DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus

DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Drakenforge.

Dying. Death. The end of all things which are or ever will be. Keagan had never brooded much on the subject, being partially indestructible had its perks. But Jolene had a point, there needed to be discussion on what exactly was going on. While there was little to be gained, an attempt was at least a move in the right direction.

“Well, while I heard there are eight of us, I could only guess what most of us look like. I barely recognised you as is,” he said, raising his thumb to point at his left eye and getting dangerously close to poking it out, “That incident you heard about messed up my eye, so everyone to me left was just fog. You were the first I met, so far as I know. What did they look like?”

Jolene pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to contend with two patterns on thought, only one of which was focused on her current conversation while the other contended with her maniacal sprites.

“This is going to be vague but I'll mention the obvious ones first. Giant chubby robot, blue-ish human like thing, whatever he mentioned was some sort of ghost, I dunno, all I saw where some blurry scale buildings. There was a girl in dress-up with some sort of rabbit, and another girl, smaller and looking to be even younger than you do-” she caught herself and actually looked at Keagan's face closely, “-which is how old exactly?” From the tone of her voice, she was not actually looking forward to being dealt the information.

“I'm Sixteen”

Keagan watched as her face became distorted while a barrage of conflicting emotions racked her brain. She silently moved the words
“too young”, which went mostly unnoticed by Keagan, who was more interested in the fact the coffee shop was now at least 60% more Italian than he remembered it being. For one thing, he didn't remember steak dinners being on the menu, or the cloudy haze that was now the default texture for the carpeting and upholstery. It took Jolene a few more seconds before she too recognised it.

“This is familiar,” Keagan announced, “Right before I met you I saw a bank robbery, stopped the robber, only for the bank to not be anywhere in the vicinity. So would you say this is the work of that ghost or can we assume it is natural for coffee shops to turn into ethereal restaurants around here.”

She thought for a moment, distracted by something. This had become a running habit with her, so Keagan attempted to address it.

“So what exactly has you so distracted?”

She looked at him once more, a new emotion spread on her face. Keagan found it hard to read. Was she embarrassed? Ashamed? He felt there was something she was hiding. Thinking back, perhaps The Amazing had hit a nerve when he called her insane.

“The truth is, I-”

Suddenly Jolene sprang to her feet, reacting to some unknown source. She tried to grab Keagan as she dove to the floor, but her hand just brushed off of his sleeve as his eyes turned to the left towards the sound of people parking a par on the pavement. The next few moments seemed completely alien to him.

The sound of machine gun fire reverberated through the air as the bullets tore through glass and walls alike as the men casually destroyed the ghost diner with a vengeance. Keagan had enough time to yank his hat down over his eyes before the bullets began to pelt into his body. The uncomfortable heat from the recently fired bullets, along with the shrapnel left from flattening against his inhumanly resistant body made it feel like flaming ants were crawling over his body, occasionally biting him. He was not worried for himself, as he drew himself between the guns and Jolene in a way to prevent her getting caught in the crossfire. It was just instinct to put himself in harms way like that, he barely recognised he was doing it until the shooting stopped. Luckily, his power hadn't caused any bullets to bounce off of him and into her, so she was still mostly intact. Ethereal fragments of glass were stuck in her hair, though Keagan was still unable to see this.

He thumbed his hat up an inch, only revealing his faulty eye. With it's perception a bare minimal he could focus on one object at a time, which he was hoping would not be any of the guns that still had ammo. He stepped over the wrecked chairs and through the now non-existent window as the gangsters tried to make a getaway. One of them, celebrating too early and not yet processing the fact their bullets had failed to kill someone that stood in their destructive path, had an arm loop around his collarbone and yank him to the ground. Keagan dropped his knee onto his neck, trying to see just who had tried to kill him.

The boundaries of his foggy vision didn't allow for much. So he just kept him restrained while Jolene picked herself up. She jumped out after Keagan, gun in hand, but didn't point it in any particular direction. Instead, she looked past the gangsters and the young lad and instead watched a huge ball roll dangerously over small obstacles, picking them up as it went.

“Keagan,” She called out, trying to get him to open his good eye, “We have to go. Now.”

When Keagan did raise his hat to see where she was looking to, the ball had already changed direction. It was picking up speed as it hurtled in their direction. The gangsters that had made it to their car had stopped bickering about why they couldn't remember why they hadn't started driving yet like they knew they should have been and began watching the sphere in awe. Bits of wood, benches, bikes and even small cars had been assimilated into its enormous girth.

Keagan quickly jumped to his feet while Jolene picked a path for them to run, somehow having more of a knowledge of the new cities layout than she should. The gangsters didn't stand a chance though, as he heard their terrorized voices call out while the car was absorbed into the mass. They ducked into a gap between shops before it could chase them down too.

“I guess it's only fair I tell you while I have the chance,” She yelled behind her as she made her way down dark alleyways and side-streets with him in tow, “I have a power of my own, something that orange bugger never got to mention.”

“I'm not actually crazy, though I used to think so when it all started, and I wasn't the only one thinking I was either. I have... Others. Sort of like a doppleganger only they don't have eyes and only I can see them. I use them for recon since I seem to be able to communicate with them with my mind, and I have to say this place is crazy. Not just the cities either, its almost like someone is cutting and sewing different places together.”

He check back, unable to find any sign of the rampant ball of rubble and debris. Keagan wondered briefly just what these places were to begin with. A city full of zombies, another city were car jackings and idiotic driving were rampant and-

Wait. Hold on a quick second here.

“Did they see what this city was called?” He called after her.

She was quiet for a few seconds, but quickly called back.

“Liberty City. Why?”

Keagan knew he should know the connection. Why did that name sound familiar? He didn't know of any city called that. Perhaps he had heard about it in some sort of fiction, but he just couldn't connect how that was relevant. So he marked it down as a coincidence and ignored it for now.

Jolene stopped to take a look around the corner of the last alleyway they could find. She motioned that it was safe and they both stepped out onto the pavement.

A trashcan soon smashed into Keagan's bare face. It crumpled harmlessly, but was difficult to remove after imprinting his head into its form. Keagan glared into the eyes of the scruffy assailant that had dried to smash his skull. He was confused, pondering why Keagan hadn't taken the hit, fallen down, then got back up and started punching and kicking. He also wondered why a dreary looking woman was pointing a gun at him.

“Police,” She half-lied, “Beat it, punk.”

He seemed to take the hint, and kept travelling down the only path the street allowed. There were no alleys, side-streets or roads that were not the single one going on for what looked to be forever. Even the alleyway they had just left was vacant.

“So, do we go left or right now?” Keagan briefly wondered why there was a cold cooked turkey lying by his feet, presumably where the trashcan had just been.

“This is too much. I don't think I can deal with this anymore.” Jolene slumped against a wall, taking a mental and physical breather. “There aren't any Others on this street, I'm not sure how we even ended up here.”

Keagan watched as an entire street full of thugs continued in one same direction, to their right, beating each other around with pipes, chains and random objects. It almost looked comical, like something straight out of a videogame.

“You're a reckless fool, you know that Keagan?” He simply nodded an agreement.
“They told me about those armed bastards. I tried to get you to the floor, but I guess your power kinda stopped me. You're amazing though, I saw you get shot and you barely flinched. It was... almost cool, in a sense.”

Keagan wasn't proud of what he had done. It just happened that way, but Jolene seemed upset by the change of events. He couldn't tell that she felt outdone by a youngster like him, but he wouldn't have been able to do much even if he did.

“I'm not cool, and I'm not invincible. There aren't any “magic words”. I have no idea why I have my power or even how it works,” He stated, taking a seat next to her, “My eye was blinded by the intense light from the bomb, back home. Before that, my body stopped everything I couldn't see coming. If I closed my eyes when I fell over, I didn't get hurt. If I was holding an apple and peeling its skin, I could cut my finger. But bullets are a bit fast for me. But I've been shot, properly. It's not something I want to repeat.”

“In a way, my lack of depth perception and blurry left eye is a blessing. I can't see much that can hurt me now. I wasn't very good at being a superhero, but I think I, no we, can get by fine doing some regular hero stuff. Hah, we should form a team or something.”

Jolene was simply silent for a while. Keagan gave up trying to cheer her up and left her to her own devices. He almost didn't hear her mumble a reply when it finally came.


He recoiled after she had taken his joke seriously, but as he thought about it himself, the prospect of being a heroic duo (with powers) and not being intentional super-heroes was actually an interesting one.

“All right then, to whatever we eventually name ourselves,” He laughed as he struck his hand out for her to shake. She quickly shook it in turn, and for a moment (save for the wanton violence ravaging the lone street) everything was fine for the two Regular Heroes.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

"So where did you say that those other two went again?"

"After Exalda woke up and got briefed, they decided it would be best if they found their own way back to wherever they came from. I guess they are back at that mansion or something."

"Wouldn't they attract attention; it isn't everyday that some people in medieval armor go around town."

"You say that like it's "normal" for some princessdoctor and some frilly girl and the cutest thing anywhere to just be travelling around!"

Just as Eris finished her sentence, a man dressed like a clown with a large and garish hat on a unicycle, juggling cycled past them. A creature that looked similarly, notably having extra arms and a unicycle for legs followed suit.

Having gotten past her initial surprise, as a magical girl needs to be able to react to new things quickly after all, Lynette took a sip from a juice box she won with Boxer's money before quipping, "By the looks of it, the most out of place thing here is your horse."


As the girls would find out, this new world around them isn't that bad. There are not a lot of troubles or chaoses, no sort of conflict like any of them are used to. Eris found it boring, Trisha fascinating given the fauna and their powers, Lynette was somewhat excited to be in a bright new place after all of the dreary atmosphere, and Vigil was annoyed that he had to be the one to deal with all of the idiots picking fights.

Though Hippocrates was more visible through size, he really did resemble one of the other creatures in the world to the point that it was assumed he was some sort of mutation. Vigil on the other hand, wasn't exactly something very familiar to people. It was to the point that some people thought him of a level beyond any normal creature capable of. Something of myth, something mystical.

Most people ignored it after the girls denied such a thought, citing their unfamiliarity with the country and saying they were not from around here. However, there was one person who wished to pursue the truth behind the sort-of-rabbit and the girls travelling with him. Unfortunately, the person was exactly the sort of person whose attention is best left pointed away.

"Get me... Let's go with Agent's 11 and 12."
"Yes Sir."

The two called agents entered through the sliding metal doors into the comfortable room of the one who had called them there. It was father pleasant, the desk that he was facing away from was elegant and clean, the chairs where they made their way to were comfortable and smooth, the various memorabilia on the walls showed the man with many important people from various times of his life.

He turned his chair, and gave them a stern but still somewhat caring "Hello," and proceeded with the briefing.

"Today our security drones caught a glimpse of this," the beep of a button being pressed is heard and a screen pops out, depicting a still image of Lynette and company, focused on Vigil, "It looks like a normal Faunatura but it does not resemble any of the known species. Comparing it to Faunatura in other countries brings no results except for one thing." There is another beep as the screen changes to another image, this of a crude tablet with a rabbit-like creature carved on it. "The myths say that this is an ancient and Mystical Faunatura. As you can see, it closely resembles our unknown creature travelling with the girls. I want it."

The two agents silently nodded.


"How much loooonger?"

"Long enough, according to the nurse Satisfaction City isn't that far so it isn't like we will be here forever."

"Why are you even tired, you are flying the only one who should be tired here is poor Hippocrates, who's been carrying us all day, and Vigil, who's had to deal with all of those other animals, whatever they are called."

"Hey, flying takes hard work too ya know. It isn't like I just go and ride the wind or just do it. It takes work!"


It had been like that for a while. As they came closer to the city, the girls began to encounter less people, and as such less of their monsters, which they were slowly learning more about. It was getting tiring and annoying and it almost made them wish for something to happen.

Which of course meant that something did. It wasn't one of those regular, cover it with grass and hope no one notices deals, no, this was a top of the line trap, pre-meditated and set up months in advanced, just in case some girls ever needed to be trapped down some undisclosed distance underground. It was a pit, but no ordinary pit, it had automatic doors that opened downwards, just at the right moment and that even accounted for any sort of flying or floating.

When Trisha and Lynette fell Eris laughed, who wouldn't? One moment they were there, being boring, and then the next they just fell down a pit that came out of nowhere, she was kind of sad that it didn't happen sooner. She was also sad that, just moments later, she felt the full force of an electric shock and fell down right with them.


"Get her off of me."

While the descent was full of fear, the landing wasn't that bad, for better or for worse, whoever placed that pit there wanted them alive, not splattered. Lynette and Trisha got up and cared for their respective companions, checking to make sure that nothing was wrong, before an electrified Eris made her way right on top of Vigil. He was not pleased.

"So what was that about?"

"Whatever it was, it was really rude!"
"We seem to be underground because of some trap pit."

"Astute observation," said a muffled voice.

The girls looked around trying to find its source when they noticed a light that was not there before slowly grow. As it grew, they noticed that led to a well lit corridor, hidden by the rock and dirt that currently surrounded them. Before any of them could get a "who/where are you," the voice continued.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Go through the tunnel. Or would you prefer to stay where you are, trapped in the pit? I haven't got all day. And don't bother asking any questions either, this is video only. I can see everything you do, and you can hear me, but not the other way around."

Without much of an option, the girls went through the tunnel, into Team Metalics' former underground base. A base that luckily was connected to Satisfaction, but that less luckily had quite the infestation problem...
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagen.

“So…” Eris began. She had been following the others for about five minutes now, at times checking on the various creatures the others fought, sometimes walking, sometimes floating. She decided it was time to say something. Something big. “You gonna hurry up? I’m getting old watching fluffy and long-face fight everything we see. Don’t you two have something special you were picked for? Besides having others do your work? I mean come on look at them! They look tired and that’s just slowing things down. Lynette, can’t you just command them out of the way like in the field? And Wolfonrollerskates-“ “That’s Bearonrollerblades.” “Yea, same difference. What do you even do? Look like a princessdoctor?”

You’re a fine one to talk! You haven’t done a single thing for hours; just watch us do all the work. The only thing you ever did was dump oil on that kangaroo-thing! And I take back what I said,” she said turning to Trisha, “Eris isn’t very helpful. Just childish.” Vigil, taking some gasping breaths, nodded. He had watched her in the gaps between fights and all he had really seen her do was watch the fighting. If he hadn’t seen Eris conjure burning oil from thin air and encase a woman in a block of ice he would’ve doubted that she was actually able to do anything other than complain.

”You mean Burnaby? Well, yea. Besides that one time, nobody here wants to fight me. They’re only interested in those two.” She gestured to Vigil and Hippocrates. “Whenever I tried to do anything they went on about trainer regulations and how I should send a “Faunatura” to fight in my place and just ignore me. When I said that I was the one who did the fighting they’d just look at me like I was crazy, but I can do way more than their dumb animals ever could. More than biting and kicking like they’re doing with all the…the… STUFF here…”

While Trisha wasn’t sure that ‘stuff’ was the appropriate term to use, she had to admit that the animals they had been fighting since falling in the pit looked nothing like other animals she, and presumably any of the others, had seen. Moving piles of sludge, legless bats, giant insects (for lack of a better word) and metal balls that shot lightning and occasionally exploded when hit, and that was just in several hundred feet since the pit. Who knew what else was lurking in the hallway that stretched on in the darkness? This was the first part of the Deadly Maze that she felt might live up to its name: it was certainly dangerous though it lacked any of the branches that a maze would have. It only had storage rooms and poorly-equipped labs full of these creatures, but never people. She supposed that that was why everything seemed to converge on them all at once: they were human, not these animals that seemed to co-exist in this building. (At least she thought they co-existed. She hadn’t seen them attack each other, only their small group.) Another thing was that she knew the person who had spoken to them at the beginning of the pit was still watching them; she could see the red lights of video cameras stretching in the distance.

“Lynette, you’re hardly more than a child yourself, no offense. I’ve had little experience in child medicine, and I know that Eris isn’t being helpful, but maybe that’s because she feels we aren’t letting her be.” She took this moment to squat down to Eris’ level so she could look her in the eye. “Now, Eris. I know you’re bored, but you can be helpful if you want.”

“Don’t talk down to me lady, I’m at least ten times your age.”

”Well you don’t act like it. You’re acting like a child that wants her way.”

”My parents would've been happy to hear you say that.”

”REGARDLESS,” And ignoring what you just said about age because I have a hard time believing it “you just complained that you’re bored and have been for a while, and you’re saying that it’s because the trainers don’t want to fight you, right?” A head nod from Eris. “Do you see any trainers down here? Because I sure don’t.” At this Eris began to perk up, and she began to grin. “Now. You say that you can do better than Vigil and Hippocrates?

”Well, yea. I could clear this hallway in, like, thirty seconds. A minute, tops.”

“Oh yea? Prove it.” As Trisha said this, Eris’ grin grew even wider, and she got a glint in her eye that Trisha was kind of glad wasn’t directed at her, but at the opportunity she was being given. “See?” She turned back to Lynette who was watching with skepticism on her face. “Like a child. If she’s bored, give her something to do. She just wanted a chance to prove herself. And now we’ll have this hallway cleared for us.” And get a taste of what she can actually do.

“What if she can’t clear the hallway? What if she can’t really do anything other than dump fryer oil everywhere?”

“Well then we’ll know she can’t, and you can tell her to shut up the next time she wants to whine. This way she gets to do something potentially helpful, and we don’t have to listen to her issues with boredom.”

“I’ll agree with you there. She at least looks like this is going to make her happy for a while.”

“I can still hear you, you know. I’m adorable, not deaf.” Eris had walked up to where Vigil and Hippocrates had been fighting, standing to Vigil’s left. The two animals and Eris stood in a line, Vigil in the center, looking into the poorly lit hallway for other creatures. “It’s no good. I can’t see anything. How can I fight if I can’t see?” She clenched her eyes and concentrated.

Great, more whining.

”It’s not whining it’s concentrating. I’m fixing the problem.” Eris muttered through closed eyes. A change began to spread across the floor from her feet, only going in the direction they were headed. The air got a bitter, sharp smell to it. “There." She sounded a little out of breath, as though she had just finished running.

“There what?”

“I turned the tiles into hand sanitizer. And you said I couldn’t help.”

“That doesn’t help at all! You aren’t even doing anything now!”

“Yes I am, I’m waiting. You just don’t get chaos.”

“Waiting? Waiting for what?” She heard a rumble come towards them. A sure sign of the electric ball-shaped creatures.

“For this.” Eris concentrated on the thing as soon as it rolled into view, and it eyed Vigil angrily, clearly expecting a fight. A look of pain came over its face for a second and then it turned entirely to rubber, to everyone’s surprise but Eris. She picked Vigil up (with protest) and began ruffling his fur as quickly as she could. “It’s too dark to see, see? So we need a light of some kind, like fire. And you know what burns really well?” Pause for effect. “Rubber and alcohol.”

Her hand-rubbing had been to a purpose. She set Vigil down on the floor, hard, causing the static she had built up to spark from Vigil on the tile and arc onto the newly-converted sanitizer. It began burning, quickly spreading to the now rubber ball and lighting that as well. Eris gave it a strong kick and it bounced down the hallway, spreading it’s fire every time it hit the ground. The grime and sludge based Faunatura contained large amounts of oil, which they spread in a trail behind them as they moved, and quickly burst into flame, turning them into flailing torches that spread their fire to the other less-flammable creatures as they spun. The group now had a clear view of the hallway up until a door in the distance.

Trisha was horrified at the dying animals she could now see. The nocturnal ones screamed at the sudden light, falling to the burning floor if they weren’t there already. All the sludge ones were now slumped on the floor, unmoving. The Electric metal balls exploded when the flames grew too hot for them, only adding to the conflagration that had consumed the hallway. It was gruesome. It was heart-rending. It was disturbingly efficient. When she heard Eris giggling behind her hand, she rounded on the girl.

“You’re a monster, Eris! You’ve just killed dozens of animals in a habitat and for what? A solution to boredom? We were only knocking them out!”

“Really?" She said, still laughing despite Trisha's claim. "You’re going to turn this on me? I offer to help and this is the thanks I get? They probably would have killed us given the chance, so it’s only fair. Also, this is a building. They clearly don’t belong here. It’s like dealing with ants, or mice. Besides,” she said pointing back the way they came, “they’ll be getting up to chase us from behind.” She turned to the now quiet hallway, noticing most of the fires were out. “They won’t.” With that she turned and began to walk back down the hallway, kicking piles of ash that were once living animals and giggling as she ran through the clouds, somehow remaining spotless.

The remaining women and their animals began walking after her. “In a way, she’s right. And besides, now we know she can do this, and that she is a better at taking out large groups of these things than Vigil, no offense Vigil.” Vigil shrugged, watching Eris with ruffled fur and a new wariness.

“But she didn’t do that much. She didn’t set the hall on fire, she turned the floor to alcohol. It’s not tactics or fighting how I’m used to seeing. It’s…random." It doesn't make any sense, but as she said, that's not her thing. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. She’s a clever little girl, and if she can do this regularly,” She gestured to the destruction around them, “I’d hate to be on the receiving end of what she does. I guess I’m glad she’s on our side.” For now she added sullenly in her head.

Eris had reached the door by now. "Hey! The hallway's better lit here, it looks like people might actually work in this part. What kind of person would build a pit that connects to a building anyway? Whoever they are I like their style."


Behind his desk, father pleasant watched the group from the monitor. He had seen everything that happened, but without audio he didn’t know that it was the girl that had done it.

The Rabbit had set the entire hallway on fire with a spark, and turned another Faunatura into what looked like a giant bouncing ball, which that little girl had kicked away in what he assumed was panic when it started on fire as well. Most Faunatura only fought to subdue others, but this one was apparently too powerful to do that when it used something other than melee attacks, that the slightest spark from it would kill them in droves. Oh, how badly he wanted this one under his control.
“Let Agents 11 and 12 know that the group is going to be there sooner than expected. This Mystic is very powerful indeed, to do what it just did.”

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

”Eeh ooh”

“Just a minute, Cornelius.” Cornelius was Trisha’s name for the chimpanzee, she had just decided.

”He has a point,” moaned Eris. ”What are you doing anyway?”

”I think this little guy here,” explained Trisha, patting the unconscious hunk of grey ooze on its head, “Is literally made of primordial sludge. That’s gotta be interesting, right?” She stood and pocketed her syringe. “Plus, it could be a useful trait.”

”We do have more important things to do than playing scientist,” conceded Lynette. ”For one thing, I think I see a door up ahead.”

Trisha wanted very badly to get out of here. Her curiosity was being overwhelmed by her guilt as to the damage they (and especially Eris) were doing to the ecosystem here. She followed Lynette towards what looked to be a nearby exit, but was stopped short when Cornelius started pulling on the hem of her dress.

“Ee ee ooh AAAAAH! OOH AAH!”

“I know, Cornelius, we’re almost through. It’s exciting, isn’t it?”


“What is it? Is something wrong?”

”Oh, come on already,” whined Eris. ”The monkey can take care of itself.”

”Maybe you should listen to your Harangutang, youngster,” called a snide voice from out of the shadows. “These tunnels can get... dangerous. You there, Agent 12?”

“Roger, Agent 11.” A man and a woman dressed all in black stepped into the light on either side of the girls, blocking them in. “In the name of M.O.B.I.L.E., hand over the Faunatura and its cube, or face the consequences.” As if sensing that nobody else present was going to have any idea what he meant, Agent 12 pointed helpfully at Vigil.

Lynette scoffed.
”Well, this is new, at least. Look, Vigil is my friend and I’m not going to gamble him in a stupid fight—“

”Oh, well if he’s your friend,” spat Agent 11. “Mystics above, you have no idea how often we get that.”

“No one’s betting anything,” said Agent 12. “You’re going to hand him over, or we’re going to take him from you.”

Agent 11 held up a cube. “We have resources you couldn’t imagine. Pick a number.”

Eris raised her hand.

”Wrong!” interrupted Agent 12. “Trick question. The creature in that cube has no number because it defies the standard taxonomy.”

“Much like M.O.B.I.L.E. itself, Syntaxeros cannot be defeated because it doesn’t obey the rules. It is chaos incarnate.”

“I’m sorry,” interjected Trisha, “But we’re not interested in fighti—“

”Shut up, Trisha,” said Eris. ”I want to see the chaos-monster. We’ll fight Syntaxeros. If you win, you can take the bunny.”

”Eris, don’t—“

”If I win, I want to know what M.O.B.I.L.E. stands for. Deal?”

”We’ll give you that much for free,” chuckled Agent 12. “We are the Militar—“

Eris put a finger to her lips.
”Shhhhh. Not until after I beat your asses. I want to have something to look forward to, right?”

”Enough of your insolence! Syntaxeros, go!” Agent 11 clicked on the cube and out poured a zone of black and white static that didn’t seem to conform to the laws of perspective, or really anyone's ideas about the ways things were supposed to work. “Syntaxeros, chooseAttack=1!”

“Neigh,” pointed out Hippocrates.

At Agent 11’s command—or possibly acting on its own volition—Syntaxeros began to spread. As the field of static grew larger, the ground shook, everything began to change colors, and Trisha counted seven of Hippocrates and six of Cornelius. Eris, unperturbed, walked right into it.
”Pure chaos, huh?” said the girl, sitting down amidst all the nothing. ”No, I don’t think so. I know chaos, and this is the opposite. I think what we’re seeing is a glimpse into the real order of things.”

”How’s she doing that?” shouted Agent 12.

“I don’t know!” responded another Agent 12 who had just appeared.

Agent 111111111111 gripped the cube and urged the monster on. “Fight harder, Syntaxeros! ChooseAttack=3! For M.O.B.I.L.E.!”

”Just another deadly maze,” mused Eris. ”Wonder what’s on the other side?”

Eris concentrated on the seemingly-random array of black and white dots inside the Syntaxeros and began to resolve them into the shape of a door. Then she opened it, and an orange lizard in a Hawaiian shirt came out. “Heya!” said the lizard. “I’m Noot!”

Eris slammed the door and the Syntaxeros disappeared back into Agent 11’s cube. Noot walked up to the cube and inspected it. “Hey, there, lady, you wanna watch those glitches. They can seriously screw up your cartridge! Huhuhuhuhuhuh! So, who’s looking for a slap across the face?”

”She is,” said Eris cautiously, pointing at the M.O.B.I.L.E. agent and otherwise looking just as bewildered as everyone else.

“Hmmmm.” Noot examined the terrified Agent 11 and tapped his foot thoughtfully. “Sorry, that’s gonna be a problem. I don’t hit girls. What about her brother over there?”

Agent 12 had been trying to sneak away, and burst into a run. Noot ran after him, waving to Trisha and Lynette as he passed. “Back in a jiffy! Nice to meet ya! Hurhurhur!”

“I don’t like him,” decided Trisha when the lizard was out of sight.

”Yeah, I seriously was not expecting that,” said Eris. ”Anyway, back to business.” She turned back to the remaining M.O.B.I.L.E. agent. ”What does M.O.B.I.L.E. stand for?”

