RealClearPolitics - Betting Odds - 2020 U.S. President

JoJo's Bizarre OC Tournament #5: Round 2 Match 8 - Arpeggi and Agnes Versus Glitch and William

The results are in for Match 6. The winner is…
Player Team, with a score of 83 to Ernie Ford’s 62!
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Players 25-5
Quality TIE 24-24 Reasoning
JoJolity Players 24-23 Reasoning
Conduct TEAM 10-10
...“You know what I'm here for!” Effie’s words rang out as Ernie watched on at the unexpected turn of events.
“The funny thing is I really don’t know.” Ernie stood there and took in the scene. Was this the first time he had seen this type of outburst in the District? Ernie tried to recall, but now wasn’t really the time to reminisce on bad memories.
Something was afoot. Something about Ugo threatening them that was for sure. But if Ugo wanted somebody to fight him this would never be his plan of attack. “Would you care to enlighten me then, I wouldn’t mind this either way!” Ernie shouted back, his tone was neutral, the tension of the situation only increased, but he didn’t see a need to fight back even now.
“They sent us here, because they wanted us to steal your notebook!” Ernie heard the voice of Jenny behind a tree.
Things started to make sense to Ernie, the hiding, why it wasn’t Odin’s people doing this, and that outburst. “And what do you two intend to do?” Ernie moved his backpack from his back to carrying it on one arm.
“Well if you help us, you could send them a fake notebook! It’s not like we like those fuckers anyways!” Jenny replied beyond the trees.
Well that wasn’t so difficult was it, it only took one or maybe both of their ire to get to this arrangement. Ernie weighed this against the prospect that they were lying to him, but if it came down to it it would just be either a fight now or a fight later. “Alright I’ll help you! I’ll be in my cabin manuscripting! You two wait outside, this will take less than an hour!” Ernie shouted back over as he started to walk back to his cabin.
“Your funeral..wait what?!” Effie flipped as Jenny clapped an arm on her, “We did it, we can get out of this shitty situation.”
Effie looked around, The Murder receded back into herself. “Did that really just happen?” She held out the hope that it really would be that easy, she wanted to believe it but she felt a slight pang of confusion, guilt maybe?
Jenny continued on, “We just have to make sure that he does his end of the deal and we’ll be out of here in no time.” Jenny looked at Effie’s face as she noticed the change in expression, “You okay there? You let out a bunch just now and if you wanted to talk about it.”
“No I’m ok, come on we have to still keep an eye on him.” Effie brushed Jenny’s arm off and made her way closer into the clearing with Jenny following.
Well, that was somewhat anticlimactic. If you were hoping for a match with some more carnage in it, how about checking out a race out of a monster-filled urn and voting on it?
Sound’s Garden Eastern Strip - Heartache Casino VIP Room
“So kind of you all to come again,” a man dressed garishly in gold spoke to a roomful of wealthy highrollers, a lounge area with a wall taken up by a screen large enough to make the place double as something of a particularly cozy home theater, a setup which had typically been reserved for two things: watching games organized by Heartache Casino’s owner on the closed-circuits of buildings he owned, and being rented out for private parties and banquets.
“This is pretty unconventional,” a dark-haired sniper remarked between drinks, staring at the screen as it showed, largely, several shots of a building in Downtown Los Fortuna, which seemed to have rapidly grown occupied by a small group of Stand Users, some of whom familiar to the district’s regulars after some close shaves in the subways both occupied, “but it’s brilliant… Just needed to get your tech guy to get cameras in there, now you have a huge show for free.”
“Should you be drinking, Seido?” The gold-clad owner asked, raising an eyebrow, “I mean, if something comes up…”
“If something comes up, I’m off-duty, I’m just a guest right now, and I can shoot well enough sloshed to get myself out of a bind. If you wanted me as security, you should’ve hired me for that… Though really, I’d have rather been down there raising some hell if I was gonna shoot things.”
Tigran sighed, finding that fair enough, he supposed… He wasn’t going to hire this man when he was buzzed, and he wouldn’t do guard detail for free either. Apparently, the man literally came to the city walking out of a bar into the flag unveiling, so he shouldn’t have been surprised.
Still, though, even with moods high here, nobody seeming to mind the way anonymous characters like Oh No and Conqueror Worm mingled among them. Sure, they were kind of a low-priority target right now, with protests in the Business district, the hell-on-earth about to be unleashed Downtown keeping their worst nightmares busy, and the usual BS in places like the Waterfront and Industrial, but the man once noted for his supremely smarmy overconfidence had been feeling more anxious lately, probably because the Entertainment District’s criminal underground had taken some losses recently.
Things were riding high with several successful games, and the arrival of Conqueror Worm, revitalizing everything that they had thought they’d known and opening up whole new possibilities of what games might be possible to organize from a place of safety, all while not asking for a penny of payment. He was a weird guy, but a valuable asset, and all that was understood to be asked in return was that they pretend not to know exactly who it was underneath that big fleshy suit.
And then, the next time they had an in-person event, a bunch of them died in a fire, and on the way to… Well, who knew why he was there, but something happened that got a formerly active manager and ‘game’ organizer murdered blocks away from the site of the flames. Was it a sign, then, that the old ways really were dying, that they needed to change with the times or lose this subculture of theirs entirely?
Maybe, and maybe some would leave it like that, but Tigran “Golden” Sins knew another source of common ground with every one of their games to go wrong, to go awry, to risk the future and safety of all that they were, all that they had. Everything (besides that time he got punched in the face) that had gone wrong, from Thutmose leaving them, to events that were supposed to be disastrous bloodbaths going well for the ‘players’ and ruining bets, could trace back somewhere.
And she was sitting there looking very disinterested, nursing a sparkling juice in a very expensive evening dress and earrings, recently bought by the only man in the world he believed to be above himself.
“Having a good time, Metra?” Fox asked the star known to much of the city as TD/MD, smiling smoothly and paying her more attention than the event itself, where he was significantly more public than before. He’d spent how many thousands on her in a few days?
“Sure, yeah,” she answered, with a clear disinterest and foul mood.
“I understand if you’re not… we’re all sorry to have lost Thutmose. Most likely by where he was, whoever killed him would have done the same to us had he not interfered. So he would want you to have a good time, right?”
“Alright, everyone, last calls!” Conqueror Worm called out, many eyes looking all over. After getting back from camera work, he’d volunteered to handle bets, on account of his utter disinterest in profiting from his work there. Damn shame, honestly; Tigran loved that weird golden Stand-hurting sword he’d always been swinging around, and something belonging to a regional founder would be a hell of a get to wear around. “We know all the key players in that little downtown scuffle, so let’s hear it! Who’s biting it? Who’s comin’ out? Who’s gonna have the highest bodycount? Is anyone even gonna get IN?”
That Oh No guy, from the Institute, spoke up through that voice changer he almost always had on in his coverings. “I think that… Three people will manage to find their way inside. Nobody on this betting board.”
“Ooh, bold words from our boldest regular!” Worm leaned in close, asking, “how much’re you puttin’ on that?”
“Nothing,” No responded, “I just want to see what comes of it… I’m almost disappointed you needed to ask.”
Peas in a pod, those two. Tigran sighed, figuring he might need to drink through these proceedings, only to glance at Metra, suddenly, seeming to smirk, ears twitching as if that special pitch of hers had picked something up. “What? What’s so fun now, that-”
The heavily reinforced, hidden doorway to the VIP room burst open, bisecting the hollow yet burly door guard as sand and rocks spilled out of its hollow crevasse, the only herald within seconds of a quintet of Stand Users barreling in, led by a trio on two motorbikes as two others, curious but energetic, followed.
“All that you’ve done ends here, Fox!”
Around the same time, Heartache Casino Public Floors
“Uh… Glitch? I think… it might be good if we… go?” William Eyelash was not liking it here very much. His hyperactive coworker and teammate had practically dragged him here after what was otherwise a simple delivery performed in place of Zebra, who had been busy enough delivering food to the other side of the city. William was the one supposed to carry it out, but Glitch had practically jumped at the opportunity to do so.
Glitch herself, meanwhile, seemed to be very content eating some fries which she (very regrettably) had to actually buy instead of simply snatching it away from a poor, unaware bystander, and had already ordered another plate because they were just that good. Security was too tight, somewhat on edge - the moment she got close to someone or something, they immediately turned their attention to her. Still, she didn’t want to deprive herself of one of the many pleasures of life like that, so she didn’t mind paying too much. “Mmrgh..? Why sho?”
“W- well… you know… uh...” William wasn’t sure how to say it - he was scared enough of Glitch’s erratic mannerisms most days, and that was while he tried to steer clear of her. Were he to directly oppose her, he’d have no way of knowing what she’d do! On top of that, he couldn’t help but notice that she seemed slightly… on edge. She was usually hyperactive, but she seemed to be even more eager to jump from one thing to another recently, and to ignore anything that even slightly stressed her out. Considering everything that happened to the staff at the Elephant Bones recently, it made sense for her to be stressed, even if she didn’t really show it usually. “... um, you know the rumors about this place… right? ”
Glitch turned to look at William, tilting her head “Hm? What rumors?”. “Uh... well… about the ED… and the fighting rings… I saw an article about it on the Hermod, and… i- it could be dangerous to be here for too long...” hearing William say that, Glitch seemed to recede for a bit, thinking to herself. “Mmm... well, it hasn’t been a problem yet! Right? Besides, the other chips haven’t arrived yet!” Glitch didn’t want to think much about it - so long as these fighting rings were away from her, she could just ignore them and go on with her life, but if it really was here, then maybe it would be good to avoid this place… but the fries were so good... Glitch took another look at the table she was sitting at and at the plate of fries she’d ordered. She grabbed a handful and ate them. “Mmm… after the second order of chips comes! Then we leave! But only after then!”
“Alright...” William didn’t like this very much, and he couldn’t help but shoot nervous glances around as Glitch finished up. Just about every staff member here was on edge and uncomfortable - he knew how to notice these things, and it would make sense if this place really was connected to the underground. Ugh… Why did he come along with Glitch? He’d just have to hope that the second order would come soon, and then they’d be able leave just as quickly as they came in.
Naturally, as if fate itself had conspired to screw him over, he couldn’t help but pick up on ‘something’. Guards around the floor peered nervously into their phones, and most of them began rushing towards the stairwell. Glitch had noticed as well, her ears picking up on the nervous murmurings of the guards and their hasty footsteps.
“Uhh… G- Glitch, something’s happening, we should-” “Pleh! Can’t you wait just a second! The chips aren’t here yet! This isn’t-”
Before Glitch could finish her sentence, something flew into the room - the body of a security officer, clearly tossed away by some stand, flew from the entrance to the second floor, and landed right in the middle of a group of more security officers.
“Oh god oh god it’s happening oh no oh no oh no oh-” William was, as expected, positively freaking out by now. Meanwhile, Glitch was keeping her ears peeled out, having picked up on something… interesting. The voice of two people she vaguely recognized from “Taste of Fortuna” a month or so back.
“Hey! That’s Agnes! And that other chef whose food is good! Even better than the chips!! What are they doing here, fighting?!”
Soon enough, Agnes and Arpeggi really did pop into the room, their stands summoned as they staved off some guards with them. Much to William’s chagrin, Glitch grabbed onto his hand and summoned [Vida Loca], before hopping onto it, the massive feline hoisting him onto it as well, before running right towards the source of the commotion…
And right into the footpath of a terrifying giant who seemed to suddenly fall from the ceiling, several eyes along its body looking to them as its head rotated 180 degrees. “Well, wouldn’t you like to know?”
Several minutes earlier, A Few Stories Lower - Sound’s Garden Abandoned Subway
“Are you sure this is the place? Seems pretty fucking trashy to me, honestly…”
“That’s what makes it a secret passage, Agnes… They’re not exactly rolling out the red carpet to tell you how to get there.”
“Ugh, Astronomia wasn’t built for this shit. You’re paying if something gets stuck somewhere.”
“You’ve crashed it how many times this month alone?”
Arpeggi Osso Buco sat in the sidecar of a motorbike driven by one Ananas “Agnes” Bayley, through the abandoned subways of the Eastern strip. He’d meant to take this trip alone, like he had before, but of course, this fucking guy had to be the first on the team to learn that he was a Stand User, an active vigilante, and not only in part responsible for a certain cult’s influence plummeting to nothing in Los Fortuna, but had dedicated himself to making an enemy of the blight of the Entertainment District.
“Fuck it, I’m down.”
“You’re… What?”
“I’m down. Fuck those guys. I don’t even need to ask any more questions, they’re an absolute disgrace to be shown up by a real villain, and if you’re hunting their boss down, I’m with you.”
“You are the last person I would want watching my back in a-”
“Or I can tell Gabanna what you’re doing so soon after getting SHOT last time you tried your luck with these guys.”
“…bastard. Okay, just don’t get in the way.”
Minus a near-scare with RCR’s nightmarish train nearly running them down without noticing, and Arpeggi having to explain at some point that it was both private information from a set of informants and news now publicly printed in multiple sources about the higher-ups of this organization, it had mostly gone smoothly since then.
As they drove closer to the underside of Heartache, Arpeggi signaled for Agnes to stop, noting a destroyed set of hollowed-out mannequins of sorts, smoking and smelling like gunpowder.
“Hell is that?” Agnes asked, looking down, but Arpeggi, in turn, didn’t quite seem surprised. Before he could explain, however, another, distorted voice cut through.
“You’re late.”
The revving of a second motorcycle, a sport bike, had quietly synced with Astronomia, and the pair looked up to see a figure clad in orange and black, winglike scarf drooping upside-down, its rider atop the ceiling of the tunnel.
“You.” Agnes spoke with contempt, despite having never seen the Black Angel in person before, only for them and their bike to drop down right in front of them, flipping in midair to land gracefully.
“You didn’t tell me you were bringing a friend, let alone… Him.” The Angel sounded dubious about Agnes’ presence, adding, “since you took time picking him up, I’ve had to start picking off these weird… hollow doll-guards myself. They almost noticed me in time to signal the boss. I really don’t have the time for this today.”
“Sorry about that, he insisted,” Arpeggi wrote off, not wanting to explain the somewhat unsurprising (“ran into one another while doing their vigilante rounds, got to talking about the ED mainly”) story how he and the Angel met, “and he’s here right now… Say what you like about him, you saw that Being So Normal, I assume. He’ll be an asset.”
“I’ll kick your ass-et,” Agnes grumbled, “fighting them alone my ass. Ugh, teaming up with masked hero types like this… Pisses me off. We should be kicking each other’s asses, Angel.”
“Deal with it,” the Angel wrote off, before adding, “our contacts in there… They said basically everyone we might have any reason to get is on that floor with them, watching Downtown.”
“Right, some madman is acting out there,” Arpeggi noted, folding his arms and looking Westward, “I take it that’s why you’re in a hurry? You want to deal with them quickly and head out there next?”
“You got it,” they answered, “and admittedly, there’s a reason I had to come here first… Something I’m going to prioritize the highest, and if we take too long, I’ll have to leave having only done that.”
“You’ve got a grudge, is that it?” Agnes asked, “you wanna punt some fucker before moving on?”
“That’s… not why I’m targeting him,” The Angel noted, before adding, “that sword the Conqueror Worm always has on him… The ‘Sword of Sir Aurel…’ The future of the city might depend on me getting that Downtown. The contacts say he still has it with him, just like on that stream.”
“You’re pissing me off, pretending you don’t care about just one-upping that bastard,” Agnes chided, adding, “act like you’re ‘heroes of justice’ all you want… I’m doing this because these guys piss me the hell off, and seeing them fall will make me laugh. Do all of us a favor, cut the bullshit, and admit you’re gonna enjoy this, yeah?”
The others didn’t say too much more of note, then, beyond the Angel briefly examining Astronomia, putting something all over it that they claimed would ‘make it maneuver better,’ which Arpeggi had to calm Agnes into accepting, especially considering it meant they could ride up stairs with relative ease.
“Alright, from this secret passage, it’s a straight shot up a few flights of stairs to the VIP room… We should be able to burst it down without ever disrupting all the public patrons and fortifications up on 1F. Hold on tight, you got that?”
The motorbikes revved, then, and the Angel’s led Agnes in seeming to leap into the air, driving up and along the walls of the stairwell, before a long-haired figure emerged from the Angel, aiming something at a metal reinforced door, firing into it a few times, and it shifted in place as Pork Soda rushed towards it, placing a tab on the material before ripping it away, liquid metal blasting in the opposite direction the door would fly and swing at rapid speed, swinging like a deadly projectile and cutting more powerful puppet guards away as the three burst in.
Arpeggi called out, “All that you’ve done ends here, Fox!”
Not long after Arpeggi called that out, Fox himself, of course, was quick to stand, as were a few bold-looking members of the crowd, hurrying towards the fighters with his own accompanying doll-guard, small enough to hold in two hands and, with his large frame, swing like a hammer-thrower, lobbing up towards them and bursting open into a mess of pointed rocks as he drew closer, repelling Arpeggi’s immediate attempts to approach.
The swinging door, embedded with odd screws and still gushing metal soda, began to fly towards him, only for the sound of a rifle to fill the room, a single warping bullet putting out every one of the odd screws and careening it to strike Arpeggi back, sending him flying down the stairwell before either the Angel or Agnes could react.
Seido, sitting at his edge of the bar, finished downing his drink, holding his weapon in one hand and grinning a bit, slurring slightly, “thas’ goin’ on your tab, boss…”
Fox smirked, then, rocks and sand swirling around him and beating back the remaining attackers’ efforts to burst forward. “Let’s not fight up here, gentlemen… I’ve set this place up nice for a very special guest. Take it downstairs. Seido, consider yourself on the clock now.”
Worm, then, seemed to realize the Angel was staring at his movements, diving down into the floor below to the terror of the 1F patrons, and the rider hurriedly cut away from the clash, leaving Agnes to fend for himself against the rocky onslaught of Fox, all while Oh No watched and Seido, quickly, lined up another shot. Even on this upgraded bike, he knew the only response to make there. “Fffuck this!”
Pork Soda reached for Astronomia, a tab appearing on its wheel which, as the Stand weathered rocky blows, it pulled, blasting Agnes back into the stairwell, where he hit the wall with an, “oof!” before hopping off of his ride, which crashed and plummeted down as he abandoned it to slide down the railing, doing a cool combat roll to cover Arpeggi and the Angel as they rolled into the first floor, clearly concerned about what Conqueror Worm being there would mean for the patrons. Fox and others were shortly behind, with a certain exception.
Though nobody could hear it, by Metra Doria’s choice, as soon as Seido had spoken that aloud, she’d kicked up the chair she’d been sulking in all ‘party’ long, a pair of headphones appearing along her neck as a blast of sonic energy kicked it directly into the head of the hitman. Her heart skipped a beat, then, and she muttered under her breath, “shit, that actually worked… I got lucky, huh?”
“Entirely,” Oh No agreed, stepping forth himself and stretching, producing a very large, intimidating revolver from his cloak and beginning, idly, to load it, “but don’t treat that as a failing, TD/MD… You saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you had the instincts to take it.” No closed the chamber, starting leisurely towards the stairs after the rest. “This is getting tiresome, isn’t it? You see it too, how dull this has gotten… What potential they’re wasting here. What do you say we speed along what’s been a long, long time coming?”
“Well, wouldn’t you like to know?”
A golden, shining sword appeared out of the giant’s gross hand, and his presence alone made Glitch want to wretch, the smell of the Conqueror Worm fell, and vibes even more rancid.
“We got two more troublemakers here, eh?” Worm asked her and William with an amused tone, “Hell just broke loose here, and you’re tryin’ to run headlong into it! I like that! I like that drive! So what do ya say? Attacka them!”
Glitch didn’t know this guy, but something about his gleeful nature, the way that William murmured to himself in alarm when he spoke those distorted words, made her hairs stand on end, made her want to hiss and immediately turn her attention to him, and it seemed, then, that Worm could sense this.
“Another one who ain’t a fan, huh?” He shook his head. “Disappointing, but typical.”
At that, he ducked into the floor, before attempting to burst out from underneath and drive his blade up into Vida Loca, barely being scraped before hopping away from the rising attack and meeting it with a sharp, harsh claw, beating back his raw strength with her Stand’s own.
“I don’t know who you are, but you’re really not the kind of bad news that’s any fun!” Glitch called out from atop her mount, pulling off in time to avoid the ambush of a hollowed-out guard and note two others bothering William.
“That guy looks underage… He ain’t allowed to be on a casino floor without ID!” Worm declared with amusement, fully expecting what came next as several of the doll-guards attempted to strong-arm him.
“G-get away… Get away from me!” William was freaking out, then, and fairly fearing for his life, allowed Ocean Eyes to manifest, swinging and spraying acid all around, which bounced uselessly off of Worm’s hide, didn’t so much as drop near Glitch or Vida Loca, and melted away the threats in an instant.
The casino floor was pandemonium then, several high rollers, some random patrons, and of course, every named member fighting, Stands flying. Arpeggi expertly caught rocks tossed by Fox, only for him to still control them even as they were made to burn by NEXT LEVEL 2, though this eroded away much of the sands of his barrier, backed up by Agnes as he very competently kept a rocky barrier up regardless, Metra standing close by, shifting her eyes. The Black Angel tried to drive headlong into Worm, continuing his mess of a situation, while Glitch, mostly, managed to sneak off on her own, trying to find a way to support William and calm him out of whatever this was.
“Don’t move,” a modulated voice behind her said, and she heard something click behind her.
“Mrr?” She turned, then, facing the barrel of Oh No’s revolver head-on.
“This might be a bit loud… But it’s about time this ended.”
Before Glitch could react, No had pulled the trigger twice. Neither shot so much as grazed her, but seemed to hit tables, cameras, walls, ricocheting about in apparent chaos, before finally…
“I… What did…” Blood ran down the organizational ringleader’s outfit, bleeding both from a massive wound to the back of his knee and opening a massive hole in his shoulder, as the rocks he had been flinging around dropped like… Rocks.
Tigran’s voice was the next thing to ring out through the casino, now mostly abandoned bar the combatants.
Fox hadn’t even heard the shots fired, thanks to Metra, let alone noticed their angles; after all, the only one he knew of who could make a shot like that was knocked out and drunk upstairs, not to mention loyal to Tigran’s paychecks.
No twirled his gun around, holstering it and patting the bewildered Glitch on the shoulder. “Thanks for holding still… Didn’t want to hit you and ruin it all, after all. Hmmhmmhmahaha!"
“You… You motherfuckers!” Tigran wanted to cry then, especially as the others drew closer, seeing everyone who had fought against an ally of his here as little more than an enemy. Still, though, facing them off, he had to calm himself.
“Stand down,” Arpeggi demanded, “you’re outnumbered, completely.”
Tigran, rather than giving up, began to speak again. “You know, as the owner of this casino, I know the power of ‘games’. You see, if you call it a ‘gamble’, that sounds so… negative, no? So you call it nothing more than a simple ‘game’. That’s what draws people in. Getting people to play ‘roulette’ is harder, but if you call it a ‘roulette game’ and mask it correctly, it’s so, so, easy… However, the moment the ball is launched, it doesn’t matter, does it? No difference between a ‘gamble’ and a ‘game’... the ‘contract’ is the same - you abandon your money for ‘entertainment’ and for a slim ‘hope’ that you’ll succeed this time and make bank… It’s all thanks to these ‘games’... All of you lot, don’t you think so? Aren’t ‘games’ great? Hell, I’ve got an idea for one we can play right now…”
“Wh- what the hell are you talking about!” Arpeggi shouted out in anger. “I’m not putting up with this shit! You want a ‘game’?! Sure, fine! Here, how about this one - I go up to you, and have fun beating the shit out of you!” rushing towards Tigran, Arpeggi readied a punch and swung towards him - only for his fist to stop in midair, hitting against some kind of invisible barrier. He reeled back from the impact, stumbling backwards, feeling… weak. A look behind him revealed that Agnes, Glitch, William, and even Metra, the Angel, and No seemed to be feeling the same, struggling to remain upright.
“Y- you ‘agreed’... heh…” Tigran’s previously panicked expression quickly faded, replaced by a wide grin. “You agreed to it! You agreed to the ‘game’!” By now, Tigran broke out into uproarious laughter. “Always! They always fall for it, tempted by ‘games’! You… you idiot! I put the answer right in front of you, and you still missed it! ‘Games’, by their very nature, are tricks! Illusions! And my [The Grid] has the power to facilitate that! By agreeing to the game, my [The Grid] forces you to participate! There’s no escape now - you’re trapped in this ‘game’ of mine!”
As he realized he had screwed them all right at the last moment, Arpeggi’s vision began fading, and he fell onto the ground with a thud, blacking out.
???, an hour later, Heartache Casino VIP room
“Alright! Seems like our contestants for the first impromptu match of the day are waking up!”
“Plrrr..?” Out of nowhere, Glitch found herself standing straight, awake, somewhere unfamiliar. She tried to listen to see what was going on, only hearing the groans of William, Agnes, and Arpeggi, indicating that they were in a similar position to her. Of course, there was also that voice - she was… a ‘contestant’. It wasn’t hard to roughly figure out what exactly she was a ‘contestant’ of. She, and...
“...William!” Behind her was a whimpering noise, evidently William, and the sound of droplets of some kind of liquid splashing onto the ground, clearly [Ocean Eyes]’s acid. Ahead of her were Agnes and Arpeggi, talking between themselves about what the hell happened. Arpeggi sounded mad. Agnes… she wasn’t sure how he sounded. But she gathered enough from their conversation to understand that somehow, they were currently inside of a roulette wheel. Or rather, she, and everyone else, was shrunk, and placed into a roulette wheel.
“Now, this match is simple - a deathmatch to see who manages to survive! However, since we’re at the heartache casino… there’s an appropriate twist involved! See, our combatants for today are fighting on a roulette table, and meanwhile, our spectators for today are placing ‘bets’ to see which colors win out! Representing ‘red’, we’ve got our very own ‘Fox’! On black, meanwhile, we’ve got ‘Tigran Sins’, who set this match up!”
She summoned [Vida Loca] besides her, taking a look through the stand’s eyes and seeing the environment for herself. She was dwarfed by the room, trapped inside of this small roulette wheel. There was nowhere to run. William’s whimpers had escalated into sobbing, as [Ocean Eyes] hugged him from behind. Arpeggi and Agnes were arguing by now, shouting at each other. She took a deep breath.
“Now… I won’t keep you waiting any longer, since I just know everyone here’s excited to see what happens! So...”
First, Glitch got tossed into Los Fortuna and found a new home there, with the rest of the staff at the Elephant Bones. Then, they started getting into fights with other stand users - Shelldrake, Effie, Byte, William. She hadn’t been in one yet, but she knew very well the effects of them. Her friends had gotten hurt, some such as Father Blue even dying. Then the situation in the slums got worse, her home becoming less and less safe by the minute, her friends getting extorted and forced to work for ODIN, and now she and William were trapped here.
“Three… Two… One...”
She needed to get out. She needed to fight. She needed to win. She could overhear Agnes and Arpeggi bickering on the other side of the wheel, but knew that they were going to try and fight her and William as well. They had to. They’d been trapped by that man’s stand, and none of them knew what could be done against it, if anything.
[Vida Loca] stood behind her, a constant vibration coming out of it and creating a loud hissing noise that was soon mimicked by [Ocean Eyes], drowning out William’s sobs. She knew full well that, even if he was her friend, William was also a dangerous killer, meek though he might have acted. As hard as that whole situation was to grasp, she understood something else - that the more she stayed near [Ocean Eyes], working alongside it, the safer she was. She and William had to get out of this. And if they wanted to get out of this...
They would have to fight for their lives.
(credit to magistelles for the image, both the censored and uncensored version!(CW: trypophobia))
Location: A roulette wheel in Heartache Casino, upon which players have been forcibly placed.
The map here is roughly similar to the image of the roulette wheel above. The outer brown layer represents the rim, the yellow layer being the wooden slopes down towards the center, the black layer being the numbers, the red layer being the pockets, the next layer being sloped wood up towards the center, and the center being a metal tower.
The map is 30 by 30 meters relative to the players, with the dotted tile being 5 by 5 meters.
The diamonds are the metal bumpers, about half a meter tall, and the blue circle is a weighted metal roulette ball which is a meter tall, both heights relative to the players.
The metal tower in the center is 8 meters tall relative to the players and the outside walls are 5 meters relative to the players. Players can not go past the rim of the roulette wheel.
Goal: RETIRE your opponents!
Additional Information:
There is an invisible barrier keeping the players and their Stands inside the roulette wheel. Everything else will pass through as normal, but the players and their attacks will be blocked by this barrier. The barrier is cylindrical around the entire roulette wheel.
The roulette system is currently automatic, 5 seconds after the ball falls into a pocket or stops moving entirely, it will start rolling again at top speed clockwise. The max speed of the ball is equivalent to B SPD and the ball is A DUR. You can expect it to make around 8 revolutions around the wheel before losing most of its speed if it is unimpeded by the players.
If the ball is destroyed or unable to roll, a new one will be thrown in from outside.
Team Combatant JoJolity
The Graveyard Shift William Eyelash “W-Well, I'll be going now...” You’re being forced to fight, and you don’t want anything to do with this! During the match, try to stay on the backlines as much as possible, assisting from there!
The Graveyard Shift Tiger “Glitch” Ricky "Nowadays, 30,000 yen is gone after you make one or two trips... So all that's left is to make more money, or go flat broke." You are being forced to fight here, and you hate it, so you might as well do something to cause the casino to lose money! Do whatever you can to constantly rig the roulette in favor of odds!
BADD GUYS Arpeggi Osso Buco "Does that alien not know what 'holding back' means?" You were tricked by that asshole, and now you’ve got to fight these two bystanders?! Fuck, this makes you irritated. Destroy as much of the area as possible over the course of your strategy!
BADD GUYS Ananas “Agnes” Bayley "I did say this seemed fun, but I wasn't talking about Cee-lo. I meant that it'd be fun taking your 30,000 yen from you." That girl over there is trying to rig the game, so play the agent of chaos and rig it towards the other end! Do whatever you can to constantly rig the roulette in favor of evens!
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by Dungeon_Dice to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

