The Battle Royale S2 [Round 4: Burnination Studios]

The Battle Royale S2 [Round 4: Burnination Studios]
Originally posted on MSPA by Fakeimposter.

It was cracking and splitting and dying and it did not know what to do. Not yet not yet they still stand so they must fall not yet. It could not mutter a sound, it could not scream as it was forced to embrace it's temporary oblivion. It's skin cracked and it's arms stiffened and it's voice was silenced. It could not run, it could not fight, it could only wait until it's agony was ended. With one last stumble toward Sirius, Umbra's body died. It disintegrated and nothing was left. Sereno convulsed in his sleep. He could feel his heart stopping, His brain cells screaming, his life ending. And then he woke up, as always, gasping for air. He woke up cold and scared in a battle arena filled with freaks. Umbra was gone, Sereno realized. It would take a while before it... Formed again. But until then Sereno was going to have to deal with these participants on his own. Sereno gripped his knife tightly as the freaks looked in his direction.
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius groaned, slowly getting to his feet.

Even with his blurry vision and lack of depth perception, he could tell the monster was gone. But he also was missing an eye, and had been seriously wounded.

Despite everything, he struggled to retain his focus. Energy began gathering at his hands. Expecting an attack, most of the others scattered; but Geoff readied his crossbow to counter, and Steinwaffe jumped in front of Sirius, hoping to shield the others with his body from whatever deadly spell was being prepared.

Their fears were for naught. Sirius' next word was "Rejuvenation."

A light surrounded the angel, and his wounds healed, his lost eye regrowing. He turned to look around and regain his bearing. He winced at the sight of his own eyeball rolling on the ground.

"That's rather disturbing," he commented, quickly turning away. As he noticed the gaze of the other contestants focused on him, he took on a stern expression.

Though he didn't say a word, the message came across clear enough - What are you all starting at now?

Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius groaned, slowly getting to his feet.

Even with his blurry vision and lack of depth perception, he could tell the monster was gone. But he also was missing an eye, and had been seriously wounded.

Despite everything, he struggled to retain his focus. Energy began gathering at his hands. Expecting an attack, most of the others scattered; but Geoff readied his crossbow to counter, and Steinwaffe jumped in front of Sirius, hoping to shield the others with his body from whatever deadly spell was being prepared.

Their fears were for naught. Sirius' next word was "Rejuvenation."

A light surrounded the angel, and his wounds healed, his lost eye regrowing. He turned to look around and regain his bearing. He winced at the sight of his own eyeball rolling on the ground.

"That's rather disturbing," he commented, quickly turning away. As he noticed the gaze of the other contestants focused on him, he took on a stern expression.

Though he didn't say a word, the message came across clear enough - What are you all starting at now?

Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Oh no.

The photographer stared down horrified at the camera. Her lens...they were ruined.

Usually, it wasn't a big deal. Usually, he could just go out and buy a replacement. Although he didn't know much, he at least knew that there would be no lens replacements here. He wouldn't be able to take any pictures. He was not a photographer.

What little confidence he had was now gone. The not-photographer half knelt half melted to the floor, clutched his head and started to cry pathetically as his only two friends tried to comfort him.

"I...I'm useless! I don't, I don't have..." And from there it moved on to unintelligible blubbering.

There was now the awkward atmosphere that comes when in the vicinity of a crying man-thing.

Originally posted on MSPA by Nodge.

Tim looked up from his hunched position to find the first thing he made eye contact with was, well, an eye. Sirius' eye. His mind whirred as he considered what a self-confessed angels' eye would be worth to his pedantic, pendant-bound pre frontal-lobe pantheon; surely enough to protect him if and when the real fighting started?
He glanced around at the other members of the group, who were all distracted watching Sirius, Sereno or the Photographer. Quickly, he reached down, snatched up the eye and dropped it into the small, rigid compartment in the tip of his sword-sheathe designed to secret a whetstone. He rarely used it for such, and was extremely glad that it was empty today.
Rising to his feet and sub-consciously wiping his hand on his trouser leg, he edged away from the group a little and towards the man who was sat on what, to Swhales, was as good as a stack of gold bars.
Wardell appeared to have maintained most of his decorum throughout the fighting and general ruckus and was sat, apparently peacefully reading. Swhales, from a time which had not yet seen the advent of the printing press, struggled not to drool at the fact that the mans' seat could have fed him for years. The worth of these items was not the only thing to consider; some of the gods were connected to knowledge or secrets and prized such things as sacrifices. Tim was well aware that the favour of the Gods, even mad ones, would not go amiss right now, perhaps (and here he surprised himself) even more than the money.
He breathed deeply; the man was sat on them, surely he didn't value them that much? He might be willing to part with just one or two without any trouble...
He stepped over. "Excuse me Sir," he said as formally as he could manage to Wardell "Can I borrow a book?"

Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

[background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]"Ok. Just, please, hold it for a second."[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=black:2ihyx3qg]The Observer glanced up from his surveillance of his latest battle, to be greeted (again) by the displeased glare of the Composer. He looked slightly nonplussed, considering his battle had been moving rather slowly anyway. She sighed, leaned forward, adjusted some screens, and brought up a chaotic, eye-wateringly colourful pocket dimension. Finger stabbed in accusation at the Eccentric, the Composer queried as acidly as she could without physically spitting venom, "you're allowing that to run one of your battles?"[/background:2ihyx3qg]

"Well, uh, it's doing all right, isn't it?"[background=black:2ihyx3qg] The Observer took a perverse delight in seeing the look of flabbergasted fury on the Composer's face, before she leaned in close and hissed in his face.[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]"I have no idea what kind of debacle you think you're running here, Observer, but I refuse to tolerate it any longer. That abomination is making a mockery of our noble game."[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=black:2ihyx3qg]The Observer stared unblinkingly back at the irate Grandmaster, trying to figure if he'd survive longer by pleading ignorance or changing the subject. He settled for a shrug; the Composer sighed deeply, and turned on her heel. She faced away from the relieved Observer, intently studying the screen as her outline was picked up and scattered by an invisible breeze. In a few moments, she was gone.

The Observer leaned in, noting the robed woman who'd materialised silently behind Zephyr. He winced just a little as the cold, crush-grip hands lunged forward before anyone could react and snapped the boy's neck.

[background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]"Now. We can start to get things back on track again."[/background:2ihyx3qg][background=black:2ihyx3qg] Unceremoniously dropping the body at her feet, the Composer's cold voice rang out, with just a hint of a smirk.[/background:2ihyx3qg][background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg] "Oh, this is nothing personal,"[/background:2ihyx3qg][background=black:2ihyx3qg] she added, idly stepping round Zephyr's prone form,[/background:2ihyx3qg][background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg] "I've just had quite enough of humans. Eccentric."[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=black:2ihyx3qg]A lone tentacle made the circuitous, yet respectful journey from summit down to the Composer's stiffly extended hand, who took it with a minimum of visible disgust as the telepathic conversation started in earnest.[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]I'll be taking over from here, madgod.

[background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]... Technical complications. I assure you, though, I'm quite capable of running this to your satisfaction.[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=black:2ihyx3qg]I'd wager you a pig to a porcupine you couldn't, little songmaker.[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=black:2ihyx3qg]The Composer's grin shifted a little, but she pressed on. [/background:2ihyx3qg][background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]Well... this-[/background:2ihyx3qg][background=black:2ihyx3qg] the lone word carried the inflection of a whole little mad domain, dancing tantalisingly across the Eccentric's inner eye before the Grandmaster before him pressed on [/background:2ihyx3qg][background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]-was what I was considering. I trust it passes muster?[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=black:2ihyx3qg]The Eccentric was going to admit, that yes, it did look rather interesting, when the Composer's half-smile hardened, and his piecemeal consciousness was suddenly flooded, overloaded, with the arena affixed in his mind. Tendrils flailed wildly, snatching the startled contestants even as the Eccentric began to burrow, against his own volition, through reality to the world the Composer was burning into its mad mind. The blank, white eyes were locked unblinkingly upon the writhing myriad that towered above, awaiting the turning point.[/background:2ihyx3qg]

[background=#80BFFF:2ihyx3qg]The eight had made it through; the Composer wasted no time. Dragging the all-consuming image from the Eccentric as savagely as she'd rammed it in, she herself leapt to her familiar between-space, and set about walling off her arena (and contestants) from unwelcome intrusion. Taking a deep breath and checking for any stray Eccentric tendrils, the Composer raised a few windows to observe the goings-on in her other battle, and, settled, greeted her new motley crew.