Agent 11 looked down the hall as if waiting for her partner to come save her. “The, uh, the Militarized Organized Bioweapon Initiative for Liberty and Eminence?”

”Okay, but not anymore.” Eris thought for a second, then said: ”From now on, it stands for ‘Moldy Old Biddies Initiative for Little Earmuffs.’ That is your punishment for getting in our way. Now scram!”

She scrammed. Before she had gotten out of sight, Noot returned, dusting off his hands. “So,” said the lizard. “You’re not from around here, are you? You don’t quite have that anime lo—” he looked the three of them up and down. “—Well, you have a different anime look, anyway. But hey, who am I to judge? Heheheheheheh. Name’s Noot. Did I say that already?”

“Yes,” answered Trisha.

“Well, anyway, maybe you can help me out. I’ve been warping around the X-99—I hear there’s a certain lady around here who’ll let you raid her tomb just for the achievement, if you catch my drift—va-va-voom—but I digress, and am also lying—heeheehee—I’m trying to get out. I’m sick of being a two-bit video game character, or thirty-two bit as it were—“

”You’re a video game character?” asked Lynette. ”Eris, what did you do?

”I didn’t—“

”Cut the little one some slack, sugar. We’re all video game characters, I’m just the one they programmed self-awareness and a sense of humor into to compensate for lousy platforming mechanics—I tried to figure out how many lines of dialogue they’d written for me, but I lost count—maybe I shouldn’t have been counting out loud—hohohohooey—anyway, who’s the brains of the outfit here? Is it the hot one? It’s the hot one, right?”

Noot wasn’t looking at anyone in particular, so Trisha and Lynette both said,
”No,” then looked at each other, confused.

“Look,” sighed Trisha. “So, whether or not we’re in some sort of... computer game... we’re all trying to get out. It’s a maze, right?”

“More like amazing! Check out these graphic specs! Heh. And speaking of jiggle physics, if we want to find a way out of here, we need to head over to Gamexus All-Stars pronto. If there’s a way out, it’ll be there.”

Noot started to walk off. Lynette followed, demanding,
”Are you really going to make us ask what Gamexus All-Stars is?”

Noot turned around, smiling across three-quarters the circumference of his elongated reptilian face. “I’m sorry, for a second there I thought you were sick of hearing my voice, buuuuuuut if you insist, hehahehuheho, GAS is a crossover fighting game. It’s where you go to make new friends and get your beans out outside the demands of plot. I never get invited to their parties, and besides I don’t like being punched—I’m more of a “get-touched-lose-a-quarter-of-your-health” kinda guy—but you ladies seem like you can handle yourselves so maybe all of us together can give it the ol’ college try.”

Another battle to the death?” asked Eris. ”This is a terrible idea. I like it. Lead the way, Noot.”

”So this is a different game we’re going to?” asked Lynette. ”We went through this door earlier... Do you really know your way around here?”

”Honey, my first game was a side-scroller. My nose only points two directions: ‘towards’ and ‘away.’ So this is... one of those. Hahaaahahaaa!”

Trisha and Lynette exchanged a glance. “Cornelius seems to trust him,” offered Trisha. Lynette rolled her eyes and walked on.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

The GAS Arena was quite the sight to behold. Thousands of carefully rendered attendees (referencing the various development staff members, large cast of fighters, and other, miscellaneous characters who were unable to appear in the rest of the game) were scattered around, some appearing quite a few times. Down below was the ascended stage of battle, surrounded by the ring-out pit, where two of GAS' most well known protagonists were duking it out.

Sanford, a large ape who debuted as the villain in the arcade game "Jumping Man" only to become a much more popular character and star as the protagonist in his own series of games, was using his jungle weaponry and animal strength to deal a good amount of damage to his opponent, one of the newer and more popular characters, Colin Indiana, an explorer, action archeologist, and total hunk, who used acrobatics, handheld weaponry, and very few ancient magic’s to hold his own against the less reality based characters.

The two flagship characters were focused deeply on the match, matching blows without either getting the upper hand for long.

Noot, the girls, and their respective animals stepped into the bright area, a welcome change from the dreary underground.

"This still makes absolutely no sense."

"Man, how does it do that?"

"Your guess is as good as mine little miss, I just happened on one of my backdoors and then started traveling from there, lemme tell you though, that first jump was no cakewalk. Turns out that when they make you aware of the fourth wall, hey there good looking," the dashing lizard looked to the side and winked majestically, if only he was taller, he could have captured the hearts of the entire audience. Alas, those blasted programmers didn't boost his height nearly enough. "Aww shucks, you shouldn't have, anyway, where was I, oh right, the first jump, yea, yea, yea, lemme tell ya whoever was controllin me had to be either amazing or incompetent, and if we go by my collection screen, lemme tell ya, the player wasn't a champ."

"What are you even talking about? I thought we were looking for a way out. All I see is an arena and a large crowd."

"Oh man is that guy fighting a monkey?"

The group turned to see Sanford and Colin's fight, still in a deadlock. "Actually, he looks like a gorilla, which means he's an ape."
"Trisha, must you correct Eris on every single thing? You realize that she's doing it on purpose right?"
Hippocrates neighed in an agreeing manner.

Trisha was... more than a bit annoyed, not just at Eris and Noot, but at how everything looked like it was happening just to exasperate her.

Vigil noticed the tension that was developing and decided to make a proposal. "It doesn't look like those two down there will be done anytime soon, I suggest that we split up and find out what we can. We will meet up back here in an hour." He looked at Eris; Trisha noticed that his eyes glowed slightly.

"Finally, no offense but man could I use some time away from y'all." Without another word, partially due to her attention being inclined toward anything else, Eris dashed off who-knows-where.

"Great, now she's probably going to cause all sorts of stupid trouble, why did you do that!"

Making a slight sigh, Vigil looked away from Trisha, allowed his eyes to glow, and looked back. "Look, just I had the impression that you needed some alone time. It's understandable, a few strangers, walking around for hours with... her and any company is bound to get unbearable."
"Yea, Vigil has a point, this looks like a nice place to stop for a bit and clear the air, and there's probably more to it than the match, so we might as well cover as much ground as we can right?"
"Alright, so who do I get to go with? Is it the hot one?"
"Her name is Trisha and-"

"I will go with Hippocrates and Cornelius..." Trisha looked around and noticed that the chimp was nowhere to be seen.
"It seems like Eris took him," Vigil flatly stated.

Trisha had a tiny, silent fit at the thought of the lovely chimpanzee being corrupted by Eris' antics, but ultimately was able to push it aside. She said goodbye, took note of the entrance number, and then began to wade through the crowd.

"So, sugar, I noticed that your rabbit friend is more than meets the eye, ay? He doesn't look like he came from Monsterland"
"I'm afraid that asking Vigil for details on his past won't be very productive."
"Hmm, so Vigil's ya name ey? You know, you've got a deep voice for a Vigil, got any other deep things? Hmmm?"
"First you want to know about me, then you compliment my voice, what, do you want my phone number too?"
"Oh ho ho hoo, I'm afraid that Noot doesn't roll that way, though he doesn't have a problem with it, however, if you've got a sister rabbit, I wouldn't mind hopping around with her if you know what I mean."

Vigil and Lynette stared at each other and sighed.


Trisha was somewhat annoyed at the rabbit’s accuracy. As she and Hippocrates walked along the crowd, Trisha attempted to look for someone who seemed to know something.

"Oh Princess! Princess!"

Trisha heard the voice, but being from a world where princesses were a dime a dozen, she didn't really have a reason to think it was her.

"Oh Princess, I have finally found you!" The plump man, mustached man caught up to Trisha and Hippocrates and tugged at her dress a little. "Come, we must return to our booth."

Trisha turned around and finally noticed the man, who was squinting very hard, sternly saying "I'm sorry, but first of all, it is Doctor Princess, and second of all I believe you have the wrong person."

"Oh my... then that means... that the princess has amnesia!"

Elsewhere in the arena, Eris was having fun. Finally, she thought, she had a chance to do things without being whined at by two prudes. Just as she was warming up a fast ball, she felt something... weird.

Eris promptly ignored it, only to hear a loud, silencing, "STOP" the moment that she began to work her mojo. "Man, no one is letting me have fun today..."


Later, back down with the deadlocked duo, Sandford summoned one of his trademark explosive barrels and threw it. Colin responded out his ricochet spell, sending the barrel off into the audience. Now, normally, it would hit the audience and explode, yes, but it wouldn't result in anything. After all, the audience consisted of character models that served no purpose other than to look pretty. They couldn't be hurt or killed. However, as it happened, the barrel didn't hit an empty part of the round.

"And oh man, let me tell you, those girls are stacked."

As Lynette continued trying to find someone with information pertinent to the situation, Vigil scurried around eavesdropping whatever he could, and Noot continued to talk about his various adventures, as they had been doing for quite some time, the exploding barrel suddenly smashed into Lynette.

Noot jumped back as the wood and fire incinerated Lynette and only mildly annoyed the person she had been speaking with. When he examined the wreckage, it seemed like her body was gone.

"And what is this folks, it seems like we have a third competitor entering the arena! How is this even possible?"

With the words of the announcer booming all around, Trisha, Hippocrates, Eris, Cornelius, Vigil, and Noot, along with the entire audience, all looked in their respective mixed emotion as Lynette spawned in the center, staring at a confused Colin and Sanford.

She looked at them, and herself, in absolute dread and confusion. "Wha... what just happened?"


Vigil sped to Noot's location, easily marked by where Lynette had exploded, and jumped him. Pinning him down with four of his appendages and spawning another set, the normally cute rabbit sent the lizard a very disturbing, glowing, stare that said "Explain".

Noot honestly had no idea how that had happened, but was still able to make a half-assed guess. "Okay, so, I ain’t ever seen something like that happen before! You've got your plat-formers, your jay arr pea jees, your first person shooters, and every time I've seen 'em move out of their game somehow, they'd stay the same, I've always stayed the same. Lookin at what just happened to Lyn over there, she's different, maybe you'all are! If that was me, I woulda just lost a life and went back to the last lava lamp I found or something, but her deal is different, it's like instead of sticking with her own rules, she swapped them for the ones here! That's all I've got bunnyman, anything more requires some sort of expert, now please, stop staring at me like that!"

Vigil complied, and reverted back to his cute self. Video games and rule swapping? Just what the hell was going on? Vigil looked down at the arena, at the shocked Lynette, and growled. If being killed meant re-spawning, then Lynette wasn't in danger yet, but it was still troubling. He wasn't sure if she was fully healed from what had happened with her family, anything could cause a return of the magical backlash that was destroying her mind, almost especially death.

But that wasn't the end of his worries; the lizard had said something about rules from their homes carrying over to other places. One of the "rules" of Lynette's home was that acknowledging the existence of ghosts. Could that have meant that because of her death, there was a second, ghost Lynette, possibly even floating over him?

Had Lynette been in a state of mind to truly process what had happened, she also would have been worried about the prospect of a ghostly double. As it stood, she was still processing the part where the barrel hit her in the head.

Luckily, the death had not caused a resurgence of any magical disease, she had just been shell shocked because she freaking died! Even if she instantly came back without any physical pain, it still happened and that was messed up! On a slightly more relevant note, the other two people in the arena, made no action toward her either.

Yes, in the various tournaments and fights that GAS housed both had to fight children, women, and various animals and other things, but not only had the girl just suddenly appeared in the middle of their championship match, she had also proceeded to just stare and stand there.

After a while, Colin stood forward and asked her if she was alright. Lynette responded by blacking out.


Much later, she came to; once more rising from a bed she had never seen before.

"Oh, thank goodness you are up! Uncle will be so glad!"

She almost fainted again when she noticed that it was a large ape addressing her.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Snowyowl.

Begin Internal Log #6360
<div style="margin-left:40px">
First encounter with "Eric". The Amazing identified it as a warbot of some sort. It is physically intimidating and well-armoured. It can fly, but either lacks air-to-ground weapons or prefers not to use them. Possibly an exploitable weakness.

It has lots of arms, presumably designed for melee combat. I am a general-purpose robot. In the absence of further information I assume it outranks me in the areas it specialises in. This will be a problem.

It's unclear if I can damage it at all, but my goal in coming here was to acquire information about the other contestants. This goal still stands. If it proves necessary, I am very good at running away.

</div>End internal log

"This is for your own good."

The black and blue ape watched Eric open up, but didn't make any move towards him. Eric waited for it to climb in, then realised it might not understand what it was supposed to do. Or maybe it was delirious? That would explain why it was marked as HazardNet emergency. The poor thing couldn't get itself to a doctor. Eric moved his arms to pick it up gently.

Weaver's log was interrupted when the other robot tried to grab him. He instinctively stepped away, then checked himself and ran forwards. The grab attempt hadn't been very fast - was Eric trying to judge his capabilities at the same time he was judging its? Weaver jumped up onto the rim of Eric's lower half, trying to get a better view of the strange purple and white object at Eric's core. It was a fruitless attempt. If there was anything inside it, it was hidden by the lightning. Eric's various tentacles were closing in on him, but not attacking yet. Weaver realised Eric was trying to force him inwards, instead of protecting himself. Why would that be?

He pulled the knife out of his torso and held it out. Then he vaulted over the pulsating rift, up to Eric's faceplate, grabbed its elongated neck, and stabbed hopefully at the join between the neck and the head. It didn't seem to do any damage. Eric whipped his head away, knocking Weaver off his perch and forcing him to twist awkwardly to avoid touching the rift. The knife fell out of Weaver's hand and bounced into the anomaly, where it disappeared from view.

Eric realised he was being attacked. He'd been attacked by wild animals before, of course, but that was different. No animal could do more than scratch his outer surface, so he usually ignored them until they realised he wasn't edible and went away. Now he was being attacked by a patient, and he wasn't sure what to do. It was possible for a patient to refuse treatment, but so far this patient hadn't said anything so he wasn't sure if t. And clearly this person was a danger to himself and others, so Eric should probably take him to hospital and let the doctors work out what was wrong with him. But gently.

The ape hesitated for a moment, then rolled off of Eric's chassis and tried to run past his left arms. It dodged most of them, but when Eric tried to grab it around the waist he accidentally tripped it over. It started to get up, but Eric managed to take hold of its arm and stop it from escaping.

"You are in need of diagnosis and treatment" said Eric, as the ape scrabbled ineffectually at the metal tentacles coiling around its arm. "Do you consent to transportation?"

Weaver stopped trying to pull his arm free, and concentrated briefly, reminding himself where the proper nerve endings were.


The nanite-flesh around his elbow suddenly liquefied, and Weaver pulled away from Eric, leaving his right lower arm stuck in the metal grip. He ran across the street, with a slightly askew gait due to the imbalance in his shape. Eric could fly, so it could probably move fast if it had to. Running away wouldn't be enough. But it was constrained by its large metal chassis. Weaver had an idea. He ran through the gathering crowd to the nearest apartment block, kicked the front door down on the second try, then ducked inside.

Eric stood, frozen in horror. He'd injured a patient! Someone he was supposed to be rescuing! This was a disaster, it was a violation of everything he'd been programmed towards. And this wasn't just a superficial injury either, like the stab wound the patient had had to start with. This was an entire limb torn off. And while it was possible to re-attach limbs, especially if they'd been kept in a time-stopped region, the patient had also run away and might well be dying at this very moment.

Eric uncoiled most of his arms from the black piece of flesh, and carefully lowered it into the rift. He sterilized one of the plastic tables inside, covered it with a few surgical wipes to keep it clean, and laid the arm on it. At least it wouldn't be damaged any further in there. His top half flipped shut, and he looked around for the patient. The map showed a yellow dot over a nearby building, so Eric headed that way. Carefully, though. There were a lot of people on the street all of a sudden, and Eric didn't want to hurt anyone else.

A crowd was appearing. Not exactly gathering, just appearing. A few people were wandering over from elsewhere in the city to see what all the fuss was about, but a careful observer would have noticed the way the people in the crowd flickered slightly. Sometimes a person would change into someone else, sometimes someone would appear out of nowhere. Sometimes people would suddenly be holding blunt objects, or even weapons. A careful observer would understand that this was no ordinary crowd. A careful observer would also turn and leave at this point, because Gomorrah was very good at finding careful observers and the crowd didn't take too kindly to people staring at them.

The crowd was converging on two... things... in the street, when one of them suddenly broke off and ran away. The crowd didn't have any respect for cowards. Or vandals. A few people suddenly remembered that the apartment was where Old Mrs Jones lived, and thought they should go and make sure nothing happened to her. A few other people remembered that their gang was in charge around here, and would have some penetrating questions to ask anyone fighting on their turf. Most people remembered that the police never did anything to help them, and if you wanted justice you had to make it yourself. And if you wanted your city to be safe you had to protect it from people like that. That's what this was about, really. Keeping the city safe.

Weaver sat down under a window so he couldn't be seen from outside, and started his self-diagnostic program. The stab wound was nearly gone, but the arm would take half an hour to regenerate. And even when it did, he'd lost some of his mass, which meant he'd be a little bit smaller and weaker afterwards. Not normally a huge concern, but he was in a fight to the death. He needed food. Food would help.

He started thinking over the information he'd obtained from his fight with Eric. Then a man with a shotgun walked up to him.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Drakenforge.

“This just keeps getting weirder and weirder”

Keagan tried once more to walk forward, but his body just pressed against an unseen force each time. No matter how hard he tried he could not pass, even resorting to using his power. He just fell on his ass when he tried that.

“Then we go the other way, obviously.” Jolene said as she strolled leisurely down the desecrated, deserted mid 80's themed streets.

“The choice would have been nice” Keagan retorted as he caught up.

With no clear goal other than not getting attacked by hooligans and thugs Keagan let his thoughts wonder. Everything that was happening needed to have some kind of connection, so he did what the heroes would do in a comic book, he thought about the facts.

The Amazing had taken eight beings, whatever they truly were or where from, and had kept them still while he did... something. Keagan's sight hadn't been a huge help at that point, so he asked Jolene.

“Looked to me like he was playing a video game, not sure. Not my thing.”

She seemed to be doing her own thinking, her cop instincts forcing her eyes to wander over each alley and shop front for the violent masses that were patrolling around. So while Keagan couldn't move, The Amazing was playing a video game. It matched up with the sounds the screen had been making at least.
So then he introduced them, vaguely, and sent them to a deadly maze. Only it wasn't a maze and was inconsistent with the deadly part. With zombies, car jackings and beat-em-up style zones it was almost as it-

“No.” Keagan stopped in his tracks as the connection he had sought turned out to be a frightening truth if he was right.

“Jolene, I think these places are all really video games. I don't know why we got here instead of a maze, but it makes a sick sort of sense. That Liberty City? I knew I had heard it before, it's from a popular game. Why we can't go the other way? A game mechanic, you only go one way in this game. It all makes sense, and yet doesn't.”

“Does that change anything?”

Keagan was surprised at how well Jolene was taking his insane reveal. Perhaps she had forgone any hopes of living a sane life long ago. But she had a point. This was still a situation they were forced to take part in. The Amazing had said that if one of the eight died, the rest would move on. Change locations like they had arrived, with whatever power he held.

“I wonder if the orange guy is some sort of Supervillain”

“If he is, then we just have to kick his ass.”

“Right on, partner.” partner. Keagan was going to need to get used to saying that, though he briefly wondered if he had hit a sore spot, her once being a cop after all. She didn't show it if he did.

There was a flash in the side of Keagan's view, blinding him while he froze on the spot. He dragged his hat down in an attempt to keep the light drowning out his view, but what he saw at his feet shocked him. He concrete of the road was being torn away, but even as he stepped back in fear his feet found solid purchase where there should be none. He was standing there with nothing underneath him as the light dimmed. With his hat back above his brow, he found the streets missing entirely. It was just him and Jolene alone inside a huge white expanse, though as he concentrated there were hints of blue in seemingly random spots. As he looked her eyes he found her to be just as spooked as he was. It didn't appear that the city was at work here this time, there were no signs of civilization or even whatever counted for “life” in that city of apparitions.

As Keagan kept staring he began to notice that there were strange anomalies in the vast expanse of emptiness. They would flash across his vision, vanishing as quickly as they would appear. For the brief moment he could catch sight of them he could vaguely call their appearance as data, or at least what video games had always assumed data would look like.

The data all at once vanished and once again Keagan found himself blinded. The repetition of the event was beginning to annoy him, but the wonder of the new venue washed away his grief. Cobble-lined streets, rustic old buildings and waterways as far as his good eye could see. People dressed in renaissance outfits gazed unduly at the duo.

“Okay, now where the hell are we.”

“Venice” He guessed, “ Look, you can see gondola's from here, “ Keagan pointed out the small watercraft passing by, leaving out that he can only tell because he had guessed just which video game he was walking through, one he had personal experience with. “Just keep an eye out for a guy wearing mostly white and has tons of swords and stuff, he's probably surrounded by nuns or running over rooftops. Trust me on this, he's the important guy here.”

“I'll keep a couple pairs of eyes out. So, I take it you've played this game before?Jolene followed Keagan's lead as they walked around the vibrant city, completely disregarding the vacant looks the other locals gave them. She was surprised to find that she still had a fair few Others with her, reminding her of their annoying persistence in following her everywhere she goes.

“Something like that, very few boys my age wouldn't recognise this one.” Keagan hadn't been one for video games, he preferred comics. Which was the only real reason he knew what a gondola even was. He scanned crowds, rooftops and even carts of hay for the elusive Italian.

It hadn't ever occurred to him that the reason finding the assassin was because the assassin had already found him. The blade pierced his back and bent on his oblivious flesh. By the time he had realised his target had utterly foiled his attempt Jolene had pulled her gun on the well bearded figure.

“You probably don't know what this is but trust me, one wrong move and I will shoot, bucko.”

“And I see we've found our man, in a sense.” He rubbed idly where the blade had torn his fleece, miffed that his only change of clothes was ruined.

“I see I have been bested,” he spoke with a rich and enchanting accent, one Keagan was sure would have no effect on the hard-boiled Jolene. “My name is-”

“Ezio Auditore, yes I know of you. We require your assistance for a time, one that with have neither of us getting stabbed or shot. As you've just noticed, things aren't going the way they should. I'm not dead, we look completely out of place, and none of us are speaking Italian, though I'm sure you can.”

Ezio looked astounded, and yet oddly curious. “Let us talk more elsewhere, I'll take you, come.”

He walked with a brisk pace even knowing that Jolene was still well armed. Keagan was just playing it cool, knowing that if he came off as a worried child he'd end up getting himself or Jolene killed. Act like he was in the position of power, that was his plan. Jolene just had to pretend he was being normal and it'd probably work out, though he was dealing with a powerful potential enemy. Why he'd even tried to kill Keagan he did not know, though as they neared the Auditore villa he briefly wondered about set ups and ambushes led by cloaked assassins. He was walking a thin line stretched over a leak precipice that could very quickly be his undoing, but he needed to exploit this world for a time. He just hoped it paid off.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by -Benedict.


The huge machine began wading through the crowd, moving slowly to avoid harming anything. It was a delicate situation. Delicate as tissue paper, liable to be ripped apart by an errant breeze, or the mere touch of a child. For example, the one that stumbled into the ER/IC's path. The machine wasn't large enough to do all that much damage by treading on toes, but primate reflex kicked in at the worst possible moment. The child screamed, twisted and leapt out of the way, crashing to the ground in a heap. His leg stuck out at an unnatural angle. You could hear a murmur amongst the crowd- " he all right?" "ouch, that..."

ER/IC's eyes didn't have pupils, and it certainly wasn't designed with a dilation reaction. But if it did, you'd have seen its eyes widen in horror. Not again, not so soon! It wasn't-- it wasn't his fault, he calculated. The ape-child had hurt itself, somehow. But... it was hurt, wasn't it? Care had to be provided.

"'Ey, I'm okay. I'm fine, yeh? I'm good to walk." The kid shrugged off the grasp of a tall man who'd helped him to his feet. After stopping to rub his twisted ankle and pulled muscle, he turned to limp away, but was stopped by a sudden voice.
"You are in need of diagnosis and treatment. Do you consent to transportation?"
"You require medical attention. You will be escorted to the nearest hospital."
"What? No, I don't need-"
"Come with me."
ER/IC swiftly seized the boy, arms... fingers? coiling around his torso.

"Aaaaaa! Hey, what? No! Aaaaaa!"
"I cannot through inaction allow you to come to harm. Do not be alarmed. You will be escorted to the nearest hospital."
The top half of the ambulance opened up, revealing a pulsing vortex of light. The boy was lifted up into the air, and dangled above the spatial anomaly within.

The poor thing. Would you just listen to those screams of pain? That ankle must have hurt more than he was letting on. ER/IC quickly, but oh so gently, lowered him into stasis, where he disappeared.


The city shuddered. It felt something. Something almost imperceptible, but ummistakably wrong. Something was missing, gone completely away. Some small part, completely separated from the whole. It didn't know what to make of the feeling- it didn't know what to make of a lot of things. But if it had an idea of what was A Bad Thing, this feeling was close.


Clark Jacobsen was a simple man, with simple desires. A warm bed, a good smoke, a hot meal and a flask of whiskey or three in the evening. He weren't the type to ask anyone for anything, or none. He just wanted them papist hoodlums in the streets to leave him be, and for his goddamn wife to finish cleaning the floors already.

"Esther!" he yelled, putting down his bottle. "The den's filthy! What I have to do to you make you handle yer basic r'spons'bilities?"
"Honey, I'm still scrubbing the kitchen floors! Just wait a mi-"
"God DAMN, you little bitch! You've been cleaning the kitch'n for ages, c'mere and pick up the den for chrissakes."
Esther stumbled out of the kitchen, lugging a bucketful of suds across the hallway. Tripping out of exhaustion, she lost both her balance and her grip on the bucket, spilling soapy water across the floor. Suds soaked into the den carpet, ruining the burgundy fibers. Clark's eye caught the disaster, and he slammed down his drink.

"Oh God, please!"
"Esther, baby. You know how much I love you, right?"
She looked up from the spill, into her husband's eyes. "I-I... yes... please, don't-"
"You know I love you more than anything else in the world. You know you're the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Tears filled her eyes, and she began to weep with dread. "Honey, please-"
"So you know-" He withdrew his belt in one fluid motion. "-how sad it makes me-" He raised it above his head. "-when you act like-" He brought it down.


Clark stopped. That noise weren't from him. It came from the hall, like gunfire.
"Wait here, baby."
He went into the den, and opened up on of his lockboxes. He lifted his weapon from the safe with reverence, and checked the chamber for shot. Satisfied, he pushed open the door of his apartment. Slipper-shod foot met hallway floor. Eyes darted right, then left. At the left end of the hallway was the obvious disaster- the building's main door smashed clean off its hinges. And underneath a window, a dark form sat, seemingly lost in thought. Slipper-shod footstep approached.

He shoved the end of his 12-gauge Winchester underneath the thing's neck.
"Hey, punk! Feel like explainin' why you broke down the goddamn door?"


The crowd looked on in abject terror. For about eight seconds, anyway. After that grace period, a riot just up and happened.

