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

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

Hundreds of Sk’vians began pouring into the cathedral, from the outside it looked like all other buildings, reflective metallic shine with pulsating neon edges. From the inside however the building seemed quite archaic, at least in the terms of the clearly futuristic Sk’vians. Arkal figured the transtanium was just a coating for the Cathedral, the rest no doubt was made by stone, albeit a stone unique to Arkals knowledge, he made sure to chip a piece to examine later. Soon the cathedral was positively full of civilians, all screaming and panicking, only three figures stood out: the high priest, standing on a raised platform, no doubt the civilians didn’t stand on for religious reasons. A large, fine statue made out of a fine marble like substance, it was of a grasshopper, clad in armour and wielding a massive spear, Arkal had to retrain himself from taking a sample, as it no doubt would of be highly frowned upon. And finally Arkal himself, towering over most of the crowd, he got strange looks from almost all of the insectoid people.

A loud whistle was heard from the ceiling, many, including the Blacksmith looked up to see the source of it. There a huge bat like creature hung, it’s claws embedded into the stone. Except this creature had human features and a ruined shirt and tie, it was Maxwell. “Arkal!” Maxwell descended down onto the raised platform where the high priest stood his demonic wings reeked of rotting flesh but maintained strength to hold the boy. Sikarius’ serpentine head appeared from Maxwell’s shoulder and violently gorged into the High Priest’s neck, the populace screamed and went into a frenzy.

“EVERYONE SHUT UP!” Arkal’s booming voice reverberated throughout the cathedral, causing mass silence. “Maxwell. What are you doing?” “Oh you talking about that guy?” Maxwell nonchalantly pointed at the holy man’s desecrated corpse. “Well that was Sikarius, I wasn’t planning on killing him but whatever.” As he spoke, Maxwell’s wings began to shrivel and snap off, there purpose being fulfilled. “Well what are you doing here?” “Oh I’m here to kill you. No hard feelings, aye?” Arkal was taken back a little by Maxwell’s calm demeanour, he seemed so adamant about killing earlier, but he figured having that violent thing inside of him has no doubt caused havoc on the boy’s mentality, The blacksmith almost felt sorry for him. “Do you want to kill me, or does that thing want kill me?” “Muscle-bound fool! Of course I want to kill you! When I’m done with you’ll be nothing but mince!” “Look, Kracht has told me I’m gonna’ die this round. But if I kill someone now, I won’t have to die! Simple no?” “And what? Stall your life so you can die in the next round? Give it up Maxwell, you couldn’t kill me anyway.” “S-shut up!” Maxwell shouted, clearly frustrated. “You don’t know what I’ve been through! Constantly on the run, doing awful things just to survive! I can’t die now! Not when I’ve put so much effort into living!”

Maxwell’s rant was interrupted by a huge tremor, outside, Cyk’nl aircraft drop bombs emblazed with powerful magic, causing massive earthquakes throughout the falling city. Earthquakes were completely unheard in the flying city, so the Cathedral had little defences against it. By now most of the civilians have turned and fled, Arkal was slowly pushed back by the tides of the crowd, amongst all the screaming, Arkal could hear a muffled voice from inside his pocket. Xadrez spoke once again through the chess piece, the conversation of which Arkal responded with
“You’re kidding right?”

At the same time, Maxwell clumsily fell off the raided platform with a heavy thud, another tremor echoed throughout the buiding, causing massive cracks in the infrastructure. “Get up boy! How can you kill him if you're just flailing on the floor!” “I’m trying ok! It’s bloody hard to keep my balance with all thi-“ Maxwell was interrupted once more, this time by the large marble statue, about to collapse on him. Maxwell simply stared, he knew it. This was how he was going to die, he simply closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable. Instead of being crushed however he felt a sharp tug from the back of his shirt. When he opened his eyes he saw the spear embedded into the floor, just one inch away from his head.

“You probably don’t deserve this.” Arkal loosened his grip on Maxwell’s clothes, the boy turned around, completely bemused at why the Blacksmith saved him. “Why did you do that?”. Arkal paused and contemplated a little. “Not sure myself. Maybe because there’s still something left in you kid. You’re not a total monster just yet. Oh and the ghost told me to.” Arkal continued out of the ruined cathedral, following the last few escapees. “…ghost? Xadrez?”

“Hmm.” Kracht stood with his arms crossed, completely unfazed by the earthquakes and panicked Sk’vians. “The transition to the next round typically doesn’t take this long.” He glanced down towards the floor. “That usually kills him you know.” Xadrez hovered behind the pale green man, slightly annoyed that he knew that he’d turn up. “I figured. I saw everything, asked Arkal to save him, it would seem he was successful.” Kracht let out a small laugh. “Oh wow. You usually don’t start this till round 4. The old ‘trying to save who I said would die’ malarkey.” He spun around to face the spectre. “But it’s pointless. One way or another Maxwell dies in this round, it has happened 100% of the time. Heh, even I’ve tried to save him a couple of times, but even I can’t stop it. His destiny is locked. It’s quite interesting really.”

Xadrez’s eyes sharpened as he scowled at Kracht. “I am no puppet to destiny, I’ll make it change.” Kracht let out another small chuckle and walked away. “That’s a shame. You’re usually quite productive in this round. But if your still eager to waste your time, I won’t stop you.”
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

The distortions of physics accompanying the fall were beginning to intensify; everything carried a strange echo and a wind whirled around at all angles. Jen looked rather pitiful trying to hold on to a Cyk’Nlian streetlight that had buckled upon the collision with Sk’Va.

The intersect gave off the impression of a rather artful work of city planning, the red bricks of Sk’Va’s roads divided from the white cobblestones of Cyk’Nl along a jagged line. This close to the edge, everything was diverted; even the soldiers (now mostly frantically scurrying for cover) had drawn a line farther south, where the wind was less fierce.

Kracht stood facing Jen, one foot in each world. “I just told Maxwell that he died a hundred per cent of the time. I lied. Every now and then, it’s you. You fall off the side or get shot in the back of the head by a soldier or some other stupid comeuppance that reminds everyone that you were just a little girl the whole time. And it starts with you doing something like this. Get back to the cathedral, Jen.”

”But those weren’t me, were they?” asked Jen. ”Not really. They were just alternate versions, right?”

Kracht was silent for a bit. “You were a redhead once,” he admitted. “But no, always the same old Jen. No one ever really changes, except maybe Keleth.” He laughed. “No, that was a joke, sorry.”

”Have you made that joke before?”

”Quiet. Why are you here this time? You either want to save the city or you want to save Maxwell. Either way, I can’t help you.”

”It’s the city. I like these guys. They make these sounds like ‘squee-donk’ and their eyes always look like they’re scared of something.”

Kracht sighed. ”Yes, yes, your motives are impeccable as always, Jen. But really, the city’s falling out of the sky. I’m not a miracle worker.”

”Will the cathedral work?”

”Mostly. Acceptable losses, you know. But with their city destroyed and their rivals eliminated, the new mayor-for-life Phakkum Ohl leads them to famine and ruin. 90% of the population is dead within thirty years.”

Jen started and almost lost her grip on the streetlight. “Fuck, we aren’t going to be here for thirty years, are we?”

Kracht laughed, a strange metallic sound. “No, of course not. But I’ve followed up. Infinity is a long time to travel. I usually even stumble into your kingdom. Inform your citizens of the circumstances of your death, all that.”

A quake shook the cities, knocking Jen to one knee. “You’re a bastard sometimes, you know that, Kracht?” she shouted over the sound of imploding gravity.

”I’m everything sometimes!” Kracht rushed forward and steadied Jen’s arm, helping her back to her feet. “I’ve tried being nice! Most of you end up hating me anyway!”

Everything settled down. Jen caught her breath, then looked in Kracht’s eyes. A sudden feeling of nausea washed over her; she caught her breath again. “You’re radioactive, right? Hedgehog’s dilemma, twenty-first century style.”

”The twenty-first century is always hard, yeah.”

”Kracht,” Jen said slowly, measuring her words. “There’s no reason you should be able to win this thing even one more time. The odds are stacked against you. Xadrez tells Arkal what can kill you, Arkal makes a sword with it, and I stab you through. Easy.”

”Well, Jen, it just hasn’t happened yet.”

Jen smiled. “Kracht, honey, I don’t want you to take this as a threat, but if you want this friendship of ours to work out, you’re gonna have to work for it. If Cyk’Nl can detach from Sk’Va, it can still stay in the air, right?”

”And if Cyk’Nl’s still up there, then after the Ovoid leaves the theocracy will collapse, war might end and it’s likely that humanitarian aid will be sent to the remnants of Sk’Va. I know the theory, but we can’t detach the cities in time. We have less than an hour. We’d either need to disable all the locks manually from underneath the cities, or contact the Ovoid.”

Jen chuckled. ”Well, shit, man, I didn’t know you had a plan already! Get on that! I’ll head for the cathedral, see if Arkal or Xadrez can think of a way to stall the descent.” She uneasily detached herself from the lamppost and stumbled off back towards the center of Sk’Va.

Kracht followed. “No, Jen. I’m coming with you to watch Maxwell die. You can’t stop me, and you can’t order me around, because you’re not the queen here. You’ll come to understand that eventu--”

”Shut the fuck up. How could you live forever and still be that thick? You’re green, Kracht. You are literally a green thing shaped like a man. You give off a green fucking aura. And what does that make you?”

Kracht was, for once, dumbfounded. “Green?”

”That makes you mine, you piece of--”

”Quiet! Your royal color is green?”

”Yeah. Life, abundance, youth, what else would it… It isn’t usually green?”

Kracht considered lying, but figured Jen would probably be able to tell. “It’s never been green.”

”Not once?”

”Zero times.”

Jen smiled. ”Well then! I’m off. Make your choice.”