Of Nite and Dei: [Chapter 17]

Table of Contents
Chapter 9 l Chapter 10 l Chapter 11 l Chapter 12 l Chapter 13 l Chapter 14 l Chapter 15 l Chapter 16
Yuki laid in bed with Serren, staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling. She turned to Serren and quietly rolled out of bed, slowly moving so as not to wake him.
Silently, Yuki padded out of the bedroom and stopped dead once she reached the kitchen, finding Rezzolina out near the railings of the balcony.
Rezzolina was wearing a simple shirt and a pair of loose-fitting and worn shorts. A light robe fluttered in the breeze which wafted in through the open balcony doors. Rezzolina had her back to Yuki, facing the night sky.
Yuki hoped she hadn’t been discovered. She turned just as Rezzolina called to her.
“Even if I couldn’t feel you, Yuki,” Rezzolina turned to Yuki as she inhaled the end of a small cigarette, blowing out a cloud of blue luminescent smoke from her nostrils, “I’d hear your clumsy footsteps in my home.”
Yuki sighed, “hi, Rezzolina.”
Rezzolina turned back to look out over the balcony, “sneaking out, are you?”
Yuki walked towards the balcony, stepping out into the warm humid air and moving to the railing, “Just wanted to look around.”
Rezzolina gave a nod, inhaling another drag from her cigarette and exhaling more plumes of colorful light blue luminescent smoke. “Do you smoke?” Rezzolina offered a pack of blue cigarettes.
Yuki smiled, shaking her head, “no. Bad habit to have on a spaceship.”
Rezzolina nodded, inhaling again, “disgusting habit, to be honest,” she exhaled once more through her nostrils.
“Then why do it?” Yuki asked.
“Stress,” Rezzolina said, taking another inhale and looking upwards towards the sky.
Yuki looked up towards the Niten sky as well, smiling at the familiar sight of an evening sky framed by skyscrapers. “I like to come out to my balcony and look at the stars back on Dei.”
“It’s relaxing,” Rezzolina turned to Yuki, “So, what do you love about my brother?”
Yuki smiled, looking up, “he’s got a very compassionate heart,” her smile weakened, “and yet it’s so wounded.”
Rezzolina nodded, “Allia really did a number on him.”
Yuki turned to Rezzolina once more, “oh?”
Rezzolina nodded, “refused to have children for the first few years. Not really something most couples do,” she took another inhale. “I thought she was a little selfish, at least towards Serren.”
“I didn’t think an empathetic race could be selfish,” Yuki chuckled, “are you all connected?”
“Yes, in chains,” Rezzolina inhaled again, now blowing the smoke out between her lips through the end of her snout in a single stream of pulsing blue smoke. “Allia’s chain was attached strongly to her purpose, her job,” Rezzolina leaned against the railings a little more as lights twinkled in the air and across the glass of the large buildings.
“So she was focused on her hunting?” Yuki asked.
“She was,” Rezzolina extinguished her cigarette, “it consumed her. It was all she cared about. Not that it’s bad to care about your profession but…” Rezzolina trailed off.
Yuki laughed, “you shared that trait with her?”
“I did,” Rezzolina nodded, turning to Yuki, “But I also don’t do anything so selfish as taking a mate when I know I do not have the time to give them.”
“The time?” Yuki asked.
Rezzolina smiled, “I barely have time to see my brother when he stops by for the first time in years. Do you really think I have the time to dedicate to a mate?”
“I guess not,” Yuki sighed.
“It’s lonely, at times,” Rezzolina stood up, stretching, “but I get respect at work, luxurious accommodations for the stressful work environment, and the knowledge that thanks to my efforts, the people of Nite don’t go hungry and can sleep soundly,” as Rezzolina spoke, her smile widened, looking up towards a large building across the street from her own.
Yuki smiled, “To me, I’m just looking for minerals to sell to feed my own family, I can’t imagine working hard to feed others.”
Rezzolina’s smile faded, “and that, Yuki, is why Dei is a primitive wasteland,” she turned to her, “and why you’re staying here.”
“But, can’t you reconsider?” Yuki pleaded.
Rezzolina shook her head, “No,” she stated as she walked back inside, “I cannot.”
Yuki sighed, “Rezzolina-”
“Good night, Yuki,” Rezzolina said as she passed her kitchen. “There’s some evening tea bags in the cupboard if you need some help sleeping.”
Yuki heaved a sigh and took a seat on a large chair on the balcony. She looked out over the city and could hear traffic down below and the occasional shouts and noises of the large city. She closed her eyes as the white noise relaxed her.
Yuki got up and returned to bed, shutting the balcony doors before she crawled back into bed with Serren. “I guess that’s that. I can’t see Geoffrey,” she frowned, cuddling up against Serren, her eyes watering. “That can’t be it, can it?” she sighed, closing her eyes. Falling into a heavy sleep.

