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Thread: NeShattered

  1. #81
    'AGE 3 - THE SOURCE

    ​A dark and broken reflection of the weird and wonderful world of the Never-ending Story. First sundered from the fiftieth page by the powerplayer, Highemperor, in his single-minded thirst for grandeur, the Shattered Story has always made manifest dreams both terrible and tumorous. Many have harbored in this wretched world: the Tribunal of Potentials, Darth Vice with his Lost Beta brethren, the successor to Highemperor known now as Evil G, and now even the Ever-ending Plot. Apocalypse after armageddon has devastated this narrative, and now with the Plot spread across every corner, the presence of its concluding chapter can be felt.

    As with most all of the Shattered Story, what was once Rome no longer stands. Literally. To describe the surrounding area a wasteland would imply some semblance of story worth sharing, as it once had been before the spread of the Plot. Only decay-filled masses of pus and bloodink stand now, swamping over whatever existed prior, leaving the landscape static and stark in its senselessness. High above, where even the clouds hang heavy with terminal purpose, lightning strikes onto the land, each electric crack scratching through the air with the same plotting weight as the rest of the world. In a stepping strobe effect, the lightning splits, and a plot-hole tears open. Two figures drop onto the ground.

    The thunder rumbles.

    The End looms.


    Chapter 1 - The Connection Between

    The two figures groan in pain as they stand up. One is a woman, dressed in a white cultist's cloak, known once in legend as Britt. The other is a trimly-bearded young man in a white-collared shirt and dress slacks, known once as the Main Character of the Never-ending Story, Gebohq. If one squinted hard enough, a resemblance could said to be shared between the two. They'd have to squint awfully hard, though. The two size each other up as they stand.

    Britt: "You caused this."

    Gebohq: "What are you talking about--"

    An axe, having fallen with them and struck the ground, belatedly falls to its side, its echoing clang disturbing the stillness of the surroundings. Britt and Gebohq stop still, awaiting some horror to leap out at them.

    Silence passes.

    The two relax, and Gebohq postures in an attempt at authority.

    Gebohq: "Look, we don't have time for this right now. We need to find shelter... or something. This place is giving me the creeps."

    A brief moment passes where Britt considers objecting before she eyes their surroundings.

    Britt: "Agreed. But that's mine."

    Before Gebohq could comprehend, much less object, to Britt, the woman dashes to the axe, lifting it up with both hands close to her chest. She peers over the head of the axe at Gebohq, waiting.

    Britt: "...well? Lead on!"

    Gebohq: "Like hell I'm leading! You just want me to be your human shield when we face something nasty."

    Britt: "You're not as dumb as you look."

    Gebohq: "Yeah? Well, monsters like to sneak up from behind, so have fun with that."

    Britt: "..."

    Gebohq: "..."

    Britt: "Move over."

    As Britt takes the lead, with Gebohq tight behind him, the two inch across the ominous backdrop. Each step of theirs seems to upset everything around them, the masses shifting and sliding ever-so-subtly to their existence. Their footsteps echo in the quiet...

    ...and then other footsteps.


    Gebohq: "We're doomed!"

    Britt: "Take him first!"

    Voice: "Calm yourselves, gentlemen. You're safe."

    A man walks into their view. His attire is almost comically pompous, his white fur coat clashing with his gaudy rings and necklaces upon necklaces. On his head, an unusually large and ornate crown sits awkward and heavy. The man, for any who had last attended the Evil World Leaders Summit, would recognize him as Aariadon.

    Aariadon: "If you just follow me, everything will be taken care of..."

    As Aariadon approaches, though, Britt brandishes his newfound axe towards him threateningly.

    Britt: "Yeah, right! Tell us who you are and what you really want. And who else is with you."

    Backing off from Britt's threat, Aariadon mechanically pulls a pistol from within his coat.

    Aariadon: "As chancellor of this evil land, I order you to drop your weapon and... come with... me..."

    Gebohq and Britt watch in confusion as Aariadon drops his own weapon and clutches his head.

    Aariadon: "Ouuuuuuch....."

    Young voice: "Aari! Hold on, we're coming!"

    Three children run out from hiding and towards Aariadon, who has by this point fallen to his knees. Two are boys hardly over seven, and the other is a teenage girl who looks like she belongs in a Final Fantasy game with all the zippers on her clothes. One of the boys wears thick, coke-bottle glasses and a high-tech, cobbled-together circlet with an antennae on his head, and he immediately removes the crown from Aariadon's head. The other boy, wearing a leather coat too big for him, holds a scrappy defensive position to guard Aariadon from Britt and Gebohq. The teenage girl does her best to comfort Aariadon.

    Gebohq: "Er... what's going on?"

    Scrappy Boy: "Nothing! There's nothing to see here. Don't try anything funny!"

    Gebohq: "We won't try anything funny, uh..."

    Scrappy Boy: "Chuck."

    Gebohq: "Chuck, yes. Nothing funny, I promise."

    Britt: "I don't, so keep back."

    Gebohq: "Really?"

    Britt: "Hey, kids are dangerous. Especially if they live in a place like this."

    Nerdy Boy: "Calm down, gentlemen. You're safe."

    Gebohq: "Did that kid just...?"

    Britt: "Creepy."

    Teenage girl: "He's right. We just came to take you two to the waiting place, like the Thand guy asked us to, until the others arrived here in NeShattered."

    Gebohq: "Thand? NeShattered? Oh God..."

    Britt: "What? Who's that guy? What's a whatever-shattered? Why the doom and gloom?"

    Gebohq snaps his attention to the teenage girl.

    Gebohq: "What happened after the wedding? Tell us!"

    The teenage girl stands up, with the nerdy boy taking her place. She places a hand on Chuck's shoulder, who reluctantly steps back to join the nerdy boy.

    Teenage Girl: "The Plot happened. That's what I gather anyway. The palace that the wedding took place in blew up, and then... this."

    She gestures to their surroundings.

    Teenage Girl: "At first, that evil man pretended it was his doing, monologuing about how he was spreading what he called Plot to kill us all. I and my friends banded together to try and put an end to him, but his defeat seemed to only make this Plot spread faster. My friends were... ended, by this Plot, as were so many others. The evil man disappeared. Something had to be done. I found Aariadon caring for these two children, protecting them from this Plot."

    The girl turns to look at Aariadon, who looks almost like an overgrown child among the other two children, who are helping him take off the excessive costume.

    Teenage Girl: "He's not a very smart man, but he's kind. We needed someone to escape, to feign that our world was still as it had been, while seeing if we could recruit help. Nobody would take children seriously, though, but with Ed's gift for mechanics, we could have Aari act in our place."

    She looks at the nerdy boy, Edward, with a smile.

    Teenage Girl: "It was a stroke of luck that the old man Thand visited us when he did. He was able to send Aari with him and back, though I still don't know how. The old man was very secretive, and Aari couldn't explain it to us."

    Britt: "I take it your plan didn't work out."

    Teenage girl: "We didn't have much time. Thand had sent him back rather abruptly, and just now, he contacted us about you two."

    Britt: "Suspicious."

    Gebohq: "Agreed. Did he say anything else?"

    Teeenage girl: "Just to not take you anywhere near the Demesne. Not that I have any idea what that is--"

    Suddenly, Aariadon sits up in excitement.

    Aariadon: "OOO!"

    He points to a large tower made of brick, off in the distance by a subway stop and strangely not covered in the mass of pus and bloodink, as if it only now appeared.

    Aariadon: "Help?"

    Gebohq: "Do you think that's the Demmy-place?"

    Britt: "Only one way to find out..."

    Teenage Girl: "We should just go back and wait like the old man said to do."

    Britt: "Aren't you just the least bit curious? Besides, it looks way less creepy."

    Gebohq: "He's got a point. What's your name, again?"

    Teenage Girl: "Frey--hey!"

    As Britt and Gebohq make their way to the tower, Frey turns back and forth before helping Aariadon up, taking him, Chuck, and Edward with her.

    Frey: "Wait up!"

    The ominous masses of pus and bloodink slowly turn towards the six as they head to the tower, their surfaces spilling and scratching their way behind them...
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-24-2017 at 02:57 PM.

  2. #82
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Who Are You?

    Brittica casts a side-long glance at Gebohq but when Gebohq glances back, she quickly averts her eyes. There's something about the bugger that... just annoys Brittica to no end.

    Gebohq: "Why do you keep looking at me."

    Brittica: "What's your bloody name?"

    Gebohq: "Oh right. I'm Gebohq. I know it's a we--"

    Brittica: "GAH!!!"

    Brittica stops dead and points an angry, threatening finger at Gebohq.

    Brittica: "I should have known! Another one! I swear to God I'm being haunted by you all!"

    Gebohq: "Are you talking about my clones? There does seem to be a few of them around..."

    Brittica: "Clones? Are you kidding me? Now they're cloning descendants. Did you follow me here?"

    Gebohq: "What? I came with you in that Plot-Hole! You were there!"

    Brittica:
    "You brought me here. You haven't got a Britt the Legend shrine hidden in your pants, have you?"

    Gebohq: "Eww. Is that who you are?"

    Brittica: "Oh. Right. Yes. I'm Britt...ica. Brittica X. I suppose. Just... keep your distance. Stalker Boy."

    Frey: "You two don't seem like friends."

    Gebohq: "I met her five minutes ago."

    Frey: "And the old guy? Is he your friend?"

    Gebohq: "You mean Thand...?"

    Gebohq looks up and considers.

    Brittica: "Don't look at me! I've never heard of him before."

    Gebohq: "Thand is more of an acquaintance... I guess you'd say. He's a complicated man."

    Frey: "We guessed that part."

    Brittica: "Why would this Thand geezer want us to stay away from an underground station anyway? There might be a train out of this place!"

    Gebohq: "I doubt it. At least I doubt it goes anywhere we want to go..."

    Brittica: "I don't think I want to go anywhere that you want to go."

    Gebohq: "I really don't understand what your problem is. You--!"

    Edward: "I really must insist that you two stop this bickering at once. It's not good for Aariadon's constitution."

    Brittica and Gebohq look at each other, then at Edward.

    Brittica: "I think we got told off by a seven-year-old..."

    Edward: "And I'll do it again if you don't start to act your age, young lady!"

    Both adults turn away from Aariadon and the kids and start muttering to each other.

    Brittica: "The kids are freaking me out more than this Shatter-land is."

    Gebohq: "Yeah. Like freaky possessed kids from those horror movies. If one of them starts growling, we make a run for it, okay?"

    They both glance back.

    Frey grins at them.

    They turn away in an instant.


    Gebohq: "I can't tell if she's the creepiest one of all, or just a genuinely cute kid."

  3. #83
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Mine's Bigger Than Yours

    When they reach the station there's an eerie wind blowing, picking up the tails of Brittica's cultist garb and fluffing Gebohq's already fluffy hair. Brittica puts rubs her arms as they stand and stare at the entrance to the underground.

    Brittica: "No staff."

    Gebohq: "I didn't expect there to be."

    Brittica: "Does this mean we get to go in for free? At least that's something!"

    Gebohq: "Always a bright side."

    Gebohq, however, doesn't look pleased. He looks concerned. He had never wanted to return to this damnable place and now he's here at the most inopportune time. The NeS is in danger, his friends are probably worried about him and his fiancée is pregnant with his first child. Poor Rachel. He hopes Losien is looking after her...


    Brittica: "Hey, aren't you going to wear that?"

    Gebohq is drawn out of his lamentation and turns to see his new, strange companion putting on Aariadon's furry coat. She then parades around in the new garment.

    Brittica: "Don't I look awesome!? Plus, it's super warm. And I don't get distracted by my own cleavage!"

    Gebohq blinks in shock.

    Chuck: "What's a cleavage?"

    Brittica: "Well--!"

    Frey: "We'll tell you when you're older, Chuck."

    Brittica rolls her eyes.

    Brittica: "Wow, you're a massive stick-in-the-mud, aren't you, little girl?"

    Frey: "And you're really irresponsible and childish, old woman!"

    Brittica: "OLD!? Wow wait. I suppose I am old. Thousands of years old!"

    Brittica grins down at Frey and Frey, thinking the woman is joking, shakes her head with a slightly amused smile. Brittica swings Subaru's axe up onto her shoulder and saunters towards the ticket barrier.


    Brittica: "One, two, three!"

    SMASH!

    She breaks the barrier down.

    Gebohq pushes the one next to hers. It opens and he walks through. Brittica pouts.

    Brittica: "Well I didn't know it would do that, did I?"

    They walk through and start heading down the steps into the dimly lit underground.

    Brittica: "I take it back. This place is totally creepy as Hell too."

    Gebohq: "Still nobody here. Still not surprised."

    Gebohq slowly draws the NeSword.

    Brittica: "Hey. Who would win in a fight? My axe or your sword?"

    Gebohq: "My sword."

    Brittica: "Pffffft! Of course you'd say that."

    Gebohq: "It's got powers. Or something. That doesn't."

    Brittica: "How do you know this doesn't!?"

    Gebohq: "Because I know who it really belongs to."

    Brittica mimics "Because I know who it really belongs to" with a childish and petulant voice.

    Gebohq: "You're just jealous because my sword is shinier than your axe."

    Brittica, again, mimics Gebohq before retorting directly.

    Brittica: "You're just jealous because my brain is better than yours."

    Gebohq: "My beard is better than yours."

    Brittica: "My fur coat is better than yours."

    Gebohq: "My awesomeness is more awesome than yours."

    Brittica: "My..."

    Gebohq grinned in vicory.

    Brittica: "My boobs are better than anything you've got."

    Gebohq curses. Nothing could beat that.

    After gabbing along a tunnel they eventually reach a platform. It's dark, dingy and smells like very old rubbish left to rot.


    Brittica: "Maybe that's why your Thand-not-a-friend didn't want us to come here. The stench."

    Gebohq: "I don't think Thand cares much for our sensibilities."

    Frey: "What do you want to do now?"

    Brittica: "When's the next train?"

    There's the familiar screeching of an underground train as it comes down the entirely black tunnel.

    Aariadon: "I think the more pertinent question would be - where does the train go?"

  4. #84
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
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    Brittica waves out her arm, as if to hail the oncoming train. Geb seizes her and pulls her back into the shadows, where the kids and Aariadon have already smartly retreated.

    Brittica: Ow! Unhand me! I swear, my descendants are the sorriest bunch of--

    Gebohq: We're in the Shattered Universe! Do you think we REALLY want to meet any denizen here?

    Brittica: Oh, grow up, we've already met these denizens, nothing wrong with them! ...except the extremely creepy cute girl... and the little nerd who mothers us... okay, point taken.

    Aariadon cocks his head at Gebohq, then speaks slowly.

    Aariadon: You seem... different... here.

    Geb suppresses a sigh. He knows how others usually see him, and he can't blame them.

    Gebohq: Things are more... serious... here.

    The train screeches to a stop, and a single passenger disembarks from an otherwise empty passenger car. It is a man shrouded in a jet-black cloak. Gebohq stiffens in shock.

    Frey: What, what is it? He doesn't seem creepy like... like everyone else.

    Brittica: Hey, I'm not the creepy one here.

    Frey: No, I mean, everyone ELSE... before they died.

    Brittica falls silent for a moment, but can't resist adding the last word.

    Brittica: Way to put a downer on things, kid.

    The man in the black cloak doesn't notice them, and walks confidently along the platforms till he reaches an elevator. Calling the lift, he steps in, the doors close, and the floor dial above the elevator doors swing from S to 1, slowly all the way up to 42. The top of the Demesne, natch. Geb finally speaks, his face drawn.

    Geb: That was Alexan.

    Brittica: Who?

    Geb: Al's Potential.

    Brittica: Who's what?

    Geb: He is the physical incarnation of everything that Al Ciao, formerly Highemperor, ever was, might be, and never could be.

    Brittica: Well bravo for grandiose descriptions that don't actually tell me jack squat.

    Geb: And he's dead.

    Brittica: Okay, now you're starting to creep me out more than Frey.

    Frey: So now you just think I'm cute?

    Brittica notices Frey eyeing her, and scowls.

    Brittica: Why is it that it's always the crazy ones that like me?

    Gebohq: To be fair, you do have hot boobs.

    Brittica: Dammit, stop reminding me! Too distracting. And I've only had this rack for, like, a day. Crazy b*tches liked me before, too.

    Gebohq: Like attracts like. We better follow him.

    He gestures to the level indicator above the elevator doors, which has reached 42 and stopped.

    Brittica: Like hell. I'm not shadowing some undead freak.

    Gebohq: He's not undead. I think this is... before he died. Which means...

    Brittica: What is with everyone and dramatic pauses?

    Gebohq: That wasn't a dramatic pause, that was a burp.

    Brittica: I didn't hear it.

    Gebohq: Of course you didn't, you were flapping your gums.

    Frey: I didn't hear it either.

    Brittica: No one likes a suck up.

    Frey: Aww...

    Geb is already moving to the elevator, and reluctantly, the others follow.

    Gebohq: If Al's Potential is here, before he died... that means my Potential might be here too.

    The level indicator swings down to S, and the doors slide open. Our erstwhile heroes and their companions all crowd in, and the elevator slides smoothly up the throat of the tower. When the doors slide open once more, Geb hesitantly peeks out, to see a dim corridor. He sidles into the hallway, the others following, and tiptoes along the passage to where a light spills through a door.

    Brittica: Where the hell are those tinkling sounds coming from?

    Edward: Cartoonish sound effect for tiptoeing. I've heard about them, but... all narrative devices in this world are gone. How are there any still here?

    Geb motions for silence, and presently the voices of three distinct entities can be made out, talking together in the room whose light spills out into the hallway. Alexan is speaking, although only Geb can see, peering around the doorframe; the others must be content with hearing alone.

    Brittica: What the hell is with this guy and all this philosophical mumbo-jumbo?

    Edward: It's a synthesis of his highly schizoid personality with narrative reality.

    Brittica: Say again?

    Edward: If that is the incarnation of all that the cursed Highemperor ever was, then many conflicting priorities and values roil within his soul. It being Highemperor's Potential, these values shape reality around him to some degree and affect the narrative fabric.

    Brittica: I dunno, sounds like tripe to me.

    Edward: It IS tripe, but it's tripe given substance thanks to his power.

    Geb whispers a word in astonishment that interrupts Brittica and Edward's murmured back-and-forth.

    Gebohq: Morthrandur...?!

    As they all fall silent, they hear Alexan and the other two Potentials discussing the devilish nature of Morthrandur the Sepulchral Phantom, and his plans to derail a foretold event that supposedly is about to happen in the early days of the Squared Story.

    Gebohq: But that never happened! Morthrandur isn't a demon, there is no UGO Mastermind, and I don't know what the hell an NeSummoner is.

    His eyes espy a manila folder on the table inbetween the three Potentials, and suspicion grows within him. His hands keep clenching and unclenching, every time Erronem speaks, for Erronem is his OWN Potential. Now dead, but strangely still alive in this time. A phone call interrupts the Potentials' scheming, and Phoenix - TLTE's Potential - answers it.

    Phoenix: I see. Thank you.

    That Potential hangs up his phone and turns to his two compatriots.

    Phoenix: We must advance our plans...

    Gebohq: Oh ****, they're all coming this way to the elevator! Hide!

    They flee furtively down the corridor, ducking down a side passage as first Alexan and Phoenix come by, then Erronem and a fourth figure, hitherto unnoticed by Geb or Britt. The three Potentials get into the elevator, but the fourth figure turns his head and looks directly at Geb, Brittica, and the others. They inhale sharply, but the mysterious figure smiles enigmatically and touches his finger to his nose before joining the three Potentials in the elevator. Geb's fists finally unclench as the closing doors hide Erronem's face. He takes a step towards the elevator, as if to follow them again, but suddenly a crackling pop jangles the air with a shower of sparks, and everyone jumps.

    A woman appears from the shower of sparks, wearing a tattered black jumpsuit.


    Gebohq: Apple????

    Shattered Chronos: sonorhC s'esrevinu siht m'I .ecein ruoy yllaer ton m'I tuB .elcnU, uoy ot sonorhC s'tahT

    Brittica: .... What.

    Shattered Chronos: shattered, is dammit Time. can't flow speak I a linear in.

    Brittica turns to the others and makes a 'crazy' sign by twirling his finger hear his head.

    Edward: No wait, I think I get it. She's a time entity, but time is also schizoid here, you can't interact with us in a linear fashion.

    Shattered Chronos: rrcoCet. mI' rhee to spto yuo, 'ecnUl' Gbe, rfom intereifrng. Teim rehe is desems up euohng hwotiut ouy tiryng ot fnnocort uyro olPtentia OEBFRE uyor apst sefl edos.

    Edward: Oh. Seems you were about to distort the time flow, confronting that guy, Gebohq.

    Aariadon: Bad, Gebohq. Very. Bad.

    Brittica: How the hell are you getting that out of her nonsense, kid? I think you're making this up.

    Geb: No, that's definitely my niece... this dimension's version of her, anyway. I suspect she's the only reason there's any shreds of existence left at all here.

    Shattered Chronos doesn't bother trying to speak this time, just nods, a haggard and weary expression on her face. She vanishes again, in another shower of crackling sparks.

    Geb: I don't remember her appearances and vanishings being quite that... dramatic... before.

    Frey: Well, if time is shattered, I imagine that winking in and out of it like she apparently does isn't easy.

    Brittica: Okay, so... what now?

    Geb: I think I know what.

    He goes down the hallway into the still-lit room in which the Potentials were gathered. The manila folder still lies on the table. It is marked 'Morthrandur' in extremely familiar handwriting. Just as he picks it up, a familiar pedantic voice greets him.

    President Thand: Do feel free to read that, my boy. It is a most entertaining tale.

    Gebohq: You. You did this. You fed the Potentials misinformation.

    Thand: Of course I didn't. Ours is a narrative reality, and here there is no such thing as fiction. Particularly not in this shattered realm, which in Highemperor's reign was the hub for all narratives... including infinite alternate timelines. The contents of that manila folder are certainly real somewhere...

  5. #85
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Waiting for the Train

    Brittica: "You know, I'm starting to think that you're going to get me into trouble."

    Brittica mutters to Gebohq but her voice echoes about the room. Gebohq, however, is flipping through the pages of the folder.

    Arkng Thand: "You, Britticus, are enough trouble all by yourself."

    Brittica: "Heeeeeey, I'm not tr- wait, how the Hell do you know the name Britticus?"

    Arkng Thand: "Let's just say... I'm a fan of your book. I haven't reached the end yet, however. I'm sure there'll be some inevitable twist for me to look forward to?"

    Brittica: "I should never have let the sod write that book..."

    Arkng Thand: "Nonsense. That book has revealed a lot about the world we live in today. A crucial text, I'd say. Should be on the essential reading list at the NeS-U."

    Brittica: "And who the heck're you anyway? I've been around and I can tell you have too. Yet we never met..."

    Arkng Thand: "True! It is uncanny that we have never met personally, yet our lives have been twined a few times. Alas, gossip won't get us anywhere at present. Are you satisfied, Mr Simon?"

    Gebohq nods slowly before tossing the folder onto the table. It was opened at a page indicating the origins of Morthrandur. Although Gebohq now knew more about Morthrandur than he ever wanted to, he decided to keep that information to himself. Thand probably knew already anyway, and, as he said himself, no time for gossip.

    Gebohq:
    "We need to escape NeShattered. Can you help us?"

    Thand picks up the folder, neatens it, and puts it back down.

    Arkng Thand: "I'm not some all-powerful being you take me for, Mr Simon. I have my... ways, but breaking you and your friends out of this broken world is beyond me. There are too many variables in its shattered nature for me to perform the feat safely. Plus you may be... seen, if I were to help you."

    Brittica: "So you came here to... gloat? Chuckle at us being stranded here? Cheers mate. You're such a pleasant bugger."

    Arkng Thand: "My suggestion is that you take advantage of your predicament. Locate the Ever-ending Plot at its source. At the epicentre."

    Brittica: "The epic centre? Sounds awesome! We should totally go there!"

    Gebohq: "And do what when we get there?"

    Arkng Thand: "You two are heroes of this world, not I. You should know what to do when you get there."

    Brittica: "You got to be a hero of the Story?"

    Gebohq: "Funny, I was about to ask you the same question!"

    Arkng Thand: "Perhaps it runs in the family, no?"

    Gebohq: "I'm related to her!?"

    Brittica: "Just let the cat out of the bag, thanks mate. I was keeping that one close to the chest!"

    Gebohq: "... how?"

    Brittica: "What does that mean?"

    Gebohq: "Your chest is quite... big... I mean..."

    Brittica: "They're not that big! I mean, they are awesome. But, it's metaphorical! Shut up!"

    Gebohq: "You said it! You should shut up!"

    Brittica: "I'm going to stick this axe where the sun doesn't shine in a minute!"

    Gebohq: "You'd never catch me. I'm too fast and your boobs are too heavy."

    Brittica: "They're not that--! Hey! Don't run away when I'm berating you! Come b... Wow... is he really that fast or are my new boobs actually slowing me down!?"

    Frey: "Both I think."

    Brittica looks back to where Arkng Thand had been. She was sure he was lying about something. Maybe everything. A man like that can't be trusted. But there was bugger all else to do in this place, so she went after Gebohq, trying not to trip over the big fur coat she is still wearing. She reaches the platform again. Nothing but silence. Brittica slows to a walk. Then stands still and listens. She turns.

    Brittica: "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!"

    Aariadon: "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!"

    Brittica: "Why the Hell're you standing right behind me you big lummox!"

    Aariadon: "Your hair's pretty."

    Most women would be freaked out further by that. But Brittica is new at being a woman.

    Brittica: "I know, right!? I love it! I keep playing with it. It's nice to brush. But wow... I sound so gay."

    She thinks.

    Brittica: "I suppose technically I am gay! I just totally bypassed the closet!"

    Frey: "You know you're really weird, right?"

    Chuck: "And you keep talking to yourself even though we're right here."

    Brittica: "It's not my fault you brats are so boring!"

    Aariadon: "They're not brats. They're my friends."

    Brittica: "... ... ... you do realise those two terms aren't mutually exclusive?"

    Frey: "Leave him alone! He's just being nice. Unlike someone."

    Brittica sticks her tongue out at Frey.

    Frey sticks hers out in retort.


    Edward: "Somebody kill me now. I'm surrounded by imbeciles."

    Gebohq: "There's a train coming!"

    Gebohq comes running down the stairs.

    Brittica: "How do you know?"

    Gebohq: "I checked the train schedule up top."

    Brittica: "So when will it come?"

    Gebohq checks his watch.

    He purses his lips.

    Brittica: "Your watch has stopped hasn't it?"

    Gebohq nods slowly, still looking at his stopped watch. Brittica groans and moves away from the tracks. She finds a bench and slumps down on it, folding into the fur coat she'd stolen from Aariadon. Instantly Frey is sat beside her and staring up eagerly.

    Brittica: "What do you want?"

    Frey: "How can I be... more like you?"

    Edward: "Please, Frey, do not use this woman as your role model..."

    Frey: "Why!? She's pretty and nice and brave and strong and--"

    Brittica: "Okay, okay. I'm awesome, I know. But I'm not the best... woman to... try to emulate, kiddo."

    Gebohq drops onto the bench beside Brittica, knocking the woman to the side, almost causing her to fall ontop of Frey. Brittica groans but she's now too tired to shout at him.

    Gebohq: "How are we related?"

    Brittica lays her head back against the rear of the bench and sticks her legs out. Frey imitates her.

    Brittica: "I'm your... infinitely great-ancestor. I was born in Rome. I... struck a deal. And now I'm here after centuries of living and Sleeping. This... Story. It was... mine. It was me. It was Britt's Story. And now? Now it's yours..."

    Gebohq: "Actually, it's my sister who's Main Character now."

    Gebohq crosses his legs and stretches his arms.

    Brittica: "Oh. I thought you--"

    Gebohq: "I was. I gave it up. And my sister, Losien, became the lead hero instead."

    Brittica: "Why!? Why would you give it up like that? You had it all. You had the world!"

    Gebohq: "I don't want the world."

    Brittica: "What do you want?"

    Gebohq: "I want... the woman I love..."

    Brittica falls silent. She'd been in love. She'd had many lovers. But she'd never spent any kind of lifetime with anyone. She had always moved from life to life, person to person. She starts to laugh and shoves Gebohq playfully.

    Brittica: "You massive wuss!"

  6. #86

    Train of Thought

    The six of them wait in silence for the next train to arrive. Chuck and Edward soon scamper around the station platform as most children do when dealing with boredom. Frey stares at Britt, and when Britt notices, she glances away. Britt takes the time to consider her body and outfit more thoroughly, adjusting a collar here or raising an arm experimentally there. Gebohq, meanwhile, is entirely lost in his own little world. Only Aariadon seems to seriously wait for a train to arrive.

    Aariadon: "When's it coming?"

    Britt and Gebohq snap out of their own thoughts when Aariadon breaks the silence.

    Gebohq: "Good question. I honestly didn't pay much attention to the schedule upstairs."

    Britt: "So we're stuck here?"

    Gebohq: "We could always start hoofing it."

    Britt: "Like hell I'm going back out into that creepiness! Besides, I've done my share of walking in life. It's about time these future machines pick up some slack."

    Gebohq: "Maybe there's a schedule posted somewhere down here too..."

    He gets up to look around the platform, which takes all of two seconds before he notices the large sign hanging above. In a combination of old-fashioned and futuristic, a list of locations and times display in white letters on black that flip over into new letters with new locations. Or rather, he presumed they would show locations and times, as right now, they only display gibberish.

    Gebohq: "Looks like the schedule is broken. And come to think of it, I think the one upstairs was too."

    Britt: "Great, I have a descendant who doesn't even bother reading now."

    Gebohq: "Hey, I didn't see you bothering either!"

    Britt: "I just go along for the ride. Things seem to usually sort themselves out."

    Gebohq: "Yeah, I think I know what you mean. The story is funny like that."

    The two look at each other with curiosity.

    Britt: "Ugh. How are we ever getting to... wherever it is we're supposed to go."

    Gebohq: "Thand mentioned we needed to get to the epicenter, and I have a feeling that's the same place that my evil... other-guy had his evil wedding. The Palace of Power, I think he called it."

    Aariadon: "Look!"

    Gebohq: "Huh?"

    Just then, the light of an incoming train grows brighter down the tunnel, and the sign changes to read "PALACE OF POWER -- NOW ARRIVING".

    Britt: "Well that was convenient."

    As the train slows down in the station, Britt peers her eyes at Gebohq. He takes no notice of her, though, as he joins the others to board the train. As the train stops and opens its doors, Britt and Gebohq look inside. Empty.

    Britt and Gebohq: "Creeeeepy."

    The group boards the train. With no chimes or voices, the door close, and the train proceeds into the opposite tunnel. The decay-filled masses of pus and bloodink scratch and spill their way into the station platform...

    ---------------------------

    On the speeding train, each of the six have taken a seat despite having the train to themselves. Frey sits next to Britt, Gebohq with Aariadon, and... well each of the four have taken a seat, while Chuck and Edward run around the car in what little freedom they've probably experienced their whole lives.

    Britt: "So..."

    As Britt trails off while twirling his hand to form a drink with his tea powers, Gebohq smiles at the others.

    Gebohq: "A needle pulling thread?"

    Aariadon: "La!"

    Edward: "A note to follow so."

    Britt: "Tea--huh?"

    Frey: "A drink with jam and breaaad!"

    Chuck: "That will bring - us - back - to --"

    Britt: "No!"

    Everyone stops uncomfortably. Britt, surprised at his own response, looks around apologetically before turning his attention behind him, to Gebohq.

    Britt: "Would you like some?"

    The tea hovers between the two, above Britt's hands as if he were holding an invisible tea cup and saucer. Gebohq looks at the floating drink.

    Gebohq: "I'm, uh, more of a coffee drinker."

    Britt blinks blankly, seeming to not comprehend the series of events the past few seconds, before appearing to drink the tea herself. She clears her throat.

    Britt: "So tell me about--"

    Edward: "We're here."

    Britt: "--bloody--already?!"

    The train screeches and hisses as it stops. The station platform, outside and between two mountain tunnels, can hardly be recognized in the mass of pus and bloodink covering it. Still, in these highlands, the cancerous presence of the Ever-ending Plot seems thinner, like the air itself. As the six step out of the train, they stare at the former mega-city below them that Evil G had once made his capital. In the monstrous stickerbrush of the tumorous masses of Plot, only the skeleton of the former Palace of Power can be made out, hanging as a canopy over a craterous void. Even from on high and far, the former hub of NeShattered reeks of terminal terrors and rumbles with nightmarish nothingness.

    Behind them, the train leaves.

    Chuck and Edward cling to Aariadon in fear, which Aariadon shares with them. Frey stands in traumatic shock, while Britt and Gebohq stare in virgin horror.


    Britt: "What is this?"

    Gebohq: "The Ever-ending Plot. It nearly wiped the Never-ending Story out, and I barely won out over it then. This, though... this is worse."

    Britt: "Wh... well the epic centre is in the middle, right? With a labyrinth of adventure to wade through. This will be a story worth telling!"

    Gebohq: "Are you insane? We can't possibly do this on our own! We need help!"

    Britt: "You heard that old man. There's no in or out for anybody now. It's just us!"

    Gebohq: "I bet the Antestarr of this world would know a way, but I doubt he's around anymore..."

    Aariadon: "Animal man? He's my friend!"

    Gebohq: "He's still alive?"

    Edward: "It's been a while since we've seen him, but if anyone else is still out here, it'd be him."

    Gebohq: "We have to find him! I'm sure he can invent something that will--"

    Britt: "We don't need help. They'll just be distracting."

    Gebohq: "I don't think you understand, lady--guy--whatever. That's not a story full of adventure ahead of us. That's suicide."

    Britt: "For you, maybe. I know better."

    Edward pulls at Gebohq's arm to get his attention.

    Edward: "You two can go ahead. We can go with Aari to get help."

    Gebohq: "No, we'll all go together. Splitting up the party is always a bad id--"

    Britt: "Great! Aaribadface and the kids can go do that, and I can go save the day."

    Gebohq: "I'm not letting you go on your own!"

    Britt: "Fine, you can come with me. It wouldn't be a legendary adventure without one of my family sidekicks, after all."

    Gebohq: "That's not what I meant! We're all going to get help!"

    Britt: "Fine, be a coward. I'll be answering the Hero's Call of Adventure. It's calling my name, after all."

    She starts to march off in the general direction of the epicenter.

    Frey: "I'll go with him! Aari and the others will need a way to keep in contact so they know where to send help."

    She waves a walkie-talkie-like device for everyone to see before following Britt.

    Gebohq: "But--"

    Chuck: "Off to find Animal Man!"

    With renewed purpose, Aariadon, Chuck, and Edward all head off in the opposite direction.

    Gebohq: "Hold up--"

    Both groups were already far enough away to claim plausible deniability in hearing his objections. He looks at both groups, torn at both directions before he sighs and chases after Britt and Frey.

    Gebohq: "Wait up!"
    Last edited by Gebohq; 09-28-2015 at 03:22 PM.

  7. #87
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    Geb quickly catches up with Frey and Brittica.

    Gebohq: We're going to regret splitting up, I just know it--

    Brittica: AHA!!!!

    Brittica has stopped so suddenly, that Geb bumps into her from behind and stumbles back. Britticia is too caught up in her eureka moment to notice however.

    Frey: What? What is it? Do you see something?

    Brittica: No... I FINALLY realized what I've been craving, for the last twelve thousand years!!!

    Gebohq: Er... okay?

    Brittica: A banana-crčme Oreo!

    She looks all around them hopefully.

    Brittica: You don't suppose there's a convenience store around here, do you?

  8. #88
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Phractal

    Britt: "Oreos..."

    Gebohq: "Doughnuts..."

    Britt: "Oreos..."

    Gebohq: "Doughnuts..."

    Britt: "Oreos!!"

    Gebohq: "Doughnuts!!!"

    Britt: "OREOS!!!!"

