DEAR WORDPRESS BLOGGERS:
IF YOU “LIKE” THIS POST WITHOUT READING IT, YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE BORN WITHOUT LEGS.
Everyone looked at her and she blushed before walking over and removing her knife from the Big Cheese’s skull. She was the same sister who’d shot Vaxit, so at this point it seemed like she was a little bit excitable.
She came back and sat down next to Sev and took a sip of his soda. Isla sat next to her and they all began munching on the french fries. Vaxit however, was looking pretty bummed out.
“What’s with you?” Sev asked.
“This isn’t the employee lounge. This is the executive employee lounge.”
“So what’s the difference?”
I think the other one has a vending machine with cinnamon rolls.
Sev glared at him. “You have enough?”
“I want half of it, then.”
“And we want half too!” demanded the twins.
“NO, YOU CAN ALL HAVE ONE BITE.”
“Then we’re not helping you!” the sisters growled.
Sev got up because he wanted to know what a cinnamon roll tasted like. I guess I didn’t leave that knowledge with him. However, I surely left the knowledge that that’s not extremely important. It was at this point that I began to despair for the mission ever being completed.
Vaxit smiled and shook his hand. “You won’t regret this, man.”
Sev told the girls to wait and they went marching off down the hall. The upper levels of Emoji were now in a state of Emergency, due somewhat to the death of the Big Cheese. Most of the offices were locked and sometimes Sev would catch a disgusting monster peeking out at them from behind a… door-window. You know what I’m talking about, right? They’re like thin vertical, rectangular windows in doors with thick glass. A lot of schools have them. In many ways, the Emoji Factory was like a school. This just happened to be one superficial way.
When they arrived, after a boring 5 minutes of marching, they found that the employee louge had been barricaded. Oh no! Bummer.
“I want that cinnamon roll, Sev,” said Vaxit. “I haven’t had one in almost ten million years.”
“Well, it’s locked. What do you want to do?”
“Go grizzly-mode and break the doors down.”
“That’s bullshit, I’m tired. Just shoot the lock.”
“And waste ammo?”
“Then let’s just forget it!”
“GO GRIZZLY MODE, COME ON!”
The two started yelling at each other, but as they did so, Ava came sprinting down the hallway. They wouldn’t have heard her footsteps, but her charge was heralded by a loud, metallic kind of flickering that appeared to be emanating from her body. Sev and Vaxit got up against the sides of the wall as she ran through the doors, obliterating them in an explosion of splintered wood.
Immediately, another explosion inside caused a thick cloud of dust to erupt into the hallway, and the lads couldn’t see what was going on inside the lounge. But they heard the distinct sound of bodies being torn apart accompanied by a chorus of demonic wailing and shrieking.
Vaxit was coughing his lungs out and gesturing for Sev to go in, but Sev gestured at the dust.
The screaming continued, but they heard a yelp from Ava as well.
In an instant, Sev was inside, although still utterly blind in the fog of dust. What a valiant knight.
“Ava!” he yelled. “Ava! Are you okay?”
“No…” she whimpered.
Through the haze, Sev followed the sound of her voice and found her sitting on the floor. He bent down to look at her.
“Where are you hurt?” he said.
She held up her hand and Sev took it. He didn’t see any injury.
“What’s the matter?” he said.
She shook her hand and cried as if it were obvious.
Sev looked closer and saw the paper cut between her index and middle finger.
“…I’ll find a band-aid.”
“Everything all right in there?” Vaxit called from the hall.
“Ava got cut. It’s pretty bad,” said Sev.
Vaxit stormed in with the demonic vacuum he’d taken from a nearby office. Intended for sucking souls, it also worked absolute wonder on dust particles, and the room was clear in seconds.
“Where’s the cut?” asked Vaxit, preparing to attempt some divine first-aid.
Ava held out her hand to him as Sev turned away to hide his smirk.
As Vaxit was scolding Ava for being a crybaby, Sev looked at the bodies that littered the room. Mostly human, a few partially-human, and one obviously-not-human.
“She killed them all,” Sev said.
“Yeet,” replied Vaxit. “But more importantly, look!”
In the corner stood the vending machine, which indeed still had a number of cinnamon buns, among other snacks, left. The vendor had just restocked it that day. In fact, he was one of the people Ava had destroyed on her rampage. His name was Joe. I’d hesitate to call him or any man “innocent”, but I don’t know if he deserved to die like that. Thankfully, it’d been relatively quick– he’d been on the other side of the door when Ava exploded through it. His death was very similar to Vaxit’s. I’ve never had to compare the impact-forces of Grizzly-Sev and Ava, but they’re both more than enough to kill a man. Especially a man like Joe, who’d been kinda frail. Not at all the typical body-type for vendors, right? They’re usually kinda big guys. That might not seem like a big deal or suspicious to you, but to me it reeked to the High-Heavens of nepotism. And I was right.
