[01-04] Among Us on the Ark

Karl Jak

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End of Round 2

The ship lurched in the dark of space.

Karl had heard the audio, and unlike some of his employees, he did not doubt their truth. From the moment he had looked at the unsettling purple gas giant and its solitary moon, he had felt his stomach twist up and something in the most primordial segment of his brain shudder with cosmic terror.

The executive found himself wading down through back channels of the vessel. He was going alone now, having left Kevin to coordinate as best he could to the rest of those on the arc to head aft. Karl had seen too many universes and sneered through too many fourth walls to not have a few spare gods in the machine.

Literal screams wafted through the ventilation shafts of the machine as components of the ship shuddered to activate. Somewhere, someone had experienced a sliver of luck with trying to breathe life into the derelict vessel. As he wove his way through the blackened halls and stairwells, Karl could only help that enough plot armor protected his destination. If this journey ended in failure, then he may as well sit down and write the epilogue.

Round 3 Notes
  • Maya has been eliminated from final prize contention
  • Ronny will locate whatever will best help him against the enemy swarms (be that a weapon, a really durable clipboard, a crisp suit... you do you).
  • I'm just going to say that the round ends Friday (3/5) at midnight CST. That seems to be the best option for myself and all parties? If that's dragging the pace too much, I might tweak again, but I'll give a longer period of time in the hopes no one feels like they're scrambling in the wee hours.
  • Elimination =/= death
  • You have two rounds to: hear about the withdrawal plan and make your way to that portion of the vessel. Along the way, you should face challenges in the form of the monsters on the ship, people who have succumbed to their cabin fever, faulty portions of the ship blocking your passage. Get creative with how you navigate these dangers and how you hear about where to go. If you want to reach the portion of the ship ahead of time, you may do so. You would find Karl attempting to reinforce a portion of the vessel from aforementioned monsters.
 

Aku

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The rest standing outside of the electrical sector were utterly silent after the events of Joy finding two Syntech contracted protection. They stood still just in case if anyone or anything was going to be on Joy's trail. Not a single living thing stepped insight for the hulking Russian man and top-secret agent to spot. They just chilled in the meantime to see if the others were successful in fixing the main problem of this ship. Joy remained close to the two, sitting inside of electrical against a cold steel wall.

Still, part of her mind can't comprehend how her day has gone to complete shit, how the day was like any other typical day working at the Syntech facility hosting another exciting annual Dante's Abyss. She wasn't planning to witness a devasting event that came out of the left-field, ruining everyone's day including, Karl Jak. Joy takes her big-rounded glasses off and wipes them again with a piece of her shirt that the cloth didn't severely stain with someone else's blood. She sighs from the amount of stress that ways on her shoulders, from watching colleagues die before her to monsters chasing her in the pitch darkness.

Misha throws another log into the heated stove to keep their light source checked. In a second, electricity partially came back on in electrical, but most of the hallway outside of the sector remained pitch black. They can now see the progress that the others made for this vessel. Soon after, they regrouped with the three standing at the entrance of the sector. A collapsible small metal maintenance table set up with a big elaborate map that showed the ins and outs of the Syntech's Ark laid out on the cold metallic surface.

"Listen up, gang, we got some bad news and some good news to share." Harold pronounces everyone surrounding the table, all examining the map. "I want the bad news first." The RED brute merc requests looking up at Harold. "Bad news is that we were unsuccessful in getting the main power back online. The good news is we partially got it back working." The senior tech announces their work on fixing everything. Misha looks back on Della and sees she still has a chipper attitude even though they couldn't get everything to work, also noticing she found a little rat who remained on her shoulder perched up on his hind legs with a personality like Della.

"Comrade Duck, what is with tiny mouse?" Misha questions about the new rat she found while working the maintenance of electrical. "I found him snooping around and curious what was causing a stir while working. It turns out he can speak!" Della is excitedly presenting her new small furry rodent pal to the others.

"Le nom est Remy! Aussi grand gars, je suis un rat, pas une souris. Les deux sont très différents." The rat speaks up for everyone to hear, nearly shocking half the group, talking fluently in a different language.

"Svyatoy Lenin! The rat can talk!?!" the heavy weapons expert is shocked by the rodent replying to the brutish-built human. "Yeppers! He can talk for sure! Anyways, at least we got the power to sort of work thanks to my smart thinking that helped the fellas, here!" Della excitedly explains, trying to keep her body still from all the excitement, so her little friend doesn't fall. "Jeepers, What an astonishing find!" Joy becoming surprised along with Misha, stepping close to Della and examining the rat named Remy.

Remy waves slightly back Joy with an awkward smile on his face, realizing he's becoming the center of attention. "Sadly, I wish I know what he was saying a moment ago." Joy explains with a little disappointment in her voice, not understanding the language the rat spoke. "I know, right! By the way, I haven't seen you before. What's your name?" the space pilot duck, curious of this new stranger who wasn't present before. On top of that, what was going on with her appearance making it look like she came off a horror movie set.

"Oh! Sorry for not introducing myself earlier. My name is Joy." The human female Syntech staff member apologizes right away to Della. "No worries! I'm Della!" the tech-savvy duck introduces herself as they shook hands kindly.

Meanwhile, the heavy weapons guy figures the language that the rat spoke. "I know mouse's language. It is French. I don't know French either." Misha replies, solving the rat's ethnicity, making both Della and Joy even more excited for the little rat-like schoolgirls.

"AHEM!"

Harold coughs, grabbing the group's attention back, and his face fills with the seriousness of how their situation is becoming.

"Listen, now is not the time to worry about little things. We need to focus on the big picture that is going on right now as we speak. Now, while we were working on maintenance, I received a message while working on the communications relay, and it came from Karl Jak himself." Harold mentions, grabbing a good hold on everyone's attention what he has to say. "There's a withdrawal plan commencing as we speak, and he's signaling everyone to make it at this specific destination on the Ark." The senior tech mentions while pointing at a specific spot on the complex map. A sector on the other far side of the ship where they stood, now making it a journey for them to embark.

"It seems like a new safe zone they are attempting to establish or, better yet, a place to evacuate the folks that attempt to follow the plan." Harold explains while everyone looks upon where the tech is pointing his finger on the map. Soon enough, Joy becomes cold and pale, seeing where Harold's finger is pointing. It suddenly captures their attention why she's looking funny at what the tech is going over.

"N-no! I-I can't go back through there!" Joy nervously yelps, sweating like a pig of the horrid memories that race across her mind. "It's suicide to go back into the lower levels to make it at that sector! Can't we find a detour to take for safety?" the damsel in glasses questions and dares not to go back where she was before.

"I'm sorry, Joy. There is no other option. Time is running short, and were all currently standing on a sinking ship in space! There's no telling how long the Ark can hold." Harold clarifies the doom of selecting a detour to take. "Then I refuse to go!" Joy rebukes him and the rest of the group, creating doubt of survival for this plan. Before Harold can speak a word, an idea goes off inside Misha's head. "Ideya, on the way before we have to descend the lower levels, we make pit stop to gear up at this armory." the RED merc points out on the map, where the armory conveniently placed before they reach the descent to the lower levels of the ship.

"Why that specific armory than the others before that one?" Harold was confused on why the hulking Russian man picked that one.

"Because Sasha is sleeping there. I need her if you want great protection. Sure, I love using my muscles to kill anything with big hands, but I don't want to leave here without her." Misha is extremely serious about why he pointed out to reaching that armory. "All right, fine, we make a pit stop there to gear up before we make our way through the lower levels." Harold adds on to their plan, semi-persuading Joy to tag along, but she surely knows deep down she does not want to be left behind alone. While they talk amongst themselves, Perry feels odd, as if something isn't right here as before but doesn't let it get the best of him. This feeling was attached to him when they all met up after Harold, Claude, and Della finished trying to fix the power. A wrong kind of aurora is in the air now, but solving it isn't his main priority currently. His eyes shift back and forth, squinting suspiciously.

After discussing the route, they will be taking on the map, Harold folds the large paper map up and stuffs it in his back pocket.

"That settles it then, let's move out." the senior master electrician tech announces to the rest of the group as they all come to an agreement that now is the time to embark.

