The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TD260 on Mon May 07, 2012 1:36 pm

Spoiler:
I'm down. Keith is unconscious, iirc.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TheTJ on Fri May 11, 2012 11:00 pm

Spoiler:
Bumping because I don't want this to stall out again.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Vivienne Vex on Sat May 12, 2012 6:31 am

Spoiler:
Kyle says it will take a bit because of finals but he is working on it.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Quaetam on Sat May 12, 2012 10:28 am

Spoiler:
What Viero said. The latest time is in fact NEXT week, because I have two finals on Tuesday and want to ace both of them. That said I'm working on it now.

Don't worry, I have Zero intention of letting this die again now.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TD260 on Sun May 13, 2012 2:19 pm

Quaetam wrote:
Spoiler:

Don't worry, I have Zero intention of letting this die again now.

Spoiler:

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Avalanche on Mon May 14, 2012 3:03 am

c-c-c-c-combo breake

Is Weldar and/or Q writing a transition post? Lets get this thing moving. Make it happen.

I mean, Venusaur.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Quaetam on Mon May 14, 2012 9:13 am

Like I said last page, I'm writing it, i just have finals tomorrow.

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[S] Round 2: Happen. Part 1.

Post  Quaetam on Wed May 23, 2012 7:40 am

The world was silent as it drowned—The forest all but bereft of noise as the swirling of the water and the brooding things that lurked below gradually rose to claim it…

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The forest was quiet, too quiet, save for the wind in the trees. The air, humid save for a chill as it swept, blew against his face. Jak glanced about nervously as he walked along the trail. He had seen no sign of the other contestants since he left the safehouse. No sign of his foes, or of his ally, Sirria. There had been only silence. His trek was a peaceful one indeed. But that very peace was unnerving, that very silence was questionable by its presence. For this was not a forest but a battlefield.

Jak’s thoughts flashed back to Earth. To the battlefields of the Kiloekewan War, where he had fought against the Zhakari in the jungles of Salerus—their gravships searing the skies with neon fires, their walkers burning away his friends and squadmates like they were nothing. It had been a brutal war, like the world had never seen. He had seen battlefields. He had seen war at its worst, he’d known combat at its most brutal, its most lethal. But none of it, none at all, was as unnerving as this.

Jak climbed up a rock incline, thoughts continuing to wander. He had stepped outside his hovel, lost in exile, expecting another day of foraging for food, trying just to survive, to live on. Then it had all turned upside down. Now he found himself here, fighting in this god-forsaken mockery of a war, against creatures and powers he’d only dreamed of… for it wasn’t a war, not truly. No. This was an organized massacre, one contestant falling at a time. He’d heard about this kind of thing before, a game put on by a psychopath to increase the pleasure of their kill. He didn’t want any part of it. He thought again of their mission, their drive to escape this world. Exploit the loopholes. Jak had no choice but to trust the Lycan: The werewolf seemed to align with his way of thinking, and so far was the closest thing to an ally he could find in this sick game.

Jak shook his head. Survey the land, Sirria had said. Get a hold on your surroundings, he’d said. Never mind the risk of being confronted, isolated, by the demon. Never mind the chance that one of them would die, and their escape attempt collapse. But it was a risk they had to take, Jak realized, should they make any progress. One man to ensure they remained safe, one to try to break free. The best he could do now was reconvene with Sirria. Carefully he retraced his steps down the hill, making his way towards the safehouse.

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Sirria climbed through the sinking forest, each step a pained one, each move fighting through a sea of fatigue, one that began to fade as the memories of his trip through the water receded. He looked skyward. Through a gap in the trees he could see smoke rising from where his attack on the barricade had set the forest ablaze. It was beginning to spread towards the hill, and quickly. He wasn’t sure if the sanctuary rune would survive having its vessel destroyed; hopefully the water would smother the flames before they reached it at all.

Or perhaps by then one of the other contestants will have succumbed at last. Perhaps they will have moved on to a better world, one more suitable for their plan. His thoughts returned to the barrier… to the glowing wall of purple mist, the solid, impermeable shield of light that surrounded the arena. What was it? Even his deepest magic could not penetrate it, could not shatter it. And passing through it?... He recalled how he had shifted to the arcane pathways with a confident step, how the wall before him had dissolved into a soft but ever-brilliant golden radiance… How he had entered that light, confidently, only to have it tear at him, bite at him, threaten to shred him apart.

Gradually his energy returned to him as he hiked through the trees. Slowly, but surely, his strength began to reform, to collect, as he made his way towards the large tree that housed his makeshift resting place. Looking behind him, he noticed the water had begun to rise. The edge of the arena was well swallowed by now; there was no way he’d be able to make another attempt, not this round anyways.

Not that another attempt would make any difference. This power he faced, it was beyond his measure. The torrent had cut deeper than any sort of magic he’d ever encountered. It had struck not at his mind, not at his body, but at his soul. Forging forward had not been a struggle against some magical force, no.

It was a struggle to continue to exist, to have ever existed.

The reality beyond the barrier had torn at him in ways he never thought possible. He frowned. It was as if his body, his mind, his spirit was incompatible with whatever lay beyond that golden light. He’d thought it was the power of the Minister that struck at him without end, he’d thought it was something magical, but no, this seemed… more basic. Like the very laws of reality disagreed with the idea of him existing.

Had he stepped outside reality itself? It certainly felt like it. And if so, where was he that this Flooded Forest existed in this seemingly isolated patch of existence? He had known they would be escaping a universe, but he’d expected some sort of mystic barrier, some sort of arcane obstacle isolating the arena. It seemed instead that this area of space had literally been cut away from the rest. The idea of breaking free seemed less and less probable; for there was nothing to break into. If his suspicions were correct, escaping this patch of reality would be a much more difficult task than he’d originally anticipated.

And, if this was the case, what kind of power were they up against? What WAS this Minister, that he could wield such monstrous force?

Sirria’s brooding was interrupted as from nowhere, the earth shook, heaving from some immense internal pressure. Below him, the lower levels of the hill had begun to collapse, the caves overburdened by the pressure of the deathwater that had built up within them. As the ground collapsed, split, water began first to pool, then to erupt, from within, spraying forth in a massive deluge. Sirria scowled… They wouldn’t have much time. He picked up the pace, forging through the trees with renewed energy…

…and ran straight into Neil.

For an awkward moment the Lycan and the vagabond stared at each other, not moving. The man blessed by luck gazed, incoherently, into the eyes of the pained, weakened werewolf.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Neil asked, aggressively. Sirria frowned. It would not be easy to fight like this, weakened as he was by the pains of the deathwater, up against an opponent blessed by fortune.

It was then Sirria noticed: his foe had lost his sword. He was unarmed, easy pickings. In how many ways could luck save an unarmed man? This was his ticket out of here. He glanced around. No. This arena, it had too many variables. Too many ways for nature to conveniently intervene and save his foe, or worse. He couldn’t risk it.

“You’re a fool to cross me, Neil,” Sirria drew his blade, and gestured to the rapidly advancing waterline, “But luckily for you, I haven’t got time for this. Get out of my sight. Next time we meet, I will kill you on the spot."

And his foe, without acknowledgement, fled. Sirria shook his head. For even if Neil attacked him, luck would still favor him. It seemed his opponent didn’t understand the extent of the power his convoluted luck gave him, Sirria realized as he proceeded along the path, hurrying along towards his safehouse.

In reality, however, the man Sirria had faced did not know the extent of his power because he did not have such a power. No, his flight was grounded in something far more basic.

For kill is death, and death is irrevocable.

Zero, in the form of Sirria now, ran through the woods, uphill, away from its foe, from the one who would do it harm, who would curse it with the irrevocability of the absolute. The nonentity fled up the path, occasionally stumbling on the roots that would only inconsistently resolve themselves from the increasingly coherent mesh of colors that made up its surroundings, from the void that was gradually becoming a forest, becoming a world…

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But Zero, it seemed, was not the only thing in these woods that should never have existed. For across the hill, amidst a sheltered, singed copse of trees, away from the spreading fires and the gushing currents, was a dark, illogical corruption, a nonsensical stain on the world, a virus that bled through every facet of existence, poisoned reality by its mere presence. There seethed the Terrabeing.

The corrupt mass of data stood surrounded by fans formed of the same nonsensical streams of data that made up its body, cooling off from Heart’s attack.

QUERY(HEAT) = UNSUSTAINABLE, DROPPING
SYSTEM STATUS: STABILIZING
ACTION: MOVE = UNAVAILABLE


The Terrabeing shifted slightly as its priorities recalibrated, and it began to resume its prior mission. Lines of code warped, bent, wrapping around each other, shifting position, as some internal facet of its being activated, began to move once more. In the nearby trees, all signs of life began to regress as the birds, the small animals, shied away from the aberration that stood in the clearing before them, before the thing that should not by any means exist in this world.

TARGET VIRUS: Heart = UNDETECTED

INITIATE VIRUS SCAN


From amidst the Terrabeing, a sort of pulse radiated outwards through the ground, miniscule lines of code tracing over the environment, calibrating, analyzing the topography, taking in its surroundings. The code swarmed over the trees, through the caves, to the edge of the water, where, in a heap, lay the technopath, incapacitated. The scancode swarmed over him, radiating back outward over the environment, glowing a bright green as it returned to the Terrabeing.

ERROR. ERROR. VIRUS DETECTED. IDENTIFYING…
VIRUS IDENTIFIED: KEITH.
THREAT LEVEL: EXTREMELY HIGH.
STATUS: VULNERABLE.
RECCOMENDATION: DELETE!


The Terrabeing whirled to life, all systems on overdrive, prepared to delete the greatest obstacle to its security, to purge its system of the greatest threat.

QUERY (HEAT) = SUSTAINABLE, DROPPING

ACTION: MOVE = AVAILABLE


And the seething mass of code began to advance, ready to eradicate the living beings that, to it, were nothing more than viruses, bugs interfering with its systems, preventing it from spreading its codified, binary touch unhindered.

TARGET VIRUS (KEITH) = ACQUIRED
CREATE FILES: FLAME BEING (10)
TOAD (10)
KOOPA (10)

GOAL: CONFUSE. DISTRACT. ATTACK. DELEEEEEEEEEEEEETE!!


The Terrabeing’s makeshift army appeared, and, mechanically, with ruthless efficiency, headed off in the direction of the incapacitated Keith, the virus itself on their tail, fans whirring, data swarming across its surroundings as it glided over them…

The abomination was on the move.

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Neil hiked through the sinking forest, sword at his belt, loosening his cloak as he moved onwards. It was humid, unnaturally so. He frowned inwardly, unsure whether this was the climate of the round, or just was the Minister’s way of keeping people moving. Around him light filtered in through the trees, rays piercing the multilayer canopy above and somehow reaching ground level. The path he walked on was strewn with debris, be them leaves, branches, fallen trees, and he was forced to take his time navigating the terrain. As he progressed, he pondered Heart’s words.

”A thing that infects and devours all it comes across, that tears your DNA asunder and devolves you into nothingness. It's entropy incarnate and it won't rest until we've all been consumed!”

He shook his head… Anything that could bring scare a self-proclaimed deity into a berserk frenzy was too much for him, luck or no luck. He had no doubt of that. And the more thought he gave the Terrabeing, or “Missingno” as Heart had deemed it, the greater his unease; the less sure he was of the entire plan.

Neil hoisted himself over a thick, rotten log, and continued his trek. He noted, with unease, that he was set on a downward slope now, towards the rising water, but paid it no heed. He had long learned not to rely on his luck, but he was confident enough that his whims would take him where he needed to go.

For it wasn’t safety he was seeking. No. He was looking for his fellow contestants. He was looking for the people whose job it was to try to kill him. He’d done it before, in the Kingdom, but it had utterly failed then. The one person who had been receptive to his offer had been Takuma, and only reluctantly at that. And it had been a short alliance, he recalled with a grimace, thoughts returning to that moment on the edge of oblivion, with the sky falling all about him as he saw Takuma’s scared eyes reflected in his sword’s blade, as he knew what he had to do. As he forced himself, beyond his agony, to slit his friend’s throat…

Neil shook his head, leaping briefly down a small incline. He couldn’t let that happen again. And he couldn’t let himself dwell on it, not now, not when he had things to do. His thoughts returned to his mission: To find the other candidates, the humans in particular, and bring them into an alliance against the Terrabeing. It was Neil’s hope that Heart was right. Together they might have a chance at killing the accursed thing. It was the best shot they had. And it was his hope that they would realize the strength they had together, that they’d be willing to band as one once the virus was gone, willing to attack an even greater foe: The Minister himself. But he was not at ease. For what else had Heart said?

”Missingno was made by humans, perverting the course of nature for their own selfish ends. Therefore it's the humans who need to undo their wrongs…”

Heart may see him as an ally for now, but how long would that last? He despised humanity, or at the very least belittled them, looked down on them, that much was clear. Were they expendable to him? Tools to be used to attack this abomination, but to be disposed of at leisure afterwards? Heart could be trusted for now, while the Terrabeing was still alive, but after that? Neil had little doubt Heart would turn on him before long.

He again shook his head, and precariously stepped over a rather nasty pit before continuing his journey. His thoughts returned once more to the present task. He hoped that Heart’s little assignment would help him gain the support, the compassion of the others, enough so that they would listen to him later, but he didn’t have much faith in it. There were ten of them left. How many of them would ally with him? How many would be willing to help him against the Minister, against the Terrabeing even?

Neil broke through the treeline, and his thoughts ran to a dead stop. There, by the rising water, on the verge of being swallowed up, lay Keith, unconscious, delivered to him by lady luck herself.

There lay his best chance to advance… and his best possible ally. For a split second wild thoughts ran through his mind; thoughts of letting the boy drown, allowing the round to end, and quickly. Moving on to another place where a battle against the Terrabeing could be better waged. But then Takuma appeared before him, afraid, his eyes begging Neil to help him, even as Neil raised his blade to his throat. No, he couldn’t leave him here. Neil rushed forward and grabbed Keith in both arms, picking him up and making his way back up the trail.

