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Double Trials

Chapter Text

When Evan MacMillan was summoned to the killer’s campfire, he knew something was different. This wasn’t just another trial. He could feel it.
He worried for a moment he was going to be punished again for failure, but that always immediately after a trial. This wasn’t a reward either, The Entity did not bother to praise its Trapper. When he did well, he would know through what he found the next time he slept and dreamt of the Bloodweb.
Not knowing what to expect, Evan walked through the gate that, during trials, led to the survivors’ campfire, and outside of them, led to the killers’. Evan had never met any of the other killers, though he knew they existed. He had heard echoes of angry roars, revving engines, and haunting humming from other trials, and had occasionally found various items left at the campfire.
When Evan arrived at the campfire, he was shocked to see another killer there. It was a man with dark, billowing robes and a white mask frozen in the shape of a scream. This other figure was kneeling in front of the fire, which Evan noted was burning orange and black. He had only seen the fire that way twice before: when The Entity explained his role before his first trial oh so long ago, and when it sent him to find- to find…
Evan couldn’t remember. This alarmed him. He didn’t have a photographic memory, but he knew something had happened. He filed away this troubling information for later and knelt alongside the other killer out of instinct. As he did so, a figure with a bag over their head approached the fire, eerily hovering a few inches off the ground. Then a group of four teenagers in hoodies and masks. More and more killers arrived, all silent and kneeling in front of the fire.
When the last killer slouched in, a burned man with a fedora and a sweater, they all heard a voice. Its voice. The voice did not speak English, or Japanese, or any language spoken by humans. Yet they understood. They understood that some trials would be different. Some trials would have two killers. Eight survivors. Four exit gates. And speaking would be permitted. Evan nearly raised an eyebrow at that, but even under his mask, The Entity would know, and The Entity would not look kindly upon doubt. It rarely paid much attention, but when it chose to, there was no hiding from it. Its punishments were not merely physical- Evan would prefer another dozen pieces of metal in his shoulder to being forced to relive his worst memories again- his friends, his father, the mine…
Suddenly, Evan realized The Entity had finished speaking, and the fire had returned to normal. As The Entity’s presence left, Evan looked up to more closely examine who he supposed were now co-workers of sorts. Before he could, however, all hell broke loose. A girl who appeared to have been violently butchered immediately leapt at the man next to her, a towering figure in a jumpsuit and a white mask. Some creature opened its mouth- which, after a double take, Evan realized was its entire head- and lunged through the fire at a fat man with clown makeup.
Evan turned to leave. This, he decided, was not his problem. He was sure that The Entity would take care of everything, and really, he didn’t fancy getting gnawed on by the rail thin woman currently trying to tear an arm off of one of the teens. Besides, he had work to do. Bear traps don’t maintain themselves.
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The next time Evan was called to the campfire, he was unsurprised to see another killer there. It was a woman in jeans and a red robe wearing a pig’s head. He awkwardly cleared his throat, having not spoken since the last time he was tortured by The Entity and forced to beg for mercy.
“Um, hello” muttered Evan awkwardly. God, why was he so nervous? He could break this woman in two. The Entity said he was the longest-serving killer. And here he was holding out a hand to shake, completely at a loss for what else to do. The woman cocked her head at him before chuckling and returning the handshake.
“Hey. I’m Amanda. You seem better than the first asswipe, but lemme lay down the ground rules. We might both be working together, you might even have been chosen by John, but you lay a hand on me and I’ll gut you like a fucking fish. Got it?”
Evan was taken aback to hear such language from a woman, but he supposed that any girl chosen to do this job wasn’t selected for her manners.
“I assure you I’ll be the perfect gentleman. I might have worked in the mine, but I was raised properly. Who was the first… asswipe, as you so eloquently called him?”
“The creepy fatso with the clown makeup. Bitch tried to start touching my hands” she made a motion with her hand and a short but sharp blade popped out of her sleeve. “He got the picture real quick.”
“Serves him right, I suppose. Say, I should warn you, I set traps like these” Evan held up a bear trap “I can see the… outlines, I guess, through walls and stuff, but I don’t know if you’ll be able to, so watch your step.”
Amanda gave a snort and held up a reverse bear trap. “What’re the odds? I don’t wait for them to come to the pain, I make sure the pain sticks to them. Once this thing’s on their head, they gotta find the key to get it off, otherwise… they’ll wish they got put on a hook, let’s just say that.”
Evan shuddered at the unadulterated delight in Amanda’s voice. He’d hunt the maggots, and he’d hurt them, and he had fun doing it. But looking at the twisted contraption of wires and springs and blades that Amanda lovingly caressed… to Evan, that was somehow too far.
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The trial went okay. Only Jake and Nea escaped, the rest being sacrificed or, in the case of Jane, Steve, and Ace, dying to one of the reverse bear traps. On the one occasion they crossed paths, Amanda whispered to Evan that she could, in fact see his traps. Evan also noted that he could see boxes that he inferred were where the keys to the reverse bear traps were. He felt a little bad about putting traps down in front of them, especially since he was fairly certain Steve wouldn’t have died to the reverse bear trap if the regular bear trap hadn’t been in front of the last box. But Evan knew that even in this new situation, he could not afford to show mercy or slack off. He didn’t know how much it hurt to be sacrificed up on one of the hooks, but he liked to think it was less painful than The Entity’s punishment.

Chapter Text

    Kazan Yamaoka was ready the minute he felt himself being pulled to the campfire. He was always ready to kill in the fog, just as he was always ready to kill in Japan. The creature in the sky believed he killed in its name, and he saw no reason to correct it. But Kazan killed to purify the bloodlines, to cull the ranks of the worthless and the dishonorable. It was fortunate for the sky demon that it had not told him to kill anyone of good breeding. It was also fortunate that thus far he had not been expected to cooperate with another killer. Being favored by the sky demon would not save impure blood from Kazan’s sword.

    He arrived at the campfire and stopped in confusion. Kazan vaguely remembered seeing some pale, naked, faceless abomination when the sky demon gathered the killers, but now that he was looking at the thing without any distractions, it was very clear to Kazan that this was in no way human.

    The thing slowly turned to face Kazan, hunched over in a wary posture. It opened its head, revealing a maw framed by five petal shaped flaps whose interior sides were covered in teeth, and let out a terrifying screech. Wary of this unknown threat, Kazan drew his sword and let out a bellowing battle cry of his own.

    To his surprise, the creature closed its mouth and scuttled backwards with a series of chirps and chitters. Kazan squinted under his mask, puzzled by this unexpected reaction. The creature slowly approached on all fours, keeping low to the ground, and began waving its head around, the tip tentatively probing Kazan’s boots and shin guards.

    Kazan offered his hand towards the creature, and it began nuzzling at that as well.

    “It’s like a dog!” thought Kazan. “It only needed to be shown who the boss is.''

    Kazan liked dogs. To him, they were basically the same as humans: most of them were filthy, misbred wastes of space, but the well bred ones were loyal, diligent, and brave. This, Kazan assumed, must be a very well bred demon dog to recognize its better so quickly. He was glad to see the sky demon had at least one other decent killer in its employ.

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    Jane Romero was not having a good time. Trials were never enjoyable, but this was already off to a bad start. It was the Yamaoka estate, which meant she could hide well if she crouched. It killed her knees, but it was better than getting killed on a hook. Additionally, she could see the lights of a house in one direction and the top of an old statue in another, which meant it was a double trial and she was right in the middle of it.

    She crouched towards the edge of the map, planning to get out of the open before she looked for a generator, and heard Dwight’s pained cry in the distance. As she approached a generator nestled in some rocks, she heard another scream she was fairly sure belonged to Nea. As she began to work on the generator, she began trying to figure out which killers were hunting her this time. She hadn’t seen or heard any bear traps, she wasn’t feeling sleepy, she hadn’t seen any boxes with the creepy puppet or any fountains, maybe it was-

    BANG! Jane was brought out of her thoughts by a loud noise as the generator sparked and popped angrily beneath her fingertips. She was fairly sure at least one killer would be headed towards her, and began slowly walking away, but then she heard two distinct sounds that made her break into a sprint towards the Yamaoka house. The first was a blood-curdling roar she recognized as belonging to the newest killer, The Oni. He was almost certainly barreling towards where he heard her. The second noise was an eerie, low rumbling that she knew meant The Demogorgon was traveling between portals.

    Jane dashed into one of the rooms, but to her horror saw The Demogorgon pulling itself out of a portal within. She turned around just in time to see The Oni come from around a corner, eyes glowing red and feet rapidly closing the distance between them.

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    Kazan was pleased with that hunt. Only the pale coward with the red hat had escaped, and done so by waiting for the hatch to open while his friend was on the hook. Such dishonorable conduct… Kazan would make sure that the next time he saw that one, they would not escape.

