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

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

Nevermind, not able to write coherently right now
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagen.

Eris blinked, and suddenly found herself in a very small, very cramped, very fluffy area. Pushing out with her hands she managed to rip through the shoddy stitches holding her itchy prison together and escape. At the sound of children screaming, she looked down from where she was and noticed that she was on a shelf, surrounded by giant stuffed animals. Ignoring the “I nevers” and “Please ma’am, let me explain’s” going on around her as well as the screaming that was still going on, Eris jumped down from the shelf, grabbed a bowling pin from the midway game she had been trapped in (picking one up lifted them all, showing that they were one solid piece, much to the scammers eternal shame had he been watching) and clubbed both the worker and the arguing mother over the head.

“Now that they’re quiet,” she said looking at the still screaming children with amusement, “maybe you should go through her pockets and get more money for the games? Sound like a good idea?” She gave the tiniest of mental pushes to the kids, who suddenly forgot that their parental unit was slowly bleeding on the ground and rifled through her pockets looking for change. Attention diverted from her for the moment, Eris looked around and found that she was in a corridor lined with stalls, each containing a probably-rigged game. The people (they all at least looked smart enough to be people) were packed in, some trying to just push through to the other end to get out, others waiting in lines for games, forming living walls that slowed movement to a minimum, and others calling out to attract attention and that “every round has a winner!”

Looking at all the prizes on the shelf and seeing that none of them were moving, Eris figured that Vigil, despite how close they were before, was probably back with Lynette or at least somewhere completely different than she currently was. If I was a bunny boy, where would I be? Do circuses have petting zoos? She shrugged. I’ll just have to look for him, and maybe have some fun on the way.

Besides the recent barfight, Eris hadn’t been around so many people who didn’t know about her in years, so a small touch of chaos was just the thing to liven the place up. Walking through the crowd, Eris put her hand on anyone she could reach and gave a small push, sometimes mental and other times physical. Cigarettes appeared in the pockets of children, sticking out just enough that a parent might notice. Men holding a date’s hand suddenly had the scent of perfume and a small lipstick stain on their necks while next to them women who were alone became flustered. Tentacles and feet were stepped on and apologies weren’t had by any. By the time Eris reached the far end of the midway and stopped to look behind her, there was a winding path of fights and arguments breaking out that led directly to Eris. Considering her job well done, she turned and bumped into someone that she hadn’t expected to be there, frowning down at her. Too many years of running had led Eris disliking when she was being noticed that way. Her efforts could be seen all she wanted, but having strangers frown at her afterwards made her wary. As such, she decided it was best to proceed cautiously.

“The hell is your problem, jerkface? Can’t you watch where I’m going?”

“I’ve seen where you’re going, and where you’ve been,” he said pointing to the brawl breaking out behind her. “I haven’t met all the others yet, but one of us is supposed to be short, heartless and delight in chaos. You wouldn’t happen to be her, would you?”

“Listen guy, I’ve got my own set of problems now, and I don’t care about yours. You’ve got the wrong chaotic entity, and I’ve got to find a weirdly powerful rabbit before one of us says something you’ll regret. And where do you get off calling me short?!”

The man stooped down to her, baring his teeth. “Are you part of the battle, or aren’t you, pipsqueak?”

Oh. Well that changed things. He shouldn’t have called her short again. Eris took a deep breath, and began crying loudly. Everyone in the midway was too busy to notice, but those outside of it did. At first everyone’s thoughts were “it’s just some spoiled kid who doesn’t want to listen to her dad.” Until they heard what she was saying. “Don’t make me go with you, you’ll just try to touch me again! Waaaaahahaaa…” Disgust and protective instincts began to kick in for any parent who saw and heard Eris, and an angry set of intergalactic mothers and fathers began to head their way. Apparently not noticing the scene they were causing, nor the angry crowd heading toward them, he grabbed Eris’ arm and began to drag her away. Before he could get too far, however, he was stopped by a wall of righteous parental anger. “Let the little girl go, or you won’t like what happens.” “I won’t like what happens? Listen buddy, you don’t know who you’re dealing with…” He let Eris’ arm go anyway, sensing that he might have to beat some sense into these simpletons, and Eris stepped away, flashing him a roguish grin before vanishing again into the crowd.

Rude and stupid. I hope that jerkface gets what’s coming to him. Eris forgot about what was clearly another contestant in another battle and returned to looking for Vigil somewhere in the crowds.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Essere Ragazza magica!
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

She was dead.
W-was she?

No. It wasn't her body, it was Jolene's. But that's who she was, right? Even if she was an 'Other Jolene,' that didn't mean that wasn't still her... or did it?

The final Other Jolene looked at her body, still solid, forever(?) changed by the powers thrust on her. She was shaking, scared, and it didn't help that her only companion in the world was struggling to stand.

As she looked at the girl who had separated her from the main Jolene, breathing heavily, and collapsed on the wall of the alleyway, she realized that despite the many questions on her mind (chief among them being 'What did you do to me?'), the only thing she could say was, "Are you okay?"

Lynette honestly wasn't sure what the answer was. Her head was spinning, her hands were shaking, and she had done something to the woman talking to her, but she wasn't sure what it was. She was just so tired.

"I'm sorry, I didn't think that... aah."

So weak.

She just couldn't keep this up for much longer, at least not without Vigil. She would have to do that. Even as she struggled to stay conscious, she still loathed the idea of turning back to normal, especially when she wasn't sure what it would mean for... her. She stared at the other Jolene, closed her eyes, and hoped that this was the right choice.

Her body glowed, and all of the sudden, she lost a commanding sense to her. Lynette lost her orchid dress, purple pants, black gloves, shoes, and tiara. As the glow faded, her hair turned to black and her eyes dulled, as did the rest of her body. There once more, was Lynette Spettro, dressed in her normal grey uniform. A white blouse, a grey jacket, a darker grey long skirt, and her boots. She was still weak, but she felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

The Other Jolene wasn't sure what to make of that spectacle. "What?"

Feeling her head clear, and her strength return now that she wasn't powered, Lynette gave a giggle and a small smile. "Oh, didn't you know? I'm a Ragazza magica."



Vigil had been tricked, or something. If he ever saw Hard Snake again (as unlikely as that may be) the encounter would probably end in something much worse than death. The small rabbit was angry, not just at the video game character, but at The Incompetent and at himself. Now, not only was he separated from his ward, but he had also lost track of the embodiment of chaos that was Eris, and everyone else. He had lost focus, of the battle, of what he had to do, and because of that, he was alone in... wherever this was.

Vigil observed his surroundings, a small, colorful room, with a few plush animals, make-up, and a few scattered clothes. Where did that oaf say we were? Vigil closed his eyes and recalled The Incompetent's words.

Wait, did he say his mother's battle? Once again, the rabbit cursed. Another one of these? This is worse than I thought...

Vigil took a deep breath, focused, and began to make his way to the door. "I need to get help, find someone from around here."

As if on cue, the door opened, and a young girl was shoved through. The door slammed and the person on the other side yelled something to her, "I'm sorry Princess, but I can't let ya out, that lass may have the rest o' the dem fooled, but I don't trust her, she's behind this, I know it! This is fer ya own good."

Landing on her tush, the bright-red-haired girl, wearing a blindingly-pink(?) dress with more frills than seemed possible, started to slam on the door, "Let me out Yoel, you are wrong!" A better look at her revealed that the girl was less human than Vigil thought.

Galatea Paroxysm was the star child of the Cirque Des Étoiles, not the main star of course, but definitely one of the more well-known mascots of the show. The girl's four blueish, scaly arms were covered in colorful bands, each of which did different things, like glow, sparkle, or flash. Her aforementioned dress (with the frills and the more frills) was colored in such a way that when perceived, it was difficult to pin it down to a single color, that was commonly called "vaguely pink." It had no sleeves and flowed into a short skirt, under which was red tights, colored similarly to her hair, and pink slippers. Said ruby red hair was in two drill-like curls, kept far from her cute face and her two solidly pink eyes.

"Aaaarg." The starlet gave up on her banging and with a puff sat against the door, bringing her eyes very close to her visitor. "Who are you? And what were you doing in my room?" The second sentence had a bit of an accusatory tone to it, but overall it was said in a cutesy, diabetes-inflicting manner.

Well, I can't say that this was the sort of help I was hoping for... but I suppose I'll have to work with what I've got.

Vigil stood up on his hind legs and decided to address the girl on somewhat more equal terms. "Hello there, my name is Vigil."

Galetea stood up in surprise, "YOU TALK???"

Breathe in Vigil, they always do that, you've been through this.

He stared upward at the statuesque circus girl, "Yes, I talk. I do a lot more actually, but that isn't important, I need your help."

"Woah, woah, woah, Mr. Bunny-Man, I am a staarrrr." She jingled as she lifted her arm into the air dramatically. "I can't just help anyone. Without any explanations. Or reasons." She paused for a bit, thinking a bit about why she couldn't help Vigil, "Oh, and also Yoel locked us in here because he's a paranoid jerk."

Vigil sighed, "I would prefer that you call me Vigil. And please, reconsider, it is about my friend, she needs my help and I can't find her without someone else's help, in this case, your help."

Galatea walked across the room and plopped herself in her chair, "I dunno... still feels a bit fishy, like you aren't telling me everything," she spun around a few times, staring at the ceiling, "Sides, it doesn't matter if I say yes, because we are stuck here!"

Once more, Vigil sighed. This was always the hardest part, and as he hadn't any time to prepare, he would have to either spin this (which he loathed to do, tricks never have a good conclusion, no matter what some of the others might say) or tell the whole, complicated, esoteric, ridiculous truth. To him, the choice was obvious. Despite his worry for Lynette, he hoped that she could stand to be without him for a little while. If he was going to get help, he'd get it the right way. "Well, it's a long story."

"Welllll," The girl looked aside as she elongated the word before giving Vigil a sly smile, "I guess I have got time."
Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Though the alley the two were in was dark, it was not enough to hide Other Jolene's quizzical face (or to be more accurate mouth). Pulling up the normalized girl, she asked, "What does that mean?"

Lynette was still getting used to her lack of power (How long was I transformed for?) and did her best to stand without leaning on the Other Jolene. "I'm still not sure, that's what Vigil called it. I guess that basically it means I can transform and then use magic to fight bad guys."

Carefully helping the weak girl walk out of the alley, the Other Jolene struggled to come up with a response to the girl before settling on a "How'd that happen?"

Starting to walk with some ease, Lynette began to move a bit quicker, "Well, it's a long story, but I guess we've got some time, huh? It all started the night I met Vigil..."


"And that's it." Vigil finished his tale and awaited the reaction, whatever it may be. He hoped that he had made the right choice, but worried about the world where he didn't. He looked up to see Galatea not in shock, but in contemplation.

"Okay, so, your kind turn girls into Ragazza magica, magical warriors who fight those who invade their homes. One such being kidnapped you, and separated you from your current ward, Lynette, who needs you, so now you want to turn me into one so that I can help you find her and also maybe fight things that might invade the circus."

Vigil wasn't really expecting that, "Uh.. ye-yea..."

"Alright then, I just have one last question, why? Why does it have to be a girl?"

Vigil sighed, "Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be a girl, it can be a boy or neither too. The issue is more of... potential."

"Potential? Well I suppose I do have the potential for pure greatness, don't I?"

"It isn't that simple..." Vigil pauses to think of how best to explain it, "Okay, think of your life as a river. There are twists and turns but it has a start and and end, even if it collides with other things along the way. Sometimes, the river will split into two ore more paths, but at their core, they are still the same river, flowing along their destiny. When we turn someone into a Ragazza magica, we divert the river into a new path, which in this case, is easier to do near the start of the river. We could hypothetically empower older people, but doing so would take more energy than it is worth and usually deal a lot more damage to their origin universe, damage that we are trying to prevent."

"So, does that mean that any invaders also divert these rivers, on a larger scale and stuff?"

"Yes, that's why we have to be careful with who we turn as well, if we make a mistake..." Vigil opts to not finish that thought. "Sorry, it's fi-."

Galatea claps her hands and smiles. "I think I'll do it."

Vigil leaps on to the girls desk and stares directly at her. "Are you sure?"

She nods in response. "Yes."

Vigil's eyes glow. They glow bright, blindingly bright, until they are all she sees. She closes her eyes and and begins to feel relaxed, more relaxed than she ever had before. Slowly, she feels something well up inside her, a power, slowly crawl into her and spread out. Her body begins to glow. The glow spreads outward, to her multiple arms, legs, fingers, hair, until her body is covered in it. Gone are her frills and pink and bands and sparkles, all replaced by the glow.

Then the transformation begins. It begins from the bottom, with black shoes that seamlessly fade into the dark blue of her new pants, which above the knee turn to white, the two meeting in a zig-zag pattern. Meanwhile, the fingertips at each of her arms turn to clean white gloves that similarly segue into the dark blue sleeves of her form fitting shirt, the torso of which is in a spotted pattern of the blue and white that makes most of her outfit. At the center of her outfit lies a black ring with her symbol inside. Her neck becomes covered in a grey-blue ruff that connects with her black jesteresque hat, concealing her hair. She opens her now duller, purple eyes as the final piece, a white mask, appears.

"Woah." The new Galatea Paroxysm looks over herself, inspecting each bit of her new outfit. "So what are my powers or whatever?"

Vigil leaped on to the new Ragazza magica's shoulder, "You should be able to figure it out, just focus on your power."

"Alright, if you say so." Galatea closed her eyes and cleared her mind, focusing the magical energy that now flowed through her. She lifted out a hand and created a white ring. "Oooooh." She swished it around, moving it up and down in an arc. "Alright, let's get that door down!"

With a flick of her wrist, the ring flew in the air, colliding and breaking through the door, knocking it open. "Woah!" She gasped at her accomplishment, "I didn't even throw it hard..." The ring returned, having completed its mission. She stared at it with wonder. "That was AMAZING!" Galatea leaped into the air, much to the chagrin of the rabbit on her shoulder. "Wow that was great, how did I blow open the door just like that? Jeeeeez! Well, no sense lollygagging, let's gooooooooo!"

Without another word, she dashed off, closer to the performance area. As he hung on as hard as he could to her shoulder, Vigil worriedly wondered what he had gotten himself into.


"And then we ran away..."

The Other Jolene had been listening intently to Lynette's tale of fighting magical things and eventually her family, intrigued and sorrowed by her plight. The double tried to comfort the girl on the bench that the two had found and sat at after Lynette started to tell her long history. "Wow... You've been through a lot."

Lynette was doing her best not to cry, to be strong even if she wasn't a Ragazza magica. Would she ever see her family again? She didn't know, but she had to have hope, didn't she? She looked up at the Other Jolene's sad, understanding face, and she closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around her.

The Other hugged back, still quite unsure of where to go from here, but trying not to focus on the death and sorrow and tragedy, but on hope.

Unfortunately, it would be short lived. The Other Jolene saw something, (or did she feel it?) a ghostly something, far in the distance, (was it closer?) looking at her. She wasn't sure what it was, but there was a familiar feeling, one that she did not want to reconnect with.

Tapping Lynette's back, the Other Jolene motioned for the two to move away, maybe look at a show or something, do something, anything, that would get them away from here. Lynette didn't have to know why, she just had to get far away.

Too bad there wasn't anywhere far enough...

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by -Benedict.

It's very difficult for a city to smile. One generally needs a mouth for that sort of thing, or at least the sort of coherent motivation to feel happiness. So ordinarily, a thing like Gomorrah wouldn't bother. Not worth the effort, usually.
But it had been some time since the last time it'd killed someone properly- a real person, something that wasn't already under its control. So long since its presence had been so fully realized, since its power had run unchecked through its host. It was exhilarating- and it's very difficult for a city to be exhilarated.

And if it weren't similarly difficult for a city to feel immense, crushing disappointment, it most certainly would have felt such an emotion in the moments following.

Everything evaporated. Blackness enveloped the world, and the creations of the Gamexus flickered out of existence as if they'd never been there in the first place. Steelwork and masonry vanished without a trace, leaving behind an immense crowd of shades. They were confused, for a while, before they started fading out of existence, no city to support them. Those that remained stood and watched for a bit, transfixed by the blackness around them. They didn't pay very much attention to the man on the dragon, nor to the woman who appeared and talked for a time.

Then the void was replaced with a cramped bedroom, and Gomorrah began to shrink, and then all of a sudden it was motionless.

And all of a subsequent and entirely different sudden, Gomorrah was at the circus. If it had known to expect things, it'd have thought something like "That was unexpected." It had tasted circuses before- plenty of people, plenty of chaos, but altogether too much joy. It wasn't ready to make itself known, and it took in its surroundings before deciding upon an appropriate set of shades.

It was in a large tent- to call it a tent was perhaps to do it a disservice, because it was really more of a stadium that just happened to have glimmering cloth- was it cloth? draped over the top, magnifying the shimmering starlight above. Down in the ring, a variety of extravagantly dressed people led strange alien beasts in an acrobatic performance. The crowd was ablaze with excitement, with cheers and shouting filling the air with mirth.

Gomorrah was going to have to do something about that. For the time being, it began to remember- it remembered a baseball game, between the home team and their rival players. It remembered the hostility in the stands, the cheers drowned out by opposing boos whenever someone hit the ball. It remembered loudspeakers crackling as commentators apathetically worked the crowd. It remembered the grime and stench that drifted from the halls, the pickpockets who made a few people's day a little worse. It remembered it all, but had to stop itself. It couldn't stretch itself too far. Its appearance would undoubtedly cause a panic, and while panics were generally great fun, they had a tendency to end. It'd have to take things slowly, at first.

It started to really Remember, and a small part of the city came alive. Bill Bisbano sprang into being, wheeling his hot dog cart around the tent and cursing his low supply of mustard. Nick DiAngelo appeared, disinterestedly droning about his three-penny cotton candy. Bill shot an angry glare at Nick, despising the teenager for filling up the crowd and stealing his business. A host of other competitors emerged from the shadows and began to peddle peanuts and other snacks. A few empty seats filled up with spectators, many of whom felt no reason to respect the stadium's prohibition against alcohol. Gomorrah decided to avoid remembering the baseball players, and its spectators were perplexed for a while before drunkenly gaffawing at the three-headed Goggwheggler from Begbon IV. A few more shades appeared, composed of formless smoke. Perhaps they would have seemed out of place, if people hadn't already resolved their xenophobia regarding the sentient gas people from the Lolor system.

The hard part was done, so Gomorrah began to work on the minds of the audience. They were enraptured by the show, amazed by the wonders taking place in the ring. That was no good- Gomorrah started to numb them, slowly taking away their enthusiasm and replacing it with boredom. The joy, bit by bit, was being drained from the southern end of the tent. Gomorrah was beginning to spread.

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

When confronted with death, people feel fear. It is an understandable reaction that nearly all sentient creatures share. Humans are unique in that they fear not only their own deaths, but can fear the deaths of their companions.

Those that die leave behind survivors who have to bare the burden and move on. Those that fail to save lives must wonder what else could have been accomplished, if only they had known or acted faster.

Keagan felt none of this.

Even as the tears fell, even as her blood seeped into his clothes, even when he was torn away from her now limp body and relocated twice, Keagan felt empty. There was no honour in being a hero that failed or simply being a boy that survived. Eventually the emptiness found a substance to fill the void. Anger. He now knew that whatever Gomorrah truly was, it had to be eliminated. After that, the orange fool would be next. He already had a vague and crazy plan to kill both of them.

He dried his tears, put his glasses on and managed to search his surroundings. He wasn't alone.
She stood there, staring at him. She showed no feeling of surprise or fear, not even curiosity. They both simply stood there, staring. She had recently showered, he could tell, and was halfway through getting dressed. If she noticed his brief look at her flesh she didn't show it, but Keagan turned all the same. She seemed contempt with that at least as she continued dressing. As he heard the fabrics move he allowed himself a small peek, taking in more this time. What he saw was not flesh, though he hadn't been hoping for that, but instead was a large scorpion tail. At first he assumed it was a prop or costume, since he appeared to be in a dressing room. But they way it would swerve from side to side, or move aside to allow for her clothes seemed far too prehensile for it to be fake.

This girl was not normal. But Keagan was surprised by his own lack of, well, surprise.
When she was finally dressed she took a seat, her tail curving around her waist to rest on her lap.


As Keagan turned to address her she lunged forward, quickly stabbing him in the chest with her sharp reptilian spiked tail. He was slammed into a wall while the tail failed to penetrate his flesh. This at least seemed to get her attention as she applied even more pressure. Keagan was unused to the feeling of slowly being crushed, but his power seemed able to compensate. After she seemed to have exhausted her full strength she instead kept him pinned. With a proper chance to look her over Keagan noticed her short yet wild bronze hair, her almost glowing aqua coloured eyes and an outfit that reminded him of the pattern of a bumblebee. It matched her tail. The costume left very little to the male imagination, helped along by her curvaceous figure.


“I guess you've earned a chance to explain yourself, never met a brat that could hold up this long,”

He briefly considered telling her the truth. He couldn't play off his sudden appearance without causing himself trouble.

“How much time do ya have? It's a long story. And very, very bullshit.”

“Long enough, I'd think.”

So he told her. From his selection, to meeting Jolene, all until the moment he stood in her dressing room. He managed to avoid telling her about his power, or the events that would sound impossible to survive without it. All the while she didn't react, she just kept staring at his face, possibly judging whether he was lying. There wasn't much chance of her believing it all, but Keagan was already between a wall and a very strong opponent. His chances weren't getting much better.

“That is one heck of a story, I'll give you that. Truth or not I think you've earned a little freedom.”

The pressure on his torso lightened as she retracted her tail. He rubbed at the point where the barb had failed to pierce his skin. His finger kept away sticky. This girl, whoever she is, was more dangerous than she looked. And she looked pretty damn dangerous as is.
She sat once again, this time letting Keagan stay where he was.

“So your friend died, that explains the blood. You've got six things left that could try and kill you, not to mention you don't know the layout of the circus, and there are other new guys who can try and screw up my job.” She sighed, finally showing a single sign of dropping her guard. “This doesn't seem like something the manager could handle. And there are very few exceptions of things they could not handle, I tell ya.”

There was a knock on her door, causing her to look sidelong at it. It was quickly followed by a voice calling “Ten minutes, Pepper”

She stood again, moving across to a small desk that held an array of make-ups along with a mirror. She tutted at her reflection as she started adding girly things Keagan had no understanding of.

“Listen Kid,” She said between applications, “You've got a shit hand dealt but way I see it it's none of my business. True, I did just try and kill ya, but I won't be the last today I reckon. Whatever kept you alive just know better keep happening for the next hour or so.”

As Keagan opened his mouth to respond her tail lashed out. It stopped a foot or two before his face, causing him to blink in automatic response. But the stinger never connected, but he felt a sharp burning sensation in the back of his throat. His eyes opened in shock as he began to gag. When he tried to focus on her, all he saw was her reflection in the mirror, her eyes deadly focused on him. As his mind figured she'd used it to target him, poison him, he could only wonder what she planned.
All her words that he remembered suddenly began to dull, his body becoming numb almost like an instantaneous fever was ploughing through him.

“Hope you got good reflexes kid, She said standing over him, belts of knives wrapping around her figure, “'cos I hate it when my targets get squeamish. It scares the audience.”

As his mind went blank, all Keagan could focus on was his plan, his solace, his last resort. He needed that girl with the rabbit. He needed to kill that spectral city.

He needed more power.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagain.

