The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Six: Eddelin City]

The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Six: Eddelin City]
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round One: Alpha Complex!]
Originally posted on MSPA by cyber95.

Aaand let's end this bitch and start up on a new bitch.
This is a round changing reserve.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round One: Alpha Complex!]
Originally posted on MSPA by cyber95.

"This is... chaotic. Already! I mean, I guess my other one got chaotic pretty quickly, too, but not quite like this! Oh, this is looking to be a good one. Ah, what's this?"
The Observer saw a screen with a message on it. A transmission of sorts was coming through. He pressed a button and reclined on his chair as a man in a suit with a face of mist appeared on the screen.
"Oh, hey Director, buddy, what's up?"

"Now that The Grand Battle has finished, I felt that I should look in on this new season that you rashly began. Without consulting me, first."
"Oh, c'mon, man. You don't need to babysit me, I know what I'm doing. Grab a few dudes, tell them to fight, and watch the magic. It's easy!"
"I would appreciate it if you allowed me to take one of the slots in your "season" of these battles, so I may keep an eye on your sheer lunacy."
"Yeah, I might be able to do that. I think that most everything is covered, but I've got a spot open up for- oh, hold on there, babe, I've got another call."
"Did you just call me 'Ba-"
The image of The Director was replaced by the image of a robotic figure, cast in shadow.
"Yo, Tamogatchi! What's happening?"
The Monitor visibly shuddered at the nickname he was given.

"I am merely contacting you to let you know that I will be hosting the next battle, as I do not trust your competence to handle one of these without getting yourself and possibly the whole lot of Grandmasters killed."
"Well, I hate to break it to you, but Smokehead just called to tell me he was taking the next ga-"
"That imbecile managed to get himself nearly killed twice during the duration of his battle. He is clearly unfit to run another."
"Alright, you've got a point. Go ahead and run your thing however you'd like to."
"I was not asking for approval in any case. Perhaps this will now go smoothly."
"Thanks for calling, have a nice day."
The Observer hit another button by the screen, switching the view back to the Director.
"Oh, hey, sorry, but Monitor's grabbed your slot! Better luck next season!"

"What? If it weren't for me, these battles wouldn't even exi-"
The Observer turned off the screen. After all, he had a battle to run!

The contestants found themselves in a new location, high up in the air. It appeared to be a small town, except most towns weren't situated on a large, flat, floating disc. Or were as shiny. Not to mention the bug problem.
The voice of the Observer could be heard by all the contestants.
"So hey, guys, that last round was pretty great! Let's see if you can top yourselves! Anyways, you may have noticed that this town is really high up! It's kept there with magic. Or science. Possibly a combination of the two. They can fly the place around, too, but these particular folks seem to like it where they are. Speaking of which, you should meet them! They're magical cyborg bugs! Nice guys, but try not to bother them. Wait, scratch that. Bother them. It'll be entertaining."
The insectoid "people" of the town didn't seem to notice or hear the voice that was coming from nowhere.
"Anyways, these guys are in a bit of a feud, so maybe you can help them out while you're here. Or make it worse for them. Honestly, I don't care what you do, as long as it's cool and has one of you die eventually. So, hey, I suppose I'll talk to you all later! Have fun, and welcome to Sk'va!"
The voice stopped, leaving the contestants to get their bearings, scattered around this strange new setting.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

An unheard cackle echoes deep within the silver walls of the floating town. "Excellent. The first kill is ours."

Maxwell stood upright as his hand returned to a normal state; he looked around, completely taken off guard by the new scenery. Tall buildings of bizarre design spiralled into the sky, there bright surfaces shone in the sunlight as a neon glow pulsated through them. A sharp wind swept across the town, Maxwell could tell they were high up "Y'know you didn't get the first kill. That disk ghost guy did."

"Bah! That rock was lucky! It couldn't kill anything if it tried, did you see it with that knife? Couldn't even stab that idiot to death."
Maxwell cracked his back and walked out of the alley way he was in, he saw many citizens walking in a single direction; all of them seemed to be angry. Maxwell also noticed the fact they seemed insectoid with cybernetic parts, but really, he had seen so many weird things already he was quickly becoming used to them. "Excuse me, sir?"

An anthropomorphic grasshopper turned its head towards Maxwell, it squinted its cybernetic eye at the boy. "I'm a woman you asshat!" Maxwell's face met with a metallic palm as the apparently female insect slapped him across the face. "And what the hell are you?! You look like no insect I've ever seen. And what in blazes is that-that worm thing!?" Sikarius hissed violently at the Grasshopper, Maxwell, held him back. "I was just wondering Si- Madam what the commotion was about?"

"Commotion?! Were you born under a rock you weird, pale freak?!" She said, considering that Maxwell may in fact of come from under rock. "Those bastards from Cyk'nl are showing up here! The nerve of them, why I have the right mind to throw a lightning bolt up all of their arses!" Maxwell looked down the street, in-between the silhouettes of angry bug people there was a silver disk with what looked like another town on the horizon, slowly growing bigger. "Huh. Thank you sir, I mean Madam!" Maxwell braced for another slap but luckily the woman had long gone.

"Feuds from another land? Perfect. Their warfare shall provide the perfect cover for me to swiftly get rid another one of those asinine contestants. Perhaps the girl. Yes she seems like the easiest target now that coward is out of the way. Boy! Find us a contestant to butcher." Maxwell rolled his eyes, "I'm not going to let you kill the first person you see Sik! For once will you be patient!"
Sikarius burrowed back into Maxwell's body. "Fine, if you are so eager to make friends with the enemy then I won't stop you. I'll make sure to remind you of this moment when we are both dead from your stupidity!"
Maxwell rolled his eyes again and began searching the metallic streets of Sk'va.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Arkal looked around in wonder. Sk'va was like nothing he had ever seen before. He could barely imagine what new materials he might be able to find in a place like this!

He then noticed Xadrez hovering nearby, rearranging the pieces on his chessboard in annoyance. Arkal temporarily pushed aside thoughts of gathering materials, as he still had a question for the spirit.

He walked up to Xadrez, who turned towards the smith at his approach; Arkal wondered if the chess piece had something to do with that, or if Xadrez had simply been less engrossed in the board than it had appeared. The voice suddenly spoke up through the bishop once again.

What do you want

I am rather busy right now

Arkal's question was straight and to the point.

"What the hell were you thinking back there?"

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

"Well, before the senseless fighting starts," said Jen, clapping her hands excitedly. "Kracht, which way is the town hall or civic center leadership whatever?"

Kracht pointed wearily, hoping that Jen would die in Sk'Va, as had happened often, but not usually, in the past.

"You're a doll." Jen patted Kracht on his stony shoulder affectionately and headed off down the street, admiring her surroundings.

The architecture of Sk'Va, she had to admit, was quite charming. It was like New Orleans, except shinier and with a fuckton more pentagons. Off on the edge were a series of crude docks on which were moored some comfy-looking hovercraft. The people looked like an okay sort, if a bit short-tempered, like dragonflies or the French. On that note, they sort of looked like a cross between a French person and a dragonfly, except dressed in some sort of cybernetic J-pop chic. All in all, Jen was forced to approve, though she preferred a little more bustle in her otherworldly cities, and there didn't seem to be a good marketplace. Everyone loves a good marketplace.

