The Fatal Conflict (GBS2G7) (Round 4: The Huntsman's Garden)

The Fatal Conflict (GBS2G7) (Round 4: The Huntsman's Garden)
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Eversist.

Bellona cursed her luck. While she hadn’t detested her years in the ring, she was looking forward to returning to her previous life. Maybe she could have become a lenista (gladiator trainer)… or a mother. She was getting old; at 23, she should have had multiple offspring by now.

<font color="red">“…one thing in common. You’re all dead!”

Oh, right.

Well, she thought morbidly, even the Underworld would have been a relief.

But it seemed that this man (Zareh… Zairee was it?) was intent on dragging her back. She mentally twiddled her thumbs in agitation. Clearly, this man likes to hear himself talk, she brooded, not really paying attention.

While this strangely dressed man finished his speech about their surroundings in his peculiar, ugly language that Bellona somehow haltingly understood, she fingered her necklace. The man had called it a “trinket,” implying it was useless. And for all of Bellona’s intents and purposes, it was. She had no idea what it did. Typical of gods to give you a “gift,” and not even give you a hint as to what it does, or the possible consequences. She inhaled the stale air deeply and sighed.

With that, she sensed the air around her began to flow again, which implied the individual barriers surrounding her and the others had lifted. The others. Bellona hadn’t even begun to take them into consideration. Bellona crouched and gripped her spear, and as her eyes swept across their rag-tag group, she fixated on the Strongarm character. A barbarian! Bellona did not envy the demoness and spectre that had materialized next to him… maybe neither of them had a sense of smell. “Uncivilized, rancid heathens,” her father had told her. She smirked.

She knew better than to confront any of them in the open like this. Her training told her it was better to sequester one or two opponents off from the others… effectively, pick them off one by one. But for once, she wasn’t interested in picking a fight. The setting they had been placed in piqued her interest, and she noticed the demoness, the atrocious mess of a human, and time-disregarding man quickly leaving the group. They must have had the same sentiment.

Bellona stood up straight. She wasn’t much of a shopper. She was intent in testing this “barrier” Zairy had mentioned. Escape wasn’t exactly on her mind, but should always be entertained as a possibility. It was prudent to know the limits and particulars of your battleground.

Coming to a decision, she shifted her shield and spear onto her back, and shot off down the street. Running on this flat surface was effortless compared to the sand back home. She flew past shops which names and purposes hardly registered... the alchemy shop, a pharmacy, a tavern, a clothing store. Slipping on a discarded hand, she decided to concentrate on avoiding the bodies littering the street… what had happened to this community, anyway? Had Zahaire killed this town’s population, for the sole purpose of having a theme-appropriate setting? Bellona wouldn’t put it past the twisted tyrant. She shook her head violently, and again re-shifted her focus to the sound of her sandals slapping the foreign, black ground.

She flitted past an alchemy shop, a pharmacy, a tavern… Wait, what?

She trotted to a stop, narrowly avoiding tripping over a corpse in her bewilderment. She was back where the group had begun. How was that possible? There’s no way she had turned around. The street ran straight, east to west judging by the position of the sun… assuming this world had the same astrological rules as her own.

The ear-piercing sound of glass breaking snapped her out of her musings. The demoness had emerged from the tavern on the left, and was trying her hardest to start a brawl with the swordsman in a thick, slurring voice. This ought to bring no end of amusement, Bellona thought.
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

[color=#000040]It's a pretty typical assumption regarding barbarians that they have two emotional states: bloodthirsty rage and horny. That's really a silly assumption; barbarians are just as human as anyone else (as anyone else that's human, anyway), and are capable of experiencing the full gamut of feelings. It just so happens that this particular barbarian went immediately from Stereotypical Barbarian State B to Stereotypical Barbarian State A through no real fault of his own. Really, anyone would have. Imagine yourself about to dive into a sea of divine naked flesh, then suddenly plucked with no fanfare from your afterlife, then paralyzed and caged and ordered around like an animal. Now imagine you have a giant axe and know exactly where the man at fault is. Not one person in a hundred would react differently than Kargrek did, civilized or not.

Namely, the hulking warrior swung his axe into the air while yelling a guttural command word; flames coursed dramatically up the enormous weapon's handle and wreathed the blade in flickering red. Once the enchantment was activated, the barbarian swung Strombald over his shoulder and, ignoring the other contestants and their habits of slinking off alone, thundered down the street with a single goal in mind. Each stomp brought him closer to the coffee shop, and each corpse he passed was just one more milestone on the road to vengeance. Ordinarily, the scuffle forming between a sloshed demoness and some other guy would have been interesting for a number of reasons, but there was a more important goal glaring across his mind.

Leather-wrapped feet skidded to a halt outside the oddly-colored frontage of a hipsterish little coffee joint. Kargrek's face, already a rictus of fury, scowled further. An enormous hand balled into a fist; niceties like doorknobs were far from the man that was fury incarnate's mind. Splinters scattered across the little caf
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Kaitostrike.

Luron had fought many foes, and braved many trips, but this one took the metaphorical cake. This Redeemer troubled him; maybe even scared him some, but Luron wouldn't show that. As soon as he had been freed, he checked his persona. Everything is intact.
The next thing on his mind was to check his surroundings. He gazed at the dozens of bodies that littered the region. It didn't trouble him much, seeing as he knew them not. But the place gave off an eerie aura. Perhaps fitting, given the contestants situation.

He quickly moved his thought away from how he himself had died, and put it on the other contestants. So everyone else here has died... Mostly, at least. Not missing an opportunity, he examined the other contestants thoroughly.
But as soon as he could get a good look at the undead herbalist, someone grabbed his attention.

"Do you... Do you want to fight, beca... Because I wanna kill you all, and maybe eat your throats, wait, not throats, why would I want to eat your throats? I don't know...

He turned his head to look at the demoness. Confusion stacked upon sheer awe, this puzzle of a creature became obviously clear when he noticed the liquor bottle she threw against the ground. Well, that explains plenty.

"I'm just going to kill you all and win this con... this this contest... Is that okay with you, Lurry?"

This, Luron had a problem with. As he tried to speak, it became clear that the hell spawn was not finished talking; or babbling, as was the case. As she continued to ramble on, he grew increasingly angered. Finally, when she seemed to stop for half a moment, he unsheathed his sword. But it appeared she still was not finished. As she conjured a ball of fire with a mechanic instrument, it became obvious only action would resolve this. He raised his sword, putting it between the demoness and himself.
"Leave now, or else you will be the first to die."

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by piester.

" Woah woah... WOAH, ke-keep that thing away fr-from, I... I am not gonna, hurt you, I'm uh... Going to kill you, I'll make it extreme... EXTREME... ly fast... It... won't hurt a bit. I said I would not ki-hurt you... I never said anything ab-about killing though... Ok-okay that... was a lie... I am going to make this hurt as much as possible for you... because I... I like enjoying the... uh... the kill!"

Laura simply struggled to laugh and played her guitar terribly, causing her Fireball to flicker and Go away, and a Nearby Fire Hydrant to Explode into a giant, continuous eruption of water.

"Uh... Shi... I me-mean I me... meant to do... to do that... Yeah"

She simply mumbled to herself about ways she could use all that to her advantage, when suddenly she thought of a good one, she played some more on her guitar, except this time she actually tried when she was playing it, and caused all the puddles of water that had fallen from the nearby geyser of water to form a giant sphere of dirty and probably unsanitary water to form, and then it slowly but surly started to float towards Luron.

"You... You know wh-what?" Said Laura, as she Flew up around two stories high, before stopping and flying in the one place. " I am going... to let you... you get a te-te... Ten second head start... Before I surround you with this mur... murky water and watch as you slowly dro... Drown in this Dirty water, if you... you don't drown, the Bacteria will probably kill you... then... Not tha-that the head... the head start will stop... me... me from kill-uh...
Killing you... yeah, that's it!" Said Laura, who was flying above Luron Menacingly now.

"Now... I'm going to be drinking my Liquor while you tremble in fear, you worthless piece of crap... You'll never win agains't me!!!" Said Laura Smuggly, before looking for her other bottle of alcohol.

"Where did I pu-put my Other... Other Bottle?????? Oh right... I smashed it on the grou... the ground... DAMNIT!!" Said Laura, In a puzzled way.

"You... you son of a bitch... YOU CAUSED ME TO SMASH MY OTHER BOTTLE ON THE GROUND IN ANGER!!!!! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU RIGHT NOW!!!" Said Laura, who completely forgot about her Plan or the whole ten second thing and just swooped down to Choke Luron in rage.

This caused her to forget about all the stuff she was controlling with her guitar, which by being forgotten about, Stopped what it was doing and Simply turned back to normal.


Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

As Kaja walked into the pharmacy he was surprised not to be met by the sickly sweet smell of fermenting potions, or the bitter tang of discarded reagents gone bad. He was taken aback that the air was not thick with the steam from the banks of slowly distilling potions that did not exist. Instead there was a scene that was all but completely alien to him; a grim storefront packed with bottles of prescription medicines and packets of pills, and at the back of the room, a counter replete with cash register and pamphlets about health and new exciting medicines that you might like to try. Essentially, aside from the smell of rotting flesh it was a fairly typical pharmacist for the world in which it was situated, and now that you mention it the smell of rotting flesh was pretty typical for world in which it was situated. Doctor Lorrden cast a critical eye across the shelves in front of him; headache tablets, cough syrup, laxatives and so on. As he read the name of each one his disappointment grew greater and greater. By the end of the shelf, when he thought that his disappointment in this world’s alchemy had plateaued he came across packets labelled ‘hair dye’. For just a second he did not react, and then suddenly he was sweeping the useless products onto the floor, and kicking over the shelving, cursing under his breath at this miserable excuse for a pharmacist’s. Looking at the potions created in this pharmacy, made him feel sick. They were insults to the true craft of an alchemist; someone who would brave the wilds to procure rare and valuable reagents. Someone who would brew potions to combat plagues, or mix poisons toxic enough to melt through the armour of a foe. As he stood there, staring at the shelves of inferior potions that purported to be the work of a pharmacist he grew angrier. This building was an affront to him; a mockery of the world that he held dear. His hands started moving automatically, fishing a dash of infernal powder from one of his pouches and a silphid eye from another, and acting simply off instinct he deposited them into his contraption, turning a valve as they boiled and mixed together. His hands were a blur as he manoeuvred the mixture through the contraption by instinct alone, quickly decanting it into one of his breakable flasks he hastily grabbed from the straps that crossed his chest, and finally popping a cork into the flask. Holding the gently bubbling mixture in his hands, he took a last sorry look around this building that purported itself to be a pharmacist’s and left.

The doctor emerged from the building without so much as a backwards glance, his face set in grim tableaux reflective of the anger and of the insult he felt from this sham of a chemist’s, and as he did so he discarded his freshly brewed concoction over his shoulder, into the midst of the fallen medicines. As the mixture bubbled and fizzed, he strolled out to the middle of the road, and turned on his heels to watch. A look of grim satisfaction spreading across his face as the angrily fizzing liquid audibly hissed as it reacted with the air. The reaction grew by increments, and after a minute or so had passed it combusted, blasting through the shop. The explosion tore the door from its hinges, sending it flying into the street, where it skidded to a stop centimetres from Doctor Lorrden’s feet. The windows shattered, scattering shards of glass across the pavement and corpses which lay upon it. The explosion was pretty minor really, the quantities of the reagents carefully measured out to provide just enough force to destroy the building while leaving the surrounding areas in tact. His reaction was not one of triumph, he did not grin sinisterly as he watched the controlled explosion rip through the pharmacist’s. His face remained impassive, the only satisfaction he gained derived from the fact that an affront to his profession had been wiped off the face of the earth. Glancing around him he suddenly became aware that the eyes of the other contestants had become fixed on him and the smouldering remains of the chemist’s.
“My apologies.” He said, miming a tip of the hat to his fellow contestants. “I did not mean to interrupt you all. I just happened to find that building distinctly distasteful. I promise if it has to happen again I will try to give some warning.” And with a bow he turned and marched towards the coffee shop.

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Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Sruixan.

This is probably a reserve. Probably. It depends on two things:

1. How long it takes to create, albeit not cook, a cottage pie
2. Whether or not I waste an hour figuring out the piano part to "Roygbiv" by Boards Of Canada now that I have the bass
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Sruixan.

Every word the Redeemer spoke pushed Zachariah’s heart further down into stomach; the weight of such an inconvenient and ineffable reality as the one he had had the great misfortune of having been thrust straight into was too much to bear without bending. The realisation he had fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book was another nail in the coffin; but of course, the eccentric he’d struck the deal with had no need to harm him. There were seven other people here who would be more than happy to do that (eight if one counted the being who was overseeing the engagement). Despite his lingering presence in the world of the living, Zach felt like he was at something of a disadvantage in this battle; after all, every other fighter here shared the exact same unusual characteristic.

There was no way that was the end of it, however; that peculiar choice of words, “bisecting his soul” and the appearance of his corpse beside him caused yet another pang of anxiety to manifest itself in what was once his brain. The connection was made to the odd wording of his saviour’s claim and something clicked. As the Redeemer revealed the twist to his participation in the battle, the ghost of Zach had just that moment twigged it.

His passion for the rational was being sorely tested. The innumerable impossibilities that had befallen him were mind-boggling and doubtlessly inexplicable. So he didn’t bother. What he did bother with, though, was trying to wrap his head around the existence of another him – it was a thought experiment incarnate, one that should never be played out in reality under normal circumstances, but here…

And yes, before him now was his ex-cadaver, rigor mortis now dispelled, staring him down with the same expression of sheer astonishment that he knew he too displayed. He could feel his jaw unhinging itself, almost exactly as the other half of himself let his do the same. What was he like? How similar was he, apart from, well, being notably more palpable?

For a moment or two, neither of the pair made any more movements; both were completely dumbfounded, incapable of getting over the obstacle of the existence of their copy. Finally, though, the corpse of Zachariah Shaw broke the impasse to scratch behind his ear.


The utterance that escaped from the ghost didn’t seem to help. The awkward problem of quite how one went about making conversation with oneself was a tad unsettling to both of them, albeit less so for the zombie. He seemed a lot more miffed that perplexed – three days dead had taken their toll and his approach to affairs was now a little different to his counterpart’s.

“There’s something nibbling on my small intestine. It feels kinda funny.”

Of all the ways the ice could have been broken, mused Zach’s ghost, it had to be something as inane as that. Admittedly, he could hardly fault it, but, well…

“That’s… that’s nice to know mate. Um…”

It occurred to him then that the next couple of hours were going to be very, very fun indeed.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Simphonia was a strange ghost-thing, but she wasn't a particularly interesting one. As she explored the house curiously, she poked and prodded at whatever took her fancy. She opened and closed the refrigerator, not minding the smell of rotten food. She tried flipping the lights on and off but found that the lightbulbs didn't work anymore. She turned on a tap and splashed the running water around lightly for a bit before getting bored and doing some other weird, mundane things. Like hugging a pillow and pressing every button she saw. She chirped happily upon finding a broken-down piano in the basement but found that most of the strings had broke and half of the mallets were stuck and she couldn't play the piano anyways. She quickly shrugged off her disappointment and instead examined the sheet music laid out in front of her.

The paper hadn't fared well, much like the rest of the house. The notes on it were faded and sometimes hardly legible and it was impossible to tell what key it was in. Simphonia attempted to hum it, silencing all other instruments besides the piano, but it stuttered and stumbled and halted very often until she grew frustrated and decided there was nothing to do at all inside the house. The notes that made up all of Simphonia poured themselves onto the paper and though it was still as yellowed as ever, the ink seemed to grow crisper for a moment, even move around for a bit as she pondered where she could go, before she traveled away through the papery network onto another sheet of paper somewhere in town.

It turned out the one she had decided to travel to was in a briefcase that had unluckily wound up underneath one of the many corpses that littered the streets. She was not at all prepared for this and the whole bulk of her collided with the lid. Before she could stop herself, she was squeezed very uncomfortably inside, many violins and trumpets screeching out her distress. Fortunately, the briefcase was not built for holding a person-sized entity within it and the clasp snapped, the lid swinging open with enough force to push the suited corpse aside. Simphonia burst out with a clash of brass, rather surprising both Zachs, before she floated around a bit absentmindedly, down to her regular volume and sounding rather flustered and possibly embarrassed.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Eversist.

The great mass of a man was approaching. Bellona reached back for her spear, whipping it around to caress the barbarian’s bulky Adam's apple. The six-foot long javelin kept him at a comfortable distance, but Bellona could smell the muskiness rolling off him in waves. It wasn’t… unpleasant.

“Greetings,” he grunted, accompanied by the slightest nod of the head. Bellona didn’t move.
“I wish to discuss,” he paused, choosing his words, “a proposition.”

Bellona blinked, but betrayed no other indication of recognition. She didn’t expect Strongarm to be afraid of her, but the last thing she had expected was coherent phrases. She lowered her spear point reluctantly, finally breaking eye contact. “What—”

Laura chose that moment to begin screeching at the top of her lungs. Wincing in her general direction, Bellona motioned to the man. “Let us walk,” she mouthed.