There was no explaining it, she just didn’t know what went wrong. Having run from Jerkface, she wound up hiding among a bunch of children of different races on a twelve-tiered carousel. Even with their parents watching over them, she had still managed to get all of them to start fighting one another when Jerkface managed to track her down, and all she had to do was join the fight for him to pass her by while muttering about “ungrateful brats” and “chaos freaks”

Going from there, she had run again and ended up outside of a giant stadium with something that looked like a cloth of light stretched over it. Once she got in, it would have been easy to hide again among all the people, except she needed a ticket that she didn’t have and couldn’t afford even with the money she had lifted off the unconscious mother back in the midway. Last, and worst of all, something had yelled “there she is” and Eris, assuming that she was the “she” in reference, had ducked into the nearest stand to hide yet again. Deciding to take a look out the front of the stand, she had been accused of trying to steal food and had to convince the lackey behind the register that no, she wasn’t stealing food, she was a new employee and didn’t know what she was supposed to do since it was her first day and all, and would he please point her in the direction of the manager and then shut up because your voice is too whiny and nasally for talking thank you. Even after she had found the manager, who wasn’t surprised when she claimed to be a new worker, things had gone downhill, with one exception. Now she was standing in an uncomfortably itchy uniform that made her look like a salesman who felt like he could sell a marching band to a town, listening to people argue with the cashier, listening to the manager arguing with the people arguing with the cashier that “we don’t take intangible currency, even if it is legitimate in your system, you can just go find an exchange booth, and no I can’t change how my cashier sounds.”

At least there was cotton candy, which she was making. Put in charge of the cotton candy machine (some foods really are universal), Eris was actually slightly in her element. Pulling wisps of spun sugar wasn’t quite how she made it normally, but to her cotton candy was cotton candy: a staple in any chaotic doing. Left to her own devices, she would have simply created it out of nothing, and could potentially have eaten several times her mass in the sugary substance. Except no, the manager told her, it doesn’t matter if you can do that, we have inter-galactic health standards to maintain and you’ll be out of here faster than blinking if you mess with it.

Of course, that wasn’t going to stop her. Fun was fun so long as it was chaotic, and she didn’t really work there anyway.

Dipping her candy handle into the machine, Eris finished the last off the sugary fluff that had been running when she arrived, and glanced around to see if she was being watched. It was time for some batches of candy that were guaranteed to attract attention, chaos, and at least one chuckle, and maybe get Bunny Boy’s attention if he was nearby. She began to scoop cotton candy again, even though the machine was running on empty. Clouds of the sugary substance began forming, and that’s exactly what they were: candy clouds. Of course, one batch like that wasn’t going to be enough. Reaching back in, she abandoned the pretext of the handles and began to pull clouds of chaotic confectionary out in giant strands by hand, shaping them and placing them on trays to delay suspicion. Done with clouds, she pulled hand over hand to make various other flavors: a light blue that looked delicate but was made of solid ice, a light red that would burn the tongue off all but the most hardened spice-eaters, a row that she affectionately deemed “condiment candy” in flavors ranging from deep red ketchup to white horseradish, as well as a basic pink that didn’t have any special flavor but would put a drop of chaos in any that ate it (spreading chaos takes time, and the midway fight would’ve burnt itself out by now anyway).

Shouting that she was going to grab more coloring, Eris grabbed her palette of cotton candy clouds and walked out the back of the tent, throwing them one by one into the air, where they seemed content to drift, slowly pooling together to form one giant cloud. Eris grabbed a spare cone and tossed it lightly at the cloud, which started to rain onto the tent and attracting the eyes of beings that were generally desensitized to the usual ploys of food venders to attract customers. Grabbing her dye pack for her alibi, she walked back in time to be grabbed by the manager and placed onto a register. With a “we’ve got enough stocked and you need to learn every position,” the manager walked off, leaving Eris to deal with her first customer: a sullen and slightly grey Nick DiAngelo.

“What do you want?” Eris wasn’t the cheeriest salesperson in the multiverse, and she’d be the first to admit it.

“Listen kid, I need as much three-penny cotton candy as you got, I’m fresh out. And hurry up, because if I don’t get back in the stadium, people are gonna buy other food and I’ll be out my paycheck.”

Eris glanced at the price sign: the smallest size they had was still more than three cents. She thought so anyway, there wasn’t anything on the sign that looked like a recognizable number to her. She decided to guess. “We don’t have any three-penny candy, this stuff is like, super expensive. But I’ll tell you what…” She beckoned him closer. “We’ve got a batch that’s off-color and can’t sell even though it tastes fine. If you take it off my hands so I don’t get in trouble, I’ll let you have it no charge.”

Nick pretended to think it over. Selling free candy meant that whatever he didn’t have to hand over to his own boss would go straight to his pocket. It wasn’t even a question if he would take it, it was as good as his. “Sure thing kid, just because I’m nice. Throw in one regular one too though, since I’m doing you a favor you can do me one too.”

“Done,” Eris said, grabbing one of her chaotic-pink ones and passing it to him. “Just meet me out back and we’ll get you what you need.” Ignoring the look of the other cashier at the suggestive nature of her comment, Eris abandoned her register, snagging all the condiment candy as well as a few more chaotic ones, she walked out the back of the tent and handed them off to Nick, wishing him luck and turning to go back into the tent, running face to face with her “boss.”

“Whatd’ya think you’re doing, giving stuff for free? And what did you do
to my recipe? It’s been in my family for years!”

“First off, that stuff wasn’t right. It’s my first day so I messed up. He was taking it off our hands so we wouldn’t have to throw it out. And secondly, what recipe? You said it was all standard or something!”

Silvio DeMarco closed his eyes and looked up, begging for patience. His hadn’t been in town long, and he was trying to make a clean profit in a new place. That his father had worked for the mob was a past he was trying to escape by trying to be a confectioner like his mother, but it was hard going against the idea that candy was ‘for babies, and women’s work too’. Without his father’s support, he felt like he was going nowhere in a hurry, and thought he might have to take after his old man after all. “Listen kid, my family’s been selling this stuff for years, and if we don’t turn a profit, we’re gonna get shut down. We almost couldn’t afford to pay the Boss for protection last month, and I sure as hell don’t want to miss paying him this month. Secondly…” He opened his eyes and gaped at what was taking place above his stand. The cotton candy cloud was now pouring down on his tent, causing it to sag in places, and staining the fabric in general. He let go of Eris and grabbed his hair, threatening to pull it out. “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?!”

“What? It’s just chocolate! All pink cotton candy makes chocolate milk, you want a different rain, give me a different color to work with! And it’s bringing in customers!”

“And ruining my tent! Kid, when they find you, there’s not gonna be enough left for them to tell what you were. I’ll make candyfloss outta you!” He looked down to grab Eris, but she had run off again. All he caught of her was her cackling in the distance.

Inside the stadium, Bill Bisbano wasn’t doing so well with his sales. When he ran out of mustard, and then ketchup, people stopped wanting hot dogs. And that penny-pinching cotton-candy peddling customer-thief was back. At least his sales weren’t doing too hot either. Customers took one bite of his stuff and spat it back out, demanding a refund that Nick wouldn’t give them. Others saw this and stopped buying cotton candy completely, leaving the way open for peanut sellers and popcorn pushers to move in on both their territories. Bill decided to go have a gloat and followed Nick to a bench in the corridors surrounding the thater, where Nick was eating his own cotton candy.

“Tough day at the game, chump?”

“Shut it Bill, I just got some bad cotton candy today is all, I’ll leave you in the dust tomorrow. What’s your problem, hot dogs get all cold?”

“No, ran out of stuff to put on it. What’s wrong with your stuff? Looks like your normal low-quality crap to me.”

Ignoring the jibe, Nick popped a bite of his own candy in his mouth, talking as he chewed. “Dunno, mine tastes fine, and I got it from the same kid. They all complained that it had a weird taste, kind…of…like…” His eyes widened as he chewed, an idea forming that was so crazy it just might work. “Bill, listen. I don’t like you, and you don’t like me, right?”

“Damn right.”

“And you’re out of toppings? Ketchup, relish, like that?”

“What’s your point, kid?”

“People’ve been saying my stuff tastes like that. Yellow is mustard, red is ketchup, that sort of thing. What if we worked together for the day to make some more money? My cotton candy on your hot dogs?”

Bill glanced at the bags of spun sugar doubtfully. Grabbing an open bag, he put some yellow fluff on a hot dog and took a bite. It wasn’t terrible like he thought it’d be, in fact it tasted just like a dog with mustard should. “Kid, if we can sell this, you’ve got a deal, just for today. After that I hate you, you hate me and we go back to how things were.”

“Deal, old man. I just wanna make my pay.”

There was a slight change. If a city could feel confusion, Gomorrah would’ve felt it. It was expanding beyond the stadium, and had already taken over several concession stands, putting in its own owners and remaking the tents into facsimiles of small mom-and-pop shops. There was one where a pink raincloud kept washing off the changes made, but the Lolorians (who had a fondness to anything mostly air) were slowly eating it. The tent would be replaced with an aged confectionary before long. If it had been as large as it had been not long ago, it would have brushed the sensation off. It was different from the ghost-girl, but Gomorrah was small still, and there was something it felt. A sense of wrongness came over it in the stadium. It had taken all the joy of the circus away, but somehow fun was coming back. It wiped the fun away but people were still changed, and the fun was slowly growing back. A weed that only had the top pulled while the roots festered, and those roots had to be burned away. Focusing on the stadium, Gomorrah began to change things back to the way it wanted. It was harder than it should have been, but only marginally so.

Its people were cheery, it took that away until it noticed that what they were eating was causing the change. It replaced it. Tracing the food back to the vendors, it found that they were…cooperating. That wouldn’t do. It tried to change them back, but only one, Bill Bisbano, would. Nick DiAngelo would not. It saw the cotton candy, and felt the chaos inside it. It was not chaos Gomorrah knew, and not the taint of the ghost girl, nor the chaos that comes from crowded places like a circus, but a new chaos. Nick would take time to change back, to burn out the foreign chaos in the ghost, but no matter. There were dozens like him, all dreary and wanting to get ahead in life. It removed Nick and put another in his place and had a trashman sweep the now-discarded candy away and throw it down one of the stadium’s trash chutes where no one would eat it. It knew Nick DiAngelo's life like a record, endlessly repeating to the point where it could have played his life itself. And it had, many, many times. Something had changed, though. Where had he gotten the tainted food? It looked, and saw a small girl, winged with a small crown on her head. She was not one of its creations, but something outside. If Gomorrah could have, it would have been frustrated at seeing something that it was on the edge of recognizing but could not. It would remember though, if such a thing happened again. For now though, the problem was resolved, and Gomorrah again turned outward to continue its spread into the circus.

By the dumpsters behind the stadium, one of the shadows formed into a child. A homeless orphan girl dressed in rags: Little Amelia, and she was starving. She jumped up and grabbed the edge of the dumpster, slowly and strenuously pulling herself in. After rooting for a minute and eating the remains of a chip bag and the corner of a burger, she came across a large bag of bright pink cotton candy. She remembered times when her parents would give her a penny to go down to the corner and get herself a treat if she had been good or just to get rid of her for an hour, but that was before mommy had killed daddy for hitting her (sometimes it was daddy who hit mommy and she would hit her head too hard when she fell, or daddy hit her so she ran away, or mommy took her frustrations out on her). That candy was hardly a fraction of the prize that lay in front of her now, and she didn’t know if something like this would come along again soon, if ever. She tore open the bag and began shoveling cotton candy into her mouth as quickly as she could.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

“When were you planning on telling me this?”
ER/IC's recording of The Incompetent's opening speech played itself back to an incredulous audience for the third time but didn't seem to have made itself any less ridiculous. Back at home the presence of alternate universes had already been all-but confirmed even if they were yet unreachable and theories about what forms interdimensional travel and the people they might meet during it might take were hardly uncommon in works of speculative fiction but... that didn't really make any of it more easily believable to Gan.
Or less frustrating.

By all rights he should probably have been upset at the loss of the last link to his homeland, as far as he was concerned it had only been a couple of subjective weeks since everyone had become sick all at once, but all he could bring himself to feel was anger.
Not only was he stuck inside a walking box that refused to do anything he asked it to do unless he worded it in increasingly roundabout ways (did it not realise there weren't going to be any hospitals around that could serve his patients?) and not only was it hiding important information from him when it knew he was making plans (literally none of what he had just accomplished had been to any good, he was never even going to see any of those people again!) but the only reason they weren't where they should be in the first place was because they were supposed to fight for some cosmic child's amusement? Well, fuck that!

“You didn't ask”, was all Eric bothered to give by way of reply, and as far as he was concerned that was reason enough. What did any of that have to do with what he was supposed to be doing? He was starting to think that his self-appointed onboard paramedic didn't really know what he was talking about, medical license or not.
None of his detours or suggestions had ended in any kind of positive progress and had taken up a fairly substantial level of valuable patient space, though worryingly he couldn't quite tell where everything he had ingested had got to now. There was a faint feeling of... something, but not what it should have been. Perhaps it had been jumbled around a bit when he was shuffled between worlds.
It would probably sort itself out.

But yes, things had been delayed long enough that he had been transported somewhere else entirely and thus lost all of the scant information he had managed to gather about the previous city, especially as his new GPS system had vanished in a very tiny explosion mere seconds after arrival, effectively placing him back at square one. First priority was therefore going to be fixing this.
Perhaps worse though was that the transition clearly meant that one of the strange people he'd watched earlier had been killed, which was a fairly large failing on his part and another mark against following anyone else's plans. Much of what The Incompetent had said, Eric had simply ignored, but that part had seemed fairly relevant to what he regarded as his place in life and though he was not really capable of any strong form of resentment, he did not appreciate the fact that Gan had kept him wandering around for so long that he'd only sighted one of them, and completely failed to do anything about how he knew there was likely to be danger. That was far from efficient.

As it did not seem like his one conscious passenger was likely to stop plotting out loud to himself any time soon, Eric put him on slow for a while in order to devote more processing power to the important act of looking around, startling a couple of a couple of people who had mistaken his previously motionless form for one of a long line of colourful vending machines.
What they thought he might have supplied, heaven only knows.

Still muttering darkly (and unaware that he no longer had an audience), ERIC's unwilling passenger stomped his way over to the casually scattered pile of captured kappas and aimed a fearsome kick at the nearest one's shell for the purpose of stress relief. They were chronolocked after all, it wasn't as if they were going to feel it or suffer any ill effect whatsoever.

He'd fully expected to bounce off an impervious surface and possibly even bruise himself a little (it was a similar careless action that had got him incarcerated in the first place), so he was fairly surprised when he actually met no resistance at all. So surprised that his momentum carried him forwards and downwards, tumbling through several more intangible reptiles and slamming into the ground. Dislodged pixels scattered in all directions, bursting into algebra as they impacted against any real surface until Gan was once again almost alone in the nebulously defined space of ERIC's interior (save for the other two silently frozen members of his race, a robot arm and a boy).
Stunned to silence he heaved himself off the ground and took stock, fortunately nothing wounded but his confidence and peace of mind. What the hell caused that? Was there something wrong with ERIC's interior?

The two other Khral mercifully did not explode when cautiously prodded with one pseudopod, however the juvenile human seemed to have turned into a fine purplish mist while Gan's back was turned. This was mildly disconcerting as time should not have been moving in its relative area but did at least provide useful grounds for conjecture. The other two members of his kind had been here the whole time, but everything brought from another world seemed to have destroyed itself since they had left. Was this just a normal effect of interdimensional travel? Presumably ERIC and the other “contestants” would be protected in some way...
Why it left more corporeal evidence of its previous life than the kappas had was another mystery.

This left Weaver's severed limb, which also still seemed to be entirely tangible (and fairly obviously artificial, why were they carting this thing around again?). He recognised this from their Host's introductory speech though, and it was not from the same world as him or from the one they had just left.
Wasn't its owner meant to be some kind of genius? If he couldn't find a method to create a cure (something he'd never been particularly confident about) he could at least perhaps get someone with the right skills to “persuade” Eric to let him out. Could they use its arm as a bargaining chip perhaps?

Maybe he should have been thinking along those lines from the beginning, he'd spent too long already pandering to the artificial “feelings” of a machine.

The vending machines had been arranged in some sort of market area, many small booths scattered in front and around the sides of a single, much larger tent. The crowd was fairly thick (Eric noted with mounting optimism a fairly wide variation in species, not quite to the extent of the selection presented by the Gamexus but the more species of person a place was able to treat the more likely they'd have someone who knew something about Xenobiology and could finally take his burden off his metaphorical hands) but fortunately proved far more willing to get out of his way than the previous one he had encountered. When not coerced by the angry ghost of a city most people had a sensible aversion to self-propelled balls of metal and Gomorrah's influence had yet to extend much further than the walls of the tent it currently occupied.

That said, Eric did still have to exercise some care and as a result was moving forward a little slower than he would have liked. It would have been dangerous and impractical to take off here (especially considering he didn't have any form of map) but the delay was not something he appreciated in the slightest. As an emergency response unit designed for natural (or artificial) disasters he was not used to having to wait in traffic, as it were.
It had not yet occurred to him that he could simply ask for directions to the nearest medical tent (though he was likely to be disappointed at the facilities provided once he did) so he alleviated this irritation by craning his neck high above the heads of the circus-goers to try and spy out some kind of helpful sign. It meant that he could only really clearly see the surrounding people's heads but as they were generally moving out his way anyway this didn't seem like it was going to be an issue.

The theory would have worked too, if everyone had been looking where they were going and nobody had been short enough to pass under everyone else's heads. Alas,
ERIC wasn't the only member of the crowd relying on most people's ingrained reflex to move out of someone else's way, or the only one who wasn't really paying the utmost amount of attention to what was in front of him. Or her, as it were.

The candyfloss vendor had actually stopped chasing her fairly quickly, he knew he couldn't keep up and couldn't afford to let his other incompetent employee man the whole store on his own for any length of time, but she hadn't found it particularly hard to pick up additional pursuers as she went. It would practically be a crime to run through a crowd without unleashing a torrent of underfoot marbles or setting the individual notes in a man's wallet flapping into the sky like butterflies.
Both at once caused a particularly spectacular effect as people were too busy greedily watching the sky to watch their own feet, so they often didn't even notice the growing pile of other people who'd been sent tumbling head-over-heels to the floor until they were suddenly counted among their number, flailing their arms in a fairly ineffective imitation of what they'd been coveting seconds earlier.

Eris certainly noticed it though, and as you've probably picked up by now she noticed it so much that she ran headlong into ERIC, bouncing off his plated exterior with an audible clang. Her child's body didn't give her an incredible amount of resilience but she was at least naturally bouncy and not completely unaccustomed to falling to the ground, the impact only leaving her a little dazed with a couple of bruises.

It actually took ERIC a couple of seconds to notice that anything had happened at all, though fortunately it registered before he managed to step on her.

As she shook herself off and ERIC repositioned his head to a more sensible location they realised pretty much both at the same time that the other was one of the people from The Incompetent's lineup of unfortunate participants. To Eris this detail wasn't really one of particularly great importance, but to ERIC this was enough evidence to create an individual exception in his previously-established rules against bothering humans (or at least, things that looks like humans). This in turn provoked what was probably a fairly predictable response, his spherical chest hinging open to expose the purple brilliance of his Event Horizon and his various arms uncoiling to their full and vaguely threatening lengths, veering in at slightly uncomfortable angles.

“Greetings and apologies
Queen Eris of the Vetolian Flow , Do you require medical assistance?”

Hopefully he wasn't going to end up greeting every participant in this way.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

”Runaway?” asked the menagerie-man, four-armed and malnourished, the consummate Vaudevillian in his yellowing decrepitude.

“Kidnapped,” answered Trisha.

The menagerie-man clicked his teeth. “A push out the door, then,” he said. “But you’ve got the stink of a runaway about you. Most people carry their homes around with them right here—“ he pinched Trisha’s stomach, causing the young veterinarian to squeak and jump back, “—Like a stone. Your home is a leaky balloon, tied to your heart, oozing nasty green stuff.” The menagerie-man was upside-down now, for some reason, standing on two of his hands. There was something about him that was inherently hard to keep track of. “So you’ve come to work with the animals, right?”


“Mm. There’s three kinds. First is freaks.” The menagerie-man offered Trisha a cup of tea, which she accepted graciously. “The freaks are anyone who disgust themselves enough that they feel they ought to be paid enough. Boss tells ‘em all the same thing. Big galaxy out there. Takes a special kind of different to freak on a professional level now’days. Second kind’s the old-school hobo. Will-work-for-travel type. Some get the shit jobs, some wind up displaying some use and get a performance gig.” The menagerie-man sipped delicately at his tea with a proboscis that snaked shyly between his lips. “Hobos are always just hitching a ride until they hit this arm or this city or this distance from their parents. Some make it. Others get scared of life away from the lights and become lifers.”

Trisha wondered if she was making a mistake. The menagerie-man was kindly enough but in a way that left her feeling she didn’t have an escape route.

“Third kind is the kind comes looking for the animals. A kindred soul. A wild girl got herself runaway by some kidnappers.”

“I’m a licensed veterinarian,” corrected Trisha.

“A schoolgirl with an animal heart. We get all kinds of freaks here.”

“I’m a professional and prefer to be treated as such.”

“Kinship of sapients don’t do it for wild girls. She wants a deeper connection the like she’s got with her galloper.”

“Neigh,” acknowledged Hippocrates.

“And a fine, healthy beast it is, too.” The menagerie-man smiled ear-to-temple, being possessed of only one ear. “I understand because I feel the same way. The girl belongs in the wild. Don’t get wilder than a spacefaring freakshow. A delicate ecosystem we got ourselves.”

“I’m good with delicate ecosystems,” said Trisha levelly.

“Aye, once you’ve got ‘em in a jar. Here there’s no tweezers and no soft-frequency headlamps. Here we live wrist-deep in the pulsating stuff. Is the runaway ready to give herself over to the wild?”

“Like I said, I’m a professional. I can do what’s asked of me.”

Menagerie-man hopped up onto his desk. “We ain’t big on askin’.”

“Do you give this routine to all your prospective hires?” Trisha rolled her eyes. “Look, I know you have to cultivate an air of wonderment, or what-have-you, but there are jobs to be done here. There’s a discipline underneath it. Otherwise your operation wouldn’t be as successful as it is.”

“Ah, we got discipline and we got dattipline, we do. Now, our specimens ain’t just gallopers and mammally-types like you might see on your home zoo. Like I said, it takes a special kind of different. No schoolgirl will have seen a Nadavore or a Glamourby in any of her books.”

“I’m adaptable.”

“Better start adapting fast. You’re hired. Now, do you want to see the cages or don’t you?”

Trisha tried not to squeal.

* * * * *

Patricia shared a dressing room with a rock-skinned, nine-foot-tall hulk of a woman-thing called She-Boom. She-Boom was a grenade swallower. Members of the audiences were called up to produce their own improvised explosive devices, dirty bombs, chemical weapons, controlled-release parasites. She-Boom would eat them. There were tiny cameras inside of She-Boom that would display a few brief images of her insides being torn apart before the cameras themselves inevitably exploded. She-Boom would just stand there. Sometimes her skin would change color or her tongue would fall out of her ear, but she would never fall.

She-Boom was A-game: biology pushed to the limits of its limits; physics themselves bending in the face of sapient discipline and training. The very real threat of death was key to most performances in Cirque des Étoiles. This late at night, that which wasn’t pain was pleasure. Out away from the big top, pockets of burlesque were beginning to crop up in the artificial night, luring patrons in with smells and winks and coded advertisements. Safe in her dressing room, Patricia understood that she would never have the willpower needed to make it big here. For that, one needed to grow up poor and shameless.

There was a knock on the door. One of the performers’ handlers barged in without waiting for a response. “Something’s gone wrong with Galatea,” the woman said. “She-Boom, get out here. Patsy, we might need you, too.”

Patricia groaned. In her short time at Étoiles, she had learned to resent Galatea Paroxysm, who had definitely grown up poor. Her air of nouveau-princesse and unbridled enthusiasm reminded the commander-princess far too much of an offensive stereotype from her own home, before the war. That the star acrobat had suffered some sort of mental breakdown on-stage did not come as a great shock. She ran out onstage, hoping to bear witness to her least-favorite circus performer getting the snot beaten out of her by She-Boom.

The situation was more complicated than she had expected, however, due to the fact that Galatea seemed to have manifested the ability to fly and shoot fireworks out of her hands. The grenade-swallower held one arm in front of her face to reflect the worst of the damage—either the acrobat’s energy signature was rather extreme, or She-Boom wasn’t quite as sturdy on the outside as she was on the inside. In any case, this wasn’t a situation that was going to be resolved quickly: Galatea was flying circles around all attempts to restrain her, doing untold amount of damage to the equipment, and the crowd was loving it.

