Ruins of Madness, Part 2
rating: +2+x

Last time on Nexus:
Ruins of Madness, Part 1

Elli froze in place.

"Um, Elli, what's Site-13?" asked Dean. "Sounds like the Foundation, but it doesn't exist in this world."

But she didn't hear him at all.

"Dean, we need to get down there now, Chloe needs to be found. If we don't find her fast, then-"

She didn't speak further, but she began to run. She didn't get far, though, as she tried to drag Dean along with her, but he just stopped.

"Dean! Come on, we don't have-"

She stopped when she finally noticed Dean's gaze.

"Elli, first you calm down. You'll probably die sooner than Chloe if you don't, if this place really is as awful as it seems."

Elli opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water before it occurred to her to collect herself. It took a while before she could speak again. Her voice sounded grim.

"Take the worst war crimes you've ever heard of and then forget them, because what happened inside these walls was way worse."

"Why, what is this place?" asked Matheus, looking around suspiciously.

"This is Site-13," Elli explained. "This place was once part of another world, Matheus. It was used to collect, explore, and harness all the wonders and dangers that transcend the human mind."

"Well, that doesn't sound too terrible…" remarked Matheus.

Elli chuckled humorlessly.

"For you, not for the inmates. No matter whether object, plant, animal, man, woman or child. No matter whether unspeakably powerful or utterly defenseless. No matter whether absolutely vicious or simply benevolent. If you had a characteristic that was considered anomalous by society, you ended up here. You were tortured, subjected to life-threatening experiments, and if that wasn't enough to kill you, you were burned or locked away forever. If you were here, you were just a number on a piece of paper. Whether as an inmate or a worker. Millions met their end in this place."

She got goosebumps.

"Have you been here before, Elli?" asked Dean.

"Briefly," Elli admitted. "A few months. But I managed to break out. I don't want to know what happened to my guards after that."

She shook herself at the memory.

"If there was ever anything good here, it was killed. All that's left is hatred, malice, and a thirst for revenge. This place is hopelessly lost."

"But if the jailers here were so powerful, what happened here?" asked Matheus. "We are standing in ruins, if I am not mistaken."

"That which caused the downfall of many man-made things," Elli replied. "Someone meant well. Opened the cells and unleashed on the world all the horrors this place had housed or spawned. As a last resort, the entire complex was sent to another world. And when it turned out that that world didn't have the strength to face the forces lurking in the darkness of Site-13, it was sent away again. But something went terribly wrong. Or well, depending on your interpretation. This place remained in the… Let's call it non-existence for the sake of understanding, where it should have gradually dissolved into nothingness, but then Arbarab came."

"And what does he want with this dungeon?" asked Matheus.

Elli shook her head and shrugged.

"I guess only he knows. But it will be a miracle if he reaches his destination alive at all."

"And what about Chloe?" asked Dean.

"Chloe?" Elli smiled sadly. "We're going to go down there, Dean, and we're going to have to hurry, or we'll probably only be able to recover Chloe's corpse."

The halls of this place, Chloe knew by now that it was called Site-13, were deserted and filthy with black sludge. There were lamps in this place, but none of them were glowing. The only light in this place came through enormous holes in the ceiling that reached many stories deep and were large enough to build skyscrapers in. They gave her an idea of how enormous this place was. She had stood at the edge of one such hole and looked down floor after floor. There were at least fifty of them.

Wherever the possessed boy was going, it was down there. They took stairs, climbed elevator shafts, and jumped through holes in the floor to get lower.

He had first intended to just let them float down through one of the big holes, but some birds that had strayed down here from above had shown that was a stupid idea.

They disappeared in mid-flight.

Chloe had heeded the warning at the entrance and done her best not to look at the walls, but a few times she had made the mistake and spotted more writing.




As they passed by a corridor again that had given way to one of the massive holes, Chloe stopped.

"Keep walking!" the creature hissed.

"I don't think that's going to do any good," Chloe replied. "Look."

She pointed up at the rock and concrete walls. Chloe and her captor had been much lower before, seventeenth basement floor maybe, but now they had suddenly landed back on floor three.

"WHAT!" the boy yelled. "It can never be easy, can it?"

