Independent of the trials and troubles being caused by one Starwhale and his various cohorts was a simple king. He was a large and imposing one, both mirthful and ruthless when necessary. Each and every aspect of the obsidian ruler was perfect (he is The King after all, saying otherwise would be blasphemy) his beard (like a lion's mane, covering the lower half of his face and flowing like the most beautiful hair, the only challenger belonging to an ivory idiot), his stature (no need for a vehicle like the other pieces, he was large and in charge and the palace reflected this), and his voice (his laugh was on par with Santa Claus or whatever the chess-world equivalent would be). The point was that The King was everything expected of him and so much more, and right now he was learning of the incident caused by the mammoth flying whale.
"So what news do you bring me today citizen?"
"My sire, there is chaos in the streets, five odd beings, neither our people nor our enemies have appeared and have disrupted our people."
"I have been awaiting these foreigners since I last heard from my sister across the ocean. They must be the five warriors she sent to support us and defeat the White menace once and for all."
"Sire, could you please elaborate?"
"Of course, of course. First, send for them to join us here in the palace, and then I shall explain all."
The tiny, at least compared to the King, servant immediately did as he was told as the King stroked his heavenly facial hair. When he returned, the King stood and took out a letter, along with reading glasses.
"As you can see from this letter, my sister across the sea won her war and heard of how mine was still in its infancy. Wishing us to be successful in our endeavor as she was in hers, she sent five of her most intelligent and powerful warriors, each trained in ways we have never seen, in order to give us an advantage over that pearl menace. Obviously they have arrived, I will respond to her with this glorious news as soon as I meet them. With their aid, we shall make the white rue the day they came to war with us."
As he ended his words, he gave off his characteristic laugh, shaking the floors of his palace as they rang throughout the surrounding area.
Back with the power couple, they were moving along, trying to stick with the Starwhale and get a better grasp of the situation when they were stopped by a large (and not just to them) and imposing well dressed man. Looking down with a bit of a sneer, he closed his eyes and held out two black cards.
"Fair guests, of Shogi Square, The King desires your presence at the palace."
Without another word, he rushed off to grab the attention of Starwhale.
"Well, that doesn't sound like us."
"Mmm, hmm, it seems like we got a case of mistaken identity. Should we go?"
"Well, he is The King, it would be rude to turn him down. We could explain to him and then maybe we'd get a grasp of what we've gotta do here."
"I don't know... where there's a King there's a princess and I don't enjoy the sound of that."
"Oh, come on, that was once, and I didn't even like her."
Charlotte looks at her husband with a face of "yea right" but sighed and decided to go along with her husband's wishes. At least this time.
"Fine, let's go."
Let's get a closer look at this then.
The two white creatures that had been talking about him had been fairly wary when he approached to observe them, but they were also unarmed and stood at about half of his size (not that they were standing, they were crouched behind a concrete barrier) and the only other direction of escape was into a battle. Whatever these things were they were clearly juveniles, despite their ability to talk, as they clearly didn't have nearly enough limbs to be adults. Their carapaces looked extraordinarily thick and heavy, Krik'Ix doubted he could have pierced them without significant effort, but they were cowering away from him all the same. (Was his guise threatening to them? At home it would have been clear to everyone that he lacked the scars and chipped scythes of a career warrior, but apparently they were not familiar with his people's customs. How convenient.)
Summary: they were useless. He had been told to expect a fight to the death, and so obviously his first step had to be the acquisition of suitable bodyguards. Cowardly unarmed children were hardly going to fit the bill.
One of them almost fell backwards in fright as Krik'Ix's wing cases flicked open and his eyes flicked in its direction.
"Why are you wasting time? Return to your duties!"
Krik'Ix strolled past the pair without a second glance. Giving orders was his right, they feared him so they would obey him.
The pawns glanced at each other and then scrambled to a new alertness that would last at least five minutes. The weird bug-man hadn't been white, but he wasn't black either... He hadn't tried to kill them so maybe he was some kind of allied stealth unit? They weren't paid to ask questions and besides, he was walking into a battlefield so it wouldn't matter for long.
