Chapter 3 Part 2 (Cal's POV)
It's so hard to think sometimes. I see Quel every time I close my eyes, and she's always laughing. She's always spinning and dancing. Melting and freezing and twirling herself into a cyclone. So when I changed I became one of her people, a tall, translucent, blue figure with long, drooping antennas and sapphire eyes.
Skullene hit the switch, and a building rose from the ground. The o-bot infected ocean was gathering at the cities edge, and in my present form I could sense it. That ocean was as much a part of me as my very soul, and it gathered around me, circling at my feet. I felt myself grow taller, and my arms stretched outward, dripping like waterfalls. I could feel its power filling my consciousness, and the edges of the pool became like the tips of my fingers. I was aware of every building, every stone, every piece of twisted, discarded, debris that littered the ground. I was beginning to feel like a morbidly obese man trapped in a telephone booth, acquiring a squishy formlessness that constantly reshaped itself to accommodate its surroundings.
The ocean and I were a single entity now, and I rose up, melting into a massive, formless tidal wave.
"Head for that building!" Skullene shouted, pointing toward the skyscraper that had risen behind me.
I crashed downward, collapsing against a sky scrapper. It's windows shattered and I felt my consciousness fill one of the rooms on the top most floor, expanding to fill the hallways and elevator shafts.
"The wrong building," I thought to myself. "This is the wrong building...by the time I get back out to the street they'll have already escaped."
I poured down every staircase, breaking free from each window and struggling to escape back into the street, all the while, cursing the inaccuracy of Quel's abilities. Skullene, Nyx, and Sancho ran toward the entrance of an enormous stone building, with an advertisement for an Irken television drama painted on the side of it, just as it finished rising and grew stationary. Nyx kicked in the door and darted inside. The other two followed her.
I crashed downward, flooding the city street with my formlessness, but it was too late. The competitors were already inside of the building, and the entrance had sealed shut behind them.
I detached myself from the o-bot infected water and rose upward. Then, my blue body turned a dark, muddy, grey color and I became heavy. My eyes stretched and became long, jagged slits in the sides of my vast, stone-like head. My arms grew large and strong, and my hands became like sledgehammers.
"YOU CAN'T RUN FROM ME!" I bellowed in the creature's deep, booming voice. "IT'S STUPID TO EVEN TRY!"
I swung one of my sledgehammer hands into the door and it collapsed into a pile of wooden shards. The water collapsed over my head and quickly flooded the lowest level of building. My skin turned red, as my bones grew light, and my body shrank. My arms stretched and flattened into a pair of narrow mammalian wings, and I few quickly up the first flight of steps.
"This is where we split up!" Skullene shouted as she reached the top of the stairs. "Sancho, take the first elevator to level 27! Nyx, take the third elevator to level 5!"
Sancho and Nyx reached the top of the stairs, just managing to outrun my current form with their bionic appendages. As I reached the top of the steps, I noticed that the second floor was a single, square room with tree elevators built into the Northern most wall. Skullene ran to the elevator that was situated between the other two, the second farthest from the stairwell. Nyx jumped, activating the rocket boosters in her feet. She did a complicated flip in midair, and knocked me out of her path with the heel of her boot. One of my wings snapped and I fell onto the carpet. My instincts took over and I felt myself shift. My wings retracted into my shoulders and without even thinking about it I became a vast, round, armless cactus-like creature.
My vibration sensors perceived three pairs of elevator doors slide open simultaneously. The three competitors darted quickly into their respective elevators. I turned and rolled in the direction of the human male. It was him, after all, who had murdered my Quel, and I wanted to destroy him more than I had ever wanted to destroy any thing in my entire life.
"You killed her!" I wanted to yell as I sped toward him. "You shot he eye out and then you killed her, you bastard! I'm going to crush you flat and gauge your eyes out with my needles! So that when I finally do finish you off you will be begging to die!"
The only noise I could make in my present form, however, was a soft hiss as my needles ripped through the moldy grey carpet.
"Come on!" he begged the elevator pointlessly, as he began frantically hitting one of the buttons on its control panel. "Close! Close! Oh shit! Please close!"
I was getting closer with every passing second, and Sancho pressed himself against the back of the elevator, wrapping his arms around himself as he continued begging the elevator to move. This was it. I was going to crush him. That damned coward was finished. All I had to do was roll a few more feet, and smash him flat against the side of the elevator. If I had possessed a face, I might have grinned.
The doors slammed shut just as I was about to enter the elevator. The pressure from the doors crushed my cactus body and I felt my consciousness explode. Blue cactus blood splattered against the walls of the elevator, and I willed it quickly into a puddle. The puddle shrank and I became a tiny earth creature, with a shiny black body and eight slender, segmented legs. I crawled up the side of the nearest walls, and hid myself in one of the upper corners of the elevator, waiting patiently for my injuries to repair themselves.
There was an Irken standing in one of the corners of the elevator, standing so still and so quiet that I hadn't been able to sense him in my previous form. He was wearing an ankle length lab coat and a demented grin. There was a long piece of rope tied around his neck that looked like it might have been a noose. This was Benedict, the famed musical sociopath.
I noted with pleasure that I had managed to injure Sancho with my previous attack. One of my needles had gone right through the palm of left hand, and was stuck there between the bones that attached into his index and middle finger.
"Ow!...OW!" he yelped, holding his left wrist with his right hand and shaking it as though this would do something to dislodge the needle.
"Ughhh...," I thought. "I can't wait to kill this guy. He's so pathetic. How is he still alive? This is so frustrating."
"Ow! My hand! Ow! It hurts! It hurts..." he continued whimpering.
