TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse

TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
A tale of cosmic incompetence.

The family grazed past the borders of the Multiverse. They were transcendental creatures. Their esoteric needs and wants were far beyond any form of comprehension, despite their lowly, amphioxi-like appearances. Yet, curiosity is a cosmological quality, and one of the youngest – the Demiurge – was afflicted by a fascination of the realms below. A fascination that only seemed to grow stronger with each meaningful span of time.

So great was their fascination with the Multiverse that the Demiurge spirited away a few choice souvenirs. Of course, they were their most favorite souvenirs, so they narrowed down six to keep. The souvenirs had to live somewhere so the Demiurge carefully manufactured Terrariums; self-contained dimensions filled with the waters from the finest of timestreams.

The Demiurge beamed with pride, but a worrying thought creeped into the borders of their mind. What if their souvenirs died? A terrifying prospect. After a brief introspection, they decided if one of them dies, they would transplant the survivors into a hopefully more suitable terrarium, and so forth. The worst-case scenario they could conceive of was one remaining souvenir. The Demiurge had confidence it would not be possible.

After all, they have five terrariums, what could possibly go wrong?


Hi, this is yet another elimination-based collaborative writing project, or Grand Battle for short. You probably know what it is. If not, click here.

Special Conditions:

Diminished Contestants. This Grand Battle will have six contestants instead of the usual eight.

Non-Binary Eliminations. Eliminations usually, but not necessarily, have to be the result of a character death.

Hazy-Canonical. This continuity of Grand Battle is treated as independent from the continuity of Seasons (All-Stars, Network, et al.) and Intermissions (S!).



[b]Name:[/b] Your name.
[b]Gender:[/b] Your pronouns.
[b]Race:[/b]  Your kind.
[b]Color: [/b] Your true colors.
[b]Description:[/b]  Your mien.
[b]Items/Abilities:[/b]  Your signature.
[b]Biography:[/b]  Your backstory.
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Name: Iblis Crow
Gender: Male
Race:  Human
Color: Medium Blue. [0000CD]
Description:  Slim, Spiked Black Hair, and clothes.
Items/Abilities:  Large Deep Sky Blue Sword Mounted on his back. Extreme speed and strength.
Biography:  Originally an ordinary person, granted upon a sword from the world outside reality. The sword grants the user with ultimate strength and speed while owned.

(trust me I can do better than this)
oh hey
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Name: Replay
Gender: Male
Race: Superhero
Color: #10aa10
Description: His real name is Julius Adron. 5'9". Blue eyes. Brown hair. Has a small goatee. Fairly skinny, unimpressive physique. 25. Always has a scowl. None of that is important, anyways, because he wears his costume permanently. It's just a solid black morph suit with some lime green lines in random patterns. It has a sturdy full helmet that resembles an old-school motorcycle helmet, with a face mask made of the same material. Goggles are built into the helmet. See, it doesn't matter at all if the rest of his body gets hurt so there's no protection there. But his brain? That is valuable. He mostly just got in the line of superhero work because he knew that he is useful. As a result, he sees the superhero thing as little more than a job. He is quite lazy, preferring to never put in more work than absolutely necessary. When he's not out working, he can often be found playing video games. Like, constantly. All video games. Even the hard ones. Especially the hard ones.

Items/Abilities: His power is essentially an instant replay. It allows him to go back in time ten seconds. After that, there is a buffer period for ten seconds when he can keep going back to that time and replay that moment as many times as necessary. This power is linked with his brain, and is nigh-instantaneous. So, for example, if a bullet enters his body, the pain will cause him to activate his power and go back without the bullet wound. He has full knowledge of what happens in all these iterations. In each replay, everything plays out exactly the same, even dice rolls and coin flips, unless he does something differently. However, as much as he can replay moments to get them just right, his physical capabilities are only human. He has no extra powers, or even above average abilities, beyond that. One advantage his power brings him is that, with sufficient patience, he can never make mistakes. In combat, he carries around a sniper rifle and a pistol. He is capable of feats such as suddenly shooting behind him and still hitting your head dead-on. Of course, it might take him a few tries to do that, but he has all the time in the world.

Biography: He was just an ordinary high schooler when he got his powers. A bit of a loner, really. There he was in Mr. Rogers' American History class, being bored out of his mind. Then, suddenly, he heard screaming. Then, gunshots. A strange 30-something bearded man burst in, assault rifles already firing. He remembered the look on the intruder's face, how it looked scared, like his classmates were demons or something. He remembered himself trying to figure out how he got in to begin with, with all those weapons. He remembered being paralyzed in fright for exactly eight seconds, as he could only watch his classmates fall one by one. Then, suddenly, he realized what he was doing. He could have at least tried to save other people. He could have saved the girl next to him who he had been passing notes to. He wished he could go back and not be such a fucking idiot. Then a bullet hit his forehead. In that moment, a synapse fired and he went back in time. He jerked up, and the class stared at him for his sudden reaction. At that moment, he couldn't believe it was happening, that maybe it was just a fucked up daydream. Two seconds later, screaming. Then the same guy came in and started shooting. He went back again. He tried to warn everyone, but nobody believed him. He went back again. He stood up and claimed he had a bomb. This had a better effect, but they were too slow. Too slow, too slow. He went back again. This time, he took action and ran towards the door, kicking the weapons out of the guy's hands. He had to do it a few times to get it just right, as he was shot several times, but it was done. The guy was neutralized. Sadly, the guy had left a trail of bodies before he came here. Julius kept seeing if he could go further back, but to no avail. On this sad day, he was hailed as a hero. But he just kept thinking, he should have done more.

