Collin awoke.

Blinking blearily, he tried to make out just what had happened. He was still in his hotel room, laying near the door. Was their new home not ready yet? How much longer were they going to have to wait.

He tried to get up, but couldn't. He was too disoriented, his memories and thoughts swirling incomprehensibly in his mind. He knew something big had happened, but he couldn't remember what...

Everything looked a lot bigger from down on the floor. Maybe he should get up, he thought to himself.

He tried again to get up, but found that he actually physically could not. His legs weren't responding. Getting nervous, he opened his mouth to call for help. All that came out was an unearthly gurgling.

Suddenly fear struck him as he began to wonder what was wrong with him. Looking down, he saw not his normal body, but a mass of green and purple slime.

Then he remembered that he was no longer human. The intense pain, the horror, the transformation, all of it came flooding back.

Uncertain of what to do with this situation, all alone, and in a new, frightening body, he cried. For at least an hour or more, he did nothing but cry, a sobbing, wet puddle of patheticness.

Eventually, his tears dried, and he decided that he needed to form a plan. His father's lectures floating back through his mind, he decided that crying wouldn't help him accomplish anything or get him out of this.

But it seemed so hopeless.....

After another twenty minutes of pathetically weeping, Collin steeled what little resolve he had.

He decided that his first goal would be to try to move. Having a goal to work towards always made him feel a bit better. Trying to focus on whatever senses he still had in this new body, he eventually managed to produce a sort of oozing motion.

Moving as a slime felt WEIRD. It wasn't like you had any specific muscles or joints you controlled, you were just thrust into controlling a big amorphous mass of senses. But regardless, Collin had managed to regain mobility. Mentally, he made a small "huzzah!"before slowly oozing out of the suite and into the hallway of the hotel, figuring it was about time to get out of this place.

The hotel showed every sign of being abandoned. In addition to having the decorations and furniture be mostly broken or overturned, it seemed as though the whole place had somehow gotten grayer. Collin, taking in his surroundings, wondered just how long he had been unconcious. Crawling to the end of the hall, he looked up at the elevator, blinking meekly at how high up the buttons seemed to him. It hadn't occurred to him that the elevators were probably out of service.

Subsequently, he spent the next five or ten minutes struggling with his new body to try and pull himself up to the point where he could reach the buttons. Upon doing so, his brief joy was quickly extinguished when the elevator didn't respond.

And so, he soon found himself staring blankly at the stairs leading down before tenatively sliding his way down, eventually reaching the lobby, which, predictably, had the same abandoned atmosphere, which was only enhanced by how large the place was. Collin blinked, and started scooting over towards the door, fearful thoughts filling his head as he wondered what sort of state the city had fallen into.

The city seemed even bigger now than it was before. As Collin slowly trudged along, his sole eye shifting about constantly, he couldn't help but take in the overwhelmingly desolate and ominous atmosphere around him. The once constantly-busy streets and sidewalks where people hustled, bustled, and occasionally did cocaine were completely empty, the only things left being trash, tipped-over garbage pails, and the occasional haphazardly-placed car left behind in the rush to escape. The city wasn't dark, or bright, but instead a depressing in-between tone of sepia. Where advertisements and the sound of voices constantly filled the air there was nothing but silence, the only noise being the static of nonfunctioning televisions, wind, and garbage skipping across the pavement, as well as the occasional distant, alien sounds of what were presumably the former humans left in the city. Collin tried his hardest to ignore them. Finally, looking up, Collin came to look at the massive, purple cloud that had come to engulf the city's skies, swirling and crackling ominously with whatever mysterious power it held. Silently, Collin pondered about just what it was and what had caused it.

A sudden snarling caught his attention, and Collin snapped out of it and looked down the street. A series of large white figures were hurtling down along the sidewalk in his direction. Praying to god they weren't out to get him, Collin awkwardly hurled himself sideways into a nearby alley, landing with a noisy "splap" and spattering a few bits of himself on the ground, which naturally began crawling back to the rest of his body. Collin turned his eye around and peeped out in time to see what appeared to be a group of giant flying sperm cells with fanged, slavering maws tear past at top speed, presumably looking for a metaphorical egg of some sort. A few moments of silence passed as Collin wondered what sort of people they had to have been to become something so bizarre.

