Entries are sporadic, but this is the first log of a ToEE adventure that somehow turned into an Expedition to the Silver Mount. You can find it here.
- The Rogue – Giselle der Gauner (character #2, pervious character was Mirka the Rogue)
- The Monk – Augusta “Tof” Bamberger and her henchmen Elmo the Ranger and pet pug General Puggins.
- The Druid – Lilie the Elf and her henchmen Wolfram and animal companion Fuyuko the white wolf.
- The Knight – Lintelfaden Toshcobble, squire of Rufus the Bold.
- The Fighter – Fencil (Character #2, previous character was a cleric) and his henchmen Zof the Jarhead Wizard.
- The Ranger – Bustov Daman and his animal companion The Mou-Mou Bird (bloodthirsty sparrow).
- The Wizard – Boris the Jaws-Dodger.
- The Cleric – Lorenz Brandt (character #2), the scribe.
“So that’s everyone?” Gisella asked, closing her notebook.
The rest of the party looked over their new belongings and treasures and nodded; satisfied with the outcome of their most recent battle. A team of 11, an unlikely band of misfits from the same village, all with their differences and peculiarities, had come together to battle against a dangerous threat. The elemental temples were trying to unleash a primordial menace that could destroy any who opposed them with ease. That was why the team decided to explore a spaceship.
Lorenz, the silver-haired devotee of the Golden Goddess UNITY, struggled to comprehend all of their missions together. He was the only one not from their village and had joined on the ship.
“So why are you guys here? In this ship?” he asked, confused. As the newest addition to the party and an inhabitant of the ship, he was trying to wrap his head around their goal in this dangerous place.
“This place has so much technology that we can use against the elemental cults,” Gisella explained. She was the rogue of the party, and from what Lorenz could tell, was constantly brimming with ideas. “There’s a place in here called the manufactorum; a machine we can use to create powerful weapons.”
The man known as Bustov flicked back his hair in a show of pazazz. Wielding the tried and true bow and arrow, he supported from afar with ranged attacks, but wasn’t afraid to go up close and personal if he had to. His strange cat-like eyes overflowed with confidence.
“A gene-splicer!” he announced. “On level 10 of this ship there is a gene-splicer! If we can get that, we can splice our genes!”
Fensal twirled his new pistol around his finger, “It’s definitely useful and we should try to find it.”
With the goal in mind, they continued to push deeper into the spaceship. Even though it was destroyed and broken, its long lost technology still continued to fulfill its purpose. Small lights would turn on as they passed through, rendering torches useless while they were guided by the glow. In perfect synchronization, the way behind them would dim and the lights would shut as new ones sensed their passage and turned on. Technology mixed with nature as undergrowth had taken over the walls and even sprouted on the ground, creating a carpet of grass against the hard, metal floors. Walls were lined with vines, a few flowers sprouting upon them and displaying a myriad of colors to the world. Lorenz slipped out the holy symbol of UNITY. The tablet lit up and he snuck some screenshots of the natural beauty before him.
Pretty, Lorenz thought. Kinda glad I found this weird group, I would’ve missed this.. I just lived off of what UNITY provided; I wonder what else is out there?
The gorgeous scenery was ruined when he casted a glance toward Zof, a warlock who carried heads in jars around to cast spells. Lorenz couldn’t get used to the fact that everyone casually traveled with a terrifying individual. There had to be some history he wasn’t aware of because he would have never dreamed of associating with such a person.
On the bright side, Augusta, the monk, and Lilie, the druid, seemed to be pretty carefree about everything, chatting and laughing together. Extremely close friends who seldom left each others’ company, the two seemed the youngest of the party and always brightened the mood. Two knights always followed close behind, ready and alert for any sign of danger. The one known as Elmo stood close by Augusta while Wolfram took his place by Lilie’s side.
Lorenz tuned in to hear Bustov laughing at Fensal again and again, constantly poking fun at his name, stature, or anything else he could find.
“But it is Pencil!” Bustov laughed.
Fensal shook his head. “I don’t see what’s wrong with my name!”
“Hahaha, nothing is wrong, Pencil!”
Even so, they both had smiles on their faces so no harm done. Playful banter and neither of them were afraid of taking a hit or letting words get to them.