"My apologies for the... unorthodox opening to this battle. I assure you from this point on, we will be proceeding with... a modicum of sanity." There was the tiniest little sound, a smirk made audible, at the end of that, before the Composer proceeded.

"Welcome, contestants, to what will, for all but one of you, be the last fight of your life - the Battle Royale.
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.


The Composer stood a little straighter, her usual cool demeanour returning now that things were how they were meant to be - with the mortals doing the fighting, while she observed their antics on high. The contestants were scattered in a field, a discomfiting endless void on one side, the grim visage of a factory on the other.

"It is my pleasure to cordially welcome you all to the surreal nightmare realm of a certain Bastard Boy. To my understanding, as well as potential hazards in the factory, somewhere there may be a portal. Where it leads is up to you to discover - assuming you dare enter."

The Composer let them consider that for a moment, then added almost as an afterthought, "and out in the distance, you may spot the arcology. I am admittedly uncertain as to its contents. It's probably not too important."

Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Steinwaffe looked around, not knowing precisely how to feel. On the one hand, things were finally getting underway, which frightened him-- sooner or later, he'd have to kill someone, and aside from that incompetent of an angel he was not looking forward to this. On the other hand, the Eccentric had been replaced, which managed to put him on ease and worry him at the same time. He stared out at the Arcology, as the new one called it. He was curious what laid there, and more importantly, he knew that it was unlikely for anyone without wings to travel there. He got next to Sirius, crouched slightly, and slugged the angel in the face before taking off towards the mysterious complex.
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius rubbed his face. The suddenness of the transition and the death of Zephyr had surprised him, and he had been too busy regaining his bearing to notice Steinwaffe until the gargoyle was right in front of him.

He was also concerned. As much as the Eccentric had frustrated him, this Composer was somehow even more unsettling. First, there was the implication that there were more beings with the powers comparable to the Eccentric's, and some of them might share his... sensibilities. Furthermore, while the Eccentric had simply been strange, the Composer seemed as if she was scheming.

And then he paused. Composer? Why do I think her name - or title - is Composer? She never said it, did she? The thought made him even more uncomfortable.

He looked around. Most of his opponents were still looking at him uncomfortably; hardly surprising, considering his earlier outburst. No matter. He had little interest in them. Nor in the factory; he had an uncomfortable feeling that whatever lay that way would make no sense, and he wanted nothing to do with it.

Sirius walked to the edge of the cliff, and flew towards the arcology. If the Composer was to be taken at her word, even she, with all her powers, had no idea what was in there. In which case, it presented the best opportunity of escaping from her grip.

Of course, he also knew it was unwise to take her at her word.

Originally posted on MSPA by Nodge.

Tim watched Sirius fly away and spat noisily over the edge of the cliff. Good riddance. Briefly, he reflected on the death of the man he'd never talked to and decided Macha was unlikely to take him as a human sacrifice if he couldn't present her with the body. He cursed, quietly.
Wardell seemed as surprised as he ever did by this turn of events, clutching one of his valuable books to his face. Blast it. Swhales lunged forwards, grabbed one of the tomes scattered across the floor by their arrival, straightened up and walked confidently into the factory without looking back.
Traps? He could do traps no problem, but if he had to play nice for five more minutes, he'd get the Composer to snap his neck and be done with it.

Inside, as terrible sickening smells assaulted his nose and pounding industrious noises made a spirited play at bursting his eardrums he waited for a moment for his eyes to adjust and tried to remember which of his Gods the Composer was.
Then his eyes adjusted to the gloom and he stopped thinking about anything except throwing up everything he had ever eaten.
Tim had seen terrible things, done terrible things in the name of making himself money. He regretted very few of them, and even then only because they had nearly gotten him caught. The room he had walked into made him want to scream until he could no longer breathe.
Overhead, a flailing tornado of suspiciously human looking tissues writhed across the ceiling, terminating in an immense grinder that filled almost an entire wall. Some crazed butcher had put a window in it; a detached part of Tim wondered what it was made of, to withstand such a beating as whole organs bounced from the threshing blades and slammed into it. A spigot at its' base poured the processed meat onto a conveyor belt, sending it off into the factory. Time leaned forward over the fast-moving strip and carefully extricated a piece. It was a fingernail.

After a little while he felt able to stand. He scraped together what resolve he could and set off into the darkness of the factory. Grimly, he became sure of one thing as he walked; someone would be staying here. Someone would end up in that grinder, on that conveyor belt, as that mince. Meat for the mill.

