The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 6: Tidal Cove]

The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 6: Tidal Cove]
Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

Around the contestants, the school began to dissolve. It didn't pass simultaneously- bits and pieces began to fade out individually, walls vanishing in sections to reveal the dim light of the Controller's vast, metallic plane. Despite their relative locations in the school, the remaining contestants found themselves back in their original rings, arrayed in an arc centring on the Controller's chair.

The Controller's empty chair.

Their tormentor was nowhere to be seen- the contestants looked around, but other than the chair, the rings, and themselves, the plane seemed entirely empty, stretching off into the darkness.

For a while, they simply stood there. Oddly, they felt no need or desire to communicate with one other, just a sort of dull apathy that hung over them like a cloud.

After about five minutes, a pair of doors appeared, materializing off to one side. They weren't anything fancy, really- just a set of wooden, pale-blue doors, set in a free-standing frame. Their handles were the bronze, flat kind often found in upscale hotels, and a sign on one indicated that they led to Ballroom 5.

A dull, thumping bass could be heard, and as the nearer of the two doors opened, a great rush of sound flowed through. It took a second for the contestants to comprehend it, their minds sorting through the multitude of sounds, but they eventually realized what it was- music.

It flowed around them, surging into their minds and souls in a way none had ever felt before. It was a composition of such depth and breadth that it made them feel complete, filling them with a sensation of pure, concentrated life.

Their ecstasy was such that they were only idly interested in the figure who walked through the opened door. They idly observed his aviator shades, his beard, and his navy blue shirt, but they just didn't pay attention to the man as a whole. It wasn't until he'd nearly reached the chair that they actually realized what they were seeing.

Sir Arnold Scarlet flicked a casual hand at the door. It slammed shut, cutting off the music entirely. The feeling of excessive, wonderful life was jerked from the group as it did, and they crashed down from the musical high hard, almost painfully. As one, they slumped inward, depression and hopelessness weighing down on them.

Arnold didn't pay attention to them; humming an echo of the soul-filling tune, he just set a small envelope down on one arm of his chair and tapped a few commands into a keyboard. After a brief delay, he smiled, sighed to himself, and flopped down into the chair.

The unmistakable crunch-squelch of a knife burying itself in human flesh brought silence to the plane. The contestants froze. A heartbeat later, Arnold simply chuckled, leaning forward. He reached around behind himself and, with another sickening noise, extracted a knife from his back. Its handle curved back on itself in an elegant spiral, and its blade was ornately carved with swirling runes and figures.

He admired it for a moment before hooking it over a hanging cable and turning his attention to the group. He leaned forward a bit, steepling his fingers and surveying the contestants.

"So, that's one round down." His voice was entirely the Controller's, and by now his posture and mannerisms left no question as to who they were looking at. "Any thoughts?"

The seven beings just stared back at him.

Their reaction apparently confused the Grandmaster- he cocked his head to the side and furrowed his brow. Then, a moment later, he snapped his fingers as realization struck. "Ah, right. The outfit. I'd almost forgotten." He chucked a bit and took off his shades, wiping them on his shirt.

Arnold's eyes stared out at them, stretched wide in horror. The knight was screaming as much as he could, his eyes his only outlet for the pain and terror he felt. The rest of his body may have belonged to the Controller, but he still had his eyes.

After thoroughly cleaning the sunglasses, the Controller replaced them and stood. He walked over to one of the circles, Holly's, and leaned close to examine the elf. He lingered for several seconds before moving on to the next one, repeating the process until he reached Algernon at the far end. The young man was tensed to run with nowhere to go, and as the Controller leaned forward, he leaned back.

After a few seconds, the Controller spoke, cruel irony filling his voice. "Am I disturbing you, Algernon? Does my use of this man's body cause you distress?"

The boy didn't respond; he just stared back, eyes widened in an echo of Arnold's.

The Controller tsked to himself. "Well, we can't have that." He straightened back up, automatically straightening his shirt as he did. He reached up to his head-

And tore it open. He pulled off Arnold's face like a mask, the rest of his body following. The knight's flesh fell to the floor, torn off and tossed into a pile. All that remained where the man had stood was a skeleton, wreathed in a blue, flickering glow, its bones connected by arcs of electricity. Its eyes, two pinpricks of blue-white light, stared at Algernon once more. "Is that better?"

The skeleton examined the boy for a moment longer before turning and walking back to its chair. It reached over to a recessed set of switches and flipped a pair, and his original form flickered back into existence around him.

"Now," he said, taking his seat before the seven, "I have another arena for you. Throughout history, the multiverse has seen a multitude of beings skilled in the art of pain. To honour their talents, I have constructed a... monument, of sorts. A museum, cataloguing some of the most talented beings ever to exist. I think you will find it quite interesting."

The seven remaining beings faded away, sent off to their next arena, and the Controller turned his attention to other business. He picked up the letter he'd brought back with him. He'd been rudely interrupted in Ballroom 5 by a robed figure, who had simply handed it to him and left.

He turned it over in his hands; it was old, faded, and worn, and it bore the words 'Only for the eyes of the most sadistic of the Grandmasters' on its front.

After looking at it for a little longer, he broke the wax seal and unfolded it.

The note contained a warning. The escapee's pursuer was closing in, and the inevitable confrontation was fast approaching.

The Controller frowned at it. Despite the odd wording, he knew what it meant, and the thought made him extremely uncomfortable. Aside from that, though, there was something else- It reminded him of something he'd once read. He tapped a few keys and brought up a file on one of the displays, taken from a repository of top-secret documents.

One of his other displays flickered, its status screen replaced by an image of the Monitor. "Controller," he said, "do you have a moment to converse?"

The Controller turned to the other screen. "Ah, Monitor, what a pleasant surprise. I was just reading over a potential entrant for your upcoming battle."

"If you wish to enter a being, you can do so through the appropriate channels when the time comes."

"No, that's not likely. This being is out of even our rather extensive reaches."

The Monitor paused a moment before responding. "...What do you mean?"

"He's a fictional character." The Controller tapped a few keys. "I'm sending you a description. It's a shame, really- I would quite enjoy seeing him in action, but even I am powerless to obtain him. Ah, well. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?"

"Ah, yes. I have compiled a list of potential arenas, and I would be interested in your opinion on their suitability."

The Controller shifted a bit, settling in. "Certainly." He glanced over to the pile of Arnold on the floor, which was slowly reforming. "I've got some time available."

"Excellent. I'm sending the first set now..."

The seven remaining contestants found themselves alone once more, scattered around the museum. It was a high-ceilinged place, vaguely reminiscent of a warehouse. Had the many free-standing displays not blocked their view, the beings might have noticed that there weren't any walls holding up the ceiling. As it was, they were distracted by the displays themselves. Many were depictions of scenes of brutality or implements of torture, and a few featured life-size replicas of historical figures. Were it not for the focus of the place, it might have made an excellent field trip. The displays spared no detail, however; is was clearly not a place intended for children.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Holly looked around the exhibit she was in. It was a full reproduction of a torture chamber, complete with several people being tortured in real-time; one particularly gruesome spectacle was being stretched out on "the rack" to the point where a bolt would occasionally clatter to the floor. A man in a red robe turned to Holly and began to advance on her, shouting "HEATHEN. HEATHEN." She quickly pulled out her gauntlet and stabbed it, drawing out its wiring and spilling it on the floor. I certainly didn't expect that. It was at this point she realized she was alone.

"Aic. I have to find Aic." In a daze, she attempted to flee the exhibit, only to run directly into a plexiglass wall. She cursed briefly, looking for an exit but finding the only one guarded by several torturers. She sighed, and pointed at them. "Hey, you. Get out of my way or I'll kill you all." The robots not moving, she dashed up the stairs and dodged the swords slashed towards her, grabbing one of the Inquisition and shoving it against the two at the top before spearing them through the heads simultaneously. She kicked them down the stairs and exited the open doorway. "I told you, man."

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 1: Focal High School]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

Acacia opened her eyes and swept them lazily over the surrounding exhibits. Casually, she leaned against the glass of an exhibit featuring a kind of hooked Catherine wheel, in the act of expanding with the victim still attached. It was an excellent reproduction. She could almost hear the creak of flesh and wood.

Then his eyes flicked towards her. Acacia made no move. His mouth was open, and his straining chest puffed and heaved as he struggled against the pull of his traitorous flesh. However, he seemed to have gone far beyond screaming. Maybe some other person would have heard a whimper, or a final gasp, but she could only hear the raging silence.

She just saluted, turned, and walked away. The only thing she cared about was sitting in her head like a brain tumour on fire:

The Controller is going to die.

Aic weakly scrabbled for control, perhaps more out of panicked self preservation than anything, but Acacia just smirked with dead eyes and turned to face an executioner in the classic black hood from which only the eyes of the Grim Reaper could be seen. She slipped it away from it's previous owner, who was revealed to be lacking lips or even indeed ears. His eyes met hers, just like those of the victim she saluted.

“What are you looking at, my friend? You're defunct. Useless. Out of date. Whereas I have a job to do, and your little mask will be perfectly fitting for it.”

He still just stared.

She sighed, and ran her fingertips over the stubble of her head. Maybe she should grow it out? The botanist shook her head and looked at the waxwork with a little disappointment.

“Damn, that's boring. Are the eyes following me meant to be creepy?”

Predictably, no response. Acacia spun around again, picking a random direction to wander in, whilst shoving the hood over her head. She looked out through it with new eyes. And shivered with anticipation of what the future held.