He was too distracted by this injury to notice as Benedict stepped out from the shadowy corner that he had been hiding in, his demented grin broadened as he stepped into the lighted portion of the elevator.
"Hello, little smeet," Benedict sneered, and his green eyes reflected the hash yellow glow of the light fixture that dangled above their heads at the end of a razor thin wire.
Sancho turned in the direction of Benedict's voice and took a few steps backward.
"W-what's a smeet?" he asked in a voice choked with tears. "...Is that what I am?"
Benedict's right eye narrowed until it was barely open and he broke out into a fit of insane laughter.
"HA HA HA HA! Is that what you are? PAh HA HA HA HA HA! I don't think I'll kill you just yet! It'll be easy enough later!"
"I get the feeling that you're making fun of me," replied Sancho in the same sort of defenseless, pathetic voice.
"No, not at all!" lied Benedict. "Heh heh heh...Where would you get an idea like that? I'm here to help you. I think you should know...that I knew a human once. She was an elementary school music teacher from your planet and...before she died...heh heh heh...she and I were very close. So very close...she even taught me a few songs...that precious girl. You remind me so much of her...just before she was killed."
"S-somebody killed her," repeated Sancho and one of his eyes began to leak. Knowing what I did about his personality, I found it more likely that he was crying about the pain in his hand then out of actual concern for Benedict's loss.
"Oh, but I never forgot her..." said Benedict, his demented grin twisting still further across his green face. "That precious girl lives on in her music...and I when ever I sing...I think about her and all of …thetime I spent with her...before she died."
"This is a really slow elevator," commented Sancho nervously.
"Yes, yes, never mind that," said Benedict. "I need you to do something for me...I can help you survive, but in return you'll need to help me survive. Skullene is an excellent military strategist, and Nyx is a living weapon. You won't stand a chance in a one on one battle against either of them. The only way to get rid of them permanently is to kill them now...being the best fighter in the universe can't save you from a drowning death...row, row, row, your boat-gently down the stream merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily..."
"I'm not exactly the greatest at killing people," said Sancho. Tears were leaking out both of his eyes now, as he continued to grip his injured hand.
"You don't have to be. I've set those girls up like domino blocks for you to knock down for me. Remember that ridiculous, elaborate puzzle that Skullene told you about...heh heh heh heh heh...well it doesn't exist. I expected her to have someone on the inside hacking into the Battle Royal system's mainframe, so I went a head and hacked into it myself...added a bit of false information. How exactly were you all supposed to communicate to each other that you had found the switches?"
"Skullene gave us flair guns and told us to shoot them off when we found what we were looking for," said Sancho. "...and then we were supposed to pull the switches, all around the same time...after all three of the flairs went off."
"Yes...well...you see...originally there was a switch that opened a pathway to the round three level its on level 27 of this building, that part I didn't make up. The switches on the other two floors, however, are only props. Nyx and Skullene will go into a couple of pretty special rooms with steel dead bolt doors to find them. Then, they'll set off their flares to let you know that they're standing in front of the switches...more importantly in these conveniently lockable rooms. All you have to do is run down a few flights of steps and lock them in. Then, when the ocean rises...they'll drown to death! Ha ha ha ha ha HAH HA HA!"
Benedict collapsed into another fit of insane laughter, before reciting another profoundly creepy verse of the folksy Earth song about the boat. Once he had finished, he added as an after thought: "Don't cry little boy! I am a doctor! I will fix your hand!"
The doors of the elevator slid open, and Sancho darted out.
"No-That's ok-My hand's fine-Don't touch it!" Sancho yelled. Apparently, he had enough sense to recognize that Benedict couldn't be trusted.
Benedict stepped nonchalantly out of the elevator. His green face split into a terrifying sadistic expression.
"Heh heh heh..." he chuckled creepily.
I crawled out from the elevator, onto the ceiling of the 27th floor. My strength was returning to me, little by little, but I was hesitant to alter my form. If Sancho managed to drown Nyx and Skullene...well then, I wouldn't have to kill them. I could take credit for their drowning deaths and then maybe...maybe...the Battle Royal people would bring Quel back to me.
"Come on, Sancho," said Benedict. "Let me see that hand."
"No," said Sancho. He took a few steps backward and hid the hand behind his back.
"It'll only hurt for a second," promised Benedict. "I won't cut your hand off...Well…not yet, anyway...you're going to need it to drown Nyx and Skullene."
Benedict extracted a silver pair of tweezers from one of the pockets of his lab coat.
"Just let me pull that needle out of your hand...It'll only take a second."
"…O-ok," Sancho agreed, and he reluctantly held out his hand.
I watched as Benedict strode over toward Sancho, holding the tweezers. Sancho instinctively took a few steps backward as he approached, but kept his hand outstretched. His arm began to tremble as Benedict griped the imbedded needle with his tweezers.
"This'll only hurt...a lot," Benedict said.
He gave the needle an unnecessarily harsh twist with his tweezers. Sancho screamed as a stream of blood gushed from the puncture wound in his hand. Benedict laughed at him and twisted the needle again, soliciting another scream, then quickly removed the needle and tossed it across the room.
"Now be a good boy and go murder those women for me," Benedict said.
"I...I don't know."
"Come on, Sancho," said Benedict. "I'll give you a sandwich..."
"Well...I am really hungry..." mused Sancho.
Benedict put a hand into his lab coat and pulled out a generic looking sandwich covered in plastic rap.
"It's one of those human sandwiches that your so fond of," said Benedict. "I'll let you have it, but you have to kill Nyx and Skullene first."
"Fine," replied Sancho after awhile. "I'll do it."
"Shall we shake on it?" inquired Benedict
Benedict grabbed Sancho's injured hand, gripping it with unnecessary force so that blood seeped down from the wound, staining both of their wrists red.