That leaves Boris, the Jaws-dodger, Lorenz mulled. Jaws-dodger… Jaws dodger? Does he dodge jaws?
Quiet and always behind everyone, Boris was in a state of constant study. The wizard book was open, and he scratched his chin, as if he was searching for hidden arcane answers. A small pseudo-dragon rested on his shoulder and occasionally distracted him from his work, enjoying a quick scratch on the chin before falling back asleep.
“Do you know where we are going, Gisella?” Fensal asked, ignoring Bustov for the time being.
“Kind of,” she replied, not taking her eyes off her map sketch of the area. “There are multiple layers to this ship so we need to find a way down. That’s what we’re looking for right-”
Although no one noticed it, Gisella’s heightened senses and training allowed her to spot in the faintest of movement in the brush. Something was moving, a whole swarm of enemies was lurking in the bushes. Alone they weren’t a threat but when they banded together, even primitive creatures like them could prove to be dangerous.
She reached for the gun on her back and charged the battery. “Something is coming!”
It was too late. Over a dozen veggiepygmies leapt out from their positions and swarmed the entire party, weaving in and out of the ensuing chaos. They never fought one to one, and instead opted for hit-and-run tactics, striking at weak points in armor or at any opening they could see. Little green midgets, clothed in leaves, were very vulnerable and could easily die to a single blow but there was strength in numbers.
Bustov smacked one away, struggling to get his bow out for a shot. “Where did they come from?!”
Zof’s hand charged with magical energy and one of the heads glowed. “If I could get a spell off I could blow them to bits-”
An ear-piercing screech followed by dozens of cackling voices warned them of another wave, this was just the first attack.
Gisella touched her forehead and a light-pink glow began to emanate from her temple. “Get off me!”
Six hands were summoned at her will, the result of her telekinetic power, and grappled one pygmy each. Lifting them off the ground as if they were nothing more than ragdolls, they twirled them rapidly in the air before hurling them off down the corridor. The lights sensed them as they flew past and lit up, following as they flew and exploded into small puffs of gas.
Wolfram sent the remaining pygmies flying with his greatsword while Elmo cut them down with ease, finishing off what remained. As soon as they were able to clear the first wave, the source of the painful screeching could be seen. A horde almost twice the size of the first attack rushed towards them, led by a larger and confident leader. With a roar the others rallied to his cry and all fear of death vanished.
“Ow, that hurts,” Lorenz muttered. His magical healing flowed throughout his body and his wounds closed before his eyes. “Blessed be UNITY. I’ll back off and heal from afar, the others outshine me completely in melee.”
Bustov was already up a nearby tree, concealed in the foliage, lining up a clear shot on the leader. “I can finally get some space to attack from here. One shot is all I’ll need.
Lorenz expected Boris to join him behind the knights but the wizard ran straight past him, past Elmo and Wolfram, and confronted the horde straight on. Steam rose from his hands and, with a click of his fingers, they were engulfed in a blaze. He channeled the fire, stopped just short of the pygmies, and released his magic that cooked the front-line of the charge, turning them to ash. His dragon familiar followed-up with a breath weapon of its own, taking out the few foes that tried to jump him.
But while all this happened, Zof tried to cast a mighty spell through one of the heads and the power was too great. Out of everyone, his wounds were the worst from the first wave but he didn’t show it or call for healing. A fireball began to rise out of the head’s mouth but was instantly snuffed out, creating nothing but mirror images of himself that soon faded away. The spell misfired and he felt a lethal shock course throughout his body, like his magic was coming back to bite him, and collapsed.
Gisella shot down one of the pygmies from a new position every time, constantly disappearing into the shadows. “Take out the big guy! The rest will scatter if he dies!”
Fensal twirled the gun on his finger and a crimson sightline manifested between Bustov and the veggie leader. “I’ve set you up; take the shot!”
Bustov flicked the hair out of his eye and grinned, releasing the deadly arrow directly for the head. “I don’t miss, Pencil!”
It flew straight and true, piercing directly into the leader’s head. It staggered him, the impact of the shot itself was almost enough to knock him off its feet, but it stamped the ground and hung on. It glared at Bustov and screamed, bringing life back into the pygmies even after Boris terrified them with fire.