The more Bellona saw of this street, the more mysteries it presented. Ignoring the repeating landscape, some sort of loop that Zaire’s magics created no doubt, Bellona was unfamiliar with the products and technologies offered in every single storefront. She should have been at a loss with the language as well, written and coming off her tongue, but Bellona again chalked that up to Zaire’s power. He’s certainly a force to be reckoned with, she thought grimly.

A smattering of chairs and tables was strewn on one side of the street in front of the two. It appeared that a truck had barreled its way through the back of a diner, and busted out the front window. The truck’s charred remains hung awkwardly at an angle, bits of bone adorning the hood; the sign above it read “rby Lane,” the rest of the sign artfully replaced by scorch marks. The gladiatrix righted a wicker chair and plunked down. She nudged another miraculously-whole chair towards the fellow warrior with a sandaled foot, but he seemed intent on standing.

Crossing her legs, Bellona decided it wasn’t time to resort to surprise assaults quite yet. And she doubted that Strongarm had the cranial capacity to have something up his sleeve this early in the game (aside from the fact that he had no sleeves... no garments worth mentioning when it concerned concealing something, really). She was only hoping he had something worthwhile to say. She wanted to investigate this infinite loop; it was a puzzle to be solved. Or maybe go and rough up that demoness, whose cries she could still hear quite clearly in the distance. She began tapping the butt-end of her weapon against the sole of her sandal with a hint of impatience.

Now eyelevel with Strongarm's massive torso, Bellona eyed it surreptitiously. She noted the gashes across its rippling skin that she had failed to notice earlier. “So, you already picked a fight with someone, eh? How’d that go?” she asked, a cheeky smile spreading across her face.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by piester.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

Kargrek pulled a face; he hadn't even considered what he must look like, the minor inconveniences of such trivial injuries having long since ceased to register in his mind. He looked down at himself, arching his back to see the whole of his torso. Taut skin was criss-crossed with livid red scratches from his trip across the street, and a couple of bloody rivulets trailed down his abdomen to the belt that kept his only concession towards modesty in place. In short, he looked as though he had been on the receiving end of much more of beating than had actually been the case, and the barbarian cursed himself for allowing himself to look weak in front of the others, especially one he had plans for.

"Went after him." Not bothering to uncross his arms from his broad chest, Kargrek indicated the dilapidated coffee shop with his chin. There was no attempt at dissembling or hiding his true emotions: his chiseled face clearly displayed nothing but contempt and irritation. Fingers drumming on his left bicep, he spat "Honorless fiend like that can't be allowed to..."; he trailed off, attempting to indicate with his posture and expression the whole of the destruction around them and the situation they were in.

Belonna eyed him, impassive face betraying nothing. Her only response was a curt
"And I take it that didn't go well?"The barbarian shifted his weight and spat on the ground. "Magic. To be expected." The usually taciturn man was having difficulty putting his thoughts into words, especially given how clear the gladiatrix's near-disdain was. Decades of justified pride and an afterlife of honor and glory made it painful to say what he had to, but the ignominy of being forced to fight for some madman's amusement was much greater.

"Even fighting a dragon takes more than one man, and dragons don't reshape the word around you while fighting them."

Mistaking Bellona's continued silence for lack of understanding, the barbarian grunted and shifted his weight again. "If this monster is to dealt with, I can't do it alone. I need..." The increasingly-awkward monologue was interrupted by a particularly loud shriek from the erratic demon; the frustrated swordsman seemed to be dealing with her adequately, her lurching attacks obviously crippled by her extreme insobriety. After a moment of watching the embarrassing spectacle, the two warriors turned back to each other, Kargrek sighing at the foolish creature's apparent willingness to cooperate with Zaire. The supplicatory man moved slightly closer to the silent woman, reaching out one arm to lean against the stricken brick.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Kaitostrike.

Ugh. This just isn't worth it. Luron had no intention of actually killing the demon, but he began to see it as a viable option at this point.
"I have had enough of this nonsense!" He brought the sword broadside, and smacked her in the face. The demoness fell back, and hit the ground. She laid on the ground for a couple of moments; if only she had stayed there. She brought herself onto her legs, and picked back up her deathly instrument. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to hit a girl?! YOU'LL DIE FOR THAT!"
The blow merely enraged her, and soon a large fireball had formed in front of her. Goddammit. Before Luron could do anything else, she launched the fireball towards the warrior.
It quickly engulfed him, and he was sent flying back several feet. His armor was singed, as well as the pavement around him. The warrior remained on the ground as the contestants watching were surprised.
"Huff... Hah... And that's what ya get... Lurry."
The drunken demon stumbled towards Luron, stopping just a foot short of him. Unfortunately for her, drunkards are not known for their reactive skills. The warrior leapt up, and brought his fist through an uppercut, planting it through her jaw. The demon was pushed through the air and smashed against the ground.
"Gah. I should be more careful next time. Should also avoid fighting drunkards. Or demons for that matter."
The sudden attack had disorganized her, giving Luron enough time to grab his sword and leave. As he was walking away, she decided to give one last crude remark.

"Get back here you fuckin' coward! You call yourself a warrior?!" He glanced back briefly, before continuing his stroll. She was in no condition to give chase. And he wasn't ready to end this round yet.
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Eversist.


Bellona’s continual silence was from another bout of intense thought. Strongarm’s halting, round-about way of wording things was slightly amusing, almost cute. Teamwork, he seemed to be proposing. Bellona wasn’t going to turn him down, she wasn't daft. A barbarian would have presented a formidable obstacle on the field of battle, and Bellona would rather put off their currently inevitable confrontation. But the man was proposing taking down the very character that she feared more than this hulking warrior. She glanced over at the conflict taking place not far from them, which seemed to be reaching a sort of climax. With a sigh, she returned her gaze to Strongarm’s wounds, troubled.

“Do you really think challenging a man so ridiculously over-powered, directly, is a wise endeavor?” She made a failed attempt at keeping the condescending tone from her voice. Bellona tore her golden-brown eyes away from his massive chest, and directed them up towards his face. His already stormy facial expression had erupted into a contortion of rage once more.

“This… man has us like cocks in the ring! I will not be his entertainment!” He balled his hand into a fist, and pounded the brick wall behind Bellona’s head, punctuating certain words with the heel of his hand. She felt the vibrations traveling up the legs of her chair.

The irony was not lost on the gladiatrix. The barbarian was (perhaps) unwittingly describing her career for the past three years. She was the product of skirmish for the sport of others. And she did not enjoy this over-simplification of her passion. Bristling, she stood. The proximity of the barbarian made her uncomfortable, and his scent, heightened by his distress, threatened to engulf her. “I am well aware of the situation. But magic is a talent I assume neither of us possesses. How can we hope to overcome the sorcerer without the means of confronting him proper?”

Strongarm waved a huge hand at Bellona’s chest, more specifically at the amber chunk resting there.
“Thought you had something useful there,” he grunted.

Bellona bronze skin colored. “I have yet to figure out a use for this… thing,” she replied vehemently, trying to cover her embarrassment at her incompetent knowledge of her own belongings. The barbarian saw this as his opportune turn to grin, not kindly, at the gladiatrix’ obvious discomfort. Looking elsewhere for the magical power they desired, he though of the demoness, who had earlier conjured a formidable ball of flames. His smirk quickly dissipated into a scowl, as he considered the lush as a potential ally at a distance.

Bellona turned, and following his gaze, winced slightly as Luron bashed the demoness in the chin. Gesturing at the swordsman with a jut of his chin, Strongarm glanced at Bellona.
“Promising.” And seemingly without magic, if had to resort to fists, Bellona mused, leaning her javelin on her left shoulder. Regardless, she nodded in agreement, and watched as he walked away from the floored demoness. She started after him, the barbarian staying in stride wordlessly.

As she strode forward purposefully, her face finally cooling of embarrassment, she felt her chest warming in an opposite manner. She stopped, and Strongarm looked back at her questioningly, stopping yards ahead. Her hand reached for her throat, closing around the amber piece, which was almost hot to the touch. Strongarm’s eyes brightened as he returned to her side, appraising the amulet with a keen stare.
“Look,” he instructed, and Bellona bowed her head, the pulsating shine of the trinket hardly visible in the light of midday. A faint line had formed on the ground in front of her, and she knelt, passing a palm over it. It appeared as if the blackened path had a light source behind it, and the light was straining through cracks in its surface, running perpendicular to the road. Was her amulet causing that?

“Strongarm, have you noticed something… off about our surroundings?” She quickly divulged what little information she had gleaned from her lap around the block.