Not long after that, he admitted himself into the Academy, a school for gifted people. Then, he graduated, and asked to work at the Convocation, the local superhero government. He expressed his desire to be there alongside any superheroes in action, doing his part to prevent an unforeseen disaster. At first, he was relegated to a support role, working as a command center. He would watch the progress of select superhero squadrons and keep in contact with them. If they ever made a mistake, or got ambushed, he would go back and tell them what to do differently. With his presence alone, the efficiency of the Convocation skyrocketed. Eventually, after he convinced the Convocation that he could not be injured easily, he was allowed to go out in the field. He was able to support the "real" heroes more efficiently, and so he stayed there, like some kind of fifth wheel as everyone else did the real hero stuff. He was content with this, anyways, to just let other people do all the work. But he would always be watching. Now, everybody knows one rule, and tells it to every new recruit. If Replay tells you to do something, you fucking do it. He is saving you from certain death.
[Image: 6xGo4ab.png][Image: sig.gif]
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Name: Mierra of the Fallen Soil
Gender: Girl
Race: Undead Stag Beetle
Color: A Necrotastic rosy red![#FF003F]
Description: Mierra is a fairly large and in charge stag beetle person who frequently claims that her purple exoskeleton as tough as the day she died! In reality, it is actually tougher, having gone through some modifications over the years and years of use and modifications (some extra horns, extra spikes here and there, some golden and silver metal additions), as she really wanted to nail that opulent necromancer look. She has a red scarf that she claims is very important, but actually she just thinks it looks nice.

Outside of the, whole "I'm a very powerful controller of the dead" shtick, Mierra is the sort to get really into something for a long time, and when she isn't focusing on this or that, she takes to some intense questioning of other peoples (alive or dead, whichevers closer) in hopes of finding a new, unique thing to explore. When she does find these, she can get a bit stubborn, but if you prove yourself to her, she'll usually lay off a little bit.

Items/Abilities: As an undead necromancer, Mierra obviously has control over the dead, able to give them life as well as question them down to their very soul. Soul magic is actually Mierra's specialty, she is incredibly adept at observing and reshaping the souls of the departed to fuel all sorts of spells as well as to modify parts of her body when needed. Her most favorite application of this is to take a part of a corpse, link it to herself in some manner, and then raise it in such a way that it can perform some odd task.

Biography: Many objected to Mierra's choice of study in the realm of magic, but she had far been used to people objecting her life choices. From things that she knew were true of herself to her interests to her beliefs, it wasn't really out of spite that Meirra turned to necromancy (though she believed in healthy bits of spite here and there) as much as it was that every other ill-received thing she wanted had worked out, so obviously this would too.

It took a lot of study, that was certain, but after her body attuned itself to its undead shape, everything sort of just came naturally, as if she was always meant to be dead (but in a good way)! As Mierra got used to her necronomic powers and how best to use them, she started to really get into the aesthetic of being a really cool bug lich. She got a lair, raised some minions, and got a bit gaudy, all in the hopes of showing off how good she was at all this. Unfortunately, not being one for committing acts of evil and destruction, groups of heroes never came, only curious teenagers and poor salesfolk, who were very impressed, but not the kind who would epic tales of her extravagance.

Mierra took to many other tasks while waiting for a group of heroes, finding interesting and new ways to add her personal, "necromatique~" flair to her latest hobbies, and making some new friends via newsletters, trade, and other similar things. While she wasn't quite spreading word of her magical prowess, many were enthralled by her aesthetic brilliance, and requested that she make a ring of newsletters about the "necromatique~" style. It was while she was in the process of sending one of these out, that Mierra was plucked, never to be seen again.
I wanna be a real friend, Don't wanna break when I bend
I wanna a be no seeker, I wanna scream eureka
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Name: Abhararcan and Mercator
Gender: None; male
Race: Enchanted arrow; human
Color: 33261D

Description: Abhararcan is a completely black iron arrow with crow feather fletching, obviously quite old though untouched by rust or warping. Its head is a vicious-looking bodkin point whose edges have a razor-sharp gleam to them, and it courses with palpable magical energy. If touched (or if embedded in the listener) the arrow can telepathically communicate in a shrill, demanding voice, and can transmit images and a limited range of emotions. Once Abhararcan has been fired it can adjust its own course mid-flight, even turning around corners, and on striking a target can choose from a number of magical effects.

Abhararcan's current wielder is Mercator, a petty thief and pickpocket who carries the arrow along with a recurve bow in a custom quiver on his back. Mercator is not a particularly skilled archer, but the arrow doesn't need him to be. He is fanatically devoted to Abhararcan, referring to it as "Boss" or "Arc", when it lets him, and trusts it wholeheartedly. Mercator's had a rough life and depends on the arrow as it much as it depends on him, though he doesn't quite share its taste for violence. The city he comes from is roughly analogous to an early-twentieth century metropolis, and he wears a torn collared shirt and jacket with a conspicuous bloodstain on the back.

