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 Minefield now connects the Trap to a new world. Three enter, seeing only a shredded sky in the distance: Ayako the tiny samurai, the Caffeinator: a coffee-fueled automaton, and Rocky Rhoda the melting ice cream woman.
The Minefield had become even more hazardous in recent weeks, thanks to the insertion of ‘Cards Mooning Decency’ morals into the chaos mines. Yet, there were few more equipped to handle it than the newest trio to get tossed out onto its moving grassy fields. There was Ayako the samurai who, despite her diminutive height of four feet and zero inches, could cut through a brick wall with her sword, its steel supposedly having been folded six thousand times.
With her was a metal skeleton with glowing golden eyes and a glass container conforming to its ribs filled with bubbling coffee. He was the Caffeinator, a most efficient coffee-powered assassin robot. He had a target, someone outside the world, but not the woman next to him. It was a good thing because she was nearly indestructible. She was now called Rocky Rhoda, and seemed to have a body made of melting ice cream. Though the sloughing off of her muscles annoyed her to no end, her condition did make killing her quite the proposition.
3 + 1 = 4
Though the whole of the Minefield pulled them toward their destination, the Caffeinator had to move as swiftly as possible. He ran, not just forward, but whichever direction Rhoda slithered. The melting woman panicked at the sight of the robot behind her, throwing drops of rainbow flesh in his direction, ordering him to go away.
“What are you doing?” Ayako asked the robot, running alongside it, hand on the hilt of her katana. Her footsteps were nearly silent, not that it mattered with the great churning of soil and rock under the Minefield.
“That woman is made of ice cream,” the Caffeinator stated plainly. “Her right calf appears to be composed of coffee ice cream. I will be claiming it as additional fuel for my hunt.”
“The hell you will!” Rhoda sputtered, but the distance closed fast.
5 (Rocky Rhoda saved)
The Caffeinator made a leap that neither of them expected, knocking his target to the ground. His metal hand reconfigured into a sharp ice cream scoop, cleaving her caramel-colored calf from her body. His chest opened up and he dumped his prize inside, where it melted and churned with the rest of the brew.
Ayako was disturbed by the smell, but she saw a way to resolve the situation without violence. As part of her rigid moral code, she had to do that as often as possible. She brought out a small thermos from her armored backpack. Inside was a single scoop of green tea ice cream, her favorite, but it would have to do as a transplant. She pulled it out and replaced Rhoda’s missing calf.
“Thank you,” the woman sputtered through sticky drippy lips. “If I lose even a single scoop permanently I’ll die.”
She didn’t even have time to scowl at the unrepentant Caffeinator, for they were under one of the many newly-agitated mines. A strange weather event rolled in, entirely separate from the goldenrod clouds above it. It was like a hail storm, but the stones that fell were not ice.
Ayako picked one up and examined it. She grimaced when the closest thing she had for comparison was a scab. This was much too large though; its dried blood looked almost like ruby. Some of the hail was more cream-colored, like chunks of dead skin from a giant. They were forced to seek shelter, as it struck quite painfully, even denting the Caffeinator’s head.
4+1=5 (Rocky Rhoda)
The first structure they came to that provided cover looked like some sort of tent meant for a wedding party. Who would get married in a place of pure chaos was a mystery, but for now the tulip-yellow top kept the disturbing hail away.
They thought they were safe to relax, but Rhoda cried out. She only now realized that she’d left her strawberry-flavored right elbow behind. The hail must have knocked it off her when she was running. There was nothing they could do for her, since it was impossible to spot amongst all the uncut scabby hailstones. All they could do was make her comfortable in the large empty punch bowl left behind by the wedding party. Ayako held her hand all the while, until it was just a stain on her palm.
(Chat-Determined) 1, mine! – Ayako and Caffeinator Saved
The horrors of the Minefield did not stop, as the two survivors came an inch from death once again, before the hail had even passed. Ayako nearly consumed a piece of cake left behind, and the Caffeinator nearly ingested a cold latte from one of the tables. Luckily, she smelled poison on both of them and warned the machine.
She didn’t know if the compound posed any risk to him, but he was grateful nonetheless, even offering her a gift. He separated a black mechanism from his back and poured the latte into it, revealing that the poison was no risk to him. The shot of caffeine transformed the tiny machine into what looked like a robotic monkey. It scurried up her shoulder. The Caffeinator explained that it would do her bidding from then on and she only had to fuel it with one coffee pod a week. She thanked the assassin and named her new pet Jittera.
The samurai’s nerves were still perched on a razor’s edge, for the storm wasn’t done with them yet. The hail finally stopped, but then it started moving, rolling across the ground toward their tent. They both realized that all of this was connected, that the body soil from the sky was actually the intended wedding party. The rocky scabs and balls of skin piled into each other, forming roughly human shapes that started going about the business of a wedding.
The sight was disturbing enough, but two of them grabbed Ayako by the shoulders and dragged her toward the flowery arch past all the folding chairs. Greasy clumps of skin, like a tarp made of pressed dandruff, slithered over her, forcing her into a disgusting wedding gown.