The RED mercenary gets behind the stove, grabbing the handlebar that appears tiny to his brute hands, and pushes the burning fiery stove forward as they move away from electrical. Joy, Della, and Remy remain at the front of the group while Harold walked alongside Misha. Claude and Perry trail along behind the moving stove while the top-secret bipedal platypus agent remained on guard if something or someone flanked them. Their light source illuminated a small portion of the darkened hall as they pass on through. Perry, for an odd reason, had his eyes focused on Claude while they walked.

The younger technician noticed as Perry gave him that same look before when he first met Claude and Harold, blowing his cover.

"What's the matter, Platy Bond? You're losing the pace with us." Claude speaks, looking back at Perry, concerned about why Agent P. still got to give him that stern look.
 

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It felt like hours, even though in reality it had been minutes at most.

Frantic running from some unknown terror in near complete darkness as it scrabbled and clawed about in the vents and passages out of sight was a fine reason to lose track of time. Droog could count himself lucky for remaining composed enough to realize it had only been a few minutes, and not descend into complete exhausted madness and lose all track of time, but even he was running out of steam and composure to keep drawing on. This was getting very old, very quickly.

They were inevitably, however, forced to take an impromptu reprieve when they collectively tore around a corner only to come face to face with a sealed door. Taking a moment to vent his frustrations, the gangster literally threw himself at it bodily with a hefty clang of impact, and proceeded to savagely beat on it with one fist after another. He had long since spent and discarded his last lit cigarette, and his now empty maw was split wide in a fang-bearing scowl as he sucked in and hissed out heavy breath after heavy breath, for nearly twenty full seconds before his fury was spent and he just sagged against the portal, stumbling off to one side toward the wall.

"The fuck was that about?" the reporter was the one to speak up and voice the obvious question.

"Mind your own fuckin' business," the dersite growled in response. "This entire thing is too much of a mess...it wore down my last nerve a long time ago."

"Oooookay...." Trent muttered, just shaking his head. "I guess this whole thing is a bit more than we all signed up for, but—"

"If you start on some kind of 'just calm down and keep it together' therapy bullshit," the gangster seethed through clenched teeth, "I swear to god I fill feed you your own eyeballs." he irritably jerked his head toward the door. "You're with the crew that owns this damn ship, right? Do your damn job and get this door open before we get more company."

"Look here, you—" the Syntech employee sputtered indignantly, taking a step forward and tightening his grip on the rifle he still held.

In a flash, the seemingly exhausted mobster was on his feet again, milky-white eyes nearly bugging out of his head as he lunged forward with clawed carapace-covered fingers leading the way. It was only the timely intervention of Tommy, interposing himself between the brewing conflict. "Enough." One hand latched onto Trent's rifle, and the elbow of his opposite arm cracked into the carapacian's chest, and with a solid shove he sent them both sprawling to opposite sides of the hall. "Both of you calm way the hell down. Getting wound up like that is the last thing we need to do right now." He glanced briefly aside. "Kristen, right? Do you two actually know how to get these doors open?"

"If...if the power was on, maybe?" she responded hesitantly, and almost as if on cue the vessel lurched and shuddered around and beneath them.

"Looks like somebody did something...think they got someone who knows a thing or two to electrical?" Liberty offered, doing his best to keep his tone nice and level to prevent any more flare-ups from anyone.

"Maybe." Tommy finally relaxed just slightly, standing back up in proper posture. "Try and get these doors open. If we can't do it the right way, we'll force it; between us all, I think we'd have enough brute force."

"Who the fuck died and made you king of the chessboard?" Droog spat, while painstakingly adjusting and smoothing out his suit.

The former green ranger responded with a level, icy stare. "I'm not in charge here, but if you have a better idea beyond cursing at everyone and everything else, spit it out."

Droog spit something out alright. Quite literally, at Tommy's feet, before turning away to stalk a few paces down the hall as he fished out another smoke. Anything to try and help calm his nerves.

"That's what I thought." With a shake of his head, Tommy turned his attention back to the others.

In the brief orange-red flicker of his lighter, the face of Diamonds Droog was twisted into an almost carapace-cracking scowl of pure, unbridled fury. The moment they were back somewhere relatively safe...that was it.
 

Hisoka

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As sensitive as Mort's hearing was, even he was having trouble discerning between the cacophony echoing throughout the ship. The creak of stressed support beams. The groan of the ship's system struggling to continue working. The screech of shorn metal. The panicked screams of the survivors. And the nearly imperceptible moans of the dying. It all blended together into a sort of macabre melody as Mortimer passed by the ventilation duct.

It had been some time since he'd begun his march through the ship, but his mind retained its deranged focus. In the end, the ship would be overrun. Without their precious Omnilium, the survivors seemed unable to combat the scourge among them. And, of course they couldn't. Simple-minded creatures who, for all their combat prowess, skills, and 'morals', knew nothing of how to truly survive. But, Mort knew. He just needed to find the key before the creatures found him.

Almost as if on cue, the sound of frantic footsteps reached his ears. The intersection ahead of him brightened with a bobbing circle of light, seconds before the source scrambled around the corner. The man was practically choking on air, his chest heaving from exertion. The flashlight he held clicked off as he pressed his back against the bulkhead, apparently in an effort to hide from whatever he was fleeing from. And, so focused was he on it, he never registered the lanky Mouse's form, even as the bar he held shattered the man's shins.

Ragged breathing was replaced by an agonized scream as he, unceremoniously, crumpled to the floor. A second swing of the pipe cracked wetly against the man's head, rendering Mortimer's victim unconscious. A sinister smile slowly crept across his features as he knelt beside the body.

Finally.

He'd found his key.

It wouldn't take long for whatever had been chasing this man to arrive, so Mort quickly scooped up his flashlight, which had (fortunately) not fallen too far away. Then, standing as he did so, he took hold of the man's wrist and began to walk again.

It didn't take long. No more than fifty feet down that corridor, Mort saw the thing. Even in the darkness that yet pervaded the ship, it was unmistakable. It… scuttled towards him, a beast in every meaning of the word. A groan as Mort's feet alerted the Mouse that his target had finally shaken off that concussion.

"W-what… what's happen-"

The man cut off as the reality of his situation finally dawned on him.

"Oh God! No! Please! Not that!"

But it was already too late. With a surge of adrenaline, Mort slung the body towards the creature. The way its head turned from him to its meal and then back to him suggested confusion, so the Mouse spoke to it gently, as if to a feral cat.

"Go on. Take it. It's yours, right?"

It leaned down towards the man, whose sobs and whimpers might have tugged at the heart of a lesser man than Mort, and which quickly turned to screams of soul-wrenching agony as the thing began to feast. And, even in his altered frame of mind, Mortimer still found the sight a bit too distasteful to watch.

Fortunately, it was over soon enough, or, at least, the screams were. The snap of bone and squelch of chewing remained, but were unable to completely drown out the crackle that suddenly broke the mood. A handheld radio came to life on the corpse's hip, the voice of a woman who was obviously at the end of her rope coming across the airwaves.

"To anyone who can hear this: make your way to the lower decks immediately. We're abandoning the Ark. I repeat: make your way to the lower decks, we are abandoning ship. Spread the word to any other survivors you come across, and do your best to avo-"

The creature's ravenous feasting cut the message off short, as the radio fractured into a dozen pieces under its foot. Mort, for his part, slowly stepped closer to the thing, lowering himself as he did so. He smiled, as warmly as he could, and spoke to it again.

"You like that huh, pal? Pretty good?"

The creature froze in place, wet chunklets falling from its mouth, apparently staring directly at Mort. He steeled his nerve and pressed on, inching closer to the thing and continuing to speak in a calming voice.

"Shhh shhh. It's alright. We're friends now, right? Pals even. Don't worry, I won't hurt you. In fact, I know where we can get even more tasty food. Would you like that? I bet you would, huh?"

Methodically, the thing stood, and Mort with it. Whether it was just luck or if he had genuinely made a connection with it, Mortimer somehow knew it wouldn't attack him as he turned around. Once again, he began to walk, though this time with a destination in mind and a 'friend' in tow.

"Come with me," he said, waving a hand towards his new pal. "Let's get you fed. Ha cha cha!"
 

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Time would only tell if or when Maya and her small entourage of others in tow would keep going or not. She didn’t care for the nasty smell of pieces of dead crew members left behind who didn’t make it, but she got used to it. She covered her nose lightly and shook her head.