The town hall was easily identified by the columns and the big sign that read

SK'VA 24

above a little sign that said

<font size="4">
Sk'Va Town Hall

above the door.

After she figured out how to open the door (stand with your back to it, grab both handles, and pull downwards while walking backwards inside) Jen found a nice little bug-lady clerk with a peculiar little cosmetic syringe in her follicles and asked what the laws were in Sk'Va concerning diplomatic immunity.

"Oh, are you an ambassador from some far-off place then?"

"Not some place. The Place. You won't have heard of it."

"Oh no darling, I'm afraid I don't know of any Place."

"Well I'm its Queen. You can look it up in your almanac. We're in every almanac except our own."

"I'll look, but believe me, little lady, I know my geography. I took six hours of study at Infinity Plus One Better Than Any University Cyk'Nl Might Have University." The clerk reached under her desk and produced an enormous text that folded out five ways, conjuring up an aesthetically pleasing yet cluttered array consisting of both holograms and paper. "Place, Place, Place, Place. It is under P, isn't it?"

"Try thinking green, turning to a random page, and believing."

The clerk did so. "Hmmph." Her discontent faded away into a charming little-old-lady smile, only slightly diluted by the pincers. "Oh, honey, why didn't you tell me it was a magical place? For a moment there," she added in a hushed voice. "I thought you were a bit of a looney. Anyway, of course I'll need proof of identity. Just because you know about this place hardly makes you the queen now, does it? You understand."

Jen pointed at her scarf, which along with the rest of her clothes had been cleansed of that itchy red dye upon her sudden exit from Alpha Complex.

"Ah yes," said the clerk, taking another glance at the almanac. "That certainly is green. Sorry for the formalities, your highness."

"No problem."

"So, it's diplomatic immunity you're after? Well, your highness, I'm afraid the laws are somewhat vague in that matter. We can't have, say, an ambassador from Cyk'Nl running around free from the law, eh? So usually these things require a three-day turnaround and approval from the Mayoress. We'll get back to you, alright?

"Oh, that's quite alright," said Jen gratefully. "That gives me time to explore other options. See, I've been trying to establish a trading port around these parts."

"Ooh, what are you exporting? We've always a shortage of lumber here in Sk'Va, I'm sure you'll find the exchange rates more than fair.

"Actually where I come from we consider it good form not to take our lumber too far from where it grew. What we do have is silkworms that sing a capella while they sew, which is very good for the fabric. Also our steels have the eighth highest rate of sentience of any nation in the Everywhere."

"Well I'll be sure to bring that up with the Mayoress when she gets this latest batch of eggs out of her system."

"Of course. In the meantime I'll make a visit to that other place. What was it called? Signal? Missingno? Cyk'--"

"Sign this form."

Three minutes later, Jen walked out of city hall with a bottomless debit card and complete freedom from repercussions for any crime she may commit in Sk'Va, no matter how heinous. When the clerk had asked her what her plans were for her stay, she was embarrassed to admit that she hadn't thought that far ahead. However, she was sure she would end up doing something illegal, or, if things got really fun, maybe some heresy. The world was her oyster.</font>
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by cyber95.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

Xadrez was motionless for some time, his analytical mind churning furiously over those last anarchic minutes in Alpha Complex. Evaluation complete, with what only one as well-acquainted as Kracht could've sensed as a dejected air about him, the spirit adjusted the outer ring of pieces, nudging across the Observer's central chunk of Alpha Complex to account for Kracht's over-handed skullduggery in the last round. Xadrez had never been one to let personal grievance get in the way of his analysis, but in saying that, he had always been one to retain constant distance. The whole situation was truly distasteful, and even Arkal could gauge the tactician's mood as it flicked off two bits of dissected sentry turret, shifting a cleanly cleaved motherboard that was Maxwell over a bit.

When it became apparent the smith wasn't leaving, Xadrez mulled the question over.

Where and when specifically even with my intellect I'll concede it got rather chaotic

It was supremely difficult to tell if the chessmaster was being facetious. Arkal decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"Weo. In the corridor."

The bishop might've made a noise like a sigh as Xadrez moodily ran the knife over his board again, annotating all the data secured in the last round. The obsidian was getting pockmarked with the spiritual shorthand for "subjective", and it was doing little to improve the tactician's mood. After a pause, and a mantid officer executing a strange shuffle on the other side of the street as he considered approaching the two aliens, Xadrez hissed in a frustrated rush:

There was nothing left to do every junction every minute wasted with that terminal every dead Rillian he knew all of it

I admit the Rillian was my test I needed to know how drastic things had to get to discomfort
him and my calculations indicated his death would cause you humans the least grief save the Ovoid and the anomaly whose resistance to laser fire I had little promising data for

Arkal frowned at the humanoid, whose thoughts had descended into a maelstromic stream of vitriol at this whole predicament. If it weren't for the idle nagging in Arkal's head that killing the person least likely to be missed was still technically cold-blooded murder, he would've felt a little sorry for the spirit. Xadrez's thoughts finally quietened into whispery regrets; the smith experienced this with the accompanying mental image of Kracht grabbing the duo's chessboard while Xadrez's back was turned and bludgeoning the tactician over the head with it.

Physical impracticalities of this scenario aside, Arkal finally had an inkling of just what Xadrez's problem was. Unsure how to follow up this revelation, he finally ventured,
"So what's your plan for this round, then? Shoot more innocents until you catch Kracht by surprise, hm?"

The tactician seemed to consider it for a worryingly long time. No

Some other plan will be needed

but one less rash

things became too hectic, I did not fancy the shapeshifter's chances when co-operation and keeping together were optimal

but even then

Again, there was something both impossible to ignore and downright sinister about the tactician's gloomy tones as it talked about predicting death, but Arkal had heard what he needed to. He shrugged.

"Right. I'm going to explore this town; see if I can't find anything useful before it becomes an all-out war. As long as your scheming doesn't get us dragged somewhere else, then by all means go proceed."

Arkal stomped off, his considerable build taking up a fair share of the walkway and leaving a trail of shunted, irked Sk'vanians in his wake.

Xadrez fidgeted sulkily with his board for a few moments more, then decided to find a place yielding more information. Curiously, there was no helpful signage indicating the route to the main buildings, or maps. The tactician pondered this for a while, and eventually decided with all the weird looks he was getting that visitors to the island were rare. Still, no hostili-

"What're you?"

The tactician looked down from his meandering study of the city's spires to see a rotund little beetle-boy staring up at him. His custodian, a stately longicorn with some kind of unstrung, crystal-powered composite bow on her back chirruped a gentle rebuke, though she was staring as unabashedly as her son was. Unable to take a hint, he squealed,

"Ooh! You're a despicable Cyk'nl sabotage weapon, aren't you!?"