Patricia’s rational instinct was to stay out of the fray entirely but there was a spare rope hanging down from the rafters and she saw an opportunity to restore order. Order was important to Patricia. She ran towards the rope and leapt onto it, letting her momentum carry her into the air above the audience, making a half-assed effort to hide her face. Galatea, alternating between blasting She-Boom and waving at the audience, didn’t notice as Patricia climbed the rope and crossed over gracefully to a trapeze, swinging her legs out to preserve her velocity.

She was working without a safety net now.

Patricia crossed from one trapeze to another, bringing herself into position above Galatea’s head. Her mind ran algorithms, her muscles twitched, and she could feel her immediate future coming into alignment before her. She had no idea what she was doing but she could tell for certain that it was going to work.

Patricia dropped off the trapeze. Her boots cracked Galatea square on the back of her neck, bringing the acrobat down to the ground.

The crowd roared. Men whistled and women screamed. She-Boom caught Galatea in one arm and Patricia, roughly, in the other.

“Get that rabbit!” called the handler. Patricia dropped down to the ground and ran after the offending animal, who was gliding away into the audience, ears and legs outstretched.

“Excuse me,” called Patricia as she executed a neat handspring from the ring into the seats, grabbing the thing by the tail. It definitely wasn’t a rabbit per se, as evidenced, among other things, by the fact that it started talking to her as soon as she grabbed it.

”Trisha, listen to me,” it said. ”The girl’s a bit out of her wits right now, but I need her to help me find Lynette. You need to help her!”

Trisha? “How do you know my name?” she growled at the rabbit.

The rabbit narrowed its eyes.
”I, uh...” It wiggled its nose uncomfortably. ”Sorry. Mistook you for someone.”

Patricia held the struggling animal to its chest and handed it back to the handler. “Get it to the menagerie or something,” she said.

“Uh-huh.” The handler held the rabbit at arm’s length cautiously; it squirmed and scratched at her hands. “Hey, Patsy, you really showed something there.”

Patricia shrugged. “I was lucky.”

“Look,” said the handler. “If G.P. doesn’t wake up in about half an hour, we’re gonna find ourselves without a headlining act. You think you could put those talents to use when it really matters?”

Patricia looked out into the crowd. She kept expecting to see certain faces looking down at her. Enemies’ faces. “I’d rather not,” she decided.

The handler pulled her aside. “You don’t really have a choice,” she intoned. “What’s the first rule?”

Patricia sighed. “The Show Must Go On,” she answered.

* * * * *

The glass tank harboring the Hwael strained against the bulk of what it contained, which was to say, nothing. “Hwael prefers a nice vacuum,” explained the menagerie-man. “He can handle an atmosphere in short doses, long enough to trot him round the big top, but for stableage purposes, it’s nothing or nothing.”

The Hwael sang, its wordless utterances manifesting in bright colors around its three mouths. Trisha was certain she had seen something more beautiful at some point, but couldn’t bring it to mind. “What’s wrong with him?” she asked.

“Difficult to prognose,” admitted the menagerie-man. “Hwael’s slow around the edges, and he secretes something foul in his sleep. Gotten to the point where they’re talking jettisoning him into the wild vacuum, letting him fend.”

“Would he make it out there?”

“Not hardly. Our boy was raised in captivity. Wouldn’t know what to do if we gave him the space.”

Trisha patted the glass and frowned. The Hwael’s optical song turned melancholy. “So how can I get in there?”

“That’s the problem, isn’t it? You get yourself out of that dress of yours and into a containment suit, sit half an hour in the airlock, poke around for a bit, and the second you need a tool you’ve got to recompress and start the whole process over again. It’s a nightmare, it is.”

“So I’d better be prepared before I go in,” resolved Trisha. It was a unique problem to a point, she admitted, but nothing too different from what she’d faced treating aquatic creatures in the past. “Do you have a sample of that secretion?”

“Alas, I might have bottled myself some for later. Let me check the pan—“

An enormous, muscular yellow-skinned woman walked in, holding Vigil. “New specimen for you, Double-M,” she bellowed, tossing the rabbit in menagerie-man’s direction.

“Vigil!” cried Trisha, cradling the rabbit. “How’d you get here? Where’s Lynette?”

“Pet of yours?” asked the menagerie-man.

“Oh, he’s sapient. Whoever sent him this way must have made a mistake.”

“Doesn’t look very sapient to my eyes.”

”I’m sapient!’ assured Vigil, hopping up on Trisha’s shoulder. ”And I could use your help, if you aren’t too busy with, um... that.” Vigil pointed up at the Hwael, which looked down at him with its forty-one soulful blue eyes, singing a deep blue lament.

“I’m busy, yes,” Trisha admitted. “But after I take care of this I should be free for the night.” She looked Vigil over circumspectly. “Hey, how are you in total vacuums?”

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

As had increasingly become the norm, Vigil was not very pleased with how events had played out.

The latest object of his displeasure was his containment suit, which was thrust upon him despite his many objections. Though his argument of 'being magic' was in fact enough to protect him from the vacuum of Hwael's cage, Trisha was stubborn, and insisted, countering his excuse with a concern about Hwael potentially catching any of Vigil's magic. Before the bunny could object on the grounds that you can't catch magic, he was dressed in an inexplicably bunny sized suit and deemed absolutely adorable.

Vigil did not like being called adorable.

As Trisha collected a myriad of veterinary tools and carefully diagnosed her patient, the magical bunny's mind went to the excitable girl he had recently converted into a potentially all powerful magical warrior. He had to admit, that despite her rather explosive performance, she was doing very well for someone new to the realm of magic. She would need some help in controlling magic, but at least she was a natural at summoning it up.

Still, Vigil couldn't help but doubt if he had done the right thing. He comforted himself with the knowledge that at least it seemed like the circus would treat her better than the Spettro's did Lynette.

Mind still wandering, Vigil turned his thoughts to the matter of the woman he had seen, who was she, why did she look like Trisha? Should he talk to Trisha about it?

At that moment, the veterinarian herself called the rabbit over, her hands full with tools and machines, presumably for Hwael.
"Vigil, I didn't stuff you in that suit just to make you look cute. I will admit that it was a contributing factor, but we should probably talk about our situation given that we have quite a while until we can help poor Hwael."

Vigil snapped out of his mulling and sighed, but followed Trisha into the decompression chamber. After giving Double-M the thumbs up, Trisha tapped a button, sparking the containment suits' communication modules to life, "So what happened with you and Eris?"

Vigil did the same and began, "Well, at first, we weren't sure of where we were going, everything looked the same, absent, then there was a bar," Vigil paused for a moment, remembering his slapstick entrance into the establishment, and then his other, more embarrassing actions in The Last Checkpoint. Not wanting to risk a single giggle from Trisha, and also making sure to avoid talking about his outburst, Vigil decided it would be beneficial to fudge the details just a little...

"And uh, you know how people at bars can be... and how Eris can be..." There was an awkward silence as Vigil realized that obfuscating the perfect storm of events that occurred in that bar would be a bit more difficult for him than he thought...


As the Other Jolene and Lynette walked through the busy streets of the Interplanetary Circus, they found their worried feelings, not exactly lost, but hidden under the very heavy cover of the attractions' bright lights, loud noises, and miscellaneous inanity. It was a fun distraction from what the two had to deal with so far, but it didn't quite make their choice of action any more concrete.

"So... let's go see a show, get our mind off things, or maybe try to get some.. uh, food?" The Other Jolene decided she didn't quite want to think about if she could eat and instead focused on guiding the still woozy Lynette through the crowds.

"I could probably use some food, but... doesn't that usually cost money?"

"Oh I'm sure that there has to be some sort of free food here, right?"

There wasn't. None of the vendors that the girls encountered was willing to part with even a free sample, which made Lynette less enthused and the Other Jolene more irritated.

"Come on, look at her, can't you spare a single damn piece?"

The vendor looked at Lynette and though he felt a bit of guilt, remained adamant in his choice, "I'm sorry hon."

Though she was not pleased, The Other Jolene only clenched her free fist and turned away when a male voice spoke, "If you would please give me three orders of your finest MeatSpace Nuggets? I can't stand having such lovely ladies go hungry."

As the vendor retreated into his stand to prepare the food, the Other Jolene turned to the man who had made the purchase, initially to thank him. However, upon looking at their savoir, she felt a bit suspicious.

There was something about his face that she just couldn't pin down, as if he wasn't fully there. Still, he seemed to be friendly enough, even if the Other Jolene started to think that there could have been something off with his interjection.

Still, The Other Jolene had some manners to keep, "Thanks Mister..."

"That's not very important right now," he grabbed the newly finished MeatSpace Nuggets, gave two of them to the Other Jolene, and then started to walk, motioning the girls to follow while he started to sample his nuggets.

The Other Jolene was skeptical, but Lynette nodded, so the two started to follow him.

After finding a suitable place to sit, the man began to speak, "Alright, seeing that the last time I tried this it didn't work out too well, I'll cut to the chase, you two are in a battle, I'm in a battle and I'm psychic, any questions."

While Lynette was scarfing down her MeatSpace Nuggets the Other Jolene began with a barrage of questions, "What? What are you talking about? Why can't you give us your name? What do you mean you are psychic? How do you know any of this?"

The psychic rolled his eyes, "Let's do this in reverse order, I'm psychic, I can see the paths that someone can take, and the road that they have walked, the longer I am around someone the more I learn, so that means that I've already picked up Lynette Spettro's name there, although... I'm not so sure about you..." The man took a gloved, nugget bread covered hand around his chin, "In fact, you are pretty murky in general, who are you?"

Normally, the Other Jolene would have been rather annoyed that the so-called psychic asked for her name without giving his in return. On the other hand, his question instead made her go back to her less than comfortable line of thought. Could she really call herself Jolene? The man seemed to easily discern Lynette's name, why couldn't he do the same for her?

The psychic noted that he had hit a rather sore spot, "I see... well, I'll call you whatever you want, you just have to pick something."

The Other Jolene remained silent, and once again looked down at her companion, who had eaten her nuggets and was now thinking about the current predicament.
"I think that I agree with him, you should pick a name, a name for you. It... it is scary to say, but Jolene... died. You aren't her, not fully anyway..." Lynette couldn't help but feel guilt for what she had done, she had allowed Jolene to live in some form, but...

"Alright... I'll pick a new name..."

A new name. No longer just an Other of Jolene Kamiensky. Did she even deserve one? Maybe, just maybe, she did.

But if so, what? What could she be? The Other Jolene thought for a while, leaving an odd silence surrounded by the crowd's murmurs and

"Call me... Aria"

"Alright then, with that settled I think that now's the time to move on, I can feel trouble coming by, I've felt it ever since we got here, there's something weird going on in the circus..." The psychic paused for a bit, "Wait, there's something else... familiarity? I don't like it, let's move"

As the group stood up, Lynette paused for a moment,
"Wait, we never said we'd go along with you? You say that you are in a battle, but how do we know that? If you are as psychic as you say, you could be making that up!

The psychic sighed as the uncertain feeling of familiarity started to grow. Someone familiar to someone around him was going to come by, but not only was he unsure of who, he wasn't exactly sure if he wanted them to, "Well, if my guess is right, it looks like, you'll find out soon enough." Or not, he thought to himself.


"So I don't get it, why did you transform Galatea? If you are as magic as you claim, can't you use that to find Lynette?"

At the moment, the pair was inside Hwael's cage, safely decompressed and hard at work. Or to be more accurate, Trisha was hard at work while Vigil continued to talk and talk. The two had traded their respective version of events since splitting in the GAS Staduim, Vigil ended up leaving only his outburst, still mentioning Hard Snake's trickery and other embarrassing moments with Eris, while Trisha was much more open, hardly hesitating when she informed Vigil of which of the two Christian's she thought was hotter, much to Vigil's discomfort. (It was first one.)

At the moment, the pair had gotten into a very nice and easy routine where Vigil would grab whichever tool Trisha needed and she would use it to make Hwael's life a little better.

"That isn't quite how it works... and stop that. But to answer your question, while Ragazza magica are characterized by their unique potential for magic, there are some universal similarities with them, constants among each and every one."

"So one of these constants is tracking each other down?"

"Well, not exactly. Hmm, how do I put this... Let's say that each Ragazza emits a pulse, a weak but constant signal that doesn't do anything until another Ragazza is near. When two signals overlap, events conspire so that the two girls will meet."

Trisha wasn't sure if she was satisfied with that explanation,
"If the girls send out a signal-" she noted that she finished treating another of Hwael's growths, "-pass me the sealpresser-" after being handed the tool and starting on recovering Hwael's skin, she continued, "if they send out a signal, why can't you use it to find her?"

"I can't do that, the only time I could detect a magical girl is the first time they send the signal out, or when they first transform."

"That hardly makes sense."

"You say to the talking, orange rabbit who gives girls magical powers."

Trisha scoffed,
"Oh give me some credit, I don't think that you are lying, it just doesn't make sense! If the girl agreed to become a magical girl or whatever, why shouldn't you be able to find them?"

"A Ragazza magica, is the official term," Vigil looked aside, and lowered his voice, "and there's a good reason for it."

As the containment suits were very sensitive, Vigil's lowered tone of voice meant very little,
"Really? Why?" Trisha noticed that she finished sealing, "Oh, and the scanner please."

Vigil traded the necessary tool as he sighed, remembering some of the less scrupulous members of his race, "If it wasn't obvious by now, I'm not the only one who can turn girls into Ragazza, there are others... and some of them are not as nice as I am."

There was a small silence before Vigil continued, "How's he looking?"

While Trisha would have liked to ask more about Vigil's species, she sensed that it was a bit of an awkward topic.
"Uh, he's a lot better actually, I'm not sure how this could have happened though."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, the growths, they don't seem to be natural, as far as I can see there isn't a biological reason that Hwael should have secreted that much odor and bile, I think that something caused this."

"Hmm, come to think of it, I think I did overhear something about someone being behind something at the circus... you think that this could be related?"

"We might want to have a talk with Double-M about who could have gotten near Hwael."

"And then we find Galetea and Lynette."

"Sounds like a plan, now hand me the healant brush, I think that I've found the last one of these growths."


Somewhere else entirely, in the lavish Spettro home, sat four people, two boys, two girls, sisters and brothers and cousins, all huddled around a pedestal, waiting.

Some, less patiently than others, "So? Where are they?" One of the two male voices, impatient and firm, but precise, broke the silence.

The charcoal dog statue on top of the pedestal remains frozen, but it manages to respond.

"As I've told you, we need to wait and see, I can't sense him unless he calls, and Vigil was never one to keep in contact." Its voice was slimy and dark, with a tinge of smug self-satisfaction, "Not that it matters."

"Tough words coming from someone who can't move anything but his lips."

Though its status as a statue was a recent one, caused by the combined magic of the four around him, the statue was not phased by the intimidation. "All I ask, David Spettro, is for patience. I am sure that Vigil will make his mark soon enough."

Once again silence filled the room, rarely interrupted except by someone's stirring in their seat.

It would be a while longer, but eventually, the statue's ears pricked up.

In an instant, the four Spettro's dashed around the statue, each of them asking a question that did not need to be asked.

The statue smiled and answered, "I have indeed found him..."

Without another word, the Spettro's began their preparations, they shuffled around the room, leaving the statue to stand alone, wondering just what had caused Vigil to create another Ragazza.

Oh well, I suppose I will find out soon enough, he looked at the Spettro's each so worried, so hopeful, so stupid. But of course, not as soon as any of them think.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by -Benedict.


Running low on cash is a terrible thing. It's an even more terrible thing when you're at the circus, because of how many exciting things there are to see and buy. But you can't buy them, because they're expensive and you're trying to save up for something important. And all this terribleness is magnified when you're running low on cash, you're at the circus, and the circus is in space and it's full of unknown wonders from across the galaxy.

These are all reasons why Jax Ryder, Intergalactic Ridewright, was in a very bad mood. As it happens, it's very difficult to sell used cars at the circus. And while it had been difficult to sell used cars in much less populated areas (the giant abandoned barge in the middle of an oil ocean, especially), he'd never had to abandon a sale because a client thought you were a clown and your pitch was an act and they didn't actually want to buy anything.
It was also difficult for Jax Ryder to sell cars at the circus because he couldn't take anyone for a test drive. There wasn't a great deal of empty space out in space- wait, no, that's not right. There wasn't a great deal of empty ground out in space, with which to drive a vehicle with chainsaws for wheels without mangling civilians. And it had been difficult to explain to people that no, the Roadwrecker V9 did NOT fly, and if they wanted a spaceship then why weren't they asking the spaceship vendor by the big top?
Jax had managed to make one sale, and that was to a stage crew that needed something to haul away some hyper-dense Quugian Elephronx dung. He'd had to reluctantly strip it of its laser cannons and sell it at a discount, which struck him as a profound mistreatment of a 50-sleipnirpower Ramming Cart. But money was money, even though he didn't recognize the currency.

Whatever. There were like ten more of those things in the back.

After a lengthy and fruitless attempt to find additional customers for his specialty vehicles, Jax was just about ready to hit the road. The circus wasn't really doing it for him- lack of business aside, constant bright lights and offensive smells start to get a guy down after a while. And his only real ticket out, he'd been informed, was to fulfill the condition to begin the next round. The condition, conveniently enough, was always the same- find some other shmuck in the running and make sure they bite the dust. Not all that difficult so far, but things were kinda heating up lately. To be honest, he was starting to get kinda worried about his situation.
There were three other unfortunates caught up in this batshit contest, and if Jax was honest (not often) he didn't like his chances with any of them. The psychic, maybe, he could run down... if he had a clear shot, and could go fast enough that his fancy mind powers wouldn't see it coming. He never really had an opening, though. Guy always seems to be where you're not. Or maybe... well, no. He couldn't possibly kill that one. Not without... well, enough about that one.

But that just left Princess Rollerskates or whatever, and... well, gosh, he couldn't hurt a darling like her. She was just so charming, even back when she called him an unscrupulous sewer rat and convinced everybody to try to kill him. All things considered, though, she was really the only easy target left- not totally true, he supposed, since her uncommon athleticism made her tough to charge even without an omnipresent crowd of innocent bystanders in the way. Jax wasn't sure the people in these contests were real, technically, but all that needless bloodshed would ruin the hood of any of his rides. Plus, really distasteful.


Moving out was proving difficult. It might have been obvious to something capable of real forethought, but as it was, Gomorrah did not anticipate that circusgoers bored and irritated by an act would simply leave. When the negative energy of the crowd had peaked, the city had attempted to take complete control. The Goggwheggler had languished in the pit, unresponsive to the shouts of its trainers. But as dissatisfied tourists filed out of the tent, Gomorrah was spread thin. It needed to be more devious about this- it needed a way to cure the entire circus of its choking atmosphere of cheer, before it could do more than flit from place to place and perform its usual macabre reenactments.

It was not very smart, and didn't have the slightest clue how to do anything like that. Rising to power in a place explicitly dedicated to happiness would be no easy task.


Finding another contestant to kill in this crowd would be no easy task. Like, it hadn't been too tough to tell who was a battler before- just find whoever looked like a circus freak and make them survive less. This heuristic was markedly less effective in a literal circus, though. Compared to the menagerie of oddballs here, even that one looked normal. Hiding wouldn't be all that hard around here, actually, but Jax was determined to end this farce as soon as possible.
He was making his way through the crowd on, to his mild annoyance, a modified Segway, rather than any sort of actually badass set of wheels. I mean, sure, the wheels turned into deadly sawblades and the handle could detach and fire a high-energy ion pulse, but it just wasn't the same. It's not really a ride unless it's belching smoke and/or flames- but a decent ride wouldn't have been able to navigate these godforsaken food court crowds. What made the whole spectacle even more embarrassing was that nobody even seemed to NOTICE- he was as invisible in the pangalactic crowd as an invisible... guy... was, in a crowd. An invisible crowd? Similies were never really Jax's strong point.

Then, by an incredible stroke of luck, he caught sight of a familiar face. And sure enough, that face was already getting up from his seat. The bastard probably knew he was coming. Read his mind, or something. Friggin' psychics, using their bogus voodoo to mess with people. He gunned the tiny excuse for an engine on his ride, wheeling around to face his competitor.

"Ey, buddy! How's it been? Long time no see, ain't that right?"

The psychic stood stock still in front of Lynette and Aria's table. "...What do you want?"

"Who's that you got there? Couple of lady friends?" Jax lifted his shades and leered down at the pair of girls, a crooked grin parting his lips. "Didn't figure you the type to pick yourself up a little entourage, brah!"

"Did you want something?" The man's fists clenched, his body becoming visibly tense.

"I never got your name, friend! I must've heard it somewhere, but I bet it plumb slipped my mind. Mind like a steel seive, here!" Jax lifted his baseball cap to tap his head, revealing a blue-dyed mohawk underneath. Most people assumed Jax's wardrobe was attempting to make some sort of statement, and politely declined to comment.

"I never told you my name." The psychic looked ready to... well, he looked ready to do something. "Again: what do you want?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, pal! Have we not been introduced properly? The name's Jax Ryder, Intergalactic Ridewright, at your service." Jax swept his cap down in a theatrical bow. "May I have the pleasure of knowing yours?"

A person with less self-control, faced with a man who he'd, not 24 hours ago, seen impale a small child on his hood ornament, might have looked like they were about to garotte someone with electrified wire. The psychic man, however, was a more restrained sort, and merely looked like he was about to deck someone in the jaw.
The psychic man came very close to decking Jax Rider in the jaw, but didn't. "Please leave us alone."

"Buddy, I don't know about you, but I'd love to just split, y'know? Problem is, there's some unpleasant circumstances going on." Jax backed up a few steps, and grabbed the handle of his Segway. "Word has it, actually, that one of us has to get hella killed if anyone's going to make it out."

"What do you say to that?" he asked, as the handle began to crackle with dangerous-looking energy.

Re: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagain.

I think I've put this off long enough. I'll hopefully have something up in a few hours, depending on how formatting goes. Tomorrow at the latest. Regardless, this RESERVE is more of a formality.
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
The menagerie-man did something with his teeth as though he was turning a screw. “None as I can think of,” he confessed. “You’ve seen yourselves. Anyone seeking access to Hwael’ll need a good quarter hour to suit up. Not easy to sneak in.”

“Are there any circus employees with the morphology to abide deep-space conditions?” asked Trisha.

“Hmmmmm. Mayhap, mayhap. She-Boom goes spacewalking in her spare time, to be sure. Absence is brisk against her skin. Now there’s a woman.”

“Only her?”

“If you’re thinking biosabotage—“ menagerie-man’s many fingers played against each other like piano keys— “You’re not necessarily looking at an external job. Not all of D’Étoiles’ custom’s honest as I am.” He saluted, flashed a black-toothed, white-tongued smile.

Trisha considered this. “That raises a question of motive. Hwael is beautiful, harmless, and valuable. Who would want to harm him? A rival circus?”

“Pah! Rivals is two dogs to a femur. D’Étoiles has the whole skeleton tucked away in our closet; we make the dry bones dance. We have no rivals.”

Trisha had been having issues with extradimensional social cues lately, but she was pretty sure the menagerie-man’s increasingly whimsical language indicated a mounting frustration and desire for this conversation to end. She stood from her chair. “I’ll try and track down She-Boom,” she said. “Talk to her. Thanks for the help.”

“Might as well talk to the hull,” warned the menagerie-man. “Eloquence isn’t our suspect’s strong suit.”

* * * * *

Patricia could only find two masks in the closet—Big Smiley Face and Big Frowny Face, the classic opera set. She weighed them in each hand.

“What do you think?” she asked She-Boom.

She-Boom raised an eyebrow. Her throat didn’t work too well anymore, but she had very expressive eyebrows. Here she was saying, “Why would you want to hide a pretty face like yours on your big day?”

Or, maybe, “Do I look like I give a shit?” Patricia was many things, and non-verbal communications expert was only one of them.

