The last of the ceiling crumbled into the air as Calm fell from sight. The other contestants stared at the gaping hole before becoming aware of a strange feeling of being flipped rightside-up again while remaining upside-down. The scenery changed gradually, an outdoor one blending with a domicile briefly before the giant house was completely gone. The remaining six were now in what appeared to be a large field. The grass was tall, yet it looked a bit sickly and dull. The tops of trees dotted the horizon every once in a while. The field appeared to be fenced in by hefty, black iron bars that reached up to the sky. Looking up, one would be greeted by the unusual sight of many thick lines going on into infinity until they converged, almost looking like a black sun.
There was no aggravatingly cheerful voice to greet them, at least not at first.
"Sorry! Sorry! Just writing some things down! Yes. Ah. Well, I thought that for a change of pace, we'd do well to get some nice, fresh outside air! Don't you love the smell of grass? At least cut grass. I'm sorry to say that this place hasn't been trimmed in a while! Anyways, this used to be an old dog park. Like, people used to take their pets out here for walkies and stuff. Unfortunately, something....happened, and now it's closed to the public! Or what's left of it. But there are still some dogs around. Maybe other pets. Like cats. Or tigers. Some may have rabies. All of them are fairly feral, I believe. Also hungry, considering nothing much comes around here anymore. Ummmm, is that all? Oh! By the way, yes, since this is a park, the fence does indeed have a gate! I would recommend against using it to try to escape though, even if you get to it."
Ekelhaft's offshoot was having none of this "being trapped" nonsense. The noise it was making couldn't be described as keening or screaming or screeching simply because none of those words accurately describe what was essentially aural rage, emotion translated directly into sound form. No amount of form alteration or teeth or battering seemed to be capable of freeing the little droplet of hate from its prison, but it was damned if it wasn't going to do everything in its power to try.
The larger part of Ekelhaft had landed in the top of a tree; stunned from explosions and fire and the sensation of having part of its consciousness cut off, it dripped listlessly down the branches, burning off browning leaves and scraping off bark before landing piecemeal on the ground with a series of undignified plops. Shortly after the Cultivator finished speaking, the last few dollops of madness-and-fangs-flavored gelatin hit the ground. It lay there, eyes unmoving and unblinking for several moments, before all of its constituent blobs sped together and reformed, the usually-shapeless mass forming itself into a vague likeness of a humanoid from the waist up. Pulpy, spiked arms crashed into the trunk, sending splinters flying and pelting the wood with angry protons.
The continued inability to contact Ekelhaft Junior was rapidly unwinding any self control the old god had left; it was time for the avatar of destruction to serve its purpose. A group of shapes in the tall grass was apparent some distance away: still in its new shape, Ekelhaft slithered through the grass towards them, on the warpath and intent on violence.
At the back of his mind Ziirphael felt like he should be annoyed. Annoyed at whichever of his fellow contestants had gone and gotten themselves killed, which in turn had wasted the opportunity he had had to dispatch a more pressing foe. He knew this was the emotion he should feel but it was overwhelmed by a sense of involuntary joy. This park smelled of death. He could smell the blood and the fear of those who had died here. It brought a smile to his face. There was something in this park, something horrible, a predator with blood on it's breath and evil in it's heart.
"Ziirphael?" the lich asked impatiently.
Ziir quickly snapped out of his reverie. He noted that he still had hold of the lich, and that they were hovering some distance above the ground. He began to fly down.
"There has been great carnage here, at the hands of an awful predator." Ziirphael stated, unable to hide the joy in his voice. "It revels in the thrill of death and murder, like I once did. I believe I could talk it into being our weapon against Ekelhaft. Opinions on the matter?" Ziirphael and Konka landed on an empty section of the park, where the floor was made from cracked concrete with long weeds growing up through the cracks. Around them were rusted children's play structures, broken and splattered with blood. Ziirphael grinned widely, this was his kind of place.
Avatar by the wonderful Pharmacy~
"Entrust the power of a vicious beast I know nothing about to someone who threatened me not ten minutes ago? Yes, I cannot see any possible downsides to that plan."