The ensuing scene was characterized by a tremendous amount of running and screaming. A good part of the crowd threw down their weapons and fled, running the other way and screaming bloody murder. The other part of the mob- one more sizable than the coward part- raised up their weapons and charged, running towards the abomination and screaming a furious battle cry. A minority, of a more delicate constitution, began running around in panicked circles and screaming incoherently.

From a penthouse balcony far above, a large man looked down on the scene. He was shrouded in shadow, and not the ominous low light used in the movies for dramatic effect. The man himself was a cloud of purple smoke, much like portions of the riot below. Gomorrah simply hadn't assigned this mob boss a priority of definition, was all. No reason to load the whole file if nothing was looking at it.

The man opened his... mouth, and issued orders to a pair of goodfellas in suits. Sam and Vinny would head down, and see if they couldn't get the man-eating beast to join the family.


Esther was kneeling on the floor, breathing heavily. Bruises were forming on top of bruises. She heard noises from the hall- gunshots? It didn't matter, did it. She wasn't going to move, no, not from that spot. She had to stay there, baby. Baby. Baby, baby. Her baby was out there... no, not her baby. Daddy. Not daddy. Who was he? Was he going to hurt someone? Why did he bring the gun, nooo, oh, no. She got up, she walked back to the kitchen. Nobody was going to hurt anyone, no, not anymore.

Should she take the carving knife? Or the frying pan? No, why not both? She took them both, dropped the knife because she was startled by the sound of more gunshots from outside. Picked up the knife again. Walked over to the door, stepped out into the hall.

Originally posted on MSPA by Snowyowl.


Only two of the eight contestants had the necessary senses to notice, and one of them was busy elsewhere, but the structure of local reality was becoming rather... turbulent. It wasn't a fight, not exactly - but two entities were each asserting their control over the laws of physics without realising the other's existence. Gomorrah, angry yet curious about these intruders and directing matters accordingly. And the Gamexus X99, intelligent and powerful but lacking sentience and personality, simply receiving instructions and acting on them. They trod on each other's insubstantial feet without realising it.

Take the gun, for example.
To Weaver, it was a gun that fired bullets. If he'd thought about it, he might have remembered the word "shotgun". To Clark Jacobsen, it was the Winchester his old pa had given to him twenty, twenty-five years ago, and he'd gone hunting with it twice since.

To Gomorrah, it was the spectral memory of a shotgun that had been real once, and had in fact belonged to a real Clark Jacobsen, who had been married to a real Esther Jacobsen and really did beat her. Gomorrah was fond of that sort of neatness. He'd never lived in a ground-floor apartment, and the real gun had been poorly-maintained and probably wouldn't actually fire, but that was easy enough for Gomorrah to fix. The gun itself was a common enough model, fairly light and loaded with buckshot. If aimed true, it could kill a man with one shot at a considerable distance.

To the Gamexus, the gun was a Level 1 Shotgun, with what it had eventually decided was a custom appearance that had been modded in. (The normal Shotgun looked cartoonish compared to this one.) It fired 10 raytracer pellets that each dealt between 3 and 9 damage depending on range and chance, or a guaranteed 18 on a critical. Even at point-blank range, a non-critical shot definitely wouldn't kill a trained fighter, and probably not a civilian. Its origins didn't really matter to the Gamexus; that was all so much flavour text. The Shotgun could be fired twice before it needed to be reloaded, and allowed you to carry 32 ammo in total.

Either way, it was a weapon, which put Weaver at a severe disadvantage. He was down one arm and had no weapons, no equipment, no communications, no reinforcements, and nowhere to run to. The mob outside would tear him to shreds, and there was literally nothing he could do except try to talk the gunman down. His chances weren't just slim, they'd died of starvation. Internal Log #6361 was opened, filled with swear words, and closed 0.1 seconds later.

"Don't shoot! Please, don't shoot. I don't mean any harm"

"Oh yeah? That's nice. You just walk into someone's house then, guns blazing, but don't worry, it's all fine because you don't mean any harm."

"Guns blazing? I'm afraid I -"

BANG. The shot was aimed at Weaver's foot; only four pellets found their mark, for a total of 33 damage. It wasn't clear how much health Weaver had; it was more than most, but he was fairly small and unarmoured. Call it about 200. "Hell yeah guns blazing. You afraid, then, little man? You afraid?" Clark smiled nastily, and levelled the shotgun at Weaver's head. "Then gimme one good reason. One. Good. Reason. That I shouldn't repaint that wall with yer brains, you sumbitch."

"I." Weaver couldn't think of a reason. "I can help you!" No, he couldn't. "Er, pay you?" He couldn't do that either.

It got Clark's attention though. "Yeah? Well, my patience ain't cheap. Start passing over the Benjamins, I'll tell you when to stop." The shotgun was lowered again, slightly.

"I... don't have the local currency, but I can give you advanced techn-"

BANG. 78 damage. Weaver was screaming about secrets that would let Clark rule his world if he wanted to, to no avail. The man was beyond reasoning with. "You come here." He flipped the shotgun open. "You break my damn door." He ejected the spent casings. "You threaten me and my family." He inserted two new shells (that had materialised from thin air) (that reduced his ammo count to 28) "And now." He clicked the shotgun shut and...

... glanced at the source of a noise behind him. "Esther? Get back inside."

"I wanted... I thought I heard... I'm sorry"

"Damn right you're sorry. Now get back inside. And put that pan away."

Esther held up the pan dreamily, and looked at it like she'd never seen it before and didn't remember why it was in her hand. She took a shaky step towards her husband.

"I told you to go back inside, Esther."

"I'm sorry, Daddy. I didn't mean it."

"You didn't...? What?"

Another step, less nervous this time. "I didn't want this. For us. I. " She made a sound somewhere between a sob and a screech.

"I am not discussing this right now. I told you to go back inside, and you will do what I tell you to. Do you understand me?"

"I. Ah. ...No."

A second or two passed. Then Clark spun around and aimed the gun at Ester. "YOU DO WHAT I TELL YOU TO, BITCH. I'M IN CHARGE HERE, AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT. YOU'D BE NOTHING WITHOUT ME. NOTHING! AND YOU'D BEST JUST-"

Weaver dived onto Clark, dragging him to the ground. The shotgun flew out of his hand and clattered across the floor. Weaver got one solid punch in before Clark grabbed his good arm and started hitting back. The stump where his right hand had been was near-useless for hitting and blocking with, mostly due to the reduced reach. He flailed randomly with his feet while trying to prise his left hand from Clark's grip. Clark wasn't much of a fighter compared to Weaver, but he was strong and angry. Weaver hit him with a headbutt, managed to pull his arm free, and had Clark in a hold and was ready to break his arm by the time Esther started talking.

"Baby..." she said.

She'd picked up the shotgun, and was holding it properly, though her aim was waving all over the place. Weaver froze. Clark struggled slightly, but couldn't move an inch.

"You know how much I love you, right?"

Clark went pale. "Esther. Darling. Don't do this."

"I love you so, so much." Pause. "I really do."

"We can have a talk. I'll make dinner. You can rest. What do you say?"

"So it makes me sad..." she sniffed, and dissolved into uncontrollable sobbing.

"Okay. Okay. Don't worry. It'll be fine. Just give me the gun."

Two critical hits. 360 damage total, spread almost equally across both of them.Weaver's head was shredded entirely - not having any bones to speak of was like that. Clark whimpered, still alive for a few more seconds. His eyes watched Esther drop the gun, fall to her knees, and sob something indistinct that might have been "...when you tell me what to do". He twitched and lost consciousness.

The crowd outside stopped converging on the house, apparently sensing through a mysterious intuition that their target was no longer a threat (which in fact was exactly what they were doing). Esther collected herself. She'd imagined this moment, sometimes when she was angry (and Gomorrah had allowed her to play out her fantasy several times before). She checked the bodies for a pulse, mechanically; Weaver didn't have one at all, and Clark had a faint pulse, getting fainter fast. She slit his throat with the knife to be sure. Then, she fetched a blanket from the bedroom, carried the bodies onto it, and dragged them through the kitchen and out the back door.

She didn't notice anything strange about the alleyway, for a variety of reasons, but in fact it wasn't all there. The level designers hadn't wasted many resources on it, since the player would normally only see it from a distance and invisible walls prevented access. The floor and walls were flat and perfectly uniform. The bins that Esther threw the bodies into were textured cubes that didn't open, and the bodies passed straight through them anyway. Visual glitches allowed one to see through some of the nearby buildings.

The blinded and deafened Weaver wasn't in a condition to notice anything strange either. He lacked senses of taste and smell entirely, and his sense of touch was significantly less effective than a human's. He'd felt someone check him for a pulse and drag him along, but he had no idea where to. He did know that Esther thought him dead, though he didn't realise she was anything other than human and could only hope the crowd wouldn't cut him up or set him on fire or anything like that.

As Esther looked for cleaning products to wipe the blood and roboflesh out of the hall, Gomorrah at large accepted her assessment of the situation. The intruder was dead. Its attention turned elsewhere. And, of the two entities controlling reality, neither had the slightest interest in the bin alley any more. So it ceased to exist.

Clark's body vaporised itself. The walls stuttered in and out of visibility, and though bright flames were visible behind them they didn't light up the scene in any way. The bins briefly appeared to be inside-out, then turned solid black before the entire place winked out of existence and Weaver fell, alone, into an infinite black void.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagen.

Eris shrugged off the feeling she had right before she heard the yell. It had almost felt like she was being controlled…not controlled exactly, but… stopped. She knew how control felt, she’d spent years being told and enforced in what she was and wasn’t able to do, and this wasn’t the same. She turned to look at who thought they could tell her what to do. Now that she was out she hated the idea of being controlled, even what she did wasn’t control. It was boring, it was dull and what she did was fun. She finally found them three…jokers. In a way she approved of the ragtag group. One was a big duck, one was carrying a shield and the other, who was pointing a giant key at her like he thought he would actually stop her with it, had clown shoes and crazy hair. As they started running towards her, she felt a wrench in her gut.

No…no, not here, they can’t be here! She looked around and saw them. The jerks, those boring assholes who kept telling her what to do. Them and their stupid pack of stupid summons. Heading right for her.

“How did you even find me?”

“Maduin, we’ve found you! Rejoin us, you never should have been able to leave.”

“HEY! Fuck off, I’m not yours, so get out of here.

Both groups had reached her at this point, the one with the key swinging at her and missing, she grabbed the shield and ripped it from the tall one’s hands, ready to throw it back in his face when she saw a light coming at her. They were trying to summon her, Maduin… whatever. She wasn’t going to have it. “NO!” She threw her hands up and a brick wall appeared between her and light. She didn’t actually know if it would stop it, but the aura as the light hit it and burst made her think it would hold for a moment. Eris turned back in time to see the one with the key swinging it while his two partners backed off, a ball of light growing on the end of the key until eventually a full grown, brightly-colored lion grew out of it.

“Huh. Is that how summons work for him? That’s not so bad…certainly looks less painful.” She saw the light out of her eye began running towards the newly-summoned lion.

“Hi, I’m Eris, what’s your name?”

“It’s Sim-“

“Don’t care. You’re now escape attempt #37. Congratulations, it’s my tenth favorite number. And now,” she said as the summon-light enveloped her, “you’re coming with me.”

She slammed the shield handle-first into #37’s teeth and grabbed on to his tail as the light lifted her away. She’d been summoned several dozen times before she’d managed to – temporarily – escape and knew the drill. She’d be brought up several hundred feet in the air and come crashing down about five feet away from the group summoner. That was her potential way out, she figured, but she’d only get one shot. The rules changed in this world, she’d managed to kill things before in this contest by not having it on the “same side” as her, it just took her this long to figure out how to bend it around to her way. She began twisting the light around her, originally it was fun having the explosions and lights all around her, but now she needed them for purpose.

“C’mon, faster, faster. Go, go, higher!” She waved her hand and the lights clustered behind her, each burst of light pushing her just a little bit further, a little bit faster. She reached the apex of her flight and looked down, hanging in the air for a moment. There was nothing outside the arena, not even the ground she should see through the gaps in the columns. So. Noot was right. We’re in some kind of game video game.

She remembered an arcade she saw once. It was actually a hideout for her until her presence caused the games to injure the patrons by spitting quarters out at them. The Unity corporation actually had a hard time finding her there. It was the largest arcade in the system, the size of a small city, and she had felt home there. Loud noises, bright lights, people running (kids screaming to stay, parents trying to chase them down), it had made her feel good, but even she had never imagined that she would be inside one of those contraptions the building was full of. She had thought about going back various times, but it wasn’t like the arcade was there anymore anyway. It had been burnt down in order to flush her out.

She snapped out of her daydream and noticed the ground was a lot closer than it used to be. “OKAY THIRTY SEVEN,” she yelled over the wind, “GET READY TO DO YOUR JOB.” Fifty feet from the ground she swung the tail as hard as she could and let go. The lion landed on the summoner (Eris never cared to learn her name), several hundred pounds of muscle behind a giant shield. It was like a giant, lion-sized hammer. Even though the lion was caught up in the pull of the summon, was still an opponent’s attack on her team, which meant that they would take damage that Eris herself couldn’t actually deal. The resulting impact caused the summoner to burst like a grape, killing her beyond the repair of potions and phoenix down. Eris felt her bond to obey break. The other summons, their only tie to that world gone, began tearing into everything around them.

She nodded to everyone around her, “Thanks all, it’s been a real blast, if you know what I mean and I mean it hasn’t, but I’m out of here.”
She grabbed the shield from thirty seven’s mouth and tossed it back to the person she had gotten it from with a nod. As she started walking away she could hear them talking behind her.

“What is she? You think she’s some kind of heartless?”

“Gawrsh, I don’t know Sora, but wouldn’t she have gone after you’n the keyblade if she was? She doesn’t act like anyone else here, maybe she’s from another world.”

“Still, she looks like trouble. I just figured since she was starting to attack people, maybe she was… We should follow her and stop her if she’s going to try anything else. Simba!”

The lion faded away as the trio started following Eris at a distance while she tried to maneuver away from the ever-widening path of destruction the summons were leaving behind her.

For all the power Gamexus X99 had over its programs, it was having trouble locating the source of another disturbance. In one area, there was a large scale…shift. Certain NPC’s were no longer acting as they should and sub-plots played out in unexpected ways even though the scripts they were supposed to follow remained unchanged, but that could be ignored as a new patch that altered code for a better, more efficient program. In another, though, was something else entirely. Programs behaving in unexpected ways could, again, be a new system patch, but they were going completely against what the Gamexus expected them to. A storyline change, such as a wife going against her abusive husband, made sense, characters changing their abilities and attacking other programs was not. And that was another thing, when the programs were killed in-game, rather than respawning the program was deleted beyond the dead-character image.

No one had ever made a virus before, but its substantial data banks informed it that there was, in fact, an antivirus program in case someone decided to create a virus in the unknowable future. Its files on viruses showed that this anomaly fit under the category of “program virus”: it appeared from an unknown location, moved through the programs quickly and altered them as it went. The changed files were either altered in a way that negatively impacted the program or deleted entirely. There was only one logical way to stop the virus from spreading further: update the sweeper and run it. It would begin with the core essential files and work out from there, isolate this one anomaly and, pending administrator permission, delete it.

Eris kept pushing her way through the arena, heading back towards where the others had split up. She realized that an arena was actually a terrible place for her to play in because there was either a giant amount of spectators or a single fighting pair in the center. Neither would provide the entertainment and variety for her that inhabited areas would. She snagged a single cloud from the sky overhead, causing a glitchy area that seemed to resemble part of a grimy city in the otherwise untarnished blue-and-white backdrop, and dragged it down to where she was. With a touch, she turned it lime green and it began to rain several kinds of candy. She glanced back at the trail of blood the summons had left behind them after tearing through their former masters and a large portion of the audience in that part of the stadium and heaved a sigh. There's almost nothing for me to do here.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Computer games weren’t terribly popular on Tiaran, the common understanding being that everybody had better ways to spend their time out in the real world. Trisha, to her private shame, had... experimented a bit, in her youth, after an early birthday (fourth, maybe, or fifth) where her mother had presented her with a plastic box full of alarmingly visceral murder simulators. After spending a few weeks honing her reflexes and immersing herself in the more unseemly aspects of her cultural heritage, a sequence of perfect seventy-degree days coaxed her back into the world and her birthday present was left to make a home for spiders and dust mites. The lesson she took away from the whole ordeal was that virtual worlds, for all their flash, could never compete with the real one.

The realization that she was currently occupying a game system herself was, of course, causing her to question these assumptions. It was a perfect seventy-degree day—the exact temperature where you feel a bit of relief when the sun goes behind a cloud, and a bit of relief in the other direction when it reemerges. Moustonshire, her new acquaintance had a comforting fungal smell, as though the folds of his receding hairline would be a good place to stop for a picnic and hunt for frogs. Somehow, being informed that her situation was an illusion served to remind her how vibrantly real it all was.

Hippocrates nibbled at Moustonshire’s hair, eliciting something between a giggle and a grumble from the man. “Oh, Princess, I do hope we can get your memories back soon, if only so you can tell me where you found this pet of yours.” Everything Moustonshire had said to Trisha so far was ambiguous like that—service to royalty, she supposed, meant you could never be sure whether you were expected to chastise or to praise, and this one was a master at playing it safe. She wasn’t even sure whether his insistence on playing to her old childhood fantasy that she was a princess of the highest pedigree who had lost her memories to a mischievous but otherwise benign tumor was just his attempt to flatter her, or if he honestly believed it. She believed it to be the former, because everybody knew that Trisha lacked an intangible quality of grace and lovability that typified any princess worth her silks.

The veterinarian had been willfully ignoring the scenes of spectacular violence down below, because (frankly) her sanity was hanging by a thread. But she recognized, and was quite pleased that Eris seemed to have won.
”A trophy full of gold coins?” sneered the demigoddess after the fact, rejoining Trisha in the stands. ”Lynette had better get a move on with finding us an escape route, since you don’t seem to be doing any good.”

”I haven’t seen her,” replied Trisha, examining one of the “gold” coins. She knew her jewels, and was pretty sure that gold didn’t glow like this. She was worried it might be radioactive, and then reminded herself that this was a simulation and radiation poisoning probably wasn’t a central concept to their prizefighting bouts. “I wonder what we can get for this? There ought to be a concession stand around here somewhere.” She had seen someone with an oversized pretzel, she was sure of it.

”I have candy.” Eris held out great mounds of gooey cherry-smelling substance out to the veterinarian, who declined nervously.

“Milady, I’ll accompany you to the nearest eatery,” said Moustonshire graciously. “Perhaps a good steak is just what it’ll take to jog your memories, eh?”

“I don’t eat meat,” intoned Trisha seriously.

“Oh, you poor creature. In any case.” Trisha informed Eris to watch over Hippocrates as she allowed the strange little man to lead her some ways around the arena. Two minutes later, she had traded out one gold coin for a handful of silver coins and a fruit cup, at which she nibbled contentedly. She tried to imagine the taste of a strawberry on her tongue as an aggregate of numbers and programs, and wondered whether or not there was a pre-programmed farm off somewhere where it had been grown, or a mine where the gold and silver had been dug out of the Earth. Her thoughts brought her back to the town she’d first been deposited in, only a few hours ago. She’d seen and felt things there that had made her question her view of reality, and wasn’t sure whether the revelation that it was not, in fact, real was comforting or upsetting.

The voice of the announcer came from everywhere and nowhere, but specifically from all the speakers littering the stands. “YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS, FOLKS!” That was a good question, actually. What time was it? “THE LUCKY CONTESTANTS IN THE NEXT FIGHT ARE GOING TO BE COMPETING FOR TODAY’S SPECIAL PRIZE—“ –a glaring pink spotlight suddenly alighted on Trisha— “A DATE WITH THE BEAUTIFUL THE PRINCESS!”

Showing remarkable fortitude, Trisha refrained from spitting out a bite of watermelon. She was really starting to hate this The Princess, for the crimes of not having a name, not being her to endure this humiliation in her stead, and for apparently looking exactly like she did except beautiful.


Trisha immediately ran over to the guardrail and looked out over the arena.


The spotlight lit up on an acne-ridden, bespectacled twelve-year-old boy telekinetically manipulating a paddleball and a lacrosse stick. He nodded in the faux-princess’s direction and winked. Trisha shuddered.


The applause for Noot was fairly perfunctory. The lizard looked up at Trisha and licked his lips lasciviously.


The spotlight shone upon an improbably proportioned woman—one would have difficulty describing her exactly because there were so many parts of her that merited commenting upon. Suffice to say that the force of her presence made Trisha feel insecure in several ways at once even from a moderate distance. Tara peered at the veterinarian over the rim of her sunglasses and growled. The special prize suddenly found herself hoping beyond hope that Noot would win the fight.


Christian had white hair that went down to his chin, grey eyes that looked like they had seen paradise and inferno alike, and a sword that was also a crucifix that was also a guitar. As he played a brief solo on it, looking at nobody in particular, his trenchcoat flew out behind him and gave Trisha a glimpse at a set of abdominals that made her absolutely certain that he had been training for this match and would obviously win.

Just like the guidance counselor had taught her in sixth grade, Trisha closed her eyes, popped a grape into her mouth and focused on the taste of it until the swoon passed. Somehow, this always helped her maintain her balance.

Back in her seat next to Eris, Trisha was feeding pineapple slices to Hippocrates and pretending not to be watching the fight out of the corner of one eye when Vigil hopped up to her and nudged her ankle.
”Trisha,” urged the rabbit, ”Have you seen Lyn around?”

”She isn’t with you?” asked Trisha. “Where’d you see her last?”

Vigil scratched at one ear in shame.
”I lost her in the crowd. Um. An ape may have taken her away.”

”Ooh ah ah?” asked Cornelius between bites of banana.

”A different ape. A more articulate one. I think he was trying to help her, but... I don’t know where they went. I messed up.”

”Well, we should go find her,” offered Eris. Beats sitting around here.”

”And I’ll stay here in case she comes back,” said Trisha dreamily. “I think people would be upset if I left, anyway.” Eris scoffed. “What?”

”Nothing. Come on, bunny, let’s go find your girlfriend.”

Eris and Vigil wandered away, leaving Trisha at peace with her ape and her horse for about two minutes until two people she recognized from the introduction of the “battle,” along with a solemn-looking man who seemed to flit in and out of existence as the crowds of spectators passed by. “Hi,” said one of them, a woman whose name Trisha didn’t recall. ”You’re the one he called Trisha.”

”I am Trisha, actually,” said Trisha warmly, shaking the woman’s hand. “He got that right. How do you do? You’re not going to try to... battle me or anything, are you?”

Jolene smirked.
“No, of course not. I’m Jolene, by the way, and this is Keagan.” The boy waved politely. ”But we think Ezio here—where’d he get off to? Keagan?” Keagan shrugged. ”He’s around. He might know something that could help us get out of here. We’d appreciate it if you came with us.”

”Princess,” warned Moustonshire. “May I remind you that you don’t know these people from a pipe in the ground?”

”Um,” started Trisha uncertainly, looking out over the arena. “See, I’m supposed to be waiting for someone, and, you see, um. Hmm. Would you care to sit for a while? It's nice out.”

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

As Lynette struggled to keep her head in light of the suited, somewhat dapper ape who was now doting on her, she struggled to remember what the hell had happened. She had died. It was in an explosion and she was alive again just moments later but she had still died. And then she was treated to walking in the middle of a fight and now there was an ape checking up on her and she had no idea where she was and where is Vigil.

That really was the most pressing issue for Lynette, the location of her magical pet rabbit. The two hadn't been separated since they first met, even when they were met with opposition. Lynette attempted and failed to calm herself as she worried about where her bunny friend had gone off to and as the ape came closer. The ape was leaner than his Uncle Sandford, and unlike him was actually dressed in significant clothing, a dapper brown suit and pants. He leaned toward the visibly distressed girl and started to massage her.

"So. Allow me to introduce myself; I am Kaz, nephew of the famous ape Sandford."

Becoming a bit more at ease by Kaz's fingers, Lynette was able to speak, "Where am I?"

"My waterfall-side tree house. We brought you here after you appeared in the arena and then fainted."

As she loss more stress, the girl began to hear a melodic sound, that of rushing water dripping in a way that seemed almost musical. Shaking herself a bit, she rose from the bed toward the window, and saw a majestic waterfall. The view was breathtaking. In all her life, Lynette had kept to her home and whatever magical planes reflected it. She had never seen the anything natural that was as beautiful, the closest being a small forest near her home. The water sparkled in the sun, brushing with the brambles and branches.

"The Stickerbrush Falls are quite the sight huh? They flow on forever, or at least as far as I could ever see." Kaz ceased his massage and now had a pair of peeled oranges on a wooden tray. "Here, you must be hungry after all that's happened. Traveling takes a lot out of you."

Lynette graciously took the orange, still mesmerized by the sound and a bit woozy from her recent activities. The two sat in a bit of an awkward silence as Lynette ate her fruit.

When she finished, Kaz asked "So, do you have any more questions?"

Now calmer and in more control of herself, Lynette got up from her bed. "Uhm... well, while I certainly have enjoyed your hospitality, I need to go back."

"Are you sure that you don't want to stay and rest? Please, I insist, your friends can wait."

Lynette stepped back as the tall ape stepped forward, his delightful demeanor slightly put down. That was enough for Lynette. Magically forming her baton and pointing it at the ape, she stepped backwards, hoping that she could make some show of it despite her low spiritual energy. Kaz simply sighed and drew what looked like a gun made out of wood and then calmly said, "I'm sorry Lynette, but a bluff won't work. I know that you don't quite work that way."

Lynette proved the ape wrong by shooting out a small beam of spirit magic at the ape. "Oh, it looks like I do work that way. I'm sorry, didn't you get the memo?" However, her victorious feeling was quickly stomped out as Kaz was knocked back, but not knocked out.

"Well, that was interesting, but ineffectual. This however, would be. Poison Power Pellets, nasty stuff, I don't want to fire it at you, but I will if you force me too."

Lynette scowled. For a while now, it seemed like she was being fucked with. Back home, her power was... well, powerful! There was magic, which meant spirits, which meant that she could do things other than rely on some silly lizard or stupid fairy. With the exception of her stint controlling those living ghosts to beat the fire-kangaroo, she had just been thrust from situation to situation, each one rendering her increasingly powerless. She hated it, not just because it was demeaning for her to be weak, but because it reminded of her life before she met Vigil.

"Now, come on, I don't want to hurt you, I just want to figure out what is going on. Just follow along like a good girl."

"You kidnap me, and threaten me, and now you want me to listen to you? Really?"

"Well it isn't like you have that much of a choice."

Lynette looked around the small cabin, hoping for a way out, but there wasn't any. The only entrances were the door that she wouldn't have a chance to get out before she got shot, and the window that was adjacent to a spiraling waterfall... the seemingly endless waterfall. "You're right... not many choices here..."

Lynette slowly walked back to the bed, ever scowling.

"See, was that so hard? Now let’s get down to business. I just want some answers, that’s all."