She ran off, leaping a little higher with each step than might be considered normal. The fall was accelerating. Kracht stood where he was for a few relatively long seconds, then made his choice.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Arkal looked at the ruins of the cathedral and groaned. "What kind of idiot makes a heavily fortified building and then doesn't protect it from earthquakes?" he yelled in frustration. "At least this makes it easier to get some of this 'transtanium' stuff, though." He pocketed a few suitable-looking chunks of debris, largely oblivious to the panicking Sk'vans around him. His gathering was soon interrupted, however, as he heard Xadrez' voice echoing through his head.

what kind of idiot stops to pick up rocks when everything is falling apart

Arkal stopped and turned around. Xadrez was floating towards him. Maxwell looked relieved.

"Oh thank god it's Xadrez help me help me I don't want to die," he screamed, ignoring Sikarius' protests to at least beg for his life with dignity.

Xadrez stared at the boy for a moment, as if deliberating what to do. But whatever conclusion the spirit arrived at, it was soon interrupted by Jen's arrival. She wasted no time in giving orders.

"Right, good, you're both here... huh, guess the cathedral plan's out. Okay, here's what we're going to do. Kracht says this city's doomed, and even if we save it, its next mayor will doom it economically. I say we can stop that. I told Kracht to get working on some stuff, but who knows what he'll do. If we're lucky, he'll get the Ovoid helping us; if not, we're probably on our own. So we're going to assume we're on our own and get this mess fixed up. What's the plan, guys?"

Arkal was about to say something, but a brief wait from Xadrez convinced him to hold his tongue. The blacksmitch watched as Xadrez handed a chess piece to Jen. Arkal couldn't see which piece it was, but assumed it was a queen. Xadrez then spoke through the piece again, presumably to both of them at once.

if kracht says the city is doomed

then i feel it is definitely worthwhile to save it

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

Jen, as she was inclined to do in the face of surprising developments like a mute chess ghost making sweeping declarations through telepathy, just kinda rolled with it.

"Uh-huh. That's awesome, but we still need a way to buy Kracht some time without this city crashing."

Xadrez made an incoherent, but rather shirty reply asking how she was able to trust an anomalous rogue like Kracht. Jen rolled her eyes and stumbled as another tremor rippled through Sk'Va.

"Thanks, Arkal," mumbled Jen as the smith steadied her. "Anyway, Zac, things have changed, alright?"


"You tell me. You're the eminent tactical genius. Actually no, wait, don't," Jen amended, as a sickening crash indicated a spire had snapped off somewhere, "tell me how we're gonna stop this city's descent."

What do I care? They are all fools, sullying my noble sport with their feeble pantomimes

Give me a real war to analyse, I am tactician not a mechanic

"You are full of shit, you know that?"

Xadrez was too affronted to manage a reply.

"Seriously. I set you up for that general job because I knew you'd enjoy it. You could've played with Cyk'nl and Sk'va's armies for years, and don't give me any shit about that being below you, Zed. It would've been perfect if Kracht could've quit with the jerk routine for a round, but we're sorting that out."

"Xadrez, Jen." Arkal interrupted helpfully. Maxwell, not privy to the telepathic portion of this conversation, just looked confused.

"Thanks, Arkal. Actually, could you head down with Maxwell and help Kracht unlock the cities? We've got less than an hour now and unless I can talk some sense into this idiot it's the best plan we've got. You'll have to find an access shaft to get to the-"

-we could escape

The humans turned to the tactician, trying to figure if they'd heard right.

We are not spirited out of this world until one of us dies

The mayoress mentioned terrestrial trade

Thus, there are other nations on this planet we can reach them and leave Kracht to fall with Sk'va

I regrettably estimate that an explosion would not be sufficient to kill him, but in this case it works to our favour

As for the Ovoid, it is truly inexplicable but I doubt a savage descent can do it much harm


We flee and go our separate ways, each searching for a way home or to destroy the Observer

I am unsure of the range of my contact with my pieces

This idea... cooperation. Though I have observed the phenomena in great depth I have yet to apply it to my own battles

The ground shook again, this time with a sustained, deep rumble. Then there was a groan, and everything keeled over to one side slightly. Triangulating from the screams, it seemed part of Cyk'nl had snapped off completely. Xadrez, hovering, was the only one not visibly perturbed by this development. Instead, the tactician seemed to listen, then yanked out his knife from his shoulder and started slashing at the cobblestones until he hit (though really, with his improbable blade, it was more sliced through) a stormwater pipe.

Half a second later, the spirit rose back to its usual standing position holding a copper figure of Maxwell. He handed it silently to the boy, slashed a chunk of Arkal's hinge-shield off without comment, then continued as if nothing had happened. Arkal was staring in amazement at the knife; Maxwell looked shaken; and Jen was frowning slightly, thinking.

I suggest moving through the cities in teams to ensure nobody inadvertently expires

This is not a particular issue for me but for you

"Ok, you're great, Xadrez. We get it. Now name the teams so we can do this already."

Very well

Xadrez finished carving a rough, but much more personal image of Arkal from the metal. He swapped it with the smith's current one, and tossed the bishop aside.

Maxwell and Arkal, search Sk'va

The queen and I will cover Cyk'nl

Understand, it is of critical importance you do not die

If you encounter the anomaly do not divulge our plans

throw him off the trail

do the unexpected

If her majesty is correct, and we are beginning to deviate, it is imperative for our victory kracht is kept off our trail


Several street-jolting, gravitationally tenuous moments later, Jen and Xadrez had left the geometrical elegance of Sk'Va for the waltzing curves and arcs of Cyk'nl's architecture. The streets were littered with glass, hundreds of panes wrenched from their lofty roosts by the shaking.

The duo ducked into the ruined remains of a domestic residence as another platoon of crystal-bedecked reptiloids marched by. Jen hadn't had much to say to the tactician, but getting squashed up against his oversized board afforded her little better view than Xadrez's midriff, which at that point had his dagger jammed in it.

"That thing can cut through solid rock, Kracht is pissing you off something fierce, and you went after Maxwell?" she hissed. A Cyk'nlian soldier barked something outside, followed by the howl of some sort of energy cannon.

A being of his nature is something I have little data on

I deemed my usual tactics ineffectual against his

how to put it


"Do your usual tactics entail using your brain?" Xadrez didn't reply; he could concede he'd earnt that one. "Oh, and you've been dishonourably discharged from your position as General of the Armed Forces of the Place."

Jen could care less that Xadrez didn't see the latter as much of a punishment. Still, she was planning to ditch this 'tactician' as soon as possible.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Putting one hand on Xadrez' board helped for a bit, but after a few minutes and a few tremors she was relented to sitting up on the board's rim, which was uncomfortable to both. So it was that two of the biggest egos in Sk'Va crossed the border into Cyk'Nl squished up against each other's variably ethereal forms.

The architecture in Cyk'Nl was much more baroque and less to Jen's liking; large stone buttresses jutted out of the road to support enormous conical buildings that blocked out the sunlight. It also didn't help that everything was starting to buckle.
None of this is unimportant, explained Xadrez. In order to exert one's will over something or someplace you must first understand it completely

That includes the streets and the buildings

And that includes the people

And it would certainly help if I had any idea what
that was

Jen pushed off of Xadrez's board and approached the tan-clad clone standing in the middle of the road, Weo's scythe in hand, unperturbed by the shaking earth. Xadrez would point out later that the clone's feet were not precisely touching the ground.

Jen nodded cordially. The clone nodded back, somewhat awkwardly. Xadrez said nothing and did nothing.

Jen approached with some trepidation, sword raised. The clone opened his mouth to speak and noticed that his elbow was turning green. Instead of communicating in any helpful way, he shouted
"Gah!" and tried to swat the green away, dropping his scythe in the process.

It seemed futile. The green spread to cover most of the first half of his jumpsuit as Jen got closer, putting her sword away confidently.
"Citizen, I don't know whether I should tell you to get away or toOOOOOORK ow! Please distance yourself from this vessel or... vessel? I don't appreciate that. Or erasure will ensue."

Jen poked him in his forehead.

For a split second the clone's jumpsuit turned entirely green, and there was a sound that seemed to come from Elsewhere, but then the tan snapped back and propelled itself back into Jen, turning all her clothes (and her hair) a shining beige. Both Jen and the clone screamed and fell to the ground just as another, much stronger tremor hit the cities, snapping two nearby buttresses clean in half.

A white building began to topple towards Jen's prone form, and Xadrez momentarily considered throwing himself over her to protect her, then decided against it. The gamble paid off; within seconds the Ovoid revealed itself from behind another building, got between the falling structure and Jen and did something very large and very fast that made large segments of the building not be there anymore.

The Ovoid, resplendent in tan, bobbed in the air as the clone began to pick itself up off the ground. Xadrez checked to see the tan beginning to roll off of Jen like a liquid, then pulled out his knife. In one deft motion he carved a perfect ellipse into the ground, then leaned over and touched his hand to it forcefully.

No more enigmas, Xadrez told the Ovoid. What do you want

Meanwhile, Jen woke up from a four-dimensional dream, struggling to keep the shape of it in her head, but it was quickly fading. Also fading was the tan that had entered her clothing and her soul. She was beginning to breathe more easily. Jen looked at what appeared to her to be Xadrez bowing to the Ovoid, picked herself up, and was her old self again, except with a narrow, barely perceptible green stripe in her hair.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

RESERVED. Unless Schazer puts up something first, in which case, dirsregard.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Right, it's been a while since we saw anything happen here. Reserved.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

"Search Sk'va, he says," Arkal grumbled. "For what?" The smith absentmindedly stopped to pocket some of the more useful-looking rubble as he and Maxwell wandered the now-ruined city.

They'd planned to start their search by questioning fleeing citizens, but as it turned out, most were still running for the cathedral if they hadn't yet learned of its destruction. The Sk'vans who had escaped the cathedral were largely milling around outside it, desperately hoping for some kind of direction, save for a few who had simply run off in a panic.

"I guess they didn't expect the cathedral to collapse, so they never planned for it?" Maxwell offered helpfully. Sikarius hissed something at him; though Arkal couldn't understand it, he presumed the Bio Wyrm was chastising its host for stating the obvious.

