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 Lord Paradise.

Sunlight insinuated itself, snapping seven eyes shut against the glare. The coat of a million possibilities had a thread loose, and when the monster picked at it, it stung her. Ill omen. Can’t go back to sleep. Work to do. Tick tock.

(Why didn’t the clock like her new clothes? Cause they were secondhand.) Focus. Work.

Home was falling down around her, revealing an outside swirling with paradox. Something was shrieking distantly. Sunlight and bioluminescence exposed her collections to the brightness. Bits of her collection woke up and started walking away, and other items remembered that they had never existed at all. Nearly everything was lost. She would have to start over.

There was a storm coming overhead—the monster could feel the winds through four-dimensional Eustachian tubes. It was a hurricane with seven eyes, her equal and opposite. Tick tick tock. She unfocused her eyes and then focused them again, keying one eye in to each eye of the time-storm.

Her first two eyes drew her to an odd primate woman (the word human chimed through the monster’s head like a cuckoo, tock tick) carrying a sentient-looking communicative contraption. Two eyes. Trouble. Tick two trouble tock type.

There was a new patch in her coat. Vague half-memories of ticking egg timers and a masculine mirror, minute handjobs and no morning after. More time tampering, but in this instance, maybe for the best.

Tock tickticktickticktick ding two more eyes settled on a couple of more anomalies nearby. The first was just another human, who didn’t seem to amount to much. The second made the monster pop a blood vessel in her eye for the duality of the thing. Man and centipede, tockity talk tick. Power about this one. A fellow traveler? Something about that centipede made her uneasy. The monster rang a bell in her head and made a pirate attack them. She could do stuff like that whenwhenwhenever she wanted. Or maybe the storm had done it. Either way her head hurt now, though that might just be the sunlight.

Her fifth and sixth eyes didn’t have to look as far. Two metal amalgams, like manifestations of order and chaos. Other humans with them, too, but unimportant. Time hurt, here. The storm raged and the trees bent temporally against the wind, growing and shrinking and flowering and wilting, tocktickticktocktockticktictkicoktkciotkcitokcclang. The forest didn’t know what season it was anymore. Rusty gears grinding. Focus. So much clockwork to do and so little time. Seven eyes.

The monster’s seventh eye tried to look at
too much at once and exploded. Ignoring the pain, she dabbed at the blood with her (second)hand. Squeak grind tock tock. Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Empty Eye Socket Saturday. Hmm. She would need stitches, in time. This called for direct intervention.


And a hand emerged, short but authoritative, the symbolic hour hand. Send not to know for whom the bell tolls; the clock’s ticking, I just count the hours / I didn’t mince words, I said to her myself,


* * * * *

”Stand back, Gabe!” shouted Cailean, suddenly regaining confidence and sobriety. Pirates were pirates in any time or place, and they tended to make themselves recognizable. And he did not want to have to mercy-kill Gabe.

The pirate laughed, holstering his musket. “Quite the anomaly ye lot are, eh, son? Let’s not make this more painful than it has to be; I’ll just take yer arm and be done.”

Absurdly, Cailean found himself asking, “Which arm?”

Gaurinn kept a better head. Slightly. “What do you want me for?”

“The biomass I can do with or without,” responded Captain Mandragan. “Ye’ve got a time machine hidden in there somewhere, and I doubt I’ll be able to remove it while yer still attached to t’other one. My cutlass will make a short undoing of whatever circumstance put ye together, and compared to what I could do with my Chronovolver otherwise, it’ll be downright pleasant. Now, stand down, or the logic of keepin’ ye alive will escape me.”

“Like hell,” said Gaurinn, firing a bolt of lightning at the pirate.

The electricity was absorbed harmlessly into the barrel of the Chronovolver. Mandragon laughed mirthlessly. “I’ll give ye that one fer free,” he said. “This isn’t a fight ye’re going to w—ack!” That last sound was owing to the nail that had lodged itself in the captain’s thigh. Gabe stood smugly behind Cailean, a nail gun attached to the end of his wrist. “Argh, ‘swhat I get for showin’ mercy. Die!” Mandragan ran a hand across the cylinder of the Chronovolver, setting it spinning with an ominous ticktockticktockticktockticktock sound, and Gaurinn panicked. While Cailean hurled their body out of the way, the centipede did something he had been afraid to try since Quantos’ death--he charged up some electricity and ran it through himself.

There was a sound like an operating system loading up.

Cailean was, owing to the absurdity of recent events, none too shocked to land some feet away from where he’d initially meant to roll. It would seem this was because the universe didn’t want him to occupy the same space as the five other Caileans and Gaurinns that now had the pirate flanked. He and the other Caileans all decided it would be a good idea to raise their knives threateningly.



“Pirate,” said three Gaurinns.



The sixth Gaurinn, not having been allotted a word in that sentence, merely growled and crackled a little.

The pirate was unperturbed. “Har! Sonny, I’ve been hit broadside by wave functions taller’n the boughs of yonder tree! The Chronovolver’ll collapse ye all! Observe!”

Mandragan pulled the trigger and his arm became momentarily very hard to look at, because it was aiming in six different trajectories at once. TicktockticktockticktockticktockticktockBANG and six bullets shot out right at the eyes of six different Caileans.

When the smoke cleared there was only one Cailean lying on the forest floor. Or rather, about ninety percent of one.

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

It was a tragic fact that Cailean Lachlan was not familiar with the principles of quantum mechanics.

The number of things he wasn’t familiar with in general was astounding, relative to the overall knowledge of the current population of the Kelstavian forest. Basic math and reading were well beyond his limited grasp of the world, likewise heliocentric theories of revolution and any philosophy past “being dead is probably bad”. The few things he had any sort of expertise in were tended to revolve around knowing which end of a weapon was the one you put into people. He’s just a poor boy from a poor family, someone might have said. You can’t expect too much.

The things he might have thought about as he lay dying were simple. “I don’t like this” was a probable one; “finally” was another. He wasn’t a complicated man, our Cailean. Death was not a concept that held any particular significance for him except that it seemed like something to be avoided. If he were to think about it any deeper than that he would likely start to question that assumption, so it was just as well that he didn’t. The gunshot that killed him did it instantly. He didn’t think about anything at all.

Over the next few hours scavengers came to feed on his body, as tends to happen in a healthy ecosystem. His remaining eye was one of the first things to go, followed shortly by his major internal organs. The rest was torn apart and scattered throughout the nearby undergrowth. That time itself was collapsing while all of this was happening was largely irrelevant: the sounds of gears grinding backwards until they broke down from the strain was ignored by the animals that scurried through the brush, their skins peeling off and on and off again as skeletons peeped out from underneath. Trees grew tall and died in milliseconds, over and over in the same spot until they were choked with the clutter of their own corpses. Half the forest conferred with itself and decided that “Don’tdown was the new up and everything should be underground forever. That’s what I heard, anyway. A monster’s coat had a tear in it; all the thread she had was pinkFeed an open ring though four closed rings, then close it. Pink is the wrong color for everything.

The existence of multiple Times is not something that should happen/
should be explained. “Someone mistookIf you were to take a book and switch its pages all around every st
ory is wrong every verse is back that way on another page you’r
going the wron
Turn to PAGE 52follow thedirections

metalwasn’t fully melted and didn’t get in the moldchased a newspaper at the bookstall.Then, Invert the head and repe a t the last step

he must stay his hand.”


Back up.

Some people aren’t lucky enough to die.


It was true that Cailean’s death came instantly, but it’s also true that there is a line between “alive” and “dead because half of your brain is no longer inside your skull”. When those two lines cross is anyone’s guess. Not mine, definitely. But things change when you’re a goddess, huh? Here she comes now.

He didn’t need to be told that she’d stopped time (cap.? –ed) because that’s just the kind of thing you know when you’re in that awkward twilight between life and death. He was thinking with the brain he didn’t have that this wasn’t really something he wanted to happen right now. He didn’t like her very much. She was kind of a bitch. He’d be happier if she left and found somewhere else entirely to put her awful feathery tits.

She didn’t think very highly of him either, he could tell that much. It’s a little bit weird when deities swear (to who? God?) but looking at his shattered skull she was cursing every inch of him for being such a complete failure. He gathered that he was pretty good at failing things from the way she was talking, but he also had a feeling that all his memories were in the other part of his brain and didn’t know how to check. When he tried to remember, all that came up was a picture of a horse.

The featherbitch was gearing up for something else now. He could tell by the way all the Time in the area was starting to warp around her like a big green net caught on some terrible bird-shaped rocks. How long had he been able to see Time? Probably forever. That kind of made sense. Didn’t this seem awfully familiar? Hadn’t he done this all before? He couldn’t remember. Now is such a good time to start over. Make a new life for yourself. Burn your bridges if you have any. Don’t you agree?, he asked her. Doesn’t that make so much sense?

She didn’t hear him, and Cailean figured it was because he mostly didn’t have a jaw.
(If none of the pages in your book match, why try to read the story? You’ll only get confused.)

He knew with the certainty that dead men have about these kinds of things that this was going to end badly.

Turn to PAGE 17. You are DEAD.


What Gaurinn experienced during this ordeal was something like his lower half falling asleep, except that instead of his body it was a man’s spine and that man was dead. The centipede died just as quickly, of course. The only difference was that when Time came screeching to a halt he still had a brain to think with.

He saw a ten foot tall bird-woman appear out of nowhere and berate Cailean for a number of things in an accent that didn’t seem entirely genuine, and he felt the feeling shoot back into his extremities as she tried to reverse of flow of life from their body. Or bodies, if they were still trying to pretend they were different people. Gaurinn wasn’t really sure he saw the point. It felt like dying in reverse, and there’s really not many other ways to put that.

If she’d bothered to ask he could have told her that the time energies that surrounded them were too tangled to interfere with. Trying to heal Cailean triggered the collapse of every possible outcome of the situation at once: simplified, success and failure. He was dead, he should have been dead, but he was and he wasn’t and in the best of all possible worlds he was simultaneously both. One man died, another one lived, but you didn’t know which until you opened the box.

Cailean didn’t understand quantum mechanics. He didn’t understand much of anything anymore except that if you took the time to look at things the right way, there wasn’t a man alive who wasn’t dying.

It wasn’t the first time Theophilus Mandragan the Twelfth had seen a man get back up after being shot, but it was the first time he saw someone do it missing most of their head.

He would have been hard-pressed to describe the exact nature of the thing that had taken the place of the man he thought he’d killed. It had the shape of man, roughly, but bits of it were flickering in and out like a mistuned television and a corpse was steadily taking their place. It was nauseating to watch but something about the way its skeletal hands were trying to pat the flesh back onto each other kept him from turning away. A recognizable face only seemed to exist half the time; in the other half it was occupied by a smashed skull trying to reconstruct itself from nothing in particular. A single green eye turned sadly on the teeth falling out of its rotting jaw before it vanished, leaving a dark socket that melted into a thin stream of bone. The neck twitched; turned towards him, he saw the jaws open wide-

The next bullet caught it straight between where its eyes should have been. Mandragan breathed a sigh of relief as it staggered and fell to one knee, a long pale bone flashing where a living man would have had a leg. It shook once; a high whistling sound came from its gaping throat and then it was up again, mismatched hands held outstretched to the pirate like a beggar’s, pleading and pleading.

Mandragan stumbled backwards over the forest floor as it broke into a run, its single eye glittering above of a face full of broken teeth. He heard its bones creaking and snapping as they shattered and realigned over and over again, ignoring the bullets that smashed into its chest; he saw its hand reaching almost tenderly for his face and its teeth coming down towards his neck, felt the rush of air against his skin from a ruptured windpipe and then, quite shortly after, he failed to feel much of anything at all.

Like a slap to the face, that’s what it was, and you should never hit a lady.

The mountain hand ticked ticked ticked on, if time was a book with the pages all switched then this was the index marking the chapters as they turned. The numbers in the sky were there if you looked for them, 1 7 6 2 9 10 13 13 13 13 13 13 but the hand was creeping on and there wasn’t time, there wasn’t time for that at all. Twenty minutes to midnight but moving in reverse. Where do you go at three in the morning when the hour of the wolf is here? It was always wolves with her. There they go now.

Twenty minutes to midnight. Set your watches, gentlemen.

There really aren’t any social conventions for how to deal with your other half being debatably undead.

Gaurinn found himself pondering this as he watched Cailean’s teeth having an argument with Mandragan’s throat. Some of the patches on him looked like they were settling down, which was nice. At least some of his ribs weren’t showing anymore, and one side of his face was more or less back to normal. Gaurinn decided not to address the other side just yet. His stomach wasn’t as settled as he’d have preferred.

“Cail,” he said, “Are…”

The noise he got back in response was the sort of sound you might hear from a small mammal going through a meat grinder.

“Right,” Gaurinn said.


