(A/N): This vignette was written in October 2010 for the same anthology as "Rise of the Dragon Queen", but could scarcely be more different. Whereas that chapter was my first attempt at a dialogue-heavy story, this one has no dialogue at all and only one character. This chapter is also much darker, depicting a canonically over-the-top comic character as tragic and even pitiable.

Compared to the original, this version has numerous small tweaks, and the Notes section is more extensive.

This chapter expands on and somewhat alters a premise originally devised for my Season 1 reimagining, The Legend of Total Drama Island (LTDI). This chapter could therefore be deemed a minor spoiler for that story's 26th Night chapter, which is being posted concurrently with this. Those of you who read LTDI may therefore be best served by reading that chapter first.


DESPERATE MEASURES

Rebecca McAllister, special agent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police[1][2], needed a change. Her once-promising career with the RCMP—indeed, pretty much her whole life—was collapsing into ruin.

After graduating from the Police Academy, Becky had quickly gained a reputation as a rising star on the force. Specializing in undercover work, and with a youthful look, she had spent most of her career in Canada's high schools. There she made a name for herself among the RCMP brass by posing as a student to expose school-based drug rings, fencing operations, and the like.

Becky could not carry weapons on these assignments without tipping her hand, so she had trained extensively in unarmed combat techniques. She could hold her own against—even get the better of, on a good day—a less-trained man thrice her size.[3]

With Becky now pushing 30, her days of looking young enough to pass as a teenager were drawing to a close. Soon, she would be doing other work for the force—if she could get it, for her past was catching up to her. Her ancestry, to be precise.

When she was growing up, and even through her Academy days, Becky had seemed normal enough, and she had high hopes that she would be spared the mental instability that had plagued her parents' lines since time immemorial. In recent years, however, she had seen increasingly persistent signs that this was not to be. First, she had developed a motormouth habit, and was increasingly inclined to ramble at breakneck speed and excruciating length on matters only tangentially related to the subject at hand. That quirk, while annoying, was harmless enough. More disturbing was her emerging pyromania.

Becky had always been attracted to fire, but for many years her pyrophilia had caused no serious problems. In recent years, however, it had been morphing into something worse, and her ability to function normally when fire was involved was becoming increasingly shaky. She was also becoming schizophrenic, and it did not help that her emerging alternate personality was even more pyrophilic than her primary—not merely attracted to fire and blast, but preoccupied with them.[4]

Becky's deterioration had led to an unfortunate accident at a Marine base she had been touring as part of an excursion group. That mishap, which only by sheer luck had not killed or maimed anyone, had led to her current "vacation". Her higher-ups in the RCMP had placed her on administrative leave whilst they investigated the incident.

The results of the investigation would not be known for several weeks yet, but Becky could guess the outcome: she would be dismissed from the force, probably with criminal charges into the bargain. Granted, she could probably beat any charges with an insanity defense, but that might be the proverbial cure worse than the disease.

To make matters worse, that was probably not her biggest problem. Her mental deterioration was in that terrifying stage where she could see what was happening and where it was leading, but she was not yet so far gone that she had ceased to care. She was already becoming a danger to others, and it might not be long before she became a danger to herself as well. Nor could she see any way to stop her descent into the abyss, for she had tried both psychotherapy and medication, and neither had been effective.[5]

Desperate times, she decided, called for desperate measures.

Despite her growing instability, Becky was undeniably brilliant,[6] and she had devised a plan. Sadly, carrying it out meant she would have to turn her back on everything she had ever known. Her home, her family, her friends, her cats—everything.

That would be hardest on her fiancé. She had accepted Hank's engagement ring only ten days before, after she had begun to implement her plan. She felt terrible that she was, in effect, stealing that expensive diamond ring, but there was no help for it. She did not dare tell Hank anything about her plan or behave in any way differently than she normally would, and that meant accepting his marriage proposal when he made it. When Becky was reported missing and the RCMP investigated her disappearance, everything had to look like she had expected to return soon.

Her plan consisted of three parts. The first part, preparing a new identity, was already complete. She had submitted an audition tape for a new reality TV show to be produced that summer. The start date was now barely a month off, and Becky was reasonably certain that pawning her ring would raise enough cash to cover basic living expenses until then. The contestants were supposed to be 16 years old, and Becky was mere days from her 29th birthday, but she did not see that as an obstacle. She would pose as a teenager one last time.

When Becky was preparing her application for the show, she had pondered the question of what to call herself. Obviously, it would not do to use her real name, if for no other reason than because a routine background check would quickly reveal that she was not a teenager.

She finally decided on the Purloined Letter principle: hiding in plain sight. If the RCMP ever came to realize that she had assumed a new identity, it would expect her, in light of her undercover skills, to adopt an elaborate, meticulously disguised alter ego. She would therefore do something much simpler to throw them off the scent. She would go by the codename that the RCMP had given her for her undercover work. So it was that Captain Rebecca McAllister, a.k.a. Agent Izzy, set the wheels in motion to become a reality TV star.

Likewise, she would make only simple alterations to her appearance. Changing the style and color of her hair should do. Her hair was long, but she normally wore it in a bun, so people did not tend to think of her as a longhaired woman. When the time was right, she would color her dishwater blonde hair a Scotch orange—the color of fire—to match the wig she had had the foresight to wear for her audition tape.

