The Phenomenal Fracas (GBS2G6) [Round Five: The Ambitus Phenomenon]

The Phenomenal Fracas (GBS2G6) [Round Five: The Ambitus Phenomenon]
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by Anomaly.

Growing increasingly impatient and all the more agitated, Syvex paced back and forth through the hallway before eventually deciding on slumping in the ornate couch placed across from the lift entrance. On multiple occasions a passenger or two walked down the hall, stopping and quickly turning back upon seeing a giant, disgruntled shadow snake glaring at them despite a lack of eyes. To them he was simply an abomination, a Thing that Should Not Be, which they would sooner kill than try to reason with, had they the capability. No different than back on Earth. Most humans would shy away from him, usually in fear. And to top it all off, the one human who had come closest to accepting him was now possibly going insane from a chunk of an eldritch abomination lodged in her abdomen. He could only hope that the ship's doctors actually knew what they were doing, that they could keep Eureka from dying.

After a while, Syvex heard a familiar click.

"Security. Don't move."

Syvex "glanced" in the team's direction. Not an entirely purposeful action from a biological view, but an imitation of human body language in a mostly pointless attempt to be less alien to them.

"Yeah, I know. You want me to go with you, whatever, let's go."

The two security guards behind the head of the team briefly exchanged odd looks before refocusing on the serpent. Generally one would expect a huge, probably dangerous alien to put up more resistance than the bitter agreement Syvex had given.

"...Come with us, and don't try anything funny if you value your life."

"I already said I was going. You probably couldn't even kill me if you tried, anyway."

The two guards nervously followed behind the leader, Syvex between them. Begrudgingly, Syvex slunk into another lift, leaving little floorspace for the security team to step inside. The lift quickly descended, grinding to a halt in well under a minute. After transversing yet another bland, gray corridor, one less illiterate would have seen a large sign proclaiming "MAIN SECURITY" over a large door. Still warily training their guns on the serpent, the guards shoved Syvex through the door.

"This is that... thing, Mr. Gallagher, sir. Doesn't seem to be hostile right now, but we're exercising caution. Did you want to interrogate it?"

The large, intimidating man at the desk glanced up from his work, coming eye-to-lack-of-eye with Syvex. "I'm... busy right now. You go ahead and interrogate him. I need to deal with the other problems, including the rising bodycount by some intruder we haven't found yet. Surprisingly, the giant snake isn't the most of our worries."


- - - - - - - - - -
Security chief Matthew Gallagher watched the guards lead the creature out of his office, waiting expectantly for the door to close. As soon as he was alone again, Mr. Gallagher turned back to his computer console and immediately closed the feed of security reports, making a note to lock the door at maximum security clearance. One encryption key later, a lengthy text document appeared onscreen, listing a multitude of names and scores of other information. A few minutes later, Matthew Gallagher opened an encrypted communications channel, accessible only by him and a select few.

"This is Matthew Gallagher. Operation begins in T-minus 35 minutes. All units, report statuses. Montgomery, are you in position?"

"Moving to position now. Security station on the bridge is unoccupied, I'll head for it immediately. Prepared to drop all security at a moment's notice."

"Excellent. Montblanc, what's your status?"

"Hiding near the main reactor core. Ready to deactivate all propulsion at zero hour. The ship'll be dead in the water."

"Good, good. Jones, are you prepared?"

"Waiting in weapons storage, deck -2. I'll distribute the weapons as necessary once the plan is initiated."

"Good."

Gallagher checked in with the rest of the infiltrators aboard the Thunderhead, all but a few reporting that they were either ready or close to. 30 minutes remained until they put their grand plan in motion, looting the most prestigious ship in the Empire's fleet for all it was worth. A heist unmatched in all of history, masterminded by the ship's own security officer. It was the perfect setup, and nothing could interfere with his plans now.


- - - - - - - - - -
"You going to ask questions, or what?"

Security officer Faust seated himself across the table from Syvex, trying his best to act professional even in the presence of such a creature.

"Yes, let's begin. First. What are you, and where did you come from?"

"Well, I was created by In-"

Syvex caught himself. Wouldn't be a good idea to tell them where he really came from, especially after the bluff Eureka started. Going along with it seemed like the best option at this point. He cleared his throat for effect.

"I was created by Enderson. John Enderson, actually. He's the girl's father. I was brought here with them, so I'm not sure how I wasn't noticed before. Name's Syvex."

"I find that hard to believe, 'Syvex'. I find no record of a John Enderson aboard this vessel."

"Are you sure? Maybe your database is wrong for some reason."

"Even if the database was wrong, I don't see any possible way you could've gotten onboard the ship without anyone noticing."

"We were some of the first to board. Not many people around, they must've just missed us. I stayed hidden for most of the trip, but... I had to go after Mr. Enderson's daughter. She has this medical condition, you see..."

"You're not a very good liar, 'Syvex'. Just to get onto the Thunderhead you'd need to pass through security, and there's no word of a massive shadow snake having come through. I know you're lying. How did you get here, and what are you?"

"Fine. You want to know? It's no more believable. Six of us were dropped here by some sort of mask-wearing god as part of a battle to the death. Finch is also one of us. You shouldn't be worrying about me. Your biggest problem is either a cultist or a guy with a hat."

"...A god, and a battle to the death. Really. Although your descriptions do sort of fit the reports of other intruders we've received. For all I know, though, you're just bluffing and they're in league with you."

"Me, in a league with Sandman? You're kidding, right? Maybe you're not. I don't know." Syvex took a sip from the "wine" bottle.

"What's in that bottle?"

"Oh, this? Nothing that'd interest you. Although drinking it would probably kill you instantly. Look, I don't want trouble. I just want to know that Finch is safe, okay? I'll stay out of everyone's way if you can just assure me that."

"You're trying to evade the questions I've been asking. How did you get here, and what are you?"

"I've already explained this. I guess I won't be getting any cooperation here after all. Bye."

"You're not leaving." Faust drew his gun again.

"Shoot me, then. I'm out of here." Syvex pushed the table aside and slithered toward the door.

"I'll shoot!"

"I know. Do it."

A shot rang out. Purple blood oozed from a small wound in the serpent's side, dripping slowly onto the floor. Syvex turned back and began approaching Faust. Faust shot again, and again. His serious demeanor disintegrated as the bullets did nothing to impede Syvex's progress. Syvex grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him in the air.

"You can't stop me. Don't try."

Syvex dropped Faust on the ground, then blew up every light in the room in sequence. He then made a quick portal-escape out of the room, and headed down the hall in the general direction of the infirmary according to his map. His first priority was making sure the doctors were doing their job properly, and not doing more harm than good. However, before reaching his destination, he would instead run into a very bewildered scientist, one who had wandered quite a ways after an odd encounter with a very surprised officer.

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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by granolaman.

Chief Medical Officer Mickey Marrow had been dreading this day. No space voyage ever went off without a hitch. There was always some sort of medical disaster, and the longer it took to happen, the worse it was going to be. And now, a mere 102 minutes out of port, and still no sign of trouble, the sense of grim anticipation around Mickey’s head was nearly overwhelming. Still, maybe this trip was different, maybe for once in his long life everything would go exactly as planned. After all, they’d been on this trip for weeks and nothing’s happened yet, what trouble could brew in the next two hours?

Mickey was just lighting his victory cigarette when a panting guard burst into the infirmary with a blanket-wrapped girl in his arms.

“Doctor Marrow!” the guard gasped out setting her on a nearby table, “She just started screaming and then collapsed on the floor sir!” He bent down to catch his breath and when he looked back up the doctor was already unwrapping her.

The girl was curled into a fetal position and shivering wildly. Under her breath, words like stupid, lightning, and Non-Euclidean stood out in a never-ending slew of mutterings. This girl was quite mad. Mickey reached for his Anesthe-stick, “All right now go over the story slowly,” he said to the guard, “every detail you can recall will be useful.” He passed the anesthe-stick over the girl’s head and saw her muscles relax, her murmuring stop. Able to continue, he laid her out on the table.

Feeling relieved that the girl wasn’t screaming or muttering or choking on scarves anymore, the guard continued, “No papers, as far as I can tell. She was wandering around Deck 45 near the chasm with her giant pet snake thing.”

Mickey felt her forehead and frowned. No signs of fever, what could be ailing her? He began peeling off her sweater when he felt the damp spot around her stomach. A bead of sweat trickled down his face as he slowly uncovered the tentacle segment lodged in her abdomen. His frown deepened. “You say she was wandering around? As in walking?”

“Aye sir, right up till she keeled over.” The guard peered over Mickey’s shoulder at the girl and went pale. “Cripes, is she gonna be all right?”

Mickey noted the drying blood around the wound. “If she’s been able to walk with this thing in her, then it can’t be too bad.” He felt the area around the wound with a soft analyzing hand. “There may have been internal bleeding, but for some reason it’s stopped. I think Ms. Jane Doe here will pull through.”

“Oh, her name is Eureka sir.”

“I thought you said she didn’t have any papers.”

“She doesn’t, I heard the giant snake say it.”

“…”Mickey paused and turned to face the guard. “Are you feeling alright Officer?”

“Dalton sir, and I’m well enough doc.”

“And how long have you been hearing giant snakes?”

“Hey she’s the crazy one, not me!”

Mickey turned back to Eureka and examined the tentacle again. “Just as well, consider seeing the ship’s therapist and taking a few day’s leave when we land. Too much time in the black wears on all our sanities.” He poked at the foreign object, “If we get Ms. ‘Eureka’ here over to surgery, we should be able to pull whatever this is ou-“

The doctor was cut short by the sudden liveliness of the girl’s clothes. Pieces of what he guessed might have once been a fancy suit leapt from the table and wrapped themselves around the wound and tightened. An anguished scream escaped Eureka’s mouth as she jerked violently upright. The medical sheet and blanket beneath her tore into pieces and flew into the air, spinning wildly and preventing anyone from getting close to her. “Noooo! Go away go away go away!”

Mickey backed away slowly, remaining as calm as possible as he reached for the anasthe-stick. Dalton, on the other hand, was already yelling frantically into his comm. device, “Lock down the infirmary! Send back-up! We’ve some kind of crazy hostile shit here!” He was reaching for his gun when a strap of cloth reached out and knocked him across the room.

Mickey was less than comfortable being trapped in here with this tempest. He took refuge behind a counter and spoke softly and calmly. “Easy there lady, there are armed guards on their way, we don’t want them to accidentally shoot you now.” A chair went flying in his direction. “Goddamit woman, would you calm down already?!” The table came flying at him this time. This calming tactic wasn’t working.

The sound of muffled gunfire came from near the infirmary door. What the hell could they be shooting at? Mickey thought, the damn threat is in here! The muted yells from the people outside stopped short with a loud crash as something hit the door. For a moment, there was nothing, but the angry muttering of the girl filling the air.

“Go away go away go away go away”

The door exploded open in a cloud of dust as a man in a large coat and hat stepped through. He looked into the room before his eyes fell on the girl in the middle of it. He started towards her.

“Go away! Go away! Why can’t you all just leave me alone!” she screamed again as she launched a flurry of sharp strips of cloth at his face. The man batted the attack aside with ease and continued forward. In his hand a clump of sand gathered and formed a sphere.

“You’re coming with me, witch.” The ball of sand launched from his hand with a surge of speed and clocked the girl in the head. She crumpled to the ground in a pile, out cold. The man closed the distance, bent down and hoisted her over his shoulder. The man turned towards the door. “All right, where to next?”

Mickey looked around to see who he was talking to. Nobody else seemed to be in the room. Nevertheless, the man nodded and walked out of the room, the sand on the floor climbing into his coat as he went. After a moment to make sure he was gone, Mickey crawled out from behind his hiding spot and made his way to the infirmary door. That sense of dread came back as he smelled the blood in the hallway. Behind him, Officer Dalton groaned in pain as he came to.

97 minutes till port. It was going to be a bad day.

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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

Reserve

Actually you know what no

This is not a reserve

This is a formal complaint

I am sick and tired of Wojjan swooping in, not talking to anyone, not taking anyone's plans into account, and hijacking the entire thread of the narrative. At least four people had overarching plans they wanted to implement and have said as much, but this latest post once again means most of us will have to completely rewrite what we're going to do and work on. This is supposed to be a collaborative story, not the Pay Attention to Riko Hour and not the Wojjan and Friends Show. We've had to read these overlong walls of rewriting-the-story text once too often and I am through with it. This is so. Disrespectful. To every other participant in this battle. The only time you found time to even come talk to us was just to tell us that you were doing something big and long and get defensive when we asked you to work with us; you didn't even have the decency to say "Hey, this is my plan" or ask "Is it okay if I...". You just once again had to run the whole show yourself. And I'm done with it!

There's some precedent for posts being declared non-canon or the author being asked to change their post, and I move to see that happen again. You have absolutely trashed everything MrGuy and I were working towards (at the very least) and completely changed the battlefield without even word one to the rest of us. It is, quite frankly, unacceptable, and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. This post could be worded a lot more politely, I'm sure, but the disrespect you've shown the rest of us rather precludes that. Not to mention the fact that honestly, I am rather angry right now. Like, borderline-furious. At the moment, I'm asking you to change the post such that the "evacuation" doesn't happen (and to do the rest of us the courtesy of keeping us in the loop for once), because I don't want to start some kind of ridiculous referendum, but I will fight if I have to. Because, frankly, this is bullcrap.
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

Well, Slorange, you have a very good point in that my posts haven't exactly paid too much notice to others' plans, and I apologise for that. Let it be known though, I did it unintentionally. If I had known you or MrGuy were planning anything significant for this round, I would definitely have taken it into account, but seeing as things have been pretty tumultuous with real life issues here and there on my part, I can't really be on IRC as much anymore, and your plans probably slipped under the radar or something. I had no idea I'm putting down such an obstructing post, since from the last few lines of MrGuy's post I kind of assumed he was expecting me to write the evactuation soon. I have already received note of some of Anomaly's points of notice, and I'll have to rewrite some parts regardless eventually.

But I don't think that such a theatric speech was necessary. All I did was write a post, and it changed things around for a lot of people. I didn't know of any other plans, simply because I wasn't around when you discussed them. That's simply a matter of not having communicated, and far from disrespect towards any of the other players. While it's true I didn't tell anyone what I was planning to, the same goes for you and MrGuy. If you had any plans I wasn't to mess around with, my reserve has been there for about a wekk, and you had well enough time to contact me over the forums to tell me "Hey, could you watch out for this though?" I understand your anger and while I definitely feel you have a point, you are making quite a big deal about this when it shouldn't have been. If you had such grand plans, and knew that I was going to be writing an eventful post, why didn't you or MrGuy notify me? In a way you made the same mistake as I did, not telling anyone what you were planning on.

In the long run, this is all in good fun, and I'll surely try my best to keep it as such, even with me not being able to check with the rest of you as often. Please don't let this be a big deal, I'm well capable of adjusting the post to whatever it is you're planning on. Please let me know yours and MrGuy's ideas via PM, I'll rewrite the post as fast as I can, keeping in mind what you were trying to accomplish.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

Your entire defensive post seems to be based on the idea that we didn't make our plans clear in-thread and you don't have time for IRC. That would be fine as far as it goes (we can't all spend every day on IRC, real life happens), were it not for the fact that our plans were obvious to even the most cursory read of the thread; Muriegro is in the process of galvanizing the proletariat, the security chief is working towards an exciting heist, and so on and so on. Right there in black and white grey and orange.

For that matter, we had no way of knowing your post was going to be "eventful" or in fact change the entire tone or progression of the battle. Just because you had a lengthy reserve doesn't mean a thing; all of us, yourself included and perhaps especially, take a long time to write anything, eventful or not. It could even have meant you had forgotten or given up. We can't read your mind, and you gave no indication that anything big was coming. As has always been the case, the burden to check on whether their event is going to step on someone else's toes is on the writer making the game-changing post, not the other people; you can't expect us to PM someone every time they're about to post and remind them of our plans. You have to be mindful of what other people are doing, especially if it has been intimated or explicitly stated in the thread.