Not now. Not right now. But one day. And then this body can be laid to r-

Her internal monologue was unfortunately disrupted by the axe cleanly splitting the air above her head, nicking the cloth of her hood. Acacia just dropped and rolled. She was winded and perhaps a little dazed for a moment, staring up at the ceiling, when the executioner met her gaze again. Unfortunately, he was looking a little more active than last time.

Acacia stared at the ax raised above his head. He turned his attention to the pistol, retrieved during the roll and shaking in her entwined hands. A moment of surprise passed between them, but then the ax had to drop and the shot had to be fired.

A more aurally gifted passerby would have heard the shattering of glass, amongst the crack of the gunshot, the ring of steel and grating sound of metal on stone. And then the profuse swearing of a scientist in a black hood, fleeing a hoard of executioners who were possibly bothered by the splattered wax that lay around a particularly large ax.

Sound or not, Acacia was fleeing for her supposedly non-existent life.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

It took a few seconds for Algernon to remember to breathe.

That...that creepy bastard...was everybody trying to screw with his mind? Was the whole universe giving him the finger and trying to push him over the edge of sanity? Was he expected to just shut down and let everybody step all over him? It was a tempting idea, actually. But no, keep moving, keep moving, hopefully he'll just forget this whole thing ever happened.

Algernon finally moved, not really out of necessity, more out of a small experimentation to see if he really wasn't dead. Satisfied that he was suitably alive (and maybe disappointed he would have to continue dealing with earthly problems such as the stress that comes with being plopped into a sadistic battle), the dark-haired boy started wringing out his shirt again and thinking of at least short-term plans.

Reminding himself that his memory tended to be unreliable (though not in the way most people's were) brought to his attention that it was actually possible for him to forget who the other contestants were, even forget he was in a 'gradual massacre.' This thought was incredibly worrying. But at least he thought of it now before it happened and it seemed an easy enough problem to solve. He just had to make sure he wouldn't forget, which meant carrying reminders. He had a working marker. He had two arms. It was easy to make the connection.

Algernon uncapped the strangely dry marker but then paused. He didn't have much space on his arms, mostly because he could only roll up his sleeve so far. Plus, he was right-handed. He wouldn't be able to write anything on his right arm. Nothing legible at least. He had to be sure to write only what was important.

battle to the death - The Controller he started.
Thane tentacles bossy get
away Holly elf items to
emotions Ouroborous bugs
AVOID Countess creepy suspicious

Algernon paused again, his left arm twisted in an uncomfortable position. Was that it? The other contestants, Pluck, Acacia and Lucas, he didn't really know them too well to give any useful notes (and he was running out of arm anyways). Wait, which one died? It would have been nice if it was Thane. It would also mean his notes were out of date. Crap, he was too focused on the Controller to notice who were remaining. Um. Should he still plot against Thane?

It was at this point, as Algernon was rolling down his sleeve and continuing to be nervous and confused (this will probably be a constant), that he finally started becoming vaguely aware of his surroundings. His back was feeling oddly warm. Turning around, he saw the reason why. There was a bonfire, real, as far as he could tell, and a woman was being used as kindling, soulless eyes staring down into the blaze, her form limp and resigned. Algernon glanced down at the little card mounted in front. 'Salem Witch Trials' It just figures. A sadistic museum for a sadistic Controller. He looked up at the display again, disgusted, and jumped suddenly.

The woman was looking at him now Christ why was she looking at him

Her eyes were still blank and yet conveyed horrible blistering pain. Her mouth was open but she seemed to have forgotten how to scream, so long had been her torture. She wasn't real, right? But as Algernon nervously backed away, he was sure that the Controller wouldn't hesitate to let a woman burn for eternity in this museum.

He felt compelled to break the bonds tying her to the burning post. But...then what? How would she even walk? Unless she was an animatronic. Still, he didn't want to just...leave her. Looking around, Algernon could see more displays of torture, even alien torture, some devices neatly placed on pedestals, but surprisingly, nothing much in terms of sharp implements that could cut rope. Averting his eyes, he swallowed his reluctance.

And he left.

The woman stared after him. It seemed to him she would haunt him for the rest of his life. It seemed to him a lot of things in this cruel battle would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by The Dr..

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Thane smiled as he appeared in the museum. The rest of the group looked as though they had been sick to their stomachs at The Controller's display of sadistic glee, but not him. He had seized upon one thing which made him confident. That The Controller was weak, weak enough to let his emotions show. A sense of bloodthirsty joy was probably not the most exploitable weakness that he could have hoped for, but it was a weakness nonetheless. He had an inclination that he might need any potential weaknesses he could find should The Controller wish to reclaim his worthless Map of Rome. Thane admitted that perhaps he had made a mistake in the previous round, he perhaps hadn't thought through what the consequences of stealing an item that had been locked away specifically so that he could not steal it. But this rumination and regret was pointless. The fact was he had stolen this worthless scrap of paper and now he was stuck with it, and all the consequences that came with it, including The Controller's potential ire. If the worst came to the worst he would attempt to ally with his teammates. He could not imagine that they felt anything but the loathing with regard to their sadistic captor. But that was a series of thoughts that would best be dealt with as and when they were applicable. For the moment he needed to get his bearings and figure out what, if anything, to do with this piece of trash Map of Rome.

Thane found himself standing in a corridor between a selection of particuarly gory exhibits. In stark contrast to the detailed exhibits the corridors that wound throughout the museum were almost featureless; just the open white floor and the distant white ceiling. There were no seats, or panels giving information upon the exhibits. The corridors connecting the place together almost seemed as though they had been an afterthought. Thane sat for a moment, cross legged on the oddly textureless floor. He spread the Map of Rome out in front of him and stared at it. As much as he called it worthless scrap there was power here for some reason, even if he did not have any idea how to access it. Lacking any clear idea of what to do he decided to try and brute force the solution; trying every likely action he could think of until something finally unlocked its potential. First he placed his finger against the map and concentrated, willing himself to appear in the Castra Praetoria. This method of use seemed the most likely, as it would explain why The Controller had locked it away. Can't have any of his contestants escaping from the contest. He opened his eyes again to find himself in exactly the same spot he was when he closed them. He rethought his approach, perhaps this map was some kind of puzzle, in which powerful magic had been hidden if one could put their mind to discerning just what that was. Thane critically regarded the map, attempting to peice together the names of locations into the words of incantations. He was interrupted by something clattering to the floor next to him. He shot to his feet, his hand going for his soulblade, as he spun around. There was nobody there, and odder still his soulblade was lying unsheathed on the floor next to him. A quick mental check informed him that although his opponents were on the move, none had ventured in his direction so far. A sudden thought gripped him and he glanced across the exhibits surrounding him. In each of them were standing imposing and bloody figures in the midst of their executions, or torturings. But none of them seemed to have moved. He carefully picked up his soulblade and sheathed it again, and then rolled up the Map of Rome. He needed somewhere more secluded where he could study it without interruption, though such a place existing in The Controller's own private museum seemed pretty slim. For the moment he would be satisfied with a method of carrying the map that left his hands free.

In the exhibit in front of him, a frozen tableau of a dingy and lightless basement where a figure stood chained to the wall, as another sliced and hacked at the first's surprisingly realistic flesh with an array of rusty and stomach churning implements. The thing that caught his attention was a brown shoulder bag that the torturer was wearing. It would do nicely, once it was emptied of all it's inefficient torture implements. Thane walked up to the exhibit and climbed up onto the podium. He stepped behind the lifeless torturer attempting to disconnect him and his bag. Thane struggled for a moment before a heavy metal object thudded into the side of his head and then dropped to the floor with a crash. He stepped back again, surveying the area for otherwise unseen assailants, but could not find any. Frustrated by these unexplainable events he returned his attention to parting the torturer and his bag, only to find the torturer turning around, bloodstained knife in hand and a wide grin across his face.

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Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by cyber95.

Pluck stared at the display in front of him. It was a rather lifelike animatronic, but waterboarding wasn't that bad, compared to what he had seen last round. He would have figured that somebody like the Controller would have more malicious taste in a museum of torture.
He moved onto the next display, which featured a lovingly crafted scene of a man being skinned alive. The speaker at the base of the display projected screams of agony and the sound of skin being peeled from muscle, making it particularly gruesome to be around.
It was a little bit odd. Was this really a museum? If it were a proper museum, things probably would be grouped together based on some sort of similarity, but these displays were haphazardly placed around wherever they would fit, it seemed.
Pluck wandered over to a display of a man cut up all over his body. The animatronic had a gag on it, and there was no speaker with it, so it seemed like a better place to collect his thoughts.
He thought of Immortus, and immediately regretted his decision to not start taking programming classes back in middle school. Had he known that artificial thoughts from an artificial intelligence were entirely viable for his powers, he would have had much more ease using them.
There were also his fellow contestants to think of.
Algernon seemed nice enough, if a little bit loopy, but who could blame him? This situation was enough to make any normal person go a little bit crazy. The fact that he could have some gaps in his memory as to what happened probably wouldn't help. If they ran in to each other, an alliance seemed like it could work. He would have to be careful, though, in case he were unstable.
Thane was dangerous. There was no doubt about it. He'd need to be ready to fight or flee at any point upon meeting with Thane. He did, however, seem vaguely reasonable, and could perhaps be collaborated with for mutual goals. And then hopefully throw his trust to the wind as soon as those goals are achieved.
Acacia seemed nice. Pluck, unfortunately, didn't manage to get to know her for too, long, but she would definitely be a candidate for working together.
Pluck did not want to spend any longer than was strictly necessary with the elf.
He didn't know very much about The Countess or Lucas, and couldn't really form an opinion on them. The pile of bugs known as Ouroborous either, but he at least knew "stay the hell away" was a priority order with it.
Even then, there was the fact that one of them was likely dead at the moment. That just meant, however, that there was less to keep track of.
Pluck looked over to the display. It was rather creepy looking, as the knife continued to "slice" at the plastic man's skin. He thought of Immortus, and in a moment of self-parody, struck a dramatic pose while staring intently at the man.
He wasn't expecting his power to go off. After all, there was supposedly nothing with any thoughts to give. Behind him, however, was most certainly what one would describe as the Grim Reaper.
Pluck ran away from the display and the reaper as fast as he could go.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Holly strolled down the hallway, the thought that she should have taken some robes briefly tugging at her mind between exhibits. She briefly stopped at a very gruesome, if a tad cliche, one: a man sitting atop a literal throne of skulls, driving a stake into a peasant's head. She then heard some clomping down the hall and dived around the corner just in time to see Pluck careening down the corridor to another exhibit. Raising an eyebrow, Holly decided to go back in that direction to see what all the fuss was about.

