View Full Version : [Text RPG] An Adventure You'd KILL For...

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May 25th, 2008, 01:57 PM
May 28th, 2008, 06:44 PM
A group of dark figures stooped down low to gaze at figures on a screen.

"The countless multitude of worlds," one of them spoke, awed. "I have seen them a thousand times, yet their beauty never ceases to amaze me."

"They are worlds ripe for slaughter," said another, dismissively. "We have work to do."

"Three of the subjects have been reeled in, Sir," said a third, working at a separate terminal. "They're in their cells now. A human, a Halfling, and a nightmare."

"Continue, then," answered the second speaker. "We should spare no more time. The plan must begin now."

* * *

With a throbbing pain in his head, the Corinthian regained consciousness. The Corinthian was not born with the ability to sleep, nor did he intend to achieve it--dreams rarely do--but in this instance, it seemed that sleep had been thrust upon him.

A voice--thought it sounded more like a chorus of voices--began speaking. The Corinthian looked from side to side, but could not identify the source.

"Hello, Corinthian," said the voices, softly and without a trace of accent. They were computerized voices, artificial ones--someone was speaking, and that meant that "someone" might or might not have been a person. They were either artificial themselves, or they wished to conceal their identities.

"Who are you?" the Corinthian asked, his own voice low and menacing. "Where am I?"

"You were removed from the Dreaming for our purposes. You will remain here until we dictate otherwise."

Pfft. I care not. I will kill you all and return to my Lord right now, thought the Corinthian. He looked around for a door, or some other way of knowing where he was.

There was nothing--only empty void.

"You cannot possibly mean to tell me that my Lord has grown displeased and cast me into the Darkness! I have served him without error!"

"Lord Dream's displeasure is none of our concern, little nightmare."

"Then you are not associated with him. This is not the Darkness."

"This may be. This may not be. We chose the best means to imprison you that we knew of, and at the moment, those means are confusion and uncertainty. You could be anywhere. You could be everywhere. You could be nowhere. But you are certainly no longer in the Dreaming."

The Corinthian turned his head upwards and shouted angrily. "Do you know who my master is? Do you know what he will do to you? Ever heard of my Nightmare friend, Eternal Waking? When my master gets here, I'm sure you'll get to know him really, really well. That is, if you're lucky, and if my master is in a forgiving mood."

Although, frankly, that's sort of a bluff. Lord Morpheus was willing to be intimidating that way; his current replacement doesn't have the same dark streak. The Corinthian sighed nostalgically.

The voices continued. "Again," they repeated, "Lord Dream's displeasure is none of our concern. We do not fear him."

Idiots. They don't know when a healthy dose of fear would do them good. That's why people need nightmares in the first place.

"We will contact you again at a later time, with instructions," continued the voices. "Until then, you will remain here."

"And what makes you think that I will obey your instructions at all?!"

"You will have little choice, nightmare. Observe."

A figure materialized next to the Corinthian, a figure cloaked in white. The figure's skin was pale, and its hair was as white as the rest of its body. It was male; his eyes gleamed like stars. It stood over a desk, signing papers with a feather quill pen. The Corinthian recognized his new master immediately--but the nightmare was also suspicious.

"You take the semblance of my Lord and King," noted the Corinthian, pensively. "This is a trick that has been used against me before. The trickster was a particularly foolish and overreaching god, and his deception failed to convince me--so I cut out his eyes and delivered him to his enemies so that he might be chained beneath the earth. Snakes drool venom into his empty sockets. He will writhe there for an eternity. What do you say to that, my Lord?"

The figure did not move or speak, but merely continued writing. "You're certainly doing a good impression of my master's stoic manner," continued the Corinthian, "but I know that he is perfectly capable of speech."

The artificial voices resonated around the Corinthian again. "We assure you that this is no illusion. We have opened a scrying portal to the Dreaming, to prove that your master is not pursuing your rescue."

"Impossible!" the Corinthian growled. Through the dark lenses of his sunglasses, one could just barely make out two rows of teeth that ground against one another in frustration. "He will tear this place apart when he finds I am missing!"

"Ah, but when we took you from the Dreaming, you were on your way to the Waking World. For all the Prince of Stories knows, you arrived there safely and are pursuing the mission that he gave you. When the Dream Weaver next tries to contact you--and finds that you do not respond--he will simply assume that you have followed the example of your predecessor, deserting him and living among the mortals."

I am not certain of that. Lord Morpheus might have made that conclusion, but the new King of Dreams is not so suspicious. So, very well, then, I am content to wait, for now.

That is, almost content. A tongue emerged from the Corinthian's left eye-mouth and licked his eyelids in a decidedly wolfish manner. "You would have needed to send some sort of magic practitioner in here, in order to cast this scrying portal, yes?" he asked, speaking into the void.

The voices said nothing. That only confirms it, then, thought the nightmare.

The portal shrank into a small sphere and began hastily moving away, almost as if it were frightened. The Corinthian lunged at the space a few feet ahead of the sphere, hit something vaguely cold and clammy but solid, and pinned it to the ground. Sparks flew, illuminating a struggling lizard-like creature in a cloth wizard's robe, a desperate thing trying to shock the Corinthian into letting go by using small bolts of magical lightning. One lucky bolt managed to knock his glasses a few feet away, but the rest did little to hold the nightmare back.

The Corinthian's now-visible eye-mouths both opened wide and cracked into twin smiles. He lowered his face toward the struggling mage, and the two sets of teeth reached out with voracious intent and malice.

