It was a normal day at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, Florida. Everyone was enjoying their time at the park except those who were disappointed that the Tower of Terror was closed. No one knew why that was except for a few rumors that floated around that it was really haunted.
Some people witnessed an elevator door open to a strange black portal. Some said that they saw a young boy, no older than 14 or 15 roam the lobby at night.
No matter what the reason was, the tower was closed to the public until further noticed. All the cast members of the ride were too afraid to explore the tower at night. Finally, the main cast member decided to set out a reward to anyone who would help with their little 'ghost' problem.
It hadn't been the reward that'd lured Reuben out to the tower in the dead of night. Comitting to some potentially dangerous, difficult task for some extra cash. No, he was here to investigate the sightings of a black portal seen within an elevator. Who knows? It could be his ticket out of here. Of course, there were also the rumors of a kid wandering the halls late at night, but he probably wasn't a ghost. After all, these sightings were recent, and it wasn't as if any kids had died here. No, it was far more likely that another "visitor" had been trapped here in the and had taken up residence in the tower. Once he'd located and investigated the black portal, Reuben intended to find the kid, pawn him off on someone who was more interested in helping him settle down, and collect his reward. Unless it was something or someone else. Maybe even another experiment. Yes, it'd be even better if he encountered another member of his familia. There was also the chance it was a real ghost. He almost shuddered at the possibility. If it was, he was out of here.
He'd had to come at this hour, both due to the constraints of his job and the many, many so called ghost hunters who'd come to the tower to try to earn the reward. Tonight was the only one that he could have the building all to himself. No ghost detectives getting in his way.
Reuben had a pack full of sandwiches to help him through the night, as well as a flashlight and a little device used for detecting spacial anomalies, AKA portals, that he'd built himself out of scrap parts. Reuben managed to fit his chubby body through the door left intentionally open by the cast member and let the beam of his flashlight blaze a path through the darkness within the building. At present, he was only a little fearful of the possibility of a paranormal encounter. Trying to distract himself, he moved the little device around, trying to get a signal as he entered further into the black depths. At last, it started beeping, and Reuben began heading in that direction. All was well, until a large metal pipe clanged to the ground directly behind him. "Who's there!" he called out, moving the flashlight to catch the other in its beam. The fear was beginning to set in, and Reuben tried to distract himself with logical, rational thought. Ghosts weren't real, this had to be another trapped soul. But all the rationalizing in the world still couldn't erase the ever present dread.
A young man walked into view with a pair of goggles over his eyes. His shaggy ebony hair had a light blue streak that almost glowed eerily in the light of the moon. He looked completely out of place in the large lobby of the Tower. His clothes looked like something only a steampunk fan would wear.
The young man walked up to retrieve the pipe when he noticed the alien experiment. He stared at the alien then walked up to the him and examined him carefully before he spoke, "I am here. I am Varian. Who are you and why are you here?" He lifted his goggles to reveal light blue eyes to him. He didn't seem pleased to see him there. He raised an eyebrow at him.
Varian picked up Reuben to have a better look at him. He cradled him and tickled his furry belly. He then smiled as he looked at Reuben, "You are kinda cute for a creature I've never seen before."
It was almost comedic how quickly the situation went from terrifying to rewarding. Now he could claim the reward and not have to deal with any menacing spirits in the process (hopefully). He only had to find the portal and convince the boy to reveal himself to the outside world to claim the reward. His theory was right. It wasn't a ghost, just a regular flesh and blood kid who wasn't of this world, but another. Another victim of this bizarre theme park curse. His goggles and clothes pretty much gave away the foreigness to this world.
Varian, as he labeled himself, was the first to ask who he was and why he was here. He didn't seem to be pleased that Reuben was also here. The feeling was mutual. Reuben preferred to be safe and sound in bed instead of in a theme park building after hours. "I'm Reuben, fellow victim of this bizarre curse, sandwich making extraordinare, and currently, a portal hunter."
Reuben set the flashlight down to illuminate them both, and turned to open his pack. "I've got some...AAAAAH! NO! LET ME DOWN! LET ME DOWN!" This maniac had actually picked him up! The situation had immediately gone back to horrifying! Now Varian was trying to cuddle with him! Reuben continued to struggle and force the boy to drop him. But it only got worse. Reuben squirmed as Varian began prodding him with his fingers. He was tickling him! Through convulsive fits of laughter, Reuben kicked out reflexively with his stumpy feet. "No! Stop!" he cried out.