Once she arrived at the exhibit the werewolf had fled from, she quickly understood why. A rather perplexed skeleton was carving wires out of a knifed robot; fittingly, his torturer didn't notice it. "CURIOUS. NORMALLY THERE'S NO WOUND AND QUITE A BIT OF SOUL, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND."

Holly briefly weighed her options, then shrugged and walked up to the skeleton, tapping it on the shoulder. "Hey, um... I don't think that's a person."


"See, there's this werewolf... hmm. Maybe I should just explain the whole thing."

"No, no, you are. Kind of. I think. But this guy isn't dying, he's a machine. I don't really get it either, but that's the only assumption I can come up with given all the wires. Say!"

"WHAT?" The skeleton swirled his scythe in the air, clearly growing more than a tad bored.

"If you're the reaper, that means you know where people are, right?"


"Well, I'm looking for this girl named Acacia..."

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Thane's arm throbbed, as he pulled his soulblade out of it's sheathe. This was rapidly becoming a problem. He was in a battle to the death, at he was not fighting at full strength. He was going to have to do something about this, just as soon as he had finished dealing with the myriad of other things he had on his mind at the moment. The torturer stood there, staring into Thane's eyes a creepy grin across it's face. In it's hands it help a rusty hooked blade, with a jagged and bloodstained edge to it.
"A new victim?" The torturer asked, "But oh my someone's already started torturing this poor poor soul. Just look what they have done to his face... How simply ingenious." Thane stared at the torturer, attempting to discern it's nature. It seemed too life-like to be a simple machine, or a mannequin. It's voice portrayed real emotion, granted the emotion was of a sick joy at having found a new torture subject, but emotion nonetheless. Thane wasted no time, he thrust forwards with his soulblade. The torturer was quick, nimbly ducking beside the blade and dodging behind Thane. Fortunately it was not too bright, opting to stand behind Thane and attempt to carve a hole in his thick armour with its rusty little knife. Thane span around, slamming his elbow into the head of the torturer as he did so. There was a resounding clang as Thane's armour collided with the torturer's head. Probably a machine then, thane idly mused, as he watched the torturer stumble around with it's head in it's hands. But one that is not aware that it is a machine? He continued. Wasting no more time he sliced his soulblade around at the torturer, embedding it in its chest. The torturer looked down at where the soulblade peirced it's fake flesh and just stared for a moment, before it began laughing maniacally. Thane dislodged the sword and prepared for a second swing, when suddenly the torturer had dashed out of sight again. He spun around to find the torturer leaping at him, attempting to slice his face open with chaotic swings from its rusty blade. He dodged to the side and grabbed the torturer's arm with his own, quickly and efficiently bringing his soulblade down and severing it's arm. The torturer gaped at its severed arm, and began cackling again, attempting to throw itself at Thane, despite now being without a weapon. Thane dropped the arm to one side and grabbed the flailing automaton by it's head, swiftly decapitating the machine. For a moment it seemed that even this was not enough to quell the frenzied blows of the furious machines, but after a second or two the machine ground to a halt and toppled lifelessly onto the floor.

Thane sheathed his soulblade, grabbed the bag from the torturer's mangled chassis and emptied it out onto the floor. He grabbed the hastily discarded Map of Rome, the torturer's mechanical arm and hooked knife, stuffed them into his fashionable new accessory and slung it around his neck. From the other side of the room he could hear a soft weeping coming from the other automaton, the one that was chained to the wall while the torturer slowly cut into the fake skin of it's exposed chest. Thane walked up to it, staring into it's sad mechanical eyes.
"Help me." The victim pleaded, its voice reduced to nothing more than a whisper.
'You are just a machine' Thane thought. 'The pain you feel is synthetic, no more real than you yourself.' The machine sobbed, more heavily this time. Thane ignored it. To continue attempt to debate the nature of pain with a machine would be a waste of his valuable time. And furthermore, he needed assistance. He wasn't sure that she would be able to provide it, but he had little option at this point in time. He jumped down from the exhibit, and walked to the approximate middle of the corridor so as not to trigger any more of those annoying automatons. Satisfied, he started towards The Countess.

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Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

There were all sorts of people/robots on display. The Controller pretty much had a whole zoo in here, a zoo where the exhibits were on the brink of death and possibly past the climax of pain. Interestingly, most of the displays he passed hurriedly were of humans, or at least humanoids. There were a few that looked animal-like or alien, all with the familiar Homo sapien-ish form. Then there were apparently sentient plants. And giant meatballs. And things with tentacles and living appliances and beings made out of water. Sometimes they had a torturer with them, sometimes they stood alone. They were bound, whipped, dangled from the ceiling upside-down, roasted, boiled, tied to a table and had water drip agonizingly slowly on their heads, forced to watch their friends die, forced to kill their friends via mind control, torn apart and a host of other interesting torture methods that Algernon always tried to avoid looking at. The pleading stares directed towards him were always the same. The torturers, if there were any, sometimes looked at him with suspicion and/or longing for his unmolested flesh. It creeped him out considerably and he just marched faster until they just turned back to their own charges.

Finally he stopped in an area that seemed devoted entirely to the devices of torture rather than the demonstration of devices. Standing in the middle, finally no longer feeling pressured by the many stares that had been directed straight at him, Algernon let himself relax. He was still in a place that pretty much threw uneasiness at him like so many snowballs, but at least the barrage had lessened somewhat. He glanced around at the various devices. There was a clamp that squeezed the head to crushing point. A metal cow that would hold someone as a fire roared beneath. Some sort of strange metal thingie that he had no idea what it did. Something that was rather small and rectangular but opened up to reveal a mess of grabby things and slicey things and some other things. He dropped the open device in mild confusion and nervously wiped his hands on his pants. The smart thing to do would be to take something that could be used as a weapon. Even though most of them weren't sharp in the slightest, they could easily be used to smack someone upside the head. But not only did he feel rather uncomfortable stealing from the Controller, he felt uncomfortable carrying around something used for torture.

He was just hoping feebly that if he stayed here, nobody would bother him when a furry brown blur rushed in from apparently nowhere and collided with his back.

Pluck leaped up on his feet extraordinarily quickly and whipped his head around, apparently looking for something. Algernon stayed on the floor, waiting for the worm to stop its mini-tantrum before rubbing his throbbing head. "Um," he said carefully, hoping not to startle the werewolf. "Is there something...?"

"There's a Grim Reaper."

It took a long time for Algernon to reply. "The Grim Reaper was a torturer?"

"No!" Pluck replied, agitated.

In disbelief, Algernon said, "The Grim Reaper was being tortured?"

"No! He wasn't one of those exhibits!" Seeing a lack of any looming black cloaks or threatening scythes, Pluck stopped looking like a prairie dog who knows its being stalked. "I...I accidentally made it."

At this point, the dark-haired man finally sat up. "You accidentally created a grim reaper."

At his tone, Pluck got defensive. "I didn't think that it would work on robots! And I didn't know it would be the Grim Reaper!"

Algernon sat and thought for a moment. He was in a museum of torture with rather life-like robots and Death was roaming the apparently-infinite halls looking to do his job. He had a werewolf with him who still looked rather worried and, strangely enough, watching him worry was really calming him down. Somehow, this new situation made everything a little sillier and easier to deal with.

After a moment of thought, he said, "I'm a little thirsty. How about you?"

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

Acacia's adrenaline rush began to fade out just as she slipped among a group of jet black monoliths. She spun around to assure herself that the mad axmen troupe hadn't seen her, and slumped to the floor. She stared at her gun disconnectedly, tracing the metal plates with a trembling finger. It was incredible. A few hours ago she'd been in the heart of Eden, planting bushes. And now…

Someone was dead. She didn't know who, but it couldn't have been Holly unless there'd been some blessed act of God in the few moments she was out of the classroom. She was just… ugh. At least Plags didn't get all up in your face and attempt to solve your personal issues.

A flash of a reflection in the monolith caught her eye. She twitched her gaze upwards to meet the gaze of a mad axmen, albeit reflected. But it was strange. He didn't look like he had murderous intent. Her train of thoughts was promptly derailed as she suddenly realized just how stunning the monolith was. Jet black, eerily smooth, and that shine. It probably had virtually nil friction. She stared, mesmerized, wondering what it would feel like to touch…

Her hand halted mere inches away from the black stone, compelled by the simple reason that to even go near such strange objects was incredibly stupid. She snatched her hand back, heart thudding, and stumbled away with more haste than her feet could work to.

