[ARCHIVE] The Way of Moderation
Posted Oct 4, '09 at 12:34am
Where the Wild Things Hide
"Well, I'll be darned", mused Strop. "Between us both, we've only got four balls left."
Before the joke sunk in, Strop just had to twist the knife: "Well, at least two, far as I know."
"Thanks." Was all Cen could manage, still being out of breath from running a lap around town in his personal best time since Strop had started dragging him out of bed at the crack of every dawn.
"No, seriously though, we gotta get some more. Do you know what that means?"
Cen groaned, but feigned ignorance, in the hope that Strop's ditziness would win over and he would forget: "No."
Alas, to no avail: "It means we have to get more balls from the Wilderness! Now, the Ball Revamped collective is in an old sector of Armor Games, in the Puzzle and Skill region, so you better be ready for a real trek!"
Did Cenere have a choice in the matter? Could that last question be anything other than rhetorical?
Night fell and the air mercifully cooled in the darkness. A light breeze blew through the barren branches of the wasteland of the Wilderness, an eerie orchestra of flutey pipings accompanying the endless treading of shoes on hard dirt.
Cenere was sorely tempted to tug on Strop's sleeve and whine, "Are we there yet?" repeatedly. They had somehow managed to get lost in the Sport section because Strop had somehow managed to get distracted by the sounds of the Crunchball arena, which resulted in his being roped into a game...
The upshot of this was that while Cen donned a reaper's costume and snuck off to kill cute fuzzy creatures of matching colours, Strop had managed not only to emerge wearing the ridiculous Crunchball League uniform, but came back with not the light bouncy Revamped balls, but the heavy steel Crunchballs. Cen was already uneasy about the destructive power of flying balls but this was another matter altogether- outside the futuristic reinforced walls of the Crunchball 3000 arena, the largely anachronistic mortar and wood architecture of Armor City could hardly withstand such an assault.
Strop scratched his head again, looking as clueless as ever. "We're lost, aren't we," Cen groaned.
"Er, no... we'll just have to, uh... see, there's this shack, and..."
Yes, they were lost.
After his escaping of the twisted monochrome realm, Frank had set off to one of the many random spots he deemed suitable as hunting grounds. What he hunted was whatever he crossed, whether it be a rare cake-addicted rabbit, or one of the many small blue elephants that roamed the forest. As he stalked through the foliage, Frank heard what sounded suspiciously like an anthro horse piloting a bi wing. He turned around and confirmed his suspicions. It was Strop, laughing maniacally. In a bi plane. One that looked a lot like the Red Baron's.
Frank walked up to the attendant's desk, paying no heed to those who were already in the waiting line.
Five hours later, Frank woke up behind the Tavern, his jacket missing.
Crunchballs littered the landscape, as did pieces of crunchball uniform, bits of prop plane and a reaper's scythe. Way over to the east, the dawn sun peeked over the horizon.
Cenere looked Strop tiredly- he had had quite enough of running for one day. And one night. In fact, bed would have been lovely. But Strop seemed to run on the energy of pure lulz, for he showed no signs of stopping. "What next?"
Just then, a glimmer of luck shone upon Cenere, for Strop's stomach grumbled. Strop blinked, then looked down. "I'm out of carrots."
But Cenere was too jaded to be anything other than cautious: "What does that mean?"
Strop stared at Cenere, "It means we go back to the castle! I have a stash." Then Strop mumbled, "But I don't feel like legging it all the way there...I mean we're in the middle of the wilderness and..." Strop poked his fingers together, "I don't even know where we are."
Cenere fought the urge to facepalm, before realising that there was no need for that, so he facepalmed anyway. "Great... so what are you going to do about it? One of your magic ninja poofs?"
Strop blinked again, then perked up, "That's precisely what I'm going to do! However did you know?"
Cenere was about to comment, but held his tongue and changed tack: "But I can't poof..."
There was no time to think about it, for Strop had already smacked his palms together. "It's no problem, just do what I do!" And with that, he poofed into a cloud of dissapating black smoke.
"Oh, why me..."
The dawn glimmered over the horizon, the fiery hues reflecting off the water. A few ominous bubbles burst at the surface. Just then, a red round head surfaced. Or rather, a penguin head wearing a large red crash helmet.
"Jackpot!" Flipper cried, swallowing yet another fish. It didn't matter so much that the fish was a bit smelly or old or rather... already dead, because there were tons of them!
A pair of beady eyes was watching him from the murky depths. Those eyes belonged to a certain keeper of the moat, but on this occasion, he was a fish. And that penguin was eating fish.
Nobody heard Ubertuna flap, screaming, into the distance and out of sight.
"I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord
Snelly was spinning around singing the O so familliar song by phil collins. It was a beautifull day, or as beautiful as a day you can have right next to the smelliest and nastiest moat the world may have ever known.
Flipper had made a make shift drum set out of diffrent size fish, and each made diffrent pitches. So before he enjoyed them he decided it only proper to play along with one of snelly's better singings. He had caught so many fish i nthe moat, he really didn't need these ones. Under the layers of dead fish were tons of fish, and a very large few, which he never did catch.
There the two were, right next to the moat, Snelly for once in her life was htting notes, and skipper was actually full.
'BOOM, HEADSHOT!" strop had just pelted a ball straight into Flippers head, causing him to backflip into the moat.
"Flipper who liked the water found it much safer to swim around there then to come up and risk another hit. He found the ball nearby in the water and sat on top of it, and of cousre falling off and ending up swimming.
'Strop, you could have warned the little penguin first......' Cen who was holding the tattered ball sack over his shoulder, was rather tired, and not in the best of moods.
Snelly however noticed the ball flying past. *mic noise* 'This is flight eleventy twelve we are taking enemy fire, will be engaging enemy.' Snelly dogged the next few balls strop chucked towards her and manged to catch one, she dropped into a dive bomb and came straight towards strop, who simple side stepped, leaving Cen directly in the line of fire, and was then smacked in the face with the "Atom bomb" from snelly.
'Why is it always me?' Asked cen to no one inperticular and not bothering to stand up.
Strop wipped a ball up at snelly, and smacked her in the left wing.
'MADAY MADAY!!!! ADANDON MISSION! WERE GOING DOWN!'
Snelly spiraled down to the ground and fell into the moat, a few feet from Flipper.
'O hi flipper, funny thing, were getting attacked by Japanes!!'
With that flipper took his skate board and pulled him self out of the moat. He kicked off, and started turning around strop. He picked up a ball, and tasted it, not the best tasteing thing, expecially when you consider it came from a sack on cens back. He threw the ball away in disgust and it landed square on cen's stomach.
'I give up!' Cen cried, slowly crawling away to curl into a ball.
Strop in turn wipped a ball at flipper, who pulled off a 180 over it scooped up another ball, jumped off the board, and landed on his belly. he did a front flip, and shot the ball at strop. Strop who was more ammused by the impressive agility of a fat penguin was hit square i nthe jaw.
'ouch! well, thats a game then!' Good job you to! ...cenere? Can you collect the balls?'
cen crawlded out from under a bush and looked at all the balls floating on the murky water of the moat. His nose wrinkled in disgust.
'Very nice fish drums you got there flipper, tah twas impressive!' Strop said patting the little penguin on his head.
'thanks' was all skipper said and jumped back in the moat, were he should not have been, but strop thought better of jumping into the water."Ceeeennnn?"
Cenere, meanwhile, was struggling into a wetsuit, trying not to puke at the thought of the task ahead, relieving himself by thinking of all the things he would love to do to Strop in his sleep. (See picture)
snelly paid no attention to it, and started singing "we are the champions" By queen.
Posted Oct 4, '09 at 12:34am
Strop flopped in the middle of his room, in the abandoned clocktower of Armor castle and took a moment to stretch. It was a strange place to call home but having furnished it himself, it wasn't too much of a stretch anymore. He was about to start rummaging for his carrots when a rather annoyed Cenere appeared through the trapdoor. Even a ninja mask couldn't hide Strop's obvious surprise.
"Oh hi there, Cen, glad you could make it."
Cenere didn't speak, but sniffed. "Does something smell funny to you?"
Strop also sniffed, but almost didn't have to. There was definitely a distinct odour in the air. Not to mention that Strop's closet door was open (he always closed it), and so too was the door to-
Strop bolted into the ensuite latrine, which, in the style of medieval castles, consisted of a hole in the floor that emptied directly into whatever was below it. Which, in this case, was the Armor Moat. But one should not dwell on that fact... More importantly, somebody was squatting over Strop's latrine. A large brown furry somebody, who, on several occasions before, had broken into Strop's room, but this-
"KLAAUUUUUUSSSSSS!!!" Strop roared. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY TOILET."
As if to answer, Klaus the bear looked up at Strop and grinned, and dropped another load. Plop.
Strop, in a display rare to a ninja horse of his calmness, freaked out. "THIS TAKES THE CAKE! YOU'RE DESECRATING MY INNER SANCTUM!!!" Strop held up his hand and in it appeared his feared weapon of moderator bandom- Thor. Perhaps it had something to do with a phrase he was so fond of saying- that the key to a man's health were truly his bowels.
Just then, Cenere held up a hand. "Hang on a minute." His eyes wandered downwards, downwards further still until they were at Klaus' ankles. "Look."
Strop looked. There appeared to be a thin band of pink stretching between them. Then the penny dropped.