Said conflict was, in Krik'Ix's opinion, a deplorable waste of resources. Troop carriers and armoured vehicles would roll up to the barrier periodically (emerging from odd industrial buildings at either side of the wide road he was standing on, factories of some kind?), exchange fire and then usually fall to the larger weapons emplacements lined on the buildings above, thus making no progress at all. Every so often a particularly large vehicle would make a push, compacting the accumulated bodies and technology into a flattened layer of twisted metal, gore and marble powder, but never get far enough to actually achieve anything other than clear the debris a little.
What he didn't understand is why they didn't just try sending troops around each other, there were clearly several free and completely unguarded avenues to either side that they could have used to effect some kind of flanking manoeuvre, but each side just continued running head-on into each other as if there was no other way to go. He'd seen children with better battle tactics than this! Although admittedly, as the younger offspring of each hive made up at least 70% of their military forces, that might not be much of a fair comparison.
Their great armoured carts were impressive to be sure, they moved far faster and more smoothly than any of the ungainly steam automatons he'd seen before, but it didn't look likely that he was going to be able to convince any of these soldiers to stop fighting long enough to then persuade them to follow him around and kill people for him. He could be charismatic when he had to but they clearly had other matters on their minds. Turning back would show the smaller guards weakness though, which was something he could not abide, so the sudden arrival of Cambronne was quite fortunate.
His appearance was heralded by the wail of police cars(loud and piercing enough to make Krik'Ix and his sensitive ears wince, though he couldn't close his wing-case-sound-amplifiers as he needed them open to talk) and the similar but far more enjoyable wails of those foolish enough not to get out of his way. Which was most people really. The soldiers were far too intent on each other to look around until they'd been hoisted into the air and flayed. Some of the chess men seemed to be made out of marble and what the barbed whips did to their much tougher skin was not particularly fast but it was certainly quite impressive. And they didn't enjoy it much.
It's quite possible that if the assembled military forces had thought to look around a little then Cambronne could have been in serious trouble, but in the heat of battle these troops had been conditioned to seek out targets of one colour and break them into tiny pieces and warzone habits are tough ones to break. Cambronne didn't even register in their vision. The military just sort of fought around the twisted spirit, leaving a small circle of space for him to move through, which was fine by him as if he just kept out of the way of weapons fire the he could have his pick of whomever he thought would react best to his special attentions.
The pursuing police had no such luck, the Black forces remaining an obstinate wall to their progress and some of the White forces splintering off to try and engage them in battle. What a shame.
This did not go unnoticed by the insectoid nobleman. While the being causing chaos within the battling forces seemed to be taking a little bit too much enjoyment from his work, he certainly seemed to know what he was doing. And as far as he could remember from the speech he had received before arriving in this place (he hadn't exactly been listening, a strange force had prevented him from opening his wings which meant that his hearing had been rather dulled) he was also another contestant, which meant that he was must be in some way important (this was only logical, if the contestants weren't people of importance then Krik'Ix would never have been selected).
As this was apparently some form of battle to the death then the most sensible strategy would be to work together with at least one of the other contestants in order to more efficiently eliminate all of the rest while gathering information on how to most easily betray his team-mate in the final round, and Cambronne seemed to fit that role perfectly.
It would take quite some volume to attract his attention over the din of battle but fortunately Krik'Ix's sizable wing cases could amplify sound outwards as well as inwards, broadcasting a rather jarringly cultured voice over the top of the popping of gunfire and the howls of those caught in Cambronne's tender clutches.
”Excuse me? You there! With the whips? Unless I am greatly mistaken, I believe we have already been introduced so please excuse me for skipping some formalities.
Either this is the most bizarre dream I have ever experienced or we have both been entered into some form of tournament. I believe it would be to our mutual benefit if we could form some kind of... partnership, that is if you can manage to extract yourself from this brawl and make your way to my position.”
Krik'Ix had no intention of ever taking orders from anyone else or letting them on an equal footing, if there was going to be any kind of team then clearly he was going to be the leader, but it was an easy lie to make.
Because of their spacefaring nature, the songs of other starwhales are typically the only forms of music an individual of that species will encounter during their millennia-long lifespan, barring the rare highly unproductive visit to planetary ground. Even when the latter occurs the whale in question rarely notices, as most displays of music are of too low a decibel count to catch their notice. Only in exceptional cases will a starwhale encounter an instance of music loud enough for it to bother with a legitimate reaction.
