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The Phoenix Enigma

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This story can only accept characters who rank no higher than "Hypera" on the Power Tiers. You may come up with a character just for this story, or simply use a character you own that has participated in the Villains Multiverse. You may also use up to two characters.

If you have a character that is participating, list him/her/it below (5 or 6 characters total are preferable for the story):

1. Ruichi

2. Nebula

3. Hollow

4. Aeris

5. Pathos

6. Tueor

PART 1 - The Assessment

Consciousness returned slowly to Ruichi as dim and blurred shapes appeared in his vision. It appeared that his hearing was muffled as well, but he could almost make out someone calling his name.

"...Rui...chi... Ruichi..."

Groggily, Ruichi stood up, and with a jolt of horror that snapped his senses awake in an instant, realized that he was trapped within a clear glass tube barely wide enough for him to sit in.

"Ruichi!" called the voice again. Ruichi recognized the voice as that of Nebula's; his closest friend and constant companion. Turning to his right, he realized with another horrifying shock that she was also encased within a glass tube.

"Nebula!" Ruichi exclaimed. "Where the hell are we?"

"I don't know..." Nebula said, scared to tears. "There are others here... a lot of others..."

Ruichi turned about, horrified, gazing upon the rows of glass tubes. Most of them had some person or creature trapped inside, and some were struggling to escape, but to no avail. Ruichi then noticed his scythe leaning against a side of his chamber. "Odd..." he thought. "If someone put us in here, why would they leave us with our weapons?"

Ruichi lifted his scythe and attempted to smash through the glass. His scythe simply bounced off of the glass, leaving no scratch.

"...Ruichi, I'm scared..." Nebula cried. "Will we be okay?"

"I... I don't know..." Ruichi said quietly.

Another voice can be heard nearby, disturbing in the way it continually changes from almost infantile to deep and menacing, the figure in the tube shaking every now and then as their body shifts and warps in time with their words: "..when I get out of here I'm going to tear you apart.. I.. I'm sorry.. please.. let me go.. I don't like it here.. I.." the sentence is broken by manic laughter.

A tiny figure lays motionless in another tube, resembling a humanoid bear with blue fur - his form fitted into a small silver suit of armor with glowing crystals dotting the surface: the creature's eyes remain closed as it lays motionless, resembling a stuffed toy in both size and appearance.

A figure remains struggles with himself. "How did I get in here!? Where am I?"


Suddenly, a voice rings out loudly, echoing throughout the room. The voice is female and human, but disturbingly calm:

“Welcome, one and all, to the Phoenix Industries Detainment Chamber Twelve. Each and every one of you has been selected to participate in a compulsory experiment. Completing the upcoming assessment successfully with all vital functions in working order will result in your immediate release from this facility. The consequences of failure include the possibility of a minor case of severe damage to your self-esteem followed by a 99.976% chance of near-immediate death."

Aeris was "woken" by the announcement. "Experiment?" Aeris kicked at the glass to no effect. "I don't like the sound of this at all..."

"The guidelines of your assessment are as follows..." the voice continued; "each one of you will recieve a Pheonix Industries Electronic Scanning Card Key. The front door to the main facility is locked, and can be opened only with eight of these Card Keys. How you obtain the keys is entirely up to you, subject, but only the other subjects will be holding the keys. Gaining entry to the main lab with all vital functions in working order will mark the end of the assessment. Failure to participate will result in immediate termination."

Nebula looked around frantically, wide-eyed. "Does... does this mean we have to..."

Ruichi closed his eyes and gripped his scythe tightly. "I don't want to kill anyone... Nebula won't be able to kill anyone... what the hell am I supposed to do? By the looks of things, most of these other people will be after our blood to get their hands on these keys..." he thought to himself.

"So when do we start?" Aeris asked. He was not amused at the obvious test. "We can't get anymore cards from inside the glass."

The tiny "bear" doesn't move nor speak - his eyes staying shut as if in sleep, the crystals in his armor glowing continually before his eyes suddenly open, ice blue in color and suddenly a tiny paw launches itself at the glass with frightening strength for something so small.

Tueor looks around trying to find the source of the voice but cannot find anything. "Fine, I'll play your little game. I will not lose though!"

"..no.. I don't want to.. I.. KILL.. KILL.. KILL!" the crazed voice echoes, frightening banging coming from the tube containing the constantly shifting figure.

"You all will be transported to the grounds of this facility along with your keys." the voice said. "Once there, remember to collect eight keys and head for the entrance to the facility with all vital functions in working order. Good luck, subjects."

