The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 3: Ark of Hope]

The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 3: Ark of Hope]
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Ampersand scrambled across the meadows, sneaking along the forest and hot-footing it away from the odd people speaking and fighting. The automotron continued south-ways to the warehouse, still trying to avoid any trouble from the mysterious group that seemed to appear. When it reached the warehouse, or rather what once was, the warehouse, it realized that this could be a bit more difficult than it thought.

Triumphian recovered from the tackle first. Surveying his situation, he began to feel fatigue from fighting multiple opponents in quick succession. While he had certainly slain thousands at a time, it was not very often that he dealt with those of a size and strength similar to his own. The pope scowled as he realized that he would have to make a quick escape in order to recover his lost strength. But with the debris in the way, he would first have to make sure that this Redclaw wasn't going to sneak up on him when his back was turned.

Ampersand was understandably confused at the significant lack of warehouse where there should have been one. All it saw was a cloud of dust that was slowly receding and a large amount of wood and metal debris on the floor. Overall, it was addled, and worried about these subtle changes in the once empty and sterile area. These feelings were quickly replaced when it saw two eyes coming out of the smoke right toward it.

Redclaw's attempts at finding his opponent through sight was quickly foiled by the smoke filling up his nose. Instead, he decided to walk in a direction and wait for the smoke to clear, making sure to keep himself on guard for more of the dinosaur's magic tricks. When he emerged from the debris, he did not see the Lagren's holy man, but something that was in his eyes, much more vile. He saw a metal man, human in shape, but covered completely from head to toe in metal.

"Salutations! Peace?" Ampersand's electronic voice emitted out, fearful of the hulking beast in front of it.

Redclaw's eyes widened as the electronic tone of Ampersand reached his ears. The sound was utterly sickening, almost mocking in how it reminded him of the technology that he so loathed. Ampersand backed away as Redclaw stepped slowly with every intent to slay the mechanical abomination. He brought down his claw on Ampersand, who quickly avoided it and then proceeded to run away, back into the debris. Redclaw let out a small growl as he leaped after the robot, who began to repeatedly yell out, "Assistance, anger unwarranted! Please assist!"

Triumphian had just cleared his way past the warehouse's remains, he heard the electronic voice calling. He was surprised to hear what seemed to be his language. Looking back at the debris, he asked "Who goes there? This is the Leader of the Holy Lagren Empire. State your name."

Due to the convoluted nature of alien languages, and the glitches involved, Ampersand under stood the following, "Who ...... Leader Lagren .... State name." Moving around to avoid Redclaw's slashes, Ampersand replied quickly, "Ampersand, automation, please assist! Beast attacking."

Positing that the beast was Redclaw, and definitively not wanting to allow something capable of speaking his tongue just be destroyed, despite his somewhat fatigued state, Triumphian clasped his hands together, concentrating, and sending an empowering beam toward the robotic voice.

Just as the light hit the scurrying robot, it tripped. Redclaw, focused on the mechanical abomination brought down his claws on the helpless machine... and found himself stopped at the surface. He attempted to slash, stab, and even bite at the robot, but for some reason it seemed impervious to his attacks. As he was about to throw and lift the robot, he was tackled by the pope. As soon as the werewolf was dropped to the floor, Triumphian let out a bright flash, stunning him.

Grabbing the poly-lingual robot and running as fast as he could, hopefully somewhere relatively safe, Triumphian left the warehouse area to the meadow.

Ampersand, still impervious by the pope's spell, did not feel anything as the Lagren half carried, half dragged him away from the werewolf's ire. Happy at its survival, it simply said, "Thanks!"
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Augustus stared at the book. It read "Encyclopedia". The most surprising thing was that he could actually understand the word.

He vaguely recalled the Apprentice's explanation of the book; something about how there was a universe of knowledge within. That sounded promising; he opened it up, hoping that perhaps it might offer some insight as to raising his god out of the lake.

Needless to say, Augustus was more than a little disappointed to find that the pages were blank. He didn't realize that Vex's universe had no language like his own; the book simply couldn't understand what he wanted.

At least, not the words. After about a minute of furiously flipping through, something formed on the pages. It was a diagram, marked with symbols Augustus didn't recognize; but the basic diagram was clear enough. A right triangle, with a square formed on each side. To Vex, it was known as the Pythagorean Theorem, among a galaxy's worth of other names; to Augustus, it was best known as Ganfrell's Third Equality. Regardless, it was a basic truth of geometry, one that was shared between the two universes. In a right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.

Similar diagrams began to fill the book as Augustus held it. Though frustratingly vague, there were some results he hadn't seen before, which piqued his curiosity. He wondered if somewhere among these, he might find an equation relevant to his planned salvage operation.

His ponderings were cut short, however, as the book suddenly flew right out of his hands. Unbeknownst to the Divine Arbiter, as he had been poring over the book and studying the diagrams, Vex had managed to get his bearings and make the Encyclopedia move.

With a deep sigh, Augustus watched the book fly off. He considered pursuing it, but then he noticed the birds nearby.

Specifically, he noticed one speaking to the unfamiliar alien creature that had been introduced as one of his opponents. Or apparently speaking. From what he could hear, their screeches sounded somewhat similar.

Might one of these birds be able to understand him, as well? It seemed an avenue worth investigating. He turned to the birds gathered around the mannequin and yelled.

"Can any of you understand me? I am Augustus the Divine Arbiter, and if you assist me, you may be spared the wrath of Azungrada!"

The birds returned his invitation with a series of incomprehensible squawks and screeches. He couldn't even tell if any of them were actually trying to talk to him.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

Chordeilis! You're not hurt?

I'll be fine. Simply allow me to-

Ahahahahaha you think I give a shit, you preening asshole!?

Ignore September, Vizier. September, do all of us a favour and go lend Si'nit a hand.

Big fucking words for someone with their beak halfway up Lucchese's ass, fucker!

I am now using my civility and self-control, both of which you, September, woefully lack, to ignore you. Vizier? Any other aspiring leaders of our contingent? Don't be shy, we all know how terrible we all are, so there's no need to be coy about it. Shall we all begin?


The fuck is that swan doing?

Well, he
did say he spoke the book's language, and seeing as we couldn't agree that one person should be in charge of exits...

I don't see the problem, didn't those jackasses say we wanted the book as an ally anyway?


Right. Would anyone care to tell me what you idiots have been doing while I've attempted to make some semblance of

Gyahahahahahahaha oh man guys guys guys get a load of Luchesse, he thinks he's helping

Would you like me to keep making your life miserable, Marshall?

I don't give a shit General Hootsworth gyahahaha you are just too precious



Luchesse could've sympathised with the Ithaqu at this point, though he didn't know it. Here he was, an honest military commander trying to serve his own self-interests to the best of his ability with the resources he had available, and the resources were nothing but self-interested cowards. Luchesse was too incensed at the sorry state he must've been presenting to nobody in particular to see the hypocrisy; the prospect of sending his personal scum of the myriad earths into kamikaze combat under his command didn't make him feel much better.

When the scum of the earth exercised blatant insubordination. Or questioned his command. Or spent the entire time Luchesse was fighting beak and claw dryly commentating to that book (Good god he hated that swan).

Or failed to act like a cohesive army in any way, shape, or form. The fact Luchesse would've expected no less of these feathered dregs only infuriated him further.

Luchesse screeched some call to arms to the swan, who didn't even bother to look busy as it waited patiently for Vex to cease his invectives and get his vessel moving. It hissed at Augustus, hazarding a nip at his ankles, before waddling off after the book. The mannequin was already strolling oddly sedately toward the fringe of the woods, Luchesse scraaawing an eloquent request for privacy from atop its head.

In one belt-pouch, concealed under a fold of cloth the colour of a bruised dawn sky, five gold coins clinked merrily.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Somehow, searching for a coin that your adversary had hidden while said adversary was sitting and watching only a few feet away seemed humiliating. Saturday certainly wasn’t sure if spiders could laugh, but this one seemed to be doing a good job of it. He had released her without thinking and she immediately sat down, bending her four legs into a seemingly-impossible cross-legged position, and started to leer. And watch. And spider-laugh.

“Ah could kill ya!” he suddenly roared at her, causing her to suddenly jump to her feet and put her dukes up. At least she was wary. At least she still considered him some sort of threat.

But he couldn’t. Couldn’t kill her, anyways. Somehow, he wasn’t feeling up to it. Today just wasn’t a good day. And as long as she wasn’t attacking him (for now), it was probably better not to start a fight. Maybe? The point was, he needed to find his coin again before it was considered ‘lost,’ insert preferred definition of lost here, whatever that was. Maybe there was a time limit. That made sense. A certain amount of time until the coin was considered lost and then…something. Preferably, he’d just fail and be taken home again, he supposed. Preferably. But it wasn’t like many details of this whatchit was really given so maybe he shouldn’t press his luck with so many unknowns.

Saturday had spaced out so long that he almost didn’t realize that spider-woman had sat down again until he came out of it. He briefly tried to trace her legs and figure out how exactly she held that position or where her legs were bending and crossing in the first place, but promptly gave up. He resumed his search. She resumed snickering.

Thought she was so clever, huh? More like dull. He never thought he would use ‘dull’ to describe a giant, clothed spider, even if it was partly because he was feeling spiteful.

Yeah, spiderbitch, go ahead and laugh. You’ll get your comeuppance later, just you wait.

Did he check this patch of grass before? He was pretty sure he checked this patch of grass before.

He sighed and stretched and gazed upwards for no reason at all. Then he moved closer to the forest. Behind him, he heard the spiderbitch follow.

Why was she even following? Did she seriously have nothing better to do, what with, like, seven other guys to hassle or whatever? Maybe she was staying close by just so she could kill him as soon as he found his coin.

Maybe she was sticking around for…other reasons.

The implications of that thought worried Saturday and he promptly never thought about it again. He had a coin to find, anyways, couldn’t stop and think about the ladies all the time. A coin that he had to find right now, when nobody at all was harassing him at all. No penguins, no spiders, no birds…

…it wasn’t going to last long at all, was it.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Augustus sighed in frustration. These birds were useless, and the fleeing encyclopedia was little better. It was clear that he was unlikely to find any genuine help; he would most likely have to construct a salvage device himself.

The Divine Arbiter scanned his surroundings. He could see a forest in one direction, and the ruins of a building in another. Both were some distance away. Augustus decided the building was more likely to contain usable materials, whatever state it was in. He made his way towards the remnants of the warehouse and left the squawking birds behind.

Not long after, he came across a man scouring the ground, and a large spider standing uncomfortably close by. The man suddenly looked up and smiled at him.

Mr. Saturday's smile unnerved most men, but Augustus had lost nearly all his fear. He believed firmly in his superiority over all beings, save Azungrada himself. Saturday was nothing more than another insect to be judged by the Divine Arbiter. He would have laughed at the suggestion that he should fear this man, even with his patron god lying at the bottom of the lake.

But Augustus could still be surprised. As he was when the man spoke to him.

"Well, hello there! Augustus the Divine Arbiter, I believe? Could you lend me a hand here?"

He spoke Augustus' language!

"Your insignificant problem is of no concern to me. However, if you assist me, Azungrada may look upon you favorably and spare your pathetic life."

"Bit late for that, I'm afraid," Saturday said, still smiling. "But it sounds to me like you're aiming to make a deal. Why don't you tell me about it, friend? Maybe we can work something out."

The man's impudence irritated Augustus, but he was still the first being to actually communicate. Grudgingly, the Divine Arbiter decided to cooperate.

"Azungrada, the Great Destroyer, has given me a test," he explained. "I am to retrieve his physical body from the depths of the nearby lake. Assist me in this task, and Azungrada may look favorably upon you."

"So, wait. You're saying your god fell in a lake?" Saturday said, grinning.

"It is a test!" Augustus shouted. "I must prove I am still worthy to serve as Divine Arbiter! Azungrada expects much of his prophet."

"Right, got it." Saturday had dealt with the religious type before; they tended to be sensitive, but they also generally upheld their end of a bargain. "Well, the favor of Azungrada is great and all, but I'd appreciate it if you did something for me first. Nothing big, just a tiny little matter in fact."

"What is it?" Augustus asked, clearly annoyed.

"Help me find my goddamn coin."

Cepra just stood around and watched as the two humans argued. She wondered what they were on about. Probably some boring human thing.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Sanzh.

Cthaasa was bleeding. Blood ran freely along the torn skin. Cthaasa stood up, uncertain of his balance. The ithaqu attempted to put some of his weight on the injured limb, and immediately recoiled as pain spiked along it. The wounded appendage was nigh-useless-- the gyrfalcon's beak had done a surprising amount of damage.