The crew of the Timefucker was hardly unused to the sight of violence, but they drew the line at having a dead man get up and start eating their captain. It just wasn’t natural and it was very distressing to their communal peace of mind. They couldn’t be blamed for wanting to evacuate as fast as their temporal displacement fields could move them, and they could be blamed even less for not knowing that due to the already unstable nature of Time that a certain guardian entity would be extremely irritated at this interruption and tear their personal timelines completely out of the continuum. None of them had ever existed, but due to the high concentration of various paradox flora in the area everyone was convinced they had. The anomaly went largely unnoticed, because by this point there wasn’t really anyone left who cared.


Back on the ground and in the present, an entity who was for all intents and purposes a quantum-challenged zombie remembered how to use his vocal cords.

“Ggggggg,” he started, and pushed the broken half of his jaw back in place. A small piece of pirate fell from the hole in his throat. “Gghhhh. Ghhauuriinnnnuh?

The centipede arm patted the nearest non-bleeding part of Cailean he could reach. “You’re, uh, you’re talking now. That’s a step up for you.”

“I’mmmm. Iiiiiiiiihhhhmmmm…”

“Spit it out already. Oh jesus god no, not that, put that back right now.”

Cailean shrugged. His shoulder joint explored its current options for location. “Mnngghh. Hhhh. Hhhhhh? Hhhhhhii. Iiiiimmmmm. Iiiii’mmmssssss.”

“Maybe you should try talking again when you have a tongue.”

The dead man turned to him and smiled with the bleeding half of his face, the empty socket staring blankly. He did, in fact, have a tongue. It had just happened to be down his throat prior to that time. “I’mmsoooo happpyyy, Ghhhggaurrrriin.” He held up a skeletal hand. A single brown eye rolled around on it aimlessly. “Iiii’mm sooooo haaaappppyyyyyyyy.”

He ate it. He was so excited that Gaurinn didn’t have the heart to stop him.

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

She would have laughed, if she had a sense of humour, or indeed anything resembling vocal cords. As it was, she tickTOCKrumbled to signal her pleasure. Her former mountain-home crumbled a little more, clumps of dirt whizzing about, stacking up and falling down as time reversed - went on - changed - looped around. The minute hand of possibility whirled out of control, blurring and whirling and spinning in place going nowhere and everywhere at once, all the pasts and futures -

It was all so different...

She could see the track of TIME IT'S TIME as it flowed across the Kestalvian. Rivers had sprung up and changed course and there is no water here, only rock; trees grew forwardsbackwardsupwardsdownwardssidewaysloopingback as the mountains crumbled and grew, little bumps in the swirling turning clockwork ticktockthreads and gears.

She rumbled again, and the time is now... could-be would-be futures coalesced and became more certain. There, see a cluster of three: the man with the unsure hand, the temporally-energetic soldier zipping to and fro, fused to the accidental time traveller. Move a little closer now, kcotkcitkcotkcit.

It was all different, yes, but no less beautiful for it. Her home. Her home.

HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME for things to be fixed, things to be changed. Seven here who should not be here. Not yet/now/ever/before the grains of time trickled down, one at a time through the hourglass. She might have to flip it over. Remove the things not here, put them back where they belong;

The ground shuddered with her first step in a <longshort> time.

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 veerserif.

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


You are confronted by some sort of Mobile Temporal Anomaly! You’re not sure where it came from, but your best guess is that it’s the rare and dangerous creature your host mentioned. Or, the figure inside the anomaly is, at any rate. It’s hard to make out through the quantum haze, but seems to be at least partly mechanical. That accounts for the ticking of clockwork that seems to follow the Anomaly, at least. Doesn't make much sense to you, but then not much in this forest has.

Several readings have spiked off the charts. You don’t actually know what these readings mean, but the ship will inform – ah, there it goes. The specifics don’t matter too much (Itzel has tried before to convince you otherwise), but the gist of the matter is that the Anomaly is highly unstable, and contact with it is not at all advisable.

Trust advanced technology to tell you the obvious.

The Anomaly is approaching rather quickly. While the safely of the ship is of utmost importance, you also have some tagalongs to protect. You sigh, hoping Itzel hurries up with that speech. You’d forgotten how tiring running this ship is.

What do you do?

> Ditch these deadweights. The safety of VII and its passengers trumps all other concerns. (<font color="#33CC99">AMP has died. Itzel is furious with you. Skip ahead to Chapter 3.

> Try to destroy the Anomaly. You’ll eliminate a threat to the ship and your companions, and be able to test out some of Terrence’s new weapon designs. (The Anomaly is stronger than you expected. You’ve stalled its advance, but not by much. Turn to page 9.)

> Study the Anomaly. It might give you a clue as to how to better control time and escape this blasted contest. (Turns out unstable space-time fields and precisely calibrated singularity engines don’t mix well. Turn to page 17.)</font>



You are dead.


This time it’s just from accelerated aging, so you manage to keep your innards in. ...Mostly. Note to self: do not approach the Tesseract.

It’s probably not a real tesseract, leastways not in the traditional sense – “Tesseract” just seems an appropriate name for it. Like someone threw a bunch of transparent swirly blue cubes into a blender, but the blender is made of the swirly cubes inside it – hang on, wasn’t this thing on an episode of Trek? You swear you saw this in a Trek episode.

Sy’s telling you to shut up and focus. Heheh, did you say that out loud? Whoops.

Anyway, that metal ball thing – the solid one; Seven, you think? – seems to be shooting some kind of energy at the Tessssssssss

<font color="#33CC99">...

Oh, for the love of...

> Wait, where’s the rest of this page? (VII moved slightly, so you get to do the time warp again. Jump fifteen minutes to the left and step right into the middle of running away on page 23.)</font>


“Why is it always me dying? Why none of you?

Ix ducked under a low-hanging branch and walked right into carefully danced around a vicious-looking carnivorous tree.

“See? See?! It keeps happening!”

Sydra shrugged, fiddling with his handheld scanner. “Calm down, Ix. You’re still alive, aren’t you?”

“Well maybe one of me is, but I can’t help but think that maybe I won’t shed a clone or whatever the fuck I’m -”

Sydra punched Ix in the face.


“Calm down, Ix, you’re perfectly fine. Bruised, sure, but...” The chronologist frowned, fingers still flitting over the keys on his chronometer. “...Actually, your temporal signature is spiking periodically. Curious.”

“Didn’t we...” AMP looked about as confused as a giant swirling shrapnel maelstrom could manage. “Is this... déjà vu? Is that was this is? Because I swear we just had this conversation.”

Throughout their flight, AMP had been quizzing Sydra about a variety of seemingly mundane topics, which Ix found rather bothersome. This time, however, the machine sounded worried, rather than curious.
“No, no, I’m sure we haven’t.”

“We definitely have. I don’t know what a ‘Chronospatial Convergence Bacon’ is – that had to have come from you.”

The chronologist muttered “beacon” under his breath and hurriedly returned to his scanner. Ix, as he was wont to do, spat an expletive and started complaining about Flying Psychic Junkyards, what was next, some kind of bullshit time-traveling zombie cyborg with... I don’t know, what goes good with zombies? Some kind of giant worm for an aw for fuck’s sake I didn’t mean it

Sydra vaulted over a fallen tree, saw Cailean, and vaulted back the other way, for once of his own volition and not chronillogical shenaniganery. His scanner, caught between the space/time vortex that VII generated and the collapsed waveform occupying Cailean, decided that it couldn’t take this shit anymore and melted its own insides.
Cailean decided that following its lead was a wonderful idea, but changed his mind halfway through. Ix only gagged this time, but then his stomach didn’t have much to give anymore. AMP, not yet having developed a concept of “oh crap it’s a hideous monster, everyone hide,” rolled right out into the clearing.

“Hey, guys! Long time no see! What’d I miss?”

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

It's raining again. It's been raining hard for a while now.

The clouds are hanging, heavy and expectant, in the sky as she makes her way through the rainforest, vegetation snapping with ticktock sounds. The rain dances above her hide, caught in an endless fallingrisingfallingrising loop.

The clouds will go where she goes. The first drops hit her, and rise back up.

If she opens her eyes, she can see each of them, the seven interlopers.


Gabe stayed back. Gabe was, in fact, very good at staying back. Staying further back when bits of pirate began to drop out of Cailean's not-quite-almost jaw was really just child's play.

"I'm soooo happy..."

There was an eyeball dangling obscenely from Cailean's skeletal fingers. Gabe thought he might never forget the wet slurp of the soldier enjoying his meal.

Cailean turned to face him. A manic grin was plastered on his face, eye sockets dripping.. Gaurinn twisted, trying to pull Cailean away.

"Move, dammit!"

The soldier took one lumbering step towards Gabe. Almost without thinking, his arm started to twist and change. His clenched fist fused, becoming more massive, and Gabe held it out in front of him protectively.


She is sweeping through, spindly hindlegs splayed out in twelves to help balance her. The snarls in the temporal fabric of the Kestalvian would-were-are meeting, all seven converging on a swathe of smooth time. She could remember how she would do it, and the certainty removed doubts.


The furious clacking of Etiyr's keys were nearly enough to drown out the rustling around them as the chimpanzee marching band approached. Elli's cat braced near her feet, back arched and hissing. Undeterred, the chimps advanced, gaudy purple and yellow clashing horribly with the greens and browns of the forest around them. In the center of the advancing line stood Bethany. She craned her neck to look at the sky while the rest of the band moved closer.

"It's going to rain." She looked back at Elli. Her cat coiled up to settle on her shoulder, moving like smoke. Bethany gestured at the largest chimpanzee, dressed in a fetching purple jacket with yellow tassels, fitted to his body. <font color="#33cc99">"Alpha-He-Who-Declines-The-Nipple has decided they - we - have learned all that we can from you."

Was that sadness or resignation in her voice? Elli tightened her grip on both Etiyr and her trombone.</font>

"What are you... Ah. Get us out of here, now."
Another step forward. Gaurinn was throwing electricity at the former soldier now, causing Cailean's muscles to twitch and spasm as the bolts hit them. It gave his lumbering walk a twisting, shuddering motion, a puppet on a broken frame. His mouth opened in smiling anticipation.

Gabe turned and ran back into the dense jungle, Cailean dragging a reluctant Gaurinn along with him. As he ran, Gabe could feel the first fat drops of rain hit his head.

Chimpanzees, when they want to, can be quite intimidating. The impromptu marching band closed in, fangs bared and miniature brass instruments raised in various threatening positions.

A many-limbed shadow fell across the clearing. As one, the chimpanzees turned to watch it pass. Bethany was the first to move, following its path. After a moment of brief hesitation, Alpha-He-Who-Declines-The-Nipple followed, as did the others. The plants around them sprouted, withered, grew and fell back, forming a clear path. The overall effect was of a curtain of vegetation parting neatly in front of them.

"FOLLOW THE CONVOWHORE NOW." Elli compliantly followed, trombone slung across her back, arm raised to shield her face from the rain that was starting to fall.

Home/time bed/time more/time HURRY PLEASE -

Pause for a while. The rain is drumming on the forest now, and has always been. Trickles of water swell to white rushing rivers, rising, dividing, trapping. All around, the paradox grass sprouts.


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 Pick Yer Poison.

A bubbling cauldron floated across a field as AMP looked on in confusion. The stew inside fell out whenever it rotated upside down, then flowed up to the top of the cauldron and fell back into it, forming some kind of bizarre Klein bottle that really shouldn't have ever existed, and never really would.

AMP asked Database if she had any idea what was going on. Her response was to open her mouth, shake her head, and close it again. He turned to Protocols and was rewarded with a cascade of gruff shouting, none of which really amounted to anything substantial other than "holy fuck."

They weren't really talking about the cauldron, of course. What had them so confused was the inexplicable non-linearity of the timestream, a phrase Database had used before she had become too flabbergasted to speak at all. AMP was glad Database was around; she was smart and knew so many things he didn't. For example, she had informed him that something major that happened in an alternate timeline to kill them - such as the beast with the hard to discern form that had come over the horizon - would still happen, and would need to be prevented if they wanted to, well, not die. AMP put more processing power towards thinking of a way to defeat the monster, but infuriatingly came up with nothing no matter how many times he analyzed the situation.

A baseball bounced off AMP's central lump of metal and was promptly ripped to shreds in his magnetic cloud. He looked over and saw a pitching machine sitting in the field, firing baseballs in his general direction for no apparent reason. A thought sparked in his mind, and he rolled towards the machine. Although pitching machines feel neither pain nor emotion - such a thought would be silly - anyone looking at it at that moment would have agreed that it looked like it was saying its prayers. With high velocity baseballs.

Captain Quirrinal was thinking deeply. Pondering his own existence. The existence of others. The universe. Everything. Or at least he was trying; it was a bit hard to think about deep matters when everything was going wrong constantly.

As if to exemplify this issue, a beeping noise sounded from his desk. He sighed and acknowledged the request to talk. Chief Defensive Coordinator Terrence's voice issued from the speaker. "Captain, we need you in a video conference right now!"

