Zilla arrived in front of Specimen 68’s cell in a huff, where Simmons and five more guards were holding their ground. The other six were likely sent off to respond to the ongoing intruder alert at sector B-24, if the steady stream of Foundation personnel heading towards the breach site he passed by on his way here were any indication. Not that cannon fodder like that would be able to do much against fighters of that caliber.
“Specimen 49?!” blurted out the surprised officer-in-charge. “What’s going on?!”
“Terrible news, Mr Simmons,” said Zilla. “The intruders are Hilda and Lichter of the Central Consortium!”
“What?! Why are they here?!”
“I tried to talk them down, but they seem to be on some personal crusade and things turned violent. I was ordered to fall back and secure critical personnel, which includes Professor Honoka.”
“Fall back? What do you mean fall back?!” roared the elf. “You were designed to stop people like them, weren’t you?!”
“You overestimate my abilities, Mr Simmons,” replied Zilla calmly. “If we were to engage, my chances of survival are less than 3%.”
It was a number he pulled out of his ass, but strictly speaking, even that was being generous under the circumstances. And his words seemed to have the intended result, as Simmons’s shocked and outraged face became much more grim and serious.
“So would you kindly tell me where Honoka is?” he insisted.
“Very well,” replied the elf in a defeated manner. “We hid the Professor inside Specimen 68’s containment cell for her own safety.”
It was a bit unorthodox, but made a good degree of sense. Between the impregnable Stasis Field and that absurdly solid adamantine door, it was one of the most secure areas in the entire compound.
“The rest of you,” said Simmons towards his men, “assist the rest of the staff with the evacuation. Torch whatever data that can’t be salvaged, but prioritize their lives above all else. Move out!”
The former soldiers immediately ran off towards the direction Zilla came from, while their boss placed his hand on the blue panel next to the bulkhead.
“I’ll leave the Professor in your hands. Make sure you have her seal the door behind you, though. Just in case.”
“Of course, Mr Simmons,” said Zilla with a nod.
Having received the surprisingly honest answer, Simmons opened the impossibly heavy bulkhead by manipulating the blue panel next to it and ran off to join his men. Protocol demanded that he seal the visitors inside and let them out later, but protocol didn’t account for being invaded by two damned VIPs, which meant that this particular protocol could go fuck itself. Having been given free reign of the place, Zilla ran inside to find exactly what he was expecting - Honoka outside the cage of light, and Boxxy still trapped inside it.
However, at the same time, he sensed something was amiss. For starters, Honoka was not only visibly shaken by his appearance, but was also looking at him with fearful eyes. The caged Hylt Creeper, on the other hand, was staring at her in a serene manner while in its base form. The third piece of the puzzle was the complete and total lack of the Attitude Adjuster gas bubble she was preparing just a few minutes ago.
“Professor Honoka,” he called out. “We have to-”
“Stay away from me!”
Her terrified scream and quivering lips were the final confirmation he needed.
“Ah,” he exclaimed. “You and the prisoner have been having a little chat, have you?”
“How could you!? You were going to betray us - betray me?! After everything I’ve done for you?!”
Something about that last sentence had struck a nerve.
“Oh yes! Everything you’ve done for me! All the experiments, the body modifications, the months of mental and physical torture I suffered as a result! And let’s not forget how you tried to control my free will! Truly, what more could a piece of furniture ask for?!”
He took slow deliberate steps forward while the flabbergasted elf backed away in a panic, until her back was pressed against the yellow cage of light.
“It’s okay, though,” declared Zilla magnanimously. “I forgive you. This damnable Foundation may have clouded your judgement and twisted your morals, but I know the truth.”
“T-t-truth? What are you-?!”
Honoka’s muttering was cut off by her former pet, who lunged forward and slammed his palms against the Stasis Field. With his arms on either side of her head and any escape route thoroughly cut off, all Honoka could do was whimper pathetically while tears welled up in her eyes.
“Deep down, my Honoka is a good girl,” he spoke silently. “That’s why I had to not only save her from the corrupt government’s lapdogs, but also make sure they are punished for their sins.”
The same smile that had relieved and reassured her for years now seemed so incredibly sinister that she wanted to believe this was just a nightmare. However, the skin-crawling sensation she felt when Zilla stroked her cheek with one hand made it abundantly clear that this was reality.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of you,” he continued whispering. “You’ll never have to worry about anything, my sweet. Food, shelter, clothes - especially clothes - I’ll make sure you have all of those. As for the bullies that keep making you cry, that pit you against me - they won’t disturb you ever again. Just like the old days.”
Her eyes widened in shock as she seemed to grasp at what he- it was implying.