He had to do everything he could to make sure that it was not him.

Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

The not-photographer didn't pay much attention to anything, still full of self-pity and uncertainty of what to do next. He only looked up once he found he was suddenly kneeling in a field. The field didn't look particularly...nice. It was strange...? He couldn't figure out why, though. There was a factory and a dome and the scenery made for an interesting picture.'Contrast between Nature and...Industrializaion?' An environmentalist message maybe? But when he put the camera up as per instinct, he remembered well...the lens were useless and got depressed again.

The factory. The camera pointed it out again and he realized that factories...that would mean machines and something to talk to and maybe, possibly new camera lens. Factories made camera lens, right? So he should go to the factory so that he could be the photographer again.

As he started towards the dark factory, he didn't notice the knife and the camera whispering to each other.

He won't be able to replace those lens. Not in a battle like this.

I know.

What will you do now? You're no longer a camera. You're...trash.

I can still help him.

How? You can't--

There are things we can do other than what we are made for. You know that, don't you?


I hope...I hope he can figure that out soon...

The knife fell silent, keeping his more pessimistic thoughts to himself.

Eventually, the dark being entered the factory and found that the factory had nothing to do with camera lens. He was a little disappointed. There were only large meat grinders and...meat stalactites? A lot of dead things everywhere. He had no idea what specifically they were.

The only things he could talk to here were the meat grinders and the conveyor belts that constantly moved the meat along. He had also seen a figure, its back retreating into the darker corners of the factory, but he was sure that was a person. Unsure of what to do, he just called out, "Hello?"

Don't talk to them, the camera snapped, surprising him. She sounded...tense? But the camera always knew more than he did and so he ignored the droning replies of the conveyor belt. He moved on, trying to avoid dripping meat juices and any meat that had fallen unheeded. He couldn't help but feel a little tired. Maybe there was a room he could find to take a little nap.

Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius flew around the arcology. There was only one entrance, as far as he could see. He landed and tried opening the thick metal door.

It was locked. Of course.

Undeterred, he tried knocking on the outer glass. It seemed reasonably thick - too much for a physical blow to break. Fortunately, he had other means of destroying it.

"Angel Sphere!" he shouted, firing a blast at the arcology's glass exterior.

The sphere simply bounced off, back towards the cliff.

Sirius cursed his luck. Magically-resistant glass, too? It seemed this had been a waste of his time. He couldn't force his way in, and the door...

The door.

Sirius recalled the worthless coward who had danced and juggled for the Eccentric's amusement. According to their former host, the young man had some form of power over doors. Perhaps a bargain was in order.

Sirius spread his wings once more, and flew back towards the cliff.

Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

To Geoff, the place place felt... off somehow. He could accept the odd landscape and the strange dome in the distance. He could accept the bloody, foreboding building. He could even accept the strange, unfocused background. There was no one thing, really, that made this place... wrong. It just was.

He glanced around, looking for the kid. He'd been all concerned about doors, and there were no doubt going to be some in that factory building.

Clearly, he felt the same way- after just a few moments of standing frozen in place, he'd streaked off towards it. Geoff shouted after him to hold up, but the kid didn't listen. He just headed for the entrance, pulled it open, and went in. Geoff had the height advantage, though, and his long legs helped him close the gap enough to grab the door before it closed.

They found themselves standing on a balcony inside the building, overlooking the... operations.

Geoff had seen plenty of murders, and he'd learned to tolerate the gore. He'd been in butcher shops, too. Sometimes both at once.

Nothing even came close. This wasn't just deranged, it was full-on mad. Whoever had built this place obviously had no sense of... any sort of rightness.

Geoff managed to hold it together. Jeremy wasn't so lucky. He turned back to the door and vomited through it. Geoff saw a door on the other side of the factory open, and the kid's head stuck through and vomited.

Geoff gave him a minute to finish.

Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

Jeremy is on a spasm-inducing arena. Things are happening. People are yelling. Stuff happens and it's kinda weird and suddenly Jeremy is in a field.

"The... fuck..." Jeremy whispers to himself as his inner ear copes with the sudden change. As he stumbles for balance, a factory moves into view. FACTORY! IT HAS DOORS OH "SWEET JESUS YES" He sprints towards the entrance, visions of isolated mountain cottages filled with women, inner-city clubs with drugged-up half-naked youths pressing against each other fill his mind. He wants to drown himself in... whatever he can find, to forget this whole experience.