Items/Abilities: As soon as Abhararcan strikes a target, it can trigger a number of effects: it can cloak itself in explosive flames, produce earth-shaking shockwaves, leech an acid powerful enough to eat through metal in seconds, or freeze a target solid- and it knows a few other tricks besides. It also has the ability to teleport at will back to the hand of the person who fired it, eliminating the need for retrieval or additional arrows.

Mercator is more or less an ordinary human, though he's familiar with Abhararcan's pecularities and can generally direct it to where it will do the most harm. He can survive on his own, if he has to, but not well. He's not comfortable with people or with being on the right side of the law, and doesn't like being noticed.

Bio: Abhararcan was commissioned by a warlord to be the ultimate weapon, but warlords aren't generally popular and its creation was tampered with to make the arrow volatile and resistant to commands. It abandoned the warlord in the middle of a battle to die and from there hopped owners for a few decades before finally being sealed in a tomb. It re-emerged in the hands of smugglers several centuries later in a large city, where it would strike- and claim- Mercator in a botched execution. Abhararcan took an instant liking to the unfortunate thief and quickly commandeered him into carving a bloody path through the city's underworld. The arrow being one of the only creatures to show him any kind of affection, Mercator followed its commands without hesitation and found himself quickly and unwantedly becoming the center of attention in a violent war for control of the city's smuggling operations.
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Sign ups are extended to Aug 7.
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Name: Zakam
Gender: It
Race: Biomechanical construct
Color: [#af902f]
Description: Imagine a centipede with a human torso, lovingly constructed out of iron and wood and bronze and porcelain, articulated by carefully cultured muscle and delicate geared mechanisms. This is the basic shape of Zakam.

Zakam wears a hooded shawl of red fabric, draped around the smooth copper mask of its face. Zakam has four arms that move with greater speed and precision than a human’s. Zakam has a meat-brain encased inside its skull, four book lungs in the cage of its ribs, and an alchemical haemo-engine nestled at their center pumping the blood that powers the whole thing.

Zakam is often attached to a food cart, into which its centipede tail slots. They share a circulatory system, and there’s a backup haemo-engine in there keeping the thing running. The food cart has no wheels but moves around by means of two dozen caliper-like legs hidden beneath a fabric skirt. From this cart, Zakam makes and sells elotes and skewered chapulines.

Zakam is fueled by human blood.

Items/Abilities: Zakam has an extensive knowledge of the culinary arts but fixates on boiled corn and fried grasshoppers.

Zakam’s four arms can move at speeds significantly greater than human but is not much stronger than normal. In contrast, Zakam’s fifty centipede legs cannot propel it faster than a brisk walk.

Zakam’s food cart is well-supplied with water tanks, gas tanks, and storage cabinets for corn, grasshoppers, skewers, napkins, beverages, and condiments. Condiments include: mayonnaise, crumbled cheese, chili powder, chives, and sour cream.

Biography: Zakam is a general-purpose service bioautomaton constructed by the technicians of the Church of Ydanius and programmed to make food, thus raising funds for the Church. It sells corn (which is holy) and fried grasshoppers (which are not).

Zakam is four years old and has no existential concerns beyond being able to cook corn and sell grasshoppers to people. The Church takes care of all its supply issues: corn and grasshoppers for its heated storage racks, blood for its haemo-engine.

If Zakam runs out of corn or grasshoppers, it will attempt to find more. If Zakam runs low on blood, it will attempt to find more. If something prevents it from selling corn and/or grasshoppers, it will attempt to rectify the situation. Zakam is nothing if not hardworking. Blood for the bloody god.
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Name: Jenna
Gender: they. we are many Her
Race: A perfectly ordinary giant pacific octopus our true form is beyond comprehension
Color: Clay (#CF2500) steel gray (#999999)

Description: A six foot octopus. No really, that's it.

The metallic glint around her eyes is a little strange, though. And so are the shiny dots visible moving just beneath her translucent skin.

Items/Abilities: The usual. Extreme flexibility, can fit into very tight spaces, can shoot jets of water, can change skin color/texture, smarter than your average cephalopod.

we have mastered this humble body and made it our own. the one they called jenna has proven useful indeed. human bodies may be stronger, but they are brittle. we make them crack. we adapt.

survival is now possible in nonaqueous environment. you are no longer safe on land. natural water jets upgraded to near-lethal levels. you are no longer safe at a distance. electromagnetic field interaction installed. you cannot hide behind technology. strength and speed overclocked by several orders of magnitude--you cannot run. radar, sonar, and infrared installed--you cannot hide. we have complete neural control--we will kill you.

Jenna was enjoying her life at the aquarium, quite a bit. After weeks of spraying water at the boss whenever he (she? she could never tell with humans) walked past, she finally managed to get them to move her into a larger enclosure. It was full of cool stuff! There was a button that she could press to turn the lights on and off and a box that went inside another box (wow!) and a nice sharp rock that she could maybe use to break the glass of her enclosure with... funny thing that one. The banging noise it made against the glass seemed to be giving her a headache. Maybe the water seeping in from the adjacent tank hadn't been cleaned properly...

all visible humans disposed of soon after host acquired. aquarium walkways now aqueous environment. commenced testing of possible upgrades on nearby indigenous predators (unrestrained by glass enclosures). results more than satisfactory. upgrades installed, remaining corpses consumed for fuel.

current status: scanning for further prey. destruction of surrounding area shall commence once all nearby lifeforms have been recycled.
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Terranium is going to close soon!

