Mountain Dew Quickscoper
Instantly an incredible pain blossomed in Dew's wound, as one might expect, but what came next he could not have anticipated. Every nerve in his body surged with heat and light, causing him to convulse in shock and forget about the blood gushing from his arm. Without any force behind it, the arrowhead sunk deeper, driving itself through flesh, muscle, and finally the humerus, almost bisecting the bone as it burrowed by.
Even before that, however, the agony had melted into a different sensation—one of profound wrongness. Were Dew as knowledgeable about real life weapons and military affairs as he were with virtual ones, he might be aware of the subjects of military equipment tests centered around giant microwave emitters for crowd control. They did not burst into flames, start glowing, or give rise to any visible effect, but the waves washing over them scrambled something inside. Never did the tests last long enough to see what happened next, since try as they might subjects could never stop their bodies from moving out of the waves as soon as they felt them. Restraining subjects for the purpose of determining the effects lasting microwave exposure, meanwhile, stood as cruelly inhumane.
In this moment, however, Dew might understand how people in such a scenario might feel. Every ounce of him squirmed, wanting to retreat from or annihilate itself, even though when he looked at his skin nothing appeared to be wrong. His vision flashed, pitch black and blinding gold, a pressure building in his left eye. It compounded every second, growing stronger and stronger as the arrowhead pushed out the other side of his bicep, until the feathers on the shaft's other end passed through and the arrow was in him no longer. The moment the arrow hit the ground, his eye exploded.
He could hear and feel the fluid blasting from the socket, even if by some merciful twist of fate he could not feel the pain. It splashed against the wall, on the floor, and covered his clothes. A whirling tumult of unidentifiable sensation had gripped his mind, squelching and kneading his brain. The world spun, and he dropped to the ground in a final spurt of viscera.
Then he blinked.
His mind: clear. No pain, no wrongness, no pressure, no confusion. A moment passed before Dew got a hold of himself. Bolting upright from the floor, he looked about in panic. His body, his clothes, the floor...nothing whatsoever seemed amiss. The arrow on the ground, clean as its surroundings, innocuous as a dropped penny. The only trace of anything strange occurring could be found on his bicep: an inch-long scar, long healed over. That, of course, and something weird with his left eye; it took more effort on his part to keep it open.
If he happened upon a mirror, however, he would find something else, something extraordinary, unprecedented, and very much amiss. His left eye, though just as functional as before, was now in its entirety a rich, oily black, and where the iris and pupil once were there appeared to be a two-dimensional golden coin emblazoned with a skull.
The Cereal Killer
Restrained by the pirate and his fox-eared comrade, Cyril's thrashing died down quickly. While he might have possessed the strength to throw one or both off before, he was already almost wheezing from the effort of token resistance, and in a moment his struggling ceased. The knight's breathing slowed, growing less labored and more regular, as he stared at the far-off highrises against the early sky. His eyes gradually adjusted, though their glaze did not fade completely.
Even so, some time passed before betrayed any figment of conscious action. His muscles finally relaxed, and after another few seconds, he met Runch's gaze. Though awake for the moment, he remained weak, his tenuous grip on consciousness poised to loosen at any moment. Speaking took a disproportionate effort, but speak he did.
“Uggghhh...thah feeling. So sharp i's ma' me focus. Bih...bitter failure.” Cyril ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth as if to chase away its numbness. “Shou...shoulda know ya wouldn' let...me die.” His eyes drifted closed again, his face creasing into a angry frown, though not one directed at Runch. “I...I saw. En'less dark...millions of...of lights.” His voice dropped to a whisper as his neck's muscles began to go slack. “They wanned...me.” Before he could say more, his head lolled to the side, and Cyril was unconscious once more.
Location: What Lies Beneath
The moment Lily said 'anyway' the trio was roused to alertness, extending their attention to the kitsune in turn. They listened to Brucie as he made mention of his companion's abilities, with Marotte in particular taking note of the way Lily acted in response to him. Though he shark did not say anything that Lily failed to repeat in greater detail a moment later, he did tell the perceptive jester something in particular that could be useful later on.
