"No," the Aberration rasped. "I cannot fight you. I have been commanded so." It turned back halfway from The Metal Man and his odd mount, gesturing toward a large glyph on the far side of the room they occupied. "The Endless wishes to speak to you. Follow me." With that, it stalked off, disappearing in a flash of light as it stood upon the glyph.
"Hmmm well seems pretty legit to me guy" said the Metal Man dissolving the flame thrower away again. as he followed the abomination into the flash of light glyph thingamajig.
In a flash of light he was facing The Endless, "OH helllo Friend, I got this here thingy for ya." he said as he removed the sword from his back.
EDIT: "A lady never reveals such intimate details with a man she's just met." Sehnsucht feigned a scold, recovering from the injuries she just sustained.
"What my lovely Schdenfreude seems to forget that we have more power than sticks and stones. All she ever considers is offence."
In one move, the windows and doors of the echoing corridor were removed, leaving the long pale corridor.
In another, the iron maiden was levitated and thrown towards the intruder. Her intentions not only to hit him, rather clear the way and gain better space.
"Well, are you going to keep me waiting? Hit me." Sehnsucht smirked with her hands waiting in front of her.
If it were not for the fact this...irritation was against us, he would have been a useful ally. Unexpected force...
The Aberration and it's charge, the intruder, The Metal Man, came to stand in the grand throne room of The Endless. It was a spacious, spartan room -made of the same white stone so much of his Empire was composed of- as wide as it was long, with only enormous stone pillars lining the path to The Endless and his massive throne. The Aberrations flanking The Endless stared intently at The Metal Man, following his every scant movement.
The Endless sat on his throne, still leaning back with fingers interwoven beneath his chin and beard, his face a stony mask. The Aberration that had escorted The Metal Man departed back the way he came, and the glyph grew dark. "Come," The Endless called, extending one hand and beckoning The Metal Man forward with his index finger. "Bring your gift to me," his voice echoed around the throne room, bouncing off of everything and nothing, shaking the very air. His jovial demeanor of before was forgotten. Now was not the time for such things.
The Metal Man noticed the ultra serious atmosphere and spoke up, "wow its like stone cold serious in here anyway, you're right its about time I give you this thingy a gift from The Poison God." he said as he handed the sword to the Endless, which is actually the sword which he had previously stolen from The Endless, and was then tainted with the poisons of the Poison God.
Vermilion grinned a dark grin as he chuckled and his eyes left a yellow trail and unnatural afterimage as he moved."A less offensive target eh? This should indeed be interesting..." He used his spacial rending to maneuver to the space directly in-front of his more sensible target, the Iron maiden seemingly passing through his unearthly facade."As you wish Madame, as you wish..." He said before making another attempt with the harvester.
As The Metal Man approached him, The Endless wondered if the gaudy steel man could feel the throne room as it contracted behind him, shortening the extravagant space with every heavy thunk that echoed in the chamber. It was only to be expected, after all, what kind of fool would willingly brandish what was obviously a trap? Still, the sheer audacity of The Metal Man and his toxic deity had piqued The Endless' curiosity.
The lupine Aberration flanking The Endless recoiled at the intruder's approach, scurrying off to a dark corner of the throne room. Well, The Endless thought to himself as The Metal Man came smiling and sauntering toward him, If I had any doubts, no longer.
"Wow its like stone cold serious in here anyway, you're right its about time I give you this thingy a gift from The Poison God." The Metal Man seemed a little too jubilant for his own good. Almost giddy. If this was a trap, The Metal Man obviously wasn't use to being on the giving-end of them.
He brandished a large sword, well, large to The Metal Man, ornate with a gem-encrusted hilt. A large amethyst shined violently from it's pommel. The Endless recognized it well. Why The Metal Man had stolen it was obvious; it was pretty. What he had planned to do with it... The Endless could not fathom.
The Metal Man held the sword up for The Endless to take. He gazed down at it briefly before extending his massive hand. For a brief, brief moment, The Endless considered trying to crush the intruder beneath his stony hand. If only it were that simple... his thoughts trailed off. Just before his hand would touch the weapon, he paused. "No doubt your master sent you sauntering back in here, wrecking my Domain, to return this to me, knowing I would be rather upset by it's absence." It was hard for The Endless not to crack his stony face in a wide smile. "Instead," he began to suggest, "how about a little competition. If I win, I get the sword back. If you win, you keep it." The Endless shifted in his throne, a jarring motion that was not unlike a statue suddenly springing to life, resting his head upon one head, a bemused expression on his face. He awaited a response.
