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Lily staggered against the side of the alleyway. The morter and cinderblock glistening with the moisture of a recent rain, dampening the shoulder of her
trademark red trench coat. She moved forward to the cover of a dumpster and sat heavily behind it. Looking up at the night sky of Galaxy City.

"What's happening to me?" She asked the stars. But they winked silently back with no answer.

But the "voices" in the back of her head were getting more insistent. She tried to ignore them. Tried to ignore what they were trying to tell her.
Focus... focus... Think of the now. Think of the recent past.

She wouldn't even be IN Paragon City right now if it weren't that she'd decided to help Southern Twilight and MiMi Blade get their first bank heist
done. A little high powered help "just for insurance". Well, they were part of the Infamous coalition, and Nogi vouched for them. So that helped. So
she'd said yes. She didn't need the money that much, really. But busting some heads in Paragon was worth the trip. No, money wasn't really a
problem any more, Carmen spoiled her so. She smiled inside briefly at the thoughts of her lover. But then she cringed as she wondered if she'd see her

She'd started feeling... weird... On the submarine ride over. Not ill, she never felt ill. Her crystalline body was tougher than that. But... something had
been off and she couldn't put her finger on it. She'd tried to shrug it off and stay focused. And for the most part, she'd succeeded. They'd
gotten into the sewers and made it to the pick-up where the van was waiting before she'd realized what it was she was feeling.

Her skin had felt like it was... crinkling... in spots. It had started around her feet. Then a spot on her lower back. It felt... itchy? Was that it? Yes.

She'd almost stopped the team then and there, but they had pulled up to the drop point in Atlas and were piling out. The police had been tipped off and
cordons were up. And she felt the familiar excitement about impending battle. She nearly laughed as she thought of the pathetic resistance of Paragon's
"Finest" could offer. In and out in 5 minutes, and she'd simply keep the team focused on moving forward. No extraneous mayhem. Just get the swag
and go, and they could be back on the sub in no time and she could get back in range of the Rogue Isles own version of medi-comm transport and be back in the
Infamous base to get a check up. Yes. That would work.

They made their way to the bank, and she helped break down the vault and grab the loot. And almost didn't stop at all when dealing with Longbow, backed up
as they were by a truly pathetic "hero" named HoloMan. What kind of name was that? Light powers? Illusions? Pah! He never got a chance to do anything
at all. Lily had grabbed him by the collar and used him to bash through the dry wall to shorten their exit out. She'd almost managed to forget how her skin
was making her feel underneath her Vanguard bodysuit.

Then she had started to hear the voices. Not a telepathic call. She'd felt that before. And it almost didn't fit to be calling them "voices".
It was like the echo of a whisper of a long forgotten language that seemed to be coming from her own subconscious. The two other criminals were ahead of her in
the sewer line, making their way to the pickup point, when Lily, almost absentmindedly, turned down a different tunnel and began walking down it before she
knew what she was doing.

She'd gone past several junctions before she realized something was wrong. Then she shook her head and realized she was lost. That didn't worry her
nearly as much as what she had remembered about what had caused her to turn down the wrong path. Which was nothing. She couldn't remember. THAT was the
scary part. It scared her enough to want to find a way up. ANY way up. To the surface. She no longer cared where she would come out.

Finding her way by only taking tunnels that ramped upwards, until she'd discovered the exit, marked as "Galaxy City" in fading, humidity peeled
paint above the gates.

She reached out to the gate to swing it open. That's when she saw it. the patch of skin showing between her glove and her sleeve. It wasn't translucent
white, like it normally was. It was cloudy, with the faintest of pinkish hues, like granite quartz.

Now, sitting behind the dumpster in the alleyway, she took off her gloves to look closely. Faceted, like a rough cut gemstone. She asked again,
"What's happening to me?"

And this time there was an answer.

Not in words, so much as images. Impressions. Colors.

You are like of us but not

"Who?" She spoke the word aloud. At least as much to differentiate herself from the voice as to ask the question.

You know. We have touched directly. You helped force us back down into the earth.

"No... that... you can't be. Not YOU."

Lily looked down at herself. Her boots were getting tighter. But she could barely feel them. She flexed her leg to bring her foot closer to look, and the
fabric parted at the knee joint as a spur of crystal forced through the armor suit. Lily looked at it, stunned.

The voice was more coherent now. It felt closer. It was a thrumming in her crystal.


Yes. You know us by that name.

Flexing and fracturing all the time. But you heal so fast you would never notice. You fought us. With others. Touched then, we did, directly.

She felt her face and neck. the faceting was creeping higher, to her jaw. She could feel her face getting stiffer.

"I've... fought... countless of your... monsters... they never did this... HOW?"

You were inside us. All we needed was to flow the tiniest bit into a hairline crack before you healed it closed.

"No. No! I'm NOT like you! You can't take me over!"

She could hear the Hamidon more directly now. It was almost a real voice.

Why do you resist? We only want what's best for the earth. To return things to what they should be. To return you to what you should be. Your crystal is
different from our crystals and geodes. Stronger. We want to be stronger. You will become one of us and strengthen us and we will be one. You will never be
alone. We will share the new earth together.

Lily was on her side, clawing at the ground, her body changing more swiftly. More spurs of crystal ripping free. Growing larger and tearing her bodysuit to

It almost didn't hurt at all. That was the strangest thing. If it had hurt more, it would have been easier to fight it. Lily was turning into a mass of
faceted crystal. Her head and extremities losing definition. But the voice of the Hamidon was trying to soothe her and calm her. Telling her how wonderful it
would be to be a part of the natural order of the gaia. It would be so much easier to give in.