A fog-filled field greeted Yuki and she seemed to be all alone. Out in the distance, there was a scratching noise. Almost like metal scraping against metal.
As Yuki moved towards it, she felt as if she were floating.
A red Nite sat clad in white robes, gently tinkering with a small object. He seemed very young.
“Serren?” Yuki asked softly.
The young Nite turned his head to Yuki and gave her a warm smile, “He's at work.”
Yuki frowned, the boy looked familiar. “Oh. Who are you?”
The young Nite laughed and went back to his tinkering, “You must not have gotten much sleep last night again, mother.”
Yuki just frowned and sat next to him, “My dreams are getting troubled it seems.”
The boy looked at her and frowned, “It’s probably due to your acclimation. From when you used to be a normal Dei Angel. The Doctor told you not to worry about those weird visions.”
“Used to be?” Yuki asked, looking to the young Nite. “What do you mean, used to be?” she reached out to touch him, but when her hand crossed her vision, she noticed it had bluish claws at the end. She examined her hand curiously, confused as to why her fingers were tipped with claws.
She then looked to her wings. Blue Niten wings! She turned and found a short and slender tail behind her. “Oh, my Guardian...”
The young boy looked very concerned. “IS there something wrong, mom? Are you all right?”
Yuki went pale, “Wh-What did you call me?” She said, her mouth agape. No! It can't be possible, can it...?
The young boy frowned, “I said 'mom'... is something wrong? Should I call the doctor?”
“N-No!” she gasped, “No, no... I'm... I'm fine.” she closed her eyes. “Mommy's fine.”
The young Nite placed his hand on hers. “I know what you saw in your dreams is troubling you mother... but I promise nothing like that can happen – The Guardians would not allow it.”
Yuki looked at him, “The Guardians?”
The boy nodded, “And you can trust me, I’m the Scribe Lord, Mother.” he said with a bit of pride. “I’ll make sure to protect us all, in the name of The Guardians!”
He must have gotten that pride from me... unless he's a hunter... what's a Scribe Lord?
The world began to fade to darkness as the fog thickened, the only thing that remained was the boy’s shimmering blue eyes, her eyes. The world was plunged into complete darkness.
Yuki sat up, gasping, confused, and in Serren’s arms.
“Shhh, just a dream my love,” Serren whispered.
“Oh, Serren!” Yuki grabbed hold of him, burying her face in his chest, “I keep having dreams of my son! I have to bring him here!”
“But how?” Serren whispered, “Rezzolina won’t allow it.”
Yuki grinned, “there’s more than one way onto a ship.”

A heavy base beat thumps in a dark room as a number of imps and angel men alike cheer and shout at a stage with a number of chrome poles running from the stage to the ceiling.
An angel woman in nothing but a thong gyrates and thrusts along the pole, her dark wings catch the light from time to time, sending fractals of light bouncing through the humid club air as she twists, spins, and flips around the pole.
In the VIP room, towards the back of the club, surrounded by a pair of strippers and several off-duty cops, Palma finished inhaling a line of powder off the table.
He shouts excitedly and thumps his chest, “Yeah! That’s the shit!” he cries as he pulls one of the girls tight against him.
She winces at his tight grip.
“You wanna come home with me babe?” Palma grins at the girl getting especially close.
She beams to him, “Sure daddy, as long as you can keep up,” she winked at him.
Palma pulled several large bills marked ‘100 Lumens’ each out of his pocket and placed them in his mouth, as he leaned over the girl.
She bit the bills out of his mouth and grinned up to him, stuffing them in her ample cleavage.
Palma got up and let loose another scream, his heart hammering in his ears as the drugs in his system fueled his evening activities.
The night continues with more lines of his new preferred drug, even sharing with his newly met lady friend.
Before he knew what was happening, he was in a hotel room. Palma and his new acquaintance both cried out in ecstasy, sweat drenched the pair as the drug surged through their veins, fueling frantic lovemaking.
After that, Palma blacked out and awoke staring up at the ceiling of the hotel room, his head pounding and his mouth and throat dry and his ears ringing.
He rolled off the bed, stumbling to the bathroom where he finally managed to pull himself up to the sink and get a drink directly from the tap.
His phone was buzzing, loudly. Far too loud.
He took another swallow of water, leaving the tap open, as he staggered his way to his jacket, which had landed somewhere on the floor of the hotel room.
Palma picked up the phone and found he missed the call.
He had missed 35 calls, to be exact.
The phone rang once more and Palma winced as he saw the number.
He cleared his throat, and answered as best he could, his voice cracking slightly as answered, “Y-Yes, So-orjoy?” He managed to sputter.
“By the Guardian wherein Oblivion have you been?” Sorjoy barked over the phone.
Palma looked around the room, “That’s a great question, I’m wondering that myself,” Palma thought. He didn’t recognize the hotel. It wasn’t cheap, sure, but he wasn’t familiar with it. “Uh… busy?” he stammered.
“Busy?!” Sorjoy growled, “You work for me, Palma! Don’t forget that fact!”
Palma took a deep breath and rubbed his head with his free hand, “yeah, yeah.”
“Where the fuck are you? I need you here yesterday!” Sorjoy screamed into the phone.
“Yeah, yeah,” Palma grumbled, getting to his feet and staggering to the bathroom to get another few gulps of water.
“Don’t you ‘yeah yeah’ me, Palma! I will hang you out to dry!” Sorjoy threatened.
Palma grumbled to himself, finally sneering to the phone, “Sorry, sir.”
“Daddy…” the young buxom woman cried softly from the bed, her head in her hands, “oh… Guardian… I-I don’t…” she fell to her knees and vomited.
“Fuck…” Palma grumbled as the girl unloaded her stomach contents on the floor. Palma spotted the remains of pills in the mix of her excess.
“I-I don’t… feel… too good… I-I…” she whimpered, tears streaming down her face as she wiped the vomit from her lips.
“Palma, where the fuck are you?!” Sorjoy screamed on the phone.
Palma splashed some water on his face from the sink, and cleared his throat, “What do you need, Mr. Sorjoy?”
“Finally,” Sorjoy relented, “I need you to get an escort for the delivery of the Heart of Lucifer to Mr. Trueman’s estate.”
“A private company can’t do that?” Palma protested.
“If I wanted a private security company to do it,” Sorjoy fumed, “then I wouldn’t have a need for you in my back pocket, now would I?!”
Palma flinched at the volume coming from the phone.
“Now be a good pet,” Sorjoy growled, “and heel!” the line went dead.
Palma closed his eyes tightly and gave a powerful exhale through his nostrils, trying to clear his head, “fuck that shit hit me hard.”
“I-I gotta go to a doctor…” the feeble angel kneeling before him sobbed, “I feel like my head is going to explode…”
Palma walked to his clothing strewn about all over the floor and collected it, dressing as swiftly as he could. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a few bills, “go to the hospital and if you talk about this? I’ll find you and gut you myself,” he tossed the girl several large bills, “go get fixed up.”
The young woman whimpered as the bills fell to the ground, a few landing in her own sick, “b-but I… I think I’m dying…”
“Then do me a favor and do it somewhere away from me,” Palma stated, turning on his heel and rushing out of the hotel.

Cleo sat at her desk while Sorjoy paced back and forth in front of his office door.
“Sir,” Cleo began, “would you like me to have someone install hardwood in front of your office?”
Sorjoy glared at her, “Why would I want that, Cleo?”
“Because you’re going to wear out the carpet with that pacing,” Cleo said, jokingly.
“This is no joking matter,” Sorjoy hissed as he continued to pace, “Trueman is expecting the gem today and I’m not going to risk something so valuable being transported by anyone other than the police.”
“Because they can’t be corrupt,” Cleo sighed, tapping away on her keyboard.
Sorjoy chuckled, “when they are my corrupt cops, it doesn’t matter. They know not to bite the hand that feeds them.”
Cleo gave a nod. Sorjoy had been opening up to her lately regarding how much power he had. She was unsure why he was doing this. Posturing? To instill fear in her?
Whatever his reasons, Cleo had not felt that they were affecting her in the ways that Sorjoy desired.
Cleo’s phone rang and she answered quickly, “Erik Sorjoy’s office.”
“Chief Palma told us to help escort the Diamond. Said he would be waiting at Trueman’s office. We have several officers at your HQ,” the officer stated.
“Thank you so much,” Cleo turned to Sorjoy, “we’ll join you. Please come around back to the loading bay, we’ll be leaving from there.”
Sorjoy turned to Cleo, “Good news?”
“Our police escorts are here,” Cleo informed Sorjoy.
“Good,” Sorjoy heaved a sigh, he made his way towards the elevator, “let's hope no one tries anything stupid.”

Several officers flew around the back of the large Fondsworth building, all surrounding a pair of black limousines.
Naberious cleared his throat as a few of the officers landed near him. He tipped his hat to a few of them as they approached.
The second limo was in front of Naberious’s, the other driver looked far more nervous than Naberious.
One officer approached the second driver, “you got clearance for this?” his badge read “Officer Grant”
“What?” The driver squeaked.
“ID, asshole,” Officer Grant said, pushing the driver’s shoulder.
The driver flinched and pulled out an ID card, handing it over, “I’m a professional transporter! Shit man.”
Officer Grant looked over his ID, “Bade Trenner?”
Bade nodded.
Officer Grant swiped the ID through a small card reader, looking it over.
Bade hemmed and hawed.
Naberious kept his eyes forward as the officers paid him no mind.
Officer Grant grinned, looking to Bade, “Hey, asshole, wanna take a guess as to what I just found?”
Bade gasped, “I can explain-”
Officer Grant punched Bade across the face, then pulled him out of the limo as another officer pounced on him, forcing him to the ground. “Take him in for questioning!”
Bade shouted in protest as he was carted off by a pair of officers. Officer Grant chuckled, “who can drive one of these?” he asked his fellow officers.
A young eager to please officer volunteered and climbed into the limo.
Officer Grant now moved towards Naberious, approaching him menacingly.
Naberious pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a drag and blowing the smoke away from Officer Grant.
“Hey, you!” Officer Grant said as he approached Naberious.
“Yeah?” Naberious asked calmly.
“Mind if I bum one of those off of you?” Officer Grant asked.
“Knock yourself out,” Naberious offered the pack of cigarettes to the officer, who took one gladly.
“Have you ever worked with that guy before?” Officer Grant asked.
Naberious shook his head, lighting the officer’s cigarette for him, “Can’t say I have. He’s new. He was supposed to be the lead car. The armored truck is getting loaded in the loading dock. Once you boys give the okay, the big boss comes down and we make our way to wherever it is we’re going.”
“They haven’t told you yet?” Officer Grant asked, taking a drag.
“Man, they don’t tell me shit,” he grinned to Officer Grant.
The pair laughed.
Officer Grant’s radio soon squawked to life, “Address enroute, heading to 1000 Prestige Lane,” Palma’s voice called out.
Officer Grant nodded.
“Never heard of that address,” Naberious noted.
“It’s a code,” Officer Grant smiled, “VIP estate. We gotta verify now with dispatch on a secure line.”
“VIP, coming in hot,” an officer shouted as Cleo and Sorjoy walked out of a small door to the left of the loading dock.
Cleo grimaced at the uneven concrete in front of her, taking mincing steps in her heels as she moved gingerly towards the limo. She steadied herself on the back of the limo, looking to the lead car, her brow furrowing as she saw an officer sitting in the opened driver side door.
“Where’s Bade?” Cleo asked.
“Who is Bade?” Sorjoy countered.
“He’s the other transporter I commissioned for the lead car,” Cleo explained as Naberious assisted her towards the limousine door.
“Why did you commission a transporter? We have Naberious,” Sorjoy questioned, “granted we are not tight on funds.”
“Because,” Cleo explained, “the lead car is a dummy car.”
Sorjoy gave a slight nod of approval as he slid inside the limo, “well thought out, Ms.Walters.”
Naberious leaned into the back of the limousine, “Bade acted nervous around the officers and they arrested him.”
“For acting nervous?” Sorjoy frowned.
“He was a fully vetted transporter!” Cleo complained, “I hired him myself!”
Naberious shrugged, “you act suspicious around some cops, they’ll take you in until they find something, anything, to hold you.”
Sorjoy chuckled, “I’m sure your transporter will be fine, assuming he’s done nothing wrong.”
Naberious grinned, “I saw the scan, his ID checked out and he had no priors. Cop baited him and he fell for it. The only thing that kid is guilty of is being green.”
Sorjoy nodded, “well then I am glad he’s no longer working on this project.”
Cleo sighed, “he was just the dummy car, sir.”
“Noted, but do fire him, Cleo,” Sorjoy smiled, leaning back in the limo.
“Yessir,” Cleo said, tapping on her tablet.
Naberious closed the door and got into the driver's seat.
Soon a pair of large armored trucks rolled out of the loading bay.
The first truck passed the limousines, while the second stopped long enough to allow both limousines to travel in between.
“Well, I must say,” Sorjoy smiled, “I do feel rather safe.”
Cleo nodded.
Outside of the limousine, three police officers per armored vehicle stood on top of the large trucks.
As the caravan made its way down the street, the officers held on to the roof with handles and quick release straps. The officers each carried with them heavy assault rifles.
After a few minutes, a voice shouted from a side street: “Cerberus comes for you!” a large bottle filled with gasoline crashed against the first armored car.
Naberious spotted the flames on the first car and shouted “Shit!” He quickly took a right while the front limousine took a left, each of them heading down the wrong road. Eggs pelted the windows and sides of Sorjoy’s limousine.
“Problem?” Sorjoy asked as Naberious turned the limo.
“Someone just tossed an incendiary device at the lead armored car,” Naberious shifted the limousine into gear, and Cleo and Sorjoy were soon shoved into one another as the limousine picked up speed. “Hang on back there, getting us out of the hot zone!”
Cleo yelped as Sorjoy caught her.
Sorjoy looked down, realizing he was gripping Cleo’s hips tightly.
“Mr. Sorjoy!” Cleo narrowed her eyes on him.
Sorjoy released her, “you’re welcome,” he cleared his throat as he attempted to brush off the awkward grip.
Outside three of the police angels leaped off the top of the lead armored car and flew towards where the bottle was thrown from.
“Hands up!” an officer shouted to one angel wearing a dog mask.
The dog masked man held up his hands, “holy shit - I’m unarmed!”
“Good,” a second officer snickered, gunning the man down without any further warning.
Other angels in dog masks jumped out of side streets and alleyways.
The three officers soon opened fire, taking out another pair of angels and tagging another before they ceased fire.
“Three down, one tagged, flag the nearby hospitals, anyone comes in with gunshot wounds, make sure it’s reported,” Officer Grant shouted, “come on, let's collect the dogs,” he laughed.
A radio buzzed in Naberious’s car, “Disturbance has been quelled, follow the alternate route. Sending it to you now.”
Naberious took the radio up and slowed the limousine down, “got it.”
Cleo sighed, “well, thank the Guardian that’s over.”
Sorjoy nodded, “This is why you make sure you have cops you can trust.”

