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Night 52: East Wing, Hall A
itneverwas wrote in damned
[From here]

It was before long Xemnas reached the final corridor he required to pass through in order to reach his destination. Though he was only three doors away from his goal, it hardly meant that the Nobody would already delusion himself with the fact that he had accomplished all this easily. Furthermore, he couldn't tell with certainty whether the Janitor's Closet would hold the supplies he required.

The Superior paused at the third door, discovering it to be locked. A rather weak and useless lock, however; a lock that would easily break under the pressure of force. It was only but a small hindrance that would be easy to take care of. Were they present, it might have been amusing to his subordinates that their leader would have to resort to breaking open a door by physical force, but Xemnas hardly considered such a fact relevant. The lock gave in easily, the door sweeping open and allowing him entrance to the room that lay beyond.

He had doubtlessly caused a significant amount of noise by breaking open this door, alerting potential threats lying in wait within the darkness of his presence. The Nobody didn't waste time going through the newly acquired entrance and close the door behind him.

[To here]

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[From here.]

"As for the Lion," the Scarecrow continued as they passed into the next hallway, "he wanted to be king of the forest, but hadn't the courage to stand up to even a mouse. As badly as I wanted a brain, I wanted to see my friends get what they wanted more, especially once the Wicked Witch of the West set to threatening Dorothy if she didn't hand over the Ruby Slippers. She even tried to set me on fire a couple of times! Wouldn't you do just about anything for a friend in need, even if it meant facing what you fear most of all?"

A shudder ran through the Scarecrow- flesh and blood body or not, the thought of fire made him nervous. He eyed the doors in the dim hallway, looking to see which one Depth Charge chose.

Edited at 2010-11-04 08:23 am (UTC)

It all started when Dorothy's house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East.

There were so many things wrong with that first (!) sentence, Depth Charge didn't even want to try and count them.

Instead the Maximal, bewildered out of caution as they turned a blind corner into the next hall, focused on picking out the parts of the Scarecrow's explanation he could try and make sense of in his own way. So this girl- Dorothy? The one from the box cover- crashed her... spaceship or something into some witch in the place the Scarecrow came from. Check. She got sent to some big-shot wizard (nope, still no equivalent for Pit-be-damned magic) down a yellow highway where she picked up the other guys as hitchhikers, and...

"Okay, now I'm lost." He shook his head, holding his hands up in defeat- he'd left his little white logic flag at home today. "All this giving people brains and courage... way over my head."

But an evil witch? There was something he could understand. Strike the 'witch' part and you had something you saw all across the universe- one screwed up, cold-sparked bully striking out at whoever got in their way. Looked like even if you came from some kind of magical alternate reality you still ran into psychopaths like that, and that thought was enough to wipe away any of the cutesy appeal of what the Scarecrow had been describing.

But that question? That was just the icing on the cake. How was he supposed to answer it? After everything he'd done-- slag it, he'd had his 'friend in a moment of need' trial, and he'd- he'd screwed it up big time. He'd let his emotions carry off his sense and his duty (but hadn't his duty been to X? but wasn't he a Maximal? but wasn't he given an order?). How could he look the Scarecrow in the eye and just agree like he had any right to say anything? Depth Charge looked away, breaking eye contact with the Scarecrow for the first time and dropping his eyes to the floor with what he realised with a thud was a pang of shame. "I..."

The intercom interrupted him. Jill was speaking, barely audible through the pain and breath, and when the words came out they were too late anyway- slag, who needed Landel to remind him what a worthless 'hero' he was when he was perfectly capable of reminding himself?

But it was only when her voice died out into static that he realised just how literal she was being. That twitching in the corner of his eye wasn't just a twitch anymore. When he turned his head (slowly, carefully, as if too sharp a movement could kill) his shadow was outright warping and convulsing as though someone had wired it into an electrical current. Depth Charge stared. "What the...?"

Now there was a look the Scarecrow didn't like to see, and an unfamiliar one to be gracing Depth Charge's face. Thoughts ran through his mind: was it the story? Or the question that followed? Something had given the other man pause, unintentionally dredging up some unwanted feelings. The Scarecrow felt badly for his friend- his expression was telling enough, but he couldn't help himself for wanting to know more. Was there anything he could do to help? Within reason, anyway- there was unfortunately only so much one could--

His thoughts and Depth Charge's reply were cut off by the intercom. A voice- Jill, right?- was heard, but just barely. She sounded like she was in no less trouble than she had been earlier. There was a question (yes, another) on the tip of his tongue, but stifled it as he noticed Depth Charge watching something, following it as it moved. The Scarecrow looked for himself, following his roommate's eyes- there didn't seem to be anything there.

Deciding his lack of brains was probably the problem, the Scarecrow decided it'd be best just to ask after all. "What is it, Depth Charge?"

Depth Charge's eyes darted to the Scarecrow instantly, but only for a moment before they whirled straight back to the dark shape of his shadow bleeding across the floor and walls. Keeping his optics pinned on his surroundings had been instinctual before, but now he knew he couldn't risk letting his shadow out of his sight.