He grabs ahold of the door knob, an assortment of locations rush past his vision. He is in such a rush that he does not notice he can feel no link forming in the door. He opens the door...

... and is greeted by horror incarnate.

The strength is sapped from his legs. He struggles not to fall. He does not know how long he stands there; he can't move, he can't think, he can't even yell.

After an indeterminate amount of time, he gasps, not realizing he'd been holding his breath. A terrifying stench fills his nostrils, and this is enough to spur him to motion.

He turns back towards the stupid stupid evil door, sticks his head out, and vomits. Profusely.

The force of the vomiting finally brings him to he knees, and he stumbles back

As he sits there, gasping for breath, his mind begins to churn into motion. Ok. Ok. So the door didn't actually link me to the dimension of hell and suck. It just opened like a regular door into...<font size="4">"Holy fuck, what the hell kind of factory is this..."
... yeeah. There was no link! No LINK! Jeremy stands back up, weakly, and turns towards the closed door. Except the second time... He moves back to the door, places his hand on it, and closes his eyes. He feels. Every door-candidate in the immediate area calls to him. As he spreads his awareness outwards, he can feel every door in the factory, and then, suddenly, a much more distant door, off in the distance, isolated. Isolated! Definitely not in this.... hell.. place... thing. Whatever. Totally goin' there. A polite cough sounds behind him before he opens the door, startling him.

"HOLY what the SHIT, Geoff man what the hell are you doin' here?!"
</font>"I was following you. You did say you could get us out of here if you could find a door, didn't you?"
Jeremy gestures sheepishly, "Yeah, uh, about that... not gonna work. No time to explain, mostly because I don't know what the fuck's goin' on. But... I can get us out of Hannibal's Restaurant here." Geoff doesn't react to the reference, spurring a muttered "Goddamn fucking aliens are gonna be so fucking boring" from Jeremy, before a much louder, "Anyways here we go!" He grabs the doorknob, and the link forms. He opens the door to a grassy field, the factory in the distance, separated by a vast chasm. He breaths in the fresh air as Geoff closes the door behind him.

"Ahh, that's better. Now to forget that place even exists..." Jeremy turns and looks at the building he's just come "out" of. "... what do you make of this, buddy?"

Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Narcolepsy, although humorous at the right time, is very inconvenient for the narcoleptic. The ex-photographer had barely enough time to retreat to a corner before falling over, asleep.

For a few minutes, nothing happened. Then his surroundings started to change as his dream leaked out into reality. The walls and floor seemed to warp and shift and even whisper, though they didn't seem to have anything to say. Soon, a figure faded in, looking almost like the dreamer but not quite. He was shorter and seemed to be more solid. He wasn't blocky but shaped more like a stumpy human. He wore a headband that seemed less like a headband and more like a part of him. He held an air of confidence and strength. Most importantly, he didn't seem to be losing shape like his living counterpart.

Leaving an impression that he had dealt with this sort of thing before, the Dream scooped up his dreaming pal as best as he could and threw him over his shoulder before scanning his surroundings. Beyond the boundaries of the dream, he took in with distaste the macabre factory. Not even the worst nightmares came close to this. 'Course, the photographer's worst nightmares were more about his fears personified jumping out at him like so many Freddie Kruegers. Not a whole disgusting meat factory.

The Dream couldn't help but notice that there were some people on the other side of the room going out the door that led to some sort of grassy field. "Hey," he said, though it didn't seem they heard him. As they shut the door, he quickly walked over where they were, the small dreamscape moving with him. But when he opened the door, it didn't lead to the same field. There was a field, but it was a lot duller. Less natural looking. Also, there hadn't been an angel on the other side.

The angel stepped back in surprise, not expecting the door to open itself. The Dream squinted up at him, vaguely recalling one of the ex-photographer's memories. "Serious," he said.

Annoyance once more overcame surprise and the angel glared down. "Sirius."


"Who are you?"

"You know that photographer guy? I'm his dream." This seemed to annoy Sirius more, though the Dream wasn't sure why. The door wriggled slowly and muttered.

Sirius decided to ignore this for the time being. There were more important things. "Have you seen that cowardly fool?"

"Which one?" the short being replied mildly. It wasn't helping his temper.