The way the phrases rolled off the youngster's pincers immediately dredged up recent memories of "filthy mutant scum". Xadrez gave the now-slightly suspicious mother beetle a quizzical look and a shake of the head, though it failed in shaking off the look she was giving. Her jaws flickered, and the tactician felt a tickling sensation which eased as soon as the beetle stopped her low chattering. Still looking at the admittedly strange sight with suspicion, the longicorn tugged on her boy's hand. [background=#FFBFAA:1o1vuysx]"I'm pretty sure it's not, dear. Now come along, or you'll be late for your archemage practice."[/background:1o1vuysx]

The pair circumnavigated the black disc, the boy still staring at the spirit. Xadrez stared right back.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

About one fifth of all rounds two that have passed have been situated in Cyk'nl instead, and all of those have resulted in a war. It would have been a lot easier for Kracht to dispatch Maxwell over there, in the confusion of the fight. Instead, the group was chucked into Sk'va, during the attack that would prove fatal for Maxwell. It seems the battle was running late, one way or another. It was time to step up the speed. Kracht apathically answered to Jen's request, and turned around to head someplace else. He met with the Ovoid.

Kracht started drawing on one of the more dusty roads in Sk'va, in signs the group had never seen before. "He thaught me this." he explained to an onlooking Maxwell. "He's a little shy, though, and I need some luck for an eye or anything to appear about now. He usually notices the text at the end of the round, meaning he can only reply come round three."
"Well, what's it say?" "Your presence in this dimension is going to die in round 3 or 4." "Is it really?" "Usually so. You however won't be around to see it." "Wait, this round is where I die?" "Indeed. It's best to enjoy Sk'va while you can, maybe make ends meet regarding Sikarius. Either way, you are going to die." Exit Kracht, leaving a distraught Maxwell alone with his parasite.

"He can't be serious... Sik, tell me we're not dying." "Hm, what's that, boy? 'We'? I'm afraid I can just find another host when it comes to that. These insects all look like they'd make suitable hosts." "You're a jerk. You are such a jerk."
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

The spirit's answer had been off-putting. Weo was killed because "he was the least likely to be missed"? Arkal almost wished he'd ask who had that lucky distinction now.

Grumbling, he considered the situation. From the mutterings of passerby, he had gathered that the Sk'vans and the Cyk'nlians, or whatever they called themselves, were, if not outright at war, very close to it. A single incident could push things completely out of hand.

Arkal was a little conflicted. On the one hand, such a war would almost certainly see many senseless deaths. On the other hand, a society on the edge of all-out warfare offered great business opportunities to a good weaponsmith.

He walked over to a nearby building, which seemed to be a shop. The Sk'van behined the counter eyed him suspiciously.

"What do you want?" it buzzed.

Arkal put on his biggest grin. It was important to look enthusiastic for a potential client.

"I'm here to do my part to protect Sk'va from those Cyk'nl bastards, of course!" he said.

The shopkeeper looked at him skeptically.

"Arkal of the Silver Anvil, master weaponsmith, at your service," he continued. "See, now, you've got some excellent materials in your shop inventory, and for access to them and a modest fee, I can work wonders."

"Oh, of course. I give a complete stranger money and unrestricted access to everything I'm selling. Yeah, this is a great deal, I can't see why I would pass it up. Get out of my sight."

Arkal continued to grin as he turned around. "All right, sir. I can see you're not interested. I'll just head back out and tell everyone you aren't 110% committed to the war effort..."

This gave the shopkeeper pause.

"You think I have any sympathy for those Cyk'nl bastards?" he shouted.

"I wouldn't dream of saying such a thing, my good man," Arakl replied, still grinning. "I just know that I offered to help, and you refused to let me. I'm sure your customers can figure out why on their own."

The shopkeeper admitted defeat. He had plenty of rivals who wanted his prime retail location. They would be all too happy to help this stranger spread his rumors, as absurd as they were on their face.

But at the same time, he wasn't a complete fool.

"Fine. I accept your generous offer. In fact, I'll close up early and give you free run of the store. I'll be back in a few hours to see how you're doing."

Arkal quickly got to work, as the shopkeeper left. He put down his forge and anvil, and immediately began work on designing a crossbow. He started by grabbing two advanced-looking devices. He had no idea that they were a magnetic paperweight and an automated pencil sharpener, and wouldn't have cared even if he were told.

The shopkeeper, meanwhile, planned to discuss this new development with the town guard.

He also wondered what kind of lunatic thought he could make battle-worthy weapons out of school supplies.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

[color=#0040BF]Maxwell hadn't moved since he was told about his imminent doom, he had simply slumped down to the floor, thinking about what Kracht had said, and how he would use it last moments of life. "Well it certainly was fun!" Sikarius lied "I guess I'll start the transition stages now, it'll save me some time in the fut-""I'm not dying" Maxwell interrupted.

"Eh? You sure about that? The thing from the future said you were going to die." Sikarius slithered in front of the boy's face. "I'm pretty sure his words carry a lot more weight than yours." Maxwell stood up, "he said the timeline varied didn't he? I might not die in this timeline! I-I mean"
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.


As usual, Xadrez's mind was ticking over furiously; he had a lot to think about. The mechanics of Archemagery. A city, gearing up for war. The anomaly, and how to best it. Who, according to Kracht's past experience, would die here. A recursive chessboard; devoid of white, still painfully crude. A circular city, with its lustrous, stately buildings. A city, allegedly gearing up for war.

Xadrez, on an educated guess, turned left at the next junction. The greater hustle and bustle was encouraging, but something about how animated the citizens of Sk'va looked (at least, before they spotted the looming humanoid) left him uneasy.

The road widened, and expanded to a stately hexagonal plaza. The tactician was less concerned with the elegant precision of the malachite inlay (though he could detect this place was positively thrumming with ambient energy; he absently noted the data) and more the score emblazoned above the doors of City Hall.

Unease still gnawing away, Xadrez drifted perhaps a little more aimlessly than usual towards the double doors. An experimental tug on the handles didn't provide much luck, but slipping (well, muscling) the bulk of his chessboards upon an insectoid's exit. The grumbling queue, which had been assembling Xadrez as he figured out the door mechanism, followed him in a wave of chittering discontent. A handsome jewel beetle, iridescent hull inlaid with a neon circuitry design, shoved past an implacable chessmaster as best as he could in his haste.
"Lymphy bastard foreigners..." he muttered irritably.

The tactician thought it best to wait in the queue behind the irate Sk'van, who had charged forward to the nearest desk and was ranting about the tourists getting under his feet and one of them even having the nerve to take over his store under threat of being implicated in the heinous crime of consorting with the Cyk'nl; it's an outrage I tell you.

The lady insectoid behind the counter was murmuring placating noises to the furious shopkeeper, while surreptitiously signaling for security. Her demeanor changed visibly as Xadrez drifted forward.

"Ah. Ambassador... Rizzo."The clerk looked up from her notes with a carapaced smile."The Mayoress was expecting you. Please, head on up the Autocline."

Xadrez considered the request for a moment, deliberated asking who he was getting confused with, then thought better of it. If it was Kracht's meddling, both compliance and deviation were bound to wind back up in the despicable rock's favour. And if it wasn't...

The sloped, moving surface of the autocline was a bit of a struggle for Xadrez to stay comfortably balanced on. His pieces were sliding inexorably down the board, and most of the trip up was replacing one piece, then snatching another. The multispectacled weevil behind him kept cowering every time a bit of camera was liable to slide right off and hit him.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

reserved BITCHES

*Edit: Uhhhh gonna be a bit of a delay.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

The Ovoid had remained mostly stationary during the transition, Weo's scythe resting on the floating, reclining rainbow-man-thing completely undisturbed.

