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2 mos ago
Current The world is full of obvious things.
3 yrs ago
I want to see things - that no one else can see

Bio

Current GM of World of Light. When it comes to writing, there's nothing I love more than imagination, engagement, and commitment. I'm always open to talk, suggestion, criticism, and collaboration. While I try to be as obliging, helpful, and courteous as possible, I have very little sympathy for ghosts and liars. Just be straightforward with me, alright? I know better than to take things personally or too seriously.

Looking for more personal details? I'm just some dude from the American south; software development is my job but games, writing, and helping others enjoy life are great joys. Been RPing for over a decade, so I know a thing or two, though I won't pretend to be an expert. Ready for some fun? Let's make something spectacular together.

Most Recent Posts

It looks like Gromgard's going to be slapping them with whips. Just as effective, I suppose, though maybe not as interesting as what might happen in one of Graft's operating rooms.
Organization XIII Gneidxick

Location: Devil's Casino, Inkwell Island





Gneidxick sneered in displeasure as the Courier befouled his table, though the expression did not linger. Instead of running off to play, the gross man started talking. At least it looked like he understood his predicament, that he wasn't going anywhere without rolling some dice, but evidently 6 wanted to up the ante.

“Ohh, mmm, hmhmhmhm,” the sleazy manager snickered while Courier paused to take a drink. “A kindred spirit, eh? Now we're talkin'.” As interested as the words made him sound, he spoke without real enthusiasm. Perhaps the Courier was the bigger high-roller after all.

6 proceeded to state his proposal, wagering the spirits of his entire crew against all the information Gneidxick could must, plus his own spirit, much to the astonishment of Tora, Poppi, and the others. He extended a gunk-soaked hand to shake on it, but Gneidxick's was up twisting the end of his pencil 'stache in contemplation. Without a hood to hide his face his features were plain to see, and he looked conflicted. “Hmmm...temptin', temptin'. That's sure somethin' I'd do, ain't it...?”

His brows furrowed and his hand went still. Already, cracks were forming in the Courier's plan. This wasn't some thrill-seeking lunatic who'd bet it all just for the rush. He was thinking it over, weighing losses and gains. Worse still, Gneidxick displayed no hint of want when 6 mentioned the heroes' spirits. After a moment, he clapped his hands down on the table. “But things're different here. What's your grift, huh? I ain't jingle-brained. If ya knocked off the Brach without losin' a soul, my guns ain't hard enough to do it, either. An' finger my cohorts if I lose? That ain't gonna fly.” He put his hands on his hips. “I don't like them odds, bo. An' I play to win.”

For no particular reason he followed his speech up with a chuckle. “An' even if I didn't, I don't want your grubby li'l spirits. Jus' a few black eyes. So go climb up your thumb.” A playing card appeared in his hand, and with an expert's precision he slid it across the table. It went right under the Courier, sweeping him off his feet and onto the card, before flying into one of the portals.

6 emerged onto another large table, this one covered by an immaculately white satin sheet. A quick look around made him out to be in a dining area of the casino, with giant demons, ghouls, and a few people exchanging conversation over food. Directly opposite him, however, stood three oversized glasses of liquor, unruly and ready for a swell battle.
Like clockwork, Kath took Graft's prompt and let loose the floodgates. At once she began a nonstop torrent of description, relaying every pertinent detail and an abundance of irrelevant ones. If the rabbit she described typically inhabited wild areas, any facsimiles endowed with Salem's eyes would be out of place in a civilized setting, thereby being useless for the Director's purpose and good for little more than biomass. Admittedly Graft needed a lot of it for everything he had in mind, but in business efficiency was everything. No point in taking pains chasing after little rewards when better resources could be found elsewhere. So Graft attempted to steer the conversation toward fauna Kath might have spotted while in the village, creatures equivalent to the rats, pigeons, and other such tolerated vermin of Yggdrasil. It took the patient, dedicated effort of redirecting a raging river, but he managed to get her on track. After a few more minutes it seemed to Graft that the stream of information had devolved to more of a circular whirlpool, going nowhere and devouring his time, so he chose to cut it off. “Alright, that should suffice. Thank you for your cooperation.” He paused for a moment to hear her offer, smiling. “Ah, I would greatly appreciate that. Have a pleasant journey. Farewell.”