"What you mean like a game I love games, you know I always say if you can't enjoy it life isn't worth it. Though I really have no choice in the living thing now do I?" he said as agreed to the contest of the Endless. Though he honestly didn't know why The Endless wouldn't want the amazing shiny sword thing back, I mean it was his in the first place? Then if its one thing he's learned in the countless eons he has lived its that people, even giant stone god people were often times wildly unpredictable.
"So what kind of competition were you thinking my Giant stone friend, a hot dog eating contest, train jousting; you know we sit on top of trains as the collide and try to not fall off; or maybe juggling?"
"Yes, like a game," The Endless replied, unable to stop himself from chuckling at his foe. As the throne room rumbled from his mirth, The Endless couldn't help but wonder if The Metal Man was easily distracted, a fool, or just simple.
"In fact, I'll even give you a choice, as I am so wont for any sort of entertainment," he hooked a stony thumb toward his serpentine guardian, still coiled around a large pillar and watching The Metal Man cautiously, "My own creations are hardly very sociable." The winged beast hissed quietly at the insult.
"You have two choices," The Endless spoke as he rose, towering mightily over his quarry. "A contest of words, or a contest of might." Though The Endless secretly hoped for the former, it seemed all too likely that his foe wasn't one much for thought.
"Hmm well I was kind of hoping for the hot dog eating contest but somehow I figured you wouldn't go for that, to bad it would have been fun. You know what though its been a while since I've had a good old fashioned debate, or riddle solved. Not much call for thought when up against minions you know? Then again, I do enjoy a round or two of smashy smashy." he said, as he pondered over the choices, on one hand he had he element of surprise in a battle of words on the other hand KABOOM. "I challenge you to a Battle of Words Gnome King!" he called out pointing right at the Endless in an melodramatic fashion.
"Hm?" The Endless was genuinely surprised. He collapsed backward into his throne laughing wildly, his impact and unexpected mirth causing the room to shake chaotically. As The Endless fought to stifle his chortling and regain some semblance of composure, he responded, "Indeed? Very well then."
The Endless thought for a moment, stroking his immaculate beard, pondering what to say, having not expected this outcome and having nothing prepared for it. "Ah," he said, "I've just the thing." Gazing down at the intruder from atop his throne, The Endless asked, "To you, what does it mean to truly live?"
Population getting lower...
Trying to reach champion by radio.
"This is base awaiting report."
The Voyager was floating out in its domain it could feel the life within it growing more by the day, it had flown over the red one recently one nice landscape a few of the seas were starting to get chemically interesting.
Worrying (one of the disadvantages of an emergent soul).
Considering course of action.
Scanners possible but best saved for later.
Activating homing protocols.
Regardless of where its champion was they'd be here now. Good thing Voyager had remembered to land somewhere with an atmosphere this time.
(query) Explanation (end query.)"
The metal skinned doctor, was caught of balance by the shaking of the room, but it did not take him long to regain his footing, and steady his composure
He stared at the Endless for a minute or two rather shocked at the choice of question, its almost as if the creator chose the one question that The Metal Man knew better then anyone, even Death itself, but to say that out loud seemed very arrogant.
"To truly live? Please I figured you were going to make this at least a little difficult" said The Metal Man looking up at the Endless' white stone throne. He cleared his throat and formed a metal replica of the throne around him as he moved into a seated position, and formed a pair of wire framed spectacles on his face.
"To truly live, is to be able to die. You see for me, life is really one of the worst things to experience if it doesn't end. Prior to the fall I lived for countless eons, fighting injustice. Though one can't only fight can they, I've loved and lost more people, close friends, wives, children, hell even pets. I have had somewhere close to over 1000 wives, each one of them spending a full and happy life with me. Each giving me at least one child, and all passing away in the blink of my eyes. I have live for longer then any one man should, I have seen so much, learned so much, and you know what I've realized that no matter what I do it really has no meaning. That is why To Truly be alive, to Truly live on must be able to die."