A desperate idea occurred to Chloe.

Elli had no idea where she was and this creature would surely kill her to get to Ku. This certainty that she would die anyway by doing nothing made it easy for her to put her insane plan into action.

She jumped off the edge.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!" the boy yelled after her as Chloe began to fall down the hole. The wind from the fall rushed in her ears. Above her, she saw the boy's hands begin to glow blue and it seemed fitting to give him the middle finger. Then suddenly there was only blackness.

And her direction of movement had changed. Instead of falling, she was hurled down a corridor, careened across the floor after impact, and smacked into a wall. She was hurting in places she hadn't even known she had… until now.

"Ooooooh…" she moaned, but scrambled to her feet with clenched teeth.

She had to keep moving so the boy wouldn't find her. With any luck, she'd get out of here, too.

Just, she could barely see. The corridors ahead of her were in darkness and there was no hole from which light could have fallen.

Then Chloe corrected herself. There was light, or she wouldn't even have been able to see where she was.

The source of that light was behind her. Was there a hole?

She turned around.

She didn't know what she had expected, but in any case it wasn't a hole.

Behind her, she spotted some kind of humanoid creature, barely larger than her hand. It was very petite and trembling. Chloe couldn't make out any more specific details on the body, as it was emitting glaring white light. It was also buried under a piece of debris that had fallen from the ceiling.

"Hello?" asked Chloe.

The light creature hissed pitifully.

Chloe decided to free it and approached the creature.

Then she faltered.

She had been able to see the passage behind her perfectly, but this one was in complete darkness, despite the light from the little thing. She wasn't comfortable with that, light didn't work that way, did it?

Then she noticed a kind of transparent string running out the other side of the piece of debris and disappearing into the darkness.

And then she realized.

This wasn't a light creature at all.

It was a luminous decoy…

Chloe turned wordlessly and began to build up speed as something huge roared behind her in disappointment.

She didn't waste time looking behind her, the situation didn't get any better from that, she knew the thing was chasing her though, because she still had light as she ran through the corridors. But she heard no stomping or footsteps. The creature puffed occasionally, but that was all she perceived of it.

Ahead of her, the corridor ended with a fire door. Fortunately for Chloe, it was not locked, but it was quite heavy. As she struggled with it, the glow of light came closer.

It was almost there.

Faint daylight flooded into the room through the open door, causing something behind Chloe to roar in pain. Tormented growls followed, growing more distant until they finally faded.

Breathing heavily, Chloe staggered through the door. She was finally out.

Would have been nice, at least.

The light fell through a massive hole in the ceiling and Chloe was still quite far down.

Then her Ku-damaged body made itself known. Chloe fell to her knees and vomited blood. It took a while for her to stop coughing. Only then did she muster the capacity to look around. But she aborted that process almost immediately.

Towering in front of her was the largest leech she had ever seen…

"I'm amazed you came along, Matheus," Elli remarked as they walked down the stairs beneath the power plant.

She shone a flashlight at them.

"If your daughter is likely to meet her end down here, Reinhardt won't be much better off. I've got to find him."

"Oh, she's not my daughter," Elli deflected.

"What, oh, I thought you and Dean here-"

"Only in her dreams," Dean growled.

On a landing, they passed a door.

"These steel doors here are well made," Matheus remarked admiringly, opening them.

Their light was unable to penetrate the blackness behind them. Matheus wanted to enter, but Elli held him back, shaking her head.

"Watch this…"

She plucked out a hair and brought it into contact with the darkness with pointed fingers.

A few waves of it disappeared into it.

And remained gone when she pulled the hair out again. But despite the fact that segments were now missing, the hair remained seemingly intact. As if parts of it were only no longer visible.

"Oh, does that make it invisible?" asked Matheus.

Elli wordlessly ran her finger through a vanished section of the hair. It met no resistance and the hair did not move.

"Null Position Matter, has a lot to do with quantum mechanics. Let's close the door before it wakes up."

Dean closed the door deliberately slowly and quietly while Elli tossed her contaminated hair away.

The door on the next floor presented a slightly more inviting corridor. One could even shine light into it.

