Friday, March 28, 2014

Episode 100: Welcome to Muspelheim

After the Battle of the Gates in Front of the Bifrost Bridge, Thor invited the members of DCM, Inc. back to Asgard for a fête. He led them down the great stone halls of Asgard, turning left at giant battle axes and right at suits of armor. The group was awed at the vast, ancient feel of the place, and were drinking it all in as they were led into a great feast hall adorned with giant helmed elk heads mounted on every wall.

"Have a seat, my friends," boomed Thor, as he gestured to the great table in the middle of the long room. "All the food and drink you could want is yours for the asking. There is wine, there is champagne, there is a great Ring of Shrimp. And here is my maple sriracha. I've brought three varieties, each more virulent than the last." The company beamed with wonder at these delights and more, and immediately tucked in and made merry.

As the revelers were getting comfortable, one of the elk heads suddenly spoke up with one of their typically bawdy drinking-hall jokes:
What did the the elephant say to the naked man?
"It's cute, but can you breathe through that thing?"

Polite laughter echoed through the hall. Pewter tankards were refilled. Thor turned to the group and said "We here in Asgard, as well as those in the world at large owe you a boon. For saving the world, I will give you a gift beyond measure: I will let you each ask me one question. And I, with all my powers, will attempt to answer it truthfully."

Kobayashi was called on first, and he blushed with the enormity of the task. "What has happened to Chastity?" Thor looked him in the eye, and was temporarily at a loss for words. The words "Chastity has not been seen here for a long, long time" before he heard the capital C in Kobayashi's voice, saw the rouge in his cheeks and realized he was talking about a girl. A specific girl. "Ah. Well," he looked within that spot a god has for this sort of thing. "You... you will be happy to know that not only is she gainfully employed," the Thunder God broke eye contact, a was looking a little uncomfortable. "but she is also rather well off. Doing quite well for herself, in fact." "Really?" beamed the young monk. "Where?" "Misty's." "Oh, I see," said the monk, looking a bit crestfallen.

At that moment, the elks chose to pipe in again with another one of their moldy jokes:
In a tiny village lived an old maid. In spite of her old age, she was still a virgin. She was very proud of it. She knew her last days were getting closer, so she told the local undertaker that she wanted the following inscription on her tombstone: "Born as a virgin, lived as a virgin, died as a virgin."

Not long after, the old maid died peacefully, and the undertaker told his men what the lady had said. The men went to carve it in, but as the lazy no-goods they were, they thought the inscription to be unnecessarily long. They simply wrote: "Returned unopened."

The guffaws were louder this time. The mead of Asgard was taking full effect. "Who exactly am I?" said the robust Gigamesh. He leaned forward over his mead, his jaw set with grim purpose. Thor grunted. "You are who you think you are - a demigod. A friend of Thor. One of the saviors of Asgard and-" There was a commotion as the door to the hall flew open and six and a half feet of leggy valkyrie strode purposefully in and towards Thor.

"Father! I just heard the news. What has happened to Heimda- Oh, I'm sorry," the redhead froze in her tracks. "I didn't know you were... entertaining." The party turned to behold Thor's daughter. When Gigamesh met her gaze, however, the valkyrie froze and locked eyes with him. She let a sliver of a smile break her countenance. There was most definitely a moment.

Thor admonished her for interrupting, and he turned on Gigamesh.  "And I see there is something about you I don't know. Something I do not like one bit." He rose to his full height, turned from his seat and stalked to the head of the table in a most dramatic fashion. "Thrud, go now. We will speak when I am done here." His daughter turned, obediently but dejectedly. She glanced furtively at Gigamesh. "Come see me." she mouthed.

"Now my friends," Thor said in what sounded a little too much like a hiss. "As I said, we are in your debt. But from what I know of you and your activities," he looked Xeno straight in the eye, "Your actions of late offend the Gods, whose job it is to protect the known universe from the likes of you. I should destroy you all right here an now. But that would be ungrateful. You deserve a chance to redeem yourselves. It will not be easy, and your success is by no means assured. But then again, you never have been afraid of incredibly long odds. Goodbye."

Before anyone could speak up or scream, the floor fell out of the feasting hall and everything went dark....
                                                    ....and down.

With a thud.

The group was in a dark space that smelled of dampness and dirt. A dim light revealed a tunnel, and what looked like an old prospector kneeling in the mud. He looked up from his task. "Hello folks. Welcome to Hel!" He returned to his work, scanning the tunnel floor for something - spotting it - and stooping low to pick up what looked like a glowing, pulsating rainbow marble.

The God Particle
"What's that?" asked Xeno, manically casting about for something to hold/bludgeon/hide behind.