    Gebohq: "DOUGHNUTS!!!!!!!"

    Frey: "HOT CHOCOLATE!!!!"

    Gebohq and Britt stop shouting at each other and turn to Frey who looks quite sheepish.

    Frey: "I thought I'd join in..."

    The three of them walk up a short mound of ink and pus. Britt ickied at the sight of the yellow ooze and let Gebohq go first. Better he stood in the goop first so Britt could then avoid it second.

    Gebohq: "What's going on over there?"

    Britt pokes her head over Gebohq's shoulder to get a look. Down the other side of the mound is a plain of ink but on that plain is something that looks than an enormous shattered mirror - provided the pieces were suspended in the air of the mirror. Broken up into shards, through the break they can see more ink and pus but the sky through the shattered area is coloured pink. They approach the shatter with curiosity.

    Britt: "Any idea what that is?"

    Gebohq: "Probably some kind of plothole. Looks like it goes to another universe."

    Britt: "Maybe another Story?"

    Gebohq shrugs.

    Gebohq: "Who knows. Either way, it looks like the Eep's already been there and laid waste."

    They stare through into the other world, trying to imagine what it should have looked like.

    Britt: "Is this what the Eep actually does? Lay waste to everything?"

    Gebohq shrugs again.

    Gebohq: "That's all I've known it to do."

    Phractal: "And there will be more shatterings just like this throughout NeShattered."

    They all jump with fright as a crystalline figure steps, seemingly, from the cracks of the portal.

    Britt: "Who... what the Hell're you?"

    Phractal: "Not very polite are you, human? You can call me Phractal. Most creatures do."

    Britt: "Fractal?"

    Phractal: "No no. It's ph. Phractal."

    Britt: "It's pronounced the bloody same!"

    Phractal: "There you go being rude again."

    Gebohq: "Are you... guarding this shattering?"

    Phractal: "No. I just felt you approaching it. Imagine how it felt when the Eep came by here. It was unpleasant."

    Gebohq: "You said there are more like this. Has the Eep infected all of them?"

    Phractal: "Perhaps not all of them. Not yet. More are appearing every now and then, so I suppose the Eep will never truly take them all until... well until there is no more NeShattered to provide these portals. The NeShattered was never the most stable of dimensions, as you should know young hero. But the Eep's reign of terror and consumption of everything makes this world even... less stable. If it continues... well I wouldn't like to be here at the end. Let's just say that."

    Gebohq: "Are you from NeShattered then?"

    Phractal: "No. I'm from the same NeSiverse you are. It's little wonder you don't know me. I'm so far above little mortals such as yourselves..."

    Britt: "I bet you're not above the WriterGod though, eh? I've seen munchkins like you get all weak-kneed before Him before."

    Phractal: "Again. Rude."

    Gebohq: "So... you're telling us we should get out of NeShattered as soon as possible?"

    Phractal: "Essentially, yes. You and whatever other life has managed to escape the Eep here. I doubt there's a long list. Of course, the better solution would be to destroy the Eep at its source!"

    Gebohq: "There's such a thing!?"

    Phractal: "Perhaps. A great tear in the multiverse from which spills the very blackness you see about you now. Seal it up and you'll save the NeShattered and every world connected to it."

    Britt: "And stop it from ever reaching the NeS?"

    Phractal: "Correct. It's already found a way. A small crack that went unseen. Now it seeps into the NeSiverse, creeping and crawling through the streets. Every moment it increases and builds its strength."

    Frey: "So there's ... no running away from it..."

    Phractal: "You could run. Run home. But the Eep will follow. Run abroad to another Story. But eventually the Eep will find you there too. All Stories will come to an end when the Eep consumes them."

    Britt: "All Stories? If the Eep destroys one Story, won't another Story rise in its place?"

    Phractal: "Maybe so! But the Eep will already be there, slipping through the narrative until it strangles the life out of that Story too."

    Britt's hopes are dashed. Assuming this weird bloke made of glass knows what he's talking about. Britt is internally torn.

    Gebohq: "So... can you point a finger in the direction of this epicentre of evil?"

    Phractal: "A finger?"

    Gebohq: "Uh... right. A crystal?"

    Phractal: "Rudeness... allow the Story to guide you, human. You will find it. And then you must seal it."

    Gebohq: "How do we do that?"

    Phractal, however, is already gone - slipped back into the cracks of space-time to his own crystalline tower.

    Britt: "That's as good as 'wander around aimlessly til you find something ominous-looking'."

    Gebohq: "And then what? We find it and I... stab the Eep? Kick it? Bite it?"

    Britt: "Offer it bacon sandwiches?"

    Britt and Gebohq smile at the thought.

    Britt & Gebohq: "Bacon sandwiches..."

  9. #89

    Finding Old Friends

    --------------------------
    Will of the Lights
    --------------------------
    Frey
    : "So those shards are portals to other story realms."

    Gebohq: "We could get help from outside then, one the EeP hasn't taken over yet!"

    Frey: "I wouldn't hold your breath. Me and the others thought the same but, well, you can see for yourself."

    She gestures to another portal farther away, similar to the broken mirror one they saw before. Thousand of inky tendrils of the Ever-ending Plot rush and whip through the shards of the portal, a mindless maelstrom of the primal mass engulfing the entrances. Distant screams and sounds of warfare echo from the other side. A colossal and highly-advanced fiery-colored mech punches its way through one of the shards for them to see, aggressively fighting to advance further. The mech slams into the ground as the mass of pus and blood snap down like a mighty jaw, grinding and dissolving the mech into itself.

    The distant cries of battle from beyond are dying.

    Gebohq and Britt survey the monstrous bramble of masses which was once the mega-capital of the Shattered world, and long before that, the city of London. Dotting the landscape, the two see similar broken portals.


    Britt: "That settles it, then. Like I said before, the epic-center is where we need to be. I wish that pee-aych-wracktal thing would have been a little more helpful."

    Gebohq: "Or even Thand. All we got to go on is that the Story will guide us. I still think that means there."

    He points ahead, in the middle of the massive bramble of pus and bloodink, where the skeletal remains of the Palace of Power can be seen.

    Britt: "To the greatest adventure yet!"

    Gebohq, Frey, and Britt continue scaling down the heights from which they started out. As they reach the bottom, they realize just how towering and tangling the masses of the Ever-ending Plot actually are, their vision before them murky from the very air. A solitary path resembling a railroad track lies before them, running through the thick swamp of the Ever-ending Plot.

    Britt: "The plot thickens!"

    Gebohq sighs.

    Britt: "Oh come on, it wasn't that bad."

    Gebohq: "Sorry. I just keep thinking of what we're up against, what happened before... it's depressing. And I ran out of my meds a while ago."

    Britt: "Meds?"

    Gebohq: "For my depression. Last time I was here, before I had them, I went full emo."

    Britt: "Well don't worry about anything, alright?"

    She slaps a hand on Gebohq's shoulder.

    Britt: "You got me here with you. I'll set things right. You'll see."

    The three hike their way into the Plot.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    At first, the track the three traverse remains solid and straight. Britt skips from sleeper to sleeper which tie the rails on either side, with Frey sometimes following when not balancing her walk on one of the rails, and Gebohq just walking behind, lost in his thoughts. Much of the ground surrounding them appears as a muddy, soupy marsh of pus and blood-ink, while hardened clots pillar and canopy their surroundings. Occasionally, a clearing opens to a side, with small shards of a portal to another dead or dying story-realm hovering in view.

    As they progress, they see dead bodies of those who once resided in the Shattered Realm, either floating in the marsh itself or tangled in the stickerbrush masses. Strangely, none of the bodies seem to belong to any obviously villainous characters, and some even appear to be holy knight-and-cleric types. The track that the three follow becomes harder to follow, dipping into the marsh, winding in sharper grades of incline and decline no actual train could stay on, eventually missing chunks of the track itself. Britt, now mostly adjusted to his new body, navigates the jumps with ease. Gebohq eyes the marsh below uneasily as he jumps across increasing gaps.

    Frey slips on one of her jumps and falls into the marsh.


    Gebohq: "Frey!"

    Britt: "Hold on!"

    Slowly sinking into the thick marsh of pus and bloodink, Frey naturally starts to panic. Several of the floating dead bodies start to move towards her.

    dead bodies: "Envy... kill... for good..."

    Frey: "HELP!"

    Britt starts pulling, and her struggling pulls her in more.

    Frey: "Pull harder!"

    Britt: "Stop flailing!"

    Gebohq gets behind Britt and pulls with him. Britt waves one of his arms, and a wave of chamomile tea materializes from his tasseomancy powers and sprays around Frey. While it has no initial effect on the undead approaching Frey, Frey herself relaxes. Britt and Gebohq pull her out, and the undead bodies stop moving. Their gazes seem to remain locked on Frey. Frey whines sadly as she looks at herself.

    Britt: "Gross."

    The three do their best to clean off Frey, largely thanks to Britt's use of his tasseomancy and Gebohq offering his shirt as a towel, leaving him with his undershirt on. As they look ahead, they notice a gap in the track much too large for them to jump. The track leads into further murky darkness.

    Britt: "I think we can use something above as a rope to swing--"

    Frey: "Look!"

    Branching off, beyond apparent solid ground, a light flickers, and a voice whispers.

    Voice: "Frey..."

    Frey: "Rain! You're not dead!"

    Britt: "Who's Rain?"

    Voice: "Frey..."

    The voice grows more distant, as does the light.

    Frey: "Rain, wait!"

    Gebohq: "Frey, stop!"

    She bolts up and starts running to the light before Gebohq can stop her.

    Gebohq: "We're not following the story..."

    Britt: "Or we are! Either way, we have to get her back. Come on!"

    Gebohq relents, and the two chase after Frey.

    --------------------------
    Spirited and Spotlighted
    --------------------------

    Britt and Gebohq chase after Frey, who herself chases after a flickering light. The light distances from Frey in a jerking fashion, never leaving her sight yet never close enough to get a bearing on.

    Frey: "Rain! I won't lose you again!"

    There seems no end to the chase as the three run farther from the clear path and into the bramble-like maze of hardened bloodink. Gebohq, with his natural ability for running and acrobatics, manages to catch up with Frey and tackles her to the ground.

    Frey: "Let go of me! I can't lose him again!"

    Gebohq: "Get a hold of yourself!"

    Britt pants as she catches up with where Gebohq and Frey are, with Frey continuing to struggle.

    Gebohq: "Help me with her, Britt."

    Frey: "I'm going to lose him again!"

    Britt: "No, Frey. Look."

    She holds Frey's head to look ahead, and the three see that the flickering light has stopped in its place. Gebohq allows Frey to stand up, as she no longer seems to be struggling.

    Frey: "Rain?"

    Voice: "Frey... come."

    The light starts leaving again. Frey tries to follow once more, but Gebohq and Britt hold her back.

    Gebohq: "Wait, Frey."

    She stops resisting again, and soon, the light stops retreating. It slowly moves back where it had been, just out of sight to identify what it might be in the thick air.

    Voice: "Frey..."

    Frey: "Rain, what's going on?"

    Voice: "Unfinished business... we must put an end to evil..."

    Frey: "To the EeP? We tried, Rain, and we failed! You died, Rain, and so did everyone else. You should be dead."

    Voice: "There is still evil, Frey, here among us..."

    Frey: "I know, Rain. That's why I'm on a quest to stop it, once and for all."

    The light moves closer to the three, and they can now see that the flickering light comes from a ghostly lantern held by the spirit of a teenage boy about Frey's age. He appears to have been the type in life with fiery-blue hair in an outfit with far too many chains and zippers, and in death, his appearance adds to his macabre fate. Ethereal threads of bloodink string from above the spirit as a puppet.

    Rain: "The evils of arrogance and cowardice stand before us... We must put an end to them..."

    He points to Britt and Gebohq, and Frey looks at them and back at Rain in confusion.

    Frey: "No, they're good guys. Guys we should aspire to have been."

    Rain: "Envy... you are corrupted..."

    Britt: "Alright, the ellipses is growing stale. Sorry, Frey, he's got to go."

    Swirling her arms, Britt conjures a stream of tea straight at the heart of the ghostly Rain. The tea flies right through it with no effect. Rain draws a spectral sword and drifts towards the three.

    Britt: "Uh... we might want to run."

    Gebohq: "Now you're talking my language!"

    As they turn to escape, though, several other lantern-carrying spirits appear to surround them. One looks to be a sullen and serious young man with raven hair covering half his face, another a burly black man with a rocket launcher for an arm, and yet another some pillowy cat-thing in loose knight's armor that would look comical if it wasn't dead, all with the same wispy threads of bloodink tied to them.

    Frey: "Pierce, Cliff, Sir Meowsalot!"

    Gebohq: "And I thought I had a bad name."

    Britt: "You do."

    Gebohq: "At least mine's original."

    Britt: "At least the cat doesn't cough up a hairball trying to say his."

    Frey: "Guys!"

    Gebohq: "Right, the ghosts."

    Frey: "This is it, isn't it?"

    Britt: "Speak for yourself. My body will die, but my essence lives on elsewhere. Then it'll be take two with this EeP-thing. It was nice knowing you two--"

    Gebohq: "I've got an idea."

    He brandishes his NeSword.

    Britt: "Uh, they're ghosts, smart guy. You can't hurt them."

    Gebohq: "I'm not fighting them. I'm setting them free."

    Britt: "Huh?"

    The NeSword glows. As Rain raises his sword to strike down Gebohq, he swings at the threads of bloodink holding its sword arm. The strings cut loose, and the spirit's sword arm goes limp. The sword falls from his hand, disappearing into the air. Gebohq slices the remaining strings, and Rain's spirit floats away, disappearing as the sword did.

    Britt: "Right. Glad you figured that out. I got to let you solve some of these things, after all."

    Brandishing her axe, Britt sliced away at the threads holding Cliff, while Frey used a knife to slice the threads that held up Pierce. The three then simultaneously cut the bloodink strings on Sir Meowsalot before nearly collapsing in exhaustion. Despite their condition, the three put their backs to each other and hold a defensive position, expecting more danger.

    They only confront silence.


    Gebohq: "I don't understand. Why aren't there more things attacking us?"

    Britt: "Do you want more things attacking us?"

    Gebohq: "It's the Plot. It predicts everything, sees all cause and effect, devises plans within plans. We've been deep in its den, yet we've had it easy."

    Britt: "You call that easy?"

    Frey: "I can't explain why, but I don't think it's quite as you knew it. The EeP as I've known it never seems to have been very smart or calculating, but more like an animal acting on instinct. We might survive through the den of the beast, so long as we keep a low profile."

    Britt: "Whatever works to get us to the center."

    She looks around.

    Britt: "Uh... speaking of, how do we get there? We seem to have gotten er..."

    Frey: "Lost?"

    Britt: "I was going to say directionally-impaired."

    Gebohq: "We follow the story."

    Britt: "Which means?"

    Gebohq: "I 'unno. What seems to stand out?"

    Britt looks around, sniffing the air.

    Britt: "That way."

    Frey: "Why that way?"

    Britt: "Because it doesn't smell as bad. Also, the giant spotlight."

    She points up, where they can see through a convenient opening in the canopy. Atop the tallest tower of the skeletal remains of the Palace of Power, a colossal spotlight shines bright. The light beams currently at a portal high in the air, where an impressive and dangerous-looking dragon-shaped sillouette attempts to fly out. It breathes a mighty stream of plasma at the thousand tendrils of the EeP, which only seems to strengthen the EeP's grip on it before the EeP practically disintegrates. A massive pillar of pus and bloodink shoot up to the portal's level, and the tendrils barrage into the portal entrance.

    Gebohq: "I wish I didn't think you were right."

    Britt: "Buck up, Geb. It's just a deadly spotlight."

    Gebohq: "You're awful casual about death."

    Britt: "I've done it before."

    Gebohq: "So have I!"

    Britt: "Really?"

    Gebohq: "Yeah, a few times now, I think. The writers are bastards like that."

    Britt: "Weird... All the more reason to relax, then."

    Gebohq: "I don't like dying! It might stick next time."

    Britt: "At least you don't have to worry about a psychotic demon-woman when you die."

    Gebohq: "What?"

    Britt: "Nothing, let's move on."

    The three move towards the epicenter of the Ever-ending Plot once more.

    --------------------------
    Setting the Bar
    --------------------------

    Survival starts to sink into the minds of Britt, Gebohq, and Frey as they navigate their way through the stark stickerbrush of hardened bloodink. Far from a clear path that figuratively and literally railroaded their journey, the three cautiously step on root-like platforms above the murky liquid pus and ink below and avoid sharp protrusions that threaten to stab a careless traveler. Often, the canopy above proves too thick to see even the massive spotlight, and when it does not, they glance only briefly to establish their direction. Once, Gebohq had stared at it for too long, and the spotlight swept to search their area, nearly catching the three before they had a chance to hide.

    However, the worst of their journey at this point proves to be the smells and sounds. Most of the time, the smell only irritates with a hint of sulfur, iron, and chemical fume. The spilling and scratching sounds too echoed quietly, almost so quiet that the three question their sanity. Headaches rose with the three of them, fed by a growing frustration in their sensation of walking in circles.


    Britt: "This adventure is starting to get old."

    Gebohq: "Not as old as you."

    Britt repeats Gebohq's "Not as old as you" in a mock-Geb voice.

    Frey: "Stop! We're not getting anywhere with this!"

    Britt and Gebohq stop, turning their attention to an exacerbated Frey.

    Frey: "Can't you two work together and figure out how to get to this 'center' already? It's practically dangling above us."

    Britt: "Assuming that's where we need to be."

    Gebohq: "What are you getting at?"

    Britt: "Well you were just guessing this 'center' was at this Palace of Power or whatever, right? You don't know that for sure. And neither the old man nor the wracktal-thing said for sure. It could be at the bottom of an ocean or in the middle of the sun for all we know."

    Gebohq: "Well, do you have any better ideas?"

    Britt: "Nope! That's why I'm still going at this. I might just as well start digging a hole or shouting for this EeP to just end me so I can kill this rut I'm in and start over."

    Gebohq: "Well why don't you then!"

    Britt: "I would! I... I'm just afraid it might stick here."

    Gebohq sobers up in his frustration, as does Britt.

    Britt: "I could really use a drink."

    As Britt hangs her head, Gebohq's eyes widen as he spots something. He holds Britt close to his side and points at it.

    Gebohq: "Well today's our lucky day."

    She looks up to see that Gebohq's finger points towards what conveniently abandoned bar. Despite that the building stands surrounded by the same pus and bloodink as everywhere else, it remains clearly a recognizable bar, the masses of bloodink only serving to outline the structure. Also, there still stands a sign that reads "Conveniently Abandoned Bar" above its entrance.

    Gebohq: "A familiar sight sight for sore eyes!"

    Britt: "You've been there before?"

    Gebohq: "Yes, when I was last here. Come to think of it, what's it doing still here?"

    Britt: "Maybe it's a trap?"

    Gebohq: "I hate traps."

    Britt: "Most people do."

    Frey: "I think I know why. I've seen it less and less, but when I saw the Plot spreading before, it would sometimes ignore certain buildings and people."

    Gebohq: "Like they were holy places?"

    Frey: "I don't think the Plot was avoiding them out of fear. I think it was...saving them. Like a dog that buries its bone."

    Gebohq: "Things for the Plot... it's leaving key plot points from before, leaving the essentials and stripping everything else."

    Britt: "How morbid. Can we get a drink already? I can fix us up some good mixers."

    He nods, and the three of them enter the bar. Broken chairs and flipped tables still remain from the barfight that happened so many pages ago. Britt swings around behind the bar counter and starts rummaging for any remaining drinks with Frey sitting as an eager patron. Gebohq, meanwhile, walks around the space, recalling the events so long ago.

    Frey: "I'll have a cosmo!"

    Britt: "I'm not sure you're old enough to be having adult drinks."

    Frey: "Are you really going to card me?"

    Britt: "What? You're a growing child! What you need is a Guinness. It's like a meal, in a drink!"

    Frey: "Oh..."

    Britt: "Hey Geb, what do you want? ...Geb? Earth to Geb?"

    Gebohq, crouched low by the opening in the floor where The Last True Evil first found Amal, turns to Britt.

    Gebohq: "I think I know why the Plot cares about this place. Look."

    Britt and Frey walk over to the pit where Gebohq remains crouching, Frey with a Guiness in her hand and Britt with a Rum and Coke in one hand and a Bloody Mary in the other. They all look down in the hole. The space below forms a small circular chamber with no discernable entry or exit, with a small, makeshift bed - more a bundle of rags than a place to rest one's head on one side and two small openings in the wall on the other. Nearly hidden, beside the head of the makeshift bed, lays an open locket, displaying a very well-drawn portrait. In the portrait, a newborn Amal lies cradled in the arms of a young man.

    The Last True Evil.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-24-2017 at 12:22 PM.

  10. #90

    Finding Hope

    Chapter 2 - The Cause

    The three look down into the pit, which lies about a floor's worth beneath them.


    Britt: "So we're getting that thing, right?"

    Gebohq: "I worry about digging up this dog's bone."

    Britt: "Well, we don't exactly have a ladder, or rope, or whatever handy either. It's not like we can just jump down and back out with it..."

    Brittica pauses to take a drink from the rum and Coke.

    Gebohq: "That gives me an idea."

    Britt: "...so we'll just finish our drinks--"

    --------------------------------------------

    Brittica, Frey, and Gebohq now sit at the one unbroken table with the locket in front of them.

    Britt: "--and be on our...way?"

    She shifts her confused gaze to Gebohq.

    Britt: "What'd you do?"

    Gebohq: "I made a plot jump."

    Britt: "A what?"

    Gebohq: "A plot jump. In and out. Skipped right over the details on how the mystery locket got on the table. Keeps the Plot away for a bit."

    Britt: "You can do that?"

    Gebohq: "...yes?"

    Britt: "How?!"

    For a moment, Gebohq appears as if he'd clearly answer, then stops. He considers for a moment.

    Gebohq: "I'm not sure I should explain it."

    Britt: "Bull****! You don't know what you're doing, and it doesn't make any sense!"

    Gebohq: "Stop poking at the plot hole! It'll just make things worse!"

    Britt: "Or maybe your mad magic is making things worse!"

    Gebohq and Brittica stand up from their seats, ready for another spat, when Frey holds her hands out between the two.

    Frey: "How about we decide what to do with this thing, ok?"

    Gebohq: "That's simple. We're going to see why it's so important, of course."

    Britt: "It's just a locket. It's not about to put on a show to share its secrets with us--"

    As Brittica nearly finishes her thoughts, Gebohq waves his hand, palm up, over the locket, as if to show it off. In a flash, the space above the table the locket lays on shows a rural Russian home.

    Britt: "--unless you do that."

    Gebohq: "I couldn't have done it without you."

    He smiles. Brittica scowls. The three watch the flashback scene play out before them...

    ---------------------------------------------

    Setting: 1983, Rural Russia, deep in the depths of Siberia. While the rest of the Soviet Union have the heavy thoughts of the Cold War hanging over their heads, one young man in this rural home knows nothing of it as he stares out the kitchen window. The young man has short, neatly combed black hair, with a clean shaven face, and wears a loose white working shirt and work slacks fit for a blacksmith or farmer. His build is both stocky from a life of working both metal and land and lean from youth. The man appears to be the same as the young TLTE on the locket. His foster parents -- the Russian ideal of working-class citizens -- sit at the table behind him, finishing their humble homemade meal, glancing at the young man with some apprehension. The foster father stands up and walks to place a hand on the young TLTE's shoulder.

    He begins speaking Russian. Fortunately, subtitles are available.


    Foster Father: "Son, we need to talk."

    Young TLTE: "Yes, Papa?"

    Foster Father: "These past eighteen years, your mama and I have raised you as best we could. I have taught you how to wield the hammer and work metal, and mama has taught you how to wield the sickle and work the land. You have worked hard, and for that, we are proud of you."

    Young TLTE: "And I will keep making you proud! I'll keep working hard to support our Russian brothers and sisters, don't you worry."

    Foster Father: "I have no doubt, son. Your life is not here, though. It was never here..."

    The foster father motions to the foster mother. She stands up and starts collecting things: a sack of money, wrapping breads, clothes and blankets, a canteen of water. Despite the assortment, the total items appear small and meager as they are added on the table. The young TLTE stands confused.

    Foster Father: "It is time that you set out into the world, son. We have provided you with the money you would have earned working with us. It should be enough to enroll for a proper education in Moscow."

    The young TLTE stands in mild shock.

    Young TLTE: "Right now? Winter is heavy upon us. Should I not stay and help through this harsh time, and embark at the start of--"

    Foster Father: "No!"

    The young TLTE blinks in surprise. The foster father shifts in his position.

    Foster Father: "Do you remember what I've taught you about dawdling?"

    Young TLTE: "Of course, Papa -- an idle son makes an idle soul."

    Foster Father: "That's right! And Mother Russia, harsh though she may be now, will teach you best in the end. After you make that first step, after you've experienced what Mother Russia has to teach, nothing will be able to stand in your way."

    The foster mother hands the young TLTE a large sack which contained all that had been collected. He reluctantly rests the sack over his shoulder. The father figure opens the front door for the young TLTE.

    Foster Father: "Take care, son."

    In a strangely calm and distant manner, the foster father and mother go about their business, the father returning to clearing the table and the mother sweeping the floor. The young TLTE looks at his foster parents with innocent confusion.

    Young TLTE: "Perhaps I should wait until it is at least morning..."

    The foster father and mother, with frying pan and broom in hand respectively, proceed to shoo the young TLTE out the door, closing the door behind him. He turns to look at the door, then back out to the Siberian wilderness before him. He turns once more to the door.

    Young TLTE: "I'll be sure to write back home at every moment I can!"

    He adjusts the sack on his shoulder.

    Young TLTE: "Best be off to schooling then."

    With that, the young TLTE walks into the Siberian wilderness, towards the setting sun. The foster parents watch from a window as the young TLTE disappears into the wilderness. They hold each other close as silent moments pass. Then, from the side, a KGB officer approaches and knocks on their door. The foster father kisses the foster mother on the head before answering the door.

    Foster Father: "We've done as you instructed, sir."

    It is now clear that the KGB officer is, in fact, Romanov -- the man in charge of The Last True Evil project.

    Romanov: "You were supposed to have sent him off on his way much earlier."

    Foster Father: "Can you blame us for keeping him longer?"

    Romanov: "I suppose not. Your mission is now complete. You have pleased the State. Unfortunately, for you two, the KGB cannot allow our subjects to have any close bonds, not even EC-105."

    The foster father holds the foster mother close to him as she cries. He closes his own eyes in fear. Romanov raises his pistol.

    Romanov: "For The Last True Evil."

    Romanov shoots twice, and the foster parents fall at the doorstop. He takes out a cigarette and lights it, then throws the match into the house. He walks away as the house begins to burn.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    About a week passes by. The young TLTE, low on supplies, considers once more that perhaps he should have journeyed on a road instead of listening to his gut to "go west because Moscow is west." Snow falls heavy, and even the native Siberian begin to feel the effects of the cold. He knows that, if he does not find shelter soon, that he will likely freeze to death.

    What he does not know is that a small contingent of KGB agents, led by Romanov, have been following him in secret, studying his survival skills.


    KGB Agent #1: "Sir, the brass back at Central will be expecting an update soon. Should we tell them that TLTE the Hero will be brought back into the fold?"

    Romanov: "This clone hasn't earned that title yet, agent. As far as I'm concerned, right now, he's TLTE the One That Died Getting Lost in Siberian Wilderness."

    KGB Agent #1: "So we put him out of his misery, then? Central would not want us wasting much more time."

    Romanov: "I do think "TLTE the One Shot in Siberian Wilderness" would look better on the paperwork. Have your men prepare for---"

    He is interrupted as a behemoth of a man appears from above, swatting one of the KGB agents with his beefy arm thirty yards straight into a tree. The mountainous man's white hair whips in the wind.

    Romanov: "The Patriot?!"

    KGB Agent #1: "Prepare to open fire--"

    Romanov: "Belay that order! We must remain under cover at all costs."

    Before the agent can object, the Patriot grabs the agent by the throat and holds him off the ground. Romanov pulls out a large syringe from one of his pockets and jabs it into The Patriot's leg. The Patriot roars in pain like a bear, dropping the agent to the ground.

    Romanov: "Everyone, pull back!"

    Agent #3: "What about the clone, sir?"

    Romanov: "He'll be our bait, and known now as TLTE the One To Die for His Comrades."

    Romanov and the agents scramble away as the Patriot attempts to regain his bearings, using thrown sticks and other sounds of misdirection to lead the Patriot towards the young TLTE.

    Meanwhile, the young TLTE hears the commotion.


    Young TLTE: "Seems some wildlife had a tussle with a bear... and it's coming closer."

    Lacking the stealth skills of the KGB agents, the young TLTE starts running away in a noisey fashion. The Patriot, locking onto the noise, pursues. Hearing his pursuit, the young TLTE picks up his pace, the snow crunching even louder below him, running between the thick trees before nearly heading straight into a small cliffside. Panicking, the young TLTE spins around, not yet seeing his pursuer. He backs himself against the cliffside, and nearly yelps in surprise as he loses his balance falling through the cliffside as if it wasn't there. The Patriot appears just after, missing what had happened. The Patriot studies the ground intently. He sniffs the air, then looks up at the branches, before searching elsewhere.

    The young TLTE, after regaining his own bearings, looks around at his new surroundings.

    Darkness.

    He fumbles in his sack until he finds a matchbox. He lights it.

    He appears to be in a cave. The cave has an unlit boxed lantern hanging on a nearby side wall. The young TLTE lights the lantern and takes it off the wall, examining his surroundings more thoroughly.

    The cave is small and man-made. At the end of the cave is a single wooden table and chair. On the table rests a number of papers and writing implements, a small mirror, flasks, a bunsen burner, and other tools of experimentation. Most promimently on the table, however, rests an ancient jar about the size and shape of a large human head. The young TLTE, gripped with curiosity, sits down and places the lantern on the table. He notices one leaf of paper next to the jar which reads as follows:


    (x) - Earth of Eden
    (x) - Eye of an Eternal
    (x) - Heat of Hell
    (x) - Hair of a Hero
    (x) - Agua of Atlantis
    (x) - Appendix of an Alien
    ( ) - Air of Avalon ________?
    ( ) - Ambition of an Angel
    The paper, however, is not written in Russian, so the young TLTE does not understand any of it. He is quite hungry, though, and the jar holds some small hope for him that it may contain food. He opens the lid and gazes inside, breathing heavily in anticipation. The shadow cast by the lantern light makes the inside of the jar dark. As the young TLTE reaches for the lantern, though, he notices words in a language he doesn't understand apparently materializing in the air, and then a rush of water that spreads across the floor of the cave. The inside of the jar starts to glow, quickly to such an intensity that the young TLTE is blinded.

    In the blinding light, the young TLTE sees the silhouette of a small figure. It waves at him.


    Young TLTE: "Who are you?"

    Figure: "I don't know. I've just been born."

    Young TLTE: "Like a newborn baby boy?"

    Figure: "Ah... I suppose I'm a newborn baby boy then."

    The light lessens in intensity, and coalesces into a naked newborn baby boy, lying on the table.

    The young TLTE blinks in moderate shock.


    Young TLTE: "Oh my."

    He then passes out in the chair.

    (NSN: Part 2 to come!)
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-24-2017 at 03:08 PM.

  11. #91
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Finding Hope - Part 2

    TLTE is seated at the dinner table with his foster parents. The radio is on and they listen to General Secretary Yuri Andropov comdemning the actions by the US President Ronald Reagan. Reagan was making plans to build missiles in Eastern Europe and Andropov gave the scathing remark that America should stop looking for ways to begin a nuclear war. His father shakes his head with disappointment at the state of the world while his mother reassures him that they would be fine - who would want to drop a nuclear bomb in the middle of nowhere?

    He looks out of the window of the kitchen and sees the cold and still snow. Then a light in the distance. It rises up into a cloud. A mushroom cloud. He gasps. Then the shockwave hits the house.

    TLTE snaps awake.


    TLTE: "A... dream..."

    There, on the table before him, is a baby. He then remembers the strange and sudden appearance of the child and wonders how much, if any, of that had been a dream too. Quickly he empties his sack of its contents and wraps the baby in the material. He then buries the child into his coat to keep the poor boy warm. The baby, despite the cold, shows no signs of discomfort and just stares up at his protector with blank eyes. TLTE grabs a flask from his belongings with one hand and pops the cap off. Luckily his mama had always taught him the importance of drinking milk. It helps you grow big and strong. He drips a little of the milk into the boy's mouth. The baby tries to grab the bottle but TLTE holds it firm, lest the boy spill milk everywhere.

    After a little while of this, TLTE removes his coat and sits the boy down all wrapped up in the overly large coat. He shudders from the cold himself but he'll lives longer than a baby without the coat. He only has to go outside for a few minutes anyway.


    He hurries along the cave, following the breeze in the air, until he reaches the exit. It's quite narrow but he manages to squeeze through it. All around are larch trees and plenty of easily breakable branches. He snaps as many as he can carry and throws them through the hole. A short while later he has a fire going, aided by the bunsen burner left in the room by its previous occupant. A few more trips to the world outside and he has plenty of firewood for the rest of the night. He settles down beside the fire, chair pulled up, coat on and babe wrapped inside it. The baby is still surprisingly quiet but TLTE likes that. He is sure they're supposed to cry but he isn't going to complain. He remembers listening to an old radio show about babies when he was thirteen. It was either that or listen to old men debating the cost of living in Moscow. In the end child-rearing turns out to have been the better choice. He knows singing isn't his forté but it ought to help the boy fall to sleep at least.

    TLTE: "Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
    Arise, ye prisoners of want.
    For reason in revolt now thunders,
    and at last ends the age of cant!
    Away with all your superstitions,
    Servile masses, arise, arise!
    We'll change henceforth the old tradition,
    And spurn the dust to win the prize!

    So comrades, come rally,
    And the last fight let us face.
    The Internationale
    Unites the human race.
    So comrades, come rally,
    And the last fight let us face.
    The Internationale
    Unites the human race."

    By the end of the first stanza, the boy is asleep. Now he snores ever so softly, the most noise the baby has made since his appearance. Amongst his possessions he spies an old locket. It was a tatty old thing, unshined in years and probably worth very little. However it had been his grandfather's. His foster grandfather anyway. His mother explained that her father had died working for a government project. She would never say what it was but she held a lot of resentment over the issue, deep-seated within her. Her father had given her the locket as a memento meant to house a portrait of her true love. However, for some reason, she never put a picture of TLTE's father in there. And so it remained empty. One day she gave it to TLTE and asked that he do the same with it - put his true love's portrait within it. But now, as he looks down at the wonderful child in his arms, he doesn't think true love is as simple as a man meeting a woman. Using some of the tools and a mirror found on the table, TLTE sketches himself and the baby onto paper. He surprises himself, apparently discovering a long-forgotten skill in art. He remembered drawing a lot when he was young but work had always gotten in the way. The farm needed tending. Now it all comes back to him as he works. When he is done he puts the small sketch into the locket. He snaps it shut. Then opens it. A simple test and the locket is finished. He admires himself in the small picture. He thinks there is something 'right' about what he sees. He feels he is bound to the little boy and he to him.

    He takes off his coat and wraps the boy up near to the fire, though not so close as to catch fire. He then curls up nearby ready for sleep. His eyes feel heavy and they blink. Once. Twice. Then close.

    ...


    The Patriot: "So this is where you've been hiding..."

    TLTE's eyes snap open.

    Standing in the cave is a tall man with broad shoulders and wearing the most outrageous outfit TLTE has ever laid eyes upon. TLTE struggles to his feet.


    TLTE: "Wh-who're you?"

    The Patriot: "Like you don't know. I'm the scourge of your kind. Capitalist, God-fearing and righteous. That's who I am."

    There is a pause as TLTE tries to process this. He can tell the man is American as he's wearing the flag on his clothes but he has to wonder what the crazy man is doing here and why he wants TLTE. Is America invading!? Was his mama wrong? Maybe Siberia is worth attacking after all!