"Now, go kill those women for me," Benedict ordered.
I saw Benedict's eyes shoot momentarily toward the ceiling, and for a few truly horrible moments, I imagined that he was staring directly at me. It frightened me so much that I felt myself involuntarily dissolve into a cloud of water vapor. Benedict laughed maniacally and started singing a creepy little song.
"The itsy bitsy spider came up the water spout...down came the rain and...washed the spider out! Then the sun came up and dried out all the rain...and the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again..."
Benedicts voice faded slowly into the distance as I wafted toward the stairway. I followed Sancho as he made his way down the first flight of steps.
"Its ok..." he mumbled to himself as he trudged slowly down the steps. "You can do it...You can do it...you can kill these people...it's ok...you've done it before...you can do it again."
I heard one of Skullene's flare guns go off. Sancho paused for a moment on the steps and his neurotic mumbling grew more frantic.
"I won't be hard-all you have to do is kill two more people-it's ok-you can do it-its ok-its ok-it's going to be easy..."
It continued like this for twenty or so more minutes, and though, in my current form, I didn't technically have a head, I could have sworn that I was starting to get a headache. My power was returning to me with every passing minuet, but I still wasn't quite strong enough to transfigure myself into a more menacing form.
"It's going to be fine-it's going to be easy-your going to kill them-you can do it-it's ok-you can do it..."
Not only was this guy Quel's murderer, but he was also the most annoying person that I had ever been forced to come in contact with. I really wanted to kill him. I wanted to grow a couple of scythes for hands and slice his stupid head off right then and there, but I was still too weak from being crushed in the elevator.
"Maybe Skullene will save me the trouble...," I thought to myself. It was a comforting thought, and I sought to hold on to it for as long as I could.
Sancho found the one of the rooms that Benedict had been telling him about. There was a large, steel, door built onto the entrance, and he crept quietly towards it.
Not quietly enough.
"Sancho, what are you doing down here," said Skullene in an exasperated voice. "I thought I told you to go up to floor 27."
Her blue eyes narrowed as she walked towards the door.
"I...um...I got lost," lied Sancho. He was stalling. I was beginning to wonder if he would go through with it.
Skullene was getting closer to the door. Sancho bit his lip. He was starting to sweat.
"Really," replied Skullene suspiciously. "Because you'd have to be pretty florping lost to wind up on floor 13."
"I...I...um..." Sancho mumbled. Skullene was almost standing directly in front of him. Her green hands clutched the hilts of her twin daggers.
Sancho slammed the door in her face and quickly locked it. Then he turned and ran as quickly as he could down the nearest flight of steps.
"I'll kill you!" Skullene shrieked as I wafted down the stairway and onto the next level of the building. Her voice was very muffled by the door.
I could hear her in the distance, shrieking a string of profanities and death threats in her native language as she continued to hammer on the door. Sancho kept running.
I felt some of my strength return to me, and willed my liquid body to condense, so that I became a tiny insect-like creature, with a pair of minuscule, translucent wings.
The second flair gun went off just as Sancho reached the 5th floor, and I saw the second room that Benedict had been talking about. There was a large, steel door built onto its entrance, which was identical in appearance to the one that had been built onto the entrance of the room on floor 13. I could see Nyx, just beyond the frame of the door. Her back was turned to me, and she seemed to be talking to herself, as she ran her mechanical fingers impatiently through her short blue hair.
"SAM, I need you to run a statistics analysis..." Nyx said. She spoke in an emotionless, robotic, monotone that reminded me of a prerecorded voice command on a piece of Irken machinery.
Sancho was getting closer to the door, but Nyx didn't seem to notice him. She was far too preoccupied with this conversation.
"Hack into file # 846-2. Yes. Affirmative. File extension #10110111..."
Sancho was almost close enough to the door to slam it shut and lock her inside, but she still didn't seem to notice him. I was struck suddenly by an irrational thought. I had to warn her. I had stop this from happening.
"Nyx! Look out!" I shouted in the insect creature's high pitched voice.
Nyx turned around as soon as she heard my voice and in an instant she was at the entrance of the room.
"What are you doing here, Sancho?" she demanded.
Sancho answered her question by attempting to slam the door in her face.
"Disgusting human!" Nyx shrieked, her voice losing its robotic, monotonous quality.
Nyx stuck her mechanical leg in the door to stop it from closing, and it swung open, hitting Sancho in the face.
Nyx stepped out of the room and a pair of laser cannons folded out of her wrists. She aimed them at Sancho's head.
"You're betraying us, Sancho?" seethed Nyx, rolling her eyes. "Let me just roll over and die of shock."
She charged toward him, firing both of her laser cannons.
"Um-NO! That's not what I was doing!" screamed Sancho as he jumped out of the way of Nyx lasers and began running up the steps. It was pretty obvious that he was lying.
Nyx ran after him.
"You're going to die!" she shrieked, as she fired her laser cannons a second time, and Sancho somehow managed to dodge them.
My wings expanded slightly and I flew faster, straining my tiny eyes to see what exactly was going on.
Nyx caught up to Sancho on the sixth floor. She kicked him and his body flew across the room, hitting one of the stone walls with a solid thud. She aimed one of her cannons at his head.
"Tell me where the real door is," she demanded.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Sancho.
The ocean had already flooded the fifth floor. I could see it rising up over the steps and pouring out into the room where Sancho, Nyx, and I were standing. Sancho kicked Nyx in the shin with his metal foot, and ran toward the next flight of steps. Nxy yelled and grabbed her leg. It seemed that this one was not mechanical.
"Get back here!" she yelled.