The strange demon that acted like a dog had proven itself capable of great speed and strength, effectively hunting scum independently. But what pleased Kazan the most was that it seemed to be capable of planning and thinking ahead. On more than one occasion had its lunge forced a survivor to take a path that led straight to him. It was clearly more than a dumb beast. In fact, it was probably a better planner than most of the countless cowardly generals and ineffective bureaucrats he had killed. As he walked back towards his sanctum, he bemusedly wondered if he could teach it Zanshin tactics.

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    Jane had not had a good time. The Demogorgon and The Oni were shockingly well coordinated, and it seemed like the whole trial someone was on a hook or being carried to one. Despite that though, the team had managed to finish all ten generators, although by then only her and Dwight were left. She had a gate halfway open when The Oni came charging out of the bamboo to send her sprawling with his kanabo. She was hooked outside the gate, and as she struggled to keep The Entity’s deadly tentaclaw from piercing her chest, she saw Dwight’s aura on the other side of the house crouching in one spot. The little prick even had the gall to make a “hurry up” motion with his hands!

    “That fuckin’ sucked!” said Nea, who had been the first one to be sacrificed after a swat from The Demogorgon’s claws sent her clear through a window she had been about to vault.

    “At least you didn’t get left for dead…” Jane replied, while glaring daggers at Dwight. “Two killers just isn’t fair! They’re everywhere!”

    “Maybe so far…” muttered Jake, gazing into the fire. “Or maybe we’re just getting unlucky…”

 

Chapter Text

    The trial was going well for Claudette. Coldwind Farm was a realm she knew like the back of her hand, from where different rows of corn met to where The Huntress could and could not hit her on top of the farming equipment. And even though it was a double trial, she only knew that one of the killers was The Nightmare, based on how drowsy she felt.

    And even though Freddy was one of the most effective killers, nobody had been hooked yet. In fact, nobody had even been hit yet, and three generators were completed. Even as she was lighting the fourth, Claudette was looking for the next generator. She turned her eyes to what the survivors called “The Big House” or “The Coldwind House”. There was always a generator on the top floor, but there was only one entrance and exit to that floor, which made it very dangerous. But then again, Claudette thought that since it was this long without any encounter, Freddy’s partner was probably a sneaky killer, like The Wraith or The Ghostface, and only having one entrance to watch would make it nigh impossible for someone to sneak up on Claudette.

    As she made her way up the stairs to the porch of the house, Claudette heard a pained groan. For a moment she thought it was David taking the first hit of the trial, but she didn’t sense him or anyone else being injured, nor did her empathy reveal his aura. Then she heard it again,  and Claudette realized that wasn’t David she was hearing- it was The Hillbilly. She froze in place, hearing a pitiful whimpering from inside the house that she was now certain was from a man she had been killed by dozens, if not hundreds of times. Then she heard a very familiar laugh.

    Peeking her head around the corner of a doorway, Claudette saw The Nightmare standing over The Hillbilly, who was curled in a ball in the corner, chainsaw and hammer laying forgotten across the room.

    “You big, dumb, bitch!” gloated Freddy. “How the hell could anyone be afraid of you? You stupid piece of shit!” Freddy lashed out with a foot, his boot connecting with the top of The Hillbilly’s misformed head, which only caused him to squeeze himself tighter and begin to quietly sob. Freddy bent down and extended his clawed hand towards The Hillbilly.

    “Aw, is sumwun scawed?” asked Freddy in a mocking voice as he stroked his bladed fingers across The Hillbilly’s face, leaving four thin, red lines across the lumpy skin. “Well too bad, bitch! Turns out your daddy was right about you. You’re just a useless, ugly, retard.”

    Claudette was usually a meek person, but she was horrified by how Freddy had turned another killer into a crying mess. And then he said the R word. Claudette had been called that too many times to let anyone else, even a terrifying murderer, get called that without her doing something.

    “Hey, asshole!” shouted Claudette as she jumped out into the doorway, surprising herself with her own language. “Don’t you have a job to do? We’re seven gens in!”

    Freddy’s head snapped towards Claudette. For a moment he looked enraged, but then a slimey grin forced itself across his burned face.

    “Oh well, guess I’ve lost. Shame. Might as well have a little fun though!” He pushed himself off the ground, deliberately stabbing his claws through The Hillbilly’s forearm as he did so, and Claudette began to run, questioning the wisdom of her newfound bravery.

    Claudette ran like she’d never ran before. Her lungs burned as she vaulted through window after window. As she turned one corner, Freddy lunged and Claudette felt metal tear through the skin of her shoulder and chest as she slammed a wooden pallet onto Freddy’s head.

    The dream demon let out a groan and stumbled backwards, glaring at Claudette from across the pallet. As he stooped to pick up his hat, the last generator went off and everyone heard the blare of the exit gates. With startling speed, Freddy began to kick apart the pallet, and for just one moment, she hesitated as she decided where to run towards. That split second proved costly as another blow from Freddy sent her sprawling to the ground in the middle of a corn field.

    A low bell toll indicated an exit gate had been opened, and Claudette sensed many survivors leave, not wanted to be trapped by Freddy’s Blood Warden power. As she turned to look up at Freddy, she heard the distant revving of a chainsaw. Apparently The Hillbilly had recovered.

    “I’ll tell you what girly, tell me who’s a retard and maybe I’ll let you go, huh?” Claudette looked up at him in surprise and tried to formulate an answer.

    “Well? What’s it gonna be? Which chainsaw lugging abomination is retarded?” too overwhelmed by pain and fear and the sounds of the bell and the chainsaw, Claudette couldn’t force her mouth to form words. But she could force her mouth to launch a glob of spit towards Freddy’s face.

    “YOU LITTLE WHORE!” screamed Freddy. Regaining his composure, he drew back his gloved hand and asked “Tell me, bitch, which eye to you like the least?”

    Claudette squeezed her eyes shut and covered her face in a futile defense, and she heard Freddy laugh, his low chuckles reverberating through the corn. Then, they abruptly cut off as a chainsaw grew louder.

    Claudette opened her eyes to see The Hillbilly come dashing out of the corn at full speed and slam his chainsaw into Freddy, the whirling teeth severing an arm as their owner’s momentum pushed Freddy to the ground. The Hillbilly stood up and put a foot on The Nightmare’s back, and Claudette realized with shock that he was going to mori him. She didn’t try to stop him, simply watching slack-jawed as The Hillbilly revved his chainsaw and steadily pushed it through Freddy’s sweater and chest. After the mori was finished, he took a swipe a Freddy’s head with his hammer for good measure, crushing Freddy’s hat and the head underneath.

    The Hillbilly turned to Claudette, and she realized that everyone else had left her for dead, with Meg having run out with a heavy heart as she heard the mori begin.The Hillbilly hoisted Claudette over his shoulder in a position familiar to both of them, and Claudette didn’t even bother to struggle. There was no way she could get out before The Entity grew bored and shot a spike through her chest, and she didn’t really have the heart to fight against The Hillbilly now.

    To her surprise, he carried her past one hook, and then another, before she heard the ominous whooshing noise of the hatch. But there was no way he was going to-

    But he did. The Hillbilly unceremoniously dropped Claudette on top of the hatch before turning and sprinting back the way he came.

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    The campfire was silent as Claudette finished telling her story. For a minute, everyone simply contemplated these unprecedented events. Then Quentin began giggling.

    “Freddy seriously got moried? By The Hillbilly? I think this proves The Entity can’t block prayers!”

    The silence, broken the rest of the survivors chuckled, before animatedly discussing the implications of what had happened at Coldwind Farm.

Chapter Text

    Joey was a little surprised when he felt the pull to the campfire while Frank was already in a trial. It wasn’t unheard of, even before the double trials, but it wasn’t common. He looked around at the girls.

    “Either of you two ladies want this one?”

    Julie shrugged noncommittally. 

    “Would take this one, Joey? Give us some girl time?” asked Susie.

    Joey nodded and grabbed his mask and knife, then began walking towards the campfire.

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    It had been a regular trial. The old cop, the old soldier, that new Asian girl, and the Asian girl who’d always been there. He only got one sacrifice, but had hooked and hit others enough that he was pretty sure The Entity wouldn’t punish him. He got back to Mount Ormond and knocked on the door. He didn’t think it was necessary, but had gotten in the habit after coming back from a trial one time and walking in to the sight of Frank and Julie naked and writhing on the couch. It wasn’t likely that Frank had come back and Susie had left (or that Frank was still gone and Julie was cheating on him with Susie) but Joey was always careful. 

    “Come on in, Frank!” came Julie’s voice from inside. Joey walked in with a surprised look on his face.

    “Is he still not back yet?” asked Joey.

    “I guess not…” mumbled Susie. “Time is weird in here, but he left maybe fifteen minutes before you, and you were gone a while…”

    “Yeah, I locked down a three-gen. Took the old beardy guy being injured, on his last hook, and flipping me off to get me away.”