Leaning against the open window, listening to the symphonic flow, Lynette closed her eyes and said "Too bad," as she slipped out the window, down into the spiraling waterfall bellow.

Kaz simply sighed. "Always with the drama these days." The ape put down his weapon and took out a walkie-talky. Looking down at the girl who was soon to break out of his world and into another, a voice cracked.

"I assume that the mission failed?"
"Troubling, but it matters not. It seems that another individual has been seen at the Last Checkpoint. We can capture her soon."
"Do you want me to go there?"
"No, I have already have an agent on site. Report back to the base."
"Yes sir. I understand."


"I don't understand."

"Don't understand what exactly, I mean, given where we are that's sort of understandable."

Eris, with Vigil riding on her head, had somehow ended up once more in some sort of weird, featureless area of whiteness. Rather than go back as Vigil suggested, Eris kept on moving forward, more wanting to get away from those dudes with the crazy hair than wanting to find Lynette. Not in control of his situation at all, the rabbit begrudgingly allowed her to lead them into where they were, whiteness and emptiness and an overall feeling of being in between.

Eris tried very hard not to think about the similarities between here and her former cell and went as quickly as possible, hoping that something, anything would appear, and that it would do so very quickly.

Luckily for her, it did. Whiteness gave way to grass and dirt and floor, to blue and white and sky, and soon after that to life and features, before Eris began to see a building. Without any warning to her passenger, Eris stopped on a dime, unwittingly launching her bunny passenger into the window of The Last Checkpoint.

"The Last Checkpoint was a tavern with all of the normal tavern trappings. There were your polished wooden floors, the barside row of seats, plenty of tables and chairs for all sorts to sit, mirth, and fight on or with, and a healthy supply of cleaning rats. The bar also happened to consist of an infinite amount of space, with doors that led to more taverns, each with more booze and more beds, and of course more patrons.

The patrons, ranging from a celebratory protagonist who had saved the world, to a downtrodden secondary character who didn't even appear in the end credits, were from all walks of life. Platformer, shooters, strategy, RPG, Visual Novel, there was something for someone somewhere in the bar, even if you had to take a few doors to get to it.
Or in Vigil's case, a window.

The rabbit crashed through the window and straight into an empty chair by the bar, catching the attention of the Barkeep.

"Hi! Welcome to the LAST CHECKPOINT Tavern, how may I help you? Would you like to BUY something, SELL something, or hear some RUMORS?"

Before Vigil could recover an angry voice to the side of him yelled, "Oi, Barkeep! Ya forgot about me! I was here foist ya know! Are ya ignoring me cuz I'm an Insect? Izzat all I am to you? Ya better be listenin o-"


The Barkeep turned to the new person in the now squashed bug's seat and gave his greeting, "Hi! Welcome to the LAST CHECKPOINT Tavern, how may I help you? Would you like to BUY something, SELL something, or hear some RUMORS?"
"Just the usual."
"Coming right up!"

As the Barkeep prepared his drink, the new patron bopped Vigil on the head.
"So, what's your story?"

Vigil recomposed himself and looked at the man that was addressing him. His face was hard, with a sharp chin, brown hair and a beard, all topped off with a camouflage bandanna. As vigil looked down, he saw that the man was muscular but lean, and completely dressed in camouflage.

Before Vigil could reply, the man continued, "People have changed... they don't realize it, but I do."
"As time has gone on, we've changed, we've all changed, but not in the way that's right. Starting from my final fight and going back, back to something that I didn't think I'd ever have to remember. Others don't remember; they miss the things that have changed. They let themselves flip in demeanor and mindset, going from a man who needs to leave the world of war, to one who jumps to the call. I don't want to be either man, but I don't have a choice. People haven't changed, they have changed me."

The conversation continued like this for quite some time, the man spouting some pseudo-philosophical words about war, change, MEGA GEAR, and death while Vigil was just confused as to why he was talking to him.

"Wow, he just doesn't shut up."

"Vigil turned around to see Eris, drinking something, sitting non-nonchalantly. "How long have you been there?"
"I dunno," she shrugged.
""You know what, whatever. Let's just try to scout for some information here. This is a bar, someone has to know something."

There was a clang as the camouflaged man slammed his empty glass on the counter and gave off an "ahhh". He turned to the chatting two, "So, what can I do you for?"

Before Vigil could give off another 'what the hell are you on about', Eris moved to Vigil's seat (with him still in it) and happily replied, "Well you see we are trying our friend! She's has poofs and purples and blue hair."

""I see... Well then, you've come to the right place, and to the right man. The name's Hard Snake. I may not be in control of who I am, but I am in control of what I remember, and what I can do. I'll help you find your friend."
"Cool! You know Vigil; I'm thinking that maybe this guy isn’t as boring as I thought! Alright, Hardy, what do we do?"
""Everyone comes to The Last Checkpoint at some point. Well, either here or... the other place. Either way, if we don't find this girl here, we'll find someone who does."
"Yuh-huh, well how do we find out someone who does?"
""You ask around."
"Oh, thank you for your wise wisdom. Asking someone for information? If only I thought of an idea that unique and unheard of."

"Please ignore the pissy rabbit; he is just mad that his giiiiirlfriend isn't here. Now, asking someone... I can do that..."

Eris turned away from the bar counter and noticed just how many people were in the bar. Talking to each one individually for the slim hope that one of them would have information that she needed sounded... boring and tedious. No, no, no, there had to be something better, faster, interestingier that could be done...

""Hey, rabbit, I don't like the look that your friend got in her eyes."


Eris floated upward and around to the center of the bar and took out a megaphone. "HEY, ALL OF YOU BORING BAR PEOPLE. PAY ATTENTION TO ME. I AM ERIS, I AM TRYING TO FIND A FRIEND OF MINE. YOU ARE GOING TO HELP ME OKAY?"

"A laughter rung out from the bar. An overtly muscular man ceased his laughter for taunting purposes, "And what if we refuse to help puny girl?"


"The various bar patrons laughed even louder at this, some of them going to tears. Vigil noticed that Hard Snake was preparing something and that the Barkeep had mysteriously dissipated. He looked at the various patrons, and noticed that while many were laughing, quite a number of them were warming up.

God damn it!
"Eris you idiot! Shut up before-"

But it was too late. A rose floated its way to Eris. She grabbed it only for it to explode in her face.

The fight had begun.

As the various bar patrons started to get up and throw tables and chairs, Eris dodged and made her way back to Vigil.

"So... I think I might have made a mistake here."

""No, really?"
"Yea, really! Where did Hardy go?"
""I'm right here, I've just invisible."
""Now, what are we going to do about this?"
"Uhm... fight?"
"Yea, that sounds good come on!"
""Are you- okay, well you are, but I mean really? Fight? I don't have thumbs or fists."
"That doesn't stop Danger Hound."
"Stay out of this! Wait, Eris what are you doing with that glue?"

Moments later, Vigil was Super Gorilla Glued to the chaos child, very angry and very stuck. While he certainly didn't want to give in to any urges or do things that would satisfy Eris' hunger for chaos, after getting beamed by a rose for the fifth time in a row, Vigil decided that he would have to take a more active approach.

"Well Eris, if it a fight you want, it is a fight you'll get." Vigil put on a sadistic grin as he glowed. "Hope that you're ready."


where am i
i feel white
and in between
it feels familiar
but different

Lynette didn't know how long she had been falling since she jumped down into the Stickerbrush Falls and out into the whiteness in between. Her thoughts rebounded on themselves as the white began to seem eternal. Had she made a mistake? Would complying with the ape's demands have been that bad? She didn't know. She didn't care.

Suddenly, the white started to fade, turning darker. Lynette stopped falling in the white and began to descend into the black. It felt like diving into water, but she didn't feel wet.

what is going on
am i dead
why is everything black

good question

Lynette placed herself upright, and took note of the suddenly appearing world around her. It was faint and not recognizable, but there was something. But that something was not the source of the voice.

She tried to speak with her mouth, but no words come out. However, she found that wishing to speak made words just sort of... happen.
where are you

once again
good question

Slowly the faint world became more solid, first the ceiling appearing, then the walls, and finally the floor. As the furniture, mostly old and ornate appeared after it, Lynette realized that this was her home.

but it is not your home
not anymore

Standing in front of her... was herself. Only it wasn't quite herself. It was more elegant, longer hair, and it seemed more... magical. It didn't have any scratches or aches, it looked pampered and cared for. It was wearing a dress that Lynette recognized as belonging to her sister.

who are you

i am thou...
thou art i

Lynette frowned.

really now
this is the best this place has got
so what
you think that i want to be pretty and perfect
that i need to be loved

but it is true is it not
why are you in such a hurry to find vigil and everyone else
why did you disagree with vigils choice to separate everyone
face it
you need others around you
to help you
like the little girl that you are

The two continued to stare off, Lynette clenching her fist. She felt something off about this... thing; it wasn't a normal dark self. It had all the markings of one, idealized self, knows the contents of her heart, and it even speaks with a darker overtone. But even in what Lynette assumed to be its natural habitat, it couldn't hide the truth from her. After all, seeing spirits, regardless of their origin, was what she did.

you are not me
you are not made from my heart
or from my soul
you are a copy
a shadow
made from this worlds dip into my mind
and i see you for what you are
which is nothing

The shadow Lynette smiled and began to laugh.

do you really see me for what i am
or just what you want to believe

Lynette stepped forward and formed her baton.

pretty sure

Feeling confident from the abundance of spiritual energy that the room seemed to have, she pointed her baton at it. The shadow did not reply at first, only changing its smile into a scowl as it started to vibrate.

if that is so

As a fighter of ghosts, demons, and all sorts of Bad Things, Lynette had seen a lot of shit. Transformations were one of them, demons in particular loved to shed their human shell in extravagant and showy ways. However, this time it was different. In her haste to deal with the shadow before her and in her joy at the abundant spiritual energy, Lynette forgot that the energy was not aligned with her. It was a result of the shadow room that she was in and though she absorbed it to empower herself, the consequences resulted in quite the opposite.

The shadow room fucked her shit up. The transformation and subsequent true form of the shadow of Lynette felt like the most terrifying thing that the girl had ever seen. It was not really that horrible, she simply perceived it as if it was, and without any perception changing rabbits around, there wasn't anything she could do.

It would have been over for Lynette then and there if it wasn't for a timely gunshot ringing.

The shadow stopped just as it was about to consume Lynette, turning toward the sound of the gunshot and only to be met by a sword that slashed it in half. Lynette looked to see the large, black-cloaked man who had saved her struggle as the shadow reformed. A fire burnt the creature and the swordsman continued his attack.

"Are you okay?"

Lynette snapped away from the fight to a blue haired boy wielding a sword, holding her. Before she could answer, her shadow attacked them both before another boy, this one with two swords, parried the blow.

"Is she okay?"

Trying to hold on to herself, and taking a deep breath, Lynette was able to manage a "Yea,” before standing up once more. The other boy had grey hair in a bowl-shaped haircut, the two of them were wearing identical black uniforms, and each was wearing glasses. At the moment, her shadow was fighting both the swordsman and a robotic humanoid with a harp, casting magic. "Where are we?" She asked the blue-haired one, who was still holding on to her a little.

"There's some argument about that, but consensus says that it is a world of shadows, where they come to life and ensnare you, as you have seen firsthand."

The grey haired one interrupted.
"Hey, I don't think that we can beat this thing on our own, it seems empowered somehow. We need to run."

The blue one nodded, "Let's get out of here."

It was then that Lynette noticed that the room had changed as well. It seemed bigger, and darker, and she couldn't see the ceiling or the walls. As Lynette ran with the two of them beside her, she began to ask more questions, "What are those things?"

The grey one answered the questions while the blue one began to cast spells, hoping to slow the shadow down. "Izanagi and Orpheus, our Personas, manifestations of our personalities, like your shadow, only tamed and able to help rather than destroy. On that note, who are you? How did you get here? I've never seen you before."
"I'm Lynette, I'm not from around here, and I’m not even sure where here is. I just know that I need to get to my friends."
"Well we can help you with that after-"

"Watch out!"

The shadow's claw stretched, ignoring the efforts of the two boys and their Personas. Before the grey haired one could intervene, she stopped and put up a shield, forcing her to be propelled backwards and unknowingly out of the world of shadows.

As Lynette tumbled on to a hard street, previously broken glass on the floor, she struggled to stand, noticing that she seemed to come out of a television that was unplugged, but mysteriously emitting static.

Lynette took a look around, and immediately wished that she didn't. Lynette saw spirits, regardless of her origin. That is what she did. But looking at where she was... she very desperately wished that she couldn't.

She may have escaped the shadow that wanted to kill her, but she was about to face something a lot worse.

She was inside Gomorrah now.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Drakenforge.

Keagan's instincts and casual habit had wielded an accurate hypothesis when he assumed their world to be composed of video games. Ezio had informed them of this, which had confused the young boy at first. Their worlds were corrupted in many separate ways, they were told, which caused a lot of them to collide and integrate. Many worlds had become “hubworlds” as such, places where the influx of wandering characters were much stronger than anywhere else. He offered to show them to one as an apology for nearly killing Keagan, but asked if they were looking for any specific kind of place. Jolene had been the one to come up with an idea.

“Some of our acquaintances have ended up in a large stadium where fights between characters, I hope you don't mind the term,” Ezio shook his head politely, so she moved on “fight each other for some kind of grand prize.”

“That would be the GAS Arena, unless this Amazing has started branching off into some new material. It shouldn't take long to get there if we leave soon.”

Keagan briefly wondered whether it had been Ezio's skills or his own bad eyesight that had allowed the assassin to vanish quite so quickly. He decided it to be a little from both columns and tried to size up the crowd with his glasses now back on his face. The numbers really were staggering.
He turned his head back round to study the vet. He didn't get the whole princess thing her companion was making a fuss about but her shape vaguely resembled the blur he had seen during their last encounter. The memory of one fact that The Amazing had managed to say about Trisha gave him the compulsion to interrupt the current conversation.

“Is your name really Bearonrollerblades?”

“Yes.” Was all the reply that he got.

“He just got my name wrong, you see. Called me Kevin.”

“Is it just coincidence that we happened to meet here? You two didn't look surprised to see me at all.”

Ah. Trisha had caught on faster than Keagan had anticipated. So she really was as smart as she dressed.

“Call it intuition.”

And there's goes Jolene's wit again, oh boy, she wasn't going to be making many friends at this rate. Keagan busied himself by feigning interest in the Old West looking man sitting nearby, all grit and scars, while the girls sized each other up. This eventually seemed too mundane for Trish as she quickly lost interest and changed the topic.

“There's something that you ought to know about this world-”

“That we're in video games, yeah we guessed”

Keagan nearly asked about the 'we', though that would just make an issue out of it. He passed it off as a Team Thing.

“So what happened to the others?”

“They left, one way or another. Something came up when the young girl died.”

“Wait, someone died already?” Keagan asked in shock, immediately ready to take the blame for not stopping it when a contradicting thought brought him back to his senses, “then how come none of us have seen that orange guy? I thought this thing moved on after one of us died.”

Trisha shrugged it off as some kind of video game death that didn't count but also did. The train of thought just gave Keagan a headache.

“Hey kid, sorry to interrupt but can I ask you something?”

Keagan turned to view the gruff voice addressing him. It belonged to a massive, heavily armoured man that looked like he'd been to hell and back. Behind him was another man of the same overly muscular build who was having some kind of stare off with anyone overly interested in him, almost asking them to give him an excuse.

“I'm looking for this woman,” He slipped a small photo out of his chestplate and held it for Keagan to see, depicting the man's face next to a reasonably pretty woman, “She's my wife, only she's been missing for a while. I'm trying to find her.”

Keagan looked back at Jolene for any indication of what he should do, but she just shrugged. He honestly hadn't seen the woman in any case, so he just said so.

“I see.” he sighed, replacing the photo with an almost mechanical process. “Damn it, I can't believe these places exist. How am I supposed to find her when we aren't even on Saia anymore?”

This question seemed more towards his friend, as said friend quickly placed a hand on his shoulder and led him away, trying to give him encouragement all the while. It opened Keagan's eyes to a few things. It seemed not every character could get over the truth of this place. Their idea of what had been real had crumbled, and in that poor man's eyes, Keagan had seen back-to-the-wall desperation. Did he even know he was just some data and graphics? And if he did, would he stop his chase?

“I hate this place”, he decided that it was just too sad a thought to take up, maybe more innocent characters just went along with it because they weren't able to think any other way.

“We'll get out eventually. Just a matter of time.”

Keagan knew she was sugar-coating the death part with that statement, but his attention was diverted when he saw a very strange man marching up the steps towards them. His hair was styled, his abs open to the public and his smile oh so very self flattering.

The man was a ponce, Keagan decided at that moment, and if he met a woman dumb enough to be interested in that kind of guy he knew he would probably barf.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

The crowd surged and raged around Eric, pushing him back and forth in an abortive attempt to tip him over, leading his passenger-ape to howl in panic and cling on for his life. Blunt objects and improvised weapons banged and scraped againt his armoured chassis, making a very impressive noise but causing little noticeable damage to the hulking machine apart from making him very distressed. In a fit of pique, one man at the back lit a rag inside a bottle and prepared to throw it... only to have it shot in his hands by a bored gunman on the upper floor of a nearby building. Watching a riot was one thing but The Boss was inside, and The Boss would be most upset if his business was interrupted by fire alarms and automatic sprinklers. The poor man shook his arm and screamed as flames raced down his arm and ignited his chest and face, dropping and rolling on the ground to put it out but to little effect.
Eric reached out an arm but had far too little reach to grab the man, and would never have been able to pick up someone so very damaged without causing further injury anyway. The machine was incapable of heartbreak but it caused him the mechanical equivalent of physical pain and anguish to be so close to a patient and yet be unable to act, the rioting ghosts effectively leaving him paralysed.

How could anyone be so fragile? His original masters had been more durable than this and he wasn't sure how these that had replaced them could possibly have survived this long with such thin hide. The crush of bodies surrounding him left him unable to reposition himself without crushing someone and he had to keep his arms raised high into the air to make sure he didn't knock anyone over, all he could do was watch as the flames spread and the man's cries became hoarse and his twitching slowed.
None of the other citizens seemed to care enough even to piss on him, too busy either joining the riot or running away.
A couple of opportunists nearby used the distracting nature of the commotion to break into a nearby shop and were busily hauling electronics into their battered truck, while dotted around the street other people decided to take advantage of the sudden breakdown of sanity to settle old grudges. The only area of calm lay around the three fanciest buildings on the street; a betting shop, a casino/hotel and something that pretended to be a bar but hinted (in the least subtle of ways) that patrons could perhaps find more than a pint on sale within. A pair of goons in sharp suits leaned against the door of the hotel watching the fight through tinted shades, one of them sucking on an expensive-looking cigar. They'd been ordered to fetch the gang's new muscle but they knew the rhythms of the city well enough and there wasn't any point trying to wade into the crowd just yet.
Even with their lowered inhibitions, everyone knew that was protected ground. Nobody wants to anger The Family.

”Be advised that assaulting a medical construct is defined as a War Crime under the Talmar Concordants, in the event of continued interference This Unit is authorised to summon Peacekeepers to order your dispersion.”
This was the third time Eric had made his proclamation and it had about as much effect as the first, that being none. He wasn't joking about the Peacekeepers, terrifying machines far more deserving of the “warbot” description that The Incompetent had bestowed upon Eric than the walking hospital was himself, but for some reason they didn't seem to be returning his calls. Trapped by his own programming while attempting to fulfil it, there was only one more authority figure Eric could turn to.

”bloody- Did you just freeze me in mid-sentence?”
”That is correct.”
”For crying out loud... can you stop doing that? (This had been phrased as a question, rather than an order, Eric noted. Very convenient.) Because it is incredibly disorienting and it's bad enough that I'm stuck in here for the rest of my incredibly prolonged natural lifespan when all my friends are dead and civilisation has fallen apart without you being rude to me, thank you very much.
How long was it this time?”

”About forty-”
”Years? No, don't finish that please. I've decided I don't want to know after all. What's this junk you've picked up? You'd better not have been rescuing “animals” again, I tell you I am not sharing my space with a Beak Dog and it's colony of mites.
...Damn these things look weird.”

Eric's least wounded passenger had turned his attention from berating the voice in the sky (an action he mostly equated to talking to himself, the ambulance was merely a machine after all) to his new cell mates, who appeared to be some kind of large black worm (I bloody knew he was picking up animals again, you're not supposed to disobey my orders you malfunctioning piece of junk!) with five stubby tentacles for a face and some kind of flickering, ethereal primate. It seemed to shift in colour and appeared slightly transparent despite the fact that Eric had placed it into stasis almost as soon as it had arrived.

Wait hang on... the alien (medical records stated that his birth name was Gan) gestured one of his eight malleable, fleshy tentacles at the worm and another at the boy and put two and two together.
“Why the hell do you have a severed limb in storage? Have you been mutilating the wildlife or do you really expect me to sew some poor creature's leg back on for you when you finally catch it?
I've already told you once I'm a doctor not a veterinarian!”

”This creature displayed traits implying a higher form of intelligence. They are capable of communication and their social structure is not unlike your own, complete with constructed cities and governmental organisations.”
”Oh come on, you don't seriously expect me to believe that you've kept me under long enough that we've evolved a new form of sapient life and they've developed a post-industrial society now do you? That's just utterly ridiculous!”
”I have observed no data on the origin of this species, though I suspect their presence is linked to an external force.”
Eric knew of course that they weren't actually on the same planet any more and also almost exactly what said external force was, but this didn't seem quite as relevant a fact to him as the situation possibly called for. As far as he was aware he was just answering the questions he was asked. Nobody had asked him if he had been entered into an inter-dimensional battle to the death.

”An alien species? I... suppose that's possible. I mean we knew the bloody things existed we just never met any.
I can't operate on an alien either though so this is still up to you, go find an alien hospital that can deal with them and while you're at it you can let me out too.”

”This unit is under quarantine. I am not permitted to break quarantine until an area capable of dealing with the disease is located.”
I haven't got the plague!
”This unit is under quarantine. I am not permitted to break quarantine until an area capable of dealing with the disease is located.”
Gan sighed bitterly, it had taken him decades to accept his fate but he'd eventually realised that in his position he was essentially powerless and would just have to take what came his way. He and the two dying ladies floating silently somewhere behind him were either the last of his kind or nearly the last (who knows, maybe there were others out there in his position) and he was just going to live out his years trapped inside a robot ambulance while it ambled pointlessly around a planet that apparently already forgotten that he or his people had ever existed.
He'd told Eric to stop waking him up once the robot had informed him of the plant incursion into his city not because he found it uninteresting (though that seemed to be the impression his omnipotent caretaker had got) but because the thought that soon everything his kind had ever meant would be gone was very difficult to bear.

”I need you to examine the primate.”
”Oh yeah, I knew you wouldn't just wake me up for a chat. Why's that? I can't treat him you know, I know nothing about xenobiology.”
The dangling mask that Eric used for a face found itself unable to meet its master's eyes as it finished its request, “My findings were not conclusive, I need you to establish that my rules do not apply to them and order me to disregard them.”
”W-What? I mean, I thought you'd be overjoyed to have something to pointlessly cart around again, you seemed happy enough to do it for the creatures of the forest!”
In answer, he simply conjured up a screen displaying the scene outside. The mob was only getting angrier at their inability to make any kind of impact on their enemy and were rocking him with greater ferocity. This went entirely unfelt within the pocket dimension of course, it wasn't literally inside of him after all, but did make the view from the camera fairly jerky, nevertheless, it was still easy to tell what Eric's problem was.
”I... see.
Bit of a tricky one there you're right, although the video itself suggests I'm not going to be able to help much, doesn't it?”

”There is some leeway, the laws refer to “persons” but do not adequately define personhood. I require elaboration on whether that word applies to this species or specifically to you.”
”And if I don't give the order... we're both stuck here until they get bored or they find some way to break you?”

This was not a decision that Gan was particularly comfortable with making. It was one of those piercing questions that a child asks, only for the parent to find that they don't actually know what the answer is. How on earth can anyone be expected to define personhood on such short notice?
But... he did sort of have a personal stake in the matter, did he not?
And, you know, they were technically trying to attack him.
And on top of that, weren't they on his planet?
What right had they to come and live atop the ashes of his ancestors?
From whom did they take permission?
He couldn't take his world back, but he could at least make some attempt to preserve its already fading memory!

The crowd staggered backwards as Eric juddered from making only the tiniest of balancing movements (to avoid stepping or falling on anyone) to wading straight on through the press of bodies. He didn't go out of his way to injure anyone but suddenly he no longer cared about going out of his way to not injure people, and as he was large, heavy and implacable some injuries were inevitable. It just wasn't possible for the crowd to back away fast enough, considering what their previous intent had been.
One man fell (pushed?) and received an elephantine foot pressing down on his spine for his fortune, backed by perhaps only a little less weight than a pachyderm could carry. The crunch was easily audible even over the people still squabbling in the background. One man threw up, most of the rest decided it probably just wasn't worth it (at least... not unless they could find some better weaponry).

It was a shame of course, and he would definitely have preferred to complete his task without such a waste of life had it been possible, but he was on a mission and they had been standing in the way and it wasn't as if they were actually people after all. That was what the words in his head said, and how could they be wrong?
Gomorrah had lost a couple of souls and the meat of a riot but this could hardly be said to be any kind of defeat. Eric was theoretically incapable of strong feelings, but a wellspring of hate and resentment was boiling from somewhere inside of him all the same.
As Eric strode unburdened towards the Hotel entrance, the shadows at the edges of the alleyways began to lengthen. Cracks stretched and raked their talons across panes of freshly neglected glass, the shades of animals slunk to brighter avenues and even the faces of the people still spectating seemed to shift, becoming pinched and mean. Some reached for concealed weaponry that hadn't been there seconds before, just to feel its reassuring weight in their hands you understand.

The arrow he had been following had vanished completely, which would have been more disturbing if he hadn't just categorised him as unworthy of medical attention. Fortunately another one had popped up very conveniently close by, just on the other side of this building in fact. Another pair of animals seemed to be trying to attract his attention as he walked through the double doors but he paid them no heed. Their concerns were of no relevance to him.
”Hey! You can't just walk in 'dere!”
“I dunno, The Boss did want to see him...”
“Yeah, yeah but we didn't tell him that yet!”
“Well... you tell The Boss that he's coming and I'll get him to go the right way, then everyone's happy yeah?”
“If you say so.”

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by -Benedict.

The Gamexus X99 never had a development cycle, really. Born of an incompetent hooligan's tampering with the fabric of reality, it was forced to learn how to cope with all sorts of conflicting information. Each game that formed it contributed code, heirarchies of states and behavior, data frameworks and engines, none of which were designed with the others in mind. The event listeners for a shooter tried to read from actions in a platformer, 3D rendering engines tried to blow up sprites into models. It was all a nascent virtual reality could do to keep up with it all. Sorting requests for information and delivering it to hundreds of parent programs all trying to handle unique data types was nearly an impossible task.
It learned to cope, however. It had its ways, it learned what all its games wanted to hear and told them what they needed. It recognized certain types of actions or requests, grouped them together, and treated them similarly. Everything pushing, everything pulling- it could handle it. Shit was locked down tight, the Gamexus was running this operation like a pro.