The multicolored surface of the shape-shifted Ovoid began to ripple slightly, and its sudden tilting towards the upright position caused the scythe to slide off. Before it reached the ground, however, an oily-textured, tan appendage swelled around it before disappearing, along with the scythe.

The rainbow-clone had neared the upright position when its entire surface shifted. The feet joined, the neck swelled and the head flattened until the Ovoid had resumed the shape of its namesake. All color had vanished, to be replaced by the familiar tan-color.

Then it moved, faster than anything should be able to move, flying away from the floating island of Sk'va, and the steadily-closer island of Cyk'nl at incredible speeds.

Shortly after it vanished from view, it appeared from the opposite direction, slightly below the planes of Sk'va and Cyk'nl, closer to the latter than the former, and out of the view of prying eyes. It floated serenely up over the edge of Cyk'nl's metal edge, its sudden appearance drawing the attention of the Cyk'nlans in the area; at first glance similar to the Sk'vans in attire, but upon closer inspection, one would observe them to be more lizard-like than their insectoid rivals.

The Cyk'nlan gazed upon the Ovoid's perfectly smooth surface as it glided over the roofs of their buildings. It headed straight for the nearest open area, and by that time had quite a crowd of lizard-mage-scientists following. It could not know that it was landing before their Temple of Lost Lore; a town square of sorts, used for occasions of special significance to the Cyk'nlan. The Ovoid floated downwards, resting a bare two feet above the metal ground of the Cyk'nlan disc.

The crowd gathered around the strange floating entity, waiting for something to happen. Then, abruptly, a man appeared from nowhere, directly in front of the Ovoid. He was dressed in a skin-tight, tan-colored coverall, made of a strange oily material that glinted in the sunlight. He was also holding a large, impressive-looking scythe. His face was pressed into a permanent rictus of fear and pain; had there been anyone from the previous round present, they may have recognized him as one of the clones abducted into 4-space by the Ovoid, before its first transformation.

The Cyk'nlans surrounding the Ovoid and the clone waited expectantly.

The clone spoke.

"I speak for..." he gestured behind him, "the Entity." His voice was haggard and worn, and his speech uncertain.

A Cyk'nlan pushed its way through the crowd to the forefront, making quite the commotion as it did so.

"This! It has come! Cyk'nlans, the Inscriber has arrived, as foretold in our ancient tomes!" the Cyk'nlan's voice, an old male, took on a reverent tone as he recited from memory, "'And lo, it shall rise from the dead planet below, and be unknown to you. It will communicate through foreign means, and its Protector shall accompany it in all things'. There can be no doubt! This is the Inscriber!"

The crowd erupted in a cheer as the hapless clone looked around in confusion, seeming to be on the verge of outright terror.

He clutched the scythe harder, and glanced back at the Ovoid, whose presence had taken a somewhat ominous air. The clone looked forward again, and muttered under his breath, "Lennon help me, what am I supposed to do now?"

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.


Jen watched her feet dangling over the ledge, far above the crowd of insects below, and it seemed a very familiar situation to her; she had always loved stomping on ants as a child, her very first taste of power. In one hand she propped up a green parasol; in the other, she loosely held on to her paintbrush.

On the hexagonal, twenty-four hour clock she had replaced some of the numbers with a rudimentary day planner. Wake up at 6:30, breakfast, work work lunch work work home dinner TV sex bed.

Secrets of politics: People, despite popular belief, do in fact appreciate being told what to do. However, they despise being told when to get off their asses and do it, so a crowd quickly gathered, wondering why the police weren't doing anything to stop this endoskeletal little bitch.

The mayoress, who had an emergency meeting as well as being in the throes of pre-labor (the doctors, according to the paper, are reasonably certain that this is going to be the Big One) was unavailable for comment.

At lunch o' clock, a mortar-coffin was commissioned, and custodial staff was deployed to the polling center, which had been locked up for months. Word got out. Word, as a matter of fact, spread all the way to Cyk'Nl, whose own change in leadership was going a lot more smoothly.

Bookies across both towns recalculated their figures. The general consensus was that unless Sk'Va finished elections within twelve hours and produced a mayor who was some sort of eminently decisive tactical genius, it would be an absolute sweep for Cyk'Nl.

The city council held an emergency meeting and after reviewing a shocking clerical report, decided that they "absolutely needed" to win this war in order to gain some key trading partners.

Before the queen had even entered labor, the Cyk'Nl-are-Douches party had posters up all over town declaring that their candidate, Secretary of Sex and Death Phakkum Ohl, was "Easy on the Eyes, Tough on Cyk'Nl." No opposition immediately presented itself.

Getting down from the clock tower while avoiding the crowd required some fairly arduous acts of parkour, and by the time she found the shop Arkal had commandeered, Jen was about ready for a powernap. It had been a long, fairly unproductive day.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Jen wouldn't have paid much attention to the shop normally, but then she noticed the "Closed" sign and figured, what was the point of wasting perfectly good diplomatic immunity?

She walked in and saw Arkal. He had finished the crossbow and was gathering up a stack of colorful paper from one of the shelves. The blacksmith suddenly turned towards her, apparently taking notice of her entry.

"Just don't interrupt," he said, as he started wrapping the surprisingly-durable paper around a large wooden stick. "This one won't be too strong," he muttered to himself, "but it'll get the job done."

Jen shrugged and decided to browse. Maybe she'd talk to Arkal when he was finished. Or maybe she'd go check on the fruits of her labors. She hadn't decided yet.

Her thought process was interrupted as the shopkeeper burst in, accompanied by two of the town guardsmen.

"There! He's the one!" the shopkeeper shouted. "He said he was going to make weapons out of my shop... inventory..." His eyes settled on the crossbow. "Like, um, that one, I guess."

One of the guardsmen flew over to the bow and made an appreciative buzzing sound. "Nice! But, uh, it uses hard ammo, not energy, doesn't it? Can't really recharge in a fight."

"That's why I'm workin' on this," the smith said, not looking up. "I'm gonna tie a cable to it and use it as a bolt. Reel the cable back in after firing, and I can use it again."

"Huh. But what if the bolt gets stuck?"

"I'm no fool, I'll have a release in case of an emergency. Besides, this bolt isn't made for piercing, it's made for clubbing."

The other guard sighed as he flew over. Damn rookies always get caught up in the little things.

"You're under arrest for trespassing, mister," the senior guard said, interrupting the conversation and placing a hand on the smith's shoulder. "Or maybe extortion or something, I dunno. We'll figure that out after some questioning. Now come along quietly and there won't be any trouble." He turned to his slightly embarrassed partner. "And you! Get that female over there. She's trespassing, too."

As the rookie approached, Jen grabbed what looked like a high-tech stapler and smashed his face in with it.

"Sorry, guys. I've got diplomatic immunity."

The arresting officer seemed about to say something in response, when Arkal suddenly grabbed him by the wing and flung him across the shop.

"Never interrupt a smith while he's working," he said gruffly.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

The Mayoress' office, for a prison, was rather nice. In lieu of a roof, it sported a geodesic dome of thick amber glass, each tile embedded with a glittering lodestone to adjust its light-filtering properties. Xadrez supposed they were responsible for cloaking the office as well, seeing as such a structure would've been more obvious atop the civic building than the apparent state of absence it had when the tactician had been standing out in the plaza.