Strongarm kicked at the meandering line, displacing chunks of loose asphalt. This revealed more rays of light, shining upwards.
“A seam,” the barbarian growled, nodding conclusively. “His way of keeping us here.” But he clearly had other things on his mind, and looked again in Luron’s direction. He began walking again towards the starting point with long strides, already subconsciously skirting or stepping over the discarded bodies that littered the street. Bellona had to trot to keep up, spear held aloft, vastly annoyed at his disinterest in the illusion they had partially cracked. She cast a glance back at the seam, which had now faded to nothing.
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by piester.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

In many ways, the back alley reminded Scott of a service corridor- darkish, not terribly clean, stacks of boxes here and there- and even though there weren't often people in them, there were still always sounds of life. There would be footsteps on the deck above, the distant thrum of engines, and the occasional voice echoing down from a distant conversation, all contributing to the general feeling that, even though it was empty, it was still surrounded by life. Pure, unbroken silence was practically unheard of.

Somehow, the silence in the alley was worse than the street. The street was a strange and unusual place- the lack of a deck above his head was disconcerting, to say the least, and once the initial shock had worn off, the bodies just made it even more alien. The alley, though, was relatively familiar. There was still no ceiling, but the walls rising up on either side of him gave the impression of a corridor well enough without one, and it was just enough for the silence to seem fundamentally off. The street-full of bodies had been horrific and alien, but the silence in this alley was just wrong.

The exploding pharmacy was far from silent, but somehow, it didn't help. The sound echoed down the confined alley, the sudden change from silence to incredible roar to distant ringing noise startling Scott and making him drop the two-by-four he'd been examining. His heartbeat thudded loud in his ears, and for a moment, he worried that the blast had deafened him. "No, no, no, n-"

Hearing the electrical zap of a jump was a bit reassuring, really.

About half a minute passed, and then a Scott appeared in the middle of the street. He looked a bit startled, but not nearly as shocked as he had been immediately after the explosion. He was still looking rough, but he was relatively calm, and even the momentary shock of whatever had startled him faded away rather quickly. He'd had some time in his element, doing what he did best, and that small piece of normality had definitely helped.

That didn't stop him from jumping a bit when someone behind him said,
"You are... Scott Williams, correct?"

"Dammit," Scott sighed, turning around, "have I already talked to you, too? This stress is tangling things up like no other."

The alchemist smiled a small, amused smile.
"No, nothing like that. We were all introduced, if you will recall."

"Oh, right, yeah." Taking off his glasses for a moment, Scott rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Sorry, what was your name, again? I'm terrible with that sort of thing."

"Doctor Kaja Lorrden," the doctor supplied.

"Yes, right, thanks. I-" Scott's watch beeped quietly, entirely diverting his attention from the other man. "Right! I should be..." He pointed at Kaja, not really looking at him, and angled his other arm off in another direction entirely. Turning his head, he looked straight down his outstretched arm.

Kaja followed his gaze down the street. In the distance, the two Zachariahs stood, facing away from them; both were looking at the second Scott that had evidently just appeared near them. The doctor looked back at the Scott next to him, a puzzled look on his face.

Scott took a deep breath and began to explain. "Yeah, that's me over there. From my perspective, that was about five minutes ago. At semirandom intervals determined by my heart rate, a small, temporally-active generator creates a field of unstable time that..." He trailed off. By the annoyed expression on Kaja's face, it was clear that he was talking nonsense. "Okay, let's start again. Every now and then, my body will be thrown unpredictably back or forward in time as an unexpected side-effect of the artificial replacement for my peripheral nervous system. When my heart beats too fast, the electrical generator in my heart becomes overactive, outputting far too... No?"

Kaja was giving him a flat, unimpressed look.

Scott sighed. "Sometimes I'm magically transported into the past or future a bit."

"There, was that so hard? There's no reason to try and confuse me with a stream of nonsense- I'm perfectly capable of understanding complex phenomena."

Scott sighed again. "Right. Well anyway, once I'm done over there, I'll be thrown about five minutes back, arriving in the street right about here, and we'll then have the conversation we just- Oh, hold on a sec." In the distance, the other Scott pointed over to Scott and Kaja and waved. Scott waved back, shouting, "you've got about a minute left, dude!" The other him shouted back his thanks and went back to his conversation, and Scott turned back to Dr. Lorrden. "Anyway, where were we?"

"I believe I was on the way to talk to our host, and you were, apparently, talking to the bisected young man over there." He gestured over at the other Scott, who was going on at great length about something or other.

At the mention of Zaire, Scott paled a bit. "Right, well, you have fun with that, then. I hope your conversation's very, uh, enlightening."

"Oh, come now. Don't tell me you're not curious about the nature of our current circumstances. I'm sure you have a number of questions, and that man is the only one who can answer them."

"Of course I have questions- loads of them! But you know what? I'm okay with that! I lived my whole life wondering about things, and I'm not so worried about them that I want to go talk to some madman who wants us to fight for his amusement! You can go ahead, if you think your questions are so urgent, but I'm not going anywhere near that shop!"

"Suit yourself, then. I'm sure we'll see each other again soon enough."

The doctor turned and began walking away. Scott's mind raced. Kaja was a reasonable, relatively sane person. Sure, he had pipes and things sticking out of him, but Scott had metal wires lining his body, so he wasn't really in a position to judge. Besides, information was always useful in one way or another, and it's not like their captor wanted to kill them himself, right?

The musical ghost burst out of a briefcase near his past self and the Zachs, startling the three of them and sending that Scott on his way.

Really, Scott decided, as far as people went in this competition, Kaja was probably one of the best ones to be on good terms with. If that meant facing the Redeemer, he supposed he'd just have to deal with that.

Taking a breath, he started after the doctor. "Hold up," he said, "maybe some answers are just what I need right now."

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by piester.

Laura lied on the ground, smiling uneasily, she knew she was going to go straight back to oblivion if she died, or at least, that's what she told herself, she was in a new universe, hell, maybe even an entirely different multiverse, and that Inter-dimensional Asshole just ripped seven people out of the afterlife, hell, they killed Death itself, in the back of her head she knew, if she died right now, Good Ol' Oblivion wouldn't be waiting for her afterwords, she was sad, or at least as sad as a being of evil can be.

"Is this what it's like to be mortal? Once you die one, you die for good?" She thought in the back of her head. Her whole life she just took dying as a joke, seeing as it was just a few hundred years before somebody summons you for evil purposes again, and then boom, it's carnage time again.

"Wait a minute," She thought to herself. "Your just drunk Laura, I mean, come on, your a demon!! What do you think you are? A Pansy? Fuck no, you are a cold heartless being of EVIL!! Get up and kick that guy's ass!!!" She thought, before getting up slowly and painfully to well, you know, Kick His ASS!

Walking slowly towards Luron she said "Hey Lurry-Boy, that was a pretty good uppercut their, sorry you had to hit the most pissed off person you could at the moment, you see, I am so going to kill you now, m'kay? Good, because I have had enough shit today, first I was ripped out of hell to kill people who I don't actually hate that much, or at least compared to most people, and then, you fucking PUNCHED ME IN THE JAW!!!!!!!" She said, to which Luron just kept on walking away from her. Come Back here your MOTHERFUCKING LOSER, YOUR A FAILURE, YOU HEAR ME? A MOTHER FUCKING FAILURE!" She screamed at him.

He Just kept on walking away.

"You can see into the future? WELL PREDICT THIS YOU MOTHERFUCKING DOUCHEBAG!" She said before throwing a rock in his general direction, it unfortunately did not hit him, it just rolled on the ground.

He just kept walking on...

"WELL FUCK YOU TO, I HATE YOU!!" She yelled angrily, before stomping away, forgetting about the injury, which was pretty painful for her in the long run.

"GAH!" She said in pain every step she stomped. Until she finally got to the bar, where she just laid down next to the solid shelf, and drank her pains away. Every bottle she drank, the more the pain went away, but then again, so did the feelings of most other things. Until eventually she could she nothing but a haze.

"G-o-g-oooooooooooood ni.......... night" She said, before taking a alcohol induced nap on the floor.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

Kargrek approached the splitting Luron and Laura more quickly and enthusiastically than did Bellona; the gladiatrix trailed behind him, eyes still focused on the seam in the street. She was so focused on it and thinking about it, in fact, that she mostly missed or tuned out the low rumble of clipped masculine voices coming from a few feet in front of her; as she pondered the nature of her amulet's magic and how it related to Zaire's, the barbarian and swordsman held a fairly short conversation.

Bellona's attention was not drawn to her companion until his discussion with the other man was cut short; with no real warning, she heard feet pounding across the pavement and what sounded like Kargrek grunting her name. She looked up from her puzzle to see a nonplussed Loran watching the barbarian's retreating back; Strongarm himself was beckoning her as he sprinted across the street towards... The coffee shop?