Quirrinal groaned. "Fine! Fine. Put me on." He was immediately surrounded by a number of the higher staff, who he assumed were the ones who were not critically busy at the moment. Terrence's character was at the forefront, larger than the others, indicating he was currently making the important points.

Terrence glanced down and shuffled some virtual notes, clearing his throat. "Captain, we have on record at--"

Quirrinal groaned again. "Please, just use the colloquial timing systems, I'm not in the mood for procedure right now." Chief of Communications Szindle looked at Quirrinal curiously, but remained silent.

Terrence shuffled his notes again nervously before continuing. "Right. Um. There's a bunch'd better see for yourself. Szindle?" The crab clicked his claws once, and a window popped up in the center, rotated differently for every member so all could see. There wasn't much to see, but that was what was notable - it was an ordinary view of the meadow they were floating in, but with a large number of spherical objects blocking their view.

Quirrinal leaned closer to the image. "...what exactly am I looking at here?"

Terrence bobbed about nervously. "That's just it. I'm not exactly sure. I had LeBeau run a search in the archives, but I'm still waiting on a response."

Chief Librarian LeBeau chose that moment to speak up. "As a matter of fact, I just got one. Seems those things we're seeing out there are 'baseballs,' and they're the primary objective of this human game called, well, called baseball."

Quirrinal raised an eyebrow. "Can you elaborate?"

LeBeau opened up a massive page of text and scrolled around until he found a few sections he'd highlighted. "The game takes one baseball - that's what we're looking on the screen there - and a bat. Also, a number of players..."

Szindle clicked his claws. Nobody really noticed.

"...then the 'bases' are arranged in a diamond pattern, as you can see in this picture..."

The clicking became faster and unmistakeably frantic. Everyone still ignored it.

"...and so the batter swings at the ball with the bat as hard as he or she can..."

AMP dumped the empty pitching machine on the ground. Most of it was plastic, anyway; he'd only needed the mechanism. Database was shaking her head in disbelief and Protocols was egging him on. He rolled towards Lucky, who was barely visible behind a layer of orbiting baseballs, picking up speed as he went. Once he reached the beach ball sized planetoid, he quickly picked it up in his magnetic field, sorting it behind the outer layer of metal. It began orbiting around him faster and faster as he accelerated it magnetically, emulating a railgun, with Lucky as the bullet.


"What in the name of--"


Szindle gave the entire video conference a look that could only be interpreted as something along the lines of "fuck each and every one of you with a rake" and quit from the call. He was back again in a couple of moments, after remembering that, as the Chief of Communications, he was able to make everyone quit from the call, which he promptly did out of spite. A bit petty, to be sure, but it made him feel better.

A hole opened in AMP's shrapnel cloud and Lucky shot out, visible only as a blur until it was flying over the horizon. The baseballs were yanked out of Lucky's orbit almost immediately, flying with impressive speed into the forest. Some hit branches and tree limbs and shattered, or broke them and continued; others flew straight through to their unlikely destination, in much the same way that Lucky flew straight and true to its own unlikely destination.

Which just happened to be flying at the face of an abomination without a constant shape that regarded it in much the same as a cat regards the mouse it's about to pounce on and eat.

Much like the rest of the chimpanzees in the marching band, Alpha-He-Who-Declines-The-Nipple was not at all prepared to be hit by a baseball traveling fast enough to knock him unconscious, which meant that the ground was quickly covered with groaning apes, along with a single groaning human who wished she was an ape just a little too hard. The multi-legged shadow paid no heed and didn't bother to slow.

"WHAT. THE FUCK. JUST HAPPENED." Etiyr felt he spoke for everyone right about then. He was, more or less, right.
[Image: zjQ0y.gif][Image: vcGGy.gif]
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

(A brief pause, like the universe took a breath.)

And then the new act began-n-n-n-n-n------

Etiyr shook himself to his senses. Convosucktion was lying in a heap, or at least major arms of the stupid society MK II. This was the time to send a message. This was the time to get revenge.

This was a time for

“Hey, Elli. Are you ready to deal out some…” Etiyr clacked. He paused for a moment, and he very, very carefully chose his next word. <span style="font-family: Courier New">“Justice?”

She paused, looked at the typewriter for a long while. “What, exactly, do you mean?”

God, this girl was so stupid. Just as well she was into the music and thug-beating industry instead of a doctor or something fucking important.

“What I mean,” he replied, <span style="font-family: Courier New">“Is that The Convolution’s cohorts are sitting, knocked out, in front of us. We have an opportunity. An opportunity to punish it for what it’s done for us. To make the convowhore hurt

She p-p-p-PAUSE FAST FORWARD-d-d-d

-death would not take her kindly, as blood spilled from her skull and out onto the field, mixing with the already bloodstained soil, her only tombstone being the forest that came upon her and consumed her flesh almost instantl-y-y-y-y REWINDddddddddd

she PA
USE-d-d-d-d for a moment. Her eyes darted back and forth, between the knocked-out marching band, and the black typewriter in her arms. There was… something sinister about him. Black and white and words and calling it justice. He knew justice would appeal to her.

And he was right. It did. An eternity of punishment from The Convolution’s imprisonment still echoed in her mind, and even though she knew the idea of justice was planted in her mind by that evil, evil thing, she couldn’t help but think that even evil is right, sometimes.

And deep down, she wanted it. Justice. For everything.

She walked into the center of the collapsed, almost seemingly prostrate bodies. It was as if they were bowing to her.

Bowing, waiting to be killed.

Etiyr never even hit the ground. Her movements with the trombone were quick. Swift. Merciful.


The flesh cried, and the life spilled out, red and full, painting the soil red. The marching band, the one she had taught for so long, was consumed by the forest, the decay of days accelerated into a miniscule point. There were only two left, lying among the leaves. They looked like they were sleeping, hand in hand.

Elimine stood over Alpha-He-Who-Declines-The-Nipple. A shadow. A giant.

A Reaper.

She turned to Bethany, oh B-b-b-b-bQUANTOS-eth-anyonehearme?-any. The trombone’s blade was to fall on her too, if not for the typewriter.

“Elli, no. I want to send a message to Convie. Personally. Crack her skull with me.



Elimine, after another pause, hefted up Etiyr with all her might.

]And then he came crashing down, onto the skull, into the skull, breaching the flesh, the grey-matter splattered like a Jackson Pollock.

And she died. (HE DIED, AGAIN)

(Try as she might the beast to change the event, it never would, Bethany’s head would always be crushed by the typewriter, no matter what she did. It always found a way to happen. It was an axis, the single unchanging point in a sea of chaos. Disappointing.

Ah well. Nothing to do.)

And it was thus, death would not take her kindly, as blood spilled from her skull and out onto the field, mixing with the already bloodstained soil, her only tombstone being the forest that came upon her and consumed her flesh almost instantl-y-y-y-y

“C’mon. Let’s go. The Convolution isn’t going to be happy about this. At all.”
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Two: The Kestalvian Rainforest]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note stared at a waterfall that falls upwards, admiring the rightness of it. He flared his nostril and took in the smells of four dimensions: spice-dragonflies trailing pepper flakes as they fly by; the morning dew and dusk-smells of fear and pheremones harmonizing; fresh air blowing in from the east today and the south tomorrow. An ill stink from the future: fire and flesh; death; death. Ominous. Time for a bath.

* * * * *

”…Status report? What the hell?”

The current atmosphere aboard VII was fairly silent, which Itzel took to mean that nobody knew what to say to her, which she didn’t like. Couldn’t she even dart off to make a speech without all hell breaking loose?

“Nothing,” blurted Captain Quirrinal. “No sensory data. Pressure on the hull suggests a vacuum. No response to signals on any frequency. And the clock has stopped. We’re nowhere.”

“More like nowhen,” mused the High Admiral. “Is it possible that one of the contestants died, and we’re just, I don’t know, gearing up for the next stage of the battle?”

“If je anomaly pozhezhsches multiplull iteraschions jroughout je foresht,” pointed out Terrence, “It ij quite possiblull zhat it could have killed one of je ojjer conteshtanch.”

“But that doesn’t line up with our previous experiences with the Hedonist,” riposted Quirrinal. “Occam’s razor: it’s the Tesseract holding us outside time somewhere.”

Itzel hated the feeling of having missed something. “…Tesseract?”

Ninety seconds (from a certain frame of reference) of frustrated half-explanations later, the High Admiral remained displeased. “Why’s it keeping us here? To use as a weapon later?”

“Very literally possible, especially if we’re retaining our forward momentum from before the outside world cut out.”

“Are we?”

“If we’re actually in an endless, lightless vacuum, it’s impossible to tell whether we’re moving or not, because we define space. The wormhole generator isn’t even having a readable effect. It’s just sloughing off energy.”

Itzel rested her brow on the tips of her thumbs, as though her brain would be more efficient if it less comfortable. “Is there any chance the Tesseract will just leave us here for a while? That would be ideal.”

“Je djurazhion of je effect ij a scheriousch conschern. Given zhome yearzh, ve could zhore up defenshesh and maybe develop a vay out of here. Given dayzh, ve vill only accomplisch a lowering of morale and alertnesch.”

“And given minutes, we’re right back where we started. Or worse, somewhere else.”

Hmmmmm,” purred Sithembil, unsolicited.

“Something the matter, Sithembil?”

“Nnnn-nn. On th’contrary, love. Just, according to th'polls, that last speech of yours was rather well-received among demographics previously considered, mmm, sociologically hazardous.”

“You mean the Convolution?” The speech had been alright, Itzel thought, but nothing revolutionary. “So what, it’s decided to support us now?”

“No, no, no, no no no nonono. Centralized authority is anathema to this one. More simply: ‘sdying.”

“Dying?” Something told Itzel this wasn’t going to be the good news it appeared on the surface.

“’Sright, love. This lines up with a recent theory of regarding the meme’s behavior since we’ve entered th’rainforest.”

Itzel sighed. “Fassil, is there anything else I need to be doing before I launch into dealing with this Convolution nonsense?”

“Nothing I can’t take care of, Admiral.”

“Attaboy. Sithembil: private line. Share with me your theory.”

* * * * *

The human girl makes the sweetest music, doesn’t she? She-Likes-Red-Things held her mouth and hands to the woodwind, as she'd been taught. Every song could be remembered as a nonsense rhyme: to play this one one must simply sign “violet-thunder-folds-within-folds-within-daynight-violet-daynight-within-daynight-folds-violet-lifetimes-folds-help-folds-help-where-help-when-violet-folds-help.” Sounds sweet with a hint of fear, confusion, hunger--emotions of the nighttime. Beautiful song. Beautiful human girl. There is happiness here.

* * * * *

”Th’Convolution is, mmm, a lot of moving parts spread over a wide area. It presumably has a base somewhere in th’jungle ‘swell as s’presence in the ship. These two cells have been acting independently of one another, and our hope was that th’sisolation would eventually cause one of th’cells to disappear in favor of th’other.”

Itzel nodded. “So either we don’t have a Convolution to deal with on the ship, or we don’t have a Convolution to deal with in the battle. Is that what’s happening?”

Sithembil shook her head. “No such luck, love. Th’evidence supports that th’infected denizens of poor Lucky are affected by… operant conditions in th’outside.”

“Operant conditions?”

“Non-linear time,” clarified Sithembil. “Everyone aboard the ship is experiencing 1:1 time, whatever th’conditions outside. But fashion trends, pop music, crime rates among th’infected .5% are… not.”

“So, the Convolution itself…”

“S’unstuck in time. Has been th’whole round. One almost feels sorry for it.”

* * * * *

what is happening

Restless-She heard something go crunch as everything went purpley-black. Home run. Run home. Unconscious, the chimpanzee experienced something between nothing and a dream. Velvet-gloved hands in her head signing what-when-where nonsense rhymes violet-folds-help-iloveyou-when-help-iloveyou-help-folds-violet-golden-danger-help. Restless-She would have helped if she could, but here was only black and purple red and blue no green no grass no canopy no nothing only blackness.

She was jolted to awakeness by the sharp, slightly bothersome pain of decapitation. Cognizant just long enough for her eyes to open, the last image impressed on her eyes was that of a beautiful human girl carrying a bladed horn. The part of Restless-She that had ever known love departed. What was left behind was something a little less than a slice of skin off a soul, which was composed mostly of hate, and which lingered for a moment before turning its attention to its remaining moving parts.

* * * * *

”M’initial thought was that th’field of the Convolution functioned as some sort of, forgive me if this metaphor seems a bit grade school, love, some sort of blanket, a fabric, like spacetime or what-have-you. And th’fields of temporality covering th’forest are permeating and stretching this blanket and whipping it about in th'wind like a plastic bag. But if we’re now outside time, th’blanket should have ripped entirely, and we’d see th’brainplague either die off all ‘twonce or split off into two autonomous units.”

“But we haven’t seen that. Instead it’s been dying off slowly.”