Frankly, the reason for the "dramatic" post isn't because of this one particularly-egregious event; it's because of the fact that it's become painfully obvious over the course of this entire battle that you pay very little attention to what other writers want to do or what other characters are doing, and I said as much to Whoosh! in last round's elimination advice PM. It's because of the fact that you don't treat this like a collaborative game or contest, but an outlet for you to write about your character and the rest of us to just deal with it and write around you. THAT is the disrespect I'm talking about, not one isolated incident or post. A recurring pattern of working poorly with others and ignoring everyone else's wants and plans.

Frankly, I'm not going to sit here and let you accuse me of theatrics or paint me as petulant or unreasonable. This is far from the first time other writers have been frustrated by your inability to, and you can't play injured innocence as though you've been doing your best to get along with everyone this whole time. If you can't even be bothered to read everyone else's posts, you can't hide behind "this is all in fun" when other people get angry at you for not playing right.

Neither Anomaly or I should have to PM you anything; everything salient that we want to happen is obvious here in the thread if you take the time to review what everyone else has said, as you should. MrGuy's plans are less explicitly stated and he may want to talk to you, but the fact is that all we require of you is "ask before doing something that changes the entire dynamic of the round". You simply can't move the entire NPC population around on a whim, Wojjan, and assume it won't mess with other people.
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

Okay, this is getting out of hand.

It's somewhat difficult to gauge other people's reactions to Wojjan's post, so in the interest of fairness and keeping this clean I'd like anyone who has a problem with any of the issues brought up concerning this grand battle to PM me. Once I know what everyone's thinking we can start finding a way to sort this issue out.

Until then I'd like to request that this argument is kept out of the thread and at the very least spoilered. While you are both obviously entitled to your opinion and your option to voice it, getting angry isn't going to do anything other than create more feelings of hurt and dislike.

I recognise that it was a failure on my part to not act upon any disagreement in this collaboration when they were first brought to my attention, and I intend to make up for it by sorting this out fairly and to the best of my ability.

Thank you.
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

I had an idea. You guys might not take to it, but it's here if you want to make use of it.

Basically, it can be a pain to remember all the details of current scheming, so some might find it useful if it was all gathered in one place. To this end I created a pastebin, which can be found here: http://pastebin.com/bQfi6mPn and will also be put in the OP. The idea is that as someone forms a cunning plan they update this pastebin and send me the link or post it in the thread, and I in turn will replace the outdated version in the first post of the thread. Details and certain schemes can obviously be held back as they normally would, but the end result would be that everyone is 100% up to date with everything they need to know.

Of course, it only works if people find the time to change the blasted thing themselves, but I'll be happy to make edits to the pastebin myself if you just give me the rundown of what you want included.

I hope you guys find it useful. :>

EDIT: Upon a helpful person's suggestion (that person being Anomaly) I've set up a Google docs thing containing the same information. Anyone can view and edit it. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...thkey=CKab0Z8H
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Richard Bratton poked at his steak, lost in thought. He wasn’t sure if he could get The Core at this point; he had no idea where it was.

Almost like clockwork, his phone began ringing as soon as this thought came to the front of his mind. He asked Diana to excuse him for a moment; she responded by muttering something under her breath and rather inelegantly cramming fish into her mouth. Richard shook his head, sighed, and answered. “Hello, this is Captain Bratton.”

First’s distinctive voice—by now familiar to Bratton, due to their frequent contact—slowly emanated from the speaker. “Good news, Richaaaaard. I think that scientist fellow had too large a first dose. A guard’s managed to lift The Core. Shoooould be three floors below you at the moment.”

Bratton barely managed to spit out “talk like a normal person, for god’s sake” before Fox hung up. He quickly snapped his phone shut and stood out of his seat. “Right, Diana. Duty calls. Have to be going.”

His companion scowled. “So much for politeness. I don’t suppose that you’d consider dragging me along?”

Richard Bratton pondered this for a moment. Worst case, she dies. Best case, she dies helping me get the stupid thing… He grinned and hooked his arm around hers, then (ignoring her frown at this) dragged her to the elevator. “Contraband type 3-B, Stolen Experimental Device (Military). As I understand it, you shove gold in and it makes you tough, or something.”

Diana’s eyes briefly glinted. “Truly amazing. I’d love to get my hands on that device… take it apart, and whatnot. See what makes it work.” Bratton gave a vague grunt of agreement and hammered the button to descend.

A long, awkward silence occupied them until they reached Deck 48. Upon exiting, Diana felt the need to cover her eyes, and Richard snorted. The hallways of the top end of First Class were almost ridiculously opulent, filled with marble statues and lush carpeting. Richard ignored it, for the most part, because he zeroed in on the fox mask poking out behind a corner, its nose pointed directly at an open door. He dashed towards it, dragging Diana along with him. “Good news. We’ve found our man. You have any way to defend yourself?”

“…Got my wrench. Should be enough, right?”

Inside, the pirate was laughing his head off. The whole thing was hilarious, really. After he murdered whatever bastard had stolen what was rightfully his, he’d get rid of her, and then he’d…
As they entered the beautifully-decorated cabin, his thought processes froze up. He’d… after I’ve murdered the bastard, right, I’ll… take the Core… off of his corpse? Murdered… the bastard, and… wait. He blinked at the sight of the man with the suit and the perfectly-groomed black hair.

Roth? That you, Roth?”

Roth, the man clutching the Core, went completely pale. “Y-yeah, it’s me, Brat. What’s the problem? Who’s this girl you got with you?”

Diana grinned. “Well, how about I introduce myself? My name is Diana Boilerton, and you, sir—“ She proceeded to smack him across the face with her wrench, knocking him to the ground. “Are carrying something you shouldn’t be. Now then, Mr. Bratton, let’s be taking this to security, shall we?”

Richard began sweating, and touched a hand to his scarred cheek. This was a problem, oh god it was a problem. He hadn’t planned for this one bit. “Uh… r-right, Diana. Just one thing.” He whipped out his gun, sighing. “It ain’t goin’ to security.”

She blinked back. If she had any idea what was going on, her facial expression—particularly her eyes—didn’t show it. “But… it’s illegal, I thought, Richard. Shouldn’t we be taking it away from this brigand, getting it to the law?”

Richard laughed a little, and his frown turned to a smile. “No, no. You see, I’m taking The Core for myself. And, well… seeing what you did to the last guy, I have no choice but to make sure you can’t do it to me. If you hand it over, though, I’ll make your death quick and painless.”

She hesitated, and he waved the gun a little to emphasize the point. “Give me the Core, Diana.”

She paused, then slowly nodded. “I guess I’ve got no other option, then.” She held out the gleaming pyramid to the pirate, fingering it lightly with her glove. His hand shot out for it, and as soon as it did so, she drove the tip of the Endorphic Core directly into his left eye. Blood and some sort of eyeball fluid neither of them could name spilled out, and he screamed, firing his gun twice. The first blast of plasma missed her; the second grazed her shoulder as she charged towards him and brought the wrench towards his weapon in an upward arc, knocking it out of his hands. She yanked the Core out of his eye, and got a little of his blood into the slot before slamming the wrench into his right leg, shattering the femur; she then grabbed the gun off the floor, and used it to shoot his co-worker’s arms off. Bratton desperately lashed out at her with a guard’s electrified baton, but she merely dodged to the side and smashed her wrench across his wrist, causing him to drop the stunstick as well. She laughed loudly, a distinctive laugh, familiar to every contestant of The Prestidigtator’s battle, and her soft voice slowly segued into the gravelly growl she had gotten herself used to.

“Now, that ain’t too nice, is it, ya blaggard? You ever had a real scar before, eh? I’d guess you haven’t fought too much, given that little scrape on your cheek you try to pass off as a mark of battle. Here, take a look at some real wounds.” She slowly removed her jacket, and he got a glimpse of the flesh beneath. Her arms, legs, neck—everything he could see, and for that matter most of what he couldn’t, was absolutely covered in gashes of varying sizes, some of which occasionally bled only to suck the sanguine fluid back in. A massive blister on her left shoulder occasionally let out a bubble of orange fluid. “You see these? I’d be dead four years hence if it weren’t for this little prize right here. I don’t know how you heard of it, and frankly don’t care.” She proceeded to drive it into his other eye, grinding it around a little for good measure. “Because now I’ve got it again, and that means another precious hour of life. Be grateful I took this from ya, lubber, and for that matter, be grateful I didn’t quite kill you and your friend. You especially, for threatenin' to kill what I assume ya thought a defenseless, hard-workin' civilian lady.”

Adrian O’Gearailt headed into the bathroom of the cabin and once again donned the red jacket and stone mask she’d stuffed away. She then placed the dropped gun in her holster, and the unused stunstick in her sheathe; grabbed a medal off Bratton’s coat, shoved it in the Core’s slot, and walked away, whistling. There we go, then. Looks like I might survive this thing after all.
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Matthew Gallagher groaned as the news of the incident reached him, five minutes later. “Alright, listen, Bratton. You still disabled the emergency escape pods?”

His hand trembled a little, and he curled it into a fist. “Maybe. Maybe, you say. Well, listen to this. If I see a single goddamn pod leave this ship before we’ve gotten every damn item of value off of it, let me tell you, Bratton, some crazy engineer driving a spike through your eye is going to look like the highlight of your day.”

He sighed and terminated the connection. It had been the perfect heist, hadn’t it? But then, these reports of shadow creatures and berserking engineers and god only knows what else—no. He took a deep breath and folded his hands. This heist has not failed yet. I still have time to make this work. It may not go perfectly, but god willing, I can still put myself and everyone else involved on easy street. There is not yet any need to start it ahead of schedule. He smiled to himself, too reserved to laugh out loud. I hope you’re ready, Reed, because this is one time you won’t be able to succeed in your stupid little endeavors.


SpoilerShow
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

”Really, the only role she’s going to play in all this is ‘damsel in distress.’ So I don’t know what you’re upset about.”

“Yes, but—“

“She’s only going to be bait. Really, it’ll just be a ‘I have your girl’ ‘Give her back’ ‘You’ll have to fight me bahahahaha’ and then there’ll be a thrilling scuffle and her boyfriend…snake will die. End round. In fact, I’m probably doing you a favor. I mean, if the both of them somehow made it to the last round, we’ll have a very boring stalemate. Or her snake boyfriend would just go ahead and kill her easily because honestly, your cloth mage wouldn’t win in a fight against him. No offense,” Ant said in a way that simply dripped with offense. He probably didn’t mean it. Ox took offense anyways.

“I am simply just concerned.”

“Once the fight starts, they’ll forget all about her. You could drag her away then if you’d like.”

“I wouldn’t stoop so low as to meddle so overtly like that.”

Ah, here we go, he was expecting this. “Oh, you wound me. Is that a hint of accusation I hear in your voice?”

“Accusation? Oh no. This would be an accusation: You’re overstepping bounds, Fourth.”

“It’s just bending the rules a bit—“

“It’s breaking the rules.”

“I’m only making things a bit more interesting. It’s not like your contestant’s the one dying.”

“That’s right. She isn’t.”

That finally jolted Ant a bit. “What? But…you—“

“When I said I was concerned, I meant for your sanity. You’re putting your own contestant in quite a bit of danger, Fourth.”

Ant let his eyes linger over the still form of Eureka for a moment. “I knew it. I knew that piece of Malevowhatever was going to do something. It’s that, isn’t it? What’s going to happen?”

“If I just tell you, you’ll just meddle some more and tell your contestant.”

“I w—“ Ant quickly checked himself. “Yeah, I would. But wouldn’t it be nice to, you know, let me know what I got him into? I won’t tell him.”

“You won’t communicate with him in any form, you mean.”

Ant paused for an uncomfortably long time. “Maybe we can negotiate this?”

“No. Even if I tell you what will happen, you will not continue communicating with him.”

Another uncomfortable silence, during which Ant seemed to be contemplating if he could take Ox on in a fight. Or maybe that was just paranoia. In any case, Ant sighed and said, “Okay, I won’t. So you might as well tell me.”

“Alright. Since it appears I will be in your company for a while, it will be a good way to pass the time.”

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

It was cold and dark in the cell and there were three men she didn’t recognize and worst of all she had no clothes. This was humiliating and embarrassing and frightening but it had to be a dream because she wasn’t here a second ago. A second ago, she was…there was a…thing…

Oh god did they finally catch up to her was she going to die here oh god oh god oh god she was a political prisoner or maybe a mafia prisoner both were really bad oh god—

There was another woman, strangely pink but for some reason with contrastingly black tentacles growing from her back. She really didn’t like the tentacles. But the bars were suddenly gone and then there were clothes and then fighting and oh god she was a mafia or maybe political refugee wait was that the right word to use?

Tentacle pink woman was listed as ‘good’ in her mind until she turned on the other prisoners. Until she turned on her. She was saying things, really frightening things.

“I’m a textilourge,” she blurted out. Don’t kill me don’t kill me don’t kill me

No it didn’t work. Was she too pathetic? Was that why she wasn’t allowed to live and leave and go out and see the sky (what did the sky look like?) or anything? No, she had to escape. Run. Run run run run run oh sorry out of luck now there’s an icicle in your hand. Oh god oh god she was going to die dammit dammit dammit fuuuuuuuuuck.

Leave me alone, why couldn’t everybody just leave me alone, why couldn’t you just leave me alone.

“We can’t,” said the pink tentacle woman. “It’s too much fun.”

And then she died.

She watched herself die, bleeding from the neck. Her head looked pretty funny, in a morbid sort of way. It looked rather surprised and yet detached. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about life and crap anymore.

Actually, usually dead people don’t watch themselves die, right? Yeah, that wasn’t normal.

So she wasn’t that stupid weak woman. She was stronger than that, of course. She was…she was…yes, she was the one who was going to escape this stupid prison and she was the one who would kill everybody. She was going to be the one who would win. Heeheehee. Hahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA--

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

The ‘mysterious’ masked man was gone now. Tamerlane couldn’t say he minded much. He already had all the information he needed. Get to the bridge to call out the serpent over the radio, wait for it to come, then kill it. Solid plan.

The witch was giggling into his back. He gave her another whack to the head. He was pretty sure he didn’t want the serpent to hear giggling in the background while he sent out his message.

Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
"Riko!"

"Hmm?" The scientist still seemed a little out of it to Syvex, but at least he responded this time. Syvex noted that Riko had at some point lost the Endorphic Core as well. Perhaps the two were connected.

"Are you feeling alright now? Because I sort of need your help, and now would be a good time."

"What..." Riko winced a little and shook his head. "What do you need, exactly?"

Syvex held up his wine bottle, flashing its bright label of "Château de Afterparty" at the scientist.

"You need help with wine?"

"Wine? No no no, this is nothing like that. It's a bottle of... well, you weren't there in the tower back in Afterparty, but it's a liquid version of some kind of energy from there. Whatever it is, it brings back my shadow powers when I drink it, but it doesn't last long."

"And... what'd you want me to do about that?"

"Well, you had that stuff in that vial that did just about the same thing. Thought you could make the effects of this stuff permanent, maybe?"

"Look, I..." Riko trailed off for a moment, clearly unfocused. "I can't help you with that without GRIMACE's facilities."

"Well, that's just great. I'm guessing you can't just contact them or something."

As if on cue, Riko's radio crackled with a deep, Russian-accented voice. "31. This is Randolph Markovnikov. We're within range of the... zeppelin now. Are you in possession of the core?"

Riko started in surprise. "Er, I... No, sir, I lost it. It's on the zeppelin somewhere, sir."

"No matter. We'll send an operative to retrieve it at once. Now, then, 31. I assume you would prefer to come aboard than stay in this dinghy any longer?"

"Yes, sir."

"He's not the only one who'd like to leave, Rambo!"

Riko turned to face the serpent, managing to stumble on his way. "Sir, you'll have to ignore him, he's-"

"Who was that, 31?" the commander questioned.

"Oh, he's... He's a 'friend', I guess. Big shadow snake alien, another contestant in this 'battle'. He was weakened a while ago and wants our help to fix that."

"Bring him on, then. I'll have a security team ready to receive him. Stand by for transport."

"Transport? What's he mean by that?"