"They probably had some plan. The cathedral wasn't supposed to be open, after all, and if there's one thing I know about politics, it's that the guys in charge always have some way to save their own skin. We just need to figure out where they kept it. Probably somewhere they could keep the rabble out of."

The smith suddenly felt a stirring on his shoulder.

"Oh, right! What with one thing or another, I forgot I was still lugging this guy around. Guess he's comin' too." Arkal carefully lifted the Sk'van guard off of his shoulder and placed him on the ground. "Maybe he knows somethin'."

"Ugh." The officer rubbed his head. "You! You're under arrest..."

His voice trailed off as he noticed the ruined buildings all around the city.

"What the hell did you do?" he asked Arkal accusingly.

"Look, the place is going to fall, and Ck'nyl with it. The cathedral's a wreck. As a police officer, you'd be part of the emergency response. Do you know what the plan is now?"

The officer looked at the smith nervously. "I... I don't know. We never expected the cathedral to..."

"Don't try to hide it!" Maxwell shouted, smacking the insectoid officer with a modified arm. "You're hiding something from us, aren't you?"

"Now, calm down," Arkal interrupted. "Maybe this is something only the really high-ranking officers are told about. This guy's, what, a sergeant? Probably still counts as 'rabble' as far as the rats looking to leave the sinking ship are concerned."

The officer wasn't amused.

"You know, if you guys are going to play 'good cop, bad cop', you might want to consider trying it on somebody who isn't a cop."

In response Maxwell smacked him again. Arkal pulled out his scrubot mace.

"If you'd like," the smith replied calmly, "we can play 'bad cop, worse cop' instead."

The officer weighed his options, sighed, and held up his upper limbs in defeat. "Okay, okay. You win, I'll tell you what I know, but it's not much."

"We're listening," Maxwell growled.

"I don't actually know what's there, but there are strict orders not to let anyone near the Museum of History during a disaster without explicit orders." The sergeant pointed in its general direction. "It's that way. Don't know why we're supposed to keep people away, but it's what they told me."

"Well, I guess it's a lead," Arkal shrugged. "Thanks for the help." He then punched the Sk'van in the head and slung him over his shoulder again.

"Why'd you do that?" Maxwell asked, as they started walking towards the museum.

"We might need to ask him questions again later. Hopefully it won't take him as long to wake up next time."


Kracht stood before the Museum of History. Around it, all the buildings were reduced to rubble from the quakes.

But this one alone had been reinforced. Every possible disaster that could have befallen it had been considered. Even the tremors that had destroyed the cathedral were no match for its walls.

"Either Sk'va places a high value on preserving records of its history," Kracht mused, "or the leadership has hidden something here that is of great value to them at a time like this. I wonder which it could be?" He laughed. "You don't need to have gone through this before to answer that question."

He wandered into the museum, taking a look at the exhibits. He hadn't had many opportunities to visit; even on his return trips, the museum had inevitably been looted by the time he arrived. Kracht knew it would be some time before Arkal and Maxwell (or possibly Arkal and Jen) arrived, assuming they even survived that long. For now, he had an opportunity to relax, and perhaps to learn some history that would prove relevant the next time he went through the battle.

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

does this hurt you asked Xadrez, as he picked up the little hemisphere of stone and raised it for inspection. His spectral fingers could feel the tan force pulsing intermittently beneath what was, at the same disconcerting time, solid rock.

I know you can hear me, entity

The real question is, do you care

Cyk'nl's ability to stay airborne was being tested with alarmingly increasing frequency, jolting Jen out of her dazed concentration. The clone was keeping a wary distance from her, conspicuous in that like the hovering tactician and Ovoid, the moment-to-moment discrepancies in the city's altitude weren't bothering him any.

Xadrez narrowed his blank eyes, looked from bobbing othermatter to the tan lump in his hand, tentatively pressed the latter upon his chessboard, and finally tossed it at the Ovoid.

For a couple of seconds, nothing happened save for a few buildings collapsing further up the street. Then there was a brief, awful scream as Xadrez' ghostly form spasmed painfully, jittering from misty to solid to blue to beige. For all a mildly disconcerted Jen and Troubleshooter knew, they were watching the observable portion of a hyperdimensional wrestling match. The clone was just kind of taking in everything with the horrified amazement that came with observing something like the Ovoid.

Then again, thought Jen as she looked to the tactician with some concern, Xadrez seemed to be having a rough time of it. Every split second his form vacillated to Ovoid, that strange dagger was slipping down under its own weight. It didn't take much time for it to jolt and quiver down from the spirit's shoulder, until it finally hit the obsidian chessboard and clattered to a halt, hilt-deep, in the cobblestones beneath him. Jen nipped in with her usual agility, and yanked it from the ground. She then realised even if this thing couldn't draw blood, it could probably tear down civilisations, so it was accorded a bit of respect. A quick glance up confirmed the two strange ones were duking it out Somewhere, and judging by the terrified expression on Xadrez' expressionless face it wasn't comforting terrain.

Jeniffer wasn't sure how exactly to help her ally, so just got out of the way for the time being. The clone seemed unwilling to get anywhere near her after their last altercation, so Jen just cut down a door and sheltered in its doorway. The interior was already kind of wrecked, and Jen kind of doubted that she was much safer here. Oh well.

Jen raised the nondescript dagger to the dust-choked light, idly wishing this weapon was a better conversant than her last one. I mean, sure, it certainly wasn't much to look at, but -

Nope, it wasn't the bomber craft winging their way overhead, the knife was definitely humming. Curious, Jen raised the flat of it to her ear, and heard the lowest murmur, swift and desperate:

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

The Ovoid hung motionless before the flickering strategist. Xadrez's incorporeal body spasmed, swaths of tan sweeping through him, occasionally releasing a haunting moan.

It was not a battle; Xadrez, the intractable genius, was hideously outmatched as countless appendages erupted inside of him, attacking from a direction he could not point to.

The discarded chunk of throbbing tan slowly drifted back towards Xadrez, and lodged itself in his spectral skull. His chess table was enveloped in tan.

Images flooded his mind; red fire, racing through a monstrous dreamscape of colors and patterns. Strange bubbles of nothingness, resting in a current of static. Strange lumps, protruding from other bubbles, which were tinged with... sentience, and light. They were struck by the red lightening, and Xadrez saw... faces, a sense of sentience, traversing the red fire in that brief moment. He saw a vast structure of shifting hues, whose edges were tinged with tan. He could not grasp its shape entirely, but he could see a small portion of it lodged in one of the bubbles of nothingness.

The red lightening stroked the structure's surface, sending shivers throughout its many disjointed parts. One tendril of red seemed to catch Xadrez's attention. He followed it as it navigated its way across vast distances, traversed in seconds, and through shapes which defied logic. He found himself following it towards the section of the structure which intersected one of the bubbles, watching as it streaked towards the intersection, observed as it burst through the bubble's surface. He saw the bubble from a perspective he never knew existed; every event throughout its causal history, past and future. He saw inside every object, every living being, including himself. He saw every decision he'd ever made, and every decision he'd ever make while in that bubble. He saw how he functioned, what kept him alive, and pieces of the tan-tinged structure inside him, controlling his movements, his thoughts...

The red lightening reached the amorphous tan, and fractured inside his mind. Alien thoughts invaded his psyche. References to a silver hand, a series of multiversal battles, and a network were gleaned from the random, spasmatic images.

The amorphous tan retreated from his body, and his link with the space beyond space was severed. The images, though, remained.

Without warning, the Ovoid dropped through the surface of the crumbling Cyk'Nl. The clone followed, obviously against his will, and as surprised with this turn of events as anyone. Before long the two had disappeared into the bowels of the floating city, leaving the ancient tactician alone with his thoughts.

He sat there for several minutes as the shock of the psychic onslaught retreated from his mind.
there are other battles he realized, other contestants and they are trying to escape

He turned, to see Jen cowering in her alcove. and our only way of reaching them is through a cosmically unstable entity
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Jen had the feeling that Xadrez was using the royal “our” here, as the spirit promptly turned back away from Jen and began to work, scrawling what appeared to be a complex mixture of 6-dimensional calculus and freeform poetry into a wall that still appeared stable.

Things were bad in Cyk’Nl, now; everything was starting to buckle inward. Jen rose to her feet unsteadily and was immediately knocked back down by another tremor. “Alright, fuck this,” she groaned in synch with the rumbling of the atmosphere. As soon as the ground settled down enough to walk on, Jen thought green, sprang upwards and leapt towards Xadrez, snatching the knife out of his long-fingered hand and scurrying away apologetically.

Xadrez, focusing intently on the Ovoid problem, was angry in more of an academic than an emotional sense.
Return that, he intoned, making no attempt to follow her.

“Patience, Rezzy-poo,” snapped Jen. “Metaphysics can wait, I need to take a minute to save my own skin.” With the ease of a skilled calligrapher, the girl began to carve an elaborate sigil into the ground, something resembling the Great Wave Off Kanagawa crashing over a beach made of tacky carpet. The tremor slowed, as though the laws of spacetime had to take a second out of its schedule to check out whatever was going on.

Jen began to speak. “Fireflies. Effervescence. White. Bubbles. Green. Anorexia. Six. Four-fifths. Rome. Green. Newton. Delta sharp. Green. Quicksilver. You know I’m good for it. Green green, maybe cyan. Kepler and the paradox of the resolution that precedes the conflict. Celestial. Later. Later! 48 hours. One third of a bell should do it. Green. Farsight. Hi, I’m Jennifer, have we met? No. No. No. Yes. Green” Green


Light becomes unnecessary, photons take the day off, please, thank you, now: green we have Green confirm?