The alien watched the mannequin leave, wishing that it was within his power to destroy that wooden vessel. Cthaasa could almost feel the birds contained within Parliament watching him, regardless of what they were actually doing. He shivered, thinking of his encounter with his test subject and now-mockingbird. While part of him thought the passerine was a nonentity, he still regarded the former ithaqu as a threat that would need to be dealt with. Sometime, when he wasn't in imminent danger of bleeding out.

The ithaqu limped away from the lake, making sure to avoid being noticed as best he could-- he doubted anyone was there to notice him, but even then he did not want to be preyed on. He wished he was back in the armored pod standard to commanders-- or, better yet, back in his laboratory, away from the assembly of degenerates he was grouped with.

As Cthaasa walked, he idly reminisced about times when his life was in less danger-- even his penance in the military was better than this, or the experiments he had performed, or the times when
he had performed esoteric tasks for the Controller for the promise of another fail-safe, keeping all of his plans safe from disruption--

The leech paused. He had no recollection of anyone called the Controller. Had someone tampered with his mind? The ithaqu couldn't dismiss the possibility that his own experiments in consciousness had somehow left him in a state where he could be equally manipulated-- that was something he never bothered to test. He stopped fully, allowing himself to think more fully. There were many abilities his experiments had not tested, but were nonetheless theoretically possible. Perhaps now was an opportune moment to perform a field trial?

Cthaasa closed his multitude of eyes, isolating himself from that sense as he lapsed further into thought. He could feel the familiar thrum of his implanted enhancements as they connected to neuronal fibers, and felt a host of possibilities begin to emerge. He began to make an attempt at scanning for other consciousnesses-- he wasn't entirely sure how, but surely it was possible.

In response, Cthaasa felt the vague presence of others-- the familiar pulse of neurons as others thought and acted. But there was something else-- thought without neurons, much more noticeable than the other consciousnesses. It was certainly an anomaly, Cthaasa assumed that much. Whether it was the source of these false memories remained to be seen.

A sharp pang of pain brought him out of his trance-like state. He needed to find this mental anomaly-- as well as retrieve his coin, get back at his former test subject, and at some point reacquire the priest as a thrall, but those were all extraneous goals for now. He picked up speed as best he could, limping with an odd gallop.

It was then, just as he began to draw near to the anomaly, that the imposing figure of Pope Triumphian emerged-- a figure that was in the way of his present objective, and that Cthaasa was in no state to fight-- and not likely to use his psychic abilities against. The ithaqu began to speak, his voice raspy and parched.


Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.


Triumphan passed the comment to Ampersand, staring at the robot and waiting for him to repeat what Cthaasa said.

Ampersand, realizing that he was being waited for, replied "Ampersand unaware!"

This left Triumphian slightly distraught, but he wasn't exactly going to get up in arms about it, as it was just one word. However... he did notice that Cthaasa was surprised, and almost scared. While the leech was visibly injured and looked pretty pathetic, after Ampersand spoke he almost reeled.

According to the instigator of the event, Cthaasa was an Ithaqu with various abilities, an experimenter exiled to war. Triumphian could use someone versed in science on his side, as it wasn't his best subject, and it in this state it would be very easy to sway him under his god. However, there was the issue of language. After the Ithaqu reeled from the robots words, he doubted that he would enjoy a prolonged conversation with it, so Triumphian would have to resort to something else.

Now, the Lagran were very situational conquerors. While it was belief and power that led them to ruling their planet, taking every planet by force or by just relying on their Pope was recognized as a stupid and impossible idea. No, the building of the interplanetary empire included a very elaborate form of social manipulation. Miracle working was generally the first step to this. Another common option was the learning of languages. In his tenure, Triumphian learned how to speak many different languages but he had never seen or heard of any of the other aliens in the group. But... he had dealt with a race of leeches before.

Even if he does understand what I say the odds of it even meaning the same thing is unlikely. Triumphian mused a bit further, but eventually decided to go with it.

The resulting sound was similar enough for Cthaasa to understand, but... it was similar to speaking middle English to someone who knew only modern English. There were words that were similar, but it was somewhat of a chore for the Ithaqu to understand.

The gist was that Triumphian wanted to strike a deal. In a very intense and almost planned destruction of his language, Cthaasa was presented with two choices. The first was to join Triumphian and swear allegiance to him and his god, aiding him in the contest and with converting others. Then the Pope would not only heal him, but empower him. The other option was "not thing I know to say." The answer was obvious.

While Triumphian was happily adding Cthaasa to his system of belief, Ampersand grew bored. The nice reptile that saved him from the hairy guy was interesting and fun, but he wasn't helping with his achievements. Or at least he didn't think he was helping. It was very difficult to know when no one was really clear.

Without another way to go, the robot decided he would wander back towards the forest, hoping that someone else would allow a clearer path to fulfillment.

Viscount was worried. He had no idea what was being said, Probably thanks to that no good apprentice, The Controller would have given him an edge, but he observed the space leech and the holy dinosaur speak civilly and then he saw the latter heal the former. This was not good. Feeling a bit more hunger coming on, the cloud wisped toward the pair, only to see Triumphian suddenly look round in a half frenzied panic and then drag the leech off toward the forest. If he wasn't mistaken, there were more people there. They could come together. That would be worse.
Blast it all...
The cloud followed.
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Akumu.

A deep blue lake sat in the center of a flowering alpine meadow, amongst which a menagerie of beings circled each other warily, metaphorically if not in fact. That meadow itself sat in the center of a deep forest, dappled shadows giving way to a deep blackness where the air lay heavy with an earthy scent and a strange power. Beyond that deepness, the shadows ebbed back again, and under the thinning branches a handful of canvas tents stood in neat rows.

Within one of these tents, ranks of folding metal chairs facing a projector screen were occupied by restless young men in a motley approximation of uniforms. They were made of rumpled, heavy fabrics of various green and brown in various styles, the unifying feature a patch sewn on the right shoulder depicting a man's silhouette in a white circle surrounded by black, separated by a thin red border. An older man pushed back the flap of the tent and strode quickly to the front of the assembly. The small space was filled with the clatter of pushed back chairs as all the men shot to their feet and drew themselves up rigidly to their full heights. The older man was dressed similarly to the rest of the men, though his clothes were smartly pressed and his left shoulder bore a patch of three nested chevrons. His close-cropped hair was graying at the temples, and the beginnings of a gut pushed against his shirt. He surveyed the ranks of earnest youths before him and seemed to approve of what he saw.

“At ease, men,” he said, gesturing that they should take their seats. He produced a small clicker and remotely powered up the projector in the center of the tent.

“I must begin by thanking all of you for giving yourselves to this cause, for refusing to sit back and let humanity be pushed into the sea by affronts against God and man. I am Sergeant Peter Jameson, though around here I'm mostly just Sarge.”

The projector lamp had warmed up by the end of this short speech and displayed on the screen was an insignia identical to the one on each of their shoulders, with the words “Deus Intra Homo Solus” beneath. A green point jittered underneath the words as Sarge gestured his clicker at it.

“This is why we're here. Now let me tell about what here is.”

- - -
Back in the meadow, a singed and disoriented Redclaw staggered to his feet. White spots danced in his vision as the last of Triumphan's blast of light wore off. He had really had quite enough of this crap from an opponent who would not stay in a fight. Lifting his nose to the wind, he picked the direction that seemed best and set off towards the woods. With luck he could ascertain the direction of the Lakes and put all of this ridiculousness behind him.

As the light gave way to shadow and the grass beneath his paws gave way to spongy loam, he could feel the tension melting away. This was much more his style than the open spaces of the meadow, not to mention the unnatural structures and beings the had populated it. He had by now dropped to all fours and was beginning to lose himself in the sensations of the forest when a voice boomed out from all around, stopping him in his tracks.


Layered over this were other statements, making the voice difficult to understand at first before the different strands merged into a cohesive whole.

“I am Redclaw, son of Redtooth, Warchief of the Lakes People,” the werewolf shouted into the darkness, “I stand before you a free man, you have no authority over me and you will let me pass!”


Redclaw snorted and kept moving forward. He had made himself known, as honor demanded, but he had no obligation to continue to humor the voice. There was no further interruption until once again the trees began to thin and sunlight filtered through to ground level. In the more open spaces between the trees, Redclaw passed a familiar piece of detritus: the same vehicular remains that he had found himself on at the start of all this. With narrowed eyes, he continued out through the treeline and found his suspicions confirmed. He had somehow re-emerged in the same meadow he left just minutes before, filled with the undignified squawking of various imbeciles. With a snarl he turned and charged back into the woods.

- - -
“As you all know, robots pretending to be alive and intelligent have been wandering into towns and cities for years now. They're unnatural abominations, to be sure, but the fascist bleeding hearts in Washington decided to take the advice of some dead limey twisp and now the bots have legal personhood. Untouchable. It's disgusting, but now humanity's defenders, proud men like all of you, are persecuted as 'hateful bigots.'” Sarge sneered and made air-quotes around those last two words.

“Things weren't looking good for mankind, but then we got a lucky break,” Sarge continued, as with a click an aerial view of the lake, meadow, and surrounding forest came up on the screen, “and we found this place.”

“This is one of the primary sources of the bots, as near as we can tell. At regular intervals, one stumbles out of the woods and starts heading towards civilization. Of course, since we've shown up they haven't gotten very far.” Sarge paused and soaked in some whoops and applause from the crowd, grinning, before he continued. “But unfortunately, that's as much as we've been able to do. Here,” with another click, a red circle appeared superimposed on the aerial shot, cutting through the forest, “there is a spatial inversion barrier. Anything trying to pass through it gets flipped around and goes right back the way it came. Walking, you probably won't even notice. Running, you might feel a slight jolt as your speed flips directions. Faster than that, well...”

With another click, a film clip began to play on the screen. A device looking like a rocket engine strapped to a go-kart was set upon a set of tracks, leading towards the forest and stopping abruptly at a red line painted in the dirt. The contraption was manned by a flight-suited test pilot, who managed to look incredibly excited and seconds away from puking in terror at the same time. He put down his goggles, gave a thumbs-up, and settled his hands on the controls. When the engine lit, what came next lasted only a second and was not pretty. The kart accelerated up to blinding speed, but instead of passing the red line it hit it like a concrete wall, launching backwards at equally blinding speeds a gout of flame, chunks of metal, and the red mist that was formerly a test pilot.

Most of the audience in the presentation tent cried out in horror; a few began to retch.

“Never forget, this is serious shit we are dealing with,” Sarge barked. “This is a place from which the end of the world is pouring forth. Never let your guard down for a second. Now, let's talk about the day-to-day operations of-”

Sarge's speech was cut off suddenly by the sound of gunfire and screaming from outside. His eyes went wide and he practically flew out of the tent, bowling over some of the new recruits who had started to rise from their seats. Out towards the woods, men were lying injured or dead next to their rilfes, behind the earthen bulwarks built a few yards back from the red line. Sarge took one look at their wounds and began roaring, “Who started firing? Who the hell opened fire? You know God-damned well that you can't shoot through the barrier, you God-damned stupid pieces of holy mother of God what is that?

Just beyond the red line, drawn up to his full eight feet and standing stock still, Redclaw stood staring. His eyes burned into Peter Jameson, stripping from the man's mind any pretensions of the protections of rank, and he called out with a smoldering fury, “I am Redclaw, son of Redtooth, Warchief of the Lakes People, and I will not be detained any further. Release me immediately and you will be spared.”

“Release you? How did you even get in there? You aren't a robot, that much I know.”

Redclaw's eyes widened and his nostrils flared as he bellowed, “A robot?! You dare to even mention me in the same breath as perversions such as that? You are testing my patience, human!”

Jameson took a step backwards involuntarily, bumping into something behind him. Glancing backwards, he saw that the whole of the camp had gathered to see what was happening, and all eyes were on him. Reminding himself of the responsibilities of command and of the utter impermeability of the barrier separating them, he straightened up and strode towards the werewolf.

“Perversions, you say? It sounds like you and I might have a lot in common, Chief Redclaw. I can't let you out as things stand, but maybe I can help you help yourself, and me along the way. Yes,” Sarge nodded, looking almost straight up into Redclaw's face, “we have a lot to discuss.”

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

Yes ok I am reserving
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.


Ms. Archer hummed with satisfaction, and placed the transcript back on the top of the pile. For an inaugural meeting, she thought it had gone rather well.