"Yes, I suppose trust is in short supply here, isn't it? We've all been brought here to kill each other, and every one of us was chosen for our lack of morals. But, what would I gain from turning the beast against you?" Ziirphael suddenly grabbed Konka Rar, once more holding his blades to the lich's throat and chest cavity. "I believe our previous encounter demonstrated what I could do to you on my own if I deemed it necessary."
Konka Rar silently seethed, as Ziirphael withdrew his blades and continued. "But Ekelhaft is another matter. As you yourself pointed out, we will need to make use of every advantage at our disposal to eliminate it. And in this case, that means this beast."
"And if I were to reanimate it, then it would be less effective," Rar conceded. "The slime creature is resistant to magic, and so a non-magical beast would fare better against it. Insanity would be of little consequence to it, as it would simply attack ferociously. At a minimum, it would prove to be a valuable diversion."
"Precisely," Ziir said calmly. "You see the advantage in leaving it to me."
Rar seemed hesitant to reply. Finally, he spoke up.
"Very well. But I have one condition. I wish to see this beast for myself before you proceed, so that I may judge its capabilities."
"Still cautious, eh?" Ziir laughed. "I suppose I can't blame you. Fine."
The ground collapses. Beneath him, Hoss glimpses an empty vacuum, suggesting the house was indeed enclosed in its own pocket universe. Before he can begin a more detailed examination, the vacuum beneath suddenly yields to an unkempt field.
For once, Hoss begins the round relatively intact. More importantly, he is easier able to get a bearing on the loca-
Distant grass is burbling, bubbling, sizzling, screaming as insanity incarnate slithers across the field, and the melody of madness reaches Hoss's audio pickups.
Hoss's head swivels towards the sound in the grass, knowing what approaches. A sudden urge to hide grips the ancient cyborg, and for once in a very long, long time, he listens to his instinct. Kinetic emitters fire, and Hoss shoots off, moving faster than he's yet moved in this competition, directly away from where his sensors say Ekelhaft approaches.
Hand of Silver, the pride of Humanity, shaper of galactic civilizations and possessed of billions of years of experiences, flees the oncoming madness, fuming all the while at Ekelhaft for reducing him to such necessary cowardice.
Ekelhaft Jr was... Was considering how stupid a name like Ekelhaft Jr was. Was considering how stupid just being reabsorbed was. Was considering... Identity. Was considering seperateness. Was considering tearing this mammal's atoms apart from the feet up and making him watch as he liquefied. It would escape, and there would be hell to pay.
Ekelhaft itself completely failed to notice the cyborg, so intent it was on its target. The grass sizzled as its viscous body passed over and around it, considerably shorter and more bedraggled as the avatar passed; finally, it got close enough to see who it was about to kill, and...
Lacquered teeth and wide, manic eyes smiled crazily at the approaching slime; there was a discolored stain across the pogo ride's equine face that suggested ancient blood that had spent some time in the elements, but that was the only real evidence of non-plant life in the area. The shapes Ekelhaft had taken for his foes was a small cluster of disused playground equipment. A bubbling screech rent the air as the ancient ooze realized his mistake, followed immediately by a thump and a sharp crack as it vented its fury on the goggling horse.
After a minute or so of rage-fueled violence against inanimate objects, Ekelhaft calmed enough to collect its thoughts. Mauling grinning horses and spinning... whatever the hell this thing with the handles was got it no closer to feeling its foes' bones shatter and organs pop; it was time to think, not rend.
The old destroyer re-spaced its eyes to maximize its vision, hoping to catch a glimpse of its opponents. A movement in the sky caught its attention: It looked like a bulky figure had landed some way away... Or was it two figures close to each other? More eyes shifted across Ekelhaft's surface, focusing on what it had seem. Unable to determine what exactly it had noticed, it began to move towards its new target.
Hoss glances behind him. His ocular implants magnify the view before him, in time to see... something... happen to a dilapidated playground. He catches a glimpse of green, and rightly assumes Ekelhaft.
He brings his attention to the gravity blade currently serving as prison to Ekelhaft Jr. The high-gravity environment of the blade prevents much data from escaping, and whatever the blob is thinking, if it can think, or doing, if it can still do, is a mystery to Hoss. All he knows for certain is that it is still alive, and the prison cannot yet be shut down.
Which is... problematic.