Her amber eyes narrowed with rage and she rose slowly into the air. Her mechanical joints glowed, casting an eerie blue light over the rising water. Then she jumped, shooting quickly over the next flight of steps and landing on the 8th floor. She balled her metal hand into a fist and punched Sancho in the face as he reached the top of the steps, knocking him backward into the o-bot infected water. Nyx jumped hastily backward to avoid the splash.
"Aaaghhhh! AAAAAGGHHHHHHH!" Sancho shrieked in agony as he struggled to keep his head above the rising water. His arms and legs were convulsing involuntarily as the microscopic o-bots began to invade his skin.
"Where's the door, Sancho?" Nyx demanded.
Sancho choked as he swallowed a mouth full of water. His arms flailed uselessly and his head sunk below the surface. A flame appeared below Nyx's mechanical foot and she hovered over to him. She grabbed him by the hair and lifted his head out of the water.
"Where's the fucking door," she said, the icy monotone returning to her voice.
"F-floor 27," sputtered Sancho, gasping for breath.
Nyx let go of his hair and let him drop back into the water, then attempted to hover back to a dry surface. One of Sancho's arms shot out of the water and grabbed her ankle as she was floating away. She screamed and flailed her leg, attempting to loosen his grip.
"Drown!" she yelled, swinging her leg, in a vain attempt to knock him back into the water. "Drown, damn you!"
Nyx struggled to keep herself in the air as she floated back toward the dry area of the room. The weight of Sancho's body was pulling her closer and closer to the nanobot infested water. He was going to drag her down with him.
"Let go!" she screamed.
She kicked her leg and sent him flying across the room. He landed at the foot of the next stairway, and collapsed, twitching and gasping for breath. Nyx stared down at him as he his arms and legs continued to flail involuntarily. The nanobots had burrowed into his muscles, and they now had complete control of his arms and legs.
"Good bye, Sancho," said Nyx as she began to ascend the next flight of steps. "...And good riddance."
"...Wait.." shouted Sancho between coughs. "I...I...lied about the door...It's n-not on...f-floor 27!"
"...What?" she mouthed.
"I-If you let me d-die...you never know where it is!"
Nyx rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"Oh, god damn it." she said.
She walked back down the steps and grabbed one of Sancho's arms, then dragged him up the steps with her, ignoring the pained noises he made as his head slammed against each and every step on the way up. He was much bigger than her, but she pulled him easily. She must have been much stronger than she looked, perhaps biologically altered.
"No," I though. "This is terrible. I thought for sure she was going to kill him, or that he was going to kill her, or something! Now I'll have to go ahead and finish them off myself..."
This was a particularly frustrating thought, because my body was still healing itself and I knew from experience that it would take at least another hour to be completely restored.
"Nyx, no more steps," moaned Sancho. "Being dragged hurts my head."
Nyx let go of his arm, and his body feel limp against the carpet of the ninth floor.
"Fine," she said. "I'll take an elevator if it'll shut you up. Look, there's one over there."
Nyx pointed to a pair of metal doors that appeared to be the entrance of an elevator. Then she grabbed one of Sancho's wrists and dragged him toward it.
"This door better be where you say it is," she said.
She pushed the button on the elevator, and the doors slid open. She dragged Sancho inside.
I felt a mischievous grin distort the features of my insect-like face as I watched the elevator doors slide closed. I had an idea.
The elevator moved slowly upward, taking the doors with it so that all that was left in its place was an empty elevator shaft. I flew towards it, and then rose sharply upward, following the elevator. My body grew smaller as I flew so that by the time I reached the rising elevator, I was nearly the size of a single celled organism. I crawled quickly up the side of the elevator and then emerged on top. There were four thick, black cables, connected to the mechanism at each of its four corners turning slowly as the platform continued to rise. I became bigger and my mouth stretched into a pair of jagged, black, pincers. I grinned as the pincers snapped shut around one of the elevator's cables.
"Shit, what was that?" I heard a voice exclaim from inside the elevator.
The elevator swung slightly to the right as I severed the first cable, and I could hear the harsh grading of metal against metal as the elevator swung to the right and began scraping against the side of the building. The elevator slowed. I darted to the second wire and severed that one as well. My feet shifted and became like suction cups as I prepared myself for the inevitable fall. I could hear the scrapping noise getting louder. The third wire was being stretched. It was about to snap.
The humans screamed as the weight of the elevator finally severed the third wire. The elevator jerked downward several feet and the fourth wire snapped, sending the metal platform that I was currently standing on into free fall. For a few moments there was nothing. Nothing but the feeling of the walls shooting past my head as I plummeted downward into what seemed like an infinite abyss. The sound of the elevator scrapping against the side of the building coupled with the terrified shrieks of the humans trapped below my feet filled my consciousness. It was a tremendous sensory overload, and it left me feeling both helpless and powerful.
The elevator jerked to a sudden halt as it hit the ground floor. The humans stopped screaming, and I listened quietly to see if they had been killed by the impact of the fall.
"Sancho, are you alive?" I heard Nyx inquire indifferently.
"Yea," replied Sancho.
"Great, Just when I thought that things couldn't get any worse," she said. "Not only am I going to die, but I'm going to die trapped in this stupid elevator...with stupid you."
I crept slowly downward, willing myself to become smaller, so that I could fit through a tiny fissure in the side of the elevator. The nanobot infected ocean was seeping slowly in through the floor, gathering in a tiny puddle at one of the corners of the elevator.
Sancho, who seemed to have regained control of his arms and legs, backed slowly against the elevator, eyeing the growing puddle with fear.
"But it beats dying alone, right?" he said.
"Just barely." said Nyx.
Sancho looked in Nyx's direction. She glared at him and crossed her arms.
