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MiDNiGHT C.R.U.S.H.

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Danny sat down on his bed, holding his hands in front of his blind eyes. Ever since the incident with C.R.U.S.H. he had been blind. It wasn't all failure though, as he and his parents had been able to hire a good enough lawyer to sue Dr. Rubens for malpractice; although the Docter hadn't quite been able to pay it all, Danny was finally able to sleep at night, and that was all the payment he needed. That, and the fact that C.R.U.S.H. had destroyed itse- "herself"- at the end of Danny's treatment.

The blind man snaked his feet under the covers and laid his head on his old pillow and closed his eyes. All was dark as he drifted off to sleep.

Lights appeared around him, and Danny found he could see again.

"Either God doesn't hate me," he muttered, "Or I'm dreaming. Probably dreaming."

Danny took stock of his situation: He was standing on a path leading in two directions. In front of him was a court yard complete with fountain and benches through an open wrought iron gate, while behind him was a long walk off a short pier, to be blunt. Even if he had still been blind, he had been faced in the safer direction, and was unlikely to have just walked off that edge.

He wandered towards the fountain, casually noting the fact that he was in the same bath robes he had been in during his 'therapy' sessions.

"Why hello, Visitor. Hoo!" A voice said. Danny jumped and turned to see a spectacle-wearing owl hovering behind him.

"Who are you? Wait- better question: What are you?"

"I am Owl. I help Visitors like yourself when you visit the Night Dimension."

"That doesn't tell me what you are though," Danny said.

"Well, that's quite simple my boy. You see, I'm- what was that?" Danny's ears focused on the source of the sound- flute music, by the sound of it- and he looked up and to the left to see a purple-colored humanoid hovering a good thirty feet or so off the ground. The music stopped as suddenly as it had started and the humanoid came down in the most complex series of maneuvers that it could, giving Danny enough time to see that it looked a lot like a jester. Still, something seemed a little off about it.

"Hello, Dreamer!" the purple jester-esque creature called down. The voice was a little hard to place, even for Danny's ever-strengthening ears, but it seemed a little too feminine. Danny wasn't just about to go off of his assumption, though.

"Uh, hi. Any idea where I am? I mean, I just laid down the sleep, and then- BAM! I can see again and this anthropomorphic owl starts talking to me." The jester chuckled at Danny's explanation.

"You're in the Night Dimension, Dreamer! This is where people from your world come to when they sleep. I haven't seen much of you around- do you not dream much?"

"I've had… trouble… sleeping for a good portion of my life. I'd rather not get into it."

The jester's face took on a slightly sympathetic look which was quickly replaced by a mischievous one.

"Say, how'd you like to take a look around while you're here? That way you can get a feel for the Night Dimension for when you return."

"Okay… uh, what's your name, anyway?"

"I'm NiGHTS! And you are…?" NiGHTS replied, holding out one hand.

"My name's-" Danny had no time to say anything else as the world around him started going black and misty, darkness swallowing him from the feet up.

"No!" Danny vaguely heard NiGHTS scream from somewhere very distant.

He fell through darkness for what felt like several years, accompanied only by the hollow echo of NiGHTS' scream. When he finally felt something solid below his feet again, a cackling started up. Green flames flashed to life above him, illuminating a tall monolith in the center of their ring.

"So, Visitor, you think you can take your Ideya- pitiful though it is- and run and hide?"

"Um, excuse me? I don't understand what you're talking about."

"Your Ideya, Visitor. Surely that traitor NiGHTS and that unbearable creature Owl have told you about them?"

"No."

"Did they at least warn you to avoid Nightmaren like myself?"

"I don't even know who you are, much less what a Nightmaren is."

"Allow me to remedy that then, Visitor, before I take your Ideya."

The green flames flared up brighter, revealing the monolith to be a high throne, upon which sat another jester, this one light blue, red, and black. The jester stood, his feet standing on what must have been solid air, and stared down at Danny.

"I am Reala, a servant of Master Wizeman. He needs Ideya to make a path into your world, Visitor, and I am but one of his Nightmaren sent to collect them."

"That still doesn't tell me what Ideay are," Danny mentioned plainly.

"They are the essences of different parts of a Visitor's personality, including intelligence, purity, courage, growth, hope-"

"Way-way-wait. Growth? Hope? How the hell are those part of someone's personality? Seriously? Why don't we just say that Joy is one of them. Or Hatred. Or, damn, I don't know, Naïve or some crap that makes the same amount of sense."

Reala's eyes narrowed and he dropped down directly in front of Danny, who had a smug expression on his face. The Nightmaren opened his mouth to say something, but Danny cut him off.

"And what's with all the jesters, anyway? I've seen scarier things in my therapy sessions with C.R.U.S.H. than here. Granted, I haven't had much of a look-see, but from what I have seen, it's not that impressive."

By this point Reala's eyes had evolved into thin slits that he glared through. His hand shot out and wrapped around Danny's throat, his claws digging into the flesh- if it could be considered flesh.

Danny wouldn't go down without a fight- he didn't with C.R.U.S.H., and he wouldn't with this 'Reala'. He reached up and grabbed the Nightmaren's arm and swung his legs up. He pushed hard with his legs and tugged his throat free. Danny leapt, pushing off of Reala's torso. He skidded to a halt.

"I wonder," Danny muttered to himself, spreading his arms wide as if to embrace the rushing Nightmaren.

With a thundering clap, Danny slammed his hands together, and a familiar sensation- one like being stepped on by a giant foot- smashed into his sides. The world lined up with the throne behind Reala, the flames between him and the Nightmaren, and him standing above nothing. As Danny began to fall, he grabbed the remaining red tiles and hoisted himself up.

"I guess there aren't safety features here," Danny growled to himself. He had to be careful.

"Your little trick won't save you, Visitor," Reala said, unfazed by the change in dimensions. Danny lifted an eyebrow and slapped his hands together again, releasing the 'invisible foot' and returning the world to three dimensions. He sidestepped Reala's rush, looked up and repositioned himself.

"I don't think the cockroaches and block walkers would agree with you, Reala." Danny waved Reala towards him. The Nightmaren took the bait.

As the Nightmaren was just below one of the flames, Danny looked up and clapped his hands forcibly, crushing the world into two dimensions. Reala screamed, which hurt Danny's ears, but he wouldn't let up the crush until the Nightmaren's cry had died. Danny uncrushed and looked down at Reala's badly burnt form.

"I also don't think the Doc or his robot would agree with you. 'Cause that one, I learned in C.R.U.S.H. therapy."

Danny walked calmly off, somehow knowing how to get back to the garden where NiGHTS and Owl were.

"Are you okay? Did you loose your Ideya?" NiGHTS asked, looking Danny over.

"NiGHTS, I don't think he knows what an Ideya is," Owl remarked, turning to Danny and ready to give Danny a long-winded speech.

"No, I know what they are. As for loosing mine: No, I haven't lost anything, accept maybe my appreciation for sleep."

"Well, then. Can you tell me your name now, Dreamer?" NiGHTS asked, again holding out a hand.

Danny thought for a second. He thought about what had occurred, how often he was likely to be here, and how much he really cared about his situation.

"Crush," he said, "My name is Crush."