Joe’s death will have tremendous consequences for the vending machine company– Yumoji, a subsidiary of Emoji. And before long, those tremendous consequences will pass on to our brave heroes. But for now, they sat down at relaxed at the biggest table, surrounded by the bodies of Ava’s unforunate victims.
“Man it was really packed in here,” said Vaxit taking a bite of his cinnamon roll.
Sev checked his watch– a nice, sturdy mechanical that had belonged to Charles Habegger. “Well, it’s lunchtime…”
“I still haven’t had my break,” Ava whined sadly. Sev handed her a well-earned cinnamon roll (they’d decided to just break into the machine and take them all) She cheered and began noshing on it, wrapper and all.
Sev looked around at the corpses.
“Wasn’t there another way?” LMAO what a nice guy. In particular, Sev eyed the remains of Vendor Joe, who although got it the quickest, also got it the worst. The other bodies were slashed up, missing limbs, but poor Vendor Joe’s body would have been unrecognizable to his own mother.
Isla walked in just then. “He deserved to die. They all deserve to die.” She sat down and Vaxit handed her a cinnamon roll.
She wasn’t joking, she believed it. Although she was also intentionally quoting Paxton Fettel from the video game F.E.A.R. “WOWWWWWW, ANOTHER VIDEO GAME” you cry out. It’s not ME this time, it’s ISLA. It’s not like I’m just making this up, Isla was a hardcore fps gamer. When she was but a young teenager, F.E.A.R. was the first first-person shooter game she ever played. Her dad got it for her just to prove he could to her mother. (We’ll talk about their parents later) F.E.A.R. is what helped fuel her love for both firearms and ghost stories, and one of the reasons she’d convinced herself to join Emoji as part of the security team. Isla longed to see spooky things like basic girls long to see exotic countries. She’d often tried to sneak into the lower levels of the Emoji Factory, only to be each time held up by Deep Security and brought back. She’d never made it past Level 4.
Ava was different. She was a lot more mellow and spent most of her time lazing around Lvl-1. Sometimes she talked girly nonsense with Kelly, but after Sev had cleaned Kelly’s clock permanent-style, Ava never even thought about her again. She didn’t care that much. Ava didn’t care about “spooky things”, she didn’t care about guns–although she was almost as adept with them as her sister. Ava did care about Isla, that’s why she’d signed up with her for the optional augmentations. It’s also why Ava went a step further and secretly allowed the good doktors to add more to her body than Isla knew about.
The line that separates humans from un-humans might be wide, but it’s also crystal-clear. The majority of Ava’s body was artificial, but her human spirit shone brightly for anyone who looked in her eyes. As Sev was doing right now.
Ava blushed and looked away, but Sev kept staring.
“Sev, what is it?” asked Vaxit.
“How did you do all this?” he asked Ava.
She didn’t respond, she just looked away and smiled.
“I was watching her over the security camera,” her sister replied, motioning at the device in the corner. “Want me to tell you what happened?”
In total, Ava had killed four humans, three un-men(one female), and one demon. Though fairly obscured by the cloud of dust and debris in the air, Isla had seen her sister, after charging through the doors and obliterating Joe, immediately snap a she-goblin’s neck and tear her head off entirely. The room was in total confusion. No-one knew what was going on, and if they did, they just would have died even more terrified. But Ava’s vision was augmented and she could see quite well even in the worst conditions. She chucked the goblin head at the Lvl-1 Emojigineer Lead, and breaking his nose. She followed up by leaping at him and breaking his arm. As he screamed in pain, she reclaimed the goblin head from the floor and slammed it into his face. When he fell, she leaped on top of him and quickly bludgeoned him to death with it. Goblin skulls are harder than stone. The “people” began to realize they had to escape the room, but before the first man could reach the doorway, she’d torn his arm off and shattered the skull of the woman he’d been leading to safety. These were her last human kills in the room, and incidentally, the last humans she’d ever kill.
The two remaining un-men not fleeing should not be confused with any form of bravery. Un-men are devoid of virtue. They were not unafraid of Ava, but they hated her terribly. They stayed in the room only for the exact same desire for killing her that they’d had since they day they first saw her. The un-men knew the sisters were not like them, not broken like them. The sisters were higher creatures than them, and it made them want to tear their thin wispy hair out in anger.