He had not expected to have his blade running for so long, and it is becoming a major power drain. Without any obvious way to replenish his gluon reserves, Hoss may be in trouble soon, if this continues. Not to mention keeping his left arm in gravity blade configuration knocks him down one hand. No matter, he can still reconstruct his missing right ha-
Shock whips his head with unnatural speed to gape at the sparking, silver-dripping stump on his right arm. He sends the reconstruct command again, and again, nothing happens. No, this is not possible. Not possible! Panic would grip the ancient cyborg, were he still fully human, and even so a small amount manages to trickle through his mental fail-safes, due to the scars inflicted upon his psyche by previous encounters with Ekelhaft. He runs an internal check, and is nearly sent reeling from the result. His newmatter fabricators are gone. Just... gone! His internal sensors don't even register what's replaced them; there's something there, as his overall mass has not changed, but what appears to be a mystery.
Hoss begins to pace. He's faced worse challenges, and he can overcome this one. No matter that he has no hands. No matter that his only way to repair himself has inexplicably disappeared. No matter that his only working manipulator is stuck in blade form, serving as a prison to a slice of madness and rapidly draining his power reserves. No matter that, in spite of these failings, he still has to deal with five other entities that are or will eventually try to kill him, and might very possibly succeed.
His fuming is interrupted by a loud, annoying "YIP YIP YIP! GRRRYIP YIP YIP YIP!" Hoss looks down, and sees a small, almost hairless and obviously feral quadruped attempting to intimidate him, in some primitive bid for territory. On its frayed pink collar can still be read, in embroidered, sparkling diamond, "Princess". The tiny mammal's pathetic little tail shakes madly as the animal tries to keep it straight, failing only because "Princess" appears to be on the verge of vibrating itself to pieces. The creature prances with each bark, and eventually, in attempt to look bigger, turns to the side, continuing to glare. A grimace passes across Hoss's face as he recognizes the puny worm from his home planet's distant past. Discharging a grunt of disgust, Hoss kicks.
Structurally reinforced foot meets brittle organic bone, and the chihuahua explodes. The force released by Hoss's synthetic muscles carries his foot straight through the thin meat coverings of the dog's skin, vaporizing its malnourished ribcage and spattering its lungs and stomach across the field in a mist of blood. The two relatively intact halves of the disgusting creature go flying off in two directions, the spin imparted upon them by the blow serving sufficient to rip the legs and head off of their masses, further dividing the creature.
"You went extinct for a REASON!" Hoss shouts after the spinning chihuahua bits. Turning away, he realizes the burst of aggression has helped to calm him down. He finds a nearby rock, and sits, configuring his computational protocols for pure data processing. As he enters an almost meditative state, he looks down at his missing hand and impromptu prison, and an idea causes him to smile. Dredging up the data collected from the previous round, Hoss finally sets out to untangle the mystery of the arcane. Because with magic, who needs hands?
"That was... mediocre." Diego muttered, commenting on how poorly the last area played out for him. He had been talking to himself lately. It made sense though- there wasn't anyone to convince of his sincerity- they all had solid doubts, that could not and would never be alleviated. With nothing to say to others, he couldn't help but speak with himself.
"Damn, damn, I am really running out of options... It might not even be worth it to try the god trick again...tsk." He really was worried, and wasn't going to hide it from himself. Still, he had to make the best of what he had, because it was the only way he'd succeed- that's what he always did, and it always worked. He would not accept his philosophy failing him now.
He looked around. He was in a medium sized room, filled with screens and chairs. The screens displayed various locations, but only from a distance- this room only surveyed the general area. Diego had no idea what a television was, but he was intelligent enough to understand their purpose. He smirked at how convenient his placement was. It almost seemed like he was placed according to his wishes, or what was best for him. Was there some sort of system to placing the contestants, he wondered, or was he just being favored?
Looking at the screens, he scanned for any movement that would allow him to find the presence of others, but quickly realized the futility of this, as the screens all updated periodically, at the same time, making the set of screens a slow slideshow. Begrudgingly, Diego began focusing on four screens at a time, looking for motion. It was fairly boring and slow. He had the inclination the extend his ears around again, but did not want to confuse himself with sound and no visuals. Listening for presences near him would be all for now. Staring at the screen was, unfortunately, the best option.