Lorenz observed everyone’s positions, focusing on his allies more than the enemies. Gisella was hurt more than the others from the initial wave, the others should be fine without UNITY’s power for now.
Uttering the words of his Goddess, Gisella suddenly felt the pain in her arm vanish and, in fact, new energy entered her body. She wouldn’t let the burst of speed go to waste and aimed for the weakened leader, knowing one more hit would take him out. As she pulled the trigger, one of the pygmies noticed her and leapt to protect their boss, absorbing the shot and exploding into a puff of spores.
“Don’t kill steal!” Bustov laughed and shot again, striking the exact same spot and splitting the first arrow in half. It pierced straight through and hit the tree behind the boss.
With a hole on his head, the veggie leader began to bulge and his body distorted in strange ways. Glowing a dirty orange for a moment, he detonated and released not only toxic spores but a bodily fluid that melted the wildlife around him. The pygmies that it struck screamed in terror as they melted away, destroying the grass below them until it reached the steel floors.
Lilie pinched her nose and backed away from the mess. “Ewww, that’s disgusting.”
Zof’s warlock magic had misfired and his internal organs ruptured from the recoil of the spell. There was no way for Lorenz to heal him, it was too late now, so he was laid to rest beside a tree that was blooming with flowers. After saying their prayers, the party had no choice but to move on, not before they took a strand of his hair, though.
Fensal put the precious strand of hair in a pouch. “We’ll find a cleric strong enough to bring you back. When we get out of here it’s the first thing we’ll do.”
Lorenz glanced a few times behind him as they left Zof. “Do we really have anything important here? I know this place, kinda, and I’d rather not keep going down levels and then die.”
“A gene-splicer is awesome,” Augusta replied.
“And the manufactorum where we create our weapons!” Lilie added.
Lorenz scratched his head, not convinced at all. “Do we even want to… splice out genes or something?!”
“Of course!” Bustov interrupted. “I’ll gene-splice a fire elemental and I’ll be able to turn into fire!”
“Fire elementals don’t have genes though.”
“Shh, don’t say anything.”
Gisella finishes sketching out her map and leads the party on. “The main thing is the manufactorum, that’s what we really want.” Her face lit up thinking about her special weapon; an almost mischievous smile. “I need telekinetic knives.”
The thought of technology did excite Lorenz. “That would be cool. I want a lightsaber or something, or perhaps nanomachines!” He sighed thinking about such amazing relics. “But UNITY has yet to bless me with them.”
Bustov yawned and, making a patch of grass comfortable, plugged his ears and went to sleep.
Augusta cocked her head to one side. “What? What are you doing?”
Fensal didn’t even stop and walked straight past him. “It’s probably daytime now, so he’s going to feel tired. He’s nocturnal after all.”
A telekinetic hand picked him up and carried him along with the rest of the party. This was just something they had to get used to and, with Gisella’s powers, they could just carry him without any effort. Bustov was completely at peace and, through bright lights, laughter, or a bumpy ride, he slept soundly the whole way.
A metal tube caught their eyes and pulled them over to investigate. If memory served them well, the machine could serve as a lift to other floors. They had seen it once when they investigated a smaller spacecraft near their home town, and this seemed to be of the same build as the machine in there. How many levels it would take them was unknown but they hoped it could serve to go down multiple levels.
“Seems like a tight fit,” Boris analysed. “One person at most could fit in this, just like the other ones we had seen.”
“Does it take us up or down?” Augusta murmured, trying to get a good look at the contraption. “I hope it isn’t a one-way elevator.”
Fensal chuckled to himself, rubbing his hands together. “Well! I guess there’s only one-way to find out!”
He felt satisfied as he got a slight chuckle from the team.
“Why?” Lorenz asked, faking disgust by hiding a smile.
Rhythmic thumping from behind pulled their attention to this new, unknown threat. In a place like this, anything and everything had to be treated with caution. Tense and ready, they prepared themselves to take on this encounter.
It was… strange. Eight white monkeys, each with four arms, ran along in two rows, neatly lined up. They seemed to be charging straight towards them but in an orderly fashion, different from any other inhabitant in the city.
Are they intelligent? Lorenz wondered. They seem to have some kind of-
Without remorse or hesitation, Boris ran straight towards them and released a wave of fire, scorching the two gorillas at the front and frying them instantly. The remaining monkeys stared in horror at their dead comrades, looked at Boris, then back, then at him again.