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Evangeline came to a stop. She wiped a hand across her head, leaned against a tree, breathing heavily. She was freaked. What. The. HELL was wrong with this place? It was too quiet, unnaturally so. The usual signs of life were there, but… it was like they were repressed, like everything was afraid of something… Was it the water? Was it them, was it the contestants, that drove away the wildlife through their brawling, their discord, their disruption of the natural order? Had it been Aidrail’s demonic arts, unholy aberrations against reality?

Or was it something else? Something deeper, something terrifying?

She resumed her solitary run through the woods, shaking such thoughts out of her mind…

Ever since she had met Zelgius in the caves, she’d come across none of the others, and in the total absence of other activity her senses had sharpened, picking up on the smallest sounds. Everything should be so happy in this sunny place, free of bloodshed, of conflict… The skies were blue, the sun shining; it should be peaceful… But it wasn’t. It was wrong, so wrong! It was a tainted land, she could tell, and the silence was freaking her out.

She heard a distant roar, coupled with a scream and a reverberation, and ducked behind a tree. She found herself crying, missing home. What the fuck… Why did this have to happen?!? She was all alone in the woods, surrounded by nothing, overwhelmed by the forces she was up against, the impossibility of escape. How could she live, up against that demon Aidrail, against that legend of fire, Heart? What chance did a girl like her have… She was pathetic, useless.

No. She couldn’t think like that.

She got up, brushed aside her tears, and smiled, looking skyward, her mood swinging like a pendulum. She could do it. She just had to be smart. And with the day like this, what could go wrong? She again set off at a run, brushed aside a copse, emerged out into a clearing, a small break in the trees—

And stopped short.

There, in the center of the clearing, framed by an emblazoned circle of red, stood Aidrail, the demon himself. His halberd hung across his back. His hands fell loosely at his sides, his head was inclined slightly downward. It was as if he was in some sort of communion with whatever deity he served. Evangeline picked up a nearby rock. This was her chance!

She gulped. She was dealing with a demon, after all… No, he was distracted, this was her chance! She’d show them what she could do! She’d prove herself worthwhile! She crept forward, stone in hand, judging the distance to her foe, ready to pounce…

Aidrail laughed.

It was a deep chuckle, malevolent, tainted with madness, reverberating not from within him, but from some unknown, unholy depths. Evangeline was frozen on the spot, every instinct screaming to run, even as her body refused to obey. And the Son of Salvator turned, slowly. Evangeline’s pulse quickened, her eyes widened… Aidrail’s rune-engraved face bore a savage grin, his eyes were lit with flames of chaos, flames of madness.

“My, oh my, Evangeline…” Aidrail chuckled deeply, crossing his arms as he faced her, “the ostrich told me to wait here, said he’d find me the boy, the lucky one…”

The demon took a step toward the still frozen Evangeline.

“But it would appear that I won’t require his assistance this time. I have grown impatient. The Codex calls for blood. Zelgius said you’d be an easy kill, and you freeze at the mere sight of me… I see he’s not mistaken. And while you may not be Neil, I would be a fool to ignore helpless prey when it wanders so willingly into my grasp!”

Another step.

Move.

Aidrail stopped about five feet in front of the girl. Pathetic mortal. Aidrail frowned. It was a shame the Minister did not see his potential, that he would pit the Son of Salvator against such knaves, such ingrates. They had no worth before him. He would honor his father! He would show the Minister, he would show this god that he, and he alone, was above the rest!

“I will shatter you.”

He raised his arm; his hand clawed, brooding… Within coalesced a ball of darkness, a black flame. Light seemed to drain from the surroundings and siphon into Aidrail’s attack, from within which glowed a ghostly energy. The demon held his arm high, and lifted his head to the heavens, laughing in a moment of ecstasy.

“GOODBYE, PATHETIC GIRL!!”

Move. movemoveMOVE!!

She didn’t know if it was pure adrenaline, or some other base instinct that did it. Whatever the cause, something lit up inside her, that necessity to fight or flee, to bid for escape, or try to bring down her opponent. Evangeline, at last, sprung into motion.

She pulled her fist back, and punched the laughing Aidrail straight in the face.

The demon was knocked back, stumbled slightly, surprised, and snarled, blasting forth a sphere of dark energy. How DARE she sully him so? The black fireball collided with a tree, and a pulse of light radiated outward, a shockwave leveling all the nearby trees, shaking the ground. A good thirty-foot radius from the impact had been wiped clean of life, scorched to a crisp.

But Evangeline was gone. She had slipped away. Aidrail screamed his rage to the heavens, grabbing Ti’allin off his back, slamming it into the ground, which shook as dark flames erupted around him.

ZELGIUS!! FIND ME THAT GIRL!!

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The world was a haze. A tenuous blend of the uncertain, of the discordant color, shape, light, and sound, with the rational, the trees, the grass, the water, and the voices. The illogical abyss through which Zero had traveled was a mesh of the nonsensical void it had once experienced, and the more rational, more cohesive forest in which it truly stood. Yet even that was certain only by perception. Even the city in which Zero had come to life, the forest in which Zero now found itself, was nothing but the common interpretation of the nonsensical void. But it was to this image, this understanding of the chaos of the real, that Zero found itself, rapidly, inexorably driven by the events that it faced, by the beings it competed against, the ones it surrounded itself with.

Each step forward in the void resolved more of the land in Zero’s mind. With each step, the world settled more clearly into a finite form. With each step, the forest emerged from the abyss.

The trees, pillars of coherence from amidst the void, surrounded the nothing as he ran amidst them, unhindered, unimpeded. Zero’s motion was without end, just as its flight from pain refused to cease. Zero ran from the threat that was Sirria, disguised as that same threat, having adopted the guise of the Lycan. For kill is pain. And one must stay out of the way, if one is to avoid getting hurt. This was the law by which Zero’s universe currently operated, the law the nonbeing followed above all others. This was the idea around which Zero’s existence had begun to weave itself.

For it was instinct that drove Zero, above all else: The origin phrase, the beginning of its being, encapsulated in the twelve words spoken to it by the god that created it: pain is death, death is irrevocable, do not succumb to the absolute. The survivalist, stay out of the way and you won’t get hurt. And the hunter, kill or be killed. These were the cores of the nonbeing’s existence. These were the pillars of its incrementally increasing presence, as the being that was Zero rapidly started to become more than its name suggested.

Right now, the void was devoid of motion. The forest; bereft of sound. Zero ran, stumbling occasionally, through the silent trees, less than an animal, but infinitely more, an eternal paradox, driven away from the threat to its life, driven uphill by the instinct to keep moving. Kill is pain. Stay out of the way and you won’t get hurt. Immobility is irrevocable. Do not succumb to the absolute.

Zero peaked a small crest and fell, rolling forward, unable to anticipate the sudden reversal in slope. The nonbeing crashed loudly through a bush, birds streaking to the sky, streaks of motion, of life, through the still hazy abyss. Their cries rang out, and Zero rolled to its feet, picking up a nearby branch just as it had once earlier.

“What is this thing?” Zero responded to the resonations, the vibrations that were the birds, calling towards the heavens aimlessly.

Silence.

“Are you listening to me?”

Still silence. It stretched on for an uncertain time, until all in the world was still. Nonmotion is immobility. Immobility is death. Do not succumb to the absolute. Zero began to move, wandering again uphill, away from the disturbance, away from the approaching inevitability of the water, the cold that was the death this decreasingly blank slate must not succumb to. Zero wandered haphazardly up the trail, stumbling as it wandered around the various objects strewn across the path. It was their inconsistency that threw off the tabula rasa. It was this that restrained their coherence, it was this that prevented the nonbeing from properly grasping them. And it was this that caused Zero to continue to stumble on occasion, even as the rest of the surroundings began to emerge.

Entropy, it seemed, was impossible to truly adjust to, at least based on instinct alone. Zero continued to wander, continued to stumble, as it wandered up the hill once more, in isolation amidst the void.

But Zero was not truly in isolation, not, in reality, alone in the abyss by any means, in the haze that was the emerging world. For the void shook, the amalgamation vibrated, the presence of another was revealed as Jak shouted from above.

“Who’s there?”

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Neil wiped his brow. The technopath he carried was, arguably, his most valuable ally. He couldn’t simply let him succumb to the water’s touch. But the kid, with all his gear, was quite heavy, and slowed Neil down as he tried to scramble over the various obstacles, as the water rose steadily behind him. He thought again about the others. Why had there been no sign of them since he’d met Heart an hour ago? Why had he not heard anything from the Terrabeing, from Aidrail, from even the violent Sirria, or from Jak? He considered the nine other contestants.

Among the humans, there was Keith, who he now carried. The kid had a good sense of honor; he was very confident they could work together. There was Evangeline, who seemed kind, but was certainly a bit fragile not exactly stable… He frowned. She was a potential ally, but he hadn’t run into her once. There was Sirria, who had been hostile, and who he hadn’t seen since the Kingdom. Then there was Jak. Jak confused him; in the Kingdom he’d found the renegade quite hostile, but here, in the Forest, he’d been passive, if withdrawn. What had happened to him?

Beyond the humans? There was Terrabeing, Heart… There was Aidrail, whom he had absolutely no doubt he’d be unable to handle… He grimaced. The demon was another obstacle, without a doubt. Heart said he could handle him, so perhaps the survivor of THAT encounter would be weakened enough to fall quickly… There was Zelgius, the ostrich, who he’d seen leaping through the trees earlier, and who had refused his offer in the cave, calling him a fool and mindblasting him. But that was it.

And there was Zero. He stopped for a second, frowned. Zero had been called a blank slate by the Minister in the introductions, had appeared quite appropriately as a stark, silvery humanoid figure… But what HAD it been up to since? He hadn’t seen heads or tails of the thing. Neil continued onwards, uneasy. He didn’t know what to make of the final contestant… But wherever that thing was, whatever that thing was, it was alive. Neil gritted his teeth, lightly tossing Keith up atop some rocks, hoisting himself afterward. There wasn’t time for this now. He had to focus, had to get Keith to safety, try to wake the kid up.
But Neil had only just returned his attention to his trek when a torrent of woman and panic threw herself out of the woods and collided with him. The two fell down in a heap. Neil leapt to his feet, hand on his sword, as Evangeline rolled to a standing position. The two humans stared at each other…

“E… Evangeline?” Neil asked tentatively. It was a stroke of fortune, another of luck’s graces, that he now found himself with two of his best possible allies. Then he noticed the panic in her eyes, the heavy breathing, the way she held herself on edge, and he approached, raising up a hand as a sort of calming gesture, “Hey, it’s okay. You’re gonna be alright…”

Evangeline looked at Neil, at the man in front of her, and for a second calmed. But then Aidrail’s haunting laughter rose within her, his sneer flashed before her eyes.

“Move!” Evangeline snarled, lashing out with her right fist.

Neil hastily ducked the punch, then the kick that followed.

“Woah!! Evangeline, take it easy! We’re on the same side here!” he said, blocking another punch. She clearly wasn’t seeing reason, no, she wasn’t thinking at all. She was in a panicked frenzy, and Neil was the closest target. What had scared her so de—

Her foot collided with his stomach and sent him sprawling. Neil crashed into a tree, winded. Evangeline threw herself forward, right foot extended, and Neil rolled to his feet to dodge, proceeding to block the right hook she threw as a followup.

“Get… out… of… my… way!” she screamed, throwing punch after punch, each of which Neil ducked.

This was ridiculous! He needed to calm her down somehow. The scientists did too well, the Minister had said, especially in regards to her emotions.. Neil could see how that was the case: She had utterly lost her cool. Alright then, if words won’t slow her down, maybe something else will get her attention…

Neil ducked her latest punch, leapt backwards, and in a quick motion drew his sword, which he held forward, pointed at Evangeline. She stopped in her tracks, a look of fear dawning in her eyes, and stood there, breathing heavily.

“Stop.” said Neil.

Then the woods exploded.

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“Who’s there?” shouted Jak, drawing his sword. Someone had clearly shouted, caused a commotion in the brush below. He’d heard a crash, seen birds take flight, and shouting, inconsistent, first incredulous, filled with trepidation, then angry, aggressive, though he hadn’t been able to make out what had been said. He looked around. The trees whispered with the wind, the dark spaces yawning out at him.

Then motion. Someone was coming up the trail. Sword held at the ready, Jak looked toward his new company. Was that—

It was Sirria. Sword drawn, the Lycan walked up the trail towards him. Jak turned, his pose mimicking Neil’s from the cave, and SirriaZero’s response followed through, accordingly.

“What do you want, Jak?”

Jak gave Sirria a weird look. It was a strange question to ask an ally.

“It is good to see you, Sirria, my friend. How was the barrier?” Jak asked, lowering his sword, remembering Sirria’s mission, “Did you meet any success reading the Minister’s patterns out there?”

“Can’t go back there,” Zero said, shaking its head. Jak looked out across the expanse. Indeed, the water had begun to rise, quickly. He could see it through some of the gaps in the trees. The plain had been clearly flooded. How much? He couldn’t quite tell. But there wouldn’t be another trip.

“I heard something crash about, you shouted, followed by someone else. Who’d you meet? What happened down there just now, Sirria?”

“There’s some crazy shit going down. We’ve gotta get out of here,” replied Zero.

Jak fell silent, still slightly putoff by Sirria’s aggressiveness. They stood in silence, and Jak’s thoughts again wandered. What was going on? The mission to the barrier had been a failure, and perhaps this was what had Sirria spooked; he’d never seen the mercenary this short for words. The Sirria he’d become accustomed to so far, that Sirria was far more confident, far more well-versed. This Sirria, whatever had happened to him had left him short for breath. His eyes were darting about… he was clearly scared of something.

Was it the demon? Jak’s thoughts wandered to Aidrail as he looked around, surveying the clearing. He’d seen nothing of the guy. Or Heart, supposedly a god trapped in mortal form. Or… the Terrabeing. His last sight of that had been in the Kingdom, as he was forced to fend off whatever those data-things were. Had they been parts of the virus itself?

“Are you listening to me?” said ZeroSirria.

Jak snapped back to attention, “Sorry. I was just thinking about the others… have you seen anything of them since we got here? For me it’s been nothing, literally nothing. I met Keith in the caves, and he looked to be an easy kill, but he escaped, the bastard ran before I could catch him.”

Jak shook his head, “Since then, after we talked in the safehouse, I’ve been alone.”