They could not see like she could, but they could smell her, and they knew her scent well. Their very professions required endless, 24/7 thinking and agonizing over things and people which had absolutely nothing to do with them personally, in order to create that most precious thing of all to Emoji: feelings. They did not enjoy this, they did not want this, but it was the job of these two creatures– mid-level Emojineers. And so memorizing the unique scent of a girl who worked in the same building as them came as naturally as breathing. They screamed as they rushed her.
Ava ducked under them and the two idiots crashed into each other. She took the opportunity to pull out her knife and slice one’s throat while she tripped the other.
She knew there was one creature remaining in the room, in the corner watching her carefully, but she paid it no mind as she stabbed the un-man over and over and over as it cursed and screamed at her until nothing but blood could erupt from its mouth.
She stood up and turned toward the demon, for it was a demon. From Level Three, as far down as Ava had ever gone.
It could see her just as clearly as she could see it. It grinned wickedly at her, showing no fear (though this was an act) as it approached her. It did not fear death, for it was already dead. It did not fear pain, for its existence was suffering. It did not fear Ava because she was unnaturally strong. It didn’t know why it feared Ava at all, though it might have figured it out if it bothered to think about it. It feared Ava because she reminded it of its own, eternal loss. And it didn’t know it, but it loved her because she was an extension of that One Thing that it, and everyone needed. What it’d lost and believed it could never get back. Now it just wanted her to make him disappear, completely and forever. But she couldn’t do that.
When it reached her, it offered her a large, folded piece of paper, which she slapped away a little too carelessly for her own good.
“EEP!” she cried, receiving her papercut in one of the worst possible locations.
The demon howled–no one would ever suspect it was crying with concern and love–but it swung its fist at her nonetheless for its will was not its own. She ducked under it and leapt at its neck. She tried to stab it, but it grasped her wrist, and then the other when she tried to throw a punch. It lifted her up. For a second they looked into each other’s eyes. Its black, her’s almost white. It wished it could stare into her eyes for eternity, but she wrapped her long, powerful legs around its back and pulled herself closer. She bit hard into its neck with her sharp teeth, and it collapsed.
And that was how Ava cleared out the employee lounge.
While Isla was telling the story, Sev looked at Ava with more and more fascination.
When I left him alone, I hadn’t left him any sexuality. I rightly believed it’d just distract him from his mission, but there it was springing into existence from his very soul. I looked on in annnoyance because I knew this would cause problems down the line, but there wasn’t a lot I could do. I couldn’t return to Sev’s body, this “problem” would just pass on to me instead. From where I was observing, wherever it was, I could think and see perfectly clearly. Even if I returned to that body–and even now I don’t know if that was possible–I’d more than likely just fall for one of the sisters myself. Probably Isla is more my type, but it wouldn’t matter. I couldn’t get the job done any better than Sev could. I’d just have to trust him to not let this new, painfully obvious infatuation blind him.
Painfully obvious it was. Sev was openly staring at Ava, and Vaxit had to wave his hand across his face to snap him out of it. Sev apologized and turned to Isla.
“What did you mean that they all deserved to die?”
“Not just them. Everyone in and under this building. Even Ava and I.”
Isla looked down at her half-finished cinnamon roll. “Don’t you understand what this place is?” she asked.
Sev shook his head. “Not really, I uh…”
He hadn’t thought about it. “I just know I’m supposed to destroy it.”
“And not necessarily everyone inside of it,” added Vaxit.
Ava’s eyes lit up. “Yeah! Isla, we can–”
Isla glared at her. “No we can’t. We’re just as bad as the rest of them.” She blinked and then there were tears in her eyes. “We should have never come here… I- I’m so sorry…”
Ava took her hands in hers and shook her head. “NO,” she said firmly. “It’s not all bad. Plenty of Lvl-1’s have left before!”
Sev kept quiet as the sisters went back and forth and though he didn’t fully understand the situation, he was beginning to understand just how terrible of a place they were in. The pristine, perfectly-clean offices and hallways masked something truly sinister about the place. It was unfair, but I hadn’t left him much knowledge at all. I thought I needed it for myself. It turned out I was utterly wrong, since there was almost nothing I could do but watch anyway. But that’s life, I guess. It all worked out in the End. Mostly.
Something caught Vaxit’s ear and he excused himself from the table to look out of the room into the hall. Bearing down on them were about half a dozen security officers armed with stun-batons. He motioned over to Isla.