"What? You don't see it?" He almost snapped the words, tense as a coiled spring, but his frustration wasn't aimed at the other man. When he moved a hand it jerked after him vaguely, when he swayed the amorphous spasms seemed to lean towards the right direction, and the more he stared the more obvious it seemed to become to him. It was right in front of them! How could the Scarecrow miss it? More importantly, what did that mean for him?

For a klik his blood ran cold- was he seriously just imagining this? After what Jill had said?- but then Depth Charge shook his head abruptly and focused. "My shadow. It's moving by itself!" he explained urgently, pointing to the wall.

Well, whatever it was Depth Charge was seeing had to be bad if it had him so riled. The Scarecrow took another look where Depth Charge was pointing, reflexively trying to click on his flashlight before remembering it still wasn't working. Even with the dim light, he could see Depth Charge's shadow, and that it... didn't seem to be doing anything.

This was puzzling. There was a part of the Scarecrow that wanted to believe his roommate- after all, he'd been right before, and didn't seem like the type to just imagine something like a shadow moving on its own; however, there was enough light that the strawman could see the shadow in question, and it didn't seem to be moving at all. As far as he knew, shadows didn't move of their own volition. It'd certainly be a cause for alarm if it did, though.

And that brought him back to the question at hand: was Depth Charge really seeing his shadow move? Or was it just some illusion created by the Wizard Landel? And if it was, how come he couldn't see it himself?

"It looks just fine to me," he admitted, moving beside Depth Charge to see if it might look different from where he was standing. "It's got to be the light- there usually isn't any in the halls. Probably the Wizard Landel trying to play tricks on you, if I had to guess."

The truth was written all over the Scarecrow's face even before the man answered- he couldn't see it. Which was, of course, completely crazy, because how the Pit could he miss something as obvious as his roommate's shadow malfunctioning?! It wasn't even as though it was being subtle about it, even with the lights still flickering drunkenly: there was now way in the galaxy that anyone could say it wasn't moving in ways it shouldn't. And yet, surprise surprise, that was exactly what the Scarecrow had just done.

So, what? Was it real or not? Depth Charge could only shake his head looking helplessly back and forth from the shadow to the Scarecrow, willing something to make sense- and if there was one thing Depth Charge didn't like it was feeling helpless. Even speculating that he was possibly at the mercy of Landel's 'tricks', that Landel had some sort of hotwire to his processor, that was enough to trash his thermostat. He let out an exasperated noise that could almost have been a growl and slammed a hand into the wall. "It's not the light, slag it! It's right there!"

Silence. He took in a breath, slowly. Calm. He had to stay calm. If it really was right there, the Scarecrow couldn't see it. The idea might have set his gears on edge, but- but if this was a trick... he lowered the hand and rubbed at his head agitatedly instead. "If this is a trick, it's a good one. You heard Jill, sounds like she heard it too. And you know what they say- no smoke without fire. Landel wouldn't just roll out cheap FX."

There was a long moment of silence that passed between them as the Scarecrow tried to think of what to say, to use his damaged brains to come up with an explanation that didn't make things worse. No matter how hard he looked or how tightly he scrunched his eyes, the shadow stayed the same.

And the Scarecrow had to admit that when Depth Charge got angry, he certainly was intimidating. Wizard Landel may have had all the nastiest witches in the world at his disposal, but it seemed the threat that did the most damage was the one that left the roommates at odds, doubting themselves and each other.

He shook his head- that was just want Landel wanted them to think! "Well, there's no use in standing around getting ourselves worked up," the Scarecrow said with another shake of his head. "If you say it's moving by itself, I believe you."

He looked around, eyeing his own shadow (nothing strange about it, thankfully) before his eyes trailed upward. "We could maybe break these lights- after all, if there's no light, there can't be a shadow- but then that'd leave us in the darkness with whatever creatures might be wandering around. Or if the shadow doesn't seem to be doing any harm, maybe we should continue before it gets any worse. What do you think we ought to do?"

Maybe it was something about the fact that the Scarecrow had scarcely blinked at his shouting that caught up with Depth Charge a little (he'd feel guilty about that later, he was sure- but Primus! Arts and crafts with witches, hanging out with lions, braving an overreaction that would've sent Cheetor skittering away with his tail between his legs...) or maybe it was just that the guy seemed so calm about the fact that his roommate's shadow had supposedly sprung a leak he couldn't see. Whatever the case, it was enough to get him to focus.

He was the one in charge here, and he couldn't let himself lose his head, if not for his own sake then for the Scarecrow's. That right there? That had sounded like real, honest-to-Allspark trust. He had to at least try and live up to it, past experience be slagged. Another breath- then he gave a decisive nod.

"Breaking the lights is a no-go," he agreed, glancing back down the hallway instead. "Too much risk, too much wasted time. Let's just keep going." Checking behind them once- you never knew what could creep up on you while your back was turned- he made his way towards the janitor's closet door which, luckily enough, seemed to have been jimmied open already. "Coming in," he muttered to himself, pushing the door open and slipping inside.

[to here]

[Back from here].