The Mayoress herself was a very amicable creature; she manipulated the various machinations of running a floating city with a well-practiced efficiency (and yes, they were actual machines, their tubes and cables and strange, chirping signals carrying to the neighbouring rooms and executing things on a minutiae Xadrez could only fantasize about). Her sleek, millipedean core was thoroughly coiled up within the machine, her mandibled features peering down at the tactician even as a swarm of Sk'va's best doctors scurried back and forth to the rear of the contraption.

The air, filled with an ambient golden glow from the windows and the constant ticking and clanking of the bureaucratic machine, was a little tropical for Xadrez's tastes, but he declined the katydid manservant's offer of a cold drink. He floated impassively as the Mayoress clamped his chess piece into a stand and brought it up to eye level.

"Oh, this is beautifully made, Ambassador. The resemblance to your queen is truly striking." Xadrez waved an insubstantial hand as she attempted to return it, the millipede finally comprehending it was a telepathic conduit. Flustered, several forelimbs thrashed around, prompting a clerk to stick his carapaced head through the door and shoot Xadrez a suspicious glance. The Mayoress waved him away cheerfully, before apologising to the still-silent spirit.

"I do apologise for the rather shambolic state I'm in, it simply seems that everything is happening at once... I suppose you understand what wars are like, Ambassador."

Never as tidy as history would lead you to believe

"Oh, but of course," the millipede continued pleasantly. "And it seems like rather a lot is coinciding with the invasion this war... the Triannual Terrestrial Embargoes, the elections... I'm just relieved we convinced Cyk'nl to front the invasion before negotiations stalled... and, of course, my pregnancy. How's it looking, boys?" she asked the surgeons.

"Not good, ma'am. One's definitely a surgeon; not sure about the other two. I fear one of them is looking a lot like an academic."

"Not a problem," chirped the Mayoress. "We've got this gentleman as a stand-in, if the worst comes to worst and we're looking at a butcher, baker, and pyrokinetic."


"Oh, that's why the Queen of the Place sent you, Ambassador. We've had an abominable run over the past six years, and considering that's the longest string of defeats to date we don't want to make it a seventh. And we've heard you're the finest tactician the the Place and its outreaches have ever spawned. The Queen's recommendation was quite glowing."

Xadrez was, not for the first time since being thrown into this battle, left stunned by how seemingly anyone, from an anomalous rock to an unremarkable little female human, had more control over this whole debacle than he did. It was really, really starting to annoy him. The Mayoress chittered sympathetically at the seething tactician, surreptitiously flicking a few switches.

"Yes, I do realise the posting was rather sudden, but it was extremely gracious of the Queen to offer your services. She was under the impression you found this kind of thing rather enjoyable?"

The spirit didn't notice the prickling hum which started up in the office, until the lodestones in the ceiling flashed in unison, inscribing a glowing circle of binding on the floor beneath him. It took two seconds for Xadrez to flick through all his options. Five seconds later, he decided to just ignore the ring despite the itch of it on his spectral substitute for skin. yes

Tactics, resolving conflict, I do find these


albeit by preference I would be well-distanced from where they are being undertaken

The Mayoress shuddered involuntarily. From the rear of the machine one of the doctors called,
"We right right, ma'am, it was a surgeon!" The spirit watched with some interest as a sizeable grub was swaddled up and carted out a side door by one Sk'van. Looking up at the recovering Mayoress questioningly, the tactician shifted his Battler pieces aside as he considered the logistics of this upcoming fight. The millipede was still for a moment longer, before picking up her levers and switches and getting back to work, a little unsteadily.

"Oh, no, Ambassador, you won't need to put your own work aside. You'll have this whole office at your disposal."

Your machine-

"-Will be shifted out once I'm finished. Unless one of the last two is the general we so desperately need, this entire office is yours. Sk'va needs to win this war, Ambassa-"

The millipede seized up again, more violently than before. A purplish goo, colour drained to black beneath the golden ceiling, dripped out from under some kind of data bank. "Mayor!" barked a doctor. Xadrez didn't miss the implication, and glanced hopefully up at the giant, dying millipede.

"He won't be fit for office for at least ten years, Ambassador. And even then, Sk'va would've fallen to that Cyk'nl filth-"


your architecture shows no sign of recent restoration

your people are prosperous, aware but unconcerned at this

you have the capacity for sabotage to cripple this constant foe outside the field of battle

yet you do not

explain clearly to me the nature of this thing you call
war before I run your chattering city to the ground in spite or ignorance I'm beginning to care little which

Re: The Grand Battle SEASON 2! [Signups!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

"Tactician, please. Rest your tongue, because you don't know the entire story." Xadrez, who had recently stood up to walk out, or motioned to do so, turned around to face the writhing mayoress. "I... We can't do anything. Our troops are bound to treaties Cyk'nl forced upon us. This used to be one town before. The whirling gears at every edge of town fit together perfectly. Cyk'nl used to be the capital, Sk'va the slobs. Once our city sstarted to flourish, Cyk'nl sensed a threat, and..."
it wanted to oppress your town
you would be surprised how many times that excuse has been used

The mayor swallowed. "Sir, with all due respect, we won't allow you to speak ill of our town like this. We are bound by a former law set up so we couldn't grow further."
then why are you still abiding by those laws if you have the power to change them
this entire facade has gone on far too long and I will personally grind your town to dust if I so please though I don't think I can be bothered anymore

<font color="#80BF00">"Mayoress, do you have a second? I'm Reznor Croax, I arranged the transportation of the tactician to Sk'Va? You wouldn't remember me, but I'd like to borrow him for, say, 5 minutes? Something about the way back, nothing big."
"Oh, Reznor, right. Of course I remember you! How's life?" "Very well, thank you. If you could..." "But of course, dear! Here, as long as you get him back in one piece I'll be delighted to miss him for a few moments." The binding circle that kept Xadrez more or less in place - or would if he had any incentive to walk out - turned from a sstrange glowing golden he was already used to to a faint blue. Xadrez realised he could move again, and was once again struck with awe as Kracht seemed to have control of even when Xadrez was allowed or supposed to move. Xadrez forced his chessboard through the doorway and headed back out, not speaking to anyone until he was outside the office. That horrid rock was awaiting him.
"You figured it out." Xadrez didn't reply in the least. "I wasn't expecting a reply. I know you did." Kracht knew very well he was getting on Xadrez' nerves, but couldn't care less. "So what's your plan now, chessmaster?" you know very well "Well, there's still probability some things change. Remember, it's the tiny details that are less likely to be the same." I don't think my plans as contestant would have little effect to this battle's outcome "The outcome is set in stone, Xadrez. And what's even more - or, I'd say in this case less important, is that you have absolutely no part to play in robbing Maxwell from his life." Maxwell dies now "Yes, he does. Depending on how Rounds three, four and five will have their setting shuffled, either the Ovoid or Jennifer will die in the next. It's usually the Ovoid though, and he doesn't really die at all. It's like putting your hand on a cooking plate, and pulling it away when it hurts. We never get to see the full form." where do we do battle next round Kracht shook his head and turned away. "You don't know this, but you always ask that. Now, the mayoress is waiting, so it's best to return to the room. Just a little detail, she'll be dead."