As the woman sped to catch up, the entire scene became obvious: another pair was approaching the shop, apparently intent on confronting the monster within; the one in front was striding with the determination of a man on a mission, but the second was scuttling to catch up with an air that made it clear he was simply going along for the ride. She wasn't sure if the barbarian was intent on stopping or joining them, but it was at least understandable why he was heading back towards the dragon's nest already. Kargrek was surprisingly fast for a man of his size and she had barely caught up to him when he drew level with the smaller man; he clapped his enormous hand on his quarry's skinny shoulder, and the bespectacled man gasped and... disappeared in a flash of light. The other one, attention caught by the sound of running and his companion's disappearance, turned around, face pulled into a quizzical expression.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

Scott popped into existence just as he started to duck, attempting to escape from the barbarian, and managed to trip himself. He landed in a pile of empty cardboard boxes, thoroughly disoriented, and decided that this might be an excellent chance to relax a moment and get his bearings.

He was in the alley again. This was good, he decided- it meant he wasn't likely to have been seen arriving, and he could move around relatively freely without worrying about running into any of the others. Plus, there might be something around here he could use as a weapon- he'd been cut off by that explosion before he'd had a chance to find anything, and he was at a serious disadvantage without one. He couldn't do magic, he wasn't very strong, he couldn't do... whatever the music-ghost did. He was just a skinny, nervous guy with an unusual disability.

No, he thought to himself, I'm a skinny, nervous guy who has a significant tactical advantage thanks to his disability. Not only can I gain intel, I can work with myself to set traps, create distractions, or get out of trouble. I've got a very real advantage, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let it go to waste.

His motivation bolstered, he stood up, dusted himself off, and strode off down the alley.

A few steps later, he stopped. Someone had written a message on the ground of the alley, scratching it into the stone with another stone.


He could immediately tell that it was from himself. Not only was it his writing, but his eclectic studies had included a small bit of Lojban, an artificial language used in computer interaction, and while he didn't know much, he knew that ko was the you-imperative pronoun. He'd used it before as a low-level confirmation that something was from him and was important, so, taking himself at his word, he turned around and headed the other way. He wasn't sure where he'd find a gun, but it would evidently be obvious enough that he wouldn't need any more guidance.

Several buildings down, he found it. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly alone.

Two guys had apparently been in the middle of a drug deal when they died. A few bills were scattered on the ground next to their crumpled bodies, and so were the contents of a small plastic bag. One of the people, presumably the dealer, must have been a bit security-conscious, as he had a pistol sticking out of his waistband.

Scott knew what he had to do, but he wasn't particularly enthusiastic about it. Ignoring a body was one thing, but stealing something from one? It just didn't sit right with him. This had been a person, a living, breathing human being, and he had no right to just take their gun.

I have to, he told himself. If I don't want to end up like him, I need to be able to defend myself, and that means having a weapon. He steeled himself, reached gingerly towards it... and chickened out.

He turned in place for a minute, working up the courage to grab it. "Come on," he muttered. "He was a bad person, he dealt drugs. He probably stole things all the time." He stopped, setting his shoulders. "It's not like he needs it anymore." He reached out, his hand shaking a bit as he reached for it. His hand moved closer, closer...

Just as he wrapped his hand around the butt of the gun, he flashed out of existence, taking it with him.

He arrived a short distance down the alley, clutching the gun and breathing heavily. "Alright, calm down. Deep breaths, relax. Step three was 'drop eaves,' and I can't go jumping away in the middle of that. Calm..."

After a few moments of deep breathing, he checked his watch. There was one other signal, and it was an old one- he was back during his first meeting with the two Zachs. Well, the first one for him, anyway. It was technically their second, but it had come first for him. He'd probably jumped away from the barbarian just a minute or two ago, and that meant that the doctor would likely be arriving at the cafe around now- of course! He could listen in on the conversation from the kitchen or something without having to actually worry about the stress of standing in the room with various intimidating people, thus enabling him to hear more of the conversation!

He hurried down the alley, stopping on the way to scrawl instructions on the ground near a neat pile of cardboard boxes.

The back door of the cafe opened quietly enough, and Scott slipped inside. The kitchen was dimly lit, the only source of light the small window in the door to the cafe proper, but it was still enough for him to move around without banging into anything. Crouching, he made his way to the door, stopping just inside it and listening intently.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by piester.

Nothing, a void of nothing was all their was for as far as the eye could see, it would be considered gigantic by a few people, if nothing could be measured.

In the middle of all of this was Laura, lying down on the ground asleep.
A faint voice whispered in her ear, quietly as a pin dropping.
Laura was awoken by it, she stood up and looked around in confusion.

Their was another faint voice, she could barely make it out or for that matter even hear it well.
"Who said that? Where the hell are I? What's going on here?" Laura shouted at the nothingness.
Moss began growing under Laura's feet at an extremely sped up rate, until eventually their was a floor made entirely of moss.


Their was another voice, this time clearer and louder, if just barely.
"...Who the FUCK ARE YOU?" Shouted Laura in a demanding way.
Fog of ashes formed around Laura, making it hard for her to breath.

"This is Hell...'
The voice said again, this time in a loud and emotionless voice.
The moss began transforming itself into a hellish landscape. This was not the hell Laura remembered, this one was covered in the corpses of tormented souls, all of which died in gruesome ways, each one's death more gruesome and creative then the last one's death was.

"YOU ARE LYING, PEOPLE CAN'T DIE TWICE, YOU ARE A BIG FUCKING LIER! THIS COULD NEVER HAPPEN TO HELL!" Laura shouted at the top of her lungs, until she started choking on the ash.

She suffocated and fell straight to the ground head first.

"This is going to be hell soon, and their's nothing you can do about it..." A voice said in the back of her head.

Then she woke up to the smell of extremely old alcohol.
She stood still for around a minute, before letting out a high pitched scream and throwing one of the shattered bottles near her at the bar's door, shattering it.
She walked out the back door into an alley way and just started walking, she didn't care about her injuries from the encounter earlier, she just ignored them and started walking, she wanted to go back home to hell, she wanted to escape this universe, even though deep down, she knew that would never happen until somebody stopped breathing.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

After both Zachs calmed down, they couldn't help but notice that their new time-travelling friend had disappeared, off to some random point in space and time. After that, the two turned their attention to the large, black, squiggly ghost...thing. That was black.

Zach watched it curiously as it hummed and twisted around in the air. As they were both in the same competition, he probably should have felt at least a bit apprehensive, but he couldn't help but feel that it looked too graceful to kill anything. His more corporeal buddy grew disinterested and leaned against a nearby wall.

Eventually, Simphonia calmed down as well and returned the interest. She seemed to observe her fellow ghost carefully as she slowly circled around him. Zach started wondering how one actually becomes ghostly music when something suddenly occurred to him. "Hey, uh, Zom," he said. Zombie-Zach took a few seconds to respond, unused to his new name. Scott's suggestion was great, just hadn't been implemented long enough for them to be comfortable with.

"How did she fit in the briefcase?" Zom turned back to the two and gave a sluggish shrug. At this point, Simphonia suddenly noticed Zach's dead body and rushed towards him with renewed curiosity, giggling (at least it sounded like a giggle) as he swatted at her in irritation.

Zach thought a little more. "How did she even get in the briefcase?" Zom just grunted in reply as he attempted to ignore Simphonia's inquisitive poking. Zach walked over to the broken briefcase that Simphonia had made her surprising entrance in and examined it, forgetting that since he was floating in the air, walking was a bit pointless. Besides it being rather grungy, it was disappointingly normal.

Well, of course it was a regular briefcase. What was he expecting? A hole in the bottom? A hidden passageway? An entire room that would be much too big for a regular suitcase to hold? The ghost reached for some scattered pieces of paper that used to be shut within the briefcase and frowned when his hand went through them. Since Zom was no longer playing the 'avoid the zombie's swipes' game, Simphonia wandered back towards Zach to see what he was looking at. He looked up upon hearing her music get louder and almost fell over when he saw how close she had gotten. (Actually, can ghosts fall over?)

Now that Simphonia's cheery music was so close to his ears, Zach could feel a small niggling feeling of annoyance in the back of his mind. Still, his curiosity was stronger than this sudden bout of annoyance and he pushed it aside in order to try to figure out this strange musical ghost.

Once he stood straight again, he stared a bit and hesitantly reached out to touch the shifting ghost.

Simphonia seemed to condense and formed herself into the vague shape of a generic woman. She formed a face by spacing some of her musical components in such a way so that she appeared to have eyes and a smile. As the sound of a triangle tingled in the air, she reached out with a shifting arm and when their fingers met, Zach shivered, although he did not know why.