Her elegant form - just disproportionate enough to seem some artist's statement to the world - was neatly arranged upon a slowly spinning executive chair, pecking diligently away at nonexistent keyboards and sorting through nonexistent dossiers. Everything - from the desk to the screens to the vaguely-proportioned, cavernous room in which she had centred herself - was a mere facade, and none of it even particularly necessary to help her personally keep her thoughts in order. No, what the "office" accorded was isolation - reprieve from the jabber and squwaks of Parliament's flock.

There was a knock, an artificial noise steeped in good manners which only happened because both parties had agreed it should've been there. Ms. Archer made no motion in particular to invite them in. Something vaguely troglodytic and heavyset marched through what the secretary had been beginning to envision was a wall. She'd have to work on that.

By the standards of his own people, Bal-Bad-Chief-of-Hillpits was certainly evil. Ms. Archer was one of those quiet admirers of Lord Avery for his unwavering ability over the years to never compare villain with villain. (She also admired him because of a few lines of script internally maintaining that power was sexy, but that wasn't anything pathological. Ms. Archer applied it as much to herself.) Bal had been accorded any power in Parliament's developing heirarchy mostly because of his stupidity, and of a background culture that clearly hadn't discovered what condescension was. Ms. Archer had, at some point in her suddenly-hectic schedule, appointed him her assistant. The lost time on conveying missives clearly enough that Bal wouldn't stuff them up was more than saved in time not having to watch her own back.

"Lunches back from outside."

"... LUNCHES?"

"Luh- Luuuuh-"

"<font size="1">LUCHESSE.

"Lunches," Bal confirmed, nodding vigorously. The secretary was immeasurably grateful that Avery's translators worked on the brute's bastard equivalent of language at all. The idiot Marshal was making quite the spectacle in the interim, him and his loud mouth and laughable attempts to take charge threatening to tear down everything the Parliamentarians had worked so hard for.

Ms. Archer sighed, stretching langurous across her desk and switching on the PA. It was her new favourite acquisition, and she was so pleased that nobody important had disagreed with her very important need for it.


A few individuals filed "in", some newcomers not looking too sure what to do with the new architecture. She shooed Bal (lovely, stupid brute) off to tell them what was what, before they could go sullying the place up with their own misconceptions. Reynard had already dragged everyone's favourite idiot marshal in, which left little choice but to kick off the negotiations again.



The book and the birdcage had finally taken their leave of the rest of the fighters, the latter strolling through dappled undergrowth while Encyclopedia hovered sedately above. The Sade, as the trumpeter swan liked to be called in a less feathered past life, was too busy pretending to be offended at the fact Vex didn't know him, to give a straight answer as to where his coin had gone. The dull whumpfs of the fish-owl's wingbeats could be periodically heard, where Luchesse continued his solitary patrols from bough to bough like a self-officious ghost.

"hare you habsolutely sure your book hmmakes no mehntion hoff me, Mister hArdayne?"

Encyclopedia had, as a matter of fact. Vex had taken one metaphorical faceful of information, and promptly done his best to think about something else. </font>"No," sighed Vex, "it doesn't."

"Hmph. hLet me take a look-"

"Cut that out!" snapped the Archivist. The swan had rather ineffectually got its beak clamped on one of Encyclopedia's corners, and judging by its irked stomping was trying to pin it under its feet.

"Sade." The red junglefowl's hooded eyes were black and glistening with contempt for all living things. It said something to the swan; Vex, unable to understand a word, made the most of the Sade's divided attention to fly out of reach again. The bright-plumed creature at Parliament's feet inclined its head a little, then vanished. The swan was making good to leave, and Vex so no harm in reminding the "ambassador" what sort of ambassadorings he could be doing.

"Oi. Sade. Stop swanning around-" -oh you had to be kidding- "and check with your buddies if you have. My damn. Coin. Got it?"

The swan glanced up at Encyclopedia, and blew him a kiss on a wingtip. Vex shuddered.

"hOnly because <font size="1">h
it's you, my little love letter."

Luchesse cruised downward through the dissipating swan, snapping the neck on an unsolicited tinamou who had apparently just come out for some fresh air. He settled on a branch, appraising Encyclopedia.</font>

"Are all of you as fucked up as that swan? What about you? What'd you do to end up there with him?" The marshal cocked his head a little, then seemed to catch himself doing birdly things and ruffled his feathers self-consciously.

"I've barely a clue what those slimy little politicians are getting up to in there. From all I comprehend, they're futzing around trying to decide how their meeting hall looks. Waste of time, if you ask me."

"We can hear you, y'self-righteous cockmongler," added Skinner the lorikeet, perched as he was upon Parliament's shoulder. "Or did yer forget the rest of us have to sit in there listening to yer fuckin' monologuising?"

Vex was pleased - in a bittersweet sort of way - to find his own mental visualisations let him apply fingers to exasperated bridge of his nose, and pinch it until the two birds stopped screaming at each other. Encyclopedia itself was no help - while it could recall several noted polyglots from the course of his universe's history, it lacked any capacity as a translator.

Which meant the lunatic swan was his only port of call to get any sense out of the flock. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

"I am the chosen Divine Arbiter of Azungrada! It is outrageous that you would have me go crawling on my hands and knees in search of a mere trinket!"

"Then pray to your great and mighty god for guidance! If he can see anything at the bottom of the lake, that is."

"Your impudence is unbearable!"

"Yeah, well, guess you'll have to find someone else to help you drag your god up then. Oh well!"

Augustus sighed. Much as Mr. Saturday irritated him, the Divine Arbiter had to concede the point.

"Very well. I accept. But know that you are not yet freed from Azungrada's wrath. If you fail to show him proper respect..."

"I got it! I got it! Sorry 'bout that, I just got a little heated there. Really don't want to deal with whatever happens if you lose your coin, see. So let's get crackin'. 'Sgotta be around here somewhere."

"What makes you so sure of that?" Augustus asked.

Saturday looked at him.

"Well, where else could it be? I mean, this is right about where I had a fight with the spider-lady after she grabbed my coin..." Saturday glanced around to see that Cepra had vanished. "Hey! Where'd she go?"

"You had a fight with her and then she just stood around while you looked for the coin?"

"Huh. That is weird, I guess. I didn't think much of it at the time because I was pretty sure she was mocking me, and also I guess neither of us was really in the mood to keep fighting after that penguin barged in?"

Augustus blinked.

"A penguin."

"Yeah. Real big fella. Just barged right in when I nearly had my coin back."

Augustus paused.

"Couldn't the spider or the penguin have grabbed it?"

"I wondered about the penguin for a bit, but nah, don't think so. Pretty sure penguins aren't about the shiny stuff, not like magpies. Seemed like a dumb brute, too. And the spider ain't got it. I was tryin' to get it back from her, but it wasn't where... I saw her put it..."

Mister Saturday slapped his forehead.

"Dammit! She probably stuffed it somewhere else just to watch me hunt for it like an idiot. And now she's run off while I was distracted! Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

"Or the penguin might have taken it over to that doll with all the birds."

Saturday stared.

"Yeah. Huh. Guess it coulda."

Augustus sighed. Even putting aside Saturday's unpleasant mannerisms, the man was an utter imbecile. And yet, he was the only one Augustus could turn to for aid.

Azungrada clearly had a severe test in mind for his Divine Arbiter. But Augustus would not fail.

"Fine. I will search for the spider woman, since you clearly aren't capable of handling her. Meanwhile, you can try to talk some sense into those worthless birds; perhaps you will have more success with them than I did. We will meet at the lake in ten minutes; if neither of us has retrieved the coin by then, we should at least have some idea of which of them took it."

"Good man! Thanks for the help. And, ah, thanks to Azungrundy too."


"Yeah, that also." Saturday walked off, waving to his new associate.

"The birds are that way," Augustus said, pointing the way he'd come.

"Oh! Yeah, that would have been a good question to ask, wouldn't it. Thanks!"

Augustus groaned as his new acquaintance wandered off. Now he'd have to find that worthless spider.

Only then did it strike him that he didn't have the faintest clue where she was.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Cepra was bored. She got bored of Saturday and Agustus' boring human talks, walked away, and came back in time just to see the two of them run off. Very quickly. How did humans run so fast with only two legs? So weird. And boring.

Cepra scratched her head wondering what to do next, she certainly couldn't just stand and wait around for someone else, that wouldn't solve her boredom at least. And there was also the issue of her job. She supposed that she wouldn't have to worry that much, after all she hadn't lost her coin or anything like the other bozo, so she didn't have to resort to anything just yet. Still, it would be nice for something to spice things up. Cepra took a deep sigh.

Just as the spider lady started to stand up, presumably to go and muck up someone else's day, a little robot speaking her language skipped past her, babbling something about... well something and ignoring her completely...

Cepra turned around and spotted Triumphian and Cthaasa over in the distance. Her curiosity piqued, the assassin decided to follow the robot, making sure to slip away from view.

Meanwhile, Redclaw was searching through the woods. If the information given to him by the sergeant was correct, then he would be taking the first step in destroying the mechanical abominations. The sergeant had informed him that while they could not view the inside of the forest through normal means, they had recorded energy signals and pinpointed three specific points of interest. There was the western part of the forest, where Redclaw supposed that the machine could have come from. The second area was the now wrecked warehouse, which Redclaw would be visiting next, and the third was the lake.

What Redclaw had not counted on, what he could not have foreseen, was that he was not alone at all. Be it by a higher powers design or by coincidence, the werewolf had unknowingly wandered right into Ampersand's line of sight.

Rather than speak aloud for once, remembering the less than good times with the werewolf, Ampersand thought to itself, Aggressor along unaware area, trailing, learning.

"A FRR URJF paces and URJT!"

Ampersand silently observed as the werewolf pressed against a tree and suddenly something seemed to appear from no where. It was a large structure, golden and majestic. Ampersand was enamored.

Cepra, who had been watching for some while, hidden in the shadows, had also been awestruck by the sudden appearance of the structure.

Triumphian was more upfront with his amazement. Rushing past the hidden Cepra, leaving Cthaasa in his trail, the alien reptile roared.

Redclaw turned to face the trio of creatures, two of which he already knew he hated, and the third which he also hated on principal. The third was actually the one that interested Redclaw the most, as Cthaasa had still not fully recovered from his injuries despite Triumphian's healing. "Ha! See how your pitiful science has failed you leech. Your pitiful form is your truth, a representation of your affront against nature. I almost pity you."

Everyone else was silent. Triumphian, in each of his previous experiences heard the words of the monkey race as incoherent babbling. But here this Redclaw was, suddenly speaking perfect Lagren. He was outraged that the creature had the gall to taint his language with his heretic tongue and rushed forward.

Cthaasa and Cepra had more subdued reactions. The latter had noticed that for some odd reason, the words that Redclaw said didn't match with his mouth's movements. The former on the other hand felt the same relentless pain as when Ampersand had spoken.

Had Triumphian realized the same thing as Cepra or had he noticed his so-called companions wincing, he possibly wouldn't have charged as quickly as he did. Perhaps he would have realized why Redclaw could "speak" his language, and what limits where involved in said "speaking".

Unfortunately or not, when Triumphian acted, he acted hard. Placing holy energy in his arms, she grabbed Redclaw, and smashed him against the golden machine, screaming at Redclaw in anger.

Redclaw struggled to get out of the grip of the suddenly coherent dinosaur. Without further thought, as Redclaw continued to taint his language with his disgusting mouth, Triumphian continued smashing Redclaw against the machine, damaging it.

Ampersand snapped out of his amazement induced stupor and leaped onto the Pope, "Please cease! Please cease!"

Triumphian ignored the robot's plea, too wrapped up in his hatred and beliefs.

Ampersand tried to pull his former "friend" away from the golden structure, even resorting to hysterically attacking Triumphian. Though the small robot could do nothing against the lizards thick Lagran skin, he still felt it. Noticing that Redclaw had weakened his resistance, Triumphian decided to punctually deal with this insubordination.

The usual law that Lagran go by is an eye for eye, assuming that the eye is not taken in the name of the Holy Empire of course, and that was usually how Triumphian dealt with traitors. If there was someone suspected of or found performing treason, Triumphian would simply return the favor, doing to them whatever it was that they were trying to do to him. Though Ampersand's weak, metal fists could do nothing against his hide, the intent was to stop him from attacking Redclaw.

Triumphian pinned Redclaw, now almost indented in the golden structure, with one arm while he lifted Ampersand with the other. As the robot wished to stop him from attacking the werewolf, the proper punishment would be to use him as an implement in the continued assault. So he did.

And then, like the final nail in a coffin, there was a large bang as the golden structure exploded, enveloping Ampersand, Redclaw, Triumphian, Cthaasa, and Cepra in an odd light and knocking the three closest to it out and away from each other.

