8th Official Tournament: Round 6!
Even if for some completely inexplicable reason I legitimately desired to speak of the events that had occurred following the Crow’s Ghost releasing of me from within its abyss, I’m afraid that doing so would amount to nothing more than a series of unsubstantiated guesses. Even now I’m not entirely certain as to how I got from where I was to where I am now. According to biocam recordings that I viewed in private later on, the FFR Governing Staff had traveled to the frozen deserts of southern Florida and collected the last of the Quarks while I was operating on autopilot like some sort of mechanized imposter of myself. It was then, after the the fourth Quark was removed from its ancient resting place, that a series of devastating repercussions were propagated into existence. If the universe had been considered to be of great instability beforehand, then the word to adequately describe what we as a species have been forced to suffer through afterwords has yet to be coined. There were several instances in which I was warped to the onset of the tournament as a silent spectator only to be warped back to the present a few minutes later. My body had fluctuated in age from fetus to corpse and everywhere in between. I had awoken with my vital organs transfused to the walls of my bedroom, only to have them melt into a fine paste that was then greedily devoured by a roaming gang of Betamax tapes moments later.
However, out of all of the changes that had taken place, none had been more disastrous than the loss of the entire FFR Governing Council. Although their fortress persisted, those that once resided within its fleshy walls had been reduced to nothing more than faint relics of the past, ones that served to haunt the hallways and fill me with a nameless dread irrespective of wherever I was in the building. Every evening when I went to sleep I would pray with every ounce of my being that when I awoke the universe would’ve reincarnated those that it has taken from me, but sure enough when morning arrived my surroundings would be as lifeless as they were in the days and weeks prior. If it were not for Professor Halogen, the only person other than myself that persisted, I fear that I would’ve been driven even more insane than I already was.
Division One: Disc Jockey MIKE
Following similarly in line with the eradication of the FFR Governing Staff’s populace, so too had the numbers of those still participating in the tournament dwindled until they reached the single digits. A deficit of meaningful activities to pass the time until the tournament reached its eventual conclusion had resulted in Professor Halogen and I spending the vast majority of our days cooped up in the Control Room, mindlessly watching each and every bit of action on the self-replicating terminals encapsulating us within the dimly lit and foul smelling dugout.
“Now, see, Division One is in quite the dilly of the pickle here,” the Professor casually informed me. “Since we didn’t defeat Disc Jockey MIKE after collecting the fourth Quark, it’s now up to those poor folks to deal with him instead. But see, the interesting thing about MIKE is not the giant microphone that he uses to bludgeon things to death with, but rather the horse made out of CD’s that he’s riding. I hear that if you kill the beast and put its eviscerated carcase into any old stereo system then you’ll hear the most beautiful polka-punk fusion serenade ever known to mankind. I wonder if those restless souls in D1 still have it in them to slay both the horse and MIKE after all of the shapeshifting and the like that they’ve endured thus far.”
Division Two: Walking on a Dream
As far as I could tell, the Professor’s plan for collecting the Quarks had been in the hopes that he could harness their power and utilize them in order to proliferate the reign of the FFR Governing Staff, thus ensuring that he could conduct his various experiments indefinitely, but now that the Staff was no more and there were no willing test subjects left, he had sunken into a state of what I had assumed was absolute despair. His constant play-by-play narration of events that I could very well see with my own (usually) two eyes grew tiresome rather quickly, but at the same time I felt that if putting up with his irksome practices meant that he could keep his mind off of going insane then doing so was a small price to pay in comparison risking a homicidal rampage, even if there wasn’t all that much left to rampage against.
“And Division Two…ho boy are they going to be in for quite the toxic slide ride as well! Now, since they’re in Portland, which as you know is the city where dreams come from, those D2′ers are going to have to traverse the harsh skyscraper-laden environment using physical manifestations of their own hopes, dreams and desires as bridges. Walking on a Dream is tough, especially because it’s so gosh darn embarrassing! I mean, imagine if you had to walk across a projection of the person that you have a crush on giving you a particular harsh spanking, or you eating your favorite meal of theoretical larvae on rye! Wouldn’t that be awful?”