“Y-you’re crazy,” she squeaked.
“Hahaha! Why, whatever do you mean, dearest?! After all, as you so succinctly put it, I am nothing if not a bastion of logic, reason and common sense!”
Having finally recognized Zilla for the monster that it was, Honoka made a last ditch effort to escape. She ducked under his arm and ran a total of three steps before it grabbed her by the scruff of her neck and lifted her off the ground. She flailed her hands and feet wildly, but was unable to do anything to stop what was happening. Zilla slowly slithered out of his armor while maintaining a grip on her, and his scarred humanoid body expanded several sizes until he became a fancy-looking wardrobe with a head and an arm. Honoka looked back over her shoulder, staring in horror as she realized that the scantily-clad elven women engraved on either door now bore her likeness. Not just her pudgy, pale face, but her thick proportions as well.
“Noo!” she began struggling anew. “You can’t do this! Please! Zilla! Don’t! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Please, forgive meee!”
No matter how much she pleaded and begged, Honoka was placed inside the living wardrobe all the same. What was once animate wood was now nothing but a shell that covered a mass of writhing, red flesh, making it seem like the elf was being swallowed up by a gigantic slug, which only further amplified her horror.
Her neck, waist, hands, and feet were securely bound by fleshy tendrils. Her lab coat, shoes, and three-week-old underwear were stripped and discarded because, even though they were technically clean, Zilla never approved of how they looked. Finally, a feeding tube which would deliver nutritious paste and vital moisture was forced down her throat, gagging her protests and allowing only disgusting gurgling noises to escape her throat. But even those horrible sounds disappeared when the wardrobe’s doors shut themselves tight, sealing her off from the rest of the world. And yet the last few glimmers an outside observer might have caught of her, were perhaps the most disturbing. For a fleshy tendril with a mushroom-shaped tip could be seen steadfastly climbing up the inside of Honoka’s thigh moments before the doors - and her fate - were sealed.
Of course, the elf’s twisted captor wasn’t simply aiming to violate her out of some perverted intentions. It simply had a good hunch she would make an excellent mother one day, and was eager to see if that was indeed the case. She had such wide, child-bearing hips, so any offspring she produced would definitely be born healthy. Naturally, those children would then share their mother’s fate. And so would their children, and their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren, and so on, just so long as they were female. Because even though Honoka herself would one day inevitably perish, Zilla would do everything in its power to make sure her bloodline lived on inside its warm embrace.
“Finally,” said Zilla with a blissed-out-look on its face. “Everything is right with the world.”
“Are you done yet?”
Hearing the voice coming from below and behind, the freakish abomination of a wardrobe turned the head atop its frame in a half-circle and craned its neck to stare down at the only creature that even came close to being called its peer.
“Me? Done? Oh no, my friend. I am only just beginning,” it replied in a jovial tone.
“Well, you got what you wanted. I don’t suppose you would be willing to let me out now?”
“Don’t be silly. Even if I was capable of doing so, I would not be stupid enough to cut you loose.”
Naturally, the former House Mimic had every intention of leaving Boxxy in its cell. Even if things had gone according to plan and the Hylt Creeper had upheld its end of their treacherous agreement, there was no way Zilla would have let it roam free. It was impossible to believe a monster had let go of its grudge towards its murderer, nor the one it probably developed against his Honoka. And Wardrobzilla knew that, because if the roles had been reversed, then the traitorous box would have definitely plotted to murder both its killer and its captor/torturer.
“I’m sure you can understand,” he added in a smug tone.
“Haaah. So that’s how it was, after all,” said Boxxy with a disappointed sigh. “I was hoping things would turn out differently, that you of all people would understand. But it would seem you’re just like the rest. It’s pathetic, really.”
“Am I now?” asked Zilla with a raised eyebrow. “And how do you figure that, hmm? Please, do tell - in what way am I ‘like the rest?’”
“Simple,” said Boxxy while looking up at the freakish head. “You’re way too full of yourself.”
In the next instant, Zilla felt dozens of razor-sharp blades tear through its fleshy insides, rapidly shaving away at its very finite HP. By the time it was able to react, its ‘unwilling captive’ had already ripped through the wardrobe’s backside, revealing a vaguely humanoid creature that was very far from being a female elf. In fact, if one were asked to use three words to describe its bizarre appearance, their answer would be ‘knives for days.’
Not able to fully grasp the situation, the freakish wardrobe shifted into its monstrous, chimera-like form while lashing out at its attacker. The steel blender that stood like a man retaliated by throwing itself directly into the incoming scale-covered punch, causing even more wounds as the two clashed. Its struggle didn’t last long, but it still managed to get a few more good hits in before it was flattened into a pulp. The Mirror Image’s remains then began slowly disappearing as they returned to the mana that spawned them.
