Author’s Note: This was written live on stream, with the tone being determined by the numbers under minesweeper tiles. The audience could bid tokens earned in stream to reveal random tiles. A mine hit results in the death of all characters, unless they are temporarily saved by a lump sum of tokens. If characters make it to the end of the stream, they survive to be seen another day. Join us at twitch.tv/blainearcade if you wish to participate.
1-peace 2-alert 3-escalation 4-action 5-tragedy 6-world-changing
The pips have rolled again. The conveying Minefield connects the Trap to a new world. Three enter, seeing only a shredded sky in the distance: Kal.if the A.I. that might be interesting, Brydget the clueless kleptomaniac, and Growly the asocial and possibly antisocial opossum.
The residents of the newest world to connect to the Trap were overjoyed by the slam of the Minefield’s edge into their reality. Long had they searched for a way to rid themselves of those who didn’t like the cruelty in their world. Killing them would just prove their point, so they had to be removed.
The latest to get chased out was an odd trio, but they didn’t have time for introductions. Some of the angriest edges of the mob broke off and spilled into the Minefield, so incensed that they ended up trapping themselves on its ever-moving grass and under its goldenrod clouds.
Brydget was the only human refugee, but she was pursued the most aggressively for her nasty habit of stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down, or that was nailed down but loosely so. In her hands was her latest prize, a small boxy robot with stubby legs that called itself Kal.if and provided very little information aside from that. On her shoulder was her pet opossum Growly: the creature never liked physical contact, she mostly just called it her pet while standing ten feet away from the dumpster where it resided, but the young woman was the best escape vehicle from the wrath of the mob.
All three were thrown into a ravine and collapsed upon by two furious members of the mob. They failed to realize that the muddy crack moved at the same pace as the rest of the ground, making it less and less likely they would ever return home.
One of them tried to punch Brydget. Growly bit his hand. Before he could recoil the girl stole the wedding ring off his finger and placed it on her own. She didn’t realize of course. If she noticed when she stole things she never would’ve done it so publicly.
Kal.if, free now that stole other things, waddled over to the man’s ankle and activated his red eye lasers, burning through the pant leg and setting the surrounding area on fire. The howling maniac fell backward and only then noticed how fast the clouds went by.
“We gotta scram!” the one that wasn’t on fire shouted; he whirled around and climbed the ravine, rolling over its edge. The other man was forced to bury his pant leg in the mud first. Every extra second it took to pull it free exponentially exaggerated his fear. He was ruining the pants in an entirely way by the time he joined his friend back on the grass.
There was no being calm in the endless churn of the Minefield, but they at least had room to breathe now. There’d never, in all their lives, had that much room. They were part of a minority in their homeworld, born into paranoia and shame over the general cruelty surrounding them. Their world knew it was just a game for grand beings above. They even knew what those beings called their game: Cards Mooning Decency. It was a mean-spirited event, venom hidden by inanity. It was behind them now.
“Where do you think we’re going?” Brydget asked Growly; the animal’s only response was to crawl off her and bury itself in an uprooted stump at the far end of the ravine. It made a tiny contented sound, telling the others that its singular goal of finding a new dumpster had already been achieved.
“We are likely on our way to a different game,” Kal.if said in his stiff voice, eyes blinking with each syllable. “This moving bridge is debris from an older world. Mineralogical data suggests Minetracker.”
“How do you know all that?” Brydget asked, bending down and picking up various pebbles, not to examine them, just to place them in her pockets. The robot deduced her degree of awareness by the fact that she wore three very expensive-looking shirts all at once, each still bearing their floppy cardboard price tags.
“That information is classified,” the robot answered.
1+1 = 2
“What’s classified?” She took the largest rock yet, bigger than a baseball but with a jagged irregular shape, and smoothly dropped in her pocket. Kal.if noticed there was no corresponding bulge once it was out of sight. The rocks seemed to disappear entirely.
“Everything about me,” the A.I. answered.
“But you seem interesting!”
