Voidus

What Happened in Salem

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Savannah nursed his drink, eyes lost in thought as he contemplated the coming day.

"Hey, Savannah right? You're in the arena tomorrow." An elderly man sat across the table from Savannah, the mans turquoise tophat marked him as either an Epic or completely insane.

"Yes that's right, and you are?"

"Ah scuse me manners, Brighthead at your service." The man swept a seated bow to Savnnah, almost smashing his flushed face into the table as he did so.

"Whoops. Well I'm jus a minor so I haven't been in the arena yet, I watched that match with Fundemented and whashisname last week, man that was good. Never would have called that he'd use that pencil in the end. So anyways, nervous for tomorrow? You're gonna meet Soulcaster himself and all."

Savannah nodded grimly. Fear overpowering his pride.

"Very nervous, I mean he's got to be one of the strongest Epics in the state. I hear he has a super powerful Epic in his employ that he just uses to set his watch in the morning!"

Brighthead laughed at that, finishing off his beer in one massive gulp.

"Well yer sort of right on that, but also completely wrong. You got a place to stay? You probly already got one here in the champions bar and all I got is a little two story downtown but you're welcome if you'd like."

Grimacing Savannah regained some of his usual arrogance, adressing the minor Epic coldly.

"I'll be fine to get accommodations by myself thanks."

"Ah thas much better." Brightdeath said, nodding in approval. "Got to carry yaself right or Soulcaster might just give ya some 'assistance'. Turned one guy into a lemur for his match cause he thought he was 'too short for an Epic'. Well, drink up next rounds on me."

Nervously Savannah accepted the offer, the information doing nothing to dispel his worries at meeting Soulcaster. Still some 'liquid courage' couldn't hurt right? And he still had plenty of time to head up to his rooms and get rest before the next day arrived.

"Make it two rounds and you can stay and drink with me." Savannah agreed.

"Ah tha sounds like a good deal to me. Just so's you know though, drinks are free fer Epics anyway." Brighthead said with a wink before ducking under Savannah's clumsy smack to his head.

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Inhuman leaned back in the booth, sipping a root beer. He cautiously studied the room. Vanilla's drinking soda and eating fries, some Epics in the booths. A person slid into the booth. Inhuman reacted instantly, pulling out a knife from a sheath under the table. Inhuman's hand relaxed.

" You almost gave me a heart attack, Anaconda. " Inhuman commented.

" And you almost put cold steel in my face. " Anaconda joked. Both men smiled. Inhuman had met Anaconda over 5 years ago, back in Nashville. Celsius and Rewind had joined them after a brief stint in Corvallis.

That place sucked. So did Portland. Some weird lady had turned his knife into a pencil. And then called him a poophead.

"Celsius and Rewind are on their way, Inhuman." Inhuman did not respond to Anaconda's comment. He was staring at the man sitting near them. He was talking to a older man.

" Anaconda. " Inhuman whispered forcefully.

" What?"

" I think that is Savannah and Brighthead. " Inhuman said. " No way..." Anaconda whispered. Inhuman stood up. " What are you doing!" Anaconda said, as Inhuman walked right by Savannah's table. His fight was soon.

Edited by Venture Mistborn
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Five years. Outlaw had counted each and every one of them. Five years of sweat, labor, and pain. Five years of trail dust and the drudgery of the open road. Five years of combing the deserts of Oregon, not even knowing where his next meal would come from.

 

All of it was now past. Some friends were worth fighting for, but none were worth dying for. Outlaw's last brush in Keizer had nearly cost him his life. He saw that as a sign: He had fulfilled his obligation to try and find Orange Crush, and could finally move on.

 

So it was with a relieved resignation that Outlaw prodded Shadowfax towards the center of Salem that day, seeking out the local saloon. His horse drew stares as it plodded along. Outlaw wasn't surprised. In the wild places of Oregon, drifters turned out to be enemies as often as friends, attacking the communities that gave them shelter and slaughtering the townsfolk. Outlaw had actually done that himself a few times, with his posse, and found it to be quite exhilarating.

 

That wasn't his current intention, however. It was time to make something of himself, and that meant Outlaw was going straight. He obligingly tipped his hat to the sheriff as he passed by.

 

A voice sounded behind him. "You new here, buddy?"

 

Outlaw turned his horse around. The sheriff had taken notice of him. Well, sparks. I hope I'm not recognized. "I've been roundabouts before," he answered in a voice laced with Western drawl, "But I haven't really made an impression in Salem yet."

 

The sheriff grinned, then said in a mocking tone "Well, you're making quite an impression now, I'd say." He paused. "You've got to be an Epic, right?"

 

Outlaw spat. "I don't need no sparking Indian magics to get an edge in a fight, if that's what you're asking."

 

"So you're... not?" The sheriff blinked. "You do realize you're riding around on a sparking moose, right?"

 

Moose? What? Outlaw was tempted to believe that this officer of the law had just insulted his mount. "You got a name, son?"

 

The sheriff paused, then muttered something to himself about delusional Epics. "I'm Mouldbreaker, Chief Aide to Soulcaster, the Ruler of Salem. Got that?" Outlaw nodded. "I don't know if you plan to cause trouble here, but if you do, I suggest you save it for the fights. There are a lot of legends about this place, but the real Salem is a relatively stable town, and I'm authorized to maintain that stability by whatever means necessary, even if it means murder. You do know what transfersion is, right?"

 

Outlaw appreciated the man's directness. "I reckon I do, Sheriff Breaker."

 

"Well, let's just say that I can deliberately transfersate non-organic matter into a very powerful, very deadly substance, and if you start causing trouble, you will find yourself drowning in a pool of it."

 

"Crystal clear, Sheriff. I do respect your authority here, so you've got nothin' to worry about."

 

The Sheriff narrowed his eyes, as if trying to piece together Outlaw's intentions. "Well, we can get you into the fights if you're interested. Just go to the bar and write down your powerset. The prizes are good, and well worth it."

 

"Good? Like fifty bucks and a free lunch good?"

 

Breaker's face relaxed, and then he laughed. "More like everything you've ever wanted good. Keep heading down Main Street and you'll find that bar. I hope to see you in the Arena sometime."

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Maria Josephina, also known as Lady Deathskull, opened her eyes.

 

The sun peeked through the gaps in her window curtains, blinding her with its brightness. With a sigh, she reached up and rang the bell, alerting the kitchen that she was awake and in need of breakfast and coffee. Deathskull raised herself up with her powers, hovering into the air sideways and then rotating to sit on the edge of the bed with her crippled, useless legs hanging off the side. How she hated those legs.

 

She shivered as she remembered the nightmares of last night.

Her daughter, shoving her away. Her daughter's boyfriend, punching her in the face, knocking her to the ground. Both of them, kicking her, bashing her with their fists, forcing her face into the carpet. All she could see was red, red and that pattern. Diamond, diamond, circle diamond. Repeating endlessly. Every painful thud driving it deeper into her mind, narrowing her vision and her focus until that blasted pattern consumed her mind. 

The nightmares been particularly bad, this time. 

 

It was that very incident that had cost her her legs, a blow to the spine that couldn't be healed.

 

Shaking her head to clear the vestiges of those dark thoughts away, she turned as a light knock rapped on her door. Lifting herself up, Deathskull pulled her metal towards her in liquid form, within seconds coating her entire body in silver armour. Topping it off was a skull-faced helmet, covering her black hair and Hispanic features completely. "Enter."