After a blinding flash of light which lasted for far too long, Syvex found himself in another room entirely. The cold, angular machines throughout the small, cramped room reminded Syvex of Interstice enough to make him shudder. Despite the death and danger of this battle, at least it had let him escape the laboratory. Unless he were to survive to the end. Would he just be sent back to Interstice? Was it his fate to either die or be pursued forever? Surely something else would come after. Surely he'd be able to pay attention when I am talking to you whoa wait what

Syvex immediately realized that another human, dressed in distinctly more scientist-like attire than Riko, had been talking to him since he arrived.

"I... er... hi," Syvex stammered. "Riko tell you about me?"

The scientist's brow furled, barely noticeable behind his oversized pair of mirrored goggles. "No, in fact, he didn't. He hasn't even said anything since you two got here. All I've heard was that some sort of large shadow snake needed medical help for some reason or another, and now you're here. I'm the doctor. Enough wasting time, let's go."

The tall, black-haired doctor immediately turned and left through the door, Syvex following behind, flanked by a number of guards. GRIMACE didn't want to take any chances, that was for sure. They traveled through an endless series of identical hallways and lifts, eventually coming up to yet another blank steel door. The doors silently swished open, revealing a dark, dreary operating room. Syvex shuddered further. He had a distinct hatred of operating rooms and an extreme distrust of doctors, and here both were at the exact same time.

"Alright, we're here. What was it that you needed, snake?"

Syvex held up the bottle, giving the doctor the same explanation he gave to Riko.

"I see. Although that doesn't exactly tell us much about what's in the bottle, I think we can manage. Get on the table."

Reluctantly, Syvex climbed onto the human-sized table, half of his body hanging off the end. They were going to help him, it would be fine, he would finally get his shadow powers back, he could trust Riko, he could trust this doctor, this doctor didn't have anything against him, this doctor certainly wouldn't just use him for research no that couldn't happen this wasn't like that laboratory this was different he would be fine he needed his powers restored right yes he did and this was the only chance he had to do that nothing bad would happen NOTHING WOULD GO WRONG AND

Syvex's frantic thoughts died away as the anesthesia took hold.

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

"Subject 384."

"Huh? What?"

"Subject 384. It's time for testing."

"...Hikaru? What? No, I can't..."

"Subject 384. Testing will commence in ten seconds."

Dr. Hikaru's features remained stony, automated as he spoke. He was slowly enveloped by light, his features melting away into nothingness. Syvex inquisitively observed the testing room, but found most of it to be drenched in searing light.

"Testing will commence in 3... 2... 1... zero."

The lights shut off. Syvex wasn't in a testing room at all, he was just in a massive empty concrete chamber. No... not empty. In the far corner lay the huddled form of a young woman, no older than her mid-twenties. On closer inspection, her tattered clothes looked quite familiar to the serpent.

"Eureka?"

The woman looked up at Syvex, wide-eyed. She said nothing, her gaze fixed intently on the serpent, an expression of horror frozen on her face. Moments later, the intense lights came on again, and Eureka shrieked. Syvex blundered blindly through the white void, not able to find the source of the screams. He tried to call out in desperation, but no words escaped from his throat. The screams died out suddenly as the lights shut off. In Eureka's place, there lay only a large pile of clothes. Syvex approached the pile slowly, and

the shelling began. From the Empire base's numerous cannons, explosives of all sizes rained down upon the Stratonian task force. Syvex had to stop them. He propelled himself into the air with a series of portals, and launched himself in an arc over the base. He launched bursts of shadow at each cannon, managing to destroy them all. He attempted to open a portal to slow his descent on the other side, but his arms didn't respond. To his horror, his arms were gone completely.

Down, down, down he fell into the gaping chasm on the other side. Eyes stared at him from all sides, watching without care the snake's descent. Soon Syvex was falling up through the chasm, up and up and up past glowing blue runes which ran along the eyes as the eyes continued to watch. Eventually he stopped falling

from the tree, and hit the ground hard.

"Syvex, you alright?"

Syvex groaned and dragged himself from the ground. Before him stood another identical Shadow Serpent, but strangely wearing a Stratonian Alliance military uniform. His uniform identified him as "Martinov", the same name as the general of the Stratonian Alliance's military forces. However, before the name Martinov was an unreadable mess of lines.

"...General Martinov?"

"What is it, Syvex?"

Odd. The general had never called him "Syvex" before. It had always been "serpent" or just "bioweapon". Hearing an actual name was rather odd.

"Where are we, General?"

"What? You know where we are, we're in the

Operating Room 5 immediately."

Not this again. Another vivisection already? Syvex sighed. He was nothing more than a biology experiment to them, subject to their haphazard stabbing and prodding and extracting. After all, everything just grew back, there was no harm done!

Syvex slithered his way through the dim hallways to the operating room, finding Doctor Kjørsvik waiting for him. The balding old man scowled at the serpent, just as always.

"You're late, 384."

"Late? I came here as soon as I heard the message!"

"Really. That was half an hour ago, 384. Get on the table this instant so we can begin."

The door swished open. Inside he found himself already on the table, being operated on by a tall man in a labcoat with oversized goggles on his face. He immediately turned to Dr. Kjørsvik, but in his place stood a tall, horned humanoid with a multitude of eyes, her hands glowing with two distinct runes. A lone cable ran from the door into the infinite darkness beyond. Hebris stood still, silent, pointing out into the darkness. Syvex soon found himself in the middle of an endless stretch of cable, nothing to be seen in any direction.

Suddenly, Syvex caught sight of a faint humanoid figure off in the distance. He quickly took off toward the figure, its features become clearer and clearer by the second. On its face was a mask crafted into the perfect likeness of a spider's head, a mask that seemed almost familiar to the serpent. As he got closer, the figure began chuckling, then dropped into the infinite abyss. He had left behind a message for the serpent, however. Though Syvex could only read a select few words, the message carved into the cable with an incredibly sharp knife was immediately clear.

WAKE UP

All around Syvex, blue-green runes appeared in the sky - the same symbol repeated over and over, with no clue to its meaning. The message in the cable began to glow with the same unnatural, etheral light, a light which slowly spread, cracking apart the cable until it could no longer support its own weight. Syvex fell into infinity.


SpoilerShow
Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

SpoilerShow

It was hard to say how long it had been since the round had started; it hardly mattered in any case, since time was only important as a measure of the events it contained. Given that of the anywhere-from-a-few-to-hundreds of consciousnesses that had the most interest in events aboard the Thunderhead existed largely outside such petty trivialities as temporal mechanics (or at least the Thunderhead's universe's temporal mechanics), a mere tally of elapsed seconds would be frippery at best, and distracting at worst.

For those temporally-bound souls that existed both within the Thunderhead and within the confines of the Phenomenal Fracas, those seconds were more important, but still not important enough to spend mental energy ticking away. Had one contestant had cause to ask another how long it had been since they'd been freed from the Malevolence, and been able to do so in a situation where the questioned wouldn't simply attack the questioner of course, the best answer would probably have been something along the lines of 'I don't know, a while'. For one reason or another, participants in the various Grand Battles seldom had cause to invest much of their attention in chronology.

Suffice it to say that enough time had passed for important things to have happened; showers had been taken, arrests had been made, questions had been asked, dinners had been eaten. Legs had been broken. People had been killed. And, at the forefront of the seething divine mind called La Aguja del Dolor, subtle pressure had been applied in hundreds of little ways in hundreds of little minds.

It was so easy for humans to forget what they had as long as another nearby human had more. Nevermind that even the poorest passenger on the Thunderhead was aboard a cutting-edge luxury liner in a scientifically-advanced society with ample food and medicine; there were people aboard a cutting-edge luxury liner in a scientifically-advanced society with ample food and medicine with gilt-embroidered carpets. All it took was to channel that jealousy into rage and violence was a gentle playing-up of injustices, perceived and real, and careful suppression of just enough good feelings to tip the mental balance towards anger. Once you have angry people, especially if they're all angry at the same thing, all they need is a bit of direction and someone to stand behind and suddenly even the most reasonable person is inclined to fight and loot and set fire to things without a second thought. No, more than that: with a sense of righteousness, even as bloodied knuckles clench around stolen finery.

Somewhere under an hour, but probably more than fifteen minutes, after being placed in the Thunderhead, Laguja had whipped the bubbling cauldron of resentment and fear that was every slum throughout every history into a boiling mass of rage and hatred that was the beginning of every revolution in every history. In truth, given time, the same situation could have been brought about solely through rhetoric rather than mental meddling, but time was not among the many things Laguja had. Once it judged the correct atmosphere had been created, once fights were already breaking out in the residential districts with drastically-increased frequency, the godling judged that it was time for the people to find their leader. It didn't want to simply mask Muriegro in more illusions and place him at the head of the charge; aside from simply being more effort than leading an unwitting puppet, it would likely bring unwanted attention to Laguja's most valuable servant from the other contestants. The last thing Laguja wanted now was an unfortunate death to end the round.

And so it was that Jerome Gerrickson was thrust onto the scene. Jerome was a young man in his twenties, poor enough to know his poverty but with money enough to devote his thoughts to injustice rather than survival. He'd been something of a dissident, even a proto-revolutionary, before Laguja's arrival, but that was largely immaterial; what was important was his clear voice, his pleasing face, and his undeniable passion. Even saddled with a pedestrian name like Jerome, Jerome would have been the kind of person who would have gone on to champion some minor cause with reasonable success; with Laguja's hidden backing, he would become a sort of accelerated Robespierre.

Somewhere under twenty minutes, but probably more than five, after the proper mental landscape had been cultivated, Laguja had Jerome standing at an improvised podium in a large public square, shouting at a gradually-growing crowd of passers-by and interested youths. The young man, High Priest hovering unnoticed in the alley behind him, was delivering impassioned lines with eloquence he'd previously been unable to find.

"And in an hour, we'll land in front of the Empress. The same empress who drafted the Kisling Accords. The same empress who sent your brothers and sisters to die at the claws of the clagrites so her cronies could lap up the spice in the aftermath. The same empress who commissioned this colossal glorified barge so that you would all forget that you're used as cheap, expendable labor and harvestable talent by the magacorporations that run your lives.

She used words like equality, like glory, like Golden Age. Well look at your reconstituted algae dinner and tell me it's equal to the filet they eat down below. Look at the dreary job you do to buy that algae and tell me that's glorious. Look at the ramshackle, cramped apartment they shoved you in, at the laking pipes and hissing stove, at your children sharing a bed, and tell me those are the hallmarks of a Golden Age.

No, equality will forever remain a myth as long as we willingly put on the yoke of the Empire and smilingly accept the empress's lash. We will never achieve glory until we allow ourselves to embrace peace with our neighbors and raise our children to be something more than fuel for the expansionist war machine. There will never be a Golden Age under an oppressive autocracy, no matter how benevolent you let yourself believe it to be.

I urge you, every one of you–"

The speech continued unabated, constantly drawing murmurs of assent from the ever-larger crowd, but Laguja's attention had moved elsewhere: a small hand was tugging at the grey sleeve of its thrall, a small face looking up at Muriegro's larger hooded and glamoured one.

"Mister? A lady told me to give you this."

The child proffered a small box wrapped in satiny black paper. There was a card pinned to the top of the gift, and an elegantly-complex bow at one corner in the same material as the wrapping. Muriegro took the box, and his god implanted a 'Thank you' in the young courier's mind, then shooed it away.

Laguja was fully capable of reading the card without opening it, but its priest unfolded the paper out of mechanical habit. The message inside was in elegant and immaculate script and smelled faintly of India ink that was quite at odds with the futuristic setting.

It appears that you have no intention of seeking my gift, so it falls to me to thrust it into your hands. While you may view me as an enemy, and perhaps rightly so, you gain little by spurning what tools I can provide. I trust that I can count on you to be pragmatic when it comes to matter; as you well know, even an enemy can be made useful if handled correctly.

I will neither insult nor incense you by interfering so directly as my contemporaries choose to. Be warned by this knowledge, however, that the five who would like to see you dead make no such concessions with their chosen. And know, of course, that spiting or fighting those above you may lead to their disappointment, but has much more salient consequences for you.

---~~~~~


The signature was quite unreadable, and may well have simply been a series of squiggles. Either way, Laguja knew who it was from. The scarcely-veiled threats and condescending advice did hold a kernel of truth, though; there was little to be gained by turning a nose up to what gifts the questionable benefactor provided. After ripping the black paper off and opening the box, Muriegro found himself holding a rough cloth sack, tied tightly with heavily-knotted twine. It gave off near-imperceptible sounds of shaky breathing, but was otherwise outwardly unremarkable.

The amazonian hung it at his belt and turned his attention back to the speaker and crowd; there would be time later to determine its abilities and worth: for now, there were more pressing concerns.

Jerome had largely finished his impromptu speech, murmurs of ascent turning to cheers of agreement. Muriegro's tattered lips curled into a smile; in half a dozen other places, half a dozen similar rabble-rousers were goading the peasantry into action as well. Soon, their flocks would take up arms and storm the elevators, the various groups consciously or unwittingly merging into Jerome's. There would be clashes against the gentry and against the security forces, but that wasn't what mattered. What would matter would be what followed.

Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

SpoilerShow
Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by Anomaly.

Takara Shimura slowly dragged herself from the large, luxurious bed which encompassed much of her suite's bedroom. She was in no hurry, of course - even after three weeks, she was still overwhelmed by the first-class accomodations that her employer had managed to secure for most of Vetix Enterprises's top staff. Of course, since Vetix was one of the prime sponsors of the HMS Thunderhead, it wasn't all that surprising. Letting a few important employees into first-class was the least the Imperial Shipyard could do for the company that funded nearly half of the entire project.

Takara strolled to the large, reinforced window that made up an entire wall of the suite's main living area. According to the captain, it'd only be about an hour before they made it home. It was almost relieving, yet simultaneously disappointing. She supposed it was for the best that they were nearly back to Varral, considering the rumors of strange activity on lower decks. Some poor lower-class passenger had even died just an hour before, although security wasn't telling how. A little worrying, in honesty.

Takara stepped back from the window. This wasn't the place to be for the ship's grand arrival on Varral. The VIP observation deck would make for much better viewing. Besides, it was right below this deck anyway - not that far to go. Takara nonchalantly stepped out into the promenade, a regal pathway which soon led her to the Deck 50 plaza. The equally ornate plaza held the entrances to the ten main lifts, and gave magnificent views of the interior of the entire HMS Thunderhead. Above the extravagant fountain in the center of the plaza was an equally magnificent golden chandelier, of design so perfect as to render many passengers awestruck.

Takara was much more awestruck, though, when the chandelier collapsed and crushed the fountain below it.

"Running won't do you any good, lubbers! You can't escape Ripper Blackmask!" yelled a longcoat-clad figure which emerged from the chandelier, waving a standard plasma pistol at the scrambling passengers. Several shots were fired; several passengers dropped to the ground in an instant. Takara couldn't tell if they were simply ducking for cover or if they had been shot. She didn't want to stay to find out. She sprinted down the promenade in panic, diving into her suite as soon as the door was opened. She firmly sealed the door behind her and dropped to the ground, out of breath.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Security Chief Matthew Gallagher sat in his office, making final preparations for the heist. Finally, after years of planning, he'd take down that damned captain and get away with the wealth of thousands. A 50% cut of all the ship's treasures... not a bad deal for orchestrating the perfect heist. Three minutes remained until zero hour. Nothing would stop him now.

"Mr. Gallagher, sir!"

Gallagher slowly turned to face the over-anxious security guard who had barged into his office unannounced. "What is it, Lambert?"

"There's been an attack on deck 50, sir! Casualty reports are coming in, but the attacker hasn't been neutralized yet!"

Dammit, I told them to wait! This has better just be another of those intruders. Gallagher pounded his fist against the desk angrily. "Well, don't just stand there! Get security up there, now!"

"Y-yes, sir!" The guard stumbled back through the door as Gallagher returned to his final plans. One minute. He opened communications with all heist members.

"This is Matthew Gallagher. The operation will begin in T-minus 55 seconds. Everyone had better be in position. Any of you screw up, you no longer get a cut and you're likely a dead man. Don't mess this up. When I give the signal, perform your tasks immediately. I'll head to the bridge and take out Captain Reed and his precious little crew. Ten seconds. Don't mess this up. Five... Four... Three... Two... One... Begin!"