She reached for her sword, but couldn’t force her hand through the dress covering it. The Caffeinator looked poised to assist, but she told him, with a silent nod that only assassins understand, to stay calm. Perhaps there was no need. She wouldn’t be honoring any marriage she was forced into anyway.
The Caffeinator stood by her side, hands behind his back, as if he was the best man. Jittera knelt next to her like the ring-bearer. They all watched as one of the mounds of epidermal detritus lumbered into the arch. It wore a flap of white skin around its shoulders, looking a bit like a priest.
“We are gathered here today,” the mound said, speaking out of a flaky hole in the odd shape that counted as its head. Brown blood bubbled in the back of its throat. “…to create a most necessary union. We will bonding a piece of the great Jeremy to a piece from one of these lowly games.”
“Jeremy?” Ayako asked. She looked over at the gross tower that was to be her groom. It looked like all the others. “Is this Jeremy?”
“No, you stupid piece,” the skin priest growled. “We are all parts of Jeremy. He has business here and must have a body that can sustain itself on this plain. This union will create that by feeding on your nature as part of all this meaningless cardboard.”
“Am I a ‘piece’ as well?” the Caffeinator asked, drawing the priest’s attention, though it was difficult to tell with its lack of eyes.
“Everything down here that thinks it’s alive is just part of a game to the great Jeremy. The fact that you resist is humorous. The only reason you still live is because the other gods keep our master at bay He must flick us from his fingers, down to these worlds. Now be quiet! It’s time for the vows.”
“I promise to destroy this place and everything living in it!” the groom shouted, the top of his head cracking off and flapping back and forth as he did so.
“Excellent vows,” the priest commended. The entire crowd applauded, sipping at the poisoned food and drink that was meant to keep out everything but a bride. “Now you say something,” the priest ordered Ayako. Her lips were sealed. “Anything. Anything you say now makes it official. Just speak and we can kill you and move on with all this.” Not a molecule of air escaped her lips, quite the achievement given the lip-curling smell of the things all about her.
“You’re very bad at manipulation,” the Caffeinator said. “What could possibly compel her to speak now. You might as well give her up and wait for another one.”
“We don’t really care if it’s a woman,” the skin priest spat. It made a snapping noise; the wedding dress responded by splitting and flying over to bind the Caffeinator, practically spinning Ayako in place. Before it could get that far she drew her sword and drove it through the dress, firmly staking it in the ground even as it tried to rip itself away.
“We’re not your playthings,” she said, happy to feel air on her arms again. “We’re not this ‘Jeremy’s’ either.”
“Just get them!” the priest barked. The wedding guests closed in.
The assassins finally had a chance to show off their skills, and all it took to get things started was one more nod between them. Ayako dragged her sword with incredible speed, rending the dress in two. Its inanimate form collapsed, but not before she sliced through the knees of three dandruff golems that charged her.
The Caffeinator, not to be outdone, used the table decorations as weapons, spinning a cake knife and a shrimp fork at such speeds as to turn them into the blades of a blender. He shredded five more guests, coating the tarp in one of the nastiest substances to ever exist in any world.
Jittera fought as well, from Ayako’s shoulder, opening its coffee-turbine and blasting holes through them with super-heated java shots.
It took all of two minutes for the trio to defeat the residue of Jeremy. There was no life left in any of it, which was quite important given how they were all smeared with the viscera of the battle. Jittera climbed one of the tent poles and used the knives on his utility thumbs to slice huge pieces of the tarp away. The other two were then free to use the cleaner sides to wipe down their faces and limbs.
With the gross union cancelled, they decided to move on and hopefully leave the smell behind. They found their way into a forest. They were amazed to see such a thing, as they didn’t understand how trees could take root in this volatile ground. Ayako pressed her thumb into the bark of one, finding it quite rubbery. It seemed that when this world bent, the plants just bent with it.
The forest provided plenty of shade and quiet where they could discuss things. The Caffeinator was more forthcoming with the details of his mission.
“I have a target inside a place called the Trap. I will reach them before I hit my last drop of bitter black, and I will separate their head from their body.”
“What will be your reward?” Ayako asked without judgment. Everyone had their own code.
“A new brewing pot,” the robot answered, almost proudly. “One with enough power to allow me to fly.” Jittera scampered through the bouncy tree branches, seeming to enjoy his time there. Ayako wondered if they shared some sort of program that sought adventure or high places.
When they reached the end of the forest they found a chaotic place full of colorful characters and flock-packs of winged dogs. The forest revealed exactly how hearty it was when it bent at the seam of two worlds and was squeezed underneath them like pasta through a press.
They were welcomed on the other side, helped across the gap by the winged beasts, but informed that the Trap was a most unusual sort of place, especially in the run-up to what they learned would be a confrontation with the ‘great Jeremy’. Only one of them could participate. The others had to be willing prisoners to keep the Trap stable.
The Caffeinator had his target, and Ayako was fine to leave him to it. She would meditate on her own path in the comfy cages, stroking her new pet.
Minefield traversed! The Caffeinator will join in the final story ahead.