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-[ prismic △ sanctum ]-
"Take a minute if you need it.
Think about what we learned--"

"...We learned that I'm going to be cleaved in half."
"...Not what I meant."
They groan and cover their face, sliding down the corner to sit on the floor.

"...Damage keeps over time, so units can be worn down by attrition.
Same rank units on the same team seems to be the same thing.
So, we're up against... one more shadow, another wood and bone monster, and the rank 1 and rank 4 units are a mystery."

Cerulean sighs. "Yes. I got all that, thank you."
"We've got three flail spheres, one gun sphere that's damaged, another sphere that does something else, and you.
And, I can swap in if things go bad."

"...I know..."



"Our units move first and combat resolves immediately, before they can move.
So, we could interrupt what they've got planned by having our units be in a bad spot for them, or damaging one of--"

"Wrong," they state bluntly.

"...What?"
"You're wrong, I said."
"Enlighten me, then."
"My guess is that the AI's moves are calculated after our move finishes.
So they probably aren't 'planned out' until that point.
We have no advantage."


"...There's two of us."

"There is that."



"Do you want to swap out? 
Or quit?"

"...If you want to do either, then by all means, hit the button.
I'm not done yet."










"...I'll at least keep you away from that thing for now.
If you end up having to fight it, I at least want to weaken it first.
Our rank 3 can take out some of their weaker units, since their rank 4 is blocked.
As long as I'm careful."


"Well, you only have two moves, don't you?
Don't forget that horrible thing is only a space away from our end of the board."


You fall silent.



You've already input your commands.








{R4: RIGHT 2}
{R3: UP 3}


                                                        Commands accepted!
                                                                Moving pieces . . .

Cerulean's container slides to the side, now partially surrounded by two Rank 1 units.
Your Rank 3 moves forward afterwards, right in front of some enemy units.

"ROUX."


You watch the board silently, worry mounting.





                                                        It's GOLD TEAM's turn!
                                                                Moving pieces . . .

Immediately, the enemy Rank 3 unit moves down a single space, reaching the edge of the board.

                                                              RANK ADVANCED!
                                                       Gold Rank 3  -> Gold Rank 4

You watch as the creature twitches, its container starting to shimmer.
Its head lurches upward, as if looking in your direction.

It shudders.
Then, with a sickening crack, it splits in half down the middle, all the way down to the base of its neck.
The shimmering stops.

The twin moon heads sway independently, each forming new bottomless holes at their centers.

"...what was that...?
...about being careful?"










The new Rank 4 unit moves one space to the left, colliding with one of your remaining Rank 1s.

                                                        COMBAT ENGAGED!
                                                  GOLD Rank 2 vs. GREEN Rank 2

The containers raise to the arena.

                                                             S T A R T !

Your unfortunate Rank 1 robot fares about as well as you expected.
It manages to slam one of the creature's legs with its flail before being unceremoniously sawed into four pieces by the heads.


                                                           F I N I S H !

                                                  GOLD Rank 3 is the victor!

"Congratulations, this is a slaughter now."





Not done yet, the Rank 4 moves one more space to the right before mercifully coming to a stop.

It rests only a few spaces from Cerulean, who is now partially blocked in by Rank 1 units.


[Image: nHqVoqR.png]

                                                          It's your turn!
                                       You may input TWO movement commands.

You don't feel good.

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shit shit shit
{R2: Down 2}
we need to weaken that thing
{R3: Up 2}
and bolster our own pieces.

Run this by cerulean first, since odds are they will have to fight the weakened monster this round.

Hand over the quit button ready to press the moment things get too bad.

After this turn, we'll (hopefully) have two higher-level pieces vs their (hopefully) two pieces, meaning the difference is in their two extra rank 1's. Possible to win but we're going to have to keep an eye on that other level 4.

Since Cerulean is our highest ranked piece, once this shitshow of a turn is over we should prioritise getting them to the other side of the board to rank up.