A blinding flash of light emanates from each tube as everyone is teleported away...

THE ASSESSMENT MAP

Phoenix Game











The above is a map of The Phoenix Industries grounds. The scale bar in the lower left is to give an idea of exactly how large the grounds are. The red circle is the lab entrance, which requires eight keys to open, and according to the overhead voice in the Detainment Chamber, gaining entry means you will have passed the test...

You can choose whichever direction to go first, according to the map. Ruichi starts at the number 1, Hollow at the number 2, Nebula at the number 3, Tueor at the number 4, Pathos at the number 5, and Aeris at the number 6.

For more information about the map, see Phoenix Industries. If one User character meets another... well, we'll figure it out, depending on what happens between those characters.

Ruichi Start

Ruichi finds himself lying on rough grass, face-up. There was an object in his hand- turning his head, he could see that it was a small card with the words "Phoenix Industries" inscribed upon it. He quickly scrambles to his feet and find his scythe lying on the ground in front of him. He takes it up, gripping it tightly, and looks about frantically.

"Nebula?" he calls out. "NEBULA! NEBULAAAAA!"

His voice echoes into silence. Moments later, he could hear the crack of gunshots in the distance.

"...it's started..." he whispered to himself.

As if answering his statement, there was the sound of an earsplitting explosion. Glowing, translucent walls seemed to take form, rising up from the depths of the distant forest that surrounded the grounds. It appeared to be several miles long. The glowing walls curved into the shape of a dome, which enclosed the grounds of the facility.

Ruichi looks up at the walls. "Damn..." he thinks to himself, "there really is no escape... no... I'll find a way. I'll find Nebula and get ourselves out of here..."

Ruichi takes a moment to observe the buildings on either side of him. He then saw the faint outline of what appeared to be a mechanical door. Ruichi, thinking that he might discover some useful information, pushed against the door with no avail. He whacked it with his scythe. Finally, out of frustration, he charged up power and released it in a fiery explosion. When the flames cleared, the walls were intact, and the door was blown apart.

Ruichi slipped into the building. Everything was dark and he could barely see. Creating a fireball for light, he looked around.

What he saw made his heart skip a beat.

Translucent, cocoon-like structures were hanging from the ceiling. Ruichi could see that floating within these cocoons were living people, writhing in agony. Many of these people had various wounds- some appeared to have been shot, others maimed, or even split open with what would appear to have been fatal injuries. Yet here they were, alive, writhing about senselessly, taking no notice of Ruichi.

Ruichi, eyes wide, took a step back. "...Is this our fate... if we lose?" he whispered aloud.

"You sure as hell better believe it."

In that instant, Ruichi's blood ran cold. Twisting around and jumping back, he held out his scythe from behind where he was standing; from where he had heard that voice. Out of the shadows crept a short, emaciated man who appeared to be nothing but skin and bones. His eyes were sunken and hollow, and the way they gazed out emptily made Ruichi shudder.

"They're watching. They're always watching. They see everything..." the weak man said.

"...who? Who's watching?" Ruichi responded.

"They... they can see us... they see our every move, no matter where you go in this facility, they'll see you..."

"...who?" Ruichi repeated nervously.

"She... she has you... your just another... pawn... in this sick game of hers..."

"...tell me, old man..." Ruichi said, both impatiant and terrified. "Who is she?"

The man's bony face grows solemn. "John. He'll tell you." The old man walks away, geturing for Ruichi to follow him. Ruichi, hesitant at first, complies. As they round a corner, Ruichi sees yet another gruesome sight; a man sitting propped against the wall, with a gaping hole in his chest and belly. Upon reluctant closer inspection, Ruichi could see that the man's internal organs were mostly removed, save for his heart and stomach.

Yet the emaciated man staggered over to the carcass, and, in a bizarre action, began to speak with it.

"Sorry to bother you John... but our guest here wants to know about her... also, it's slmost time for dinner, so let's make this quick..."

The old man was silent for a moment, and Ruichi, not knowing what to say or do, remained silent as well. Then the old man turned to Ruichi.

"John said that she is the mind of this facility... she controls everything, she watches our every move... all for the good of science." the old man pauses for a moment, before talking to "John" again. "There. Now, let's eat. Are you hungry? No? Well then... more for me..." the old man reaches into John's nearly-empty chest, ripping out his heart and sinking his own teeth into it before Ruichi had the chance to look away in disgust. Feeling queasy in his stomach and weak on his knees, Ruichi turned and bolted out of the room, and out of the building, gasping in horror.

"Nebula... I have to find Nebula... before this madness happens to us..."