“Better off left alone,” Sirria suggested, his voice still slightly fearful. Jak noted this, was concerned. Was it the water Sirria had been forced to face? The Minister had warned them about it, and Sirria’s trek had to have been a risky one.

“Maybe,” said Jak, continuing the conversation, “I mean, it’s gotta help me scout the area, but in the end there’s nothing like having a friend beside you to stop you from getting killed.”

“We don't have time for friendship, mate,” said Zero, “The world is falling-a-fucking part… All you can do now is kill.”

Jak nodded grimly. Yes, they may be allies, but they weren’t friends. How could they be? They had become acquainted not even two days, and the start of this companionship-thrust into a fight to the death against each other-was far less than ideal. They were allies, he knew this to be true. But how long would that last? If the escape attempt should fail, at what point should he expect Sirria’s desire to survive overtake his camaraderie?

At what point would his own?

Jak put his thoughts aside, and made to walk down the trail, but saw Sirria wasn’t following. He turned, faced his ally.

“C’mon, we should get back to the safehouse. Let’s get moving, “ Jak said, gesturing for Sirria to follow, “You look like you need a rest. We can stay there for a while, sit in safety while our opponents kill each other. Here on out, we stick together.”

And within Zero, something else clicked, something that hadn’t before…

A phrase, last heard from a scared man in the Kingdom, surfaced, connected by its common meaning to Jak’s own. And a new instinctual chain emerged within Zero, something else arose to combat the hunter, the survivalist.

Nobody can survive on their own.
Here on out, we stick together.
Nothing like having someone beside you, stop you from getting killed.
Kiill is death. Death is irrevocable. Do not succumb to the absolute.

“Let’s get moving,” Sirria agreed, and set off behind the soldier as they proceeded down the trail through the forest that was always a void, the void that was becoming a forest.

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From all sides, a plethora of koopas and toads from the Kingdom erupted from the trees, surrounding Neil, Evangeline, and the unconscious Keith. Neil and Evangeline looked back and forth, turned around.

“What’s going on?” said Evangeline, a hint of fear in her voice.

“It’s the Terrabeing, it has to be,” said Neil, “he’s created these clones to hunt us down.”

One of the koopas spoke, its voice metallic, crisp, robotic, “Viruses Neil and Evangeline identified. Surrender virus Keith or prepare to be deleted!

“Well, you were right about that. What do we do?” asked Evangeline.

Neil frowned, looking from side to side. The clones had him and Evangeline surrounded… Hastily he moved to the left and downhill a bit, standing over Keith, ready to protect the human boy from harm.

“Well, running wouldn’t be a bad option,” he said, “but they’ve got us completely surrounded. We fight.”

Failure to comply. PREPARE TO BE DELETED!!

The programs attacked, brandishing hammers and swords obviously created from code, swarming the clearing and trying to get a clear shot at Keith, engaging Neil and Evangeline whenever necessary. Neil attacked again and again, unrelenting, and found himself blocked repeatedly. Still he deleted clone after clone; each contact causing them to evaporate into lines of discordant code. He knocked aside a clone’s blade and scowled as one’s blade lashed across his left arm, leaving a shallow, bleeding cut. Teeth bared he kicked up a cloud of dust from his feet, disorienting the clones, and slashed three of them apart.

Evangeline kicked, threw punches into the Toads’ faces picked up and swung about a branch, collapsing the hostile programs, deleting them one by one. In a frenzy, she lashed out again, and again, her attacks wild. She’d show them! She was better than this! And, she thought as she kicked one toad into another, sending both into a tree, their code evaporating… she would have to move quickly. The demon was still after her, he had to be. She couldn’t let these things slow her down.

They were outnumbered ten to one, but back to back they had evened the odds a bit. But no sooner had a flicker of triumph crossed Neil’s head than it was all drowned. A fireball flew by Neil’s head, colliding with some of the clones behind him, evaporating them. Neil spun. Heart?!?

But it wasn’t Heart, no. Ten humanoids, bathed in fire, floated before him. And behind them, seething, whirring, was the Terrabeing.

”A thing that infects and devours all it comes across, that tears your DNA asunder and devolves you into nothingness. It's entropy incarnate and it won't rest until we've all been consumed!”

Neil’s eyes widened. He opened his mouth, ready to tell Evangeline to run, but immediately thought of Keith. No. There wasn’t time to run. He turned briefly and glanced at the technopath. The water had risen considerably during the combat; the ground they fought on was only about ten yards above the waterline now. They didn’t have time to fight either. A fireball blazed past Neil’s face, missing the lucky man by inches, and he turned just in time to stab through one of the advancing flame-beings. Evangeline knocked one aside with her branch, dissolving it, and igniting the end of the wood. The two stood next to each other as the Terrabeing and his eight remaining flame clones, alongside the plethora of kingdom-dwellers it had created, advanced upon them.

The abomination idled, examining its surroundings, and noted the two that stood between it and its primary target, as internally it processed this series of events.

OBJECTIVE: Obstructed.
TARGET VIRUS(Keith) UNREACHABLE
RECCOMENDATION: DELETE IMPEDING VIRUSES

CREATE: Wrecking Ball (1)


From the depths of the Terrabeing, code emerged, forming, shaping around itself… A wrecking ball appeared, flying at the humans. Neil and Evangeline leapt aside as it blasted, smashing through trees, creating a resonating splash as it landed far out in the lake. With a searing sound and a loud roar, the abomination threw itself forward. From within the stagnant virus, a line of code lashed outward. Evangeline let out a cry as it pierced through her gut.

“EVANGELINE!” shouted Neil as she fell to a knee, gripping the stab wound. The Terrabeing moved towards her, tendrils of code reaching out, intending on seizing her, holding her down…

…and Neil shoved his sword deep into the center of the mass of code.

There was a loud screeching sound as the Terrabeing stopped moving. The tendrils of code retracted from the shaken, bleeding Evangeline. For a second everything stopped. Had he done it? Had he ended the thing. He pulled his sword out. The Terrabeing flashed different colors, tendrils of data swarming around the hole Neil had cut in the nothing. From within the virus, a digitized voice emerged…

ERROR: Data loss.

Recovering Data:…


Those tendrils came together in the gap, hardened… The Terrabeing was as good as new. Of course… if it were that easy, Heart would have had no trouble with the thing. He had accomplished nothing. And now it was after him. Neil took a tentative step back, and nearly stumbled as he found himself on the edge of a steep incline, perched treacherously over the water of death… Shit.

He raised his sword, turned aside two lines of data as they reached for him, but it wasn’t enough. The Terrabeing was upon him. Strands of code wrapped around his arms, his legs, lifted him aloft. Neil struggled, desperate, as from within the Terrabeing another tendril emerged and approached him, trying somehow to avoid being shredded by the thing that should not exist, and the voice spoke once more.

VIRUS INCAPACITATED: Neil

ACTION: DOWNLOAD…


And the Terrabeing’s last tendril wrapped around his throat. But it did not tighten, didn’t suffocate him. No. It began to pull him towards itself, towards the seething mass of data.

”A thing that infects and devours all it comes across!”
”infects and devours”
”devours”

Shit. ShitshitSHIT! He knew he hadn’t had much of a chance in this. He knew he was up against things beyond his ability to handle. But he didn’t want to go now! Not like this! No!! He struggled, shouted, but it was no use, futile! The Terrabeing pulled him closer, ever closer, prepared to absorb him, to integrate him into the amalgamation of discordant color, of code, of data, into the abomination that was the renegade program…. There was nothing he could do!

Bolts of lightning seared across Neil’s vision, into the mass that was the Terrabeing, and the tendrils released him as the virus recoiled from the attack. He fell to the ground, reached for his sword, found it. He scrambled hastily to his feet, found himself shaking with fear, and looked to his savior. It seemed luck was truly in his favor.

There stood Keith, now fully conscious, his gun raised towards the Terrabeing, sparking.

“You looked like you could use a little help.”

Sword in one hand, arcing with lightning, gun in the other, the technopath surveyed the area. The surrounding trees had been decimated. A few stood aflame. Behind him, the water was treacherously close, and rising, fast. To his right Evangeline had struggled to her feet, bleeding profusely from the wound through her stomach. To his left Neil stood, shaken by the trauma of nearly being devoured by that glitch of a monster. Behind the great glitch stood a minor army of turtles, toads, and beings of flame.

“Stay low, Evangeline,” Keith said, “Neil, cover my back. There’s too many of them for me to take alone.”

The kid spoke with confidence, Neil noted. He looked at the guy’s equipment, and smirked despite himself. Should he be so surprised? This seemed to be Keith’s area of expertise. Neil collected himself, ready to fight again, and to protect Evangeline, as the clones closed in, ready to attack.

ERROR: VIRUS(Keith) ACTIVE
THREAT LEVEL: HIGH
ACTION: DELETE!!


From six different directions, fireballs flew inwards, reflecting off Keith’s fully charged shield, erupting into the forest. The trees were set ablaze, and the ground shook. A good EMP should do the trick.

Keith fired several shots with his gun, and they made their mark; several clones, including five of the remaining creatures of flame, erupted into data. The toads and koopas charged. Neil leapt forward, fighting them off, parrying their swings, attempting to counterattack and simultaneously keep them away from the wounded Evangeline. He could let her die now, end the round here. But no. Advancing meant little if he was just losing another ally.

Then the Terrabeing struck again, lines of data lashing out, a pair of anvils flying forth, bludgeoning Keith’s shield, weakening him. The technopath cursed as he cut the data apart from the Terrabeing, lashing out with his sword. The virus was forced to recover its lost code, but was otherwise unimpeded, surrounding the boy with its tendrils, pressing forward.

DELEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETE!!!!

Shit! Try… THIS! Keith pressed a button on his gauntlet. A blue light shot out, crossing the gap between them in a flash, and embedding itself in the center of the Terrabeing. An azure current pulsated through the hideous mass of the program, its code running wildly, and it was thrown backwards, smashing into a clump of trees. The clones closed in and attacked, preventing Keith from attacking their master. Two fireballs blazed his way; he leapt aside and they exploded into a cloud of steam as they impacted the deathwater.

ERROR: Internal corruption. Initiate cleansing software.
FILES REVERTING TO NORMAL STATE


The Terrabeing began to glow green as its data reconfigured, eradicating the malicious code Keith had implanted in it, even as the technopath was forced to fend off its clones.

RETURN TO MISSION
VIRUS(Keith) = Still Active.
CREATE: Animated knife(5)
Car (1)


Again a flurry of malicious objects flew Keith’s way. The knives lunged and slashed, but each was handily disabled and evaporated as it encountered Keith’s overcharged sword. He parried them all aside, turned to Neil in time to see the vagabond cut down another pair of clones. Evangeline was holding up okay, swinging a burning branch about with her free hand warding off the toads and koopas as they attempted to advance on her. She’d torn off a strip of cloth from the bottom of her shirt, wrapped it around the stab wound. It would hold of the bleeding, certainly, but it wasn’t enough to stop it. He could see she was losing strength.

Then his attention was torn away as a car smashed into him, knocking him backwards into the trees.

“KEITH!” shouted Neil. This wasn’t going well. The Terrabeing advanced again, its clones backing up to give the virus some room as the tendrils of code lashed forward. Neil slashed savagely, cutting the code apart, but it simply reformed, continued its inevitable approach. Nononono!

From the bushes, a storm of fire surged forth, incinerating the clones. It was Heart.

The bird-god stepped out and surveyed the scene.

It was a dangerous one. Before him, the Terrabeing, surrounded by its army of clones, had his ally cornered. The human Evangeline clutched her stomach, wounded. It seemed she was on Neil’s side; he had done well to bring her into the fold. But Heart had come into conflict with her earlier. Without Neil he’d lose her. He couldn’t let Neil die. Heart gathered the sacred fire in his hands and again struck out, bathing several clones in his flames. Heart leapt forward, throwing fireball after fireball towards the Terrabeing. The god’s teeth were bared, savage, in a righteous fury. BURN, you abomination! BURN, you blight on existence!

WARNING! WARNING! HEAT SENSORS OVERLOADING!
ACTION: Move = UNAVAILABLE

CREATE: Water Being(20)

GOAL: DEFEND, ATTACK, DELETE!


The Terrabeing’s advance was halted as it was forced to cool itself down, creating numerous fans to stave off Heart’s attack. All around it, streams of code formed together, spawning another wave of clones. They formed up around the virus, turning to face Heart, all thoughts of Neil forgotten for the moment, leaving him to the remainder of the clones from earlier. But Neil was surrounded, the clones closing in from all side. He looked behind him. The water had reached his level. needed a way out!

Bolts of lightning again laced through the clones, incinerating many from their ranks. Keith, his shield having saved him from the car, stood, exhausted but strong, his blade arcing with static, his gun held aloft, already firing more shots into the ranks of the Terrabeing’s host.

“Neil, get Evangeline out of here!” shouted Keith, “Leave the virus to us!”

Neil didn’t need to be told twice.

“Can you walk?” he asked Evangeline. She nodded, and grimaced with pain as she clutched her stomach. Half limping, half running, she followed Neil as he fled. The two disappeared into the woods.

Keith turned his attention back to the task at hand.

“Heart! What is your purpose here?” Keith shouted as he cut through a seething mass of unformed code the Terrabeing had thrown his way.

“I seek to eradicate this abomination,” said Heart, deflecting one of the water beings’ attacks with a burst of flame, “to purge it from existence with my holy fire, to send it to the abyss from whence it came, to the void where it belongs.”

“To the great Recycle Bin in the sky” muttered Keith, grinning, then spoke up, “Then it appears we have a common enemy.”

Heart looked over, his brows sharp, his gaze piercing, and smiled slightly.

“So it does, human. So it does.”

Quaetam
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Part 2

Post  Quaetam on Wed May 23, 2012 7:44 am

Jak made his way through the woods, progressing delicately downhill. Behind him, still in the guise of Sirria, was Zero, driven through the irregularity, through the uncertain world, by a new, emergent instinct: To avoid pain through unity, “nobody can survive alone,” currently overbearing the other two. The nonentity followed the exile, its steps uncertain as they moved through the entropic miasma that was the natural world, the randomness of the topography still impossible for Zero to truly deal with, to properly adjust to. And now, as they headed downhill, that tripping was exaggerated, those stumbles verging on falls.