    “Should we be worried?” asked Susie.

    “What, about Frank? I’m sure he’s fine. He knows how to take care of himself.” replied Julie.

    “I dunno, what if that hag tried to eat him again? You saw what happened when it summoned us. By killer standards, we’re unusually sane, unusually smart, and unusually weak.” said Joey, glancing worriedly at the door.

    “Tell ya what. If he’s not back by the next double trial, we ask whoever we’re partnered with if they know anything. If he does, then you have to tell him you were being a worried little pussy while he was gone.” said Julie, leaning back on the sofa and flipping her knife around in her hand. Then the knife clattered to the floor. “Damnit!” she yelled while appraising the new cut on her thumb. “Joey, how do you do the spinning thing again?”

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    Time passed, at least as much as it does in the fog and by now even Julie was concerned. Susie had another single trial and there was still no sign of Frank when she returned. The next time The Legion felt the pull, Julie immediately stood up, knife in hand and mask already on. She had no idea how to investigate a missing person case, much less do so in the fog, but that wouldn’t stop her from trying.

    “Wish me luck!” she called as she walked out the door.

    Julie arrived at the campfire and threw in one of those weird wreaths they often found while dreaming. They weren’t really sure what they did, not the way they had figured out the coins or the logs, but they hadn’t noticed any negative effects, and they had nothing better to do with them. Then Julie felt the hair on her arms stand up. She looked around, and saw, approaching through the woods, a man approaching. He wore a blood splattered lab coat with the sleeves ripped off, and in one hand he held a large metal stick covered with smaller spikes. But what stood out to Julie was his face. He wore some sort of headgear that held his eyes wide open and pulled his cheeks back, forcing his face into a permanent smile. His head was bald, and had rows of metal things stuck in his scalp, with sparks jumping between them.

    He arrived at the campfire and offered a scratched coin to the flames before adjusting his headgear so that the pieces of plastic and wire no longer held his mouth in an unnatural grin.

    “The Legion, yes? Julie or Susie? I am Dr. Herman Carter, or just The Doctor. Very pleased to make your acquaintance!” he said, holding out a hand to shake. Julie warily accepted it, before screaming as she felt a pain shoot up her arm and her hair stand on end. The Doctor let out a maniacal laugh that, if Julie didn’t know any better, she would say sounded like it came from a radio or an old TV. She whipped out her knife, pointing it at Carter’s throat.

    “Listen buddy, maybe you found that funny, but I’m not in the mood for jokes. Do you know anything about the other killers?”

    The Doctor quieted, and looked at her quizzically. “Why my dear, of course I do! Even in here, I make an effort to stay informed about the world around me. I’ve been very pleased with these double trials, it is absolutely fascinating to finally meet you all in person! If I had to take a guess, I would say you’re Julie, so what’s the matter then? Going through a rough patch with your latest boy-toy? Looking for someone to spice things up?” Herman resumed his unnerving laughter as Julie tried to fight the blush coming to her face.

    “What? No! He’s missing, and I think someone might have kidnapped him after a double trial!” The Doctor simply laughed.

    “There’s quite a few of our compatriots who might fancy a prisoner. Yes, let’s see… oh, time to go!”

    The world faded and Julie found herself inside a garage. She knew outside would be a battered neon sign that once welcomed visitors to Gas Heaven, but now was just another landmark for survivors and killers to navigate by. Julie walked out of the building and took off at a sprint. This time, however, she was not hunting down prey, she was hunting down a lead. Min watched in shock as Julie went right by her, completely ignoring the survivor on the generator. Min simply shrugged and went back to work.

    As Julie felt herself nearing The Doctor, she slowed to a purposeful walk. She found him shooting waves of electricity at the guy with the robotic hand as the survivor nimbly hopped back and forth across a pallet to keep his distance.

    “Hey Doc! We weren’t done talking!” shouted Julie as she approached. Carter wheeled around, his headgear back in place. He angrily pointed at his mouthpiece before turning back towards Ash, who had taken the opportunity to bolt. “I know you can take that out and you’re not catching that guy any time soon, so just tell me who took Frank and how to get him back.”

    The Doctor agitatedly removed the mouthpiece and said “Maybe Nightmare, maybe Clown, maybe Huntress. Maybe even Ghostface or Pig. No idea how to get him back. Maybe ask the Trapper, I think he’s been here the longest. Now if you’ll excuse me…” The Doctor reinserted his mouthpiece and strode away. Julie considered following him, but she got the impression any more questions would be met with blasts of electricity, and she was not eager to learn what those felt like.

    Julie chased survivors like a normal trial, but she was just going through the motions. Her mind was busy mulling over the new information she had. Of those five names, she felt pretty sure The Clown was the guy with the clown makeup and The Pig was the person who wore a pig’s head. The Ghostface was probably the guy with the white mask and the hood, the mask sorta looked like a ghost. The Huntress was presumably a woman, but The Nightmare seemed like a pretty generic title for a killer. And asking The Trapper for help… she supposed she’d have to wait for her or one of the others to get a double trial with him. And she’d have to tell everyone to be careful around those others. Even if they weren’t the kidnapper, the fact that they were a candidate meant they warranted an extra level of caution.

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    “Really Jake? You just happened to overhear one killer asking another for help with a kidnapping? You’re just yankin’ ol’ Ace’s chain.”

    Jake sighed. “I swear, it’s true! You know I never scream, not for the hook, not for the Doc. And I can be very quiet, plus neither of them were expecting to be overheard. I don’t even think The Legion girl was considering survivors at all. She seemed really desperate to get Frank back.”

    “You’re sure she said Frank?” asked Jeff.

    “You’re sure it wasn’t The Doctor making you imagine things?” asked Dwight.

    “Think all the killers can talk?” asked Meg.

    “I don’t think I was crazy…” said Jake, choosing to respond to Dwight. “He’s never made us hallucinate conversations before. Not even words. And the visual hallucinations always look the same, and never move. But I mean, there’s a first time for everything, I guess…”

Chapter Text

    Phillip Ojomo slowly walked towards the campfire, his invisible feet thumping a steady beat against the dirt as he sang a slow, haunting melody. He did not like the role he was forced into. He swung his scythe and hooked his victims, but he often spent his time sitting alone on a car in Autohaven Wreckers letting out soft, distorted sobs as he yearned to forget his latest acts of violence, while also feeling guilty for wanting to forget. 

As he approached the campfire, he saw a woman with curly red hair down to her shoulders and a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose sitting and staring into the fire. Phillip would say she looked like a survivor if not for her blue lips and unnaturally pale face. He stopped singing and she turned towards him with dull, unfocused eyes. Green, he noticed.

“Please don’t stop, stranger. It has been too long since I heard real music. Not since the horrid thing in the sky took me here. Unless you count the woman who threw axes at me.”

Phillip stopped short. He was not sure which surprised him more: that the dead woman could see him, that she could talk, or that she talked with a slight Irish accent. He rang his bell to uncloak and moved towards the fire, arriving there in a few long strides and sitting across from the woman while offering to the flames a cookbook with recipes that made him nauseous the one and only time he perused the book out of boredom. It would take them to the swamp, which was hard for killers because of how large it was, and especially himself because he could be seen coming. He knew he was putting himself at a disadvantage, but he did it anyways. He did not want to hurt them, and he could not hurt what he could not catch. Besides, he enjoyed the feel of the mud underfoot as he walked through what he assumed had once been a lake or a river, based on the abandoned boats and piers.

“That disgusting cookbook? We’re going to the swamp then? Do you want to do poorly?” asked the woman, but with a tone of curiosity rather than accusation.

“As a matter of fact I do” replied Phillip, wondering why he trusted this woman. “I don’t like to kill. I don’t like to be here. If I could find a way to leave, or even to die for good, I would use it gratefully. But as it is, I do what I can to make life a little easier for my targets.”

“It won’t seem like it during the trial, but I don’t like to kill either,” said the woman, twisting a lock of hair around fingers Phillip was certain would be ice cold if he were to touch them. “I… lose myself… during trials” she continued hesitantly. “In the real world, I… well, I suppose I went quite mad. I was a nurse” she gestured at her dress, which Phillip had indeed noted looked like a nurse’s uniform from a few decades ago “at a mental institution, Crotus Prenn Asylum. It was… well, I shan’t make excuses for what I did, but over the years I slipped into madness and one day… well, ‘tis dreadful to say it aloud, but I killed them. I killed them. I killed them all… and then I think I killed myself… but now I’m here.”

“I, too, made a mistake. Or a series of mistakes.” replied Phillip, his heart going out to this woman filled with regrets. “I left my country for America to flee the violence and bloodshed I wished no part in. I got a job at a junkyard, Autohaven Wreckers. I was a mechanic and I operated a machine that crushed cars. But one day I discovered my boss had been putting people in the cars I crushed. He had made me kill people. And I killed him.”