“Whether or not I’m interesting is classified.” Without warning, tiny jets on Kal.if’s stubby legs activated. He flew up to Brydget’s waist and dove into her pocket. She squeaked and plunged her hands in after him, only them realizing that the pocket was much much deeper than it should’ve been.
She swirled her hands around, but couldn’t find the robot. The space inside her pocket was filled with some sort of fluid, thicker than water but thinner than syrup. She pulled her arms out and saw the color of it: blood red.
“Wait, whose shirt is this?” she asked, grabbing at the shoulders and pulling them into sight. She snatched the red price tag and examined it. “20,000! No wonder those guys were chasing me. Who put this on me? It’s not even cute.” The shirt had numerous fake pearls all over the front, but they were tan in color and over a brown design that looked like something between a dragon bearing its teeth and a smear of beef stroganoff.
She had no idea if the pants had come with the shirt, but she didn’t remember them either. She was wearing two pairs, so better to shed the other one and wait for Kal.if to emerge. She pulled them off leg by leg, stumbling over to to Growly’s stump and sitting on the only branch far enough away to not elicit a defensive growl. She tossed the pants across the ravine and watched them.
A few hours passed with no developments. The pants never even rustled. Brydget absentmindedly stole twigs and leaves from the stump, but with no pockets she could only stuff them down the front of her shirt. Growly was proving even worse for conversation than usual. A polite hiss would’ve been nice, just to know he was listening.
“I know you’re nice deep down,” she told the opossum. “You wouldn’t leave if you weren’t. Cards Mooning Decency was paradise for all those mean people. Oh it’s just a joke Brydget. It doesn’t matter if it hurts as long as it’s funny. Glad to be rid of it all…”
She wondered what the new world be like. The robot seemed to know something about it, but that was ‘classified’. Whoever had classified it was back in their world of snickering insults and genitalia-based guffawing. Their authority shouldn’t extend all the way out here.
Brydget was in the middle of a yawn, as was Growly, when the pants finally stirred. They flapped into the air like a lanky albatross and tried to fly away. With no idea if Kal.if was controlling them, the young woman felt she had no choice but to run, jump, and grab the flailing legs.
To her shock they weren’t bothered by her weight at all. They stayed around the height of the ravine, the waist turning this way and that, trying to decided which direction to fly. She turned her head and saw a boulder approaching rapidly, one so large and embedded that it didn’t move with the rest of the soil. She kicked off the side of the ravine, dodging it as it became part of the crevice and then was expelled out the other side.
The boulder blasted the stump to splinters, forcing the thrown opossum to bite onto one of the pant legs as well. To their mutual confusion and horror, a dark spot began to spread outward from the pocket. It dyed the jeans red: the exact same color of that seeming endless fluid space within the pocket. Brydget didn’t want to touch any of the wet places, but within seconds she had no choice.
A lump appeared in the base of the pocket. Whatever this struggle was, it would remain out of her control until it was out of those mysterious pants and into the light of day. She smacked the lump, trying to drive it up to the mouth of the pocket. It proved effective after a few attempts.
The pants collapsed back to the muddy bottom of the ravine. The pocket belched a flood of that bloody liquid. Brydget and Growly scrambled out of the way to avoid getting drenched.
Out popped Kal.if. His eyes were dark for a moment, but then they lit up with a friendly green. He had no arm to grab with, but that didn’t stop him from stepping on something that was essentially invisible to the other two. Brydget spotted it a moment later as It flailed under the pressure. It look a little like a brittle star, tiny suction rods on its arms locking and flattening against the metal of Kal.if’s legs. Whatever it was, it was so covered in the blood-like liquid that it seemed to be made of it.
“What is that?” she asked, disgust thick in her throat. Growly hissed at it.
“Who did you steal these pants from?” the robot asked, ignoring her query.
“I didn’t steal anything! I would never.” She reached out to take the disgusting wriggling thing, but a weak zap from one of the robot’s laser eyes discouraged her. “Ow! What did you do that for?”