She strapped on the frowny mask and looked in the mirror. It made her look utterly pathetic. “I can’t show my face in front of this crowd,” she said. “There are people trying to kill me.”

She-Boom made a fist and a palm and clapped them together with a thud and a rumble. Patricia switched to the smiling mask, then back again.

“Powerful people. People you can’t protect me from.” Big smile, big frown. Were these masks meant to reveal, or conceal? Much longer at the circus and she was worried she would find out.

That rabbit-thing had called her “Trisha.” An old name, a childhood name. She tried the smiling mask on one more time. Someone here knew her name. Someone was talking. Someone was looking for her.

Her hand was shaking. Pre-show jitters. The mask was doing something far more complicated than displaying joy or hiding fear; she was communicating the desire to appear to be smiling, drawing attention to the sham, the act. It forces the audience member to imagine, underneath the mask, something even more melodramatic—a gaping wound, a river of tears, a mirror, a whole universe, nothing at all.

She affixed the frowning mask over the smiling mask, took off both, put the frowning mask on first, then the smiling mask over it. Then she started rummaging for something with which to tie back her hair.

* * * * *

Many of the cars on The Lot had over a hundred thousand miles on them, but there were fewer that had the mental capacity to remember each one, and fewer still that could feel something about it. To put that in perspective, that’s enough to circle around your average Earth four times and change, or to cover over two point five percent of your average Estadounidense highway system.

Now, at thirty miles a gallon (and most of these cars got less than that, even without deploying the flamethrowers), that’s over three thousand gallons of gas, and, here’s the real shocking number, that’s over fifty thousand pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Those few cars in the Lot with the cognizant wherewithal to ponder their fates had by and large been thinking about their legacies.

Cat Six held no illusions. Gussied up with a new coat of paint, mobile crime lab replaced with a shag rug, stripped of Laws of Robotics compliance, she could no longer hold onto the pretense that she had been a good police car, a good partner, something she could be proud of. It was all the same. She was a tool at best, an accessory at worst; a masculinity prosthetic, born of the midlife crises of lonely scientists. Vroom, vroom. Hey, I’m Cat. Wanna go for a ride?

Her entire career could best be summed up by the image of pus oozing through a Band-Aid. A couple murderers institutionalized, a few rapists blown up, key to the city in the glove compartment. Meanwhile the world boiled in her stinking carbon excrement, the wound of crime and social decay continued to fester under the surface, and Johnny, her partner, kept running on fumes as long and as fast as he before breaking down on the end of a noose in a dark garage.

Maybe it was this former pretense--the insistence on her own self-worth--that had pushed him over the edge. Couldn’t she have let him take the wheel?

The police auction came before the funeral. Enter Jax Ryder with a wad of bills… and then the Lot. That had been two hundred and forty eight point seven days ago, according to her internal clock.

The Lot had seen a busy couple of days. Plenty of cars trotted out, most of them wheeled back in shortly afterwards, usually having sustained some heavy damage. Whatever was going on out there, Jax was getting desperate. Cat hoped that this flurry of activity would pass her by. The idea of a new owner, a new life, repulsed her. She would rather stay in the Lot and pretend it was an afterlife, her punishment, her eternity.

Right on cue, the light at the end of the tunnel. Ninth Law of Robotics: There Is No God. But Cat didn’t uphold the laws anymore. There was a God and He hated her.


“—Probably the smartest car on the Lot, but, what’s more, here’s the kicker, the one most capable of feeling. She’s got your logos, she’s got your ethos, she’s got your pathos. That’s the Computerized, Automatic, Talking Vehicular Inspector. See Ay Tee Vee Eye. Cat Six.”

Jax put a hand on Cat’s passenger side mirror. A vague-looking man and a teenage girl looked on, intrigued.

“So here’s the deal. I won’t take your money—I’m not trying to swindle you. But! I’ll give you Cat Six, as is, free of charge, and all you gotta do is kill Patricia Whoever.”

”Trisha?” asked the girl. The vague-looking man perked up as though he’d just smelled something.

Patricia. Bit older than you, brunette, good-looking, kinda intense? You know her?”

”I… I think so.”

”Then you probably know why I’d want her dead. Apart from the whole, you know, the thing with the thing. The battle.”

The vague man put a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Can I talk to you aside for a—”

“But wait, there’s more! A personal appeal, if you will. See, if you don’t take the deal—”

--He hovered a finger over the Big Red Button on the Segway handle—

“—If you don’t take the deal, Cat here’s going straight to the scrap heap. Either way, someone dies. And who’s to say Cat isn’t just as much of a person—hell, more, even—than our girl [Pa]tricia? Cat, tell these fine customers you don’t want to die.”

Cat’s voice box crackled to life after months of disuse. “I… I’M NOT SURE.”

Jax slapped her roof with a chuckle. “Ain’t she a charmer? Ex-police, you know. Refurbished leather seats. And it can all be yours.”

Johnny hadn’t wanted to live. Or maybe he had. Maybe that wasn’t the point at all.

The vague man held up a hand. “Lynette and I need to talk some things over.”

“That’s alright,” said Jax. “Take your time.”

“But not too much time now,” he added. “I ain’t got all day.”

* * * * *
”What do you think about all this, Vigil?” asked Trisha. “I feel silly. Playing detective.”

The rabbit shrugged.
Getting to know some people around here can’t hurt. We might be staying here a while. It doesn’t seem all that dangerous here, so everyone should be okay.”

”Tell that to Hwael,” replied Trisha with a whiff of indignance.

”I mean, look at you,” said Vigil. ”Last ‘round’ you were getting mistaken for princesses and kidnapped and there were all manner of slimy things trying to kill us.” Trisha shuddered, a dreamlike glimpse of a recently suppressed memory bursting into her consciousness like pus out of a zit. ”Now you have a job in your chosen field.”

”I’d rather be back home,” snapped Trisha. The violent stubbornness in her voice made Vigil recoil. Trisha groaned. “I know, I know. Not if it means anyone else dying. Anyway, there’s work to be done here.”

The big top rose up in the distance. Somewhere in there was a woman who didn’t need air to survive. Or air pressure.

“There’s also the question of delivery,” she added. “There’s the who, the why, but also a how. How do you poison a Hwael?”

”She couldn’t have put something in his food?”

Trisha shook her head. “Hwael photosynthesizes through electromagnetic baleen. Even if someone produced an energy signature that would be toxic to him somehow, he’d filter most of it out. Hi. Staff veterinarian,” she added to the security guard warding the back way into the big top. “We’re here to see She-Boom.” The guard admitted them without question, probably out of an understanding that She-Boom in particular was not in need of his protective services.

”What if she contaminated the tank?” asked Vigil. ”Do we know that vacuum’s a vacuum?”

”I’m pretty sure it’s closely monitored…"

They came to a door. Were they even still in a tent? Spatial relationships here worked a fair sight better than they had in the previous “round,” but there was still something a little off. Trisha knocked. She heard three loud, lurching footsteps and a click, and then the door swung open to reveal a hulking and distinctly unamused woman.

“Hi,” stammered Trisha. “I’m Trisha, the new staff veterinarian. We were looking for your help on—“

She-Boom tapped a finger against the doorframe impatiently, scrutinizing Trisha.

Trisha wilted. “We were wondering if you poisoned the Hwael.”

She-Boom shook her head.

“Okay,” said Trisha, as earnestly as she could muster. “Thanks for your time. We’ll be on our—“

A cold, scratchy hand wrapped around her forearm. She-Boom lumbered into the hallway and began dragging Trisha along with her into the bowels of the big top.

Trisha shot Vigil an angry look. Vigil twitched. Trisha understood that the twitch was supposed to communicate something but didn’t know what. Damn extradimensional social cues.

Trisha emerged in the audience of the big top, lost in an endless crowd of science-knows-whats. She-Boom pointed to the woman in the spotlight, suspended in the midst of an alarmingly dangerous-looking trapeze routine.

“What?” asked Trisha. “Who is that?”

She-Boom pointed again. Trisha stared at the woman. She was wearing a mask. Was this her poisoner?

“She-Boom,” she said, tugging at the freak’s shoulder. “I don’t get it. Who is she?”
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
The longer Weaver spent drifting on the tide of fairgoers the more apt his comparison with home seemed in his head. He’d been in places like this before, it’s always easy to vanish at a circus, and this one wasn’t even putting up much of a facade of legitimacy. The people on the planet below really had made it into space, as he’d daydreamed himself while on the run, but if it had empowered them in any way it wasn’t really showing. While the novel, alien forms would not have fit in well at any of his old haunts some of the looks of scheming and desperation he could pick out in the sidelines were definitely familiar.

Weaver wasn’t really one to spend long ruminating on the past, nostalgia wasn’t in his programming and besides there wasn’t much from back then to miss, but this strange-yet-recognisable place was making him think and what he decided about his current circumstances was not a pleasant realisation; While there were plenty of superficial differences and even some that you could regard as fairly important, in the parts that were most essential his situation wasn’t really any different at all to how it had been before he’d been plucked from his home and consigned to fight a handful of complete strangers.

He’d escaped the police sure, probably forever. The world of the past was behind him and even if The Incompetent intended to place him back where he came from at the conclusion of his “Battle” Weaver was someone doubtful of his ability to actually do so (had he even announced what the Winner would receive, apart from the generous gift of their life? Weaver made a mental note to review the recordings again). But, even though it seemed that none of the things he’d spent so long hiding from could touch him now, he had only managed to go from one situation where his life was dictated entirely by the whims of others into another.

Worse in fact, he hadn’t even done so of his own volition. While “staying alive” was a skill he was glad to have exercised it was about all he’d managed to do before someone else solved his problems for him, with abilities difficult to separate from literal magic. And what had he done after being transplanted into another world? Not a great deal, honestly. He’d let himself get carried along by happenstance instead of making his own way and now he’d replaced the abundant resources of the previous world (what couldn’t he do in a simulated universe? If there had been anywhere to challenge a near-omnipotent being it would have been there) with a carnival. A space carnival yes, but still hardly a place abundant in the tools you’d need to fight gods.

Weaver had spent eight years living reactively, scrounging off the land and moving on when the police presence got too heavy. Once in the battle, he’d settled himself to information gathering, a good starting point, but then allowed himself to be distracted by individual events rather than focusing on the bigger picture. What he’d done was made resolutions but not actions. He’d had plenty of big plans for changing the future back at home too and what had they amounted to? Nothing, as it turned out. He’d never got so far as actually carrying them out.
It was time for him to start being proactive. If he was going to make it out of this alive, depose The Incompetent, and gain control of whatever tools he was using to grant his powers (Weaver couldn’t imagine for a moment that such abilities could be inherent to a creature of such evidently low intellect) he couldn’t well let somebody else call the shots.

And so following that train of thought, while avoiding unnecessary deaths would be the ideal and the others he had met so far (apart from the one that stole his arm) had seemed like they could make fairly capable allies in an escape, it seemed to him quite possible their chances of fighting back would be better from a locale not chiefly surrounded by a big top.
It wouldn’t hurt to play the part a little, reassure their ringmaster that there was wouldn’t be anything funny going on to watch out for. There was always one fairly obvious way to roll the dice a couple of times for somewhere better, after all.

“For the last time, no, I’m fine! Go bother someone else!”
Eris was having some difficulty shaking ERIC from tailing her as she continued to run opposite to the crowd. Marbles, assorted lego pieces and banana peels were just smashed underfoot and no sudden ice patches, potholes, localised weather or falling pans of fryer oil seemed to do much to slow down the inexorable machine either, though they at least provided unpleasant surprises for the fairgoers she was shoving into her wake. Unfortunately she didn’t have much time to revel in their misfortune what with the endless task of elbowing people in the chest (or nearest approximation) to get them to move out of her way. Couldn’t they watch where they were going?

“You are in danger. Please consent to containment, for your own protection.”
ERIC was having some difficulty catching up with the diminutive chaos elemental, did she not know that she was in a battle to the death? As she consistently refused to allow him to pick her up and did not actually appear to be in any way wounded, despite running into him earlier, he did not have any grounds to actually justify restraining her against her will but as the first member of the battle he had found in this place so far, he considered it his unshakeable duty to follow her around and make sure she stayed out of trouble. He couldn’t really have picked a worse candidate.
The crowd was a little difficult to navigate, as the diverse range of sapient-presenting creatures making it up meant he could not simply stomp through it like the one in Gomorrah, but fortunately most of them seemed to trip or slip or fall out of his path as he approached, so despite the crush of people pushing forward from behind and heading towards the big top his path was not as impeded as it could have been.

“I don’t need any help! I’m not a baby! I can look after myself!”
“You are in imminent danger. Basic protocol dictates I escort those in imminent danger to safety. Please consent to containment.”
“No! Leave me alone! Nobody gets to tell me what to do.”

ERIC’s current passenger wasn’t having much of a good time of it either. As soon as ERIC sighted one of the other contestants, that had basically been it as far as his control of the situation went. His race didn’t do much in the way of facial expressions and he didn’t have any palms to rest the chitinous mask he had for a head in, but the loud bugle of frustration that inflated the vocal pipes on the back of his neck could probably have been understood the universe over.

He almost wished that he couldn’t see what was going on outside, being powerless to direct the robot despite it being a machine that was supposed to follow his orders was infuriating!
Except… except that he could see something he could use as leverage against his jailor. Or at least, a method of changing the tracks he was running on to ones that might be a little more productive.
“Ambulance drone! Ten o’clock! Patient!”

ERIC’s comically extended neck snapped around and locked onto Weaver at about the same time as Weaver looked up from his musings and saw him back. Eris and her pursuer should have been fairly hard to miss, but he’d been letting his feet follow the crowd while his mind was elsewhere. Stupid, he should have been looking where he was going.

“Attention [Weaver 16]! You are injured! Please remain calm and do not move in case you exacerbate your injury. You will be collected for delivery to the nearest hospital at our earliest convenience.”

The crowd was harder for ERIC to wade through in that direction, through a combination of lateral movement, lack of stray magical tripping hazards and people generally getting kind of freaked out by the large, shouting machine, and Weaver had the advantage of much longer legs than Eris and a lifetime’s experience of escaping. Frustrating to be cut off like that but he didn’t really want to grapple with all of those arms again, he still needed time to figure out whether this place had anything that could be of use to him before scouting out allies.

“Please do not be alarmed! Your earlier injury was a regrettable accident. You will be directed to a complaints form upon release to - Look we have your arm safe and someone can probably reattach it, this is an ambulance droid not a war machine or whatever that self-important deity guy was talking about earlier, it just wants to give you your limb back.”

Weaver stopped running as the machine’s voice was cut off by a second one, far less artificial in tone. Cautiously he turned and stared into ERIC’s distant eyes, then raised both arms and waved them from side to side so that they were easy to see. ERIC stopped too, and there was an awkward moment of silence (a couple of people in the crowd who had stopped to watch took this opportunity to barge past, irritated at the blockage in traffic.)

“Alright I’m talking with it but I don’t think just seeing that you still have two of those things is going to be enough for it when it’s got one you shed earlier here in storage. We’re not used to alien biology, it’s telling me that maybe you’re supposed to have three.
Plus after listening to that whole “you’ve got to kill each other” speech it really wants to put all seven or whatever of you somewhere safe where it can keep an eye on you but I wouldn’t worry about that, it can’t keep you against your will if you look healthy enough to make sensible decisions.

Would you mind indulging us? It’s not going to stop following you around otherwise and if there’s some other people after your neck that might not be the attention you want.”

It was all true, to an extent. Gan was merely omitting the tiny detail that ERIC would probably not consider an artificial life-form immune to being a disease vector for The Plague and would refuse to let him out again. He could have all of the AI programming knowledge of a “mad genius” who had built his own cybernetic body ready to work at the problem of getting them both back out, a little deception was justified for that, no?

Weaver tried to think quickly, ERIC was waiting for now but if he didn’t respond he was pretty sure the lumbering robot would just try and manhandle him inside again.
So, salient points;

1) Mysterious voice was right and drawing attention to himself (either from other competitors, carnival security or the self-styled grandmaster) by making a commotion and running a chase around the station was really not what he wanted right now.
2) He didn’t need his arm back but if he wasn’t being lied to, it would have been recording everything that was going on on the other side of that black hole for his perusal upon retrieving it (if it was sending a wireless signal then it didn’t seem to be able to get out).
3) The Incompetent seemed poorly informed about most of his “combatants” and so ERIC actually being a medical robot didn’t seem impossible, especially considering it lacked any visible weapons… disregarding the pulsing singularity anyway.
4) He hadn’t been able to do much damage to ERIC from the outside and seeing if it had any weaknesses inside would not be a complete waste of time.

The main question of course was… did that big blue vortex actually lead to the inside of an ambulance or was he being strung along by a voice modulator? ERIC had yet to demonstrate to anyone that things which went in could eventually come out again.

“I will consent to some form of medical examination, you heard The Incompetent say I was a machine yes? Establishing that shouldn’t take you very long.
But if, and only if, you can demonstrate that I will not be harmed by my passage.”

ERIC pondered for a moment about how to accomplish this without breaking containment, but the answer was pretty straightforward. Gan didn’t even have time to register annoyance before his subjective passage of time slowed to a complete stop along with the rest of the currently active objects in the ambulance storage dimension. No risk of contamination now!
With a slightly theatrical flourish ERIC levered himself open, exposing his pulsing core, and thrust his head through the event horizon on the end of its flexible neck, emerging seconds later from a nearby point at a completely different angle.

The crowd parted in a nervous circle around him, Weaver hoped they thought the light show was just another act.

“Is this to your satisfaction? I am eager to fulfil my duties.”

Weaver inspected the display with suspicion but had to conclude that ERIC was basically giving him what he’d asked for and he didn’t have much room to make any other demands. Aside from convincing another competitor to jump in first this was probably as prepared to make a decision as he was going to get.

“Alright then. Let’s make this quick.”

Weaver strode confidently up to ERIC’s bisected form, placed his hands on the lip of the armoured casing and vaulted into the rift, disappearing from sight almost immediately. Eric’s upper body slowly levered itself back into position behind him, locking into place with a click.
“Quarantine maintained.”

Eris was watching from the eaves of a nearby food outlet. She hadn’t really wanted a big robot to be chasing her around, but it had been a little exciting and for it to allow her to go from the centre of attention to completely ignored was just rude. She recognised the neon figure of Weaver from earlier and as far as she could remember he hadn’t been that interesting so why there had been all that excitement over him she didn’t know, maybe it was a robot thing?

Anyway the important thing was, he’d never done anything for her (hadn’t even given her one of those glowing lights) and now he had the nerve to steal her limelight, and that wouldn’t do at all. She was going to have to come up with some kind of surprise for him for when he came out of that big hole again (looked like a pretty standard controlled dimensional rift, nothing fancy). He’d called her a queen when they first met, like The Incompetent had, and as royalty she certainly couldn’t let such insolence go unpunished.
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Legasaur the Stegosaur, name made with creative liberties and pending trademark, was not at all in a position of comfort. In fact, his comfort was probably in the negative levels and the worst part was that he didn't really have anyone to blame but himself.

That didn't stop him from blaming other people though. For starters, there was Galatea, that little brat had not only convinced the owner against going through with the Very Generous Offer, she had also embarrassed him! And then there was the owner as well, just laughing at him and saying that the circus didn't need any help to grow! It was like he wasn't even being listened to at all!

The wicked words of that benefactor rang through his head,
"And uh, ey, just remembah, this is all on yous. If the plan don't work out like yah say it will, then that ain't no ones problems but yous."

He didn't think that they would refuse? How could anyone! It was the deal of not just one lifetime, but a billion! A chance to make it big not just in one universe, but in all of them! To be the first Circus to traverse the very multiverse! Surely the owner didn't expect the secret to multiversal travel to just fall into the circus' lap!

As Legasaur the Stegosaur paced around and wondered what he could do to sabotage the circus (leading to the owner reconsidering), something ~sparkly~ appeared behind him.

"Hello~," said a voice from a mouth that slowly but eventually grew into what seemed to be a human female, "You look like you've got some problems... that's a shaaaame..."

Legasaur the Stegosaur didn't know how to describe the voice that had spoken, but it seemed to be a mix of childish, motherly, and omnipotent. He opted to go for a route that would cause the least trouble, "I'm fine, no problems here, nope."

In a single moment the smile that had been accompanied by the woman, if that's what she really was, turned into a frown and suddenly the woman, who Legasaur the Stegosaur was now realizing he couldn't get a solid look on any of her features, was larger and more imposing.

"Ohhh???," her voice was different and yet the same, "Are you sure... because I think differently. And I think that someone is lyyyyying to meeeee."

There was something about this woman that was off but Legasaur the Stegosaur couldn't help but feel that the real problem at hand was that he wasn't on. By now the talking dinosaur had completely given up on trying to negotiate and started to silently back away.

The woman smelled the air, "Don't be scared... I'm just here to make sure that you are perfectly fine~," Legasaur the Stegosaur found himself unable to move. The woman laid her hands on his face and then said, "D*n't w*rry, s**n everything is g*ing t* turn *ut W*nderful!"


No one was really sure about what to do with Jax.

"I think he's bad news, but I feel bad for the car... Cat Six I think? Whatever her deal is, it isn't good at all... is she a possessed car or something? Lynette, can't you like, exorcise her?"

"No, whatever her deal is it isn't related to a ghost or something but... there is something death related going on... somewhere? She doesn't feel really great about something, but I'm not sure what..."

"What's your stake in this uh... what even is your name?"

The psychic had been busy thinking about the previous rounds in The Suddenly Wrangled Up Shouting Match, which had their ups and downs and had largely allowed his survival through a series of events that he could not currently comprehend, no thanks to a certain contestant literally fucking everything up out of nowhere. That said, Jax was kind of trash. However, he was trash that was easier to kill than Patricia, who the psychic was convinced had to have something unnatural going on.

"Uh, psychic guy?"

"I think our best bet is to just go along with it, we don't have to kill Patricia if we don't want to."

"What I want to know is why he wants to kill Trisha..."


"Hey, hey, are we gunna do the deal or not? Clock's tickin! You don't want to leave poor Cat alone, do ya?"

"Alright!" Aria frowned and walked up to the car salesmen and then snatched the keys away, "We'll do it!"

Jax's eyes sparkled in glee, "Alright! Ya hear that Catsy, you are gunna have a fun time! Say something exciting!"

A weak, "YAY..." crackled out from the voice box.

Aria frowned, this time out of pity for Cat Six. She then got into the driving seat and started the car. "Are you two getting in?"

As the Psychic and Lynette motioned towards Cat Six, the latter looked towards the now retreating Jax, "What are you going to do?"

Jax froze, then turned around with a giant, fake smile, "Oh, you know, look around, keep an eye out for people, if I see Pattie I'll send word don't worry!"

"So... you are just going to hide until Trisha's gone?"

"What?? That's ridiculous... that... that's ridiculous," Jax's mannerisms were not convincing anyone, "We are now a team! And that means we are going to work together!"

"Look, can we get on with this? I'm tired of hearing his mouth flap."

"Hey! That's no way to treat a teammate!"

"I never agreed to anything, we didn't make a deal."

Cat Six's engine revved up, Aria took advantage of Cat Six's impulsive action to take control of the situation, "Alright Jax, if you are going to help us then find people from our battle, there's someone in particular, Keagan, he's a kid, glasses, messed up left side. Keep him safe, and I don't care what else you do."

Jax gave two thumbs up, "Alright! Sounds easy enough, I'll just be on my way then."


"Oh no that's never good."

"We have to move fast."

"Oh god, he did that thing, oh god, oh god not again NOT AGAIN." Jax began to spin around in circles out of panic.

"What's going on?"

The psychic didn't reply to Lynette's question, instead opting to point, "There, we have to go there now."

Lynette and Aria were about to say something about there being nothing abnormal in the direction the psychic was pointing, but then realized that they were talking to a psychic. "Alright then, Jax, don't forget!"