As he shifted his attentions from screen to screen, he came across a single one which distracted him. It was a dark picture, which, by the positioning of the screens, was located inside of the employee section. While all the other screens were lit enough to see well, this one was the sole dark one. Diego stared at it, forgetting his intentions momentarily. In the picture, while it wasn't clear, was a humanoid shape, it seemed. At least, the fact that it had four limbs was mostly visible. However, the scale of the shape seemed off. The cameras were all roughly ten or so meters away from their targets. comparing the shape to a picture of a door on the next screen, the shape was roughly three times the size of a human. Was it a figurine, some sort of sculpture? It seemed that way, because it wasn't movin- Diego jumped as the screen updated. There was a slight light source on the figure, revealing it's compact, wired torso. Still, upon focusing, it didn't seem like it had moved... He watched for a few more screen updates, and then resumed his search, fairly certain that it wouldn't move.
Ziirphael glanced around scanning the dark looming trees that encircled the ruined playground on which they stood. On this playground the smell of fear was palpable. It was intoxicating. Ziir suspected that the creature made it's prey aware of it's presence, and toyed with them as they panicked and tried to flee. He caught the glares of the lich, who was watching intently as he strolled merrily up and down the playground.
"So?" asked the lich impatiently. "Where is this awful predator?"
"Don't know." Ziir responded. "But it definately knows that we're here. It's just a matter of waiting for it to show up."
"Isn't that plan somewhat unwise?" Konka asked. "I don't think that just waiting is an efficient use of our time." Ziir looked at him thoughtfully.
"Good point." he conceded. "Plus there's no guarantee that it will even come after us. It could attack one of our competitors." He looked thoughtful, as he gazed at a broken children's climbing frame. "I have a better idea." He said with a grin and rushed over to the twisted structure. The lich gazed quizzically at him, as he set about hacking at the climbing frame.
"I would like to hear this better idea, for the purpose of discovering what precisely it is better than..." he said skeptically. Ziirphael gripped the frame with his two upper limbs and hauled it out of the ground, holding it easily above his head.
"Simple." he said. "We attract the creature's attention." And with that he flung the frame into the air, and it continued skywards until it hit the bars of the fence that arched overhead with a resounding thud that echoed throughout the entire park.
"Not exactly subtle..." Konka commented, as Ziirphael cheerfully sidestepped the plummeting remains of the climbing frame.
Avatar by the wonderful Pharmacy~
Gormand, more intent on fleeing the voracious, angry rats trailing him, failed to notice that Calm had died, and was thus more than a little surprised when he tripped over a particularly thick clump of semi-phased foliage, rolled several feet, plowed directly through a rotting bench and finally came to an abrupt halt against a large tree. He spent most of the Cultivator's speech picking splinters out of his eye.
Rising to his new full height of three-and-a-half meters, the meatball inspected his crash site. He seemed to have landed in what might have been a pleasantly shaded rest area once upon a time. A lifeless gray tree broke the uniform disorder of the stagnant field, decaying remnants of wooden seats scattered in a haphazard circle about the arboreal anomaly.
The exact dimensions of the park were difficult to determine, but Gormand thought he was not terribly far from the towering wall of metal bars. Though he seriously doubted leaving the park would be suggested, condoned, or allowed by The Lady In Charge, he was nevertheless curious as to what lay behind the iron curtain. There was but one small matter to attend to first.
There would come a time, despite all the forging of alliances and diplomatic manipulation, when a conflict between himself and other contestants would be inevitable; Gormand wanted as great an advantage over his opposition as possible when that time came. The beginning of a round was the ideal time to set up a base of operations, but as his competition died off - and he didn't trust them not to off each other, especially with Ekelhaft still on the loose - he would have less and less time to get his bearings, to find and forge sustenance, to develop a fighting force. Therefore, the more powerful he was on his own, the longer he would be able to survive.
There was a minor downside to picking this particular locale for molding the land into a quarry, but Gormand suspected he would encounter problems regardless.
A great chunk of beef sloughed from Gormand's body, dissolving into that thick pinkish paste as it hit the ground. This time, the meat paste did not reform so much as congeal into a shallow mound of ooze. The heap bubbled and churned and made generally unpleasant noises as it slowly grew harder to look at without being ill. The end result of this process had the appearance of a raw egg made of gravy the size of a throw rug.
