Issue 8 Review

Rising Stars 8 Synopsis

"Things Fall Apart, Part Three of Three"

The government is hunting down the Specials on unjust charges. Many of them have gone into hiding, and now the government is after Dr. William Welles.

Welles careens down the highway, pursued by several police cars. He realizes that he is a criminal now. He ignores the police warnings to pull over and takes an off-ramp. Dr. Welles needs a new prescription for his glasses, so he doesn't see the tire strip.

The sharp metal teeth shred his tires and send his car into a roll. The police call for an ambulance and assure Dr. Welles that he will be all right. Dr. Welles is delirious. He says he is all right because he has flown... but he needs new glasses.

Dr. Welles flashes back to a time when a teenage Matthew Bright offers to carry him while he flies. The doctor is hesitant. Matthew assures him that he can carry a couple thousand pounds. Welles says he isn't reluctant because he doubts Matthew's abilities. He just isn't a Special, and he figures people who aren't special shouldn't fly or don't deserve to fly. Matthew says everyone should fly once. Dr. Welles gives in and allows Matthew to take him into the air. The doctor holds his clipboard close to his chest. It contains instructions for killing the Specials if it ever becomes necessary. He's up to the entry on Matthew Bright.

Dr. Welles awakes in a prison cell with a bandaged head. Paulson is sitting on the next bunk. Welles insults him but Paulson doesn't have time for banter. He has come for answers. Welles demands an attorney, but Paulson says he's not under arrest. He's on an Army base where he will remain as long as Paulson orders it. Welles threatens to go public with this infringement of his rights. Paulson is still not amused. He says the computer files with the data on terminating the Specials have been deleted. Welles feigns surprise.

Paulson knows that Welles has the information memorized and threatens to get it out of him one way or the other. He also wants to know where the Specials are hiding. Welles maintains that the country is more in danger from Paulson's actions than from the Specials and refuses to talk.

Paulson receives a telephone call. The Specials have been found through a wiretap. He orders more reinforcements before proceeding.

After Paulson and the guard leave, Stephanie Maas greets Welles from another cell. He doesn't understand why she has been incarcerated since she has never manifested a power. Stephanie figures the government isn't taking any chances after John Simon demonstrated powers that no one knew about when he fought Matthew Bright.

Welles asks Stephanie how she is. She says she is frightened because she doesn't know if she'll ever get out.

Stephanie's demeanor changes and she adds that the stress is great because it lets her get out more than ever before.

Welles asks Stephanie what she just said. Stephanie is confused. She was just wondering if she'll ever get out. Welles figures he was just hearing things.

But then Stephanie changes again. She says it is good to meet the doctor at last because "that little mouse Steph" has told her all about him. She likes him, but she has more dangerous plans for the other Normals.

Back to normal, Stephanie doesn't understand why the doctor is looking at her the way he is. "Oh, crap," he says.

The time is 10:00 a.m. Paulson is riding with an airborne attack group that is five hours from its target. The Colonel will be in charge of the ground assault. Paulson tells him that these are the low-power Specials that escaped the first arrests. They can expect strength, flight, and telekinetics but not much invulnerability. A bullet will be sufficient to stop them. The more powerful weaponry plus the Specials who are working with the government are being saved to go up against the stronger rogue Specials.

Paulson receives a call from Dr. Welles. Welles is trying to rebuild the files Paulson wants, but his information is out of date. He wants the medical files on the captured Specials, specifically data about how their powers have changed as other Specials die.

About twenty Specials have arrived at the home of Chandra's gentleman friend, bringing several of their family members with them. Chandra seems disturbed that she is using the terms "our kind" and "their kind" for the first time. John is concerned about security, but Chandra assures him that the owner is out of the country. She asks John about the powers he displayed in his fight against Matthew. John says that Dr. Welles made him keep his abilities a secret because he knew a day like today might come.

Chandra still can't believe that these low-power Specials are being hunted down. Her power seems harmless for instance. The force only makes her look beautiful to everyone. She's not really beautiful, and she doesn't feel beautiful to herself. She is about to say that John makes her feel beautiful, but they are interrupted.

John greets Eli as an old friend. He is another Special who has brought his wife, Susan, and his two children. Eli is furious with John for showing off his powers in his battle with Matthew. Now the government thinks all the Specials are hiding something. John says he had no choice, but Eli disagrees. He thinks they could have negotiated before John took down Matthew. Now they are on the run because of John.