After the remark about how "cute" he was, Reuben responded, in a calmer tone, "And from where you're from, people apparently don't respect personal space. Now, LET ME DOWN!"
"Oh right! Sorry," Varian said as he set Reuben down carefully. "I apologies. I just....I've never seen anyone like you except in the form of stuffed animals at the local shops." He kneeled down so Reuben could see he wasn't really a threat. He smiled at him when he heard Reuben mention sandwiches, "Oh, you like sandwiches? I'm a ham sandwich man myself."
Varian raised an eyebrow at the mention of portals. "Do you mean the portals that transport us to different areas of the Walt Disney Resorts or the one that could take us home?," he asked as he got up to retrieve the pipe. He picked it up and heads to the elevators, "If you're looking for the portal that can deliver us to our true homes, I'm afraid I'm still working on it."
Varian patiently waited for Reuben to follow him. He opened the door to the elevator to reveal a huge black portal and sighed, "This portal connects with the other tower in Disney's California Adventure."
"Yes, but I'm alive." Reuben said irritably. He needed a sandwich to calm down. As he rifled through his pack, he listened to Varian. For a guy who seemed to think that any living being that so much as resembled a cute, fluffy stuffed animal should be treated as such, at least he had good taste. That didn't mean that Reuben was going to offer him the ham sandwich he'd conveniently packed. Not after the tickle torture he'd been forced to endure. He pulled out a tuna salad sandwich and closed the pack.
"One that could take me home. Not that I've had any luck, you've apparently found the portals that provide an all-access pass to the other theme parks." Varian began heading to the elevators, apparently he'd already located the rumored black portal. Good. As Reuben watched the young man open the door to the elevator and gazed at the portal within he asked "And what've you been using to try to change the portal's destination?" He took a large bite out of his sandwich, and savored the flavor. He had a knack for mechanics that he was sure would be useful in this situation.
"I've been try to use electro-magnetic pulses in different levels of power to find a proper solution but to no avail," Varian sighed as he layed the poll next to five makeshift generators. "Right now I'm measuring the portal's power fluctuation to see what I might have missed in my earlier tests." He picked up a clipboard with a chart on it and began to record the data he was reading.
Varian was obviously very keen to return home. His father was all he could think about as he looked at his chart. He began to get a little frustrated, "What am I missing? There must be something that I've missed." He grabbed a notebook that he got from Winter when he traveled back and forth between the two towers. She's been getting supplies at her church's thrift store that her father runs. She even brought over some old devices from her house to help.
Varian was checking the records of data he had been collecting over the past week. He checked over to his makeshift workbench to check on the spectrometeric press to check to see if the portal had any alchemical attributes.
Jake was on his way over to the Tower of Terror the second he heard the news about it. The portal, and the boy. The last bit meant that someone new probably arrived in the park, and Jake, being a part of the welcome committee, wanted to make sure said person was brought to speed on the situation. It was still something he wanted to help Elsa out with, after all. As for that portal, Jake was curious. And that meant investigating the matter.
Of course, the cast members and security team didn't want anyone to go into the tower, and instead relied on getting others to help out with it. That was basically them saying 'get a special guest involved. They know what to do'. Sure, some did, but the people who run this place should still show some bravery.
Until then, he was most likely on his own. Jake would make his way through the main lobby, and past one of the rooms where guests would stand to watch the pre-show. It was dark, yet Jake did catch a glimpse of light before he entered, and followed it. This led him down into the basement, where guests would normally board the ride. And there, he would spot one familiar face, and one new one.
Good, he wasn't alone after all.
"Well, we meet again, Reuben." Jake grinned as he approached the pair, "I guess your curiosity brought you here as well."
He then looked to the boy, "And you might be our mystery man. You know, the cast members closed this place down, talking about a boy and some..." He glanced past them, spotting the black portal in the elevator, "Well...that's new."
The cogs of Reuben's mind whirred. "Hmmm...suppose we were to apply pulses on the portal from both sides, that might be enough to finally disrupt it." He said, before shoving a large piece of sandwich in his mouth and chewing it eagerly. Though whoever had brought them here likely locked the portal's routes against any effect. HIs thoughts were interrupted when the pair was quickly joined by a third, Jake the Australian mouse. "No..." he said, pointing at the portal "that's what brought me here..." He licked his fingers "As well as Varian." He watched as the mouse's attention was redirected to the black portal. "He's holed himself up here, trying to redirect the portal to take us home."