The trio drove off, leaving the panicking Jax alone, still panicking. "I need to find a safe place, safety, just safety... but where am I gunna find that here?" The salesman stopped for a second, remembering where the psychic pointed. "No.. no it's easy, just gotta make sure to not go in that direction! Jax will LIVE ANOTHER ROUND! HA HA HA."

Happy leaving it at that, Jax rode off, hoping that he would meet no one and nothing on his quest to avoid whatever she was up to this time.


Galatea woke up steaming, "I can't believe that she did that!"

The starlet was fine of course, as if she had woken up on time she would have had to, and happily would have performed as if she didn't get a politicians boot to her newly magical girl head.

"Ooo, I'll give her a piece of my mind!!!"

Before anyone could stop her, not that they would have really succeeded given Galatea's newly awakened penchant for orbiting around things, such as people she wanted to avoid, she made her way back to the stage.

Vigil and Trisha were still speaking with She-Boom, with the former wondering if he should talk to the latter about what She-Boom was trying to point out. Upon noticing the magical girl enter across from where they were standing, Vigil's ears ringed up and he leaped towards her, hoping to prevent another scene in which she flies up, interrupts a performance, and then gets knocked out again. Trisha and She-Boom followed, with the latter making a face that probably said, I sure hope that I don't have to catch people again.

"Galatea, wait!"

"Oh, oh hey Vigil! I see that Patricia's performing, I guess I'll just wait."

"Don't go u- oh ok..."

"So her names Patricia? That's a nice name, but it's way too formal, how's someone with a stuck-up sounding name like that just performing at a circus?"

"Hey you look a lot lik-"

"Galatea, focus, you know a lot of people in the circus right?"

"Well, duh."

"Do you know anyone who would want to sabotage the circus? There are things happening and we think that it's an inside job."

"Say whaaaaaaaat? That's totally ridiculous, everyone here's family, right She-Boom?"

She-Boom quickly gave a powerful and supportive thumbs-up.

"Yeah, if we weren't all in this together then there's no way that we would be able to get this far."

"That's nice honey but there really isn't any other explanation for this! There has to be someone, maybe someone new?"

"Well, the newest person is right up there on the tight-rope, but She-Boom's been with her the entire time!"

Vigil rolled his eyes a little. It was a bit obvious that Galatea's oblivious and naive world view was not conductive to their investigation. He probably needed to change the tone of the question a little, no one would willingly do anything bad to the circus, thought Galatea, so the questions need to focus not on people, but on recent events, "Has anyone been acting weirder than normal, suggesting new things to do with the circus, or just been a bit grumpy?"

Galatea thought about it for a bit, and then remembered an incident from the night prior, "Well, Legasaur the Stegosaur suggested something weird about turning the circus towards the multiverse or something, but we all dismissed it. But he wouldn't do anything bad, people suggest 'the next big thing!' all the time."

"Where is this Legasour fellow?"

"I dunno, Yoel probably knows where he is, one moment."

Galatea closed her eyes and put some of her fingers near her mouth, and then blew. While no sound came out of her lips, it was obvious that it was doing something, especially when moments later a somewhat portly and hairy man rushed through screaming, "PRINCESS!!!"

Galatea gave a polite wave, "Hi Yoel."

The wolfish man grabbed two of her hands and shook them happily, almost sobbing about how, "I'D BEEN LOOKIN ALL OVER THE CIRCUS FOR YA, I'M SO SORRY PRINCESS, I THOUGHT I LOST YA, PLEASE DON'T SCARE ME LIKE THAT AGAIN, I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'D DO."

"Yoel, I'm fine."

Yoel recomposed himself and nodded. Then gave Galatea a look over, noticing the completely different outfit. "What are ya wearing?"

"That's not important now sir, we need to find someone, Legasaur the Stegosaur."

Yoel looked around for the source of the very male voice. "Who said that?"

"That was Vigil," Trisha picked the rabbit up, "We need to find this Legasaur fellow, he might be sabotaging the circus."

"Ohhhh, and why should I trust ya, Patricia."

Before Trisha could let out a cold but solid, "That is not my name," the lights went out, to signify that something dramatic was about to happen in the tightrope. The odd thing was that it was not accompanied by a spotlight on the performer.

The group looked up, wondering what was happening, with some of them also hoping that the performer was capable enough to act without light.

Patricia of course, was.

What she was less sure of was what was going on, and more importantly who was going to get the foul end of her foot after she got down from here. "First things first though, it would behoove me to get to a safer position than this one."

Patricia took a deep breath and then walked towards one of the poles holding the ropes up, each step was perfectly placed and in the darkness she could only hear the murmurs of the confused crowd and her own breaths.

Then she heard a third sound.

heh heh heh heeh


Patricia took another deep breath and continued onward, ignoring the unarguable and complete shitstain that had decided to specifically toy with her out of all of the people in this awful Bickering Buddyfest.

The next sound was like the wind, complete with a small breeze, it was a bit flirty. hiiiiii~ heh hee

Patricia clenched her fist and stood still. Her heart was pounding. She knew what would come next. An attack. Laughter, greeting, attack, that was the pattern and then after that everything would get... stupid. She was cornered, and there was only one way to go.


Patricia's head didn't say it, but neither did the wind, so she took the advice and leaped downward.

Suddenly, Patricia glowed, and the crowd's eyes were all on her, going "ooo" and "ah," which distracted them from the fact that there was a green and white snap on the ropes above.

Patricia recognized that the light was coming from Galatea, who was also the reason why she wasn't falling to her death. "You can glow, and fly? What's next?"

"Well, uh, dodging I suppose?"

Before Patricia could ask what they were going to dodge, Galatea swerved around another greenwhite snap. "So what's the plan then?"

"Get to the ground and then go from there."

Patricia frowned, almost wishing that the lack of foresight surprised her, "How did you know I was in danger? Is that another one of your new... tricks?"

"No, there's a-" Galatea paused as she went around another snap, "A magical rabbit guy, he knew something was up? He said something about familiar magic or something and wanted me to go up and save you."

"A rabbit? Orange, wears goggle, green markings?"


"Curiouser and curiouser."

"Oh shit," Galatea spun around, this time to dodge a long, vertical snap. The greenwhite energy just barely missed them, but in the maneuver, Patricia's mask came off and was destroyed by the snap.

Galatea was getting tired, Patricia knew it, and she also knew that the next snap would be a doozy. "We need to split, toss me."


"Do it!"

Not a moment too soon, Galatea threw Patricia away, while she herself instinctively spun backwards. Where they were, a larger snap appeared, the light of which shone long enough for the crowd to witness Patricia fly through the air and grab on to pole. She gracefully but forcefully spun around it before launching herself downward and yelling, "She-Boom!"

Her fellow entertainer leaped up, holding her hands out for Patricia to land on. Miraculously, the maneuver paid off without harm, although Patricia was a bit winded, and the two landed safely back on the ground.

She-Boom let Patricia down, but still held her steady, Galatea bounced back as well, joining the pair along with Yoel, Trisha, and Vigil.

As shocked as Trisha was to see Patricia's face, Yoel was more, screaming, "TWOOOOO??????????" and then fainting.

Before Trisha or Patricia could have any sort of crisis over their respective appearances however, the spotlight finally shone, this time on a blank space. Then a smile appeared, and there was a heh heh heh hee as the rest of the person attached to the smile appeared out of the air.

"Hi~" There was a small silence as her smile turned into a dirty smirk, "Patricia."

RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Hey, teens! It’s


Death came knocking at an inconvenient hour, catching the Housewife on the way out of the shower, like a handyman in a porno. The Housewife hastily clad herself in a robe of stars , leaving exposed about a quarter of the surface area of each of her breasts—the left containing the milk of the force of creation, the right of destruction. When she crossed her arms just so, the two forces met, and at their intersection there formed a branching vertical crease—a little Y in parentheses, like a question. The Housewife fixed her hair and ran to the door to meet Death.

To her disappointment, when she greeted him Death was looking her straight in the eyes. This was not a social call.

Death had come to demand a tithe. And thus began the Bickering Buddyfest.


Your profile must follow the format shown here.

Username: ?!?!?!?!?!?
Name: ~*#*-Ella-*#*~
Race: Hadn’t Trisha seen something like this before, someplace in the previous round, in some place she had chosen to forget? Or else she had not seen something like this—which is to say, failed in the same way to see it? Because she wasn't, really, seeing it now.
Sex: The other Patricia reminded Patricia of, if not everything she had refused to reconcile about herself, then roughly half of it. Her clothes, her demeanor, her damned posture. She supposed this was an inevitability of spacetime travel; she had never had time for genre fiction, but she understood the trope of prismatic confrontation with one’s self. Patricia hated nearly everything about herself except for that which she, the real she, had made herself into. So she was almost grateful for the giggling specter of death relieving the awkwardness of the meeting.
Color: Uncreative minds picture death as blackness, but blackness is only the beginning. There is a moment of blackness that comes with death, yes, but there is so much more to death. The oppressive umber of dirt. The green of putrefaction. The nicotine-stain yellow of fear. The burning white of incomprehensible pain, and the manic ultraviolet of mindless violence which hovers always at the edge of perception. That uncomfortable, oppressive glow. You have seen this color.

Description: N/A

Weapons/Abilities: Mrs. Paroxysm had named her daughter after a woman born of no parents. This was a mercy. Galatea had sculpted her own destiny. She was made now not out of marble but of starstuff.

Until Ella came. And Galatea, knowing herself to be the star of the show, had seen the smiling beast the way she had always seen everything: as an opportunity to show her specialness. She was getting more special all the time, thanks most recently to Vigil.

And then the starstuff bled out of her at the ends of Ella’s claws and teeth. And now Galatea was only made of carbon and foul smells, like the rest of us. Still, unlike the rest of us, she will be remembered. So that's something.


Ella likes to toy with her prey! I'd like you to imagine an origami swan folded from the wings of a still living butterfly. Now keep imagining that until you cannot help but to imagine its death, the ceasing of its spasmodic quivering.

How long did it take the butterfly in your head to die? Record the answer (in seconds) in the following space:


Check one of the following based on how you visualized the butterfly’s death:

The butterfly doubled in my mind’s eye so that there were two butterflies, one alive, one dead ___

The dead butterfly replaced the image of the living butterfly in my mind’s eye ___

The butterfly turned into Galatea Paroxysm's broken body in my mind's eye before dying ___

Mail your answer to our Bickering Buddyfest offices at 45 Woopzoop Drive, Eagleton CA and we'll write back telling you whether you truly understand death.

Biography: he he he he

* * * * *

Username: N/A, there is no God
Name: Commander-Princess Patricia Pastrykisses-Bearonrollerblades
Sex: ( Y )
Color: I’m digging #802A2A
Race: Mixed

Description: Patricia is an attractive, curvy-within-reason young lady of twenty-six years. Patricia’s pupils are dilated from terror. Patricia is sweating. Patricia has learned recently that years of cardiovascular training will do nothing to stop fear, that useless hag, from grabbing onto her lungs and shaking them like maracas, reducing her breath to a rhythmic rattling. Music to her pursuer’s ears.

The other Patricia turns around to see. This is a mistake, of course. However, incidentally, an observer viewing two Patricias facing two different directions will be able to form a composite picture. A schematic for who this strange woman is, and who she could be.

Biography: ”Don’t look at her!” growled Patricia.

“I can’t!” Trisha yelled back. “She’s sort of fading in and out of sight. How is she doing that?”

Patricia grabbed her other’s arm. “You don’t understand what we're dealing with! Hurry!”

“You know,” said the other, “If you’d bothered to look, you’d see that She-Boom has her distracted for now.” She pulled on Patricia’s arm, yanking them both to a stop. “Anyway, there’s no use wasting our breath. I’ve already whistled for a ride.”

“A ‘ride?’” Patricia groaned. “Please don’t tell me you let Jax sell you a—”


Tricia was up on top of the horse before it had so much as stopped moving. She reached a hand down to Patricia. “Come on, and hurry! She-Boom might not last much longer and I have a patient to check back in with.”

“You want me to ride that thing?”

Weapons and Abilities: Trisha pouted. “You’re me, right?”

“You’re me, yes.”

“And you don’t know how to ride?”

“The multiverse is just full of wonders, princess.”

Trisha glanced back at the brawl between Ella and She-Boom. “Well, if you’re really me, you’ll probably take to it pretty fast once you’ve tried it. Take my hand.”

* * * * *

Username: What???
Race: Adaman
Sex: Eve
Color: Gravel

Description: Six hundred pounds of pure power and eternity. A monolith of a woman. “Look upon me, ye mighty.”

Biography: The Adamen of Cold Core lived lives of punishment. Though no predator could pierce their flesh, there was little food to sustain them. The soil of Cold Core could not support crops for most of the year, and even those who starved did not decay into fertilizer, but gravel. They lay amongst their pulverized ancestors and slept, rising only to forage and to console one another.

If She-Boom could speak, she still would not have talked about the father and mother and sisters and uncles she had left to die. She would not have spoken of the long winter’s journeys and the cold hollowness of her stomach, like a tomb. Maybe she would have spoken of the man with the spaceship. The man who saw her, and saved her.

Had she spoken of these things, no one would have judged her; no one would have been surprised. It was the same as all of their stories. She used to be a child without a future, and then she ran away to join the circus. And there she was happy for a time.

Weapons/Abilities: Almost, but not quite, enough to save her.

* * * * *

Username: Lord Paradise (brainstorming credit to Godbot)
Name: Dr. Trisha Bearonrollerblades, V.D. (and Hippocrates)
Sex: Tee-hee. Uh. Female.
Race: Human (and horse)
Color: I’m digging #802A2A

Biography (Continued): ”A veterinarian?” scoffed the other Trisha as they rode through the circus back to the menagerie. “You were me and you became a veterinarian?

“I did!” Trisha stroked Hippocrates’ mane. “Why, what’s your job?”

“You’re speaking to the Commander-Princess of the Greater Jetpaxian-Tiaran Armistice Region, I’ll have you know. At least when you got pulled into a battle for the death, your universe didn’t lose anyone of importance.”

“Hey! There is an immortoise waiting for me back on the farm that could only have decades left if I’m not there to give him his medicine.”

Hippocrates jumped over a bench. Patricia screamed and threw her arms around her double’s waist. She laughed nervously. “Listen, there’s no time to argue,” she said, casting a glance over her shoulder. “Ella’s coming to kill me and there’s half a chance she’ll accidentally kill you instead, so if there’s anything you can possibly contribute to this situation other than an extremely low-tech getaway, let me know.”

Hippocrates provided the getaway, not me. And I have a plan already, kind of. Do you know why… ‘Ella?’ Do you know why she’s so hard to see properly?”

Patricia shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s magic. She’s slipping in and out of dimensions or something.”

Trisha shook her head. “I don’t think so. If she could do that, she could leave the battle-thing. The simplest solution is that she’s simply manipulating light. Optic distortion. That could also explain your primal fear-response to her. Hypnotic triggers.”

“’Explain’ my fear response? I can do that pretty easily, doctor! Didn’t you see what she did to Galatea?”

“I did.” Trisha looked back at Patricia, her eyes an ocean of calm. “Have you ever seen a Moebipede foal? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just experiencing a deep-seated traumatic reaction to certain events of the previous round, but you seem to be losing it a bit in comparison, considering that we’re the same person.”

Hee hee hee hee he hehe haaaaaa!

”So I’m going with hypnotic triggers,” concluded Trisha. “Here we are.” Hippocrates turned in to the menagerie. “I have this patient who I think was poisoned. He’s been trying to communicate to me who it was that hurt him, but his fluorescent language can't express it.” She grabbed a syringe from out of her pocket and injected it into Hippocrates. “My theory is that if I can give Hwael the visual cortex of a predator, to give him an enhanced ability to process composite images with depth, he’ll be able to directly project a photoglyph of the, ah, culprit, so to speak. So I’ve been playing around with that.”

Oh hey, you 2

”Anyway, the point is I’ve just DNN-infused Hippocrates with a Hwael’s ‘vocal’ chords. Hippocrates? Optic whinny.”


This was not a sound but a pattern of flashing white lights. Patricia shielded her eyes. “If my hypothesis is correct," explained Trisha, "The whinny should serve as a jamming signal for whatever abilities Ella’s using against you. Which will make it a fair fight.”

And it did. Patricia opened her eyes and saw Ella—not a living smile or a blur of light, but just a girl. Short, blonde hair. Claws. Angry. Dangerous. But just a girl.

“You can fight, right?” asked Trisha.

RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Keagan Lambert was awake. It wasn't the bright spotlight that woke him up, though. He was blindfolded, which kept the light off his eyes. It also wasn't the smell of wood shavings, sand, and grease that did it. And you might have guessed it was that he was spinning lazily around the surface of a levitating wooden ball, but... that wouldn't be it either. What woke Keagan up was the sudden massive shout coming from all directions- a cheer that indicated something very exciting had just happened.

"Pepper Pinwheel, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and variations thereupon! The moment you've all been waiting for!"

She strode out from behind the curtain and into the ring, posing and waving for the crowd. Her act was clearly a favorite. Truthfully, she preferred the old-fashioned two-dimensional spinning target, with its nice circular rings... but trends were how they were. A knife-throwing act needed a sphere, these days. Still, this promised to be fun. She'd get to show off, this time, without having to worry about the mark's safety.

The new target was something else, she'd found. After knocking it out, she'd taken a couple minutes to test its claims- and sure enough, with its eyes closed, nothing was breaking the skin. It was perfect for the show! A vulnerable-looking kid to get the audience gasping, but no holding back with the fancier tricks on the off chance she missed. The audience was going to be loud tonight.

"H-hey! What's going on?! Someone get me down from here!" Keagan began struggling against his restraints, unsure which way to pull. The erratic spin of the target ball made it hard to move, and his stomach was churning. He couldn't get his bearings, much less try to wriggle free.

Pepper shot him a dirty look, and gestured a throat-slitting motion. Then she remembered the blindfold, and called out "Hahahahaha! What a kidder! Did you doze off up there? It's showtime, remember?" She let fly a pair of stilettos to start the show. They landed dead on target, pressed against either side of his neck. That ought to send a message, she thought.

It sent a message. Keagan stopped struggling, to the uproarious laughter of the audience.

The act progressed stupendously. Pepper didn't get into the Cirque des Étoiles by being dull. Knives embedded in the hilts of other knifes, magnetic knives curving in midair to strike their targets, a knife caught between the target's teeth (the kid DID have good reflexes! or at least a sturdy esophagus.) Her trick shots began to form an outline around Keagan, like a full-body hand turkey. The audience was especially blown away by the thing where she tossed knives into the air and batted them towards the target with her tail. Wasn't usually allowed to try that one for safety reasons, but she really nailed it.

The crowd was very impressed with Keagan and Pepper Pinwheel.

This was no good.

Gomorrah had been biding its time for too long. Looking for opportunities to cause natural misery was not a strategy that had been paying off. Whenever it could subdue the crowd, the ringmaster would bring out something deliberately put together to make people happy and excited. It was getting really, really frustrating.

So enough of that. If it couldn't have languor, it would have panic. In the power rooms, a few Grant Bledsoes. Cheapskate electrician, he'd pull the wires and tell people he'd need to come back tomorrow to rewire the whole building. Make a lot of money making richs folks afraid their dives weren't up to code.

The lights went out.

The ringmaster acted quickly. "Ladies and gentle, uh... people! Don't panic! There's been a temporary-"

The sound system went out. And then the artificial gravity.

Keagan had sort of figured out the movement of the sphere by then. His stomach had settled down some, and he was getting used to the weightless feeling of the levitation. It took him a minute to realize what was happening- the lights going out meant nothing to him blindfolded, and the piercing screams of the audience were indistinguishable from Pepper trying another one of her more death-defying stunts. It was only when he realized the screams were starting to come from below him that he started to suspect something was wrong. And it was when the sphere came to a halt against the fabric of the big top that he realized he'd drifted away from the ring and up to the ceiling.

Panic. Panic was good, though harder to manage than slow decay. People were in some ways predictable when they were panicking, but less predictable in others. Remembering a hostile mob wouldn't quite fit, but remembering fires would do nicely. Gomorrah lit up a handful of exits, to force as many people out one door as it could. People trampled in a stampede to the exit would work.

Wait, no. They weren't running for the exits. They were floating helplessly in midair. What were they doing? This didn't make any sense. In all of Gomorrah's experience, gravity kept people on the ground. It didn't know what to make of this... spontaneous-flying behavior. From its perspective, the universe had just conspired to ruin its plans by suddenly breaking all of the rules for no reason. Well, Gomorrah wasn't going to play the universe's game, thank you very much. Its people would be staying right on the ground.

"Boss! What do we do here?" Pepper yelled. She'd dug her tail into the ground to keep from drifting off, and the ringmaster had retrieved an emergency lev-pak. "You stay put! I'm going to try and turn the power back on!" he said. Was he being dense? "Boss, things are on freakin' fire! This isn't an ordinary power outage! We gotta call security!" He threw his hands up in annoyance. "An outage this big, security already knows! I've got everything under control, got it?" Pepper was left to stare out the window at the rest of the circus, which glowed brightly in the darkness. The power outage, whatever its cause, had been localized to this tent, and probably the exterior concourse.

She was sure that her colleagues on the other show floors couldn't be having nearly as bad a day as hers.

Meanwhile, Keagan struggled against his restraints again. This time, the ball wasn't spinning, but that hardly made it any easier. They'd buckled the straps down tight. There had to be an emergency latch, right? Surely they didn't make a habit of kidnapping random kids for their act- there'd be a performer up here, and they'd need to be able to get down, right? It was just a matter of finding the right...

"'Ello, mister!"

"Huh?" Someone was in front of him, he couldn't see.

"Someone tie your eyes? Woss with that?" He felt tiny hands undoing his blindfold, which came away and confirmed his suspicions. He was at the top of the big top, in zero gravity. He could see, some, by the light of the rest of the circus outside, and the... fires? The light was enough to see, floating in front of him, a little girl dressed in rags. She was holding an empty cotton candy bag.

"M'name's Amy! You looked like you was stuck!"

"I... I am stuck, yeah. You're... aren't you..." Keagan looked her over. Her clothes and accent weren't from this space circus, clearly. That meant she had to be part of...

"You're from Gomorrah! You... get away!"

"I'm what? From where I'm from, or somethin'? What's so bad 'bout bein' from where the town is?"

She was part of that... thing. The thing he needed to take revenge on, for Jolene. It had to be some kind of trick. "Get back! I know what you are! You're some kinda... one of those, its ghost things! What do you want?"

"Ghost? Me, a ghost? I s'pose that'd 'splain the floatin'... you seein' this?"

"Don't play dumb!" It was probably playing dumb. It... did control them, right?

"You sound like Sister Flora. "Don't be dumb! You're being a dumb godless li'l child!""

Well... whatever it wanted to do, it would've done it by now if it were openly hostile. He was defenseless. "Hey, uh... do you think you could undo these buckles for me? You're right, I'm sorta stuck."

"You want me to help you?"

"...Yes." This would prove whether he could trust the thing, or if it was toying with him.

"Only if you take it back!"


"You said I was dumb! You gotta take it back, else I won't help you loose!"

"Wh- okay, you're not dumb! Now give me a hand here!"

"...I don't think you meant it! I think you still think I'm dumb!"

"No! I mean it! You're not dumb at all!"

"Promise?" Amy spun in place, giggling.

"Yes, I promise! Just undo these buckles!"

Little Amelia gave him a funny look. "Buckles?" she asked. "I never knew there was buckles on snakes." ...Snakes? He wasn't tied up with- and then Keagan felt something smooth and wriggling slide across his wrists and ankles, and squirm away into the air, leaving his hands and legs free.


"And how come you're surrounded by all those fish, anyway? Are we in the harbor or sum'n?" The knives outlining Keagan- the sardines- pulled free of the wood and swum off into the lack of ocean. "If we're in the harbor, you oughta learn ta swim, right?" Little Amelia suddenly flew off- doing the breaststroke through thin air, as if it were water.

"Hey, wait! What did you just do?" He tried to swim after her, but the air failed to act like water in his hands. Looking around, he grabbed a handful of the tent's fabric, and slowly began crawling down the side. Someone would have to answer for... whatever this was.

RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Weaver wasn't quite sure what he'd expected the inside of an “ambulance droid” to look like, but even entering with an open mind he decided it probably wasn't this.
The plane on which he was now standing featured neither walls nor a visible floor, the land and sky merging together as a shifting mess of purple colours so uniformly lit (as far as Weaver could tell, nothing within this space was casting a shadow) that it was impossible to judge any exact dimensions. The most present orientation point you could use to divine your position was a massive cube of gears and hard drives suspended in the air at a height that was probably several storeys above their position... but it wasn't easy to tell for sure having little else to compare it to. The people who built this place clearly did not suffer much from vertigo.
What little equipment there was (chiefly beds on wheels) seemed to be scattered in a fairly loose semicircle near where he'd appeared (alongside walls, what this space also lacked was any visible exit, oh dear) and was mostly, but not entirely, of a size that would make its human operation fairly impractical. That two of the beds were more of what he'd call a standard size implied some capability for manufacturing, which would be useful information to keep for later. Presumably one of them was made for him when ERIC had tried to ingest him earlier, but the other seemed to contain some kind of dense mist... and there was no sign of his promised arm.

“Looking for this?”

Only in this bizarre pseudospace could such a large creature have possibly sneaked up on him, whatever invisible material they were standing on evidently didn't make a sound. ERIC's other conscious passenger was leaner than the ambulance droid but fully half again as tall as Weaver, nearly three metres (making it taller than ERIC itself!), and from its body language was clearly trying to use it to intimidate.
Weaver had been generous in assuming many of ERIC's features to have been chosen with practicality in mind, but it appeared that the trunk-like legs, featureless mask face, and even the multitude of grasping limbs were all as much vanity features added to increase resemblance to its creators as they were there because they were useful... but there were differences too.
While neither had a visible mouth, this one was clearly speaking from a series of long pipes extending from the back of its neck (perhaps breathing too?) and while some areas of his body (chiefly the head and torso) were layered in thick red armour (it looked natural but he supposed it could be clothing) most of his skin seemed to be made of stretched, fleshy, pink ropes. Possible to wound then, but Weaver didn't fancy his chances in a one-on-one fight, there was a big weight advantage against him.

It was only lucky that it was this one that seemed aggressive rather than the two hanging motionless in the air behind him, they were both larger still.

“Have I been brought here under false pretences? You told me I would face only a brief examination, then I could leave, yet there does not appear to be an exit.” Weaver asked while backing away, he was foolish to have been so trusting.

“I may have... left out some details.” Gan easily kept pace with his longer stride, gesticulating with the boneless limb holding Weaver's severed arm whilst reaching round with several more as if to pre-empt his audience dodging to the side. “Truth is, I need you for something else, and you aren't going anywhere until I get it.”
“If you are intending to use my arm as a bargaining chip, I do not need it.” Weaver presented his slightly newer arm for inspection, “See?”
Gan performed a complicated shrug, and tossed the limb aside. “No matter, I don't think the machine is going to release you anyway even after it's checked you over. Nothing has left this place in years.”
“And... you will convince it to release me if I provide the services you require? I assure you, there is no need to make threats. I assented to coming in here because I need to find allies.”
“Oh no, I can't let you out. If it was that easy I'd have done it myself.”
Gan leaned his expressionless face down to inspect Weaver more closely.
“That's your job.”

It was tough work keeping watch on an obsessive robot while simultaneously staying out of its searching gaze, but Eris was pulling it off with purpose. Near as soon as ERIC had finished eating that other guy it had extended its head out on a pole again and resumed its search for her, and she still didn't really fancy finding out what it looked like on the inside... but she also wanted to be close by when its new occupant returned.
While she had the advantage of size (she was small enough to not even be visible over the rest of a crowd, ERIC was large enough that the crowd had to part to let him move), she was chafing terribly under the requirement for stealth. If she let her powers run loose as she had before she'd be giving her position away, but this was taking a lot longer than she'd expected it would. What was he doing in there?

That's why she was so pleased when all the lights suddenly went out. All along the concourse bulbs flickered and dimmed, stall signs slowly faded, and amusement machines suddenly lost power. The milling crowd stopped their milling around and quietened (though if you listened hard there were distant yells coming from the nearby big top), producing a single, still moment of silence.

An instant later there was a sound astonishingly like rapid gunfire, as the unpopped corn kernels in a couple of food carts began bursting into snacks of their own accord. As people yelled and scrambled to get away from what could be a crazed shooter, they found themselves tripping over a sudden stream of multicoloured rats which had emerged from under every available tarpaulin and seemed to be doing their best to run their tiny paws over bystanders feet.
Their screams were joined by shouts and curses as small objects began to float off into the air and people (fleeing from rats and loud noises but finding themselves more buoyant than expected) began to topple over and into each other. Eris wasn't even doing that last one herself but she appreciated the assistance of whoever was.
Punches were thrown, bags were stolen, all hell broke loose. This was a lot more like it.

After a little bit of effort, Keagan had managed to escape the big top. Unfortunately it... hadn't quite happened in the way he'd hoped it would. The tent fabric had provided an effective handhold initially but when he'd been startled by the sudden mid-air arrival of a river eel (it had been as surprised as him, and darted down and away into the crowd as soon as it met his gaze, he wished he had it so easy) he'd quickly learned that it wasn't quite as strong as it looked.
Now here he was, tumbling slowly up and away towards a distant glass ceiling, and no amount of swimming motions seemed to help change his course. Worse, from what he could see of the ground below (not as much as he would have liked, the lights going out didn't help his already strained vision), the lapse in proper operation of gravity seemed to be confined to a fairly small area of the station, so if he kept floating like this, eventually he was going to find himself in an area where things stayed on the ground as they were supposed to.
Keagan didn't know very much about artificial gravity generation, but he hoped the transition between areas was gradual rather than sudden. He could be fairly confident that a sudden fall wouldn't kill him, but it still wouldn't be pleasant.

And then on top of that, there was the fact that even without his glasses he'd have been able to tell that the area affected by the apparent blackout formed a circle, one roughly centred on... the tent which he had just left. Meaning that if he wanted to find out what was going on and put a stop to it, he was moving helplessly in the wrong direction. Fantastic.
His only other option being to continue to slowly rotate until he fell to the floor and bounced, Keagan started trying to swim again.

[color=#708090 ]ERIC was having similar mobility problems, the darkness combined with the sound of alarms and smell of flames had driven people into a frenzy, but they didn't seem to be able to make up their minds on a direction of escape. People were trying to push in every direction and getting nowhere, and none of them listened to any loud requests to get out of the way or stop fighting either. He'd set his eyes to project a full floodlight beam to help people navigate their way out but it didn't really seem to be helping, in fact a lot of people had apparently decided to float around in the air after they fell over and create even more of an obstacle of themselves, which was exceptionally inconvenient.
This was the second time he'd been paralysed by a riot today, but the mix of participants was diverse enough that he didn't think he could get away with any loopholes this time, and his patient seemed to engrossed with his new friend to be much help in any case.
At least he hadn't seen any injuries that were more than superficial, there was a real danger of someone getting trampled in the melee, especially someone small. Someone with the height of a ten year old for instance would not be safe here at all, so the sooner he could find where Eris had got to the better.

His decision to get an aerial view of the situation unfortunately came at about the time as the flagging gravity systems gave up the ghost entirely. While ERIC was built for hostile environments, that didn't extend to space, and he didn't really understand the concept of a variable gravity constant. It wasn't something his programmers had ever expected to be important. That would be bad if he were merely trying to walk, he was extremely heavy, but it was far worse when propelled by a jet engine perfectly capable of lifting that weight into the air even under completely normal gravity conditions. While what he intended was a very careful, gradual ascent, when he took off it was like firing a cannonball.

ERIC could clearly see that something hadn't quite gone right in the seconds it took for him to travel from the ground to the roof, but the only advice his navigational sensors could tell him was “gravity will slow you down, do nothing”, so that's what he did. When he hit the hardened glass with a reverberating clang audible even within the slowly burning big top, and bounced off, they told him “you're descending too fast, fire again to brake”, so he did that too. By the third time he smashed into the roof, he'd decided that the best strategy was just going to be to pin himself to it through constant thrust, and this... pretty much worked as a temporary measure, though any chance now of finding who he was looking for had pretty much disappeared.

The ceiling was designed to withstand high-velocity impacts but it was also a few years past its due inspection date and perhaps a little out of specification. It didn't break or even crack, but he had left a little pattern of stress fractures across the surface where he'd smacked into it. More alarms blared, further afield. If station security hadn't been on their way already, they would certainly be paying attention now.[/color]

Keagan, fortunately unaware of any impending danger, had been sent spinning by the air currents of the rapid ascent and hadn't been able to help himself yelling “Hey!” as ERIC blew past. The rapid rotation was making him really nauseous but he couldn't really think of a way to slow down. Flailing uselessly to try and reach some kind of equilibrium, it was quite difficult for him to tell what was going on (thank god his glasses hadn't fallen off) but... something had just flown past it right? Some security guards perhaps? There was a big riot below and a fire, and the gravity had turned off, so it would make sense for someone to have come here to investigate. Maybe they could get him back out of the air?
He called out again “Hey! Lend me a hand?” but as soon as he was fixed with a pair of high-intensity torch beams he got the sinking feeling that he'd just made a mistake.

“Request acknowledged!”

ERIC misjudged again, and they both crashed straight through the roof of the blazing tent on the way down.

“I can't believe this is so easy, your security protocols are terrible.”
“Aren't you supposed to be a master programmer? Of course this would be easy for you.”
“Only as much as this is a war machine... that I can interface with this at all is impressive.”
“Whatever, you're a robot and he's also a robot. I'm sure you can figure something out.”

Left with few other options, Weaver had been forced to take part in Gan's poorly established plan. ERIC had produced an access terminal without even questioning why when asked by the alien doctor (it dangled from the big machine cube on an impractically long cable, but seemed by some principle to stay at a fixed position rather than swing on its rope when he was using the keyboard) and he'd been amazed to discover that despite the port's unusual shape, it would respond to him inserting a reshaped finger in the same manner as a PC's USB slot back home.

Some other force was at work here similar to the one which was allowing him to understand anything his fellow captive was saying (he clearly wasn't speaking English, that hadn't taken Weaver long to establish given that he appeared to greatly appreciate the sound of his own voice), if he concentrated he could almost see the glyphs on the screen as something else before they shifted into a form he was capable of understanding and some of them clearly weren't translating properly... but while he was sure this wouldn't stretch far enough to teaching him how to reprogram another AI (something he was a little glad he wasn't going to have to do) there might be something else here that he could use to gain his freedom. He was looking at the user interface for a device capable of forming a dimensional rift! Some debug command or an emergency release function would be ideal, but he was also looking for any other controls he could use to manipulate this interior environment for his own means.

Gan had already given him a brief explanation of why ERIC needed a reality pocket in his job as an ambulance while he was talking about why they were stuck in here (he had gone back to talking about this now, not seeming to mind that nobody was listening), and possibilities for how to use it as a tool against The Grandmaster were already running through his head...
Could they simply freeze such a powerful being in time in the same manner as the two diseased occupants were kept technically alive? Tricking him into this place might not be easy but that still sounded substantially less difficult than the task he had imagined he was setting himself.
And the beds... had the human-sized beds been transferred from some external store or had they been created inside this place? That was worth investigation as well.

But all such plans hinged on being able to find the actual controls.

But now that he'd convinced Gan that he was trying to get them out, he had dropped the aggressive stance and Weaver didn't think he was in any immediate danger... so it wasn't like there was much need to escape immediately as soon as he had found out how. In fact, if he could get ERIC to freeze his would-be captor again (which apparently happened fairly often even without coercion) he could have all the time he wanted.
He could make something useful out of this mistake yet.

Both engrossed in watching the glowing screen, neither of them noticed the mist on the hospital bed slowly reform itself into a child. It wasn't quite the same child it had been when it came in, but it was a pretty good attempt.
Gomorrah wasn't quite sure where it was or what was happening here, it could feel itself in this one apparition and also the rest of itself which was larger... somewhere far off but also simultaneously very close. This might have given some beings cause for introspection, but Gomorrah wasn't particularly interested in such things and so didn't think on it any further. It was here and that was all that was important.
It didn't know or care that its puppet was meant to be caught in suspended animation either, so it bid she get up off the bed and she did. She walked out of sight behind the incongruous brick toilet block, really the only object present large enough to break a line of sight, and sat down again.

It wouldn't usually bother exerting direct influence over any of its spectres like this but it seemed to be having some trouble manifesting anything else. This wasn't really an ideal environment, with little for it to establish a grip onto, but this empty place was full of waiting potential. It felt like it could be if it could just find a way in, like it had in that last place where it had been able to build its own city. There could be room for that here, if it was allowed time to get itself comfortable. This was the thing closest to a building, so it would have to do for a start.

One of the toilets flushed (whatever it had been before, now it was a fairly elderly model with a pull-chain and a hanging cistern that was leaking moss) and a man named Clark walked out carrying a 12-gauge winchester shotgun. He wasn't... quite sure what he'd been doing before he had entered the public toilet block, but he was pretty sure he could recognise that glowing blue guy over there. Had he been threatening... Esther? His sweet little Esther... the darling girl who had been waiting for him outside and was now clinging to his leg. Yes, that was it! He'd tried to take her away from him, they said this wasn't a fit household! He said there had been ”allegations” (whatever that means) from her mum, the lying cow (wasn't she Esther? No, that's not right, Esther's the child), and that he wasn't allowed to see her any more! He couldn't be having that!

“Oi you!” he shouted, as he pointed at Weaver and raised the gun level with his eye.
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus

Jax Ryder was at a bar, he had been drinking, which was making him happy, because it meant he could stop devoting brain cells towards worrying about what sort of horrible atrocities everyone else in the buddyfest was getting up to, and that he was probably safe, since no one else had ever come close to the bars (or whatever passed for one) in the previous rounds. They had always been his final bastion of rest when things got to hot, even before he got trapped in a battle to the death.

His initial scream of terror over with, Jax assessed the situation and with great hope that Ella wasn't behind it, he switched to his predatory, barking tactics. "EY, WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? YOU COULDA JUST DROPPED ON ME AND I WOULDA GONE KAPUT!"

Keagan climbed down from the now, for better or worse, settled and grounded ERIC to face this odd yelling man who only seemed to be speaking English. He tried to take a step back, the loud accusations only increasing in volume and intelligibility, only for the man to raise his pitch higher and add various pointing fingers into his wild dance of anger.

Keagan mused on if he should try to get ERIC to intervene, when to his complete horror, the man started to fly upward. Keagan's eyes opened wide.



The commanding deep voice rang through the bar, and while all of the regulars continued with their mingling, everyone else froze in place. While he was screaming and causing a giant scene towards a mostly innocent minor, the bartender, a large and imposing man in sunglasses had lifted the pathetic used car salesman by his clothes.

"Now, listen, if any of us should have beef with this kid and the robot, its me, since I own the place. And, even if I had beef, screaming it out like an untrained dog won't solve shit."

Jax, now released from the bartenders grip, got down on his knees and once more turned to the defensive, "I'M SORRY PLEASE DON'T HURT ME I DIDNT MEAN ANYTHING BY IT IVE JUST BEEN UNDER A LOT OF STRESS YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE THIS NONSENSE."

Keagan, somewhat recovered from this bizarre lashing, managed to give a quip, "Oh, let me guess, you got kidnapped and are in some sort of battle to the death?"

Jax, continued on his sordid whine, "NOT ONLY THAT, BUT I KEEP GETTING OWNED!"

"Heh heh heh, alright then, spill the tale. Let's hear all about it." The bartender returned to behind his bar, and continued to work on the drinks.

Jax, in the moment, and not very interested in finding out what other choices he had here, began his recap of the Bickering Buddyfest, "Alright, so before this old god broad called the Housewife decided to put her mitts all over me, I was just your run of the mill used car salesman, you know, vendor of various vehicles of questionable everything, able to give easy demonstrations thanks to this doohickey that connects good ol' me, to the Lot, where I've got all of my stock there, ripe for the takin."

As Jax started to get into the details of his fellow contestants and his abduction, Keagan stood there, confused, looking at the bartender, who motioned for him to sit down, listen and relax.

"Sos the first of these rounds sounded fine and dandy, it was at some geriatric factory, Happy Holmes Homes, let me tell you, I ain't never seen that many people so happy to be on the brink of death, but first of all, on these the other wackos I had to deal with, the first was and still is the worst, this real stuck up broad, Patricia."


Patricia could of course fight and was actually looking forward to it. If there was one thing that Ella's smiling face deserved, it was a fist. However, the witch could dodge, and while it was obvious that Ella couldn't throw a punch to save a life (not that she would) she had more stamina and speed than you would expect. While Patricia had been able to land a blow or two, there was nothing decisive enough. It didn't help that the power kept flashing on and off, no doubt the work of Legasaur the Stegosaur's sabotage, and that she didn't want to leave the range of Hippocrates' vocal barrier. If things kept up as they were, she wasn't sure if she would be able to get the clean kill she needed to rid herself of the giggly witch once and for all.

She could tell at the very least, that Ella was hurting, one of the few human traits the witch exhibited, but in her opinion, it wasn't enough. With things as they were, she would win, but Ella was sadistic, resourceful, and worst of all, crafty.

Trisha felt a bit conflicted. While she wasn't out of shape or anything, she certainly couldn't match this sort of technique. It certainly didn't help that with all of the things going on, she felt... very out of place, looking around at the very dead She-Boom, Vigil doing something(?) to Galatea's still living(?) body, and what she saw as a much better version of herself fighting an absurdly powerful being that was only barely subdued by her horse. It wasn't really a good time for her.

"Oh Hippocrates, you still love me right, even though I can't do cool kicks and punches?"

As he was busy subduing Ella's powers, Hippocrates was unable to neigh in agreement.

With everyone's eyes on the title match going on in the center of the stage, Vigil was attempting to stabilize Galatea. While his species have a host of various support powers, they usually kept them to themselves to prevent changing too much, while an Altar could heal any disease and stop plagues, and many would like to, an outsider to a universe solving problems in the universe, could only cause trouble in the universe. That said, it was obvious that whatever course this scenario was originally poised to take had been thrown out the window when a dozen odd strangers were warped in against their will. Vigil had already bent the rules when he gave Galatea her powers, which meant he was directly responsible for what had happened to her, and he wasn't willing to lose anyone, he couldn't risk it again.

"I'm sure no one will mind a third infraction, at this point." The rabbitesque couldn't bring Galatea back by himself, he desperately needed Lynette to come, and fast. With enough power placed inside Galatea's body to keep her from deteriorating, Vigil poured some more power out, just enough to hopefully catch Lynette's attention. An unnecessary, and ultimately damaging action.


"So up until now, I've been knee deep in jolly old patrons, dodging the robo nurses and hoping that they don't start treating me like the shmucks that they've got around. That's when this big guy, some demonoid looking guy with a big glowing arm decides he's gunna fuck things up for the restuva us by taking Ella, the so far floaty broad hostage. So likes I said, this broad just kept to herself, ignored the rest of us, and kept talking about some songs or some shit, harmless, and easy kill later on for the survivors, yanno? But instead, this guy is all, survival of the fittest, and decides that he's gunna rub her out now. Only, the jokes on him, because his demon nonsense breaks her sound equipment, and she starts screaming and smiling and its horrific I tell ya, you see this girl, you better start running! Sos with the demonoid kaputsky, the housewife goes and yells at us for get this, murdering in her murder contest, and we all end up in some magical fairy land national park. Since I've got some room to breathe, I figure, might as well start using up my stock if I ever want to see home again."


Lynette, the psychic, Aria, and Cat Six were somewhat awkwardly driving to the tent where everything was happening each one more or less keeping to themselves. The psychic was silently plotting and making sense of his visions, Lynette was rummaging through Cat Six's glove compartment for music and hoping that Vigil, Trisha, and Eris were okay, and Aria was in the drivers seat talking to Cat Six.

"So, you have feelings, huh? Did you just start off with them or did you like, develop them over time?"

After a moment of contemplation, the speakerbox sparked, "THATS.... SOMEWHAT RUDE."

"Oh! Was it... I'm sorry, I just..." Aria made a sorrowful sigh and sunk into her seat.

After a few moments, Cat Six replied, "DO YOU MEAN IT?"



"Yes. I just asked because I was curious, without really thinking about it, and I shouldn't have."


"Well... it's because until a while ago, I didn't have any feelings, or my own identity really... I was a part of someone else... and they're gone now... while I'm not."


"You shouldn't be sorry for that, you look like you've been through a lot. But it's ok. You aren't going back to the lot, or to Jax, I promise."


"I don't really know, I guess... I just felt like I had to... also Jax is kind of a shit."

There was a small silence, the psychic shaking a little now, his hand rubbing forehead, and Aria and Cat Six feeling a bit awkward. This silence was broken when Lynette finally picked from one of Cat's cassette tapes, "AHA! Found a good one!"

With Lynette's exclamation, everyone snapped back into the present, and Aria asked, "What is it?"

An ecstatic Lynette answered, "Fall Out Boy!" She waved the tape close to the cassette player and asked, "Cat, is it ok if we play this?"


"YEAH!" The magical girl slammed that tape in as the 'na-nananas' na-nanana'd before the band started with their Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa's.

"B-B-B-Be careful making wishes in the dark, dark."


"So, and let me re-iterate, we are on a giant boat paradise in the middle of the ocean, and instead of some much needed R&R we've got a Genghis Kahn gorilla arms type threatening to throw anyone who harms 'his vassal,' that delusional broad, overboard and meanwhile, there I am, being swung around like a flag and being used as the example. So I'm beggin for mercy here, hoping and wishing while the two just start taking over the cruiser, guests, and all, and I start flying over! I start screaming and seeing the light, closing my eyes and seeing good ol' Jax from start to finish when I remember that I have a few all-terrain gizmos back in the lot."

"So for once in his goddamn life, I, Jax Ryder pull out a cool move. I reach into the lot and take out this hovercraft motorcycle thing, a good one, with flames and a real engine that roars out, but not for the bad reasons, and then fly around. So I thinks to myself, Jax, you've got a way out, you can just ride this puppy home. But then I remember back when I tried the same deal at the park, and how I got lost and stranded and how the fairies had to take me to their leader and I decided that I wasn't going to take this! I was gunna save the day! So Jax here revs up the hovercraft, and rides right back to where I got tossed, I turn up the radio and some really teeny emo crap comes on and Ella just starts screamin. Guess she didn't like that band!"


The fight between Ella and Patrica was not really going anywhere at all. Trisha felt a bit more self-assured and once more wondered if she should try to intervene, but eventually decided to move her attention to Hippocrates. She figured that she might as well attempt to discover at least a little bit more about what she was actually doing to Ella, if she could strengthen it, she might be able to make things even easier for... the other her.

The small pulse that Vigil sent out was simple, it would stabilize Galatea and let Lynette know where they were. However, as it was a magic pulse, in his haste, he forgot to account for any other magical persons who may be in the area, specifically the one dodging Patricia's fists and kicks.

The magic pulse gave Ella a moment of clarity, silence from the horrid voice of the horse whale, but that didn't help against Patricia who was relentless. As luck would have it though, the lights flashed out giving her the opportunity she wanted.

Trisha was contemplating altering the pitch of Hippocrates, when a beam of light shot out at her precious companion. It was a soundless beam, obviously coming from Ella, but still having the feeling of coming from no where. Trisha reacted immediately, keeping any conclusions for after Hippocrates was stabilized. It was obvious now that Ella and sound didn't mix, but what sounds worked and which didn't?

he he he he

Ella had some of her powers back now that the horse was incapacitated, but it wasn't enough, not to do what she wanted to do to Patricia. But, it would just be a matter of time, and with Patricia on the defensive, time was on her side. Patricia dodged the flares with little effort and clenched her fist angrily. This should have been it! She was going to wipe that smile of the multiverse! Still, she had to keep calm and composed, unless she wanted to be the one who was got wiped.