Going quiet, he made to dispel the Open Line, but on a spur of the moment impulse decided to leave it open. Almost immediately he heard the recognizable voice of Ashara. From the exchange that followed between her and Kath, he garnered that there had been some sort of unwelcome presence about. The way they talked about it, specifically its aura, made it seem significant. To hear uncertainty and a little alarm in the tones of beings whose strength rivaled Graft's own was disconcerting. “Such power not only exists here, but reared its head so soon after our arrival?” he murmured to himself, his end of the Open Line muted. His duty to ensure the success and safety of Chateau Gothika demanded that he treat any potential threat with utmost seriousness, and this event kickstarted an explosion of possibilities in his mind. It could be that the region the Chateau appeared in was under the watch of some sort of authority, and that already eyes and ears hastened the guild's way to gather information about the intruding anomaly.

An unlikely possibility, to be sure, but Graft could not afford to brush it aside. As one of if not the most intelligent denizens of the Chateau he harbored a responsibility to explore possibilities that others couldn't so much as dream of. That was what it meant to be the Director. The Overseer of Operations. He should be the one standing at Rodias' right-hand, not that trigger-happy flibbertigibbet.

Of course, to prove it he needed results. Until now, he'd been tinkering and experimenting out of his own passion, filling time while he waited for the data he needed to accomplish the task given to him. But now he felt fire flooding through his veins, the drive to achieve a higher station and be able to accomplish more. The drive to be recognized, appreciated, and rewarded. Graft bent to his work, and his genius began to flow.

The machine of industry whirred to life once again. Graft barked orders as he labored at his table. His manufactories received new schematics and configurations, groaning and grinding into action, and deliveries started to pile up at his tableside. He sank deeply into his table's interface, moving its myriad arms as extensions of his body. Filaments and pincers smaller than a grain of rice manipulated flesh and technology on a minute level. Tissue and bone, muscle and nerve. Artery, organ, tooth, and claw. Circuit, diode, coil, transistor. He pulled apart, stitched together, and made new. A picture lay in his mind, clear as day, and like the sculptor freeing his vision from the block of stone he worked steadily to bring what he imagined into reality. Graft was in the zone. When speech came through the Open Line attached to Kath, he listened without breaking his focus.

All the while, his dutiful guards patrolled the Chateau's entrance and the various floors, watching in eerie silence. They knew not to delve too deeply into Enderall, but what little they saw they stored neatly away.




At last, Graft pulled his claws free from the table. They gave resistance, shlorping wetly as he pried free of the connecting neuron-filled tendons that had sunk into his nanoflesh and joined him to the table to make one organism. He sighed in contentment, looking out over the smorgasbord he'd created. An Open Line connected him to his assistant. “Papillary, bring me some food and water. Prepare to show me what you've achieved with Tabula.”

A few minutes later her assistant found him reclining at his desk in his office. She approached quickly, placing the trey on his desk. Behind her, following her like a shadow, was the nightgaunt. Something seemed different about her. As he picked up and bit into his sandwich, trying not to accidentally catch mustache-hairs in his mouth in his hunger, Graft affixed her with the gaze of his mask's special lenses. Just one of his many achievements, it sported updated firmware able to run diagnostics like his operating table, taking stock of a target's attributes to return fairly accurate approximations of level, HP, and MP. With more testing and fine-tuning it could improve a lot, but he knew that a better option would be to procure enchantments from Oz. A visit to her domain occupied a lofty position on his massive mental life of things to do.

Then again, why go in person? He held up a finger to his visitors to tell them to hold on, swallowed his sandwich, then created an Open Line to Oz. “Hello? Hello? Oz? This is Director Graft. I'd like to place an order. Two glass lenses, an inch and a half in diameter, both enchanted. The enchantments I desire are Life Essence, Mana Essence, and Statistic Essence. We can discuss compensation at your leisure. I will send a Supervisor to pick up the items once they are ready.” A few moments later the Line went out, and Graft turned his attention to the others.