(end of Ruichi's chapter- part 1)

Hollow Start

Hollow aims another punch at the alien container imprisoning his tiny form before he suddenly finds himself blinded by a bright light - awakening in a grassy environment he grows taller so as to see his surroundings better: looking at the key in his hand as his ice blue eyes scan the object for a moment:

"..I will not be the tool of a degenerate dictator - nor shall I be a victim.." he says to himself, clutching the key as he walks across the grass, sniffing the air to pick up nearby scents: the crystals in his armor creating an eerie blue light as he moves around.

Suddenly, there was the sound of a large explosion; glowing walls seemed to form from the edges of the distant forest, curving up into the air, and forming a translucent dome of energy that encased all of the fighters within the facility grounds.

"..hmm.. well I suppose this is a bad idea.. yet given the circumstances.." Hollow says quietly, then closes his eyes - before long he grows significantly in size - stopping at just under 20ft in height: he wobbles ever so slightly as he holds his head "..ugh.. yup.. bad idea.. no matter - at least now I have a better view of this place.." he thinks to himself, looking around.

"Thanksssssssss..." hissed a voice behind him. "For making yoursssssself an easssssier target!"

Hollow doesn't turn around as he simply replies "..larger - perhaps.. easier.. well.. we shall see.." - he proceeds to stay perfectly still: waiting for the inevitable.

The click of a large gun can be heard behind him. After a few moments, the voice speaks again. "Well? Aren't you going to at least try to run?"

Hollow finally turns around, his ice blue eyes show a surprising lack of fear as he responds calmly "you seek to intimidate me, if you had truly wanted to kill me - I'd already be dead.. so.. the question is.. aren't you going to start shooting?".

The figure, who appears to be a freakish blend between reptile and human, and who also has a rocket launcher mounted over his shoulder, scowls. "You're no fun at all." he hisses, before firing his rocket launcher straight at Hollow's chest.

Hollow suddenly turns to one side, evading the gunfire with surprising accuracy - then charges forward and extends four sharp claws as he swipes at the figure with one of those large paws: intending to knock the rocket launcher clean off "..actually I am a lot of fun once you get to know me, for example I am a highly trained soldier of the Ursa people.. I am also immune to almost all emotional trauma.. it is a wonder really.. though I try not to brag.. think of me as an emotional void.. completely Hollow..".

The reptilian figure yelps in suprise and evades the claws; his rocket launcher, however, is knocked out of his hands and goes sailing a short distance away. Opening his jacket, he proceeds to remove two smaller guns which he takes in each hand, and begins firing at Hollow.

Hollow dodges and swerves at the gunfire, shrinking down at a rapid rate, his ears twitching as they pick up on sound to help him judge - though he does flinch once or twice as his shoulder is grazed by the gunfire.. curiously after reaching a certain height he stops evading the more serious gunfire, his small form seeming to now absorb the gunfire full-on. The Ursa proceeds to casually make his way towards his opponent.

"What the-" the reptilian figure exclaimed, before tossing his guns aside and grasping two other larger guns in each hand from within his jacket, resuming fire with heavier artillery.

Hollow continues shrinking as he rolls across the ground, trying to avoid the heavier gunfire - yet even when hit he seems to shrug it off: the situation seeming impossible, the smaller he becomes the more he seems to absorb the damage: eventually he stops rolling and leaps forward - under normal circumstances a small figure leaping like this would be comical but considering the circumstances this is likely no laughing matter for the poor reptile, who may well of bitten off more than he could chew..

As Hollow leaps forward, the reptile attempts to take a shot, but misses at such close range...

Hollow starts to grow larger, then aims a headbutt at the reptile's torso - much like being ramed into by a small child.. with the strength of a human adult.. "..you are ignorant of the rules of combat.. allow me to be your mentor.. first rule.. he who rushes into battle is often the first to lose his head..".

The reptilian figure staggers back, hisses angrily, then pulls out a dagger also hidden within his jacket.

Hollow stands up, growing slightly bigger as he raises a hand - twitching his fingers to produce sharp claws "..I have four.." he notes, then looks to his other hand, which is clutched into a fist "..well, eight.. if you want me to fight dirty.. however.. that hardly seems fair.. does it?" he says.

The figure lunges at Hollow, ready to stab.

Hollow notices the attack and strikes with his claws, this time aiming to knock the dagger out - as he does so he quickly aims a powerful blow with his elbow, intending to knock his opponent out: "..have it your way".

The reptile is thrown back a small distance by Hollow's attack, and slumps unconscious on the ground.