Vigil, his deed done and his worries now a bit less plentiful, returned to the situation at hand. Ella was using magic again, Hippocrates was being tended to, and while Patricia could hold her own, it wasn't guaranteed that Trisha could nurse the horse back before Patricia got tired or Ella got lucky. The rabbit ran and leaped forward, lunging towards Ella and missing at the last moment.

"Oh, I see you've finally decided to join us?" Patricia wasn't in a very happy mood, and she was very ready to take it out on the fancy rabbit.

"I was calling for backup."

"Oh, how wonderful, any reason that Ella came back in action, or is that a coincidence."

"I... may have made a miscalculation, but everything's fine, we just need to buy more time."

"Buying time is apparently, all that I've been doing, and nothing is fine! She-Boom died, she was cut through like a piece of paper! Galatea went down easier! What can any backup from you bring?"

"We don't have time to bicker."

he he he :* ;) ;* i disagreeeeee

Two beams this time, one for each, shot out at the pair, who responded in unison with, "Shut up!"

"Wait, do you hear that?"

"No, I don't have rabbit ears, what is it?"

"It sounds like... Fall Out Boy..."

"What is that?"

My songs know what you did in the daaaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAArk

Cat Six crashed through the tent, flying through to the center of the stage as her cassette tape screamed out.

So light 'em up, up, up
Light 'em up, up, up
Light 'em up, up, up
I'm on fire

Ella started to scream, standing still long enough for Patricia to punch her squarely in the face as she blindly fired out some magic rays. As the song continued, she rolled on the floor screaming, leaving Patricia a little confused as Vigil went for the car to drag Lynette to Galatea.

Trisha, who had stabilized her horse just in time to see the chaos asked, "What just happened?" before turning to Aria in the drivers seat and noting, "You look different."

"Well," Aria began, "It's a long story, uh, I guess first of all you should know that Jolene died, and that my name is Aria."

"What... I'm so sorry... Wait, are you like... her?" Trisha pointed towards Patricia, wondering if there were other versions of everyone here...

Aria saw Patricia's similarities to Trisha, but also saw her differences, "I uh... doubt it actually..."

The psychic motioned towards Ella, still shaking from whatever he was or wasn't seeing.

Patricia had already gotten to work on holding Ella still, while she really wanted to kill her, doing so with bare hands would be messy, and with the new arrivals, things got too weird for her to just leave without getting some answers, something she hadn't actually thought could happen anymore. "Oh, it's you again, help me restrain the witch. Are... you okay?"

The psychic nodded, doing his best to keep his composure. "It's them." He nodded in the direction of Lynette and Vigil, who were now restoring Galatea, "Something about them just... messes me up. I don't think they're normal, even for uh, our standards."

"I've noticed, the rabbit brought in some knock-off version of me and I think he gave some other girl magic powers."

"Ah, so thats Trisha."

"You know her name?"

"Well, technically, we're here to kill you or her, Jax sends his regards by the way."

Patricia felt disgusted just at the mention of the slimy man's name. "Fucking coward."

Galatea opened her eyes, her heavy breaths somehow calmed by Vigil and Lynette smiling down on her. She was alive, healthy, breathing, and before she could question it, Lynette left to check on the other groups, "I'll be back in a bit, just sit tight!" Vigil was about to follow when Galatea put one of her hands on his back.

Vigil looked back and saw her uncharacteristically grave. The happy-go-lucky circus girl looked into the rabbits eyes and said, "Vigil, I was dead."

"No, you were almost dead, Lynette saved you."

"Vigil. I was dead. I died. I shouldn't have survived whatever... happened to me. Lynette brought me back to life. But she just... brushed it off. That shouldn't be possible Vigil... what's going on?"


...oh, oh, whoa.

Ella's eyes snapped open as the rock song ended. She wasn't very happy.


Ella raised herself into the air and got rid of the restraints that she had been put in. She wasn't in the best situation. Weakened, repeatedly embarrassed and put down, first by a horse and then by shitty music, and now facing two magic users, their pet, the psychic, and Patricia. Her smile contorted as she raised her hand. There was only one way out of this for her.

There was a flash, both from Ella's hand, and in the psychic's mind. "NO!" He screamed out, the only sound in the flash, and when everyone's eyes opened, Ella was still floating, but the psychic was on the floor, in front of Patrica.

"You saved me."


The light that had blown into the psychic was now eating away at him, it was gruesome and painful, "I had to, I saw it. I can't change fate. But... ggg, that's not the only reason I did it. Those... two, they can, and they're gunna... you've got to..."

The psychic closed his eyes for the last time, and Patricia looked up, angrily, as Ella and the man that saved her vanished.

Only... she didn't. "What? Why am I still here?"

While it wasn't a direct answer, Aria asked, "Where did Trisha go?"


"And sos, we say so long to the glorious spasort, Ski-Sky-Slope, and end up in this place, right after the usual whine about the murdered soul and such. And, I'll be honest, no brownie points or nuttin, it's been great! Not only have I avoided the murderess supreme, I've managed to set it up so that I won't see no one but that lousy psychic. Let me tel ya, he's a piece of work that one, he was traveling around with two broads, one of them in some weird girly outfit, the other one some middle aged cop type with auburn hair, a real work that one, n-"

"WHAT!" Keagan shocked even himself with that, but was ready to follow it up, "YOU SAW JOLENE AND LAUREN?"

"Woah woah kid, calm down, jeez, suddenly all excited for nothing, I've got some bad news for you, I sent them off towards Ella."

"WHAT!?" Keagan stood up, horrified.

"Listen, listen, I didn't mean anything by it kid, I saw the psychic get up to his old tricks and I wanted, nay, needed to get them as far away from me as possible. He started to go on about where she was gunna be was or is, I dunno the deal with him, and I gave them the means to get there as fast as possible before hightailing it as far from there as I could, for once, I'm innocent I tell ya."


Keagan, going on nothing but adrenaline and following the desire of everyone in the bar, swung a fist at Jax, punching him just as he vanished into nothing.

From the perspective of the bar patrons, Keagan just punched Jax so hard he got vaporized, causing an eruption of mirth from the various drunks. Keagan just stood there, confused, dazed, tired, and a little sad...
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
The Housewife sighed, her usual attire replaced with a hastily wrapped towel around her hair and a nice warm looking robe. She was upset. "You know, you guys really know when to pick the worst time to die, I was just about to finish doing my hair, you know how hard it is to get appointments with The Hairdresser?"

Trisha just stood there, confused, and somewhat shocked, as Jax and Ella stood beside her, neither paying attention to the Housewife ramble on and on about how inconvenient this entire thing was. The Housewife didn't even want to do this battle? While Trisha couldn't easily wrap her head around the idea of wanting to run this sort of thing, for some reason The Housewife's attitude towards it just made everything worse...

"Ugh, where do I even send you now, I tried to be nice you know, send you off to nice vacation spots and quiet locales, I never get to go to these kinds of places you know! I'm being generous! But noooo, you all have to go and murder murder murder. Oh well, it's fine, I'll figure out something, just like I always do!"

Wait... If I'm here.. does that mean I'm in the Housewife's battle now? Trisha looked once again at the two remaining contestants in the Bickering Buddyfest, she had enough experience with Ella, that's for sure, but she didn't have Haewl's DNA anymore, or Hippocrates... And even if she did manage to re-create the dampening effect, which wasn't even assured to work, there was the other guy, what could he do? He looked... very slimy... What if he could excrete slime? Did she have anything that could deal with that?

"You know, I can't really think of many places I could send you now that we haven't really covered, it's been so long since I've really looked into that sort of thing, oh gosh..."

Trisha started to worry more, what if she was sent somewhere without animals? What if she couldn't convince anyone to help her? It was at that moment, that Trisha realized that she could actually speak.

"Uhm... pardon me... Miss... The Housewife?"

"Patricia I keep telling you this, you can call me Evelyn, were' both adults here."

"Well, actually uh, Evelyn, you see, I'm kind of... not Patricia... I'm Trisha..."

The Housewife gave Trisha a rather confused look before reaching for her glasses, putting them on, and seeing that yes, Trisha was not Patricia. "Wait a minute... Aren't you from Alan's battle?"

"Well... Yes, I suppose."

"Well, gosh, I'm sorry hun, oh this is embarrassing, how did I manage to pick you out instead of Patricia... and... hold on a moment... how do you know who Patricia is..."

The Housewife's eyes narrowed as she took a look back at the circus and identified the various members of Deathgame 9000.

"OOooooohhh... That lazy son of mine..." The Housewife simmered and took a few breaths, "No. No. Calm down Evelyn, remember The Matriarch's Guide on Child Bearing, don't get mad, teach a lesson. And I know just the lesson."

The Housewife patted Trisha on the head and said, "Thanks dear, I'm very sorry about all this, be right back!" And with that, The Housewife vanished.


"So what happened?" Patricia knew what had happened, Trisha had been taken to the next round in her stead, however, she didn't know how she felt about that yet, so she needed some other opinions first.

Vigil was very happy to give his take on matters, "Trisha got taken into the next round of your battle..."

"I guess the Housewife got you two mixed up... But that means that she's stuck with Ella and Jax... Ugh... What's going to happen now..."

"I suppose that either she'll realize her mistake, and switch them back... or... something else."

"Before he died, the psychic said something about you two, it doesn't sound like we're going to split up just yet."

"Then we need to act fast... Lynette, link up to Galatea." Lynette nodded and went back to Galatea as Vigil turned to Patricia.

"If the two of you just switch back, it would be nice to have a line of communication, stand still."

Before she could protest, Vigil's eyes started to glow, and a beam of light shot out, and upon connecting to Patricia's head, materialized a cute rabbit charm pin on her hair.

"This is garish."

"It's going to be the only way we can keep in touch if we get separated."

Lynette came back again, "Alright, done, me and Galatea have a link."

"Good, teach Patricia how to use the pin."

As Vigil went back to finish his conversation with Galatea, and Lynette and Patricia went over the basics in multi-universal communication compliant fashion accessories, Aria and Cat Six wondered exactly what was going on.


"I think so... And so is that Ella girl... But now what?"


"I don't really know... neither of us are... really part of all this... Do you think we should ask?"


Aria and Cat edged closer to Patricia, "Uhm... excuse me?"

Lynette was just finishing up her tutorial, "And that's it really! Hmmm, oh hey Aria, good to see you're safe!"

"Yeah uhm, well I was wondering if either of you knew what would happen to us?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if the battle moves on to the next round, what happens to us?"

"Well, all I know is that regardless of how close or far you are to me, you're your own person now, you wouldn't disappear or anything. I wouldn't know about Cat Six or if like, you'd come with us. Patricia, do you know anything about stragglers?"

"Up until now, Jax's vehicles haven't followed us, but a few... natives have come, despite not being a part of the er... Buddyfest. Then again, none of Jax's other cars have had an Artificial Intelligence either."

"So it's all down to whatever The Housewife or uh... Alan decides... great. Sorry Cat."


While the girls waited to face whatever the future held in store, Vigil was preparing for the worst. "Okay Galatea I can't give you the truth, you deserve it, but I can't waste any time."

Galatea was sitting, looking at the people flooding out of the Big Top now that the power issue had been settled and the various circus people had control of things again. There were a few people dealing with She-Boom's corpse, some tending to Yoel, and a lot just sort of standing around wondering if they should question the people who had just been at the center of the chaos that just ensued.

Vigil was drawing something on the sand and started to half talk to her half mutter to himself, "Don't let this mark get disturbed, I should have done this earlier, I'm sorry again, the mark is going to call in my sister. She'll be purple and blue, more catlike than I am, she should be able to help stabilize whatever damage Ella and the others have done."

"What about me?"

"You'll still keep your powers and when she comes, tell Lynette so we can talk to each other and figure out how to stop these battles. In the meantime, just keep the mark safe, and just clean up. I'm sorry."

"You don't... have to keep saying sorry... I just want to know what's going on!"

"Mi is better at explaining these sort of things than I am, she has most of the details. Just promise me that you won't tell Lynette."

"Wait, she doesn't know? She doesn't know about what she can do?"

Vigil finished the mark and then tried to look at Galatea, but couldn't. When they met, she was so happy, innocent, and he ruined it. In more ways than one. "I... made a mistake. I ruined Lynettes's life, just like I have yours."

"Vigil... this isn't your fault."

Before Vigil could respond, he vanished from the circus.

Galatea sighed, she had a lot of work to do.


"Well hello and may I formally welcome you all to the Bickering Buddyfest!"

The three remaining members of the Bickering Buddyfest stood together while the six normal members of Deathgame 9000 (and also Hippocrates), Gomorrah's essence behind them, and Aria and Cat Six were separated in their own corner.

"Now, I'm sure that you Deathgamers are wondering what you are doing here! Well, you see, Alan didn't tell me that he was going to invite all of you to my battle! So I figure, if he wants to have you all join in The Bickering Buddyfest! Why not let you continue on in the fun! Now... let's see..."

The Housewife started to count some heads, counting Gomorrah as one, but counting Vigil and Lynette separately, as well as adding in Aira.

"Oh my gosh... there's eight of you? None of you have died? I'm so jealous! That Alan always gets so much more than he deserves. I wish I picked a batch as good as you, oh, not that the three I have left aren't a joy to work with either." The Housewife waved at her battlers, she was the only enjoying any of this.

"Oh... I don't think I've been this excited since my school years... Oh, it was such a time, I spent almost all of my free time reading mystery books... Actually..."

The Housewife left for a moment, then came back with an old looking comic in hand. The title read, MY/S/TORY.

"Oh yes, I've found it! Back in the day, this was all the rage! Let me read the back."

Quote:A timeless tale that will leave you on the edge of your seat! A story like no other! Taking advantage of the medium like no other! Crafted by the best of the best!

MY/S/TORY is a suspenseful comic that takes place in the small quiet town of Fervour Mour, where nothing is ever as it seems! As of late, mysterious things keep happening in the town, and various people take it upon themselves to find out how and why!

IN THIS VOLUME! Things in Fervour Mour start to take a turn for the sudden as everything begins to link up... Only vital pieces remain missing. It's the crossover you've been waiting for, when the many mystery solvers unite once and for all! But could there be a traitor among them? And who will lead the path to the truth? Find out!


"Oh, this really brings backs memories. You know, I never got to see how it ends, I'm excited! I hope the rest of you are too! Have fun!"

Her summary done, the two groups vanished again, this time into a world of mystery and murder, Fervour Mour.


"Darn it!"

As luck would have it, Lynette and Vigil had stayed united, but that didn't mean they had to be happy about anything else.

"Vigil, can Mi even get us if we aren't in a real place?"

"I don't know, but we don't have a choice here, and we have worse things to deal with."


"Yes, we need to get Trisha, Aria, anyone who can't defend themselves, and then incapacitate her as soon as possible. She's dangerous."

"Don't worry, I'm sure we'll come out on top."

Vigil peeked around, it seemed they were in a street, but it was mostly empty, judging from the sun, it was still early. "You should probably change back to normal, blend in a little more."

Lynette nodded and powered down, "Should I try to talk to Patricia?"

"No, she can handle herself, Ella seems to have a special interest in her. Everyone else is the priority."

With Lynette back to normal, the two walked off, into the Fervour Mour business district, hoping that they'd find their friends before Ella, or whatever else lurked in the town, did first...

RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Diane, I have just reserved a post
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Take the thirty-one up north past the city, through the other city, and north a bit more, upstate towards the kind of land where your normal idea of what America’s supposed to look like breaks down a bit—not that it isn’t a pretty sight, mountains and woodlands and all, but I dunno, something about the way humanity asserts itself now and again with a big electrical tower, whatsit, a pylon; or some kind of plant or facility buried in a valley all surrounded by chain link; never mind the road itself, cutting through the land like a scar, which I suppose is what it is—I’m talking about the kind of human presence that doesn’t look quite human, though, like humanity, it stands apart from nature, if you understand me—you know what kind of country I’m talking about if you’ve been there—pretty as a postcard that’s stained with tears and a cigarette burn right through the middle—take exit 93, if you don’t miss the sign, night-driving as you might be depending what time it was you left the city—that’s where you’ll find Fervour Mour.

Exit 93 will take you right past that certain vision of fallen America, into a forest by a lake that the oldest people knew of old, and you’ll find that the road on which you travel is now called Main Street—so marked because along it you will find both of Fervour Mour’s two count-em two traffic lights—of course, I’m talking hypothetical, because it’s six weeks now the way off of Exit 93 is buried under thirty feet of snow, as tends to happen in winter, and ain’t shit that government nor private enterprise can do about it. But say you came in summer, the first sign you’ll see after of course the WELCOME TO FERVOUR MOUR sign with whatever charming defacement the local teens have sprayed on it—currently I believe it’s FERAL CATS DON’T ALWAYS BITE BUT THEY ALWAYS LISTEN—you never can quite decipher this teen slang, nowadays—but I digress—the second sign you’re gonna see is the sign for DAWN’S NIGHT LODGE—which is to say—I know this always confuses people, but Dawn won’t have it changed—the Night Lodge, owned and managed by Dawn—not to suggest that night follows or belongs to dawn—though the old stories speak of a place where it does just that—


FBI special agent Drake Dancer was contemplating his surroundings over the day’s second cup of coffee (compliments as always to Dawn). The sounds, sights, and smells of the Dawn’s Night Lodge—which he’d come to think of as both home and office, these past weeks—created, as always, a tranquil and meditative atmosphere conducive to investigative rigor.

Unfortunately, Agent Dancer was forced to admit, his investigative talents—which were not insignificant—had thus far failed him. Six weeks and still Patsy Oscuro’s killer eluded him and those citizens and officers who aided him in his investigation. Of course, the thrill of the chase was one of the great pleasures in his life, and ordinarily ever compounded by a seemingly-insurmountable challenge… and yet his failures in this case were disturbing to him. It was not only his occupational duty, but his moral imperative to identify and apprehend the killer. Not because of the abstract concept of justice—Agent Dancer was skeptical of his fellow lawmen who viewed themselves as avatars of God’s wrath, citing an ethical prerogative to facilitate the suffering of evil men—but because it was the only way the good and innocent people of Fervour Mour could sleep at night.

Bad dreams were, of late, as dependable a feature of the landscape as the trees.

Agent Dancer spent some time swilling his discontent around in his mouth along with his coffee when into the Dawn’s Night Lodge there walked an absolute vision of a young woman, dressed in white. And the puzzle took on a new dimension. The trick of the Fervour Mour case was its finitude—there were only so many possible subjects, so many possible scenarios, so many places to look. And here was somebody new. Even under ordinary circumstances, a woman like that in a time like this was bound to attract some attention.

But most striking of all was her resemblance to the deceased Patsy Oscuro—the girl at the center of all his thoughts.

The woman looked confused—lost, one might say, hard as that is to believe in a one-hotel kind of town—so Agent Dancer took upon himself the role of volunteer concierge. He walked over and extended a hand. “Hello, miss,” he said. “Welcome to the Dawn’s Night Lodge. You wouldn’t happen to be new to Fervour Mour, would you?”

For a moment, the young lady looked Agent Dancer over in the way that certain types of women often did, but then she diverted to his eyes, evidently deciding that she had more important things to be doing. “I would,” she said, haltingly. “I’m looking for somewhere to stay, and I don’t have any money.”

“Ah.” Having concluded that he was not dealing with a master criminal, Agent Dancer decided there was no need to immediately get to the bottom of her mystique. “Purse snatched?”

The woman smiled, grateful for the excuse. “Yes,” she said. “That’s right.”

“Well, I think you’ll find that the people of Fervour Mour are the hospitable kind, when they aren’t snatching purses. You’ll find a place to rest your head without too much trouble. You flew in, I take it?”


Agent Dancer pulled out a chair. “Please sit.” She sat; he took the seat opposite and sipped his coffee. “We haven’t gotten a lot of air traffic in or out since just after the road shut down,” he said. “Do you want coffee? My treat.”

Coffee? Isn’t there tea?”

Agent Dancer winced; maybe he’d misjudged this woman. She had the sort of charms that could make a man misdirect his investigative faculties; he had to be careful. “I’ll ask next time Dawn comes around,” he said coldly. “Miss, before we speak any more, I don’t want us to mistake each other. I have no desire to mislead you as to my purpose, so I’ll get to the point.”

The woman blushed. “I…” she said. “But we’ve only just met. I don’t usually…”

Agent Dancer laid his badge and identification on the table in front of her. “My name is Special Agent Drake Dancer. I’m an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation assigned to Fervour Mour to investigate the death of Patsy Oscuro.”

“Oh.” (Slightly disappointed, mostly relieved.) “You’re… law enforcement.”

“In part, yes. Is that a problem for you?”

“No,” said the woman. “No, of course not. I just wasn’t expecting…”

“Of course, I don’t want you to I’m ‘just some suit,’” said Agent Dancer. “The Bureau as a whole tends to mistake coldness for professionality; I try not to make the same mistake. A holistic model of criminal investigation, as well as basic human decency—the needs of the spirit—demand that I involve myself comprehensively in any community to which my investigations bring me. Whether or not that involvement proves directly pertinent to the case at hand.”

“As a licensed veterinarian, I understand perfectly.”

“Ah! A noble profession if ever there was one. There are so few who are willing to offer our animal companions the care they so deserve.” The woman visibly relaxed. Bringing a smile to the face of such an individual was, of course, its own reward, but it also opened some investigative doors. “Now--again, in the interest of full disclosure--I do believe our meeting here to be pertinent to the case that brings me to Fervour Mour. I’m not mistaken in assuming that you’re a relation of the victim? The resemblance is undeniable.”

She hesitated. Blinked. “You’re not mistaken,” she said. “Trisha Oscuro. Of the… southern? Oscuros. I’m a distant cousin. Patsy and I were pen pals. Briefly. Years ago. When I heard what happened…”

“You felt it was your duty to come down and see. I think we understand each other quite well, Dr. Oscuro.”

“‘Trisha.’ Please.”

“And, if you’ll forgive me one of my flights of fancy, I think it was more than just my good fortune and your sense of familial that brought you here.”

Trisha blushed again. A reaction to that “good fortune” line, or something more? “I don’t know what you—” she started.

“I only mean that I believe some manner of higher providence to be guiding events at this stage in the ‘game’—if you’ll forgive my irreverence in using that term—that I and the yet-unrevealed murderer have been ‘playing.’ If you’re interested in assisting in my investigation, it is possible that your veterinary acumen—and your uncanny resemblance to the deceased—might open some doors that have remained shut to me.” Agent Dancer looked around. The lodge’s cafeteria was nearly empty. “Until then, I’d suggest that you stay out of sight. That same resemblance may attract some unfriendly attention.”

“I’ll do anything I can to help,” Trisha said earnestly. “I’m a very good veterinarian. And I’d appreciate your help in… keeping out of sight.”

“That’s easily done. Why don’t you go lie down in my room? I’ll lend you the key.”

“Oh. Oh. I, um… I wouldn’t wish to impose—”

“It’s no worry at all,” said Agent Dancer, grinning. “I haven’t used that bed in weeks. He tapped his coffee cup and said this last in a whisper:

“I don’t sleep anymore.”

—But onward from the Dawn’s Night Lodge now—for you would not be staying there unless you had some business further up the road—which curves now downward and eastward, spiraling slowly down off of hill into bog—skirting the coast of Lake Proper—all the marsh frozen over now, but the ice on the lake is thinner—maybe a body who had reason to steer clear of the road might make it across without falling through—the most fascinating thing about winter is the way that the ice often reveals things in the marsh that are again hidden in the murk of the water come the thaw—but stick to the road and you come to the first of the two aforementioned traffic lights; this one marks Main Street’s intersection with Old Lake Road.