A irresistible need to look back informed her that while the troupe had indeed caught up with her, she hadn't been the only one to get trapped by the gorgeous gloss of the monoliths. Fortunately, she had been alone in refraining. And while the automatons certainly weren't smart, they were still human enough to scream.

She was sure her hands would never be steady ever again,

Acacia vaulted over a short case containing an ostentatious hand clamp (which, after a short thought, she removed for ammo purposes), and leapt up to a higher glass case which offered a better view of the surrounding area. Most of the exhibits weren't encased, for purposes of chaos and carnage she assumed, but they were often enough that she could probably hop from case to case for a little bit. Hopefully it was strong glass. Acacia whipped off the hood to wipe the sweat off her forehead, but returned it with a discreet gulp.

As it turned out, the landing was the easy part. She didn't even make much noise with her boots still attached to her belt and the boomer's stealth setting on full power. It was the starting of the jump that brought the tears to her eyes.

After about six of these, the scientist collapsed over the delightfully graphic reproduction of a classic Jack the Ripper murder. She'd only paused for a few moments when she noticed the impressive form of Countess gleaming dully in the warehouse lights not far from her perch. She didn't seem to be moving with much purpose, merely strolling through. Acacia was content to watch through the eye slits of her hood for a short while. The Countess was a curiosity. They'd only met briefly during the birth and death of the quickly collapsed alliance, and parted ways when the elf stole her calm.

She tilted her head. Dislike of Holly was a mutual link, but she didn't trust someone who could stroll through a place like this like it was a vaguely amusing lab. And there was the other complication of the lack of a method of communication.

Whatever. It was time she actually did something.

Acacia slid into a crouch on top of the case, and tossed the hefty hand clamp up and down in her hands. Up and down, down and up… The Countess twitched those incredible legs forward just a little closer, and Acacia slammed it down at her.

There was a gleam of metal, gone in a flash, and the situation a moment later entailed the Countess holding the clamp and staring up at Acacia with those terrible blank glass eyes. The botanist shuddered a little, then staggered backwards into a standing position. The case made a mildly worrying noise not unlike a moan.

“Hey, Countess. Don't bother to say anything, I won't have a clue what you're saying. But it looks to me like you're getting a bit complacent. Don't mind me saying so, but this round is the one where people are going to calm down and start thinking, and that usually involves some form of alliance in this sort of situation. Unless those involved are marvelously brain-dead, but you'd hope that as the cream of the crop that wouldn't be the case. Anyway,” she leaped down off of the case, gasping a little as she hit the ground. “If you see Holly, shank the bitch me for me, will you?”

It was at this point that Acacia did what everyone in such a horrendously awkward social situation should do, and futilely attempted to get of sight by running the opposite direction of said social awkwardness. That lovely section with the nooses up ahead was looking particularly inviting by comparison.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

The Countess stirred, gingerly rotating her shoulder and neck where Wrath's brutish fists had done some damage, before the scrabbling of steel claws on concrete were audible in the intermittent darkness. The clacking shifted in pitch as her fingers met, then smashed, through a porcelain sink. She scooped up the pieces, flashing bone-white in the flickering pulse from beneath the door as it strobed across the floor. The shards were swallowed up, ground to powder upon the vicious teeth; the dust assimilated in the slag as the other hand busied itself probing, plucking and generally teasing out the buckled cogs and warped pins.

Downing those too, the Countess stood with a more leisurely roll of her head, and tried the door. It didn't open, but anybody not in a wild panic could've figured eventually it opened inwards. The lack of a doorhandle also may've worried lesser folk, but the Countess just jammed her talons in there and pried the thing open.

The pulsing light wasn't coming from the next room, which was a dead-end hallway leading to three tiny cells, one of which the Countess had appeared in. The pathetic bulb which hung at the corridor's end was dim, but persistent.

No, the strobe was, in fact, coming from the door opposite the Countess' - so bright it was unsatisfied with scarring the retinas of its own room's inhabitants and went muscling its way into others. Either way, it was bright. A nagging feeling of familiarity with this place failing to disappear, the amalgam examined three dials by the door, fingering a grate which amply covered a slit in the thick steel. The first two dials were set pointing perfectly up; the last one scaled down to zero (though all were unmarked, and their colour had faded with age). Curious, the Countess flicked the hatch and peered into the awful excuse of an intimate dance club, before twisting the first dial to its high setting.

Oh, she thought, as her lenses scrolled out of the way, the actual sensors emitting a huff of ash before they reconstructed themselves, that one's brightness. Ducking forward and flicking that to a smoother blend of dark and light, she twisted the next dial, this time using a little more discretion. Through the gaps, the Countess saw the pulse's frequency increase, melting into an epileptic blur. She toyed with the dial for some time, stopping only when a strained moan could be discerned above the constant flicker-click of the strobe light.

The Countess lowered the levels to something more manageable, and managed to discern a prone human form. Studying it for a long hard moment, she reached out, placed her fingers upon the final dial, and slowly turned it up.

At first there seemed to be no change, but about one third of the way up the prisoner's demeanour changed. He struggled up into a sitting position, finally turning to the door, seeing the inhuman eyes staring back. His sleepless, emaciated features pleaded at the Countess, who simply kept raising the level. The man's look of desperation morphed into horror, and the strains of the torturous song finally greeted the Countess. It was an unmelodious, grinding piece whose inane, drawled lyrics of love and environmental responsibility were at awful odds with the mad, monochrome scene playing out in the cell.

The Countess raised the volume until the man's sobbing and screaming couldn't be heard any more. She shut the hatch with a snap, and departed the grim little corner as she tried to find her way out of the walking tour reconstruction of the prison.

Steel feet clattering down a carefully confident path, the Countess finally pushed open a barbed-wire topped fence and stood beneath... well, it wasn't concrete. A ceiling, located an indeterminate distance above whose only qualifier was "very high up". Still, she recognised it.

The museum. The amalgam had been allowed to tread these hallowed grounds on less than three occasions, and each had been a twistedly delightful day to remember. It was with a little smirk the Countess realised, of all the weapons of cruelty and torture displayed in the Controller's extensive collection, the most torturous thing for the Countess was to have her too busy to savour it.

Snickering quietly with admiration for her master, the amalgam strolled with practiced grace down the center line, avoiding attracting the attention of any animatronic robots. As she passed an exquisite display of the final stages of Chinese Bamboo Torture, the first green shoots peeking through the victim's midriff, the Countess skittered and seized the clamp. She planted her feet a little more securely, ready for a fight, when,

“Hey, Countess. Don't bother to say anything...”

The amalgam had the good sense to not, as the twitchy Acacia finished her tirade.

“If you see Holly, shank the bitch me for me, will you?”

There was a moment of contemplation as the Countess considered divesting herself of this simpering facade for the first individual to take her seriously. Before she could offer the scientist a six-talon salute, she had sprinted off. The spider-woman gently placed the clamp on a display stand, and looked around for the right exhibit. A dank, medieval dungeon, a chopping block, and a coveted millstone in its backdrop. Concentrating pointedly on a few deep switches and gear shifts, a passable imitation of the Controller's voice intoned from the steel-trap jaws.

"Go and find some guests to entertain. I'll take care of this one."

The executioner appraised the machine, nodded, and stumped off with his axe. Wasting no time, the Countess scurried over to the whetstone and set it in motion, wincing a little as the inner edge of her index finger sharpened to a scalpel-sharp edge. The process was far from pleasant, and left her whole hand feeling rather raw and numb by the time she'd finished. Looking round the display, the spider shuffled forward, resting a solid foot on top of the condemned's skull and leaning over, slicing a clean line of red down the length of his spine. Beneath, as the Countess peeled back the exterior, it was not flesh and bone but steel and circuitry. The metal looked especially appealing the the clockwork surgeon, who was scoring gently across the ribs to facilitate their extraction.

Three ribs later, the condemned robot had quit struggling, and the Countess finally spotted Thane observing the procedure from some ways off. She waved a claw, and waited for the Old One to approach.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.


Holly nodded, grinning, and headed off in the direction the Reaper had indicated at the beginning of their little conversation. Stopping at an exhibit depicting someone on the receiving end of a branding iron, she turned to him one more time. "This little meeting was great, Grimmy, but I think you should get back to work. Here's a parting gift, however." At this, she whipped out two books-- one she slammed to the floor, the Discourses of Epictetus; the other, Plots and Puppetry: The Comprehensive Index Of Conspiracies, she disintegrated immediately, flinging it at the skeleton. After this, she immediately transmuted the former, creating a tremendous mound of rock in between the two of them. She briefly listened through it, to make sure the "gift" had taken.


Holly emitted a chuckle of contentment as she headed off through the maze of exhibits, until eventually she reached a particularly captivating exhibit. She peered in at the cages that had been set up throughout: warped and mutilated bodies cried out in anguish, one of them gnawing and scratching at its own flesh in a futile attempt to kill itself, and it seemed as if the scientist in charge of them was setting to work on creating another. Holly briefly winced at the suicidal specimen, who she assumed was meant to be one of the earliest examples; its flesh was putrid and rotting, the occasional robotic worm wriggling its way through a gaping hole, and its arms jutted out at angles that, while seeming quite painful, seemed considerably more awkward and unplanned. Holly cocked her head, her stomach turning slightly. She'd never seen something quite this impossibly sadistic, and as its inhuman requests for release continued to flood her ears, she felt compelled to turn away. Walking a few feet over, she found a much less grotesque specimen: still in a quite pleasing amount of pain, but not so much so that she was having trouble bearing it herself. Troubling thoughts wormed their way through her mind, and she briefly frowned; quickly, however, she recomposed herself and sent the emotions flowing out of her fingertips, coalescing atop the unfinished specimen and cracking its arm under the weight of a putrid new mound of infected flesh.