The dead woman stood up, although Phillip questioned in the term applied since she did not stand on the ground, but rather floated above it. She drifted over to him before sitting next to him. She clasped one of giant, gnarled hands in both of her smaller ones. Phillip was not surprised to feel they were indeed cold as death, but he was surprised to realize the gesture was still comforting nonetheless. She looked up at him with those lifeless green eyes.

    “You are better than I am. I made a choice to kill dozens of innocents. You made a choice to kill one manipulative murderer who was too much a coward to get his own hands dirty.” They both looked down to see orange particles beginning to gather around their feet. “I won’t be myself in the trials. I think… I think it takes my madness outside the trials and stuffs it into me during them. But I hope we can talk some more afterwards. I… You seem familiar, although I realize I don’t even know your name. Mine is-”

    The Nurse was cut off as the orange particles overtook her mouth, and soon Phillip was staring across a vast swamp from the deck of an old steamboat. He sighed as he turned towards the stairs. He had been having an actual conversation, his first one since- since-

    Well, there was the detective. Phillip brought up his bell and was about to ring it to uncloak himself when he heard a bloodchilling screech and The Nurse appeared through a wall, but with a pillowcase covering her head. The detective bolted in the other direction and The Nurse clenched the hand that wasn’t holding a bonesaw into a fist around an orb of light before he heard the shriek again and suddenly she was in front of him, bonesaw already swinging towards him. He left out a harsh cry as the saw slashed across his chest, leaving an angry gash from left shoulder down to his right hip. He felt a searing pain not just there, but everywhere as he was forced out of the Spirit Realm, and he recovered just in time to watch in shock as the bonesaw moved towards his throat.

------

    When he was sure she was gone, Detective Tapp slowly moved out of hiding towards the killer laying motionless in the mud. He saw the already large pool of blood around The Wraith’s neck growing and thought to himself “Well shit. She actually killed The Wraith.”

    He moved closer, examining the jagged wounds inflicted by the bonesaw. They weren’t so much cuts as they were tears, ripping through cloth, skin, and sinew alike. Tapp wondered why The Wraith hadn’t fought back. It looked like he hadn’t been expecting the first attack, which made sense since he had been invisible and he was, in theory, working with The Nurse. And Tapp had seen The Wraith burned out of cloaking with flashlights, or in one case, a pallet, so he supposed The Nurse had done the same thing, but with a different tool. And while he was stunned, she had quite literally gone for the throat.

    Tapp turned to the two objects laying where The Wraith had dropped them. The first was a bell. Tapp assumed this was what he and everyone else had heard as The Wraith switched between visibility and stealth. He noticed a couple of symbols painted on it with white ink. He didn’t recognize them, however, and turned to the other item: the weapon.

    Tapp had always been puzzled by The Wraith’s weapon, and his inspection provided more questions than answers. It was indeed a skull and spine, with a handle at the base of the latter, and sharp blades protruding from what would have been the roof of the mouth. This intrigued Tapp to no end. It was obviously not a very practical weapon like the knives of The Ghostface or The Legion. It wasn’t ceremonial like The Plague’s censer, or if it was it was from no culture Tapp was familiar with. And it didn’t seem to be a common tool being used for violence, like the hammers and mallets of the two chainsaw wielders. Then Tapp had an idea. A crazy idea. But one that just might work.

    He took the bell in one hand and the weapon in the other. He closed his eyes and rang the bell with the skull as he had seen The Wraith do from around countless corners and out of many lockers. Bing, bong. Tapp looked down at himself, disappointed to see he could still see himself. Maybe he was invisible to others?

    Tapp decided to go look for a generator. He walked off still holding the bell and the weapon. He crept up the stairs of the Pale Rose to see Laurie already working on the generator. She glanced up at him as he approached, then did a double take as she saw what he was carrying.

    “Guess I’m not invisible, huh?” whispered Tapp.

    “Where the hell did you get that?” replied Laurie in a soft but very intense voice.

    “You’re not gonna believe this, but The Nurse killed The Wraith. Didn’t even hook him or mori him. Just slashed the poor bastard’s throat open. Guess even some killers don’t like each other.”

    “I’m not surprised. I can’t see my b- I can’t see The Shape doing a team-up. But you look like an idiot with those. There’s a medkit in the chest in the cabin, it’ll be a lot more helpful than a bell. Tapp nodded and switched the bell for the battered tin of medical supplied, but kept the skull. He wasn’t going to actively try to seek out The Nurse, but now that he had a chance of fighting, he wasn’t going down without one. 

    That turned out not to be necessary. The Nurse ended the trial with only two (survivor) kills and having never seen Tapp again after she killed The Wraith. Tapp was disappointed, though not surprised, that the scythe would not pass through the point in the exit gate that killers could not go through. He put it down, feeling as though he was passing up a huge opportunity, before leaving the trial.

------

    Phillip opened his eyes at the campfire to see The Nurse telekinetically ripping a pillowcase off her head and sucking in a huge breath of air as she floated towards him.

    “Are you okay? I’m so sorry, I tried to warn you, I don’t have any control over myself in the trials, I didn’t- Oh God…”

    Phillip slowly dragged himself into a sitting position against a log while raising his hand to quiet The Nurse. “I assure you, I am alright, if not a little stiff and sore. You did warn me, it is my fault for not being more cautious. That was not my first time dying in a trial, nor was it the most painful. You could have been the man with the chainsaw that squeals like a pig, but you are not, and for that I am grateful.”

    The Nurse smiled and pulled Phillip into a hug, which he had not expected at all. She embraced him for a moment before awkwardly letting go. “Sorry if that was a bit forward of me. I’m just so glad I didn’t kill the first person I’ve been able to talk to.” She gave him a sad smile as she bowed her head. “As I was saying earlier, my name is Sally Smithson.” She followed this statement with a curtsy, something Phillip had not seen anywhere except for the movies.

    “I am called Phillip Ojomo. I come from Kano, in Nigeria.”

    Sally giggled. “I come from The Bronx, in New York.”

    “I know where The Bronx is. I told you, I moved to America. Do not equate being African with being ignorant.”

    Sally looked shocked and embarrassed. “Oh, nonononono, that’s not what I meant at all! I swear, it was meant as a joke! I’m so sorry!”

    “No, I should apologize, I assumed the worst about you. Most Americans are very kind and hospitable, but it is the ones with hearts full of hate that I remember most clearly. I should not have been so quick to anger. I fear that is one of my many flaws…”

    The Nurse smiled and took his hand. “That’s alright. I got defensive too, whenever someone made a comment about Pa and the bottle.” She stopped as she heard a whooshing noise. “Oh no. The dead girl is coming. She… is not friendly. We should go. I’m sorry again Phillip. I hope I can see you again soon.” She planted a quick kiss upon The Wraith’s cheek before turning and disappearing into the woods.

    The Wraith cloaked himself before beginning the walk back to Autohaven. He had a lot to think about as he walked. But as he walked he began singing again. And this time, it was a much more cheerful tune.

Chapter Text

     It had been 14 trials since Frank disappeared. Joey walked towards the fire, mask already on and knife in hand. He didn't expect to fight, but it wouldn't surprise him either. As he approached the campfire, he saw a towering man in a battered mask with a cleaver in one hand and a bear trap in the other. This must be who The Doctor told Julie about. 

     "Hey, uh, are you The Trapper?" Joey called as he cautiously approached. The Trapper turned to look at him, and Joey froze as he took in just how massive the man before him was. The Trapper then spoke with a low, scratchy voice.

    “What gave it away? But yes. I am Evan MacMillan, The Trapper. Who are you and how do you know what I’m called?”

    So that’s who the MacMillan Estate was associated with. “I’m Joey Hammond, part of The Legion. I know your name because The Doctor said you might be able to help us. One of us, Frank, our leader- us being The Legion- went missing, and we think he was kidnapped. The Doc said-”

    “Slow down there buddy. I haven’t met ‘The Doctor’ before. Just ‘The Pig’ and some madwoman with an axe. So why would he say I would help you?”

    “He, uh, Julie said he said you had seniority, I think? Something like that.” replied Joey with a shrug.

    “Now how the blazes does he know that…” Muttered Evan, more to himself than Joey. “So what do you want me to do?”

    Joey looked around uncertainly. He probably wasn’t the best person to be The Legion’s diplomat, and he had assumed The Trapper would have some solution. “Uh, I dunno… Is there like, some way we could summon Frank? Or one of the other killers? We have a list of suspects! Nightmare, Ghostface, Pig, Clown, and, um, Huntress! Can you bring them to us?”

    Evan slowly said “There is one way… but I don’t know if you can do it, and I don’t know if you’ll want to. You can’t bring them to you, but you can go to them. If you have something from a killer themself- not their realm- and access to a fire other than this one, you can burn it like an offering. It’ll take you to their realm, but the catch is that you leave your weapons behind. I think this system is a leftover from when killers socialized outside of trials, before the… before… a long time ago.”