As soon as they were through, Elli grabbed Matheus and Dean by the hands.

"Elli, what's wrong?" asked Dean.

"There's something wrong with the reality here, it keeps fluctuating."

"Does that mean you're all-powerful here all the time?"

Elli shook her head.

"No, it doesn't drop that far, it's more like waves on an ocean. And there's a big wave trough coming."

The men looked at each other, perplexed.

"Open the door behind you again, Dean," Elli asked.

Dean did as instructed and looked down another corridor.

"Oh, I see what you mean…"

Matheus stared through the doorway, frowning.

"How can that be? There were stairs there a moment ago!"

"Forget reality and laws of nature, Matheus," Elli advised him. "This place takes them both and makes nude paintings out of them."


The hallway was followed by an atrium of sorts, but there wasn't much of it left. Holes gaped in the walls and the floor had partially broken away. There was black mud all over the floor.

"How disgusting," Dean shuddered.

"You're not seeing the mud just now, Dean," Elli remarked, annoyed.

"I'm talking about that thing back there."

Elli shone her light on the area Dean had been able to see with his night vision. A very strange creature was coming toward them.

It looked like a wolf, however the armor plates and eyes made it seem more like a relative of the crab.

"What kind of creature is that?" asked Matheus as the creature approached with movements not fluid enough for a mammal.

"I don't know, but I think it was artificially created," Elli replied.

"I'll take care of it," Dean announced, picking up a few rocks and hurling them at the creature's feet to scare it away.

It hissed at them and moved closer.

One of Dean's projectiles burst on the ground in front of him from the impact. The crab wolf paused, sniffed the resulting dust, then decided to turn and run.

"You should have smashed his skull in, he's just starving to death here," Elli remarked.

"He didn't deserve that," Dean returned, turning around.

His eyes got as big as plates.

"RUN!" he yelled at them.

Elli, frowning, glanced behind her and became aware of five more of these crab monsters.

She and Matheus decided to follow Dean's demand. The creatures set after them with a strange hiss.

Ahead of them out of the darkness, the sixth beast came shooting and leapt at Dean, but for its efforts only got Dean's fist against its skull and was flung aside.

"Dean, through that door up ahead!" shouted Elli to him.

Dean opened a fire door in front of them. Matheus and her raced through and he slammed the door shut.

Was his plan, at least, but one of the strange wolves had managed to put his head between the frame and the door, and his pack was pushing from the other side, so Dean couldn't close the door.

While Elli was still thinking of a solution to this problem, Matheus drew his sword and rammed it down the throat of the creature in the door with a yelp.

The creature breathed its last with a hiss.

The man pulled his sword back out and gave the corpse a kick that catapulted it into the hallway, allowing Dean to close the door.

Nauseating cracking and tearing noises sounded from the other side. And chewing…

"Should have known, those things are based on wolves…" gasped Elli.

Dean, not needing to catch his breath, looked around.

"Huh? Elli, there's something on the wall here…"

Elli looked up with a raised eyebrow and considered the message Dean was pointing at.

Her face fell asleep.


Dean responded immediately, before Matheus could look up.

"Why? What's wrong?" he asked.

Elli looked at the strange runes that had been written on the wall with sludge.

"Silencer…" she muttered.

"So, what does he write?" asked Dean.

"Too hard to translate and not PG, we better make sure we find Chloe."

Elli was already half resigned to the fact that Chloe had perished in here, but the other half was fully panicked and would have given anything to get her back alive. She was having a hard time keeping herself under control.

"Why can't I see the writing?" asked Matheus, as Dean led him on with his eyes closed.

"Just one look at those runes and you will become still and silent within a short time. Then flames come out of your ears and you explode at the slightest sound."

"You can be killed by writing?!" snapped Matheus. "What's the matter with you lot? Are you guys okay?"

"Dean is a special case," Elli explained. "And I was born with virus prote- an immunity to all that kind of stuff. The guy who wrote that would have hated me…"

Suddenly, she felt reality potential building again.

"Everybody grab hands!".

She grabbed Matheus' and waited for the reality fluctuation to pass.

The sounds of the crab monsters were gone.

