A/N: Just a little something I decided to cook up while battling writer's block. Most of these aren't really my headcannons, but whatevz.
It goes withot saying that I own nothing, but it's better to be safe than sorry...
OFF and Batter belong to Mortis Ghost, and Magic Pipe is composed by Alias Conrad Coldwood.
I don't own you either, dear elusory interlocutor.;)
"Good job. You're almost there." Batter encouraged in his usual bland, emotionless tone.
Still ten rungs down the ladder, his Puppeteer clung to the object for dear life. They were hyperventilating, breaking out in a cold sweat, and white knuckled; the reason for this being that they were deathly afraid of heights. For perhaps the hundredth time since beginning the long, arduous trip upwards, they cursed the picturesque jumping jack for forcing them to climb up the insanely tall factory chimney of Zone 3's sugar plant with him.
"I'm going to slap you after this," they hissed through teeth clenched close to what felt like breaking point.
"As you wish." Batter shrugged, irritating the Player with his flippant attitude.
"You're gonna wish I didn't," they muttered, hesitantly climbing those last, painful, ten rungs of the ladder. They crawled onto the lip of the massive chimney on all fours towards Batter. The baseball clad purifier was standing with his usual straight poise, clearly not in any way affected by the height and thinness of the chimney lip. His head was tilted downwards, baseball cap shadowing his eyes as he observed the inside of the chimney. Gingerly and hyperaware of the danger of falling, the Player shifted to a sitting position. Their legs dangled over the dark inside of the chimney lip and the white knuckled grip made a return. "There. I climbed your stupid giant death trap. Happy?"
"I am pleased that you are conquering your fear, yes." He said mildly, not taking his eyes from the sweet smelling abyss beneath him. The Player followed his line of vision. Their heart immediately began to sink. "Wh-what now?" They asked, knowing that they would soon regret the action. Batter turned his whole body to face his Puppeteer. He locked his piercing red eyes onto theirs. "We jump," was his straightforward reply.
"Wait! What are-" the Player's words suddenly dissolved into an undignified yelp as the monochrome baseball player picked them up under the armpits. He heaved the whimpering and pleading Puppeteer to their feet and hugged them to his chest. They were so close it could almost be considered spooning. But there was little time for them to dwell on this fact, as Batter murmured a countdown from three then jumped.
The effect this had on the Player was instantaneous.
They screamed at the top of their lungs and began to flail about, hitting their puppet numerous times as they did so.
"Stop that," Batter scolded, voice raised just enough to be heard over the hot wind rushing around them both. "Do you want me to drop you?"
That stopped the wild thrashing.
A scared whimper rose from the Player's throat and little else.
"Relax. This is nothing," Batter assured them, to which they barked out a high, thin laugh.
"To you maybe... But for me, this is hell! I mean seriously, who in their right mind jumps down such a massive ass chimney without a parachute or anything?! We're gonna die, Batter! I hope you're happy, you jerk!"
Batter was silent during this ranting tirade, but as soon as it was over he asked: "Do you trust me?"
Twisting their head to glance at him, the Player grinned shakily. "I bloody well have to, don't I, since my life is in your hands. Besides, we're in this together, right?"
Some unnameable emotion crossed Batter's permanently blank features briefly before the emotionless mask resettled. "Yes. Together," he confirmed.
Was that a hint of sadness in his voice?
The Player shoved the thought to the back of their mind.
Not getting splattered first, Batter interrogation later.
"So what's the plan?" The Puppeteer shouted above the whistling of the fragrant, steadily heating air. Before the purifier could answer, the familiar malicious giggling of spectres echoed about the free-falling duo.
Batter cursed under his breath for forgetting this part of the game, however briefly. On the other hand, the Player looked scared. Rightly so, seeing as Batter's trusty weapon of purification was strapped to his back, leaving him defenceless and unable to attack. ... Unless he dropped the Player.
The thought made them shudder.
Batter's voice suddenly cut through their negative train of thought. "I'm going to slow us down with the help of the Add Ons. Stay alert and help me keep track of the spectres."
How Alpha and Omega could help in such a manner, the Puppeteer did not know. Yet they trusted Batter and his judgement, so nodded in assent.
Ghostly shapes began peeking out from the sides of the chimney and the laughter of the spectres rose in pitch, an occasional 'ah ah' uttered every so often. The ghosts disappeared. For the moment anyway.
The giant tattoo like marks on Batter's back began to glow brightly, illuminating the back of his baseball tunic with an almost heavenly light. With a slight grunt of pain on his part, Alpha and Omega peeled themselves from off his skin and passed through his tunic like smoke. Both Add Ons hovered on either side of the purifier and his Puppeteer for a few seconds before abruptly whizzing away.
"Hey! What gives?! I thought they were supposed to be helping us!"
A spectre suddenly loomed into view, mere inches from the Player. They yelped, instinctively curling their limbs closer to avoid touching the ectoplasm, which by now had disappeared, leaving behind fading giggles.
"I told you to be on alert." Batter chastised mildly. He leaned left, moving them away from a trio of spectres that had made an appearance.
"S-sorry!" Apologised the Puppeteer, quickly assuming scouting duty. They immediately hit a stroke of luck. "Batter," they exclaimed excitedly. "I see Alpha in the upper right corner!"
Wasting no time, the purifier veered in the indicated direction, crimson eyes trained on the glowing ring hovering in place. Just as the pair were about to reach the Add On, it flinched and whizzed to the other side of the chimney, a spectre hot on its metaphorical heels. There was no time to lament their loss as more spectres were popping up around them and Batter had to dodge and manoeuvre around them quickly to avoid injury. The Player flinched in surprise when Omega unexpectedly materialised underneath them. Immediately, the rush of stifling hot, sweet scented air became less intense. They were slowing.