Even without the reliability of magic made for the purpose, he could get a pretty good idea of Tabula's status. Data from the mask flowed through his skin and into his mind, allowing him to guess her growth. Ten levels, he concluded, frankly amazed. Her health and mana had increased substantially. Of course, he'd enhanced her growth rate, and his setup for giving her experience was basically cheating—a higher-level Guard with its mental state switched to hostile but its body physically inhibited so that it couldn't fight back made for easy and bountiful experience. But this was a revelation. It was possible for those other than Supreme Beings to grow like they did. Entities not born, but made.

He rose and approached her, feeling her arms. Where before there had been nothing, he could tell there now existed some muscle, and his knowledge of biology told him which it was. Not the lean sort that lent itself to Dexterity, but the thicker sort indicative of Strength. “What weapon did you give her?” he asked Papillary.

“Um!” the assistant bubbled. “We didn't have any melee weapons lying around, and she couldn't figure out how to use one of the Guard's guns, so I gave her one of their gas tanks.”

“I see. Was there any change to her behavior?”

Papillary nodded. “She started out completely blank, just mindlessly doing what she was told. However, as she kept smashing Guards, she...well, got more into it. Enthusiastic, even.”

Graft thought about that. It explained the subtle differences in Tabula's manner from her arrival. When he touched her, she had jerked a way a little, as if angry. “Of course. Starting with a blank slate, her character is molded by her experience. If violence is all she knows, violence is who she is. If her opponents do not resist, she will acquire a taste for beating on the helpless.” Now that would be ironic. Graft started rethinking his strategy. He did not want to make her into a killing machine. A far more impressive and revolutionary achievement would be to cultivate a sophisticated, intelligent individual. He considered what role she could play in the Factory, and the Chateau. A dark knight, maybe? A lady berserker? An elegant assassin? A malignant caster?

An idea came to him, and he knew in an instant it was the right one. Ambitious, risky, maybe impossible. But all the more glorious for it. If he could do this, he could do anything.

Graft thought about how to approach Tabula. She stood before him, tired and sore, addled into agitation by combat, maybe resentful. She stood at a fork in the road, and he needed to guide her the right way. What would Rodias do? Well, he could guess. Graft stepped forward, put his arms out, and pulled the woman into a close embrace.

“Please forgive me,” he said. “I thought that I could just build you up, not thinking about how it would affect you. You will not turn out the same as your creator. Not lonesome, spiteful, distant, and brutal. Instead you will be righteous. Strong, but deliberate, and kind to allies, working for the good of the guild. A Paladin, and then a Bishop. We will train you in Faith in addition to Strength from now on, and in less cruel ways. It will be tough, but it won't be suffering, and it will be worth it. You will soar on those black wings of yours.”

Tabula was confused. It was an information overload. But she felt Graft's warmth, and his intentions. With nothing to go on but his actions, she chose to squeeze him back. Pleased Graft let her go and stepped back, hurrying to make preparations for his grand presentation. Papillary, wrestling with feelings of jealousy, asked him, “Sir, if we're going to train her in Faith as a Paladin, won't she need some god to believe in?”

“Of course!” Graft exclaimed. He extended a single claw, pointing upward. “She will worship the same god I do, the one true deity that governs all, orchestrating the movements of nations, forcing hands and filling minds to the point of obsession.” An unsettling, wide grin dominated his features. “Profit!”

He then hurried to make the last of the preparations. “Tabula, drop by the lab,” he said at one point. “I made something for you in particular. The first and only of its kind. An easy task by my standards, but anything is more presentable than what you have on. I hope you enjoy it.”

One last task awaited Graft before departure. A number of Guards had assembled in front of his lab. Standing before them, he extended his tentacles to plug into their skulls. For a technoorganism, memories were ultimately mere fluctuations in the brain, data that could be accessed if housed in the right medium. In a matter of moments he assimilated the visual and auditory data accumulated during their patrols, adding their memories to his own. "Interesting." Over the course of the trip, Graft mulled it over.




Some time later, after Rodias had awoken from his night's repose and found a Guard at his door requesting a meeting, the doors to the Final Chapter opened wide. In marched Director Graft, flanked on either side by Papillary and Tabula. Behind him marched three ranks of Guards, all of them carrying something, with a few of them working together to carry larger items. Rubbery veils covered them all, keeping the various items hidden from view.