“Damn.” Echo cursed under her breath.

What exactly was the plan? Nobody really knew to be honest.

That is until the Helghast spy ran upon a group of several from a distance away.

She would use her combat smarts of knowing a location up and down and get away from whatever was eating people, and creatures alike before anyone else could fall prey.

Echo kept silent as she kept walking, she had already prepped her sniper rifle well in advance in case she had to pick off said creature or whatever the hell it was..

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maya held fast to the Helghast object in her hands, hoping it provided enough light, even reddish light in order to see in this pitch-black area. But she took Nia’s hand “Come on, lower your voice, i heard scampering of footsteps. Maya was thinking she was starting to see things but it could all be mind tricks.

Nia crossed her arms “Maya? Hey!”

The two paced until they reached a group of strangers crowded at the door, all arguing over how to open the door in question.

Nia was near the strangers “H… Hello… I’m Nia…. Can I help?” She looked over at Tommy and the others.

Maya’s eye looked through the sniper’s crosshairs, from a distance, ready to mark the danger at hand.
 

Jason Lee Scott

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Liberty looked to the new arrivals, then back to the door with a shrug.

“Not unless you brought an industrial blowtorch with you,” the reporter answered with a shrug.

The two looked blankly, not having much on an answer for that request, but at least they had strength in numbers if they stuck around here for a moment. Even though they had just walked up, they could sense the tension.

Tommy paced and shook his head in frustration. If he was having to play leader, they really were in a bad situation. He was used to being the problem child, not dealing with one, and all of his problems were usually settled with that swift jump kick he was longing to deliver to someone. He gazed longingly at the gangster for a moment too long, looking away only when the man shot a snarl at him.

Still, everyone was pacified for the fleeting moment and they’d somehow picked up more, so maybe he could just get them back to Karl Jak and let the game show host deal with these characters. Once that happened, Tommy would do what he did best: get the hell away from all of this. His attempts to calm himself were interrupted by the sound of the doors Droog had beat on moving, and unsealing. They all looked at it in confusion.

“What did you do?” Tommy asked Droog as the final lock unseated itself.

“Does it look like I did a goddamn thing?” Droog retorted from where he comfortably stood away from the moving pieces.

Tommy approached the blast doors as they ripped open, only to be suddenly tackled by a man in a Syntech uniform. The former Ranger hit the ground on his back as the employee tried to bite and claw at him with a feral vigor. All Tommy could do was use his arms to keep the man from actually taking a bite out of him.

“What the hell!?” Tommy roared from his pinned position.

“Lively!” Droog shouted, sounding far more entertained than concerned.

“Wallace! Wallace!” Trent shouted as he and Liberty grabbed the man’s arms and pulled him off the downed mercenary.

Trent recognized the man instantly, but certainly not his behavior. He was a mild mannered, relaxed individual that he’d never once imaged acting like a rabid animal. Yet as soon as they pulled him off, he lashed out at Trent first, knocking his fellow employee away. The maddened man then lunged for the one holding his other arm, but Liberty instantly opened fire into his gut, not wanting to suffer the same attack Tommy had.

Kristen watched in horror as Wallace slumped to the ground, shaking her head in confusion about what had happened.

“What was that about?” Liberty quickly asked, but before he could receive an answer there was more commotion down the hall.

The group looked to see a stampede of humans charging at them, but with the same deranged look their previous attacker had.

“Close the door!” Tommy shouted to Droog, only to see the mobster was leading the charge away from them. “Goddammit!!”

The former Green Ranger scrambled to his feet and bolted after his tentative ally, knowing it was the best choice. He heard the footsteps behind him as he ran through the empty hallways, hoping that was the rest of the sane survivors and not the crazed ones on heels. Their flight led them into a large room that looked like it had been used as an armory, with large crates and boxes everywhere. With no other choice, Droog his behind one, with Tommy joining him. Liberty and Trent were quick to hide behind another across from them, while Maya and Nia took cover across the room. Tommy frowned, noticing Kristen wasn’t with any of them. Before he could ask, she ran up and stopped in the middle of the room, holding her head wound.

“You just… DITCHED me back there!” she shouted to her hidden allies in frustration.

Tommy quickly grabbed her and pulled her into cover with the rest of them.

“Would you shut the hell up so they don’t find us?” Droog scowled in disbelief.

Yet as he looked around, he saw everyone readying their weapons. They were pinned, and if the insane residents of the ship’s underbelly didn’t move along there was going to be a nasty fight.
 
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Arthur Morgan

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It was several lengthy minutes before they arrived at the armory. No incidents like Joy had described hindered their progress, though the crew was on their guard the whole way there. The hallways were barren and dark as they traveled down them, seeming almost cramped with the group’s number tromping along, the sound of their many footsteps bouncing off the metallic walls, but nothing out of the ordinary occurred— only the occasional unsettling noise ringing from somewhere deeper within the bowels of the ship.

Now, standing outside the armory, the crew was busy deciding amongst themselves who would venture inside the armory and who would stand guard. The armory’s shadowed interior presented a troubling uncertainty, only a single backup bulb flickering a dull crimson in the entire space. It was dank, and dark, and downright creepy. Not much different from the rest of the ship, really...

“Anything could be skulking about in there,” Harold reasoned. “It’s best if those of you made of sturdier stuff go ahead, make sure things are clear for the rest of us.”

While Misha and Della had already ventured inside the room, Perry paused just outside the door to cast a wary glance at Claude, ready to protest with an angry chatter. Before he could, however, Harold merely waved him off with a casual flick of his hand, stepping forward to address the secret agent directly.

“Y’all go on now,” the old electrician said. A few streaks of sweat and grease were visible on his forehead, though he still mustered up a smile despite his obvious weariness. “Claude and I’ll keep an eye on things out here.”

“I-I’m staying, too,” stammered Joy, casting an uncertain glance through the armory’s door— the unfriendly glint of cold gunsteel glistening back under the crimson emergency lights, the faint glow illuminating rows and rows of intimidating firepower. She cringed, backing away. “I’m not a fan of guns.”

After a moment of hesitation, Perry nodded in silent acquiescence. With one last narrow-eyed look at Claude, the platypus gave a slight tip of his hat before following Misha and Della into the armory.

Once inside, Perry had to take a moment to blink harshly so that his eyes could adjust to the low light. Almost as soon as he could see again, he was treated to the sight of his fellow hired merc hefting an enormous Gatling-style machine gun, the massive thing held aloft by a pair of handles that seemed almost specifically designed for Misha’s thick-fingered hands.

Misha smiled broadly, teeth glittering white in the dark. It was not exactly a nice smile, Perry thought, and he gave the Russian man a wide berth as he moved to examine an array of security vests and armor on the opposite side of the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Della swiping up a discarded iron crowbar, a determined air to her movements as she gave it a careful test swing.

“Ahhh,” Misha sighed, gently patting the minigun’s cold metal barrel. “It is good to see you again, Sasha! I worry when we are apart.”

Perry elected to ignore that, focusing instead on pinching a piece of reinforced fabric between his fingers, frowning a bit at the weight of it. Della, though, looked up at the cheerful merc, a bemused look on her face.

“Why Sasha?” she asked. “That’s a pretty... unexpected name for a gun.”

The Heavy only grinned, giving a fond chuckle. “Is long story. Maybe, once we have escaped, I will tell you—“

Abruptly, a high-pitched scream rent the air, shattering the easy camaraderie that had grown between the trio (and rat). Heart leaping into his throat, Perry rushed for the door, the others mere milliseconds behind.

The sight that met them outside... was less than ideal.

“Oh god,” Joy wept, cringing against the far wall— her Syntech uniform speckled with fresh blood, a wash of carnage overlaying her once pristine pencil skirt. A horrified, groaning wail heaved from her lungs, one hand scrabbling at her face, French-tipped fingernails digging in until they left sharp indentations, the skin of her cheeks cast in a sickly grey pallor. “Oh god, it’s him! It’s him, he’s one of them! He ate him!”

Her other hand lifted, visibly trembling, a lone finger pointing further down the hall.

Almost immediately, Misha hefted his minigun and turned in that direction, his wide shoulders blocking off most of the hall and the gun rattling as it spun to life. Perry dropped into a defensive crouch, partially shielding Joy with his body, and he felt more than saw Della brandishing her iron crowbar at his side.