“You killed my coz!” one snapped, clutching his head in anger. “Dude, what was that for?!”
Their eyes turned a bright red and they leapt straight towards him, now out for blood and revenge.
Lilie unsheathed her scimitar, wishing she didn’t have to fight. “Why did you attack them?!”
“They were charging towards us!” Boris explained, dodging swift jabs from the apes. “I’m not going to just stand there!”
Augusta pulled Boris out of the way with ease and was joined with Elmo, creating a wall between the apes and the party. “We don’t want to fight you!” she reasoned. “You just surprised us!”
One of the gorillas crossed his arms and pointed at the charred remains of his cousin. “Surprised you?! You surprised us with the burning hands wizard guy!”
“You want to talk, we can talk!” another added. “Hand over the wizard first and we’ll beat him to a pulp!”
“We can’t really do that,” Gisella interrupted. “Stop fighting now or we’ll have to use force.”
Lorenz backed off from the front lines, ready to support from behind. “Try to knock them out, they’re intelligent so maybe we can question them.”
It wasn’t getting through to them. Roaring in rage, they charged straight past Elmo and Augusta, aiming only for Boris. Fensal and Wolfram blocked their charge but only became new targets for the enraged apes. With a flurry of rapid jabs, every one of their hits held incredible force, forcing back even Wolfram with a single hit.
From behind, bangles around Augusta’s arm glowed and her fists seemed to teleport with every strike, attacking at multiple angles and knocking out one of the apes. Her movements seemed to blur as her ki flooded her body and enhanced her attacks. Elmo and Wolfram pincered another beast and took him down together with ease.
Fensal rested his pistol on another ape’s head and pulled the trigger, firing a black laser directly into its temple. To his surprise, the monkey only recoiled from the shot, shaking its head, trying to clear it from the impact. It was definitely hurt from the shot, smoke rising from the impacted point, but its skin was tough and resisted the penetration.
“I’ll handle it!” Bustov assured and finished off the wounded beast. His aim was perfect, piercing the weakened point where Fensal shot.
“Thank you, UNITY, for this relic,” Lorenz murmured and the smaller pistol in his hand began to hum.
The ray was silent, a beam of yellow light, and it struck the enemy’s shoulder. A graze was all he needed, even if it didn’t pierce their thick hide, because a shock still coursed throughout its body. Its movements slowed until it completely froze and collapsed; stunned.
Seeing his cousins fall one by one, the remaining gorillas flew into a frenzy and leaped straight into the air. He crashed beside Boris, the force of the landing reverberated through the steel floors, and double-uppercutted with his two arms. In a single strike, he knocked out Boris and caught him in midair, almost crushing him with pure strength. Landing away from the party, he tipped his imaginary hat, and turned to leave with the dirty cousin killer.
“Huh?!” Lilie stuttered. “What was that?! Wolfram! Get Boris back!”
Gisella was the first to take action. Two massive hands formed from her telekinetic powers and grabbed hold of Boris, struggling to pry him out of the ape’s iron grip. It was dangerous, she didn’t want to hurt him but if they didn’t heal him soon he would die. Through the vicious tug-of-war, the telekinetic energy flowed in between the gorilla’s fingers and pried them open just enough for the rest of her energy to slip him out.
“Lilie!” Gisella cried.
Boris was gently brought to Lilie and her healing magic flowed into him. It didn’t fully close his wounds, but it was enough to heal broken bones and his consciousness returned. As he woke up, his head began to clear and his dragon familiar licked his face, assuring him that the battle was over. The remaining two apes didn’t last long as the party focused their efforts to take them out.
“Ouch,” Boris murmured. “Thanks, is that all of them?”
“Yes,” Lorenz replied. He thanked Bustov for his minor healing so that he could save his own power. “That was a surprise. We aren’t making friends anymore.”
Augusta massaged her shoulder and twirled her wrists. “I like these bangles! Teleporting strikes; the relics in this spaceship are amazing!”
“You should thank UNITY for such blessings we do not deserve!” Lorenz reminded.
After recuperating from the quick battle, working together to bandage wounds or use magic, their attention was now split between the apes they had knocked out and the elevator. They weren’t sure why they knocked five of the apes and stunned the last one but now they had to do something before they woke up.