Thus Starwhale was completely unprepared for the nightclub’s bass, and doubly so for when it was dropped.
“WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE,” the airborne astromammal bellowed, hovering above the Kingmaker’s entrance like a confused blimp. Its eyes and flippers rolled in distress at the pounding beats emanating from the deceptively small building, stray lights illuminating the odd patch of twitching skin and gaping baleen. Far below it a couple of bouncers took turns glaring at the whale and each other, eventually deciding on knocking the teeth out of some sap with a fake ID.
“UTTERLY PREPOSTEROUS,” Starwhale moaned. His depthless eyes swept the ragged packs of chess pieces clinging to the club’s exterior like bloated fleas. “HOW DOES ONE EVEN TOLERATE SOUNDS OF THIS VOLUME? WHY DO THEY REPEAT SO QUICKLY? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS… GRINDING? WHERE DOES ONE EVEN FIND FOOTWEAR OF THAT ANGLE?”
Inside the club, some of the patrons began to stir uncomfortably at the psychic barrage of Starwhale’s ire, though the majority of them were too intoxicated on the substance of their choice to care. Part opium den and part cockfight, swarms of bodies collided with each other in frenzied combat and nausea-induced glee in a rough ring around Mia and her bodyguards. The mob princess was currently engaged in a tipsy Charleston with an incredibly nervous Craisle and was doing things with her hands that everyone in the immediate vicinity was making a point of politely not noticing.
“Boss,” Lazlo hissed, “You hear that?”
Mia closed her eyes and frowned. Craisle tried to be subtle about looking for an escape route.
“Sounds like that whale.”
“Tell it to fuck off,” she said. Her dancing took a turn for the worst.
“STARWHALE IS TIRED OF THIS! STARWHALE DID NOT BRING COMFORTABLE SHOES AND FINDS THESE DRINK OPTIONS HIGHLY OVERPRICED AND STARWHALE IS NOT ENJOYING STARWHALESSELF IN THE SLIGHTEST!”
“Let’s go, lady,” Dmitri growled, taking Mia by the upper arm. Her protests were cut short as she was dragged through the crowd to the rapidly hushed complaints of the masses, pushed unceremoniously out the front door and suddenly confronted by a giant purple whale.
“YOUNG HUMAN WOMAN,” the bereaved creature trumpeted. His flippers wiggled unhappily, upsetting air currents for miles. “YOU ARE LATE. STARWHALE IS UNSURE OF WHAT TIME THE AFOREMENTIONED APPOINTMENT OCCUPIES BUT STARWHALE IS POSITIVE THAT YOU HAVE FAILED TO MEET IT. IN ADDITION, YOUR GARMENT APPEARS DISHEVELED. STARWHALE IS TERRIBLY AFRAID THAT DUE TO POLICY STARWHALE MUST INSIST ON PROPER DRESS CODE ON, AH, THIS SOUND,” the whale sang sadly. “THIS HELLISH SOUND! FORGIVE STARWHALE FOR LANGUAGE. THIS IS STARWHALE.”
“What was that about the lady’s clothes?” Scissors said in a low gravel-in-a-blender kind of voice. He did something to his pistol that made a sound onomatopoeic for “kill”.
The hovering whale eyed the bodyguard skeptically. Its mighty tail swung, atomizing an unfortunate pack of Knights. “STARWHALE IS QUITE CERTAIN SMALL HUMAN HEARD STARWHALE. YOU CANNOT IGNORE STARWHALE. PERHAPS TINY HUMAN IS MIND-DEAF, IN WHICH CASE TINY HUMAN HAS STARWHALE’S SYMPATHY. STARWHALE HAS HEARD IT IS A PITIABLE CONDITION.”
Mia pressed her knuckles to her temples, hoping the whale would just go away if she tried to sober up hard enough. It didn’t, though, and loomed like an wheezing, insulted storm bank as Scissors continued to threaten its life, in response to which it began on a long-winded lecture about the corrigibility of such behavior and how starwhales were a protected species under the Galatic Association for the Conservation of Astroplanar Fauna (GACAF to the shareholders) and even this tiny human would surely know that a violation of these codes would result in a penalty of no less than the sacrifice of one’s firstborn child to Baal-
“Shut up,” Mia screamed. She pointed a delicate finger at the titanic bulk of Starwhale, quivering. “Shut up, both of you! If you would just fucking shut up-”
“Excuse me,” someone said at Mia’s elbow. “Are you Mia?”