"Okay, it's all good," Elli finally said. "Dean, you can let Matheus go again."

"He already has," the man noted.

Elli glowered around.

"And where is he?"

"Uh," Matheus made, looking around as well. "He let go of my eyes, but he never grabbed my hand. Where is he? DEAN? PLEASE ANSWER!"

No answer.

Elli's heart sank down. Dean had reacted too late.

"What do we do now?" asked Matheus.

Elli sighed.

"Hope we don't lose each other, too."

She shone her lamp around to get her bearings. And stuck her gaze on a vaguely human concrete sculpture.

It had acrylic paint for a face.

Arbarab cursed. First he had lost this girl and now it seemed like this place was playing more and more tricks on him. At the moment, he was wading through a corridor full of water. Bodies floated beneath the surface, which he thought he recognized, but Arbarab didn't dwell on it. Probably something here was confusing the senses of his vessel. Arbarab was too selfish to remember anyone.

Please let us go!

Finally, he came out the other side…

In front of him were workrooms for the bureaucrats of this building. This place was pure chaos!

In some places there was paper on the floor, a corpse with strange clothes was leaning against a wall. And almost everything was covered with black sludge.

I'm scared!

Arbarab tried to probe the area, but he couldn't make sense of what he was receiving. The rooms and corridors twisted and bent around and into each other in impossible ways.

The wall next to him began to corrode.

Arbarab turned in confusion toward the phenomenon, from which a rotting hand now emerged. What it touched instantly decayed.

A half rotten man in a jacket stepped out of the dark spot he had created with a wide grin on his face.


Presumably he had intended to intimidate Arbarab with this, but he only raised an eyebrow in annoyance. That made him stop.

"You're actually just in time for me," he said. "I need someone who knows his way around."

The figure hissed menacingly. In response, the astral being let its power crackle. It smiled.

"Although. Looking at you, I have an even better idea…"

Chloe looked at the titanic carcass in front of her. He was half burned, strange metal columns stuck in him, and he was dripping dead leeches. And he was lying on a battlefield. There was debris and bent metal everywhere. A little away from the black mass of the monster leech lay the corpse of a big deer, also half burned. And something had bitten off its head. Not far from it stood the massive metal statue of an angel. It seemed as if a living angel had been found, made several hundred feet tall, and then doused with metal. The metal was partially dented, as if something had tried to nibble it. Not far from him was a sooty sword, one hundred feet long, stuck in the ground.

Chloe balanced along metal struts and fallen concrete columns around the massive hole these creatures had torn in the ground in their struggle.

Finally, past numerous walls, she reached the remains of a large chamber. A machine stood inside, busy spinning or glowing parts of itself incessantly. It appeared to have some fire damage, as if it had been through a few lightning strikes. On a control panel in front of it, the word THRESHER could be read.

Dean was in a bad mood. Not only had he been separated from Elli, he was in some kind of maintenance tunnel. WHAT HAPPENED TO SITE-13 had been scribbled repeatedly on the walls. Dean hated such vandalism. If you were in danger, you had better things to do than scribble questions on walls. Warnings were okay, but questions…

Dean would have loved to grab a bucket and a rag to clean up all the black sludge, but that was out of the question. The task at hand was to find Chloe.

As he walked down the maintenance tunnel, he saw questions as well as a warning on the wall.

Not a problem for him, but from experience, organic creatures had their problems with prolonged oxygen deprivation. He frowned and continued walking.

His haptic sensors suddenly registered a draft, then his exhaust in his nose sealed shut.

A message arrived at his computing center.


Indeed, his microphones in his ears picked up nothing. Elli had designed Dean's body to function properly underwater and even in space, so he wasn't worried about the air leaking out. But he was allergic to vacuum. His exhaust gases built up in his nose for a while so his internal mechanics wouldn't suffer damage from constant vacuum, and were evacuated briefly every so often, the equivalent of Dean sneezing. He didn't like it.

Something seemed to be watching him expectantly. Dean looked around. He remembered those wolves and the Null Position Matter. Maybe he had landed in a being made of airless space. In that case, he had a problem if it decided to follow him. Anyone who encountered it would inevitably suffocate.