 

The door creaked open, and a heavyset, middle-aged Mexican women entered, carrying a tray with both hands. On the tray was her favourite in the morning- bacon, eggs, a single pancake covered in syrup and a piping hot cup of coffee. The woman laid the tray down on the nearby table, and Lady Deathskull approached, moving both her leg armour and lengths of metal embedded in her legs to simulate walking. With no feeling below her waist, it had taken a lot of practice to do it properly, but in the past few years she had managed it.

 

Deathskull sat down, the servant waiting to be dismissed. The Epic sipped her coffee first, and grimaced. "This coffee is far too hot." With a tiny movement of her index finger, the servant gasped in pain, and clutched her wrist. All her servants wore metal bracelets around their body, so that all Deathskull needed to do to offer some.... negative reinforcement was squeeze. After several seconds, she relented, and the women sighed in relief as the bracelet returned to a comfortable size. Her wrist was bruised, and very sore, but nothing had been broken, thankfully. This time.

 

"As I have said, my coffee must never exceed my specified temperature at the time of serving. Bring me a hot coffee again and I might cut your hand off next time. You were lucky to catch me in a good mood."

 

"Yes, I was... mistress"

 

"Indeed. You are dismissed, Juana." The woman curtsied and hurried away, not even minding anymore that Deathskull had gotten her name wrong again. In fact, Gabriela couldn't remember a time she had gotten it right.

 

 

 

After finishing her breakfast, Lady Deathskull rang another bell, and soon a different servant was here to attend to her. "Yes, my mistress?"

"I'm leaving, Jose."

"Leaving, mistress?" Daniel replied.

"Yes. For a week, at least. Maybe more."

"Oh... Very well."

Deathskull looked at him expectantly. "Well? Don't you want to know where? Or why?"

"I..."

"Of course you do! You see.... I am bored, Jose. This life, an isolated villa, a few servants, it is all lovely. But.... it just isn't fun anymore. Even killing those travellers the other week didn't cheer me up, and you know how a little hunt has always cheered me up before."

Daniel gulped. "Of c-course, my lady."

"I need... a challenge. I need more out of life. The last time I had real, real fun was when I had that little skirmish with La Fatalidad? And he blew up half the grounds? Ah, now THAT was fun!"

"So... you are going to fight other Epics?"

"Of course I am you stupid boy! But more than that... I have heard rumours, whispers really, of a place in America. A place where Epics go into... some other dimension to fight, without danger of death. And the winners... the winners get everything they could ever want. A place called Salem."

 

With that, Deathskull rose into the air, and opened the window with a gesture. "Until I get back, you are in charge, Jose. And don't worry, I will make sure to regale you all with tales of my daring adventures! My adoring subjects, I will tell you all what happened in Salem!"

 

Without further ado, Lady Deathskull turned away from her bemused servant and soared out of the window.

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Bone strode into the bar. Her twisted bones cracked against each other as she walked. She learned forward, bones jutting out of her chest. On her back, spikes of bone jutted out. People looked at her, then looked away. Her disfigured body wasn't necessarily pretty. In fact, it was terrifying. 

 

"This..." Her voice was the same. Soft, silky, feminine. Not the type of voice you'd expect to hear from a monster. Her hair went all the way down to the floor. Inside of it was bone spikes. If anyone grabbed her hair-and they did-they'd get a nasty surprise. Of course, few ever lived to do so. Usually they were dead by the time they got close. 

Or part of her. 

 

Bone grew her bones. It was as simply as breathing to her, now it was. So easy. So simple. Bone's back ripped open, a new spike jutting up through her back. Bone grinned at the vanillas in the bar. They were drinking sodas, maybe eating. But they all leaned away from her. "This is Salem, I assume."

 

"Ye-es." A vanilla stammered.

 

"Good." Bone said. "Now, where do I sign up for these fights?" She put emphasis on fights. Then smiled. Teeth was bone too. And her jaw hung open, huge fangs opened in her mouth.

 

Bone's forehead was split in two. There was a bone horn coming out of it. All of her bones were twisted into strange shapes. She was super flexible now her bone was split.

 

She used her bones like multiple limbs. And not all of this bone was her own. Most of it wasn't. Most absorbed from those she'd killed. She could only manipulate bone that was part of her, but if she stabbed a person's skin and touched their bones, then she could take their own bones as her own.

 

Words were carved directly into the bone. Names of those she'd killed in fights. There was skulls half melted into her back. Bone everywhere. 

 

Bone snapped off the tip of the bone spike she grew. She couldn't make more bone, but that bone was taken out of useless bone. She had a large amount of useless bone. It went dead, cut off of her control. It was flat and Bone had carved her name and power set into it.

A kind of disturbing business card.

 

Bone squatted next to the table where the Epics Savannah and Brighthead were sitting. Useless bone went out of her body and built up a chair for her. 

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Inhuman stood, confident as he looked around the room. And then he saw the woman with a bone spike with the bone spike in her forehead. She was pulling a chair up to Savannah and Brighthead's table.

" Cmon, Inhuman." Anaconda said, pulling on his arm. " We can't do this." Inhuman pulled his fingers off.

" Shut up!" Inhuman barked. Suddenly, Anaconda's arm elongated, lifting him off the floor.

" Don't talk to me like that." Anaconda snarled. " If you do, I will crush your head like a soda can. It will be very painful." Anaconda's grip tightened, cutting off Inhuman's air supply.

Gills popped out of Inhuman's cheeks. He kept breathing easily. Anaconda dropped him. Inhuman landed easily. Anaconda relaxed.

Inhuman grimanced, then pulled up a chair to the Epic table.

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Watching the troop of Epics approaching his table, Savannah finished his drink off in one gulp. Be they opponents or fans he was going to need some alcoholic assistance to get through these.

One of the Epics, a grotesque specimen of walking bone created her own bleached white ivory chair from within her own body.

"Nice." Savannah said, stifling a small hiccup. "Competing tomorrow are we? I'm Savannah, this is Brightdeath."

"Brighthead" his drunken companion corrected "Brightdeath is this whole other fella. I even got me hat so's people would 'member but people is always forgettin me name."

"Should have gone with Brightdeath" Savannah said "Way less depressing."

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Lady Deathskull slowly lowered herself to the ground. In the week since she had left her villa in central Mexico, she had seen a number of strange things. The giant dome a few miles to the north was one of these- what an interesting place must be under that thing....

She had also learned a number of things. Foremost was that there were multiple Salems in America. " a silly country, to name multiple cities after the witch-trial place." She thought to herself.

Looking around, she stood on the edge of the Salem in Oregon, apparently the one she had heard had an arena of sorts. The place seemed deserted, although she supposed it was getting late. Well, it was completely dark. Her metal sense wasn't fine enough to detect minute metal traces, but she could tell roughly where every building was.

Walking through the dark streets, Deathskull came to a building that seemed quite lively. Noise came forth from it, and she decided that this was the place to announce her presence. She extended the metal around her hand, and pushed the door open.

She flew in, hovering a few feet above the ground. "I am Lady Deathskull! Tremble in fear and bow before me!" The vanillas in the room jumped and ducked for cover, some obeying her and bowing. But one table didn't. Epics, presumably. "I have come to participate in these fights that your ruler stages, between Epics. I plan to win them."

With that, she hovered over to the Epic table, and formed a seat with her metal. "Epics, I presume?"