"I am a visionary," the Corinthian said aloud, speaking through his eye-mouths rather than his main one. His face was barely an inch away from the reptilian mage's now, coming closer,

The nightmare snapped a single reptilian eyeball in each set of jaws, bit down through the eyelids and pulled his head back again. Strings of neuron fiber and muscle trailed from the two orbs that he had taken from the lizard-like creature, flopping downward to his chin as he chewed them like noodles. He sucked the fleshy tendrils in to join his other two mouthfuls, savoring the unusual taste as he did so; the exterior tissues were tender and succulent, while the vitreous humor was sweet and creamy, with just a hint of bitterness. He waited a moment, then swallowed, and the eyes were gone.

Later, when he had more time, the Corinthian would check to see if the eyes formerly owned by his lizard friend had any important or informative images burned onto their retinas, but for now he simply enjoyed the aftertaste. Information-gathering and escape-planning could wait for a bit. He was in a happy mood again.

The Corinthian had almost forgotten his screaming lizard companion by that point, but the eventual end of his gourmet taste experience brought him back to reality. The nightmare pulled his Swiss Army knife from his pocket, unfolded the main blade, and advanced toward his writhing, blinded victim.

This is what I think of your "instructions," thought the nightmare, with a touch of bitterness that matched the flavor of his recent meal.


* * *

"Was that entirely necessary?" asked one of the dark figures in the main chamber. "Our mages are in limited supply."

"It was absolutely necessary to make the Corinthian feel calm, comfortable, and in control," responded another. "Allowing him one single kill was a very cost-effective way to achieve that end. The more confident he is, the more easily we can control him. The mage that we sacrificed has no particularly useful visual memories. Apart from the ones that we erased beforehand, of course."

",er, did we have to leave him with his knife? It's not as if there are bars on his prison to file through, but,"

"It will save us the trouble of returning it to him when he needs it. He is the only prisoner so far that we cannot restrain with a traditional cell, although there are certain to be more like him as the operation continues, and we cannot risk manually sending people in to give it to him and then take it back. You saw what he did to that mage, and he only used the knife to finish it off."

"Hmph. Very well, then. I suppose it's time to speak with our other guests."

"Agreed. Put them on the line."

"Will we need to send messengers in person?"

"Depends. We'll see."

May 30th, 2008, 09:09 AM
Belkar raised from the comfy matress he was sleeping on, except that it wasn't comfy, and there was no more matress. He wasn't in the middle of nowhere with a red-haired girl that was stupid enough to throw HIS candy away and a poly-poxy nimf, but surrounded by darkness.

"What the-" he started, but he got a sudden tought, mostly related to his recent experiences.

"Heh, nice joke, Haley, Vaarsuvius would have been proud." he said, blindly trying to find an exit with his small hands.

"This isn't a Haley, Belkar, nor is it a joke." a voice said. It strangely enough appeared to come from above.

"Roy?" Belkar hesitantly asked. The voice was slightly like the one from the bastard.

"No, Belkar, this isn't Roy, nor even Haley, Elan, Hinjo, whoever you might assume this is."

"I wish I bought that torch yesterday." Belkar taught, once again bumping against a wall. He was in a small space, he realised. Some sort of darkness spell had been cast, so he saw nothing, but he had a feeling he was in a damned pit. Again.

"I see, and is their any reason why you threw me in this dark pit, or did you just get some ranks in "Halfling Misuse." Belkar said, kind off hoping it was the first one.

"Our reasons cannot be revealed to you yet, though it'll become clear later on. Until then, you remain here, unless you want to get tortured to near death for failed escape."

"Get yourself some ranks in "Intelligence" and leave me go, instead of ruining them in "Suiciding" and "Douchebagerie." Belkar replied.

In the half dark, he silently grinned and got ready to jump upwards.

To late he realised he didn't had his ring of Jumping.

Going up only half a meter, he fell back down, his big head sucked downwards immediatly.

With a great BANG, he smacked his head against the floor.

Before losing conciousness, he whispered one last word.


May 30th, 2008, 10:15 AM
It was dark when I came to but anything but silent. The screams of men echoed in my skull like they were screaming directly into my ears. Screams of pain or joy or just for the heck of it. I let it set the tone for the headache that was sure to follow. I can feel it already.

It takes me a while to realize that it isn't dark at all. I'm starring into the darkest stone man ever used in any building. So dark the inside of my eyelids are blinding and painful.

Right on cue. The headache inevitably kicks in in full gear! My head feels a few sizes too big and a several pounds too heavy as I raise myself from the ground. The pain almost makes me miss those morning hangovers in Old Town.


"Fresh blood" someone screams in the distant and I realize the party is for me. The voice is Caucasian. Probably belongs to a larger than average scum who think of himself as a beast. Someone who can run the show around here. Someone eager to run me 6uy the rules of his world. A dead man like me.

I'll remember the voice.

"You're awake." The voice is damaged. Not naturally as hoarse as it has become.

I turn around, meeting eyes with the slime just outside the bars to my prison. His breath reeks of smoke and there's a cigarrete lying trampled on the ground but the tip is still burning and building a raging amber. He's been here for a while.

My guns are gone. They must have taken them when they put me in here. They even took the small .22 I packed in my sleeve but they haven't taken anything else. There's a note in my pocket with Shellie's number. I still haven't called her since the incident with Jackie-boy. That cold feeling in my gut that grips on and won't let go suggests that I might not get a chance to, either. She's used to it. She can take it.

"Where's my car?"

It's the only question I can formulate and the most pressing one in my opinion. A 53 Cadillac Eldorado! Handles like a dream.

"We took the liberty of disposing the vehicle for you, you won't be needing it after all."

I feel my skin stretch over my knuckles and I'm sure I just cracked a tooth.

"Mr.McCarthy, I won't be long; I suspect you have important things to attend to shortly. My employers had you brought here with a special interest in mind. So far, I've only been asked to tell you that you are no longer in Sin City. To speak the obvious, you'll be staying here for a while."