We have registered your complaint and are formulating a response. Pleasure doing business with you and we’ll see you soon, we hope. Flap flap.
I’m sorry

The green flash ends giving way to a personal sunrise accepting a Jencentric frame of reference, thanks to Einstein and Minkowsky. The tremors continue; Jen does not. Welcome to Cyk’Nl enjoy your stay, bitch. Please move along to the next register to receive your bill

Normalcy returned to Xadrez for a moment, although he had difficulty not focusing on the details: the sigil fading in ugly blues and reds; sunlight doing a jig on his knife as it is placed back in his hand; Jen’s smile, seeming to rise. Layered words: ‘Sorry about the magic. I’ll get out of your hair now, okay? You work on what happens next.’

And then the tactician’s perspective blessed perspective came back to him in a rush, the reds and blues and blacks mixing back into the greens to form the beautiful gray mush that was his understanding of the universe. He was also alone. Alone with the theorem, the grand proof, the next bit. Wait, he corrected himself, Not alone.

He switched the knife back over to his threatening hand and inscribed the message “OBSERVE THIS” into a blank spot on the wall. Privately, he expanded the sentiment, appropriating an irksome colloquialism for his own self-aggrandizing purposes: You ain’t observed nothing yet

This was going to be easier than he had first surmised. The solution to the Ovoid problem was becoming clear, and on the other side an answer to Kracht might be found. That left Final Jeopardy after the break; the category is Jennifer fucking Tull…

* * * * *

While gravity was doing its thing to the cities, gravity was doing some things, or to be more lucid, some things were being done to gravity. Xadrez was not the only being to receive a flood of information: for the Ovoid, a four-dimensional landscape was like pen on paper, and it was slowly beginning to decipher the language. Certain patterns were beginning to emerge.

* * * * *

Arkal almost died.

The massive, ritzy apartment complexes on the Lower East Side of Sk’Va were built one story at a time, then placed on a large frame resembling the CD rack of the gods. The classless nouveau riche of Sk’Va could have their entire apartments removed by crane to be demolished and replaced or else transplanted somewhere more convenient. This struck everyone as an extremely convenient system because it never occurred to anyone that local gravity would one day be scrambled to the extent that every single apartment in the neighborhood would float out of its place and hover in the air, creating the rather apocalyptic image of hundreds of well-furnished flying saucers occasionally smashing into each other above a city not an hour away from cracking in two.

Arkal, correctly surmising that it was safer in the air than on the ground (these concepts being completely relative in a formerly-floating city, of course), had alongside Maxwell ascended to this flying maze of upper-middle-class residence and was working his way across to where they were pretty sure they could get down to the museum of history. Inevitably the obvious risks associated with this situation turned out to be perfectly valid, and he fell. Also inevitably, for narrative purposes at least, he was rescued.

The source of intervention from anticlimax may, however, come as a surprise to the reader, unless the reader predicted an aging Sk’Van with a jetpack and compound aviator goggles. Upon dropping Arkal off on another roof, the insect removed his helmet and pantingly introduced himself as Bakrjjrz Fl’jgowdon, inventor, extranaut and philanderer by trade. Then he pulled out a gun.

“You’re one of the outsiders to whom the recent have been attributed to, hmm? Stay where you are.” Arkal, who was not completely adverse to taking orders but for some reason found them infuriating coming out of the mouth of a bug, leapt to one side, not sure what he expected to accomplish.

Bakrjjrz hit a button somewhere and a jet of smoke planted him right in front of Arkal’s face, into which he planted a hairy and unlovable foot. “Answer the question, now, we’ve no time to waste.”

“Yes, yes,” grumbled Arkal, “I’m an outsider, you can see that, and I came with a group of six. But I have no idea what caused the fall, and I’m working to prevent it or to save myself at the very least. Where’s the boy?”

“I’ll ask the questions. You’re headed for the museum, right? What do you know about the UP program?”

“Nothing. I know that there’s a museum and that’s where I’m headed, and it would help me greatly if you told me what was there.”

“UP: Ultimate Pioneership. We—my contemporaries and I—and I suppose those of whom I am myself a contemporary—we’ve been warning them about the possibility of a scripturally non-canon city falling scenario for decades. The only solution was to remove gravity from the equation. Send the entire city into space.” Bakrjjrz pointed UPward dramatically.

“Among the stars? That’s madness. By my understanding of the makeup of forces you’d need to reach the moons and then multiply your velocity yet again by a factor of… of one and forty-one hundredths…” Arkal began sketching diagrams in the air fruitlessly, and then shook them away.

“We have the power, we have the engine, it’s in the museum, that’s not the issue. The issue is expanding the atmospheric correction systems to accommodate living in a vacuum, and integrating fully artificial gravity. Plus dealing with the things that are out there. The UP program was dropped and me and my contemporaries discredited… plus, I suppose, some reputational damage to some thinkers of repute of whom I myself may be considered a contemporary. While the engine could, with some modification, be used to—”

Mere minutes ago, when Arkal almost died, he was not terribly perturbed, for the average man may almost die a thousand times without actually dying or even being badly harmed. Arkal himself had nearly died several times in the past couple days. For Bakrjjrz Fl’jgowdon, however, this was not one of these days. The freakish appendage that passed through all of his vital organs was only almost killing him for about zero point zero six seconds before it had actually killed him.

The shoulder connected to the appendage shrugged meekly as its owner saw the look of rage on Arkal’s face.
”Sorry,” said Maxwell. ”Was he a friend of yours?”

* * * * *

Kracht studied the diagrams around the room and perused the giant engine inside the velvet rope. Though dormant, it looked more functional than anything else that might be holding up this city. The rare moment of unfamiliarity brought a smile to Kracht’s inorganic lips; he had never heard anything about Sk’Va’s space program, and here it was summarized in a handful of bullet points on a museum wall. He’d need to look into this later.

But first there was the issue of the room at the end of the hall upon which were inscribed in small letters the words “First Contact.”

It looked like Sk’Va had tried very hard to forget whatever was behind that door, but couldn’t bring themselves to dispose of it entirely. Kracht opened the door.

The room was small and cramped. In front of the dark pod that dominated the room was a large book full of photos. Dead insectoid bodies littering the streets. A bug with an inhuman fire in its eyes and a proboscis shaped liked a hawk’s talon. A city on fire.

On the inside back cover of the book was a button. Kracht pressed it, of course.

A light went on inside the pod. Inside, frozen and resting in a tank of formaldehyde but probably still far from dead, was a Bio Wyrm.

* * * * *

Sikarius had shut up for once; Maxwell was producing enough spite and pettiness for the two of them at the moment. It also didn’t help that Arkal had just punched him onto the roof of the floating apartment for no greater crime than squashing the bug with the gun and the jetpack.

“What the hell?” Maxwell screeched, sending an arm to snake around Arkal’s ankle and knock him to the ground as well.

”Reckless indiscriminate murder is what,” shouted Arkal over the ringing in his ears. ”You’re lucky I was specifically instructed not to kill you.”

”Yeah, well I was told not to kill you, too,” laughed Maxwell. “By a sixteen-year-old fucking girl!” Both he and Arkal rose and tackled each other. “Seriously, what the hell is with you people thinking you can just move me around like a piece on a chessboard? …Well okay, with Xadrez it makes sense. But not Jen and definitely not you! What are you from the—ow!--the past or something?”

A couple of silently traded blows later, Maxwell found himself looking over the side onto a ground below that shimmered like a 3-D movie when you’re not wearing the glasses. He warped himself painfully and did an elegant-looking flip into the inside of the apartment. Arkal made no immediate attempt to follow, and Maxwell plopped himself into a four-arm armchair, exhausted and reeling from a cocktail of mentally compromising emotions.

“I’m serious, Arkal!” he shouted towards the window. “I’ve been doing this on my own for a long time! I don’t… I can’t bring myself to give a shit about saving the town or escaping the battle or whatever the hell. I just want to move on.”

Arkal poked his head out over the roof and looked through the window.
”You know it’s not as simple as that, Maxwell.” With the grace of the gorilla he threw himself into the room and stood hulking against the low ceiling. ”For one thing, we’re all bonded together, by fate, the Observer, Xadrez’s plan, whatever it is that’s keeping us here, it’s working. For another, it doesn’t take a young man’s vision to know that your eyes are green, in more ways than one if you catch my drift, lad.”

Maxwell threw his hands up. “Oh, come on, I expect this from Kracht, not from you. Yes, I have a little crush on a little girl, okay? It happens. It’s happened before, and it’s a mental situation I know how to handle without following her to my fucking death, huh? Come on, you were a teenage boy once, you know how it is.

”I was a teenage man, lad. I fought for what I wanted, and I got it. You’re still just a whelp. Running from responsibilities. If I were more easily disgusted I’d have bashed your head in already on mere principle.”

”Well I’m sorry you’re—“

At that moment the apartment slammed pretty hard into another apartment and began to fall, creating a repeat of the events of the last couple hours in microcosm. Arkal shouted some indistinct curse and went back to the window, crawling back onto the roof. Maxwell chased after the smith but lost sight of him as a slightly slushy pool of water that might have been a reverse Jacuzzi fell onto his chest.

There was more pain, and darkness, and then what appeared to be the lighting of a very large match. The flame illuminated Arkal’s face, covered by large goggles and a helmet, hand outstretched.
”Hold on, lad. The rest of our journey is going to be a mite quicker.”

Maxwell grabbed the beefy hand, which pulled him up onto Arkal’s uncomfortably hairy chest. The jetpack flame intensified and launched them both out of the sinking apartment into the open sky.

* * * * *

From inside the greenshift, Jen ran on dust particles over the clouds of Cyk’Nl to a cathedral that was oddly similar to Sk’Va’s, except more pure, more primal. The stone and steel walls were framed by what appeared to be bone, and everything had a worn look about it. Also different from Sk’Va were the eight hooded reptiles joined in a prayer circle around an altar. Jen, who tended to be drawn to strong will in this state, found herself landing right atop the altar.

Reptile #1 looked up impatiently. “Do you represent the Inscriber?” Reptiles 2 through 7 made the symbol of the oval with long, dangerous-looking claws.

“I, uh… no. I represent me. I’m here to… I don’t know it’s hard for me to concentrate when I’m like this. I’m just taking a walk.”

“We are all taking a walk,” said Reptile #2.