    Joey decided not to pry into the history. It sounded like either The Trapper didn’t want to talk about it or he legitimately couldn’t remember, and Joey was much more interested in the visiting anyways. “We have a fire! Our realm is Mount Ormond, the resort, there’s a big fireplace in the middle! But how do we get pieces of the other killers without them killing us?”

    “I didn’t say you need pieces of them! You just need something from them, not of them. If I gave you a piece of my mask or something, that would work.” Joey was immediately relieved that he wasn’t going to have to try and cut pieces off of killers. He didn’t mind hurting people, but he did mind getting hurt by people who minded getting hurt.

    “Okay, so get something from pig-lady, the littler white mask guy, fatso, and… do you know which ones The Huntress and The Nightmare are?” asked Joey.

    The Trapper shrugged. “The Huntress might be the axe lady. Wears a rabbit mask. Won’t stop humming. She seemed like an outdoorsy type. She didn’t seem like the sort to take prisoners though, she put a hatchet in my head the moment she saw me. No idea about The Nightmare. Maybe the thing that isn’t human? It seems nightmarish enough.”

    And with that, the two killers’ vision began to fade, and they knew the trial was soon to begin.

------

    The little whelp wasn’t as useless as he looked, Evan decided. He kept them too busy stuffing their organs back into the right cavities to do gens quickly, had an uncanny knack for finding survivors amongst the rows of corn on Coldwind Farm, and wasn’t dumb enough to step in Evans traps. Not more than once, anyway.

    That’s not to say the trial went perfectly. Gens still went off, and even more frustrating, that little brat who liked to fuck with his traps was there. He wouldn’t just poke it with a stick until it went off, he would systematically dismantle and demolish his traps, by hand if he wanted to. In the end, they got four kills and ended up next to each other as the petite black girl looked back over her shoulder at the edge of the boundary killers couldn’t cross. Evan could’ve sworn for a moment it looked like she wanted to say something, but then she was across the boundary.

    Evan bent down to a sabotaged trap that had once guarded the lever for the exit gate. He grabbed one of the razor-sharp jaws, slick with the blood of an unfortunate victim, and handed it to Joey. “If you need to talk. And no social visits. If you do pop up it better be important.”

    Evan would never admit it, but he actually wouldn’t mind a social visit. 

    Joey took the piece of metal with a shocked expression before reaching into the pocket of his hoodie and pulling out a blood soaked pin and handing it to Evan. “Same here. Except we probably wouldn’t mind social visits.”

Chapter Text

Kazan Yamaoka approached the campfire again. He saw a woman there- no, just a girl, he corrected himself. As he came closer he saw she had wild, ethereal black hair. Her limbs were filled with deep slashes that in a few points clearly went all the way through. She was wearing some manner of tattered undergarments or sleepwear, and hundreds of shards of glass were sticking out of her body. She turned towards him and her face rapidly shifted through emotions before settling on one of confusion. Beneath his mask, Kazan’s face had settled into an expression of surprise. This, Kazan knew, was an Onryo. A vengeful ghost. Even he would have to tread carefully. He was powerful, he knew, but ill-equipped to fight the undead. And if the creature in the sky had managed to control an Onryo… that had troubling implications Kazan set aside to ponder later. “Greetings, spirit.” Kazan said in his native Japanese. “I am Kazan Yamaoka, a samurai serving the creature in the sky. If you are as honorable as you are beautiful I trust our relationship shall be amicable.” At this The Spirit twitched, before she spat out the words “Kazan… Oni Yamaoka?” Kazan’s back stiffened. “You are the father of the father of the father down to my father… my father killed me…” Kazan was confused. Was this girl saying she was his descendent? Then, with a piercing shriek, The Spirit lunged at Kazan, producing a sword from thin air. Kazan was shocked to see that, although the blade seemed to have been shattered and repaired, the hilt undoubtedly was that of his wakizashi. With surprising nimbleness for his immense size, Kazan stepped to the side as he drew his katana. The girl charged him again with reckless abandon. She was sloppy, clearly untrained. He could easily kill her now. But Kazan reminded himself he was fighting an Onryo. He couldn’t just decapitate her, he thought as he instinctively blocked her strike. He doubted cutting her hands off would have any impact on her ability to use them. He decided to go for a direct approach. As she brought her sword down towards him in a strong overhead cut, he stepped forward and turned so that he was next to her. One hand grabbed her sword while the other bulging arm forced her to the ground. Her rage melted away and she began making a noise that Kazan thought was crying. “Forgive me, father! I didn’t know! You could have told me! You could have told mother! We would have helped!” Kazan was taken aback by the sudden apologies. “I am not your father, girl! I am Kazan Yamaoka. What is your father’s name?” barked The Oni. Rin looked up. “You… you really aren’t my father? You are really Oni Yamaoka?” she asked. Kazan glared at her. “I have killed stronger warriors than you for such a slur. I am Kazan Yamaoka and will be addressed as such.” Rin bowed “My apologies. I did not realize you actually existed. I believed you were just a family legend my father used as an explanation for our bad luck. I am called Rin Yamaoka. You are truly my ancestor, then? But that was so long ago. I think father said eight generations? It can’t be.” Kazan pondered this information. “You said your father killed you? Do you have any sons? Any brothers?” “No, I am my parents only child. And I am much too young to have any children! I’m still in college. Or I was. Before… before he…” All of a sudden, Rin’s face twisted back into a portrait of rage, and with a flick of her wrist, her sword disappeared from Kazan’s hand and reappeared in hers. She lunged again, and managed to land a glancing blow that was deflected by Kazan’s ceremonial armor. The Oni grabbed her by the hair and threw her across the clearing, his vision going red as his patience grew thin. Then he saw the orange begin to cover Rin’s bare, butchered legs. ------ “This is SO unfair!” thought Meg as she raced towards a pallet. The Oni was supposed to have to hit people before he got his blood rage thingy. But he had just bolted out of the reeds and started barreling down on her. She slammed down a pallet and kept running, hearing a snap as The Oni’s kanabo turned the sturdy boards into matchsticks. She saw a window ahead, and ran as fast as she could. “Thisisbullshit, thisisbullshit, thisisbull-” As she leapt through the window, Meg felt the brutal collision of the kanabo with her back. The sheer force of the blow sent her tumbling to the ground facefirst. She lay in the mud at the base of the window pondering the mysteries of the fog, such as why getting hit with a stick hurt more than getting hit with a sword, or if that new girl is as into girls as Meg is. She barely had the strength to fight as The Oni carried her to a hook and rammed it through her shoulder. She hung there limply as he strode away towards the old steamboat. Meg perked her head up as she heard a roar from the top of the boat. It was clearly The Oni’s voice, but it sounded like it was saying something, rather than voicing its blind rage. She was pretty sure it was Japanese, which she supposed would make sense for a samurai. She would have loved to know why he was shouting. But, she reflected, she was in no position to listen. She’d leave the snooping and eavesdropping to Tapp and Jake and Nea and those sneaky guys. ------ Nea was terrified. She and Ace had been doing the generator on top of the boat when they saw The Oni striding purposefully towards them. Ace had bolted. She had stepped into a locker, figuring The Oni would follow Ace’s trail. But he didn’t. He walked right past her hiding spot to the front of the ship and bellowed something in Japanese. She only knew a few words, since some of her friends were really into anime and insisted she watch it with them. After he had shouted, The Oni just stood there. Waiting. Did he know she was there? No, otherwise he would- Nea’s train of thought was derailed by a sudden whooshing noise. “Fuck. Not her. Oh fuck.” Nea quickly worked to control her panicked breathing. Stay calm. ------ Rin heard her name called as she cut the man in the white trench coat. Somebody was telling her to come to the boat in her own language? This was new. Slipping into the ethereal plane, Rin rapidly moved towards the boat. She appeared on the deck to see a familiar samurai. She remembered now. Oni Yamaoka. The ancestor who cursed the family name. But curses weren’t real. It’s like mom said. Just something he made up to- “Rin. Listen to me. You say you are my descendent. If this is true, how long has it been since Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Korea?” Rin thought back to her history classes. She was pretty sure Hideyoshi was the guy who came before Tokugawa, and Tokugawa was early 1600s, so… “About 500 years, I think? And why ask about Hideyoshi? Everyone knows Tokugawa better. Unless… Are you actually from before the Tokugawa shogunate?” “It would seem I am.” replied Kazan. “We have much to discuss. Please, sit.” said Kazan as he sat down on the floor of the boat. As Rin followed his example, a crow also landed atop a nearby locker. “What has happened to Japan since my time?” Rin’s face broke into a smile. She loved history, and was happy to explain it to her ancestor. “Well, to be brief, Tokugawa Ieyasu establishes a shogunate that lasts for about 250 years. Then Emperor Meiji reasserts imperial authority and modernizes Japan- er, makes Japan more like Europe, which is a land very far away. Anyway, we participate in a few minor wars against Russia and Germany- those are more far away places- and we win, but then there’s a much bigger war. We invaded China and a lot of other places but our navy was destroyed and then we got nuked by America. That’ll take a lot of explaining, but it was bad and the emperor surrendered. Now we’re a democracy, and we have a lot of industry, but some demographic problems, and I can tell I’m probably not making a lot of sense…” Rin trailed off, looking down as another crow joined its friend atop the locker. Kazan, who had indeed become very confused, had just one question. “What happens to samurai?” “Oh well, they sort of become irrelevant. A lot of them become businessmen- that’s like merchants- or work for the government.” replied Rin. Irrelevant. Merchants. Disgraceful. Kazan stood up as a third crow landed atop the locker. “Truly, we lose our way? Japan is disgraced and humiliated?” “It’s not that bad!” replied Rin. “I guess by your standards, yes, but it’s for the best!” Kazan ignored her, taking off his upper armor. He sat down again. “May I use our wakizashi?” Rin summoned it and presented it to her ancestor. “What are you going to- not? No! Wait!” she shouted as Kazan pointed the point of the blade at his bared stomach. “Silence. Our nation my disgrace itself. Our family may disgrace itself. But I will not allow you to prevent me from dying with honor.” Rin clasped her hands over her mouth as The Oni plunged the sword into the side of his belly and sliced across. A crow cawed loudly as Kazan fell back and Rin rushed to his side, holding her ancestor’s head as he lay dying. The crow called out again as the last generator was finished. Rin froze and turned towards the locker. She stood up and walked over to it. ------ As Rin did to Nea what Rin’s father had done to her, Adam Francis took the opportunity to creep out from where he had been hiding on the lower level of the boat. When he felt safe he bolted towards an exit gate as it opened. He breathed a sigh of relief as he made it past the safe point. He didn’t know all of the words Rin and Kazan had used. But he knew enough. And he was going to have a very interesting discussion at the campfire.