A huge crystalline hammer fist struck the wall. The shock rippling through and focussing her senses.

Do not reject us


Please do not-


A humanoid crystalline form stood up in the alleyway. If any heroes who had been down in the Hive depths had been there to see, they would have recognized it
as a smaller cousin of the Crystal Titan. It stomped the ground. Then it stood straight, arcing it's back and howled at the night sky.


Then the crystal titan stopped moving, it shuddered, and fractures appeared. Then pops and cracks echoed through the alley as pieces started falling away. Then
the crystalline form shattered utterly. Shards flung free to embed themselves in cinderblock and concrete. Then the pieces shattered further into powder.

Slumping to the ground was a human form. A girl with fine black hair and cream colored skin. Her unconscious, naked form lit by the distant streetlight and the
coming dawn sky.


The doctor smiled at his patient reassuringly, made some small bedside talk patter. Checked her chart, making a couple of notations, then left her with the
psychiatric caseworker.

"So did you find anything?" Dr. Hall asked the Paragon City detective waiting outside.

"Not a blessed thing. Whoever she is, she's got no records. I had the department check. Full database search. She's got no fingerprints on file,
no retina pattens, no dental, no DNA samples, nothing! It's like she's a blank slate. She remember anything yet?"

Dr. Hall shook his head. "No. Seems like total amnesia. As you put it, a blank slate."

"That's a damn shame, that." Officer Wills shook his head sadly. A passing citizen had found her, stark naked, wandering out of the alleyway,
looking utterly confused, and he'd been the first officer on the scene. She'd been lucky the Hellions hadn't found her first.

"Yes. Well we'll do our best. Maybe she'll remember something soon. Total amnesiac cases are rarer than you think. Eventually something will
trigger a memory."

"Yeah. I sure hope so. But it's really weird that there's not even any records on her. Think she's some kind of space alien? Time

"Please, Officer Wills, let's not jump to wild conclusions. This may be Paragon City, but not EVERY thing that happens here is due to the influence of
super powered beings."

"Nemesis Plot?"

"Don't even start with me on that."


The young woman in the hospital room looked at her caseworker, Susan. "Nothing? No records? Doesn't anyone know who I am?"

"No one who's come forward yet. I'm sorry... er... Jane."

"Jane" frowned at her. "I don't like that name."

Susan raised an eyebrow. "Really? What name would you like?" she was hopeful. Maybe her charge might be remembering something?

"Uhm... I... don't know, really. Maybe I could see a list of names?" She asked.

Susan nodded, taking her laptop and logging online, she found a "Names for your Baby" site. Then she handed the laptop over.

After a few minutes, the amnesiac girl said, "I kind of like 'Erica'."

"Erica, then. It's a good name. Nice to meet you, Erica."

Erica smiled. For the first time, it seemed.
damn shame, folks throwin' away a perfectly good white girl like that.

"No can brain today. Want cheezeburger."
From NGE: Nobody Dies, by Gregg Landsman

I find it fascinating how there's more and more blurring between the sides of late.
"Oh, silver blade, forged in the depths of the beyond. Heed my summons and purge those who stand in my way. Lay
Logan Darklighter Wrote:"Nemesis Plot?"
And yes, we desire more.
"so listen up boy, or pornography starring your mother will be the second worst thing to happen to you today"
TF2: Spy
I loved the description of her transformation.
Thanks for the compliments, all. I always worry about how things are going to read because I do so few major edits. I don't write something, walk away,
then come back and re-order it and add new stuff. It almost always flows in linear fashion. This took me about... 2-1/2 hours to write I think. Maybe 3. And I
do work hard on trying to get into not just the visual part of a scene, but describe it so that you have at least 3 senses engaged/described. Sight and hearing
of course. Maybe smell or touch.

When writing this, I was thinking - what does Hamidon remind me of? The best answer I can think of - anyone ever read Greg Bear's Blood Music? If you know the reference, think of that applied not just to organics, but EVERYTHING.

Hamidon is an intelligent, grey goo nanotech disaster, really.

The thing is - Lily really did faceplant once while fighting the Hamidon the other night in the LGTF. She got back up again (self res) but here's the
thing. It's mentioned in the story, but despite Lily's organic nature, she is basically like a crystal. And as smooth and porcelain as her skin and
flesh may be, I think that it's constantly undergoing tiny breaks and fractures. Especially at her joints. But it's at a microscopic level. And she
heals so quickly that you wouldn't be able to see it even if it were larger. Sort of like stress fractures in an ice flow, really.

Normal Hami creatures wouldn't be able to take advantage of that. But this is Hami, and she was right there, inside the boundary of the cell wall as she
was fighting. He got a teeny little bit of himself insinuated when she went down for a moment. It just took several days for that little piece to start trying
to take over.

Now - what exactly happened?

She started getting taken over. And backed by her will, her regeneration factor kicked into high gear. But the only way to get rid of the Hamidon infection was
to expel every last bit of crystal. So she did. Forced it right out to the outside of her body, leaving behind her original organic body. Then the
"diseased" part sloughed off.

And why is her memory gone?

Because her everything in her body got replaced by normal flesh, including her brain. The memories are likely
there. But her brain works in a wholly different way now.

Will we see her again as Lily?

Well - that would be telling, now, wouldn't it? ^_^