Hollow looks to the figure for a moment, then back at his torn shoulder - watching as the silver armor repairs itself, the crystals glowing as he turns and walks away, commenting to himself "..a savage world I have been tasked with defending.. however in time they will learn..".

After Hollow has walked some distance away, a small hole opens up in the ground, and a mechanical arm with a blade on the end reaches out, impaling the reptilian figure and lifting him off the ground. The bladed arm proceeds to pull the unfortunate reptile into the hole...

(end of Hollow's chapter- part 1)

Nebula Start

Nebula awoke to find herself curled up on the hard ground. Underneath her hand, she could feel a small object; on closer inspection, she assumed that it was the card key that was promised to each of the "subjects". Fear took a hold of her as she quickly got up onto her feet. Looking around, she noticed that she was in the corner of a large, metal building.

"What do I do? What do I do?" she repeated quietly to herself. She backed up, pressing herself against the corner, paralyzed in terror.

"Ruichi... where are you?" she whispered tearfully.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a bullet whizzing by her and smashing into the wall a few inches away from her head. Nebula screamed in terror and began to fly away as fast as she could. Another bullet whizzed by her as she was escaping, and it had barely missed her.

Suddenly, the sound of an explosion startled her; she screamed again and cowered on the rough grass, hiding her face from view, and not seeing the translucent walls of energy that seemed to be miles away and miles tall forming into a giant dome...

Moments later, Nebula lifted her head to see a boy who looked to be about a teenager, standing over her and holding what appeared to be a fusion of a gun and a sword loosely to his side. Nebula whimpered in fear and backed away like a small, terrified animal.

"...I'm not going to hurt you." the boy said.

Nebula, being a Wisp, was capable of seeing the honesty in this boy's heart, and slowly looked up at him.

"I... I-I'm scared..." Nebula stuttered. "I j-just want to l-leave this place..."

"This is one hell of a sick game..." the boy said. "And I'll protect you until we can get out of here."

"But... I have a friend in here... and don't we need keys?"

"If we come across your friend, he can join us. As for keys, I won't resort to killing innocents. We can try to get people to join us, and share the keys among ourselves. We need not to resort to violence."

Nebula nodded, and stood up. "My- my name is Nebula."

"Nigel." the boy said. "Now lets hurry up and move before someone finds us... especially if that someone has a gun."

Nebula and Nigel both set off around the building, hoping to come across the entrance soon...

(End of Nebula's chapter, part 1)

Tueor Start

Tueor wakes near a wall at the industries. In his pocket he can feel a small, thin, rectangular shape. Suddenly realizing what has to be done he collects himself and startes heading west to where he believes he sees the entrance.

The sound of a loud explosion shatters the very air as a dome of energy begins to form over the grounds; the dome is large and appears to be miles wide, and has trapped all participants within...

Tueor pauses for a moment. "Hmm...what is the pourpose of that?" He keeps heading in the direction he was originally going.

Suddenly, an arrow pierces the ground less than an inch from his foot.

Tueor stops in his steps. "What...." He starts running covering himself in a shield of shwirling wind to divert any arrow that comes his way.

Another arrow flies dangerously close to him, but is deflected to the side, missing his skin by less than an inch. In front of Tueor, a small distance away, is a gaunt figure with a crossbow in his hands, and three different blades strapped on his back.

Tueor stops, suprised at how close the arrow came to hitting him. "Who are you?"

The figure doesn't answer as he takes aim and fires another arrow.

Tueor swiftly dodges out of the way, runs up to the character and throws his fist into the strangers gut.

As Tueor approaches the figure, he can see that the figure is covered with light armor, and his punch only serves to push him back a small distance. The figure quickly sheathes his crossbow and grabs two of the blades strapped on his back- one in each hand- and lunges at Tueor.

Tueor flips way over the head of the character that rushed at him then turns and send a huge gust to attack the figures armor.

Tueor's prowess over the wind only serves to make the figure stagger slightly; a second later, the figure swings both his blades at him.

Tueor creates a shield of dense Ice to block both blades then turned it on its side and swung it at the figure with incredible speed.

The figure backflips over Tueor's attack with suprising agility, and tosses away his two swords, which land in the ground hilt-up. He draws his third blade- a larger, thicker sword- and prepares to smash through Tueor's ice shield.

Tueor throws the shield into the ground then stand on top of it, waiting to see how the figure reacts.

The figure swings his blade at Tueor regardless.

Tueor dodges by falling onto his back just as the figure swings. Then he kicks the shield of ice up at the head of the figure.