The scientist briefly started and turned around, noticing Holly, who stood there paralyzed, rapt with fear and interest. In one fluid motion, he whipped out a tranquilizer gun, which only barely missed her; she quickly bolted away as fast as she could. Oh shit oh shit oh shit, why did I do that, I should have put it on one of the cell ones, oh god, oh shit. The scientist and his Generic Hunchbacked Minion, who Holly might have laughed at had he not been carrying a rather large device emitting sparks at a highly irregular frequency, gave chase, and Holly shuffled her pack upwards in the hopes of protecting her neck, occasionally attempting to hit them with her whip but managing to do very little in the way. A few turns afterwards and she was running out of steam, but they weren't; on the other hand, she had very nearly reached Aic, and if she could just lose these two-- yes, this exhibit just around the corner would be perfect, she just had to be convincing. Holly dived inside a mass grave dug by some reprehensible tyrant, bodies burned, sliced or simply shot pouring in at an absurd pace. Transmitting her fear around her, she managed to create a pile of dirt much like that in the exhibit; listening desperately, she was able to hear a mumbled conversation between her pursuers, followed by an exasperated sigh and their departure. Holly exhaled heavily, slowly rising from her self-made grave to determine if they had, in fact, left for good.

Sure enough, the scientist and his lackey had left; and although Holly was now surrounded by guards, they were luckily armed with no more than spears, and she quickly dispatched one, exited through the gap he created, and slashed at the rest until they all laid dead, or as close as a robot can get. The elf shook her head. "Sorry about that, boys, but I'm sure you'll be repaired fairly quickly." At this she walked off, silently thanking the Controller for having such historically accurate exhibits.</font>
Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Proceeding through the museum, Thane had done his best to ignore the assorted exhibits. He did not care about the portrayals of human suffering that they depicted, for he was not human. As much as he tried to convince his body of this, it could not help but feel sick to its stomach when it saw a particuarly gruesome scene. Finally he reached the Countess as she began to slice into the body of one of the machines. He approached the exhibit with caution, watching carefully, and silently, as she used her own sharpened finger to slice open the machine, her cuts almost surgical in their precision, and continued to watch as she started to pull the metal ribs of the machine out of its still struggling body. He was beginning to think that this was a bad idea. Ironically the procedure that The Countess was doing had simultaneously convinced him that she was the most capable and the least trustworthy of his fellow contestants. Eventually, The Countess noted his presence and waved a claw indicating that he approach.

Thane walked over, his attention focused on the machine which she had worked on. As he looked down he became aware that its lips were still moving, despite the hole in it's back. Its eyes were scrunched shut, fake tears streaming down its face. Thane could only guess that it was praying to die and be released from this torture. He made no comment; he had no sympathy for most humans, he had even less for automata that merely believed themselves human. Though his attention was turned to her handiwork, the Countess was focused on Thane. He had been the one contestant she had not encountered in the previous round, and consequently she was not sure what to make of him just yet. After a long and careful examination of The Countess' handiwork he turned to her, knowing that he had to ask the favour he had come here to request.
'I will skip the pleasantries.' He thought curtly. 'I want something.' His arm, still aching from the gunshot wound, plunged into his newly acquired bag and produced a clumsily amputated mechanical arm. 'Can you replace my arm with this?' he asked. Part of his mind dreaded the answer either way, he had no guarantee that The Countess would follow through on any promises that she might make, and could leave him helpless and bleeding, a meal for Ouroborous. On the other hand he could not continue much further into this competition without some form of medical attention. 'I will do something for you in return.' He thought. 'Just name it.'

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Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by cyber95.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

The Countess hummed, the crystal little note barely audible over her body's perpetual whirring and ticking. There was a final gasp from the gagged robot as she yanked out its bolted, valved heart. She fastidiously examined it, raising the thudding device as she fluted,

"And what would be your punishment if I refused?"

'I am bleeding out as we speak, Countess.'
The Old One's thoughts rasped through the amalgam's mind, implicitly warning her that this abomination had nothing to lose. The Countess' head rotated to face Thane, the rest of the clockwork monster unmoving. One hand, tips dyed red (and Thane could smell, with a dubious sense of relief, that it was just red dye) unlatched itself from the heart and motioned.

"Let me see that. No," she said, a claw pinging against the proffered arm. The jaws creaked open a little wider. "Yours."

Thane couldn't help but recoil a bit. He hissed at the Countess, anger making his thoughts a bit louder, a bit more jarring to the listening mind.
'I already removed the bullet.'

"Hmm. I presume you maintained the human musculature?

Wh-? Yes. The Countess peered up and down the twisted shell, head tilted, figuring the balance between her knowledge of cybernetics, how badly she could screw Thane over, and how useful the Old One could be. She nodded, clashing in her eerily sedate way down a row of increasingly futuristic displays.

"Follow me. The exhibit I require is ahead."

Thane did so, studying the displays down this walkway with less empathy and more caution, unable to ease the misgivings he had with this disturbingly unfazed beast ahead of him. The victims in these exhibits were less often human, though a bloodied form still occasionally featured amongst the energy blades. The Countess heard Thane's footsteps slow as he paused to comprehend a huge, magnetic chamber; the Old One didn't realise how eerily similar its powers, over a robotic mind, were to his own over a human.

The Countess whirred over, hit a button to activate the chamber, and watched the roughly humanoid droid. Its voice, starting out smooth and rather youthful, warped and screeched as it begged for the smirking clockwork to turn the machine off. Garbled pleas that it'd say anything, everything, were curtailed by its thrashing form freezing, and returning smoothly to a static, standing position. The Countess already scuttled off, having played with this exhibit before and knowing how it ended; Thane lingered as a voice barked,

"WHAT IS YOUR NAME?" The droid's head jerked mechanically toward the noise, before replying in a robotic, soulless monotone,

"Error: Root command "Your" not recognised." There was a pause. It was probably Thane's imagination, but the toneless voice might've been tinged with regret. "Error: Data root input command "Name" unavailab-" its voice started cracking up again as the demonstration completed, the robot twitching violently as it had its memory rewritten. Thane rejoined the amalgam, glancing occasionally at more of this futuristic torture.

'What are these, Countess?'

"Artificial Intelligence, dear. Robots. A little beyond your time, I think. From what I understand, the first minds humans built. They could've been what humans were too scared to make themselves.

But they had to be petty. They had to be so stupid and ugly and selfish and cripple what should've been their successors with their archaic notions of what it meant to know, to be aware." The Countess' synthesised voice didn't shift from its musical airiness, even as fingers danced out and hit switches, tapped at keyboards, filling the air with the agonized keening of machinekind. "They didn't have to do this, Yt'hroloth. They didn't have to teach them what pain was. Senseless," she smirked. "So senseless. And with pain, in turn, they were condemned to fear. Rats begetting rats. It's simply tragic."

The Countess stopped by an expansive display; the biggest Thane had seen in the museum. Doubling as a repair facility for the animatronics, it was also demonstrating how more were made, if the whimpering wreck in front of them with his blood being pumped out and replaced by oil was anything to go by. All manner of futuristic, vicious tools loomed overhead on mechanical arms, primed to take apart and reassemble a human with deadly precision. The Countess' smile widened.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

Acacia was huddled on the floor in the middle of a clearing facing an exhibit when Holly found her. The elf moved cautiously closer, hoping to elicit some kind of reaction from the curled up figure before she had to make the first move. It was just… awkward when you didn’t know who it was sitting there. But surely she must have been able to see her? It wasn’t like she was trying to hide -

"Stop," Acacia croaked in her metallic voice. She immediately grasped at a small bunch of black cloth by her right hand, almost protectively. Her whole pose was that of defence, with her knees brought up to her chin as she hugged them. Her gaze remained locked on an exhibit straight ahead.

"Who’s in?"

"Acacia, moron. Aic would be delighted by this."She vaguely waved a hand in front of her as to indicate the scene enacted by the automatons. Standing out from the horror was a thin and bony man with an impressive nose, dressed in the same style of white coat as Acacia. He lacked the intricate collar that she wore but the similarity between the two was undeniable. And, around him, several pitiful excuses of people writhed, covered in boils and harshly disfigured into shapes and forms some of the more twisted among them may have found entertaining.

A moment was taken to let it sink in all over again. The same familiar scene. Not lost, just misplaced. Her voice was quieter when she regained the pluck to speak again.

"The Plags. And that guy in the middle? That’s the General of the Last Sanctum. Lovely guy. He spent hours on his fucking ‘experiments’, swearing every day he was inching closer to curing the poor bastards that just littered the planet. Like trash. Just trash."

"Why are you telling me this? Does the poor little scientist miss her world? What's your problem?"

Acacia spared the elf a scornful look.

"It’s important for you to know. I need to explain just what manner of shit you’re dealing with here with your gamble with Aic." Acacia sighed, clenching her hands as if that would convey her frustration.

"I pity you, Holly," she spat. "You had everything. Everything single thing I somehow managed to lose. Parents. A blissful life. A atmosphere it was safe to breath, for pity’s sake. You’d never realise how much you begin to miss good clean air not breathed in through a mask." She covered her face in her hands and made a small shrieking noise with her boomer.

"But I’m losing the point here. Aic, your little love, belongs right in this museum. Standing right next to that bastard up there. But hey, what do I know? Maybe that sounds like fun to your depraved little mind!