"KLAUUSSSSSSSSS ARE YOU WEARING MY PANTIES!?!?!?!?!?"
Shamelessly, Klaus flashed Strop a grin and snapped him two thumbs up. "A hundred percent cotton! Real nice."
Cenere looked slightly ill. Strop boggled, too furious to even be embarrassed about keeping panties. "NOOOOOOOOOOO THOSE ARE MY FAVOURITE. TAKE THEM OFF, YOU'LL STRETCH THEM!"
Still straddling the latrine, Klaus looked down, "Oh, I think it's a little too late for that."
It was right about this moment that Cenere knew that God truly had forsaken him, for in the little blessing, of not having to run, that had been bestowed upon him minutes earlier, he was now stuck in an impending brawl between a rabidly angry cross-dressing ninja horse with caffeine for blood, and an eight-foot tall bear wearing said ninja's favorite (now ruined) panties. Inside a crowded abandoned clock-tower three hundred feet high.
Things could only get worse from here.
Strop didn't even bother to wait for Cenere to pass him a ball. Instead, he snatched the whole bag from Cenere and pegged the lot at Klaus.
"OH SNAP" Klaus yelped and danced to the side as quick as his bulk and (Strop's cotten panties) would let him. The bag glanced off his shoulder, then split open along the seam Cenere had stitched the previous day. Several dozen Ball Revamped balls burst out, ricocheting between the walls, enveloping Cen, Klaus and Strop in a technicolour bubble pit. Klaus tried to waddle away, but being unable to even see his feet, he did not see them stepping onto a sea of balls, causing him to lose his footing.
Klaus flailed and fell back, legs kicking. Balls and residue fecal matter sprayed through the door of the latrine, along with Strop and Cenere. Klaus surfed the technicolour wave involuntarily, until he spilled in a heap at Strop's hooves. With the dawning sunlight spilling through the semi-circular window behind him, Klaus swore that from this angle, Strop looked like he was glowing. With incandescent rage. Furthermore, Strop was wielding something long, shiny and very sharp. That wasn't his banhammer, no. It was a katana.
"This isn't grounds for banning, Klaus." Strop said in a dangerously calm voice. "This is grounds for slicing off your balls." And with that, Strop raised his sword and with a shrill whinny, swung it downwards.
"YOW, THAT'S NOT MY BALLS!" Klaus did his trademark lightning sidestep, ordinarily used to cover up after he fell flat on his face, but in this case, it saved his balls. Or rather, his head, because the katana flashed through the space it had occupied a millisecond earlier and gouged a gully deep in the wooden floor. With a grunt, Strop jerked it out and swung the katana back, murderous intent in his eyes.
"On second thought, I really like my balls where they are, thanks," Klaus managed before scrambling up the bookshelf just in time to avoid Strop's second swing, this time aimed directly at his crown jewels. However, even fully laden, Klaus was at least half as heavy as the shelf again, so with a comical creak, it teetered back and fell with a resounding crash on top of Klaus, books, penicorn plush toy, horsey figures and all. The shelf broke, sending clouds of sawdust and wood splinters up that parted to reveal a cowering Cenere in the corner, muttering a very fast prayer.
"Third time's the charm," Strop cackled, kicking pieces of shelf off the dazed bear, before raising the hilt of the sword high, tip pointed downwards, and plunging the blade at Klaus' crotch.
Ridiculously enough, the blade snapped in half with a metallic ping. Strop's eyes bulged out. Klaus regained his senses, and grinned. "Can't be Klaus without balls of steel, amirite?"
Strop discarded the broken katana and lunged for Klaus, but he sidestepped again, reappearing on Strop's bed. "You are so dead," Strop gritted before bending down and hurling everything in his reach at Klaus. Stryer's Textbook of Biochemistry 5th Edition mercifully whisked past Klaus' ears but the Kandell & Schwartz Principles of Neural Science 4th Edition nailed Klaus on the nose. Klaus teetered backwards, his hindpaw catching on the windowsill, but he caught himself just in time to avoid a stack of giant ringbinder folders (one for each semester), full to the brim with notes. As Klaus weaved and ducked, other books, box sets of DVDs, folders, the horsey figures and even the penicorn plush toy shot out the window of the tower.
Klaus wiped his brow. With the exception of the neurology book, somehow he had managed to dodge most of the really heavy stuff, so naturally he was feeling a little pleased with himself. Just then, something sharp whizzed over his head, slicing off the tufts of his headfur. He yelped and rolled off the bed, smashing into the desk as his legs got tangled in his panties, but he kept on rolling anyway, a string of shuriken lodging into the wall just behind him. Then he lunged for the closet and slammed the door shut just as several darts and knives slammed into it.
Breathing heavily, Klaus couldn't help but sniff. "Are those fresh panti-" was as far as he got before the door was suddenly ripped off its hinges. Without even pausing to contemplate that his "non-regular" posters previously posted to the inside of the closet door were now being exposed to the world, Strop swung the door at Klaus. It shattered into splinters and sent Klaus through the side of the closet, where he bounced over several stray balls and caromed headfirst into the stone wall. While Klaus wasted valuable moments swatting at the birds tweeting around his head, Strop picked up his oriental weapons rack in its entirety, so that when Klaus finally faced him, he had him well and truly cornered.
"Dodge this", Strop said, before hurling the entire rack at Klaus. Ninjato, sai, Shaolin halberds and tasseled spears all simultaeneously launched from the rack as it flew towards Klaus, who did the only thing he could do: freeze.
All the weapons lodged into the wall around Klaus, tracing out a bear shape in the wall. The rack bounced off Klaus' ample abdomen and clattered to the floor.
"OH FFS HOW LUCKY CAN YOU GET!?" Strop yelled. Klaus extricated himself from the wall as fast as he could, but was hampered by the panties which were still around his legs. He looked around only to be smashed for a homerun by Strop's workdesk. This time, he saw stars as he collapsed onto a pile of fresh panties. He tried to get up, but the scent of the panties overwhelmed him, and he went limp.
Breathing heavily, Strop strode over to Klaus. Once again he held out his arm and Thor poofed into it. He raised it high.
"You'll thank me for this later," Strop said, as Thor began to glow with the charge of its banpower.
"Strop, no!" With an uncharacteristic burst of speed, Cenere shot from the corner towards Strop, but it was too late. Strop was already swinging downwards with all his might. Cenere collided with his shoulder, knocking him off course.
"Wha-" was the last thing anybody heard before the head of Thor plowed through the floor of the clock tower. The supporting struts that held the clocktower together splintered into smithereens, and the very stones of the tower shook and cracked with the shockwave, all the way through the three hundred feet of tower and into the base of Armor Castle. Horribly, inexorably, the tower fell apart, the rumbling building until it was deafening and the room itself split into several pieces.
"OH SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-" everybody collectively yelled as the clocktower, Strop's private room, disintegrated and plunged into Armor Castle, blowing through the ballroom, the kitchen, and finally the dungeons, destroying everything along its way. Then the walls of Armor Castle itself, the home of the creators of the land of Armor Games, caved inwards and fell with a final crunch.
A stony silence pervaded the ruins that was Armor Castle. Surely of all the architectural calamities ArmorGames could suffer, this was one of the worst. Now when the users of ArmorGames looked up, it seemed no longer would they envisage the silhouette of the castle hidden by fog, kept distant by the secret forest that surrounded it. Not even the developer's pavillion had escaped the destruction, for it lay completely flattened under a giant cornerstone.
Just then, a bandaged hand broke through the top of the giant rubble heap. Strop hauled himself out, dusting himself off before standing and looking all around. He slapped his forehead.
"Aw man, I knew it. I think I'll go tender my resignation now."
"Naw, surely it's not that bad?" The voice was muffled by several layers of brick, so Strop stooped down, digging through the wreck before hauling Cenere out. Cenere glanced around, before adjusting his glasses. "Actually, it really is that bad."
Strop sighed. "Seriously, how am I going to explain this to the administration?"
Cenere was about to remind Strop that he wasn't thinking about any of that when he was off wrecking just about every other venue in ArmorCity, but decided now was possibly not the best time to do so.
"Besides, why did you deflect my shot? Not that it matters..."
"Well, it's just that he didn't actually break any of the rules of the city, so banning him would have been inappropriate..."
Oblivious to everything, Klaus stretched as he climbed out of the hole Strop had dug. "Man, that was the most awesome dump ever."
A pair of hands wrapped themselves around his neck and lifted him up. Klaus gagged, then his eyes bulged as his neck started cracking from the pressure.
"This is your fault, you little s***," Strop snarled. "So here's how you make it up to us- you're going to rebuild ArmorCastle. In fact, you're going to fix everything that got wrecked in the course of this trial, starting with the Castle. And it had better be picture perfect, or I'm going to shove the head of Thor up your rear end so hard you're going to think you were reamed by a draught horse. Got that?"
At this point, Klaus was oxygen starved, so he was hardly equipped to consider the intricacies of Strop's very plausible threat, so he just squeaked "Yes."
Strop let Klaus go, and Klaus collapsed in a heap, gasping. With that, Strop suddenly looked a whole lot less angry. In fact, he just looked tired.
"Right, well, I think that's a wrap. Thanks for the help, Cen, you can take a break until the start of the next round."
Cen sighed with relief. It was still baking hot and the suit (and his body) had suffered far more abuse than he imagined possible in the space of a mere week. Now he could go home and soak his feet again, and maybe even study for his impending exams. Just...