"When we first met, and you tried to kill me. You said something like 'Do you remember me' like you knew me before or something. What was that all about?"
Nyx blinked. She uncrossed her arms slumped against the side of the elevator, her expression softening slightly.
"You really don't remember me do you?" she said.
"Well I think I would have remember a super powered, blue-haired, robot girl. You don't exactly see one of those every day."
Nyx shut her eyes. The blue tendrils of her hair slipped against the side of the elevator, as her knees folded and she came to rest on a dry corner of the filthy grey carpet.
"I haven't always looked like this," she said. "I was a human being once..a long time ago. When I was a little girl, my mother sold me to a laboratory to be experimented on. There was a famous doctor named Professor Membrane who surgically altered me. He removed my limbs one at a time, rearranged my organs, injected me with nanobots. I was isolated for years with nothing but the pain of surgery for company...that and my very last human memory. The memory of the day that I, a normal, healthy, ordinary girl was selected from a room full of deformed and crippled applicants to be the subject of a revolutionary new 'limb replacement' procedure. Then, a stupid little Puerto Rican kid through one of his crutches at me and told me that my face was stupid."
"I'm not Puert-," started Sancho.
"What ever," said Nyx. "Does it look like I give a crap what you are? The point is, I was trapped alone in a fucking isolation tube for more that ten years, with some stupid little shit telling me that my face is stupid as my last memory of normal healthy, human, interaction."
The nanobot laced water was seeping into the elevator faster now. It was beginning to close in around their feet.
Sancho knelt down so that he was eye level with Nyx.
"I'm really sorry, Nyx," he said.
"Your sorry?" scoffed Nyx. "Your sorry? Well that's too bad isn't it? Because sorry doesn't make either of us any less dead."
"No really, Nyx, I know it isn't worth much, but if I could go back in a time machine or something and stop myself from doing that, I would," said Sancho. He gestured toward his artificial leg. "My leg was amputated when I was an infant, so I don't really remember what it felt like to have it removed, but...people treat you differently when they think of you as being crippled. My mom couldn't pay for a very good prosthesis, so I didn't walk very well, or very fast, sometimes not even in a strait line. There was this really crappy motor in the knee, and sometimes it would just stop working for no reason and I would fall over. I didn't want people to feel sorry for me, so I guess I became kind of a jerk so that they would hate me instead. Hey, Nyx?"
"Why did you say you only 'used to be' a human being?" said Sancho.
"Humanity is horrible," said Nyx. "It's the most horrible race of semi-intelligent life in the galaxy. I might have been one of them once, but that was the past. I'm something different now. Something better."
"So your trying to say that having artificial limbs makes you a different species?" said Sancho.
Nyx's eyes narrowed again, and she continued her explanation without acknowledging Sancho's question.
"Do you know how many human beings I've killed?" she said. "Professor Membrane used to make me kill his test subjects as a way of testing my abilities, and they would scream as I ripped them apart...'holy shit-oh holy fucking shit! What that fuck is that thing! Oh god! Oh no! Oh nooo!' These were the only conversations I had for years, but occasionally the professor would talk to me, and he gave me books to read. For years I obeyed his commands. I tortured and mutilated his enemies in any way that he wanted me to, until one day...I broke free. I escaped from the professor's laboratory, and then from the wretched spinning ball of filth that is the planet Earth."
Nyx paused for dramatic effect. Her amber eyes sparkled with delight, as she anticipated the retelling of the events to follow.
"But my blood lust was never satisfied," she concluded darkly. Her orangey-yellow irises locked onto Sancho's brown ones and she stared him down, but Sancho didn't flinch or back away in the manner that I expected him to. Instead, his eyes went slightly unfocussed as he continued to watch her, his expression curious and sympathetic.
"In the years that followed, I exterminated many human beings." Nyx continued. "Not because they were enemies of Membrane, but because I wanted to kill them. To me it wasn't much like murder it was more like...extermination. I crushed them, burned them, drowned them, stabbed them, suffocated them...but It was never enough. There were always more of them, no matter how many I killed, there were always more. That's why I entered the Battle Royal Competition. The winner gets to ask the Tallests for a favor...My favor was going to be the annihilation of planet Earth."
"Well, the Earth's not all bad...," said Sancho. "There's um...no that kind of sucks...but there's still...no wait that kind of sucks too...hold on, I'll think of something."
Nyx slammed her head back against the side of the elevator.
"I have half a mind to put a bullet in my head right now and put myself out of my misery," she said.
"...Puppies," said Sancho.
"What?" said Nyx.
"Everyone loves puppies, right?"
"Other planets have them," replied Nyx dismissively.
"Oh," said Sancho. "I guess I'll have to think of something else then. Um...pea soup?"
"I hate pea soup," said Nyx. "Almost as much as I hate you."
Nyx stood up to avoid coming into contact with the growing puddle of o-bot infected ocean water. She pressed herself against the back of the elevator, watching as it circled around her, coming closer and closer to her toes. Then suddenly she began to laugh.
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" she cackled, almost maniacally. She pointed at Sancho's underwear and continued to laugh. "Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha HA HA! Were you wearing that this entire time?"
Sancho looked down at his boxer shorts, which were black and had a pattern of tiny white skulls printed on them. He blushed.
"Hey, this is what I had on when they abducted me!" he objected. "It's not like I planned to wear this."
"Pah ha ha HA HA HA!" cackled Nyx. "Why did it take me so long to notice how stupidly you were dressed? I can't believe I almost died without laughing at your underwear! Ha ha ha HA! Your underwear is stupid."
I groaned and crunched my insect legs up against my body. This was taking much too long, and I was becoming impatient.