    Suddenly the man leaps over the fire at TLTE. TLTE barely has time to blink...
    There is a pause as TLTE tries to process this. He can tell the man is American as he's wearing the flag on his clothes but he has to wonder what the crazy man is doing here and why he wants TLTE. Is America invading!? Was his mama wrong? Maybe Siberia is worth attacking after all!

    Suddenly the man leaps over the fire at TLTE. TLTE barely has time to blink...

    To be continues in Part 3.

  12. #92

    Finding Hope - Part 3

    The fire cracks as The Patriot leaps over it and onto the young man to be known as The Last True Evil. In a flash of speed and strength, The Patriot lifts and slams The Last True Evil against the cavern wall. Consciousness hangs tenuously in The Last True Evil's grip.

    The Patriot: "What are you up to here? What are you plotting?"

    Comprehension remains out of The Last True Evil's grasp, however, as he struggles to regain his senses. The Patriot shakes The Last True Evil as one would with an old CRT television set.

    The Patriot: "ANSWER ME!"

    Surprisingly, the shake snaps The Last True Evil into alert sobriety. He uncontrollably glances at the newborn baby swaddled completely in cloth, and The Patriot turns his head to see the bundle of cloth as well.

    The Patriot: "The latest Soviet secret weapon, no doubt."

    Without care, The Patriot lets The Last True Evil fall from the wall onto the ground and slowly walks to the swaddled baby. Instinctively, The Last True Evil rushes to knock The Patriot aside. He swings his arms, and recoils immediately as if attempting to knock aside a steel building, The Patriot apparently taking no notice. As The Patriot leans over to grab the swaddled package, though, The Last True Evil swoops past, scooping the newborn baby with him, rushing non-stop out of the cave.

    Outside, the winds whip the snow through the moon-lit forest. The Last True Evil dashes to a tree with high roots, where he squirrelled the newborn baby under for the barest of protection and obfuscation. He then stumbled all around, looking for a large enough broken branch of large stone, but found only The Patriot now standing at the cave entrance. The Last True Evil pauses in place.


    The Patriot: "Where did you hide it?"

    In response, The Last True Evil stands tall. The Patriot leans back, assessing the apparent strength behind his adversary's new antagonistic presence. In turn, The Patriot slams his fist into his palm, the cracking of his knuckles echoing through the forest.

    Yelling a Russian battlecry, The Last True Evil runs once more at The Patriot, throwing his whole body into the charge. The Last True Evil never connects, though, as The Patriot pre-emptively strikes with his own meaty fist square into The Last True Evil's sternum. The Last True Evil's body propels at blinding speed into a nearby tree, nearly felling the tree in the act.

    The Last True Evil sees a divine light before his eyes. He attempts to crawl away from the light, blinded by both the blood dripping from his head and from any conscious thought other than the sheer drive to protect the child, to protect the ideals of hard work and brotherhood he held dear. He knew it was a mistake to ignore the light. He knew he was dying, and that he would not succeed, and yet he struggles weakly to defy. His arm reaches out to the root which hid the newborn child. The Patriot marches over to The Last True Evil's prone body...


    A robed, shadowy figure, one that had been approaching the cave entrance, stops as it sees The Patriot. The figure raises its arm, holding a wand-like object in hand, and swishes it towards The Patriot. Just as The Patriot prepares to deliver a killing blow to The Last True Evil, radio static flares up on The Patriot's side. The Patriot stops his killing blow and instead pulls out a walkie talkie from his side. The radio static focuses into a voice.

    Walkie-Talkie Voice: "This is HQ. Return to base immediately. Emergency Code Yankee Uniform Lima Echo Echo. Maintain radio silence. Repeat, return to base immediately. Over."

    The Patriot stares at The Last True Evil below his feet, considering his options. Growling, The Patriot stashes his walkie-talkie away before marching into the distance.

    A few moments after The Patriot can no longer be seen or heard, the robed figure approaches the cave entrance. The figure's robe can now be seen as clearly blue, but the figure's hood obscures its face in the snowy night conditions. The figure glances at the prone body of The Last True Evil momentarily before turning to enter the cave.

    As the figure enters the cave, it sees the fire and the disturbed jar on the desk. The robed figure rushes over to the desk, searching for something, and apparently failing to find what it was looking for. The figure whips its hood off to reveal the face of an old man with long, neatly-tied white hair and an unkempt white beard -- Arkng Thand.


    Arkng Thand: "It's gone! The Character Slate, gone! The Patriot must have it! Him, or..."

    He runs back out of the cave entrance and to the still-prone body of The Last True Evil. Arkng Thand bends down and sees the swaddled newborn baby boy.

    Arkng Thand: "No... it's ruined. I'll have to start over again..."

    Raising his ahnd, Arkng Thand prepares to cast some destructive magic at the newborn child.

    The Last True Evil: "Hope...will...work..."

    The words barely carry as The Last True Evil struggles to say them, speaking his mind to himself as he vainly tries to reach for the newborn. Arkng Thand stops in consideration, and puts his ahnd away.

    Arknd Thand: "Maybe it's not ruined after all. There's hope it could work still..."

    He picks up the newborn baby boy into his arms.

    Arknd Thand: "And so your name will be that lost work turned hope. Amal."

    Russian voices echo in the forest, and grow closer. Arkng Thand looks at The Last True Evil for a moment, then leaves with Amal in his arms. Shortly after, Romanov and several Russian KGB agents approach on The Last True Evil.

    Romanov: "He lived against The Patriot against all odds! This is promising. He may be the hero the Union needs after all..."

    He turns to the other agents.

    Romanov: "Bring him back to the bunker and tend to his injuries immediately!"

    The vision pans away as the agents carry The Last True Evil away from the scene.

    ----------------------------------

    Gebohq, Britt, and Frey continue watching as the locket snaps to new scenes. The Last True Evil recovers in the Siberian bunker. Arkng Thand carries the newborn, Amal, into Deitopos. The Last True Evil stares shocked as Romanov shows him vats of other clones identical to him. Amal grips the locket tight as Arkng Thand attempts to take it away from him. Romanov slaps The Last True Evil as he stands in line with other clones. Amal stares with sadness as Arkng Thand locks him alone in a basement chamber with only the countless books surrounding him. At an indoor firing range, The Last True Evil stares coldly as he fires AK-47 rounds into targets with his fellow clones. Barely able to do much other than cry and sleep, Amal attempts to read Dr. Seuss's "The Butter Battle Book". Facing down The Patriot outside the bunker entrance, The Last True Evil signals the other clones to follow him in an attack. A young Apple, sneaking into Amal's chamber, tries striking up a conversation with Amal. Scarred and stoic, The Last True Evil lifts his disguise as he walks among Trans-Terra-Terrorists in north-western Iran. Caught in the act of talking with Amal, Arkng Thand drags Apple away, leaving a quickly-aged toddler Amal alone once more. In a Russian bar, The Last True Evil takes notice of Gebohq fresh out of Hero College with interest. Hardly appearing older than five years old, Amal reads a book labeled "The NeS Treatise" with fascination. Under rain pouring onto The Arena grounds, The Last True Evil turns to see Highemperor blocking an attack on Gebohq from High Imp before a flash blinds everyone's vision. The scenes speed past in near-imperceivable speed now: Arkng Thand lowers Amal into a pit within the newly-created Shattered realm of NeS, The Last True Evil faces off against Michael McLongname in the Forgotten space station, countless sunrises and sunsets pass as Amal reads alone in the pit, horror strikes across The Last True Evil's face as his Potential shows the death and pain he will cause.

    The last scene the locket displays shows The Last True Evil reuniting with Amal.

    As the image fades away, the locket seems to fade in the life it had. It once again exists as a mere locket. Gebohq, Britt, and Fey all continue to process what they just saw.


    Britt: "So that guy is a clone of The Last True Evil, and your friend?"

    Gebohq: "Yes, and now once again our enemy. I believe Amal may one day take up the mantle of main character of the NeS as well."

    Frey: "I can see why the Plot had interest in this thing. We should get moving before it notices what we've done."

    Gebohq and Frey set their drinks down, and Britt swigs her remaining drink before doing the same.

    Britt: "I hope things lighten up around here already."

    Gebohq: "Things are dark in this place."

    Suddenly, the spotlight swoops and shines around the abandoned bar the three of them are in.

    Gebohq and Britt: "Fuq."
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-24-2017 at 12:27 PM.

  13. #93
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    The light is a burning red through the doors and windows, and paints their three faces in lurid shades of blood. Black water begins creeping in through the entrances.

    Geb: We've got to run!

    Brittica: To where? The EeP has us completely surrounded! We need to board up the windows and doors.

    Frey: That won't work.

    The teen girl points to the walls, where the black water is already seeping through. Brittica sets her lips and sends forth gouts of tea at the black water. There is steaming and hissing, and the black water doesn't retreat, but stops its advance where the tea hits it.

    Frey: It doesn't like the tea apparently.

    Brittica: Nonsense, who could possibly dislike tea?

    Geb: No, it likes it... a lot.

    The residue of the tea is absorbed by the black water, and the black water swells, surging towards Brittica.

    Brittica: Oh SHII--

    Geb tackles her out of the way, and they both narrowly avoid being splashed.

    Frey: There's got--

    Brittica: Hands off my ass, Geb!

    Frey: --to be some--

    Geb: Whoa, I didn't do that on purpose, I was just saving your skin!

    Frey: --way out of here!

    The black water swells into a rising wave all around them, surrounding them in high walls of story-ending destructiveness.

    Brittica: I'm really hoping my vial of tea-blood still works across dimensional barriers.

    Geb: No! The story must go on!

    Then the black water crashes down upon them.

    -----

    Blue light surrounds them, a sphere of it immersed in liquid darkness.

    Frey: Where are we?

    Telkrin: I was hoping you could tell me.

    Brittica: Where the hell did you come from?

    Geb: What he means to say, is thank you for saving us.

    Telkrin: I am not sure that I have done you any service. This is a prison that seems doomed to become our cairn.

    The man rubs his forehead wearily. He is gaunt and haggard. Wrinkles of exhaustion line his face, and his skin is sheened with sweat.

    Geb: This blue light - you're making it, aren't you? It's protecting us against the EeP.

    Telkrin: Yes, but... you named this foul concoction the Eep?

    Frey: EeP. The 'P' at the end is capitalized.

    Brittica: It is???

    Frey: Yeah, can't you hear it when Geb says the word?

    Brittica: No? How the hell do you hear a capital letter like that?

    Frey shrugs. Brittica facepalms.

    Geb: How long have you been here?

    Telkrin: I do not know. Time is meaningless here, inundated in an ocean of blackness. Hours? Days? But tell me... you know what this is that surrounds us?

    Geb: The EeP. Short for the Ever-ending Plot. It consumes reality, seeking to end our story.

    Telkrin: Are you speaking in metaphor, or are you a narrative disciple?

    Geb: Um, if I understand you right, I'm the latter.

    Telkrin: Ah. I do not believe what you do, but have no quarrel with your interpretation of reality. Many doubt my own beliefs, despite there being manifest evidence of my soul projections.

    Brittica: Soul projections?

    Telkrin gestures to the blue light around them.

    Brittica: We're inside your soul right now?

    Telkrin: I suppose you might say that. I am Teacher Telkrin, an Aeon Knight. I am adept at manifesting projections of my soul energy for various purpose.

    Geb, Brittica, and Frey introduce themselves.

    Frey: I didn't know there were any other survivors left in this dimension.

    Telkrin blinks.

    Telkrin: If this dimension, as you call it, is devoid of life, then I've either been gone for millions of years, or else I've somehow been transported to one removed from my own.

    Brittica: I'd guess transported. This is the EeP's home dimension. It seeps into other dimensions through rifts.

    Frey: Unless we've gotten transported into Telkrin's dimension.

    Geb: No. Each dimension has a different... feel to it. A different texture. This is definitely the Shattered Realm.

    Brittica: Fine. But enough gabbing. We need to figure a way out of here before the old man passes out.

    Telkrin: I fear there is no way out of this endless ocean. Conversation is a pleasant prelude to death.

    Brittica: Yeah, well, I don't think it ends in death. Our spirits will be trapped here and tormented, our bodies will be zombified.

    Telkrin: ...that does pose a problem.

    Frey: OMG! Guys, look!

    She points out the glowing blue sphere, and the others follow her finger to see a pinprick of blue light, far away in the infinite sea of liquid darkness.

    Telkrin: That's... an Aeon Knight!

    Geb: What? How can you tell?

    Telkrin: I can sense his soul. It is an awakened soul, the sort only Aeon Knights have.

    Brittica: But is he friendly?

    Frey: Does this mean there are more survivors here than I know about? Or did he get sucked here from another dimension too?

    Telkrin: I believe he will answer our questions.

    The blue point has resolved itself into a translucent blue figure, mostly humanoid in nature, with a long topknight of hair. Its skin and hair and eyes and clothing are all a gently glowing blue, and all translucent.

    Telkrin: The persistent spirit of a departed Aeon Knight!

    Spirit: You have the right of it, Teacher.

    The Spirit has passed through the blue sphere surrounding them, and stands in their midst. It wears a broad relaxed smile on its face.

    Brittica: Who are you? What are you doing here?

    The spirit's smile widens, pleased.

    Spirit: My name... is Aellah.

    Brittica: ...you're claiming to be God?

    The spirit looses a hearty laugh. The others look around, somewhat disturbed by such mirth in the midst of such hopelessness and darkness.

    Aellah: A-luh, not AH-luh.

    Brittica: Oh. Too bad, I bet a god could have gotten us out of this situation.

    Telkrin: I know that name. You're the spawn of that Aeon Knight who forsook neutrality to join the Galactic Empire of the Milky Way.

    Aellah nods, not at all perturbed.

    Aellah: Yes, but not the same one you've heard of. I am the Aellah of this dimension, the Shattered Realm, not the Aellah of your dimension, the NeS plane proper. Here, I have been dead for a thousand years, held prisoner by the EeP even in death, so that I cannot depart to the afterlife.

    Brittica: You don't seem very broken up about it.

    Shattered Aellah: I am eternally, unshakably happy, due to a ritual my progenitor attempted with Terra Flux. My progenitor was quite... disappointed with the results, but I, as you might guess, am not.

    Geb: You've just watched people die for a thousand years, and haven't raised a finger to help? Why should you care, you're already happy!

    Geb's voice is indignant and somewhat accusatory. Aellah, predictably, smiles.

    Shattered Aellah: On the contrary, I am quite active, but there is little I am able to do to stem the tide. Happiness does not equal indolence.

    Telkrin: Can you help us escape?

    Shattered Aellah: I have no power to release you from the Shattered Realm, but I can lend you the aid of my spirit to strengthen your soul-shell, and guide you above this subdimension that contains you.

    Frey: What are we waiting for? Let's do it!

    In a sequence with lots of triumphant moving music and heartwarming moments - which this post's writer is too lazy to describe - Shattered Aellah's spirit leads the group, shielded by Telkrin's sphere, through the seemingly endless darkness. The black water around them does not seem to change, and there is no evidence of an exit, until they burst free with no warning.

    Brittica: Whoa!

    They are outside the bar. The bar itself is half-submerged into the ground, the earth beneath it having become boggy black-water quicksand. The four hurriedly back up to a safe distance.

    Telkrin: Are we... safe?

    Brittica: I wouldn't exactly call anywhere in this realm 'safe', but we're not about to be consumed by black water, if that's what you're asking.

    Telkrin: Good....

    The blue soul-shell around them collapses into nothing, and Telkrin passes out into a slumber of exhaustion.

    Frey: Poor guy. He needs rest.

    Brittica: There is no time to rest!

    Frey: We can't just leave him!

    Geb: Do you have any advice, Aellah?

    Shattered Aellah: His soul has been stretched to the limit. He is physically weary of course, but of more magnitude is his spiritual exhaustion. The more an Aeon Knight uses his soul without resting, the more he slips into spiritual miasma and depression. He is likely to exhibit hopelessness, anger, and other negative qualities until his soul recharges.

    Frey: But you're some kind of super-happy person. Can't you, you know, help?

    Shattered Aellah: I can indeed, but only because he has an awakened soul. Non-Aeons do not have awakened souls, and as such I cannot succor them, though I sorely wish I could.

    The spirit kneels and places intangible hands upon Telkrin's forehead. Telkrin's breathing steadies and slows, and a peaceful smile blooms across his face.

    Shattered Aellah: Now he only needs physical rest. A few hours, and he should be recovered.

    Geb: Thanks, Aellah. If only you could... do that for us.

    Geb thinks of his anti-depressant pills, and wishes Aellah's spirit could help him too.

    Brittica is staring hard at the spirit, and suddenly speaks up.

    Brittica: You're the reason the EeP changed.

    Frey looks sharply at Brittica.

    Frey: What?

    Geb: Changed? You mean, why it's using zombified heroes to end the story, instead of omnicidal villains?

    Shattered Aellah: That is precisely what he means, and yes, you are correct.

    Frey: She.

    Shattered Aellah: I beg your pardon?

    Frey: You called Brittica a 'he'.

    The spirit blinks as he studies the woman.

    Shattered Aellah: Ah, yes, my mistake. You appear to have a very... masculine spirit.

    Brittica: Nevermind that. Your 'eternal happiness' motivated the EeP, didn't it?

    Geb: I don't understand.

    Brittica: Think about it. There are only two ways a story ends. If the bad guys win... or if the good guys win. If everyone is happy, then that's a good ending, right? No more conflict. But it's still an ending.

    Comprehension dawns in Geb's eyes.

    Frey: But he can't affect anyone except Aeon Knights. Cuz their soul needs to be 'awakened' or something. Right?

    Shattered Aellah: That is correct. But when I was still alive... my species secretes chemically based pheromones, that are able to affect the moods and emotions of those around us, primarily based on our own moods. When the EeP consumed the galaxy, it spared me, with my pheromones affecting it, but I was still its prisoner.

    Brittica: It used your pheromones to infect others with happiness, a narrative-ending happiness.

    Shattered Aellah: Yes. When I died, however, from old age, the EeP was no longer able to use me, and its purpose in that regard has been distorted. Now it perceives a good ending as an ending in which the 'good guys' win, at any cost, and in any form.

    Frey: Like as zombified heroes...

    Brittica: Exactly.

    Geb: I'm not sure if this is better than the EeP as we knew it before... or worse!
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 11-08-2015 at 03:05 PM.

  14. #94
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow The Black Gate

    Some time later there is a fire going and Brittica is burning bacon.

    Gebohq:
    "You're burning it!!"

    Brittica: "I like it extra crispy!"

    Gebohq: "That's charcoal!"

    Brittica: "Fine. More for me."

    Gebohq:
    "No way!"

    Frey: "Won't frying bacon attract the Eep here?"

    Gebohq: "It's attracted to plot. Or evil maybe. I don't think there's anything inherently evil about bacon."

    Brittica: "In his religion there is."

    Aellah: "I told you, I'm not Allah."

    Gebohq shares out some of the bacon between everyone. Most people complain about how burnt it is except Brittica who chews hers with absolute relish.

    Frey: "Where did you get the bacon from anyway?"

    Brittica and Gebohq look sheepish and glance at each other.

    Gebohq: "Don't ask."

    Brittica: "Won't tell."

    Telkrin: "Thank you. All of you. I'm lucky to have been drawn to your location."

    Gebohq: "Funny old story, isn't it? Things just work out that way."

    Telkrin: "My only question is... how do we stop this blight from destroying the rest of the universe? Or others?"

    Brittica: "We've been told by a wise dude--"

    Gebohq: "Two of them actually."

    Brittica: "That we need to get to the source. And there... we... do stuff. And bish-bash-bosh. It's all over."

    Telkrin: "That seems like a rather tenuous plan..."

    Brittica: "You got a better one, mate?"

    Telkrin: "Why no but--"

    Brittica: "Right then! Besides, I don't remember inviting you along."

    Telkrin: "Well if that's how you feel..."

    Gebohq: "She doesn't. She's just being stupid."

    Brittica: "Says Mr Dimwit himself."

    Gebohq: "I'm going to slap you with this bacon."

    Brittica gasps.

    Brittica: "You'd waste perfectly good bacon!?"

    Gebohq: "I'd say it's no longer perfectly good after you attacked it with fire. Plus smacking you with it would justify the waste."

    Brittica: "It's like I don't know who you are anymore."

    Frey: "You only met him recently, didn't you?"

    Brittica: "If you're going to slap people with it, at least let me have it!"

    Gebohq: "It's mine!"

    Telkrin: "Maybe... I should do this alone. You should remain here..."

    The two former Main Characters turn and glare at Telkrin, who is rising to his feet. Instantly the two of them leap to their own feet.

    Brittica: "You ab-so-lute-ly will not be doing this without us!"

    Telkrin: "I think it might not be safe for you."

    Gebohq: "I think he just called us useless idiots in a polite way."

    Brittica: "I think we should call him a self-important fuq-monkey in a not so polite way."

    Gebohq: "Success. You just did."

    Telkrin: "I don't mean to belittle you. I just feel I may stand more of a chance against the darkness that lurks within this corrupt land. Ion't want to see you die meaningless deaths."

    Gebohq: "I've died before. I got better."

    Brittica: "Wow, you too? Maybe we should start a 'I Died Once' club? I get to be the chairperson."

    Gebohq: "I died more than once."

    Brittica: "Liar."

    Gebohq: "A guy chopped me into pieces. It was okay though, he became friends with us later."

    Brittica: "Uh..."

    Gebohq: "Actually another friend of mine decapitated me once too."

    Brittica: "He probably knew you very well."

    Gebohq: "And I was killed by myself. My evil self."

    Brittica: "I guess you annoy even yourself. Well done."

    Gebohq: "I did go to Hell too."

    Brittica: "Yeah I went to Hell once too. Well. After I went to Heaven first. Wait... why did you get sent to Hell!? What did you do!?"

    Gebohq shrugs.

    Gebohq: "No idea. Maybe I didn't pay my taxes or something?"

    Brittica: "What're taxes?"

    Telkrin: "If you are coming, we should leave now."

    They stare at Telkrin for so rudely interrupting but then gather their things and start off after him with Frey in tow.


    Telkrin: "I hope you'll join us, Aellah?"

    Aellah: "If helping you will end this eternal purgatory, then I shall."

    Telkrin: "Thank you. It will be good to have another Aeon Knight with me. Even if I don't understand your politics."

    Aellah smiles wistfully.

    Aellah: "The Empire. It seems a lifetime ago."

    Brittica points at Aellah's incorporeal body.

    Brittica: "Hate to be the bearer of bad news, mate."

    Aellah: "Literally and metaphorically I suppose it was a lifetime ago!"

    He laughs. Everyone else looks uncomfortable.

    Gebohq: "Actually I also reset the universe once. Does that count as dying?"

    Brittica: "You're just making this crap up now."

    Gebohq: "I'm not! It happened!"

    ----------

    Brittica peeks over the edge of the rock. The dank inky mire lurks below. It squirms and writhes angrily. Behind her, at the foot of the small hill of rocks is Gebohq, Aellah and Telkrin. Beside her is Frey. The two of them watch the gigantic Black Gate. Beyond it is the infernal tower with the ever watchful beam of light scanning the land as it sweeps from left to right.

    A literal wall of writing encompasses the area. The writing, so thick it looks like scrawling insects, is panning left to right like it's scrolling along. All agreed that it would be impassable. The Black Gate, however, could be an option. Frey and Brittica watch it. It's a gigantic black book cover. As they watch, it opens and the eye sweeps to inspect the gate also. Into the gate march a horde of zombie-heroes, resurrected from all those that came to the Shattered realm or were absorbed from their own worlds. The door then swings shut.

    Frey: "We should go back down now."

    Brittica nods and lets Frey start climbing down. The could have let Aellah come up to look but they were worried he'd give an inaccurate depiction of how cheery and rosy everything was.

    Frey: "Britt?"

    Brittica: "Yeah?"

    Frey: "Do you think I'll be as good-looking as you when I'm a bit older?"

    Brittica sweatdrops.

    Brittica: "Thanks for the compliment. But, uh, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Or something like that."

    Frey: "I guess..."

    Brittica sighs.

    Brittica: "Yes. You're already beautiful, Frey. I'm sure you'll get all the boys in a couple of years."

    Frey: "Really!?"

    Brittica: "But you know there's more to life than being beautiful, Frey. Actually I'd say being beautiful is far from my list of priorities."

    Frey: "What is on your list?"

    Brittica pauses and thinks.


    Brittica: "Being awesome. That's number one."

    Frey: "You already have that, Britt!"

    Brittica grins.

    Brittica: "Damn straight I do! Hey, Geb! Frey says I'm awe--FREY!"

    Distracted by Brittica's shouting down to Gebohq, Frey misses her footing and slips off the side of the wall. She stares up at Brittica as she falls, pleadingly. Brittica reaches out as quick as she can but misses the girl's hand. She plummets down towards the solid ground below.

    Seemingly from nowhere Telkrin Izep leaps through the air and snatches Frey mid-air. With a single spin from their momentum, Telkrin brings them both back down deftly. He sets Frey on her feet. She wobbles with shock but Gebohq supports her.


    Gebohq: "Are you okay?"

    Brittica jumps the last stone and lands next to them.

    Gebohq: "You should have been more careful, Brittica."

    Brittica: "I-It's not my fault!"

    Frey: "It's not her fault. It's mine. I wasn't looking."

    And yet Brittica can't help but feel guilty. She should have climbed down first. She shouldn't have been gossiping with the girl. She shouldn't have let Frey climb up there in the first place.

    After they all calmed down Frey and Brittica gave their report of the gate.


    Gebohq: "I suppose it's our only way in... we'll have to dress up as zombies and shuffle our way in!"

    Brittica: "That's a really dumb idea."

    Gebohq: "You're right. They'd notice living flesh. We'll have to kill ourselves and resurrect as zombies first!"

    Brittica: "That's even worse."

    Voice: "?tuo uoy pleh nac I ebyaM"

    Telkrin: "Who!?"

    Gebohq: "Apple!"

    Shattered Chronos: "sonorhC."

    Gebohq: "Sonar hic?"

    Shattered Chronos facepalms. Or is that palmsface?

    Brittica: "She's Chronos, Telkrin, Aellah. She dabbles in time stuff. The one I met was in our own universe where she was the head of the Time Enforcement Agency."

    Gebohq: "And she's my niece!"

    Gebohq looks filled with pride as she swells his chest.

    The Shattered Chronos rolls her eyes at her non-shattered uncle. She raises her hand towards the rocks that Brittica and Frey had been climbing and begins to strain, trying to reverse time. She slowly moves her hands to the right, through the wall of words and further into the lands of Mordor... I mean lands of the Eep. Where there was once nothing but ink now rise mountains that emerge from the dark water. They rise up and materialise from where they had once been consumed by the Eep. When she's finished she pants from the strain.

    Shattered Chronos: ".pu dewercs os si emit yaw eht htiw dluow ti erus t'nsaW .dekrow taht dalg m'I"

    Everyone stares at her with a complete lack of comprehension.

    Brittica: "Where's that creepy Edward kid when you need him?"

    Chronos sighs. Or is it an intake of breath? She puts one hand on her hip and with the other she points up the mountain. There they can see a narrow path leading up to some dark caves that would probably lead them through the mountain pass towards their destination.

    Brittica: "Because that looks totally safe."

    Gebohq: "Safer than the gate."

    But with the newly emerged mountain range, the ever watchful eyes is now fixed upon it. Investigating why it came back into being and what is maintaining it.

    Gebohq:
    "Or not."

    Shattered Chronos: "?redro ni si noitcartsid a ebyaM .sniatnuom fo hcnub a no emit kcab gninrut htiw eltbus erom eb dluoc I ekil toN .taht tuoba yrroS"

    Brittica: "Seriously, Chronos... don't bother speaking."

    Aellah: "I think she's saying we should consider a distraction."

    Gebohq: "How did you understand that!?"

    Aellah:
    "The inflections of her speech."

    Telkrin: "She's right. Some of us go up and into the Lands of Dark Water--"

    Gebohq: "Cool name..."

    Telkrin: "-- and the others create a distraction near the gate to keep the light on them."

    Frey: "What kind of distraction though?"

    Telkrin taps his chin with concern.

    Telkrin: "There's really only one thing distracting enough that I can think of. A threat..."

    Frey: "You want to fight the zombies don't you?"

    Telkrin: "If I confront the walking dead near to the gate, the rest of you will be able to sneak through the passage and, I hope, do whatever it is you need to do to destroy the blight. I will have to put a lot of trust in you all... if you do walk the path of the narrative then I hope it watches over you and guides you to the answer."

    Frey: "But Telkrin... you can't stay here alone! You'll be killed!"

    Gebohq: "It does seem like you have a death wish, dude."

    Telkrin: "I feel revitalised thanks to Aellah. I can handle the dead ones. I may be in jeopardy should the dark water be unleashed upon me. But I am relying on you to complete your task before that happens."

    Gebohq: "As long as no major plot elements are near you, the Eep should leave you alone for the most part. But still. All those zombies..."

    Aellah: "He won't be alone."

    Telkrin: "Aellah. I think they will need you more than I."

    Aellah: "I don't. The brunt of the enemy's force will come crashing down upon you at the gate. They can slip through undetected and unmolested."

    Telkrin nods slowly, reluctantly, but he cannot deny Aellah's wisdom. The ghost smiles happily.

    Aellah: "So! It's decided!"

    Brittica: "Maybe..."

    Telkrin: "No. Allow the Aeon Knights to handle things here. Your friends will need you."

    Brittica is still feeling guilty that Frey almost died and wonders if she could make it up by helping Telkrin and Aellah. She doesn't really want to go fighting zombies, she'd rather take the easy path through the mountains, but making up for a terrible mistake is clinging at her heart. When Telkrin asks her to stay with Frey and Gebohq Brittica is happy to accept.

    The three of them get to the bottom of the rocks and glance back at the two Aeon Knights.


    Frey: "Good luck!"

    Aellah: "You too!"

    Gebohq heads up first. Then Frey. Brittica puts one hand on the rocks before she turns and looks at Chronos.

    Brittica: "If there's a shattered version of you here, Chronos, then what about... others? Others I might know?"

    Chronos looks sad.

    Shattered Chronos: "...hguone noos tuo dnif ll'uoy erus m'I"

    Brittica: "I have no idea what you just said... but I don't think it was good..."

    Shattered Chronos steps back and then, in an explosion of sparks and crackles, she's gone.

  15. #95
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Shattered Britt

    Brittica, Gebohq and Frey traverse the narrow, winding path through the mountains. They crawl under ledges, balance over narrow ridges and stalk through short but dark caves. They reach the peak of one mountain and peer down at the landscape below. They can see a swarm of zombie-heroes headed towards the Book Gate of Eep Territory. Britt squints but she can't see the two tiny figures of Telkrin Izep or Aellah.

    Frey: "I hope they'll be okay..."

    Brittica: "I'm sure they'll be fine."

    Frey: "You don't need to lie to me..."

    Brittica: "Did you see some of the crazy crap they did back there? They'll be fine."

    ----------

    Telkrin: "We're doomed."

    Aellah: "We already knew that. We're just buying them time."

    Telkrin: "A few seconds won't help them very much."

    Aellah: "I'm sure we can manage a few minutes at least!"

    ----------

    The trio, free of the Eep's searchlight, continue their trek until they reach a cave filled with spider webs.

    Frey: "Oh no. I hate spiders."

    Brittica: "I'm sure the spiders are just as afraid of you."

    Gebohq: "And then the spider comes and chews your face off because it's so afraid..."

    Brittica: "Thanks Geb. You're so great..."

    Gebohq: "I am?"

    Brittica: "Imbecile."

    Gebohq: "Imbecile!? You just said I was great!"

    Brittica: "A great imbecile!"

    Frey: "Shh! I hear something!"

    The sound of foot steps. They stand completely still and try to determine where the steps are emanating from. Then, at the far end of the cave where holes in the cave roof allow the light in, they see one of the zombie-like heroes stand before them.

    Gebohq: "Who's that guy?"

    Brittica's face blanches.

    Brittica: "I-It's me!"

    They look at the dark-haired man.

    Frey: "Um..."

    Brittica: "This... this universe's me. I know it. Just trust me."

    Shattered Britt: "Is that so? I'm a woman in the NeSiverse?"

    Brittica: "Yes. Sometimes."

    Frey: "Sometimes?"

    Brittica: "Hard to explain."

    Gebohq: "So even our Shattered selves could be turned... I suppose it's lucky for my Shattered self that he ran off to our universe."

    Frey: "How!?"

    Gebohq: "I didn't ask."

    Brittica: "You continue to prove your usefulness."

    Gebohq: "Thanks!"

    Shattered Britt: "I can sense the darkness within you all. All of the fear, the anger, the pride, the sloth, the vanity, the envy, the arrogance..."

    Brittica: "That's what makes us human, other... me."

    Gebohq: "We can't be perfect all of the time."

    Shattered Britt: "Yes. Yes you can. All you have to do is join us."

    Brittica: "Zombification? No thanks?"

    Gebohq: "We won't join your zombie nation."

    Shattered Britt: "You shall..."

    Shattered Britt spreads his arms out and his hands claw. The ground rumbles and cracks and then, in pillars of black ooze, ink fires upwards. It hits the roof and breaks through it, spilling to the outside of the mountain.

    Brittica: "That ain't tea..."

    Shattered Britt: "Tea? Ah... you control tea. In my universe I embraced something less silly... I embraced the ink. The eternal ink of the narrative. And now, it runs through me..."

    Without waiting for further discussion, Shattered Britt holds his hand forward and the ink pillars explode in the direction of the heroes.

  16. #96
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Shattered Britt

    Brittica, Gebohq and Frey traverse the narrow, winding path through the mountains. They crawl under ledges, balance over narrow ridges and stalk through short but dark caves. They reach the peak of one mountain and peer down at the landscape below. They can see a swarm of zombie-heroes headed towards the Book Gate of Eep Territory. Britt squints but she can't see the two tiny figures of Telkrin Izep or Aellah.

    Frey: "I hope they'll be okay..."

    Brittica: "I'm sure they'll be fine."

    Frey: "You don't need to lie to me..."

    Brittica: "Did you see some of the crazy crap they did back there? They'll be fine."

    ----------

    Telkrin: "We're doomed."

    Aellah: "We already knew that. We're just buying them time."

    Telkrin: "A few seconds won't help them very much."

    Aellah: "I'm sure we can manage a few minutes at least!"

    ----------

    The trio, free of the Eep's searchlight, continue their trek until they reach a cave filled with spider webs.

    Frey: "Oh no. I hate spiders."

    Brittica: "I'm sure the spiders are just as afraid of you."

    Gebohq: "And then the spider comes and chews your face off because it's so afraid..."

    Brittica: "Thanks Geb. You're so great..."

    Gebohq: "I am?"

    Brittica: "Imbecile."

    Gebohq: "Imbecile!? You just said I was great!"

    Brittica: "A great imbecile!"

    Frey: "Shh! I hear something!"

    The sound of foot steps. They stand completely still and try to determine where the steps are emanating from. Then, at the far end of the cave where holes in the cave roof allow the light in, they see one of the zombie-like heroes stand before them.

    Gebohq: "Who's that guy?"

    Brittica's face blanches.

    Brittica: "I-It's me!"

    They look at the dark-haired man.

    Frey: "Um..."

    Brittica: "This... this universe's me. I know it. Just trust me."

    Shattered Britt: "Is that so? I'm a woman in the NeSiverse?"

    Brittica: "Yes. Sometimes."

    Frey: "Sometimes?"

    Brittica: "Hard to explain."

    Gebohq: "So even our Shattered selves could be turned... I suppose it's lucky for my Shattered self that he ran off to our universe."

    Frey: "How!?"

    Gebohq: "I didn't ask."

    Brittica: "You continue to prove your usefulness."

    Gebohq: "Thanks!"

    Shattered Britt: "I can sense the darkness within you all. All of the fear, the anger, the pride, the sloth, the vanity, the envy, the arrogance..."