“Alright, I’ll burn up five and we’ll leave one left,” Boris decided and prepared to cook them.
“We already killed two, I don’t think we can have a normal conversation with them anymore,” Fensal agreed. “Bustov, I think you and I should-”
Bustov walked straight into the elevator, ignoring the apes entirely. Almost as soon as he entered the door shut, a light above the lift turned red, and the tube instantly took him out of sight. He was moving so fast, the entire tube echoed with the speed and wind traveling around the tube as it took him down to the next level.
Within seconds, the tube slammed against the bottom of the next floor and opened up, beeping and reminding Bustov to mind the gap between the elevator and the new level. He cautiously walked out, nocking an arrow into his bow, and prepared to meet any threat. He recoiled from the putrid smell; the entire room reeked of filth and a strange clicking of bugs echoed from the trash. Six bugs pulled themselves out of the garbage, like cockroaches, the size of people, standing and talking like humans.
“Hello?” Bustov greeted. “Freakish cockroaches… sheesh… they’re big.”
They dragged spears fashioned from scraps of steel and they’re antenna twitched, sensing the new meal. Over and over again, through clicks and clacks, he could only make out one word that was endlessly repeated: food.
The elevator whooshed all the way back up, stopped right in front of the party, and opened up, beeping as the light turned green.
“Uh, where’s Bustov?” Fensal asked.
The whole party went on high alert, trying to figure out who should go in first. Bustov went in and didn’t come back, he had to be on the next level but it would take time before they could reach him.
“I’ll go first,” Fensal volunteered and went to take the lead.
“Gisella, you should go,” Boris decided. “You can help Bustov with your telekinesis.”
She nodded and walked into the tube. The light turned red, the door shut, and it rocketed her all the way down. Within seconds she was able to join him against the cockroaches which eyed him cautiously. They skittered around the room, waiting for a chance to attack, analysing Bustov’s movements.
“Don’t worry!” he assured her. A circle of light formed at his feet and a scintilla of protection formed around him and the elevator. “This will protect us against these fiends!
The roaches screeched and teleported towards him as they moved. Passing right through the scintilla, their spears missed by inches as he sidestepped them and was forced out of the circle.
“They are not fiends then!”
One of the roaches clicked its claws together and its antenna glowed a faint pink, shooting a mind beam straight for Bustov. It pierced through his defenses and attacked his brain, but he managed to push through the pain and resist the attack.
Gisella countered with her own mind attack and lifted one of the roaches pressuring Bustov, slamming it straight into the trash from where it came from.
The elevator shot straight back up and awaited its second passenger.
Fensal was ready this time. “I can-“
“Elmo is next, then me,” Augusta explained. “This is a pain!”
Elmo was quick to obey and entered the lift. Thankfully the elevator was as fast as it was or the situation could have been much worse. It hit the bottom, warned him to watch his step, and revealed the next floor.
The single-man elevator was working against them. Bustov was struggling to fight off the roach-people while countering with his bow. Gisella locked two down with her telekinetic power but the bugs constantly evaded her shots and she was afraid to hit Bustov in the fray. Understanding the situation, Elmo flipped out his axe, dual wielded with a dagger, and supported Bustov, tearing apart the bugs and creating some space to breathe. He split the aggression between them and made the battle easier to control. But a roach that was distancing himself from the fight charged another mind blast and this time, struck Bustov right on the head, knocking him out as his brain was jarred.
Augusta joined the chaos and realized the severity of the situation. Pulling a potion out of her belt, she rushed to Bustov as Elmo covered for her, knowing the plan and in total sync. Gisella crushed another roach on the roof with her power and the hand reached for another target to flail. Augusta slid beside him and popped open the potion, pouring the healing liquid into his mouth. It wasn’t much but it was enough to get him back on his feet, the risk of death averted.
Up above, Boris opened a healing potion himself, wanting to be fully healed before he went down to join the rest.
“Don’t heal!” Lorenz interrupted. “We should save our potions and use my magic instead.”
He nodded, understanding the reasoning. “Alright, let’s heal up and-”
“Meet me downstairs.”
Lorenz entered the elevator, waved goodbye, and it took him towards the ensuing battle.