Eventually, he crawled out of the alley and continued down the street, passing a strange, extremely tall and gaunt creature as it wandered down the street on a pair of stubby legs. Its noodle-like main body stretched up for far too long before ending in a gaunt ribcage, on top of which was a large, round head with six fleshy tendrils hanging from it and a massive, half-lidded eye. It turned and looked at Collin before deciding he was not of interest, then continued meandering aimlessly, emitting an ominous breathing sound. Collin stared as it passed, feeling as though he were in some sort of bizarre dream. His mind wandered as he did, taking in the sights as he distantly wandered throughout the city for an unknown period of time, unsure of what to make of all this.

"Oi, what's this pitiful little thing?" a callous, nasally voice came from behind Collin. Collin, suddenly shocked and excited at the thought of a surviving human, whirled around, and suddenly his heart sunk as he found himself face to face with more monsters.

The voice turned out to have come from one of a pair of what could best be described as patchwork imps. They were quite small, and had a sack-like, patched-up cloth body which rested on a pair of small, pointed legs. Their arms were literally nothing but threads, and ended in two-fingered, glove-like hands. Their heads were perfectly spherical, and while they had no eyes, they had a large mouth formed of what appeared to be a gaping tear in the fabric, and a pair of ribbons trailing from their heads. One of them was frowning quizzically, while the other was smirking and had both hands resting on where its hips would be if its body wasn't a sack.

Standing stoically between them was a massive, round....thing. Its body was an almost perfect sphere of flesh, with its legs being a pair of stumps at the very bottom. At the top, where its head should be there was a jagged ring, in the middle of which there was a featureless half-sphere. On either side of the ring were a pair of round things that could be approximated to shoulders, as they connected to a pair of huge, burly arms covered in stitched-up gloved with an odd design on the fists. Where the gloves weren't covering its arms, it could be seen that they were merely gnarled lumps of flesh. What was most noticable about it, though, was the massive exposed heart, which rested in a large, veiny cavity in the center of its spherical body. It looked extremely powerful.

"Whatcha think you're doing here, punk? This is our turf." The smirking one spoke again in its jackass voice.

Collin, desperate to avoid confrontation, tried to speak out and explain that he didn't know, but once again merely produced a gurgling noise. The smirking imp chuckled.

"Can't talk, eh? Oh well." He patted the burly round thing on the arm, and it slammed one of its fists into its palm in a menacing gesture. Collin shrank back as much as he could.

"Wait a minute," said the other imp, who had been closely examining Collin the whole time. The jackass imp and the round thing stopped and turned to look at him with their eyeless faces. "This little thing may be useful. Let's bring him to the boss."

"The boss? Are you kiddin'?" The first imp responded skeptically. "He'll be all like 'Why did you bring this pitiful bitch bastard here?' and stuff."

"I have an idea. C'mon, let's do it," the second imp urged.

"Well, fine, whatever. Carlton, let's grab 'em and head back to base." the first imp said, giving the stoic round thing another arm pat. It swiftly lumbered over to Collin, who had been making an extremely weak attempt to scoot away, and scooped him up in one of his mammoth palms. The trio then proceeded to walk back the way they came, Collin unwilling to come along for the ride, but fearful of what they would do if he tried to escape.

At length, they reached a dilapidated eatery. Strolling inside, they opened a trapdoor in the floor and headed down, passing another pair of imps guarding a large door. They peered at Collin, and it made him feel extremely uncomfortable.