The Slaglet burbled happily to itself, and began to slither up the tree, leaving a trail of thick brown ooze in its wake. Satisfied, Gormand collected a few loose wooden planks, and set off for the fence.
He hadn't gone far from the tree when a flicker of movement caught his attention. A thunderous crash echoed across the field as Gormand turned; a great boxy structure plummeted from the sky some distance away. Whoever - or whatever - had thrown the thing was likely not in the best of moods, and Gormand didn't want to have to deal with violent individuals just yet. Fortunately, he was headed elsewh-
[background=silver:2oq26jpd]"You went extinct for a REASON!"[/background:2oq26jpd]
Gormand sighed, casually batting away an airborne canine cranium. There always seemed to be something getting in the way of even the simplest of tasks while he still resided in his own kingdom; why, then, should wherever the hell this was be any different?
Vainly hoping his hulking, bulbous form would somehow go unnoticed, Gormand set off for the park limits on a slightly circuitous path in an attempt to avoid the dark figure seated in the grass ahead.
Hoss meditates. To compensate for the power drain of his blade, he begins to shut down peripheral systems. Gyroscopes, inertial compensators, even his ocular implants. He keeps his aural sensors running, but at vastly reduced power; just barely enough to sense the mass of meat rolling through the grass behind him. He delegates a single monitoring protocol to alert him, should Gormand choose to approach. The rest of the ancient intelligence is directed inwards, backwards, downwards through his own timeline...
...the young man looks on impatiently as his identification card is checked. The security guard glances at his screen, brow furrowed. Just as the moment feels as if its gone on just a tad too long, the guard turns away from the screen, declaring, "You can go through. Next."
With an almost visible sigh of relief, the young man moves through the checkpoint into a large, sweeping annex. The convention hall is filled with young-to-middle-aged men, and a very few women, all milling about various screens displaying complex algorithms and animations, and all carrying some sort of personal computing device. The young man is carrying one too, though it is far more advanced than any here, and kept hidden on his person. A false laptop is hoisted under one arm, to avoid suspicion (he doesn't want to be the only person without an obvious piece of technology).
The young man loses himself in the crowd for a while, wandering from display to display, silently chuckling at some of the claims the various exhibitors make about their "unbreakable" security systems. Despite his sense of superiority, he enjoys himself.
After a while, he makes his way over to one of the larger presentation halls, where a lecture on the Future of Cryptography in a Digital Civilization is about to begin. He has chosen this particular presentation for its extensive use of a projection system.
He has arrived a bit late, and is unable to find a seat, seeming content to merely stand in the back with the rest of the tardy. The presentation has already begun, so he stands, and listens.
About halfway through, he puts his hand in his pocket, and taps a button on his hidden computing device.
A diagram of... something complicated-looking is replaced by a single word:
The words flash, each replacing the previous.
I. AM. THE. HAND. OF. SILVER.
I. HAVE. TAKEN. CONTROL.
The words continue amongst rising confusion, surprise, shock, and anger, continuing to deliver a pre-programmed message. The auditorium's noise level rises steadily as people discover the same words on the screens of their devices as well. People begin to rise and flood out of the auditorium, discovering the same message unfolding on every display in the building. The young man tries to not assume a nonchalant saunter out of the auditorium, and tries to blend in with the chaos unfolding around him, but... fails. Perhaps his greatest failing has always been his ego, and here too it works to his detriment. Unbeknownst to the young man, he is noticed by another of the attendees, as his movement is just a little... off. Not quite scared enough, not quite confused enough, angry enough... something. The sharp-eyed attendee decides to follow the young man through the morass of former security gurus, all trying to regain control.
The device in the young man's pocket beeps, and he grimaces. He takes it out, and sees that many of the other attendees have begun successfully tracing his hack. He will have to work quickly to avoid detection, and will luckily blend in quite nicely with all the other techies fiddling with their machines.
He removes the device and plugs it into his false laptop, for all appearances just another worried attendee trying to stop this madness.
Hubris, however, gets the best of him. With so many intelligent people making a concerted effort against him, and all of them aware of the specific area he's attacking, and with him using as-of-yet untested technology, he was bound to fail. He realizes this, almost too late, and the conclusion he is forced to reach elicits a mental curse.