“I’ll go last, I guess,” Fensal sighed.
By the time Lorenz got to the bottom, the fight was over. The cockroach people had all been killed save one left for questioning. They had the ability to shoot mind bullets, they were surely intelligent. If any information about the level could be pried out of them, it would serve to be valuable. Soon, Fensal and Boris were able to go down and the party was reunited.
Lorenz bowed his head in prayer and the wounded gathered around him. A wave of golden light flooded the room and the pain subsided, replaced by comfort and tranquility. Any damage they had sustained vanished within the radiant light.
“Wow,” Gisella thanked. “That’s powerful healing.”
Lorenz seemed just as surprised as everyone else. “I didn’t even think it would be that good!”
They approached the remaining roach they had tied with thick rope so that it couldn’t get out. Its antenna was snapped so it couldn’t charge anymore mind blasts, and the weapon was thrown far away. Completely defenseless, Lilie sat beside the bug and closed her eyes, trying to understand the clicks and clacks it was making. She translated everything it said. Well, as best she could.
“Why did you invade Punkey Brewster’s home?!” the roach whined.
“Who’s home?” Gisella repeated.
“Waaaaah! You destroyed Punkey Brewster’s wonderful trash home!”
“Calm down please,” Lilie sighed.
After struggling to stop the screaming bug, they were finally able to question it for information. Which wasn’t a lot, but it was something to go off of. These creatures, identifying themselves as croachlings, seemed to have lived in this garbage dump for generations. They had closed themselves off in this room and have happily lived amongst the garbage. The roachling pointed at the doors welded shut, forged of skymetal, nigh-unbreakable material. In fact, the whole ship was created out of it. But the doors she had pointed to were welded shut.
“So, croachling-” Augusta began but was rudely interrupted.
“Punkey Brewster!” the roachling cried.
“My name is Punkey Brewster!”
Gisella paused the conversation before it could get out of hand. “Look, Punkey, we’re looking for something called a manufactorum. You live in this place, do you know where or what it is?”
Gisella tried to search for the right words, clearly overestimating the intelligence of the croachling. “It’s the… um…”
Augusta attempted to dumb it down to her level. “The bloop-bleep machine?”
The outcome was surprising to say the least. “Oh, bloop-bleep machine!” Punkey pointed towards the welded door. “Past there!”
Augusta felt a little proud after finding a way to talk to the croachling. “Do you know how to get out?”
“Out? We stay inside and hide from the bloop-bleep machine.”
“Try the weird talk again,” Bustov suggested.
“For something that can shoot mind blasts, it isn’t very smart.” Augusta tried making figures with her hand. “Uh… We find bloop machine and make stuff. You know where?”
Punkey stared at her with disdain in her eyes. “You think Punkey Brewster is dumb? Why talk like idiot? You idiot?”
Elmo held back Augusta from killing the croachling on the spot.
“Calm down,” Gisella assured. She turned to Punkey and, after thinking for a moment, thought of another way to convey her point across. “Something that makes weapons. Do you know where it is?”
“Ooooh, weapons!” Punkey pointed at one of the trash spears, steel forks crudely tied to the end. “Yes, Punkey Brewster makes weapons!”
“Er, no, something that makes good weapons.”
“What? Punkey Brewster makes amazing weapons! Do you see craftsmanship of spear?”
Gisella resisted the urge to throw Punkey to the other side of the room.
Fensal chuckled and began to search the room for anything useful. “Heh, let’s try to find something that could actually help.”
Augusta pulled out a bright red rifle, a cylinder filled with liquid flame ran along the side. It was hot to the touch and, despite being found in garbage, it was still in a working condition.
“Oh, give it here!” Lorenz commanded, excited to get his hands on a relic from UNITY. “Don’t shoot it, you’re going to break it! You have no respect for such precious gifts!” She passed him the gun and he fiddled with it a bit, marveling at the design and the liquid fire. “Let’s see what this is… It seems different from a normal laser gun.”
He pointed it up towards the ceiling and pulled the trigger. The liquid cylinder flashed and swirled at blinding speeds until it turned white hot. Out of the barrel a concentrated flame shot out like that of a blow torch, burning at a constant rate and permanent rate. Its blue flame was so hot that the heat made it blur but the gun remained strangely cool to the touch. Lorenz turned it off, then on, then off, and on again, playing with it like a new toy. He tested the heat against the skymetal floors and, sure enough, it began to melt as the blue flames came into contact. Turning it off, he got familiar with it, spinning it around him, imagining he was someone he wasn’t.
