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Audio Play / The Elysium Project

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The Elysium Project is a web-based Audio Play series created by Natalie Van Sistine (AKA DragonKnightTara). The Elysium Project follows a mysterious drug known as the Elysium formula that grants those exposed to it the power to manipulate reality in accordance with their desires. The story kicks off when the creator of the formula sells it to a man with less than honorable intentions and a small group of test subjects who have been exposed to the formula manage to escape from the facility where they're being held captive and go on the run. Meanwhile, the sheltered daughter of the formula's creator finds herself sucked into the seedy underworld of her father's research after she is targeted by people looking to get to her dad.

The series can be found at

The Elysium Project provides examples of:

  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Elysium formula is derived from a naturally occurring substance that transforms thoughts and emotions into reality. The inexplicable, impossible nature of Elysium is used to explain how scientists managed to develop a Super Serum that gives kids reality-warping powers.
  • Artificial Limbs: Kate has a prosthetic arm that her powers allow her to use as though it were a real one.
  • Balcony Escape: In episode 2, Emma attempts to sneak out of her hospital room to check on Nick by going out through the fire escape, but she only manages to get herself stuck and has to be helped down by Ben.
  • Breakfast Club: The escapees are a pretty dysfunctional bunch, but they bond through their awful circumstances.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Mirage is extremely unstable, unreliable, and unpredictable and everyone knows it, but Bastios keeps him around because he's too useful to keep locked up.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: James pulls one over on Bastios after Bastios failed to live up to his end of a bargain. His reaction is to have James' daughter injected with an unstable, experimental drug that will prevent her from ever living a normal life.
  • Early-Bird Cameo
    • The Eastern Coalition is heavily involved with the plot from the beginning, in contrast to their role in the original series.
    • Susan Danvers and Gabriel also appear regularly early on, despite originally not being introduced until The Highmore Conspiracy.
  • Escaped from the Lab: The escaped test subjects.
  • Friendless Background: Due to having to move constantly thanks to her dad's work, as well as never being allowed to go out without strict supervision, Emma has never had many friends.
  • Helicopter Parents: James doesn't even let Emma leave the apartment without an escort. Though this is somewhat warranted, considering his work involves dealing with dangerous people and the one time she sneaks out, she is immediately targeted by Bastios because James pissed him off.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The escapees don't want their powers and they want nothing to do with the Elysium Project. Unfortunately, that's not an option for them.
  • Immunity Disability: Kate is partially immune to the Elysium formula, meaning unlike the other test subjects, her powers start to weaken and eventually disappear over time unless she continues injecting herself with more of the formula. This is inconvenient as she's on the run from people who want to kill or capture her and without her powers she doesn't even have two functional arms.
  • Master of Disguise: Mirage's specialty is using his ability to disguise himself as other people.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: James' reaction to Emma getting caught up in the consequences of his actions.
  • Only Friend: Melissa is the only person who Emma considers to be a friend before meeting Nick.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Ian figures out that Jessica is really Mirage because "she" gives away that she doesn't know about the rendezvous point that they had arranged with the other escapees.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Emma and the escapees would cause serious problems for the villains if they were left to their own devices.
  • Playing with Syringes: The eponymous Elysium Project. James wanted to make a Super Serum for science and profit and Bastios wanted to buy it off of him for nefarious purposes. The test subjects were lied to, abused, and experimented on with no mind paid to ethics.
  • Power Incontinence: The Elysium formula gives people the power to manipulate reality itself, but with the small catch that their powers give them what they want, not what they ask for, and there's no off switch.
  • Power Limiter: A suppressant that neutralizes the Elysium formula is used to keep the superpowered test subjects in line.
  • Psycho Prototype: With the exception of Kate, Mirage is the only remaining subject of the original Alpha phase of testing, which ended very poorly for most involved. This is the reason why Mirage is more powerful than the members of the Beta group. It's also implied to be at least part of the reason why he's completely insane. He was deemed unstable and dangerous enough that James planned to have him locked up until Bastios took him off his hands.
  • Psycho Serum: The original Alpha version of the formula may have been this. It was apparently more powerful than the current Beta version, but much less stable. The only known survivors of the original Alpha group are Kate and Mirage. While Kate, due to her partial immunity, was never visibly affected by the Alpha version of the formula, Mirage seems to have suffered dramatically in the mental health and stability department.
  • Reality Warper: The Elysium formula turns people into this.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: It's not as cool as it sounds.
  • Secret Project Refugee Family: After the escapees manage to get away from the academy, they stick together because they have nowhere else to go.
  • Super Serum: The Elysium formula
  • Tested on Humans: The villains test the extremely unpredictable Elysium formula by injecting it into a bunch of semi-willing teenagers.

