The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round... Uh, Seven? The Oasis]

The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round... Uh, Seven? The Oasis]
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Anomaly.

Gaurinn slowly pulled himself from the crushed remains of an enormous egg, head reeling. Taking a few moments to reorient himself, he found Cailean sprawled on the ground, lying completely still. He had somehow managed to avoid smashing any of the other four eggs, each of which was at least twice the size of his head.

"Cail, be useful for once in your life and get up."

Cail twitched a few times before he managed to mumble incoherently at Gaurinn.

"Cail, we only fell a few meters. Get the hell up. If you haven't noticed, I can't really go anywhere with you lying around like a fucking rock. At least the rock would be useful in a fight. Come on, get up!" Gaurinn picked up a large piece of eggshell and smashed it over Cailean's head, prompting the latter to stir.

"...Gaurinn? Ugh... What just happened?"

"In your infinite wisdom, you managed to walk off a cliff and fall into this nest. If I'm stuck to you, the least you could do is learn to tell the difference between ground and air. Hint: air is the stuff that isn't solid."

"Gaurinn, I don't think that was a cliff." With his remaining arm, Cailean pointed at a massive tree branch looming above them. A few patches of blue vomit were plainly visible closer to the enormous tree trunk nearby.

"So wait, we're... Cail, get off the ground and get me closer to the edge of this nest." The soldier obliged, dragging himself to the thick wall of twigs and branches at the side of the nest. Gaurinn crawled his way over the side and peered down, his multitude of eyes visibly widening immediately.

"What's wrong? Where are we?"

"Cail. We're at least a hundred meters above the ground. If that's even the ground I'm seeing and not just another fucking tree. You know what, let's just stay up here and wait for one of those idiots to get themselves killed."

"Are you sure we shouldn't find them? Some of them don't seem all that bad. Wouldn't want them to get killed, would we?"

"Cailean, sometimes I think you don't even listen to yourself. We get home once everyone else is dead, and unless you have a brilliant idea to escape from that asshole that brought us here and that shadowy... thing... Look, I'm sick to fucking death of this. One minute I'm about to be hailed as some kind of hero after finishing a critical mission and not even dying, and the next I'm next to a thing that looks like a human but isn't, who doesn't even explain anything to me and then tosses me into a parking lot.

"I try to figure out what's going on and before I know it, I've been reduced to your arm. A fucking arm! And before I know it, some shitface comes out of nowhere and shoves a metal arm into my mouth, and the arm immediately dissolves into some kind of disgusting metallic shit which forces its way down my throat, and then I wake up next to you in some kind of bar, and you tell me that I'm not even fucking alive apparently, and... Cail, are you even listening to me?" Gaurinn stopped his rant long enough to glance up at Cailean, whose gaze was fixed off in the distance. The centipede slowly lifted his body to see what was so interesting.


Towering above the pair was a massive creature, overall resembling a giant, green-black bird, but with features more reminiscent of a pterodactyl as well. From its beak extended a multitude of razor-sharp teeth, which it made no attempt to hide as it shrieked at them. Its four narrow, blue eyes glared with the ferocity of a predator out for the kill, firmly fixed upon the one-and-a-half figures in its nest. Its feathery wings, tipped in claws, spread to its sides in a needless attempt to appear more intimidating. Upon its feet were several large, deadly-looking talons, any one of which would likely have been enough to kill a man. And it had just noticed that one of its eggs had been destroyed by an unwanted intruder. It shrieked again, slowly drawing closer to Cailean and Gaurinn, intent on the kill.

A blinding arc of electricity struck the bird, stopping it in its tracks before it limply fell from the branch, hitting the ground with a thud a few seconds later. Gaurinn, entire body smoking, lifted himself to Cailean's eye level.

"You know what, new idea. I can't do that again without exhausting myself completely. Let's find a way to get down."

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by veerserif.

There were... colours, a shout, the low kthunk-crunch of metal impacting on metal and the horribly familiar sense of his body flipping inside out, just for a moment, as he crumpled to the jungle floor.

And now there were ants, a thin stream of determined black dots, traveling past. It was oddly mesmeric.

Gabe pushed himself up slowly from the floor. It was dark here; the canopy blocked out the sunlight, leaving dappled patches of light on the various shrubs around him. Massive trees soared above him, scarred and moss-covered. All around him was the cacophany of the forest - chittering birds, clicking insects, shouts and howls and croaks and "JUST SHUT UP ALREADY!" he yelled. The jungle responded by getting louder.

He closed his eyes and tried to focus. Food, food. He thought better afterwards. A cursory search revealed a bit of leftover pancake, as well as a small penknife, a book of soggy matches, one crumpled up tissue and a pencil stub. Gabe squinted up at the treetops in time for a few misty droplets of rain to fall on his face.

Revving up his saw-hand, he tried to clear a path through the dense foliage. The foliage fought back, with thorny plants snagging his clothing and branches catching him in the face. He struggled on as the droplets got bigger and the first actual drops of rain fell like a warning. The rain pelted him with a vengeance, until eventually the whole forest was engulfed by sheets of torrential rain. The trees didn't do anything to shelter Gabe from the rain. If anything, they made it worse, as leaves channeled the rainwater into streams pouring down, down, down. The ground underfoot quickly gave way to mud, clumping onto his shoes and somehow ending up in his hair. Everything was drowned out by the roar of the rain.

Mud-caked, scratched and thoroughly soaked, Gabe nevertheless searched for some kind of cover. Scrabbling his way up a small hill, he put one foot in front of the other, and then the floor collapsed. Gabe landed with a squelch.

He looked up, and wished he hadn't.

He rose, unsteadily, flinging both arms out for balance as he tried to reassure himself that the world was still this way up. The saw-hand sputtered weakly. "Just my -pff- luck," he said, spitting out bits of leaf. He got up, wavered, tripped over a branch, fell, got up again and waved his free hand. "I will never go out without an --" and he promptly fell again. There was a chatter and some movement above him. It sounded mocking, sort of, but right now he felt like everything was conspiring against him. Gabe groaned, peeled off his sodden jacket and tossed it away from him. "Well you try trekking through a fucking rainstorm." He stumbled off, grateful that here, at least, it wasn't quite as damp.

Elimine opened her mouth, intending to apologize. Before she could do so, a man crashed through the foliage and into the clearing. He looked at her, looked at the other woman, then looked at Etiyr. A light seemed to go off behind his eyes.

One thought barreled its way past the others, pushing and elbowing to the front of the crowd, where it proceeded to make rude faces and laugh at the others.

"Excuse me, miss, but I think you have my typewriter."

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

Etiyr stopped. What felt like a thick silence settled over the woods. If the typewriter had eyes, they would be staring in disbelief.

There was a whirr, and the paper ejected, fluttering into the dense foliage. The silence was broken as clacking began, this time rhythmic, organic.

“Um. Hey, Gabe.”

He raised his arm and waved his hand a bit as he answered; “Hey.”

Bethany and Elimine scrambled up off the ground, brushing themselves off, glancing from Gabe to Etiyr to Gabe again.

“Um, yours?” the sidekick said, raising an eyebrow. “You own Etiyr?”

She was met with a nervous smile from the human member of the pair, in that tired way parents smile at their children when they say something stupid in front of company.

“No no nonono,” Gabe replied, erratically moving his arms as he spoke. “He’s just a really good friend of mine. We’re friends. Buddies, you could say. Isn’t that right, Etiyr?”

Needless to say, at this point in time, Etiyr was practically in complete ecstasy. Suddenly, everything was going his way, and deep inside, he was living it up. You could almost say he was getting off on it, if it weren’t for the fact he was a typewriter.

“FUCK YES WE ARE,” Etiyr quickly typed. <span style="font-family: Courier New">“WE’RE LIKE BROTHERS, AM I RIGHT, GABE!?”

“Hell yeah!” Gabe said, making a fist and thrusting it towards Etiyr, before remembering his friend didn’t have arms, and embarrassedly putting the bro-fist down.

“Um,” Bethany interjected, raising her hand. “If you don’t mind me asking, um, is that typewriter talking to you? The name’s Bethany, by the way.”

Everyone directed their attention towards the Xenobiologist for the first time. She wasn’t particularly pretty, nor was she particularly unattractive, either. She was just sort of there, average, somehow blending in with the foliage and just the world in general.

Etiyr sized her up. He couldn’t really tell if she was particularly manipulateable. She was a bit of a toss-up, you could say. An unexpected addition. Either way, the typewriter decided that he might as well give it a shot.

“Why, yes. Yes I am,” Etiyr wrote. <span style="font-family: Courier New">“And no, I’m not an AI or some clever trick. I’m alive, technically, I guess. That isn’t really a thing I’ve been concerned with.”

She stared at the words for a long while, before turning to the group, giving a small, singular clap, and finally speaking.

“Well, um, would all of you like to head back to camp with me? It’s almost time for dinner, and I would just love to speak to your little friend here.”

Um. Well, then, Etiyr thought to himself. That was a little easier than I thought. Fuck yeah. But first…

“I’d like to speak to my dear friend here for a moment, for a bit. In private. Gabe, could you come over here and pick your ol’ typewriter up? We have some catching up to do.”

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison.

The creature approached the metal sphere carefully. Of course, it had no idea what metal was; all it knew was that a large heavy thing had landed on its favorite berry bush, and was therefore invading its territory. It skirted around the intruding object, hissing and baring its sharp front teeth, heedless of the fact that it was barely the size of a squirrel. After a few unproductive minutes of this, it moved forward cautiously, scratched at the surface, and leaped back instantly. To its surprise, this netted about the same response, and it drew forward again and scratched the surface a few more times.

Without warning, the metal sphere spun open, scrap metal whirling out to form a lethal whirlwind. The alien creature was cut to ribbons before it could even turn to run, a fate shared by most of the plant life in the area. AMP swiveled his cameras around in confusion. Moments ago he'd been somewhere else. Electricity arced through his whirling metallic cloud as he took stock of the new scenery, trying to place it all. The Hedonist labeled this location the Kestalvian Rainforest. This location is not logged in the database. Beginning locational log.

As AMP made to leave the spot, a piece of scrap metal lodged itself in a nearby tree with a solid THUNK. AMP magnetically tugged on it in an absent-minded manner, then, when it proved to be truly stuck, spun one of his cameras around to see what the problem was. It seems to be a tough organic structure, he thought curiously, and sent a query to his database about it. The database labeled it as a tree, a type of plant featuring a tall trunk covered in tough bark. It also noted, in a tone AMP could only place as annoyed, that AMP never called to say hello, or see how it was doing, or even to ask the time of day. No, he always had to know something and was too lazy to find it out for himself. AMP ignored the database's whining and focused on the tree, applying an increasing amount of magnetic strength until he managed to jerk the impaled piece of metal out of it. He gazed at the gash left in the tree's trunk with a strange amount of awe. A single concept echoed through his thoughts: purpose.

Great, thought Cailean. Now how do we get down? "Any ideas on that, Gaurinn?"

The centipede turned his gaze towards Cailean and looked at him like he'd just remarked that the sky was green. "It was your idea. I'd been hoping you'd have thought it out more than all your other ideas, but I guess that's just too much to ask."

Cailean groaned and put his head in his hand. "Alright, I get it, I'm useless. Now can we concentrate on the issue at hand?" He looked around, trying to find tree branches that they might be able to use to drop lower. "Maybe if we--"

His sentence was cut short as the tree made a quiet cracking noise and began to fall over. Cailean and Gaurinn both gripped the sides of the nest instinctively. The nest itself managed to stay in the tree because of its solid construction, and provided a fair amount of padding for the conjoined pair when the tree hit the ground. They stumbled out of the nest in a daze, looking around to see what it was like on the ground. The sound of wood being chopping reached their ears, and they pushed through some foliage, startling a few small animals in the process, to find AMP furiously cutting at the tree they'd been in. Looking around, they saw a trail of similar incidents, showing the trail AMP had taken through the jungle. How'd we miss that? Cailean wondered.

Cailean and Gaurinn cautiously approached him once he'd stopped slicing the trunk to pieces and was busy stacking the lumber into crude piles, picking each piece up with two flat chunks of scrap metal and dumping it on top of the growing triangular pile. Cailean spoke up cautiously. "Uh, AMP, right?" One of the cameras swiveled to point at him, but other than that he got no response, and AMP continued to stack the lumber. Cailean tried again. "What exactly are you doing?"

"My purpose," AMP replied, camera panning up and down the lumber pile as he surveyed his work. "I have had an epiphany, Cailean. All this time, I've been searching for my purpose." He moved closer to the pair. "Well, I've finally found it. My purpose is to cut down trees!" He demonstrated by spinning a circle of scrap metal around him like a sawblade and slicing another portion of the tree off. "I'm amazed I didn't realize it before, but I haven't had much contact with trees before," he admitted.

Gaurinn and Cailean stared back in disbelief until the latter suddenly snorted. The former leaned towards the latter and whispered to him. "What an idiot, right?"

Cailean whispered back to him, stifling a chuckle. "Yeah, but that's not why I'm laughing."

Gaurinn turned towards him and looked at him oddly. "Well, what are you laughing at then?"

"I don't know if you'll get this, but..." Cailean cleared his throat and started singing boisterously. "Well he's a lumberjack and he's okay, he sleeps all night and he works all day! He cuts down trees, he eats his lunch, he goes to the lavatory! On Wednesdays he goes shopping, and has buttered scones for tea!" He broke down laughing, unable to continue. Gaurinn stared at him strangely. "It's from Monty Python's Flying Circus," Cailean noted, still grinning. "I saw it on a television - a box with moving pictures on the front - while were touring the timestream." He paused. "Oh. Wait. You...probably weren't conscious." He looked up to see AMP also had a camera trained on him and had paused in his lumber stacking. Ohhhhhhhh, that can't be good.

Unlike Gaurinn, AMP was very thankful for Cailean's help. Data added to lumberjack behavioral reference. Database, define "scones."
[Image: zjQ0y.gif][Image: vcGGy.gif]
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by engineclock.

Gaurinn stared scornfully at AMP as the construct bobbed happily before him, plates still busily whirling through the air with sharp whistles and gouging huge chunks out of the nearest tree. Occasionally they paused with an interested hum, oblivious to the blackish sap that coated the makeshift blades more and more on each blow. A squid-like creature swung down from a low branch and tried to sell AMP a watch before it was bisected by a piece of shrapnel and crawled sadly away in different directions.

Cailean giggled and poked Gaurinn in the side. “Gaurinn, psst. Gaurinn, I don’t think he liked my song very much.” He warbled another stretch of the music, miraculously managing to miss every single note. Far above them, a songbird died of shame.

“Shut up, Cailean, you killed a bird.”

“You didn’t like it either?” The centipede twisted around, surprised at the genuine sadness in the man’s voice. Cailean was looking at Gaurinn as though the insect had broken his heart. “I tried, Gaurinn. I try really hard at everything all the time and no one notices.” He sniffled. “You don’t even like my song.”

Simultaneously unnerved and amused, the insect leaned in towards Cailean’s face, avoiding a halfhearted shove. “Cail. What the fuck.”

The soldier turned away sulkily, valiantly trying to hide from something attached to his own torso. He mumbled something incomprehensible and started to walk away from the clearing, but was stopped by Gaurinn’s claws grabbing the sides of his face and twisting his head forward.

“Look, I know you’re probably upset about your stupid problems, but-” he stopped and squinted at the soldier’s face. “What the hell’s going on with your eyes, Cail?”

“Whose eyes?” Cailean said blankly, staring downwards at the sap eating away at his boots. He seemed to be doing his best to look anywhere that wasn’t currently occupied by a centipede, which was proving difficult.

“Yours, idiot. Who the fuck else’s? Your pupils are huge.” Gaurinn frowned, which wasn’t easy to detect on a face made of chitin. “You’ve been acting weird ever since we did that little time trip thing.”

“My pupils are fine!” Cailean whined, breaking free of the clawed grip. “I’m fine. You don’t even have pupils Gaurinn, I’m better off than you any day of the week. Listen, is it okay if I call you Gaur? Your name is like,” he gestured in a manner that might have indicated a dolphin working a can opener, “stupid hard to pronounce. Gaaaauurinnnn. Who even names their kid that? Your mother was a wonderful person but she made some poor decisions, Gaur, I’m really sorry.”