"But don’t tell me you’re right at home in this place. It’ll have got under your skin, at one point or another. That’s just it, I guess. This place is the worst of humanity and everything else in these damn universes. Your personal nightmare is lurking somewhere in here. Waiting. Maybe you’ll never find it. But it’s still there, because it’d be too much of a coincidence if it wasn’t."

There was a short period of quiet.

"Maybe that’s your cure, Holly," she murmured.

Acacia went abruptly silent again. Suddenly, she kicked away from the ground, stretching out into a standing position with surprising alacrity for her previous stillness. She skidded and swirled around to face Holly, her eyes glittering in the dim light. Her left hand held the black cloth, but the right held another object entirely. It’s shining surface winked at the elf.

Holly scrabbled for a book at the sight of the gun, but Acacia just laughed. The shrieking cacophony of a metal hell rang echoed around the exhibits.

"Don’t worry. I’m not gonna hurt you, Holly. Just a few minutes more of my monologue. Trust me."

The tearing of paper and the flash of smoke made it quite obvious that Holly didn’t give a damn about Acacia’s word. Sadly, it only ended in that fantastic and terrible laugh. Head tossed backwards, Acacia was practically screaming out her mirth. Holly merely looked on, stunned.

"Nice one. But trying to calm down a nihilist never does much, I guess. Anyway." Acacia shook out the cloth, revealing the executioner’s hood. A grin was growing on her face that Aic would have been proud of. "You know what’s funny? I always thought it was a little ironic that it was the people killing the condemned who wore these, and then they’d go ahead and hand out virtually the same thing to the person being hanged. So," Acacia yanked the hood down over her head.

The gun clicked in her hand.

Acacia tilted her head, and settled the shining weapon against her skull.

"What is it today?"

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

Through the whole speech, all Holly did was sit there, sweating, staring. A scowl faded to shock, and she quickly brought out her whip and lashed the pistol out of Acacia's hand. Holly sighed as the pistol skidded across the floor. The elf briefly started to say something, but paused to get her thoughts in order. Swallowing, she began.

"Listen, Acacia. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I want to make one thing very clear. I don't buy your 'poor me, Aic's running rampant' act. Everyone you knew is dead, and that's terrible." Holly winced at her own ineptitude; she'd never had to sympathize with someone, and she felt like a fool. "But I don't think you're as virtuous as you make yourself out to be." She gestured at the General. "I don't know what this guy was like. Maybe he was mad, doing it just for twisted pleasure. But he was in your little group, wasn't he? So I see two possibilities, and neither seems to mesh with your portrayal of yourself.

"Possibility number one: The man was goddamn insane, and just doing it out of a twisted pleasure. But who wouldn't have gone insane, knowing they were the last hope for their species, one of a miniscule group holding out against a horrible sickness? Whose brain wouldn't break completely, leading to ever-increasing neuroses to the point where they had become unrecognizable? And, more importantly, who wouldn't start seeing them as things to be discarded at pleasure? Nothing you've done has given me any indication that you're saner than he is.

"Now, the second possibility is that he actually had more of a grip on things than you think. It was rather an important undertaking, wasn't it, keeping the species intact? Something tells me they'd check to see if someone was completely nuts before they involved them in the operation, let alone gave them a position of such high esteem. You say he swore that he was getting closer to a cure? Maybe he was, Acacia. Maybe he was just doing what people of your ilk are supposed to do with their smarts, namely, try to fix things. If you objected to his experiments, why didn't you try to find a cure yourself? Yeah, you're a botanist, sure. You've never heard of medicinal herbs? It didn't once cross your mind that maybe, just maybe, you could breed a cure for the sick bastards? Of course it didn't, and I know why. You wanted them to stay sick so you could keep causing them pain.

"You aren't a good person, Acacia. You can tell yourself you're the better one all you want, but that doesn't make it true. From what I've seen of you and Aic, the 'sociopath' is a lot better at forming a connection than you are. But hey, I like her. Maybe that's just because I'm biased. But I want to know right here and now: Why would you construct a persona who served only to be a sadist? You know what I think, Acacia? I think that deep down, you needed Aic for only one thing: a vent. She gave you an excuse to be a sadistic bitch to people who were already in the worst state they could imagine, and if you ever felt guilty about it, you just shuffled the thought away, saying 'oh, it was Aic. She's not me, it's not my fault that my body just slaughtered hundreds of innocents, somebody else was in control.'" Holly walked closer to Acacia, staring her down. "Trust me when I say this, because I am an expert in the subject: You are nothing but a sadistic little bitch, Skammer."

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

"It's very nice juice," Algernon commented as they walked through the halls. Pluck just grumbled.

Apparently, Algernon had been very distracted. It had taken several tries to even get a drink and then several more to get the drink he wanted. They had ended up getting some crayons, some markers, a tiny elephant, a little wind-up turtle, a squid, a flashlight, some tea bags and a whip in that approximate order. Creating that many items hadn't exactly put him in a good mood. Algernon had simply picked up all the items and tried to stuff them haphazardly into his backpack. Except for the squid, of course. They just left that lying around.

"You know, I hardly remember the taste of juice. I'm not sure if it's because it's been so long or because I just forgot."

"Mm-hm," the werewolf sighed. He was sure that the man beside him knew that he couldn't care less about what he was saying. He wasn't sure why he was still talking.

"I mean, if I make food or drink, it has to go away at some point or this stupid worm'll just keep on eating memories. So as soon as I eat them, poof! There it goes and I'm as hungry as before. It feels a little weird. I don't even dare waiting 'til after I've digested. Probably would hurt."

"Uh-huh." Pluck spent his time glancing idly at the various displays they passed, sometimes averting his eyes quickly and remembering exactly why he didn't want to look at them, sometimes just staring, bewildered. One that made him double-take was a display that had several people strapped to a chair, their eyes forced open. They were watching a movie he didn't recognize but apparently it was very horrible. One of the victims was frothing at the mouth. He wasn't sure whether to find this worrying or hilarious.

Algernon sucked the juice box dry and, reluctant to litter in a museum that belonged to a sadist, tucked it away in his pocket. "You know what would be nice, it would be nice if--"

"Oh god," Pluck interrupted, eyes widening. "Did you hear something?"

"Huh?" The werewolf shushed him and the two just stood there listening. Eventually, they could hear somebody muttering and a sound that, if one had to describe it, would probably describe it as bone rattling on the floor.

"It's him. It's Death. C'mon, we gotta go the other way." Algernon shook off the werewolf's grip on his arm, looking much too calm for Pluck's liking.

"Hey, it's Death. He doesn't actually kill people, you know. I think. Actually, I'm not sure...but he doesn't come for you until it's your time, right?" Pluck looked back at the infuriatingly calm Algernon.

"We," he breathed out, not sure whether he was hyperventilating out of panic or out of irritation, "are in a battle. To the death. More likely than not, it is our time. So let's go! We gotta get out of here!"

Algernon frowned and opened his mouth to say that he didn't think merely running away from the personification of death meant running away from actual death, especially since this wasn't the real Death, just one made from a torture-robot-victim's mind (?) but then Death turned the corner and glared at them. Or would if his face had any muscle. Or skin. Or eyes. The two stared at him.

He stared back.

Algernon waved his hand cheerfully before Pluck quickly grabbed it and wrenched it down. "Well, he doesn't seem too bad so far," he commented.

"I hate you why are you so calm why can't you panic like a normal person." Pluck hissed.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE," Death barked, striding towards them. Pluck started tugging on Algernon's arm again.

"Alright, we've stared at the face of Death long enough can we go now, please?"

"Um," Algernon replied, finally noticing how Death's blue pinpricks that served as his eyes darted around suspiciously and how he was muttering under his non-breath unfounded accusations of treachery and general suspiciousness towards those around him. Mostly Algernon and Pluck.

The two started running the other way. Death kept his slow stride but somehow seemed to keep pace with them. And was gaining. As Pluck hissed some 'I told you's at his direction, Algernon was slowly picking up the panic he had somehow lost, as if he had just remembered he was in an insane battle that was taking place in an insane, disgusting museum and

"I hear buzzing. Do you?"

Pluck and Algernon almost ran right into the cloud that was Ouroborous.

The cloud of bugs turned its attention from one of the torturer animatronics, having been confounded at tearing away at the flesh and finding only strange inedible stuff underneath. A whole mass of questionably-sentient bugs turning as one to analyze some possible new prey was a very interesting sight indeed, but neither Pluck or Algernon bothered to observe it as they were too busy running away from both a swarm of death-bugs and Death himself. Luckily, the torturer decided not to take chase as well. He was just relieved that the mass of insects finally left him alone.

"Alright, I think I have a plan," Pluck shouted and he turned slightly to be able to see their pursuers. "Think of, I dunno, an impenetrable glass cage or something!" He barely waited after that command and watched as something popped into view.

"Oh Christ," the werewolf moaned as they ran even faster. Behind them was a strange creature, what appeared to be a cloaked glass exoskeleton of a bug wielding a fancy scythe. "Why. Why did you think that. Why."

"When you're being pursued by something incredibly dangerous, your mind tends to be occupied by whatever it is you're being pursued by!" Algernon shouted back, now completely panicking. Pluck wasn't sure whether he preferred him in his calmer state.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

"It won't be that arm exactly," explained the Countess, as she tried to look like she knew what she was doing, "but the machine can affix an arm, yes." A prompt from the Controller led the automaton to a terminal, where she drummed her talons over the keyboard in a non-committal manner while the Grandmaster set up the protocols, loading up some kind of preset. Lines of text and circuitry diagrams whirred by in an incomprehensible mess, which the Countess could only stare at while idly regretting her ineptitude for learning this kind of thing.

the Countess rapped the enter key sharply, as Thane returned from his investigations of the workshop. There was a dull beep, and one of the looming crane-claws chirped and whirred into motion, appendages unfolding and revealing an array of vicious surgical equipment.