A bland-looking girl in trashy clothes was standing next to her, clearly uncomfortable and somehow fidgeting with every piece of clothing simultaneously. A peeved-looking chess piece hovered anxiously behind her, eyeing the whale looming indignantly above their heads.
“I’m Heather,” she said, offering a hand and then immediately retracting it. “I’m on your team. So is, um, Starwhale.”
“VAGUE TINY CREATURE! YOU ARE ALSO LATE. SHAME ON YOU.” The whale’s bulk sank gracefully through the smog until its grooved underside was mere feet off the pavement. Nearby cars swerved in panicked circles and crashed into the nearest object as the distant squeal of tires echoed off the dilapidated buildings. Through the soft incandescence of its skin, the whale’s eye glittered reprovingly. “STARWHALE EXPECTED YOU WERE DEAD. STARWHALE HAD PREEMPTIVELY DONATED YOUR BODY TO SCIENCE.”
“I, um, I got caught up,” Heather said, vaguely gesturing at the piece behind her. “We’ve been summoned somewhere? I think?”
“STARWHALE HAS DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY! STARWHALE REFUSES.”
“Not like that, he said something about a king…?”
“The Black King humbly requests your presence at court,” the page interjected. “Never before has our humbled kingdom been so honored by such distinguished dignitaries from the Shogi Imperials, and our King wishes to make his acquaintance in person. If you would be so good as-”
“IS IT A TRAP,” Starwhale said.
“It is certainly is not!” the page said, visibly offended. “The King merely sends his-”
“STARWHALE WILL GO ONLY IF THE TINY HUMAN CALLED HEATHER WILL PROMISE STARWHALE THAT THERE IS NONE OF THIS AWFUL SOUNDWAVE ACTIVITY AT THIS SO-CALLED COURT.”
“There isn’t,” Heather said. “That’s dubstep.”
“VERY GOOD, LEAD THE WAY,” the whale bellowed. It lowered a massive flipper to the ground at Heather’s feet and rolled its eyes impatiently at the tiny group. “BY LEAD THE WAY STARWHALE INDICATES THAT STARWHALE IS PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF FINDING ITS OWN WAY BUT RELUCTANTLY ACCEPTS YOUR ASSISTANCE. BRING THE TINY GAME PIECE AND THE OTHER FEMALE HUMAN! STARWHALE WILL NOT BE LATE!”
Deep in the long-since abandoned bowels of the Kingmaker, formerly the Spy, pale lights began to flicker.
Last edited by engineclock; 02-18-2012 at 01:58 PM.
Cambronne focused all malicious intent on a singular soldier. The spirit fancied himself an experimentalist and made variety a personal competition. See how many barbs he could fit on a leg, how loud a scream he could get in a single squeeze, and much more. The spirit lived for blood, savored the snap of bones. And they did not fight back! This was practically too good for him and frankly, he was getting bored.
In a sudden swing, the manifest tossed the body at the wall of soldiers. A few scattered on the ground like bowling pins, only to stand up and continue their advance towards the battlefield - even his victim limped up and joined the march. Cambronne valued resilience - after all, his playthings had to last long, but what was the point of longevity, if they do not react. He was rather disappointed.
Until he heard an audible, yet amplified cough. It was not a sickly cough, but more of a prim and proper throat-clearing- a cultured sound of utmost urgency. In speaking of which, it was almost as if it was asking for Cambronne's attention - as the noise continued to patter over the deafening din of the battlefield.
"Good sir," the voice continued on with deliberate pretense. "If you may realize, I am offering a potential alliance between us two. Considering the nature of this particular tournament and the circumstance of our close proximity, I believe this partnership to be most, what was the word...mutual."
Considering he was from a rather archaic society, Cambronne had met nobles before and understood the elementary concept of them. He knew this mystery voice to be of nobility - and Cambronne hated nobles. Kings, Lords, Marquis, Tyrants - the spirit found people of high social standing to be incredibly annoying. As such, Cambronne has a tendency to squish them all into one hateful lump in his head. However, the spirit could not help but smirk.
Cambronne had plans for him.