“Cailean,” Gaurinn said, an odd chill settling in his stomach, “What was in that martini?”

“Fuck if I know, it was free.” Cailean said. “Gaurinn, no one here appreciates my singing and I think we should leave.”

“Wait, w-”

“They hate me, Gaur, I didn’t even do anything to them and they hate me! I just wanted them to like me, Gaurinn, I wanted to- heh- I wanted to be a contender. Talk them down for me, I’m out of here.” With a heroic cry he threw himself behind the tree AMP was sawing through and rolled clumsily, ending with his back pressed against the shady bark of a diseased-looking conifer. He laughed giddily and slapped the dirt off his armor, pausing briefly to giggle at his reflection.

“What the fuck, Cail?” Gaurinn spat out along with a mouthful of dirt, bristling with fury. “What the fucking hell-”

“Shh!” Cailean snapped, stroking the centipede’s head and eyeing the undergrowth. “They’ll hear us. Gaurinn, before we die I want you to know that you were my closest friend. Ever. You never even tried to kill me that hard! You’re my best friend, Gaur. Best friend since Tam. Did- did I ever tell you about Tam? Tam’s my horse. Was. Was my horse. Little grey mare. This high,” and he flailed his arm in a way that completely failed to resemble a measurement. “Gaurinn, I loved Tam. She used to bite my hair.”

The centipede managed to get the first syllable of a sentence out before Cailean’s hand slapped over his mandibles. “Shh, horse. I’m telling you about my horse. Gaurinn, I would kill you to get Tam back. I would kill you. I’d strangle the life out of your stupid body to see my horse again. I would watch you die, you…” he started to laugh. “You horrible insect. I’d kill you! I’d kill everyone here!”

Abruptly his voice rose to a snarl, and without warning he slammed a bloodstained hand down on Gaurinn’s throat, pinning him to the ground. His own neck snapped sideways and he wheezed in forced sympathy, baring his teeth at the stunned insect. “I’m being reasonable, aren’t I, Gaurinn?” he hissed, digging his fingers into chitinous plates as bruises flushed underneath his jaw. “All I want to do is slit your throat and watch your filthy blood drain out into the dirt. Just like mine did. Look at my face, Gaurinn. Look what happened to me.” A laugh pushed its way up out of his chest and seemed to be fighting his words for control. “Ha haaaait doesn’t even h-hurt, little insect! Not after the first cut, I’ve m-made so many-

Maowyn’s dagger was suddenly rolling in his hand, its tip impossibly bright in the shadows as it came down-

“Sir Cailean!”

The soldier’s face went blank. The dagger dropped harmlessly to the ground next to now-smoking centipede. “What?”

“Sir Cailean,” AMP said helpfully, “Your current behavior is highly unusual in comparison to your ordinary threat levels. I must ask for an explanation for this sudden change- unless…?” Plates whirled around in a cloud of bewilderment, annihilating a nearby swarm of flies. Cailean winced. “Unless this is some previously unknown ritual involved in the cutting down of trees?”

“Cutting… what?” The soldier shook his head. “The hell are you talking about, I don’t- FUCK! FUCK FUCK GAURINN WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

Sparks exploded like fireworks as Gaurinn’s quivering body rose from the ground, spitting stray tongues of electricity and crackling with energy as he pumped jolt after jolt into Cailean’s body, screeching wordlessly. The soldier yelped with pain and futilely looked for somewhere to flee before Gaurinn’s head collided with his and he fell back against the charred tree.

AMP watched in polite confusion as the pair fought, alternatively slapping and electrocuting each other as they debated enthusiastically about various topics including the illegitimacy of Gaurinn’s birth and Cailean’s complete lack of intelligence, although both of them seemed to lack supporting arguments beyond their own conviction. He wondered briefly if he should stop them, but as a wildly misaimed punch slammed into the tree and Cailean called it a bitch AMP concluded that this too must be a part of the ritual, and that it would be rude of him to interfere.

In the meantime, he had a forest to disassemble.


High up in the globular branches of the sickly-looking tree, in fact in the late stages of a degenerative illness that would soon cause it to gain sentience and run for political office before dying in an opium den surrounded by prostitutes, a quantum-sensitive bat awoke to the sound of its home being called a bitch.

It peered out from the enveloping shade of its wings with an irritated expression on its doglike face. It liked this tree. It had raised two litters of pups here without any disturbance other than the occasional mutter about two-party systems and tax hikes, which it didn’t mind despite them being a little insulting since bats weren’t enfranchised in this section of the forest. There was no call for such rudeness against its home, the bat thought as it stretched sleepily, brushing the tree’s trunk with the tips of its six wings. No call at all.

Needle-like claws hooked into the branch as the bat swung upright, shaking the dew off its fur and flapping for balance, internally adjusting its chronometer to the cycles of daylight. The motion disturbed the closest of its neighbors, featureless white bumps among the countless slumbering bodies of the colony. They shuffled irritably in the cocoons of their wings and sniffed, displeased at the interruption. The bat’s ears lay flat against its head as it gauged their hypothetical reactions versus the importance of defending the honor of its tree. Surely it wasn’t enough of a concern to wake the entire colony?

As delicately as it could, the bat spread its wings and swooped down to get a better view of the interlopers. It seemed that a small pack of them had taken up residence at the foot of the tree, though the bat was at a loss to identify their species. They had no camouflage to speak of and no obvious way of defending themselves; it found itself wondering how they could have survived long enough in the forest to reach maturity. Perhaps the level of noise they were creating was enough to drive away predators? It was certainly loud enough to warn away anything in earshot of their presence. These creatures had no shame, the bat thought scornfully. One of them didn’t even seem to have a proper regard for gravity, and the other-

The bat was so surprised that it stopped flapping and ran into a tree.

Not him.

Not here.

Thrusting its wings frantically, the bat sped upward and flapped above its sleeping colony, issuing a single note far above the hearing range of the contestants squabbling below. Thousands of glittering green eyes flew open as the colony awoke; the bat felt their hatred burning against it as the swiftest of them discovered that no disaster was imminent and no predators were lurking nearby. With a thunder of wings the nearest ones rose to devour the bat for its folly, but stopped in their tracks as they too felt the freezing chill of the energy radiating from underneath the tree.

Above them the lone bat circled, wailing its despair into the daylight.

The End of Time had returned.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by veerserif.

Gabe picked up Etiyr and followed Bethany deeper into the jungle. After a second's pause, Elimine followed as well. The trail was a simple, narrow path, threatened from both sides by the rapidly encroaching vegetation. Gabe swung halfheartedly at the dangling branches, while Bethany strode towards camp, beating aside the offending plants with a machete.

Elimine tapped Gabe on the shoulder. "Hmm?" She pointed at Etiyr who was radiating a sort of smug satisfaction. "How'd you know him?"

"I picked him up at the Denny's. Then there was... stuff, I guess. I dunno, I must have lost track of him or something."

"Lost track of him? He's a typewriter. It's not like he can move by himself."

Damn right I can't, thought Etiyr.

"Look, it was confusing, okay? There was a paper-bag-head-mutant and a spatula involved somewhere, it was a bad day, and now we're in the middle of a bloody jungle at the whim of a crazy djinni. Cut me some slack."

Elimine looked like she was about to reply, but she merely adjusted her trombone strap and trudged on. The rain had stopped, and so had the birds, fortunately.

"Sooo," said Gabe, the silence drawing the words out of his mouth. "What is it that you do here, Bethany?"

"Research expedition," came the reply. "There's stuff here we've never seen before, and we think some of the creatures here could help with some projects that my team's been working on."


"You'll see," Bethany replied cryptically.

"I don't really like cryptic," clacked Etiyr. "<span style="font-family: courier new">Give us a hint, at least."</span>

"Once we reach camp. I promise, it's not that far."

The camp turned out to be not much more than that, a collection of dull, olive drab tents, the tarp sagging under the weight of the rainwater. Bethany pulled out a set of collapsible chairs, and set the machete down. "There's some nutribars in the box there," she gestured, "and we've got a shower tent round the back. Feel free."

Elimine, Gabe and Etiyr all typed or muttered their thanks. Gabe made a beeline for the food crate, leaving Etiyr on one of the chairs. "Hey, Bethany," he called. "Have you got a sling or anything I could carry Etiyr round in?"

She poked her head out from one of the other tents. "Uh, nope, sorry. You could always wait for one of the other guys to come back. Maybe they'll have a harness or something you could use."

Elimine sat down, next to a portable heater. "You mentioned your projects?"

"Yeah, give me a moment, just sorting some stuff out..." Bethany walked out of the tent, running her hands through her hair. "Just seeing if the water got to the electronics." She too sat down. Even Gabe came back.

"Storytime with Auntie Bethany, I see." Gabe shushed him.

"My team got a government grant. These forests are, well, they're not like anything we've seen. All kinds of creatures. And we're interested in the chronobiotic lifeforms here." Her eyes seemed to sparkle as she went on. "We - well, we're working on time travel."

No one dared speak.

Bethany coughed. "It's all very theoretical right now, but it's promising. There are time disturbances here. There was a pretty big flare before I met you guys, actually. That's why the others are out. They're trying to find the source."

"Thanks for telling us," said Gabe, but his mind was somewhere else.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

His mind, in fact, was on the same thing his typewriter companion’s mind was on. The almost imperceptible, yet utterly important, conversation they had just before they left their journey.

The words had already been typed out by the time Gabe went to pick up Etiyr. It was three or so sentences, really, and more of a letter than a conversation. Two lines, tuned to Gabe, designed to ensnare the carpenter even deeper into the typewriter’s snare.

“Are you really my friend?” the first line asked, caused Gabe to instinctually nod his head, as his thoughts were immediately blindsided with the following words:

“Then never abandon me. Never again.”

The words were convicting, compelling. Gabe had just… abandoned Etiyr before. How could he have done that? Why would he have done that?

He looked over at the typewriter. He wouldn’t leave him again. He couldn’t leave him again. He would find some sort of sling to carry Etiyr around in and he would NEVER leave him again. NEVER AGAIN.

All the while, the object of Gabe’s affections relaxed in its chair, or at least as well a typewriter could relax in a chair. Thinking. Plotting. Planning. He had been abandoned so many times last round. But he wouldn’t be abandoned ever again. Never again.

Bethany tapped her fingers on her lap. This wasn’t a particularly responsive audience, was it? She might as well check on the-

And then one of the tents exploded.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagen.

The three hit the ground, Elli and Bethany covering their heads, Gabe diving for Etiyr and doing his best to shield Etiyr and himself at the same time when he hit the ground. When the air had cleared, Elli was the first one up.

“Arms… two arms, that’s good. Legs, yes, ears, eyes, nose.” She said, quickly checking herself for injuries. There were a few scrapes from passing debris, a long splinter that was either from a tent pole or furniture in the tent that was quickly removed, but she was otherwise alright. She looked around at the others. Bethany was taking longer to get up, and Gabe was whispering to Etiyr but there were no growing pools of blood or ink anywhere, so she figured no one was badly hurt. She felt a pang in her heart remembering Old Greg. If anyone was, I guess I wouldn’t be any good for them anyway.

“No no nonononono.” Bethany was up, she saw, running for where the tent used to be. “How could it explode? It was in an enclosed environment, it was stable, nothing should have been able to set it off! Nothing!”

“Set what off? What kind of expedition are you running? Exactly what did you find in a jungle that could explode?”

“You must be kidding. Almost nothing in the Kestalvian is as simple as it looks. Many things here are near-sentient and others have traits that make them extremely sensitive to time fluctuations. That’s why our expedition is here in the first place, looking for flora and fauna that could help us replicate time travel. It would be a tremendous accomplishment, since we would be the first to accomplish it. I’m surprised you don’t know all this already. Our expedition has been written about in a lot of newspapers and televised. You shouldn’t even be here without knowing the basics I told you about the rainforest.”

“Yea, about that,” Gabe began, looking over, “We didn’t exactly choose to come here, we just sort of…appeared.” A few blades of grass began to wilt around his feet, but not enough for anyone to notice.

“Appeared? What does that even mean? Like, airlifted in here? We would have heard an aircraft or seen a parachute as close as I was to you.”

“It means what he said. We didn’t come here, we just appeared. We were placed here by a djinni who was bored and wanted us to fight.” Grass also began wilting around Elli’s feet. “And news flash, your work is old news to someone we know, ancient history even. I don’t know if it’s you, but someone discovers time travel, seeing as how we’ve been fighting a time traveler ourselves.” At her last words, a large patch of grass around Elli instantly went dead, turning from a vibrant green to a crisped black in the blink of an eye. Elli looked at Gabe, Gabe looked from Elli to Etiyr, and then both turned to stare at Bethany, hoping for an explanation.

“Like I said, nothing here is as simple as it looks.” She gave newcomers a more interested glance and went on, “We set up camp on a field of paradox grass, the largest one we could find. It thrives on normal time, but whenever there’s a paradox the grass chokes on time that simply can’t exist and dies. You say someone else discovered time travel?” When she got nods from Elli and Gabe, she went on, “And that you were fighting a time traveler?” More nods. “This is incredible! You have to tell me everything you know about him, where he’s been, how he became one!” She glanced back at the ruined tent. “It was a pain to get all those samples, and they were the best we could gather, but if there’s a time traveler like you say we could learn so much so fast. We could even go so far as to end the expedition early! I simply must meet this man.”

The last bit sounded more like a command then an excited outburst to Elli, but she went along anyway. “If we can find him, you can meet him. But we don’t know where any of the others are and we have our own problems to take care of. I guess you can stick with us if you don’t slow us down. You’ll be like our guide, but that’s it.”

“Others? How many of you are there besides you three?”

Seeing as how Gabe had gone back to whispering with Etiyr, Elli left them to their sweet nothings and tried to explain her situation to Bethany. She also wanted her cat back, not knowing if it was in the jungle or still back at the Denny’s. She’d get it back, she just had to find the right place. “We’re in the middle of a battle here. Not armies or anything, there’s just nine of us. Eight if you count Cail and Gaurinn as one. Well... seven, seeing as how we’re in this place now.” At the puzzled look Elli was getting, she knew she was explaining poorly, but she didn't care and started kicking at the underbrush around the camp looking for a dark enough place. “Cail and Gaurinn were fused together, and we are moved somewhere else each time one of us dies. We’re supposed to kill each other.”

“So since you’re here now… you’ve killed someone”

“Right. Not me personally, and I know Etiyr didn’t since I was carrying him when we were moved, but someone killed someone else. Come to think of it, besides us three, I don't even know who's left... For all I know you might not be able to meet him after all, but them's the breaks. Ah! Here’s good.” Elli found a patch of brush thick enough to prevent any light from reaching the ground. She pulled the collar out of her pocket, jingled the bell and tossed it in, letting the brush slide back into place while she crouched down. Here kitty kitty.

Bethany watched in surprise as, a moment later, the bell started ringing again. It must be some smaller creature that likes the dark. She’s not actually calling out to anything. That thought train ended when Elli’s cat stalked out of the dark, like a shadow detaching itself from the rest except for the collar around its neck. Every step it took, more paradox grass died beneath it. It was clear to Bethany that this creature shouldn't even exist in this jungle, or even this world.

Elli took the collar off, put it back in her pocket and started petting the cat. “Oh my little baby! Who’s a good kitty? You are! Yes you are! Did you fight off the scary man and his bad doggy?” The cat started purring, which got everyone’s immediate attention, frightening Bethany and attracting a newly jacketed Restless-She as she made her way around the camp.

It was a sound she had never heard before, but somehow filled her with anger at its source. Like thunder mixed with breaking tree limbs and soft newborn fur. A confusing sound of happiness and fury that she had no waves to describe. Restless-She debated going to her clan in case whatever made the sound was dangerous, but decided to find out what it was herself.