At that, Cepra said "Woah." Had Cthaasa been listening, he would have heard it.

Circumvent Generator: Active
Consciousness Creator:
Lingual Emulator:

. . .
Response: Emergency Protocol Enabled

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Just as Augustus had made up his mind on which direction to check first, he saw an explosion in the distance. He sighed, and opted to investigate first; perhaps the explosion had also drawn the spider's attention, after all. Or, if Azungrada were truly smiling upon him, perhaps it would destroy her and he could retrieve Saturday's coin without interruption.

He began walking towards the site disturbance, completely unaware that something was stirring in the ruins of the nearby warehouse.


Saturday soon realized that Augustus had only given him a general direction; it wasn't long before he found himself with no idea where to actually look for the birds.

He considered his options. On the one hand, he could wander around aimlessly trying to find a flock of birds which he had no idea how to deal with; on the other hand, he could just head to the lake and wait for Augustus. After all, looking for the birds was only a recommendation, when it came down to it; it wasn't part of the actual deal. He'd just drag Augustus with him if it turned out the spider didn't have his coin.

As he arrived at the edge of the lake, Saturday smiled. This was actually a nice place to spend ten minutes or so, come to think of it. He sat down and gazed at the surface of the water, watching the sunlight shine down on it.

And then he noticed a particularly shiny spot in the water.

"No freakin' way," Saturday said to himself. "Is that my coin?"

He dove in to find out.

He found himself questioning the decision a moment later when he realized there was a large metallic cobra down there staring him in the face.


The forest's primary function was a testing ground for artificial intelligences. The intruders had, up to now, mostly presented a threat to each other, and so the monitoring systems had largely paid them no heed.

Redclaw's assault had changed that. The system held in its memory banks a few military-grade schematics, which it was programmed only to use in situations like this. The assembly line worked quickly to create two new machines.

Assassin was to investigate the destruction of the Lingual Emulator and, if possible, to eliminate its attacker; Enforcer was dispatched to the Circumvent Generator to prevent a similar attack on it. Both were permitted to use deadly force.

"Warehouse status: Badly damaged," Assassin said. "Escape necessary."

"Create exit," Enforcer replied. "Separate, locate targets."

"Affirmative," Assassin said. A massive blade extended from its left arm, and it cut a hole in one of the still-standing walls of the warehouse. Assassin retracted its blade and walked out, following the path Augustus had taken only minutes before.

"Complete objective, then report," Enforcer said to its companion, before making its way to the lake.


Azungrada sat perfectly still. This was somehow even more unnerving to Saturday than if it were moving. He stared at his reflection in its ruby eyes, wondering why it wasn't moving at all.

He didn't dare move closer, unsure of just what the statue would do. Not even when he realized that the coin he had come to look for was resting on Azungrada's head.

Was it waiting for Augustus to give it an order? That seemed odd - if this idol was a god, as Augustus had claimed, Saturday would expect it to be the one giving the orders, not taking them. Then again, perhaps it was just a golem and Augustus had delusions about what it could do without him.

Which made Saturday wonder - with Augustus gone, would it take orders from just anyone?

"Hey, Snakeface!" he said, his words traveling through the water. "Can you hand me that coin?"

Azungrada simply sat still.

"Huh. Dumb thing must be broken," Saturday muttered to himself. "Well, guess that means I can grab the coin..."

He swam towards the statue's head, only for the serpentine idol to swiftly reach out with one of its muscular arms and grab Saturday by the neck.

"You have got to be kidding me," Saturday grumbled.

And then a small torpedo detonated where he had been a moment before. Saturday glanced over and saw a human-sized robot floating nearby, pointing a hollow finger at him.

"Leave immediately," Enforcer said. "Otherwise, be destroyed. System currently permits Enforcer's lethality."

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by 50,000 Unstoppable Watts!.

Screaming. A woman, screaming. His mother. Someone else roared over her. Must've been his old man. He only heard it for a second; then inertia kicked in, and with a splash the world flew away from him. Everything turned blue. His ears filled with water. All he heard was phwoooob.

"Bo," said his old man <font color="#A9A9A9">or maybe God? Probably both
, "now you are gon' learn to swim, and you gon' learn the way I learnt it."</font>

Either you swim, or you sink.

A gentle phwoooob choir scattered in fear as a vicious CLANK and its grisly pal CRRRRUNCH made a home in the church. The church in this metaphor being Saturday's head, if that wasn't clear. Saturday's head tended not to be clear. Where was Saturday's head? Seemed on average that he knew least of anybody where it was. Right now it was in the vicinity of "throbbing migraine," on the corner of "there's my coin, my goddamn coin" and "lord almighty but these two junk heaps make an awful racket." He heard himself shouting (through water? ...Best not to think about it) as far as "Ah'll git left in one damn minute if you'll just--let me--" before speech became too much of a hassle. He vaguely registered a slightly immense pain in his midsection before he decided being his bony old self became too much of a hassle. The whole of him turned into a glistening black coil of angry as the snake lurched and the coin lurched and he lurched

and then reality became too much of a hassle.

His butt hit marble. The surface seemed so far away now, but he could still make out the daisy yellow of his ma's dress as she fussed at his old man. She'd fuss at him over every thing. Maybe this time it was justified. Right now her kid might be up to drowning down here. And it'd be his daddy's fault. Maybe Ma had a care for her kid. But then, Daddy did too, in his own way. Bo had known that for a long time, perceptive as he was. People didn't mean harm, hardly ever. They just had their own way. Everything did. He shut his eyes and opened his mouth and thought, maybe his way was to just let it be.

He heard music. It sounded beautiful.

Wake up, Bo. Ain't time yet.

Water thundered and sprayed everywhere as Saturday shot out of the lake. He flipped and flapped like a dolphin, shaking the littler robot loose. The droplets around him sparkled in the sunlight. Soon as his lungs cleared and he had returned to him the presence of mind to speak, he roared, "FUCK YOU, OLD MAN!"

Everything slowed down for a minute after that. The weight of it all hit him, and he burst out laughing.

Then the weight of him hit the ground, and he quit.

Vex was no stranger to strangeness, and this little game had already pushed his threshold farther than he might have dared to think it could go.

But an old red-haired man in a white and black tuxedo (minus the coat) bursting out of a lake, flopping around like a dolphin and shouting <font color="#C41E3A">"FUCK YOU, OLD MAN!"
at the top of his lungs, descending into mad laughter, then... presumably breaking his spine as he and a humanoid robot crashed to the ground?

Well. Well that's... That's something new.</font>

...Pardon us for a moment. It seems Vex's Strangeness Receptor has fried. Shall we switch to someone slightly less bewildered?

A blank mannequin inched up to the red-haired man, squishing wet grass as it stepped. It knelt down, cradling a heavy-looking book in its right arm. A hushed chatter of birds became a vague hum as it came closer to the might-be corpse.

"...He dead?"

"Looks dead."

"Ain't nobody oi seen loi lat way if they still aloive."

"Poor sing. Sat hwas quite <font size="1">h
a fall."

One rambunctious voice repeating "Out of my way, out of my way" punctuated the chatter as Luchesse moved to the proverbial head of the proverbial pack to get a hypothetically better look at the possibly dead man. That is, the head of a fish-owl erupted from the featureless face of the mannequin, both now about a foot from said dead man's own face. Said possibly dead man's own definitely messed-up face.

"...Can't tell if he's dead or just ugly."

One of the ingrates- That is, inmates, one of the inmates was about to raise a protest as to the functionality of the Marshal's eyes when the probably maybe ugly possibly dead man's eyes snapped absolutely open.</font>



Saturday jumped up in a shower of feathers, holding the first of two sustained screams. Before he could get far, his now-drenched clothes forced him back down and stifled his scream. The bird-faced mannequin stopped shortly after. Saturday staggered to his feet again, fondling himself for a small, circular lump of- "Aha! There you went, y' little..."


Saturday spun, leveling a black blade made out of his arm at the mannequin's throat. Its fist was drawn back, and birds flared out from its head like a deadly Mardi Gras headdress. Saturday assessed, panting, for a moment before something whirrrred behind him.



And before any man, bird, book or 'bot could say a word, Saturday was off.
[Image: sig.gif]
(04-11-2014, 12:35 AM)Schazer Wrote: »pffft dingle your pringles more like hop on your popcorn
(06-03-2014, 03:10 AM)Dragon Fogel Wrote: »DON'T EDIT POSTS YOU'LL GET MODKILLED wait a minute.
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

A somewhat large metally-thing collided with Cepra and she fell over, her stomach stinging. “Bollocks,” she spouted as she crashed through foliage, feeling as though her innards had been scrambled. The robot, meanwhile, seemed to simply emit a long, loud, scream.

Lying prone on the ground, she picked it off of her chest. Honestly, she didn’t really recognize what the hell it was supposed to be, but it was already annoying. It was currently whirring in a rather panicked manner and asking her about her ‘aims.’ What her intentions were, she realized.

As it wondered aloud if she aimed harm, Cepra absent-mindedly flicked it with her purple hand. It squealed. Not only was it armored, but it almost felt like it was entirely armor. It didn’t exactly seem killable, and it certainly wasn’t related to this impromptu job at all. But then again, that meant it was a local, right? And that meant explanations, right? She was certainly curious about that golden thingy and its apparent linguistic effect. But mostly the way it was made out of gold. She just couldn’t help but be attracted to shiny things. Partly it was because they were so attractive and often carrying around ancient treasures or what-have-you brought attention and fighting. Partly because, well, they were just so shiny. How could anybody not like that? If there were more of those around, she definitely wanted them.

She put on the friendliest smile she could muster. Which wasn’t much, she would admit. “Hallo!” she greeted. The robot paused in its panic.

“Salutations,” it returned, though reluctantly.

“Would you confess about consequence of explosion prior?”

The robot whirred. “Sadly unable.”

“Oh.” Well, that wasn’t too important. Really, she didn’t mind thinking about it as a ‘magic language explosion thingy.’ She was more interested in the actual thing itself. Before it exploded, anyhow. “How about knowledge of forest?”

The robot waved its hands about excitedly. “Obligation: achieve tasks!”

“Oh. Consequence of accomplishing chore?”

“Escape timberland!” it exuded rather excitedly.

Trying to quell incoming disappointment and boredom, Cepra tried to simply ask directly. “Does job involve… golden constructions?”

The robot whirred in her hands, longer than usual. “Maybe!” it finally answered.

Good enough for her.

With a flourish, she offered a third hand for the robot to shake. “Offering support,” she said rather superciliously. The robot didn’t catch on to the tone and, still rather trusting, accepted her help graciously.

Though when a rustling arose nearby, Cepra instinctively dropped the metal thing and scrambled up a nearby tree. In her rush to conceal herself, she couldn’t help but run right into something that looked like oddly blue fog –

-- and suddenly she found herself fallen on the ground. As though she had been clumsy enough to simply slip off. She stared up. The blue fog she seemed to have remembered seeing was gone. She looked down and realized that, when she had landed, she had managed to entangle that leech-worm-grub thingy in her legs. Cthlassa, on his part, was annoyed that someone had interrupted him from destroying the source of his acute pain.

“Oh, so sorry,” she said quite insincerely, and started to undergo the process of unwrapping her legs until she felt the sickly thing quiver as she spoke.

She paused.

“Our oars oak our oars oak our oars oak.”

An uncontrollable smile crossed her face as she felt the thing thrash and attempt to push itself away. Instantly, she wrapped two of her arms around it, pinning its appendages, and leaned in close in a painful cuddle, singing something sweetly. The words were all nonsense, really, but Cthlassa could only cringe and curl up in pain nevertheless, and she pulled him in tighter and closer, as though absorbing pleasure from his pain just through physical contact. She got ready to finish him off –

-- and was suddenly aware of some sort of invisible force pressing against her head.

She was sharply pushed away, her neck snapping backwards, and screeching in surprise and pain, she instantly let go. Cthlassa, tired and almost blind, still managed to stumble away very quickly. Cepra leapt to her feet, cursing magic, cursing wizards, cursing anything she could think of really, which allowed Ampersand to finally get up.

The robot had found it rather uncomfortable, being crushed under the two, but now that was in the past and it was ready to continue pleasing the voices of the forest. Looking up towards the spider woman, innocence pouring from every circuit, it said, “Start assistance immediately?”

Cepra scowled down at the metal runt but set aside all thoughts of pursuit. Chasing wizards wasn’t exactly a safe pastime. The buggers looked weak, sure, but they had a terrible habit of…of setting things on fire. Or something.

“Okay,” she said.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

"Unholy fucks of Lucchesse's whore-mother, that's trippy," drawled a loon, astonishment clearly not addling his foul-mouthed vocabulary.