“Friends of yours?”
“I don’t recognize them,” she answered “They might be Deep Security. But I can’t believe they’d come up here.”
Ava started to get up, but Isla waved her back down as she raised her P90. The officers stopped moving and looked at each other.
“They stopped,” Vaxit said.
As if out of spite, the officers made up their mind and began coming toward them again. Isla took aim.
“Wait, wait, wait,” said Vaxit. “Let me.”
Vaxit flipped Ron Colt out of his holster and began doing his Revolver Ocelot gun-spinning impression. The bravado of the guards evaporated in an instant, and they turned and fled as Vaxit fired his six shots at them.
BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM
“Ahh damn it,” Vaxit muttered. There was a seventh officer, still booking it.
“Told you to take the Glock,” said Sev, and he aimed his rifle.
“Wait, let’s take him alive,” said Isla.
“Aight,” Sev replied, and he sniped the man’s leg. Then he turned back to sit down with Ava as Isla and Vaxit went to retrieve their new prisoner.
Ava smiled at him and pushed her chair up closer.
“Where’d you come from?” she asked.
“I uh, I don’t really know.”
“You don’t know?”
“No… well, not really. I kind of just ‘woke up’ here. I guess you could say it’s Amnesia.”
“I think Isla played that game,” Ava said, lying her head down and closing her eyes. She was more than a little tired after destroying eight bodies.
“Ah…” he replied, confused.
Of course Sev didn’t know about Amnesia: The Dark Descent, one of the most popular horror games ever made. Yes, Ava’s sister had indeed played it. So have I. It was a good game. Good puzzles. The tinderboxes–I’m sorry, it’s not that important really.
“What do you think this place is?” Ava suddenly asked, her head still down.
“The Emoji Factory?” replied Sev.
A word flashed through Sev’s mind, and he hesitated before speaking it. “Hell?”
Ava smiled. “A lot of the time I think that too.”
Before Sev could ask any questions, of course, Vaxit and Isla dragged the poor goon in.
“Please don’t kill me,” he cried. “The Boss told me I was in line for a promotion! I can’t die before I get promoted!!”
Neither Sev, nor Vaxit, nor Ava, nor Isla had ever been so tempted to kill someone. But they all knew he’d have information for them.
“Of course we won’t kill you,” lied Isla. “We’d never get in the way of something as important as a promotion.”
The look of joy on the wagie’s face could break your heart like those commericials for adopting abandoned dogs.
“Oh thank you, thank you!” he wept, tears and mucus streaming down his face.
“But you have to tell us some things,” said Vaxit.
“First, who’s your boss?”
A look of sheer terror appeared on the goon’s face.
“You can’t tell us?”
He started crying hard. Like… I don’t know, a man who just came home to find his entire family dead. That’s how hard this guy was crying with concern over his own safety.
“You don’t have to be afraid of anything for telling us. We’ll protect you.”
“B-bu-b-buu-bu–” he kept crying, unable to form words.
“‘But my promotion,'” Ava guessed. She lifted her head up, annoyed. “Let’s just kill him.”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” the sec-boi screamed.
“You said you’d tell us anything,” Vaxit said.
“Anything ELSE!!” he cried.
“FINE,” said Isla. “You must have been ordered to take us alive. Where were you going to take us?”
The securitygoon hestitated as he thought about how this might affect his promotion.
“I– What if I took you there! That way we both win!” he offered, pleased with himself for coming up with such a BRILLIANT solution.
“I’m not going with him anywhere,” said Ava. “I don’t like him. Let me kill him.” Ava stood up.
The officer screamed in fear. “WAAAAAAAAAAAIT!!”
Isla took her sister to the side.
“As long as he doesn’t lead us any deeper than Level 4, we’ll be fine. All the guards before then are punks.”
“I’ve never been that far.”
“I have, we can handle it.”
Ava glared at the officer, then looked at Sev.
“What do you want to do?” she asked.
“I only know I have to go deeper. Vaxit, what do you think?”
“I think Ava’s right and we should kill him,” said Vaxit honestly. The merc yelped and Vaxit continued. “I already know how to get around, for the most part. It might be easier with him to guide us, but he’s guaranteed to betray us. It’s not like we’re short on time or anything.”
“YOU ARE SHORT ON TIME!!” the securitylad screamed. “SOMETHING’S GONNA HAPPEN SOON, AND YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO MOVE AROUND THE FACTORY.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” asked Sev.
“A shutdown?” asked Isla.