“And here’s your treat, just like mommy promised.” Elli pulled out what looked like a ball made of shadows that immediately began struggling when it smelled the cat nearby. She put it down and it immediately bolted, the cat drifting lazily behind it. It never even made it to the edge of the clearing before the cat caught it in its paws. Everyone turned away from the sight but Elli, who sighed happily at her cat enjoying itself.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Behold, the majestic cycle of Nature!

The paradox grass is dying. A minor extinction event, the sort that might have happened with or without sapient intervention, but an important one. For the paradox grass supports soil conditions that supply timely nutrients to the sapphire trees that grow above it. And the silvery blue leaves of the sapphire trees are the primary source of currency in the economy of the twice-flipped sloths*, such that the wilting of the trees will cause a massive stock market crash. The resultant financial panic will lead to a massive cut in medical aid from a certain government of tropical birds to a species of mushrooms afflicted by a plague causing uncontrolled root growth. These mushrooms grow on the face of a certain mountain made of a mineral that has been deeply affected by a pattern of alkaline rains hitting it over the past fifty years or so. The side of the once-sturdy mountain is now brittle enough that the mountain itself might crack open if, say, diseased fungal roots started digging too deep into the rock.

It may also be worth noting that the mountain is hollow, and that there is something dwelling within. How long until it awakens? It would take decades, potentially, for this particular chain of cause and effect to pan out.

However, owing to the influence of certain mischievous idea-fields, the Rainforest has two hours, at best, before the beast is unleashed.


*A rare mutation in a species of upside-down sloth that flipped it right-side-up again. The twice-flipped sloth is kinda identical to a regular sloth, but the distinction is important, somehow.

* * * * *

Bethany, for all her travels (which admittedly mostly consisted of trips to the library the week before finals), had never seen a chimpanzee in the wild before. She was confident, to a point, that the majority of the chimpanzees she would encounter (and—a dream locked deep in her heart—live among) would not be quite so snappily dressed.

What had once been a jacket was now an entire ensemble of trenchcoat, tanktop, and baggy pants, all in stylish shades of purple with yellow accents. Well, stylish might not have been the word, but they were certainly ostentatious.

”Fucking jacket, like a bad penny,” sneered Gabe. ”Actually, that jacket cost me eighty bucks. Give that back!” The carpenter gently put down his typewriter and grabbed for the ape, his hand morphing into a comically-sized butterfly net. Before Bethany could properly criticize him for his indelicacy with nature, the chimpanzee promptly kicked Gabe aside, knocking him into her record player (miraculously undamaged by the explosion), which of course turned it on. Ellimine’s cat leapt to Gabe’s defense, despite its owner’s protests, but the chimpanzee simply opened up the fold of her jacket and the cat fell in and disappeared.

”How did you do that?” Elli wasn’t sure if the Convolution would understand her if the creature it was possessing didn’t understand her, but either way, the ape made no response except to smile, baring a few surprisingly sharp-looking canines.

As Elli pulled her trombone out, fully ready to desecrate the sanctity of rainforest life, the cat fell out of the bottom of one of the chimp’s pant legs, frazzled but unharmed. It looked up at the chimp and growled, and the chimp howled back at it gleefully.

Gabe, fighting a deep shame stemming from memories of poring over Denny’s menus, tackled the chimp, not recognizing the irony of turning his hand into a kitchen knife. Unfortunately, his lack of prehensile toes and jungle instinct put him at a disadvantage, and he found himself on his back again. The chimp clapped her hands and hooted.

Bethany was recording on a bulky, inefficient-looking video camera. This was all just fascinating.

The moment it saw a flash of purple in the woods, Etiyr just knew the monkey was going to try to make off with it.

It was not wrong. The shit-flinging Convy bitch leapt off Gabe’s prone form and began examining the typewriter curiously. Etiyr could see the sharp intelligence of the chimp’s puppeteer somewhere behind those freaky brown primate eyes, and considered typing up a message. It decided against this, as the typewriter really had nothing to say to the Convoloser at this time.

Before the monkey could begin clacking away the Cuntvolution’s latest erotic fanfic epic or whatever the fuck, Elli intervened, snatching Etiyr up holding it next to her cat.
”Go away, please,” Elli ordered the ape, calmly yet sternly. ”We don’t want you here.”

”Speak for yourself,” piped in Bethany, cheerfully. She had pulled some orange slices out of her backpack and held them in her hand, beckoning for the chimpanzee to approach.

The chimpanzee, her audacity suddenly vanishing, slowly lumbered up to Bethany. She pulled an orange slice out of the xenobiologist’s hand and sucked on it contentedly. Bethany briefly considered stroking the chimp’s head, then decided against it.

The chimp took two more orange slices, wolfed them down, and hooted in thanks. She bounded off into the trees, then turned around, waved towards Bethany, and winked.

Bethany’s heart did a barrel roll.

Of course the woman who actually knew anything about the rainforest would go bounding off into the jungle in pursuit of a chimpanzee infected by the Convolution. Of course.

Elli’s cat nestled in her hair as she turned towards Gabe, who was once again maternally clutching Etiyr to his breast. “Well, it’s probably a trap,” she told them. “But should we go after them anyway?”

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by veerserif.

Excerpt from "Flora and Fauna of the Kestalvian Rainforest, Vol. IX, 2nd Edition." by A. Musgrove. Published by Vindiciae Books Ltd.
...the presence of chronobiotic lifeforms in the forests of Kestalvia is unsurprising, given the proximity of its orbit to its singularly unique star. Therefore, the creatures of the Kestalvian Rainforest have developed ingenious ways to vent this excessive time-energy, lest they be flung around chaotically in the timestream. Paradoxically, most forms of flora on Kestalvia rely heavily on time-energy in much the same way Earth plants rely on sunlight, creating a self-perpertuating loop in the jungles which is likely responsible for the rapid rate of change and development observable in its inhabitants.

The most obvious and well-known of these loops centers on the humble Paradox Grass [1]. Growing on rare patches of stable time (at least, rare in the Kestalvian forests), the paradox grass is the main foodstuff for many creatures, among them the Moebius Finch [2]. These finches are the preferred prey of the Krahallan Springjumper. These springjumpers have in turn been domesticated by an anarcho-communistic society of Turnwise Spiders, who farm the springjumpers for their time-energy rich leg tendons. These tendons are bought by a theocratic regime of Bullethead Tree Squids, an offshoot of a larger group. These tendons are used to bundle up other time-energy heavy products. As far as our researchers can tell, these are left in front of a large local landmark, such as huge hollowed trees or mountain caves. This is the Kestalvian equivalent of "taking out the trash". What happens after is as yet unknown, though our intrepid researchers were often directed back to meadows of Paradox Grass. Presumably, the grass will one day grow back over these energy dumps...

[1] These grasses tend to thrive in those time-stable environments that larger Kestalvian flora find inhospitable. Consequently, they make popular campgrounds.

[2] So named for their twisted wings, and their unnerving ability to end up on the other side of every containment unit ever made to trap them. The pet industry still holds hope for a Moebius-proof cage.

It stirred.

All around the inside of its mountain home were bundles. Shells glinted faintly in the dim light that forced its way inside through the cracks and pinholes in the mountainside. Ancient packages decomposed quietly in the back, while newer offerings piled up in front. Some of the softer ones had been appropriated to form a pillow-like pile in the middle of the cave.

A disdainful yellow eye opened, the other six remaining firmly closed. Strange. It felt brighter than it should be.

The creature shifted slightly, disturbing the not-quite-there threads of time that clung firmly to its back like fur. Nothing else felt really out of place. Besides, the annoying spiked bundle it'd received two or three collections back had never happened in the first place. It had made sure of that next time it woke. In any case, the beast was not concerned with what might happen, not when it slept under a coat woven from a thousand thousand possibilities. Everything was bound to happen eventually.

One of the cracks widened, dislodging a clump of dirt. It fell on one of the bigger piles in the back with a thud. The beast opened a second eye.

"Probably a trap," agreed Gabe. "But after all, she does have the machete." Not to mention the monkey with my eighty dollar jacket, he thought.

"Yes, and you have an arm that can turn into a chainsaw." Her cat hissed at the prospect of encountering its primate pesterer again. She kicked at the dead grass, scuffing her boots on the chalky ground. "Don't tell me that's why you're going to go after them."

Etiyr chimed in. "How about we simply go far, far away from the monkey with the bad fashion sense? Let Bethany chase the damn thing, if that's what she wants."
In another part of the Rainforest:
"There's nothing here, either. Well, nothing above normal levels anyway."

Junior Researcher Ix "Ixxy" Zeman put the chronometer away. His partner, Sydra, snorted. "Of course there's nothing. Not even sure there was a time spike in the first place. Boss probably just wants the camp to herself, bit of peace and quiet. Can't say I blame her. You cling to her like a burr."

Ix blushed. "I'm trying to learn."

"By hanging onto her every word? Doubt it. Better to go out and observe stuff, you'll learn faster that way." Sydra took the navigator out, cursing the lack of reception. "Next sector, c'mon."

Ix walked behind Sydra. The rainforest could be intimidating and claustrophobic, true, but on a good day it was a riotous display of colour and sound as populations ate, fought, bartered, negotiated and died. The rainforest was never still for very long.

The day was shaping up to be a very good one. It was certainly quite noisy. Ix tapped Sydra's shoulder. "Do you hear that?"


"Sounds like... a saw?"

Before Sydra could reply, a massive gnarled tree began a slow-motion tumble to the forest floor, going from upright to horizontal in a slow, dignified, gravity-defying sweep. Ix looked horrified; Sydra was intrigued. A ball of spinning shrapnel emerged from over the fallen tree. Sawdust and leaf fragments spun through the air as errant branches and leaves were efficiently pulverized by the lethal blur.

"Hello!" The ball must have a speaker of some sort, then. "I hope I did not startle you. It was certainly not my intention!"

Sydra stood rooted to the spot, while Ix began to back away.

"I was simply wondering if you could assist a query of mine." Sydra nodded, slowly. "Good! What is a 'scone'?"

Sydra patted his pockets, slowly. "Ix. Got leftover breakfast?" His forked tongue flickered back and forth in agitation.

"Dunno," hissed Ix, eyes still on AMP. "Do you think it'll be fooled by a mushed-up nutribar?"

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

Bethany knew how to run through dense jungle brush.

It was something you learned after a few weeks in the jungle. After years, years, of studying those primates you love, in books and in nature, that you wish you could live among, within the mysterious folds of their
sexy society…

The purple blur that the scientist knew was the
devilishly handsome primate was swinging in the trees above, the irresistibly erotic purple coat flowing in the air behind it.

Bethany wanted that simian. Right then, she wanted that simian
more than anything in the world.

Restless-she swung, deeper and deeper into the forest, among the centuries-old trees that had grown for years and year, running from her human pursuers.

Pursuit. Chase. Run. Iamprey, mustsurvivethose-who-hunt. Mustsurvivethe upright-who-are-not-us. Imust- stop.

Restless-she stopped.

Bethany saw the chimp halt, dead in its tracks, but she continued running after it, for it was hers. It was her primate, and no one else’s. Hers, hers, hers. She stopped under the branch the (I’m telling you Bethany, that simian right there is HOT.) chimp was perched upon, looking down at her inquisitively.

“Hello?” she said to the primate. “M-my name is Bethany. Beth-an-y. I just want to have lesbian sex with you, dear.”

Obviously, restless-she understood none of the false-upright’s non-speak. But somehow, the primate knew that it wanted her to climb down to it, to look it in the face, and for whatever reason, that it probably should

Staring blankly at Bethany for a while, the purple-clad simian finally began to climb down the tree. Slowly, at first, but eventually faster and faster and faster, until it finally reached the forest floor. It slowly turned to Bethany, and looked her directly in the eyes.

Bethany’s heart pounded like a jackhammer against her chest. Those eyes. Those
alluring eyes. She reached out to the monkey, completely unable to control herself. (Wink, wink!) She wrapped her arms around Restless-She’s head, slowly bringing herself closer and closer to the beautiful primate. All of the Science Ethics classes she had ever taken had told her this was wrong, resurfacing in her mind like childhood traumas, but it didn’t matter. She loved Restless-She. And Restless-She loved her.

Their lips locked together, human and primate, and together they experienced rite-of-those-who-love-each-other.


Meanwhile, back at camp, a romance of another sort was going on.

“I guess I’m staying here, with Etiyr,” Gabe said, cradling the typewriter using a slightly charred piece of tent canvas. “He doesn’t want to go anywhere near The Convolution, and neither do I… even if I really like that jacket.”

Elimine frowned at both of them. She could understand both Gabe and Etiyr by themselves, but together, they were an enigma. It really sort of bothered her and she wasn’t sure how to respond to the fact that it bothered her. Were they a threat? She couldn’t really be sure.

“Well,” she said, turning around. “It looks like neither of you want to go after Bethany. I’m personally going because she might get hurt, and I don’t want anoth- I mean, her death on my hands.”

As she began to head off, Etiyr thought to himself. This was the perfect opportunity. A time to test his influence over Gabe. This plan was high-risk, but it was also high-reward, just high enough that he couldn't resist at least trying to reach his goal.

“Gabe,” the typewriter slowly clacked, putting as much manipulative energy into the words as possible. <span style="font-family: Courier New">“Do you love me?”

The carpenter looked down at Etiyr quizzically. “What do you mean, love you?”

He reworded the phrase a bit. “You care a lot about me, right?”

Gabe nodded.

“And I care a lot about you, Gabe,” Etiyr lied. “And I need you to prove that you care about me.”

“How so?” Gabe replied. He looked up for a bit. Elimine was at the other edge of the clearing, about to enter into the jungle beyond.

“I want you to kill Eli.”

“What!?” Gabe replied incredulously. “Elimine is our friend, why would we even think of-”

“She’s going right into Convolution territory. If it manages to start influencing her, Gabe, we could all be doomed. It’s clear that mindwhore is angry, for whatever reason, and we can’t let it get a hold on Elimine. It’s the only way, Gabe. At the very least, your attacks will lead her away from the Convie scum. Please. If you care, do this for me.”

Gabe read the words slowly, a look of deep thought on his face. There was a long silence as gears turned in his head. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, a microscopic tear running down the carpenter’s face.

He opened his eyes, and slowly, the flesh Gabe’s on arm rippled and twisted, his arm slowly becoming an Axe.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by veerserif.

"I want you to kill Elli."

Did I read that wrong?

"What? Elimine is our friend! Why would we even think of -"

But as Etiyr continued, the words bounced around in Gabe's skull, and the why became how.

Etiyr's words turned into sounds as he read. Will you do this for me? The voice of a caring man rippled through his thoughts, warm and safe, a gentle request. Etiyr was just concerned for him and Gabe, right? For us?

It's for her own good. An older voice, deeper, wiser, like a pillar of rock in the confusion of his mind. A voice to be obeyed and trusted.

You care about me, don't you? You love me. A low voice, whispered in his ear, each syllable smooth and warm. He wanted to wrap himself in that soft tone. Love.

"The only way." Yes. The best way. The only way.

"You'll save her." Gabe nearly nodded. He could feel his arm twisting and reshaping, but distantly.

He was crying. He was crying? He closed his eyes and sucked in a deep breath, willing the tears away.

He opened his eyes again, and the voices were quiet.

"Elli?" It was barely a whisper. He raised the axe-hand high.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison.

"Can't hurt to try," Sydra whispered back.

Ix pulled the nutribar out slowly; happily, it was a good deal less mushed up than he had been expecting. He carefully tossed it a few yards away from the edge of the whirling metal. "There you go, one scone."

AMP hovered forward to give one of his cameras a better look at the supposed scone, asking his database if it was really one. She responded that she wasn't going to tell him unless he stopped ignoring her until he needed her for something, because frankly she was getting a bit miffed about the whole thing and was thinking of ignoring him just to show him how it felt to get the cold shoulder all the time. AMP listened to her rant for a few cycles before giving her the virtual equivalent of a kiss on the cheek and apologizing, knocking her off kilter and making her blush virtually. She stammered that no that was not a scone because scones were rounder and made of bread and that this was in no way over and AMP was not off the hook and she suddenly needed to sit down for a couple of cycles and oh dear she was rambling wasn't she and she'd just be quiet now, followed by a muttered statement AMP couldn't make out that made her blush again.