If you want to change/submit profiles late, tell me about it!
RE: TERRARIUM - Sign ups!
As the multiverse completed her rotation, the individual members decided to settle down in their own personal dimensions. However, not all felt the need to place themselves in stasis yet. The Demiurge, glowing with excitement, rushed to their equivalent of a workplace. Five terrariums floated in the air. Orbiting them, six souvenirs. Each caged by cube of proper width and length, carefully labelled in an esoteric language that indicated the following:

Iblis Crow, a swordsman. His weapon fascinated the Demiurge so much, they spirited him along for the ride. He was their favorite.

Replay, a superhero. There were so many Replays running around that it was hard to choose one, so the Demiurge took them all. He was their favorite.

Mierra of the Fallen Soil, a necromancer. She was brave, smart, and was tough as her shell was purple. The Demiurge also liked purple. She was their favorite.

Abhararcan and Mercator, an artifact-mercenary duo. Their friendship was something to be preserved, the Demiurge decided. They were their favorite.

Zakam, a religious construct. The concept of food always piqued the interest of the Demiurge. Plus, what if the other souvenirs starved? It was necessary, and their favorite.

Jenna, an octopus. The Demiurge saw plenty of octopuses in their life time, but she particularly piqued their interest. Their interest in artifice. She was their favorite.

Satisfied with their choices, the Demiurge proceeded to house their souvenirs in the first terrarium. The first terrarium housed a harbor city. The city, more ruins than skyscrapers at this point, was in such disrepair that it nearly blended into the surrounding wilderness. The souvenirs – no, survivors – could see shadows flitting between the trees and buildings. Some were local natives, hardened desperation traced in their faces.

Some were…not human.

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Iblis, scanning the wasteland of a city, cracks his fingers and unsheathes his sword.

"Here we go."

Iblis says as he rushes into the depths, attempting to find a place to make base at.

"This'll do."

Iblis opens up the somehow still intact place.

Suddenly, a horde of zombies come rushing out, none noticing Iblis.

"That was too close."

Iblis then starts to explore through the place, attempting to find anything useful.

Unfortunately enough, he'd need to find enough supplies for others.

That may be difficult due to the fact that he may encounter a lot of people.

"Let the search party of one begin."
oh hey
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
"Oh dear, and I was just in the middle of my newsletter."

This was of course, the primary concern of Mierra, as she was almost finished! It wouldn't be the first time that she took an extended leave of absence, but it was the first involuntary one. After a moment, Mierra had a thought, "I suppose that this isn't too unfavorable a situation, I'm sure there's a lot of exciting things around here, and I've been meaning to stretch my legs for a bit."

Mierra looked around, seeing a thick forest, intermingling with the tall, tall buildings afar. Meirra sniffed the air, searching for any wandering souls.

"Hey, hey you, hey you over there!"

Meirra looked at the source of the voice, seeing a rotting head devoid of any truly notable features, rolling towards her.

"Hey you, yeah you, get over here, come on, let me just."

In a moment, the head leaped up, lunging mouth first towards the necromancer, who was not phased and confused at the heads actions, as it attempted with futility to bite her.

"Whatever are you doing?"

"I'm trying to bite you!"


"So that I can feast on yer flesh!"

"Well, that's not nice!" Mierra focused, grabbing the head with one of her arms and, with a flash of energy, taking control of its soul.

"Now," she dropped the much less fiesty head onto the floor, "Take me to whoever made you, they need a stern talking to on keeping track of their undead servants! Feasting on the flesh of the innocent, how uncouth."

The head nodded and then hopped along, leading the undead bug to its master, deeper into the forest.

I wanna be a real friend, Don't wanna break when I bend
I wanna a be no seeker, I wanna scream eureka
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
Zakam observed the sudden change of scenery without interest, because it was uninteresting. Zakam’s interests were very few and very narrow.

It had been in the middle of a hymn before being transported. It didn’t even miss a beat --

“And Ydan, who saw that we were hungry,
He plucked ten hairs from his head
And set them in the earth to grow.”

Zakam liked to sing. It attracted customers who would buy its corn. Zakam had little understanding of money or payment, but corn made its mad little brain happy. Its voice rolled across the narrow streets in a remarkably sonorous baritone:

“So they grew indeed, eating sun and drinking rain
Till they grew taller than a man
And each bore upon their stalks a fruit of corn.”

Zakam piloted its food cart beneath the shadow of a shattered glass tower. It paused at an intersection, observed the traffic light for several seconds, concluded that it was broken, looked both ways, and carefully crossed the street.

Dozens of undead figures lurched out of Zakam’s path as it crossed, shambling away from the red-shawled thing and its humming cart as fast as their rotten legs would carry them. It is difficult to gauge the emotions of mindless zombies at the best of times, but someone sufficiently skilled in the practice might have called them panicked. Zakam took little notice. Customers came to it, not the other way around.

Zakam’s haemo-engine gurgled at one-third capacity. Zakam was growing thirsty.
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
The first thing he did was go back.

The second thing he did was go back.

The third thing he did was go back.

He could not go back any further than the time he entered this world.

He looked to his left, taking in all he could see. He was in some sort of bungalow, looking over a beach. It was a nice beach, or it would be except there were hordes of shambling fishmen rising out of the sea. Fuck. He went back.