“Which doesn’t fit in with any of our models of how ‘tsupposed to function. Unless an outside force is interfering.”

“The anomaly?”

“Th’Tesseract, yes, ‘twas my thought. Suppose th’thing’s sphere of influence is less direct than we’d supposed. Presuming it can’t hurt us directly but can manipulate time however it wishes—“

“Then it would try and get us to kill each other. It would put one of us through a track of time that ended with it murdering another contestant, but so as not to reveal its purpose it would pick the contestant who can’t communicate with us directly—“

“—and, more to th’point, doesn’t have a physical form ‘tall. Not so much as a theoretical blanket that th'other contestants would be able to see blinking in and out of existence.”

“So in that model, where do we and our own little pocket of Convolution fit in?”

* * * * *

It occurred to Bethany all of a sudden that she absolutely hated this woman. Elimine was a pretty little thing in a human sort of way, but she had a look about her that suggested she would, for instance, dash Bethany’s brain against the rock at the slightest provocation.

Maybe it was just envy. In the week since Elli had joined the family, Bethany no longer felt like the special, more highly-evolved one. She now had to share that position with this upstart who, of all the things, was teaching them music. Upsetting, the xenobiologist concluded, the natural order of the rainforest. Bethany had joined the chimpanzees’ culture purely for the purposes of science, and for the sex. To be sure, her motives had since devolved into a complicated web of delicate familial relationships and confused species identities, but she still had the right to distinguish herself from the girl who had no better reasons for being here than petty fear for her own life.

why why why did you do this

Thought Bethany, examining a drumset that had been carved out of tree bark and crocodile hide. Unfortunately, she couldn’t kill Elli—partly because she simply didn’t have it in her, partly because the Alpha wouldn’t be too happy with her—but she could do her best to make the trombonist’s life miserable. Starting, perhaps, by legitimizing Elimine’s fears about what would happen should she try to leave the family. Bethany waved goodbye to Elli and walked off to consult the Alpha.

* * * * *

”It seems likely that th’, mmm, for lack of sufficient synonyms call it th’monster, has gathered that if it can kill one contestant, it can get rid of ‘sall. So when we made contact with it, it decided 'twould be enough to cast us aside.”

“We wouldn’t be the target,” agreed Itzel. “It would go after one of the humans, especially one who’s already interacted with the Convolution.”

“That’s one explanation for why we’re here. Another’s that, were we released back int’ th’ jungle, we could pose a further threat to its aims.”

“And by surgically removing our Convoluted population, it prevents us from contacting the main body of the Convolution through the ship while we’re stuck here.” Itzel gave this some thought. “This is a negotiating tactic by the Tesseract. It’s scared of us, but knows we’re sick and it knows that we’re in real danger. So it’s carrying us to safety and healing us of the Convolution, hoping that we’ll step aside and allow it to kill Gabe or Elli or Cailean…” She shook her head. “This is ridiculous. We’re several postulates deep with no proof of any of this. What do we know?”

“Mmmm. We know th’brainplague isn’t experiencing linear time. We don’t know why. And we know that it’s disappearing from th’ship, but we don’t know why. We know, f’rall intents and purposes, that th’Tesseract has trapped us here, we don’t know why, we don’t know when or if we’ll go back t’regular space. We don’t even know if time is passing on th'outside.”

Itzel nodded. “But we do know that if we talk to what Convolution remains onboard, we can send a message to the Convolution in the rainforest, share our theories and maybe put a stop to some unnecessary violence.”

Sithembil shrugged. “It’s only a handful of lives at stake out there, love. There’s th’ship to think of.”

“I’m thinking of the damn ship!” snapped Itzel. A moment passed, from the admiral’s frame of reference at least. “Look, Sithembil. The Hedonist. The Tesseract. The Convolution. Hell, even AMP. We’re tiny to them right now, and they don’t think much of us. When are we ever going to step up to these things? Are we ever?”

Sithembil smiled, licking her teeth playfully. “’Sfor you t’decide, love. I’m not th’Admiral here.”

* * * * *

He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note smelled blood mingling in the present and the recent past, violent blood, the sort of blood that never fertilizes but only burns the earth. An olfactory cry for vengeance.

Tree to tree to tree to tree, Elimine i understand you why won’t you understand me, He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note found a branch overlooking the piled dead. Elli the music-woman fleeing the scene, carrying some scrap of human technology. The chimpanzee was angry.

He howled. There was no one around to see him sign, but he signed as he howled, fingers flashing obscenities like a piano solo. Had he words to howl, the word he would have howled would have been LIES. He had been lied to. The music-woman had lied to him. Bethany had lied to him. Mother had lied to him when she’d signed Love-Security-Motherhood-Forever, Alpha-He-Declines-the-Nipple had lied to him when he’d signed Peace-Safety-Friendship-Family-Protect, even the songs had lied with their soothing melodies. When the forest was green, that too was a lie. Only his nose had told him the truth, the truth he didn’t want to smell, the truth of blood and tears and dead grass and WAR.

The trees were rustling. He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note had been heard. Black dragonflies were circling in the air, trailing gunpowder and mustard gas, attracted to the blood.

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

Elli saw the creature looming up ahead, time molding around it in a visible haze. Her end-evil mindset told her what she already knew: that thing would kill whatever it wanted, however it wanted if it got the chance, and that made it wrong. Wrong enough for her to fight. She’d gone against worst odds. Holding the bloody typewriter in one arm like a football, she began sprinting to it as fast as she could.

Then she heard the howling.

“Looks like you missed one, and Mindbitch is upset.”

“Yea? Well we’ve got a bigger problem right now, and it’s heading right for us.”

“You would think that, wouldn’t you. The biggest threat to life here hasn’t been us, although you did your fair share back there. It’s the Whorevolution that’s really messed things up. I’d say it’s going for that. We’re just a few specks between them, it’ll probably just pass us by.”

As he said this, two of the massive thing’s seven eyes focused on them, while the other five continued to glance elsewhere, one a ruined purple mess.

“Or not.”

He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note began to chase after them under a species-oriented and mind-directed sense of revenge. Howling during its charge, it didn’t notice the sudden re-emergence of a certain space station.

* * * * *

Their escape was a stroke of luck, the wormhole generator having a little-known emergency protocol.

A light came on Itzel’s comms screen, letting her know that there was a high-priority private call on the line.

“What’s the news Sith?” Her desire for a good word causing her to drop protocol for a second.

“Mmmmm… ‘Ello love, we may have figured a way out of this… limbo th’Tesseract’s put Lucky in. Turns out that th’energy put off by th’wormhole generator had a purpose after all. If th’sensors stop getting information like they ‘ave been, it starts charging an…mmm “emergency jump” shall we say, to the last known co-ordinates where it was getting readings.”

“So we have a way out of here? How long until we’re ready to jump?”

“S’not that simple, love. Th’jump’s been ready since I called you, but there are some things to consider: We don’t know how fast we’re going, or if we’re moving at all. We know where the ship will come out, but with how things are in the foresrt we ‘ave no idea if we’ll come out inside of something and completely atomize it… and possibly the ship. We were speeding through relatively dense foliage when we snared by th’Tesseract.”

“So our new problem isn’t how to get out of here, it’s if we even should.”

“Exactly. There’s still th’Convolution to think of, and what linking the two parts into the same area could do to the infected on board.”

“Alright. If you think of any other cheery news, let me know immediately”

The High Admiral closed the link, thinking of what had to be done. Command was never an easy job, but lately it only ever seemed to be getting harder.

“Quirrinal, I need you to run a simulation for me.”

“Of course, Admiral, what do you need?”

“Based on the last sensory data we received, if we warped back to our last location, what are our chances of being atomized?”

(From a certain perspective, about five minutes passed, but where time had stopped, who knows.)

“I have the figures, Admiral. We figure under optimal conditions we have at best a sixty three point oh seven percent of not coming into contact. But I ran it twice and at worst we have a two percent chance.”

“Bring up the last visual we had, on the big screen.”

A large screen appeared in front of the Admiral, and everyone on the bridge decided to have a look in. There was dense undergrowth on the monitor. It even looked like a two percent chance of not hitting anything.

“Isn’t that a clearing right after the growth? If we can custom program the jump to move us just a few feet North, then we’ll come out onto a grassy field instead of a jungle.”

“You’re talking hundredths of a second of a degree, Captain.” She opened a line with Sithembal, deciding to hope for the time being that they could again be active.

“Any progress?”

“Oh…no love, just been mmmm….tinkering with the generator, trying to learn more about th’function, as t’were.”

“Is there any chance of changing the jump coordinates, even by the smallest bit?”

“Might be, love. Where did you have in mind?”

“I need you to find a way to send us back to where we were, but about ten feet north of where we were pulled out. We looked at the last visual input we received from the externals, and there looks to be a clearing just ahead of where we were. If you can do that, jump us right away. We don’t know how long we’ve been here, and I want us to leave on our terms.”

“’Course. Anything you want.”

* * * * *

There was a brief moment of tension in the air, then He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note saw a giant ball appear out of nowhere, hurtling towards him with deadly speed. In a maneuver that defied his size, he jumped over the ball and snagged it with his hands, slamming them both down to the ground until they skid to a halt at the end the trench they just made. Looking up with a grin, the ape eyed the ball as it resumed hovering.

“Status report, everyone. NOW!”

“Everything’s fine on diagnostics. The shields took a small beating but that’ll recover with time. Otherwise we’ve got pressure readings, frequency signals, the clock’s moving again, so it looks like we made it out!” Captain Quirrinal was so excited that she would have kissed the nearest person, had that not been the Admiral. Instead she did a quick hop for joy and sat back down.

“Th’wormhole generator is offline. Sorry love, but it looks like that emergency jump, not t’mention my…mmm changes means we won’t be using it again for a while. Energy’s completely depleted right now.”

“Je infhecktid of je pupilajon,” began Terrence, “are bejjining to revert to jer orijinal shtatis or dishcontent. I would hypotheshize jhat we vee are now closhe to je shorce of jeir condishionn.”

Szindle was busy clicking away, but the Admiral completely ignored him. Since they were already in a conference call, she reasoned that Comms must still be functional. “Need someone to ignore? Why not Szindle?” Was the popular joke on the bridge, supposedly continuing an ancient joke that stemmed back eons to the approximate dawn of human global communications.

“Quirrinal, bring up the externals, I want to see what we’ve got right now.” Their immediate image was one of a large purple ape, grinning at them and making a multitude of hand gestures, most of which seemed to be obscene. “I guess you were right, Terrence. We’re near the Convolution.”

“Alsho, Admirjal, the infhecktion ish shpreadig, I wjould poschtulate jhat we shend it on itsh way.”

“Very well then. Put us into stationary hover, divert power to rear thrusters and fire them up.”

The ensuing force shot from the strange ball was enough to send He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note back the way he was originally headed. Landing on his feet he used his fear, momentum and indignation to power him away, and his recalled rage to spur him towards the music-woman.

* * * * *

“Why the hell are you still going towards it? I already told you, it’s not after us, it’s after the Convolwhoretion. If you insist on fucking things up again, then at least give me to someone who knows how to actually take care of me so you can go and ruin things on your own. Being with you is just one disaster after the other. ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING???”

“Shut up Etiyr, just shut the fuck up. I’m so sick of you. I’m sick of Convie. I’m just so tired of being manipulated.” I’m just so tired. “Have fun with your lover Gabe or whoever, because I’m not going to cart your heavy ass around anymore when all you do is bitch and moan about getting your way.” She put him down as “gently” as she could, and left him there. She was sick of those two, and Etiyr could just rust away out here for all she cared.

“Bitch, where do you think you’re going!? I’m in control here! I swear to god if you don’t get me out of here…”

Etiyr just went on typing long after Elli put him down. She didn’t know what he said, but she felt like she could make a pretty good guess as to what it was. Drawing her trombone, she began cutting through a wall of vines that had spring up between her and the creature, and kept running.

(It was working. Throwing obstacles in her way was slowing her down so the purple one could catch up. That
sexy ape was going to have its way with her and then it could get rid of the others as it pleased using the same method.)

He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note spotted the human’s strange artifact. It was still making the annoying noises, but nothing seemed to be happening because of them. In a moment of glee, he jumped on top of the typewriter, laid a nice steaming pile on the current sheet of paper, and resumed chasing after the music-woman, hooting with laughter all the way. Oh little Etiyr. She abandoned you too? Now we’re not alone in being left behind. And yet so alone. So very alone. *snrk* Nope, couldn’t keep a straight face.

* * * * *

So many choices from this moment! So many ways for everything to end.


Sithembil was right… in a way. The Tesseract could harm them directly, but there are many indirect means when you control time that are so much simpler. Such as aging trees so they would collapse, or growing grass so quickly at the base while the points remained sharp so they speared anything above them.