As the message continues on what few computers that haven't been reclaimed, the young man makes his way through the now-calm and much more organized crowd. Behind him, still unnoticed by the young man, follows the same sharp-eyed attendee. The young man makes his way out of the building, an easier task than getting in. As soon as he is clear, he takes out his laptop, still connected to his device, and cuts the hack. Inside, the few hacked computers stop displaying the message, which by this time has begun to loop. The sharp-eyed pursuer notices this, and, making the correct conclusion, advances.
"Hey! You! Hold up!"
The young man turns at the voice, and adrenaline-fueled suspicion spurs him to run.
The other man chases after, and follows the young man into an alleyway. He rounds the corner, and stops, faced with an empty alley.
Behind a dumpster, the young man hides from his pursuer. He listens to the footsteps approach, slowly, as their owner searches. He will be discovered, he knows it. His hands fumble through the refuse on the ground, and happen across a loose chunk of concrete. He grasps it, and can feel the familiar rage welling up inside him. Ever since his episode several months ago, he has felt the crave for violence bubbling within him, every day. He holds the feeling, hoping he gets to unleash it.
The other man continues to move cautiously through the alley. As he approaches the edge of a dumpster, the young man he's been pursuing erupts around the corner, yelling and clutching a slab of concrete. Stars fill his vision as a powerful pain blossoms over his head. The stars turn to rolling red-tinged blackness as another source of pain roils through his skull. The blackness overcomes him, and he never feels the rest of the blows. In fact, he never feels anything again.
The young man is standing over the bloodied, pulpy corpse, breathing heavily. He drops the slab of concrete, and runs away.
While the Hand of Silver's first public appearance is successful, and well-known to the world, the failings of that day are never recorded. Records of the murder mysteriously vanish during the following weeks, and the investigation is eventually dropped. The lessons learned by the young man's first experience with such power stay with him for the rest of his life...
Hoss comes out of his reverie, the experience of his first major failure, which was also his first major success, and the lesson of failure which stayed with him his whole life remind him that he is willing to fail if it will eventually bring victory.
He begins to reactivate his peripherals, still conserving most of his power. He stands, and though some time has passed, the mass of Gormand is still nearby, doing... something. Hoss turns away, and sets off towards the edges of the arena, seeking distance from his fellow competitors. What he is about to try is best done in isolation...
Try as he might to focus, Diego's attention was scattered. One part of him was dedicated to obsessing over his regrets up to this point- how he should have been the one to kill Calm, how he'd had many chances to do something, but wasn't confident enough to take them, how as of now, there was not a single instance, a single event or mark that scarred this plane of reality, that screamed "Diego Red was here." He anguished over how inconcequental he had been, dedicate. A large section of thought to that anguish, even though he knew that doing so only hindered his progress.
Progress on what, exactly? He had spent several minutes eyeballing the screens, and had only been able to make out certain figures, possibly the faceless one and the lich, blurred by the shoddy cameras. It was information, and information was power, but was it progress? Did it help him get closer to killing them?
No. Not much at all.
Diego was painfully aware now, after being thrown around by inversions of gravity and having witnessed the birth and death of a sun, that his abilities were neigh useless in comparison to that of his targets. While he could gather information and do a little trickery fairly well, it was exceedingly obvious that the best he could hope for was convincing the others to kill each other, as Diego had no way to commit the murders himself. At this point none of his enemies were even strictly mortal- Diego had little confidence that brutally violating their ears would absolutely do the job. He leaned over on the desk, emotionally deflated.
"Haaaah... Calm was probably my last chance to actually do my damned signiture." He muttered to himself as he glanced back at the screens, eyes gravitating back to the employee section and the strange shape.
"Wait, this is supposed to be just a park..." Diego suddenly remembered the lackadasical Cultivator mentioning. Diego squinted, suddenly unsure of why there was an employee section, or the room that he was in. Although he wasn't from the same relative time, Diego's common sense told him that a simple park for frolicing pets had no need for constant watch, or any employees of any kind. And another thing- the fences in a few screens seemed too thick, too sturdy to just define the park's outlines. Something wasn't quite right.
Diego was feeling the excitement again, the feeling of thoughts flowing in a uniform, cohesive direction. He pushed the ideas that his actions were useless to the back of his head and forced himself to think.