Palma sipped a coffee as he sat across from Bade. He was looking over a file, then glanced up to Bade as if it was the first time he had noticed him there, “oh, you need something to drink?”
“What am I being held for?” Bade swallowed hard.
Palma looked back to his file and took another calm sip, “you know what you’re here for.”
Bade went pale and began to sweat, “okay list-”
“Who put you up to it?” Palma said, looking at the paper still, “you’ve got no priors, so either you’re very good,” Palma looked up to Bade, “which is doubtful…”
Bade frowned, “Listen, I want a lawyer.”
“Oh, me too man,” Palma said, laying the paperwork down on the table, “me too. I bet I could get all kinds of compensation from the department from this fucking jobs. You know how many times I’ve been shot in the line of duty?” Palma shook his head.
Bade looked down at the table.
“A cop died today,” Palma lied.
“What?!” Bade looked up, shocked.
“Yep. Some fucking bastard in a dog mask threw a bottle filled with gas at an armored vehicle,” Palma shook his head, “poor bastard was burned alive in his gear.”
“I-I,” Bade stammered, sweating even more now.
“What a shitty way to go,” Palma shook his head, “I’d prefer some drug dealer just pop me in the back of the head, myself. One second I’m busting some imp prick for selling drugs to kids, the next second I’m shaking hands with the Guardian Lucifer.”
Bade looked away.
“So, Bade,” Palma said, finally looking at Bade, “who’s your contact?”
Bade was silent, “I was called onto the initial job with a legit contract. Low balled, sure, but it was just to drive the dummy car and I’ve got no experience so I figured: bite the bullet and take the shitty contract.”
“Mmhmm,” Palma nodded.
Bade heaved a sigh, “then some guy contacts me and says he can double my pay if I just make a right down a particular road instead of a left.”
“I’m listening and you’re doing well here, you are,” Palma grinned.
“That’s it,” Bade admitted.
“That’s it?” Palma said, standing up. “You sure?”
Bade nodded.
“Listen, if you’re scared of these guys,” Palma smiled, drinking the rest of his coffee, “I have to tell you, that’s the wrong way of looking at things.”
“What?” Bade said, shivering.
Palma smashed the coffee mug on the table and pressed the broken porcelain against Bade’s throat, “you should be way more afraid of me!”
Bade gasped and tried to step back, but found Palma’s hand on the back of his neck. “C-Camera!” Bade said, pointing to the camera with a flashing red light in the corner.
Palma turned to it and smiled wickedly, “Make a choice, Bade, who are you more afraid of? Guys in masks who run around killing cops in the dark…”
Bade whimpered as Palma pressed the jagged porcelain against his throat.
“Or a cop like me,” Palama whispered into his ear, “who has no problems killing you right here, on camera, with my face on full display?”
Bade began to piss himself.
“Make your choice Bade… I haven’t got all day… and my hand’s starting to cramp,” Palma hissed with a devilish grin.
Bade stammered, “I-I don’t know his name! B-But I know he was a co-worker of that miner who fell! That’s all I know about Cerberus, I swear to the Guardian!”
Palma smiled, pulling the coffee mug away from Bade’s neck, “thanks for being co-operative,” Palma slammed Bade’s face down onto the table with his other hand.
Bade’s head bounced off and he recoiled, falling back against the wall, collapsing to the floor in a heap as Palma strode out of the room.
Two officers stood there in shock.
Once the door shut, Palma burst out laughing, “Holy fuck! These Cerberus guys are a joke!” Palma grinned wickedly as he looked to the closed door, “I was literally just fuckin’ with him!”
One officer chuckled, “So were we!”
Palma grinned to them, “Just goes to show you boys,” he walked past the pair of officers, “everyone is guilty of something.”

“I’m sorry,” Rezzolina frowned, “you want… what?”
Yuki beamed, “I want to see the shuttle, you know before it’s decommissioned.”
You want to see the shuttle?” Rezzolina lifted an eyebrow.
“Yes,” Yuki smiled wide, “Is that a problem?”
“It’s an odd favor to ask, from you, all things considered,” Rezzolina thought out loud as she drank from a cup of hot amber colored tea.
“Is it?” Yuki asked.
Serren smiled, “she is a pilot, sister. Maybe she’d like to see how the shuttles operate?”
Rezzolina leaned back in her chair, “the shuttle does leave in a week. It’s not like you’re going to stow-away in that time.”
“Awesome! So that’s a yes then?” Yuki beamed at Rezzolina.
Serren joined Yuki in smiling at Rezzolina.
Rezzolina heaved a sigh, “Fine!” she stood up, placing her mug down, “but only because I haven’t seen you in a few years, Serren.”
Serren grinned, “Oh my, spending time with my sister! This is a new experience.”
Rezzolina narrowed her eyes on Serren, “Don’t push it, Brother.”
Yuki smiled, “Part one of the plan is coming together…” she thought to herself.

A few hours later Rezzolina, Serren, and Yuki landed near a large staging area. A rather large ship was taking on crates and Niten dragons of all sorts were walking along the fuselage inspecting the craft.
“Wow,” Yuki remarked, “that’s a big shuttle.”
Rezzolina nodded, “yes it is, it has to be to transport goods from Nite to Dei.”
Yuki wondered why she had never seen a ship like this on Dei. Surely she would have had to see it? Someone would have seen it, right?
“I don’t suppose I could meet the crew, could I?” Yuki asked.
Rezzolina shrugged, “Why not, they’re inspecting the ship now.”
“They are?” Yuki smiled, “you actually let the flight crew inspect the ship?”
“Who else would do it? They’re the ones whose lives are on the line,” Rezzolina pointed out in a haughty tone.
“Ugh,” Yuki lamented, “I wish they had let us do that on Dei. There is a separate crew that does the maintenance.”
“It is like that on Dei,” Rezzolina pointed out, “in order to prevent the transmission of any foreign disease to the crew members, the crew quarters is on lockdown when it’s docked.”
“Really?” Yuki frowned, “That would explain why no one has ever seen a Niten piloted shuttle land on Dei.” she thought.
“Honestly the only intelligent thing I’ve heard a Dei Angel say over a conference call,” Rezzolina said, approaching the ship.
Yuki’s mouth hung open, “excuse me?”
“I stand by that statement,” Rezzolina said as she continued towards the ship without looking back. “Come on, if you want to meet the crew, they’re this way.”
Serren sighed, “I’m sorry Yuki.”
“Yeah,” Yuki glared at Rezzolina, “me too.”
Rezzolina stood next to the large shuttle and shouted, “Anyone see a lazy pilot and her buddies anywhere around here?” she joked.
A large female Niten dragon, with brown scales and green eyes, chuckled to Rezzolina, “Chairwoman! What on Nite are you doing here?”
Rezzolina smiled and motioned for her to come down, “inspection.”
The brown Nite jumped down from the large ship, which stood a good ten meters off the ground. About halfway through her fall, she flapped her wings and slowed herself enough to land safely, “To what do I owe this pleasure?” she said, hugging Rezzolina.
Rezzolina hugged back, chuckling, “Well Brigg, it seems we’ve got tourists.”
“Tourists?” Briggett, the large brown nite said, turning to see Yuki and Serren approaching. She smiled, “Well hey there, little lady!”
Yuki smiled, for once not feeling spoken down to. Granted Briggett was the largest female nite she had run into, “Hi!” Yuki said.
“I’ve seen you on the news,” Briggett smiled, “Yuki, right? You must be a pretty skilled little pilot to keep one of those little bubble shuttles from melting on reentry.”
Yuki beamed, “It wasn’t as difficult as roughing it for a week in the wild.”
Briggett nodded, “it’s a miracle that you’re alive!”
Yuki nodded back, “So, mind showing me around your clunker?”
Briggett beamed, “I’d be honored! Come on board. My name’s Briggett, but please, call me Brigg. I’m the ship’s captain.”
“Nice to meet you Brigg,” Yuki grinned, “you already know my name but, Yuki Karkade,” she offered her hand to shake.
Briggett smiled, shaking her hand, “Pleased to meet you, Yuki.”
Yuki headed with Briggett towards the ship.
Rezzolina turned to Serren, “You’re not interested?”
Serren looked over the massive ship, “the less contact I have with it the better.”
Rezzolina smiled, “want to have lunch while Yuki and Briggett talk trade?”
Serren smiled to Rezzolina, “Yes, I’d love to.”
Rezzolina grinned back, “Good. Then you can explain to me how on Nite you mated with this Dei Angel.”
Serren laughed, as he shouted to Yuki, “I’ll catch up with you later!”
Yuki smiled back, “okay love!”
Briggett smiled, “Love? I’ve never heard that as a colloquial on Dei.”
“You speak Dei?” Yuki grinned.
Briggett nodded, “Have to! The crew that we land with are Dei angels.”
“Explains why you’re the only one who hasn’t called me a primitive,” Yuki remarked.
Briggett sighed, “I’ll apologize on their behalf: They don’t understand. Dei is kind of…” she sighed, “further apart than Nite.”
“How so?” Yuki questioned.
“You know, when you come to a big city like this,” she motioned to the city behind them, “you get used to knowing lots and lots of people. Everyone’s right on top of each other. This entire city was the first city ever built, you know.”
“Wow, really?” Yuki smiled.
“Oh yeah, back then Metro Prime was just, well, a little city, but everyone worked to protect one another and build it into the center of our society that it is today,” Briggett laughed.
“And I guess moving the city walls out is hard?” Yuki noted.
“Rarely happens,” Briggett motioned to the large buildings, “but it’s easier to build up than out. So that’s where things went.”
Yuki laughed, “I’d imagine.”
“But it’s different on Dei,” Briggett noted, “On Dei, no one had to live on top of each other. Folks could set out on their own, do their own thing, and not have to worry about some horrible giant lizard stomping them to death in their sleep.”
“Yeah,” Yuki shivered, recalling the terrible sight of poor Fammel, “that’s… not a pleasant image.”
Briggett shook her head, “It’s not. But,” Briggett smiled, changing the subject as they neared the rear of the ship, “because of that, I’m well aware that Dei society is just different. Not primitive.”
“It’s great to hear that,” Yuki smiled.
“Besides, my co-pilot Tarabetha?” Briggett leaned down to Yuki, whispering, “she’s got a crush on an air traffic controller named Thomas on Dei.”
“You don’t say,” Yuki said, wondering if Thomas knew she was a dragon and not just another pilot.

Cleo and Sorjoy’s limo soon came up to a large gate with a monogram on the front of a large and ornate “RT”.
The gate opened slowly and the limousine rolled down a long road leading towards a massive palatial manor.
At the center of the driveway was a large fountain, where the drive circled around, leaving a stretch of road between the fountain and the staircase leading to the massive mansion.
Cleo looked up at the huge manner from the limousine and lifted her eyebrows in surprise.
Sorjoy was less impressed, clearly having seen the sight before.
Once the limousine came to a stop, Naberious moved to the door and opened it, assisting Sorjoy and Cleo out of the limo.
As Cleo stepped out she craned her neck upwards to see the whole sight of the massive manner. “Wow.”
“It helps to publish books on The Guardian’s works,” Sorjoy said, approaching the armored vehicle.
A few imps and angels alike came from inside the estate and helped to unload the large crate in the back of the armored truck.
“Be careful with that,” Sorjoy barked, “it’s worth more than any of your lives.”
Cleo stood there, clicking at her tablet, her brow furrowed, “seems three are dead after that attack.”
“Good,” Sorjoy sneered, “then they’ll know not to fuck with us again.”
“Or they’ll be out for blood,” Cleo sighed, “either way I think we’d better keep security beefed up.”
Sorjoy nodded, “I think we’ll need to hire a security advisor then.”
“Have you considered Naberious?” Cleo suggested.
Sorjoy turned to her, his eyebrow raised, “Naberious is our driver.”
“He’s a veteran, transporter, and bodyguard,” Cleo pointed out.
“Let’s seek someone with some more leadership experience,” Sorjoy ordered.
Cleo nodded, “I’ll have a shortlist for you at the end of the day.”
“Very good, Cleo,” Sorjoy praised as the Heart of Lucifer was loaded onto a pallet.
The wheezing voice of Trueman came from the steps, the click of his cane announcing his presence before his voice had reached any of them. “Very good indeed,” Trueman announced with a smile, “I must say, Erik, I’m very surprised to see you here in person.”
Sorjoy smiled and approached Trueman, “well, I figured it was only right for me to be here to deliver the diamond to you personally.”
Angels and Imps grunted behind Sorjoy as they hoisted the heavy diamond onto a wheeled jack and began to carefully move the item around a side door of the manor.
“Of course,” Mr. Trueman smiled warmly to Cleo and Sorjoy, “Please, come in. I would be a terrible host if I were not to invite you in for tea.”
“Thank you, Mr. Trueman, but that isn’t necessary for the least,” Cleo smiled pleasantly.
Sorjoy frowned, “Cleo it’s not polite to refus-”
Trueman cut Sorjoy off, “on the contrary, it’s often impolite to impose, and as such,” he smiled to Cleo, “I find it no bother at all, please do come in.”
Sorjoy narrowed his eyes on Cleo’s back as she made her way up the steps.
“This is a truly phenomenal home, Mr. Trueman. I’m astounded by the size and grandeur,” Cleo gushed.
“You flatter me,” Mr. Trueman laughed, “inheritances, some minor intelligent business moves and all of it for what?” he laughed, “so my porters and butlers can live in luxury alongside me.”
Cleo laughed, “Some lucky butlers!”
At the top of the steps was a dark blue-skinned imp with orange eyes and red hair who bowed low to Mr. Trueman and his guests, “Welcome to Trueman Manor,” he looked up as he ended his bow, glancing between Sorjoy and Cleo, “may I take your jackets?”
Trueman shook his head, “no, that’s fine.”
Cleo grinned at him warmly, “afraid I don’t have a jacket.”
The imp nodded, his smile fading a bit when he saw Cleo.
“Oh, this is my head butler and personal assistant, Malik,” Mr. Trueman smiled to Cleo and Sorjoy, “a most capable man.”
“A capable Imp,” Sorjoy clarified.
“Indeed,” Mr. Trueman said, smiling, “Malik, if I may introduce the CEO of Fondsworth Inc, Erik Sorjoy, and his lovely assistant Ms. Cleopatra Cassandra Walters.”
Malik bowed again, “lovely to meet you both.”
Mr. Trueman grinned at Malik as he came up from his bow, looking Cleo over as Trueman walked by. “Mr. Sorjoy, would you come with me so we can discuss things in private? I believe Ms. Cleopatra and Malik can ready our tea and handle any additional logistics in the transportation of my new diamond.”
“Of course, sir,” Sorjoy said as he walked off.
When Trueman and Sorjoy were out of earshot, Malik turned to Cleo.
“It’s fairly insulting, so you know,” Malik said curtly.
Cleo smiled at him, “Yes, invite us in for tea and then order me to help you prepare it.” She grinned, “Don’t worry, I don’t mind.”
Malik seemed off-balance from the odd comment, but continued, “I meant the hair. Dying it white? And the wings?”
“Why would that be insulting?” Cleo asked.
“It mocks our savior,” Malik answered, leading Cleo towards the kitchen.
“Ipswella said something about that,” Cleo said in thought, “But I suppose I should let you know, it’s natural.”
Malik stopped, allowing Cleo to walk past him, “What?”
Cleo turned and smiled, “It’s not dye, it’s natural. I was just born with a form of albinism. No pigment in my wings,” she motioned to her purple eyes, “and a lack of pigment here too.”
Malik seemed stunned, but soon caught up to her, “well… my apologies then.”
“You’re forgiven,” Cleo chuckled as they made their way to a kitchen, “now where are the tea bags?”
While Cleo and Malik prepared tea, Trueman and Sorjoy walked towards Trueman’s study.
“It has come to my attention, Mr. Sorjoy, that the title you so desperately wish to claim has a requirement I had almost forgotten about,” Mr. Trueman explained.
Sorjoy narrowed his eyes, “Sir, I feel I’ve done everything that was asked of me.”
“Of course,” Mr. Trueman nodded, “but a Great Patriarch must be… well… a patriarch! And you are lacking in family.”
“So is Hoffman,” Sorjoy confirmed.
“It’s that very change that has given me pause,” Mr. Trueman said as they entered the study, “you see, young Sorjoy, Mr. Hoffman is getting married at a small private affair as we speak.”
What?!” Sorjoy shouted.
“Indeed,” Mr. Trueman said, “so I would encourage you to find a proper woman.”
“Like Cleopatra? Is that what you’re saying?” Sorjoy asked.
“Heavens, no,” Mr. Trueman laughed, “no-no, a good match. You’re not her speed, my boy.”
“Not,” Sorjoy said, confused, “her speed, sir?”
Trueman nodded, “You’re too similar, too driven. A man needs a wife who would support him, not try to outdo him.”
“I see,” Sorjoy frowned.
“As such I feel it important for you, Sorjoy, to establish some form of the relationship prior to you taking your seat,” Mr. Trueman announced.
“I’m rather busy, Mr. Trueman, as you well know,” Sorjoy explained.
“Exactly,” Mr. Trueman smiled, “so I would suggest you take some time off and spend it in the company of a woman.”
“What, do I crawl the bars?” Sorjoy mocked.
“On the contrary,” Mr. Trueman smiled, “you call a matchmaker,” he handed Sorjoy a card.
Sorjoy looked at the card. On it was a simple number, with one name underneath: “Mimi.”
submitted by Zithero to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]