I don't listen. I hear random words as I tune in and out from what I pray is a premonition in a not in a too distant future. It could be nothing but a day dream but the images are satisfying and are more interesting than his speech.

"We'll be back soon to brief you with further instructions."

I snap out of it on cue.

"What's your name?"

"Good bye, Mr.McCarthy."

He walks away but I don't let him out of my sight. I follow his footsteps down the way and hit a jackpot. Gold.

"Good bye Mr.Adams" the guard says loudly with a cough as he opens the door. The slime slithers out as fast as possible after glancing behind his shoulder. He noticed my grin. He saw it good.

See you later Adams.

May 30th, 2008, 08:09 PM
"How's work on the Shriek?" asked one of the workers in the command center.

"Looking good," came the reply. "We've developed a soundproof cell that should contain her powers."

"Good, reel her in as soon as you can."

"Will do. Anything else?"

"Yes; send someone different for McCarthy next time. We monitored Adams while he delivered the opening welcome, and his heart rate was like a rocket--thought he would sh*t his pants, he was so scared of McCarthy. We can't trust him to deal psychologically with the prisoner--find someone else to give McCarthy the battle directions."

"No one else is available yet, Sir."

"No one?"

"No one. We've been very busy ever since the first subjects arrived."

"Damn... then let's keep Adams for now, but we need to replace him as soon as possible, or things could go horrifically awry."

"I'll tell you as soon as a position's available, Sir."

"Good, then. Let's start the combat tests. We've got the plans for the nightmare, so let's go ahead with that first."


Damn. It.

Nothing useful. There was nothing useful in the mage's memory at all. He was so low in the ranks among the prison officials that he'd never even seen the faces of his own employers. Even with a new set of memories, the Corinthian still had no idea who his captors were, or where he was.

I could be anywhere in the Waking World or anywhere outside of it, the nightmare realized. I don't know anything.

"Hello again, Corinthian," came the voices. A human might have been startled by the sudden noise--but the Corinthian is rarely startled by anything.

"Hello to you too, Dead Man," replied the Corinthian. "I wish you'd come to me in person some time. I don't even know what you look like--not yet, anyway. Do you have eyes? I hope you do."

"You do not present a threat, nightmare. We contacted you because we have our first set of instructions ready."

"I think we discussed this before. Let me reconsider my answer. NO."

"You are going to participate in a combat simulation," continued the voice. "It will involve a number of foes specifically chosen to fight you."

"Why should I care? I'm happy to stay in here until my Lord comes to rescue me."

"You should be prepared to wait for quite some time, then. You have nothing to lose by participating. Except for a minor risk of injury."

The Corinthian chuckled. "Nothing to gain either, though."

"That is not necessarily true. You see, if you do not cooperate, then you are of no use to us and we will simply destroy you. This is not an idle threat--I assure you that we have several means of killing nightmares."

That's not likely... but it's possible, thought the Corinthian. It's probably best to play along with them for now. I'll find out if it's a bluff or not sooner or later.

"All right, you win. I'm bored enough to play along," agreed the nightmare. "Show me what you've got here."

There was no immediate response. But a moment later, there was a creaking noise, and one of the dark edges of the void began to swell open, expanding like a ripple in a pond. Moments later, there was a doorway to a mist-swirled landscape of mountains and ice.

"Nice show," admitted the Corinthian, grudgingly. "Let's get started, then."

He stepped through the portal and emerged on the other side. A squawking cry pierced the air, coming from above. A black bird soared down toward the Corinthian out of the sky.

"Matthew?!" the Corinthian called, astonished. He hadn't been expecting that. So what, then, they're taking all of Dream's most trusted servants? Are they planning some sort of ransom operation?

But as the bird approached, the Corinthian realized that it wasn't Matthew. It was just an ordinary mortal raven. Funny. I wonder why they would--

That was when he realized that there was a second raven a few meters away from it. And another just behind the second.

In fact, before the Corinthian realized what was going on, there were literally hundreds of ravens clouding around him, settling on his body, tearing and shredding into the dream-weave of his skin. Dull pain throbbed through him.

"ENOUGH!" the nightmare roared, flailing and knocking a few of the birds away. One of the birds had noticed the shiny red hilt of his Swiss Army knife, and clawed toward it greedily. The Corinthian plucked the bird away from the knife and twisted its head off with one quick motion.

The other birds had noticed their companion's discovery too, however, and they swarmed as one united force to claim their prize. The vicious nightmare fought wildly to keep them away, but one raven triumphantly snatched the knife in its talons and soared off. The other ravens departed from their victim and followed the thief.

The Corinthian surveyed the area around him. Five or six raven corpses littered the ground; a few dozen more were trying to flee on foot, due to wing injuries. Spitefully, the Corinthian raised one foot and crushed one of the struggling survivors against the icy rock. He found, much to his displeasure, that the sound of thin avian bones crunching underfoot did little to lighten his mood.

"DAMN you," the nightmare seethed. "Damn it, damn you, damn it all..."

He picked up the fresh corpse and plucked its eyes out with his fingers, popping each one into the maws behind his dark glasses. They were small and unsavory, just barely worth the effort to obtain.

"Fine. I'll play along," the Corinthian vowed wrathfully. "I'll finish this game. I'll get the knife back. And then I'll get out of here and find you--yes, YOU, not just those stupid birds. I know you're listening now, watching me play for your amusement, or whatever your motives really are... I will find you. I'll pop the sclera in your eyeballs while they're still in your heads, and I'll lick the humours that drip down your faces and roll like tears down your cheeks. I'll leave you alive until the last minute. This I swear by my bond to Lord Dream, and I am not well-known for my perjury."