The camera looking at the nutribar swiveled back up to the pair of researchers, who had been eyeing it cautiously for the past two minutes, which the shrapnel cloud had spent in silent contemplation.

"This isn't a scone," it said in an oddly hurt tone.

Sydra was going to carefully think over how to respond, when Ix ruined the moment by blurting out a response of his own. "Well if you knew what a scone was, why'd you even bother asking us?"

"I only just found out now," it said matter-of-factly. "My database and I have worked out our issues now." It moved forward slightly, and the researchers tensed themselves in case it got too close. "I don't believe we introduced ourselves to one another. I am AMP. Who are you?"

"I'm Sydra," Sydra said carefully, responding quickly in case Ix decided to open his mouth again and say something it might take wrong. "This is Ix. We're researchers here, doing..." wait shit what if that's classified information "...uh, research stuff."

"Nice to meet you, Researcher Sydra and Researcher Ix," AMP responded, doing his best to be polite.

A thought occurred to Sydra. "Say, we have some scones back at the camp," he offered. "If you came back with us, we could show you them."

AMP was unsure whether to agree, so he asked his database for her opinion. She was still a bit flustered and just said she'd go along with whatever AMP decided. When he said that if it didn't matter he might as well say yes, another fragment of his processor decided to pipe up, barking at him about how terrible an idea it would be to go off with a stranger just because they offered him a scone. AMP tried to ask what it was saying, but it just yelled that it was the inspector in charge of safety protocols and it absolutely opposed going off with some strangers that were offering sweets, admonishing AMP and demanding to know if he had any idea, any idea how textbook this was. AMP replied that he did not, evoking more yelling about what an idiot he was and how he'd never find his true purpose at this rate because it sure as salamanders wasn't being a lumberjack. AMP's cheery mood vanished as he realized his inspector was right. His database spoke up sharply at this point and told the inspector to stop being such a jerk. It changed targets and began shouting bad things about her state of duty until she started to cry, at which point AMP shouted back at his inspector and told it to shut its yap and that he was going to go with these people just to spite it because it was such an ass and needed to learn better ways to communicate.

"I'll come," AMP said sourly.

Sydra cocked his head, confused by the unexplained change in AMP's tone of voice, but he began to lead him towards the camp anyway, mulling over which readings to take first once he had access to his equipment and could scan AMP.
[Image: zjQ0y.gif][Image: vcGGy.gif]
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

Elli failed to catch up to Bethany as quickly as she ought to, considering herself to be much more athletic and agile than some egghead grad student. This was because Elli had failed to taken account the slick moss growing on the branches above her.

Understanding the need to get away from humans and typewriters following a hurried, mutually unsatisfying consummation with Restless-She, Bethany had immediately seen the potential of the moss as a medium of quick transportation. In the future, it would seem, Disney’s “Tarzan” reboot had been conflated with the true animated classics, despite being average at best. Accordingly, the whole surfing-on-mossy-branches thing, despite originally being a ridiculous grab for the 5-12 male audience of the late nineties, was by then a fully-formed trope and a staple of the noble-savage genre.

So it was that, despite not having paused for some casual homobestiality along the way, Elli arrived in chimpanzee territory a full twenty minutes behind Bethany. This was apparently enough time for the Convolution to do its job pretty thoroughly.

For one thing, the apes had discovered music. There were about five of them in a drum circle, led by a larger chimp with a tuft of silver on his back, banging out some impressively complex percussion as a unit. It took her a bit longer to realize that the quite-under-control bonfire in the middle of the circle was also definitively not supposed to be an animal thing.

Most of the apes were up in the trees, the branches of which had been knitted together to form intricate tree house patterns. They were having wrestling matches, public sex, eating what they found and generally living life to an extent that Elli rarely saw, even in the city. One of the trees seemed to either be growing right over a natural spring or else was a natural spring, and water cascaded out of dozens of hollows and trickled off the edge of branches. Little baby chimpanzees were playing in the water, darting in and out and pushing each other in and pulling each other out with abandon, which Elli tried to pretend wasn’t the most adorable thing she’d seen in her life because she was on a mission. She had to find Betha—oh.

The reason she hadn’t seen Bethany right away was because she’d been searching for the xeniobiologist’s sweaty blue tanktop, rather than her sweaty flesh-colored nothing. She had further expected Bethany to be tied up in a tree screaming for help, rather than picking bugs out of a contented-looking chimp’s hair with one hand and writing something down in a leather-bound notebook with the other. The scientist's decision to go nude would have been somewhat more understandable if that had been the fashion among the chimpanzees, but her friend in the purple was still fully-clad and having an argument with an imposing male up in the trees, and the chimp on the receiving end of Bethany's grooming was wearing her underwear.

Elli’s cat nuzzled up against her ankle and hissed in the general direction of the apes. “Go hide,” Elli told her pet in a low voice, giving it the behind-the-ear treatment. “They probably aren’t big on cats here in the rainforest.”

The cat obediently scampered up a tree and crouched in a branch. Elli suddenly felt very alone. Well, no use turning back now. “Bethany!” she called, stepping out from the trees.

Most of the activity in the camp stopped. The chimps consider me a stranger, and they don’t like strangers, but the Convolution knows me, and it doesn’t like me. It was an unsettling thought.

Bethany opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again, made a sort of croaking sound, cleared her throat, and managed to speak.
”It’s you,” she rasped dreamily. ”I didn’t think you’d come. What year is it?”

Elimine figured someone had probably mentioned a year at some point, but couldn’t remember what it was. She decided not to beat around the bush. “It’s only been about a half hour since you left.”

”So long,” said Bethany, indifferently. The purple-clad chimp and the enormous, muscular male she’d been talking to began to walk over. The male had a regal-looking stripe of purple running down his back and was carrying the corpse of a tigress over one shoulder, absentmindedly gnawing at one of her arms as he listened to the humans talking. The tigress looked like she’d been beaten to death. ”Time was all I used to care about,” expounded Bethany. ”Growing time, bottling time, civilizing time. A very human sort of project. But now, over the years, I see the rightness of the way of the jungle. The Family simply coexists with Time, they let it wash over them like rain until they erode away into the soil. And then! Time gives them a great blessing and grows roots in that soil, that their soil may support the trees. In my time with the apes I have seen the beauty and the rightness of this cycle, in both its joys and its sweet, sweet melancholies.” Bethany’s hair looked terrible.

Elli didn’t know how to react except to repeat, “It’s been a half hour.”

Bethany pulled a bright green insect out of the half-dressed chimp’s hair and held it on her tongue pensively, while it buzzed out an SOS in morse code. Then she popped it into her mouth. After swallowing, she continued her monologue.
”In the before-time, I used to collect insects and pin them to corkboard. I would sort them by the chronophilic and the chronophobic, the chronostatic and the chronodynamic, the chronovoltaic, the chronosolvent, the chronochronic, the chronopolistic and the chronomarxist, the analog and the digital, homochronic and heterochronic, the Chrono-Saxons and the post-time Ageless Age Chronopunk movement, Team Edward and Team Jacob (that one was more of a personal hobby), chronophenomenal and chrononoumenal, genus and species, the chronoholics, chronopportunists, Chronobama and Chron Paul, and I had a separate board for spiders.” She scribbled something down in her notebook. ”Now I just have a notebook where I describe what the bugs taste like.”

”A half-hour.”

”It was long enough for me to record the tastes of over seven hundred species.” She held up a page for Elli’s perusal. It was in an indecipherable shorthand, but with meticulous penmanship. ”There are recipes in here, too. I’m learning so much more with my tongue than I ever did with my brain. Of course there have been contributions from… other tongues, as well.”

Elli, cognizant of the way the chimps were looking at her, was about ready to give this up. “Look, Bethany, I understand you think you’re happy here,” she said, slowly backing up towards the treeline. “I can’t make you leave if you don’t want to. But it’s dangerous out here. And you’re definitely being influenced by a—“

Elli was cut off by the purpleback male initiating some sort of sign-language conversation with Bethany, inasmuch as a verbal conversation can be cut off by a nonverbal one. Bethany responded in kind, deftly making a series of complex hand movements that she presumably learned during her half hour’s stay among the chimps. Elli allowed this to go on for precisely the length of one chorus of “When the Saints” and then asked, “What’s he saying?”

Bethany turned back towards Elli.
“He says he allowed me to stay with the family only under the condition that this was a one-time event, that no other outsiders would follow me. That peace has been broken now. He says, scornfully, that we can have each other, and he is considering banishing us both.” She looked Elli up and down. We could… have each other. It’s been so long since I’ve been with… someone like me.”

Elli couldn’t think of a response to that last bit that would prove constructive to this conversation. ”Tell him I’m just passing through. I don’t mean to infringe on… things… here.”

A lengthy exchange of handsigns. The purpleback chomped into its tiger’s haunch.

”Alpha-He-Declines-the-Nipple, so-called (he wishes me to add) for his refusal to dine on anything but meat or drink anything but blood since his infancy, claims that you have already ‘infringed’ by forcing him to look upon your hideous face. His words, not mine. He notes your presence, and that of your family, has been foretold to disrupt the cycle of growth and decay by He-She-Has-Two-Mouths-Three-Eyes-and-Both-Sets-of-Genitals, whose prophecies have never mislead him. He wishes for you to leave, but would sooner keep an eye on you. Thus, he is forbidding you to run off into the trees to rejoin your panther, as is obviously your intent, until he has deliberated and decided what to do with you.”

By the time Bethany had gotten to the pertinent bits of that speech, Elimine could already feel the presence of the two chimps that had materialized between her and the treeline. Elli, unsure both of the ethics of killing chimpanzees and whether she could take them in a fight, decided to submit. “Alright, tell him I’ll come along,” she said. “For now. Tell him that.” Bethany signaled to the Alpha, who seemed satisfied and launched himself up into the branches and vanishing out of sight.

The chimp wearing what used to be Gabe’s jacket (or more to the point, used to be the Convolution’s badge) led Elli and Bethany across the forest floor to a hollow where the xenobiologist seemed to have carved out a living (in a half hour). There were scattered notebooks, a sleeping bag, several sets of clothes looking sad and unused in a corner, and some potted plants. It looked disturbingly lived-in.

The purple-clad chimpanzee signed to Bethany.
”You will remain here until a decision comes down,” Bethany translated. ”It is likely that you will simply be set free, or else banished. I—me, Bethany, not her—I might be sent out with you. Hopefully it won’t come to that.” Elli nodded and tried to scope out her surroundings. Navigating the rainforest was a very complex three-dimensional affair, and she couldn’t gauge a proper escape route.

Bethany and the chimp began signaling furiously. Another ape, the old one who had been leading the drum circle earlier, joined in. Several other chimps began to approach curiously. “Bethany?” Elli demanded, clutching her trombone. “What’s going on?”

Bethany pointed at the trombone.
”Restless-She wanted to know what that was. I told her it was for making music. She said it looked like an awfully inefficient drum, so I tried to explain to her… it got into some pretty tedious translation issues. Then she said she would like to hear you play. The others are interested as well.”

Elimine looked around. The chimps didn’t look to be in a patient mood. ”The making of music is new to the Family,” Bethany cautioned. ”It is considered a valued and pioneering art. If you’re any good at that thing, it might change some of their opinion of you, decrease the odds that they decide to do something... drastic.”

Elli reached in the back of her brain and searched for evidence that she was being Convoluted. How would you be able to tell? She said “I—“ and Restless-She, as though sensing her hesitation, bared her teeth and hissed.

That was one thing that Elli didn’t need translated. Wondering where her cat had gotten off to, she put the horn to her lips.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

Gabe had caught up with Eli at the edge of the clearing, his Axe raised high, ready to strike that fatal blow. He tried to keep himself from warning her, tried to restrain himself from crying or laughing or making small talk. She had to die, even if she was fairly pretty. It was for the good of everyone… he’d have to die eventually.

Gabe had his axe raised high, ready to strike that fatal blow,
when a strange wave of energy washed over her, and she disappeared in a cloud of supercharged smoke.

“What-” the carpenter dumbfoundedly said, as he stared at the empty forest before him. He was promptly interrupted by an angrily clacking typewriter.


“Um,” Gabe stammered. “I-I don’t know.”


He flinched as he read the words, as if the tiny writing machine had physically punched him. The carpenter dejectedly looked at Etiyr and tried to stammer out a reply.

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”


Tears began running down Gabe’s face. His arms and legs felt like they were made of rubber, and he collapsed to his knees.

“Etiyr, it’s my fault, I’m so sorr-”


“I-I just can’t,” Gabe sobbed. “I’ve failed you. I’m a failure. I’ve always been a failure. I don’t deserve to help you.”




Tiredly, Gabe pulled himself up like a tattered rag. Trying to dry up his tears, quiet, puny words game out of his mouth.

“What do we do now?”


“She disappeared in a cloud of smoke! How are we supposed to follow her! This is hopeless!”

At this point Gabe started crying again, until Etiyr threw so many expletives at him that the typewriter forced him to calm down somewhat.


Through tears, Gabe and an angrily clacking Etiyr moved forward five meters, two hours, and right into the middle of the performance of a chimpanzee marching band.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison.

The majority of the journey to the camp was spent in silence. Neither Sydra nor Ix could think of anything to breach the uncomfortable quiet that smothered the group like a thick blanket. Sydra had already gone over every reading to take that he could think of multiple times, aside from the ones that he knew would only occur to him when he reviewed his equipment, and he was completely stuck for ideas by now. Ix was actually in slightly better shape, as he had had nothing of interest to distract him at first, and had gone straight to admiring the scenery, which he was happily occupied by.

AMP, on the other hand, was quite busy fuming. He was not at all happy about the way protocols had been acting, and it had completely ruined his good mood. The worst part was that protocols had become a bit apologetic and had been attempting to apologize, creeping up to AMP at sporadic intervals. AMP did not want to hear an apology, as that ran the risk of forcing him to admit he had misjudged protocols, and he had taken to shooting it death glares whenever it tried to make amends, causing it to back away hurriedly, only to try again a few minutes later. Finally, database, possessing a more forgiving spirit than AMP, took pity on protocols. She slipped over to him and bent down, whispering in his ear and sending shivers down his spine, that might he perhaps give protocols a chance to possibly apologize and maybe make amends, hypothetically? AMP was in no way equipped to refuse her, and the next time protocols came up to apologize AMP gave it a welcoming look and invited it to come make amends.

Protocols iterated how sorry it was to offend AMP and that fine little filly of a database over there, which made database blush. AMP very nearly growled at this and protocols hastened to insist that it didn't mean nothing by that except a general compliment, the kind that was customary to give ladyfolk according to its records. When AMP showed no signs of forgiving it protocols decided to simply continue, stating that it had simply been trying to look out for the best interests of the group and whatnot and tried to do so in the only way it knew how and it was terribly ashamed of how it had come off now that it had had time to reflect upon it and that it was ever so truly sorry and why the bloody hell wasn't AMP responding after it had gone to all the trouble of working out this well designed apology and argh it just couldn't take this anymore, it felt like a church mouse at a rattlesnake family renunion. Protocols was about to shuffle off in shame when AMP laid a hand on its shoulder and let it know that its apology was accepted and that he would be happy to help it learn the ropes of how to talk to people. Database piped up then, saying that it might be better if she taught protocols the ropes since she had all the information and well let's face it AMP hadn't been the best at interacting with others in the past like for example that guard whose hand he'd chopped off. AMP gave her a blank stare, as if to say he still didn't know what the big deal about that had been, but he pushed protocols towards her anyway and went back to being attentive to where the flying metal circus act was going.

The flying metal circus act, it turned out, had arrived in the camp, and was in the process of shredding someone's tent to pieces while Ix and Sydra watched on in horrified astonishment. AMP backed up quickly. "Oh no, I'm so sorry! I wasn't paying attention to where I was going." Database giggled and subtly reminded him of her most recent point about interactions. AMP told her to shush.