Perry blinked hard, all his training and defensive posturing immediately abandoned in his horror. What remained of Harold— a mangled, bloody mess of shredded clothing and what looked like much of his lower half— lay slumped on the floor. His sunny yellow hardhat idly turning on the linoleum flooring beside the mess, like a top left to spin by a forgetful child.

The platypus reeled back a step, clutching onto his hat. The old man he’d begun this whole ordeal with, the very same that he’d sought to protect with his life... was dead. Reduced to nothing more than a pile of ragged flesh!

As the group regarded this sight with mounting realization, a few slimy strands of... something dribbled down from the ceiling overhead, joining the catastrophe of red on the floor. Looking up, they watched as more of the substance slid from between the slats of a ceiling vent, which promptly snapped completely closed with a deafening clank!

Silence, for a moment, as the sound of the vent slamming shut echoed in their ears. And then—

“YAAAAAAAAA!” Misha roared, angling a hail of gunfire at the tiled ceiling. It exploded in clouds of white dust, the flimsy metal of the vent shredding apart before their very eyes. A dark shape plummeted amid the storm of property damage, crashing to the floor with a meaty thunk before rising— writhing in their direction as tentacled strands of wet, bloodied flesh broke off from its frame, layered all over with glistening teeth, the shredded rags of Claude’s work uniform flapping as bullets ripped through it.

The creature that was once Claude pitched toward them, staggering under the hail of gunfire. Perry readied himself for a melee as the Claude-thing drew within a few feet of the RED merc’s position, paws balled into fists, but he needn’t have bothered— the creature gave a final wail as it crumpled like a piece of newspaper under Sasha’s assault, the organic matter that made up its form practically turned to mincemeat after ten seconds of constant fire.

As the dust (and other... considerably less pleasant substances) settled, Misha slowly lowered Sasha, giving the destroyed body of the creature a fierce glare. Perry mirrored this look, even venturing closer to ensure it was dead— lightly kicking away a twitching scrap of flesh that, despite it all, still held some semblance of life.

“Is it over?” Della asked, peeking around Misha’s side.

As if in response to her question, a deep rumbling came from somewhere in the darkness beyond where much of the carnage was scattered about, similar to the yowling of an angry tiger... only multiplied by eleven.

“.... that’s a no, then,” she finished weakly, clutching her new rat friend close to her chest.

Suddenly frantic, Perry darted over to help a shivering, softly crying Joy to her feet, briefly catching her gaze as she stumbled into an upright position. The devastated, hopeless look in her eyes said it all: she knew exactly what was coming down that hallway, and it certainly wasn’t anything good.

“We must go!” Misha boomed, his massive frame cutting an unyielding figure in the middle of the corridor. He began to storm down the hall, dragging the roaring wood stove behind him with one hand, the other swinging Sasha around to face their incoming company, a heavy scowl set upon his face. “Come, the withdrawal point is waiting!”

Snapping to attention, Perry threw one last regretful glance at Harold’s final resting place, his eyes landing with sorrow upon the discarded hardhat. Shaking his head, the secret agent grasped Joy’s hand and urged her along— the building cacophony of roars and snarls chasing after them.
 
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Everything was starting to really set in. She was the brains of the operation, Misha was the brawn, Perry was the mysterious one, and Joy was the damsel in distress. Scary monsters abounded everywhere. They’d just geared up, and were now trekking through a dangerous dungeon towards a destination with pretty much hopeless odds stacked against them.

Holy mackerel, they were on an adventure!

Della took point again as they sprinted down the hall, the clanging and pitter-pattering of the monsters chasing them ringing through the corridor behind them. Misha swung Sasha around, loosing off a few rounds into the oncoming clump of shadowy beasties that inched closer the further they ran. Somehow, it seemed like their pursuers were only getting faster — and Della Duck was thrilled.

It’d been so long since she’d seen any real action. This high speed chase brought her back to her real adventuring days, when she and her extremely wealthy and her brother D—

She slowed for a second. Her uncle had drifted into her thoughts plenty since she’d found herself dropped into sudden squalor, but she’d avoided thinking of her big bro. She knew he was probably furious at her for leaving — what was he ever not furious about? — and she didn’t like to imagine what he’d think about the trouble she’d gotten herself into. Especially now. What would he think if he could see her here, in this corridor, running from a horde of goopy shadow-monsters?

Would he be having as much fun as she was?

“Tiny duck girl,” Misha poked her shoulder. “Which way?”

Della broke from her stupor, realizing she — and their whole group — had come to a stop right at a fork in the road. One hallway went left, the other went right, and to tell the truth…

“I don’t know,” she shook her head, turning around, “I don’t remember what Harold said.”

“And Mr. Harold is not around to lend advice,” Misha mused. The odd couple pushed past Perry and Joy, who was still shaking from her earlier encounter with the Claude-creature, to look at the mass of goopy, shadowy monsters crawling closer and closer and faster and faster. Della spun around and grabbed Joy by the collar, yanking her down to her eye level.

“Listen, Joy, I know you’re scared,” the mallard shouted, her maternal instincts starting to kick in, “but right now, you’re the only person who can tell us which way to go and help us get out of here, alright?!”

Joy simply stared back, and babbled something incoherent, tears leaking out of her eyes.

“Ugh,” Della groaned as Misha let off another blast from Sasha in the direction of the creepy crawlies, “useless.” Suddenly, Della felt a tip tapping on the side of her head, and turned to see Remy tugging at the side of her aviator’s cap. “Hey, little buddy, mind bugging off?” she scowled, reaching up to her shoulder and trying to move him.

Remy was too quick, though, and squeezed underneath her cap just in time to avoid her feathered fingers. “What the heck?!” she yelled as she felt tiny little rat fingers closing around her head feathers and yanking. The pain streaked throughout her whole body, and she almost got off a ‘why I oughta…’ before she noticed…

Her feet were moving? She waddled forward past Joy and Perry, apropos of none of her own free will. Remy plucked and tugged on her head feathers, and seemed to be… directing her where to go? It was almost like he was puppeteering her, and when she got to the fork in the corridor, he yanked once again and she spun to the left.

Oh, shoot, the lady duck realized. All of a sudden, it hit her like a brick: of course Remy knows where to go!

Heck, that rat probably knew this spaceship inside and out, better than anyone. Joy might be a super official Syntech employee and Della might’ve worked on this ship once or twice, but the pilot knew that nobody was better at sniffing out the nooks and crannies of a place than its tiniest denizens, and Remy certainly qualified. With another sharp tug, Della felt her feet shift into forward motion, and once again, she started to run. “Hey guys!” she called over her shoulder, “I think it’s this way!”

Perry’s gaze followed Della quizzically before he leapt into action, grabbing Joy by the hand and dragging her along behind the quickly speeding away duck. Misha followed, launching off another bombardment at the creatures as they, too, reached the fork in the road and rolled around the corner. Behind them, the quartet heard a ferocious roar come from somewhere deep within the bowels of the horde.

And so they kept running.

The dark corridor kept opening up before them until, finally, Della smacked into a cold, hard metal wall and let out a couple of expletives his Majesty would probably not approve of.

“Schnarky!” she shouted, reaching up and touching her forehead. “Remy, it’s a dead end, buddy!”

The rat peeked out of the front of her cap, and in the darkness, Della could barely see him pointing frantically toward the wall. She let out a sigh, leaning forward and pressing a hand ever so gently to the part of the wall the rat directed her toward. With just a little effort, it pushed forward, and opened into what looked like a sleek, metallic slide. Quite a giant one.

Chute à linge!” Remy squeaked.

“I don’t know frickin’ French, pal!” Della growled.

“Laundry… chute…” Joy rasped just a little ways behind them. Della spun around, observing the woman. “It’s a laundry chute. It leads directly to the safe zone.”

Della quirked her brow. “A laundry chute leads to a place where we’re lookin’ to get off of this darn ship?”

“When you can make new clothes for people out of thin air, ‘laundry’ is just another word for trash can,” Joy shrugged.

“Let us go!” Misha shouted, leaning forward and shoving the wood-burning stove towards the encroaching horde. The entire thing tipped over and its front door flew open, embers and burning logs leaping out into the mass of shadowy goop. Screeches of pain leapt out of the commotion, and without another thought, Della turned around and launched herself into the laundry chute.