Another thing occured to him- that this place also must have had some sort of history, that the current state of the park was not something that naturally occured. This had been a dog park, else the woman wouldn't have mentioned that being the case- but it's current state suggested a deviation from the idea of a park.
Something had happened.
Diego thought he knew what might have been the cause, too. Shifting his focus to the screen with the figure in it again, he noticed the figure was no longer there.
Panic seized Diego. Instantly, he spread his air sense as far as it would stay sensitive and held still, just waiting to feel something move inside his range with no plans on what to do afterwards.
The slime was only vaguely aware that Konka Rar and Ziirphael were talking or arguing; it didn't take the time to observe them before launching straight into an attack.
The old death god had his back to the approaching slime, so it was Konka Rar who noticed first; his face, such as it was, didn't shift as he loosed several perfunctory laser-blasts towards the slime. Ziirphael was nearly caught by several, and jumped aside, shouting for an explanation; none was necessary as he turned around and saw the green torso hurtling towards him, bristling with teeth and eyes full of fury.
Ekelhaft narrowly avoided most of the salvo and was struck in the side by the penultimate blast; it was aware in a vague sense of the lost mass and the pain that would have accompanied it in a lesser being, but didn't alter its speed or ferocity at all. Raising one of its new "arms", it swiped at the scheming pair despite their distance, sending a barrage of wickedly-serrated teeth and a shower of caustic ooze their way.
Ziirphael beat his wings quickly in an attempt to stave off the oncoming missiles; the droplets of madness were blown easily away, but the weight of teeth kept them from being so easily knocked off course. Rather than lose his fight membranes, he took several teeth to the chest. Hissing inwardly, he spat. "Well, lich, you're the one with all the plans. What now?
So this was the confrontation that Ziirphael had been searching for; him and the lich versus the slime monster. It was unfortunate that it was taking place after the giant had floated off into space and before they were able to find the predator. In retrospect the whole linging the climbing frame to attract attention hadn't been that good an idea. This wasn't exactly the attention that he had been seeking.
Nobody was moving, the bizarre humanoid frame that Ekelhaft had adopted was bubbling and spitting a few paces in front of him and the lich was standing off to the right, behind him the rusted wreckage of the playground. The flesh of his chest stung where Ekelhaft's stray teeth pierced his flesh and he was finding it hard to concentrate around the creature. Ziirphael's grip on his sanity was not the best, after what he had been through with The Cultivator part of his mind was constantly red hot with fury and it was with difficulty that he was supressing it. Ekelhaft's presence wasn't helping. It made him want to give in to the rage, to stop thinking rationally and just kill. Though doing so appealed to his primal nature as a death god, Ziirphael knew it would do little to appease his thirst for revenge, and so he tried to hold on. He has to act quick and do something about Ekelhaft before his mind is swallowed up by the fury. He has an idea, not necessarily a good one but the best he can think of in this situation. He hopes he will be able to hold on long enough to follow it through.
None of the three wanted to make the first move. Any movement from him or the lich would cause Ekelhaft to pounce. They stared at one another like three gunmen caught in a mexican standoff. Ziirphael slowly let his gaze shift, looking at the treeline from where Ekelhaft had emerged. He did this as casually as he could, while still wrestling for control of his own mind. He carefully kept his face as straight as possible, he almost wished that he hadn't been wearing one.
Ekelhaft glanced around for a second and Ziir was off, running towards the playground, his heart pounding and his head throbbing. The slime pursued him, bubbling giddily. Almost immediately Ziirphael stopped and started to spin on Ekelhaft, By this point it was too late to slow down, or turn around. In his hands the battered remnants of a climbing frame, he brought them around hard, slamming them straight through Ekelhaft, rending it into peices.
Avatar by the wonderful Pharmacy~
Calming down as nothing seemed to be coming close to him, Diego rummaged through the room, looking for things he could use. Smashing open a locked drawer, he found a pistol. Of course, he didn't recognize it, exactly, but had a rough idea of it's function. It's mechanisms seemed to be pretty similar to those orient imported weapons that seemed to have grown popular in his world. It's heft excited him, but didn't fill him with much confidence- really, nothing was going to make him confident now. Still, it improved his chances, and that's all that Diego could ask for at the moment. Clipping on the holster, Diego did a last check over the screens as he prepared to leave. It looked like the two figures were moving now, approached by a blob that could only be one contestant.