If he had eyebrows, Krik'Ix would raise half of the amount, as the twisted spirit seemed to have disappeared from the frays of the battlefield. Well, that was a bit of mild disappointment, the alien beetle shrugged to himself, but never mind that, there were probably more candidates for manipulative subordination. After all, a good controller must have some sort of decent secondary plan.
Any hastily thought-up plan could not prepare Krik'Ix for the upcoming Cambronne. The manifest's speed to this portion of the street was so quick that it made the noble nearly jump out of his exoskeleton. Cambronne was pretty menacing from a distance, but now he is up close and to be honest, he looked pretty underwhelming. Krik'Ix pondered the reasons why. However, for now, he had to avoid a vicious whip to his wings.
Meanwhile, not too far from the parleying duo, violence was about to happen.
Ah, the Chariot, the latest in the Rook series. Like her outdated brethren, this beast of a vehicle was designed for close-contact combat (which is essentially ramming into things, but he was too proud to admit that). However, she was faster, stronger - plated with various new alloys and outfitted with the latest technology. This, this was the royal chariot of the armored tanks.
"Commander, we have a target!" The radar lit up - a big red dot beeping obnoxiously on the interface. It was an enemy target and just their luck! It is just in front of them - a fairly large, vaguely equine tank, with four stout legs. It was in a somber hue of ebony, their eternal enemy's color. However, there were no turrets, flares, any visible weaponry. It was fairly unassuming - which meant a perfect target for the Captain.
"CHARGE!" Switches flicked, engines sputtered, as ominous droning echoed through the corridors. Suddenly, the Chariot's surface flaring into an incandescent glow. A moment of silence passed as the engine gathered the inert air from the ambient atmosphere, splitting the bonds and suddenly --
The Chariot exploded forth.
Unfortunately, the horse-tank literally sprang up - its legs unfolding into impossible heights. In an almost dainty show of display, the vehicle darted into the skies and slammed down, puncturing the Chariot's engine in a fell swoop. The Captain cursed. Despite all their technology advancement, they still had a battle disadvantage, defeated by a much more outdated model.
He was so embroiled in his anger that he did not notice the building in the front.
Meanwhile, Krik'Ix was attempting diplomacy.
"You do realize," the insectoid noble step back, neatly avoid another swing. "If we continue to fight aganist each other like--" he ducked down, feeling air from the whipcrack above. "We won't make any progress--" A strong but ineffective kick bounced off his chest. At this point, Krik'Ix was a tad annoyed at his potential partner. "You aren't listening are you."
As Cambronne did not care, he was not listening.
Krik'Ix let out a resonant sigh. He was beginning to wonder why he was attempting to convince him with words considering any form of reasoning bounced off his potential ally's ears. Perhaps, it was time that the humanoid beetle should made a retreat from this precarious position. He had enough legs after all.
The noble made an excellent decision - especially when the flaming vehicle known as the Chariot bursted through without any warning whatsoever- reminiscent of a fictional sentient beverage, really. Needless to say, burning debris and dead bodies flew everywhere - burying the pavement, the street-lamps, and everything else on the blackened ground.
As for Cambronne, he too was accidentally caught within the sundering of the ruins.
Andrew ran ran ran until his body settled fatigue and breath took a leave. The demure man stopped in his tracks, his legs sore from the quick travel. Although the sun was bright-high in the sky, the too-close walls was a chasm, making Andrew feel like he was trapped inside a chasm. As he wiped a dirty drop of sweat from his tired brow, Mr. Smith wondered how doomed his chance was. Skinny as a sliver of light, smaller than a speck of dust, he scoffed to himself.
Any contemplation and ramblings on his own morality was immediately cut short by click-clack steps on the glassy ground. Andrew darted his head from side to side. Both entrances to this abyss of the alleyway - full of many policemen, protectors of this ebony-colored city. They had their weapons out, their postures ready. This situation, the cubicle worker noted, was probably not for the claustrophobic.
Yet, they did not attack.
"Andrew Smith, are you?" One of the faceless security muffled.
Andrew did not say anything. He was as tense as a stray on a fence.
The policeman shrugged and flipped through a bunch of files at hand. After a while, the policeman took out a completely black piece of parchment - ornately engraved, of course. Chess motifs, baroque loops, framing a message in silver ink - and this message was a royal invitation to a Mr. Andrew Smith with a wax stamp to prove authenticity.