The tesseract went back to before their arrival in the rainforest. As they appeared it simply crushed them all the moment they set foot into its jungle. (A happy ending, but SO BORING) REWINDdddddd


...and they had all gathered in a battle array around the beast, preparing to stan-s-s-STOP FAST FORWARD-D-D-D-D-D PLAY -and so the colony named Lucky VII screamed in collective agony as they were erased from time itself, in the end never having existed anywhere but in the mind of their destroyer. (Eh, it could always come bac-c-c-c-k) REWIND.


You are dead.


Ix was getting really tired of this. He tried to count how many times he had died, but he never actually remembered the number and had to guess, seeing as how the version with the count kept dyin-R-R- REWIND.

Chapter 4

Page 108

Page 800Page427Chapter62Page60(NO NO NO NO NO!)REWIND!

Page (number missing)

Pulling out her music book as she ran, Elli started flipping through, looking for something that might be grand enough for what she wanted to do. In the end she discarded it, realizing such a song would have to come from deep within her. Stopping as close to it as she dared, she pulled her trombone off her back and began to play.

“Swan song.” She said, bringing the mouthpiece up to her lips. As she played, she put everything she learned into the piece. She put her memories of home, of Leader, her love and anger into the piece. Darkness began to build up in the horn, looking like the opposite of a gentle glow. She thought of the others in this hopeless battle to the death, of Cail and Gaurinn and Gabe, everyone on Lucky VII, even AMP and Etiyr (specifically leaving Convie out of it, she would never feel sorry for it). She poured her dreams, her mind, her soul into the melody she was playing. To her it was beautiful, to anything listening it was wonderful and terrible at once. It all culminated into what would be an explosion of darkness made to specifically target the Tesseract and save them all.

Of course, close as she was, fate had other plans.

Elli, we could have been great together. Could have done so many things with each other and TO each other, but you just wouldn’t have it, would you? You had to snub me, not once but twice, killing off the friends I make like they’re of so little note. How would you like it?

The Tesseract, one eye focused on her the entire time, suddenly turned the bloody purple one on her as well, watching as He-Is-Not-Of-Much-Note finally caught up to the source of his fury, crushing her body single-handedly while the Tesseract tore at her with unrestrained time. It was the worst thing they could possibly have done.

(And it was thus, death would not take her kindly, as blood spilled from her skull and out onto the field, mixing with the already bloodstained soil, her only tombstone the ---what?)

The energy Elli had built up and focused into a direct attack instead exploded everywhere. Like taking a warhead and hitting it with a hammer, The darkness began to consume everything it touched and, being inside the range of the anomaly, included time. The past of that area, its future, devoured in the same instant. Nothing could ever live on that land again.

The darkness grew and consumed, but when Elli had died, there was only enough time for the contestants to see the sky grow dark and see the rushing wave of nothingness before they were whisked away. Out of danger and out into the void. A purple gorilla suddenly returned to its normal blackish-brown, before turning completely black and crumbling away. A black cat, finally separated from its master, who was getting some long deserved sleep, paused. Surrounded by the darkness it had once lived in, it felt a calmness come over it, but there was also a strong wrongness about it. A need to be somewhere else. The cat melded into the shadows all around it and disappeared.

The beast tried to change the event unfolding, but it couldn’t. Possible pasts and futures were no, no this is wrong devoured as soon as they were thought up. For a creature so used to controlling everything, this sudden loss of any control at all should have been impossible. There was no more control for the Tesseract to have. It was utterly reduced to a condition that made recovery impossible. Once able to control any event it chose, it was now a wisp. Its awesome power reduced to causing a creature to second-guess itself, and then would take centuries to recover. The loss of this control caused many smaller species of the jungle to either overpopulate, or die out completely. Time began to warp from its current state until it finally gave and snapped back into a standard flow of cause to effect. A circle of chaos began to spread throughout the planet, leading to a mass extinction that only those closest to a 1:1 existence would survive. Plants that aged into seeds began to (from a perspective) grow in reverse. Upwards waterfalls (Water-rises?) began to flood the areas as the water again resumed a flow directed by gravity rather than time. Ancient beings in slow-time environments died instantly, while rapidly advancing animal societies (apparently) slowed to a crawl.

(Everything was ruined. Millennia of tailoring a world with as few hiccups as possible had been leading to a paradise that it would now never see, nor would it come to be. It had tried to make it perfect for him, but he had not come soon enough, and now it would never be so.)

The anomalies had left the rainforest, but it didn’t matter anymore. Everything had changed.

* * * * *

They had decided to park the van in an alley off the strip. There were easily ten bars within walking distance, but Leader wasn’t interested in the gigs at the moment, he was busy trying to find his sidekick. She wasn’t in any of them, nor was she in the van, or the alley, or anywhere that he could see.

She’s probably off just blowing some steam, a shame she didn’t invite me along.

He had been meaning to talk to her about their day job for a while now. He didn’t want her to be his sidekick anymore. Not because she did her job poorly, or that it took away from her time with the band, or even that he didn’t like her. The problem was he was starting to like her too much and was constantly worried about what would happen to her, was constantly thinking about her.

As he turned around to head back to the van where the band was waiting, he saw a shadow detach itself from the wall. Ah, there’s her cat. Her own little sidekick. He chuckled at the idea of a string of Leaders and Sidekicks all working together to make the world a little safer. He pulled the spare collar and bell he kept out of his pocket and gave it a shake. The cat immediately came to him, “looking” in his direction. He picked the cat up.

Go home find Leader. Go home find Leader. Find Leader. Find Leader. Leader.Leader.Leader.Leader.

Her voice. Her cat. His head. Something was wrong, and he was overwhelmed at what this could possibly mean.

“Cat, where’s Elli? Is she around here?” A movement of ears that meant the cat had shaken its head “no”. “Is she in trouble?” Again the shake no. “Well then, where is she? Is she gone?” A tilt for yes. “She wouldn’t leave unless there was danger, WHERE IS SHE?” His frustration and panic led him to yell the last answer right into the cats face. And then the cat did something Leader knew it shouldn’t.

It looked at him, truly looked at him. With eyes; eyes it shouldn’t even have. Elli’s eyes.

“Oh, Elli… What happened to you?”


He looked into the cat’s eyes again. Her eyes. “Can you really be in there?”

Leader. Leader. Leader.

He held the cat closer to him as his vision started blurring. She wasn’t in there. Elimine Fraze was gone, all that was left of her was her desire to be by her leader. Her need to be by him. The cat took that bit of her with it when their connection ended, and that was all of Elli that Leader could ever have. He looked into her eyes again and forgot about the gig, the band, and tried to remember every detail about her that he could. Eventually he started telling the cat all of their adventures that he could remember. It would take a while.

* * * * *

It was many years between Expedition 1 and Expedition 2. After the failure of Expedition 1 and the death of all members save Junior Researcher Ix "Ixxy" Zeman* there were many petitions to send a second team to the planet, or at least a probe to observe it. None of them passed until years later when Expedition 2 was finally sent. The recordings and musings of the original crew had led them to prepare for potentially endless possibilities in events and creatures, but they were to be sadly disappointed.

The youngest member, Tech Xodarap, was the most vocal on their expectations.
“We had expected to see some of the creatures detailed in Ixxy’s log, ya know? Instead we were treated to something none of us expected. Normalcy. There were creatures, yes, and plant life, and some remains from things that had lived from that time, but nothing extremely unusual. It was just a standard Class 3 planet: Habitable conditions with no dominant, sentient species. We found the bones of what we assume were the moebius finch, and a large collection of simian bones in a ruin. They looked to have been killed in some sort of ritual sacrifice. Perhaps the end of a race controlled by a cult, but we’ll never really know. Ixxy’s log said they had gone through a rapid shift in the last day from simians in family groups to government and standard city-functions. At one point I discovered a small patch of paradox grass, but it died the moment I approached it. It might have been the last patch on the entire planet.

There were a few other curiosities as well. We located what was left of Expedition 1’s camp. Honestly, there wasn’t much. Some canvas that hadn’t rotted away yet and a patch of new grass in an area that had obviously seen a fire. At one point we found a small desert. Not hot or anything, just a giant ring of black sand that, when you stood in the middle, went from horizon to horizon in every direction. It’s this great blemish on the planet that nothing seems to want to grow in.

(Samples collected later indicated that the giant ring was in fact crystallized ash. The cause remains unknown.)

Everywhere else though, was normal. There were no repeating events, or creatures that used time in any way that we had been told to look for. There were some twice-flipped sloths, or at least I think they were, but it’s kind of hard to tell. It’s like whatever was giving this place its funky space-time deal just up and *pfft* disappeared. We’ll keep looking, and digging, and puzzling, but when you’re looking for time-bending in a place that looks like it always ran on normal time, we’ll probably never find what we came here for.

*Ix Zeman later perished several years later when he became delusional and the memories of his supposed multiple “deaths” led him to believe he was immortal. He wasn’t.

-Excerpt from Kestalvia: Theories and Questions Second Edition.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

The Hedonist scowled at a stack of papers and photographs on his desk, occasionally leaning over to cross out something with a red marker or take a sip from a cocktail of bleach and absinthe. Crumb stood next to him, yawning.

The djinni smiled for a moment. "What about, like, a really big house?"

The man in the lime-green beret shook his head. "Been done, sir."

"Oh." The Hedonist frowned again, and drew an X. "An amusement park?"


"Casino? Volcano? Space station of some kind?"

"All used, the last one twice."

The djinni chewed on the marker. "This is harder than I thought, Crumb. Well, how about an office building? Was there one there?"

Crumb paused for a long while before answering. "...There was, sir. Well, technically, it was the distorted memory of an office building in a comatose man's mind, but the point is--"

"Forget it, it's different enough. I'm putting it there anyway, and NO ONE CAN STOP ME." The Hedonist proceeded to cackle maniacally, as the man in the lime-green beret responded by rolling his eyes.
The contestants, minus Elimine, appeared in a flash of light in The Hedonist's study.

After several elbows to the lack-of-chest from Crumb, the djinni finally raised his head to face the returning battlers. He grinned, coughed repeatedly, and shifted his stack of papers aside. "Er. Right, I apologize for all that!" The man in the lime-green beret whispered something to him. "Oh, right, they wouldn't, would they... very, uh, admirable performance, all of you. Quite entertaining."

The Hedonist coughed once more before continuing. "Anyway! Congratulations to all who survived; Ms. Fraze's consolation prize will be a quite pleasant time-lapse photograph of that pretty little solar system. For the next round, you'll be in the central offices of Epigencorp, who, if their Christmas catalog is to believed, make home appliances, personal computers, and devastating superweapons. However, this round will be a little different! For it is... the special change-up round!" A shower of confetti fell from nowhere in particular as the djinni laughed uproariously.

"Specifically, you'll all be undercover as existing employees of the company. If you die, you still lose, naturally; however, you'll also lose if you perform so poorly as to be fired, and I can't really have people just wandering around, living, after losing a round of my battle, so I'll have someone get around to killing you if that happens as well."

The djinni quickly waved to all the contestants. "As before, I wish you all the best of luck, and I'd like you all to know it's been a great pleasure watching you eradicate several hundred species that may remain unparalleled for millennia. Bon voyage!" And, with a clap of his hands, they were off.

Crumb sighed. "Sir, with all due respect, it seems rather a shame that the round went as it did."

The Hedonist shrugged and took another sip of his cocktail. "Jerry, you have no sense of spectacle. And that new hat doesn't suit you, memento or not, and on top of that I have no idea why you'd want to be reminded of such nonsense. Go back to the old one."

"Yes, sir."

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

haha I bet you're all really mad that i'm just gonna come in here


Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

Epigen Corporations, a reputable and family-focused company, was certainly not associated with hippies, anti-war protests, or any of that free love nonsense. This anti-establishment talk was threatening to completely upset the social order! This was the sixties! A war was going on! Had these youngsters learned anything from their parents?

Regardless, Epigen had to keep up with the times, the fashions. The only thing worse than running out of customers was running out of style. Style is the thing that draws the masses in, regardless of product. Style is the lifeblood of the company, even if that company was selling top secret ultra advanced technology to governments and supervillains.

This, unfortunately, meant a particular… aesthetic was used in the hallways. Organ curves, garish colours, unsettling rainbows and, ugh, a multitude of circles. Everywhere. Damn interior designers, ruining everything professional in the business world.

This was especially the sentiment of Mr. Alexander Fraze, at the time, in the middle of a short coffee break. Business was a longtime family tradition-
he was directly descended from the first businesswoman, wouldn’t you know- and never in his or his ancestry’s careers had there ever been something so absurd as rainbow-themed waiting room chairs. Really, it made him sick.

But, he had worked hard to be in his position. A high-level management job at one of the companies existing on the forefront of technology. To be frank, he didn’t really understand any of the products, but they were quite interesting. Small handguns that shot rays of light and did different things depending on the colour of the shot (he always forgot exactly what each colour did, but that was R&D’s job anyway), vehicles that ran on some… kind of… technobabble something, and this one thing that, he, uh, was trying to get a buyer for, but it’s hard to sell something if even the people who made it don’t really know what it does.