“The will of the Inscriber has been made known,” added Reptile #3.

Reptile #4 added the Works Cited section: “’The noble vertebrates and the hated enemies alike shall be locked together in one final dance, boogying down toward heaven.’”

Jen shook her head slowly. “We can stop it still. I’m convinced? Everything’s tingling.”

Reptile #5 hissed. “There is no stopping that which has been written.”

“And we are well equipped to rejoin the city in Heaven,” pointed out Reptile #6 helpfully.

“Air. Gravity. All has been accounted for. The Inscriber will be pleased,” concluded Reptile #7.

“No no no no no” gasped Jen, watching her hand fade in and out of visibility with a curious mix of pain and pleasure. “We’re not going to heaven we’re going to the… to the ground. Earth. Place. No not the Place. An unplace.”

Reptile #1 (or maybe there were 9) pointed out something about transubstantiation that Jen didn’t hear but rather tasted. A moment of clarity ensued; the kind of clarity that supercedes consciousness.

The warm-blooded girl lowered herself down on the altar as though carried by the leathery wing of a Pterangel. The priests bowed in unison; the sacrifice had delivered herself to slaughter, as written. The Inscriber would be pleased.

Reptile #6 stepped forward and produced a small, golden axe. The curve of the blade was perfect, like the arc of the sun rising over the cloudline.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

“Oh. You are beautiful.” Kracht laid his hand on the glass container, letting his shadow cast over the frozen creature. “If I had only known sooner. The things you could of done.” Kracht glanced round the small, bleak room, a table with locked surface, no doubt some controls for this prison. Kracht was never really one to use violence as it was generally never needed, but he figured now was a good time of any to make an exception. He brought his indestructible fist and smashed through the metal pane effortlessly, ripping it out and tossing it aside like tin foil. “Now then. Do I dare bring such a foreign into play?” He said as he hovered over two separate release mechanisms for the Bio Wyrm. “Well, you wouldn’t do much good on your own now would you?” Kracht asked the parasite, knowing it wouldn’t respond. “Let us get you a ‘suitable’ host.”

Now it goes without saying that a Sk’vian jetpack is not created with humans in mind, especially two of them, one being of very large girth and the other a technical monstrosity. As such, Arkal’s flight pattern was clumsy at best and suicidal at worst. “He’s going to kill all three of us!” Sik hissed from inside of Maxwell’s mind, “Tell him to stop this instant!”, Maxwell was inclined to agree, as he was becoming a violent shade of green from such vicious movement, “Arkal! For fuck sake, stop!”
“You would rather have me drop you? Just shut up, I’m trying my best!” I could be forgiven as Arkal had never so much seen a jetpack before, let alone operate one. Still, the controls seemed ergonomic enough and the Blacksmith guided the machine towards the museum.

Then something very bad happened. The roaring heat that was behind Arkal spluttered and died. “Oh SHIIII-“ Both exclaimed in unison, as gravity once again obtained it’s grasp on the two contestants. In the brief 12 seconds of freefall, both Maxwell and Arkal went through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance instantly, except for Sikarius, who stubbornly stayed in a dumbfounded state of denial the entire way.

Before the pair could land into the cold, unforgiving roads of Sk’va, orbs of tan surrounded them like a duvet, dissipating them out of reality of but a tiny moment. Mercifully, there stay inside the Ovoid’s plane of existence was but the tiniest fraction of a second, as Both Maxwell and Arkal seemed to lose all of there initial inertia and be in completely separate places.

Arkal found himself in the ruins of another buiding, completely bemused as to what had happened. He adjusted his focus to the architecture, which was different to what he was seeing earlier. “Must be Cyk’nl”, he growled to himself, annoyed at getting so close to his target then whisked away by some entity he barely knows about. His focus then jarringly switched, as if magnetised by something, to an open roofed cathedral below. He squinted as he noticed the telltale green scarf of Jen, Arkal sighed loudly, “Guess I got to save your girlfriend now.”

Maxwell meanwhile found himself unceremoniously dumped right above Xadrez, something the tactician didn’t appreciate at all, as he drew his knife and jammed it into Maxwell’s stomach a couple of times. “Gah, jeez what?” Maxwell clumsily rolled off to the side, winded from the blunt blades vigorous thrusts into his liver. Xadrez, now content that it was just Maxwell, placed the blade back into his chest, after that…’episode’ with the Ovoid, Xadrez felt a little on edge. Understandable really, considering what he saw in that…thing. “Come. We don’t have much time.” The ghostly tactician floated off without another word.

“No time foe what? How did I get here? Would someone please tell me what is going on!?” Maxwell was left alone in the ruined building. “Now do you see what happens when you don’t follow my orders, boy?” Maxwell rolled his eyes in defeat and ran to catch up the floating chessboard.

Meanwhile, The Ovoid hovers above both plummeting cities. Waiting.
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 cyber95.

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

Arkal jumped down, landing on one of the hooded reptiles. The others were taken aback - this had almost certainly not been written.

"Continue the ceremony!" Reptile #1 shouted at the axe-wielder, but it was too late - Arkal had tackled #6 and claimed his axe.

"Shoddy craftsmanship," the smith commented, looking over the golden weapon critically. "And made of gold, too! That stuff's too soft for decent weaponry. Who's the incompetent smith who made this thing?"

Arkal readied himself to cut through Jen's bonds with the axe, but he was surprised to find there weren't any bonds. One of the lizards tried to attack from behind, but Arkal simply tossed him aside and picked up Jen. He shoved the axe in his belt, thinking the gold might see some minor use in a more practical weapon.

"The inscriber will not be pleased," Reptile #1 said. "Put the sacrifice down or... ack!" He was unable to finish his sentence, due to Arkal picking him up and smashing him against Reptile #2.

"Did they drug her or something?" Arkal muttered. "She seems pretty out of it." He absentmindedly grabbed his hammer and smashed the skull of #4 as he charged the smith. "And you guys really ought to learn a thing or two about fighting! Honestly."

Jen babbled something about grasshoppers and lilypads and limes. Arkal wondered what they knocked her out with if it was making her hallucinate like that.

He simply glared at the last two lizards, or was it three? Didn't matter. They'd learned from the mistakes of their fellows, and ran. Arkal swung open the cathedral doors, and decided to start looking for Xadrez. He looked at the chess piece the god had given him, in hopes that it might offer a clue. But the transtanium carving didn't react at all; with no real direction, Arkal shrugged, and simply headed off down the street.

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


Our heroine, in a mystically addled state, finds herself dreaming a memory of her past. That dreams don’t actually work this way except to provide exposition in movies, we shall ignore or else nebulously attribute to maaaaaaaaagiiiiiiiiiiic.

Jen woke up between the purple sheets in her pink room in her white house on a gray road on a blue planet. She opened her brown eyes and saw white cobblestones and then closed her brown eyes and opened her brown eyes and saw the purple sheets and the pink wallpaper and then she was putting on her blue shoes and then eating brown cereal and then taking her black backpack on a yellow bus to her red school. Her desk was gray with little purple speckles and the more she watched the speckles they started to spin around in tiny little orbits like the stars and then a bell rang and Jen was fully awake.

In walked Carl wearing a grey t-shirt and black shorts and those little brown glasses that always looked too small for his face. He’d had a haircut and it looked awful and Jen commented on this and Carl didn’t make much of a response. Carl, who was much too smart for his own good, had spent much of elementary school acting like an adult and now moving into young adulthood seemed unmotivated to stop acting like a child. He settled down in his seat with all the entitlement of a newborn baby who thought he was a lawyer and then looked around nervously like a lawyer who was trying to hide the fact that he was secretly a newborn baby. The young Jen was, of course, in love with him, though she couldn’t tell you why if you were perceptive enough to ask her.

In walked Rodney and Abe and they struck up a conversation with Carlyle about Star Wars or something to that effect and Jen got that feeling that she gets that usually goes away when she draws a picture of a tortoise with a handlebar mustache and she drew a picture of a tortoise with a handlebar mustache and in walked Kara.

In walked Kara on green boots and in came Kara’s prematurely developed boobs all there under her green blouse and she’d had a haircut and it looked beautiful and had a stripe running through it that was green. She was Jen’s best friend and Jen hated her and if you were perceptive enough to ask you why she could tell you but she wouldn’t. She definitely wouldn’t tell anyone that she was green with envy, not least because nobody actually says that anymore.

Jen reached up and touched her hair and the part with the green stripe burned her a little and someone told her to rest so she did and Jen reached up and pulled her hair so she wouldn’t end up feeling that feeling that she gets that usually goes away when she stabs her pencil through the handlebar mustache of the tortoise she just drew. About a month ago Kara had seen Jen drawing a tortoise with a handlebar mustache so she drew a tortoise with a handlebar mustache without even looking at it and she saw Jen looking down at her drawing and she apologized and ripped it in half and told Jen that she wasn’t even thinking and Jen told her it was fine. The drawing had been perfect, of course.

In walked Kara and she said hey to Jen and also said hey to Carl and tousled Carl’s hair in that familiar way and for about a third of a second Carl made a face like he was on fire and then he smiled. Carl rarely smiled. Jen smiled too, anticipating that something would be worth smiling about later.

That was the day, thought Jen as she began to phase out of the greenshift, when Kara gave her that beaten-up copy of Carrie and Jen read it and dreamt about burning the whole town down, and figured that Kara would get to do that first as well.

The green was still slowing things down. Jen lifted herself out of Arkal’s grasp and sprang away without any real need to fall down, and Arkal noticed only in the course of seconds, swiveling his head beard-first in her direction.

“I’m sorry about that,” said Jen at what seemed to her to be a normal speed. “The farther away from… I didn’t think the side effects of the spell I cast would be that strong. I’m okay now but neither of us will be able to walk here much longer.”



“Greenshifting was the first magic I learned. It lets me get outside of anywhere.” Kara laughed dryly. “I was a whiny little kid.”


laughed also. His laugh was more genuine than hers.

”You are a whiny little kid,”

he said.