"It's a Higgs Boson. What you might call a 'God Particle'. we dig around all the major abodes of deities, looking for bits they drop."

"What can you make out of them?" asked a curious Gigamesh.

"Just about anything at all," replied the old prospector.

And that's when the floor fell away again.

As the group continued their fall down the rabbit hole, temperatures increased. So did the smell of  ozone, brimstone and sweat. The blackness swirled in a nauseating fondue of dread. When everyone landed again, they were not all together...

Kobayashi landed in a cavern dotted with stalacs of both the tite and mite variety. There was also a snow leopard. The same snow leopard that had, some months ago, bitten off his finger. Kobayashi approached the cat with not a little malice and eventually grappled it to the ground. He managed to bear-hug the beast, and got it to regurgitate his finger. But rather than asking how a human finger went undigested in a cat's stomach for months, let alone how this specific cat got to the purgatory beneath Asgard, he simply tried to reattach the finger. It worked, only to immediately spawn a black infection that spread quickly up his arm and into his torso, causing him to drop dead.

Gigamesh and Xeno landed in a rough-hewn tunnel of dark basalt. The heat was stifling as the two followed sounds of industrial machinery down the vast, dark hallway. They passed a large door that had a smoked glass window, through which they could see, in an undetermined middle distance, a number of sparks or embers rising up, drifting up through thermal currents, up and into the darkness beyond the door. A little further on, they found what looked like a fire giant manning a large control console inside a large, oval-shaped room. The giant had smoked goggles, and was manipulating knobs and levers in front of a large set of smoked glass windows. The pair moved in and tried to skirmish with him, but the giant was swift and ferocious, falling upon Gigamesh and killing him swiftly with his warhammer. Xeno evaded the giant's initial attack and sidled in behind him to take a look at the control panel.

What he saw was a star. It seemed to be contained somehow in the blackness of the chamber beyond, but with nothing to compare it to, he could not tell the scale. A readout on the panel in front of him said "STAR NH201101". Another said "READY TO LAUNCH". Xeno saw the giant turn from the inert body of Gigamesh and turn to him, bloodied hammer in hand. Throwing a lot more to the wind than just caution, Xeno pulled a lever and hit a button, and as the fire giant cried "NOOOOOO!!!!!" and made to stop him, a rush of blue, crackling energy shot out from Xeno's hands and into the console. Warning klaxons sounded, and the readout flashed "WARNING: CHAOS OVERLOAD. RESEQUENCE FORMATION. CHAOS STAR ACTIVATED." A crack in the black appeared somewhere over the star, and as Xeno and the giant watched, the ground shook and the entire laboratory rumbled as a door of enormous proportions opened up and the star, now starting to swirl with an unpredictable array of different hues, rose slowly up and out of the containment room. The giant screamed "YOU FOOL! KNOW YOU NOT WHAT YOU'VE WROUGHT?" before bringing the hammer down on Xeno's head and everything went black.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Episode 99: Ragnarok

MechaLance had just attempted to purloin Lord Leikbul's giant warhammer when one of his compatriots drew the final card to his Bifrost Bridge hand. It was, oddly enough, the Ace of Hammers, the last card needed to complete 'Ragnarok' and open the mystical gate to Asgard. The giant threw his cards down on the table, stood up abruptly and bellowed "RAGNAROK!!!!" into the sky.

His two companions looked at the table and the cards. They too started to scream in unison: "RAGNAROK!!" Lord Leikbul, hearing the ruckus, released his grip on his hammer and dropped to the ground. The other three giants leaped off the bazaar's gaming car and drew their warhammers, and immediately set to beating the ground in unison with their chants.

*boom* *boom*
RAGNAROK! *boom* *boom* RAGNAROK! *boom* *boom* RAGNAROK! *boom* *boom*

Lord Leikbul, casting about for a warhammer that wasn't there, turned to the forest behind the the three ships and hollered "FLOEFI!" A large, blue, very familiar-looking dragon rose up and out of the woods 50 yards behind Xeno on the bridge of Agatha. As it beat its wings to gain altitude, Spencer took note, and performed a slow striptease, preparing himself to fire a crotchlaser if needed. Gigamesh, looking out over the forest, could see a faint rainbow wake forming behind the beast, spreading out behind it like a pair of unicorn wings.

Xoe and Takemiya, having just placed 10k on themselves to end the world, looked from the frost giants to the dragon to one another and had the same thought: to return to the Rutvegas gaming table and put 5K down on Hrung Leikbul, just in case.

Floefi rises into the night...
Xeno, seeing the dragon rise out of the woods very near to him, made a move to take the ships out of harm's way, only to notice a whorl of clouds forming and closing in on the area. Asking Agatha for guidance, he determines it too risky to take the ships into the coming storm, and instead opts to attack the dragon single-handedly by trying to fly into his heart.