It was so odd to be human. In his straw body, the Scarecrow would have been the one worrying for his more fragile companions- after all, a body made of old clothes and hay stuffing couldn't be hurt by hardly anything. It seemed backwards now: he was the one being looked after as though he were made of fine china (Oh, how the people of Dainty China Country must have felt all the time! And they were far more easily broken than a human. The former strawman considered himself lucky to have found himself human rather than in one of their bodies).

That feeling of being protected by someone sturdier wasn't entirely new- he had the same inkling when he was with Abe and Mele. Whether they felt sorry for him for his lack of brains or they didn't trust a man who couldn't think his way off a pole to wander the institution alone- should he ever want to- would have to wait for another time. For now, there was Depth Charge and the shadow, something he likely couldn't see or hear even if he had a working thinker in his head.

The lights in the hall flickered as the Scarecrow watched Depth Charge, waiting to see if the shadow followed them. "Is it gone?" he asked in a quiet whisper.

Depth Charge slammed the door shut behind him so hard the screws all but jumped out of the hinges, silently willing the door to hit the shadow square in the faceplate. His hands were shaking a little as he sank back against the door, rubbing his temples, but not out of fear- the adrenalin was starting to kick in now, never mind that the twenty nanokliks he'd spent tensed up like that had been far more exhausting than they should have been.

But maybe there was something to be scared of. That thing in there... that was him. And he knew exactly what he was capable of, what he knew. He looked up again, focusing on the Scarecrow- Primus, nothing fazed him, did it? And here he was locked up and rusty all because of some shadow. Hah.

The shadow's voice, slightly muffled by the closed door, chased out from the room. "You can't just shut me out. You and me both know one door isn't enough to keep me out of your head."

Depth Charge forced himself to ignore it. "No. It's still there." Husky-sounding. He swallowed and gave the Scarecrow a slight, rueful smile. "Got a feeling it's just going to come out if I step away from here. That, or it'll just fly out through the door anyway. It's broken more than enough laws of physics as it is."

Hmmm, that was a problem, wasn't it? Something as intangible as a shadow could easily slip under the door or pass through a crack in the wall- it wasn't hard when one didn't have a body, after all. And if it was as Depth Charge said and the shadow had stepped out from the wall, it was free to do as it pleased without any regard for its owner. Thankfully, his own shadow seemed to be firmly rooted to his feet.

"Well, we can't get rid of it, as far as I can tell," the Scarecrow noted, looking to the lights on the ceiling. Still not nearly make a shadow hide in any crevice it could, even with their working flashlights. His eyes trailed to Depth Charge: the look on his face was ever worrying. There had to be something they could do!

"As I see it, we don't have a lot of options." The Scarecrow turned and looked down the stretch of the corridor, his turning off his flashlight for now. "We can stay here, but I don't think that'll help. And we're near the Horrible Hallway, so there could be witches around. We could try to make a break for it- I'm quick on my feet when I need to be."

Another idea came to mind, one about as promising as the one involving them trying to outrun the shadow: "The ring! We could give it a try- it might not do us any good, but maybe the shadow can't follow us through magic."

Depth Charge's expression flashed. He rounded on the Scarecrow a little more aggressively than he needed to, horrified. "Are you serious?! That's exactly what Landel wants us to do!" He shook his head adamantly, just aware enough of how hysterical he must have sounded to his roommate to try and adjust his tone out of a snarl and into- well, anything. The result was hoarse again, but that was better than taking it out on the poor guy. "It's a trick, and I'm not falling for it!"

"Just like Megatron sending X out was a trap? Didn't stop you falling harder for that one than a metric scrap-tonne of slag."

The Maximal's eyes squeezed tightly shut. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. A few moments later he let them open again, swallowing temper down like bile and bad motor oil and barely managing to control the gag reflex that came with it. "All I'm saying is that if we're not careful we're just gonna end up in the middle of Zombie Street with Primus only knows what kind of catch getting up in our gril-"

"Stay here as long as you want, big bot. You're no match for me. Just like you were never a match for X."


"... just do it." Without meeting the Scarecrow's eyes, Depth Charge dug around in his post and held the ring out. "Break the stone. Make sure you're touching my arm or something."

Whatever the shadow could have possibly been saying to Depth Charge must have been bad- bad enough to make him change his mind about using the ring, anyway. It was true that it didn't sound like a very good idea, using a ring that been given by the Wizard Landel- found in the room of a missing friend, and they hadn't any clue what said Wizard had done with her- in the hopes of escaping his institute, only to possibly appear in the danger-filled town nearby; however, faced with the alternative of being chased by a shadow that only one of them could see, it didn't seem as bad.

When one added in the fact that the one who was doing the shadow-seeing was a man with a hot temper who looked ready to snap from the tension at any moment, the choice was easier. Then there was the point that Depth Charge was a close friend- the Scarecrow was willing to try anything to help him, no matter how dangerous it may have been.

Wordlessly, he took the ring, delicately holding it between two fingers. He only took a second to think of how he could break it- linking his arm through Depth Charge's, he held the ring to the wall and, after a moment's hesistation, smashed his flashlight against the stone.

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