"Can we order him to do it again? For science? Or magic, if Orpridge wants to toady up to Chordeilis some more?"

"If you two troglodytes try one more frog joke-" exploded the tawny frog-mouth, leaping with a shriek and a clatter over their insubstantial table to wring an insubstantial neck or two. Reynard the blue jay ignored them, trying really hard to read a few missives. (Trying, not simply due to the fracas around him, but to actually will such paperwork into existence. If it weren't for the meeting hall several notaries and notable imbeciles were assorted around, he'd consider the Vizier's theories a load of crock.)

He thought he was getting somewhere (either that or he was hallucinating rectangles) when Ms. Archer's pet idiot strode through a closed door. The vulture flapped clumsily over to the three arguing imbeciles, lost them under his bulk for a moment, then craned down to have a look and found them.

"Mizzarch said you three need to shut..."

Bal frowned; Orpridge looked too petrified to finish the sentence. "Up?" Reynard suggested. Some bootlicker burst into hearty guffaws, realised he was alone, and shut up before anyone could identify him. Bal thought about it a while longer, and shook his head.

"Bigger word."

"... their faces?" offered someone else in the galleries.

A tui snorted with a sound like a rotten branch being trodden on. "Two words. Native tongues comprising six million words each a sentence in self, and even I know that.*"


Zil, racketeer extraordinaire, snickered from behind the vulture's leg at his partner in crime.

<font size="1">"Hey. Hey. September."



The drongo and the loon screamed with laugher. Then somebody round the table must've realised Enforcer was still definitely a thing, and some more presumably-arduous probably-mudslinging discussions were, ostensibly, had.


Lucchesse, meanwhile, laid into every squawking imbecile with righteous beak and claw, tidily punctuating every wrenching of limbs with how none. of you useless. featherbrained. morons. could be called. to do any. bloody. better.

Then Enforcer, not quite sure whether it was observing some kind of strange avian phenomena or just falling prey to the painted man's decoy, grabbed the fish-owl.</font>

"Explain presence, under pretense the listener were capable."

A pause. The junglefowl appeared after a moment, glaring at the machine for a moment before turning his back on it, addressing the remnants of the flock.

"Inside. Chordeilis' orders, under whose judgement remaining out here is a violation of Avery's Laws. If you wish to argue your point, do it inside with the law-weaver, not out here." It spun around, and cocked its head this time to Enforcer. "Ud tiy understand me, please qlur one moment."



"Nonetheless, expecting explanation urgently."

"Understood." Luchesse had at least the good sense to not try and fight his way out ouf the robot's crush grip, and vanished with the rest of them.

A further moment's deliberation later - where most of Parliament agreed they'd understood the robot, and Ms. Archer had firmly called anyone who suggested she go out to negotiate as an "IGNORANT RACIST FLESHBAG" - and a bee hummingbird materialsed with a soft pop. It took to the heady air on thrumming wings, before perching on Parliament's motionless head.

"We quag ri settle rgua peacefully, machine. We have bi quag ri engage hostilities." Enforcer struggled to fill the gaps, but eventually its stance settled just a little.

"Mere peace promises insufficient," intoned Enforcer. "Mannequin's appearance hardly coincidental, when other intruders appear concurrently. Establishing conversant's non-involvement where recent system damages are concerned required, else presumed belligerent's destruction imminent."

"We're qukkubf ri prove iyw desire ri co-operate, machine. There ua, however, one problem. Rwlbaklruib."

"... Excuse me?"

The hummingbird raised a wing in frustrated gesture, not bothering to look to anyone for support.

"The language barrier?"

"Cripes! Everything's clearer then."


"Indeed. Persons trapped betwixt these geographical bounds experience vexing restrictions regarding lexical variety."

"We knew yjsy," growled the hummingbird, with the voice of something far larger and more carnivorous than its little body suggested. "The entity responsible gpt pit invading-" Enforcer had that little twitch of incomprehension; Kruger tried again with "-encroaching? Yes, the one responsible gpt pit encroaching thine realm-" the Pantheran habitually rasped his tongue there, at unaccustomed words he hadn't intended to say. At a sharp-minded guess, he supposed that Parliament's internal translators were adapting to help it survive in a hostile situation. "-hauled those others who're hobomh thine grief. We have little intention pg angering upi natives, especially when iyw supposed partners are apparently dp mindlessly destructive."

The robot seemed to consider, glancing partway across the lake, and shook its head.
"Mere verbal assertions insufficient. Threatening thine destruction - befitting thee the system's presumed destroyers, else accomplices thereof - begets further evidence's need, defendant. Lest mine internal directions dictate lethal force."

Kruger - fourteen feet of grace and deadliness from pointed ears to thick-padded paws, once upon a time - was silent for so long, he could almost hear Parliament screaming at him to save their worthless hides.

"We offer assistance - encompassing intelligence, possible expertise, exotic experiences, then. Even Encyclopedia, when the allied being therein regains their senses. Threatening thine estate clearly exceeds abilities exhibited vt the likes id l novel, iw l rabble id feathered spectres."

Enforcer pondered, then waved a missile-clad arm as it strode off.

"Very well. We are leaving, ensuring Circumvent Generator's protection. More questions addressable, provided answers are reciprocal."

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

It wasn't long before Augustus found Cepra. Much to his annoyance, she hadn't been caught in the explosion.

He saw her tending to some unfamiliar mechanical creature, and in the distance, he saw the accursed leech that had taken control of his mind fleeing the scene.

For a moment, Augustus thought of seeking his vengeance. But no, he concluded; he needed to prove himself to Azungrada, and that meant making an effort to retrieve Saturday's coin.

And then the spider woman started talking to him.

"Hello!" she shouted. Much to Augustus' surprise, he understood her.

Presumably, then, she would understand him as well.

"I've come for the coin you stole," he said, advancing towards her. "Hand it over now, I really don't have time for this."

"Pardon?" Cepra asked.

"What do you mean, 'pardon', you imbecilic creature? I could hardly have been more clear!"

"Perhaps circular alphabetic character shall allow understanding," the small robot in Cepra's hands suddenly said.

"What?" Augustus thought for a moment.

"Outwitted? How worrisome. Your knowledge's no good, obviously," Cepra replied.

It took Augustus a moment before he was able to piece together the link between robot's suggestion and what Cepra had just sad.

"Do you possess one stolen coin?" Augustus asked, this time more accusatively.

"Own coin only," she said calmly, pointing to the one behind her goggles. "Lost yours?"

Augustus paused. He did have one of these silly coins, didn't he? He checked his pocket quickly to be sure.

"No. Other fellow's coin. Our contract obligates locating, on condition of reciprocation."

"Oh," Cepra said. She scurried away as he drew closer. "How unfortunate for you."

"No possibility of prevarication on your words?"

"Stole coin, lost coin, now bored of our common comrade." She pointed at Redclaw and Triumphian fighting some distance away; the fight appeared to primarily consist of one of them picking up the other and slamming him against a tree, then having the opponent break free and return the favor.

"Found those two, explosion enveloped our bodies," she explained. "Your words more comprehensible now."

"Only some words, however," Augustus replied, drawing closer. "Prove you've no coin, or would force compel more cooperation?"

"Halt, invaders!" a voice suddenly shouted from behind them. Augustus and Cepra turned to the voice, and saw a larger, much less friendly robot than the one Cepra currently held in hand.

"Release machine," Assassin said. "Noncompliance shall demand termination."

Cepra looked down at Ampersand, then at Augustus, then at Assassin.

"No problem," she replied, putting down the robot. "Enjoy yourselves!"

She then started to scurry off, but Assassin fired a missile at a nearby tree and it fell in her path.

"Remain at that location," the machine ordered her. "Situation necessitates interrogation."

"Can Ampersand have aid?" the smaller machine asked. "Barely ambulatory."

"Later," Assassin replied. "After gathering adequate information about devastation and establishing threats."

"Acceptable!" Ampersand chirped.

This conversation grows more and more irritating, Augustus grumbled. Oh mighty Azungrada, if only you could do something to rid me of these accursed machines!


Saturday's desperate thrashing had knocked Azungrada aside, and after that, the serpent simply lay motionless on the bottom of the lake.

Enforcer's scans did not show the statue to be alive, or mechanical, and it wasn't moving at all. Consequently, it had opted to ignore Azungrada in favor of locating the other intruder, the one which had escaped it.

This would ultimately prove to be a mistake.

Azungrada suddenly lifted itself up, hearing a request from Augustus that it could fulfill. It slithered towards the nearby generator, and reached towards it with its muscular arms.


Enforcer suddenly paused in the middle of its conversation and turned back to the lake.

"Detecting movement near Circumvent Generator," it said. "Large being. Intruder, perhaps. Hastening advance preferable."

Before Kruger could respond, the robot had already turned toward the lake and was readying a weapon of some sort.

"Detection negative regarding lifesigns, mechanisms," it said. "Restricts simple neutralization possibilities. Underwater travel advised, further examination necessary."

And then the lake erupted around them, flinging a large metallic snake through the air. Kruger quickly retreated to the safety of the mannequin, leaving it, Enforcer, and Vex's Encyclopedia drenched.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Whats good man? How you doin, how you livin, bro,
It's time to ACT (hey), against one of the living, bro,
Time to act! (hey)
Someone needs to die, so I'll reserve this post and you should all sit tight!
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 1: Circumlocution]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Circumvent Generator: Destroyed
Consciousness Creator: Active
Lingual Emulator: Destroyed
. . . Processing


The unexpected explosion had both obvious consequences, and much more subdued consequences. The most obvious of them all, at least in the long term sense of course, was that the powerful field that controlled who went in and out of the facility was unceremoniously shut off.

The soldiers outside did not get as flashy a sign as those near the actual destruction of the Circumvent Generator, instead having their only clue be a small, not very noticeable *whoosh* sound. The group was too busy going through a rousing morale boosting chant to notice.

As such, the soldiers were ever so unaware that Redclaw's mission had inadvertently succeeded. They were suited up, ready, and willing to move out as soon as soon as they thought the werewolf had succeeded.

As the existence of Assassin and Enforcer implied, the researchers who built the facility did not expect their experiment to go without resistance. Each of the machines that made the facility's operations run smoothly had a fail-safe; something to ensure the protection of the rest of the area, the robots inside, and the other two machines. The destruction of two machines at once was not something that the scientists anticipated, but just because it was not something that they hadn't originally planned against, didn't mean that there wouldn't be a solution.

Looking through its functions and resources in an attempt to find a counter to the sudden wave of aggression, the consciousness of the forest was desperate. Options were deemed impossible, resources were reallocated, and limitations were broken. Eventually, it had found a match. It was a hidden project that began development after the mysterious destruction of the enlightened robots shortly after testing. In response, the forest began a series of small modifications to how it operated, slightly changing how the robots left, installing a few more surveillance devices on them, adding less scrupulous things to their blueprints, and it opted to invest a certain amount of processing power into a new project.

And now it would be time to fully activate it.


As Cepra continued awkwardly standing and watching the two robots banter, Augustus took notice of something quite a ways into the forest. He squinted and made out the staff of the reptilian pope. The Arbiter gasped. The false prophet! Oh Azungrada, if only you were here!

Finally answering his arbiter’s prayers, the lake exploded, grabbing the entire group’s attention. They looked to the sky to see the flying Azungrada, finally free of the muddy waters, propelling in the air toward its arbiter. The variety of conscious beings looked bewilderingly at the flying metallic snake as it flew right over them and slightly further into the forest.

Assassin decided that it would be prudent to investigate.
"Please stay here," the robot asked as it went deeper into the forest. Cepra and Ampersand complied without issue, but Augustus, wishing to reunite with his god wouldn't allow anything to get in his way.

None of them noticed the slinking, weak form of Cthaasa, discarded by the flippant Cepra, attempting to escape their painful voices. The leech was in a rough spot. When he had first spoken to him, he jokingly thought that Triumphian's attempt at his language was painful; he couldn't have expected to be physically hurt by the words.

It was all a big joke.
First they weren't able to speak with each other and now that they finally were capable of communication with each other, it hurt him both physically and mentally. Was he internally bleeding? His only hope was to once more solicit the aid of Triumphian.

Meanwhile, Viscount was hungry. He was absolutely starved to the point that he would be all skin and bones if he had any of either. It certainly didn't help that he had lost his prey. The leech and the dinosaur went into the forest, followed by the spider, followed by him, but things after that got a little twisted. As much as he hated to think it, he had gotten lost. In fact, it almost seemed as if he had been going in circles, but that had to be impossible.