The others wouldn’t be too far behind, she was sure, but she couldn’t focus too much on that as she and Remy sped forward down the slick surface. It glimmered even in the darkness, a sign of lack of use, as the duck and her rat pal flew forward on their stomachs through this makeshift side and, finally, out the other side.

At first, Della just saw purple fabric, but Karl Jak’s face came into view as she crashed into his lithe form, knocking them both to the ground with a thump.

The executive looked up and met eyes with Della. “You made it.”

“Sorry in advance,” she grinned nervously, and Karl raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.

Karl looked up just in time to see the bipedal platypus, Syntech employee, and extremely large man plummeting towards them.

Crash.
 

Sigmund Vrell

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It was slowly dawning on Ronny that he was, in fact, in deep shit. In his misguided attempt to head down to the bowels of the ship, he had found himself holed up in a locker within a break room, hiding from the groaning, squelching abominations that seemed to be hidden around every corner. The lawyer was about to accept the fact that he was going to spend the rest of his life hiding beneath someone’s spare jumpsuit when he heard the roar of gunfire a little down the hall.

“Keep going!” A voice snapped as the thunder of boots on steel rumbled past the break room. “We’re almost to the rear, then we can get the fuck out of this hell hole!”

Ron’s heart leapt in his chest. He wasn’t too far from the back of the ship. A little sneaking and he could definitely get there. The attorney’s mind turned back to legal protection, as it always did, wondering how he was going to stop the traumatised passengers from suing. After a moment of thought, it hit him like a lightning bolt. Horribly mutated abominations can’t sue! All he had to do was get to the evacuation zone and get the survivors to sign away their rights!

Slowly, the salaryman peered out of his hiding spot, looking through the slightly ajar door of the break room. The coast seemed to be clear for now, barring a few motionless, contorted bodies riddled with bullet holes. Breathing a quiet sigh of relief and tucking his waivers securely into his jacket, Ronny stepped out into the lounge, wondering what his next move should be. The lawyer knew that he stood no chance in a fight, so his mind turned to stealth instead.

The attorney glanced over to a vent near the ceiling, noting that he could probably reach it if he stood on a chair. However, the idea of being caught face-to-face with a horrible flesh-monster in the claustrophobic ventilation system wasn’t especially appealing. Hell, what if he made it to the evacuation zone, only for the survivors to think he was some sort of imposter. It would be pretty suspicious.

Looking around for another option, Ron spotted something glinting in the faint light of his electric lantern. A closer inspection revealed that someone, for some reason, had dropped a handgun. The lawyer swallowed hard, his mouth suddenly feeling dry. He had never actually held a gun before, he wasn’t permitted to, and the thought of using one sent a chill down his spine. It may have been the difference between life and death, but if he had to survive a weapon that he wasn’t licensed to use, would he really be living?

Searching the room one more time, Ronny saw a large box filled with packing peanuts. At a glance, he guessed that he could fit reasonably comfortably within the box. The corporate suit upturned the box, spilling the peanuts onto the floor, before crouching down and pulling his new cardboard camouflage down on top of himself. It had a decent amount of room to move around in and his hands and feet didn’t stick out as he crawled around. This could work.

Ronny tried not to think about his time in law school as he shuffled down the dark halls on his hands and knees, stopping to listen for any insidious sounds before peeking out from beneath the box, shining his lantern down the hallway. The salaryman glanced at his bracelet to steel his resolve, drawing courage from the beads bearing the letters “WWJD”, standing for “What Would Jak Do”, naturally. A little, or maybe a lot, of lost personal dignity was a small sacrifice if it meant maintaining the dignity of Syntech.
 

Sandro

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It’s amazing what collective fear and desperation does to any group of sentient beings. The knowledge that the next day might not come, that there is no safety net, that the immediate surroundings and the people that stand in them are all that can decide if you’re going to wake up in the morning. It’s surprisingly capable of creating heroics. People that were once Bitter rivals band together and unite under the common ground of survival. Some people take it a step further, and make sure every single person gets out alive - and it’s always shocking just how many people are willing to step forward and make that call, even amongst those you don’t expect. The ideal of living to see another sunrise is one that lets people find idealism among the jaded, genius among idiots, and spines among the spineless.

It’s just a shame that there’s always an asshole ready to ruin it all for one ticket out



Liberty counted himself as fortunate to find such a lucky group of people. Somehow, the group had managed to stay quiet enough to avoid the crowds - so far. Liberty didn’t know who he was more scared for - them, or whoever got in their way.

He’d had to get used to killing people during the war, and he’d slowly lost his reservations against shooting confederate soldiers, but this wasn’t confederate soldiers. He’d seen the syntech employee’s eyes - seen the desperation and the madness hidden in them. He’d seen those eyes countless times in the great war, but he’d never had to shoot at a target like that.

These weren’t soldiers, they weren’t even out to hurt them, really. They were victims, lashing out at anyone or anything they could find because of a situation that had robbed them of their sanity.

It didn’t change the grim reality - it was his group or the mob.

But the nausea in his gut told him he’d never forget that moment.

“We got a plan?” Tommy eventually asked, hoping the crowd had subsided.

“Sneak out right now, try to go past them.”

“They were running away from that direction, paperboy. What makes you think it’s safe.”

Liberty just gave a shrug. “I don’t. But it’s safer than the direction we came from.”

He decided not to think about the fact the civilian mob was headed that way - they were lives he could remember, but not ones he could save.

“Well, I think I heard of some emergency power stations that way. Might be able to contact HQ at least.
Michael gave a nod, before checking his own pistol. One round left in the chamber, and one spare mag. Eight bullets between him and a quick death.

The reporter sighed and checked around the armory. He put the laser sword right back in its case, thumbed his nose up at the flamethrower, tried his best to forget the purple sex-toy and hoped to god no one else would think to pick up the rocket launcher in an enclosed space…

And there, he found it, a weapon he’d heard far too much about in his life, and a weapon he’d never wanted in his hands more in this moment.

“This is…”

“Find something you like over there?” Trent asked earnestly. From anyone else, Liberty would’ve thought it was just a sarcastic comment, but Trent just seemed like the sort of guy who’d love to talk guns in a calmer environment.

The veteran smiled. “Yeah, an old friend. Ever heard of the C-14 impaler?”

“No, didn’t even know Karl stored those. What are we talking?”

“Thirty rounds per second, firing an eight millimeter spike at mach six. Auto-aiming, Reliable, and relatively quiet.” Michael managed, hefting the rifle.

“You gonna be able to handle the kickback?”

“For a while. It’s meant to be used with a CMC, but I don’t think they have one here, plus it takes a minute to don and-”

A loud crash against the door shocked everyone awake.

“Who the flip gave them a battering ram!” Maya shouted over the din.

The reinforced door thudded, titanium alloys creaking as something struck them repeatedly.

Tommy shook his head. “That doesn’t sound like a battering ram.

Michael craned his ears, trying to figure out what was on the other side of the door…

A lion-like screech reverberated through the area, and Liberty suddenly realized that he unfortunately knew all too well what that was - they were common in Aragorn’s kingdom, he remembered, but…

“What was this doing in Syntech? What the hell is it doing here? Why is it trying to get in here!” Liberty swore.

“Spit it out, moron, we ain’t got time!” Droog yelled over the din, and Liberty cocked his gun as he sighed in exasperation.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…”

The Door shuddered one more time, being nearly smashed from it’s hinges in the process.


“...we have a cave troll.”
 

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End Round 3

Round 4 Notes
--Like I said, this will be a continuation of the last round.
--Feel free to reach out, either in #salt-mines or through DMs if you need to bounce something Karl-related off my brain. I'll respond to either as quickly as I spot it
--Round 4 will feature double elimination, double prize (also a gentle scenary change, but you best know that the motif moving forward will likely be science-fiction themed horror so I do apologize if that isn't your 'wheel house' but daddy can't do fancy islands all the time.
--Round 4 will end next Friday, March 12th at 11:59 PM CST, and a fuller length update will be available before Sunday at 1159 AM CST
 

Godzilla

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A cave troll.

They were stuck in the armory of a half-broken ship floating in the middle of Scratch-knows-where, full of all the right kinds of weapons to deal with such a threat but that they couldn't really use thanks to the enclosed space...and they had to deal with a cave troll.