The Corinthian made two fists, looked off in the direction that the ravens had flown, and began to run.


"Funny guy, isn't he?" said one of the officers in the Observation Deck. "Where'd the heads find him?"

"They find everyone they need to find, eventually. You know that."

"Heh, true enough. But he's so convinced that he can get the upper hand here. Especially with that little speech at the end."

"He's used to freedom. Even in the Dreaming his actions are somewhat... unregulated. That was how his master designed him. He's something akin to an embodiment of anarchy... but much more subtle and complex than that."

"Really? He just seems like another psycho killer to me."

"Yes, well, that's the irony, isn't it? But we can talk about dreams and philosophy all we want when we go on break, you know. We have work to do here."

Keyboards clicked erratically as the figure at the computer terminal entered a series of commands. "Hey, the guys at Design just sent us the schematics for access to the Sim Arena from Security Level 2. Should I put them up on the big screen?"

"Yes, of course." The vigilant supervisor turned and called to the rest of the room. "Somebody hit the projector lights, please. We're calling a meeting."

The projector went live, and an image of a map appeared on the screen.

"As you can see, Sir, this is a standard non-magical containment zone; those without extraordinary supernatural abilities can be kept here and managed easily. Green regions are stationary, while magenta regions are capable of motion. The two highlighted green regions are the positions of our two prisoners in Security 2; the Halfling is in the Pit, while McCarthy is in the corner cell of the security wing."

"I see. What about the highlighted magenta?"

"Highlighted magenta regions are the direct means of transport to a Simulation Arena. The Pit is equipped with a slide-away floor that retracts to the side, while every other cell in Security 2 is equipped with a folding back door that unfolds into a bridge to allow access to the Simulation Arena lift."

"What if a prisoner tries to damage the moving equipment? Are the security measures for that?"

"Yes, there are. The prisoners will be informed of this. Anyone attempting to tamper with the moving equipment will receive a strong taser shock, enough to render even a large human unconscious, but without a high risk of permanent injury."

"Hm. Kudos to the good people working in Design for implementing this so fast, then. Proceed with the next two prisoners' simulations, please, and bring me data from the Corinthian's simulation once he finishes."

June 4th, 2008, 09:18 PM
The inmates are skill vailing from their cells. Still cheer and screaming things I'll take as compliments for now. I'm more than safe from them. After all, it didn't seem like I've been arrested for the crimes I've commited, it seems bigger than that. Adams wasn't a cop, or the associate of one. Why the message? I'm the engine for the hamster wheel of something big; as long as I keep running I'll be fine.

The images of Adams corpse is still disturbingly vivid. Makes me feel like a murderer and how fitting. Even if I spare Adams life, I'll make sure to relieve him of his pride, as he did of mine. A 53 Cadillac Eldorado.

One of a kind.

I never had a problem with waiting. I'm more than used to the solitude. Memories of lonely days and a dark appartment flashes before my eyes and it's almost an uplifting thought at this point.

The bed is a monster of wires and springs. I'll be spending the night on the floor, which feels soft in comparison. It's a strange feeling. I'm not sure what I mean by that myself. Perhaps it's the humming of the steel bars, the obscenely dark stone in the ceiling I've been stuck starring into, or just my new friends screaming bloody murder. It doesn't matter.

They'll tire before I do.

June 4th, 2008, 09:58 PM
A voice shouted at Belkar from above. "“Halfling. In a moment you will be released from this cell.”"

"“Yeah, well it’'s about friggin’' time, jackass!”"

"“Prepare yourself. It could be disorienting at first.”"

"“Oh, I'’m prepared. Prepared to serve you a heapin'’ helping of Mama Bitterleaf’s secret family recipe for your own steaming entrails on a platter..."…”

The floor creaked once. Belkar looked downward and realized his mistake.

He sighed once. “"You know, I probably should have seen that coming. It actually feels weird to not hear V making fun of me for once.”"

Then the floor had completely retracted into the wall, slamming Belkar off of it and tumbling into the abyss below.

It was a long fall, too long for a human to survive. But Belkar’'s compact size and 30-pound weight allowed him to fall for a much greater length without danger. He hit the ground painfully, but unharmed.

“Ow,” Belkar coughed. “Jeez. They couldn’t have left a mattress or something?”

There was a table in front of Belkar, with a spotlight shining over it from some source far above—too far for Belkar to see. The table was set with his ring, his dagger, and his throwing knives. He quickly grabbed them, eager to once again be fully-equipped.

“"Belkar Bitterleaf, you have 20 seconds to drop your weapons.”"

Belkar whirled. Standing in front of him was a strange machination in full Paladin regalia.

“"Uh-uh. I’ve waited too long to get these things back.”"

“"10 seconds.”"

“"What the hell is this? A rejected character from a Paul Verhoeven fanfic? What are your Prime Directives--'To Serve the Public Trust, Murder the Guilty, and Uphold the Laws of the Paladin Gods’?”'"

“"Time has expired. I am now authorized to use force."”

The machine charged at Belkar, katana drawn and glowing with blue force. “"Smite Evil!"” it beeped, swinging forward with the blade.

"“Aw, damn it, you’ve got all the Paladin attacks, too?!"”

Belkar noticed a metal doorway on the other side of the robot Paladin, a number of large cardboard boxes piled around the room, and made a plan. Hm. On second thought, this could be very, very fun.

The Halfling hurled a throwing dagger into the robot’s face, crouched downward, and leapt clean over his foe’s head. Yes! I can jump again! Belkar thought. I am a sexy shoeless God of War!!

Belkar darted among the boxes while the android dealt with the damage that Belkar had dealt to it. The dagger lodged between two metal plates, denting and shearing the frame. The android plucked the dagger from its face again, and liquid metal ran down and sealed the opening.