The city of Cyk'nl that always lied in the horizon somewhere, and was circling around Sk'va and the other way around, and of which the entire scene seemed like a slow waltz number that has been playing for ages, suddenly with all haste sped towards Sk'va and connected with it, forming the old town again. An army of trained Cyk'nl militia charged forward into Sk'va. Their lizardlike shape was padded with all sorts of futuristic armor that seemed rteady to repel any attacks, and were armed each with an individually created weapon all of which would make Arkal's jaw drop to the floor. The squad did not plunder or wreck a single house, but marched directly to the town hall, through security and planted a mess of knives in the mayor before anyone could add two plus two. A croaking voice grinned and said:
"Cyk'nl says hello." Xadrez entered the office to - no surprise there at all - find out Kracht was right, again. A few hysterical doctors scurried from one machine to the other in order to at least get that last worker out of the Mayoress' carcass, and the circle on the floor he was supposed to return to had vanished. "This wasn't our treaty, Cyk'nl! No aggression until the signal that both armies are ready was given!" "You would know better than to trust our playing fair. We want to ultimately destroy you. Wasn't this a war?" The peering eyes of the tactician who recently entered served to no other answer than a very dispirited yes.

</font>Maxwell sat on the edge of town, leaning over to see the rapidly spinning gears crush the bits of rubble between them. "I wonder if it's okay if I just kill myself now. I mean, if I'm gonna die anyway, I might as well make it quick and painless." "Boy. I mean, Maxwell. I have two complaints. One, that doesn't seem nearly as painless as you say. Two, I seem to have thaught you nothing." "How come?" "Maxwell, if there is anything you have never stopped doing for all that time I was stuck to you is fighting my presence. You always had this force in you that wanted me out. Are you saying you're going to stop fighting just like that?" "But I've had it Sik! I'm done with this cruddy life stuck to you, not having any friends but a worm, being tossed from one situation to the other and ending up in a battle to the death! Death, Sik! And the only one who knows for certain what's going to happen just said I-I'd die!"
A long pause filled the air, tears apppearing in Maxwell's eyes. Even Sikarius' malevolent face toned down. "If I'm gonna lose anyway, I might as well not try winning."

"Max, don't say that." "Kracht? What do you want?" "I want to cheer you up a little, as weird as it may sound." "Y-Y-You just told me I'm gonna die, and now you want to cheer me up? Get bent!" "Please, Max. I want to tell you something. You know, that I've gone through this battle many times now, right? Every time, I started and already knew you. I already knew everyone. And more importantly, since they never really got to killing me, I didn't really think of them as enemies. Besides Xadrez who just doesn't want to get along, you're all my friends. I've seen you die so many times it may seem that I don't care, but I'm sad when you die, Max. I want to be there for you when your moment comes." Maxwell's tears didn't stop, but his mouth started to smile a bit. Sikarius watched on with sheer disgust of the sappy friendship speech. "You know what also didn't change in all of those iterations? You never stopped fighting, even when the army dropped in. Oh, and about half of the time you had a nice chat with Jennifer. She really thinks you're a nice kid, but she's just a bit weirded out by, as she put it, that thing on your shoulder. And you also always met a very cute insect girl in a chocolate shop who it completely cool with Sikarius because he's also an animal and also a customer. Maybe you should go check it out, right?" Maxwell stood up with a brighter mood, and took off. "Thanks Kracht. You're a pal. Promise to not beat yourself up too much when I die, okay?" "...I promise."

quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

The clone looked around as the crowd erupted with patriotic fervor, caused by the return of their "Inscriber". The lizardkin dispersed throughout their floating city; engineers descended into its bowels, and able-bodied citizens lined up outside its barracks.

Unobserved, however, were tendrils of amorphous tan which snaked their way through the guts of Cyk'nl, stalking the engineers as they prepared the island for movement.

The clone risked a glance at the Ovoid, lips pursed in a nervous expression as its surface rippled and seized. "What are you doing..." he muttered. Abruptly, then, his face was wracked with pain, and his body trembed as he struggled against the vice-grip of an invisible giant's hand. The Ovoid began to vibrate, barely controled chaos seeming to seethe from its surface.

The former Communist gasped and collapsed fowards, leaning on Weo's scythe, other hand pressed up against his forehead. Without a moment to gather himself, the tan-colored bodysuit suddnly tightened, and the clone found himself flying through the air.

The Ovoid was now alone in Cyk'nl's town square. Its incomprehensible shaking rose to an altogether violent degree, and blobs of amorphous tan erupted into existence around it, rending and bending the metal landscape around it into a new shape...

As Cyk'nl altered course and rushed towards Sk'va, none noticed the poor clone flying through the air. The citizens of both flying islands were too preoccupied with each other to notice him land on the edge of Sk'va, right next to a human-shaped rock anomaly.

Kracht looked up as the clone landed rather clumsily next to him.

"The Entity... I believe you know it as '3-space elliptical'? I think that's how it translates. It uh... it wishes me to deliver a message. To you."

Kracht smiled, faintly. "Oh good! He's finally started to communicate! Though... it is odd, he's only recently started using you, and with mixed results. Usually you two end up becoming close friends-" Kracht's expression abruptly changed as the clone clenched his teeth in pain, knuckles going white as he gripped the scythe.

"Guhhaah! Friends? Hah! Do you know what this thing has doooAAAHH!" another seizure flayed the clone's body. "Yes, yes! I'm sorry I'll... I'll get to the point."

The clone took a moment to gather himself before looking Kracht directly in the eyes.

"It says, 'Something has changed.'"

With those words, the sound of tortured metal ripped across the two linked sky-cities. Alarms wailed as key mechanical pieces were suddenly torn to pieces inside both islands. Everything seemed to drop two feet before settling down once more.

And then Sk'va and Cyk'nl began to fall.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

For a moment after the shaking started Jen thought that Arkal was channeling Hephaestus or something in his rage; then there was a lurching feeling like an elevator starting up and she sensed a greater trouble.

“Aw, fuck,” said the smaller cop. “Did you do this?” he asked Jen, a hint of a whisper in his voice.

“No, I swear,” answered Jen. “This is bad, isn’t it?”

“I don’t—” the cop ran over to his partner, who was crumpled unconscious against the wall.

”He’ll be fine,” grunted Arkal, tinkering with a hole-punch and the cap to a bottle of glue. ”His exoskeleton’s crude, but should be able to take a couple knocks.”

“We need to get him out of here,” urged the cop.

“Yeah, but ‘here’ might be a little broad.” Jen patted the cop on the shoulder, which was pretty uncomfortable. “Is there a shelter for this? Anything?”

“The church cathedral is designed to withstand all conventional apocalypses, but it’s closed until the end of the war, due to hypocrisy.”

Jen tried to nod but was interrupted by another lurch. “Take your partner here. There’ll be a riot, but don’t try to police anything. I’m going to go find a douchey guy made of rock and make it tell me the future. Arkal, you coming with?”

”Mmm? No. I’d rather see about this cathedral.” Arkal reluctantly put away his tools and shouldered the unconscious policeman over his shoulder. ”Come along, young one, let’s leave the heroes to their scheming. We have work to do, eh?”

