A Multifandom Asylum RPG

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Night 52: Janitor's Closet
A Distant Echo
itneverwas wrote in damned
[From here]

What Xemnas encountered upon entering the small, narrow room cluttered with many items was a distinct lack of any organization. In the mess, they were bearing no sense of apparent logic in the way they were stored. The Nobody carefully squeezed through the room to get a better look at its contents, keeping an eye upon the narrow shelving unit that contained more items than it was able to bear; its contents threatened to fall out of the unit were he to move too carelessly.

The small radiance of his flash light revealed the various items one would expect to find in a janitor's closet; mainly materials for the cleaning and maintenance of this facility's interior. The Superior swept the thin beam over the cluttered area, taking note of the existence of various items before finally locating the supplies he had been seeking; several metal pipes ranging from 4 inches to 3 feet in length. The pipes were, however, hollow from the inside, which meant he would likely need quite the few of them in order to provide enough metal for the blades he had requested. Pulling out the pillowcase he had the foresight of taking with him, Xemnas stocked up on more metal pipes than he had estimated to need.

After he was finished, he allowed his gaze to wander over the room once more, estimating the use of the remaining items. It was before long he discovered the existence of a tool kit, and after a brief investigation the Nobody moved nearly all of its contents to the pillow case he carried, concluding the tools to be of likely use to him some time in the future.

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[tiiiiiiiiime skip from here]

Enclosed and shadowy even with the lights on, the janitor's closet was the perfect place to get your aft handed to you after dark. Depth Charge stayed close to the walls until he was sure the room was clear- not easy with a seriously messed up shadow distracting him at every turn, but he managed it eventually. Shuffling over so the Scarecrow could get past, he made his way to the shelves. Slag. Someone- or some people had given this place a seriously thorough going over. There were more gaps on the shelves than in Rattrap's programming.

Not to be put off by a challenge, though, he set about searching the boxes on the furthest shelf from the door for batteries- and maybe something heavy to swing while he was at it.

After a moment though he paused, still bent over the box, and glanced back again. "Hey, Scarecrow? Just wanted to say thanks. For believing me about the shadow."

Shuffling after Depth Charge, the Scarecrow couldn't help but feel a little leery about walking into a room so cluttered- there was not only the notion that he was going to trip on his own feet and make things worse, but that something had to have caused the mess in the first place, whether it was a patient or one of Landel's followers. He tucked his flashlight into his pocket and kept his limbs close to him as he moved into the tight space, looking over the boxes on the shelf while accidentally ramming his foot into one of the cans littering on the floor.

He looked over his shoulder as he brought his foot to his hands and rubbed his complaining toes. Despite the fact he'd managed to injure himself again (human frailty, of course), he couldn't help but smile. "Think nothing of it, Depth Charge," he said, picking up two of the stray boxes on the floor. "You've got more of a brain than I do, so that's got to count for somethin'. And besides that, we're friends and we ought to stick together. We're gonna have to if we want to get anywhere with the Wizard Landel. I know I'd have been a goner a lot sooner if I'd been alone all this time, being human and such."

The Scarecrow turned the boxes over in his hands, tossing them aside once they didn't seem to be of any use. After another moment of searching, his eyes landed on something familiar sitting behind a few cans. "Ah! These might do the trick." He turned to his roommate, two new flashlights in his hands. He offered one to Depth Charge, giving the other a test. A flip of the switch and- light! A sight for sore eyes!

The clatter behind him was less the silken footfall of giant killer whatevers and more the clumsiness of one not-quite-human adult, so, jumpy though he was, Depth Charge didn't exactly leap out of his plating at the sound. What did catch his attention however was what the Scarecrow had to say.

At first he didn't respond, just stopped and stared back in the dull, flickering light, frowning slightly as though the Scarecrow were speaking a language he didn't understand. In a way, he didn't- or maybe it was more like he just hadn't heard it in a while. Funny. Til now he'd figured he was just playing at official, throwing around 'bodyguard' instead like there was any real difference. All the work, none of the responsibility or something, no strings attached, no emotional dead-weight. What was the use, right? Pit, he'd handed his badge in five or six stellar cycles ago, he wasn't an official anything except for failure, maybe. But out of practise or not, that right there had sounded suspiciously like 'trust'. That other part had even sounded like 'teamwork'. In fact, the entire thing had sounded an awful lot like 'being a Maximal', even if the Scarecrow wouldn't have put it in so many words.