“You have healing as a Paladin skill, too?! No fair!”

The paladin android slashed a box in half, following the noise—nothing inside. Another dagger thunked into the back of its head.

“Maybe it’s not unlimited. I can probably beat you by attrition then.”

Obviously, he sucks at Spot and Listen checks… just like a regular Paladin, I guess.

Confused, the machine continued to turn its head around and around and around until it finally determined a source of sound, and noticed a small shadow moving through the boxes in that direction.

“Smite Evil,” chanted the android, and its katana glowed with blue force again. The robot slashed through the box that the shadow had moved into.

That was when the box crackled with electrical force, and the Paladin robot vibrated erratically in the current, like a rag doll. A few moments later, it had freed itself from the electrified box, but it had been badly damaged by the shock. All of its preprogrammed combat routines were going out of sync, and it wavered from side to side drunkenly. It vaguely noted that the cardboard box had begun to burn brightly.

“Yeah, I saw that door in the back and figured it might have something to do with you. Full of electrical stuff. I pulled out one of the wires and stuck it in the box. Partly because I thought it might be a tactical advantage—mostly just because I wanted to see what would happen.”

The android reeled once, managed to draw its katana, and began charging again. “Smite E—“

Belkar dodged to the side and tripped the robot with a quick kick from one of his hairy feet. It fell to the ground with a loud thud, and in a moment Belkar was on top of it.

“Like I always say—when in doubt, light it on fire,” Belkar grinned, pulling the flaming cardboard box over the robot’s head.

The machine’s sensors were overloaded with heat. It couldn’t see or hear, and could barely feel. Belkar ran back and began tossing more boxes at the android until it was buried under a mountain of flaming cardboard. Moments later, the mountain was ash.

A hand shot out from the ash pile, bearing the blue-tinged katana. Belkar was on it in a moment, and severed the hand from the arm with a sweeping dagger blow. Sparks flew, and Belkar was briefly shocked when the current began to travel through his dagger—but his tiny Halfling heart was accustomed to stronger shocks than average, and he survived it with only a moment of disorientation and a burning pain through his body.

“OW!” screamed Belkar. “Paladins don’t have lightning attacks! This is totally cheating!”

Another arm reached up out of the ash pile and grappled at Belkar. Belkar picked up the fallen katana and slashed the other arm off.

Now the android rose up out of the ash pile in its entirety. Its eyes flashed red, and it bleeped dangerously.


Belkar had only heard the term “self-destruct” once before, and it hadn’t ended well… he decided it might be a good idea to run as far away as possible.

The room was completely enclosed, though… where could he go?


Belkar braced himself for a deafening explosion, but none came. After a few moments, he turned and saw that the android’s remains lay in a melted puddle on the floor.

“Huh,” Belkar said. “You really put the ‘self’ in ‘self-destruct’ there, didn’t you?”

Then all the lights in the room went out.

Belkar felt three darts strike him in the chest, releasing tranquilizer into his tiny body and paralyzing him instantly. In a moment, he was unconscious; when he woke up, he was back in his cell, and his daggers and ring were gone.

June 8th, 2008, 06:27 PM
Shriek felt powerless. She hated waking up. It was at this time of the day she felt unable to use that bit of her power medication allowed her to use; where she could feel her human self. -- Although only for the few seconds of realizing she was no longer asleep.
However, today should be different, and she would know it from the moment she opened her eyes, and weakness would refuse to let go.
She was in a small cell. Not the pathetic cozy one she had been used to at Ravencolt. No, here were no windows, no furnitures -- Not even as much as a bed. She was left for herself behind these walls... Walls? She let her fingers feel the fabric-like side she was leaning up against -- And sitting on. She couldn't think of other possible explanations than this cell was sound-proof. "Good one, Kafka. So what is your plan with this experiment?" she asked herself with a bitter voice.
"There is no experiment you should know of, Shriek," an anonymous male voice said. Immediately, Shriek got on her feet. "...And there is no Dr. Kafka, no medication and no psychotherapy," the voice finished off. Something deep down in Shriek felt released, but something was also panicking from letting go of something she slowly had started getting used to. Maybe even attached to, although she would never admit it. Right now, she felt offended of having her bubble of artificial privacy burst. It angered her. "And who is the filth to place me here against my will?" She clenched her fists, ready for whatever could happen. There was no intelligence to feel around her, no one to attack, but she would still try and defend herself against anyone and anything. "Against your will, you say? Have it not occurred to you yet, that you are no longer at Ravencolt? How long haven't you wished to be anywhere else but there? How long have you not deep down wanted to be forever gone from the judgmental words of those who treated you?" Shriek did not answer, although her mind wanted her to scream that she would have done anything, even obey Dr. Kafka. "You know the answer is yes, don't you Frances?"
Frances. She remembered her mother calling her that awful name. She felt her scar starting to light up and warm her face with anger. She had replaced her confusion with anger and frustration. Confusion of what the purpose of all this was.
"You will regret placing me here, filth. You will so bitterly regret everything this world have done to me!" She hurled a burst of energy towards the corner she believed to be the location of the sound. It left a black mark on the grayish fabric, and the voice said no more. She was more relaxed now. She felt she had somehow defended herself and achieved something.

June 8th, 2008, 09:33 PM
"Sir! There's a problem on Level 3--Ms. Frances Barrison just destroyed our communicator. We can't give her directions."

"We expected she might," replied the silhouetted supervisor over a young man's shoulder. "It's not a problem. We've been through her psychological profile--she'll still go into the combat training room when the doors to her simulation arena open, even if it's only out of curiosity. How are the others doing?"

"Well, the nightmare's almost done with his combat trial. The Halfling's finished already, he's back in his cell now."