After nearing Rodias, Graft and his aides knelt. “Good day to you, sir,” he said. “I am pleased to say that after many hours' slavish work in my laboratory through the night, I have accomplished not just your task, but a number of other things besides. It was obvious to me that the assignment you gave me, so simple and mundane, was really a test to see how far above and beyond I could push myself. Just the sort of thing one might expect from a true overlord. I can only hope that I met your expectations.” Head bowed, he gestured at the Guards behind him. “I have for you an array of prototypes, projects, and proposals, awaiting your inspection and approval. Shall I begin the presentation?”
Artemisia

Alymere Fort Interior




Her sorcery came through just in time. Artemisia gasped as her enemy's glancing blow left a small tear and a light cut in her robe, but the trade went far worse for the bandit. Her destructive energy rocked his world, leaving him barely able to stagger to his feet, and before he could go about paying the dark mage back, an ally blocked the way. With his focus divided and his adrenaline frustrated, the vagabond proved easy prey for a quick Mire that bubbled to life around him, a miniature storm of caustic toxins.

With that sorted out, just one foe remained. Before moving on Artemisia muttered a quick, yet still over-elaborate thanks to Hadrick. “I am grateful your succor arrived at such a fortuitous moment.” Starting to feel the fatigue of depletion owing to her many spells used, Artemisia nevertheless prepared to advance. Alnard and Einer dispatched the last brigand, which left the way clear for her force to proceed. She let out a hearty breath, appreciative of even a quick reprieve. Unlike these trained soldiers, she didn't possess the stamina to just keep wading on through battle.

The clatter of hooves heralded the arrival of Kyran, no doubt having fought through a similar situation near the fort's proper entrance. He seemed ready to proceed, pausing only to ask the plan. Artemisia gave a blank look, not exactly sure herself. Following wherever the prince went seemed like a good option. She rubbed at the cut on her shoulder, waiting for whatever came next while Einar offered his view on the group's position. While she did not particularly appreciate phrasing her magnificent, ancient magical arts as harassment, she felt confident she could obliterate anyone who found a way past the front lines, even if a little winded.

Soon enough, Artemisia heard the tramp of hasty feet and the shouts of rough voices, the bandits' reckless behavior indicative of their mounting desperation. A few bodies on the floor, a couple feet of hole in the wall, and their shoddy plans had gone to hell. The dark mage grinned, feeling magic coursing through her. “Our victory is certain. Let us seal the deal.”

__________________________
Status: At the ready
Class: Occultist
Inv: Vulnerary, Book of Secrets

A note for everyone in the Land of Adventure: Gniedxick's game is not mandatory. If you have other stuff you'd like your character to do, feel free to abstain. However, those who do participate can request fighting any of Gniedxick's minions in particular. They include the Tipsy Troop, Chips Bettigan the cowboy stack, Hopus Pocus the magic rabbit, Phear Lap the skeletal racehorse, Mr. Wheezy the cigar, Pip and Dot the domino, Pirouletta the roulette wheel, Mangosteen the 8 ball, and Mr. Chimes the toy monkey. In addition, Pokemon and strikers do not count for the 3 allowed challengers per minion, provided the Pokemon are in their pokeballs.
Well, after much work, here is my sheet. I hope it' alright.

Lumbridge

Level 6 Tora - (8/60) EXP and Level 5 Poppi - (16/50) EXP
Location: the Land of Adventure
Word Count: 1489


Down the road from the guild hall, the area surrounding Blazermate's teleporter had become quite the center of attention. Three total strangers, looking harrowed and smelling funny, were being attended to in close proximity to the device. Shortly after his arrival on the scene, the Houndmaster had observed his trusty wolfhound balking at the odor coming off the survivors and ordered that nobody get too close. During his time venturing through the perilous bowels of castle, warren, weald, and cove in preparation for assaulting the Darkest Dungeon, the lawmen encountered no shortage of blights, poisons, and plagues, and the villagers had heard enough vague but horrifying recollections to trust his insight in such matters. Visitors could talk to them, however, and that was just what they did.