"The King would like to see you."
Krik'Ix scuttled through the flaming ruins, carefully watching his every step. He looked up at the what's left of the building - a former apartment with almost circular hole in the middle - thanks to that flaming ship. He could technically walk away from this whole mess for his own safety. However, the noble was ambitious. Krik'Ix had a plan and he was not exactly wanting to let go immediately.
Even with his numerous eyes, it took a while to find what he needed as it's hard to tell which body part was which amidst the broken chunks of obsidian. Finally, Krik'Ix found him, well what's left of him. An errant clawed hand underneath a pile of rubble.
Rubble? Krik'Ix could work with that. With a mighty cleave of his scythes, the mess was cleared up and he was there.
There was Cambronne and he looked worse for wear. He was unconscious and barely breathing. Mostly noticeably, he was hemorrhaging heavily from his head - blood pouring down his head like some sort of macabre waterfall. His terrible visage was looking even more terrible, but Krik'Ix felt uneasy confidence in the chance that he might survive.
Cambronne's eyes opened.
Oh, good. He's alive. Yeah, his eyes are a smidged unfocused like some sort of drunkard, but dammit, he was alive. Alive (Not that he was technically alive)! That means he was useful. A tool under wear is still a tool, the noble reminded to himself. Even if Cambronne was broken in some way, Krik'Ix was determined extract as much use as possible from this spirit.
The manifest's mind was still addled, perhaps Krik'Ix could use it to his advantage. The bug noble bent down and stared, his chitinous face betraying no emotion or scheme. "Thank the chances, you are still alive." Krik'Ix attempted to place as much concern and empathetic inflections as he could, but it was rather difficult considering he is rather monotone.
Cambronne just blinked.
Krik'Ix cocked his head. "I see you have a bit of trouble in the eh, perception portions of the mind. However, you are a complete mess. How about this, why don't I help you?"
Cambronne nodded - slowly.
"Well then, remember to do as I tell you. First things, first, we have to find the other members of our team." Krik'Ix hosted Cambronne to unsteady feet with his many arms. And thus, the two marched towards the town. Krik'Ix crawling in a noble and proud manner...and Cambronne kind of staggering in the back. This is suspiciously easy, though Krik'Ix as they traveled, Too easy. On the the hand, he was willing to take every chance he could get.
His back against the wall, Andrew blinked in disbelief.
His eyes slowly started to adjust to the environment. The walls were adorned in graffii, some of it profane, some of it blatantly political, and some an awkward juxtaposition of both. He was effectively trapped in the alleyway by the silhouetted men, each of them holding a rifle; their guns were pointed towards the sky, but each man sat crouched around the alley in strategic positions. Hardened by years of training, they made it apparent they would not hesitate to shoot if things went south. It was his job to make sure that didn't happen.
He blinked again, taking in the weight of the situation. "Th-The King?"
The officer's hand stayed outstretched. Not missing a beat, he quipped, "It is an official seal, is it not?
Andrew tilted his head, accepting the letter from the officer and giving it a tentative once-over. "I... I guess it is." He sighed, returned the paper to the suited man (who folded it and replaced it in his pocket), and nervously adjusted his fedora. "Let's get going, then?"
Without words, the officer nodded in approval. After calling together his men, they rounded up and left to the palace. Andrew sighed to himself, under his breath. Again, he had to ask: just what the hell had he gotten himself into? He wasn't quite sure, but whatever he'd done had caught the attention of someone with lots of power, and he wasn't quite fond of that. He remembered flashes of the alley walls: DON'T TRUST HIM; WE ARE THE PEOPLE, NOT THE PEASANTS; it sent chills down his spine. He nervously shifted his eyes. Aside from the officer, who was seemingly defenseless, there were five men in the escort. Could he take them all? Andrew was confident in his abilities, but six men of questionable strength? He could make a run for it, but the soldiers were carrying rifles - rather menacing ones, at that.