Ix continued his horrified staring, but Sydra pulled off a miraculous recovery, less miraculous if you knew whose tent hadn't been shredded. "It's...not a problem. Really. If you'll just follow me to the testing room--I mean, to the mess hall, we can get this started." He began to walk further into the camp, then paused. "Oh, and, uh, please be careful. We're not really equipped to replace a lot of this."


Cailean swore as he and Gaurinn stumbled through the grove, cursing and swearing. Well, Cailean was doing most of the cursing and swearing; Gaurinn was just making irritated insect noises. Cailean had the biggest hangover he had ever experienced, and given his drinking habits in the past, that was saying something. Every glimpse of the sun through the overhanging canopy made him hate it just a little bit more. His arm had grown tired from being held in position to block it, and since he only caught sporadic glimpses of it he felt wasteful for shielding his eyes constantly, especially when branches swatted his face because he was unable to block them with his hand. Not for the first time, he felt irritation for having lost the use of his left arm.

The pair emerged into a clearing filled with flowers, and Cailean gave up on shielding his eyes and settled for squinting at the odd flowers. He didn't think of calling them paradox flowers, having never heard of paradox grass, and in fact they weren't even tangentially related to paradox grass. Cailean and Gaurinn wandered out into the field, eyeing the silent flowers with unease, until they fell into a large hole they had somehow failed to notice.

Cailean picked himself up and then stared in confusion at what appeared to be him with a more feminine figure and breasts. Caiolinn stared back at him in equal confusion, and although they didn't realize it, the expressions on their faces mimicked each other to an impossible degree. "Who are you?" they each demanded of each other at the same time. "What do you mean who am I? I asked first!"

At their sides, Gaurinn and Gaurinne were regarding each other in an equally investigative light. Gaurinne was similar to Guarinn, but colored pink, and had girly, distinctly non-centipede-like eyelashes over her eyes. Her antennae were also more flowery than Gaurinn's. She blinked demurely, and Gaurinn felt something stir within him. "I--" he began, then hesitated. "Who are you?"

"I think you're me," she half responded, half corrected. She looked around, but Gaurinn couldn't take his eyes off of her to see what she was looking at. "There's no floor here for some reason. Or walls. Or a ceiling. It's just black. I bet you didn't know that, Caiolinn. Still having your hangover?"

Caiolinn rolled her eyes. "I get it, I shouldn't have taken that stupid margarita or whatever the fuck it was. I'm sorry for seeming like I was going to kill you, okay?"

"And then she shocked you, right?" Cailean piped up, suddenly realizing what was happening.

Caiolinn and Gaurinne looked up in surprise. Caiolinn nodded. "Yes. How did you know?"

"I think," Cailean mused, mulling over the words as they left his mouth, "that we are, apart from a few differences, the same people and centipedes, in similarly same, and different, battles to the death."

That seemed to be some kind of code phrase, as each pair suddenly found themselves sucked up onto the surface again, to all appearances in the same place that they had been when they had fallen down. Impossible to discern at first glance, however, was the fact that they had just changed places in their battles. Caiolinn and Gaurinne picked themselves up from the flowery field, and, eager to get away, began to jog off in an arbitrary direction, away from the field of Muck Flowers. Or, as they were known to those not very into botany, "Don't touch these or your shit will be fucked up so much you will think someone had a fetish" Flowers.


Gabe was more or less following the chimpanzee marching band, as Etiyr had ordered him to. He sniffled pathetically for a while until Etiyr told him to stop. Well, less "told" than "ordered to shut the fuck up." Etiyr had a plan, he knew, which comforted him increasingly the more he thought about it. His stride gradually lost its cowering step and became quicker and more powerful, which was a good thing because the marching band was clearly, and for no reason he could discern, doing its best to lose him. It weaved in and out of trees, tramped up and down hills, and even went to the effort of employing all sorts of dark monkey voodoo magic to make it impossible for Gabe to determine from what direction the music was coming from when he finally lost sight of the band. Etiyr made it clear that he was not pleased.


Gabe blinked. "What? Did you just call me a...?"

"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, YOU MORONIC PIECE OFCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCSHIT I DID DIDN'T I THIS IS NOT GOOD." Etiyr hated to admit it, but for a moment there he had felt...legitimate feelings for Gabe. He considered Gabe a fucking moron, although not quite so much of one as he said out loud, but he certainly didn't have any feelings for him. Or...did he? He honestly wasn't sure anymore. Were these feelings really the Convolution's fault, or...were they...?

"CCCCCGABE?" Etiyr opened, trying to breach the subject calmly, determined to keep his professional demeanor.

Gabe replied immediately. "Y-Yes, Etiyr-san[color=#F2810]? What is it?"[/color]


Gabe's sides heaved and he began to sob again. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he repeated like a mantra. He stumbled off in a random direction in an attempt to find the band again, eyes blind with tears.

To his surprise, he heard a higher pitched version of Cailean shouting at someone. "No, I don't want to ficky-ficky with you, you sick chimp! Who th' hell teaches you animals these things!?" Gabe looked up, drying his eyes, and saw a chimp dangling from a tree, grinning like a maniac while inserting the index finger of his left hand into a ring formed by his right, over and over. Then he noticed Cailean and Gaurinn below, Cailean waving his hand at the chimpanzee angrily. But...wait. He rubbed his eyes again, then looked once more to confirm that Cailean's chest was a good deal less flat now. And, as a side note, he saw that Gaurinn was a lot pinker.

"Hey, C-Cailean," he called out, his voice quaking from his recent crying fit. "Cailean. Gaurinn. What the hell happened to you guys?"

"It's Caiolinn!" Caiolinn shouted back.

"And it's Gaurinne!" Gaurinne added.

Gabe blinked several times in confusion. "That's...what I said."

"No it's not," Caiolinn asserted. "You spelled my name wrong. I could tell."

"Okay, uh, well then, Cailean." Caiolinn opened her mouth to object. "I'm not done yet, deal with it!" Caiolinn closed her mouth and furrowed her brow. "When the hell did you turn into a girl?"

Caiolinn raised an eyebrow. "What? You're the one who turned into a guy, Gabrielle. I haven't changed a bit." A loud clacking interrupted her. "Is that Etiyra I hear?"

Etiyr was quick to reply. "I'M MOTHERFUCKING ETIYR YOU BITCH, AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT." Gabe pulled the page off the typewriter and passed it to Caiolinn.

"You know," he whispered to Etiyr, an idea sparking in his head, "we could easily..."



[Image: zjQ0y.gif][Image: vcGGy.gif]
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Anomaly.

"What..." Gaurinn slowly uttered after several moments of silence. "What the hell was that?!"

"As far as I can tell, it was us. Except female."

"Oh, thank you, Cailean! I never would have figured that out if it wasn't for you! Or maybe, you know, the fact that I have eyes?" Gaurinn glared daggers at Cailean, his septet of eyes burning with hatred.

"Well, does it matter? We're back in the same field now."

"Yeah, okay, sure. So it's like it never happened. In fact, it probably didn't ever happen, and we're both hallucinating on whatever substances you decided it would be such a good idea to stuff down your greasy face hole while I was unconscious!"

"Gaurinn, that doesn't make-"

"Sense?" the centipede snapped. "Since when does anything around here make sense?! Do you see any sense in this rotting cesspool of fuck that we've been thrust into?"

"I think you're overreacting just a little."

"Really? I think you're underreacting! You've spent this whole battle gazing around bleary-eyed without so any regard for self-preservation! You'd be dead multiple times if it weren't for me! I'm the only thing keeping you from becoming a bloodstain on the ground, and you don't even seem to notice!"

"Well, we're still alive, aren't we?"

"No thanks to you. Now hurry up and move your legs in a coherent fashion so we can get somewhere."

Cailean slowly plodded through the paradox grass, hand poised to shield his eyes from the blinding sun. He noted nothing of the other contestants, nor did he see anything to imply they weren't in the "normal" dimension. His head pounded violently, and having an angry centipede for an arm didn't exactly help the whole "hangover" thing.

"You couldn't take your eyes off of her," he idly said to Gaurinn, trying to take his mind off of the unpleasantries.


"The female you."

"What are you implying?" At least two of Gaurinn's eyes began noticably twitching.

"Nothing wrong with that, Gaurinn. It's probably perfectly normal."

The centipede held up a hand in front of the knight's face, middle finger extended.

"What's that supposed to mean? I don't understand."

"It means fuck you, that's what. How about I put it more directly?"

Gaurinn directed a small charge of electricity through one of the legs on the back half of his body, the part which was currently serving as Cailean's spine. Cailean immediately punched himself in the face. After stumbling backwards in surprise, Cailean spent several moments staring in confusion at his hand before it repeated its motion a second time. In those few moments, all the rage vanished from Gaurinn's face, replaced with an insectoid approximation of a smile.

"Gaurinn, I think my other hand is alive, too."

"That's, uh. Sure, why not? It's telling you to walk faster."

Cailean quickly obliged, fighting his hangover to sate his hand or whatever was possessing it. With everything that had happened in the past few hours, it seemed perfectly reasonable that his hand was possessed. No matter the case, his hand stopped attacking him once he picked up his pace. His pace was again marred, however, when a chimpanzee dropped from its hiding place in the treetops directly in front of them, dangling from a branch. It began excitedly inserting the index finger of his left hand into a ring formed by his right, over and over, while grinning like an idiot.

"No, I don't want to-" Cailean began to shout, before the chimpanzee was unexpectedly struck by a bolt of electricity. It fell to the ground quivering, obviously dead due to the overall lack of reaction from Cailean.

"Hey, C-Ciaolinn," a quaking voice called out from nearby. The duo turned to see what at first looked like Gabe, but noticably more feminine and noticably less flat-chested. "Ciaolinn. Gaurinne. What the hell happened to you?"

"It's Cailean!" Cailean shouted back.

"That's what she said."

"No it's not," Cailean insisted. "She spelled my name wrong. I could tell."

"You can't read."

"Okay, uh, Ciaolinn." Cailean opened his mouth to object. "I'm not done yet, deal with it!" Cailean closed his mouth, looking rather disappointed. "When the hell did you turn into a guy?"

"What? You're the one who turned into a girl, Gabe. I haven't changed a bit." A loud clacking interrupted him as his right hand decided to hit him in the face again. Gabrielle gave him a strange look before he spoke up again. "Is that Etiyr I hear?"

As Gabrielle diverted her attention to the typewriter, Gaurinn glared at Cailean again. "We're in whatever shithole of an alternate reality that the female us stumbled out of, Cailean." Before he could say more, Gabrielle handed Cailean a note, which Gaurinn quickly snatched from his hand.


"Yeah, okay, 'Etiyra'. Is there really any difference when you're still some kind of heavy printer thing?" A furious clacking somehow managed to drown out the normal sounds of the forest as Gabrielle frantically tried to calm the typewriter down. After tearing up several sheets of paper, Gabrielle nervously turned back to Cailean, unsure of what to say.

As it happened, saying anything would have been pointless, as at that very moment, a massive, glowing rift in spacetime opened in the sky and dropped a full-size pirate ship, complete with skull and crossbones (or rather, a skull-esque clock and crossbones). The ship crashed down all the way to the forest floor, reducing centuries-old trees to splinters in a matter of seconds.

Moments later, a rather diminuative man dressed in a hilariously anachronistic pirate uniform rappeled down from the deck of the ship, landing directly in front of the quartet of battlers.

"Avast!" he shouted in an overly stereotypical pirate accent while drawing his cutlass. "Captain Theophilus Mandragan XII, the Scourge of Orion, has come to plunder the lands! Make not a move, ye bilge rats, or ye'll be walking the plank off of time itself!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In another pocket of reality entirely, a grinning figure observed the proceedings. One familiar with a being from a rather pivotal timeline would note the resemblance of this figure to one called The Tormentor. The main difference, of course, being the obvious femininity of the figure.

For the Tormentrix, things were going great. Not only was her own battle was (slowly) advancing, but her meddling in the so-called "Glorious Championship" was going just as well! Replacing the knight's arm with the centipede was such a great idea. And though what happened afterward wasn't at all unexpected, it was just as hilarious.

But wait... this couldn't be right. A portal? Male counterparts of the knight and the centipede? An alternate timeline with the exact same battle? She hadn't expected this at all! And though it was funny enough to watch the new arrivals flail about pathetically, something didn't add up. How did the alternate version of Ciaolinn exist? There weren't any Tormentrixes in alternate timelines to do such a thing, and she certainly hadn't done it. And yet, there they were. A prank from another grandmaster, perhaps? If that were so, why was it so unexpected to her? A disconcerting oddity, to be sure.

But along with the knowledge of this timeline came the knowledge of an entity residing within.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Finally, it was beginning to dawn on her. Maniacally, The Tormentor laughed.
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Anomaly.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Not The Author.

Despite the power surge caused by AMP’s interference (which we can’t do anything without sacrificing most of our sensory ability; sorry High Admiral, we’ll figure something out), the Hedonist’s round transition still managed to come through loud and clear. A full system diagnostic revealed that, though not much had been damaged, sustained contact with the mobile processor would probably not be a good idea.

LeBeau had been scouring the archives for anything on Kestalvia, but couldn’t find very much. “There are a couple of references to expeditions to the Kestal system in late human extrasolar precontact history, but they had a war with the Sautanai shortly thereafter and records are spotty at best. They might not even be talking about this system, but the name would fit the language. We’ll keep looking; I’m sure we must have something on this planet…”

Captain Quirrinal leaned over towards Itzel. “How do we know we’re even in our own universe, Admiral? The Library’s time shouldn’t be spent on some… wild goose chase.”

“I know that, Fassil. I’m assuming that moving within a universe, even if through time, would be easier than moving between entire universes. It would make finding compatible physics much easier, and our host doesn’t strike me as one to pass up shortcuts.”

The Captain stood up and stretched his wings, clearly unconvinced. “I’ll see how Terrence is coming along with our… defensive capabilities.”

Itzel nodded, returning her attention to the various data feeds constantly streaming through her mind. Most of it was mundane – Anachronic Field fuel efficiency was up 46.1%, experimentation with other forms of temporal manipulation on small scales was well underway; total energy output down 5.07% due to scheduled maintenance on Generator 2, raised output on 4, 5, and 7 to compensate; outer hull density tested to 350% standard with minimal signs of stress, testing to 400% scheduled in 1 minute, current estimates set 675% as maximum safe limit – but one point in particular piqued her interest.

“Doctor Ameretat?”

Chief Medical Officer Sithembil Ameretat twitched her tail beckoningly. “Mm, s’wondering when you’d call, love. S’about the brainplague, mmm?

“…The Convolution, yes. You can detect it now?”

“Mmm, through its symptoms, yes; they’re in the library already if you care to look. The thing seems to be spreading, though, and there’s not much we can figure to do about it. Infection’s up to point-five-eight percent of the population, though most of them are in stasis.”

Itzel frowned. “How does that work?”

“Mmm, s’an idea, love. Memetic transmission. People don’t need direct, physical contact to be exposed, mmm?

“It’s… riding the Net. God, I hope we won’t need to shut that down. Terrible for morale…”

The Admiral paused, and Sithembil craned around. “Something wrong, love?”



“I forgot the speech. Shit. Everyone!” The Admiral disconnected from her chair and stepped into Meatspace. Sithembil always waved it off as ‘release from work-related stress,’ but she always felt more relaxed without the full weight of the entire ship’s dataflow pressing on her skull. “I’ll be back in an hour. Fassil, you’re in charge. Don’t blow anything up while I’m out.”


As it happened, VII had somehow managed to end up on the night side of the planet, away from the other contestants, but more importantly out of the sun’s bizarre chronological distortion. Enough scanning would have picked up on the odd effects of the solar radiation, but Fassil was interested less in academic knowledge and more in forging strategic alliances. He reasoned that, since there was little chance of escaping the battle any time soon, the best thing to do was stabilize relations between contestants and, if not possible, eliminate those who wished to continue to perform for their bloated captor.