The oldest of the escapees, an animate coin with arms and legs, treated any inquirers to an endless tirade that fluctuated between rattled recounting of events and ornery complaints. Cooper Chance, spurred on either by adrenaline or stress, babbled excitedly. Feng Min, who looked the worst for wear but somehow seemed the least mentally affected, did her best to explain to the Houndmaster and the others what happened, but there was a problem. When Linkle dropped by to ask about her friends, the survivor shared what little she could. “I'm sorry, but I was barely with anyone else. I...I was trapped in a different nightmare, a pocket dimension or something, until this kid in a mask rescued me and Dwight. Then we were in a big hall in this museum place with a bunch of people.” She paused a moment, trying to remember. “I...saw the bear, and the robot girl, but nobody else you mentioned. A giant horde of zombies was attacking, and everyone was going crazy. The police chief picked me to get on the teleporter first, but...” she glanced at the machine, motionless and nonoperational. “Something must have happened to stop the others.”

Her voice shook for the first time as she finished speaking, dreading the thought that she could help but entertain: that everyone else, including Dwight, who'd been through hell alongside her, was dead.




“Broggypon look...cagey,” Tora observed.

Poppi nodded, frowning. She and her masterpon sat on opposite sides of a small, circular table, and on the table stood the little creature that had been encapsulated in her pokeball for almost a whole day. Though small in stature, the Croagunk managed to be imposing in temper, treating the pair with nasty, distrustful looks after its initial rage wore off. The purplish marks on Poppi's unliving face and Tora's mech arm, hastily used as a shield, stood as testament to the little guy's fury. For her part, Poppi didn't quite understand the problem, since she figured that it couldn't have possibly been starving or dehydrated in that time. While no expert on pets himself, Tora took up the task of explaining.

“Erm...well, it like this,” he began, his voice prompting the Croagunk to turn on him. “Animals not like machine, which give good results so long as fueled properly. They need affection, exercise, stimulation,” he listed off the points using his wing-feathers to count. Since they stopped at three, so did his list. “Tora not know how little ball work, meh, but quite possible little Brog been bored, cramped, and alone for many hours.” Saying it aloud, the Nopon couldn't help but feel sorry for the little guy. With how busy he'd been with the karts at the time, he actually had no idea that Poppi went and caught herself a pet. The idea that she kept something from him didn't sit well with him, but Tora put that feeling aside for later.

The news made Poppi's face fall. “...Oh.” After a moment she stood up, drawing the Croagunk's attention. “Poppi is very sorry, brog. Not know enough about animals to take care of Croagunk.” As the pokemon watched, she moved toward the guild hall's door and opened it. “If brog want to leave, brog can. Poppi understand. But if brog stay, Poppi will do much better!” Brows furrowed, she nodded in a determined way.

For its part, the Croagunk looked unconvinced. It shot Tora a sketchy look, but for the moment did not move. Tora took that as a good sign and produced his last Tasty Sausage from his pocket. “Here!” he said, unwrapping the dried meat and offering it to the pokemon. “Tora love Tasty Sausage! So yummy-yummy! But because of that, Tora giving it very meaningful, meh!” Skirting away from his wing, the Croagunk refused to take it, so Tora laid it down on the table. Poppi reached the table and watched with intense eyes. The Croagunk huffed and turned up its nose, only for its belly to rumble, crying out for sustenance. At first the pokemon tried to pretend it didn't happen, but after a moment it hung its head, sheepish, and took the food to eat. Tora smiled ear to ear and clapped Poppi on the shoulder, who looked overjoyed. Even if she and her Croagunk didn't get along yet, there seemed to be a chance to make up for her ignorance and become friends.

Someone barged in through the open door, prompting the three to look. None other than Courier swaggered in, flanked by a bulky machine riding high on one tire. “Ooh,” Tora said appreciatively, assuming the robot to be the gunslinger's own creation. Of course, with that inelegant chassis and rudimentary framework it was nothing compared to his Poppi, but something about it prevented him looking away in disinterest. The face plastered on its screen seemed awfully familiar, but Tora couldn't remember a name or anything. Someone he'd seen for a short time, perhaps, to whom he was never really introduced. 6 gave an introduction now, but it didn't ring a bell, so all Tora said was, “Drinking in morning not healthy, but par for the course for druggypon, meh.”