The sound of a gruesome 'crack' is heard as the figure's head snaps back; a spray of blood is spattered against the shield as the figure falls back onto the ground.

(Permission to kill granted)

Tueor walks up to the character with the shield in hand. He changes the edge of the shield to be as sharp as a sword and thrusts it at the characters neck, beheading him. "Hmph. That was a little harder than I expected." Tueor walks over and examines the body. He smiles as soon as he found what he was looking for. A key. Tueor then quickly rose up and started towards the entrance once again.

As Tueor walks away, a small hole opens up in the ground, and writhing cables emerge from it like snakes. The cables wrap around the body of Tueor's victim and drag him into the hole...

(end of Tueor's chapter- part 1)

Pathos Start

Pathos awoke near a large lake, she shakes uncontrollably as she looks around with wide-eyes, only to suddenly convulse as her appear warped - taking on a hunched appearance as her face twisted into a grimace.

"..I'm.. so... angry.." she says slowly, her voice changing with each spoken word - another violent twist of her body occurs as her arms and legs dangle like a scarecrow, her face growing into a inhuman grin.

"..DESTROY! DESTROY! DESTROY!" she cackles, mad laughter filling the air as she runs quite disturbingly into the lake, disappearing beneath the waves for a few moments before she swims towards a nearby river - the water constantly splashing and bubbling due to the way her body keeps changing every now and then as a new personality takes control of her instable form.

The sound of a large explosion suddenly split the air as translucent walls of energy rose up from all around, forming a giant dome that appeared to be several miles wide, enclosing the facility grounds and every participant within...

Pathos continues swimming for a good few minutes, finally coming to a stop as she looks around - her eyes darting back and forth as she speaks in a sing-song voice: "..row, row, row your boat.. gently down the stream.. if you see a crocodile.. don't forget to SCREAM" - her last word is yelled, her voice once again taking a crazed tone as she splashes in the water.

An arrow strikes the surface of the water inches from where Pathos is. Standing on the riverbank in front of her is an elfish figure with a gigantic bow, aimed right at Pathos.

Pathos stops in the water and stares at the figure, as she does so her neck twists to one side and her voice goes into a kind of whisper "..don't.. be.. afraid.." - as she speaks the figure begins to feel a rush of fear enter their thoughts, Pathos' words seeming to somehow trigger an emotional response.

The figure shudders, and backs slowly away- obviously from the effects of Pathos' attack- but still aims his bow at her.

Pathos sways in place before jerking visibly - her voice changing as she yells out "DO IT! DO IT NOW!" - suddenly a rush of uncontrollable rage and fury builds up inside her target, making judgement harder as Pathos' words once again seem to strike at the emotions.

The figure releases the arrow at Pathos...

Pathos suddenly dives under the water and swims towards the figure at an alarming rate, her body twisting and swerving in ways that should be impossible - the water seeming to bubble slightly due to all the erratic movements: even if the arrows hit their mark the girl seems too insane to even notice the pain..

Due to the incredible speed of Pathos, only one single arrow manages to strike it's target.

Pathos proceeds to leap out of the water, an arrow lodged in her arm - reaching her arms out in an attempt to drag the archer into the water: "tag! you're it!".

"...what the hell are y-" the archer tries to say before being pulled into the lake with Pathos.

Pathos proceeds to clamp her arms and legs around her victim as they both end up underwater - despite the obvious fact Pathos can not breathe underwater she seems to have no fear about potentially drowning both herself and the would-be-aggressor: bubbles forming all around them as they struggle.

The figure struggles, eyes bulging, face turning blue; yet he can't escape the grip of Pathos.

(permission to kill granted)

Pathos notices the way the figure struggles and something inside her seems to change - she quickly repositions herself and snaps his neck, ending his life almost instantly before releasing the body.. swimming up to the surface..

"..no.. no more pain.." she whispers, only now noticing the arrow in her arm she proceeds to yank it out with disturbing calm - swimming away with a final look back, seeming somewhat sad..

(end of Pathos' chapter- part 1)

Aeris Start

Aeris looked around the empty field. "Just great." He mumbled. He checked his pockets for the key and sure enough found it. Aeris could make out a building in the distance. "That must be the place. If I go there the cards will come to me."

The sound of an explosion suddenly tore through the silence as glowing, translucent walls of energy rose up from the ground some distance away. The walls seemed to curve around, encasing the facility inside a giant dome, trapping all of the subjects inside...

"What was that?" Aeris wondered out loud. He now thought he found something more interesting to spend his time on. "A small detour." Aeris said to himself. "That is all." Aeris turned around to investigate the strange force field.