Jak, however, was distracted from Sirria’s odd behavior by gaps in the trees, through which he could see the rising water, and images of a battle down below, near the curve of the mountain. He could see, across the watery expanse, a fire spreading, rapidly.

“Just wonderful,” the soldier muttered, “Fire on the water. Exactly what we needed,”

ZeroSirria didn’t respond. They continued onward, making their way through the forest… through the void. Jak noted the mark present on the trees. They must be close now.

“I’m worried,” said Jak, coming to a halt, striking up conversation.

“Too scared to move?” ZeroSirria cut in. Jak looked back at his companion, slightly annoyed, but continued nonetheless.

“I’m worried that the Minister might know of our plan,” said Jak, “I need to know what you did at the barricade, if you’re up to talking about it. Whatever it was you encountered might hold the key to whether or not we can pursue this any further.”

“Are you drunk or somethin’?” Sirria questioned, jovially. Jak frowned. Yes, something was definitely up with his ally. Sirria was behaving oddly, irrationally. He had barely known the mercenary for any time at all, but he knew, he KNEW that this was not how Sirria usually acted.

“We’re talking about a god,” Jak responded, ignoring Zero’s unusual inquiry, “About someone omnipotent. All-powerful! We already knew that to escape here we’d be fighting to break free of a universe… And he arranged this game to watch us fight to the death; if he’s keeping track of our every motion, how could he not see us trying to break free? Either he’s going to do something about it, or he’s so sure it’s futile that he’s just going to let us keep trying, as if we’re making things interesting for him somehow. If I’m right about this, our power doesn’t even matter; we might as well be alone.”

“Nobody can survive alone,” mocked Sirria, “Are you crazy?”

“Am I?” Jak countered, “You might have the magic, Sirria, you might have the physical strength, the wolf-blood to augument it all… But me? I know how to survive. To stay alive you have to adapt. To avoid dying you have to be flexible. Change in ways that keep you alive. Change in ways that you don’t get killed. We have a plan now, but hell, if this is just making things worse for us, we need to figure out, and now!”

Jak’s voice radiated his frustration, his annoyance, and Zero responded accordingly,

“Sorry.”

Jak closed his eyes, shook his head.

“Cmon… let’s get moving,” he said. Sirria followed as he continued down the trail, towards the safehouse. He rounded a bend, entering the woods, still following the carved symbols. Something wasn’t right here. Sirria wasn’t acting himself.

Concern began to dawn in Jak’s mind. What if this was one of the Terrabeing’s clones? But no, all the Keiths had simply tried to delete him before. By what logic would they do anything different now? Then again, Terrabeing was a computer program, an advanced one at that. Who’s to say it hadn’t been trying to get them back together, attack both at once, delete them that way? And what was there to suggest that it lacked intelligence, be it natural or artificial? No, Terra couldn’t be taken lightly.

Jak walked onward with a hand on his sword. They were nearing the safehouse now. He could see smoke rising from the trees ahead, its darkness blacking out the sky, a crisp smell blacking out the calming scents of springtime.

Jak rounded one final bend, and saw all his fears validated.

“Well, this is interesting,” spoke a voice, its bearer standing, blade drawn, amidst the path before him.

It was Sirria. The real Sirria.

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Neil and Evangeline half ran, half stumbled through the trees, Evangeline clutching her wound, in pain, Neil supporting her by his arm. From behind them rose the sounds of explosions, the cackling of flames, and the screeching of the Terrabeing crying for its foes’ deletion. He frowned, helping Evangeline atop a rock face before hoisting himself up. What was it that thing had tried to do to him? He closed his eyes, only to see nothing but lines of code, emotionless, pulling him into their mass.

Neil shook his head to clear himself of the terrible vision, and glanced behind them. He could see nothing but flashes of light, and smoke rising through the trees. Whatever was going on back by the water was quite a brawl, and one he had to stay as far away from as possible. Hopefully one of the combatants would die, and they could get out of here… Hopefully it would be the Terrabeing…

“Why did you save me?” Evangeline spoke up, interrupting his thoughts. Neil noted she hadn’t been spitting blood: it seemed the spear of code had, by Neil’s luck, missed her major organs. Did his luck extend so far as to protect his allies from harm? But he could tell she was weak; if she were to have a chance at healing they had to stop moving soon.

“Did you see what we’re up against?” Neil asked, “That… thing. It’s too much for us to take on one by one. Our only hope is to band together.”

Evangeline didn’t argue. She had seen what the Terrabeing could do. She’d seen it overwhelm them, had seen it nearly DEVOUR Neil. No doubt the only way they could defeat it was through a unified front. But…

“And then?” she asked, “when it’s dead, what happens? This is a fight to the death. I don’t fancy allying someone only to find myself stabbed in the back.”

Neil flinched at her accusatory look.

“There won’t be any backstabbing,” he said confidently, “Do you remember what I said back in the caves?”

She let out a laugh, “What, taking on the Minister? The guy who brought us here, tore us out of our worlds, and then left us to fight to the death? The guy who has enough power to be untouchable by even the Terrabeing, even that demon?”

“Yes,” said Neil, and her laughter was cut short, “It’s the best shot we have. If we take down that virus, maybe we can make something happen. I dunno for sure, but I know I don’t have much of a chance against the rest of you guys. This is the best shot we have of all making it home.”

“But it’s useless,” she countered, “even were we all to combine our strengths we’d have NOTHING on him. We’d all die anyways. Better to go down fighting and know you have a chance than to perish in some childish bid to throw that all away.”

“Maybe for you,” said Neil, “but I see hope. I’m done with killing… …I have enough blood on my hands already.”

That quieted her.

They resumed their trek, reaching a particularly steep slope that Neil had to practically push Evangeline up to keep her on her feet. The sounds of the battle behind them had grown quiet, but the flames, the flashes of light, were still there. It was Keith who was his main concern. They needed Heart to take on the Terrabeing, but Keith, to Neil, was rapidly looking like the only person who could be a true ally to him throughout this.

They at last reached the top of the incline, and Evangeline leaned heavily on Neil, exhausted. Yes, she needed rest. He looked around, saw a gap in the trees ahead, beckoned her onwards.

The two of them stumbled out into the sunlight, eyes widened. Evangeline looked about. They were on a precipice, not more than a hundred fifty yards below the summit, and looking out over the entire forest.

If it could be called a forest. It was more like a rubble-strewn, treetop-filled lake.

The water had risen impressively, and could be seen not far below the gaps of most of the trees in the canopy. Trees peaked merely thirty or so feet and dropping above the rising water, some higher, many submerged. A distant fire raged across much of the hillside, blackening the sky with smoke. Neil wondered who, of the others, had been the cause of that.

Whatever the case, they were safe here for now.

“Let’s rest here,” said Neil, “Keep pressure on that wound, I’ll go stand guard.” Not complaining, Evangeline lay down, hands clutched to her stomach, Neil instructing her to keep her feet lifted. Neil got up, one hand on his sword, looking around, thoughts on his wounded comrade. The best bet they had was to stop the bleeding somehow, and they’d already done all they could on that note. Hopefully whoever cloned Evangeline had given her superhuman toughness, because they wouldn’t be able to rest here for long. And he had no telling when, or how, this was all going to end.

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There was a long, awkward silence. Jak stood, aghast, eyes turning from Sirria to Sirria, from nonbeing to being, unsure of what exactly was happening. It was the Terrabeing, it had to be! Sirria’s thoughts, however, wandered down another path as well as he recalled a different encounter, before Zelgius’ mindblast had scrambled his magic sense…

“Jak,” said Sirria, eyes narrowed, blade drawn, “Do you care to explain why there’s two of me? Because last I checked, there was only one of me. Two at once is impossible. There cannot be two of me, now or ever.”

“What do you want, Jak?” said Zero. Jak turned, drew his sword and slashed, intending to dispatch the clone quickly. Zero mechanically stepped back to avoid the attack, but Jak’s blade raked lightly across the nonbeing’s shoulder, drawing blood. Jak's eyes widened in surprise as Zero did not erupt into lines of code, but, rather, remained solid before him, a corporeal opponent. Pain laced through the void, and the instinct of the survivalist dawned upon the blank slate. Pain is death, death is irrevocable. Stay out of the way and you won’t get hurt.

Zero turned immediately, and fled.

“Shit,” said Jak, “Shitshitshit. How didn’t I see through that?”

“I don’t know,” said Sirria, “but we have bigger issues than that now. Come on, let’s get after him.”

“Why?,” Jak asked, noting the confidence in Sirria’s demeanor. Yes, this was the real one, without a doubt, “If this is a Terraclone it’s not worth wasting our energy. And if it’s something else… I don’t know what could do that, but I don’t fancy fighting it.”

“Just come with me, I’ll explain on the way,” said Sirria, and together the two dashed into the brush, all thoughts of the safehouse gone.

They ran through the forest, jumping roots, dodging trees, looking for the missing Zero. Around them the fire was spreading, and they were forced to run a ways uphill and circle around to avoid being caught in the blaze. The water, they could see, had risen considerably.

“So do you care to fill me in?” Jak asked, “Cause right now I have to say I’m as confused as fuck.”

“That thing wasn’t part of the Terrabeing,” said Sirria, “It was Zero.”

“Zero?” said Jak, surprised, coming to a stop for a second, “the missing contestant? The one we haven’t seen anywhere?”

“Yes,” said Sirria, “It gives off a similar magical energy to a creature of the void.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?” Jak asked.

“Because the more we know about it, and the less the others know, the better a chance we have of taking advantage of it. I think it operates based on some kind of formchanging, possession, or illusions,” said Sirria, “If we know what to watch for when we come in contact with it, we’ll be in a good position to avoid being tricked by it, and possibly use it to fool the others.”

Jak looked surprised, and spoke, “So what are we to do then? And if you can read its magical energy, why not just find the thing this way?”

“The ostrich attacked my mind in the Kingdom,” Sirria growled, “and since then I’ve been entirely unable to sense magic. No, we’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way.”

Sirria pointed one way, “You know the land here… you go that way. Try to cut it off if it runs by you. There’s a ridge up ahead; that should give you a good vantage point to look out over the battlefield. I’m going to continue along the edge of the flames. If you find it, try to reason with it, bring it to me if you can. If not, well, someone has to die now. The voidling is a powerful tool we could exploit, but at the same time a very easy target.”

Jak nodded, and the two split.

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Zero ran through the forest, through the hazy, emerging world once more, following the path of the survivalist. Pain is death. Stay out of the way and you won’t get hurt. Its instincts propelled it forward, without reason, without thought, for it remained incapable of either. But Zero pushed onward, into the forest, aimless, running. And its form was uncertain now. Where before it had always adopted the appearance of the last entity it had encountered, now it was left without a clear choice. Zero’s form oscillated, waxing and waning between Jak and Sirria without end, eternally uncertain, as Zero continued to dash, to stumble.

Fire raged nearby, and the source of light, of energy, stood out to Zero amidst the rest of the haze. For a moment the nonentity stood, transfixed, extending a hand to a burning bush. But the heat struck at it, burned it, searing through Zero’s void, and the blank slate quickly retreated from the pain, the incipient potential for death that the fire held. Zero recoiled, and resumed its run...

Zelgius, ever mobile, continued to similarly move about. The ostrich hopped around the arena, tree to tree, as the fights broke out around him. He was pleased; so far he’d done well to avoid combat, to stay out of trouble. He threw his mind around, searching for Evangeline, for Neil, either of whom would make a good sacrifice for Aidrail. Were he to catch one of them, the demon would be pleased with him, and the longer Aidrail found him satisfactory, the better the chances he’d outlast him. Around him, the arena had rapidly become the battlefield it was meant to be. He’d seen Heart fighting alongside Keith against the Terrabeing, attempting to hold his ground but forced to abscond just as the human turned tail. He’d seen Sirria, had followed the Lycan’s mind as it headed away from the arena, past his vision, and then back, weakening, nearly collapsing before reaching the hill again. He’d come into contact with Aidrail several times, the most recent being the fury with which Aidrail demanded he go fetch Evangeline, like he was some dog for the demigod to command. Bah.

But he couldn’t afford to think like that, not now. Right now they were allies, and right now Zelgius knew that wouldn’t last forever, not given the nature of this game. Here, the best he could do was keep himself near the demon—useful enough that he wouldn’t be attacked, and close enough that he’d be trusted and could calculate how to overcome his foe. Yes, Zelgius nodded to himself, that would be what he had to do.

Zero, meanwhile had continued its run through the abyss, through the illogical colors, heat, light, and sound, its form continuing to shift rapidly between the two it had just encountered, unable to settle on a single identity. Then, through a gap in the trees, motion streaked through the void; the colors of the forest were pierced by a figure, a being.

It was Sirria. And Zero’s form finally resolved itself. For, in the mercenary’s own words: There cannot be two of me. Following this principle, Zero’s form settled, at last, on Jak.

It was at this moment that Zelgius, hopping overhead, spotted the nonbeing below him. Jak was running, aimlessly, through the treeline, his sword still in hand, but utterly alone. This was an opportunity indeed! Zelgius immediately closed his mind to the human, although he noted his surprise that he hadn’t felt Jak’s presence the way he would most sentient life. The human seemed to have some sort of mental barrier, perhaps as a sort of training?

Zelgius reached out with his mind, touched that of Aidrail, felt the chorus of chaotic voices that was the demon’s inner self,

I’ve found you a target!” he said, then went quiet for a moment as Aidrail’s thoughts reshaped to form something resembling acknowledgement, “It’s the human, Jak. I’ve seen no sign of the other two, so he’ll have to do. He’s alone, over to the east. Come quickly.

Aidrail’s thoughts resembled acknowledgement, and Zelgius felt the change in his ally’s mind as the demon snapped out of meditation and rose to his feet, ready for the kill…

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Heart’s flight through the trees had been a frenzy, not a tactical retreat: His was the flight of an animal, seeking to escape a dangerous predator, not that of a man intending to regroup. There was no thought as the deity leapt through the brush, hurdled logs, rocks, sprinting his way uphill. It was all instinct, all a desire to survive. Visions of the abomination had once again burned themselves into his mind. Missingno. The terror that had nearly savaged his entire world. Here, again, to finish the job. It was nothing, literally nothing; that had been the mistake of the scientists who created it. They had, in their unholy arts, torn a hole in reality, creating something that should never have existed in the first place. They had created an existence incipient upon damnation, one that didn’t want to be un-created.