"The one who opens doors," he said before realizing how utterly stupid that sounded. This fight was just too ridiculous. He had to get out quickly. "...Jeremy. That was his name. Brown hair, casual wear."

The Dream paused for a moment. "I did see someone who was opening doors just a few seconds ago." Sirius wasn't sure whether he was being mocked or not and just settled for intensifying his glare. "He actually just went through this door."

"Oh really? And where did he go?"

"Hell if I know. I just opened the door and saw your pretty face."

Not improving his temper. At all.

Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Steinwaffe stared out over the chasm. He could just barely see the others on the horizon. Oh, look, the angel is heading into the factory. Almost a shame, I could use the company. He squinted. Something seemed to shimmer just outside the edge of the factory door. The gargoyle picked up a wad of gravel and placed it in his mouth. Odd. This place is really quite unnerving.
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

Geoff just stared around at the buildings. They were... huge. There weren't words sufficient to describe how large they were. Gargantuan? Colossal? He was at a loss. The tallest building in Ederett was five levels high, and that was widely considered to be excessive as it was. (Most assumed it was the result of a bet between two architects.) These, these were... monolithic.

Their sides were completely made of glass, and the floors spiralled up, sloping around until they wrapped over themselves. They looked like their frames were constructed entirely out of metal, and instead of rugs or hardwood, they had farmland. As he watched, a huge metal contraption rolled along rails in the ceiling, spraying water over all the crops.

Geoff saw more buildings in the distance, all arranged in a vague grid. He guessed there were probably a dozen or so, but he couldn't see them all, so there might've been more.

"This is quite the place," he breathed. "Kol, people predicted architecture would advance, but this, this is just..." He trailed off, shaking his head..

Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

Jeremy sees Geoff staring up, awestruck, at the buildings, and eyes him askance, raising an eyebrow. "Yo dude, you act like you've never seen a building before. Ok I mean sure the whole glass dome thing and the... cool... tech... stuff... is kinda far-out but man this ain't got shit on like, Dubai. Some of the stuff they got there... hoo boy! Planes fly lower than their hotels! I once did an awesome base-jump out the emergency exit door of a plane flying by the Burj Khalifa without a parachute! You don't even wanna know how I got out of that one, it... it ah... ahhfuck..."

Geoff had been mostly tuning out Jeremy's typical rambling, but turns in puzzlement at the sudden change in Jeremy's usual upbeat-timbre. Jeremy has started shaking, and, on wobbly legs, walks over to the edge of the dome and sits down, blinking rapidly to fight back tears.

Geoff tries not to become too exasperated. He walks over to Jeremy, and kneels down, placing a hand on the kid's shoulder.

"Hey, kid, what's wrong?"

Jeremy sniffs. "Sorry man, it's just... it's finally catching up to me, y'know? I'm not in Kansas anymore, heh," he spares a small laugh at the pitiful joke. "I mean... first that big crazy spider thing, and the spaz-tastic disco-platform, and then there's angels and gargoyles and creepy little girls running and screaming and then there was that lady! She killed that poor kid! I dunno man, I've been kinda running on adrenaline for a while, and I guess... it's like, calm here, y'know? Like I said, it all finally caught up to me. What are we supposed to be doing, anyways? Kill people? I can't kill people! Shit! Fuck!" The outburst quickly devolves into a barrage of swearing and sniffling.

Geoff sighs. "Look kid, we're all going through the same thing. This situation, this world, it's as alien to me as it is to you. These buildings, for example," Geoff gestures at the, to him, towering colossi, "I've never seen anything like them, but you're able to just take it all in stride. Each of us was ripped from our home, just like you. But we're all dealing with it. And if we can, then so can you. So come on," Geoff grabs Jeremy's arm and pulls him up, "let's investigate."

Jeremy wipes his face with his sleeve as he stands, and gives Geoff a weak grin. "Yeah, yeah man, you're right. I guess... yeah, I h'ain't never been in somethin' this bad, but I've been in bad places with bad people. I can do this." He takes a deep breath before continuing. "Right! Let's be of-"

His confident declaration is cut short by an explosion of light against the glass dome. Geoff and Jeremy instinctively duck, though no sound accompanies the blast. Outside, an extremely angry-looking Sirius is... yelling? Though they cannot hear, his intention is clear. Jeremy glances at Geoff, saying, "I think super-dick wants in." An evil grin crosses his face, and Jeremy gives Sirius the middle finger. "Yeah, yah bastard! We're in here and you're out there! Go fuck a duck!" With that, Jeremy turns and marches off, with Geoff following.