The Endless listened patiently, impressed by the sorrow and melancholy of the intruder's words. "To you, to live is to die. Without the promise of death at the end of life, each and every action you take is now meaningless." The Endless leaned forward, hands gripping the ends of the arms of his throne. "I agree, to an extent. A beginning SHOULD always have an end. But... calling your actions meaningless is folly. Strife has meaning. Struggle has meaning. Happiness has meaning. If you thought otherwise, why would you trudge onward? Many have given up for less and chosen to await the inevitable."
"Or," The Endless continued, his tight scrutiny of The Metal Man unwavering, "is this why you soldier onward? Without death, life has no meaning, but simply giving up is a fate even worse. To me, at least, you seem to be enjoying yourself, destroying my minions, defacing my Empire, and looting my things." The Endless reclined again, awaiting an answer.
The Shadowy Gambler, known before the Fall of Stars as Alastor, was furiously duelling for this yellow coloured territory for its master, The Voyager. His opponent, was a lanky, stick thin man, who wore tight fitting clothes, and dressed like a harlequin.
Both of them duel tirelessly, Alastor had managed to trap his opponent with Luck of the Draw a few times, but the outcome was less than satisfactory, it seemed that luck was on his opponent's side this time.
Whilst the battle went on, the Maestro as he called himself seemed to constantly attack with music, (which I suppose is appropriate). To escape these semi-constant barrages, The Gambler hid himself amongst his cards, which gave him a few good moments to counter attack.
However, one of the Maestro's attacks from his cane, had damaged the radio, meaning contact with The Voyager was impossible. Alastor could sense the worry of his master, and could feel one of its intervention being activated. Alastor tried one last attack, whilst it didn't kill his opponent, it left him wounded at least.
As he could feel the oncoming effect of The Voyager's Final Frontier, Alastor called out to his injured opponent.
"It seems that fate, more so, my Creator, has decided to let you live this time. It will be an honour to duel you some other time Maestro. Till next we meet, have a card." He remarked as he thrown one of his cards on the ground.
Within a bright flash of light, he had shifted to some place faraway. The Gambler had returned to his Creator's domain. When he was sure that all was quiet, Alastor examined the broken remains of the radio.
"Damn, this is going to be tough to repair normally, who knew that an ivory cane could cause this! Then again, it was a rapier at the time. Perhaps if I used a little shadow matter to bridge the connection temporarily, it should grant me at least a brief communique with it." He grunted in annoyance as he focused his power onto the broken pieces of radio. After they began to swirl, they reformed. He soon began to contact his Creator.
"Hello, can you hear me? This is Alastor calling The Voyager."
He listened intently to The Endless' words, the giant stone man/thing was if nothing else a rather eloqunet debater...a Masterbater if you will. The Metal Man laughed at his joke that nobody heard and cleared his throat ready to deliver the rebuttal.
"Just because it has no meaning in my story, if you will pardon the metaphor, doesn't mean it is meaningless. If the life of a man is a cohesive narrative with a beginning middle and end. My life is a series of books, never ending because a new author takes the reins from the original. Each book brings joy to the reader but it doesn't bring the protagonist closer to death. Maybe he spends a book or two as a dark brooding vigilante, maybe in the next he is a wise cracking joker. those books have a meaning the are entertaining and amusing, but in the end the hero solves that books problem. but by the next book there is a new set of characters, a new problem. You see there is always something to be done, so I cope and continue the story, because if I didn't I would be very very bored." he said chuckling slightly at that last part.
The Endless listened to the interloper's surprisingly coherent explanation with a mix of interest and surprise. "Hm," the monolithic lord pondered aloud, "for all you speak of the importance of death, it doesn't sound as though you actually wish to die."
Reclining in his throne, The Endless continued, "Perhaps you justify life as worth living simply because it will not end. The question, then, falls to this: for one so certain of his own immortality, have you ever tried to seek an end to this?" Stroking his beard, The Endless wondered as to how that question applied to himself, Have I tried to end this? Has anyone? The cycle continues, and we do nothing to stop it. Who is truly "The Endless" then? I... or this universe itself?