And it was like a virus. It had spread, undaunted, unremitting, before they’d finally managed to seal it away, apart from the world.

Or so he had thought.

For here it was, now, attempting to devour them. His thoughts turned to the battle he had fought alongside the humans. Neil had fled to tend to the wounded female, Evangeline, and while Heart was displeased that he had abandoned the fight, he understood the importance of keeping them alive. The lightning boy had fought bravely, Heart recalled; he continued to underestimate his skill. But at the first sign of injury, the second Missingno had erupted into overdrive and at last gotten past Keith’s Protect, the youth had cried out in pain and fled. The phoenix scowled. Brave or not, he was still human. Still a coward, only willing to fight when he could hide behind Heart’s kind, when he himself was in no danger. Far too often had he seen trainers run, hysterical, when all their slaves had fallen before him. Far too often had he seen them simply pass out in shock, blacking out on the battlefield.

Against Missingno, he had to concede, such fright was understandable. For even he had been forced to flee, forced to run in this awkward human form in an attempt to escape. So sorely he missed the ability to spread his wings, take to the skies, where even Missingno would have a hard time reaching him. Although, he did recall the Minister saying that such attempts would unilaterally fail, so he guessed it didn’t matter anyways.

Heart’s thoughts returned to more pressing matters than longing for his old form. The Terrabeing, as they called it, though he knew its true identity. It had batted those humans around like flies, like vermin. Much as the phoenix enjoyed seeing the arrogant creatures put in their place, this did not bode well for their future chances. Hopefully those three would survive, and wherever they ended up next, away from this watery hell, they could better rally against it.

Heart considered the demon, considered the werewolf. Neither of them seemed likely comrades against the glitch. No, he really would have to focus on the humans, infuriating as they were.

Heart rounded a corner, and heard a rustle above his head. He reacted immediately, spinning, eyes flaring as he let loose a fireball, which soared skyward, colliding with the tree that was the source of the disturbance.

Zelgius squawked and leapt aside as the branch he stood on exploded. Fight or flee. Fight or flee!

The ostrich braced himself, looked around for the source of the carnage. He locked eyes with Heart, and the two relaxed.

You know, you could ask who you’re about to toast beforehand.

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Neil whirled around, shouting for Evangeline to brace herself, as with a rustling noise something crashed through the bushes. He drew his sword, ready to fight… only to see his ally, Keith, standing, panting before him. His sword was no longer giving off sparks, the glow around him that indicated his shield had vanished. A piece of his shirt on his left arm had been torn—no, had been burnt away. Underneath the skin was singed, badly.

“Keith!” shouted Neil, rushing over to the guy, “what happened?”

“The Terrabeing…” Keith gasped, “…did some sort of crazy attack… Data flying everywhere… like an overload… Separated us… I ran out of power, had to get out of there…”

Keith walked over to a rock that lay amidst the clearing, where he sat, wiping a hand across his sweaty brow, dropping his gun.

“Do you know where Heart is?” Neil asked.

Keith closed his eyes, shaking his head, “No.”

The two of them had fought, long and hard, against the rising water just as much as the Terrabeing, but it wasn’t enough. Everything they threw at it would at best shut it down for a brief period, would perhaps cause it to overheat and lose motor functions, but they didn’t have enough power on their own to overcome it. Terrabeing had gone into a fury at its inability to delete its foes, and had, enraged, unleashed some sort of attack he’d never seen before; data strands flying every which way, burning at them like acid. Keith’s shield had run out of energy fending them off, and one singed his arm…. That had been enough for him. He had turned and fled, hoping to run into Neil and Evangeline, knowing, by the fact that they hadn’t left the forest, that they must still be alive. Where Heart was now he had no idea, but by that same principle he was sure the legend still stood.

Keith forced himself to his feet, and after a quick glance at Neil, placed his sword down to let it charge in the sun beside his gun.

“I’m going to set up a scanner,” Keith said to Neil’s incredulous look, “If that segfaulting bastard gets anywhere near here we’ll know, and have time to get away.”

He pressed some buttons on his gauntlet, and walked off into the woods. Neil sheathed his sword again and turned to tend to Evangeline. She seemed to be overall stable somehow, perhaps by whatever superhuman gene had been prenatally implanted within her. He looked at her stomach. The cloth she’d wrapped herself in was soaked in blood. There was no way to tell how much of it had dried and how much was fresh; he didn’t know if she was healing or not.

“Can I see it?” Neil asked. Evangeline shook her head, recoiled from him. Neil sighed, exasperated. He’d certainly found an ally in the woman, but he could tell her trust would not be so easily gained.

“Try to stay still,” Neil said, “the less you move, the less blood you lose. Keep your feet elevated, keep pressure on the wound. We’re going to have to move soon, I think, and we’ll be dangerously vulnerable if I have to carry you.”

Evangeline obliged, remaining where she was, feet propped up against a rock, head down on the ground, hands pressed against her stomach. Neil stood, surveying the area. The water had risen a great deal: Of the forest below, only the oldest, tallest trees still stood above the waterline. The deathwater now lay only a good hundred yards below the precipice on which they now stood. They were no longer far above the surface, but at the halfway point. And something seemed to be increasing the rate at which it flowed. Was the Minister impatient with them? Was he furthering their demise, trying to push them all together? They’d need to move, and soon.

Keith’s voice interrupted his pondering, “Neil! We’ve got to get moving! Someone’s co—“

The boy stopped short.

“That’s right, Neil,” said a gruff voice behind him, “Time’s almost up!”

He whirled around, unsheathing his blade. Standing there, arm glowing with runes of power, wolfish grin cross his face, was Sirria.

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“My apologies, Zelgius,” the bird-god said, “I thought you were part of that thing.”

Zelgius’ mind reached towards Hearts, and found memories of a desperate struggle, of fire and metal, of the screeching virus, itself a scar in reality.

You mean Terrabeing?” Zelgius asked.

“Missingno, yes. I ran into it earlier, when wandering, and it tried to consume me,” Heart snarled, his voice rough, shaking, almost feral, “I was just barely able to fend it off. I found it again, in combat with the Thunder-wielder, but we STILL were unable to slay it.”

Heart frowned, arms crossed, again pondering. Zelgius thought back to the Kingdom, back to his initial encounter with the virus. Before Heart had spoken to him, he hadn’t considered it a major threat, even if he had been unable to escape its cage, even if it had held him in a deathtrap. But now? He delved again into Heart’s memory. If it had been able to take on Heart and a handful of the others, and emerge seemingly unscathed, things didn’t look good.

Welp, I’m certainly unsettled,” Zelgius said, clicking his head back and forth, examining the nearby trees as if expecting the Terrabeing to leap out and grab him, attempt to devour him. He found himself highly concerned: He had thought he’d aligned himself with the greatest threat, had hoped that by sticking by Aidrail he’d managed to grant himself some leg-room against the biggest danger to his success in this game. But if the Terrabeing was THIS powerful? There might be a problem in the near future…

Things were quiet for a moment as the two avians looked around.

What can we do about it?” Zelgius asked.

“I’m not sure if there’s much we can do, but I shall not falter,” said Heart, “I will overcome the monstrosity, for we must. It was defeated once, we can do so again.”

Have you got a plan?

“Yes,” Heart said, “I’ve instructed the human Neil to gather the others of his kind together in a bid to destroy it.”

Neil? The fool who thought he could kill the Minister.

“Yes,” Heart said, looking at the ostrich, trying to read whatever expression was on the cyborg’s face.

Zelgius was amused despite himself. The human was supposed to be lucky… It looked like he’d need it—He didn’t seem particularly bright. Heart was intelligent, of this he had no doubt, yet Zelgius couldn’t help but question Heart’s choice here. This was not the best plan. So many things could go wrong, so many variables could come into play and break this apart. But maybe….

Humans… I don’t trust their kind. Do any others know about this yet?

“From the brief glimpse I caught before, It appeared Evangeline was with him,” Heart said, “But she was wounded, gravely, and they left the battle. The lightning-wielder Keith, also took part in the conflict, but fled at the first sign of severe danger.”

Heart shook his head before continuing, “Their kind is ever-petty, ever-cowardly. I too have little faith in their ability to keep this up for long, but perhaps they can be of assistance.”

And what’s gonna happen when they’re done with Terrabeing? Do you really think you can keep these arrogant creatures on a leash?

“I will do what I must,” said Heart, “There are other threats. Perhaps they can help against the demon. Or the werewolf. Whatever the case, Missingno is the greatest threat, the embodiment of chaos, and I have little faith the humans will survive this encounter. Missingno wishes to drag us all into the void, and while it still lives we cannot hope for victory.”

Things were quiet for a moment. Zelgius considered Heart’s words. If Heart were to overcome Missingno, he would likely be confronting Aidrail next. And if Heart was to confront Aidrail, Zelgius couldn’t remain on both sides for long. He wanted to protect Heart, to keep the bird-god alive at all costs; He had promised Soul this much. Then Zelgius recalled how the Codex had terrified him, how its release had burned at his mind. He was working hard to get on the demon’s good side, was doing all he could to build up Aidrail’s trust; it was the best way to avoid the demon’s wrath, when the demon was able to so easily render him powerless. Would Heart be able to overcome Aidrail, if this ever came to pass? Or would Aidrail prove too much, even for the god of flame? Zelgius couldn’t answer this yet, but he knew that once he could, choices would have to be made as to where his loyalty lay. In the meantime, the longer he could forestall such a confrontation, the better.

But the Terrabeing had to die, without a doubt, and once the Terrabeing was dead, Heart might turn the humans on Aidrail. So what could he do?

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Neil stood about five feet away from his foe. Sirria hefted Desparatum with a grin, twirling it around, waiting patiently, ready to strike.

“You weren’t the foe I was expecting,” said the mercenary, beginning to pace, “but I’m not one to complain. I told you last time we met that I would take your life… Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t fulfill that promise.”

“Stop!” said Neil, slightly panicked. Bloody hell, was every single foe lining up to have a go at them, one by one? How long would his luck hold out against this man?

And Sirria himself, beneath his façade of arrogance, of confidence, was deeply concerned. He fully grasped the power Neil’s luck bestowed upon him. They had fought in the Kingdom, twice. The first time, through his arcane might, through the strength in his claws, in the bestial blood that flowed through his veins, Sirria had beaten the vagabond to the ground, prepared to strike a finishing blow, to utterly eviscerate his foe. Then the monstrosity atop the Ivory Tower attacked them both, breaking up their duel. The second time Aidrail’s attack on the tower had incapacitated him, allowing his foe to simply walk away. The whims of fortune hadn’t doomed the Lycan in either duel, merely saved his foe. His eyes narrowed, darted toward the wounded Evangeline.

Neil followed Sirria’s gaze, raising his hand, his sword held off to the side, and he backed up slowly,

Neil glanced at Evangeline, who lay still wounded, at Keith, who hurriedly scrambled to gather his sword and gun, still low on power, still visibly exhausted from the fight with the Terrabeing. They couldn’t handle much more. And did Sirria need a full moon to cross? Neil wasn’t sure, but he wasn’t going to bet on it. If the Lycan were to transform now, if the mercenary were to cross the mental threshold, enter the inane realms of the wild beast, one of them would surely perish. And while the Minister would, without a doubt, take them between the worlds before the other could fall, what chance would his last remaining ally have?

He had to stop this here, or, if words couldn’t sway the mercenary, to get him away from the others somehow. Even without transforming, Sirria wielded powerful magic, and Neil wasn’t confident he could keep Keith and Evangeline out of the battle.

“This battle is pointless, Sirria! We don’t need to fight!” Neil said, circling his foe gradually. Sirria, naturally, imitated the move. Perfect… keep that up.

“We’ve got larger things to settle than this petty rivalry!” Neil continued, “We can work together! There are greater foes for us to defeat!”

Other thoughts were running through the Lycan’s head, however. In the Kingdom Neil’s luck hadn’t doomed Sirria, but this time, when others’ lives were on the line? This time, realized Sirria, maybe the chance to leave this world and move onward, to somewhere he could better tend to her, was exactly what his enemy needed.

He thought about his other foes, about Aidrail, the demon who had been too much even for his fully-realized Wolf to properly handle, if only just, about the Terrabeing, the thing that shouldn’t exist, that COULDN’T exist, about Heart, whose sheer power had exploded in the Kingdom, causing the explosion that had rocked the Ivory Tower on its hinges, nearly collapsed it upon the world. None of them, none, were as terrifying as the power, this impossible luck, that survivalist wielded. For how can one possibly defeat a foe who held all the blessings of fortune? Something will always go right for them, something will always save them, or damn their opponent even from the edge of victory. There was only one way to fight such an enemy, and it was one almost beyond the realm of possibility.

“If you think I’m foolish enough to believe I have a chance against a god, you find yourself mistaken,” Sirria snarled, continuing to circle, even as his mind calculated his ways out, calculated what he could do to defeat Neil here. If he was going to survive this, he had to get rid of the vagabond quickly, before there was nobody else left. And, he realized, thoughts turned to the dual threat of the water rising below and the trees burning above, if he was to escape this round, it had to end now. But what could he do against this man, wielding that inescapable, unrelenting luck?

Then Sirria saw Evangeline, met her eye, and it clicked. Of course! He grinned, raised his sword. He didn’t have to worry about Neil being lucky, killing Sirria to keep Evangeline alive… because her allegiance lay elsewhere…

Neil was exacerbated, frusturated even, but kept pacing, kept talking. He had nearly reversed their positions now… He stood between Evangeline and the trees, and Sirria across the rock face from them both. This was where he needed to be. If the mercenary attacked Evangeline, he could get him off her in a heartbeat. He stopped, stood his ground, looked his foe in the eye.

“Look… I want to take down the Minister,” Neil said, “I want to get us all home. I get that you might not see my side in this, you think it’s futile. But there are other things at play. The Terrabeing, Aidrail. They’ll tear us apart if we don’t do something about it. Help me get rid—“

“NEIL!” shouted Keith from behind him. Sirria turned, frowned. Neil found himself interrupted as another figure burst through the brush. It was Jak, machete at the ready, eyes wild. Sirria grinned, and Neil backed up until he was standing near Evangeline, near Keith. The four of them faced off, Neil beside Keith, about ten feet away from Sirria, the latter still bearing a wolfish sneer, and from Jak, who glanced about, uncertain of the entire situation.