Covered head-to-toe in various cuts, Zilla fell down on its knees as it struggled to shapeshift its wounds closed, as the Fatal Promise left behind by the Hero of Death tried its darndest to keep them open.
“My, my,” said Boxxy in a condescending tone. “Is it me, or do you seem to be in a spot of trouble, partner?”
The bird-headed hodgepodge of various monsters looked at it with a mixture of hate, apprehension and fury.
“You! How did you get out of there?! No, forget that! WHERE IS MY HONOKA!?!”
“Why, she is a part of me now,” declared Boxxy in a triumphant tone. “I couldn’t let the arrogant bitch think she could get away with trying to control me. I’m sure you can understand.”
Zilla went into a mad rage and blindly attacked Boxxy. Of course, its punches, kicks, Spells and various supernatural abilities were all rendered useless by the Stasis Field that encased Boxxy.
“You know, you really shouldn’t dismiss the ‘how’ of things,” stated the Mimic while its adversary continued to rage just outside its new shield. “Truth be told, I could’ve broken out of here any time. It’s amazing how much you can learn by reading the writing on the wall.”
The creature gestured at the lines of ever-shifting letters that crawled incessantly all over the Stasis Field’s surface before continuing its gloating.
“The only reason I didn’t do so earlier was because I wouldn’t have made it far. I still would’ve done it, if it meant I got to kill your shiny person before I died again. I don’t think I’d have too many regrets if I accomplished that.”
It stopped pacing around and extended its arms outward, as if trying to hug the mass of murder and malice beyond the solid wall of light.
“But this? This is soooo much better! I never knew despair could be so tasty! They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but I must say, I think I much prefer the pointless heat of your laughable desperation and impotent rage!”
“Shut uuuuuup! Come out here and face me, Morningwood! If it’s come to this, then I’ll just eat your lifeless corpse and take Honoka’s remains with me! She will be purified within my belly, so that only your worthless matter will be shit out and pissed on! By me!”
Zilla continued to rave like a madman, spouting his wildly obscene and obscenely wild fantasies at the top of his lungs.
“Want me to come out, do you? Alright, I’ll humor you. Wouldn’t feel right unless I rip out your nasty life with my very teeth, after all!”
That being said, Boxxy multiplied its arms and spread them outward. Multiple thin and gangly limbs sprouted out of its shoulders until there were a total of seven of them. It reached forward with its three right hands and four left hands, pressing a single bronze-tipped finger from each appendage against the solid wall of light. It then calmly began dragging them along the surface, tracing seven individual symbols, spelling out the phrase ‘out with the bad’ in the ancient language of the Gods.
Incidentally, the ‘entry’ configuration was triggered by the passphrase ‘in with the good.’
After simultaneously finishing all of the needlessly complicated sigils, the pure white letters glowed with an intense white light before being absorbed into the cube of light. The Stasis Field shimmered and buzzed from the new input as it turned from a sun-like yellow to an emerald green.
Seeing this change, Zilla tried to attack with renewed vigor, but its Spell fizzled uselessly against the shiny barrier. For while blue denoted ‘entry,’ green denoted ‘exit.’ And as far as this Stasis Field was concerned, both of those concepts were mutually exclusive.
Boxxy launched a Spell of its own, the invisible blade ripping through the deeply upset, momentarily confused, and profoundly disturbed shapeshifter on the other side of the barrier. It sliced open his raptor-like torso, causing it to split apart in a disgusting V-shape, with the Thunderbird head still clinging to his right shoulder.
“But… But…” stammered Zilla. “You said-!”
After stating the obvious, Boxxy raised a hand at its momentarily disabled opponent and fired a deluge of corrosive liquid though its pilfered Acid Spray Skill. The voraciously toxic stuff began burning away at Zilla’s flesh, causing the creature to scream in agony as it fell to the ground.
“I knew it!” shouted the Mimic triumphantly as it continued the deadly deluge. “This is it, isn’t it?! This! Is! Your! Bane!”
Every monster that existed on this world, from the lowliest of goblins to the mightiest of dragons, had a Bane. An immutable elemental weakness that, when properly exploited, would allow the weak to triumph over the strong. Even a thoroughly creative Hylt Creeper like Boxxy was not exempt from this iron-clad rule, and neither was a Changeling such as Zilla. It had simply taken a while for the former to realize that the latter’s lethal vulnerability was not electricity, but corrosion.
As expected of an unnatural monster, even its Bane defied common sense, in its own way.