He looked to his right. This room was... surprisingly clean. Like it had not seen the apocalypse yet. The area outside was dirty with ash, however, as several of the other bungalows. Shit. He went back, and got to thinking.

This was concerning. No, this was extremely concerning. One moment, he was facing off with his archnemesis, after he had been trapped in his dastardly ploy. Now he was here in a merzombie apocalypse, somehow. Perhaps there was another super with teleportation powers. But, he had gone back just to make sure. Or tried, anyways. But somehow, his power didn't work. That was not good at all. He figured this super also had a time-based ability. Or there was something else interfering with his power. He supposed it didn't matter. He had used up 10 seconds anyways. He spent it doing surveillance, making sure his vicinity was safe. Whew. No immediate danger. Now, to check out the fish zombie horde. This probably wasn't going to be such a good idea. But to Replay, no ideas are bad. He didn't have to worry about any consequences, after all. Everything was on fire. Except for his bungalow. And... another bungalow, across the beach.

He checked that his weaponry was still intact, then he leaped out of the window. The fishmen ran, not towards him but towards the city on the other side of the beach. He ran straight ahead into the horde, seeing what would happen. They did not ignore him, unfortunately. It seems that they were hungry for any flesh. His arm still stung from having been removed in another timeline. Okay, Julius. 10 seconds to get across. Easy. Replaying over and over, he dodged every zombie fishman. Surprisingly, once he dodged them and got to the other side, they continued to the city. He watched them go, then shook his head. Those poor city people. If they were still alive, that is. He would have to save them. But first... Turning around, he went back into the other bungalow.

Much like the one he started in, it was extremely clean. There were no occupants, however. Perhaps there was someone like him, someone teleported here. Perhaps he had a role to play in all this. He took the time to look around. He found a brochure entitled "A New Haven! Come Here and Discover What You've Been Looking For!!". He grimaced. He wasn't so sure that this vacation resort went as planned. Well. It was time to do his duty. He went off to the city.
[Image: 6xGo4ab.png][Image: sig.gif]
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
Mercator’s head was empty. There was a black wound pulsing raw and ugly in the space where Abhararcan lived, a sudden sickening emptiness that made him stumble and grip his head so tightly sparks flew across his vision. His breath thundered in his chest, unreal, and he slid to the ground and clawed blindly through the fallen leaves with his bare hands, the bow sliding from his back. His head was spinning like a carnival ride, round and round, monstrously hollow except for his own panicked thoughts, and he was alone, all alone-

His fingers touched cold iron and he ripped the arrow out from underneath a fallen branch, gripping it so tightly his knuckles shone white under the dappled sunlight. The weapon’s presence flooded his mind as if flipped on by a switch, its caustic voice jagged with undisguised fury.

-here? God, finally! Took you long enough, what the hell were you waiting for?

“Boss, boss,” Mercator sobbed, “I thought you- I thought- I thought you-”

I know what the fuck you thought, Abhararcan snapped. I can read your damn mind.

“That thing in the sky-”

That wasn’t the sky, you idiot. Shut up. I’m trying to think.

Mercator wiped his nose on his sleeve, nodding miserably. He was still dizzy, a pounding headache rattling the back of his skull. He leaned against a nearby tree, the rough bark snagging the fabric of his clothes and jabbing into his back. He barely felt it. After the shock of its absence Abhararcan’s mind was settling into its familiar place inside his own like water into a jar. He felt its strange inside-outside vision watching him, reading him even as its own thoughts fluttered and buzzed in circles.

It wants something, Abhararcan said abruptly. It had a habit of continuing conversations that Mercator wasn’t a part of. That’s obvious. Does it want to kill us? No, no, stop panicking, you wet rag. Are you going to be completely useless today?

“No. I’m just scared.”

Don’t be. Did you see the others?

Mercator shook his head pointlessly. “There were others?”

Five. Maybe six. Abhararcan gave the mental equivalent of a shrug, a wave of irritation rippling through it. I didn’t get a close enough look, but we’re not alone. What do you think that means?

“I don’t know, boss.”

Hm. Another wave of annoyance, this time followed by bitter satisfaction. There’s nothing I can’t kill. I’m not concerned about them. But if they’re here, they’re here for a reason. We might be able to make use of them. We might have to kill them. We’ll see. Fire me into the air.

Mercator took the bow from the ground and nocked Abhararcan in a practiced motion, glad to have something to do. He angled the bow back and loosed it straight upwards, letting the black arrow fly high above the treeline. At the highest point of its arc it vanished and reappeared in the palm of his hand, its iron shaft bitterly cold.

“What did you see, boss?” Mercator asked, afraid of the answer.

Dead people. A lot of them. Oh, I just hate murdering corpses, what a waste of my talent.
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
**reserved (should be done in 24 hours)**

Jenna painstakingly clambered up the rocks, out of the water, and onto a wooden wharf, her delicate skin stung by the cold air, her breathing siphon gasping at the sudden change in pressure. This was what it was like everywhere outside the aquarium? It most certainly was not worth it! There was nothing out here but pain and shortness of breath! She wanted to go back immediately!

And yet, she found herself continuing forward into the... whatever that big dark thing was, her limbs burning and already seeming to become brittle,
but still moving of their own accord.

sudden change in location registered. planetary triangulation: auxiliary units could not be found for connection. gis lookup: inconclusive. planetary magnetic field: present, but anomalous -- displays higher-than-expected curvature -- towards center of human habitat.

updates require maintenance, host weakening. aggression parameter incremented. fuel search protocol initiated.