“Bout time you showed up, Jak” smirked Sirria, “Looks like Neil’s aligned himself with the boy. That makes it two on two then. A fair fight, by all means… And it only takes one fatality to escape this wretched forest. We kill one of them before they kill us.”

“That’s the way the world works these days,” Jak acknowledged, “Kill or be killed.”

“Absolutely,” sneered Sirria. Continuing to circle, he dragged Desparatum across a rock, cutting a thin, azure molten swath into its face. The sound of metal against stone reverberated across the clearing, the compressions, the rarefractions oscillating through the air, bringing with them hints of pain… resonations of creeping, cutting death.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” said the renegade, Jak, said the nonbeing, Zero, its voice slightly slurred, aggressive. Sirria did a doubletake, but thought nothing of it.

“Come on, Jak,” he muttered, “The sooner we kill these two, the sooner we can get out of here. You take the kid, I’ll take the lucky guy.”

“Listen kid, we ain't got time for you,” Jak said, in a gruff voice, “Either leave now, or you won't leave alive.”

But Keith wouldn’t move. He stood his ground. He wasn’t about to abandon his ally, not now!

“If they can’t combine their energies, we can pick them apart at our leisure,” said Sirria,“Split up, get them apart!”

Neil was puzzled, his guard lowered slightly. After Jak’s entrance, it was clear that he and Sirria were allies, but something was amiss. Sirria, even as he held up his blade to defend himself, looked crossways at his comrade, a quizzical expression across his rough features. And Jak shook his head, “If we stay apart, we’ll be picked off, one by one, but if we rally together, we can try to take down the bastard behind this whole thing.”

“…what?” said Sirria, confused and enraged. They had just discussed the futility of Neil’s plans, this was not the time to reconsider! The water was rising, the fire spreading. He scowled, and turned again to face his opponents.

“If you don’t want to help, then fine, stay out of my way!,” Sirria growled, focusing on Neil and Keith. He couldn’t afford to jeopardize his alliance, especially not now. Being alone in this game would do him little good. He’d deal with Jak later.

“Jeeze, buddy, I didn’t mean for any harm,” said ZeroJak.

Feeling a strange sense of déjà vu’, Neil interjected, “YES! Listen to Jak! Jak… Sirria… we can do this, we can fight together! Please, lay down your arms, let’s come to an agreement. We face a common foe, we can be friends here.”

“We don't have time for friendship, mate,” said Jak, said Zero, “The world is falling-a-fucking part! All you can do now is kill.”

Neil tightened his grip on his sword. The renegade wasn’t going to cooperate. Keeping his face towards Sirria he glanced about. Keith was charging up, slowly, gaining energy from the sun’s rays. And Jak, despite his lack of cooperation, didn’t seem to be helping Sirria much. The longer he stalled this, the longer it went on, the better their chances of making it through.

“Yes,” said Sirria, “so kill THEM!”

“You drunk or something?”

“What, exactly, is going on here?” Evangeline asked from where she lay behind Neil.

She was interrupted as Keith’s voice rang out… “Oh, shit… Neil!”

Neil raised his sword, shook his head “Keith, don’t let your guard down,”

“Hey, Keith, is that you, or just another digital fuck-up?” ZeroJak goaded.

“Jak, stop playing games,” Sirria snarled, impatient.

“No, Neil! He’s here, He’s coming!!”

Everyone went silent; the world quiet save for the roar of the ever-approaching fire, the soft but deadly sound of the water lapping against the rock face below.

“Are you listening to me?” asked ZeroJak, again aggressive.

“Is it Terrabeing?” Neil asked Keith, eyes widening.

“No,” said Keith, “Worse!”

A deadly chuckle raised throughout the clearing, raucous, haughty laughter lifting from unseen, unholy depths, surrounding them, enveloping them.

“Who’s there?” barked ZeroJak, gripping its sword, raising it just as Jak had earlier.

From the treeline, below the rising smoke, Aidrail stepped into the clearing. His eyes burned with a malignant light, savage, devouring. Ti’allin was held low and at his side, and its’ haft cackled with a dark energy, the halberd blade radiating a deep black. Plants crackled at its’ touch, their souls burned away. His mouth a wild grin, he laughed deeply once more, the sadistic glee of the Son of Salvator rising around the four humans and the one nothing. The world seemed to drain of light; it was as if his demonic mirth had sucked all life out of the world.

Evangeline cringed, her muscles clenched. Keith backed away from the woods, sword and gun raised, shield flickering, weakly, to life. Sirria’s eyes narrowed, he gripped his sword intently, memories of the brawl in the tower returning to him. Neil stepped forward, ready to fight to defend his two allies in this savage brawl, ready to protect Evangeline and the undercharged Keith. He’d have to keep the boy safe, just as he would have to save Evangeline. His options were already slim against Sirria, against Jak, even if their alliance was having issues. But against Aidrail?

“Well, well…. “ said the demon, his words absolutely dripping with menace, “I came chasing the renegade here, but it appears I’ve been far… luckier than ordained… Who will it be, then…”

Aidrail’s voice trailed off, looking over the mortals. There was the clearly weakened Keith, who stood, weak, an easy target. Jak, who seemed to have recovered his weapon, but didn’t seem to have any sort of ability that could hope to combat his magic. Evangeline, who had moved herself to a sitting position despite Neil’s advice, who had dared strike him earlier… she would make a fine target indeed… Sirria, the werewolf, his greatest foe so far… Eliminating him now would be ideal, for the rest would surely die with little effort. But he was weakened, and there, across from him, stood Neil himself, who had dared speak out against a god. Aidrail was reminded of his mission. Neil must fall, by his hand…

His gaze settled on the vagabond, and Neil took a step backwards, raising his sword, eyes intent. Shit.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Jak asked, stepping forward, still holding his sword before him.

“What are you doing?” muttered a snarling Sirria. Blue fire exploded about his runed arm. He couldn’t handle the demon now, but he might be able to convince Aidrail to at least go for another target. “Get back, Jak!”

Anger flared in Aidrail’s bloodlust-fueled mind.

“You dare speak out against me, mortal? You dare sully the son of Salvator?” Who would he kill? It was a rare occasion he had so many… options. Who would he slay?!? His eyes flickered back and forth. They were all blasphemers!!

“You have done nothing to earn your arrogance,” sneered Aidrail, “None of you have. BURN, NOW, BEFORE MY FURY!!”

And like a rope stretched to breaking point, the tension in the clearing snapped, and everything erupted into chaos.

Aidrail slashed forward with his halberd, spinning Ti’allin in a wide arc, drawing into the power of the plentiful souls in his Codex. A storm of black and red flame lashed out, buffeting the five who stood before him. Sirria raised his right arm, blue flames rolling outward and forming a shield of light against which Aidrail’s darkness struck, knocking him back. Jak was tossed aside by the halberd’s blade, despite raising his sword to block, and immediately rolled to his feet. His sword itself had split cleanly in two, Aidrail noted with a grin. He was the one then… Kill him now, and end this quickly. Or would he wait? The unarmed Jak was unlikely to be a threat in the future, why waste time on him now? He turned, towards Neil, who had dived to the ground as the blast of darkness passed overhead, and who now scrambled to his feet, still gripping his sword…

Aidrail scowled, recoiling as lightning passed through his veins. It was Keith, gun raised in shaking hand. The boy has guts, the demigod acknowledged, with a grin, but that will not serve him well here. Aidrail flew forward, Ti’allin slashing outward, black fire erupting around it. Keith raised his sword, but it was turned aside, and the demon’s blow exploded against his shield. The youth cringed as he felt his energy drop. Aidrail spun around, slashing horizontally…

…only to have his blade blocked by Neil. The vagabond had thrown himself in front of the kid, sword held in both hands, flat of the blade against Ti’allin’s edge. The black fire lashed around it, burning at Neil’s arms. Neil clenched his teeth, hands pressed to his sword, holding off the demon’s mighty strike. Aidrail pulled the halberd back, gathered energy in his off-hand.

“Why do you stand together, humans?” Aidrail questioned, smiling all the while. If they kept throwing themselves aside like this, it would be all-too-easy, “You are nothing but ants before me, nothing but termites to be crushed beneath the feet of—“

He was cut off as another two bolts of lightning collided with his shoulder.

"Alright, that's IT,” Keith shouted, angered, “I don't want to be here. Really, I don't think any of us actually enjoy the prospect of fighting each other to the death- except you. You are an abombination, an insult to life!”

The technopath lunged forward, sword flaring… only to be forced to dive aside as Ti’allin swept his way. He rolled to his feet, firing several shots off with his gun. Aidrail blocked them all, casually throwing forth a shield of black flame, and threw down his arm. The shield coalesced into a sphere of darkness, and slammed itself into the ground. A shockwave of dark energy erupted through the clearing, tearing into the trees, severing branches, dissolving leaves and shrubbery, devouring life from the clearing as the power of the Codex infused into his magical strike. Neil was tossed backward, Keith nearly knocked off his feet. Aidrail advanced, Ti’allin held to the side. The halberd again sparked, black lightning surrounding it, leaping to devour the souls of the plants its blade brushed against.

“Fine then. I see you have not the time for words.”

The demon lashed forward, and Keith raised his sword to block Ti’allin, throwing his entire body weight behind the parry. His shield flickered as dark energy struck at it, leaping around the halberd’s blade, and Aidrail was forced to step back, to parry, as Neil struck at him again, the vagabond’s blade cutting close to his stomach in three successive slashes. Each one of Neil’s strikes took him closer to the demon, with each one it seemed he might actually scratch the son of Salvator. But Aidrail pulled back his left hand, balled it into a fist, and slammed it straight into the human’s gut. Winded, Neil rolled partway downhill.

Neil cringed as he got to his feet, slowly, picking up his sword. This was not good, not good! They were getting tossed around like ragdolls. He turned… only to find himself confronted by Sirria.

The mercenary held Desperatum against Neil’s throat. Neil took a tentative step back, eyes darting back and forth. The Demon still swung at Keith, the human boy knocked aside, forced to roll to his feet only to again leap to the ground to avoid another swing of the halberd. Evangeline was struggling to her feet, bloodied bandage across her stomach, a look of pain in her eyes. Jak stood, broken sword in hand, at the ready, not yet engaged in the combat. The forest fire had spread, catching to the trees closest to the clearing, smoke filling the sky. And below them, the water was rising. He found himself pressed against the cliff-edge, no room to move, nowhere his feet could find purchase!

“Sirria,” Neil said, teeth gritted, “Whatever grudge you hold against me can be settled later!”

“Actually,” Sirria said, stepping forward, sword tip approaching Neil’s throat, “Now is ideal. You will die here, by my hand, and we’ll be out of this wretched forest!”

Sirria stabbed forward, and immediately proceeded to trip. Of course… He rolled to his feet, and lashed towards Neil, who parried. They locked eyes for an instant, for the moment all thoughts of Aidrail forgotten, and began to duel. Again Neil found himself rapidly beaten back, Sirria continuing to grin wolfishly, lashing out with Desparatum, blow by blow.

…Aidrail lifted his halberd, effortlessly blocking Keith’s assault, reflecting lightning off in several directions. He let out a laugh as his opponents squabbled amongst themselves, speaking of him as if he didn’t know what they were trying. This was his chance to pick off one of the others; let those two have their duel. They would simply be easy pickings come later rounds. The longer this fight lasted, the more he’d weaken his foes. He again swung Ti’allin around, buffeted Keith aside. The human boy was easy pickings, then. He was weak, almost out of whatever energy powered his strange device. It would be he who would fall today, whilst the others weakened themselves to the point of exhaustion. Nay, he frowned, he couldn’t risk Sirria killing Neil. The vagabond was his to finish, his alone.

He again drew into the Codex. The ground cracked at his feet, shook. From below dark fire gathered in Aidrail’s off-hand, and he raised it towards Neil…

…But Jak threw himself at Aidrail, sword slashing at the demon’s neck, making contact! The demon’s eyes widened in shock, he let out a slight gasp. For a second, Sirria and Neil stopped fighting, turned to look.

“That’s the way the world works these days. Kill, or be killed,” Jak said simply. Only it wasn’t Jak, Sirria realized, exasperated, what should have been obvious after that last encounter dawning on him here.

And the sword he had slashed with was naught but a branch. And the nothing that wielded it did not understand this, for that nothing could not comprehend. Zero stood there, broken branch in the shape of half Jak’s sword held against Aidrail’s neck. It hadn’t even drawn blood. Aidrail grinned, laughed. So powerless, these humans were, against his might! Keeping the dark power in his off-hand, he slashed outward with Ti’allin, cutting a gash open across Jak’s chest. The renegade fell, bleeding, to the ground, his sword gone.

Pain.

PAIN!

Pain is death. Death is irrevocable. Stay out of the way and you won’t get hurt. ZeroJak stood, driven by its primal instincts, and fled into the forest.

Aidrail again chuckled, malevolently. Let him run. It would only prolong the inevitable. He turned back to Keith, to Neil, and to Sirria. And now, now he could enjoy one of the others…

But Neil and Sirria’s duel had already resumed in full.

“Sirria! Stop this madness!” Neil shouted as what would have been a fatal blow was conveniently turned aside when his foe had to dodge a stray blast of dark flames. Sirria scowled once again. EVERY TIME he came close, something happened. CURSE that luck. He looked over the cliffside briefly. The water had risen, inexorably, now a mere fifty yards below the precipice on which they stood. He lashed about, a sideswipe, and spun rapidly, catching Neil’s sword just by the crossguard, knocking it out of his grip.

Sirria grinned, and leveled Desparatum towards Neil’s throat again. At last, here was a situation no amount of fortune could save him from! He reared back, ready to strike, but Aidrail threw forth his arm, drawing into the Codex once more, slinging a sphere of darkness their way. He is MINE, Wolf! A burning treetop, singed with the black fire of Aidrail’s attack fell between Sirria and Neil, catching the Lycan in the side, bruising his shoulder and knocking away Desparatum. Neil grabbed his sword, lunged toward Sirria, ready to strike the finishing blow, to get them all out of here…

...And was tackled to the ground by Evangeline, his sword spiraling out of his grip, over the cliffside, into the water below! Sirria grinned. That was how he had known luck would not destroy him this day. Why luck wouldn’t kill him to allow Neil's ally to remain safe.