Once Arkal and the rookie had left, Jen hurriedly grabbed some paper on a pen from off the shelves and scrawled down a note:


Can’t chat need to find someone no rabbits here so don’t ask name is Krakt (sp?) should be somewhere in a town called Sk’Va please hurry [img]images/smilies/icon_heartbeat.gif[/img] Jen

She stuffed it in her pocket, dashed out the door and punched the first local she found in the face.

“Where’s the post office?” she demanded. Her hand hurt.

“The hell is your problem?” said the bug. “Listen, I have money, I have eggs, just let me go, I need to get to the cathedral, okay?”

“The post office!”

“That way!” The bug pointed, threw down some money and a stubby-looking sword, and ran off. Jen grabbed everything.

* * * * *
Maxwell woke up covered in chocolate and ooze. Shit, he thought. Another date ruined.

He stumbled out under an upsettingly dim noonday sun and watched two things that could not exactly be described as helicopters drop a couple of bombs on a building two blocks down. One of the walls of the building fell upward, which Maxwell took as a bad sign. Sik, despite having clearly gotten the better deal out of the last fifteen minutes, was upset.
“Listen, Maxwell, a species as largely unintelligent as mine doesn’t survive without some pretty decisive instincts and mine are kind of, hmmmmm, wobbling? I don’t have words. It’s on your head to make sure we don’t die soon.” Maxwell sighed. His mind went forth, then back again on whether Kracht had been bluffing.

Then Jen showed up.
”Maxwell! Imminent apocalypse, mission afoot, please to follow.”

Maxwell found himself obeying.

Walking through Sk’Va at this phase was sort of like walking with those glasses they gave you in school to show you what the world looks like when you’re drunk, except the line he was looking for was his center of gravity. Occasionally he felt himself getting lighter, and other times he felt the ground pushing up against his feet so he almost collapsed. Sik wasn’t helping. “You’ve surely figured out how this wurrks by now. One or two people die, the rest of us get teleported out of here to somewhere safer. This kind of defeatism isn’t like you.” ”Yes it is.” “Well, okay, fine, but normally I’m the one who defeats you, not the rock or the girl with the… face that I’m pretty sure is nothing to get worked up about by standards of human attraction—” “Wow, Sik, your trash talk leaves something to be desired.” “I’m trying to make a point, Max, which is that you’re acting completely outside of any kind of rationality. You have fallen off Maslow’s Pyramid and are running around on the sphinx’s back.” “Listen, Sik, I think I have this worked out. We have three people who are at least biologically alive and three things that were born out of fucking—”

Jen whistled. “I’d like to point out that I can still hear you both. Also, we’re here.It was a post office. “It’s a post office,” said Maxwell.

”Yes,” said Jen. “It’s a post office.”

* * * * *

On the inside, it was a post office, except empty. “—certain clauses that are mostly in place to stop me from missing out on the fun,” Jen was explaining to Maxwell, “And some of those happen to give me slight advantages, like the one that grants me access to all psychic rapports. Apparently the Grand Battle technically counts as a ‘party or event’ and someone or other is getting paid for me to be here. Shit, maybe it’s Moses. Fuck, maybe it’s me.”

”Who’s Mo—“

”Help me find stamps.” Jen hopped over the counter and found stamps embarrassingly quickly. “Okay never mind, help me find a mailbox.” There were mailboxes right next to the stamps. “Alright never mind, watch the door.” She put the stamp on the letter and put the letter in the mailbox and closed the mailbox.

”Any chance you’re going to tell me what we’re doing here and how long it will take?”grumbled Maxwell

”Contacting someone back home who will know where to find Kracht, who hopefully knows how to make this stop happening. It’ll be about two minutes.”

”You sure this is the fastest way to find him?”

”No, but it’s the most dependable way. I… I assume we’ll make it in time, anyway.”

”Kracht told me I was going to die this round,” sighed Maxwell.

“Yeah I was thinking it would probably be you. Or that other thing that’s a thing. You know that thing?”

”The uh, the round thing? Yeah, I have no idea what’s up with that.”

”Maybe we should kill it. Or maybe it’ll give us a ride home.”

Maxwell shrugged, making Sik hiss a little.
”Nah, if we’re gonna kill anybody this round, we should kill Arkal. It’d be easy.”

”No way, Arkal and I are total bros. Also I need him to make a sword for me so I don’t end up stuck with shit like this,” she added, holding up the stolen sword. I forbid you from killing Arkal.”

”You forbid me? Am I your bitch now?”

”Probably! Do you want to be my bitch?”


”Ha! Liar.”

Then the army showed up.

* * * * *

Maxwell couldn’t tell whether the army was Sk’Va, mistaking him and Jen for Cyk’Nlian saboteurs, or just Cyk’Nlian saboteurs. He held the door for a while, then it was mostly Sik. Everything faded to a red kind of black…

* * * * *

While something messy went on behind her, Jen opened the mailbox back up to find a reply to her letter.

My queen:

It is good and also disheartening to hear that you are well. Would that you were too poorly to go off on such fool errands as messing about with this Kracht character, who from my brief readings into the matter seems to be both a formidable opponent and the type of ally you tend to loathe. Furthermore I would be pleased if some manner of illness befell you that precluded you from going off to such a place as Sk’va, the entry for which keeps retreating to the back pages of my almanac. This is exactly the sort of portent that sets this old heart into an uncomfortably youthful state of excitement.

That you are well and occupied by such troubles amuses you to no end, I have no doubt, and so rather than wasting both your time and mine by burdening you with my own feeble worries (which I assure your Majesty are only a slight diversion from a disgracefully comfortable life of wealth, liquor and females) I shall get to the point. You shall find the Kracht entity on the border of Sk’Va and Cyk’Nl, at the northernmost point of the overlap. The bestiary is quite certain on this, and in fact seems to contain several dozen near-identical entries on the being. This is most unprecedented but some redundancy is to be expected when one keeps adding to a volume for so many years. I shall perhaps make it my duty to reduce such clutter in anticipation of your return to the throne, which several of us here are still gleefully awaiting.

Love and loyalty always,

Your friend and servant,


The signature was notarized by a cyan and yellow stamp. Jen smiled, kissed the letter on what she imagined to be its cheek, and turned to join in the battle. The feeling of lightness was much more constant now.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

A little earlier...

"No, no, that piece detaches like that..."

Xadrez observed the mayhem in the office with rising disgust.

"Excellent, thank you. Send the emissary out right away."

No. Xadrez had not had the time to analyse and understand every aspect of the Sk'van's body language, but the crowd-mind, to his experience, was a universal phenomenon.

"Oh, oh dear... best wipe that up before a stain sets in..."

Their leader was dead; the circle tethering the tactician had been snuffed out with her. And Xadrez could tell just by looking.

They'd seen this coming

Ignoring the chatters of displeasure as he drifted, slow and deliberately obstructive, through the crowd, the spirit drew his dagger as he approached the machine. The morticians and magi-engineers scattered as the tactician gazed upward, into the eerily still tangle. The blade swung through the air and machine, halting only with a dull thunk and shrieks of outrage as the dagger embedded in the still-dripping chitin of the millipede.

With a supreme lack of concern, Xadrez reached in with some difficulty, and extracted a little copper clamp, sheared clean through its base by the tactician's unassuming blade. From its claws, the spirit pried his carving of Jennifer, and was about to discard it when something about the forcibly mangled talon beckoned. The knife was whistling uneasily as the furious insectoids formed ranks and closed in, but Xadrez paid them no heed as he raised the knife and chiseled more details into it; etching bloodied clothes, a twisted aberration of an arm, a mouth of voracious teeth.