"Good, keep me notified of the Corinthian's progress," said the commanding officer. "Now. What about McCarthy?"

"Well, sir, there are all sorts of problems with McCarthy," said the man of lower rank. "As you know, I strongly opposed the decision to put him on Level 2, with the other petty killers. I opposed bringing him here at all."

"Duly noted. Would you restate your point? Do you have anything new to say?"

"Yes, sir. As a matter of fact, I do."

The low-ranking officer pulled out a sheet of paper and held it up. "I've reviewed McCarthy's psychological profile over and over and over again, sir. He's not a serial murderer."

"No? Why not?"

"He has no psychological gratification from his kills. He's not a mindless destruction machine--he's a perfectly sane man who's been forced to kill in a few unlucky situations. This is the reason why we don't pick up hired assassins, sir, and we don't pick up hitmen--we're only going for the people that kill for pleasure."

The supervisor looked offended. "People--what are you suggesting, boy?! How many times did we tell you in training that they aren't people?! People form functioning communal units and civilizations, you imbecile! These... things, that we pick out of Creation like weeds from a rose garden... they are not people!"

"Sir, please, it was a simple mistake!" the younger man cried out, holding his hands up defensively. "Please... I misspoke!"

The supervisor was pacified--but only slightly. In the darkness of the command room, he almost seemed to glow with internal rage and frustration.

"Very well. Continue."

Nervously, the lower-ranking officer continued. "In light of McCarthy's situation, I would advise that we simply perform a mindwipe and release him back into his homeworld. He has the potential to reform, I assure you of that. He doesn't belong here."

The supervisor's well-contained rage channeled into the depression of a single button on the computer terminal.

"Sir... what are you..."

"Watch the screen, boy," barked the commanding officer.

"I do not--"


The screen came alive in a flash of brilliant white light, and began to display a sequence of images. Bullets, hundreds of them, in incredible slow motion--all of them advancing toward human targets.

They were from dozens of times and places, juxtaposed in one moment. Thin missiles of metal, on an inexorable march toward the meaty hunks for which they had been released from their barrels. And they struck, eventually--blood and organ tissue spewed from the wounds of each victim in glorious three-dimensional high-resolution video quality.

The images changed in the blink of an eye, shifting from the disgusting gore of the bullets' initial effect to the horrified anguish on the victims' faces. And each image turned, then, the cameras rotating 180 degrees to show the source of the destruction. McCarthy's face looked down upon his kills, a stoic mask of inured apathy and acceptance.

"This is the man you defend," hissed the commander. "Does he take pleasure in the killing, every single time? Of course not. You've read his psychological profile, so you know as well as I that he rarely feels pleasure during a firefight. But he does it anyway. Did the psychological profile show you his latent schizophrenia? Hallucinations of talking corpses?"

The underling sighed and gave up. "There are men far worse than him from that world. Particularly in his hometown, Basin City..."

"Our operation is not yet fully under way, boy. We will continue work in Mr. McCarthy's city. But for now... accept that this is where he belongs."

"Shouldn't we at least move him to a more respectable cell? He doesn't think of himself as a killer. We are only provoking him by keeping him in with the maniacs who occupy that space near him."

The commanding officer grinned. "Son, you're the slowest learner in the force, you know that? The whole point is to provoke McCarthy."

"What?! But we worked so hard to make the Corinthian feel at home--why go to such lengths to do the opposite for McCarthy? Don't we want to keep the prisoners happy?"

"Some of them, yes. But some of them need to be prepared for the combat simulations in... unusual ways. McCarthy is one of them; he doesn't kill unless he thinks that the kill is honorable and justified, or unless he's mad beyond all sane levels of madness. We've done everything we can to get him royally pissed off. We even destroyed his car... heh, that was a good idea from Psychology, down in Subfloor 13. They're also recommending that we let him know about all the others we plan on taking from his world... a lot of those ‘Old Town Girls' for instance. But I don't know if he's ready to hear that just yet. We've got to save the best for last."

"I'll never understand this, sir," sighed the low-ranking man. "It just doesn't make sense to me that we should be so indiscriminate in picking murderers."

"No, it doesn't," said his senior officer. "Make sense to you," the commander added, quickly, "which is why you're fired."

"I'm sorry, Sir?"

"Fired. This is no job for a sympathetic man like you. We leave our innocence and our old short-term morals at the door here, boy, and that's a policy that you just can't obey."

"But I--"

There was silence. Suddenly, the commander was the only one left in the command room.

"It's a pity, son," said the commander, to no one in particular. "You had all the skills. All of them, except the one that really mattered."



A dull crunch was the only signal that the bird's neck was broken. The Corinthian could take little pleasure from the destruction of such a small life. But the trail of raven corpses behind him, dark against the snowy landscape... that was enough to give him a tingle of excitement every time he glanced back at it.

Almost funny, how easy this is. I was off to a bad start, but now it's almost like they're trying to make it fun for me.

Suddenly a red streak flashed in front of him and buried itself in the snow. His Swiss Army knife lay quivering there, stuck point-first into the ice. The nightmare reached down and plucked it up eagerly.

Then he turned up to the sky to see where the knife had come from. A roc, an enormous bird from the dreams of some sleeping mortal, flapped its wings in an anxious sort of way.

"YOU HAVE YOUR WEAPON," it cawed, in a scratchy raven-like voice, "LEAVE US IN PEA--"

The roc's neck opened up, like a blossoming flower, and blood trickled down it--the Corinthian had thrown the knife back, and hit his mark easily. The bird gargled, lost control of its wings, and crashed to the earth with a deafening thud.

The Corinthian walked over to the site where the knife had fallen and once again plucked it from the snow. "Definitely too easy that time," he thought.