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Mouldbreaker was about to let the new Epic head down to Salem's nearest recruiting station when his radio crackled to life. "Webb?" Asked a voice laced with static, "This is Think Tank. I'm seeing a 10-24 going down at my building."

 

A new Epic had arrived in town and was bullying vanillas. "Powers?"

 

"Looks like some sort of metal manipulator. No fatalities yet, but I don't like her attitude. She gave her name as 'Lady Deathskull,' if that gives you any indication of her sense of drama."

 

Mouldbreaker considered bringing backup. Antithesis could negate entropy and energy manipulation, which could come in handy if her powers involved magnetic fields instead of straight-up "Quicksilver" powers. The other Chief Peacekeeper, Showstopper, could negate a single Epic ability completely, though Mouldbreaker was always hesitant to use her. Things got... scary, whenever she was given free reign.

 

"I'll handle this one myself. Just make sure she doesn't go off the rails until I arrive."

 

Mouldbreaker pocketed his radio and turned to the delusional, moose-riding Epic he had been talking to earlier. The man looked curious. "Nevermind about heading down there alone. I'll walk you over myself."

 

He indicated to continue down the street.

 

As they were walking, the Epic spoke up. "So about these 'fights' you mentioned..."

 

"Completely nonlethal" Mouldbreaker said, launching half-interestedly into his pitch. "Our town's ruler, Soulcaster, has the ability to put people into a trance-like state where their perceived reality can be warped into whatever he chooses. On fight days, people have the opportunity to gather into McCulloch stadium and receive this treatment, then watch real Epics go at it in an environment that allows them to fight without pulling punches. A team of researchers even created a sort of reverse brain-in-a-vat device that allows the matches to be televised, so people around the world who still have access to Cable can watch them.

 

"So long as the fight isn't a grudge match, it's usually pretty varied. There are multiple ways to duke it out, including simulated turf wars, last-man-standing survival games, and unpowered hand-to-hand combat. The arena designs themselves are very creative. There was this on time where there was this giant glass sphere with artificial gravity all around, and-"

 

"Prizes?"

 

"What?"

 

"Ya mentioned prizes a few minutes ago."

 

"Ah. Soulcaster also uses his powers to put victors into something we call 'Dreamstate.' It's a sort of individualized reality where you attain power, abilities, and gifts according to your success in the arena. The experience can get highly addictive, and many of the arena participants are full-out hooked on their Dreamstate paradises."

 

He continued on, outlining the current big names in the arena and the ranking system. As they approached the entrance to Think Tank's bar, Mouldbreaker signaled the man to stop. "Epics like this typically have to be humbled and humiliated before they cooperate, so I'd leave any metal objects out here so that I don't have to tranfersate them to keep her from using them against us." He unholstered his handgun and set it on the ground, then pushed the doors open, wondering how the situation had developed since the call.

Edited by Mckeedee123
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Substance entered the bar in wich what seemed like an epic reunion was taking place. He didnt see anyone noticing him enter, but them again, some epics were more....resourceful than what they seemed. Yeah, Substance had had some unpleseant memories with epics like that.
A bartender vanilla came to him and asked if he wanted anything. "Give me a glass of cool water" he said, dryly. But hey, he WAS dry. The Oregon sun had scorched him as he slid through the deserts and cities. Zig zaging, leaving a faint trace of muckus behind...."Please" he added, and the bartender leaved, and returned a second later with a glass of water. "Sparks Isaac, which sparking epic says please anymore?" He thought to himself. Hadnt he learned the hard way that showing respect, or Even acknowledging vanillas marked you as weak?

Hadn't the death of FlightDragon taught him anything?

Thinking about his friend brought back memories. He remembered how they usted to rule a little town, how they treated vanillas as equals.
How his friend always teased him about only having defensive abilities...
But in the end, It was the same defensive abilities that saved him, when Critical Hit came to their town and killed everyone.
Everyone but him.

He looked a his glass of water, spit on It, and then proceeded to drink it. It was an old habit of his's. Apparently the mysterious green substance that came out of him, somehow dissolved all kinds of poisons, making him inmune to them. Did he have to spit in his water? No. Did he like watching It turn greenish and faintly glow? Yes. DragonFlight and him did It all the time.....

He watched a man with what felt an air of authority rush inside. The man gave him a curious look before heading over with the rest of the epics.

It was the cape wasn't It.? The only clothing Substance usually wore was a fluorecent green cape with a Toxic Symbol on It. He had designed it a copule of years ago, a few days after he gained his powers. What? He had thought It looked cool.... Not that the Substance that covered him was corrosive or harmful in any
way.....no, his luck had It so that the Substance he made actually healed when he wanted It to....That sparking calamity star who gave him this....curse.......



He was sitting there, alone as usual and thinking to himself, What chances did he really stand against all these people?

Edited by Random_illuminati
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Savannah looked towards the flying Epic, quickly becoming used to the high concentration of Epics that Salem was home to he'd barely batted an eye at the dramatic entrance.

As she hovered her way towards the table Savannah set down his drink, his eyes steadily changing colour as he began his transformation.

He would show this Epic how to behave in public, he'd bound across the table in an instant, claws reaching for the jugular and-

Brighthead, uncharacteristically co-ordinated for a moment reached across the table to grab a hold of Savannah's arm before briefly shaking his head.

Taking the hint, Savannah released his transformation, eyes returning to normal.

Right, no fighting, no killing, no causing disturbances.

Savannah did not know what exactly Soulcaster did to people who broke his rules but he'd heard stories, the least of which were enough to keep him from trying anything even remotely rebellious in town.

The door opened once more, a pair entered, the one in the lead quickly scanning the bar before locking eyes on the metal-manipulating newcomer.

Town enforcement then. Savannah noted someone must have tripped an alarm or something.

Suddenly glad that Brighthead had stopped him from transforming and attacking the Epic, Savannah leant back into his chair, draining his drink.

"Well, it's been fun gents but I'm off to rest for tomorrows match. Enjoy your drinks."
Excusing himself, Savannah left the table, drawing a small stream of water into himself to rehydrate.

I'd hate to think of what would happen if I showed up hungover tomorrow.

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Nighthunter watched the people in the bar. His abilities allowed him to sense Epics, and there was a sure heck of a lot of them in the room. No killing today. He lowered the Quinza Gravatonic MS-6. Shame he couldn't use it. It would be fun to put a bullet through Inhuman's head. The former bounty hunter would probably not die from a minor wound like that. His healing factor could save him.

"Maverick is in position." Coppercloud reported, walking up to join him. 400 feet below him, Inhuman sipped a root beer.

"Good. If anything goes bad, he can blow Inhuman sky high." Nighthunter replied. "There still is the question of Anaconda. He might still be loyal to Inhuman."

"Nah." Coppercloud said with a smile on his face. "Inhuman doesn't even realize that his 'friends' are actually with us."

Nighthunter grinned back. It was going to be a good day.

Maverick:

Maverick sidled through the crowds, keeping a eye on everyone. 2 security guards by the door, armed with Glock Automatic pistols and a big ego. A lady, pretending to text on her mobile, but using the camera to see what was happening in the room. She also had a knife on the inside of her boot. Celsius strolled up to him, keeping a eye on the guards.

"What the heck are you doing!" Celsius whispered forcefully. " If Inhuman finds out he is going to kill me. Just beacause I am part of your little-"

" We are not a little group." Maverick retaliated. " We have over 6 High Epics and over 20 regular Epics. We also employ over 100 vanillas. Do not talk to me like that or I will kill you personally."