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

Captain Tiberius Reed sat back in his captain's chair, unmoved from his position hours before. Only an hour left until the Thunderhead's arrival. Only an hour until he finally met the Empress of the Third Empire personally after all these years. Gallagher hadn't even visited him in nearly an hour - presumably, the security faults had been taken care of. Reed knew, of course, that anything could still happen in the final hour of the journey, and he liked to think he was fully prepared for anything short of total destruction of the Thunderhead. As was almost dramatically appropriate, the entire ship was shaken by an unseen force. The lights flickered out entirely, save for a few which ran on emergency power.

"What the hell was that?"

"Sir!" Lieutenant Edon Kadare looked over the ship's status display in a panic. "The main reactor core's gone down! All main engines are offline, and we've lost all but four auxillary engines! Those were enough to get us back on course, but they'll barely be sufficient to make a proper landing!"

"They'll have to do, Kadare. Do you have any idea what caused this?"

"Not yet, sir. We'll have to wait for a report from Galla-"

A bright flash of light filled the room for a moment, accompanied only by the yells of Lieutenant Kadare. Standing at the entrance to the bridge was one Matthew Gallagher, a plasma pulse rifle in his hands.

"Your engines aren't just offline, Captain. They're completely beyond repair. So is the reactor core. And all the passengers you've been entrusted with? Who've put their safety in your hands? They may very well die. And no one's going to protect them, Captain. Just like no one could protect your Operations officer here. What happened to him, anyway?"

"What do you mean, what happened to him? You shot him!" Captain Reed abandoned his captain's chair and turned to face Gallagher directly, an expression of rage on his face.

"I did no such thing, Captain. I just got here. Haven't even fired a shot! Not yet, anyway."

"He's right. I did." Reed, Gallagher, and the rest of the bridge crew glanced to the bridge's second entrance in surprise. There, completely unnoticed, stood a man in a ragged-looking cloak and hat, pointing a smoking crossbow at the newly-deceased Operations officer.

"One of the intruders? Huh. Thought I had security take care of you an hour ago. Oh, well. Guess I can just do it now." Gallagher whipped his pulse rifle toward the intruder and immediately fired.

Tamerlane effortlessly dodged the bolt of plasma, then lowered his crossbow at Gallagher. "I could kill you much more easily. I'm just here to use your communicators. Show me those, and I won't kill anyone else."

After thinking for a moment, Tiberius Reed nodded at Halyna Pavlyuchenko, the Thunderhead's communications officer. She motioned to Tamerlane, then pressed a sequence of buttons and stood back.

"Communications are open. What did you want to contact?" Pavlyuchenko attempted to stay professional, but was obviously nervous around the still-armed murderer.

"Nowhere specific. Everywhere you can send a message to."

The communications officer pushed a few more buttons, then stepped away for the intruder to send his message.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"What has Tiberius Reed done for us? What have those high-class ingrates down below done for us? We've been living in these pits while they sip their martinis and watch the stars from their observation deck! What if life support runs low after all these power failures? They'll let us die before any of their 'important' passengers!" The growing crowd shouted in approval at the increasingly impassioned Jerome Gerrickson, taking no heed of the cloaked figure hiding in the shadows. "They get the best and quickest medical care! They get the best food while we get the dregs! We cannot stand for this any longer! The time has come, at long last, to take action!"

The cheers of the crowd grew to a violent roar as Jerome continued on. "The oppression ends here and now! If those of us here today cannot win this battle, then let us be martyrs! The stories will spread. The oppressed everywhere will hear the plight of the HMS Thunderhead! The tyrannical regime will fall! Now onward, bretheren! Onward to the lower decks! Let no one stand in your way!"

The roar of the crowd instantly became a deafening battlecry as the people scattered. Dingy couches and cheap synthetic plants were overturned. Security officers were trampled, their weapons stolen by the relentless crowd. Rioters flooded into the lifts, up and down the various stairwells, overtaking any who stood in their way. More and more third-class passengers were rallied to their cause; the horde grew bigger by the second. Soon, they would spill out into the upper decks, beating back any who stood in their way. Soon, the Thunderhead would descend into chaos.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Takara Shimura sat huddled in a corner of her magnificent first-class suite, panting heavily. She could still hear the gritty voice of the man in the red coat, and over all the screams of the panicked crowd. But after several minutes, the distinct brzap of a plasma pistol increased significantly in frequency. Had security finally arrived? The crowd didn't seem to be panicking any less. In fact, it almost seemed to Takara that they were in even more of a frenzy than before. Maybe the man in red had brought friends. Well, at least those plasma pistols weren't going to be enough to get them into this suite. Unless... Unless they had gotten a hold of a Resonife.

The Resonife was a very recent Vetix Enterprises development, a blade capable of vibrating thousands of times a second. Resonife, of course, wasn't a perfect descriptor - just a clever name for marketing. The line extended to blades of all sizes - pocket knives, steak knives, swords... even a special oversized sword known only as the "Hummer". Takara had helped with the development of that line; the higher-frequency models could cut through steel like a regular knife through butter. If the Red Man or his friends had one of those... no one was safe.

From behind the wall, Takara heard yelling for a moment, followed by silence. After a few moments, two voices could be heard through the wall.

"Head of Vetix Enterprises, huh?"

"Yep. Shame, really. They're gonna have to get a new CEO now! Hah!"

"Guy would've keeled over from age soon enough anyway. This is the biggest suite on the entire ship; make sure you don't miss a thing!"

"And the body?"

"Eh, I don't care. Leave it here, toss it into the fireplace... Doesn't matter."

Takara froze. They... They had killed her boss. Rupert McFarland, just about the only CEO Takara had ever liked, was dead. And why? For his money? They had killed a defenseless old man just because he happened to be rich! Takara huddled herself more tightly in a corner. The voices returned.

"I've got the cash. We'll come back for the big stuff when we're ready. Let's head for the next one. Heard it's another Vetix employee, you know what that means! Cold, hard cash!"

The two men laughed gruffly as Takara stayed perfectly silent, to afraid to even move at this point. In a few moments, she heard a series of beeps from her door; the pirates were locked out. Takara breathed a small sigh of relief, cut short by the high-pitched wail of a Resonife slicing through the doorframe.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Syvex."

A thick haze filled the room. The serpent could see nothing anywhere; just the purple-gray blur that reality had become. He could scarcely feel his body - an attempt to move an arm resulting in nothing, an attempt to speak resulted only in mumbling.

"Syvex, are you awake?"

A shadow moved through the haze. No, no, it wasn't moving. It was right over him. Watching him. Syvex could still do little more than twitch a finger or two. Despite his tongue's protests, he tried to speak.

"Y... yes... Awake..."

"Ah, good, you can hear me. You'll be happy to know that the operation went off without a problem. How do you feel?"

The shadow slowly became clearer - it was definitely a human. Syvex felt light-headed - he could barely even remember where he was.

"Oper... ation?"

"Ah, of course. Still under the effects of the anesthetic. Well, shouldn't be much longer before you're ready to go. I'd really like to know what this stuff actually does..."

Very slowly, the world drew into focus. Abstracted shadows gained form. The clarity steadily grew from a tiny area around Syvex, encompassing more and more of the operating room. Yes, that was it - the operation! The strange liquid in the bottle should now have been a part of him - he didn't feel much different, just weak from the operation. It wasn't anything new to him - this had been standard fare under Interstice's studies, the few times they even bothered to use anesthetic.

"It... It went fine? Doesn't seem much different..."

"We'll see about that once you've recovered. Take it easy - we're not in any hurry."

"I... I kind of am... in a hurry. Someone... on the other ship."

Syvex could vaguely perceive a frown on the doctor's face. It was fairly evident that he had been looking forward to seeing the results of the operation in full. Steadily regaining motor control, Syvex slumped off of the operating table, crashing to the ground. He righted himself against the nearby wall, hauling himself back to his normal height. His vision was definitely clearing, but something felt wrong. Throughout his body, he felt an odd malaise, but nothing he could easily describe. He could only compare it to being charged with a dark energy as he had been in Afterparty, but on a smaller scale.

"Beginning to... feel better. Can I leave now?"

The doctor sighed, his frown persisting. "Fine, fine. I assume you want to go back to the... space-zeppelin... immediately?"

"That's... That's what I'm planning."

"I'll get an escort for you. Can't just leave you to wander the ship, after all. Security measures."

The doctor stepped outside and motioned down the hall, further than Syvex could see in his temporary weakness. A duo of armed guards, two of the same guards who had escorted him here, appeared at the doorway. The three talked for a moment, then one motioned for Syvex to follow. After following them down a number of indentical angular corridors, another idea struck the serpent.

"Wait... wait. Does this ship have... records?"

The guards stopped, and one of them turned to speak. "Well, of course. You'd probably be allowed to view some of them, if that's what you want. Would you like us to escort you there?"

"If it's quick... then yes."

The guard gave an affirmative, and the two began leading Syvex in another direction. After a short while, they stopped at one of the many identical sliding doors, which opened to reveal a small room with a few computer consoles in it. A short, balding man sat behind a cramped desk to the side, watching the new arrival with wide eyes.

"We'll be waiting outside. Ask him whatever you want." The guards retreated into the hallway as the sliding doors shut behind them. Syvex took a moment to take in his surroundings. The room itself was unimpressive, but outside, between the walls, there was something much greater. A complicated network of wiring snaked and spiraled its way into and out of a massive, glowing box deep within the back wall. Syvex stood longer, gazing at the oddly transfixing sight, jostled back into reality only by a hushed, almost timid voice from behind the counter.

"Hello. Was there something you wanted to look up?"

"Um... yes, I was wondering if you had any... information on a company called 'Interstice'."

"One moment, I'll look it up."

Syvex's attention shot right back to the glowing conduit. It wasn't just the lattice of cables or even the glowing focus itself that so captivated him. He could see further, deeper. Within the mechanism itself, he could see thousands of different layers, energy pulses wildly surging through, unbound, yet orderly, a perfectly arranged excused me almost out of reality itself, perhaps the operation had let him hello more than he could ever have

"Hello?"

"Huh?"

"I said, I've found a few records on an 'Interstice'. Laboratory on an alternate Earth, was in the process of developing faster-than-light space travel when GRIMACE contacted them in that Earth's 2097. A few files were exchanged. Are there any specifics you wanted to know?"

"Look up the... 'Shadow Serpent' project, I think it was... Do you have any information on that?"

The conduit beckoned to him still. He could see every bit of it; all of the little systems and subsystems were stretched out before him. This conduit was suddenly the only thing that mattered now, this was the entire universe and nothing could ever shake him away from it no matter what happened! It was so close, he could practically touch it. He slowly drifted toward the wall, the horrible obstructing wall, and reached out toward the object of his transfixion.

The conduit exploded.

Syvex awoke once more to find a large Russian man standing over him. He immediately noticed a large, scorched hole in the wall, surrounded by debris and twisted metal. The computer consoles had been blown to pieces, though the "librarian" had apparently been safe behind his desk. Syvex tried to piece together the events of the past few minutes, but fell flat. What had he been doing? He had gone looking for information about Interstice or something, then... nothing.

"...Do you have any idea what just happened? How'd the wall explode?"

The Russian man glared at him quizzically, raising an eyebrow. "You blew up a critical power conduit, that's what. You don't remember doing that?"

Syvex shook his head. "Don't remember anything after coming in here. It... it might be because of that operation, I don't know. I guess I'll just go back to the other ship. Sorry about the mess."

"You're going to have a hard time getting over there. That conduit you destroyed also burned out all teleportation systems. I don't know what you did, but it wasn't good, to say the least. Oh, by the way. Your name's 'Syvex', right?"

"...Yeah, why?"

"We just got a transmission from the other ship from someone calling himself 'Tamerlane'. Said he was holding some girl hostage on the bridge. 'Eureka', was it? An odd name."

"Eureka... I have to get over there now."

"There's no way over there until we repair the damage, and we can't repair it while we're here. We're heading back to our home dimension for repairs soon, then returning for the team we sent over there. 31 was on that team, if for some reason you need him."

"How long will the repairs take?" Syvex was growing more agitated by the second.

"An hour or two, at least. You managed to destroy several key systems."

"I don't have 'an hour or two'! You know what, how do I get out of this ship? I'll go through space."

"...What are you talking about?"

"Space. You know, the big void out there? Ring a bell?"

"You're not seriously considering throwing yourself through space."

"I am. It's dark in space, I can make portals, and I can hold my breath for ten minutes. I don't see the problem. Where's the exit?"

"There's no convincing you otherwise, is there? The guards'll escort you to the airlock. Do yourself a favor and do this right, okay? You don't get a second chance."

"I know. Good luck with the repairs, or whatever."

Syvex followed two more guards through yet another series of bland corridors and lifts, eventually reaching a large, circular door which led into a small chamber. On the opposite wall of this chamber was a second, heavier door, which led directly into space. Assuring the guards he was ready, Syvex entered the airlock. As the door sealed behind him, he took hold of the edges of the wall behind the exterior door, ready to fling himself to the Thunderhead. He gave the signal to the guard outside, and moments later, the airlock opened with a defeaning rush of air. Syvex, not well-versed in the physics of a vacuum, was caught off-guard as he was forcefully blasted into space, scarcely having time to take a hurried gasp of air.

Then, silence. An eerie, abnormal silence, unlike anything the serpent had experienced in his short life. Not even the impossible geometries and black voids of the Malevolence-controlled manor house had prepared him for the vast nothingness of space. The utter lack of heat was almost completely unbearable, only survivable because of the quick regeneration the void gave him.

But none of this mattered now. What mattered was that Syvex's destination was very quickly heading in the other direction, disappearing into the distance. The serpent hastily created a portal leading as far away as possible, then another, then another. Slowly, the Thunderhead came back into view, growing closer with every series of portals. Syvex eventually caught up with the metal behemoth, and prepared to grab a hold of the edge of one of its many windows. Syvex successfully slammed into the side, but was immediately sent tumbling in the opposite direction. He continued frantically portalling himself closer, but this time stayed as close as possible to the zeppelin without colliding.

Syvex felt a tightness welling up in his lungs. He couldn't hold his breath much longer. Desperately, he searched the interior of the zeppelin for a dark room, any place he could get himself into. It wasn't hard to find darkness, considering the ship's condition at the time. About to suffocate, Syvex hastily opened a portal in the darkness within, launching himself painfully across the darkness-entrenched bedroom and crashing into a wall.

It was immediately apparent that something wasn't right. On the floor near the wall was a large bloodstain, trailing toward the door before stopping entirely. The room's furniture was upended; broken bits of glass and porcelain littered the floor of the large suite. There had obviously been a struggle, but those involved had long since vanished. Or... not long since. On closer inspection, the blood was still fresh, not dried as it had originally appeared. Had Tamerlane done this? It was more likely than any of the others.

Syvex made his way through the door, entering a large, empty plaza. The shattered remains of a once-ornate chandelier lay spread across the floor. There was little blood in the plaza, unlike the pools in the bedroom. Something significant had happened while Syvex was away, that much was sure. He tried a few of the lifts, but they were unresponsive - either offline entirely or busy with passengers higher up. Not stopping for a moment, Syvex began steadily ascending through each deck in sequence, taking care to remain in dark, out of the way areas. He mostly stayed to air vents and maintenance catwalks, both of which were completely blackened and empty. As he neared Deck Zero, a voice very familiar to the serpent came over the intercom, likely broadcast throughout the entire ship.

"Attention, Syvex. This is your final warning. I have Eureka, and I will not hesitate to kill her if you fail to show up. We're on the bridge, if you've still managed to avoid hearing these messages. If you want to see her alive, you have ten minutes to show up on the bridge." The sounds of a couple of men fighting were clearly audible in the background. "Actually, this place is already in use. Come to the kitchens immediately. Deck two. You have exactly ten minutes. I'll be waiting. By the way, officer, thanks for your services."

A scream reverberated through the ship before the communications line cut out. Tamerlane was going to kill Eureka if Syvex didn't hurry. He had no choice now. There was no fooling around this time. Tamerlane was going to die this round.

Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

True to his word, Tamerlane was waiting. It was not exactly very pleasant to have to drag a full-grown woman past some fight he had no business dealing with, nor did it make him happy to find that he would have to take the stairs. He almost thought he would miss his own ten-minute deadline. The thought of that and of Syvex using this to get some sort of pre-fight quip in to get under his skin hastened him, despite the load. (How could one woman be so heavy?)

But he made it. And he waited. Eureka he decided to immediately drop to the floor. She didn’t wake up. Maybe she had a concussion. Did people die from concussions? Well, hopefully, she would have the courtesy not to die before Syvex did.

Tamerlane didn’t need to wait very long. A couple of minutes after he dumped Eureka to the floor, Syvex burst in. He shouted something along the lines of “Where is she?” It was probably instinctive and Tamerlane thought he could probably see her just fine. Still, he couldn’t help but kick her a little towards him. Syvex didn’t quite react as much as he had hoped. Just kept still and gritted his teeth.

Tamerlane shifted his position slightly, the sand around him already whipping up—

“Not here,” Syvex finally said.

--What? Oh. Of course. His girlfriend. How annoying. Though the sand settled down, Tamerlane didn’t straighten. Still staring steadily at the serpent, he replied, “I believe this place is connected to a large dining room. Plenty of room.”

“As long as nobody else is in there.”

“Well. Let’s go check, then.”

The two of them didn’t move, instead, opting to continue their standoff of a vaguely Mexican nature.

Tamerlane, as initiator of the whole fiasco, took it upon himself to break the silence and said, “After you.”

Syvex’s scoff was all he needed to hear. And so instead, he slowly walked backwards. The serpent slithered forward in time to his steps, if it were possible to put a tempo to slithers. The only time Tamerlane even dared to take his eyes off Syvex was to make sure that the double doors were indeed directly behind him. And in this manner, the two of them went by the prone form of Finch, went by the kitchen, and entered the empty dining room.

As soon as Syvex pushed through the doors, he immediately shot a blast that destroyed a line of chandeliers at the same time Tamerlane unleashed a wave of sand that batted Syvex in the side and into a fancy little table. The sandman almost didn’t notice that a portal had appeared above him until a table nearly landed on his skull. He quickly leapt away to avoid it, in front of another portal that Syvex jumped through, forcing the two of them to the floor. As the serpent clawed at him, Tamerlane reached out for something and found his hands clutched around a chair. The chair was then displaced onto Syvex’s head.

And during all this excitement, Eureka woke up. Nobody really witnessed it, though it wasn’t much of an event to witness. Nobody witnessed her get on her feet and examine the kitchen carefully. Nobody witnessed her take two sharp cleavers and exit through the door leading to the hallway. And it was probably a good thing that nobody did.

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

The pirate attack was already working its way upwards, and though the fat cats tried to flee in their fancy clothes, most of them eventually fell under the blade. Though the females were more likely to be dragged away somewhere private first.

One particularly rotund man was in the middle of watching his whole life flash before his eyes (which he did not appreciate, as once was enough, thank you). He was on the floor, staring up at a sword and certain death. Or rather, a sword and Burton “Certain Death” McGee. He was just at the part when he boarded the zeppelin in the first place when Certain Death got a terribly odd look on his face. The rotund man watched with disgusted interest as blood splurshed onto his fancy suit. The pirate was pushed aside roughly by a rather large cleaver that a rather small woman was holding.

The rotund man’s mind was still flashing back to his entire trip, having not quite caught on to the fact that he was not actually dying at the moment. But his mouth knew what was going on and said, “Oh thank you thank you thank you oh my god.” Some part of him couldn’t help but criticize his savior’s clothing.

The scraggly woman helped him up (not an easy task), and wasted no time in holding a cleaver to his throat.

Oh, there was that ballroom dance that happened just a few days ago. He never actually got to dance. “Oh god, oh god,” the rotund man’s mouth warbled, though with a knife to his throat, it came out rather garbled. “Please don’t kill me oh god oh my god.”

The woman swung her other knife behind him and hooked him closer to her, almost as though she were embracing him. The first knife dug a little into his throat, prompting more gurgled warblings, though notably at a much higher pitch than before. “Oh god, oh god, please, I have a family, please, I’ll do anything, I have a lot of money, please.”

The scraggly woman smiled at him and tilted her head a little. It seemed almost as though she was a house guest that had come to talk over tea. She might have been a good listener, some sort of friend to confide in, if it weren’t for the whole knife-to-the-throat thing. “Oh really?” she said. Her voice was light and interested.

“Yes, yes, I’ll give you anything,” his mouth managed to gurgle out. His mind was still focusing on the time he spent about three hours looking for his key card, only to find it in his other pant pocket.

The woman leaned in even closer. He didn’t think it possible. “Go on,” she whispered, her uncanny smile still playing on her face. “Tell me more. Tell me how much you have.”

“I have rubies! Sapphires! Diamonds! I’m a multibillionaire, I have more money than anybody even needs! Take anything you want! Take my first born! Please, just spare my life! Don’t kill me!”

The woman whispered something else he couldn’t hear. Or perhaps it was a meaningless purr. The two of them stood motionless. “Of course, frieeeend~” she finally said. And then the cleaver dug itself into his jugular and the rotund man found himself on the floor again.

If his mouth could actually feel any frustration, it would have probably felt loads of it at that moment. However, his mind felt very accomplished, having managed to finish reviewing his entire life, without skipping over a single thing. And the scraggly woman moved on to find someone else more interesting than a dying man.

Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by granolaman.

The tangled mess of angry limbs rolled across the floor. Out of the corner of his eye, Tamerlane saw a dark tail whip towards his head. A sheet of sand sprung up and neatly amputated the tip. As purple blood splattered across his face, he whirred the sand into a blade to press the fleeting advantage. Syvex reacted with a portal beneath the two fighters and dropped through, closing it on the blade and nearly bisecting the sandman. Tamerlane rolled to his feet and was off them again just as fast as he dodged a barrage of shadow bolts from across the room. He scowled; the serpent’s tail had nearly grown back already.

Not good Tamerlane raised a sand shield to block the next volley before lobbing a chair at the snake and charging. Gotta keep close. He’s no match in close combat. The chair disappeared into a portal and reappeared sailing directly at his face. Tamerlane concentrated his sand to deflect the flying furniture, but in doing so opened himself up for a head-on blast of energy. He cursed and spun off to the side, the shadow tearing through his coat as he did so.

New portals started opening in the ground where Tamerlane landed. The sandman deftly jumped out of the deadly shadows, but more were appearing before his feet could touch the ground. A sharp twist in the air was all he could do to find solid purchase for his feet before launching off again to avoid yet another portal. Tamerlane danced his way onto a table and began bounding towards Syvex again.

He closed nearly half the distance before breaking to dodge another set of bolts. He’ll have to do better than that, the undeterred Tamerlane thought leaping for the next table. The serpent’s toothy grin flashed as a massive portal opened up in the floor and swallowed the table whole. Tamerlane started for a moment before quickly regaining his composure and tossing his sand beneath him. Enough of this. Tamerlane drew the hand ballista from his coat, vaulted off the sand slab, and pulled the trigger.

A dazzling beam of light blasted from the prongs of the crossbow and hurled its way towards Syvex. The snake barely avoided the fatal ray as he dived blindly to the side. When his senses returned, he felt a searing pain in his flank where the bolt hit him. The scent of charred scales filled the air while the wound struggled to heal itself. Still in a daze, Syvex picked himself up off the ground just in time to see Tamerlane squeezing the trigger again.


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

Reed analyzed the situation carefully. Two of his officers were already dead; casually murdered by no doubt the same killer responsible for the med bay massacre. Meanwhile, the entire third class was seemingly erupting into anarchy if the chatter over the radios is anything to go by. And to top it off, ex-Security Chief Gallagher sabotaged the engines and was now commandeering the bridge, presumably as an act of piracy. With mere minutes before breaking atmo on Varral, which at this speed would be certain death, Reed had a lot of problems to solve, and they needed to be solved fast.

Gallagher seemed to be the best place to start, but there weren’t exactly a lot of options available to deal with that. Gallagher’s goons showed up to strip the crew of their weapons and left him alone on the bridge to gloat. Reed’s eyes wandered across the room until they landed on the strewn body of his lieutenant. The boy’s sidearm still rested in its holster, unnoticed by the careless mooks. If he could get his hands on that…

Reed sat in absolute silence, carefully watching Gallagher, carefully waiting for the right moment to make his move.


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

Syvex slithered quickly along the floor. The tables provided ample cover and shadows, but they wouldn’t last long. Another bolt of light shot through the table he was hiding under, dazing him again. Time to switch. Syvex shot a couple of energy bolts in Tamerlane’s direction before portaling to another table. Not fast enough. A bolt caught him in the tail before he finished jumping, burning straight through. Even with Caliginosity-enhanced regeneration the light burns were proving difficult to heal. Trying to ignore the pain, Syvex opened another portal and slipped through before Tamerlane could find him again.

This game of cat and mouse was beginning to irritate Tamerlane. He ceased fire and surveyed the strewn mess of tables for any sign of the snake. Too many tables, too many hiding places, Tamerlane scowled again. His sand dropped to the floor and quickly spread across the room. No more hiding for you. In seconds, the floor was covered in sand. A bead of sweat dripped down his face, his scowl dissolved quickly into panicked realization. He’s not here!

Tamerlane’s eyes darted to the ceiling just in time to narrowly dodge the incoming flurry of shadows. He unleashed a light bolt at the suspended serpent, but he was already through his next portal. Tamerlane searched for Syvex’s new location and readied for an ambush when a sudden sound of rushing air caught his attention. Across the room, Tamerlane spotted the snake in intense concentration. On both sides of him were closed portal loops containing rapidly accelerating tables.

With a resounding whoosh Syvex opened the first loop and the table went careening towards the sandman. Tamerlane dropped to the floor as the furniture skimmed past his head and crashed through the wall beyond. He leapt to his feet just in time for the second one. He was ready for this one.

The second table whizzed through the air, Tamerlane gathered the sand at his feet and expertly sidestepped the missile. The sand reached out like a whip and lashed onto the leg of the table. With a great force of will, the sandman snapped the table back around him in a great arch. Tamerlane grimaced and yelled as he felt his arm yanked from its socket. The sand released its package and sent it racing back towards Syvex. The snake created a portal in defense, but Tamerlane only grunted and raised the crossbow in his good arm. The ballista fired and the light bolt tore past the table and into the shadowy hole, collapsing its shadowy threshold and disappearing with it. The shock didn’t even register on Syvex’s face until the table collided with him and smashed him through the wall into the next room.

Tamerlane gathered the rest of the sand from the room and with a quick dusty jerk and a sharp twinge of pain, popped his useless arm back into place. He was still here, the snake wasn’t dead yet. The sandman cracked his neck and followed through the hole in the faux wood paneling. He found the debris easily enough, with the snake still trapped underneath. “I know all of your tricks, Serpent. You cannot hope to win. Accept your death with honor.” He slowly approached the rubble, his wicked blade of sand growing on his arm. The broken table exploded into splinters as Syvex arose from the shrapnel grinning at him.

“’All of my tricks?’ Ha! I haven’t even begun to show off, Sandman!” And with that, the snake began glowing as black as the opened bottle of Caliginosity he held in his hand.

Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Three: HMS Thunderhead]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Few things, Ripper thought as she smashed an heiress’s head in, are more beautiful than the sight of blood on gold. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great degree of gold here—most of the passengers carried paper money, or simply debit cards, though at least the former could still be jammed into the Core successfully.

She ripped the earrings off of her quarry and dropped them into the slot, where they normally would have resounded with a slight clunk. The fact that they didn’t might have worried Ripper under normal circumstances, but seeing as there was a riot going on, the pirate was rather focused on other things, such as the sniper round that buried itself in her mask mere centimeters from her skull. Blackmask took a deep breath, ducked behind a table, and checked the fuel gauge on her jetpack. 1/4. Need to find some more.

She looked around, not quite sure where one could find coal in a place like this; the pamphlet she’d stolen from engineering mentioned fuels she’d never heard of, and it was basically a guessing game to try and use them in a device designed for something completely different. Out of the corner of her eye, the pirate noticed a pair of bounty hunters running into the fray; six rounds of plasma to the face for each put a stop to that. Blackmask grabbed some more ammunition packs from their bodies, as well as a couple of grenades; she merely scowled at the fact that neither of them happened to be carrying rockets around.

She felt a stinging pain in the back of her neck. A small syringe had buried itself inside, but whatever its purpose, Ripper wasn’t feeling any different. She blinked and removed it as she looked around for whoever fired it. Short of breath, but nothin’ else. What kind of exhaust-headed fool shoots darts with nothin’ in ‘em?

The pirate locked eyes with a man in a labcoat; or, rather, would have, if not for the fact that the green goggles he wore obscured his eyes just as much as the mask obscured hers. That said, the man could be told from the rest of his face to be wearing an expression of absolute terror as the raider ran forward and swung the stunstick into his leg, fracturing a kneecap. She then slowly raised the gun and pointed it squarely at his head. She noticed he was wearing a wedding ring, and for one brief instant, Ripper Blackmask felt guilt.

Then, there was nothing but the sight of blood on gold.

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Matthew Gallagher smiled at the Captain. What made it all more chilling was the fact that it was not a madman’s smile—not a Cheshire grin, stretching as far as his muscles could bare, nor a wistful, distant smile, as if the sound of violence from below somehow reminded him of a pleasant childhood. It was the in-between smile of someone enjoying a joke, but not quite enough to laugh.

After all too long a pause, during which period Reed kept shuffling just slightly closer to his lieutenant, Gallagher spoke. “How long have I worked with you, Tiberius? Twelve years? And in your shadow for all that period. ‘The great Captain Reed, incorruptible and brave, they say he fought off a platoon of Verulians with his bare hands.’ It’s always the captain that gets the glory, isn’t it?”

Tiberius Reed tried and failed to bite his tongue. “Jealousy? Is this honestly what it’s all about, Matthew? Perhaps I should remind you that murder won’t get you a positive reputation.”

The security officer laughed and smoothed back his hair. “How naïve of you, Captain. I think you’ll find that throughout history it doesn’t matter what atrocities you’ve committed, so long as you win. And particularly thieves and murderers, even the very worst ones, are glorified after their deaths. Book after book, movie after movie where Jack the Ripper or Edward Teach or Genghis Khan makes an appearance. All the good heroes are either fictional, or forgotten. One or the other.” He pointed a gun directly at Reed’s heart. “I’ll go easy on you, Captain. I’ll be sure to tell my crew that you made some miraculous escape and gravely injured me, so that you can at least go down in history as my greatest rival, like you deserve.”

Reed stared calmly up at Gallagher as the latter slowly strode up to him, hand not even on the trigger, and kicked the weapon on the ground out of the captain’s grasp. “I bet you think I’m stupid, and didn’t see your movements.”

Captain Tiberius Reed gave a little shrug, then brought his fist directly into the security officer’s jaw. “Not at all. I think you’re stupid for giving me a monologue and then traipsing towards me, after not even bothering to tie me up. It seems appropriate, Matthew, that your desire for glory would lead you to act like a movie villain.”

Before a single additional word escaped Matthew Gallagher’s lips, Reed had taken his gun and blown the traitor’s head off. “Excellent ‘perfect heist.’ Now, the rest of us have a ship to land.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The syringe had not been empty. It had enough tranquilizer in it to drop a horse, and multiple calculations had shown that no matter how empowered by the Core Adrian O'Gearailt was, it would be enough to knock her out cold.

As she frantically swung an electrified baton at the trio of pirates rushing her, it became increasingly clear that she was not, in fact, unconscious. Two plasma shots went clean through her shoulder, and she shouted in pain as the blister there seared hot. She quickly fired off five shots in return, dropping two of her assailants and causing the third one to flee, before dumping a necklace into the golden pyramid.

The viscous orange ooze that normally came out of her blister was not there as it closed up again. Instead, a clump of thick olive sludge, tinted ever so slightly red, slowly oozed down her arm before spattering to the ground. Blackmask didn’t notice, merely looting the bodies before once again sitting down and catching her breath.

Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

SpoilerShow
Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by Anomaly.

"So how'd you manage to lose that thing anyway, Riko?" a tall, thickly-accented Scandinavian security guard questioned the scientist.

"It... Well, I, uh... I lost it."

"You 'lost' it," snapped the decidably huskier scientist on Riko's other side.

"One minute I try using the thing, and the next it's gone. Disappeared. I don't even remember what happened or even how long I've been here."

"You tried using it. You tried using the Endorphic Core without any prior experience in doing so."

"I didn't know it was a GRIMACE device," Riko said rather matter-of-factly. "The pirate had been using it to empower himself, so I thought I'd try it on myself. Everything's kind of fuzzy after that."

Scientist eighteen sighed exasperatingly. "Thirty-one, how many times have you been told to not test experimental technologies on yourself? Dozens? Hundreds?"

"Not enough, apparently."

"Shut up. How about you make yourself useful for once and find the Core? Do you even know where to look?"

"The pirate probably has it. We just have to get it off of him somehow. Besides, you're tracking the Core, aren't you?"

"There's a lot of interference, Thirty-one," replied Eighteen, glancing at his handheld scanner. "All I can tell is that the core is somewhere in the vicinity of 'below us'."

Riko, Scientist eighteen, and the security guard set off down the corridors of deck fourteen, close to where Riko awoke after the core was stolen. Down below them, a pirate, carrying their objective, was climbing up above an ornate chandelier to make her grand entrance. Far above, a passenger-turned-orator was giving the speech that would lead to riots throughout the ship. All around, intruding space pirates would drop their disguises and attempt to cripple the ship and kill its captain. But in this last minute of solace before the utter pandemonium that was to come, an eerie silence punctuated the halls.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Sandman, it's been fun. But now I have to kill you. Goodbye!" Syvex pointed all of his unoccupied arms at the kitchen floor around Tamerlane and fired pulses of Caliginostic shadow. Each pulse exploded against the tiled flooring, fracturing the underlying support beams in multiple places. Before Tamerlane could react, the floor collapsed below him, and he crashed to the floor below. As he pulled himself up from the rubble, Syvex leapt down the hole after him, arm-spikes prone to strike. The sand mage stumbled out of the way in time to avoid the brunt of the attack, only receiving a deep gash in his right leg. Even with this injury, Tamerlane's face betrayed little in the way of pain.

Syvex quickly disappeared into a portal as Tamerlane fired a bolt of light at him, once more barely dodging the deadly projectile. The ceiling above Tamerlane exploded, showering him with debris which he could barely hold back with a barrier of sand. The serpent had placed him in a disadvantageous position - small, abandoned crew quarters underneath an increasingly unstable ceiling. Another explosion from above forced him to spring into action. He whipped a large quantity of sand into a makeshift grappling hook and tossed it into the room above, latching onto a grated vent on a stovetop. He hoisted himself up as quickly as possible, jumping to the side immediately to avoid another projectile from the serpent.

Syvex, growing increasibly agitated at his nearly-implaceable foe, ducked back into the dining hall. Tamerlane followed suit, brandishing the light-ballista and preparing to fire another bolt. Syvex dodged into another portal, but wasn't fast enough to dodge the sandman's attack this time - the sudden close of the portal cleanly sliced off the back of his tail, spraying blood across the dining hall and the room above. He stopped to think - what the hell was he doing? His nemesis, as it were, had managed to acquire a weapon that would likely be able to kill him in a single shot, and he was still jumping in and attacking with his usual strategy!

A section of the floor burst open in a puff of sand, and a familiar grappling hook latched onto a well-secured cabinet. Syvex snatched a potted plant from under the window and tossed it at the sand mage as he ascended, only for it to be shattered by a burst of sand.

"Wait!" Syvex interjected as Tamerlane leveled his ballista at him.

"What is it? You're finally giving up? You're going to beg for your life now, is that it? I have no use for you, serpent. You're much more useful to me dead."

"No, I would never stoop that low."

"Then what?"

Syvex pointed a hand at the large, plated window. "Put the gun down, or I'll shatter the window and send us both hurtling into space. I don't know how much you even know about space, but here's a hint. There's no air out there. I can survive out there, Sandman. I already have once, and I can do it again. The question here is, can you, Sandman?"

Tamerlane, stopping to consider, very slowly lowered his weapon, then dropped it to the floor.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tiberius Reed slowly lowered his gun and sat back in his chair. For all these years, Matthew Gallagher had only been waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Ever since he had joined Reed's crew, he had only been scheming and conniving against the captain. He had no regard for life, no regard for anything. Well, that wasn't quite true. He had only cared about money. Taking down the pride of the Empire's fleet so close to home - it would have been the perfect heist. Gallagher had only forgotten one thing in his meticulous plans - he was dealing with Captain Tiberius Reed, the most accomplished officer in the Fleet, the man whose strategies and skill at the helm had won the Battle of Kamatayan for the Empire. He wouldn't go down so easily.

Notified of a transmission from the Infirmary, the captain immediately opened communications. "Dr. Neriya to the Bridge! Is someone there?"

"We've still got the Bridge under control," replied the captain. "What's wrong, Doctor?"

"Marrow's dead, captain. Third-class passenger posed as a patient, then shot him once he was on the operating table. We're critically understaffed here, and casualties keep pouring in. It's good to hear that you've got things under control up there. We need access to proper medical facilities as soon as possible!"

"We'll be landing in roughly twenty minutes, doctor. Keep things together as best you can down there. We've had enough deaths as it is."

Captain Reed slowly turned his gaze to the body of Edon Kadare. A promising young officer, just promoted and appointed as Operations officer before the Thunderhead departed. Two teenage sisters living with their parents back on Varran, as well as a girlfriend. Had his whole career ahead of him, cut short by some trigger-happy nutjob.

He then turned his attention to Halyna Pavlyuchenko's body. A loyal officer, having been in his service for six full years. Always the first one up in the morning, eager to perform her job even in the worst of times. One brother on Varran, no other family to speak of. Shot down unexpectedly by the same psychopath that killed Kadare.

The captain felt it was his responsibility to personally inform the dead officers' familes of the tragedies that had befallen them. There was little he dreaded more about his return to Varran then this inevitability. Even if they found out about it beforehand - with the utter chaos that had befallen the ship, military action would likely be required just to neutralize the threats and save as many lives as possible.

But even then, Kadare and Pavlyuchenko were on the captain's bridge crew. He felt, in some way, responsible for him. Why hadn't he been more attentive to the bridge's entrances? Something was obviously wrong, why hadn't he been more careful? A man had died under his watch, on what was supposed to be little more than a cruise. It wasn't right. The one responsible was dead, and yet the violence raged on. Reed sat forward, gun clutched in his hand. He would be ready for any further intrusions.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A trail of bodies were left in Eureka's wake as she slowly strode through the Thunderhead, seemingly ignorant to the rampant chaos all around her. She had cleaved her way across several decks, taking her time to toy with each of her victims before she slew them and retreated to the shadows. She crouched behind a large potted palm tree, the fronds easily disguising her from anyone who passed by. Not that many people were still out by this point. What remained of the security team had been distributed throughout the ship in a mostly futile effort to regain control. Thousands of passengers hid in their quarters, huddled under their beds or behind their couches, vainly trying to protect themselves from the threat of pirates and riots. Eureka giggled to herself. Pirates... riots... they even rhymed! She had taken a detour or two into a few unfortunately unsealed passenger suites, taking the opportunity to have a little more fun along her path.

But as she went, it become more and more boring. Sure, it was a little entertaining to see rich and poor alike plead for their lives. They'd offer her riches, they'd plead that they had a family... It was hilarious at first! But as with anything, it became less interesting with each passing kill. She needed to find some more interesting people to assault, not these bland photocopied templates of humanity. As best as she could figure, she could have a lot more "fun" with the crew of the ship instead of its passengers. By and by, she was slowly making her way to the center of the ship. There lay the bridge, the infirmary, the kitchens, the security offices... Everything necessary for some good entertainment.

As she passed the large, gray "DECK 10" sign, she took a brief glance at the map posted underneath. Besides all the obvious things, the airlocks were also on deck zero, not far from the bridge itself. Of course! Once the ship landed, she could leave through there! There was no doubt that many more interesting types would be about in whatever dock they were headed for. Maybe even someone with power. Those would be the most fun to kill of all. She could hardly wait.

But, she couldn't forget the whole "Phenomenal Fracas" deal. She supposed she'd have to hunt down and kill her five designated opponents at some point. After all, it was the only way for her to escape the whims of this "Prestidigitator". But for now, that could wait. They weren't going anywhere, after all, and they would probably take each other out as she dealt with much more interesting matters. Ascending another stairwell, she took note of a short, nervous-looking man in a blue uniform, clutching a gun tightly in one hand. The weapon was noticeably shaking - he was obviously not used to the stress of situations such as these.

Eureka decided to confirm his fears. She adjusted her grip on the bloodied meat cleaver as she ascended the staircase.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Five minutes to atmospheric re-entry, Captain!" exclaimed Commander Ferdinand, the Thunderhead's helmsman.

"Excellent, Commander. I'll announce to the crew as soon as we enter the atmosphere. It'll relieve them some after all they've been going through." The captain gazed at the bridge's viewscreen, watching the serene blue ball that was Varras grow steadily closer and closer with each passing second. After three weeks of command and one day of hell, the placid beaches of Salacia would come as a much-needed getaway.

Although, even then, trouble seemed to follow the captain. Just beyond the doors to the bridge, Tiberius Reed heard shouting. At least five or six different voices could be picked out from the cacophony, each making no effort to conceal their intent to storm the bridge and murder the crew. Foolish of them to do so.

"Lieutenant Nicusor, seal the doors!"

Lieutenant Nicusor, the bridge crew's secondary operations officer, rushed to a small control panel on the wall, and began fumbling with a variety of buttons and switches.

"I've got the doors sealed, captain. We're safe."

"Good. Resume your post for now. We're almost-" The captain was interrupted by a distinct high-pitched whine from the doors.

"They've got Resonifes, sir! At least one Hummer, from the sounds of it. I can activate force fields, but they'll need at least five minutes to charge up first!"

"Damn it! All officers, prepare to defend the bridge! Commander, you keep piloting the ship!"

As soon as the captain had finished giving his order, the doors were smashed in, and a squad of angry passengers poured in from the outside hallway. At the forefront was a very large, muscular man, wielding in his hands a massive Resonife. The others behind him carried various weapons of their own, from plasma rifles to kitchen knives. At least ten of them had poured in, and more doubtlessly waited in the hall.

"More pirates, then? Working under that son of a bitch Gallagher won't get you any benefits. He's dead, and it's too late. You can't stop the ship now."

Rather than answering, the Hummer-wielding passenger leapt forward, yelling like a maniac, and swung the Hummer directly at Captain Reed. Reed stepped backward swiftly enough to avoid being chopped in half, and immediately drew his gun. Two pulses found their marks on a duo of pistol-wielding rioters, killing them instantly. Reed jumped to the side to avoid another Hummer slash, narrowly avoiding a collision with Commander Ferdinand. Lieutenant Nicusor, under assault by a wild-eyed man wielding a meat cleaver, dove toward the recently-felled corpses and took hold of both dropped plasma pistols. The cleaver-wielding maniac was easily shot dead, as were two other rioters.

Several more passengers poured in from the hall, each carrying their own improvised or stolen weaponry. Reed continued dodging a barrage of Hummer sweeps, unable to get a clear shot on the inexorable psychopath wielding it. Thinking quickly, he baited the rioter into swinging at the late Lieutenant Kadare's chair, dislodging it from its base. The captain picked it up and immediately tossed it at his foe, throwing him off-guard long enough for Reed to punch him square in the jaw. Reed proceeded to kick the Hummer out of his hand, sending it spinning across the bridge floor.

Lieutenant Nicusor took this opportunity to kick back a dirty, Resonife-wielding man, sending him tumbling directly into the still-vibrating Hummer. He hurried back to the panel, watching as several more rioters prepared to storm the bridge. A green light lit up with a loud "beep", causing him to almost involuntarily slam a large, red button. A red, glowing field of energy appeared in front of each door, stopping the rioters in their tracks. The few remaining stragglers were easily dispatched. The bridge was secured, just in time for the ship to enter the atmosphere of Varran.


Concealed in darkness, a cloaked figure watched the spectacle in grim satisfaction. Everything was going according to plan.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Syvex slowly edged towards Tamerlane, hand still extended toward the window. The ballista, the one weapon the sand mage could actually kill him with, lay on the floor beneath him. All he needed to do was get a hold of it. If he did that, he could blow up the window and toss it into space, killing the sandman in the process. Carefully watching Tamerlane for any sign of movements, he slithered closer and closer, raising a second hand for added effect. Without warning, an unseen intercom roared to life.

"Attention, passengers of the Thunderhead. This is your captain speaking. We've still got the bridge under control, and we're preparing to make our descent. We've just entered the atmosphere of Varran, and we'll be landing in about five minutes. Please stay calm and out of sight. We're dealing with the 'situation' as best as we can, and our first priority is your safety. Captain Reed out."

The small grin Syvex held on his face slowly died out as the announcement continued. The one advantage he held over Tamerlane was quickly disappearing. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, he turned, knocked the light ballista away with his newly-regenerated tail, and smashed the window to bits with a single burst of energy. Despite the suction from rapid decompression, Tamerlane still managed to catch the ballista as it sailed toward the window. He quickly secured himself with hooks of sand until the pressure equalized.

Syvex, on the other hand, had barely managed to hang onto the window frame, slicing up the palms of four of his hands on the sharp glass. Tamerlane slowly trode toward him, ballista in hand.

"It appears you've put yourself at quite a disadvantage, serpent," he calmly gloated. "It looks like our endless rivalry stops here. Goodbye, serpent." Tamerlane pointed his ballista at the serpent's head, but was briefly interrupted by a scaly, bloodied hand on his arm.

"I'm not finished, Sandman." Syvex tightened his grip on Tamerlane, then let go of the window frame. Before the latter could react, the two were falling toward the ocean far, far below.

The lower atmosphere, though significantly warmer than the depths of space, was still extremely cold, far colder than Tamerlane had ever experienced. He could scarcely keep his grip on his weapon, which was cooling by the second. The only plus side to this situation was the fact that it was daytime; in fact, it was close to noon. With the sun directly overhead and no clouds to speak of, the serpent would have a hell of a time fighting back against him. It was also slowly warming up as he fell - soon enough it would reach (relatively) bearable levels.

Syvex was falling at a much faster rate than his foe. The endless, watery expanse far below was quickly growing closer, much too quickly for his tastes. He spread his body out as much as possible to slow his fall, though it didn't help all that much. Worst of all, it was too bright for him to make use of portals. At this rate, he was going to hit the water before Tamerlane, an impact that would shatter his body beyond any hope of regeneration. Thinking quickly, he decided that there was only one way he could save himself.

He would get Tamerlane to shoot him.

Twisting his body around to face upwards, Syvex threw his upper hands in the air, and fired weak shadow pulses at his enemy. Only as bait, of course - even the one that found its mark was too weak to do much to him. Nevertheless, it worked exactly as planned. Tamerlane drew his weapon, hands shaking from the freezing temperatures, and fired a bolt of light at the serpent. Just before the bolt could hit him, Syvex opened a portal behind him, taking advantage of the extreme radiance of the projectile. He fell through the adjoining portal, directly behind Tamerlane, just before the momentary shade dissipated and the portals disintegrated into nothingness.

Syvex, now directly behind Tamerlane, now had the opportunity to make his move, to properly disarm his foe. For just a moment he took on a divebombing stance, catching up with Tamerlane before breaking off this position. He immediately twisted his body toward Tamerlane, and in one motion, pulled the sand mage toward himself and ripped his arm off with his teeth. Tamerlane gazed in shock as the arm, along with the ballista, disappeared into the sky. He swiftly formed a bandage of sand around the wound, but even this small act took almost all of his willpower. He was weak, defeated. All he could do now was hope somebody died before he hit the water.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Kenneth Westergaard, the previously-mentioned GRIMACE security guard, non-lethally stunned yet another violent passenger. None of the three could say why, exactly, the passengers of the Thunderhead had suddenly began rioting. All they could tell was that there were potentially hundreds of rioters throughout the ship, and they didn't show signs of stopping very soon.