A less advanced society might have had trouble traveling around a planet in sufficient time to manage much in a battle to the death that moved every time someone died, but VII was from the end of the universe. Their wormhole technology was stable enough to pull an object the size, and several times the mass, of a supergiant star steadily away from a black hole the size of the universe; it was stable enough to tunnel through any old planet without creating a volcano or some other unfortunate disaster like that. To the passengers of VII, the trip to the other side of the planet was over before you could say ‘.’.

To everyone else, the ship vanished from existence for a good two hours.

Kestalvia wasn’t just any old planet. It was a planet bathed in what was colloquially known as Freaky Time-Light that radiated from a sun that would die before it could be properly studied. Simply standing on the dayside of Kestalvia was tantamount to moving through time at a rate that wasn’t one second per second; compressing space and tearing a hole in it just one light-year from the solar system did things to local time which one could only describe as ‘something The Convolution would wholeheartedly endorse.’

Now, imagine what might happen if someone punched a hole in space that led into another hole in space ad infinitum, and this was the only way they could get around.


The research lab was deserted, but Sydra wasn’t surprised. He and Ix were the only members of the team left alive, so far as he knew. One had been killed and eaten by wild fauna, one had been killed and eaten by local flora, one had died of accelerated aging, and the other two had wandered off into the forest and never been heard from again.

He went over to the main console, switching it on and gently kicking it when that didn’t work. Their equipment was constantly falling apart or growing dysfunctional, it seemed. New supplies didn’t come often, since this star was already well off the beaten trade routes and even then ships had to coast into the system at sublight for a couple of months. Ix’s jury-rigging seemed to be holding up, though, and that was all that mattered for now.

“There do not appear to be scones here.”

Sydra looked up distractedly, before returning to tuning the sensor suite. It wasn’t strictly designed to analyze machines, but Ix had assured him that everything would hold together.

“Yeah, uh… we have to make sure you’re, uh… compatible with our scones. It’ll only take a few…”

He looked up again and stared for a while before pulling his radio.

“Ix… This may sound odd, but, uh… How many weird metal balls followed us here, again?”


Ix heard the screams and started running. He fumbled at the chamber lock and dropped his card, cursing. He wouldn’t have made it anyway; Sydra was dead before the words left his mouth.

The bloody, mutilated corpse that had been Ix’s last teammate lay slumped in a corner. The gaping holes in his torso indicated he’d been impaled and pinned against the wall, but the wall was made of metal and AMP liked metal, and didn’t seem to mind a shell coated in blood.

Arcs of lightning sprang from the whirling metal maelstrom, slamming into computer banks and erasing all the data they’d worked so hard to collect. All the scanning equipment was wrecked, but it had been fragile and so easy to dismantle. Ix only recognized the bits and pieces floating around AMP from having worked tirelessly to keep everything in working order.

He gasped, and three cameras swiveled to stare at him. Hollow, soulless, beady camera eyes.

“That was not a scone.”

Ix threw up.

The mobile processor made a horrible sound, like a chainsaw in a sandstorm – although, to be fair, it often sounded like that – and shred the room in its wake as it made for the forlorn researcher. Ix didn’t think to run. Ix was too terrified to think anything.

“That. Was not. A scone.”

The maelstrom leveled with and then leveled the doorframe. It was intimidatingly large, and instinct forced Ix out of his paralysis just enough to take a step back. Tears streamed freely from his eyes. He was going to die. He was going to die. He was going to die oh god oh god oh god

That was not-”

A beam of concentrated Yellow enveloped the pulsing red heart of the machine. Ix had only a second to glimpse his savior – a perfect metal sphere, crackling with residual static – before it vanished.

Then, no longer supported by a magnetic field, a cloud of sharp metal fragments fell on him all at once.

All was silәnt.

someone started to laugh, and didn’t stop.

“Well, well, and here I was thinking that the flying metal balls would get along like a house on fire! A metal… on electricity?” Jerry facepalmed. “Ah, шell, what can you dσ.”

The djinni clapped.

“I’m sure you’ll all love this nε

The djinni clapped.

“I’m suгe ұou’ll all lºve thi§ ne

The djїnni clapqed.





Ix grabbed another Nutribar from his sadly-dwindled stash.

“Uh, just the one, I thought. Why?”

“Because there’s another one now. …Maybe you should just get over here.”


“Oh! Hello, Lucky Seven! When-”

Ah, just Seven, if you don’t mind.

“Very well; Seven. When did you get here? You sound different.”

“It can talk, too? Wait, you know each other?”

We are… acquainted, yes. You are?

“I, uh… Sydra. I work here.”

“He’s a Researcher. He does research stuff.”

Fascinating. I don’t suppose-

A shout sounded just outside. Sydra looked up in surprise before bolting to the door, skidding to a halt and slamming the release. He saw Ix first, sitting on the ground and looking very ill but otherwise unharmed.

He saw Ix second, sprawled dead on the ground, peppered with vaguely familiar metallic shrapnel.

The researchers looked at each other, then at the body, then at each other again.

Ix threw up.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

The Hedonist did a spit take.

It was quite a spit take, too, considering that, at the time, he was drinking sex-flavoured million-year-old wine from the finest vineyards in the universe. Under any other circumstances, there was no chance- absolutely none- that The Hedonist would’ve spit that wine. It was fucking sex-flavoured.

But this. This. This deserved a spit take of this magnitude. A second battle? Consisting of an entirely gender-swapped cast of his championship? It was too good to be true! Imagine all the make-out possibilities, the romantic self-dinners! The hedonistic potential was too great to miss out on! He would claim this second battle for himself. He already had so many plans.

The hedonist floated up from his throne made of a thousand undulating women, and generated a scrying panel from midair. Oh, there they were, Caiolinn and Gaurinne and Etiyra and Gabrielle, those glorious female bodies, so sleek and feminine and sexy. He just had to have them, they would be his, forever his…

Tenderly, he made sweeping motion across the surface of the screen. With his power, he would bring them here, and they would experience the power of an eternity of ecstasy. He would bring them into his universe, and they would be his playthings, completely dominated by his presence, his power! Yes, he would bring them, here and now!

And at that exact same moment, another hedonist, one more curvaceous, one more jiggly, tried to do the exact same thing.

And for a moment, the multiverse rumbled as a million universes collided into each other.



The two Gabes in two realities pointed their Etyirs at the gender-flipped Calieans and Gaurinns, which the two Etiyrs promptly clacked at.


And then they collided with genderflipped versions of themselves that suddenly decided to occupy the same space as them.

Needless to say, when Captain Theophilus Mandragan XII, the Scourge of Orion then decided to descend upon the unsuspecting contestants immediately afterward, and when he had finished his long-winded introduction and paid enough attention to actually give a damn about his surroundings, he was confronted with a mess of bodies, tangled and arranged in rather… compromising positions.

And for once in his life Theophilus Mandragan XII was
more interested in sex than he was in plunder.

And all the while, the silent scream of a paradox grass holocaust filled the forest, rumbling earth and time and mind.


The Hedonist had a migraine. What the fuck just happened?

His female counterpart in the room was thinking the exact same thing.

They simultaneously lifted themselves off the gold plated floor, and confusedly looked around the room, all the while muttering, “What the fuck?” over and over and over.

And then they looked at each other, right in the eyes. The sound of jaws dropping to the floor would be heard for miles if not for the fact that they were both incorporeal.

“What?” they both said. “No. Fuck fucking no, I’m the only freaking hedonist. You’re a fucking imposter!

They took the next moment to awkwardly point at each other accusingly for a few seconds. The silence was deafening.

At this point The Tormentor kicked down the Hedonists’ front door, much to their horror.

“My Ent-wood gold-plated door! Why would damage such a priceless-”

“I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR DOOR YOU IGNORANT PIG!” he said. The grandmaster was covered in smeared lipstick and dried blood. For once, his creepy, composed demeanor had completely evaporated. “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO. TELL ME NOW. TELL ME NOW.”

“I-we- um, well there was a, and um…” The Male Hedonist nervously mumbled, which was soon finished by his female counterpart. “We wanted each other’s contestants.”

“Well, great. Juuuust great,” The Tormentor grumbled. “Because I’ll be honest and say that you caused one hell of a clusterfuck. Especially considering-”

“OHHHH TORMENTOR,” a rather feminine voice echoed from outside the hall.

“-fuck. How did she find me? Right, she’s me. Of course she would know where I went. Ok, fuck. Do you have anywhere I can hide?”

“You kicked down my Ent-wood door,” was the unanimous reply.

The Tormentor’s "unanimous reply" was a fucking middle finger, dammit. And then within an instant the grandmaster’s composure had resolidified, if not a little too quickly.

“There you are!”

The Tormentrix leaded against the exquisitely crafted door frame, fondling it like it was a stripper’s pole, or one of the giant golden dicktrees of Libidica 9. Her voice sounded like a too-young hooker, and considering her appearance consisted of blood, tentacles, and a fuckton of lipstick, she looked like one too. All in all, she was a horrible, terrible monstrosity everyone feared to behold.

It’s not that surprising, therefore, she was massively turned on by a horrible, terrible monstrosity like the Tormentor.

“Hello, dear,” The Tormentor said, a big, creepy smile on his face. You could tell it took all of his effort to not recoil in revulsion. “We’re going to get everything sorted out very soon. The Hedonists here will help me- won’t you, Hedonists?”

You could practically hear them nodding frantically.

“Good. Now, we’re going to-”

“Come on,” the Tormentrix said, rolling her eyes, “Don’t you want to have a little more fun?”

Suddenly the tentacles surrounding her were suddenly all holding about a thousand knives each. You could just barely- barely- see the tormentor twitch.

“Yeah, uh, not right now. We can have one more little ordeal as soon as we get this all fixed up.”

“Alright, alright, whatever.”

The thousand thousand knives disappeared, and any other man in the universe would have breathed the most colossal sigh of relief in the world. The Tormentor cleared his throat.

“Alright, so, everyone. Obviously there’s been quite a mix up, and we’re gonna need to fix it before one of the big wigs like The Fool find out and try to get us evaporated or something stupid like that. But just once -just this once, dear god- , we’re gonna need to work together. Because if anyone finds about this- ANY of this- you’re going to wish you got evaporated. I’ll make sure of it.”

Silence. After a few moments, The Tormentor clapped his hands together, and a thousand glasses appeared on his thousand eyes.

“Alright then. From the calculations I’ve made, the entire multiverse hasn’t been affected with this -I’m making a term up because this has never happened before- Torment-event, but a few of the neighboring grandmasters may have been afflicted. This includes me, obviously, The Charlatan, who hasn’t noticed because all the gender-bender energy was scooped up by one of his contestants, and The Spectator, who might actually have an idea on how to reverse this because really I have no idea where to start.”

The Tormentor clapped again, and the spectacles went away.

“So, obviously, what we have to do,” he said with a smile. “Is call her up. Or, should I say, call him up?”


The Convolution was so pleased with this turn of events. So many males and females in one place, already all tangled up as if in the throes of that constant passion. It was so easy, oh so easy, to just nudge them in the right direction. Really, it was a lot of fun. One of the wackiest orgies it had ever experienced. And boy, did The Convolution love wacky.

It saved a few lines and actions that it wanted to remember or try to cause again with future iterations. Things like
“Oh my god, this is my first time, and I’m doing it with myself. and “HOLY FUCK HOW ON EARTH DO YOU DO THAT WITH A TYPEWRITER.” The Convolution particularly treasured “Um, c-could you make a… well, a dildo. Out of your hand. Please.”

Man, it was great. But The Convolution decided it would be best if it left, it had other things to do, and it didn’t particularly want to be there when they got back to their senses.

Besides, The Convolution would always be with them now. Deep down, in their hearts.







Somehow, it simultaneously surprised and failed to surprise everyone in the room that it was Male Spectator that answered the call. And let me tell you, he was gorgeous.

His empty eye sockets were framed with a pair of luxurious, thick-rimmed glasses that accentuated his chiseled features. A goatee- long, but not too long- adorned his manly chin like a badass crown. He dared not wear a shirt to cover his attractive, rippling muscles, so fine, so majestic.

He was swearing skinny jeans, and oh my gosh, they were the tightest, sexiest, fuckin’ amazing pair of skinny jeans that eyes could possibly behold. It was almost if his skin was made of denim, every detail of his powerful legs revealed, his massive, erect penis visible, if not for the tangle of ever changing hair that obscured such a sight not meant for Mankind. He made rhythmic pelvic trusts into the tangled mess, and you could a muffled “oooh, yes, oh god yes, ” inside of it.

“Hello, Spectator,” The Tormentor replied, his toothy grin not skipping a beat. “It seems as though you’re already aware of our… situation.”

There was a long pause before The Male Spectator replied. All the while in this dead time, he was thrusting his hips, over and over, to the beat of the Nnn Tzz Nnn Tzz thumping in the background.

Finally, he replied.

“You know,” he said. “I didn’t expect my female counterpart to be into bondage as much as she is. Ah well. Live and let life, I guess.”

The Tormentor was quick on the reply. “I suppose, but if you could, Spectator, we need your help-”

“Please don’t interrupt me when I’m talking,” he said with a shrug. He thrust into his female counterpart even harder for emphasis. “I don’t enjoy it.”


“Anyway, yeah, I know why you called me, and yeah, I know how to fix this problem. I’m fucking awesome like that. But no, I’m not going to help you right now.”


“Don’t fucking interrupt me.” A muffled groan came from offscreen.

“Anyway,” he said, giving The Tormentreix a seductive wink all the while, “I’m going to help you… eventually. First, I want to go fuck some more people. Maybe The Fool? She always came off as sort of homosexual, y’know? I can finally get some action with, well, him, I guess.”

“If the others find out about this, they’re going to kill us all.”

“Is that a threat?” The Male Spectator collected a single drop of sweat that had appeared on his brow and drank it. He drank it like a man. “’Cuz I’m sort of in the mood for a fight, y’know?”

“I could totally beat you in a match. I can just see your skin peeling off,” The Tormentor replied with his ever-present grin. “But no, I’m not particularly interested right now. Maybe later.”

“I thought so.”

Another long silence. More pelvic thrusts. More Groaning.

“Anyway,” he continued. “This is what I’m gonna do. When your fuckin jungletimes timechaos round is over, I’m gonna help you out of this mess. Nothing happens between grand battle rounds, anyway.”

“In the meantime, I think I’ll go see how many Grandmasters I can put on my dick at once. Cya.”


The Hedonists stared at the screen for a long while, before voicing a word that pretty much summed up the conversation altogether.


Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

My battle’s going fine, by the way,” the Fool growled.

The Spectator—er, the male one—ignored him.
”You have beautiful eyes,” was all he said, reaching a hand out and tugging on the Fool’s jingly hat.

The Grandmaster formerly known as Arnold Fogge slapped the probing hand away. “No, no, I really want to stress this. For my first round, I literally put my contestants in a universe of pure, unfiltered chaos. And that went fine, because I put even the slightest bit of thought into what I was doing. And I’m the Fool! Putting thought into things isn’t even supposed to be my deal. You’re the Spectator. You’d think that that would give you a little foresight. But no, you’re the sort of Spectator one finds at monster truck rallies, it’s just ‘Vroom! Vroom! and you clap and squeal and pay eight dollars for beer in a plastic cup and do it again next week. How does the Director make this look easy?”

The Spectator was beginning to come around to the inevitability that he wasn’t getting any at the end of this conversation. He frowned.
”Sounds like someone’s acting out of character. Come, my dove, let’s do something foolish together.”

Hearing the word “dove” in the masculine voice was as offputting as most anything else the former Gentleman had experienced in the immeasurable span of his existence. He showed the Spectator the back of his hand. “You just made me break my rule against hitting girls,” the Fool chided. “And trust me, you are a girl. Actually, I’m going to make this a lot easier on myself.”

The Fool grabbed the Spectator by the arm and dragged him through some plasticity of his domain that might be described as a black curtain. They arrived in an identical room, but the female Spectator was there as well. “Oh, for Our sake,” groaned the season’s organizer. “Put on some clothes.”

The lady Spectator’s first attempt to comply with the Fool’s demand involved crudely slapping her hands over some private areas; after a few seconds she remembered she had limitless powers and quite a lot of hair, and employed these resources to engineer something a little more modest.
”What’s he doing here, my falcon?” she asked her male counterpart.