"Strop, where are you going to sleep now?"
"Oh," Strop waved dismissively. "I'll figure something out." Cenere figured there was nothing more to be said, so he nodded a brief, "See you later," then walked across the drawbridge- the only surviving piece of ArmorCastle, and through the gates of the Armor Court of Great Justice, and out of sight.
Strop similarly began walking away aimlessly, but turned back to the recovering Klaus. "By the way, Klaus?"
"You better replace my panties too."
Cenere stared at his image in the mirror. This was one of the times he had simply zoned out, and thus had been standing like that for the past five minutes before actually blinking. At least it felt like five minutes. Or ten even. He gave the image a look before starting to investigate a few of the cuts and bruises on his right arm.
"It's open!" Zophia yelled at the door, while making her way out of bed. It was too warm to be outside, even for a half reptile, so she had made a nest in her bed, complete with juice and peaches and of course a drawing pad. She mumbled a bit over the disturbance until she saw exactly who had knocked on the door. "Cen? What are you doing here?" She tilter her head questioningly, actually finding it strange to see him at her door, instead of the other way around.
Strop strolled down the alleyways of the housing commission quarter, complete with dingy apartments and trash thrown out over the street. It may have offended his nose and been a suspicious area of high crime, but Strop was always confident in his ability, hence naturally nobody would bother him.
Except not this time. A shadow crossed his path from one side. Then the other. Then from behind, a massive darkness loomed, towering over him. While Strop pondered whether he could believe his eyes, something hard smacked into his face and bounced off.
Another one caromed off his face and bounced away with a "toc" noise. As it emerged from the shadow, Strop instantly recognised its technicolour quarters.
"Hey, why are you-"
That was as far as Strop got, for a veritable barrage of objects, revamped balls, crunchballs, dead fish ("fish!?" Strop thought), bits of furniture and mortar hit him from all sides. Strop tried to fight them off to get a view of his assailants but there was just too much, and he went down flailing. As he lay buried under several tons of rubble, he heard voices, and a familiar draconian chuckle punctuated by phlegmatic coughing, fade into the distance.
"Heh, you were right, that was pretty fun."
"That doesn't look good..."
Zophia smiled to herself, patting the puppy. Cen had been... quite easy, just a bit of head scritching and he had fallen asleep. He probably hadn't slept properly for days, but it was still quite a satisfactory achievements to her. Besides, it had given her the opportunity to actually bandage him up, instead of simply going along with his "It is all fine, it does not even hurt...". At least she did not have to look at them any more. Just too sad she hadn't got the chance to bandage more than his arms a legs. But then again, it hopefully was worst there.
"Darn it all... Bloody... Ind i... Hvorfor...." He mumbled to himself, fighting his way up they stairs. It had been an unusual long way home because the fact that he had slept or relaxed, even, had made most of his muscles stiff and given the bruises the time for them to become bigger. He was still dress in bandages, mainly because he had not cared to fight the band aid and duct tape Zophia had used (he wondered why she had used duct tape, but then again, it was Zophia). At least he could cover it up by wearing the jacket and pants of the suit. It was still filled with dust and probably needed to get cleaned, but it was better than having people to stare even more because he was looking like a butt...
Posted Oct 9, '09 at 10:44am
A day after the conclusion of Dodgeball
"Moe, fancy seeing you here!"
The brain in a jar perched precariously on a stone at the side of Armor Moat. "I would be inside except there's no inside. Anymore."
"Aha, yes, about that..." Strop scratched the back of his head and felt the sweat beading on his forehead despite the fact it wasn't a particularly warm morning. "It's all... under control."
Moe's voice didn't change a decibel in volume nor an iota in tone, though that was more to do with the fact he was using a Hawking voicebox than anything else. "And how is that?"
"I... well, I've made arrangements." Strop didn't dare mention the detail of the arrangements, because as far as he could remember, he essentially entrusted his future tenure at ArmorGames on the hands of the most notorious prankster in town.
"Well, I trust that the castle shall be restored in a timely fashion. Now how come you called me out in private? It had better not be to ask me to fix Armor Castle."
"Ah yes." Strop fiddled with his fingers. "It's not about Armor Castle, but rather, a smaller, more temporary structure..."
"What might that be?" It was like some kind of karmic justice, that Cenere spent his life wondering what horror Strop would unleash upon him, and now Strop was wondering whether Moe might suddenly decide to paralyse him with some crazy telepathic trick if he didn't like what he heard.
"Well, an obstacle course. Nothing too fancy. You know me, so something that I could do but the others..."
"Couldn't?" There was a long pause and a few bubbles formed and burst in the nutrient fluid of Moe's vat. "You know, I could do with a break from my thesis."
"Cenere, fancy seeing you here!"
Cenere facepalmed. "You called me out here."
"I know, but I expected you to sleep in until-"
"How can I sleep in when you're sleeping in my bed? And need I mention the bathroom incide-"
Strop held up his hands, "A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do, yeah? Let's just leave it at that!"
Cenere sighed. At least it was a cooler morning now that Summer was fading, and since he was off-duty he didn't have to wear that stuffy suit, and they were actually at a nice little cafe called Flippo's boulangerie, in the nice part of the shopping quarter, and Strop was shouting Cenere's meal. once. But still, it was a perk, even if it was only to get him to whine a little less. "So what are we here to discuss?"
"The next round, of course!" Strop produced a rolled up piece of paper and slapped it on the table.
"What is that?" Cenere rubbed his glasses.
"It's a schematic. Of an obstacle course. Which everybody's going to run. Moe's building it as we speak."
Cenere craned over, trying to make out Strop's doctor handwriting. "It's in the moat."
"Precisely! So if the victestants fall off... also it's supposed to give them a view of the castle from the outside but, well..."
Strop trailed off. "Cen, do you get the feeling somebody's watching you?"
"Okay! I AM gonna expose the truth this time!" said a man leaning over a desk, "The world shall know of the Homosexual Horse... STROP!" the mans eye's gleamed with happiness, "Ever since that day, that I saw you exit that poor man's house, I knew there was something different about you..." the man picked up a photograph of a horse ched for the door handle, and opened the door, he walked out of his house, and headed towards The Tavern. His favourite place to pick up gossip. He walked around, and around, and around, looking for something to help his article along, he continued to walk, until he came across the Ninja horse, talking to a man in a suit, they were really chummy, and looked to be best friends, but Gabriel didn't see it that way, he watched the two talk, and kept thinking he saw them rub each others arms, and make casual flirtatious movements, such as the man curling his hair, or the ninja groping the man's chest, Gabriel thought he was seeing definitive proof, and started writing it down. He continued to watch them with his eagle eye's, continuing to write down what he saw, finally, the Ninja looked around, and said "Um... Cenere... I think that creepy guy over there is watching us..." the other man looked behind strop, and said, "Hm... I think you are right... Oh well, doesn't matter, he's probably just another one of your fanboys." the ninja laughed and said, "I don't have that many..." the other man looked at Strop and sighed, "Doesn't matter, let's get going, we got more contestant's to go through." as those words left the mans mouth, Gabriel thought to himself, "Hm... Must be a contest on who get's to be the Ninja Horses lover... I better stalk~er follow and investigate."
Posted Oct 27, '09 at 9:33am
The scene is a darkened room, where the only thing visible are shadows, from a light cast by a solitary window. From the darkness somewhere around the head of the room, a fishman in a black cloak spoke.
"So is everybody present?"
"Knock it off," Nemo grunted. "If you want to be like Carlie you'll need to start with deodorant."
"How about you both knock it off," Devoidless rumbled, snuffing out the brotherly spat before it could start. "We're here to discuss our 'concerns'."
"Ah yes, our concerns," Ubertuna echoed, before he paused with a blank look. "What concerns are these?"
Nemo mashed his palm into his forehead. "You idiot, you're the one who keeps saying you are 'concerned' about the Way of Moderation."
"Or should we call it, 'Strop's powertrip'." Devoidless rejoined. "Have you seen the way he's been treating his... bellboy?"
"Oh yes," Ubertuna mused. "That is most concerning indeed."
Both Devoidless and Nemo turned to face Ubertuna expectedly. Ubertuna spluttered, lost for words. He turned to the easiest option:
"The answer is... is obvious! We need to obstruct Strop's attempts to enslave the whole of AG!"
"And how do you propose that? Strop's more powerful and persuasive than all of us."
"Not I-" Devoidless began before he doubled over, coughing wretchedly. The room filled with soot stirred up both from the Ancient's lungs and the dust in the room, much to Nemo's annoyance.
"Well, this morning, I was rudely awoken by intruders! When I surfaced-"
"Not another penguin, I hope?" Nemo smirked. Ubertuna, in the throes of dramatic storytelling, ignored him.
"When I surfaced, I saw Strop and Moe building a curious construct... over the moat!"
"And what was this construct?" Curiosity may have killed the cat but evidently not the wolf, the dragon nor the fish.
"Come see for yourself!" Ubertuna cried, before disappearing from the room, the only evidence of his presence a loud splash and fading paddling noises.
Caught up in the creative freedom from his thesis, Moe had outdone himself. Not only was the course worthy of a true ninja warrior, but with corkscrews, sheer towers, precipitous jumps and tight turns an octopus would have difficulty negotiating, Strop wasn't even sure he could complete the course.