    Brittica: "That's what makes us human, other... me."

    Gebohq: "We can't be perfect all of the time."

    Shattered Britt: "Yes. Yes you can. All you have to do is join us."

    Brittica: "Zombification? No thanks?"

    Gebohq: "We won't join your zombie nation."

    Shattered Britt: "You shall..."

    Shattered Britt spreads his arms out and his hands claw. The ground rumbles and cracks and then, in pillars of black ooze, ink fires upwards. It hits the roof and breaks through it, spilling to the outside of the mountain.

    Brittica: "That ain't tea..."

    Shattered Britt: "Tea? Ah... you control tea. In my universe I embraced something less silly... I embraced the ink. The eternal ink of the narrative. And now, it runs through me..."

    Without waiting for further discussion, Shattered Britt holds his hand forward and the ink pillars explode in the direction of the heroes.

  17. #97
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Ćon Collective

    NSN: This post ties with Clear and the Hopeless: Post #48.

    ----------

    Brittica blasts a stream of tea towards her alter-ego who, in turn, blasts a stream of ink at her. Their watery streams crash into each other, sending hot tea mixed with ink in all directions.


    Shattered Britt: "You'll join us soon, Britt. Join us in harmony..."

    Brittica: "Wow. That sounded awfully preachy. The Pope'll tell you, I'm not a fan of preachy."

    Frey: "Wow! What's a pope?"

    Brittica stalls.

    Brittica: "Uh... someone preachy?"

    Shattered Britt holds his hands together and then slowly parts them but from one hand emerges a ink-moulded sword that drips with malice.

    Brittica: "Seriously? Isn't that a wee bit cliché?"

    Shattered Britt: "Like any NeS Hero can criticise anyone else of being cliché!"

    Brittica: "I am not a NeS Hero! Whatever one of them is!"

    Gebohq: "Relax. He can't possibly win."

    Brittica: "I know it's made of ink, dude, but I'm pretty sure it'll sting if he stabs you with it."

    Gebohq: "He's evil and we're unarmed. Rule of thumb dictates we'll win or be taken prisoner at worst."

    Brittica: "But... if all of his evil has been drained... isn't he the good guy?"

    Frey: "And we still have our... flaws..."

    Gebohq's eyes widen.


    Gebohq: "Crapcakes! Then we move onto Plan B!!!"

    Brittica: "What's Plan B?"

    But Gebohq is already enacting Plan B as he does a runner. Brittica and Frey run after him.

    ----------

    The first of the Eep's mindless draw near to the two waiting Knights. Despite being dead Aellah is able to exert his spiritual presence and he ensnares several of the mindless so that they are unable to move. Telkrin then makes short work of them with his soul sword projection.

    Aellah: "So far so good!"

    Telkrin: "It's really far too early to be celebrating, Aellah."

    Aellah: "Every victory is a victory nonetheless!"

    Telkrin: "How did you get to be so chipper, did you say?"

    Aellah: "The flux. Messed about with it one to many times. Broke my brain I suppose you might say."

    Telkrin: "If I get back to our universe, I'll have to remember never to visit Terra Flux."

    Aellah: "I'm sure your flux probably works differently than mine. Different universes and all that."

    Telkrin: "Right. I guess yours shooting out rainbows and ponies?"

    Aellah: "I have no idea what either of those things are."

    Telkrin: "Look out."

    Telkrin grabs a mindless with his spirit and tosses the hapless being up into the sky. He doesn't bother to see where it lands. Six more near. Then ten more. Then twenty more. Then there's forty nearing him. Then, he swears, almost a hundred.

    Telkrin: "It's never ending..."

    Aellah: "How many worlds do you suppose the Eep has visited?"

    Then, suddenly, they both feel something strange. Presences. Powerful presences. Several of them. They turn in the direction of those powerful souls and, from the direction of the hut they'd escaped earlier, they see figures running towards them.

    Aellah: "Friends of yours?"

    Telkrin smiles.

    Telkrin: "Indeed they are."

    ----------

    Gebohq skids to a halt as he exits the cave and sunlight blazes into his eye sockets. Although it's dim, it's still much brighter than the caves were. He looks down the cliff and sees the mindless Eep zombies marching through the gate. At the far end he can see figures fighting against the zombies. He points and counts but always seems to get more than two. Weird.

    Suddenly he feels something heavy hit him and he tumbles to the ground.


    Gebohq: "You're way too heavy..."

    Brittica:
    "What the Hell're you doing standing around like that!"

    Brittica climbs to her feet and adjusts her white robes and throws her blonde hair from her face. Despite these small efforts she still looks incredibly dishevelled. Frey manages to stop herself from running into Brittica's equally parked figure. Because Frey isn't an idiot.


    Brittica: "I think my ears are burning."

    Frey:
    "Someone's saying mean things about you!"

    Gebohq: "What're we going to do!?"

    Brittica frowns.

    Brittica: "I thought you were the Main Character!? Shouldn't you have all the answers!?"

    Gebohq: "I'm not the Main Character anymore, my sister is! And I thought you wanted to be Main Character!? Why not prove yourself!?"

    Brittica: "Don't make me dangle you off this cliff!"

    Gebohq: "With those skinny arms?"

    Brittica: "Oh, so now I'm skinny? A minute ago I was too heavy!"

    Frey: "I... I never asked this before but... are you two... you know?"

    They both look at Frey in complete bewilderment.

    Brittica: "Awesome?"

    Gebohq: "Cool?"

    Brittica: "Wonderfully charming?"

    Gebohq: "Epicly awesome?"

    Brittica: "I already said awesome."

    Gebohq:
    "So? Do you have copyright to the word?"

    Frey: "No... I mean... married."

    Gebohq yelps and Brittica shudders with horror.

    Frey: "That's a no then. Just you fight like you are married."

    Gebohq: "You must have seen some very bad marriages, Frey."

    Brittica: "Evidently she knows more about marriage than you do."

    Voice: "You guys talk way too much."

    The three of them turn to see a very, very fat cat sitting on a rock.

    Gebohq: "...Morris?"

    Brittica: "You know the fat hamster?"

    Frey: "That is no hamster..."

    Brittica: "Then what--?"

    Frey: "It's a KITTY!!!!!"

    Frey glomps Morris the Cat, who glares at Gebohq as though it is all his fault.


    Morris the Cat: "Remove this child be--ack!"

    Frey hoists him up in her arms, an incredible feat for such a small girl and such a hefty cat. His legs dangle and he hangs in her embrace, completely defenceless it seems.

    Gebohq: "Waaaaaaaait, are you the Morris I know or are you a Shattered Morris?"

    Morris the Cat: "I'm the Morris you know! Now make her unhand me!"

    Frey: "He's so fluffy and squishy and cute and lovely and pretty and sweetie--"

    Gebohq: "How did you get here?"

    Morris the Cat: "A portal, how else would I get here!?"

    Gebohq: "A portal!? Where?"

    Morris the Cat:
    "Gone now. Obviously. I close doors after I use them. I'm polite that way."

    Gebohq: "You created a portal?"

    Morris the Cat: "... are you kidding me? Of course I did. That's what I do. Well I also eat things I guess."

    Gebohq: "More the latter than the former, I feel."

    Brittica: "So the fat hamster can make a portal for us?"

    Morris the Cat: "Call me hamster one more time motherfu-- OW!"

    Frey: "Bad kitty! No swearing!"

    Morris the Cat: "I swear I'm going to r-- OW! Stop hitting me, child!"

    Frey: "Stop being naughty!"

    Morris the Cat opens his mouth to further assault everyone but he sees Frey's open palm and is quelled to silence.

    Gebohq: "Wow... I'm impressed. I don't think anyone's ever been able to man-handle Morris, let alone get him to keep his mouth open."

    Shattered Britt: "So good of you to wait for me!"

    Gebohq: "Crapcakes, I forgot about that guy."

    Shattered Britt: "Soon, my friends, we shall be as one! We shall all dine from the same feast of greatness."

    Morris the Cat: "And who's this cretin!?"

    Brittica: "Bad guy. Well he's a good guy but we hate him so he's a bad guy."

    Morris wriggles free of Frey's grasp, finally, and runs at Shattered Britt.

    Gebohq: "Uh-oh. You should both close your eyes."

    Morris the Cat's mouth opens absurdly wide.

    Shattered Britt: "Hooooooooly shi--!"

    Shattered Britt is instantly consumed by Morris the Cat and lost to the darkness of wherever Morris' bottomless pit of a stomach goes.

    Frey: "Oh... my... god...."

    Brittica opens her eyes again.

    Brittica: "Is it over?"

    Gebohq: "Wow... you trusted me enough to close your eyes?"

    Brittica: "I trust your sense of horror-inducing moments at least."

    Frey marches over to Morris and smacks him on the head.

    Morris the Cat: "Again with the hitting!"

    Frey: "Naughty kitty! We don't eat people!"

    Morris the Cat: "We d-- I mean, I do! Often! ACK! Stop! Stop hitting my head! No! Don't pick me... urgh..."

    ----------

    In the Writers' Realm Gebohq the Writer wails at Britt the Writer;

    Gebohq the Writer: "No! It's supposed to be all dark and depressing in the Shattered Realm! Not cute, fluffy and comical human-eating!"

    Britt the Writer: "Well, I know, but... seemed like a good idea at the time so..."

    Gebohq the Writer whips out Korn CD.

    Gebohq the Writer: "No! We need angst! Angst!!! No one understands!!!! No ooooooone!!!"

    Britt the Writer: "Wait, didn't you get consumed by Mario Maker?"

    Gebohq the Writer: "I escaped. 'How', you may well ask! I just had to finish a level and go through the exit! Ha! I outsmarted you!"

    Britt the Writer: "If you only had to clear one level... what took you so long?"

    Gebohq the Writer looks deflated again.

    Gebohq the Writer: "I made the level too hard..."

    Britt the Writer: "Sounds like righteous retribution!"

    Gebohq the Writer: "The aaaaaaaaaaangst!!!!!"

    ----------

    The Ćon collective gather at the Book Gate and fend off the mindless onslaught. Telkrin Izep and Aellah are augmented by other knights and lords of the order of Ćon. One, a dark-skinned woman with blonde hair, stands with Telkrin, back-to-back.

    Kloo Celli: "Teacher Izep. Good to see you alive."

    Telkrin:
    "Not for much longer, I'm afraid. And now I've brought you down with me, Lord Celli."

    Aellah: "There's always a chance, Telkrin!"

    Telkrin: "Please stop telling me that, Aellah."

    Kloo Celli: "Then we retreat. The rift is still open. We can retire to Oeurwoud now."

    Telkrin shakes his head.

    Telkrin: "We cannot. Not yet."

    Kloo Celli: "Why?"

    Telkrin: "We're merely the distraction, Lord Celli. The real fight is going on inside! Three young heroes have gone in to destroy the creature--"

    He points to the glare of the tower as it shines its light upon them.

    Telkrin: "At its source."

    Kloo Celli looks out at the tower.

    Kloo Celli: "Then it seems we make our stand here..."

    Telkrin: "But Lord Celli... my student..."

    They look at a young woman who puts down one of the enemy mindless with a blast of soul energy. She appears to have plastic-like skin and a face void of emotion lines.

    Kloo Celli: "Maybe she could defend the rift..."

    Telkrin: "Actually..."

    He looks up at the mountain range.


    Telkrin: "She could help those three..."

  18. #98

    A Good Place To Sit And Eat

    ---------------------------
    Playing With Your Food
    ---------------------------

    Gebohq
    : "So, Morris, best-buddy--"

    Morris the Cat: "No."

    Gebohq: "You don't even know what I was going to say!"

    Morris the Cat: "I came here for food. I'm not about to leave when I just got here."

    Brittica: "Food? Where?"

    They look around the rather desolate surroundings.

    Brittica: "Actually, you just ate a zombie. Maybe I don't want whatever you like to eat."

    Morris the Cat: "I was hungry, don't judge!"

    Frey: "I don't think there's cat food around here, kitty."

    Morris the Cat: "I don't want 'cat food' you brat, I want real food! And this place has the best Denny's in existence, with free wi-fi!"

    Gebohq: "I have my doubts that place is still in service."

    Brittica: "I have my doubts about what this cat considers edible."

    Morris the Cat: "Well so long, chumps! I have lunch waitin--GAH! GET OUT OF MY WAY!"

    Morris paws at what appears to be a young woman with plastic-like skin and a face void of emotion lines, dressed in monk-style brown robes. She raises an eyebrow at the cat before turning her attention to the others.

    Woman: "Are you the ones searching for the source of this inky force?"

    Gebohq: "Yes?"

    Brittica: "I think we decided to take a break for lunch though."

    Morris the Cat: "And you're in my way! Hisssss!"

    The fat hamster-like cat attempts to eat the woman before spitting her back out. She does an admirable job of suppressing sheer horror as she is now covered in spit and possibly hairballs.

    Morris the Cat: "PLEH! It's like eating tupperware. Tell this woman to move out of my way."

    Gebohq: "Uh, miss?

    Woman: "...my name is Kokoro Lymn."

    Gebohq: "Maybe you'd like to join us, Ms. Lymn?"

    Lymn nods her head in confirmation. Shock still wears on her. She steps aside, and Morris waddles past her and into the thick of the inky Plot.

    Frey: "Wait up, kitty!"

    Brittica: "I'm debating whether I'm safer with the cat or the rest of the deadly ink-stuff."

    Gebohq: "The cat. He was once protecting the story against the Plot."

    Brittica: "Was?"

    Gebohq: "Ah, well, you see...erm..."

    He trails off. As the group follows Morris, it appears that they're just losing themselves into the labyrinthine bramble of bloodink. However, the group suddenly enters a clearing, with a Denny's in the center.

    Gebohq: "Why do I get the sense that the Plot is playing with us?"

    Kokoro Lymn: "The what?"

    Brittica: "Don't mind him, he's an idiot."

    Gebohq: "I'm not the one who thought they had a penis they had to pee with."

    Brittica: "I'd like to see you break millennia-long habits!"

    Lymn stares in confusion at the two of them. Frey notices and pats her on the shoulder.

    Morris the Cat: "Shut up! Get in the Denny's, quick!"

    The group rushes into the Denny's, slamming the door behind them just as an inky tentacle had shot out and attempted to slash at them like a cat's paw.

    Morris the Cat: "That was close-- we almost missed the lunch special window."

    ---------------------------
    Safe Haven?
    ---------------------------


    Gebohq, Britt, Frey, Lymn, and Morris the Cat enter the Denny's. Only Gebohq vaguely recalls his time here before, when his Shattered counterpart attempted an evil wedding. Back then, the Denny's had been lively, if mundane. Now, despite the lights and cleanliness, the place feels empty yet almost sacred. Outside, the stark and static senselessness of the Plot storms in anger and confusion, while inside, the air is cozy. Looking out the windows from within, the Plot seems almost distant and serene in the way most disasters seem when not in the thick of it. At the bar, four plates sit: a turkey club on one, eggs sunny-side up on another with bacon to form a happy face, a Grand Slam special on another, and a pork chop on the last.

    Kokoro Lymn: "Does this seem suspicious to anyone else?"

    Morris the Cat: "MINE!"

    He leaps to the countertop. And by "leap" I mean struggle to claw his way up onto a barstool, then again to the countertop. The four watch as Morris begins devouring the food like a fat, furry, pancake with a gnashing maw.

    Voice: "No! Bad cat! Go away!"

    A water spritzer sprays on Morris, who hisses, halting his eating momentarily but not moving his ground.

    Gebohq: "Antestarr...?"

    Shattered Ante: "Not quite. Read the nametag."

    The group looks at his Denny's nametag which reads "S. Ante" on it.

    Britt: "That name seems familiar."

    S. Ante: "I would think so. Your friends came looking for me--gah, no! This has to stop!"

    Frey: "They're here?"

    Kokoro Lymn: "What has to stop?"

    S. Ante: "All this talking! It'll be plot before we know it and--everyone be quiet! I need to think of an anti-plan."

    At his command, everyone stands still and silent. Except for Morris, who inches his way back to gnawing on the food before him. Shattered Antestarr snaps his fingers.

    S. Ante: "I got it!"

    The group waits in anticipation for his response. When he doesn't say anything for some time, they start to look at each other.

    Britt: "Are you going to tell us your plan?"

    S. Ante: "My what?"

    Frey: "She means your anti-plan."

    S. Ante: "My what?"

    Kokoro Lymn: "I think he's not all "there"..."

    Gebohq: "I'm pretty sure he wasn't all there when I saw him last time too."

    Morris the Cat: "That's what they say about all genius inventors. This idiot savant has clearly invented some clever wards around this place."

    Gebohq: "Clever whats?"

    Morris the Cat: "Why else do you think the Plot hasn't consumed this place yet?"

    S. Ante: "Consume--yes! Food! Girls, come with me to the kitchen."

    Frey: "Excuse me?"

    S. Ante: "No time to waste -- chop chop! You and you and--no, not you."

    Britt: "Wh--why not?"

    S. Ante: "I said the girls, and you... hrm... well, come along then."

    Gebohq: "Dont' leave me with the cat!"

    But they did exactly just that.

    ---------------------------
    Adoption
    ---------------------------


    Gebohq and Morris the Cat sometimes-stare, the sort of staring done in awkward silences.

    Gebohq: "So... I've been thinking of getting a cat, and--"

    Morris the Cat: "I'm not going to be 'your cat', you tart!"

    Gebohq: "Wha? Pfft, you? Naw man, of course not. I mean, we got history, and having a cat companion would totally help my bouts of depression, not to mention my stash of endless doughnuts would make good treats for you and all..."

    Morris the Cat's ears perk up at "endless doughnuts" but otherwise feigns disinterest in the way only a cat can master.

    Gebohq: "I'm just looking for advice, ya know? From a cat, on cats. Besides, you're Rob's pet, right?"

    Morris the Cat: "I'm nobody's pet! And if I was, that fool stopped looking after me 'ages ago."

    Gebohq: "Oh. I see."

    He punctuates his statement by twirling a spork in his hand, which fumbles onto the floor. Gebohq plays it off as intentional.

    Morris the Cat: "Well, don't look for a 'purebreed' for one. A bunch of inbred, noisy snobs, they are. And don't look for a kitten, because they might be all cute at first, but they're little spawns of Satan underneath those saucer-eyes. And don't spray the cat with water! Not unless you want your own pet antagonist..."

    Gebohq seems to be only half-paying attention as he looks at Morris with a growing smile of affection.

    Morris the Cat: "Hey! Stop that! I'll claw your eyes out."

    Gebohq raises his hands up in mock-defeat, turning his attention to the nearby jukebox. Morris the Cat seems content with himself at first, then his attention draws to Gebohq, waiting for him to return attention back. When he doesn't, Morris inches closer, then closer. He moves to rub his head against Gebohq's hand--

    BAM!

    The sudden noise sends Morris jumping into the air and dashing (well, waddling) under a table. Gebohq spins around towards the source of the noise...

    ...the kitchen.

    Gebohq races in.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-24-2017 at 12:33 PM.

  19. #99
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow A Woman's Work

    The women follow Shattered Antestarr into the kitchen with some trepidation.

    Brittica: "This better not be some 'woman's work is the in the kitchen' bollocks, else I'm going to take a wok to this guy's face."

    Kokoro Lymn: "Why would a woman's work be in a kitchen?"

    Brittica frowns at the newbie.

    Brittica: "What the Hell planet are you from?"

    Kokoro Lymn: "The planet Narticul, why?"

    Brittica blinks. She has zero response for that.

    The kitchen is very dingy and appears fairly abandoned, like it's not had use in years. Grease stains the walls, dirt and dust congeals on the counter-tops and only a lonely light blinks on the refrigerator. So just like any standard Denny's diner!

    Shattered Antestarr groans and doubles-over, using a counter for support.


    S. Antestarr: "It's... been so long. So long since women were in here..."

    He reaches out and grabs a very sharp knife.

    Frey: "Oh crap! He's going to kill us and eat us!!"

    He spins around, just in time to take a wok to the face from Brittica.

    PANG!!


    S. Antestarr: "Wh- what did you do that for!?

    Brittica: "I'm not going to be served up with chips and a coke, miladdie!"

    S. Antestarr: "I'm not going to cook you! I was just... reminiscing..."

    Suddenly Gebohq bursts into the kitchen, the doors burst open with vigour of heroism. Except nobody needs saving. He deflates.

    S. Antestarr: "NO! You can't be in here! Only the women!"

    Frey: "Sexist or cannibal?"

    Brittica: "Both? Either way, I think another wok-smack is in order!"

    The room suddenly feels oppressive and a darkness encroaches on the edges of their respective vision. It's as though the room is actually shrinking.

    S. Antestarr: "I've been maintaining the wards on this place but only enough for myself. You three have never been to the Shattered Realm so you were no strain. He... he's tainted. And now--!"

    The mucky windows shatter as dark ooze forces pressure on them til they break.

    Gebohq: "Oh buggery."

    Kokoro Lymn: "Why in the name of my great-aunt did you ask us in here!?"

    S. Antestarr:
    "I- I wanted--"

    Frey: "To cook us!"

    Brittica: "To make us cook!"

    Gebohq: "Let's argue later!"

    Brittica: "Good point. Let's leg it!"

    While everyone else legs it out of the the Denny's, Gebohq Gebs it instead; a huge speed difference. As he whizzes by he shouts at Morris;


    Gebohq: "CAT! RUN!"

    Morris: "I have a name you kn- oh blimey!"

    The fat cat leaps out of a window like an action-movie star. Albeit a very fat, fuzzy action-movie star.

    The group run away from the diner which, after years of protection, crumples and breaks under the strain of the consumption of darkness. It is swallowed down into the inky mire, as lost as the rest of Shattered. Shattered Antestarr looks like he might cry...

  20. #100
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Secret Passages

    Shattered Antestarr's lower lip wibbles.

    Antestarr: "I... I... I just want to cook for you! I wanted to impress you with the cooking skills I'd honed here...It's been so long since I saw a woman, I just wanted to... be nice to you..."

    Brittica: "Riiiiiiiight, well you really need to work on your social skills, buddy."

    Gebohq: "I think that's the point, Britt. He's been alone for so long..."

    Brittica: "Pfffffffft, bored of the sob story now. Oi, where are the kids anyway?"

    Antestarr: "Kids?"

    Gebohq: "Kids?"

    Brittica looks at Gebohq and rolls her eyes.

    Brittica:
    "The annoying brats that went off to find this pillock. God knows why. He's neither use nor ornament."

    Frey: "Oh no... did he eat my friends!?"

    Brittica suddenly perks up.

    Brittica: "Hey, maybe the day's getting better after all!"

    Frey pouts at the older woman.

    Frey: "That's not very funny."

    Antestarr: "I didn't meet the children. Just you..."

    Morris: "Well now, I'm disappointed. You made the Eep eat up all of the food this idiot was going to cook for me!"

    Antestarr:
    "For the women..."

    Brittica: "I'd let the hamster eat it, you don't get to cook for me unless I let you cook for me!"

    Kokoro: "I think we're losing track of what's important here... why did you keep this... restaurant safe with your wards? Wouldn't you have been better served with a... castle, perhaps?"

    Gebohq: "Some would consider Denny's to be as good as any castle!"

    Brittica: "The layer of grease and muck probably did add layers of defence."

    Gebohq:
    "Hey! Don't insult my favourite restaurant!"

    Brittica bursts into patronising laughter, spurring annoyance from Gebohq.

    Kokoro shakes her head and looks at Antestarr expectantly.

    Antestarr: "Secrets!"

    Brittica: "The dead bodies of those kids, no doubt."

    Antestarr: "No! Passages! Secret passages to secret places!"

    Brittica: "Like the burial sites."

    Frey:
    "Oh no..."

    Gebohq: "I'm sure Antestarr didn't kill the kids. He's not like that."

    Kokoro: "Can we still access the secret passages?"

    Antestarr makes a big show of thinking about it, acting like he's monologuing a series of hums and ahhs in a particularly melodramatic scene in a Shakespeare play.

    Brittica: "How the bollocks did you get here anyway, Ms Too-Many-Facelifts!"

    Kokoro frowns.

    Kokoro: "I have no idea what a face-lift is but I feel you're attempting to insult me. Please refrain."

    Brittica: "This planet Nautilus--"

    Kokoro: "Narticul."

    Brittica: "Must be very far away."

    Kokoro: "It is. I came here through a tear in space-time to rescue my Teacher."

    Gebohq: "Probably that Telkrin guy."

    Kokoro: "Yes indeed. He suggested I come to help you on your quest. He's fighting a never-ending tide of thralls. I'd like to complete our quest quickly."

    Gebohq groans.

    Gebohq: "That means no lunch-break. Antestarr, do your secret passages lead to any other restaurants?"

    Kokoro: "No! Antestarr, do they lead to our final destination?"

    Gebohq:
    "Always hated that movie."

    Brittica:
    "Really? I thought you'd love that kind of rubbish."

    Gebohq: "Is that a slur on my taste in movies? I'll have you know I am, like, a connoisseur of movies."

    Brittica: "I bet Die Hard is your favourite movie."

    Gebohq: "No! Wrong!!"

    His look of pride diminishes.

    Gebohq: "That's my second favourite..."

    Brittica barks a laugh.

    Brittica: "You're an open book, Gebby. Practically a walking cliché."

    Gebohq: "I'll cliché you in a minute."

    Brittica looks at Gebohq. He points at her before she can speak.

    Gebohq: "Shut up."

    She just laughs while she and Gebohq start walking after Antestarr, who seems to have decided to take them to another entrance to the secret passages.

    Brittica: "What do you think of the weird plastic woman?"

    Gebohq: "You really think she had a face-lift?"

    Brittica:
    "Either that or she's a living mannequin! Have you seen her skin? It's practically shining."

    Gebohq: "She seems okay. Makes me a bit uncomfortable though."

    Brittica: "Why's that?"

    He shrugs.

    Gebohq: "Just some stuff I remember from when I was younger."

    Brittica:
    "I recognise that tone."

    Gebohq tilts his head and looks at her.

    Brittica: "Your dad used to have that tone too. The tone of failure. Accepted failure, usually before he'd even tried."

    Gebohq: "You knew my dad? When he was young?"

    Brittica: "Yes."

    Brittica gives Gebohq a side-long glance. She's now the one made uncomfortable by the past.

    Brittica: "How... How's he doing?"

    Gebohq: "He... he was okay the last time I saw him. I haven't really... visited in a while. Urgh, I know that's awful..."

    Brittica shrugs sympathetically.

    Brittica: "Hey. Me too, right? I've been obsessed with my own problems I barely ever even called him. Or Polly. Tell you what, why don't we go visit him when we get back to our Earth?"

    Gebohq looks dubious.

    Gebohq: "Me and you?"

    He then shrugs and nods.

    Gebohq: "Sure. What could possibly go wrong!?"

    Brittica: "That a rhetorical question because I could probably compile quite an extensive list...?"

  21. #101
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    Antestarr leads them to a door set into a cliff face. Etched into the rock above it are the words SECRET PASSAGE.

    Brittica: Seems a bit obvious, doesn't it?

    Antestarr: Genius, right?

    Brittica: Not the word I was gonna use...

    Frey: How come the EeP hasn't broken down this secret door?

    Antestarr looks at them proudly.

    Antestarr: It only opens when activated by starlight and moonlight! And the EeP ate the stars and moon years ago.

    Brittica: Do you know what this means?

    Kokoro: Yes, it means now we also have no way to get through it.

    Antestarr raises a finger as if to object, then stops, mouth open, as he realizes the truth of her statement.

    Brittica: Other than that. It's a total Lord of the Rings rip-off!

    Gebohq: I bet that's YOUR favorite movie!

    Kokoro: Is this Ring Lord someone we can ally with?

    Frey: If he were, he's been eaten long ago.

    Morris: He's not even real, dumbasses.

    Brittica: This fool here is the dumbass, leading us to a door we have no way of opening!

  22. #102
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow UnShattered Resolve

    Back at the Book Gate, sometime called the "Black Gate" for melodramatic effect, the Aeon Knights, Lords and Students are battling the seemingly never-ending tide of Ever-ending-Characters.

    Gebohq: "No, no, please don't call them that! There's already enough ever-endings, never-endings and never-ever-endings in this Story as it is!"

    I'll call them whatever I bloody well like. Besides, it fits. They're part of the Ever-ending Plot, ergo they're Ever-ending Characters. Or zombies. But they're a bit smart for zombies - besides, shut up and stop interrupting me! Interrupting the Narrator might be allowed on the Never-ending Story2 but not around these parts! These parts are for melodramatic weeping and moping, not your silly shenanigans!


    Gebohq: "Right... but actually I'm from the NeS, so my world rules apply to me -- like... Superman when he's on Earth, he gets his powers because he's on Earth-- Wait... I don't think this analogy actually works..."

    Brittica X: "Did I just hear you compare yourself to Superman over there?"

    Anyway, forgetting those guys, we're at the Book Gate. The Aeon bravely fight for their lives and all of existence against this fearsome horde but they're running the risk of being overwhelmed or tiring out if Gebohq and his band can't reach the Source in time.

    Then, sometime strange happens - they see the black ooze of the Eep slither down the gate's book-covers until it reaches the bottom and there it leaps up into the air before surging forward - breaking space-time and cracking open a Plothole portal.

    Kloo Celli,
    Aeon Lord and Sentinel, urges on the others, worried that the Eep is invading yet another world right before their eyes. Her ruhand delves through the body of a long-absorbed Character and his corpse splits open, spilling black ink onto the already-stained ground. But even as they push forward, slowly inching towards the Gate, the Eep suddenly retracts from the portal as though injured or even afraid. It circles the portal like a cat waiting for a mouse to emerge from its hole. Kloo Celli doesn't have to be well-attuned to the Over-Soul to know something is going to come through and anything that the Eep wants to attack is definitely a friend to her and hers.

    Kloo Celli: "Telkrin, Kassuin, a shield round that portal!"

    The two men, one human and a Knight, the other a purple-skinned alien Lord, throw their hands in the direction of the cracked portal and exert their will so that a strong and powerful barrier shines around that hole. Their souls merge like one, to create a barrier of extreme durability that the Eep strikes against but is unable to break. Then figures appear through the crack and the Eep splashes against the shield, trying to slosh over the newly emerged residents of this Shattered world. The occupants quickly realise they aren't trapped by the shield and a strangely-shaped blast lashes out of the shield and slams the black ink away. It doesn't keep the ink at bay, but affords the people enough time to make a run straight towards the Aeon Knights. One of them moves with inhuman speed and knocks down several of the Ever-ending Characters, clearing a path for those that followed him. He reaches the group and speaks to the first person he sees;
    Man: "Brittica X. Where is she?"

    Kloo Celli kicks one of her assailants back and calls to the newcomer. She indicates a clearer patch at the rear of the Aeon front line. The man is wearing black suit with bright lines of blue that she's certain is a technological suit, likely designed with built-in functions of its own. She isn't sure if his incredible speed is his suit, or the man himself as he doesn't appear to be entirely human with his deathly grey skin and unusual movements that, in some way, reminds her of the Ever-ending zombies she's facing today.

    Man: "I'm Antestarr. I'm searching for a woman named Brittica X."

    Kloo Celli: "I don't know who that is but there's only three other people I know in this world and if she's one of them, they've gone to try and stop this dark menace from consuming the universe."

    Antestarr: "A blonde woman."

    Kloo Celli:
    "I didn't see them. I was told that one of them was a man, one a woman and one a girl. I sent one of our students to help them. Ironically I think they're safer headed to the heart of this evil than we are here on the outside."

    Antestarr nods slowly.

    Antestarr: "I think the woman must be the one I seek. I have to find them."

    Kloo Celli hesitates before speaking;

    Kloo Celli: "I think they can manage the task alone. Honestly, we could use your help here. We're distracting the evil so that they can enter unseen and unhindered. I saw how fast you can move, won't you help us here?"

    Antestarr shakes his head.

    Antestarr: "No. I have to get to the Source with that woman. A worse fate awaits us if I fail."

    Kloo Celli: "What could be worse than the destruction of the universe?"

    Antestarr: "Saving the universe only to have it enslaved by false gods. I have to go."

    He turns to see his allies approaching up the cleared path.

    Antestarr: "They can stay and help you."

    Kloo Celli: "Well that's something at least. Please keep our Student safe. She's capable but inexperienced."

    Antestarr: "I have greater concerns than the life of some child."

    He runs off, like a shot, towards the mountain path that Kloo Celli had indicated to moments ago. The Lord frowns in disdain for such a callous fool and only hopes that Kokoro Lymn will be safe in such company. She has to trust Lymn, however, to pull through - there is no choice. Kloo Celli turns to the people nearing her, some of them wearing black cloaks while others are wearing a variety of clothes but always with a badge of "X" somewhere on their person. Then she sees a familiar face. It's aged a lot but recognisable.

    Kloo Celli: "Robert!"

    Rob X, as NeS readers know him, stops and stares at Kloo Celli like he's seeing a ghost - despite seeing all of these undead ghost-zombies around him.

    Rob X: "L-Lord Celli! Wh-what're you doing here!?"

    Kloo Celli: "Saving the universe, what else would I be doing?"

    Rob X nods in concession to that remark.

    Rob X: "Looks like Antestarr ditched us already..."

    Kloo Celli: "That's not a problem. Now I have someone much better to help me."

    She holds out her hand and, from a equipment store even further to the rear, a small, gold objects fires out and flies to her out-stretched palm. She then tosses it to him. He catches it deftly, as though it is meant to be there. The young man looks down at the golden hilt with a look of nostalgia, awe and fear.

    Rob X: "I haven't used one of these since... since..."

    He suddenly becomes aware that one of the zombie figures is approaching him, staggering towards him with cracking bones and sudden, unsettling, motions of its limbs.

    Kloo Celli: "You and Gebohq ran away from this once, Robert. Redeem yourself."

    Rob X steps away from the zombie but it keeps coming. His hand goes for the sickle at his side but then stops. He looks at the gold object. Seems like fate has taken root, why fight it? He forces his will into the gold hilt. It shakes with protest for a moment then relents as a bright energy-blade of white soul energy extracts from the hilt - guided by the technological components within the device to help novice Students with their focus. Rob X might be old enough now to be a Knight but he only has the skills of a poorly trained Student. That's good enough for Kloo.

    Rob X swings his hilted-ruhand and decapitates the threat with a single swipe. It feels good. The song of his blade is as strong as it ever was and the energy of his soul bristles with enthusiasm. He did run away once. Both he and Gebohq did. Now it's time to show how much he's grown.


    Rob X: "Xes! Wipe the floor with these zombies!"

    The cultists instantly jump to action and join the Aeon.
    Last edited by TheBritt; 03-16-2016 at 06:44 AM.

  23. #103
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow The Inner Jedi

    The Back Passage--

    Gebohq: "Do you mind, Narrator?"

    Haha!


    Brittica:
    "If you're talking to God, I've got some bad news for you..."

    Kokoro moves to the wall and places her hands on it.

    Frey:
    "What do we do now?"

    Brittica:
    "Cave Freakazoid's head in with a rock."

    Shattered Antestarr:
    "Why would you attack Freakazoid? I like that cartoon!"

    Frey: "I think she means you..."

    Shattered Antestarr: "What!? No! I couldn't attack Freakazoid with a rock!!"

    Brittica: "Let me find the sharpest, biggest one..."

    Kokoro: "Gabook-- am I pronouncing that right?"

    Gebohq turns from Brittica's foraging to Kokoro. He shrugs.

    Gebohq:
    "Close enough for rock and roll. Honestly I made up the pronunciation a long time ago because my parents could never agree on how to say it either. Dad still calls me Gebark."

    Kokoro laughs. When he draws closer she points to the rock wall.


    Kokoro:
    "Could you help me with this? I want to try to see if I can feel the door mechanism inside. Maybe we can shift it from within."

    Morris the Cat: "And how the buggery do you expect this long-haired pratt to do that?"

    Kokoro: "You've had some Aeon training, haven't you?"