Another commotion brought the trio's attention over to Bowser, who'd just made a show of slamming down a jar full of colorful spirits onto a table in front of where the guildmaster and Peach seemed to be talking. In a twist of irony he was coming to her rescue, both offering the proof the smarmy guildmaster asked for and trying to impress her. For his efforts he earned a snicker when he needed a reminder from his own kid to properly showcase the Brachydios spirit. He made a bit of a mess retrieving it too, allowing the others to pick over the selection.



Still, regardless of its clumsy delivery, the monster's remnant was just what the doctor ordered. The sight of it struck the guildmaster dumb for a moment, but after the Ace Cadet egged him on, the dam broke and he smacked his palm with a fist. “Drat!” he muttered, fuming. “Double drat! Why, I oughta...”

All of a sudden his anger evaporated as if it had all been an act. Clearing his throat, he stood up straight, placed his hands on his hips and looked between the assembled heroes, all watching him. "Well, lookee here! You seekers actually pulled it off...but you made me lose a bet!! And for that, you ain't seein' the big cheese just yet. We're gonna play a little game first!"

The guildmaster grabbed his collar and pulled. His coat came off in one motion, impossibly smooth, and leaving him a silhouette surrounded in darkness. He whirled the coat around himself, wrapping it up before clapping it between his hands. When he held his fingers up, a pitch-black coin lay nestled between two of them. Using his thumb he flipped it into the air, and when it hit the ground, it expanded into a huge black circle that covered a wide section of floor. Bowser, Junior, Peach, the Courier, Gaige-tron, Tora, Poppi, the Croagunk, Ace Cadet, Hat Kid, and Geralt were all above it. The next thing they knew they were falling, plummeting down, down down through infinite darkness.

Then came bright lights, and a moment later the falling heroes hit something soft and green. Tora hit it face-first and bounced, confused and alarmed but unharmed. “Mehmehmeeeeh!” he wailed, bouncing one more time before coming to a stop. Poppi, having used her boosters to land, would have rushed to help him up if she wasn't utterly amazed.



Carpet, nylon, booze, smoke, and sweat. Suits, cigars, chips, and cards. The heroes appeared to be an utterly enormous casino, so gigantic that what they might have mistakenly thought to be grass was in actuality the surface of an immense poker table. Stranger than the casino, however, were its occupants. Instead of people, a throng of well-dressed skeletons and demons patronized the place, jostling and chatting as they filled themselves with liquor and fumes and thoughts of winning it big as they tried their luck at slots, craps, roulette, blackjack, poker, and baccarat. Worse still, while nobody seemed injured by the fall, a quick look upward would be just in time to catch the hole they came through closing up as though it never existed.

An ugly laugh resounded from one side of the table. A figure rose from behind a board game, the last of the darkness draining away from his body to reveal the guildmaster's true form.

A lanky man in a tacky purple suit towered before them, but instead of a head a die rested on his shoulders, and its front bore leering seafoam-green eyes and a villainous grin. He slid a deck of cards from his sleeve to perform a card trick, flitting them back and forth between his hands. “Nahahahaha! Well now, how d'you do down there? The name's Gneidxick. Things're different in this world, but I'm still the devil's right hand man.” He clapped his hands together, crushing the cards into a pink die that hovered just above the table, spinning. “Lemme introduce you to my friends. Rough 'em up and you can roll for points. Get ten, you win. Keel over, you lose!” He laughed again, eyes gleaming. “Let's open the game!”

Around the edges of the giant table, ten oversized poker chips rose up to become portals. On their other sides lay a diverse assortment of arenas, and various enemies waiting within.

All bets are off! Gneidxick is untargetable until his game is won, and he's pitting the heroes against his gallery of minions. The portals to their arenas will close after admitting three challengers. While the heroes can't escape Gneidxick's casino, reinforcements can arrive through the portable hole still present in the guild hall.