"That's a good thought. Help me reroute the power. You take the first generator, I'll take the second," Varian said as he walked over to the generator closest to him. He was about to reroute the power of his generator when he heard another voice. He looked down to the source of the noise to see a mouse. He wasn't sure what to make of the dressed mouse but decided not to question why he was here.
"I would advise you wear safety goggles for this," Varian said as he grabbed his spare goggles from his bag and gave them to Reuben. "Ruddiger! Please have our new guest stand behind the safety glass on the table," he called out to his raccoon. Ruddiger jumped down from the table and got Jake on his back. Once he got the mouse on his back, he jumped onto the table and got behind a makeshift wall Varian made for him when he's working on something dangerous.
Reuben explained to Jake about how the portal was how he got here. And that the boy,Varian, was also brought here via such. Of course, Jake was skeptical if it could be used as a way back home. But if it was, it probably had to be controlled first. Which is why the two were trying to stabilize it, no doubt. That, Jake didn't know, since he wasn't much of a scientist.There was probably some techno mumbo jumbo that he was missing. Something that Varian seemed to have some knowledge about.
Before Jake could reply, he would suddenly feel himself lifted off the ground. Again! By a raccoon! "Oy! Careful with the jacket!" He protested. When the raccoon dropped him on it's back, Jake huffed and adjusted his clothing. After dealing with being picked up by Imelda's cat, he wasn't too fond of being picked up against his will. The kangaroo mouse sighed, and looked back to the boy once he and the raccoon were behind the wall, "Well, I can tell that this is something you know well. Name's Jake, by the way."
Reuben watched as Varian's pet raccoon, who he hadn't noticed until now, picked the mouse up and take him behind a wall of safety glass. He reluctantly slipped the goggles over his ebony eyes. If only Jake had been bigger and had some knowledge in mechanics, then he could be the one hiding behind the wall, savoring another sandwich instead of out here, potentially running the risk of dying or getting sucked into the portal. He pulled another sandwich out of his pack, hastily devoured it, and moved to reroute the power in the first generator. "Do you wanna take the other side and I'll fire the pulses from here?" Reuben asked, as he worked on the generator.
"Yes. Thank you, Reuben," Varian said as he got the other generators adjusted for the test. He looked back at the strange mouse and raised an eyebrow, "I'm Varian the alchemist. I come from the kingdom of Corona." He quickly returned to his work to make sure everthing was prepared before they conducted the test. He wasn't sure if Reuben's hypothesis would hold up but it could hurt to try.
"I'm ready on my end. Fire it up when ready," Varian said as he pulled his goggles over his eyes. He got behind a table he flipped over for protection. "Once you power it up, get over here. I'm not sure what's going to happen," he shouted to Reuben.
Jake did take shelter behind the wall that was set up, though he gave a bow to Varian, "Pleasure to meet you. Now, if you excuse me, I will let you two go ahead with your experiment." He would duck behind it with the raccoon. No one had to tell him twice what could happen if he didn't stay behind it. One part of him was curious as to what might happen, while the other part was more worried. Worried, due to the fact that the boy and experiment was tinkering with a portal in the middle of a ride, and there was no telling what might happen.
He would help, but he only knew how to work the equipment, not manage them. Sure, he did know how to fix up the radio back home, but that was the only thing he knew how to do. This? This was on a completly new level.
"Ready!" Reuben called out, anxiety clear in his voice. Reuben had worked fast before eagerly scrambling behind the table. He could move fast, when he wanted to, and today he really wanted to. He was desperate for any protection, even from a metal fold out. He gulped at the thought that something very, very bad could happen today, and scarfed down a sandwich as soon as he'd taken it out of his rucksack. He could hear the hum of the machines as they worked their magic. This was it. He shut his eyes and munched with grim anticipation.
The generators roared loudly as it powered the portal. It grew and grew until it practically swallowed up the elevator. Suddenly, the generators began to overload and spark.
"Oh boy....this isn't good," Varian said in a panicked voice as he watched the scene unfold. "LOOK OUT!" He quickly used his body to shield Reuben as the generators blew up and metal flies everywhere. He hissed in pain as a shard of metal scratched his arm but he refused to move. He did everything in his power to protect his new friend. Ruddiger was shielding Jake as well and knocked a bowl over them as a shield.
Jake watched as Reuben and Varian would get to work. Things seemed to work out fine...for a second. The portal grew, and the generators were shorting out as a result. Before he could even react, the raccoon would shield him from the explosion, and knock a bowl over them. Smart raccoon, he thought. Once again, he was impressed.