A monster emerged from the trees, another beast from mortal myth. Argus Panoptes, the Greek giant; slain by Hermes but revived by some dreamer and harvested for these strange captors.

The Corinthian's three mouths watered at the sight of the hundred eyes that covered the giant's body. He flicked his knife closed, then open again, and charged forward with renewed glee.

June 9th, 2008, 02:35 PM
The earth is moving. At least that's what I surmise when the floor starts quaking and my headaches awakes once more like a pissed of infant, screaming bloody murder, from the vibrations. Normally I wouldn't care but since I have a monstrous amount of time on my hands I fake the interest needed to see what's going on.

Either this had to be the most thorough break out ever in history or Adams had me placed here for a larger purpose than to rot and the purpose suits me fine. It means Adams is bound to return.

It's been a while since I stopped to let my eyes adjust to the darkness. Either it's darker than is natural in this narrow tunnel I find myself in, or I'm still dizzy from my invitation.

That familiar sound of metal hit my senses when I put my foot down. It's not until I take a few steps onto the metal surface that the place lights up, with a green ember from underneath the floor, peering through small cracks and gaps.

The door I came from closes. Passed the point of no return? No, that was years ago. This is just another Deja Vu.

The light is so soft I don't even realize that the floor is moving until a bright doorway starts to illuminate the setting as the lift descends further.

This room is box. No windows but a door on the other side of the room and a table in the centre. On the table there is a recipe for disaster; three loaded guns. My guns.

I don't hesitate to re-equip myself, even when all the alarms in my head go off at the same time. Adams was shaky. Not used to death and when staring into the eyes of a corpse, like myself, his Gestapo wannabe attitude crumbled like it was never there.

This was beyond shaky.

This was a settup.

I'm halfway into believing that the minute I opened the second door, I was ambushed and knocked unconscious and what I'm seeing is just a dream. The Lord estate presents itself with a less than subtle bang as the thunder strikes. A perfect gloom for the setting; a stunning noir.

When I take another look around the door is gone. Vanished, like it was never there. A sound behind me gets my attention. A voice that I know all too well.

A freight train hits my jaw. All the colors inverts and the sky turns white while rains of ashes batter my face. Another train crashes into my gut. My eyes blur and the sounds go wet.

Deja Vu is right.

Manute is talking to me, standing above me like a God with his golden eye shining like a star in the dark while I'm digging my fingers into the dirt. Stay awake, damnit!

"A remarkable transformation."

I can't hear it. It's a rumble, even mightier than the rain and the thunder but I know the words so well. I remember the sound; I remember the smell of those words. But it's all wrong, this isn't how it happened.



There she is. Standing behind Manute. Naked and soaked by her midnight swim. I remember watching her that night. Even though I remembered all she did and knowing what she was; even though I was bleeding on ground; even though it was the worst of times I still couldn't keep my eyes off her. But she wasn't holding a gun. It didn't happen like this. This is wrong.

Get on your feet, the smart part of me says. I'm fast enough to take care of Manute.

I hope.

I jump to my feet and vision and hearing slowly returns to me as Manute gets ready to charge me again. I have to be faster than him, have to strike first. His jaw feels like a jagged stone against the sole of my feet, but the mountain is moving by the impact. It is hurt. It's the only edge I have against him. Stay faster.

I kick again. I get him to his knees.

Now's the time. I reach for a gun but Manute is far from defeated and his time he was faster. The impact from when Manute throws me to the ground quakes my entire body. Throws me off focus. Makes me sick. I feel his hand grasp around my neck. His grip will sooner squeeze my head right off rather than strangling me. I panic, grabbing his arms while trying to pull him off me. It's impossible.

Use your gun! The smart side of me is screaming a language I don't understand and it takes several seconds for me to get it. The small 22. slides gently out of my sleve and just in time with the thunder, I pull the trigger.

Manute doesn't go down so I pull it again. It takes all six bullet before his posture lowers and his hands stray for his wounds. I hit him hard against the cheek, throwing him off me. I'll have hell to pay for that punch tomorrow.

I get up, dropping the gun on the ground. I'm not listening to Manute's roaring laughter. I'm not even listening to the clicking sound of a six shooter loading a live bullet into the barrel. I don't hear it.

The bullet strikes me in the right shoulder, going straight through. The shock strikes me as hard as Manute's punches but I know exactly what happened. By the time I have hit the gun out of Ava's hand she's sobbing like she always does with me. A damsel in distress, just for me. I force myself not to ignore her but my body is stunned and I can't decide whether I'm angry or sad.

She gets to her feet, sobbing excuses and apologizes but I don't listen or answer. Think of all she did. She'd kill you if she could!

She kiss me. I don't kiss back.

The thunder strikes again and Ava's deep shuddering gaze turns blank and empty. As she fall aside, the smoke from the colt dances in front of my eyes.

I said I'd kill you if you did that again. I said I would.

Thunder strikes again and this time it's my turn to go out. My world goes dark. I could be dead or unconscious; I can't tell. It's a blank and I don't seem to mind at all.

When I open my eyes I find myself starring into the darkest of stones man ever carved to build a ceiling. I missed this place.

June 9th, 2008, 04:52 PM
Level 5. Containment Officer Norman-B-4735 was terrified of it. Only the high-powered supernaturals went in here... the hateful spirits, the inhuman undead. The psychotic psychics, the nightmares--the literal nightmares. And it was the nightmares that Norman B-4735 would be dealing with today.

"4735!" barked a commanding officer. "Report!"

"Approaching subject now," responded Norman. "All security measures are in place."

"Report back through the audio transponder once every thirty seconds. This is the most volatile prisoner we have, soldier--so far, anyway."

"I understand, sir."

"Good. Deactivating optics in five."