But first, before we input anything, have cerulean take a nap. They need to be well rested for the battle.
[Image: 7ypC3K8.gif]
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"...You know what? I suggested we stop and rest before, and that's exactly what we're going to do. Clearly we misjudged the type of game this was, and I really don't feel comfortable letting you fight any of that with a concussion. And don't try to tell me you disagree, because I saw the look on your face when that Rank 3 got revealed. At the very least, we'll have a few minutes before some kind of built-in warning system forces me to make a move, but I don't think it's likely since we're playing an AI. No one's there to get impatient. There's also the give up button if you want, but if we're dead set on fighting these things you're going to rest first. It's up to you."

"I think your tail's long enough you could use it as a pillow."
Artificial lifeform/mechanical construct on a mission to obtain every armor type TCP and also maybe make cool stuff along the way

If you call me a bionicle I will stab your feet

 
[Image: WOxKePR.png] [Image: DGVV5eJ.png]
Reply
this is bad.
we're going to lose this



and Mantis--





this is bad.
this is Really bad



what can we do?

what's the play here?




this is the only way forward.

we have to get through this
have to hope it leads back to them

and getting through this

means






"...We need to stop and rest.
We can't do this otherwise.
Do you think you'd be able to sleep for a bit?
I'll wait."


Cerulean doesn't respond, so you continue.

"...I've got a plan, for after.
Think I can weaken the Rank 4 piece with one of our Rank 2's, and hopefully upgrade our--"


A loud buzzer sounds, jolting you from what you were saying.

Confused, you look out to the board as it's bathed in a yellow light.















Your screen gives you the news.



                         GREEN TEAM forfeits!
                      GOLD TEAM is the winner!




Looking down, you see Cerulean's hand leaving the button.



Before you can speak, the floor drops beneath you.

You gasp.

You land quickly, now falling down a large tube, various colors flashing along the walls, disorienting you.

You try to get a grip or prop yourself up on the walls to stop your sliding, but they're far too slick.







It's not long before you're tossed out, landing on solid ground once more.
A familiar upbeat electronic tune rings in your ears.

You can hear Cerulean tumbles down soon after, and you scramble to get out of their way.
You stumble in the process, now feeling dazed thanks to the lights in the tube, but manage to get enough distance.

Having avoided a collision, you get to your feet.

The amerveille scoots over, sitting against the wall.













You turn to examine your surroundings, only to meet a translucent brick wall.

The screen from before is there, but all it shows is:


                                       Thank you for visiting The Colosseum!
                                                        Come back soon!





You tap the screen.

Nothing happens.





You tap it again.

Nothing happens.












Frustration swells, but the feeling melts away quickly.



Instead, your heart sinks.



"You... could've switched with me.
We're back where we started now...
...What're we supposed--"


"We aren't."

They point through the translucent brick wall, along the left side.
There, you spot the bridge you activated to enter the colosseum proper, which was now retracting itself.

Turning, the door next to you was different as well:  It looks heavy; made of steel with yellow stripes painted across it.

A trickle of relief soothes you.





"...then we should keep moving."
You waste no time going for the door.

"...How bad off am I?" 
You stop.

Their tone is downcast and faint, their confidence all but eradicated.

"You can tell, can't you?
That's your... 'power', or whatever you'd prefer to call it."




They look up, meeting your eyes as their voice grows shaky.

"Don't lie to me."

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"For myself and everyone I'm currently allied with, I get a little screen describing their current health conditions. There's a wiggly colored line that I think represents pulse or brain activity or something along those lines, and a short text description that talks about current condition and recommended treatment. Your description says- and I'm reading this verbatim- "CERULEAN - UNSTABLE: PHYSICALLY EXHAUSTED. MILD CONCUSSION PRESENT. RELATIVE PHYSICAL AND COGNITIVE REST IS RECOMMENDED ON A TEMPORARY BASIS."

"Does that seem accurate to you? I'm not trying to be snippy, I genuinely want to know so that I know how reliable this thing is. If you do have a concussion, I seriously think we should find a safe space and rest for a while. If you're worried, we could sleep in shifts or something, but I really don't like the idea of wandering around... whatever this place is... the way you are now."