Omega whizzed away moments before a set of sharp teeth buried themselves into Batter's shoulder. A yell of pain escaped his lips and his grip on the Player loosened, causing them to slip away from his temporarily loosened grasp. They yelped in mingled surprise and fear; uselessly scrabbling at the air for purchase.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Alpha buried itself into the middle of the spectre's back. The ectoplasm shrieked its death throe and disintegrated.
Grinding his teeth, Batter quickly pulled his Puppeteer back to his chest, ignoring the crunch of pain in his shoulder, and positioned himself above Alpha's glowing form. The duo slowed even further.
Traumatised, the Player dug their fingers into the monochromatic man's forearms painfully. They were sobbing, shoulders heaving. He didn't complain.
As the saying goes, there's no rest for the wicked. This of course applied to the free-falling duo, who had to quickly resume dodging spectres and hovering over the Add Ons.
Six instances of hovering over glowing rings later and Batter declared that they only had to repeat this twice more to land safely. Easier said than done.
As the number of times the duo hovered over the Add Ons to slow increased, so too did the agitation of the spectres. With each success on the purifying pair's part, the speed and aggression of the spectres became worse. As a result, there were numerous close calls of coming into contact with the malevolent spirits and Alpha and Omega were herded out of reach for longer and longer periods of time; something they were quickly running out of, if the now sweltering heat was of any indication.
"Back!" The Player barked, to which their picturesque jumping jack obeyed. Mere moments later, the cheated spectre they had just escaped from gnashed its sharp teeth in their direction before disappearing to lie in wait and test its luck again. Sensing the end to their downward trip was, literally, fast approaching, Alpha and Omega began desperately buzz-sawing themselves through the spectres. The logic was: the less spectres causing trouble, the quicker they could help slow their falling comrades. It seemed to be working fairly decently, as the two Add Ons were zipping about a lot freer and faster.
"Hurry!" Batter snapped at the glowing rings, conscious of the fact that his Puppeteer seemed to be mumbling what sounded like their Last Will and Testament.
"... and my friends can have my secret stash of chocolate..."
Alpha continued slashing through spectres whilst Omega whizzed underneath the purifying pair, further slowing their descent, but had to dance out of the way of a spectre right afterwards.
The end destination of their descent, a burning orange and red circle that glowed like a fire, was now much clearer in view.
"One more to go." Batter informed his feverishly muttering Puppeteer.
If they heard him they gave no indication. They merely continued to mumble their Will. "... maybe if I give my dog to... Nah, that guy's a jerk. What about..."
The Player's musing came to an abrupt end in the form of another flesh hungry spectre. The malevolent spirit, angry that it and its brethren were failing to stop the free-falling duo, shrieked and sunk its teeth into their leg, drawing a loud scream of pain from the Puppeteer. Seeing as Puppet and Puppeteer were linked, Batter not only felt their pain, he glitched violently. The glitch temporarily made him as intangible as smoke, causing the Player to slip from his grasp.
"BATTEEEEEEEEER!" They screamed, flailing and falling faster.
[You must protect your Puppeteer at all costs.] The purifier's programming insisted.
"I can't do that if I glitch, damn you!" Batter snarled in annoyance, half glitching into his Bad form before solidifying and appearing as normal. Determined not to waste any more precious time, he tucked his arms close to his sides, streamlining towards his distressed Player. Said Player tumbled head over heels; screaming and stretching their arms as far as physically possible towards him. Batter stretched his own arms ahead of him, looking like a bizarre imitation of Superman, which might have been funny if the Player wasn't plummeting to their imminent doom.
"Alpha! Omega! Catch _!" Ordered the purifier. Both Add Ons zoomed past him to intercept the Puppeteer. Each Add On tucked itself under one of the Player's shoulders. Sobbing with relief, they gripped the spherical beings tightly, which heaved upwards with all their might. Their downward descent slowed, but not by much.
Moments later, Batter bulleted towards them and the Add Ons flew out from the Player's armpits so that he could hug them to the safety of his chest once more.
"I've got you. It's okay now," he assured, as monotonous as ever, despite what had just transpired. The Puppeteer sobbed with heartfelt relief, burying their face into his sculpted chest. Tears were already dampening the purifier's baseball tunic.
Below them both, the Add Ons were ready to be hovered over and below them the fiery patch glowed threateningly. By now the air was stifling and the scent of sugar headache inducing.
"Ten." Batter announced as the Add Ons slowed them even further down. "We're going to be fine."
No reply from the Player. Their face remained buried in his tunic, unwilling to face the incoming rush of the ground.
Their job accomplished, Alpha and Omega once more became one with Batter. He winced slightly, rolling his shoulders at the familiar pain. Then, tucking up his body as best as he could whilst holding a passenger, Batter executed a clean, professional, front flip. This unexpected action elicited a fearful yelp from the Player and the digging of their rigid fingers into his skin. Batter's shoes hit the ground; a very audible thud marking his landing.
Gently, he pried the Player's fingers from his skin and set them next to him on blessed solid ground. He kept his arm extended towards them for support since they looked rather unsteady. They clung to the limb gingerly, getting used to the feeling of standing again after that hellish ride down the chimney. Once they felt sturdier, the Player released the Puppet's arm to stand on their own.
Batter took one look at his extremely pale and windswept Player and asked: "Are you okay?"
As promised, the Puppeteer slapped him.
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!:D