His thoughts were interrupted by a resounding crash: Andrew saw his window of opportunity. The crushing sound gave way to the unmistakable screeching of tearing metal, a thud, and a rumbling. The streets flooded with black-and-white clouds of ash; even as they tumbled through the streets, the two colors seemed to absolutely repel eachother. He heard shouting, from either side of the street. Some shouts were commands, others screams for help; the officer in front of Andrew had since taken to cover, pulling a hidden revolver from his side-pocket (he knew he was dangerous!) and keeping his men in check. Andrew took a moment to observe the officer's movements. He was perfectly distracted, and he wouldn't notice if Andrew made a move...
A moment later, satisfied, Andrew sidestepped into another alley and ran off amidst the confusion, his polarized clothing blending perfectly into the swarming masses of destruction.
He had no idea what that sound was, and frankly, he could care less. He'd found his escape, and perfectly timed as usual. He laughed; he was beginning to remember how to harness it. It was the adrenaline flowing through his body, the taste of blood slowly coming back to him. He remembered. With a sinister grin adorning his face, he slipped inbetween the boundary of black and white.
Meanwhile, above the pearl-clad streets of the White Citadel, two elite-class White guards had been stationed amongst the Great White Wall. Their job was a simple one: To divide the boundary between Black, and White. Exchange between these men and the Black men on the other side were limited; the two were forever seperated by the Transition Zone, and on the other side was the Great Black Wall. Still, despite their best efforts to divide the world, there had been numerous incidents in the past where one force had shattered the wall and assaulted the other side.
This was one of those times.
One of the White guards, a bright silhouette against the cold ground, slowly struggled to his feet. He could hardly hear himself think over the resounding cracks of steel against steel, concrete being crushed behind the mighty force of the Chariot. The Chariot was an unmistakable force, an aged but reliable model in the Forces, and nobody had expected either force to grapple their way into the Transition Zone. He leaned over the crumbling wall to observe the point where the tank had busted through the gates.
His shock was met by a rogue man, running amongst the pearly Wall, only to be stopped and confronted by the guard. He held his rifle to the rogue's head, demanding name and affiliation. The man froze, stunned, but said nothing. The guard looked him over. ...What the hell was this? He nudged his friend for assistance, only to find him rigidly incapacitated.
"What affiliation are you? Your shirt is white, your pants are black. What the hell are you supposed to be?"
The man only looked forward, silent. He couldn't seem to say anything. "I'm afraid I can't let you through... sir. Turn around and leave. We're in a bit of a situation here, if you can't tell. I'll redirect your request to my comman—"
Without a word, the man below produced a hefty-looking Black revolver, aimed it with a precise sophistication, and pulled the trigger. The guard fell to the ground, off-white blood spilling from his neck, as he struggled for screams he could not find. His last words were that of a pained gibberish, and all he could see was the world in front of him slowly turning black. Clever bastard, he thought, finally slipping into into the darkness that had been his enemy for so long.
Andrew laughed wildly. He brought the officer's bloodied gun up to his lips, blew the smoke leaking from the barrel, and dropped it to his side again. It was a long time since he'd felt the satisfaction of recoil. It's good to be back, he thought, strolling through the hole in the gates and into enemy territory.
While Mia was dancing to the thumping beats in the subterranean Kingmaker and Starwhale was making acquaintance of his teammates, while Cambronne was busy mutilating strangers in the street for the perverse pleasure it brought and Krik’Ix was plotting the best way to victory, and while more or less everyone was getting invited to meet one of the two Kings of the land, there was not a jot to be heard about Captain Omri. This was because he had disappeared at the first opportunity he got into the nearest pub he could find. It was something worth mentioning that wherever you found Captain Omri you were likely to find a stockpile of alcohol nearby, or not as the case may be. The revelation that there were beings beyond his fathoming who could and would seize unsuspecting people and make them battle one another to the death for their amusement had almost shaken him to his core, right up until he’d noticed one of the other contestants in this battle was a Starwhale. Then it was like the blinkers had come down and all he could think about was how.
How was he supposed to kill one of those things without his ship, without his crew to back him up? Sure he still had his plasma harpoon launcher, but going up against the creature alone with that, well he might as well be trying to take down a bear with a broken pencil. He needed to think about his situation, what resources he could bring to bear against that gods-damned whale. He quickly came to the conclusion that he would think better with a drink in his hand. The place was a dive; dimly lit, smoky and with a clientele that quietened down as you walked in, or maybe perhaps that was just because they weren’t used to seeing someone who was sporting both colours so brazenly. Anywhere else Omri would probably have found himself kicked out, branded a heathen and dealt with in a swift and brutal manner. The clientele here, it wasn’t that they didn’t judge, they just didn’t want the attention. If Omri noticed the cold reception he got he didn’t show it.