The absurdity of a troll of all things in space was only a very minor nagging irritation in Droog's head. Boxcars not being around when he was actually needed was a much larger irritation, The brute wasn't good for much, but he would have been just what the doctor ordered for a little anti-troll application. As it was now, though...the mobster was angrily kicking about and rooting through anything and everything he could find within the armory to try and find something useful.

Explosives of all kinds. Assorted firearms. Flamethrowers. Melee weapons. More absurd and exotic implements that such a classy gentleman as he couldn't possibly so much as lay hands upon. There was definitely something here that would solve this problem...it was just a matter of finding it. Finding it before the door inevitably gave way to the incessant, bestial pounding it was being subjected to; it was holding up so far, but...its hinges were looking worryingly close to snapping.

It was in times like these...that a cooler head was needed to prevail. That the murderous rage of the survivalist-turned-gangster Diamods Droog needed to take a backseat, and the royalty-assisting icy-frosted head of the Draconian Dignitary take the wheel. Fighting down his almost overpowering frustration and the boiling fury in his blood at having to put up with the likes of this sorry bunch wasn't easy. It took several deep breaths, spitting out his fading cigarette and stowing his pistol away with a hand that finally stopped shaking as he pulled it from his jacket again. Composure. If just for a few minutes he could maintain it.

He proceeded to dig through the supplies in the armory with renewed vigor and a fresh purpose. There were specific weapons he needed to get his hands on...ones he was more familiar with, to make him feel comfortable and in his element again. His preferred old-school, classic rapid-fire death-dealer was easy enough to find; the AK-47 was prevalent enough that almost everywhere he'd been to or heard of had something like it. The spear he hoisted up next though...the fact he found something like it was honestly a surprise to him; functional as a cuestick for his mobster pastime, and with the glimmering red point of a diamond on its opposite end for a spearpoint...

And then his secret weapon. Something to give a nasty surprise to their big, unfriendly guest the second it broke down that door.

Back in his element. He felt good. He felt right. Temperament stabilized for just that much longer.

But the real prize of the hour was the unexpected one: a working radio. Though 'working' might have been a bit of a stretch, it wasn't completely beyond use. What's more, the message it was transmitting actually gave some kind of clear direction. The big Karl himself was still alive and kicking, and was working on some kind of plan. Best course of action now seemed like getting to him, and now...well, now they knew right where to go. Was all a matter of getting to it. He snatched up the battered radio, clipping it securely onto his belt, and then quickly shuffled back across the room to slide back into cover behind one of the armory's many boxes of who-knows-what.

Slowly, methodically, he produced and lit another cigarette, carefully sliding it to the far left side of his maw as he took great pains to load and ready his new death-dealer and train his aim on the doors. The assault rifle rested on the edge of a crate, carefully balanced and aimed with one arm, while the other slipped into his jacket and came back out clutching a flare. "Word of warning to alla you," he growled. "Soon as that door goes down...might wanna cover your eyes. It's about to get real bright in here." As bad as it might be for all of them...for something like a troll, eyes so sensitive to even normal lights? Droog could only grimly hope it would utterly blind the thing long enough for their merry, hapless bunch to get around it and out the doors.

"What the heck are you up to now?!" Trent seethed, staring daggers at the carapacian. The near-throttling experience of only moments ago was not soon forgotten.

"Just a little desperate scheme." Droog's eyes narrowed to ivory slits in the flickering red shadows of his face. "I'm bettin' the house on this one...if it works, we get outta here without any trouble. If it doesn't..."

"Then we hope it works," Tommy's voice spoke up, cutting off any further chatter.

Another heavy blow on the door tore through the hinges, only leaving the mangled mess of metal standing by virtue of its now thoroughly warped and smashed form wedging itself in the door frame.

"And here we go..." the dersite dignitary all but whispered, bringing the flare up to his smoke to carefully set the flare to light as the battering on the door continued and it finally gave way, crumpling into chunks as it was blown inward into the armory. The sputtering crackle of the flare igniting was only a split-second before the blinding burst of red light, shower of sparks and thick plumes of smoke as it sailed end over end through the air right for the cave troll's noggin as it bellowed its victory over the locked portal.
 

Arthur Morgan

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Being one of the nimbler members of their strange ensemble, Perry was quick to extract himself from the pile of tangled limbs they had become after tumbling down the laundry chute.

He stumbled a few paces away, plucking his somewhat crumpled fedora from where it had been cast off in the crash, returning it to its proper place upon his head. Satisfied now that his head no longer felt so unpleasantly breezy, the bipedal platypus turned to regard his fellow survivors to see how they were getting on.

Misha, it seemed, had already recovered quite well, though the large Russian appeared far more concerned for those he might have damaged in the fall. The man gave Joy a hand up first, who seemed frazzled by the firm grip of one large hand easily tugging her up and onto her feet. It was a display of an almost unnatural amount of strength for one mere man to possess, especially considering that Misha still held Sasha aloft in his other hand, the minigun’s weight seeming no more troublesome to him than a briefcase might be to the average businessman. He then moved to gently lift Della up, before offering his help to Karl Jak— an offer which soon proved to be unnecessary as the man simply peeled himself up from where he’d been fairly flattened on the floor.

Upright once more and distractedly smoothing his rumpled clothing, Karl cast a sharp glance over the gathered party. A fervent energy seemed to electrify his gaze, a new weight settling over the group as each gathered person gave him their undivided attention. Here he was: the man, the myth, the legend... and, hopefully, their ticket out of this mess.

Jak’s eyes strayed over to Perry, giving the secret agent a quick once-over, before roving over the others in a similarly appraising fashion. It was clear, at least to Perry, that the executive was taking their measure, and so he deliberately straightened, adopting the same air of professionalism he always did when he was about to be given a new mission. And Karl Jak certainly did not disappoint.

It all boiled down to this: things had really gone to the dogs and, unfortunately, they now had a bit of an infestation on their hands. People were dropping like flies left and right! Those who weren’t... well, it was a bit of a toss-up on whether they’d be of sound mind or absolutely bonkers.

Sadly, it also seemed that their group was the first to arrive on the scene... an unsettling thought considering the fair number of people who’d managed to stow away on the ship, but their meager forces would be more than enough to carry out the task Karl gave them: keeping the strange, flesh-hungry creatures outside from infesting this portion of the ship.

Mind whirling with the schematics of this new mission, Perry threw the executive a hasty salute. Now this was something he could do— no matter the odds, he’d always been at his best with a clear objective in mind.

He turned his head, making eye contact with Misha. The two mercs nodded to each other in mutual understanding. No monsters would be getting into this area if they had any say about it!
 
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Receiving their task, Misha and Perry stood on guard once more in the designated area where they landed. Joy and Della followed Karl Jak, seeming that he had something else in mind for them. The merc in the red had no problem with the orders that Karl Jak gave to them. Perry stayed on alert if any of those vile "things" found the way to this last haven. On Misha's mind, he wondered if it's likely they would see more survivors.

Then again, he and Perry are always ready to act when trouble occurs. Silence fell upon them as they waited for anything to happen. There was a big wooden crate that was capable of rest his giant minigun. Misha slightly spins the barrel with his enormous right hand to examine if Sasha had any marks or stress on her gracious blackened steel barrels. Clicking from the gun interrupts the silence as the heavy weapons expert focuses on his primary weapon.

The bipedal secret agent platypus couldn't help but looked back on his brute Russian comrade, caring for the gun he named Sasha. Suddenly, Misha's eyes lit up while staring bellow at the many barrels that made this massive weapon. Perry became curious about what stirred the Russian's attention.

"Oh my god! Who touched Sasha." Misha worries over his precious humongous minigun, covering the barrels with both his hands to close in on the smudged area. "Alright, who touched my gun!" the heavy weapons guy roars inside the room, causing a boom in his threatening voice. Perry had never seen this side of Misha's personality before, knowing now that his comrade is very precise and protective over the only weapon he holds.

Misha's expression upon his darkened five o'clock shaven face is upset at the sight of the single fingerprinted spot that doesn't belong to his identity. The fedora-wearing platypus stepped back to give his giant pal some room to breathe, knowing that he's not happy currently. There was nothing for Misha to wipe off the gun with and no cleaning gun oil insight. He had no choice but to compromise, lifting a piece of his redshirt to stretch out and rub the smudged spot down.