Even then, working here was nice. Good pay, even better benefits. It wasn’t really worth it to complain about interior décor.

Besides, today, he had his own problems.

Alexander Fraze returned to his office, taking a few good swigs of his coffee, when he was suddenly confronted by five foot tall hurricane of a woman shouting something about corporate corruption and the immorality of monetary systems. Looking her over, she had too-long, dirty-red hair, sun-bleached skin that accentuated the air of uncleanliness about her. Her shirt was some kind of tie-dyed, tattered unknown material, and much too cut for any respectable woman her age, which he knew was about twenty three. Her jeans did this sort of… bell thing at the bottom that he didn’t particular understand the appeal of, and nor did he want to. She had a couple of necklaces on, one of them some kind of incomprehensible rainbow charm thing, the other a gigantic peace sign with the words “STOP WAR” etched on the outside ring. All it all, it was a raggedy, unprofessional sight.

Alexander sighed, putting his forehead in his hands. After letting her babble on for a few moments, he finally spoke, saying, “Elli, dear, can we go back to the office?”

She stopped, thrown off-guard by his sudden words. She stood there in dumbfounded silence for a short while, before replying to the businessman.

“Dad, did- did you even listen to a word I said?” she asked, blinking. “I mean, I’m providing fantastic points here about how certain aspects of our current capitalist system cause unethical practices within-”

“Elimine, dear,” Alexander said as kindly as he could. “Could we please talk about this another time? I have a bunch of paperwork to do about this mysterious product no one really knows how to work, and honey, you’re freaking out the customers with this hippie act of yours."

“Dad, oh my god,” Elimine said, flinging her arms up into the air. “You weren’t even listening to me, were you? And it’s not an act! Dad, have you even considered the number of products this company sells to would-be supervillains every single day? It’s a lot. How can you have a clear conscience, knowing that?”

Alexander grimaced. His voice suddenly adopted a dismissive tone.

“Four words: Don’t think about it. It’s served our family good all these years.”

“Oh, so that’s what happened.”

“…I beg your pardon?” Mr. Fraze said, raising an eyebrow.

“That’s why Mom got a divorce. Because you weren’t thinking about it.”

He snapped a finger up at Elimine, his voice suddenly raising.

“Young lady! You know very well it was more complicated than that! Don’t exhaust my patience with you. Now, go back to the office.”

“Fine, Dad, whatever,” and she was gone.

Alexander followed her through the rainbow-painted door to his office soon after, shaking his head. Children these days. Didn’t anyone know how to raise them right?


Jim, as he was known, was at the forefront of mechanical technology. In his era, almost every single great invention or machine had his hand in it. Tanks? Jim. Television? Jim. Cars, radios, warplanes? Jim. Advanced dipolar laser arrays contained within a handheld space? <font color="#33CC99">A robotic limb, a robotic eye?


Now, however, for all his knowledge and renown, as he sat in the R&D main lab of Epigen Corporations, staring at the incomprehensible jumble of metal sitting before him, he was at a loss for words. For a long while he just stared, until the other engineers there shifted around nervously.

“So, uh, what do you think?” Asked Mr. Zimmerman, head of the Epigen Research and Development Department.

Another long silence. Finally, after a few minutes, Jim turned his head to the department head.

“D’yknow what the fuck it does?” he said with a long, thoughtful drawl.

“Uh, no, sir, we don’t.”

“Fuck if I know what it does then, eitha’.”

Zimmerman kicked the ground of the lab a bit, sighed. He put an empty clipboard down on a nearby table as he spoke.

“Well, thanks for trying, anyway.”

“…I wasn’t finished.”

Zimmerman raised an eyebrow. “Um, what do you mean?”

“I dunnah what the thing does, but I do know how’ta turn et on

The department head paused for a moment, blinked, and then smiled.

“Well, we should get on that, then, shouldn’t we?"</font>


Alexander’s office was about as bland as you’d expect it to be. Earth tones and wood stain. Family photos, conspicuously none of a wife. Staplers, pens, stationary.

There was one interesting little facet, however. A typewriter, dark and black, of a heavy sort of metal, fairly old. Even though Epigen offered all employees personal computers, however top secret they may be, and that much more appealing, eye-catching typewriters were now on the market, the businessman insisted on using that particular device. A family heirloom, he claimed- although Elimine could have sworn she had never seen it before today- and good luck, too.

He was currently clacking away at some business memo on the typewriter. Typewriters weren’t very annoying for people in this day and age, but every so often it would make an especially loud click, and snap Elimine out of whatever daydreaming she was doing at the time. Eventually, she had had enough.


Dad, oh my goodness, what on earth is wrong with that typewriter.”

“What do you mean, dear?” Alexander replied, still typing away.

“That noise, Dad. The one it keeps making.”

“Oh,” he said with a shrug. “The C key is really, really loud, for some reason. No idea why.”

“Well, could you cut it out while I’m here? It’s driving me crazy.”

Alexander took his hands off the keys, looking up at his daughter. “Now Elimine,” he started. “I have to get this memo out by two o’clock. Why don’t you just try to give me some res-”


“-pect. I have to get this, but I’m not done with you, little missy.”

Alexander picked up the phone, giving whoever it was on the other line a short hello. He listened every so often, interjecting with a really? or what!? every so often. Eventually he concluded the call with an, “Alright, I’ll be right there,” and hung up. The businessman immediately started gathering his things.

“Elli, unfortunately, I have to go. R&D has made some kind of progress with the mysterious machine that’s been sitting in their labs. I have to go observe. Don’t go anywhere, ok? Stay here.

And he was out the door in a whirlwind, papers practically flying everywhere.

Elimine took the courtesy of waiting about five minutes before taking out the LSD, in case her father would come back looking for something his misplaced. But, as soon as she fell safe, she pulled out the little square containing the drugs, and held it up in the light. It was so odd. Such a tiny thing could have such… wild effects. She had taken it once before, and it was amazing. The colours. She could almost sworn she was seeing the music playing in the background. It was astonishing.

She held it up in the light a little longer, but eventually, she shrugged, threw the little square in her mouth, and ingested the LSD. There was nothing better to do today, anyway.


The hell? Elli stared at the typewriter, confused. Was it… was it making sound? By itself? And… and it was moving!

What. The. Fuck.

She moved a little closer, around the desk, to catch a glimpse of the device. Yup, it was moving on its own. Typing by itself. Oh god. Her previous trip hadn’t started so… immediately.

Out of pure curiosity, she crept up a little closer, and decided to read the words the machine was typing.


She blinked a bit, rubbing her eyes in disbelief. After a while, she finally decided to say something to the typewriter oh god why am I talking to it that’s a horrible idea.

“Um…. Hello?”

“Yes. Hello. Now, please pick me up, before the convowhore finds me and we become royally fucked.”

Elimine sighed, a grimace on her face. She had the nagging feeling that today’s trip wouldn’t be particularly pleasant.


Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Fraze strode down the hall as quickly as they could.

“So, what you’re saying is, is that you’ve…” the businessman said, a confused eyebrow raised.

“We’ve managed to turn it on, sir,” Zimmerman replied with a wide smile. He was practically skipping down the hall.

“And do you have any idea what, exactly, it-”

“We have no idea whatsoever. We might get some answers once it finishes powering up, but until then? Nada.”

“Alright, well, take me too it then. I want to see this thing when it powers up.”

“Right this way, sir, right this way.”

They burst through a set of a set of double two-way doors, a dramatic entrance if Alexander had been prepared for it. Instead, it had just managed to look silly.

In front of them was whirling, swirling mass of metal floating in the air. It wasn’t a particularly controlled cloud of scrap either; several very visible gashes had already been torn in the floor. With each passing second, the cloud of metal seemed to get faster and faster, until it was just a grey whirl of nonsense in front of the scientists.

“Smith, status report?” Zimmerman said to a man looking at electronic readings.

“From these energy levels, sir, there’s a 99.9% chance that the machine is going to turn on it five… four… three…”

Suddenly, a little jingle played, accompanied by a blinding light from inside the swirling mass of metal, enveloping the entire lab in eye-searing light.

When it had subsided, everyone looked in shock as AMP floated before them, spinning and moving chaotically. Its first words to the group were enough to throw them into a state of shock, disbelief, and confusion:


Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by engineclock.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by engineclock.

There was hurt, and heat, and light, and the faint smell of quiet desperation. It was comfortingly familiar.

The ground under his feet- one broken, one whole- was an awkward mix of gray and brown that had the charm of neither and the tastelessness of both. He kicked it and it kicked back with the strange invulnerability that office carpeting tends to have, releasing a tiny cloud of manila-colored dirt. He hissed at it because it was an easy sound to make when not every part of your mouth was connected to the rest.

“Carpet, Cail,” the worm-thing said. “Carpet. Do. You. Under. Stand.”

He didn’t like that name and he tried to bite the worm. The resulting shock made his hair stand up and he pawed at it sadly, trying to make words but only succeeding in dislodging something in his throat.

“We’re in an office. Did you get that? Office. Say it with me. Of-fice.”

“Hhhhaauuugh. Ssss.”

“Yeah, that’s- that’s pretty close, Cail. That’s close.”

He tried to smile but something in his jaw went wrong and he felt it drop too far on one side. The worm’s face did something that made him wonder if he was doing entirely alright.

“You! You two! Are you lost or what?”

His head snapped to the side, the vague impulses in his brain saying motion and sound and food. He hadn’t decided yet if he wanted to listen to them. The meat-flesh -two-legs in front of him seemed sort of pasty and not-fresh. He clacked his teeth at her and was rewarded with a withering stare that completely failed to make it past his frontal lobe.

The woman standing before them was dressed in a blouse that said “I’m a modern woman” and a skirt that said “but not a slut”. A stylishly thin cigarette dangled from her painted lips as she gave them a look that indicated she’d not only scraped better off the bottom of her shoes but afforded it more worth as a human being. With a flick of her wrist she presented them both with a sleek beige folder, crammed to bursting with irritatingly small pieces of paper. Several fluttered to the floor as Gaurinn reared up and Cailean stared blankly at nothing in particular.

“What is this?” The insect asked sharply, plucking a paper from the stack. A crude sketch of a badly disproportioned gun had been scrawled on it along with a helpful arrow and the inscription ‘BULLET GO HERE’.

“Christ, are you blind,” the woman snapped. She gestured angrily to a hallway curving lazily to their right. Fluorescent lights flicked moodily along its immaculately tiled length. “Get these to Abby down in R&D ASAP or I’m holding you responsible for the next delay. I don’t know what it is you techie boys do down in the labs, but if it’s going to slow down the rest of us you’d do well to reconsider your place in this company.” She glanced down and allowed her lip to curl in tasteful disgust. “And you’d better do something about that shinbone by the next time I see you. Exposed body parts are strictly against dress code.”

Then she was gone, heels clicking ferociously down the way she’d come and a trail of wafting smoke gently dissipating in the recycled air. Gaurinn grumbled angrily, snatching the folder away from Cailean’s phalanges.

“Stuck-up bitch,” he growled, shifting through hasty blueprints of various devices that all seemed to be missing some combination of barrel, trigger, and sense. He held one up to the light and squinted at it. “Does this… shoot bees. Does it really.”

“You bet your arthropodic ass it does!”

Cailean managed half a lunge at the newcomer before a sudden electrical charge convinced his legs to give up on the fight against gravity and he landed heavily on the floor, skidding to a rest at the feet of a man best described as a space cowboy. He shrieked in surprise as a heavily padded hand grabbed his remaining hand and yanked him effortlessly to his feet, ignoring the unsettling popping sounds coming from under the few pieces of armor still bolted to his body.

“Designed it myself,” a grinning echelon of rugged manliness said happily, seizing the sketch from Gaurinn with the hand not currently occupied with digging into Cailean’s wrist bones. He waved it in front of the insect’s face gleefully. “That chamber at the back is a supercondensed HyperBee hive that produces top-quality workers at a rate of 67 bp/s! I’ve worked on it for years! Course you’re not supposed to know about this. Top secret, you know.” He gave the centipede a wink that would have stopped any reasonable woman’s heart. “Anyways, don’t worry about Cherrilee, she’s hard on everyone in the mornings. This folder for me?”

Before Gaurinn or theoretically Cailean could protest the man had snatched it away and was striding swiftly away down the hall, leaving behind a fluttering trail of stray papers and gesturing with one massive hand for them to follow. It took another dose of electricity for Cailean to remember how his legs worked before he was shambling after in the wake of the man’s rocket boots, eyeing the meat on his calves with an emotion the former solider couldn’t quite identify.