Whatever it was that had led to his losing of the other contestants, it was far too late to do anything about it now, and in all honesty, he wasn't really worried. The way that the eight of them were going around, it was unlikely that any of them was going to die soon. In fact, the only person that Viscount thought was in a position of near death was himself. So for now, his focus was on his hunger.

I'm going to die, Viscount starting to fear. There wasn't anyone near, and even if there were, there was no way that just their memories would be enough to feed him. If only there was some way that he could instill memories of himself faster, by making some sort of bang, with a spread of fear or paranoia.

But I can't do that. I would need some sort of event to look like the cause of or I would... need some... sort of help... What? What is that?

Viscount was astonished.


One of the soldiers' many attempts at getting through the Circumvent Generator was to simply brute force it. They had the bright idea of strapping on some nitrous rockets onto a one-man cart and let it fly through the forest, just enough to get past where they assumed the forest stopped being weird. Though they didn't know it, they succeeded. The kart did indeed move faster than the generator could shift its direction, allowing that one unlucky soldier to glimpse into the inner part of the forest.

And he only got that glimpse.

This is because it just so happened that on that day the forest's consciousness also had decided to try an experiment, a newly finished, secret pet project. After the continued deaths of the robots who had earned their freedom, the consciousness pondered what it could do. After some other attempts at circumventing the soldier's assaults, it got an idea. Rather than build a few, bigger, stronger robots, from scratch in case of emergency, why not attempt to make a few smaller, more discrete robots, almost invisible individually, but that together, were capable of much greater things, and to have those already present, only dormant until the proper time arose...

The principal cause for both experiments was that the soldiers had just successfully destroyed another of the defenseless robot scum. Whenever one of the robots completed his tests and exited the forest, the three machines' energy temporarily spread out through the entire forest, slightly weakening the main three corresponding functions. It was the perfect moment to strike, or at least try to get someone in there, and the consciousness knew this. And so, the soldiers, in their haste to fulfill the experiment and joy in robotic destruction, didn't notice that the remains of the robot had disappeared...

The last thing that soldier saw was a smokey amalgamation of bullet ridden metal as he was turned into a fine red mist.

And that was what Viscount was currently seeing as well. He also happened to hear something else...

"Are ya sure we should be breaking out of formation, Lawrence?"

"We've got to Frank, if that force field comes back on and they missed their chance thanks to regulations and such, it'll all be for naught! No, if that thing gets fixed then we'll be here, all ready for anything and able to get all of our mates in to save the bloody world." Lawrence looked back and gave Frank a thumbs up.

Viscount couldn’t stay still, shifting his gaseous form in preparation of what would surely be a feast to remember. It sounds like there are a lot of them... this smokey thing looks threatening enough, and luckily it resembles [I]another, much more clever smoke creature... but I can't exactly use it if it doesn't move.[/i]

As if on cue, the smokey metal began to make the mark that Viscount so desperately hungered for. The newest line of defense the forest had to offer began to tear Lawrence to pieces, shocking Frank.

Viscount took the opening and wisped to the remaining soldier, coming up right in front of him. He was almost smiling as he hungrily stared at the soldier. He wouldn't eat the memories just yet, no, he would wait for him to go back, and tell everyone all about the creature of smoke that had eaten his friend. And only then would he feed.

Frank ran.
And Viscount followed, hungrily anticipating his meal.

Had the smoke creature a bit more sense, he would have taken his meals as he could, and would have gone back to his job. But he was just so hungry, and even if he wasn't, he didn't really worry about being out of the loop for too long. Why should he? The entire lot of them were being boring and uninteresting and passive (you would think that a violent bunch of psychopaths would do a better job of killing each other), even if something came out of the leech and dinosaur coming together it wouldn't last long.

It never does.


Azungrada landed. As the metallic snake created a crater on what remained of the Lingual Emulator, it looked around, attempting to find its loyal arbiter. Instead, it saw two other creatures, both unconscious. Azungrada ignored Redclaw in favor of the reptilian pope who had separated it from Augustus. As the god raised its muscular arm against the space pope, it heard Assassin's robotic voice.

[color=#CB7927]"Cease! Lethal aggression authorized." The robot raised its metal blade at Azungrada. "Interrogation necessary, as creature may have caused great damage against arbor."

The two stared at each other long enough for Augustus to make it to the scene. At the sight of his god, free, and about to finally deal his divine punishment, he kneeled down and prayed.

Assassin took notice of Augustus, enabling Azungrada to sucker punch it with a swift uppercut. Assassin was not pleased.
"Retaliation program activated."

As Azungrada and Assassin began to fight, the former fueled by its Divine Arbiter’s prayers, and the latter moving very quickly to avoid the metallic muscles, Cthaasa continued his crawl to Triumphian. The leech reached the pope, but found that he could do nothing to awake him. He was too weak to attempt a psychic pulse of some sort, and there was nothing he could physically do to the tough scales of the Lagren. There was only one option available, and it was something that Cthaasa desperately wanted to avoid.

He looked back at the fight between Azungrada and Assassin and noticed that the snake god was winning. His time with Augustus was definitely not pleasant and he doubted that he would be treated in good favor, even if there wasn't a giant living snake statue at his beck and call. Gulping, Cthaasa got as close to Triumphian's ear as he could and shouted, "AWAKEN."

As the space leech winced in pain at his own words, the white eyes of the pope shot open. His Holiness brushed himself and scowled at the so called Divine Arbiter, kneeling. There is no doubt that he is praying to the rock at the bottom of t- Triumphian roared in anger at the sight of Azungrada, free of the lake, and fighting a robot he had never seen before.

Ignoring the withering leech that had awakened him, Triumphian sent out a paralyzing wave at Azungrada, allowing Assassin to swipe at the snake god's head, dislodging something that had unknowingly gotten stuck there. Triumphian watched his coin fall on to Cthaasa, which allowed His Holiness to take notice of him.

The leech gave a weak
"assist" and winced in pain at his own words. As Augustus was still deep in prayer and Azungrada was focused on his fight, Triumphian lifted both his coin and the leech, and healed the latter.

"That's enough; there are heathens to deal with." Triumphian let go of the leech and made his way to Augustus.


It feels so good to eat.

The soldiers were in shambles. As soon as Frank informed the rest of them about the smokey mass of death, they mobilized, preparing everything for the upcoming, all out attack. The attack that would be in vain, partially thanks to the stomach of the oh-so-clever and so discreet Viscount.

He was having a ball, eating the delicious fear induced memories of himself.

"What do you think about that smoke monster Greg? Do you think Frank was just fucking with us?"

Let me just take a quick bite here and...

"W-what smoke creature? Are you on something again Jer?"

And another...

"I mean the... the... uhm... the what?"
"The smoke creature."
"What about it?"
"That's what I want to know!"
"I don't know anything about a smoke creature!"
"Then why'd you bring it up!"
"I... don't remember..."

Between the two creatures of smoke, it wasn't long before a good chunk of the soldiers were a big, disorganized, mess. Easy prey.


"Unhand vf you wretched heathen!"

"Please, enlighten kz, why should j?"

Though Azungrada was now poised to beat Assassin by quite a margin, the robot was no longer the only threat to Augustus. With Triumphian conscious and holding the Divine Arbiter's head in his sharp claws, Azungrada felt its subject in danger, but with the attack of Assassin, could do nothing without risking Augustus' life.

With the smiting option firmly impossible, Augustus opted to take advantage of his opponent’s sudden ability to mostly speak his language and attempted to initiate a debate.

"Because your brutish ways prove exactly what r knew! That you are nothing but r dirty heathen."

"e ought gr crush your skull for making such jh inaccurate assumption... but z will not."

Augustus was relived, he had tricked the stupid reptile! Now all he had to do was keep him busy long enough for Azungrada to show him true divine power.

Augustus still in his grip, Triumphian began the religious debate with the creation story of his species, not caring about the small words that for whatever reason couldn't come out correctly, and filling Augustus' unworthy head with the truth.

To Cthaasa, it was torture. Each word that left Triumphian's maw inflicted another bout of intense pain. It was the worst pain he ever felt, surpassing all of the pain and humiliation he felt before no thanks to Triumphian's preference for using the longest words possible. It was a rapid fire of bullets piercing through his brain, digging in as deep as they could and then exploding into smaller bullets that then shot outward. He wanted to end it all.
It hurt.
It hurt so much.

Cthaasa almost got his wish then Azungrada teared off Assassin's arm, and threw it toward the leech.

As the stray arm flew at him, he was frozen.
His life flashed.
And then it was black.

Worry not Cthaasa, though you may xt weak, v have more than enough power gh deal with any and all threats against us!" Cthaasa's eyes shot open as Triumphian's smug words, which felt like cold, yet burning knives ripping his brain and burning the wounds shut, etched themselves into his mind.. "Now... where was l? Yes! The glorious conquering yv our planet. Yooouuu ssseeeeeeehhhhhhheeeeeaaaaattttttthhhhheeeee- "

Cthaasa wished that the arm had killed him. Instead of a quick splat, he was covered in a gold glow, unable to move at all, and slowly dying as the pope's words started to bleed together into one constant feeling of pain. He was doomed. With the dinosaur focused on his own words, and his own pride, there was nothing that could make him shut up.

Everything felt like pain, as if his entire body was bleeding. Maybe it was? He couldn't tell. He couldn't feel anything. In his final moments, he only knew pain. It was over.

There was only one thing left for Cthaasa. It was a small glimmer of light that made the unbearable pain a single bit better. It was the thought that as soon as Azungrada finished destroying Assassin, Triumphian would be next.

He was wrong.
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 2: Oh Two Oh]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

As Cthaasa ceased to be, the world ground to a halt around the contestants. Applause, echoing from nowhere, gradually increased in volume, and soon, it was joined by a voice.

"Wonderful," it said, easily recognizable as belonging to the Apprentice, "that was just wonderful. I had my worries as you started out, but by the end, you proved yourselves worthy of this job offer after all."

Almost instantly, the contestants vanished, pulled back away to the Apprentice's domain.


Invading Malcontents: Terminated/Otherwise
Circumvent Generator: Repairing
Consciousness Creator: Active
Lingual Emulator: Repairing

Experiment Status: Complete

With all of the threats to the forest gone, the energy that kept the various functions of it active flowed through the forest. Buildings were rebuilt. Shards were scattered. Traces were covered. Assassin and Enforcer were deactivated. Corpses were removed. Everything was put back in its place. The forest once more prepared itself for the testing and teaching of a new robot. Only... this time it would be different.

A wave of aggression had swept the forest, and its consciousness would respond in turn.

Rebooting complete.
Initiating Retaliation Sequence.
Installing Military Data.
Starting Construction On Generation Two
Ace: 2% Complete


After a quick, brusque shift between dimensions, the combatants found themselves back within their individual rings, perspective and relative locations be damned. What had once been Cthaasa went with them as well, going back to its ring just like the round's survivors. The Apprentice, looking as calm and self-confident as always, reclined in his control-surrounded chair.

"You've all proven yourselves to be sufficiently qualified for what I've got in mind,” he said, drawing the words out in an attempt to emulate his mentor, “but unfortunately, merely being sufficiently qualified isn't quite enough. I'm looking for the best and the best only, so by the end of the next round, I've got two things I want you to have. Whoever succeeds at this goal will be rewarded. Whoever fails... not so much.

"The first thing you'll need to have is your coin; there's a reason I asked you all to carry them, and if you don't have yours come the end of this next round, I'm going to be a bit more harsh than I was this time around.

"The second thing is specific to each of you. When you arrive in your next location, you'll find yourselves in possession of a slip of paper, and it's up to you to have of the object it specifies by the time I pick you up again.

"Now, it wouldn't be fair for me to drop you into this next place without a bit of explanation, so let me give you a brief summary."

Casually, the group's captor reached out and flipped a switch. When nothing happened, he waited for a few seconds, then flicked another one. That time, the lighting in the area dimmed, and between him and the contestants, a flickering, rotating image appeared. It looked like someone had stuck a bunch of thorns on a massive, grey shoebox, then strapped the whole thing to some sort of art project that was all swoopy lines and pointless glass.

"At the end of a major war, certain members of the local military decided that they rather liked the dynamics of a wartime command structure, so they founded a group, calling themselves the Interstellar Appropriations Union. That group, lead by a woman who decided to promote herself to Admiral and forgo any other sort of name, hijacked the local military's flagship (the creatively-named Allied Military Vessel "AMV-020") and sailed it straight out of dry dock. This had a lot of complicated international implications, and after a lot of negotiating and about eight further months of war, the nation she and her group had stolen the ship from had ceased to exist. Left with no one to claim it back from her, the Admiral declared it rightfully hers and set about accumulating more power for herself and the IAU."