"You know, I'm feeling better already."

Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

A few minutes earlier...

Sirius stared angrily at the Dream. Then, realization dawned on him. He raised his palm to his face in annoyance.

"...of course. Given the way everything has gone so far, he must be in the most annoying place possible." The angel turned around, and flew back towards the arcology, leaving a somewhat befuddled Dream behind.

When Sirius arrived at the arcology, he looked through the glass and saw Jeremy and Geoff inside. Naturally. They seemed more concerned with the buildings inside, so Sirius decided to get their attention.

"Angel Sphere!"

The blast bounced off once more, but inflicting damage had never been Sirius' intention. He yelled at them at the top of his lungs.

"Let me in, you imbeciles! There's something important in there, and I want to know what!"

Jeremy responded with an obscene gesture. Sirius was at the limit of his patience. He would have to find some other way inside - but how?

Defeated and enraged, he flew back across the chasm. The arcology's secrets were out of reach, for now, but perhaps the factory would hold something of use.

Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

Jeremy and Geoff walked in silence for a bit, both content in their own thoughts; Jeremy, for once, was blissfully silent.

Then... "Sooooo Geoff my buddy, let's say we go knockin' around in some of these buildings, eh?" Jeremy flashed a roguish grin at his companion, and gestured with his thumb towards a nearby, to Geoff, megalith.

"... yes, I suppose we should. I'd like to get a good look inside, to see if there's any evidence of their builders, or their purpose."

"Cool, cool." Despite his nonchalant agreement, Jeremy did not seem to particularly share Geoff's motivations. Nevertheless, the two made their way towards the building Jeremy had motioned towards. Jeremy paused briefly before entering, and turned to Geoff.

"Just so you know man, I ain't gonna be doin' much of the... uh... door-stuff while we're in here. Easier on you, y'see. It's kinda hard to keep track of where we are if I decide to jump us all which-way on a fuckin' roller-coaster ride of doors through these buildings. Not that I usually care about the layout of whatever building I'm in. Actually I usually don't care if I'm in a building at all; usually just lookin' for a good time, and if it's behind a door I'll take it, location be damned. So yeah, for your benefit, no wonkiness unless we need to get somewhere. All doors are gonna be all regular-like." Another grin, and Jeremy opened the door.

Geoff nearly ran into him as they walked through, as Jeremy had stopped suddenly, and was staring up. Geoff followed his gaze to see what had so surprised him, and nearly gasped.

They were standing on a catwalk, whose paths branched out, web-like; some ending in the vast pillars which littered the vista before them. The pillars stretched upwards, and what they supported was what had robbed the two of their voices.

Extending as far as they could see was a vast network of catwalks, pillars, bridges, elevators, stairs, and an assortment of buildings and enclosures, all forming a vertical city, suspended above their heads.

In the end, it was Jeremy whom finally broke the silence.

"Hellfire, man, it's bigger on the inside."

Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

Geoff nodded, once more missing the reference. "That it is." For another moment, the silence continued.

Then a thought occurred to him. He focused a bit, staring not at the general magnitude of the structure, but at a small area. After a moment, he turned, staring at a different spot.

"Uh, hey. What's so interesting?"

Geoff replied without looking, still staring around. "What do you hear?"

"Whaddya mean, what do I hear?"

"I mean, what sorts of sounds do you hear? Listen for a sec and tell me what you hear."

Jeremy frowned and fell silent, listening.

Wind blew through the city from some unknown source. A few catwalks creaked somewhere above them, and a water leak somewhere gurgled to itself.

"It's some wind and a bit of water, man. What's the big deal?"

Geoff turned to him, a little irritated. "The big deal? It's the people here, they're the big deal."

"What people? This place is deserted."

"Exactly." Geoff gestured around them, waving a grey, nailless hand at the cityscape above them. "Look at this place. It's incredible- the sheer amount of time and effort that it must have taken to build this place is astounding."

"So what exactly happened to make someone just up and abandon all that work? I mean, look around you. The people who created this place were incredibly advanced. What would it take to scare people like that away?"

Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

The disgruntled angel flew off, leaving the Dream and his cargo behind.