Now as he downed another bottle of unidentified black ale, he thought about the others that he had been introduced to. They would all be next to worthless against a Starwhale, but if he had to pick out one of the lot that would have been slightly less useless than the others he would have gone for ‘that cat thing’, maybe the lizards? His trail of thought was interrupted by the desperate ringing of a bell. Last orders already? Captain Omri looked around the room as the other patrons lifted their drinks in near synchronisation. Moments later the bar shook and there was a momentary weightless feeling. Omri’s drink, which he had rather unwisely left upon the bar in front of him, toppled into his lap and shattered upon the floor. A moment later there was a feeling of falling and Omri grabbed the bar and did not let go. None of the other customers seemed even surprised that this was happening even when a thud and another shake of the room apparently signalled completion of whatever had just happened.
It took Omri a minute or so to recover and pry himself loose from the bar, but when he did he stumbled outside to find that he, and the entire bar, was about a block away from where they had been previously. For the first time since he had arrived in this place he really looked around and saw the massive moving towers that loomed overhead. In the distance he could see the battlefield; the ceaseless battle between black and white fought with weapons as big as buildings; towers designed exclusively for war intricately carved into shapes befitting their function.
Being the person that he was, he was immediately struck with an idea and without hesitation he turned and strode (or as best as he could with a malfunctioning leg) back into the building. He didn’t slow down as he passed the bar, grabbing a bottle of pitch black liquor and gulping it down as he did so. Before the bartender was even able to articulate his anger, Omri was through the back door of the pub, quickly through the back office and heading up a staircase. The staircase was ever so slightly curved and made of shiny black obsidian. He was halfway up to the next level of the structure when his attention was pulled to the foot of the stairs where the onyx skinned bartender was shouting obscenities at him. Omri shouted a couple of obscenities back, and his were the more impressive by far. As soon as the bartender’s foot was on the stair, Omri had turned around and was pointing his plasma harpoon launcher at the guy.
“Clear off.” He instructed. The bartender quickly complied.
On a flat surface Omri was as fast as he had ever been with his leg, but climbing stairs, well he was not so quick there. Though he would never have admitted it he would have been grateful for a handrail. To his left as he climbed the lazy clockwise spiral there was occasionally a small window cut into the wall through which it was possible to see the entire breadth of the wartorn chequered landscape, and the black towers that rose alongside this one. That is, if you were the kind of person who was likely to stop and notice the view, which Omri was not. He had his plasma harpoon launcher at the ready as the operator of the vehicle, a pitch black figure in an oddly crenelated and oversized hat stumbled into his line of sight in a panic. The plasma harpoon ploughed through the man’s stone skin easily and buried itself in the wall behind him. The pike he had been carrying clattered to the floor and bounced down the stairs to land at Omri’s feet.
Omri was remarkably unmoved given that he had never killed a man before. Yes sure he’d been responsible for their deaths with his reckless tactics and unwavering pursuit of starwhales, but never had he been the one to actively pull the trigger. Had he stopped to think about what he had done he would have found he did not care enough over some unknown person’s life to make a big deal out of ending it. He did however care that the corpse was in his path in a narrow stairway. He grumbled to himself as he lifted the body and flung it over his shoulder down the twisting staircase, along with his useless pike.
Not long afterwards the staircase opened up and he found he had managed to reach the top of the tower. It was a cramped little room filled with sable gears and cogs standing idle at the moment. In the far corner an engine blazed, and to the side of it a heaped pile of coal to fuel it. The controls were mounted upon a seat that hung from a framework that seemed to be in place to allow it to swing around the room and settle upon any viable direction. Beyond the framework and the intricate workings of the structure there was no roof to speak of and the view was practically panoramic, broken only where the crenellations got in the way. Omri glanced around, slammed the trapdoor down over the entrance to the room and hauled the heavy bucket of coal on top of it.
And then, without any hesitation he clambered up into the helm-seat and scanned the view for any sight of the star-speckled skin of his prey.
Avatar by the wonderful Pharmacy~