Celsius snarled, but walked away to join Inhuman, the traitor, at his table. Maverick had another job.

Edited by Venture Mistborn
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"Lady Deathskull" was still there when he entered the bar.

 

Good. Mouldbreaker took a deep breath, then transfersated a tiny patch of earth a few feet below the ground. The feelings of his Corruption began to flow through him: Anger at everyone else's ineptitude, a notion of superiority, and a drive to conquer and dominate others. Mouldbreaker's Corruption, in small doses, turned him into a petty bully. He was fine with that. He used that. Petty bullying was basically the Salem City Guard's job.

 

He strode forward, gripping his blackjack underneath his coat.

 

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Outlaw let Shadowfax run free once he and the sheriff had apparently reached their destination. He could always call the horse back if he needed him.

 

"Epics like this typically have to be humbled and humiliated before they cooperate, so I'd leave any metal objects out here so that I don't have to tranfersate them to keep her from using them against us."

 

He nodded. Transfersation... Outlaw wasn't completely sure what a Skinwalker had to do to in order to attain that level of power, but it had to be bad. From what Outlaw knew, most transfersion abilities were involuntary and could only simultaneously affect all solid and liquid matter in a given area. Having the ability to choose what he changed made Breaker both unique and powerful.

 

He dropped his gun onto the ground. It was a shame that he wouldn't be able to use it if things went bad, seeing as he was the fastest draw in the State. Mentally going through his belongings, he also dropped his belt and Bowie Knife.

 

Many of the saloon's patrons appeared to be on edge when Outlaw entered the room. Some were clearly newcomers, and they didn't seem to care much about the new Skinwalker's disturbance. The rest were nervously cutting their eyes between Breaker and the Deathskull lady. Actually, it wasn't exactly clear to Outlaw what exactly Deathskull had done to draw the Town Lawkeepers' ire, but Breaker was obviously preparing himself for a fight. As Outlaw watched, the sheriff took a deep breath and then turned his usual, bored expression into a hostile glare aimed at the oblivious Skinwalker.

 

Outlaw followed him across the room until the sheriff was standing over the metal manipulator, hiding his right hand underneath his coat. Holding a weapon? The man reached out with his free hand and tapped hard on Deathskull's metal-plated shoulder.

 

"How's it going, cupcake? You mind telling me why you've been running around threatening the citizens of Salem?"

Edited by Mckeedee123
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Lady Deathskull was quite disappointed with the rudeness of her company. Not only did they not say anything to her question, one just up and walked away! No manners in this country. Although the one that seemed to be made out of bone certainly had style. She could forgive rudeness if proper style was achieved.

Suddenly someone tapped her on the shoulder. "How's it going, cupcake? You mind telling me why you've been running around threatening the citizens of Salem?"

Standing and turning, Deathskull saw the person, presumably an Epic, and he was accompanied by some apparent cowboy. Finally, someone who was willing to talk!

"My name," Deathskull began, bowing slightly, "is Lady Deathskull. I have travelled far and wide to come here. I wish to join in with these fights that whoever runs this city stages. Both for fun and for the promised rewards. Are you the master of this city, or some kind of enforcer?"

She then remembered his question. "oh... But why wouldn't I be able to scare them? Fear and politeness are the best methods to inspire obedience, I have found."

Edited by Blackhoof
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Substance sat isolated from everyone, staring at his now greenish water. He could see out of the corner of his eye how the security tightened all around him. Lots and lots of vanilla guards started taking over seemingly random corners. Some of them might have also been epics, for all he knew. They moved with so much confidence....so much...power. Taking a closer look at them, and at other vanillas in the bar, he realized they all moved exactly the same way. "Wow." He marveled. "They don't fear epics..." Could this small town be a town ruled by epics and vanillas, as equals? Nah...most likely it was a cheap copy of that other place he slid through...what was its name....

 

Oh yeah, Corvallis.

 

"Ya know...in this town epics and vanillas help each other deal with epics and mantain control over the chaos that usually winds up here"

 

Wait..who had said that? He looked up and saw a beautiful woman of about 22 maybe? Close to his age, anyway. She had blonde hair and green eyes. Sparks, he had never been good at talking to girls. and wait...She was the same bartender that had given him his drink. Had he really not noticed her before? He needed to stop taking his stupid trips to memory land. Should he talk to her or just quietly dissolve into a pool of green liquid and head outside? 

 

"Thats cool, but....how did you know what i was thinking? Are you some kind of telepath epic?"

 

"You said all that out oud..."

 

Of course he had. Sparks, he needed to learn to keep his mouth shut. he turned a deep shade of red.

 

Seeing his sudden blush the bartender laughed. 

 

"Whats wrong with you, Swamp Man? You have been staring at your glass of water, wich for some reason is now green, for over half an hour and you isolated yourself from the rest of the epics." Oh boy...he hated it when people confronted him about why he chose to go to a quiet corner while the party took place elsewhere. 

"I...i guess i never liked how epics act. Most of them think of themselves as gods...even if their powers are complete trash! You know...that reminds me, i once heard of an epic who could make Sausage MCmuffins appear out of his pocket..."

She laughed at the last comment and then said: "What about you? You don't seem to be that way at all."

He hesitated at this question. Most epics were touchy on this subject of personality changes thanks to powers. Touchy to the point of killing if pushed hard enough on the subject. 

 

"Well...i...shortly i gained my powers my best friend was in danger, so i risked my life to save him, in doing so i faced an epic called JumpScare . He made me face my biggest fears, but i killed him. I grabbed a gun and i shot that bastard in the face." He could still remember his screams, as he was tortured by his worst nightmares.. "For some reason, after i killed him, i stopped thinking the way most epics do." Should he really be telling her all his secrets? Man..he was really desperate, he hadn't had a conversation this long with anyone in months. "My friend died a few months later, killed by an epic named Critical Hit. I guess you could say it was pointless saving him anyway."

 

"Hey, sorry man. Whats your name?"

 

"Substance."

 

"No, i mean your real name. Im Susan, by the way. Susan Williams."

 

"Isaac, Isaac Greenson."

 

They looked at each other in the eyes for a second, and kept talking. "Who knows?" Thought Substance. Maybe this trip will be worth it.

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Lady Deathskull stood and turned towards Mouldbreaker, her expression masked by a metal faceplate that was, unsurprisingly, shaped like a grinning skull. This should be good.

 

"My name," the Epic began in a thick Mexican accent, "is Lady Deathskull. I have travelled far and wide to come here. I wish to join in with these fights that whoever runs this city stages. Both for fun and for the promised rewards. Are you the master of this city, or some kind of enforcer?"

 

Well... sparks. Kind of hard to find an excuse to pummel an Epic's face into the pavement when she's actually being pretty polite.

 

She continued. "Oh... But why wouldn't I be able to scare them? Fear and politeness are the best methods to inspire obedience, I have found." 

 

Mouldbreaker ground his teeth. He had come into the bar expecting an amusing confrontation, and all he got was some simpering old Mexican woman. Next time Think Tank called in a violation, he might just let Showstopper address it instead, probably blowing the whole bar up in the process.

 

But Soulcaster would have his head if he blew off an Epic as powerful as this. Trying to shake off his Corruption, Mouldbreaker bit off an introduction. "Yes, I'm the leader if Law Enforcement here. Short version: I'm the nice one, so stay on my good side."