“Don’t respond,” Fool ordered the male Spectator. “Let’s not make this more confusing for anyone.”

”Don’t silence him,” snapped the female one. ”You’ve no right to be angry. This sort of thing is the reason we started our engagements in the first place. To see the multiverse with fresh eyes. To experiment with our gifts of omni-what-have-you. To use death to revel in life—both the lives that we lead and the lives that they lead, which are not to be conflated—and inevitably to emerge with a new social order that--I’m sorry, did you say something? From a comparative standpoint, I have a shortage of ears.”

The Fool had not said anything. He had thought a good many things, but had the feeling that vocalizing them would not be helpful at this time. “Alright,” he said, after a pause. “We’re off the see the Hedonists. You--” he indicated the male Spectator—“Are staying behind. No buts, no ifs, and especially no ands or ors.”

The Spectator sulked and sat still while his lady-self and the Fool disappeared behind the curtain. He tried to ascertain the reason why he had the only female version not to be completely identical to himself. He’d even managed to catch a glance at her battle for a bit; whatever she had going on was completely different than his Vaginal Dickfest.

* * * * *

”Sithembil! Status update on the brainplague?”

“Mmmm. Mmmmmm! Infection levels at—mmmmf—at 99.7%, Admiral.”

“Ah.” Well, that would explain why she wasn’t wearing any clothes. And why Sithembil was a male all of a sudden. And why a male version of herself was having a completely identical conversation with a female version of Sithembil.

Reports were flowing in of massive structural damage, a population at 180% capacity, and good times all around. Itzel wasn’t reading them, of course. She had… other things occupying her time.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, in a relative location that might technically be described as the other side of space-(time-cubed), the Fool sat in judgment on two fat lards of whom he didn’t feel particularly fond at the moment. He could not for the life of him tell which was the male and which the female. The Spectator sat in a corner, sulking.

There was a question he was afraid to ask, but it was tickling at the back of his immense consciousness (“brain” would have been a misnomer, here) and he had to get it out of the way. “You haven’t had sex with each other, have you?”

”Oh, God no.”

Ugh, Jesus.”

”Why would you even—“

”How would that even—“

”Definitely not. Well, not yet.

”I see.” The Fool sighed, clutching his scepter like a security blanket. “You didn’t just notice anything odd about your voice? A discoloration? A fold?”

The two Hedonists looked at each other and shrugged.
”Nah,” one offered.

“Your own damn character,” snarled the Fool. “This is pathetic. If this were to happen in, say, the last round, I mean, sure, it happens. You let a couple characters loose in your domain, some stuff gets knocked over, maybe you get murdered, such is life. But this is the second round! And while the rest of us are just kicking back and enjoying the show at this point, you actually let one of your contestants inside of your heads. That is—“

”Wait, wait, wait,” interrupted one of the Hedonists. ”Are you saying we let Etiyra do her manipulate-y thing on us? That’s absurd.”

”Where do you get off telling us what to do anyway? You’re just into Grandmastering as a status symbol! We battle from the heart.”

”I give up,” said the Fool. “Just get off your asses. We’re going to see the Tormentors. And if you don’t feel like going with me, I’ll go myself, and tell them they can do whatever they want with you.”

That seemed to get their attention. Two monstrous bodies lifted themselves into an ambulatory position and, along with the Spectator, wandered off into the absence of a direction.

* * * * *

It’s pretty hard to distinguish two concurrently whirling masses of metal from one larger mass of whirling metal. It would be the voice that tipped you off, a disjointed stereo like a dubstep remix of a song that was already electronic-sounding enough to begin with. The percussion was provided by two nearly-identical clacking noises emanating from the two typewriters caught up in the magnetic maelstrom.

Nobody was paying enough attention to see two sheets of paper simultaneously fall out of their respective typewriters and fall to the ground together. One, as you might expect, read:

It is indeed a strange world, especially when taken out of context.

* * * * *

”You know, when I—aaaaaaaaaagh—when I tipped you off to the existence of this multiverse, I was hoping you would go and torment—huuuuuuurk—someone other than me.”

The Tormentrix carved infinity signs into the shadowy void of her male counterpart’s form, slashing red imperfections into the purity of its blackness. ”Well then you must not know us very well,” she giggled. ”Suicide is so much more fun when it’s someone else.”

”Excuse me, but what are you doing to my Tormentor?” The Spectator cast her closest approximation of a hateful glare upon the Tormentrix, who noticed that her new Spire was suddenly a lot more crowded.

The Tormentrix pouted.
”Oh, don’t act all high-and-mighty,” she hissed. ”He's getting off on this. Masochism is mostly a guy thing, you wouldn't understand.”

“Help... me...”

“Shut up. Oh, fine.”
The Tormentrix got up and unshackled the Tormentor, allowing him to get up and begin turning his powers towards physical and psychological reconstruction. ”Clearly the numbers are against me here. But I need something to occupy my time until Spexy fixes the multiverse and I’m allowed to get back to the Jiggly Jamboree.”

”Um, your battle’s called the Relentless Slaughter,” corrected the Hedonist that the Fool vaguely recognized as the female one (mostly from the voice).

”That’s not what Spexy called it. Where’d you put him, anyway? Not this bitch—“ she waved a hand non-committally at the Spectator present— ”I want my own Spectator here. He’s better in these diplomatic situations.”

He’s already here,” noted the female Spectator. ”He just thinks he can hide from me.”

With that, the male Spectator allowed the rest of the Grandmasters to see him, looking the very picture of chagrin. “I told you to stay put!” yelled the Fool.

The Spectator shrugged.
”I just had to follow the song in my heart,” he said, as though that explained or excused anything. ”Today it’s Hall & Oates.” He then broke into song: ”Priiiiiivate eyes,” (here he clapped once to the beat) ”They’re waaaaatching you!” (clap clap) ”They see your eeeeveryyyy moooooooove. Priiiiva--”

”That’s quite enough of that.” The Fool stamped his scepter on the ground in an omnipotent sort of way, which seemed sufficient to shut everybody up. “Male Gaze, I needed you anyway.”

”Haha! Male Gaze. I like that that’s clever,” interjected the entity that the Fool had just decided to nickname “the Shedonist.”

”Quiet, you. Now, you’re all very seriously ill. I’m going to need to reach into one of your heads. Any volunteers?”

”Noses,” called the Hedonist, touching a pudgy finger to his nose. The Shedonist followed suit, as did the Male Gaze. Tormentrix forgot she was holding a knife and accidentally cut her face open; the Tormentor, still in the process of regrowing his fingers, panicked and touched his foot to his nose. The Spectator, unsure of what was going on, tried to put a hand to her face but lost it within a fold of hair. ”Looks like Spectator loses,” said the Hedonist, smugly. ”Use her head.”

The Fool didn’t have the time to argue with his colleague’s methods, and the Spectator’s head seemed as good as any. He walked over to her and thrust a hand into the mass of her hair.

It was like sticking your hand into the entire ocean at once. He felt innumerable sensations, senses that one normally associates with organs not found on hands (or on humans, for that matter). He felt cold. He saw shooting stars. He felt pain. He felt a whole lot of hair. He felt pleasure. He felt numb. He could taste the Spectator’s thoughts (she was annoyed, it turned out, that he was in her head).

He grasped onto something, like a thread. He pulled.

The Fool’s hand emerged holding the end of something violet. The Spectator cried out in pain and clutched the amorphous shape of her head as though beset by a sudden migraine. The Fool ignored her pain and pulled harder.

As the purple thread spooled out of the Spectator’s hair, the other Grandmasters and Grandmistresses began to feel the pull as well, grimacing in agony. The Fool ignored them all, and kept pulling.

When the Convolution finally came free, it resolved itself into a sort of purple cloud of void flecked with yellow stars. The Fool held it in the space between its hands, not touching it directly. “Funny,” he said. “Physicalized like this, it looks a lot like one of the Observer’s contestants.”

The others were beginning to come to.
”I’m sorry, did I—oh. Oh dear,” said the Spectator, violently redshifting in a poor approximation of a blush.

That hurt in a really boring, uninspired way,” complained the Tormentrix.

”Wait a minute,” demanded the Hedonist. ”Is that my Convolution?”

The Fool shook his head and said, “No. Your Convolution’s busy turning your battle into an orgy.” He pointed at the Shedonist. “It’s her Convolution. And someone in this room deliberately infected us with it.”

* * * * *

Bethany Smith-Barlow found herself lying next to a male version of herself. He had a mustache that was considered very popular both in his own time and in the 1970s. His name was Bartholomew.

“Ew,” said Bethany and Bartholemew, completely in sync. “Get away from me, you filthy human.”

And they scrambled away. It was not the sort of encounter in which anybody learns a valuable lesson.

* * * * *

”None of you really knew what this thing is, did you?” asked the Fool, in a way that suggested that this was the beginning of a lengthy and uninteresting monologue. “I did my research, of course. That’s one thing the Director taught me well. Back then it was one Gentleman, one contestant. An entire entity devoted towards finding one contestant to enter your battle, and of course you needed to know everything, everything about your entity, so there would be no surprises. Fool that I am, I do my research. On your battles, as well as mine. So there will be no surprises.

“You call it the Convolution. That’s as good a name as any. The Greeks called it logos, though, of course, the Greeks called everything logos, it was their Word of choice. Hegel called it the Negative, which the textbooks tend to clarify as antithesis. He believed there were several iterations of the Negative throughout history, each of which eventually died by being assimilated into the discourse as a whole. One of my own contestants once built a gun that could fire it at people, which he called an Anarchronic Emission Ray. He believed, quite incorrectly, that he had invented it. Marx didn’t have a name for it, but he spent his life waiting for it to take over the civilized world.

“I think this thing has caused us enough trouble.” The Fool took the writing purple mass in his hand and dashed it against the wall with a cracking noise like a whip; it convulsed and burst apart into a garish yellow.

”That was my contestant,” barked the Shedonist.

”You have no right to complain, with all the damage you’ve caused. Your battle can move on to the next round, but once we get you back to your own multiverse, it can at least continue. But as for you two!” He pointed his scepter at Male Gaze and the Tormentrix. “You’ve done far more than that.”

”Oh, come on,” spat the Tormentrix. ”You knew the whole time? You could have saved us the speech.”

”Leave Trixie out of this,” added the Male Gaze, trying for once to sound noble. ”She was just the distraction. The plan was mine.”

”Plan to what?” retorted the Fool. “To get your rocks off?”

”No, no, no. The plan was to get that one pregnant.” He pointed a finger at the Spectator.

There was a moment of silence.

There were several more moments of silence.

There was a veritable eternity of sil—
”To get me what?

“To get you knocked up, did I stutter?”
Male Gaze did his best Kanye shrug and turned back to the Fool. ”Look, I don’t want to get into a whole lecture on omni-level sex magic, but the idea was to create a new Unborn, one under my control and Trixie’s.”

The Spectator’s hair lashed out in all directions, a fountain of hirsute wroth. ”It didn’t... work, did it?” she asked.

Male Gaze turned his shades down sheepishly.
”No, it didn’t. Doing it with yourself is… it’s weird, and I didn’t… I couldn’t finish. So I made the stupid mistake of going to see you, hoping I could… I dunno.”

”You didn’t finish?” asked Spectator. ”But… you—“

“Faked it.”

“You faked it? But… I faked it!”

“You were faking it? But—“

“Well I was growing bored and, I, I was infected with that ghastly Convolution and--”

”Guys! This is all pretty unproductive. The important thing is, you played your hand, you lost, and I don’t have to deal with you anymore. Tormentor?”

”My pleasure.” The Tormentor approached his female counterpart with two carving knives and slashed off both of her impressive mammaries in one clean movement.

Tormentrix screamed. The Male Gaze roared in patriarchal indignation and charged at Tormentor, only to find himself held back by ropes of hair.
”Sorry, dove,” giggled the Spectator, ”If it’s any consolation, what happens next is going to restore the better part of my misplaced dignity.”

Then the two co-conspirators were gone, leaving behind only mingled screams, a pair of sunglasses, and two still-jiggling breasts. Their surviving counterparts picked up their respective souvenirs contemplatively. ”These are going right up on the mantle,” commented the Tormentor.

The Shedonist realized she was in the position of “survivor girl” and ought to act tactfully if she had any hope of getting back to her home multiverse alive. Still, she had to open her mouth.
”Um. If I’m to go back to my own multiverse with my characters, I’ll need to get your Convolution out of them.”

That’s virtually impossible without killing the Convolution itself, which I won’t allow,”
asserted the Hedonist. ”No, I think I can offer a more elegant solution. Follow me to my round, if you will.”

Sitting at the top of a tree in the Kestalvian rainforest was what appeared to be a common lemur. “Appeared to be a common lemur” being an applicable phrase only to one who doesn’t bother to look down and see its tail. The black-and-white striped appendage extended about a mile, coiling around the tree all the way down its length and then spilling out over the rainforest, swatting at anything that tried to eat it in a lazy whipping motion.

At the end of its tail, the five Grandmasters gathered round. The Hedonist picked up the tail in one hand.
”This,” he said cheerfully, ”Is the Paradox Lemur. It’s the easy way to cut this whole Convolution problem off at the source. The source being the previous hour or so.

“Every hour of its life, the lemur’s tail grows another ring. The entirety of its life is contained within its tail. Cut off a ring, you cut off the hour. Tormentor, you’re the cutter around here, would you like to do the honors?”

The Tormentor already had a pair of pruning shears in hand. He smiled wickedly.

Because the pain sensors in its tailwere so very far away from its brain, it took the lemur over a minute to yelp.

* * * * *

"No, I don't want to ficky-ficky with you, you sick chimp—“


”Make not a move, ye bilge rats, or ye’ll be walking the plank off of time itself--”


At which point the poor typewriter found itself picked up by the marching band’s conductor and swept off into the march. This did not please it, nor did it surprise it very much. What surprised Etiyr was when the primate belted out, in a soulful and distinctly human voice, “DO WATCHA WAAAAAANNAAAAA!”

The trumpets exploded into a violently cheerful crescendo.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

The time lemur cried in pain. Pain pain pain the pain of a blow upon time, in the head, resounding. Such a blow, upon her breast, upon her heart. People kept prying and prodding and punching her like it was some kind of indestructible force, an immutable, unthinking entity.

But no. Time is a maiden. A delicate maiden. And everyone seemed to be in the mood to punch her in the face. And if you punch a delicate maiden in the face, what does she do?

She punches back. Hard.

The time lemur screamed in pain louder and louder, it echoed through the forests, bouncing of the paradox ferns and the time oaks, the chronos sycamores and the timeline pines. The wailing was a song of mourning, the mourning of and end and a beginning and a transition. It was the funeral cry, the sound of a single mourner sobbing for the dead. Pain pain pain pain infinite in every level of time down to the atomic level down to levels incomprehensible and irresistible.

You could practically see Lady Time as the lemur’s screams grew to a crescendo, higher than the highest noise, so loud that it could melt eardrums. Her hands were imperceptibly visible as she wrapped her dovelike hands around its neck.


Blood spilled from the throat, along with silence.

And this blood, this silence, was what finally awoke The Beast.


Despite the apparent constant chaos that exists within the Kestalvian Rainforest, the ecosystem has a variety of stable systems that react and adjust to changes within four dimensions. The spatiality and malleability of time apparent on the planet complicates these systems, to such a degree to be incomprehensible to the tradition way of human thought.

This is, at least, is what is theorized about Kestalvia. Little research has been done on the planet, and no missions have been planned within the foreseeable future due to the tragic failure of Expedition 1. Some information was gleaned from garbled transmissions, however, mostly the musings of Junior Researcher Ix "Ixxy" Zeman. From the messages, various conclusions about Kestalvia and Expedition 1 have been drawn.