Once the fireworks were over, Jake would groan and lift the bowl up so he can get out from underneath it. He coughed a few times, and used his hat to fan the smoke away, "It's a good thing the ride is closed..." He coughed again, "Varian, Reuben, are you both alright?" He would approach the side of the table to check on the other two. He also checked to make sure if the portal wasn't doing anything odd...er. Like sucking objects in, or maybe trying to do something like...blow up.
Reuben curled up into a golden ball of fear and anxiety. His eyes were closed shut and all he heard was Varian's remark about it not turning out well, then, just as he Varian said "Look Out", he felt the young man's body curl around him. In an instant, a bang erupted throughout the room and Reuben felt the metal table slam backwards into him and Varian. But just as quickly, it was over. Cautiously, Reuben slowly opened one eye, then another. The air was thick with smoke and Reuben hesitantly looked over the table to see the remains of the generators. Jake approached the two. "Yea" He replied to the mouse's question. He turned to see Varian. His arm had been scratched by a piece of shrapnel but otherwise he didn't seem all that injured. Reuben, relieved that they'd survived the explosion, quickly reached into his rucksack and pulled out a sandwich, He needed it after this ordeal. As he ate, relishing that he in the bacon, lettuce and tomato trifecta, Reuben turned to examine effect the machines had on the portal, and when he saw it, his ebony eyes widened. 'Whoah..." was all he could say.
Varian coughed a bit as he tried to fan the smoke away. Ruddiger jumped onto his boy's shoulder, gently patted his face. Varian smiled at his faithful companion then back to the elevator. Thankfully the ride wasn't damage, which was a miracle due because of the explosion and debris was everywhere, but the portal was now a light blue. He walked over and stuck his head through the portal then pulled back. He shook his head sadly as the portal vanished.
Varian walked over to the table and sighed before he slammed his fists on the table in frustration. "It didn't work.....I'm never going to see my father again....," he said in defeat, about ready to cry.
Jake was astonished. One big explosion, and the ride wasn't even damaged! Perhaps whatever magic that kept them in the parks, was ensuring that the ride was fine? Either way, Varian wasn't pleased with the results. In fact, he was saddened, as the portal vanished. Seeing both his frustration and sorrow, Jake would sigh and walk up to the boy.
"Hey, don't be upset. Sure, the experiment failed. But you are one step further than where you were before." Jake would try to comfort him, "I am certain you will see your father again. You just have to keep trying, and never give up. Each failure, means that you can learn and do better. Right?"
He would then look to the broken machine, "I mean, look at this! Sure, it didn't work as you intended, but it still did something with that portal. Even if it closed. And some results is better than none."
"I wouldn't do that..." Reuben said, when Varian stuck his head through the now light blue portal. He could see it shrinking and really didn't want the tower to have its first actual ghost. Thankfully, Varian had the sense to remove his head before the portal closed. Aaaand now he was gonna throw a tantrum. If something or someone had brought them here, they weren't likely to allow them to leave. Reuben had already made his peace with the fact that the experiment might not work, but it seemed Varian had not. And of course family was his motivation to get back home. Reuben sympathized with the sentiment. Jake consoled the young man, hopefully that'd stem the waterworks. And he was right. The experiment did have an effect on the portal, just not the one they intended. "Perhaps one of us should stay here and monitor this area, in case whoever opened the portal in the first place comes back to open it again." He pulled another sandwich out of the pack and tore some of the foil off.
"How would you know? For all I know my dad is already.....," Varian whimpered softly as he took a breath before he said that dreadful word. "...Dead." He sat down on the floor as his knees gave out. "Oh....oh no....," he whispered in despair as he ran his fingers through his hair. He pulled his knees up to his chest as he began to softly sob, "He's dead and I couldn't save him. He's all I had left....." Ruddiger nuzzled against his human in an attempt to comfort the boy.
Varian looked up with a hateful glare and hissed, "This is all the princess's fault....Rapunzel.....I should never have trusted that backstabbing woman!"
((He basically ignored that comment Reuben made in the last sentence. Anyway, sorry for the late reply. Dislocated my knee.))