 

The skull mask just stared at him, hiding the expression underneath. Mouldbreaker was tempted to transfersate it just to punish the woman for not giving him his fun.

 

"If you win enough matches to gain Soulcaster's favor, you can go psycho on these vanillas for all I care, but in the meantime you're at the bottom of the pecking order. Around here, being an Epic isn't an excuse to commit random acts of violence until you've clawed your way to the top. If I so much as get an anonymous tip that you've been hurting people outside of the arena, I'll just stroll on over and terminate you.

 

"Head over to Think Tank and fill out an entry form, if you're feeling up to it. I'd love to see you in the arena sometime." Getting your head crushed by Supermaximus

 

Outlaw was peering over his shoulder. Breaker gestured that he should do the same, then ignored Deathskull's response and stormed outside.

Edited by Mckeedee123
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Lady Deathskull listened while the man talked. A town where Epics could not even intimidate humans without being in favour with the ruler? The thought was strange. But then, Deathskull thought, I would hate anyone so much as speaking to my humans without my permission. They are mine, after all.

 

The man continued, his demeanour both angry and threatening, but he didn't seem about to attack her. "Head over to Think Tank and fill out an entry form, if you're feeling up to it. I'd love to see you in the arena sometime." She could feel the insincerity in his voice. What a rude man. 

 

Deathskull moved the teeth of her skull into a slightly friendlier grin. "Of course, I will respect and follow the law of-" But the man just walked away while she was still talking. Her eyes flared, and she nearly lost her temper, planning for a moment to lash out with a spike of metal and sever his insolent head from his insufferably impolite body. No, no, calm down, she told herself, taking a deep breath. That will just get the entire city against you, and you will have to kill them all and return to your villa in shame and failure. 

 

She calmed down, and reassured herself that that stupid enforcer probably wasn't worth her time. What could he even do that could stop her? Not even worth the effort. He had left the building before she realised that she had no idea who Think Tank was and he had left before she could ask him. Approaching a nearby waiter, she asked for directions to the one called Think Tank, which were given quickly and politely. 

 

"Now," she said to herself, "time to sign up."

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Savannah awoke with bleary eyes as someone roughly shook his shoulders.

"Get up!" Someone hissed in his ears.

Blinking the sleep out of his eyes and clutching his head Savannah examined his rude awakener. A short middle aged man, spindly limbs now prodding Savannah out of bed.

"Who the hell are you?!" Savannah demanded. "Do you know who I am!?"

"Right now you're late, and that's not a good thing to be, for you or for me. Soulcaster sent word that your match has been moved to the early shift, 5am start, if you're not there then... well you'd best be there."

"What?" Confusion written across his face, the shapeshifter rattled off a quickfire series of questions.
"Why? Where? I thought it wasn't until the afternoon that I'd even meet Soulcaster? You can't give me this little time!"

"I don't know, apparently someone woke him up to report about a brawl in the bar and that you were involved, just be thankful all he's doing is waking you up in return."

A whirlwind of movement errupted as the spindly man moved with startling speed, force feeding a bowl of food into Savannahs mouth with one hand while grooming and dressing him with the other.

Ten minutes later, a somewhat more conscious Savannah left the building at a sprint, a short time later he'd skidded to a halt outside the entrance to the arena that the Inkeeper had told him about.

His opponent nodded gingerly to him, still rubbing his own eyes. Even Epics were too tired to put on their usual facade of arrogance sometimes it seemed.

Someone came through the doorway, hastily grabbing both Epics by the arm and ushering them through into the building. A bare glimpse of worked stone caught Savannahs eye before he was ushered forwards, their guide quickly navigating through several corridors before finally leading them through a large archway and immediately dropping to one knee, the two Epics half dragged along with him into an awkward bowing posture before their hands were released.

"So, finally here are we?" A soft voice said as the air in front of them warped, a figure appearing and surveying them.

Savannahs first impression of Soulcaster was... underwhelming.
For someone who'd been touted as one of the strongest Epics in the fractured states, able to fight even most High Epics with ease, the appearance was somewhat, off. A grey suit and tiea body that was not particularly imposing and carefully styled hair, Soulcaster resembled nothing more than a professional accountant or perhaps a bureaucrat of some kind.

The fear of their guide however was palpable, the only indicator as to what might happen if this unthreatening accountant were in any way annoyed.

"Well, it is the way of Salem to let our guests atone for any mistakes by bringing entertainment. Be off with you then, do try to make it... entertaining."

The figure brushed both Epics with an etheral fingertip, the faintest sensation of something cool touching his skin and then everything faded to black around Savannah.

Eyes opening and waking up for the second time in an hour, Savannah observed the real Arena of Salem.

The Astral plane, where Epics, humans and sometimes monsters engaged in gruesome combat for the enjoyment of Soulcasters city.

So why exactly was there pink cotton candy on the wall?

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Substance sat isolated from everyone else. Well...almost everyone. He was talking like an idiot to a pretty girl. Did he ever suspect that she might have been an enemy gathering information, or did he ever Even get auspicios at her? No. Little Lonely Substance sat away from everyone else and talked to a random girl that had served him. Like mentioned above, he talked like an idiot.

"So...." She said, "Most epics here come and show their powers, to scare their fellow contestants." Then, with a big smile, she added.

"So...swamp boy, can you tell me what are yours?" He hesitated. The nerve of that woman! How did she expect him to just hand out his powers to a-

"Please" she added and all resistance to the question was swept away. Why the heck shouldn't he tell her? She was so numbingly beautiful and her eyes...Woah, did her eyes just shine? "Well...for starters, i can manipulate the mysterious green Substance that grows all over my skin." She nodded. Without question, he knew he should continue. "The substance i have somehow never runs out, and It keeps me neutured." She raised her eyebrow. "Neutured how?" With some hesitation returning to his voice he said: i mean, It helps me go without food and water for long ammounts of time. I have never seen a limit, but-" he stopped, remembering.

"I think the longest i''ve had to use It was for 5 months." He was starting to wonder if It was such a good idea to keep talking about his powers like that. Maybe he should- she laughed. "Wow, you are fantastic" she said, and he was hers again. Maybe he WAS fantastic, he thought to himself.

Yeah, he was so fantastic he had to prove It to her, he needed to answer whatever she said, he needed to obey her.

"All right, now tell me more, please!" He smiled drunkly at her. Her eyes were so beautiful... He manage to say: "About what?"

"About your prime defensive and offensive abilities, silly!" Maybe he should! He told himself. He would do anything to see her smile...

Then, she added: "Maybe....Even about your weakness..." Yeah, screw his weakness! He was going to tell her right away! Before he did though, he took one last look at her beautiful eyes...hey beautiful, shining, color changing eyes.

Wait a second.

Shiny, color changing eyes. God, she was a mind epic. How did he not notice before? She must have sensed a change in him, because she added: "i mean...if you would, Handsome." She even brushed a loose strand of hair from her face. Had he still been under her spell he might have thrown himself off a bridge had she ordered him, he suspected. But now It was diferent. Now he knew.

And he was pretty pissed off.

Edited by Random_illuminati
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"Well...my weakness just happens to be..." He started. "Random mind epics getting on my mind and messing with my brain!" He finished quickly and procceded to throw his green water at her. The glass shattered in her face and she started to shake.

Correction, the IMAGE of her started to shake. "She" started to shake uncontrollably and her image appeared and dissapeared randomly.