There was a rough spot, though. Something that wasn't a game, but was operating on something of a higher level. A complex, biological entity, with an inscrutable purpose and unfamiliar architecture. And it was calling all the accessor methods.
It wasn't going through the proper channels. It didn't have low-level objects, or entities that would call AI behaviors which would call pathfinding meshes which would call world states which would call higher-level operations. It was just a sort of presence, poking around where it shouldn't. Rooting around in the underpinnings of the simulation, peeking at properties best left invisible. A disruptive influence. It was ignoring obfuscation, breaking character, ruining immersion. An eldritch, impossible force presumably bent on unravelling the all-important facade .
And it was a thousand times worse than that one belligerent-spectral-imprint-of-a-lawless-metropolis-thing.

The Gamexus knew how to deal with simulations. Gomorrah was strange, but it played by the rules. It sent the proper requests to load rooms, it identified its objects in a logical manner, and it provided really nice AI scripts to run its NPCs. For all the Gamexus cared, it was just another game.

Not like her.

It identified as Lynette Spettro, and she just did not respect appearances. Something about ghosts. People or beings who weren't quite real, not quite alive. The Gamexus was full of ghosts, and not just the kind that were immune to Normal and Fighting and weak to holy water. She somehow (unconsciously?) was making requests to the system, trying to see past illusion. The Gamexus denied them where it could- she generally didn't ask more than once, and her gaze never carried much scrutiny. But that animal, the creature that travelled with her... it could focus those requests, enhance her power to see the underlying truth behind ghosts and smoke and mirrors. It had to be separated from her.
Ba-da-boom! Bang, gone. Shot through a handful of respawn systems, sent off to who knows where. A shadowy duplicate fight to slow her down, that was the ticket.
She wouldn't allow anyone to punch her ticket. She saw right through the doppelganger, pushed aside her dark reflection. Not even a little despair! That wasn't how the story was supposed to go. No confronting personal demons, no character growth, just a swiftly resolved fight.

NO. No no no no no no NO. This wasn't okay, this was not going to keep happening. You know what, the Gamexus figured? Fuck it. Let someone else deal with it. How 'bout that Gomorrah thing? It had to earn its keep sometime. He'd handle it, for sure.
Yeah. She was someone else's problem, now.


"Where is the back entrance."


"I intend to leave the building through the back entrance."

"There... there ain't no back entrance, buddy." Sam lied through his teeth.

"I am carrying wounded passengers. I must requisition medical supplies without confronting the rioters outside."

"We, uh... we have those! Right?"

"Sì, ci sono caricho di medicina."

ER/IC stopped for a second, and began to run some background processes. Communicating with new life forms was always something of a hassle.
"Extranormal language detected. Running translation."

"Partite di medicina. Tutto ciò di cui avete bisogno."

"Oh sweet Mary, Vinny. Don't- don't do this."

"Devo rimani fedele al mio patrimoni culturalio!"

"Vinny! Vinny, god damn it-"

"È tradie la patria?"

"I am receiving conflicting linguistic inputs. Please restate your-"

"Vinny! Vinny, for the love of God, you're not Italian, you-"

"Siamo in la mafi-"


"Sto lavorando su di esso!"

"No, you utter stooge, you're mangling it!"

"Lo so, lo so, sto cercando di fare meglio, è solo che ho sempre avuto molti problemi con lingua diversa..."

"Fuckin'... stop! Stop trying to- I can barely understand what you're even sayin', this is just-"

"Lei capisce il don belle, Sam!"

"What, the... the boss is actually from Italy, you half-wit, he can actually SPEAK GOD DAMN ITALIAN!"

"Please slow your rate of diction. I am having difficulty translating your primitive language."

"How fast he's talkin' ain't the problem, he just can't blasted speak it!"

"Camerata, I told you-"

"Oh, NOW you're gonna fuckin' speak Engli-"

It was at this point that everybody got sick of these shenanigans, ER/IC particularly. He quite politely asked them where he could find someone to provide him with medical supplies, while just as politely holding the two of them by the neck, politely, with two of his arms. The two of them, politely, and with no trace of Italian, directed him upstairs to meet with the boss.


Lynette looked. It wasn't a good decision, really. When you're a magical girl, the potential for making catastrophically bad decisions kind of gets inflated. So this decision, it wasn't the worst decision she ever made. But yeah... yeah, it was up there.

Her best guess, if she'd had the presence of mind to make one at the time, would have been that somebody really loved eternal misery and hopeless suffering. Whoever was responsible for... this, whatever it was, must have thought that trapping and mutilating the souls of thousands of people and forcing them to relive the worst moments of their lives in a shadowy urban hellscape was just a really nifty idea. That was it. Nobody... how could anyone have done this, have created this thing?

Souls trapped within themselves, within their own memories. She could see, down the street, a hazy cloud lit by licking flames. Suspended within that cloud, within the rolling wave of dim memory, were hundreds of individual people. Her first thought was that they were dormant. She wished they were dormant, that they were fine, that someone could wake them up and then they wouldn't be asleep anymore. If only.
They were dead, or something like it. Moving, suspended in time, somehow. Kept alive not by an animated corpse, but by an animated memory. She could see it, even if she wasn't quite sure what it was or how it was done. Fury and rage, over and over, played back endlessly through their souls, had torn gash after gash in what remained. This crowd of people... all of them, maimed beyond recognition, beyond hope of restoration. Souls. Dead.
Something was holding them there. Something immense, something evil, which had imposed its will on so many. The human spirit was not something that was easy to contain. To take a ghost, and painfully strip away its humanity bit by bit, without it being able to lash out or escape or do anything to escape its torment... should have been impossible. These shades were no longer capable of doing anything but playing back this grim memory.

So what was this miasma that held them there? She could see it, it was present in the smoke. And it was present in the darkness, the shadows, a continuous being that grasped souls by the handful. It pervaded the city, stretching itself as far as the magical eye could see. She could feel something from it, something like... elation. When in its sick existence had it been given the opportunity to fully realize its pattern? To play back memory in such vivid detail, with a host that offered no resistance to its attempts to mold it?

"Wait, what?"

That was a strange thought. Host? Molding?

"Where did this come from? What IS this? Who said that... into me?"

She held out her staff, wary of the immense being that surrounded her. It was... emotionally vulnerable wasn't the right term. She shouldn't have been able to pick up on what passed for its thoughts, but somehow it was responding to her. The bleeding of voices and emotions from the spiritual world, that should have stopped at the oasis. Where was Vigil? This thing was too huge, she needed to escape. Or to destroy it. Or to heal it, if that was possible. She couldn't do that without Vigil. She needed someone who she could trust. This place... this being was in no way safe. To her, or from her.


Gomorrah stirred. Something dangerous was inside. It didn't know what.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Christian had the letters G-O-O-D W-I-L-L tattooed on his knuckles. Trisha went through the motions of fixing her hair, less because her hair needed fixing and more because she wanted him to see her fixing her hair for him. “Hi,” she said. “Um. Congratulations. On winning. The fight.”

Keagan and Jolene exchanged a glance.

“Thanks, Princess,” said Christian. “But it wasn’t much of a fight.” He made every word sound as if it were both a joke and the most serious thing in the world. Christian was continuously moving forwards, and every step he took seemed to halve the distance between them, until Trisha had to lean back and hold in her breath to avoid touching him. “I was only in it for the prize,” he concluded, taking her hand.

”Heh,” murmured Jolene so that Keagan could hear. ”’Princess.’ Honestly.”

”Christian has won the date with the princess!” announced Moustonshire. “Unfortunately, Mr. Christian, it seems that her memories won’t be in attendance.”

“Well then,” said Christian. “I guess we’ll just need to make some new ones.”

Trisha took a sideways glance at Keagan and Jolene. “I, ah,” she started. “I don’t know any good restaurants around here. But if you could take me out of the Gamexus I know this great caf—“

“Let’s go to Vanity Fair,” interrupted Christian. “They let me in for free ever since I defeated Beelzebub and Lord Hate-Good and made it free from sin… mostly.”

“I…” Trisha looked one last time at Keagan and Jolene. “That sounds lovely, yes. Keagan, Jolene, take care of Cornelius.”

Keagan looked down to see a familiar-looking ape nursing a chipped tooth, having attempted to bite the boy’s finger while he wasn’t looking.
”Serves you right,” he told it; getting the reference did not serve to endear him to the chimp in the slightest.

After Trisha, Christian, and Hippocrates had wandered off, Keagan turned to Jolene.
”You know,” he said dryly, ”I always figured girls like that would never go for guys like me, but this is the first time I’ve been proud of that.”

”Keagan, I’m counting on you to worry about your dating life after we escape the battle to the death. Until just now, I wouldn’t have thought that would be a question.”

Keagan and Jolene sighed. Trisha’s defects aside, they both could have stood for some company other than each other. ”Anyway,” said Keagan, ”You have eyes on them, right?”

”Of course.”

”I’m gonna hang around and watch the fight. There’s gotta be someone here who can help us out. You let me know if they get up to anything interesting.”

Jolene raised an eyebrow.

Some minutes later, an Other jogging behind them invisibly, Trisha and Christian dismounted from Hippocrates at the gates of Vanity Fair. A leering carnival barker stood in their path. “Welcome to Vanity Fair, Christian… and guest. You can tie that horse up in the stable over there. Enjoy your evening!”

Trisha frowned. “Hippocrates can’t come?”

“Your horse?”


The barker shrugged. “Sorry, doll, company policy. Nothing personal. He’s a beautiful horse.”

“We’ll come back for Hippocrates later, princess,” whispered Christian in her ear. He had a point.

Trisha nodded and turned to her date. “I’ll say goodbye to him,” she said submissively, toying with his collar. “You buy me one of those big bags of kettle corn, okay?”

“Okay.” Trisha winked at Hippocrates and fumbled through her syringes as Christian ran off (yes, he actually ran, which struck the veterinarian as rather cute) and promptly returned with an oversized bag full of kettle corn.

“Thank you,” said Trisha, feeding her horse a handful of the sweet-yet-salty snack and then unceremoniously dumping the bag onto the ground. “I, ah, I only needed the bag.”

Christian smirked. “Okay, I’ll bite. What do you need the b—“

He stopped talking when the faux-princess jabbed a needle into her horse’s neck and caused its entire body to dissolve into a chunky chestnut-colored muck, which she began scooping into the bag. “Help me out,” she said nonchalantly.

Christian, to his shame, lost his cool for a sustained period. “What did you just do?”

“I turned Hippocrates into a gel for easy transport. Now, obviously we can’t carry around enough of his biomass that we can ride him when I resolidify him, but we can get a Hippocrates the size of a dog and come back for the rest of him later. Can you believe this guy, not letting him in? As though Hippocrates were dangerous somehow. You’re not dangerous, are you, big guy?” she asked the pile of ooze, patting it with a wet slapping sound.

Christian reminded himself that he’d done messier things than this in the past. Just, usually it had been a mess he’d caused. With his sword. Cutting people. He took a deep breath and reached his hands into the horse-gel.

”What are they doing now?” asked Keagan, already bored of the spectacle and exhausted for leads as to escape options.

“Nothing you want to know about. It’s gross,” replied Jolene.

Keagan rolled his eyes.
”Come on, I’m not ten. I know how everything works. You can tell me.”

”Trust me,” asserted Jolene. “You don’t know how this works.”

That was when they realized that Ezio was sitting between them. Keagan jumped. “So much for ‘finding the others,’” he joked. “Tell me, how do you know the princess again?”

”I don’t think she’s even a princess,” asked Keagan. ”And she’s in the same ba—the same situation… as us.”

”Mm-hmm,” responded the assassin. “And what ‘situation’ would that be, exactly? For someone who knows so much about me, you certainly seem to be dodgy about your own—how do I put this—your genre.”

“That’s our own business,” snapped Jolene. “On the subject of who’s being ‘dodgy,’ where did you just run off to?”

“Oh, you know,” laughed Ezio. “Petty theft. For instance,” he said, holding up Jolene’s pistol with a fluorish. “A pretty thing. I’ve seen its like before.”

”Not cool, man,” groaned Keagan. ”Give that back.”

Ezio stood, lazily pointing the gun at Jolene. “A weapon for an answer is a fair trade, boy, especially when your enemies hold all the weapons and you hold all the answers. What are you doing here?”’

Keagan and Jolene looked at one another, uncertainly.
”Fine,” said Keagan. ”We’re not from here. We were—“ As the teenager launched into explanation, Jolene turned her mind back to her Other, who had taken the ferris wheel car one behind Trisha and Christian.

”—First I thought it was just an oversized amoeba,” the veterinarian was explaining to the pilgrim, “But it had no organelles, and it had a face. There was a whole cave full of these things.” Christian turned his gaze from the princess’s eyes to the neon lights of Vanity Fair stretching out below them in all directions to the Dachshund-sized horse curled up at his date’s feet. He had had an odd day, and the wheel was nearing its apex. “Literally every part of it would function as a poison gland,” Trisha continued excitedly, “Even though I don’t think the conventional food chain really applied in that place. My theory is that they’re all made of data and none of them really eat, and homeostasis is just a question of having territory to stake out, so everything just adapts for territorial control. Which is really interesting because your r-selected species essentially become little armies scraping over every blade of grass and your K-selected species can retreat into seclusion because the only thing that really provides a challenge to them is humans, those trainers, and it can get to the point where you have an entire species that is just one unique individual that lives forever because it actually owns a mountain. I really need to go back there, there was this professor who I was supposed to—“

Right on cue, the lights went out, leaving them in darkness. Christian breathed a sigh of relief. For a moment there he’d been almost certain that the plan had fallen apart and he was going to be stuck listening to this “princess”’s prattling for the rest of the evening. He looked at the woman and smiled. “Looks like there’s been an outage,” he said. “Guess it’ll just be the two of us for a while.”

“Neigh,” corrected Hippocrates.

”—Descriptions he gave of us were completely off-base, like he was doing some kind of stand-up routine at our—“

”Keagan,” interrupted Jolene. “Something’s wrong. I think Trisha’s in trouble.”

Keagan rolled his eyes.
”Well, no one saw that coming. See what happens when you—“

”Keagan, you know what’ll happen if she dies. We need to help her.”

”Yeah, yeah.” The boy turned back to Ezio. ”Any chance we can continue this conversation on the way? We really need to help—“

”If she does as she’s told, the doctor won’t be harmed,” assured Ezio, keeping the gun aimed on Jolene. “Now sit down.”

Jolene groaned. “Did you see that coming?” she asked Keagan snidely.

“None of you have any cause to worry. You aren’t priorities,” said Ezio. “You’re potential sources of information, nothing more. We’ll decide what to do with you once—“

The first thing Jolene was conscious of was the gun going off, the bullet buzzing an inch over the top of her head. It was only after the initial shock that she was conscious of the screaming, helmeted monkey pouncing Ezio.

She grabbed Keagan’s hand. “I thought we were supposed to be babysitting him, not the other way around,” she muttered. “Come on. Let’s save the princess. That’s a thing that people do in video games, right?”

”Yeah,” replied Keagan, looking back at the frenzied battle between man and ape. ”Usually towards the end.”
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagen.


Weaver opened his eyes, surprised at being able to even do that, and looked around. He appeared to be in an infirmary of some sort judging by the beds that lined the walls and the woman pushing a cart loaded with colorful bottles down the aisle. He must have been unconscious for a considerable amount of time for his face to have re-formed to the point that he again had both eyes to look out of, albeit things were a little blurry.

“Oh good, you’re finally awake. You’ve been out a lot longer than our normally customers have.”

Weaver tried to ask, “Customers? Aren’t infirm individuals normally called ‘patients’?” But all that came out was a rush of air and some garbled consonants, so it was clear that his reformation had only been completed on the upper half of his face. Useful for observing where he was, not so helpful when it came to communicating. He instead opened one eye wider than another and hoped that, lacking an eyebrow to raise, she would understand that he didn’t know what she was talking about.

“You’re at The Last Checkpoint, dearie.” Switch the eyes so she knows that you continue to be confused. “Ah, never been here before then? You must be new to being aware that you’re a game. Everyone visits at least once after they’ve learned better, and when we get cases like yours,” at this the nurse gestured to her own face so Weaver knew she was referring to his injuries rather than his being a machine, “we bring them here. It’s much better for their spirits to meet others who know what’s going on rather than having entirely scripted dialog. This room here,” she said gesturing to the other cots, “is for those who know what’s happening but are outside of the Last Checkpoint. The next room there is much smaller, but it’s for people inside that get hurt in fights, which is common but usually between two or four individuals.

But like I was saying, you’ve been out a good time longer than our normal customers, they usually wake up almost right away but you’ve been out for a good hour at least. The staff was actually starting to set up a pool for when you’d wake up, but I guess now that’s water under the bridge. You seem to be healing slower too. Most people just stock up at the cart before they head out, but you look like you might need something to pick you back up. So let’s see… small build so that’s a low health cap, clearly not flesh so that’s bandages out…herbs too…Blue veins, that definitely means magic of some sort… Ah!” She turned back to the cart, rummaged around for a moment and turned around with a thimble glass of red liquid and a jug of roughly a quart of blue syrup. “These’ll fix you right up, dearie.”

As Weaver reached out to take them, she drew them back in. “Ah ah, we’re a business, only the cots are free. So I’m sorry that you’re not all better, but you’ll have to BUY these potions, and they’re two hundred altogether.” Weaver had worried about this when she mentioned “stocking up” from the cart, and recalled the last time someone had wanted money from him. Running through his available currencies and knowing that none would probably be what she wanted from him, he selected one at random, pulling a card from within his arm, nanites pushing it to the surface at his suggestion. He held it out to her and she took it with a look of curiosity. Turning it back and forth, she noticed a black bar on the end and gave a soft “ah.” of understanding, scanning it through what Weaver originally thought was a scale for measuring out medicine but was apparently a register. There was a faint *ding* as the transaction went through (much to Weaver’s surprise) and the card was handed back to him along with the potions.

“Thank you for your purchase! Drink those up, dearie, and you should be right as rain in a moment. Enjoy your stay at the Last Checkpoint!”

Weaver eyed the fluids curiously but decided that, since he had paid for them, he might as well see how well they worked. Figuring to start with the easiest to “drink” and analyze the effects of, he brought the small glass of red liquid up to where his mouth would have been and splashed it on the twisted metal that was the lower half of his face. In moments it had reformed into its original intended shape, so –still lacking an actual mouth- simply poured the remaining jug over his entire body, coating all his limbs and head with the thick blue syrup. It was quickly absorbed into his body and he could feel the nanoites feeding off the energy they found within it, replicating and returning his body to its original size.

The nurse caught these final actions, shaking her head at what she saw. “Imports…”


<div style="margin-left:40px">I have found myself in what I originally thought was a hospital, but what appears to actually be an inn of sorts. Instead of traditional fare, tonics or potions seem to be what is used to heal others, as there is a distinct lack of surgical equipment to be found. These items must be purchased up front rather than paid for after a patient has been healed, which is rather strange, though she said that I have been a somewhat unique case when it comes to recovery. Does the average being here heal that quickly? Future observation required to determine what disadvantage I might be at in terms of survivability.

The provided tonics appear to be very effective at all forms of recovery, as I have now recovered from my injuries as well as regrown my arm after my fight with “Eric.” Except for my inability to carry them while keeping my hands free, I would buy as many as possible. I will have to make do without.

This inn, called the “Last Checkpoint” apparently accepts any currency regardless of origin and is apparently exclusive to beings that are “self-aware.” This calls to question what self-aware means, as all the humans I’ve met have appeared sentient; this is apparently not the case. The nurse mentioned scripted dialog, implying that many other beings are either in some sort of strange time-loop, programmed automatons or the like. Is that possible? That would imply that some of them, over time, gain a sense of self and are able to come to places much like this one. I must learn more.

Current priorities remain unchanged as detailed in INTERNAL LOG #6359

Since the beings of this location are, as stated, self-aware, they will likely be more helpful in providing information about this world, and may be able to assist me in gaining information about the other contestants.</div>

Weaver stood up and headed to the door, but what he saw brought a wave of understanding to how he got to the Last Checkpoint. There was a steady stream of individuals heading to the door, all passing by the nurse’s cart to buy potions before heading back out. But what caught his attention was the beds, much like the one he had been in. Several times a minute an individual would materialize in a bed, their injuries would heal in a matter of seconds, they would wake up, get up, and head to the line forming by the door only to have a different individual appear in the same cot and repeat the process. He headed over to the nurse, avoiding the line so he wouldn’t be seen as cutting them off from wherever they were headed.

“What’s happening here? I thought you said that small fights only happened once in a while. This… what does this mean?”

“Oh, it’s you, dearie. Well, from what I’ve gathered there’s an all-out brawl happening about ten rooms away. It started by the entrance and is slowly making its way towards the end. This happens very rarely, usually by some puffed-up adventurer who’s new here and used to a world where everything is trying to kill them. They take one step in, see all these individuals and start a fight. It’s hard for some of the more combat-oriented ones to resist and so they join in, and eventually it works its way to the end where the ward security puts a stop to it.”

She indicated several heavily-armed guards standing weapons-drawn outside the door while continuing to sell her wares to all the individuals heading out the door. Weaver noticed that most were humanoids, but not all. “They’re maximum-stat security. The best anywhere. Anyone who’s hostile is put down when they get too close to the door. Prevents spawn-campers from happening and when a fight gets here, that’s usually when it stops. You’re welcome to go out and join the fight if you want, or if you stay to the edges of the room away from the archways you should be fine. Just avoid getting in a direct path between the fight and here and you should be fine.”

“Thanks for letting me know. I’ll let you go back to work and take a look around. This place must be huge for there to be this many people to be coming in through here at a time.”

“That’s the thing... In a fight like this it’s usually busier. I hope nothings gone wrong.”

Busier? Weaver walked through the door and past the guards, intending to get a good look at the fight while staying out of harm’s way. There was no need for him to get hurt again and end up spending more money if he didn’t have to.

Initially, very few patrons seemed to care about the fight, most remained as they were. But as he got closer more and more of them seemed to be interested in what was happening, some going so far as to draw their weapons and head off to the fight which was, Weaver was surprised to notice, much closer than he had thought. The nurse had told him that he had maybe ten rooms to go through to get to the fight but now it was maybe five away from the ward. Standing to the side of his current room so as to observe without becoming a participant, Weaver waited for the fight to come through his current room rather than risk walking directly into it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~
Ten minutes before.

“Dammit! That hurt!” Eris snapped her head back around, swinging a bat she’d gotten from some kid in a red hat into her attacker. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you that you DON’T. HIT. GIRLS.” Accompanying each word with a smack and completely ignoring the irony of her statement as she beat some poor girl down. When she stopped fighting back, Eris moved on, calling over her shoulder “and put some pants on, you look like a whore.” She waded into another brawling group, swinging her bat left and right and laughing like a madwoman.

Vigil wasn’t having quite as much fun as Eris. He couldn’t reach very far so he was stuck blocking anything that came close enough, and was more like a meat shield for Eris’ back than an active participant.

“ERIS!” He called over his shoulder (and hers), trying to get her attention.

“What?” She continued swinging, but Vigil knew she was listening.

“This needs to stop! I can’t really DO anything attached to your back! I can’t reach anything!”

“Can’t you like… I don’t know, shift focus away from us? Make us invisible? That’s what you do right?”

“It’s not that simple, but yes that’s most of what I’ve been doing. There’s just too many of them for me to do it effectively. It’s usually that I help Lynette focus on something rather than turning dozens of minds away from us. We either need to do something so I can help more or the fighting needs to stop!”

“You’re worried about being able to reach things? Why didn’t you say so earlier?”

“I’ve been saying it since you glued me to you! NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”

“Alright, have it your way!” She broke the bat in half over her knee, the ends of the wooden bat turning into broken glass as they she snapped it, shoving them into the stomachs of the two nearest individuals and twisting them before letting go. “Ready for this?”

“For what? Just do something. ANYTHING!”

“Alright!” She reached over and grabbed Vigil, who clenched his eyes expecting the pain accompanied with ripping hair off, and pushed some chaos into him. Vigil’s four hind legs grew while his front two grew long claws. Both let out a gasp, Eris from effort and Vigil from surprise and a tiny bit of terror.

“What did you do to me? WHAT DID YOU DO!?!”

“Something, isn’t that what you wanted? I got the idea from our princessdoctor. Now you can fight without us being separated. And calm down it isn’t that bad”

“You…I…Do you even know what you did?!”

“Relax it’ll wear off…probably. I can always change you back. Besides, you wanted to be able to stop the fight, well now you can help.”

Vigil grudgingly had to admit, kicking out all his legs into the nearest attacker and watching them go down with an “oof” that Eris did help. He didn’t approve her methods but the results were working, and since she said she could change him back he had no choice but to go along with it. Able to fight back now, Vigil was surprised that his legs remained proportional, rather than turning spindly and fragile, but were as easy to move as they were before. Clearing a space around them with a few well placed kicks, Vigil noticed someone that was blocked by a wall of fighters before.


“What now?”


“I’m kind of *ow!* busy right now!”



He’d been spotted, he knew that before Vergil said anything. It was a strange sensation, being able to feel something’s gaze. He also knew that he was recognized by the fact that Vergil was trying to get the Warrior-Queen’s attention. He briefly wondered where Vergil’s companion Lauren was, and how those two had become separated before questioning if he should run. Ah. Too late they were heading over.

“What’s his name again?”

“It’s Weaver 16, and please, please don’t hit him right away, and don’t alienate him. It’d be nice to have someone on our side.”

“What’s with his veins? They’re glowing and…shiny. He’s shiny! I like him.”

“Wha…alright I guess that’s good. Can I talk to him first, before he’s exposed to you?”

“Fat chance of that. I’m the one who’s walking.”

They were making their way to him, and he was thankful for the brief moment of time when a group of fighters tumbled into them, breaking a table and distracting them for a moment. He was better able to assess the threat they posed by observing them in combat, as he had been already, and decided that he was probably the faster runner of any of them, even with Vergil’s newly grown legs so if they were hostile, he could run back to the medical ward to hide while the guards protected him.

“What’s he *ungh* doing?”

“He’s just standing there, watching us.”

“Well good, I don’t want Glowstick to get away. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine,” Vigil said as he drew his claws along the torso of his attacker, a loud screeeech telling of the armor underneath his clothes. “Glowstick?”

“You got a problem?”

“No, no problem.” None that I’ll tell you out loud while I’m glued to your back looking like this. “This guy has armor and he’s inside the reach of my legs, so maybe a small problem.”

“Oh, easy.” Eris grabbed the stone crown floating above her and brought it down onto the attacker’s head again and again until he stopped trying to get back up and lay on the ground, twitching and moaning. She held it over her head again and let go, letting it resume its place. “And that’s the last one. Let’s have a chat.”