A small hole opens up in the ground nearby and cables launch themselves at Aeris, but stop nearby. Then they retract. Another cable, with what appears to be a speaker on it's end, raises itself up to eyelevel with Aeris.

"You display no vital signs." a voice says from the cable- the very same voice that spoke to them all in the test chamber. "And yet, you appear human. Ah. I see now. You are a cyborg."

"I suppose you could call me that." Aeris dusted himself off. "And you are some kind of security system? Or a trap perhaps?"

"I am the mind of this facility. I must have made an error in bringing you here; this test calls for human test subjects, and I can hardly call you 'human'".

"What's that mean for me then? Am I out of the game? Not that I care much either way."

"No... tell me, cyborg. How 'human' do you think you are?"

"I..." Aeris thought a moment. "I don't know. I haven't interacted with enough humans to make that judgement."

"Well then... we'll just consider this a new part of the test."

"Very well. I'll accept your challenge."

The cables retract into the ground and the hole seals itself, leaving the vacinity with an eerie silence.

Aeris tried to remember what he was doing beforehand. "Ah yes, the forcefield." He looked around and spotted it once again. "There." Aeris started walking.

Moments later, the click of a gun could be heard clearly in the silence.

Aeris calmly turned to face the gun and it's wielder.

A rugged youth stands before Aeris, with a revolver in one hand and a knife in the other. The youth himself looks beaten down, yet his stance and gaze seem to exude intensity.

"What is your problem?" Aeris asked. "And do you really think you can hurt me with those?"

"You know we don't have a choice..." the youth says. "We've all been pulled into this sick game... our survival is all that matters now..."

"I'll tell you what. I'll give you my key if you agree to follow me." Aeris held out his key card.

"...I don't trust you!" the youth said. "You're just going to backstab me later! That's all it is with these people! Lies and deception!"

"I'm conducting a little research here. Besides, there is nothing stopping me from killing you here and now. I suggest you trust the being who is more powerful than you. Otherwise, you won't last two seconds out here."

"You-" the youth growled, before he was interrupted by the crack of a gunshot. The youth fell to the ground, lifeless, while another figure stooped over him and took his key. The new figure looked up and, seeing Aeris, smirked.

"Two in a row. My lucky day."

"You ruined my experiment. Who are you?"

"You thought of him... as an experiment?" the new figure said. He then burst out laughing. "Bwa ha ha haaa! I like you... too bad I have to end you now."

"You won't even identify yourself?" Aeris frowned. "And what else would I call him? Humans are interesting, if not misguided."

"...I take it you aren't human? I'm not surprised- I've seen a number of odd creatures here."

"Odd huh?" Aeris stared at the man. "So what are you going to do? Try to kill me and die in the process, or try to run so I can steal your keycards?"

"Let's see... cocky, arrogant, has a superiority complex..."

"I am not arrogant." Aeris replied. "I know for a fact that I am superior to you."

"We'll see..." the figure says. He then lifts his gun and begins firing at Aeris.

The bullets flatten as they hit Aeris' body. "I am beginning to think that you are the arrogant one."

"Try this, then." the figure says, lifting another gun in his other hand and firing a bullet that crackles with intense energy.

Aeris creates a forcefield that disperses the energy. "This must be embarrassing.'

"The party's just started." the figure said. He leaps into the air, aiming a kick at Aeris' head.

Aeris grabs his leg and slams him into the ground. He puts one foot on the man's chest and shifts all his weight to it. "How does that feel?"

"...Refreshing." the figure said. He placed a small device on Aeris' ankle that sent a strong shock through his body.

Aeris stumbled backwards. "What is that?"

"Just one of my gadgets..." the figure said. "You're going to be the most fun I've had in a while."

Aeris punched the man in the jaw.

the figure staggered back, before lunging forward at Aeris with his knife.

Aeris tore the knife out of the man's hand and rammed it into his chest.

"AaaaaaAAAAAaaaaAAAaaaaaaauuuugggghhhh...." the figure groaned. Then he grinned evilly. "Just kidding." With unexpected strength, the figure punched Aeris a distance away from him and pulled the knife out of his own chest.

"Alright, you've piqued my curiosity. Are you some sort of super human made by the Phoenix labs?"

"...what? No! ...but I won't deny that I am superhuman."

"Could we come to an agreement? If it's the card you are after, I'll let you have it."

"What?! Don't chicken out!"

"I see then. You are just using this experiment as an excuse to do whatever you please. You could care less about completing it."

"I am going to complete it- I'm just going to have a little fun along the way!"

"You're completely unstable."