"Uh, hm. I think...I guess it used to be human? Maybe? Do you think she can understand us?"

Zom looked up from the various dead bodies that littered the ground and replied, "What are you asking me for?"

His non-ethereal counterpart did have a point. Zach hesitated, feeling a little awkward about talking to what amounted to a bunch of musical notes, before saying, "Uh. Er. Hi. Do you understand me?"

Simphonia started manipulating her pseudo-face so that her mouth appeared to move, but the only thing that came out was more chittering music. Zach couldn't be sure if she was legitimately trying to respond or was just mimicking him for whatever reason.

Her mouth soon stopped moving but the music continued. He took this as a sign to continue talking. "So. Um. I was, uh,, the briefcase." He pointed helpfully at the broken briefcase still on the ground. "And you, well, you came out of it, like, uh, pwhooooosh..." The 'pwhooooosh' was accompanied by random hand movements.

Simphonia's smile didn't drop, but he could feel the incomprehension wafting from her. He stood a little helplessly before desperately trying again.

"Briefcase." Simphonia looked at the briefcase politely as he gestured towards it. "Uh. Boom." Zach performed a strange dance that composed of explodey-arm-wavey motions.

"You look a bit of a moron," said Zom. Zach ignored this comment and instead pointed repeatedly at Simphonia, hoping that she would eventually get it.

Simphonia had been slowly shifting back to her default formlessness, apparently having gotten bored, but sharpened once again as she seemed to understand. With a chime of comprehension, she whisked herself back into the briefcase and closed it. After a few seconds, she popped violently out again. All that was missing was a loud 'Surprise!'

Zach was a little disappointed, seeing that the ghost had obviously misunderstood him. But watching her watching him expectantly over the side of the briefcase still made him smile. Then he visibly started and stared at the crop of musical notes protruding from a nearby piece of paper. He peered inside the briefcase to see Simphonia's torso-ish-thing disappear through another piece of paper that was inside. Simphonia watched, bemused, as he rushed towards the paper that she was currently using as a portal and attempted to pick it up. When that didn't work, he tried flipping it a little. "How do you think she's doing this?"

"I dunno," Zom replied.

"You know, you could be at least somewhat helpful."

Zom shrugged. "It's true. I don't know. Sorry. I'm a little distracted since I've been feeling a little hungry..."

Wondering why Zom had suddenly trailed off, Zach turned to see that he was staring at something. He had no time to wonder how a dead body could eat because this something, as he soon found out, was Laura.

She was approaching slowly. He rather she didn't approach at all.

Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Sruixan.

As far as Zach could tell, the arena, as it were, that had been chosen for the first round of this conflict was a curiously normal shopping street, as seen in small towns all over the world. Zaire had been right – there wasn’t anything special about it at all, bar the countless cadavers that littered the place. He would have thought that the best backdrop to a fight to the death would more likely be some majestic coliseum in an exotic location; underground, in space, or at the bottom of the ocean, perhaps. It should be fit to burst with traps and pitfalls so that every moment was spent on the edge of death, be it at the hands of some lethal death ray or one of the other contestants.

He wouldn’t, in a million years, have picked Garforth Main Street. It probably wouldn’t have even made the shortlist. Zach wasn’t even entirely sure where Garforth was. He’d ask someone about it, but, well, it was either another combatant who would probably rather slit his throat than engage in the mere trifle of light conversation, his corporeal counterpart or a corpse. He kept coming back to the corpses. Getting them out of his head was proving decidedly difficult, mainly because there were so many of them. Not enough to make manoeuvring awkward; he wasn’t sure he could bear to have to pick his way through mountains of flesh, but you couldn’t look anywhere without setting eyes upon one, unless you particularly liked staring fixatedly at dull brick walls.

He hovered for a little while, waiting for his companion to catch up – being unhindered by cars or lampposts or any other obstacle, he’d sailed along the main street, but now he felt it was only kind to wait for himself. He was sure he would have done the same. Besides, maybe he really ought to start talking to himself. As wrong as it sounded, if he was going to be stuck with his corpse trailing him everywhere, he might as well be on good terms with it. It wasn’t like they weren’t going to get along, was it?

“Some of us kinda have to lurch, you know.”

Though he wasn’t showing any of the signs of exhaustion, the corporeal Zach was certainly flustered. It had taken a little while before he’d gotten the hang of walking again; though it wasn’t something one ever forgot, even when you’d spent three days flat-lining, he was reasonably sure that, when he’d been alive, his legs had been a tad more responsive than they were now. His current pace was far too sluggish for his liking; he’d tried running after Zach as he drifted away, but for whatever reason, his legs no longer responded to the impulses that had once sped them up. It was decidedly irksome, but really, he was rather amazed that they moved at all. Grumbling about no longer being able to break into a sprint was probably in bad taste.

“Well, um, sorry. It’s just, well, I’m still not entirely used to not having to walk like I used to… like you have to…”

In an attempt to speed himself up, zombified Zach tried swinging his arms as pendulums, just as if he was running and not getting anywhere fast. Curiously, it seemed that he moved the best when he just held his arms straight up in front of him; shifting his centre of gravity a little further in front of him seemed to make his staggering much more efficient…

“Yeah, I think I understand. So, where are we going?”

The ghost of Zachariah had no idea. The honest answer was “as far away from the other seven deceased nutcases as possible”, but he wasn’t sure quite how honest he wanted to be, even with himself.

“Let me guess, we’re getting as far away from the other seven deceased nutcases as possible?”

“Erm. Yeah. Did you do that on purpose?”


“You just said exactly what I was going to say, just as I was thinking about saying it.”

The zombie chuckled, although the actual sound that emerged from his weathered throat was a little more sinister, a little more guttural and a little more like a moan.

“Well, man, that’s pretty neat. I mean, we are both us, right? So I guess it’s to be expected.”

Whether or not he should have expected it, it still struck Zach as damned strange. Even if he was a perfect copy of himself, there was surely no way he would be thinking the exact same things as himself. The two of them were totally different, after all.

“What number am I thinking of?”


“Well, you know how scientific we are about this sort of thing. I figure we can prove it by a simple “guess-my-number” game.”


“Nowhere near, mate. 44.”

As Zach’s hazy features contorted, his corpse reached up and patted him on the shoulder. Or, rather, tried to. There wasn’t really a shoulder there to pat, so he just waved his arm up and down a bit in a manner that was supposed to hopefully be a little bit comforting.

“But if we aren’t identical how the hell did you know what I was going to say? That cannot possibly be a coincidence, surely?”

“Zach, seriously, listen to yourself. Who cares? We’ve got bigger problems right now than your identity crisis. For instance, surviving for long enough to have an identity.”

With near-perfect timing, the chemist’s exploded.

A little while later, an uncomfortable tingle shivered up Zach’s back; the type of tingle that meant that something real was intersecting with his ethereal form.

“Dude, get up. It’s perfectly, perfectly safe. It happened quite a way away and the dude I think was responsible isn’t even looking this way. You’re just being silly now. It’s not like you could have gotten any shrapnel wounds or something…”

“Ah… now it all makes sense.”

Hearing a voice he couldn’t put a name to, (ghost) Zach jumped. Well, jolted upwards, anyway. Surveying the pair was a gangly man, peering at them intently through his rimless spectacles. He had a neat little smile on his face that gave the impression that he knew and understood the curious sight before him.

“What makes sense?”

For some unknown reason, this reply caused Scott to pale slightly.
“Oh, nothing important, I shouldn’t think.”

Letting out something approximating a wail as he did so, the ghostly Zach up-righted himself and took in the figure before him. After a brief pause, he ventured; “Hello?”

“You don’t look particularly deadly; no offence…”

“None taken. Um, I think I might have to explain myself…”

“What is there to exp- oh, right. How you’re going to make what little remains of our lives as painful as possible.”

“Oh please. Try not to be such a coward… I do apologise profusely; my other half is a complete wuss.”

Scott nodded knowingly and sighed.
“Yeah, um, as strange as I’m sure it’ll sound, I already kno-”

“Names. Damn, we haven’t introduced ourselves yet, have we? I’m Zach and this is, well, Zach. Heck, that’s awkward, I suppose…”

“Ah, so you haven’t come up with the system yet?”

“Well, if you want to call it a system, then yeah, sure… wait, whaddya mean, “the”?”

Rolling his eyes, Scott tried again.
“I was going to say… see, rather than a normal nervous system I have an artificial system powered by a miniature generator in my heart. It works to keep me alive just fine, but it has something of a side effect; at reasonably random intervals, influenced by my heart rate, it creates an unstable time field that results in me being moved either forwards or backwards in time by an arbitrary amount. To me it seems like time is flowing continuously in one direction and one direction only, but in actual fact I’m generally all over the place, sometimes even in two at once.”