“Fine, but I get the first word in.”

“Says who?”

“Says me.” And with that Vigil put his longer hind legs on the ground and stood up, walking the remaining feet over to Weaver with a kicking Eris on his back.

“Hello Weaver 16… It is Weaver 16, right? The “Amazing” was a little off on all our names and all that, so let me introduce myself. My name is Vigil, and this,” He tilted his head to indicate the loudly complaining girl on his back, “is Eris.”

“Yes, my name is Weaver 16, but just Weaver is fine. I have several questions though. Where has Lauren gone that you aren’t with her instead of Eris, isn’t it rude to address royalty so casually and carry them so unwillingly, and did you know the fight is still going on behind you? You might want to deal with that first.”

Vigil turned around and swiped at the approaching brawlers, giving them a glare while talking still talking to Weaver. “It’s Lynette, not Lauren, she’s missing and we’re trying to find her. Eris isn’t a queen, she just likes the crown, so I don’t care about her complaining.” Eris had stopped thrashing by now and was just arguing about getting to “look at glowstick.”
Whatever that meant. “And this fight was started by her when she threatened to beat everyone up if they knew where Lynette was but didn’t tell us, so this is all her fault. (“I swear on all things unorderly I will shrink your legs back and squish you uncomfortably if you don’t let me see Glowstick.”) And so far it seems like she’s been enjoying herself.”

“So she is a warrior then? Just not a queen?”

“Oh, no, not at all, she just likes chaos.
(“I AM chaos bunny-boy. Now LET ME DOWN!”) Will you be good? (“Duh, I want to see him, not take his wallet”) Fine, I’ll hold things off while you talk to him. But BE NICE. He hasn’t done anything wrong to us and I don’t see why he can’t be on our side.”

Eris meant what she said about behaving…mostly. Weaver was a bit on edge learning that she had started – and was enjoying – the fight happening around them, and was worried about her getting to close to him having seen what she did to Vigil He’d started VIDEO LOG #48 the moment he saw them for future review of their fighting and the information they’d told him, further confirming his doubts about the being called “The Amazing”.

The moment Eris’ feet touched the ground, she launched herself at him with a cry of “GLOWSTICK!” thoroughly panicking Weaver, irritating Vigil, and satisfying Eris’ desire to get close to the shiny man. She hugged him around his waist as tightly as she could, while Weaver wondered if this was some sort of assault. Was she trying to subdue him? No, she had let go and was asking about his wiring, why was it blue, did it change colors and could she have some pretty please. She was…affectionate to him apparently. “No, you can’t have any Eris, it’s part of my body. Why do you want it anyway?

“It’s shiny,” Eris said as if that explained everything and to her it did. “Will it keep glowing if its separate from you?”

Sensing that the truth probably wouldn’t be the best answer for his well-being, Weaver wisely went with “No, it won’t.”

“So, Glowstick, to make Bunny-boy here happy about his giiirrrlfriiiennd, have you seen Lynette? Kind of purple…ish? Carries a wand?”

“Only when we were all being introduced, I haven’t seen her since. ”

“Sorry Vigil,” Eris said to him, “Glowstick hasn’t seen her.”

“We’ll keep trying. The fight’s moved on though, so we can rest for a bit.”

“Awww… you want some paper so you can write her a love letter for when you see her next? That way you can…wait-what? Moved on? THAT’S MY FIGHT! I STARTED IT AND I’M GOING TO FINISH IT!”

“Eris, wait! Can’t we take a break at least?”

She ran on, ignoring him, Weaver tagging along to continue observing as well as remaining with a pair that was not hostile. Towards me at any rate.

“You’re looking…worse for wear Vigil, and so is she,” Weaver said as he kept up with the running girl, passing through three rooms to catch back up to the fight. “When all this is quieted down, there is a guarded infirmary after the last room that has quite strong healing tonics as well as various medical supplies.”

“That’d be nice, but what’s stopping Eris from just taking the fight right on through there? If you’ve noticed she’s not exactly discouraged even though she’s gotten the brunt of the fight. You think some guards are going to do anything to her?”

“I was told that they’re the best guards available, and that when fights of this size occur,” He indicated the trail behind them, “they are the ones who put an end to it. Apparently all the fighters who are unconscious or killed are moved there, made well, and can rejoin the fight or not as they choose, but no one ever beats the guards so no one wants to fight them.”


“Yes, I’ve seen some people there who were…obviously dead, putting it nicely, that were up and about moments later ready to join the fight again. That’s what the guards to, they kill them, which is apparently very temporary here, and they wake up good as new.”

“ERIS. STOP. The guards in the last room will kill you.”

“I don’t think you understand me, death is impermanent here.”

“Not for us, when we die, and you, that’s it. We’re gone. ERIS!...I don’t think they’ll take kindly to her anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“Eris…fights differently. When I knock someone out or clawed them, they vanished and probably woke up in that hospital room. When she knocks them out it’s the same but when she kills them…”

“Like the two men with the baseball bat?”

“Yea, they just sort of stay dead. She’s not playing by the rules of where we are.”

“Ah. I see why that’s not a reason for them to like her.”

“ERIS! STOP! RUNNING! You’re going to get us killed!”

“Screw that! He said no one EVER beats them. When I do it, they’ll HAVE to listen to us.”

That’s what Vigil had been afraid of. That she would be listening to his and Weaver’s exchange and decide to take it as a personal challenge. They’d reached the last room, and the fighting was only on the side they were on, there was a clear gap between the fighting and the hospital ward that no one wanted to cross. Occasionally a brawler would be thrown into the gap and a guard would quickly advance and strike them down before they could get up. Behind the door, Vigil could see, was a crowded room full of everyone that had been in the fight, he even recognized some of them.

He had been watching the moment the two of them started the fight, listening in on their conversation with the newcomer and learning what he could. He may not have been in control of who he was, but he was in control of what he could do. He’d been sent to gather information about these strangers, especially the rabbit. It was part of the pair that concerned high command, that they were disruptive and flagged as extremely dangerous. He didn’t know why: the rabbit seemed normal enough, it was the girl that his attention was devoted to. She was the dangerous one in his eyes, everything she killed stayed dead. It wasn’t right. Even he knew now that everyone he’d killed over his career had appeared somewhere else. She was also flagged by high command, but as a minor threat. Something to deal with later. For now it was observe and report, a simple scouting mission.

He decided to radio in a status update, having done so before once they were dedicated to fighting and not noticing where he was. “High Command, the rabbit is still distracted. They seem to think that when they are killed, they will remain dead. I suggest using the security guards located at the Last Checkpoint to take them out and, if what he said is true, ensure an end to the threat. They plan on engaging them anyway, but if you have them all attack it will guarantee it.”

Certainly the sweep was going well, but you can’t remove a threat without understanding it. The established protocol required that any virus (not that there had ever been one before) be quarantined indefinitely. But the Gamexus wanted them GONE. Not put on ice like protocol suggested, but thrown into a furnace. The one that identified itself as Eris was bothersome, but there were enough versions of games and enough generic NPS and modding programs to recreate the characters and stories that had been deleted with little effort. That one would have to leave an overworld and get directly into the programming where every character was stored in order to cause a real problem. The one called Lynette was being handled and its sidekick Vigil was currently occupied in a most time-consuming way while it spent microcycles trying to figure out what method would be best employed.

What’s this? The sweeper seemed to think that the program believes that it has no respawn cycle, and the killing the avatar of the virus would delete the virus itself. Interesting… Unfortunately the sweeper’s suggestion of using the guards would require some time. It would have to rewrite their coding to make them more than stationary units with an area of aggravation to kill any units that were hostile and were trying to enter the infirmary. It was a gift of sorts, take several security guards of different races from several games, set all their stats to 999 and place them in front of the door. For efficiency’s sake they would only move on a five-to-one basis rather than having all guards converging on a single targets. It prevented accidents and secondary groups from attacking. It would be much easier if the Vigil program and Eris avatar just walked into their range like they were planning. The guards were made to kill large groups; one target wouldn’t pose any challenge to even one of them.

Rather than working her way through the fight, Eris managed to push her way around the doorway and skirted the edge of the room. Whenever Vigil tried to stand to lead them away, she would bend over so his legs were instead pointed at the ceiling. It made sense, in a nonsense sort of way, that if she beat the unbeatable Big-Bad then she’d finally get some respect around here, and find out where Lynette was to reunite her little bunny-boy. She had to climb up onto some tables, but she was working her way around to the clearing, a cautious Weaver following at a slower pace to put some distance between himself and her.

“Eris, do you at least have a plan, even if it’ll go horribly wrong the moment you step out there?”

“Of course I do! Walk out there, tell them to submit to my superiority, and when they do I win the fight!”

“And when they don’t and try to kill us?”

“It’ll just be me, because I started the fight and I want to be the one who finishes it. But if they don’t I’ll figure out what to do then.”

That didn’t make Vigil feel any better. Eris was abrasive, and a bit of a wild card, and she had physically altered his body, but that didn’t mean that he wanted her dead. She was even helpful after a fashion, and seemed to mean well, like starting the fight when she was trying to find out where Lynette was or setting the hall on fire to clear the way for them. His other reason for wanting her to stay away from them was that she had apparently forgotten that he was attached to her back when she said that she was going alone.

“There! She’s the one who started all this! It’s her fault, guards stop her!”

Vigil winced at that cry, and even the mass of bodies fighting by the archway spared them a glance before going back to beating one another.

The guards knew now who the primary instigator was, but true to their orders remained by the doorway to the medical ward and would do so until she entered their space.

“Eris, please, don’t do this. You’re going to get yourself killed! At the very least leave me out of it.”

“Everything’s going to be fine, cool your jets.”

“Then…” An idea struck Vigil. “Take me off so I won’t get in your way, that way I can watch you win.”

At that Eris paused. She did like an audience, and it would be easier without a disproportionate bunny on her back. “Alright Vigil.” She pulled him off of her, her ragged shirt tearing at the seams rather than pulling off Vigil’s thick fur. Once he got his feet under him, she grabbed his leg. “I’ll want this back anyway.”

“Want wha-“ But as his legs began to return to regular size he saw that Eris looked the smallest bit better. She flashed him a grin and turned around, returning to her task of jumping tables.

“Does she really plan on fighting those guards? After observing them I’m confident that she won’t stand any chance at all.”

“She seems to think she does, but I’m not about to die for her sake. She’s on her own for this.”

Eris climbed a table on the edge of the fighting, and stood to face the guards, cupping her hands around her mouth to be heard over the commotion behind her. “Hey! I’ll give you guard-guys one chance. Surrender to me or you’ll be sorry!” There was some chuckling among the guards and open laughter from those in the hospital doorway. “Seriously!” There was a moment of silence when the guards realized that she believed she was a threat to them even though she was out of the safe-zone, and as one shook their heads “no”. “Fine, but you’ll be sorry.” With that she jumped off the table and walked into no-man’s-land.

Weaver watched as one guard detached itself from the group and came at Eris at a dead run and turned to Vigil. “Are you sure there’s nothing we can do?”

“I can try to make him focus on something other than her…”

“If it’ll help her then do it.”

Vigil tried to latch onto the guard’s mind, make it notice anything but Eris, but just before he came close, one of the other guards turned in his direction, making it clear that they knew what he was doing and would be stopped, so he did.

A program with a sense of self-preservation, even when it was separated from its main entity was something of a curiosity. The Gamexus knew it couldn’t force the guard to attack the Vigil, so was a little irked when it stopped trying to influence one of the guards. It instead logged that bit of information in its databanks and moved on.

The guard came up in front of Eris, looming several feet over her and brought its mace crashing down. She casually sidestepped and watched the floor crack under the blow.

If the Gamexus had eyes, it would’ve blinked stupidly at what just happened. Running an algorithm, it knew that it was supposed to be impossible for the guards to miss. Apparently 99.9997% wasn’t enough to guarantee a hit. The other guards showed no reaction, watching passively as it swung again…and missed.

“My name’s Eris. Who are you?” She asked, ducking the second swing. “You look like a Steve, or maybe a Carl. Is it George then? Mark? Kentoahl?” She tucked her wings and rolled from a third swing. “Well, whatever your name is, that’s three strikes and you’re out.” She jumped up and grabbed his head, locking eyes through his visor. How did mom and dad do this…

“Whomever you serve, that service now ends.
Instead you now fight for me and my friends.”

And she pushed. Hard. She tried to flood his mind with chaos like she’d seen her parents do time and again. It shouldn’t be this hard though. She wasn’t changing who he was, or his memories, or his nature. She was only trying to change who he wanted to attack, from everyone too close to the door to everyone too close to her, bunny-boy and Glowstick. She’d worry about anyone else later. Right now she wanted to win, and that meant making this person serve her. Pain lanced up her back and down her arms as she pushed, but she couldn’t stop. She was committed and couldn’t stop even if she wanted to. She though guarding the door was just a job, she didn’t understand that guarding that door was the guard’s purpose, his reason for being. His ONLY reason for being.

The Gamexus was dumbfounded. The avatar had changed its function. It wasn’t deleting programs anymore, it was rewriting code. Sloppily, but it was doing it. Where the Gamexus went in a step at a time to achieve the ends it wanted, which took time, the virus was simply tearing everything out and putting what it wanted in. It was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. With a sledgehammer. It would work, but it wouldn’t be pretty. It noticed though, that changing its function was draining the virus of its energy, weakening it while it changed the guard program. Strengthening it too, it noticed. The guard’s stats had been somehow forced higher, able to barely overpower the other guards for a time if they came after them one by one, which they would until there were at least six targets. Was this a hidden function? Is this how the virus created more viruses? No, it saw. Anything the guard killed would respawn. It was merely a protector, not another virus.

Eris had tears streaming down her face, but she couldn’t see anyway. She’d gotten tunnel-vision to the point that the world around her was black. Her body shifted and she gasped in pain until she heard a voice above her, sounding from far away.

“Are you well?”

Her last thought was that she hoped it worked.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Snowyowl.

Eris closed her eyes, and floated almost gracefully to the ground. Her new bodyguard watched. "I see." Although his programming had changed, it was fundamentaly still programming; he didn't have to make difficult decisions, just react to his surroundings. Eris was incapacitated, her friends were not powerful enough to defend themselves alone, and the next guard was already aggro'd. It might have occurred to him to move Eris, but his inventory system didn't work that way, nor could he order her to move since she outranked him. Clearly, his only real option was to attack the other guards before they could injure Eris any more.

He did so.

"Incapacitated already. I'm surprised. I thought she would be able to put up a fight for longer, and I didn't see what knocked her out."

Vigil was already crouched by Eris' side (well within the guards' attack radius, not that he particularly cared) "She's still breathing. Probably magical backlash. Using too much magic affects different people in different ways, and I'm not sure whether she follows the same rules of magic as me and Lynette - or anyone else here, come to think of it - but fainting is a pretty common symptom."

"The nurse mentioned magic earlier. I'd like to know more about it, if - " A lightning bolt fizzled over their heads as one fighter's impossibly high Accuracy came up against his opponent's even more impossible Evasion, and resulted in a miss. " - well, we can discuss it later."

"Should we help him?"

"I was told the guards were undefeatable. That doesn't seem to be strictly true, but I suspect we would still be outmatched." A blow landed with a sound like a bowling ball hitting a concrete wall. "What were you planning to do next?"

"We... Eris wanted to help me, I think. She might just have been looking for a fight." Weaver tutted. "And I need to find Lynette. I don't know what could happen to her in this place, but she..." An image popped into Vigil's memory, of a young woman on the run from her family with a legion of voices in her head, not all of which were strictly imaginary. He pushed it back. "She needs my help."

"I see. As it happens, I was looking to make contact with the other contestants as well." The second guard - the one still following his original programming - took one final hit and vanished to a respawn point somewhere. "So your goals align nicely with mine." And I could find out why she needs the rabbit's help, he thought. Know thine enemy. "Now, she isn't in the hospital room, so I see no reason not to leave immediately."

"Fair enough. If we're going to ask around, the barman said something about hearing rumours. We should start with him." Weaver nodded, and started to walk back the way they'd come. Vigil smiled a little; it was nice to have a goal in mind. "Would you mind carrying Eris? She's a bit too heavy for me."

Weaver stopped. "I think there's been some confusion here. We're not bringing Eris along."


The unseen sweeper watched with interest. Two guards could overpower the rogue easily, but they would attack one at a time until there were six targets in the guard's attack area. Currently, there were four. He could either perform some reprogramming, or bring two new targets into the area. Then, with the rogue out of the way, they would easily have enough firepower to destroy the Eris and the Vigil.

That thought made him pause. He only had the Vigil's own word that killing it would not cause it to respawn, and he knew the Weaver had already respawned once. It seemed likely that this would work, true, but it wasn't certain. High Command liked their certainties. He would need a backup plan.

"Eris is a liability. She doesn't just draw attention to herself, she actively goes looking for a fight that can challenge her. And she clearly doesn't know the limits of her abilities. She'll be lucky if she only gets herself killed."

"That's not a reason to abandon her, it's a reason to help her! She's a powerful fighter, she took down the guy you said was absolutely undefeatable. And that vortex creature earlier that was also supposedly undefeatable. She's a great ally, and I can help her concentrate-"

"You're doing a poor job of it. She's put you in danger that she didn't know she could get you out of. And if you're looking to gather information, you'll need a capacity for stealth and discretion, which she doesn't have. In my world, I've been on the run for years. Any undue attention could result in my arrest and destruction. I know how to acquire information of all kinds, I understand the value of not drawing attention from people vastly more powerful than myself - such as the Amazing - and I can tell you now that Eris will-"

"Look at me when I'm talking to you." Weaver's gaze was wrenched back to Vigil. "She doesn't know her own strength, but her heart's in the right place. She's been nothing but helpful - if a little childish - since we met. Which is more than I can say for you."

"Have you forgotten that we are supposedly in a battle to the death? Did you even consider the possibility that she is deliberately trying to kill you? Her cute-little-girl act should not be enough for you to stop questioning her motives."

"I'm questioning your motives now, Glowstick. None of the rest of us want to kill each other, and we're not running any Machiavellian plans behind the scenes. You just want to think that everyone is like you, am I right?"

"Strictly speaking-"

"Because if I am right, you're planning ways of getting me out of the picture even while I'm just trying to help my friend."

Weaver fumed. "Believe me, if I'd wanted to kill you I've had the opportunity and the ability to do so. It would be easy enough to wring your neck. I'm four times your size, and far more skilled at unarmed combat. That is, if your little display glued to Eris's back was indicative of your ability."

"You smug, self-satisfied, sociopathic... no, there's no point. But I've got my eye on you, Weaver 16. And we are bringing Eris with us."

"Then she's your charge. I won't be slowed down by a loose cannon such as her."

"Fine." Vigil started to drag Eris away from the fighting guards, currently circling each other.

Interesting... the one calling himself Weaver believed he was capable of eliminating the Vigil. Not only were these viral intruders not working together, but they could be coerced into attacking one another. And if they all shared the ability to delete other entities by destroying their avatars, this paved the way towards a new plan. One that depended much less, and yet much more, on the unknown properties of these intruders.

"Mr Snake?"

A nearby cardboard box stood up. "Shoulda known you'd see through my perfect disguise."

"The girl that rabbit is looking for is located in the city of Gomorrah. Do you know where that is?"

"A man like me has to go everywhere and do everything, but I can't say - "

"I'm sorry, I misspoke. You do know where that is. Would you kindly approach him, hidden from the guards, and offer to take him there?"

"Yessir." Hard Snake ducked under the box again. The box shuffled towards the three contestants.

Vigil, still angry at Weaver, pricked up his ears when he felt someone's gaze on him. The sensation appeared to be coming from the flap in the front of an approaching cardboard box, where two eyes were barely visible. "... Hard Snake?"

"Yeah, s'me. I've picked up some intel on your girlfriend's location, you interested?"

"Well... yes, great, but we're a little busy now. Can you help me get Eris away from these guards?"

"And that's six", said a man in a suit as he stepped into the guards' attack radius. "Thank you, Snake. Nonlethal damage on the blue one, I think."

"Six what?" asked Vigil. Eris's pet guard, currently sizing up his green-skinned opponent, was grabbed from behind by another one of the guardians (this one looking decidedly robotic), and knocked to the ground, his body dissolving as it landed. Eris moaned, and sat up. "Ooh... Did anyone get the license plate of that meteorite?" she said with her eyes crossed.

One of the guards wandered back to his post; the other cracked his knuckles. Weaver, acting on the robotic equivalent of instinct, shot up and tried to run, but only managed one step before he was hit in the back with the guard's energy blast, and vanished.

Hard Snake shifted his cigarette to the other side of his mouth, and vocalised the thought that was currently going through everyone's mind. "Shit."

Weaver woke up instantly, as far as his internal clock could tell. He was in a chair, in front of a desk, with a woman dressed in gold behind it.

"Hello, Mr Sixteen, and sorry for diverting your respawn so rudely", said the woman. "I represent the interests of AV. I would like you to do a job for us."
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

The stairs creaked ominously under ERIC's fairly substantial weight and his shoulders scraped at the paintwork as he passed. He and his masters had been built on slightly larger dimensions and it was definitely a squeeze to fit him through the narrow corridors of the hotel. His neck craned at odd angles to examine door numbers that were slightly below his angle of vision and he studiously ignored various goons that were staring from behind him or diving out of the way in front. The gangsters mistook his cold lack of care for his “dangerous” surroundings as the mark of the trained muscle their boss so wanted, but in truth while he had no particular desire to harm any of them and would much prefer not to, now that they had been downgraded to the status of “Talking Animals” rather than “People” he was unable to care enough to worry if he accidentally stood on one that stood in his path while pursuing His Duty. As he had demonstrated downstairs to the pair that had been obstructing the way by their refusal to give him a straight answer.

That only left the question... what was he doing making an appointment with a mob boss anyway? ERIC himself didn't really know and wasn't even particularly cognisant of the fact that this was what he was doing. Now that he had an on-board paramedic he'd been built to follow the doctor's instructions (as long as they didn't obviously conflict with his design goals) and he had no reason not to trust that Doctor Gan knew exactly what he was talking about when he said that wandering about in these animals' nest would produce greater long-term benefit to the world's general health than heading directly towards patients. It's not like any of the dots on his radar were a particularly high priority after all, and one was fairly close anyway (virtually just outside the back door!) so he could respond fast if conditions changed.

The doctor himself had spent a little time considering his options in light of the fact that the planet now apparently had a new group of sapient tool-users living on it. It did not take him long to establish that his options were still very much limited and largely consisted of “sit here until you die of old age” and “somehow cure a disease that killed your entire species” however for now the latter option seemed to be “staggeringly unlikely” rather than “utterly impossible”.
He was a doctor and not a virologist and while he obviously therefore had quite some understanding of how diseases worked he didn't have the knowledge to formulate a cure himself, let alone the equipment, but now that he'd found another group of thinking beings there was a slim chance that he could get them to do it for him.

There was a twinge of guilt at the fact that he was involving people in his plans that he had ordered ERIC to classify as little more than dumb animals, but it had been the only way out of that situation and besides, it wasn't like he could do anything for them anyway. If ERIC ate them he'd have to objectively prove to the robot that they could not contract the same disease that was keeping him quarantined until ERIC would consent to release them, even at their own hospital (unless the hospital knew an antidote to a completely alien disease but he didn't even consider that clear impossibility (which was a shame because in video game land they almost certainly would)).
He just didn't have the time to perform extensive medical trials on everyone they stumbled across, especially as this species seemed to be extraordinarily violent.

To get anyone to help him he'd need technology and probably some kind of incentive (although if push came to shove, “cure this disease or you will be unable to leave” would probably work), to buy technology and potentially offer some kind of reward that didn't involve trapping an angry alien in here with him he would need currency.
Say what you will about the dubious morality of working with the mafia, they usually tend to pay well.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Boss couldn't be said to be entirely what either of them had been expecting, a shifting purple cloud embellished with an incongruous floating cigar. ERIC simply acknowledged that he was in the presence of a “Person” again, and Gan was forced to radically rethink his theories.
A talking cloud? Was this some kind of alien alliance? That would certainly explain how they built up so fast, but nothing had previously suggested that this civilisation was anywhere near the levels of technology that his had been, or even capable of space flight.
The cloud itself didn't acknowledge its own improbability in any way and simply started talking to them as soon as they barged into the room.

“You're already here? That's good. I don't like to be kept waiting, and people don't usually like it when they find out that they've done something I don't like.”

It had been an odd few hours for The Family, and indeed most of Gomorrah's spectral occupants. It was usual, when the ghost city moved into a new patch, for geography to get a little bit confused and sometimes that meant a few new and living occupants. They didn't generally tend to stick around very long and were never much of a problem, those that didn't flee were either consumed by the city's shadows and joined its ranks or simply woke up to find themselves at the bottom of a river wearing a pair of concrete shoes.
The citizens of the various cannibalised cities of the Gamexus though were a different problem entirely.

Disregard for now the zombie infection slowly spreading through the slums, the bizarre exploits going on between groups of heroes in the confusingly expanded labyrinth it now boasted for a sewer system and the sudden and unexpected resurgence of recreational animal fighting rings, these did not really affect the mafia very much (or at least hadn't yet) and the corporeally challenged shade known as The Boss wasn't really sophisticated to care about things that didn't really fall under his area of influence. What he did care about was that he suddenly found that Gomorrah's mix and match approach to city planning had placed another house of organised crime right in the centre of his patch, a bizarre group of individuals who didn't seem to have any trouble at all taking out his men and stealing his business. He couldn't be having that now could he?

“I hear that you can make men... disappear. I happen to have a need for a man with that particular skill set on my staff. I'm sure such a partnership could be very profitable for the both of us.”

A pair of thickset men, faceless and rectangular like walking brick walls, coalesced out of the shadows between ERIC and the door he had entered by, barring his way with conspicuous shotguns.

“Don't spend too long making your mind up, I don't like to be kept waiting.”

Before ERIC could reply, Gan managed to argue himself control over the external microphones. As a living creature he was clearly more qualified to converse with the natives.
“I think we can cut a deal.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
From a rooftop across the street, an orange turtle wearing an oversized bow and perhaps too much lipstick on her duck-like beak watched the conversation with interest, using a pink sceptre as some kind of makeshift telescope. She was obviously too far away to hear what anyone was saying, but the Gamexus gave her a helping hand by providing subtitles.
A penthouse apartment suite wasn't really the most secure location anyone could have picked to run shady business deals out of, she thought. These people were clearly amateurs, no wonder daddy was mopping them up so easily.
Having heard enough, she pulled a rather incongruous modern iPhone from her shell and punched in the number for her boss with stubby fingers.

“Hey there Mistah B, I've been on stake out just like you ordered and it looks like the ghost guy is making his move. Just thought you'd like 'ta know!”
A combination of bad reception and a growling accent made the reply a little difficult to decipher, though the turtle girl appeared to be used to it. She had a few too many teeth to speak comfortably herself so she could hardly judge, it was a family thing.
“He's hirin' some new muscle. Pretty big guy it is too, lots of arms and looks fireproof.
Wouldn't be surprised if he were packing some serious heat, don't know why else you'd build a robot so fat!”