"Maybe I am." the figure says. "But I don't care!" as he yells this, he darts forth at Aeris with another gun in his hands.

Aeris quickly grabbed the man's gun, crushes it, and then elbowed him in the face.

The man falls back, and reaches for another gun in his jacket.

Aeris backhands the gun out of the man's hand and tears off his jacket. "Enough of this." The jacket explodes into a burst of fire and light.

The man hollers in agony, collapsing on the ground.

(permission to kill granted.)

Aeris leans down and puts his index fingers on the man's temples. "I'll end it quick." Beams of light shot into the man's head. He fell over, lifeless. Aeris stood back up. "Humans... perhaps it would be right to follow my original programming..." Aeris noticed that, in the remains of the man's burning cloak, three card keys sat. He quickly collected them and put them into his pocket. "That makes four."

Suddenly, the hole in the ground that opened up earlier reopens, and cables slink out of it like snakes. They wrap around the man's corpse and pull it into the hole, which then promptly seals itself shut.

"How odd." Aeris said to himself. He quickly recollected himself and began on his way once more.

(end of Aeris' chapter - part 1)

PART 2 -

Ruichi & Hollow

Hollow continues along his path, looking down at the ground as he speaks quietly "..you know.. the further we get involved the more I realize why we came to this world in the first place.. such corruption..".

A short distance away, Hollow can see a crimson-haired youth running, with a scythe in his hands. The youth stops for a moment to take a breather.

Hollow approaches the youth slowly, being mindful not to startle them while also ensuring he is ready for a battle should the youth turn hostile.

The youth sees Hollow approaching, takes a step back, and grips his scythe cautiously.

Hollow continues approaching slowly "..I assume you will attack me regardless but I should at least try to inform you that I am a law-enforcer to my people - I will not kill you but I will not in turn allow you to murder me for sport..".

"...in sport? I don't kill people like that- there is nothing I hate more than violence..." the youth said.

Hollow looks to the scythe in the youth's hands "..for one who professes to despise violence one sure picks a rather offensive weapon - no?" he notes.

"...I hate violence, but... sometimes... we have to fight... to protect the people we love and the ideals we stand for." the youth says.



Nebula & Tueor

(Start with Tueor)

Tueor continues walking on the grounds toward the door. Looking constantly for some else he can take a key from.

In the distance, he can see two figures- a small girl whose entire form appeared to be a shade of pink, and a taller youth.

Tueor, using the power of wind, hover over the ground at a quick speed to get to the figures. "Hello." He says as he lands.

The girl screams and hides behind the youth, who simply stands tensely. "...are you here after our keys?" he growls.

"I would like keys, but I have a hard time hurting girls, so dont worry about it."

"...I still don't trust him..." Nebula said quietly

"How can I prove that I wont hurt you?"

"...I don't know." the youth said. "But it's hard to trust anyone in a game like this."

"Yeah, tell me about it. I was walking by myself when a bowman tried to kill me out of nowhere." Tueor responded.

"Wait a minute..." Nebula said. "I remember you now... you fought Arbiter with us!"

"Yeah," Tueor nodded and smiled, "Thats me."

There was a momentary silence. "...I still don't trust you." Nebula said.

The other youth squinted into the distance, then yelled "Get down!", pulling Tueor and Nebula to the ground.

A blast of energy sailed over their heads and into the distance.

Tueor looks up. "What was that?"

"Move!" The youth yells out, half-lifting Tueor and Nebula and darting off. Another blast of energy explodes where they were moments ago. In the distance stand two figures; A caped sorcerer and a tall swordsman wielding a katana.

Tueor get out of the youths grip and steps towards the two. "Alright, if its a fight you want, then its a fight you will get." Tueor summons two kunai, one of ice, one of light.

The swordsman runs forth at blinding speed; the sorcerer stays back and begins chanting another spell.

Tueor jumps to the side and then throws one of the kunai at the sorcerer.

The kunai Tueor throws shatters as the swordsman cleaves through it in midair. The other youth, who was originally with Nebula, darts at the sorcerer.

"...Nigel! Wait!" Nebula calls out to the youth.

Too late; the sorcerer finishes his spell, summoning a wave of energy that slams into Nigel and Tueor, throwing them back a distance.

Tueor lands on his feet and then summons his sword to his hand and engages the swordsman in battle.

Yet no matter what move Tueor tries to use, the swordsman manages to counter it with the exact same speed and ferocity.

A blast of energy hurtles toward Nigel, summoned by the sorcerer. Nigel leaps out of the way and continues charging at him.