"Ughh!" I exclaimed, as I jumped from the ceiling of the elevator to the carpet. I was only vaguely aware, of the quick transformation I underwent in mid Jump. "You're taking way too long to die!"
A pair of large, green, paws hit the floor of the elevator, spraying the two humans with nanobot infected ocean water. There was a lot of confused screaming. Some of it was probably mine. I could feel myself growing taller, my skin was turning a deep acid green, a set of jagged, dripping, yellow fangs burst forth from my mouth, piercing my own gums. Then, before I was even consciously aware of what was happening, the top of my form busted through the ceiling of the elevator, sending the thick metal plate above my head flying.
I looked down and discovered that I had transformed into the hideous test subject that the Irken's so affectionately referred to as "Lucifer", a fifty foot high beast with slimy green skin and paw-like extremities.
Sancho and Nyx, had similar propulsion devices built into their prosthetic legs. They shot upward, easily escaping the elevator just as the ceiling was ripped from the structure.
I roared as I swung one of my massive paws, attempting to bat them out of the air, but I found it difficult to maneuver in such as small space, my paw crashed against the side of the elevator shaft, leaving a vast paw-shaped crater in its metal surface. I roared as my skin began to turn red and a pair of narrow, barbed wings, sprung from my shoulders. In a manor of moments, I was small enough to escape the elevator, and I flew upward quickly, discovering the square of yellow light that must have been the entrance to the elevator shaft.
I stepped out, onto the thirteenth floor, oddly grateful for the feel of the moldy grey carpet beneath my claws.
"You never told me where the door was, Sancho," I heard Nyx voice accuse in a cold monotone.
"How do you even know that I know where it is?" accused Sancho's voice indignantly.
"I'm a machine," explained Nyx dismissively. "I pick up frequencies. Now where's the goddamn door?"
I crept quietly past the large metal door, that Sancho had locked to trap Skullene. It creaked eerily as I passed, and I turned briefly, realizing that the door was currently wide open. The lock looked as though it had been singed black with a laser gun, and there was a slender boot print stamped on the inside of it, giving me the impression that the door had been kicked open. I moved quickly past the door, incase Skullene was still inside the room, waiting for me to come within range of her pistol.
I darted up the steps, and saw Sancho and Nyx standing on the next floor. Sancho was mumbling something about Earth that I couldn't quite hear. Nyx had her laser cannon pointed at him and was threatening to blow his head off.
"I'll show you where the door is!" he shouted as soon as he saw me bounding up the steps toward them. "Follow me!"
He turned and ran. Nyx darted after him.
"Where are you going?" she yelled. "Get back here so I can blow your fucking head off!"
Nyx didn't seem to have noticed me, which was good, because I was bounding quickly up the steps, growing closer and closer to her as she ran. I swung my one of my talons, slicing the skin on her organic leg into ribbons. She spun around and kicked me hard in the stomach with her metal foot, sending me crashing against the steps.
I flapped my wings a few times, hovering briefly in the air, before launching myself at her again. My talons became tangled in her short tresses, and I ripped at her scalp sending rivulets of red goo down the front of her head. She jumped and did a quick backwards summersault, and in an instant the bottom of her metal foot was on top of me, crushing me against one of the steps. A flame shot out from her foot, burning my face.
My skin was melting, sliding down my face like the gross red goo that was currently dripping down the android's chin and staining the front of her white shirt. She turned and continued to dart up the steps. I melted into a red puddle.
"No," I thought. "No, not again!"
The puddle shifted, and I thought of Quel again, her big hazel eyes, stared back at me from my mind's eye, they seemed to beg me. "Please," I heard her voice whisper from the recesses of my memory. "...Please...avenge my murder."
I screamed and my puddle like form, became solid, I was one of Quel's people again, and the power of the ocean was mine to yield. I willed the water to rise quickly, and it became a vast rushing wave that moved up the stairways as quickly as my translucent blue legs could ascend the steps.
My consciousness filled the stairway rushing quickly upward, until finally, I was on floor twenty-seven. A laser hit me between the eyes and I was knocked backward. I felt myself lose control of the ocean water and it receded back to floor twenty-six. Then my blue body dissolved and quickly began to reshaping itself. I was transforming into the massive green beast that the Irkens called "Lucifer" but this time I didn't care. The ceiling was high on this floor, and there was plenty space for me to pounce and maneuver. It was an ideal shift.
I roared and bounded forward swiping my paw outward in an attempt to slash the wielder of the laser pistol, a slender, blue-eyed, Irken female. Scullene easily dodged my blow. She rolled out of the way and removed her twin blades from her belt charging toward a second Irken, who I recognized immediately as Benedict.
Benedict grinned evilly. He was brandishing a pair of bloody surgical scalpels, and humming an eerie melody that I didn't quite recognize, it was one of those human songs that he was so fond of, or perhaps even one that he was making up as he went along.
"Little girls...little girls," he sang, as Skullene swung her twin daggers, and he ducked, narrowly avoiding a decapitation. "So fun and easy to kill...I'll cut your eyes out, and eat your heart- stab you with daggers-that's the fun part! You're bloody as sirloin and pretty as pearls...little girls...little girls!
He seemed to be taunting her. The twin daggers swung at him again and he ducked, continuing with a second verse of his gruesome song.
"You said it would be here!" I heard Nyx shout. I swung my tail in the direction of her voice, and attempted to knock her into a wall.
She dodged my tail and flew at Sancho, kneeing him hard in the groin. Sancho yelped and fell to his knees, cupping his balls protectively. I swung my tail at him and the back of his head collided with a wall. He collapsed forward, onto the carpet and a trickle of blood poured down from his hair, dripping over the back of his neck. He shivered briefly and then went still.