”Lead me astray, lass, and I’ll forge a piss-pot out of your skull.”

”Its like the priest said. They have a life support system in place so we can shoot the cities into space or inside the Ovoid or whatever. All their infrastructure seems to be based on faith—just look at these buildings—so it should be a matter of believing that we’re already—yeah, see?” She pointed to the building they were already at. “Now we just believe that there’s a button inside that’ll stop the quakes and turn on air and fix everything in both cities until they crash and we all die.”


Got around to telling Jen that there was an engine in Sk’Va designed to shoot the city into space.
“Oh, well then,” said Jen impatiently. “We’ll have to hope for Maxwell or Kracht to solve that part of the issue. In the meantime let’s do our bit. Do you believe in solutions?”

”After these last few days,”

groaned Arkal,

”I think I’m beginning to convert to the church of insurmountable problems.”

Jen grimaced. “Well then, whatever’s through this door is your fault. You ready?”

”Born ready.” Arkal

pushed open

the door

and it seemed

to Jen



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

Xadrez was starting to, quite frankly, piss Maxwell off. Other than the occasional query, he was completely engrossed in his work, and it was taking all the boy's patience to not vocalise Sikarius' plethora of insults - at least not loud enough for the tactician to hear. The... unfairness of the fact that the floating spirit could hover blissfully along, absorbed in the dance of rubble and carvings over his chessboard, while Maxwell was grabbing on for grim life at the collapsing city's every provocation. A jagged crack yawned open by the boy's feet, prompting him to take his next comparitively stable moment to yell:

"Xadrez, can you move any slower!?"

The trembling of the figure in Maxwell's pocket was barely perceptible compared to the pervading quakes, but he head the tactician's absent reply nonetheless, despite being muffled by cotton.


The spirit finally glanced up, his connection with the boy humming with mild irritation. It might've been the uncomfortable acknowledgement that this implacable chessmaster wouldn't have any problem killing him if it came down to that, but Maxwell was tired of being everyone's tool. The worm protruding from between his shoulder blades included.

"We're going to the museum, right? Do you even have a plan?"

Xadrez made no response, simply took a glance around and traced several polygons on his board. Maxwell swore and marched up to the tactician, or at least lurched over and tried to make it look like he was angrily slamming his hands on the disc instead of grabbing it for stability.

"I'm sick of this," he hissed. "I don't want to save this town. I don't want to be a hero. I'm sick of all three of you and your stupid schemes and this stupid fight and if it wasn't for Kracht saying I'd die I'd get on with it and kill one of you."

Xadrez pulled out the knife, noted Maxwell didn't flinch, and prodded his forehead with it.

And you think I feel any different

I find this tiresome, not only this battle kracht and this city of fools

However, it is neither the former nor the latter that irks me most

The anomaly twists me if you'll excuse my egotism from the cosummate academic to some despicable researcher obsessed with a quantifiable victory in discovery where somehow I am not only my own experiment but I perversely relish such a position

And it was only to spite
him that I thought this town worth saving

He turned me to competition Kracht and the Observer both I loathe them for it and I look forward to besting them and returning to my unhurried studies

It is in the interests of that goal I untangle the riddle that is the ovoid and this network I appear to have entangled myself in

"I... what?"

Xadrez waved a dismissive hand. Honestly have you tried to think while a piece of your mind is jerked about relative time and semispace free of your volition and you know what never mind but answer me Maxwell

When Kracht says you will die this round

To what extent do you believe him

Maxwell wasn't even sure why he was taking it so personally, but he swatted the dagger aside and snapped,
"What kind of a question is that?"

A pertinent one

We've wasted enough time here and the museum is relevant, yes

"Apparently...?" Xadrez motioned for Maxwell to remove his own chess piece from his pocket.

Then odds are reasonable Kracht will be there

This network is

it keens a certain way and though I would trust statistics over something unquantifiable as instinct it

I think this is the change

the thing Kracht has never seen

The Ovoid's dimensions make no effort to pander to my senses and it is difficult so difficult to perceive yet

The ovoid simultaneously permeates, and is untouchable from, this domain but the nondiscrete state of its presence shifts imperceptibly around us, the agents foreign to this domain

I am one, and three I may locate on this plane by tracing my pieces

"And the last one is Kracht."

Xadrez nodded, and sheathed his humming knife before starting to move. Maxwell began to follow, then stopped and shook his head.

"Ok, that's great... but this just means I'm going with your stupid plans again."

Of course

I'm always in need of one or another of you to make a situation horrendously complicated for me

I had the impression you lot enjoyed it

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

As soon as Arkal opened the door, a huge serpentine beast flew out, its leathery wings flapping in the breeze. It nearly knocked the smith over, but Jen reacted quickly and caught him - with her slowed perception of time, it was simple.

"Ohitsjustadragon," she said, fast enough that Arkal could just barely make it out. "ForamomentIthoughtthismightbetrouble."

"Whatever. I don't suppose there's going to be a Make-Everything-Better button in there now?"

"Probablynot," Jen replied. "Butwejustneedtobelievekillingthisdragonwillfixit. "

"Well, that seems simple enough," Arkal said with a shrug of his shoulders. "Can we just, I don't know, believe in a weak point?"

"Nobecauseit'salreadybeenmade.Toocomplicatedtoexpl ain.Justkeepitbusy," she said, rapidly running towards the dragon as it prepared to swoop down at them. Confused by the sudden movement, it changed its trajectory to intercept Jen, but crashed into an unfortunate house instead. The collision left it buried under rubble, which it quickly shook off, but it seemed to have lost its prey..

"What's her hurry? Kids these days," Arkal grunted. He armed himself with the newly-made crossbow and aimed it at the dazed beast. The dart bounced right off its scales, but it drew the dragon's attention straight to the smith.

Its movements were still slow due to the crash, and to Jen, they were even slower. She could walk up the dragon's body almost as if it were standing still. In the few seconds it took the dragon to locate Arkal, Jen was already at the base of its neck, ready to decapitate it with her sword.

It might have worked, if several strange objects hadn't suddenly appeared out of nowhere, surrounding her on all sides. The impromptu enclosure started moving, dragging Jen somewhere she couldn't see.

"StupidOvoid", she grumbled.

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

The tactician, the boy, and his parasite respectively hovered, stumbled, and protested their way up the museum's steps, Xadrez warning Maxwell not to shut the door behind them.

Arm yourself, refrain from dying.

Maxwell begrudgingly complied, Sik's hisses of disapproval silenced when Xadrez motioned to the Bio-Wyrm with his dagger.

"What does that insufferable ghost expect me to do with that?"

You must strike Kracht first - did you really think I would hand you my will as a gesture of camarederie

Of all choices the odds of landing that critical first strike are best with Sikarius bearing the knife

The boy took the dagger, gingerly running its impossibly sharp edge along his own unsliceable blade-arm while Sikarius peered over his shoulder.
"How good's our chance?"

Twenty percent

With a conservative margin of error of up to thirty percent to account for unknown uncalculated factors

Sikarius told Xadrez where to stick his odds. Maxwell was silent, turning the dagger over and over before slashing off a strip of bloodied shirt
. "Sik, come here so I can tie this on."

Too surprised to immediately rebuke him, the Bio Wyrm craned around until the two stood face to savage fanged face. Xadrez had drifted aside to read the display on Sk'Va's UP program, but turned at the snickof Sikarius' teeth retracting.

He waited silently until Maxwell had secured the dagger and Sik had burrowed out of sight. Now, we must move

Sk'va's destruction will mask the knife, but doubtless Kracht is aware of our intrusion

That door

The tactician motioned to the ajar door in question, flicked his fingers in what might've been a salute, then directed Maxwell to hide out of sight from the doorway. As he flexed his bone-taloned fingers in preparation for scaling the wall, Maxwell cast a curious glance at the giant engine, which Xadrez had shown no interest in since his initial perusal.

"Xadrez, what was that thing?"

A hero's death, Maxwell.

Kracht sighed a little as the noise from the city rose in cracking, rumbling, dissonant volume, correctly assuming someone had to come and bother him just as he'd found something interesting. He opened the door to the Bio Wyrm's alcove, and would've scowled if stone were capable.

"I'm a little busy, Xadrez. In case you missed it, you're looking for that giant engine in the main room. Really, you don't have time to be chasing-"

Ignoring his patter, Xadrez tossed a bit of security camera at Kracht, who automatically caught it. What is that and why are you reluctant to show me

The mineral surreptitiously sprouted another arm in his back to hold the feebly stirring Bio Wyrm, flinging his now-free arms wide. Xadrez shifted a half pace back in convincing surprise, which Kracht confidently stepped forward into.

Kracht was three and a half steps away from leaving the room. He chuckled, shaking his lime green head a little. Xadrez glanced around the room in a mistrustful manner, drifting another step in reverse. Kracht followed.

"Oh, this iteration's going to be fun, I can tell. You're putting in a really sterling effort, Xadrez, right from the word go."
Kracht tried to peer around the tactician, who followed his glance and pretended to assume Kracht had guards posted in an ambush. The pair took another pace out of the alcove. "Who'd you bring with you this time? Arkal? Oooh, Jen maybe? That'd definitely make things interesting. Shame about Maxwell, the two would've finally had something in common."


did I always split them into two teams

did I always bring one here to Sk'va

Kracht took another step forward, as if to pat Xadrez consolingly on the shoulder. The tactician recoiled, judging another step and a half should do it.

"Well, not ever 'here', exactly," Kracht said, before hurriedly adding to quash the spirit's triumphant narrowing of the eyes, "but honestly, I was waiting for the variation this iteration seemed to have missed, and I could tell this would be the place. If only because that massive engine or whatever always shows up." Kracht took another pace forward, standing in the doorway, and jabbed in the direction of the gargantuan contraption with a green thumb.

Xadrez sighed, and drifted off as if to leave, dejected. Kracht still stood in the doorway, leaning against it a little with a smug air. The tacitician paused, the cadence of chance and logic making him dance within like the bullet in lonely circles, round and round and round, before pulling the trigger.