The Hunter's Journey - ep 12

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James was running through a forest. Something was chasing him. He looked back, but saw nothing.
He kept running. He didn't know why he was running there was nothing there.
A howl pierced the night.
James awoke the next morning out of breath and his mind was racing, but he didn't know why. Everything around him seemed normal. After a couple of minutes of waiting he began to calm down again. Once he was sure nothing was going to happen, he quickly got to freshening himself up. He dropped all of his first clothes into the cleaning drawer so they would be cleaned, and then he jumped in the shower. He began to try to figure out why he was worked up.
'Did I have a nightmare?' he thought. 'I don't normally get this worked up though. Was I dreaming about home? I've been so caught up in the new world around me I haven't even stopped to think about home. What the hell even happened? Where am I really? How did I get here? How can I get back? Wh-'
He stopped himself. Getting this worried about something he had no answers to at the moment wasn't going to help. He instead decided to think about his thoughts from last night to stop himself getting worked up again.
‘So… if carbon is what does it, I could really do with testing it out. First, I’m going to need to convince Master Vunasa to let me use his enchanting font. He may be a bit more lenient if I explain that I want to experiment with something I believe he isn’t even aware of. Then, I’m going to need a number of different materials to test the enchantments on. As much variance of carbon content as possible, and try and break those categories he mentioned. High carbon rocks, low carbon organic materials, really put those categories to the test.
‘So sedimentary rocks, or fossils will do for rock, but low carbon organic would probably be bone. Sedimentary rocks with a high enough carbon content to make a difference are going to be hard to find around here, but fossils might be common amongst certain circles. Bone might be a bit hard to find, but I still have wolf teeth on me, so that should do. Now the only question there is how much carbon does each have? I know fossilised remains are one of the highest concentrations of carbon in rock, and bones have very little in comparison to the rest of the body, but will the fossil beat the bone?’
He tried to think of any other potential materials to try.
‘Quartz is mostly silicon, and probably isn’t too uncommon to get my hands on, so that will probably work as a low carbon crystal, but where am I going to get a high carbon crystal from? Diamonds are going to be too expensive. Maybe Master Vunasa has one around for the experiment. But is it even necessary? I already know it will likely perform much better than anything else I can bring. Normal scientific procedure would say yes, but I might not be able to get any. Wait, would graphite work the same as diamond? That’s pure carbon too, but would they have graphite around here? Either way, I should see what I can find around the market today.’
He wished he had an internet connection. 5 minutes of searching and he could find all of the answers he needed for what materials to look for. He finished off in the shower, dried off and put his now fresh clean clothes on and headed downstairs for a meal. The meal today was slightly different to the last few he’d had. This time it was a bit more fruity than before and had a few different types of berries, which made a nice change. He thanked Carthey for the meal and headed back upstairs to grab his guns, as well as both a birdshot and buckshot shell as well as a rifle round so he could better explain the weapons to Master Vunasa. He headed out of the Traveller’s Grove and towards the Kynling Well.
“Master Vunasa?” James called out when he entered.
“Ahh, James, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Master Vunasa responded, appearing from the opening where the enchanting font was kept.
“I remember you asking about my shotgun yesterday, so I thought I’d bring it over so you could have a look at it, see how it works.”
“Ah that’s very kind of you, new things always intrigue me. I can tell there's another reason you visited, you wish to ask me something?”
“I was thinking about enchanting yesterday, and the things you told me about the materials...”
“I may have a theory about why some materials work better than others.
“You do? It’s something a lot of people have looked into, but no-one has ever gotten a solid answer, just general trends and a few outliers. I’m interested to know what you’re thinking.
“I don’t want to start jumping to the conclusion and excite you before I’ve had a chance to test my theory out though.”
“And you wanted to ask me if you could use my font to test it out? You may, but only on two conditions. One, you need to get all the supplies for the experiment, including those that are needed to re-fill the font. And two, Lafalla and I get to view the experiment you conduct, and know the details of your theory, whether it works or not.”
“I think that’s fair. Would you be able to tell me what the font needs?”
“Of course, give me a moment, I’ll write a list.”
“Ah, um, I can’t read your language, is there something I could write it down on?”
“That might be a better idea, yes, one moment” Master Vunasa said as he looked around on a nearby desk, picking up a piece of paper and what appeared to be a pencil, and handed them to James. “Now, you are going to want to get me a bottle of pine sap, a pot of oak bark, a mana rose petal, a small pot of iron shavings and a small bottle of logole oil. They should all be fairly easy to find at the market, which should be open today. You might even find all of them in the same stand if you’re lucky.”
“Ah, that’s good, I was planning on doing a bit of shopping today. Quick question, what is this I’m writing with? James asked.
“That is a pencil.”
“I meant what is it made out of?”
“It is made from a rod of graphite wrapped in wood and tree bark. Do you not have them where you’re from?”
“I thought so, that’s great thanks. We do, but I wanted to double check what it was made from. Would I be able to buy some at the market?”
“I don’t see why not, they aren’t common, but they aren’t really rare either.”
“That's great, it’s going to help a lot.”
“I mean, you can borrow it for a short while if you need to.”
“I need one for the experiment.”
“Now you’ve piqued my interest even more.”
“Later, when I’m ready to perform it.”
“If you insist” Master Vunasa said with a defeated sigh. “Just so you’re aware, we won’t be able to perform the experiment today, but tomorrow should be good. Now then, how about you show me this shotgun of yours…”
James showed the shotgun and rifle to Master Vunasa, giving a similar explanation to the one he gave Lafalla. Master Vunasa did ask quite a few more questions throughout the explanation, but James was more than happy to explain how the different parts worked, such as how the primer on the ammunition interacted with the gunpowder, and why the shotgun ammunition needed a wad whilst the rifle ammunition didn’t.
Lafalla entered the hollow just as James was finishing up his explanation to the latest question. “... and because brass makes a good pressure seal, and then shrinks back down a bit after so it’s easier to take out after it's been used, it is better than say, steel, which was used at one point when it was easier to manufacture them like that, but not really any more.”
“Ah, James, I see that Master Vunasa has got you back for the explanation of magic yesterday then” she said.
“You make it sound like I was plotting some sort of revenge scheme” Master Vunasa replied. “I was merely curious, and as I thought, it looks like it operates like the cannon the Dwarves mentioned, though it seems significantly more advanced than what they were on about. And more practical. Now then, I won’t keep you any longer James, I’m sure you want to have a look at what’s in the market.”
“Of course, I will see you both tomorrow” James replied.
“Goodbye James” Lafalla responded.
James left the hollow, headed back to the Traveller’s Grove to drop off his guns, and began walking towards the Everwood Well, hoping to be able to see the market from there. Luckily he caught a glimpse of a stand on the way there and headed towards it, seeing more and more stands as he approached. He began to look around at all of the stands lining the sides of the street. While it was busy, it wasn’t exactly crowded so he was able to move around with a fair amount of ease. He did get a few odd looks from people that didn’t recognise him, but no-one seemed that concerned and left him more or less alone.
He began to browse the stands. There were maybe 50 stands in total, and over half of them seemed to be selling different kinds of food, but he decided to ignore those. He didn’t have any way to store or prepare the food, so he would be better off just buying meals from other places.
The first stand that did draw his attention however was one selling clothes. The clothes were similar to that of what the other Dryads wore, lots of earth tones accented with colourful flowers. He managed to fit into one of the larger shirts just fine, but there didn’t seem to be anything that would fit his legs. There was an abundance of four legged pieces, but only a couple designed for two legged people, and both sat tightly at his knees.
‘Must be for Dwarves’ he reasoned.
Thankfully, the stand owner offered to magically extend the piece so that it would fit him, and he ended up paying 50 copper for the clothes, and 1 silver for the re-size, but at least he had a change of clothes now.
The next stall to catch his eye was one that had a number of books piled up neatly. He headed over, hoping that there would be some supplies for his experiment tomorrow. He had to ask a bit about what kind of supplies they had, but eventually he was able to buy a small collection of pencils, a small stack of paper, a few paints and paintbrush, which actually turned out to be little more than coloured ink and bristled quills. This set him back 1 silver and 50 copper in total.
The next stand he visited was a reagents stand where he managed to pick up the pine sap, oak bark, mana rose petal, iron shavings, and logole oil, costing him 1 silver and 30 copper. ‘That’s lucky’ James thought. ‘Must be things that are commonly used for the fonts to have them available like that’ he reasoned. He also managed to pick up a liquid that Dryads used to wash their mouths there. Given that he hadn’t been able to properly clean his teeth since he got here, he decided to give it a go.
He began wandering around, but he was struggling to find anything rock or crystal related, either no-one sold it, or they just didn’t advertise that they did. He began to wish Lafalla was here with him, she’d probably know where to find some. In the end, he decided to take a break and put what he had bought away in his room at the Traveler’s Grove when he came back down the main room in the Traveller's Grove, he realised he’d already missed lunch and was getting quite hungry. He saw that Carthey was at the counter, so he approached her.
“Hello Carthey.” he said.
“Hi James, how can I help?” she replied
“I was hoping I could get something to eat, do you do mid day meals by any chance?”
“Of course we do! However it isn’t covered by your room, so it will cost 10 copper for a meal.”
“That’s no problem” he said, handing it over.
“Is there anything in particular you’d like?”
“What you served me this morning would be great thanks.”
“Of course, is there anything else I can help you with?”
James thought for a moment and then asked. “Bit of a different topic, but you don’t happen to know of anywhere around here that sells rocks, fossils, minerals, crystals, that sort of thing do you? I was hoping to find a couple of things in the market, but I didn’t notice anyone selling those kinds of things.”
“Ah, yes those things tend not to sell as well, so you probably have to ask around for them usually. The stall that normally sells enchanted items should have some of those kinds of things if you ask. They like to trade rarer items but they can be a bit expensive.”
“That’s great, thank you.”
“Ok, I’ll bring you your meal in just a moment.”
James took his meal when Carthey returned and sat down to eat it. He began to think over what he had managed to get so far, and what he left to get. Crystals, both quartz and diamond if possible, but he had a feeling diamond would be too much to ask for, a fossil, if they even had any around here, and anything else that caught his eye that might be useful. He finished off his meal, thanked Carthey, and headed back out. It took him a while, but he found the stand that was selling enchanted items like Carthey mentioned.
He approached the Dryad running the stall. “Hello there, I was told you might be able to help me with things that aren’t particularly common.” James said.
“I may be able to, what are you looking for?” the stall owner replied.
“A bit of a variety of things really crystals, fossils, gems, things like that.”
“I do have a small collection of crystals, though I must warn you, they aren’t cheap. We only get them from the Dwarves, and they tend not to sell them too often.”
“That’s understandable. I don’t know what your prices are, but I’m looking for quartz and diamond if you have either.”
“I do have both, the quartz will be between 1 and 10 silver depending on size and clarity, and the diamond will be around 20 gold.”
‘20 gold!’ he thought. “On second thoughts, maybe just the quartz then.” He doubted even any favour he could pull with the teeth would even come close to making that affordable.
“Alright, please wait here a moment while I get some samples” he said, as he disappeared into the building behind the stall.
A few minutes later, he returned carrying a cloth bundle, which he opened on the stall to reveal seven quartz crystals of varying sizes and clarity. James eyed up two that were similarly sized. One was almost perfectly clear, and the other had a bit of a milky colouration to it.
‘So one is more or less pure, and the other has an impurity trapped inside. Wait, isn’t the common impurity for milky quartz carbon dioxide?’ he thought to himself. ‘This could turn out to be a very good experiment.’ For a moment, he suddenly didn’t regret skipping the geology part of his lessons.
“I’ll buy these two please” James said.
“Of course, that will be five silver for the clear one and two silver for the cloudy one.”
James gave him seven silver and took his two pieces of quartz.
“Pleasure doing business” the Dryad said with a smile.
“Thank you very much” James replied. ‘I bet he’s overjoyed someone has finally bought some of his crystals. He’s probably had them for years with no luck selling them. That or I’ve overpaid for them. It’s just a shame I couldn’t get any fossils or afford any diamonds though’ he thought. ‘I’ve spent a lot of money today, I have 8 teeth, 11 silver and 270 copper left. I probably should be a little more careful.
James returned the quartz to his room with the other supplies, and decided to go for a stroll to see what was in the area. While there wasn’t too much of interest as such, he found that he really did enjoy the scenery and began to relax properly, and felt some of the tension leave his body he hadn’t realised he was holding.
‘Now this is a nice place to live, calm and peaceful, and quite cosy’ he thought. ‘Though it’s not quite my home. I haven’t really had much chance to think about home since I got here, I've been so caught up with magic. How do I get back home? Can I go back home? How did I even get here? And where even is here really? And is there a reason I’m here?’
The more he thought, the more he realised, he really didn’t have any good answers. He kept wandering around pondering what he should do. It was a nice place, and he was fairly sure he could settle here if he tried, but he wanted to go home, where he belonged, where everything was familiar. But he just didn’t know how.
‘Once I’m a bit more familiar with this place, I’m going to go searching for answers’ he decided.
He headed back to the Traveller’s Grove, had a meal, checked his supplies and retired for the night.
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submitted by The_Fallen_1 to HFY [link] [comments]

My friends and I are urban explorers who break into doomsday bunkers for the super wealthy. We snuck into one my father built, and we'd be lucky if any of us escape from it alive. [Part 4]