A pulse of light, and the splintering of glass. Xadrez hissed and clasped the swirling gap where his shoulder had been, glaring at the burly stag beetle who'd fired the beam. The dagger's wailing was getting worse, reverberating round the enchanted bubble of the domed office, drowning out the police chief's screeches for the Ambassador to step away from her Excellency, this instant. Holographic displays buckled and warped, delicate bits of the bureaucratic machine shattering as the golden light faded, replaced with something more natural as the glass above splintered and showered the occupants.

Xadrez glanced around, still holding the shrieking knife in one hand and his copper figure of Maxwell in the other. Head jerking aside to avoid another laser blast, the tactician placed the piece next to Jennifer’s token, and drifted backwards, deeper into the machine, slashing as he went. His gaze remained fixed not on his path or the armed stag beetle, but the bureaucrats. At first, they had fled at the noise and destroyed dome, but seeing Xadrez invading the city’s control centre had dragged them out. One particularly officious-looking rose chafer, his twelve-piece monocle dangling at his side, was trying to get the stab beetle’s attention while using him as a shield.

The tactician watched him, watched the way his mandibles twitched when the knife threshed through more wires and levers, and kept retreating.

An island-jolting rumble signaled the cities had rejoined, and something by Xadrez’ hand chirped. A moment’s consideration, a tidy slice to detach the case from its hinges, and suddenly the chafer was screaming for the chief of police to shoot.

Then the knife’s frequency climbed to some critical, insect-disabling frequency, and the Sk’vans fell as one, clutching their heads in pain. Xadrez rested the dagger on his board, where it chattered as it yowled, and studied the exposed panel. The display was unreadable, but the tactician had ample time. He drifted out of the tangle of cogs and pipes, picked up the stag beetle police chief’s gun, and jabbed it in the monocled beetle’s carapace. It left a viciously satisfying little burn, as Xadrez telepathically passed his message down it:

what does the panel do

An ominous little hissing noise was accompanied by some steam escaping from the constable’s exoskeleton. Xadrez juggled spectral carbine, clerk, and knife for a moment, before terminating the screech with a swift stab in his gut. The rose chafer was making unpleasant gulping noises as the rest of the contingent slowly got to their feet. Xadrez jammed the rifle in his hostage’s back, and hissed his message again.

Perhaps it was the fact the whole room wasn’t that pleasant shade of amber anymore, but somehow the whole setting had just got a lot less magical. Perhaps Xadrez was just in a game-changingly foul mood this iteration.

you brought this upon yourselves, you prancing, pantomiming fools


Moments later, Xadrez was back out on the street, panicked citizens jostling around him, few stopping to notice the now-revealed skeleton of the glass-dome atop the civic offices. Tossing the gun aside, the spirit listened for where his pieces had gone. He had to cut open a few buildings to get at a few, but soon he had his full set again - the grey wall of Alpha Complex, the scraps of sentry turret, and Jennifer, in jade. A hunk of pinkish marble Xadrez’d just hacked off to get at the Observer’s piece nearly flew from his hand as Sk’va slumped a little; it was then the tactician noticed his copper carving of Maxwell was still missing.

somewhere beneath; possibly lost in a sewer-

Normally, this would’ve caused unbelievable frustration to Xadrez. Normally, under no circumstances would he have interpreted this as a ‘sign’ of any description. Had someone suggested it to the spirit, they would’ve been met with derision.

But the tactician was angry. He knew full well such anger would only serve to make him irrational. He knew Kracht’s words, a two-mirror trap of reverse psychology, were as useful to him as no words at all. He knew Kracht alone knew how Maxwell would die, and that it was only this angry irrationality spurring him to angry, irrational action.

And he didn’t care. In fact, he savoured it.

The flow of the crowd was pushing Xadrez toward a squat, but nonetheless grand building. The tactician pegged it from afar as a refuge; perhaps even an escape pod? Musing over it, the spirit decided firstly Kracht wouldn’t be able to resist warning Maxwell of his demise, and secondly the boy wasn’t going to hide from it. Swinging his knife and watching the Sk’vans scatter, Xadrez drifted on, toward the now-visible spires of Cyk’nl.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.


As Arkal arrived at the cathedral, he saw a single Sk'van frantically pulling on the doors, desperately trying to open them.

"GODDAMN IT! Of all the days to forget my keys!" he shouted.

Arkal coughed, getting his attention.

"What do you want?" the Sk'van growled back. "If you're looking to hide in here, forget it. These doors are solid transtanium, and without that stupid key I lost, they won't open."

"Then why are you trying to pull them open?"

"...shut up." He stopped his wild flailing, resigned to defeat. "I swear, this High Priest job isn't all it's cracked up to be. I wish I'd been born an engineer or something instead."

"Mind if I have a look?" Arkal asked, shoving him aside without waiting for an answer. The High Priest considered reprimanding him, then looked nervously at the unconscious officer slung over Arkal's shoulder and decided against it.

Arkal quickly realized that, although the doors and walls of the cathedral were indeed made of a potent alloy, these Sk'vans apparently didn't know much about making a proper hinge. In fact, it would have been more secure if they'd built the doors to open inwards rather than outwards.

He smashed the hinges of one door with his hammer, then grabbed it and carried it inside. The metal would be tough to work with due to its strength, but even without any smithing, it would make a good shield in a pinch. The only thing he'd seen so far that might be able to pierce it was Kracht.

The High Priest followed him in, nervously. He wasn't sure how safe the cathedral would be with a door missing, but it was still probably safer than outside.


"Wake up, you idiot!" Sikarius hissed at Maxwell. He hated it when the stupid boy fell unconscious; most of the body became significantly harder to control.

With great effort, the Bio Wyrm forced Maxwell's eyes partially open to get a look. It seemed he was being ignored by whichever army had attacked them; they probably thought Maxwell dead. Which was technically true, he mused; it was just that only now was he unmoving as well as dead. Jen was nowhere in sight either.

Focusing carefully, Sikarius grew two small limbs out of Maxwell's back and started slowly dragging the body away with them, stopping any time a soldier seemed about to turn in his direction. It took effort, but soon he had slithered away out of sight, so Maxwell could recover without dozens of soldiers watching him. After a few minutes, Maxwell groggily came to.

"About time, boy," Sikarius hissed. "Now, this is what we are going to do. We are going to find Arkal, and kill him."

"Wha...?" Maxwell groaned. "But Jen said..."

"That is precisely why we are going to kill him!" Sikarius' voice was even sharper than usual, snapping Maxwell to attention. "Nobody orders me around!"

"...if she figures that out, can't she trick you into doing stuff by telling you not to?"

"Silence! We need to figure out where he went..."

There was a sudden shout echoing down the alleyway.


"...ah, how convenient. Now, let's get going, shall we? Or do I have to make your pathetic body walk over there?"

Maxwell sighed. "Fine. I'm not in the mood to argue with you right now."


"OVER TO THE CATHEDRAL! HURRY!" Kracht shouted. This iteration was proving frustratingly difficult so far, but hopefully getting Maxwell over to the cathedral would get it somewhat back on track.