While we're making direct eye contact, you may as well check their pupils. I'm not sure if amervielle work the same way humans do, but it's worth checking while we have the chance.
Artificial lifeform/mechanical construct on a mission to obtain every armor type TCP and also maybe make cool stuff along the way

If you call me a bionicle I will stab your feet

 
[Image: WOxKePR.png] [Image: DGVV5eJ.png]
Reply
"It's not as bad as you think, honestly. I mainly suggested the nap because I wanted to make sure you were as close to 100% as possible to fight off that eldritch horror. Didn't want to get you killed or anything. You've got a concussion and you're exhausted. That's basically it.

Really, I'm worried about Mantis, the green person I was with before. Something's interfering with my diagnostic for them, I don't even know if they're alive."
[Image: 7ypC3K8.gif]
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Part of you is still hesitant to tell them.

But, by this point, you haven't known Mantis much longer than Cerulean, even if the latter is much more suspicious.
They've had plenty of time to pull something.
Could be they haven't only because they're hurt, but...

...Fine. I'll bite.

"I can 'see' information in my head; for myself and others.
Mostly medical. Current health status, and any conditions.
It says you're exhausted, you have a mild concussion, and that rest is recommended.
That's it."


They lean their head back against the wall, closing their eyes as they draw in a deep breath, and let it out.

"So... not dying, then?"
"Not dying.
If this is accurate.
...Does that sound accurate to you?"

"Well, there's no way to really know, is there?
But... I am exhausted - I'm sure you could tell without using that.
Physically, it feels as if I've been run over by a train.
Beyond that:  
Headache, dizziness; that sort of thing, mostly.
So... I have no reason to believe it's in-accurate, I'll say."

"Better than nothing."





An idea hits you.
"Can I check something?"
"Hm?"
"With you, I mean."
"If it helps you rule out something worse, then by all means:  
Examine away, doctor."


Cerulean lets their arms go limp at their sides.

You move closer and crouch down in front of them, once again realizing just how much taller they are in comparison.
You push that thought away, though, and inspect their eyes.

Their eyes go a little wider and glance away from you, making them slightly more difficult to examine, but you manage well enough.
"...hard to tell, but I don't think your pupils are too dilated, and they definitely aren't different sizes.
That's good."

You stand back up.

Cerulean clears their throat as they start to speak, drawing your attention back to them.
They're sporting a blush on their cheeks, one that is quickly fading.
"...Good. Fine. Good news."





...You decide not to comment on it.
You don't have a clue what you'd say, anyway.

"...So, you're fine.
I'm more worried about Mantis, who you saw me with before.
There's some sort of interference, I don't even know if they're alive."

"They aren't that far."

"...what?"

"I can tell where they are. Roughly." Cerulean taps their forehead.

One like Mantis, then?
Maybe the same power?


"Alright...
You tell me where, and I get you somewhere to rest while I go after them."

"It isn't that simple."



They take their time standing up.

"Roughly, I said.
Distance and direction, not specific rooms.
I'd need to lead you there.
And even that might not be enough, considering how this place is laid out.
But I suppose I can try, and I'll look for some safe spot to lie down on the way."


They put their claw on the doorknob.

"Does that sound doable?"

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"Well, hang on a second. We've been standing here talking for the past few minutes. Has Mantis been moving around at all?"

In the meantime, that sounds like a good plan. Head in Mantis' direction and see if we can't find a good spot for Cerulean to rest along the way. I don't like the idea of leaving them alone for too long, though.
Artificial lifeform/mechanical construct on a mission to obtain every armor type TCP and also maybe make cool stuff along the way

If you call me a bionicle I will stab your feet

 
[Image: WOxKePR.png] [Image: DGVV5eJ.png]
Reply
"Hang on. 
Has Mantis moved at all since we've been talking?"


Cerulean quietly shakes their head.
"...They haven't moved in the slightest since I've been checking.
When you mentioned that interference."


Worry wells up in you, but you swallow it down.

"...Let's hurry, then."
The cat nods, and leads you through the only door out.