The base was a cellar, a chaotic den of miscreants and bullies, ill-kept and bizarrely decorated. A series of picnic benches seated more of the imps and round brutes as they ate, chatted, and occasionally got into fistfights with one another. The walls were stained and decorated with random bits of jewelry and paintings that were blatantly looted, and the rafters, for whatever reason, were hung with christmas lights. There were four doors on either side of the main room, some of which were barely kept on their hinges. Having spent most of his life in prim, proper houses and hotels, the place made Collin feel extremely uneasy. His uneasiness only amplified when he saw where they were taking him.

At the back of the den there was a podium, and on that podium was some semblence of a throne, in that it was a nice chair covered in more looted wealth. And on that throne sat the leader.

The leader, much like the imps, was made of patchwork, but was at least four times taller than them; the size of a normal person. Much like them, he had a sack-like main body and small, pointed legs, but his head was much more ovular, and in addition to the jagged mouth (which, in its case, was filled with eerily human-like teeth), it had a pair of empty white eyes and curved, devil-like horns. Its arms were also like those of a plush toy, one of which ended in a mitten-like palm, the other one being slightly thicker and ending in a two-fingered claw. To complete the image, he had a small, devil-like tail. In his mitten-like palm he clutched a bottle of some sort.

He watched with mild curiousity as the trio walked up to the podium, Carlton gently lowering Collin to the ground. Then the three of them bowed. Collin, not wanting to look disrespectful, also attempted to bow, which resulted in him sinking down even further than he already was.

"We've returned with a new find, leader," the imp who suggested taking Collin said reverently. The Leader peered down at Collin. Deep down, Collin loathed being looked down on by someone like him.

The Leader, not one to mince words, immediately responded "Why did you bring this pitiful bitch bastard here?" He then took a swig from his bottle before fixing his skeptical, downward glance on them.

"See, told you," the jackass-voiced imp muttered. The other imp looked slightly taken aback before responding.

"I thought he would be helpful for cracking that safe we were having trouble with."

Collin, shocked at the thought of him doing something as difficult (or illegal) as cracking a safe, whirled around to look at the imp before feeling the leader's gaze on him and turning back to him. He had gotten up out of his throne and strolled over to kneel and look down on the crawling, one-eyed puddle that was Collin. For a few moments, the two did nothing but stare at each other; The Leader curiously, Collin nervously.
Eventually, The Leader broke his gaze and looked over to the trio.

"All right, lets give it a shot. You three, we're going over to the safe now." The Leader got back up to his feet-equivalents and started strolling through the main hall to the exit. Collin barely had time to turn and look before being scooped back up by Carlton and carried out the door.

A few twist and turns throughout the ruined city later, they found themselves within the cellar of a Casino, staring down a monumental safe. Collin blinked, wondering just how he was going to pull this off. He began feeling even more nervous than he normally was.

"So, punkass, what was your idea for opening this thing?" The Leader asked, looking skeptically at the imps. He had left his alcohol behind and was getting even bitchier than normal.

The more reasonable of the two looked up at him. "I heard that most safes nowadays have emergency releases inside them. Y'know, in case anyone winds up locked inside." The Leader continued to look skeptical. "So...so I was thinking, maybe this little guy could ooze inside under the crack and unlock it from the inside," the imp finished tenatively.

Everyone else looked at Collin. Collin looked at all of them nervously. There was a pause.

"Well? Get on it!" The Leader shouted at Collin after a moment's silence. Collin, after wincing fearfully, scooted over to the safe door as quickly as he could, stopping to examine it for a way in. He had a horrible feeling about doing this, and he was uncertain if he could even control himself well enough to go under, but he had no choice.

Closing his eye, he focused as he slipped the first bit of his slime under the door....

Soon he reopened his eye, and was met with darkness. After blinking for a bit, he managed to make out some vague shapes; one of which looked like a large handle emerging from the door. Trying to focus and figure out more about this new body, he eventually figured out how to jump, and leapt onto it, clinging fast as his weight tilted it down.

Soon there was a large CHACLUNK noise of the safe unlocking. A few moments later, the door was swung wide open by Carlton, and the rest of them rushed inside, cackling with greedy glee. Collin, figuring his work was done here, dropped off the handle and started scooting away as fast as he could, hoping to resume his quest to get the hell out of this city.