Chapter Text

    Julie was sitting around the campfire waiting for her next trial to begin when she felt a gloved hand on her neck and was pulled off her log, landing face up on the ground. She instinctively felt for her knife as she identified her attacker. There was a flash of light, and she blinked away stars to see a cloaked figure with a stretched white mask. The Ghostface, she was sure.

    The Ghostface backed away chuckling as she scrambled to her feet. “Whatta you want, fucko?” shouted Julie, knife raised. Instead of replying, the person across from her slipped off their mask and tucked their camera into the folds of their robe. Julie saw  under the hood was a man with a mess of curly brown hair, warm blue eyes, and a cocky smirk. He held out the hand not holding the plastic mask.

    “How do you do? ‘M name’s Danny Olsen, better known, of course, as Ghostface. Normally wouldn’t give you my real name, but there’s no cops out here, so what’s the point? I’m an artist slash journalist slash photographer slash neck slasher, with wits as sharp as my knife!” he pulled a large hunting knife from a sheath strapped to his leg and mimed stabbing someone. Julie was taken aback by the sudden friendliness, and noted the far away look in his eyes and the heavy Philadelphia accent that both came out when he spoke.

    “Uhh, yeah, hi. I’m Julie. What the hell was the big idea with that shit you just pulled, eh? You’re lucky I didn’t stab you!”

    “Oooooh, real sorry about that, it was just for laughs! But it’s nice to know you aren’t gonna stab me! There was this other guy! White mask, though not as stylish as mine, of course, he just killed me! Just like that! No reason! Wouldn’t even give me a word! What a shame.”

    Julie was rapidly growing impatient. “I never said I wouldn’t stab you.” she said, advancing towards Olsen with her knife raised. “We’re gonna have a chat, and then I’m gonna decide whether or not your lungs are staying in your chest.”

    Olsen looked very nervous about this, backing away as Julie slipped her mask on. “Of course, of course, let’s talk, let’s definitely talk! I’m a bit of a chatterbox if ya hadn’t noticed! Let’s just stay calm, stay civil, and oh perfect timing!” Danny donned his mask as the orange particles began climbing up their legs. Julie angrily charged at Ghostface, but her vision quickly faded and she found herself looking down an old mineshaft.

------

    “Does The Legion have some kind of vendetta against other killers?” asked Ash as Julie walked right past him and Min. Min shrugged. “‘Cause I’m feelin’ a little unappreciated here!”

Julie whirled around and slashed open Ash’s arm with her knife. He cried out as she quickly brought him to the ground with another blow to the ribs. Julie gave him a kick for good measure, nodded at Min, and continued looking for the Ghostface. Min waited until Julie was out of sight before breaking into a fit of giggles.

“Okay… maybe I shouldn’t have looked a gift horse in the mouth… or the ass… now help me up!”

“Just for that, I’m finishing this gen first. It’s almost done.”

“Fennnnnnng, it’s only on the second piston, it’s literally not even halfway done. Please… I’m dying…”

“I told you, Feng is my family name. Now shut up and let me focus.”

Ash obliged, doing his best to stifle groans of pain as Min’s fingers danced across the generator. Eventually, the flood lights above the machine burst to life.

“About time, sweetheart! Now how about you come help me out?” Min began walking away. “Hey! Feng! Wait! Come back!” shouted Ash.

Min stopped and turned back towards Ash. “Sorry, Williams, we gotta do gens to get out. Catch you on the flip-flop.”

------

Julie walked up the scaffolding on the outside of the large foundry building, eyes scanning for her unfortunate partner. She walked through a doorway into what she figured was some sort control room and stifled a gasp as she saw Ghostface leaning around a corner, staring at a girl doing a generator. Julie lunged and tackled him, creating a loud, reverberating clang as his body hit the metal floor. The blonde girl doing the generator looked up, saw Julie stab the Ghostface’s wrist before knocking his own knife off the edge of the walkway, and considered trying to climb up the machinery to get it before deciding to just go find a different generator.

“We weren’t done talking, bitch.” Julie growled as she twisted her knife. Olsen whimpered as his blood oozed onto the cold metal. “You ever seen any of us before?”

“A- any of who?” squeaked Olsen.

Julie ripped off his mask. “Any of The Legion. Have you met Frank?”

“N- no, I don’t know a f- Frank, or a legion! Just l-lemme go!”

Julie regarded the man beneath her, on the verge of tears. No way this scrawny runt managed to get the jump on Frank. Truly pathetic, she thought. Then a smile spread across her face. She’d already lost a number of generators, and she didn’t think this sniveling shit was gonna be much use with a fucked up wrist, so she might as well have some fun.

------

Whatever Kate was expecting to see in the aftermath of the fight she had witnessed the beginning of, it wasn’t this. A man with curly brown hair was hanging upside down inside the ironworks, lengths of black fabric connecting one of his ankles to the guardrail of a catwalk high above. The man himself was wearing nothing but a pair of tighty whities, and his wrists were bound together. Kate noticed that, placed on top of the generator, there was an old fashioned polaroid camera.

“You the Ghostface, darlin’?” called out Kate.

“Get me down!” replied the man.

Kate picked up the camera, saying a prayer there was still some film left. She pointed it at him and pushed the button. Click. She grinned as a photograph began emerging from the camera. “Sorry hon, I don’t think I will. Say cheese now!”

Click.

Chapter Text

    Hermann Carter sat at the campfire, gazing into its depths and mulling over his latest idea. It was ambitious, to be sure, but would open up nearly limitless new areas of study, not to mention have a number of more immediate, practical uses. But his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. Hermann looked up and saw a tall figure. Overalls. Mask. Cleaver. There was no doubt in The Doctor’s mind he was looking at Evan MacMillan.

    “Mr. MacMillan, a pleasure to meet you in the flesh! I am Doctor Hermann-”

    Hermann’s grating voice was turned into a shriek of pain as Evan suddenly struck out with his cleaver, hitting Hermann’s right wrist and forcing him to drop his weapon. Evan was unrelenting and slapped The Doctor’s face with the flat of his blade before sending his left fist into Hermann’s stomach with devastating force.

    “No games, Doc.” growled Evan as Hermann spat out a bloody tooth. “How do you know my name, and how do you know I have seniority?”

    “Apologies, apologies.” said Hermann as he climbed to his knees. “As a man of science, I like to stay informed about my colleagues, academic and otherwise.”

    Under his mask, The Trapper rolled his eyes. He reached down and grabber The Doctor by the neck and easily lifted him up. Hermann’s feet flailed wildly as his hands grasped at Evan’s massive forearms.

    “I didn’t ask why you wanted to know. I asked how you do know. You wouldn’t be the first maggot to die for not knowing their place. Now how. Do. You. Know.”

    Hermann’s hands found their grip on Evan’s arm. The Doctor smiled and there was a buzzing sound before Evan suddenly collapsed to the ground with a roar of pain.

It was a shame, Hermann thought, that he'd had to kill The Trapper so quickly. But he had no use for unruly subjects.