“Ohohohoho!” Lorenz was excited but remembered his place. “Praise be to UNITY!”
“Can you use it to open the welded door?” Boris wondered.
“Give it a shot,” Fensal chuckled.
A metallic banging on the door interrupted their glee and the laughter was sucked out of the room. Before they even had time to decide the next action, Punkey began to scream and roll on the floor.
“Nooooooo!” she cried. “It always comes back here!”
“What does?!” Augusta interrogated. “What is it?!”
“It’s the bloop-bleep machine! It’s going to clean my garbage!”
“Oh, it’s fine then.”
Augusta put two and two together and figured the machine on the other side could be friendly.
“It’s going to clean your rubbish?” Lilie repeated, not quite figuring out what Augusta did.
“It’s probably a cleaner,” Augusta informed.
Punkey began to wail louder and louder, it was almost comedical. “The smart metal will take away the home!”
“It’s a robot,” Gisella deduced. “I thought it might be a more intelligent lifeform.”
Augusta assured the party that the danger was fake. “Guys, it’s just going to clean, it’s harmless.”
The banging on the door grew louder and harder.
“Protect me please!”
Gisella and Lilie were joined by Fensal as they tried to deduce what was on the other side. Bleep-bloop doesn’t help but smart metal meant it was definitely a machine. The croachlings welded the doors shut to hide from this robot, so it was a dangerous one. The banging was now constant and hard, but the skymetal doors would not budge. Still, they were trapped within this room until Lorenz melted them out and dealing with whatever was out there could be dangerous.
Augusta lost her patience and interrupted the entire thinking session. “It’s just a cleaner! It’s going to come in! And clean up Punkey’s home which is just garbage! It’s probably just a maid of some sort!”
A robotic voice on the other side, designed to sound like a young woman, called out to them. “Housekeeping.”
Lorenz slowly approached the door and activated what he called now his thermal gun-blade. He slowly melted the sides of the entrance until he separated it from the wall, creating a molten line of melted skymetal. As soon as there was enough give, the door was knocked down by the robot and it rolled into the room.
On one wheel, the blockly robot, dressed to look like a maid, entered the room and took a look around. Without moving, its head did a full 360 and scanned the new level. Its happy blue eyes blinked and turned crimson as it raised its arms. Out of one a flamethrower was locked into place and on the other, a pristine buzzsaw.
“Completely filthy!” it exclaimed. “Utterly disgusting! I can’t clean this! It must be purified entirely!”
Before the maid could annihilate the room, Augusta waved her hands, drawing its attention, begging it to wait.
“Hold on! We aren’t trash! Go ahead and clean the room but can we leave first?!”
The maid paused for a moment, did another scan, then its eyes returned to blue and it gave a quick bow. “I am sorry, I was mistaken. Please, exit this way quickly.”
Not wanting to mess with this killer maid any longer, the party hastily followed orders, dragging Punkey Brewster with them despite her calls to spare her poor trash heap. To no one’s surprise, the new room was clean, almost shined to a sparkle as the maid did her duty. But starting in the trash heap required complete extermination. She clicked out the flamethrower and the fire roared out, annihilating everything as the buzzsaw began to split even steel.
Deciding against asking the maid for information, the party decided to search the new room while Gisella sketched a new map for the level. Nothing of interest could be found in what seemed like a kitchen filled with destroyed remains of other robots. A few appliances remained in working condition, most noticeably the fridge which was still cold inside. Knives, the blades of a blender, a broken microwave, it was easy to assume that this was once where people had lived and cooked meals.
What really caught their attention was not this room but a blue light leaking beneath a door leading to a different place. Luckily enough, this skymetal door was not welded and was easily opened, its hinges devoid of even a slight amount of rust. It revealed what seemed like a control room, a panel lining the edge of the room, glowing buttons begging to be pressed. Giving life to the mechanical design was a potted plant, a little bit of nature to brighten the room, and a hot cup of coffee.