"Well..." Tuoer thinks of something then uses the power of ice to freeze the feet of the swordsman which catchs him of guard long enought for Tuoer to put the blade of his sword at the swordsman's throat.

(no controlling my characters, M-NUva- I will be the one who says if they get caught off-guard.)

Strangely, the ice at the swordsman's feet shatters seemingly of it's own accord as he deflects Tueor's blade easily and steps back. (there is a reason this happens, which will be made clear later in this fight)

(Hmm...I haz a new plan) Tueor jumps back a ways motioning the character to come at him.

The swordsman stands still, not heeding Tueor's beckoning.

Tueor frowns..."Well..." Tuoer causes a giant iceicle to shoot out of the ground from underneath the swordsman.

Pathos & Aeris

Pathos continues on her way, barefoot and looking very unkempt as she moves in an erratic series of motions - looking around every now and then as she shifts from bouts of babbling to deadly silence.

Suddenly, in front of her she finds a corpse, burned beyond recognition.

Aeris spots a person standing over a dead body. "Does it have a key?" he asks.

Pathos notices the new figure and shrugs, she proceeds to pick up the corpse and begins to dance with it - as she does so sings a song "..ring-a-ring-a-roses, a pocket full of poses, atishoo! atishoo! we all fall down.. the cows are in the meadow, eating buttercups, ashes, ashes, we all stand up..".

"How helpful.' Aeris scans over the body for any sign of a key.

Pathos tosses the body towards Aeris after th dance and looks to him "..by the pricking of one's thumb - something wicked this way comes..".

Just then, something bizarre happens- the burned body lands on it's feet and turns it's head toward Pathos- a feat that ought to be impossible considering how the body was already dead...

Pathos looks to the body and tilts her head from side to side "..what is it, little one? are you afraid? no need to fear.. the great beyond.. no pain.. no sorrow.. oh! I know.. how rude.." - she does a cursty towards the corpse, noting to Aeris "..one must always remember manners, after all".

"Yes, indeed." says the voice of a man. A short distance away, a black-cloaked man can be seen approaching them, holding an open book- surrounding him are three bodies with hollow eyes that walk alongside him.

"I am Adonis the necromancer, prodigy of the Dark Order." he said, politely bowing- the three bodies near him and the burnt corpse did the same. "One ought to always remember manners- it is protocol, even before a fight to the death. You rarely see that around here, with all of these barbarians running loose..."

Pathos grins as he turns towards Adonis "..you.. look like someone I know.. from a dream.. yes.. he was with many others.. all different.. they said I was special.." - Pathos grin fades as she suddenly goes into deep thought, holding a hand to her mouth as she narrows her eyes "..they said.. "one day.. you'll understand.." ..".

"Is this a dead man coming back to life or has it just become a puppet?" Aeris asks.

"...Just a puppet?" Adonis retorts. "You insult me, good sir; Necromancy is an art, not some simple puppet show..."

"Then you are telling me-" Aeris points to the burnt man "-that he has the same consciousness as the person he was before death?"

"Oh, of course not... he is under my total control... however, he is much more than a simple 'puppet'..."

Pathos continues to stay serious, still in deep thought "..I am Pathos.. that's what I am.. you do not see.. we're all goning to die..".

At the mention of the word "die", Adonis' face contorts into a frown.

"Die? No... the very last enemy I will overcome is death itself..."

"Well what do you want from us? Surely this game can't help you in that endeavor." Aeris replies.

"What I want," Adonis said, "is a duel to the death with a respectful warrior, not one of these many barbarians running amok."

"Not sure I can help you there. I cannot die."

"Hm..." Adonis mutters as he observes Aeris. "Cyborg, huh?"

"If by that you mean a machine that resembles a human, then yes."

"Hm... I'm curious... will you fight me, machine?"

"If you are that intent on it, go right ahead."

Pathos suddenly grins and claps her hands as she changes her emotions, becoming akin to an excited child "..fight! fight! fight!".

"That's the spirit." Adonis says before he leaps back. The four deceased bodies under his control stand between him and Aeris.

"You don't intend to fight me yourself?" Aeris asks.

"This is how I fight, machine." Adonis states.

"Very well, I'll kill your little pets."

Pathos spins in a circle and begins singing a song "..this is the way we maim and kill, maim and kill, maim and kill, this is the way we maim and kill - on a cold and frosty morning..".

The four bodies each ran toward Aeris to attack him.

As Pathos spins around and sings her haunting tune those capable of picking up emotion start to feel a sudden blood-lust enter their minds - a side-effect of Pathos' powerful yet uncontrolled empathic-manipulation.

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