But as he closes in, Xeno sees and feels a distortion, a ripple in the time-space continuum, and the dragon warps and waves right in front of his eyes. On the ground, the others can see the bluish silhouette ripple, waver, then wink out of sight.

The dragon gets closer. The rippling gets bigger. And then, with an awful tearing, ripping and rending sound, the sky opens up and swallows everyone whole.

The floor drops out of your mind and you fall down the elevator shaft of consciousness
and land in the bowling alley of the id.

Kobayashi was the first to notice something different. Pain. Pain like he hadn't felt in a while. The pain was coming from his right buttock. His decidedly corporeal buttock. He was sitting on a rock, somewhere on a flat, rocky plain. Here, he saw Takemiya, there, Xoe. Gigamesh. Spencer. Everyone but Xeno, it would appear. It was night. And over yonder, about 100 yards away, there it was...

Not quite as expected...

At this end, a gate. Looming large, made of wrought iron...

And storming towards it, from the gloom off to the left, were the four frost giants. They were making their way purposefully towards the bridge. Lord Leikbul was reaching into a pouch at his waist and spreading what appeared to be bony peas behind him. As they walked, the peas hit the ground, sprouted, and grew into an army of frost giants.

Shown smaller than actual size.
Takemiya headed to the gate. Fleet of foot, he arrived well ahead of the frost giants and made a grisly discovery. He found another giant lying on the ground. His throat had been cut, and black blood spilled out on the sand in front of the gate. He clutched a large horn (made of horn) in his cold, dead hand. Takemiya quickly pried it loose and made away with it, back to the rest of the group.

Xoe, on an unceasing quest for strange and bizarre magical items, tried to circle around behind the giants in order to procure a few specimens for herself. But a strange glittering light from behind her caused her to pause for what turned out to be a crucial moment. For behind her, Gigamesh was aiming a handheld lighting device up under Spencer's robes. The scintillating light raced through Spencer's skeleton and was focused into a deadly beam of energy, emanating from his pelvis. The beam caught the frost giants unaware, and cut them all down from behind. Xoe hops up, and immediately heads for the giants. She procures Leikbul's bag.

It's actually good for him...
Gigamesh turned off the beam. Spencer was no longer in his robes. Instead, he was wearing black pants, and a black t-shirt for the band "Götterdämmerung". He was smoking a cigarette, French inhaling so the smoke trailed from his mouth into his crystalline nosehole and out the sides of his skull.

Suddenly, a large figure appeared on the bridge. He appeared to be carrying a small child. As the large, muscular man drew nearer, it could be seen that it was Xeno in his arms. The man put Xeno down gently just inside the wrought iron gate. Xeno stretched, looked around sleepily and exchanged words with the man. As the others watched in wonder, they could see the exchange get heated. In an instant, the man threw Xeno though the gate and out onto the plain. Xeno's crumpled body lay still for a few moments, twitched, then slowly picked itself up and dusted itself off.

Seeing Xeno rise up from the ground, the man immediately went to the gates and tore them open. He was stopped in his tracks by the body of the dead giant at his feet. Takemiya clutched his newly-acquired horn nervously as the man seemed to be looking about the corpse for something, turning him over as if he was searching for an object that he knew was in the giant's possession. the man finally looked up and noticed the group of onlookers and immediately stormed forth to confront them.

Xeno made an attempt to distract the man's charge by hurling pebbles and trying to fong, but he only succeeded in becoming a victim of his wrath as he turned and bore down on him instead. Takemiya, seeing what could yet again be the end of Xeno's life, tried to distract the giant by blowing his stolen horn. But alas, he had neither the skill nor the giant mouth to coax a note from the magical instrument.

"WHAT, BY ALL THE GODS IN ASGARD, IS YOUR NAME, PUNY MORTAL???" the big man bellowed, spittle and bile foaming down on Xeno in intermittent gobs. Xeno, caught up in a genuine wave of mortal panic cowered, trembled, and knees knocking, could only squeak "Pamela?"

The big man threw his head back and roared laughter. He stooped down and put a beefy arm around Xeno's shoulders. "I LIKE THIS GUY! PAMELA INDEED! HAHA!" The mood was lifted and the others joined the two new friends. Takemiya guiltily handed over the horn to the man who introduced himself as the god of thunder, Thor.

Thor looked over the pile of frost giant halves as well as the puddles of liquefying proto-giants and clucked his godly tongue. "Wow. We are indebted to you indeed. Who knows how this plot would have played out. You just may have spared us the end of known reality."

Thor turned to Xoe and winked. Xoe had many thoughts. Very few of them were nice ones.