She seemed like a glitch. Like an illusion. Actually, that's what she was. After a few seconds of glitching, she soldified.

Well, actually, HE soldified. In her place stood a tall MALE epic in his twenties. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. Surprise flashed in his eyes for a second, but then he managed a Small laugh.

"I see you've got more willpower than most epics i've charmed before. The name is ThruthCharm, Want a kiss handsome?"

"What?" Substance managed to say. "You see, im in charge of interrogations around here. I take care of the suspicious epics and the ones SoulCaster sees as boring. You see, every once in a while an epic with...LAME powers comes in here and separates himself from the rest. We asumed you did because you were weak. Because you were boring. So i was sent to finish you off. Lame Fights are bad for Ratings you know? So...tell me Substance, are you lame? Are you weak? Are you...boring?" ThruthCharm looked at him. "Well?"

Goddammit! He thought. How did he dare play with his emotions? He should have known better...." Woah Isaac" he thought. "Feeling a bit corrupted arent we?"

He shook off that thought. This wasn't corruption. This was pure anger. And anger pushed him towards a stupid thing.

He punched ThruthCharm in the face. It was a quick, thoughtless jab. "What do you think, Susan?"

The Thruth epic spat blood. He smirked. "You are lucky mold breaker isn't here, he would have already turned you into jelly" he said.

"Hey, here are some interesting News, idiot. "Im already Jelly" Substance yelled and punched him again, this time in the stomach.

"You little-" ThruthCharm said and grabbed a silver pole he had in what seemed like a belt. "Good, Hit me..." Substance muttered.

He had been practicing for months what seemed to be his only offensive ability. ThruthCharm started swinging the pole from hand to hand, demonstrating he knew how to use the pole he had. He knew how to use It really well. Out of nowhere came a baseball-bat like swing with so much force It would have broken a normal person's neck.

When It Hit him however, his neck bended. It bended like the weeds one sees growing by the side of a river, when faced by wind.

His head bended until the base of his neck hit the Palm of his hand, and then It retreated, with easily 3 times the same force.

Substance wasn't Even sure he had bones anymore, as It didn't hurt him one bit.

With ThruthCharm It was an entirely diferent story, however. His head Hit the mind epic somewhere in his stomach, and he flew to the other side of the room, breaking a wall and possibly his ribs.

Substance smiled. Had the other epics seen THAT??? He looked around the room and was Surprised that no other epics were there.

Sparks, he had really taken his time talking...

Oh yeah, there might have not been any other epics, but they sure as heck were around 10 vanilla guards, with their guns pointed at him, ready to fire.

A few seconds later, they did. Substance didn't trying hiding. When the hundreds of lead projectiles Hit him, they went deep inside his skin, but then bounced off at once. Random guards were hit, he doubted any were killed by the ricochety storm he caused, but many were injured. Some Even in serious ways. A guard who appeared to lead the others said: "Sir, ThruthCharm, should we call ShowStopper?" ShowStopper? Who was that?

Even while injured, flattened against a wall, and hummilliated, ThruthCharm said:

"No...i have a feeling he will be good for Ratings. Substance, you bastard, you are up in the arena tomorrow."

Great, just great.

"DreamDrifter, do your thing now please." Dreamdrifter? An epic suddenly materialized beside him, and put his hands around his neck. He watched in horror as ThruthCharm began to slowly stand up from the ground, as he did, the sound of bones returning to place and closing of wounds was audible.

Of course ThruthCharm had regeneration powers...sparks. Also, why couldn't he move his body?

"You know what they say, Thruth hurts, but also heals." Substance didn't say a thing, Even if he had wanted, he couldn't have. He was completely paralyzed."Stupid epic." You can't just come to Soulcaster's place and thash things up without consequence!" Substance could only look back at him. "DreamDrifter here will now make you sleep, and when you wake up, you won't be in a happy place." He said. Then he felt extreme pain for a few seconds, and all was still.

All was quiet.

Edited by Random_illuminati
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Olivia Cipher was, perhaps, the most powerful human in the city.

Or at least, that was how she thought about it. 

She didn't like to think about the Epics as "humans." They were Epics. That was the point. They weren't human. Olivia was. They would call her vanilla. But that seemed offensive to Olivia. So she thought about herself as the most powerful human in the city. 

 

Why was she different than every other human in Salem?

 

One single reason.

A very simple one.

But a rather amusing one.

 

Of all humans in Salem, Olivia was encouraged to trash talk the Epics. 

 

And she was immune to their fighting back. Soulcaster had made it clear they weren't allowed to assassinate the commentators. The other commentator was an Epic, so there wasn't really any competition for the most powerful human in the city. 

 

Either way, Olivia sat in the commentator's box. She wore her black hair braided down her back. Her eyes were gold, a color that Olivia had rarely seen. She also had a talent of aggravating people. Which was good in a commentator. She remembered that from watching sports on TV pre-Calamity, though those sports were completely different.

 

For one thing, they weren't immune to superheros assassinating them. 
 

Which was why Olivia was better. 

 

She leaned back in the chair, crossing her legs.

 

The other reason was that the Salem bloodfights were much more interesting than any pre-Calamity sport. Though this one was... odd.

 

First of all, the arena was made of pink fluffy cotton candy. 

Second of all, the combatants had ice cream cones in hand.

 

Third of all - and most funny - was that both of the combatants were wearing pale purple tutus. Even though they were boys. 

They both looked annoyed. So far, only Olivia, Micro, and Soulcaster, plus the Epics in the arena, were there. 

Balloons popped into existence. And bubbles. Olivia looked at Micro, her fellow commentator, with amusement plain on her face. Had Soulcaster gone mad? 

He sat in the emperor's box, just above the commentators. Suddenly, the spectators began to appear. The seats were made of the same pink cotton candy as everything else. The spectators looked around in amusement. 

 

Time to begin. 

 

"Now, this is a strange arena indeed. Is that cotton candy I see?" Olivia asked. "Bubbles, balloons? It looks quite delicious indeed. This is certainly a mix up from our usual battles. How do our combatants think about this mixed up match? I'd certainly be miffed at being forced into a tutu. Though, that ice cream certainly looks delicious. What do you think about this strange battle, Micro?"

Olivia turned to the Epic, who looked as if he would burst at any moment. Olivia nodded, she was certainly the best commentator there was.

After all, she was the most powerful human in the city. 

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Substance woke up confused. Where was he? There was a thick layer of mist everywhere and he himself did not know wheter he was standing in a cloud, or a mist covered floor. He did know one thing.

He had a massive headache, and his sense of disorientation wasn't helping in any way. After some time, his memories came crawling back and that just gave him an even BIGGER headache. He needed to go someplace that didn't feel like his grave. He tried walking in a straight line but everywhere he went he saw the same thing. Mist.

"Sparks Isaac," he thought. " With your luck Moibus is a friend of SoulCaster's and she gave you your own personal home...for eternity."

"I have seen Moibus in action, Even exchanged some quick words with her, i admire her powers though, trapping someone in a pocket dimension until they go slowly insane would be very...entertaining." Oh no. Oh no no no no no.

Soulcaster was standing behind him, having apparently read his thoughts.

"Welcome to hell, i am the Devil." He said, and chuckled. Afterwards he snapped his fingers and all the mist turned into Sulphur and flames appeared everywhere, licking his feet.