One down. Three to go.
I turned my attention toward Nyx, who had darted to the other side of the room, in order to assist Skullene. Her bloody blue tresses flew behind her as she jumped into the air and her foot collided with Benedict's face, putting an abrupt end to his sadistic song. He went flying across the room, and his body ricocheted off of a wall. Yet somehow he managed to land on his feet. This was a useful ability that Irken's tend to possess, and Benedict was certainly no exception.
I swung my paw again and hit Nyx in the face. She fell backward, and staggered quickly to her feet.
"Little girls...little girls..."Benedict sang. "So lovely and wonderful still-I'll slice out your tongues and rip off your ears! Pierce you with needles-lick off your tears! Your as lovely as sunshine and as delicious as squirrels...little girls...little girls!"
"I'll kill you!" Skullene shrieked in Benedict's direction, jumping into the air and bringing her blades down in a wide arch.
Skullene's blades left deep fissures in Benedict's green face, but this didn't seem to deter him. He jumped backward, still humming the melody of his song. He jumped again, this time in order to reach a black switch that was built into the wall behind him. His green fingers closed around the switch and he forced it into the on position. There was the sound of metal gears turning, and a rectangular piece of wall moved, revealing a hidden door. Benedict landed on his feet in front of it.
Nyx fired her laser cannon at me, and they hit me in the chest, creating two large, circular singe marks in my skin. I roared and clubbed her in the head with one of my massive paws. She collapsed onto the floor.
"I'm sorry my lovely lady, but I do believe that you were supposed to have drowned to death," said Benedict as Skullene advanced on him. Her expression was dangerous, but his smile didn't flicker for even a moment. "Looks like I'll be keeping my sandwich."
"Call me 'your lovely lady' one more time," growled Skullene. "Just one more time. See what happens."
Skullene charged at Benedict with her blades, and he ducked quickly out of the way. The first swing nicked his forehead.
"I'm not 'your fair lady'," she said.
She swung again and sliced his cheek. He stabbed her with one of his surgical scalpels but this didn't seem to slow her down.
"I'm not 'Marry Poppins'," she said
She swung a third time and chopped off his right antenna.
"I'm not your 'sunshine', your 'sweet heart', your 'dirty little secret', or 'Miss American Pie'!" she shouted.
She lunged toward him, bringing her blades down around his midriff in an attempt to slice him in half.
"Come on Roxanne," sneered Benedict, still grinning. "You don't have to put on the red light."
Benedict opened the door and attempted to escape through it. Skullene charged forward and her slender boot connected with his stomach, knocking him through the frame of the door. She ran in after him still shouting and brandishing her weapons.
Nyx stood up slowly, blood was dripping from her mouth, and she made a grotesque gargling noise in her throat as she coughed up more of the gooey red liquid and it spilled down the front of her white shirt.
I intercepted her as she limped toward the door. In all honesty, Benedict's little song about the delicious sirloin stake girls was making me hungry for human flesh. In my current form, it was a very real desire. Sure the cyborg girl was mostly metal, but I could always bite off her head. Mmmm...her delicious brain trapped in her skull like a nut in a shell, waiting to be cracked. I suddenly remembered why I had tried to avoid turning into "Lucifer" in the first place. His hunger was insatiable.
My jaws opened wide, as my mouth descended upon her head, salivating. She was too weak to resist me. Too close to death. I closed my eyes, prepared to bite down and sever her neck.
My lips closed around cold steel. Then a flair shot through my neck, burning my insides so that they melted and boiled. I evaporated into a formless grey cloud.
Sancho was standing there in front of me, holding what he had referred to as a "flair gun" in his previous conversation with Benedict, though I doubted very much that this was actually what it was. Clearly it was something Irken engineered and very powerful. He held it out in front of him, aiming it at my formless consciousness.
"You were pretending to be dead!" I shouted, and my voice appeared as a telepathic imprint on the minds of the conscious organisms in the room.
"Were I come from they call that playing possum," he said.
He clicked the gun a second time. Nothing happen. The grin slipped off his face, and was replaced by an expression of terror.
"Um...uh oh," he said. He backed away from my formless consciousness looking apologetic.
I began to swirl myself into a seething grey cyclone.
"Run, Nyx!" Sancho shouted. "Run! Go to the door!"
Nyx didn't answer. She had fallen on the ground, and I figured she must have had some pretty serious internal bleeding, because the red sticky liquid continued to pour from her mouth, staining the grey carpet a deep, rusty, burgundy.
"Aw, you like that girl, Sancho? You should know that I loved a girl too once," I said as I willed the cyclone into a faster cycle. "You want to know what happened to her?...YOU KILLED HER!"
I willed the cyclone to circle around Sancho, lifting him into the air and smashing him repeatedly against the walls of the building. Then I let him fall. He landed in a pile of jagged metal debris.
He stood slowly, shaking from head to toe. An ugly purple splotch was spreading on his forehead. And I noted with satisfaction that it was accompanied by a number of fresh bruises around his arms and torso.
"That really fucking hurt," he growled.
"What's a matter, Sancho?" I crooned mockingly. "Are all of these little alien forms of mine too challenging for you?...Here's a little something more your speed."
I willed the cyclone to condense into a human form, a tall, gaunt, Hispanic man in his early forties, with wild grey hair and dead looking brown eyes. He wore a pair of grey boxer shorts and a mustard-stained wife beater. I thought the broken whisky bottle he had clutched in his right hand was a particularly nice touch.
"What's a matter, Sancho?" I growled in the old man's dry, heavily accented voice. "Are you too much of a fucking, pussy, cripple to fight your old man?"
Sancho pointed at me and took a step backward.