"So how are the victestants supposed to appreciate the castle while doing this course again?" Cenere asked drily.
Strop scratched his head sheepishly. "I don't know. I didn't build the course."
"That's if the castle is even there..."
Strop peered across the moat. The sound of steady hammering on mortar was ever present, and through the fog, it seemed that the bricks were indeed piling up. As to whether it would ever come close to resembling the original Armor Castle remained to be seen, though.
"Well," Strop cracked his knuckles. "No time to sit and wonder, I'm going to try it out!"
And with that, he took off.
And blah blah...yeah, it's not finished. I'll finish it later.
Strop landed in front of Cenere, who had a bit of a sickly look about him.
"It works great, why don't you give it a shot Cen?"
Strop had that roguish grin on him that clearly announced his expectation to laugh. Cenere straightened his jacket.
"Let's see," he simply said.
Several seconds later:
Strop had to manually re-hinge his Tex Avery jaw before he could speak: "How did you do that!?"
"How do you say it," Cenere muttered, still dusting off his jacket. "I am ninja?"
From behind the bushes, three pairs of eyes bored holes into the ninja horse and suit.
"Can you believe it!? My home, turned into a plaything!?" Ubertuna thrashed and frothed at the mouth indignantly. "I have half a mind to throw dead fish at the candidates when the blasted day they will run that course comes!"
"Wait." Nemo held up a hand. "There's an idea for you. Let's take a walk and I'll explain on the way."
"But I don't like walking-"
"Shut up, 'tuna."
Posted Oct 27, '09 at 9:50am
One week later:
As I woke up this morning, I had slight deja vu. Well, I had it yesterday too. Everyday is the same, it seems. I started my morning listening to "Eye of the Tiger". It always gets my adrenaline pumping. As I threw on my clothes, I looked at myself in the mirror. Love handles, double chin, thunder thighs... I'm- I'm, BEAUTIFUL! I can totally tell why everyone's so jealous. As I walked out the door of my two room apartment, I grabbed my keys and my baguette. Time to start another day at the bakery.
I walked three blocks down to the bakery, as usual. I haven't got around to getting my Corvette out of the shop yet, so I normally walk. While I was walking I noticed everyone was smiling and pointing at me more than usual. "I must be extra sexy this morning", I thought to myself. When I got to the door of the bakery I realized that my fly was down. I quickly zipped it up. "People are so distracted by my beauty that they didn't even notice that my zipper was down", I mumbled to myself smiling.
As I walked in the door, I could already smell the sweet fragrance of French bread. I had kept up a pretty sturdy business at Flippo's Bakery, but things have started to slow down. I haven't had a customer in a week. Usually people are on their knees begging for my delicious bread. "What has happened to all my customers?!" Then I remembered. "It's that **** contest", I said with a vicious tone, "Everyone must be so interested in it that they don't have time for ole' Flippo anymore." I personally think that I would be the best choice for the job, but they said that I would do such a great job that I'd make all the other moderators look like pansies. I couldn't blame them. I would be pretty awesome at it. I guess they'll have to settle for one of the untrained, unexperienced and worst of all, non-French losers they call users. I don't know where this city's going anymore...
Strop strode onto the stage watching the last few contestants settled in their seats and went silent. The ninja pony took a moment to look out on them and conclude... That they still looked either boring or crazy. Many of them the latter. Then he began speaking.
Posted Oct 27, '09 at 9:56am
Round Four- Steeplechase
"Well, that's that." Strop dusted his hands, before drawing back his hoof in preparation to kick Cenere, only to be frozen by Cenere's baleful glare.
"What's going on now?"
"Dudeguy's getting lynched." Strop casually pointed to the mob advancing upon the hapless (yet somehow still culpable) Dudeguy, barrels of tar and feathers at the ready.
"Will he make the next round?"
"Sure, why not, but he won't have time to clean up before it starts, because we're going to the castle now!"
"But is it-"
"That's what I want to find out. I'll go ahead, you just... stay here and make sure things don't get too out of hand!"
Cenere folded his arms. "You know there's no way to cover up the inevitable in the time you're giving yourself, right?"
Strop glared at Cenere, then turned and dashed away.
"I don't believe it."
But seeing was believing. Before them stood the majestic Armor Castle, resplendent in all its glory, just as legend had it before its destruction and subsequent reconstruction at the paws of Klaus the bear.
"Well, how'd you like them apples!?" Klaus puffed, slinging a oversized mallet over his shoulder.
"Like I said, I don't believe it," Strop repeated. "How did you do it?"
Klaus rolled up the fur on his left arm. "See this scar?"
"That's real informative, Klaus."
"No, seriously! I got this scar while taking an oath with the Freemasons. Taught me everything about masonry they did!"
Strop shook his head, grinding his palm in his face. "Well, how about you show me around then."
Klaus did his best pedobear impression: "What, don't you love me?"
Strop punted Klaus in his ample rear end: "Stop being gay and do it already."
It truly wasn't a half-baked job. Klaus really had recreated Armor Castle, brick by brick, just the way it had been. Without all the castle feasts in between, as had been archived by KingRyan.
"Well, I'll be darned Klaus, you really did it." Strop said while trying to hide a sigh of relief.
"Am I awesome or what?"
Strop glanced around. Even the tower had been rebuilt, including the lack of stairs, and the clock tower itself had been restored along with its furnishings.
"It was hell but I dug all of it out of the rubble and restored it with these two paws."
And, as a finishing touch, sitting on the laundered bedsheets was a set of pink cotton panties.
"Well, that's touching Klaus. Thanks." Strop said, before adding: "No homo."
Klaus smacked his paws together. "Yeah, moderatorship here I come! So when's the next round?"
Strop cracked his joints ominously. "Ah yes, about that. See, I'm afraid there's a problem with that."
"What do you mean!? Are you being a dirty ninja again!?"
"Dirty? No. I'm just being pragmatic." Strop held up his arm, and Thor poofed into it. "Truth is, despite your excellent work, the results of your actions indicate you are a high risk to the tournament and the city. Therefore it is my duty to ensure the safety of the folk of Armor Games. See you next week."
Before Klaus could even gape in shock, Strop swung the banhammer with all his might. The head connected cleanly with Klaus' gut. He was catapulted out the window in an instant and flew higher and higher until he disappeared among the clouds.
"NO HOMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." Klaus screamed as he went, his voice fading and eventually lost to the winds.
Strop waved his arms and Thor disappeared, then he furtively glanced out the window. Cen had not arrived yet. Which means it was unlikely he saw what had just transpired.
Through the great iron gate at the back of the Armor Court of Great Justice the victestants filed, looking awestruck at the significance of their privilege. For until now only developers, admins and moderators could pass through these gates. However these warriors on the Way of Moderation who now tread the hallowed grounds of the embankment of the moat that surrounded Armor Castle were the cream of the cream, they had made it this far-
"Okay, now to be clear, Dodgeball was a warmup round." Strop clapped his hands together. Everybody turned towards him, a blank look on their faces.
What met them was a horrifying construct:
"Great," Kingryan muttered. "This is going to be bad for my back..."
"Before we begin, I've got a few announcements to make. You know, the ones I was going to make before we were interrupted."
Dudeguy coughed out a few feathers and shifted miserably. Everybody took a moment to s****** at him before Strop resumed.
"I have some results for you. Cenere?"
Cenere shuffled through his clipboard and produced some fancy looking certificates. Strop called out to the assembly, and the named people shuffled forward to receive their award with a bemused look on their faces.
"First in Best Dressed: Goumas
There was a pause, for Klaus was absent. "Oh, yeah, about that... Klaus is-"
Cenere nudged Strop, "Did you-"
"Not now Cen! Anyway-"
"Wrecking Ball: Manta
There was a smattering of applause as well as a good deal of giggling. Strop held up his hands and silence fell gradually. "I've also got some scores for you. In alphabetical order:"
With his nose buried in the notes, Strop read:
Everybody looked at each other, confused. What could these scores mean?
Strop looked up again. "These are your idiot scores."*
Before anybody could react, he kept talking:
"So this round is the real deal. It's called steeplechase. Does everybody here know what a steeplechase is?"
From the general muttering all around, Strop had to conclude that most of them didn't, and even if they did, they were more interested in finding out what an idiot score was. He sighed and resumed. "Steeplechase is a footrace through an obstacle course. Most courses aren't as... strenuous as this..." He took a moment to glance at the bed of spikes before turning back with a glint in his eyes, "...but being a moderator involves, uh, being very agile?"
"The basic idea is this. Follow me. Try to keep up. Try not to die. Ready, set go!"
And with that, the ninja horse bounced away like a flash and disappeared into the wooden corkscrew. The victestants fell over themselves in a delayed reaction, trying to catch up, and soon pandemonium ruled over the course.
Back at the Steeplechase
"This is getting ridiculous!" panted the Bullman to nobody in particular.
Indeed, it was rather more than ridiculous by this stage. He had traversed the entire course, in its increasing stage of destruction, thrice already, and this was no mean feat for such a bull as himself. The faster competitors, especially those sneaky flying types, must have done at least twice as much. And yet there was no signal to stop, not even any indication of how long they would do this for.
"Agility schmagility," Pixel rejoined. "How about endurance!?"