"What do you want?" Substance asked, looking one of the most powerful epics in the eye. SoulCaster didn't show any sign of anger at him for doing that, he didn't show..well..anything, he had the cold eyes of a business man.

"I," the epic started. "Am here to make a deal," he said. "You see, i was told you caused a rather big disturbance yesterday in MY town." Substance gulped. "And did i tell you how much It angers me when people go into my town and ruin my show?"

He didn't need to. The fire in his eyes told everything that needed be told. "Now, i am capable of making you the most miserable person alive, literally, i could make Dreamdrifter put you in a very long dream. And i-" He said as the flames intensified and rose around him. "Rule dreams" he finished, as several pilars of fire rose into the air.

"What do you want of me SoulCaster?" Substance asked with as much courage as he could manage.

"How about...your signature?" He said and a piece of paper and a pen materialized around him.

Great, a contract, the guy WAS the Devil. "Just sign anywhere in It" Substance hesitated.

Did he really have a choice? If he was correct, then this would give SoulCaster power over him in the arena, or maybe that and something else entirely...

He tried to read what the paper said, but the first part was written in Korean, the next in German and the last in Spanish. Great. Business men trickery. In the other hand, this WAS the only way to escape...

He signed the contract, and after doing so, he felt like a part of him was missing. Weird.

"You know..." The business man started. "Normally i just ask for people's permision by verbal means, but in YOUR case, i had certain other...um...conditions in mind."

Substance inmediatly regreted having signed that.

"Don't cross me little epic, for i now have your soul" SoulCaster said, and then vanished.

Oh sparks...that guy now literally owned him, if he did anything to set him off again...

Substance sighed. What a fine mess he had Gotten himself in this time.

Edited by Random_illuminati
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(Collab post by Voidus and Winter, Commentary by Winter)

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Savannah blinked through his confusion, an array of bright colors assaulted his eyes, pink and purple hues of an eye-wateringly bright shade appeared everywhere. The assault on his eyes was so much that it took him a moment to notice the cold feeling in one hand.

Ice cream? They expect me to fight with ice cream?

Dropping the cone in disgust, obviously another taunt from Soulcaster as punishment for the scene in the bar, Savannah shifted his body. Dropping to all fours as his limbs changed, fur sprouting from skin, claws from his nails. he let out a screech towards his opponent, and only then did he notice his final humiliation. It seemed that even as a cheetah he would be forced to fight in a bright purple tutu.

 

“And Savannah over there. Looks like he’s afraid of a little icecream cone, so he sheds his skin to fight in a tutu covered leopard. It’s staying on too, no escape from the tutu attack for this leopard.” Olivia prattled on, ignoring the fact it was a cheetah. “Warmup over there, looking a tad bit annoyed, though he’s still holding the ice cream. Looks delicious too. Mmm. This is a definite innovation on the arena battles, is this going to revolutionize the fighting? I hope so!”  

 

Humilliation only compounded further as a female voice surrounded the stadium, commenting on the humiliation of both contestants.

Savannah let loose a low growl, tempted to try to find the commentator and see how they liked being forced into a tutu.

No, no harming the Commentators, if this is what he does for waking him up I don’t want to know what happens if I do anything to interrupt his precious arena battles.

Levelling his gaze back at his opponent, Savannah sized him up. He knew they both had some form of enhanced speed though he didn’t know what his opponents other abilities were, hopefully the same was true of his opponent.

In a moments lull in the commentary Savannah bounded out of his starting position, clawed feet finding surprisingly good purchase on the ground considering its composition. He circled around the edge, trying to flank his opponent as he watched the ice cream melt around Warmups feet. Preparing to leap straight for his opponents throat and end his humiliation Savannahs jaws closed only around empty air as Warmup leaped a good dozen feet into the air, landing on Savannahs back before jumping again, the force of Warmups jump nearly breaking Savannahs spine before sending him sprawling into the cotton candy floor. Thankfully it provided some measurement of cushioning, preventing the worst of the injury.

Seems like this arena has some tactical benefits as well as just being completely ridiculous.

 

“Ooh, and that leopard’s getting a little temperamental.” Olivia smiled, though she was nervous. Hope he knows that he’s not allowed to hurt me. “Warmup’s melting his ice cream and it’s dribbling all over his shoes. Slippers, I might say. Adorable. Now Sav's going on offense. Taking full advantage of the softness of this arena, now it's time to cuddle. Didn't think about those long, um, calves of Warmup, did ya?"

 

 

Doing his best to block out the laughter of the crowd, Savannah picked himself up, moving at a slow trot around the arena. It seemed that his opponent had fully enhanced leg strength not just speed. Not much of a distinction but enough to make a difference in this fight. Given that there was almost no water in the area other than the people anyway it didn’t seem like Savannah would get much use out of his secondary unless this fight dragged on. Still it never hurt to try, maybe a little drymouth would prevent Warmup from being able to dodge quite so quickly.

Feeling the moisture in the air begin to flow towards him, Savannah realized something else. Cotton candy it seemed did not seem to respond well to being drenched with water. The pink fluff beneath his feet had begun to turn into a sticky mess as the he let the water drip around it.

Savannah smiled. Or at least, the cheetah equivalent.

Pulling as much water from the air as he could, Savannah drenched the arena floor, causing the cotton candy to melt slightly, sticking to his opponent’s feet.

 

Taking advantage of the distraction he took another leap at warmup, this time landing just in front of him instead of going straight for the neck he managed to catch the Epic in mid jump, teeth tearing through the thin layer of skin protecting his ankle.

Savannah tasted blood.

 

"Sav's getting wet. And that cotton candy's soaked. Shame. I wanted to eat that. Wow, Warmup's stuck. Jump, Wormup, jump!" Olivia paused for effect. "Now, jumping in the air too slow. The leopard's grabbed your ankles." Micro had decided to let her commentate this one by herself, because he wasn't jumping in. Soulcaster might give him a hard time about that. "Ouch, that would hurt. Good thing he's sparking, eh?"

 

A moments victory was all that Savannah was allowed, a second after his teeth bit through the skin a warmth suffused his mouth. Too warm for mere blood to explain.

A second later he released Warmups ankle with a howl, burns scarring his mouth.

As he dropped to the ground, shape shifting back to his human form in reaction to the pain he felt hands gripping his throat. Hands that began to burn.

 

“Well, that looks like it hurt. Now the table’s turned on the leopard, Warmup the Human Sparkler seems to have taken the victory as his, marching over towards the leopard, who is now in human form yet again. Make up your mind, leopard. Does that hurt? Are you on fire? Do you want some water, kitty cat? Or perhaps some milk?”  

 

Savannah tried to ignore both irritants, the scolding hot hands slowly choking the life from him and the commentary, destroying his reputation as a predator.

Wait. Milk?

 

Looking down, Savannah spotted the puddle of melted icecream that Warmup had created in the first moments of the fight. Somehow the Epic had nearly defeated Savannah while barely moving from his starting position.

Grabbing a handful of the warm sludgey mixture of cotton candy and melted icecream, Savannah threw it behind him, getting a gloop of the mess onto Warmups face, causing the Epic to release him in surprise.

“Well, now it looks like the kitty cat’s getting ready for a food fight. What’s next for Warmup? A warmed up cone?”

 

Grabbing the confused Epics mouth, Savannah pulled all the water he could into his hand, effectively drowning Warmup.

What now? Warm it up and it’ll just become steam.