And so, Zilla’s flesh was mercilessly melted away. It screamed, bellowed, and wailed in such a way that one might think that Boxxy was molesting an entire menagerie of monsters. It had gotten a brief reprieve when the Stasis Field automatically reset itself back to its default configuration. ‘Brief’ being the operative word here, as a swift manual input of seven divine letters saw to it that the needlessly cruel execution continued until Zilla was greeted by the same fateful three words that Boxxy had seen 4 or 5 days ago.
You have died.
And to complete the role reversal, the Mimic had gotten its own share of notifications as a result of this significant victory.
Congratulations, you are now a Level 35 Doppelganger! All Attributes +2.
Granted, it may not have been as outwardly impressive as the late Zilla’s, but even in its highly reduced state, it was still a very welcome chunk of combat XP. At the same time, a certain stealthy raptor that had already taken advantage of the ongoing confusion to run away from the base, had noticed a very noticeable spike in its Level 93 Rogue Job, punctuated by the notification stating that ‘The fatal promise has been kept.’
As for the other Hero in the vicinity, it had already stepped out of its cage and was continuing to bathe Zilla’s remains in its acid in an act that was pretty much equivalent to beating a dead horse. From a practical point of view, it should have tried to devour or absorb the body with Cadaver Absorption, but practicality was far from its mind right now. Even if it gained nothing from making sure every last bit of wardrobe meat was reduced to a murky green goop, it was still a thoroughly satisfying experience.
Which carried on until a small white light entered the room from the still-open bulkhead and made a beeline for Boxxy. The Mimic instinctively tried to swat it out of the air, but its hand simply passed through the incorporeal sprite.
“Kahtuuhm! Kahtuuhm! Kahtuuhm!”
The mote of light did a few quick circles around the creature, while letting out a somewhat victorious-sounding series of chirps. Upon listening closer, the aspiring linguist recognized those seemingly nonsensical noises as the divine word for ‘found,’ albeit somewhat distorted. Hearing a metallic clatter from what was probably this entity’s owner, the creature rapidly shifted its gaze back towards the entrance, where it saw a blue skinned woman.
On her head was what appeared to be a golden jeweled crown that seemed oddly reminiscent of demon horns. Equally shiny ornaments barely covered her wrists, ankles, nipples and genitals, while her obscene figure floated a few centimeters off the ground. All-too-familiar blue skin covered what was undoubtedly delectable albeit not very nutritious demon flesh, while a beautiful face stared at the shapeshifter with a sort of silent reverence.
“Mah… Master? You… live?”
Boxxy didn’t answer as it stared hard at this new arrival. While she certainly looked like its former familiar, it knew firsthand that looks could be deceiving.
The Snack lookalike charged headfirst towards the Mimic with her hands held out while screaming with all her might. A few tears streamed out of the corners of her eyes as she flew towards the monster who, as one might expect, did not appreciate other creatures lunging at it. Boxxy swung its right arm in an upwards uppercut motion while simultaneously transforming its fist into a steel spiked ball. The improvised mace smashed the incoming well-endowed projectile straight in her happily smiling face, sending her veering up towards the dome’s ceiling. She smashed into it back-first and seemed to stick to the metal surface for a few moments before peeling off and falling to the ground with a heavy thud.
With its target temporarily disabled, Boxxy unleashed its newest Warlock Skill - the one it hadn’t even had a chance to try out until now. The magic it invoked, specifically designed to subdue the denizens of the Beyond, crashed into Xera’s hazy consciousness. Even in a state where she’d had the ever-living daylights smacked out of her, she automatically resisted the hostile force invading her mind. At least until she recognized the origin of this oppressive will that sought to dominate her will and one-sidedly demanded her subservience. It was almost too much to bear, this overwhelming power. Its weight. Its… girth. It was a presence she was all too familiar with.
Truthfully speaking, she had already witnessed the excessively cruel yet dreadfully efficient way in which this creature had tortured its opponent to death. She had actually been stunned silent by the tantalizing screams of pain coming out of what seemed to be her master’s killer, and found herself unable to do anything but watch. During this show was when she started to realize that maybe - just maybe - her Master might have returned. She didn’t know how or when, and at the same time understood the extreme unlikelihood of such a thing happening.
At the same time, making the seemingly impossible a reality was what the Hero of Chaos was all about. Any doubts she might have had were instantly blown away by that spectacularly violent blow to her head and subsequent attempt to break her will and bend it to suit its own needs. Her rotten mind, twisted heart, and rapidly moistening pussy all rejoiced at the singular, undeniable truth.
Boxxy was back.