As the rest of the team rushed over to the control panel, eager to learn more from this new piece of tech, Fensal, Bustov, and Lorenz stayed at the back, watching the potted plant. Lilie grabbed the cup of coffee, gagged, and put it back down, but the plant seemed to turn towards it as if it was the sun.
“That coffee,” Fensal murmured.
“You’re going to drink it?” Lorenz asked.
Bustov thought for a moment, knelt down to the floor and began to gather pieces of steel. “Hahaha, I won’t drink the coffee.” He flipped the jagged pipe in the air, only one uneven side was flat, clearly chosen on purpose as a joke. “Unless this lands on its head.”
A loud clang snapped the attention of the party and they turned to see a pipe on its side and Bustov pretending to be sad.
“But what if, though?” Lorenz laughed and flipped it again.
Sure enough, the pipe landed on its head, standing straight up.
Bustov and Fensal smacked his back, practically pushing him towards the coffee. “It is what it is! Time to get a good swig of it!”
Fensal picked up the mug and handed it to Lorenz. “You lost! Time to drink it!”
“What are the chances?” Lorenz chuckled. Excited yet afraid, he took the mug. Taking a deep breath, he tipped it all the way back and drank the entire cup in one go.
It sure wasn’t just coffee. Lorenz swayed a little bit, almost losing his balance, but then suddenly stood up straight, shaking violently. He was unstable, the coffee did not sit well with him, and began dashing around the room at rapid speeds. The potted plant began to grow larger and larger, hooked vines sprouting out from the side, and an orange flower bloomed, sucking in bright yellow particles from the air. Before anyone moved, Lorenz leapt straight for it, completely overcome by coffee induced madness, and activated the thermal gun-blade. With wild abandon, he attacked from random angles, too hyper to stand still in one place for too long. The blade cut straight through and incinerated its tentacles, but the stalk itself seemed to resist some of the flame.
He was moving so fast, the coffee allowed him to see a second ahead, knowing what was going to happen. It wasn’t pretty when the vision showed him getting disintegrated by the flower. Aiming for the bloom, the thermal blade struck where the condensed energy was and stunned the plant, delaying the molecular disruption beam.
“WA-TA!” Lorenz screamed, practically bouncing now. “I AM SPEEEEEEED! YOU CAN’T TOUCH THIIIIIIIIS!”
The tentacle lashed out and proceeded to strike a weak point in his armor, biting into the flesh and siphoning blood out.
Elmo was the first to react to the threat and attempted to cut it down with his axe, swinging with all his might. But the stem could resist even the thermal blade and the attack bounced right off. Normal weapons could hardly deal damage to the plant and even fire couldn’t fully cut it.
Fensal created a crimson string between Lorenz’s blade and the stalk of the potted plant. “Give it all you’ve got!”
Lorenz didn’t care about defense anymore and charged straight for the enemy. “WOOOOOOOOO!”
The lights in the room began to flash and spark, erratically timed with how hyper Lorenz was at any given moment. Flying across the room, he severed the plant in half, praising UNITY for coffee as he did so, and slammed right into the wall on the other side. The plant slowly turned to dust, writhing and flailing as it did so until nothing remained. The lights stopped flashing, the fight had ended, and Lorenz was fast asleep upside down on the floor.
“What just happened?” Lilie asked.
“We played a game and Lorenz lost,” Bustov explained, running over to heal Lorenz of his wounds.
“Should we retreat?” Gisella proposed. “We’re low on resources at the moment and…” The whirring and burning sounds of the maid were accompanied by her singing a cleaning song. “I don’t feel comfortable resting with that on this level.”
“Sure, just give me a moment,” Boris agreed, fiddling with the terminal.
He managed to click the right set of buttons, getting a good grasp on what means what, and pulled up three screens hovering in the air. Two showed images of what the manufactorum looked like while one showed more details. But the key one was the location.
“Level six!” Augusta realized.
“And we’re on three,” Fensal reminded. “Halfway there. I still agree with Gisella, coming back here will be easier now that we know the way.”
“I’ll carry Lorenz,” Bustov chuckled.
Gisella closed her book and packed it in her bag. “Everything is mapped, we can head back.”
Planning to tackle the ship after regrouping and resting, they headed back without any trouble, Lorenz fast asleep the whole way there.
Banner art BarbecuedIguana.
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