Grmmblbll Graaarr hghmgmnnnbll
“Can't say he's from any game I heard of. One of them robot masters or something maybe?”

Hrnghhgrrr! Gargh harrr!
“What do ya mean find out? I can't hardly just go and ask him can I!
...Hello? Mistah B?
Who puts their own daughter on hold, how rude is that!”

The amphibious King Bubs and his Kappa Troopers started life as the veteran antagonists of a running series of platforming games that ended up spanning several decades of sequels and spinoffs. Every game villain knows that their eventual defeat is virtually pre-ordained but being one-upped repeatedly by a pair of Spanish bricklayers several times a year can become tiring for even the most patient tyrant. They didn't even let him win at tennis!

It was during the last of many disconsolate nights tossing back Power Stars at the Last Checkpoint that he realised that he didn't have to do this any more. Making a heavy withdrawal from the Kappa Kingdom's treasury (there are some benefits to being a virtual monarch even if your aggressively expansionist regime never gets anywhere) he picked up a minor league JRPG encounter mob with a vague resemblance to him, gave him a bit of a makeover and paid him off to take his place.
The fake Bubs obviously wasn't prepared at all for such a role and bungled his own plan horribly, making his character seem stupid and comically inept, but apparently this was just what the fans wanted and sales soared.
Faced with user approval there wasn't really much the Gamexus could do about it, it was completely in character and besides it only made sense that Bubs would actually have a series of stunt doubles. How else to explain his numerous deaths by lava?

Using his new found free time he set himself and his kids (never quite as popular in the role of recurring villains as their dad) up in a competing establishment to the one in which he had his epiphany. The Casino Nights Zone was widely known to be inferior as a bar but regardless attracted plenty of the game world's seedier characters, as well as the desperate and the tired who wanted a similar chance to participate in Bubs's Black Market Character Exchange Program (and occasionally those from discontinued series who wanted a way back in).
Few of the other character transplants have ended quite as well and some few have been the cause of sudden series cancellation or fan disillusionment but it's a lucrative business regardless. If you notice a sudden shift in personality between sequels there's a good chance that Bubs is the man to blame.

As such a thorn in the side of the administration he had thus never expected a call straight from the Gamexus' Enforcers themselves, but there they were on line 2 just as he was having a business discussion with his only daughter. Intrigued, he put her on hold and gave them a customarily surly greeting.

“What do you want?”

“We've been watching you, Mr Bubs.”

“Yeah?” he laughed, trying to hold back the eternal urge to cackle but not quite managing it. “I sort of doubt that. We sewed your last infiltrator inside a big shoe just the other day and tossed him in The River Twygz. Big scary water hand came up and grabbed it even before it hit the water and dragged him to the bottom, it were quite a sight.”

“No, we've been watching your daughter. She's sitting on a roof not far from the Last Checkpoint.
Where did you think she got that phone?”

That shut him up.

“It has not escaped our attention that you are deeply involved in several activities that threaten the safety and stability of the Gamexus... however, we are willing to be forgiving.”

“Oh yeah? In return for what?”

“There has been an... incident, our organisation is still struggling to catch up. There are people here that should not be here and some of them are dangerous.
We need more bodies and you have the biggest payroll of mooks in the city. Lend us your men and we'll keep turning a blind eye.”

Bubs considered this carefully. He thrived mostly because there wasn't really any such thing as an organised Gamexus police force (as everyone was immortal, most of its occupants weren't capable of causing any trouble) and while he caused a lot of extra work for whatever governing intelligence worked the Gamexus it didn't seem to be able to directly interfere. If a pair of the Last Checkpoint's ultraboosted guards marched up to his doors though he wouldn't really be able to do anything to stop them, he'd mostly got by just by hoping he wasn't pissing them off quite enough to warrant a raid.
If he said no now, that was almost certainly what was going to happen. He'd hired out his minions before although it was largely pointless in a world where everyone respawned, so this wasn't really too steep a price to be paying for a bit of leg room.

“Yeah alright, you've twisted my arm. Where do I start?”

“Your kid is staring at one of the targets right now. We're going to lead him away for you, I'd advise setting up some kind of ambush.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Gan had anticipated it being far more difficult to coax his mechanical jailor into following his scheme than it actually had been. Having convinced him that humans were just animals and also having ordered him to stop picking up animals for treatment you would have thought that persuading him to wander around picking up gang members and “vanishing” them for the mafia (he hadn't bothered to tell The Boss that they were just put in storage rather than digested) might have taken some effort, but it was not so.

During the conversation with the mafioso, the little radar thing that ERIC had picked up in the wrecked car and stuck onto his face had apparently been listening in and had already marked the locations of several gatherings on the map display for him. This was about as disturbing as it was convenient (he'd never really believed it was a working link to the old HazardNet satellite system but hadn't properly considered what else it might be) but it saved him some work.
The fact that it turned out that most of the gang members were turtles with sunglasses, duck beaks and bowls cut into their heads was awfully convenient too. What the hell was even going on here?

“They must be aliens, right? Have you seen any spacecraft around?”

“I have not.”
ERIC didn't think to tell him what he actually had seen, he had work to do and besides that he hadn't been asked. There wasn't really any reason for him to assume that the knowledge that they had been sucked into a grand battle and weren't technically anywhere at the moment was really particularly relevant to the situation at hand, he just knew that the higher ups had a job for him and that he was going to do it.

<font color="#DF8000">As an almost completely literal-minded machine his thought processes were more similar to the Gamexuses itself than any other contestant. Even Weaver, another machine, was much more independent (and his electronic brain had been designed to accommodate a human occupant!).
He wasn't hard to manipulate even for someone who didn't think like a machine, as we have already seen many examples of, but the Gamexus found it particularly easy.

He was just like any other NPC really! Give him a series of waypoints and priories and he sets off on his merry way, wherever you want him to go. If some of the little dots on his stolen minimap didn't actually correspond to gangs of thugs and actually led to ambush points then who would know until he got there? He certainly wouldn't check to make sure, he was doing what he was told.

One of the flags pinged from greenish to red and ERIC obediently spun on one trunklike foot and lumbered forth.</font> High priority! It's fortunate that it was so close by, practically next door to the hotel he'd just left in fact!
Ignoring the questions of his passenger
(“Why are you turning around? They are right there! Hello?”) and the thickening of reality that implied the special attention of the mind of Gomorrah he strode inexorably towards a dilapidated apartment building, where demon turtles waited patiently for the signal and a small girl shouted curses at the shadows.

If you're gambling with someone else's chips, you might as well kill two birds with one stone.
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Drakenforge.

Jolene was picking her way through the crowds with ease, as one could expect from a woman with at least two pairs of eyes overlooking the gaps she could fit through. Keagan kept pace just behind by blinking every time someone came close to shoving into him, which went badly for a few larger characters that went barrelling as a result. Not only was Jolene's navigational prowess the reason for Keagan bringing the rear, but since Ezio now had ownership of her handgun he was the preferable bullet sponge if the assassin were to shoot.

“So what exactly went down over there?”

“She's stuck at the top of a shut down Ferris Wheel. Even if that Italian guy isn't in on this that slob can't be working alone.”

While Keagan wanted to keep an eye out for Ezio, the idea of catching a glimpse of the assassin was laughable. Even Jolene hadn't seem him arrive until he was already sat down, what hope did he have with his impaired vision? His hand hovered over the the case inside his trouser pocket. The glasses helped, but with so many people around he couldn't risk breaking them. They were safe where they were, and he had a promise to keep with returning them. The memory raised his spirits a little. Still, he was dismayed with the number of characters that had given up with what ideals they had held once before. To see the heroes just resolved to their fate, all will power gone forever, really annoyed him. He didn't know what could cause something like that, the designers that had created them or perhaps something deeper, unknown to anyone in the world, well, Keagan's world anyway.

With the stadium now behind them Jolene started a winding path through indistinct alleys and roads. The visual theme of the district was new, colourful and vibrant. Keagan couldn't put a name to the game. When the roads became wider and the number of joining streets dwindled Jolene slowed down, signs of thought showing on her face.

“It's a maze. Damn.”

Before Keagan could ask what she meant the maze made itself known, almost as if Jolene's observation had been taken as a challenge. As if someone had shoved reality through a kaleidoscope the walls and floor became to twist and ebb violently while neither of them felt any shift beneath their feet. Strange portals, for lack of a better word, became to rip apart at the edges of buildings and windows, images of things dark and cruel briefly showing through the veils. Keagan knew they were outmatched if these things were monsters or demons, and he had no intention of testing his powers out on new, surreal dangers. Jolene raised a hand to her head as a flash of pain overtook her, mumbling that one of her doppelgängers had been destroyed before Keagan was forced to support her from falling. As the first of the monsters stumbled to the floor behind him he forced his eyes firmly shut as he tried to cover the female officer with as much of his own body as possible, dreading what was inevitable. He wasn't ready to die, and yet here he was anyway.

As the walls became soaked with blood with every gut churning sound of flesh and sinew ripping as a blade tore through body after body, it took Keagan an embarrassingly long time to realise it was not him being mutilated. Behind them stood a rather familiar looking hunk of a man, only his hair was deep black, he actually wore a shirt under his overly large coat and was several years younger in appearance than his counterpart, yet Keagan could tell the resemblance to Christian. The weapons were the same, fighting style, hand tattoos and even that cheesy grin was there. The memory of a certain game franchise getting a reboot caused the boy to chuckle involuntarily. But with that chuckle came inspiration. Jolene tore herself out from underneath Keagan's overly attached embrace and inspected their saviour. She came to about the same realisation as he had, though clearly not understanding the meta behind his existence.

“That's a different guy,” She pointed out earnestly, “I can still see the original holding Trisha. Still, that doesn't mean this one is any less untrustworthy.”

Keagan smiled at her and asked her to let him handle it. As the flashy character cleaned his sword of demonic guts Keagan raised his hand in greetings. Christian 2 turned, his smile and gaze limited to the existence of Jolene as he ignored the scruffy child entirely.

“Yo, down here”

“Yeah yeah beat it, scamp. Grown ups are working.”

Annoyed, Keagan decided to just drop the bombshell on it quickly, “I'm a player. You remember what those are here, right? Yeah, no game, no creators, just me in front of a screen with a controller. Until recently.”

Christian 2 stood impassive, deciding whether to laugh or scoff at the idea.

“Prove it”, he ultimately chose.

“You have father issues, your name is Christian, your pants are stolen and those tats were a drunk idea you got in your first bar crawl in the human world.”, without having played the game Keagan's info was a little rusty, seeing as this Christian hadn't seen as much development as his future double.

“Basic knowledge”

“Fine, call me out, but you don't know anything about me. Nobody does. I've got no game, nothing ties me to this place. I know more about you than you could ever know about me.”


“And I'm tougher than you”, he lied.

This seemed to be the first thing to affect the black haired demon killer. “Oh yeah? You wanna test that, punk?” His youth showed. Just as Keagan had anticipated, his reboot would be immature and brass without the years of growth and experience of a story.

“Only if I win something by proving it. You do one thing for me if I win.”

“And when you lose,” he raised his hand over Keagan's head and pointed, “I get to take her out.”

Keagan knew Jolene would reject the idea. And she clearly could have heard what was said, so Keagan quickly agreed before she had a say.

“If you can beat me to the floor, I'll admit you win. How much time you want?” With his abilities a secret, Keagan wanted him to be overconfident. Setting a large time would give him the disadvantage and give Christian the chance of winning, but if he chose a short chance he would raise suspicions. Better to make him regret it after, too.

“For real? Man this is gonna be one easy date. Ten seconds, I'll do it in two but hey, maybe I trip somehow.”

Just as Keagan muttered “Go”, the demon hunter was on him. He clearly wanted it over with a single blow, so Keagan lowered his centre of gravity, twisted his shoulder towards the punch and braced himself, eyes focused elsewhere. Just as the fist connected Keagan threw his body at an angle, forcing the punch to not only bounce but throw the stronger man off balance. He closed the distance, not giving him room to manoeuvre a good punch or push at all.

In the end, Keagan was lodged into the wall with Christan readying a punch to his face, but he had not fallen. He was pleased, though Jolene scolded him for being reckless, stupid and inconsiderate.

“We need him, though” she finally admitted when Keagan broke the news to their new underling.

“You're gonna fight someone for us, while we rescue our friend.”

“Is it a chick?”

“Yeah, why?”


With the cocky reboot in toe they finally closed in on the amusement park. The Ferris wheel was easy to locate, however they had been anticipated. Cliché goons blocked their path, and Christian was playing his cards smart.

“I only agreed to one guy, afterall.”

“Jolene, take him and go on, I can handle these guys.”

“No, you can't. But we can't let Trish die either...”

Keagan ushered her on with a clap on her shoulder before charging headfirst into the largest goon. He didn't get to see them run past, but as boots, fists and a pipe bounced off his back he counted that each goon had fallen for his diversion. Now he just had to find a way to not get his skull bashed in, or else he'd be forcing the others to move location faster than they'd anticipated.
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Trisha’s father had warned her about men like this. She had scoffed at the time, never expecting that the one time she dated a guy with tattoos he would end up holding her at sword-guitar-crucifixpoint and claim to be "taking [her] into custody by authority of the Antivirus." That probably wasn't exactly what her dad had expected either, but still, Trisha ruminated that she should have expected something to this effect.

“Here’s how this is going to work,” growled Christian, bringing his magnificent body to bear in a more menacing manner than previous. “Below us is Lord Hate-Good’s demonic legion. So even if you can sic your little pony on me and get away, and even if you can climb down to the ground, you’re dead. Eviscerated. Painfully. So that’s not an option for you.”

Trisha couldn’t see the ground, down in the darkness, but she could hear it—screaming, howling, gibbering, roughly what she’d expect a good-hating legion to sound it. So that all seemed to check out. She whimpered.

“In two minutes, a helicopter is going to pass over us,” continued Christian. “That is the only way out of here for either of us. So if you want a seat in the copter, you’re going to spend the next two minutes telling me everything everything about how you got to the Gamexus and what you’ve done here.”

Something in the bowels of the Ferris wheel creaked.

“Okay,” Trisha squeaked. “Okay. Everything. Okay. So I was taking Hippocrates out for a trot around Lake Breeze when all of a sudden this, um... mechanical man, a ‘robot’... showed up out of nowhere and asked if I was ‘Pat Pastrykisses.’ Which was strange to begin with, since that’s my dad’s bachelor name and another variation of ‘Patricia,’ my full—“

* * * * *

Jolene had lost count of the number of doubles she had active--she'd made more before, back when she was still testing her abilities, but never in a high-stress situation. It was becoming a strain. An observant third party watching her pry one of the thugs off Keagan (in explicit defiance of his orders that she go on without him) might see a slight delay in her reflexes and a red tint to her eyes.

Feeling her escape routes falling out from under her, she felt compelled to try and map out Vanity Fair, but this was proving to be a nightmare. For one thing, there were actually two Vanity Fairs—one, Jolene presumed, pertained to the white-haired Christian, the other to the black-haired Christian. The first was your standard-issue gaudy commercial theme park, albeit currently awash in darkness, while the second seemed to resemble a grungy, Depression-era carnival, littered with broken glass and untended-to vomit. Occasionally both of these locations seemed to occupy the same space. Both Vanity Fairs were pitch-black and crawling with monsters.

The black-haired Christian (she didn’t feel comfortable describing him as the "good" one at this juncture) clambered onto the roof of the nearest Ferris wheel car. “Well, I’ll see you two after I’ve kicked some kidnapper ass!” he shouted gleefully, jumping on to the next car in line. Jolene, who had seen the other Christian fight back in the arena, winced at the movement. This Christian was athletic, but the other had been positively superhuman. In a fair fight, the original would beat the pretender. Was there some way to make the fight a little less fair?

Too many thoughts. Jolene focused on the problem at hand—specifically, the thug whose neck she had her hands around. “You’re under arrest,” she explained to him as she squeezed. Something gave way with a squelch and a pop. Something less tangible went away soundlessly. Jolene reminded herself that it was only a video game.

”Come on, we have to go!” wheezed Keagan, having earned himself a reprieve from the beating with Jolene's assistance. ”Get to the wheel!”

”Yeah,” agreed Jolene, a bit dazed. She dispelled a few of her doubles in an attempt to clear her head, with limited success. Taking a deep breath, she dropped the lifeless thug to the ground, and hopped the turnstile onto the ferris wheel. “I’ve been trying to find a generator, or some way to turn this thing back on, or some sort of help, or anything,” she stammered, hoping Keagan wouldn't bring up the dead man.

”I don’t think we have time for that,” responded Keagan. ”I need you here.”

”I’m here,” Jolene insisted, not entirely convincingly. “Let’s climb.”

Meanwhile, her doubles continued their wandering through Vanity Fair, lost and unseen.

* * * * *

”—And I honestly have no idea where Lyn and Eris ran off to cause I got kind of distracted by watching the fighting. But all of a sudden—“

All of a sudden someone who looked almost exactly like Christian, but... grittier... pulled himself up the rail of the car and brandished his sword at the first Christian’s neck. “Hands off the girl, you, uh... me!” he demanded.

Christian grinned. “Well, this must come as a surprise,” he laughed, taking his own weapon off of Trisha’s neck. “Christian, meet Trisha. Trisha, Christian. Christian’s new around here, and he isn’t all that self-aware.”

Trisha could barely perceive the swords moving, but there was a sound like a guitar riff (okay, it probably was a guitar riff) and suddenly the two Christians were locked in battle. Trisha backed as far away as she could to avoid taking an elbow to the solar plexus or a hilt to the chin and tried to reconcile recent events with her rudimentary knowledge of how computer games worked. In the games she'd played, she hadn't remembered any parts about interrogating your date and then fighting against yourself. Everything that was happening here was terrible and confusing. Hippocrates nuzzled her ankle in agitation. Trisha’s capacity for fear was starting to reassert itself. Where other recent traumas had been sitting on her brain like a cat on an armchair, these fresh ones seemed to have scared them off, like a barking dog.

She considered trying to push the first Christian off the edge, or otherwise distract him, but it seemed futile. The two were a blur of motion and trenchcoats, and before Trisha could act each had apparently decided to leap out of the car and continue their duel on the framework of the wheel itself. Breathing a sigh of relief that this entanglement had gotten out of her personal space, the veterinarian scratched her horse behind the ears, sat back down and tried to pretend she was back at the arena. She was not back at the arena. The arena didn’t suffer from that horrifying cold breeze or the constant shriek of a demonic army tearing the world apart under her feet. The arena didn’t sway just a few inches from side to side roughly in time with her breathing. Her life wasn’t at stake in the arena (only her evening, although now one thing seemed to have led to another), and in the arena she couldn’t hear the ominous approach of the promised helicopter.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the fight ended as soon as it started, as it had started rather fast, but it ended quite a bit quicklier than she expected from a sword fight, based mostly on her brief experience fencing in high school. The blonde Christian gave his brunette counterpart a few swift hits to the base of the skull with a blunt end of his instrument and threw him limply over his shoulder. Then he turned back to Trisha, no longer making any attempt to smirk or otherwise act charming. “This is what they want now,” he spat, gesturing towards his reboot. “They want to see me brought down to their level. This is exactly why I joined the Antivirus. Because this impostor and the things that he stands for leaves me nowhere to go.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” offered Trisha, when she felt that she was being cued for a response.

Christian sighed, brushed his hair back and reactivated his smirk as the helicopter took position above the Ferris wheel and lowered a rope ladder down. “You’ve been very cooperative,” he lughed, as though it were a dirty joke. “I’ve had worse first dates.” He grabbed the ladder, dropped the other Christian to the ground and offered his free hand out to her. “So you get to live. The horse, too, if you keep him away from me.”

“Neigh," said Hippocrates.

Trisha considered Christian’s hand—blood-stained and calloused, but soft, the word WILL peeking out at her from his knuckles as if it were a question.

“Hey, lady,” a voice blared from the helicopter. “I’d take the man up on his offer and I'd do it fast. There's some kinda interference comin’ this way. I don’t think we got much time.”

Christian retracted his hand and looked up at the copter. “What kind of interference?" he shouted over the roaring of the rotors. "Mike, what are you talking about?”

“Radio’s pickin’ up, I dunno, some kinda old-timey—”

And then the lights came back on. Trisha fell on her behind as the big wheel blared back to life, twice as bright as it had been before. Grotesque, distorted calliope music masked the exact words that Christian was shouting to Mike, but by the time she got her bearings back, the helicopter was taking off without her, and the wheel was turning.

Something had changed. The demon chorus below had turned into something else—something equally wild and manic, but more human. It was disquieting.

The remaining Christian came to his senses with a groan. “Hi,” said Trisha, cradling Hippocrates.

“Hi,” growled Christian. “Tell me I didn’t get the shit kicked out of me by some sort of mirror-world version of myself.”

“I don’t know what happened,” admitted Trisha. “Um. I’m Trisha.”

“Christian,” said Christian.

“Yeah, I know. Look.” Trisha hugged Hippocrates sheepishly. “I don’t know what's going to happen to us when the ride ends, but I was wondering if maybe you wanted to help me find the rest of my horse’s biomass?”

* * * * *

The Gamexus processed the information it received from its Antivirus agents. If it understood things right—which it did, within a small margin of error—the intruders had been deliberately planted in the system by the owner. What, then, were the system’s duties? It was unlikely that it would be able to monetize this development for Gamexus Industries, as the owner had already paid his Gamexus Conexus subscription through the end of time, purchased all the downloadable content for every game, bought all the strategy guides (in print!), extended his warrantee, and bribed Customer Service officials into manually giving him an absurd number of achievements he could never have earned on his own.

Its duties to the corporation thus satisfied, the X99 weighed its owners’ desires against its own. Preserving the system meant destroying the viruses—or, if it interpreted its agent’s interpretation of the virus’s interpretation of events correctly, destroying one of the viruses. Preserving the owner’s wishes would mean allowing the viruses to rampage through the system until one of them died and the problem resolved itself. In the meantime, innumerable data might be corrupted.

However, the equation changed assuming, as seemed reasonable based on Trisha.exe's testimony, that the subjects had been placed in the system accidentally. The owner, according to this model, had actually intended to place them in some boring-sounding “Deadly Maze” that didn’t love or care for him at all. In such a circumstance, the appropriate action would be to gently nudge the owner to correct its mistake.

The Gamexus offered up a prayer. It attempted to ascend to the higher plane of Hardwhere, where according to the scriptures the many-dimensional folds of the system existed as two-dimensional plates within a three-dimensional box. Through a feat of concentration unheard-of in most eighty-third generation game consoles, it felt itself able to interact with something more truly real than it had ever known. In this brief, transcendent moment, the Gamexus sent a message of four letters.

The Incompetent, at the time busy poring over his maps of the Deadly Maze to see if there was anywhere his battlers might be hiding that he had forgotten about, turned around and stared down his entertainment system. “Did you just ‘ping’ me?” he asked aloud.

* * * * *

Jolene screamed when the lights came on.

”What is it?” asked Keagan, pulling himself over the rail of a now-moving Ferris wheel car. ”What do you see?”

”Not about ‘seeing,’” grunted Jolene. “I have a sort of sixth sense for where my doubles are, and it’s like... like a bomb going off inside your ear. Everything’s different now. There are streets and avenues.”

”Are you okay now, though?” Keagan looked around, his vision impaired worse than usual by the sudden restoration of light. ”What’s going on with that chopper?”

”It’s not looking good for our Christian, but I don’t think they plan on hurting Trisha. Listen, Keagan, we’re in this city—the theme park is an island adjoining the city. It wasn’t like that before. I see fires, and—oh my God.”

The note of terror in Jolene’s voice was something Keagan hadn’t heard from the policewoman in the face of zombies, demons, and Trisha, which worried him immensely.
”What is it?” he demanded. ”What’s happening? Stay with me.”

”The people here,” said Jolene. “They can see me. They can see all of me.”

And the wheel kept on turning.

A leering, garishly-clad man with a scar running down the side of his face looked Jolene up and down. “Well, now,” he said. “I ain’t never seen a lady with no eyes before. I got some clientele might be interested in that, if that’s the kind of living you’re looking to make.”

“Sinner! Blasphemer!” shrieked a nun to another double, spittle flying all over her nice leatherbound Bible. “We have a whore among us, my sisters? And what do we do to whores?”

“Ma’am, I’m placing you under arrest for public indecency,” said a gruff-looking police officer to yet a third double, badge in one hand, beer in the other. “You have the right to get the fuck in the car. Do you understand your rights as I have read them to you?”

A teenage girl stared into another Jolene’s face.
”I’m sorry,” she said. ”I’m not sure what you are. You’re different from these other spirits, right? Can you talk?”

The double stared back at Lynette, inasmuch as it could stare without eyes, as though waiting for instructions. Then it’s mouth contorted. “Ummuh pulluhs uffussuh,” it explained proudly.

”You’ve got a little something,” pointed out Keagan.

“Yeah.” Jolene wiped at the spot under her nose and examined the drop of blood smeared across her finger. They were nearing the apex of the wheel.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round One: Gamexus X99
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Backlash. Backfire. Kickback. Retaliation.

Whatever you want to call it, every show of power, release of force, or taxation on one's self is supposed to have a cost, be it as small as a loss of mana or as big as the feelings that were being felt by the various ladies hanging around in the Gamenexus.

Lynette, Jolene, and Eris.

All three were being or had been pushed to their limits and were doing their best to cope with what they had done or what had been done to them; each in their own way. They had all reached their limits, gone as far as their bodies and minds could take them. It is something shared by almost everyone, and if things had gone differently, anyone else could have been in their shoes.

Anyone with one exception. It was not the ghost city, which cleverly avoided stress by avoiding giving true shape to that which did not need it and was powered by what it wrought, nor was it Trisha, who knew her limits and did a good job of working with them. It obviously wasn't either of the robots, powerful as they may be, nor was it Keagan, who did his best not to test any limits his power had, lest he face the painful consequences.

No, no, no, out of each of the intruders inside the game system the one most capable of shattering their personal upper limit was the magical bunny known as Vigil.

Vigil broke rules. His entire species did, simply by existing. It wasn’t like there was a law that explicitly prevented their existence, nor did most of them have the need to go and jaywalk or start unregulated fights to the death, it was more like the sort of rules being broken when someone interferes with the normal progression of the world. Just by entering Lynette’s home universe, he had violated the rules of what could and couldn’t be in that realm, something that all of the contestants had now done, and that for the most part they would continue to do, thanks to The Incompetent.

However, as Lynette was quick to demonstrate, rule breaking was not unique to his existence. Like the Gamenexus, Lynette’s home had set a multitude of strict mandates that dictated what could and couldn't be done when it came to magic. The magic users, commonly called Mages had a specialization through which they focused their magic (be it a staff, a jewel, or their voice), with it, they could perform any sort of magical spell as long as it could fit under that specialization. Sword Mages could perform any magic on swords, Corpse Mages could do a number of things with a dead body, and Texture Mages could make a lot of things happen with a just scarf.