"That's-that's not fair!" he stuttered in disbelief. "Change into something else..."
"I'm tired of you always fucking bothering me all the time, Sancho." I said, brandishing the broken bottle threateningly. "You're eight-teen, now. It's time for you to get a fucking job."
My impression of Sancho's father was based on what I had seen in Akarivic's documentary, and based on Sancho's reaction to my performance, I think it was safe to say that my rendition was fairly accurate.
"St-stop it," said Sancho. "Stop it, change into anything else."
I staggered lazily over to him and punched him in the face. He staggered backward, grimacing and clutching his jaw.
"That's it," he said. "Now you fucking die."
"Hey, watch your fucking language," I warned ironically, still speaking in Sancho's father's voice.
"Fuck you!" Sancho screamed.
He punched me in the face. My neck turned and my head was forced sideways. I felt the bone in my jaw snap.
I swung at him again and my blow landed on his already blackened eye. His metal prostisis swung upward, striking me in the crotch. I yelled out in pain and fell to the ground. I couldn't believe how much that hurt and, before he could manage to get back on my feet, Sancho began kicking me repeatedly in the stomach. I began to cough up that same nasty, red fluid that had oozed from the cyborg girl so incessantly. It spilled out over my mouth and down my chin, mingling with the mustard stains on my shirt, and finally spilling out over the grey carpet. So a young man was stronger than an old man. Who knew?
I shifted again. My body grew plump and my hair darkened, as it snaked down my widening shoulders. The boxer shorts and wife beater were replaced by a sleeveless white dress with a yellow trim. The broken whiskey bottle became a jar with a deformed fetus floating in it.
Sancho stopped kicking me immediately. His mouth fell open and his eyes grew wide with remorse.
"S-sancho," I stuttered, one of my plump hands moved to cradle the wooden crucifix that was tied around my neck. Blood continued to pour out over my lips and it quickly stained the white dress red. "Why have you turned on your mother? Why must you hurt me in this way?"
Sancho stared down at me with a look of confusion and horror. He didn't move or speak.
"You know, mijo," I said, bringing the jarred fetus to my chest and cradling it as though it were a live infant. "When twins are born, there is always one good twin, and one evil one, with a wicked soul, claimed by the devil at birth. Your brother must have been the good twin, Sancho...because you are the evil one."
"Die, bitch!" I heard someone scream, and in an instant I was disintegrated by one of Nyx's laser cannons.
I let myself evaporate, briefly, so as to properly observe the scene. Nyx was standing in the middle of the room, her clothes were still stained with blood, but her body seemed to have healed itself of its injuries.
"You..." Sancho began, staring at her in disbelief.
"Well, yea, your not the only one who can play possum, are you," said Nyx. "It's nothing personal. Just didn't want to walk out of this owing you my life."
My consciousness condensed and in an instant, I became a vast, scaly, fire breathing lizard, with long, crooked talons, and razor tipped wings.
Nyx hovered briefly and launched her laser cannons at my shoulders. My wings were instantly severed from my body. They feel to the ground with a wet thud. I opened the beast's fanged mouth and it made an earsplitting noise, like the grading of teeth, magnified to a million times its normal volume. This was a subconscious radio frequency, a sound wave that kills nanobots and causes advanced machines to malfunction.
Nyx's headphones rattled. Her electronic appendages went limp, and she fell like something inanimate.
I shot a stream of fire in Sancho's direction and he ran to avoid being barbequed, then strolled lazily over to him and struck him with my barbed tail. It hit him in the chest, knocking him from his feet. The barbs became tangled in his skin, and he was trapped. I flicked my tail smashing him against the ceiling of the room.
Nyx got to her feet. She stared over from her side of the room with a morose expression. I could tell that she was deciding whether or not she should attempt to strike me again.
"Run, Nyx," Sancho shouted, between cries of pain as I continued to smash him against the ceiling. "Before it makes that sound again, run for the door."
Nyx stared at him for a moment. The nanobots in her body began to repair the bruises on her face, and in an instant her skin became as smooth and pale as it had been previously.
"It doesn't want you" he shouted. "It wants me! Run for the door!"
Nyx shrugged her shoulders indifferently and strolled over to the door.
"Nyx, wait!" Sancho shouted.
Nyx turned just as her pale fingers had closed around the door handle and she was about to walk through it.
"What?" she said, in an annoyed voice.
"If you win..." he coughed as my tail swung downward smashing him against the floor. "If you win...p-promise you won't destroy the Earth!"
Nyx gridded her teeth in irritation. Her left eye was developing a violent twitch.
"This doesn't change anything? Do you hear me? Nothing!" shouted Nyx as she opened the door and stepped through it. "I promise nothing!"
My tail twisted around Sancho's torso, constricting his lungs. I grinned as the fight seemed to go out of him, and he stopped struggling, having resigned himself to death.
(End of chapter three.)
Author's note: The narrative style in this is a little experimental for me. I wanted to distinguish Cal's voice from Akarivik's to give you a feel for the different personalities of the narrators. Akarivik is very structured and literary, intellectual almost to the point of being pompous. Cal is more disorganized. He uses the word "and" a lot because to him everything kind of runs into everything else. The narrative is meant to flow in away that suggests that it's chaotic and constantly changing in the same way that Cal is. Well, anyway, that's what I was trying to do. I'll let you be the judge of if I actually did it or not. I could probably make this story a lot better with a little editing, but I'm kind of tired now. I just clocked about 20,000 words, which officially makes this story longer than god. (I'm assuming that god is long. Don't ask me how I know this.) Anyway, if Sancho lives he will have a scar on his chest from the barbs inCal's tail, so I will be having those bonus points now. Do I have my bonus points? Yes? Good.