“Name’s Strom Deadwood, by the way,” the man called back, turning into a narrow passageway crammed awkwardly in between two sad-looking cubicles. “Don’t think we’ve met before, I’m the head developer of Experimental and something else in Processing that no one’s really sure of. You two must be the transfers from the labs.” He procured a keycard from no easily identifiable location and waved it in front of a pair of massive steel doors jutting out of the faux paneling, then proceeded to kick them open anyway. “You’re just in time. We got a shipment of harvester squids yesterday that no one seems to know what do with despite the labels on the box saying ‘NOT FOR INTERNAL USE’ and ‘IMPORTED FROM FRANCE’. Figured it’d be something related to the department switchovers, you know? You techies are always up to something. Been hanging around our clientele too much, if you ask me! Ha ha! Don’t tell PR I said that. Aaaand here we are!”

Strom stopped abruptly in front of a dingy-looking door that had the words ‘Almost Certainly A Broom Closet, Part Two’ painted in bright orange letters across it in no particular order. He waved the card idly in front of it. The sound of a series of deadbolts dropping out of place echoed from the other side.

“You two all settled in, then? Great. I’ll be just down the hall if you need anything. If I’m out just leave a note with my secretary.” He gave Cailean a handshake that would have separated his arm from his torso had it been slightly more decayed and Gaurinn a pat on the back that briefly knocked the insect into unconsciousness. With a respectful tug of his hat, he departed with booming steps down the riveted hallway and through a door that didn’t quite seem to be entirely there.


“Agreed.” Gaurinn straightened himself out, still slightly dazed from the force of Strom’s approval. He glanced down the corridor nervously to ensure that no one else was currently threatening his life, then turned towards the door. “This looks promising. Why don’t you go in first, Cail, you’re seeming more intelligent than usual lately.”

Cailean obeyed, partially because he knew that Gaurinn would force him to do it if he didn’t but mostly because thinking about anything else was hard. Harder than it was before. His head was filled with thoughts like eat and hunt and run and they were distracting. Not as bad as the other ones, though, the ones that hurt his head when he listened to them too hard.

So Cail’s dead now?

He’s better off this way.

He didn’t want to think about those at all.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by Lord Paradise.

”I’ve been informed that the Russians,” intoned Mr. Clemens, “May have achieved eighty bees per second in a hive of comparable size.”

The room oscillated between quiet and disquiet. “I’ll take an American bee over a Commie bee any day,” proclaimed Mr. MacKenzie.

“So, a WASP?” suggested Mr. Deels.

“If their bees are fully collectivized,” pondered Mr. Itou, “They could mobilize one hundred percent of their workers as soldiers and vice-versa.”

“Can’t be done,” insisted Mr. MacKenzie. “Bees are bred for special functions. That’s what the soviets will never understand about entomology. You can’t just—“

“Gentlemen, if we could focus!” Mr. Clemens had had this table specifically designed to make a very, very loud and resonant noise when he pounded his fist against the right spot. That’s American ingenuity, right there. “Bee-based weaponry is bound to have more commercial than military applications. What can bees do against the Bomb? Not much. Once we hit seventy BPS we’ll contract them to city police for use as riot control. Then we’ll shift focus to the next big—could somebody get this man out of here?

Freddie leaned up against his mop, feeling the glare of the board room on him. “Sorry, sir. I was told someone had spilled some scotch.” The floor of the board room, being made of glass, stained very easily.

”Plenty of people have spilled plenty of scotch!” roared Mr. Clemens. “Has it occurred to you, sir, that the conversations that go on in this room are a matter of national security?”

That struck Freddie as funny. “Mr. Clemens, sir,” he said dryly. “Do I look like a Russian spy to you?”

He had a point there. Not a lot of Negroes in Siberia—they’d be too easy to spot in all the snow. That’s science. “Just… wait outside for five more minutes,” he conceded. Freddie shrugged and departed, but left the door open just a crack. He really wasn’t a Russian spy, though some days he figured he saw the appeal. He was just curious. ”As I was saying,” continued Mr. Clemens, comporting himself. “Bees are the past, and Epigen looks towards the future, always. Not literally, of course, but we’re looking into that. Ahem. Our next project shall be… cockroaches!

As the board room burst out in thunderous applause, Freddie rolled his eyes and shut the door. In truth, the idea made a lot of sense to him. Cockroaches, aside from their obvious complete immunity to nuclear weaponry, had several advantages. They were small, dark, they could get around unnoticed, and they hid inside the walls. And there were lots of them.

* * * * *

Somewhere deep inside the walls, Epigen’s switchboard was housed in a completely depressing and isolated room. Isolated, for May’s purposes, in that nobody could get to her, but she could certainly get to them.

“Operator, Epigen.” Call for Mr. Itou. “Just a moment.” Click. Snap. “Operator, Epigen.” Call for Mr. MacKenzie. “Just a moment.” Click. Snap. “Operator, Epigen.” Hi, do you know Cherilee down in-- “Surely I do! Just a moment!” Click. Snap. “Operator, Epigen.” You patch me through to Clemens and you tell him that if he doesn’t tell me I was right I’ll blow my brains out all over his taxidermy collection. “I’ll put you in touch with our suicide hotline.” Click. Snap. “Hmmm.” Snapsnap. (Epigen emotional crisis center, how can I convince you to live?) “Operator, Epigen.” (I’m too drunk to be convinced of anything) Hello, young lady, this is Judith Zimmerman, Jack’s mother. (Well then you’re probably too drunk to shoot yourself properly, too; you should sober up first) “I’m sorry, Judith, we’ve been over this a dozen times.” (Do you have a name, Miss Crisis Center?) “ Mr. Deadwood has expressly forbidden me to allow you to speak with him.” Click. (It’s Mrs. Crisis Center, and I’d rather you didn’t take that familiar tone of voice with me) “Operator, Epigen.” (BLAM) Call for Mr. MacKenzie. “I’m afraid the line’s busy, please hold.” (Sir? I know you just shot that up into the air, sir) He’s talking to that whore again, isn’t he? “I don’t listen in on private calls, ma’am, so I couldn’t tell you.” Snapsnap. [--gonna do to you when we get back to your place tonight?] (I’ve been working this job long enough to know the difference between the sound of a bullet penetrating a man’s skull and just being shot into the air and frankly, I’m insulted) Please, I need to know. [I don’t know, Papa Bear, but I can’t wait] “Sorry, Mrs. MacKenzie, that would go against my every ethic as a telephone operator.” (…You’re right; I just shot this stuffed otter) I… I guess I’ll hold, then. [You know your Papa Bear’s hungry for some honey, bitch] “Operator, Epigen.” (I thought if you thought I’d gone through with it you might feel bad, and then… I don’t know, I fucked it up) Call for Mr. Xodarap. [Ooh, Papa Bear, climb up into my beehive] “Just a moment.” Click. Snap. (I’m sorry you fuck everything up, sir, but did you know we’re neck-and-neck with the soviets in the suicide rate race right now?) [God dammit, Tess, why did you have to bring bees into this?] “Operator, Epigen.” Call for Mr. Xodarap. (BLAM) “I’m sorry, he’s in a call right now, but he was free ten minutes ago.” [Just yesterday you said bees were sexy!] Ten minutes ago will do. (Now that’s what a suicide sounds like. You poor bastard.) Clickclick. “Just a negative moment, then.” [And yesterday bees were sexy! It’s cockroaches now, dammit!] Click.
Zwooooooop. Snap. “Operator, Epigen.” Hey, um, this is Gabe. [Sorry, baby. I, uh… I want your cock… roach] Is there, like, someone I can talk to? ”There are currently over four hundred people you can talk to, Gabe, this is your lucky day. Please pick one.” [Yeah, baby, you know my cockroach can survive for weeks without its head] I. Um. What’s your name? ”I’m May, Gabe, but I can’t talk right now.” [Ooh, Papa Roach, you’ll get all the head you want] I’m sorry, it’s just… I’m new here, and I’m a bit… disoriented? [Damn right, bitch. Hang on, I have another call.] Clickclick. “I’ll tell you what. I can put you through to Paul, in training. He’ll get you sorted.” Oka— Click. Snap. Click. “Thanks for your patience, Mrs. MacKenzie, he just got out of his meeting.” Suuuuuuure he did. Can you put me through now? “Just a moment.” Click. Snap. “Heehee.” Snapsnap. “Operator, Epigen.” [Hey, sorry to keep you on hold, honey] We’re in their phone network, Admiral. ”Pardon?” [Bit of bad news, dear, I’m going to be working late tonight] Click. “Huh.” [I’ll probably sleep in the office, so don’t wait up] “Operator, Epig—ah!”

Snapping out of “work mode” at Brom’s touch, May would have fallen out of her chair if the old elevator operator hadn’t steadied her. “Easy, girl,” chuckled Brom. “I could use your help on something.”

May hung up her headset and spun around in her chair, thoroughly annoyed. “Some of us have jobs to do, you know.”

Brom threw up his hands. “Sorry, Doris Diligent. What does it matter to you anyhow? I stepped away from my job to talk to you, and my job’s the one with more, hehe, upward mobility.”


“What you mean to say is, I’m interrupting your day’s eavesdropping.”

May smiled. “Could be.”

Brom leaned up against the switchboard and miraculously failed to break anything or accidentally drop anyone’s calls. “So what’s the word?”

“The usual. Some upper-level phone sex and a little suicide hotline action. About an hour back I caught two fellas talking in Russian, which was pretty weird. But anyway, focus. You need my help.”

“That I do. Some of the boys have been talking about taking measures to improve our situation here. We were wondering if you’d be interested.”

May shrugged. “I like my situation here just fine.”

“For a buck twenty-five an hour? Millions of dollars run through this building every day.”

“And thousands of calls. You know I pretty much run this building, Brom. I’d pay for this work.”

“Well it’s a good thing no one else would pay for this work, or they’d fire you and hire her. Minimum wage is the only thing keeping them from knocking you out and giving your job to some Hungarian housewife for two dollars a day. That’s why it’s gotta be all of us.”

May sighed and put her headset back on. “I’m sorry, there’s a slight problem with the network. We’ll be back up in a few minutes.” Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Slam. She put the headset back on the hook and turned to Brom. “So, it’s a union, is it?”

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison.

It had been fine when Quantos had died. Quantos had never been nice to AMP or tried to help him, and AMP hadn't really cared about him too much. His death had just been a thing that happened, and then other things had happened because of it. Something told AMP that he wasn't very good at getting his ideas across, but he ignored it.

Elimine, on the other hand, had given him a chance. She'd tried to be his friend, or at least AMP had taken it like that. He found himself feeling a bit strange when he thought about how she'd never be around again. It was a weird feeling, and he didn't like it at all.

The voice told him that he still wasn't very good at expressing his ideas. AMP told her to shut up. The voice shrugged and said it was just trying to help, darling, because honestly AMP looked like he needed it. AMP asked who the hell she thought she was and where the hell she'd come from. She replied that she was his Interface and that she'd just sort of drifted into town, ya know? She was here, she said, putting an arm around his shoulder, to help him work on his public image, his people to people thing, because to be totally honest he was a bit of a hopeless dweeb when it came to being social.

Zimmerman stared at the contraption. "Is that...thing...going to do anything else?"

Alexander pulled a handkerchief from one of his pockets and mopped his brow with it. "It just said Eli was...I think it just said Eli was..."

AMP brushed her off. He didn't need any help, he was fine when it came to that. Database piped up and said that well she thought AMP was fine with that too because she'd never had any problems talking to and she thought he was really nice and neat and - Interface cut her off because listen, darling, she was so obvious it was a wonder he didn't know already, and to be totally honest it was a bit painful to listen to her go on and on and just not say it. Database blushed and scuttled back off to her databanks.

Alexander flipped open his cell phone, his hands shaking. He had to stop drinking so much coffee, it was really making him wired. "Excuse me, Operator," he said, in as calm a voice as he could muster. "Please connect me with the security desk."

There was a moment of silence, followed by a thunking noise as someone picked up the microphone.
"We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with the, uh, communications system. Please stand by. Eek! Stop it!" This was followed by a few moments of giggling, and then a click as the line closed.

Alexander stood there for a moment, then redialed and repeated his message in a bit of a more furious tone. This time the microphone was picked up more quickly.
"I said, we are currently experiencing technical difficulties with the communications system. Please stand by." The line clicked off again and Alexander suddenly failed to hold his temper in check.

Interface turned back to AMP and told him that even if he didn't notice it, she could tell that he was just soooooooo pathetic when it came to talking to people. And, she explained happily, that was where she came in. As his Interface, it was her job to help him with all that fiddly little people to people stuff. Make sure he didn't make people angry when he didn't want to, that kind of thing. People like the ones over there who seemed to be in a bit of a tizzy at the moment. AMP cursed and quickly turned his attention back to his surroundings.

Alexander strained against Zimmerman's arms. "Let me go! There's something wrong! I need to find my daughter!"

Zimmerman didn't comply. "Can't let you do that, Mr. Fraze. Whatever's happening out there, you're not going to be running into the thick of it if I have anything to say about it."