"Yeah, well." He turned back again quickly, still frowning a little while he worked himself out. Like he could decide whether that was good or not. The first discovery came as a relief for Depth Charge, and when he turned back to take the flashlight his expression rested a little easier in his face. "Good thing you found these," he noted with a glance back to the shelf he'd been searching, "considering the fact that some slagger before us kindly helped themselves to just about every single battery going." He almost sounded normal again. Good. Meant they were ready to move on out, once he'd found himself another blunt object to-

The intercom started and Depth Charge froze.

Against the wall, the dark of his shadow was moving again, more than ever. Pushing and writhing until, in one liquid-slippery motion, it slid clean off of the wall, sweet and smooth as oil down armored plating. Black as oil, too, and spreading like it would across the surface of water into a shape the Maximal realised he knew all too well even in black. A chestplate here, an enormous back-fin there, culminating in eyes that opened to searing, electronic red and stared down at him accusingly in the glinting, angular suggestion of a faceplate.

"Believe me," the Depth Charge said, "it's gonna take a lot more than blunt objects and batteries to keep that guy alive. 'specially with someone like you around."

There was that look again on Depth Charge's face- even in the dim light, the Scarecrow could see it. It seemed his eyes worked a whole lot better than his brains. It occurred to the former strawman that his roommate may have been used to being a loner and possibly didn't have many friends back home. Maybe all the talk of friendship made him uncomfortable. Oh, he should have thought of that sooner!

The Scarecrow wanted to think on the subject a bit more and apologize for any offense, but the intercom cut on, the Wizard Landel's voice easily heard from the hallway. Along with his announcement came more flickering from the lights and a buzzing sound- both went away when the speaker cut off.

"That didn't sound good at all," the Scarecrow noted as he pondered Landel's words. What had he meant by all that? And where was Jill? The former strawman couldn't help but wonder-

He caught sight of Depth Charge again, who was now wearing a very different but equally puzzling face. "What's the matter?"

'Didn't sound good at all' was probably the biggest understatement in the history of the universe since Optimus Prime took one look at Megatron and decided that he seemed like 'a pretty tough guy'. Saying so out loud, though, wasn't exactly high on Depth Charge's priorities- and even if it had been he probably wouldn't have been able to find the words to do so. His processor was far too busy going into overdrive to worry about that, trying to work out just what the Pit it was he was looking at and how it could talk to him.

The shadow just folded its arms and gave him an imperious look that seemed a whole lot more effective when he could see it on his own face. All the more so when it was looking down on him. "Catbot got your speech circuits, DC? Don't look so surprised. You were thinking it all along."

He'd spent so long missing his old Maxi body he'd almost forgotten how much bigger it was, and not just by way of height. Thicker, wider, fuller. Pure, automated power. Even that hadn't been enough before, though. He forced his eyes away from the shadow and back to the Scarecrow, who was talking and- and didn't seem to see anything. Still. He might have looked confused, yeah, but he was slagging sure the man would've reacted more to his roommate's shadow coming to life. Wouldn't he?

Depth Charge spun around and grabbed the Scarecrow's shoulder, pulse racing and speaking so quickly he could barely understand himself. "You've got to see it this time, it's right there. Tell me you can see it, Scarecrow. Tell me you can see it."

"He can't see me. Just like he can't see how doomed he is if he sticks with you- you're a real jinx, you know that?"

With Depth Charge's grip tight on his shoulder, the Scarecrow took another look around the room, not sure what exactly he was supposed to be seeing. Even with the flashlights, the room was dark enough that there were shadows everywhere- was he seeing his own again? He had to be, though no matter how hard the Scarecrow tried to see the shadow that had Depth Charge on edge, it just didn't seem possible. Both of their shadows looked just fine from where he was standing.

But why? Was it some sort of trick? Or was it on purpose that it affected only Depth Charge, or because of his session with the Sleep Studies? Did the clever little thing keep him from understanding somehow?

There were too many questions, none of them going to the right source. "I don't see anything strange, Depth Charge," he admitted. "But if you say there's something there, then it's there, whether I can see it or not." After all, if it riled him this much, it was real enough.

The real question was of what they could do about it- how could one get rid of a shadow? The idea of knocking out all the light hadn't been a good one. He supposed they could flood the room with light until the shadow had nowhere to hide, but with only their flashlights, that plan seemed even more implausible than the first.

"What do you see now?" he finally asked. Maybe with more information, his broken brain could come up with some way to help them.

Still nothing! Depth Charge let go of the Scarecrow abruptly, running both hands through his hair. This was crazy. It was totally crazy. "How can you not see it? Or hear it!?" He was muttering now, eyes darting from the Scarecrow to where the dark figure of himself stood expectantly, arms folded. The gesture was just genuine enough, just him enough to get to him. "My shadow's talking to me and you can't see a slagging thing!"