Scientist Eighteen continued fumbling with his scanner, attempting to, at the very least, discover the source of the interference. He had no luck, though; the most he could contribute at this point was that the Core was "still somewhere below us". None were very pleased with this result, but nothing much could be done about it.

For a moment, Riko thought he saw a figure standing at the end of the hall, perfectly still. As soon as he looked directly at it, though, it disappeared into the shadows, little more than a blur.

"Did either of you see that?"

"See what?" questioned Westergaard.

"I don't know. It looked like someone was watching us."

"You're probably still high on the Core, Riko," replied an irate Scientist Eighteen. "You're just seeing things, because there's no one nearby that isn't unconscious!"

"We could at least look. What if Ripper's sneaking around out there?"

"...Fair enough."

The trio cautiously approached the end of the hallway, half expecting to just run into another rioting passenger. At the end of the hall, however, they discovered a map of the ship stuck to the wall with a knife. In blood red ink (or possibly actual blood), someone had scrawled an "X" over the Deck 45 promenade, along with the words "HURRY UP".

"What the hell?" mumbled Eighteen.

"...I, uh, I guess we should go to Deck 45, then?" asked Riko.

"Are you really that- Nevermind. I don't even need to ask. Have you even considered that it might be a trap, perhaps?"

"Trap or not, it'd take us to the Core. Isn't that worth the risk?"

"I suppose so. You. Westergaard. You're in front."

Without warning, an announcement reverberated throughout the ship. "Attention, passengers of the Thunderhead. This is your captain speaking. We've still got the bridge under control, and we're preparing to make our descent. We've just entered the atmosphere of Varran, and we'll be landing in about five minutes. Please stay calm and out of sight. We're dealing with the 'situation' as best as we can, and our first priority is your safety. Captain Reed out."

The trio rushed to the nearest stairwell, descending multiple flights of stairs as quickly as possible. If Ripper were to leave the ship, he would become much harder to find among the swathes of civilians that likely awaited its return. As they approached Deck 45, it became clear that there likely wasn't a trap - among the cacophony all around, they could clearly hear the shouts of the pirate. He wasn't trying to stay hidden, that was for sure.

Ripper finished off the last of the security team sent to apprehend her as the GRIMACE team appeared on the promenade. Behind her namesake mask, a smile grew upon her lips. The easiest prey in this battle had just wandered right up to her. She supposed she might as well finish him off - she wouldn't want someone competent getting a hold of those vials he always carried around.

Westergaard was the first to approach Ripper, gun trained on her head. "Pirate. Hand over the core, and I won't be forced to shoot you. This is your only warning."

"You kidding me, ya lubbers? No one threatens Ripper Blackmask and lives to speak of it!" Ripper rolled to the side to avoid an energy bolt, and immediately returned fire. Her shot grazed Westergaard's side, leaving him with severe burns as he fell to the ground in pain. In spite of his injury, he shakily raised his gun for a second try. Before he could pull the trigger, a red boot collided with his hand and knocked the gun several meters away. Surprised, he turned to discover the pirate standing right next to him, gun trained on his head. He closed his eyes, accepting both his failure and his imminent death.

"Ripper, put the gun down," Riko announced.

"Ha! What're you tryin' to do, Riko? Save your little friend here? Tell me then, why shouldn't I kill him?"

"Your quarrel is with me, Ripper. Leave these two. I'll take you on myself."

"Riko, what the hell are you doing?" hissed Eighteen. Riko ignored him.

"Fair enough then, Riko. Get your lackeys outta here, and we'll have a good, honest fight to the death."

"Eighteen. Take Westergaard and go. I'll handle this."

"Riko, you're a fool."

"I know, Eighteen. Get out of here!" Eighteen lingered for a few moments, then helped Westergaard out of the central promenade. The latter, though burned, would hold out long enough for the GRIMACE ship to return.

"I know you're not going to just give us the core. I'm going to have to take it from you, Ripper. I'm not leaving this 'Phenomenal Fracas' without it."

"Don't worry about that, Riko," the pirate spat. "When you're dead, I'm closer to gettin' out of here." She whipped out her pistol and fired at Riko, nearly shooting him in the head straight away. Riko ducked behind an overturned bench, and began furiously rifling through his collection of vials. [i]"Breathe fire... no. Reflex... barely anything left in that one. Perception... Untested, but full. Might as well make use of it."

Riko immediately downed the contents of a vial labeled "PERCEPTION-31". A wave of sensory information rushed through his head, as if it were trying to burst out. He was suddenly aware of everything - every movement of the pirate, the tiniest of sounds from decks away, every nuance of the potion's horrid, metallic taste. Any observer would note his pupils dilating astronomically, his irises becoming almost nonexistent. He jumped out from behind his cover, aware of every passing iota of time, of the exact, perfect positioning of every minute part of his body.

He immediately charged at Ripper, watching intently every tiniest bit of motion she made. He narrowly dodged a series of pulses from her pistol, knowing well in advance the trajectory of each. He lunged behind her and landed a kick squarely in the back of her head, knocking her to the ground before she could tell what was happening. Her pistol flew out of her hand, clattering across the floor before it collided with a wall. Riko leaped over the downed pirate and executed a precise dive, picking up the gun and twisting around to face Ripper before landing on his feet. He fired once, his shot finding its mark directly on Ripper's upper arm.

He would have been at a loss to explain what he was feeling - it was as if he was truly experiencing reality for the first time, unclouded and distilled. He couldn't lose to this pirate now - he was always ten steps ahead, able to do anything he wished with perfect execution. Not even the Endorphic Core could compare to this utter perfection.

But with superiority came overconfidence. Riko decided it would be such a waste of his newfound abilities if he utterly destroyed the pirate that quickly. It was for this reason that he allowed her to slink away to one of the guard's bodies and commandeer a cutlass-sized Resonife. He even allowed her to insert a smattering of jewels and precious metals into the Core. Ripper wouldn't be able to hit him with it, Riko reasoned. It would only serve to make things a little more exhilarating before he requisitioned the Core from her. She charged at him in a frenzy, Resonife raised to strike, but he simply sidestepped at the last second, confident grin on his face. He ran backwards, then baited her again, dodging once more at the last second. A voice came over the intercom once more, but he paid it no heed.

Riko had never had much of an interest in bullfighting, but he reasoned that this was the next best thing. An increasingly-aggravated pirate charging at him with a deadly weapon that she couldn't manage to hit him with no matter what she did - it was invigorating like nothing else. Riko eventually decided to land a kick on his foe as she charged, knocking the Resonife from her grip. He caught the weapon in midair, discarding the pistol to the side. He then daintily, mockingly sauntered up to her prone position, tossing the Resonife from hand to hand.

"Well, Ripper, it's been fun and all, but I need that Core n-" Riko was immediately siezed with an intense pain. His perfect vision, his finely-tuned senses - they were leaving him. He involuntarily dropped his sword and clutched his head, shaking it back and forth. Perception had decided to abandon him while he still needed it. In an instant, he found himself sweeped to the floor by a very angry pirate, a boot planted on his chest.

"D'you know why they call me 'Ripper', Riko? Y'don't get a name like that without a good reason." Ripper took a handful of diamonds and poured them into the Endorphic Core, which began pulsing with energy. Riko watched helplessly as her muscles swelled exponentially before him. Unable to move, he felt a muscular hand grab hold of his elbow as the boot was pressed down even harder. He yelled in pain as each individual muscle and sinew in his shoulder snapped one-by-one, and watched in disbelief as his left arm was tossed to the ground beside him. The pirate mercilessly continued to his right arm, performing the exact same procedure. He was already losing consciousness from shock and blood loss by the time Ripper had moved onto his legs, and lapsed out fully just as the last one was torn from his body. Not a minute later, Riko was dead.

"And that's what you get for crossin' paths with me," the pirate announced. She walked away confidently and collected her newly-found weapons from the ground before disappearing, taken by the Prestidigitator once more.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The H.M.S. Thunderhead touched down on the surface of Varran, not far from the royal palace itself. The Drenwellian Imperial Peacekeeping Force, notified earlier by the captain, immediately stormed onto the Thunderhead, pacifying rioting passengers and pirates alike. Friends and family of the rioters would attest that they had never had violent tendencies before the incident on the Thunderhead, and had no idea what had happened. Casualties were carefully catalogued, and sordidly released later on to the hysterical masses. All hell had broken loose, and there would certainly be consequences for it.

But in spite of the violence, the Empress had still come to commend the captain for his outstanding performance, especially in the face of such unexpected perils. Captain Tiberius Reed slowly walked down the rolled-out red carpet, mind racing with equal senses of accomplishment and failure. The Empress stood at the end of the carpet, perhaps more beautiful than Reed had ever imagined. Under any other circumstances, he would have greatly enjoyed this occasion, this great opportunity. But the deaths of crewman and passenger alike weighed heavily on his shoulders, a great burden upon the accomplished captain. As he came close to the carpet's end, the Empress stepped forward and approached him. He knelt before her immediately.

"Congratulations, Captain Reed. In spite of the horrible tragedy that befell the Thunderhead, you stayed resolute and saved the lives of thousands. It is truly commendable."

"Your Highness. I do not deserve such praise. Hundreds still died under my watch. Two of my own bridge crew. I should have done something."

"There was nothing you could have done, Captain. Don't blame yourself. You did what most could never even dream of doing. That is what truly separates you from many officers in the fleet. Captain, I would like to forma-" The Empress suddenly stopped speaking midsentence. Reed saw blood run down her goldenrod dress, dripping to the ground. In shock, he leaped from his feet, only in time for the Empress to fall in his arms, a large steak knife buried in the back of her head. A dirty, wild-eyed young woman, still wielding a bloodied meat cleaver, grinned at him before disappearing into nothing.

The Empress of the Third Drenwellian Empire was dead.

Quote
Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

The remaining five contestants were ripped from the world of the Drenwellian Empire just as the heirless Empress died. This death would mark the beginning of a century-long power struggle that would ultimately end in revolution, and the fall of the Empire.

But that is another story, and not one that the combatants would likely ever know of.

Instead they found themselves not in the gloom of the Prestidigitator's quarters, but what appeared at first glance to be a building of sorts. Throughout this place they were scattered, immobile and silent.

“Greetings,” a quiet voice remarked. It was heard by all those included in this fight to the death. However, it was not the booming, confident vocalisation of the Prestidigitator. This voice was far more solemn and slow, but no less impressive.

“My name is Third. We have met, briefly. The Prestidigitator has shown more interest in other matters than this game of his, and so I am afraid that I must be the one to introduce this round. The more canny amongst you will have noticed the distinct oddness of the architecture and décor of the location. Those of even keener intelligence will notice the lack of weapons upon your person.

“The reason for this is an item in the centre of this place. It's nothing interesting to look at, perhaps of mild interest as an ornament, but it was set in this place by myself many days ago. Back then the building was quite ordinary. Sensible. Practical. Unutterably dull. Since then, however, the item in question has expanded and warped the building beyond it's external boundaries. Innumerable new rooms have been created, each attempting to mimic the style of the building, but fortunately this became harder for the item as its effects grew more widespread. Everything became more labyrinthine, more puzzling, and infinitely more intriguing.

“But forgive me, I'm rambling. The point of this round is to strip you down. This is why your weapons were removed. They will be returned upon the death of one of you. Your powers have also been crippled, due to the interfering influence of the item I mentioned. You may be able to get some use out of your respective abilities, but all non-physical actions will be very difficult to complete indeed.

“However, do not believe that we intend for you to tear each other apart with your bare hands (although that is an option) as there is a dagger embedded in the item at the centre of this maze. A very special dagger. Anyone cut by it will immediately die.

“One more thing before I leave you to it: I left a couple of documents explaining the item in more detail around here somewhere. I don't remember where, but you might find them illuminating. I also don't know what sort of building you're standing in. I don't care to know.”

The voice paused for a moment, before finally adding: “Good day to you.”

And then they were free to move.


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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by granolaman.

'Zerved.
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Eureka didn’t fool around with doing something like looking to see if her meat cleaver really was still not there or if her magnificent powers over cloth really was a tad bit underwhelming at the moment because any time spent not looking around for other people to fool around with was time spent not having very morbid fun. She might be able to just deal with anything that came her way with her bare hands, and if not, then there was improvised weapons to be had with…whatever was in this room.

What was in this room? This probably warranted some investigation.

The room was made of dented bronze, meaning that Eureka’s twisty, lanky reflection stared back at her from the walls. Strangely enough, every piece of furniture and decoration seemed very intent on camouflaging perfectly and it took a while for her to even stumble across something not attached to anything else. There was something she bumped her shin against that seemed like some sort of bronze desk. Or at least some sort of large bronze flat elevated surface. Then there was something that might have been a bronze potted plant (she cut herself on it and decorated her face with cute, bloody little smiles and flowers and whee). There was another bronze elevated flat surface that had a bronze thing that sat on top and she swung it around for a while, very impressed with its weight and some other technical term. But basically, she could hit people with it.

For some reason, she entertained the thought of hiding behind some bronze and waiting for someone else to drop by, but she punted that train of thought off the rails because of the word ‘waiting’ and so she just fumbled around for a doorknob.

In fact, if she wanted to make some new ~~frieeeeeeeeeends~~, maybe she should make it easier to find them.

“Helllooooooooo,” she called out, her voice somehow twisting into something childish and high-pitched, a tone of voice she would have previously thought impossible and irritating. Actually, she still thought it irritating.

With some amount of triumph, she pushed open the door and moved into a room that was remarkably like the last one, only the walls were bright pink and everything else was made of chocolate. Having seen (or felt) the room before, Eureka just moved on to the now easily-seen door. “Hellooooo, frieeeeeend, come oooooout, let’s make nice before you die! It’ll be an accident, probably! Heeeeelllooooooo!”

She couldn’t help but break off some chocolate and as she scarfed one piece of chocolate desk down, she waved another piece wildly in the air. “I have chocolaaaaaate! There’s sooooo much chocolate here! Let’s make s’mores! Friends do that! If we can’t find firewood, maybe we can use yoooouuu, friiieeeeend!”

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

Pulling together a good ol’ revolution was still satisfying, but as the omnipotent pincushion set eyes (sort of?) on the Prestidigitator again, he remembered he had strayed a bit far from his original plan of killing him and anybody involved with him. Of course, it wasn’t like many opportunities were presenting themselves and it generally wasn’t a very good idea to barge screaming at the Game Master with no other plan than to break anything that was immediately reachable, as well as breakable.

No plan was readily forming, which was frustrating, but Laguja did recognize an all-in-one opportunity-pride-carelessness blob the size of a city when it heard about, ah, say, the knife that could kill anybody. It was almost laughably overkill. And a tad suspicious.

It’d be stupid to ignore such a weapon, but also stupid to try to lead the attack. As usual, the pin cushion found that the best solution was to give it to someone else he reasonably trusted to not shit up anything and stand back and experiment a bit.

There were two problems, though. For one, despite the chaos, Laguja had felt one of the most malleable minds snuff out. Riko was dead, he was at least somewhat sure (not too surprising), and thus any mind malarkey would have to be done upon the less suitable ones that were remaining. He would have to search one of the other contestants out and see which one could actually be to his advantage.

The second problem was infuriatingly frustrating and it stemmed from the ‘search one of the others out’ thing – the power loss. He couldn’t really sense any minds. And though he hadn’t tried yet, all his mind tricks were probably down the tubes as well, which made the whole skeleton-of-a-plan pretty damn useless unless he could use what paltry persuasion powers he had left to manipulate or if one of the others happened to be willing to associate with him and trust him enough to try his ideas out. Considering his previous record with the others, which involved not talking to them at all, looking a bit creepy sometimes, and fighting one of them, he wasn’t very optimistic about this.

He suddenly heard very light-hearted singing. Lyrics bounced around in the air, speaking of funtimes and friendships and games and death. The singer was delightfully insane and very open-minded about the idea of violence.

Well, he supposed he oughta start somewhere.