As vision returned to Priscilla she was satisfied with it's performance, there was no difference in vision, and if what... she said was true, then this would help her navigate the castle. Definitely a plus, at least. And now she was able to turn her mind onto this mission she was being told of.
Looking at the silently amassed troops she dismissed those with a wave. "I don't think those will be necessary, I have my own tools. I can't help but feel your little friends there will get in the way for this one" she said as she let what the Asmodeus say sink in and she had a moment to process the redundancy.
"So you wish for me to enter the poisonous realm of the lord of poison to bring back an extract of his toxins? I'm getting the feeling that there's more to this than your letting on, will just getting some at the door just be out of the question?" She asked, slightly annoyed that her first mission is essentially a basic fetch-and-retrieve.
The Metal Man thought about this next question as well as the points he made, this was less like a competition and more like a debate among friends, strange how that works out sometimes huh.
"How do you think I got so confident in my own immortality, an instruction manual. Nah I spent a millennium as a crazed hero with a death wish. I jumped into volcanoes, stopped nuclear weapons with my face, and even flew a spaceship into a black hole. No my rock solid friend I want more then anything to greet my end. I know that I never will, though I still injure and do have any clue how much being in a black hole hurts. Its not so much that I don't want to die, than it is that I can't and need something to pass all of eternity ya know?" He said tenting his hands in deep thought and contemplation
The Endless nodded. "Eternity is a very long time. Longer than you can count, longer than I can count. If you have not always existed, then you can hold hope that you will one day pass from this land.
"Still, I understand your point." The Endless shrugged, a strange, almost timeless gesture. "I concede. Victory is yours. You may take your prize and leave my Domain. You will have safe passage. My Mindless will not harm or impede you." I wonder how this plays out now...The Endless thought to himself.
The Metal Man looks at the sword, still not sure what to do with it but who care he won.
"I WON! I bested you in a Verbal Joust, Who's the man?! I'm the man!" The man that was all serious not seconds earlier was once more the goof from earlier.
He began moon walking back and forth across the throne room, as he was about to exited, the sword exploded in a humongous green cloud of poison and fire. This had the effect of damaging the domain of The Endless even more than it already was along with obliterating any thing not either a demi god or immortal in a 20 mile radius, so just minions.
"THE HIGH HOLY HELL WAS THAT SHIT!!!!!" shouted the man of metal as the sword detonated in his hand.
He took one look around and realized it was probably time to go.
With the main focus on the swinging scythe, she managed to catch the blade between her hands, clamping the blade and giving a small smile.
"I'll admit, this is probably the most excitement we've seen in a while. ...And we were waiting for a champion... we were just waiting for you to finish with your wandering or get mauled by my hounds though." Sehnsucht admitted, clamping more firmly and sizing the man up again, analyzing him with mis-matched eyes.
Vermilion stared back into her eyes with an unnatural ferocity, the gleaming yellow eyes showing an emotion akin to laughter."...." Without a word he let go of the scythe suddenly, and he quickly called forth the Chain-Scythe at his waist, tossing both ends in a spiral in an attempt to subdue the woman/women. He continued this silence studying the creator's next moves intently while his eyes continued to grin.
As The Metal Man sped away, The Endless pondered the implications of the explosion that began to ravage his Empire. Watching his wolf-like protector choke and disintegrate, The Endless couldn't help but think, That's disappointing. I liked that one.
The Endless sighed, knowing that there was now much more to do, and many more bodies to move to the Mortuary.
Caught by surprise, Sehnsucht threw the scythe up and took off after it in an attempt to avoid the oncoming attack. Just barely grabbing the scythe again, she landed and attempted to defend herself. A large mental block hit her as she quickly ran through what to do next in her mind. The scythe felt unnatural to the touch, making her consider that the intruder was much more than some of the other champions she had spectated. An epiphany hit her.
The Metal Man felt pretty bad about the sword blowing up like that, he really liked the Endless, he was a cool bro. The Poison God probably wanted to hurt, him and the Endless, though he wasn't really sure why his creator would want to blow him up. These were the thoughts running through the mind of the man of metal as he bounced away on a rocket powert pogo stick, back toward the Poison God's domain.
Asmodeus waved a hand and the dolls seemed to give mock bows, the Marionettes nearly toppling over themselves, before leaving again to patrol the castle construct.