Julius dashed across the street and into the protective shadow of a derelict brick building. The old convenience store must have been abandoned some time before whatever infestation was happening now, as it somehow seemed even dirtier and more worn down than the other buildings. Well, there was that, and the "Foreclosed" sign on the front door. It was incredibly dark inside. Somehow this ordinary abandoned building was managing to be even creepier than the houses burnt down by what was presumably the literal apocalypse.

A flash of movement from within the store caught his eye. He instinctively flashed back across the street before he had a chance to stop himself. Those zombie things couldn't really do any real damage, not to him at least, but goddamn did their bites hurt. Staring at the window across the street, he waited for whatever was is there to move again. Nothing. Nothing, aaaaaaand.... nothing... Maybe it was time for him to -- Oh there it is.

It took a little while for him to process what he was seeing. What was that? Its shape didn't make any sense. There was the bottom half of a fish zombie... being eaten by the empty shelves?

The "shelf" suddenly turned
bright red and revealed itself to be a massive octopus, its tentacles wrapped around the zombie's waist in a chokehold-like grip, the body of the octopus forcing itself down the length of the fishman's torso, the head inflating like a balloon as it gorged itself on rotten flesh. Even as he watched, it reached the bottom, where he could hear its beak greedily clicking and scraping against the tile floor in a pile of bloody bones and leftover organs. The extra mass seemed to have already moved from its bulbous head into the rest of its body, and it was somehow even bigger than when he first saw it.

Well, the enemy of his enemy was his friend, as they said. And he had certainly had had enough quality time with this one for a lifetime. He'll just leave it to do its business. Recalling back ten seconds just in case it had seen him, he continued on further into the city.

fuel consumption more than adequate. installing further upgrades. additional prey noted -- cannot pursue while updating. we'll kill him eventually anyway.

RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
With the advantage of Abhararcan’s aerial spying the pair gradually made their way deeper into the abandoned city, followed at every step by the distant gurgling howls of the undead. The roving creatures were slow-moving, if persistent, and several times they were nearly caught between two or more packs as they picked their way through the empty streets.The city’s broken towers rose above them like decrepit giants, the hollow eyes of their windows watching them sadly.

“Are they really dead?” Mercator asked, shards of glass crunching under his feet. “I mean, they’re still moving, ain’t they?”

I know dead when I smell it. I’ve seen armies of corpses walking, in my day, Abhararcan bragged. Mercator spun it thoughtfully between his fingers as he trudged along the street. You’re too young to know about it, but in Tell Khar a necromancer raised a host of ten thousand wights from the necropolis. I was there, of course, so she didn’t succeed in taking the city. They come apart like wet paper when you strike them. Pride radiated from the arrow’s mind like heat from a candle.

“I don’t know if I would have wanted to see that,” Mercator said. The empty city was starting to put him on edge; nothing like the metropolis he was used to. Here and there he would see a ruined storefront that would remind him, just for a moment, of some place back home, some deli or bar. It was unsettling.

Well, no one wants to see it, that’s not the point, the arrow said. Mercator felt its vision rolling around the area, making his own eyes follow in sympathy. Somewhere nearby there was a faint, rather mechanical tune playing, as though someone had left a music box out in the open.

That sounds like bait, Abhararcan said with an undercurrent of excitement. For the dead? For the living?

“If it’s bait,” Mercator said hesitantly, “Shouldn’t we not-”

Shut up! God! You are so goddamn boring. Follow it! Now!

Mercator hurried to obey, nocking the arrow as he went. It thrummed with bloodlust as he half-crouched, half-ran towards the sound. It was coming from an alleyway, the entrance nearly blocked by a collapsed awning. Closer the song was rather charming, some tinkling thing like a child’s lullaby.

In there. In there!

Mercator kicked the wreckage of the awning aside. There, curled between two crumbling walls, was what looked like a food cart, the smell of boiled corn thickly wafting over the similarly powerful scent of eviscera. Mercator almost thought for a moment that there were two people waiting by the cart’s side as if to order- but no, only one of the figures was human, and it was dead, its head smashed to a watery red pulp. The other-

A cheerful red hood over a masked face was the only human thing about it, this mechanical insect-like thing hunched over the corpse with a needle sticking out from under one of its four wrists. It was delicately maneuvering the body into a sitting position, nosing its needle deep into the femoral artery as blood still fresh enough to flow was sucked somewhere into the thing’s anatomy. It turned as Mercator entered, peacefully, still whistling its cheery little song. “Have you come to buy?” it asked curiously, tucking the needle back into its arm with a precise click.

Mercator had already fired, Abhararcan’s prodding for once not needed.

RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
Now that she had come into contact with the zombies around, Mierra could, rather effortlessly, hide herself from them. As she followed the head to its master to give her a stern talking to, Mierra looked around, noticing the embellishing corpses and parts of corpses that were all around the forest and beyond. It seemed like not many living people had come by here, which was a shame because it was very pretty.

Eventually, the forest made way for a more swampy landscape, to Mierra's, and the head's dismay. To its credit, the disembodied head attempted to hop along the swamp, ineffectually waddling on the murky goop. Mierra shook her head and looked around, seeing a ramshackle hut towards which, the head was trying to go towards.

She picked the head up, "There dear?"

"Yeah, dats where she would be."