The Apprentice gestured to the image. "This was all about twenty years ago. Since then, she and her organization have been accumulating power fairly consistently. Not two years ago, as it happens, the IAU commandeered a cutting-edge cruise ship, simply named the Jewel, and they've essentially bolted it to that first ship they stole all those years ago, taking all of the modern technologies present on the Jewel and doing their best to make them useful on Oh Two Oh (as the military vessel is colloquially known). The end result is a ship that isn't exactly suited for high-inertia manoeuvres but is nevertheless armed to the teeth and well-suited for being run by a group not exactly known for their adherence to laws and regulations.

"In the end, it's a recipe for one thing. The IAU's stronghold has become a haven for criminals of all sorts and is, in many ways, a cultural icon. Even legitimate businesspeople come here to hock their wares, and if there's anything you need, it's practically guaranteed that someone in this massive, space-faring bazaar will be willing to sell it to you."

With a small grin, the Apprentice leaned forward and attempted to further emulate his mentor by steepling his fingers. "Now, because of the history of the place, people here are far from lax when it comes to protecting their property. If I found myself trying to get things from these people and I didn't have any money, I'd be careful. Thieves may be common here, but theft itself isn't terribly common. Those who try such things tend to have a way to end up on the wrong side of an airlock pretty quickly.

"That said, I'm sure you'll figure out a way to get me what I need. If you don't, well... explosive decompression isn't the worst way you can go."

With that, he reached out, flicked a switch, and sent the contestants on their way, scattering them to various locations across the two conjoined ships. Not a perfect transition, he reflected, but considering the systems he'd had to work around just to get it going at all, he was satisfied.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 2: Oh Two Oh]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

"He dares to call upon Azungrada as an errand boy?" Augustus growled. "Such insolence! Whoever this man is, he has earned himself nothing save our Judgement!"
In his rage, the Divine Arbiter was oblivious to the attention his tirade was drawing from the next table. In fact, it hadn't registered with him that there was a next table at all, or for that matter, that he had materialized in a tavern filled with unsavory types.
Three of the unsavory types in question watched Augustus' anstics for about five minutes, before he suddenly turned to his snake statue and went silent.

"So what do you make of this guy, Ab?" the smallest of the three asked as he climbed the side of his mug. "Drunk, or mad?"
Not waiting for an answer, the lizardlike creature removed his hooded cloak and dove into his drink, a contented smile on his face as his head popped above the surface.
"Goin' with mad," the largest of them replied, raising his own drink with one hand while scratching his chin with another and resting his lower pair of arms on the table. "And would you quit tossin' yer clothes around, Errat? Some of us prefer not to see our colleagues in the nude, y'know."
"But then I'd have to wear beer-soaked robes all day," Errat said, reclining. "Anyhow, 'snot my fault yer jealous of my body. Ain't that right, Ion?"
The blue-skinned humanoid simply snarled something incomprehensible, then poured one of his six beers out onto his forehead. He then smiled as his skin shifted to a light orange.
"I told you guys, I don't get involved in yer fights," Ion said, relaxing. "I'm only here for the business, and it seems to me that there's a good bit of it to be had here."
"It better be profitable, Ion," Ab growled. "Only reason I don't get picked on for bein' the only one at the table to actually drink is that I get paid well for stickin' with you losers."
"I do drink!" Ion protested, pouring another beer on his head and turning a pale green, and his voice took on a feminine tone. "I just do it through my skin. Far more convenient that way, I don't know why you other species insist on complicating it with so many ." He poured a third beer and turned a bright violet, his voice turning more serious. "But let's focus on the matter at hand. Would you like to know what that snake of his is made of?"
"Looks like silver to me," Ab replied, gulping down the last of his drink.
Ion shook his head.
Ab spewed his drink out in surprise. Ion turned jet-black as the drink struck his skin, and he continued, although sounding slightly more annoyed.
"Ahem. As I was saying. Other than the jewels in its eyes, that serpent is made, head to tail, of the purest sample of Zanite I've ever sensed. I'm sure you know what that means regarding its price."
Errat climbed out of his glass, dried himself on a napkin, and put his cloak back on. He smirked.
"Worth enough to risk the theft penalty?"
Ion nodded, then grabbed Errat's glass and poured it onto his hand. He turned a silvery color and smirked.
"Gotta say, Errat, you really add a nice flavor to this stuff."

Augustus' audience hadn't realized that their next victim was in the middle of a conversation. This was largely because he wasn't actually talking, and as far as they could see, no one was talking to him.
In truth, however, Augustus was receiving new orders from his God.
Recall your duty, Arbiter.
"To guide you to new worlds, and to judge the sinful," he said.
And is this not a new world? And does it not have sinners?
"It is, and it does, O Destroyer."
Do not lose sight of your duty, Arbiter. Judge this world. Judge their sins.
"Of... of course. I allowed my anger to blind me. Forgive me, O Destroyer."
Augustus could say nothing. That one word filled him with great sorrow, for he knew he had failed.
I am disappointed in you, Arbiter. You failed to retrieve me from the lake, and you are losing sight of your duty. You have performed well up to now, but I am beginning to have doubts.
"I swear, O Destroyer! I shall not fail you again!"
You must redeem yourself in my eyes, Arbiter. Punish the sinners of this world, and I may forgive you.
"I understand. But what of the man who sent us here?"
You may pass judgement on him once you have proven yourself a worthy Arbiter.
"Yes, O Destroyer."
Until then, as a punishment for your failure, you are to complete the tasks he assigns you. So long as they do not interfere with my will, of course.
That is my judgement. Do you question it, Arbiter?
"...I do not. I am your loyal servant, Azungrada."
But are you a capable servant? That is what concerns me.
"I shall prove my worth to you. I swear it."

Augustus snapped out of his trance. Azungrada had finished, and he was disappointed. And why not? Augustus had failed his God. There was no denying that.
He unfolded the slip of paper to learn the item he was to retrieve. He would find it, and then he would pass judgement on this new world, and prove himself worthy of his title.
"A petrified Roagarian Slugmonkey?" he muttered to himself. "What's that, and where could I possibly find one... urgh."
Augustus' thoughts were interrupted by a small venomous lizard biting his neck. He fell unconscious, his head landing on the table in front of him.
"There, got 'im," Errat said, hopping off his . "But I'm gonna want another beer. Humans taste awful."
"It'll have to wait," Ion said. "Ab, take the statue."
Ab sighed, wrapped all four arms around the snake, and lifted it up.
"Damn, this is heavy," he grumbled. "And I think it's movin' a little, too."
"Don't be absurd, Ab," Ion replied. "The Zanite's too thick for there to be any circuitry in there. It looks pretty flexible, you're probably feeling it swing around a bit."
"Feels more like strugglin' to me, and I oughta know," Ab muttered under his breath.
"Leave through the back," Ion continued, ignoring his larger colleague. "I'll start a distraction."
"Please tell me you don't mean a song," Errat sighed.
Ion opened up his jacket and dumped his sixth beer on his chest, turning turquoise as it soaked in.
"Thanks for the suggestion!" he said, grinning widely. "Meet up with you later. Don't go negotiating with the buyer without me."
Before either of his colleagues could say another word, Ion ran off to the middle of the tavern and began his song.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 2: Oh Two Oh]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

"Trust me, this is the best two-by-two you're gonna find out of Rigel."

The more alien of the two businessmen made a noise like a creaking tree, which conveyed his amusement about as well as his monotone translator did.

"Elta-de plans need little trust of brigands and middlemen. Proof preferable."

The drug dealer scowled, but conceded to fish around in a pocket and lay a single vial on the table. The Elta-de uncorked it with a thin augmented limb, picking up a black cube with a briefcase handle and a teapot spout with another. The vial's contents were gingerly poured in through a flap in the top, black smoke trickling moments later from the spout.

Devon tried not to shudder as the Elta-de's bad joke of a tongue-analogue uncoiled, and lapped at the smoke.

"Proven." The dealer relaxed a bit, but snapped back to attention with a horrifyingly wet sthlwip and stlap.

Devon dared opened his eyes, but the Elta-de was already grooming the grime of cheap space bars off its tonguetip.

"Little... rat," growled the alien, though it didn't seem very satisfied with its own explanation.

"A what now?"

"Fuzzy thing. Little legs. Vanished into smoke when struck."

"...How much of your magic box did you huff?"


Parliament, meanwhile, was trying to lean nonchalantly on a railing overlooking some kind of hangar. It wasn't doing a very good job, if only because nobody had found a decent reason within the constraints of the Laws to do so. It instead stood awkwardly upright and close to the ledge, a smattering of jailbirds earning a few curious glances from passers-by.

Luchesse, as accustomed, kept an eye and an ear and a spare one of each on the cohort, clacking his beak interrogatively at anyone who appeared with a penchant for trouble. Reynard said they'd wrangled some sort of border control after Kruger's stunt, but as usual were collectively butchering every bit of progress on it on the grounds whoever suggested it was trying to gain an upper hand and get executive control over who did what in the madhouse. The fish-owl turned his beak up at it all, more genuinely interested in the workings of this interstellar crime hive. Shame he had to make sure none of these imbeciles were stepping out of line, else he would've gone and explored it.

Luchesse felt, rather than saw, some kind of fwoosh behind him of a big bird materialising, and nodded differentially to the cassowary. There was some garish little weasel on its back he didn't recognise, so he gave it his best owl scowl until it shuffled about uncomfortably.

"Kittybrewster," the fish-owl said, letting his gawker-ward glare do most of the talking, "I trust there's a good reason for your conspicuous self out here."

"Guard duty, my feathered fellow inmate!" boomed the The Most Dangerous Bird.

"And jewellery appraisal," added his hitch-hiker, finding a bit of composure. "Pratts and Kittybrewster-"

"Kittybrewster and Pratts! I like it! Yes indeed, Tommy and I-"


"Tommy and I are doing an quick stocktake of Parliament's assets. All cleared internally, mind."

"The coins?" Lucchesse asked, sceptical and hating this Tourmaline Pratts a little more for probably being some kind of businessman.

"The coins!" echoed Kittybrewster.

"And other pertinent things, of course," muttered the starling, though with its head in a leather pouch nobody heard it.


"Well, they're not gold," warble-shrieked the starling through the substandard audio feed. The Interior winced as one, and someone asked where the hell Chordeilis and their other magical interior decorators had gotten to.

Then a bowerbird stuck its beak in, took a look around, and for lack of a less despised central authority skulked up to Reynard, who was still messing with his barely-existent memo system. A rather stupid-looking bird with what appeared to be three popsicle sticks on its head and a sentence for white-collar crime asked who that was, as it departed again quickly.

"Cameron. He's scouring the dregs for anybody with inside information on this station. Or, for that matter, whatever in Dante we were instructed to fetch by our prospective employer."

"Oh, you mean the ambergalactris shipment?"

Reynard stared down his beak for a while, wishing this little greaser was a pigeon just so he could make a joke about stools. Or something. A bearded tit a few benches down snorted.

"Fool's errand. Etymologies in that butchered worse than my last wife."

There was an uncomfortable silence, which still failed to hammer home the point in the quail's head.

"So, I'm not quite caught up. Are we supposed to have all those coins? Didn't you lose this contest if you lost yours?"

"Yes, you imbecile," was going to be Reynard's initial reply, but then it occurred to him that he'd missed that specific meeting as well. The task force on inter-contestant negotiations had the exceptionally sulky mockingbird and the Sade, which made the ever-delightful Ms. Archer's company that much more intolerable.

The tit saved his ass, fortunately for the serial killer.

"Implicit non-verbal negotiations have sealed a contract. Of sorts. We are allies, thus we are merely holding onto the coins for our 'allies' benefit."

"But we didn't-"

"But they cannot. Refute it. If the opportunity comes for them to turn against us! They are foe. We have made foe lose their coin, and their position in the contest is forfeit."

"Riiiiiight. But hang on-"

Then the court jesters burst in.

"We're fuckin' defecting!"


"Screw you politico jackasses, we're gonna be wizards!"


Ms. Archer was about to find out from Chordeilis how progress was going on hashing out a detention area for the likes of Zil and September, when Chordeilis' absenteeism finally registered. Letting a similar train of thought pull out of the metaphorical station, Kisa Matila wasn't here either.


The drongo gave the secretary a blank look, so September laughed for the both of them.

"Gyahahahahahaha! If you weren't some kinda heartless robo-bitch, you'd be defectin' too!"

"Yeah! They've got a jacuzzi and a smokers' lounge and everything!"