She shakes her head in a disapproving no to Priscilla's more than likely hypothetical question. "While the poisons there are strong indeed, Yes. Very strong. Strong as they may be, the floating cloud of poison that is the creator of that realm is made of stronger poisons than any ever seen. If you bring just a taste, yes... Just a bit to me, ha... The things we can accomplish..." Asmodeus lifted her head up, face fully visible for the first time, as before it had just been hanging on the noose. "While you're gone, i can arrange accommodations for you here, unless you're one of those Champions who has a refugee camp where the remains of the world long forgotten still linger~" She shook her head, bemused. Another hand came from the floor this time and handed Priscilla a device which had a small nozzle on one end and seemed to be a very intricate, small, powerful pump. "Use that to extract his poisons. Now go on, i'll monitor you from here. And come back alive, I'd be mortified and ridiculed if my first champion failed and had her life extinguished on her very first job." She said.
Its response concise and to the point.
Query, reason for communications breakdown And Query life signs found."
A green tendril toyed with an instrument or two.
"Offer, potential for equipment upgrades.
Capabilities for modification.
Query, Requests for upgrades."
A the Metal Man hopped along he noticed a lone eating establishment by the side of the road, the sign said Emmanuel's Taco Party House
He came to a complete halt in from of the Taco Party House and his stomach grumbled, "I have no idea how you got here or how you got here but I always have room for tacos." he said to the restaurant as he walked through the door.
"Hmm, upgrades... what would I want?" The Gambler asked himself, and out of earshot over the radio. He thought for a few moments, and then gave his response.
"Upgrade request One: Short range scanner for the use of gaining tactical information against enemy Creators, Champions, and Minions."
"Upgrade Request Two: Cards that create a a localised gravity well when thrown to the floor, useful for slowing down opponents, and drawing them in for attack."
"Confirm that Voyager has received these requests."
Evaluation comparison required
"Justification for Gravity Well Cards: Within the time that I have spent as your Champion, I have noticed that enemy Champions rely on high speed and maneuverability to accomplish goals, i.e. capturing territory for their Creator, and to dodge attacks. If they were to be trapped in a Gravity Well, I could easily slow them down, allowing for increased chance of their elimination, and the completion of our goals, obtaining more land.
Further justification can be that minions will often attack as a group, with a gravity well, they can be easily bunched up, allowing for a single and well placed strike to defeat them with increased ease."
"Justification for Short Range Scanner: I suppose in a way, this would be for both our benefits. Whilst we may have advanced tech at our disposal, we lack effective intelligence, no offence. This would provide us with the unique insight into how our enemies work. That way, we can create effective counter strategies to eliminate them from the playing field."
"Do these reasons give you enough 'food for thought' as the old saying goes." The Gambler added at the end, finishing off with a brief chuckle, hoping that Voyager would get the joke.
Vermilion grinned wide again before applauding."Most would be subdued by that tactic... Color me impressed. This really is a pity though, I'm going to try to end you quickly." He again summoned a swarm of the pink-red wisps constructed from the souls of the damned, but instead of hurling them at her as he had earlier he lined the floor around her feet with them before charging at he wielding each head of the chain-scythes in his hands.
Mission is discovery of life
Scanner provides extra information
Gravity well cards Improve combat effectiveness
Combat isn't the mission
Scanner serves mission
Mission has priority
Scanner has priority
"I suppose you make an excellent point about the Gravity Well Cards, for being at most, a combat enhancement. However consider the benefits it could bring towards your 'mission'. Combine their effect of drawing in targets close, with that of me being able to contain things within my cards, and you have a relatively safe means for transportation back to your domain. Allowing you to get a more precise analysis of the subject." The Gambler replied back, hoping he had made an effective counterpoint.
"Also have you ever heard of the phrase 'Scientia potentia est'?" He then questioned his master, hoping it understood Latin.
As he could hear his master evaluating his counterpoint he thought back to the battle.
"Damn, that land was in my grasp, if it hadn't been foppish, overdressed fool. I'd be having this conversation elsewhere, and would be in happier spirits. But still, there are other lands to conquer, the next available one will be along soon." The Gambler thought to himself in a rage, then calmed down afterwards, reflecting on the negative outcome of the situation in a positive light.