Jake hoped his words would get to Varian. Sadly, They did not. Instead, the boy, in his sorrow, snapped back at Jake. He sobbed as he believed his father was dead, which surprised Jake. Wasn't the boy taken away from his family? But, things soon took a turn for the worst as Varian started to get angry. He made a comment about Rapunzel, which, also surprised Jake. Wait, Rapunzel? As in, long hair, lives in a tower? He knew the fairy tales... Regardless of who Varian meant, Jake had to step in, before the boy did something too drastic that he might regret.
"Woah woah woah, hold on for a second!" Jake exclaimed, "I thought your father was back at your world, and that you were suddenly teleported here while being with your family or something! And what do you mean by Rapunzel?" He frowned and gave Varian a concerned glare, "Look mate, I want to help you. And I am sure Reuben would as well. But if you want us to, you have to tell us the whole story. Sure, we only got your name, but we don't even know where you came from, or what happened before you came here."
He hoped Varian would agree. The boy was obviously a nice kid. But, there was something dark lurking underneath the surface. And Jake wanted to figure out what that something is before it rears it's ugly head. The last thing he wants to do is to fight a child, out of all things.
((Hey, it's fine. Life takes importance more than anything else. Hope you feel better.))
Varian glanced at Jake with a sorrowful gaze. He took a breath before he spoke, "I'm sorry...I do believe I owe you both an explanation. It all began a year ago, almost six months after the princess returned, I lived in a small village with my father, Quirin. I was an outcast and I didn't have any friends except Ruddiger. I was fine with the life I was living until Rapunzel came to my doorstep."
Varian pulled his satchel over and pulled out his research about Rapunzel and the black rocks. "The princess came to me for help with her unbreakable hair but the results of the tests I did on it were lost after the boiler incident. We met again at the science expo that was being hosted at the castle. I told her about these mysterious black rocks that started sprouting up in my village. She was the one who activated the rocks," he explain as he showed his new acquaintances his research. He continued to explain, "She promised to help me discover the mystery behind the rocks. As weeks passed, my village was being overrun by the rocks, destroying homes and separating families. It got so bad, my dad and I went to speak to the king about the problem but....my dad lied to the king. He said he could handle the rock situation. I ran into the princess again and she reassured me she was going to help me. Then....the most horrible moment in my life happened..."
Varian took a shaky breath before continuing his story, "When we returned home I got to work on how to stop the rocks. After hours of trial and error, I was about to test a new formula when my dad walked in. I didn't even realize I spilled the whole formula on the rocks because my dad and I got into a huge fight. The chemical reaction created an amber from the rocks. My father saw it and pushed me out of harm's way and got trapped in the amber. I ran to the castle during a dangerous blizzard to beg the princess for help but she refused and had her guards throw me out." He felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes and tried to wipe them away. "I managed to safely get back home but when I walked inside....the amber had completely encased my dad. For weeks I tried everything to get him out of the amber. Whenever I left the house for supplies, people treated me so cruelly because someone spread a rumor about me attacking the princess during the storm. Then I did some horrible things that I regret but my biggest regret was when I kidnapped the queen and almost killing her....I'm not ready to go into details on that but I got thrown into prison," he sighed. "I'm not proud of my actions and it was never my intention to hurt the queen. I just wanted my dad back. The only family I had left and now.....I'm not even sure if he's alive in the amber...." Varian hugged his knees with a genuine look of regret in his eyes as tears fell down his face. "Even if I find a way home....I'm going to be all alone....so why am I even bothering to try? Besides....they'll probably just exile me or execute me when I get back....I guess there's no use trying to get home....," he said in defeat, becoming depressed.
Sadness. Anger. And a revenge backstory. Not too mention the heaping spoonfuls of teen angst. It was a lot for Reuben to digest. He'd rather be digesting sandwiches. And speaking of sandwiches...he pulled another out of his sack. Yeesh. Before Varian had gone into detail, he'd assumed Rapunzel had pushed him out of her tower or something. Well at least could better understand why Varian was so eager to return home. He wiped a condiment soaked hand on his fur and took some of Varian's research, poring over it as he ate. He still thought it was a good idea for someone to stay and watch over this area in case whoever made this portal returned to make it again. Though considering his temperament, Varian might not be the best candidate to do so. Just then, he saw a security camera. He could easily hack in, redirect this camera to his phone.
Then he heard voices approaching this area. The explosion had probably been heard by some of the cast members. He didn't want to stick around and explain this mess. Reuben hastily covered his unfinished sandwich with foil, dumped it in his bag, and grabbed the papers with Varian's research on them. He still hadn't finished reading them. "Down this hallway." he whispered to Jake and Varian.