    Gebohq is taken aback.

    Gebohq: "I-uh... that was a long time ago... How did..."

    Kokoro: "I can sense it. It's one of the first things they taught us, sensing each other. Didn't you get taught this?"

    Gebohq shrugs.

    Gebohq: "Kind of. Like I said. It was a long time ago. I haven't really... okay I'll try."

    He places his hands on the rock. He closes his eyes, cutting out distractions of the physical world, and focuses on his soul. He squeezes.


    PARP!

    Morris the Cat: "HAHAHAA! You dirty git!"

    Frey: "Wow... that was... gross."

    Morris the Cat: "Sure did a bit of soul-searching there, Gebby!"

    Gebohq: "I want to die..."

    Kokoro: "It happens when inexperienced. I once saw someone literally expel... everything..."

    Morris, Frey and Gebohq all wince with disgusted horror. Gebohq's mind is secretly thankful he didn't follow through too and even luckier that Brittica is busy trying to bash Shattered Antestarr with a rock else she'd never let it go...

    Gebohq: "Bad choice of words, Narrator..."

    I thought that was a perfect pun! Haha!

    Gebohq:
    "Maybe it'd be easier if I just used Story-wielding..."

    Kokoro frowns.

    Kokoro: "I don't see how story-writing is going to help us now."

    Gebohq: "Not... well actually I suppose that's not far off--"

    Morris the Cat:
    "You shouldn't risk that. You pulling off a major story-wielding moment is only going to draw attention from You-Know-Who."

    Gebohq: "Voldemort!?"

    Morris the Cat:
    "I bloody wish! At least I can scratch his eyes out."

    Frey: "Are you sure there's a mechanism in the door? Isn't it magic?"

    Kokoro:
    "Maybe we can find this... 'magical' mechanism then?"

    She winks at Frey, thinking this is some kind of fantasy game she's playing out. She motions with her head to the wall and Gebohq. He does as asked and leans on it again. Hopefully he can keep his body odours to himself this time.


    He feels a small tingling in his mind. His heart. His lungs. His toes. His fingers. Then he feels himself. At that moment he pushes himself forward and suddenly he's in a dark, cold place. He's inside the rock. She wriggles around and feels nothing but more cold. Then a slight touch of something living. He realises he brushed against the soul of Kokoro as she sways and dances through the rock. He squirms onwards. Down. Left. Left again...

    He senses something. It's cold, like the rock, but different. There's a buzzing sensation to it, almost like he can taste it. And it tastes spicy.


    Gebohq:
    "I... I..."

    He doesn't need to finish as Kokoro understands and she's on him. Her sudden presence is an embarrassing feeling. It has all the intimate sensations of a physical connection and he jolts awake. He staggers from the wall, knowing he'd be blushing if his body were deceptive enough. Fortunately he's never been one to blush so much, allowing him to hide his embarrassment.

    Kokoro releases herself from the wall too.


    Kokoro: "Sorry, I should have warned you."

    Gebohq shrugs.


    Gebohq: "It's okay. Just didn't expect it is all."

    Kokoro:
    "I thought you'd know, given your past training."

    Gebohq:
    "Long, long time ago."

    Morris the Cat: "Are you two done flirting?"

    Frey grins and claps with excitement at the idea.


    Gebohq:
    "We're not flirting. I have a pregnant girlfriend, remember Morris?"

    The door groans and starts to crumble. It breaks down into rubble, revealing a dark passage beyond it.

    Brittica appears at Gebohq's side holding a bloodied rock.


    Brittica: "Pretty dark in there. I don't fancy stumbling about down there..."

    Gebohq:
    "Did you actually kill Antestarr!?"

    Brittica looks at the rock then up at Gebohq.


    Brittica:
    "Would you miss him if I did?"

    Gebohq purses his lips, refusing to answer.

    Brittica:
    "Well unfortunately I didn't kill Antestarr. I threw my rock at him and miss. I clubbed a random yak instead."

    They turn to see a dead yak on the ground.

    Gebohq:
    "Why was a yak here?"

    Brittica: "Dunno. I feel kind of bad for it to be honest. Mega guilt..."

    Frey:
    "It must have been a zombie yak."

    Gebohq:
    "Zombie yak... just when you think you've heard it all."

    Shattered Antestarr:
    "You got it open!!! Now onward to see The Wizard of Oz!!! Or... I mean..."

    Shattered Antestarr looks sheepish.


    Shattered Antestarr:
    "Where did you want to go again?"

    Brittica sees red and raises her rock-arm but Gebohq grabs it and wrestles the weapon off of her.

    A short while later they're standing on the edge of the cave system and looking in. Shattered Antestarr had come prepared and handed out electric torches for everyone. Suspiciously Brittica's is broken. She glares at him


    Brittica:
    "I don't think we should be following this psychopath down any dark passages..."

    Morris the Cat:
    "Then you can stay out here with zombie-yak."

    They turn around to see zombie-yak struggling to crawl after them.

    Brittica:
    "Right..."

    In they go. Morris, who can't hold a torch, and Brittica stick close to Frey. Shattered Antestarr bounces down the passage ahead, his torchlight wobbling around like he's having his own personal disco.

    Kokoro looks at Gebohq.


    Kokoro: "What happened, Gabook?"

    Gebohq: "What do you mean?"

    Kokoro: "It's unusual for a student to be released from training before completion. Dangerous even."

    Gebohq looks injured by her question.

    Gebohq:
    "It was a long time ago..."

    Kokoro:
    "That doesn't really answer my question."

    She sighs.

    Kokoro: "It's your business. I know. But it's hard to trust you with such a mystery hanging over me. I can sense the attempt at neutrality in you and yet your soul is positively brimming as a daoine."

    Gebohq couldn't help but smirk at the word 'daoine'. He remembers being told off by his teacher all the time for saying 'jedi' instead. But as he remembers his teacher his mood instantly sours again.


    Gebohq:
    "I... I was trained, yeah. For a time. My mother... she wanted me to be able to look after myself. She expected that I'd be an asset to the family if I learnt the ways of the force..."

    Kokoro cringes.


    Kokoro: "I guess Earth has the same dialect words as Terra Flux..."

    Gebohq: "Oh right. Yeah. Actually I mostly trained on Terra Flux."

    Kokoro:
    "Not Tangris? That's unusual."

    Gebohq nods.


    Gebohq:
    "I know. There used to be a small school there. Me and my friend Rob were there, trained together."

    He glances at Morris, wondering if it's a coincidence that the fat cat is here right when all of this history comes up.

    ----------

    Many years ago, a much younger Gebohq steps off of the ramp of a Jupiterian transport tube. He glances up at the sky where he sees the much larger capital ship from where he'd descended. He scurries to the side to let his mother and sister get out of the tube after him. Polly Simon looks very elegant with her long flowing sash of green and her bare skin eagerly soaks up the bright sunlight. She tugs off a beaded bracelet and slips it onto Gebohq's own wrist. She fluffs his hair and nudges him onward. Losien stares at everything with wide eyes.

    As they leave the spaceport the twins are treated to their first visit of an alien world. They'd been on Jupiter and Earth before but they were homes to them, not a strange and mysterious planet so far away. They'd never even been allowed to go to Mars. They'd been separated for many months, Losien stuck on Jupiter while Gebohq had been on Earth with his father. Unfortunately Ohqeanos Simon is often ill and unable to play with Gebohq like the boy would like, leaving Gebohq to find his own amusement.

    Now, however, they're paired up again and best friends. Losien pulls Gebohq's hair.

    As best friends as brother-and-sister can get anyway.

    The street is strangely Earth-like and Gebohq is sure some of the buildings look just like those in the small American town where he dad was staying.

    The sky, however, is very different. Up there is a green haze blanketing the sky like grey clouds on a rainy day of Earth. As he looks up it seems to glisten, sparkle, every now and again. He bumps into his mother. She pulls him to her side to keep an eye on him as he continues to plod along. The people are strange. Most of them are human enough, but not all of them. He tries not to gawk. He'd been told many times already that he shouldn't stare at the Jupiterians that had transformed into something unusual. It is impolite. Losien always seems to be better at that than he is.

    They march along the street until they see what looks like a school or a temple. It has a latticed roof of wood and big, red doors wide open for them to enter through. The grounds are mostly stone, though there are small plots of garden filled with unusual vegetation. A pond sits in the middle of the stone yard. Gebohq glances inside to see that there are no fish in there, no fountain, and he wonders what the point of it is.

    They enter the building and are immediately greeted by a woman who takes them to see the headmaster of the school. They enter her office and find her seated in a comfortable, black chair that hovers off of the ground. The chair turns as they enter.

    Geb's Mom: "Lord Kloo Celli?"

    The woman has black skin and long, curly blonde hair. Her eyes shift from Geb's mother to Gebohq himself. She smiles at him.


    Kloo Celli:
    "Well met, Gebohq. You shouldn't be so nervous. This is your new home."

    He manages to nod.

    Losien: "What about me? I wanna live here too!"

    Geb's Mom: "You have more important duties, Losien..."

    Losien: "Like what?"

    Geb's Mom: "I'll explain when you're older."

    Kloo Celli is staring at Losien for a long moment before she reaches out and touches the girl's shaggy brown hair. Her hair is somewhat darker than her brother's but still has the same silken softness as his does. Kloo Celli frowns.

    Kloo Celli:
    "Her soul is inadequate for training anyway."

    Losien:
    "Wh-really!?"

    Geb's Mom looks perturbed and annoyed.

    Geb's Mom:
    "I'll take that as a compliment."

    She looks down at Gebohq, then kneels and hugs her son. She gives him a long kiss on the forehead.


    Geb's Mom:
    "Don't worry. We'll be in town for a few weeks and we'll visit every day. Just until you're settled. For now though, we have to go and find out hotel. You go with Lord Celli. She'll tell you what to do."

    She stands and heads for the door. Gebohq watches after her and Losien. He sees Losien is crying to herself and he wants to cry too. But he does his best to hold it in.

    His mother stops in the door and points at him.


    Geb's Mom:
    "Be good. And don't get into fights with the other students."

    She winks at him with affords him a smile before she goes. Gebohq watches Kloo Celli seat herself in the hoverchair. She looks out of the huge window behind her desk before speaking.


    Kloo Celli:
    "I think you'll like it here, Gebohq."

    He pouts, feeling confidence spring up within him.


    Gebohq:
    "Why were you mean to my sister? Why did you say she has a bad soul!?"

    She looks at him with mild surprise but masks it quickly with amusement.

    Kloo Celli: "I didn't say her soul was bad, did I? I said it's inadequate for training. It's too unruly. Her soul will not do as told. Any amount of training or tampering with her soul and it's likely to let loose of its own accord. Your soul, my soul, they're stable. Malleable. We can shape our souls in ways that allow us to use them. Your sister just has a soul that is different to ours. There's nothing wrong with that, it just means we cannot help her."

    Gebohq processes that in silence. Kloo Celli picks up a tablet from her desk - which totally doesn't look anything like an iPad, honest - and checks her new student's file.

    Kloo Celli:
    "You're in room D. Your partner arrived from Earth two weeks ago. His name is Robert. I'm sure you'll be best friends."

    ---

    A year later Gebohq is in the yard with his hilted ruhand. He'd heard other kids calling it a beam sword but his teacher would shout at him if he used such 'vulgar language'.

    He swings and chops the soul-sword, listening to the choral cries as it sweeps through the air. Apparently he should be able to make music as he swings but mostly he just hears lots of shouting and whining. He then hears a loud yawn. He looks at the sword puzzled before he realises it was Robert.


    Robert: "C'mon, Geb. Let's forget practice today. I wanna go to the cantina."

    The place was actually the canteen but everyone at the school called it the cantina. That one even his teacher had been caught saying.

    Gebohq: "I can't yet."

    Robert: "Dude, c'mon! Those girls are there!"

    Gebohq: "But, Rob, I have to finish this! It's alright for you, you already passed the basic test! I haven't!"

    Robert groans as he lounges on a bench.

    Robert: "It's not my fault you suck so bad..."

    Gebohq glowers at his friend but doesn't reply. He just continues his practice swings. Robert eventually makes up his mind and jumps off of the bench.

    Robert:
    "Oh well! Fine by me, dude. You stay here, I'll go see the girls by myself. I think they like me."

    Gebohq: "Both of them?"

    Robert:
    "I guess so since you're not going to be there! Maybe I'll Jedi Mind Trick them both into kissing me!"

    Gebohq:
    "You know that wouldn't work. And it's forbidden to even try!"

    Robert: "You'll have to come if you wanna stop me!"

    He grins and runs, giving Gebohq exactly the incentive he needed to run after him. His heart pumps wildly as he thinks of the girl with the bright green eyes that he and Robert had met last week. She's bold, beautiful and graceful. Her voice is lilting and superior with elevated tones of matchless peerage.

    They skip out of the gates of the school and quickly scoot to the left in case old Celli is watching through her window. They rush down the alleys until they burst onto the main road. Hovercars slowly plod by and they cross the road to get to the cantina. The canteen is a lower-class den for the workers of the city to get some cheap, quick grub. It's also a local hangout for the kids of the local school - the real school, not Gebohq's Jedi school. The jedi kids aren't meant to be in here.

    They slip through the doors and are greeted with the stench of grease, cheese and oil. Gebohq hopes that the oil is on workers' clothes and not in the food with the cheese. Gebohq hates cheese. His sister loves the stuff but he thinks it's utterly bland and unnatural. Anything that needs to be 'off' can't be natural for eating.

    Rob nudges him and points. The girls are all sat at a table and he sees the girl of his dreams eating cheese and crackers. He backtracks his mind. The way
    she eats cheese makes it look good.

    The two boys slump their shoulders and try to look casual as they slide across the room towards a table close to the girls' table. There's five of them. They all seem to be the same age, except for one who's younger than the rest. As Rob and Gebohq slink into their stools he notices one girl glance at them and gesture towards them. The girls try to surreptitiously inspect the two jedi boys while the boys, in turn, tried not to notice that they're being inspected. Robert slaps the menu down before Gebohq.

    Robert: "Why is it always cheese in this place? The only thing that doesn't have cheese in it is the milk! And that's just cheese-in-waiting!"

    Gebohq: "I know, right? I might order something and just scrape the cheese off of it."

    Robert:
    "I bet there's cheese in the water too. Cheesy-water."

    Girl:
    "Cheese not good enough for you jedi-types?"

    The two boys swallow hard. They'd wanted attention but not negative attention. Robert is the first to collect himself and he gives a nervous laugh.

    Robert: "Just joking! Nothing wrong with cheese! Really! Geb loves the stuff! Eats it all the damn time!"

    One of the girls leans forward. Her hair is mousy-brown with streaks of light blonde through it. It cascades down in gentle waves looking untamed and yet perfectly tamed. Her lips are red and thick, giving her such a unique feature that captures Gebohq's heart. She's his dream girl. Millicent Tarq.

    Millicent:
    "It's the Earth boys from last week, isn't it?"

    Her voice creates a rippling shiver down Gebohq's neck. He nods vapidly.

    The youngest girl scoffs.


    Young Girl: "Earth? Isn't that farm planet?"

    The other girls all titter at Earth's inadequacy and Gebohq sense his moment. Something he can affirm and rise above!


    Gebohq: "Actually I'm from Jupiter. I just live, sometimes, on Earth."

    The girls look more impressed, even a flash of surprise and Gebohq has that rush of victory wash through his veins. Robert glares at him, enraged by his friend's treachery.

    Millicent: "And do you two like waggling your sticks at each other?"

    Cackles of laughter, one again at the boys' expense. Gebohq got the innuendo but has no idea how to retort to such a thing.

    Robert: "Well, we skipped stick waggling today just so we could come in here..."

    Millicent gives him a sly smile.


    Millicent: "Come to see us?"

    Her friends give her shocked but entertained gasps. Her audacity is astounding. Robert grins from ear-to-ear and leans back in his chair, hands behind his head.

    Robert:
    "If you like."

    The girls laugh again, this time with more enthusiasm at the joint-game the two genders are playing. Another girl, the closest to the boys' table, smiles at them. Her voice is similar to Millicent's in accent but it's much higher in pitch and lacks all of the confident charm that her friend has.

    Girl: "What're you names then?"

    Robert: "I'm Robert--"

    They laugh at his name. They try to say it with voice that suggest idiocy. Evidently "Earth names" don't have the same vibrant cadence that the girls associate with class. He waits for their jibes to die down before he ventures, with some trepidation, his own name.


    Gebohq: "I'm... Geb-Gebohq."

    The girls then try to repeat the name with a great deal of wonder and fuss as they constantly get it wrong and start playfully bickering over the accurate pronunciation of the weirdly exotic name. He daren't tell them it's not a Jupiterian name but just one his parents randomly made up with scrabble pieces.

    Te girl closest finally introduces herself. She has entirely blonde hair that's even longer than Millicent's with a single streak of black through the front fringe. Her eyes are bright blue and her skin very white. She's certainly incredibly beautiful but, to Gebohq, not as wonderful as Millicent.


    Girl:
    "My name is Joleia Carta. My mother is the mayor of this city."

    The boys are surprised and suddenly fearful. This girl could get them into a lot of trouble. The other two girls introduce themselves too but the youngest one refuses to give out her name to 'stick-wigglers'.

    Millicent:
    "Pully. That's her name."

    The young girl glowers at Millicent.

    Millicent just smiles serenely as she continues talking to Gebohq and Robert.

    Millicent: "She's as likely to cut your tongue off as she is to kiss you."

    Gebohq can't help but get excited at the idea of kissing anyone even if she might cut his tongue off afterwards. But when Millicent uses the word kiss she looks straight at Gebohq and his heart almost leapt out of his mouth.

    Pully then gets up and rolls her eyes.


    Pully: "If you princesses want to chew the fat with these idiots, fine. But I'm not sticking around to watch you flirt yourselves into embarrassment."

    Robert: "What do you have against Jedis anyway?"

    Joleia: "Creepy people with magic souls walking around? Does that sound like something normal people do?"

    Millicent:
    "Besides, everyone knows Jedis are anti-imperial. A bunch of rebel-loving, stick-wiggling, soul-creeping--"

    The girls laugh at the stupid term 'soul-creeping' that Millicent made up. Gebohq feels hurt that she held such diametrically opposed position to him and his place in life but she seems not to be overly serious about it. Joleia seems more sober than her friends though. She takes a drink from her glass before she asks;

    Joleia: "Why don't you tell us about your farm planet, Earth?"

    ----------

    Back in the present day, Shattered Realm, NeS Antestarr has pursued his quarry across the mountains and rushes past an inky lake until he reaches an open cave entrance. He looks down inside and thinks he can hear people talking further in. He is about to head down into the passage, his NeSferatu eyes being more than adequate for dark spaces, when he hears a deathly groan. He turns just in time to see zombie-yak throw itself at him.


    NeS Antestarr: "YAAAARGH!!! GET IT OFF!!! GET IT OOOOOF!!!"
    Last edited by TheBritt; 04-15-2016 at 03:35 PM.

  24. #104

    A head of Antestarr

    Skulking slowly through the dark caverns, Antestarr continues his pursuit of his prey, his pawn in his single-minded plan, the shadows casting across his monstrous form...

    ...or rather, the form of a zombie yak with its jaw clamping upon Antestarr's skull and its body limp (un)dead behind him.

    Antestarr grumbles as he presses on, ever so slowly...
    Last edited by Gebohq; 04-29-2016 at 09:50 PM.

  25. #105
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow The Balanced Jedi

    Still in Gebohq's flashback--

    Brittica: "I want a flashback!"

    Gebohq: "You had a whole series for a flashback!"

    Brittica: "Hey-- wait, how did you know that? And who the Hell am I talking to anyway?"

    Shattered Antestarr:
    "I thought you were talking to me..."

    Brittica:
    "Why would I ever talk to you, creepster?"

    Gebohq: "Can we get back to my flashback now?"

    Morris: "Is this really the place for a flashback?"

    Frey: "What's a flashback?"

    Kokoro: "I think he means he's remembering things from his past, Frey."

    Gebohq: "Yeah, that's it. Me and the Readers!"

    There's a moment of stupefied silence in the cave. Gebohq instantly looks sheepish, remembering not everyone in the universe believes in his narrative theory.

    Morris the Cat:
    "Retard..."

    ----

    Gebohq: "DUN! DUN! DUN! DUN! Dun-dun-dun-dun-DUN-DUN! Dun-dun-dun-dun-DUN-DUN!"

    Robert: "Please stop singing your own theme tune, Geb."

    Gebohq:
    "Waaaaab waaaarb waaaaaaaaaaaarb! Waaaaarb waaaaaaaaaaaarb warb warb waaaaa-- ACK!"

    Robert smacks him on the back on his head.

    It's night time, a few years later, and the two boys are sneaking out of the school. Again.


    Every few months they'd make arrangements with the girls of the Imperial school to meet up after hours. Unfortunately, thanks to Gebohq's secret agent theme, they're caught by an imperial police officer doing the rounds.


    Imperial Police Officer: "'Allo, 'allo, 'allo! Wot 'ave we 'ere then!?"

    Robert:
    "Crap. Mind crush!"

    Gebohq looks at Robert incredulously.


    Gebohq: "Mind crush!? That's a bloody Yugi-oh thing! And it sounds really dangerous! You mean a mind trick!"

    Robert: "Right. That one."

    Gebohq wiggles his fingers in front of the imperial police officer.


    Gebohq: "You want to let us go..."

    The imperial police officer frowns and glares at them harder.


    Robert: "It's... totally not working, dude!"

    Gebohq: "Bugger this!"

    In a poof Gebohq vanishes. Only the clattering of a stone hitting the pavement is heard. Robert and the officer stare down at it. It starts to roll away. The officer quickly reaches out and grabs Robert by his navy blue robes. He looks up at the officer with fretful eyes.

    Robert: "Uh... mind crush?"

    Nothing.

    Robert:
    "Fuq."

    Just around the corner Gebohq pops out of his go-to Jupiterian rock-form. He pants and wheezes both from effort - rolling around as a rock isn't as easy as one might think - and from the panic that had set in. He peeks back out to see the imperial police officer dragging Robert away.

    Gebohq: "Oh well!"

    He turns happily only to bump straight into a younger girl, almost slamming his chin into her forehead. In an attempt to avert such a disaster he throws himself sidewards... straight into a wall where he crunches his nose.


    Pully: "That was stupid."

    Whimpering he pulls himself off of the wall and pokes his very painful nose.

    Gebohq: "Wh-what're you doing here?"

    Pully: "Oh. I'm not invited to your little midnight soirée?"

    Gebohq: "Sowawa? What's that? A new cocktail? And ice cream?"

    Pully:
    "I have no idea why the others like you two."

    Gebohq: "Then why are you here?"

    Pully: "Because the others asked me to keep a look out for police or teachers."

    Gebohq: "Why didn't you warn us about that guy!?"

    Pully: "I'm here to warn them not you!"

    She then shrugs and offers him a sly smirk.

    Pully: "Besides, it was great to see your terrified face when he collared you. Haha!"

    She starts making doe-eyes and tries to mimic Gebohq's voice and accent.

    Pully: "Oh pwease Mr imperial guy. You want to let us go..."

    Gebohq sulks.

    Gebohq: "That totally isn't want was happening..."

    She has long blonde hair, a slim waist, and a lot of adorable freckles on her face. If she didn't have the attitude of a rancor, she would have been great. She was even funny, when she wasn't being cruel to him or Robert.

    She turns and trots down the alley with Gebohq in pursuit. He starts trembling with antici...pation!


    They burst out of the alley and into the plaza by the local fountain. There's quite a few people all milling about the area in their own little groups. He sees some tourists taking photos of the fountain, sticking up a v for victory. Some people are selling foodstuffs and, if it weren't for the arrival of the other girls, Gebohq would have been over at the doughnut cart in an instant. Instead he sees Millicent Tarq. Her high-pitch, arrogant titter is like music slipping over the waves of people, prominent amongst the cacophony of voices. He straightens his back and rubs down his brown sentinal apprentice robes. He'd wanted to get into more casual wear but they hadn't time to get anything new after their last class. At least it wasn't a physical ed class so he wouldn't be smelling like hour-old sweat.

    She marches over the street towards them and when their eyes gaze across him and Pully he is warmed that their look isn't disdainful of him. He practically prances over to them instead of marching and skips to Millicent's side sharing a broad grin with her.

    Gebohq: "Why, hullo there, Millie!"

    She tilts her head languidly and gives him a small smile. It's patronising but at least it's affectionate.

    Joleia: "Where's Robert?"

    She appears to be fretting.

    Pully: "He got snagged by a cop. And the old Gebster, Oh Man of Mystery, totally ditched his buddy."

    At that instant Gebohq hates Pully.

    Gebohq: "No point in us both being caught!"

    Millicent, rather than criticise, actually broadens her smile but there's something a little malicious in it.

    Millicent:
    "You made the right choice, Gebohq. If he's too useless to keep up then that's his problem."

    Gebohq nods and feels himself swell with pride that he was praised by his love. Pully shakes her head with disapproval but says nothing. Joleia looks melancholy.

    Millicent snatches Gebohq's arm and points towards one of the vendors selling fancy snacks. As they walk over to it Gebohq turns his head longingly towards the doughnut vendor. Only when they're at the fancy snacks vendor does he snap back.

    She orders them two wraps filled with vegetables that Gebohq cannot even pronounce. He looks at it dubiously.


    Gebohq:
    "Is this thing healthy?"

    Millicent: "Very."

    Gebohq's look sours further.

    When he sees Millicent eat hers he becomes more resolute and chomps down on his dull, yet healthy, snack. After a few minutes of conversation he finds himself alone with Millicent, as though the other girls had already planned for them to have a moment together. She looks at him with the same kind of affection one might have for a pet cat.

    Or maybe that's aiming too high. A pet hamster.

    Or a goldfish.


    Millicent:
    "Gebohq. I have to tell you something. And you'll be upset."

    Gebohq looks at her with wibbly-eyes.

    Gebohq:
    "You hate doughnuts?"

    Millicent frowns.


    Millicent:
    "Uh... no."

    Gebohq: "You're secretly a sith?"

    Millicent:
    "What? No. Though if I were one of you soul-creepers--"

    Gebohq: "You have space AIDS!?"

    Millicent: "Wh-wh-what!!? NO! Why would--"

    Gebohq:
    "You're a supporter of The Ravens!?"

    Millicent:
    "What's that supposed to be?"

    Gebohq: "I've always dreamed that someone would come along and blow up their stupid stadium. CURSE YOU RAAAAAAAVEEEEEENS!!!"

    Millicent stares at him incredulously and Gebohq recomposes himself.

    Gebohq: "Sorry... what were you saying?"

    Millicent: "I'm leaving."

    Gebohq: "Oh right. How long for?"

    Millicent: "..."

    Gebohq's face drops.

    Millicent: "Sorry, Gebohq. I know you've gotten quite attached so I thought it would be the honourable thing to let you know..."

    Gebohq: "Where?"

    Millicent: "Oddly enough, it's all thanks to you. You told me about your little countryside world and I found they have one of the best biology courses available at a university there."

    Gebohq: "Biology!? Who studies biology!?"

    Millicent:
    "Biologists..."

    Gebohq: "Uh... right..."

    Millicent: "Not that it matters. My major will be politics. I'm taking biology classes to help me understand the other species of the galaxy so I can better manipulate them."

    She grins at her own deviousness.

    Gebohq: "But... biology..."

    Millicent:
    "Well, that, and I want to get as far away from my blasted parents as I bloody well can. So oppressive. You have no idea."

    Gebohq probably does but he doesn't realise it.


    Gebohq:
    "I didn't even get round to... asking you to..."

    Millicent: "Well. Easy come, easy go, isn't it? It's been fun being friends with you, Gebby. If you want to say anything to me... now's your only chance..."

    She looks at him with a face of poorly masked superiority. Like she's hungry to get a confession from him so that she can leave in triumph. He opens his mouth--

    Stern Voice: "AHEM!"

    The two teenagers whip around to see a tall, pink-skinned man with a huge, mane of pink skin that circles his head like a tall collar. What hair he hair is pulled up into a top-knot, tangled up in wicker-weaving. He wears the white robes of a consular knight and he has his arms folded tightly. When he speaks the pink mane flickers red.

    Aellisin Koure: "Here you are, Gebohq Simon. What do you think you're doing out here with this girl?"

    Millicent: "Girl!? I'm--"

    Aellisin Koure:
    "You could be the Queen of Algernon for all I care, whelp! Get out of my sight before I inform your school of your absence."

    Millicent Tarq sneers at the falleen knight and stalks off. Gebohq's heart feels like it just dropped into his stomach and is melting in his stomach acid. He notices Robert tucked in behind the knight, looking very self-pitying. On the other side of Aellisin Koure is his own pupil - Arbiter. Arbiter is a couple of years older than Gebohq and Robert and ready to graduate soon. From what Gebohq hears about him he's not the best Ćon around but what he lacks in soul-channelling he makes up with in other archaic powers usually disapproved of by the higher orders. His hair is black and made to stand upright, seemingly defying gravity. He, like his teacher, wears the white and beige robes of a consular. He looks at Gebohq smugly but with a hint of pity that condemned him for being so stupid.

    Aellisin Koure:
    "I assure you, your teacher will be most displeased with your antics. Move it."

    ----

    The night is dark and full of terrors...

    That's how the bedtime story began for Gebohq and Losien back in their beds on Jupiter. But while the darkness contains terrors, it also contains heroes that keep the darkness from consuming the innocent. It's a balance to keep both in check.


    Washi Yammakawa: "Too much light and you will become oppressive. Too much darkness and you too will become oppressive."

    They're sitting in the yard of the school and projecting aspects of their soul across the stones at each other. Their aspects meet in the centre and push against each other. The darkness of Gebohq's soul and the light of Robert's. The aspects of their souls swirl about each other for dominance. The urge to forcibly take the space with his own soul is powerful indeed, while he knows the urge to vanish the darkness must be strong in Robert's.


    Washi Yammakawa: "Control yourselves... don't get overly excited... Chill your beanz."

    Gebohq tries to not allow his teacher's unusual way of speaking distract him. Washi Yammakawa is of a species called muovinian, meaning his skin is like plastic and so are his emotions. Everything plastic. When he speaks he often uses straight dialectal words but often winds up sounding like someone's granddad trying to be hip. He is sitting on a bench between the two students, watching their souls mesh.

    After a while Gebohq feels that he and Robert have managed to control their desires and are stably resting against one another.

    Washi Yammakawa: "Now... insert a part of yourselves into each other--"

    Gebohq:
    "WHAT!?"

    Gebohq breaks concentration and his soul instantly retracts. Robert's soul hurtles across the yard and smacks Gebohq in the face, knocking him flat on his back. He stares up at the sky that, even after so many years, is still entirely alien to him. The green mist sweeps and swirls softly.

    Robert appears over him.


    Robert: "He didn't mean in a gay way, retard."

    Gebohq: "Sounded pretty gay to me."

    Robert:
    "Freud would have a field day with you."

    Washi: "Robert's right. I'd run away if a man tried to pop his tally-whacker inside me too. But this time I was talking about your soul. The ultimate test of self-control is if you can place small fraction of your darkness into another's light and remain their unmolested..."

    Gebohq:
    "Bad choice of words, teacher..."

    Robert:
    "Seriously, Geb. It's okay if you're gay."

    Gebohq just groans and sits up. His head is spinning.


    Washi: "While I didn't expect you to succeed, I didn't expect you to wind up on your back--"

    Gebohq: "You're just saying these gay things on purpose now."

    Washi: "Am I?"

    Robert: "Or maybe you just want to hear them, eh?"

    Gebohq: "God, I really want a pizza right now..."

    Robert:
    "That a gay euphemism too?"

    Gebohq: "I'm gonna kill you, Rob."

    Robert:
    "That a gay euphemism too!?"

    He grins at Gebohq like an idiot. At first Gebohq wants to lunge up and smack that grin off his face. But then, quickly, he sees the funny side and starts to laugh. Just a little. And then it's uncontrollable. Robert starts laughing too. Even Washi, with his plastic face, is smiling.

    Washi: "Then pizza it is. And I might even let you both have a sip from my Corellian Whiskey stash."

    Robert: "Scha-weet!"

    Gebohq: "Why is it called Corellian Whiskey anyway?"

    Washi: "Because it's whiskey..."

    Gebohq:
    "I mean, why Corellian?"

    The two others frown.

    Robert:
    "Why's Nintendo called Nintendo?"

    Gebohq: "Uh... it was invented in... Nintendo Land?"

    Robert:
    "Retard."

    ----------

    Gebohq:
    "Why does everyone call me retard?"

    Morris the Cat:
    "I'll give you one guess..."

    Gebohq frowns at Morris.


    Gebohq: "That's it. Don't make me get out my most deadly weapon!"

    Brittica: "You wish your weapon was deadly!"

    Frey: "What does that mean?"

    Brittica:
    "I'll tell you when you're older."

    Morris the Cat:
    "I've told you before, I ain't afraid of your little force-wibbling. Robert always tried to use his powers to lift my butt off of his magazines. Never worked. Not an inch."

    Gebohq grins triumphantly.


    Gebohq: "Oh ho ho ho! You forget every jedi--"

    Kokoro:
    "Ćon."

    Gebohq:
    "Wha? Oh. Ćon. Every Ćon always has a secret weapon..."

    He whips out a water spritzer.


    Morris the Cat:
    "Fuq!"

    Brittica:
    "Where were you keeping that...?"

    Gebohq chases Morris down the cavern while spraying gentle mists of water at the fat cat, who can barely waddle away in terror. Brittica glares at them.

    Frey:
    "Do you want to stop him from tormenting the poor cat?"

    Brittica:
    "What? No! I'm jealous! I want to have a go at spraying the little wanker!"

    Brittica runs after Gebohq trying to make him let her have a go.

    Shattered Antestarr: "LOOK! THE WAY OUT!"

    They all turn to see Shattered Antestarr pointing at a very big boulder. Brittica snatches the water spritzer from Gebohq and squirts the water mist into Shattered Antestarr's eye.

  26. #106
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    Shattered Antestarr: Oh, thank you, my eyes were getting quite dry!

    Brittica: ....

    Geb snatches the waters spritzer from Brittica, who pouts.

    Morris the Cat: Another boulder? Does this mean Fartypants and Plastic Chick have to have mind sex again?

    Geb: NO!

    Kokoro: I wouldn't put it so crudely, but yes.

    Geb facepalms.

    Shattered Antestarr: Don't worry! I know the way out of this one, you can remain mentally celibate! Mind you, I don't know why you'd want to, it's no fun being mentally celibate.

    Brittica: Right. I bet you've had mind sex all the time.

    Shattered Antestarr: That Denny's was great for picking up psychic chicks!

    Frey is blushing at this sort of talk.

    Kokoro: So what is the way through this then, friend?

    Shattered Antestarr raises his finger excitedly, his face animated, his mouth open to speak-- then his finger and face droop.

    Shattered Antestarr: I had it just a second ago...

    Brittica facepalms.

  27. #107
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow Washi Yammakawa

    Given that another immovable wall has come to bar their path, Gebohq sits himself down on a rock to rest his aching legs. He rubs his eyes as the memories of his time on Terra Flux continue to unravel in his head. He guesses it's because he's with Kokoro Lymn but he wonders if it isn't just this place that churning up his mind.

    He remembers times spent with his teacher, times with Rob X and he remembers how he'd pined for his lost love who left Terra Flux to go to Earth while he was stuck with his studentship. He wonders, now, if his teacher hadn't died... would he be an Ćon Knight today?


    ---

    Alarms are blaring across the city and Imperial Police are running around desperately. Aellisin Koure was last seen fleeing the Ćon school with Lord Kloo Celli in pursuit. The entire city is up in arms, while the citizens are locked away in their homes for safety - nobody wants to face a rampaging Ćon Knight.

    His crime? Cloning.

