and distorts it into an adorable little elephant. He distorts it again to turn it into a greatsword. “Impressive, quite a sick skill.” Tangi lets out a giggle to which Teddy adds, “And a lovely little laugh. Keep that, clown.”
Jumbo gets down on one knee and grows larger, almost touching the ceiling. “Careful with the ceiling, boy, or you’ll pay in blood.” He shrinks and curtsies for Teddy as well.
Jefferson waves at Teddy, who is unimpressed by the perverted photographer. “I suppose you’ll work well when we have to face Miss Caulfield. According to Dolly, she’s had… a history with you.”
Teddy walks over to the leather box and unlatches it. “Now, for the man in the box.” He opens it and sees a dismembered corpse. He looks for the head and lifts it up with his bare hands, much to the disgust of his villainous cohorts. “Long time, no see. Mister Merrick. Dolly, Shrub, to me at once.”
Elmer points at the villain and exclaims, “Aww, shit. I knew that guy once!”
Tangi asks, “What’s up with him?”
“That’s Damon friggin’ Merrick. He’s a ruthless bastard with a history of crime in Arcadia Bay. Stabbings, assaults, attempted murder, regular murder, dealing.”
Tangi strokes his chin and adds, “Hm. Interesting.”
The door to the office opens again and another crook - the shrubbery man who granted the Storm Singer with the ability to make mini-tornadoes - walks in. “Welcome. Meet Shrub.” Teddy dumps Merrick’s head back into the box and asks, “Dolly, can you and Shrub put Mister Merrick back together again?”
“Of course!” Dolly walks up to the box with Shrub who shoots an infinite red ribbon from his hand into the box. Dolly rubs her forehead and adds, “Rise, oh so-so Merrick! Your death must be undone just this once so as to serve the essence of further pain and pillaging! Rise!”
Shrub cuts off the ribbon and it rolls into the box.
Silence befalls the office.
Jefferson asks Dolly in a whisper, “Was any of that chanting really necessary?”
Dolly whispers back, “No. It was just fun.”
Damon Merrick emerges from the box, his body wrapped in red ribbons to keep him from falling apart. He screams, “AAAAAAGH! Holy fuck, where am I?! Who the fuck are you people?!”
Dolly looks around and tells him, “We’re… uh, a supervillain team without a name. We’re gonna come up with one soon enough.” She puts a shoulder on his arm to reassure him and he jolts away from her.
“That doesn’t answer my question. Where. Am. I?”
Teddy tells him, “You’re in Culmination.”
Damon smirks and remarks, “Oh, hey, Teddy. Did I… I died?”
Teddy nods and asks, “What do you remember?”
“I had just finished beatin’ up this kid. Name was Chloe Price. Friend of the DA’s daughter. But then, my buddy, fake friend Frank Bowers, fucked me up. Sliced me up. Killed me. Fuck him.”
“Indeed. You’ve missed a lot. Four years in fact.”
Damon steps back in shock: “Oh my god, that long?”
“Yes. And in that time, the world has gotten… strange. We now have superheroes running around. People like Maxine Caulfield, the Superwolf, Rachel Amber and more cropping up from out of the woodworks. Miss Caulfield in particular threatens my business. She has slowly been dismantling my empire - Frank, Merrill, Eric across the border, the Santa Monica crew. The list goes on. But I feel that, to combat superheroes, I need supervillains. And thus, I require your services to dispose of her and her friends… in some team. ‘Project Morpho’, she calls it.”
Elmer asks, “Can we get a name?”
“Aye. You shall henceforth be known as… my Enforcers Eight!” The villains cheer and Teddy smiles upon them.
Tangi cracks wise while rubbing his belly: “Doesn’t make me any less hungry.” The villains all nod and mutter in agreement.
“You may go to the kitchen, use it as you please. Feast! For tomorrow… Our reign begins.” The villains charge into the kitchen, save for Dolly and Jefferson who stay behind with Teddy. He asks her, “What’s the bunny for?”
Dolly looks at Alice, holding her carefully in one hand, as she feeds her a nice carrot. “A hostage. We need to let them know we mean business.”
“Ah. Who’s bunny is that?”
Dolly fixes her attention on Teddy and adds, “Does it matter? They won’t hurt us right away now. If this bunny dies, it’ll… make them feel really sad.”
Teddy shrugs and walks away, saying to himself, “Whatever.”
Jefferson looks around and asks Dolly, “So am I just gonna run around and… shoot my enemies?”
“No, no, I’ve got something special for you.” Dolly hands the rest of the carrot to Alice and summons a camera-helmet that has a black cape with red velvet lining the inside. She holds it in her free hand. “Go ahead. Try it on.” The helmet floats out of her hand and into Jefferson’s grasp.
He puts it on over his head and comments, “Feels stuffy in here.”
Dolly crushes her free hand into a fist and exclaims, “Project that pain onto your enemies!”
Jefferson shrugs. “Fine.” He walks away to join the other villains in the kitchen.
Victoria looks out at the Hudson River from an apartment in downtown New York as the sun sets. She’s dressed in a red sweater and black leggings. Her hair is also a bit longer than usual. Kate, dressed in a brown t-shirt and jeans, walks over to her and hugs her from behind, bringing a smile to Vic’s face. Her hair has been done up into a braid. Kate tells her, “Max just called. Said her and Chloe are doing great work in Paraguay!”
Victoria nods her head with a smile. “Cool… Wait, what?”
Kate looks around and asks, “What is this?”
“I feel floaty.” Victoria realizes the situation, taps her forehead and proclaims, “Oh, we’re in a dream! Again.”
Victoria looks around and enjoys the change of scenery. “This is nice though. No end of the world… And…” Victoria looks at her hand and looks at Kate’s hand. Wedding rings on their middle fingers. “There are our wedding rings. Ha! Oh, good.”
Kate tells her, “You know, I’ve always wanted to visit New York. Seems nice.”
Victoria tells her with a nice grin, “It is. Or, most of it is.” She cups Kate’s chin in her hand and tells her, “How about I take you there one day?”
Kate nods her head and smiles. “I’d like that.” She walks away into their bedroom and says, “Hey, Vic.”
Victoria follows her in, asking, “Yeah?” But she isn’t in the bedroom.
With more urgency, Kate calls out from nowhere, “Vic!”
Victoria looks around, now a bit worried, and asks her again, “What? What’s happening?”
“VIC!” Kate shakes Victoria by her arms and wakes her up.
Victoria shakily looks around the apartment and asks, “Whahapp-”
“Alice is missing!”
Vic’s eyes open wide and she jumps out of bed, panicked. She gets onto the floor and peeks under the bed with Kate. “How? She was in her cage, right?”
“Yeah, but…” Kate steps on a piece of paper. Dolly’s ransom letter. “Someone left this.” Kate shows Victoria the letter Dolly left behind, written with magazine cutouts.
“DeaR VIC Tori A & k A Te,
We HAvE kIdNAPpED UR preCiOUS aLICE n the ONly way 2 get her back is 2 turn over Max n Chloe to TEDDY in culMINation within thE next 24 HRS. If NOT, we WILLI be havING rabbit stew. TICK TOCK.
l0 VE , Dolly <3”
“Why’d she use magazine cutouts if she’s going to sign it too? Makes no sense.” Kate gives a worrisome look to Victoria and she adds, “Okay. We need to talk with Max and Chloe… I can try and make a deal with Dolly. You can talk with Max and Chloe.” Victoria plops a kiss on Kate’s forehead and tells her, “I’ll get her back. Promise.” She walks out of the apartment.
Kate balls her hand into a fist and looks at it as it glows, absorbing the emerging sunlight from the sky.