Ratchet and Death

Location: Lounge, RCPD, Dead Zone


A bonk on the head from Ratchet's wrench left the fire-spitting pyrobat dazed, which meant easy pickings for Death's scythe. That left only the red arremer, who looked more put out than angry or afraid. Unlike the myriad zombies and demons assaulting the police station, this monster did not seem hellbent on the heroes' deaths. In fact, Firebrand felt like his parade has been rained on. With his playmates down and these two a little too combat-capable to be any fun, Firebrand decided he could get his kicks elsewhere. He spat out a few well-aimed fireballs to get Ratchet and Death dancing, then flew backward out of the ruined lounge with a burst of mocking cackles. The next moment, he was gone, and with the horde overrunning the RCPD, the heroes needed to beat it, too.

As Firebrand took to the darkened sky, he could get a good view of the dilemma facing the police station. Survivors and fighters poured of the backside, a tight-knit group moving quickly, while a staggering abundance of monsters smashed into the station's front, a ravenous, malevolent tsunami. Two more arremers rose from the throng to join him, and together the trio took off after the interesting group. Firebrand was excited. It'd been so long since he'd crossed paths with real, living people. While an endless sort of fun, they also provided a potential path out of here and back to the Demon Village. If they got killed, that was that, but he was interested to see how this struggle turned out.

Jak and Daxter

Location: First floor east side, RCPD, Dead Zone


As electrifying as his performance was, Eddie's rhythmic devastation did not help his allies still inside the station. Worse still, he quickly found himself taking on far greater numbers than he expected. He'd assumed only a contingent coming around the police station from this angle, but like a crashing wave the gigantic horde seemed to spill around the station front, no doubt bottlenecked at the main entrance by those still in the main hall. His righteous lightning fried wave after wave of undead and low-level demons, but the tide showed no sign of stopping. As his fingers got sore from his furious playing, Eddie started backtracking toward the window. He needed to pull back.

Just a feet feet away, on the other side of the station wall, Jak recognized the quickly deteriorating situation himself and called upon the darkness. A roiling energy ball of dark eco blossomed to life between his palms, and with a bellow he hurled it through the incoming zombies to blast apart the wall and reveal another avenue of escape. A moment later a rain-soaked Eddie flopped through the window and rose to his feet, bleeding from the broken glass. “Too many. Let's blow this joint!”

The group started to move, but the wraith had other ideas. Having been floating behind the survivors, wary of the new arrivals, she seized the perfect chance to act. As the four ran for Jak's improvised exit, the wraith swooped forward toward Tess. It happened in an instant; Jones and Eddie spotted it in time to witness, but not to prevent. The cruelly hooked, heavy silver gleamed hungrily as it flashed through the weak light. Tess screamed as the blade cleaved through, not just lopping off an arm at the elbow but cleaving straight through her torso as well. Her lower and upper halves hit the floor in a murky pool, and Jones ground his teeth. “No!” he growled, reaching into his coat. He withdrew a heavy-barreled revolver of exotic make, leveled it at the wraith, and fired.

A thunderous rapport and withering flash signaled the annihilation of the wraith's head. With a spectral shriek her ghostly body faded away, leaving a spirit behind. All around zombies were incoming, swarming like piranhas. Jones moved with uncanny composure and grace, sliding forward to grab the spirit as it floated softly to the floor. He span around, took a step, and knelt to jam it into Tess's chest. A brilliant, prismatic light burst to life inside the infested corridor, pushing the horde back for just a moment. Jones looked down into the light, watching Tess's face disappear into formless radiance. “I hope you'll forgive me,” he murmured before standing, his face grim. Another couple second's hesitation and he'd be overrun. Without looking back he ran after the others, stuffing the unusual pistol back into his coat as he went. Behind him, unseen, the dying woman changed, becoming something altogether different. For better or worse, Jones knew, she would remain.

Nero

Location: Sundered Market Avenue, Dead Zone


Hearts pounded, and heavy breaths tore through ragged throats. The cluster of fighters and survivors paused for a brief time while its leadership discussed which route to take, making use of every second to try and recuperate some stamina. Every single one of them knew that the horde could not be far behind. Only one person kept running: Nero, who made a beeline for a nearby phone booth. What could ever be important enough to warrant a phone call in this situation, few could guess.