In fact, by this time, the only people who hadn't gone around the course multiple times were Kingryan, who, between his advanced osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, was destined to fall into the moat, and Dudeguy, who managed to go around once without trouble but had somehow also managed to get stuck to the wall of the Armor Court of Great Justice. Strop, meanwhile, had other things on his hands.
"STOP IT DEVOIDLESS", the ninja horse yelled vainly at the rampaging dragon. Ninja he might be, but a horse was not much of a match for a forty foot tall dragon.
Devoidless had now successfully smashed several gaping holes in just about every structure so masterfully and sadistically crafted by Moe. Each pound of the fist, each splintering of the wood pierced Strop's heart. Cenere had taken one look at it and told Strop, correctly, that there really wasn't anything he could do. And went back to reading.
At least Strop could be thankful that none of the victestants had been taken out just yet. Though it was mystifying- if Devoidless was really that keen on destroying the course as he seemed to be, he could have just set the whole thing on fire... unless...
Right at that moment, Strop spotted Nemo:
Then the debris fell and smoke and dust, once again, enveloped the entire precinct.
Coughing, Strop flapped his arms, trying to dispel the haze. "Is everybody okay?"
A deadly silence ensued.
Posted Nov 28, '09 at 6:25am
It was one of the biggest hospital-budget-blowout debacles Strop had ever faced. True, part of it was due to the fact that there was no budget for Armor Hospital, and Armor Hospital was the only hospital in all of the land of ArmorGames, but still, between Nemo's act of terrorism and Nurse Strop's zeal in bandaging every cut and scrape the victestants suffered (thank god for the indemnity forms they all unwittingly signed at registration). Strop didn't even bother checking Cen for any evidence of injury before he broke out the plaster. But of course, part of Strop wasn't about to do that anyway, because it was funny to see whether Cenere could see through plaster. Which, obviously, he couldn't.
All the victestants stood in a scraggly line outside the Armor Hospital. The seasons were moving, the morning now becoming cool and slightly damp, and so everybody was restless, shifting this way and that and wondering what would happen next.
"Ahem," Strop coughed. Everybody turned to face him.
"We have now come to the conclusion of the Steeplechase." Strop fidgeted before continuing: "I do apologise for... the technical difficulties we had during the round."
There was a very uncomfortable silence, as the images of the victestants' collective damage burned into Strop's mind. Dudeguy managed to escape any damage thanks to his tar and feather armor, but getting it out of his hair resulted in irrepairable damage to his mohawk. Manta's wig was also history. Frank also managed to escape serious injury, with the exception of his eyebrows, which had been singed to a crisp. Many others, however, had been gashed, smashed, bruised and battered or otherwise burnt in the conflagration. And everybody else... was missing. Presumably quit, of course.
"Well, then, I think what would be best is if we had a few days to rest, then-"
That was as far as Strop got before he realised that nobody was paying any attention to him. They all had their eyes fixated on some point behind Strop. Strop blinked, then he turned.
When the smoke cleared...
"Oh god." Strop was the first to speak. "His idiot score must have gone through the roof."
Klaus swung around to face Strop. "Really Strop? Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?"
Everybody blinked. "Huh?"
Strop folded his arms, clearly unimpressed. "Klaus, is that even tobacco in that pipe?"
He was met with a long deep, guttural laugh which then stopped suddenly. "I don't know."
Well, this was a problem. Or maybe it wasn't. Strop was actually faced with a moment of indecision. Should he try to include Klaus in the debriefing despite the fact Klaus appeared under the influence? Klaus would surely disrupt proceedings. Or should he just ignore Klaus and plow on? Klaus would surely disrupt proceedings. He couldn't simply do what he did last time and king-hit Klaus back into the stratosphere either, as there were far too many witnesses. But they were standing right outside Armor Hospital, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch for him to fill out an Involuntary Treatment Order form courtesy of the Mental Health Act, and have Klaus admitted to the psychiatric ward (which, in reality, was a fortified broom cupboard. Lack-of-budgeting issues).
But while he was considering it, the decision slipped out of his hands.
"NOW IS MY CHANCE!" another manic voice boomed. Everybody whipped around, just in time to see a giant banana leap into their midst. "I SHALL BE KING!"
"Really now, what next?" Strop started, but a brown flash blew him over.
"OM NOM NOM, I HAVE THE MUNCHIES," Klaus yelled, and ate Bananaking in one ridiculously giant gulp.
There was a moment of shocked silence (just another of many that shocking morning), and then nobody could really remember what happened next. Perhaps it was the clattering of the former Bananaking's crown on the ground that galvanised everybody into action. Perhaps Klaus had his sights set on the victestants. Whatever it was, every victestant started yelling and running around, and Klaus started picking up random people and throwing them around. Or maybe it was every victestant trying to jump on Klaus to contain him. Strop didn't really know either. But he did know something else.
Klaus had fallen asleep.
"TAKE HIM DOWN!" Everybody who hadn't been genuinely incapacitated by the melee leapt atop Klaus and, in the blink of an eye, he had been hog-tied Japanese-bondage style.
"That was easy," said The Bullman.
"Where'd we get the rope from?" Goumas asked. Naturally, nobody knew.
"How come your banhammer didn't work?" Gametesta shot at Strop.
"Quiet, you!" Strop bent over and picked up Klaus' pipe, turning it over. Then he stuffed it into his ninja-suit.
"Alright guys, I guess you get to see what happens when we need to ban somebody! To the dungeon!"
And off the crowd went, with the exception of one person. Who couldn't move, because they were in a completely unnecessary body-cast.
"This sucks," moaned Strop.
"I noe rite," echoed Zophia.
"All I did was eat a banana," pouted Klaus. "And I don't even like bananas."
"Well, that banana happened to be a registered user of ArmorGames," Strop pointed out. "I may not be your adopted grandfather, but boy do I know how Garp felt now."
"IT'S NOT TOO LATE," yelled Klaus. "QUICK, CUT ME FREE AND NOBODY WILL BE ANY THE WISER."
"Except me :3", Zophia interjected. "And the thousand other people in the Atrium who came specifically to watch your demise."
"Sorry, Klaus, no can do. You know how it is." Strop was firm.
"Just do it already! Before Carlie-"
Right at that moment:
"Your majesty!" Instinctively, Strop bowed.
"Oh, get up," Carlie waved him down while shaking her gauntlets off. "Let's not stand on ceremony, it's Klaus, of all people!" To preempt Klaus' pouting at her, Carlie added, "Not that we don't love you, Klaus, but a permaban is a permaban."
Then she swept to the front of the platform. Immediately, a thousand heads turned towards her. Carlie summoned her biggest administrator voice.
"As you know," Carlie boomed, "We're here to permanently ban the user known as Klaushouse, due to the nature and publicity of his crimes as a citizen of ArmorGames."
Carlie then turned to Klaus. "Klaus, do you have any last words?"
"Yeah." Klaus flashed his best grin and glowered at the users far below. "I'll be back."
There was silence. Carlie raised her bansceptre high, and the clouds rumbled, drawing darkness and volume.
"OH COME ON GUYS!" Klaus screamed. "DON'T YOU GET IT YOU JERKS!? NOW MY LAST WORDS ARE GONNA BE SOMETHING LIKE PUMPERNICKEL-"
Then there was silence, and at that moment, the users all learnt that when lightning struck the city of Armorgames, another user had departed the land forever.
The next day...
Finally, it was done. The users that had to be banned were banned. The task of cleaning up the moat had been delegated to the appropriate persons. All the unnecessary plaster and bandages had been removed. And Bananaking's kingdom had been informed of his passing, but none of them cared.
Strop cracked his knuckles ominously, as he stood before the assembled victestants in the cool Autumn morning, in the middle of the District Courts. Only a dozen remained from the hundreds that had signed up previously. Some of the departures had been stranger than others, but those were stories he would surely reflect upon when he had time. That was to say, not now.
"Thank you for making it out here. As you know, the past few days have been rather tumultuous."
Strop paused to wipe a imaginary (?) tear from his eye. "I shall now announce the results from the previous round. Cen?"
Cenere silently brought his clipboard to bear, and shuffled through the pages. Strop took the moment to reflect upon the deeds still left. Namely the matters of finding that terrible triad of delinquents, Nemo, 'voidy and 'tuna. Oh, and somehow figuring out how to cover for a sudden gap in the staff.
"By the way," Carlie had told him immediately after Klaus' exile, "I'll be going on a trip for a little while. And by a little while I mean a few weeks."
"What!?" Strop started. "Whatever for?"
"Secret business!" Carlie wore an unusual grin on her face. "So see you later- byeeee!"
And with that she poofed in a cloud of purple smoke, leaving Strop and Zophia to clear up the charred remains of the scaffolding.
"Ahem." Strop blinked, to see Cenere waving the notes in his face.
"Oh, yes, thank you."
Somebody tapped Strop on the shoulder.
Posted Nov 28, '09 at 6:27am
"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!?"
Strop (or, as she should be called now, Strip) stormed into Zophia's room, and, upon spotting Zophia, marched over to her and promptly hauled her up by her harlequin lapels.
"Arw? :3" was Zophia's only response.
"YOU CAN'T JUST GO AROUND TURNING EVERYBODY FEMALE BECAUSE YOU THINK THE D*** TO CHICK RATIO IS TOO HIGH!?" Strip was clearly hormonal, or perhaps was used to talking in ALL-CAPS thanks to prolonged exposure to Klaus. "Not that I mind, of course," she added as an after-thought, "As long as this is only a temporary, reversible state."