"There there, Sasha, it ok now. I kill whoever touched you inappropriately as they cursed at beloved babushka." Misha gently wipes the minigun in an easing manner, talking to the gun calmly.

From this moment, Perry knew how emotional Misha could get if someone touches or messes his gun without permission.

During the guard duty, they both kept their attention at the room's openings for any hostiles that can crawl out.
 

Jason Lee Scott

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The flare burst at the troll’s eyes, filling the room with blinding light for a moment. The beast roared in complete agony, and thrashed its arms wildly in its blinded pain. Admittedly, it was quite jarring to the other occupants of the room as well, as they had become quite accustomed to the darkness of the ship’s underbelly. And yet the light was gone just as quickly as it had arrived, but with the beast in pain and disoriented they at least had a window of opportunity.

Tommy seized that moment, and rushed forward. The nimble warrior was quick to mount several of the crates that had been used as cover, and then leap from them at his stunned foe. The troll never saw it coming, but the powerless Ranger delivered a swift jump kick to its face, toppling the creature to the ground. Tommy gracefully landed in front of it, but quickly began to get his distance. The monster was far from defeated, and was stirring fast.

“Who do you think you are, Bruce Lee?” Droog shouted to the fleeing mercenary.

“Alright, I’ve had my fun!” Tommy shouted, ignoring the gangster’s slight at him as he fled. “Your turn!”

As soon as the words left his mouth, the recovering troll swatted at arm at Tommy. The blow sent Tommy careening across the room, and he was only stopped by hitting a wall past his circumstantial allies. Gunfire immediately roared, without him in the way to worry about.

He wanted to join the action, but he needed a moment to recover from that attack. He looked down to see his green tinted breastplate was damaged, and shook his head. That was probably symbolic. Even in the pain he had to laugh at himself. Yet he climbed to his feet, drawing his own weapon and stumbling back to the action. Before he could make it, the troll swatted at a stack of crates and sent them in every direction, forcing the party to duck for cover to prevent being struck.

Tommy raised his firearm as his teammates recovered, but before anyone could act the air vents burst open. Tentacles wrapped emerged from all directions, wrapping around the cave troll and constricting it. The beast didn’t take the assault without resistance however, and thrashed at the attacking limbs with everything it had. More openings presented themselves and even more appendages emerged to maul at the cave beast.

“Now what?” Trent shouted in disbelief.

“Coruscant vs Camelot, take your bets,” Liberty had to remark at he watched the clash of titans.

“Get your stuff and lets go, or we’re next on the menu!” Tommy quickly reminded everyone as he holstered his weapon and made for the exit.

Once again, there wasn’t much resistance to the former Green Ranger’s logic.
 

Mickey Mouse

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“You want me to do… what?”

Karl Jak leaned against the doorframe leading into the cockpit of, ostensibly, their ticket out of this heckscape. He raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at her and repeated his instruction. “I want you to pilot us the fuck out of here. Think you’re up for it?”

Remy squirmed on Della’s shoulder, and looked at his new pal. The duck girl, meanwhile, let out a long sigh, then let her eyes roll over to Karl.

“Am I up for it?” she asked, hands on her hips. “Pardon me, Mr. Jak, but do you know who the heck I am?”

Karl chuckled as Della burst forward past him, almost jogging into the pilot’s chair. “Also,” she added, “watch your language, sir.”

She knew she probably shouldn’t be so crass with her boss, but heck — she was finally getting the chance to do what she loved. She’d been stuck in this gosh-forsaken place for who knows how long just tinkering away at minor inconveniences in the preshow facility. She longed to be behind the wheel of a big honkin’ vehicle again, cruising her way through the sky. And at last… Karl Jak was gonna let her.

“You know,” Karl piped up as she started messing with bits and bobs and buttons, “you remind me a lot of someone I know. Or, used to know I suppose.”

Della glanced over her shoulder. “Who?”

“A certain Mouseketeer,” Karl scoffed. “Little do-gooder with something to prove and a sword that looks like a key. Crazy motherfu— mothertrucker, sorry.”

Della stood straight up where she stood. “Wait,” she started. “Not the King?”

Karl’s smirk grew three sizes that day. “I’m told he used to dabble in mid-level management, yes,” he spun around, heading away from the cockpit. “That rat on your shoulder even accompanied him for a time, until some masked, spandex-wearing goon killed it. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be one of the chosen and reincarnated in my god—gosh darn med bay.”

Della swiped Remy off her shoulder and held him up before her. “You know the King?” she muttered, and the rat simply shrugged.

“Il m’appelle Minnie,” he sputtered quickly, “C’etait etrange!”

“Ah, Kevin,” Karl said from a little ways down the hall. “Do me a favor. Help Ms. Duck get situated for our imminent departure?”

A squirrelly voice affirmed his instruction before barreling down the hallway, and Remy squirmed out of Della’s grip back onto her shoulder to observe the newcomer’s entrance. But as Kevin bounced nervously into the cockpit, the duck pilot could only think of her King. She glanced out the front window of the makeshift escape craft, out into the void of space. Could he potentially be… somewhere, out there?

How had she been here for so long, and completely missed Mickey Mouse?

She slid into the pilot’s seat.
 

Sigmund Vrell

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“Almost there. Almost there. Almost there.” Ronny silently repeated to himself, his hands clasped over his ears as he did his best to drown out the sounds of something slurping and crunching a little down the hall. The lawyer didn’t dare peek out to see what the source of the sound was. Even if the thing didn’t see him and immediately attack, he had a feeling that just looking at it was going to be an experience that would be worthy of suing for damages.

Eventually, the attorney lowered his hands, listening carefully for anything traumatising around him. When he was pretty sure that he couldn’t hear anything, Ron slowly raised his faithful box camouflage, switching his electric lantern on. As long as he ignored the sizable red stain on the floor and the couple of meaty chunks laid in it, the coast seemed clear.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Ronny continued his crawl towards salvation. He knew that he was close, he had just a few more turns to get to the evacuation zone. Still, the salaryman didn’t make a break for safety. The idea of getting caught and dying mere metres from his goal was too painful and, frankly, embarrassing to entertain. The lawyer continued crawling towards his goal, slowly but surely approaching the safe zone.

“Hey.” A voice said, the first normal voice that Ron had heard in an uncomfortable length of time. “Is box crawling toward us?”

The corporate suit was barely able to hold in a cry of relief as rose to his feet, his hands raised reassuringly as he tossed the box aside.

“Don’t worry! I’m normal!” Ronny gasped, stumbling towards the assembled survivors and finding himself staring down the barrel of a minigun. “Um, do you have a license for firearms of that caliber?”

“Hmph, of course heavy has proper permits.” The weapon’s owner grunted as he slightly lowered the minigun, shooting a questioning glance downwards and to the side. Following his gaze, the lawyer found himself staring at… a platypus? Another glance slightly upwards and Ron realised that the platypus was wearing a fedora, giving him the strangest desire to exclaim ‘Perry the Platypus!’ Of course, that would have been ridiculous.

Instead, the attorney fished a couple of waivers out of his jacket while giving the pair his best press release smile. “Name’s Ron, Ron Syntech, but you can just call me Ronny. Syntech legal department, pleased to meet you. Please sign here.” The lawyer said with rehearsed ease as he offered a waiver to each of the guards, too preoccupied with wondering whether or not platypuses could sue to notice the pair rolling their eyes at him.
 

Sandro

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The corridor shifted, as the group kept running. Turns out Trent had managed to remember where some of the fall-back points were, once he'd been given an electronic map to watch, and the group had quickly found their bearings with the help of emergency power. Liberty had questions for why they didn't have them on their person, but this was hardly the time to question their ticket out of here's abilities. It was a gamble on if the area Karl had designated as a safe-point was really usable, but the group didn't have time to figure it out..

The run through the corridors was treacherous - every single corner brought with it problems from questionable black ichor to step around to debris causing a detour.

Still, they were making relatively good time, all things notwithstanding, and Michael began to have the cautious optimism that they'd have more than enough time to find the real evac location even if this ended up being a wild goose chase.

That was until the group turned the corner and found out that Michael's cautious optimism was, in fact, a liar. The long, stable corridor that they had hoped to follow out of this mess was entirely and viciously on fire and covered in no small amount of blood.