The debate itself was very brief. Blazermate and Donnie recommended the left, and with every second on the clock counting, Howard agreed immediately. “Alright, we'll do that. No sense tangling with Chimeras, not with a group this size.” Kazooie took the opportunity to announce -with an understandably coarse undertone, given the circumstances- that she and her partner would be taking the middle route, which would get them to the tower first. While he hadn't seen those wings in action, Howard wagered that they'd protect the pair from falling, but the same couldn't be said for the survivors. An overly-strong gust of wind, or a sudden attack by flying demons or chimeras, could spell messy ends for anyone too intrepid for their own good.

Jill approached him next with troubling news, the look on her face telling the police captain that a few more moments were necessary to share it. “Sir. We lost four civilians in the escape, the Black Mage, and the masked kid. There's also no sign of Olivia or the new guy she was with.”

Howard exhaled. The weight of lost lives hung around his heart like leaden chains. “We'll have to mourn them later. We gotta move. Everyone!” he raised his voice to address the crowd. “We're going left! Stay close and move fast. We're almost to safety!” His strong heart was cold with fear. Even if everyone made it to the tower, would it be the haven he described it as? It could be inaccessible, or worse, defended. Maybe it had automated defenses. Maybe the 'big guy' fox mentioned would rip and tear the survivors limb from limb. Maybe it was full of more monsters. I don't know a damn thing, he agonized. Was he driving these people toward their deaths?

An uproar from down the street forced him to look back. The horde was coming. Its interminable mass filled the street, just a couple thousand feet away. He shook his head and bellowed, “GO!” Anything could be waiting at the tower, but death itself was lurching the survivors' way. Anything was better than that. He led the charge as the group swerved left, headed for the infested left side of the sundered market avenue. His Legion manifested beside him, and when the undead came his way it cleft them into pieces with its immense axe. If Blazermate held true to her word, she could at least neutralize most of their undead attackers, allowing fighters to take them out with little effort and keep the survivors moving.

Nero drew up alongside Howard, firing his Blue Rose at any zombies that drew too close. His demonic bullets tore them apart, allowing him to converse with the captain remarkably casually. “Cheer up, old man. Things could be worse, huh?”

“People have died,” Howard growled through gritted teeth. He delivered a horizontal swipe to a zombie with the blunt edge of his heavy gladius, which shattered its bones and left it lying in a malodorous heap. He looked back and winced. The horde was gaining. Those in the back would not survive. “A kid has died. Your friend!”

The devil hunter shook his head. He took aim at a flood combat form, then adjusted it to hit a nearby streetlamp. Two bullets glanced off the metal and hit the flood from the opposite side, knocking it into a trash can. As he ran by Nero swung at it with the revved Red Queen, setting the contents ablaze. “Emergency pickup. I know someone.”

There came a terrific series of crunches and impacts from behind. A look back would turn up a familiar van plowing through the left wing of the pursuing horde, pulverizing undead beneath its fender and tires. Even from this distance the survivors could see the wide, white smile of the woman behind the wheel, and inside the van beside her were Joker, and Olivia. Zombies clung to the van, and demons lashed out it with claw and spell, but it shook off them all. “Woooooohoo!” Nico cried, breaking free of the horde and streaking toward the survivors with wet tires.

A few moments later she pulled up alongside the rearmost survivors, and slowed down, her doors flung open. Inside, Gene was ready to help people in. “Come on, come on!” he urged, and they came. The overweight, hat-wearing dragon climbed on top of the van instead, but Nico's vehicle bore the burden without complaint. Snarling and gnashing, the horde bore down upon the van, but the last civilian piled in and Nico hit the gas just in time for the frontrunner demon's claws to close around nothing but air. She accelerated toward the tower, maneuvering around the rest of the survivors and pancaking more zombies. The van would reach the tower first, but the runners were still vulnerable. More attacks came from the side, and the horde was never far behind. If the fighters could slow down the horde and fend off the attackers, it suddenly seemed possible that everyone could make it. One final stretch.
I'd be down for this.
@Stekkmen, @Majoras End, I'll be holding off the next update until Wednesday due to <50% posting over the week, but I thought I'd remind you that while things will have to continue if you do not post, I'd be very happy to have posts from the both of you.

In particular, the horde will catch up to anyone that does not keep moving in the Dead Zone, with potentially disastrous consequences.
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