Slow down. Easy. If he wasn't careful he'd short-circuit himself, and then where would that leave them? More importantly, where would that leave the Scarecrow? Stuck with that thing when he couldn't even see it? The idea crawled along the back of his neck unpleasantly. Get a grip, big guy, this is no time to lose a couple of screws.

Yet again, he took in a breath. "Came out of the wall. My shadow. It's talking to me." Primus, that sounded even crazier than it had with the mad ranting. He forced himself to look up to the shadow properly, meeting its (his?) glowing red eyes. "It's standing right there."

"Just don't give up, do you?" The shadow gave a low, raspy chuckle. "Never say die and all that scrap. That's your problem, DC. Can't let that persistence of yours down- even for a life or two."

And that was where Depth Charge flinched. Visibly. For a moment he stood in shock, staring at the thing- and then the moment snapped. He flushed a deep, angry scarlet and took a step forward, fists raised. "Shut up! Shut the Pit up! Get out of my sight before I-!"

"Before you...?"

To be perfectly honest, the Scarecrow wasn't sure he wanted Depth Charge to finish that sentence. He'd had experience dealing with a lion who wouldn't budge if he imagined he saw something lurking around, and he was used to having to oil the Tin Man, who would sometimes cry at the mere thought of accidentally stepping on a small creature in the dark; however, Depth Charge was a horse of a completely different color: the shadow he described was most certainly real to him, real enough that it was driving his temper sky high. The former strawman could tell from his tone he wouldn't back down from this new trick of Landel's easily, if at all.

Think Scarecrow, think! There had to be something he could do. He thought he might simply grab Depth Charge's arm and make a break for it, but after a moment to rethink that plan, it occurred to him that even if he put all his human weight into it, he probably couldn't make his taller, sturdier roommate move an inch. The last two ideas he'd thought of hadn't been very good at all, but at the same time, he couldn't just let whatever it was Depth Charge was seeing- his shadow come to life? That sort of occurrence didn't happen in Oz, and it was bound to be foreign to Depth Charge if he was acting this way-

He cut his own thoughts short- Depth Charge was already pushed to the edge. Standing around and thinking wasn't doing anything, but he had to try something before it was too late. Whatever the Wizard Landel had planned, why Depth Charge alone could see this shadow... none of it could be good.

The Scarecrow stepped in front of his roommate. "You've got to snap out of it! A shadow can't hurt you, can it? They're not made of flesh or straw or metal or anything solid, after all."

With a hiss of fury Depth Charge swung a fist towards the shadow- and then suddenly the Scarecrow was standing in his line of fire and the fist ground to a halt inches away from the man's face. His line of focus was broken and forced away from the shadow, even if he could still see it lurking beyond his shoulder in his periphery. Slag it. Slag it. He had a point. The thing couldn't actually do anything but talk, so far as he could see- if it could it hadn't tried it yet, and that was some small comfort to the Maximal. If that thing really was anything like him, it would've reverted to blowing the room sky high thirty seconds after turning up.

"What's the matter? All talk, no walk? That kind of attitude's gonna get people offlined, you know."

Another hiss, but he didn't move. In fact, for a whole ten nanokliks he didn't do or say anything, jarred still by adrenalin while he struggled to reconcile controlling his temper with the ever-present need to piledrive the shadow's smug, black-metal face into the wall. Then, grunting with frustration, he slowly lowered the fist.

"... you're right. That thing's not worth my time." The second part was almost spat out, and his eyes darted directly onto the shadow briefly before returning to the Scarecrow rather pointedly. "Let's get out of here."

"What's the matter, huh? Scared?"

Depth Charge didn't say anything, even if the veins on his hands nearly popped clean through the stretched-white skin. Rather stiffly, he forced himself to turn to the door and open it for the Scarecrow and his teeth were clenched so hard his voice almost turned incomprehensible. "C'mon, Scarecrow. I'm not leaving you in here with that thing for a single klik."

At a loss for words as he tried to consider just what Depth Charge's fist connecting with his face would feel like (he finally settled on "not at all well"), the Scarecrow simply nodded after a moment, glad his roommate had decided to listen to him after all. Brains or not, surely no good could come from picking a fight with something that didn't even have a solid shape. Or at least he assumed a shadow coming out of the wall wouldn't have any sort of form. That was what made it so tricky to deal with in the first place.

Stumbling over the boxes and cans in the floor, he crossed the room and headed out the open door. Whether the shadow really existed or not- and he still believed it somehow did, in spite of the fact that he couldn't see it no matter how hard he tried- the Scarecrow got the distinct feeling Depth Charge wasn't going to let him out of his sight.

[To here].

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