“We’d be screwed. Everyone would be trapped on whatever level they’re on. And here we are still on level 1,” Vaxit said.
“Well I’d rather be stuck up here than any lower,” muttered Isla.
“There’s no way to move between levels during a shutdown?” asked Sev.
“There’s all kinds of ways. I just don’t know any of them,” said Vaxit.
That surprised Isla. “How do you know that?”
“I helped draw up their plans. But their very design confounds the senses–even the people who built those passages don’t understand how they work. It’s not even possible to find them without a map.”
Ava perked up and started looking around on the ground.
“Hmm, what is it?”
She found the folded up paper on the ground that had given her grievous injury. “That demon over there tried handing me this,” she nodded toward the neckless beast lying in the corner of the room.
When the securitywimp looked over at the dead demon, he started screaming. And he wouldn’t stop. He just kept going and going and going and going. Isla took some socks off one of the corpses and stuffed it in his mouth. Sev wrapped it up with the duct tape he took from the security office.
“Maybe we should just kill him,” he muttered.
“Ava, what’s on the paper?”
She unfolded it. “It’s a MAP,” she announced, spreading it out on the table. They all gathered ’round. Even the muffled crybaby merc.
“Any of this look familiar?” Sev asked Vaxit.
“Yeah, all of it. Of course, I’ve never been deeper than Level 3.”
“Level 3? I thought you were supposed to be my guide!”
“Even Isla’s been to Level 4,” Ava said.
“Are you sure?” asked Vaxit. “Take a closer look.”
Isla examined the map again and her eyes went wide with shock.
“Sub-levels?” she asked, mouth agape.
“That’s right,” said Vaxit. “Human employees aren’t supposed to know how deep Emoji goes. You’ve never gone past the sub-levels of Level 1. No human ever has.”
Isla didn’t know what to say.
“The last sub-level here is 8, and then it goes to Level 2,” Sev pointed out.
“And that’s just for the map. 1’s sub-levels are actually endless. We can’t just keep walking down without knowing where we’re going. But now we know where we’re going.”
The officer mumbled something and Sev asked him to speak up. Sock still in his mouth, he mumbled again more loudly and Sev unsocked him.
“You’re all going to die,” he said, feigning confidence. “You’ll never make it to Level-2 without someone like me guiding you! Deep Sec will take you down for sure!”
Isla was familiar with Deep Security, but Ava wasn’t. The roughest of the rough. They’d been given augmentations, mutations, and preparations to overcome any limitations. PURE optimization. They started appearing around Level (rather, sub-level) 3 and wouldn’t let you go any deeper than 4. Isla wasn’t sure they could be beaten. They weren’t typical security goons.
“We’ll have to take our chances,” said Sev, grabbing his stuff and heading toward the door.
“Can I kill him now?” asked Ava.
Sev and Vaxit both said “Yes” at once, but Isla took her sister’s shoulder.
“How are we supposed to get out of here if you’re acting like that?” she said to her quietly.
Officer Failure overheard and started laughing at them. “HA- haaaaa haa haaaaa, you don’t really think you can leave here do you?” he asked. The sisters glared at him.
“I left,” replied Vaxit. “And I was working lower than they were.”
The securitygoon just kept laughing. “Don’t you have any idea what they–” but he was stopped short by Isla dumping her submachine gun mag into his stupid body.
“That takes care of that.”
Unfortunately for them all, it did not. So angry was the secmercguy about dying before being promoted that his small dark soul remained behind glaring at them. Isla started beating the tar out of it, but Ava and Sev pulled her off of it.
“SEE, YOU’LL BE JUST LIKE ME!” it sputtered. “You’ll NEVER leave this place!”
Isla screamed and tore herself from Ava and Sev’s arms. She pounced on the ghost and battered it to Hell. Literally I guess. It indeed disappeared after receiving enough blows, leaving Isla hammering the tiled floor.
Ava wrapped her arms around her sister’s back, and Sev took Vaxit outside.
“Something’s wrong with them,” he said.
“So what should we do, leave without them? Why are they helping us?”
“What do you think I am Sev, the Answer Man?” Vaxit answered. “I think we can trust them, though. Don’t you?”
“I guess, I just don’t know…”
“Know what?” Vaxit chuckled. “Sev, you don’t know anything. You don’t even know where we are right now.”
“Don’t say ‘The Emoji Factory.'”
“So what then?”
“We’re on the Moon, Sev.”
Sev walked back into the lounge, sat down, and put his head on the table. He needed a nap.