"Hop up on the bench, dear. And remove your armour whi-"

No. The amalgam shrugged as the Old One sat down on the edge of the operating table, pretending to read over the streams of data while humming a little. One sickle-claw drifted over the keyboard, waiting to execute; Thane didn't miss the monster's hesitance. Doing little to allay his misgiving, he started, Countess- Her head spun around, affixing Thane with that almost insectoid array of lenses; cold, but apparently curious as to what he had to say.

Slowly, deliberately, her steely finger lowered and pressed enter. Thane hissed and reached for his sword, but a mechanical arm reached down and cuffed his wrist. He leapt off the operating table with a snarl, ducking under another arm as it lunged for his throat, only to miss the third one which seized his other, injured arm by the shoulder. More claws descended, silvery blades flashing as the Old One was slammed onto the table and stripped of his armour. The Countess approached, smirk affixed on her intricate features, to take a better look at the restrained but struggling Thane.

The Old One turned his head enough to lock eyes with the clockwork arachnid, and hit the amalgam's mind with the most vehement blast of fury he could muster. A garbled shriek that was barely audible above the enveloping whir and squeal of machinery gave Thane some satisfaction, before a his concentration was shattered by a glowing sawblade lowering in front of him.

The Countess stood with difficulty, her screams replaced with the captive's as the energy blade carved its effortless way through Thane's arm. As she scuttled out of the repair facility, she bitterly hoped the machine would just rip the wretched creature to pieces.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by whoosh!.

Silence settled over the two of them as Acacia kept her muteness. She simply kept her eyes trained on the confident elf’s, who complied in the locking of gazes.

The mask didn’t move, but a finger twitched. An astute onlooker would have recognised it as her trigger finger, but the movement barely registered with Holly. A sigh slithered through the black cloth of the hood, and Acacia rolled her neck, apparently delighting in the ensuing cracking. Her fingers flexed less inconspicuously than before, then she proceeded to crack them too, knuckle by knuckle.

Only then did she deign to speak, softly and almost playfully.

“Of course. The poor little brat can’t see any other shade of light than the darkness she painted for herself. You must be feeling pretty blind - bitch!”

Acacia’s elbow slammed down from nowhere into Holly’s face, staggering her just as she was kicked to the ground. After the flurry of the next few seconds Acacia was holding her gun and the elf was on the floor. The weapon dangled from her fingers, but it slid round to focus its aim at the elf the second she made a move to get up. Her initially playful voice had shot into the realms of pure white hot fury.

“I’m not taking this bullshit. You think you know Aic? The fuck you do. Right now she’s screaming like a Plag. She hates being cooped up, especially when she’s getting that craving for the particular writhing of someone who’s just had their legs snapped. Y’know? She hasn’t properly hurt anyone for days now, and she’s get a bit twitchy.” Acacia readjusted her slippery grip on the pistol, her eyes glittering in the darkness beyond the eyeholes of the hood.

“Again, you like the idea of that. Your little monster, and together you’d be untouchable.” Acacia’s voice cracked a little, but she continued in her tones of mechanical hate. “But newsflash, slut! She doesn’t give a shit about your little feelings! She doesn’t even care about how much fun you’d have together!”

She lunged forward and grabbed the elf by the neck. The pistol did not waver in its focus on her face, but her voice dropped to a grating hiss.

“She’ll kill you the very second you stop being useful.”

Then Acacia punched her.

A hurt, shocked quiet rushed in to accompany the stillness of the scene. It almost seemed like embarrassment as Acacia blankly stared at her hand. Just staring at its trembling, at its guilt. Holly, meanwhile, simply laid a delicate touch to the raw red part of her face where the offending hand had struck.

And then she started to laugh. The scientist flinched away, staggering even, under the sheer derision of her reaction.

“You’re delightful, Acacia. You don’t even seek to contradict me in my accusations. Slick.”

The hand struck again, all the strength of a raging fury behind it.
And so the laughter burst forth again, this time rising to almost hysterical levels. The elf was curled over in her mirth, weakly beating the floor with a loose fist. From the woman in the executioner’s hood, there came only a small shriek of machinated frustration.

A hit after a hit after a hit, all the pent up feelings that this woman inspired attempting to break out and destroy that terrible, soulless, beautiful source –

And then a fully-fledged scream. But still, the perverse laughter rolled out above it all. Glowing orbs flashed through the air in perfect accordance, until Holly was standing over the crouched and panting form of Acacia. She attempted to lash out again, but the elf just pushed her back effortlessly.

“How delightfully stupid. You don’t even seem to have grasped that this isn’t even hurting me anymore. No, instead, I’m just passing it right back to you.”

Acacia raised her head from her slump of exhaustion to stare at Holly with a look of sheer, unbridled hatred. But she stayed silent. Holly lifted a hefty book and smiled back condescendingly. “And that is how it’s going to keep on rolling if Aic won’t grace me with her presence. Won’t you get her for me, darling?”

There was a small pause, and then a scratchy noise was heard by the elf. A little like someone was attempting to engrave words into the very air.

“I’m sorry?”

Despite the idiocy of the action, the sheer regret that only the truest science of hindsight would provide, Holly leaned in a little closer to her hostage.

“You forgot about it, didn’t you?” The botanist rasped with a voice like a rusted machine hoping for life still.

There was a small moment of confusion and consideration of these words. But it was only very small.

Because it was pointedly and soon interrupted by the full throttled scream of the boomer in the sensitive ears of the elf. And after that, it was all too quick for the manipulator. All too soon.

“You want her?” Acacia’s voice rang out from the shadows, but they pressed from all around even under the wan warehouse lights. Perhaps it was a trick of the boomer, or just some fluke of design, that made the direction of the voice so unplacable.

“If you want Aic, then come and get her.”

The crack of a gunshot leapt through the air.

The games had begun.

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MrGuy.

The world slowly came back into focus, although Holly's headache was nowhere near as cooperative. She groaned and pressed against a nearby wall. There is something on my ears. After further inspection, Holly found that the lobes had some blood caked on. She winced and pushed off of the wall, doing her best not to fall unconscious again.

Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. I have to find her before something bad happens. Holly focused on the surrounding area, combing it for any trace of Acacia's current emotional signal (Holly assumed that the best match was something along the lines of "gleeful self-superiority"), which noticeably exacerbated her headache. Eventually, she managed to pick something up, and a single bead of purple dye coalesced in the air. The elf moved towards it and did her best to create more of the droplets, and slowly but surely, they ushered forth. A pained smile came to her face.

Holly set off on the trail roughly as quickly as she could, doing her best to consider what she would do once she finally came face-to-face with her quarry. Whatever I do, I have to disarm that sonic... thing. Then I can show her how to inflict proper pain, not her pathetic imitation.

The elf briefly glanced into a diorama of a parasite slowly taking control of somebody's entire nervous system. She didn't know whether to chuckle or feel nauseous again, so she decided to just pretend it wasn't there. She sighed and went back to closely following the trail. For an instant, a nagging doubt popped to the forefront of her mind, but she shut it out in the hopes of getting her act together.

Dear god, everyone involved in this is either insane or clueless, and I'm no exception. Didn't somebody say that the insane can't realize they're insane? Is that proof that I'm sane, or am I just proof that it's wrong? The elf briefly looked into another exhibit, this one apparently being a replica of a cannibal's kitchen. That guy probably knew he was nuts. Didn't stop him from eating people. She shook her head. Indeed, with the exception of Algernon(?), Pluck(???), and the knight whose name she had already forgotten, she was pretty sure everyone involved was certifiable.

For an instant, Acacia seemed to phase into Holly's field of vision. The elf rubbed her eyes, revealing it to be a simple mugger who was apparently about to have his neck snapped by a vigilante in a rather unique mask. She sighed and kept walking. Doesn't matter. Have to stay on the trail.

And so she went, occasionally looking at an exhibit, constantly following the trail. Unfortunately, there was one thing Holly hadn't realized, namely that her foreboding feeling earlier had been completely justified. There had, in fact, been what amounted to a fork in the road. Upon reaching the end of the trail, Holly cursed and began rubbing her eyes again. This time, the apparition did not disappear, mainly due to it actually existing.

Holly would have been fine with admitting she made a mistake, however embarrassing it might have been. She simply wished that she had found out about it in a manner other than coming face-to-face with none other than the largest threat in the entire battle.

The elf closed her eyes, groaned, and raised her hand halfheartedly. "Hello again, Countess."

Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Thane thrashed and railed against the bindings, projecting angry thoughts to any receptive mind in the immediate vicinity. He had been stupid to believe that he could trust anyone in this competition, well actually no, he had never really trusted The Countess, he had had no reason to. He had acted on a calculated risk and unfortunately his calculations had turned out to be a little off. He had believed that she would act more logically than the rest of his competition, but here he was trapped in the consequences of The Countess' illogical actions. Pain coursed through his body as the machine sliced into his body, but he lacked the resolve to do anything about it. There had been a small pinch at the back of his neck that he had not thought anything of at the time, he had had more pressing issues, thinking back he considered it more than likely that it had been some kind of mild anaesthetic, not enough to take away the pain because where's the fun in that? Just enough to stop the subject from thrashing.