Whatever that was about, he didn't particularly want to get caught up in it. The Dream pushed the heavy door shut once more. But once he did, heavy chains sprouted off the wall, locking up the door. A heavy clunk sounded as a padlock tied the whole thing together and a deep laugh echoed in the room. The Dream backed away in surprise. Apparently, the photographer was about to have a nightmare...

He turned away from the door and scanned the area carefully. He wasn't about to use the exit any time soon, it seemed. The chains would disappear, of course, if he took the Photographer far enough away, but he couldn't just leave him behind. That would be a little idiotic, considering what might happen now.

"Oh no," the camera murmured. "I think all the recent events are stressing him out..."

"Oh really?" the Dream replied brightly, setting his load down to free up his arms. "Maybe it was when your lens cracked? Or perhaps when some insane powerful entity grabbed him out of reality and dropped him randomly into a battle without our permission? Or was it because, do you think, another possibly insane definitely powerful entity popped in to dismiss the other insane powerful entity and also to kill someone who had been standing near him?"

A long pause as he continued to glance around suspiciously.

"You don't have to be so sarcastic."

The Dream didn't answer, mostly because, quite suddenly, the disgusting meat was trying to kill him. A particularly gruesome-looking blob reared up from the conveyor belt, grew an impressive array of teeth, and launched itself towards him. He simply took out a sword, stood to the side and cut easily through the neck. The head went careening away while the stub just collided clumsily with the floor.

A monster made of ground meat isn't that easily killed though. The neck just reared up once more and grew some teeth. The old head attempted to flop menacingly towards him. The Dream tried punting the head away, but ended up getting his foot stuck. Cursing, he tried to shake it off while also dodging attacks from the larger, more threatening meat snake and keeping an eye on his creator so that the useless sack of...something wouldn't end up dying.

After flying to the arcology, then to the factory and back to the arcology, Sirius landed in front of the factory once more. Nobody opened the door for him this time, so he worked off a little rage by blasting the door down himself.

"Oh good, you're back," the Dream called out before breaking free from the disgusting meaty coils. Unfortunately, this meant more little meat blobs to deal with. "I sorta need a little help, if you don't mind!"

The angel looked at all the little meatlings. Then he stared up at the meat snake, which loomed high over the Dream. Following where it led to, he found that it disappeared as it went up to the ceiling, reappeared as it went to the floor in order to stay upright, then disappeared again going towards the conveyor belts. In short, it looked like a bunch of floating meat.

Sirius could feel a headache coming on.

Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius sighed, and evaluated the situation. The meat would just gain more parts if it was hacked up. The obvious solution was to burn it.

Which meant using one of his least favorite spells.

"Ignition," he said resignedly, as he held up a hand. Flames suddenly surrounded his body. He started walking towards the mass of meat, pausing to turn to the Dream.

"You might want to stand back."

The Dream shook off the meat, grabbed the Photographer, and ran back towards the entrance, staring on.

Sirius walked through the mass of meat, setting it ablaze and burning it to a crisp as it drew near. Sirius was facing away, so the Dream couldn't see his face, but had no doubt the angel looked thoroughly disgusted.

After a few minutes, the snake was reduced to a rather large pile of charcoal. Sirius held up a hand, and the flames surrounding him vanished. He walked towards the Dream, sweat running down his face.

"I hate that spell," he muttered, holding his nose in a vain attempt to hold off the smell of burned and rotting meat. "Now, let's get down to business. Do you have any idea how we can get in there?" He pointed behind the Dream, to the arcology in the distance.

Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

The Dream looked thoughtful. "Well, no specific ideas, but I think this guy could help you find out." He pointed to the sleeping Photographer. "Carry him over there and wake him up, then maybe you can get him to question the door or the dome and see if they can tell you anything."

Sirius looked at the Dream as if he was insane.

"What? Question a door?"

"Oh, he can talk to inanimate objects. They aren't always helpful, but it's worth a shot, right?"

Sirius stared for a moment, shrugged, and picked up the Photographer.

"He'll probably be pretty frightened if he wakes up too soon, so be careful," the Dream said, following Sirius out of the factory. "Good luck with that dome-thing."

Sirius flew off, carrying the Photographer. The Dream waved at him, a gesture the angel decided to simply ignore.

Then the Dream started fading.

"Uh-oh. That's not going to be fun for the winged guy," he said to himself, just before he vanished entirely.

A moment later, the Photographer woke up screaming, with Sirius still in mid-flight.