    Long against the rules of the Ćon Orders, when caught Koure went on the attack, eager to protect his cloned self. Where he had gotten the technology was a mystery to all but no answers could be asked as Koure, and his clone, fought their way out of the school. The cloning den had been beneath the school, like a cloning dungeon, and was accidentally discovered by a student who was looking for for bathroom. Of course.

    The students are tasked with searching but not engaging him and so Gebohq and Robert are wandering the streets aimlessly. The constant sound of alarm bells, ringing in their ears, is grating. Gebohq couldn't fully understand the big problem, not having much of a care about the cloning process. It was briefly explained that the process was an unnatural perversion of the soul as a cloned soul is both a new soul and yet also a replicated soul - meaning two souls that are the same existing at once. Why this is a problem baffles Gebohq but it is, so said Lord Celli.


    Gebohq: "I vote we get a hot dog while we're here!"

    Robert:
    "Yeah, because Lord Celli won't be pissed off with us for stuffing our faces while on the job..."

    Gebohq shrugs.


    Gebohq: "We are never going to find Teacher Koure--"

    Robert: "He's not a teacher now, dude."

    Gebohq: "Well, whatever you want to call him. He'll be long gone. I just... urgh. I'm just--"

    Robert: "I know. It sucks that your girlfriend is gone. How about you take mine instead?"

    Gebohq: "You should just break up with Joleia if you don't like her, Rob."

    Robert: "I will. It'll be easier when we graduate and I have to move away, right? I just feel guilty if I do it now. Plus I think she'll stalk me if I do. You know she sent me a creepy doll of herself?"

    Gebohq: "I suppose it would be hard to just... break up. I dunno though. Seems pretty mean to lead her on."

    Robert ruffles his own hair in frustration.

    Robert: "I just dunno how to do it, dude! How do I let someone down like that?"

    Gebohq: "What do we do if we do find Teacher Koure?"

    Robert: "Run away?"

    Gebohq: "You know he's a sith, right? He'll probably try to kill us!"

    Robert: "I don't think he's that bad... is he? Would he kill us?"

    The two boys look increasingly nervous.

    Gebohq: "I really want that hot dog..."

    Robert: "Fiiiiine. I want a chilli dog."

    They scurry across the street. Though the majority of people have locked themselves away, some are still milling about and unconcerned about the plight of the knights. A hot dog vendor is more than happy to dish out food to the students but then, from down the street, they hear cries of horror. The two boys step away from the vendor, who is staring with sudden panic, to where they can all see a group of Imperial police fly through the air.

    Gebohq:
    "Bollocks..."

    Robert: "I'll reach out to Teacher Washi!"

    Gebohq: "And I'll- I'll-- Eat a hot dog?"

    Robert:
    "Tell Lord Celli, dumbnuts!"

    Gebohq focuses his mind and tries to reach out to Lord Celli. He finds it difficult to pinpoint her single mind amidst the loud noises of all the hundreds of panicked minds nearby, their voices and images spilling into his own. Then he senses a darkness near him, an aura of cruelty. His eyes snap open and, standing before him, is Aellisin Koure. His mane of pink is now red with rage and malice. Gebohq shrinks back.

    Koure: "Remove yourself."

    Gebohq's hands shake and holds up his hilt, summoning the strength he can muster, to project his soul through the catalyst. Like training wheels, the hilt balances his soul evenly to create the beam of white-grey light. He swallows hard as he looks up at Koure.

    Koure: "I gave you the option to move. You didn't. Blame yourself for this."

    With one quick sweep of his hand, Gebohq is flung high up into the air. His hilted-ruhand spins off, disigniting as it separates from him, and his body spirals. He tries to focus to bring his body down gently and smoothly but panic has gripped his heart and he cannot concentrate enough to pull through. Moments before he hits a wall, resulting in serious injury, he feels himself knocked roughly aside by a physical body. He rolls against the floor until he comes to a stop. He looks up wildly to see someone lying next to him.

    Gebohq: "Arbiter?"

    Arbiter: "You okay, Geb?"

    He pushes himself up to his elbows.

    Gebohq: "Yeah. Thanks. But why did you save me? Aren't you with your--"

    He points vaguely to where he thinks Koure might be. Arbiter gets to his feet and shrugs.


    Arbiter:
    "I believe in the ways of the sith, but I'm still an Ćon. I had to save you."

    Gebohq accepts Arbiter's extended hand and gets to his own feet.

    Gebohq: "Glad you're a nice sith dude."

    Arbiter: "I wouldn't go that far. Nice. Ew."

    Washi: "Go get your weapon, Gebohq. Foolish to lose it."

    Gebohq and Arbiter both leap up fright and turn to find Washi Yammakawa standing behind them. He casually puts a hand on his hips and wafts his hand at Gebohq. Gebohq turns around to see his hilt lying on the floor nearby.

    Washi:
    "By the way, I saw you flying, Arbiter."

    Arbiter grins broadly.

    Arbiter: "That's right! Pretty awesome, right? I rock!"

    Washi: "Well. It was more of a long jump than flying, I should say."

    Arbiter: "Heeeeey."

    Washi: "Give it time. Oh. Here he comes."

    Gebohq wiggles his hilt to check it's in one piece but turns his head when his teacher confirms they're no longer alone. Aellisin Koure has turned towards them, seeking a way through the city, only to now find himself caught.

    Washi:
    "You've been a baaaaaaaad boy, Aellisin..."

    Koure: "You're a fool if you think you can defeat me, Yammakawa. Remove yourself. And your student."

    He notices Arbiter.

    Koure: "Arbiter. To my side. Now."

    Arbiter doesn't move.

    Koure:
    "I always suspected you to be a fool, Arbiter. Now you confirm it."

    Arbiter narrows his eyes.

    Arbiter: "Are you my real teacher, or the perversion?"

    At this Koure smiles wickedly but makes no reply.


    Washi: "Either way, you'll be coming with us, Koure. Or with me. These two will have to just watch me kick your arse."

    Aellisin holds out his pink hand and, with a gentle flick, summons his natural ruhand. It's a powerful beam of red soul-power that ripples angrily and vibrantly.

    Washi holds his own hand out and his soul extends into a thin, white beam of light. Then, unexpectedly, a second shaft extends from the other side of his hand so that he has a staff of light running from left of his hand to the right. He spins his hand and the chorus of voices sings majestically until the staff comes to a rest. Koure shakes his head, unimpressed, and gives to quick, powerful slashes with his own sword in readiness for this duel.


    Washi: "Stay back. Both of you."

    Before they could say anything, Washi bounces forward and begins his assault. The ruhand-staff slips down his hands, throwing its full length all the way to one side, thrusting at Koure who has to duck to avoid being struck. The staff then slides back down Washi's hand to take its neutral position and blocks Koure's retaliatory swipes. Washi swings in left, blocked, then bounces round to the right, blocked too. He mashes three times, trying to unsettle Koure's defence, but the falleen is too dug in. Koure pushes back against Washi's third strike and thrusts his open palm at the human - force pushing him backwards and into the wall. Washi grunts as he hits but he's quickly back on his feet. Koure throws several objects in the area at him - a brick, a bench and a the hot dog cart but Washi dodges them as he closes the distance.

    Again they engage and Gebohq sees Robert on the other side of the match. He remembers he was supposed to call Lord Celli and he closes his eyes to attempt again. The presence of Teacher Washi is, somehow, comforting enough to let Gebohq focus on what he has to do. His mind links, briefly, to Celli who instantly breaks the connection but leaves Gebohq with the sense that she understood.

    Gebohq opens his eyes.


    Gebohq: "Wait-- LOOK OUT!"

    Washi turns at Gebohq's shout to see a second Aellisin Koure launch himself at Washi. The human manages to block the strike but has to try to then block a second strike from the original Koure.

    Arbiter: "No way..."

    Gebohq: "We have to help him, Arbiter!"

    Arbiter: "How?"

    Gebohq: "We'll just... distract one of them. Then Teacher Washi can finish the other."

    Arbiter: "We'll die in an instant."

    Gebohq: "I have to try."

    Gebohq's hilted-ruhand extends and he runs towards the fray with a cry, hoping to get the attention of one of the Koure's. Arbiter circles round quickly to do the same, his own hilted-ruhand also extended. As the two close they manage to get the attention they wanted. The new Koure turns and, with that same wicked grin, he snatches the ruhand from Arbiter's grasp, tugging it away telekinetically. Arbiter stumbles from the tug and falls flat on his face. As Gebohq closes new Koure launches the hilt at the boy. Koure throws his soul into the hilt and it ignites with a brilliant red beam, spinning straight for Gebohq's head. Gebohq's eyes widen with the horror he knows his face is about to endure.

    Washi: "No!!!"

    The hilt stops, just inches from Gebohq. The beam dissipates and drops. But behind it is revealed Washi Yammakawa, hunched over, and staring at his student with wide eyes of pain. He had left his fight to save Gebohq, and the original Koure stabbed him in the back. The red ruhand has pierced Washi's torso entirely. As Washi groans from the agony the new Koure thrusts his own ruhand up into Washi's chest. Gebohq chokes and falls to his own knees moments before Washi does likewise. Then Washi falls flat as the two Koure's release him. Gebohq shakes with desperation. Some might get angry but Gebohq becomes desperate.

    New Koure: "Let's finish these children off quickly."

    Original Koure: "Leave them. They're done. Go. Now."

    They run past Gebohq, either side of him, ignoring him, knowing he's not going to do anything to try and stop them. He sees Arbiter getting up to rush to Washi's prone body. Robert, from further back, runs in too. Gebohq knows he should run to Washi. Try to help him. But he can't move. He just kneels there, staring.

    A long time passes before Robert is shaking him. Gebohq manages to focus his eyes on his friend's face;


    Gebohq: "It- It's my fault, Rob... It--"

    Robert doesn't disagree. He simply avoids the issue;


    Robert:
    "Lord Celli is here, Geb. She wants us to go with her..."

    -----

    Some weeks later five people are standing at the spaceport. A shuttle stands prepped and ready to leave, its doors open and its cargo pod filled with suitcases.

    Arbiter, Gebohq and Robert. All three are leaving without officially finishing their training. Arbiter seems the least concerned. He almost completed his training anyway and he was finding his own powers to be growing outside of his Ćon training. He claimed he couldn't accept a new teacher so late in his training and wished to finish early.


    Likewise Gebohq and Robert wouldn't be able to take a new teacher. Gebohq blames himself for what happened to his teacher and could never accept what he'd done. Robert, likewise, said he couldn't take a new teacher after losing the first, though Gebohq thinks Robert is leaving because Gebohq is leaving. Gebohq does think Robert seems hesitant to go but he hasn't got the stomach to tell Robert he should stay. He barely has the stomach to say anything at all. He'd spent all the time since Washi's death in the hospital with a therapist but ultimately even the therapist believed that Gebohq needs to move on somewhere away from the Ćon Academy.

    As if to cement Robert's decision to leave as well, Joleia Carter is there trying to convince Robert to stay on Terra Flux but he's having none of it. He apologises and says their relationship must end. Gebohq almost wishes she would come running to him instead. He could use comforting from a warm-hearted girl right now. He thinks, briefly, of Millicent. Maybe he could spend some time on Earth...


    The fifth person is Lord Celli. She seems disappointed in them, especially Robert, for giving up but she concedes that they have control enough of their souls that they won't be a danger to anybody.

    Lord Celli: "Running away is never the answer..."

    Gebohq thinks it is. If he had run away that night then Teacher Washi would still be here. Maybe. Gebohq concedes that maybe he would have died before the double-Koure threat anyway but then he would have died fighting and not trying to save his idiot student.

    Gebohq doesn't say anything. He just turns to leave while Robert and Arbiter explain themselves to Lord Celli one last time. He gets on the shuttle. His mother had also been less than impressed with him quitting. He wonders what his father will say.

    Alone, in the back of the shuttle, Gebohq cries to himself.

    -----

    Gebohq feels his eyes sting a little as the memory invades his brain. He never found out what happened to Aellisin Koure after he escaped Terra Flux. He presumes he's out there still, cloning himself and killing other Ćon Knights that try to find him.


    Brittica: "We could use Anestarr as a battering ram. Head first, straight into the boulder."

    Shattered Antestarr: "But-But-! You'll mess up my hair!"

    Brittica: "Yeah because you brain and your face are so messed up, nobody would notice. But don't worry, we can straighten your hair afterwards. Oi, Koko, you get his feet."

    Kokoro: "Please don't call me that..."

  28. #108
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    Shattered Antestarr: Wait! I remembered how to get through!

    Brittica stands up, huffing for breath, from where she'd been trying to hoist the man up by his legs, to use as a battering ram.

    Brittica: Thank god. You're heavier than you look.

    Shattered Antestarr: That's not nice! I've lost ten whole pounds in the last month!

    Brittica: Probably cuz that Denny's ran out of food!

    Everyone looks at Morris the Cat.

    Morris: I don't know why you would all think that it's MY fault they ran out of food.

    He licks a paw.

    Morris: Even if, in this particular case, it's true.

    Kokoro: Let's move on. What's the trick to getting through, Antestarr?

    Shattered Antestarr: We knock!

    Brittica: What? I think it's back to the battering ram strategy.

    Geb: No, let him try it. I've seen enough story conventions to know this could actually work.

    Brittica looks dubious but reluctantly concedes the point. Shattered Antestarr steps up to the boulder that blocks the passage, and raps smartly several times. After a few moments of silence, Brittica opens her mouth to deride him, when the boulder shifts to the side.

    Gebohq: I hope those words were tasty, Brittica, since now you're eating them!

    Brittica glares at him. Then black oozing pus slides slowly through the opened passage, heralding the arrival of a figure completely covered in the oily blood-in of the EeP. Brittica grins triumphantly.

    Brittica: Vindicated! Shouldn't have trusted that freak!

    EeP Zombie: Join us.......

    Gebohq: Maybe we should start running now?

    Kokoro: It's just one, perhaps we could disable or destroy it?

    Nonetheless, they're all cringing back, ready to flee at any moment as the zombie shuffles towards them. Shattered Antestarr, however, steps up and waves brightly.

    Shattered Antestarr: Hi, Mareth!

    Brittica: Get back, you fool!

    The shuffling zombie blinks listless brown eyes at Shattered Ante, and then the eyes brighten, as if becoming awake. The ink slowly recedes from the figure, revealing a battered but very-much-alive young woman, who collapses to her hands and knees, breathing heavily.

    Mareth: So much... darkness...and pain...

    Shattered Ante bends over her, stroking her hair affectionately, not in the manner of a lover, but the manner of a man petting a rescued stray.

    Shattered Antestarr: You'll be okay, Mareth.

    Mareth: No...no, I won't. Dammit, Ante, I told you not to come again! You're just making it worse!

    Shattered Antestarr: I'm sorry, Mareth. But we need your help.

    Brittica: So...she's not a zombie then?

    Kokoro: Clearly not. Very alive. Her soul shines brightly. Almost as brightly as an Aeon's. It was obscured before by the EeP-ooze.

    Mareth: I am an empath. It is a curse more than a blessing. When the EeP began taking over the world, I was unable to resist the malevolence of its emotions. It consumed me, I was surrounded by darkness, and subsumed in it. Not dead...but I might as well have been.

    Brittica: Then why are you free now? And how can we trust that you won't turn again?

    Mareth: You can't. I only have a few minutes. But being in the presence of still-living character has given me a new bright focus in the darkness, allowing me to shake it off, if only momentarily.

    Gebohq: Is there no way we can help you?

    Mareth smiles thinly.

    Mareth: Perhaps there is. But first, what is it you need?

    Brittica: A way into the Palace of Power. We're going to destroy the EeP at its source.

    Mareth: You're leading them to the Lazarus Pit, Ante?!

    Kokoro: What is that?

    Mareth: A ruined vault beneath the Palace. Once, the bloodink that flowed through the Highemperor's veins bled from his corpse into it. The EeP fed on it and consumed it, growing exponentially more powerful from the process. The vault itself is mostly clear now, save for a few of the ever-present ink-pus growths.

    Gebohq: Sounds perfect! So this passage will leads us to the Lazarus Pit, and that will take us up into the Palace?

    Mareth: Yes, but... Ante, surely you must know that without the sword, there is nothing they can do?

    Shattered Ante looks abashed.

    Shattered Antestarr: I forgot.

    Brittica facepalms.

    Kokoro: What sword is this? Perhaps my ruhand will suffice.

    She projects her soul into the glowing blade of light, to demonstrate. Mareth shakes her head.

    Mareth: No, it must be the Malorkus. It was designed specifically to save the Shattered Realm.

    Gebohq: Wait, the Porkus Malorkus? But that'll turn me into a pig if I use it!

    Brittica and Kokoro look curiously at Geb for this remark.

    Mareth: No, this is the One True Malorkus, forged from all the varied Malorkus blades - the Porkus, the Sporkus, the Forkus, the Orkus, the Torqus, and so on. There is no curse laid upon it.

    Kokoro: Perhaps it would be more useful to ask where this Malorkus is.

    Mareth: Aariadon has it. His girlfriend the DreamChylde gave it to him, before she was consumed by the EeP and turned into a zombie.

    Brittica: DreamChylde? Well, that's a pretentious name. I can hear the 'Y' in it, even!

    Shattered Antestarr: Well, she was created by pretentious entities! Mostly Phractal, but he got a lot of other gods to bless her.

    Gebohq: Phractal? We met that weird dude before.

    Brittica: Didn't help her in the end, did it? Looks like we need to find Aariadon again.

    Kokoro: He knows we're headed for the source; surely we will meet him there. He was looking for Antestarr anyway, so his search will lead him after us, correct?

    Brittica: I suppose.

    Shattered Antestarr: Wait! Mareth, where's Makayla?

    A shadow of sadness flits across Mareth's face.

    Mareth: Did you forget again, Ante? She was one of the first to die to the EeP.

    Gebohq: Who are you, Mareth? And this Makayla? I've never heard of you, yet you seem a little bit... familiar somehow.

    Mareth: You know of the Highemperor, correct?

    Gebohq and Brittica: Yup.

    They look at each other.

    Gebohq and Brittica: You do?!

    Gebohq: Yeah, but he's called Al Ciao now. Not Highemperor.

    Mareth: Oh? Well, back then at least, he was quite literally an Author Insert - Highemp the Writer projected his consciousness into the character, giving him power undreamed of. But when his reign was thrown down and the Writer abandoned his character, he couldn't resist inserting himself back into the story again. However, no other character he could create was deemed a vessel worthy enough for him.

    Brittica: More likely, no other character was a vessel big enough for his massive ego.

    Gebohq: Oh, you really DO know him!

    Mareth: Indeed. Three fragments of his personality were put into three different Characters. Old Man Charlie was one, the last ember of a dream that refused to die, caked in layers of cynicism and bitterness. He clung to the shade of the child Iriana, while professing to hate her.

    Gebohq: Iriana? Al's kid?

    Kokoro: This is an alternate universe, I presume that whoever this Iriana is, it is not the one you know.

    Gebohq: Right.

    Mareth: Yes. Iriana gave her father self-worth. In that sense, she was more a tool, a crutch for his ego, than a true personality, and she suffered for it.

    Another shadow flits across her face. Geb supposes that, as an empath, Mareth would have felt this Iriana's pain.

    Mareth: She is gone now as well. Another soul consumed by the EeP. And Old Man Charlie died on Page 1.

    Brittica: But you mentioned two other fragments?

    Mareth: One was Makayla, a bright and shining soul, Highemp the Writer's--

    Gebohq: You mean Al Ciao the Writer's.

    Shattered Antestarr: Hush! This is my favorite part.

    Mareth: --Highemp the Writer's fantasy of happiness, one that he felt was unattainable. Of course, such a fragile thing couldn't last long against the cold harsh reality of the world, and, as I said, she was one of the very first to be zombified.

    Kokoro: The third fragment was you.

    Geb and Brittica look at Kokoro in astonishment, but Mareth nods.

    Mareth: Astute. Yes, Highemp the Writer's capacity for compassion and empathy manifested itself in me.

    Brittica: Look, this is all very well and dandy, but we DO have more pressing issues.

    Shattered Antestarr: Not more pressing than this! It had to be told!

    Brittica: Why?

    Shattered Ante looks genuinely shocked at Brittica's question.

    Shattered Antestarr: All stories should be told! Also, this neatly ties up dangling plotlines from Page 1.

    Brittica: Right....

    Kokoro: This realm must have an interesting calendar, to name its years or seasons 'pages'.

    Gebohq: Too much to explain right now. So Mareth, can you lead us into the Lazarus Pit?

    Mareth: I can, but...you have to promise me one thing.

    Gebohq: What's that?

    Mareth: I cannot resist the influence of the EeP for too long. I already feel myself slipping into its madness. When that happens again, I want you to end my suffering. I want you to kill me.

    Geb and Shattered Ante look appalled.

    Gebohq: No way!

    Kokoro: I feel your suffering, Mareth. I will set your soul free.

    Mareth seems to sag in relief.

    Mareth: Thank you very much.

    Through the passage ahead of them comes a discordant voice singing off-key. Mareth winces.

    Brittica: What is that?

    Mareth: An EeP zombie, one who in life had the loveliest singing voice you could imagine - Makayla has found us...

  29. #109

    Getting An Edge

    In painful slowness, the NeSferatu, Antestarr, still stalks the trail of Brittica and those with her. The labyrinthine cavern hallways challenge even his supernaturally-heightened skill and instinct, in part because he still has a zombie yak clamping down on his head with its jaw. Frustration sets down hard as he loses the trail, and he slams his fist against the wall, the thud echoing down the caverns.

    Antestarr: "...ow."

    It's then that he hears the sound of sobbing.

    Antestarr: "Crying? I wonder if Geb has fallen into his depression again."

    Silently, Antestarr slinks closer to the sound of sadness. When he approaches, though, he only sees a child-like man wearing cold-weather clothes: pair of jeans, a shirt and sweater, a warm coat, a scarf, a hat, thick socks, heavy shoes, and old gloves. The man cowers in a fetal position, clutching a cloth-wrapped sword against his chest.

    Antestarr: "What's a world leader doing here?"

    The man snaps his attention towards Antestarr, more out of fearful instinct than having actually noticed him. Antestarr remains motionless, waiting to see the man's reaction, and the man in turn peers at Antestarr.

    Man: "Animal-man?"

    For a moment, Antestarr puzzles over what the man said and the apparent look of growing hope on the man's face. Realization hits Antestarr, and he steps out of the shadows and towards the child-like man.

    Antestarr: "Yes, the yak. Please, call me Antestarr, Mr. Aariadon."

    The child-like man, Aariadon, now cries with joy.

    Aariadon: "I found you, I found you! I was afraid, but now I've found you!"

    Antestarr: "Yes... afraid of the Plot, I presume?"

    Aariadon: "Plot? The icky stuff?"

    Antestarr: "Right, the icky stuff."

    Aariadon: "My Dream, she said I had a very important quest. She gave me this."

    The child-like man holds out the cloth-wrapped sword, as if to see it better.

    Aariadon: "It came for her, and she told me to go, and... then Chuck and Ed helped me on my quest, and then they were in trouble, but they also told me to go, and--and I did and I got lost and don't know how to use the phone and--and...."

    The child-like starts sobbing again. Some shred of humanity takes hold of Antestarr, and he places a supportive hand on Aariadon's shoulder.

    Antestarr: "You've been very brave."

    The NeSferatu eyes Aariadon, who is sniffling back to composure, and then the cloth-wrapped sword.

    Antestarr: "Now, how can I help you, sir?"

    Aariadon: "Help? ...oh! I need to give this!"

    He holds out the cloth-wrapped sword to Antestarr, and the NeSferatu casually reaches out to take it. Aariadon jerks it away from him.

    Aariadon: "Careful! The Malorkus... very important."

    More gingerly, Antestarr takes the cloth-wrapped sword from him, then slowly unwraps it. The Malorkus gleams with almost a blinding light.

    Antestarr: "This thing is huge, and bad-ass..."

    As his eyes adjust, Antestarr can see ornate details worthy of the legendary Exclaibur. The hilt, subtly encrusted with precious gems set in a golden metal, hardly even looks worthy to be held by mere mortals. The crossguard itself has been sculpted in the image of two chimeras intertwined in a torus, each with the body of a pig and the head of a bespectacled ork wielding a fork and a spork in each of its claws. The blade itself, large enough to eat most other swords whole, has the words "For the Story" and "For the Plot" etched on either side. Antestarr holds the Malorkus upright, and his thumb, in holding the hilt, presses the donut-torus at the crossguard's center. He nearly drops it as the sword opens like a book, and yet its contents remain empty.

    Antestarr turns his questioning gaze to Aariadon.


    Antestarr: "Should something be in here?"

    Aariadon: "My Dream... she told me that the person this was meant for would complete it."

    Antestarr: "With a sword of their own?"

    Aariadon: "Uh...yes. And no."

    Antestarr: "What's that mean?"

    Frustrated anger flushes over Aariadon.

    Aariadon: "Dream was dying when she last talked, so I don't know everything."

    Antestarr: "Oh."

    The NeSferatu examines the blade in his own frustration, then a thought belatedly hits him.

    Antestarr: "You said you had a phone?"

    Aariadon: "Yes. When I found you, I was told we would call Frey and new friends, but now it's just me, and the phone..."

    The child-like man holds up a high-tech walkie-talkie. Antestarr grins, closes up the Malorkus, and starts wrapping it back up.

    Antestarr: "I think I can help make that call and finish this quest."

    The zombie yak bleats, and Antestarr groans.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 07-06-2016 at 01:48 PM.

  30. #110

    Below The Surface

    -------------------------------
    The Pit of Life and Death
    -------------------------------

    The singing continues, yet it does not seem to draw closer.


    Frey: "Why isn't she coming after us?"

    Mareth: "She knows you will come to her... to the Lazerus Pit. It's not too late to turn back, find another way--"

    Brittica: "Like hell I'm going to make this hike any longer than needed! Besides, what's she going to do? Sing us to death?"

    Gebohq: "She could lure us in with singing, like a siren, and then POW! Right into a bottomless pit!"

    Brittica: "Ooo, or start singing a really bad song to make our ears bleed!"

    Gebohq: "Or start singing something copyrighted, and then a bunch of lawyers would mow us down as they try to get to her!"

    Brittica: "What if--"

    Kokoro: "--we should move...no?"

    Brittica: "Uh, right. Put some excitement into this adventure."

    The group moves towards the singing voice. The trek meanders down a rather lengthy corridor.

    Gebohq: "Maybe we can convince her to be on our side."

    Brittica: "Reason with a zombie?"

    Gebohq: "It's a plot zombie, right? It should be hungering for 'reeeea-soooooon' or something."

    Brittica: "Yeah, ok. If you've got a problem with hurting a woman, I can work my charms on her."

    Gebohq: "And if she doesn't swing that way?"

    For a moment, Brittica seems confused, then looks down, apparently having forgotten she's now a woman. She looks ready to retort when Frey's walkie-talkie goes off.

    Aariadon: (over walkie-talkie) "Hello?"

    Excited, Frey responds to the walkie-talkie, while the others pause in place.

    Frey: "Aari! Where are you? Are you OK?"

    Aariadon: "Yes. I... don' t know where I am... but I'm told I'm close to you."

    Frey: "Great! I'm glad the kids are still helping you out."

    Aariadon: "I don't have them..."

    Frey and the others become distressed at the news.

    Aariadon: "...but I have the Malorkus!"

    Brittica: "We need that thing, right?"

    Frey: "Good job, Aari! Be careful, and we'll see you soon, OK?"

    Aariadon: "OK! Bye!"

    The walkie talkie dies, and the singing can be heard again. Morris the Cat grows strangely antsy at the singing.

    Morris the Cat: "I don't like this at all. I'm out of here!"

    Gebohq: "Wait!"

    But it's too late as Morris races an incredible waddling speed back from where they came from. Gebohq looks to give chase when Kokoro holds him steady.

    Kokoro: "Let it go."

    Reluctantly, Gebohq turns to continue down the path with Kokoro, Frey, and Brittica.

    Their trek down ends shortly after as they enter the chamber of the Lazerus Pit. Under Evil G's rule, what had once been a site for an ancient and awe-inspiring spring of blood-ink had been reconstructed into a swimming pool area. Now, however, the pool sits as a bottomless pit, and an unnatural pipe of hardened earth juts from the abyss into the ceiling -- signs of the Ever-ending Plot's handiwork. To either side, there are other corridors, and on the far side, stairs leading upward. In between them, and singing to herself with a lantern in her hand, stands Makalya.


    Brittica: "OK, Geb, watch my charms in action."

    As Brittica begins approaching close to Makalya, though, Makalya ignites a blade and brandishes it at Brittica's neck, who jumps backwards.

    Brittica: "Right, time to axe her!"

    Gebohq: "Ask her what?"

    Brittica deftly swings her axe at Makalya. Without even making eye contact, Makalya sidesteps, and with her own blade, slices the axe's edges, making it resemble an odd sword now of its own. With a flick of her sword hand, Makalya telekinetically sends Brittica flying back against the wall. Gebohq and Frey turn to Brittica.

    Brittica: "Ow...maybe I should have tried offering tea first..."

    Just as Frey mouths to say something, her jaw hangs open. The now bloodied hand of Mareth bursts through Frey's chest. Before Frey or anyone else can react further, Kokoro swings her ruhand cleanly through Mareth's neck and the ethereal string that connects to her own lantern, leaving Mareth lifeless and headless. Frey falls over wordless right after. Kokoro positions herself between Makalya and the two heroes.

    Kokoro: "I'll hold her off."

    Gebohq: "But--"

    Kokoro: "GO!"

    Makayla giggles in a melodic fashion.

    Makalya: "You think any of you can leave?"

    However, as Makayla attempts to rush in to attack Gebohq and Brittica, Kokoro shields them with a block of her ruhand. Makayla's frustration lights on fire, and the two immediately duel with their swords and magicks. Gebohq leans down to shoulder Brittica, and the two shuffle towards and up the stairs.

    Brittica: "Why couldn't this place have a lift?"

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Back in corridors past, Antestarr and Aariadon stop as Morris the Cat scuttles dowards them.

    Antestarr: "Morris?"

    Morris the Cat: "Don't stop me when I'm hungry!"

    An idea strikes Antestarr.

    Antestarr: "...I have a tasty yak."

    He points to the undead yak chewing on his head.

    Antestarr: "Extra rare, just as the chef suggests."

    Morris the Cat: "Oooo, a meat I haven't tried!"

    In a sickingly cartoon fashion, Morris the Cat tears the undead yak off and swallows it whole.

    Antestarr: "Hey, as a favor, can you take this guy back with you?"

    Aariadon: "But the Malorkus!"

    Antestarr: "I'll deliver it for you, friend. It's not safe up ahead. You should go with the cat. He's, uh, good luck."

    Morris the Cat: "You're goddamn right I am! Come on, dude -- you can pay for my next meal."

    Aariadon: "Kitty!"

    Morris the Cat: "Yeah, that's right, I'm a cat! Not a fat hampster! I like this guy already."

    After handing Antestarr the Malorkus, Aariadon and Morris the Cat head back the way Morris had been going. After strapping the Malorkus on his back, Antestarr heads to the Lazurus Pit...

    ...when he arrives, he sees only the bodies of two young and dead women, one with a hole through her torso, and the other with its head chopped off. He notes the stairs, and after some sniffing, he continues to follow his trail...

    -------------------------------
    A Shattered Reflection
    -------------------------------

    ...and as Antestarr approaches the stairs, he sees someone sitting and stops.

    Antestarr: "Move."

    The someone tilts their head forward, revealing themself as Shattered Antestarr.

    Shattered Antestarr: "How odd that a fallen monster should tell me to do such a thing. I am always moving, because I am always breathing. It'd be very hard to breath without movi--"

    Antestarr: "I don't have time for this."

    When Antestarr attempts to walk around Shattered Antestarr, though, Shattered Antestarr simply leans to block his path, seemingly unaware of his obstruction. Antestarr attempts to go the other way, only to be blocked again. In frustration, Antestarr attempts to move around faster and faster, even into NeSferatu speeds and once even turning into a bat, but at every opportunity, Shattered Antestarr moves in his way. Antestarr grits his teeth, then collects himself in a new approach.

    Antestarr: "I have a gift to give to some friends of ours who passed this way."

    Shattered Antestarr: "We have no friends."

    For a moment, the words seem to hurt Antestarr.

    Shattered Antestarr: "I did help some hallucinations of mine by, though. I'm afraid I won't be hallucinating them much longer."

    Antestarr: "Crazy just like Geb's version...You don't have to stop thinking about your imaginary friends. I only need to give them a gift."

    Shattered Antestarr: "Oh! I'll give it to them for you. After all, they're my hallucinations, and even a fallen monster needn't do more than they have to."

    Clenching his fist, Antestarr does everything he can not to punch his shattered counterpart in the face.

    Antestarr: "I don't mind at all. Now let. Me. Pass."

    Shattered Antestarr: "I think you're mistaken. I'm not a teacher, and I'm not grading you. Do you mean to go to a school?"

    Anger overwhelms Antestarr, and he brandishes the Malorkus. Shattered Antestarr cocks his head curiously.

    Antestarr: "I don't wish to shed any more blood than I have to, but this 'monster' will do what's needed to cut free from the Writers' reigns."

    Shattered Antestarr: "Stories need to be told."

    Antestarr: "By our own actions, not those dictated by Writers! Not..."

    Realization sits in as Antestarr sees his shattered counterpart in a new light. No longer is Shattered Antestarr wearing the face of a senile, crazed man, but of a wizened survivor with faculties sharpened by centuries of experience. The act of obliviousness drops, and in its place, a sober awareness framing a shattered reflection of an impossible wish.

    Shattered Antestarr: "Stories need to be told by Writers, and Writers need to tell our stories. They tell our stories, but they do not dictate them. Without Writers, though, our stories will certainly end as plots dictate, for writers only stop telling a story when they succumb to the terminal demands of plot. If you go on, you'll end all your hopes and dreams!"

    The moment hangs as Shattered Antestarr stares with pleading eyes into the NeSferatu's own cold, steel gaze, and that steel gaze softens, threatening to break and burst that which it had held back like a dam. If Shattered Antestarr's eyes could reach out into a hug at this time, they would, but instead, they widen to match the sickening sound of metal in flesh.

    Antestarr: "My hopes and dreams shattered long ago."

    He pulls the Malorkus from Shattered Antestarr's gut, and Shattered Antestarr falls forward and limp to his side. Antestarr wipes the blood off the blade with the cloth that had wrapped it, then tosses the cloth almost carelessly over the dead body. Antestarr straps the Malorkus onto his back, then starts the ascent up the stairs.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-24-2017 at 12:42 PM.

  31. #111

    Approaching the Source

    Brittica: "First the stairs just took us to a hub of hallways, and now that we went down one with ANOTHER set of stairs, we're just going up with no end in sight! You had to have us pick the long one, didn't you?"

    Gebohq: "They were all identical hallways! Who's to say we didn't pick the shortest one?"

    Brittica: "I say. Because I know these things. And I know that you know how to pick the bad ones."

    Gebohq: "So you're complaining about a lot of nothing?"

    Brittica: "You're goddamn right I am! I wanted adventure, not a bunch of walking."

    Gebohq: "We probably should have rallied to parody something other than Lord of the Rings then."

    Brittica: "What?"

    Gebohq: "Nevermind. I think I see some light up ahead."

    Brittica: "It better not be another caved-in doorway. We must have been really far underground."

    Gebohq: "Actually..."

    As the two climb the flight of stairs, they can see the "light" for what it is -- open air. The stairs, walls, and ceiling end rather abruptly, having apparently been destroyed in some fashion. As the two look out, they can see now that they are on the highest part of what was left of one of the spires which surrounded what was once the Palace of Power. Now, however, only the barest of a skeleton remains of the once grand establishment hanging as a canopy over a craterous void. Apart from some of the other perimeter spires, the two look up to see what was left of the center tower, with the stark spotlight shining from its top. At this time, its attention focuses on a massive battle at the Black Gate, the more apparent entry into what was once the palace grounds, and the glow of lightsabers seem to barely shine brighter than the embers of the possessed surrounding them. All across the former megacity, the two can see the monstrous stickerbrush of the tumorous masses of Plot reeking of terminal terrors and rumbling with nightmarish nothingness. Patches within and above it also show portals to other story-worlds, from the highest fantasy lands to the widest of worlds open to scientific advancement to the deepest depths of horror to rural realms of romance to every other comedic and tragic tale in between, and all falling victim to the tendrils of Plot.