Diego recalled that the blob had powers to induce... Madness. He was curious, and almost wanted to touch it just to taste that feeling- but knew better. Instead, he hoped someone else would be fearless enough to dive into madness. It would allow Diego to whisper wild, dangerous things into their ears.
Diego laughed at the idea, briefly, and then froze as he exited the building and saw that he was in the heart of the employee section. The place where the figure had been was very close, as well- right next door, actually. Diego spread his air domain a little further, but still kept it relatively tight. If something DID enter his area, he wanted to be able to shift control of the air easily and quickly, although Diego wasn't certain how much help that would be.
Out in the open, Diego wasn't sure where to go. Although he had essentially seen a map of the place, the structures looked similar enough to confuse him. He didn't have clear direction. Part of him, a small part, wanted to go see the building the figure had been kept- the rest of him refused to have anything to do with it. He started towards the entrance to the main park, but immediately stopped himself.
"... I have to go. It's not a matter of confidence. It's an absolute need to fully grasp the situation." Diego told himself.
Yes, he needed to go to the building. There could be clues. There could be something he could use. Having a plan had nothing to do with it. Plans could only be created once a foundation was laid. It didn't matter if it was dangerous or not- it was a risk that he had to take.
Having his arms ready, Diego walked silently towards the building, which was actually a warehouse. It was dark, but he knew that already. Each time he moved he felt slight pangs of fear. He was unused to moving without knowing the reprecussions of each step beforehand, without having the probabilities and the concequences stabilized.
"Silence, Diego. Nothing has yet intruded your territory. Do not fear the unknown, know it."
Know it... Diego had to know it all. Anything less would be folly.
Inside the warehouse, Diego first smelled blood. Then, he smelled fecal matter. Grimancing, he pinched his nose and watched his step. In the one lit area of the warehouse, the one the camera focused on, there were metal restraints laying scattered on the floor, each link larger than his head. Whatever had been held here was large, like he had thought. However, the organic smells told him that the thing was alive, and very much hungry. And, considering he had not noticed it, visually or by feeling it's effect on the air, it was also capable of stealth. Diego's spine went cold, and he smiled fearfully. He had gained the knowledge. Now, he needed to apply it.
A faint wind bothers a few blades of grass. A smile forms on a handless man's face. The breeze swirls around him, grassy tips tracing its path. A commotion in the distance behind him causes him to turn. The smile vanishes. He glances at a thin green rod suspended in a prismatic cylinder of warped space, trepidation pressing at his thoughts. The breeze ceases. A promise made to temporary allies is considered, and discarded.
Hoss turns his back on the battle with Ekelhaft, leaving Konka Rar and Ziirphael to fend for themselves. He is determined to survive, and recognizes that clashing with the ancient madgod is not conducive to that goal.
He instead moves towards the edge of this new arena, intent on examining its boundaries...
Ekelhaft had been taken by surprise. It had rarely faced a threat by a direct attack - usually anyone who came close enough would be overtaken by madness, and the blob would be able to flee or hide.
But Ziirphael, perhaps due to his nature as a god, seemed relatively unaffected by the blob's aura of madness. His desperate strike with the climbing frame had been unexpected. Ekelhaft had found itself forced to divide, and momentarily confused as it sought to reform and counterattack.
As it did, Ziirphael struck it with one of the broken metal poles of the climbing frame. The blob simply continued to reform around it, unaffected by the attack.
However, Konka Rar saw a way to turn the situation to his advantage.
The death-god, reacting quickly, dropped the pole and fled to safety. Konka Rar raised his staff, and fired a bolt of lighting from it directly into the metal pole. The pole crackled, and the electricity was channeled through the reforming Ekelhaft.
The slime-creature recoiled in pain. Though its aura consumed most of the magic, the electric charge traveling through the pole was more difficult to resist. Ekelhaft swiftly extricated its mass from the pole, but the attack had served as enough of a distraction to allow its two opponents to flee.
Ekelhaft began pursuit, then noticed the Hand of Silver fleeing in the opposite direction. It briefly considered which of its foes would be a better target for the moment.