"OI! Where do you think you're going?! We ain't done with you!" The Leader shouted from amidst the piles of money. Collin cringed (as much as he could, anyway), and turned to look back at them before trying to continue to scoot away.

The next thing he knew he was scooped up and shoved into a malleable, plastic prison. Looking around and trying his hardest to escape, he soon realized that he had been unceremoniously grabbed and shoved into a freaking ziploc bag.

"Good thing you grabbed that before we left, I guess." Collin heard the muffled voice of the jackass imp through the walls of the bag.

"See? You gotta think ahead." The other imp responded as the gang went lumbering back to their base with several large sacks of cash and a small baggie of goo.

The first thing the Leader did upon reaching the base was bring to everyone's attention that the safe had been opened. Soon there was a massive scuttling of tiny, pointed legs, and the main hall was abandoned as the rest of the crew went to finish ransacking the place of every last cent.

"I'll be taking that now, thanks," Collin heard before being jostled all over the place as The Leader grabbed his baggie and strolled off to his personal quarters.

When they got there, he immediately unzipped the back and dumped Collin out, causing him to land with a SPLAP on the stained cement floor. After taking a few seconds to reorient himself, he looked up at The Leader, who had kneeled again to look at him. Even when kneeling he was a good several feet taller than him.

"That was dumb, kid." The Leader hissed. Collin backed away slightly. "You think you have a chance out there, all by yourself? You're pathetic." Collin looked down at the floor meekly. The Leader looked down at the floor as well, as something had evidently caught his eye. Where Collin had landed, the food stains on the floor had disappeared. Collin then realized, that without him intending to, his body had broken down and eaten the stain, absorbing what little nutrients were left in it. He felt extremely embarrassed. The Leader, on the other hand, smirked.

"You could be useful to us. All you have to do just stay around here and help us break into places we can't reach and scoot around the main hall. We get money and free cleaning; you get protection and a free meal. Sounds like a good deal, if you ask me," The Leader said smugly.

Collin didn't feel so confident. Shifting his eyes, he noticed a world map pinned up on the wall. The Leader noticed his sudden shift in attention.

"You wanna get out of here?" He asked, seemingly innocently. Collin, hoping desperately The Leader wasn't such a bad guy, nodded as best he could. His small shred of hope instantly died when The Leader instead adopted a disgusted scowl.

"Forget it. There's no way you'll be able to get out of this place. Besides, even if you did, what then? Nobody would accept you; you'd only be loathed and rejected. After all, you ain't human anymore." The Leader said, evidently extremely determined to crush Collin's hopes. "Stick with us kid; soon enough, we'll be kings of this city." He smirked again. "Are you in, or are you just going to wander this until you starve to death?"

Collin sank down. A deep pain filled his heart as he realized that the Leader was right. There was no way he could get out, or be accepted, or even live a normal life anymore...

Having no other choice, he nodded and joined the gang.

In his days in the gang, Collin thought to himself frequently about just how far he had fallen from his normal life. He once a normal, if wealthy, schoolkid who spent the majority of his time studying, working towards his goals of being a worthy successor of the Ampersand family fortune.

Now, he was a one-eyed puddle of ooze, incapable of speech, helping a gang by breaking open safes and things from the inside out and crawling around the main hall, eating stains and dropped table scraps just to keep from starving to death and to keep from being killed by lord knows what sort of abominations roamed the city streets.

Some of the gang members were more generous, often giving him parts of their meals as rewards after successful heists. Though they were hardly as good as the lavish meals he was used to, and it made him feel like a dog, he was nonetheless grateful.

Many others saw him as a fun new toy to screw with.

"Hey, spoogebucket! Heads up!" was all that Collin heard before being splattered into dozens of tiny globs by a large gold bar lobbed from somewhere in the main hall. Raucous laughter from several of the imps promptly followed. Internally, Collin sighed and began gathering his bits of himself back together.