    Brittica: "Great, the view I always wanted to see. Ugh."

    Gebohq: "Look down there."

    He points to the center of the crater of what was once the Palace of Power. The two make out what appears to be a pedestal with two dark streams of Plot flowing from it in opposite directions.

    Gebohq: "I think that's our source."

    The two keep looking down. Far down.

    Brittica: "We have to go all the way back DOWN?!"

    Gebohq: "Unless you got any better ideas."

    Brittica: "Yeah, how about the lift over there?"

    She gestures towards what seems to be a still-operational elevator-lift nearby the center chamber connected to the stairs.

    Gebohq: "Better a quick death by plummeting than tripping down the stairs."

    The two walk up to the lift doors and press the down button. A few silent moments pass before DING! the doors open. The two cautiously step inside and press the button for the ground floor.

    Elevator music plays as they descend.

    DING!

    Brittica and Gebohq step out onto the craterous ground. Surrounding the massive crater are the monstrous tentacles cropping up from the stickerbrush wilderness, swaying and searching for story to strangle. The two shudder, and march towards the center of the crater, following alongside one of the dark Plot streams flowing from it into the stickerbrush wilderness. Halfway down to the center, the two notice what appears to be a barred portal within the stream, and smaller tendrils from stream seems to be methodically and patiently probing it for an opening, even though it seems clear that the stream has already penetrated through the barred portal's cracks.


    Brittica: "I wonder what that one goes to."

    Gebohq: "The NeS. I can sense it."

    Brittica: "You mean back home?"

    Gebohq nods. Brittica looks to quip a rebuttal, but seems not to have the heart to do so.

    Brittica: "Let's just get this over with already, yeah?"

    Pulling their eyes away from the barred portal, the two follow the stream once more until they reach its source. Up close, the pedestal stands as tall as the two of them and gives off an Arthurian vibe, as if it's asking for a blade to plunge into its top and seat forever.

    Brittica: "So it looks like we just plug it up?"

    Gebohq: "Seems so."

    Brittica: "Well, you have a fancy sword, right?"

    At the prompt, Gebohq pulls out the NeSword from his economy-sized pockets.

    Gebohq: "Yes I do, and I think it'd make a good plug."

    Brittica: "I want to do it! Gimme!"

    Gebohq: "Uh...ok."

    He hands the NeSword to Brittica. Eagerly, she steps up onto the pedestal, holds the blade up high with both hands, and slowly lowers it down into the hole on top.

    Brittica: "Guess I need to provide my own epic singing from the heavens."

    She does just that as she lowers the blade in slow motion, and Gebohq joins with "dum dum dum" of a bass drum. The blade slides into the hole...

    ...a little too well, as there seems to still be a lot of room...

    ...Brittica awkwardly stops as the handle sinks into the pedestal.


    Brittica: "Uh, should I let it go?"

    Gebohq: "Please don't do that."

    Brittica: "Maybe if I drop it, it'll hit its core at the bottom or something."

    Gebohq: "I'd rather you not--"

    Brittica: "I'm going to drop it."

    Before Gebohq can object, Brittica drops the blade. The two wait in anticipation for something to happen. More awkward minutes pass by, with only continued nothingness following.

    Brittica: "Uh... maybe I shouldn't have done that."

    Gebohq: "Yeah, you think?"

    Brittica: "Oh! Wasn't there something about us getting something we needed from that Aari-guy? I bet we needed that to put down the hole."

    Gebohq: "Maybe I can shove you down the hole!"

    Brittica: "Hey now, let's not be rash! Uh...who's that behind you?"

    Gebohq: "Do you think I'm that dumb?"

    Brittica: "Yes, and that's beside the point -- there's someone coming up behind you!"

    Gebohq: "And who might that be?"

    Antestarr: "Me."

    Gebohq whips around to see the NeSferatu suddenly behind him, brandishing the Malorkus.

    Antestarr: "I'd rather not have to kill you a second time."

    Gebohq: "What?"

    With blinding speed, Antestarr stabs the Malorkus into Gebohq's foot, sending Gebohq reeling in agony. With Gebohq currently incapacitated, Antestarr stalks towards Brittica.

    Antestarr: "You and I still have something to finish..."

  32. #112
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    Geb reels in pain, pinned in place by his foot, as he watches Antestarr stalk towards Brittica like a predatory cat. Time slows then, shadows flickering at the periphery of his vision, and the rest of the world seems very far away, and dreamlike. A spectre, tall and hooded in a cloak the color of the night sky, approaches him. Its face cannot be seen within the blackness of the hood.

    Geb: What's happening?

    Morthrandur: A moment that must happen.

    Geb: Wait, I know you - you're the Sepulchral Phantom!

    Morthrandur: You say you know me, and yet you do not know me...yet you know me better than you could expect.

    Geb: That sounds like a riddle. I'm not very good at riddles...I don't suppose the answer is 42?

    Morthrandur: Hyperdimensional space mice notwithstanding, it is not.

    Geb: Drat. Why are you here then? Why NOW?

    Morthrandur: A man has died. One with whom you were acquainted.

    Geb: Who?! I've lost too many friends already, and I'm afraid I'm going to lose more.

    The phantom does not answer, but proffers a parcel in black fabric, pinned with a note at the top.

    Morthrandur: He left you an inheritance.

    Puzzled, Geb takes it. He looks at the note, which reads in a neat scrawl: 'Perhaps the descendant will accept that which the ancestor would not.' Geb looks up at the spectre, eyebrows raised.

    Geb: I recognize this handwriting. It's the same handwriting from that fake dossier about you. It's Thand's!

    The phantom says nothing.

    Curious, Geb gently opens the black fabric, revealing another layer. The small box is wrapped in brightly colored paper and tied with a bow. There are two cards taped to it, and Geb gingerly removes the first card, which is yellowed with age. It reads: 'To my dearest husband, for his 33rd birthday. I am so sorry, my love, that this did not arrive in time, and so I keep it for Christmastime instead. Love, Catherine, 1888. Brow crinkled, Geb then reads the second card, which is just as yellow, but also stained with wetness. 'My love, I cannot bear to give this to you now, not after our... tragedy. Maybe in a time when this is behind us, and we are happier, this gift will lift our spirits, but now...now it is only a reminder of our pain. Love always, Catherine, 1888.'

    Geb looks up at the phantom, who remains silent and unmoving. After a moment, he begins to unwrap the package, carefully, as though handling something very precious. The box within is an ornately carved wooden case, and he opens it to reveal a golden quill that never needs dipping in ink, for its tip is always flowing with more. He regards it reverently, feeling the age and value of the thing, more than just material worth.

    Geb: Thand is dead, then? Why did he want me to have this?

    He looks up as he asks, but the phantom is gone. The shadows melt from his periphery, and time crashes back down upon him as Antestarr and Brittica square off...

  33. #113

    Antestarr's Angle

    Brittica eyes suspiciously as the NeSferatu, Antestarr, stalks towards him. She even takes a step back as Antestarr draws the Malorkus in front of him.

    Brittica: "What unfinished business, exactly?"

    Antestarr: "To fulfill our aligned purpose. You seek a never-ending story both memorable and adventurous. I seek a never-ending story both free of the Writers and their Plot."

    Antestarr stops at the bottom of the pedestal now, staring up at Brittica.

    Antestarr: "I know what needs to be done, with the tools to do it. And you..."

    He holds up the Malorkus as a gift to Brittica.

    Antestarr: "You have the character to make it possible."

    Brittica darts his gaze between Antestarr and the Malorkus.

    Brittica: "...did you just infer that I was a tool?"

    The NeSferatu stares back in a deadpan expression.

    Antestarr: "We're all tools. Tools of the Writers... but not for long."

    The two turn their attention to Gebohq, as he flumps back to the ground in a failed attempt to approach Antestarr.

    Gebohq: "Britt, don't listen to him!"

    Brittica: "I know -- he just called me a tool! What a tool!"

    Antestarr: "Not that kind of tool you-- don't listen to Geb. He doesn't know what he's talking about."

    Gebohq: "I know now you're on some misguided mission to rid us of the Writers, but you're just going to make things worse. They're bastards, for sure, but they probably need us as much as we do them."

    Antestarr: "Apologist talk, a slave to their words. You tried using the NeSword just a moment ago, yes? A tool from the Writer of Writers himself. And did that work?"

    A beat passes as Brittica considers.

    Brittica: "I suppose not."

    Antestarr: "That's because even the Plot struggles to be free of the Writers, and in its small ways, it has already done so. The NeSword is no longer its sole bane. No mere artifact is, in fact. Only strength of character can imbue enough power to vanquish Plot, and only strength of character can overcome the grip of the Writers over our lives. I have been given the knowledge of the NeS by its late Hand, a Hand not in the pocket of the Writers, and I know now that this Malorkus I hold before you is one half of the key to unlocking your future, Brittica. All of our future, free from Writers and Plot, free to forge our own adventures!"

    Gebohq: "Ante, stop this madness! It's not too late!"

    His pleas, however, seem to grow more distant as Brittica reconsiders Antestarr's words.

    Brittica: "What's the other half of the key? My life?"

    Antestarr: "Not quite. The weapon you hold in your hand."

    She holds up the broken axe, now resembling more a broken blade, in her hand. As she looks at Antestarr once more, he opens the Malorkus up to reveal a chamber within it.

    Antestarr: "If I recall, what you hold in your hand once belonged to Subaru, a woman I consider...close to me. It stands as a testament to our shared histories, our shared purpose and hardships. It stands as your heart and soul, your very being, conquering that which aims to rule us."

    Brittica: "I don't know if I'd go that far..."

    Antestarr: "You may think it's absurd, yet think of your life up until now, and tell me that it hasn't been filled with things far more absurd."

    Once again, Brittica ponders over Antestarr's words. Gebohq, still struggling to stand, lies helpless.

    Gebohq: "Don't do it, Britt!"

    Brittica: "And what would you tell me to do, Geb? Why else would we come all the way through this forsaken place? I can feel it in me, you know. My purpose. My calling to this crazy story."

    As Brittica trails in her sentence, she lays the broken axe inside the Malorkus, and Antestarr closes it, then hoists its handle up for Brittica to take.

    Brittica: " Maybe this isn't what I thought it'd be, but then again..."

    She takes hold of the Malorkus with both hands, its deceptively light weight revealed as she holds it high above her.

    Brittica: "...my life's never ceased to break my expectations."

    Guiding the tip of the Malorkus back down above the pedestal, where the hole from which the Ever-ending Plot still pours forth from, Brittica takes a deep breath.

    Brittica: "Here goes take two!"

    Gebohq: "No!"

    But it's too late, as Brittica plunges the Malorkus down into the hole. Unlike the NeSword, the Malorkus clearly fits perfectly into the hole, and the Ever-ending Plot all around them stops suddenly.

    Brittica: "I think it worked--"

    A dark light beats bright from the blade. Brittica's body locks in place, and her grip uncontrollably tightens. The dark light grows from the blade itself to Brittica's core, then surges from her navel as if through an unseen umbilical cord out and up into the air. A blinding light pierces across the air in a single, blinding,

    CRACK!

    The darkness seems to descend back down, somehow feeling heavier than before, as the once-unseen umbilical cord snip from both the sky and from Brittica, fading away into nothingness.

    Everyone, especially Antestarr, stands around in confusion.


    Antestarr: "I can feel the Writers are gone now, yet something's not right..."

    The very ground rumbles below them, pressure building from below the pedestal itself. Now in control of her own body again, Brittica lets go of the Malorkus.

    Brittica: "What's going on?"

    Gebohq: "GET DOWN!"

    Listening to Gebohq, Brittica leaps off from the pedestal towards him and Antestarr. As she jumps, the Malorkus suddenly flies from the pedestal like a cork, sending the blade crashing several feet even farther from the three of them and snapping it open, spilling the broken axe from within it. The pus-filled mass of blood and ink known as the Ever-ending Plot erupts with renewed strength from the pedestal, flowing from either side up the cratered ground surrounding the pedestal and into the growths surrounding the skeletal ruins of the Palace of Power they stand within.

    The NeSferatu, in a very human manner, stumbles to the Malorkus.


    Antestarr: "I don't understand. The Writers are gone, but the Plot still lives..."

    He looks over at a door in the ground that one of the rivers of EeP ran around, and see now that the tendrils poised to strike it before now bring down their power upon it, sundering it to pieces. Antestarr watches in horror as the Ever-ending Plot pours forth into the portal.

    Antestarr: "What have I done..."
    Last edited by Gebohq; 03-27-2017 at 04:28 PM.

  34. #114

    Setting the Stage

    Chapter 3 - Along With The Consequence

    Antestarr stares on as the cancerous mass of the Ever-ending Plot floods forth into the portal propped off the ground. He turns his attention to Brittica and Gebohq, each helping the other stand. Horror weighs down on Antestarr's face as he looks at the two that he murdered in his single-minded quest, and particularly at Gebohq's leg he injured just a moment ago. Antestarr's mouth flaps in an attempt to speak.


    Antestarr: "I... I..."

    Brittica: "Aie-yie-yie, yeah. I should have figured you'd just be another crazy person. It's how my life's played out, after all."

    Gebohq starts to open his mouth.

    Brittica: "Don't you dare say 'I told you so' or I'll stab you with that quill in your hand."

    Gebohq closes his mouth.

    Brittica: "This latest adventure in particular has been one flop after another. Maybe I should just try flooding the source-hole with a bunch of decaf--"

    Noises from the other end of the portal interrupt Brittica's train of thought. The three of them snap their attention to it.

    Brittica: "Are those voices?"

    Gebohq: "Can either of you make anything out?"

    Brittica shakes his head while frowning, while Antestarr grits his teeth.

    Antestarr: "Familiar company."

    Something heavy seems to fall on the other end of the portal, and soon after, the flowing force of the Ever-ending Plot thins, parting to allow for someone to come forth, and come forth, someone does.

    The Last True Evil.


    Brittica: "Hey, I know that guy! Or wait, maybe not. I wonder if he's the clone--"

    Gebohq: "TLTE! What are you doing here?"

    Just then, Losien also jumps through the portal, followed shortly by the last ruler of NeShattered and Gebohq's doppleganger, Evil G. The diseased masses of the Ever-ending Plot once again pour forth into the portal, blocking its use by others wishing to get through.

    Evil G: "This is your end, TLTE!"

    To accentuate his statement, a lightning bolt snaps through the air. Thunder growls as The Last True Evil begins to back away from the other five approaching him.

    Brittica: "Geb, do you have a twin you didn't tell me about?"

    Gebohq: "Oh yeah, that's my sister, Losien."

    Losien: "Hi."

    Brittica: "I meant the guy that came through the portal."

    Gebohq: "The Last True Evil? He's the guy you saw the memory of earlier with me. He calls me "Bro" in Russian but we're not actually related--"

    Brittica: "The other guy, you dolt!"

    Gebohq: "Oh, him..."

    Evil G: "I'm the Geb from this place."

    Brittica: "Are you as dumb as this one is?"

    Evil G: "Well, I'm pretty stupid for coming back to this hellhole I call home on a suicide mission, but he's so stupid, he thinks everyone will live through this!"

    Gebohq: "Everyone except you. You can die."

    Antestarr: "Not now, people. We have a bigger fish to fry."

    High dead above them, on the remains of the tallest tower, the giant searchlight swings from its gaze at the gates and down directly at the cratered ground the cast of characters stand upon, illuminating the scene in a stark, theatrical glow. The colossal tentacles of the Ever-ending Plot, thoes surrounding the crater, lean over in ravenous anticipation of the climactic closure. Even as the five close in around The Last True Evil, a dread of their own fate grows heavy. The Last True Evil lowers his hands to his belt.

    The Last True Evil: "Oh no, by all means, I think this is exactly the time."

    Antestarr: "STOP HIM!"

    But it's too late, as before the group even takes their first step, The Last True Evil seems to disappear. An instant later, the group spins around when they hear The Last True Evil by the pedestal.

    The Last True Evil: "Thanks for giving me this invention of yours, Antestarr. With the speed of a Writer on my side, I was even able to acquire a fitting seat for the scenes to come."

    To emphasis his point, The Last True Evil spreads his arms out to display not only Antestarr's Hyper-Time Modulator on his belt, but the throne the ex-Soviet Spy now sits in as well. The throne itself is clearly a ruined remanent of the old palace throne that somehow survived the devestation. Significant health seems to have drained from The Last True Evil's face as well, though it only seems to add to the fire that fuels his dark drive.

    The Last True Evil: "Now, please indulge me, my friends, as I ask a simple question: what story you seek to leave upon the world?"

    The five cannot help but look at each other in distrust, unconsciously seeped in the very essence of their ends. Only Losien holds any focus on The Last True Evil.

    The Last True Evil: "A story free from Writers? Or, should I say, free from that which is written and forever defining our lives?"

    The NeSferatu Antestarr, filled with regret, eyes Brittica, a character built upon a legend written over the 'ages. A monstrous tentacle grows behind The Last True Evil.

    The Last True Evil: "Or a story free to define your life forever, free from slavers and psychopaths wishing to end it. Free, perhaps, from such characters?"

    Brittica, the Legend throughout NeS History, narrows her eyes at the NeSferatu who meddled in her life of adventure like so many others. Another tentacle grows from behind The Last True Evil.

    Losien: "Don't listen to him!"

    The words seem to fall on deaf ears.

    The Last True Evil: "What about a story that simply never ends? Living to justify the means so that those "ends" never -- ever? -- have to come. To act upon unforgivable evils for the sake of such a story?"

    Evil G, once the hated heir of this Shattered Realm, stares down at his counterpart, who gave up his duty for his own true love. Once more, another tentacle rises behind The Last True Evil.

    The Last True Evil: "How about a story where one can accept their end so that others may begin? To put their lives on the line so that the damned may find redemption, to pass the torch and risk that never-ending fire going out? Would such a story have room for those who might hold on too tight?"

    Gebohq, once the Main Character of the NeS, glares at his evil half, a reminder of everything he both desires and despises. Another tentacle rises from behind The Last True Evil.

    The Last True Evil: "Perhaps one would want their story to be all these things..."

    He looks down, as another tentacle rises behind him. Then, he looks at Losien.

    The Last True Evil: "...or none of those things."

    A final tentacle rises. As The Last True Evil leans back, the tentacles stretch back, plunging and tying themselves into the running currents of Plot flowing from the source itself. In turn, the Ever-ending Plot all around seems to pull back to his will.

    The Last True Evil: "Regardless, a story always needs a strong character to lead for the tale to follow, to have the vision to see things through...and of course, to stand true in the struggle against that."

    Losien watches helplessly as the other four begin to turn on each other with terminal intent, and her own mind clouds with thoughts of putting an end not to the Ever-ending Plot, but to The Last True Evil, her once closest lover. Even The Last True Evil speaks as if not entirely of his own will.

    The Last True Evil: "The Ever-ending Plot would like nothing more than to consume every last one of us, with myself as its main course. And yet, like a mindless beast, it can't help but fall to its nature, one that I've now been able to harness. For I hear its wailing call, asking more for its ever-ending appetite, and I've answered. Watch as they play out their own ends. Stand true as they fall for ever more. That is the story I will leave upon the world..."

    A thin smile spreads across The Last True Evil's face.

    The Last True Evil: "... the story of The Last True Evil."
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-24-2017 at 03:18 PM.

  35. #115

    Losien against The Last True Evil

    Even as Antestarr turns against Brittica, and Gebohq against his Shattered counterpart, Losien finds her focus no longer in her control, driving her will ever more fiercely against her former lover, the ex-Soviet spy and co-conspirator of the Never-ending Story's downfall, The Last True Evil. In turn, his focus draws to Losien almost against his own control, struggling to hold back the primal power of cause and effect wrestling to steer his own will.

    Lightning cracks the air, casting a silhouette over the monstrous masses of the Ever-ending Plot entangling with the dark tentacles behind The Last True Evil.


    The Last True Evil: "You should know that the countless souls of this Shattered realm bound by Plot march towards us. They would be here now, except it seems your brother and his friend met with fortune and recruited allies to draw their attention away."

    Losien: "Why would it bother to do that when--"

    The Last True Evil: "--this Ever-ending Plot acts on instinct, not intelligence. Best we not distract it, da?"

    She narrows her eyes at The Last True Evil. Even in its clearly ruined state, the ancient throne that he sits upon imbues him with vigor only possible from the Plot tapping into its history - a history, like its bearer's former Potential, rising once again from the ashes. A history of power once used by Evil G, the Highemperor before him, and other great and terrible men before him... power to bring death and pain, over and over, for ever and ever. This, Losien could see within The Last True Evil now more clearly than ever before.

    Brandishing the sentient blade once belonging to a self-styled murderer, Losien pivots the point towards The Last True Evil, as if a needle magnetically drawn to the planet's pole. She speaks not entirely with her own words.


    Losien: "You need to end... to be killed."

    The Last True Evil laughs uncontrollably for a moment before snapping back to his sober self.

    The Last True Evil: "You've been a teacher of children for most of your life, while I've been a master soldier and a spy for twice that time. I hold the whole of the Plot on my leash, while you have a failing Story behind you..."

    As The Last True Evil speaks, Losien realizes just how small and silly her stance stands against his, and her confidence wavers. Yet she feels the Potential within her, and remembers her training to wield the Story. Her confidence returns, all the stronger.

    Losien: "You're right... it does seem unfair to you."

    A smile cracks across The Last True Evil's face.

    The Last True Evil: "You know me well, моя любовь. You are no longer the damsel in distress I saved from Michael across the vast gulf of outer space, and you might yet wield the Ultimate Convention against me."

    His praise manages to shake Losien's confidence more than his insults ever could. She grits her teeth and grips her sword to remind herself of her resolve.

    The Last True Evil: "Yet you should also know that to strike me down is to strike down the Never-ending Story itself. If you could kill me, I would only rise once more from the ashes, fueling the Ever-ending Plot's cycle of painful life and death. There would be no more story, only endless retaliation, an eye for an eye for an eye."

    She mulls his words over, struggling to decide inside her mind the right thing to do. Plot pulls some strings, though, and she looks inside her heart. She sees the faith in herself he once instilled in her, the hope of a worthwhile life she once saw by being together, the love she once had for him, all now torn away when The Last True Evil went behind her back. Losien turns her gaze back up at The Last True Evil.

    Losien: "I can live with that."

    Her blade thrusting as a lance, Losien charges forth to stab The Last True Evil in the heart, screaming primal hurt at the top of her lungs. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so it's said, and her fury flies with blinding speed, yet one of The Last True Evil's tendrils deflects faster still. This only enrages her more, striking even faster, which in turn tightens the timing of the tendrils' deflections even more aggressively. For his part, The Last True Evil sits still in part-composure, part-concern, as he sees himself trapped by his own tendrils. After a moment of volleying, a tendril parries to smack Losien back, snapping her senses back.

    She draw the tip of the sword, the sword known as Fred Teh Uber Blade, close to her face. Closing her eyes, she whispers in her best seducing voice.


    Losien: "I know we haven't spoken to each other in a while, but I need your help, Fred."

    Fred Teh Uber Blade: "I can't, darling. Things haven't been the same for me since Soriel passed away."

    Losien: "If you help me put an end to this man, my ex..."

    For a moment, she hesitates.

    Losien: "...well, let's just say I'll have a new sheath for you."

    The sword gets longer, Thundercats-style.

    Losien: "...to pull you in and out of..."

    The sword gets longer once more.

    Losien: "...and I'll polish you off."

    Fred Teh Uber Blade now resembles a greatsword, throbbing with energy.

    Fred Teh Uber Blade: "HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

    Seeming to dance with joy in her hand, Fred Teh Uber Blade pirouettes around the first tendril, leads the second tendril to accidentally wrap around a third while slicing a cut across a fourth that happened to be in the way.

    Fred Teh Uber Blade: "See, sunshine, it's just a matter of turning their power against them. Stay loose, with a little feigning here, a little finesse there, all while keep yourself humble, and your ex-lover will be an ex-living person--"

    The blade's banter is interrupted as The Last True Evil parries its final attack with his own officer's saber.

    The Last True Evil: "Time to step up then."

    Which The Last True Evil does as he steps up and away from his throne. The dark tendrils float from his back as a massive, tattered cape would. As The Last True Evil takes the offensive with his swordplay, the tendrils take to whipping around to attack Losien from the sides. It seems as if favorable winds stir Losien's own cape to slap the tendrils away.

    Carlotta the Cape: "I hope you won't forget about me, honey."

    Losien: "Uh... of course not. We'll be a regular threesomething-or-other..."

    Fred Teh Uber Blade juts up in the air several times, which happens to slice one of the tendrils apart and put The Last True Evil on the defensive. A dance between Losien and The Last True Evil plays out between their blade and saber, waltzing around each other as the tendrils and cape whip in the wind and of their own accord. The Last True Evil spies an opening with his espionage training, and Losien senses through the story his telegraphed feint to exploit the opening. She pulls, grips, and pushes the narrative so that Evil G, dodging a magical bolt from Gebohq, runs into The Last True Evil, knocking the two down, and in turn, The Last True Evil hurls dirt into Gebohq's eyes, which cause him to run into Losien.

    Gebohq: "Next time, please don't involve us in your fight, Los."

    Evil G: "Yeah, we're trying to murder each other here and you're not helping!"

    Losien: "Sorry!"

    The Last True Evil: "I'll keep that in mind..."

    Their lethal dance picks back up. Description stops as The Last True Evil uses his Hyper-Time Modulator to move at the speed of a writer, and in response, description rushes by as Losien speeds through the story to sidestep his assault. Losien tries to jump the story to the part where she deals the killing blow, and The Last True Evil jumps the gun, drawing his custom "Springfield-Wesson" Model 629 with his free hand and shoots at Losien's side. She stumbles back, drawing upon the story to heal the damage done to herself and the story, while The Last True Evil stumbles back to lean on the ancient throne, holstering his gun and slowly regenerating his own drained health. Time passes as the two recover, but before Losien can finish healing from her wound, The Last True Evil stands back up and slowly approaches her.

    The Last True Evil: "I must confess, you've performed admirably, Losien. I underestimated how quickly you've grown in skill. However, in the end, I have the edge, for I've picked up a little know-how when it comes to the narrative as well. For instance, I know how reckless the woman behind you can be with her power."

    Losien: "What?--"

    As Losien turns behind her, a stream of black tea meant for a killing blow to Antestarr misses its mark and sprays across Losien's side, causing burns across the same side her bullet wound was on. While it happened to do a fair job cauterizing the injury, the new burn damage didn't help, to say the least.

    Losien: "GAAAAAAAH!"

    Brittica: "Uh, oops."

    Distracted by her pain, The Last True Evil goes on the offensive once more. Though Fred Teh Uber Blade still moves deftly on his own in lobbing off tendrils, and Carlotta sweeps the ones that remain all the same, the loss of focus allows The Last True Evil to cut the cape off Losien, then disarm Fred from her grip. Carlotta flutters to the ground, and Fred clanks on top of the cape.

    Fred Teh Uber Blade: "Well, we're boned."

    Carlotta the Cape: "I'm not, if you catch my drift."

    Fred Teh Uber Blade: "I'll make love to you this final night like you've never felt before!"

    Carlotta the Cape: "Yes, take me!"

    Losien stares stunned for a beat at the two objects, vaguely rustling, and moaning in pleasure.

    Strapped for weapons, Losien improvises with her two hairpins, brandishing them as tiny picks at The Last True Evil, stabbing one in his cheek and the other in his sword hand, causing him to reel back and drop his blade. He pulls the pins from himself, seeming more psychologically shocked than anything, before casting them aside.

    Her hair now wild, Losien hurls herself at him in hand-to-hand combat before he could draw his revolver again. While The Last True Evil has military training on his side, Losien has convention on hers. Her Potential leads and trails in shadowy effect as she performs flip-kicks, cartwheels, rolls, and other acrobatic feats as a jazz musician performs with their instrument. Her body moves in cursive, while The Last True Evil responds in bold block letters. Losien does a split, and in a fashion that'd make Johnny Cage proud, punches The Last True Evil where it hurts the most.


    The Last True Evil: "...ow..."

    When Losien nearly jabs her nailed fingers into his throat, though, The Last True Evil hooks a punch into her wounded side, causing her to fall over in pain. Grunting at his own personal hurt, The Last True Evil draws his revolver out once more, ready to shoot Losien, when he notices something to the side.

    The Last True Evil: "...no, I can't have that happen now."

    She watches as he unloads the current rounds in his revolver, and reloads one particularly special bullet back in. He then aims it to whatever had caught his attention, but Losien's focus remained locked on The Last True Evil.

    Click.

    Click.

    BANG!

    She hears a body fall to the ground, and takes the distraction to throw a kick at The Last True Evil's shin. He shifts his leg aside, though, and uses it to kick Losien hard in the wounded side, sending her rolling nearly like a ragdoll. Her rage, now barren of fervor to back it up, manifests now only in a death stare towards The Last True Evil.

    Making each step with singular purpose, The Last True Evil stands over Losien once more, a cold front damning -- or damming? -- in his eyes.


    The Last True Evil: "We'll settle our lovers' quarrel later, da? Destiny demands my attention elsewhere now."

    As he turns his back to her, she struggles to stand once more and fight, yet the pain is too much for her to bear, and so she lies still, tears running down her face as The Last True Evil faces his new opposition...
    Last edited by Gebohq; 05-20-2017 at 09:05 PM.

  36. #116
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325

    Faces of the Dead

    The sky is endless black. Portals flicker open, belching forth black ink. Tiny colored lights wink in the distance, frantically holding back a dark tide that steadily grows into a tsunami.

    In the center of it all, the crater of the ruined Palace of Power, six people are illuminated by the diabolic spotlight glaring from the top of the spire next to them. The six are facing off in three pairs.

    Antestarr feels hollowed out inside. Throwing off the shackles of the b*stard Writers was supposed to fix everything, to usher in a glorious paradise. Instead, it got worse. The images of all those he has slain in his single-minded goal float up before him, their dead eyes accusing and angry.

    But one such dead face is not so fleeting, and is eying with a steely glare. Brittica X had been slain by Ante as well, but is back now, in a new body - yet he/she was still another victim in his path to anarchic anti-Writer freedom. Rage and bitterness and helplessness well up in Ante's soul, but he snarls, baring his fangs. He will
    not go quietly into the all-devouring night!

    Antestarr: I should have known better than to make a tool of out of someone the Writers lavished so much on.

    Brittica's eyes narrow. Antestarr's first encounter with her resulted in her death. Then they allied out of convenience, only for Ante's plan to result in unstoppable hell.

    Brittica: Me? This is your fault. This was your plan. I should have killed you back in the Sahara when I had the chance!

    Antestarr: You'll never have that chance now!

    The NeSferatu leaps forward, nails lengthening into talons. Brittica ducks to the side, eons of strange life having sharpened his survival instinct into the finest blade. No sooner does Ante land than he whips his body around, ready to attack again.

    Brittica: No so fast, bloodsucker.

    Her palms spat out streams of soporific tea at her foe. Ante flinches reflexively, then blinks when no harm happens.

    Antestarr: You little snot. You can't put a vampire to sleep!

    He charges again, faster than the eye can follow, yet Brittica manages to duck to the side again.

    Brittica: No, but now you're just the tiniest bit slower.

    She blasts a scalding jet of black tea at the vampire now. It is Ante's turn to dodge.

    Antestarr: Not that slow.

    The spray strikes Losien instead, who is the middle of her duel with TLTE.

    Losien: GAAAAAAAH!

    Brittica: Uh, oops.

    Antestarr: Last mistake you'll ever make.

    He is about to swipe at Brittica with his deadly claws, but instead reflexively winces at his inadvertent rip-off of Star Wars. Then he realizes that all the copyright lawyers of the Shattered World are dead. This gives Brittica time to fire another jet of boiling tea. Ante still dodges it, and the two play a deadly game of cat and mouse, attacking and feinting and ducking, moving all around the battlefield.

    Finally, Ante gets in close and knocks aside Brittica's hands, so that her spray of tea goes off into a random direction. Brittica stumbles back to the ground, and the vampire crouches over her, grinning in savage triumph.


    Antestarr: I have you now.

    He winces again at his second inadvertent Star Wars ripoff.

    Brittica: Actually, I have you right where I want you.

    Her hand grasps for Subaru's axe on the ground next to her, which she'd been maneuvering to throughout the whole of the fight with Ante. She swings it up with all her might--

    Ante catches her wrist in his hand easily, chuckling menacingly.


    Antestarr: Is that the best you can--

    His words are cut off as Brittica plants the palm of her other hand directly on his mouth, and sprays a gout of burning-hot tea directly into his throat. Ante's brain is liquefied almost instantly.

    Brittica: Wow. That was...gruesome.

    She pushes the corpse off her with disgust, and wearily stumbles to her feet...

  37. #117

    The Former Faces of Their Stories

    As their sister faces off against their once-and-future brother-in-law, and their great ancestor faces off against one of their closest friends, the former Main Characters of their respective stories face off against each other, in a way both predictable and precise, that only Plot could craft.

    Gebohq stands, straining to filter the pain from his thoughts. Pain of his wounded leg, the same-yet-not leg wounded from his last time in this shattered realm, a wound that will likely linger long after it's healed. Pain of his dead Potential, its presence haunting his fate with now present impossibilities long after it passed away. Pain of knowing that he will never reach his peak as a hero or even run away from his problems like he did before.

    Problems like his Shattered counterpart, who can easily outmaneuver him and knows it. Evil G stands, revelling in his guilty pleasure of villainy. Pleasure in acting as he wants while for the sake of the story, where he can have his cake and eat it too. Pleasure of his dead dimension setting the stage for what's certainly to be a poetically pyrrhic victory, its presence assuring that his position is one of power. Pleasure in knowing that none of this matters, because Plot has written the end of them all.

    Lightning cracks in the sky as Evil G holds his dark blade high against his opponent. In the flash, the form of the Sepulchral Phantom, Morthrandur, witnesses their climactic confrontation in silence, unseen by any.


    Evil G: "I'd say it was nice knowing you, goody-Geb, but that would be a lie. Any last words?"

    Gebohq: "No swords."

    Evil G: "No words? Then on with the -- gah!"

    The magic quill continues to surreptitiously move in Gebohq's hand as Evil G's own blade breaks down into nothingness in his own hands. Instinctually, Evil G drops the blade, only for it to disappear before it hits the ground.

    Gebohq and Evil G fight now with no swords.


    Evil G: "Well aren't you just annoyingly clever."

    The two start to circle each other, attempting to be the first to out-maneuver the other. A lot of double, triple, and recursive guessing goes through each other's thoughts, considering correctly that their opponent likely anticipates their moves.

    Evil G: "What deus ex machina handed you that quill, hmm?"

    Gebohq: "Someone close to us."

    Evil G: "What, you mean like that woman you were with or something? Or Los? I don't see Ante as the sort who'd do that sort of thing--"

    Gebohq: "No, I mean-- you know what? Nevermind. It doesn't matter."

    Evil G: "You got that right!"

    With furious wiggling of his fingers, Evil G appears to be conjuring a spell, or typing on an invisible keyboard in front of him, while Gebohq pens more words in the air to weave magic with words. Evil G seems to draw hellish fire from the earth, condensing it into a bolt under his hands, before he flings it as a flare towards Gebohq, instantly frying his entire body to ashes. Gebohq steps behind where he had been, leaving a persuasive projection of himself in his place with his magic quill, continuing to limn the illusion that Evil G successfully summons his own magic to its ends.

    When the illusion subsides, Evil G blinks in confusion. He then wipes out the script.