------

Evan opened his eyes and looked around. He saw he was in the family mines. Had he somehow fallen asleep down here? He cautiously sniffed the air, but didn't smell any of the dangerous gasses that miners occasionally opened up pockets of. He slowly began making his way up the mineshaft. Stumbling forward- God, why did his head hurt so bad- Evan came out of the mine and sucked in a breath of fresh air, but it didn't feel any different. 

Then, from behind a pile of slag, a young man came running. Then, right behind the man, appeared Evan's father, wielding a pickaxe. Evan felt like he should help than guy. Or more accurately, he felt like he should stop his father. He knew his father had hurt his friends before. (Who? Evan couldn’t remember…) Maybe the man in the red shirt was his friend? He’d have to ask later.

“Dad! Stop!” shouted Evan. Both people froze and looked at Evan. Then Archie MacMillan casually swung his pickaxe into the man’s temple (He’ll be fine), causing him to fall to the ground with a cry. His father removed his spectacles and his beard (Beards don’t usually come off, do they?).

“Hrax; jalk! jauk’ mhc enjvgnf cj mgkb j dhrckgsd] noy mfobfp nd vkpys. fpi sjo\”

Why didn’t Dad make any sense? (Something happened) Why was he asleep in the mine? (It’s not a mine) What was going on? (Think, Evan, think) Should he go see a-

Evan blinked and it all came back to him. He saw The Doctor standing in front of him, grinning without his headgear, and the survivor he once heard called Dwight laying at his feet. A trial. The Entity. The union. The flowers. Thoughts, memories, and feelings swirled through Evan’s head before suddenly crystalizing into one memory and one feeling. The memory was his last time at the campfire. And the feeling was rage.

Evan quickly assessed his surroundings outside the small shack in Autohaven, continuing to play dumb as he formulated a plan of attack. Then with no warning, Evan began his attack. He stepped into an up-swing that caught Hermann completely by surprise. The Doctor screamed as the reverse edge of the cleaver sliced through his stomach. Evan kept up the assault, bringing the cleaver around over his head and savagely chopping into The Doctor’s shoulder. The Trapper felt his clavicle break under the force of the blow before his cleaver became lodged in Hermann’s top rib. The Doctor reached out towards Evan, but The Trapper knocked him away with a solid kick to the stomach. The Doctor screamed again as blood and viscera fell out of his first wound, and he sprawled on the ground. He looked up to see The Trapper’s grisly mask looking down at him, and felt a heavy boot settle on top of his chest as he yanked his cleaver out. They both knew that Evan could kill Hermann right now. 

“How did you know?” growled The Trapper. In response, another burst of electricity pulsed out from The Doctor’s body. Evan slashed downwards and effortlessly lopped off one of The Doctor’s hands. “Rubber boots, bitch. Now how much am I gonna have to hurt you?”

“You slimy mongrel!” shouted Hermann. Evan increased the pressure on his chest. “Okay, okay, fine, you wanna know? It was Baker. Don’t ask me how he learned. He just feeds me info and I let him use the equipment at Léry’s! Now let me up!”

Evan looked down at the face beneath him, warped and stretched by the constant use of the headgear. “You don’t make demands, you inhuman bastard.” Then, with a decisive crunch, Evan stomped on Hermann’s chest.

------

    “No way. No way The Trapper called The Doctor daddy.” said Nea.

    “He said dad, not daddy. But I know what I heard. The Doctor is The Trapper’s father!” replied Dwight. “They obviously aren’t on great terms, but…”

    “I trust Dwight on this one, we’re experienced enough to know when The Doctor is making us hallucinate something.” said Jake. “But we’ll probably never know for sure.”

    “We could always ask.” said Nea, drawing stares from her comrades. “What? It’s worth a shot! What’s he gonna do, kill us?” Jake rolled his eyes in lieu of a response. “Pussies. I’ll ask next time I see one of ‘em, and if I’m right that The Doctor isn’t The Trapper’s daddy, you, Jake Park, owe me a utility flashlight.”

    “Deal.” replied Jake immediately “And again, I know English is your second language, but there’s a significant difference between ‘dad’ and ‘daddy’.”

    “I know! But you should see how red Dwight gets whenever I call him the team daddy!” laughed Nea.

    “Hey, I hate to be the voice of reason here, but I think there’s a bigger takeaway here.” interjected Ace. “Who the hell is this Baker guy?”

Chapter Text

He stood before the fire, waiting. But something felt different. He wanted to close his eyes. He wanted to do the thing humans do, where they lay down and close their eyes for hours. He'd done that once. But he hadn't in a long time. He didn't know if it started with the pills or if the Voice Outside decided it or if the Voice Inside did.

He saw another. A fellow demon. He had not seen another demon since the Master Demon called them together. For a moment, he wondered if he could make friends with this demon. But the Voice Inside screamed at him. Demons did not make friends. Demons were bad.

He examined the other demon. He was wearing a shirt with stripes, and a hat. His mask was wrinkled and warped. His fingers had knives on them 

"Well, well, well. Not sleepy, are you? That's okay. Here's hoping you're better than the last bitch."

He didn't know what a bitch was. Maybe it was like a demon? Or a kind of human? There were different kinds of humans, boys and girls. Maybe something else? And why was this demon allowed to talk? Didn't his Voice Inside get angry?

The smoke wrapped around his legs. Time to work. Michael Myers tightened his grip on his knife and prepared to kill.

------

The other demon made him angry. He could talk, and would do it a lot. To him, to the humans. The other demon was talking to a human. It looked like a boy kind of human. He had killed that human before, put him on a hook for the Master Demon.

The other demon wasn't hooking it though. He was cutting it, and laughing. Calling it that word again, bitch.

Silently, he walked over and picked up the boy-human. The Master Demon and the Voice Inside whispered praises in his ear as he set the human on the meat hook. He turned around to see the other demon there.

"I wasn't done with that one, bitch. Me and Quentin were having a grand old time before you came along."

"Quentin and I…" muttered the human on the hook. The other demon turned and dragged his knives along the inside of the human's thigh.

"Me and Quentin have such fun together… why, when he was younger, I-"

He grabbed the thing in the striped shirt and lifted it up. He should have known it wasn't a demon when it talked. He plunged his knife into its chest, pushing deeper, deeper, nearly enough to come out the back.

For a moment, the Voice Inside was quiet. But after a few seconds, it came back. He threw the dead thing to the ground. He had hoped maybe killing one of the pretend demons would make the voice go away forever. The voice said it would once he killed his other sister. But it was not even as quiet as it was when he killed a human. Pretend demons are good, humans are better, family is best.

In the distance, a light went on. He looked up from the corpse of the annoying pretend demon and began looking for a human.

Chapter Text

Adiris felt herself pulled to the fire again. She sighed as she walked towards the cauldron of putrid pus that sat in the middle of her temple. She hated to profane her body with the plague, but it was what her new master required in exchange for their protection of her people. She reached her hands into the vat and shivered as the cold, slimy goo crawled over her arms. She felt the infection seeping into her body, her skin warping and cracking and her throat shifting and strengthening. But the worst was when she felt the infection reach her mind.

Adiris had come to the conclusion that the plague was not truly a disease, but rather an uncountable number of creatures so small she could not pick out an individual. She knew this because she could feel their primal urges when she was their host. They were quite distinct from the voice of her patron. Where her new god was gentle and subtle, the voice of the plague was painfully direct. It asked her to spread them, feed them, scatter them to the winds so that they may grow and multiply.

The Plague unhooked her censer and walked towards the fire. She scratched a boil. The plague was itching to spread.

She arrived at the fire to see another servant there. He was a very fat man wearing clothes and makeup unlike anything she had even heard of, much less seen. The Plague supposed she would have to get along with him. "<We are The Plague, servant of The Savior, Priestess of Babylon and Guardian of its people. What shall I call you?>".

"Huh? The hell are you sayin', lady? Is that fuckin' Chinese or some shit? You speak English?" The Clown trailed off into a fit of coughing.

The Plague had no idea what the man was saying. But he was coughing a lot, so she supposed he was sick. Perhaps he was like her, making a deal to save his people from disease! The face paint and odd clothes must be the ceremonial garb of his land. "<Though I may not understand your language, I understand your plight, fellow guardian. Together, we shall perform our duties, share our burdens, and protect our people.>"

"Yeah, whatever lady. Just steer clear of the gas, okay? If you get bleach in your eyes, don't come crying to me. Jesus, the first guy was a lot nicer. Glad I kept him. He got a little dirt under his nails, but not… that…" he said, waving his hand at The Plague.

The Plague assumed he was making a similar conclusion to her own and guessed his hand motions must be invoking a blessing from his gods. She wished she could grant him some proper rituals, but she had not the materials nor, based on the fog creeping up their legs, the time. The Plague said a quick prayer and prepared to do her duty.