Either way, the monsters' temporary captain proceeded to reveal her own abilities, then to size them up, summarizing their specialties as best she knew. Out of all of them, only I.O. acknowledged her description with an affirming nod. Their focus did not waver as she launched into a final explanation of the tournament's current state, noting that the metal machine, newly repaired by Serval, would serve as a guide to their next encounter. Lily's battle plan received their collective approval, made known through a series of nods at its conclusion. I.O., however, reached up to scratch his little head after being confronted with her policy on killing. “Hm. I see. My control is not the best, so I will focus on defense,” he declared.
The others kept their silence, thinking about Lily and her plan. Neither Egon nor Marotte believed that she shared her full capabilities given her distrustful attitude, status as a self-proclaimed trickster, and a certain shred of information picked up by an informant last night. However, they could work well enough with what she did say, so neither planned on complaining. When Lily offered the cinderghast an intricate miniature globe, he took it and held it up with one hand. “Appraise Item,” he growled, and the object gave a brief orange flash. A moment later, he tossed it up to levitate a few feet in the air, saying, “Sophisticated mapping device, likely for the city. Nonmagical. Should be able to project the map.” Putting his ash-gray hands together, he pantomimed opening some complex mechanism, and the orb twitched violently. After a few seconds a click issue from it, and all across its surface lines shone bright green. A large, three-dimensional projection of the City Echoes formed a moment later, made seemingly from light itself. The entire cityscape appeared, though only the surface; a brilliant singularity, probably meant to represent the globe itself, hung in unmarked space beneath the thickest, tallest section of the metropolis.
Marotte peered at the holographic assemblage of skyscrapers with unmasked curiosity. "͞Wh̴at ̶a ̡fu̶n̛ lit̕t̀l͠e͟ ͜toy̵. Usef͡u͡l ͝t͡o̴o, evȩn͢ ̧i̷f it͠ ͢show҉s only ͏ou͝r̛ p͜os̡itíon͢." He turned the eyeless slits in his false face across the rocky barrens and distant fungal forest, where morning sunlight streamed down through the enormous hole by through which Deadbeat Sky had come. “I͘f ͟al̶l i͡s ͢s̀or̵te̴d ͞oùt, and ͏w̡e̵ ̸ha͟ve҉ our̶ goal,͞ w̕e͜ c͘an d͠ep̀árt ̴for̶ ͜th̀e͟ ̨s͜u͏rface̵.̡”̢ Reaching over, he tapped I.O.'s enormous armored gauntlet, more for the noise than the utterly insignificant impact of his finger. "You̶'͞ll͠ ̴f̛ly u̕s̸,̧ ýes? I̡f ̢n͡ot҉, ̸i͠t̨'s a̢ r̶athe͡ŕ d͝àu̧nt͢i̧ng͞ climb." In response the giant gave an emphatic nod, eager to be of service. The great shield on his back, it seemed, was in fact an immense wing-case, fittingly beetle-like. It beggared belief that a creature so huge, heavy, and unwieldy could take to the skies, but I.O. appeared nothing if not confident in his ability to provide for his allies.
“Good morning!” A sudden and familiar voice boomed. The squad turned to see a streak of gray headed their direction, swooping down toward the cavern floor from a room high atop the birdback cathedral. Carreau spread his wings to slow his descend as he approached, coming to a stop a few meters off the ground near his formidable insect companion. His crested helmet masked his fluffy feathers and golden eyes, but since he needed to turn his whole head to look, all present could see him cycling his attention between them. “So! It looks like you've all made your introductions. Good morning to you in particular, Marotte. Your tireless efforts exploring the city have been invaluable, and I'm glad no ill fortune confronted you in your travels.” He clapped his gloved hands together. “This here is a killer team. I will look forward to seeing you all in action.” Were his helmet not on, Lily might have seen the wink directed at her. “Not killing, of course, hahah.” After that, he seemed to have nothing else to say, so an awkward pause hung in the still cavern air alongside him.