"Huh?" Zophia stared at Strip blankly, more preoccupied with Strip's new... endowments than anything else. Strip glared at Zophia meaningfully.
"Tell me you know how to reverse it. After all, you did think of that before you made the bomb, right?"
"Uh, let me see."
One of the first things Strip noticed about her change was that apart from the ninja-suit and several of the... articles Strop liked to keep in his closet, her wardrobe was completely different. Particularly the t-shirts.
I'd just like to take this moment to comment on how much I love Cen's sketches
Somewhere in Newgrounds
"Hurry up will you?" Strip called over her shoulder.
Cen didn't reply. All his efforts were focused on somehow not dropping the hundred-or-so bags and boxes he was carrying, each one of them filled with a new kind of trash accessory. Actually, come to think of it, judging by the plethora of neon signs blaring questionable things, Cen really did have to wonder what kind of things were in said boxes, but he was so bored stiff that he couldn't even rouse his curiosity to ask.
"Oh, look!" Cen deliberately turned the other way at Strip's excited squeal. Surely it was another window-front full of inappropriate themed wares or something shiny. Then a black furry hand forcibly grabbed his jaw and wrenched it the other way.
"It's a forum!" Sure enough, people of various ilk had congregated in a giant square, except it was vast. Several times vaster than the humble atrium of AG. And several times more chaotic, too. Between the cheap one-liners, penis jokes and 4-chan memes it was fairly impossible to make head or tail of when one garbled line of chatspeak ended and another started.
"Wait, where are you going?" Cen started, as Strip plunged towards the center of the square without hesitation. "I thought you didn't like the NG forums."
"I'm not Strop, now," Strip shot back with a grin. "I'm a girl on teh internetz." And with a bounce and a swish of her tail, she jiggled through the crowd. Cen facepalmed. That grin surely spelt trouble.
Sure enough, not two seconds later, there was a collective gasp as a voice yelled out, "Jacob is soooo hotter than Edward!"
"Real vampires sparkle!" Strip yelled in a ****y way, while the group of people around her were almost tripping over each other to punch her hard in the face, while yelling that Twilight were for noobs and gays. Cen simply observed the crazy unfold itself in the busy shopping mall in NG. He wondered for a moment if he should try and help Strip out of the mess she were clearly jumping deeper and deeper into, but concluded that he did not really care to help her out of her own problems. She should be aware of it herself, and yet she was whinnying up about the wonderes of sparkly vampires and how Bella was how every girl should be and do. A few people had already lit up molotov ****tails and everything else that was able to burn, but they were held back by a rare few people with a little sense left.
"Flaming is for *********s." Strip grinned.
And the people with sense left was suddently gone and chaos broke out. Flammable items were thrown everywhere, not one getting near Strip who laughed at the, to her, hilarious scene.
"STOP!" A police officer stared at the mess where every user had frozen up in whatever position they had been in before he had yelled. Cen nodded approvingly of the respect people had for mods here, before he realized it wasn't respect as much as the giant group og police officers standing a few meters behind the other, ready with clubs and water cannons. Strip... Strip saw nothing and continued her wild trolling with mentions of "their momma" and narutards.
The officer cleared his throat, poking her on the shoulder. Strip turned around, looking curiously at the officer, seemingly without realizing what he was doing there, much less why he looked rather pissed or why he was in the middle of arresting her.
"What are you doing, can't you see I am kinda in the middle of something here?"
"You are arrested for trolling and creating chaos." He simply remarked, leading her towards the exit.
Cenere did take a moment to think of what else he could do that day before following the complaining Strip and rather annoyed officer. A weird beeping noise seemed to follow them, when they stepped out of the store and moments later he was the buttom of a pile of police people yelling about shoplifting and resurrection of the mafia.
"And to the left." Cen turned to the other side, and the officer took another photo, before leading him back to the cell. Nice and easy. Strip on the other hand was quite the opposite.
"I think that's enough Missie." The female officer dragged Strip to the cell with annoyed mumbles while Strip continued her, uhm, posings.
The door clanged shut. Strip shook the bars and poked her nose between them as far as it would go. "You're just jealous!" she called to the departing officer, but (fortunately) got no reply.
Strip humphed, then turned around. Cen was staring fixedly forward with an even more disapproving look than usual on his face.
"What? Can't a body do a good trolling now and then?"
Cen ignored her and remained seated on the bench. Strip glanced to the corner of the cell and hopped onto the bunk.
"Suit yourself. Shotgun the bed!" Then she promptly turned over and settled in for the night.
Cen finally looked over at the bed. There was only one, and it was being occupied by a certain mischievous filly. As if to unconsciously taunt him, Strip's tail twitched and her bum wiggled. Cen's own posterior was already getting numb from the hard metal bars of the bench.
It was going to be a long night.
Several days later, because Cenere refused to talk to Strip for a good while after that...
"Thanks," Strip said as she took the towel and started wiping herself off, oblivious to Cen's nose.
"Mmpf bhhh nnnht?" Cen attempted, before removing the bloody handkerchief: "Aren't you going to look for a cure?"
Strip shrugged, liberally flapping the straps of her tank-top. "No. There's no point. Have you heard what happened to some of the victestants? Something about a herbalist... and extra body parts..."
Cen decided it was better not to ask, so he redirected his line of enquiry, along with his line of sight. "But when do you expect to return to normal? Don't you have moderation duties?"
"Of course I do." Strip raised her arms, tying her still dripping mane into braids. "But if Zophia doesn't know how to reverse her own work, then we'll have to wait until Carlie returns. Administrators wouldn't have a problem fixing this."
"But... nobody knows when Carlie will return!"
"We can assume that she will, at least." Strip disappeared into an adjacent room, re-emerging some moments later in her ninja suit, wrapping her bandages on. "And besides, I'm kinda getting used to being ninja filly. I might be slower and weaker but there are... advantages."
Cen frowned, but didn't have time to reply (just as well), for there was a vibrating noise. Strip dug around in her ninja suit, and took out the modphone.
"Can I help you? Oh, hi Moe, what's up? Oh, woah, calm down... no, stop. Crying doesn't translate well over your voice-box. If it's that bad, I'll get right on it."
She slipped the phone back into her suit (wherever did it go!?), and clapped her hands. "See, and now for a demonstration!" She raised her hands and the familiar Thor (now much larger compared to its wielder) poofed into it. Then Strip dropped it with a startled squeak, and it crashed to the floor, splintering the wooden slats.
"Oops, a bit slippery," Strip muttered, before bending over (her back turned to Cen, who was now desperately fishing around for an unsoiled hanky), grasping the handle and lifting.
She couldn't lift the banhammer.
"So..." Cen said.
Strip panted, before straightening, fire in her eyes. "We need to find a cure. Right now."
"ALL VICTESTANTS TO THE ARMUSEMENT PARK!" A shrill whinny echoed through the streets of Armor City. Except about a million times louder than an actual horse.
Strip marched up and down the laneways, soopahdoopahawesometasticmegamegafone in hand. Cen had wisely elected to wear the earmuffs he was accustomed to wearing when he went to bed at night for this occasion. In fact, since it was just after noon on a crisp Autumn morning, he didn't even have to take them off. Yay. It was just too bad he couldn't continue wearing his sleeping eyepatch, to prevent him from having to endure Strip's questionable dress-sense (that miniskirt barely covered her posterior!) He wasn't that ninja.
"AND BRING ALL YOUR STUFF WITH YOU!" Strip yelled, before muttering. "Stupid accounts technicality. Just because I'm not Strop of the XY persuasion, I can't wield Thor? This is sexual discrimination!" and storming down another alley and repeating the message.
"Yes, ma'am." Cen replied, not really able to hear the words that came out of his mouth. For one who spent much of his time avoiding people, he demonstrated great insight into the way of the fairer sex in this manner. For example, he was also not going to ask what Strip exactly had in mind, and he was also not going to ask how long Strip envisaged the process of marching down every public alleyway in AG yelling down the 'fone. Surely her voice couldn't last as long as her shopping trip did.
He needn't have waited long, though. Since the 'fone was capable of shattering every window in Armor City from any given point within it, suffice to say it didn't take many calls. By the time Strip and Cen arrived at the Armusement Park, everybody else was already there.
And with them, transported on the backs of a veritable army of underpaid foreign labourers, were several warehouses worth of glitzy trash. Mostly Gail's. Strip's 100 boxes of custom horse shoes (one for every occasion) were a mere trifle in comparison. In fact, put all together, it very much looked like the biggest Guy Fawkes tribute ever in the history of the internet.
"ALRIGHT," Strip blared through the 'fone. "WE'RE HERE TO RID OURSELVES THIS WRETCHED CONDITION."
The victestants looked among themselves. Wretched condition? Perhaps they may have thought so at the start, but most of them, it seemed, had become quite accustomed to it. Others had taken certain attributes too far and were suffering the burden of reality (and gravity) as a result.
"SO WHO AMONG US," Strip continued, "KNOWS OF THE CURE?"
The victestants were, by this point, expressing their collective ambivalence. Most of them had come to accept their condition, and were in the mindset of "when/if a cure comes..." Mantina (or Womanta, as some called her) initially had complained about getting the whole package along with the mammaries, but since a certain herbalist had managed to "enhance" them further, her original objections were lost. Frances was in love with her Harley (and who could blame her, it was, like, gorgeous). Lia was now the better half of everything Gnollish, Hyena-folk being as they are. The Cowwoman was not present, presumably still searching for (or bemourning) her nosering. And Queen Rianna (or was that Regina) had quite forgotten she used to be a he.