If there was one good thing that came from this, it was that over the many days and weeks that passed in their company, Collin had been adapting more and more to controlling his new slimy body. He had learned to move faster than a slow scoot, climb up the side of walls, jump, and alter his shape and height. Many times he experimented with this, but it took a significant amount of effort to maintain any form other than that of a crawling puddle. Besides....

"HEY, LOOK! The slithering spooge wants to be a human again!" one of The Miscreants howled, a small group of them having walked in on him as he was attempting to perfect a humanoid form(They hadn't given him a room; he just slept in the main hall when everyone had left). Collin whirled around, mortified, to look at them, and they all proceeded to burst into more raucous, howling laughter at the thought of a pathetic thing like him wanting to be human again. Collin, feeling depressed once again, slowly sank back down into a puddle and resumed scooting around the floor eating stains, moping all the while. The thought of vengeance began gnawing at him.

At that moment, one of the tall, gangly, one-eyed freaks Collin had seen earlier slowly slid in through the door of the main entrance, gaining the attention of everyone inside. However, there was a big difference between the one that had passed Collin and this one; its massive, single eye was furrowed in anger. For a long time it had been residing nearby, and the constant ruckus of the imps had been frustrating it: but now, it had snapped, and the full force of The Hatred was about to be unleashed. One of the imps, obviously unimpressed, stepped forwards.

"Oi, what the hell do you want? Where the hell are the guards?" it asked irritably, pointing an accusing finger at the thing.

The answer came in the form of a piercing red beam that shot from The Hatred's eye, tearing a small hole in the imp's body. The imp writhed and screamed in pain as the hole in its body quickly grew, its screams getting more intense until the hole completely consumed it, leaving nothing behind. The rest of The Miscreants stared horrified, before grimacing angrily and lunging towards The Hatred in a team attack. The Hatred was not impressed.

One by one the thin red beam shot through them, leaving them to die as their bodies dissolved into nothingness.

Collin felt a wave of fear as The Hatred turned towards him. Its expression seemed to soften for a second before once again it decided he was not of interest and turning to walk through the main hall. Collin thought he would be safe here...was that just a lie?

Before anything else could happen though, a small ball of energy swiftly shot through the air and crashed into The Hatred, engulfing him in a disproportionately large explosion. As The Hatred teetered, Collin looked to see where it had come from.

It was The Leader, standing on the podium in the center of the room. Scowling, he held up his claw arm, and energy sparked through his claws before converging in the center of his claw as another small ball of energy. Hurling it with pinpoint accuracy, it exploded on The Hatred again, snapping its noodle-like body cleanly in two.

As more Miscreants came to cheer for their leader and get to work on defiling their fallen enemy, Collin felt his heart sink upon realizing just how powerful The Leader really was.

More days passed in the gang, as Collin ate scraps, broke into places, and was abused. But something was different. Deep in his heart, a fire was growing.

Eventually, one day The Leader summoned everyone to the main hall to make an announcement. Collin stared at him hatefully, growing sicker and sicker of dealing with this crap.

"Attention, my loyal followers!" He began, holding his mismatched arms high above his head. "The time for our rise to power is now! Today, with our resources and our own overwhelming power, we will make this city OURS!"

The Miscreants and round burly things (which Collin decided were The Bullies) cheered and pumped their fists in the air, oblivious to the fact that his plan had no real planning or made any damn sense. Collin stewed in his hatred for this overpowered jackass.

He didn't know shit about planning. He was just using his power to fulfill his pointless greed, even though money had no use in this place anymore. Even with his followers and that nasty energy ball-blowy-uppy thing, he had no chance of conquering this whole city.

"Very soon, when we fight to the city hall-"

THEN WHAT?! Collin mentally screamed.

Suddenly, everyone turned to him, and Collin realized that, instead of saying that mentally, he had suddenly regained the ability to speak and shouted it out loud.