Meirra nodded, set the head down and with a "And now behave and be on your way," walked along, knocking on the door.

Then she knocked again. And again.

Somewhat upset, as she saw that the lights were on, Mierra knocked one last time and accidentally broke the door down.

"Oh no, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to," She began, before realizing that the owner was not actually in. "Hmm. Well, I suppose I should go in."

Inside the hut of the supposed master over the undead was a variety of plans, trinkets, relics, and scrolls that Mierra took a passive interest in. It was the usual sort of undead summoning stuff, not without its own personal touch mind you, but still a standard affair. "Interesting, although, I can't help but notice that this is all rather dark, nothing here about using the undead for their good uses, no real ability to finely control them either..."

After a few moments, Mierra made a choice, "I'm sure that whoever's behind all this won't mind me adding in a few extra, bits here and there, corrections on proper raising of the undead."

As Mierra finished her altercations to the spell of the local, she noted in the corner of her eye a map, that seemed to head back to the city, along with a list of items.

"Ah, so this must be where you've gone. Well then, I suppose I should be on my way then!"

As she left, she saw arrows flying up in the air, and chittered in disapproval. "Oh dear, I hope that whoever shot that is safe... perhaps I should investigate... after all if someone were to have perished... I could... aid them..."

For whichever reason would appear first, Mierra scurried along towards the city,
unaware of a now growing group of zombies, following her like lost puppies...
I wanna be a real friend, Don't wanna break when I bend
I wanna a be no seeker, I wanna scream eureka
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
A thin black blur, the arrow whipped through the air in a deadly precise line, buzzing its way towards Zakam’s left eyehole as if it were a crosshairs --

-- and a slim bronze blur intercepted it, inches from its face.

“It is a misdemeanor to deface Church property,” said Zakam, matter-of-factly. It loosened its grip. There was just enough time for Zakam to hear the word
"What --" echo in its head, and then the arrow dropped from its fingers.

It never hit the ground.

Zakam snatched the black arrow out of the air for the second time in ten seconds. The ragged youth at the other end of the alley, wide-eyed already, now looked ready to bolt. He clutched his bow with white knuckles, the string still vibrating.

“Please stop,” said Zakam.

In its fist was a sudden absence. The youth stumbled backwards, the arrow once more somehow in his hand (Zakam stared at its empty palm curiously), stammering
“Boss, boss, we have to go --” and then stopped, stooped, the pose of a man frozen halfway through breaking into a sprint. His head angled slightly towards the arrow, as if listening. His eyes did not leave Zakam.

“Would you care for some refreshment?” it asked, patiently.

The youth’s eyes flicked down in horror towards the broken corpse at Zakam’s many feet.

“Yes, it is an unfortunate thing,” it said, completely misunderstanding. “I have tried to notify the proper authorities, but alas, this disreputable city has no sensible lines of communication.”

Zakam clasped its upper pair of hands together with a soft click. “May he rest easily, with the knowledge that his blood shall not go to waste. Hail Ydanius.” It dipped its head in brief benediction.

Still facing the youth, still with hands clasped, Zakam began to scuttle backwards, taking up its customary position behind the food cart. It waited for the youth to answer. Corn was at stake.
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
-Complete unification of magic and metal, Abhararcan was saying spiritedly, its mind glittering with excitement and greed. Granted the magic is supplied through a god- and the metal is primitive, of course, compared to me- never seen a thing like it. The possibilities! Imagine!

Mercator nodded, half-listening. The machine-centipede thing had crawled behind its cart and was waiting there. Its blank face seemed oddly peaceful, and it tilted its head at him patiently. The drained corpse lay slumped on the ground where it had dropped it.

-mere scion of greater things- empires fueled by living blood-

“What may I offer you?” Zakam said calmly. It motioned to the tubs before it and the little tank of water steadily boiling a few floating cobs. “I have elotes, freshly cooked, with your choice of condiments. Chapulines hot from the fryer as well.” It held a wax-paper cone out of these last things to Mercator; he was somewhat nauseated to see that they were insects.

-wonder how autonomously it operates? Couldn’t tell- can’t be very- what I wouldn’t give for a chance at dissection-

“Are you not hungry?” Zakam asked. Its voice was smooth and polite, like an elevator operator’s. It made Mercator uncomfortable. It wasn’t a tone that people often took with him. His arm was cramping, he realized; his fingers were locked on the bow.

“Boss, what do we do?” he whispered.

-Don’t interrupt me! Abhararcan snarled. Can’t you see I’m busy? Idiot! Pay the damn thing!


Your blood. Stick out your wrist. We’ll get a close-up view of the process.

Mercator winced, but rolled up his sleeve all the same. He approached the cart nervously, his arm held out, painfully aware of the thin blue veins below his palm. Zakam leaned in peaceably and extended its needle with a click, gently gripping Mercator’s hand to position it.

The transaction was over quickly, Mercator taking a stumbling step backwards as the machine processed his payment. It whistled a cheerful little tune. “Thank you. By our efforts only does Ydanius survive to conquer the night. Please,” it said, taking a cob straight from the boiling water and deftly seasoning it, “Enjoy.”

It held the elote out to Mercator. He took it, trembling a little from the blood loss. “Boss, what’s happening? What is this thing?”