“Yeah, that would stink alright,” I distantly replied.
Division Three: ETERNAL DRAIN [Heavy]
As Halogen continued to ramble on about something that I held absolutely zero interest in listening to, I turned my attention over towards Division Three. On the screen I saw what appeared to be an inverted cone of blinding light that set nearby trees ablaze and made the area’s robotic wildlife short circuit in terror. The remaining members of Division Three continued to wage battle around this structure as if it wasn’t even there. However, their blissful ignorance came to a premature conclusion when the cone suddenly grew to be the size of an overturned Egyptian pyramid. The structure proceeded to consume a robodeer, converting the helpless mechanoid into an elongated beam of pure energy that was subsequently fired into the starlit sky.
“The ETERNAL DRAIN,” the Professor commented, apparently taking notice of my grim expression. “Touch it and you’re banished to the cosmos for eternity. Pretty harsh, huh?”
“You can say that again.”
Division Four: DownTemperature
Silence reigned dominant until the man seated on the floor adjacent to me cleared his throat and spoke again. “I don’t think that we’ll have to worry about Division Four until later on in the week. I mean, look! They’re all encased in proto-ice! The DownTemperature protocol there must have turned the omnipotent thermostat down to somewhere way below absolute zero. They’ll be sitting ducks for a few days until the grand thaw comes later on and frees them from their icy prison cells.”
“Temperatures can get lower than absolute zero, eh?” I thought aloud, not caring about how ridiculous such a statement would have sounded to somebody of this world.
“Well yes, of course,” the Professor smiled in my general direction. “I thought that by this point in time you would have realized that this universe doesn’t operate the same way that the old one did.”
Division Five: 44 Edit
Before the Professor could even finish his sentence my circulatory system had long since come to a screeching halt. “What…what did you just say?” I confusedly stammered.
Halogen stood up and turned his back to me so that he could watch Division Five phase in and out of existence as a result of what I assumed was the 44 Edit procedure, a phenomenon in which their existences were created and then edited forty-four times thereafter in order to ensure absolute symbiotic perfection. “What, did you really think that you were the only person here that remembers the way that things used to be? Jeez, I thought that you were smarter than that.”
“You mean there’s…err, was more people like us out there?”
He solemnly shook his head. “No. It’s just you and I, I’m afraid. Always has been, always will be. It’s kind of strange, isn’t it, that of all the things to turn into a supreme dictatorship, the universe would choose a flash-based rhythm gaming community where most of its members have never even seen each other face to face, or even interacted at that! It’s…almost funny, actually. Pretty hilarious. I’d laugh if I could.”
Division Six and Seven: The Ordeal Becomes Great
“Wait, so the reason that you’ve been borderline insane these past few weeks isn’t because of the FFR Governing Staff’s demise?”
“Correct. You see, much like you, I’ve been trying to get humanity back to the place in which they belong. I thought that if all four of the Quarks were reunited then I would be able to harness enough power to figure out exactly what caused this shift and undo the process as well, but as you can see such an outcome never came to fruition.”
“I…I think I know how to fix everything though,” I said after a particularly lengthy bout of silence. “I have to reach something called Infinity. Do you know what that is?”
“I do. It’s only a concept, but it’s still theoretically possible. Hmm…I suppose that idea could show some sort of promise. It’s just that I don’t…wait…wait, yes, that’s it!” Halogen suddenly cried as he pointed at the monitor showcasing Division Six and Seven suspended in what appeared to be Super Sonic Hummus. “I understand it now! I understand everything! Tell me, Ensign, are you willing to do whatever it takes to undo the errors in this universe?”
Any semblance of hesitation was nonexistent within myself as I immediately answered with an emphatic, “Yes.”
“Excellent. Well then, from henceforth the ordeal, or rather your ordeal, becomes great, and I don’t mean ‘great’ in the ‘agreeable’ sense either.”
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