(Chat-Determined) 2 +1=3
“Do not touch this creature,” the robot warned. “I recognize the organic nature of its root programming.”
“That doesn’t look like a robot,” Brydget scoffed. “It looks like… well I don’t even know.”
“It doesn’t have to be a machine to have programming. This thing comes from the entity known as Murdurlur: the extraworld blood god. The pants you stole must have belonged to one of his cultists. That would explain the physics-defying pocket, the programmable hemoglobin fluid, and this creature.”
“So… what do we do with it?” she asked. The robot responded by putting its other foot on one of the creature’s tentacles and then slowly down a split, pulling them as far as possible. The center of the tiny wriggling thing swelled into a bubble with a demon face. It screeched, sending Growly running to the end of the ravine.
“We interrogate it,” Kal.if declared. “What is your name?”
“Codagula,” the bubble screeched. “Codagula drone .04G. Release me.”
“No,” Kal.if answered. Brydget felt utterly left out of this discussion, but that was fine by her. Her life was spent standing in the background, waiting for people to miss opportunities. She doubted there were many in the drenched halls of a blood god from another world. Mostly just opportunities to suffer or die.
“Reveal your programmed purpose,” Kal.if demanded. “What were you doing in our world?”
“I don’t know what your world is,” the sputtering thing insisted.
“Our world’s game name is ‘Cards Mooning Decency’,” Brydget added. “You were in a pants pocket somewhere in there. Can you tell me who put those pants on me. This belligerent little toaster thinks I stole them. Can you believe that? Me? A thief.” She picked up another twig and stuffed it down her shirt, causing three more to fall out the bottom.
“The world doesn’t matter,” the mini Codagula insisted. “I was in bloodspace. That can go anywhere. All worlds are connected by it.”
“Bloodspace?” Kal.if repeated. His eyes went red. “Destroy all denizens of bloodspace! No others must be born from the programming that created me!” Lasers shout out of his eyes and tried to fry the shred of Codagula.
It was just a tiny piece torn from the original being, but it could wield his whole power when under extreme stress. The red puddles surrounding them crystallized into spikes that shot up. The succeeded in forcing Brydget back and Kal.if into the air. The bloody brittle star grew, absorbing some of the fluid. It whipped at the robot with an arm, producing a long gash on Kal.if’s titanium shell.
It was already the size of a house cat, and its growth showed no sign of slowing. Its bubbling face grinned wickedly. Its intent was clear. Kill them all. Take their blood. Unravel any soul that remained and make it part of Codagula or Murdurlur. Be just one more swirling piece of vengeful intent in his now overflowing goblet.
They didn’t stand much chance, but that was the moment the ravine hit the edge of the Minefield. The crevice in the ground stopped suddenly, and started squeezing itself shut. All the beings within were popped out like peas from the pod. The crevice sealed and vanished over the edge.
The Trap was visible past the shredded fog, but there was a rift of permanent empty darkness between the Minefield and the other world. Brydget didn’t know what it was, but she knew they could kill this ‘Codagula’ by throwing him in. Nothing could survive that.
There was no help visible in any direction. It was just them and the bloody monster. Brydget rallied every last scruple and scrap of strength. She wrapped her arms around the piece of Codagula and tried to drag it toward the rift. Kal.if joined her, scorching any tentacles that pulled loose with his lasers.
Even Growly joined in, biting at any that squeezed out of the bottom. Once he was disconnected from the puddles he could grow no more; his strength was at its maximum. At the edge of the rift she tossed him in. His tentacles grabbed at her, tried to pull her along, but Growly’s needle teeth separated them. She flailed, leaning too far over the edge, seeing the fall of dirt and stone at the end of the conveying Minefield…
Kal.if rammed her back, sending her over the rift and into the Trap. They did it. They were through. It dawned on them where they were. They were alive, but not free, not all of them. The Trap took two prisoners to every free soul.
It was obvious that Growly was the freest.
Minefield traversed! Growly will join in the final story ahead.