A little on the late side, he registered the slightly bemused expression shared by the two Zach’s. “Um. Sorry. I may have been a bit unclear…”

“Oh, I’m pretty certain I understand… it’s just that I’m not particularly sure I want to. I mean, how the hell is that even possib-”

The tingling sensation in his chest where his corpse had just elbowed him shut him up. “Look, be rational. Does it really matter how he does it? He just does, alright? It’s like it doesn’t matter how I’m not accumulating flies in an abandoned warehouse, or how it honestly has no bearing on or current situation whether or not you being a ghost breaks all the laws of reality; you can’t argue with it, ‘cause it just is. Now shut up and let me do the talking, please.”

As the ethereal Zach began mumbling to himself, Scott cleared his throat.
“Yes, um, quite. Anyway, to make things a little complicated, I’ve met you guys before. You were a bit flustered then, so I didn’t get much out of you and to be honest, I was as well, so it wasn’t much of a conversation.”

“I would dearly love to be taking this in my stride right now, but time travel? Ergh, damn, I don’t wanna have to think about it. It must get so messy…”

The question was one Scott was commonly faced with, so he just smiled at the perplexed ghost.
“Oh, it’s not too bad. I have a rather unique watch, of course, and my other selves are always ready and willing to help me out… look, there’s one over there; a future me, I think…”

Scott pointed to a pair of figures stood a distance down the avenue, just outside the remnants of the pharmacist’s. One of them was another Scott, speaking agitatedly to the man Zach’s corpse had noticed there earlier. The current Scott saw fit to wave at his future counterpart, who then waved back, shouting “you've got about a minute left, dude!”

Smiling, Scott turned back to the duo, both now somewhat more enlightened as to Scott’s way of existence. “See what I mean? We help each other get through things without getting too tangled up. I’m just going to have to remember to look this way when I get to that point in my timeline…”

“But what about paradoxes? I mean, time travel is inherently riddled with problems. I’m surprised you haven’t collapsed in on yourself or something equally final…”

Obviously annoyed, the corporeal Zach stuck his whole arm into his other half this time, causing him to squirm noticeably.

“I’m going to have to find a way of stopping you from asking all these questions about everything and anything. Your tongue isn’t much of a weapon and as a shield it leaves a lot to be desired…”

The two stared at each other for a moment before Scott cleared his throat once more. Suddenly they were both rather embarrassed for having descended to petty arguing whilst a potential friend was trying to help. The zombified Zach couldn’t help but feel that such aggression was right on some level, but it felt wrong to be so towards himself. Mind you, he felt a lot of things, like slightly damp and miserable and hungry and tired and vaguely out of place…

“May I make a suggestion? Only I think you two might get on a bit better if you could talk freely to each other; you know, to sort out your differences and the like. I think, though, that doesn’t come easy to you two since you’re both the same person and it feels awkward. Heck, I know that’s the case; you told me yourself.”


“Maybe you should stop both being Zach. Maybe one of you two should take a different name?”

Scott knew he was standing on delicate ground here – if he said too much, he might cause a paradox like the one ethereal Zach was so worried about. It didn’t help that, by his watch, he had about thirty seconds left until he jumped…

“Can I keep Zach? I mean, I was around first…”

“Yeah, but honestly? You’re really not quite all there…”

Once again, the duo started squabbling; the repeated recurrence of the two arguing amongst themselves was stretching Scott’s patience. A brief glance at his watch told him he only had five seconds left. He made up his mind.

“Try Zach and Zom, since, well, you’re a zombie, right?”

Before they could give much thought to the proposal, one of the corpses beside them erupted as something burst out of the briefcase buried beneath it to a chorus of jarring brass. There was a short burst of light and a zapping noise as well, but the pair didn’t see Scott disappear, startled as he was by Simphonia’s sudden appearance…
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Kaja turned to face the barbarian; Kargrek if he recalled correctly. Instinctively his hands plunged to his belt and into the pouches of exotic herbs that hung there, though they proceeded no further, froze in place at the lack of movement from Kargrek. He was a walking mass of muscle and scarred tissue, practically looming over the alchemist. His long black hair framed an odd expression; one of interest, but also of wariness. For a moment they were both silent as they assessed one another. If blows were about to be exchanged then Kaja was likely to come off worse; he had nothing brewing and if Kargrek pounced he would have no time to mix up anything. Kaja removed his hands from the pouches, holding them limply by his sides.

“Yes?” Kaja says somewhat tensely, his eyes not veering from the barbarian, even as the gladiatrix approached, her hand cautiously upon her lance.

“You'd confront Zaire?” Kargrek grunted. “You’ll not fight him alone. Not well at least.”
“It is a possibility…” Kaja said. “I need some clarification on a couple of queries from The Redeemer before I am prepared to commit to anything.” He paused. “Though I would be prepared to wager that I will not get the answers I want. If so, then we can talk about assailing our captor.” He paused and started again. “Perhaps.”
“You speak as if your question is already answered.” Kargrek replies.
“It is in all but actuality. Perhaps it is naught but my mind picking at Zaire’s phraseology, looking for a loophole, but the question is pertinent and even though it is little more than a formality it is one that I will ask, just in case.” Kaja responded. “If you would excuse me with a moment…” The alchemist turned away from the pair of warriors, and walked without hesitation through the door of the coffee shop, the sound of glass crunching underfoot accompanying him as he did so.

The inside of the coffee shop struck Kaja as reminiscent of some macabre painting; tables and tables of corpses, some still clutching their long cold beverages in their dead hands, and in the midst of it sat one living man, unfazed by the horror that surrounded him, casually sipping from a Styrofoam cup and reading an oh-so-very out of date newspaper. Kaja walked over to Zaire’s table and sat himself down in the seat opposite him.

“Hello Doctor Lorrden.” Zaire said, looking up from the newspaper he had presumably acquired from one of the other customers. “Why don’t you get yourself a drink? I imagine you could probably heat one up with that contraption of yours, although that isn’t really the most entertaining use to which it could be put to, of course.”
“What happens if I die?” Kaja asked bluntly. “You said that if we die we return to our respective afterlives. I am not from an afterlife. If I die am I returned to my world?”
“Humour me Kaja.” Zaire said dismissing his question. Kaja sighed and clicked a switch on the back of his contraption, activating a series of flasks that served as a condenser. He plucked a couple of herbs from an inside jacket pocket and deposited them within the contraption. Perhaps a minute of sitting in silence later and Kaja collected the mixture up in a cup seized from a nearby customer. He placed the cup of freshly brewed tea down on the table with a theatrical flourish, but any trace of good humour on his face quickly evaporated thereafter.
“What happens if I die?” Kaja repeated.

“The same thing as everyone else.” Zaire responds. “You die Doctor Lorrden. You pass on to your world’s afterlife, whatever that may be.”
“I see.” Kaja responded. “No surprises there then.” He took a sip from the cup of coffee he had brewed. “My own blend, with lotus and kii flower.” He said satisfied. “Black of course, I wouldn’t trust any milk that might be left in this world.”
“I’d say that is a good call.” Zaire responded, taking a sip of his own coffee.
“I hope we aren’t boring you?” Kaja asked, gesturing towards the newspaper.

“Just a little distraction while the battle heats up.” Zaire replies. “At the moment you’re all coming to terms with what’s going on, getting to know one another, trying to figure out if there is a way to cheat the system. This is the dull stuff. You’ll see once we get into the later rounds.”
“Or I’ll be dead before then.” Kaja replied. “In my world I don’t think we have an afterlife. The nearest approximation would be being conscripted into the undead hordes that soullessly maim and murder the people who they once were part of.”
“What do you want Kaja?” Zaire asked, suddenly impatient. “Are you sitting there trying to appeal to my good side? Trying to convince me that you are a scholar and not a warrior? Do you want me to say ‘oh there’s clearly been some kind of terrible misunderstanding; you aren’t supposed to be here’ and send you back home?” Zaire paused. “I have no patience for this.” Zaire clicked his fingers irritably. Complex runes appeared across Kaja’s discoloured skin. For a moment he clawed at one upon the back of his hand, before it was apparent that they were blossoming everywhere, and then his body froze. Kaja struggled, but found that he was completely unable to move his body and shortly it began to move on its own. Getting to its feet and walking to the door of the coffee shop. It paused and turned back to Zaire before Kaja involuntarily left. “One last thing Doctor Lorrden…” Zaire said. “I will not be drinking your poisoned coffee.”