No snappy quips were forthcoming, no angry retorts, only a shared silence of a few seconds as the group looked at the problem before them. Eventually, Tommy cleared his throat to speak up.

"So, Does anyone have a way to deal with this?"

"Sorry, guess I forgot my legion o' fire extinguishers!" Came Droog's harsh reply.

Liberty thought about it for a second, ignoring the exchange as it turned heated. They couldn't just go around - that was another 4 mile hike with all the twists and turns. they'd be left out for sure. But what didn't make sense aobut this? something about an entire ship compartment on fire with nothing...

That was it.

"There should be fire suppression systems on the ship..." Liberty mentioned, before looking up to see large, ceiling-mounted foam sprayers. They just weren't operating, which was an important issue. it didn't take much power to get the damned things going, so emergency should be affecting it, but...

Liberty looked to the side panels, and saw a tangle of cords. There were a few frayed groups amongst the bunch. He looked back to the group to say something, but from the looks of it, Droog was busy making it very clear he didn't take orders from Tommy with a few well-raised finger pointing rounds.

They didn't have more than a couple minutes, at most, to make it the rest of the way, and none of them had a way he knew of to reconnect the cables properly. which left...

Michael looked back to the group, gulped, and looked back to the cables. They just needed a jolt - he didn't need to hold anything for long.

The problem was that the unknown voltage might be anywhere from harmless to enough to leave him comatose in an instant, and he wouldn't know unless he gambled.

The reporter thought about it - thought about the reports he'd already started, but fell tragically unfinished. His allies weren't all great people, but he didn't think any of them deserved a fate like the one these creatures hoped to give them. and...

If his choice was to risk becoming electrified shish-kebab, and to be dragged down with those monsters again, well...


The reporter cracked his knuckles, figuring out which wire he absolutely needed to connect before digging into the tangled mash of cables and grabbing two close ones.

The motion seemed to get some attention from the rest of the group.

"-hell do ya think yer doin'-"

"-Michael, no-"

Liberty attached the cables, and an electric bolt ran through his body like a wave of pain. He could manage to hear the sound of the foam dispersing, briefly, before his hearing decided to stop working.

He knew someone grabbed him, from there, rushing his body forward. he didn't know who, or if he'd really dropped the cable. things like his senses of touch and smell were becoming hazy. He could smell something burning, and he thought it might have been him, but he wasn't particularly sure if he could tell through the mind-numbing pain that became a constant companion over the next few minutes.

He hoped he'd done the job, that he'd fixed the problem, and that maybe his new companions had actually managed to run away.

Given that he snapped back at attention in a crowd of refugees, seeing at least one Karl in the distance... he figured he can't have done too bad at the job.

A thoroughly disoriented liberty simply laid there, deigning to close his eyes for a couple more seconds as his senses slowly came back.

"I'd s-say... I n-need a smoke, but... smells like I've been doing t-too much of that, lately." the reporter managed to mumble.
 

Karl Jak

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End Round 4
Droog
Tommy Oliver
Michael Liberty
Perry
Misha
Della Duck
Ronny
Karl Jak
Kevin
4 other Syntech execs

"Tell me you understand how this all works," Karl Jak remarked as he loomed over Della Duck, who had been busy at the console for the last several minutes.

"Yes, and I'll understand it better if I don't have you breathing down my neck every six seconds!"

Karl Jak, for all his tattered clothes, unkempt hairs, and smears of blood and grim on his features, still mustered enough sass to roll his eyes as he headed to a control console in the back.

"Hey, you!" He declared at the large, baldheaded man standing near the exit of the room.

Misha furrowed his brow. "Yes, small man?"

"Can you help me with this lever?" Karl grunted as he grabbed hold of what seemed to be nothing more than a piece of dead equipment bolted to the wall. A closer look revealed that the executive had spent the last half hour ruining the remnants of his manicure to twist the fake bolts, but even with everything lined up properly, he couldn't yank the mechanism.

When Misha replied with just more confusion on his enormous features, Karl grabbed the man by the wrist and pulled him over to where he needed to be. "This should pop off, since I've already loosened the couplings. Unfortunately, I believe it is stu--a"

With barely a twinge of resistance, Misha tore away the console, including the metal frame that a few of the locks disquised as screw bolts were still attached to. "Looks like you didn't twist," the large man gestured to one of the still-turned latches and held it up to Karl's face.

"Thanks," Karl muttered as he gently pushed aside the wreckage and turned his attention to the lever that lay within the now exposed inset. "Let's hope that this still works," he whispered softly as he crouched down and plugged his safety override into the slot next to the device. After a flicker of lights, Karl grabbed the red lever and slid it down.

All throughout the room, the once dull glow of lights flared as everything started to shudder.

"What the heck?" Della shouted as she craned her neck to see what was transpiring behind her. "What's happening?"

"We're leaving," Karl muttered.

Mortimer Mouse
All other survivors

As the Syntech ark had shuddered and split at the seams, it had been a limping Mortimer Mouse who had found himself almost one of the man caught in the wrong region of the ship. With the area behind him letting out noises he wanted no part of, the wounded rodent hustled forward, heavily favoring a left leg that had been injured while he was trying to manually close an automatic door. Something on the other side had grabbed him and tried to drag him back under the closed hatch, and while part of the leg was bonafidely crushed, he'd managed to brace himself on the rest of it and push, pulling himself out and trapping the writing, deformed limb beneath the steel hatch.

"I'm almost there!" Mortimer rasped he heard the faraway whine of collapsing steel. Up ahead, the other survivors were pushing and shoving their way through a circular entranceway. Based on the wailing klaxons and the flashing red lights, the mouse correctly assumed that time was running short for him to get onto the other side of yet another metal hatch. "Help!" Good grief, he was appaled just to hear himself shout those words, but in this moment, he valued his life more than his pride.

As he lurched across the metal hallway, Mortimer was sure that he was going to die out here, just a dozen or so hards from salvation, but just as it seemed his bum leg would give out on him, a pair of people moved in to catch him.

"Hang in there," one of them mentioned as Mortimer, a relaxed, blood-smeared grin on his face, lost consciouness.

When Mortimer regained awareness of his surroundings, he saw that he was lying in a room bathed in, for once in the longest time, bright white lights. As his vision cleared up, he saw that he must be in some sort of medical storage, because there were some other tables, but those ones were covered in figures drapped with bloodstained white sheets.

"Guess they thought I was dead?" He muttered as he looked down to see that his partially crushed foot was... surprisingly better looking? "Huh." He remarked as he stretched out muscles and worked bones that felt even better than they had for nearly his entire adult life.

The door opened and someone wearing a lab coat strode in, almost failing to notice Mortimer until they were halfway across the room. When they saw the mouse sitting upright on the metal slab, the doctor dropped his clipboard as he slowly turned his eyes to the smirking figure.

"Hey, Pal."

***

“I’m losing power,” Della Duck shouted as she craned her neck to find Karl Jak. The raggedy man wasn’t present, but his sidekick with the clipboard came jogging into the cockpit.

“Everything okay?”

Della Duck furrowed her brow before gesturing to the sea of red lights all around her. “Power’s failing, and I’m not s…” The duck was cut off by the vessel suddenly rolling ninety degrees to the left and being unable to right itself, causing Kevin to go crashing down against the wall. “This doesn’t make sense.” Her eyes caught something as she tried to catch a glimpse of something near the edge of the cockpit’s field of view. “I think we’re crashing.”

Kevin, his spine throbbing and something sparking weakly against his lower back, had a better view of the planetoid as the ship went into a downward spiral.

Echo, you didn't post, so *now* you're dead.
Mortimer Mouse has been eliminated from final prize contention -- he'll also discover that he's been clinically dead for the last 3 hours.

There are roughly two dozen survivors, outside of the people already mentioned in this post. The vessel you’re in will crash onto a planetoid roughly half the size of the moon. This planetoid has an atmosphere and day/night cycles yet there is no sun or stars in the sky. Feel free to take this round to just… have the ship crash and then you all can interact with one another as you see fit. With the next round, I’ll put you on a slightly more linear trajectory.

Please post at least once during the upcoming week (Rough deadline of Saturday, March 20th at 11:59 PM.
 
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