As soon as you make it through, your ears are assaulted by loud, mechanical noise.
Glancing around immediately gives you the impression as to why:

Through giant windows on both sides of this hallway, you can see massive, factory-like machinery going to work.
Sanding, welding, molding, cutting; doing various tasks along numerous conveyor belts which all seem to be floating within proximity of one another, out in black voids.
You want to check longer, but just existing in this room is painful.

You put your claws to the sides of your head, checking Cerulean to see that they seem to be having it even worse.
The poor feline has clamped their ears down against their head, wincing in pain as they barely seem able to stand.



Without hesitation, you quickly find the closest door on the right side, wanting to leave as soon as possible, but Cerulean stops you.

They pull you further down the hall by the shoulder, shaking their head.
You pick up the pace alongside them, hurrying all the way to the end of the hall where another door awaits you.





The both of you accidentally wedge in against each other for a moment, trying to push through as fast as you can.
In no time, you both manage to make it through and slam the door behind you.

Cerulean sits down as you flop your back against a wall.

The amerveille frantically rubs at their ears.
"Why does this place have it out against me specifically?!" They whined, groaning in frustration.
You shake your head, trying to get your bearings.
"...Better or worse than that music from before?"
They laugh despite themself, seeming to caught off guard by your joke.
"...Somehow still preferable to hearing that awful music on loop."
"Noted." 



The hallway you're in is tiny; plain white walls and white floor.
There's a curved staircase in front of you that's blocked in as well, barely having room for a handrail.

Cerulean stands up as you glance at the other door.
They seem to consider their options for a moment.
"...Up, I think."


Following them up the stairs, you have to stop for a moment.

There's an absolute monster of a telescope at the top, pointed upward at a dome-shaped ceiling.
It's surrounded by all sorts of little monitors and various other electronics.
All the equipment seems to be off - keeping the room fairly dim save for some emergency lighting.

You can't help being curious, even if you know there's no time for this now.

Cerulean walks past you as you marvel at everything.
They feel along the back wall, finding some shutters that open horizontally in pairs, each one seeming to house a door behind them.
The cat doesn't bother with any but the leftmost one, which they open.
"Come on, you can fiddle with that later."
"Right."
Focus.








You follow them into the next room, which is pitch black.

You instinctively blink a few times, allowing your eyes to adjust.
"...I can't see my own hand in front of my face," Cerulean informs you as you see them indeed waving their hand.
"It's fine, I can."
You're thankful for your apparently-phenomenal night vision.

This is... a tunnel of some kind.
Must be a subway or train tunnel, as there are tracks running along it.





"You just tell me... where..."
A ways down the tunnel, you spot something. 


The realization hits you.

You rush down the tracks towards the concrete lip you recognize from before, passing another door to your left on the way.
"Hold on, where are you--!
Get BACK here you idiot!"

You reach it and scramble up onto the platform.
There's an orange power box to your right, but you ignore that as well.

Finding the set of double doors, you check through the windows to see a familiar skybridge, and past it, the mall atrium.

"I... I know where we are.
This is near where I left Mantis.
They have to be close by..."

Your hands are shaking from the brief surge of adrenaline, but you manage to unlock the doors.



Cerulean clambers up the platform behind you, cursing under their breath as they fumble in the dark.
"Fantastic.
But as far as I can tell, they're just west of the door you bolted past, just down the tracks.
Very close.
And a bit further... downward, as well. 
Probably a single floor."




"We can go through here instead, if you'd really prefer to, but I'm telling you where I see them."

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"I've been on the other side of this door, that skybridge leads into a shopping mall, which leads into an SDU hall, whatever that is. Through there is the fish museum and the mailroom you found me in.

...But if you've got a faster way to get there, I'm all ears. We can just turn around again if we run into a dead end or something."


Let's turn around and go back through Cerulean's door. Maybe stop and check out the power box on the way.
Artificial lifeform/mechanical construct on a mission to obtain every armor type TCP and also maybe make cool stuff along the way

If you call me a bionicle I will stab your feet

 
[Image: WOxKePR.png] [Image: DGVV5eJ.png]
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