    Evil G: "You dirty rat -- changing the script is MY shtick! How underhanded of you. I'd be proud of you if I hadn't been your victim."

    Gebohq: "My hand was forced. Pulled away from my principles... so that your evil ends here..."

    Evil G: "Oh stop being so melodramatic about it! This is a fight to the death here, where the only principle that matters is staying alive. So get a grip on reality and--"

    Breathing suddenly becomes difficult for Evil G as Gebohq summons a rock pillar of an arm out of the ground, its hand grasping firm around Evil G's neck. With one hand, Evil G attempts to pull the stone hand away in vain, while the other appears to flail. The wind is taken out of Evil G's breath, and he dies picks up suddenly, knocking Gebohq off his feet and scratching out whatever his quill had been writing. The rock arm disintegrates, and Evil G gasps for air.

    Evil G: "OK, no more giving advice from me."

    Gebohq: "You've pushed me around long enough!"

    He holds his quill high, seeming to wave it about, when lightning strikes down upon it. Instead of electrifying Gebohq on the spot, though, it squeezes into a short spear of a bolt.

    Evil G: "Fuq."

    With events pushed faster than he can counter, Evil G jumps to dodge out of the way of the magic bolt. In the process, though, he rushes right into The Last True Evil, and the both of them go tumbling down. Gebohq stares at the two, trying to come to terms with what he's done, when The Last True Evil throws dirt into his eyes. Disoriented, Gebohq runs right into his sister, Losien, sending the both of them falling. Realization dawns on Gebohq as he stands back up to see his sister.

    Gebohq: "Next time, please don't involve us in your fight, Los."

    Evil G: "Yeah, we're trying to murder each other here and you're not helping!"

    Losien: "Sorry!"

    The Last True Evil: "I'll keep that in mind..."

    Both Gebohqs resume their own confrontation, circling each other once more to determine their next move.

    Evil G: "Look, we'll both die of boredom if we don't do something."

    Gebohq: "Fine by me. We'll just edit each other's attempts to do otherwise anyway."

    Evil G: "Flashy power struggle through magic beams then?"

    Gebohq: "Only if there's also a battle of ideals with our words with it."

    Evil G: "Deal."

    The two start conjuring, with Gebohq writing with his magic quill while Evil G taps his fingers across the metaphorical keyboard. As ethereal threads appear around both of them, they seem to stop writing words and instead draw from existing sources -- their own stories. The magical threads fly towards each other, attempting to weave around each other to tie the other up while advancing onward. The center of their collision begins to grow into a glowing half-gordian knot, half-mystical swirl, threatening to bowl into one or the other of the casters at any time. Once again, thanks to the growing light of the wizard's duel, the Sepulchral Phantom can be made out in the shadows of the inky tendrils surrounding the apocalyptic arena.

    Gebohq: "Look, I don't want to kill you, but I know what you can do, and what's going on through your head, because they're the same things going on through my head. Everyone has good in them, but you chose to cast that aside, and now you're dooming us all with your desire for control. I have to end you, for good, for the ones I love."

    Evil G: "Listen! Yes, we're all doomed here. The Plot wants so-called Good to win this time around, to end things forever and ever, and you know as well as I that the good guys always win. But it won't be a forgiving Good, you know. Nobody is good enough when Plot looms, and as soon as it uses up so called heroes to defeat the villains, the Plot will just cut you right off. Deem your usefulness at an end, and cull you for your own sins. If I win, though, there's just the slightest shred of a chance Plot can be killed here and now. We might not survive, but the story can live on through others. Think of Rachel! Of your child! For the sake of the story!"

    Gebohq: "...and what of Young? Of your Chance?"

    Evil G: "I don't deserve them! And they don't deserve the terrible things I've brought upon them. I once thought I could bend Plot to my will, and now they're paying the price. This is the only way they might be saved, the only means to justify their stories don't end. Let me win as a villain what I've lost as a hero!"

    Gebohq: "I can't let you do that. I see now what I blinded myself to all this time, that which Losien struggled with her whole life. There is good in you after all, because there's good in me. Our courage is as much there as our cowardice. For the real sake of the story, we need to work together!"

    Bewilderment crawls across Evil G's face.

    Evil G: "Do you expect me to believe that? To just stop so that you can kill me?"

    Gebohq: "I had hoped so, because it seems this gift I got runs out of ink after all."

    It's clear that, for the past few moments, Gebohq's magic quill did, in fact, run out of ink, for what the note given to him did not say was that the quill's ink would run out when its user became fated to die. The last of the ethereal threads fly at the convergence, the series of events to unfold having already been woven.

    Evil G: "I change my mind! Undo, undo!"

    Appearing to frantically mash the metaphorical keys, Evil G's own magic seems to unwind out of existence in chunks, but not fast enough. The gordian knot of a mystical swirl hurls towards Gebohq, the nature of their duel tying the two to their places until one defeated the other. Abandoning any sensible thoughts of logic or self-perseverance, Evil G grabs hold of the magical threads from his end. The threads sear his hands severely, yet he manages to hold on as he attempts to pull the gordian knot of a mystical swirl away from Gebohq. Inches away, Evil G manages to swing certain death away from Gebohq, swinging it in the opposite direction and upwards before letting it go. Rocketing like a missile, the culmination of their powers knocking out a chunk of one of the remaining towers of the Palace of Power as it flies off into the distance, its final destination left unseen.

    Despite not being directly hit by the results of their duel, the sheer shockwave left by its change in course knocked Gebohq down to the ground. Evil G rushes over to him.


    Evil G: "Please don't be dead, please don't be dead..."

    After a pregnant pause, Gebohq's eyes flutter open.

    Gebohq: "I didn't know you cared so much for me."

    Evil G: "Shut up! We got work to do, right?"

    Gebohq: "I did say that, didn't I. Is it too late to change my mind?"

    The two reach out for each other's hands so that Evil G can help Gebohq stand up. Behind Evil G's back, his other hand seems to be conjuring something ominous, needle-thin tendrils reaching from the ground towards his hand. With Evil G's help, Gebohq stands back up and a bit to Evil G's side.

    Click.

    Click.


    Evil G: "Is that clicking?"

    BANG!

    Evil G's eyes widen, and the two of them look to see red spreading square across Evil G's chest. He draws the hand he had behind his back up in front of him to see himself holding an improvised shank. Evil G stares back at Gebohq.


    Evil G: "Seems I'm a real bad guy after all. I'm not feeling well, so I'm just going to lie down for a bit."

    With little grace, Evil G slumps to the ground. Gebohq narrows his eyes towards the smoking gun of The Last True Evil, and towards the fallen bodies of Antestarr and Losien, the latter clearly still alive. Morthrandur watches on from the shadows.

    The End looms.

  38. #118
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    The number of X cultists and Aeon Knights has been steadily dwindling, but now that the great skylight has turned away from them, the pressure has let up. Somewhat. There are still hordes of zombies throwing themselves at our intrepid heroes.

    Kloo Celli: It seems we have failed in our task to adequately maintain the villain's attention.

    Kassuin: More likely, those imbeciles failed miserably at stealth.

    Telkrin: I only pray they will succeed in their task.

    Aellah: Doesn't seem likely, does it?

    His ghastly prediction is very much at odds with his perennially cheerful personality, even as his ruhand cleaves zombies in half.

    Kloo Celli: Even if they do succeed, I am not certain this world - or anything in it - will survive.

    She is right. The sky is black ink, and the horizon is the same. Whether the EeP wins or loses, there will soon be nothing left of this realm.

    Rob X: That does NOT look good.

    The others glance in Rob's direction, to see a massive wave of black ink rising before him. The wave widens, subsuming zombies its in wake, until it encircles them entirely, a tsunami of black ink held in suspension, ready to crash down upon its prey at any moment.

    Kassuin: Quickly! We must form a shield!

    Kloo Celli: It will not be enough.

    Telkrin: Aellah! You guided us through the black ink once before, even through dimensional barriers! Can you do so again?

    Aellah nods cheerfully.

    Aellah: Well, I can try--

    The black tidal wave crashes down upon them.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 10-17-2017 at 05:43 PM.

  39. #119
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    785

    Arrow A Personal Touch

    Gebohq holds out his hand and the NeverSword rematerialises, its soft hilt comfortable against his palm. He had caused it to vanish during his fight with Evil G but he could bring it back just as easily. His own sword, the NeSword, has been lost to the gushing ink of the pedestal. This NeverSword may once have been an anathema to him, being the counter sword to his own, but he is no longer the main character. He is just a man. A man in need of a blade.

    The Last True Evil knocks the revolver chamber open and starts to insert new bullets into it, slowly and deliberately with a thin smile on his face.


    The Last True Evil:
    "Just like old times, tovarish?"

    Gebohq: "Me with my friends, you alone. Yes, just like old times."

    The Last True Evil: "Do you expect me to break down and cry?"

    Gebohq: "I guess not. Looks to me like the last of your humanity is finally gone."

    The Last True Evil:
    "If there ever was any. I tried it your way, Gebohq. I tried to be the good guy. I did everything the good guy should do. Save the day, get the girl, ride off into the sunset. Destiny, though... it has a way of creeping up on you."

    He snaps the revolver chamber shut again.

    The Last True Evil: "It's poetic that I am the one to kill you, staryj drug. The Ever-Ending Plot does have its Romantic side."

    Brittica:
    "Ha! Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!"

    The Last True Evil: "Don't ruin the beauty of this moment, autsajder."

    Brittica: "There really are better ways to work out your bi-curious tendencies."

    Gebohq: "Like being turned into a woman?"

    Brittica:
    "Exactly! Now I can explore my bi-curiosity with women! I always knew I had an inner lesbian."

    The Last True Evil: "First you try to emotionally exploit me. Now you try to annoy me. Typical NeS Heroes, never facing a situation with your heart. Just constant, how do you Americans say--? Bullshi--"

    Brittica: "I'm not American, I'll have you know! I'm Roman! And proud!"

    The Last True Evil: "This is what I am talking about."

    Gebohq: "You complain about us talking but I don't see much else from you."

    The Last True Evil: "I know you must be tired of living by now, Geb. You've had a hard time. So much expected of you, being the leader, but never living up to it. Always being overshadowed by everyone else. By me. I always was the better man."

    Gebohq, his manhood now in question, sees red and leaps forward. There's a portion of his brain that knows what's happening. He's being goaded so that he will attack without thinking and succumb quickly to whatever counterstrike TLTE has up his sleeve. That's the part of Gebohq that isn't dumb.

    Unfortunately it's a very small part of Gebohq's brain and is usually buried under the portion of his brain dedicated to porn. Meaning it's buried very, very deep.


    As expected, his charge ended with a swift clothesline and Gebohq falls flat on his back with a resounding groan. TLTE lowers his revolver, its barrel aimed straight for his old friend's skull. As Gebohq lies there, staring up, he can see TLTE has every intention of killing him and that fact chills him. His friend is truly gone, if he was ever there at all.

    Brittica: "You do realise I'm not going to just stand around and let you shoot him, right?"

    The Last True Evil: "Think you can stop me?"

    The Russian pulls the trigger. The hammer slams. The bullet fires. Gebohq gasps.

    Then TLTE howls and staggers back from the momentum of a bullet to the shoulder.


    Brittica: "Missed his head."

    TLTE's bafflement doesn't need to last long as he sees that Brittica had created a small tea vortex that swallowed the bullet and sent it along the swirling tea, down and around, before releasing it from its current. Brittica lets the tea go. She winces as Gebohq then howls with pain too.

    Gebohq: "HOT! HOT! HOT!"

    Brittica: "It's not that hot. It wasn't boiling! Just... almost boiling. Drinkable, I would say."

    TLTE is then set upon by Losien. She had crawled along the floor, grabbed his foot while he's distracted and then chomped on his leg. Seeing he has lost the initiative, TLTE stops playing with his food. A tendril slaps down and whips Losien's back. She cries out and releases TLTE.


    He makes a snapshot at Brittica. He knows he'll miss, his intention is to force the tea-wielding woman to back off while he makes a brief retreat. The tendril grabs Losien by the waist and yanks her from the floor. This is getting traditional now. Beautiful damsel in distress, heroes in dire straits. If he were more sentimental he'd get an evil wedding on right about now. But that part of him was extinguished when all of this began. He couldn't marry Losien, even if he forced her into it, because it would remind him of his failure. He snaps his fingers and a gaggle of tendrils bursts from the ground and rushes at the remaining two.


    Gebohq staggers to his feet as quick as he can and takes a wild swing at the incoming inky lines. The NeverSword slices through them and they fall to the floor, still wriggling madly, but Gebohq stumbles too. His sword makes a resounding clang as it hit the floor. As though summoned by that clang, more tendrils busrt from the floor behind him. They fold in on him and yank him backwards, down to the ground. His sword arm pinned, the tentacles pull. Gebohq feels his body being crushed. He can't even cry out for help as one sticky, black arm is slathered across his mouth.

    Brittica:
    "Well, I broke that damned axe I stole, so I'm going to have to improvise."

    She holds her hand out and a jet of tea splashes onto one of the tendrils holding Gebohq. Initially it does nothing to deter the thing but she concentrates the spray do that it becomes a high-pressure hose. The kind that cuts through steel. The tendril splits with a sickening snap of flesh and ink. She can't work on the next one, though, because she has to dive out of the way as Losien flies towards him. Her wail grows louder as her body draws near and then becomes more faint as the tentacle holding her swoops by. Brittica sweeps her jet-spray up and lances through the swooping tentacle. It tears apart and, in the distance, Brittica hears the agitated scream of Losien plummeting to the floor.

    Brittica glances down to see Gebohq's angry eyes.


    Brittica: "She'll be fiiiiiiiiiiiine~~!"

    The Last True Evil: "But you won't be."

    A tentacle, much larger than the others, swings and bats Brittica like a baseball. She is sent soaring into the air like a rag-doll. Gebohq desperately gropes at the soggy, inky tendril across his mouth with his, now, free arm but his hand passes through the ink like its water. TLTE slowly stomps towards the fallen hero and looms over him. He raises his gun again.

    The Last True Evil:
    "Now, where were we?"

    There's strange sound, one that TLTE hadn't heard in a long time. It's a hum, a choir of hums. It gets louder and when it hits a crescendo he feels searing pain. His arm falls loose with a wet thud to the floor, pistol and all. He roars with agony and jumps back to see a complete stranger has attacked him. With a deft flick of what looks like a lightsabre, she cuts the tentacles holding down Gebohq. He splutters in disgust.

    The Last True Evil: "Who the Hell-?"

    Gebohq: "Minor character to the rescue!"

    Kokoro Lymn: "You people really do speak in a strange fashion..."

    Gebohq: "Okay, we can end this together."

    Kokoro Lymn: "One of us has to guard the entrance. I've been fending off the undead but their numbers are growing. I think... I think my friends might have been brought down. Now all eyes are on us."

    Aariadon waddles over, but strays very overtly away from TLTE who is staring at the stump where his arm once was. Around his shoulders is curled the incredibly fat cat, Morris. Despite all the death and destruction around them, Morris just yawns by way of greeting.

    Gebohq: "Or the one eye anyway."

    Kokoro Lymn: "He is your enemy, I should guard the entrance. But I can't hold it forever. There'll be an army in here soon."

    Gebohq nods to her.

    Gebohq: "Thanks, Kokoro. You're a life-saver. Literally."

    He looks to Aariadon.

    Gebohq: "You should probably keep out of the way."

    He wants to demand Morris actually help, since he knows the fat cat is more than capable when he wants to be, but is trusts that Morris will, at least, help Kokoro at the doors to the inner chamber should the sudden need arise. If he told Morris to help, the cat would refuse to do it on principle.

    Aariadon:
    "Remember the Malorkus needs a personal touch!"

    Gebohq: "I think we're a bit past finesse, Aari."

    Morris: "He probably just said something profound that'll come back later, Geb. Just forget it for now."

    Gebohq: "Uh... right."

    Kokoro Lymn: "I just don't want the demise of my people to be in vain."

    Gebohq scowls down at his own sword through a wash of sweat. It's a scowl of absolute determination.

    Gebohq: "It wasn't."

    As the first of the undead shuffles through the entrance to this inner sanctum, Kokoro rushes at it. She makes no battlecry, no emotional roar for victory. She attacks with deadly purpose.

    The Last True Evil grunts as his arm is restored by the black pus. He shakes it, as though testing its functionality. He then smiles at Gebohq.


    The Last True Evil: "We're back to this again. Like a repetitive cycle. You, me--"

    Losien: "And me."

    The Last True Evil:
    "A dynamic duo."

    Brittica: "And m--ACK!"

    She falls down to the ground after having come back down from her trip into the sky, saved only by her tea jets (flying about like Iron Man. Or Tea Man. Or Tea Woman.)

    The Last True Evil: "Terrible trio is it then."

    Without further banter, he lunges forward with his officer's sword. His sword aims for Losien but Gebohq manages to parry the attack. Before Gebohq could get in a counter attack, he has to lurch backwards to get out of range of a potshot TLTE pulls off. The new pistol came from within his trenchcoat and was designed for such close and personal gunfights. The Walther PPK was designed for spies and TLTE had stolen it off of a British spy named Benedict Cumberlatch some time ago while said spy was on some strange time-travelling stint. The guy didn't survive the encounter and to the victor goes the spoils.

    Losien doesn't have her sword, as he's busy making sweet, sweet polish with a cape. But with the power of her Potential-infused-spirit, her body has become the weapon. She cracks his outstretched arm and the Walther PPK topples free. She yanks his arm, pulling the Russian in close, and uses the palm of her hand to smack his stern nose. He reels back with surprise but composes quickly. He makes a wide slash with his sword, knocking she would jump back to avoid the lazy strike. TLTE may not have the spirit of combat within him as she does, but he has long been the master planner. Know your enemy, know their moves. With his second hand he whips a knife out of his pocket in a smooth arc and it spins free of his grasp.

    The knife scrapes the skin off of her shoulder as she narrowly avoids being stuck by it.


    TLTE is always aware of his surroundings. Rarely is a spy of his calibre taken by surprise. He raises his sword to the right, hardly even bother to look, as he catches the incoming sword stroke of Gebohq. He shoves the surprised American back before ducking to avoid a scalding jet of tea from the superpowered Roman. Brittica tries to move back, seeing him drawing close, and TLTE makes a swift swing up with the officer's sword. It cuts the thick, furry coat the woman has been wearing and if this post were written by Al Ciao the Writer there would probably have been exposure. Fortunately it's not (or unfortunately if you're a pervert).

    Brittica holds her wound with panic at seeing her own blood flowing so freely.

    Brittica: "Jesus!"

    TLTE once again brings his sword to defend from Gebohq from above. Gebohq almost makes the same mistakes twice. With his free hand he this time pulls out an uzi, aims it under his own defensive arm, and sprays a flurry of bullets at Brittica. She is sharper than he had given her credit for as she had anticipated the move. A wall of tea soars upwards like an inverse waterfall and the bullets are drawn up by its momentum. It starts to rain warm tea and bullets.

    TLTE can't help but feel elated as he battles against these three. He feels free. This is who he is meant to be.

    Gebohq: "We have to do something! Kokoro can't hold the undead off forever!"

    He shouts as he avoids an attack from TLTE. Losien moves in to attempt a fist-to-face but TLTE, trained in martials arts himself, knocks her attack aside and follows up with a slash of his sword. The blade slits a gash in Losien's back and she cries out.

    Brittica: "I'm open to suggestions, Gebohq!"

    Gebohq points towards where the pedestal had been. The pedestal itself has been broken apart by the eternal torrent of ink that bursts from the hole like a river. The sky above them has been slowly filling up with jet-black ink like a horrific cloud of evil.


    Gebohq:
    "We have to seal it up! He'll lose his power!"

    Gebohq is suddenly silenced with a huge boot to the abdomen.

    The Last True Evil: "And how do you intend to do that, tovarish!?"

    TLTE spreads his arms in genuine query.

    Losien: "With this."

    She has found the discarded Malorkus. A moment passes as Losien and TLTE look at each other. They were once lovers, partners, friends. Now they are competing for survival. TLTE's eyes twitch from the Malorkus to the broken pedestal and, before they could flick back, she is off. Her feet pound against the rock as she legs it towards the pedestal.

    A tentacle burst from the floor, slamming stones in all directions, and she skids to avoid being snatched by it. TLTE bounds after her, his long legs giving him a much greater stride than hers. Her heart pounds in her chest as she feels him drawing on her. Then she sees Brittica on her far left. Losien tosses the Malorkus. Brittica fires a jet of tea that launches her up into the air where she snatches the hilt before it even begins its descent. She lands at a continued run but sees TLTE is now making a beeline for her instead. He positions himself between her and Losien, blocking any attempt to make a return throw.

    Brittica: "Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks, bollocks, bollocks--!"

    She mutters to herself.

    Gebohq:
    "To me!"

    She hears Gebohq shout from behind and, without thinking, Brittica slams on the breaks and stops dead. TLTE almost fell as he tried to stop himself and double-back. By then Brittica has already launched the blade backwards to Gebohq.


    Gebohq catches the sword with his right hand. He looks from the Malorkus to the NeverSword and wonders. A personal touch? There's nothing personal about the NeverSword for Gebohq beyond it being his counterpart's twisted blade. He tries to think. That personal touch. A personal blade?

    The NeSword didn't work because it wasn't Gebohq wielding it, it was Brittica. To her the NeSword was as any other sword. The axe was a powerful character weapon but the axe itself meant nothing to Brittica and Subaru herself was entirely unknown to her. Brittica had no feelings for the NeSword or Subaru's axe and even their owners were of little import to her; Gebohq and Brittica only recently being acquainted and she never even knew the Japanese NeS Hero. But with Evil G gone, nobody could use the NeverSword either.

    Losien: "Geb!"

    Brittica: "Ya mong!!!"

    Gebohq returns from his musing just a moment before TLTE ploughs into him. He instinctively throws the Malorkus and it goes just out of TLTE's reach. It clatters just shy of Losien and she's left to carry the burden towards the pedestal.

    As she goes she sees more of the pedestal crumble away from the force of the ink flow. As she draws near she feels a darkness upon her soul that seems to slow her down. Her hearing is muffled and her breathing is laboured. A thick aura of plot hangs over the vicinity. She gasps for breath but keeps going. She raises the Malorkus but hears a shout;

    Brittica: "Look out!!"

    She catches sight of TLTE bearing down upon her like a freight train. He forces himself between her and Brittica. Losien spins to gear up to throw the sword to the tea-wielder. TLTE imposes his tall figure and far-reaching arms to block the shot.

    Except she doesn't throw it.

    The Malorkus slams straight through TLTE's chest and he croaks with surprise. Finally a move he didn't see coming. He looks down at the blade protruding from his chest and staggers back. Losien then grabs the hilt and glares into his eyes. He sees her and smiles.

    The Last True Evil: "You... can't kill me, Kotënok."

    With all her strength she pushes the hilt and steers him backwards. He stumbles along for one metre until he falls back against the remains of the pedestal. The ink torrent splashes over them both, bathing them in black liquid. She shouts at him with anger but he just laughs.

    The Last True Evil:
    "I cannot die. Now, I am eternal."

    As he lies against the pedestal, the adrenalin rushing through his ears, he sees Losien wet with ink. Buried deep down inside his pain and self-loathing a tiny kindling ignites as he remembers her. He remembers the feelings he had and the life he had once yearned for.

    The Last True Evil: "You... could join me, Losien."

    Losien stares at him, hands still on the hilt of the sword through his chest. The blade is inside the pedestal but nothing has happened.

    Losien: "I loved you. I really did. But you never loved me. Not really. You just wanted to love me. You wanted me to make you the man you thought you could be. You used me. Like a tool. I am not an object for you to toy with. And I'll never be one for anyone ever again."

    She snatches his officer's sword from his limp hand and forces it into the opening at the end of the Malorkus. It stops, the tip of the blade almost inside but some invisible force is stopping it. She pushes harder and it wobbles but refuses to pass into the Malorkus completely.

    The Last True Evil: "Losien... it won't work. The sword is mine, not yours. It means nothing to you."

    Losien: "But it's your sword and you mean something to me!"

    The officer's sword continues to threaten to fall through but it is still being kept at bay.

    The Last True Evil: "It's not personal enough for you. It's not enough! Just let it go. You have lost, there is nothing more any of you can do! None of you have your personal weapons."

    Gebohq: "I think his sword will be enough. It won't go all the way in because it will work, but it needs even more of that... personal touch."

    He looks at Losien.

    Gebohq: "Together. He was your love and he was my friend. It'll be enough."

    The Last True evil panics, perhaps for the first time, as he hears the assuredness in Gebohq's voice. The voice of a man that knows what he's doing. Gebohq does it rarely but when he does he always finds victory.

    The Last True Evil: "Wait!!"

    It's too late. The siblings' hands are upon the hilt and it slides down suddenly. TLTE gasps.

    But it's stuck again.

    TLTE then starts to laugh, as much from relief as from being victorious.


    The Last True Evil: "Still not enough! Still not enough...!"

    If the sword is removed he would heal back to full strength, but so long as it's there he's weak. He pants and his hands claw. Behind the twins tentacles are creeping along the floor, climbing from craters and over rocks. Hundreds of them, like slithering snakes, are headed to the pedestal. Losien glances back and sees Kokoro being forced further into the sanctum. Even Morris is helping her while Aariadon is sitting against the wall and rocking himself back and forth.

    She grits her teeth. If they're all going to die here after all, then she's going to go down with every ounce of her strength resisting the control of TLTE. Control of the Eep. Control of destiny.

    She pushes. Her spirit pushes. Gebohq pushes. They can feel it wanting to fall but unable to make that last inch.


    Brittica appears beside them.

    Gebohq: "Hold them off, there's nothing you can do here!"

    Brittica: "Actually... I never told you this. But I really hate you, your face and all your clone brothers."

    The Last True Evil: "It's not enough!"

    He is laughing in his stupor.

    Brittica:
    "I knew the Original True Evil. In fact, he was my friend. I trusted him completely."

    TLTE now looks at Brittica, perhaps for the first time, though he still doesn't comprehend.


    Brittica: "But then, at the end, before I froze him atop the mountains... I learnt the truth. He murdered Soolien."

    The Last True Evil:
    "Who?"

    Brittica:
    "My friend!!"

    Brittica grabs the hilt along with his two descendent.

    The officer's sword budges that extra inch and completes its connection with the Malorkus. The mystical sword activates, at last, within the broken pedestal and the flowing ink from the hole reacts. TLTE himself surges with pain and he screams until he suddenly explodes as nothing but a shower of ink...

  40. #120

    Closing Call

    The three of Simon lineage still hold tight to the hilt of the Malorkus even as The Last True Evil's inky remains settle and start sucking into the mystical sword. In turn, the pus-filled masses of blood and ink surrounding them halt in their ever-ending motion, their primal purpose shocked still from a turn of events which unfolded before Plot's blind spot. Even the tempest above ceased to till the air once fertile with Plot's terminal instinct.

    Gebohq: "He's gone..."

    Losien: "We did it..."

    Brittica: "And what a mess. I'll need to change clothes for sure."

    Not far from the entrance back to London within the prime Never-ending Story thread, Morris the Cat and Aariadon sit in waiting.

    Morris the Cat: "So which one of you good-for-nothing's gonna unclog our way back out of here?"

    As the fat feline finishes whining, the tendrils that once filled the whole of their portal to the prime Never-ending Story thread start sinking into nothingness.

    Morris the Cat: "That's what I'm talking about. Whichever one of you did that, you earned yourself no poo in your sneakers. For today."

    Losien: "That wasn't me."

    Gebohq and Brittica each add their own shaking of their heads and shrugging in confused non-ownership.

    Aariadon: "Uh-oh."

    Morris the Cat: "What are you 'uh-oh'-ing about?"

    The Aeon practitioner, Kokoro Lymn, joins in Aariadon's concern even as the undead around her have long stopped moving.

    Kokoro Lymn: "None of you can sense it?"

    Realization hurls itself at Gebohq, who's face shifts to equal parts fear and fulfillment.

    Gebohq: "We just topped a load-bearing boss--"

    CRACK!

    Gebohq, Losien, and Brittica each leap away from the pedestal as they hear the ground beneath them tear open. They each sprint in a stumbling fashion away from each other and the pedestal as the ground beneath them collapses. A good fifty meter hole into non-existence fills the space where they once stood, and the pedestal, plugged with the Malorkus, drops straight and true down with no bottom in sight.


    Morris the Cat: "That's our cue. Let's go, big guy!"

    As Morris the Cat attempts to waddle past Aariadon into the portal back to the Never-ending Story Thread, the lines that once flowed like rivers of ink from the pedestal out into the NeShattered beyond the Inner Sanctum split wide, and the two halves of the cratered Inner Sanctum start tilting wildly. Aariadon and Morris the Cat, so close to the split itself, fall into the chasm and into one of many portals the Ever-ending Plot used to spread its infectious presence. Everyone else braces themselves as the ground wildly shifts, rocking their balance. Out of the remaining,
    Gebohq stands closest to the portal back to the Never-ending Story Thread.


    Losien: "Geb, go!"

    Gebohq: "Not without you! Hold on!"

    Brittica: "Oh sure, don't worry about me, I'm just dandy here!"

    While Brittica uses her tea-powers to propel herself slowly over, Gebohq glances around briefly before seeing Evil G's body. He rushes over to it, and removes one of the plothooks from Evil G's arms onto his own arm. Holding onto Evil G as an anchor, Gebohq uses his newly-equipped plothook to take aim and shoot it towards Losien. The magical grappling line takes hold of Losien and begins reeling her in through the air. As it does so, though, the ground below Gebohq and Evil G suddenly rockets upwards though, shooting the two of them high in the air, threatening to drag Losien's body along for the doomed ride. Determination falls across Gebohq's face as he brandishes the Neversword.

    Losien: "NO!"

    But it's too late. Gebohq severs the line, allowing Losien's trajectory to finish her landing nearby the portal back to the Never-ending Story thread. The two Gebohq's, however, start falling towards a bottomless end within one of the growing fissues. Gebohq grabs tight onto Evil G, aiming Evil G's remaining plothook towards the nearest portal in the sky, and launches its line towards it. The aim hits dead center through, but fails to find purchase on the other side as the two continue falling. The fissure threatens to collapse in again, cutting off the line, when the two Gebohq suddenly shoot back up in the air, the line finally pulling them towards their unknown destination.

    Brittica: "Let go, you dolt!"

    Gebohq: "I can't!"

    In his attempts to secure hold onto the dead weight of Evil G -- his only anchor -- Gebohq tied himself up too well, and his attempts to sever the new line with the Neversword miss their mark.

    Gebohq: "Help my sister, if it's the last thing you--"

    His words are cut off as he's pulled into the portal with Evil G's body. Losien stares at the portal, waiting for her brother to come back, even as the very earth threatens to collapse before her.

    In fact, it does.

    Losien yells as she plummets into a pit with no end. Her body stops in mid-air, though, and slowly levitates back up onto the ground that exists. When Losien looks around, she can see Kokoro Lymn using all her Force-like connection to grab hold of her.


    Kokoro Lymn: "Just a little more..."

    One of the standing towers of the ruined Palace of Power falls though, its remains set to land directly where Kokoro Lymn stands.

    Losien: "Watch out!"

    Whether due to her concentration or to her will to finish her task at any cost, Kokoro Lymn does not move. With her own storywielding power, Losien pushes Lymn as far as she can. Against normal physics and narrative pacing, Lymn suddenly seems to sidestep away from the falling tower, which falls through the ground as if it were paper, creating a new rift into the abyss below. Lymn, bewildered by the apparently involuntary act of survival, rolls herself unwittingly into another mystical swirl of a portal. Losien, not quite yet above relatively safe ground, falls once again, but manages to grab hold onto a ledge.

    The whole of the Shattered realm now truly lives up to its name as it continues to break apart into a thousand small floating islands, some pieces propelling upwards into the increasingly dead sky while many more fall below into the blank blackness. Or rather, one presumes this to be the case, as it becomes increasingly difficult to determine up from down in the cataclysmic chaos. As Losien pulls herself up, she can see what's now just a small island around the portal door itself back to the Never-ending Story thread floating of its own accord, the now-stepping stones of the ground threatening to spread away from it. Out of one corner of her eye, she sees the limp body of Antestarr falling, only for another slab of earth to slap the body far away, possibly towards yet another portal too far away for Losien to know for sure. Out of the other corner of her eye, Losien sees Brittica making her landing to where she is.


    Brittica: "Ugh, Super Mario makes it look so easy with his water jetpack. I don't think I have enough in me for the rest of the way."

    Losien: "Do you have enough to give me a boost."

    Brittica: "Yes, but...no, I can't."

    Losien: "Our lives depend on it!"

    Brittica: "It's not worth living for such a price!"

    The island they stand on threatens to crumble.

    Losien: "I'll help you repay it, whatever the cost!"

    Brittica: "You must never tell anyone what I'm about to do, and I'll need, like, payment for a lot of counseling sessions, and you to attend. And I could really use a box of banana-creme Oreo knock-offs--"

    Losien: "Yes, yes, whatever it takes. Just do it!"

    Brittica sighs deeply, then musters all her strength to summon a pillar of tea below them, high above, yet still short of the portal door back to the Never-ending Story thread.

    Losien: "This should be enough..."

    With her storywielding, Losien jumps, to the point of the narrative where she is now just grabbing the edge of the island with the portal back to the prime Never-ending Story thread. She pulls herself up, braces herself in the door frame with her feet, then with the plothook still latched onto her, she lowers the line down to Brittica.

    Losien: "Grab on!"

    Brittica: "No... I'm certain I don't deserve to live now."

    Losien: "What are you talking about?"

    Brittica: "I... I MADE ICED TEA!"

    Losien: "..."

    Brittica begins sobbing on her pillar of iced tea.

    Losien: "That's not a bad thing--"

    Brittica: "IT'S A TERRIBLE THING! THE WORST! LEAVE ME TO DIE!"

    Losien: "And leave you to whatever hell awaits you?"

    Brittica: "Hell? With the demon lady? She'll make me drink iced tea for sure..."

    Losien: "Just grab on! The ground below you is almost gone!"

    Brittica: "I CHANGE MY MIND! I WANT TO LIVE!"

    As the ground beneath crumbles, and the column of iced tea falls with no support, Brittica grabs hold of the line. Losien nearly falls over from the weight, yet her foothold remains entrenched in the doorframe. With both arms, Losien wraps the line around herself to reel Brittica up.

    Her foot slips slightly as gravity shifts, pulling Brittica away directly from the door instead of below it. It's obvious Losien doesn't have the physical strength to pull Brittica to safety, and the both of them realize this. Losien lies with a grit-fueled smile.


    Losien: "Almost there..."

    Brittica: "Not this time."

    Resignation written all over her face, Brittica lets go of the line. Losien falls over backwards into the London alley beyond the portal.

    Losien: "NO!"

    Scrambling to her feet, Losien rushes in a foolish attempt to jump back out towards Brittica. Brittica watches though as the doors shut of their own accord. The doors, and the island it was on itself, shatters into countless pieces as the doors had slammed shut. Brittica free falls in the oblivion.

    Alone.

    That is, except for the Sepulchral Phantom, floating of his own accord.


    Morthrandur, the Sepulchral Phantom: "You were there for my descendants, and so I will be here for my ancestor."

    Bewilderment washes over Brittica's face.

    Morthrandur, the Sepulchral Phantom: "May Forever be with you."

    Brittica: "May forever be with me what?"

    The Sepulchral Phantom merely extends his hand, though. Brittica looks behind her to see herself falling through a portal she was certain hadn't been there before. She looks back once more, a slate of rock obscuring her vision of where the Sepulchral Phantom had been, and when it passes, he is gone. Brittica then falls through the portal into an unknown realm. The remains of the Shattered thread break in smaller and smaller pieces, the portals themselves fraying out of existence. Only the dust of what was known as NeShattered remains now, returning to the void that is nothing and everything. It is known by many names, and it's now known by one more.

    The Plothole.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 12-04-2017 at 11:27 AM.

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