Burning hands struggled to remove Savannahs, but he gritted his teeth, pulling some of the water into his arms to cool them down. The strange mix of cool water and burning heat from Warmups touch was distracting, but all he needed to do was hold on. Just hold on.

The grasping became weaker, arms flailing about as Warmup steadily lost consciousness. The arms finally fell limp completely, the gurgling from Warmups mouth slowed, then finally stopped. Savannah held on for another count of five before finally removing his hands accompanied by a short burst of steam.

The crowd seemed to still be expecting something. Savannah took his cheetah form once more, limbs tired, skin burned, mouth horribly scarred, Savannah let out a wild roar for the crowd, biting deeply into warmups neck to finish the job. Blood flowed from the wound, its warmth providing a pleasant comparison to the former burning that had filled his mouth the last time he’d bitten into the heat Epic. Tearing out a large chunk of flesh, Savannah threw it into the crowd to applause, a few spectators trying to catch the bloody piece of sinew.

Savannah grinned, the feral expression still strange to see on his feline form. But he’d enjoyed his first experience in the arena, even with all the absurdities and humiliations. Then he looked down and noticed that though blood spattered, he was still wearing that sparking tutu. Well maybe next time his victory would be somewhat more dignified, but for now, a win was a win.

 

“Now, the sparkler’s a little frustrated. He’s falling unconscious. Now, completely to the ground. What happened? Apparently the cat’s happy about this. Still, a somewhat disappointing ending. Good enough. Good enough. The crowd’s still silent and now… now… the cat’s a leopard again. Finishing the job with a tough bite, now that’s impressive. Throwing it and it has been caught!” Olivia nodded in acknowledgement to the spectator, though he probably didn’t realize it would vanish.

“Congratulations to Savannah on a victory. Everyone, applaud the kitty cat!” The crowd roared in applause. Olivia nodded and stood up. “Next time, see Supermaximus versus Substance! I’ve been Olivia Cipher and this is Micro. Come back next time to see what happens in Salem!” The cheers grew louder and people rose to their feets.

Edited by Voidus
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Lady Deathskull watched in thinly veiled excitement as the cheetah-formed Epic ripped out the throat of the other Epic and tossed it into the crowd. "What a show!" She whispered to herself, as she sat in the stands. It was enough to wipe away her annoyance at being awoken so early by some trumped-up Houdini wannabe. Soulcaster was punishing her? The insolence! "No matter," she thought to herself, "soon I shall have my own fight, right after this Supermax and Subway guy, or whatever their names were."

 

She hoped this... hollow fellow she was up against would be a challenge.

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"Excuse me, mistress." Lady Deathskull heard a timid voice to her left, and she could only assume that it was addressing her. Turning, Deathskull saw a young man, still a teenager, bowing to her. "Soulcaster would like you to know that you and Hollowman will be the next combatants. There has been a problem with Substance's opponent. You have ten minutes to prepare yourself before we are transported to the next arena."

Deathskull grinned widely, and waved the servant away with a thanks. A mere ten minutes! This was so exciting! It had been too long since she had had a good fight, a thrilling contest! Bullying humans had its place, but nothing could compete with the supernatural battle of superhumans.

Her ten minutes passed, and everything faded. It was time.

.................................................

Lady Deathskull opened her eyes.

She was in the middle of a ruined city. Piles of rubble and debris littered the streets, and the buildings, some appearing quite historic, were in severe disrepair. Some of the damage looked like it was caused by years of neglect, but scorch marks, scattered craters and a car on top of a roof indicated that Epics had been here. Vegetation had begun to regrow as well, taking back the city for nature. In some places, vines grew up walls, grass grew feet high, and bushes covered the side walks. Deathskull didn't recognise the city, but it was probably an American one anyway.

She looked around for her opponent. Where was he? And where was the crowd? Surely the crowd was supposed to be watching?

Unbeknownst to Deathskull, the crowd was indeed watching. Invisible, intangible, completely undetectable in stands on the edges of the simulated dream-arena.

Lady Deathskull dismissed thoughts of the crowd, focusing on her opponent. She rose into the air, slowly levitating, her cape flapping in the wind. Rising above the buildings, she scanned the terrain with her eyes, leering skull-helmet moving with her. She wondered aloud to herself, "Where on earth could he-"

Suddenly a blast of yellow-white energy from somewhere below flashed in her peripheral, burning the air as it missed her by mere inches. Gasping in shock, she pivoted and rotated herself to see where it came from. But she couldn't see anyone. "How fast is this cretin?" She hissed, hovering away in a slow zig-zag position, watching for another blast. She did not have to wait long, with a flash of movement to her right. She turned just in time to see a tall, thin, black-clad man throw a blast of energy at her. She grinned and raised her hand, and her gauntlet morphed into a shield. The energy blast hit the shield, leaving a melted hole in the centre. Without thinking, she instinctively reformed the metal into a gauntlet and brought it back to her hand.

"AAAAGH!" Deathskull screamed as the super-hot metal burned her hand, and she threw it away as fast as she could. She heard laughter below, and she turned blazing eyes to the ground. "You DARE laugh at ME! Time to crush you, little bug!" Swooping down, Deathskull picked up a wrecked car from nearby and willed it closer to her, suspended in mid-air. But Hollowman was nowhere to be found.

"Where ARE you?" She hissed, eyes darting around, vision restricted by her helmet.

"Right.... behind you!" Deathskull heard a mocking voice from behind her, and she spun, flinging the car towards the sound. She completed her turn in time to see the car knocked out of the way by a blast of energy. There Hollowman stood- short, curly brown hair, a sharp, angular face and the eyes of an Epic. Arrogant and cruel. With a smirk, he disappeared.

Deathskull roared in anger, and flung the car at the place where he had been standing, sending it through a broken store window. "He is either a teleporter, or can turn invisible...". Suddenly another energy blast came for her from the side, Hollowman visible for a second before he vanished once more. Blocking the attack with some nearby debris, Deathskull wrenched a street lamp out of the ground and swung it like a baseball bat towards the place she had last seen the Epic.

Apparently her attack was ineffective, because seconds later Hollowman appeared again, throwing another energy blast at her. This one she barely caught with more debris. She swung the street lamp too slow once more, raking across the side of a building and apparently missing the Epic. Silence fell. Deathskull froze, trying to hear a sound, any sound, that would indicate where he was. "Surely even if he is invisible, he will make noise when he moves?" But she heard nothing. "Maybe he-"

Hollowman appeared right in front of her, and she started in shock as he threw a blast of pure power into her chest at point blank range. Her chest plate melted, turning into a running pile of slag that burned into her flesh. She screamed, her screams echoing in her helmet. The agony was unlike anything she had ever encountered. Hollowman smirked and chuckled. "Not so tough now, are you, miss skull-face? How about you kneel, and acknowledge your defeat?" In too much pain to even think, she could hardly manipulate her suit into responding if she had wanted to. Hollowman's expression became vicious, and he snarled, "KNEEL!" When she did nothing, he threw blasts of energy at her legs, and the suit collapsed, taking her with it.

Hollowman chuckled, and raised a hand above her face. "Time to end this little contest, my dear. I had fun though, especially the part where-"

The Epic never finished that sentence, as a street light whipped around and smashed him into a building. Bending every ounce of will she had, Deathskull threw several nearby cars at the place where he should have landed, unable to see where they went but hearing the mighty crash. Her will was spent, and the pain overwhelmed her as she fell into unconsciousness

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