John counters that the Specials were being killed before he did anything because the surviving Specials inherit the dead person's energy. Eli maintains that there is no proof for this theory. As proof, John hits Eli and knocks him flat on his back, but Eli sits up quickly. A year ago Eli would have been out for days, but now he easily recovers from John's punch. John says the killer invented the conspiracy charges to distract everyone from his actions. The Specials' only ally now is Dr. Welles, but no one knows where he is...

He's in his cell reviewing reports, and he isn't happy. He realizes now that Stephanie suffers from multiple personality disorder. Stephanie asks if anything is wrong, and he says there's nothing to worry about. Stephanie's other personality takes over again. She doesn't like the doctor's tone of voice. It's the same one Stephanie's father used when he lied to his wife about what he did to Stephanie. Welles asks her how long she has been able to come out and whether Stephanie knows. She says that Stephanie is ignorant of her presence. She is able to get out a lot more lately and is able to do more things. She likes it. As she speaks, she walks up the wall and stands on the ceiling. She says Stephanie wishes she could do these things, but she can't find it in herself. On the other hand, her alternate personality claims to be all power. She begins chanting a mantra that ends with her claim of being "all death".

Dr. Welles reflects on Stephanie's case. Stephanie was abused as a child, and she created the other personality as a guardian. There are recorded cases of multiple personality disorder in which the dominant personality is tone deaf but the submerged personality can compose and play music. Stephanie's submerged personality is the only one that has the power. Now the submerged personality is gaining power as other Specials die and becoming the dominant personality. Welles figures that the power transfer is more unpredictable than he thought.

Welles calls Paulson at another Army base to warn him. He believes that if even one or two more Specials are killed, the energy transfer to the others may be enough to bring them all to critical mass and change them from low-powers to high-powers or beyond. Paulson doesn't believe him. He thinks the doctor is just stalling for time so that more Specials can get away. He orders the operation to commence.

In her prison cell, the alternate personality of Stephanie Maas overhears Welles' use of the phrase "critical mass". She likes the sound of it and names herself Critical Maas since she's never had a name before.

Back at the hideaway, Chandra apologizes to John for the earlier altercation. John says it's all right. He understands that Eli is scared. Everyone is scared. He also doesn't expect everyone to follow him instantly when he's been so unpopular for so many years.

Chandra says that John has always been very popular with her. He is the only Special who never asked her out, and she reveals that he is the only one she would have said yes to. John says he didn't want to bother her like the rest. She says that he will never be like the rest and means it as a compliment. John asks why she is telling him this now. She is afraid that they won't survive and there may not be a later time to say these things.

The Army force is thirty minutes from its target. One soldier is telling exaggerated stories he has heard of the Specials' powers. When he is reminded that they were told these are low-power Specials, he asks if the officers would tell them the truth. He suspects it's a suicide mission and also points out that the Specials aren't entirely human. He promises to shoot first rather than risk his life unnecessarily. The other soldiers are swayed by his arguments.

A car arrives at the hideaway, and John wants to know who it is. It is Sharon Casey, Eli's sister-in-law. John demands to know how she knows where they are. Eli doesn't think the question is important until John's power begins to fire up. Eli confesses that he called her. John can't believe it. Surely Eli realizes that the government has the phones of all their families bugged. Eli is indignant and calls John a paranoid freak.

John orders the Specials to evacuate. Chandra reminds him that other Specials are still on their way. When they hear the helicopters they realize it is too late.

The flying Specials flee as the armored vehicles crash onto the property. The attack helicopters turn to pursue them. John Simon doesn't blame them. Despite their powers they just want to live ordinary lives.

The ground troops confront the remaining Specials who are waiting outside for them. A Special named Steven demands that they leave. When he points to indicate the exit, the fearful soldiers mistake it for an attack and shoot him. The other Specials now understand that they will never be left to live in peace. They move to attack the soldiers. The soldiers return fire.

After seven more Specials die the residual force flows into the others with amazing strength. They are engulfed in painful electricity.

The soldiers pause, not understanding what is happening. Finally they decide to resume fire, but their bullets bounce off the Specials.

The enhanced Specials destroy the troops and their equipment. Paulson escapes.

Back at the Army base, the walls are collapsing around Dr. Welles. There are no longer any low-power Specials. They are all high-power now, and they have destroyed the base in their escape. Critical Maas rescues Dr. Welles from the rubble. As the Specials fly from their prison, Critical Maas promises that they will now teach the world what fear is.