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
The service hatch opened to B4 – Manor. We arrived to find a tiny corridor containing electrical wires and a series of unmarked doors.
“Which one do you think leads to B5?” Joe asked.
I shrugged. Nicole picked one randomly, and we gathered around it with our weapons raised. Joe turned the handle and shoved it open.
Five uniformed men turned to face us with dumbfounded expressions. All had holstered weapons. We’d stumbled upon a security station.
“Wait -” I said. But it was too late. The men reached for their guns.
In the cacophony that followed, Nicole shot three of them dead. I got off one round with my pistol before Joe charged into my line of fire. He swung his fire ax deep into one of the men’s heads, pulled it out, and then used it to finish off the guard I’d wounded.
“Holy hell,” I said, looking over the carnage we’d created. Blood covered the walls and the screens of security monitors.
“Don’t act so shocked, Robyn,” said Nicole. “We saw what you did to the hunter upstairs. Now hand me your weapon.” She proceeded to fully load it using ammo she scavenged from the fallen guards and handed it back to me. Joe dropped his ax in favor of one of their firearms.
I looked over the feed on the monitors, which appeared to cover most of B4, though not the service corridor through which we had entered the room. The floor consisted primarily of large, well-furnished wooden walls lined by paintings – several of which portrayed my father posing like royalty. Multiple rooms housed densely-shelved collections of books. Men and women read from them, wrote, and appeared engaged in debate. The bedrooms for the residents here would have fit in in luxury hotels.
Hello Robyn, said the voice of my father’s primary clone over the intercom. You would do well to treat a city named after your own family with a bit more respect. I rolled me eyes.
No one in the video feed reacted, indicating that his voice projected only into the security station rather than the entire floor.
“Fuck off, dad,” I said. “I know what you did to our mother. You, and every one of the other stupid clones of you, are absolute fucking monsters.”
Do you feel that way about your brother, too? my dad responded. He is so similar to me, after all. He will be me soon, too.
“Mason isn’t like you,” I said. “He’ll never be like you.”
You sound awfully sure of yourself, sweetie. We’ll just have to see about that. Assuming you even make it to him.
“I’m feeling confident about our chances,” I said, looking over the blood-soaked room.
“Your little security station wasn’t much of an obstacle,” said Nicole.
My security personnel have had an unfortunately high mortality rate recently, conceded my dad’s clone. Though I do appreciate you exposing the hole in their monitoring system regarding the service access corridor. I'll have a camera added there before sending in a replacement team.
“Who are these guys living and working here anyway?” asked Joe.
A combination of the willing and the unwilling, said my father. I offered stock options to those who would agree to undergo a long-term test of this facility. Others volunteered out of interest alone. Others…were volunteered by me. I need to make sure this place is running as smoothly as possible when catastrophe falls. The only way to achieve that is with thorough testing.
“What’s the point of this floor?” I asked. “It looks like a bunch of people reading and writing. Let me guess: they’re looking into eugenics, or witchcraft.”
The manor houses the future intellectual elite, said my dad’s voice. It is a place for conducting research and cherishing the finest works of literature. But, my test run has not gone as smoothly as I’d hoped. I started with a broad group of thinkers – all people who supported the concept of a self-sustaining city, but with different ideas about how to achieve that. I thought there’d be strength in this measured diversity of thought, but I was wrong.
You’d be amazed just how quickly people’s ideologies can change. They began to demand that I implement better conditions for the laborers – back when the laborers were humans. They even encouraged the workers to organize. I can’t have that down here, now can I?
So, continued my dad, one by one, I had the so-called intellectuals sent down to B5 for doctor’s appointments. When they came back, their minds were…a bit more in-line with a superior set of ideals. They began to make progress again. If only I had invented the procedure years earlier, I could have similarly altered your mother’s psyche. She could have been of use, and I wouldn’t have needed to discard her.
I asked Joe for his ax and proceeded to strike the intercom speaker with it. *Now now, Robyn, don’t lose your temp-” The speaker sputtered and fell to the floor. The voice of my father’s primary clone cut out. “I’ve had enough of this shit,” I said.
A knock sounded on the door – not the one we’d entered, but one that seemed like a main entrance. I checked the monitor. A chubby, formally-dressed woman in a jacket and dress pants waited at the door. She looked unimposing, but we still had our guns drawn when we opened up.
“Wh-who are you? What are you doing here?” she stuttered.
“You tell us first,” said Nicole.
The woman gave her name as Georgia and explained she was waiting for a security escort to take her down to B5, citing that B4 had lost communications with it.
“How about you lead us there,” said Joe, “And we don’t kill you in return?”
She nodded anxiously.
Joe walked directly behind her, keeping his gun wedged into her back as we went. Nicole and I selected the jackets the guards had been wearing that had the fewest holes and bloodstains and partially covered our weapons with them as Georgia navigated through B4.
The denizens of the floor largely ignored us, rarely giving us more than a glance as they continued with their studies. There was something about their total focus on their work and the forceful way they carried themselves that resonated with me as familiar.
Finally, we stuffed into a small room that contained a hatch that led down to B5. “Will you let me go now like you said?” pleaded Georgia. She shook nervously, and I felt momentary sympathy for her. Could she be someone ‘volunteered’ by my father to live here?
“I’ll go down and make sure it works,” said Joe. “If it does, we’ll leave you tied up here.”
“You’ll need my keycard to access B5,” said Georgia. “Can I reach for it without one of you shooting me?”
“Don’t bother,” I said, tossing my card to Joe.
I continued to watch our prisoner as Joe descended. This lady seemed harmless, but I kept my gun on her all the same. Nicole threw off her jacket now that we were out of sight of the others and got down on her knees to view Joe’s progress.
“Is it really necessary to point that thing at me?” asked Georgia. “I’ve been a prisoner here for so long. All I want to do is leave. I can tell that’s what you want, too.”
“After what we’ve been through today, we’re not taking chances,” I said. “Don’t worry. This will all be over soon.”
“I can tell you’ve been through hell,” said Georgia. “If I were in your place, I’m sure I’d act the same way.” She took a seat against the wall.
“It works!” called Joe. “But something’s terribly wrong here.”
“What is it?” asked Nicole, peaking her head into the shaft to get a better look.
“Oh god!” cried Joe. “The Chindra, they’ve-” He screamed horribly.
“Joe!” I called, to no response. “We have to get down to him.”
Nicole nodded and got to her feet, only to immediately shriek in pain.
My concern for Joe had caused me to let my guard down. Georgia had used this moment to pull two syringes of yellow liquid out of her jacket and jam them into Nicole’s exposed shoulder blades. Nicole stumbled and collapsed against the wall.
Georgia dropped the syringes and drew a long knife. I leapt to the side, narrowly avoiding her as she charged at me with it. She grabbed at my gun, and my attempts to pull it back from her resulted in it falling out of my hand and down the open shaft to B5.
The situation had changed dramatically. Only a moment ago, my two friends had provided me some level of protection. Now, I was unarmed and fighting for survival, and I could only hope Joe and Nicole were still alive.
“How many people is it now who have died or who are about to die because of you?” said Georgia, holding the knife out in front of her. “Your dad was right about you. Your problem is that you’re always several steps behind those who are more intelligent. I figured Joe would meet with trouble down there. Three of the independent Chindras are on the loose wreaking havoc on B5 as we speak. There’s be a team of hunters down there to stop them, but you and your friends took that option off the table. It’ll take weeks before we can clone a new team.”
I realized where I’d already seen the mannerisms of the ‘intellectuals’ on B4. Of course, my dad wasn’t going to allow ‘intellectuals’ to work independently; to him, the only acceptable outcome is for everyone on this floor to think the same way that he thinks.
“Yes, you’re starting to understand,” said Georgia, reading my face. She cackled. “I find it so amusing, seeing you work things out when it’s already too late. We used our studies of the Chindra hivemind to make a few neurological alterations to me and the others living here. To get them to think similarly; to follow the path your father laid out for them and build upon his work. My thoughts used to be blurry; now I see the way forward with immense clarity.”
“What did you do to Nicole?” I asked.
“When I heard the commotion in the security station, I nabbed the closest weapons I could find that I could keep hidden on me,” said Georgia. “This knife, and two sedatives. One is enough to knock a grown man unconscious. Two? Probably deadly without medical treatment. But who knows. Different people react in different ways. Maybe your friend will live through the day. Or maybe she’s already dead.”
“I think not,” said Nicole. She shoved Georgia forward, causing Georgia to stumble into the shaft. Georgia’s head slammed violently into several steps of the ladder as she toppled to the floor.
Nicole coughed and vomited. I yanked the syringes out of her back. They were empty; Georgia had injected their entire contents into Nicole.
“Can you make it down the ladder?” I asked. It pained me to see the strongest of us so miserable and sickly.
She nodded. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep going. But we have to get Isha.”
I helped her through the painful process of descending down the ladder. We left her shotgun behind and proceeded with only my pistol, which I retrieved from the floor and stuck into my backpack.
Nicole wrapped her arm around my shoulder as we slowly hobbled through the entrance to B5.
“No,” sighed Nicole. “No no no.” Joe’s corpse lay on the floor in tatters as one of the Chindra ate from it. Its circular form rotated as each of its heads alternated taking bites from his flesh.
“Fuckin kill it,” muttered Nicole. It stopped chewing, took a look at us, and ran away before I could fish out my firearm. As it fled, it camouflaged and disappeared into the corridor ahead of us. “Help me go after it!” said Nicole.
“No, we have to focus on our goal,” I said. “Which isn’t revenge, but getting out of here with Isha and Mason as quickly as possible. If we do that, there’s a chance we can get to a hospital and save you.”
Nicole reluctantly acquiesced. I picked up Mason’s access card from Joe’s backpack as we hobbled through a long corridor. The flickering lights illuminated blood spatter and human bones.
We arrived at a sign pointing to the left for ‘Medical’ and to the right for ‘Reproduction’. So that’s what it meant by “Med/Rep”. We went to the right.
“Joe and Cheyenne…” mumbled Nicole. Her balance became increasingly worse as the sedative in her took on greater effect. It became exhausting to help her walk, but I refused to leave her behind. “What the fuck went wrong with your father? How could he do this to us?”
“I remember when mom died,” I said. “I was in the hospital waiting room with dad and Mason several hours north of town, near where she’d been hurt – near here, in fact. I think Mason was six then. When the doctor told us there was nothing they could do, Dad gave Mason a few words of sympathy and ran off for a business call. Mason asked me all sorts of questions about life and death and it took all my strength to stop myself from crying as I answered them. I was eleven, and I had to take on a parent’s responsibilities. After a while, I took Mason by the hand and led him outside to a little ice cream store down the street. That cheered him up a bit. When we got back to the hospital, dad had already gone home. He’d forgotten about the two of us completely.”
“Fucking hell,” said Nicole.
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s always been a complete sociopath. I think he thinks that he loves Mason. But I know that he really doesn’t.”
“He only loves this place, and that’s because it’s built in his own image,” said Nicole. “You and me had our own fantasy land once, remember? Our own headquarters to preside over? But we let it go and grew up.”
“‘Grew up’ is putting it generously,” I said.
“But still,” said Nicole. “It’s an odd thing to say, given the horrors we’ve witnessed, but there’s also something so childish about all this. Of course this place was never going to work, no matter how many equations your dad produced showing the opposite.”
I didn’t respond. Nicole needed to apply all her energy just to keep walking with my support.
We arrived at the door marked “Reproduction”. The room inside was humid and filled with steam emitted by a collapsed pipe. I realized we were standing in a scanning station like the one that had killed Cheyenne, but it had been torn apart such that many of the electronic components were out-of-place and shined their red beams onto the ceiling or the upper walls.
A distorted recording of my dad’s voice played on a damaged speaker system. It slowed and deepened his normally-smooth voice. The sound cut off irregularly.
Wel-Wel-Welcome to a lifetime of purpose and contribution. If you are hearing this, our scans have found you healthy and your ----- fertile, which makes you an ideal candidate for ------------- controlled procreation. Your participation is mandatory. But, do not worry. Our medical staff -------------- happily sedated throughout the process, and, upon successful childbirth, you will ---------------- two hours of freedom in the arboretum on B1, redeemable at any time approved by your doctor.
Nicole reached her hand into my backpack and withdrew something heavy from it.
Several options ---------------- impregnation are available. Our medical staff will happily discuss each of them with you. When you cease ----------------- contribute to the continuation of our people, you will also be able to choose between ------------------ efficient methods of liquidation. Now, relax, and-
Sparks flew off the wall as Nicole emptied my firearm into several speakers and an audio control system. She succeeded in cutting off the recording.
“Nicole, that was all the ammo we had!” I stammered.
She nodded vacantly, looking even sicker than before. She was barely conscious. “I’m sorry. I’m not thinking straight. Please, help me find Isha.”
We marched onwards even as flickering lights and the heavy mist obscured our vision. I heard something quietly moving out of our sight, likely Chindra attuned to our presence by the sound of the gunfire, as I guided Nicole over small piles of human bones and tattered clothing.
We reached a concrete wall that attached to a mounted fire extinguisher. It also contained a sign with arrows pointing in different directions to “Ladder to B6” and “Patients”. I directed Nicole to lean against it so that I could rest my aching shoulder. She slid to the ground and lay crouched against the wall.
As I recovered, a slithering sound rapidly approached us. I tore the fire extinguisher from the wall. All at once, a Chindra, its outer layer a misty gray, leapt out of the fog.
I swung the heavy extinguisher with all my might, making direct contact and sending it back into the mist. I heard it retreating, but felt little relief. It would be back.
I pulled Nicole up and hurriedly led her in the direction of “Patients”. We arrived at a series of glass rooms. Most contained a vacant hospital bed and medical equipment. The blood and guts of nurses and patients torn apart by the rogue Chindra dripped from the walls and ceiling of several of the rooms.
Finally, we arrived at one that, unlike the others, was sealed shut. A doctor watched us from inside. In the bed behind her was Isha, who was attached to an IV. She was dressed in a hospital gown and appeared semi-conscious.
“Don’t open the door!” said the doctor. “We’re only alive because those things can’t get through the reinforced glass. Who the hell are you? Are you the hunters sent to fight them?” She looked skeptically over our miserable selves.
I needed to act. I let Nicole down against the wall and removed her knife from her backpack. Ignoring the doctor’s pleadings, I hit a button that caused the glass door to slide open.
“What are you doing, you idiot?” said the doctor. “You’re going to get me and the patient killed!”
I charged and held the knife against the doctor’s throat. “Has the operation begun on her?” I said. “Answer me, or I’ll fucking kill you.”
Isha looked at me blankly through half open eyes. She started to make a half-smile, like she recognized me. Her arm wound was thoroughly bandaged.
“No, it hasn’t,” said the doctor, glancing down at my blade. I realized that if I’d made the same threat before arriving at Abernathy City, my target wouldn’t have believed that I’d go through with it. But, now, this doctor correctly realized that I’d slice into her neck without hesitation if she didn’t tell me what I wanted to know. I’d enjoy doing it, too, given what this doctor did here. “She was scheduled for artificial insemination later today. You should be grateful. We have treated her arm wound. It’s practically as good as new.”
“We’re taking her away,” I said. “Get her up and off whatever you’ve got running through her. And hurry.”
I maintained watch as the doctor slowly removed the IV from Isha and helped her to her feet. I needed to do a better job than I had with Georgia.
Isha staggered forward with the doctor’s help. Her composure started to return. She curiously felt her hospital gown and grew anxious as she soaked in her surroundings. “Robyn? You came for me.” She identified Nicole’s collapsed form through the glass and stumbled out to her.
Nicole remained conscious, but only barely. Isha cradled Nicole’s head and gripped her hand as they whispered to each other. As they reunited, I had the doctor stuff Isha’s clothes and other belongings from a drawer where they’d been left into my backpack.
I quickly explained to Isha what she’d missed, as well as how quickly we needed to move if we wanted to have any chance at saving Nicole’s life. “You,” I said to the doctor. “Can you, or the doctors in the medical wing, do anything to help Nicole?”
But it was too late. While I was talking with Isha, the doctor had snuck into one of the other glass rooms we’d passed that still had an open door. She promptly sealed it shut. I frantically hit at the outer button to open it but, unlike before, the door remained closed.
“Before entering, I turned off the outside controls,” she said. “You can override it, if you can guess the twelve-digit passcode. I’m staying here until this is over. And, to answer your questions, I could have helped her. In fact, I may have been her only chance; the rogue Chindra have likely annihilated the rest of the medical staff.”
I noticed that, contrary to my expectations, Isha had a vengeful smile. I looked inside the glass chamber and realized why. On the wall behind the doctor, the camouflage of a hidden Chindra started to change colors into its natural shade.
Isha and I held Nicole between us as we exited the hallway of horrors while the doctor’s screams echoed behind us.
We followed the sign to the hatch to B6, which I used Mason’s card to open. Nicole had passed out by this point, though she was still breathing and maintained a steady pulse. “We’ll have to carry her down,” I told Isha. “I’ll go first, and you can lower her to me.” When I was halfway down, Isha frantically called for the knife, which I tossed up to her.
When I climbed back up, I found Isha stabbing maniacally at one of the Chindra. It bled all over the floor as it tried to crawl away. Isha pulled it back and continued her onslaught until it stopped moving. From the dent in its side, I figured it was the same one I had injured with the extinguisher.
“It tried to pull away Nicole,” said Isha, wiping away the creature’s blood from her face.
We felt incredible relief when the door to B5 sealed shut above us; the Chindra didn’t seem to have made it down to B6. My iPad buzzed, and I quickly typed up this last summary in a tiny room that connects with the hatch while Isha changed back into her clothes.
I explained to Isha an idea I’d had: we could find one of my dad’s clone’s bodies on B3, cut off its hand, and use it to open the hatch to escape. That way, we could at least bring Nicole to a hospital.
But Isha wasn’t interested in leaving without Mason after I fought so hard to get to her. “Even if I was willing to do that,” she said, “we’d have to carry Nicole so far, and survive so many obstacles. Our best bet is to get to Mason and take the elevator back up.” I was relieved at her decision. I want my brother back more than anything.
This may be the final occasion that I write up one of these summaries. Have you been bluffing about the air system all along, dad's 'primary' clone? You don’t seem to actually have much control over this facility. But, still, I’ll indulge you this one last time. I have no doubt that our next exchange will be in person.
submitted by PeaceSim to nosleep [link] [comments]