In addition to her undercover skills, Becky had talents even the RCMP did not suspect. Most importantly to her current situation, she was a hacker of no small ability. It turned out that the studio producing the show was not particularly security-conscious; so after the studio received her audition tape, it was a simple matter for her to hack into the studio's network. Once in, Becky altered certain company records to insure that her application would be accepted.

The second part was also done, expedited by another judicious hack into another low-security, non-sensitive system. Under an assumed name, Becky had applied for, and been granted, a homestead permit in a remote and heavily forested corner of the Northwest Territories. When all else was done, and she had rebuilt her finances with the aid of the media fame that would soon be hers, she would retire to that bolthole. There, she could burn things to her heart's content with reasonable assurance that she would not endanger others, until the day when, whether by accident or by design, she inevitably perished by her own Promethian[7] hand. Ah, well, she thought, better that than spending her life in a padded room, which seemed the only realistic alternative.

In the third phase of her plan, she would die. Apparently.

This was the trickiest part of the plan. Given her proclivities and the need for the body to be unidentifiable, fire seemed the logical choice. She would check into a bed-and-breakfast place where she occasionally went for weekend getaways, sometimes with Hank and sometimes alone. In this case, she had chosen a weekend where Hank had other commitments, so he had agreed to look after her cats, named Eve and Noah after figures from the Book of Genesis, whilst she was gone.

When Becky checked into the B&B, she would pay with a credit card to leave a paper trail. On the second night of her stay, she would cause a gas leak, which she hoped would induce the proprietor and any other guests to evacuate, and then the place would burn to the ground. Becky would flee the scene on foot, leaving her car behind as evidence that she had been present on the night of the fire.

There had to be human remains, so her first stop had been the local medical school. Several nights before, she had broken into the school's storage and stolen a cadaver, an unknown woman of roughly Becky's height and build. Becky had stashed the body in a place where it was not likely to be stumbled upon before she needed it.

When it came time to "die", Becky would use a trick she knew that would not only ignite the gas fire, but would also amp up the fire around the cadaver to the level of a commercial crematorium.[8] That would be enough to incinerate bones and even teeth, so a dental records check—the usual method of identifying a badly burned body—would not expose the deception. Nor would a DNA check do so, because any mismatches—if there was even enough DNA left to analyze—would be ascribed to damage from the fire. The investigators would conclude that she had been asleep in her bed, that she had been kept asleep by either the gas or the carbon monoxide, and that she had known nothing but peace.

The sun was setting on the last day of Rebecca McAllister's life as she had known it. As she sat in her rocking chair, going over the details of her impending "death" one more time, Noah came into the room.

Noah, so named because Becky had found him clinging to a piece of driftwood after the creek flooded a few years before, had the curious habit of sucking on people's earlobes.[9] Now, Becky found her contemplation rudely interrupted as the large Russian Blue jumped onto her and sought his "pacifier".

As Noah sucked away, purring loudly, the finality of what Becky was about to do struck her as if for the first time. She clutched Noah to her and wept.

When Becky was herself again, darkness had fallen, and it was time to fetch her cadaver. With a heavy heart, but with fresh resolve, Agent Izzy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police exited her apartment, locked the door, and left her old life behind without a backward glance.


NOTES:

[1] In the anthology where this vignette was first published, authors usually tried to disguise for as long as possible the identity of the canon character being described. Such subterfuge is pointless in this chapter because any mention of the RCMP in the context of Total Drama will immediately make people think of Izzy.

[2] The conceit of Becky/Izzy being an RCMP employee was originally conceived for the author's Season 1 reimagining, The Legend of Total Drama Island (LTDI). That story's version of Becky's backstory is similar to the one presented here, but has significant differences and is presented in less detail. This version is canon-compatible, which is not a requirement in LTDI.

[3] The description of Becky's fighting ability refers to her fight with the much larger Chef Hatchet in Total Drama Island episode #17, "Hide and be Sneaky".

[4] The emerging alternate personality is, of course, Explosivo.

[5] The main difference between this version of Becky's backstory and the one presented in LTDI is how she responds to medication. In LTDI, medication can effectively control her symptoms, albeit with side effects she considers undesirable. Here, medication is simply ineffective.

[6] Izzy canonically claims to have an IQ of 188.

[7] In classical mythology, Prometheus was the Titan who brought fire to mortals.

[8] Becky's trick for producing a crematorium-scale fire has been used by murderers to dispose of their victims' bodies, and has been suggested as a possible explanation for certain deaths that some people have ascribed to spontaneous human combustion.

[9] Noah's habit of sucking earlobes is based on a cat the author had as a child. The name does not refer to the infamous NoCo scene in TDI episode #3, "The Big Sleep", although it certainly fits. Naming Becky's cats Eve and Noah actually refers to Izzy's teammates in "Total Drama Drama Drama Drama Island", Eva and Noah.


(A/N): This collection does not update on any fixed schedule, and the two chapters posted here to date are the only ones I have on the wiki. Future chapters will only be added if/when I get ideas that seem good to me. Follow me and/or this collection to be informed of any future additions. As always, I appreciate any and all constructive feedback.