Muriegro finally moved, ears straining to follow the muffled music. If he was thinking anything at all, the pincushion certainly didn’t know.

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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
In an instant, Syvex found himself not tumbling through an endless expanse of clouds, but instead lying on a bed made of pork chops inside of what in some very strange circumstances might have passed for a ritzy hotel room. Very strange circumstances, in this case, would involve a hotel being made entirely of meat. Disoriented from the mid-air clash with his nemesis, Syvex slowly hoisted himself from his resting position and flopped to the ground with a sickening squelch and a spurt of blood from the floor. In disgusted surprise, Syvex immediately clung to the wall, a much less sickening slab of tenderloin. Any hunger Syvex may have possessed was long gone, and he thus failed to cartoonishly take a bite out of the upholstery. He instead very quickly made his way to the door, discovering in disgust that it was just as raw as the floor. He quickly turned the handle and threw the door open, then jumped out into the hall.

Now standing in a much more reasonable hallway made mostly of clocks (none of which were in sync), Syvex finally had time to think. Who had even died in the previous round? Despite Syvex's best intentions, the only person he was sure hadn't died was Tamerlane. It could have been the cultist-looking guy. Syvex had barely even seen him the whole battle, so it didn't matter all that much if he died. It could have been Ripper or Riko. The latter was much more useful than the former, and Syvex still wasn't entirely sure that he could trust the pirate. If one of them had died, Syvex hoped it was Blackmask.

Syvex became uneasy. It could have been Eureka. He hadn't stayed with her; he had just dropped her off in an elevator and walked away! He didn't make sure that they got the Malevolence's tentacle out of her, he didn't make sure of anything! He had just waltzed off and let her get captured by the sandman, and she could very well have died while Syvex decided to be an idiot and not kill him outright when he had the chance.

No, no, no. She couldn't have been dead. The odds were against her being dead. He would find her, and he would protect her from whatever psychopath was left in the "Abominable Fricasse" or whatever the hell it was called.

But between Syvex and Eureka stood a labyrinth. What had the voice said? Something about an item in the middle of the place which horribly distorted the building, and something about an instant-death knife in it. Apparently, the building also crippled everyone's non-physical powers. Syvex hadn't payed much attention in the meatroom because of the bright lighting, but in the dim hallway Syvex noted his utter lack of vision. He could barely see fifteen feet away, and seeing through walls was out of the question. Syvex sighed. After all that effort, he was still weak. His regeneration probably wouldn't even work all that well as long as he was here. His normal approach of bum-rushing everything in his path would only serve to get him killed. Portals weren't even a factor anymore.

Syvex turned around to face the open, bleeding meat door, from which a horrible stench emanated. Next to this aperture was a room number plate, no different from one you'd see in a reasonable hotel. No different, that is, except for the number. The inscription on the plate was a mash of unrecognizable symbols, most of which Syvex had never seen before. The serpent slowly reached out an arm to touch the plate, but immediately flinched back when he discovered the plate was made of an extremely hot metal, not unlike a stovetop. The pain from the burn was severe, much more than Syvex was used to. The power-dampening field had evidently reduced his pain-tolerance as a side-effect to the loss of his regeneration.

Clutching tightly the less-than-half-full bottle of Château de Caliginosity, Syvex started in an arbitrary direction down the ticking hallway. Around a corner, the hallway suddenly became one made entirely of sponge, and then one made of glass. The glass hallway seemed to stop suddenly at a wall, but upon slight inspection it appeared that the hallway actually continued straight up. Perplexed, Syvex began scaling the wall, passing countless doors made of materials ranging from dry ice to cherry Jell-O. Still tilted to the side, the hallway angled several times, twisting around in a snake-like fashion with no semblance of pattern.

After several minutes of random, clueless wandering, Syvex eventually caught wind of a voice in the distance. He made his way toward the voice, the rough, scratchy accent of which became clearer by the second. Blackmask was definitely nearby, and Syvex was growing closer by the second. After climbing halfway up another vertical hallway, Syvex reached a door made of solid gold, from behind which the voice was emanating. Syvex took a few moments to mull over his options. Ripper had briefly been his "ally", though after the incident on top of the train Syvex couldn't be certain. Although, in honesty, the incident took place in the mind and didn't actually make much sense to the serpent. The pirate was both weak and disarmed anyway, so it was safe enough to at least try.

Syvex knocked on the door.
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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Ripper Blackmask leaned on a railing parallel to the wall, breathing heavily, but smiling widely. The Core was back, and god help her if it'd get lost again. Only after staggering back up did the pirate realize what was wrong with the room. It appeared to be an entrance hall, though one without a front door, and a well-furnished one at that. Once the massive, blue-carpeted central staircase ascended past the second floor, however, everything began twisting about in a way that someone who's never seen an Escher print can't very easily explain. Stairs cralwed along the wall, potted plants hung upside down from orphaned ledges, and more than one door was lodged in the floor.

Blackmask sighed and experimentally opened o0ne, and was relieved to discover that unlike that stupid mansion it didn't lead to another room through impossible folds of space-time; rather, it merely opened up to a couple inches of maple flooring. Satisfied with this outcome, she strolled along a hallway jutting out at a 25-degree incline and wallpapered with what appeared to be honeycombs, thinking. Flask monkey's dead, and firefly girl's long gone; don't want to deal with cloth-mage, and I'm hopin' to stay in the serpent's good graces... guess that leaves the priest, and Sandman. The pirate glanced at a lopsided painting of a tiger lily, then opened one of several doors and stumbled into a room of blindingly bright gold. "Well, hello there! Anyways, I ought to find a way to kill that dirt-headed swordsman, but I'd surely lose in a straight fight."

Ripper raised her mask for a moment to spit on the ground. "No weapons for the moment, either, which means it's nothing but fisticuffs and eye-poking..." She scowled, and kicked the ground. "Figures that when I need that vapid vulpine, he's nowhere to be found!"

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

As it happened, the man in the fox mask was equally unhappy with the constraints of the round, though it was hard to tell, as he concealed this behind the wide grin he pointed at Sixth. "So, you take my contestant's things, and Teeeeesla Jr. still couldn't wiiiiiiin, eh?"

The snake-masked man scowled, in no mood to listen to First's nonsense. "Quiet."

First responded by doing a twirl and emitting a burst of laughter. "Such a shaaaaaame that I'll be winning, as always. A change of pace from coooooonstantly humiliating you all would have been quite niiiiiice, but I'm afraid--"

Sixth's jittering hand clasped shut, shattering the glass it held. "One more word, and that's your arm, First." The fox-masked man shrugged and traipsed out of the room, still giggling. Satisfying. Nothing beats a good gloat when you're feeling down. He withdrew an elegant pocketwatch from the depths of his pocket, examining its eight hands closely. Ooh, interesting. Anyway, worst comes to worst, I cheat. I'm certainly not above doing so to protect my interests. He snapped it closed, and continued on, humming a nameless tune as he went.

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

There was a knock on the door, and Ripper was unsure how to react to it. After a moment of deliberation, she realized that it would eventually be opened anyway, and dumped a couple sapphires into The Core. She was disappointed in how dampened the rush was here, but at the same time, ready to run at a moment's notice.

Opening the door, she came face-to-face (as it were, given his lack of any facial features besides a mouth) with Syvex. "...Ahoy there, serpent."

"Hello, pirate."

The pirate coughed. "I, uh, don't intend to hurt you. Least not here, when you've almost certainly got me outmatched."

Syvex inched his way into the room. "Your honesty is very refreshing. I don't seek to kill you either... for the moment."

From behind her mask, Ripper smiled slightly. "That's good to know. So tell me, you old blaggard, who you want us to be going after?"

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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Eureka’s wanderings slid to a halt when she noticed that some man guy was walking in her direction. She swung her new vase friend dreamily.

“Hiiiiiii, I finally foouuund you,” she said, gently leering at this new figure. He stood tall and said nothing. It could have had something to do with how his mouth was stitched shut.

They stood in awkward silence for a moment. “Okay, now you turn around and count to twenty and I’ll hide.” Her vase swung like a pendulum.

The hideously insane weren’t easy to manipulate, especially without access to the usual mind-altering powers. Words would supposedly work on her, perhaps. But it was anybody’s guess what she would want to hear, or what combination of words would get her to do what he wanted her to do. He could barely tell what type of insanity she even had. The violent kind, obviously…

‘You can’t kill me?’ No, no…that was just taunting her. ‘Let’s work together?’ Maybe build upon that idea for a bit…

“Turn around,” Eureka insisted. “If you don’t, it’s cheating.”

The man just stood there. He looked as immovable as a tree. She was getting very tempted to cut him down. Can you cut trees down with vases? Who even cares about stupid similes?

The vase swung upwards violently and sped sideways at the man’s head.

He blocked it with one hand and the vase shattered as though it were made of china.

This surprised both of them, though the man showed no change of expression. Eureka stared at the shards of brass, at the handle in her hand, and then back at the man.

Now seemed a good time as any to start communicating with her. Couldn’t make any illusions, so it would have to be done the old fashioned way…

’Let’s not fight. We can work together. I can be very helpful.’

There was more staring involved. Laguja wasn’t sure if she heard him. Or if he even managed to transmit the message. This was just so unbelievably frustrating.

Wait, she moved! Eureka smacked the side of her head as though she were dealing with a particularly difficult pair of headphones. Maybe he should try again?

’There is a powerful knife in this place. I can lead you to it,’ he bluffed.

Again, Eureka took a while to react. Or…she might be reacting…?

“Oh, friiieeeend, friendy friendy friend friend,” she cooed much too loudly for comfort. Muriegro stiffened slightly as she slapped him cordially on the back. “You went and broke this thing I had! That wasn’t nice. You owe me a new kill thing. Let’s go find a new kill thing together!” And she headed through the next door, not bothering to see if her new friend would follow.

…Well, whether through a little bargaining or not, she ended up doing what he wanted…so, that was good…?

Muriegro followed her silently.

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Re: The Phenomenal Fracas! (GBS2G6): [Round Four: The Warped Edifice]
Originally posted on MSPA by Anomaly.

"Before I answer that, I need to know. Do you know who died in the last round?" Syvex seemed strangely uneasy; unusual for the serpent, given his usual demeanor.

"Aye, it was Riko."

Syvex immediately breathed a slight, but audible sigh of relief. Though it lowered his spirits that one of the "friendly" contestants had died, at least Eureka was (temporarily) safe.

"Do you know how he died?"

"He, er-" Ripper paused suddenly. She certainly couldn't tell him the truth if she wanted to live. Fortunately for her, the serpent wasn't one to question small things, and a quick lie would probably be enough for him.

"He was overcome by th' riots before I could get to him. The lubbers broke near every bone in his body."

"I didn't think he'd have a chance if he was attacked. Never seemed like he could really fight. But anyway, I think we should kill either Sandman or that cultist guy."

"Muriegro? Aye, without his powers he shouldn't be much of a problem."

"Neither should Tamerlane, after I ripped off his arm. Maybe he's bleeding to death right now. But either way, there's not much use sitting around in here."

Ripper gave the solid-gold room a quick, longing glance, before starting toward the door (the normal one, not the sideways one). Syvex followed her into the honeycomb-lined hallway, quickly slithering his way to a turn further along. Ripper tailed him closely, turning into another hallway which twisted along its length, straightening out again when the ceiling and floor had switched places. Chandeliers of solid lapis lazuli lay smashed upon the ceiling (now the floor), and solid massess of leaf and paper stood in for doors.

"Shh!" Syvex suddenly hissed, stopping in place.

Listening in silence, Ripper could barely make out the sound of a constant sort of rambling, increasing and decreasing in volume at essentially random but never stopping entirely. Syvex silently motioned forward, slithering along the floor/ceiling with Ripper stealthily following behind. Rounding a corner, the two spontaneously froze in their tracks. Hunched over against a wall of charcoal was a dirty, ragged figure, bearing torn-up clothing and wild, mottled hair. A scraggly beard hung from his chin, but the rest of his face was obscured as he babbled incoherent nonsense to the empty hallway. Most notable was the crumpled-up piece of paper he was holding, possibly one of the documents that Second guy had mentioned.

Syvex and Ripper slowly inched closer, intent on retrieving the paper without Insane Guy noticing them (not that the Insane Guy was noticing much, being insane and all). Without warning, the piercing sound of a dial tone reverberated through Syvex's head, and he fell against the wall in surprise. The ragged, wild-eyed man immediately bolted down the hall, pursued closely by the pirate, as a feminine voice sounded in the serpent's ear canal.


"Hey. Is this Syvex?"

Syvex paused in confusion for an uncomfortably long amount of time. "What?"

"I said, is this Syvex?"

"I, uh. Yeah. It's Syvex. Who is this?"

"Alison Broderburg. I'm guessing you're in another of the battles?" Syvex could hear the distinct sounds of gunfire and artillery in the background.

"Battles? Wait. You're saying there's more of these?"

"There's a few of them, at least."

"Damn it..." More sounds of battle. "What's going on over there, anyway?"

"Oh, there's some robots attacking this military base I'm hiding out in. They haven't found me yet."

Syvex shuddered. A warzone. He could only take comfort in the fact that he wasn't there. "Well, just be careful. Three people have already died over here, and I don't think it's going to stop anytime soon. Just hope we can get away from the mask guy before... you know, nevermind."

"Mask guy? Was he wearing a green cloak?"

"I, uh, can't tell you that. I can't actually see colors. I take it you're human?"

"Yeah. You're not?"

"I guess I was, er, created by humans, if that counts for something. An... experiment, I guess."

"An experiment?" She paused briefly. "So you're some kind of monster, then?"

"I, uh... I guess that's kind of right." Myriad painful memories briefly resurfaced in the serpent's mind. "I'd rather not talk about it, though."

"Okay, then." For being trapped in a military base which was actively under attack, Alison seemed almost unnervingly calm.

Syvex noticed Ripper shouting to him from out of sight. "I need to go, the pirate's trying to get my attention. Nice talking to you, I guess."

"Okay. Talk to you later, I guess. Bye."

The sounds of gunfire ceased as Alison hung up, and Syvex was once again overtaken by utter silence. He quickly slithered down the corridor to Ripper.

"Sorry about that. Did you catch that guy?"

"The hell were you doing? The lubber was bloody insane, I couldn't keep up."

"I was talking to some girl, somehow. I'm not exactly sure how she called me."

"Nevermind that. There's something you probably want to see."

Ripper started off down the hallway, leading Syvex through a series of confusing twists and turns, ultimately coming to a revolving door made not of glass, but of solid diamond. Syvex stood still for an uncomfortably long time, doing something that in the less ocularly-challenged would qualify as staring. Without a word, he slowly slithered forward, then ripped the door from its less-sturdy foundations (made mostly of fruitcake) and tossed it forward.

Five seconds later, Syvex and Ripper heard the door hit the ground.

What the two saw before them could not, by anyone with any semblance of sanity, be called a "hotel". Rather, what Ripper saw before her. Syvex was rather vision-impaired by the power-draining properties of the hotel, but he could at the very least tell that they were somewhere enormous.

A massive, cavernous expanse stretched far away from the miniscule entrance the two had entered from, seemingly carved out entirely by hand. Huge pieces of the twisted hotel snaked through the expanse, a number of intact rooms and corridors forming bridges between a series of odd structures. Throughout the room were a number of large pillars of hotel rooms, stretching from the ground far below to the ceiling far above. Most prominent, however, was what appeared to be a massive temple in the center of the expanse. The enormous pillars, of which there were eight, surrounded the central structure in a perfect octagon. The central structure itself was more-or-less a massive pyramid, evocative of the pyramids of Mesoamerican societies.

Throughout the "town", a number of figures could barely be made out, but most were clearly recognizable as human. Some seemed oddly distorted - a bit too tall, arms a bit too long - but Ripper assumed (or, more correctly, hoped) that it was just a trick of distance.

Ripper then noticed that Syvex was missing. A few moments of glancing around revealed that he was already well on his way down the narrow staircase which connected the entrance to one of the "bridges". As she noticed two more clearly deformed figures shambling forward to meet the strange new arrival, she began sprinting down the stairs.


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