For a little while he just lay there and endured the pain, until he was suddenly dragged back to reality by a glimpse of a young boy with strawberry blonde hair and a shining golden soulblade. The figure stood over him, staring hatefully into his corrupted eyes. Thane was transfixed. What he was looking at was not possible. This boy was dead, he could not be here, and alive. But Thane refused to acknowledge the possibility that he was a hallucination; if there was one thing that Thane was then that thing was 'in control of his own mind'. The boy was still there, glaring silently at him. Then a peice of machinery elsewhere in the room loudly clattered to the floor and when Thane's glance returned to the boy he was gone, vanished as though he had never been there. Thane slumped back against the cold metal slab, his mind racing. For the moment he could do little more than wait for the machine to finish.

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Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by Godbot.

“You could have warned me you had an overactive imagination,” grumbled Pluck. “See if I ever use you to summon anything again.”

They passed what looked at a glance like a plexiglass cell dominated by a set of spindly metal arms hanging from a disc mounted on the ceiling. Another animatronic was strapped to a stainless steel table inside, his screams muffled by the plastic walls.

“Can't you materialize a carcass or something, to distract the bugs?!”

“I'd just have to dispel it eventually, like with the juice. Then they'd just go back to chasing us. It wouldn't work; Just keep running!”

Something sparked in the werewolf's eye. “We don't have to!”

Uh, yes we do,” Algernon insisted . “There's a swarm of bugs and the Grim Reaper after us, and, thanks to you, there's some some sort of Bug-slash-Grim Reaper now, too.”

“That was your fault. Now stop whining and distract the glass reaper. I have an idea.”

Pluck skidded to a halt and turned to face the rampaging insects, headed by the glass exoskeletal reaper. “You're insane,” grumbled Algernon, but he turned and drew his newly-made whip, for lack of a better weapon. As the glass reaper approached, raising its scythe, he cracked the whip clumsily against the floor. It was little better than a piece of rope in Algernon's untrained hands, but it was enough to make the the reaper hesitantly drift just a little out of range of the wild swing. Algernon tugged at the whip, reeling it back in for another strike.

The more he saw of that swarm of bugs, the more obvious it was that it had a one-track mind. All it cared about was eating anything and everything that moves. Even each other.

Disgusting, Pluck thought, just before emptying his mind and reaching out to the collective consciousness of the swarm of bugs. But it did have its advantages. If Algernon couldn't materialize something to sate Ouroborous, Pluck would just use what Ouroborous was always thinking of.

Even if he couldn't read thoughts, the effort of reaching out to tens of thousands of minds all at once, each one with very slightly different thoughts from the last, hit Pluck like a wall. But they were just similar enough; there was one image that was just barely there, bits and pieces of it in every mind at once. It was as if he could reach out and touch it, but not feel it, like the imagined object itself was blurry -

Pluck's head cleared, and his eyes drifted back into focus.

For a long moment, two identical Plucks stared blankly back at each other, one on his hind paws, the other half-sprawled on the floor and staring up at him. His leg was broken below the knee, and twisted backwards at a sickening angle. The Pluck on the floor winced, pulling his leg into a sitting position. “What's- ?”

He was cut off by his own screaming, as mandibles clamped around his wrist, spraying blood. All around him, papery wings fluttered and appendages tangled together in a jagged, writhing mass. Pluck cried out and tried to tear it away, but the Ouroborite held fast, raking a claw across his arm as it tried to hold on. Another of the insects slammed into his upper back, screeching in his ear and scrabbling at his shoulder. Pluck was knocked off-balance and pitched forward, crashing on the tiled floor to a further crack of his leg. A razor-sharp proboscis grazed the side of Pluck's muzzle, carving away the flesh along the side of his face. Drawn to the smell of sweat and clotted blood, three more voracious jaws made it to Pluck's leg before their comrades, shredding his calf muscle in a frenzy. Pluck howled in fear and agony, the torn half of his face splitting open a little more. A barbed tail shaved across his flank, and more Ouroborites lunged for the fresh wounds. A quivering, twitching hand slid against the smooth tiled floor, trying to grip and pull free as a set of mandibles snapped shut around his skull.

Blood pooled on the floor, stretching through each thin gap between the milky-white tiles and forming a ruby-colored grid. As the tip of one line reached Pluck's feet, he wiped the vomit from his mouth and turned, breaking into a stumbling run. Algernon's cries of protest were drowned out by Ouroborous's triumphant collective shriek.
Re: The Gradual Massacre (GBS2G4) [Round 2: The Museum]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Oh and there's the shriek again.

Algernon cringed in anticipation and it took him a few seconds to realize that he wasn't collapsed on the floor nor were his ears bleeding. Still, the screech that the Ouroborous was producing was rather annoying. He should be grateful, though, considering that he wasn't a writhing wreck on the ground, disorientated and helpless and OH MY GOD THERE'S SOMETHING GRABBING MY ARM.

Instinctively, Algernon wrenched his arm away from the Reaper (one of them, he had no idea which one) and turned to flee. Unfortunately, the arm he had to wrench away was the arm that was holding the whip. The whip swung around even as his arm stopped moving to hit him soundly on the head and he blindly rushed (or stumbled) in a random direction and ended up running into a wall. Actually, that wasn't possible, there were no walls, so it must have been a glass display case. Or, equally possible, the floor, which is exactly what it turned out he ran into.

The young man shouted a lot of curses that involved Pluck and his bitch of a mother and how he wasn't very nice and stuff (Algernon wasn't that good at cursing people) as he ran in a random direction that didn't have him going right into a solid object, nursing the large welt that was now growing across his face.

Pluck was right that his idea would serve as a distraction, but unfortunately, Algernon had wasted most of the gained time being clumsy and humiliated as he seemed to be nowadays. Ouroborous had already fed upon Pluck's body and the Glass Ourobreaper won his soul and all three of his pursuers were pursuing him again, all much closer than they had been before. On top of that, he was getting rather tired and he had a sneaking suspicion that his lungs had been burning to ashes the past few minutes.

Once again, Algernon found himself desperately trying to figure out how to deal with this crappy situation and pinballed from 'panic like a bitch' to 'be idiotically detached from reality' and back again before finally settling on a reasonable medium: 'think of some sort of great spectacular plan with a bit of urgency.'

Well, he didn't think of a great spectacular plan. It wasn't even a great plan. In fact, it seemed a little stupid. But he didn't have too much of a choice right now.

Looking wildly around at the displays, he chose a rather large one and looked around for a door. As soon as he walked in, however, he had to dodge a large axe swing from the torturer that lived in this particular exhibit. Immediately regretting this plan but still determined to see it through, Algernon glanced back to see how far behind his pursuers were before moving to kick the axe out of the hooded torturer's hand. Remembering that not only was the torturer more muscular than he but also robotic, Algernon decided to spare his foot the pain and instead clumsily cracked the whip in front of the obstacle to drive him back. He ducked around the hulking man-bot and past the victim of this exhibit to the far side of the room and the large man lumbered around towards him just as a swarm of bugs hit him right in the back, followed closely behind by two scythe-wielding personifications of death.

The torturer stumbled and turned back around to deal with these new intruders and Algernon took this chance to grab some long-handled weapon off the wall at random (it turned out to be a flail) and got ready to run back out the exit again to make his escape when he passed the tortured man on the slab again.

He took a deep breath. It's a robot. Not alive. Devoid of feeling. Unfeeling robot. The welts aren't real, the cuts aren't real, the blood isn't real, that smell of death is simulated...

Algernon opened the bonds with a nearby key hanging on the wall and helped the man up. Despite his feeble look, he was a little hefty. He actually smelled like something, to Algernon's surprise. He smelled old and moldy. He bled on his clothes, adding to some of the muck that had caked on long ago. He whimpered and moaned when he moved. As Algernon got him to lean on his shoulder and led him as swiftly as possible out the door, he dragged his feet and sighed. His breath was horrible and his beard scratched itself on his cheek.

Ouroborous and the Reapers were still busy with the torturer, who swatted and sliced the air and got bitten and torn in return. Algernon dragged the prisoner out with not too much trouble, though Ouroborous turned as one at the smell of blood. He quickly pulled the door shut behind him before the swarm of bugs could follow him out and, letting the tortured robot slump against the glass, he jammed the flail in the handle. He didn't think bugs knew how to handle doors and he was pretty sure the Grim Reaper had no need for them, but it was better safe than sorry.

"Okay," he said as he coiled up the whip and slung it over his shoulder. "Um. Do you think you can walk...?"

Turning to look back at the prisoner he had so recently rescued for no apparent reason, Algernon saw that he didn't look like he could do much of anything. The man was lying on the floor, staring blankly at the ceiling. He looked a lot like he was dead. But...did robots die...? Was there anything that happened that would have killed him? He didn't see anything...

"Um." Algernon nudged the man slightly with his foot and he grimaced. It was then that the young man realized that the victim he had taken out of the glass display looked a lot like he was still lying on that slab.

Before he could let the oppressive feeling of the meaninglessness of his actions depress him, Algernon couldn't help but notice that while Ouroborous was settling with the torturer and Glass Ourobreaper was wondering when a soul would come up for him to eat, the Grim Reaper was starting to make his way through the glass as though it weren't there. After all, there is no room that can hold Death.

No time for despair. Algernon turned to run again but was slightly too slow. He felt a slight chill as a bony hand rested on his shoulder. Though it was impossible for Death to even breathe, he thought he felt an icy breath fall upon his neck. It may sound silly and melodramatic, but it felt a lot like death.