"What?" The Leader growled. Soon, the rest of the crowd managed to jostle him up onto the podium, face to face with The Leader.

Collin was scared.

But he knew he was right.

"I said, 'then what'?" Collin said, his voice wavering slightly.

The Leader scoffed "Well, OBVIOUSLY, once we take command of city hall, we'll be able to take control of the rest of-"

"That won't work." Collin interrupted him, causing the crowd to gasp and The Leader to look at him. Though he hadn't realized it, Collin was rising back up into his humanoid form.
"None of this will work. What makes you think simply having city hall will make a difference? What makes you think the monsters won't just massacre you and all your followers? What is the POINT of having all this MONEY when THERE'S NO USE FOR ANY OF IT? Did you even think ANY of this through AT ALL?!"

Admittedly, The Leader hadn't. He was still running on punk logic, wherein being able to kill dudes and having lots of money immediately equated to success. He wasn't able to see that though, and definitely wasn't going to admit it. He growled.
"Of course I did. We'll be able to make every monster obey us, or we'll...we'll kill them! There's more of us than them-"

"NO THERE AREN'T." Collin immediately pointed out. "Leader, if you try and do this, chances are that you, and all of your followers, will die."

The Leader had enough of this, his face screwing up into a disgusted scowl. Since when did this little punk bitch know everything? The crowd, also getting angry at the insulting of their leader, were preparing to swarm onto the stage and try to beat the crap out of him.

"SHUT UP, YOU LITTLE SPINELESS BITCH!" The Leader said, swinging his claw arm at Collin. Collin suddenly panicked, remembering that he could sort of kill you if he wanted to.

The claws slashed Collin's face wide open.

It just made him more determined.

Suddenly, a jet of slime shot forth, engulfing The Leader's face and slamming him forcefully up against the wall. His tiny legs kicked furiously as Collin, his face screwed up in a determined grimace, stared at him with all the repressed rage he had built up over the past month.

The crowd gasped and pulled back. Collin, who was once a mere puddle, had suddenly changed into a full-on slime boy. And, with one slimy arm, he was choking their Leader to death.

The Leader's eyes went wide as he clawed furiously at Collin's arm to no avail, as it merely oozed and dripped around his hands. Feeling fear for possibly the first time, The Leader looked, terrified, into Collin's hate-filled face. There was no stopping him now.

"Listen to me." He began. "You have no real power. You know what you are? You're a sad, stupid sack hiding in a cellar with a bunch of imbeciles, no real goal, and a bunch of worthless shiny objects. I'm going to try to find a way out of this place, and though I may be weak, and though I may die....I am NOWHERE near as pathetic as you are."

With that, he released his grip on the Leader. Having been thoroughly deprived of oxygen, he immediately collapsed to the ground, unconcious, or possibly dead. Deep down, Collin was still afraid: of the monsters, of what he just did, of even himself. But there was no backing down now.

Collin turned to the rest of the crowd, who was staring at him, mortified. Collin briefly wondered if this was just going to make them all try to kill him, but thankfully, they all instantly parted to give him room as he exited the gang's base, never to return.

When he exited the base, Collin, panicked, ran to the nearest alley. He needed time to think about what he just did.

This wasn't like him. He always went with the flow and avoided confrontation. He always held it in when people were wrong. He also certainly never almost choked someone to death.
He was scared.

But...he was right. They were wrong. And he had proven it, and it came out to his advantage. Slowly, he looked down on himself to see his new body. He now had definite arms, a torso, and, feeling around, a head. He would have to find a mirror at some point to find out just what he looked like now.

In a strange way, he felt extremely elated, then immediately repressed it when he realized this wasn't what he was supposed to do. But there was no backing down now. He had made the stand.

He felt extremely conflicted.

Finally, shoving his confused thoughts to the side, he decided that he was going to follow up on his word.

He was going to find a way out.

Feeling a mixture of hope, fear, anxiety, and a slew of other things, he began walking down the street once more.

------CHAPTER 1 - END