------

What the fuck was all over this damn gen? It was covered in fucking barf! It must've been that new lady who looked like a rotten pumpkin, but tall. How the hell did she even fit that much vomit in her? The gen itself was half done, but there's no way he was touching that shit. Why couldn't she just stab people like a normal killer? He swore he heard her vomiting on someone.

Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw a survivor, making a break for a window. Already injured, perfect! The Clown whipped a bottle of gas at the window and moved forward. Detective Tapp leaped through the window, but was sent sprawling as The Clown's knife bit into his back. 

The Clown stepped through the window, laughing and coughing. He picked up the detective, slinging him over his shoulder, and began looking for a hook. Then he heard a retching sound and felt something warm and wet on his back.

He dropped Tapp in surprise and disgust. "Did you just puke on me you little shit?" Screamed The Clown.

Tapp looked up at the killer and spat at The Clown's feet. He just laughed and rolled away as The Clown aimed a kick at his face. 

The Clown reached down to grab Tapp again, who responded by looking up at The Clown with tired, almost bored expression and muttered "I'll fuckin' do it again."

The Clown paused, considering his options. In the end, he decided barf lady could clean up her own messes. With two rough slashes The Clown cut through Tapp's Achilles Tendons and walked away to find new prey.

------

Ace was running away from The Plague with all the energy he had. As he vaulted through a window he wished for the umpteenth time that he'd taken better care of himself. He wasn't unfit, but he'd enjoyed more than a few cigarettes in his day and now it felt like his lungs were filled with ashes and embers.

Fortunately, they were on Coldwind Farm, and the cowshed had a window in the back that forced the killers to go around or awkwardly duck their way through. Either way, Ace was feeling confident. 

Then as he jumped through the window yet again he heard a wet rumble as black spikes appeared over it behind him. Time for a new plan, he decided as The Plague stepped through behind him.

Then Ace heard a grunt and he screamed as a bottle shattered against his head. Pink gas swirled around him and he felt disoriented and sick as it filled his lungs. 

Then Ace heard an agonized scream. For a moment he thought Jane had been hit, but both of the killers were on him and that wasn't her voice. As he stumbled out of the gas and his vision returned to normal, Ace saw a truly strange sight. 

The Plague was writhing and screaming on the ground in the gas. Then she began vomiting, but not her usual Vile Purge, nor her Corrupt Purge. It was just a lot of disgusting slime coming out of her mouth. As this happened, Ace noticed her body seemed to heal. Boils shrank and vanished, festering wounds closed, and pus seemed to evaporate. As the gas cleared, all Ace saw there was a tall woman of middle eastern descent sitting there, panting from exhaustion. 

------

"<What have you done?>" screamed Adiris. She had never served without the plague in her. She didn't know if she'd have the strength to do what needed to be done, physically or mentally. She saw one of the targets staring at her, frozen. Then she saw the fat priest walking towards her.

"<You imbecile!>" shouted Adiris. "<What perversion of nature have you performed? I am undone! And without my protection, Babylon is doomed! Every target I sacrifice is a thousand of my people saved!>"

"I dunno what you're sayin', toots, but at this point I don't care. You're fucking gross, and that's coming from me." said The Clown as he swiped at Adiris with his knife. Adiris brought us her arm and the knife cut her forearm instead of her face, but The Clown just laughed and swung again.

Adiris tried to fight back, but without the strength of the plague within her the censer felt so heavy. Her counterattacks were easily dodged by The Clown. Then he stabbed her in the shoulder and Adiris cried out, falling backwards as she dropped the censer. The Clown kicked her in the face and she fell backwards. He stood over her, painted frown distorted by the scarily real grin beneath. 

"You're a pretty little thing when you're cleaned up, huh? Nice jugs. Legs for days. And pretty little fingers. I'll definitely be taking one for my collection. But first, I think we'll have some fun…"

The Clown kneeled over her, pinning Adiris in place with his immense weight. The Clown leered over her, and then-

WHAM! Adiris saw the side of The Clown's head cave in as her censer smashed into it. He collapsed on top of her before being rolled off of her by the target who had been staring at her. He was holding her censer and looking at her with wariness.

Adiris just sat there, dumbfounded. She did not begrudge her targets running from her. They obviously didn't understand their role. And yet, one of them had saved her from being violated by that thing. This one, she would never kill again. She was in his debt, and she feared if she repaid his help with harm, worse things than the plague would descend upon Babylon. And with the help of the plague this trial, there was not much she could do. She bowed to her protector and then kneeled and began praying.

------

Ace was confused. Whacking The Clown had been the obvious choice once his intentions were clear. Nobody deserved that. Not even killers. And besides, caving in The Clown's head had felt so good. But The Plague wasn't attacking him or even resuming her hunt. She was just kneeling and talking, facing the dark sky.

"Hey, um, do you speak English?" asked Ace, garnering no response. "Español? Français? Deutsch?"

Seeing no reaction, Ace mentally shrugged and slowly backed away. He wondered what the other survivors would make of this.

 

Chapter Text

It was time again. The Hillbilly could feel it. It huffed as it picked up its chainsaw. It wished the people would just leave it alone. It was a monster. An it. The survivors ran from it. Its family hated it. That man with the hat hurt it. It just wanted to be alone. Alone was easy, comfortable, safe.

It approached the fire, and froze. It couldn't believe what it saw: another it. It had a chainsaw. It had a hammer. It didn't look like a human. It was so happy!

It had never tried to talk before. It had never had a reason to. But now it had another it. 

The Hillbilly cleared its throat, and tried to call out a greeting. Its "Hi!" came out as a low groan, but it got the attention of the Other nonetheless. The Other turned to look at it. The Hillbilly loped towards the Other as the Other stood up, head cocked, and approached at an awkward waddle. The two of them awkwardly looked at each other, before The Hillbilly dropped its weapons and cautiously reached a hand out. 

The Other began sniffing it. The Hillbilly liked that. The Other must be like the cat. When it got free, the cat didn't run from it. The cat just sniffed it, purred, and went back to sleep. The Other didn't feel like the cat, but it awkwardly pet The Other's arm anyway before realizing the fog was already creeping around their waists.

 

------

 

Claudette was feeling uneasy as she repaired a generator nestled between two stacks of things that appeared to be crushed cars, if you were standing 30 feet away and didn't look for too long. She hadn't heard or sensed anything. She finished the gen and crept away. A whole generator on her own, with no toolbox, and she hadn't sensed anyone be injured, heard a roar or snap or a clang, or seen a looming figure in the distance. 

She rounded a corner and stopped immediately. Sitting on the ground next to a generator were The Cannibal and The Hillbilly. Claudette's first instinct was to just walk away. But she remembered seeing The Hillbilly curled up and trembling beneath The Nightmare. And he had let her go, after saving her from that sadistic sicko. 

Slowly, Claudette approached the two, noting they had both left their weapons forgotten on the ground. At least that would buy her a few seconds if things went south. The pair saw her at the same time and for a second everyone froze.

Then The Cannibal stood, grabbing his weapons, and started moving towards Claudette. She was about to bolt when she heard a rough, twisted voice shout "No!"

The Hillbilly stood between The Cannibal and Claudette. 

"No." The Hillbilly intoned again, with a little less urgency. "That one… good. He… nice!" 

"You remember!" Whispered Claudette. "Hi. Um, my name is Claudette. I don't want to hurt you."

The Cannibal stopped, a look of confusion across his face. He dropped his mallet and pointed at Claudette. "Name… Claudette? Me is… me AM… Bubba. Sawyer."

Claudette smiled widely. "Yes! I am Claudette. You are Bubba. What is your name?" she asked, turning towards The Hillbilly. 

"No. No na- name. I monster. I it. Not she. Not he. Not we."

"Nonononono, you are not a monster! If you don't have a name you can pick one! You are not an it, everyone has a name."

"No name. Daddy… hate me. I ugly. I bad."

Claudette had never expected she would want to hug a killer, and yet, here she was only holding back because she doubted The Hillbilly was familiar with the concept of hugs.

"That's okay! You can pick a name!" Said Claudette. 

Then two things happened at once. First, Bill came around the corner and went slack-jawed, cigarette tumbling to the ground. Second, there was a bleep as the last generator was powered on. Claudette saw panic fill Bubba's eyes and he grabbed his hammer and saw with a shriek. 

"Wait! No! This is Bill! He's-" Claudette stopped talking as she ducked and rolled away from a swing of Bubba's mallet. Then she heard a roar as The Hillbilly body slammed Leatherface. 

"Claudette… Nice!" The Hillbilly yelled as Bill grabbed her by the wrist and began running towards an exit gate. They heard the sound of splintering wood and more cries as they arrived at a gate that Dwight almost had opened.

"Another weird double?" Asked Dwight. Claudette nodded. 

"There's been a lot of those." Mused Bill. "Maybe we should have a meeting to figure stuff out."