JoJo's Bizarre OC Tournament #5 - Round 2 Match 10 - Bert and Emilie "Dread" Delacroix vs John "Jack" Aurel

The results are in for Match 8.
Agnes and Arpeggi, in their shrunken states, continued to fight, surrounded by the rising flames of their lilliputian tower, fists flying and Stand blows being taken one after the other.
“You… Callous mother fucker!” Arpeggi cursed, Agnes feeling the singe of a heat blast both from behind and from launched wood. “We’re not aiming for a massacre!”
“You’re not,” Agnes spat out, then, pulling a tab on the table, a massive geyser erupting and launching his so-called ally away, “I don’t give a fuck about this place, and we’re in a Stand battle… And it’s all worthless, greedy scumbags watching! Let the fire spread! Let this place hit the ground so they see what someone with style can do!”
“You heard it here, folks! Agnes talked you all down… C’mon, where’s your passion! Don’t run out and away, c’mon! And here I thought you cared y’had money ridin’ on this…”
Conqueror Worm’s laughs reverberated as Glitch and William found themselves cooled by Ocean Eyes’ nectar, which found itself dissolving quickly but, for the moment, a functional barrier for the injured fighters, watching and listening to what happened.
“Th… They’re fighting each other up there…” William remarked, physically looking as though he was straining to force Ocean Eyes not to hurry up there and tear them a new one. “Glitch, we don’t have time to keep the flames at bay and call up another KST, and if I let Ocean Eyes up there it’ll eviscerate them, and-”
“What’s this? The kid is holdin’ back, afraid of his own Stand! Hey, kid, don’t hate this part of yourself! Ocean Eyes, it ain’t your enemy, that’s a part of you, what makes you special, so don’t be at odds with it! Embrace what it says, because it’s what YOU’RE sayin’!”
William was speechless, there, but his companion was less inactive in that time. Tiger “Glitch” Ricky simply hissed, then, her and her Stand hopping up out of the flames in an effort to brutally, mercilessly pounce upon the self-styled villain and the ally he had come to blows with. If they moved fast, they could bite through that shitty little twink’s neck right now!
Arpeggi grit his teeth, scrambling to find his footing as he witnessed the pouncing cat-stand, finding it hard to breathe among all the burning rubble, fading fast then.
Is… Is this how it ends..? Crushed and mangled as some lowlife’s burnt-up game piece..?
“And it looks like Glitch is about to take it! Shout-outs to Tigran, the only real one here, watchin’ through the fire and the flames!”
“Heh… This is just a bit of a sweat,” Tigran Sins answered, stifling a cough, “I’ll see all seven of these bastards run through games until they’re all-”
Arpeggi didn’t hear what was said next, only hearing his own defiant heartbeat. If he didn’t act fast, Agnes would die… Good riddance, right? But… Ugh, no, even scum like him, they don’t deserve…
He clutched at NEXT LEVEL until his fingers bled, and Glitch and William, both looking at him past their Stands waiting to attack, made curious sounds as yet more crumbled away.
And then, there was white. An overwhelming cascade of baking soda burst from NEXT LEVEL, smothering the flames rapidly as an obscured form zipped up the tower again, grabbing Agnes and hurrying away from the thrown-off Glitch.
“You… Why did you…” Agnes rubbed baking soda out of his eyes, coughing and looking at the form of Arpeggi in this new Stand. “Motherfucker…”
“I have responsibility over even a scumbag like you… You tailed me here, and I’m not gonna let you die and escape responsibility easy.” He turned, then, to William and Glitch, his new form revealed. “Now, actually help me, follow my lead, and I’ll kick your ass later. We need to survive this-”
All four of the fighters, then, felt themselves grow rapidly, their combined weight so close together crushing the table they were on, much as a nearby tabletop wargame that had been setup found itself buckling under the weight of Metra, Oh No, the Black Angel, and their motorcycle.
“Welp,” Worm said with a bemused laugh, holding up the slumped body of Tigran. “Your fire couldn’t hurt him, but smoke inhalation sure could! I guess that means…”
“The winner is FIRE, with a score of 65!”
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Graveyard Shift 12-17
Quality Graveyard Shift 19-20 Reasoning
JoJolity BADD GUYS 24-18 Reasoning
Conduct Tie 10-10
With no more reason to fight, it got really awkward and everyone just sort of ran out of Heartache Casino. William Eyelash, recalling his stand and lost in thoughts, was the last to leave, joining the others in leaping single-file out a window into a nearby alley.
There, though everyone else seemed tensely uninvolved, the Black Angel’s motorcycle revved, and she stared down Worm as he safely stowed Tigran inside his Stand-body, leaning on his golden sword.
“There’s still something I need, Jones… I’ll run you down to get it if it means saving the city.”
Worm laughed, gesturing with his sword. “This thing? You’re huntin’ me down for this… Ah! I see! You’re tryin’ to do that.” Callously, he tossed it, so suddenly they fumbled with it in hand. “Here ya go, then! I don’t much want what Jack Aurel’s cookin’ up either!”
The Angel, worn and exhausted, stammered. “I… You just… But…”
“Lookin’ forward to killin’ me, huh? Get in line, kid… Or waste your time right now! See, nobody here is botherin’, they can all read that it’d be a waste when I’m in such good health! City’s countin’ on you, yeah, and you won’t get many opportunities for bein’ called a hero as an adult. Make it count!”
Then, before anyone could say more, he darted through a nearby wall, waving William and the rest off with a, “Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming and be sure it will lead us aright!”