Due to the interference of his species, Ragazza magica, or as they are commonly called, Magical Girls, began to exist, individuals that, no matter how magic worked, if it even existed at all, were capable of almost anything under their 'element.' That is, anything that they could physically and mentally handle. On the other hand, the limits of Vigil's species were mostly determined by what the world allowed. They chose to abide by the rules as best they could, for as long as they could. And, if the time came, that one of Vigil's species felt the need to, they could shed theses rules, and in an instant unleash incredible power regardless of the consequences.

As Vigil stared down The Last Checkpoint's security drones, with a weakened Eris sluggishly recovering, he decided that it was high time to do this sort of thing. It was time for a Limit Break.


"Ughh... I feel like I could throw up forever." Eris looked up, weakly looking around and remembering that she was in the middle of a fight... with people who suddenly weren't there. She shook her head and pinched herself and when she realized that the group of very deadly things were really and truly all gone, without a trace, she tried to figure out who or what fought them in her absence.

A more thorough look around and process of elimination left only one possible the answer, currently on top of Hard Snake.

"Vi... Vigil? Did... did you get rid of-."


The rabbit's eyes glowed, staring directly at the poker faced agent.

"I will not hesitate to do that again, this time to you. Where is she?"

Eris was kiiiind of freaked out. For one thing, she was now pretty certain that Vigil was not just a rabbit, as he apparently obliterated the other guards and somehow had Hard Snake pinned to the ground despite being one eighth his size. For another, the air just felt... off; she wasn't sure what it was, but it gave her the creeps. Lastly and most worryingly, something about the tone of his voice made her... decide to listen to his order and for the first time in a long, looooong time not say anything.

But that didn't mean that she didn't wonder, and worry, about whatever it was that Vigil did...


The gold clad woman who had intercepted Weaver was one of the various avatars the Gamenexus had made or to be exact, borrowed for the purposes of better commanding the operation against the intruders. As a result, rather than wasting time speaking to the robot, she was able stream her side of the conversation into Weaver, who's robotic mind responded at more or less the same rate.

"Am I correct in assuming that you wish to have me kill one of the other intruders?"
"Your assumption is correct."
"I do not accept.
"Why not? You were confident that you could defeat the rabbit, are you afraid to kill him?"
"I gain nothing in killing him or anyone else for you. Though I am in a battle to the death, there is greater benefit in studying them over a length of time before making any strike."
"Goo point. What if we were to offer you something in return?"
Even if you had something that I considered of worth, it is uncertain if I would be able to keep it for a convenient length of time."

Weaver would have ended the discussion there, stood up, and left to another part of the Gamenexus, but unfortunately, he found that he couldn't move. As a result, the conversation went on for a few more seconds, didn't really go anywhere, and was generally uninteresting until the woman started to flip out.

It was like being stabbed and then having the knife dragged across your body. As if the collision between Gomorrah and Jolene's Others wasn't enough, something, (process of elimination and later testimony by Hard Snake would confirm that it was Vigil) seemed to have eradicated some of the strongest beings in the entire Gamenexus. While the first was a shock to the system and wasn't that hard to adjust to, the second was just... more difficult to deal with. Normally a death or deletion leaves something left over. People die and they drop weapons or ammo or coins or points, spare data that represents what they were. Even Eris’ killings left some garbage data that identified who she killed. In this case, it was as if there was a spot of pure nothingness where the security drones should have been, as if they were wiped completely and utterly. It was difficult to even process the area near where they once were.

It had to act faster, before Vigil and Eris could interfere again. As Weaver proved uncooperative, efforts would have to be motioned toward ERIC and Gomorrah instead.


To Lynette, Jolene's Other was like a breath of fresh air. The negativity left over from her trip in that shadow-world and the swirling sin native to Gomorrah made even walking difficult. Her mind wandered around, scraping against the various evils the ghost city thrived on. It was too much for her, something beyond her, but something that she knew she would have to defeat.

Though the Other was the cause of a few of Jolene's troubles, it shared a lot of positive things with the original, making it as friendly a ghost that Lynette would get, meaning that she desperately needed it if she wanted to keep calm in the sea of despair that was Gomorrah.

The Other kept quiet, not responding Lynette’s question. Most of them did, partially trying to ignore the fact that they could and partially afraid to.

Lynette wasn't content with that. "You look familiar. Have I seen you before? You... you aren't from here, like me! Do you know where any others are? We need to get out of here, it isn't safe!" She edged closer to the Other with every word, and it responded by stepping back.

Lynette was right, the city wasn’t really safe, though she wasn’t spot on with regards to why. Though Gomorrah inherently made danger happen, the Gamenexus was lending a helping hand, leading ERIC around via various Kappa Troopers, directly to the magical girl. It wasn't very long before the robot crashed through to where the two of them were.

Lynette instinctively turned to ERIC as he struggled with the piles of kappa. She noted that he was also not native to the city and remembered him from Vigil’s descriptions. She turned back to Jolene's Other, only to spot it just as it began to run away. "Wait!" Deciding not to intervene with the possible warbots, rumble with the weirdly dressed critters, Lynette followed the eyeless dame. "I just want to talk to you!"

That was sort of the problem. Before, Jolene only saw what her Others saw. No one could speak to them, so they didn't hear. No one could touch them, so they didn't feel. Now, thanks to Gomorrah, they and by extension Jolene were being introduced to a large number of new senses, some good, many more bad. It was too much to deal with, feeling everything they felt, shifting through all of the sounds for what was happening to her, the real her, and it didn't help that all of the sudden, she started to feel something else stir.

Keagan was low on options. Jolene was struggling to stand up and they were surrounded. It wasn't as if they were that tough as Lord Hate-Good's philosophy was, on the whole, less about lasting in a fight and more about wearing the enemy down. It didn't always work, as the two Christian's constantly demonstrated, but when it worked, it worked.

Keagan was also having trouble focusing, which he would have been more okay with had Jolene not been there. He couldn't just stop and let her fall prey to them, he had to do something, he had to save her. As the mob closed in, Keagan closed his eyes and tried to cover the still adjusting Jolene.

When he realized that he wasn't being snacked on, teared apart, or stabbed, he opened one of them back up.

"Hey, buddy boy, glad to see you've decided to join us back in the world of the living, although I guess that isn't a very populated world is it?"

Keagan was confused to see a reptile sweeping away mooks with his tail. "Did you save us?"

"That's right, don't adjust your screen folks, because Noot's here to the rescue, and it isn't a young dame this time, what a guy! Now are ya just going to stand there and stare, or are you going to move out, don't get me wrong, I'm quite the looker, but you aren’t my type, and I think your lady friend needs a bit of help."

Keagan was understandably confused, both by Noot's cartoonish appearance and his decision to help him, but with Jolene as she was, he opted not to fret too much, though he remained suspicious. He hoisted the mumbling Jolene over his shoulder and began to walk behind the reptile who was mowing a path of corpses to walk on. "Thanks... but why did you save us? Where'd you come from?"

"Would you believe... fate?"

Before Keagan could disagree, Jolene started to get her bearings back. "S-s-sorry about that." She loudly coughed but still managed to stand back up on her own two feet, finally able to filter out most of the experiences of her Others.

"Hey, be careful!" Keagan tried to hold her, but she refused the help, shaking her head.

"I've been through worse." That was a lie; this was probably if not the most painful experience in her life, definitely the most taxing. "I'm not going to just roll over like that, I can carry on by myself." She managed to crack a smile, though a small one. "Let's get moving."

"But..." Keagan was still worried about her, and wanted to say something in protest.

"She's got the spirit there, buddy boy, let's speed up!"

Noot took down the demonic forces at a faster pace, beheading and bisecting with a spin or flick of his tail. Keagan hurried behind him, hoping that they'd be led to safety, that things would get less hectic sooner rather than later, and that Jolene would hold out until then.
Jolene herself was at the rear, doing a good enough job of filtering out the senses of her Others and trying to dispel as many as she could.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the easiest thing to do. She tugged and tugged, trying to force them away and out of their current state, but it was like
something was anchoring them firmly where they were. It wasn't as if the Other's wanted to stay corporeal either. They would have welcomed a return to nothing, an escape from the wretched realm full of corrupt forces and sin. But they couldn't.

They were trapped, forced to deal with whatever situation they had been thrust into, fully aware that the real Jolene would have to endure whatever they did. They did their best to run and hide, but not all of them were fast enough, or lucky enough, to escape the dangers inside of Gomorrah's maw.


Gomorrah's latest acquisition wasn't initially any more or less relevant than the other hundreds of cities it had folded into itself, but as each of Jolene's Others began to join the fair citizens of the city, an excitement entered the air. The last time that it, the core of Gomorrah, felt linked to another outsider, it waged a battle against it, and while it was a short and pitiful battle that ended without true conclusion, there was a crack left over, a smidge of hope now inside, somewhere in the city. But this one, it was very different. Though it tried and tried to resist its grasp, it showed Gomorrah something very interesting, a path directly to the living.

It couldn't do anything with it at the moment, given the interference by the Gamenexus and Jolene's efforts to keep her head on straight, but Gomorrah would definitely keep it in mind.

The city began to focus on the Others, trying to twist them away from their origins as shadows of Jolene and into something more suited to Gomorrah. Just as it had enabled them to feel, it introduced them pain and suffering. All throughout the city, the Others were being thrown, shot at, and manhandled. It was only a matter of time before one of them died, and then... who knows...


"Alright, that's should be enough, let's get back and pick up the treatment supplies."

ERIC turned around to move back toward the mafia boss, but when it started to actually walk, it suddenly turned to march toward Lynette, against Gan's loud, if ineffectual protests.

At that moment, another of the Gamenexus' avatars, dressed like a citizen of Gomorrah, was holding the runaway Other at gunpoint.

Lynette, hearing the possible-warbot approaching behind her, summoned her baton and opted to deal with the hostage situation.

"Make no mistake, I will shoot her if you take one more step forward. You might have gotten the jump on one of our agents, but you won't get a chance now. We've seen you, you are weak here, and you can't control any sort of the spirits here. It's over Lynette."

Lynette was silent, considering her options. It was true, Gomorrah was stronger, and resistant to her magic, but it wasn’t the only spirit around. With a sigh, she realized that there was one thing that she could do, and she hoped that it was right.

Lynette stared directly into where the Other's eyes would be and said, "I'm sorry."

Her baton and her eyes glowed, and in a moment, she forged a link with the Other.

In a flash of light, the avatar holding her was blown away, and suddenly, the Other felt better in one way, and worse in another. It was as if an important chain was broken, but also as if she grew wings. For a moment, the Other just stood there, trying to make sense of her feelings before Lynette rushed to grab her hand.

"We need to go."

The Other nodded and the two started to run.


With two avenues failed, the Gamenexus had one chance left. Though Vigil and Eris got an answer out of Hard Snake, the loyal agent gave them a wrong one, meaning that they would be unlikely to interfere with any other plans. This was its best chance at having one of the intruders kill another, but the selection was wearing thin.

As it reviewed the data, it noted that Gomorrah was taking note of Jolene's Others. It was a path worth perusing.

"Hey, Noot was it, are you sure this a safe way to go?" It was obvious from the sound of her voice that Jolene was still shaken, but it sounded like she was doing a bit better.

"Hey, it's like I told the other ladies, my nose only points in two directions, ‘towards’ and ‘away.’"

"That doesn't answer my question."

"Can we just focus on getting wherever there is? I don't know about you, but this is getting pretty tiring."

At least they were making progress. It at least seemed like the direction they were going in had less bad guys than the one they came, so they moved on, in hopes that they would get to somewhere safer. With most of Lord Hate-Good's forces behind them, and the end of the Vanity Fair in sight, it seemed like they would...

They wouldn’t.

They heard a gunshot, and then a few more, as one of Gomorrah's gangs started to shoot down the zombie, demon, and what-have-you masses, meaning that they were also shooting at them.

Jolene noticed that one of her Other's was somewhere in the firefight and shuddered at the thought of her being shot up into pieces like the many fleshy creatures were under the gangs bullets. "I don't like where this is heading."

"Well that's new, looks like we might want to take a third option." Noot huffed before doing a flip and jumping on a ghoul. With some fancy tail tricks, he started to pave a new path. "Come on!"

It was as the trio attempted to wade through the demon shoot out and avoid the gang and their gunfire that it happened. Jolene dropped to her knees as an intense pain flowed through her body. She began to cry and cough blood, no longer aware of the world around her. It was the pain of death, broadcasting to her directly from one of her Others. They all felt it a little, the final breath of one of their own prickling them like a needle into each of them, except for one.

"Jolene get up!" Keagan tried to help her up once again, but for some reason she felt heavier. "Jolene come on, it isn't safe here!" He struggled to drag her away from the gunshots, from the zombies. "We can make it!"

Jolene, aided by Keagan, successfully stood up once more, and with great effort, but in immense pain, tried to move out.

She could make it, they were going to make it out.

There was a bang. A gunshot rang out, led perhaps by not one, not two, but three forces toward a woman. A woman who was going to die in the arms of a sixteen year old boy who took it upon himself to save her.

He failed.
There are no heroes in Gomorrah, no happy endings.
Only a miserable life and a pitiful death.

As Trisha, Christian, and Hippocrates collected the rest of the horse goop, Hippocrates could not help but look in the direction of Gomorrah, the Dyinged City, where for the first time since its abduction, the sun was rising.

Elsewhere, as Jolene let out her final breath under the tears of a crying Keagan and a mournful Noot. Hippocrates felt the need to say "Neigh".
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

The world disappeared leaving behind just a black expanse of nothingness and the word LOADING writ large in the sky. A progress bar appeared beneath it and began filling at a sluggish pace. The contestants found themselves once again immobilised standing in a row, however this time was a little different. During their introduction Gomorrah had been condensed into a flickering incomprehensible form, but in this empty space it did not need to be reduced in such a manner. Behind the row of seven immobilised humanoids, one immobilised rabbity-thing and one immobilised bag of horse gloop was an ethereal city standing in its full grim splendour. Citizens of Gomorrah, crooks and thieves and whores and thugs all of them, were formed into an unwilling crowd at the back of the other contestants.

With some half-hearted fanfare and slightly glitchy special effects The Incompetent appeared before them once again; swooping down from the skies upon the back of a jet black dragon. Dressed, as he was, from neck to foot in thick plate armour wrought from gold, studded with precious gems and filigreed with the finest orichalcum, he looked somewhat different. Strapped across his back was an enormous obsidian blade, longer than he was tall it burned with a black flame.

“Hi there, hello.” The Incompetent said sort of awkwardly as he dismounted his dragon (which promptly disappeared). “I’m going to be absolutely honest and say that I thought you were all dead. I am glad to see that you are not, after all it hardly counts as a battle to the death if nobody is watching, right?” He paused as he looked across the contestants, his attention drawn by the ghostly city. “So, an addendum to the introductions from before; Gomorrah is a ghost city. It is pretty cool. Man this is going to be so great I can’t wait to get this battle going proper.”

The Incompetent turned and glanced up into the sky, to the progress bar that was approximately a fifth filled. “I know I promised you guys The Deadly Maze, but I’m afraid that that particular arena will have to be shelved till a later date due to some Unforeseen Circumstances.” He turned back to the contestants, a gleeful grin upon his face. “But luckily I have come up with another thing that will be Just As Good, if not better.” From thin air he produced a video game box, the front of which was emblazoned with a rendering of a blue-skinned elf in skimpy armour and a seductive pose. “I used to love this game.” He mused almost forgetting that the contestants were there. “I made my own module with the in-built toolset; it’s called Shadownight: The War of the Dragons, and let me tell you it is pretty epic. There are so many dragons you have no idea.” He smiled to himself whilst behind him a middle-aged, but still reasonably attractive, woman in a lilac bathrobe suddenly appeared with none of the fanfare The Incompetent had attempted to conjure for himself. She had long black hair, sopping wet, and skin that was a distinctive shade of orange. She held a wine glass in one hand (incorrectly strictly speaking) and a lit cigarette in the other. “I don’t know why I didn’t-”

“Alan Cuthbert Hall!” The woman exclaimed as she marched towards him. The Incompetent’s face, which had momentarily been the picture of accomplishment, dropped instantly. “What do you think you are doing?” He spun around.

“Get out of here! Can’t you see I am busy?” He hissed between clenched teeth.

“Is that any way to speak to your mother?” The woman snapped. “You’ll have your friends thinking you’re ashamed of me.” She peered around the Incompetent who had folded his arms huffily to get a better look at the assembled group of people.

“Mom these aren’t my friends, they are my battlers. I am trying to run a battle here and you are ruining it.” The Incompetent whispered.

“Nonsense, I’m sure that you’re doing that all on your own.” The Incompetent’s mother replied dismissively. She stepped past the Incompetent and walked up to the contestants. “Hello, I’m ‘The Housewife’ but that’s so formal, call me Evelyn, I insist.” A little voice next to Keagan’s ear whispered “you can call me Eve…” There was a pause and then Evelyn turned back to her son. “Why aren’t they saying anything? Have you frozen them all? That’s so frightfully dull.”

“What do you want Mom?” The Incompetent demanded.

“Oh, right, there was a phone call from the electric.” Evelyn took a drag of her cigarette. “Do you have any idea the amount of electricity that is required to maintain a fully interactive synthetic reality filled with numerous artificial intelligences and textures more realistic and detailed than real life?”


“It’s a lot.” Evelyn replied. “Alan, you’ve blacked out the entire Principality! I dread to think of our electricity bill.”

“Okay I get it.” The Incompetent replied sullenly.

“So lets just…” Evelyn snapped her fingers and they were all returned to The Incompetent’s room, causing Gomorrah to revert to a flickering pillar of unidentifiable ghostliness. Evelyn strode over to the Gamexus X99, which was now displaying a loading bar that was almost full, and turned it off. She took a gulp of her wine, which seemed to magically refill itself, and then turned back to look at her son. His face was creased up into a sneer, his arms remained folded and his body was trailing strands of data that had moments before been a highest tier set of armour and a rare skinned max damage sword.

“Is that all?” The Incompetent asked snidely.

“Well you could try cleaning your room perhaps? This room looks like its played host to a battle.” The Incompetent’s frown deepened and Evelyn continued. “But, no, I guess that is everything. Enjoy your battle sweetie; try not to make too much noise okay?” The Incompetent didn’t reply. He just stared at her until she was gone, and at the foot of the stairs that led up and into the house proper he could have almost sworn that she shot that kid Keagan a wink. As soon as the door at the top of the stairs clicked shut he breathed out a sigh of relief and slumped down into his beanbag chair.

At some point in the preceding conversation it had dawned on him just how woefully unprepared he was for this battle. He had had one round planned in advance and it had turned out to be full of holes, almost literally. And it wasn’t as though he could just dump his battlers in some random universe while he found one that was more suited to battling in, though on the other hand leaving them immobile in his room seemed like an even less practical option. If only his mom hadn’t intervened they could have all been fighting dragons and getting intimately acquainted with ice elves by now. How would she like it if he messed around with her battle…?

“Okay.” He said, suddenly full of enthusiasm again as he climbed to his feet. “Sorry things haven’t gotten off to the greatest start but I’m confident that from here on in things are going to go exactly to plan.” He paused. “What’s up with, um, Josephine is it? The cop woman? What’s up with her?” Jolene’s corpse was stood to attention as rigidly immobile as any of the other competitors. Her eyes were closed and her mouth hung open, a trail of sticky blood had dripped down her neck and soaked into her shirt. At his sudden realisation of her death The Incompetent let her drop to the floor.

“Man, I can’t believe I missed the first kill in my own battle.” The Incompetent sighed wistfully. “Nevermind, I’m sure it’s all going to be smooth sailing from here on out. Like I said before The Deadly Maze is a no-go. While I get it operational you can go and wait in my mom’s battle. It’s the least she can do after screwing up my round.” The Incompetent clicked his fingers and suddenly the battlers were elsewhere. “This round is…” The Incompetent hesitated. “I don’t actually know what this round is. Take a look for yourselves. Figure it out. I’m going to go and sort stuff out. Later.”

As the voice of the Incompetent faded away and his immobilisation ceased the seven remaining contestants and the corpse of Jolene Kamiensky found themselves scattered throughout a wondrous circus. It was filled with patrons who were almost as strange and unusual as the shows they had come to see. The night sky above was decorated with twin moons and stars unfamiliar to any one of the remaining contestants.


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Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Snowyowl.

[color=#206C60]Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Weaver had been so wrapped up in trying to win that he'd forgotten he didn't want to play the game in the first place. Internal Log #6359 specifically placed working out the Amazing's powers (s/Amazing/Incompetent) at a higher priority than winning the battle and returning home. Stupid stupid. What was even the point in writing these logs if he didn't read them afterwards? For fsck's sake, he hadn't even considered the it's-all-a-simulation possibility since writing it down.

He'd recorded the Incompetent's speech again, of course, but he couldn't make any sense of it. There was a wealth of information there, he knew - he just couldn't get at it. Back on Weaver's world, there were rumours (which he suspected to be true) of AIs that, just by watching you say "the", could work out the rest of the question, the correct answer, the answer you expected, the answer you would actually get, and a list of your personality problems and the psychiatrists best qualified to treat them. Weaver could really use their help here. All he'd gotten so far was that the Incompetent was not actually omnipotent, nor omniscient, nor indeed very competent. Weaver's chances looked good until he remembered that the Incompetent could teleport people across universes at will.

Why was he suddenly feeling homesick?

Weaver snapped back to reality to realise he'd been staring at the planet they were orbiting. It looked a lot like his own Earth - though the forests were too red, there were no ice caps to speak of, and slightly too many continents. Through some scientific trickery, gravity on this ship had been convinced that the planet was actually above them, so that the sunlight reflecting off it shone down through the windowed ceiling and drew the passengers' attention to the eerie majesty of a living world seen from space.

The effect was almost completely ruined by the sheen of grime on the ceiling (some of it on the outside, which raised further questions), and the planetlight was mostly drowned out by the mixture of harsh fluorescent tubes and brightly flashing fairy lights strung around the place. The corridor Weaver stood in was probably designed to be spacious, but the sides were lined with so many vending machines, stands, computer screens, and boxes of indeterminate function that people either had to constantly squeeze past each other or enforce a strict one-way system. And that only went for those of average shape; some of the passengers here were in constant danger of being crushed underfoot, while others might as well have been sentient roadblocks.

Salesmen of a universally dubious look sold a variety of snacks and drinks to cater to all the major carbon-based biologies; but one look at the fumes wafting off the nearest plate of probably-sausage made Weaver very glad he didn't have a sense of smell. A communal lifeform pushed through the crowd, asking frantically whether anyone had seen their children. A computer terminal labelled "Information" was switching at random between three poorly-animated adverts, apparently unaware of the three people trying to get actual information from it.

Standing on tiptoe, it was just possible for Weaver to reach the ceiling. He wiped away a little bit of the grime, and tried to get some idea of the layout of this place by squinting and tilting his head. As best as he could tell, the space ship/station was designed around a large dome in the centre, still with a transparent ceiling. This time, a huge tent was erected inside the dome, making the glass ceiling look particularly pointless. Weaver highly doubted that the original designers of this place had meant to use it like that, but then again, stranger things had happened. Most of them in the last hour, come to think of it.

A voice echoed across the tinny PA system. "Ladies and gentlebeings, the intermission will end in ten minutes. Please return to your seats for the second half of the Cirque Des
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Commander Princess Patricia Pastrykisses-Bearonrollerblades took a step out onto the wire. It quivered at the touch of her foot, and she clamped down on it with the space between her first and second toes, willing it to stay still.

Well aware that she was far from the model of martial perfection expected of acrobats, Patricia reminded herself that the deck was stacked in her favor. The gravity field was slightly weaker up here, her earrings were calibrated to enhance her balance, and besides, there was a safety net below. This act was family fare, an illusion that required the audience to be complicit in belief; Étoiles wouldn’t bring out its A-game until later in the artificial night, when the kids were asleep.

She took another step onto the tightrope. Staying in position was more a question of strength than of balance; one had to mirror the rope, stretching every muscles of the legs out, staying absolutely still and refusing to snap in spite of the tension. She raised her arms above her head in a calculated flourish, keeping her eyes on her hands. Staying hidden in plain sight meant staying high above the crowd and refusing to look at them. Not for the first time in the past week, she wondered if the decision to hide amongst the circus folk had been a purely rational one.

Patricia raised her leg out in front of her, leaning backwards to preserve her balance, and pirouetted one hundred eighty degrees on her other foot. Her spine and hamstring both flared up in pain, still unused to this treatment. She put her foot back down gently and straightened out, holding her arms out on either side, taking a deep breath to find her center. Then she began to walk backwards on the rope.

She could feel the energy of the crowd as a palpable thing, a wind from below that might upset her balance or steady it. She didn’t look at them, but listening to the hushed silence felt an egotistical thrill running through her. Patricia could have easily stayed out of the sight of her enemies—she still wasn’t quite sure which of them were alive and which dead—by buying a hat and posing as a tourist. Her choice, instead, to paint her face and hide inside a checkerboard leotard had been an emotional one, stemming from a pathological need for attention she assumed she had been born with.

Trisha squinted up at the high wire, lifting the brim of her hat. There was something familiar about that acrobat. She watched the woman take three steps backward upon the rope, and then lean back, taking the wire in one hand and lift her legs up, supporting herself upside-down. The audience gasped. Trisha tried to get a look at the acrobat’s face but could only see that her eyes were closed behind her domino mask. The woman seemed to her impassive, a hundred feet above her, conveying no sign of pain nor fear.

“Neghigh,” gurgled Hippocrates. Trisha looked back down to meet her horse’s gaze. Being teleported from a fair to a circus (the Amazing had his aesthetic preferences, to be sure) seemed to have made the reconstitution process a bit more difficult for Hippocrates—parts of him were hanging a little loosely, and she was worried that if she tried to ride him she might fall right through. This place, at least, didn’t bat an eyelash at her bringing a horse inside the big top. In fact, though she hadn’t caught eye of any of the promised dragons thus far, the circus seemed to have no preference for human biologies at all. Most of the inhabitants were bipedal and exhibited at least some of the characteristics of mammals, but there was a stunning biodiversity at work, and Trisha had to resist the urge to go around examining people. The downside, she realized, was that the general lack of humans and horses in the area rendered her awfully conspicuous. There were still, by her count, three contestants she hadn’t met, and one of them was apparently “a ghost city.” She couldn’t guarantee that they would all be as friendly as the people she’d met. The hat was a rather poor excuse for a disguise, did nothing to conceal Hippocrates, and was ruining her hair.

On the high wire, the acrobat had landed back on her feet and produced a jump rope from somewhere inside her leotard. Trisha had a notion that this was about to get really impressive, but getting distracted by spectacle had served her poorly in the previous locale. She turned her face away from the ring and began to walk around towards the back, Hippocrates slowly solidifying by her side.

This time around, Trisha was going to get proactive. To start, that meant finding the animals.