Kaja regained control of his body once he was out of the coffee shop. He scanned the street to see Kargrek and Bellona were still nearby. He sighed heavily, the conversation with Zaire having expelled whatever doubt remained in his mind, he was in this competition whether he liked it or not. He approached the pair.
“You will have to excuse my manners, it’s been a long time since I have had human company that has not tried to burn me alive for being an undead abomination.” Kaja said, extending his right arm out to Kargrek, who looked down at it blankly. “Actually you probably don’t shake hands…” He promptly retracted his arm and used it to doff an imaginary hat towards Bellona. “In fact that probably means very little to either of you either.”

“I’m guessing that you got your answer?” Bellona said curtly.
“Yes.” Kaja said. “I hope I am not too late to join the revolution?”

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Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Eversist.

Bellona examined the chemist, wrinkling her nose. Being of Roman descent, she was familiar with the ritual of shaking hands—but not caring to be in close quarters with this malformation, she therefore neglected to educate him. She simply stared blatantly, and remained silent. His proximity was fairly distracting. Her eyes followed a particular stream of bubbles rising in a hose from right to left. They disappeared, each passing though his chest.
A disgusted Bellona heaved. This quickly progressed into a spectacular coughing fit over a bit of bile.

Kargrek stared and the convulsing gladiatrix with a hint of distain. If barbarians rolled their eyes, he would have; his face said as much. He settled a hand on Kaja's shoulder making a conscious effort to avoid tubes and other extremities. The fact that this man remained, instead of disappearing into the seams of time, pleased Strongarm slightly. He shook his head slowly.
"Anyone who is unwilling to fight to entertain that man…" He let the sentence hang.

Kaja watched the still-choking Bellona with a bemused expression. He knew he could probably help her with a few choice brews, but it was more entertaining to watch nature run its course.
"Yes, as non-confrontational as our cause may be, my conversation with Zaire was less than encouraging. There seem to be few options but to fight." He glanced up at the other warrior through his thick goggles.

Kargrek gripped his axehandle in a therapeutic sort of way.
"That may be. But we do get to choose who we fight." He glared pointedly at the coffee shop front with blood-rage welling in his eyes.

"Two against one are certainly... well, slightly better odds, but against his magics—"


Bellona looked up with watery eyes, and cough-sniffled one last time.
"Wait. I want to try something."


"There's something about men with substantial power…"

Bellona examined the discarded door laying near the threshold with passing interest, and stepped over it into the coffee shop. She propped her spear and shield against the wall, with a leaning motion. As her tunic lifted with this action, she allowed much of her upper thigh to be exposed. The art of seduction was basically foreign to her, so she sighed and let her base feminine instinct, or whatever was left of it, guide her actions. She neatly dodged the corpses that crowded the place, her lily-white tunic swishing gently around her hips. The smell of decomposition and spoilt milk assaulted more than just one of her senses, and she tried not to cringe, having recovered from being sick just moments before.

Zaire’s lips stopped inches from his disposable cup. He stared, baffled, at the woman’s sauntering figure, reading her intent immediately. Out of the few visitors he’d had, she was the first of this nature to be sure. His confusion turned to a sheer booming guffaw as he watched her overly exaggerated hip-swinging strike a table, sending a corpse crashing to the floor. His laughter filled the putrid air, as he calmly folded up his newspaper, and dropped it flat on the tabletop.

"My lady, I don't know if this has permeated your brain quite yet, but you are deceased. While I am… eccentric, I am far from a necrophiliac."

Face burning, Bellona pouted her bottom lip in what she hoped was a titillating manner. "Do I look dead to you?" She cocked her generous, bruised hip as if to prove him wrong. She began blinking rapidly, trying to bat her eyelashes. She ended up just looking like she had something stuck in her eye.

Another wicked grin flashed over Zaire's face.
"You are simply reanimated for the time being."

Bellona leaned down across his table, propping herself on her forearms. Her draping tunic gapped open in the front. "What is the difference, really?"

She could tell that he wasn't interested, in the traditional sense anyway (although, her poor performance was largely at the forefront of her faults), but she still doubted he had ever encountered a woman such as she. He continued to consider her over his still-steaming coffee, his expression now unreadable. Maybe he is at least intrigued, she hoped. The silence stretched uncomfortably, and Bellona finally broke eye contact.

Zaire suddenly cocked his head.
"Miss Achillia, have you misplaced your necklace?"

A familiar explosion rocked the street outside.


"I do not foresee her endeavor going well."

"She is a distraction. If she is not killed, she has done her job…" He angled his head, then added as an afterthought. "Even so."

The two drastically different men were walking back in the direction from which they had come. Although the glowing ridge in the asphalt had long since faded, they still continued on in that direction. Bellona's amber piece dangled from Kagrek's massive clutched fist, and as they approached the crack it began to glow just as it had before.

Kaja eyed the glow.
"Do you think you could make the seam larger?"

The warrior went to hand the gladiatrix' belonging to the undead man, but the moment his fingers left its surface, the glow faded from the street. "Why…?" Strongarm snorted impatiently, and snatched the trinket back from Kaja's palm. The glow immediately returned.

Turning, Kagrek tethered the amulet's chain around his bulky wrist, and paused atop the seam. He released a husky yell, swung his weapon above his head, and drove the axe-head deep into the asphalt. Light streamed out from beneath the metal.
"Do you think you can make fire as you did earlier?" he asked the chemist pointedly.

The doctor gave Kagrek a steady look that read "what-do-you-take-me-for," and got to work. He reproduced the formula from earlier with a slight alteration; he added a mineral that retarded the combustion rate of the concoction—simply a dash of salt. A dollop of the fluid was poured evenly into four small flasks held between splayed fingers, and corked methodically.

Kaja's actions were so quick and accurate, Strongarm had hardly made any progress. He sped up his task of dragging his axe like a hoe across the asphalt, widening the crack as he went. When he was finally finished, Kaja began placing the vials at equal increments along the line like seeds. They were almost lost to sight among the light now streaming brightly from the ground. Backing away from their handiwork, Kaja looked up at the warrior.
"And now? The solution requires a stimulation, a cause to explode. In this case, exposure to air. How do we cause simultaneous exposure?"

Kagrek muttered the command word to activate the magics hidden within his axe. As the flame surrounded the blade, the barbarian sliced an arc through the air above his head, causing the flame to erupt and separate off of the blade's edge into the near atmosphere.

"Overkill, but yes, that will be more than sufficient.

…Speaking of overkill."

Across the seam and down the street a-ways, they could see a figure approaching another pairing of contestants. The demoness was headed straight for them, an undiscriminating malice in her glowing eyes.
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by Kaitostrike.

Luron followed the others as they went about their business, but he didn't say anything. Having failed his life-long quest kind of ruined any personality he might have had. He continued to nod as the other spoke, but silence was his only answer. The only noise he made was as the gladiatress went into the coffee shop, he chuckled to himself, but this was quickly cut short. He bent over and grabbed his head as a spasm of pain hit him, but the others were too enveloped in their handy work to notice. He groaned to himself as the pain slowly eased up. Damn it, I'll never get used to that. He stood upright and took a last look at the others as they attempted to do something. Whatever it is you're trying to do, I hope it works. Luron turned and began to wander towards the epicenter of an event yet to happen.

He continued to examine the environment; it still had not ceased to disturb him. The corpses seemed almost peaceful, showing no resistance in their death. Several were still positioned on benches, as if the decomposition had no effect on them. Yet in all of this, the explosion which blasted through the pharmacy reminded him of the immediate threat. He rummaged through it's rubble, searching for anything which was not decimated. After finding a few bandages to patch his wounds, he knew it wouldn't be long until the event would begin. He hid in an alleyway as his first sign fulfilled itself; the sound of a glass door breaking came from the bar. He gripped his sword as Laura stepped out and began walking. He looked at the two Zach's as they began to attempt to communicate the ghost creature. Luron quickly looked at his surroundings, and noticed a ladder leading up to a roof; which just so conveniently happened to not be that far from where he needed to be. As he climbed up, he knew he would have to act at just the right time in order to execute this correctly, or else people would die. He raised himself onto the edge of the roof as the hell spawn got ever so closer to the others. The wisp turned around and made a short, high-pitched percussion noise as Laura slowed to a halt. She lifted her hands up as her blank face changed into a look of pure scorn.

"I'm not going to be the one to die here!"

Luron gripped his sword and leapt off the building as Laura began to form a fireball. It felt odd knowing exactly what was going to happen before it did; it always had. Ironically, most of the time he ended up in more trouble than he started out with. But then again, it had saved his life several times before. The trouble was knowing just what happens after the vision ends. Unluckily for Luron, this is where uncertainty kicks in.
Re: The Fatal Conflict! (GBS2G7) (Round 1: Everybody's Dead!)
Originally posted on MSPA by SleepingOrange.

Reserved yo