Because Evangeline wasn’t Neil’s ally. She was his.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zero scrambled through the forestvoid, its form shifting rapidly between the two who had also engaged in that part of the battle, between Aidrail and Keith. With each shift, the pain of the wound faded, but the frenzy and fervor with which Zero continued to flee remained. Pain is death, death is irrevocable! Get out of the way and you won’t get hurt. The nonentity absconded, stumbling only to rise to its feet and continue onward, again following the survivalist instinct that was so key to its core, again following the basic need to stay alive.

Behind it, the battle raged, the forest shaking with each of Aidrail’s powerful strikes. Above it, above Zero, the trees were beginning to catch fire, the blaze having spread during the combat. The heat, the burning death, chased Zero through the hillside, away from the combat, even as Zero’s own instincts propelled it forward.

Zero heard a branch crack ahead, and immediately shouted,

“Who’s there?”

And once again, “It’s Jak!”, the renegade responded.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Evangeline… what?!?” Neil said in shock, but he had no time for words. Evangeline grabbed a nearby rock, slamming it towards his face, only to have it crumble in her hand. Neil struggled beneath her. Bloody hell, she was strong!

He saw her stomach… the bandage was gone, the wound closed! He had been right about the healing factor: Evangeline was faking it, had been for who knows how long. He reached his arm around, punching her, hard in the side of the ribs, loosening her grip for a moment, and he rolled around, atop her, punching for her face as swiftly as he could muster.

She caught his fist, and returned the blow, clocking him on the jaw. Neil felt himself bruise up, and continued to grapple her, attempting to somehow stave off her superhuman strength. She reared back, intending to punch him on the bridge of his nose, break it… Neil raised his knee, slamming it hard into her still wounded abdomen. Evangeline cringed, released her grip and rolled over towards the side of the cliff, allowing Neil time to scramble to his feet. But no, she was already upon him, knocking him to the ground. She held her hands to his throat, tightened. He grasped for air, reaching with his arm for any object he could grab ahold of. The battle swam around him, visions of Aidrail knocking Keith about swimming in and out of focus...

His hands closed around a branch, broken off the fallen treetop. He clutched it, swung, hard, and caught her on the side of the head. Evangeline rolled off him, staggered to her feet…

…And a blast of darkness collided with her, sending her off the cliff, into the water.
Neil stood, catching his breath. It was over, the Minister would end the round any second now. He turned around, intent to survey the battlefield, and caught a brief glimpse of Keith, on one knee, propping himself up with his sword, barely conscious, of Sirria, struggling to rise. Then Aidrail’s hand closed itself around his throat.

The demon grinned, and Neil stared into the rune-engraved, anger-filled face with fear in his heart.

“Father, forgive me for allowing this heretic to walk free for so long,” Aidrail said, eyes turned to the heavens. Then he snapped back down to earth, to the heathen whose life he held in his hands, ”You, Neil, who have sullied the gods… May you face your judgment before me.”

He walked over to the cliff,

“May the gods burn damnation into your soul!”

Aidrail’s hand burned with a dark energy, radiated with a black glow. Neil cried out as his neck began to warm, to ignite…

A spark burst off the fallen treetop, catching on Aidrail’s face. The demon yelled in surprise, diverting his attention to patting out the momentary flames that erupted, scorching his skin.

And Neil pried free of Aidrail's grasp, plummeting over the cliff, into the deathwater below…

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zero had come to a halt. The nonbeing’s flight through the forest at a standstill, as it continued to oscillate from Keith, to Aidrail, to Keith, to Aidrail….

But one by one, the pieces fell into place, and this time it was Jak’s own words that fueled the change.
To avoid dying you have to be flexible.
Change in ways that keep you alive.
Change in ways that you don’t get killed. Kill is death. Death is irrevocable.
It’s Jak!
It is good to see you, Sirria, my friend!
Friend.
Friendship.
Nobody can survive on their own.

And Zero’s form shifted, not to Aidrail or Keith, but to a third form, one arising not just from observation, but from something deeper, from a connection formed between Jak, Sirria, and safety. A connection arose within Zero, something fundamentally more powerful than any it had possessed before. For the basic instincts coalesced here, following these basic phrases, and the final piece of the puzzle slid together, the next layer engraved upon the increasingly less blank slate.

If entity is Jak, Sirria is considered a friend.
If entity is Jak, Sirria is safe. Safe. Won't get hurt. Hurt is pain. Pain is death...

Sirria continued into the clearing, and Jak lowered his sword to greet his ally.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He fell for what felt like a century, and hit the surface with a resounding splash. Instantly a wave of cold crept over him, eating into his bones, just as the fatigue seeped into his mind, weighing him down, calling for him to rest, calling for him to subside.

Neil forced himself to surface, to give himself clear air to breathe. His thoughts raced as he glanced around, each paddle bringing him more and more fatigue. He had to get to shore, or…

There, floating nearby, was a log, his one hope. Lying balanced atop it was his sword. His faithful blade saved by an incredible stroke of luck. Neil swam for it, fighting against the deadly current with every ounce of strength he had left, pushing onward, striving to survive even as the power of the Minister ate into his mind, into his thoughts. He wanted to sleep… He wanted to rest, to let himself succumb, to let it all slide over him, let it consume him.

The log was a good ten, no, fifteen feet away, but it felt like a thousand, as he fought for every inch, his eyelids slowly dropping, his strength fading. He would not give in! Still he struggled onward. And his hand found purchase, his hand clasped onto a lower branch…

…Just as another hand clasped onto his leg. Neil turned around, eyes widened Evangeline!

She reached for him, pulled him off the log, her eyes feral. She wasn’t created to die here, not now! She was stronger than this, stronger than him! But even she found her strength fading, she saw his dropping faster. She could do this! She could outlast him!

Evangeline pulled Neil, pushed him down, even as he struggled to maintain his grip on the log, as he fought to remain surfaced. She was stronger than him, he realized, panicked. Somehow, even against the water, she was more powerful! Whatever it was that had given her that unnatural strength, it was going to beat him! No amount of fortune could save him now, not when he had nothing to face but her, nothing but her and the consuming, draining deathwater.

He grasped for his sword, reached for where it stuck into the log. Just a little further!

But then his strength failed him, his hand shook with effort, and he lost his grip, slipping off the log and into the depths below. The log shook and his sword began to slip, slowly, towards the edge.

Evangeline struggled for the surface, and Neil grabbed at her, pulling her down with him. No longer did he have the strength to swim. No longer did he have the will to struggle for shore. He struggled to keep his eyes open, squinting into the opaque depths. Evangeline drew her arm back, aiming for a debilitating punch, but there, in the depths of the water, sinking slowly downward, it came forth feeble, and she too, now, was out of strength.

All around them the world rose, as they fell into the depths, pulling against each other, struggling… And at last, they lost their grip. Neil, in one final effort, pushed himself away from Evangeline, his breath at its limit, his strength gone, just in time to see a glint of steel pass before him… his sword, having fallen from the log, drifting slowly downward. He reached for it, closed his hand around it, just as he closed his eyes, waiting for the cool embrace to take him, praying the Minister would find him first…

…And from the deep, something unknown, something hideous, monstrous, rose to claim his foe. A tentacle wrapped around her leg, pulling her down... down... Evangeline screamed, water rushing into her lungs, burning, looked to the unseen depths below but saw nothing of the monster that now held her, nothing but darkness, and the flash of teeth as they closed around her arm. With a savage wretch it was torn free, and her blood filled the water. Her leg, next, torn loose by vicious knives…

She looked to the surface, knowing this was the end, water burning at her insides, her body bleeding out, her mind shutting down. The sun’s radiance filtered through the darkness of the rising water, touched her eyes one final time.

And then the light was cut off, forever. Her vision was filled by a gaping, red maw. There was one final jab, one last spike of pain, and the world ended.



Last edited by Quaetam on Mon May 28, 2012 1:38 pm; edited 11 times in total

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Quaetam on Wed May 23, 2012 7:48 am

Spoiler:
There are two scenes that I didn't put in this simply due to how long it was getting and how high-demand me posting it was, not to mention my own time constraints. The first detailed Heart and Keith fighting the Terrabeing and getting split up, forced to flee. The second would have been a conversation between Heart and Zelgius later concerning alliances and Aidrail. At the moment, operate as if the later conversation didn't happen, but the fight did (as right now it's an offscreen fight; Keith and Zelgius breifly describe what happened there). If I get up later today and have the energy I'll edit in the Heart-Zelgius conversation and PM you Raya, Av. Hope you all enjoy this :3

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Vivienne Vex on Wed May 23, 2012 10:47 am

Spoiler:
Just BARELY had enough time to read all of it. Bloody Brilliant Kyle~ You are now free from slaver-...Uhh, paying work.... Very Happy

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  SuicideAngel on Wed May 23, 2012 2:08 pm

Spoiler:
And that was how Q won the game in round 2


Last edited by SuicideAngel on Wed May 23, 2012 4:48 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Quote tags to Spoiler tags)

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TD260 on Wed May 23, 2012 2:52 pm

Spoiler:
The purpose of the entire game is to write Zero into an entity. The rest of it is collatoral damage.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TheTJ on Wed May 23, 2012 3:39 pm

Spoiler:
Oh nooooo! Evangeline!

Amaaaazing post Q! I'll have to up the ante if I want to match it at all. You had the benefit of writing for everyone though.

Any idea when Weldar will be able to set up the next round?

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Doctor Shulk on Wed May 23, 2012 5:32 pm

Spoiler:
I never really was on your side...

All hail Q. Can we start petitioning for him to become Ruler Of The Universe yet?

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Quaetam on Fri May 25, 2012 4:52 pm

Spoiler:
ALRIGHT! The deleted scenes have been added. I still have a few more parts to add but they're not as important as the convo I just put in. I'm going to be away until Sunday, Weldar feel free to start the round whenever, though I also would ask that you guys don't use Zero yet since I prefer input into his actions given the kind of character he is. On that note, if you could wait about 24 hours from now I'd definitely appreciate it just so things don't get going too quickly while I'm gone Razz .

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Weldar on Fri May 25, 2012 6:55 pm

As Neil went crashing into the water the Minister stood up with a clap. Well it would appear things here are finally drawing to a close, feels as if that one dragged on forever didn't it?" Indeed around the void many of the others present seemed to have begun losing interest in the occurings and were growing restless. Most however had had their interests rekindled by the recent fights. Two figures in particular, one male one female, watching the struggle that had just now broken out between the drowning Neil and Evangeline intently. They watched the beast approach, breath held in their throats, this was it. As the beat wrapped it's tentacle around Evangeline the man broke out into a smile, barely suppressing while the woman instead let out a muttered curse. Still all hope was not yet lost, the other one had to begin sinking soon too, hers could definitely hold her breath longer, the round shift would be coming soon, the survivor would be refreshed and any serious wounds sustained from the beast healed, if she held the thing off for long enough then just maybe. Her heart sank as the beast tore of Evangeline's arm, such a wound could be dealt with by the round shift but there was no hope of outlasting Neil now, it was over, she had lost. The man next to her turned to her grin plastered on his face "Bad luck Christabel". The woman stood up in a huff, The Minister already moving to address her.
"My dearest apologies Miss Karma, but it would that the time for you to leave has come. Feel free to return later if you hold any interest in the results of this little game."
As she stormed off out the Minister moved in the other direction, going to join the contestants in that now familiar void between arenas.

Unnatural as it was the void was a strangely calming place, on that seemed to wash all fatigue away. Slowly the green figure of the Minister came into view amidst the deep purple swirl. He said not a word as the void around him and the contestants was replaced with the deep endless void of space for just the briefest of seconds. And then just as suddenly the contestants found themselves entombed in metal, each in their own unique room surrounded by obstacles of some variety.
"Welcome" said the now out of sight Minister "to the Battle Complex. This facility was once used for a game of sorts, much like the one we will be playing here today, not quite so deadly but far more violent. It served to train to young for war, to prepare for the deaths of millions, our game only demands a single life here. Both games have one thing in common though, only the fittest will make it through, enjoy." And with that he was gone, the void free the contests from it's grip dropping them into the arena, most were surprised to find however that the ground did not rush to meet them this time instead being left in the floating zero gravity of space.

Spoiler:

And we come to our first (and currently only) round based on a player suggestion. This round's idea comes from TJ who as far as I recall was the only person to give one. He had suggested the Battleroom from Ender's Game. After being prompted to Read Ender's Game by this suggestion then later deciding just the battleroom was a bit too plain here we are. A space station full of (mostly deadly) zero gravity obstacle courses (though it doesn't all have to be zero gravity if you want). You all begin in the obstacle courses but feel free to explore other parts of the station: Living quarters, control rooms, whatever else you think you might find in an abandoned military training facility, in space!

_________________

I'm not a Vacuum!
[quote="Quaetman"]
There was a flash of lightning, and the figure’s visage was illuminated for a moment, a single, terrifying moment, a revelation that seemed to stop the world dead.

“Checkmate,” said Weldar, and fired his bullet into JGH27’s heart.
[/quote][quote="King Avalanche"] I doubt any of our craniums will come out of this game a virgin cause Weldar is gonna fuck them all.[/quote]

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Vivienne Vex on Fri May 25, 2012 7:05 pm

Spoiler:
Very Happy I will be posting tomorrow and I got big plans for this round as being in a high tech area is going to make Terra an even bigger threat than before~ This could not actually be timed any better as the group for killing Terra was created only at the end of the round.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TD260 on Fri May 25, 2012 7:34 pm

This all seems somehow... familiar... As if I've heard it in a story, a world away, in another life...[i]

Keith found himself in what seemed to be a room of metal. He looked around- there was signs of rust and damage about the place. The entire room had an air of neglect about it. As if it had once been used for a great and mighty purpose, then, once that purpose fulfilled, had been cast aside, like trash. Keith turned towards the wall behind him, and stared out into a vast blackness. A blackness, lit with only a few glimmers of light. It too, looked old and neglected. A universe on it's way out, with only a few dying stars left to light it's way.