It occurred to Dean that normal creatures probably had problems if a vacuum suddenly appeared inside them. Maybe it was the other way around here.

He forced a sneeze. Gas poured out.

The ground began to vibrate. The oscillation increased and grew into a real earthquake. Then the vacuum dissipated.

The resulting implosion swept Dean off his feet and hurled him through a hole in the floor.

The hole he exited was not the same as the one he had fallen into. He was threwn out of some kind of broken storefront window and dropped to the floor next to a control panel.

Without making a sound because of the impact, he straightened up and knocked the dirt off himself as best he could.

He was apparently in a control room. Behind him was a shattered observation window, and behind it was what was probably the largest blender in the multiverse. Dean looked through the window and up at the ceiling. Burnt bone debris stuck to the walls and far above him he saw nozzles protruding from the ceiling. Possibly for burning liquid. Hadn't Elli mentioned that millions had been burned here? Apparently, the blender here was used to get the maximum "usable volume" out of this facility. After all, there were no more spaces between carcasses when they had been cut into small pieces.

Dean had expected a lot, after all, this place even made Elli tremble, but this industrial efficiency of killing and disposal far exceeded his expectations. Who was so cruel as to create such an apparatus?

Questions for later. While he was here, he might as well look for Chloe…

Elli stared with extreme prejudice at the statue in front of her, which stood motionless in the hallway in the light of her flashlight. She tried hard to blink with only one eye at a time.

"Uh, Elli, what's-" asked Matheus, but Elli grabbed him by the head without looking away and forced him to look at the statue.

"Don't avert your eyes and don't blink," Elli urged him. "If we both blink or look away at the same time, we'll be more than dead…"

Slowly they both walked backwards, but then the disaster happened. Elli had turned to know where they were going just at the moment Matheus had closed his eyes.

"WAAH!" he went.

The statue had traveled ten meters during the blink of an eye and was now standing right in front of them.

"What is that?" hissed Matheus as quietly as possible. "And what does it do?"

"They never found a true name for this thing," Elli explained. "And what it does, well… It looks like it's just going to break your neck, but it's much, much worse… Let's leave it at that and try to get a door between us and this thing."

They walked backwards again, keeping an eye on the stone structure with the help of Ellis' flashlight.
Finally, their backs were to the wall, but Elli didn't dare take her eyes off the statue to look around. Matheus tugged her by the sleeve and pulled her along. She heard the reassuring clack of a fire door opening.

As soon as they were through, they both closed the door as fast as they could.

Something punched a dent in from the other side, but the door held.

Then the grinding of concrete on concrete was heard, moving quickly away.

Elli and Matheus exhaled deeply and tried to reorient themselves.

They stood in an office corridor and quickly started moving to get away from the thing. Elli passed a door after a while that had BE QUIET written on it.

"Matheus, come with me for a second," she asked, dragging the confused man into the hallway after next, picking up a piece of debris, throwing it against the door and taking cover.

The floor was shaken by an explosion, but no sounds reached their ears.

The two peeked around the corner again and looked at the destroyed door, white smoke billowing from it.

"Did you see that?" asked Elli. "You would have been if you had read the message earlier. Any more questions?"

Matheus shook his head silently. They continued walking.

The next door seemed to be another victim of room distortion. They ended up in a prisoner's wing.

"Oh. I remember this place…," Elli remarked tonelessly.

She shone the flashlight around. There was black sludge everywhere and desiccated corpses on the floor. Not all of them were human.

"You were here?" asked Matheus. "Were you held captive here?"

"Indeed," Elli confirmed, shuddering at the memory.

She had to stop herself from throwing up.

She shined her light on a locked door.

"One-one-seven-zero-five," she read off. "This is my cell."

Matheus looked at some cadavers in the light of the lamp.

"What strange creatures…. How did they manage to keep them all at bay?"

"They used Orators," Elli explained. "Technology from an incredibly advanced civilization, misappropriated and abused. They-"

Elli had to suppress another gag reflex as she thought of the procedure.

"Let's say they break you. Take your mind and put it through a meat grinder. Even I wasn't immune to technology that advanced. They made you docile and threw you in a cell if they didn't burn you."
"Then how did you escape?" asked Matheus.