Eager to prove her worth, Interface highlighted Alexander and Zimmerman and explained that, see, you can tell the restraining one cares about this Mr. Fraze, because he's trying to keep him from running into danger, but it's more of a boss-employee relationship than a buddy-buddy one because of the way the restraining one talked to Mr. Fraze. AMP asked her what was odd about the way Mr. Fraze had been addressed. She shrugged and noted that well he wouldn't go calling his friends mister and sir and madam and whatnot, would he, and oh no he'd been doing that hadn't he, he needed her help even more desperately than she thought. She sighed and told him to listen closely and do exactly as she said.

"Excuse me!" Everyone looked up in surprise. AMP paused. "Have you tried...talking about it?"

[Image: zjQ0y.gif][Image: vcGGy.gif]
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by Not The Author.

So, what does this thing do?


...Didn’t you build it?

Vell, yea, but sat doesn’t mean I know vhat it does. Only vhat it’s supposed to do.

Okay, Mister Arbitrary Distinc-


Doctor Arbitrary Distinctions. What is it supposed to do?

Simply put, it is a mechanical mind. Ideally it vill eliminate human error from se company. But, ah, not all at vonse... As se prototype, I’ve only hooked it up to a select few systems.

Well, switch it on! We don’t get paid if it doesn’t do anything, and if it doesn’t work, then you need to start fixing it ASAP.

Ja, ja, ihre hosen tragen…

…Say, what do you call this thing, anyway?

It is <font color="SteelBlue">Atlas
, for it is se pillar upon which se future vorld vill be built.</font>


Having had time to acclimate to the abrupt shift that came with each new round, the Bridge had become the flurry of orders and activity Itzel recalled from the early years of fleeing The Crunch.

“A few other things besides the phones, but mostly inconsequential maintenance systems. Climate control, that sort of thing.”

“Right. We’ll need more access to their systems. Heng?”

“On i’. I’ll ha’ securi’y feeds for you in a bi’.”

“Good. Szindle, get their comms back online, and set up a proxy to mimic that operator. Physical, not digital.”

snick cliclack tlacack





“We have access to the company database. What would you like me to investigate first?”

“Start with personnel, then see what projects are underway. Scan their history to get a baseline of when and where, while you’re at it.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I don’t think we’re, like, s’posed to be moving around and stuff. Don’t wanna get fired, heh?”

“Agreed. Terrence?”

“Jhes, Atmiral?”

“I know you’ve been working on new ship designs. How would you like to test them out?”

Hah! I’d like zhat very much.”

“Wonderful. Mobilize the fleet, and... maybe disguise the visible ones as cockroaches.”

The Admiral slumped over in her chair, a moment of respite just in time to be interrupted by her second-in-command.

“What’s the plan, then?”

Itzel wearily sized up the avian. He was a loyal Captain, to be sure, and was devoted to the good of the ship... but honestly? She was surprised he'd held up this long. Fassil he had a paranoid streak that only worsened under stress, and if being in a battle to the death wasn't stressful...

She was about to make several decisions she knew he wouldn't like. She hoped she could convince him that her way was the right way, because if she couldn't...

"...There is a plan, right?"

A melancholy laugh escaped her maw. Yep, that was Fassil.

“Keep the contestants away from each other and out of danger. Take control of Epigen and bring this round to a halt.”

The Captain's expression shifted quickly from incomprehension to incredulity.

“Wait... you mean to make it boring for our host?”

“It’s... a start. Besides, we need to figure out a way out of this contest once and for all. Stalling for time seems as good as anything to help us get there.”

“I... suppose so, Admiral.”

...If she couldn't, there was a good chance they were all doomed.

Good. Now let’s get to work! We have a contest to ruin.”

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.


Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by TimeothyHour.

Elimine tapped her fingers on the desk nervously.

“You’re a typewriter,” she said, staring at Etiyr.
He began clacking in reply.

“Yes, yes I know,” he spat out. <span style="font-family: Courier New">“Now pick me up.”

“Nooo,” she said, shaking her head in strange, disoriented way that belied the drug taking effect. “No no no no no. If did that I would disrupt the chickens.”


“I mean, uh. Make my Dad like The Mannnn, man,” She slurred, wobbling a bit back and forth. “…He’s already that, I guess.”

“Ok. I need you to just focus. I’m talking to you, here.”

“The Universe is talking to me! I'm like, in harmony world. I'm fully of harmony and knowledge and they're trying giving me this talk, right? And it’s so convincing, you wouldn’t even know.”

“And, uh, what is it saying?”

She furrowed her brow a bit. “I’m not… I can’t… It’s hard to put into words. Something to do with music, maybe. Music is pretty psychedelic. I was able to see it once, you know.”



“Dude, chill,” the drugs had clearly settled in now and were having their fun. If one could see through Elimine’s eyes, they would see, like, colours and stuff. It was pretty crazy.


“Alright, man, alright,” she said, shrugging, moving to lift the typewriter. With a wheeze and a huff, it was finally of the ground.

“This… you are kind of heavy,” she said, staring at the typewriter. “And made of rainbows.”

The typewriter sighed to itself. “Just get us fucking out of here, ok?”

“Mkay,” she said with a nod. With a whoozy stumble and a twirl, she was out the door, in the hall, swirling around the hall like a drunken man.

Etiyr, to say the least, had a feeling he wasn’t going to be seeing any relief for a long, long time.
Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

As it turned out Paul, in training, was not as helpful as May had advertized. Talking to Paul led to talking to Rich (Assistant Inductor), Maria (Feedback and Internal Relations), and Marco-Anthony Jr. (Emergency Scapegoat) and that all led to him being on hold for far too long. This wasn't because of something that Gabe realized so much as because the owner of the phone that he had been using had spotted him and wondered what he was doing at his phone.

"Uh... Gabe, isn't your cubicle... that way?" He pointed off across from where Gabe was.

"Oh uh, I just assumed... uhm... I'll be going now."

And so Gabe got going, not just to his cubicle, though he should have as a loyal employee, but to get a good look around the building. After seeing the absurdly selected colors that made up the ugly carpet and the disorienting pattern that was plastered on the walls, Gabe realized why there was no one else walking the halls with him. Still, he persevered past the poor or absolute genius design and and made it to the end of the hall, where there was a directory of the floors and an elevator.

The directory, which informed Gabe that he was on the Fifty-Fourth Floor (Telesales and Econoblasts) was another confusing mess. "Uhm... okay..." In his attempt to figure out the difference between the Department of Redundancy and the Redundancy Department, Gabe heard a little clink sound as he moved his eyes to a little coin rolling toward the elevator. Said elevator opened up and then had the penny lodged right inside it. A tad curious as to the coinage used and not exactly wanting to leave a coin in the middle of an elevator, Gabe walked to the elevator and attempted to grab the coin, only to be pushed in further before he could do anything.

As he descended down, with myriad after myriad of useless natter and chatter going in and out, all about the magazine sales and the uncovered artifacts and the insane Fraze person.
Wait did that person just say Fraze?
Before he could process this, the elevator made it's stop and everyone in the elevator left, save Gabe and one man dressed in what seemed to be Janitor clothing. There was silence as Gabe looked around the elevator, avoiding the coin that had fallen earlier and the gaze of the janitor.

Finally, he spoke up, "So, are you just going to stand there or are you going to get off the elevator and off to work?"


The Janitor edged closer, he was easily six or more feet tall, standing over Gabe, who gulped at the large man. "Well what?"

"Uhm..." Gabe took a moment to consider what exactly he would say. He didn't know what his job was, nor did he have a real idea of where he was. In the end, he settled for a meek, "No?"

"I see... then that must make you..." The Janitor nodded and then pressed a few random buttons on the elevator. The somewhat cheery light of the elevator was replaced by a much more dim shine, with the darkness almost covering Gabe and the Janitor completley. After a while, the elevator door opened, revealing a blinding light as Gabe was hoisted out of the shaft.

When he opened his eyes, he was surprised to see a nice lounge, red carpet, a lot of comfy looking chairs and beanbags, and various television screens. Unlike in the above office building, people seemed to be happy.

A robed woman walked up to him and she shook the hand of the Janitor, who Gabe had just noticed was still there. "Ah, welcome to The Room, I see you brought a friend Brother Flynn."

"He is not my friend, not yet, I felt resonated with him during our short time together on the elevator. As such I allowed him to join me here."

"Oh, I see, well then sir, please make yourself at home, someone will be with you momentarily to answer any questions, come this way please." She waved farewell to Brother Flynn and grabbed Gabe, plopping him onto a comfy beanbag before going away, probably to get him a guide of some sort. Looking at the room, there were not that many people, especially compared to the office halls, but he still felt like he was being watched. After spotting the elevator shaft he came down in, he contemplated going back up...

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by veerserif.

But Brother Flynn moved to the elevator shaft, resuming his role as sentry.

The woman smiled at him, showing all her gleaming teeth. "Don't worry, acolyte. We'll begin your induction soon. But before we start, would you like to ask any questions?"

His thoughts raced to make themselves known, tripping over one another and damn near starting a rampage. Outwardly, he took a deep if shaky breath.

"First things first. Who the hell are you?"

She smiled enigmatically (dammit). "Good questions." (Double damn.) She sat up and made a grand, sweeping gesture. "We are, you might say, on break. Permanently." She sat back down again, dropping onto the beanbag with surprising grace. "Your guide is here. We do hope you will enjoy it here."

God-fucking-dammit. Gabe understood corporate America, but bizarre off-duty worker-cultists?

Gabe was pulled to his feet suddenly by a similarly-robed man, his hair sticking up in all directions. His robe looked like an adaptation of some kind of uniform; his nametag had been ripped out.

"Hello! Hello! You are new here, yes? Good! I suppose you'll be wanting a tour of the Room? Right this way." He shot off like an arrow. Stupified, Gabe followed.

"Well, really, this used to be a maintenance room, we've just opened it up a bit. Easy elevator access, there's a stairwell in the back. I wouldn't advise using it though! Nobody knows exactly where the exit is! But it's good exercise. You could lose whole hours on the thing."

"This is our food room. As you can see, we've got something of a small hydroponics operation going on. Brother Finck over there - hello brother! - has green thumbs alright." The man in question waved back. Gabe raised a hand weakly. "And this is the kitchen! We could always do with more help here." He nodded dutifully, casually grabbing a few things off the counter. Snacks never hurt a soul.

"This! This is my baby, my pride and joy. Well no, it's not just me. It's something of a collaborative effort." A mass of screens and wiring dominated the entire wall. Two or three workers were in the back, fixing something. It was hard to tell amidst the tangle of wires and electronic wizardry.

The screens were labelled with a set of coordinates, each one showing various scenes of office life. Gabe turned to his tour guide. "You did this?"

"Well, I say me..." He looked down, and began again, hesitantly. "In my... old... life, I worked with cameras. Security feeds. I wanted to help." Gabe noticed, belatedly, that he was wearing an ID lanyard as a wrist ornament. He brightened up again. "I'll tell you more once we're in the Sanctum."

The Sanctum was a small space, hidden by camouflage and curtains. He stepped inside.

In the middle was a single cubicle. Pens and pencils occupied a mug in one corner. Paper, paperclips and a row of post-it notes were neatly arrayed in the centre. A red stapler was tied to the leg of the table. It still had a faded sign on it:

The entire setup was lit by a lone, dim lightbulb, strung up overhead. Everything else was immaculately clean. Gabe ducked under the curtain, blinking.

His tour guide was now accompanied by an older woman. Her robes were neater, and she a necklace made of bits of frayed fabric. She was carrying a bundle of clothing.

"Welcome, acolyte. I am the Record Keeper, and I will guide you through the last parts of your ceremony. First, you must be un-named." She gestured towards his nametag.

"What, this?" The Record Keeper nodded, and handed him the bundle. He opened it up to find a nondescript uniform in olive drab. "You can change over there."

The clothes were a little too big. Gabe handed over his old outfit. The contents of his pockets formed a small pile at his feet.

She smiled. "We'll keep those for you." She led him out of the Sanctum, and back into the main lounge area. It was quite crowded; evidently the entire group had gathered to watch. She stood on a table, and began.

"Brothers and sisters! We are gathered to witness the induction of another into our fold!" A cheer. "To gain our trust, he must undergo... a Trial!" Another cheer. It really was astounding, how they could all pronounce capital letters.

With a flourish, an envelope was presented to him. Gabe was pushed to the elevator shaft by the crowd, and Brother Flynn stood aside to let him in.



A fuzzy photograph of a small red orb was glued below. It was captioned with a catalogue number, and a timestamp.


A handwritten note was scribbled near the bottom.
"Spare janitors' uniforms, hallway C-II, fourth door on the right. Password is -... .-. -.- .-. -- Ask for Tech Xodarap."

The doors slid open, and he stepped back out to the fifty-fourth floor. No one paid him any attention.

Re: The Glorious Championship! [S3G5] [Round Three: The Epigen Center]
Originally posted on MSPA by engineclock.

Rauhoitu lapsi, loppu on yll