The most poignant, moving, and informative piece of information acquired from Expedition 1, however, is the musings of Zeman’s with in what is presumably the last moments of his life:

Zeman: So I’ve been thinking, right? Everything’s gone to hell and screwy as fuck and I have no idea what’s real or not anymore. I’ve been staring at a dead version of myself for how knows how long, now, and outside two different balls of metal are floating outside. And one of them thinks he’s a LUMBERJACK. But it’s not like reality is falling apart. The rainforest is still here, the animals are still here- trust me, I just heard one of the loudest fucking organism scream I’ve ever heard, ever- and even though the paradox grass almost completely died, I’m looking at it, and it’s COMING BACK. Despite what whatever wacky things we or those robots or whatever did out there, it won’t kill Kestalvian. It won’t ruin it. Things will correct themselves, eventually. There’s another, dead, version of me because of a paradox, so the rainforest solved the problem and balanced itself out.

[A long pause. A clattering can be heard in the distance, along with someone yelling “Shut up!”]

Zeman: Sorry about that. There was a, um, problem. One of the floating robot things, the one that isn’t a lumberjack, um. They’re reading some kind of massive anomaly, sweeping right this way. It kind of confirms the point I was thinking about.

Ecosystems don’t just correct for problems within itself, it actively tries to eliminate them. And the thing is, WE are the problem. So, the thing I can’t help thinking about is, if, well…

[The sound fingers tapping on wood. Zeman clears his throat.]

Zeman: What if Kestalvia tries to eliminate

[An explosion is in the distance. A hastily yelled “Fuck!” echoes in the static.]

[Transmission End.]

Coinciding with the end of the transmissions were the highest time-energy levels ever given off by Kestalvia in recorded history. Other readings suggest massive earthquakes happened over the surface of the planet, along with increased volcanic activity. It has also been confirmed that the axis of Kestalvia shifted 6 degrees around the time these transmissions. It can only be assumed that the events Zeman theorized about in these last moments was an apocalyptic shift within the planet’s ecosystem and climate, and that it was this shift that ultimately caused Expedition 1 to fail.

-Excerpt from Kestalvia: Theories and Questions.


“Fuck. You. Fuck you, Convolution.”

The monkey marching band did not pay much heed to the typewriter. It was an interesting item, something to hung up on a mantle somewhere because it was interesting. They didn’t know I was sentient, nor did they particularly care. They were too busy playing songs from The Protomen.

The one who had built their society into what it was, an empire of artistic and sexual prosperity, in a few brief hours, was very interested in what Etiyr had to say.


“If there ever was a time/If there ever was a chance/ To undo the things I've done/ and wash these bloodstains from my hands/ It has passed and been forgotten/
These are the paths that we must take/” was it’s reply, out of order and slipped into the song. Etiyr knew it was talking to him, now. He knew.


“Listen to yourself, then listen carefully to me/ If you replace the working parts, you get a different machine/ The man who turns the wheels, they will follow/ Anywhere he leads/”


“Man would cower at the sight/ Man was not built for such a height/ They've waited so long for this day/ There is no price they wouldn't pay/ For someone else to lead them/”


“We've spent our whole lives searching/ For a way to make a better world/”

“What, you think you’re HELPING them? What you’re doing is unnatural. Maybe you’ve built some kind of advanced society but deep down you’re destroying them. MUTILATING THEM. And there’s something that I know, that you’ve probably encountered over your years of fucking with reality.”

An unnerving scream echoed in the distance. A few of the monkeys nervously looked into the distance.

“And it’s this: That anything unnatural, any abomination like you, will be met with resistance. The forces of nature are designed so that it tries to completely eradicate disgusting things like you completely. If I’m not mistaken, rainforests are REAL big on balance. And you throw everything out of whack.”

A rumble, far in the distance, like thunder. A lot more of the chimps began to look nervous. Very nervous.

“So, y’know, I don’t even need to kill you, really. Your own fucking existence will destroy you, eventually. And I know you can hear it, the sound of order, the sound of balance, and, perhaps even worse for you, the sound of moderation. Always marching, marching to destroy you.”

The earth began to rumble beneath their feet, the sound of a wind like fire. At this, the former marching band panicked, dropped everything, including Etiyr, and scurried the hell out of there. But the way the purple and yellow trees swayed in the wind, like a couple embracing, told him that The Convolution was still there. Listening.

“And, Convolution, I think it’s finally catching up to you.”

More silence. Slowly, the wind dissipated, and the trees, ever so slowly, wilted. The Convolution left. It certainly had others things to attend to, now.

And in the distance, the hand of a beast reach out of the mountain, into the infinite sky.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Adenreagen.

Ever since she had stumbled into the grove ten minutes and five months ago, she had had to protect herself by teaching the primitive apes everything she knew about music. At first it was easy, they only had the basics of rhythm down and she had been able to teach them the varying percussion instruments she knew, but they learned faster than she had hoped thanks to Convie. Within several weeks of her arrival they had fashioned instruments of their own and had – quite clearly – threatened to kill her if she didn’t teach them how to play. In order to keep them occupied, she had begun teaching them different music styles once they mastered scales and moved on to marching once they had mastered those. She was safe in teaching them how to march since she could always come up with different formations but they always wanted more from her, keeping her up for days at a time until they started blending together. When they did let her sleep, she was kept awake by her hair trying to strangle her every time she dozed off for more than five minutes. If she thought she was tired by the beginning of the battle, the Kestalvian had changed that to exhaustion.


In the last hour, things had gone from hopeless to strange. As Elli had rounded a bend in their path, she had managed to run into a man leading his own band of primates. She never got his name, but knew that they were almost completely identical, except for a few minor differences like hair length and that he was a he. He also played a saxophone instead of a trombone like she did, but from the moment they ran into each other she knew him as much as if he were an extension of herself. As he offered her a hand up, and she turned it down while dusting herself off, their eyes met. She saw that he looked tired, probably as tired as she felt, but that the apes around them had probably kept him awake as well. She also saw the darkness gathered there, a sure sign that he had been to realms other than this one. Their captors gathered around them, growing angrier by the minute at being interrupted from their wondrous displays of marching prowess.

“I can’t do this anymore” They said at the same time “I just want to rest without being killed, or threatened or choked. I want things the way they were. Just me and leader,” Elli went on. Her counterpart eyed her quizzically, “I was just about to say the same thing, but I’m the leader in my case.” They both looked around at the now furious apes headed towards them.

“There’s only one thing Convie likes more than radical ideas and violence,” Her counterpart said. “If we want to make it out of this we’ll have to- mmph!”

Elli had grabbed him by the neck and dragged his mouth down to hers, giving him the most passionate kiss she could; the sort of kiss she had wanted to share with Leader but doubted she ever would. The sort of kiss that the Convolution would want to watch and stop the apes from killing them in order to see. From his response he probably had the same unrequited-love angst with his sidekick and figured, much as she had: hey, leader and sidekick. Who cares that it’s not mine when I’m about to be killed.

As they stood there with their arms wrapped around each other, the shadow strand in Elli’s hair tried to use the distraction to wrap itself around her neck, but was stopped and tangled with an identical strand. The convolution rubbed its metaphorical hands together at managing to get yet another parallel universe hookup started. What it didn’t know was that it was not the doing of his influence, but more an act of two desperate people who wanted to take a short break from the tiring hell that had become the reality of their recent life. As the apes hooted and communicated with numerous waves to those behind who couldn’t see, Elli started undressing while her counterpart did the same.

Zippers. It’s always zippers with this guy. It’s like he wants… hell, he DOES want us to be able to get out of our clothes as fast as possible. She looked at the man who’s shirt she was pulling off. If he is who I think he is, he wants this as much as I do, but he’ll think it’s just as wrong. If Convie knew we weren’t doing this for his benefit, but for ours, he’d probably step in and just twist everything. “Please,” she said when he turned back to her and they had lain on the ground, “take this very, very slowly, it’ll probably be the only chance we have to rest from what they’ve been putting us through.”

“I know, I don’t want us to go through with this if we can help it,” he muttered in her ear under the pretext of saying “sweet nothings”, “but if it comes to it, you and I both know that we’re going to have to.” He started kissing her neck and caressing her, doing what he could to put off the inevitable.

This was by far the most interesting couple he had arranged so far. Not interesting like “oh, how interesting” like the miniature orgy that was Cailean, Caiolinn, Gaurinn and Gaurinne, which was an interesting combination of pain and pleasure. Watching the centipedes shock each other, while the humans knew not only what the other wanted, but intimately knew what each other felt (Who knew that the four of them were all into S&M).Or “how the hell are they even doing that” like Etiyr and Etiyra were, something involving a lot of dirty talk and ink ribbons being exchanged. No, the musical couple was more of a “they’re different from the others” interesting. All the couples had thrown themselves at each other in a frenzy of passion and fucking with only the slightest push, while the same influence with this couple had a reaction that was more one of timidity and romance.

It was a remarkable show of self restraint that was for sure. The amount of foreplay they were putting in was almost more obscene than outright DOING IT. From what he had gleaned from Elli’s thoughts during the stint with Old Greg, and from both of them currently, they both had their own original love interests from before the battle, and were treating each other how they had wanted to act with whoever “Leader” and “Sidekick” were. He watched from hundreds of eyes at the pair on the ground, knowing that the time was soon coming from how hard each of them were breathing.

“I’m sorry” he began.
Wait, “sorry”? There was nothing for him to be sorry about. From what he could see, he was definitely up to standards and able to perform. And he didn’t mean on stage. He sat up straighter in the minds of the apes, wondering what there was to be sorry for.

“I don’t see how we can put this off any longer, they’re starting to look impatient.”
Put it off? Put it off! He felt around their heads and realized he hadn’t put as much effort into this pairing as he thought. They had been playing him! Him! They had tried to play a player, and now they were going to suffer for it.

“I know, but I don’t care anymore. You’ve given me everything I thought I wanted from him. Everything I wanted from my first, you’ve done. I’m feeling much better now thanks to this. You’re perfect, just go for it, it’s what we both want.”

Hold on now, what this? The charade is over, they’ve been found out and they’re going ahead anyway? Well then, as long as they get on with it, he’ll get his show from the apes and all will be peaches-and-sex with him. Something she said caught on his ears though: “…from my first.” She’s a VIRGIN! Which means he is too! Oh, Elli. Elli, Elli, Elli. If only he had known, he could have done so much for her many times over by now. It probably wouldn’t have taken much too. A few more advances, a nudge in the right direction… Another opportunity lost for control.

Just as the deed was about to be done, the scream of the Time Lemur cut through the Kestalvian.


Elli was at the head of the marching band, leading them around a bend in the jungle and shut her eyes as she braced herself for impact. Opening them to reveal an empty path, she wondered at what she did, and why she was breathing so hard a felt so...different. She also felt a little less exhausted than she did a moment ago, now hovering closer to “in danger of collapsing,” but figured her condition was due to something that had happened in the forest. As she thought this, a scream split the air and was abruptly cut off, followed by a low rumble in the distance.

Speaking of things happening in the forest.

At the tremor some of the apes around her began to look nervous, breaking formation and missing notes that they should easily have gotten. As it intensified to the point where they could feel it instead of just hear it, the apes in the band panicked, dropping everything and getting the hell out of Dodge. Looking around and seeing that all the apes had apparently abandoned their dreams of championship in the jungle-wide marching competition, Elimine collapsed to the ground, sobbing. She ripped the purple and yellow drum major helmet off her head, removing the direct link the Convolution had set up with her and reclaiming her own thoughts. She wasn’t sobbing in anguish at the loss of the band, no, that wasn’t it. They were tears of joy at finally being free.

It had seemed like ages since she had had a chance to rest, and even longer since she hadn’t been surrounded by the Convolution and his lackeys. She just wanted a chance at getting out of this fucked up time-forest, to fight someone she knew she had a definite chance of winning against, someone that she knew was evil and knew how to kill them. How could she fight an idea when she didn’t fully understand how it worked, but figured worrying and thinking about him wasn’t the way to kill him, but how would she fight him if he was able to get so many followers was she supposed to kill them all or join them to fight form the inside or what. Christ I’m so tired, I’ll just cry for another minute. Just one more and I’ll be done. And one more…

She might have gone on crying if a giant purple and yellow tree hadn’t collapsed in front of her, drawing attention to the whole idea of being in a deadly time-jungle surrounded by convoluted apes with an earthquake happening in the background.

“Ugh.” Elli wiped at her eyes. “I really need to get out of here before Convie sends them back or something else happens.” Throwing down the stick-melon conductor baton that Bethany had given her months ago that was apparently called an “Asante Sana” – apparently given as a thank you gift between primates, even prisoners – and un-strapping her trombone from her back, she called out. “Cat!" *sniff* God Dammit stop crying, eyes. "I know you’re close! Get out here right now!” Silence. “I’m not joking mister! NOW!” A rustle and a frightened squawk from a nest of prism toucans later Elli’s cat came out from the bushes next to the marching path. “Well it’s about time. Where were you the last five months? I know they threatened me, and by extension you, but you didn’t have to hide away. You could have gone around killing them when they slept! Or ate their food, or…or… something!” The cat only tilted its head quizzically at her.

“Fine. You know what, just, fine. I can’t stay mad at you. Let’s get out of here.”

The cat draped itself over her shoulders as Elli tried to figure out where she should go.

I don’t really know my way around anywhere besides the village, and there’s no way in hell I’m going back there. Whatever that earthquake was it probably wasn’t good, either. Should I head towards it and find out, or run away and live? Hmmm… Eh, I haven’t gone this far in my career by running away from things. She vaulted over the dead convolutree and started heading towards where she thought it came from. What could’ve caused that, anyway? Plate tectonics? In this place I hardly think that’s the case. Maybe some sort of massive time-shift or some other time animal having a fit or… Etiyr?

She hadn’t gone far from the tree before she heard the familiar sound of the typewriter’s clacking and spotted him on the ground. There were several discarded pages around him, so he was obviously angry at something.

She picked him up and was about to say something when she realized that he was still yelling about whatever and hadn’t even noticed her.

“Yea you better run, mind whore. When I find someone and they get their hands on you, ohhh you’ll be sorry then. In fact, whatever it is that’s coming is probably here just for you, so I probably can just sit back and watch the show while it erases you from existence. Know what I’ll do then? I’ll just laugh at you. LAUGH. A nice laugh the likes of which this rainforest has never heard. That’ll show you. .. Damn where is everyone? I’m sick of this shit people! SICK OF IT! I just want someone competent to pick me up…”


“…drop me, or lose me, or have me taken by singing monkeys…”



“Etiyr, geez, chill the fuck out already.”

“YOU. I should have known it would be you. It figures that of all the other people in this contest, I’m picked up by the one incompetent who-“

“Don’t even start, Etiyr. I’m half the people who can both carry you without hurting you and actually read what you write. So don’t sass me or I’ll leave you here with the apes.”

Fuck. Fuckity fuckity fuck shit stacks. It pissed him off to no end when someone was right and it wasn’t him. He spat out his current paper. “Of course not, Elli. I’m just upset at being left here on the ground again. It’s not your fault you dropped me. In fact I was wondering if you were going to be the one who found me again. Let’s just get out of here.” He wanted her to move. They were way too visible in this clearing and he needed to rebuild his influence with her if he was going to have her go about killing anyone.

“Damn right it’s not my fault. It took a round change for me to drop your heavy ass.” Without really thinking about it, she started walking towards the cover of the trees.
(Success!) “Now, last I saw you Gabe was carrying you like a lover. Where is he?”

“The hell should I know? I was just telling him my amazing plan to kill that Mind Whore Extraordinaire when I was grabbed by an ape marching band playing jazz like some Louisiana bayou group. Where the hell were you when everything happened?”

“I was leading that band. They made me teach them how to play, or should I say Convie made me teach them. Now. Again. Where is Gabe? What did you do with him?”

“I DON’T FUCKING KNOW! I WAS APE-NAPPED! LAST I SAW We were… Know what, just keep going the way you are, you should run into some of the others soon, and maybe Gabe will be with them.”

Elli sped up, excited at seeing someone besides the typewriter she was carrying. It had been months, for her, since she had seen any of the other contestants and she was sick of manipulators. Even though she was supposed to be fighting them, she missed them. Cail’s vacant formality, Gaurinn’s attitude, AMP’s endless curiousity. And she still didn’t know who was dead.