Five seconds later, the hallway was immersed in darkness. The lights had not been turned off, of course--it was Norman's eyes that had been turned off. He plucked them from his head with little discomfort; they were shiny metallic orbs, rather than fleshy organs.

Norman turned 180 degrees and dropped the orbs onto a tray. Then he turned back and touched a sequence of dials on the wall, working entirely from his memory of the room's position. A door swung open and an endless void was revealed behind it. Norman stepped dutifully into the void as the door closed behind him.

Norman raised a device strapped to his wrist, raised it to his mouth, and breathed "Subject NIGH-667."

The void was suddenly filled with rushing wind, and Norman was yanked through a conduit of bent realities and fractured stories before landing on a mountain of bloodstained eyes, each one the size of of basketball. Norman could not see them, but he felt their slippery ovoid shapes and came to the right conclusions. He leapt to his feet and tried to wipe the blood off of his robes, disgusted. He was aware of a munching and slurping sound to his back.

"Admiring my collection?" came a sneering voice. The noisy eating ceased, and Norman's senses homed in on the voice immediately, pinpointing the Corinthian's location.

"Hello, Nightmare," Norman answered. Munching and slurping sounds resumed. The Corinthian was drinking the fluids from one of Argus' eyes like soup from a bowl.

"I've been sent to ask if you are comfortable," continued Norman. "Your stay, while involuntary, should be as pleasant as possible."

"Don't patronize me, mortal. Your obvious lack of eyes will not deter my knife even the slightest bit, should I find you unpleasant."

The slurping began again, then stopped. The Corinthian resumed his speech. "Understand, though--I'm comfortable, yes. But I am not at peace. My Lord still needs me, and I am still going to slaughter every last one of you the moment I get the chance. You owe my King and me a heavy debt for taking me from the Dreaming, and we're only taking checks written with your blood. Heh... you'd better pray that your balance isn't in the red, eh?"

Norman didn't quaver.

"Or, alternatively," added the nightmare, "they could be written with your vitreous humor. But you don't really have any, do you? No juicy eyes in that bony head of yours, hm? Perhaps you could borrow some from friends. Or family."

Norman felt a twinge of fear at the mention of his family, but didn't show it. He'd spent his whole life learning not to show any signs of weakness to these monsters, and he wasn't about to let that go to waste.

"No more combat routines will be necessary for you, nightmare. We've learned all we need to know from you."

"Really? I thought it was rather fun. And there's so much more that I can do, you know--I barely went through an eighth of my technique back there."

"You take pleasure in the combat simulation, yes. We know this," said Norman. "But we need no more data on your combat technique. Instead, we would like to know about your older memories... the ones you inherited from your predecessor."

*Munch. Slurp.*

There was a long silence, broken only by the noises that the Corinthian continued to make. Finally the nightmare caved in. "So, what do you want to know? And why should I tell you?"

"Tell us about the meeting that your predecessor attended a few years ago. The group that called itself 'The Collectors.' Do you recall it?"


Norman stood up, then. "Well, you'd better remember fast. Because we'll only let you back into the combat arena once per piece of relevant information."

The Corinthian grunted nonchalantly, surprisingly nonplussed. Norman hadn't been expecting this.

"Aren't you worried? Isn't it boring in this endless void? Don't you want another opportunity to kill?"

"Like I said, kid. No patronizing. Don't push your luck."

Norman spat angrily on the mound of giant eyeballs, turned, and began to leave.

"Thanks for the garnish!" the Corinthian called after him. "Or was that supposed to be offensive?"

F*cking animals, thought Norman. What kind of world spawns things like that?

He raised his wrist to his mouth and silently breathed "Back to Level 5, clearance code B-4735."

Nothing happened. That was odd...

"Were you looking for this?"

There was a jangling noise. With a sudden shock of realization, Norman knew that the Corinthian was shaking his wrist device.

"It's of no use to you," protested Norman. "You can't escape with it! You don't know the clearance code!"


The Corinthian's knife buried itself three inches into Norman's neck. The blade disappeared completely into his flesh. But Norman didn't bleed or scream or die in pain; he simply winked out of existence, like a snuffed candle flame.

"Well, THAT did nothing for me," the Corinthian mumbled. "Still, though..."

For the first time since Norman's arrival, the Corinthian actually stood up on his feet. He looked over at the mound of eyes, and saw what Norman couldn't see--a half-dead raven, a semi-conscious souvenir from the Corinthian's journey into the simulation arena. Its eyelids were stitched open with splinters and thorns from the dream-forest; it had seen everything that Norman had done after entering. Everything.

The nightmare cut both of the bird's eyes out and popped them into his head. The image of Norman mouthing his clearance code appeared in the Corinthian's mind, playing over and over again... the nightmare struggled to read Norman's lips.

"B..." read the Corinthian, thinking aloud as he memorized each syllable, "hm, definitely a B... then F... O... R... Before? No, words would be too easy, too mnemonic... hm, B-4, perhaps. Then 7... 3..."

Really, this is much too easy. These people have no idea what they're doing at ALL.


The Corporeal Essence of the Omnipresence sat regally on his principled utilitarian throne, looking proudly at his work. His servants were aiding him in the pursuit of absolute moral justice; there could be only one reasonable end, and it was well under way.

"Boss! Boss!" came a panicked underling, a man from the Research department. "The Corinthian's escaping! He got Norman's pass code somehow, and--"

"Did he kill Norman?"

"Yeah, boss. We're making a copy, that's not the problem, but it will take time and resources to recapture--"

"Then all is well," chuckled the CEO. "Carry on as planned."

"But boss--the Corinthian's loose! He swore a blood oath against us!"

"It's part of the plan, Herald," the CEO said, brightly. "Everything's going to work out. Trust me--you'll see."