“Asshole.” The Angel turned away, strapping the sword to their back and driving away. “Thank you, all of you. I’ll take this from here… Get yourselves help.”
There was silence as they drove into the sky, scarf billowing before them, and then Agnes started cackling. “You’re all fucking morons… If I didn’t burn that place down, we wouldn’t have gotten away, and some wannabe with no style would be going down as Los Fortuna’s worst villain! Fucking bow and grovel, Jack Aurel’s grave is gonna say ‘spat on by Agnes!’”
Nobody had the energy to dignify that with a response.
An anticlimax is leading into a super-climax, and meanwhile, an ant-loving little boy and an aid worker are racing through their dreamscapes, with a day left to vote there.
What is, as of the 1990s, ‘Capital Island,’ was the epicenter of Los Fortuna’s founding several hundred years ago, in the midst of a bloody Stand User conflict, many militias clashing for superiority, in the 1680s, starting with the death of the era’s own Andrew Tiffany, the missionary William Mandolin, and towards its end, knocking people into their senses through the awakening of exactly what he had tried to warn them of.
A grand T-Rex by the name of Megalomania had survived, dormant, underneath the land through the might of its Stand, coated in a goldlike substance, and awoken in a deep rage by the conflict of the locals. Megalomania was met in battle by a man out of place named Aaron Bruno, ‘Sir Aurel’ to most, and Memory Management, and when slain, crumbled where it stood into a pile of bones, feet firm in the ground.
Los Fortuna’s natural history museum was built around this monster’s remains, and Sir Aurel would turn its golden coat into a ceremonial weapon. The power these symbols were imbued with, even with their old purposes lost, were of great importance to the city’s stability.
Outside Los Fortuna’s Natural History Museum, Early Evening
In the blink of an eye, the attention of everyone within Los Fortuna had been turned to the natural history museum. That made sense, of course - considering the looming dark clouds containing the ghosts of the dead within them, the scuffles of the stand users outside of the building, and the vague knowledge that a ritual with the purpose of destroying fate itself was currently being performed within it, it would be out of the ordinary for people to not be paying it any attention. Even those who weren’t stand users that were up to date with the situation were drawn to it by the unusual level of activity surrounding it, from emergency services and VALKYRIE forces alike.
And then there was Bert. They were invested in the whole situation, of course - keeping up with the latest reality-breaking ancient rituals was the least that a wannabe god like them could do. Their status as an observer did raise a few eyebrows - they’d had to shake off both emergency service workers and VALKYRIE forces, who’d both taken the time to try and encourage Bert to leave the area for their own safety, clearly underestimating Bert’s own prowess.
Within the chaos, one could be excused for not failing to notice the drones Bert had been sending around to overhear and oversee it all. First, they paid attention to the chief of security at VALKYRIE, Ugo McBasie, who seemed to be getting interviewed by someone from the Fortuna Hermod, an ODIN-owned news publication (not their usual guy at scenes like this… Wonder what happened to him). Bert had heard that the man was a violent and irresponsible meathead who’d caused plenty of trouble in the past, but he seemed to be keeping a thin veil of professionalism for now. However, Bert couldn’t help but notice a young man in a blue aviator cap standing a few meters behind the reporter and staring daggers at him, perhaps keeping him in check somehow, occasionally piping in for comment about how it was all they could do to surround the place and wait for an opening if they didn’t want a meat grinder on their hands.
Meanwhile, Los Fortuna’s own city council chairman, Raymond Delwin Shimizu was discussing something of note with someone else, who seemed to have just finished an interview of his own. Bert didn’t recognize him, but the interviewer had called him “Chief Prosecutor Cavallo”, and she seemed as if she knew what she was talking about, so Bert opted to believe her. The interviewer, Jillian Something-or-other, had been running all over the scene, trying to get interviews alongside her oversized cameraman Bert recognized as having been that really huge cop who used to hang around Aurelio a lot of the time not successfully doing his job. Not worth Bert’s time.
Cavallo scratched his head in frustration. “Chairman, please tell me that you’ve made progress of some kind here...”
Ray shook his head. “Not much. That stand user that’s working alongside Jack Aurel, Akiko Mizushima, is making it impossible to get in - anyone we do send in is as good as gone. We haven’t even been able to get Admiral Pineapples out. Judging by your demeanor, I assume that the board hasn’t made much progress either.”
“No, doesn’t seem like it.” Cavallo let out a long sigh. “Every day, it’s just more and more work… Now we’re stuck having to deal with this. If nothing’s done, the board’s thinking it might very well cause a disaster unmatched by… Well, anything but the earthquake from thirty years ago. Something like this, bending the rules of the city, and breaking free from it… Los Fortuna’s probably not going to let that slide easily.” He shook his head. “Where the hell is the mayor through all this? Watching anime at home or something, probably.”
Ray remained silent for a bit, thinking to himself. “Well, we’ve got emergency services ready to act for now, and we’re working on evacuating any susceptible areas, but it only works so much.” Before Cavallo could respond, another reporter came up to Raymond, ready with a batch of questions for him. “Well, Cavallo, our work isn’t done yet, so let’s get to it. Saving as many people as possible here should be our utmost priority.” And with that, the two men parted ways for the time being.
Having listened enough, Bert began thinking to themselves. This was a tricky situation - they clearly couldn’t get in as is, but they certainly wanted to. Learning more about the situation at hand would improve their knowledge of the mechanisms holding Los Fortuna together, and gaining control over the ritual somehow would certainly be a feat befitting of a god such as them.
Bert stood in front of the museum entrance, taking another look at the chaos in front of them and continuing to think about the next step they’d take. So many different possibilities, so little time. They thought, and thought, and then one of their drones’ eyes glanced upon someone familiar - a blue haired, red eyed woman wearing a mask, trying to blend in and clearly resenting it, skulking around the perimeter of the area as though she, too, wished to enter.
Yet despite her efforts, Bert recognized her.
“Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix!” They declared it loudly, thoughtlessly so, approaching her with a hand raised. “Are you perhaps looking to find a crevasse through which to enter that place as well? It’s quite fortified, isn’t it?”
“Hm?” She wasn’t bothered by the way Bert drew attention to her, still wearing her same very extra outfit under the also quite extra hooded dark robe she was using to blend in. “Ah, pardon me dearly for having failed to notice you… You are Bert, from that incident where we fought on equal terms, yes?”
“I am that same Bert, Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix, yes. Though I doubt I could be much mistaken for others…”
“We are both quite conspicuous individuals, yes,” Dread said, taking the conversation into a nearby alley before VALKYRIE goons on the scene could prove it was her, “but no, I’m not terribly nonplussed about my abilities to infiltrate that place… Simply, I am attempting to assess the probability by which my approach itself, through the barricades erected, might occur. If your intentions happen to be helping me sneak through, then it is simply not necessary on any fronts… I have formulated a plan now.”
Dread, now appearing alone, walked through that alley curiously, looking around her and beginning to see her opportunity of approach - there appeared to be a side door there, at which a certain fish-themed hero was sitting outside, looking, Dread knew from their DMs, at funny images of her wife atop the T-Rex skull in the museum.
Yes, certainly, this would be-
“Whoa, hey, it’s you!”
Damnable. Had she been spotted, or..?
No, no, wait. The one speaking, a man also in this alleyway who smelled of cannabis, holding what looked like a GAP bag, was speaking to someone on the opposite side of it, disembarking from a sportbike and handing it to the rider, who was wearing a very ornate-looking golden sword which Dread had sworn she’d seen somewhere before.
“Thanks,” the Black Angel told this young man, accepting the bag and producing its contents - a Roman helmet and black bird-looking tokusatsu cosplay? “Green couldn’t make it himself, huh?”
“I made it,” the guy said, pointing proudly to himself, before blinking. “Oh, you mean like… Showing up. Yeah, no, there was a thing with a mammoth coming down from the mountains, he’s helping East deal with that. Feel like lighting up before you go in? It’ll take the edge off..!”
The rider removed their helmet, coincidentally perfectly timed for the strawberry-blonde with pale blue eyes to stare him down incredulously. “About a million people live on this island, Weedboy. Now is not the time…” The Angel ducked into the nearby building to change, finishing, “shit, yeah, it looks just like the Flying Men do… uh. you should get out of here now.”
“You kidding?” He asked. “I don’t wanna bow out right before it gets good! That’s, like, saying I think you can’t do it!”
Well, these two appeared distracted, so Dread would continue along her way, walking right past them and towards the blockade, towards where Jo was sitting casually, only to be interrupted by-
“Holy shit, it really is her! Stop right there, Dread!”
Oh boy, here we go. This had been happening more lately, since a somewhat frustrating individual went and opened his big mouth about her dangers on Bifrost. Turned out that the head of VALKYRIE was literally in the server, so now she had a bounty on her head after a modicum of investigation into her after that public statement, and her casual admittance thereof!
Two armored guards were pointing guns at her as she stood there, unfazed.
“Don’t come any closer!” One of them, an older woman, said, turning to her younger partner and quickly telling him, “if she approaches, open fire. She’ll eat you alive if not!”
“This again, are you being serious?” Dread was less than pleased. “I am evil, and a murderer, unrepentantly so, yes, but I do not eat people. This rumor is being so blown out of proportion that I find it quite tiresome.”
“F-fuck off and die!” The younger moved to fire his weapon, only to realize there was a knife through him, catching the gun by the trigger after running from his shoulderblade to his fingertip.
Dread didn’t need the help, but like a true friend, Kimijo Kaneko offered it anyway
“Wh-what the-” The older woman cursed as her partner was cut open and dropped. “Fucking useless moron! HEY, EVERYONE, KANEKO BROKE RANK AND DREAD IS HERE TO! NOW’S OUR CHANCE TO-”
The distraction, then, was all it took for Dread to take her first kill of the day. Of course it was fine. She read the news, she knew how these VALKYRIE people were literally at war with poor people.
“Sh-shit, those people just died! More VALKYRIE corpses, and Jo again..!” The stoner declared in the background, and the Black Angel, now dressed exactly like the birdmen many had seen before, paused in her efforts to run past the opening created by Jo breaking formation.
Nobody could hear it or see her lips move, but she apologized under her breath, clenching her fist, but the disguise had worked. 32 Footsteps, the primary guard which would warp away anyone who tried to enter, apparently had instructions to allow in anybody dressed like this, yet none of the intended recipients of this deliberate loophole made their way in.
“Dread, hello, friend!” Jo exclaimed in high spirits, sheathing her knife, but still speaking quietly as she hurried back into place, “good to see you!”
“Yes, it is most certainly fortuitous for us to encounter one another…” Dread agreed, walking and talking with her as the pair were watched in horror. “By any chance, may I come into this museum? I am absolutely curiously intrigued by what is going on within here…”
A VALKYRIE sniper was taking aim at Dread, then, as she entered, muttering under her breath, “got a shot lined up… I can take her out, and Jo a second later! Two bastards out of the way, at least, and-”
“Wait,” the youth in a blue aviator hat and goggles, speaking as VALKYRIE’s tactician, instructed, “hold your fire.”
“Sir, she just made one of our senior officers fall into rotten pieces! She’s chatting it up with this fish-bitch like it’s nothing!”
“I know, and I’m appalled too, but I think…” The Blue Kid paused, contemplatively. “No, I know it. Dread is here to defeat John Aurel, just like the Black Angel.”
Spinning and pivoting through the air, “Lou” Reed, dressed like a dark, sixth Flying Man, landed atop the skull of the t-rex, which had apparently been adorned in a cute little pirate hat. It made for a fine vantage point, then, to look all over the halls of the Natural History museum, noting one, two, three, four spots, grotesque and morbid statues Remix had apparently erected of ghostly abominations.
She was exhausted, injured from the three-way skirmish she, Metra, and Oh No had been forced to undergo and riding like hell to get here, but she had made it this far, and others had managed to get in too. She couldn’t choke now.
Seven minutes… I’ll just have to destroy those, and be back here in seven minutes. Easy enough… I don’t think I’ve been-
“Green, Orange, and Purple… I don’t believe a ‘Flying Man Black’ was ever mentioned, nor that any of the brothers were into swords.”
Shit. That voice, too… Lou turned around, then, seeing someone standing behind her, a man with long dark hair, brandishing a hammer and looking up at her.
John “Jack” Aurel.
“Even if you are what you appear to be and not in disguise, you should realize that you aren’t welcome here. There’s nothing to be done in this museum worth dying for, and no way to accomplish any more foolish goal if I were to raise attention now. Care to waste some of the time you have left and explain?”
Of course this would happen. Lou removed her faux-beak, helmet, and goggles, staring down at him as her hair billowed in the ceiling fans’ wind. “Jack… I’ve come here to put a stop to this.”
“You’re that kid who’s always running around, huh?” Jack frowned, twirling his hammer. “I hear what you talk about through the grapevine… About how we’re all victims of fate, forced against each other by Gravity. That Stand Users are always going to be molded by this… You understand it too. You understand that people like us prey upon the weak, that it’s in our natures and our place in the world. I want to remove myself from that… Remove these people from that, and atone for what I’ve done.”
“By killing even more people! There’s no way they’ll get everyone away from your blast radius, and you haven’t even given them the chance to!” Lou protested. “It doesn’t have to be this way… Don’t say this is how it has to be! We can save this place, free everyone from gravity, without barreling towards its destruction! I don’t want to kill you, Jack. I want you to stop this crazy, self-indulgent crap and help me do something real!”
“You think everyone deserves this? That Stand Users will simply reform without this? The cycle has started, and it will push to the end even if the wave guiding it fades away completely… Bastards, the lot of us, and I don’t intend to run from what I’ve done. I’ll give you one chance to run away, kid… the worst I can call you is naive.”
Lou drew the golden blade, seeing Jack wince as he clearly recognized its significance, all as her Stand appeared behind her. “We both know I can’t do that, even if I can barely keep my balance up here. And hey, maybe I will die here… Maybe I am fated not to see this through. But then, someone is gonna finish this for me! Your security is already compromised!”
“Fascinating… And you are utterly convinced that, should it work, those he’s slain to commence this ritual to begin with will return outside the city?”
“Remix is full of himself,” Jo said, nodding quietly, “but he and Jack, they researched a lot… Akiko and I, for helping this finish, we can finally go home! Be done with the bad city…”
“She has made this place remarkably impregnable,” Dread agreed, thinking aloud, “anyone who waltzes in waltzes into her backrooms…”
“Unless they have a ‘pass!’” A voice from within Dread’s cloak spoke, and as Jo raised her knife at it in defense, the pure-white, terribly contorted form of Bert tumbled onto the ground, stretching and reshaping into their typical humanlike shape.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry, they are fine, with me!” Dread assured Jo, frankly thankful to have that weight literally off her back. Bert was very light, but even then it was hard to walk carrying someone, let alone not give it away. “We have… Some history, and so I thought I might as well indulge Bert’s request to see this place as well. I apologize for not mentioning earlier, but it was quite dire getting in here past guards attacking us.”
Jo didn’t seem to mind, continuing to lead the pair around, even passing Akiko who was casually, distractedly reading some manga while in a bit of a pirate mood.
They also passed by another scene, slightly more concerning, of an injured old man in a Hawaiian Shirt, close by the frontmost entrance of the place and clutching himself as his fleet of four Stand-starships remaining fired at Remix, who guarded against it with ghost-objects while a Flying Man Red tried to find an opening to strike.
“You’ve been at this for hours, old man, die already! You have no place in the world I mean to birth from your bloodied, pulped remains!”
Pineapples stood, then, leaning against the wall, trying not to show weakness.
“I think that guy is going to lose, at this rate… It’s a shame, too,” Bert, the loudmouth again, remarked. “He might have been a worthwhile pawn in wrestling control away from this operation.”
Dread, Jo, Remix, and Red all gave Bert simultaneous incredulous looks, all in completely unique ways.
Jo drew her knife again, about to transform, only to dodge out of the way of the injured ‘Lou’ Reed, blacked out, helmetless, being knocked away and into the floor, the shock of which made her rise quickly, feeling around. “Where’s the- Shit!” As she sat up, then, feeling around for the saber no longer in her possession, she noticed that she was smack in the middle of something else here.
Hurriedly, she rolled away, standing herself up and looking to the injured Admiral. “You… You’re one of those MFAs, right? How did you-?”
Weakly, he gestured to Remix. “He brought me here in a damned urn! I’ve been fending them off to buy others in the museum time to escape… Everyone in this hall here and Jack, those are the only ones left in the building, minus masses and masses of ghosts. They’re harmless, though… Don’t worry about them attacking unless that guy takes them.”
“I see…” Lou, then, smiled sadly, clutching her bloodied suit. She looked to Bert and Dread, then, moving to get between them and Jack’s incredulous accomplices. “You said you wanted to take him out, right? I overheard…”
“Well, Bert has let yet another cat out of the bag,” Dread admitted, “indeed, I came here with the intent of dethroning Jack Aurel before he had a chance to complete his little ritual. Few others would even be able to get in here.”
“So that’s my role, then…” Lou smiled, then, sighing, ducking out of the way of the Flying Man sending a kick her way, a gauntlet-clad arm emerging from her body, grabbing his ankle hard, and swinging him into the Jo who was shocked to hear Dread say that. “I can’t do anything about Jack… Too fucked up from that ED match…” She grinned, then, mouth bleeding as she stared Remix down. “But this old man and I can at least keep these assholes from interfering!”
Dread, then, watched passively as the five erupted into battle, she and Bert curious about what was to come as, from each hand, the Stand which emerged seemed to fire odd projectiles at their foes. “The ‘I’ll hold them off…’ You’re styling yourself as some sort of exceptional hero, aren’t you?” She seemed amused by that, the irony of their cooperation. “I’m evil, you know… And Bert, at least, is morally ambiguous. But if you’ve settled on putting the city in our hands, have you any advice?”
Over the sounds of laser fire, Lou quickly found time to answer, “yeah, there’s… I brought this golden ‘saber’ with me, and it must’ve fallen somewhere by the T-Rex… In, in a bit over six minutes from now, this ritual of theirs is gonna go through and rip this island open. Before that… They have these ‘failsafe’ statue things, and…” She took a breath, retracting and wincing from a blow her Stand had taken. “Look, I don’t have time to explain it, but you need to smash those up first! They’re there, made up of spirits fused together, to keep these guys safe from the consequences of their own actions… To ensure their safety, and at the same time act as a ‘failsafe’ for the ritual. Gives you the ‘power’ over it, too, in the way that right now Jack himself does… That’s important to stopping it. So you need to smash them first, and then, right as the time passes for the ritual, when the skull of the T-Rex in the center starts to split open and glow and its mouth starts gushing water… Embed the sword into the opening in its forehead, right as it starts to shape. That’s the only way to prevent this at this stage!”
“The forehead particularly, hmm?” Bert asked, pacing curiously and avoiding a cross split attack from Red, who barreled into Lou and was barely blocked. “Why there, per se? Why nowhere else on the thing?”
“Ngh..!” Lou grunted, saved from a follow-up by Pineapples. “I dunno, that’s just where you have to do it!”
“Black Angel… That’s what you’re called, yes?” Dread smiled, turning away. “You will be thanked for this victory… Try to live long enough to witness it firsthand, won’t you?”
“I’d… I’d love to,” Lou answered, smiling sadly, “for five years now, when I first learned there was anything worth a damn in this world, I’ve wanted to protect that… The dark pit of despair that was the first thirteen years of my life, and even so much since, I’d love nothing more than a world where no person is fated beyond impossible odds to suffer that.” She grew serious, then, raising her voice. “Go, now! Leave this to us!”
Bert and Dread approached the T-Rex, impressed at the amazing height and Akiko’s snazzy pirate duds upon the thing, the lab-grown being whistling with impression. “A T-Rex lived ‘til three-hundred years ago… Preserved whole, in this city. It’s astonishing, isn’t it, Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix?”
“A curious anomaly,” Dread agreed, examining it from afar, even noticing that alleged sword in the distance. “I wonder why it survived that long, so far after its brethren…”
“It’s because it was a ‘Stand User.’”
Jack approached from the same room in which Dread spotted glints of the golden saber, announcing his presence with that. “That was its ‘fate…’ A savage, cunning animal, ripped from where it belonged. to be a problem to solve and squabble over, to found this city on its literal bones.”
“John ‘Jack’ Aurel… You’d best stand down.” Bert, helpfully, started. “You cannot beat us… Even if we only had seconds to overcome you, I would be too much for you to handle!”
“No, he’s going to fight, I know it.” Dread, meanwhile, prepared Joywave, staring him down with a pointed, grinning lethality. “I suppose introductions are not necessary, with how Bert here loves to say my full name… I am not one to make things curt or brief, John, but consider yourself toppled, usurped, bloodied and dead.”
“The lab accident with a God complex and by far the worst, most grisly of Jo’s friends…” With no real amusement, no happiness in his eyes, Jack chuckled, looking them over. “Of course, right at the end, my final test isn’t some hero… It’s exactly the worst kind of Stand User! The apex predators that I’ve preyed upon, that stand in the way of saving everyone who’s died to reach this point! Of course it would be someone like me to gain entry, wouldn’t it?”
“You speak with such confidence you’ll raise the dead…” Bert was curious. “Even if it costs more lives, such a thing is… That is the realm of gods, John ‘Jack’ Aurel.”
“Not today it’s not,” Jack answered, twirling his hammer in his hand. “Both of you… You’ve been driven here, standing in my way, as agents of ‘fate’ itself. Isn’t that the reason you were ‘lucky’ enough to pass through our defenses… Because you were meant to stand here, and you were meant to watch as every horrible, cruel thing you’ve done amounts to nothing in the face of these circumstances.”
He looks the two intruders over with sympathy for a moment, before steeling himself and clenching his weapon, Stand appearing behind him just as stone-faced. “You may be the puppet of something beyond your control, but you must understand that I can’t let you ruin the plan I’ve bet my life on. I bear you no anger as people, but your role here is something I can’t ignore. I’ll waste our time no longer in arguing ethics, let there be no apologies or restraint until this is settled.”
The other conspirators had been instructed not to intervene if it came to this point, even if it risked the collapse of everything they had worked for. Not if it threatened lives. An enemy to make it this far was deserving of being dealt with reasonably. As the critical moment drew near, Jack readied all the fury that months of waiting had stored within him, and accepted that this may very well be his final true fight.
“Five minutes on the dot now, until ‘that time…’ If what the Black Angel said is true.” Dread looked to Bert. “What do you say we demonstrate incontrovertibly to John exactly how confused he truly is?”
(Image credit to CaptainSpooky27!)
Location: A part of the Los Fortuna’s Natural History Museum. The area here is 75 by 75 meters with each tile being 5 by 5 meters. The ceilings here are 8 meters tall. The yellow tiles are the hallways and the green and purple tiles form the different rooms.
The white tiles have ritual shrines built on those areas. There are 7 shrines total and will be explained in further detail in the additional information.
The players start at the south of the map and Jack starts at the top of the map as represented by their tokens. The walls are represented by thicker borders and the dotted lines are the doorways.
At the top of the map, in the pink tile and yellow symbols, is the Golden Sword. It is currently pinned under 2 meters of rubble.
Each wing of the museum houses an exhibit, in the center is the main attraction a large T-Rex in display as denoted by the large grey circle.
The other exhibits are denoted by the letter on them:
  • G: The geologic exhibit, displaying and teaching about different rock formations and types
  • O: The two Oceanic exhibits, displaying the marine life and seabed of Los Fortuna.
  • C: The climatography exhibit, displaying the different temperature maps and features across Los Fortuna.
  • A: The Agricultural exhibit, displaying the various fruits and crops grown around Los Fortuna.
  • T: The two Taxidermy exhibits, displaying a wide range of animals in roped off and glass displays.
  • E:The Entomology exhibit, displaying photos and models of various bugs.
Goal: For the players, desecrate all the shrines and, when time runs out, have at least one of you, living and conscious, at the T-Rex with the golden sword in hand! For Jack, make sure the players don’t stop your ritual before it goes off!
The match will last exactly five minutes, unless of course players are dead before then. It doesn’t end just because players reach the goal.
Additional Information:
The shrines are 2 meter tall marked wood and metal structures, each having an strange carve effigy sitting in the center of them. In order to properly desecrate a shrine the players can do one of a few things, destroy the shrine outright, deface all the carvings made into the shrine, or destroy the effigy hidden within the shrine.
After destroying or defacing a shrine, the ghosts of the dead will begin harassing the players - three ghosts will move towards the player responsible for destroying the shrine (even in a situation where the stands are responsible: the ghosts will target Bert if a Perfect Hair minion destroys a shrine, and same for if anything affected by Joywave does so). These aren't strong, having flat 222 physicals and being partially see-through, but will increase in numbers as more and more shrines are destroyed. Strong enough hits can phase them out of existence, but they'll respawn ten seconds after at the spot that they previously were. They will go directly towards the players and can phase through any walls or objects that may be in their paths (but not out of any attacks), grabbing onto the players and trying to gang up on them once they're close enough to do so, dealing minor damage.
Team Combatant JoJolity
Red Carpet Rennaisance Emilie "Dread" Delacroix "Wow! It's a hand drawn original color illustration!" You’re a cultured woman, and this museum might very well end up being wiped off of the face of the earth quite soon, so you need to make the most of it while you still can! Make sure to visit and appreciate the various exhibits on display here! (Character Specific)
Suburban Regalia Bert "What a terrible person. If I wrote about someone like you, none of my readers would like it." So this man is playing at god, trying to control life, death, and fate themselves? What foolishness! Clearly, only you can do such things, and you do them best! Over the course of the strategy, prove your superiority to this “Jack Aurel“ and take him down a notch! (Character Specific)
??? Jack Aurel "Where the hell did you go?! Come out, you fucker!" It's now or never. This is the culmination of all of your plans, and failing is absolutely not an option here. During the fight, hold nothing back, and make sure to thoroughly defeat your opponents so that no one and nothing will ever stand in your way again!
(Jack sheet plain text version)
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by boredCommentator to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

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