At that moment, there was a rustling and a rather large, grubby man emerged from the bushes. Or maybe he was the bush. It was hard to tell.
"If I might offer," he began. "There is a potion of which properties-"
"SILENCE!" Strip bellowed down the 'fone, bowling the hapless HecticHermit over. "I KNOW OF YOUR SHENANIGANS! I HAD TO REMOVE A LIMB FROM HER HIGHNESS' PATELLA THANKS TO YOU. AND DO YOU THINK THESE-" at this point Strip grabbed her fairly ample breasts through her shirt- "AREN'T BIG ENOUGH!?"
"No, no," stuttered the hermit. "I think they're quite big enough-"
"THEN WHY DID YOU ENLARGE THE BREASTS OF MY VICTESTANTS!? IT'S MEDICALLY IRRESPONSIBLE!"
The poor hermit was being backed from one corner to another. "Why, ma'am, if you wish I could also give you-"
"THAT'S NOT THE POINT, WOOD-FOR-BRAINS! AFTER ONE UNINTENTIONAL AUGMENTATION YOU'D THINK YOU'D TRY ANOTHER METHOD!"
What? The Hermit, unaware of Gametestro's independent efforts, began protesting his innocence: "But it did only happen once!" But he was ignored by Strip, who was already railing on: "Who among us would like to rid themselves of impending bankruptcy? Who among us would like to be able to carry something other than their boobs? Who here wants to be able to go around without being degraded, (OOC: Yeah, look at me go!) objectified, leered at, propositioned, without having to think in mood-swings, have your insides get torn up every month, receive lower pay for the same work, have to fight for basic maternity-leave rights, be subjected to systematic and cultural torture in the third world, be denied the right to vote and register as a citizen, or even denied existence on the internet!?"
Well that was certainly compelling. Before long, the dozen-or-so victestants were clamoring in agreement, as were the several hundred other people who had nothing to do with the tournament but simply happened to be in the park at the same time, and the several thousand immigrant labourers who had no idea what was being said but knew it sounded exciting.
"You agree? I tell you what we should do!" Strip reached up, hand in a fist. "WE SHOULD BECOME MEN!"*
There was a roar of approval, or really not a roar, because all the voices were coming from the women.
"So!" Strip flicked her tail triumphantly. "Who knows of a cure?"
There was the sound of crickets.
"Then I declare this!" Strip spread her arms wide. "Whoever finds the cure to our female condition first... shall be instantly made A MODERATOR OF ARMORGAMES!"
Cenere, in his capacity as the rational one, boggled and ripped off his earmuffs. "Are you mad?" he cried out, but to no avail. The crowd of thousands had stood for a single moment, before pandemonium broke loose. Everybody started running in every direction. Most headed for the tavern, to, strangely, tell everybody else. Several fights broke out for no reason at all.
Strip, meanwhile, thumbed the button on the 'fone again. "And now, shall I deal the mortal blow to our symbol of feminine slavery! DEVOIDLESS, STUFF NEEDS BURNINATING. NOW!"
Above the chaos, a shadow appeared. Then great gusts blew across the the park, flattening the grass and scattering the people. Then beside the giant pile of trash, the great bearded dragon, Devoidless the Ancient, landed.
"You know how I feel about the tournament," he grated. "But how can I refuse the delicately-worded request of a lady?"
With that, he sucked in a huge breath, coughing once or twice, before blasting the tower of trash with the molten breath revered among dragons.
In an instant, the pile was ablaze, smoke billowing towards the heavens. The crackling was deafening, but what was truly unbearable was the heat that burst forth. While the flaming tower of trash itself may have been comparable to Strop's clocktower, the heat itself engulfed the park, shrivelling and singeing the grass until it too caught fire, and soon it was clear that the whole of Armor City was, once again, in grave danger at the hands of a certain irresponsible ninja filly. And a pyromaniac dragon.
"Great!" Cen shouted futilely, "Now what!" Self-preservation kicked in, and he started running from the blaze. Strip stood a moment longer, before she realised the embers were catching in her tail, and with a startled squeal, she also legged it. There was screaming as the flames grew stronger still, consuming the trees and bushes and the rows of topiary ever-so-lovingly planted once-upon-a-time by the moderator crew at the dawn of the Great Reshuffle** They raced towards the borders of the park, bearing down upon the Tavern itself. All seemed lost, when-
"Stand back!" In marched the mysterious caped figure, hood concealing its head until it reached up with a webby hand and cast it back to reveal a stubbly fish face. "I, Ubertuna, Tunamancer Extraordinaire, will save the day!" He turned to the fire and pointed a knobbly grey finger at it. "Your time has come, fire!" He called at the top of his voice, which was to say, nobody heard him say anything- "For my type is water! Eat my water pistol technique!"
With that he leaned toward the conflagration, pursed his lips, and spat out a thin stream of water.
"Fine then!" Ubertuna cried, recoiling as the flames licked his cape. "Try this! Technique splash!" And he proceeded to flail around on the ground directly in front of the fire.
"Alas, foiled by the utter lack of water!" Ubertuna cried again. "But this time, I know I have you licked!" He procured a wand from the depths of his robes, and waved it around wildly. "SPECIAL TECHNIQUE BUBBLE!"
A giant stream of bubbles blew out, whirling wildly upwards into the stratosphere high above. The oily films reflected the dazzling lights, until, strangely, the bubbles themselves caught fire.
"I forgot," Ubertuna mused to himself as certain doom closed in on him. "All that does is double the power of soap. And I never managed to solve my shark problem!"***
As Ubertuna threw up his arms in defeat, there was a massive whoosh and a cool breeze blew in, blowing the fire away. "You idiot, 'tuna," somebody grunted from below. Ubertuna whirled around, tripping on his robes and coming face to face with a drawf.
"Dank? How did you do that?"
"Shut up," Dank grunted. "Dwarves aren't supposed to use magic, but it looks like somebody has to do something right around here."
With that, he whirled his great hammer around, and slammed it into the ground. Then with a growling voice that pierced the heavens, he incanted: "By my namesake, I order water to contain this demonic flame!"
At the same time, he drew figures with his fingers more rapidly than the eye could see, and from the very tips of his fingers flowed glowing text. Then he yelled "EXECUTE SCRIPT!" and ducked for cover.
Out of nowhere, a wall of water descended upon them, picking both Dank and Ubertuna and hurling them away from the fire. The magical body of water then rose up, clashing against the flames. A great sizzling arose, and the flames and smoke were enveloped in massive, neverending clouds of steam that joined the clouds in the skies.
Ubertuna brushed himself off, shaking the excess water from his robes and his cape. "Not bad, Dank," he grated, "that was precisely what I was going to do next. Dank?"
But the reclusive dwarf had already vanished.
"Wow, will you look at that," Strip said, looking up at the heavens, seemingly forgetting the fact that she was the one who had caused all this.
"Yeah," Devoidless said from up above, before rising to his feet. "And I better get going. Before, well, you know." With that, he flapped his wings mightily and took off, his spiked tail coiling behind him as his black bulk faded into the distance. Strip looked up again, noticing that the formerly white fluffy clouds were now forming into a rising dark mass directly above the massive bonfire, spreading out to occupy the whole sky. Between the magical water and the magic of thermal convection currents on this magnitude (after all, the bonfire probably took up nearly half of the Armusement Park which in itself took up quite a lot of the Armor City acreage), it was only a matter of-
Suddenly there was a great thunderclap and the floodgates of heavens opened up. Everybody looked up to see the deluge of rain falling from the sky as one, and then it was upon them, cool, fresh, and extremely wet. In an instant the great fire was extinguished, leaving only a giant pile of ashes. Everybody stood transfixed at the sudden change, ignoring the fact their clothes were soaked through. Gutters overflowed, rivulets pouring down the rooftops and the cobblestones of the streets. And the noise, the noise! Before it was the oppressive crackling of fire, but now it was the endless, rhythmic patter of raindrops that dominated the land.
And thus the legend of how the seasons changed in the Land of Armorgames was born.
Posted Feb 25, '10 at 5:00am
"Well, whaddya know," Strop said, before blinking and realising that the i had changed for an o. "Whaddya know!" he repeated, the fact slowly sinking in that he had turned back into the ninja horse.
"Yeah, whaddya know," Cen said, his umbrella (always be prepared) unfurled. Strop looked at him, but he had his back studiously turned. That was when the final fact sunk in for Strop.
But it was too late to do anything about that. In the distance, Strop could see thousands of people flooding back into the Armusement Park from every direction, each one of the clamoring that they were the one to find the cure to being female.
* I acknowledge that this is actually a tongue-in-cheek jibe at certain aspects of the feminist movement, embittered hydra that it has become today.
** Armusement park did not exist until the Great Reshuffle of July 2008, when the Forum Games were created. I'll have you know that this was barely a week after I became a mod, and one of my first tasks was to help sift through the several hundred pages of the other Games and Tavern section to establish what forum games really were.
*** Whereas Mister Frog had a problem with weasels, Ubertuna has a problem with sharks.
Posted Feb 25, '10 at 5:02am
Singin' In the Rain
The following section was written by Cenere. Records of events may diverge slightly depending on source.