At least tell me

did Jen's Network fail

I had high hopes for that

Kracht shook his head, thinking on his feet.
"Hmm... I don't think it's made much difference, when I told you one way or the other. So no. It didn't work. Jen was devastated."

Xadrez nodded, murmuring something about Maxwell as he headed for the exit. "Oh, you want to take that route? Best hurry then, he won't have much longer."

You misheard me, liar

Kracht was very suddenly aware that the insistent whine that had been at the edge of his hearing was louder, and just to the left of his vision. He jumped out of the way, but Sikarius still cleaved off his entire shoulder in an elegant swoop. The severed limb fell to the ground with a clatter, Kracht scrambling up against a wall as the tactician advanced.

Return my knife, Maxwell

Kracht, you've lost control of this game

this is something new, something unprecedented, without your victory assured at the end

things are changing, Kracht, and I'll see to it you fall with Sk'Va

Kracht wasn't paying attention, much to Xadrez' annoyance. He wasn't even cradling the stump of his arm, like a normal humanoid in that situation would. He was cradling something, though, raising it in front of him. The tactician took a glance at Kracht, then to the disembodied hand, still clutching Xadrez' ersatz chess piece - and finally turned to Maxwell.

The boy was oddly still, head bowed, Sikarius' looming form also tensed and hunched. Without warning, his arms snapped at painful angles, the bones within lengthening as finger bones sharpened, lengthened, and tore through the skin as savage, inhuman talons. With a click, they hit the ground, and Maxwell lunged forward on all fours, Sikarius driving Xadrez back with his own knife, putting himself and Maxwell between the tactician and Kracht.

"Hm. It seems Sikarius is rather protective of his kin. Tell you what. Sik, go and find a nice host for this lovely Wyrm, would you? Our present company makes for a poor selection of, ah... accommodation." Kracht would've smirked if he were capable, but instead settled for waving cheerfully with his regrowing stump of an arm. He had to shout a little over the increasing pitch of the knife, but the mineral was thoroughly enjoying himself. "Do her a favour, and find someone who won't be around when Sk'Va comes crashing down in flames, all right? I can take good care of her - Xadrez here is harmless without that pretty dagger of his."

Sikarius hissed something unintelligible, jabbed at Xadrez a final time, then lurched off as a pair of cancerous wings unfolded from Maxwell's back. Kracht had already moulded a hollow in his chest, sealing up the Bio Wyrm. Making an especial effort to show his satisfaction on his stony face, Kracht grinned.

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

It was probably the greenshift that saved Jen from being completely engulfed in the Tan; still, she felt the spell cracking like so much tissue paper in the brief moment she spent within the place where the Ovoid is. That was the only thing she could feel or sense at all, except for a pervasive nauseating chaos and something that might have been an eye.

She tumbled out into the museum, banging her head rather sharply against the engine. Arkal didn’t follow.

Kracht clicked his tongue.
”It’s going to happen here,” he said cheerfully. ”Watch. Maxwell will come back with Arkal, and the Ovoid’s watching from out there somewhere, and then there will be six. I know the first round didn’t really get this across, but it’s always really beautiful when it all comes together.”

”Shut up.” Jen rubbed her head angrily. “Xadrez, he was right, wasn’t he? I can’t save the cities.”

Xadrez nodded somberly.
And with the cathedral destroyed, there will be no survivors

I’m sorry

”No you’re not.” She sighed. “I guess we have to kill someone pretty soon.”

I’m working on it

”We have about five minutes. And it looks like it’s going to be—“

That was when Maxwell and Arkal burst in, beating upon each other yet again. Maxwell’s eyes looked dim and the apathetic look on his face gave Jen a chill. Sikarius, on the other hand, looked more excited than he’d ever been, shouting psychic encouragement at Maxwell with an aura that sounded quite removed from his usual anger. Sikarius was… excited? It was bizarre and Jen couldn’t quite concentrate enough to make the connection to the Bio Wyrm sticking out of Kracht’s belly like some kind of xenogenetic umbilical cord.

Kracht stepped between the two combatants.
”Enough. Let’s settle this a little less mindlessly, shall—“

It might seem a bit obvious at this point in the fracas to say that a lot of things began happening at once, because a lot of things had already been happening at once for some time, but there is no better way to describe the exact moment in which the last engine fails and everyone goes into freefall while at the same moment a dragon teleports into the room, wearing beige reins and saddle and ridden by a terrified looking clone in a jumpsuit. So, basically, a lot of things began happening at once and then the dragon bit Jen’s arm off.

The dragon savored Jen’s arm for a few seconds then nommed on her head to get her to stop screaming, then worked in on the meaty bits, crushing her spine into a shape that was not quite close enough to the Dragon’s Bane sigil to have any effect.

”Oh,” said Kracht. The clone continued to scream curses at the entity that he was sure was watching the situation with great amusement. Xadrez grabbed onto the engine. Everyone else bounced off the ceiling and began to bounce around at awkward enough angles that they couldn’t see Jen die.

* * * * * *

The Observer put down his popcorn and raised his hand in the air.

* * * * * *

Xadrez felt himself being observed. It took him about .2 seconds to come to a decision, realize it was probably the wrong decision, realize that he was being emotionally manipulated by the radiation coming off of Kracht and then make the same decision anyway. He took advantage of the confusion to snatch his knife away from Sikarius, carved the word

into the wall and then stared angrily at the corner where he would have put a camera if he were the one observing.

* * * * * *

The Observer nodded, lowered his hand, and took a sip of his Sierra Mist. First Weo with the clones, now this. He would probably need to make a few new rules regulating this type of behavior.

Still, it was awesome. The Observer had no complaints.

* * * * * *

Sikarius saw the dead human lying on the floor and felt the boy wresting back control of his own body, possibly for the first time since puberty. Sik’s will was still the stronger: his fleeting hope of kinship would outweigh Maxwell’s grief for some time now.

The gamemaster and the rock exchanged a meaningful glance while the bearded man attempted to wrangle the lizard from midair. To his dismay, Sikarius didn’t see an immediate opportunity to kill anything; instead, just to be bothersome, he pointed Maxwell’s attention over to a button on the large mechanism in the middle of the room.

The engine started up, restoring some sense of gravity. Sik directed Maxwell’s body under him and splattered comfortably all over the floor. Everyone else sunk to the ground, except the dragon, which kept its wings flapping obnoxiously to stay in midair.

Sik was all set to begin killing things again—starting with the patronizing bearded nuisance—when he saw the other wyrm (the female!) being thrown through the air. She landed on top of Jen, and then sprang to life.

One of Sik’s sensitive middle organs sank. “Fine,” he thought to himself, though Maxwell probably heard it too. “I’m stuck with you, girl.” He felt sick.

* * * * *


Our heroine simply cannot remain conscious for long, can she, now? At the prodding of a new friend, a green lightbulb goes on in an empty room, and further dreams ensue:

It was a dark night in Toronto lit up by the beautiful whirlwind of flames that seemed to be taking the tenement building up into heaven like Elijah. Kara watched, and the orange light made her green hair appear a nearly perfect golden black.

Jen lay with her head on Carlyle’s ankles and enjoyed the peace of the fire and the sirens. It had been a long day, and a long five years.

“So,” she said. “How’s regular life been?”

Carlyle sat up and furrowed his brow. “Regular?”

“Hectic,” said Kara.

“’Hectic.’ I scoff at your hectic.” Jen reached out her hand and Kara grabbed it amiably, helping her up. “I should… go soon.”

Kara hugged Jen. “We have a whole summer vacation ahead of us,” she mewed, shoving her hair into Jen’s face. “You’re always welcome.”

“Seriously, Tull, come visit,” said Carlyle, averting eye contact. “There’s no use being a nomad if you don’t have a home to run away from.”

“Call me ‘Tull’ again and I’ll keep calling you ‘Carl,’ Carl.” Jen smiled, and pointed out across the park. “Anyway, my home is out there somewhere. …But maybe. If I’m in the neighborhood.”

“Be in the neighborhood!” Kara punched Jen in the shoulder with genuine frustration. Jen smelled smoke. Carlyle touched her shoulder and the smell dissipated.

A commanding voice boomed from a silhouette in the distance. “Friends! The bus departs on the hour! If we find ourselves tardy once again, Sub Zero has sworn to kill thy companions Abraham and Adelina! We must make haste!”

Carlyle turned back to Jen and shrugged. “Back to school again. You know we all envy you for getting out.”

Jen tried to smile and broke into tears, desperately hugging Carlyle.

“I love you guys,” she gasped out. “Both of you.” She counted to seven then addressed her other best friend, Fanthalion, who had been there the whole time. “And you know I love you most of all, Fanthalion.”

”Don’t worry, Jen,” said Fanthalion. ”I’m not going anywhere.”

Jen watched Kara and Carlyle depart, hand in hand, never once looking back over their shoulders. When they thought she wasn’t looking, they shared a quick kiss. “Sorry for making a scene,” she told Fanthalion. “It’s just… there are so many lives to live, you know? Sometimes I wish I could never have to choose.”

”I can do that for you, Jen,” said Fanthalion. ”That’s what friends do for each other. Dominance and submission.” She tied her hair back; Fanta was too tall for her own good, and always gave off an impression of glamour, dressed in red and white. She was the kind of friend you always wanted looking over your shoulder. ”Jen, before we leave, I have to ask you a few questions. You know the battle starts in two weeks, right?”

“Yeah. I get to meet them all.”

”In two weeks. That’s why we can’t have you being dead right now, okay?”

“I don’t—“ Jen wiped away a tear. “I don’t want to be dead. Really.”

”Of course not. And I want to help you, I really do. But with all this magic stuff you’ve gotten caught up in, it looks like someone’s scribbled over your DNA with fingerpaint.”

Jen laughed and sniffled. “Yeah I’m sorry. I’ve been hitting the spellbooks a little hard, haven’t I?”