"I tricked them. They thought my portals were restricted in certain ways, so they were quite surprised when I suddenly opened one outside their norm and mustered enough willpower to jump in. It took me five months to get them to this point. I didn't have a great time here. Nearly died several times during their experiments… Almost went insane…"

Elli shooed away the memories and refocused on her search for Chloe and Dean. She shone her light everywhere, but (thankfully) couldn't spot them among the dead.

Instead, her light fell on two black feet.

Elli and Matheus stopped as she let the beam of light travel up the black legs, finally catching on an equally black head. White dots indicated eyes.

Silently, the two turned as the black humanoid creature gave chase.

And then the wave came… It was huge.

Elli suddenly found herself in some sort of server room. It was freezing cold. Briefly, she thought she had gone deaf, not noticing any sounds around her, but then she heard something. A tortured moan or scream, as if someone was being tortured. She looked around.

And noticed the Malidramagiuan hovering next to her…

Chloe looked at the confusing machine in front of her. It gave her a feeling she knew from Elli's Nexus, though not nearly as strong. It seemed more real than its surroundings. Many of the lights on the thing kept flickering.

She began to circle the large machine, looking for an exit behind it, but tripped over something lying on the ground and fell. Confused, she straightened up and turned around to see what she had tripped over, but as hard as she tried, she couldn't make out what it was. She only knew one thing, it was a living being and had not been alive for a while.

She noticed now that there were traces of blood on the machine. Here and there she saw scraps of a tactical vest, dented and unusable weapons, and fragments of some kind of armor like she knew from the Power Rangers, only in black and white. Someone had probably been literally torn to shreds here.

Behind her, there was the sound of stones falling on concrete. She turned and noticed a woman with hazel hair and large, cracked round glasses approaching behind her. She looked similarly emaciated to Chloe, which, combined with her worn and filthy lab coat, made for a frightening image.

Chloe started screaming in terror and bounced back. The woman did the same to her.

"You can't scare me like that!" the woman snapped.

"Yeah, you tell me! What are you doing sneaking up behind me!" countered Chloe when she realized there was no danger coming from her.

The woman was about to retort something, but broke off and collected herself.

"Do you know where we are here? And what are these clothes?"

Dean was getting increasingly disgusted with this place. Directly adjacent to this "corpse pit," as it had, in his opinion, been innocuously titled, were the offices where the paperwork of the soon-to-be deceased had been processed. He did not like to imagine how hard-boiled one had to be to sign death certificates when one knew that the person in question was being burned to ashes just thirty meters away at that moment. Provided that it had not fallen victim to the blender beforehand.

It amazed him that there was nothing here that wanted to get at him. Apparently everything that still lived here avoided this place. He thought he could understand why. There was a dense atmosphere here that seemed to smother every sound. It was truly dead silence. One of the few moments when Dean wished for noise rather than silence. The world could get quiet, but it should never be as quiet as it was here.

With any luck, Chloe had made it here, so he took the time to look everywhere.

As to be expected, people had died here, too. One guard he passed seemed to have just keeled over. Some kind of arm-thick dead leech was sticking out of his mouth.

Suddenly he heard a rustling nearby, as if someone had stepped on the paper that was lying all over the place. Dean immediately turned in that direction, but couldn't spot anything in the hallway. It had to have happened in one of the branching hallways.

"He-Hello?" asked an anxious child's voice. "Is there someone there? It's so dark in here…"

Dean, so paranoid because of what had happened so far that he thought the voice was a trap, approached it with deliberate caution and peeked around the corner. A small boy could be seen, hands outstretched, stumbling through the darkness that Dean managed to penetrate with his night vision. His clothes told him he wasn't from around here, so he was probably harmless.

He approached with deliberately loud footsteps. As expected, the boy flinched and whirled around.

"Who's there?"

"I'm Dean," he introduced himself in a calm voice and came to a stop in front of the kid. "And who are you?"

The darkness seemed complete, for the boy could locate Dean's face only by his voice, and looked at his chest as a result.

"I'm… I'm Reinhardt."

Next time on Nexus:
Ruins of Madness, Part 3

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License