Strop sighed and rolled over, staring out the window with a distant gaze. Something was troubling him, and while he was quite tired, he was unable to fall asleep. Was it leaving Cen like that? Nah, it probably was nothing important anyway, he was capable of sounding so uptight that people got scared out of doing that kind of things, and Strop had been busy. There was so much to arrange with the trials now they were nearing their end. Observing the people left and make sure they didn't run for it, figure out to keep the secret of the next trial without it being obvious. It should be a surprise to them after all, so no one could meet up prepared. There was no trying if they were prepared. Then they would just be showing off, he thought to himself, nodding his head slightly.
It was a cloudy and slightly windy day. Autumn was here now, and the leaves were falling from the trees on the sidewalks. Business hustled and bustled as usual through the streets, the sound bouncing off the walls, a lively energy filling the entire ArmorCity.
Through this Strop trotted, opting for once to actually commune with the community since he was not on some kind of mission. Nor was he particularly busy with the Way of Moderation tournament. Part of the reason was that he had given up on handling the logistics of the tournament- without his bellboy Cenere to pick up the paperwork, the bureaucratic spanner had truly fallen into the works and the gears of progress had ground to a halt.
"Where would he have gone anyway?" Strop mumbled to himself, as was his habit. "Not in his room, not in the library... he really wouldn't have cut and run just 'coz I didn't pay him?" That surely wouldn't have been the case. After all, students were exploitable resources, willing to work for cheap, even for free as long as you promised to pay them and maybe give them a little something to put on their resumee*. Strop knew. He was that student too.
But this meandering aside didn't at all solve his question. And then there were the various developments surely lurking in the background that Strop cared not to think about, but suspected would intrude upon his consideration at any given moment.
Right at that moment, somebody called out: "Mister moderator?"
Strop's ears pricked. The voice was lilting, female. And pleading. He looked around, but his eyesight being far inferior to his hearing, he didn't see anything.
"Over here, mister moderator!"
Finally localising the sound through all the noise, Strop turned and saw a delicate hand beckoning from behind the corner of an alleyway.
"Can I help you?"
"Please, mister moderator, all my clothes got wet in the rains, and when I hung them out to dry, somebody stole them! I have no armorpoints and I have nothing to wear! Won't you help me?"
Internally, Strop pondered. A damsel in distress! A damsel he couldn't see standing in a quiet alleyway, with a spurious tale of woe! Nothing suspicious about this one!
"Fear not, this ninja horse lives for great justice!" And with that, Strop strode into the alleyway. One second later:
"Hey, that looks like clothes you're wearing. Wait, what's with the syringe? Why does that say KETAMINE? Ow!"
A moment later, there was a thud, and Strop finally stopped talking.
*This spelling is incorrect. But the AG board doesn't support the character I need.
Groggily, the ninja horse opened his eyes. He blinked a few times, before trying to figure out which parts of him he could and couldn't feel. Eventually, he was able to wiggle his fingers, but they were somehow held in place behind him. The only part of him he couldn't feel was his butt, but that was probably because it was numb from being squashed against the bottom of a hard chair while his legs were tied down...
Strop's eyes flew open. Not that there was much point- it was dark and musty. Almost too dark for him to make out that he was in a small room and that he was tied to a chair. A rather sturdy chair, which, in his still-partially-anaesthetised state, he had no hope of breaking out of.
Just then, the door opened and the room was flooded with light. Squinting, Strop peered as a figure strode in and stood squarely opposite Strop. As his vision cleared, Strop saw a familiar wolf-skin clad figure staring down at him. Except this figure seemed to have a waist. And hips. And boobs. And surprisingly sensuous lips which were currently pursed sternly.
"I must be seeing things," Strop thought aloud. "Wait, that can't be right: I'm a horse. Or am I?"*
"Will you shut it, you dumb-***?" the figure snapped at him.
The penny dropped. "Wow, I'm really not seeing things! Nemo!?"
"That's Nill to you now," Nill corrected him, unimpressed.
Strop started whinney-laughing: "Hahahaha, I get it, nobody and nothing, that's an awesome name!"
Nill said nothing. Strop eventually calmed down: "Wait... so how come you're a woman-" Then another penny dropped (Strop was going to become a rich horse at this rate): "WHERE WERE YOU LAST WEEK!?"
"Nevermind that!" Nill barked. "Just tell me how you got your manhood back!"
Strop switched into storytelling mode. "You totally had to be there. There was this bonfire and then there was lots of rain, and just about all the other mods were there, and... where were you?"
"In this room plotting to kidna- I mean shut up!" Nill gnashed her teeth. "You got me into this mess! I'm going to make you pay!"
"Oh yeah, I had that problem too." Strop recalled.
Nill threw aside her staff and screeched. "See! I've lost my moderator powers! And it's all your fault so you have to fix it now!"
Summoning his secret ninja powers, Strop sprang out of the chair as if he had never been tied down. "It is so not my fault! Zophia's the one who threw the F-bomb. Maybe you should go talk it through with her! Now if you will excuse me... this conference is over."
Nill stood bemused as Strop walked out the room. Or tried to. He huffed over to the door but it was locked. Then he turned sheepishly to Nill.
"The door's locked."**
* Ketamine is traditionally a horse anaesthetic. It is occasionally used as a human anaesthetic, too, except not often because it has dose-related effects. The most notorious of these is its hallucinogenic properties, which seems to only apply to humans (how one tells whether a horse is having hallucinations or not would be difficult, hence Strop's confusion).
** Props to anybody who gets the reference. Hint: China.
Here Comes A New Challenger!
Creek. Crunch. Thud. Clatter clatter.
The sounds repeated, and repeated again. Claws dug into dirt, tossed burnt garbage aside, moving piles and forming other piles elsewhere.
"This is getting nearly as old as I am," a crusty dragon grumbled. "Somebody as venerable as myself oughtn't be made to do such menial labour."
"You did set the whole park on fire, 'voidy," an equally diffident dwarf reminded him.
"Hey, if somebody needs holding responsible, it's that ninja filly, that she-devil. I am powerless at the command of they of the fairer sex!"
Dank kicked some exposed dirt aside with his boot, tossed a small seed inside, then pointed at it. Immediately a sapling sprung anew from the ground. "Well, Strip doesn't exist right now, so you get to pick up the rap."
"It's not fair," Devoidless muttered, sweeping aside another pile with his tail. "Everybody always blames the dragon. I mean sure I'm evil and everything but-"
"We've been through this already, now will you get back to work?" Dank planted another seed. "The sooner we get this done the sooner I can stop looking like a godd*** hippy."
"Yeah yeah," Devoidless turned back to the pile of rubbish then blew a liberal dose of fire on it, converting it into ash. Suddenly he stopped. Something was tugging at his heartstrings, literally wrenching his insides around. Then the pain started. Impossible! Dragons like him were impervious to pain, but this, this was a strange... yearning he couldn't explain.
"Oi, 'voidy, stop slacking off!"
"I'm not," 'voidy mumbled before he realised his voice was cracking, and a solitary tear rolled down his craggy cheek. Dank peered at him.
"...are you crying 'voidy?"
"No. Shaddup!" Voidy wiped it away and cleared his throat. "I've just got... got something in my eye, that's all." But the pangs didn't cease, in fact they were growing by the minute. "Excuse me."
Before Dank could react, Devoidless the Ancient had spread his great wings and taken off, body and tail coiling behind him as he flapped into the sky, shrinking until he disappeared over the mountaintops at the horizon.
Strop already knew it was useless calling out again. Once Cenere was gone, Cenere was gone where even Strop couldn't find him, and Strop could tell Cenere was gone since he hadn't already reluctantly appeared looking grumpy and polishing his glasses.
"Well darn, there's simply no more time to waste. The next round must be started and the victestants gathered!" With that, Strop marched to the window of Cen's apartment (the very same window he had entered through), and clambered out. But instead of descending six storeys to the ground, he climbed the final two to the roof. There, he fished around in his suit and produced a sinister looking package.
"Heh heh heh", Strop giggled horsily to himself, strapping the package to a cylinder which was in turn attached to an arrow. "If you can't find 'em, make 'em come to you." He notched the arrow and drew it back as far as it would go, so that the head was barely resting in the nook of the bow.
As the confetti spread out across the City of ArmorGames, Strop threw his arms wide and started laughing.
"To the Community Hall!" he called to nobody in particular, before leaping off the rooftop, cutting a swathe through the paper rain.
"Alright, let's get this show star- what the?"
Strop threw open the doors of the community hall, the remaining victestants close behind, only to freeze. It was a bizarre scene that greeted him.
Credit for the general scene as well as specific parts of these images must go to FireflyIV. Some parts are direct copy-paste, others are traces, others are derivative. All are used with permission.
"What? What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm just doing like you asked, guv," Firefly quipped before floating down to spray a few more tags on the wall.
"Didn't I say to- oh crap, I can't even remember what I said..." Strop facepalmed. "Doublebooking was supposed to cease when this hall was built!"
But here they were, everybody had, by some miracle, picked up on Strop's directive. This was an opportunity that could not be passed up, else Strop would have to somehow find the elusive Cen and have him track everybody else down and that would have been a pain in the... and there was a perfectly good mic and speakers and a turntable on the stage and...
"Alright then guys!" Strop clapped, and in a puff of smoke:
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