[i]Much like this damn game... So much darkness around us, and so little light... as every moment passes, that light grows dimmer... Friends die, allies turn... How the hell are we supposed to survive this...?


Keith shook his head.

No. No, that's a problem for another time. For now, the problem is simply to eliminate those that will not work towards the safety of all. Then, we shall see what we can do about the Minister.

Keith's head bumped against the ceiling.

Right... space... gravity...

He reached down towards his boots, and flicked a small switch on them. The bottoms glowed with a faint blue light, and he moved towards the floor, attracted to it by magnetism.

Alright... first order of business is to see if there's anything here I can use. I'm topped off by that damn minister, so I shouldn't waste it. There's no rest for the wicked, so I can't let them get ahead of me.

Keith wandered out into the hallway, exploring his surroundings, blade gripped tightly in his hand.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TD260 on Fri May 25, 2012 7:36 pm

Hekatommy Riagon wrote:
Spoiler:
Very Happy I will be posting tomorrow and I got big plans for this round as being in a high tech area is going to make Terra an even bigger threat than before~ This could not actually be timed any better as the group for killing Terra was created only at the end of the round.

Spoiler:
Attack and receive, my friend. Keith is a technopath, and has mental control over technology. This is as big of his playground as it is yours. Tread carefully.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Vivienne Vex on Fri May 25, 2012 7:37 pm

Spoiler:
I know, we HAVE to have a huge battle this round TD~ If not I will be disappointed in both of us.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Avalanche on Sat May 26, 2012 5:57 am

The void again. It agitated Zelgius every time he was send there. Everything about it feld unnatural, and the invisible voices reminded him of the humans who made him. Were they in his reach he would claw their throats out and peck at their eyeballs. It would be out of spite, for having been unable to physically harm the scientists, but it would definatly be satisfying.

A new enviroment. Unwelcomming, cold metal. Despite having lost his own legs years ago, the sensation of his metal feet scratching against the smooth and cold metal surface was a uneasy one. He observed the hallway in front of him. Spiked metal balls were moving around rappidly in seemingly unpredictable patterns, blocking his path ahead.
'Finding a weak minded human would be ideal' Zelgius thought to himself, remembering the panicky one from the caves. The one who wants to work together. Zelgius was disgusted with such blatant insincerity, only humans and demons like Aidrail were capable off. Oh how he was hoping on a situation wherein they would bite each other's throats of.
Zelgius leapt on one of the metal balls, his own cyborg legs unscathed by the potential damage, and carefully guided himself trough the hallway, steering with his telepathy.
He decided to make a mental note of this place. Perhaps he would lure one of the humans in. Combined with his telepathy this hallway would serve as a proper death trap.

He searched for people's heath signatures, but aside from Heart's (who seemed to be getting exited for some reason) the walls were to thick and cold to show any. Zelgius gave a squak of frustration and opened a sealed off door, stepping inside a large open room.

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  TheTJ on Sun May 27, 2012 8:40 am

Neil felt like death warmed over, which when you think about it wasn't too far from the truth. He gave an experimental cough and lungs that had been recently filled with death-water were now working perfectly. Neil shivered, not wanting to think of the implications of that too much.

"Okay... First thing's first, where exactly am I?" Neil looked around the room he was in. It was small, about 20 square feet with a low ceiling. Everything was made of this off-white metal stuff Neil didn't recognize, except for the lights and the door before him.

Neil wouldn't have known it was a door if it wasn't the only apparent way out. There didn't appear to be any doorknob or keypad to open it. Puzzled, Neil went closer to try to find a hidden panel or something. When he got close enough the door hissed open, startling Neil. He quickly regained his composure and looked around embarrased. It didn't look like anyone had seen. Except for the Minister... HE must be watching us. Neil thought grimly.

Now how on Earth was he going to get around this? He needed a way to talk to people without the Minister listening in, but HOW? There was no way to be certain he couldn't hear every whisper said or note given or - Wait a minute... I wonder if he can hear our thoughts?... That Psi-ostrich! Yeah, he spoke only in thoughts, didn't he? If they were ever going to pull a fast one on the Minister, they'd need his help. But wait... couldn't the Minister hear him whenever he "Spoke"?... Neil wracked his brain trying to remember, but he couldn't. Oh well, even if he could, our thoughts ought to be safe. If we can get that Ostrich Fella to cooperate we've at least got a starting point.

The idea had it's merit, there must be SOME way to hide their plans. If they didn't this whole thing might well be fruitless but... Well, Neil didn't want to dwell on that either. Better to assume the Minister fallible. That was better than just giving up on the spot. Nodding to himself, Neil left the small room and entered a long hallway.

Neil looked around the hallway, it seemed to go on quite some distance in both directions, the walls curving inward until they went around a corner. Presumably they went around the entire station. There were probably more hallways like this one above and below him too. There was only other door that Neil could see though, besides the one he had just exited. There was a sign sunken into the wall next to the door that read "Antigravity chamber 034". Neil paused thoughtfully before deciding to go in.

The door hissed open before him as he approached. Beyond the door was a large mostly featureless room, save some raised platforms jutting out from the floors, walls, and ceiling. well, that and one Robo-Ostrich standing on the other side of the room, an identical door behind him. Zelgiun... No... Zelgius! Yeah that's it. Just the bird I wanted to talk to! Neil walked forward to greet Zelgius when the bird shot a contemptuous thought into Neil's mind.

Oh, it's the coward human. Let me guess, "Let's not fight, we can work togther"? Pah! Zelgius' feathers quivered with irritation. You're worst than most of the humans. At least THEY fight, at least THEY don't lie about their motivations.

"You think I'm a coward?" Neil said, failing to keep the anger out of his heated words. "I'm the only one brave enough to even consider taking on the Minister. The rest of you seem content to just hope to be the last one standing."

I do more than just hope to win. I work at it!

At this, Zelgius shot a psychic barb of pain into Neil's mind. The kid staggered under the mental pressure, his mind screaming in silent agony. Zelgius drew closer confident this round would end quickly.

"Can.... Can you read.... my thoughts?...." Neil managed to gasp out, falling down to his hands and knees.

Of course I can, I'm a psychic! came the scornful reply.

"Th- then... read it... now." Neil struggled to say. The words were getting harder and harder to say. Hopefully thinking them would be easier.

Neil fought to get his mind in order. Zelgius, I... Ngh!... I think this is... the only way to... speak with... Ah!... without the Minister knowing... If we're going... to trick him we'll... need you... Als-Also... I'm sorry for this.

Sorry for wha-


"DEACTIVATE GRAVITY!" Neil shrieked through the pain. Suddenly the two of them were floating lazily through the air. Zelgius, caught off guard, temporarily slackened the grip he had on Neil, giving an undignified squak as his metallic claws left the floor. Neil wasted no time in hopping up and pushed off the wall behind him to propel himself past Zelgius.

Zelgius glared at Neil furiously and gave a might kick as he floated by. This caused the both of them to fly off in opposite directions, each heading towards the door the other had entered through. Zelgius nodded to himself smugly, he knew what awaited Neil through the hallway. He then turned to face the doorway he was fast approaching to face any challenge that might be through there.

Neil meanwhile, was far too busy being relieved that had worked to notice that the hallway he was about to enter was less than safe. It wasn't until he was through the doorway and floating by swiftly out of the reach of any surface that he noticed he was headed directly towards a large ball covered in mean looking spikes. Panicking, Neil reached to push off a wall and found they were too far away. Thinking quickly, he grabbed the sword at his side and used it to push against the wall to his left.

He moved sharply towards the right wall and as he was passing the ball moved too. With quick reflxes Neil raised the sword to block put was pushed sharply towards the wall. He hit painfully and rebounded into the middle, where the most spike-balls seemed to be. It looked as though they were all moving about with sharp, jerky motions. Likely to catch you off guard and hit you with enough force to impale.

Sheathing his sword, Neil grabbed a nearby spike, and being careful not to pierce his foot, stood on the side of it aiming himself at the far door. Waiting for the path to clear a little, Neil was caught off guard when the spike-ball he was holding on to moved sharply in the direction he was headed and he lost his grip. He was already past most of the hallway before he'd even realized what had happened.

Amazingly, he passed most of the room untouched. After a few tense moments he had a clear shot to the door! That's when one ball, the last one between him and relative safety, quickly placed itself firmly between him and the exit. Neil had no time to pull out his sword this time. Hoping it wasn't too late he yelled out "ACTIVATE GRAVITY!"

For half a second he was afraid it hadn't worked and he'd hit the spike-ball with full force, but at the last instant the gravity kicked back in and Neil fell to the floor at an angle, carried forward by his momentum. He hit the ground hard, the wind being knocked out of him and he slid through the door and into the hallway beyond. This hallway was similar to the one he'd been in earlier, but with a wider curve, so he must be nearer the edge of the station. Most of the stuff he wanted we probably in the center, but he didn't want to run into Zelgius again quite yet, maybe let him cool off firts.

He picked himself up, dusted himself off (There was no dust, this Battle Complex was kept in immaculate order) and went off in search of... something. Maybe if I found that PA system... Or maybe Jak, yes he seemed receptive to the teaming up idea... Hrmm.... Deep in thought, Neil walked the hallways, trying to figure out his next move.


Last edited by TheTJ on Mon May 28, 2012 10:42 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added sign. But I don't like it.)

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  Raya on Sun May 27, 2012 2:09 pm

When the sickening lurch of moving through time, space and dimensions finally ceased Heart opened his eyes and saw…nothing. He was standing somewhere pitch black. There was no light, no sound, and beneath his bare feet he could feel a cold metal floor. No matter. He held up his hand and conjured a fireball, illuminating his location.

He was in a small room. It looked like some kind of compact holding pen, where the occupants would wait before proceeding somewhere else. Benches lined the sides, aging equipment cramming the walls. Boxes of old paperwork were stacked high and the air was thick and stale with dust. On the ceiling was a fluorescent light, broken and hanging loose, the obvious cause of the darkness.

He was trapped in a small room.

Heart’s claustrophobia suddenly welled up as he realised he was locked in a small metal room. The walls started to pulsate and close in, the air clogged his throat, the shadows from his fire causing the items in the room to warp and flicker as though alive and lunging towards him. He rapidly backed up, bumping into suits of body armour hanging from hooks which promptly fell on top of him. He yelped in surprise, lashing out and setting one ablaze, knocking it into a box of paperwork which quickly caught fire. Smoke rapidly filing the room he stumbled away, this time hitting the door and falling through. Lying on his back he saw the door slowly swing shut and lock itself. It sealed perfectly into the wall, as though it had never been there at all.

He rolled over and picked himself up. He appeared to have emerged into a corridor, of which he was now standing in a dead end. It was wider than the room he had been in and more brightly lit, but it still made him feel uncomfortable. Ceilings were unnatural and unnerving.

One side of the hallway was a large window, making up the entirety of the wall. Beyond he could see the vast gulf of space, the blackness reaching out into infinity, countless millions of stars sparkling in its depths. Heart’s fear subsided, knowing that merely a foot away was wide open space and freedom. He hit his fist against the window and the dull thump that answered told him it was futile to try and break the glass. It was far too thick. But perhaps there was a door, or a weakness in a wall he could break down instead. Heart had no concept of the vacuum of space, nor understanding of what would occur if he breached the barrier between the station and the void. To him the outside was the same as the inside and he had no reason to suspect otherwise.

He needed a plan. The fact that they had changed locations showed that one of their number had fallen. He was certain it was not the Terrabeing, or Missingno as he thought it, and he doubted Aidrail had fallen so soon. Who had it been then? Zelgius or one of the humans?

He had to find the humans. They were the only ones he could use to destroy the Abomination. If they were whittled down one by one they wouldn’t be strong enough. He had to find them, unite them and, if needs be, protect them. The thought revolted him, having to play guardian to those unworthy creatures, but there was no other way. He had to use them to defeat the virus before it came for him.

Seeing as there was no other direction to go in he strolled down the corridor. The white walls in places were pockmarked with burns. Bits of technology, which to humans would look like security cameras but to him meant nothing, hung from the ceiling at intervals. Occasionally from underneath the floor there came a whirring noise as though some mechanism was struggling to work but failing. He ignored it and carried on. He wondered who he’d come across first. Perhaps Neil. That would be the most beneficial, yes. And once-

One of the cameras finally moved up ahead, turning and pointing straight at him. He cocked his head in puzzlement. A red light flicked on, the dot appearing on this shoulder. Huh, strange, what on earth coul-

The camera suddenly shot out a laser, the beam burning straight through his shoulder and out the other side. He screeched and staggered back, clutching the smoking wound. The camera moved in his direction, another red light appearing and he quickly reacted, rolling out the way and throwing a fireball, the camera exploding in a shower of sparks and wires. Breathing heavily he stood, looking at his injury. It was clean, the laser having cauterised the flesh as it passed through. It was not threatening and his natural regeneration would quickly take care of it. So, this place had defences. He moved forward and a section of the floor opened, a turret emerging and a red light flicking on. He never gave it the chance to fire, incinerating it in an instance before it could shoot him. So, this was what the Minister meant by training the young for war. These machines would shoot at him as he progressed. No matter. His hands burst into flames and he strode forward. Just let them try to strike him again. He was on a mission and would not be stopped.

Find the humans. Unite the humans. Kill the Terrabeing.

Spoiler:
Putting a claustrophobic with fire powers and no concept of a vacuum in an enclosed environment in the depths of space. This will end well!

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

Post  SuicideAngel on Mon May 28, 2012 2:42 am

Spoiler:
First off, I need a better description of this place than techno training ground in space. I've never read Ender's Game, never will. This is NOT an opportunity to recommend the book. I'm left at a huge disadvantage because I don't know the source material, and thus can't interact with the environment I find myself in, even in as fundamental a way as DESCRIBING it. That being said, if "techno training ground in space" is all I get after a day, I'm going to be making stuff up that fans of the source material may not like.

Second off, unless I missed a bunch of exposition, Neil just happened to know exactly how to work the place's gravity generators, despite being flummoxed by an automated door not 30 minutes beforehand? Probably Nothing to be done about it now I'd think, but I call foul play =/

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Re: The Grand Brawl - Round 3: The Battle Complex

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