Now, that traffic light was deemed necessary primarily because of the school—when the Fog comes over the water a good old-fashioned crossing guard can’t hold a candle to a glaring red light—not that the good townsfolk of Fervour Mour didn’t try and make do in stubborn defiance of the onset of the twentieth century—which stubbornness led to casualties and in fact fatalities at the intersection and elsewhere, believe you me—a child fatality at the end of that, in fact—now, what can be said about that? Child dies so young, surely some force is to blame—sure enough there were those who blamed the stubbornness and so moved at town meeting to fund the erection of the traffic light—others blamed the automobile and so (seeing the light as a validation, a tacit acceptance of the automobile) resisted the light—some were even so bold as to blame the child for walking in the Fog so heedlessly—myself, I blame the Fog—which might be construed by some as wisdom i.e. a reluctance to blame aught but senseless chance for a senseless death—but those who might say such do not know the Fog the way I do—


Chuck “Chaz” Azalea ran the red light straight through. Like, vroom, whoo, giggle. Of the bad decisions he had made tonight, this one was not entirely unreasonable:

1) Anyone only ever gave a shit about the light when school was getting out;

2) Who the fuck was gonna be coming down Main at this time of night anyway and with the way back to the highway closed;

3) What the hell is even the point of driving drunk if you’re going to do things like stop at red lights? You stop moving, let a fog-shrouded red light tell you what to do, that’s when paranoia sinks in and the night is ruined.

Anyway, 4), Marcia—one of the more legitimately bad bad decisions Chaz had made tonight—seemed to like it. Hers was the giggle. Marcia had hair straight out of MTV, like the curls, like Chaz liked, and she wore jingly bracelets, and chewed bubblegum in a way that just naturally made a hot-blooded young male think of blowjobs. She was Fervour Mour born and bred like the rest of them but looked like she might have been a city girl, like on the TV. She and Chaz had been giving each other the eye since even before what happened to Patsy, but nothing was gonna come of it while he was still a murder suspect.

The videotape had sorted that out, just last night, and the hell he’d been through for it. Story in itself, there. But now he had Alibi, and couldn’t Dancer or the sheriff or anyone give him any shit about what happened to Patsy no more. So now that he’d rubbed it in the law’s face that they were Wrong About Him, he could finally get back to the work of his life, i.e. proving to the local moms and wholesome types that they were Right About Him All Along.

So, past the intersection is where Old Lake Road, just as fake as everything else in this town, isn’t even on the lake anymore, and starts to do this swerving kinda dance up and down the hills into the deep forest. Nothing up out this far east but a couple rich fucks who built their mansion on the other end of the hill, to see the sunrise, like. That and some hunting cabins, some old Indian religious shit, you know, woodsy stuff. Chaz just liked the road. Absolute best place to take the convertible for a spin, especially whilst tanked. And plenty of places to pull over at any given moment and bend your companion over the hood of the car—get a look at what’s under all that denim. It was a good kind of night. Chaz felt like one of them old Indians they tell you about in the brochures, who’d get blitzed on those flowers that used to grow by the lake and go running naked through the woods thinking they could turn into different animals or whatever. Chaz, not to put too fine a point on it, was a goddamn wolf tonight. Tape deck blasting some local garage-grunge shit that’s as much to scare off bears as it is to stop the voices in his head. That sound like thunder.

Like any responsible-ass teen, Chaz calculated his alcohol needs off-the-cuff to make sure he was good to drive, but not too good-to-drive to drive, you know? So maybe he didn’t account for the fact that he hadn’t previously had a drop to drink since three days after what happened to Patsy, and might have gone through a brief period of something that might have been shakes, if it wasn’t just that he was sad about Patsy; and maybe he hadn’t slept so much the past three days, and the sleep deprivation and the post-withdrawal-type state fucked up his tolerance and bumped him over from the “comfortably wasted” zone into the “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing” kinda space. Maybe. Or maybe he actually saw the horse, and heard it neigh. Or did he hear the horse, and see the neigh? Whether he had just dozed off at the wheel or really seen it or what, from then on he could always picture in his head colors that he hadn’t known before. Colors he couldn’t explain to anyone else. But anyway,


And then he came to, with the convertible wrecked and his head bleeding, a little, and the windshield cracked. And nothing to see in front of him but the tree. Ah, well. He turned his key in the ignition. Chugchugchugfizzle. Ratatatatatatatafizzle. Shit. Looks like he’d half to hoof it back into town and take care of the mess in the—


Detective work, like Dancer’d taught him that one day they took that drive together. Take in the environment. Marcia wasn’t in her seat, okay. And her seatbelt was right there beside her seat—she’d never put it on. He’d put his on, apparently, just, what, instinctively.

The windshield was all cracked to hell where his forehead had hit it on his side. And on the passenger’s side, there was just a little dent and a little smear of blood, up near the top. So she hadn’t gone through the glass. Which was good, probably.

He had to get out of the car now, so he made himself stop shaking. He took the flashlight and some smokes out the glove box (somethings you don’t leave home without, not when you’re headed out in the woods) and went out to look for her.

Didn’t take long. She flew about ten feet before hitting the next tree in and slumping against it. Her hair was all fucked up and she wasn’t moving, but she was breathing. Right? Yeah. She was breathing, alright.

Marcia was too much for him to carry and the car was still shot. So what was he gonna do? Scream for help? Hoof it into town alone and get help? Sit here and sober up and wait til morning and hope Marcia’s just concussed or whatever and she’ll wake up?


What are you supposed to do about concussions? Would he fuck up his concussion if he tried to move her?

“Shit shit shit.”

Fucking Asshole of the Year right here, that’s Chaz. His last girl gets chopped up by some psycho, and yeah, maybe he shoulda listened when she asked him for help. Maybe he coulda done something. Then finally he gets another thing going. Figures hey, I’m still young. Can’t let a little thing like a horrific violent death—especially in Fervour Mour—stop me from living my life. And then one night out, and, boom, here’s another beautiful girl who shouldn’t have put her trust in Chaz Azalea. Jesus.


Back when he was little he used to dream about how maybe he could move out to New York and kill someone, for real, you know, on purpose. He’d practice on the animals. Like, catch a rabbit, put it in a box, pull a gun on it, give a little speech like, “this is just business,” even though it wasn’t. Didn’t go through with it, though. Deep down, he wasn’t like whatever sick fuck did what he did to Patsy. ‘Course he wasn’t.

Still, if people were gonna keep dying on him, he’d like to have some say in it. That seems only fair, right? Maybe he’d rather be a psycho killer than just some fuck-up kid who carries death around him wherever he goes.

Suddenly Chaz was scared of the woods. He’d seen that horse—all weird with the colors and lights. It wasn’t just a horse. It wasn’t just a horse. Fuck the concussion. He had to go. He grabbed Marcia and held her like newlyweds and took off back up Old Lake Road as fast as he could. He was safer on the road, narrow as it was. The woods respected travelers on Old Lake Road, was what Aunt Manu had always said. Of course, that not-just-a-horse hadn’t respected shit. But he couldn’t think about that. He just had to keep moving.

He was walking for two minutes when he saw a light up ahead. Two lights. Car lights. Chaz panicked. Here he was holding a bloody girl in the middle of the road in the middle of the night, and he couldn’t fudge his way through no type of sober test, no way. He was done. He was fucked. He didn’t even think about hiding out in the woods. He had to stay on the road.

The car pulled up beside him and opened its door. Its driver’s side door. And there wasn’t anyone inside. But hey, Chaz was just relieved it wasn’t a cop. And he wasn’t one to look a gift, uh, you know, leave a gift wrapped under a tree, when he could… open the gift. So he laid Marcia in the back seat and got in the car and put on his seatbelt.

And the car closed behind him, and locked.

“Shit,” said Chaz. He put his hand on the stick…

…And got an electric shock for his trouble. “You’re in no condition to drive,” said the car.

And Chaz screamed.

--What you’ve got to understand about the people of Fervour Mour, now: is most of them aren’t bad folks—only it’s hard on a body growing up in a place like this: no real culture to speak of, no history that’ll come out to play in the day time, no road out—a sort of pervasive phobia of community as a concept and none of this aided by the introduction of whiskey to the local population in the mid-eighteenth century—among other regrettable episodes in the mid-eighteenth century—this is a place not yet healed, or at least scarred over tough, is the point I suppose I’m trying to make. And people respond to that; young people especially.

God save the children. Anyway.

The half-mile strip between the two stop lights is where the Mour really starts to look like a town in the modern sense: there’s the diner, the police station, town hall, the library, the barber’s, really all the comforts of home—and branching outwards east and west are the Mour’s residential district—I hear tell there’s one spot exactly where you can stand and look all around you and still feel you’re in a genuine suburb, like they show on the TV; good folks there, though perhaps a little arrogant from their proximity to downtown—a little removed from the land, perhaps—but it takes all kinds.

But past that, now—it is not downtown in the pretty houses that we will find the heart of this town—nor under the glowing light of the diner sign, anymore than under the light of the sun—for the second traffic light marks Main Street’s crossing with Mill Road, which is, in fact, the oldest road in town—older in fact than the mill for which it was eventually named. West to east it travels in a straight line—west to the mill or east elsewhere—it’s east we want—

--East along Mill Road is quite a journey and there may not be many places to rest, and already it is dark—fortunately there is a place along the road where the lights are always on—though what those lights reveal is often darker even than the road—LAST STOP 93 says the sign—it is a place where men go—women too—


The way the dead girl used to come in here with that look on her face like she was just daring you to ask her what a girl like her was doing in a place like this. That was how Lance knew it wasn’t her come back from the dead. This one wasn’t just pretending she didn’t give a shit; she just didn’t. Didn’t even shut the door behind her, letting two of them feral cats in. Lance would have to chase them out with a broom later.

Older, too, when she got under the light. Not that there was anything wrong with that in itself. But Patsy had that, you know, that look—like a candy bar. Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside. Those were the kinds of girls Lance liked, but give ‘em a couple years, they go hard all the way through. Pity. In a way, it was probably best that that one went and died.

But still, this other one, hard though she was—she was a certain kind of woman. “Welcome to Last Stop 93, sugar,” said Lance. “Get you a drink?”

“If you’re paying.” Now, here was something. This lady—almost the spitting image of Patsy—she was wearing what Lance could only describe as a “leotard.” Like she’d just come from the ballet or something. With the little slippers, even. Not even a coat.

Not that Lance was complaining—it was a good look for her. “Oh, I’m paying,” he said. He began mixing her up one of his special cocktails. It was colorful and fruity and no one could ever tell what was in it. Girls liked it. “Name’s Lance, by the way.”

“Patricia.” Patricia gave the drink a sniff, and then a snip.

So what’s a girl like you doing in a—”

“Here’s what I need,” said Patricia. “I need warm clothes and a ride towards somewhere I could stay the night—preferably not here.” She looked around the Last Stop to see that many of the men were already looking back. Many of them looking over the shoulders of the girls who were already sitting on their laps, not looking at much. “I don’t have money and I’m not going to… let’s say, because I want to be comprehensive and I don’t want to waste your time, I’m not going to debase myself in any way as a form of payment. So you just need to accept that these things are going to happen.”

Lance considered this. “Okay,” he said.

“O… okay?”

“Yeah, why not? You seem like an interesting person and I don’t feel like getting on your bad side. Just gimme half an hour and then I’ll close up early and take you to Dawn’s, alright?”

“Alright.” She blinked twice and shook her head, as though she wasn’t thinking right. “Thank you… Lance,” she said.

“No problem, Patricia. See, I get the impression that you were maybe planning on putting some of your lean, gorgeously toned muscles on me, if I didn’t do you a solid tonight.”

“That was … I’d thought of it.” Patricia gulped down half her drink.

“It’s something about me,” said Lance, pouring her a glass of water. “Where people think they have to threaten me to get anything out of me. Prejudice against small business owners, I say. Or maybe it’s the mustache.”

He tweaked the offending facial hair with his finger. Patricia giggled. “In no universe,” she said, “at no time, was that mustache ever in fashion.”

“Hey, ‘looking like a chump never goes out of style.’ You know who said that? Batman. Look it up.”

“‘Bat man.’ Mmmm.” Patricia steadied herself on the table. Seriously, no one can ever tell what Lance puts in his special cocktails. Not until the last second. “Lance, do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if you’d become a vege… a veterinarian?”

“Every day, babe. Every day. Now, let me ask you something. The name ‘Patsy Oscuro’ mean anything to you?” One of the feral cats hissed from the corner.

Nothing. No kind of reaction. And poor Patricia was way past the point where she could have hid it. “Paaaaatsy,” she slurred. “Isn’t that short for Patricia?”

“You know, I think it is. Isn’t it funny, the way words and names get all jumbled around like that?”

“But Patricia… that’s the real one. The normal one. The original.”

“Uh-huh. Patricia, from ‘patrician.’ As in the Latin word for a noble. But also ‘patsy,’ meaning: the fall guy. Meaning you’ve been set up.”

There it was. The moment of recognition. The last flicker in the eye before it rolls back and she hit the floor. This always happens at the last second.

“Whoa!” shouted Lance. “Sounds like someone’s had a bit too much!” He winked at each of his regular patrons in turn. “I’m not closing early, so if you heard that, no need to panic.”

Everyone laughed. It was important to always be the fun guy in front of these types. Make out like you weren’t ever running any game that they wouldn’t think was cute. But he was the only one in here ever got a look at Patricia’s face. And man, that resemblance.

Lance had a nose for profit. Now what could a guy get up to in Fervour Mour with an exact duplicate of the late, lamented Patsy Oscuro?

--And once you get past Last Stop, there aren’t any more lights in any windows all the way to the end of the road.
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
"You know, this kind of reminds me of home..."

After some deliberation, Vigil and Lynette had decided to investigate Fervour Mour High. While they didn't have a lot of information on Ella, given her wounds in the previous bout, it was unlikely that she would attack again so soon. Vigil's experience with powerful magical enemies suggested that she was probably licking her wounds and biding her time, she would appear when it was time to strike, and not a moment before.

"There can't be that many places she can hide," Vigil had said, before Lynette reminded him of the various nooks and crannies that her hometown hid. That was the thing about these sorts of small towns, there's always somewhere to hide. However, that didn't mean that they were just giving up on finding her.

"From her actions in the last round, I could guess that she would first try to act through an agent. Find someone desperate and manipulate them to do her bidding," Vigil further mused as he and Lynette saw people start to come out to the streets of the town. Fervour Mour High didn't have a dress code, or a real amount of security, so walking around and investigating the grounds didn't even require any of Vigil's powers.

Unfortunately, as of late, Fervour Mour High wasn't the sort of school where normal was easy to define. The mid-to-late teen years aren't fun ones, even without the added reflection upon ones mortality that a high-profile murder brings. Lynette and Vigil quickly picked up on Patsy Oscuro's death, seeing her name spread across banners and posters, many oddly obscured. All that the pair could really tell was that the school had taken a turn for the dramatic, with the various students each individually deciding to strike out and make a name for themselves, each in their own unique and strange way, and only a surprisingly few of which happened to overlap.

However, even among all of the rapidly changing trends and fads, the various individual struggles for the spotlight, and the increasingly worrying cries for attention, every so often something still managed to overshadow everything else, spreading across the school and taking center stage. The whispers on the vines that Lynette and Vigil heard while walking around the halls told them of a new student, one who just had the most charming personality. Already there had been fights over who was going to ask her out, people had crafted magnificent tributes, but... no one could remember when she arrived, or how long she'd been around.

"Don't you think this is a bit too overt? You said she'd be hiding and biding, not making a scene like this." The pair were getting close to the supposed source of things, now dubbed the Helen of Fervour Mour, and were discussing what to do.

"Maybe, but either way we need to make sure, she shouldn't notice who you are while you aren't transformed and we can see what she's planning."

"I suppose... just... keep yourself more hidden than usual."

Vigil laughed a bit, "So just like old times then?"

Lynette smiled. They had made it to the door, it was the one with a crowd of boys scuttling around, some avoiding the why they got here, some already getting into confrontations before even properly seeing the Fair Lady. Being somewhat of an expert in moving along through school crowds, Lynette just passed on through the chaos and entered the classroom.

Right after entering, Lynette suddenly felt her eyes wander, almost flowing to the center, where a few desks had been arranged in their own little square. Sitting on top of them, the wood and metal almost forming a throne, was a girl with golden hair, flowing like silk. Her skin was peachy and perfect, looking soft to the touch. Her lips had burning red lipstick and moved with elegance, even as they rejected some nobody boys. The air around her radiated with a brilliant light, and before she really thought about it, Lynette's heart started to beat.

Before it really started pumping, Lynette shook her head and took a harder look at the siren in the classroom. Slowly the various perfections gave way in favor of... oddities. For one thing, she had wings, small ones on her back, she also had a crown floating above her head, and on that note, she wasn't actually sitting on the desks, but floating above them.

"Wait... Eris?"

Lynette wasn't really thinking when she let out the battlers name, which prompted the girl to turn and look directly at her, followed by everyone who was enamored with her. Lynette gulped as the entire classroom laid eyes on her, her heart beating again our of nervousness.

After a moment of awkward silence, the girl who seemed to be Eris only older, floated off of the desk throne, and in a single moment, dashed through the crowd, grabbed Lynette, and flew out of the classroom.

"You are Eris, what are you doing? What happened?" Lynette was helpless as the two dashed through the halls of the school.

"I was having fuuuuun! There were... so many empty hearts and I figured, well, why not fill them for a bit, it'll be a riot! And while one hasn't broken out yet..."

"Look Eris, I don't know where you've been, but a lot has happened. Even if this place is just a book, you cant just go and do whatever you want!"

"What do you mean this place is a book, it doesn't feel like one."

"Book, comic, does it really make a difference."

"Well, I think it would? Maybe? But the point is that this isn't like when we were in the Gamexus, it doesn't feel like the circus either, but it's closer to that than here. Then again, nothing's really felt like home... so..."

"Okay, okay, okay. The point though, is that we've got bigger fish to fry."

"Like who? Ah! Here we go!" Eris dragged Lynette into an empty classroom and closed the door behind her. "Perfect! Some privacy, always easy for me. Now what's this about fishing fries?"

Lynette sighed and relayed the tale of Ella to Eris, explaining her basic abilities and atrocities, along with the rest of the Bickering Buddies.

Eris was displeased. "She sounds like she's encroaching in on MY TURF!!! Who does this Ella think she is, with her fancy light chaos show magic, I'll show her who's the real smithy of nonsense AND that I can laugh in a cooler color."


"Whaaaaaaaaat? You don't think I can take her? Listen, I know that I'm rusty, but not only am I getting the hang of it, this schools like... the perfect place for me to get back up to par! Chaos is as thick as the air is breathable."


Eris looked at Lynette's stern face and replied with a bored frown. "Okay, whatever, what do you want?"

"Well, first of all, I need to know what's true and what isn't, people have been saying that you've been around for days, but I just got here a few hours ago! And there's this... Patsy Oscuro, and all of the weird people going around... just what did you do this school!"

"I didn't do anything! Well... like, not to the whole school... well like, not to whole school in the way that you think! All I did when i got here the other day was give myself this body, get some boys to like me, and swim in the chaos for a bit! Honest!!! I've heard a few things here and there about Patsy, but no one really wants to talk about her so I dunno what her deal is other than she's dead and people are like, messed up about it for some reason."

Lynette tapped her foot and scratched her chin, would Eris lie to her about what she did and didn't do? Maybe, but in this case, it wasn't like she could check. Surely Eris couldn't change the whole town, and it all did fit what she knew about the place, but still she had doubts... "So you don't have anything to do with Patsy? Then why are all of her pictures messed up?"

"Do you truly seek the truth? Maybe you can help me then."

A soft but firm voice rang out, causing Lynette's pour heart to flutter again. She turned to find the source, and out from just to the side of the entrance of the room was a tall girl, a bit younger than Lynette, with slightly ruddy golden-brown skin, dark brown eyes with a tired look, and thick waist length black hair. While the uniform she was wearing was a bit baggy, they still betrayed her slim, solid, and flat build. As she walked into the light, Lynette and Eris couldn't help but notice the odd, ringed scar on the bottom left side of her face.

"My name is Bell Nuon. I'm the head of the Fervour Mour High Mystery Club. And while I came here to investigate one of you, it seems I'm in for quite the Mystery."

Lynette was sweating and breathing and gulping and doing all sorts of things. As she was trying to calm herself down, think about how to respond, Eris took matters into her own hands.

"I'm not some problem for you to solve! And neither is my friend! Now, listen up here, I-MHPHHH!"

Lynette, grabbed Eris by the mouth and spun her around, staring the chaosling in the eyes who then rebelled by licking at Lynette's hand. However, as an older and younger sibling, such tactics were ineffective, and Lynette continued her 'shut up' stare.

With a whisper, Lynette pleaded, "Eris, this might be our best shot at figuring out whats going on here. You need to calm down, and follow my lead."

Eris squinted and nodded, prompting Lynette to release Eris' mouth from her grip. The sprite then smiled with an evil glee, and whispered back, "So, this doesn't have anything to do with ~~~yyyyyyyyyyyyoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuur cruuuuuuuush~~~???"

Lynette attempted to drop Eris to the floor, failing due to the fact that the chaosling was floating. She took a deep breath, wiped the saliva off of her hand, and then turned to Bell. "My name is Lynette Spettro. I guess I should start things off by saying that, whatever you overheard me say, I want to help with whatever is going wrong here." She extended the clean, never assaulted by chaos spit hand, out and continued, "You don't have to trust me obviously, but if you're willing to listen I've got... quite the story to tell about how I got here."

Bell gave a cute half-giggle before taking Lynette's hand and shaking, "Alright then, let's hear it."

Eris floated horizontally, rolling her eyes at this co-operative endeavor that was forming ninety degrees above her. First Lynette ruined her fun with the school, and now she was ignoring her for this new person! Not cool! But... on the other hand, if Lynette was busy with her crush... then that meant...

Eris eyed the distance from the side of the room she was in and got... Serious. Slowly, she swam towards the door, checking every once in a while to make sure that her drifting hadn't gone noticed by the two chattering, blah blah ghosts, blah blah magic, who cared? She waded and waded, each movement bringing her closer to her goal. Finally, she reached the knob and twisted it, as silently as Bell had when she entered the room.

"He he he he," she quietly schemed, her face contorting into the smile of victory, when she heard a deep voice under her say, "There you are, I've been looking all over for you two."

Bell and Lynette paused their conversation to see Vigil, standing in front of the doorway, under the floating pseudo-teenage plank that was Eris.

"Huh, a talking rabbit."

"Uhhhh..." Vigil froze for a moment, as it had been quite some time since he's blown his cover, since, it had been a while since he had to take any.

"Oh, that's Vigil! He's why I can do magical stuff."

"Ah! Hello there Vigil! I'm Bell Nuon."

The confused rabbit scuttled along forward to Bell and Lynette, along with the exposed and saddened Eris, who had now gone from stiff as a board, to wigglin like a worm.

"So uh... what's going on exactly?" Asked the confused rabbit.

"I was just telling Bell here about our adventure so far. She's the head of the school's Mystery Club, she's going to help us, she's taken everything really well so far and stuff."

"A mystery club? Well, the Housewife did mention a few mystery solving factions..."

"Yeah, yeah, I was just getting to her!"

As Lynette got into the story of the second round, the bell rung, causing Vigil to wonder, "Uh, not to interrupt or anything, but doesn't Bell need to get to class or something?"

"In light of our recent achievements being recognized by Agent Dancer, senior members of the Mystery Club can skip class if it's for the betterment of the town. I would say that, listening and helping otherworldly visitors would fit that description."

"I see... carry on then I suppose..."

Vigil, not as interested in revisiting recent events, leaped up to Eris who was now lying near the window, and laid down on her. "You don't mind, do you?"

"I guess not, just until they finish over there though, don't get too comfy!"

Vigil let out a giggle, and then curled up against the sun, relaxing while he had the chance and trying to avoid letting his mind wander towards his mistakes. Already there had been more questions than answers, and while Eris seemed to have been behind the first of them, and Bell could hep with others, he knew that there would only be more on the way.

"It's going to be a long day..."
RE: DEATHGAME 9000 [S!3] Round Two: Interplanetary Circus
Putting up a reserve. It's only on Eris, Lynette, Vigil and Ella. If nothing's up by Thanksgiving from me, consider this hold null and void.