     Tropes found in the original series 
  • Action Prologue: The first episode begins with Ian and Jessica fleeing for their lives before cutting away to Emma.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Kate lost an arm in the car accident that killed both of her parents.
  • Anyone Can Die: Not so much early on, but in The Highmore Conspiracy (particularly the latter half) major characters start dropping like flies.
  • The Atoner: James turns into this after his actions cause him to lose Emma.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ian is introduced as one of the nicest characters in the series. Even his companion just seems like a slightly cockier and blunter version of him. Then "Other Ian" is revealed to be a full-blown Superpowered Evil Side and we see firsthand how dangerous Ian is when pushed into a corner. By the end of episode 2 he has one of the higher body counts in the cast.
  • Big Bad: Initially Bastios, but his client Gabriel is revealed to be The Man Behind the Man.
  • Child Hater: Susan hates kids. And she likes to remind people fairly often.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The Eastern Coalition is introduced very suddenly in the finale of episode 2, and they immediately declare war on the United States and begin bombing major population centers. The only foreshadowing they received prior to their introduction was in the form of the unanswered question of who exactly Gabriel was working for and what his plans ultimately entailed.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Alex and Rachel are unceremoniously killed off-screen in Chapter 15.
  • Enemy Mine: Mirage joins up with Emma and Ian in episode 2 after his employers turn on him and try to kill him.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Kate after going to work for Gabriel.
  • Guardian Entity: The companions, a side effect of the Elysium formula, are essentially alternate personalities given form by the reality-warping powers of the formula, existing solely to act out the thoughts and desires of the subjects.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mirage pulls one towards the end of The Highmore Conspiracy after his former employers try to have him killed to tie up loose ends.
  • Heroic BSoD: Emma has such a big one after she kills Susan Danvers that she puts herself in a coma.
  • Misery Builds Character: This is Ben's reasoning behind telling Mirage to blame Emma for selling the group out, as he believes that taking everything away from her will give her strength.
  • The Mole: Everyone believes Emma to be this after they're sold out and captured in the finale of episode 1. It turns out that it was actually Kate.
  • Odd Friendship: Mirage, the psychotic hitman, and Shay, the innocent, idealistic young girl.
  • Parents as People: James clearly tries to be a good father to Emma. He just isn't very good at it.
  • Papa Wolf: James may seem cold and distant towards Emma, but he shows his Papa Wolf colors when he threatens the life of her cheating ex-boyfriend.
  • Pet the Dog: Mirage and Shay's whole relationship is this for Mirage, but especially when he Takes the Lightning Blast for her in Chapter 15.
  • Psycho Supporter: Ben to Emma. He exists solely to protect her and give her what she wants most, no matter what she has to say about it.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Jessica's death is the first major character death of many and officially kicks off the Anyone Can Die tone of episode 2.
  • Servile Snarker: Ben may exist for Emma, but that doesn't mean he has to like it.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Ian's companion, "Other Ian."
  • Super-Soldier: The ultimate goal of the Elysium Project is to create these.
  • Taking the Bullet: Mirage jumps in the way when Susan is about to kill Shay.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Pretty much Emma's entire life from the moment she's injected with the formula, finally culminating in a massive Heroic BSoD at the end of episode 2.
  • True Companions: Subverted with the group of escapees. When they're initially introduced, they're portrayed this way, but the group dynamic starts to break down after they're betrayed and captured at the end of episode 1, and ultimately, one of them turns and starts working with the villains and several of them end up trying to kill each other, in one case succeeding.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ben calls Ian out on sealing him away inside of Emma's mind and nearly getting her killed.
  • Wham Episode: The finale of episode 2 leaves several main characters dead, several others on the run, cities being bombed, and introduces the possibility of there being a cure for the formula.
  • We Have Reserves: Gabriel's justification for ordering the killing of the entire first batch of test subjects in Chapter 15 was that they could always get more test subjects if they needed to.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Attempted on Mirage, who is left for dead in the soon to be burned down Highmore Academy.