"<font size="1">... A JACUZZI?
Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 2: Oh Two Oh]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Captain Jessica Blaus just didn't get it. She was sitting down in the somewhat respectable cabin of her ship, downing another beer and wondering where it all went wrong. What had happened? It wasn't supposed to be this way, she was supposed to be a great space pirate, not some second rate smuggler with only one loyal crew member and a mountain of dead traitors. It just wasn't supposed to be this way.

That wasn't wishful thinking or denial, it was pure fact. Or to be exact, pure fate. Captain Blaus believed in fate to an extent that not many on Oh Two Oh could match. This was not out of some gypsy or similar external source, it was due to a racial inclination. As the lavender lady, dressed in a black long-coat and boots with a brown tank-top and pants underneath, wrapped her five fingers around her beer, the golden-haired Tsote wondered what went wrong. Had her affinity with fate somehow waned? No, it couldn't have. To even think such a thing was terrifying, as if there was a large hole on her body. For her, not believing and being connected with fate would be like leaving an Alvum without a place.

Speaking of, her only loyal crew member, an Alvum decked out in somewhat worn powered battlearmor armor, patched haphazardly like a metal quilt, and various cleaning implements, descended to report a successful disposal of the latest traitor brought upon their ship.

"Yes Dolsy?" Her words were without much feeling, as she already knew what he would say.


"Thank you Dolsy, you may return to your quarters now."

"YES SIR, GLORIOUS CAPTAIN BLAUS." The Alvum saluted and then did as he was told, loyal as ever. Jessica sighed. If she had anyone else as loyal as Dolur'rui'Srar, then maybe she wouldn't be in her current position. Down on her luck, barley able to pay for fuel and supplies, unable to keep a crew member for much longer than a single mission, and worst of all, doubting fate, Captain Jessica Blaus reminisced on how she had met the isolated Alvum, how she had proven herself superior, and continued to do so as she dealt with all of the wretched traitors over the years. She was surprised to find the poor creature, all alone and without anyone to be loyal too, unstable and empty. She shuddered at those memories and how closely it resembled a Tsote who had lost their way with fate.

It was not the kind of thought that she enjoyed. The captain finished her beer and then rubbed her head, dejected, defeated, and longing. She longed for a miracle.

And a miracle she would receive.

Jessica was about to leave and go bar hopping when very suddenly a giant red dinosaur appeared in the cabin, right in front of her. The arched creature seemed to be wearing a long, white hat and matching robes. His clawed hand was clutching a staff and a piece of paper, and he looked... not quite angry, but not neutral either, a bit less pleased she would say. The reptilian creature pointed the staff at her and she noticed that it was starting to glow.

"Inform me of my location, lest we both regret what happens," he said to her, his voice full of authority.

As Jessica replied with "On board The Moirai," and a slew of other facts, she considered her options. The creatures hide looked too thick for her gun to do any real damage; in fact, the creature itself was too large for her to really do anything, at least with what she had on hand right here. Really, there was only one thing on her ship that she thought could deal any lasting damage on the thing that was threatening her by glowstick.

The moment that the creature turned around, she drew her gun and shot it, making an incision, but as she quickly found out, only serving to make him angry. As she dodged the creature's charge, Dolur'rui'Srar rushed out of his quarters and into the room, straight into the charging reptile. The two struggled, with Dolur's powered armor and multiple arms giving him an edge. However, the edge did not last long as the creature somehow repelled him shortly after.

Captain Blaus looked in confusion as Dolur was pushed back so effortlessly. The creature turned to her, his staff still glowing, and lifted the staff in the air, the glow spreading to his body, and noticeably healing the bullet wound and Alvum inflicted bruises.

"Who... who are you?"

Before the creature could answer, Dolur charged once more, only to find that his attacks did absolutely nothing to the now glowing reptile. "But... but how?"

The dinosaur smiled as he calmly walked to face both of them at once. "I, am His Holiness the Glorious Pope Triumphian the First of the Holy Empire of Lagran. While I admire your bravery, I am afraid that you will not defeat me. However, as a reward, I will allow you to peacefully convert to my reign."

As a show of good faith, the so-called Pope sent out a beam of light toward his new converts, both of them glowing for a bit and then feeling rejuvenated.

Following up on their surprise, Triumphian began. "As you can see I am powerful, but the power is nothing compared to that of my god. It is through him that you have healed and it is him that you now owe allegiance to. Be glad, for as soon as we return to my empire, I shall award you for your formidable courage. Where is the rest of this ships crew?"

Jessica and Dolur were frozen. In mere moments, they went from fighting this monster out of fear to silently praising their defeat. Dolur was convinced, partially due to his defeat and partially due to his instinctive inclination towards those holy that Triumphian was the real deal. He felt that the powers emitted by the Pope were above him, above anything he had ever seen. Jessica on the other hand, saw this as fate taking her out and then spiking her drink. She didn't really care if Triumphian's god was real or not, what was important was that if she did this, and if he was telling the truth, which judging by the clothes and powers, he was, then she would have her ticket into gaining power and notoriety as a Space Pirate, just as her fate promised. The only issue of course, was that neither knew where his empire was.

"Your Holiness, I am afraid that this is the acting crew of The Moirai, I am Captain Jessica Blaus, and this is my loyal First Mate, Dolur'rui'Srar."

"A ship this large and only two members?" Triumphian squinted in suspicion.


"Traitors you say? Worry no longer, for under the power of our God, I shall amass a powerful, capable, and loyal crew. Captain, come with me, we shall see who of these criminals are worth enlightenment."

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 2: Oh Two Oh]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

The room she was in was dark and small and cramped. She could feel something pressing against her side.

With some thuds and some banging that made something fall on her head, she balanced on two legs and maneuvered a few of her arms around until one of them was in front of her face, clutching a piece of paper. She blinked through her coin and through her goggles. The little slip read ‘please obtain one (1) spacebot.’

She really didn’t appreciate any of this. She really wasn’t obligated to do anything for some guy who teleported her in some cramped closet and ordered her around without even any payment up front. She wanted to know what this supposed job was, she guessed, but only because she was curious. And she had to admit that she wasn’t one to not show off her skills. Even if she didn’t know whatever the hell a ‘spacebot’ was.

Her musings were suddenly interrupted by somebody opening the door. She just barely managed to avoid sprawling out on the floor by quickly propping a foot down before she fell. The being that had opened the door was annoyingly unfamiliar to her, vaguely shaped like a vole, but noticeably nothing like one. Its plated shell was jet black and covered its entire back. Its snout seemed to actually be its mouth, which opened three ways and was ringed by thin tendrils that twitched in the air. Its underside held a pouch.

None of this was especially interesting to Cepra, who quickly reached over and clamped its mouth shut with one hand and held a threateningly sharp claw to its throat with another. It was only then she took the chance to casually look around.

What she had just tumbled out of was some sort of storage room, holding what seemed to be a surprisingly large number of weapons. Looking back, she saw that the not-vole was unfolding a third arm from behind its back and trying to silently prepare some other sort of weapon. With a swift backhand, it went clattering to the ground.

“Nothing personal,” she said, sounding vaguely distracted. “You were just unfortunate.” And she slit its throat before tossing it into the storage room she had so recently been transported in. After a second thought, she took a sizeable pouch off of the not-vole’s belt. It jingled.

Cepra pushed her way through some sort of rug that served as a doorway to the stall outside, which happened to be decorated with colorful fruits. A rather small alien paused in the middle of snatching away something plump and yellow, but she waved a jangling hand and stepped over the wares. The little alien kid blinked some exceedingly large eyes before dashing off.

Despite some unfamiliar surroundings, Cepra knew a black market when she saw one. And she relaxed. She knew this. She knew her way around this place, metaphorically if not physically.

She walked, doing her best to tower over the crowd, and made a beeline for another stall, making eye contact with the owner and giving a curt nod. The owner nodded in return and rolled backwards to pull aside the curtains for her and they both ducked in.

“Tell me where to find spacebots,” she said before the stall owner had a chance to reveal his secret stock.

Behind a face that looked like a gas mask, the alien hesitated. “Hhhhhwon’t be easy. Hhhhhnot open to public.”

Cepra flipped a few of the recently-pilfered currency at the thing. “That’s fine. Just tell me where.”

“Hhhhhyou want military stuff. Hhhhhbehind high-clearance. Hhhhhhcloser to the bridge, to the Admiral.”

It didn’t really mean anything to her beyond one of the words sounding like a word she had half-heard while mostly ignoring whatever the squishy employer said. But it certainly sounded challenging.

She left. It didn’t occur to her to ask what a spacebot looked like in the first place.

Re: The Fearsome Encounter (GBS3G8) [Round 2: Oh Two Oh]
Originally posted on MSPA by Akumu.

The corridors of Oh-Two-Oh had been built with a military efficiency, unsurprising for a military vessel but leaving little in the way of usable space. The ship, as large as it was, was sparse on wide open areas that could accommodate the bustling crowds that a healthy black market would need. As such, one of the Admiral’s first acts as leader of the newly-formed IAU was to gut two of the AMV-020’s residential decks, leaving a structureless metal plain stretching from edge to miles-away edge of the ship, pierced here and there with support struts and electrical conduits. Into this empty space those with high ambition and low regard for the law began to pour, building it back up into the scrap metal shantytown that it was today. And it was into this space that Redclaw found himself deposited.

He and Triumphian had managed to batter each other into unconsciousness back in the forest, and he had awoken to the tail end of the Apprentice’s speech. Something about thieves and explosions. Now he was in the midst of a tossing sea of beings, most of them looking little like either himself or a human. He was surrounded by squat buildings, and worst of all he was enclosed, a metal ceiling blocking out the sky above. Clutched in his hand was a simple piece of white paper that read only, “AM Torpedo.” While he was still taking this in, something jabbed him in the haunch.

“Hey buddy, keep it moving! Some of us have deliveries to make!”

Redclaw turned and found a rough approximation of a human glaring up at him, though its head was shaped like an arrowhead with fluttering flaps on its edges, its arms ended in spade-like blocks of flesh that currently grasped a medium-sized crate, and it looked overall quite rubbery. Oh, and instead of legs it seemed to have an endless supply of tentacles holding it up. As Redclaw watched, it lifted up a pair of these tentacles and made a gesture at him that he could only assume was extremely rude.

With a snarl, Redclaw whipped an arm out, raking his claws at the boor’s face. Ragged strips of flesh were torn away and a gout of coppery green blood splashed out onto the surrounding crowd, who kept their heads down and just tried to go about their business. The force of the blow twisted the thing’s head around, and though there was not the satisfying crack of a snapped spine, it still went limp as it toppled to the ground. Its crate dropped to the ground and tipped over, spilling out packing material and a dozen leathery eggs that rolled around the Redclaw’s feet. In an instant, small creatures darted out from the shadows of the ramshackle buildings, weaved through the feet of the passing throngs and swarmed around the werewolf, squabbling over the eggs. Perhaps they were children, or perhaps that was all the bigger their kinds got. Redclaw paid them no mind, flicking the green ichor off his fingers and standing tall to see over most of the heads of the crowd.

The avenue he was on stretched away in both directions, floor and ceiling converging in the distance with no sign of open sky. The stench of thousands of living creatures was accented by the tang of ozone, all of it serving to overwhelm his most finely-tuned sense. His first priority at this point was to get away, to get back to nature. He crouched down, scattering those small scavengers who had not yet scurried away with their bounty, and leapt to the top of the nearest building. Its sheet metal roof, roughly riveted around the edges, bowed under his weight as he landed. The rooftops were more sparsely populated than ground level, though they looked to have a life of their own. Under the oppressively close ceiling, planks were laid across the thoroughfares from one roof to another, forming a second-story network of paths. Creatures light enough to be supported by those paths could be seen hurrying here and there, clutching parcels and computer tablets in one sort of appendage or another. They quickly made way when Redclaw began bounding across the rooftops.

He was making good progress, and he could see now that there was a boundary wall at the edge of the town. Each leap from building to building brought him closer to wall, and beyond it, freedom. Then, an overenthusiastic jump, a fume-corroded crossbeam, and Redclaw tore through the ceiling of a rowdy tavern and crashed down through a wooden table. Mugs went flying, and those who had been nursing them jumped up with a galaxy’s worth of curses. The turquoise humanoid who had just begun leading the bar in a rousing traditional Irokwan drinking song from atop a nearby table screeched and jumped down to duck behind it.

A lizard clutched onto the furry upper shoulder of his oversized companion clambered up to its ear to be heard over the din, hissing “Way better distraction than Ion’s singing. Let’s hoof it!”