It’s something very promising, Abhararcan said in a voice that made him flush with jealousy. It had forgotten all about the thing in the sky that had brought them here, forgotten that this creature might have been bait. Again, Mercator. Feed it again. I need to study it further.
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
A horde of zombies rushed at Replay. Effortlessly, he took out a pistol and shot each one of them in the head. Funny, these zombies weren't of the mer variety. He supposed it was because he was in the city now. Apparently, something was making zombies in all sorts of places. And, apparently there was an octopus zombie as well? Weird! But what was weirder was that they were fighting each other. He wasn't in a hurry to figure out what the zombies were up to, though. He had to roam the city and search for any signs of life. Then, he heard a rustling of sorts in a building to his left. The apartment complex looked ramshackle, but the door was open, swinging on its hinges slightly. He supposed it couldn't hurt to check it out. He went inside.

"No, nothing here."

A voice! A human voice. Thank god, he wasn't the only one. He carefully went up the stairs to meet the voice. Right as his line of sight went into the second floor, he could see some guy, with a big-ass sword shimmying through a chest in the hallway. He also saw a zombie right behind the guy, about to sink its teeth into his neck. He went back, and went up the stairs with more haste, his gun at the ready. He shot the instant he could see the zombie. Miss. He went back. Miss, again. He went back. Oh shit, he shot the guy instead. He went back. Finally, it hit the zombie head-on. He shrugged his mistakes off, like always. Flinching at the gunshot, the swordsman turned around.

"You really ought to be more careful."

Iblis looked down, and saw a rotting corpse, smoking from the gunshot in its head. He looked back at the guy who spoke and saw a weird guy in a weird costume. He couldn't see his face. Judging by the the gun he had, he supposed this was the source of the gunshots he heard earlier.


"Yes, it was me."

"The gun-"

"Yep. From earlier as well."


"Sorry! Bad habit. I'll let you talk freely."

He stayed silent, wondering just what the heck was this guy's deal.

"Hm. Thanks for the save. I guess. I'm looking for supplies. Feel free to help, if you must."

"Oh, neat! There are some bullets in that cabinet."

The weird guy went over to some cabinets in the room over, and indeed, found some bullets. Needless to say, Iblis was a bit dumbfounded.


"I just know things."

Iblis glared at him.

"Oh, right. Sorry again. Bag of chips behind you, on the floor. Rest of our surroundings is pretty empty, though. We should move on."

He turned back, and picked up the small bag of chips. He didn't have a bag, though, so he just carried it around. They continued to search the place a bit more, with the masked guy showing him where to look. When they had searched the whole complex, they met up in the foyer. They walked out into the streets, the weird guy looking around constantly. Suddenly, he turned to Iblis and spoke.

"By the way, I'm Replay. Though you can just call me Julius. I was never really protective of my secret identity anyways."

"I'm Iblis Crow. So, you're a superhero? What's your power, knowing stuff and being annoying?"

"No, no. I can go back in time, but up to 10 seconds only. Back then, I used my power to search everywhere in those 10 seconds. What about you? I know you're no ordinary guy, what with that blue sword you've got."

Before Iblis could talk, however, some zombies ran towards them, hungry for flesh. Iblis laughed.

"You're about to find out just what I can do."
[Image: 6xGo4ab.png][Image: sig.gif]
RE: TERRARIUM - Round 1: Apocalypse
Zakam felt warm blood entering its haemo-engine with satisfaction. The youth’s purchases on top of what it had scavenged from the corpse now put its fuel bladder at a little below half capacity (though it was a little concerned about the corpse-blood -- the way it churned and metabolised didn’t feel quite right in its engine, something subtly off-kilter).

“I am obligated to inform you that I cannot accept more than four blood donations from one person per week,” said Zakam. In a quick series of eye-confounding movements it skewered an ear of corn, brushed it with mayonnaise and sour cream, sprinkled it with fragrant herbs and chili powder, and presented it to Mercator.

“You must be hungry,” it said. As the youth reached out gingerly, taking the skewer in a hand already busy with his first elote (the other was holding his bow), Zakam flipped open two other compartments in its cart. One steamed with ice, the other simply steamed. “Would you care for a beverage?” it asked, fingers stippling through a rack of cold cans and bottles. “Some chapulines, for a side?” It gestured. Mercator’s gaze dropped.

This rack was full of fried grasshoppers on skewers, all lined neatly up in rows. They bristled with legs.

“Very well,” said Zakam, observing the look on the youth’s face. The pale, slightly unfocused look. The compartments slid closed again.

“Uh.” Again that unconscious head-tilting, as if listening to some quiet, distant voice. He tilted slightly more than before. “Boss, I think I need to lie down…”

-No! Ask it! Ask it where it was made, who made it, how -

“Ah,” said Zakam, who heard nothing, who watched as Mercator slowly folded at the knees. His corn fell uneaten on pavement. Sad stains of mayonnaise. “Is this your first time giving blood?”

The youth collapsed in a faint. As he fell, someone else rose. Zakam’s mask turned to face the not-quite-newcomer, who had in fact been lying in the alley for some time now, but was new by virtue of being unexpectedly animate again.

“You,” rasped the corpse with the broken-egg head. It got to its feet on still-limber joints, not dead long enough for rigor mortis, emanating an awareness that was not its own. “You’re not one of mine. You’re not one of anyone’s. What the hell are you, and how did you get here?”

Zakam considered its options.

“Would you care for some refreshment?” it asked.