”It’s okay Jen, you never have to tell me you’re sorry. I’m your best friend, right? I understand what you’re going through better than anyone.”

Jen hesitated. “…Yeah, of course, Fanta. Sorry, I’m just a little shaken.”

”Okay, then, we probably won’t be done until round three starts but we can get the bulk of you fixed up now. First things first: how many eyes are you supposed to have?”

* * * * *

So while the death was going on, Fanthalion burrowed into the girl and went to work. She had to move quickly: without the host up and active, there was no chance of feeding, and years in stasis had made the wyrm very, very hungry…
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

Sikarius, while deeply, deeply annoyed, couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. “The lineage has an exit, all is well.” With that Sikarius released is abnormally powerful grip on Maxwell, who simply dropped to his knees.” Oh god, oh god I am so sorry, I am so sorry.” He kept repeating other and other to the corpse (technically) of Jen, he knew fully what fate she would have, Maxwell prayed her will wouldn’t be completely consumed, although that may be a more peaceful way than struggling.

Arkal continued to wrestle with the Dragon; the clone simply screaming none stop had no control of the thing. “Would you just shut up for 2 seconds!? You’re not making this any easier!” The dragon smashed into a large stone pillar in an attempt to shake the Blacksmith off. Large stone fragments fly off in multiple directions, all missing contestants by tiny margins. Except for Maxwell. A large fragment of pillar had, rather unfortunately bisected the befuddled teenager, normally such an injury would be trivial for Maxwell’s condition, but this was different. Maxwell had been separated by Sikarius, which was now flapping round on the floor in massive amounts of pain.

Maxwell breathed erratically as the whole situation began to dawn on him. This was it, Kracht was right, he does die this round. After a few more erratic breaths, the dying Maxwell calms down and begins to go pale at an unnaturally fast pace. “You know what? I’m…I’m OK with this. It’s…alright. It’s…been. T-too long either…way. Heh he heh.” And with that the boy dies a second time, this time for good.

Sikarius was desperately clinging on for life too little avail, his life line was severed and he too would soon suffer the same fate as his previous host. “T-the Lineage! It mu-must be preserved! Take it! Please!” The Bio Wyrm pleaded as it slowly wriggled it’s way to Jen, who was now jutting wildly through bones being reconstructed. “My, My. You are an old one.” Fanthalion hissed at the dying parasite it rose above Jen’s body. “What is this lineage you speak of?” “An ancient knowledge…passed through generations, it…must be passed on before I go. Please! I beg of you!” If a Bio Wyrm was capable of laughter it would of gladly, “Alright relic. I’ll indulge you.” Sikarius opened his jaws weakly and a small barb protruded out, with it’s last ounce of strengh it lunged at the much younger, female and injected it. Fanthalion’s eyes widened as Milena’s worth of knowledge filled her mind. “This…this is…most useful! How did you acquire such information?”

Sikarius didn’t answer, it was too busy rolling itself in a coil, being uncharacteristically quiet. “The lineage is passed on….heh…all…is well.” The Bio Wyrm followed his host into death.

Everyone simply stared at the sight dumbfounded. A thick silence hung over them for what seemed like an eternity.

Kracht abandoned all pretense and simply laughed.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Two: Sk'va!]
Originally posted on MSPA by cyber95.

The world faded away from the contestants, surprising absolutely nobody. The Observer showed up in the nothingness everybody currently occupied, pulling his immobilization trick, mostly because he could.

"Wow! Nice job everybody! Two rounds, and already four deaths! I guess one of them didn't quite count. Anyways, I was looking through past timelines - I can do that - and I discovered something peculiar. You all know Kracht's thing. He's won over and over again. I wasn't aware of there being differences within the timelines, previously, though, so once you made that clear, I decided to go take a look. I particularly liked the one where Arkal went all cyberpunk last round."

Arkal had a noticably confused look on his face for a split second. The Observer continued.

"Anyways, while I was looking through these, I noticed one particular consistency. The locations. Sure, they might have varied a bit in style, or starting point, but apparently I stick to what I have in mind. Not any more! I'm switching out this round to use somewhere else. This is basically because I want to pick on Kracht. So yeah, enjoy this new exciting location, just for this timeline only!"

The Observer was then instantly replaced by the largest shark any of them had ever seen, the area they stood on became a large raft, and visible in every direction was water. Lots of water.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Three:!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

The shark immediately charged towards the raft; Arkal was ready for it first, quickly firing a crossbow bolt to strike it in the eye. It howled in pain, and started thrashing wildly; Arkal was forced to release the rope, to avoid being dragged in.

"Guess I'll have to make a new bolt sometime," he muttered, as a small wave of water washed across the raft. His thoughts were soon interrupted by Xadrez.

push Kracht into the water

his body is far too dense to float

hopefully this will cause the Observer to end the round and if not at least Kracht will no longer be a concern

Arkal eyed Kracht from a distance. The green man was standing close to the edge of the raft, and seemed disoriented for the moment, no doubt due to the unfamiliar setting.

But he couldn't do it. The aging blacksmith walked towards Xadrez to speak his mind.

"I can't stand him, either. But there's something you need to realize - Kracht is made of the best material I've ever seen. If I get my hands on that, I can create a masterpiece of a weapon - the best anyone has ever laid eyes on." Arkal turned back to take a look at the flailing shark, but continued. "And I can't do that if he's at the bottom of the ocean."

you also cannot do that if you are dead

we cannot count on receiving the Observer's charity in the next round

there may not be another opportunity like this

and Kracht will be very dangerous even without his foreknowledge

Arkal sighed, and ran towards Kracht's corner of the raft. "Fine. I guess it's worth a shot. But you'd better help me get some damned good materials later!"

of course

we will likely need your resourcefulness when we challenge the Observer

Arkal considered arguing this last point, but decided against it. He settled for muttering "you're crazy" under his breath.

Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Three:!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

oh man, reserve.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Re: The Grand Battle S2G1! [Round Three:!]
Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

It didn't fit at all. The Observer never checked the other timelines, and never had any intention to set a round specifically against him. He never cared enough before, so what caused this sudden concern? Kracht's impossibly bright mind couldn't even grasp this, as all in all he never had to bother thinking of past timelines. He tried to think of what usually happened.
Normally he would be on the arctic tundra of Armeties by now. Jen would complain a lot, the Ovoid would assign a polar bear as the clone's new mount, Arkal made icepicks to cross that one gap, and Xadrez tried to kill Kracht again. In the end, Jen got possessed by the snow spirits and Arkal was forced to kill her. Kracht knew the end results of this round had to be the same. Jen had to be dead, Arkal had to be sad.
He stood exactly where he stood when the Observer released the green man from his grip, peering motionlessly, not caring about the shark in the water. Water. Water? He quickly jumped aside, letting the heavy mace Arkal forged in Alpha Complex chip the raft's rightmost log in half. Kracht grabbed Jen by the arm and pressed her scarf to her mouth to stop her from protesting.

"Mfbblth, mffth! Crrrft!" Jen flapped her arms around in order to break Kracht's grip, but when hitting her hand on his hard skin was proven the futility of the attempt.
"How did you-"
"The Obvserver pulls this trick every time. He notices my clear advantage by knowing what's gonna happen so he always picks a different setting in round 3. If I prove that I can also work with a new situation, he usually drops the incentive and carries on with a regular schedule."
Kracht walked around on the raft, trying to find a way to face both Arkal and Xadrez at the same time. The latter wasn't particularly interested.
"You see, it's simple. I still know all of you. THe moment I saw that water I knew Xadrez was going to try and drown me. He would be too cowardly to do it himself though," and with those words Xadrez' supposed fist cramped together around its dagger, "so he'd send you to do it. It's actually a shame to see you in future rounds. So sad you always are responsible for Jen's death, and-" Kracht suddenly realised he let himself slip. Never before did he tell Arkal what was going to happen. "Wait, no, that wasn't... That was me, I think. Yes, me, definitely."
If he had any way to do so, Kracht would definitely have been sweating at this point, maybe feeling quite uneasy. Arkal lunged forward again as per command of Xadrez, while Kracht was "distracted". Kracht blocked the strike with his left hand while dangling Jen above the water with his other. "Xadrez, I'd think twice before doing that. One move, and I drop Jen. That shark down there is still pretty hungry and I don't know if the Observer is going o allow another chance for her. The round is over and you lose that one precious chance at prevailing over me." Xadrez' vision was focused on Kracht, as if it were a stare-off between old rivals, and in some sense it was. His eyes squinted as he motioned with his ethereal hand at Arkal to cancel the attack.

i'm through with you i swear you will once fall and it will be to my hands you anomalous ill piece of liar, you won't always keep the upper hand and i will make sure of that
Xadrez' rapid venting of frustrations translated to Arkal as a mild buzzing in his ears. He firmly closed his eyes and shook his head in order to shake it off, and it was gone the moment Xadrez noticed he lost control for a moment there.
Kracht's grip on Jennifer's mouth of course disappeared the moment he had to block the strike, and once she was fully aware what was going on she was suddenly hanging from a green hand into a sea with a shark in it.
"Kracht you son of a bitch, I own you! Put me down right away and don't you fucking dare pull one of those creepy villain stunts where you drop me in the water you are going to place me on the raft right now!"
When she noticed Kracht didn't exactly respond to her protest she redirected it at Arkal:
"Arkal dude if you leave me to die here I swear I am going to haunt you to shit if I come back. Get me down!"
The impasse on the raft seemed to last for a very, very long time. No one quite knew what to say, except Kracht but he already said it. Jen occasionally broke the tense silence with a quick "Um, helloooo?" but that didn't help the tension at all.

But then, a greyish brown blob began to bob up and down in the water, a slim tendril of it extending as deep as anyone could see. The Ovoid's tentacle began to pulse vivaciously in the water and an enormous amount of it simply vanished. The water level began to drop drastically with every stir of the Ovoid's arm, and the rebalancing of the level caused giant waves over the entire ocean. The raft heavily shook all over the place, somtimes barely keeping its passengers on board.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.